For many of us in Australia, lockdowns have become an all-too-familiar occurrence, and lockdowns tend to bring with them the requirement to work from home. It's not all bad news, though - working from home is a bit of a blessing in disguise when it comes to sustainable living. It's easy to be eco-friendly when you're in the comfort of your own home, surrounded by your various reusable items and away from the threat of disposable coffee cups and fast food outlets.
But for those who have been lucky enough to escape the lockdowns and continue to attend the office (and for those of us looking at returning to office life for at least part of the week in future), it can be a challenge to maintain your sustainable lifestyle habits in an office environment.
We've put together a handy list of tips to help you ace sustainable living in your workplace:
TIP 1: Be prepared for ad-hoc lunchtime shopping trips
If you work in the CBD or near a shopping centre, it can be so easy to be lured towards the shops on your lunch break. To avoid getting caught out without a shopping bag, employ the 'rule of three' - keep one reusable shopping bag in your backpack or handbag, one in your desk drawer and one in your car, if you drive to work. You'll never get caught out on a lunchtime shopping trip again! A reusable shopping bag in your desk drawer can also come in handy in situations where you need to bring papers or files home from work.
Image: Shopping bags available from The Simple Sustainable Store
TIP 2: Get your office on board with the zero waste movement
Terracycle have recently started up a Zero Waste Box Program. The program involves the purchase by workplaces of one or more 'zero waste boxes' which act as collection points for the waste streams that are problematic for your business. The range of available zero waste boxes is huge, and includes anything from disposable garments (perfect for medical practices and hospitals) to e-waste, to pens and pencils. Once the box is full, it can be shipped off to Terracycle who save the items from landfill and make them into new things. Talk to your facilities team or office manager about implementing this initiative in your workplace. The full range of available zero waste boxes can be found at this link.
TIP 3: Double up your (reusable) coffee cup
Let's face it, in an ideal world, we would always remember to bring our reusable coffee cup to work on the days we are in the office, and would always remember to bring it home on weekends and WFH days - but no one wants to be lugging their cup to and from work all the time. Keeping an additional reusable coffee up at work means that you don't have to worry about being stuck without a reusable cup at work, and having to use a dreaded disposable cup in order to get your caffeine hit.
Image: JOCO Coffee Cup, 12oz, available from The Simple Sustainable Store
TIP 4: Bring your lunch from home
Takeaway food packaging is a huge contributor to landfill. Bringing your lunch from home is a good way to save money, eat healthier and more wholesome foods, and avoid unnecessary packaging at the same time. That being said, we get it - you're busy, and sometimes it's just not feasible to pack your own lunch.
In those situations, try to choose takeaway options with less packaging, and refuse the plastic cutlery if you are taking your lunch back to the office to eat it. It can also be handy to keep your own portable reusable cutlery set in your desk drawer, which you can take with you if eating your takeaway lunch in a park or food court.
Image: Portable Cutlery Set, available from The Simple Sustainable Store
TIP 5: Make your commute an earth-friendly one
If you live close enough to the office, try getting up a little earlier at least one day per week, and walking in to work, to cut your carbon emissions. If your workplace is too far from your home, consider catching public transport or riding your bike rather than driving to and from work each day.