This month, it’s Plastic Free July. The campaign encourages us all to do our bit to curb plastic pollution, helping the world’s wildlife – and ourselves. Microplastics are a growing problem, turning up in our food, soil, water – even the air we breathe. With so many of us now working from home, we wanted to share our top tips on reducing plastic in our home offices.
Avoid buying new – upcycle, look for second-hand or lease
Although recycling gets lots of attention, reducing our demand for plastic products – either by buying second hand or upcycling something we already have – might just be the greenest option of all. It gives items another lease of life, potentially keeping waste products out of landfill (or the oceans), and prevents another plastic item being made.
The options are endless. Desks, shelves and office chairs can be bought second-hand online from places like Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace, or specialist office recycling companies (such as Recycled Office Solutions, in the UK). For smaller storage, everyday items like mugs, jars and boxes can all be repurposed to store pens, paperclips or papers.
Companies like Rype even lease out office furniture. When you no longer need an item, they refurbish it to be used again.
But sometimes, we all need to buy new office equipment and supplies. When that happens, the following list might spark some plastic-free (and low carbon) ideas:
Think about product life-cycle
- For laptop stands, try a wood or plywood option like the Fliostand. It might cost more than plastic, but looks much nicer (we think!) and won’t end up in landfill.
- Look out for desks in materials like wood or metal – they can eventually be recycled. Office chairs can be trickier, but there are options made from partly recycled materials or designed to be recycleable at the end of their lifespan.
- Need some new desk storage? There are loads of lovely options in ceramic, wood, card or bamboo.
Seek out plastic-free office supplies
- Does your printer paper arrive wrapped in plastic? Try the Woodland Trust for recycled paper in paper packaging.
- Instead of plastic ring-binders and folders, look items made from card or cardboard. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo means you know any new paper or card has come from sustainable sources.
- Replacing your stapler? Try one in metal for a longer life-span and greater recycle-ability.
- Even packaging materials like glue or tape can be plastic free.
- Check out our list of suppliers at the end of the article.
A plastic free cuppa
- A surprising number of tea-bags use polypropylene, a type of plastic, to seal the bags. Some brands offer plastic-free options, such as PG Tips, Clipper and some teas from Twinings and Aldi. This article from Country Living gives the lowdown on plastic free tea.
- Another option is to swap to loose-leaf tea. Or if you’ve got green fingers, you could even try growing your own herbal teas (mint or camomile are both happy growing in a pot).
- Coffee drinker? Look out for compostable pods, like those from Grind.
Plastic free clean-up
- Swap wipes and cleaning sponges (which typically contain plastics or other materials that don’t biodegrade) for cloth.
- More and more supermarkets are stocking refillable cleaning supplies, which you can keep in old containers or glass jars.
- Lunch time? Food waste can go into biodegradeable bin bags available from places like Ethical Superstore. Some councils will then collect your food waste – or you could compost it yourself at home if you have an outdoor space or room for a worm bin.
Recycle wisely, or donate what you don’t need
- However hard we try, some plastic inevitably finds its way into our home offices. In the UK, the Recycle Now website lets you find the nearest location to recycle tricky items such as printer cartridges: www.recyclenow.com/what-to-do-with
- Keep unwanted office furniture and equipment out of landfill: sell it on, donate to charity, or send it to a company like ClearWorkSpace, which can make sure old office furniture gets recycled properly.
Suppliers to help you cut the plastic out of your home work-space:
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