Even office workers that have yet to embrace the ideals of green living are aware of the fact that recycling exists, especially if you’ve decided to set up bins around the office to remind them that there’s an alternative to throwing everything in the trash. But aside from reusing scrap paper, sending toner cartridges in for refills, and reusing or recycling other supplies, you might not know which items in your building can go green on their way out the door (or better yet, find a second life within your walls). So here are some office items that you might not normally consider recyclable and how you can keep them out of the landfill.
You probably already recycle the usual suspects, like paper products of every stripe, disposable plastics from the break room, and any other metal or plastic items that come and go frequently. But if you’re focusing your efforts solely on office supplies you could be missing a lot. In truth, you might even be passing over supplies that could be recycled or reused. A good way to ensure that every item gets maximum usage is to set up a reusable closet for items like binders, clipboards, pens, pencils, paper clips, and even paper. However, you might also look to rarely recycled items to see what you can do with them. If you’re not sure what to do with items like old markers and empty tape dispensers, try contacting 1800recycling.com. You might be surprised by what they’ll take.
But what about the rest of the office? Aside from supplies, what can be reused or recycled? In truth, almost everything. Let’s start with the items that make it look like an office: desks, chairs, and computer equipment. Since you probably don’t have old-school furnishings like hardwood desks and chairs or metal filing cabinets, your best bet if you want to outfit the space with new furnishings is to sell or donate these items so that they can enjoy a second life elsewhere. And while you’re at it, you might try to find new furnishings made from reclaimed or recycled materials.
As for computer equipment, you should know that it’s not only bad for the environment to throw it away; it’s actually illegal to dispose of e-waste. Luckily, there are some options for the office manager that decides it’s time to upgrade to new computers, printers, or other electronics. For items that are still usable, all you have to do is wipe the hard drives and donate them to an organization like Goodwill that passes along electronics to people in need. This can also be done with outdated cell phones (many providers have recycling programs). And equipment that can’t be reused can definitely be recycled via e-waste drop-off locations or pickup by your local trash service (where it will be broken down for parts that can be recycled).
Of course, you can also recycled oddball items like batteries and light bulbs, you do away with disposable dishware and outfit your break room with reusable ceramics, and you might even consider recycling carpeting and fixtures if you’re doing a major overhaul of your office space. But keep in mind that you can do even more by using recycled items around the office, as well, starting with supplies like paper and even toilet paper, all the way up to reclaimed flooring, cabinets, surfaces, fixtures, and furnishings. A remodel of your office space can put a strain on your small business checking account, but opting for reused, recycled, and reclaimed items may help to reduce the strain on your business budget and on the Earth.