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Can Waste Management Reduce Your Carbon Footprint?

Reducing your carbon footprint, whether at work or home, is a relatively easy thing to do. Not only is it good for the environment, but it can also help to save you time, money and effort; particularly if everyone pulls together. Here’s how waste generation could affect the size of your carbon footprint.

Green recycle sign carbon footprint

How your waste generation affects your carbon footprint

If your company generates copious amounts of waste, and it’s not disposed of responsibly or correctly, then the impact it can have on the environment could be massive. Your irresponsibly disposed waste could result in:

High levels of pollution – landfill waste can, if not dealt with properly, release a pollutant called leachate into nearby groundwater, thus having a detrimental effect on plants and animals living in the surrounding areas. Sadly, increased levels of waste generation can increase the chances of leachate pollution

Lack of biodiversity – landfill sites are easily filled and so new locations for the creation of additional landfill sites are needed. As such, forests could be torn down, lakes drained or greenbelt land flattened to accommodate this. As a result, animals and plants will lose habitats, displacing them for the foreseeable future. This could even lead to the extinction of certain species, particularly if the process is continued. 

An increased amount of litter – lightweight materials which cannot/have not been recycled could end up being blown into oceans, woodland or other natural areas. Plastic bags and food wrappers are some of the most common items to end up in the ocean, which will then break down over an extremely long period of time. As the materials break down into smaller pieces, they can be ingested by marine life, resulting in health deteriorations or even death.

A pest control problem – landfill sites draw in a variety of different animals, insects and other pests. Not only will they stay in and around the area where the landfill site is located, but they could also venture out to nearby homes or businesses, leaving you with an infestation. 

Recycling and waste reduction

Mixed recycling consisting of cans and plastic bottles

Recycling is a key part of waste reduction, and subsequently, it’s an effective way of reducing your carbon footprint. However, it’s often believed that recycling alone isn’t enough to make a difference to the environment. There are other, often very simple, ways in which waste can be reduced in the workplace, including:

  • Using both sides of the paper
  • Shredding or reusing paper
  • Reusing boxes
  • Avoiding printing in colour
  • Buying paper which is chlorine-free or made from an alternative material, such as bamboo, hemp or organic cotton
  • Creating a policy whereby your employees have a paper allowance – this will encourage employees to go paperless
  • Emailing memos around the workplace
  • Storing large documents (such as employee handbooks) online
  • Installing hand dryers as opposed to paper towels
  • Altering margin settings so the printer uses less paper
  • Buying used office supplies (such as tables and drawers)
  • Purchasing second-hand photocopiers and printers
  • Switching to energy-saving light bulbs
  • Turning off lights when not in use
  • Shutting computers and other electrical equipment down when not in use

3 Ways you could benefits from reducing waste in the office

  1. You will save money
  2. You’ll be complying with waste regulations (depending on the industry you work in)
  3. You’ll be lowering your carbon footprint

Ways to reduce your carbon footprint

There are many steps that can be taken to reduce your carbon footprint, whether you’re a homeowner or a business owner, you can incorporate the following tips into your everyday life. From learning about the 5 R’s to buying local produce, we can all get onboard with environmentally friendly ways of living and working.

Learn about and implement the 5 R’s

These are fairly simple to remember:

  • Refuse – refrain from using single use plastics and paper
  • Reduce – be more mindful of what you buy and what you actually use (such as food)
  • Reuse – buy reusable products or repair and upcycle existing, worn out products
  • Rot – establish a compost heap and throw food scraps and old fruit and veg on it
  • Recycle – if you have acquired a recyclable material that cannot be reused, recycle it

Encourage and take part in cycle schemes and car share incentives

Cycle schemes and car shares can work well when everyone works together to encourage these incentives. Whether you give a prize to the person who has cycled the furthest or reward someone who has cycled into work an impressive number of times, this should entice others to get involved to be in with a chance of winning a prize.

Employers could also offer a monetary incentive for car sharing, perhaps paying for a certain amount of petrol or simply offering prizes. Slowly but surely, you’ll find your employees will be more than happy to opt for a more environmentally friendly commute.

Do your best to conserve water

This can be done both at home and in the workplace. Tips for conserving water at home include:

  • Turning the tap off when you brush your teeth or shave
  • Turning the shower off when applying shampoo and body wash, or when shaving
  • Don’t flush things down the toilet to get rid of them – it could waste between 5-7 gallons of water
  • Have a bath instead of a shower – this method won’t use nearly as much water as a ten minute shower
  • Don’t set off the dishwasher unless you have a full load
  • Only use your washing machine for full loads
  • Don’t keep the tap running when cleaning vegetables
  • Don’t keep the taps running when washing dishes by hand

Tips for conserving water in the workplace include:

  • Install low-flow toilets and water-efficient urinals
  • Regularly check taps and toilets for leaks
  • Put up some signs to encourage workers turn the tap off when lathering hands with soap
  • Install taps which only run for a certain amount of time, turning off automatically
  • Educate your employees about the importance of water conservation
  • Install water-efficient dishwashers

Buy food and other items locally

Local food vegetables with chopping board

If your company has a free fruit and veg scheme, or if you have milk delivered on a regular basis, see if any local shops provide a delivery service. Greengrocers and farm shops are more likely than ever to have an online service whereby customers can order produce, much like ordering your shopping from a large supermarket chain.

Greengrocers and farm shops will (typically) be able to provide you with:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Milk
  • Bread
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sugar
  • Jam
  • Fresh fruit juice
  • Biscuits

Other items and services an office would be able to buy locally include:

  • Stationery
  • Printing services
  • Hand washes with natural ingredients (catering for those with different skin types)
  • Coffee (from a local, independent coffee shop)
  • Cards (to send to customers/clients/employees during the Christmas period, for example)

Switch to sustainable energy

Solar sustainable energy

During this time, it’s more common than ever for households and businesses alike to be more environmentally aware, and so many are making the switch to sustainable, or renewable energy sources. These can include:

  • Solar power – production of electricity through conversion on energy from sunlight
  • Solar heating – the process of heating up water through the conversion of sunlight
  • Wind power – wind turbines are used to generate electricity
  • Hydropower – the energy from fast-running or falling water is used to create power
  • Biomass – energy produced from plant material or animal residues
  • Biofuels – fuel created from harvested plants or crops
  • Geothermal – thermal energy stored within the Earth
  • Marine energy – created by tidal/ocean waves and differing ocean temperatures

Reston Waste aims to recycle 100% of the waste we collect. With a dedicated team on hand to help, you can always rely on our safe and responsible waste management. For more information, or to learn more about our waste transfer and recovery facility or waste removal services, get in touch with us today – we operate throughout London and the surrounding areas.

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