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FEBRUARY 5, 2020 //     

50 sustainability tips for zero waste in the office

Climate protection, sustainability, living free of plastics - the buzzwords for a better world are becoming increasingly popular. But even on a large scale, responsible use of natural resources is becoming increasingly prevalent. Cities call out the climate emergency and not only draw attention to the topic, they also set specific goals. Whole countries forbid plastic bags, whole continents forbid one-way plastic, and people all over the world demonstrate against climate change.

But we all know: just talking doesn't help. Change begins on a small scale: at home and at work

Climate protection, sustainability, living free of plastics - the buzzwords for a better world are becoming increasingly popular. But even on a large scale, responsible use of natural resources is becoming increasingly prevalent. Cities call out the climate emergency and not only draw attention to the topic, they also set specific goals. Whole countries forbid plastic bags, whole continents forbid one-way plastic, and people all over the world demonstrate against climate change.

But we all know: just talking doesn't help. Change begins on a small scale: at home and at work.

What does zero waste mean anyway?

Zero waste does not mean that from now on no more waste can be produced. Rather, it is about keeping the amount of waste as low as possible and conserving valuable resources. This applies to individual behavior in your own household, but also in the office or at work.

Here are some ideas on how to make everyday work more sustainable and resource-efficient, for example. We have already implemented some things at Allison + Partners, but we still have some room for improvement.

        The way to work

  1. The way to work becomes more environmentally friendly on foot, by bike or skateboard, even if you only cover part of the way.
  2. If you live further away or have customer appointments in the area, you should stick to public transport and use the bus or train.
  3. Some superiors promote a sustainable way to work (e.g. with job tickets for public transport) - just ask!
  4. For other business trips, it is a good idea to also see the train as the first option when choosing the means of transport. It is a good alternative to an airplane, especially on domestic routes.

    The desk

  5. Did you know that there are staplers without staples? You can easily staple up to 10 sheets together.
  6. Instead of highlighters (these often contain harmful ingredients and are made of plastic), you can also use colored pencil markers or refillable water-based fiber pens.
  7. Refillable pens (fountain pens, pens, etc.) are a good way to conserve resources.
  8. Erasers are made of natural rubber as an alternative to the usual rubber-like plastic mass.
  9. Recycled paper hardly differs from newly produced paper and is more sustainable. You can also print / write on both sides of paper. In addition, notes do not have to be handwritten, but can also be noted online, in various apps or programs.
  10. Anyone who prints (internal) prints in Eco mode ensures that the printer cartridge lasts longer.

    The office kitchen

  11. How about meal prep or freshly cooked instead of food-to-go? This not only saves packaging waste, but also saves your wallet.
  12. Reusable to-go containers are worth an investment - for example, we have office boxes in which you can pack the rest of your lunch.
  13. If you cook together with your colleagues, you can buy large packs and save packaging.
  14. Fruit deliveries are a welcome icing on the cake in our everyday agency work. Every Monday at Allison + Partners in Munich there is a large basket of fresh, unpacked organic fruit.
  15. If you rely on coffee beans or powder instead of capsule or pad coffee, you avoid a large amount of waste that can often not be recycled.
  16. Sugar and milk can be provided fresh and not individually packaged - even in meetings.
  17. Much resources are used for meat production, so it is worth reducing meat dishes and paying attention to organic quality. There are four vegetarians and one vegan on our team who set a good example.
  18. We do not use water from plastic bottles and use a water bubbler to make the necessary "blubbs".
  19. Cloth napkins not only look nicer than the paper version, they are also more sustainable.


    The cleaning

  20. Vinegar, soda, citric acid and, if necessary, baking soda or core soap - you don't need a separate cleaning agent for every corner. With these five basic ingredients you can put together all the necessary cleaning agents.
  21. Washing up works perfectly with washable rags, no disposable kitchen towels are required. In addition, there are flushing brushes, where you can easily replace the brush head as soon as it has had its day.
  22. Another big issue is waste separation: in large offices everything ends up in the same bucket. A system for separating plastic, paper, organic, residual and glass / can waste is not that difficult to implement. Some waste can also be collected for a good cause, such as for organizations like Terracycle or Blechwech .

    Mail delivery

  23. Envelopes can be reused as long as you comply with the GDPR and make the name of the original sender unrecognizable. With a note on the envelope such as "for the sake of the environment", it is usually not understood as a low appreciation.
  24. Shredded paper can be ideally used as an alternative to bubble wrap as packaging material. Of course, this is only possible with a GDPR-compliant shredder.
  25. If you use envelopes without a window, professional disposal is easier for the recipient.
  26. Self-moistening stamps contain less pollutants than self-adhesive stamps.


    The power supply

  27. There are energy-saving functions for almost all devices, while the rest can be fitted with time switches that completely separate the device from the circuit. But even without a timer, the devices should not be switched to standby mode in the evening, but switched off.
  28. Archives require data server storage capacity, so you should delete old mails regularly or archive them offline if necessary.
  29. A darker screen background consumes less power than a lighter one. Programs can often be changed easily.
  30. Sustainability is also important when choosing a search engine: Ecosia, for example, plants a tree for every search query.
  31. Rechargeable batteries can be used for battery-operated devices to avoid waste.
  32. LED lighting uses less electricity than halogen lamps or even classic incandescent lamps. The exchange is also worthwhile because of their longer lifespan.
  33. When nobody is in the room: lights off, heating off, windows closed!
  34. If you use the stairs instead of the elevator, you save energy on the one hand - on the other hand you do something for your fitness.
  35. For hot summer days: fans require less energy than air conditioning.

    The purchase

  36. It is better to rarely make large purchases than to buy small quantities more often. In addition, local and regional products often have the smaller carbon footprint.
  37. If you don't want to do without the convenient delivery service, you should choose a single supplier who can supply all the products you need. There are also sustainable mail order companies like Memo or Manomeer .
  38. Second-hand is the way to keep mountains of garbage small. Ebay classifieds is a real treasure trove - and up-cycling can give the office a very individual touch.

    The sanitary area

  39. Wherever possible, you should avoid hot water or use instantaneous water heaters that only produce hot water when it is really needed.
  40. According to studies, solid soap is just as hygienic as liquid soap, but it requires less chemical resources - and less packaging.
  41. What applies to serviettes is also true for towels: washing instead of throwing away saves garbage.
  42. By the way, toilet paper made from recycled paper is also available in satisfactory quality.


    The meeting

  43. An energy-efficient projector saves electricity and is therefore very valuable from an ecological perspective.
  44. A magnetic whiteboard can be written on again and again and is generally preferable to flipchart or pinboard paper.
  45. Handouts via PDF are a good alternative to paper documents.

    The business trip

  46. The A du O: One should first consider whether the trip can not be replaced by a video conference.
  47. The CO2 consumed for the arrival and departure can be  offset through projects such as Atmosfair .
  48. Anyone who spends the necessary nights in organic hotels is also doing good, because these hotels pay particular attention to sustainability.

    The company event

  49. The activities for company outings should be taken very deliberately: archery instead of paintball, trampoline park instead of karting, museum visit instead of art workshop. This means that fewer resources are used, such as paint, fuel or electricity.
  50. Decoration and information stands can be used for trade fair appearances, which can be reused at other trade fairs. Anyone who pays attention to timeless formulations on brochures and print material can use them in the long term.

Our concrete result:

In our self-assessment, we found that we are already implementing 27 of these 50 best practices, especially in the kitchen. However, there is still a lot to do. Next we want to devote more attention to the topic of power supply.

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