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Environmental Sustainability

National Recycling Day: Time to Reevaluate Office Recycling

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Jeff Gapinski

A man holding a green recycling bin

November 15th is National Recycling Day, and unlike National Chocolate Covered Cashews Day or International Talk Like a Pirate Day, it’s one that we proudly recognize and celebrate at Bevi HQ (not that we’d discourage you from going nuts on NCCC Day if that’s your jam). 

As an organization that’s helped offices all over the country save the equivalent of 200 million plastic bottles, we have no shortage of reasons to promote this holiday. It’s a day aimed to encourage Americans to purchase recycled products when possible and to be more conscientious about what they’re doing with recyclable materials once they’re through with them—to reduce, reuse, and recycle if you will—and that’s at the core of what Bevi was created to help do.

As we’ve cited before, over 50 billion plastic water bottles are sold each year, and each bottle takes more than 400 years to biodegrade. Even worse, the amount of plastic waste dumped into our oceans is estimated to exceed 8 million tons each year. Every office that makes the pledge to cut down on plastic with a sustainable water dispenser and properly recycle the materials they do use helps to stem the tide. 

Obstacles to recycling

The triangular recycling symbol is iconic. It’s our go-to guide for deciding what’s recyclable and what’s not. Did you know, though, that according to The New York Times, “any product can display the sign, even if it isn’t recyclable?” The good news is that California is leading the charge on changing this, and similar legislation in Oregon, Maine, and New York is underway. The California law would “ban companies from using the arrows symbol unless they can prove the material is in fact recycled in most California communities, and is used to make new products.”

Even without deception, there are plenty of reasons that we don’t recycle as much as we should. It’s not as convenient as the trash cans that are on every corner. When it is convenient, the rules about what we can recycle are still opaque. And even if it makes one person feel good about their habits, how much difference can they make in the grand scheme of things?

While it may not seem like one person can recycle a consequential amount, getting your neighbors or your coworkers involved definitely adds up. With Bevi, for example, one office can save about 30,000 bottles a year. Here are some other ways you can improve recycling and avoid mistakes at your office.

Recycling reminders for your office

We’ve previously compiled a more comprehensive list of tips for better recycling at work, but today’s a good day to share some of the most effective ones.

Guidelines will vary from region to region so get familiar with what’s accepted curbside near you and what office supplies might require disposal at a special facility (e.g. light bulbs or e-waste like computers and smartphones).

Generally, the higher the number inside the recycling symbol on a plastic bottle, the less likely it is to be accepted at your recycling center. Numbers 1 and 2 are most common and usually safe to put in your curbside recycling, but anything higher should be double-checked. 

Before you add anything new to your office, take a moment to think about its environmental impact. If you can, shop for sustainable office supplies. Washable cloth towels in place of paper towels, for example, is a great place to start.

We also find that a little positive reinforcement goes a long way in our office. Something as simple as placing a recycling bin next to every trash can or keeping a list or photo of commonly recycled items in the kitchen area can help employees make the decision to sort and recycle instead of the easier option of trashing.

Unsure if something should be recycled? Consult a resource like earth911.com to get more information on the item in question, and make sure you’re not “wish-cycling” something just because you’re hoping it can be recycled. 

A day to make a difference

While the majority of these “national” days are just for fun, National Recycling Day is one we really care about. We’re on a mission to unbottle the future, and we’re planning to take that mission as far as possible one office at a time. We hope our recycling reminders inspire you to check up on the ways you can improve the recycling program at your own office, and if we can be of any help to get you and your coworkers into the sustainable spirit, let us know!

As always, join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn so we can see what you’re doing to celebrate National Recycling Day!

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Jeff Gapinski

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