A popular way of maintaining our wellbeing with lockdowns, shutdowns, and working from home is just getting outside. A study by Danish urban research firm, Gehl, reflects this new attraction to nature. One study respondent commented, “People seem to be using greenspace and outdoor space more than pre-outbreak — but now, even more so, it is a release, an escape, some sanity, some wellness.”
A good walk spoiled
With this growing popularity comes a lot of our trash. The litter that registers as invisible when we drive by becomes all too noticeable at the tamer pace of a leisurely walk around the block. A plastic shopping bag lodged at the base of a hedge. Old bottles, cans, and other trash along the curb.
Much of this waste finds its way to streams, rivers and other waterways, and eventually to the oceans. However, researchers in Germany found that one third of all plastic waste ends up in the ground or in freshwater. Most of this is unintentional. The Center for Outdoor Ethics found 9 out of 10 people in the outdoors are uninformed about how they may adversely affect the environment.
Growing awareness of impact on greenspaces
Good news. There are indications that more people are aware of their impact on the greenspaces, woodlands, waterways and oceans that offer us much needed solace. For example, the program Plastic Free July, has been working since 2011 to help create a world free of plastic waste. In 2020, they saw their highest level of engagement with 326 million people participating in the Plastic Free July challenge. That’s up 100 million from the year before.
How to maintain serenity and sustainable greenspace
More good news. It’s not hard to build on the success of initiatives like Plastic Free July. We can easily take care of our outdoor refuges with just a little forethought and planning.
Stay hydrated but leave the plastic water bottle at home and grab a refillable one instead.
Being well-nourished is just as important, so use reusable silicone snack bags on the trail.
Bring food in reusable containers and use washable napkins and tablecloths.
Ditch the plastic and invest in reusable straws, plates, and cutlery that can be easily rinsed clean.
About 30 percent of all trash in the U.S. comes just from product packaging, so try to reduce single-use packaged food products as much as possible.
Instead of paper maps, make use of several national park map apps. No service? Many parks apps can be downloaded ahead of time and used offline.
Don’t plan on finding a trash or recycling can. Always plan ahead and decide how you’ll store any garbage until you’ve reached a proper disposal site.
Doing good feels good
Maintaining our oceans, waterways, and greenspaces spaces is not only essential for the planet’s wellbeing, it’s becoming more essential for our wellbeing. And to take care of the latter, we need to take care of the former.
Research has shown that the simple act of doing something good, such as keeping the environment clean and healthy, can actually make us feel good in the process. And isn’t that why we took that long walk outdoors in the first place?
Instead of recycling plastic water bottles and cans, what if we never had to use them in the first place?
From a nightclub stage, a comedian riffs about trash and recycling. “With trash, if there’s something you don’t want anymore, you throw it away and you never see it again. But with recycling, you toss it in the bin and it comes back as something else you will eventually have to get rid of all over again.”
While this open-mic-night insight may not be entirely accurate, it does hint at an awkward truth surrounding recycling: Using bottles and cans means always having to deal with them when we’re done.
On average, Americans crack open around 1500 bottles of water each second. That translates to 90,000 every hour and 2.2 million every day. From a human health perspective, it’s good that we’re drinking so much water. However, for the health of our planet, the effects aren’t as beneficial.
While most of those plastic bottles can be recycled, a large percentage of them aren’t. Dr. Peter Gleick, the author of “Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water,” says only 30 percent of those bottles make it into the recycling bin. The rest wind up in landfills, incinerators, or littering the land and the ocean. In fact, a widely reported study by the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation determined that by the year 2050, the ocean will contain more plastic than fish. And many of those fish will have ingested a significant amount of that plastic.
Put down the bottle. Pick up the can.
Another thing to consider is putting water in aluminum cans instead of plastic bottles. Take a look inside the fridge in just about any office kitchen, breakroom, or cafeteria and you’ll likely see the most popular waters, seltzers, and flavored beverages in shiny aluminum rows.
Along with being easier to stack and taking up less fridge space, cans have a much higher recycling profile than their polyethylene cousins. Cans in the U.S. are recycled at rate of 50 percent, distinguishing them as the most recycled beverage container in the world. Plus, the high recyclability of aluminum means that 75 percent of all aluminum produced is still in circulation, and each regenerated can uses 90 percent less energy and produces 90 percent less emissions compared to producing a brand new can.
The environmental attractiveness of recycling cans is increasing demand. However, the problem with that is there are not enough cans in circulation right now to meet that demand. More will need to be made from scratch, and creating a new can produces double the greenhouse gases of a plastic bottle. So, while we’re improving sustainability through recycling, we’re working against that by adding carbon through can manufacturing.
A better answer to bottles and cans
Staying properly hydrated and preserving the environment don’t have to be so complicated if you consider an alternative to bottles and cans. Smart beverage dispensers, like those from Bevi, let you get that drink without the plastic or aluminum middleman. They not only supply pure filtered and sparkling water right into your reusable tumbler cup, they let you easily add electrolytes to boost your hydration and flavors to elevate your mood.
At the same time, you could be replacing 30 thousand bottles and cans each year, and as the standup comedian would point out, “never having to deal with them again.” And that may be the most refreshing part of that drink of water.
For those of us returning to our offices, the workplace we step back into will look different from the one we left.
Desks will be farther apart. Hand sanitizer dispensers will be as ubiquitous as light switches. And floor signage and tape lines will physically define boundaries within even the most open of office plans.
It will be different in another way that may not be so apparent: It won’t be as green as it was before the pandemic. Nearly all of the changes we’ll encounter are being made to keep us safe, which is obviously important. At the same time, what’s helping keep us healthy could have the opposite effect on the environment.
For instance, coffee shops are no longer accepting reusable containers and restaurants are relying on disposable menus, plates, and plastic utensils. Even if you opt for takeout or delivery, your meal will likely be packed in a Styrofoam container that makes its way to you in a plastic bag. The result is a lot more waste.
One word: Plastics
All of that waste is being dramatically compounded by a growing reliance on single-use plastic for so many other items, such as bottled water, bags, and packaging. Trying to stem that rising tide with recycling is also becoming more difficult as material-recovery facilities (MRFs) have slowed or halted their operation while they struggle with keeping workers safely apart along recyclable sorting conveyor belts.
We can still make a difference.
Here’s the good news: As we all head back to work, we can bring sustainability with us. Here are a few simple things each of us can do to flatten the Plastic Curve.
Wear a mask. Wash a mask. Consider wearing a mask made of washable fabric in the office. It’s one way to protect your co-workers. Plus, you can launder it after two to three uses, instead of disposing of it.
Commute cleaner. Employers are incentivizing their employees to drive to work rather than use public transportation. However, a healthy compromise could involve employers also providing incentives for walking or biking to work, both of which limit social contact and greenhouse gasses.
Use, clean, repeat. Consider bringing your lunch and snacks with you in a reusable container. It can be safely cleaned with soap and hot water, ideally in your dishwasher. There are also reusable solutions for food, cleaning, and personal care items to help cut down on plastic use at home. TerraCycle’s Loop program delivers products in durable containers that you ship back for cleaning and reuse once the product is gone.
A number of companies are releasing touchless water dispensers, which will provide a safe way to use a reusable cup or beverage tumbler at work and avoid cracking open and disposing of a bottle or can.
Starting July 13, existing and new Bevi machines will enable you to use your smartphone to dispense beverages so you never have to touch the machine. We think that’s a great way to stay hydrated, stay safe, and contribute to sustainability at work.
We know a lot of businesses and people were committed to creating sustainability at work before the pandemic came along. We believe that how you stay healthy and how you head back to work are your choices to make. And while things will certainly look and feel different when we walk back through the door, many of those differences can create new opportunities for sustainability. We’re committed to finding them, and sharing them with all of you.
Recently, Bevi CEO, Sean Grundy, sat down with Cheddar to talk about all things water. Watch the video by clicking the link here to hear a little about Bevi’s mission to reduce office plastic waste and how this innovative startup is changing the beverage industry office-by-office!
And if you’re interested in getting Bevi for your workspace, leave us some info at bevi.co/get-a-quote/, to receive personalized pricing.
Each year, Americans toss out more than 4 million tons of wrapping paper. Bring tidings and good cheer to the Earth this holiday season with these 8 eco-friendly alternatives to gift wrap.
And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: ‘How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes or bags!
— How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
In a world in which $2.6 billion dollars is spent annually on one-time use wrapping paper, the Grinch’s famous cry of disbelief reads like an eco-advocate’s exclamation of joy.
It’s no surprise that Americans produce 25% more waste in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years than in any other period of the year. Every holiday season, Americans throw out over 38,000 miles of ribbon, not to mention the 15 million Christmas trees that get tossed in the trash.
It’s the most wonderful — and wasteful — time of the year.
Although these stats may make you want to say “bah humbug,” using alternatives to wrapping paper is an easy way to reduce waste this holiday season. Check out these 8 eco-friendly ideas.
1. Make the packaging part of the gift.
Good things come without a package. There are all sorts of ways to use a gift as its own packaging; some ideas include: wrapping mittens and socks in a matching sweater, filling a pot or pan with kitchen supplies for someone who just got a new apartment, adding gardening supplies to a bucket or plant pot, stuffing a new purse with gift-cards, wrapping a gift box in a scarf or cozy blanket, making a mini care-package for a college student in a Tupperware container, etc. Let’s face it, you’re a gift giving pro, and don’t need any help from paper packaging to prove it!
Sources: DarlingDoodlesDesign, A Part of Life Blog, and Garden Therapy.
2. Repurpose old newspapers or brown paper bags.
Good for gifts of any size, and perfect for those who actually enjoy perfectly folding and taping each individual gift. While the newspaper will end up in the recycling bin along with the regular wrapping paper, at least it was repurposed. If you like the look of paper gift wrap, but would like to cut back on your tape usage, try doing some wrapping paper origami or using ribbon instead of tape (see #6 for an upcycled ribbon idea).
3. Reuse 6-pack beer boxes
You’ve been pregraming for Great Aunt Susie’s annual holiday party all day when you realize you forgot to wrap your Secret Santa gift. Have no fear: the 6-pack box you were about to throw out will do the trick! 6-pack boxes are perfect for multi-component (or multi-person gifts). Similar to good old-fashion stocking-stuffing, you can stuff each of the six compartments with gift items. Things like socks, rolled-up t-shirts, hair care or skin products, chocolate bars, candles, and of course, beer, fit perfectly in each slot. (Not a beer drinker? Check out these 6-pack boxes with built-in holiday cards made by Beer Greetings.)
Source: Beer Greetings
4. Emphasize the element of surprise with a recycled cereal box
Chances are you have about 3 cereal or snack boxes sitting in your recycling bin right now. There’s nothing better than adding multiple layers of surprise: using cereal and snack boxes of different sizes, try packaging up a small gift in a series of boxes — sort of a Russian nesting doll approach. This is a particularly good way to make opening gift cards a little more fun for kids.
5. Use old maps
In the golden age of smart devices, printed maps are nothing but dust collectors. Rather than keeping that map of Virginia in your glove compartment as an artifact of decades past, consider upcycling it and using it as a substitute for traditional paper gift wrap.
6. Cut back on your ribbon usage by recycling old t-shirts
Put those old little league t-shirts to good use by transforming them into ribbon. While this upcycled gift wrap idea may require a little more work and planning on your end, the process is very simple. All you need is an old, colorful t-shirt and a pair of scissors. Check out this quick how-to video for instructions, and say goodbye to twirling ribbon.
7. For the hipster in your life, use a mason jar
I’m sure everyone has seen mason jars with cookie and cake mix in in local specialty shops. Mason jars are very versatile, and are the perfect vessel for any type of recipe, from a cocktail starter kit to a ‘spa-in-a-jar,’ to sewing kits and ‘go fishing’ jars. If you’re at a loss for gift grab ideas, thinking about what would fit into an empty mason jar is an easy way to jump start your brainstorming process.
Source: The Gunny Sack
8. Add some character to that unexciting Amazon box
So you have a box, but you don’t have any maps, newspapers, tape, old t-shirts…or any time. You’re not as short handed as you think! Instead of writing a card, use the box as your canvas. Write funny quotes or memories about the gift recipient; jot down a riddle; say something witty about why gift wrap is a thing of the past. When I was a kid, my mom let us decorate the outsides of the boxes we were shipping to family members out of state. Using stamps and paint, the once dreary brown color became a sea of colorful patterns and shapes.
We added a Bevi sticker to ours
In addition to these alternatives, there are also several reusable fabric gift wraps out there for purchase (check out LilyWrap or the variety of options available on Etsy).
Regardless of the approach you take, there’s no better way to show someone you care this holiday season than using sustainable gift wrap.
When we’re not promoting eco-friendly gift wrap, Bevi is on a mission to reduce plastic bottle waste, one pour of sparkling grapefruit water at a time.
Learn how you can reduce your plastic bottle waste here.
The quick answer is no, you do not really need a foosball table. You also don’t need a well-stocked beer fridge, free lunches, or office Segways.
Foosball certainly translates a laid-back, fun-loving culture into something you can touch. (Just as a Bevi transforms a forward thinking, sustainability-minded culture into something you can taste!) And these things might be the perfect expressions of your workplace culture. But they don’t make a culture on their own. After all, what good is a tube slide between floors if your culture demands professional business wear every day?
Your workplace culture should be evident in everything you do, from the way you approach a project to the benefits your employees enjoy. Then, it should be talked about widely to attract the kinds of talent who will make a great fit. Because ultimately, you want employees to be as excited about your 9am strategy meeting as they are about your 5pm cocktail hour.
Here’s how to make that happen.
1. Paint a picture of culture
Start with your company’s mission and vision. Then go beyond, to the less obvious values and beliefs. Think about what sets you apart in your industry, or in the world. Do you excel at collaboration? Do you prioritize learning and? Do you approach your work as both meaningful and fun? Considering your collective values, beliefs and interests will help give shape and form to your workplace culture.
2. Tap into top talent
As you determine what you value, check in with your top performers. Find out what you’re already doing that’s keeping those folks happy. Dig into what brought them to you initially as well as what keeps them motivated in their day-to-day work. These nuggets of culture, some you may not even be aware of, will help you attract more of the same kind of talent.
3. Perk it up
When Apple added full education reimbursement to its list of benefits, the message was clear—Apple cares about learning and development. Other companies offer flexible schedules with remote work options, unlimited and untracked vacation time, and even paid monthly housecleaning. Fabulous perks, indeed. But also, emblematic of cultures that value work-life balance, mutual trust, and time to recharge. Get clear about what you value and believe to can attract like-minded employees.
Show what you care about to attract employees who care too!
4. Pull it through
Once you’ve aligned your benefits and perks, keep going. Weave your laid-back culture through everything you so, so that prospective employees feel it long before they see the foosball table. Flow your collaborative approach beyond your open floor plan into the way you talk, the way you interview, and the way you present your company on social media and beyond. Make your culture something that can be identified and felt beyond your office walls.
5. Talk about it
Once your culture is in place, talk about it. Everywhere. Share snapshots of your culture on social media, talk about it in your job ads, and weave it into your interview questions. Get your employees to talk about it too. Make videos, host events, and speak about it at conferences. And sure, if it’s right for your culture, maybe even hold that foosball competition you’ve dreamed about.
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