Green Peace in the Office Kitchen

Tatum-Lee Louw

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Employees at the front line of any business play a crucial role in transforming a company’s sustainability strategy into reality. When it comes to recycling and getting staff to engage with the process, you will soon find that different solutions work in different environments. There is no cut-and-dry way of getting this right, but trial and error leads to learning.

At Fetola, we have a recycling initiative that has been growing over the past few months. Oasis Association collects our left over glass, plastic, and paper weekly. By implementing the following small, but strategic measures we were able to encourage staff to engage in the process.

Motivation

Make recycling fun. This starts with recycling education which offers concrete ways that show how recycling benefits the earth. A good place to start is posting engaging, educational, colorful and humorous signs, placed strategically around the office. On many occasions, the staff has laughed around these posters, but more importantly, it has sparked conversation around recycling and the alternatives. This has led to an increased effort.

Be strategic

Employees are often reluctant to recycle because it’s inconvenient. Simplify the process by allocating a designated place for recycling and place a recycling bin in a strategic place in the kitchen, to facilitate quick and easy waste sorting.

Simplification

Ensure that your recycling process is clear and simple. Separate bins for paper plastic and everything else can be a bit confusing, especially for new employees. It might be worth allowing employees to dispose of all recycling materials in one bin, and paying the removal company a bit extra to sort the materials.

Feedback

People like to know that they are making a difference. Remember to explain how employees’ efforts make a difference, no matter how small. We weigh our recycling weekly and display our progress publicly in the kitchen. After just one week of doing this, our recycling volume increased.

Most people want to do the right thing – they just need a little help in the form of training and incentive. What makes you want to recycle?

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Tatum-Lee is a part of the Media Team at Fetola. She is a freelance writer and blogger who has a particular interest in Social Media and Digital Content producing. She is currently completing a postgraduate degree in Critical Media studies and Political communication at the University of the Western Cape. Follow Tatum-Lee Louw (@TatumLee_25).