Keeping hazardous batteries out of landfills

Softchoice has offered an office battery recycling service since 2009 at all of our offices and have had extreme success with our program! Employees areencouraged to bring in their used batteries from their home and Softchoice will dispose of them in an environmentally friendly way. This is  done through a E-waste recycling company that our landlord provides. In addition to alkaline and recharge-ables, Softchoice also recycles laptop batteries.

In 2010 Softchoice collected approximately 350 used batteries, in addition to our 700 collected in 2009. That brings our total to over 1000 recycled batteries!

Here are some tips on starting up your own battery collection program at your office: [Read more…]

Put a lid on it!

Office Compositing Program at Softchoice

In October 2010, Softchoice started its first composting program in the Toronto office. This idea was something that was talked about for quite some time but was never initiated due to some specific challenges that the Green Team had to face.

For a lot of people, the first things that come to mind when you think of office composting are odor and insects – definitely not something wanted in the office, especially an office of 500+ employees!

After speaking to our waste management vendor, we learned ways that these problems can be completely avoided and keep reluctant co-workers happy. [Read more…]

5 Steps to Starting Your Own Office Composting Program

Starting a composting program at your office can be challenging, but if you follow these simple guidelines you can set yourself up for a successful program.

  1. Find a stainless steel bucket you can keep on your office’s kitchen countertop. Stainless steel is easy to clean and wont absorb color or odor from foods.
  2. Post signage up to let everyone know what can and can’t go inside the container.
  3. Arrange to have your container emptied on a daily basis into a large bintote and store it somewhere dark and dry. A Janitorial or storage closet works well as a storage space.
  4. Find out when your city recycling and composting pickups are scheduled – if you are in an office building check with your landlord as your garbage pickups could be from a private contractor. Find out the costs associated with arranging weekly pickups.
  5. Schedule your compost pickups at least once per week, keep your bins clean by using a biodegradable liner or requesting your bin gets exchanged for a clean one every week.

To maintain a successful composting program remind your fellow employees what a positive impact they are having on the environment and that by composting they are reducing their carbon footprint.

Have you tried composting in your office? How did it work?

Full Recycling Participation

Lately I have been working late a lot in order to stay on top of everything which can be good for our Chicago office.  When I am the last one to leave at night I like to go around and make sure computer monitors and the lights are turned off.  However, I have started noticing something recently that has me wondering…

 Have you ever worked late enough in your office for the nightly clean up crew to come in?  They go from floor to floor and company to company in our building collecting garbage, vacuuming or doing whatever else needs to be done.  A few nights ago “being green” got the best of me and I couldn’t help but wonder…Do they turn off the lights when they leave?  What kinds of chemicals do they use to clean everything?  And one question that I have been stuck on the most is, when they collect the trash and the recycling, are they keeping is separate?  This one really bothers me. 

In the end it seems as though we can only do so much as a company to recycle such as putting out separate bins and educating our employees on why this is something important.  But when it really comes down to everything being taken out how do we know if they are staying in separate bins or going into the same trash can that goes around on the cleaning cart? 

I am going to start paying closer attention on those nights that I work late and I would encourage everyone else to do so as well.  Without 100% participation and education from everyone our efforts would all be wasted.  How can we may sure we are fully green from top to bottom?

Buy Locally and Support Your Community

Every month our President hosts the Softchoice Day One call – an interactive conference call that is broadcasted companywide. Softchoice provides pizza for all employees to enjoy during the call and we order an average of around 74 pizzas each month!

We proudly order all our pizza from a local family-run business that has a commitment to the environment and the community. They use environmentally friendly packaging, their menus are printed on recycled paper, pizza boxes are made of recycled cardboard and they use biodegradable plastic bags.

All pizza toppings are made with organic ingredients that come from local farms. Eating fresh organic food with recycled packaging is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, and tastes great as well! Have you found sustainable caterers in your community?

Look around – there are office supplies everywhere!

Have you ever found a handful of pens under your couch? Or guiltily eyed a stack of paper in your recycle bin? Giving them new life as office supplies is green and saves money.  Here are a couple of ideas for reusing supplies:

– Pens: think about those hotel pens you bring home from conventions. Or the ones you find when you are packing to move.  You can bring them into the office and stock them in the supply cabinet (the Delta hotels ones are from me!)

 Notepads: instead of using new paper for quick notes or mapping out ideas, why not use the back of your printouts. If you’d like to get “extra fancy” you can cut them down to 5 x 7″ pieces and attach with a binder clip.

– Paperclips: have you even been annoyed by paperclips on old documents? They are great for reusing and are more green than staples (nevermind they don’t wreck your nails when removing them!)

– Plants: we all know the benefit of plants in the office. What about throwing a “house-warming” party for new team members and give a plant for their desk as a gift?  Or put leftover fresh herbs in a vase with   your  bamboo plant to clean up the air even more (not to mention a delicious way to spruce up your lunch!)

Got anymore ideas? Send them to the Green Team – we are working on a Green Your Desk campaign and would love to be able to share your ideas with your colleages.