How many disposable cups do you use at work each day? How many plates? Forks? We asked ourselves this question in anticipation of Earth Day.
The average American throws away 4.5 pounds of trash per day. Sure, all of that waste doesn’t happen at work. But it’s less likely you’d be using disposable cups, plates, and cutlery if you were at home. Multiply that by 200 employees and that’s more than 900 pounds of trash a day. Paper and paperboard (like disposable plates/bowls) accounted for over 26 percent of municipal solid waste in 2014. Plastics, like disposable clear cups, accounted for another 13 percent.
Granted, DEG has made a commitment to only purchasing 100% biodegradable cups, bowls, and plates, but biodegradable utensils and paper towels are not as easy to come by. In addition, when we are disposing of biodegradable items in a trash bag, how long does it actually take before the bag breaks down, allowing the plates to then biodegrade?
As explained by TreeHugger.com, “Most biodegradable cups are made from PLA (polylactic acid) plastic. PLA is a polymer made from high levels of polylactic acid molecules. For PLA to biodegrade, you must break up the polymer by adding water to it (a process known as hydrolyzing). Heat and moisture are required for hydrolyzing to occur. So if you throw that PLA cup or fork in the trash, where it will not be exposed to the heat and moisture required to trigger biodegradation, it will sit there for decades or centuries, much like an ordinary plastic cup or fork.”
Knowing this, we concluded that a simple and easy-to-execute way to decrease our carbon footprint (even if only for a day) is to remove all disposables from our Coffeehouse (kitchen/break room) for an entire day. Because Earth Day falls on a Saturday this year, DEG is observing Earth Day on Friday, April 21.
DEG has issued water bottles to employees and many have received mugs that will help accommodate for this change. We also encouraged employees at our multiple national offices, as well as those who work remotely, to participate.
In essence, we’re working to avoid contributing approximately 351 pounds of trash just in a single day by not using disposable plates, bowls, and cups.
900 / (26% + 13%) = 351
DEG’s new office space will include glassware and motion-detected lights for electricity conservation.
In addition, DEG is making an effort to be more green in our upcoming new office space. We are exploring a number of ways in which to be more environmentally friendly, including switching to mugs and glasses instead of disposable coffee/drinking cups and using motion-detected lights for electricity conservation.
During this week, we’ve also been taking the opportunity to celebrate the variety of ways our employees have committed to living a greener lifestyle in their everyday lives. These methods include biking to work to installing solar panels on their roof.
Have you or your company made commitments to go green? Share them with us in the comments below!