3 Ways to Waste Less At Work
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Many millennials like myself are looking for ways we can change the world. It’s one of the things that brought me to Cisco. Cisco changes the way we work, live, play, and learn – my mission as an individual is similar: change the way we waste.
I’ve always had a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit, so apart from my full-time job at Cisco, I am a DO School Fellow and run a social venture called packageless, which is my journey of living with less packaging and less waste.
Because I studied packaging as an undergrad, I know that our nation makes up 5% of the world’s population but generates about 40% of the world’s waste. This incentivized me to want to do something in regards to the unhealthy amount of trash we were planting into our planet.
Although I currently work in the IT division, I still try to live a packageless life and drive change wherever I am. My first 3 months at Cisco were filled with the traditional orientation activities, but also figuring out how Cisco is currently reducing its waste, and finding opportunities to improve the current system. I’ve chatted with amazing individuals who work on Cisco Sustainability, and found groups such as Pack it Green and Cisco Recycling that take ownership of decreasing our waste and handling it responsibly.
While Cisco has set several sustainability programs in place, my “new eye” as a new hire has noticed quite a few potential areas for behavioral change as a working individual: there’s room for all of us to improve the amount of waste we create. So in light of the fact that the average American produces about 5 pounds of waste every day, here are three simple tips of how to change the way you waste at work:
- Bring your own water bottle, mug or thermos.
If you buy just one cup of coffee or tea in a disposable cup every day, you’ll end up creating about 23 lbs of waste in one year. Cisco offers its employees convenient paper cups for water and hot beverages, but it doesn’t take too much of an extra effort to bring your own bottle to work. And hey, a bottle or thermos will be sure to prevent coffee spills on that work laptop of yours.
- Pack lunch in a reusable container, or enjoy a sit-down meal at the Cisco Café with a friend rather than getting it to-go at your desk.
In 2012, 7 million tons of solid waste was attributed to one-time use plates and cups. It’s simple to order to-go, but how many of us end up sitting in the restaurant we’re visiting anyway? Go ahead and find a fellow coworker to sit down and have lunch with, whether it be at the Cisco Café with reusable plates and utensils, a nice restaurant, or with your own packed lunch. Life’s too short to not take lunch breaks.
- If you use paper towels, learn to make the most of them.
This 4 minute TED talk puts it nicely. There is a right way to use a single paper towel efficiently: shake excess water from your hands first, fold the paper towel in half for optimum absorbency, wipe, and find a recycle bin! This is definitely a better alternative than pulling out 3-4 paper towels that are quickly used and crumpled into the waste bin.
The reason why I chose Cisco as a company is now becoming clearer: I find that I can be my packageless self and explore outlets for creating change, such as writing these few tips for you all here.
It’s been barely 100 days here as a new hire, but life at Cisco has been only encouraging for my entrepreneurial efforts, vision for driving impact, and passions for a more sustainable world. I feel so privileged to work at a company that aims to transform our society for the better, and I hope that we too, as individuals, can follow that same model of wanting to be the change we wish to see in this world.
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