Plastic-Free July at The Office

May 30, 2018/ by Olivia Ramirez

With Plastic Free July  coming up, there’s no better time than now to lessen your waste and prepare for a plastic-free month. Plastic Free July aims to raise awareness of the problems with single-use disposable plastic and challenges people to do something about it.

But don’t worry, it’s not as hard as you may think. These environmentally-friendly habits are easy to maintain at your coworking space, in your home, and in your day to day life.

Plus, once you start, it’ll be hard to go back to your old routine!

Here’s a few ways you can participate:

1. Invest in Reusables

If you’re anything like us, you really like your coffee in the morning. But this comes with a price, and I’m not just talking financially (though it’s definitely something to think about).

With summer here, iced beverages are all the rage. To mitigate your waste at coffee shops this season, invest in a reusable tumbler and stainless steel straw. If you want to have some fun with it and increase your impact, buy a bunch for your friends and coworkers. My colleague surprised me with a stainless steel straw, and needless to say, we’ve started a trend in the office.



Stainless steel straws at The Yard HQ. Photo by @taramaylyn

Plus, a thoughtful, small gift like this is sure to give your friends the warm and fuzzies! We found these fun ones on Amazon for $9.

Creating more great habits? If you’re just starting to bring your own food to work or taking advantage of the farmers’ markets and food shares in season, invest in a cute reusable food container to make packing lunch for work more fun.  Bonus points for choosing a reusable glass container rather than a plastic one.

2. Carry a Tote Bag With You Everywhere

Here’s a little trick. If you fold your Yard tote and keep it in your purse or briefcase, you can use it when you decide to go last-minute grocery shopping or when you stop by Duane Reade on your lunch break. These days, shops don’t give you just one plastic bag, but two. Refuse the single-use plastic and put everything in your tote instead. You’ll set a good example for others to follow in your footsteps, and you’ll lessen not only your own footprint but also the footprints of those who begin doing the same.



Bring your tote with you, and say goodbye to single-use bags

3. Start Saying “No”

We’ve got a bad habit, but it’s time to disrupt the routine. In places where efficiency is a priority, people working in restaurants, coffee shops, pharmacies, and more, are overlooking waste management. It’s not necessarily that they want to, but they’re trained to. Disrupt the system and say “no” to unnecessary plastic and paper waste.

You can let them know you:

  • don’t need an unnecessary bag around your easily manageable food container.
  • don’t need the plastic forks and knives; you’ve got utensils at the office.
  • Say “No, thanks” to the stack of napkins they offer you; One is enough (in most cases!).

Stand up for what you know is detrimental. People will catch on. All you need to do is start with YOU.

4. Recycle (in More Ways Than One)

If you find yourself forgetting your reusable items and need to use a single-use bag, or something similar, make the most of it. Use the bag again as a trash bag in your apartment, or keep it tucked away in storage for a time when you’ll need it. Check out these 39 tips for reusing bags. Who knew homemade flower pots could look so cute?

This brings up a much too often overlooked point: recycle, recycle, recycle! Become aware of the different recycling bins at your workplace and at your apartment building, and separate your items accordingly. It makes a big difference and only takes a few minutes. Plus, think twice about the items you’re throwing away. Could they be used for something else?

5. Show Your Support

There are some incredible innovators out there creating solutions for global environmental issues. Whether they’re creating safe, edible straws, petitioning the spread of dead zones, or creating sustainable aviation, they need our help.

Support the organizations that matter to you by liking their pages, sharing their news, discussing their work, donating to their cause, and attending their events. Spread the word about solutions that can make a difference, and make it clear that this is just the beginning. Use the resources available to you to get creative when amplifying important messages.



A recent panel featuring social impact content creators, led by Northside Media & The Yard: Gowanus 

The more people learn about the many issues that are hurting our planet and their complex causes, the faster the wheels will turn. Other people will want to help, too, and maybe they’ll even have the next big idea.

After all, we’re working alongside a community of change-makers every day at The Yard. It’s in our blood. The doors just need to be opened.


Want more plastic-free tips? Check out this list by Fair Food Forager.