Five Ways to Tackle the Three R’s at Work

By Grant T. Smith

recyclingI recently read a wonderful article on about recycling in BC and you can find it here. For those who don’t rush off to read the whole article, the premise is that BC kept 1,000,000,000 drinking containers out of the landfill in 2017, which is a 75% capture rate.


Pretty good, right?


I was also impressed by a new program starting soon: “Starting next July, people across the Lower Mainland will also have the option to just toss their empties into a bag with a label, drop it off at an express depot, and see the refund automatically deposited to their bank account 48 hours later.”


This inspired me to write an article about ways in which you can improve the effectiveness of reduce, reuse and recycle in your office. Why is this a business article? Apart from doing the right thing, it can also reduce office costs and increase profits.  

  • Use multiple monitors for your staff in the office or warehouse. This helps reduce the need for printing internal documents as staff can easily compare on screen instead of printing reams of paper. When I started in the accounting business my company was often printing 2,500 pages a day. At Clearline, printing is now very rare and we can use less than that in a month.
  • Take a good look at the papers you print and deliver to your customers on each transaction. How much can be sent by email instead? It troubles me that many stores email me a receipt and print out a copy. Again, at Clearline we finalize almost all of our client deliverables though our portal or by email; paper use is very low.
  • Get rid of the garbage bin at each desk or workspace. Having them makes throwing things away too simple — no one considers whether their tossings (new word for the week) are compost, recycle or garbage. It is too easy to throw an apple core, various papers, and soft plastics all in the bin by your feet. I know some people argue for adding multiple containers at each workspace and that may be appropriate in some cases, but for restive staff, the walk to the bin is a good thing.
  • Here is a really simple one, but man is it hard to get buy in: turn stuff off. My very best friend used to turn off people’s monitors when he came in first thing in the morning. He would put a sticky note on the edge of the monitor to comment. Sadly, even these extreme efforts failed and many twits still left every evening with monitors not shut down. This simple tip would save money. I suggest going so far as to put everything on a power bar and turn the power bar off at night. It will have a ghost charge, but that’s one, instead of many. Someday I imagine throwing a switch or breaker, to kill power to all devices that can be shut down. Just make sure your computers are getting updates.
  • Coffee – wow, cups, pods, packages, filters and grounds. All without need. What is wrong with drinking coffee brewed in house, and not individual pods. This saves my office and coffee mates thousands of dollars a year. Now I just have to get composting the work grounds.


That’s it. My top five tips for RRR at the office.