July 18, 2019
I have always been very passionate about the environment, sparked from my early days helping my dad sort our recycling and reaffirmed by studying political ecology and environmentalism, volunteering on organic farms, and continually researching and practicing ways to live a more sustainable life. At Aria, I have earned the role as our resident sustainability expert and am known for things like avoiding plastic, not wasting food, and reusing salsa jars as Tupperware.
Last January, in true “sustainability expert” form, I circulated office-wide an article from The Atlantic about the EU banning single-use plastic by 2021, which included some pretty sobering statistics, such as: “The global production of plastics has not stopped to increase since 1960. According to the European Commission, in 2015 the global production reached 322 million tons and it is expected to double over the next 20 years.”
Just as reading this article renewed my passion for being more eco-friendly, it also inspired our office to up Aria’s sustainability game, with everyone chiming in and suggesting different ways to decrease our carbon footprint. We came up with three simple tweaks that we have embraced to help Aria become more environmentally friendly:
1. Switching to reusable and recyclable K-cups: According to NPR, “In 2013, Keurig Green Mountain produced 8.3 billion K-Cups — enough to circle the Earth 10.5 times.” We are a small office of just under 20 people, but we were still using, and throwing away, a significant amount of K-Cups. Since learning this, we have made a decision to only purchase recyclable K-Cups and also bought a bunch of reusable K-Cups and coffee grounds.
2. Investing in more dishes, silverware, and coffee stirrers: While the Aria team grew over the years, our dishware collection did not and as a result we frequently opted to use paper and plastic goods. We invested in new dishes, cups, and silverware and moved all plastic and paper goods to the storage closet to make them slightly less convenient to grab. We also nixed all plastic straws and coffee stirrers, and purchased metal coffee stirrers as an alternative.
3. Enhancing our recycling program: One of the common challenges of increasing sustainability is a lack of awareness and/or infrastructure to support necessary changes. We made an effort to circulate educational materials about the town of Newton’s recycling program (what it accepts, how to prep recyclables, etc.) as well as more clearly labeled our recycling receptacles and scheduled more frequent pick-ups to encourage more recycling of the plastics we do still consume.
When we started this process, we crunched the numbers and determined we were spending an average of $600 per year on disposable items. By making a one-time investment in reusable items, we will not only save money on supplies but we know our practices are mindful and sustainable. Aside from saving money, this process has started an amazing, progressive dialogue in our office and has given us all an opportunity to learn more about the ways, both big and small, we can all work to make a difference in the health of the planet.
If you’re interested in learning more about other ways Aria is becoming a ‘green’ office, or want to implement these changes in your office or home, connect with us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook — or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.