work

Shaking Up Wasteful Office Culture

I am finding it really hard to send an email.

It is not just any email.

It’s an email to facilities management at work.

I’ve noted before that our office provides compostable plates and bowls, but nowhere to actually compost them.

 

work compost

I usually smuggle my compostables home to compost

 

It seems very counterintuitive and a bit greenwashy to me (Look at us! We offer compostable plates! Oh la la!). It is a step in the right direction, but providing compostable plates without somewhere to compost them is like providing real plates and silverware, but nowhere to wash them. It totally negates the point.

So I have been working up the courage to send an email to facilities management, but building up courage has been a slow trickle, with renewed aspiration here and there when I see the wrong things in the recycle bin or when people compliment me on BYOP (bringing my own plate).

 

BYOP

My parents were cleaning out their kitchen and came across this plate I painted at a pottery place. Since my name was on the back of it, I figured I’d take it and make it my work plate.

 

I know what the email needs to say:

  • There is no point in having compostable plates/bowls without providing composting service (but I also don’t want them to think, “Oh okay, we will order styrofoam then!”)
  • Provide the benefits of composting and why putting compostable items in the landfill doesn’t work
  • Provide resources to composting services in Chicago (this is a larger building, so not sure how waste management on a single floor scale works…)
  • Discuss what is recyclable from the building’s recycling hauler and how we can educate the staff about what belongs in the recycling bin and what does not
  • Explain that I would be willing to work with them to make our office a greener place to spend 40+ hours of your week

Despite knowing what the contents of this email will be, I am more afraid of the response I will get.

Will I immediately be shot down? My email promptly deleted and never even responded to? 

I have no idea and that is why I have not sent it yet (or even written it).

I am going to do it though. I promise.

I risk nothing besides the office thinking I am a crunchy composting hippie, which is fine because I would totally love to be labeled that.

Have you ever tried to green your office? Any suggestions or tips for writing this email? Any help would be appreciated!

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How I Pack My Lunch

Back to the days of packing my lunch for work!

I pretty much never buy lunch and I never did even in my school days when we could purchase “hot lunch.”

 

 

snacktaxi1

Locally produced turkey sandwich

 

Not only does this practice save me money, but it also saves on food packaging and waste. Ziploc bags are never on my shopping list because I use SnackTaxis to hold all my snacks and lunch essentials.

snacktaxi2

I have had them for a number of years and I love them. They are machine washable and I just let them air dry over night. They even stand up to a PB&J with a bit too much jelly. Just wipe it off and toss in the washer!

Their fun designs also can make a boring lunch a little bit more exciting! And my lunches are pretty boring (see the turkey sandwich with just bread and turkey above).

snacktaxi5

My handy lunch bag has also been hanging around since my college days and it too is machine washable. So when I leave something in there just a little too long and it starts to get a bit funky, that can easily be fixed.

snacktaxi6

For foods that cannot go in a SnackTaxi, I just use Pyrex glass containers for everything from yogurt to soup. Yeah, glass is heavy, but whatever, bring on the muscles!

snacktaxi4

Our regular silverware from home comes with me to work when necessary and then I just bring it home every day to pop in the dishwasher. I don’t find it to be any extra work.

snacktaxi3

On top of all the other necessary pieces, I keep a napkin in my drawer at my desk! It definitely comes in handy when I am eating a juicy peach or there is a snack to grab in the break room.

How do you keep your work day lunches package-free?

Laid Off and Pushing On

Last week I had a very surprising phone call. My position at a tech company had been eliminated due to some company reorganizing and I was suddenly out of a job.

It took me the rest of the afternoon to come to terms that I would not be receiving a paycheck or insurance anymore, and that was really my only concern. I did not love my job and to be honest, I did not really care about what I was doing. This was just an in-between job.

Having gone to school to study environmental management and sustainable development, I always knew I wanted my passion to also be my career. Since graduating, I have bounced around a bit from Indiana to Washington DC, but being back in Chicago has not brought me much luck in the job hunt.

While I started working for that tech company, I did my best to exercise my passion outside of my work day. This meant volunteering on a non-profit associate board, Delta Emerging Leaders and applying for Chicago Conservation Corps, which I blogged about many times here, here, and here. On top of that, I did some beach clean ups too.

All while I was working for my lack-luster job and volunteering, I was  also always on the look out for an open sustainably related position. So now I am still looking and still applying, but I am not going to settle.

I already had a passion-less job. This next job, whatever it may end up being, is going to make a difference and help create quantifiable and beneficial change. I believe that life is too short to be spending so much time in a job that does not fill you with joy and really makes you think. Overall, I refuse to give up. The topics I write about on this blog are what I want to do with my life, and I feel lucky to have found my calling. I know my dream job is out there.