Zero Waste in the Office

A zero waste office is not only environmental, but also economical. By implementing the following practices around the office, you can help to produce less waste and save money by reducing operating costs.

The Top Three Ways to Reduce Waste in the Office

1. Go Digital

One of the best ways to deal with waste is to not produce it. Go digital. Here are some ways to go digital:

  • Keep files on the computer instead of in file cabinets.
  • Use email and voice mail.
  • Review documents onscreen rather than printing.

2. Bring Your Own Lunch

Bring your own containers - here are some helpful tips to reduce waste during the lunch hour:

  • Bring lunch to work in a reusable container.
  • Bring your own coffee/tea mug to work.
  • Ordering lunch and having it delivered produces packaging waste. Coordinate with co-workers to place large orders, which produces less waste overall.
  • Bring reusable utensils, plates, cups and napkins.

3. Recycle

Purchasing products made from recycled materials is one way to limit the amount of resources used at the office.

  • Buy office supplies and furniture made from recycled products. Click here for a list of businesses that sell office supplies and furniture made of recycled content.
  • Always buy recycled paper. Visit the guide to buying recycled paper for tips and suggestions.


  • Start a recycling program at work. Click here to visit the business recycling section of this website and find out how.
  • Recycling printer cartridges is often free, and recycled replacements are cheaper than new ones. Click to find out how to refill.

Still Want to do More?

Don’t forget the other R’s at work:


  • Change the margins on documents to fit more text and use less paper.
  • Don’t use cover sheets on faxes. Instead use a stick-on label on the first page of a fax.
  • Buy products in bulk to minimize packaging.
  • Set up computers and copiers to automatically print double-sided.
  • Use light weight paper.
  • Remove duplicate names and out-of-date entries from mailing lists.
  • Make one copy of an announcement and then pass it around to coworkers.

And Finally, Reuse

  • Reuse envelopes by placing a label over the old address.
  • Reuse file folders and shipping boxes.
  • Shred newspapers and reuse for packaging.
  • Investigate whether local libraries, schools, hospitals, and nursing homes could use you old trade journals or magazines.