Here at Rustici Software, we care just as much about our community as we do our customers. And one of the ways we contribute to the wellness of our community—and the environment—is through our office recycling program. 

We’ve had a recycling program in place for several years—which includes designated bins in the kitchen and other common areas for plastics, aluminum, cardboard, glass, and mixed paper. But we’ve been taking steps to make the program even better. After all, when you have a refrigerator dedicated to every flavor of LaCroix, it’s important to have a responsible way to dispose of all those cans.

Recycling 101: Clarity and convenience

Let’s be real: Most of us aren’t recycling aficionados. Even though people in our office were already actively recycling, there weren’t a lot of specifics about what and how things should be properly recycled. 

For example, some items were being tossed in the recycling bins that probably couldn’t or wouldn’t be recycled (cardboard boxes with food remnants, certain numbered plastics, etc.). And the recycle bin labeled “glass” had been…repurposed…as a trash can. There was even confusion about whether or not we could recycle glass. 

So, we had to level-set. One of the most important updates to our program has been getting everyone around the office on the same page about what can and can’t be recycled. Specifically, we want to help everyone understand and distinguish between the products and materials we can recycle. 

We started by labeling each bin to explain what types of products should be placed in each one. From there, we created signage and handouts to easily explain proper recycling protocol and guidelines. This includes a flowchart that helps us quickly determine whether or not we can toss something in one of the bins.

 And that leads to another key lesson learned: The easier we can make it for everyone to recycle, the more inclined they are to participate—and place the right materials in the right bins.

Impacting our community

Now that we’ve got a solid in-house recycling program, we’ve taken our efforts outside the Rustici walls. We partnered with Waves, a local nonprofit organization that not only specializes in recycling but is dedicated to enabling individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to progress toward their full potentials.

We asked Waves for recommendations to help us organize our recycling program (What’s the point of all this work if we’re not doing it correctly, right?), and they hooked us up with recycling tips, guidelines, and provided extra recycling bins to place around our office. 

Recycling bins at Rustici

Benefits of recycling in the office

As we’ve implemented these changes, we’ve noticed piqued interest and curiosity from our coworkers. More people are asking questions about the recycling program and making a more concerted effort to participate, even though it’s not mandatory. 

This growing interest has also required us to expand our own knowledge about all things recycling. So really, it’s been—and continues to be—a learning experience for everyone. 

3 tips to encourage recycling at your office

Remember, creating a rhythm or ritual for just about anything can take time. But designing a clear, streamlined process helps encourage participation. And over time, more people will begin to take notice and want to be part of it.

 That said, here are three tips to keep in mind when starting or updating your office recycling program:

  1.  Make it simple, make it clear, and make it a choice. The easier the program, the more inclined people are to participate—especially when it’s optional.
  2. Keep people interested. Use Slack and email to regularly share recycling tips and facts (or post recycling fact flyers around the recycling areas).
  3. Incorporate something fun and eco-friendly. Here at Rustici, we started using cloth napkins in lieu of paper towels. Not only has this change reduced paper towel usage and purchases, but it’s added a more home-like feel. Plus, people really like using real napkins. (NOTE: We started an initiative called “Wash-It Wednesday,” and use eco-friendly laundry supplies, like Dropps, and settings.)
Cloth napkins at Rustici

So, what’s next?

Now that our recycling program has taken flight, we’ve been looking into new ways to grow our corporate social responsibility efforts. In particular, we have our sights set on a composting program. We’re still in the planning phase, so stay tuned for more details. Do you have questions or have your own tips around office recycling programs? Let us know in the comments or send us a message!

Liz is a great listener. With her background in therapy, she loves diving into people’s stories and motivations. No wonder she makes for a great office manager as she’s always in tune with everyone’s needs.