Springfield, MO

Opinion: Do your part: Steps for a greener workplace

Adventures in Ink

Posted online

That person in the grocery store who loads cloth bags into a bike-rack-topped Subaru adorned with travel stickers? The one who fills a reusable cup at the coffee shop on the way to work?

Yes, that would be yours truly.

My life and home are sustainable. I am able to maintain that environment because it’s my space to develop.

However, the game changes in the workplace.

Creating greater amounts of waste is easier in offices. Think about it: Rather than using a metal utensil that can be deposited in a dishwasher at home, it’s easier at work to use a plastic spoon that can be thrown away quickly. And when all your staff is using plastic utensils, well, that’s a lot of plastic contributing to the already massive amounts disposed annually.

According to a study published by peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, 6.8 billion metric tons of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic produced becomes plastic waste. That’s 80 percent of the world’s waste being deposited in landfills or discarded as litter.

Perspective. It’s all about perspective. What we do every day has a broader impact.

So, what now? How can your workplace become more sustainable?

Ban plastic from the office kitchen. Instead, stock it with reusable cups, dishes and utensils. If you don’t want to make an investment in new products, ask every employee to donate to the cause by bringing their own spare pieces – one plate, bowl or utensil set – to create a hodgepodge collection that stays at work.

Another issue we have to talk about is the Keurig machine. Keurig Green Mountain Inc. sold more than 9 billion cups in 2015. That’s a lot of tiny, plastic cups in landfills – and in oceans and waterways. Keurig is now producing recyclable cups, which certainly is a win, although it’s taken a long time. A New York Times 2016 article on the subject made me laugh when the writer put it in perspective: “It is taking longer than it took for NASA to put a man on the moon, but in the coming months, the company will begin to sell K-Cups made of material that is easily recycled.”

Will your staff recycle K-Cups? Make sure they do. Put up a sign by the Keurig reminding them that if they use the machine, it’s their responsibility to recycle the leftover pods. Or invest $4.70 for a K-cup reusable coffee filter on Amazon so that staff can use their own coffee grinds in the machine. That’s what I use with Springfield Business Journal’s Keurig machine, and it works well.

What about paper? That’s another big conversation. Here at SBJ, we go through a lot of paper. I mean, a lot. However, I’m proud of the way we adamantly recycle this waste. That’s pretty standard. However, here’s a way to take it a step further. We also use paper twice in printers. We have special boxes to deposit paper with a usable white side to be reprocessed through printers before ending up in the recycling bin. It’s a smart system that works.

The bottom line is that the little things add up.

And, I’m certain you’ve heard it before – living sustainably is easier than you’d think and it’s as simple as cloth shopping bags and reusable K-Cups.

Sustainable living is not only an easy choice but also the right one. And it’s overdue for all of us as individuals and businesses to put forth an effort.

Let’s do this.

Springfield Business Journal Features Editor Hanna Smith can be reached at


No comments on this story |
Please log in to add your comment
Editors' Pick

Crossroads in Republic ripe for industrial park

Two buildings in a budding Republic industrial park just might be the welcome mat officials need.

Most Read
SBJ Live logo
Training Bootcamp: Training Needs Assessment

All workplace problems have root causes. When will training be the solution? Sherry Coker, OTC Center for Workforce Development business development director, provides you the framework of a training needs assessment, which will uncover the root causes of a workplace problem and help you determine if training is the solution. A download is available at with a complete outline for an effective training needs assessment. This is sponsored content. Duration: 2:29

Don’t Micro-Manage Are you guilty of micromanaging your employees? “If we’re going to require them to be that educated when they come to work for us, should we not let them do their job? They should know so much …
Seek Wisdom from Many “My whole life goal is to change the world, one connection at a time,” says Keisha Mabry. Mabry, who is an author, speaker, and social entrepreneur, says she had a “quarter-life crisis” and …
DNA Uncovers Best Version of You A simple swab of the inside of your cheek can lead to optimizing your nutrition and fitness program, personal medication profile, in addition to your ancestry. According to Austin O’Reilly, owner …
Booked - Go Back to the Basics “You’ve gotta go back to the basics,” says Larry Peterson, Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity of Springfield Missouri. Peterson says he gains leadership advice from General Ulysses S. …