When I’m working out of my home, it’s no problem to control what I use throughout the day, but I’ve found it can be a challenge when I’m on the go and hopping from meeting to meeting. Through a little trial and error, I’ve found that thinking ahead can help me keep up with sustainable practices wherever I go.
You might do a lot of coffee meetings, or simply need several cups to get through an all-day conference. Either way, all those paper cups can build up, and despite popular belief, coffee cups can’t be recycled because they are coated in plastic.
The simplest green solution is to ask for a mug to use while you’re there. If that’s not an option, whip out your own coffee cup. I like to keep one in my bag that’s collapsible so that I have it when I need it, but it doesn’t take up a ton of space when I’m finished.
Bonus: a lot of coffee shops are now giving discounts if you bring your own mug.
A while back I ordered a wooden spork that’s about three inches long and lives in my purse so I can reach for it in lieu of a plastic fork or spoon when I’m out. I’ve also got reusable chopsticks on my Christmas list.
It can feel a little awkward to pull it out in front of people, but there’s a lot of public awareness around single-use plastics these days, so you shouldn’t get too many raised eyebrows. In fact, I’ve had a number of people ask me if I’m using it to avoid plastics, which has started some really nice conversations around what other people are doing to be sustainable. So embrace the awkward and don’t be afraid to talk about it!
The plastic straw seems to have become the symbol of the fight against single-use plastics, so the easiest solution is just not to use one.
However, if you are anything like my sister, who withstands my dirty looks because she just really likes having a straw, consider grabbing a pack of reusable stainless steel or bamboo straws that live in your purse.
Take your trash
I admit, this one can feel a little weird, but if you are eating in a conference room with a single all-purpose waste basket, consider taking your trash with you instead of dumping it for convenience. That might mean waiting until you can find a recycling bin, or even saving your banana peels for the compost bin at home.
If you’re running around all day, but don’t have a lunch meeting planned, or just don’t want to stuff your face in front of a client, bring snacks with you. Keep a bag of nuts in your car, or make a smoothie that morning and bring it with you.
This helps avoid grabbing something on the go, that’s often packaged in plastic.
Support sustainable businesses
While it’s easy to have your meetings at the local Starbucks, seek out local businesses that are making an effort to be sustainable and support them. Chances are, they’ll help you keep your carbon footprint down, even if you don’t have time to plan ahead and pack your own tools.
At Social Light, we’re not experts in green business, we’re just trying to do our part to help Mother Nature along. That said, if you need inspiration feel free to give us a shout; we’re more than happy to talk about what we’re doing!