Monday, March 17, 2014

Second Life: Reusing the Plasticware

Every workplace has an Office Mom. At mine, I think I might be the "Office Earth Mother."

We have an official Green Office Coordinator, who is not me, but I'm the one always nagging my coworkers to be more green. I tut-tut at them when they use the handicapped button rather than just pushing the door open themselves. When we go shopping for refreshments for our monthly meeting, I refuse to let my coworker get plastic bags, even when I've forgotten the reusable bags. I carry everything out in a big awkward armful on those days. I'm the only one in the office who adamantly refuses to get double computer monitors—because double the monitors means double the power consumption!

But the Green Office habit I wanted to talk about today is reusing the plasticware.

When my coworkers and I go out to eat, one or the other of them will almost always grab a big handful of plastic forks to use later. Every time I see this, I have a silent conniption.

First of all, I think it's rude to take more than you need at that moment; if you need plasticware at the office that badly, then maybe you should buy some. But secondly, it's wasteful! I feel bad enough when I have to use a single disposable utensil at a restaurant. But it's one thing to use a plastic fork out of necessity because that's all the restaurant has and you need one to eat your meal. It is quite another to stockpile forks at your desk because you're too lazy to wash your own silverware.

But what can I do? It's hard to fault my coworkers for their habits when having your own silverware at our office is such a pain. We don't have a kitchen, so if you want to use reusable dining implements, you have to wash them in the bathroom sink—which is not conveniently located—with stupid foaming hand soap that doesn't clean anything.

Fortunately, I've found a solution! Whenever I go out to eat now, I wipe off my plasticware and take it home. I wash it in the dishwasher and bring it to the office.  Then the next time I need a utensil, I use one of the re-used ones! This really takes a weight off my conscience because I don't feel as wasteful using plasticware at restaurants. And I don't have to go through the hassle of washing my utensils in the restroom! After my meal, if the utensil is still reasonably clean and unbroken, I'll take it home for another wash and re-use.  If not, then I can throw it away with the reassurance that I at least got one more use out of it than I would have if I'd tossed it at the restaurant.

After several months of this, I've amassed such a collection of forks, knives, and spoons, that there is no excuse for anyone at the office to stockpile single-use utensils. So the next time I see them going for the forks at a restaurant, my conniption will not be silent! "Stop that!" I'll say! "I'll give you some of mine!"

Office Earth Mother allows no misbehavior.


Kristi Lonheim said...

Great way to re-use yours and reduce theirs.

I take my own fork to school for when I buy salad, but it still comes in a plastic container. I keep thinking I need to bring one home and figure out the capacity so I can bring my own container. You might have just inspired me!

Jackie said...

Office Earth Mother....perfect name. I am so glad we had a sink for washing flatware when I was working. I will have to be more careful with the plastic ware.

Ray Hoy said...

I kept a spoon in my office drawer for the infrequent times I had lunch in the office. But for developing double monitors are a big advantage over one. Code on one, results on the other.