Are Your Office Meals Eco-Friendly? 6 Ways to Go Green in the Break Room

Posted by on Monday, March 17th, 2014 with Comments Off on Are Your Office Meals Eco-Friendly? 6 Ways to Go Green in the Break Room Comments

A lot of office break rooms will be green today, from cardboard shamrocks to garishly frosted cupcakes. And while we heartily endorse an office-friendly St. Patrick’s Day party, it brings up a good opportunity to contemplate the other way your office can “go green” at lunch time — every day of the year.

coworkers in break room with real dishes

This company has “low carbon lunches” with their real plates and flatware.
Image source: Flickr User 1010uk

Sustainability and eco-friendly practices aren’t just buzzwords anymore. Companies across the globe are going green with the aim of reducing costs, improving their images, and, yes, benefitting the environment. Giant companies may get the most press — Starbucks’ recycled coffee cup sleeves, Wal-Mart’s increasing investment in renewable energy — but small offices are also joining in by emphasizing eco-friendly habits, like producing less waste and encouraging recycling.

Of course, it’s easy to tack a phrase like “Consider the environment before printing this email” onto your signature; it’s a little harder to bring sustainability into all corners of the workplace — particularly the office lunch room. It’s easy for harried employees to forget to recycle when they’re in a rush to grab their lunch and return to their desks, or to simply reach for a paper cup next to the coffeepot instead of retrieving a mug from the cabinet.

It’s worth the effort, though: going green can build teamwork and improve employee morale, even when it takes a little while to put the earth-friendly practices into place. To start, consider implementing these six straightforward strategies to increase your eco-friendliness during office meals:

1) Cut down on waste by stocking bottled condiments in the fridge and simple seasonings in the cupboard. Soy sauce, mustard, hot sauce, ketchup, chili flakes, salt, pepper… any office with a regular takeout habit can quickly accumulate a giant pile of these single-serving accompaniments. And while each item is small, it adds up to a lot of wasted paper and plastic packaging. Buy a few bottles of the usual suspects, and start telling restaurants you don’t need any of their individual packets included with your order.

pile of soy sauce packets

One bottle of soy sauce would produce considerably less waste compared to a drawer full of these packets.
Image source: Flickr User me and the sysop

2) Supply real plates and silverware. Just like with condiments, plastic plates and cutlery can really add up when it comes to unnecessary waste. Plus, grabbing a real plate and fork will encourage employees to take the time to savor their lunch, instead of the detrimental mindless eating that often occurs at the office.

3) Recycling is a no-brainer, but also consider a compost bin. Office refrigerators can become a hotbed of forgotten leftovers or discarded food, and that waste can really add up. Instead of tossing it in the garbage, set up a compost bin. If your building doesn’t accommodate compost waste, find a gardening coworker willing to take it home on a weekly basis and chuck it in their pile.

4) Put a friendly ban on  paper cups. Stack mugs next to the coffeepot, supply reusable bottles for water, and even keep pint glasses on hand — not the ubiquitous red plastic cups — for the occasional Friday evening office happy hour.

5) If your office break room has a sunny window, set up an herb garden! Whether employees sprinkle freshly plucked parsley and basil on their lunch or take a few sprigs home for cooking dinner, they’ll be put to good use and improve the air quality at the same time. As an extra bonus, plants in the office might just make workers more attentive and productive!

herbs on windowsill

Literally and metaphorically go green with a windowsill herb garden.
Image source: Flickr User eskay8

6) Make eco-friendly dining choices. This might mean working with a corporate catering company that specializes in organic or locally-sourced foods, buying shade-grown coffee, or simply participating in Meatless Monday each week — plant-based food is much more energy-efficient to produce than meat. And if a lot of employees tend to order in, consider coordinating a group order instead: that way, only one vehicle will be burning gas delivering lunch to the office.

Going green in the office break room is easy, and you have a wonderful ally in the food delivery experts at! From cutting down on paper products to recurring group takeout orders for office meals, we’re here to help your eco-friendly efforts make a big impact.

When it comes to feeding employees and coworkers, make your company's food program really count! If your workplace dining plan needs to take it up a notch — or if you don't have one at all — is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!

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