The hit television series “Mad Men” gives us a glimpse into a bygone era of office culture, and contemporary professionals are often shocked by the show’s accurate portrayal of the workplace in the mid-1960s. Heavy drinking, cigarette smoking and abrasive language were commonplace. It was a time of conspicuous consumption, and nobody gave office conservation a second thought.
Today, despite “knowing better,” office workers will still send hundreds of tons of paper to landfills this year, idle computer networks will burn countless megawatts of electricity during non-business hours, and the average employee cafeteria will dispose of several tons of plastic tableware and disposable beverage bottles.
Paper, plastic and other common recyclables are an everyday part of our professional lives, but throwing them in the trash is the modern-day equivalent of lighting up a Chesterfield in a crowded conference room – a huge workplace faux pas. Yet, many offices lack a comprehensive recycling program, either because the perceived cost is too high or there is insufficient worker demand.
It’s the efforts and attitudes of individual paper users who can help champion a monumental shift in the way Americans think about trash, recycling and sustainability. And that’s the key to environmental consciousness – the choices we all make every day to reduce consumption, increase waste recovery and preserve our natural world.
So the next time you make a move toward the wastebasket with a crumpled-up memo, or leave your desk lamp lit all night long, think about how much more we know today about environmental impact than we did in the 1960s and ask yourself whether you want to be a “throwback” to a bygone era. And while you’re contemplating that, consider what you do (or should be doing) every day to conserve energy and eliminate waste on the job.
Although we’re wrapping up our CHOICES engagement series with TriplePundit, our dialogue about working responsibly continues at BoiseChoices.com. The site features regular blog posts, paper facts, trivia and resources – each designed to help you be more productive with fewer resources and better understand how the choices you make every day help us achieve less waste and create a more sustainable work environment.