With the Burnaby Board of Trade set to launch its new Pledge for a Sustainable Burnaby program this fall, staff here have been trying to think of ways to be more environmentally friendly around the office. After all, how can we expect other businesses to reduce their environmental impact if we can’t be bothered to set a good example? Fortunately, the timing has worked out perfectly as our entire building – Central Park Place in Metrotown – has recently embarked on a Zero Waste program.
Participation in the Zero Waste program is easy in concept, but can be a little bit challenging in practice. The mechanics are simple; all you need to do is separate your refuse into three bins: organics, recyclables, and non-recyclables. It’s actually pretty amazing how much rubbish typically destined for the trash bin can contribute to good compost, including paper towels, wax paper coffee cups, cellophane, chopsticks and much more. The recycling program is pretty accommodating too, accepting anything with a recycling code from 1 to 7. What few things that do end up in the black non-recyclables bin (e.g. Styrofoam) are sent to a facility in Burnaby to be converted into energy. Voila, zero waste!
The challenging part of course is engaging staff and changing long engrained behaviours. For the first few weeks everybody in the office is going to have to put some conscious thought into what goes where and we need to fight against the urge to toss that Timmy’s takeout cup into the trash. But as soon as we all realize that used tea bags and coffee grinds (filter and all) are organics, we’ll be well on our way to a greener office and a better Burnaby.