By being mindful about our choices, each of us can effect change in the stream of plastic waste.
Single-use plastic poses an environmental issue we can no longer ignore. But what can we do to help? Hoping to find and share answers to this question, a group of Badgers from our sustainability committee hosted a Plastic Free August. (Yes, Plastic Free July is a thing, and yes, we missed it by a month, but we decided not to let that stop us!)
We started with a question: How can we find ways to cut down on single-use plastic, and encourage folks here at Badger to give it a try?
Here’s what we came up with:
A 1 for 1 Challenge: You sign-up to give up one source of single-use plastic for one month. This encouraged folks to think about what habits they can change in a month’s time—much easier to achieve than trying to give up everything all at once.
How do you decide what to give up? To make the task less daunting, we gave folks a range of ideas, everything from plastic bags and coffee cup lids to…chewing gum (yes! Just chew cardamom pods instead!).
Badger Emmi put together an eye-catching board featuring 30 options of things to give up. Participants were invited to pin the item or items (many folks chose to pin several!) they wanted to challenge themselves to stop using. Folks could also post questions and answers, or solutions to problems. We were not just inviting employees to join the challenge; we were encouraging them to do it with style.
Bonus Points: The board served as a great conversation starter during our annual tent sale in August, when 300 people toured our facility, giving us the chance to tell them about what we were doing and why.
Promoting Pro Deals: Badger has a pro deal program where we provide discounts on our products to employees of other companies in exchange for deals on theirs. Reminding Badger employees that they could buy premium items at a discount helped them use less plastic; items like reusable bottles, mugs, and straws from Kleen Kanteen and plastic free organic cotton clothing from PACT.
Plastic Free Snacks, Anyone? We offer lots of yummy pre-packaged items in our staff snack store—and while they’re organic, they’re also often wrapped in plastic. At Badger, we’re fortunate to have a kitchen on site where a free organic lunch is prepared and served to all employees every day. This means we’re able to order ingredients wholesale, bringing costs down to a reasonable price, often less than its prepackaged, plastic-wrapped alternative. Items like roasted mixed nuts, candied fruit slices and crunchy pretzel sticks in reusable 4-ounce mason jars were a big hit! And, made-on-the-premises peanut butter chocolate chip cookies disappeared in a flash, never lasting long enough even to need covering.
Lots of employees participated in the challenge and considered ways to use less plastic. We also encouraged employees (whether they participated or not) to share what they learned for a chance to win a Bee’s Wrap variety pack.
How useful was this exercise?
As a whole, we Badgers realized that eliminating single-use plastic was a bit harder than anticipated. We learned that “it takes planning and attention to reduce plastic use,” particularly when it comes to asking waiters to hold the straw, or grocery baggers not to put items in plastic bags. But we also learned that many opportunities for improvement exist. As one Badger said, “while we’re already doing a lot, there’s more we can eliminate, and it’s totally possible to do.”
Have you been working toward a more plastic-free lifestyle? If so, what have you discovered on your journey to use less single-use plastic?
We want to give a special shout-out to Bee’s Wrap, a Vermont-based company that makes washable, beeswax infused organic cotton wraps that can be used (and reused) to store food items you might typically wrap in plastic. Folks from Bee’s Wrap stopped by this summer to talk with us about becoming a B Corp and sustainably growing a family-owned business. They left behind Bee’s Wrap samples which we handed out to help promote Plastic Free August. Thanks, Bee’s Wrap!
Plastic Free August was conceived and executed by Badgers Caity, Jess, Rebekkah, Katie, Emmi, and Tal.