Pollution prevention and you at work

Pollution Prevention and You at Work

Pollution prevention, also known as P2, happens when people change their plans, practices and habits in order to reduce the generation of pollution and waste at the source, instead of trying to clean it up after the fact. Pollution prevention also includes activities that protect natural resources (i.e. trees, water) through conservation or more efficient use of resources.

The key to environmental sustainability is thinking globally and acting locally. Pollution prevention is about making smart choices - both in what we buy and in how we use products. It involves looking at the causes of waste and pollution and figuring out how to prevent them.

Believe it or not, you can help prevent pollution by taking steps to reduce the amount of waste generated by your workplace. There are many office activities that can be implemented in the workplace to save energy and water and to reduce the amount of waste created, thus eliminating pollution at the source.

Many people do not think of implementing pollution prevention practices at work. Take a look around you and see if there are ways that the amount of waste produced by your workplace could be reduced through simple changes in behaviour.

Here are some tips on how you can practice pollution prevention in the office:

Save energy

  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator for short trips in order to save electricity and get exercise.
  • Turn off lights and computer equipment at the end of the day to save energy.
  • Use fluorescent instead of incandescent lighting, to save on replacement costs and energy bills.
  • Purchase office equipment with automatic power-saving devices.
  • Encourage your office manager to reduce operating costs by replacing old equipment with energy efficient fixtures.

Save water

  • Ensure that taps are turned off tightly to avoid dripping.
  • Report any leaks (from toilet tanks and faucets) to the office manager.
  • Install water-flow-reducing attachments to faucets to reduce water use.
  • Encourage your office manager to replace old equipment with water efficient fixtures.

Reduce waste

  • Ensure that documents and photocopies are double-sided.
  • Use e-mail, when possible, to reduce the amount of paper used.
  • Instead of discarding old or malfunctioning items, have them refurbished or repaired.
  • Take your lunch to work in re-usable containers and a re-usable lunch bag.
  • If they aren't collected at work, take recyclable and compostable items home.
  • Encourage the implementation of a recycling program.
  • Organize an informal recycling program if there is no formal program in place.
  • Re-use paper that has only been used on one side (for note paper, draft copies or fax messages).
  • Re-use office supplies such as envelopes, paper clips, elastic bands, file folders, binders, etc.
  • Before throwing items away, see if your colleagues can use them.
  • Instead of using disposable cups, use your own re-usable coffee mug or glass.

Promote environmental thinking

  • Encourage purchases of paper and other office supplies from environmentally conscious manufacturers.
  • Utilize less polluting alternatives when commuting (i.e. carpooling, riding a bicycle, or taking public transit).
  • Promote the concept of pollution prevention (i.e. through projects, letters, papers).
  • Plan environmental education events.
  • Celebrate Environment Week!

Want to know more?

Visit the Canadian Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse for additional sources of pollution prevention information.

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