Live Green @ Work
Are you a business owner or manager? Does your workplace have a Green Team or is perhaps looking to start one? There’s a lot that you can do to save money and reduce waste, water & energy use to create a greener workplace.
Reduce waste, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions & water use. Green your commute. Find resources & group opportunities.
Goodbye disposables, hello reusables!
You’ll save money – and the environment – with a waste-free lunch that contains no throwaway packaging or leftovers. Encourage your colleagues to join you!
- Pack your lunch in a reusable lunch bag
- Use reusable food containers (preferably glass, not plastic) without plastic wrap, foil, etc.
- Bring your own cutlery and a cloth napkin from home.
- Include a drink of your choice in a stainless steel reusable bottle.
- Left-overs? Pack them in a microwavable glass container or use a thermos to keep hot items hot.
- Invest in a travel mug – there are so many beautiful colours and designs! Then, you can find a coffee
- shop through the Live Green Card program that offers a discount when you bring your own mug!
Bins, posters and more ways to reduce and manage waste
- Check to see what types of waste collection and diversion programs are required at your workplace.
- Certain recyclables, such as paper for example, may need to go in a grey bin, while other recyclables go in a blue bin. Organics may go in a green bin, and garbage in a black bin. Using a colour-coded bin system will help to reinforce what staff likely practice at home.
- At each employee’s workstation, provide a recycling bin for paper, and a small clip-on garbage bin. Staff can empty their bins in the larger, centrally-located communal bins. Place communal recycling and garbage bins in common areas throughout the office. Be sure to label each bin (recycling, garbage, etc.) and display a poster with images of items that typically go in each bin.
- Place communal green bins in kitchen/common areas for food waste, paper towels, etc. Label these bins, too, and put up a poster with images of what’s acceptable, and what isn’t.
- Consider printing and displaying these posters to make it easier for everyone to know what goes where.
Don’t know what goes where? How to dispose of that coffee cup, food container or plastic gadget? Ask the Waste Wizard! It’s an easy to use, searchable online database that makes it easy to find out what goes in each bin. And, it’s just a click away.
Consider introducing other staff to the Waste Wizard through your internal newsletter.
Find out more ways to reduce what goes to landfill.
These City-operated disposal centres enable residents and businesses to get rid of items not accepted in curbside collection. Check the list of acceptable items before you go!
With 30,000 members in Toronto and growing, Bunz is an online service that facilitates the exchange of furniture, electronics and more.
A sharing collective with over 5,000 members worldwide, Freecycle is an online service that helps people and organizations give away unwanted items.
Did you know?
Cross-contamination, i.e. mixing food waste with recycling, for example, is a big problem that can cause more items than necessary to end up in a landfill. The City of Toronto is developing a Long Term Waste Management Strategy that will guide future decision-making and see the implementation of policies and programs that prioritize reduce, reuse and recycling to minimize the amount of waste going to landfill.
Use these quick tips to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions from electronics:
- Unplug cell phone and tablet chargers as soon as they are charged. Up to 50% of the electricity they draw is wasted as heat
- Plug devices such as computers, monitors, printers, WIFI routers, etc. into a power bar with a timer to shut off overnight and on weekends
Reduce energy and greenhouse gas emissions with this easy tip:
- Plug coffee makers, microwaves and other small appliances into power bars with timers so they are only on during the hours you typically use them
- LED (Light Emitting Diode) bulbs last longer and require less electrical power that standard light bulbs
- Clean/dust your light fixtures and bulbs regularly
Quick, easy tips to reduce water use at work:
- Keep a jug of drinking water in the fridge, avoid the need to run the water until it’s cold
- Run the dishwasher only when full, and use the energy-saver (or shortest) cycle
- Give your dishes a very quick rinse, and turn off the tap between rinses
Did you know?
- The average Toronto resident uses approximately 253 litres of water per day; each day about 1.23 billion litres of water is supplied to all residents and businesses in the city
- Processing, transporting and distributing water from Lake Ontario to our taps requires a great deal of energy
- When we save energy, we not only reduce our own costs, we reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change
- Never put oil, grease or garbage of any kind down the drain
Smart Commute works with employers and property owners across Toronto to promote and encourage their employees to commute in sustainable ways such as:
- by public transit
A program of the City and Metrolinx, Smart Commute also offers on-site cycling and walking workshops for employees, online tools to find and share rides, and more. Learn more about Smart Commute and if your employer isn’t a member, suggest that they join.
Toronto cycling maps
With clearly-marked bike paths/lanes across the city, this map makes it easy to plan your route to work, school, shopping and more.
Suitable for novice and experienced cyclists, courses are available to help you learn how to cycle safely.
Bicycle friendly business awards
The Bicycle Friendly Business Awards honour businesses and organizations in the City of Toronto that demonstrate leadership in encouraging cycling by employees and/or customers. Feel free to nominate your employer.
There are lots of opportunities for individuals and green teams to get involved in a variety of events that help to keep our city clean and green:
Clean Toronto Together
Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup
Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) Stewardship Events
Habitat for Humanity
Toronto Green Community
In addition to greening your day to day activities, there are many ways to make meetings, conferences and special events more eco-friendly, too.
- Fill a pitcher or two with tap water, rather than provide bottled water at meetings
- Keep paper to a minimum
- Find an eco-friendly catering company – there are many great ones in Toronto
- Book offsite meetings in eco-friendly facilities – check their websites for details
- Consider teleconferencing rather than travelling to meet in person
- When travelling, book an eco-friendly hotel – ask the hotel for details or check their website
- The Green Key Meetings Program is about incorporating sustainable initiatives into meeting operations.