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PATA Challenge: Towards a low-waste lifestyle – Tips to reduce waste in the workplace

We conducted our last PATA staff knowledge development lunch workshop of the year on December 7, 2018. Our BUFFET campaign partner, Thai-SOS, joined us at the PATA Headquarters to raise awareness of issues surrounding food waste and to empower us to share this knowledge with others. You can read the full recap here.

At the end of the workshop, the PATA Sustainability & Social Responsibility Department challenged staff members to a low-waste lifestyle week. This challenge aimed to put the staff’s new knowledge from the workshop into practice and also to serve as a way to encourage conscious consumption and waste reduction of food in its entire cycle (including purchasing, preparation, during consumption, etc.). To participate, staff members had to post pictures of their meals (before, after or both) and specify in the caption what conscious efforts they had made to refuse any form of avoidable waste.

In this week’s Green Tips, we are sharing our new knowledge with you so you can also try to adapt your lifestyle, even at work.

1. Have lunch together

Colleagues who lunch together stay together. Better yet, they can also help finish your fries or the cucumber on your chicken rice that you always pick out. In PATA, our pantry’s drawers store enough reusable durable containers that staff members can easily carry with them to take-away some dishes from local hawker stalls. You can find PATA staff members eating their green curries, som tams and ka prows, family-style at the pantry. This not only saves them money in the long run, it also keeps food waste on the low.

               

Say no to plastic caps & straws

2. For the love of coffee

The day does not officially start until you get your first cup of coffee. We can all agree that most of the time, it’s just much easier to make your way to a Starbucks and get a coffee to go. In Thailand, locals much prefer their kaffe-yen (iced coffee) from a coffee stand. One thing in common about this type of take-away coffee is that it’s always served in a plastic cup, topped with a plastic cap, garnished with a plastic straw and tucked into a plastic bag. It’s high time we break this Earth-killing combo and start saying no to all this avoidable plastic! It is best to bring your own reusable bottle always, but on occasions where you don’t, opt for no plastic caps and straw. Rather than carrying the cup in a plastic bag, hold it with some compostable tissues.

3. Reusable bags, containers and bottles

Everyone should own these top three necessities to live a sustainable life – reusable tote bags, durable containers, and reusable water bottles. Keep these items close to you at all times and you’ll be surprised by the amount of plastic you can refuse in a day. Do not let places with a “plastic bag culture” be an excuse for you to take it. Always choose to refuse a plastic bag even if it means you will have to awkwardly remove your items from the plastic bag it was given in.

4. The power is in your hands

Food is prepared by caterers, but the ultimate decision to leave food scraps behind are made by the consumers. It’s really a shame for someone to pay for their food only to have some of it wasted and tossed into the bin. If you are feeling kind of full at lunchtime, ask for half a portion of your meal instead of leaving it behind. Alternatively, you can always bring your own container and pack half of your lunch to eat later. We are ultimately saving the environment by making sure all the food we purchased, we finish. So, don’t get intimidated by the strange looks you might get as you pack your leftovers. Make it the norm!

5. Sustainability hero

When you have a sustainability hero or green team in the office, they play a big part in influencing other staff members to live a sustainable lifestyle too. You should never be ashamed of the sustainable choices you make in your daily life. Explain to your colleagues why you would rather drink your milk tea without a straw. Call them out if they could’ve avoided using any avoidable wastes. Once you are known as a sustainability hero in the office, you’ll start to see colleagues hiding their plastic bags from you and eventually, they’ll start refusing them the next time they purchase something.

Our challenge lasted for a week to ensure that staff members are consistently mindful of the decisions they make in their daily lives. During PATA’s Christmas dinner, staff members who successfully followed all the guidelines won gift vouchers – a way to commend their efforts and empower others to follow suit.

Did you know?

We only have 12 years to limit a climate change catastrophe. Even half a degree increase in world temperature will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

If you would like to do the same in your workplace, feel free to drop us an email to SSR@pata.org for more information. We hope that you are able to incorporate these 5 tips into your daily lives and make sustainable living your new year resolution!

Extra reading:

Do your part to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Learn to regrow some of your kitchen scraps here.

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