Plan for a Sustainable Office 2021

As we are all asked to return to campus (in some way), we need your help to influence new processes and habits with a more sustainable focus.

One of our most important goals is to reduce waste.  
Less waste means:

  • Reduced costs for your office and the University.
  • Needing less of the earth's resources (lower environmental impacts)
  • Less greenhouse gases released from landfills and using virgin materials - doing our part to mitigate the Climate Crisis.  
  • Less risk of trash ending up in the wrong place - like the St. Joseph River and the Pacific Ocean.  
Circular Economy

This might be a good time to implement new systems for a circular economy and reduce waste in our offices. 

Consider these suggestions:

  1. Purchase only what you need

    This is, of course, is the #1 thing your office can do to help the budget AND have a smaller impact on our planet.  Ask the question - Do we really need that?
    Example:  Go PaperlessThanks to the pandemic, we all have much more experience with this - making better use of shared documents stored on the cloud.  How many times have you made digital revisions without needing to print something out?  Let's retain some of these new habits of saving paper and toner.  Meetings can continue to be paperless!  Try to extend this to conferences and events that you host, too.

  2. Invest in what you buy.

    Be intentional about what you buy and consider spending a little extra money on items that aren't designed to break quickly or will need to be updated next year.  Opting for quality over price is almost always a more sustainable choice.

    Buy Recycled.  Remember, the whole system of recycling falls apart if we don't have the market demand for recycled products.  Did you know that Notre Dame has a price agreement with Office Depot via BuyND?  For example, a case of Boise® Aspen® Multipurpose Paper 30% Recycled, (Item # 116946) is actually cheaper than any other multipurpose paper you'll find on BuyND.  

    Buy products that are needed for recycling.  Currently, that means aluminum & steel cans, plastics #1 and #2, paper, and cardboard.  If your ultimate intent is to recycle it, make sure your item is actually recyclable.  Purchasing items consisting of two or more different types of materials bonded together are very rarely recyclable.  However, the K-Cycle program is one of a few exceptions.
  3. Take care of the things you buy.

  4. Maintain and repair - spend a little more to get a longer life out of the things you purchase.  For computer and hardware repair: Contact ND OIT.  
    Need something fixed?  Submitting an AiM Work Order request may be appropriate.
  5. Reuse extra office supplies.

    Set up an Office Reuse Station.  This can simply be a cabinet or shelf where someone in your office can place those extra staplers, pens, etc.  Do you really need that stash of 20 pens in your desk?   Share them with your co-workers. Include a box for single-sided paper where the blank side can still be used for scrap paper, 
    Establish some standards (just like Goodwill asks of us).  If you wouldn't use it because it is broken, then maybe it really is trash. 
    When someone is in need of a “new” office supply, establish protocols to check the Reuse Station before re-ordering any new items.

    ...And avoid single-use plastic bottles and coffee cups.  Maintain a collection of reusable beverage containers in your office.  Place a pitcher of cold water and reusable glasses on the conference table. 
  6. Recycle Symbol 1 8

    And then...Recycle

    This is intentionally at the bottom of the list (just before throwing it away).  Priority needs to be given to purchasing decisions upstream that support sustainability.  Then, of course - recycle as much as you can to minimize the end waste.  Currently, the recycling program is still on pause for all office buildings.  We will notify everyone as this changes.

K-Cups Pods are Now EASY to Recycle

K Cycle Steps

The number of K-Cup pods entering the landfill is staggering - all for a simple cup of coffee.  That is why Notre Dame has partnered with Office Depot and Keurig to provide a program for offices to recycle them at no cost.  If your office uses K-cup pods to make coffee - please sign up for the K-Cycle program:

How to get started:

Please plan on recycling only Keurig brand K-Cups.

  • Fill out the K-Cycle Sign-up Form and email it to Rob Hirshman.  This will create an account for you.
  • They will contact you.  Follow their directions for ordering a free box to collect the K-Cups. The box will arrive with a pre-affixed UPS return shipping label - all at no cost. If you don’t have a designated area for UPS pick-up, you can log-in to UPS CampusShip and Schedule a Pickup
  • Then, order another - and so on.


It is so simple.  Thank you to Office Depot and Keurig partnership for making this program possible.