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How to Have a Socially Conscious Workplace

We women tend to be worriers.  It’s not that we’re neurotic…we just have a lot on our minds.  Sometimes we worry about little things, like whether the boss found our comments at the staff meeting witty and insightful, or flippant and vague.  Sometimes we worry about big things…like war and disease and the general condition of the planet our children will be inheriting.

Put in the proper perspective, worry can be a good thing.   It shows we’re aware of the world around us, and a little awareness can make a big difference.  In the 1970’s a group of environmentalists became aware that the whale population was teetering on the edge of extinction.  Because of their activism and support some species of whales have recently recovered sufficiently to be removed from the endangered list.

While you may not be quite ready to hop in an inflatable boat and use your body to shield marine mammals from harpoons, you can still make a difference in your local community and even in the world community just by the choices you make and the products you purchase every day.

Start an Office Recycling Program

Did you know that paper and paperboard make up the largest component of solid waste by weight in the U.S.?  Over 40% of municipal solid waste is paper - about 71.8 million tons each year. Recycling office paper makes economic and environmental sense.

Starting a recycling program at work not only benefits the environment, it may even benefit your company’s bottom line.  Many recyclers will pay for properly sorted paper products.

If your company is too small to contract with a recycler, consider teaming up with other companies in your business complex, or check to see if a local school or scout troop might be interested in putting collection barrels in your office to raise funds.

Once your recycling program is in place, close the loop by using recycled and recyclable products in your office including paper, ink cartridges, and even pencils.


Gourmet scented Smencils, are pencils made from recycled newspaper wrapped around #2 graphite and soaked in environmentally-friendly fragrance liquids.  Or if you prefer something less aromatic, try our Translations Pencils. Made from the recycled pages of Japanese-language newspapers, each pencil is a one-of-a-kind work of art.

Reduce Office Waste

A simple step you can take to reduce waste in your office is to change the default setting on office copiers to print double-sided pages.  By printing your 10-page report on only 5 sheets of paper, you’ve effectively reduced consumption by 50%.  Better yet, send your report electronically and reduce consumption by 100%.

Another way to save not just paper but also time and labor, is to cut back on the amount of junk mail that comes to your office.  In the time it takes to make a few phone calls, you can have your company’s address removed from major mailing list databases and specific company mail lists. For more information on reducing company junk mail, contact the National Waste Prevention Coalition.

Ceramic Memo Board

At See Jane Work we offer several waste reducing products that you can add to your office supply list.  The Ceramic Memo Board works with a dry erase marker, so you can write quick notes and reminders and then wipe them clean when you’re done.  If you need to take a note or a list with you, the Russell+Hazel 11x11 Notepad comes with an adjustable, wrap-around tear strip so you can tear off only as much paper as you need.

Cat and Dog

In the grand scheme of things, staples probably aren’t a huge environmental issue.  They’re awfully small, and at my office anyway, most of them become permanently embedded in the carpet long before they ever make it to the landfill.  But staples are made in factories that take energy to run.  They come in boxes made from cardboard which comes from trees, and then they are shipped in trucks which run on fossil fuels.  Staple Free Staplers work by punching a tiny tab into the corner of up to four sheets of paper.  They consume nothing but a little elbow grease and they’ll save you time because they never run out of staples.  They’re totally portable and available in six colors, or check out our new Cat and Dog Staple Free Staplers.

Think Durable Not Disposable

Remember how your grandma always saved jam jars and margarine tubs?  It might have seemed kind of quirky, but actually Grandma was a trendsetter.  By cutting back on our consumption of little things like cups and even ballpoint pens we are saving the energy required for production, packaging, delivery and even recycling.

Start by bringing your own coffee mug to work.  If the office coffee makes you gag, consider purchasing a refillable mug from your local coffee house.  Many shops offer a cup discount if you bring in their, or sometimes even your own, cup.

Ceramic Memo BoardAero Water Tumblers make a great reusable alternative to disposable water bottles and the contoured screw-on top makes them easier to carry, even when your hands are full.

Re-using cardboard boxes to store office supplies, files and equipment is actually one step better than recycling.  The lidded boxes that paper comes in are great for short-term storage, and See Jane Work shipping boxes are made from durable, high-quality corrugated cardboard that can be used and re-used several times before they’re finally ready for the recycling bin.

Cat and DogPlastic ball point pens that are sold by the dozen are tacky at best, wasteful at worst.  Refillable LAMY Safari Pens are available in both Rollerball and Fountain tips, and collectible, refillable Acme Rollerball pens are functional works of art.

Keep used shopping bags in the office break room or kitchen and you’ll always have a bag handy to take home the last piece of birthday cake (or to lug home the work you’re going to have to do over the weekend.)  Better yet, keep a few Instant Carryall Bags in your desk drawer, glove compartment or tote.  They store in a compact nylon pouch and then unfold to a roomy and durable 20” x 18” shopping bag.  Use them when you go to the mall or the grocery store, and keep them on hand at work and home.

Save the World

Well maybe not the whole world…but by pooling your resources, you and your co-workers can make a difference.  There are literally thousands of non-profit organizations from which to choose.  The American Institute of Philanthropy website can give you more information about giving wisely.

Ceramic Memo BoardAt See Jane Work, finding a cure for a disease that kills nearly 41,000 American women each year is understandably close to our hearts.  Our Correspondence With a Cause Note Cards are simply beautiful, and for every set you purchase, we will make a $1 donation to The National Breast Cancer Foundation.  Breast Cancer Awareness Pens were designed exclusively for the Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.  A portion of each sale goes to the foundation in its support of research, community-based education, screening and treatment projects.

We were thrilled to discover beautiful, globally-conscious filing products from Boon.  Boon File Folders and Accordion Files are made with 100% pulp-free abaca paper purchased from a paper-making program in the Philippines whose proceeds benefit local education outreach and a women’s shelter.

Cat and DogAnd for those of us who proudly hug trees, we offer Forest Stewardship Council certified Tree Lover Graphite Pencils. FSC certification means that the wood casings for these pencils come from forests that are audited for such criteria as their environmental impact, plantation management, and preservation of indigenous people’s rights.

It’s easy to become a bit overwhelmed by the enormity of the world’s troubles, but by conserving resources and supporting businesses and organizations that have socially conscientious policies, you can become part of the solution.  And that gives us all a little less to worry about.

If one of our ideas or products works for you, or if you have a solution you’d like to share, please let us know at

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