“Please Take One:” How to Encourage Customers Not to Waste

Reducing waste has significant economic, environmental and social benefits and is a priority for many businesses. If you are looking to reduce your company’s waste, customers may be the key. With a little encouragement, they can help you dramatically reduce the amount of waste your business produces every day through simple actions, like taking only the napkins they need instead of a handful.

To reduce the amount of waste your business produces, try starting here:

Educate customers on the impacts and opportunities

Share information to guide behaviors that can make a difference. For example, signage in a cafeteria that shows the average waste per visitor could help customers be more mindful of what they place on their trays. Additionally, a visual near the waste receptacles that identifies what specific foods, packaging, etc., can be recycled, composted or thrown away can help customers make educated decisions. Also, be sure to clearly inform employees and patrons of your need to comply with any new city and state regulations requiring upcoming zero waste to landfill goals.

Incentivize customers to be environmentally conscious

When it is appropriate, look for small ways to recognize and thank customers for participating in waste reducing efforts. Trader Joe’s grocery chain hosts a raffle for shoppers who bring reusable totes, and Starbucks gives a 10 cent discount when customers bring in their own mug. Consider implementing a small financial reward system for customers who take actions to help your business reduce waste and save money.

Give customers options

Include prompts in the customer experience that encourage intentional choices. For example, train restaurant staff to offer customers half portions, the option to split a dish or to box up leftovers (when these options are available). Or make digital receipts the standard, but offer printed receipts as an alternative.