NICOLE MILLER CLEANS HOUSE: In an effort to do her part to reduce plastic refuse, the New York designer has lowered the boom in-house on staffers to do a better job of recycling. She first made her case in the company’s internal newsletter about four weeks ago. By using refillable cups instead of throwaways, the 80-person company has reduced plastic trash by 100 percent in that time, Miller said.
But the designer is not new to recycling, having made various efforts through the years. Hangers and plastic bags are among the necessities that are used again and again. Filtered water was offered to the company’s 80 staffers years ago. Miller said, “I was very frustrated by the huge pile of plastic cups in the recycle bin every night. I got on everyone’s case about bringing their own coffee cups and cold drink cups. And the more I got into it the more issues there were.”
Miller has also used the newsletter to remind employees about using a refillable water bottle at the gym and having mesh bags at the ready for grocery store and other shopping. The Seventh Avenue office is eliminating plastic cups and bowls in favor of paper or glass options. “Basically, we have to educate them to care and take the whole thing personally,” she said.
The designer recently reminded employees that while cardboard cups “are not as bad as plastic, every disposable coffee cup comes with a plastic lid!” She also made a plug for Copco cups, which can be purchased on Amazon, and she retrieved her own from a kitchen cabinet. Vowing to keep a plastic bottle near her door to arm her before heading to the gym, Miller said she never goes to the coffee shop empty-handed (thanks to Copco cups.) “Bit by bit, you have to change your routine until it becomes something you do naturally. If you start taking these small steps at home and in the office, it will truly add up.”
Miller said, “Plastic has always been a pet peeve of mine. Years ago, I used polar fleece that was made from recycled plastic bottles. I have always tried to use these fabrics when I find them. But it would be better not have to have excess plastic in the first place. So if everyone starts to do their part in the workplace and at home we’ll make a difference.”
And her efforts appear to be contagious. “Also, the feedback I have gotten has been incredible with people making suggestions and lauding our efforts. People have even said they are going to institute change in their own offices.” she said.
Showing an iPhone photo of one day’s worth of the office’s recyclables, Miller noted how Starbucks patrons can be identified since first names are written on cups. Having reminded employees of that, Miller said one employee jokingly told her that she would tell the barista she is “Nicole.”