Organise a stationery amnesty in your office in 4 steps

Have you ever wondered how much stationary we collect over time? Unused pens, staplers, paper clips, highlighter pens, sticky tape, envelopes and other materials in our desk drawers have a cost for your business and for our planet. It is time to declutter your desk drawers! Organise a Stationery Amnesty in 4 steps.

A Stationery Amnesty is an event where everyone in an office or building is invited to get rid of their unused and unwanted stationery so it can be collected and reused. This saves money, as you don’t need to buy new stationery, prevents items from going to landfill unnecessarily, and frees up space. At a minimum, it is recommended to organise a stationery amnesty once a year, or more frequently if you consume a lot of stationery.

Here are 4 steps to successfully implement a Stationery Amnesty:


1. Get the approval from your management

To facilitate the approval process, make sure you clearly define your plan. Here is an example:

  • What: Stationary Amnesty
  • Why: Recover unused stationery to reduce waste, save money, and save our planet.
  • When: From Monday to Friday (in 2 months). Be specific and select a week when most staff are available (avoid holidays) and when there is not a lot of pressure (avoid the end of the financial year for instance).
  • For how long: 1 week. It can be shortened if there is a small number of people.
  • Where: 10th floor of the building. Gives an indication of the offices covered (floors, department, buildings…) and the number of people that you intend to engage for this event.
  • What is required: 4 collection boxes (one next to the printer, one of the furniture facing the entrance door, and one next to the two waste stations).
  • Impact on normal operations: Minimum. Staff will be invited to recover unused stationery during their breaks, and it should not take much time. Need to get support from team leaders to spread the word about the event.
  • Who: Define who will:
    • Promote the event (send emails out to the staff), 
    • Prepare the collection box 
    • Collect and redistribute the stationary at the end
    • Report on the success
    • If it is a small office, one person can do it all.

When organising a Stationery Amnesty, depending on the scope and goals, you can include additional items in your project plan:

  • Measurement of success: we will record the number and weight of items collected and calculate the cost savings.
  • Alignment with existing policies: explain if and how this project is aligned with your sustainable plan to reduce waste and the procurement policy to favour second-hand materials. If your project is aligned with existing corporate policies, it will be easier to get the approval from the management
  • Strategy to motivate people: when company culture favours competition, you can propose to compare the amount of stationary collected by the different departments or floors of an office building and reward the most successful team.

2. Prepare and implement your marketing campaign

Up to one month before the event:

  • Email: send a general email to inform staff about the upcoming event: when, where, how, and why.
  • Internal communication tools: if you have an internal newsletter or internal social media, share a post about the upcoming event.
  • Face-to-face: inform relevant managers (procurement and sustainability) about the event and how it could be used to promote internal policies.

Up to one week before the event:

  • Internal communication tools: share a reminder.
  • Face-to-face: talk to team leaders and ask them to spread the word about the upcoming event to their team members.

On the day:

  • Email: send an email about the start of the event,
  • Email: remind the team leaders about informing their team members to contribute to the event.
  • Internal communication tools: a reminder.

During the event:

  • Face-to-face: remind people about decluttering their drawers and congratulate people when you see them doing it. If there is a team event, use it as an opportunity to remind people about the stationary amnesty.
  • Remember to make it fun!

Up to one week after the event:

  • Email/Internal communication tools (whatever is the most appropriate): share about the success of the event.
  • Prepare a memo for the management team.

3. Provide suitable collection boxes

  • For the event, provide clearly labelled collection boxes/bags so they’re not mistaken for bins.
  • Install boxes at strategic points in the building such as
    • the printer room
    • the stationary room
    • next to centralised bins
    • on furniture located in areas with high traffic.
  • The humble photocopying-paper box is your friend – the lid and the box actually.
  • For greater motivation, take and share pictures of the amnesty.

4. Account all unused stationery

example of a record sheet for your stationery amnesty

Before redistributing the stationary, sort and record the items collected. Here is an example of a record sheet for your stationery amnesty.

What was done with the collected stationery?

All unused stationery was sorted and stored in the stationary room for other people to use when needed.


Start holding stationery amnesty now and let us know additional tips.

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About Zero Waste City

Zero Waste City is a consulting business specialised in waste reduction for commercial and industrial facilities. We help companies to save money by reducing waste and to achieve Zero Waste goals. Our services include:

Our services include:

  • Waste audit (quantifying waste streams and identifying immediate cost saving opportunities)
  • Compliance with regulations such as:
    • Mandatory Packaging Reporting
    • Mandatory Waste Reporting
    • Mandatory Food Waste Segregation
  • Project implementation and on-going support
  • Measurement and Verification of savings
  • Guidance to achieve Zero Waste goals and certifications.