Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thinking About Garbage (a non-comic post for once)

So a new program at work is getting me thinking about garbage. The program involves taking away our garbage containers and giving us tiny ones that hook onto our recycle bins and I guess the idea is to encourage me to reduce the amount of garbage I toss out at work by limiting how much I can put in my garbage can. My first thought was what about throwing out the larger items that won't fit in there and aren't recyclable. I guess the idea is that I shouldn't be having anything like that but that seems a bit unrealistic at times. So I asked co-workers what they're plans for such items would be and the response was always the same (even with people who have gone through this before), that they would take it to a communal garbage can (the one near the kitchen) which tend to be large or if they get rid of those, take it home. And if they take it home then management can point to the numbers and say "Look, the program worked as we're generating less waste" but in the overall picture, the garbage is still going to the landfill. It's just taking a different/longer route.

This ties in to a complaint I've had, that it's sometimes a pain in the butt to recycle or do the right thing with waste. I'm not talking about the hassle of needing to separate paper and plastic. The thing is that I'm told I shouldn't throw out batteries, the new light bulbs, and other stuff, that I should take it back to some stores and other times I'm not told what I should do with it. The problem is I go to the stores and get the confused clerk who looks at me like I'm asking them to disable a nuclear device. They'll sometimes say they heard talk about a place I could take them on the other side of the city like it's some mystical place that nobody has actually seen. So they expect people to drive (or in my case take the bus) across the city to get rid of a couple light bulbs?

So what I'm thinking, companies probably shouldn't get caught up in the numbers and actually implement more helpful programs. Have spots at work where your employees can dump off batteries, electronics, or what not. It may be a little more costly and some people may look at the "waste" coming out of your building and see it higher than others but on the other hand, you'll be actually helping your employees to do the right thing but making it easier on them seeing as how work is someplace they go anyways instead of making them trek all over the place to throw stuff out.

But I guess that's just me wanting others to make my life easier (even if it also encourages me to do the right thing environmentally).

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