Ask Eartha: Help create a recycling program at your work
I am very good about home recycling; however, I feel guilty at work because there is no recycling available. How can I convince my workplace to start recycling?
— Camilla, Silverthorne
Thank you for your question this week Camilla, and might I say this is inspiring! Starting a new program at any business can be difficult, so I hope this article can provide you with some resourceful information to help get you started.
For those who are not familiar with the benefits of recycling, here are a few facts to help get you interested. Did you know that aluminum is an infinite recyclable? Meaning that aluminum cans can be recycled into new cans over and over infinitely without degrading the material. Glass is an infinitely recyclable material, as well, and it is actually cheaper to make glass out of old glass than with virgin silica. Finally, decomposing landfill waste is the largest human contributor of methane to the atmosphere. So, by recycling you are actually curbing carbon emissions.
Now, let’s help you come up with a plan to implement a recycling program at work. For starters, you will need to present a plan to your boss that persuades them to begin recycling. While most of us would love to simply say, “Because it’s good for the environment!” that does not always provide a big enough incentive for businesses.
Do some research. In most cases, recycling is cheaper than trash pick-up — a smaller load means lowering your costs. Some recyclable items can be quite heavy while also taking up a lot of space. Take glass, for example: If you are able to keep glass out of your trash, that greatly reduces the weight and volume of trash you produce. (Just remember that in Summit County, glass needs to be recycled separately regardless of if you use a recycling service). A great resource for glass recycling is a business called Clear Intentions. They ensure that 100 percent of this material gets reused or recycled. Do some research on waste haulers, and I bet you and your boss will be pleasantly surprised with the comparison in recycling and trash pickup costs.
Green is in! Whether it is voluntary or not, there is no question that our society is moving towards a green revolution. Customers that not only like to see a business that has the quality of their business in mind, but also enjoy seeing companies who take steps to “be green.” A proposal to your boss about greening the company can come from an advertising standpoint. There is actually a business program available for each town that is sustainability project-based. It is free to join, and, if approved, your business can receive free advertising and cash rebates for taking on green projects. If you think the program would be of interest to the company you work for, you can call High Country Conservation Center.
Ask your neighbors. If you know of businesses who do recycle and have found success from it, go in and ask them how they got started. It is always helpful to have an example of a successful program when you are trying to make your argument as to why you think a program or initiative should be implemented. You may also want to see if your business is part of a town dumpster enclosure. Often times, this cost is already built into your lease or bills, so you really wouldn’t be paying extra costs to take your recycling there.
Keeping up with your initiative. Starting anything new at a business can prove to be difficult. However, if you establish clear rules, regulations and appoint a head person to oversee the operation, you will have a much easier time. Start small and work your way up. You can start by recycling cardboard and paper and work your way up to recycling all accepted materials. Make it easy for people. A recycling program will not work without appropriate signage and bins, and be sure your customers are aware of the initiatives you are taking through verbal or written communication. Although we’d like to think so, not everyone is familiar with recycling and the benefits it has for businesses, society and the environment. So make it fun. You could create a poster showing how much waste you divert from the landfill through your recycling program. Simply calculate how many bags of trash you use per week (or per month) and see how that changes when you begin recycling.
I hope these guidelines get you off on the right foot. Do not get discouraged if your proposal is shot down the first time. Keep doing your research, and I’m sure you will be able to convince your business as to why recycling is beneficial economically, environmentally and socially. Instead of being trashy, be classy through recycling!
Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at email@example.com.
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