You Create More Waste than You Realize

These days, businesses need to be sensitive to environmental issues. Like it or not, people look to you to be a community leader. Your example matters. What you do weighs more than what you say, but your words count too.

What are the most obvious forms your attitude toward the environment can take, good or bad? Chances are, recycling is near the top of the list. Whatever it is you do, you create waste. Take an inventory. Figure out what you waste and reduce it to zero. If waste is an inevitable byproduct, figure out if you can reduce it, then how it can be reused or recycled.  All of this will save your business money. Say you print lots of documents. Switching to paper that contains post-consumer waste while you print double-sided as often as possible cuts your paper costs in half or more. And you save trees. These days, trees are not just reams of paper with roots and leaves. They are carbon sinks—they take in carbon and store it in the form of wood and leaves or return it to the soil through the roots, all the while releasing oxygen. 

What is recyclable is between you and your commercial hauler. At the moment, given our dysfunctional recycling industry, that may be less than ideal. Rethink the situation. Examine every phase of every process. Create less waste by, well, producing less waste. Streamline a procedure. Look at what’s being thrown out and reverse-engineer ways to reduce or prevent the loss. Invent ways to reuse materials. Give credit to an employee who helps make a gain in efficiency. Have a contest among employees on the best way to reduce, recycle, or reuse waste and share the cost savings between the winner and an employee bonus pool.

If you encourage a reduce-recycle-reuse culture in your company or institution, and do it by rewarding exemplary behavior at every level, you won’t be able to keep the story to yourselves. Spouses will talk about it. Kids will bring anecdotes about it to school, where it will spread among the kids and back to their parents.  You’ll get coverage in local news outlets for your efforts, which will spur others to reduce their own waste-making. That’s being a true leader.

For an overview of NY Recycling guidelines, check out Recycle Right NY.