Thursday, August 27, 2009

Please Recycle After Reading

So, I've been working at the same company off and on for about fifteen years. In that time we've changed names at least four times, moved the location of group at least twice, centralized and decentralized a couple of times, and redone the organizational chart at least every six months. But the most interesting change has been the progression of the recycling effort.

When I first started, there was a bin in the break room for aluminum cans. I think that was about it. If you needed to recycle anything else, you gave it to Rvan, and he took it down to the county recycling.

Then we were each assigned a big white box, about eighteen inches high, with the footprint of A-size paper. On the box was printed all of the things that you could (paper) and couldn't (Post-its, plastic envelopes) put in the box. Those boxes were great, not for recycling, but as an easy supply of scrap paper and a time-based filing system. The one time someone came through and emptied the boxes, there was general outrage because we no longer had those scraps of paper that had design notes that you thought you were done with but really weren't. At that point we still had aluminum recycling in the break room.

In the cycle after that, the company went whole-hog. Our standard black plastic trash cans were labeled with a big fluorescent "recycling" sticker, and a tiny little piggyback bin was attached to the side with a round "Basura" sticker. The aluminum recycling bin was taken out of the break room because it was theoretically redundant.

(Sidenote: Okay, granted, 99% of our cleaning people have spoken Spanish as their native language (and you could get some interesting but scary stories from the Guatemalan about being beaten by the female police officers in his native land), but isn't it just the tiniest bit racist to assume that they can't figure out what the word "trash" is? After all, if I can figure out "basura" and I don't know Spanish, surely someone living in this country who is making a living cleaning office buildings can puzzle out one word of English, right?)

Anyhow, the reversal of the big and little cans confused a lot of people. Some followed the labels, others followed the prior purpose. After I worked late a few times I realized that it really didn't matter since the person emptying both the recycling and basura bins went around with one big trash can for both of them.

As it stands now, we each have our own (unlabeled) standard-sized trash can. And there is can and bottle recycling in the break room, along with non-confidential paper recycling in the copier room.

But if you need to recycle anything else (batteries, cardboard, etc), you give it to Rvan.


rvan said...

I take CFL light bulbs and plastic trash bags now too. You've got to keep evolving.

Theresa B (of Nebulopathy) said...

It's a good thing one of us is...

Eric said...

There's a box for batteries in the copy room. Actually two, one is for cell phone batteries.

It doesn't appear to have been empties in quite some time.

Theresa B (of Nebulopathy) said...

I think we have established that a labeled box does not recycling make.

Just avoid the middleman -- give your batteries to Rvan.