“No Scrap Left Behind:” recycling in the work place

Does your office recycle? If not, do you find yourself taking that coke can or yogurt container home with you so you can recycle it in

My recycling bin under my desk at work (dwarfing the little garbage can)

My recycling bin under my desk at work (dwarfing the little garbage can)

your own bins? Some people will argue that recycling everything in sight can be a bit of an inconvenience, but I’ve found that it’s not so bad. In smaller companies (like the one I work for), there isn’t always a recycling program. So why not start your own?

In our office, we’ve always recycled every imaginable type of paper, but never the tea bottles, the diet coke cans, the cans of soup, the plastic bags, and everything else. So a couple of years ago, I set up a trash can in the kitchen (with instructions) for everyone to dispose of their recyclables. It didn’t work out that well in the kitchen since there wasn’t really enough room for multiple trash cans. So I moved it under my desk. And, as it should be, the recycling trash can is bigger than my regular trash can – indicative of how much more recycling we should be doing instead of trashing.

Since then, I’ve gotten just about everyone in the office on board with recycling everything. They come by my desk to drop an item in the bin, I thank them, they may ask a question that leads into an impromptu mini-class on recycling, I hand out information about residential recycling in DeKalb County (see below), and once or twice a week, I cart off a garabage can full of recyclable materials that would have otherwise gone in the trash.

It’s not perfect – there’s still the guy who insists on drinking at least two Dasani water bottles a day, and “we” have a hard time letting go of the styrofoam cups that proliferate the kitchen cabinets, but we’re making progress. So if you’re frustrated by the lack of recycling in your office, don’t be. Just start your own recycling program and others will follow – there are bound to be some like-minded people.

For information on residential recycling and having the county or city come out and pick up from your house, please click the appropriate link below:

6 Responses to ““No Scrap Left Behind:” recycling in the work place”
  1. Congratulations on such a successful program! I also have spacial issues at work, and it appears I have the same bins you do. What I have done is taken the little bin and rotated it so it nests in the back of the larger, recycling bin. This way I don’t loose any floor space. Does your Dasani buddy know he is drinking tap water? 🙂 We are currently tackling paper reduction in our office, since everyone is pretty much on board with the recycling. If you decide to tackle that issue, I am posting about our program this week or next. Good luck!

  2. Byron says:

    I completely agree that starting to recycle gets other people on board quickly. At my old job, I double-siding everything I printed (it took a while for people to actually catch on…), recycle all paper (not just ‘confidential’), and brought in silverware to each lunch with. It turned into a lot more people bringing their own cups, lunches, recycling much more and even led to one person to walk around the two story office at the end of the day turning off various lights. It works, and it’s rewarding to push other people into a life of awareness.

  3. polly says:

    hey jenjen! i love the blog. looks great!
    you should talk to gabel sometime about the direction that holderbros is moving towards–design/build green.
    love you loads and loads.

  4. Dani says:

    Story of dissapointment with a happy ending:
    When our office had to move locations, we were all really relieved to see blue recycling bins in the office. We have a cleaning crew that comes in twice a week to remove trash. One night I stayed late working and for the first time witnessed the cleaning crew doing their sweep through our place. I totally sat their while they first dumped our trash into their bigger trash can, and then proceeded to dump all the contents of our blue bins into the same trash can. My heart sank. So, I first investigated the basement to check the levels of recycling versus trash. Then I told my boss, who then called up the building manager, who then gave a little lesson to the cleaning crew. I felt bad to scold the cleaners, but I think they honestly didn’t even realize what the difference was. Since then, I’ve witnessed them dividing up our waste and also have seen a huge improvement in recycling levels down in the basement where all offices’ stuff is dumped.
    Lesson learned? Make sure the cycle is linked all down the line!

  5. jpittam says:

    Thanks for the comments y’all! A few thoughts:
    >> No, I don’t think the Dasani guy knows he’s drinking tap water!
    >> We try to print double-sided as much as possible, too, and we have stacks around the office of one-sided prints that we then reuse in certain printers to print on the remaining blank side.
    >> We also have plates, cups, and dishes in our kitchen cabinets, we just need to get everyone to use them!
    >> I had someone tell me that it was a health hazard (and unprofessional) to serve our clients lemonade out of a glass that we’ve washed in our dishwasher, which is why we have styrofoam – have any of you ever heard of that?!
    >> Dani, I’m glad you helped get them on board! And that the levels have tipped closer to where they should be. 🙂 Luckily, the cleaning crew leaves my recycling bins alone at night.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] and cups to completely eliminate the need for plastics and styrofoam (see my previous blog about recycling in the office). We do have a mish-mash of cups and plates in the cupboards that serve most of our team […]

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