Activism on Greenpeace Day, Sept 15: Launch an Office Recycling Program!

47 years ago, a team of bold unknown Canadian ecologists, journalists & activists set sail into a nuclear test zone to peacefully protest the destruction of an island off the coast of Alaska. This brazen stance produced a wave of support that gave rise to Greenpeace; an independent organization committed to environmental protection & global peace. Since that day on September 15, 1971 Greenpeace has gained immense progress and engaged activists around the world. Today, we celebrate their anniversary on international Greenpeace Day.

Greenpeace operates in over 45 countries to protect our non-renewable natural resources, fight global warming, promote sustainable food sources & defend international democracy. They offer endless education to concerned citizens as well as opportunities to join the movement and make a difference. Greenpeace is an inspirational organization and we the people of Liberty Power want to do our part to follow their lead. We want to make recycling cool again.

The EPA estimates that 75% of American waste is reusable yet only about 30% of it is recycled. The reason for that may largely be a lack of knowledge on the topic. We’ve all been told recycling “is the right thing to do” but can we remember why? Here we offer a quick reminder of why recycling is so important & how you can affect change by starting a program at your own company.

Know Your Facts…

Before marching into your boss’ office with plans & demands, you will want to collect a toolbox of data to justify this request.

Recycling Reduces Energy Emissions
According to Greenpeace, it takes 95% less energy to process recycled aluminum as compared to making it from scratch. In fact, recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run your TV for 3 hours! The energy savings from processing other recycled materials are similarly staggering: plastic (70% less), steel (60% less), paper (40% less) and glass (30% less). In summary, recycling & reusing materials can reduce toxic energy emissions that contribute to global warming, smog, acid rain, and water contamination by 295%! Who wouldn’t want to be part of such progress?

Recycling Conserves Natural Resources
Need another reason? Wood, petroleum and aluminum used to make our everyday goods like plastic bags, toilet paper and cell phones are all non-renewable resources found in our forests, and below our earth’s surface. If we continue to chop down new trees and source new materials, we are depleting our environment’s natural resources. For instance, the paperless project states the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper (made from trees) a year and 45% of paper used is trashed by the end of every day. Recycling offers a way to preserve these resources.

Recycling Reduces Plastic Waste
The Greenpeace #BREAKFREEFROMPLASTIC movement highlights the blame that corporations have from trashing, rather than recycling plastic products that pollute our oceans & planet. Plastic production is set to multiply over the coming decades, yet a staggering 90% of plastics have not been recycled. Plastic pollution kills marine life & contaminates our tap water. Alternatively, we can encourage companies, starting with our own to make a small change to affect a HUGE global reaching problem.

Recycling Benefits Your (company’s) Bottom Line
Change can be uncomfortable, and your company may not want to bother with your recycling idea without understanding that there are real cost savings & benefits. For example, recycling cans, plastic and glass means that your company is reducing its weight in waste which costs more to pick up than recyclables. In addition to glass & plastic, your company can also return electronics like computers & smartphones to their retailer in exchange for a discount on new purchases! Lastly, implementing and tracking a recycling program can provide your business the opportunity to apply for government grants and tax incentives. In short, recycling is great for karma and for your company’s bottom line.

Now let’s get to the bread and butter of recycling implementation:

Step 1:  Gather a Team of Supporters
Clean River Recycling recommends gathering a small team of like-minded co-workers across business units. Change is always easier with support and your cross functional team can help you implement this green program smoothly. The most important staff members to involve in your recycling revolution is the custodial team who must support the program to make it a success. This team can help you implement a more effective program by ensuring that waste is properly allocated between trash and recycling bins.

Step 2:  Talk to Your Waste Hauler
Depending on the region, your waste pick up service will have different rules about which materials they will pick up and how the materials must be stored. For instance, some waste haulers allow recycling materials to be mixed while others require separation of all different streams. Different haulers will also have different pick up schedules and pricing rates. Check out this post for important questions to ask your waste hauler.

Step 3:  Select the Right Bins & Determine their Location
Programs with the highest rate of recycling success often utilize containers that collect all streams (waste & recyclables) in one container separated by dividers. This ensures that the staff will not simply select the nearest bin for convenience, rather than the right one. Recycling containers can be found everywhere from online retailers to brick & mortar stores like Home Depot & Lowes.

Once you’ve found the right model, consider that where you place the container will significantly affect whether people will use it. The best places are usually those with the highest foot traffic, such as meeting rooms & breakrooms.

Step 4:  Communicate the Launch
Now that you have a team of advocates and all the logistics settled, it’s time to communicate the goals and details to the entire staff. Try putting up posters around the office with reminders about where the bins are located, how to separate materials and some of the key environmental benefits of recycling. You’ve just implemented an earth saving program. Don’t be shy. Shout it down the hall! (well not literally)

At Liberty Power we are all about grassroots movements for change & innovation.  What are you waiting for?  Time to get started! Share your progress & questions with us on Facebook.  We want to know!

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