#230 In which our hero does his part to save the planet, which avoiding any actual work on his part.
I don’t remember if I’ve written about this before, but I’m the recycling guy at my work. I never intended to become the recycling guy, but become him I did. It went down like this.
Couple of weeks after I started here, I noticed that the agency doesn’t recycle. I’d see aluminum cans in the trash, and it bugged me. Now, I’m not the super-dedicated save the earth type, but we recycle at home. Generally speaking, it’s not that hard to do, and it’s a good thing for the earth. Mother Earth, good karma, all that crap.
At work we have a suggestion box. You can drop in anonymous suggestions, or put your name to them. I bypassed that entire system and went right to the General Manager. Hey, I said. Noticed that we don’t recycle cans. We really should.
In my naivety, I assumed that this was a simple fix, and that no-one had thought of it before. I thought we could get in some recycle cans, and that would be the end of it.
As it turns out, we didn’t recycle cans at the agency because the building doesn’t recycle aluminum. They do recycle white paper and cardboard, which is dutifully hauled out by the cleaning staff every night. But there was no provision for aluminum. Which struck me as silly, but there you go.
The GM’s suggestion was that I gather a group of like-minded people with curb-side recycling at home, and we all take turns taking the cans home at night. Which seemed rather unworkable, to me. I mean, I didn’t want to take a leaky bag full of soda cans home in the trunk of my car, and I suspected that neither would anyone else. So I told the GM I’d think about it, and get back to her.
First thing I did was call the city. They confirmed that even though Akron has curb-side pick-up, they wouldn’t pick up from commercial buildings. Then I called a couple recycling places; they wouldn’t pick up unless it was a large amount of aluminum, as in a ton or more. So that was out.
Finally I asked around if anyone in the agency was involved with scouting. This is where I hit the jackpot. The husband of one of our production people was the fundraising chair for their kid’s troop.
I made him a deal: have the scouts come pick up our cans every week or so, take them to a metals recycling place (one of which is conveniently located three miles away from the office) and they could keep all the money. Perfect.
Management was very supportive of recycling; they ordered special recycling cans to put in the kitchens, created space in the warehouse to store them, and allowed me to work with a designer to create some signs and flyers, etc. At which point I thought my work was done. It bugged me to see aluminum cans in the trash, and now people had somewhere else to put them. Mission accomplished!
Then, it was decided that we should recycle other things, too. We contracted with a waste hauling company to pick up our used magazines (you wouldn’t believe the sheer amount of magazines a typical ad agency goes through). And this same company would pick up newsprint and plastic, too (but not aluminum).
So then we had to order more recycling cans, and the cans turned into recycling stations and suddenly it takes me the better part of an hour to collect all the crap from three separate stations and co-ordinate with the waste company to schedule pick-ups. And it was decided that I needed a committee to deal with recycling; so now I chair a committee of 12 people (only about five of which ever do anything). But still, everything was working very smoothly.
Until two weeks ago.
That’s when the scouting fundraising chair guy came to me and said that since his kids had dropped out of scouts a year ago, and he was becoming too busy at work, he wasn’t going to be able to pick up the cans any longer. And, he continued, no-one else in the troop was willing to pick up the slack.
So now there are 20 bags of cans in the back, and I don’t know what to do with them. Well, that’s a lie, of course… a couple of the guys on the committee have pick-ups, so we’ll have to load up the cans and drive them over to the recycling place ourselves. Which defeats the entire purpose of getting an organization like the scouts involved: I didn’t want to actually do any of the work.
I have people on the committee looking into other solutions… but it’s starting to look like it’s going to be a pain in MY ass, and not someone else’s.
All this because I bugged me that people put cans in the trash.