By Tori Oman, Associate Manager, International System Communications
I recently visited an old friend in New York City. We stopped for a pick me up at of those new age coffee houses —you know, the ones that have recycling bins for every piece of disposable you can think of—which took us down the good ole’ “remember back when” path of our high school days. “Didn’t you try and start a recycling club in high school?” he teased. ‘Teased’, because YES, yes I did. I was the kid that started a recycling club in high school with aspirations of making the world a greener place. Unfortunately for me, my club was a tiny party of two – me and my pal Chris, who I’m pretty sure was only a member because he felt bad watching me haul buckets of paper, plastic and aluminum out to the recycle bin near the gym (where the cool kids hung out) by myself. Long story short, due to lack of man power, the Recycling Club mighty team of two’s photo only made an appearance in one yearbook during my high school career.
Now, fast forward 12 (YIKES) years later to my job at Pizza Hut, and I’m pleased to say that my childhood dreams of saving the world are starting to come true- and coincidentally, in partnership with a NEW pal, who is also named Chris. This Chris started the grown-up version of the Recycling Club at our offices, with a kick butt, super power name to match: The Green Team.
The Green Team kicked off with a pep rally hosted by Roger McClendon, Yum!’s Chief Sustainability Officer. Attended by about 30 of our environmentally-conscious associates who all have an inner hippie, we spent an hour brainstorming and talking about ways we can do our part to make the world a little cleaner. As our headquarters are a moderately environmentally-conscious building, we brainstormed on how we could take things a step further around the building. One of the big conversation points was that, while the building does recycle, many of the bins aren’t conveniently placed or associates aren’t aware of them: a common problem many large corporate offices face. We wondered, how much of what we are throwing away could actually be recycled? And how do we figure that out without literally digging through all of our garbage to see?
Well, as it turns out, you literally have to dig through all of our garbage to answer that question. So that’s exactly what grown-up, save the world pal, Chris, and I did. We teamed up with Kim from the Plano Public Works Department to take a visit to the dump and sort through a week’s worth of garbage from the Pizza Hut office. Going into this adventure, I expected a few things-
a.) For it to smell.
b.) For Chris to follow through on his promise of coffee and breakfast in exchange for digging through trash at 7am with him.
c.) For there to be a lot of trash.
All three expectations were met. It was smelly, coffee/breakfast was delicious, and yes, there was a lot of garbage, but we realized something pretty quickly- a majority of the waste we were producing as an office could actually be composted or recycled. That’s good news for the Green Team! What’s even better news, is that the infra-structure (we have both programs) to do so is already in place at our offices – we just need to get the word out! Like this! —
“Hey Jim! That Pizza is compostable, don’t trash it, let’s MASH it!”
“Hey Judy – that yogurt in a plastic cup is tasty, now that you’re done, let’s recycle- not WASTEY!”
…Ok, so maybe we have some work to do on the messaging, but I feel pretty confident that if we put our bins in more visible and convenient places, make some easy to digest labels, and then verbally tell people about the difference we could make, we’d see some pretty significant progress. I really believe that all people want to do good and pitch in to make a difference, and sometimes they just need a little push.
As corny as this might sound, and as nerdy as the recycling club was (and may still be), our reality is that we all live on this beautiful earth that has limited space and resources. It’s our responsibility to take care of it the way it takes care of us.
Green Team out.