Lean, Clean, and Green; Tips on Setting-Up a Simple Corporate Recycling Program From Anthro Corp.
Many companies would like to do more to keep the environment clean, but may think it takes up too much time and energy. “Not true, “ says Cathy Filgas, co-founder of Anthro Corp., Technology Furniture®, a manufacturer and e-tailer known for its unique computer furniture. “with minimal effort, we ended up with a terrific program and we’re saving money. When we started our efforts in 1994, we challenged ourselves to produce zero landfill by the year 2000. " Thus started the Anthro Earthworks Committee. The company manifesto: to become an ecologically —and economically —sustainable enterprise. "We haven’t met our ambitious goal yet, but we’re darn close. Groups have tried to nominate us for ‘green’ awards, and while we’re flattered, we can’t accept until we get to zero,” adds Filgas.
Here are some simple steps to develop your own ecology program:
- Start with a passion. Ask your employees who would be interested in joining the recycling committee. You’d be surprised how many folks care about this topic. Do monthly brown bag lunches to talk about what annoys folks regarding the recycling (or lack of) in the company. Begin by tackling those topics (could be as simple as glass jars in the trash as to what to do with the manufacturing waste products).
- Include everyone. Ask your employees via a quick survey (at the company meeting or by email) what would make them recycle more at the company. You’ll find that the biggest issue is education—they don’t know what to recycle or where to put it.
- Meet with your local hauler. Find out what they do with the recycling and what they can do for you. Your hauling fees will reduce if your trash bins are empty and your recycling tubs are full. And they might pay you for some of your recycled materials (cardboard, metal, etc).
- Put recycling tubs everywhere. Make it so easy for folks to recycle, there is no excuse for not doing it. Have tubs for metal, plastic bottles, glass, paper, etc. Get rid of trash bins in folk’s cubes so they have to take a second look at what they want to throw away.
- Start a compost pile. Why throw good mulching material away when your gardens can use them? Have compost tubs in logical locations and folks will use them.
- Reuse paper. Have trays in employee’s cubes to put paper that is only used on one side. Use it in the copiers and printers. It is a huge cost savings and it is so good to the environment.
- Don’t break the chain. Incorporate recycled materials into your products or packaging. Then make it easy for your customers to recycle again. (Shun plastic and bubble wrap; though technically recyclable, it’s tough to find an outlet for these items.)
- Pass it on. Offer hard-to-recycle items free to employees, vendors, or local business and community groups. As they say, one company’s trash is another’s treasure.
- Walk, bike, or carpool. Encourage employees to leave their car at home. Your benefits program could provide vouchers to cover bus tickets, or fuel and parking costs for carpools.
- Put your money where your mouth is. Invite your employees to do the same. When United Way comes to speak at your company meeting, have an environmental concern come to speak as well. Give your employees an opportunity to support each or both. Coordinate a clothing/housewares drive or rummage sale for a local homeless shelter. You’ll help employees to clear clutter, keep discards out of landfills, and help the needy, too.
- Good enough never is. Keep looking for more and better ways to do things. Even if it means revisiting the same topic. Example: restroom hand-dryers or paper towels —which one is more eco-friendly?
- No excuses. Everyone is busy and sometimes it’s hard to find time for one more initiative. But insist that it happen anyway. (And make sure you walk your talk.) If management doesn’t champion the program, who will?
Anthro Corp., Technology Furniture, designs, manufactures and markets furniture for technology for the corporate, engineering, healthcare, government, educational, and home markets. Anthro was founded in 1984 as a spin-off of Tektronix, and became an independent company in 1988.