The importance of recycling has been taught throughout our educational system for I don’t know how many years now. Yet, as I talked to someone who works in the business and corporate cleaning industry a few months ago, a sad reality hit me.
I quickly learned that of the worst polluters of all on the planet (I.e., business), few it seems could care less.
If you think I’m just some tree-hugging goofball whose went off the deep end, I assure you I’m not. In fact, a little snooping and a lot of observing have confirmed what I was told.
In the growing, bustling, far-off suburb of Toronto, Canada I live in there are:
- At least 4 major car dealerships who do not have a commercial recycling bin on their property — nor do they leave any bags full of recyclables on the curb come recycling day, according to statistics collected by a Perth skip hire company. I can’t say anymore about this unfortunately, but I’ve heard local government has actually encouraged this behavior.
- 2 out of many local medical centers do not recycle — anything! Surprised? I sure was. My source has worked with others in my area in the past and has assured me this is common practice among those they have experience working for.
- I myself used to work in the food service industry in the area — full and part time at certain points over the years. None made any effort to recycle then. Excuses being waste of time and/or lack of place to store it until the truck came. And these weren’t local mom and pops either — think corporate. Sadly, looking at their current curb-sides on recycling day tells me they still do not.
Sure, maybe I’m just one case. One guy with a few disturbing examples of businesses that surely should recycle due to the recyclables they generate, but instead do not. But if you think that, my message to you was doomed from the start.
This isn’t an exposé piece or rant. I’m just hoping to ring a few bells and get your attention. If you’re an environmentally-responsible business owner: thanks. And keep up the good work! Obviously, we need more like you.
Here’s a few examples of common recyclables that many in business are still too lazy (or “busy”) to keep out of the trash:
1. Plastic Bottles
Please read this and either stop drinking pre-bottled water, or recycle the empty when you’re done. This is an epidemic, which is why many municipalities have imposed bans on bottled water sales.
Plastic is made from petroleum. If you drive a hybrid or whatever to save the planet’s oil, why aren’t you tossing the plastic in the right bin? It takes millions of years to replenish this most valuable resource and yet everyone; business or otherwise are guilty of tossing plastic in the trash or on the streets.
If your work doesn’t support recycling, crush the bottle into a tiny little handful of plastic, toss it in a bag or whatever and take it home with you — or to a local business, government building, or park that has a blue bin.
Not only are used electronics like batteries toxic and full of things that’ll still be around when/if the next ice age hits. They also contain other non-renewable resources like silver and gold which can be re-purposed and reused in your new e-toys. Thankfully, it’s illegal to throw this stuff out in most places in North America.
Did you know that there are tons of places that businesses can take their old PCs, monitors, printers, cell phones, etc., etc.?
They’re called electronics recycling bins. They’re big (usually green) bins that are scattered everywhere and free for you to drop off any e-waste you have. Responsible businesses like Staples and Best Buy also let you drop off your e-trash. This includes things like printer cartridges, batteries, cameras, audio equipment — even large appliances!
Just because paper is last on this SMALL list doesn’t mean throwing paper in the trash is any less egregious. I’ve talked at length about this with business owners and regular folks. Most just don’t care about recycling in general. However, some misinformed people actually think their sensitive paperwork is “safer” going in the trash for some reason.
Why would anyone believe such an outrageous belief? When paper is recycled, it’s ground up and mashed down into new paper products. And, the entire process happens within days!
When you throw it in the trash, even if you use a shredder, that paper will take at least two months to break down in nature, and the ink that you’re so worried about will likely last almost that long. We’ve all seen enough detective shows and movies to know what happens when a determined soul wants to get the low down on your personal or professional information.
Trees don’t take millions of years to grow though. Just 50 – 100 before they’re ready to churn out usable paper! Same goes for wood — there’s tons of places where you can take it to be recycled (I’m talking to you carpenters and general contractors!)
It’s Your Own Family’s Future You’re Destroying
If you’re a business that doesn’t recycle, or you know of or work for one, it’s time to start thinking about the future of the planet. Though “family first” is a credo many of us use, the worst recycling-offenders out there fail to recognize that when you don’t use the blue bin, you’re robbing future generations of the resources we all currently (and wastefully) enjoy.
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Main Image Credit: City of York/Flickr