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Monday, July 22, 2024

Up To Your Waste

Seeing your impact firsthand, by Derrick Mains

Humans, like most living things, aren’t keen on being around their waste and remove it as quickly as they accumulate it.  The lesson then becomes how to save money and reduce your impact by taking time to analyze what we waste.  In the words of Adolph Coors, “All waste is lost profit.”

Burt’s Bees decided to take on that waste challenge.  They collected two weeks’ worth of operations waste, then dumped all of it out in the parking lot for their employees to sort through, explore and redirect.  They categorized the waste into three groups: 

1  | Items in the trash that should have been recycled through their recycling program 

2  | Items that they do not currently recycle, but could have recycled with a little effort 

3  | Actual garbage

This dumpster dive was a raving success.  Employees witnessed firsthand the volume of their collective waste and began to internalize the impact of their behavior.  On that day, 2.8 tons of recyclables were diverted from the landfill.  Since then, Burt’s Bees has diverted 65 tons of waste per year, resulting in a bottom line savings of $25,000 per year!  By 2020, Burt’s Bees plans to have implemented 100 percent renewable energy, zero waste and a LEED Platinum/ISO 14001 certified green building.

According to the Burt’s Bees website, they successfully eliminated landfill waste from their facilities in April 2010, meaning they no longer have a need for garbage pickup, because they have NONE!

Maybe you aren’t a multi-million dollar company.  Maybe you are a small business and don’t think your impact matters.  Not true!  According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American office worker uses approximately two pounds of paper and paperboard products per day.  Over a year, each of us consumes 10,000 sheets of copy paper.  Expand that thought to each worker in your zip code.  Understand that what you do matters. 

Turn this thought process toward your household.  Why not try dumpster diving at home?  It is a great way for you and your children to understand waste.  Analyze your impact and review what you are sending to the landfill vs. recycling.  For my family, a quick look at our waste helped us eliminate paper towels, saving us hundreds of dollars, lots of trees and reducing the number of times we put our trash bin out on the curb!

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