At work I am known as the person who despises waste and I am really thankful for that reputation.
I am generally not afraid to challenge the unnecessary wasteful activities of others and the waste policies of my work place.
I obviously try to approach these issues with the necessary tact and diplomacy but sometimes I see something that cannot be dealt with in this way and these situations force me to take direct action.
After leaving a meeting one day, I was approached by my colleague who was itching to show me something outside of our building, he told me to prepare myself.
He knew that the scene would make me angry and he was right. This is what I was faced with:
A new company was moving into the offices directly opposite to ours and they were clearing out the previous tenants stuff.
As you can see from the picture, the items inside the skip are practically brand new and look like they’ve never been used!
The items included:
- 2 like-new office chairs
- Office dividing screens
- Computer equipment
- Computer bags
- Display boards
- A flip-chart stand
I was outraged by this blatant waste of perfectly good resources right in front of my face and I could not stand back and do nothing, so I called our central university sustainability team to see what could be done about it.
Our sustainability manager informed me that skips were not allowed on site for any university department and that proper waste management procedures were in place to deal with all types of waste generated by the university.
However, he also informed me that because this group were tenants and they were not directly employed by the university that the rules were different and the university had no power to stop them ordering a skip to dispose of items.
He was just as disgusted as I was at this loop-hole in the university policy which allows people to throw away perfectly usable goods and products.
Unfortunately as I was on the phone to the central team the truck driver turned up to collect the skip. This meant that I couldn’t even rescue any of the items myself: once the waste is in the possession of the disposal company we are legally not allowed to take any of the items from the skip.
I only wish that somebody in our office had challenged the people throwing away the items instead of waiting for me to get out of my meeting, then we may have saved a few of the items that could be used by other people.
It should be the responsibility of all of use to challenge wasteful behaviour, not just the person with the loudest voice.
Sometimes the people doing the wasting are not even aware of the consequences of their actions, it is up to all of us with knowledge of this area to help to inform others about the environmental damage this type of behaviour can have. It is always best to do this in a non-confrontational and non-patronising way.
Don’t be afraid to challenge wasteful behaviour when you see it, sometimes people won’t listen but I have found that in most cases people will understand the explanation you give and try to be better about wasting resources.