a green living journey
The resistance: Turning CultureMap green isn't as easy as you'd think
I confess — since I started working at CultureMap, I’ve wanted to make some green changes. There are a lot of things working for us environmentally — like not using a lot of paper (online magazine). On the other hand, we never had a system set up for recycling trash — a basic starting point for any business.
The launch of our Green Living series seemed the perfect time to make the office green, or at least greener — and I have been given the challenge of doing just that.
A little research produced six relatively-easy (or so I thought) changes our office could make:
- Recycle trash (Plastics 1-5, 7; Aluminum; Steel; Paper; Cardboard)
- Place recycleable material into appropriate box in recycling center (see picture)
- Rinse plastics and aluminum cans
- Flatten Cardboard
- Take trash to Recycle Center once a week (with staff members taking turns)
- Reuse plates, mugs, utensils and avoid disposables
- Turn off lights
- Print on both sides of paper
- Carpool/Public Transport/alternate transportation day
- In order to decrease emissions, carpool, take metro, bike or walk to work once a week
Call me naive, but I didn't expect a lot of resistance, especially on point one. After introducing our makeshift recycling area, I explained what I thought was basic recycling maintenance — rinsing food and drink off trash. Shelby Hodge told me — in a pure Shelby polite, smiling, mannered way — that she wouldn't be rinsing her cans. In fact, this became something of a demarcation point. Shelby explained that while she even recycles her coat hangers at home — and truly believes in green — having to trek to the bathroom to rinse out a Coke can every time she finishes one isn't going to work for her.
CultureMapper Stephen Newman put the lid on an empty plastic bottle (not a water bottle) and thought this would replace rinsing. I tried to explain it doesn't work like that and was told, "You'll live."
Managing editor Chris Baldwin wondered if recycling wasn't more work than it was worth.
Columnist Caroline Gallay was down with the cans, the rinsing and the cardboard, but drew the line at the idea of taking public transportation. Caroline wondered if I'd read how many buses collide with trains in Houston.
I'm hoping attitudes will soften. I know change is hard, but aside from it being the procedure the City of Houston asks for, food and drink in the recycling bin is disgusting and attracts roaches (and we have plenty of those in Houston).
On the bright side, the majority of the office seemed accepting and even excited about the changes (at least Editor-in-Chief Clifford Pugh was). Clifford's been staring daggers at anyone who simply tosses their soda can into a waste basket for weeks.
Talk of carpooling and biking began to circulate (social media guru Fayza Elmostehi was ready to start pedaling on the spot).
Right now, I'm not sure where attitudes will be at the end of the month, but I'll give a weekly update tracking our progress. I'm definitely hoping that by the end, some lasting changes result.
Even if I'm doing a lot of rinsing.