A Meaningless Attempt to Inspire?

Sunday, March 04, 2012

I joined the waste-free challenge because I thought it would inspire my colleagues to rethink their habits in the workplace.

I already live a mostly waste-free lifestyle: recycling, composting, avoiding products with too much packaging, unplugging electronics when they’re not in use, turning down the heat when I’m away, turning off my computer screen when I leave the office, etc. This isn’t to say that I’m perfect or better than anybody. The point is that I make a conscious effort to reduce my share of waste. Sometimes it’s a hassle, but I do feel a sense of responsibility for my actions.

Let’s be honest. There’s no such thing as a completely waste-free lifestyle. Humans live on this planet. We have a right to use our fair share of its resources. Sadly though, I’ve come to realize that a large percentage of people I meet simply do not think or care about using their fair share. My last job was at an environmental non-profit here in Ottawa. I was living in a bubble. All the things that my past co-workers cared about seem meaningless here at the University. Waste, sadly, is everywhere.

(No styrofoam poutine.... amazing!)

It’s 2012. Anyone who pleads ignorance on basic behaviours like recycling or even reducing waste is simply lying or just plain lazy. I’ve seen people at the University throw out plastic bottles in their blue (that’s for paper) bins, when there’s a recycling station just down the hall. I’ve seen several people use paper towels to dry their dishes. Still others drink coffee from disposable cups every day. And the most egregious offence, in my opinion, is all the one-sided printing (let alone the massive amounts of unnecessary printing) that goes on around here. Perhaps the University should be monitoring its staff’s printing habits in an effort to shave costs.

I know, I know. This sounds like just another tree hugger ranting about saving the planet, right? Blah. Blah. Blah. I guess what I’m trying to say here is this: make a damn effort. There is no “away” when it comes to waste. It all ends up somewhere—whether that’s a landfill or polluting our kids’ future—and it’s everybody’s responsibility to think about their choices in an adult manner.  

I’m watching you.

~robert - guest blogger
photo credit - jonathan rausseo

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