Posted by Tom.Bross on 30. April 2009 09:50
I can’t remember not recycling. I got a good jumpstart on green living thanks to my mother who officially became a hippie in 1971. (She was an ‘unofficial hippie’ long before that.) My brothers and sisters and I grew up separating the organic garbage for composting and recycling newspaper, cardboard, plastic, metal cans and glass jars. We had a vegetable garden in the back yard. We ate what I felt was unfair amounts of bean sprouts, tofu and wheat germ. My Mom was into protecting Mother Nature long before it was popular and her ideals rubbed off on us kids.
We lived in Davis, California back then, which hosted community gardens, lots of bike paths, solar panels and greenbelts. When it came to ecology, Davis was on the cutting edge. Yet at the time, I was horrified to live in the same house with a woman who wore Birkenstocks purchased from the Whole Earth Catalog. Now I’ve come to appreciate how lucky I really was. I never had to make a conscious decision to live a more sustainable lifestyle – that’s all I knew. When it came to creating a business, I naturally favored something environmentally sound. But long before MyGoodGreetings.com was launched I had a variety of jobs where I fell into the role of ‘office recycling guy’.
My first real job after college was in Sacramento working in the art department for a national retail jeweler. Our team designed and oversaw the printing of the catalogs and in-store point-of-purchase materials. My first press checks were real eye-openers. I couldn’t believe how much “make-ready” paper was required to get the color right. Sure my print rep reassured me that it all gets recycled but I still felt there had to be a better way.
To reduce the make ready waste we calibrated the ideal 4-color ink builds in our gold and silver products so we could get up and level out at the correct settings more quickly. We started printing on the backside of our posters and counter cards, which saved a ton of money and materials. We also created campaigns that could be re-used and updated with a few key pieces rather than having to print an entirely new kit of collateral over and over again.
At MyGoodGreetings.com we use digital presses that virtually eliminate paper waste. Unlike traditional offset presses, which require constant ink flow and registration adjustments, digital presses are designed to deliver a predictable color balance even for one single sheet.
Fast forward about 7 years and I’m working at a small advertising agency in Oakland, California. My boss and I notice how much office paper is going into the trash so we start collecting it in
cardboard boxes and take turns driving it over to Berkeley to the nearest recycling facility. A couple of years later, Oakland starts collecting office paper at our building for recycling. Though this means no more office breaks to Berkeley, getting the recycling done just got easier.
Fast forward again and this time I’m in Spokane, Washington. The office I work in isn’t hip to recycling. How can this be? I take the initiative and label some boxes for cans, paper and cardboard and place them in a central location. At first I get teased. They call me the “California Kid”. But the boxes are a hit and soon the whole office is participating. Some people get really into it. One girl in particular starts digging through peoples’ trash baskets in search of items that should have been recycled. Wow! All I did was get the ball rolling. After that everyone gladly pitched in.
If your office isn’t recycling or could be recycling better, do something about it. Take the initiative. Become the office Recycling Guy or office Recycling Girl! It won’t take a ton of time but you can make a ton of difference. Plus it feels great knowing you started something that’s good for you, your peers, the environment and the planet we leave behind for future generations.
Like Mom used to say, “Be good to Mother Nature and she’ll be good to you.”