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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Environmental pet peeve

Twice now in the past eight years I  have found myself working for an employer that produces massive amounts of waste which ends up in the landfill and or anywhere else in the immediate environment. The first is a fast food chain based mostly in coffee, and the coffee cups they produce, though made from recycled paper, can be found just about anywhere once used.  Sometimes just walking along one block on a city street will allow you to find more than a dozen cups with their plastic lids carelessly discarded on the sidewalk, someone's lawn or on the street.  The particular franchise that I worked for did very little recycling.

Paper cups, plastic and glass bottles and packaging went right in with the rest of the garbage and quite often, even though machines were not in use, they were still left turned on to waste energy.  If this were an environmentally friendly company it would recycle all of the above, and could, being a fast food outlet also separate certain food waste for composting.  Coffee grinds are good for the garden for example and apparently acts as a deterrent to rabbits feasting on growing veggies, and could be donated to anyone with a garden and even to farmers.  Last but not least, it seems to me that it is a simple matter to turn off machines that are not in use.

The second employer owns a retail outlet.  Every other day, sometimes even twice a day, a truck load of product is received.  The packaging of this product is criminal.  A packaged product packed in a cardboard box wrapped in plastic or bubble wrap, packed into yet another cardboard box and separated by tissue paper.  This employer does recycle the card board, creating huge bails of it to sell to a recycling plant.  However, the plastic, bubble wrap and paper goes, you guessed it into the garbage and then to the landfill.

In addition the company sells truck loads of chemicals from cleaning and laundry supplies to chemical air freshners, fertilizers, pesticides, oil products and herbicides. These chemicals of course end up in the air, the water and in the earth, as well as our food.  Out of hundreds of products one is genuinely environmentally friendly and  a few only state that they are, but when reading the label you are left uncertain. The number of plastic products sold by this company is incredible and you have to wonder how much of it is actually recyclable, because as you know not all plastic is, and plastic products are often fragile or meant to be disposable.

This business does recycle some chemicals and oil, but the fact remains in stocking all of these chemical products and plastics the company is not supporting the environment.  If more companies embraced the idea of stocking only environmentally friendly products, we could  take a massive step towards solving the problem of global warming.

The problem is the owners of these companies see no profit in becoming environmentally responsible, and therefore lack the motivation to move in that direction.  It doesn't help that the consumer shopping in these establishments keep buying said products, and then carelessly discard parts or all of it, once used or replaced, thus continuing the deadly cycle which is destroying our environment.

While I am happy to discover that more and more companies are making the attempt to "go green" for various reasons, many do so only because regulations require that they do, or because there is some profit to be made in doing so.  However, more companies need to come on board and voluntarily take responsible action to help clean up the environment , as even business is directly linked to the earth and to nature.


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