“Do as I say, not as I do.” That’s not only a poor approach to parenting, but to zero waste as well.
At Eco-Products® , we have the privilege of helping organizations keep food scraps out of landfills by using compostable foodservice packaging. Sure, we could help organizations like the Minnesota Twins, Larkburger, and others strive for zero waste without doing it ourselves, but then we wouldn’t be very credible, would we? Walking the talk is simply what we do, so we set a goal in our sustainability report to achieve 90% landfill diversion by 2017.
We monitor our progress by doing annual waste audits (i.e., we dumpster dive) with Eco-Cycle. And what has this taught us? That getting an office to zero waste is not easy. In 2014, we diverted 81% of our materials to recycling or composting; in 2015, that dropped to 75%. Granted, our audit is just a one week snapshot, but we were bummed to move in the wrong direction.
To educate ourselves on how we can get better, we displayed bags of stuff that ended up in the wrong bin – frozen food boxes and paper towels in the recycling, soiled paper in the trash. Having a visual display was powerful. Whose head doesn’t turn when you walk past a bag of weird stuff in the hallway?
This has been a humbling experience. We preach zero waste. It is the mission of our organization, and we haven’t yet gotten there ourselves. However, we recognize sustainability is a journey for everyone, including us. We see an opportunity to learn from this experience and become better able to understand the challenges our customers face.
We have a lot of work to do, but we are committed to getting better. Through increased employee training, more frequent audits, and continuing to stress the importance of our goal and leading by example, we are optimistic about where we are heading. Be sure to check our 2016 Sustainability Report for an update on our progress – coming out around Earth Day!