Recently, I started my first job. I joined the workforce that turns many revolutionary- and innovation-minded young adults into societal zombies. These zombies are what make up most of the population: people with dreams and goals that are subdued by the monotonous need to work to live. The blinding force of having a job prevents many people from remembering how to see the bigger picture. Since work is necessary to have money, money drives these zombies’ lives – not ideals and morals. It is why we choose the high paying corporate job over the low paying environmental job. It is why we eat, work, eat, sleep, and repeat. Look: even I haven’t had time to post since I started.
But there are ways we can bring change into our busy lives, even when we think we are too tired from the work day to do so at home. In small ways we can make the workplace a little greener at a time.
I work in retail, which is fitting for a first job and something that I surprisingly enjoy greatly. Of course, as I often complain to people and in writing about American consumerism (another form of societal zombie-ism), I made sure that where I work is a place that I can morally feel okay about working at. However there was one thing that I discovered when working on the floor for my first hour. We go through a ton (or should I say tons and tons) of packaging. In training I was told to toss it. This isn’t plastic packaging but paper and cardboard. I was instantly disgusted by the lack of thought. But I didn’t feel that I had enough standing to ask my manager about it yet. I told myself that I would wait a couple weeks before asking her to change that.
Then on one of my late shifts, I worked with a woman who gave me hope. She kept all of the packaging in one pile and when she was done, she didn’t bring the pile to the garbage cans located conveniently at the end of every aisle, but to the back room where (I didn’t realize) we had a recycling bin. We talked about the waste of packaging and how she, too, found it terrible that we throw so much away when it is so easy to walk a few more meters to the recycling bin behind the “Employee’s Only” door. Her initiative gave me hope because she’s not a green guru like me, a teenager with activism or the environment on her mind constantly, but a mom with kids and work on her mind. It is possible for people to be eco-friendly and live normally.
So now, I carry a box around the store with me as I get rid of packaging and take the very little effort to bring the discarded paper to the recycling. My next step, which I’m not going to wait long to do, is to ask my manager about bringing some recycling bins out from the back and integrate recycling into the way we work.
There is one thing that I didn’t need to worry about myself. Under each light switch is a little sign taped to the wall, “Turn off the lights. Save energy.”
In my next post I will discuss more ways in which people can go green in the workplace. And how to go about doing so.