The Paradox of Green: Why Simply Giving New Recycling Bins Is Not Enough

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Green recycling bin My city in Texas signed a contract with a new trash/waste company that starts on September 1st. The new bin is green (pictured at left). I already had two blue bins from the old company. The bins work just fine.

I'm honestly not the biggest environmental zealot out there, but I don't like waste, regardless of where I see it. I called the new company and asked them about the new bin… was basically told that's what they do and that the old company should pick up the old bins. I set them out at the curb today (for the last trash pickup of the old company) and, sure enough, they didn't pick up the bins. So do I throw them out? Keep them as planters??

So, to create a bit of a mid-week laugh, I made this video:

This is from the same service made famous by the popular “iPhone/Android” video (warning, rated R language).

Warning, my video uses the “S word” three times… and it's a bit of an exaggeration of the conversation I had with the trash company…

Honestly, it does seem to defeat the purpose of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Back to the usual stuff tomorrow…


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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Nice. I agree. These types of examples, unfortunately far too common, show how few companies actual have a mission (or at least one they understand). Making money is not a mission, it is a result. It would be sensible for a recycling company to have a mission to improve the environment. And do things to aid that mission while picking up recycling. But instead too many companies claim they are saying focused on the environment but with actions betray they don’t have any such focus.

  2. Mark, you’re getting funnier every year. This is hysterical. I particularly like the bit about “maximizing shareholder value.”

  3. We switched propane companies. Because the propane companies own the tank (for liability purposes, which is the right system), they don’t always like to “play nice” we each other and just buy each others tanks when you switch providers. So they come out, dig out the giant propane tank, leave it in your driveway for the other company to come pick up, put theirs in the ground, cover it up, and reseed the grass. Seems like a crazy amount of waste.

  4. 1. Paint them green and us them if you over fill your other two bins.
    2. If they don’t take glass, us them for glass collection. Then take the bins to the closest drop-off.
    3. Us them as storage bins on garage shelves.
    4. give them to someone who doesn’t have pick-up recycling so that they may be encouraged to gather their recycling to drop-off.
    5. convert into rain water catchers near a garden. Add on a spigot and a screen to keep out debris.

  5. @Eli – I like your thinking, but I was told the blue bins are the property of the old company and they need to be collected. I can’t keep them and put them to good use, as you suggested.

  6. It’s a shame that the two companies couldn’t work together. Hopefully, the old company will collect the bins and reuse or recycle them.

    If not, you’d think it would be in the interests of both to work together here. Perhaps the new company could provide green logo stickers for the bins so that they are branded (green surrounded by blue? how earthy!) without wasting large hunks of plastic. This could have been used to generate lots of positive coverage for both companies, and citizens who recycle would appreciate the extra effort, even if they saw it as profit motivated.

    PS — Thanks for the warning about the saucy language. ;)

  7. The problem with the whole recycling craze although admirable in its aims is that it focuses on the final act. If we look at the root cause it will direct us towards usage reduction, “Reduce”. The next step is to look at ways that we can reuse stuff and encourage innovation, “Reuse”. The final act when the other two are not possible or practical is to recycle things for other use, “Recycle”.

    So as we become more conscious of our world and the environment in a drive towards sustainability why is it that we only promote the last resort of recycling? The energy, education and promotion from governments and local authorities should focus on the whole of Reduce, Reuse and only then, Recycle.

    Otherwise we will never change the habits of our hyper consumerist society.

  8. Donate your blue bin to a local school. I’m sure it will be put to good use.

    There are never enough recycling bins. Wherever there is a trash can, there should be a recycling container.

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