Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Green Challenge: Make It Easy to Recycle

For all the talk about sustainability, and there’s plenty of talk, there are some huge holes in the implementation of green strategies.

Case in point: My husband’s company hosted a picnic at the Duke-University of Virginia football game on Saturday. Great fun, but the only thing that choked worse than the Cavaliers’ defense was an attempt to promote green among company attendees. Drinks were served in souvenir cups, colored Blue Devils’ royal, with the company logo in bright green and a tagline promoting green practices. 

However, the problem was we couldn’t take our souvenir cups from the picnic tent into the stadium—neither could any of the other fans carrying bottled waters, sodas or beer cans. All those recyclable materials had to be discarded before we passed through the security gate.

But guess what? There were no recycling bins, just large trash cans.

So much for going green.

My challenge to the retail industry is this: Put recycling bins beside every trash can so that shoppers can just as easily toss a bottle or can into the recycling receptacle as the trash can. Food courts and shopping-center common areas are obvious points where there should be recycling bins, but it also would be useful to have them beside trash cans at the entrances of big-box stores, grocery stores, drug stores, etc.

Yes, it’s going to cost more to implement and add recycling—but there would be some positive PR results and, of course, it is the right thing to do.

This is a perfect opportunity for the retail industry to breathe actionable life into green-speak, and lead the way for entertainment, hospitality and other public-service industries.

By Connie Robbins Gentry

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