Saturday, June 23, 2007

Recycling at work

A couple of months back Steve Said wrote on Advoc8 asking people about what they do for work and why. I mentioned that one of the things I do is clean offices:

I don’t know much about the companies whose offices I clean, but I don’t think I agree with some of the stuff some of them do. But my job is just cleaning, and I don’t have any problem with doing cleaning. However, I am bothered by the fact that when I take the rubbish out I have to chuck everything out, even stuff that’s recyclable, because they don’t have any recycling bins, and I can’t really talk to them about it because I don’t have any way of communicating with them.
I’ve been thinking a bit recently about how we’re often willing to do things for a company that go against our own personal ethics. (They look at that a bit in The Corporation.) Today I decided that I’d leave a note at the main office that I clean, who chuck out an awful lot of paper, saying that it could be recycled. I also left the number for the recycling company that picks up our paper.
I don’t know if they’ll decide to get the paper recyled, or just ignore what I wrote. (When they leave notes for me they’re usually pretty rude, and when there are people working there while I’m cleaning they often ignore me if I say anything to them, and I assume that’s because I’m just a cleaner.)


Joanna said...

Dear Chris,
The first part of this comment is completely off-topic, but please forgive me...
(I would have said hey stranger, but we're not strangers.) I found out about your blog via my brother's blog...logical isn't it? I'll never forget you and I still recall that night sometimes when you thought I said something I wasn't sure about. To anyone sober, I gave the correct answer. The rest of the night was a haze. My strongest apologies if I gave the wrong answer to anyone...I don't even remember fully. So many years gone by. But this has grated at me because you did mean a lot to me. A lot was happening in other areas of my life at the time too. Scattered conversations suck!

I miss you. In a weird way, I think we'll always be connected. I met Louis on Brunswick Street before The Choir of Hard Knocks started screening on the ABC...and just before I was about to go to my global politics short course called "Our World in Crisis". You might have heard of that as well?

With regards to the topic of the blog, I hate compromising values in order to fit in with companies but sometimes we do it just to survive...but when is it okay to be compliant?
You'll never be "just a cleaner" to me, and you're a talented writer.

Next week I'm going to Hawthorn to be surveyed by Amnesty International. Funny how life works.

Warm Wishes and blessings,

Trav said...

hmmm i think making a suggestion is a reasonable thing to do

Do you work for those companies or do you work for a cleaning company? I dont think i'd like to work for a casino for example and benefit from their profits as a cleaner.

anna said...

I work for a restaurant and the amount of food that goes to landfill is absolutely ridiculous. We’re talking several garbage bags a day. Some of the stuff is composted but there is too much of it to all get composted. Apparently pig farmers used to collect it to feed their animals but now that is illegal because humans eat the pigs. Food waste is massive in Melbs. I always recommend people go for the smaller options (knowing full well they’ll not get through the mains), but they generally don’t listen. It’d be great if there were options to recycle food waste other than the home compost. What does Credo do with their food waste?

Hope it all goes well with the lot you work for Christop. They sound arrogant from what you’ve written but if it’s a big firm I’m sure they can’t all be that way.

Tab said...

Mm, At my work we use Nestle products, which I refuse to consume or buy in my normal life. We also sell Coca-cola which not only do I avoid, but my boss, who is in charge strongly dislikes the Coke company too, yet still we buy from them.

I do recommend that ppl buy a different brand of Hot chocolate to mix with their syrups, and I can educate my fellow employees, and my boss about atrocities and other things committed by these companies, which is something I guess.

We only sell Fair Trade coffee, and I strongly advocate the purchase of it to our customers [usually I'm recommending that they look for it in their hometown, because most of our customers are tourists.]

Rebecca said...

hey chris...I thought I should comment, because I read your blog but don't often comment...and I'm procrastinating and pretending I don't have exam papers to mark. :)

I'm yet to find any organisation that I'm 100% comfortable to be a part of...but I think that's ok, because part of being in community is being challenged, held accountable, of figuring out what you're prepared to compromise on and what you're not.

My worst experiences in terms of the clash between my own beliefs and the practices of an organisation have actually been in an NGO. My last employer was a commercial law firm, yet not once did I feel seriously compromised...and by this I mean that some of my biggest gripes were people being slack on recycling and the disinterest in FT coffee.

Re: getting spoken to as a cleaner...I reckon it's probably got more to do with people being busy, and not really knowing how to strike up a conversation, than it does to do with you being a cleaner. I've always seen people go out of their way to speak to cleaners in the places I've worked...the cleaners are often treated better than the staff! LOL.

Christop said...

Jo: It's good to hear from you! (It's been a long time.) I've e-mailed Danny asking for your e-mail address so I can email you back. Thanks for the encouraging words.

Trav: I work for a cleaning company, cleaning a number of different office suites for different companies.

Anna: Yeah, it's amazing how much food gets chucked out. I know a number of people who eat stuff they find in dumpsters. Wrote about it here.
We have a recycling bin that we put all our food waste in, and K+S Environmental come and pick it up once a week. They turn it into fertiliser.

Bec: Hey thanks for commenting. Most of the time I don't get any response from people, but there are a couple of people who talk to me, and one time someone asked me about what I was studying (she presumed I was a student) and I got to talk a fair bit about what I'm doing at Urban Seed. And it probably is often busyness or not knowing how to strike up a conversation.