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by Rachel Hutchisson, Business Doing Good & Blackbaud, Inc.

I’m having a flashback…to the 1970s.

There I am, pushing a wheelbarrow down the street in my neighborhood in Western Pennsylvania, going house to house collecting my neighbor’s glass.  Yes glass.  This was how I “helped out” and made money.  All the while, I was hoping the glass was green or brown because colored glass earned me more money when I took it to the glass factory.  That was before the glass factory closed and everything went plastic.

This was a job, something given to me by my parents.  But it was a job I didn’t mind.  I was pretty young, and I was making money.  And that was cool.  Little did I know that I was doing what we now call recycling.

Today, recycling is the norm.  Pretty much everyone I know has a blue tub at home, a tub that’s placed on the curb once a week for pick up.  Our kids know what to recycle and what to put in the trash.  It’s just something we all do.

So, are you also equipped to recycle at work?  And if not, why not?  Being too busy isn’t a good enough excuse anymore, especially as more communities have recycling services that will do door-to-door pick up.

Blackbaud, the company where I work, began recycling in the 1990s.  And until we began participating in the Charleston Green Business Challenge, which I talked about in the last posting, I didn’t realize that everyone in business wasn’t doing this.  Well, they should.  And, you know what?  Your people care.  Think about it.  They’re already trained to do this at home, so it’s an easy leap to expect them to take individual paper bins to the workroom to dump, to recycle cans and plastic in the kitchen, and even to place used batteries in baggies in a collection tub.

Sure, you do have to add an expense to your business for the recycling pick up.  But you also see the benefit of reduced garbage/waste.  So take the pledge today, if you aren’t already recycling, to find out which local service you can use.  They usually provide you the bins (for individuals and larger collection) as a part of their service.

If you DO already recycle, ask yourself if you’re really collecting all the items you can?  A few years ago in my community, the county added to the types of plastics they collected.  We went from 1s to 1-7, which added things like yogurt cups and lots of plastic containers used to hold microwaveable food.  We did an internal marketing campaign (in the kitchens and our employee eAlert) to inform everyone that we could recycle more.  Sure, we had to add to the number of times the company picked up our items, but we also cut down on other waste…and felt really good about what we were doing to reuse what was previously going to the landfill!

Rachel Hutchisson (@RachelHutchssn) is VP, Corporate Citizenship & Philanthropy at Blackbaud, Inc., a 2,700-person technology company that works exclusively with nonprofit organizations. She built the company’s “give back” function from the ground up, relying on expertise she gained in over two decades of working at the intersection of the business world and the nonprofit sector. Rachel is a member of the #GivingTuesday core advisory team, leads her company’s involvement in the Billion+Change pro-bono initiative, and serves on the boards of the Association of Fundraising Professionals International, The Giving Institute, and the Coastal Community Foundation. She is also a member of the core team that launched TEDxCharleston in 2013. She is a graduate of Dickinson College and received a master’s degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

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