This is a bit lame and more of a complaint than a request for advice. I work in a relatively small office (less than 50 employees), and we probably host about another 30 to 100 people for meetings in a given week. I am middle management and I recently started an office recycling program at the behest of the big boss. I am very excited about the program, and I ordered these really great color-coordinated bins and laminated these super-cute signs and distributed my eloquent and precise memo to all, receiving a flood of positive response and energy back from almost everyone. SO WHY THE FUCK DO THESE ASSHOLES KEEP PUTTING TRASH IN THE RECYCLING BINS!? The paper is the only one that works. The aluminum and plastic are disaster zones. I found butter in the bottom of a bin last week. WTF? How in the hell did a butter pat land in the bottom of the plastic-recycling bin? Not even the bin in the kitchen. This is just on the second floor by the elevator! What should I do? My boss wants me to resolve this on my own. I feel like this is a test for promotion maybe. I also feel like it is an evil plot designed to annihilate my sanity.
— One Angry Green Bitch
P.S. I know half the staff reads this column, so have at it!
Dear Angry Tree Hugger,
You could write them a letter similar to this, and you might scare them into compliance. Since they read the column, I guess you already did. I took the liberty of editing the letter for your employment security. No naming names. This isn’t Washington, my little whistleblower.
I like signs in the office place. My boss doesn’t like cardboard in the paper recycling (even though I am pretty certain it is allowed), so I made a sign that suggested she was going to take a baseball bat to the next person who placed cardboard in the paper bin. It worked like a charm. If you don’t want to use threats, you could offer rewards. Adults in the office environment are not unlike kindergarteners and will do just about anything for a cookie. It’s a little sad.
If your program is relatively new, it might just need time to catch on. Maybe you could recruit floor or department captains to help lead and enforce recycling in their areas. Your office is large enough that a recycling newsletter might be nice: a brief email that comes out regularly with updates on your office’s program as well as links to articles on the internet or hints for recycling at home.
Ask your friends what they do at their workplaces. Someone you know is bound to have a reasonably successful program in his or her office. I work in a small office, so it works well, and we hide the bins when strangers are around — like meerkats with our pups or cubs or whatever.
My story in relation to yours also highlights how common tainted recycling is in the office environment. I read somewhere on the internet that over 30 percent of recycling remitted is tainted and not recyclable. I think most people are just too lazy, comfortable, or distracted to properly recycle.
If it doesn’t work out for you, research new bio-fuels. I just read how turning trash into fuel is potentially only months away from major production in the US …
Much luck and love,
Your Uncle Mat
As a new addition to Dear Uncle Mat, I would like to introduce what I am simply calling Unsolicited Advice. Every once in a while I encounter, observe, or experience a little something or another that I feel needs sharing, with a little helpful hint. If you don’t like it, then I suggest you sit your ass down and write me a letter soliciting some advice.
This week’s Unsolicited Advice is pretty obvious, but experience has proven that it might be worth mentioning. When a new (or not so new) sexy-fun-times pal compliments your underwear, do not reply by saying, “Thanks. I never thought much of them, but everyone really seems to like them a lot.”
Unless you are an underwear model or a whore, in which case that reply makes total sense.
Much love and a clean foot for your mouth,
Your Uncle Mat