Recycling At Work: Don’t You Dare Say I’m Cute
We don’t offer a paper bag option at work. This bums me out; I’m very conscious of how many non-biodegradable bags I give out on a daily basis: far too many. So, as solace for that newborn green awareness within myself, I ask customers if they want their purchases bagged.
This might seem stupid, but I really have two types of customers: those who unload a cartful of stuff onto my counter and those who have one or two things to buy. To the second type, I ask. Some have a purse they can tuck their purchase and receipt into, some will just chuck it into their car full of other purchases, and others will just devour what they just bought when they walk out the door. Of course, there are some people who think of their unbagged trash cans and how Dollar Store Bags make such good trash bags. There are others who think of the cop car that’s sometimes parked right outside the door and how they might be accused of stealing; the bag makes it more obvious that they just legitimately bought something. Those people I indulge.
I also have to make sure that people don’t deliberately take four big plastic bags with their one or two purchases–those people are obviously thinking of their trash cans and exploiting a company who gives away plastic but also sells dozens of different varieties of trash bags by the box.
For those who have scoured the food aisle to stock their kitchens or those who are doing a lot of cleaning or a lot of decorating, I let go of my Eco Mindset; after all, these people would look ridiculous walking out of the door with their arms loaded full of stuff. The plastic bags just help transport their hoarde of stuff from cart to car to the door.
I’m not just conscious of the cheapo handled bags that go out of our store, but the waste of cardboard and paper and plastic that is used to package the products that go on the shelf. I’m not talking about what holds the product together. I realize that the rice has to held in something and socks need to be held together in a package and that each item needs to have a price tag. I’m talking about how each cloth bag with a price tag attached to the bag itself is wrapped in plastic bag that’s in the cardboard box with all the other plastic-wrapped cloth bags. Each pack of batteries (wrapped in plastic by necessity) arrives in a small cardboard box, fifteen packs to a box. But within the box, there are four smaller boxes which contain the batteries. A waste of cardboard.
I don’t complain about this stuff. It’s retail; it’s not supposed to make sense. But I do try to reduce the waste or recycle. The clothes we sell come in sets: Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, XX-Large of pink striped shirts. Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, XX-Large of grey-and-white striped shirts. You get it. Each set is rubber-banded together by the handle of the hangers. I stuff the rubber bands in my pocket when they’re supposed to be thrown away.
I put as much as possible into one of our trash bags. Yes, we have the bags that customers use to tote stuff and then we have these huge trash bags that we use to empty our trash cans and to hold the cardboard inside shoes so it doesn’t end up on the sales floor. I try to make sure all the trash can contents end up in one bag and that it’s the same bag that holds the shoe cardboard.
I write on cardboard I can find. The girl who is training to be assistant manager is doing great, but she’s uncertain of herself, like everyone training for a tough job is. She tells me that our boss keeps telling her that she’s doing okay. Our co-workers tell her she’s doing a great job. She’s still unsure of herself. So one day, I found a piece of cardboard on top of a box of candy. When one row of this particular candy runs out, there’s a piece of cardboard underneath where that row used to be. And it needs to be removed so the row underneath can be exposed.
The cardboard is nice and big and white and smooth. It looks like a half sheet of posterboard. I discovered it while straightening product in the store in the last few minutes before we lock the door and start mopping and counting our money. So, while waiting for an aisle of store to dry (I can only mop one aisle at a time while the doors are unlocked), I took out a marker and made a sign. My lettering is rather good because of all the doodling I do in church, so I can churn it out quickly without a ruler or a pencil.
She discovered the sign on the counter after I had locked the door and was about to go mop. I had reused the cardboard to lift her spirits. It said, “Amanda is doing an awesome job.” She smiled. Recycling is a good thing.