Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Moving Beyond Trash Talk


"Visitors at Pacific Lutheran University, in Tacoma, Washington, are hard pressed to find a garbage can in faculty and staff offices these days...



Nearly half of the 500 employees volunteered to trade in their garbage cans last month for plastic quart-sized containters bearing the words "Can the Can," in an effort to increase recycling and reduce waste.

Owners of the desktop cans are responsible for emptying them into communal trash bins rather than relying on the cleaning staff, says Amy L. Cockerham, a spokeswoman. Most refuse is recycled or composted, and only food-contaminated objects like candy wrappers and paper coffee cups land in the trash. The logic is simple: Cutting down the size of cans cuts down the amount of trash put in them, like gastrointestinal surgery.

David L. Kohler, director of facilities management, who forfeited his own garbage can 11 years ago, says the new program will save $2,000 annually in garbage-can-liner costs. The goal in the next five years, he says, is for the university to be recycling 85 percent of its waste--well above its 60-percent rate of early October.

Toby R. Beal, the university´s Web-content manager, was initially skeptical. "Who´s going to come and clean this nasty little can on your desk?" he thought. But after reluctantly trading in his wastebasket, the little green container has started to grow on him. "I might have to get a little Sesame Street Oscar the Grouch to sit next to it," he says."

-- Jane R. Porter





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