Oct. 17 — When I found out I would be at the podium at WRN´s Corporate Recycling & Waste Conference to present the first-ever Green Corporate Citizen Award, I thought it would be a great opportunity to show off some "award hosting skills."
I immediately started working on some jokes to warm up the audience:
"When I told my wife I wanted to commingle, she said she already has been, for years — with the mailman."
"All this talk about green reminds me of my mother-in-law´s potato salad."
"My beagle is so green, he won´t move into his doghouse until it´s LEED certified."
Later, when we started going through the more than 40 entries we received from companies around the country, I realized that I was an idiot. The award presentation didn´t need any jokes (except for that mother-in-law one, maybe). The amazing accomplishments of these companies were compelling enough.
I realized that the best green companies don´t just worry about diversion rates and efficient light bulbs, they get creative about their sustainability. They form green teams to get employees on board; they hold green competitions between business units to make it all (seem like) a game; and they look at things in entirely different ways.
We´ve written articles about the award finalists and their achievements ? General Motors Co., Turner Construction Co. and eventual winner Collins Bus Corp. ? but we haven´t mentioned much about the other entrants. Here are some of my favorite examples of innovation displayed by other companies vying for the award:
n At Cox Enterprises corporate headquarters in Atlanta, workers who take alternative forms of transportation to work can still use a car during the day for meetings or errands with the company´s ·borrow-a-hybridö program. That´s right, free use of hybrids for employees who use public transportation.
n In-Situ Inc. in Fort Collins, Colo., has a similar program, but offers bicycles to workers who walk, carpool or take the bus into work. On bike-to-work days, the company serves free breakfast to employees who cycle to the office. In addition, the kitchen at In-Situ has abandoned disposables, switching to reusable dishware, cups and utensils.
n Power Partners in Athens, Ga., has a ·bring your recyclables to workö program and lets workers and the community use county-owned bins that are placed in the company´s parking lot.
n Verizon Wireless is taking old cell phones, refurbishing them and donating them ? with 3,000 minutes each ? to victims of domestic violence. The company is also turning its old billboards into totes, bags and other items.
n At the Snooze Eatery in Fort Collins, Colo., workers who use alternative forms of transportation to get to work get a discount on employee meals. The restaurant also saves its bread bags and reuses them as trash bags in the restrooms.
n At the Holiday Inn San Antonio Airport, the plants stay lush and green all summer thanks to a sprinkler system that uses water from air conditioning condensation and swimming-pool backwash.
n Jacob Holm Industries in Candler, N.C., couldn´t get approval to purchase a new baler and chopper but was able to get another company to buy one for them as long as it agreed to make ·paymentsö in the form of baled plastic and chopped scraps.
The list goes on, too. Yes, some of the steps are small ? the world isn´t going to change because of a few dozen bread bags ? but the point is that these companies are using ingenuity to cut waste, build reputations and boost profits.
Helping judge this award and seeing all this creativity up close left me feeling pretty good, almost like I actually played a part in the innovation.
I wasn´t even mad at the mailman anymore.
Contact Waste & Recycling News Editor John Campanelli at firstname.lastname@example.org or 313-446-6767.