2 min Read
June 5, 2012

The Green Team: Changing Our World, One Coffee Cup at a Time.

Big Duck

It’s easy to lose track of just how much stuff you’re throwing away. In an office like ours, for example, it takes a lot of paper and coffee cups to keep things going.

Most of us probably want to create less garbage and recycle everything we can. But whether at the office or at home, building habits that reduce waste doesn’t come without some real effort. That’s why a team of us here at Big Duck have thrown on our proverbial capes and taken on the task of making the office a less wasteful place.

We are the Green Team, and though our job may seem daunting, creating a greener culture in your office can be both easy and fun.

The Green Team decided that in order to encourage proper waste management in the office, we needed a combination of education and engagement. Behold! The Recycling Challenge!

The challenge aimed to see how well the Ducks really knew their recycling dos and don’ts. And it turned out that, when put into teams, they knew the rules better than we’d expected, based on the many, many mistakes we’d seen in the Big Duck bins.

The challenge: in 60 seconds, correctly sort used items in the trash bin, the paper and cardboard bin, or the blue bin for glass, plastic, and metal recycling. We awarded one point for each correctly sorted item. And boy did they rack up points! As we watched the Ducks sort through the items in frantic and eager discussion, the Green Team witnessed how a little bit of fun can lead to a lot of engagement.

It turns out that when the Ducks share knowledge and recycle as a group, we can do it right.

Having grabbed their attention, we went through the rest of our presentation. Did you know that every year Americans throw away enough office paper to build a 12-ft. high wall from Seattle to NYC, or that, on average, a coffee drinker throws away 250 cups a year, cups that cannot be recycled? Just these facts inspired Ducks to take mugs to the coffee shop across the street instead of adding to the landfill.

We showed our colleagues how their individual actions fit into the larger picture of recycling, which made them feel like their small behavior changes could actually make a difference.

And that’s the story nonprofits need to tell, too. How does spending ten minutes writing to your state senator fit into the larger mission of your organization? How do donors who give $25 fit into the story of your fundraising appeal? (Hint: They’re the heroes.) The actions are simple; the difference is huge.