Wednesday, August 5, 2009

ISO 14001 my A$$

Something that is very frustrating is working for a very large company that promotes itself to the outside world as being leading edge in the great green cause. This is a company that serves it's employees meals on Styrofoam. Every single day. Over 20,000 meals a day. Over 20,000 paper plates a day. ISO 14001 certified my a$$. I guess they just bought that distinction.

Working on environmental projects within my own work organization is another thing that has proved very difficult. Yes, the company does support this endeavor by its employees, even promotes it. But my immediate manager, one born back when it was cool to have cars that got about 12 miles per gallon and and still living in that era mentally, thinks it is a waste of time. There are a ton of examples I could use to support this, but for the sake of my crappy typing I will just use one. Not too long ago a couple of my fellow workers and I did a dumpster dive - which is exactly what is sounds like. We had two 5 x 5 foot dumpsters filled with garbage. We went through all of this garbage; and to make a long and stinky story short, we ended up finding that over50% of the items in the garbage were recyclable. When we were done we shrank the garbage down to less than one 5 x 5 and filled seven 90 gallon bags with recyclable material. And our manager told us this was a colossal waste of time. "We have product to build." Which is true, I understand his point, the product needs to be the number one priority while at work. But what this example proves is the company I work for has not created any sort of cultural change by adding the ISO 14001 tag to its name. Trying to do anything "green" almost feels like a waste of time at this company. Which of course it isn't, not in the least as we have made strides, it is just an uphill battle that is a lot of work met with a lot of resistance. We'll get there. Last week's 108 degree temperatures must make it obvious to even the dumbest and most naive of the workforce think there is some sort of a problem. I'm not if the majority of the company will fully embrace this sort cultural shift before they have to, but we are making some strides thanks to individuals and their teams. And I can say that I am learning a lot about the process of change and just how hard it is to implement.

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