IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Doing Good, Wastefully

This past Saturday, my wife discovered that our town was having a recycling event, where the items accepted, at no cost, included all manner of electronic equipment, bikes, cell phones, scrap metal, and books, and eyeglasses.

She saw this as a fantastic opportunity to rid ourselves of a 20 year old nonfunctioning CRT TV that easily topped 100 lbs.  In a storm of late spring cleaning, we found another 3 large bags of various cabling and equipment that no longer worked.  We loaded it all in the car and headed over to the event, about 10 minutes away.

When we stopped at the light to turn into the site, a volunteer let us know that based on where we were, the wait was an hour and a half.  Given how heavy the TV was, and my very strong motivation to have it never return to its former home, we steeled our resolve and began inching along in line.

The time in the car gave me time to begin reading a book - Drive, by Daniel Pink.  (As an aside, Mr Pink is the speaker at  Breakaway, and, as a first time reader, I really enjoy his writing style and look forward to hearing him speak). The outset of the book speaks to 3 kinds of human motivation - Survival, Extrinsic (Carrot/Stick), and Intrinsic (Higher Calling).

While I was surrounded by several hundred idling cars (not very 'Green', but I think the good outweighed the bad here), I was also in the midst of a sizable group of intrinisically motivated individuals who were willingly sacrificing time on a weekend to do the right thing, instead of dumping their waste in a random dumpster.  Further evidence of a higher motivation came when we reached the dropoff point an hour and 45 minutes later, and were told that more ewaste was collected in the first hour than in the total of the prior year.  The below picture shows the scope of the job, which included at least 9 full size trailers that I could see:

2010 Naperville, IL Recycling Event

What this weekend showed me is that, at least, some people do want to do the right thing by not disposing of harmful things into dumpers, landfills, or the side of the road.  That desire was channeled with the incentive of free to the end user.  I haven't been able to find out what the financial arrangement was for the town or the vendor, but they successfully tapped into a demand that greatly exceeded their ability to handle it.

I've been to several facilities where ewaste is recycled, melted down, and/or refurbished, and am encouraged that the efforts of last weekend will meet a positive end and reuse.  What else can the IT Channel do to help drive this demand?  Leave a comment and let's discuss!

About the Author

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