Altitude, Inc., one of the country's leading product innovation firms, continues its commitment to going green with their First Annual Altitude, Inc. Trash Month. Instituted with the goal of expanding the understanding of Altitude's impact beyond the carbon footprint, it was a unique opportunity to raise awareness of personal and business-wide trash generation. At month's end, Altitude team members were able to see the full extent of their consumption and gain an appreciation for the challenges of affecting long-term behavioral change.
Alex Tee, Altitude's appointed Green Advocate, adapted a list of simple rules to facilitate this process. Participants must place all trash and recycling in containers or bags under their desk, including any job related packages or printing as well as personal refuse. Any organic compostable items are to be discarded in a communal compost bin. Should any participant's container become full, a plastic bag may be used to contain excess items although the container must remain at the desk for the remainder of the month. Participants may not use public trash receptacles or ask anyone else to discard their items.
"The experiment certainly got us to think," explains Alex Tee, Green Advocate and Mechanical Engineer at Altitude. "Most of us were stymied about what to do with damp paper towels in the bathroom. A few of us secretly threw away trash in other's receptacles. Some were astonished at how much trash we accumulated, while others thought the amount of trash was small. However, what was most interesting to me were the social implications of what is normally considered communal trash and figuring out who is responsible for that."
At the end of the month, Alex gathered all of the month's saved refuse and to his surprise, recyclables made up a relatively small percentage of the pile. "It's not that we're bad recyclers," explains Alex, "We're actually pretty diligent. What this experiment really showed us is that we can't recycle our way out of the problem. Ultimately we just have to be using less."