ACR GOES GREEN
An exercise in corporate responsibility…and patience
AIDS Community Resources is changing the way it does business in its eight facilities throughout nine counties. ACR has gone green - incorporating environmentally sound practices in the purchase and use of materials needed to conduct business. Thanks to Lisa Mulcahey and Ekrem Berbatovci (with a box of shoes that will be "repurposed") being green has evolved into a new way of doing business, a lifestyle change for ACR staff, and a more responsible way of interacting with the planet.
Much of ACR’s newly updated recycling effort was inspired by TerraCycle which specializes in “upcycling” - recycling traditionally non-recyclable waste (including drink pouches, chip bags, tooth brushes, plastic outer wrapping from big packages of diapers, etc.) and “re-purposing” them into a large variety of consumer products like backpacks, clipboards, picture frames, park benches, and playground equipment ACR staff now turn in empty potato chip bags, juice pouches, toothbrushes, and personal care bottles which Lisa packages up and sends off to TerraCycle. Shipping is free, and ACR receives a small stipend for each piece of trash we send in.
Dozens of pairs of shoes, sneakers, and boots are being repurposed in a similar fashion and, though the burden of collecting and shipping falls on Lisa and Ekrem, they concentrate on the benefit, not the workload. “It’s the obnoxious amount of consumerism and the mindset of today’s throw-away society that it’s OK to just take what you want and toss it without thinking of what that action means to future generations and the planet,” said Lisa. “What people don’t realize is that every convenience we have seems to produce some kind of trash that collects somewhere on the planet that affects the human condition, animal welfare and the atmosphere. A perfect example of this would be the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the North Pacific Ocean.”
Though greening has resulted in major changes in the way ACR does business, it has not raised our costs. “Part of it is that we have a new supplier,” said Ekrem. “WB Mason has an extensive collection of green products and has allowed us to purchase recycled paper and biodegradable cleaning products at the same price or lower than what we were spending before.”
Going green has many levels; from something as simple as replacing paper goods with recycled paper to something as extensive as putting solar panels on the roof to generate your own electricity. A company can start simple and then build efforts as time goes on. Lisa and Ekrem have contacted the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency (OCRRA) to fine tune our recycling and have placed recycling bins throughout the agency. Weekly emails are also sent to keep the idea of being “environmentally conscious” on the minds of staff.
If you are inspired to turn your company green, blog with Lisa. She can give you tips that will get you off to a good start.
All cleaning products in use are now truly green. Some old ones – even with “green” in their titles – turn out not to be so green after all.
Disposable products like toilet paper are from recycled materials.
Our knives, forks, and spoons are no longer plastic, but plant-based.
AIDS Comunity Resources now uses refillable pens.
To discourage use of bottled water, a new water cooler, which filters/heats/chills tap water has been installed in the ACR break room.