Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Should we have cleaners to help clear recycled paper for academics?

 

Initially, the proposed system was to issue each academic with a small paper recycling box:

IMG_3421

and have them to empty it themselves in these big paper recycling along the corridor when it is full:

However, now Engineering says they want the cleaners to clear it. Academics will leave the small paper recycling box outside their rooms once they are full for the cleaners to clear.

Reasons against:

  1. This creates even more work for the cleaners and they are often elderly working for little pay. This is despite that it is in our housekeeping contracts that they have to assist with recycling.

  2. It is not a lot of work for the academics and they should set the example to educate the students in recycling. The question what the hell are we trying to educate?

    • Educate that one has to put up with a little INCONVENIENCE( walking a corridor length) to save the environment? Can anyone point out an exact argument in this “feel good” education arena?

    • There was this post about Bright Green vs. Dark Green – that we should stop scaring people about the environmental catastrophe awaiting but rather motivate people about the innovations and opportunities that can come from embracing the environmental movement. I think that is almost naive. Yes, there are lots of green collar jobs out there, but seriously, if you want to help the environment, you have to put up with the INCONVENIENCE associated. For example, bringing your own reusable container to pack food etc. To save the environment means you should aim to use less. Hence, we need to share the message of INCONVENIENCE and personal sacrifice?

  1. The only non moral and logical reason( the moral issue being elderly cleaners) that I can convince myself with is that, passing the clearing work to the cleaners seems to be passing on the “cost”. By allowing this, I seem to be condoning the core reason behind the entire environmental crisis – unaccounted costs of production. If the actual costs of carbon dioxide and any other pollutant is to be included, the real costs of products will show and people will automatically consume less.(That's what they are trying to do with carbon trading – putting a real price to production)

    • Of course, with time, the housekeeping contract price  will increase because the contractors come to realise the real work involved.

Reasons for:

  1. The more convenient you make it for the population, the more likely they will participate. ( The main reason for this switch is especially according to Engineering personal that with his experience as an academic, the academics of Engineering will not bother to participate if they have to empty the box themselves.) Especially, after reading NUDGE, we got to design our physical environment to encourage/motivate certain form of behaviours.

  2. The academics will probably clear their paper recycling boxes only once in a week, hence there will not be too much work for the cleaners. Besides, they have to clear the waste baskets of the academics daily anyway and pass by the same areas – i.e. same walking distance.

  3. There is actually not much increase in work for the cleaners because the total weight stays the same. Whatever that is not recycled will be in the trash and the cleaners still has to clear the trash.

    • This is slightly untrue cause though total weight stays the same, the cleaners have to repeat the emptying motion twice.

  1. The wonderful system I see here where there is a set of recycling receptacles shared between small groups of staff also have cleaners to clear it to the bin centres:

IMG_0615

Do you think in an office environment, it is ever possible to request staff to bring their recyclables ( paper, cans, bottles) to a central points the office if you provide them with a receptacle at their desks? Remember, this has to happen, otherwise, there will be double standards between academics and staff.

Other small arguments:

  1. Better start with a system that can work (Cleaners clear). Also emulate the government in giving out recycling bags that they collect directly from households every month.

  2. Or start with the most ideal system ( Academics clear). Then if it fails, we will move to the more practical method. Also, the Singapore government also put up recycling receptacles per precinct- expecting people to bring it down from their flats.

Ending Remarks:

  • Just getting Engineering started will NUDGE the rest of the faculties into place and before that we have not really tackled the bulk of university waste – office paper.

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