Archive for the ‘Recycling’ Category

Being Responsible Starts With You

posted by Boyd Neil

(By Lauren Cozzi, a senior account executive in Hill & Knowlton’s Washington, D.C. office)

Working for Hill & Knowlton, I’m fortunate to have a firsthand view of what many leading companies and organizations are doing in the area of environmental responsibility. And while so many corporations and institutions are ‘going green’ and discussing sustainability these days, it’s important to note that responsibility begins with individuals. There is much talk about what we should be doing, but taking action is what makes the difference. By taking a few simple steps and making some slight changes to our daily routines, it can be easy to reduce our environmental impact.

Small things, like turning off the water when brushing our teeth and taking shorter showers, can help conserve water. At home and at the office, recycling, rather than throwing away recyclable items, is another way each of us can minimize input into landfills.  It’s also pretty simple to add a separate container, reserved for paper that can be recycled, next to regular trash bins.

Lately, there has been discussion surrounding plastic water bottles because of the overwhelming increase in our use of them. Using water filters at home and in the office can counteract this. If the use of water bottles cannot be avoided, steps to recycle should be taken to reduce the build up.

Some good Web sites for general information about recycling can be found at:

Many companies have pledges and business plans which incorporate responsibility into the business. Especially among the IT industry, individuals have the opportunity to take advantage of what is being offered. Purchasing electronics with eco-labels, like ENERGY STAR® and EPEAT, to name only two, is a great way to buy products with confidence that you limit your environmental impact.

Many of these specially-labeled IT products are also designed to use less energy, which saves us money, while helping to protect the environment.

One of the clients I work with, HP, has developed some great energy-saving tips for individuals.

Taking responsibility to do our part is the least each of us can do to preserve our environment. As a public relations professional who works on environmental responsibility issues each day, I’m sensitive to practice what I preach, but the same tips can be helpful regardless of what anyone does. We should each take advantage of the great information resources available to us, which offer ways to minimize our environmental impact. By taking responsibility for our own actions, we can help make a difference for the better in the near future, and for generations to come.

Rejuvenating Recycling – In an Age of AL

posted by Boyd Neil

(By Lena Davie, a vice president in Hill & Knowlton’s Tampa, Florida office)

 It has been 36 years since “Iron Eyes Cody” (aka the Crying Indian) shed his famous tear that helped spawn a nationwide anti-litter revolution. Now, the dominant environmental images of the day include blocks of glacial ice crashing into the ocean and a snow-suit clad Leonardo DiCaprio on the cover of Vanity Fair.

There is no question that recycling, whether at home or away, is the easiest way for everyday Americans to help the environment. No hybrid purchase necessary. And yet, rates are declining and while the demand is there for recycled material, the supply is not. This means that U.S. companies are spending more money and energy to use virgin sources to create and manufacture goods. This affects all of us in the form of rising prices.

Has recycling gone the way of terrestrial radio? Should companies deeply affected by declining recycling rates get off the bus or should they fight their way through the crowd?

If you ask the “forward thinkers” in Corporate America, they’ll say that corporate reputation and environmental stewardship go hand and hand. And while their fundamental purpose is to make money, they also know the importance of “giving back what you take” and for the most part, are doing their part. But with newfound attention directed at the environment thanks to Al Gore and others, comes the unintended consequence of more noise and more “talk the talkers.” 

Many major corporations are doing it right, however. They are riding the global warming tidal wave and are using their marketing prowess and brand recognition to make a real impact. Companies like Hewlett Packard have developed highly successful programs around recycling. In fact, this summer HP reached a recycling milestone – over one BILLION pounds of products recycled. An important contribution for sure. And they have plans to recycle another billion by 2010. HP has truly found a way to enhance the price and performance of their product by being an environmental leader.

U.S. industry is also deeply affected by declining recycling and while not as historically powerful from a brand recognition perspective, they are implementing community-based programs that are also having a significant impact. Over ten years, companies like Alcoa, ARCO and Novelis have watched the recycling rate of aluminum cans drop from 65% to around 52%. Each rate point is approximately 33 million cans that now have to be created anew, placing a tremendous environmental and financial strain on an industry already reeling from globalization. Recognizing this, they have joined forces with companies like Ball Corporation and Anheuser Busch to help communities better educate their residents about recycling at home in an effort to increase the supply of recycled cans. Communities are facing uphill budget battles that cut in to programs like recycling, but the desire is there to improve and consumers are responding. In fact, consumers say “where have you been?” They simply don’t hear about recycling anymore, like they hear about other issues such as melting glaciers. And they know that recycling is beneficial, but they often just don’t have time or don’t really understand what to do. “Just remind us” they say. “Everyone else is in our face, why aren’t you?”

We cannot take for granted the need for ongoing communication. Al Gore didn’t stop at one slide show. He went on to lobby legislators, meet with corporate leaders, publish a book, launch a Web site, film a documentary and even produce the worlds’ largest one-day concert. U.S. corporations can influence environmental issues by staking their claim on one that closely touches them, such as recycling. But the space is crowded and the voices are loud. Those who are successful find a way to rise above the clutter.

While recycling may be an “old school” answer to a newly popularized problem, there is nothing wrong with old school. It’s tried and true; it’s easy and it can make money. Just ask Will Ferrell.