Sometimes titles for my posts are really easy to choose and other times it is a little harder. The title for today was immediately obvious.
According to the dictionary it means utterly astounded. Yes, that really sums it up.
I and many, many others care about waste, saving the planet, using resources wisely and so on. Some people are more passionate and devoted to their cause than others and all of us do our bit in different ways. However, almost everyone makes some effort.
So, I was shocked yesterday when a young work colleague appeared with a large handful of good quality, plastic-coated paper clips and announced that someone was throwing them out. I have a small box of these at work which I carefully use and re-use as files become obsolete and and put in the confidential waste bin for shredding and the large handful was more than my entire collection.
Worse was yet to come. She returned with another handful and announced that there were ‘heaps more’. My curiosity got the better of me and I went with her to check out the source. I found that someone had thrown a bulk quantity of these paper clips into a green wheelie bin in another area of the office.
I quickly considered my options and located a reuseable shopping bag from another work colleague and we set about retrieving as many as we could.
These paper clips were loose and not contained so they would quickly and easily slip to the bottom of the bin which was already about 2/3 full. We carefully scooped up handfuls and although we could not get them all, I feel that we probably saved about 90% of the discarded paper clips.
Here is the result of our efforts. I apologise for the poor quality of the photos.
Half a bag full of paper clips which I estimate weighs between 5 and 8kg. It was so heavy when I lifted it that I carried it in my arms rather than by the handles because I was concerned that they would break.
Here is a close-up.
I am still angry when I think about the appalling waste that this represents – both in environmental and economic terms. The other question that bothers me, is why did someone come to have this many paper clips in the first place?
What did I do?
Firstly, I have no idea how these are going to be used, so at the moment, the bag is in the bottom of the small storage cupboard beside my desk. It is just as well that I maintain minimal ‘stuff’ at work as well as at home so there was some spare space.
Secondly, I sent an email and photographs to the team who are responsible for sustainability on a corporate level. I do not know who discarded these paper clips, nor do I want to, but the team who work hard to improve the sustainable credentials of the business need to know where there are problems and develop strategies to change this sort of behaviour. I believe that this is an extreme but not isolated incident.
The next challenge is to work out how best to distribute these paper clips to people who will use and reuse them wisely. What do you think?