Recycling is like Praying on the Street Corner


"Going green" has become the newest nation-wide competition. Many companies spend immense amounts of money finding ways to be "greener" and then flaunt this information all over the place in an effort to improve their public image. These companies and people are more concerned with their appearance rather than energy conservation. Recycling is proof of this.

Let me illustrate this for you with an example...

(before I move on, let me just state, there is nothing inherently wrong with recycling, it's the reason that people recycle that is frustrating)

People in Seattle love recycling, which means Microsoft also has to love it in order to maintain a good public image. They have to look like they care, but guess what... they really don't. On the MSoft campus, there are recycling bins every ten feet. In the kitchens and cafeterias, the plates, napkins, silverware and cups are all recyclable. So much money has been spent making MSoft a "greener" company through their extensive recycling program, and the Seattletonians see that and are appeased.

MSoft wouldn't invest in recycling if it weren't such a fad. So much energy is expended on that campus that if they were the least bit concerned with energy conservation, recycling would not be at the top of their "green" efforts. There are 12,000 employees at MSoft, and I'm guessing that almost all of them have at least one computer in their office. No one is required, not even compelled, to shutdown their computers when they leave for the night. Not even on the weekends! So you have about 12,000 computers running Friday night, Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning (64 hours) with no purpose. If MSoft really cared about energy conservation in the least bit they'd at least ask their employees to turn their computers off when they left work Friday night. Just that simple task, which is free (it would actually save a lot of money), would be more efficient than the hours and massive amounts of money put into the recycling program. They'll never do it though... because they don't actually care. No one would be impressed if MSoft announced that they are doing away with their recycling program and they're just requiring employees to turn off their computers when they leave for the weekend. All of the green lovers would be appalled that they weren't recycling anymore and that is why it will never happen.

"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward." (Matthew 6:5)

Recycling is like praying on the street corner. The reason people do it is so that they will be seen doing it. They have their reward.


Matt said...

There is a difference between conserving energy and recycling, though. Just saying that canceling the recycling program and shutting off computers wouldn't necessarily balance out.

Matt said...

Since I'm the only one commenting, I'll add this as well.
You may be correct that some people or entities recycle just to avoid a bad image. However, I think it's wrong to assume that everyone is doing it because of what other people think. The city of Eagle Mountain said recently in the local newsletter that they're considering a recycling program. My first thought was, "Seriously? Only considering? Welcome to the 21st century." If I had the opportunity to recycle I would do it, and not because I care what you think about it...

evan said...

Public companies generally don't do anything that costs money or resources unless they think it's going to help them make more money. You think Toyota makes the Prius because they want to be a "good" company? No, they do it because they sell a boat load of them (well actually many boat loads). Microsoft is just being prudent by putting on an environmentally friendly face. The only reward they are *seeking* is a financial reward. So yeah, "they have their reward"... but that's all they ever wanted anyway.

Having said that, I think the corporate issue is completely separate from the personal issue. There are probably plenty of people that do environmentally friendly things just for the positive attention it gets them (37% of Prius owners say they bought it because of "the statement it makes about them" But there are also plenty of people on the other side of the coin that do it because they genuinely think its the right thing to do.

So, regardless of the purity of the motivation, the public want environmentally healthy products. You can't blame companies for giving them what they want (even if it's only a symbolic gesture).

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