My wife Gail and I were camping for a few days about three hours north of San Francisco on the coast, overlooking the forest and the Pacific. As we were talking I happened to be holding one of those little red plastic stirrers that you often find in a hotel or anyplace serving drinks — a bar, a coffee joint. Gail asked a very simple question: “where did that little red stirrer come from?” What ensued has become one of my personal favorite stories that exemplifies the extraordinary waste in our society and is an example of our company’s collective thinking around sustainability.
For 10 years I directed the StopWaste Business Partnership which operates in the East San Francisco Bay Area. More often than not, an employee would contact us to diagnose their company’s situation and to set up a waste reduction and recycling program. But when the “champion” left the company, the successful efforts frequently fell apart.