Ever stand around scratching your head, wondering what on earth to do with (fill in the blank with your own biggest disposal problem)? Nearly every business has such a problem: those odd byproducts of existence that pile up in our offices, warehouses and yards. Like used sandpaper, worn out bike tubes, or leftover bits of soap.
Most companies simply throw them away. But conventional waste disposal can be costly, and it’s certainly not sustainable. A better option is to figure out some way to put the items to use.
The question is, how? If you have a problem like this, you’ve probably already spent a lot of time racking your brain for a solution. In the mean time, the stuff just keeps piling up.
Fortunately, there’s a new application which may be able to help. It’s called EcoApprentice, it’s very easy to use, and (for the time being at least) it’s free. (Founder Richard Halpern says, “My expectation is it will always be free for schools, non-profits, and small businesses.” Cool.) You just sign up as a member (there’s no charge for this) and post your problem as an EcoChallenge.
It’s also a good idea to offer a prize for the winning solution. This doesn’t have to be anything huge. Most businesses offer something that’s easy for them to give. For example, Truce Designs, LLC is offering one of their tote bags as a prize for whomever can help them sustainably dispose of their scrap fabric and foam. Balch hotel owner Sandra Irwin offered a night’s stay and breakfast, or a huge batch of chocolate chip cookies to the winner of her challenge to figure out what to do with little bits of leftover soap. And (attention students!) waste-reduction company TerraCycle is offering an internship to whomever can come up with ways to effectively recycle used sandpaper.
Once you’ve posted your challenge on EcoApprentice, all you have to do is sit back and wait for the solutions to roll in. The time this takes can vary according to the difficulty of the problem. When someone suggests a solution you like, you declare them the winner!
Of course, there are winners all round. You win by finally getting rid of that gnarly problem (and perhaps a whole pile of accumulated waste.) Depending on the solution involved, your community or another business may win by making profitable use of your unwanted stuff. And the planet enjoys a lightened load and the spreading of eco-awareness.
Speaking of awareness, extend your winnings by using your EcoApprentice.com experience to generate publicity for your business. Journalists are always looking for newsworthy items, and innovative waste-reduction solutions certainly count – especially if they benefit the community, too. Be sure to send out a press release (contact me if you’d like assistance), and let your current customers know, too, that your company has just turned a shade deeper green.