Reduce, Recyle, Recycle: Beyond Going Green
An article by Joey Ng
The 3Rs is something we are all familiar with. Increased affluence in the society has push ‘green’ initiatives higher in many personal and corporate belief systems. The purpose of this article is not to tell us what the 3Rs and their impact are, but, is an attempt to metaphorically link the deeper values of the 3Rs with the function of an organization.
To reduce is to use lesser. No compromise of output with a reduction in input
equates efficiency. A simple example, it used to take 10 men to produce 100
bottles in a minute. If the company is able to reduce manpower to 5 and yet
maintain production rate of 100 bottles per minute, efficiency has been achieved, and the surplus 5 can be reassign other task, or produce another 100 bottles, increasing the overall productivity of the company.
Reuse can be simply defined as ‘use again’. Whenever an entity is used again, the return of investment (ROI) increases. ROI increases with each usage. Reusing do help company reduce cost, however, it does not apply to everything. Certain assets like machineries will reach a tipping point when further usage could actually mean higher cost. For example, the older a car, the higher the rate of fuel consumption, and the more likely it will break down. Eventually, the cost of keeping it in operations will be higher than investing in a new one. The idea that reusing drives creativity through the ingenious use of resources is also not far fetch.
Recycling is one of the greatest acts of unselfishness. The reality is, all of us who are reading this article will not live long enough to see the end of Earth, no matter how much we try to kill her. Recycling is an ongoing process with long term benefits in mind. All the ‘green’ deeds of today are for the next few generations to reap and enjoy.
Everyone knows the importance of recycling, but most still find the effort
gargantuan. Why? The short sightedness, the inability to look beyond the short
term is one possible reason. Why should I recycle when there is no impact on me if I don’t?
Short term thinking is the ‘Achilles Heel’ of organizations looking to run
sustainable business. When employees are not able to see the long term
benefits of their current actions, they will center their deeds on immediate
returns. Or, if the benefit of their work will only be reaped in the future, they will
be less, or even not motivated to perform. Another scenario is employees finding no reason for effort when they know that they will no longer be around to enjoy the harvest.
Many, if not all, functions of an organization face the challenge of short-sightedness – Innovation, self-development and branding for example. Let’s focus on branding. A strong brand requires years of consistency to build and uphold. Just like recycling, where what matters is the consistent effort over an
extended period of time. In both disciplines, the impact of nonpractice
will not be felt immediately. If I choose to not recycle a piece of paper today, the world will not collapse tomorrow. If I choose not to use the company colors appropriately, the brand will not suddenly lose its appeal. However, if this attitude persists overtime, collectively from each individual, the
damage will be felt sooner than the benefit of the contrasting paradigm.
Many actions undertaken in an organization have a strategic bearing if one is
able to look beyond the face value of the task. Let’s take putting of date when
saving E-documents for example. The primary purpose is of course to facilitate
the tracking of files, looking beyond the face value, this action serves as a,
conscious or unconscious, effort to promote the spirit of accountability. Another
one, maintaining the cleanliness of the office pantry can be parallel to ownership. No one cleans the chalet’s kitchen!
Going back to the title, when the conscious efforts of the 3Rs are practiced
continually and consistently, it would reach a level of subconscious where without much thought, one is able to readily and effortlessly apply the principle – or some call it spirit -in other actions. In the long run, when practice cohesively, the 3Rs will of course benefit the environment and society and, their deeper values (productivity, increase in ROI and long term thinking), to the organization and all its stakeholders.