One of the ways Harmons knows if we are doing well at recycling is tracking our diversion rate. That is, how many tons of waste are we diverting from a landfill to a recycling facility. If we did not do any recycling, we would have a 0% diversion rate. Through our current efforts many of our stores that are able to recycle and compost are somewhere around a 60% diversion rate. Our goal at right now is to get to 75%, and our ultimate goal is to become a Zero Waste Facility. In order to be considered a Zero Waste Facility, we need to reach a 90% diversion rate. So far our Distribution Center is the only part of the company to reach this amazing goal.
One of the greatest culprits preventing us from reaching our goals is contamination. When a load of recycling materials is contaminated it can no longer be recycled and it will be taken to the landfill. Therefore, a contaminated load does not get counted as part of our diversion rate. To make matters worse, it costs the company extra money because we have to pay extra transportation costs to take the waste to the landfill. And because the load is transported by truck, we contribute more air pollution too.
Contamination can be many different things. In a recent contaminated load from one of our stores, there was a broken pallet in the load. We have also had loads with produce, mayonnaise, and other food stuff acting as the dreaded contaminant.
The best way to prevent contamination is to make sure you throw waste into the correct place. Have both the blue recycling bin and a garbage can near your work area so you are not tempted to just throw everything into the recycling bin. Make sure you are aware which bags of waste are recycling and which ones are trash so you don’t throw the wrong bag into the comingle compactor. Make sure to scrape out containers as completely as possible. Not only will this ensure little contamination makes it into the recycling can, it will also ensure you aren’t wasting product and contributing to shrink. In short, take an extra second to think about what you’re throwing away. If it can’t be recycled, it’s garbage.
Also be aware of contamination at home. These same concerns apply to recycling everywhere. At my house I have both a garbage can and a bin (conveniently, it’s green) for recycling. It’s important to throw the items away in the correct bin. You may not be able to track a diversion rate at home, but the combined effect of everyone recycling properly can make a huge difference to our environment and the longevity of our landfills.
My name is Shawn Davis. I am the People Support Manager at Harmons District and I am also the Green Team Captain at my store.
Green Teams can be found in every Harmons. We help make sure that information and education about our Being Green program is given to all of our associates.
As part of our responsibilities, we meet once every month to talk about what’s working and what’s not when it comes to being green. We brainstorm ideas to get more of our associates to participate, to get the word out about our efforts, and review the results for how well we have done the past month for diverting waste from the landfill to a recycling facility.
One of the most important tools the Green Team has to ensure our stores are doing all we can to recycle and compost is the Green Team Audit. We split up the team into groups and each group is assigned a department or two. Once in the department, the team members physically dig through the garbage and recycle bins. It can be a yucky job sometimes, but it’s the only way to ensure we are recycling and composting properly. Each department gets a grade and the store as a whole gets an average grade.
The Green Team Audits let us know which departments need more help to recycle and compost. They also can help encourage departments to do better by setting goals to reach for the A grade. We can even challenge departments to compete to see who can recycle better at the next audit. Can you imagine a Bakery and Delicatessen trying to out-recycle one another?
At the meetings held at District, we always end by conducting our R-Card Drawing. R-Cards are given to those associates who are caught “Being Green” by recycling, composting, turning off lights, doing the dishes, and other helpful Being Green initiatives. The associate who received the R-Card wins $25.00 and the manager or Green Team Member who gave the card receives $5.00. It’s one of the ways we can thank associates for helping Harmons be the best at getting better when it comes to Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling.
What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day?
One Earth Day tradition at Harmons is to cut out the use of plastic bags for the day. Today all stores will offer only paper or reusable bags instead of plastic. Harmons City Creek and Emigration Market already do this on a daily basis. At other stores, our great customers continue to have a tremendous impact on decreasing the use of disposable bags by consistently bringing in reusable bags. Thank you!
Have you noticed the waste diversion chart in your favorite Harmons store? Look for a chart posted in your store that shows how that location is doing with diverting waste from the landfill through programs like commingle recycling and composting.
When I was asked to write this blog on sustainability I asked myself, “What does that really mean?” As I told you before I’ve always believed that reducing, reusing and recycling is the responsibility of us all in our daily lives, however, there is much more to it than that. Webster’s definition is: “The quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources and thereby supporting long term ecological balance.” In 1958 President Theodore Roosevelt said, “I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use our natural resources, but I do not recognize the right to waste them or rob by wasteful use, the generations that come after us.” In the 70’s the term sustainability began to be used to support this ideal. There must be equilibrium and limits in our growth in order to preserve those places on Earth that are vital in sustaining life on the planet such as wetlands, forests, prairies and oceans. As the non-profit organization BSB says, “Nature can survive without Humans but Humans cannot survive without Nature.”
So that being said, what can we do? It might seem that something that affects the entire world is much too broad for any one of us to do anything about. Think of this, if you were to receive just one penny from every person on the planet you would have 70 Million dollars! Now that makes your penny seem to be worth something! So if each of us can just think twice before we add something to the landfill that could be recycled, or over-water our lawn, or drive as little as possible, we are adding our penny to the pot. The idea of sustainability has been around for many years and we are finally as a society recognizing that we can and must do something in order to preserve the beauty and life giving resources we take for granted every day. Businesses like Harmons who practice what they preach and are willing to implement workable ideals throughout their company are a huge step on the path to sustaining. I will talk about ways that Harmons is doing this in future blogs. If the employees can take the message of simply recycling home to their families we have given them a valuable and long term gift! I realize now why this concept is so much a part of who I am because of the information that has been pumped into my head throughout my life. I think we lose sight of the ideal through the materialism we have all around us, so take a minute to appreciate the magnificent mountains all around us or the beauty of the sunset when you’re not on vacation or the zucchini your neighbor left on your doorstep! Pitch in your penny to ensure that the beauty of the simple things will be there for generations to come.
Hi, my name is Cindy. I am in my 9th year of service with Harmons and I have spent all of that time at the Floral Design and Distribution Center. In that time I have seen a lot of changes and growth here. I have learned so much and now have the privilege of purchasing the beautiful flowers you see at Harmons.
When I first started I noticed that the Distribution Center was not even recycling the cardboard like the stores did. This bothered me because of my personal belief that we all need to do our part to reduce, reuse and recycle! Thirty years ago when I moved out on my own I started to recycle, this was back when it was not cool to do so! I would have to save it up and take it to BFI just off 3300 South and 900, ironically called Rocky Mountain Recycling now and where some of the recyclables from Harmons are sent. The employees there would look at me as if I was crazy and tell me that I really didn’t have enough to get money for it, I would have to explain on each of my monthly trips that I just wanted the material to be recycled and did not expect to get paid for it. I can’t begin to tell you how happy it makes me that we have come so far as to have a bin right at our homes (most of us anyway) where we can separate our trash and have recycling ability at our fingertips!
I am proud to be a part of Harmons’ efforts to do their part towards reducing our carbon footprint. I am a mother of two and have four wonderful grandchildren. I am in hopes that through education and the efforts of us all we can create a better world for my loved ones and yours for now and many generations to come. You can call me a “hippie”; I make tye-dyed clothes for fun, listen to the Grateful Dead, and have been trying to save the world one plastic bottle at a time, but the mission of sustainability that Harmons is committed to goes far beyond saving the whales! Please join me in learning ways that we can all make a difference and what the Associates at Harmons are doing to have a positive impact.
This will be my last regular post in the Sustainability category because I will switch to another topic I am equally as passionate about. You’ll meet the new person in a couple weeks, and I assure you that this person is very committed to sustainable practices both at Harmons and at home. I want to leave you with something fun today and challenge you to beat these efforts . . .
When talking about the three R’s, we seem to focus on the recycle piece most of the time instead of the first or second words. We have a few ladies in our community who have found creative ways to reuse grocery bags and are great examples of the second R – Reuse.
We don’t know who the first two ladies are, but their sense of style and colorful approach to festive outfits is very impressive. These photos were sent to us by our friend Continue Reading »
A big thank you to all of the customers who participated in the recent E-scrap collection event. Harmons partnered with Sims Metal Management, Swift Transportation and Special Olympics Utah to offer electronic and scrap metal recycling opportunities to residents at Harmons locations from Roy to St. George. More than 70 volunteers gave of their time and energy to help collect and transport everything dropped off during the one day event. Through great community support and awareness, 58,392 pounds (or 29.2 tons) of electronic waste and scrap metal was diverted from the landfill. Most items were free to drop off with a charge for only old tube TVs and CRT monitors. The proceeds from the event were donated to Special Olympics Utah and Harmons customers helped to raise $6,775.
Thank you to all who participated or volunteered for making this a successful recycling and diversion event. Thank you also to our recycling partners, like the Recycling Coalition of Utah and Momentum Recycling, for helping to get the word out. Continue Reading »
This Saturday, May 14th, Harmons will be hosting an electronic recycling event at 6 store locations. This is your chance to get rid of all your old and unwanted electronics and help our friends at Special Olympics Utah at the same time.
We are partnering with Sims Metal and Swift Transportation to offer community residents an opportunity to responsibly dispose of electronics and metals. A wide range of items will be accepted including: stereos, computers, cell phones, microwaves, metal shelving and more. The event is free for all items except old tube TV’s and CRT computer monitors. A voucher, purchased in advance for $10 from any Harmons Business Center, is required for the two exception items. (Vouchers will be $15 the day of event.)
All proceeds from the event will go to Special Olympics Utah. Volunteers from Special Olympics Utah will also be assisting with the collection. If you would like to join in on the volunteer efforts sign up at http://sout.vsyshost.com/.
The collection event will be held this Saturday, May 14th from 9am to 2pm at the following Harmons locations: Brickyard, Draper, Cougar, Orem, Roy and St. George.
You are probably hearing a lot of things about Earth Day all over the news today. Most local businesses, including Harmons, are celebrating this day with a number of activities and events. In our stores today we will be using only paper or reusable bags and when you use your reusable bag you can be entered to win a Go Green Picnic bag valued at more than $50. Instead of giving you more sustainability information (because I have 18 more chances to do that this year), I would like to announce a fun new contest we are starting today.
I’ve been involved with our Harmons Go Green bags since I placed our first order in the fall of 2007. Did you know we completely sold out of our first order of 20,000 bags in fewer than 4 days?! I personally think these bags are awesome and I love when I see them around town for other uses than just grocery shopping. You, our shoppers, do an amazing job of bringing back those bags and we have been able to decrease our disposable bag use by more than 10% each year since we started.
We are now giving you the opportunity to show off you, your family, and your Harmons Go Green bag. Send us a picture of you and your Harmons Go Green bag, any color or size, and we’ll post it on our web site. At the end of each quarter we will pick a few winners to receive Harmons Gift Cards. Check out our “Where has Harmons Go Green gone?” contest page to view the details and to submit your photo. We’re excited to see all the fun places your bag visits.
Stay posted for more information about an eWaste recycling event being held in May. Happy Earth Day!