July 15, 2008
Recycling Office Paper
Posted by Gordon Smith

This made me laugh:

I often work odd hours and so have become familiar with the custodians everywhere I’ve been (more familiar, sad to say, than with many of my colleagues).  But I haven’t (yet!) been employed by enough schools that I would have any standing for sweeping generalisations.  Somewhere, right, there must be college custodians who don’t just put the recycling in with all the rest of the rubbish?  Even when you are not watching them?

(I’ve never complained to the custodians, their superiors, or anyone else about this.  I’ve a strict rule against doing anything to anger alienated labor when it has unrestricted access to my things.)

Several years ago, I sent an email to the faculty listserv at Wisconsin asking whether others separated their trash when the custodians just combined it. (We talked about such things on the listserv at Wisconsin. We don't have those conversation via email at BYU.)

The first response to my email was from a clinical professor, who accused me on the list of being a racist. Without replaying the whole event, suffice it to say that he was reading a lot into my email that no one else on the faculty seemed to see ... at least judging by the flood of sympathetic messages and office visits throughout the day.

Though my accuser never apologized directly, he subsequently engaged me in a friendly conversation that seemed intended to convey remorse. Unfortunately, I am not a big enough person to have forgotten the initial accusation. But I can laugh about it. Maybe that's worth something.

Anyway, what I am curious to know is whether office paper recycling is effective. One of my sympathetic colleagues claimed that the paper would be re-sorted at some later stage in the process, but that seemed unlikely to me. I found lots of articles on the internet extolling the benefits of office paper recycling, but what happens to all of that combined paper?
 

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