It all started after Christmas. I decided to start The Green Team at work to evaluate some of our corporate processes in terms of efficiency and waste. Over the past six months we have held an e-waste pickup day and a hazardous waste pickup day – providing an opportunity for employees to finally rid there closets of old computer monitors and their garages of the quarter full paint cans. We started recycling all of our paper products and our cardboard boxes. And, what I thought was the most innocuous change of all, we got rid of all Styrofoam coffee cups and replaced them with nice ceramic mugs. We have three dishwashers, so I knew we could keep them clean. They have the company logo printed on them, and I thought everyone would drink their morning coffee with pride – “I love the environment, this coffee is great, and, Man, I love my company!” Little did I know that I had started a dark, underground foam market.
This afternoon I walked into the breakroom, and Rosalynn, building cleaning support, quickly crossed her arms with one hand hidden well behind her shoulder. I asked what she was hiding (Rosalynn and I have a great relationship). She showed me – the cup. A single, white, immortal foam cup. She then spilled the beans about what was going on. When we got the ceramic mugs there was a box of Styrofoam cups left in the closet under the front stairwell. Word got out that we still had some cups. A few people started coming to Rosalynn to get their weekly supply of cups. This group of five people kept their secret on the down-low for fear of ridicule from the Green Team. It started out with a single cup in the morning that they would reuse during the day. This got easy, so the upgraded to multiple cups a day. Secret meetings behind the stairwell, bag handoffs in the hallway, Drop-offs in office chairs – many different ways the underground foam market propagated. Well, the word is out – Rosalynn sang like a canary. The underground foamers will be exposed!
I thought this was really funny.