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Recycling can add to your skill set

Anti waste campaigner Karen Cannard ANL-160802-160111009
Anti waste campaigner Karen Cannard ANL-160802-160111009

Can you imagine a world where how you treat your rubbish at home could influence your opportunities in the workplace?

I don’t want to just imagine it. I want to see it.

It might be hard to picture now but when you start to unpick the often-perceived inane topic of waste, I hope my vision will become at least a little clearer.

Imagine you live in a household that creates a full wheelie bin of rubbish. You think you’re already doing your best to recycle but confess to not fully understanding the ‘rules’. Yet, someone or something convinces you to take up what feels like an impossible challenge to halve your waste.

Perhaps your friends and family take the mickey out of you for attempting something so ‘dull’. Those living with you at home might even protest at the idea. But you stick with it, finding a hidden determination even if you’re uncertain where to start.

For the first time in ages, you take a proper look at the recycling leaflet or log on to the council information online. Is there stuff in your rubbish bin that could have gone into recycling? You delve deeper and discover there are even things that you could have been recycled at the tip.

You bravely make your kitchen bin smaller, to nudge the rest of your household into checking the recycling before they throw stuff away.

Then there’s the grimness of food waste. But you find ways to save food from the bin, whether it’s buying less of the stuff that normally ends up in the bin or discovering storage and cooking tips to make it last longer.

You observe, experiment and monitor the impact of your changes. Within a few months you notice that your rubbish is amazingly lighter. You reflect on what’s worked and what hasn’t. Determined to try new things, you might even beat your original goal and new habits that were once hard at first become second nature. You feel better organised and probably even find yourself saving money.

Now pause. Read those paragraphs again. This time through a Skills Lense.

What I hope you see here is no longer the inane topic of rubbish that many take for granted but a scenario where anybody, anywhere, can take the opportunity to learn and put into practice a set of skills that have a recognised value. But we must also learn to appreciate their value. For starters there’s Problem-Solving, followed quickly by Analysis and Research skills. And how about Monitoring and Evaluation as well as Organisational skills and Communication?

All valuable skills, especially as reducing waste quickly is no mean feat. It is an incredible personable achievement and we mustn’t forget this. Add to this the character attributes needed to massively slim your bin and you’ll find determination, a positive mental attitude plus demonstrating flexibility and an appetite for change.

Regardless of whether you’ve scraped a GCSE or have a PHD, these are transferable skills worthy of boosting any CV. The challenge is how to make to make this noticeable to employers without fear of them falling over with laughter that you’ve used your bin for an utterly bizarre experiment.

I say do it with confidence and with the right tone, it’ll certainly help you stand out from the crowd. With increasing numbers of organisations aiming for Zero Waste and needing to demonstrate environmental credentials, there is more of a chance your newfound knowledge will be a desirable asset.

But you won’t know until you give it a go. And while you’re at it, google ‘Zero Waste businesses’. You could even find your way towards a whole new profession.


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