Going green isn’t easy. At least it wasn’t easy for me. Recycling, trying to conserve water and driving less are not things you can do cold turkey; it takes time to mold these actions into habits.
Last fall, equipped with my new found environmental awareness, I started an internship with a digital communications firm in Washington, D.C. Things were going pretty well, and I really liked everyone I worked with.
After bumping into one of the senior staff members in the kitchen I noticed that he threw his Coke Zero can into the regular trash and not in the recycling bin. My dilemma: Do I make a move for the can, switch it to the appropriate trash receptacle and save an otter somewhere? Or do I play it safe, and not risk being the trash-picking intern for the rest of the semester?
I went for it — and yes, my boss happened to turn around at the exact moment my hand was in the trash. Luckily however, he actually came back because he realized his mistake and was going to recycle the can himself (or so he told me). As it turns out, I didn’t have anything to worry about. My supervisor barely blinked an eye at my trash-picking ways.
For this spring, I started looking into internships focused on environmental issues and I was blown away by the number of positions available. Between government departments and environmental organizations, aspiring “greenies” have a ton of opportunities to get more involved in promoting sustainability. The only downside to these internships is that the vast majority are unpaid, and therefore not realistic for some students (like myself).
Even if a green internship isn’t your thing, you can have a huge impact in any workplace. Reminding people to recycle and turning off lights when people leave a room are small steps anyone can take to help the environment. No matter how skeptical of the movement, your employer will surely enjoy a smaller electrical bill each month.