Dumpster Dive Delights: Trashing Bad Habits

01/25/24 | Published By Angela Campbell


By Holly Denson-Camp, Mitchell Sustainability Specialist

In September, Mitchell’s Green Team successfully conducted its second annual Dumpster Dive, an event where courageous volunteers delved into the contents of our dumpster a day before scheduled pickup. This engaging yet messy initiative offered us a glimpse into our recycling habits, pinpointing areas for potential enhancements. Essentially, it granted us visibility into the materials that have found their way into the waste stream, whether rightfully or mistakenly.

One of the discoveries mirrored findings from the previous year: the presence of paper towels within the dumpster. Reflecting on this observation, we suspected that a waste stream was overlooked last year: the sorting options available in the washrooms. This realization can now inform a commitment to address and enhance waste management choices in these areas, aiming for a more sustainable approach to disposal.

Interestingly, while the overall weight of materials collected slightly increased compared to the previous year, there was a notable decrease in the percentage of recyclable content. This shift signifies a positive trend: the dumpster is increasingly becoming a repository solely for actual garbage.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the dedication and hard work of our invaluable Green Team volunteers. Their commitment and enthusiasm transformed this event into a resounding triumph, emphasizing the power of collective effort in driving positive change.

As we reflect on the findings of this Dumpster Dive, we’re fueled by newfound insights and a reinforced determination to continue our journey towards more sustainable operations. I encourage you to join us in this endeavor, as every small action contributes to a significant impact on our environment. Conducting a Dumpster Dive may not be for the faint of heart, but it’s an action I recommend all organizations undertake. Not only can it provide relevant insight into recycling habits, but it’s an opportunity for your team to become (intimately) familiar with the actual impact of wasteful behaviour. There’s nothing like being face-to-face with rotting food waste, mixed with soft plastic and paper towel to make you aware of the importance of proper waste sorting.

Furthermore, involving a diverse group of participants from various departments fosters knowledge sharing and sparks innovative solutions. Each department might offer unique insights into specific waste streams identified during the dive. This process helps identify weaknesses crucial for improvement. Ultimately, the Dumpster Dive serves as a foundational step, generating knowledge, accumulating data, and establishing a baseline for meaningful environmental action.

Let’s dive into more dumpsters (literally and figuratively) and arm ourselves with knowledge for a collective commitment to a greener future!

Mitchell's  Environmental Award 2023 held by Sustainability Specialist Holly Denson-Camp in front of a tree

About the Author

Holly Denson-Camp, Mitchell’s Sustainability Specialist, earned her Bachelors in Environment & Sustainability from UBC. Passionate about implementing cutting-edge sustainable business strategies, she drives initiatives to reduce manufacturing-related carbon emissions. Holly leads internal environmental programs, transforming emissions tracking, improving recycling systems, and championing Mitchell’s ‘Green Team.’ She prioritizes honest reporting, rejecting greenwashing to foster a trusted partnership between Mitchell and its customers, solidifying the company’s commitment to a sustainable printing future.

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