At my company, NationLink Wireless, the decision to “go green” by creating our own environmental program was in many ways necessitated by the products we sell. While cell phones and other wireless products may not carry the carbon footprint of a paper mill or major manufacturer, electronic waste is a growing concern worldwide. The challenge was finding the right way for our 25-employee company to make a positive impact that fit with the goals and mission of our business.
NationLink is a premium, value-added provider of wireless products and services, so it made sense for us to launch a cell phone recycling program. We know firsthand that cell phone recycling is imperative – we see individuals and corporations discarding old phones every day. On average, 130 million cell phones are retired annually in the
Our first step in determining how to implement a recycling program was simple – we asked our friends and clients using an online survey tool. With our survey, we confirmed that we were on the right track. Almost 70% of respondents told us they had old cell phones and batteries lying around and 95.5% said that if we started a program, they’d be willing to donate those devices. We also learned that any recycling program we implemented would need to be easy and secure.
We found the right recycling partner and last year on April 22, Earth Day, NationLink Wireless “went green” by launching GreenLink. GreenLink encourages our client to donate old cell phones and accessories, with proceeds from those donations going to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, a well-loved, deserving non-profit in our home state of
If you are considering trying to get a green program off the ground I would suggest three things:
1) Choose a program that is relevant to your business. While we all know of many great environmental projects, sustaining interest and engaging staff and clients depends on relevance.
2) Get the buy-in of potential participants before you start. Through surveys, e-mail newsletters, or one-on-one conversations, gauge the level of interest in the kind of program you are considering. In addition to providing valuable information, making clients and others aware of your “green” intentions is a positive marketing step.
3) Position your program in a way that allows for growth, long-term development and change. We named our program GreenLink to exemplify our intentions to be an environmentally responsible company. As our company grows and environmental concerns change, we may find programs beyond cell phone recycling that make sense for NationLink. And, if we don’t achieve the level of participation we want with recycling, we’ll make the necessary changes to do something that does produce real results.
The long-term impact of our young program remains to be seen. However, the potential for us to make a difference is there, and we are providing a service that both our clients and the wireless industry have told us is needed.
More importantly, we have let our staff, the community and our clients know that green is more than just a buzzword for NationLink Wireless – we are putting actions behind our words that we hope will make a small dent in improving the environment, and make us a stronger company.