There’s a refrigerator in the kitchen at my office that
has a nifty environmental feature: it beeps to let you know when
the door is left open. By notifying whoever is passing by, it helps save
energy and keep food cool.
Yet this particular refrigerator has a door slightly out
of alignment, causing it to beep non-stop if it’s not closed just right. This
has been a problem since I started the job last year. More informal
meetings than I care to count have been interrupted by the sudden beep …
beep … beep of the refrigerator after someone forgot to slam the door.
However, the office was recently closed for a renovation
and manned by a skeleton crew. One of these members of staff had a
temporary desk a stone’s throw from the refrigerator and, by the end of the
day, he was absolutely infuriated by the beeping. He complained to the
building’s facilities staff and, sure enough, by the time the office was
re-opened, the door had been adjusted and the refrigerator had fallen silent.
Why did it take so long?
Everyone had assumed that someone else had reported the problem and there
was nothing more that could be done. So
everyone ignored it and just gritted their teeth through the beeping. It’s no wonder that the first day back in the
office I overheard my colleague joke that this was going to be his greatest
accomplishment of the year! While it was (mostly) a tongue-in-cheek
comment, I think it is a perfect illustration of how sometimes the
smallest actions can have the biggest effect.
Whether it’s picking up litter, asking a café to use recyclable—or,
better yet, reusable—cups, or simply being more aware of one’s own efforts to
reduce waste, all it takes is a willingness to speak up or to take a small step
forward to institute lasting change.