Published 3 years ago.
About a 3 minute read.
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Waste is a fact, but it doesn’t have to be feared. We can tackle this through collection, sorting and processing; and by understanding where and why trash is finding its way into the environment, so we can stop it.
In November, I joined more than 300 volunteers in São Paulo, Brazil, as part
clean-up initiative — which brings together employees, partners, customers and
local organizations to not only clean-up litter, but to educate “by doing” on
the importance of proper disposal of waste and the value of recycling.
Arriving at our clean-up site, which was near a beautiful reservoir, it was
surprising to see that a seemingly clean area at first glance was in fact
polluted with an abundance of waste. In a short amount of time, our team rallied
together to clean up plastic bottles, caps, straws, metal cans, paper wrappers
and pieces of wood. Our local partner, Coopercaps Cooperative, supported our
efforts by sorting the collected waste that would later be sold to the
appropriate recycling streams.
#PullingOurWeight volunteers in São Paulo | Images credit: Dow
Why spend a day cleaning and sorting? Because the world has a trash problem.
There’s too much waste and not enough effective waste-management systems to deal
with it, especially in emerging economies such as Asia and Africa. A lot of it
finds its way into rivers or the ocean, washed up on beaches; or littering parks
and natural areas, as well as our urban communities … and a seemingly pristine
The #PullingOurWeight event in São Paulo was just one of 175 Dow-hosted
clean-ups over the last six months around the world. Now in its second year,
this initiative resulted in 18,000 volunteers cleaning up more than 175,000
pounds of waste — far exceeding 2018’s efforts, which rounded up 5,600 Dow
volunteers and 52,500 pounds of trash in 55 cleanups. A direct reflection of
society’s growing concern about this issue and a desire to help on needed
In growing this program since its launch in 2018, we have identified several key
learnings that have enabled us to deliver more impact and help our local
Leverage global volunteer events to raise awareness: Over the past two
years, Dow has leveraged the #PullingOurWeight events as an opportunity to
educate employees on the magnitude of the plastic waste problem and the
actions they can take to be a part of the solution. Global platform efforts
allow employees to convene and not only give back, but learn more about
initiatives that deliver positive social impact.
Engage outside partners that align to a common sense of purpose:
Bringing together industry partners provides the opportunity for a wider
dialogue on key issues. These clean-ups have not only engaged employees, but
sparked a dialog with external leaders — such as former Olympic athlete Lars
Grael; and Valdemar de Oliveira Neto, Impact Business Director at Fundación
AVINA, to reflect on the importance of private-sector engagement with
initiatives to advance recycling, discuss new business models, new
partnerships and new ways of thinking to solve this pressing global issue.
Align efforts to a larger goal, inspiring employees to come together:
Demonstrating to employees that their efforts will ladder up to a larger
goal demonstrates that their contributions will be realized on a grander
scale. #PullingOurWeight is part of Dow’s 2025 objective to positively
impact the lives of 1 billion people; give 600,000 hours to support students
and teachers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education;
and complete 700 volunteer sustainability projects around the world.
Waste is a fact, but it doesn’t have to be feared. We can tackle this through
collection, sorting and processing; and by understanding where and why trash is
finding its way into the environment, so we can stop it. Dow is globally
committed to the task. However, for the world to ultimately be rid of litter in
the environment, we must all help do our part to properly dispose of waste,
practice recycling and pick up litter wherever you see it.
Published Jan 16, 2020 7am EST / 4am PST / 12pm GMT / 1pm CET