The Power of a Single Word: Stewardship

The Power of a Single Word: Stewardship

Posted February 14, 2020

This blog is not about chest-thumping or giddy high fives. Rather, it’s a salute to that rare moment where you can condense everything that you do, work at and believe in with a single word. For us at Thermostat Recycling Corp. that single word is stewardship.

The reason I raise this issue is to stress that we are not alone in this lofty ideal,  and that becomes abundantly clear every time I attend a stewardship “summit.”

I use the word summit as though it carries the weight of a G7 meeting, and while my summit lacks the media attention and aura of importance of the better-known conference, it has its own gravitas: safeguarding the environment.

My summit, and we don’t even use a formal name for it, is a biannual meeting between various nonprofits and businesses that operate in specialized industry segments that safely remove and recycle various products from the waste stream. We meet in Alexandria, Virginia, or Washington, D.C., and our 10 to 15 partners include representatives from the mattress, carpet, paint, battery, and pharmaceutical industries as an example.

While this summit tends toward a low-key round-table discussion, it also serves as that perfect nexus between professional development and an informal learning experience, which is how I view and why I value the relationship.

We all have the same goals of stewardship for our environment, but we certainly live in different industry silos. While TRC has a long-standing and robust approach to mercury-containing thermostats, I also must admit that dropping off an old thermostat in a local collection bin is far easier and less complicated than moving a mattress (or having one picked up) for a recycling center.

The gain for TRC should be apparent. We can review up close what others do and how they both assess and plan for their own stewardship program. The two questions I pose to myself during these interactions are relevant ones: Does someone employ a recycling approach or policy that applies to TRC?  Can TRC implement what someone else does to increase our effectiveness? 

I view our informal group as a brain trust. It has no fee attached to it, and we do it frequently enough to learn new ideas without adding to an onerous commitment of multiple meetings.

What I find refreshing about these biannual meetings is that they force me to review our policies as I provide an informal update to my fellow attendees.

Finally, and some might consider this the “touchy-feely” aspect, is that we share the common bond of creating an environmental stream that is cleaner and safer for all. While it is indeed low key as I’ve mentioned, it also serves as our own band of sisters and brothers in a worthy endeavor. And that alone makes the time we spend at these meetings well worth it.

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