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Op/Ed

What to do with your cardboard pile-up after online shopping

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) If your online shopping for the holidays has you dealing with endless cardboard piles in your home, you aren’t alone.

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Cardboard boxes leftover from online shopping purchases.

Online shopping has been going absolutely gangbusters. Amazon generated profound profits over the last year, and apps like Mercari that allow users to sell secondhand items online are enjoying a similar moment in the sun too.

This boom means that people are sending a lot of stuff around through the mail. I’m no exception: I jokingly call my front door “the shipping bay” because these days, there are always boxes standing there, waiting to be sent out or opened up.

With every delivery, there comes a cardboard box – and consumers haven’t ever had to take responsibility for disposing of cardboard on this scale before. Turns out, it’s no small responsibility.

Different materials have very different “life spans.” For example, glass and metal can be recycled indefinitely (in ideal conditions.) Most plastics can only be recycled once or twice, and brand new “virgin” plastic is still required in the process.

Since cardboard is made from unbleached paper fibers that are long and durable, it happens to be a recycling goldmine. New corrugated cardboard can be recycled lots of times, and then repurposed into other materials when it degrades. That is, as long as it’s kept clean and dry.

The majority of businesses that deal with boxed goods on a large scale have systems to ensure that their cardboard gets recycled efficiently and responsibly. (Although, there isn’t a federal program or mandate that ensures this. Most locales have some kind of regional or state law that requires businesses to recycle.) On the other hand, the average household is much more likely to dispose of cardboard in the garbage or soil it too much to be usable.

In fact, most home recycling bins in the US are contaminated beyond salvageability. Once all the bins in the neighborhood get collected and mixed together, dirty recyclables can mess up the rest of the batch, too. Recycling sorters often have to sift through everything from human waste to batteries, which are a fire hazard when mixed with paper recycling.

Cardboard is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the waste that is generated by online shopping.

Still, boxes will be a consumer responsibility for as long as we’re relying on online shopping and shipping to get our goods, even once the pandemic ends. It’s worth reminding ourselves to be mindful about all waste, not just trash. Stuff doesn’t vanish when we put it in the bin; “reduce” and “reuse” come before “recycle” for a reason.

Desmond Meagley is an award-winning writer, graphic artist and cultural commentator in D.C. A proud YR Media alumn, Desmond's writing and illustrations have been featured in the SF Chronicle, HuffPost, Teen Vogue, The Daily Cal, and NPR among others. In their spare time, Desmond enjoys vegetarian cooking and vigorous bike rides.

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Op/Ed

Gender discrimination still exists, even blatantly in job descriptions

(EDITORIAL) Surely after a century, we have learned half the population can work just the same as the other half right? Down with discrimination.

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Woman taking notes representing gender discrimination.

Suzanne Lucas, Evil HR Lady reported a job description post for a hospitalist from Ascend Medical that said, “women don’t do well here.” The posting was taken down once it was brought to Ascend Medical’s attention, but it does beg the question how something like that was allowed to get through two organizations. First, Ascend Medical didn’t proofread what was posted; then, ZipRecruiter’s algorithms didn’t catch the obvious gender discrimination.

Gender discrimination in job descriptions is against the law.

One hundred years ago, Congress ratified the Nineteenth Amendment, giving women the right to vote. Federal law addressed gender discrimination in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For 58 years now, it’s been illegal to discriminate against women in employment.

It’s difficult to imagine anyone of any generation currently in the workplace who doesn’t understand gender discrimination. Unfortunately, discrimination still exists in the workplace. The Ascend Medical posting might have been a fluke, but Pew Research estimates that over 40% of women experience discrimination in the workplace based on gender.

Pew Research reports that women get passed over for important assignments, based on gender. Many women earn less than the man doing the same job. Women believe that they get less support from senior leaders because of gender. Women are three times more likely than men to experience sexual harassment on the job.

How can gender equality in the workplace be improved?

Hiring managers have to do better when it comes to writing job descriptions. Workers need to talk about gender inequality and address it with HR or other managers. Evaluate the jobs in your business and look for gender bias. Do you expect the women in your office to answer the phones and plan the parties? When you promote, are you looking at the strengths of your workers, not their gender? Are you offering training and mentoring to all of your employees?

The gender gap has been a thing for decades. I’d like to think that many businesses are doing better. But as the Ascend Medical job posting demonstrates, we still have a ways to go.

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Op/Ed

16 easy-to-digest networking tips

(EDITORIAL) Short-form content and blurbs are all the rage. Every social media platform has limited characters, so here are 16 quick networking tips.

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Handshake between two people representing networking representing the question technique.

These days, we like everything in bite-sized, easy-to-digest pieces of information. We’re so oversaturated with news, that it’s only possible to (kind of) keep up with it through a medium such as Twitter where we can get a brief news capture and see what’s trending. But even then it’s overwhelming, so @Ethos3 cast a net asking for networking tips – in 140 characters or less. Here are 16 of the most useful pieces of networking information the search yielded:

“When networking, inquire about passions, hobbies and interests, instead of asking “Where do you work?” – @DaveKerpen

“When you first meet someone, use his or her name a few times to create a feeling of familiarity,” – @CIOonline

“Don’t immediately send a LinkedIn invite to a new contact. Follow up that night or the next day,” – @RealBusiness

“Adam Rifkin a respected networker in Silicon Valley suggests: Don’t rush relationships; trust takes time,” – @Bakadesuyo

“Don’t attend networking events with a list of things you want. Arrive with a list of things you can offer,” – @LearnVest

“Need a reason to network? “Succeeding in business is all about making connections” – Richard Branson,” – @EntMagazine

“Once you’ve made a new contact, ask what method of follow up they prefer: email, phone, LinkedIn, or other,” – @USnews

“During conversations, focus on the other person. Learn what makes them tick. Ask, listen, observe,” – @ChrisBrogan

“Interesting people easily make meaningful connections. Be able to talk about topics other than work,” – @HuffPost

“The business-building “gold” is not in collecting business cards but in the solid relationships you build,” – @Forbes

“Offer to help people. “The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity” – Keith Ferrazzi,” – @Ferrazzi

“If you want to go somewhere, it is best to find someone who has already been there,” – @TheRealKiyosaki

“Most people at events are in the same situation: they don’t know many people; they welcome icebreakers,” – @Steamfeedcom

“When in doubt, discuss the setting or the event. How? Do your homework about the event, and be observant,” – @RealSimple

“Take a friend with refined social skills to networking events to ease the awkwardness of breaking the ice,” – @Dailymuse

“Apply to be a speaker at conferences. Networking at the event is easier if everyone knows your name,” – @Ethos3

Now get out there and network your hearts out!

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Op/Ed

How home builders have adapted to the rise in multi-generational co-living

(EDITORIAL) Multi-generational living and landlord co-living has seen a rise in popularity. How are builders keeping up?

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Large house representing co-living.

Homesharing is on-trend in the United States. It’s giving younger Americans a way to break into the highly competitive housing market. Homesharing is often considered #CoLiving. The homeowner rents out a portion of the home to family members or even strangers. Co-living is not the traditional roommate agreement where everyone shares the living space. Co-living spaces are designed to be private, from a bedroom and bathroom to an entire floor complete with bedrooms, a kitchen, and other amenities. Some builders are even building homes designed specifically for co-living with larger communal spaces and larger closets. What’s driving this trend?

Multi-generational living on the increase

According to Pew Research, the number of Americans who live in multigenerational family homes has quadrupled since the 1970s. A multigenerational household is defined as “two or more adult generations living in one home” or a skipped generation, such as grandparents and grandchildren. In 2021, the National Association of REALTORS® suggests two reasons for multi-generational homes.

  1. Aging parents move back in with their adult children as part of caregiving, both for themselves but also to help care for younger children.
  2. Pooling incomes to afford a larger home or to rely on others in a potential loss of income.
  3. Adult children who never left the family home are continuing to share the home while they save money to move out on their own or simply wait to inherit the family home.

Pew Research says,

“Americans in multigenerational households are less likely to live in poverty.”

The financial advantages to living with others, whether in your family or not, can be huge.

Co-living has its opponents

A recent ordinance passed in Shawnee, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City, banned co-living with four or more unrelated people. Ostensibly, the ban was to prevent investors from buying up properties to allow for more renters. The goal of the City Council was to keep the housing market from ballooning. However, the ban on co-living doesn’t prevent homeowners from renting to one to three individuals nor does it prevent multigenerational living.

Co-living is a trend to watch.

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