Thursday, 2 April 2009

Safety in Numbers

Democracy works! I know, I was surprised too, and quite thrilled to have made that discovery last year. Here’s how it happened:

Recycling services in our area were really quite poor. The council collected paper, cardboard, glass and green waste, but most of us could never remember what was being collected which week, and what colour box or bag it was supposed to be in. And they didn’t collect cans and plastic bottles. Being a responsible sort of soul, each time I visited friends in the next borough (where they do have collection facilities for such items) I took along my empties. I was extremely popular, as you might imagine, arriving with three noisy children and four bin bags full of mouldy tins and festering milk bottles, then eating all the cheesecake and going home leaving the smelly rubbish, and occasionally a child or two, behind.

But last May I actually took the time to read through the “Vote for Me” leaflets which came through my door from potential local counsellors. You know the type – community minded individuals who have served on every local PTA, planted 50 trees, scrubbed graffiti off the village hall and raised £500,000 for the local hospital before lunch. One of them was promising that, if elected, she would improve recycling collections. So I voted for her. So did everyone else, it seems, because she won. And so now I can proudly put out my pink sack containing paper, cardboard, glass, cans and plastics, all mixed up together, safe in the knowledge that a gleaming yellow truck will come and take it all away to be recycled.

What this has taught me (and I know you knew this already) is that if enough people want something, and are capable of saying so, then it has a very good chance of happening. If you are fed up with your firm expecting all staff to stay at work beyond their contracted hours, or a particular partner is making everyone’s life miserable, or you just want a “dress down Friday”, then speak to colleagues and see whether you can’t, all together, make a difference. I did.

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