CSR done right (1/3) – Don’t waste waste

Many companies are terribly busy with CSR. Corporate Social Responsibility and social entrepreneurship are hip and that’s fantastic. However, most CSR actions are not very exciting, to say the least.

Giving back to society is great, but why not do it creatively? Every organisation can use creativity to make a difference. There are good reasons to employ creativity in your CSR activities.

If you think donating some money to charity is going to get you noticed, you’re wrong. Many companies wire money to good causes. It’s admirable, but it’s hardly special. If you want the money you spend on charity to benefit your own company as well, it’s important to stand out. You have to do something different. Do good in an original way and you’ll get the publicity you deserve.

Both CSR and social entrepreneurship benefit from original ideas and unorthodox approaches. Use creativity to have a bigger impact and create a win-win situation. Adding value to society is much more sustainable if you make a profit at the same time.

One good area to focus on when it comes to social entrepreneurship or CRS is waste.

Don’t waste waste

How do you view waste? Presumably, you’re not a fan. If you’re anything like most people you’ll view it as useless crap that takes up valuable space. But what if you changed your perfectly rational view for a bit? What if waste could be valuable?

A Rotterdam-based entrepreneur was appalled when he heard about the curious customs of a local cleaning business. The company would order truckloads of cleaning cloths, unload the cloths and simply throw away the wooden pallets they were transported on. The pallets simply had no further use for them. Together with a friend, the assertive entrepreneur approached the company and offered to take the wooden crates out of their hands. Back at his workspace he swiftly turned the ‘waste material’ into beautiful wooden waste bins. After equipping several offices (including ours) with the bins, a new idea arose. Armed with some waste bins, the men returned to the cleaning business and promptly sold them their own ‘waste’ back!

Funnily enough, this is not the first successful case of waste bin creation in Rotterdam. The guys of Jajo Articles have been using discarded advertising posters and advertising posters only to make waste buckets ever since the early 90s. Their ‘Paperbags‘ even ended up in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Jan, one of the creators of the unique bags, cheekily told us that the sales of the waste bins have been so good that he used the revenues from the bin sales alone to buy a house!

Using waste as a resource to create something new is one thing, but would it be possible to find a purpose for the waste products themselves?

In France, a supermarket chain found out that it is. Intermarché decided to give the imperfect fruits and vegetables that normally would be tossed out a second chance. They bought up the fruits and vegetables with imperfect shapes that normally would never reach the shelves and cleverly re-marketed them. Watch the video below to see how they did it.

Don’t limit yourself to boring, obvious acts of social responsibility. Make the most of your good intentions and use creativity to get the exposure you deserve.

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