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Would You Rather Get a Dollar Or Give a Dollar?

[fa icon="calendar'] Jun 27, 2011 8:45:11 AM / by Bahar Gidwani

Ink cartridge photo Recently I had to buy a new cartridge for my ink jet printer.  I went to Staples and bought the cartridge.  They took the old cartridge from me to recycle it, and gave me a $2 credit on my Staples Rewards card.

Today, one of the fluorescent light bulbs in our kitchen burned out. I took it with me to the hardware store so I could get the right replacement. On the way, I noticed that the bulb had mercury in it (it had a big “Hg” label on the bottom).  So, I asked the hardware store guys if they would dispose of it for me.  They said they’d be happy to dispose of it, but that it would cost me a dollar to do it.  That is what they were charged by their waste company for hazardous waste disposal.

Ever wonder why people don’t recycle?  Think about the difference between getting a dollar (actually two dollars!) and giving a dollar.  Most of us prefer the latter to the former.  There is some value in the toner cartridge (they can be refilled and reused) and no value to the light bulb, but I’ve seen the effect of putting a deposit on bottles and cans—they don’t get thrown out on the street anymore.

The folks at EPEAT have persuaded most of the electronics industry that they need to facilitate recycling—even if only to avoid the risk of criticism (and regulation) in the future.  Why can’t other industries do the same?


Bahar Gidwani is a Cofounder and CEO of CSRHUB. Formerly, he was the CEO of New York-based Index Stock Imagery, Inc, from 1991 through its sale in 2006. He has built and run large technology-based businesses and has experience building a multi-million visitor Web site. Bahar holds a CFA, was a partner at Kidder, Peabody & Co., and worked at McKinsey & Co. Bahar has consulted to both large companies such as Citibank, GE, and Acxiom and a number of smaller software and Web-based companies. He has an MBA (Baker Scholar) from Harvard Business School and a BS in Astronomy and Physics (magna cum laude) from Amherst College. Bahar races sailboats, plays competitive bridge, and is based in New York City.

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