This past fall semester Green Girl had the unique opportunity to work with a group of business and marketing students taking a class at CU in project management. We were asked to develop a project that the students could tackle that would benefit our company and would also help the students gain experience with time management, product development and in which they would be able to utilize their skills from class and talents in marketing or time management.
I was excited to choose the City of Boulder’s new Zero Waste Ordinance as our project. What is the ordinance? Following Seattle and San Francisco, Boulder has become the third city in the nation to require recycling and composting citywide. On June 16th, 2015, the Boulder City Council unanimously approved the Universal Zero Waste Ordinance, which mandates stricter conversion measures for every private residence, business, nonprofit, school and local government institutions. The City of Boulder has a goal to divert 85% of the city’s current waste from the landfill by 2025.
WOW – huge goal, big ordinance and lots to do. I began meeting with my ‘team’ of students: Hunter, Sophie, Clark, John and Slater. We started by setting goals for outreach to our customer base with a time-line and then worked backwards so that we could achieve a list that looked like this; Identify who the City of Boulder customers would be that needed composting information and help, create an informative outreach program for those City customers, develop marketing tools for customers, design a marking outreach campaign that would effectively reach the correct customers, update the website and marketing materials about composting and lastly develop a video to use on the website and on social media as an education tool everyone could fall in love with and understand.
Did I say this was a big project? Honestly I wasn’t even sure if we would get through half of our list of things to accomplish. It’s not easy to work with five different personalities and there was the learning curve the students would have to even grasp what Green Girl Recycling was all about and then really what this new ordinance meant let alone how it would impact us and our customers.
My team and I began meeting in October and by November they understood who Green Girl Recycling was and had been to a huge City event where they got to learn all about the ordinance, watch various speakers describe how this ordinance impacts everyone, hear about issues related to multifamily units and access to composting. They got to engage and took so much away from that event – thank God the City of Boulder was really prepared for this ordinance and even developed a new website just to educate everyone about what is happening. Check out Www.bouldercolorado.gov/zero-waste
What the team took from this event was astounding. In less than thirty days we had updated the entire City of Boulder database, sent information via Constant Contact to everyone (insert link to that constant contact letter) and partnered with PACE (Partners for a Clean Environment) to help us with face-to-face outreach at customer locations wanting to sign-up for composting immediately. PACE has helped over 25 customers get bins, our new signage and education about composting and continues to work with our customers as they have been asking for more information and help getting bins. YES – you can still get free bins for composting if you let us know SOON.. hurry, funding for bins will not last forever!!
By the second month the CU students and I reworked all our flyers so that trash, recycling and compost bin labeling would be exact, easier to understand and stand out a break area so that ANYONE would understand what is compostable, recyclable or just going to the landfill. All these new flyers are on our website at www.greengirlrecycling.com – check them out!
The only goal we didn’t hit during the semester was the video – which is a huge undertaking. I’m excited to say we are still working on this piece of education and hope to have it finished by March of this year. Again- getting to partner with CU students in the entire process of planning, development and production. I can’t wait to see it!!!
I learned A LOT from this project and program. I bet I learned more than they did honestly. I found that the youth coming through business school today is vibrant, aware, and able. When asked what I would have done differently I think the only thing that came to mind was to create a better calendar for meeting dates with pre-determined topics and goals for each meeting as we only had at most 35 minutes each week. (It’s hard to get everything done in short stints-but they did it!)
I’m thinking I may have had the most exceptional 5 CU students from that class as my team?? Either way, I feel beyond lucky to have met them, gotten to answer their questions which made me really re-think some of our systems and made a few friends along the way. I can honestly say I’d hire each and every one of those students and wish them great success in the next year – on to graduation and explosive growth outside of college.
Someone told me once you are a sum total of all your experiences – if that is true, I am far more from working with those students than I was before.
I’d like to put a positive plug in for: Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado, Boulder.
I worked with professor Noah Zikmund ()who was simply amazing, loves his students and has a passion for teaching information technology and product management. It was great to meet him and work with his students last semester.
An extra special thank you to my student team who helped us accomplish so much in only two and a half months: Hunter Johnson, Slater Dean, Sophie Li, John William Clayton, and Clark Salamie. I wish I had your help all the time on projects!!