I’m not sure about you, but I’ve always thought we were better off keeping our personal and professional lives (and associated passions) distinctly separate. Leave work at work, and leave home at home, right?
Well, I thought so too, until my boys Ronan (4) and Rory (2) inspired me to look at a recent business challenge very differently.
It was a typical Saturday morning at our house. Everyone was huddled around the dining room table munching on some breakfast. I was watching Ronan and Rory peer out of our dining room window in absolute excitement and anticipation as they waited for the next bird to visit their homemade bird feeders. This new-found hobby was the result of my husband’s doing the evening before where he found some scrap wood and old paint and helped the boys assemble and decorate their own bird feeders. Ronan’s was red (his favorite color) and Rory’s was blue (his favorite color.)
My family LOVES nature and we are always embracing activities and projects that bring our boys even closer to all things green, crawly, furry and feathered.
And this is where my story begins…
At work, we were struggling to find easy to implement solutions to an emerging sustainability challenge. Customers were interested in upgrading their soap and sanitizer dispensers to our newer, more sustainable models, yet they were also looking for our advice on how they could reuse or refurbish the old dispensers, which they preferred over recycling.
“Mom, there’s a nuthatch,” yelled Ronan, snapping me back from my work thoughts. I cheered with boys and smiled, thinking how simple yet engaging, not to mention educational and sustainable, this little project was. Then I saw it! I could literally see one of our old soap or sanitizer dispensers with the front window popped out, painted and hanging on a tree as a birdhouse!
I turned to my husband and said, “I’m going to bring home a few old soap dispensers this week… and we’re going to make birdhouses!”
It took us a total of 15 minutes to turn three used dispensers into pretty cool birdhouses! I took pictures and brought the idea to work the next day. Within minutes of posting the ‘refurbished dispenser’ pictures on our internal social media site, the idea grew wings and took off.
What was originally used to save lives can now serve a second life as a shelter for wildlife!
Part of GOJO’s employee celebration April 22, 2014 included the
refurbishing of previously used soap dispensers for a second life as
birdhouses, toad homes or whatever employees desired.
In four short months, we’ve received positive feedback from customers interested in reusing and refurbishing used items – not to mention additional ideas like piggy banks and toad homes. A GOJO employee’s Girl Scout troop sought our approval to take this ‘refurbished dispenser project’ on with the goal to create a National program out of it. Word quickly spread among our greater-Akron community and we were asked if our refurbished dispenser project could be part of the local Earth Day Celebrations at our zoo and art museum. We even included the refurbished dispenser project as part of our own employee Earth Day celebration which resulted in requests for hundreds more. The idea is literally running wild. It’s running wild because sustainability is a natural part of who we are at GOJO and who we are as a community.
I realized something pretty inspiring throughout all of this. My so-called ‘separate’ personal and professional lives are deeply connected at the very heart of what matters most – a healthy and sustainable future for our children, our children’s children, and future generations to come.
Now I’m looking for YOUR ideas! Send me any ideas or photos you have featuring refurbished fixtures, appliances or even soap dispensers. We’re assembling a small book of ideas for potential display as future web page!