Intern speaks openly about efforts to green the UN

Thu, 03/02/11

Greening the Blue was recently approached by an intern who spent the summer working at UNHQ and wanted to share her experiences. Intrigued, we asked her to write an article for the website. Here it is:

Interning at the UNHQ and living in New York City posed some challenges for my usual environmental habits and resulted in a bit of a personal green crisis.

At home, I had always considered myself about average in terms of my environmental efforts, but in NYC I soon felt like a bit of green freak, carrying around Coke and Snapple bottles for days in search of an appropriate bin.

And as I come from a country where every bin has at least four different recycling options, I was truly surprised to find that there were few recycling facilities in my work building. And nothing near my office.

I was also astonished by how some of the behaviours I considered less than desirable were the norm, such as the excessive amount of printed materials we would supply at meetings. Most of which would go straight in the trash mere hours later.

After a while did I however start to realise that there were many people wanting the UNHQ to have a greener profile, and that there were departments with a strong environmental focus.

I was however uncertain of how to turn things around in my unit, where even paper recycling seemed hard to accomplish. After all, I was an intern with little influencing power.

I was therefore excited when all interns were invited to an info meeting about Greening the Blue. A meeting I left armed with stickers reminding people to print double-sided and to turn off the lights when leaving a vacant room.

But perhaps more importantly, I left that meeting assured that someone was addressing the problem. And that I could be a part of the solution.

Back in the office I glued the stickers to every computer and light switch I dared approach. And I told people to check out this funky webpage called Greening the Blue that was so unlike any other UN webpage.

My enthusiasm made a bit of a difference, and at least some of my co-workers got better at printing double-sided and remembering to turn off the lights. Somewhat to my surprise, I also found a few green allies.

And while I still hadn’t found a place to recycle my Snapple bottles by the time I left the UNHQ, I do feel like I have made a small contribution towards the enormous, yet incredibly important, task of greening the blue.

Categories: Staff Engagement