LIVE: Gail Wilson Giarratano

The Tao of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

We all care about something. But where would you go to see the most care?

Inside the recycle dumpster. It is much more than the place to throw out your old paper plastic and aluminum.

It’s a container of wisdom and acts of extraordinary care.

Recycling is an act of caring.

Gail started a recycle collecting business and she found herself standing waist deep in a recycle dumpster. It’s filled with old soggy wet cardboard and an assortment of critters. She was humiliated. What if somebody saw her?

Why am I doing this? She thought. Then she heard her own voice answer the question: “I am doing this because people really care.”

Something mysterious happens in the workplace environment when you have someone who is really passionate about recycling. There was no work-related reason that any of the people we talked to sought us out. But, they are the ones calling around and requesting quotes. Their reason? They believe recycling is really important and they want to recycle at work.

They really cared. They were compelled to take action.

If the workplace environment had no recycle program in place these were the same individuals who would stand up to the plate and do the recycling options themselves. Their actions weren’t really acknowledged and that didn’t matter. They believed this action would have a great impact on the world so they would take this action day after day after day.

What makes any of us care deeply about anything at all?

The Dao!

The Tao is an empty vessel; it is used, but never filled.
Oh, unfathomable source of ten thousand things!


There is a dual philosophy between the core human value of the caring we extend to each other, as equivalent to the care we extend to the earth. We can heal the earth if we can achieve this balance.

Recycling is just an example. Think of all the opportunities for acts of selfless caring that exist.



Gail Wilson-Giarratano, Executive Director & VP of City Year, Columbia. City Year partners with public schools in high-need communities across the U.S. and international affiliates. AmeriCorps members provide research-based student, classroom and school wide support to help students stay in school and on track to graduate.
In addition to her nonprofit work, Gail is owner of Anchor Shred & Recycle Co. She holds a BA in Education, an MS in Leadership and Policy and a PhD in Applied Management and Decision Sciences. She is a 2004 Schott Foundation Fellow. Her original one-woman show, “It’s Cloudy in the West” based on family history circa 1890, toured extensively. Gail has published two books for The History Press, Drink Small; The Life & Music of South Carolina’s Blues Doctor and Carolina Bluegrass; A High Lonesome History. Gail’s latest project, The Tao of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is a collection of “existentialist whimsy”.