For Georgia manager, cleaning up the community is a team activity

Back in 2007, Melissa Freidus was bothered by how quickly trash cans around her Best Buy store in Gainesville, Georgia, were filling up with soda bottles.

One day, the solution to her garbage woes walked right through the store’s front door: a man wearing a City of Gainesville sanitation jacket.

Melissa told him she was interested in recycling and asked if he knew how she could get started. She found the right person, he told her, because he was the superintendent of solid waste for the city.

They struck a deal: She would collect the bottles, and a city worker to collect them once a week. Then he offered one more thing Melissa could do to help the environment.

“He told me he was part of Keep Hall Beautiful and that they were looking for young people, like myself, to serve on the board,” Melissa said. “Today, I’m vice president.”

Keep Hall Beautiful is a nonprofit that teaches citizens about environmental stewardship and organizes volunteer clean-ups, recycling and tree planting events.

Twelve years later, Melissa has integrated her two service worlds. She engages in at least one community event a month, and as sales manager, she has 80 employees she invites to volunteer with her.

“There’s something to be said about doing service together,” Melissa said. “We’re not just doing something together to get paid, we’re changing our community.”

Do well by doing good

Since 2007, Melissa has been on the forefront of helping Best Buy go green as she was collecting bottles from trash cans and stacking them in the car audio installation bay. Today, there are designated recycling cans in all store locations.

But as the world’s largest retailer of consumer electronics, we have a responsibility to do more. Technology is the fastest growing waste stream on the planet.

Best Buy collects more than 277 pounds of product for recycling every minute our stores are open, no matter where the products were purchased. (NOTE: We have temporarily suspended our recycling and trade-in programs in stores as we have shifted to curbside pickup only during the COVID-19 outbreak.)

“I think it’s incredible we offer so many different options to responsibly recycle things,” Melissa said. “Everyone has a box of cables they’ve had at home for 10 years. Let me take those for you and get rid of them the right way!”

With Melissa leading by example in the store and in her community, the future is looking bright.

“I’m bringing my associates to the community and the community to my associates,” Melissa said. “I feel so blessed to teach the next generation.”