I've worked at this company as a software engineer for the past 2 years now. We're a medium-sized tech company based out of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Our city has an ordinance requiring all businesses to compost and recycle. I fully support this ordinance, as in addition to being a computer programmer, I'm also a staunch environmentalist.
For almost the entire time I've worked at this company, some anonymous employee(s) have been repeatedly tossing compostables and recyclables into our kitchen trash can, which sits right next to a compost bin and a recycle bin, with a giant sign posted in front of it showing what items belong in which bin.
The person/people who do this also have a nasty habit of leaving massive piles of unwashed dishes in our kitchen sink. It is not the responsibility of our coworkers or our janitorial service to clean these dishes after us and we are expected to clean after ourselves. There is even a giant sign posted over the sink requesting all employees to wash their own dishes.
I'm not the only person who is bothered by this at our office, and me and several other coworkers have voiced our concerns to our office manager about it. Our office manager has been sympathetic and has organized numerous all-staff meetings where we went over these problems, asking everyone to be more mindful and to follow the directions posted in the kitchen. Despite this, the people who do this continue doing it anyway.
For the past 2 years, I've been voluntarily digging this person's compostables and recyclables out of our trash bin and putting them in the recycling and compost. It's pretty gross. I don't enjoy doing it, but since no one else will do it, I do - for the sake of our planet. It's also against our city ordinance, and is just frankly a colossal jerk move.
I decided that instead of putting their compost and recyclables into the compost or recycling bins where they probably wouldn't even see it anyway, I'd leave them sitting on top of the bins so that the next time they step in the kitchen they'll be able to recognize their own trash and realize which bins it actually should have gone in. I started doing this about a year and a half ago.
The very next morning after I did it the first time, I saw that this person threw all the recyclables and compostables I took out of the trash the previous day back into the trash bin. I kept doing it anyway. We had several more all-staff meetings about the recycling and compost situation, and the problem persisted regardless.
Then, just the other day, I was unexpectedly called into my manager's office. He had our HR person on the phone, and she told me that she'd been getting complaints every day for a while now that I'd been taking recyclables and compostables out of the trash. She told me that the anonymous complainant claimed that they felt "offended" by my actions, and that they were now "scared" to use the kitchen because of me. The HR person was totally unsympathetic to my situation even after I explained to her that this had gone on for almost 2 years, and ordered me to not touch the bins anymore.
I don't know if it's just me, but this whole situation feels extremely bizarre to me. I don't see anything offensive or scary about what I did. I'm also pretty annoyed that someone actually went behind my back to whine to HR instead of just confronting me directly like an adult. I find what they did to be incredibly petty and childish.
Am I wrong for feeling astounded and enraged by this incident in light of all these circumstances? I really just want to put a stop to the unnecessary waste and the leaving of unwashed dishes in our sink.