January 15, 2013

Every Piece Of Waste Has A Story

Originally published by Amber C. Lee in Sodexo at HCC's monthly report January 2013:

"Every Piece Of Waste Has A Story"

As you prepare for your holiday break and to come back to campus in January, think about the waste you generate in your everyday activities or when selecting your college supplies. Every piece of paper, pencil, tool, food product, or otherwise that enters your personal waste stream has a story. It is our personal responsibility to reduce our personal waste stream as much as possible, lessening the impact on our blue planet and the green in our wallet.

When choosing a new product or tool, are you thinking about how much packaging is used or if it was made with recycled materials? Can you reduce your shipping cost and the amount of packaging by combining orders? Reducing and making conscious choices with sustainability in mind is the first step in reducing your personal waste stream.

Take a look at the bottles of water the next time you’re at the store: many companies are now offering up to 50% recycled plastics or reduced bottle sizes that can then be re-used and recycled after it enters your waste stream. When you make conscious purchases, every dollar you spend is a vote to which companies continue to produce or serve our market. You have a direct impact with every purchase to encourage positive for the planet products.

How are you going to use that product or item once it’s in your personal waste stream? Will you use it once and throw it away, or can you re-use that can to plant flowers in, or fix and item when it brakes instead of purchasing the latest model. When you refuse to fix or re-use an item, you are effectively choosing to significantly shorten that item’s life span. Choose to re-use as much as possible and simply fix your broken things instead of replacing them. Just because it isn’t the newest edition or release, doesn’t mean what you have isn’t usable or donatable to someone that will use the item.

Once you have thoroughly used a product past its life span, how is that product leaving your personal waste stream? Think about the things you use and how to get the most use not only for the planet, but for your own wallet too. You create the story for every piece of waste or product that enters your life.

Let’s look at buying a cup of coffee. Did you bring your own thermos? Did you purchase from our dining areas that offer certified fair-trade coffee? Did you recycle your paper cup or use it for a second cup? Do you know if the grounds and filters are being recycled for compost? Did you get a discount on campus for using your own cup?

These are great questions to ask, however it starts with a personal commitment to sustainability. A commitment to sustainability means making conscious decisions that are good for people, the planet and the economy. When you choose sustainability, everyone wins. Discover more about the waste in your life and learn how you can make an impact by contacting Amber C. Lee.

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