In most of our homes, we have a recycling bin alongside our trash can. We have learned more about what we can do to reduce our landfill waste within the last 10 years than we have ever known, and slowly—ever so slowly—the practices of reusing, recycling and, dare I say, composting, have become much more commonplace.
But how many of us think of the next step in the process of our waste—whether it’s to a landfill, recycling center or compost facility? For many of us, it’s a repellant process to imagine, to be perfectly honest, but a process we should all understand and appreciate as each and every one of us contributes to and depends upon it every day.
Jean Ponzi, green resources manager for the EarthWays Center of Missouri Botanical Garden, and resource advisor for St. Louis Regional Chamber’s Green Business Challenge, of which Standing Partnership is a proud participant, paid us a visit in early July to teach us what happens to our waste once it leaves us in her presentation, “Where is AWAY?”.
I was interested to learn more about the way the recycling industry works, especially the sorting. They can take a lot of things I have been dumping in the trash! Since the meeting, I have been even more conscious of how much STUFF I consume every day. – Cathy Dunkin
I loved that I could easily compost at home…also, that landfills are like any hazardous waste – they must be capped constantly to protect others from emissions, runoff, etc. – Kristin Gumper
Some things I didn’t think are recyclable actually are! – Lindsay Auer
Waste management is in and of itself a big business, so it needs to work efficiently for all involved. It’s why consumer awareness is key to keeping things out of landfill– where space is limited and where decomposition is slow–and why innovation is so helpful in managing waste. – Christi Dixon
Before the presentation I didn’t realize there were so many steps in the process of building a new landfill. I also didn’t realize you could make insulation from old jeans and newspapers! – Susan Zumwinkel
I was surprised to learn about how food waste produces methane at landfills. Therefore, since Jean’s presentation, I’ve been paying closer attention to the amount of fresh food I am buying at the store and ways to use the items that are nearing expiration dates. I’ve also started researching options for building my own compost bin at home. – Jessie Muir
When we choose to use a recycled product, depending on what it is, we’re using its second, fourth or maybe tenth life. By using recycled materials, we’re not only giving used products another useful life, we save primary resources and they energy it takes to develop them. And that it takes ONLY six weeks for recycled aluminum cans to make their way back to grocery store shelves. Talk about motivation! – Beth Doriani
I was really floored with the concept of thinking about the waste we create in the same way as nature manages its waste. It is so interesting to think that translating a third-grade science lesson into a viable business practice could be a key part of making waste management a sustainable process! – Ashlyn Brewer
I was struck by the level of detail that goes into preparing a landfill site. It’s not just a hole dug in the ground, it’s layer upon layer of protective coatings – concrete, sand and “light fluff” – intentionally designed to ensure that our water supply is protected from contamination. – Ashley Farley
One of the facts that remained forefront in my mind is that 80 percent of what ends up in a landfill is reusable. Eighty percent! That tells me that as much as we’ve progressed in our sustainable practices, we still have a long way to go in educating our community. Too bad not everyone can draw upon the expertise of someone like Jean Ponzi who helped our team become more conscious of where our “away” is, for which we are quite grateful.