BLeaflet // Sustainability Committee

Giving back to the earth. A newsletter from the Sustainability Committee.

Vol. 1, Issue 1

September 2023


Reduce first. Then Reuse. Your plastic recycling likely isn’t getting recycled.

Experts believe recycling as it exists today is not the answer to keeping plastics out of our natural environments. Understanding the effectiveness of recycling is valuable when considering the challenges facing our planet and while making consumer decisions. As a mindful consumer, you have some power to reduce the amount of waste that: • gets released as gases into the atmosphere through incineration • gets shipped to other parts of the world • ends up as litter in the planet’s environment and water bodies Bonus: Choosing durable, reusable products and minimizing excess packaging (and overall consumption) can also save you money in the long term.

Hello, Employee Owners! What do you think about when considering sustainability? You may think about the “3Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Have you ever thought about why they are listed in that order? Are all three “Rs” equally valuable? In fact, the order in which you consider to reduce/refuse, reuse, or recycle materials matters significantly! Especially since in a world of increasingly prevalent single-use plastic, the rate at which plastic is being recycled is shockingly low. When you put a plastic item in the recycling bin, it is with the hope that item will be recycled and turned into something new. However, studies show that compared to the effectiveness of recycling materials such as post-consumer paper, cardboard, and metals, plastic recycling is not proven to be an

effective solution. Plastic is not easy to recycle; it is expensive to collect, clean, and sort, and there are thousands of different types of plastics, which cannot be mixed for recycling. Global plastic production has been booming the past several decades. According to EPA data reviewed in recent studies, plastic waste generation in the US is up from 60 pounds per person per year in 1980 to a whopping 218 pounds per person in 2018. Contrastingly, the U.S. Post-Consumer Recycling Rate appears to have plateaued around the mid-1990s. So, where is all that extra plastic going? Most of the over 9 billion tons of plastic that humans have ever created still exists.

Learn more here:

1. “The Real Truth About the U.S. Plastics Recycling Rate”-The Last Beach Cleanup, May 2022. 2. “Circular Claims Fall Flat Again: 2022 Update”- Greenpeace, October 2022. 3. “Recycling plastic is practically impossible-and the problem is getting worse”-All Things Considered, NPR, October 24, 2022. https://www.npr. org/2022/10/24/1131131088/recycling-plastic-is practically-impossible-and-the-problem-is-getting-worse 4. “Why it will take more than basic recycling to cut plastic” PBS Newshour, September 26, 2018. https://www.pbs. org/newshour/show/why-it-will-take-more-than-basic recycling-to-cut-back-on-plastic

SPOTLIGHT: Take a look at some ways Sustainability Members are practicing the 3 R’s:


1. Reduce/Refuse • “Moved away from large plastic laundry jugs and use TruEarth Biodegradable Laundry Detergent Sheets.” - Heather Halotek, Committee Chair • “I use cloth wrapping paper.” - Lisa Pavano, Member • “I use a reusable water bottle for travelling. Many airports have water bottle re-fuel stations.” - Anna Hamrick, Member • “I have smart thermostats that have schedules to lower the heat and raise the AC temps when I’m not homeduring the day or on vacation.” - Sarah Costagliola, Member 2. Reuse • “Bring your own grocery bags to the store and use reusable ziplocks or bees wrap for lunches.” - Sarah Costagliola, Member • “Instead of paper towels, buy more dish towels or buy re-usable/washable paper towels. I bought some and haven’t bought paper towels in months.” - Chelsea Strunk, Co-Chair • “Buy secondhand clothing/furniture/anything, or check for free items in online community/ neighborhood groups; it’s great to donate unwanted items and give things a second life.” - Samantha Schuetz, Co-Chair Ways to reduce the influx of single-use plastics: 1. Focus on one area of your life at a time. • Toiletries (shampoo/conditioner/lotion/soap bars instead of containers, toothpaste tablets, steel safety razors, plastic-free toilet paper packaging, etc.) • Kitchen (plastic-free paper towel or reusable towels, switch to steel or ceramic pans when its time for replacement, buy pantry items in bulk & keep in reusable containers, use beeswax food wraps, use eco-friendly food storage, and non-plastic coffee makers) 2. Buy quality items with longer lifespans when shopping for clothing or products. 3. Shop from farmer’s markets or stores where produce is not wrapped in plastic. 4. Buy in bulk to reduce packaging. 5. Switch to compostable packaging. 6. Find a refillable station for household products. 7. Curb the use of paper and go digital: mail, receipts, magazines (these can have plastics too!) 3. Recycle Properly • Check what types of materials your local recycling center accepts. • Clean and sort recyclables per local center’s requirements. • Donate or recycle used electronics. Tip: It can feel overwhelming to break habits of consumer behavior all at once! Try focusing on one shift at a time. Every little lifestyle change helps create a more sustainable future...

See the EPA’s guide to think green before you shop HERE!

This message is brought to you by the Sustainability Committee - Giving Back to the Earth.

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