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Sustainability Spotlight: Waste Management

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November 18th 2011

By Najaha Musse, Sustainability Intern

At one point or another, many of us have seen or heard the phrase Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, a common mantra frequently communicatedby waste management organizations in an effort to curb many negative environmental impacts of solid waste. To better implement many of the concepts involved in the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle concept, it’s essential to understand the tenets of waste management. Waste management, as practiced in the United States, involves the collection, transport and processing of waste materials from residential, business, and industrial sites. Considering the amount of waste generated in our country, waste management companies, subsidiaries of waste management Inc., provide invaluable services to combat our growing trash problems. For instance, many residents benefit from the convenience of curbside pick-up of solid household waste materials.

In a 2009 survey, Environmental practices inventory: 2009 survey of MN grocers, collaborative effort by The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the University of Minnesota’s Food Industry Center (TFIC), and the Minnesota Grocers Association (MGA) assessed the implementation of reduce, reuse, recycle concept through proper management of the waste generated from foods at many MN grocers.

In San Francisco, the Zoo Doo composting initiative is finding it’s way into the waste management practices of the San Francisco Zoo. Instead of dumping animals’ fecal waste, Zoo Doo composting is an innovative approach to marketing animal manure to benefit our environment. Manure from local zoos is sold to gardeners, demonstrating the numerous advantages of animal manure as an organic fertilizer.

 Waste Management practices are critical to understanding our environmental impacts. Bringing awareness in-home, in the classrooms, and at work is one way to begin implementing smart waste management approaches. Check out the following classroom resources to get started:

1.      Clean Your Plate- In this lesson, students consider food waste and create proposals to present to school officials about strategies that their school community can take to cut down on food waste.

2.      Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage- a short film that explores the history and politics of garbage, how our mountains of garbage get bigger each year, and the issues regarding recycling today.

3.      Inspiration Green- This video highlights recycling efforts of Canadians through a flash mob style video where a woman picks up a plastic bottle sitting right next to a recycling container in a mall and the people in the mall go nuts. Great intro video into waste/recycling lessons.

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