Zero Waste Challenge, Librarian Style: Day 1

CAM01257-1Hello, my name is Elena and I accept the challenge. Last week GoGreen! Club here at Moraine posed a challenge to the campus community, to carry around any trash you generate during that week that you don’t or you can’t recycle. Being an environmentally minded person who avidly recycles as much as I can this intrigued me.  It got me thinking more about those items that are still part of my day but I can’t recycle.  Being a librarian who is always on the quest for facts and information, I have decided to collect  my trash for a week and try to find out what items we can’t recycle, why we can’t and if there is an alternative to that item.

So often we generate non-recyclable items but because we just throw it away, it leaves our thoughts.  It’s as if once we put that item in the trashcan and it magically disappears, poof! Sadly though, that is not the case.  The trash that I, you, your family and even the Queen of England herself produce ends up in a landfill, forever underground with the hopes that we all are satisfied with the notion “out of sight out of mind.” Personally, I stopped believing in magic long ago.

My first item for my bag is a coffee soaked paper towel.  Spills happen and since it wasn’t milk, I didn’t take the time to cry over it. Instead I ran around the office trying to find something anything to stop this slow but steady pool of caffeine from growing.  Frantically I ask a co-worker “do we have towels!?” and of course they do have towels, but the paper kind.  Paper towels that have food on them or cleaning products can not be recycled due to contamination.  The recycling process for paper involves water that would get quite gross with food waste mixed in with it.  A great example of a recyclable material that can’t be recycled is pizza boxes.

Sometimes our surroundings do not match our personal mission and we have to make do.  At home, the best solution I have found for a spill is to use old towels or t-shirt rags depending on the size.  Best solution for work?  Maybe I could have a couple cleaning rags from home ready in my desk drawer just in case.

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