After an enjoyable- and green!- summer with Facilities & Services, it is time for me to say farewell! I am delighted to have had the opportunity to work with Amy and Fazeelah and to learn about how the University handles its recycling. My internship was truly a learning experience on several levels, but what struck me as the most fascinating was seeing firsthand just how much waste we generate as humans! Since 8th grade, I’ve been aware of the “pile” we all make by living our lives and how we constantly add to it everyday. However, I never really stopped and thought about the life cycle of what I throw away in the garbage or recycling containers, and how the waste doesn’t just disappear.
Shadowing Environmental Service Workers and visiting the Monroe County Waste Management Recycling Facility, I saw that someone handles the waste and machines sort the waste – there is an entire story and destination for everything we throw away, whether that be a landfill, a bale sent on a ship to China, or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. With this in mind, I’ve changed my habits by thinking about every waste item I create and how it needs to be disposed of in order to have the smallest environmental impact possible. I make sure that I take the extra step of rinsing out my recyclables and breaking down cardboard boxes, and have started to reuse glass jars from peanut butter, tahini sauce, and jams as drinking glasses or jars for homemade sauces, jams, and sauerkraut. A really simple step to reducing your waste is to remember to bring reusable bags to Wegman’s, the Public Market, or wherever you go for groceries. It’s amazing how many plastic bags you can save- they’re just being hoarded in your cabinets anyway!!
The Ted Talk by Robin Nagle regarding the waste produced in New York City really got me thinking about the problem of waste across the globe, and I highly recommend that you check it out!!
I’d like to thank Fazeelah and Pat for selecting me as the Sustainability Intern this summer and I look forward to seeing what Team Green does in the next year!
Written by Ainslee Cunningham, class of 2014