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Earth Day Series- MER

Monday, April 18, 2022  by qrelihan

 For the sixth Earth Day feature, I chose to focus on the waste transportation and disposal work that MER does.  As we approach Earth Day, I wanted to highlight the importance of proper waste transportation & disposal especially when it comes to the health & well being of the environment.

    MER is known for the Environmental Services it provides clients, such as the safe transportation of numerous waste streams.  As we approach Earth Day and make plans to participate in community clean-ups, we see the value in the proper management of waste.   This is especially true when you go to clean-up a beautiful river park and you see the garbage that is carelessly tossed on the ground, disrupting the aesthetic value of the environment.  However, MER personnel understand the importance of managing waste, specifically identifying waste streams, and making sure that it ends up in the right disposal or reuse facility. 

    This is because everyday at MER is Earth Day in the sense that it is our job to transport waste for our clients so that it ends up in the proper facility or center rather than incorrectly disposed of in the environment.  MER is licensed to transport nonhazardous and hazardous waste in every state we operate in.  All MER personnel who play a role in the management of waste is trained on how to properly handle it and are aware of what could happen if it is not handled properly. MER works with trusted transfer, storage or disposal facilities that are just as committed to responsible management of waste as we are.

    Even though it may seem simple the safe and proper transportation of waste to a transfer, storage or disposal facility is critical to the health of the environment, wildlife and people living in the surrounding communities.  For instance, improper disposal of a hazardous waste could lead to the pollution of drinking water sources for wildlife and humans which poses a potential health risk.  Or it could be that the trash has been exposed to a variety of diseases and leaving it out in the open makes the spread of disease for wildlife and humans that much easier and faster. Therefore, the responsible management of waste that MER performs daily plays a large role in maintaining the health of the environment and all life living in it.

    Not only does MER keep trash out of the environment, but they also work with clients to divert waste from landfills, when possible, to be reused, recycled, or reclaimed.  Oftentimes waste streams can have another purpose before they are brought to a final disposal facility.  The more waste that can be beneficially reused, the less waste that will end up in the environment.  MER provides the highest level of performance to clients, which means treating every day as Earth Day.

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Earth Day Series- Environmental Literacy

Monday, April 11, 2022  by qrelihan

    For the fifth installment of the Earth Day blog series, I chose to feature the importance of Environmental Literacy.  I included a link to an Environmental Literacy quiz from the Earth Day website for you to take and see what you can do to improve your environmental knowledge.

    Environmental literacy is the awareness of and concern for environmental issues, especially climate change. There are a few main themes that are tackled by environmental education such as, ecological knowledge, socio-political information, environmental issues and their affect, cognitive skills and environmentally friendly behaviors.  To put it simply it is being able to see how decisions you make will impact the community, environment, and future generations.  For example, understanding that by choosing to use a reusable water bottle rather than a single use plastic water bottle will be keep more plastic out of oceans and communities.

    However, you may be wondering why it is important to increase and expand upon your knowledge of environmental issues.  It goes back to the cliché saying of ‘knowledge is power’ because without any awareness to what is going on in the world around you it is difficult to make responsible decisions. This knowledge is often promoted in schools and at events put together by environmental NGOs. Oftentimes the target of environmental education is today's youth because they will be inheriting a world with problems that they did not create. However, it is equally as important for adults of all ages and backgrounds to learn about cimate change because it affects everyone. It is important to acknowledge that everyone’s level of environmental knowledge is going to be different, however everyone can always learn something about the environment that they did not know before. Therefore, I linked an Environmental Literacy quiz from the Earth Day website that you can take that will help you see that you know more than you think and there is always an opportunity to learn more.

Take this 2-minute quiz to see how environmental literate you are and learn ways to improve you knowledge and understanding of climate change issues:

Environmental Literacy Quiz - Earth Day

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Earth Day Series-Randolph, MA

Monday, April 4, 2022  by qrelihan

    In the 4th Earth Day blog series, I chose to feature the clean-up efforts of the Randolph office.  This year will be the third year that the Randolph office has participated in a clean-up in the community. 

     This year will be the second year that the Randolph office comes together to clean-up the river that runs near the office.  Since the river is in walking distance of the office, some employees would walk alongside it during their lunch break and noticed that there was an awful lot of trash along the river.  Therefore, it was an easy choice to make this river the site of our office Earth Day clean-up in April 2021.  Due to the amount of trash that we collected along the river last year, we think that it will be the perfect candidate for a clean-up again this year. 

    However, before there could be a river clean-up, employees from the Randolph office employees participated in a remote Earth Day clean-up.  In 2020, not even the COVID-19 pandemic could stop employees from taking some time out of their day to clean-up their neighborhoods.  This just goes to show the level of dedication & commitment to the environment and sustainability that all MER employees possess.  It is especially important to MER that we keep the places where we live and work, clean, beautiful, and healthy. 

     This is the perfect example of how an Earth Day clean-up or any clean-up throughout the year does not have to be a large, organized event to be effective and make a difference.  Whether you pick up trash with friends and family in your neighborhood or sign up for an official, organized Earth Day event you are still playing a significant role in maintaining a clean and pristine environment.  There is no such thing as a clean-up effort that is too small, because doing something is always better than doing nothing at all.

    To ensure the same level of success as the Earth Day clean-up last year we will be planning the river clean-up for the week of Earth Day, since it falls on a Friday and we know we can get more employees to participate if it is planned for earlier in the week.  A specific day and time for the river clean-up will be selected and announced soon.   If employees cannot join us on the day of the river clean-up, then we encourage them to grab a garbage bag and some gloves and pick-up trash in their neighborhood just like they did in 2020.

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Earth Day Series- Plastic Consumption Calculator

Monday, March 28, 2022  by qrelihan

      For the third feature story in the Earth Day blog series, I chose to focus on the topic on Plastic Consumption & Pollution. The official Earth Day website has a Plastic Calculator feature where you can calculate your daily, monthly and yearly plastic consumption.  I am going to include my personal results from the Plastic Calculator and then I am going to set some goals for myself to reduce my plastic consumption.  I encourage you to take two minutes and fill out the Plastic Calculator as well, as you may be surprised at how much or how little plastic you consume.  To help me reach my goals and encourage you to set some of your own I am going to include some ways that you can reduce the amount of single use plastic that you use.


      The chart on the left is what my daily consumption of plastic looks like, and the far-right column of that chart is what I am committing to reduce each day.  The chart on the right is a list of my monthly usage of plastic items however unlike the plastic I consume daily, some of the plastic I use monthly cannot be reduced. For instance, feminine products and diapers are not items that can easily be reduced and therefore will not be the focus of my reduction goals.  Instead, I am going to focus on items that can be swapped for reusable options such as using silverware to stir coffee instead of plastic stirrers.  I encourage you to use this link Plastic Calculator - Earth Day for the official Earth Day site where you can calculate your own plastic consumption and set some reasonable goals for yourself.

Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Consumption:

  1. Swap plastic shopping bags for reusable ones
  2. Skip the plastic straws when possible – instead buy your own reusable straws or encourage your favorite coffee shop to purchase compostable straws or ones made from recycled straws
  3. Rinse food containers before recycling them so that it won’t contaminate the rest of the recycling stream
  4. Shop locally for food and opt for foods that are in season in order to reduce plastic packaging needed to keep food fresh for transportation
  5. Swap plastic water bottles for reusable ones whenever you can
  6. When buying products online opt for less packaging when it is an option


Why Should You Reduce Your Plastic Consumption?

      Not only does reducing your plastic consumption mean less plastic pollution in the oceans, but it also has many other benefits for the environment as well.  For instance, plastic production requires oil and is very energy intensive, therefore the less plastic products you consume the more energy you save.  In fact, 8% of oil production goes to manufacturing plastics therefore whenever you can swap single use plastic products for reusable ones. 

      The impact that plastic consumption and pollution has on the environment is long lasting since plastic never fully breaks down.  Plastic will break into smaller pieces and remain in the environment forever since it cannot naturally be broken down.  These tiny pieces of plastic can cause more problems, especially for marine life when it gets into their food and wreaks havoc on their bodies. Not only can it get into marine life’s food, but it also has made its way into human’s diet.  For example, people that drink tap water ingest 4,000 plastic particles annually while individuals who only drink water from plastic water bottles ingest an additional 90,000 plastic particles (National Geographic 2022).  Therefore not only are single use plastic products bad for the environment but it is also bad for human health as well.  My challenge for all of you this Earth Day is to find one single use plastic product (grocery bags, water bottles, take out containers etc) and swap it for a reusable product. 

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Earth Day Series- WRI Feature

Monday, March 21, 2022  by qrelihan

    I chose to feature the work done at Water Recovery LLC (WRI) for the second of this Earth Day series because the work they do contributes to a clean and healthy environment.  On Earth Day we tend to appreciate the beauty of the environment by participating in clean-ups, however that is just one day, and it is up to those at facilities like WRI to keep the environment clean every other day of the year.  At WRI every day of the year the work they do plays an important role in keeping water safe for both human and wildlife populations. 

    WRI is a centralized wastewater treatment center and used oil recycling facility in Jacksonville Florida.   As a wastewater treatment facility, WRI takes tank cleaning wastewater, marine cleaning water, contaminated groundwater, stormwater, industrial process wastewater, petroleum contact water and sludge among other materials and treats them so that they can be safely discharged back into the local sewer system.

    WRI consistently treats industrial wastewater to exceed EPA’s stringent wastewater treatment standards.  So much so that they have been the recipient of the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) Environmental Stewardship Award multiple years in a row, they were awarded the JEA Pollution Prevention Award in 2015 and were the sole recipient of JEA Environmental Platinum Award in 2008.  Therefore, it is no surprise that WRI’s philosophy is “waste disposal made safe & simple” as they have the awards to back their work.

    In addition to treating wastewater, WRI also has the capacity to recycle materials such as used oil and contaminated fuels.  They take the recovered oil and treat it so that it can be burned for energy.  Instead of being discarded both treated wastewater and recycled used oil products are beneficially reused to serve another purpose prior to reaching its end facility.

    One capability that sets WRI apart from other wastewater treatment facilities is their solidification pit.  Waste byproduct is sent to WRI from a variety of manufacturers and this material is then used as absorbent media for the solidification pit prior to being disposed of.  This beneficial reuse opportunity allows for waste to be repurposed before it is sent to a landfill, therefore getting as much use out of the waste byproduct as possible. 

    The work at WRI is not only award winning but it contributes to a clean and healthy environment.  By exceeding the stringent standards set by the EPA for wastewater effluent WRI is demonstrating that when it comes to protecting and preserving the environment, they will go beyond what is expected of them.  They are also committed to providing manufacturers with alternative waste disposal options, which means diverting more waste from landfills.  It is important to learn about and appreciate the work that is done at centers such as WRI, because it is their efforts that allow us to enjoy our beautiful environment.

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