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Sustainability in the News

Good News from World Clean-Up Day

Monday, October 4, 2021  by qrelihan

   Last Thursday I went out in my neighborhood with a trash bag and a pair of gloves to pick up trash.  I have always thought of my neighborhood to be very clean and did not expect to come close to filling up a full trash bag.  I was wrong. It didn't take long for the cigarette butts, face masks and Dunkin Donuts cups to add up, making my bag heavier with every street I went down.  At first seeing all the trash was discouraging, but I soon realized that majority of what I picked up could be recycled or find a second life that wasn't a brick sidewalk.  

   For instance, all the plastic coffee cups, and water bottles can be sent to a recycling facility instead of a sidewalk or landfill.  It got me thinking about access to recycling bins because trash cans are on every street corner, but recycling bins are not.  In fact, I think if there were recycling bins next to every trash can in my neighborhood, then more trash would be kept off the sidewalks and out of landfills.  I'm not saying that there wouldn't be litter, but there would be an improvement.  The same goes for our office spaces, if there is no recycling bin then no trash can be diverted from landfills, but if there is a recycling bin next to every trash can, then that much more trash will be kept out of landfills. 

   Another positive take away from my trash pick-up was finding out that I was not the only one out there picking up trash.  As I was making my way down one of the side streets in my neighborhood, I was stopped by a woman who teased me saying I was taking her job.  She then proceeded to tell me that every week she goes out with a trash bag and picks up the litter on her street.  This woman was not motivated, nor did she have any knowledge of World Clean-Up Day, she simply picked up trash because she wanted to preserve the beauty & cleanliness of her neighborhood.  It made me realize that picking up trash is easy and seeing that I bought a pack of gloves it is something I can and will continue to do.  

Below is a picture of the garbage I picked up in my neighborhood (I was only out there for an hour)

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Why Have World Clean-Up Day?

Tuesday, September 21, 2021  by qrelihan

      This past Saturday was World Clean-Up Day and although the MER Trash Scavenger Hunt will continue for the rest of the month, it is important to understand why we have a World Clean-Up Day.  According to a 2020 study by the Keep America Beautiful Organization there is a total of 50 billion pieces of litter in the US.  The top contributors to litter are cigarette butts, fast food packaging and plastic waste, all of which you would likely see walking in your local park or driving on the highway.  If every American went outside on World Clean-Up Day and picked up 152 pieces of litter than America would be litter free (Keep American Beautiful 2021). This just goes to show the positive impact that one person can have on the environment by doing something as simple as picking up trash. The standard sized household trash bag can hold 240 12 oz cans, this means that you would not have to fill an entire trash bag for the US to be litter free (New York Times 2013).  Although the offical date for World Clean-Up Day has passed it is never too late to get out in your community and pick up some trash!  

Complete the game card linked here to earn a prize by sending it along with photos to stewardship@moranenvironmental.com : MER_Scavenger_Hunt.pdf


All of the pictures below were taken on my 5 minute walk to the grocery store and all the litter pictured was subsequently disposed of properly.

Pictures Below (from left to right): PPE/face mask, cigarette butt, plastic cup and a battery


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Waste Disposal Methods

Wednesday, September 8, 2021  by qrelihan

Examples of beneficial reuse: Paint & coatings produce waste that can be used as solvents or fuel, and construction debris such as metal, glass and lumber can be reused to build smaller projects.

Examples of composting: Manure, coal ash, food scraps and lawn waste decompose naturally in the environment.

Examples of recycling: Paper products & packaging, and plastic water bottles can be sent to recycling facilities.

        According to the EPA, in 2018 paper products, food waste and plastics make up the largest percentage of waste that went to landfills (EPA 2018).  The good news is that the waste that makes up the largest percentage of landfills can easily be diverted using alternative methods. For instance, food waste can be composted, while plastic can be recycled and cardboard can be reused to serve a new purpose. While participating in World Clean-Up Day, make a mental note of the trash you are finding and ask yourself where it could have gone instead.  

*Reminder: World Clean-Up Day is September 18th and participating is as easy as picking up trash in your neighborhood*

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