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Sustainability Stories: March 2022

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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Earth Day Series- Newtown CT

Monday, March 14, 2022  by qrelihan

   This year in the weeks leading up to Earth Day, April 22nd I will be highlighting the work we do throughout the year as well as specific Earth Day clean-ups that our resource centers participate in that help to protect & preserve the environment.  The first feature is about our Newtown CT team and the clean-ups they have performed at Pequabeck River in Bristol, CT.

   The Pequabeck River Watershed Association is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to keeping the Pequabeck River clean (PRWA 2022). They host the Pequabeck River Cleanup annually and each year 5-6 Newtown personnel remove trash and litter from the banks of the Pequabuck River. In fact, General Manager Mike Barden and his team have performed in-kind services to the Pequabuck River Watershed Association to support their annual Community River Cleanup for the past 10 years.

   The team at our Newtown, CT environmental resource center leads our organization in supporting their local community.  Mike Barden and his team report that they pick-up about 1,000-2,000 lbs. of trash each April.  To put this in perspective, over the past 10 years the Newtown team has removed between 10,000 and 20,000 lbs. of trash from the Pequabeck River. 

    This year’s Community River Cleanup is on Saturday April 30th, from 8 am -12 pm in Bristol, CT.  The Newtown team cleans-up the river alongside boy scouts, girl scouts and other members of the community. Our employees are passionate about taking action to protect our waters and our climate. As a marine and environmental organization Moran is committed to doing our part to be environmental stewards, including treating every day as Earth Day.

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