Net Zero Waste

By Melanie Stewart

Hopefully you have heard about the Med Center’s impressive new goals: Net Zero Emissions, Net Zero Water, and Net Zero Waste, all by 2030.

Net Zero Waste sounds impressive, but what does it really mean?  Ultimately we plan to divert 90% of all waste leaving campus away from the landfill.  I know what you are thinking: 90% is not “Zero Waste,” and you are technically right.  Net Zero Waste is defined as 90% being diverted with 10% remaining as some waste will always be created.

This is an ambitious goal.  Disposable single-use devices have become the norm in medical care as a means to promote patient safety.  We will not put employees or patients at risk in order to meet this goal.  However, the industry is realizing how much waste is inherent in this practice in terms of cost as well as landfill space, and we can build on the changes that are starting to happen.  Several of you have noted items or processes that could change—thank you and keep ‘em coming!

We can avoid waste by changing some of our personal habits as well. Take the easy step to recycle!  Put that pop bottle, soup can, or frozen lunch tray in the green recycling bin.  Dump any liquid and scrape out the bulk of the food—no need to rinse clean.  Flatten all grades of cardboard and place against the wall.  Check out this video to see what to recycle on campus.

Remember that reducing and reusing come before recycling.  Start with something easy: instead of getting coffee each morning in a disposable cup, bring your reusable cup.  You’ll drink fewer chemicals and keep you coffee warm longer.  Don’t underestimate the impact of a simple action repeated over time.

We also know that many of you find fun ways to reuse items at home; consider entering them in Earth Week’s RePurpose It Contest (for details, click here).  It’s free to enter, and you can win a prize as you inspire others with your great ideas.  You do not have to be a master craftsman or seamstress to win a prize; some of the best ideas are simple things that most people can do.  Check out LiveGreen’s Pinterest Page if you need inspiration.

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