Jul 192017
[et_pb_section][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text]This week's contributor is David FridlandWe’re doing something new for 2017 – tracking our recyclable and compostable materials at headquarters all year. Typically, we have done only one waste sort per year, but to better understand what we are throwing away, this year we will be doing four. In May, we did our first one of the year, and what follows is a quick snapshot of how we did and how we can do even better. Our next sort will be on Tuesday, August 1st; I hope you will join us! How did we do? Good news, we are nearing our 90% goal! During our May audit we hit a diversion rate (Recycling + Composting) of 87%. As you can see below, the majority of the material was compostable (56%.) May 2017 Waste Audit Current Diversion Rate But according to our potential, we could be all the way up above 90% if we were more careful to put the right stuff in the right bins. Check it out: May 2017 Waste Audit Potential Diversion Rate Throughout the years, we have been steadily increasing our diversion rate – 75% in 2015, 80% in 2016 – so let’s keep it up and get over our goal of 90% this year! When compared to Colorado’s diversion rate of around 19%, we are doing great. That’s why we are leaders! Contamination is always the struggle with recycling and composting, but we did a pretty good job. We saw very few wrong items. There was one aluminum can in the trash, as well as some plastic film. Make sure that we get that aluminum in the recycling always, and put any plastic bags or film (clean and dry #2 and #4) in the extra bin next to our kitchen Zero Waste station. May 2017 Waste Audit Contamination Diversion Immersion 2017 #2Come participate in the next materials audit on Tuesday, August 1st at 12:30pm on the West Side of the building. My hope is to have everyone join me for one of these, so come on out! If you want to know more you can email me at sustainabilitymaven@ecoproducts.com.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]
Jul 062016

It’s that time of year for summer picnics, get togethers and general outdoor enjoyment. Food and drink are inevitably a part of the festivities, which means many of us will default to disposables for serving because who wants to face collecting reusables to be washed later when you could be, I don’t know. . . playing volleyball or sipping margs (or both) instead?

Squadblog by Dennis BurneyThis seems like a good time to offer Eco Patriots (and anyone else who is interested) some tips on zero waste summer fun. At the end of this article is a link to another article with some good info for minimizing waste at your outdoor extravaganza.

Please note in the article they offer up biodegradable disposables as a good alternate to reusable serving ware. Of course they mean compostable. This is just a hint of the confusion and misunderstanding in our industry in general. For more info on the distinction, check out this FAQ, and read under the compostable heading.

I happen to know a place where you can pick up some compostable foodservice items for your event. Mary Hubbard can help you place your order, if you ask nicely and give her plenty of notice before you actually need them. And no, they’re not free.

As every Eco-Products sales person knows well, striving for a zero waste event means ending up with a bag of recyclables, a bag of compostables, and maybe a very tiny bag of trash. It requires some extra set up and planning, but if you have access to commercial composting and a recycling program, it’s entirely possible. Here in Boulder, we are fortunate to have both. Here are some pointers:

  1. If you use any compostable servingware, use ALL compostable servingware. It really simplifies things to be able to say “if it touched food or drink, put it in the bin marked COMPOSTABLE.” Since bottles and cans are commonly recycled, a good goal is to recycle these, then compost everything else (although you’ll have to account for the random candy bar wrapper some teenager brought in).
  2. Three bin system. You’ll want well-marked bins (boxes, trash bins) for Recycle, Compost, & Landfill. It helps to tape samples of the actual compostable items to the compost bin, and a bottle and can on the recycle bin for easy reference. Or, make some posters if you’re feeling artsy fartsy. A visibly smaller landfill bin can help send the message this is the least desirable option. Note that Eco-Cycle rents bins for reasonable rates.
  3. Find a home for all three streams. Landfill and recycling are typically easy. If you need help finding a composter, contact Eco-Cycle if you’re in the Boulder area. They coordinate zero waste events all the time. Beyond the Front Range, check out www.findacomposter.com.
  4. If your event is large enough to have staff or volunteers, have a kick-off meeting explaining the zero waste thing and the 3 bin system. Yes, you’ll have to suffer the embarrassment of talking about it and may suffer a few “to near the Boulder bubble” jokes in the process. If there are no staff or volunteers, just spread the word to your pals.
  5. Expect to spend some time being a Trash Goalie to help folks figure out what goes in what bin. It isn’t rocket science, but people really benefit from a little guidance. Recruit some of your poor friends and family who have already suffered through your endless eco-jargon filled rants to help out.
  6. Don’t be a smarty pants or make people feel guilty for not knowing what to do at the bins. This will be a great learning experience for what our sales folks are ultimately up against. Plastic and foam have reigned for a long time, a plastic looking cup, even with the green swoop, still looks like trash to most people.

Eco Patriots are Waste SavvyReally it’s not as hard as I’m making it sound. And if I can manage it with a bunch of right-wing eastern Colorado beet farmer progeny. Anyone can do it.

Read this article with more tips applicable to summer entertaining.