Daily at the Sustrana office, we take recycling seriously, very seriously. Every scrap of paper, packaging, food and office waste is carefully considered before committing it to one of the five sorting bins in our kitchen area. We record the volume of our waste as part of our commitment to B Lab, and we have all been known to lift a misplaced item and engage in an impromptu moment of learning with colleagues. In our zeal to recycle, we haven’t had a regular trash pick-up in three months!
However, recycling and our other routine approaches to sustainability will pale in comparison to the level of attention that we happily bring to waste management on Tuesday, April 18 in our celebration of Sustrana’s 4th annual A Day Without Waste, part of our observance of Earth Week 2017. A full day with the goal of zero waste …. such a straightforward concept and with several years of practice we should nail this one day. And yet, the reality of zero waste becomes elusive as we approach the bigger hurdles of food and transportation and keeping our families functioning. Below are some of our thoughts on how we can walk the walk toward zero waste for ADWW and of course, beyond in the spirit of our deep caring for the Earth.
Food scraps and related packaging are a large contribution to municipal waste streams. Sustrana has been segregating office food waste for the past year, partnering with Chris Pieretti of Kitchen Harvest, Inc. to direct our food waste to their hot-composting operation in Media, PA. The advantage of their system is that all food waste (including the meat, dairy and oil-based waste that is not suggested for typical home-based composting systems) and even napkins, paper cups and plates are fair game! This year Sustrana intends to step up our commitment to waste reduction by hosting a bin large enough to accommodate contributions from staff homes as well. As part of our subscription with Kitchen Harvest, we may also use their finished compost to supplement our own container and garden plantings, and thus still gain the benefits of the food waste we directed away from our less efficient home compost bins.
Jenny Hoffman, associate developer, pledges to start walking the few miles from home on a regular basis. In addition to the veggies she has grown for years, her latest project is to grow enough calendula flowers to make a year’s worth of olive oil/beeswax/calendula salve to replace the lotions she previously purchased. Oh, and then there is the plan to siphon graywater to water those plantings. Nancy Cleveland, our fearless CEO, is reducing her purchase of packaged foods and teas as much as possible, and she is intent on creating a stable calcium supplement from the powdered eggshells her family discards. Lori Braunstein, marketing guru, has recently moved from the burbs to Philly and is shifting her diet toward veganism and her transportation toward SEPTA with the specific goal of seriously reducing her ecological footprint. To further reduce her waste for ADWW and beyond, she is going to focus on preparing big batches of food and energy bars to help her avoid purchasing packaged food for lunch and snacks when she is at the office. Melanie, business development specialist, has a grand plan to let the 17th be the day she helps her toddler forego diapers once and for all! We wish you the best with that plan Mel!
In the busyness of work at a technology start-up and life with evolving families, we are grateful for the moment in time offered by our annual celebration of A Day Without Waste. It is centering and affirming to reconnect with the ways of sustainability and our central role in moving toward that goal of living in consideration of the environment …. it is the essence of what compels us to create and nurture Sustrana.