I am super appreciate our host, City of Eugene, for working so hard on our schedule, I can’t believe how much activities we have involved in the past two weeks in Eugene!
Yes it is over-whelmed but at the same time it is so much fun and informative that I don’t want to miss single activity arranged by them.
Till now, we have visited the facilities or organisations that are working on 5R principles:
1. Refuse: Mountain Rose Herbs
Mountain Rose Herbs is a local herbs company that strives their best to achieve zero waste in their operation by refusing unnecessary waste, reducing material waste, reusing post-consumer waste and thorough recycling programs.
When entering their production line, visitors are required to put on disposables hair nets. I forgot to bring mine from my home so have to take one. Luckily enough, they also subscribe Zero Waste Box from Terra Cycle. Basically subscriber needs to pay high monthly rent (depends on the items you want to recycle) and the recycling company will help to recycle those items which is commonly not recyclable around the globe. For this box, they pay about 160USD per month.
I didn’t put mine into this bin after coming out from production, I kept it in my pocket so that I can reuse them for the next production line visit (if there is any). Don’t forget, reusing is always better than recycling!
Last but not least, they are certified Zero Waste (level: Platinum) by Zero Waste Alliance. I heard about this certification system before and will look into it for more inspiration for my organisation.
2.Reduce: Sustainability Centre
Sustainability centre has an office in the EMU of University of Oregon, they try to raise the awareness of reducing waste via organising eco-events (cloths swap, fix-it fair etc). The most impressive initiative they have is that they partner with Zero Waste Program, and take the dumped bottles they found in campus, clean them and put them in the office for students to take for free. This might be a small action but it reminds people of how many good stuff is being thrown away everyday, actually we can reuse them instead of buying new!
MECCA is a community project where people can donate and buy tools and scraps for their art craft project. This is different from regular thrift store, because what they are selling is mainly scraps that normally thrift store wouldn’t take. For example fabric scraps are tied according to color and sell at super cheap price. People can also use the tools provided in the store and make their projects out of scraps. I think this is a brilliant idea, often people lose their ability to create new things because they don’t have the access to tools and materials, MECCA saves waste from landfill and make ppl to reuse them!
4.Recycle: Zero Waste Program
Zero Waste Program has done amazing job on reducing University of Oregon campus waste. By educating student, setting up zero waste stop (recycling bins + compost bins) everywhere in the school, they have successfully reduced the whole campus waste into half. Most of these waste is being sent to recycle or compost. However, due to recent China ban on foreign plastic waste, the plastic type they accept for recycling is becoming very limited. More plastic goes to landfill and less sent for recycling. Besides, They also facing problems of collecting too much compostable foodware which are not adding value to the compost system. They share the same mindset as me: instead of investing more on compostable or recyclable products, the solution to environment problems is reducing consumption and reusing as much as we can. Yes, throw away culture is definitely one of the root cause of this critical environment disaster. Neither recycling or composting could save the Earth unless we rethink our consumption behaviour.
The whole Eugene is doing composting, schools, supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, offices… compost bins are everywhere! This wouldn’t be possible without this company, Rexius, the composting company that takes most organic matters including garden debris and food waste for composting. The City of Eugene is doing pilot project at 1500 household in different area, these households can now mix their food scraps with garden debris, and then they will be sent to Rexius for decompose. They aim to expand this project to whole city, by that time they could save tons and tons of waste being sent to landfill each year!
I didn’t name all of the places that we visited in the past 2 weeks, but each of them definitely helping me to build up a bigger picture of the sustainability plan for this city. Now we have collected the pieces of Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot, next week we will be visiting landfill, which is the last piece of the whole waste chain. Anything we couldn’t refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and rot will be sent to here, how is it looks like and how is the feeling of standing in front of the mountain of waste? I guess it will bring me huge sadness to see so much resources being wasted and we, as the cleverest animal on this Earth, couldn’t/didn’t save them.