Sustainable choices you can make…
In 2009, Yale produced over 6,000 tons of municipal waste. By 2012, we decreased that number to 4,624 tons. Yale has been meeting its waste reduction goals, even as it grows in size. But the progress shows that we can always do better.
Tip: Don’t let your event contribute to Yale’s waste stream. Make your event waste-free by offering reusable or compostable serving ware, requesting a composting receptacle, and using digital instead of paper materials. Learn more about organizing a waste-free event, or Green Certify your event.
Why pay money for things we just end up throwing away? Instead of paying over and over for “disposable” items, just pay once for reusable, durable items. By fixing and reusing items instead of tossing them in the trash, we make our budgets stretch much further.
Tip: Yale has just launched the Eli Surplus Exchange, a website that lets all Yale employees exchange unneeded office supplies, unopened chemicals, furniture, and lab equipment with other Yale offices, either for free or at a reduced price. Instead of throwing out your surplus, let it be useful to someone else by listing it on the Exchange.
A product isn’t just about what’s inside the box, but also the box itself. According to the EPA, about 30% of our trash is packaging. When you buy a heavily packaged item, some of your money is going straight in the trash.
Tip: Reduce unnecessary waste by bringing your own cup or bag to the store. When you can’t use your own box, avoid individually wrapped products and buy in bulk instead.
Take the Monthly Sustainability Challenge!
- Monday: Bring your own coffee mug and reusable Tupperware supplies to work today.
- Tuesday: Spring cleaning doesn't have to mean throwing things out. It may be time to organize your office—but instead of throwing away unneeded items, recycle them, donate them, or list them on the Eli Surplus Exchange.
- Wednesday: Each time you make a purchase today, choose the item with the least amount of packaging. If a package arrives for you filled with packing peanuts, don’t throw them out. Start a collection system in your workplace; each week someone else can bring the surplus packing peanuts to the UPS Store.
- Thursday: Does your workplace have a Pen Pail yet? If not, request one. If you already have one, today might be a good time to look through the pens on your desk and toss the ones that don’t work anymore into the Pen Pail.
- Friday: Do a quick check of your workplace today. Is there a clear place to dispose of electronics? Is there a convenient recycling bin? Are reusable cups and plates available? If not, make it happen. Make sure the environment of your office makes it easy to go waste-free.
Mixed paper, cans, bottles, and cardboard:
With Yale’s Single Stream Recycling system, all recyclables can go into the same bin for collection. You don’t need to separate cardboard, plastic, and paper—just make sure containers are not filled with liquid or food. Empty out cardboard boxes and place broken down boxes next to recycling bins. To learn more about what can and can’t be recycled, consult the Single Stream Recycling website.
Unneeded office supplies, unopened chemicals, furniture, or lab equipment:
Yale’s new Eli Surplus Exchange Program reduces procurement costs and minimizes waste by allowing for the easy recycling of the University’s resources. Any Yale employee can list or purchase, sell, or exchange surplus supplies on the exchange. Items can be listed for free or for a reduced price.
Pens, mechanical pencils, markers, and caps:
The Office of Sustainability can assist your office in setting up a Pen Pail—a collection bin where you can drop off defunct writing implements. For each pen, mechanical pencil, or marker that Yale collects, Terracycle donates two cents to The United Way of Greater New Haven. To get started, check out the Pen Pail website.
Fill out a form to request a chemical waste pick-up from Yale Environmental Health and Safety. To learn more about how to handle your hazardous waste, go to the Yale EHS’s waste page.
Yale Environmental Health and Safety recycles all used electronics that are classified as “Universal Waste.” This includes computers and their accessories, fax and copy machines, phones, cell phones, and certain types of batteries. All you need to do is request a Universal Waste pick up.
Plastic shopping bags:
Plastic shopping bags are recyclable, but can’t be processed with the single-stream materials. Collect plastic bags and take them to Stop & Shop or your local grocery store to be recycled.
Bring your extra packing peanuts to the UPS Store to ensure that they are reused instead of being thrown out. You can also sell packing materials on eBay, give them away on Freecycle, or use The Peanut Hotline to find other drop-off sites for spare packaging fill.
Consult the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Management Guide for Those Not-So-Common Household Items to learn about the proper disposal of over eighty different products, including art supplies, clean bricks, corks, holiday lighting, satellite dishes, tires, wrappers, and yoga mats.
(more campaign posters are available here)