10 Easy, Green New Year’s Resolutions!

By: Shelby Kuenzli, Digital Marketing EcoFellow

It’s a new year! As everyone is setting their goals for 2018, here are a few easy and green New Year’s resolutions that can help you make an impact on the environment!

 

 

 

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Stop Plastic Pollution at the Source. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

Plastic PollutionBy Willow Cohn, Outreach and Education EcoFellow

We use plastics in virtually every shape and form in our daily lives. It carries our drinks, holds our shampoos, and keeps our veggies fresh. According to the to the UN Environment Programme, humans are consuming resources and producing waste at a greater scale than ever before, and per capita consumption levels are projected to increase with continued development. Data indicates that during the 20th century, global material resource use rose at about twice the rate of population. Plastic is everywhere! We love it because it is waterproof, relatively cheap, durable, and versatile. Plastic makes our lives incredibly convenient, disposable, and easy, but most people rarely think about the effects it has on the environment. Unlike other materials, it never really goes away. Plastic does break down, but in a landfill it takes up to 400 hundreds years; worse, it doesn’t ever become other materials, it just breaks into microscopic pieces of plastic that are still non-biodegradable. From there, plastic fragments most often find their way into the oceans. But it’s not just the end of a plastic’s life cycle we need to worry about. When plastic is produced, it’s made from toxic materials such as benzene and vinyl hydrochloride. These chemicals are known to cause cancer, and the manufacturing byproducts contaminate our air and soil.

So what can you do?

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The Monster in our Closet: Fast Fashion & Textile Waste on the Rise

By Morgan O’Connor, Marketing & High Performance Building Fellow

Warehouse full, floor to ceiling with old clothing

In 1980 the EPA found the U.S. to have generated roughly 5 billion pounds of textile waste in the public waste stream. That amount has since spiked to 32.44 billion pounds in 2014. This is post-consumer textile waste, which includes products such as clothing, footwear, fashion accessories, towels, bedding, and drapery that have already been purchased. 95% of all textiles have the potential to be reused or recycled, but currently they are recycled at a rate of only 15%. This disproportionate rate is thought to be caused by lack of awareness among individuals, as this is only municipal solid waste, meaning what people are throwing away in their public waste stream, not waste generated by businesses, including the fashion industry. So this problem largely lies with us – the individual.

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Meet Lorenzo Macaluso

By Shelby Kuenzli, Digital Marketing EcoFellow and Morgan O’Connor, Marketing and High Performance Building EcoFellow

Meet Lorenzo Macaluso

Lorenzo Macaluso

Lorenzo Macaluso, Director of Client Services

The Center for EcoTechnology may be a local non-profit, but our programs and knowledge extend across the country. Lorenzo Macaluso is a national expert in all things waste. This fall he’s going to be speaking from the east coast to the west coast about donation, policy and technical assistance, funding, composting management, and food donation. We’re grateful to have Lorenzo at CET and wanted to share more about him!

Lorenzo Macaluso is the Director of Client Services here at the Center for EcoTechnology. He has been with CET for 17 years and throughout that time he has taken on several integral roles. He provides technical assistance, training, and outreach to businesses and institutions to help improve environmental performance. He also aids CET in finding new opportunities to expand our work and increase our impact through saving energy and reducing waste.

Lorenzo developed a toolkit for restaurants and schools interested in establishing composting programs. He also helped develop and oversee the implementation of CET’s Green Business Services, which provides waste diversion and energy efficiency information, as well as technical assistance to a wide range of organizations throughout Massachusetts and New England. Outside of CET Lorenzo also serves on the MassDEP Organics Subcommittee and was part of the DEP’s Mercury Management Act work group.

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When Beauty Standards Apply to Food

By Morgan O’Connor, Marketing & High Performance Building EcoFellow

Roughly 133 billion pounds of food is wasted every year in the U.S, and 6 billion of that is produce lost before harvesting or selling. This subset of food waste is attributed primarily to aesthetics, meaning the produce was too small, too large, off-colored, scarred, misshapen, etc.

6 billion pounds may not seem like very much in comparison to all of the food that is lost, but when you consider the resources – water, fertilizer, pesticides, fuel, and space – that are expended on food that is never eaten, it leaves quite the negative impact.

Aesthetic standards prioritize uniformity, targeting the consumers’ narrow view of what their produce should look like, but these images in our heads have little to do with flavor or nutritional value. We have to rethink what our food should look like and embrace their natural peculiarities.

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