Sustainable Solutions 2/17/11

Hello! Each week I will present one basic sustainable practice. Some will only serve as reminders and some might be methods that you and I have never even considered! The goal of my column is to re-emphasize the sustainable efforts that have been made in the past by many members of the SUNY New Paltz community. With the help of environmentally-friendly friends and experts, I hope to provide tips and sources toward becoming better friends with our earth. So, let’s begin!

Sustainable solution #1:

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

“Reducing and recycling are critical pieces of decreasing waste and increasing sustainability. All of these methods work to lessen the amount of waste, which in turn saves energy, prevents pollution and conserves natural resources. Practicing the three R’s can lead to the fourth R- rethinking.” -Recycling Coordinator Lauren Brois.

Reduce, Reuse: Even though recycling is highly encouraged and a great habit to have, we must not lose sight of the importance of the first two R’s. The best way to help our environment is by reducing our consumption levels altogether, by throwing away less and preventing waste. But, of course we sometimes need some things, so reusing products is extremely important too. We can repair, give away or reuse in different ways.

1. Think before you print. Unless you really need to have a physical copy of something, avoid printing it and read from the computer screen. Be sure to print double-sided pages!

2. Instead of buying new notebooks each semester, try to use old ones that still have blank pages. And be sure to write on both sides of each page, please.

3. Instead of using plastic or paper bags to carry your lunch while you’re on campus, get a lunch bag or just throw it in your backpack. Also, instead of getting plastic Ziploc bags, invest in reusable Tupperware for sandwiches and snacks!

4. Water! Instead of buying plastic bottles, buy a reusable water bottle that you can take to campus every day and fill up whenever you want. You can even use old jars.

5. Instead of taking home plastic bags every time you go shopping, invest in a few tote bags that you can take to the market each week. If you forget your tote bags, reuse plastic bags for bathroom or bedroom trash bins.

6. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Instead of throwing out your clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, go to local centers that take donations, like The Salvation Army or Family of New Paltz. Somebody else might get some use out of it. And when it’s warm out, consider having a yard sale or a clothes swapping party/session!

7. Get creative with materials! Use old newspaper as gift wrapping paper.

8. Avoid using disposable products like cups and plates.

9. Avoid buying heavily packaged products.

Recycle: Recycling is the last step in the hierarchy of the three R’s. As defined by the Environmental Task Force: “Recycling means taking a product or material at the end of its useful life and turning it into a usable raw material to make another product.” New Paltz recycles on and off campus. Try to buy products that are recyclable.

For what you can recycle in SUNY New Paltz:

For what you can recycle off-campus: A brochure for what New Paltz recycles can be found on the Town of New Paltz website.