Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Compost
What to Recycle and Compost | Electronics Recycling
Re-Use Depot | Reusables Drive | Green Event Guide
Mills College has a goal of Zero Waste, a whole system approach toward achieving the most efficient use of our resources. At Mills, we conserve and reuse materials first, then maximize diversion of materials from the landfill into recycling and compost systems. We also purchase recycled materials for everyday use, such as 30% post-consumer context copy paper.
According to the Zero Waste International Alliance, Zero Waste means that all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use; that communities actively use products that can be reused, recycled or composted; and to eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.
Why should Mills community members prioritize putting materials in the correct bin? When we direct our food scraps, coffee cups and food-soiled paper into the compost bin, these materials are taken to a commercial facility and turned into compost. Compost is then sold to local farms to replenish depleted soil with the nutrients and carbon that healthy plants need. Some of the fruits and vegetables from these farms are then sold to the Dining Services, closing the loop locally.
The Mills College Sustainability Center is currently piloting a bicycle compost program. Eco-Representatives spent the Fall semester collecting back of the house vegetable scraps and coffee grounds from the Tea Shop and transporting them via bicycle to the Urban Farm at Mills College for composting. The materials have spent the Spring semester composting. The compost will then be used for growing food in farm operations.
When banana peels and apple cores go into the landfill, they do not biodegrade gracefully or become a useful resource. Rather, compostables in the landfill form methane, a greenhouse gas that is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Not only does directing that bottle, can or paper into the recycling bin make the most of our resources, it also creates green jobs along the way. The Institute for Local Self Reliance reports that every additional 10,000 tons recycled translates into ten new frontline jobs and twenty-five new jobs in recycling-based manufacturing. Landfilling or incinerating those tons only creates one job.
Overall, by participating in efforts to reduce, reuse, recycle, compost and buying recycled-content products, we lessen the environmental effects of extracting virgin resources while enhancing the health of the planet, our bodies, and our communities.