Pile of phone books in plastic bags, dumped outside entrance to apartment building. [photo]
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series written by Ann Arbor city staff on the environmental indicators used by the city of Ann Arbor in its State of Our Environment Report.
Although Matt Naud, the city’s environmental coordinator, is listed as the author of this piece, he received “a boxload of help” from Adrienne Marino, Tom McMurtrie, and Nancy Stone.
The SOE report is developed by the city’s environmental commission and designed as a citizen’s reference tool on environmental issues and as an atlas of the management strategies underway that are intended to conserve and protect our environment. The newest version of the report is organized around 10 environmental goals developed by the environmental commission and adopted by the city council in 2007. This installment focuses on responsible resource use.
All installments of the series are available here: Environmental Indicator Series.
With the closing of the 2009 holiday season, and many of us surrounded by lots of new “stuff” – including the associated boxes and packaging – and even a few of us with New Year’s resolutions to “simplify” our life in the coming new year, it seems like a good time to talk about all of the stuff we buy, use, reuse, recycle, and then throw out in Ann Arbor.
In Ann Arbor on Saturday, the visiting Hoosiers came up three points shy in a homecoming game against the University of Michigan football team. Final score: 36-33.
And at a pre-game tailgate hosted by the UM Alumni Association, a team of Student Sustainability Initiative (SSI) volunteers came up at least three coffee creamer containers shy of their goal: a “zero waste” tailgate.
Those three coffee creamer containers came from Edward J. Vander Velde – from the 50th reunion class of 1959 – who kidded the volunteers who were staffing one of the waste stations inside Oosterbaan Fieldhouse, saying, “We’re still short of perfect!”
The coffee creamers weren’t the only items that still wound up in the trash instead of the compost bins, or the paper containers, or the bottle receptacles.
But according to SSI board member Greg Buzzell, who’s studying at UM’s Erb Institute, early post-tailgate estimates are that the zero-waste effort diverted about 500 pounds of material from the landfill to the compost pile, and that the tailgate generated “really very minimal” trash.
When Ann Arbor residents leave their corrugated cardboard out (before 7 a.m.) for curbside pickup by Recycle Ann Arbor, sometimes it doesn’t disappear by the time they’ve returned home in the evening. It will be sitting in the same neat pile they left it in – with one difference. Stuck to the top of the pile will be an orange sticky note declaring: “Your corrugated cardboard wasn’t prepared properly.”