Reducing Waste

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at a Campus Waste Audit: Part 1 The Set Up

On a crisp Tuesday morning in February, I was able to join Anya Dale and Alison Richardson up on north campus to witness part of the large-scale waste audit they have been organizing. A waste audit is a way to determine how much waste is being produced, what types of waste are being generated, and which bins—landfill, recycling, or compost—people … Read More

Sustainability Throughout History: Learning from the Past

Recently, I went to the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology to complete their “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” self-guided tour. The Kelsey is a short walk down State Street, just past the Union, and is a great place to explore on a dreary winter day. Taking the tour was relatively easy, as admission to the museum is free and the tour pamphlets are … Read More

Another Step Toward Planetary Health: Single Use Bottled Water Plastics To Be Replaced

Key takeaways: U-M Health’s commitment to environmentally friendly operations and a series of agreements with vendors are leading to a major sustainability improvement: the replacement of single-use plastic water bottles. On Feb. 12, water sold at U-M Health will be in new containers. No longer will plastic bottles be used, but in their place will be aluminum bottles and boxed … Read More

An Interview with U-M Senior Vic Fong, Returnables Shelves Project Lead

I tend to think of myself as someone who’s in-the-know when it comes to sustainability efforts going on across U-M, but one project I had, up until recently, not known much about is the effort to pilot returnables shelves on landfill bins. I had seen the shelves popping up in a few different locations across Central Campus and wanted to … Read More

Why Composting Shouldn’t Be Your First Choice

Down-pointing triangle with the words Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot listed in descending order from top to bottom.

I spend a lot of my time talking to people about composting. It is a vital part of the University of Michigan’s strategy to reduce waste sent to landfill and ensure nutrients get cycled back to rebuild our soils. It supports healthy ecosystems and food growth. However, I think all this talk about composting can overshadow the actions we can … Read More

Visiting the Ann Arbor WeCare Compost Site

I recently had the opportunity to tag along with Nicole Berg, a program manager with the Office of Campus Sustainability (OCS), on one of her routine compost site contamination checks. During this check, we were able to visit the WeCare compost site where all of the compost from the university (and the city of Ann Arbor!) is disposed. To be … Read More

Reduce, Reuse, THEN Recycle

bales of recyclables at our material recovery facility

In elementary or middle school, you may have learned about the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. A lot of attention is given to recycling in order to reduce carbon emissions and conserve natural resources; however, there are still significant environmental costs associated with recycling. For example, recycling trucks that pick up curbside recycling use fossil fuels, and a lot … Read More

Reducing Printing at Michigan Medicine

paper waste

Recently, Michigan Medicine switched to paperless After Visit Summaries (AVS). While this decision was made as a cost-saving effort, a positive side-effect is that this is going to save a lot of paper. Rough estimates indicate that this could reduce printing by up to 493,000 sheets of paper a year. What does reducing 493,000 sheets of paper really mean? The … Read More