Zero Waste Q&A

Laura Markley is a PhD student in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Syracuse University. Previously, she attended Eastern Connecticut State University for her BS and Lehigh University for her MS in Environmental Earth Science. Her blog focuses on her waste-free living lifestyle. On it, you can find anything from healthy recipes to tips on recycling and even research articles. The following is a Q&A with Laura about her decision to go zero-waste.

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Laura Markley. Photo from Waste-Free PhD.

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The Garbage Patch

After studying the environment at university for four years, I have written over 60 blog posts on environmental issues, formulated a personal memoir on my life as an environmentalist, and maintained a semi-annual environmental news page. Nevertheless, I still haven’t done everything in my power to end environmental issues.

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Graphic from Clean Water Action.

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Greenwashing

All Natural. Organic. Eco-friendly. Green. Farm Fresh. These are the sexy buzzwords that draw us in to products that unscrupulously exploit our desire to go green. The FDA doesn’t regulate these terms, and they are often nothing more than just words. “Green” products contain the color green on the packaging. “Farm fresh” covers essentially any meat or dairy product. “Natural” is more of a sentiment than a descriptor. And just to give you a sense of the word “organic”, Dichloromethane is an organic compound and is toxic. I definitely wouldn’t want that in my salad. So then, how should caring consumers discern the environmentally-sound eggs from the chemical-ridden cosmetics?

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Comic from SlideShare.

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Echoing Green

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The founder of Village Energy Limited, photo from Ashoka Visionary Program.

Echoing Green is a non-profit organization that provides support to entrepreneurs with solutions to social issues worldwide. Once an entrepreneur presents their idea, they are granted 90 thousand dollars to start their business. Financial advisers and other professionals support each business as they take off with their innovations. I chose to cover three such innovations and their creators on the blog today because I find non-profits essential to humanity. Sometimes it gets discouraging to think about how much financial support is needed to start a business. With Echoing Green, those issues are taken care of and inventors are allowed to do what they do best. They are free to create.

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Product Life

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Bookcase made from old skateboards from Boredpanda.

When trends die, where do they go? You may be surprised to find that junk can go in more places than just the trash. In fact, there are five possibilities:

  1. Landfill
  2. Combustion – incineration is a popular method used in regions such as Japan but not the U.S.
  3. Recycle – recycling companies melt down certain materials so they can become new products
  4. Reuse – for example, rinsing out your starbucks cup and using it again instead of throwing it out
  5. Re-purpose – for instance, turning a broken sled into a new shelf

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Guilty Confessions

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Microbeads will be phased out of NY stores by 2019. Image from Huffington Post.

Environmentalists like to act high and mighty sometimes, like earth goddesses destined to restore the ecosystem and punish those who harm it. Labor Day Weekend I was feeling determined. I ran two miles to watch Suicide Squad at the theater, and ran back. How environmentally conscious, right? I know I seem perfect, but I have some confessions to make. Continue reading

Green Roofs

 

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A green roof photographed by InterNACHI.

The Basics

Recently I’ve been working on a project at my job – How much energy could we save if we changed our building’s roof to a green roof? Answer: I don’t know. That would require a lot of math which I don’t have the energy to calculate. But I did learn some stuff on the way to giving up. For instance: Changing up your roof adds oxygen to the air and attracts wildlife. Continue reading