Reducing Workplace Waste Committee
The committee’s first step was to examine Reston Association (RA) as a model workplace that reduces waste. Working with the RA Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) and staff, REACT documented RA’s waste reduction efforts including:
|recycling glass, plastic, cans, paper, cardboard, toner, ink cartridges, waste oil, antifreeze, and yard waste,|
|using white boards instead of flip charts when possible,|
|turning off computers, printers and copiers at night,|
|installing energy efficient light bulbs,|
|implementing Integrated Pest Management,|
|conserving water and preventing runoff with rain barrels and landscape plants requiring less water,|
|encouraging biking to work,|
|encouraging double-sided copying,|
|drinking from reusable mugs when possible,|
|keeping mailing lists current and using postcards or email rather than full mailings when possible,|
|reusing old stationery as note pads or scrap paper,|
|providing recycling at the Nature Center and rented pavilions,|
|using floats in garden plot troughs to prevent excess water use,|
|installing timers on tennis court lights and turning facility and parking lot lights off at night at pools,|
|installing bike racks at pools, neutralizing pool water before draining, and using aerators on sink faucets at pools.|
REACT, EAC and RA staff then formulated additional steps RA could take to reduce waste. Four areas were identified and promptly put into effect!
(1) A plastic bottle recycling pilot was established at the five busiest pools, saving 3 to 4 bags of plastic bottles a week from the incinerator or landfill. RA plans to expand the plastic recycling to all of the pools in the summer of 2007.
(2) Paper with a higher recycled-content is now purchased for office use.
(3) Old computers are recycled, keeping toxic waste from the landfills and incinerator. RA extended this service to members at the 2007 Earth Day Festival by providing a computer recycling collection for Turtle Wings.
(4) The RA board incorporated a provision to strive to “Increase acquisition of environmentally friendly products and services to the extent feasible; consistent with price, performance, availability; and safety” and “take into account environmental factors as early as possible in the purchasing process.”
RA’s experience will be used as an example for other workplaces in Reston. Already, two environmentally conscious companies, SHW Group and Cocke, Szpanka & Taylor, contacted us requesting more ways to reduce waste. A long-term goal for this project is to assemble a directory of environmentally conscious workplaces and their green actions.
Hazardous Waste Disposal Committee
Committee members are developing a handout that neighborhoods can use to organize their own household hazardous waste collections. They are gathering specific information on the types of waste that are considered household hazardous waste by the county. They are researching questions that neighborhoods need to consider when organizing collections and what contractors will haul household hazardous waste. The committee will also provide alternative products residents can purchase that are less hazardous to the environment.
Committee Members: Leslie Hall (chair), Sheila Todd, Joe Frye
Environmental Yard & Garden Care Committee
A very small, non-scientific, but interesting survey that REACT conducted at the Reston Association Earth Day Festival found that the majority of respondents are “very concerned” about the environmental and health effects of lawn pesticides that may be used in their neighborhood.
Committee members are developing a project that residents can use to promote environmental landscaping in their neighborhoods.
Their initial task has been to assemble a resource handout. It provides information on the potential dangers of synthetic pesticide and fertilizer use to the environment and our health. Next, methods are described that reduce the need for pesticides and fertilizers. Native plants have adapted to the area and are more resistant to pests. Healthy soil, enriched by compost, brings about healthier plants, plus composting yard and food scraps reduces waste. And while we’re recycling our yard and food scraps into compost, we can recycle our rain water with collectors such as rain barrels. This not only saves water, but helps the watershed by preventing runoff.
Committee members: Bob Mowbray, Carolyn Badila, Kevin Munroe, Ron Rubin, Mona Khalil
Drive Less, Breathe Better Committee
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, “. . . the personal use of cars and light trucks is the single most damaging consumer behavior. It is a major direct cause of greenhouse gases and many types of air pollution . . .” However, it is one of the hardest habits to break. This committee is working to make it easier, and even enjoyable. After all, it’s a direct way to prevent greenhouse gases, and it results in less air pollution, less noise pollution, less congestion, and more social contact.
A very small, non-scientific, but interesting survey that REACT conducted at the Reston Association Earth Day Festival found that residents would be more likely to take the bus or bike or walk if they were more familiar with how to ride a bus, the bus routes and schedules, the path system, or if they had a guaranteed ride home during the workday.
This committee is developing a neighborhood project to provide answers to these concerns. It will include bus and path information specific to the neighborhood.
The committee has also begun discussions with Forest Edge Elementary about taking part in the International Bus to School Day. These one-day events have been shown to encourage students to continue walking additional days during the school year.
Committee members: Steve Cerny (chair), Michelle De Cou-Landberg, Bob Simon
REACT Neighborhood Meetings
We are sometimes asked why we hold neighborhood meetings instead of simply passing out brochures and placing the information on the website so more people can access it whenever they want it.
REACT aims to reach more than the highly self-motivated people that merely need the information to act. Those residents can accomplish so much more by sharing their information with their neighbors. REACT’s mission is to organize residents in community projects so that more people become involved. This includes people who have a vague knowledge of the issue, but aren’t motivated to act until they attend a meeting and learn more. And people who aren’t initially interested, but like the social aspect of a neighborhood meeting and then find they want to learn more.
Research shows that simply providing information does not change behavior nearly as much as including encouragement from neighbors, reminders, and other minor actions to prompt behavior change.
In addition, the phrase “community building” may be overused, but it’s not overrated! Neighbors working together increases the sense of community and is often used as an indicator of a neighborhood’s overall quality of life.
And lastly, by working through our projects, we are able to evaluate our progress and make changes as needed.
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Last modified: March 2014