Eco-awareness should coexist with health precautions

Early on in the pandemic, there was a lot of talk of the environmental benefits of isolation. Italy, for example, saw a 20% decrease in their carbon footprint. However, as the pandemic has progressed it has become clear that while the air might be cleaner in some places, there has been a big increase in waste overall. Think about it. All the disposable masks, individually packed everything, thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer and disposable wipes, and the list goes on.

Walking through the lunchrooom on the first day and seeing hundreds of plastic water bottles, boxed food, and plastic wrapped fruit was a bit of an overwhelming experience.”

Walking through the lunchroom on the first day back and seeing hundreds of plastic water bottles, boxed food, and plastic wrapped fruit was a bit of an overwhelming experience.

Walking through the lunchroom on the first day back and seeing hundreds of plastic water bottles, boxed food, and plastic wrapped fruit was a bit of an overwhelming experience. It’s a much different situation than St. Paul Academy & Summit School’s usual reusable utensils, plates, glasses, and minimal garbage. Although these precautions make sense given the severity of the pandemic and the risks taken by returning to campus, it’s hard to see SPA produce so much more garbage than normal. However, there are ways that students, faculty, and staff can make sure they’re not making more waste than they absolutely have to. Here are three semi-obvious, but extremely important, ways SPA can be kept as environmentally friendly as possible.

1. Dispose of waste properly
Thankfully, SPA has chosen compostable containers for the most part, but it doesn’t matter if they’re compostable if people are throwing them into the trash or recycling. One big way that everyone in the building can limit the amount of garbage we’re producing is making sure to put all waste in the right containers. Food containers and utensils are both compostable.
2. Bring your own water bottle
While the water fountains are off, the water bottle filling function works just fine. Taking a plastic water bottle is completely unnecessary, and a huge source of waste.
3. Only take what you’re going to eat
This one is simple. If you take more food than you’re going to eat, you’re not only wasting the food, now you’re wasting the container it comes in too.

 

Although health is the most important factor when it comes to returning to school, there is no reason that this goal and SPA’s objective of being an environmentally conscious space should not coexist.