Amanda Woolsey (SUNY-ESF) compiled sustainable materials management strategies for used microbrewery materials including packaging (e.g., cardboard, wood pallets, aluminum, glass, and plastic) and organic byproducts of the brewing process (e.g., spent grain, yeast, and hops). Strategies included reducing waste wherever feasible, such as requesting suppliers to use less plastic wrap, as well as strategies for reuse and recycling, such as chipping broken pallets to use as landscaping mulch and sorting glass bottles by color to ensure successful recycling. These strategies and more were featured on a temporary webpage, and promoted through social media and shared directly with craft brewing professionals. Amanda also created a video case study of Saranac Brewery’s anaerobic digestion (AD) system that explains the various components and machinery of the system and how the brewery uses it to extract biogas from its organic byproducts, which is converted into electricity to power the brewery’s operations.
Anastasia Golub & Abigail Henry (Syracuse University) recognized the important role that local food pantries and emergency feeding programs play in reducing the occurrence of wasted food while also serving those facing poverty and food insecurity. To promote the sustainable management of food items and food scraps not fit for redistribution, Anastasia and Abigail created and informational flyer that communicated the benefits and opportunities for composting. The flyer featured statistics demonstrating that more than 50% of municipal solid waste (MSW) is compostable, and that between 15-20% of MSW is food scraps. The flyer also listed various composting options, such as on-site processing, partnering with local community gardens, or contracting with a local large-scale operation such as the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency. Anastasia and Abigail published their flyer in PDF format, and electronically distributed it to food pantries, emergency meal centers, and others in rural communities throughout Central New York.
Annalyssa Sikorski (SUNY-ESF) guest lectured for a Global Environment class of more than 15 students at West Genesee High School in Camillus, NY. Her presentation covered single-use plastics, going into depth about the different types of plastics that products are made from (e.g., polyethylene, polypropylene, etc.), which of these are considered recyclable by local programs, and personal source reduction strategies that can be adopted to eliminate the use of certain items, such as using reusable bags instead of single-use plastic bags when shopping. Annalyssa also helped to lead West Genesee students in a litter cleanup of the High School campus. This exercise demonstrated the types of single-use plastics that commonly escape collection, as well as directly conveyed the negative impacts these materials cause to the community in which the students live. Through initial conversations with faculty and staff, Annalyssa also introduced a proposal for reducing waste at West Genesee High School through food scraps composting, a project she intends to continue in the future.
Gabriela Wemple (SUNY-ESF) aspired to combine her interests in conservation biology and sustainable materials management, and to educate K-12 students about concepts from both areas. To accomplish this, she developed an activity in which traditional recyclables (e.g., tin cans, papers, and cardboard) could be used to construct pollinator hotels. Through this hands-on activity, she intended to convey how materials previously considered as “waste” could be repurposed for new beneficial uses, how pollinator hotels can be used to support solitary-nesting bees and local ecosystems, and how art could be used to bring both together. Gabriela compiled background information, a list of materials, and instructions for how to build the pollinator hotels, and produced a PDF guide. This guide she digitally distributed to teachers of more than 20 schools districts throughout rural NY communities. The sample pollinator hotels she created for the project were donated to family and friends to demonstrate SMM and biological conservation in their backyards.
Giselle Bookal (Syracuse University) was interested in educating K-12 students about sustainable methods for managing organic materials beyond landfilling and incineration, traditional management methods that do not allow for further use of valuable organic materials and that contribute greenhouses gases and other air pollution. Specifically, Giselle opted to educate about how composting can be instituted to replace these older waste management methods, thus creating beneficial reuse and decreasing negative environmental impacts. To deliver this information, she created a PowerPoint presentation that included statistics about organic material generation, what types of organic items can be composted, how the composting process works, the beneficial impacts of composting, and useful applications for finished compost. Her presentation was distributed to K-12 teachers throughout Central New York, and it was her hope that it would not only increase knowledge about sustainable organics management, but that it would also inspire further discussions about sustainable resource management.
Jerel Franciso & Jerry Gomez (Syracuse University) were impressed by the USDA statistic that 30-40% of food is wasted in the United States. In addition to wasted food prevention, recovery, and recycling solutions, Jerel and Jerry were interested in investigating innovative business models for converting uneaten food into salable products. Through their research they learned about a local company called Full Circle Feed, a business started by SUNY-ESF alumnus, Michael Amadori. Full Circle Feed collects leftover food from local businesses like Turning Stone Casino and then converts the uneaten food into handcrafted dog treats, which are sold at local grocery and pet stores. Jerel and Jerry saw value in raising awareness about this unique strategy that not only prevents waste, but also stimulates the local economy. To raise awareness about additional wasted food prevention strategies that individuals can adopt, Jerel and Jerry created a flyer to be distributed to residents throughout local communities.
Kellie Murphy, Celine Damide, & Kim Oswald (SUNY-ESF) coordinated and facilitated three separate community workshops to educate residents about waste reduction, reuse, and recycling. The workshops were held at local public libraries in Central New York and engaged family members of all ages. Kellie, Celine, and Kim utilized videos, facilitated discussion, and hands-on activities (e.g., litter clean-ups and crafting) to illuminate the ways in which mismanaged materials can negatively impact the environment, and how residents can effect positive change through at-home habitual changes. SMM solutions that were discussed with attendees included reducing waste by using less materials and/or by adopting reusable alternatives (e.g., reusable water bottles), reusing materials for new and creative purposes, and recycling responsibly by becoming knowledge about what is and is not accepted by local recycling programs. Kellie, Celine, and Kim also created brochures for attendees that listed zero waste tips and strategies, as well as links to additional resources.
Lena Zeebuyth & Jemila Smith (SUNY-ESF & Syracuse University) developed a project that focused on the sustainable management of textiles (e.g., clothing, sheets, towels, footwear, etc.) due to the fact that NY residents and business discard roughly 1.4 billion pounds of this material every year, even though an estimated 95% of textiles are recyclable. Lena and Jemila partnered with faculty and staff at C. Grant Grimshaw Elementary School in LaFayette, NY to organize and facilitate school-wide textile collection and redistribution events. They were inspired to do so because of the rapidity in which grade school students outgrow their clothing. Lena and Jemila placed collection bins throughout the school and distributed informational and promotional flyers to faculty, students, and parents. More than ten bags of donated textiles were collected, one third of which were redistributed to students at a free, school-based “Pop-Up Shop” event. The remaining textiles were donated to the Rescue Mission.
Lilly Umana (University of Albany) conceptualized and produced three separate public service announcement videos to raise awareness about the need for sustainable materials management. The first video focused specifically on single-use plastics, how an estimated 8 million tons of this material pollutes the world’s ocean every year causing various harms to marine wildlife, and how residents can limit their contribution to this problem by adopting reusable alternatives such as refillable water bottles. The second video creatively communicated the amount of “waste” that humans across the world produce and suggested at-home solutions, such as materials reduction, recycling, and composting. The third video challenged the idea of excessive consumerism, especially with regard to textiles, and suggested buying less, buying used, and recycling as solutions that residents can adopt. Lilly uploaded her videos to YouTube, sent the links to K-12 teachers from rural school districts surrounding Albany, NY, and encouraged them to share the PSAs with their students.
Patrick Shanahan & Paxton LaJoie (SUNY-ESF) first conducted a litter clean-up at Green Lakes State Park outside of Syracuse, NY. After one hour, they had collected a full bag of material including plastic water bottles, straws, expanded polystyrene (EPS) plates, fishing line, and more. Patrick and Paxton then partnered with faculty and staff at Newfane Middle School in Newfane, NY to educate eighth-grade students about sustainable materials management. Using items they had collected, Patrick and Paxton presented to four separate classes about the environmental and economic impacts of single-use plastic pollution, drawing connections to the natural ecosystems and water-related recreational opportunities of nearby Lake Ontario. Through facilitated discussion, students explored additional impacts of mismanaged plastics and how the widespread adoption of reusable alternatives could alleviate some of the negative impacts. By the end of lessons, many students pledged to take action by participating in local litter cleanups and by refusing certain single-use plastic items.