Local leaders share ideas on sustainability
In two workshops during the Spokane Compassion Games' Earth and Spirit Festival, speakers reflected on local sustainability issues and interfaith approaches to stewarding the earth.
Speakers in the first workshop—Jule Schultz of Spokane Riverkeeper, Josh Hechtman of ReProduce 81 and Kristine Major of Spokane's Regional Solid Waste Disposal Department—offered ideas for people to help the community live in healthier, more sustainable ways.
Jule, a marine biologist who works on water quality and nonpoint pollution (from rain or snow runoff) in the Spokane River watershed, reported that local water conservation measures will preserve summertime flows in the Spokane River, as the Aquifer provides a majority of flow to the river during the summer months.
"In addition, the city's work to reduce stormwater pollution will affect the largest source of pollution in the river," he said.
"Water conservation is also critical for preserving summer flows in the river," Jule said, also reporting on the work of 475 volunteers recently picking up 15,220 pounds of litter from the river.
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Josh, a Lewis and Clark High School student, founded ReProduce 81 to find ways for Spokane Public Schools to reduce food waste in half by 2030.
He believes increasing community awareness will reduce food waste and eradicate hunger. He said food waste in schools is 60 percent vegetables and 40 percent fruit. He also said that waste produces methane in landfills, contributing to global warming.
ReProduce 81, a project of Spokane Edible Tree where Josh worked last summer, has had some effect:
• Schools are working on finding ways to reuse, recycle, recover or dispose of food.
• To recover food, his school has eight bins where students can put food they won't eat. That food goes to food pantries.
• Josh and the director of nutrition services at Spokane Public Schools created an educational video.
• He and other students plan to go to Olympia this year to lobby for bills to reduce food waste.
• ReProduce 81 has 40 members and aims to have 150 by 2020.
"Our goal is for three high schools, three middle schools and three grade schools to collect and recover 3,000 pounds of food by the end of the year," Josh said.
Kristine, solid waste education coordinator, said each person makes 4.4 pounds of trash each day, creating 1,300 to 1,500 tons of garbage each day in Spokane County. Most goes to the Waste to Energy Plant, which for 26 years has incinerated it to recover energy.
"Food waste does not burn," she said. "The best way to deal with garbage is to make less of it. The region also works to reduce, recycle and compost waste.
Single stream recycling diverts 50 percent of waste to recycling and compost. For recycling to be effective, people need to know what to put in each bin.
Kristine listed what's accepted in the blue bins for recycling:
• Items must be clean. Recycling sorters have found dirty diapers.
• Glass bottles now go to the landfill as beneficial cover until markets change.
• Metal—tin and aluminum—is accepted, but should be rinsed and not include lids.
• Paper should be clean and dry,.
• Plastic jugs, bottles and tubs are accepted, but not lids, Styrofoam or plastic bags.
• Food scraps and food-soiled paper go with mixed yard and food waste in the green bins.
"Why should we care? Clean air, land and water are dwindling resources. Caring about the environment is a social justice issue, as well as a resource issue. Children make us care," Kristine said, "and that is always a great reason."
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, November, 2018