Trash to Treasure

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Photo credit: Merissa Mueller

From crutches to crowns, the Dump and Run brought many treasures to the basement of Leblanc. For the next few weeks Katimavik, Marie-Pier and I will be sorting through and organizing the mounds of clothing, toiletries, dishes and assorted goods in order to donate them to local charities. The entire floor of the basement is covered currently in somewhat sorted piles of men’s shirts, jeans, women’s shirts, winter wear, underwear, etc. After washing and sorting, we will be contacting local charities to see what they require for donations at which point we will deliver the items.

I cannot emphasize how important this initiative is for our community. Being the Office of Sustainability, our main goal is to promote sustainable living on campus but this effort reaches beyond campus to the surrounding communities of Ottawa. Encouraging social sustainability, one of the three pillars of sustainability, is essential to our mandate.

The chain reaction involves all three components of “triple bottom line” because when people donate their items we are saving tonnes of material from being thrown into landfills which aids in environmental sustainability, people reusing these items that would not normally have access to them due to financial reasons helps them economically, and furthermore these reused items lowers the amount of consumption which in turn lowers the amount of strain on resources as well as harmful emissions that would have resulted from manufacturing processes. A really long run-on sentence was required to spit that all out but it was necessary.

Our biggest challenge or frustration rather, is the ignorance or laziness of students. Yesterday, I spent a total of six hours scrubbing pots and pans because we cannot obviously donate dirty dishes to charities. If each student that had so carelessly left behind/donated their pots took the two minutes to clean out their rice, pasta, soup, indeterminable left overs I would have been able to spend that time helping to sort clothing and box it up or some sort of more productive task.

Today, I look forward to the arrival of a dishwasher that will help with all the dishwasher safe cups, mugs, plates and utensils, making my job easier and less time-consuming.

It will get better within the next month, I am sure of it. Until then, my forearms will be sore, my hands will be prune-y and dry and I will continue to remind myself of the awesome results of my labour.

-merissa.

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