By: Tera Lessard
Learning & Career Specialist
WSU Spokane, Student Affairs

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a “waste-not, want-not” kind of person.  Last April, when I accepted a position at WSU, I was excited.  Of course I was excited about the job, and the innovative community I was joining, but I was also looking forward to taking advantage of alternative commuting options.  I wasn’t sure if I could be successful biking to work and back home each day, so I set a goal.  I called it my 30 Day Green Challenge.  My goal was to bike to work at least 4 days a week, for 30 days.  I wanted to give myself one day to drive in case I needed to lug large items to work, or attend mid-day appointments.  I am glad to report that I was successful with my 30 Day Green Challenge.  Beyond successful.  I found that I could be pretty creative with bringing larger items on my bike, and that most of my appointments could be scheduled within walking or biking distance of campus.  I only drove to work two days that month.


It felt good to do something good for the planet, good for my health, and something that forced me to think differently about how to accomplish a goal (like how to strap this awkwardly shaped thing to my bike, or how to make it home without getting struck by lightning).  I decided that I would continue with commuting by bicycle (and now bus), and that I would repeat the 30 Day Green Challenge by incorporating new environmentally-friendly goals each month.

I had recently been inspired by a blogger who stored a year’s worth of her garbage in a mason jar.  I wasn’t sure if I could be anywhere near as successful as she was, but it seemed a worthwhile venture to try.  During the 30 days of this challenge, I found that by simply changing how I made decisions about what I purchased, and learning to compost, I could reduce our family’s household garbage to one small paper bag each week.  We are now a fully composting household, complete with a vermicomposter (worm bin) and all.

Super cool.

So what’s next?  I want to bring my next 30 Day Green Challenge to the office.  I don’t pay much attention to the trash I create a work, but in the grand scheme, it is a part of my environmental footprint.  First-thing’s-first, I did some research on what I could recycle on campus.  Next, I spent a week tracking everything I threw away at work.  As it turns out, by simply switching to a few reusable items, and bringing my compostable items back home with me, I may be able to attain virtually zero workplace garbage.

March’s 30 Day Green Challenge: To create zero garbage at work.
Here are the disposable items I will be replacing with sustainable items:

Sustainable Item Instead Of…
Washable Rag Disposable Whiteboard Wipes
Washable Hankie Kleenex
Refillable Gel Ink Pen Disposable Pen
Refillable Mechanical Pencil Disposable Pencil
Refillable Dry Erase Markers Disposable Dry Erase Markers
Plate, Bowl, Set of Flatware Paper/Plastic Disposables
Water Bottle Plastic Bottles
Coffee Mug Paper Coffee Cups/Plastic Lids
Washable Cloth Snack Bags Plastic Ziploc Bags
Hot Air Dryer (restroom) Paper Towels


There are definitely some behaviors I will need to change, like being more conscientious about any prepared food I purchase during the workday, and replacing some of my go-to individually wrapped snacks for something that does not produce garbage.  If you would like to join me in this challenge, here is some information for how to get started: Click here for information from the EPA on reducing waste in the home, workplace, and more.

Do you have a green bin at home?  You can put food scraps, food-soiled paper, and yard waste into the green bin and the City turns it into compost.  Click here for a graphic of what can go into the green bin.

Tera Lessard is the Learning and Career Specialist with Student Affairs.  She serves alongside the members of the Sustainability Committee and the Wellness Collaborative.  She is currently enrolled in training as a Master Composter and would be glad to talk with you about her sustainability journey.  She can be reached at 358-7757 or