By Tera Lessard
WSU Spokane

The key to reducing your waste is to think about the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Using this lens can help you choose items that come in recyclable or reusable packaging, or find creative ways to use what you already have instead of purchasing something new. If you are just starting your sustainability journey, try choosing just one item to become more contentious about. Small efforts have big impacts.

  1. Know what you can put in the WSU recycle bin. If you have an item that you cannot recycle on campus, but you can recycle it with the City of Spokane Recycling Service, consider bringing the item home with you. I often bring non-corrugated cardboard and #3-#7 plastics back home with me to recycle.
  2. Green your meetings. Reduce paper waste by sending meeting agendas, handouts and notes as e-documents for the group to review in advance. Or if your meeting space has a screen, put the agenda on the screen instead of providing paper copies. Lately, I’ve been challenging myself to remember everything on the agenda without a copy – a great mental exercise!
  3. Stock your workspace with reusable items. For lunches, keep items such as a plate, bowl, flatware and cloth napkins. Be a superstar and bring these items with you to potlucks for a zero waste lunch. Refillable ink pens and mechanical pencils are a great choice over disposable utensils that break and become garbage when they run out of ink. Keep a refillable water bottle at work to stay hydrated without adding plastic bottles to our landfills. When you go out for coffee, bring your own mug.
  4. Use hand dryers. Instead of using paper towels to dry your hands, try using the hot air dryer. The newer models are more efficient, quickly drying your hands while reducing their energy usage.
  5. Consider your food waste. Do you have a garden? How about houseplants? You can make your own nutrient-rich fertilizer by composting your food waste and shredded paper (which is not recyclable). I often bring food scraps like hard-boiled egg shells or apple cores back home with me to compost. For more information on how to start composting, contact the Volunteer Master Composters by email or at 509-477-6800, or Tera Lessard at