Talking Trash

Earth Day and San Diego office trash

San Diego is one of the most proactive cities in the nation in addressing trash accumulation and producing environmental impact studies. Our diverse and fragile coastal ecosystem requires governmental stewardship as well as civic support and action. The range of federal programs, financial support, educational resources, information and facilities are abundant, including over 50 recycling centers in just the city of San Diego alone. With Earth Day, April 22nd, we should all be thinking of how far we have come since the first Earth Day in 1970. Earth Day should be a celebration of success, sharing of resources and year marker of improvement, like a New Year’s resolution for being greener. Reducing our carbon footprint is something we take seriously in California, in both the business and residential sectors. A new State law requires all condominium and apartment complexes with 5 or more units to recycle, in fact in San Diego the City Ordinance also “requires recycling at all single-family homes; all apartments and condominiums serviced by the City; and all privately serviced businesses, commercial/institutional facilities, apartments, and condominiums generating four or more cubic yards of trash per week.”

We all know that the more people there are the more trash a city or populace generates. Doing some math, the population in San Diego is projected to be approximately 3,285,000 in the year 2013, and the amount of trash each person produces annually is 1.5 tons of solid waste, which is a scary almost 5 million tons of trash by the end of the year! As a business or corporate office the collective output is considerably more than an apartment complex in most cases, yet there are more opportunities to recycle the types of materials used in this setting. By increasing recycling opportunities you can directly reduce the amount of waste in most cases by 3 times. According to the EPA who estimates that over 75% of solid waste in landfills is recyclable, only 30% annually is recycled. The Environmental Services Department of San Diego enforces all (any size as of January 2010) office buildings to implement, enforce, and regulate comprehensive recycling services and yearly educational requirements.

Everywhere you go it seems, thankfully, there are recycling bins, but we can always do more than just recycle. As the mantra of our generation states, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”, so what are you doing about reduction? The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year, and the United States consumes 30% of the world’s paper (at less than 5% of the global population), this is a great place to start in your corporate office building. An increasing number of corporate office developers and management firms have established “green teams” and environmental task forces. Taking advantage of technology, government and community resources there are fewer reasons for us to rely on wasteful practices. From energy conservation, cloud technology, recycling, continuous education and doing our part at work and play we can reduce our carbon footprint and keep San Diego “America’s Finest City”. Start by analyzing your impact using the EPA’s interactive Carbon Footprint calculator to determine how much you could save in usage, volume and money!

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