Last month, at the height of our summer season, our 'Greenrock Says' described some "low impact" ways to help the environment – and probably your wallet as well: buying in bulk, increasing recycling, using less gasoline, turning down our AC and thereby reducing electricity. Did it all make sense? Did you give it a try?

This month, as we dry off from August, finish our summer vacations, and get back to school and work, let's pay particular attention to ... trash.

Eco-SchoolsFun stuff, right? Well, actually, it can be, if you let it.

Just ask students at West Pembroke Primary, Victor Scott Primary, Sandys Middle School and Bermuda College, each of which participated last year in the Eco-Schools Programme with a particular emphasis on reducing waste. Ask the students (and teachers too!) how much fun it was to learn about the problem of too much waste, and then come up with creative ways of solving the problem: reducing daily output of trash. The answers, and enthusiasm, are truly inspirational.

Elliot Grounds CleanupElliot Primary Students conducting a clean up of their schools grounds

Things like bringing your own fork, spoon, knife, plate and reusable cloth napkin for your school lunch. That alone results in an enormous reduction in wasted plastics.

Well, guess what?

That same thing can be done by the rest of us. How about wrapping up some utensils in a cloth napkin (or small hand towel or even a face cloth), and then stowing them in your purse or backpack, car glovebox or in the bike storage compartment. And when you slip off to MarketPlace or Lindo's or Miles Market for that quick and easy takeaway lunch, you can forgo their free plastic utensils. "No thanks, I brought my own!"

But wait, there's more: some of those sturdy takeaway containers can be brought home, washed and then brought back and refilled again ... and again ... and again. Maybe you buy one container on Monday and reuse it for the entire week. That's four plastic containers that you just eliminated from your week's trash output. What's that sound in the distance? It's the sound of the kids at Victor Scott, standing and applauding your efforts.

Or how about doing a test of your own? Have you ever looked at your garbage bin at the end of the week and thought how heavy it is? Okay, go find those gloves, and some ant spray if necessary, and open the bags. Take a look inside. See anything in there that could have been reused? Or donated? Or — gasp — recycled? If the kids at West Pembroke and Sandys can sort through trash, well, I'm sure you can do it too.

Students separate school trashEco-Schools Waste Audit : Students sort waste over one week into 4 different categories: paper, recyclables, compost, and waste. Students then learn about what happens to waste and brainstorm ways to reduce waste in school, sharing their ideas in school assemblies, or writing them up as reports. The audit is repeated the following term or year to measure any change. This module can also be combined with trash-free lunch initiatives and recycling initiatives.

Sometimes it's only in hindsight that things become obvious. So go ahead, take a look, and then set a goal of cutting that trash output in half, or more, by this time next month. You can do it. By buying less stuff that comes in wasteful packaging, by recycling, by reusing, by ... oh heck, you've heard it all before. No need to rattle on.

Or is there?

Because somehow we're just not getting it done the way we should. And that's because it's too hard. It's just not fun. It's a pain. It takes too much time.

Well, not according to a lot of Bermuda elementary, middle school, high school and college students. It just takes a different mindset. After a while – anywhere from two weeks to – groan – eight months – a new activity can actually become a tried and true habit. But however long it takes, the journey can be made fun. Reward yourself along the way. Set your goals and give yourself a gold star. Set up a contest with your colleagues, with your family, with your friends and neighbors. Be silly about it. But take it seriously, because the time is now.

L.A. river trash80% of marine debris is estimated to be land-sourced, like the trash pictured here in the L.A. River.Last week the California State Senate approved a measure banning single-use plastic bags from grocery and pharmacy stores by next year. And one of the reasons the bill passed was that Californians found that 80% of the marine waste along their coastline was in the form of discarded, single-use plastics. Bags, cups, straws. Guess what keeps washing up along our shores here in Bermuda? Oh boy you're catching on here ... If you said plastics, you get another gold star. See how we can make this fun?

But to really see it all, what about joining in on one of Keep Bermuda Beautiful's monthly clean-up efforts? Each month, on a Saturday morning, the host and organiser KBB along with support from their Community Partners W & E and the Parks Department, organises and hosts a clean-up effort.

KBB's next clean-up is the EY Bermuda Coastal Clean-up on September 20, where participants are asked to become "citizen scientists" for the morning and not only clean up a coastal or water location, but gather global research as well by categorising and tallying each piece of litter collected. The KBB said that Bermuda is proud to participate in the global event along with 100 other countries each year. Check it out on www.kbb.bm. Why not give it a try? Again, make it fun. Bring friends along and see who can gather the most trash. Find the most interesting — or better yet — disgusting thing. Think of your bragging rights, telling everyone back home about what you helped remove from the landscape. And then you'll be talkin' trash. Go for it. We're all in this together, and there's no time to waste. Pun intended.


This article appears in our regular 'Greenrock Says...'  column in the Royal Gazette Green Pages, published on the first Thursday of each month. 

About Greenrock

According to The Footprint Network, which measures the ability of the planet to produce resources and absorb waste, our resource use and waste production is 60% more than the earth can produce or absorb annually.

This overshoot is the result of decisions that we each make every day. We seek to generate debate and to influence people to change their behaviour.We strive to be catalysts: Success for us is when we can Change the Mindset so that sustainable use of resources is included in decision-making for individuals, government or businesses. ... read more


Where to find Us

Suite 324, 48 Par-La-Ville Rd,
Hamilton HM11, Bermuda

Telephone: 1-441-747-ROCK (7625)
Email: info@greenrock.org
Website: www.greenrock.org