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Power of Consumers

Written by Connor Sheldon, Career Track MBA 1st Yr

If you had to guess, how many times a day would you say you interact with plastic? I myself attempted what I will call a “plastic audit” yesterday. In conducting my regular, everyday tasks over the course of two hours, I interacted with plastic seventy-seven times.

Key board keys. Soap dispenser. Nalgene. Car keys. Refrigerator. Sunglasses. Toothbrush. Tupperware. iPhone case. Debit card. The list goes on for sixty-seven more items. I was not seeking out plastic; rather the list I created is the plastic I come in contact with multiple times a day without even noticing it.

Why did I undertake this audit? Well, my younger brother and I had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Bea Johnson as part of the Boise High School Sustainability Summit. Bea discussed her and her family’s journey to create a Zero Waste Home. Quite the undertaking if you ask me.

A quick aside: my little brother is currently a sophomore at Boise High School. This year, the school promoted a school-wide read, much like college campuses across the United States do every fall. The book that was selected was Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash by Edward Humes. When talking to my brother about this he told me this book has been discussed in his biology class, math class, health class, and art class. I am so impressed with the students, faculty, and staff at Boise High School. Through integrating sustainability into classroom conversations, they are catalyzing the next generation of conscious consumers.

Back to Zero Waste Home. Bea listed the five rules of creating a Zero Waste Home. In order, they are:

  1. Refuse
  2. Reduce
  3. Reuse
  4. Recycle
  5. Rot

Refuse what you do not need. Instead of taking a free pen at an event, leave it.

Reduce what you do not need. Live simply.

Reuse what you already have. There are multiple uses for every single product.

Recycle only what you cannot refuse, reduce, or reuse.

Rot is compost. If the first four R’s are followed, there should be very little for compost.

The Zero Waste Home presentation instilled in me a newfound zealousness. Currently, I am working in the realm of responsible business. Businesses should work for the good of the Triple Bottom Line (people, planet, and profit). As of now, there is movement in this space through the work of B Lab and other organizations. The area I see the greatest opportunity is in the realm of responsible consumerism. Consumers should challenge businesses to have responsible practices and should also be aware of individual impact on the Triple Bottom Line.

For example, plastic is not good for people or planet, and yet it is in practically everything consumers use on a daily basis. Additionally, paying for extra manufacturing for products that really don’t need to be wrapped in plastic eats up individual income and company profit.

I am challenging myself to become a responsible consumer and educate those around me about the benefits that exist if we all become responsible consumers.

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