Michael W. is a Proposal Manager on our Environmental Solutions team in Wrentham, MA. He’s also a Certified Sustainability Practitioner and Environmental Specialist. He has a passion for sustainability and is living our value of Environmentally Responsible in many ways. At work and at home, Michael is a leader in finding ways to be sustainable and protect the planet for future generations. In the Q&A below, Michael shares a few of the standout initiatives he is working on and his top 10 tips for living a sustainable life and adopting earth-friendly habits for 2023.
Q. Have you always been a highly sustainable person?
My passion for sustainability is rooted in my childhood, long before the concept of sustainability became the tenet for restoring our planet. I grew up hunting and fishing and, from my father and grandparents, learned the basic precepts of an ecosystem. My undergraduate degree was in wildlife and fisheries biology, a natural extension of my formative years. While in school, I did internships with a local town’s conservation commission and with the Lloyd Center for The Environment. Later, I served as a conservation commissioner for several years in my hometown.
Q. Tell us about a few of the sustainability initiatives you’ve worked on in your professional career?
I’ve been involved with three vastly different initiatives at different stages of life, each replete with its own merits to improving our Built Environment and personal significance, so my response is threefold:
- Earlier years spent as a conservation commissioner balancing the growth and sprawl of a burgeoning new suburb with the preservation of precious wetland ecosystems.
- Part of a team managing the aggregation, and destruction of thousands of tons of Montreal Protocol-regulated Ozone Depleting Substances, and where applicable, creating carbon credit market offsets.
- Current local initiatives coordinating “Circular Economy/Recycling/Reuse” efforts for this office. Our efforts include the following:
- Used shoe drives (shoutout to Kerri C., our office manager, for leading this one) – we collect, package, and ship used shoes to Nike (see photo below)
- Used toner and print cartridges – we collect, package, and return to Staples
- Compressed air cans – we have replaced these with USB-rechargeable fans, eliminating the HFC propellant and metal container (see photo below)
- Use corn-starch based, 100% biodegradable trash bags
- Setup distinct containers and signage to segregate trash from recyclables; we have a single stream dumpster supplied by Republic! (See photo below)
- We ship all our e-waste to Complete Recycling Solutions (R2 Certified) in Fall River MA. Earlier this year we collected nearly 3 cubic yards (>500 lbs) of e-waste from the two Wrentham offices!
Q. What are you most looking forward to in 2023?
Continuing and/or expanding efforts locally and in any way that the Company requests support on a regional scale. Wrentham is a small office, but our concerted efforts are quantifiable and meaningful. Scaling similar efforts throughout the Northeast (and all other regions) would undoubtedly be impactful. Also, completing the TRUE Advisor certification in January. Earlier in 2022, I completed the ENVISION SUSTAINABILITY CERTIFICATION (think “LEED” but for the Exterior Built Environment), and a 3-course sustainability Basic Practitioner certification.
Q. Our Company’s value of being Environmentally Responsible means taking action to improve our environment. What’s your top 10 list to help us live this value?
Here is a simple, straightforward top 10 list of easily implemented actions:
- Incorporate the concept of a “circular economy” into every aspect of managing your home. Virtually every “end product” of our everyday consumables can and should be recycled.
- Take advantage of your town or community’s Household Hazardous Waste collection events to manage products that aren’t suitable for recycling or landfill disposal.
- Contact local utility to perform leak assessment and follow through with simple energy-saving improvements
- Use high efficiency washing machines (saves electricity, reduces water consumption, lessens the burden on your POTW and receiving waters, and significant energy savings when drying)
- If you aren’t naturally diligent about turning off lights in unoccupied rooms, consider proximity switches.
- Evaluate the feasibility of solar power as a renewable energy source/supplement for your home.
- Use natural, organic-based cleaning products, as well as landscape and horticultural products.
- When applying lawn treatments, ensure that granules aren’t dispersed to the street gutter and wash into storm drains.
- Reduce the amount of turf area and implement Xeriscape-type landscape practices.
- Plant more perennials that attract pollinators.
Q. Any final thoughts?
Think Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The benefits of Reducing (the top of the Sustainability hierarchy) are far more profound from a global perspective but focus on your contribution (recycling) at the local level.
Recycling one ton of paper (easy for mid-size service centers) saves two barrels (90 gallons) of oil, and 4100 KW which is equivalent to the electrical demand of one midsize home for 6 months.
A big thank you to Michael for being a Sustainability Superstar!