How Our Solid Waste Team Reduces Environmental Impacts in Their Daily Lives

Morrison Hershfield’s solid waste planners are challenged every day with finding responsible and sustainable solutions to help their clients manage solid waste. They help growing communities achieve their waste targets by finding ways to minimize waste and maximize recycling and resource recovery. Then, when the workday is done, our solid waste engineers and planners find ways to reduce impacts to the environment in their own every-day lives. 

This passionate group is committed to living a lifestyle that mirrors their profession, and is focused on helping their clients and communities achieve sustainable solutions. Read on to see some of the changes team members have made to live their lives more sustainably.

Todd Baker – Senior Engineer
Todd2 (002)Todd lives in a relatively small apartment and generates very little garbage on a weekly basis. Typically he will throw out one small bag of garbage every couple of weeks and sometimes less. "I am fortunate to live in a place where many of our waste materials can be recycled," says Todd. Trips to the grocery store are on foot and he uses reusable grocery bags for his shopping. He loves carbonated water and recently bought a Soda Stream to eliminate the need for single use plastic bottles. In his apartment he rarely turns the heat on. When he does it’s not for long and it’s only for heating small areas of the apartment. His car, which he drives very infrequently now due to the pandemic, is a hybrid Prius. He switched to Vancity a while back for his banking, which is a values-based financial cooperative in the region. Five percent of the profits from the credit card he has with them goes back into local environmental projects. 

Veronica Bartlett - Solid Waste Planner
Veronica Bartlett Photo-1“We measure our household GHG impact every year and actively look for ways to reduce it,” says Veronica. Her family sold their second vehicle and they try to live and play locally, choosing bikes as the preferred method of travel, and using the car only once every couple of weeks. Other efforts include the decision to purchase 100% renewable natural gas as her North Vancouver home’s heating source, adopting a mainly meat-free diet and volunteering as the champion for recycling in her strata. “While we try hard to minimize GHG emissions, we still have a footprint. We also offset our family emissions by purchasing BC Gold standard carbon credits.”

Riley Kieser - Solid Waste Designer
Riley_Earth Day“My fiancé and I try our best to live sustainably and reduce our waste and carbon footprint. We have a backyard composter for kitchen and yard waste, and a backyard garden to grow vegetables in the summer,” says Riley. He has focused an effort on eating plant-based food, since consuming less meat helps lower carbon emissions, conserves water and reduces deforestation. Riley also aims to reduce single use plastics by purchasing items in bulk from stores that allow bringing your own reusable containers to limit plastic waste, although he notes it has been more difficult to maintain during the pandemic.  He has found small businesses in the Edmonton area that allow for this. “Bringing reusable containers to shop in bulk requires a little more planning but is easier than people think and offers benefits like reducing your waste footprint, and supporting local small business,” he adds.  

Riley also made improvements to the energy efficiency of his home in Edmonton by upgrading insulation, windows and doors. He found ways to purchase materials for his home renovations from second-hand suppliers, like Habitat for Humanity Restore and Home Reusables. He also added solar panels to the house to further reduce its carbon footprint. He is then able to sell it back to the grid for a credit on his electricity bill. "The City is offering Edmontonians $0.40/watt towards the cost of the system, which is roughly 15% of the cost of going solar," he explains.

Emily Peets - Junior Solid Waste Designer
Emily Peets_MH Blog PhotoEmily avoids purchasing new products whenever possible. “It has never been easier to purchase previously owned items through consignment shops or social media platforms such as Facebook Marketplace,” she says. She supports companies that are making active efforts to reduce their environmental impact by using sustainable or recycled materials and non-toxic chemicals, reducing water consumption, using renewable energy resources, implementing clean supply chain practices or striving to be carbon neutral. “I am fortunate to live in North Vancouver where there are plenty of local, sustainable companies to choose from!” Emily says.

Emily reuses and repurposes household items where possible to avoid throwing them away. She reuses food packaging such as glass jars, bread bags and cardboard boxes and invests in reusable household items such as beeswax wrap, silicone bags, mesh bags and biodegradable cloths to replace single use items such as saran wrap, Ziplock bags and paper towels.

Eva Robertsson - Environmental Waste Consultant
Eva Robertsson Eva’s efforts to reduce her environmental impact go beyond simply turning the lights off when leaving the room. She enjoys sewing and uses her skills to repurpose and upcycle textiles. “I resew most of my husband’s and my clothes that are either stained or damaged into kids’ clothing.  Anything that is in good condition but longer worn is donated. Handmade clothing also seems to last way longer,” she says. Outdoors, Eva harvests rainwater for her North Vancouver vegetable and flower gardens rather than using city water from the hose.

Kudos to the solid waste team for living what they practice, and for their dedication to achieving sustainability targets for their clients, their communities and themselves!

Morrison Hershfield is a market leading, employee-owned professional engineering and management firm that has been making a difference since 1946. We deliver technically sophisticated, cost effective and sustainable infrastructure solutions across the globe.

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