Earth Day All Month: Reducing Waste

Editor’s Note: This April we’re commemorating Earth Day each week by discussing practical ways you can make sustainable choices. Check out our tips, and give us some of yours, to help maintain a healthy Earth while saving some of your hard earned dollars.

On average Americans throw away roughly 1,500 pounds of trash per person every year.  It might shock you to know how much stuff we accumulate in a lifetime and how much of it actually goes to waste.  It is true, we can’t just stop purchasing the things we need, but we can be more conscious about making purchasing choices that will reduce the amount of material that will end up needing to be recycled or go to a landfill.

As a wine company we are acutely aware that we will produce waste because of what we do.  But we see it as our duty to reduce the amount of waste we generate by finding new and innovative ways to reuse materials and to continue being good stewards of the environment.

Waste is easily overlooked, once the trash is picked up we forget about it because we will probably never see it again.  But in reality many landfills are at or near maximum capacity, and others are filling up at unprecedented rates.  The cumulative impact of all the waste we generate is bad for the environment, our health and our wallet.

It is obvious that reducing our waste, finding new ways to reuse materials, and recycling are good environmental and economic decisions.  Take a look at some of the projects we have implemented to do our part.

  • Bulk Glass: We just recently installed a brand new, state of the art bottling line that uses bulk glass.  This makes the shipping process far more energy efficient, and significantly reduces the amount of packaging used in bottling, ultimately cutting down on unnecessary waste.
  • Packaging: All of our packaging cartons are made with over 50% recycled material; we have instituted a cork and capsule carton take back program; and, we recycle all plastics – especially the 68 miles of “label backing” that we generate each day. Additionally, we have partnered with Cork Forest Conservation Alliance, a global non-profit, in a cork re-harvest program where corks are collected by retailers, picked up by a distributor and returned for recycling.
  • Vineyard: Organic waste is reused in our start-up company, Whole Vine, where grape pumice and rachis is collected and turned it into nutritious, gluten-free flour, cookies, and culinary oil.

We have learned a lot about the importance of waste reduction, and recycling over the past few years, and our proactive measures are certainly having a positive impact on the environment and our pocketbook.  Here are a few tips from our friends over at Practically Green on how to reduce waste, and even save a few dollars.

Use Reusable Shopping Bags Regularly
Difficulty: Anyone can do it

We all use reusable bags daily like purses, computer bags and backpacks. But when it comes to shopping bags we tend to reach for paper and plastic. Americans currently throw away approximately 100 billion polyethylene plastic bags each year, accounting for 9% of the debris along U.S. coasts.

So let’s start using reusable bags – once you get started it as easy as could be. Here is an idea to help you get rid of those plastic produce bags.

Compost Kitchen Food Waste
Difficulty:A little D.I.Y.

On average food scraps make up 7% of household waste, some of which is easily composted. Food is biodegradable, but in order for it to break down in a landfill, it needs access to a basic combination of air, water, light, microbes, and enzymes that aren’t always readily available in overflowing landfills.

You can easily find a wide variety of compost bins at your local hardware store or online in all different shapes, sizes, and colors.  Once you have a bin the hard work is done, just toss your food scraps in the bin and in no time at all you will have valuable humus for your houseplants and garden.

Install Carpeting Made from Natural Materials
Difficulty: Might need a professional, but it’s worth it

Carpet covers more than 70% of the floors in homes and offices in the U.S. In 2003, 50 billion pounds of carpet were estimated to be in landfills. Traditional carpets are made from non-renewable resources, do not biodegrade in landfills, and release toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) for weeks or even months after installation.

Installing all natural carpeting like Interface that is made from renewable materials such as wool or sisal helps reduce exposure to VOCs.  Also, by using recycled content in the carpet you significantly reduce the amount virgin raw materials used during manufacturing, ultimately generating less waste. And to top it off, these carpets are not harmful to you, and will biodegrade when it is time to replace them.