03-23-2021

Reducing, Reusing, And Repurposing

My name is Brittanny, and I’m an Associate Inspector. The majority of my work is on-site to ensure and review the project aspects are completed. These reviews correlate with the client’s needs, contract documents, and specifications.

I am proud to be part of a company that values sustainability as one of its core values and is conscious of the impact our work has on the environment. As an Inspector, I value being able to contribute by reinforcing our values in providing environmental-friendly and effective solutions on our projects.

I was always an avid recycler and environmentalist, so I thought. Growing up, I was taught to consume less, optimize my resources, and save every penny I had to travel the world. I took these life lessons and have applied them both professionally and in my personal life.

The key to creating a sustainable planet is not necessarily to develop solutions that result in new problems but to prevent the issues from happening in the first place!

I enjoy working for a company that recognizes this and continues to implement numerous resource-reduction and reusing initiatives related to our buildings, vehicles, and business supplies, including eWaste. In addition, we look at ways we can implement reducing, reusing, and repurposing on the job site, whether it’s in the office or at the project itself.

Personally, I have adopted a similar approach, and it was apparent to me to spread environmental awareness in my community and beyond! At one point in my life, I had to take numerous daily medications. The frustration of having a pile-up of these #5 rigid plastics because the pharmacy would not reuse my same pill bottle, for the same medication, for me, the same person, led me to do a ton of research to find out where these could be reused. In Ohio, I found a disaster relief organization that accepted these used, cleaned prescription pill bottles as medical supplies. Next thing you know, I was melting down the single-use crayons from my restaurant job and donating them to a community resource center in a low-income area. I was cleaning and sending mascara wands to a wildlife refuge so they could be reused as brushes on tiny animals, taking egg cartons to the food bank for reuse, and collecting the 4L outer milk bags to organizations that make milk bag mats for the homeless. The list kept expanding into my own “Items to Keep Out of The Landfill” initiative.

Sure enough, that’s how Earthub blossomed!

While I realize that the initiative is only a band-aid solution, it is still a tactic to get people thinking about what they are throwing out on a daily basis. Some things are unavoidable; we grow up drinking out of cartons, buying eggs in containers, using makeup products – that’s life. But what I have done is created a way to divert them from the landfill.

There are negativities associated with this band-aid solution, though. Some of the items are shipped elsewhere or require specific packing standards that use other plastic. The prescription pill bottles are shipped in bulk from each city; there is a volunteer with a drop-off location, requiring the use of transportation emissions. In addition to this, the pill bottles are to be sorted and packaged in new zip lock bags to be considered as medical supplies. Although not ideal circumstances, we are certainly taking a step in the right direction.

With Earthub, I now have 43 drop-off locations in Canada and two in the U.S. To date, there have been 4224 pill bottles reused! Another shipment of about 1500 pill bottles will be happening in the next few weeks with collections from Ottawa, Kingston, Cornwall, and London in Canada.

I feel that many people looking to become more environmentally friendly don’t know where to start. Perhaps it’s the ‘engineering brain’ in me, but I want to make sure people understand the scientific facts behind everything in the environmental world is of utmost importance. Many people think that since they recycle, they are environmentally friendly. Many don’t understand that compost is not the same as a landfill. Demonstrating and teaching these aspects are crucial to get people on board and do better, which ultimately means refusing and reducing.

As I continue to spread environmental awareness on and off the job, I will never stop educating myself and others about what we can do, collectively, to save the planet!

About The Author

Brittanny pursued her civil engineering degree at the University of Ottawa with a high interest in bridges. She went to Algonquin College for her civil engineering technologist diploma and obtained her C.E.T. designation through her work experience. Brittanny joined Parsons last August, while in the previous year of her civil engineering degree. With graduation around the corner, she is looking forward to being a part of sustainable design and infrastructure in her future career. When she’s not studying for school or working, she’s researching and implementing ways to keep the world sustainable through Earthub. She is proud that Earthub won Ottawa’s Best Green Initiative in the 2021 Faces Magazine Awards.

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