Recycling at Work

For almost 2 years not, I have worked at a small shoe store on King Street. Despite the small size of the store, I never fail to be shocked by how much trash is accumulated in the small time frame we are open from 10 am to 7 pm.

Each box we have is lined with a few layers of tissue paper, and each shoe is stuffed with wads of the tissue paper. In the box, the shoes are placed and tissue is then put in the spots between the shoes so that they do not move around too much while stored on shelves. When someone buys a pair of shoes, all of this, and usually the boxes are simply throw away. I constantly think how much paper could be saved if we were to reuse this tissue paper instead of just dispose of it after every purchase. On top of boxes and tissue paper, we also have tags, packaging for accessory items, cups, napkins, and more that are thrown away each day. Each day, we throw away 2 or 3 trash bags full of paper!

With busy season coming up, this waste is only going to get worse. To combat this, I talked to my manager and we are now making an effort to recycle more. Shifts during the summer can get hectic and separating recycling can get hard, so I have made a recycling bin to place right behind the door in our back room, so that is easily accessible from the sales floor. I hope our employees begin to get in the habit of recycling all of our boxes and paper products, in an effort to cut down on our tremendous waste.

Greenwashing in Everyday Life

Following the discussion in class last week on green washing, I decided to do some research to understand it a little better, as I did not have a lot of previous knowledge on the subject. While doing this research, I came across a link labeled “The Top 25 Green Washed Products in America” which was published by

While reading the article, I was surprised to see that Herbal Essences hair products were on the list. I have been using Herbal Essences shampoos and conditioners for years, and loved that they were supposedly “natural” and  sometimes “truly organic” products. However, according to this article, Herbal Essences contains chemicals including lauryl sulfate, propylene glycol, and red dye no. 33, none of which can be considered natural or organic. Other widely used products included on the list were meat, software, mattresses, and bottled water. Each one of these products are often used very regularly in most individuals’ life, and it astonishes me that so many of these products are currently being green washed by the companies which produce and market them.

This discovery really opened my eyes to the mislabeling and representation of certain products that everyone may use everyday. From now on, I will definitely be paying more attention to the specific ingredients in the products I purchase, and will encourage those around me to do the same in order to remain informed consumers and not be mislead by these mislabeling of products.

Animal Transportation and Slaughter

Ever think about where the meat comes from that you pick up at the supermarket or through the drive through at your favorite fast food restaurant? After discussing this in class, I found a very interesting article on PETA discussing the issue.  Since this meat was once a living animal, the animals must be transported from wherever they were raised to the location of where they will then be slaughtered, packaged etc. These animals are first packed into a large truck and driven hours upon hours to get to their destination. However, it is not just as easy as loading livestock into a truck, animals must be beaten and forced into trucks. According to PETA, pigs, for example, are beat on their noses, rectums, and backs with electric rods. They are also packed so tight that their guts supposedly “pop out of their butts”.

On top of all of this, the insane temperatures are also a huge issue at hand. These hot temperatures, mixed with the waste produced that this livestock create an unhealthy amount of ammonia, which is then inhaled by the animals for the numerous hours they are trapped in these vehicles. Therefore, animals show up to their slaughterhouses already sick, only to experience more abuse before being killed completely inhumanely, and these are the animals that even make it to the slaughterhouses. According to PETA, 1 million pigs die each year just during the transportation process, a staggering statistic.

All in all, the transportations process is one of the most inhumane parts of the slaughtering process. Due to this, actions need to be taken to cut down on the mistreatment of animals as they reach their final destination. Just because they have a short life, does not mean that their quality of life should be completely taken from them.

A Delicate Balance

Following the readings from A Delicate Balance: Constructing a Conservation Culture in the South Carolina Lowcountry from this week in class, I was really made aware of how much these environmental issues we talk about every day actually effect each and every one of us very locally. Despite the feelings that issues such as conservation are more prominent in other area, it was quite eye opening to realize that so much is happening right around us on the peninsula, and surrounding areas, as well.

In Halfacre’s book, he talks about how the rapidly growing area has really affected the dynamic and environment in Charleston, including agriculture and residential life. A huge point he covered which resonated with me was the “Buy local” movement, as many local farmers have been convinced or otherwise forced to sell out their land to big development companies. This only creates more of an issue with the Charleston’s area growing population size. When you buy local, you help support the local economy as well as maintain the Charleston we know and love.

Due to this, Halfacre has really encouraged me to start going to more farmer’s markets, etc. to buy more vegetables and other produce. This is even a great way to ensure you eat healthier, while also helping your community!

Lowcountry Foodbank

Over the past month, I have begun to volunteer at the Lowcountry Foodbank of North Charleston a couple times a week. Truthfully, I only chose to volunteer for this non-profit organization after contacting several other locations involved in animal rescue/ the environmental cleanup, which is what I am truly passionate about, and ended up with a lack of response from any of them. However, I felt I needed to give back to the community in some way, while simultaneously building my resume, so Lowcountry Foodbank it was.

The first day I showed up, I was less than optimistic. I figured I would just be doing mind numbing busy work, cleaning or organizing, while the employees did the important work. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Upon arrival, I was rushed right to the back of their huge warehouse and was immediately taught how to organize large bins of food into different categories, sorted into smaller bins. These smaller bins were then taken and boxed separately, before being sent out to Foodbanks around the area that individuals, who cannot afford to grocery shop for themselves or their families, can visit.

As if this was not enough of a good cause, I began to learn more about where all of the donated food came from the more time I spent in the warehouse. I found out that most of the food that comes into the Lowcountry Foodbank is actually donated from grocery stores once they hit the “Best Sold By “date. It turns out that most of these foods and beverages grocery stores would be forced to throw out are actually good 6 months to a whole year after this printed date, which absolutely blew my mind. Can you imagine all of the waste created by these products and their packaging in areas, which do not have organizations like the Foodbank?

Another thing I noticed during my time at the Foodbank was how conscious they are of waste produced in their own facility. Instead of using plastic bags, or continuing to purchase moving boxes in order to transport the donated food, they actually also ask grocery stores to also give them the boxes in which bananas are transported to their stores in. These boxes are used hundreds of time until they are literally falling apart at the Foodbank, cutting down an unfathomable amount of waste.

All in all, this may not have been the volunteer experience I had been vying for, but working there has really opened my eyes to how any company, business, charity, etc. can help the environment in the smallest of ways, such as recycling banana boxes, in order to reduce their environmental footprint on this Earth.