Sustainability FAQs

What is sustainability?

Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Therefore, to sustain life on Earth we must use our resources in a manner that allows us to thrive without infringing on the ability of future generations to do the same. This entails acting in a manner that promotes economic vitality, environmental conservation and social equality.

How does SLUH work towards greater sustainability?

The Global Citizenship and Sustainability Committee is a vertical committee structure that meets two times a year and that includes the school President, CFO, Director of Maintenance, Principal, Assistant Principal of Mission, Faculty and Staff, Parents, and Students.  

Three teams of students coached by faculty and community coaches stem from the GCSC and focus on the areas of Waste, Energy, and Farm to Table.

What is Laudato Si’?

Laudato Si’; On Care for Our Common Home is the encyclical (letter) written by Pope Francis in 2015 to address the Climate Emergency we are facing as companions on Earth, our common home. In it, he makes the case for the urgent need for unified action to care for all of Earth’s systems. He points out that when we care for Earth, we are caring for each other in ways that show love, humility, and compassion.

What is a “Waste Free Lunch”?

This is an effort to encourage those who bring a lunch from home to pack sandwiches and snacks with reusable bags and in a reusable lunch bag. If reusable snack bags are hard to find, there are a lot of silicone options for purchase.

What is “single use” trash and why is reducing it important? 

“Single Use” refers to the type of plastic that is used only ONCE and then discarded. 50% of the plastic used in the US is used just ONE TIME, then THROWN AWAY. Reducing our use of single use wrappers and products signals to manufacturers that reducing waste is important to their consumers.

What happens to the food and packaging at school that we place in the COMPOST bins?

​Food takes a LONG time to break down in a landfill. There is a scientific formula necessary to break food waste and compostable packing down into nutrient rich soil. The right temperature, moisture, and rotation of food waste and dry, brown matter (think leaves and twigs) at a composting facility creates the opportunity for th Composting means less waste is sent to a landfill, which extends the life of the landfill.

Why is it important to COMPOST?

When food is thrown into the landfill, it cannot be recovered. In fact, as the food breaks down, it releases methane, which is a stronger greenhouse gas than CO2. In the US, about 40% of food is wasted between farm to table, including those resources that went into producing that food. These resources include water, energy, fertilizers, and pesticides. By reducing the amount of food wasted, these resources are saved.

Why is it important to sort our trash with intention?

We need to put the correct items in the bins. 

  • “Wishcycling” occurs when we place items that aren’t able to be recycled into the recycling bins. Wishcycling wastes time, money, and energy at the recycling facility

  • Compost should only have appropriate packaging and food waste withOUT wrappers, or we can be fined for contamination.

  • Landfill is our last option. Of course we will need to throw some items that cannot be recycled or composted  into the landfill.

Globally, we produce 300 million tons of plastic a year, and only 9 percent gets recycled. The rest piles up in landfills, is incinerated or becomes litter.

There are over five trillion pieces of plastic, weighing more than 250,000 tons, floating in our oceans. That's more than 700 pieces of plastic per person.

Scientists have collected up to 750,000 bits of microplastic in one square kilometer of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, about 1.9 million bits per square mile. Most comes from plastic bags, bottle caps, plastic water bottles, and Styrofoam cups.

About 4.9 million tons of waste is generated from food service disposables annually.

On average, a school-age child using a disposable lunch generates 67 pounds of lunch waste per school year (40,000 pounds of lunch waste per middle school).

Americans discard 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour.

Packaging accounts for 30% of all household waste in the U.S.

Americans use 500 million plastic straws every day, which could fill over 127 school buses every day, or more than 46,400 school buses every year.

120 billion single-use cups are used by Americans every year. Placed end to end, they could circle the equator 333 times!

Worldwide, one trillion single-use plastic bags are used each year, nearly 2 million each minute.

73% of beach litter is plastic: filters from cigarette butts, bottles, bottle caps, food wrappers, grocery bags, and polystyrene containers.

Environmental facts courtesy of U Konserve