Extending Sustainability to Others

Extending Sustainability to Others

Essay by Luke Contos, Principal, Sustainability Systems, LLC

I have often thought, how to get others to be more sustainable?  Well this may be one idea that I hope you will incorporate in your life!!

This started many years ago when I would collect my household hazardous waste and go to the annual County-Wide Hazardous Waste Collection Day.  I would put my old chemicals, insecticides, etc. into my car and drive down.  Even though I went early, I would sit in line for 30-60 minutes, spend ten minutes having them remove materials at the three to five different stations, and then drive home.  In all it took me two maybe three hours.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love doing it, but let’s face it, how many people would take the time to do this?  Particularly, young families who are busy with kid activities, etc., are they really going to make the time?

Now, we all generate hazardous waste!  And we all know the benefit of utilizing the County-Wide Hazardous Waste Collection Day!!!

So, how can we extend sustainability to others and make participating in a Hazardous Waste Collection Day easier?

Well, here was my solution.  I started small, by sending an email (or texted) 10 neighbors and friends.  The message went something to the effect of:

“I am going to the ___ County-Wide Hazardous Waste Collection Day on Saturday.  I know you are busy, but if you have old chemicals, paints, _____, that you would like to see properly recycled, reused, or disposed of, then I am glad to help.

Just drop of any materials at my house in the evening.  I will take them down.”

Well before you knew it, my car was just about full of hazardous waste!  And yes, I took the appropriate precautions to protect myself (and my car).

My email is now up to about 30 people, with most people dropping off something.   With just one hour of my time for loading/preparation, makes my 2.5 hours of going highly productive!  Maybe more important is that I have people wanting to help and drive.  Just think, if we make it easier for people to be more sustainable, then it will allow for conversations on how to:

7 R's of Sustainability
Image Credit: Courtesy of https://www.aeromatico.com/the-7-rs-of-sustainability/
  • Rethink
  • Refuse
  • Reduce
  • Repurpose
  • Reuse
  • Recycle
  • Rot



To me, I was going down anyway, so might as well fill-up my car!!  I was surprised by people who really appreciated my offer and now want to work together.

So how can you extend sustainability to your friends and neighbors?

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