A Look at Your Trash: Seeing Beyond the “Waste”

November 2016 | Sustainable Fixed Income

Have you ever stopped to analyze your trash? Here in the United States, we are privileged to dispose of the things we no longer want in our sight with great convenience, ridding the waste from our homes for others and the environment to deal with later. The United States Department of Agriculture reports that 30-40% of food supply worth over $100 billion ends up in landfills.[1] Waste, in addition to its social and political implications, has direct consequences on all aspects of the environment.

The average person generates 4.3 pounds of trash per day.[2] Depending on the recycling facilities of your local municipalities and your willingness to separate your organics for composting, the majority of your trash could radically diminish.

By acting on the triple R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle, we can significantly limit our waste.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Reduce: Reducing trash starts at consumption. Avoiding plastic and synthetic packaging at grocery stores is not an easy quest, but you’ll notice you’ll spend more time in healthier areas of the grocery store. Choosing foods packaged in paper or glass is a great idea for recycling and reusing.
  • Reuse: Bringing your own reusable bags when you go shopping eliminates the need for plastic bags. If you tend to take home leftovers when eating out, start bringing your own containers. Waiters might be confused, but as soon as you explain your new green habits, they’ll be impressed.
  • Recycle: Most importantly, understand what your local facility can recycle, this should only require a quick online check. If you are one of half of the Americans that don’t have a proper recycling bin[3], purchase one, or bring your recyclables to a place that does. If you have a backyard, look into a composting bin where you can put your kitchen greens and yard material or find a local park or garden that collects compost. The whole family will love seeing their “waste” turn into natural fertilizer.

Perhaps by now you have considered making small but significant changes to reduce your negative impact on the environment. Let’s shift the same question but to your investment portfolio – does it reflect these newfound sustainable values? Financial publications such as Barrons and Bloomberg frequently publish articles on the growth of ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) investing. At Community Capital Management (CCM), we positively analyze bonds for their social and environmental impact.

Just this past month, CCM purchased a bond financing Honolulu’s Program of Waste and Energy Recovery (H-POWER). The environmental impacts of this program include avoiding imports of fossil fuels and associated greenhouse gas emissions, NOx reductions through the program’s innovative control technology, and fewer wasted materials due to more efficient collection of aluminum and other recyclables.[4] H-POWER is just one of numerous programs demonstrating CCM’s commitment to the environment.

There are numerous ways to “see beyond the waste”. Taking a step towards recycling, re-using existing bags and containers, and looking at your investment portfolio to see what kinds of securities you hold and how they impact your environment are all small changes that can lead to big impact. 





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