A campus newspaper atop the Sycamore Ridge Landfill near Terre Haute, Indiana
IU is serious about diverting waste from the landfill. But sustainable waste management involves more than just recycling; it requires us to look not just “downstream” to our waste’s destination, but also “upstream” to its origins.
As an example, consider a standard sheet of office paper. Because traditional disposal methods such as landfilling are expensive and damaging to the environment, ensuring that the piece of paper ends up in a recycling bin is important. However, we can’t stop there. What resources were used in production and how were they extracted? Under what conditions did the workers who manufactured the paper work? How far was the paper shipped to market, and by what means? And of course, did that piece of paper really need to be used or even purchased in the first place?