Welcome to “How I Recycle,” a new series from Rubicon® in which we sit down with a Rubicon employee from across our offices to dive into everything from their recycling best practices, interesting solutions that they have created to make recycling easier, and what they’re doing to live up to Rubicon’s mission to end waste, in all its forms, in their own communities.
First up is Elizabeth Montoya, Chief of Protocol and Investor Relations, based out of Washington D.C. Employee number three at the company, Elizabeth has seen it all, serving as Rubicon’s first Director of Corporate and Social Responsibility before her current role, through which she led sustainability initiatives and corporate social responsibility programs, managed press relations and marketing, and led Rubicon’s first successful effort to become a Certified B Corporation in 2012.
This is how she recycles.
What are your recycling routines at home? What do you tend to focus on?
I love recycling, but before something ends up in the recycling bin, my focus is to avoid unnecessary waste and give used items a second life.
I’m a big proponent of buying used goods and donating or selling unwanted items as much as possible. The majority of the furniture in my house was purchased through Craigslist or at yard sales. I buy gently used clothing for my family on Kidizen, ThredUP, and Poshmark, and I purposefully buy bruised or misshapen produce at the market because “ugly” food typically gets discarded.
Have you discovered any cool solutions to make recycling easier?
I have extra bins in my garage for items that cannot go into residential recycling, including bins for plastic film (accepted at most grocery stores), food waste (I love my local compost provider, Compost Crew), wine corks (my local Whole Foods has bins for ReCORK), worn-out athletic shoes (Nike collects used shoes of any brand for its Reuse-A-Shoe program), used electronics and cords (Best Buy has an extensive electronic recycling program), and clothing and home goods in good condition (I drop off items at the Salvation Army).
To save space, I use hooks to hang recycling bins vertically, and I use empty tissue boxes to store plastic bags for reuse. I also make a point to not use disposable goods for parties. Instead, I bought inexpensive plates, glasses, and silverware (including plastic tableware for kids) that can go in the dishwasher.
What are your most-recycled items or materials?
I recycle a lot of aluminum cans because I’m a La Croix addict. I also recycle Nespresso pods. I love that Nespresso takes back its used coffee pods for free, recycling the aluminum capsules and composting the used coffee grounds.
How has working from home made you rethink your recycling or sustainability efforts?
During COVID-19, I’ve been more focused on meal-planning and using what I have on hand. This has led to less frequent shopping, more creative meals, and less food waste.
If you could share one nugget of advice on how we can all better recycle, what would it be?
Stay organized, and say “no” to freebies that you don’t actually need. When you have too much stuff, it is easy to lose or forget things, let goods expire, or end up buying more than you need.
When everything has a “home” and you know what you have, you make better use of your possessions and save money. I recently found a lot of great inspiration for reducing waste in Gretchen Rubin’s book, Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness.
David Rachelson is Vice President of Sustainability at Rubicon. To stay ahead of Rubicon’s announcements of new partnerships and collaborations around the world, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, or contact us today.