Sustainability Initiative at Aquinas College

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Grove Collaborative

Why are sustainable cleaning products so important and safer for you? Green cleaning is a way to clean your home that avoids harmful chemicals. Conventional cleaning products contain chemicals that are designed to kill all present bacteria. These chemicals can be absorbed through the skin, inhaled, and sometimes even ingested causing harm to human health. To learn more about the different benefits of green cleaning, explore these links here and here

 It is a common misconception that using sustainable cleaning products is more expensive than conventional cleaning products. The Pink Envelope compared Grove Collaborative products to Amazon products and surprisingly, Grove was cheaper than Amazon. To read more about it click here

“Grove is also a Certified B-corp. What is a B-corp? It is a program that grades businesses on their performance. Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy” (B-Corp). To read more about Grove and their B-Corp certification, click here!(B-Corp) If you want to learn more about B-corp certification, click here.

Among many other brands that offer sustainable alternatives to mainstream cleaning products, Grove collaborative is a service that delivers items for cleaning your home that are safer and healthier. To look at their website, click here!

Reusable Bags 

Plastic waste has plagued our planet. As we continue to use plastics, especially single use plastics, we are hurting both the planet and ourselves. Episode two of the “Be a Sustainable Saint'' series takes a look at the damage caused by plastic bags. While not yet fully integrated into the average American’s shopping experience, reusable bags are a great, sustainable alternative. The average person uses a plastic bag to carry their groceries to their home, yet the plastic bag will spend eternity in a landfill. Remember, it takes thousands of years for plastic bags to disintegrate. 

Local options: 

If you are looking for a place to recycle your collection of plastic bags, you can find recycling receptacles at Meijer, Target, and many other major retailers. All you have to do is drop the bags off at the store recycling station, which is usually located near the bottle return. Make sure that you do not place plastic bags in the recycling bins on campus as the Kent County Recycling and Education Center does not accept them. Below, we have supplied a series of articles to help understand why reusable bags are the right choice when it comes to shopping. 

Outside Resources 

There are so many reasons to switch over to reusable bags. To start, your home will be less cluttered with bags and bags of disposable plastic bags. By avoiding single use bags, you save natural resources and money. Plastic bags are also flimsy and unreliable. How many times have you had to double bag your groceries or had that bag break halfway to the house? Exactly. With reusable bags, you can count on a sturdy, strong, and reliable sack. To read more click here!

Ever wonder how plastic bags are recycled? 

  • Here is a video that gives you an inside look at how it's done! Click here!

  • If you don't want to watch the video, here is an article that goes into more detail on how plastic bags are recycled and what the aftermath looks like. Is it really worth using plastic bags even if they are recycled? Find out! Click here to read more!

When did plastic bags even become mainstream? Plastic bags were invented in 1967, but were not used in stores until the 1970s. These bags are made from high-density polyethylene. You might think that a great alternative to traditional plastic bags are compostable bags or even paper bags. However, there is a large environmental footprint with all three alternatives. Reusable bags are by far the best solution. To read more, click here!

Recyclemania has some interesting facts about plastic pollution and its strong presence in our everyday lives. To read more, click here!

Not convinced that plastic bags are bad for the environment yet? Here are some reasons why reusable bags are the best alternative to plastic bags. Click here to read more, click here!

How to Be a Concious Consumer: 

To be a conscious consumer is to be aware that what you purchase has an impact throughout the world. For example, when you buy tomatoes and put them in a plastic produce bag, are you aware of everything that has happened to make your purchase possible? Where did your tomatoes come from? If they came from Mexico and they are now available in your local supermarket, how large is its carbon footprint? What about the plastic bag that you used to hold them? What is the carbon footprint of that bag? The average plastic bag is used for a short period of time, yet its life span is almost forever since plastic does not decompose. The “Be a Sustainable Saint” initiative is here to help you get started on (or continue along) your journey to becoming a conscious consumer. 

A general phrase that you may hear when starting your conscious consumer journey is “vote with your dollar.” In order to build a green economy, it’s imperative to support businesses that have adopted sustainable practices rather than companies that thrive off of cheap and hazardous alternatives. These options seem cheap at the moment, but long term are costing you more money and do significant harm to the environment. To read more, click here

Not sure where to start? As humans, we like routine, and breaking that routine can be difficult. The following link provides background information on conscious consumerism as well as 10 ways you can start your journey. To read more, click here!

How-To Get Started - Aside from adapting to a new lifestyle of repurposing and buying quality products, here are a few tips and tricks that can help you begin being a more conscious consumer. To dive even further, looking for accreditations such as B-Corp certification from companies and research your investments. You can find more information by clicking here!

If you want a more general way of becoming an Eco-conscious consumer, then it might help to follow simple tips such as buying based on need over impulse and considering the full life cycle of a product before buying it. Instead of buying new, what about looking for a second hand option first? For more information, click here!

Brands and Websites to help get started - Now that we have covered the basics, how do you know which companies are trustworthy and worth the switch? This tool kit, provided by Green America, gives you a run down on all parts of consumerism, from local businesses to your food shopping. To read more, click here

Do It! 

How to Be a Conscious Consumer in West Michigan
Speaking of local businesses, here are some local resources to help you become the sustainable guru that you are. If you haven’t yet, please find our social media and watch Megan Bopra’s new video on Conscious Consumerism. Most recently, she focuses on Proprietary. This is a package free shop where you can bring your own containers to eliminate the use of disposable containers. 

Zero Waste Initiative
Make it a priority to choose Zero Waste every time you are at the crossroads (compost or recycling?!). Get informed and then jump to action!
Re-Think Transportation
Learn how to use the Grand Rapids bus system, view routes from AQ to popular destinations in the city, learn about bike rental programs and much more.students volunteering
Volunteer in the AQ Community Garden!
Volunteer in the summer for our AQ community garden! Come on out to the garden located east of the AMC to help with planting day, harvesting day, or become a regular volunteer! If interested, please contact Jessica Eimer Bowen.
Green Revolving Fund
Learn about or submit a proposal to our Green Revolving Fund, a sustainable investment mechanism that helps us complete energy-reducing projects on-campus.

Tree Map
Our campus tree guide is available online! Visit this website for a full list of tree species on campus. Each tree has a description and is part of an interactive map that makes it easy to find whatever species you're looking for. 

Read It!

Zero Waste Guide for Commuters (pdf)
If you live off-campus and want to learn how to implement Zero Waste in your home or apartment without sacrificing your budget, this document is your go-to beginner's guide for the Zero Waste lifestyle. 
Sustainability Guide: Sustainable Saints
Download the Student Sustainability Guide today! This guide offers tips for reducing waste, rethinking transportation, supporting local businesses, and taking action with policies and clubs in the campus community.