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Earth Friendly: Victoria woman goes above and beyond to cut waste

By Victoria Advocate
Aug. 10, 2010 at 3:10 a.m.
Updated Aug. 11, 2010 at 3:11 a.m.

Meridith Byrd

By Meridith Byrd

Deanna Fordiani says it's "just the way I was raised."

Raised by parents who lived through the Depression and took the lessons learned during that time to heart, she and her siblings were taught not to waste. They learned to fix things rather than throwing them away. "My dad could fix anything with black electrical tape and baling wire," Fordiani laughs.

She incorporated those early teachings into her daily life, and when asked why she is so committed to the idea of reduce-reuse-recycle, she replies, "Because there is so much waste. I was raised to use something until it cannot be used anymore. It's common sense to me."

Today, Fordiani has not only made recycling routine at home, where her children know how to separate recyclables from trash, but also at her husband's dental practice, where the staff has been so receptive to the idea of reusing and recycling, the trash cans in the front office are only emptied weekly because they simply do not collect much.

REDUCE

To reduce waste at home, Fordiani packs her kids' lunches in plastic containers rather than plastic bags.

The office has moved away from unnecessary paper use, foregoing the typical patient reminder postcards in favor of e-mails or phone calls and saving money on printer ink, postcards and stamps in the process. Instead of paper notepads, the staff often uses the notepad function in their scheduling software. Most charting is now done electronically, as is the filing of insurance claims, and X-rays are digital, allowing them to be viewed on a computer monitor and e-mailed rather than printed on film.

REUSE

Plastic milk jugs are filled with water and placed in Fordiani's full-size freezer to help conserve energy, a practice she learned from her father. An added benefit is that the frozen jugs protect the food during power outages. She has found a use for empty check boxes, placing them inside drawers to organize pens and other small items.

Before recycling junk mail or homework, she sorts through it looking for paper with a blank side. Anything that is not already printed on both sides, she brings to the office and places in a tray above the copier. Daily schedules, in-house reports and insurance claims are all printed on back sides of last week's math assignment or unwanted mail.

RECYCLE

In the garage, Fordiani has containers for mixed paper, plastic and cardboard. She brings home any recyclable materials from the office and makes a trip to the Huvar Street collection site about every two weeks. Of course, anything containing sensitive information cannot be reused, so Fordiani shreds those documents before taking them to Huvar. The family also separates yard waste, so that it can be "recycled" into compost and mulch at the city's GardenVille facility.

All of this effort takes surprisingly little time, Fordiani explains, especially once you get yourself in the habit of looking for ways to cut down on the waste you produce.

Meridith Byrd is a marine biologist and invites readers to contact her at meridith.byrd@gmail.com.

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