Community Partners / Current Students / News

Combating climate change: Sustainable business practices in the community

One of the goals of the NWCCI is to introduce students to efforts that combat climate change and promote sustainability in the United States, as well as expose participants to sustainable concepts that they can take back to their home countries. Climate change is an important issue in the Pacific Northwest and each of the NWCCI campuses has sustainability initiatives on their campuses. It is a topic that most NWCCI students are very interested in exploring, and this February, four students at Whatcom Community College visited Bellingham, Washington’s Sanitary Service Company, Inc. (SSC) to learn more about their local community’s efforts.

starting the tour of SS

Bellingham’s Sanitary Service Company, Inc. (SSC) serves as Whatcom County’s largest recycling and garbage collection company. SSC has been recognized for its commitment to sustainable business practices and customer services, including the use of bio-diesel in their fleet of recycling, garbage and delivery trucks. SSC has also won awards for “Sustainable Business of the Year” in 2007 and “Green Business of the Year” in 2012.

Do you wonder what happens to the trash that is recycled in Bellingham, Washington?Or how appliances, batteries, plastics, and other items get recycled?

The NWCCI students did, and after the tour, Gladys Annor, an NWCCI student from Ghana studying Tourism and Hospitality exclaimed,

“I was surprised when I found out how they had covered the drains with the filter which absorbs the dirty oils from the parking lots. The most surprising thing is how they recycle the  toilet seats. I was also surprised about how they filter the dirty oils from cars and reuse them.

I learned that shells of fish can be used to filter water which can provide irons. I learn how the SSC do their daily routine and also how they charge a customer near to their company and far way from them. I learn that cans are recycle into a new cans.

Melting plastics bottles and molding them into another product is something similar in Ghana. In Ghana, we recycle plastic bottles into chairs, tables, washing bowls and sometimes eating bowls.  I learned a lot from this tour, and I really appreciate your invitation.” 

what goes down the drain

The NWCCI students and program assistant Shasta learned about many other sustainable disposal practices at Sanitary Services in Bellingham from Director Rodd Pemble. Here are just a few of the things they learned:

“Used oil from cars and trucks can be cleaned and re-used! Sanitary Services uses the same oil in their trucks over and over.”

Rodd & Jude, Seyda

“Oil filters can be recycled, too! A special machine crushes the old filter, collects all the used oil, and then the metal cylinder is recycled.”

“Brake drums from the trash collection trucks are recycled.”

“Pennsylvania has the only battery recycling facility in the entire United States. Trash is collected daily all over Whatcom County.”

“Water from street runoff in Bellingham is filtered through oyster shells to check the acidity of the water before it is released in to Bellingham Bay.”

learning about recycling

Additionally, NWCCI participants are required to complete three  activities related to climate change throughout their time in the U.S., and are asked to reflect on their experiences through essays each quarter. NWCCI staff members, many of whom are outdoor enthusiasts, are passionate about sustainability and are excited to delve deeper into these issues with participants in the coming months, especially as Earth Day (April 22nd) 2016 nears!

US Dept of StateThe NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The opinions expressed in this blog by writers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Northwest Community College Initiative program, Edmonds Community College, Whatcom Community College, Pierce College, the United States Department of State or any employee thereof. NWCCI and Edmonds Community College are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied by the student bloggers.

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