Community Corner: The Advocates Work Toward Sustainability

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Homemade cleaning supplies

By Hadley DeBree

Nearly one year ago, ERC staff visited with The Advocates to explore ways they could “green” their operations. Recently, we made a trip back to their office to see what changes they had made, and we were very happy to see some great improvements.

The first action The Advocates took was to create a Green Team. The Green Team is comprised of staff who work in different departments and consistently meet to discuss opportunities for improvement and evaluate existing and implemented processes to make their operations more environmentally efficient.

Since creating the Green Team, staff has implemented the following changes:

Stacked recycling bins

Focus on reduction of waste first and foremost. Staff have glass water jugs available at as many events and meetings as possible as opposed to single-use plastic water bottles. When plastic is used, they ensure that it is made of a #1-5 plastic, which are the only types of plastic that are recyclable in Blaine County. They also encourage staff to use re-usable bags when buying groceries and other office supplies. When staff do use plastic bags, they are reused as trash bags.

Use chemical alternatives when possible. Advocates’ staff have created several “homemade” cleaning products that use less caustic ingredients, such as baking soda and vinegar, that are better for the environment and for our health. Not only are these products more environmentally-friendly, they are also less expensive than many of those found in the store. With the money The Advocates has saved with these products, they can now buy 100% post consumer recycled copy paper. In their landscape maintenance, they refrain from using chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, opting for more environmentally-conscious alternatives.

Recycling reminder on trash can

Recycle when possible. Staff created a “mini” office recycling center, where plastic containers (#1-5), mixed paper, and aluminum and tin are recycled curbside. Additionally, they have receptacles to store plastic film (e.g. plastic grocery bags, produce bags, ziploc bags, etc.) and glass which is dropped off at public recycling sites. All of the recycling bins are big, in public areas, and are clearly labeled with information on what can and cannot be put in the bins. On many of the trash receptacles, there are reminders to “stop and remember to recycle.”

Although The Advocates have already made positive changes in their operations, they aren’t stopping there. They are continually looking for ways to improve their operations and lessen their environmental impact. Their next step is creating a formal purchasing and event policy that include stronger environmental initiatives. We commend them on their efforts and look forward to seeing what changes they continue to make!

The ERC works in partnership with Blaine County’s recycling program, 5B Recycles, to conduct outreach on best recycling practices. Interested in learning more or want the ERC staff to visit your office to discuss ways you can make improvements? Contact us (471 Washington Ave, N; 208.726.4333;

Hadley DeBreeCommunity Corner: The Advocates Work Toward Sustainability