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One man’s trash is another woman’s Go Green Award

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Troy Shantz

A typical workday for Mary Jean O’Donnell could mean crunching numbers or sorting through waist-deep trash.

“I have people that work with me and they often get freaked out… saying ‘that smells,’” said O’Donnell, the owner of MJ Waste Solutions.

“Yes, it smells like money!”

The company O’Donnell founded 19 years ago performs waste audits for businesses and organizations, zeroing in on the sustainability and environmental friendliness of their products and operations.

Her company was one of six recipients of a Go Green award this year, given by the City of Sarnia for environmental stewardship and contributions.

O’Donnell has built a sustainable business by helping others become environmentally sustainable. But you soon realize it’s not about the money. She practices what she preaches by cycling instead of driving, buying less and recycling more.

“I actually really believe that it does take all of us, as individuals, to act,” she said.

MJ Waste Solutions also does supply-chain audits, which analyze a company’s suppliers and the sustainability of their operations.

After O’Donnell and her team of contractors collect the data they compile a diversion rate, which factors in how much waste is created, and how much is recycled, reused or composted.

O’Donnell excitedly told the story of one of her clients, a British Columbia-based credit union.

“When they started, they were basically doing nothing and now they have one branch that produces one kilogram of waste per week,” she said.

“That’s two pounds of waste!”

O’Donnell works with all types of companies from food producers to telecommunications giants.

“Usually I say, ‘If I can show you how it can save you money, would you be interested?’” she asked.

“The less stuff that goes in the dumpster (and) more stuff to recycling, is the cheaper option.”

Making environmental contributions can simple, she added.

“Instead of driving to the corner store, walk to the corner store.”

 


 

This year’s winners were presented with Go Green Awards at City Hall on Monday. They are:

* Business Stewardship (small): MJ Waste Solutions

* Business Stewardship (medium to large): Goodwill Industries – Essex Kent Lambton Inc.

* Eco-warrior: Ed Brost

* Community Stewardship: One Tomato Environmental Education Inc.

* Sarnia’s Greenest Classroom: St. Matthew’s School, Ms. Nicolai’s Grade 6 Class

* Youth or Youth Group: Team Northern, Northern Collegiate Institute & Vocational School

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