Mom Goes Green “takes on” City Hall!

So… my day started with retrieving my local newspaper from my driveway.  While my first thought was “…I wonder what’s new in the news”, my second thought was “… will have to recycle this paper when I’m done!” (Obvious, right?)

Well, sadly, I was greeted with the following (bad!) news:  “Recycled pick-up could end” (ummm… what???)

Seems our city is considering eliminating curbside recycling service to ease a strained budget.  Oh, not on MY watch, my friends.

Next came contact with a member of City Council (who is also a friend and whole-heartedly agrees with ME… and graciously provided me with the email address of the mayor, all city council members and our Law Director).

Here is the email that was sent one hour later:

“I am contacting you regarding today’s Dec. 1 Sun Post article entitled: “Recycled pick-up could end” – Seven Hills

I am urging you NOT to discontinue recycling in the City of Seven Hills. I believe it is our social and environmental responsibility to see that the citizens of our community have the opportunity to recycle at curbside.  Each week, as I drive through the city, it is obvious that our community has embraced this responsibility, as I see blue recycling cans at the end of nearly every driveway on collection days.

Discontinuing recycling would be a step toward rolling back the progress of Seven Hills and, sending recyclables into our trash system and tossing them into landfills, is truly irresponsible.  While I personally would have the physical ability to collect my recyclables and deliver them to a recycling center, many citizens (especially seniors) would not have this option or ability.  ALL citizens of Seven Hills have embraced this program and I URGE you to explore other cost-saving measures in our city… DO NOT eliminate a service that is part of our civic duty or create a situation that contributes to environmental harm and irresponsibility.

Here are some things to think about … is this what we want to contribute to in our city?

  1. PLASTIC– it can take 20 years for a plastic bag to biodegrade and 250 years for a plastic container.  Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour(!) but if every household recycled just one of every 10 plastic bottles, it would keep 200 million pounds of plastic out of landfills each year.
  2. PAPER – it accounts for nearly HALF of what is sent to landfills and approximately 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year in the U.S.  Plus, recycling one ton of paper would save enough energy to power an average American home for five months.
  3. ALUMINUM – an aluminum can is recycled and back on a store shelf in approximately 60 days, and just one recycled aluminum can save enough energy to run a computer for 3 hours.  Last year cans that were NOT recycled and went to landfills were valued at $600 million!
  4. GLASS – a bottle in a landfill would take more than 4000 years to decompose, but glass never “wears out” and can be recycled forever. The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle can power a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) for 20 hours.

Again, I URGE you, do not allow the elimination of curbside recycling in the city of Seven Hills.  Recycling is not just a service; it is a social responsibility.”

So, take this as a story of encouragement.  I have no idea how this will “go down” but remember “silence is compliance”… you have a voice and “no ear is out of reach”.

Some things are definitely worth fighting for… and you’d better believe, I have just begun to fight!

Celebrate “America Recycles Day” – November 15!

America Recycles DayNovember 15 is “America Recycles Day”… a day that “encourages more people to join the movement toward creating a better natural environment by recycling and buying recycled products” and “promotes the social, environmental and economic benefits of recycling.”

Are you planning to celebrate?!?!

Once again this year, we’re promoting this great day at my children’s school by encouraging the kids to submit their best recycling tips and the favorite ways their families recycle. We’ll compile all of their great ideas and turn them into a recycling newsletter that will be sent home to each family.  Some will even win cool prizes, like recycled drink pouch pencil bags and recycled newspaper pencils from Terracycle, reusable (yet recyclable!) BPA-free water bottles and 100% recycled content “green” notebooks!  I don’t doubt that the response will be amazing… kids always have the best idearecycl itemss!

So, as we celebrate the day, let’s remember WHY we recycle:
•    to reduce pollution
•    to save energy
•    to help the environment
•    to save natural resources
•    to keep trash out of landfills

And here are some things to think about …

  1. PLASTIC– it can take 20 years for a plastic bag to biodegrade and 250 years for a plastic cup!  Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour(!) but if every household recycled just one of every 10 plastic bottles, it would keep 200 million pounds of plastic out of landfills each year!
  2. PAPER – it accounts for nearly HALF of what is sent to landfills and approximately 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year in the U.S.!  Plus, recycling one ton of paper would save enough energy to power an average American home for five months!
  3. ALUMINUM – an aluminum can is recycled and back on a store shelf in approximately 60 days, and just one recycled aluminum can saves enough energy to run a computer for 3 hours.  Last year cans that were NOT recycled and went to landfills were valued at $600 million!
  4. GLASS – a bottle in a landfill would take more than 4000 years to decompose, but glass never “wears out” and can be recycled forever! The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle can power a compact fluorescent bulb (CFL) for 20 hours.

ARD 2011Now is the time… TODAY is the day… let’s get to recycling!  As you can see, clearly it makes a world of difference!

Reasons to recycle: the facts!

Recylce Now LogoRecycling in my home is a must.  Everyone knows “the rules” and our set-up is simple, but if you’ve ever wondered about the wonder of recycling and if your efforts are well worth the effort, then take a look at these facts I discovered via Earth911 and you’ll see why it matters…

(… it matters… it really, really matters…)

  • Aluminum cans – more than 50% of cans are recycled and once placed in a recycling receptacle, they are often back on store shelves as a “new can” within 60 days!  Because of its durability (and the efforts of many), approximately two-thirds of aluminum ever produced is still in use today!
  • Glass – it can be recycled indefinitely!  80% of recovered glass is turned into new glass containers with a turnaround time of about 30 days!
  • Magazines – only 20% ever gets recycled.  What a waste!  They can’t be recycled into new magazine paper but they ARE recyclable – they get turned into newspaper, paperboard and writing paper.
  • Newspaper – it’s incredibly easy to recycle and the 24 billion newspapers circulated worldwide annually(!) can be recycledrecycle logo right back into another edition to hit the newsstand!
  • Plastic bottles – only 2 out of every 10 plastic water bottles is recycled… and Americans buy about 28 billion water bottles each year.  The interesting thing is that 96% of plastic bottles produced are “recycle #1 and #2”… and these are absolutely recycled everywhere!!!
  • Paper – approximately 40% of solid waste in the US is paper products!  I wrote a post dedicated to all the things you need to know about paper recycling (since it seems to be the one with the greatest potential for confusion!), so check it out here!  But without question, RECYCLE IT!

I honestly think that NOT recycling is inexcusable.  An estimated 75% of Americans have curbside recycling and most of the remaining majority has at least some access to a recycling facility.

If you ever doubted your recycling efforts… don’t.  If you ever thought about short-cutting recycling… don’t.  If you haven’t started a dedicated recycling effort at home… DO!

Things you should know about recycling paper.

paper stckNot long ago I wrote a post about whether or not pizza boxes can be recycled.  I quickly realized that this is only scratching the surface of a topic that often leaves us scratching our heads.

So while we all likely understand the fundamentals of a paper recycling, there is also some uncertainty about the details.  Here are a few things you (may not, but) SHOULD know!

  • DO NOT let the paper get wet.  Since recyclers purchase paper by weight, the entire lot may get rejected if they see wet paper.  Check your weather before it goes to the curb unless you are certain the rain won’t get in!
  • No food! Dirty paper plates, napkins, paper towels, etc. are, unfortunately, trash… or should go to compost.  But please, not in the recycle bin – they will quickly cross contaminate the other contents.
  • Do not worry about little things like small paper clips, plastic envelope windows, staples, labels, metal envelope latches or even notebook spirals.  Unlike food matter, they separate easily in processing and can be removed from the batch.paper recyc
  • Watch the adhesives! Heavily glued (sticky) items can ruin batches of recycled paper.  Don’t toss in those “complimentary” address labels and other stickers.  Post-It Notes are fine but if an envelope has a heavy self-stick flap, tear it off first.
  • Allow tape in moderation. Some tape here and there won’t hurt, but if a box is wrapped in yards of shipping tape, remove it as best you can.  Paper tape is A-OK!
  • Don’t shred paper unless you must – most recyclers don’t like accepting shredded paper because it’s a challenge to sort.  If you are a “shredder”, contain it in a paper bag first (or it can be composed!).
  • Skip the heavy-dye, saturated papers with deep, dark colors or fluorescents.  It’s difficult to bleach them back to a usable form.
  • No plastic or wax coated papers (like paper cups), but glossy papers (like magazines) are acceptable.
  • Consider dropping your paper at a local paper retriever site (at schools, churches or other non-profits…like this service in my area). You can be assured that your paper is being recycled AND it can benefit an organization by helping them earn money.

Remember, the EPA estimates that 40% of solid waste in the U.S. is paper products… shameful!  But paper can actually be recycled up to seven times, and it is easier and cheaper to make pulp from recycled fibers than from wood… awesome!  And one more tidbit to share:

Each ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees… and those 17 saved trees can absorb a total of 250 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year!

I hope you never look at paper the same way again… paper recycling rules!

Eco-unfriendly Styrofoam coolers give me the “chills!”

Summer is in full swing and sadly, to me, it feels like it’s half over.  I always consider summer a brief 10 week experience (now that we have kids in school), but that’s my own issue.

cooler-foamAnyhow, while I’ve been out and about with my family enjoying the “first half”, one thing keeps catching my eye… Styrofoam coolers.  I almost can’t believe that these things still exist.  I understand that they are a matter of convenience, but with some forethought, it’s easy to be prepared and no one should ever need a ‘single use’ cooler. It pains me to see them sitting next to garbage cans and knowing that they’ve become trash.  And I imagine that after purchasing a few Styrofoam versions, you could probably own a decent cooler of your very own.

My mom actually taught me the amazing insulating ability of newspaper.  Layers of newspaper, wrapped around whatever you need to keep cold in transit, does an incredible job of holding the cold.  This newstrick even works to keep items hot.  I used newspaper to keep our kids’ baby food warm when we went out to dinner, so they could have their food right along with us.  And the best part is that afterward, it can be recycled instead of thrown in the trash.

I just really want Styrofoam coolers to disappear! The problem is this… even if they disappear from store shelves, they still won’t disappear – they’ll live on in a landfill for about 500 years!