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Archive for Recycle

February 24th, 2014

6 Surprising Things You Can Recycle

Groovy Green Livin Recycle

Do you recycle?

Recycling allows us to reuse materials, which in turn conserves natural resources. It also saves water and energy, improves air and water quality, lowers pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and preserves landfill space. The national recycling rate has increased every year for the past 30 years. The current recycling rate is about 34.7%. We can certainly do better!

There are many creative ways to improve our recycling statistics. Here are a few surprising things that we can all try to recycle.

Running Shoes

Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe Program

Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program takes old running shoes that would otherwise end up in a landfill and grinds them down to create a new material called Nike Grind, which is used to make high-quality sports surfaces including courts, turf fields, tracks and more. Since 1990, they’ve transformed 28 million pairs of shoes and 36,000 tons of scrap material into Nike Grind for use in more than 450,000 locations around the world. You can drop off athletic shoes of any brand for recycling at a Nike or Converse retail store (call before coming) or mail them directly to the recycling center.

One World Running

One World Running is an international program promoting an awareness of health, fitness and nutrition by providing running shoes to those in need in the United States and around the world. These are the shoes that aren’t quite ready for the landfill. Check HERE to find a drop-off location near you.

Wine Corks

If you drink a lot of wine start saving those wine corks. Recork wants your old corks to recycle. Recork is North America’s largest cork recycling initiative. They take our corks and turn them into footwear or other upcycled products while also planting new cork trees. I just typed in my zip code and found a local drop off location.

Batteries

What should I do with old batteries? I’m asked this question constantly. My response: don’t throw them in the trash. Single-use batteries contain materials that are both recyclable and considered hazardous. You can drop them off at a household hazardous waste (HHW) facility in your area or participate in the many mail-in or take-back programs that are available.

Bras

OK. Time to dig through those drawers and recycle your old bras. The Bra Recyclers, an organization based in Arizona, finds your gently-used bras a second home overseas. You can drop off or mail in your gently used bras and prevent them from ending up in a landfill.

Jeans

Blue Jeans Go Green is a denim recycling program that converts collected denim into housing insulation for communities in need. Blue Jeans Go Green™ has diverted more than 600 tons of waste out of landfills and generated approximately 2 million square feet of UltraTouch™ Denim Insulation to assist with building efforts in communities in need. You can contribute your old jeans by mail or at participating retailers.

Crayons

Stuffed into almost ever drawer in our house are a few crayons. We also have a big bin of crayons tucked into our art supplies. There are times when I’m tempted to dump a few crayons into the trash, but there’s good news- National Crayon Recycle Program operated by Crazy Crayons, LLC. The recycling program has diverted more than 47,000 pounds of crayons from landfills by taking old crayons and turning them into new crayons. Ship your unwanted crayons directly to Crazy Crayons or find a drop-off location in your area!

What strange or surprising things have you recycled? Share your tips!

photo credit: Rafa from Brazil via photopin cc

 

February 25th, 2011

20 Quick Ways to Reduce What’s in Your Trash

Photo used under Creative Commons from Ace Solid Waste

Every year people get rid of billions of tons of trash. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces about 4.4 pounds (2 kg) of garbage a day, or a total of 29 pounds (13 kg) per week and 1,600 pounds (726 kg) a year.  All of this garbage has to go somewhere and that somewhere is usually a landfill. We are running out of space!

Where does all this garbage come from? Most of the stuff that we send off to landfills comes from single-use products and product packaging.  Our society is all about disposability- “use-and-toss” products are filling our garbage cans.  Let’s face it, we are a trash culture. The only way to reduce the amount of garbage we contribute to landfills is to learn how to reduce our consumption of use-and-toss products. 

Check out these 20 things you can do to reduce your trash:

Let me know which are keepers……..

  1. Paper towels-try out a cloth that can be washed.
  2. Paper plates and cups-use the real deal whenever possible or opt for reusable.
  3. Silverware-metal is the way to go.
  4. Plastic grocery bags-reusable bags are a great alternative.
  5. Bottled water-reusable bottles will hold all sorts of drinks.
  6. Individually packaged snacks-buy snacks in a regular sized bag and put single servings in reusable bags.
  7. Disposable Napkins-try reusable.
  8. Plastic baggies-replace with reusable bags that can be washed.
  9. Garbage bags- try to reuse bags that are not messy inside by emptying the garbage out and reusing the bag.
  10. Cotton balls-try using a cloth instead.
  11. Printer cartridges-get the old ones refilled rather than buying new cartridges.
  12. Batteries-invest in rechargeable batteries instead of disposable batteries.
  13. Mail-opt to receive statements and bills electronically when possible.
  14. Bubble wrap-Beth at Fake Plastic Fish suggests trying to reuse something you already have for packaging-try newspaper or old rags.
  15. Plastic wrap and foil-use a container with a cover instead for food storage.
  16. Aluminum foil-use a pot with a cover or for storage, use a glass container.
  17. Razors-get reusable instead of single-use razors.
  18. Liquid hand soaps in plastic containers-get a few reusable, decorative containers and refill them.
  19. Disposable diapers-consider changing to cloth.
  20. Juice boxes- although easy and convenient these boxes could take 300-400 years to decompose in landfills and they are not recyclable. Reusable bottles are the way to go.

Don’t forget to recycle. Such simple ways to make every day earth day!

December 9th, 2010

10 Ways to Green Up Your Holidays

The Holidays undoubtedly challenge our “greenness”.  Reduce, reuse and recycle can get pushed aside while we succumb to overeating, overspending and overdoing. With some effort it is possible for the holidays and a green lifestyle to coexist. There are a few simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint while enjoying all that the holidays have to offer.

HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO HELP YOU CELEBRATE IN THE GREEN:

  1. BUY LOCAL Support the little local business rather than the big box store.  Go for gifts that don’t travel far to get under your tree.  Head to a thrift or antique shop for a unique gift with a back-story.

    Photo used under Creative Commons from Jay Bock

  2. SUPPORT COMPANIES THAT GIVE BACK Do a little bit of leg work before buying-look at the company’s mission statement and see if it jives with you.  Some companies give a percentage of their proceeds to charity, others are generous with their employees.  Its all around good to know where your purchases are coming from.
  3. GREENER HOLIDAY CARD OPTIONS Where do all those holiday cards end up?  In the garbage-unless you are like me and love to look at them a year down the road. Time to make the switch to a greener option such as an eCard.   For more green holiday card suggestions check out Green Talk.

    Photo used under Creative Commons from Shimelle Laine

  4. WRAPPING PAPER AND RIBBON I know they look pretty-but all that paper and all those ribbons end up in the trash.  Use and reuse what you already have in your house. Here is a very cool way to make bows from magazine pages and chip bags.
  5. CUT BACK Reevaluate the gifts you “need” to buy.  Maybe a name draw would work rather than buying a gift for every adult in your family.  It would ease the stress, cost less and probably be more thoughtful.
  6. VOLUNTEER Nothing will help you feel the holiday spirit more than helping someone in need.  There are volunteer opportunities all over-check out VolunteerMatch for all sorts of suggestions in your community.
  7. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF Gasp!  Who has time for that?  You do.  That might mean stopping for a cup of tea or coffee, taking a yoga class in the middle of the most crazy day, going to sleep early or taking a bath (bubble bath of course!).  It doesn’t mean eating fast food, skipping your workouts or pulling all-nighters to wrap those gifts.
  8. GREEN YOUR TREE Wondering which is greener-real or artificial?  There are lots of factors to take into consideration. If you opt for a real tree- try to get something locally and organically grown.  Artificial tree-make sure it was made in the US to reduce the amount of petroleum used to get it to you.  Also, if it is  made in the US it is less likely the tree was exposed to lead or other toxins.  How about renting a tree?  The tree comes to you in a pot and after the holidays it is planted. Now that’s green.
  9. PARTY WITH A PURPOSE Have your guests bring a canned food or other donation to your holiday party. Don’t use disposable plates, cups and flatware-use the real deal.
  10. HOLIDAY LIGHTS Most of you already have your lights hung and shinning- so for next year, save energy, and money by switching your old strands of incandescent bulbs with new LEDs (light emitting diodes). Make sure your lights are on a timer to save some additional pennies.

Got tips?  Do share.

*Top photo used under Creative Commons from Wendy Harmon

December 2nd, 2010

Green Battery Guide for the Holidays

Photo used under Creative Commons from Kasia

This year I had a few goals in mind when buying gifts for my family:

  • Keep it simple
  • Buy gifts without a lot of packaging materials
  • Use my reusable bags as much as possible
  • Try to buy things that don’t need batteries

The only major mishap was the shocking realization on Tuesday that Hanukkah started on Wednesday night. I had one day to pull it all together. Somehow I did it and we are ready for the 8 crazy nights.

During my speedy shopping experience, I was really focused on getting the job done.  In hindsight, I was able to stick to most of my goals.  I was surprisingly successful in finding gifts that don’t need batteries- with one exception, my son’s new watch.

Batteries are a necessity in so many ways, making our lives convenient and portable. With this need comes a tremendous amount of waste.  Americans toss almost 180,000 tons of batteries each year, most being single-use batteries.

The hard facts (battery truths)

  1. About three billion batteries are sold annually in the U.S. averaging about 32 per family.

    Photo used under Creative Commons from Anton Fomkin

  2. Batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and nickel, which can leak and contaminate the environment when they are thrown away.
  3. A car battery contains 18 pounds of lead and one pound of sulfuric acid.
  4. Household, disposable batteries come wrapped in plastic packaging-adding more plastic to our overflowing landfills.
  5. Don’t throw any used batteries in the garbage.  Save them for a hazardous waste pickup in your community, or take it to your local hazardous waste management facility (call your local Department of Public Works for the closest location to you).  You can check check with  Earth911 for a listing of local drop off locations.
  6. Your batteries come wrapped a lot of excess packaging-wrapped in plastic and cardboard-all of which end up in a landfill.

In most cases rechargeable batteries are the greener choice

  • Alkaline single-use  batteries are much safer than their pre-1997 version, but they still can’t be recycled. Rechargeable batteries can be recycled.
  • Rechargeable batteries are more costly upfront, but can be used reused multiple times.  They, like single-use batteries,  still contain heavy metals so be careful about disposal. Green Batteries is a great site for all your rechargeable battery and charger options.
  • Four rechargeable batteries can replace approximately 100 regular alkaline batteries.
  • For rechargeable battery recycling options check with Call2Recycle for a location near you.  California is  a special case when it comes to recycling batteries-requiring recycling of more types of batteries than other states-always ahead of the game, aren’t you California?
  • Recycling batteries keeps heavy metals out of landfills and the air. Recycling also saves resources because recovered plastic and metals can be used to make new batteries.

Photo used under Creative Commons from John Seb Barber

Disposable v. Rechargeable

It is impossible to avoid the need for batteries- cell phones, remotes, flashlights, hand-held games, cameras-the need is far and wide.  If some of your holiday gifts need batteries,  Earth911 suggests we think about what type of gadget will be using the batteries. If the device isn’t used often and doesn’t use a lot of power (i.e. remote) it might be best to use a single-use battery. If the gadget needs portable power on a regular basis (i.e. cell phone) go rechargeable.

Greenest Choice

Buy gifts that don’t need batteries.  If your gift requires batteries, try to include rechargeable batteries. If you are feeling really generous include the charger too.

Happy shopping!

If this post helped you please share it with your friends. And please become a Facebook Fan! Thanks!

This post is part of the 3rd Annual Holidays Carnival, Holidays Without the Hoopla, for  Green Moms Carnival hosted this month by Jenn of The Green Parent. Be sure to check out all the other great ideas for Holidays Without the Hoopla.

November 14th, 2010

Happy America Recycles Day-Celebrate by Using Less

Photo used under Creative Commons from Ed Kohler

That’s right; November 15th is America Recycles Day. Since 1997, communities across the country have celebrated this day as a way to raise awareness about the benefits of recycling and buying products made with recycled materials.
For many of us recycling is second nature-we place our recycle bins curbside on a weekly basis. Recycling is certainly an important part of living sustainably., however, a nagging question lingers:  Is recycling really the best option?  What about the other 2 R’s-reduce and reuse?  Perhaps recycling is a symptom of a much larger problem: the creation of an unbelievable amount of waste that then needs to be recycled.  Lloyd Alter of  Planetgreen.com says that the bigger issue “… is the energy made producing things that don’t last, replacing bottles that get recycled instead of refilled, picking up shopping bags that get tossed instead of reused.”

So who are the brains behind this nationally recognized day of recycling?   Among the many sponsors organizing this annual event  are bottled water companies, soda companies, garbage disposal companies, bottled juice companies, breweries and plastic lobbyists.  Notice a common theme among them?  Plastic and aluminum comprise a big chunk of their  livelihood. Their products come in bottles or cans or they lobby for plastic, plastic and more plastic.  Hmmmmm-no wonder they are advocating for a recycling day; more plastic and aluminum used means more of their products are being sold which translates into more money in their pockets.

There is a whole movement that goes way beyond promoting recycling called the  ‘zero waste’ movement.  The ‘zero waste‘ movement imagines a future where everything is a renewable resource and reusable so the amount of trash sent to landfills is minimal.

Photo used under Creative Commons from D'Arcy Norman

So can we, as a community, step beyond America Recycles Day and shoot for Zero Waste Day?  Here are some ideas on how you can  celebrate:

  • Don’t buy any single use items-at least for today and then work towards everyday.  No plastic bottles of water, no single serving snack bags, no coffee or tea in a plastic or paper disposable cup
  • Recommit to using reusable shopping bags
  • Try to buy products with little or no packaging-shop locally or buy food in bulk
  • Eat food and beverages using reusable cups, bowls, plates, utensils, and trays-no paper or plastic disposables
  • Refuse single-use straws in your drinks
  • Try to reuse something that you would normally thrown out
  • Support and compliment businesses that have a program in place to reduce, reuse or recycle

Bottom line:  Less is the new black. Use less today and everyday.

What are some other ways to celebrate Zero Waste Day?


Can’t get enough about zero waste?  Here’s more to chew on:

Turn America Recycles Day into Zero Waste Day

Is Recycling the Most Important Part of a Zero Waste Life?

November 12th, 2010

RESULTS OF THE ROTORCAPS GIVEAWAY

A big THANK YOU to everyone that entered the ROTORCAPS pendant GIVEAWAY.

The contest closed late last night and the random drawing was held-thank you to my husband for his phenomenal random drawing skills.

Are you ready for the winner?  Drum roll please……….Kristina!!! Kristina has been notified by email and her pendant will be delivered to her shortly.  Here is the actual pendant Kristina won-from one of my favorite eco-friendly breweries, New Belgium Brewery.

Be sure to subscribe to Groovy Green Livin by RSS feed or EMAIL to get info on future giveaways.

Please don’t forget to check out Jen’s ROTORCAPS site for all her recycled creations.

November 2nd, 2010

Groovy Green Livin GIVEAWAY and Product Review: Rotorcaps

“In trash we shall find treasure”.  That’s the tagline for a super cool company that recycles bottlecaps collected from Philadelphia bars and transforms them into unique pieces of jewelry.  Rotorcaps turns bottlecaps into pendants, earrings and cufflinks.

Jen Roder is the superstar behind these amazing pieces.  Jen has been making jewelry for most of her life.  She studied fine arts in college and majored in metals.  She is a carpenter and woodworker by trade and uses salvaged and recycled materials whenever possible.

Jen tells us that “Rotorcaps are made with materials from everyday life that would normally end up in the trash. My aim is to transform these materials into jewelry for adornment and quirky personal expression. It is also to get people excited about recycling and the idea that we can look at these items in a different way and see that there is beauty and value in them. I collect bottle caps from local bars here in Philly. I save cans and tins – pretty much anything that is printed on metal will do. Most importantly though, Rotorcaps are about fun!”

There is no question that Jen has succeeded-she has handcrafted jewelry that encourages people to see value in the things we throw away.  Her jewelry is eye-catching, interesting and whimsical. She is inspired by her interest in common symbols found in mainstream advertising. Jen has found that by removing the symbol from the context of an everyday bottle cap, she transforms the meaning into a personal icon, to be celebrated by the individual.

Time for the GIVEAWAY!

One lucky Groovy Green Livin reader will win one of Rotorcaps sylin’ pendants!  Rotorcaps was kind enough to send me an ultra groovy pendant for review and GIVEAWAY! The pendant has already been selected and the winner will be thrilled and surprised-the pendant to the right is only an example, not the actual prize.

Here are the rules for entry:

You must complete ALL FOUR STEPS to qualify {please don’t forget to leave your e-mail address in the comment so I can notify you if you win}:

  1. ‘Like’ Groovy Green Livin on Facebook-let me know if you aren’t on Facebook
  2. Follow @Groovygreenlivi on Twitter-if you don’t have a Twitter account let me know
  3. Subscribe to Groovy Green Livin via RSS feed or Email
  4. Answer this in the comment section below: Which Rotorcaps pendant do you hope to win? Hint-you will have to go to the Rotorcaps website to check them all out.  In your comment also mention that you have completed steps one, two and three.

For Additional Chances to Win – Please leave separate comments to let me know you have done any of the following:

  • Tweet this post
  • Like Rotorcaps on Facebook
  • Share this post on Facebook
  • E-mail this post to a friend

Giveaway ends on Thursday, November 11, 2010.  The winner will be announced November 12 on Groovy Green Livin’s Home Page and contacted by email. You must have a US shipping address to win.

Good luck!

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I like to make noise and stir the pot especially when an issue hits home and effects the health of our families. Join me as I make some noise and share along the way tips for living a green and healthy life. Read more.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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