Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Scrap That Smell







Plastic Bags & Film
Plastic Containers
Yard Debris

Monday, March 30, 2015

More Flowers In Less Space: Seedballz Plant Seeds Of Hope


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Coffee Grounds as Fertilizer?


Because You Asked: How Can I Use Coffee Grounds as Fertilizer?

Coffee grounds definitely should go back in the ground, but what about potted plants?

Dear Recyclebank,
I tried adding used coffee grounds to my house plants and had a mold issue. What did I do wrong? Also, can I use the actual coffee as fertilizer?
-Dawn R., Madison, WI

Coffee grounds are an excellent addition to compost piles and outdoor gardens, but they can be tricky when it comes to indoor container gardening. When mold appears on grounds in a compost pile, it is eventually consumed by bacteria and turned into compost — no big deal. In an indoor setting, mold is unsightly and can pose hazards to human health. Fortunately, there are a few strategies you can take to successfully add grounds to your indoor plants.
  • Reduce the amount and/or frequency of watering. A common reason for mold appearing on potted soil is excessive moisture. You may want to let the soil dry out a bit before adding grounds, especially if the grounds are already damp.
  • If applying to the surface of the soil, layer the grounds thinly. Grounds can be compacted, retaining moisture and preventing aeration. This can result in an ideal environment for mold growth.
  • Try mixing the grounds in with the top layer of soil. The variable particle size helps prevent compaction, thus improving drainage.
As for using the coffee itself as fertilizer, there seems to be little scientific evidence confirming its benefits but plenty of anecdotal evidence in the positive. Coffee is rather acidic, which can be beneficial to plants that thrive in acidic soil. However, it’s probably still a good idea to dilute any coffee you’re adding.

Oregon State University Extension Service
University of Illinois Extension

Saturday, March 28, 2015

7 Must-Have Tools in My Spring Cleaning Arsenal

Home & Garden

The List: 7 Must-Have Tools in My Spring Cleaning Arsenal

Green your spring cleaning with this roundup of essential products and tools.

I love the idea of spring cleaning, a chance to refresh the whole house after being cooped up all winter, a chance to declutter for the upcoming summer, a much-needed deep-clean where I don’t take any of my usual cleaning shortcuts.
While I used to associate the smell of a clean house with that bleach-y, fake-lemons smell of my cleaning products, now I know better. A clean house smells like, well, nothing. To get there I use earth-friendly cleaning products, plus tools that don’t get thrown out after a few uses and plenty of elbow grease (After all, if a product promises to eat away at the most stubborn stains with no scrubbing, doesn’t it make you wonder what those chemicals are doing to the air quality or to our waterways when it goes down the drain?).
Take a peek at what’s inside my cleaning caddy. And if you’ve got a favorite eco-friendly product, we’d love to hear about it! Be sure to share your favorites in the comments at the end of the story.

  1. Laundry baskets and big cardboard boxes. My first step in cleaning up is to do a sweep of the room with a laundry basket and cardboard box in tow. Into the laundry basket goes anything that belongs in another part of the house. Into the box goes anything that I can purge from the house, when I’m done cleaning I’ll sort through the box for what I can sell, what I can donate, and what I can recycle.

  1. Microfiber towels. Paper towels are super-convenient and sanitary, no doubt about it. But if you’ve ever kept track of just how many you use during a typical deep-cleaning session, you’re probably well aware of how wasteful they are. (And if you want numbers, take a look at the sobering stats assembled by PeopleTowels, a company that makes reusable personal hand towels) To try to clean without them, I’ve invested in a stack of microfiber cleaning cloths from my local warehouse club. They’re great for wiping and washing all sorts of surfaces, either dry or damp, with or without a cleaning solution, and I don’t have to worry about wasting them. At the end of my cleaning session, I just throw them all in the washing machine – they’re good for hundreds of washes. Just make sure not to use bleach or fabric softener, and to air-dry them, to maintain their “magic” cleaning properties.

  1. White vinegar. Vinegar is as effective as many chemical cleansers at destroying bacteria and removing mineral deposits. I love that a gallon of it costs a fraction of a small bottle of specialty cleanser. The Vinegar Institute has a roundup of how to use vinegar in a wide range of cleaning applications. I put it in a spray bottle to use around the house. Just be warned — vinegar can’t be used everywhere and can damage certain surfaces.

  1. Bath Stone Cleaning Block. While I used to use gritty, chemically harshcleansers to do the dirty work in my bathroom and kitchen, now I’ve discovered a much more sustainable solution. The Bath Stone Cleaning Block from Earthstone is made from glass recovered from landfills, and it works on mold/mildew, soap scum, and hard water deposits on porcelain and tile. The company also makes versions for the kitchen, for the grill, and for the swimming pool.

  1. A green all-purpose cleaner that actually works. Going green is frustrating when you find that the products you use, no matter how good for the environment, aren’t doing the same job as their chemical counterparts. Do some research and experimenting until you find products that work the way they should — don’t worry, they’re out there! One to try: Sun and Earth All-Purpose Spray Cleaner, which is free of petroleum, dyes, perfumes, and other detrimental ingredients. To find others, the Environmental Working Group is an excellent resource.

  1. Concentrated, nontoxic cleaning products. I’ve recently discovered the joy of concentrated cleaning products. They’re lighter to lug home from the supermarket and take up less space in my cabinets, so imagine the resources they save in transportation and packaging materials. My first experience with concentrated cleansers was the excellent Shaklee line; I still don’t understand how it’s possible that just 1/4 teaspoon added to 16 ounces of water in a spray bottle makes such an effective all-purpose cleaner. All I know is that the bottle I bought 7 years ago is just now running low. I’m also fascinated by the IQ line of coconut-derived cleaning products; the refill cartridges are just 3.5 inch tubes and will turn a spray bottle of water into a powerful cleanser.

  1. A vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. A good quality vacuum cleaner will improve your indoor air quality by cutting down on the amount of dust in the air. Health has a roundup of some of the best vacuums — just be sure to empty the dust canister regularly and change or clean the filter as frequently as the manufacturer advises.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Ideal Bedroom For Green Sleep

Designing The Ideal Bedroom For Green Sleep

Although many of us tend to focus on living areas when designing and remodeling, the bedroom is actually one of the most important spaces for your health - and one where you likely spend the majority of your time indoors.
Think about it. When you sleep, your body is renewing, repairing, healing and growing and since you spend over one-third of the day here, indoor pollution can make a big impact. The quality of sleep you get at night also affects your physical and mental health, energy, work, mood and more.
By focusing on a few critical factors, you can ensure your new sleep space delivers healthy, green sleep great for your family and planet earth.

Laying Down the Right Foundations

 bamboo flooring
Eco-friendly bamboo flooring. Image courtesy Hugger Industries.
Floors and walls are the critical foundational components of every room. In the bedroom, they should contribute to healthy indoor air and limit potential allergens that can steal sleep.
Employing non-carpeted flooring can help cool down your room and also prevents allergens like dirt, dust mites, dander and more from taking up residence. While it may be a major overhaul for an existing space, healthy flooring can improve your home's eco-friendliness greatly.
Opt for certified sustainably-grown or reclaimed hardwood, eco-friendly bamboo, tile made with recycled content, or cork flooring. Concrete can also be finished in a wide variety of ways. Choose sealants, stains, finishes and polishes with eco-friendly ingredients and ultra-low (or zero) VOC certifications.
If you can’t get comfortable with the idea of hard floors throughout the bedroom, consider a low-pile rug. Materials like recycled nylon, wool, sisal, cotton or jute paired with low-VOC padding and dyes can make eco-friendly floor coverings -- just don’t forget to vacuum regularly.
For your walls, paint is certainly the most popular option and there are quite a few low and no-VOC, green-friendly interior paints on the market. Reclaimed woods, metal panels and eco-friendly wallpaper (yes, it’s a thing) are other options for more creative folk. For ground-up builds, don’t forget to consider insulation options as well.

Choosing Wiser Windows and Lighting

After you've laid the groundwork for your bedroom, the next thing to look at is lighting. Windows open up a space and provide eco-friendly lighting by day, but don’t forget about practicality.
  • Ensure windows are Energy Star-certified to optimize energy efficiency.
  • Next, think about placement. Light at night is bad for sleep, so windows should be easy to cover, especially those facing the sunrise. Incorporate low-emissions window tinting, light blocking shades or thick drapes for a dream-worthy sanctuary.
  • For indoor lighting, choosing LED or CFL bulbs brings greater energy efficiency than incandescents.
  • One helpful idea is to use lamps with dimmers or have your electrician install dimmer switches so you can keep evening lighting low - and easy on the eyes.
  • Some LED bulbs even have smart features with app controls for light color and brightness.
  • Rather than leaving lights on all night, try motion-activated hall or under-the-bed lights to find your way to the bathroom if needed without affecting sleep or adding to energy use.
  • If you find yourself falling asleep before you have the chance to turn off lights or appliances, another eco-friendly option is using timers on outlets or connectivity with smart home systems.

Keeping Your Room Cool

Ceiling fan
Ceiling fan. Image courtesy of m anima
In addition to light, climate is another important consideration of bedroom design. Cool temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees are considered ideal for sleep, but running A/C units and heaters all of time can use a lot of energy.
Installing an overhead fan is a solid investment for any eco-friendly space. Using a fan can definitely cut down your energy usage while still keeping you cool at night. Efficient electric fans can also provide air circulation if you don’t want to install a ceiling fan. Set the fan blow in the direction of the bed, but aim it away from your face if the air bugs you.
For new homes or remodels, installing a programmable thermostat can be a big help with energy costs. If you are smart about how you program them, these thermostats will save you money, energy and the hassle of turning the A/C up and down. Plan it to set moderate temperatures in the evening, switching to cooler temperatures around bedtime and when you’ll be asleep.
Installing screened windows in the bedroom will also allow you to let cool, fresh air in on temperate evenings. Another eco-friendly tip is to design your bed with layers of blankets during the winter to accommodate cooler temperatures, and swap bedding out for lighter layers during warmer months.

Reduce Sleep-Stealing Distractions

The other key area to keep in mind when planning the structure and design of your sleep space is removing or accounting for potential sleep stealers.
  • If you live in a noisy city, plan to place your bed away from exterior walls.
  • Heavy shades, well-installed windows or a white noise machine can help reduce noise pollution. If neighbors are the problem, a strategically placed bookcase, acoustic wall panels, or eco-friendly rugs can help.
  • Electronics like televisions, tablets and smartphones are receiving a lot of scrutiny lately. Studies have shown that the light they emit actually affects circadian rhythms and melatonin release in addition to mental distraction. Perhaps your bedroom plans don’t need that cable or satellite connection after all!
  • For those who must have their tech, consider a TV armoire that conceals everything at night. Setting up a charging station outside of bedrooms can help keep phones and tablets out of the way at night.
We've gone over quite a bit, but we’ve really only scratched the surface of designing an eco-friendly bedroom here. Besides the flooring, lighting and climate of your room, the bedroom furniture, bedding fabrics and even your mattress play a role in the eco-friendly nature of your sleep space.
Choosing products that avoid harsh chemicals helps keep indoor air clean, and opting for materials with less ecological impact provide peace of mind. Drawing in environmental sleep hygiene factors like light, temperature and even noise can make all the difference when creating a peaceful retreat
As you embark on your next remodel or dream home design, keep in mind that the bedroom should be functional, practical and healthy in addition to stylish and attractive.
What eco-friendly must-haves are on your list for your next home or remodel? What do you think makes the biggest difference in bedroom design?
Feature image courtesy of Michael Holler

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Reusing Paper

Paper’s an important and dominant item in the recycling process: It accounts for more than half of all recyclables collected in the U.S. and carries a recycling rate of 65 percent, according to the EPA. In fact, 70 percent of newspaper and 91 percent of corrugated cardboard were recovered in 2012. Paper products are also used in surprising ways, such as making hospital gowns, car insulation and masking tape. Yet paper can’t be recycled indefinitely. After five to seven times of being recycled, the fibers become too short to bind to new paper. So recycling new paper items becomes that much more important. You may already know about standard recycling items like newspaper, magazines and cereal boxes, but there is a list of surprising paper items you can also recycle come pick-up day. A good rule of thumb is that if it’s made of paper, it can probably be recycled. That means, according to the EPA, don’t overlook: Shredded paper, as long as it’s an appropriate size for your collectors and does not contain other items like plastic (you may need to check with your local collectors) Mixed paper like junk mailers, paperboard, telephone books and catalogs High-grade paper like envelopes, letterhead and copier paper Shavings and clippings from print shops Since paper can be used for so many products, yet can only be recycled so many times, it’s a good practice to have some sort of system in your home for recycling and reusing paper. Here are some helpful tips for recycling paper in your home: Keep a shredder that shreds junk mail and confidential documents into an appropriate size to be recycled.Get double use out of your paper and save money. Use both sides of the paper, especially when printing or taking notes. Similarly, keep a scrap paper box for jotting down notes (usually the other side of used paper).Remember to reuse newspaper where you can, such as lining a pet’s cage.Keep old magazines and newspapers for craft projects. An unconventional, but still viable, option is to make your own paper out of used paper. This link here gives a great tutorial on how to do so. It’s a messy project involving a mixing bowl and some starch, so it’ll be great to do with kids (and shredded paper). Yet another option is to reuse paper in upcycle projects. You’d be shocked what you can make with some old paper (everything from jewelry to home décor items). You’ll have a fun, crafty project you can display for use for years to come, without throwing paper into a recycling process that gives it a more limited lifespan. Below are 20 ideas to get you started: Folded Book Art It’s easy to forget that books can be upcycled. There’s a lot of different ways to fold books into artistic décor items. Go here to see a cute little book hedgehog that would look great on a mantle. Mod Podge Coffee Table with Paper Items Paper items and Mod Podge (a type of decoupage glue) always go well together. Go here to see a coffee table that was personalized with maps, postcards and photos. I’ve also seen this done with classic comic books and newspaper headlines. Paper Mache Crafts with Kids Paper mache crafts are a perfect use for old paper. It’s a fun, sticky project to do with kids. Go to Ultimate Paper Mache for some great recipes and projects. Magazine Box Rolled magazines also make some colorful, sturdy craft items. Go here to find a photo of a knickknack box someone made entirely out of rolled magazine pages. You’ll just need a lot of magazines, patience and Mod Podge glue. Magazine Bowl Rolled magazines also make some great bowls. Go here to see a picture of such a project. That one was made from old magazines and posters (another often-forgotten item to upcycle). Paper Wreath Old paper also makes great material for a colorful and uniquely textured wreath that can be used year-round. Go here for a tutorial on how to make one using old magazine pages. Magazine Wall Art Rolled magazines also work well as flat wall art. See an example here. Collage Made of Old Books Old books can be used in a number of creative, artistic ways. Ekaterina Panikanova makes them into inspired collages. Pencil Holder If you have some old paper, try making a pencil holder. The one here uses rolled magazines to make a unique looping pattern. Clock You can even make a clock out of rolled old magazines. Go here to find some creative takes on upcycled magazine clocks. Picture Frame Consider using old magazines, newspapers and other colorful paper to make picture frames. The one here uses rolled newspaper spirals to form a unique pattern. Basket A creative project would also be to weave some magazines strips into a square basket. You can find the tutorial here. Wall Art Here’s another fine example of some wall art. This crafter used loops of old paper to form a flower pattern. Paper Flowers When in doubt, you can always make some paper flowers. Attaching them to wire stems makes a great centerpiece. Here’s a list of some great tutorials for various flower styles. Paper Lamp You can even make some unique lamps using old paper. Here’s an example of a paper lamp made by a professional artist. For a more simple design, here’s a video tutorial on how to make paper lanterns of your own. Jewelry You can also make some unique earrings and bracelet charms. The tutorial here shows you how. Shoes If you really want to go nuts with it, you can make some sandals out of old newspaper. Here’s an example of some shoes that look surprisingly stylish. Pencils Ok, you can’t make pencils out of old paper at home. But you can decorate them by wrapping them in paper and gluing with Mod Podge. Here’s a good example. These have a varnish finish to them. Purse This project makes great use of an old daily crossword paper for a new purse design. The newspaper was fortified, then placed between two layers of vinyl. Figures You can even make some sculptures out of recycled newspaper. This dog statue is a great example. The sky’s the limit when you get creative. Tell me about your favorite ways to upcycle paper in the comments below. About the author Michelle Lovrine Honeyager is a freelance writer living in Southeast Wisconsin. She’s written for a variety of publications about sustainability, DIY and green living. She’s passionate about reducing her carbon footprint and creating a more sustainable future. Learn more about Michelle Lovrine Honeyager - See more at: http://1800recycling.com/2015/03/unique-ways-to-recycle-neglected-paper-items#sthash.tXm0GeMZ.dpuf

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Recycling Food Packaging

You may not realize how much food packaging you throw out on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. But take a second look and make some small adjustments to reduce your waste. If you were to pile up all of the disposable food packaging you and your family have used in the past year, how big do you think that pile would be? In addition, to take-away Styrofoam containers and salad bar clamshells, there are also the cereal boxes, the shrink-wrap on the juice boxes and the cardboard egg cartons. Food packaging is all around us, and nearly always ends up in landfills. In fact, nearly one-third of all domestic waste is food packaging! Not every piece of food packaging has to end up in the garbage can – in fact, many different types of containers can be recycled or even reused. Glass bottles, aluminum cans and even those old egg cartons can become new again. There are steps that you can take as a consumer in order to be more conscious that will not only help the environment but also could also help to keep money in your pocket. What exactly CAN be recycled? Most people know plastic water bottles and glass jars are recyclable, but what about stuff that walks the line between the blue bin and the trash can? Examples could include somewhat greasy pizza boxes, plastic grocery bags or old pots and pans. These items seem to be made of recyclable materials, but they still make us think twice. The easiest way to determine what is recyclable is to contact your local municipal recycling service. Rules often differ from one city to another – and those rules can be a bit confusing. This website offers information on what you can recycle in your individual community when you search by city. Some cities will allow many different food packaging in their recycling centers, but they may make you sort by materials. A good rule of thumb to follow when asking yourself if an item is recyclable is to consider what was previously in it. If a glass jar that once contained your favorite vegetable juice has been rinsed properly, it could potentially pass off as new. However, some dirty plastic wrap that came off of the two-year old cheese block in the back of the refrigerator? That needs to be tossed. What about items that are reusable? Many items that you would toss in the recycling can also be repurposed for crafts, home décor, gifts or many other activities. Take that smaller glass jar originally meant for mayo, dress it up with some ribbon and voila – you have a beautiful vase! Those hundreds of toilet paper tubes that get tossed every year could easily be turned into children’s seasonal craft products – think a candle during Lent or a monster at Halloween. In addition, Pinterest has about a million life hacks that include TP tubes – check them out now! Whether you want to do the crafting or not, the materials in your recycling bin may be valuable to someone. If you have young children in preschool or elementary, offer your empty milk jugs and oatmeal containers to the teachers. Most educators of young children rely on their own money to garner supplies for their classroom, so they are able to come up with a lot of fun ideas for crafts and games with nontraditional items. A cereal box and rubber bands turns into a cool banjo, while leftover (clean) coffee filters can be made into snowflake decorations. What can my family do to lower our waste output? As many consumers begin to understand the magnitude their shopping and eating habits have on the environment, the demand for more “eco-friendly” packaging has soared. Many beverage makers brag about the fact that they made their bottle caps smaller, thus reducing waste. Other brands have turned to introducing products partially made from recycled materials – even if it’s just a fraction. Buying these products may make you feel good as a citizen of earth, but there are even more things you can do besides recycling and buying that 100% biodegradable toilet paper. The first and easiest thing you and your family can do to reduce waste output is to simply create less waste. Buy reusable glass or rubber food storage containers and utilize them instead of plastic wrap or sandwich bags. Invest in quality reusable water bottles and coffee mugs instead of constantly creating a sea of flimsy plastic or Styrofoam to-go cups. Challenge your family to reduce, reuse and recycle in order to see who makes the most garbage. At the end of the week, the person with the least amount of trash in their bin wins a special prize. You can also help eliminate food packaging and cut carbon emissions by creating your own garden. Whether you live in a rural area or the inner city, there are plenty of easy ways to source your own fruits and vegetables. If gardening just isn’t your thing, you can also subscribe to a community supported agriculture (CSA) program. A subscription will get you a weekly box of fresh fruits and vegetables from a garden right in your own neighborhood or a farm nearby. Most offerings are organic and grown with the intention of full sustainability. Use this online guide to find a CSA near you! While landfills continue to pile up with American’s dirty paper plates and half-full soda bottles, it is more important than ever to be eco-conscious. Some local governments are taking notice of the environmental hazards of certain food packaging, with outright bans on plastic shopping bags and Styrofoam take-away containers popping up across the globe. While the corporations and municipalities work everything out, you can still do your part to reduce the amount of food packaging that ends up in the dump. Remember to get educated about recycling practices in your area, as most cities are different. Many stores will now take unwanted shopping bags or other random items that many recycling centers will not take. Bring your own bags and use glass containers to store leftovers or school lunches. Why not try your hand at growing a few tomato plants in the back yard? You’ll get a tasty and fresh snack while at the same time creating ZERO packaging! About the author Rachelle Gordon is a Minneapolis-based writer and life enthusiast. She enjoys writing on subjects that relate to social justice, personal finance and wellness. When not writing, Rachelle likes playing with her dog Fonzie and collecting LEGO sets. Learn more about Rachelle Gordon - See more at: http://1800recycling.com/2015/03/food-packaging-recyclable-reusable-waste#sthash.qAs4UddA.dpuf

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Water Conservation in the Laundry Room

Up and down the West Coast, residents are facing drought conditions and searching for ways to conserve water. One of the biggest water gulpers? The laundry room! I have always been concerned about conserving water, but it has become even more of an issue since we recently moved our family from Fargo, ND, to Fresno, CA. In Fargo, we were always worried about having too much water. The Red River flows south to north, so when the spring thaw begins south of that region (and has not begun in the North), the result is a river that frequently floods the area. In Fresno - and most of California - the drought conditions are dire, especially for the farmers who grow a significant portion of the food we buy across the country. It is a beautiful area surrounded by views of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and groves of citrus, olives, almonds, grapes and much more. More than 300 crops are grown in California’s Central Valley, so you can well imagine the importance water and the consequences such water scarcity could have not only for the farmers but for the entire country. Accordingly, I have upped my game in the water conservation department and would like to share some tried and true tips for the laundry room. Use cold or lukewarm water for your wash cycle instead of hot, except for those unmentionable loads and clothes that have greasy stains. It uses more energy to heat the water.Only wash full loads of laundry when possible but, if you are washing a smaller load, make sure you are using the appropriate water-level setting.According to Energy Star, most front-loading washing machines are energy- and water-efficient and use just over 20 gallons a load, while most top-loading washing machines, unless they are Energy Star-rated, use around 40 gallons a load. So, if you are shopping around for a new washing machine, look for a model that is energy- and water-efficient, it will save you money in the long run and conserve valuable natural resources immediately.Repair leaky faucets. This is a tip for everywhere in and outside your home, not just the laundry room. If you are renting a home or apartment, it is important to report leaks to management as soon as possible. Even when I use a restroom in a restaurant or store, I report leaks when I notice them and hope they will be fixed (and others will report them as well).Do not put clothes in your hamper unless they need to be washed. This is a tip I am constantly reminding my daughters to heed. They are notorious for trying something on, deciding not to wear it and, instead of folding it back up, they throw it in their clothes hamper. This means you end of doing more laundry than is actually necessary.One of my favorite water-saving tips that I have never had the opportunity to do is have a plumber re-route my greywater to irrigate trees and plants rather than having it go down into the sewer line. This tip is courtesy of a fantastic site full of tips for conserving water, Water Use It Wisely. Obviously, you would need to check with your city and county to make sure you are allowed to do this in your area or if you need to go through a special approval process. I recently drove by a golf course in Los Angeles that had a banner proclaiming that they maintained the course with recycled water, so I am pretty sure I would be able to do this in my area. As I learn more about water issues in my new home state, I will be sure to write more tips on how to conserve water. Here’s one to leave you with: Don’t keep the water running when you are brushing your teeth! About the author Wendy Gabriel is a freelance eco-writer based in Fargo, ND. She is the founder of MyGreenSide.org and tweets at @MyGreenSide. Wendy is a wife to an amazing man and a mother of two awesome little girls. Everything she does is seen through this lens. Her passion for sustainability is a gift from her parents, who were green long before it was "cool to be green." You can hear Wendy each Tuesday when she brings Simple Tips for Green Living to "The Christopher Gabriel Program." Stream the segment at approximately 8:20 a.m. (CST) at WDAY.com. Learn more about Wendy Gabriel - See more at: http://1800recycling.com/2015/03/how-can-you-conserve-water-in-laundry-room-#sthash.qtLihobZ.dpuf

Monday, March 23, 2015

Lost at Sea

more about recycling

Featured Post Image

Lost At Sea: Plastic

Did you know that there's a trash island in the middle of the ocean? How can you stop your plastics from littering sea waters?
- See more at: http://1800recycling.com/#sthash.3iuwZ0vm.dpuf

Sunday, March 22, 2015

I want to be recycled


Saturday, March 21, 2015

5 Ways to Be a Greener Cat Owner

The List: 5 Ways to Be a Greener Cat Owner

Even the pickiest cat won’t object to reducing waste and upcycling.

My family recently got a new addition — well, actually two new additions. We adopted a pair of kittens a month or so ago. It had been awhile since we’d had a pet, and we found ourselves confounded by all the choices that we had to make about food and accessories and kitty litter and toys, and how expensive everything is! What’s more, wandering up and down the aisles and aisles of products in our local pet superstore, I couldn’t help but wonder about how unnecessary many of these things are, and what their impact is on the environment.

So we set out to outfit our new arrivals in a more sustainable, eco-responsible way. Here are some of the choices we’ve made:

  1. We said yes to hand-me-downs. Cats are finicky creatures, and the minute word got out that we were getting kittens, many friends offered up stuff: the food their cat turned their nose at, a half-full bag of litter from someone who switched types, a climbing structure from a household whose cat was too old and lazy to bother with it. We saved a lot of money, were able to try out some brands of litter and food without any investment, and our kittens loved the climbing structure that my friend was relieved to get rid of. If you’re getting a pet or even if you already have one, ask around, post on neighborhood message boards, or otherwise spread the word. You’ll be surprised by how many people might have pet supplies they’re looking to unload because it didn’t work out or they no longer have the pet.

  1. We made our own toys. The pet superstore in our neighborhood has an entire aisle devoted to pet toys. But you know what our cats like best? A crumpled up piece of paper. You can avoid spending money and creating demand for resources when you use stuff already around the house. They’ll enjoy it just as much! A toilet paper roll can be repurposed in many ways, for instance, and I was able to make use of the many odds and ends of yarn from my knitting stash, most of which are too small to make something useful for myself, to knit some adorable toys.

  1. We make smart choices about our pet food. Initially I chose canned cat food over the pouch kind, since cans are recyclable but the pouches are not. But then I learned that the pouches require less energy and resources to make, and they are more efficient to store and ship. Both materials have environmental trade-offs, but for now I’ll stick to the recyclable cans. As for the food itself, we seek out pet food that’s minimally processed, with a short-ish ingredient list, just like the people food I buy.

  1. We choose eco-friendly cat litter. I learned some disturbing things about litter: that the silica dust in it can cause respiratory issues for both felines and humans, and that the clay component is often strip-mined. But since the last cat I owned, there are more options now than before for more responsible kitty litter. I’m partial to Yesterday’s News, which is made from — you guessed it — old newspaper.

  1. We upcycled other supplies. While I was tempted by the cute fish-shaped cat food dishes at the pet store, we went to a thrift store instead and upcycled secondhand items. We found some colorful bowls as well as a vinyl placemat that my daughters decorated with the cats’ names and little pictures of birds and fish. Since the kittens seemed to like lying on my clothes anyway, I made them a bed from an old sweater. And my husband is planning to build a cat tower from scraps of wood left over from a building project, as well as some carpet remnants that a friend gave us.

Cat owners, how are you a sustainable pet parent? (And dog owners, feel free to chime in too. Your answers may be used in another story about being a green dog owner!) Share your ideas in the comments below.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Waste Management 
Play your own basketball game by shooting those empty cans into your recycling bin. Let the MADNESS begin!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Exemption from emissions tests for newer cars and trucks starts April 1

Exemption from emissions tests for newer cars and trucks starts April 1

RALEIGH —Newer cars and light-duty trucks will no longer need emissions tests under a state law that takes effect on April 1.
Under the law, motor vehicles will no longer require emissions tests during their first three model years if they have fewer than 70,000 miles on their odometers. Cars and trucks already are exempted from tests during their first model year. The exemption saves car owners $16.40 per vehicle each year in counties where tests are required.
The General Assembly passed legislation calling for the changes in the emissions testing program during its 2012 session (Session Law 2012-199), but various state and federal actions had to take place before the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles, or DMV, could carry out the changes.
Those actions included: the adoption of rule changes by the state Environmental Management Commission, demonstrations by the state Division of Air Quality, or DAQ, that the changes would not harm air quality, modifications to DMV’s vehicle inspection and enforcement system, and approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 
“We look forward to our continued partnership and teamwork with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and State Inspection stations as we roll out this exemption,” DMV Commissioner Kelly Thomas said. “This new initiative is another step in our efforts to improve customer service and convenience for North Carolina motorists.”
DAQ and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources worked closely with DMV to ensure that the changes would not degrade air quality in North Carolina.
“Our most recent research showed that North Carolina could exempt newer vehicles from emissions tests without making our air unhealthy to breathe,” DAQ Director Sheila Holman said. “Newer cars and trucks seldom fail the emissions tests during their first three model years.”
A vehicle’s age is determined by its model year, which is prominently displayed on the owner’s valid registration and the automobile emissions control label located in the engine compartment. All vehicles are still subject to the annual safety inspection.
A calculator for determining whether vehicles qualify for the exemption can be found at: http://www.ncair.org/motor/inspect/exemption.shtml . Questions and answers about the changes to the emissions testing program can be found at: http://www.ncair.org/motor/inspect/exemption_faq.shtml.
Emissions tests are required in 48 of the state’s 100 counties. In addition to a $13.60 annual fee for the safety inspection, the emissions test costs car owners an additional $16.40 per year. Savings to car owners from the emissions test exemption will total about $14 million per year.More information on air quality issues can be found at the DAQ website, www.ncair.org/. For more information about the vehicle inspection program or to determine which inspection is required for your vehicle, please visit the DMV website at http://www.ncdot.gov/dmv/vehicle/registration/inspection/ 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The National 4-H Council


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pinch Proof

St Patricks Day Environmental Sticker (Rectangular

Monday, March 16, 2015

St. Patrick’s Day Craft Project

St. Patrick’s Day Craft Project

St. Patrick's Day Sun Catcher
Do you have a preschool or elementary age child? This shamrock sun catcher is the perfect craft to make with them – all you need is a paper plate, green tissue paper, scissors, glue, green ribbon, and this printable shamrock template.
Then, follow the directions found on this blog, to create your own St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock Sun Catcher, and let’s hope we start seeing the sun a lot more after this very cold snowy winter! More sun = Melting snow!!!
Want to make your sun catcher even more beautiful? Before you cut out the shamrock decorate your paper plate with crayons, markers, pain or even glue and sparkles!
Don’t forget to post your photos of what you’ve created on our Facebook page! We can’t wait to see where your creativity takes you!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Greensboro's TE Connectivity plant earns coveted recognition for outstanding environmental efforts

Greensboro's TE Connectivity plant earns coveted recognition for outstanding environmental efforts

RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources today recognized the TE Connectivity Pegg Road plant in Greensboro as a 2014 Environmental Steward, one of only 21 facilities in North Carolina to earn the coveted award for a commitment to superior environmental performance.
“Companies like TE Connectivity show that economic success and environmental stewardship can go hand-in-hand,” said John C. Evans, deputy secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. “The plant’s demonstrated energy reductions, its work with the local community on recycling efforts, and solid waste reduction goals show the plant’s commitment to balancing the needs of the environment with the demands of business.”
Surrounded by plant executives and local dignitaries, Evans recognized officials with TE Connectivity for the plant’s commitment to reduce its environmental impact. TE Connectivity makes electrical connectors for the automotive industry.
Stewards, like TE Connectivity, must demonstrate environmental leadership through a commitment to exemplary environmental performance beyond what is required by regulations. Stewards represent the highest of three levels of recognition for environmental performance in the state’s Environmental Stewardship Initiative.
An external advisory board, which is appointed by the DENR secretary and directs the initiative, recommended the recognition for the TE Connectivity plant. The board said the plant earned status as an Environmental Steward for several reasons, including the plant’s compliance history and its mature ISO 14001 environmental management system that has been certified by a third party since 2003. The advisory board also recognized the facility for its commitment to send zero waste to the landfill and to work with the community on environmental education. The board also noted the plant’s ability to reduce its energy usage thanks to compressed air and heat loss improvements.
Michael Dupont, director for Environmental, Health and Safety, Transportation Solutions for TE Connectivity, praised the initiative, which began in 2002.
“Being a member will help us in our efforts to be a good corporate citizen, ensure a better environment, conserve natural resources and will result in long-term economic benefits for TE Connectivity,” Dupont said. “We are proud to be a member of the North Carolina DENR’s ESI."
For more information, visit the Environmental Stewardship Initiative’s website, http://www.ncesi.org or contact Angela Barger or Scott Fisterwith the N.C. Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service at 919-707-8126 or 919-707-8131 or esi@ncdenr.gov

Saturday, March 14, 2015

STEM Education & Activities for Preschoolers

Parenting Tips and Resources Newsletter
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STEM Education & Activities for Preschoolers

STEM Activities for Kids One of the newer educational terms that we see frequently in the news is STEM education. But what exactly is STEM education and is it appropriate for preschoolers?
STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math. STEM Education, a term initiated by the National Science Foundation, refers to an educational approach which integrates more than one of these disciplines. Science, technology, engineering, and math may seem like lofty subject matter for preschool children. In reality, preschoolers spontaneously engage in STEM activities indoors and out on a regular basis. With a little guidance from us, we can enhance children's opportunities to engage in STEM learning and develop their critical thinking skills.
While building with blocks, children can build bridges and ramps, incorporating engineering and math. They can add a technology component by researching these on the computer. Outdoors, children could help solve the problem of getting water to a garden they helped to plant, drawing on their science and engineering knowledge. Incorporating the use of children’s garden tools like rakes, shovels, and a wheelbarrow build on this activity to provide an even broader STEM experience.

STEM Activities for Kids

  • Go on a nature walk. A nature walk can be a great outdoor STEM activity for children.Take a reusable bag and encourage your child to collect interesting objects she sees like small round stones, leaves, seed pods, or flowers. When you get home, help her sort her treasures into categories, such as color, texture, size, and shape. Skills used: math and science
  • Do a cooking activity together. Cooking with children is another way to engage kids in learning at home. Look up an interesting recipe together online. Follow the recipe letting your child help measure and mix. Skills used: science, technology, and math
  • Build ramps to test which cars, balls, or marbles go the fastest. Use a board, sheet of cardboard, or small table with one side elevated to make a ramp. Try rolling a variety of objects, two at a time down the ramp to see which is fastest. Record your findings on a chart. Skills used: engineering and math
  • Set-up building activities with paper or plastic cups. Give a challenge such as, "How high can you make a tower of cups?" Measure each tower and record their height. Skills used: engineering and math
  • Explore the grocery store. With your child, purchase some fruits and vegetables that you have never tried before. Before cutting up the fruits and vegetables, have your child predict what will be inside. Then, with careful supervision, have your child help you cut up small pieces to try. Invite your family members to a tasting party. Make a graph that shows everyone's favorites. Skills used: science and math
  • Play with water. Water is a rich STEM material and water play activities is a great way to engage kids. Provide a basin of water outside so you don't have to worry about spills. Provide tools to experiment with like a turkey baster, empty dish detergent bottles, plastic measuring cups, etc. to fill and compare. Skills used: math and science
The possibilities for STEM education are endless. Children love to experiment, combine new substances, build, knock down, collect, sort, and have fun while learning. You were probably having your child do STEM activities at home and didn't know it. Look for additional opportunities to build STEM activities in your daily routine.
More on This Topic
- See more at: http://www.brighthorizons.com/family-resources/e-family-news/stem-education-activities-preschoolers/#sthash.yVLOzcOk.dpuf

Friday, March 13, 2015

Recycle Me

    It’s not “Goodbye” when you recycle your shampoo bottle. It’s “See you soon.”
  • Thursday, March 12, 2015

    Your Own Nest Egg

    Tuesday, March 10, 2015

    Where Does the Snow Go?

    By Krystle Vermes

    As numerous states across the U.S. continue to deal with huge amounts of snow, what are the environmental effects of plowing, collecting, de-icing?
    snow mounds.jpg
    If you live in a region that has several inches of snow fall each winter, you might be asking yourself, “What happens to all of it at the end of the season?” Understandably, it melts away as the sun becomes stronger, but where does it go while winter is still in session? How about after a big storm?

    What is Snow Farming?

    The phrase may be new to you if you don’t live in an area that receives an ample amount of snow, but it’s the norm in areas like New England. For example, the storms that hit Boston this season have made it the second snowiest winter on record with 99.9 inches as of February 2015.

    As a result of storms like Juno and Marcus, which dropped multiple ahfeet of snow on the city, plowers have been forced to turn to snow farms to handle the mess. But what exactly is a snow farm?

    A snow farm is a wide-open area where trucks can take piles of snow and dump them out of the way of the public. Snow farms, however, are not as picturesque as they might sound. These plots of land are often designated as necessary, meaning they may be an office building parking lot one day and an open city lot the next.

    Seeing these vast spaces is comforting to plowers who have trouble finding an area for the snow. However, snow farms filled up fast during the winter of 2015 for Boston. In turn, the city had to consider dumping snow into its harbor – a move that was frowned upon by environmentalists who were aware of the contamination risks.

    In the end, snow melters were able to reduce the amount of snow that was consuming existing farms, eliminating the need to dump a majority of it into the harbor.

    Melting Away the Problem

    While the sun is certainly a valuable tool when it comes to melting snow, it isn’t always enough to get rid of it, especially when it continues to fall from the sky. This is where melters come in, particularly during extremely snowy winters like the one that New England has seen.

    Melters are large generator-powered machines that use hot water to effectively melt away snow. The water is then typically allowed to flow into storm drains, which keeps it from refreezing. However, melters are not always a viable option, especially in cash-strapped locations. One machine costs an average of $200,000 and uses 60 gallons of fuel per hour, making it a money guzzler and an environmental concern.

    Mother Nature and Snow Melting

    Once the thermostat begins to rise, the official snow melting process begins – this is when Mother Nature takes over. However, there are stages of snow melting that go beyond early spring. Once the white stuff is gone on the ground, the melting is still happening -- you may just not see it every day.

    Air temperature and the intensity of the sun are the two primary factors that impact the melting of snow. However, there are other factors that can play a role in the process – rain, wind and heat absorption are some of the few. Snow melts from top to bottom as heat converts snow particles into water. Then, gravity eventually pulls the water into the ground.

    The beginning of the melting process is typically early spring. This is because daytime temperatures are warm enough for the snow to slightly melt. However, cool nighttime temperatures often slow down the process during this part of the year.

    As spring transitions into summer, the amount of water produced by melting snow reaches it peak. It’s during this time that local streams, rivers and creeks also speed up as a result of the excess water. By the time summer is in full swing, all of the low level snow is melted.

    Medium-to-high level snow continues to melt during this season. Summer is also the time when snow water begins to vaporize from the ground.

    Snow and Ice in Bodies of Water

    Cold temperatures and snow have a direct impact on bodies of water such as lakes, rivers and streams. For instance, the Great Lakes are known to freeze during the winter – but what happens to all of this ice and snow?

    Ice acts like a greenhouse on the surface of a lake, and as heat continues to penetrate the ice, the water below starts to warm. The ice and snow itself will begin to warm from the bottom, then work its way toward the top. As the warming continues, the eventually ice breaks apart.

    Snow Removal and the Environment

    Although the sun will likely help you remove snow over the course of the spring, there’s always the chance for a few more storms before winter ends. As you look to reduce your carbon footprint, keep the following tips in mind for snow removal.

    First, invest in environmentally friendly ice melt substitutes that reduce the impact of runoff chemicals in nearby bodies of water. The Environmental Protection Agency has a list of de-icing products that you may want to consider for your home.

    Next, think about using a snow blower that does not rely on diesel fuels. There are several battery, electric and hybrid power models now on the market that you can consider for your snow removal efforts. If you lack the financial means to purchase one of these items or are gung-ho about cutting your carbon footprint, opt for a good old shovel instead.

    Finally, see if there is a snow removal service in your area that uses green practices. If this is not an option, encourage your public works department to utilize environmentally friendly de-icers to make your community a greener place.

    While it can be challenging to deal with the complications of snow, there is always an eco friendly way to handle the matter. The next time you ask yourself, “Where does the snow go?” think about how you and your neighbors are currently getting rid of it. From here, you can strategize a way to cope with winter without sacrificing your local environment and wildlife.

    About the author

    Krystle Vermes is a professional writer, blogger and podcaster with a background in both online and print journalism. Her passions include everything tech, sports, and the paranormal. When she isn’t freelance reporting, she’s breaking news on her blog, GetSpooked.net, and podcasting. Krystle is a graduate of Suffolk University and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Print Journalism.
    Learn more about Krystle Vermes
    - See more at: http://1800recycling.com/2015/03/where-does-snow-go-look-at-its-disappearing-act-and-environmental-effects#sthash.WY7fky6C.dpuf

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