It's pretty well known that the U.S. could do better with its current recycling rate, which is just 34.5 percent. Recycling seems easy enough, but it's often a complicated and misunderstood issue that people can't agree on. Most of the glass, plastic, paper and metal that ends up in the trash can be recycled, but in the landfill it's just a lost resource. Learning more about waste and recycling can make a huge difference in the future of our environment.
Not Everyone Thinks Recycling Is Cost-Effective
Increasing our recycling rate to 75 percent could create 1.5 million permanent jobs. Producing items from recycled materials can reduce costs and pollution as well. However, some would argue that recycling isn't the most cost-efficient option to deal with waste. For example, in New York City it costs $300 more to recycle 1 ton of material than does to send it to the landfill. Regardless, promoting recycling and spreading facts about waste is important, since it can motivate people to consume fewer wasteful products in the first place.
Using Recycled Materials Consumes Less Energy
Processing virgin materials, rather than recycled materials, consumes a lot of energy. Take aluminum for example: Producing cans from recycled aluminum requires 95 percent less energy than creating them from new aluminum. Recycling just one aluminum can also saves enough energy to watch 3 hours of TV or listen to an entire album on your iPod.
Buying items made from recycled materials, especially metal, can help the environment even more. Many stainless steel bottle makers use virgin materials, which is extremely resource-intensive compared to bottles made from recycled steel that is widely available.
Some Materials Can Be Recycled Again And Again
Glass can be recycled and remanufactured indefinitely without losing its quality or wearing out. Steel, aluminum, copper and other metals are also endlessly recyclable. Paper can be recycled 5 to 7 times before its fibers become too short. Plastic can generally only be recycled once, but it's so versatile when recycled that it can be made into everything from fleece jackets to carpeting.
Food Waste Creates Greenhouse Gasses
35 million tons of food waste is disposed each year in the U.S. and about 95 percent of that is sent to the landfill or incinerated. In the landfill, decomposing food creates methane gas, which is one of the more potent greenhouse gasses contributing to climate change. A good way to reduce your impact is by buying less food in the first place, and donating what you don't use or composting what you can't use.
Textiles Can Be, But Rarely Are, Recycled
More than 11 million tons of recyclable textiles go to the landfill each year, which equates to roughly 70 billion t-shirts. Most people will donate clothing that they no longer need, which is a great way to keep it out of the waste stream. However, donating clothing can take time and some clothes are too worn to donate anyway. Rather than throwing them in the trash, consider dropping them in a textile drop box such as the ones at certain H&M stores or the USAgain boxes available throughout many towns.
Vehicles Are The Number 1 Recycled Item
When you think of the most commonly recycled items, you might think of glass bottles or soda cans, but vehicles are actually the most-recycled item in the world. In the U.S. and Canada, the automobile recycling industry provides enough steel each year to produce 13 million new vehicles.
Like all of the other waste-reduction methods above, you can get involved in vehicle recycling. All you need to do is donate an unwanted car, truck, boat, RV or motorcycle to Wheels For Wishes. We can accept most vehicles and auction or recycle them to benefit local Make-A-Wish chapters. In addition to helping your local Make-A-Wish grant more wishes, your donation will also give you a great tax deduction and free vehicle towing. Call us at 1-877-431-9474 or complete an online car donation form to donate your vehicle today!
Governor's award honors state employees for using Pepsi to clean up contamination
RALEIGH– North Carolina and Pepsi Bottling Ventures (PBV) are celebrating the joys of environmental stewardship.
Just ask Chris Niver and Thomas Slusser, two state employees who are credited with using the high fructose corn syrup from unused soda donated to the state by Pepsi to clean up polluted groundwater at a site in Rockingham.
Their idea saved the state more than $1 million, helped PBV save money, and may prove to have more lasting benefits when it comes to addressing other contaminated sites across North Carolina.
“We’re taking something that would’ve been thrown away and repurposing it to cleanup pollution,” said Niver, an environmental engineer with the N.C. Department of Transportation.
For their ingenuity, Niver and Slusser, a hydrogeologist with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, were among 15 public servants honored this week with Governor’s Awards for Excellence. The award is the highest recognition a state employee can receive.
“Protecting the environment is something we’re committed to, so in that sense we’re just doing something we strongly believe in,” Slusser said. “To be honored this way for protecting the environment and saving people money is a great feeling.”
Niver said the idea took hold after he began looking for a less expensive way to clean up groundwater contamination at former asphalt testing sites DOT is managing. Decades ago, chlorinated solvents such as those used in testing asphalt were released to the environment. At the time, far less was understood about the potentially harmful effects of chlorinated solvents and there were not laws in place to regulate against their release. Today cleanups frequently involve bioremediation, and Niver was working on a site that required 350,000 pounds of sodium lactate, which would cost the state more than $2 million.
Niver and his colleagues knew from experience that the sugars in a soft drink could perform the same function as the sodium lactate. High fructose corn syrup from Pepsi had been used successfully on environmental cleanups in other parts of the country. The question was how much it might cost to use Pepsi rather than other sodium lactate. Niver’s wife, Claire, works for PBV in Raleigh and he understood the soft drink manufacturer might also have a need. Pepsi was paying thousands of dollars to dispose of and treat old, unused soda and was happy to donate it to the state for free rather than pay for the costs of treatment. The company said its participation was in line with its corporate sustainability and stewardship initiatives. PBV even agreed to provide containers for free. The state only paid to pick up the product and transport it to the site.
Enter Slusser and a state toxicologist, who were needed to test the high fructose corn syrup to ensure that injecting it into the groundwater would not harm drinking water. Their tests revealed that the product is an effective cleanup compound that does not adversely affect groundwater quality, Slusser said. This vetting process resulted in the Pepsi “beverage remediation product” being added to the list of approved compounds that can be safely injected into the ground for cost-effective groundwater cleanups statewide.
For the first cleanup at a former asphalt testing site in Rockingham, Pepsi donated to the state 60,000 gallons of its unused soft drink. Niver and Slusser had the Pepsi transported to the site and used wells to inject the popular soft drink into the ground. The sugars in the soft drink acted as a catalyst for naturally-occurring bacteria in soil to grow and release a byproduct that started to break down the contamination.
Tests Slusser and Niver conducted tests of the contamination plume that revealed that concentrations of the chlorinated solvents had disappeared or almost disappeared.
Niver estimated using Pepsi produced the same results as other carbon compounds but for only a fraction of the cost. He estimates the cost savings from the project in Rockingham will be $1.6 million when the project is completed.
DOT is managing the cleanup of former asphalt testing sites across North Carolina, and Slusser and Niver said they plan to continue using expired Pepsi at as many sites as possible. This allows more sites to be cleaned up faster, more thoroughly and at a much lower cost, Niver said.
“This is a story about pollution prevention and the strategic bottom line benefits of better sustainable practices,” Niver said. “This is a private-public partnership where everyone’s a winner. The state saves money. Pepsi saves money. And the environment gets cleaned up.”
The Office of State Human Resources produced the following video on how Slusser and Niver won the Governor’s Award for Excellence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MG8nxT92LFo&list=PLoWgnlfmxiWZ42zbWFxc8zdeqbW2y3JGs&index=3.
During the holiday season, waste disposal increases 25 percentin the United States, causing an extra 5 billion pounds of waste in the landfills according to the Medical University of South Carolina. Plus, travellers will be logging tons of miles and creating tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Here are tips to help you plan ahead to reduce your waste and green your gift giving this year.
1. Don't Buy Wrapping Paper Reuse old wrapping paper or put your gifts in reusable bags or boxes. Be creative about giving old materials new life-scraps of fabric, magazines, or calendars make great patchwork bags or collage wrapping paper. 2. Send Tree-free Holiday Cards Search the National Green Pages™ for cards made from kenaf, hemp, and other tree-free resources. Or, send e-cards and avoid the wait at the post office for stamps. 3. Hold a Zero Waste Holiday Party Host a zero-waste party. Minimize the garbage by asking people to bring their own cups, plates and utensils if you don't have enough of your own. Use fabric tablecloths and napkins. Then be sure to recycle any post-party cans and bottles and compost food scaps. 4. Consider the Lifecycle of Electronic Gifts Some of the most popular gift items for children and teens are electronics like computers, tablets, e-readers, video games, and music devices. But the manufacturing and disposal of these items creates significant human health and environmental hazards. To learn more about the environmental impact of computers and electronic devices, check out the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. The Recycled Video Games Network is a great resource to dispose of old equipment or buy recycled games and systems for less, reducing the amount of new materials made 5. Give Gifts from the Heart Instead of spending money on commercial goods, give the gift of your time and talent to loved ones this year. Offer to make dinner, walk the dog, help with gardening or home repairs, or invite friends over for Fair Trade coffee and tea. 6.Give the Gift of a Better World Make a donation in honor of a loved one. Choose a cause that addresses an issue that you and your friends and family members care about and support. Green America offers 2-for-1 gift memberships during the holidays. Green America gift memberships are a great way to support our work for a green future while introducing more people to the ideas of just and sustainable purchasing and investing. Give gift memberships » 7. Green Your Holiday Travel If you are one of the many people planning to log a lot of travel miles this holiday season, don't forget to look into green options for getting around. Better World Travel Club can help you offset the carbon emissions from your travel through their Travel Cool program. Plus, Green America has partnered with NativeEnergy to help you offset your energy impact, including travel impact, fund the production of more wind energy, and generate support for Green America's Climate and Energy program. 8. Buy Green Gifts If you choose to give presents over the holidays, shop with green businesses listed in the National Green Pages. This year, a number of green businesses are offering special discounts to make green gift giving even easier. Check out our Green Gift Catalog. 9. Avoid Toys Made with PVC plastic Toxic PVC is found in everyday plastics, including some children’s toys. Vinyl chloride, the chemical used to make PVC, is a known human carcinogen. Also, additives, such as lead and cadmium, are sometimes added to PVC to keep it from breaking down; these additives can be particularly dangerous in children’s toys. PVC is also the least recycled plastic. Find safe toys in the National Green Pages » 10.Recycle Packaging From Gifts To reduce environmental impacts, it is important to recycle all cardboard packaging and peanuts or other Styrofoam packing that comes with gifts or purchases as these items will not break down in a landfill but can be used over and over again for packaging and shipping. The National Green Pages contains several listings for easy drop-off centers for both types of waste.
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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources
State announces winners of recycling poster contest
RALEIGH – As part of America Recycles Day, the N.C.
Department of Environmental Quality has announced the students who won this year’s statewide recycling poster contests. Governor Pat McCrory proclaimed Nov. 15 as America Recycles Day in North Carolina to encourage people to recycle and reuse materials to save money, conserve resources and protect the environment. America Recycles Day, which was also celebrated nationwide Nov. 15, is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting recycling. Events occur throughout November in North Carolina to mark the occasion. On Monday, the Department of Environmental Quality recognized the following students for the RE3.org and the Recycle Guys’ poster contests the agency helps coordinate each year:
Erin Lockamy, who is a student in Mrs. Caracci’s 11th grade class at J.H. Rose High School in Greenville, took first place in the RE3.org contest. Heather Cashwell, a DEQ outreach and education coordinator who coordinated a panel of judges, said Lockamy’s poster won because she used humor and a well-done illustration to convey that paper cartons are recyclable.
Kerry Campion, a student in Mrs. Reinsvold’s 8th grade class at Knox Middle School in Salisbury, grabbed first place in the Recycle Guys’ poster contest. Campion’s poster was really attractive with an inspiring message to recycle, Cashwell said.
Jenell Contreras, a 3rd grader from South Smithfield Elementary, and Lukah Prevatt, a 5th grader from John Small Elementary School, earned honorable mentions in the Kindergarten through 8th grade Recycle Guys Poster Contest.
Shirley Chen and Megan Reisch, who are students at J.H. Rose High School in Greenville, received honorable mentions in the RE3.org contest. Kevin Dunning, a student at Cape Fear High School, also received an honorable mention in the RE3.org contest.
The winners were among hundreds of North Carolina school children from kindergarten through 12th grade who participated in the America Recycles Day Poster Contests by designing poster art and slogans that encourage recycling. The contests are sponsored by the Recycle Guys, RE3.org, the Carton Council and Keep North Carolina Beautiful.
All the students who won will receive cash prizes from the Carton Council and recycling stickers, pencils and activities. One winner from the high school entries will be selected and used by the Carton Council to promote the recycling of milk and juice cartons in high schools nationwide. The winning K-8 poster will also be used in North Carolina elementary and middle schools to encourage others to recycle.
A playhouse is something kids dream of when they grow up, but most of the times there isn’t enough room for such a thing in their bedroom or in the house for that matter. We have just the right solution for this kind of problem: use the space under the stairs. Suited for anyone who really wants to give their children a good medium to boost their imagination indoors, this DIY project will make up for time otherwise spent in front of the TV. Choosing to do this project will prove slightly cheaply than a regular playhouse, because you use the inside of the stairs as part of the walls and roof of the tiny structure for kids. This leaves you with the efforts to decorate the entrance and indoor of the playhouse in any way you like. Grab some inspiration from the examples provided in the pictures and good luck on your work!
We are SO proud of the Freedom Intermediate School Green Team for their HUGE recycling initiative for Keep America Beautiful's #RecycleBowl!
Green Team leade...r and KWB advisory committee member Barbara Orr with her fabulous Green Team students collected 1,212 lbs. of cardboard last week and built Mt. Orr!!!
People often look to celebrities, good or bad, for examples to pattern their own lives after. Movie stars, TV actors, and rockers often have huge followings, fans who copy the way they dress, the cars they drive, and even the causes they support. There are quite a few celebrities who have used their visibility to support good causes, like going green. Here are a few celebrities who are trying to make a difference. Ed Begley, Jr.
Ed Begley, Jr. might be the most famous and visible stars with a dedication to going green. He has been a huge advocate of alternative energy sources, and is probably best known for his documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” which follows his adventures in owning, and losing, one of the first all-electric vehicles. Check out his favorite causes at edbegley.com/environment. Dave Matthews Band
Not one individual, but a large band that is dedicated to keeping their tours green. They use buses that run on biodiesel, a renewable resource, and purchase carbon credits to offset the fossil fuels they do burn driving from gig to gig. DMB fans will also find that the band sponsors carpooling to their shows, to cut down on the gas used to see them. To accomplish all these goals, Dave Matthews Band partnered with Reverb.org, a group that helps musicians and fans alike live a more sustainable life. Pierce Brosnan
This Hollywood hunk, best known as a recent James Bond, is dedicated to supporting the environment, particularly marine mammals and ecosystems. He and his wife, Keely Shaye, promote these causes on their website, piercebrosnan.com, and also lend publicity and funds to California Coastal Protection Network, Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots, and more. Daryl Hannah
Daryl Hannah has been eye candy for years, but doesn’t rest solely on her looks and fame to support causes. Ms. Hannah was actually arrested in 2006 during a sit-in to save a LA community garden. She also supports environmental causes in more a conventional manner – her home is completely off-grid, and she purchases carbon credits for any travel. To find more information about Daryl Hannah and her causes, visit dhlovelife.com. Rachel McAdams
Is an up-and-coming starlet with a real passion for living a green, sustainable life. She has reported on her website and on talk-show appearances that she tries to bike wherever possible. Her personal website, greenissexy.org, educates readers about how live a greener life and causes that McAdams herself supports. The website is very approachable – McAdams’ posts are down-to-earth, and she doesn’t rely on her celebrity to influence people, she tries to give advice from a friend to a friend, with suggestions that anyone can follow. Gwyneth Paltrow
This A-List celebrity has often been denigrated for her holier-than-though attitude, but no one can deny that she puts her money where her mouth is. Her website, GOOP.com (don’t ask what it stands for), began as a weekly newsletter that gave advice about living green and eating healthy. Her website, while it does feature some luxuries that aren’t exactly sustainable, does have good advice about how to thrive without consuming and living holistically. Gwyneth and her website have started garnering more attention for their dedication to eco-friendly living. Brad Pitt
Mr. Angelina Jolie and their six children make the headlines every day, from movie releases to simply running to catch a plane. What the gossip rags tend to overlook though, is this couple’s real dedication to making the world a better place. Brad Pitt himself has a website, makeitrightnola.org, which provides sustainable housing to people whose lives have been torn apart by natural disasters – most notably the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The Jolie-Pitt Foundation has also provided million of dollars charities dedicated to protecting human rights.
You could do each of these today, but it might be more fun to make them a part of your America Recycles Day celebrations this weekend.
It’s fitting that America Recycles Day should fall on November 15, a mere week and a half before the season when we’re spending and eating more than normal… and generating more trash than usual, too. This year, my family and I are using ARD as a kickoff to get into good habits that we can maintain throughout the rest of the year.
These recycling and waste-reducing tips will help you make the most of America Recycles Day, and also set the stage for a more sustainable lifestyle going forward.
Attend an America Recycles Day Event. When I checked the America Recycles Day website, there were more than 1400 events across the country. In my area, I saw everything from an organization collecting used towels for an animal shelter to extended hours for document shredding to a tailgate swap meet. Look up your own city to see what’s going on, and join the fun!
Take the Chance to Recycle Hard-to-Recyclables. One of the most common events during America Recycles Day is recycling events for electronics, paint, and other items that are typically not accepted in curbside programs. Now’s your chance: Clean out your garage and basement, and find a collection point in your area to drop off these items. You’ll be less likely in the future to just get frustrated and sneak them into the trash can.
Get Off Mailing Lists. Carve out some time this week to take stock of all the unsolicited mail you’re receiving and request removal from mailing lists so that you’re reducing the amount of wasted paper you’re recycling (not to mention the energy that the post office wastes transporting and delivering the unsolicited mail). Take a look in your mail pile or recycling bin at all the mail that’s piling up and spend 30 minutes or so unsubscribing: On the Federal Trade Commission Website, you can opt out of unsolicited mail like credit card offers; you can also sign up with a junk mail service that will remove you from most other types of junk mail, or just start calling catalog companies, charities, and other organizations to request that you no longer get their mail. It’s even a good idea to go through your email and unsubscribe from email newsletters that you find yourself automatically deleting without opening (except, of course, for messages you get from us at Recyclebank!) — even though emails don’t waste paper, unwanted emails do waste your time, and a bit of extra electricity in the time it takes you to delete them.
Make it Easier to Recycle. I always recycle in the kitchen, where the recycling bin is right there. In the rest of the house, not so much. If you’re like me, a solution is to have recycling bins in every room. You can find a dual recycling bin or, for a cheaper solution, just buy a waste basket in a different color (green is an obvious choice, like this cute Umbra basket). It’ll be that much easier to recycle old magazines as you’re done reading them in bed, toilet paper tubes as you finish a roll in the bathroom, and scrap paper as you work in the office.
Ration Your Trash Bags. When trash bags come in a big roll that’s concealed in a cardboard box until you pull out that last one, it’s hard to tell how many bags you’re filling. Ration yourself to only one trash bag a week (the average American generates 4.3 pounds a day). It’ll make you conscious of everything that goes into that bag, and will hopefully spur you to recycle and compost more, and to be more mindful about throwing something away instead of finding another use for it.
Plan a Sustainable Thanksgiving. Turkey day is less than two weeks after America Recycles Day, so while you’re in sustainability mode, start planning how you can minimize waste on Thanksgiving. This could include eating less meat (perhaps buy a turkey breast rather than a whole turkey?), preparing smaller servings, and DIY centerpieces, just to name a few.
Celebrate Your Favorite Fall Sport by Giving Back. As fall sports seasons like soccer and football are winding down, consider donating used sports equipment to an organization like Sports Gift, which collects sports equipment for disadvantaged kids, so they too can enjoy the many benefits of playing sports.
The national recycling rate has increased every year for the past 30 years. The current recycling rate is 34.5%. JOIN US IN RECYCLING MORE. For America Recycles Day 2015, I pledge to:
Learn. I will find out what materials are collected for recycling in my community. Act. Reduce my personal waste by recycling. Within the next month, I will recycle more. Share. In the next month, I will encourage one family member or one friend to take the pledge. Post. Take and post a photo of you recycling and enter the I will recycle sweepstakes.
Kick off your holiday season with America Recycles Day. Your cheat sheet is right here.
The holiday season can officially begin on November 15: America Recycles Day. Yes, indeed, recycling is so important that it even has its own holiday.
In case you’re just now finding out about America Recycles Day, take a look at my handy cheat sheet — it’ll clue you in to what you need to know and, most important, how you can help celebrate.
America Recycles Day is a real thing! Started in 1997, Keep America Beautiful manages the nationally-recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling efforts.
During last year’s America Recycles Day, there were more than 2,000 recycling events held across the country, with more than 2.1 million participants. Throughout the day, 3.77 million pounds of recyclables were collected — the environmental equivalent (in terms of greenhouse gas) of taking 280 cars off the road permanently.
The current rate of recycling in America is 34.7 percent. The organizers of America Recycles Day are hoping that their efforts will help continue the 30-year trend of increasing recycling efforts each year.
It’s not too late to get involved. Log on to America Recycles Day to find a recycling event in your neighborhood. You can also register your own event. It doesn’t have to be on November 15 — there are events throughout the Fall that are affiliated with America Recycles Day.
Even if you can’t attend an event, you can still participate by taking a pledge at AmericaRecyclesDay.org — either as an individual or as a business — to be more proactive about recycling. This year’s pledge is to learn more about what materials are acceptable for recycling, to recycle more, and to help spread the word by encouraging others to take the pledge. Businesses who pledge are encouraged to try to increase their recycling programs by 10 percent within the next 2 years.
Then, celebrate by recycling right. Keep America Beautiful recommends ways to increase your recycling in a few easy ways: Rip off the top of your pizza box and recycle just that (food-covered cardboard can’t be recycled). If you can’t commit to a compost pile, just add biodegradeable, compostable foods like coffee grounds or eggshells right to your garden or window boxes. When you’re taking plastic grocery bags to a recycling collection point, don’t forget other plastic like (clean) bread bags, newspaper bags and dry cleaning wrapping.
Consider America Recycles Day as a chance to make resolutions for the coming year. Are there areas for improvement in your home recycling practices? For me, this year I’m resolving to start a compost pile once and for all, so I can turn food scraps into rich nutrients for my garden, rather than send them to the landfill. For you, it might be getting better about recycling items from the bathroom, or finding a place that accepts batteries and electronics for recycling.