Posts tagged ‘reduce’

Our Online and Electronic Footprint- Part Two


Keeping Electronics Out of Landfills

In our modern society, we are surrounded by technology. When things break, our first thought is to throw them out. However, all of these electronics fill up our landfills and can be harmful to both humans and the environment through run-off. According to the StEP (Solving the E-waste Problem) Initiative, 48.9 million tons of gadgets and electronics were thrown out worldwide in 2012. Most of these electronics could have been repurposed or harvested for parts, which reduces our resource consumption and keeps electronics out of landfills. Many electronics stores are now offering recycling programs where you can bring in your old TV’s, computers, and other electronics for repurposing. Some places even offer store rewards for bringing in materials, such as gift cards or discounts. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a great list of places that accept mobile devices, TV’s, and computers.

Other stores and organizations will accept unwanted parts such as ink cartridges, digital cameras, and MP3 players. Headphones can often be hard to find places to recycle them, but ThinkSound provides discounts on new purchases for every pair of headphones turned in. Office Max also offers rewards for turning in old ink cartridges. A quick search on the internet for the item you are looking to recycle will bring up plenty of options other than simply throwing it away. E-cycling Central also has a great list of companies and organizations by state that recycle a variety of electronic devices and materials.

Before You Buy That New Smartphone…
We are always being bombarded with the latest version or new model of cell phone and many times millions of people are running to their phone carrier to get what ever that might be. But what happens to all of those “outdated” models? Instead of throwing your phone in the trash, consider donating it to a charity that will repurpose them for those in need. There are many local and national organizations that will take donations, such as Cell Phones For Soldiers. This non-profit takes old cell phones, refurbishes them, and sends them to troops overseas so they can call home. Other organizations include National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Hyla. Some of these organizations will even buy your old phone from you.

Many wireless providers also have trade-in plans where you can turn in your old phone and receive a discount or money towards your new phone. This includes AT&T, Verizon, U.S. Cellular, and other major providers. Check your provider’s website or ask an employee what your options are before you buy something new.

Reducing our electronic and online footprint is easier than you think. By reducing the amount of time you spend online and recycling any old, unwanted, and broken technology, you can lower your carbon footprint, be more engaged in your life, and even help those in need. While we can’t solve climate change in one day, every little actions makes a big impact. So unplug those devices, turn in those old electronics, and help make a difference!

image credit: www.torontosun.com

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October 9, 2014 at 8:56 am Leave a comment

April Showers Bring… Spring Cleaning!

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image credit: http://pureella.com/green-spring-cleaning-tips/

It’s that time of year again; time to get started on your annual spring cleaning.  No matter what your spring cleaning project may be, here are some tips to get you started on not simply spring cleaning, but green, spring cleaning that is good for you, your home, and the planet.

Most importantly, when cleaning-up or cleaning-out, we should keep in mind the after effects of our actions.  For example, scrubbing the counters with harsh chemicals and massive amounts of paper towels will leave our kitchen full of toxic chemical fumes and a ton of waste.  Instead consider wiping down the counters with a mixture of vinegar and baking soda using a reusable cloth.  Similarly, if cleaning-out and getting rid of things is your priority this spring, don’t just throw items in the trash.  Instead consider making something out of that “junk” or putting those old clothes and toys together as a donation to your local Resale Shop or host a garage sale to find your used items a new home.  One person’s trash can be another person’s treasure.

Ultimately, neither spring cleaning-out nor spring cleaning-up need adversely affect the environment or your family by adding waste to landfills or toxins to the air.  Instead, consider how the spring cleaning choices you make in your own home actually have the potential to be Earth-friendly.

 

Check out these sites for more information: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=1073

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/20-diy-green-cleaning-recipes-141129

http://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/household-hints-tips/cleaning-organizing/10-green-home-cleaning-tips.htm#page=0

May 1, 2014 at 1:27 pm Leave a comment

Madison-based Business Leading the Way

ImagePhoto by M.P. King- State Journal

The Madison-based headquarters for American Family Insurance is set to become the first major private employer in Dane County to routinely divert food-related waste from the landfill.  Very soon their food-prep scraps and used paper towels will be composted offsite. 

Maggie Layden was an intern with the company last year when she came up with the idea.  She was hired permanently in January and now leads the composting program.  This change is part of the company’s “zero-waste initiative” which features other sustainability goals established earlier this year.

For now, American Family Insurance’s housekeeping vendor will be responsible for moving the organic waste from the kitchen to the compactor.  Eventually employees will be asked to participate in a more hands-on way by adding their food scraps to separate collection containers within the café area as well. 

American Family estimates they will generate around 40 to 50 pounds of food waste, along with 80 to 100 pounds in paper towels each week.  This is on the low end compared to some other local businesses also participating in the pilot program.

While establishing programs for businesses, the City of Madison has also been working on a pilot program for curbside collection of organic waste for residential areas.  These projects are being led by George Dreckmann, the city’s recycling coordinator.  His goal is to take the organics recycling pilot program citywide to all businesses and residents by 2016. 

Read more: http://host.madison.com/business/american-family-insurance-leading-way-in-local-private-sector-on/article_f95842cf-02cf-5964-a3fa-ae11ae6c7520.html#ixzz2c4Tcluvl

August 16, 2013 at 9:03 am Leave a comment

Going Green by Giving Green

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I hope you all had a good one! Of course, this means that for those of you celebrating or helping your friends celebrate the holiday season, there are only a few hectic weeks left to find, make, or buy meaningful gifts for the people you care about. Time sure does fly this time of year…

One of the dilemmas I always face during the holiday season is: How do I make my friends and family feel special without giving into the wastefulness and consumerism that, unfortunately, is all too prevalent? Or in other words, how do I give green gifts?

If you are anything like me, you find yourself wishing for a compilation of green gift resources. Luckily, some people have already given thought to this issue! For example, TreeHugger published this online 2010 Gift Guide, and The Daily Green has this guide, which has gift ideas separated out into useful categories. You might find similar guides, like this one from National Resources Defense Council, at other popular green websites.

Another great option for green gift giving is to make the gifts yourself. If you are crafty, handmade arts, crafts, and clothing are sure to make someone very happy. The website Not Made of Money put together a list of homemade gift possibilities that has some really good ideas. Homemade fleece scarves and blankets, for example, are cheap and easy to make and are sure to leave a lucky recipient warm and cozy as the weather gets cold. If you have culinary skills, homemade breads and cookies or home-canned jams, sauces, and salsas are other great ideas. I used several pints of raspberries, strawberries, and cherries I picked during the summer to make jars of gift jam for friends and family, which, apart from some minor mishaps with the giant canning pot, turned out really well. Gifts that are made from scratch or cleverly pieced together from older items not only make recipients feel good–they also might be even greener than store-bought green gifts.

Winter may just be getting started, but the gardeners in your life are already planning for next season. Drs. Sonya and Astrid Newenhouse put together this handy list of green garden gift ideas, which also appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio (listen to the Garden Talk show here). They break out gifts by price, which is really helpful to cash-starved graduate students like me!

Whatever gift ideas you choose this year, if they are both environmentally friendly and thoughtful, it’s a win-win for you AND your friends and family.

Stay Warm and Be Green,

Matt

December 6, 2010 at 9:51 am 1 comment

Environmental Health Report Card gives mixed grades

This university town is probably full of “A” students. But we’ve learned that we still have a ways to go to get a better GPA on our environmental health in Dane County.

Every two years the Madison and Dane County Environmental Health Report Card is issued, telling us where we’ve improved and where we have regressed in terms of our air and water quality, recycling, alternative energy, and vehicle travel.

The bad news first: water quality and water conservation have both declined. That means more phosphorus in our lovely lakes and more beach closures, and lower groundwater levels. FYI: Groundwater provides 70% of Wisconsin residents with water.

The bad news second: And, while there was a small increase in recycled material, there was also an increase in the amount of waste produced and sent to the landfill.

The great news: Don’t despair! There is a LOT we can do to make this better.

The also great news: EnAct offers loads of tips that people can use to reduce their water use and their waste production. Our “EnAct: Steps to Greener Living” book offers chapters on saving water and wasting less that you can download here to take action in your own home. Or start an EnAct team with your neighbors or friends and talk about why this stuff matters right here in our backyard!

Want to do something right now? Here are a few ideas:

Water

  • Only run full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher, and use them in off-peak times (middle of the day or after 7 p.m.)
  • Don’t flush medicines or over-the-counter drugs down your drain OR throw them in your garbage. Check with your doctor’s office or pharmacy about medical waste drop-off days.
  • Try using non-toxic alternatives to household chemical cleaners. Commit to trying one new natural product this month. And a second one next month. And so on…
  • Install a faucet aerator in your kitchen; they cost about $1 and can save 3 gallons of water per day per faucet.
  • Keep your leaves out of the gutters and out of the lakes. Use them as mulch on your flowerbeds.

Waste

  • If you are not curbside recycling everything you can, start now! Here’s a list of what is recyclable in Madison.
  • Remove your name from junkmail lists at DirectMail.com
  • Donate or sell items rather than throwing them away. Try Goodwill, St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Stores, Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, or Freecycle.
  • Buy at least one post-consumer recycled-content product that you use on a regular basis, like office paper, or that’s a one-time purchase, like fleece clothing made from recycled soda bottles and other plastics.
  • Buy and manage the food in your house to reduce spoilage and waste and to save money. Try not to buy more food than you are certain you family can eat before it goes bad.
  • Try composting. It’s a lot easier than it sounds.
  • When eating out, bring a reusable container for your leftovers rather. Trust me, no one minds if you do this (even my husband realized it was silly to be embarrassed when I whip my trusty Tupperware out of my purse)!

So we got a few Bs and Cs. That’s okay. We can still make the next report card something we’d be proud to show to our grandchildren.

Be green. Have fun.

Maria

December 1, 2009 at 10:08 am 1 comment

Halloween Need Not Be Environmentally Frightful

From composting pumpkins to reusing costumes, Halloween does not have to be environmentally horrifying!

Halloween can be very fun and spooky, but the effects on the environment can be scary. From the individually wrapped candies to cheap decorations that get tossed, the waste nationwide quickly adds up. Choose instead to reuse a costume, or make one from materials you already have to save some money.  The Nature Conservancy offers tips on how to go green while breaking out the orange and black, in addition to tips on how to reduce waste (and other ideas) from suite101.com. You can also learn about sustainably made chocolates and other candies from these sites.

A beloved staple of autumn and Halloween is the pumpkin. City of Madison Streets and Recycling has a handful of drop-off sites so your pumpkins can be composted, or you can learn how to compost them at home.

Hoping fall is treating you well,
Melissa

October 28, 2009 at 3:45 pm Leave a comment


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