Posts tagged ‘reuse’
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 But what happens to all of those “outdated” models?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
Not sure what to do with your old electronics and batteries? Are you uncertain of where to dispose of unused pesticides and poisons? Well, look no further! Dane County Clean Sweep is here to help. For a nominal fee, residents of Dane County have the opportunity to safely dispose of unwanted chemicals, paint, and other hazardous materials and eliminate the environmental risks that are associated with their improper disposal.
Located at 7102 US Hwy 12/18 across from the Yahara Hills Golf Course, residents and businesses alike can bring a wide range of materials to the facility to be properly disposed of. For a full list of accepted items, visit www.danecountycleansweep.com.
To prepare for your visit, waste materials should be packaged in boxes or rigid totes to keep products upright and prevent spillage during transportation to the facility. Make sure to keep all materials in their original packaging and do not co-mingle products together in plastic bags.
While the program does accept items from both residents and businesses, the associated fees vary. Dane County households and farms will be charged $10.00 per trip for hazardous wastes and electronics (The first CRT TV or CRT computer monitor is free with paid trip fee!) For businesses, fees are based on weight and the type of waste being disposed of. Electronics are not accepted from businesses. Businesses must also qualify as Very Small Quantity Generators (VSQG’s) as well as schedule an appointment prior to bringing wastes to the collection facility. Out-of-county businesses are welcome. Out-of-county households and farms will be charged $75.00 per trip and are unable to bring latex paints and electronics.
The facility also offers a product exchange program which features a large area devoted to product reuse. If items are received in good condition, they are stocked on the shelves of the product exchange room for redistribution to the public. The program is free and Dane County residents are allowed a single entry to the room per week. For more details on the product exchange program, visit danecountycleansweep.com.
Once you arrive at the Clean Sweep facility, you will have to provide proof of residency and pay accordingly in the form of cash or credit card (MasterCard or Visa only).
If you didn’t have a chance to finish up your spring cleaning, now is the time to round up all of those last lingering items and dispose of them in an environmentally friendly way!
image credit: http://www.danecountycleansweep.com/
Friday, October 18th marks the 41st anniversary of the Clean Water Act (CWA). CWA sets regulations on pollutants allowed into our national waterways along with regulating water quality standards. We are grateful for protection at a national level, however, there are also things we can do locally to ensure healthy waterways.
The “Love Your Lakes, Don’t Leaf Them” campaign is spreading the word about leaf management. This is an especially important topic during the Fall season when the leaves are starting to change color and fall from the trees. The goal is to keep leaves out of the streets, which drain into our lakes and streams. Because once the leaves are in our waterways they break down into excess nutrients and can create unhealthy algae blooms.
Here are a few tips from myfairlakes.com to help keep leaves out of the streets:
*Instead of creating piles along the road for collection, compost your leaves. They will create a nutrient rich mulch for your yard next year.
*Chop the leaves up as you mow your lawn, it will provide a natural fertilizer.
*Place leaves on top of your flower and garden beds to insulate them during the cold winter months.
For more helpful tips, locations to pick up yard signs, information about local municipality collections go to Love Your Lakes or check out this handy myfairlakes brochure and help spread the word on how to Love Our Lakes.
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,
Speaking of love, ever since I discovered Re-Nest I have been obsessed with it. It’s a wonderful blog that offers fun, creative How-To’s and tips on how to live a chic, eco-friendly lifestyle (and do really fun projects). I hereby declare 2010 to be the year I try to make new things, fix items in my apartment when they are broken, and (*eek*) maybe even try a new recipe (cooking is not exactly my cup o’ tea). Here are things I plan on doing thus far; I think you would have fun doing them, too:
- Let’s make vases and cute containers out of glass bottles and tin cans. This Re-Nest article explains how easy it is to transform recyclables into art (and potentially gifts!). This would be very fun to do with children (as long as the paint is kid-friendly).
- What do you get when you mix water, a picture frame, and an old blender? Handmade paper, of course! I have always wanted to do this; even though my current kitchen is about the size of Harry Potter’s under-the-stairs closet, I think this is still possible.
- I may have to have my adept cooking friends help me with this one: pickling. This article gives detailed instructions on how to pickle anything you want. Bring on the cucumbers!
- Maybe it’s partially because I don’t want to drag my garbage all the way down 5 floors to the dumpster and consequently freeze, but I would genuinely like to live a more packaging-free life. We all already have glass and plastic sandwich and lunch containers, but if you need some more ideas, check out this Re-Nest article (see? I’m obsessed).
- Using natural cleaners is an essential part of a healthy home and body. Here are some great concoctions for homemade house cleaners.
If you don’t have the time, desire, or ability to do these sorts of things, no need to fear! Here are some great Madison-area shops that offer recycled goods:
- Re-Thread has just come to Madison offering handmade clothing out of pre-owned (and cleaned) clothes. They also have a buy-trade-sell system, so check it out on their website.
- Featured on Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Eco-Friendly Flooring is a Madison, WI supplier and installation contractor of eco-friendly flooring products. I will be a renter for some time into the future, but I can’t wait to use this service for my home someday!
- Last but definitely not least, is Anthology, a locally-owned boutique that offers locally-made art and products to make beautiful creations. I am proud to say I bought a handmade ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ coaster there before its popularity resurfaced. :)
Go forth people and have fun in your kitchens with your kids and friends. Feel free to send us your ideas; we love hearing them!
Wishing you the best,
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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,