Posts Tagged ‘landfill’

Easy Green Tips for Kids!

 Image by woodley wonderworks
It’s never too early for kids to make environmentally responsible practices a part of their daily life. To protect the future of the earth, kids must get involved.  That’s how change happens. Below are simple, money-saving, kid-friendly ideas that make a difference.
  • Start recycling and encourage your friends to recycle too.
  • Start composting kitchen waste and encourage your friends to do so too.
  • Buy green school supplies – pencils, notebooks with recycled paper and reuse last year’s unfinished notebooks.
  • Walk, carpool or take a bus to school to cut down on carbon emissions.
  • Save water by turning it off when brushing your teeth.
  • Turn off the lights when you leave the room.
  • Turn off video games and computers when not in use.  Better yet,cut down on video game time, which uses more energy than computers or tv.  Play outside instead.
  • Use rechargeable batteries in your toys and buy well-made toys that last.
  • Plant a little garden – lettuce and radishes are quick, easy to grow crops.
  • Reduce use of throwaway cups, plates, utensils and use washable dishes and cloth napkins instead.
  • Use reusable, BPA-free water bottles instead of plastic ones.
  • Use a recyclable or reusable lunch bag and put your snacks in reusable containers rather than buying small, throwaway ones.
  • Celebrate Earth Day on April 22!

Click on the link below to watch a brief video created for children on the importance of recycling and the positive effects of doing so.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Turn Your Kitchen Waste Into Gold!

One more Vitamix advantage that I neglected to mention in last week’s blog – When making a smoothie or juice drink in your Vitamix, the whole fruit is juiced, which includes the juice and the fiber.  The fiber contains valuable nutrition that is missing in extracted juice, making your Vitamix drinks even more nutritious!

Several of my readers have asked me about composting.

Composting means recycling food waste or organic material to the soil, which is then broken down by natural bacteria and turned into compost or a dark, soil-like humus and an incredibly rich (and free) organic fertilizer!  Compost adds nutrients to the soil and improves soil structure, eliminating the need for high nitrogen-based chemical fertilizers, and produces thriving, pest resistant plants.  Compost is unbelievable fertilizer for your gardens and lawn.

Composting is just as important as recycling cans, bottles, papers, plastics or anything else.  According to the EPA, “ In 2011 alone, more than 36 million tons of food waste was generated, with only four percent diverted from landfills and incinerators for composting.” When food is thrown away and goes into the landfill, it rots and emits methane – a potent greenhouse gas with 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

You can compost all organic matter – kitchen waste including fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds, eggshells, and tea bags, (but avoid meat and dairy which turn rancid and attract scavengers and citrus which is toxic to the worms); grass clippings; and yard waste including leaves.  Do not add weeds or chemically treated grass clippings.

I keep a compost bucket with a charcoal filter (to prevent odors from escaping) in my kitchen sink, which I then empty into the compost pile in the backyard. You can buy compost bins online or from garden centers that cost approximately $30 – $100, but you can easily build your own. It takes about a year before the organic materials are broken down into compost and ready to add to your garden soil. Regularly turning the pile and occasionally adding a compost inoculant to help break down organic material speeds up the process, but isn’t necessary.

For Apartment Dwellers

Some cities like San Francisco and London offer kitchen waste pick up service, but most don’t.  You can still compost however, even without access to a yard.  There are two fun options.

One is vermicomposting, or composting with worms.  Vermicomposting involves buying a shallow worm container and lid (punch holes in the top and sides for drainage and ventilation), making a bed for the worms using torn newspaper mixed with leaves and potting soil, then adding kitchen waste (it works better if it is small pieces) and about 2000 red wriggler worms, sold at garden centers or ordered online through commercial growers.   Leave the lid off so the worms will burrow underground; they are sensitive to light.  In two to three months, your worms will produce dark, rich, nutritious worm castings or organic fertilizer, which your plants will love.  Click here for more information.

A second option is bokashi bin composting. Bokashi means fermented organic matter in Japanese.  This method uses a mixture of “effective microorganisms” in a medium like wheat bran.  You simply add your food waste to the bin and then sprinkle the microorganism mixture on top.  The microorganisms help to break down the scraps and if managed properly, there won’t be any smell.  This system works fast – it makes compost in two weeks!

With both indoor systems, be careful not to compost too much food waste at once.

I never stop marveling at the beautiful rich soil transformed from my kitchen waste.  It’s another one of nature’s miracles.  Get ready for spring and start composting now!

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Information compiled from www.bokashicomposting.com, http://www.howstuffworks.com, epa.gov, and www.ecolocalizer.com

 

 

 

Reboot Your New Year’s Resolutions!

Lately, I’ve been hearing about rebooting our abandoned New Year’s resolutions.  It’s only February after all, and way too soon to let those good intentions fall by the way side.  Hopefully your resolutions included adopting new green living habits, but if not, it’s never too late to add them.

What is the most important green thing you can do?  Think.      

  • Think about unnecessary packaging when you buy something.  Packaging represents about 65% of household trash.
  • Think about where that product came from and under what conditions it was produced.
  • Think about refusing those ubiquitous, non-biodegradable, petroleum-based plastic bags at the grocery store and bringing your own reusable ones instead.  (Plastic bags are banned in some areas of the USA and in some countries.)
  • Think about bringing your own bags on all errands.
  • Before you throw something away, think about whether it can be reused or given away.
  • If not, think about our jam-packed landfills and the importance of recycling.  According to Recycling Revolution, “The U.S. is the #1 trash-producing country in the world at 1609 pounds per person.  This means that 5% of the world’s people generate 40% of the world’s waste.” There is good news however. Efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle are paying off and landfill demand is diminishing.
  • Think about the seriousness of the record-breaking drought in parts of the country and what you can do to conserve water – turn off the water when you brush your teeth, shorten your showers and run your dishwasher only when full.
  • Think about consolidating your errands, walking or taking public transportation in an effort to conserve energy.
  • Think about turning off lights when you leave a room to save electricity.

In our busy, fast-paced lives we usually don’t take the time to think through our daily habits.  They become rote.  It takes about three weeks to develop a new habit.  Make these simple green tips your new routine.  Then, take the time to think and learn about why the time is now to start living a greener life.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Some information compiled from http://www.usi.edu/recycle/solid-waste-landfill-facts; http://postcom.org/eco/facts.about.landfills.htm.

Swiffer vs An Old-Fashioned Dust Mop

Below is a question from a reader about Swiffer.

Dear Betsy:

I just got the latest issue of Vermont Country Store catalog and inside is an old-fashioned wool dust mop, which up to 10 years ago I used and used to shake outside like my Mom used to do! 

This made me think about all the Swiffer products I use.  Hmmm – I’m wondering if anyone has compared cleaning efficiency of an old-fashioned dust mop vs Swiffer – certainly one is more economical.  The Swiffer products are expensive!  Thanks -

Jennifer M.

Winchester, MA

Hi Jennifer:

Great question!  I don’t know of any actual studies about the cleaning efficiency of an old-fashioned dust mop vs. Swiffer, but I know I prefer an old fashioned dust mop.  Swiffer disposable dry cloths are made of polyester and polypropylene and work well to pick up dust and grime from most surfaces, but so does an old-fashioned wool dust mop.  The natural lanolin in wool attracts and holds dust. Wool won’t scratch floors and gets better every time you wash it. I try to avoid single use products that go directly into the landfill, as well as petroleum-based products like polypropylene.

The Swiffer wet cloths are treated with propylene glycol and though categorized by the FDA as “generally regarded as safe”, that’s not assurance enough for me. According to Swiffer, the wet cloths may irritate skin and aggravate known skin conditions.” Considering that concentrations of toxic compounds are higher inside than outside, it’s best to avoid them when you can. Indoor air pollution, partially caused by the use of chemical based cleaners, is a much more serious problem than people realize and one of the reasons for increased cases of asthma and allergies.  Additionally, the chemically treated, single use wet cloths end up in the landfill leaching toxic chemicals into the soil and water table.

There is no question that Swiffer is easier than an old-fashioned mop, but what happened to cleaning with natural and safe ingredients like soap, water, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and borax?  All it takes is a little elbow grease and a good sponge mop.

If you insist on the convenience of a Swiffer, there are similar, more eco-friendly options.

  • Method Home floor cleaning mop with non-toxic compostable sweeping cloths.
  • Gaiam’s Spray Mop Kit where you add your own cleaner or nontoxic vinegar and water, spray the fine mist and mop up with a microfiber cleaning cloth (the eco-friendly cleaning rage today).  The set includes five washable MicroTech Cleaning Cloths.

    Gaiam’s Spray Mop

  • Amazon also sells a microfiber mop called E-cloth microfiber mop, as do Bed, Bath and Beyond and Whole Foods.

E-cloth Microfiber Mop

I hope this helps Jennifer– let me know what you decide.  Safe cleaning!

Betsy

Information compiled from www.treehugger.com, inhabitat.com, www.swiffer.com, vermontcountrystore.com, classic.akc.org

 

 

Let’s Call It Like It Is!

Why do you recycle?  Do you care about the future of the earth or do you recycle because it is the “thing” to do?   Are you genuinely concerned about the overflowing landfills or do you feel guilty if you don’t?   Maybe you don’t recycle at all unless it is already set up and really convenient. Whatever the reason, it is necessary to recycle.  In our consumer-driven society, there is just too much trash.   Thankfully, recycling is becoming a way of life.

I like the kitchen recycling center in my sister’s office in San Francisco.  It’s convenient and tells it like it is.  “Landfill” bin for trash, “Recycle” bin for items that can be recycled, and “Compost” for items that can be composted.  Labeling the trash bin “Landfill” gets you thinking about where your trash goes and encouraging composting raises awareness about the importance of composting.

photo 1-1 photo 2-1 photo 3-1

Recycling areas should look like this.  I can’t help but believe if more places set up their recycling centers  like this one, our landfill problem would be dramatically decreased!

Click here for more ideas on greening your office!

Boxed Water is Better!

photo-2This past weekend I attended a delicious local food truck festival and discovered boxed water!  Not luxury, specialty or flavored water, but plain, purified water in a boldly printed box that says, “Boxed Water is Better”.  What a great idea – in the fast-growing water bottle market, it’s hard to believe it hasn’t been boxed before.

Boxed Water is Better, LLC, started in 2009 in Grand Rapids, Michigan with the mission of creating a new water company with simple, sustainable packaging, one that gives back to foundations and one with a lower carbon footprint than traditional bottled water.

About 76% of the box is manufactured from trees grown in certified, well-managed forests where new ones are constantly grown to replace those harvested.  Using this renewable resource, trees, which also sequester carbon dioxide, makes it one of the most sustainable beverage packages available.

The water is carbon-filtered, purified drinking water from the municipal source in each of their major markets.  The boxes are shipped flat to the local filling company, a significantly more energy-efficient way to ship, where they are then filled.  The boxes are easily recycled and can be flattened to take up less space.

photo-1-2 I love the look of the boxed water.   The no-nonsense black and white printing on the box simply says what it is “Boxed Water is Better” with a water drop.  One panel on the box explains their environmentally friendly, sustainable, give back philosophy.  10% of their profits are donated to world water relief foundations and another 10% donated to reforestation foundations.

Boxed Water is Better is working on US and international distribution in both small and large retailers.  In the Boston area, Boxed Water is Better is carried at Bloomingdale’s.  You can also order a carton of 12 or 24 online.  One 500 ml box cost $1.00.  Cheap!!!

While I still think it is better to use a BPA-free, stainless steel water bottle, there are definitely times when you need to buy one.  This is the solution for me! I’d much rather drink out of a water box from a company with a socially responsible mission than a plastic water bottle.   Look for Boxed Water is Better in your area!

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

What is an EcoATM?

From time to time eco-friendly businesses contact me to blog about their product.  I’m impressed and wowed by the quality and “green” ingenuity of these products, including the most recent inquiry, EcoATM !

The EcoATM is a kiosk where you can recycle your new, used or broken phones, mp3 players and tablets and get cash for them.  Founded in 2008, the San Diego-based company has more than 600 kiosks in 40 states.  Their goal is to be located within five miles or closer to 90% of the US population to make e-waste recycling as convenient as possible.

Entrepreneur and founder Mark Bowles was inspired by a survey that found that only 3 percent of people worldwide recycle their mobile phones.  According to the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, the U.S. disposes of more than 384 million units of electronic waste each year, and less than 20 percent of that is recycled.  That leaves 80 percent dumped in landfills or burned, leaking toxic substances into the environment.

Let’s face it – many people need motivation to recycle and money is a great motivator.   That’s why the EcoATM is such a good solution to the recycling problem, and using the fully automated, self-serve kiosk, often in malls, is easy:

ecoATM in Mission Viejo

ecoATM in Mission Viejo (Photo credit: G A R N E T)

Simply place the mobile device in the ecoATM test station and submit your personal id, which is matched with an image of the seller taken at the kiosk.

The machine quickly evaluates the device, searches for the highest price in the worldwide market to sell it, and gives you cash on the spot. The process only takes a few minutes and the average seller walks away with approximately $25 to $300, depending on the device.  EcoATM staff remotely monitor every transaction. Each kiosk also has a free charging station and a place to recycle accessories.

What does EcoATM do with all these devices?  They refurbish 75 percent and the rest goes to reputable e-waste recyclers.

Security is of utmost importance to EcoATM and they go beyond what State and local laws require to ensure safety and deter stolen items or fraud; privacy information is also securely encrypted.  Furthermore, ecoATM works closely with law enforcement to locate stolen phones.

Kudos to EcoATM – a great example of the kind of inventiveness that can create jobs and help solve pressing environmental issues.

For more information and to find an ecoATM near you, visit www.ecoatm.com.

Information compiled from http://www.ecoatm.com.

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