Posts Tagged ‘recycling’

London Going Green!

London, like most places, is making an effort to recycle more, cut carbon emissions, conserve energy and eat locally.  Check it out…..

A “mini-dump” or recycling area in a central London neighborhood.

image

Including bins for old clothes,books and small electrical appliances.

image

 

London’s double-decker busses use green power! “Another red bus going green for LONDON”

london  double decker busses

 

 Charging stations for electric cars!

image

 

London’s power outlets turn on and off to avoid “vampire energy”.

english plug

A charming neighborhood farmer’s market.  Of course Europeans have traditionally food shopped that way.

2nd marleybone farmers market

marleybone farmers market

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

 

 

 

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!

Green Entrepreneurs – Part 2

Last week I focused on Cape Cod entrepreneurs.  This week I am highlighting off Cape green companies.

Where Clothes – I have to put a plug in for my industrious daughter Amy Wild who runs this earth friendly clothing line.  Each one of a kind piece of clothing is designed, repurposed and constructed by Amy who uses vintage, antique and recycled materials. (Many of her designs feature antique lace.). She also has an adorable line of children’s clothes, accessories and takes custom orders as well.  Amy’s passion for protecting the environment and humanity along with her artistic flair and creativity is what drives her business.   All of these clever and unique upcycled items are available on-line.

photo 2

photo 1

Soluna Garden FarmFrom her one-acre farm in Winchester, MA, Amy Hirschberg sustainably grows herbs and flowers, specializing in unusual herbs like Mexican oregano, lemon verbena, and caraway scented thyme.  She offers CSAs for both the herbs and flowers, all grown without chemical fertilizers, preservatives and pesticides. Soluna Farms participates in several farmers’ markets in the area selling tea, herb and spice blends, nutritional and medicinal tea and power food blends, and interesting salts, all grown with certified organic ingredients from companies with fair business practices.  Now you can find Soluna Farm’s great selection of teas, tea flowers, accessories and other specialty items at their storefront location in Winchester.  You can also get tea by the cup, served of course in compostable cups.  If you are in the Boston area, visit this unique herb, spice and tea emporium or go on-line to purchase most products.

gohspa Beth Gaudette’s green, organic and holistic (hence the name gohspa) day spa and beauty salon is a treat for the skin, the body and the mind.  Beth has been a dedicated green cosmetologist for over two decades, well before it became fashionable.  She sees gohspa as a place to relax with a focus on wellness and healthful beauty.  Services in this warm and inviting green spa include organic manicures and pedicures, holistic facials, makeovers, hair removal, body care treatments and massages. gohspa also offers alternative services like Tui Na, a cross between acupressure and Shiatsu and tuning forks.  I highly recommend the gohAGE-with-grace Facial, a preventative procedure that uses gentle machine assisted rhythmic action to encourage improved lymph flow and the release of toxins, along with carefully chosen organic products.  Your skin will look younger and more radiant! gohspa’s caring and capable technicians assure your spa experience will be exceptional, ultra relaxing and healthy!

With their passion and conscientious approach to all things “green”, these hard-working green entrepreneurs are making a difference.  Email me about the unusual and creative green things entrepreneurs are doing in your area!

What Mass Save Can Do For You!

For my Massachusetts readers, I imagine many of you are familiar with Mass Save and their energy efficiency initiatives like the free energy audit program for your home or office.  For those of you who aren’t, Mass Save is a program you want to get to know! Mass Save is an initiative sponsored by Massachusetts’ gas and electric utilities and energy efficiency service providers to provide a wide range of services, incentives, trainings, and information promoting energy efficiency that help residents and businesses manage energy use.  In addition to the free energy audit of your home or office, they provide incentives, rebates, and information on products such as LED and CFL lightbulbs, room air cleaners, light fixtures, and advanced power strips.

One of their newer programs focuses on refrigerator recycling.  To encourage responsible recycling, they are offering a $50.00 rebate when you schedule a pick up of your second refrigerator or freezer. All you do is call or go on-line and make sure you meet the following requirements:

  •       Unit must be between 10 and 30 cubic feet using inside measurements.
  •       A second fridge and/or freezer – not your primary fridge or freezer.
  •       Clean, empty and in working order at the time of pick-up.
  •       Accessible with a clear path for removal by recycling contractor.

Like the EcoATM I wrote about a few weeks ago which pays you for recycling old cell phones, this incentive program is a smart way to keep appliances out of the landfill.  Sometimes a little financial perk gives us just the push we need to do the right thing.

Mass Save’s innovative programs are specific to Massachusetts, but most utility companies offer something similar. After all, they have the same objectives of saving energy, saving money and recycling.  To find programs in your area, check out these websites.

ENERGY STAR: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=recycle.pr_refrigerator_rec

ENERGY STAR – Rebate Finder: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=rebate.rebate_locator

DSIRE: http://www.dsireusa.org/

Interested in Saving Money, Saving Energy and Winning an Advanced Power Strip?  

Read on…….

Now that it’s back to school and more energy will be consumed with computers, printers, and other electronics in use, it’s a good idea to consider using an energy-saving power strip.  I will send out a brand new advanced power strip to two readers who send me their most creative energy efficiency tips.  What’s yours?

 

 

Be the Green Czar in Your Office!

A typical modern office

As you move towards a greener lifestyle, greening your office is important too.  Whether you work from home or away, follow the simple steps below.

  • When possible, use energy star equipment – computers, printers, copiers, fax machines, coffee makers, etc. – for maximum energy efficiency.
  • Recycle print cartridges at office supply stores and use soy ink cartridges, which require less oil to manufacture and emit fewer air pollutants.
  • Keep your screen saver blank instead of the energy hogging, hypnotic graphics ones.  They aren’t good for our eyes anyway!
  • Paper copies are less important these days, but if you do have to print something, print on both sides of the paper – most printers have a 2-sided property – and use recycled paper.  Also, set your printer to economy mode or eco-tone.  Most new printers have this setting, which uses less ink.
  • If your office is not already recycling used paper, set up a recycling center (for cans, bottles and plastic too) and organize a weekly or monthly pick up from a local recycling company. Or, reuse unwanted paper for scrap paper.

    Colorful Recycling Containers for Trash

    Colorful Recycling Containers for Trash (Photo credit: epSos.de)

  • For interoffice memos, use email rather than paper.  Most offices already do that and even email is becoming antiquated with Facebook messaging, google chatting and texting!
  • In your office kitchen, install a water filter system instead of using individual water bottles or big plastic water containers.
  • The average American goes through 500 disposable cups every year, so use ceramic mugs, not polystyrene (Styrofoam®) or plastic cups for coffee or water. Use real spoons instead of plastic stirrers. Set up a recycling center in the kitchen too.
  • Replace incandescent light bulbs with longer lasting, energy-efficient CFLs (compact fluorescents) or LED bulbs.
  • Clean your office with green cleaning supplies.
  • Reuse old packaging materials for shipping.
  • Houseplants are effective air cleaners, removing indoor air pollutants.  Place several plants near your printers, fax and photocopiers. They add beauty and tranquility as well.
  • When remodeling your office, use natural materials for furniture and carpet and low VOC paints instead of man-made laminates,  synthetic materials and conventional paints that outgas toxins.
  • When possible, ride public transportation, walk, bike or carpool to work.  You’ll save energy and start the day in a more relaxed way.

We spend most of our time at work, so setting up a green office is an important step to using less energy and leading a healthier lifestyle.  If your office isn’t as eco-friendly as it should be, take the lead and become the green czar in your office. A little initiative goes a long way!

A Greener Back to School

Sadly, another summer zipped by and school is just around the corner!  Whether you have a kindergartener or a college student, there are lots of green things you can do to get your family ready for school.

For young kids:

I loved my trips to Staples with my kids to get new pencils and pens, fresh, clean notebooks, binders and folders for the first day of school, but buying everything new can be wasteful and expensive.  Instead….

  • Reuse last year’s unfinished notebooks. Just tear out (and recycle) the used papers and they are as good as new.   If you need new ones, buy notebooks with recycled paper or paper made from natural fibers like banana or coffee.
  • If last year’s binders aren’t in good shape, buy those made from postconsumer waste and water-based glue.  Fill them with recycled binder paper.
  • Reuse last year’s pencils and pens; if you need more, opt for pencils made from reforested wood or recycled newspapers. For young elementary age kids, get nontoxic, phthalate-free crayons.
  • Pack a healthy lunch in a recyclable lunch bag; buy bulk size wholesome snacks and put them in reusable containers rather than snack-size, throwaway plastic baggies. A piece of fruit is the most beneficial snack option.
  • Walk, carpool or take a bus to school to cut down on carbon emissions.
  • For after school sports, don’t forget your BPA-free, reusable water bottle.

For older students:

Follow the above tips and…..

  • Be ahead of the curve; try a solar-powered bamboo calculator.
  • Fun, eco-chic backpacks made from 100% recycled cotton canvas or other recycled materials and messenger bags made from recycled rice sacks with printed graphics are the new look.  They are a lot more environmentally friendly than the traditional polyester or nylon ones.

For college students:

Moving in and out of dorms creates a lot of waste.  The amount of cardboard and plastic packaging for the new bedding, bath and personal care products, school supplies, etc. is overwhelming and recycling bins are often not available.

  • Instead of always buying new, reuse some things from home and try not to bring so much stuff.  Dorm rooms are small and you can get away with less.  When you do buy new things, buy them at school and avoid shipping.  Target stores are everywhere and even sell organic towels and sheets!  For futons and other furniture, graduating students often donate their old furniture or look on-line at craigslist.com or freecycle.com.
  • Use low energy certified microfridges, computers and tv’s.
  • Share appliances with friends – not everyone needs every appliance.
  • Use power strips instead of extension cords to save energy and keep air conditioning to a minimum.
  • Install CFL or LED light bulbs and turn off the lights when you leave the room.  Make sure to unplug your phone charger when not in use to eliminate vampire energy.
  • Instead of stocking up on water bottles, use a BPA free water bottle instead.
  • For the late night munchies, eat organic fruits and snacks and compost the waste.
  • Choose green cleaning supplies like Seventh Generation for washing your dishes (forget disposable ones) or cleaning your dorm room.
  • Houseplants make great air filters and improve air quality.
  • Get involved with on campus environmental groups, or start your own.  Several colleges now have local raised bed gardens – volunteer to work in them.  Working with the soil is a great stress reducer and you’ll learn a lot.
  • Solo cups are “the” party cups, but they take hundreds of years to decompose and some recycling centers don’t take them.  Solo has a new product line of products that are made using recycled, recyclable or compostable materials called Bare® by Solo.  Set an example and go for those!
  • For papers, always use recycled paper and don’t forget to recycle used paper, bottles and those ubiquitous beer cans!

You are never too young or too old to start making a difference by living greener!

Enjoy the rest of the summer – the weather is spectacular!  I’ll be back after Labor Day….

 

Some information compiled from Whole Living, September 2012 and Natural Living, September/October 2012.

 

 

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.

Green Moving

My husband and I are selling our house where we have spent 28 happy, important years. We raised our family here, expanding and changing the house as our family grew.  Now that the kids have gone, it’s time for another loving family.  We will move to a smaller place where we can lessen our carbon footprint.

Crystal earth recycle icon

I am sorting through years and years of accumulated “stuff”, making piles for giveaway, piles for recycling, piles for storage, piles for the kids. Vietnam Veterans, Big Brother/Big Sister, the Epilepsy Foundation and other service organizations gladly come to your home for unwanted items still in good shape or you can drop them off in their donation bins. Freecycle.org is another way to get rid of things.  Our town dump recycles electronics, appliances, books, metal, and clothes.  They also have a “dumptique” where you can dispose of discarded items – you barely get out of the car before someone grabs something!

I curse all the technology around the house that is obsolete almost immediately and comes with way too much packaging and the ubiquitous wires, plugs, and chargers that go with only one device.  I can’t believe all the CDs that no one listens to and cameras that no one uses now that we all have smart phones.  It’s shocking how quickly video games, players, and VHS tapes are outdated.   They can be donated thankfully, to thrift stores and freecycle.org.

Then, there are those things that can’t be donated or recycled and that I just can’t throw into the landfill, like dried-up make-up,  partly used personal care products, old partially used paint cans, spent markers and pens, half-burned petroleum-based candles, the countless samples doctors give out that definitely shouldn’t end up in the water table – the list goes on and on.  These items pose a real challenge.   GreenAmerica.org posted a list of where to recycle all sorts of unusual plastics like old yoga mats, Brita pitcher filters, and technotrash, and there are websites that offer ideas for reusing and crafting items like torn blue jeans. Unfortunately however, some items have to be thrown away.

It’s a lot of work to dispose of things properly, but it feels good, it’s cathartic.  I keep coming back to the thought however, that we all have way too much stuff!  Recycle, yes, reuse yes, but let’s reduce too!  Now, in my next phase the key is not to re-accumulate!  Who needs anything anyway?

If you aren’t familiar with Annie Leonard’s “The Story of Stuff”, it’s really worth watching this clever 20-minute animated documentary about the lifecycle of material goods.  Click here to visit her website.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 339 other followers