New Year’s Resolutions that will Help the Planet

Day 364 – Last year when I decided to write a daily post involving the environment, I wasn’t sure if I would stick with it the entire year. I can’t even tell you how many New Year Resolutions have been abandoned over the years. Now this particular idea was more of a project than a resolution, but nonetheless, something I wanted to do the entire year. I’m pretty happy that by tomorrow, I can say that I was able to follow through with my goal.

So, in today’s post I thought I would encourage you to start your own project or New Year’s resolution. It doesn’t matter what you call it, just try your best to see it through until the end. And maybe it leads to the next year and the next, and so on and so on. Maybe you decide to do something to benefit the planet every month. It could maybe look like this:

  1. January – Start composting, at home or with a commercial composter.
  2. February – Make an effort to do a better job recycling. Keep recyclables out of the trash and keep trash out of the recycle bin.
  3. March – Replace your single-use plastics with reusables. For example, stop using plastic water bottles and start using a reusable water bottle.
  4. April – Replace those single-use plastic bags with reusables. Switch out the plastic shopping bags, produce bags and Ziploc bags, with reusable bags.
  5. May – Avoid extra food packaging by avoiding individually wrapped items. For example, instead of buying individual bags of chips, buy a large bag and use reusable containers to create individual portions.
  6. June – Start cutting out meat once a week, maybe even twice a week.
  7. July – Avoid packaging by using reusable containers. Our hand soap and laundry detergent use reusable containers.
  8. August – Start looking at labels and seek out companies that are doing good for the planet.
  9. September – Exchange your throwaways with reusables. Swap your paper napkins for cloth napkins. Swap your alkaline batteries with rechargeable batteries.
  10. October – Turn down the extras. Say no thank you to the small packets of condiments. So no thank you to the complimentary items you know you don’t need or will not use.
  11. November – Put a sweater on and turn down the heat a few degrees.
  12. December – Consider sustainable gift giving and reusable or recyclable gift wrap.

If implementing a change every monthly seems too easy and not much of a challenge, then consider doing something every two weeks or even once a week. The more you can do the better off the planet will be.

Tomorrow, a look back at the year.

Making a Difference in Chicago

Day 361 – Chicago has its fair share of problems. Crime, unethical politicians and the current state of our sports teams, are just a few of the challenges that residents face. Thankfully, their are plenty of amazing and wonderful things happening in the city as well. In today’s post I wanted to share information on a few organizations that are making a positive influence on the people of Chicago and the planet as a whole.

Plant Chicago

“We equip people and businesses with the tools to live more sustainably through community-driven, hands-on programs and innovative research projects. We are now in the process of renovating an abandoned firehouse as a center for circular economy programming in the Back of the Yards neighborhood on the southwest side of Chicago.” – Plant Chicago

CCRX

Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange is a nonprofit organization committed to the creative reuse and redistribution of surplus materials for arts, non-profit, education in the Chicago-area.

Community Glue Workshop

Inspired the repair cafe movement in Amsterdam, Community Glue Workshop’s goals are to divert repairable items from the waste stream (or repurpose them if need be), encourage critical thinking, debunk the relentless myth that newer is better and foster community.” Community Glue Workshop

The Chicago Tool Library

The Chicago Tool Library opened in fall of 2019. Located on the southwest side of Chicago, in the Bridgeport neighborhood, our non-profit lending library houses over 2,500 items that range from basic hand tools and table saws to ice cream makers and camping equipment. We are a forward-thinking organization hoping to help our city reshape its relationship to ownership, consumption, and creativity.” – The Tool Library

Chicago Green Theater Alliance

The Chicago Green Theatre Alliance was founded in 2014 with a mission to encourage, educate, and motivate theatres and theatre professionals to work together to adopt more environmentally-friendly practices.” – Chicago Green Theater Alliance

The Chicago Green Theater routinely hosts events that help the environment. They host textile and e-waste recycling drives, along with helping the theater industry adopt more sustainable practices.

There are so many more people doing great things in your community. Make it point to seek them out and support them any way you can.

Tomorrow, inspiring the youth to make a difference.

Christmas Tree Recycling

Day 360 – If you’re not boxing or bagging up your Christmas tree at the end of the season to reuse next year, then you either don’t have one or you have a real tree. And if you have a real tree you should not throw it away. In the city of Chicago you can have your tree turned into mulch

By foregoing the landfill, your tree won’t be rotting away releasing greenhouse gas emissions or taking up landfill space; instead, the mulch it creates will be used to benefit plants and soil at local parks and forests.” – Recycle By City

Chicago’s Tree Recycling Program runs from January 8th through the 22nd at 26 parks across the City. 

A few things to know before dropping off your tree.

  1. Only live/natural trees without flocking are accepted.
  2. No garland or wreaths.
  3. All tinsel, ornaments, lights, and stands must be removed.
  4. Plastic bags used for transport should also be removed before putting trees in the stalls. 

Six locations will also provide free mulch on a first-come, first-served basis, starting January 12th: Lincoln Park, Margate Park, Mt. Greenwood Park, North Park Village, Warren Park, and the Forestry Site.

To see a complete list of all 26 participating parks, click HERE!

If you don’t live in Chicago and want to find your closest tree recycling location, click HERE! Type in Christmas trees and your zip code.

Start the new year off with a gift to the planet.

Tomorrow, Chicago organizations helping the planet.

Easy Tips to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Day 359Redfish Recycling has come out with some easy tips to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Reduce

  • Buy only what you will use – If you have leftovers of something, especially paint or chemicals, pass it along to someone who can use it instead of throwing it away.
  • Purchase products packaged with less waste – Always choose easily recycled products over wasteful ones, buy larger containers that you can divide yourself rather than single serve that use excess packaging, and reconsider bottled water.
  • Remember your grocery bags – Instead of taking home bundles of plastic bags, consider bringing reusable bags to the store. Most stores also offer paper and plastic bag recycling bins.

Reuse

  • Choose durable goods over disposable ones – One higher quality razor creates much less waste than multiple disposables.
  • Donate before throwing away – When getting rid of unwanted possessions such as clothing, appliances, or equipment, donate them to an organization that can reuse them. Places like Goodwill and the Salvation Army are happy to repair and redistribute these items.
  • Use washable dishware over paper and plastic – Most restaurants are willing to fill your reusable travel mug instead of a disposable cup.

Recycle

A lot of what you cannot reduce or reuse can be recycled – in fact, the EPA estimates that 75% of everything we throw away can be recycled!

You can recycle:

  • Paper and Cardboard
  • Newspaper
  • Magazines
  • Cardboard Boxes
  • Glass
  • Mail
  • Books
  • Paperboard Food Boxes and Cartons
  • Plastic (#1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
  • Metal
  • Aluminum Cans
  • Tin Cans

Make 2022 a year of reducing, reusing and recycling!

Tomorrow, ways to recycle your tree.

B-Corporations: Best for the World

Day 358 – I have written about B-Corporations throughout the year. These are businesses that put people and planet before profits. They have made a commitment to better their communities, ensure their employees work under the best conditions and that their product does not harm the planet and may even benefit it.

Every year the B Lab recognizes the top-performing B Corps creating the greatest impact through their businesses. The Best of the World highlights community, customers, environment, governance and workers.

Click on each category for a complete list of winners.

Best for the World: Community

Best for the World: Customers

Best for the World: Environment

Best for the World: Governance

Best for the World: Workers

Help support these amazing companies around the world that are making a difference in the world.

Tomorrow, choosing reducing over recycling.

Recycling Antifreeze

Day 353 – Antifreeze lowers the freezing point of the water in your engine and prevents boiling in high temperatures. So, it is necessary for your car to use antifreeze throughout the year. There are two types of antifreeze, toxic and non-toxic. Antifreeze made from ethylene glycol is toxic. Antifreeze made from propylene glycol is non-toxic and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for safe human consumption in low doses.

Tips on Recycling Antifreeze:

  1. If unopened, it will last indefinitely.
  2. Once opened it should last up to eight years.
  3. Some auto stores will accept antifreeze to have recycled. Check the Earth911 database for local recycling options. 
  4. Take it to your local household hazardous waste (HHW) program.
  5. Many HHW locations operate swap shops where you can pick-up free products. This is a great way to get more antifreeze.

Most used antifreeze is recycled into new coolant by filtering out any metals or oil and adding new chemicals. So, you may be buying recycled antifreeze without even knowing it.” – Earth911

Tomorrow, to boycott or not to boycott palm oil.

Give Back Box

Day 350 – If you have an empty box and things you no longer want and would like to donate, then Give Back Box is exactly what you need. This time of year we all have plenty of shipping boxes being delivered. Instead of breaking those boxes down and having them recycled, you can load them up with items to donate.

You can either download a free shipping label or pay $15 and choose a charity of your choice.

The purpose of Give Back Box® is to provide an effortless and convenient method of donating your used household items. Give Back Box not only provides an easy way to be part of a truly good cause, it gives a secondary use to corrugated boxes and guarantees they will be recycled.. So this is an all-round CSR & Sustainability solution.” – Give Back Box

This holiday season give your cardboard boxes a new life and help others while you’re doing it.

Tomorrow, an interesting location for solar panels.

Green Apps Helping You Live an Eco-friendly Life

Day 344 – I tried writing this post a few times and ending up changing topics, because I couldn’t find a good number of helpful environmentally friendly apps. So, when I saw the post by Earth911, 10 Green Apps To Help You Live More Sustainably, I knew that this would be a good time to share the information. With a new year closely approaching, these apps can help your resolutions to being more eco-friendly, become a reality.

Here are five from the list:

  1. iRecycle – iRecycle is Earth911.com in your pocket, the premiere application for finding local convenient recycling opportunities when you are on the go or at home. iRecycle provides access to more than 1,600,000 ways to recycle over 350 materials in the United States. Our daily sustainable living articles, podcasts, and recycling how-to guides are available any time you need information.
  2. Too Good to Go – Join millions of food waste warriors by downloading Too Good To Go – the world’s number 1 app for fighting food waste. Pick up delicious meals and ingredients from local stores. Each year, 40% all edible food in the US is thrown away. At Too Good To Go we want to put an end to food waste by creating a world where food produced is food consumed.
  3. GreenChoice – We rate food products and curate the best options for you & the planet.
  4. ShareWaste – We connect people who wish to recycle their food scraps and other organics with their neighbors who are already composting, worm-farming or keep farm animals. Now you can divert organic material from landfill while getting to know the people around you!
  5. PaperKarma – PaperKarma provides the largest directory in the US for opting out of junk mail, including: Catalogs, Charity Donation Requests, Credit Card & Insurance Offers, Direct Marketers, Local Mailers, National Mailers, and Previous Resident /Occupants’ Junk Mail.

Making a positive impact on the planet is just an app away.

Tomorrow, plastic roads.

Reusable Mailers: Helping Reduce Waste

Day 341 – I recently placed an order with Toad & Co. and was given the option to choose a reusable mailer. There was no charge for choosing this option, but I was going to have to be responsible for sending the reusable mailer back to the company. I of course chose to use the reusable mailer. Dropping it off at the UPS store with the provided prepaid postage was a very easy task.

When you consider global e-commerce sales are expected to hit $4.2 trillion this year and around 76 percent of U.S. adults shop online, there is no doubt there is a lot of packaging involved. Mailers being just one of the many shipping options. Many of these mailers can be recycled. Some can be recycled with your cardboard boxes. While others can be recycled with plastic film (#4). Some mailers can even be reused. Unfortunately, many people choose to discard these mailers in the trash.

This time of year, the number of mailers ending up in the trash increases tenfold. It’s a hectic time for many and the idea of separating the increased packaging coming through the door seems like a daunting task. More companies need to have the option of sending your newly purchased items in a reusable mailer. The consumer needs it and more importantly the planet needs it.

If you’re ever given the opportunity to use a reusable mailer, make sure you take it. And more importantly, make sure you send it back!

Tomorrow, feeding cows seaweed.

From Garbage Island to Recycling Success Story

Day 340 – In the 90s, Taiwan was only collecting about 70 percent of its trash and very little of that was being recycled. Their landfills were reaching capacity. After many protests and the call from residents to improve the situation, the government drafted a new waste management framework encouraging citizens and manufacturers to adopt practices to reduce the amount of waste produced.

Companies play an active role either by handling their own garbage or by paying a waste fee subsidizing a government-run fund for waste infrastructure. Taiwanese citizens must put their mixed waste into government-approved blue bags they purchase. By contrast, recyclable materials like glass, aluminum and paper can be placed in any kind of bag. Classical music piped from trucks alert local residents that it’s time to go outside with bags containing the recyclables and mixed waste. A bright yellow pickup truck collects general trash, while a smaller white truck behind it has a set of bins into which people can throw recyclable materials, from raw food to cardboard.” – Smithsonian Magazine

Taiwan has gone from not recycling much of their waste, to reclaiming 55 percent from households and 77 percent from industries. Many factors go into Taiwan’s successful recycling initiative. However, two stand out as being integral to the program.

  1. Taiwan has created a recycling booth, where residents can bring their recyclables if they happen to miss the truck. By bringing these items to the recycle booth, value is added to their transit card.
  2. Taiwan has companies that are researching ways to take recyclables and various other waste streams and create building materials and other useful products. Arthur Huang and his team at Miniwiz have experimented on over 1,200 different waste materials to figure out their mechanical properties, in hopes to create new products for reuse.

Taiwan is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when you have the cooperation from the government, the business sector and residents.

Tomorrow, reusable mailers helping keep trash out of the landfill.