Do You Recycle? Challenge

Day 244 – A new program just started in Atlanta, Georgia, to try to encourage more people to recycle.

“Atlanta’s Do You Recycle? Challenge is engaging 100 multifamily buildings citywide to provide recycling training and education to residents over the next 12 months, culminating in a public recognition event for the properties with the highest achievements in improving recycling participation and reducing the amount trash or nonrecyclables in the recycling.”recyclingpartnership.org

So why is Atlanta offering this challenge?

In the US, every year 22 million tons of household recyclables go to landfills, become litter, and pollute our waters. While packaging plays a key role in keeping products safe and transportable, it too often is discarded when it could be used again. Recycling protects resources from depletion, allows communities to manage the amount of trash they have to handle, and protects the environment by saving water and greenhouse gases.” – recyclingpartnership.org

The program is planned to run three years and hopes to include more multifamily homes. They hope their efforts will keep more recyclables out of landfills.

Live Thrive, an Atlanta-based recycling non-profit organization, will serve as the community hub for the Do You Recycle? Challenge. Last year Live Thrive’s Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM) diverted 1370 tons of items from the landfill.

Participating properties will receive:

– Technical assistance
– Education materials
– Signage
– Public recognition
– An improved sustainability amenity

If Atlanta can prove that such a program can be successful in diverting recyclable material from to the landfill, then there is no reason why it should not be pushed out to cities around the country. Would you be ready for the challenge?

Tomorrow, an option to recycle your old CDs, DVDs and VHS tapes.

Declutter and Get Organized

Day 116 – Today is Get Organized Day! My senior year of high school, I was given the title, “Most Organized”. It wasn’t the most exciting title, but it wasn’t the worst either. I have carried that organizational skill into my adulthood. However, there are times when things fall of the rails and I find myself with a lot of stuff, everywhere.

Women’s Day shared a list of over 100 ways to get organized. Here are 10 tips from the list. I have added an eco-friendly spin on most of them.

  1. Sort your fridge like a grocery store – By organizing your refrigerator you can cut back on food waste.
  2. Pick your favorite cleaning products – No need to have 100 products and all those single-use plastic bottles and make sure those products are environmentally friendly.
  3. Put everything in its place – If there’s no place for it, then it needs to be rehomed.
  4. Get rid of things you never wear – This tip mentions throwing away your stained or ripped clothing. A better option would be to mend or donate to a textile recycler.
  5. Cut down on paper towel use – Start using old rags and t-shirts to help with the dirty work.
  6. Borrow special-use kitchen appliances – Not only will it save you space, but it will be one less thing you have to get rid of when you realize you never use it.
  7. Get rid of makeup you don’t use – Pare down your cosmetics so that it all fits in one portable bag. Recycle the cosmetics you don’t want anymore.
  8. Stay on top of your bills – Make a list of all the bills that need to be paid and check them off as they get paid. Make sure to go paperless.
  9. Get rid of expired beauty products, medicine, and coupons twice a year – When you adjust your clocks each spring and fall, also weed out expired medicine, sunscreen and smoke detector batteries, to name a few.
  10. When you declutter, before tossing anything in the trash, find out if it can be donated or recycled.

Getting things organized can make you feel better. However, throwing all those unwanted items in the trash can really bring down the mood. So, do your research! Here’s a Recycling and Donation Resource to get you started.

Another great option is to hire a professional organizer. He or she will help you get your life in order and can assist you in accomplishing it in an eco-friendly way. For anyone living in the Chicagoland area, Kelly Brask, Certified Professional Organizer, can help bring order to your home and office. Consider hiring Kelly for your next big decluttering task.

Tomorrow, growing a healthy lawn without pesticides.

First Recycle Popup is in the Books

Day 108 – Yesterday, the Northcenter Neighborhood Association hosted their first Recycle Popup. The set up started at 8am. With the tent up, tables out, bins marked and smiling faces under masks, we were ready to welcome our neighbors by 9am.

The first hour was slow. However, things picked up between 10-11am. Everyone was so happy to be parting with items that they had been saving for months (some even years). They were waiting for someone to rescue these items before they ended up in the trash. It felt good to be part of the solution.

Our helpers were kept busy, sorting all the items and making sure they were placed in the correct bins. I would like to say we were somewhat organized.

The last hour was very busy and we ended the morning with a bang! The next step was to figure out what to do with everything!

We were able to ship three boxes to TerraCycle. Those included, one box of dental and personal hygiene products (toothbrushes, mouthwash bottles and caps, soap packaging, dental floss containers, toothpaste tubes and caps, deodorant containers and caps) and two boxes of plastic food containers.

The amount of batteries we collected was absolutely crazy. It was easily over 100 pounds (if not more). With government agencies like the EPA saying that batteries can be placed in the trash, no one is recycling batteries anymore without a fee. I will be looking high and low for various places to send the batteries. I can’t imagine collecting that amount of batteries every month. Hopefully, people will consider using rechargeable batteries. Not only are they reusable, but they are easily recyclable (without a fee).

We collected ink cartridges, contact lenses and packaging, beauty products, eyeglasses, keys, phone cases, plastic cards, razors (and packaging), crayons, BRITA water filters (and pitchers), and lots and lots of CDs, DVDs and VHS tapes. My daughter and I were very excited about the plastic bread tags!

My car was packed to the brim and emptied into my basement. The next phase is getting all these items to their appropriate destination. I’m giving myself two weeks to get it done, so that I’m ready to go for the next popup on May 15th. I’ll be sure to give another update to fill you in on where everything ended up.

A big thanks to everyone involved with making our inaugural Recycle Popup a success. I am looking forward to improving this event and making it something everyone gets excited about.

Be sure to stay up to date with all the items the Recycle Popup excepts. Click HERE for the list.

Tomorrow, celebrating our National Parks.

Recycling Pop-up Coming Soon!

Day 95 – I’m so excited to be part of the Northcenter Neighborhood Association‘s first Recycling Pop-up! The event will take place on Saturday, April 17th from 9am-12pm, at the Northcenter Town Square (a block north of the Starbucks at the Damen/Lincoln/Irving intersection). We are not able to take all those hard to recycle items, so please check the list below to see which items we will be accepting.

You don’t need to live in the neighborhood or be a member to drop things off. (Though we’d love you to help us keep this going by becoming a member or donating). We hope to expand our list every month, enabling you to recycle more and send less to the landfill.

We will collecting on the following dates,

  • April 17 (9am-12pm)
  • May 15 (9am-12pm)
  • June 19 (9am-12pm)
  • July 17 (9am-12pm)
  • August 21 (9am-12pm)
  • September 18 (9am-12pm)
  • October 16 (9am-12pm)

Hopefully, the weather cooperates and we can collect in November & possibly December.

The items that will be accepted:

  • Baby food packaging: Flexible or rigid plastic packaging; shrink labels; plastic containers; plastic lids; flexible plastic pouches; small and large hook Gerber baby clothing hangers
  • Batteries (alkaline only)
  • Beauty products: All skin care, hair care and cosmetic packaging, including specific lines (Rodan & Fields and Arbonne)
  • Contact lenses and packaging
  • Dental/personal hygiene products: toothbrushes, mouthwash bottles and caps, soap packaging, dental floss containers, toothpaste tubes and caps, deodorant containers and caps (Note: Packages should be empty; they do not need to be washed out.)
  • Food storage containers (glass and plastic)
  • Glue sticks
  • Inkjet cartridges (Note: no toner cartridges)
  • Keys
  • Phone cases
  • Plastic cards: IDs, licenses, credit cards, business cards, gift cards, key cards. (Note: Please cut up all cards containing sensitive information before dropping off.)
  • Popsockets: Popsocket products and packaging
  • Razors: All brands of blades and razors; rigid plastic packaging; flexible plastic bag packaging (Note: no electric razors)
  • Swiffer products: dry refills, wet refills, XL refills, WetJets refills, duster refills
  • Toys (Please click on the manufacturer names below for lists of accepted brands)
  • Hasbro toys and games
  • LeapFrog
  • Spin Master (Etch-a-sketch, Kinetic sand and more)
  • VTech
  • Watercolor dispensers and paint sets
  • Water filter products: BRITA ONLY. Filters, pitchers, dispensers, bottles, faucet systems and packaging
  • Writing instruments (empty) and flexible packaging

We will also be collecting charitable items:

Be sure to check out the Northcenter Neighborhood Association’s website for the most up-to-date information regarding the pop-up event.

Feel free to send any questions my way about the event. I will be happy to answer them! (smgaietto@gmail.com)

If you would like to find out more about how this event was created and how you can bring this to your neighborhood, do not hesitate to ask. It is very doable and I have no doubt it will be very successful in diverting large amounts of waste from going to the landfill.

Hope to see some familiar faces on April 17th!

Tomorrow, a circular economy is the solution to our recycling problems.

Help Save the Polar Bears by Fighting Climate Change

Day 58 – Today is International Polar Bear Day! Those absolutely majestic arctic creatures that are endangered of extinction because of global warming.

“Every winter, Arctic sea ice grows around the pole, its frozen tendrils threading along northern coasts. Right now sea ice has just passed its peak coverage for the year, and will begin to shrink with the coming of spring. It’s a crucial time for polar bears, whose food supply is inextricably linked to sea ice. And in recent decades, sea ice has been shrinking faster than ever. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, 2019 has the seventh-lowest sea ice cover in the Arctic since they began collecting satellite data 40 years ago.” – National Geographic

Global warming is that gargantuan problem that seems impossible to tackle, absolutely absurd to comprehend and inconceivable to think that any of us could actually help the situation. But what if I told you, you could make a difference in your everyday life? And that the choices you make on a daily basis could help the polar bears?

Some of these suggestions have been mentioned in past posts. They are practical, easy and do not require much effort. If they are followed on a regular basis, they could have a huge impact on decreasing global warming.

  1. Waste less food. Composting and/or making sure you eat your leftovers, can make a huge impact on the amount of food you throw away.
  2. Eat less factory-farmed red meat. As mentioned on Day 15, reducing the amount of red meat in your diet can reduce greenhouse gases.
  3. Consume less energy and water. On Day 10, I shared a list of ways to reduce your energy and water use.
  4. Shop local. Not only are you putting dollars into your community, but you are reducing carbon emissions. By shopping local goods do not need to be shipped to you.
  5. Support non-profits fighting global warming. Your donation dollars can help initiatives and movements to help improve our planet.
  6. Recycle and purchase recycled material. On Day 26, I write about purchasing recycled toilet paper. There are countless options when looking for products made from recycled material.
  7. Find alternatives to single use plastic. Whether if it’s reusable produce bags or reusable storage bags, finding alternatives to single use plastics is become easier every day.
  8. Try to use your car less. Walking and biking are great options, along with public transportation.
  9. Consume less and waste less. Sometimes you just have to say no and realize that there are things you just don’t need.
  10. Open a dialogue and find common ground on the subject. The more we talk about global warming, the more people will understand and want to help.

Click HERE to read about 101 ways to fight climate change.

So, skip the cheeseburger, ride a bike, purchase recycled toilet paper, or shop at a local farmers market. All these decisions can reduce greenhouse gases and give those polar bears a fighting chance.

Tomorrow, our love-hate relationship with clothes.

Beauty Products: A place for your empties

Day 37 – I cleaned out the bathroom with the oldest daughter. She let me know what was going and what was staying. It was ridiculous how much product was acquired in a short time. After the big clean out, I was left with numerous containers. Some were recyclable, while others were not. So, the next task was to find a place to recycle these non-recyclables.

I didn’t have to look far. I had read that Nordstrom’s had partnered with TerraCycle.

TerraCycle® and Nordstrom have partnered to create a national program for all brands of beauty and skincare product packaging with Nordstrom BEAUTYCYCLE. Nordstrom aims to recycle 100 tons of beauty packaging by 2025, and you can play a part.” – TerraCycle

All you have to do is find your closest Nordstrom store. Locate the BEAUTYCYCLE box (located in the beauty product section). Deposit your beauty products and skincare packaging, such as pump caps, hair spray triggers, lipstick cases, eyeliner pencils, and mascara tubes. It’s as easy as that!

Tomorrow, lessening the need for paper towels.

Earth911: A newsletter that helps you help the planet

Day 31Earth911 has an abundance of useful information for those looking to make changes or those wanting to continue to live a life of sustainability. If you’re looking for a recycling location, Earth911 can help. If you’re looking for suggestions on how to recycle, Earth911 can help. If you’re looking for ways to make better purchases that will not harm the planet, but can actually help it, Earth 911 can help.

The Earth911 newsletter has been invaluable when it comes to providing useful information. I have found numerous helpful articles.

Send Your Pill Bottles to Do Some Good – Now that I take a daily allergy medicine, there is no doubt that the prescription bottles will start piling up. I now have a place where I can send them and help others!

Recycling Mystery: Kitchen Sponges and Scouring Pads – This article gave me suggestions on what to use instead of popular kitchen sponge, which isn’t easily recyclable and they add to the microplastic problem endangering our waterways.

How to Recycle Your Old Cookware – The Earth911 articles give helpful tips on how you can divert countless household items from the landfill.

If you’re looking for another resource to help guide you on your journey to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, then be sure to signup for the Earth911 newsletter (found on their homepage).

Tomorrow, taking up a collection for the troops.

Bubble Wrap: Friend or foe

Day 25 – Happy Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day! In 1956, Marc Chavannes and Alfred Fielding put two shower curtains together and created air bubbles between the two curtains. They thought they were on to something and decided to move forward with the idea. Their creation went on to be wall paper!

Well, the wall paper was not a big hit and eventually the product evolved into what we know today as Bubble Wrap. For 60 years this squishy, air filled plastic has been protecting our most fragile possessions. Not to mention, its has been delighting children and adults alike. Whether, you take a more meticulous method by popping each individual bubble or create an explosive sound by stomping on it with your feet, there is no denying that Bubble Wrap is entertaining.

Nowadays, the Bubble Wrap is not as popular and has been replaced with air pillows and brown paper. However, if you find yourself in possession of this creatively engineered piece of plastic, be sure to use it wisely. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Recycle the Bubble Wrap with your plastic bags, of course, after you have enjoyed every single bubble.
  2. Hold on to the Bubble Wrap for the next time you need to ship or store something delicate.
  3. Share your Bubble Wrap. There are plenty of people moving and in need of protective coverings.

Whatever you decide to do with your Bubble Wrap just don’t throw it away!

Tomorrow, a paper product that we take for granted, but could not imagine our life without it.

TerraCycle: Eliminating the idea of waste

Day 23TerraCycle was born in 2001, when a freshman at Princeton University took food scraps to create quality fertilizer. Twenty years later, Tom Szaky has grown the company and its programs to include over 202 million people in 21 countries that have helped to collect and recycle enough waste to raise over 44 million dollars for charities around the world. TerraCycle has made recycling those hard to recycle items a little bit easier.

Here’s how it works (as seen on TerraCycles website):

  1. Free Recycling Programs – TerraCycle offers free recycling programs funded by brands, manufacturers, and retailers around the world to help you collect and recycle your hard-to-recycle waste. Simply choose the programs you’d like to join; start collecting in your home, school, or office; download free shipping labels; and send us your waste to be recycled. You can even earn rewards for your school or favorite non-profit!
  2. Zero Waste Box – TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Box™ platform allows you to recycle almost any type of waste, from your coffee capsules to complex laboratory waste. Choose the waste stream you’d like to recycle, purchase your preferred box size, collect your waste, and send it to TerraCycle to be repurposed (shipping is included).
  3. Municipal Programs – TerraCycle partners with many municipalities around the world to provide zero waste solutions such as city-wide programs for recycling cigarette butts.
  4. Industrial Waste Solutions – TerraCycle partners with many manufacturing facilities around the world to help recycle hard-to-recycle waste at the facility level. Our programs range from helping to recycle large volumes of packaging scrap to personal safety equipment.
  5. Regulated Waste Recycling – TerraCycle’s regulated waste division provides products and services to help you facilitate the effective and compliant management of regulated, universal and hazardous waste. This may include fluorescent lamps, bulbs, batteries, and e-waste as well as organic waste, medical waste and other waste streams that are potentially harmful to the environment.

In the coming months, I will discuss my participation in various programs offered by TerraCycle. I’ll be sure to include the pros and cons, so you can decide if it can be a viable option for your recycling needs.

Tomorrow, the dilemma of what to do with old furniture.

How2Recycle: Labels that help

Day 9 – How2Recycle began is 2008 as a project of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. There main goals, as described on their website:

Our Goals

  • Reduce confusion by creating a clear, well-understood, and nationally harmonized label that enables companies to convey to consumers how to recycle a package.
  • Improve the reliability, completeness, and transparency of recyclability claims.
  • Provide a labeling system that follows Federal Trade Commission Green Guides.
  • Increase the availability and quality of recycled material.

Currently, they have 225 brands and retailer members who are making their packaging more recyclable.

Recycling can be confusing and some of the time to we find ourselves wishfully recycling. This is when we are not entirely sure if something is recyclable, but go ahead and place it in the recycle bin, hoping it will be recycled. I know I have been guilty of this practice. Unfortunately, many of those wishful recyclables end up contaminating the true recyclable items and preventing them from being recycled. More times than not, it all ends up in a landfill.

How2Recycle takes the guess work out of identifying where an object can go. Hopefully, more businesses will use this labeling system, but for now make sure you are keeping an eye out for the How2Recycle label on your household items.

Check out this poster for a good reminder on what plastics can be recycled and which can not. And always remove any labels from plastic you intend to recycle. Sometimes it takes a pair of scissors.

Tomorrow, we’re going to celebrate a National Holiday of sorts and explain why everyone should be participating.