Day 245 – Today, you can stream pretty much anything. Music, movies, TV shows, video games and anything else you can think of, are ready to go without the need for disks or tapes. So, what can we do with all that stuff that once lined the shelves of your media cabinet? There are some places that will take your old movies and CDs as a donation. There are even places that might even pay you. However, don’t expect to get rich from your collection. The need and want for these items is rapidly decreasing. As for your burned CDs or VHS tapes, no one wants those and throwing them out should not be an option.
Green Disk offers recycling services for your techno trash. Just a few of the items that Green Disk will accept, includes:
CDs, CD-Rs, CD-RWs and cases
DVDs and cases
Blu-ray and cases
3.5″ and 5.25″ floppy disks
Zip and Jazz disks
Audio cassette tapes
DAT, DLT, Beta and Digibeta
To see the complete list of accepted items, click HERE.
Green Disk offers a variety of ways to recycle your techno trash through numerous container options. Choose the size that fits your needs.
As technology advances and we find ourselves with items that we no longer need, it is our responsibility to try to find ways to dispose of items in an environmentally friendly way. At times there is a cost, but the cost to the planet is far greater if we don’t take proper action.
Tomorrow, old oyster shells being put to good use.
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.
– 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.
Day 243 – On Day 49, I spent some time writing about batteries and the difficulty in recycling them. After the EPA deemed them safe to throw away, anyone willing to take them to get recycled stop offering the free service. Now you need to pay a fee. I encourage everyone to use rechargeable batteries. They can be used 1,000 times and can be recycled easily and for free.
For those that feel the need to continue using alkaline batteries, then you should consider recycling them responsibly. Battery Solutions will do the job for a fee. They have various recycling kits to fit various needs.
We are ready to handle any volume, any size, any chemistry, any battery ever made. – Battery Solutions
They have responsibly recycled 178,934,861 batteries, have 6,956 partners and service 3 countries.
Recycling – We are committed to recycling every possible material from every battery.
Conservation – Partnering with local groups in southeast Michigan, we have contributed hybrid vehicle and electric vehicle battery shells to be turned into wildlife habitats.
Device Renewal – We restore broken and unwanted cell phones and tablets back into usable tech.
Education – We offer tours and education programs on site at our facilities, working with EGLE (The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy) as well as smaller local groups to promote battery recycling.
Global Connections – To help secure the future for these young recyclers, we are committed to supporting recycling at all levels. Outside of our direct community involvement, we are also supporters of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Stop throwing recyclable material in the trash. Battery Solutions can help you with that goal.
Though, I do believe these statements are true, we also need recycling. Even if it’s not perfect. Cardboard, glass and aluminum are all great options to avoid plastic. However, in order for them to be reused they need to be rescued from the landfill and recycled.
More than 28 million glass bottles and jars end up in landfills each year.
A pilot program to help save as many glass bottles from entering the landfill is underway in Chicago. The Don’t Trash Glass Program (DTG) is an eight-week program which seeks to collect glass containers at Greater Chicago area bars and restaurants to be recycled into new bottles, fiberglass and more.
The hope is that with more education and information, restaurants and bars will understand the importance of recycling. The goal is to create a self-sustaining program that will be scalable in other parts of the country.
Keeping highly recyclable materials out the landfill is our first step in the fight against waste. If we can not move forward in creating a circular economy with the materials we have, then we will run out places to bury it all
Tomorrow, building healthy and sustainable communities.
Day 239 – Maine is the first state in the nation to hold big corporations and brands accountable for the plastic waste and packaging they have created. Maine has joined more than 40 jurisdictions around the world to require companies that create packaging waste help pay for the costs of recycling. The new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for Packaging law (LD 1541) will increase recycling rates, reduce packaging pollution, and save taxpayers money.
For far too long all the responsibility for finding ways to recycle product packaging has been on the consumer. Finally, the responsibility will be on the manufacturers and companies that are producing the items. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a special type of waste management policy created to safely and responsibly dispose of difficult-to-recycle products and materials. EPR shifts the costs of dealing with difficult types of waste from town governments, to manufacturers and corporations, that have control over the safety and recyclability of the products they make and sell.
Provides incentives for producers and big corporations to make less waste and more eco-friendly packaging.
Takes the financial burden off taxpayers—so towns will no longer have to cut programs or raise taxes due to recycling costs.
Creates a uniform list of materials collected in each participating municipal recycling program.
There is no doubt that having this Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging Law, will make a huge difference in the waste produced in Maine. We can only hope that the example set in Maine will be the playbook that all states throughout the country follow.
Tomorrow, a company upcycling materials into new products.
Day 232 – There are currently over 2,000 landfills in the United States. The reason we have so many landfills is due to the fact that we, Americans, throw a lot of stuff away. We are constantly tossing things in the trash without giving a second thought as to where it goes. If we just took a moment to ask, “Where is away?”, maybe we could start making changes in our behavior to minimize the amount of waste we produce.
Rubicon is the leading provider of cloud-based waste and recycling solutions for businesses, governments, and organizations worldwide. With more than 4.9 million service locations, Rubicon focuses on developing software solutions that bring new transparency to the waste and recycling industry—encouraging customers to make data-driven decisions that lead to more efficient and effective operations as well as more sustainable outcomes.
Nine-tenths of all solid waste in the United States does not get recycled.
Landfills are among the biggest contributors to soil pollution – roughly 80% of the items buried in landfills could be recycled.
The U.S. recycling rate is around 34.5%. If we’re able to get the rate to 75%, the effect will be like removing 50 million passenger cars from U.S. roads.
9 out of 10 people said they would recycle if it were “easier”.
The United States throws away $11.4 billion worth of recyclable containers and packaging every year.
In the United States, we throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour – about 42,000 per minute, or about 695 per second.
The amount of plastic film and wrap produced annually could shrink-wrap the state of Texas.
According to a study done by the University of Georgia, 18 billion pounds of plastic trash winds up in our oceans each year. To put that in perspective, it’s enough trash to cover every foot of coastline around the world with five full trash bags of plastic…compounding every year.
Over 100,000 marine animals die every year from plastic entanglement and ingestion.
Glass, like aluminum, is infinitely recyclable – without any loss in purity or quality.
Glass container manufacturers hope to achieve 50 percent recycled content in the manufacture of new glass bottles. This achievement would save enough energy to power 21,978 homes for one year and while removing over 181 tons of waste from landfills monthly.
In only three months, enough aluminum cans are thrown out in the United States to rebuild all of our commercial air fleets.
You can make 20 new cans from recycled material using the same amount of energy that it takes to make 1 brand new can.
While the United States celebrates the holidays, Americans produce an additional 5 million tons of waste (four million of the 5 million tons consisting of wrapping paper and shopping bags).
The majority of the 4 million tons of junk mail that Americans receive annually ends up in landfills.
On average, Americans use 650 pounds of paper a year. Each.
Americans make nearly 400 billion photocopies a year, which comes out to 750,000 copies every minute.
The average office worker in the United States goes through roughly 500 disposable cups annually.
2,000 pounds (or 1 ton) of recycled paper helps to save over 350 gallons of oil, 17 trees, and a large portion of landfill space
Of the 62 million newspapers printed daily in the United States, 44 million will be thrown away (roughly 500,000 trees).
Until we begin to realize that even though our trash may leave our house, it is not leaving our town or city. It is just being transported to another location, where the pile will continue to grow and grow. When will we begin to realize that a change needs to happen? Maybe when that pile becomes so large that the trash finds its way back to your home.
Tomorrow, a use for mango skins you most likely had no idea was possible.
In 2020, the City of Chicago generated 4.13 million tons of materials. That includes waste from residents, institutional, commercial and industrial.
Annually, approximately 40,000 to 44,000 tons of yard waste are generated from low density residential structures in Chicago, but very little has been collected through 311 pickup requests.
High contamination rates strain recycling equipment and lessen the value of recycled commodities.
From 2015 to 2020, there was an average of over 75,000 tons of materials collected each month; an average of 9 percent of which was diverted from landfills.
Private companies and high-density residential buildings are not required to report their rates for garbage collection service.
While some service areas show relatively consistent performance over time, there is a general trend of declining performance across all areas (relating to recycling).
CPS manages waste and recycling services for 642 schools.
Increased material diversion through reuse and recycling has potential to create more jobs than would be created through disposal.
The Illinois Commodity/Waste Generation and Characterization Study Update published in 2015 calculated the market value of recyclable materials, including subcategories of paper, plastic, glass, and metal, that were ending up in landfills. The study found that the value of these materials was more than $360 million.
The study found that slightly over a quarter of material placed in Blue Cart bins is unrecyclable contamination, including recyclable materials in plastic bags.
Making cans from recycled aluminum requires 95 percent less energy and generates 90 percent less green house gas emissions than virgin stock.
In 2004, there were eight active landfills in the region, and as of 2020, there are only four. These four landfills had an average life expectancy of 12.4 years as of January 2020. There are no active landfills in Chicago or Cook County.
In addition to landfills in Illinois, Chicago’s waste is disposed across state lines in Indiana. In 2019, over 2.6 million tons of waste generated in Cook County (including the city of Chicago) were sent to six landfill locations in Indiana.
On average, each Chicago resident generates a little over 3 pounds of waste per day at home, or a little under 3,000 pounds of waste per year for each Chicago household.
COMMUNITY EDUCATION PROGRAMS MATTER.
Here’s a list of things the city offers that you might not know about.
Since 2014, Chicago Public Schools (CPS), in partnership with Seven Generations Ahead and Lakeshore Recycling Systems, has been expanding a commercial composting pilot program to reduce organic waste, improve purchasing, and provide waste diversion education to CPS students, faculty, and staff. The program has expanded to 14 CPS schools and (prior to the COVID-19 pandemic conditions) resulted in over 2,500 pounds of materials diverted from landfills every day.
Yard waste collection is available to Chicago residents through the 311-request program.
Composting is available through commercial composting companies, Illinois Food Scrap Coalition and Zero Waste Chicago.
In 2020, the Chicago Department of Public Health and Department of Streets and Sanitation introduced a pilot program offering rotating e-waste drop off service at district sanitation offices.
The Chicago Department of Public Health (in partnership with the Chicago Police Department) provides for pharmaceutical disposal at police stations across the city. In addition, there are secure drop off sites located at hospital centers, select pharmacies, and at water reclamation plants managed by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD).
Foam packaging and food service containers are not accepted in Blue Cart bins or City drop off locations. Dart Container Corporation offers free drop off collection at 7575 S. Kostner Avenue for all polystyrene foam except for packing peanuts, which can often be reused for shipping.
Shredded paper is not accepted in Blue Cart bins because it clings to and contaminates other items and does not respond to recycling equipment like whole paper. The City, Aldermen, and other organizations sponsor events for personal document shredding and collection (or collection of pre-shredded paper) for residents.
Flexible plastic film, including plastic bags and common packing materials, can become tangled and damage recycling equipment, and is not accepted in Blue Cart bins. Recyclables placed in Blue Carts should also not be bagged. This material can be recycled if collected separately, and several Chicago grocery stores and businesses host collection sites for plastic film. A list of participating businesses by zip code can be found at PlasticFilmRecycling.org
Chicago Public Libraries have hosted innovative Repair Cafes and other programs to better manage Chicago’s materials.
Here’s some ideas of how the city wants to reduce our waste.
Reframe Chicago’s materials as resources, instead of waste.
Identify opportunities to include goal setting, metrics, and data sharing to demonstrate progress and increase transparency.
Equip consumers with the education and tolls needed to drive innovation in evolving waste systems.
Increase transparency in the process and build trust among Chicago’s residents more efficiently.
Shift the cultural norms towards circularity and away from traditional disposal models.
Maintaining clear and consistent messaging around recycling contamination.
Developing a directory of participating retail take-back options for e-waste and household hazardous waste in Chicago.
Establishing a revenue-sharing partnership with a textile recycling company for collection of clothes, shoes, and other textiles otherwise ending up in landfills.
Chicago has a long way to go when it comes to sustainability. However, I do believe we have the potential to become better and even become a leader on the ways a large city addresses waste, reuse, recycling, and building a circular economy. It won’t be easy and it will take residents, commercial business, industrial corporations and institutions to help improve our current conditions.
Day 218 – Green and Grumpy is a website with a great deal of information. They cover topics like recycling, climate change, yard and garden, reduce and reuse, green products and much more. Their tagline reads, “It ain’t easy being green. Practical sustainable living ideas for real, imperfect people.” And that’s why it’s such a great resource. They don’t expect you to do everything perfectly. They realize that people want to help the environment, but are not always sure how to do it. They give practical, useful information that people can use in their day to day lives. Information that will direct them to the best practices for a more environmentally friendly way of life.
I hope my daily posts on ways to save the planet are helpful, but I do think having more places to find information is important. The easier it is to understand how to live a more sustainable life, the easier it is to implement the changes needed to be successful in reaching your goals.
Tomorrow, an organization helping furnish homes for people exiting homelessness.
Day 183 – Half the year is over and my family has made a lot of changes for the better. However, we still have another half to go, to learn and share ways to help protect our planet. Some changes have stuck, while others didn’t make the cut. I thought I would share what is working and what has not.
Our Top Ten Most Loved Changes
Composting – On Day 2, Day 118 and Day 149, I have written about how awesome composting is and how using Waste Not Compost has changed our lives. For anyone wanting to make a difference, this is my #1 suggestion. Since, starting back in December 2020, my family of six has diverted 258 pounds of food waste from the landfill. Instead that food has created nutrient rich soil. Anyone that can add $10 to their weekly budget, should be composting!
Recycling through the North Park Recycling Center – On Day 4, I wrote about how my family stopped putting our recyclables in the blue bin. After finding out how dismal our recycling percentage is in the city, I decided to send our recyclables to the North Park Village Recycling Center. We go once a month and sometimes I can stretch it out to two months. If you can avoid putting your recyclables in the blue bin and can find a reliable recycler, I encourage you to go that route.
Using a Zero Waste Box – On Day 77, I wrote about how we invested in a TerraCycle Zero Waste Box. It has actually been three boxes. I first purchased a candy wrapper and snack bag box, thinking that would cover a lot of non-recyclable waste we were producing. I then moved into the kitchen box, which accepted many other things, like plastic packaging, paper Packaging, cleaning accessories, coffee and tea accessories, party supplies and dining disposables, interior home furnishings, prescription drug packaging, fabrics and clothing. I have finally came to the realization that the All-in-one box is the way to go. Just a few of the items accepted in the All-in-one box: art supplies, books & magazines, E-waste, eye wear, home cleaning accessories, fabrics, and clothing, office supplies, pet products (non-food), plastic cards, shipping materials, storage media, plastic and paper packaging, kitchen gear, filters (air/water), coffee capsules and coffee bags, party supplies and dining disposables. With the help of zero waste boxes, we have gone from two bags of garbage a week to one bag of garbage every three weeks.
Reusable produce bags and storage bags – On Day 13 and Day 34, I wrote about how we switched to reusable produce bags and storage bags. This has been a game changer. The amount of plastic produce bags and Ziploc Storage bags (of all sizes) that we have avoided is substantial. This change is a no brainer and very easy to do!
Blueland Products – On Day 21, I wrote about switching our cleaning products to Blueland and their line of plastic free products. We have know had a chance to use every product, but the glass cleaner and dish soap (still working on our original supply). We love every product, especially the foaming hand soap and dishwasher tablets. It feels so good to avoid purchasing all those cleaning products in plastic bottles. It’s also awesome that all the Blueland tablets arrive in compostable packaging.
Who Gives a Crap – On Day 26, I wrote about switching to Who Gives a Crap toilet paper. This has been a real feel good purchase. Not only are we saving trees by using toilet paper made from recycled paper, but the company donates funds to build toilets in countries without such facilities. Love this company!
Cloth Napkins – On Day 38, I wrote about how we have cut back on our paper towel use. A big thanks goes to my sister-in-law for making us cloth napkins that we use everyday, for every meal. Because of these pretty pieces of cloth, we have drastically cut back on our paper towel use.
Plastic free laundry detergent – On Day 51, I wrote about ditching the liquid laundry detergent in the plastic bottle and going with Meliora’s powered detergent in a reusable canister. I have been using the detergent for months and have been very happy with it. I love that cleaning my laundry has become plastic free.
Reducing the purchase of food in plastic containers – This one hasn’t been easy, but by cutting some products out of our lives and switching to glass or aluminum packaging, we have reduced our plastic waste. We no longer purchase spreadable butter and have avoided purchasing fruit in plastic packaging (strawberries and blueberries), just to name a few changes we have made. We will continue to work on this one.
The switch to plastic free toiletries – We have made the switch to bar soap in plastic free packaging, bamboo toothbrushes and plastic free deodorant. We recycle our toothpaste tubes and shampoo bottles though TerraCycle.
What didn’t work out
Reusable shaver – On Day 71, I wrote about how I switched to a reusable shaver. Unfortunately, I have found that I am not a very skilled shaver. I had numerous cuts, but the last one was a doozy. I decided that for now, I needed to go back to a safer option. I am using a Gillette razor with replaceable blades and recycling those blades through TerraCycle.
Misfits Market – On Day 36, I wrote about how we started a biweekly (every two weeks) subscription to Misfits Markets. We received shipments for numerous months. A couple weeks ago we decided to suspend our prescription. We had three orders with items missing and replaced with products we did not want. I was also not a fan of the packaging. Even though it was all recyclable, there was a lot. We are making a point to visit farms markets this summer to enjoy locally grown produce.
As you can see, almost all the changes we have made are working and we don’t mind doing them. They are all easy and not too difficult to implement. What changes are you ready to make?
Tomorrow, celebrating International Plastic Bag Free Day.
Day 180 – One of the best ways to celebrate summer is having a block party. Gathering the neighbors for some food and fun has been a wonderful tradition shared by countless neighborhoods throughout the years. This year is extra special, since last summer we were not able to gather together.
Here are some suggestions on how you can have an amazing block party, while still being environmentally friendly.
Don’t use disposable tablecloths – Invest in reusable tablecloths that can be used year after year. I found a great deal on tablecloths at Home Goods. There are also a variety of reusable tablecloths made from recycled material.
Ditch the plastic cutlery – Not everyone has a plethora of kitchen cutlery to put out for guests. However, there are reusable options that can replace the typical disposable plasticware. Preserve is just one brand that offers reusable plasticware that can be used countless times. They are dishwasher safe and can be recycled through the companies take back program. Just make sure you tell your guests to not throw out the cutlery.
Switch from disposable to reusable plates – Paper plates are very easy, but they do add to landfill waste. Choosing a reusable option is ideal. Preserve offers reusable plates. Like their cutlery, they are dishwasher safe and can be recycled, once they can no longer be used. They also offer compostable plates as do many other companies. If you must use disposable plates, always choose paper over styrofoam.
No water bottles – A fraction of the plastic water bottles that end up in recycling, actually end up getting recycled. So, the best way to avoid this problem is to avoid using plastic water bottles. Try to use large containers to hold water and encourage your guests to bring a water bottle or glass to fill. You can also provide a reusable cup option, instead of the usual disposable SOLO cup. If you end up using SOLO cups, check out TerraCycles free recycling program. Aluminum cups are another plastic free option.
Compost food waste – Check to see if any of neighbors are composting. If they are composting at home, they might be able to take a little extra. If they are commercial composting, they can request an additional bin or two to collect food waste from the block party. There’s no doubt block parties can produce a great deal of food waste. Many dishes sitting outside for numerous hours are usually not saved for future meals.
Avoid the individual snacks – Try to purchase in bulk when buying snacks for your party. The packaging from individually wrapped snacks will add up. This type of packaging is not recyclable and will end up in the trash.
Encourage neighbors to power off – Remind your neighbors to turn off lights and electronics while outside enjoying the block party. Block party day is the perfect excuse to unplug and get outdoors to spend time with the neighbors.
Have recycling stations – If you will have items that can be reused or recycled, be sure to have a few places where neighbors can drop off those items and avoid putting them in the trash.
Avoid using paper towels – Block party clean up is inevitable. Consider using reusable rags instead of paper towels. This will considerably cutback your waste.
Have fun! – Keep your fingers crossed for good weather, enjoy the day and feel good about putting the extra effort into making your block party environmentally friendly.