Eco Blog: dedication to Green Hauling

Despite Recent Storms, California Still Far From Optimal Water Levels

December 18th, 2014

vineyardGiven the recent downpours that northern California has received, many people are left to wonder if they can take this as a sign to resume watering their lawn and taking longer showers. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. According to recent data, the Golden State is still faces a significant deficit in water levels.

According to recent satellite data collected by NASA, California needs around 11 trillion gallons of rainwater to end the record-setting drought. That’s enough water to fill an Olympic swimming pool 17 million times! The study to determine the amount of water the state needs was the first of its kind, using Earth’s gravitational field to measure fluctuations as well as documenting changes to the shape of the planet’s surface.

NASA also reported on the groundwater levels and the state of the snowcap. Data suggests that California’s 2 biggest river basins, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin, have lost a combined 4 trillion gallons of water per year since 2011. This year’s snowpack was one of the three lowest on record and the worst since 1977. With less snow we tend to see less sunlight reflection, which means Earth is absorbing much more heat then usual.

While the rain might not have put much of a dent in the amount of water we need, the states reservoirs received a substantial boost. According to measurements taken by the Department of Water Resources, 2 of the states largest reservoirs, Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville, saw their water levels rise from 41% to 53% and 44% to 54%, respectively. The 10 other smaller reservoirs also saw their water levels rise.

California residents should take these signs as a reason to continue monitoring personal water use and cutting back as much as possible. That means checking pipes for leaks, taking shorter showers, turning off the faucet when washing your hands, and only washing full loads in the washer. You can find more water saving tips HERE.

Source: http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/18/us/california-rains-and-drought/index.html

Reducing Waste During the Holidays

December 11th, 2014

holiday_waste_tree_paperWith Christmas right around the corner, chances are you are pretty busy getting ready for the big day: buying gifts for the family, picking out a tree, getting all the ornaments and decorations ready to hang, and drawing up plans for the perfect Christmas dinner.

Although it might be the furthest thing from your mind at the moment, but the US sees a substantial rise in household waste production. According to the EPA, the waste generated by Americans between thanksgiving and New Year’s Day increases by 25 percent (almost 1 million extra tons). In preparing for the holidays, we hope you take a moment to implement some of these waste-saving tips:

  • When shopping, bring along some reusable tote bags to carry your gifts. If you need to use the bag that the store gives you, remember to bring it with you the next time you go shopping.
  • Wrap gifts in newspaper or recycled wrapping paper.
  • Unplug holiday lights during the daytime. Not only will this save you money on your energy bill, but it will also extend the lives of the lights
  • If you are buying batteries to go along with an electronic gift, buy ones that can be recharged. It will save them money on buying more batteries down the line, and keep less dead batteries out of the trash.
  • After the holidays, most Christmas trees will end up in the landfill. Before hauling your tree off to the dump, check with your cities waste department to see if they can collect and mulch trees for later use. (Buying an artificial tree is always an option as well)
  • If possible, buy gifts that are made from recycled materials.

From everyone here at Fast Haul, have a happy, waste-free holiday!

Recycling Costs On The Rise for San Francisco

November 25th, 2014

truck-and-armWith the holiday season in full swing, people all across the Bay Area are gearing up to start shopping: hunting for deals, mapping out stores to hit on Black Friday, and getting gift lists together. Unfortunately for the city of San Francisco, they will be getting a rather unwelcomed gift this year: higher recycling rates.

In a new contract proposed between the city and long-time service provider Recology, the bill for city departments will increase by 11% over the first four years of a six-year contract worth $44 million. This means that on average, the city would see a 2.85% rate increase every year, with no increases in the last two years.

The increase in cost for the city is likely due to the rising commercial/residential costs this past year. Historically, rates for city departments have been set at 20% below commercial rates. But with the rising costs, last year the city played around 31.4% below commercial rates. The new contract hopes to re-align the costs once again.

The contract, while not expected to face much if any opposition when brought to the city board, is an uneasy reminder of just how dominant Recology has been in San Francisco. In 1932, the company was granted a “permanent concession” to individuals or small, independent businesses that were in possession of the 97 collection route permits. After that, those 97 permit holders banded together to create the company that is now Recology. The permanent rights that were given became assets of the company, thus beginning a long and lucrative monopoly.

Since then, efforts to break the monopoly have failed, including a 2012 ballot measure that hoped to bring some competition to the market. The ballot, which Recology spent $1.7 million opposing, was rejected by 76% of voters.

Water Thieves Adding to CA’s Drought Woes

November 15th, 2014

We are all well aware of the adverse effects the drought has brought upon the state and its residents. A few posts ago, I outlined one of the bigger causes for concern regarding our already depleted water levels, but recently news outlets have identified a new offender in the battle for water: Thieves.

In some of the state’s worst hit areas water has become a valuable commodity, with some people turning to illegal means as a way of acquiring it. Recent investigations have identified criminals operating illegal marijuana grow sites as some of the most prolific water thieves. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Marijuana Enforcement Team, these marijuana farms have siphoned 1.2 billion gallons of water from local and public sources. That’s enough water to fill 2,000 Olympic-sized pools!

illegal water diversion

An example of an illegal pump that are used by thieves to steal water

The theft of water doesn’t just impact length of our showers and the extent we can water our plants, it puts local wildlife and vital resources in jeopardy. As a result of the theft by marijuana growers, the population of Salmon found throughout northern California has been put in severe danger.

Humboldt County has seen a couple major cases of water theft in the last several weeks. Criminals were able to steal around 20,000 gallons from a community services district board in the town of Weott. Three weeks later another 20,000 gallons of water were taken from a surplus tank at the Bridgeville Elementary School in Eureka, causing the school to shut down this past Tuesday.

In North San Juan, a small town located along the Sierra Nevada Mountains, thousands of gallons were stolen from a fire station this summer, during the peak of wildfire season. Although it is purely speculation at this point, most residents and authorities in the afore-mentioned areas suspect marijuana farmers to be behind the crimes.

In order to stop these criminals from stealing the states valuable resources, residents need to be dilligent about reporting any suspicious activity and waste. These reports are usually taken by the utilities department of your city or county.

Sources:

http://www.nationaljournal.com/energy/drought-is-taking-california-back-to-the-wild-wild-west-20141110

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/Pot-Farmers-Steal-Water-Amid-Epic-Drought-281822141.html

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/illegal-pot-plantations-hazard-california-salmon/

http://www.mercurynews.com/california/ci_24024319/water-theft-forces-humboldt-county-school-close

Recycling CD’s & DVD’s: What to Do

October 21st, 2014

With the steady decline in CD and DVD use, brought on by services like Netflix, Hulu and Steam, the US is looking at an ever-growing influx of obsolete and soon to be obsoletes discs. Most people think that since they are made from plastic, discs can be mixed in with the rest of the recyclables. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

cdsIn 1988, the Society of Plastics Industry (SPI) developed a classification system to help consumers and recyclers better understand the different types of plastic, as well as how to recycle them. Compact discs are categorized as a type 7 plastic, the most toxic kind of plastic available. Type 7 plastics basically comprise of a combination of other kinds of plastics not identified in the other six categories of the rating system. Most type 7 plastics contain Polylactides and Polycarbonates; especially the particularly toxic compound Bisphenol A (BPA). These compounds make for difficult recycling conditions that most centers are not prepared for.

You might be asking yourself “well, what can I do with my stack of old CD’s?” Your best option is to send them in to the CD Recycling Center of America. Not only can you send them CD’s, but cell phones, MP3 players, jewel cases, floppy discs, and computer cables as well. They do not charge for these services, although they do ask that all discs are mailed already disassembled as a courtesy (i.e. discs out of the cases, paper inserts removed from cases, etc.). Due to sponsorships from several CD/DVD manufacturers, they are able to keep their services free of charge, although they do ask for donations from the public to help (as little as 2 – 5 cents per disc makes a difference).

Recycling compact discs responsibly is just one more step towards limiting harmful waste and achieving sustainability.  For more information on the CD recycling process, check out the video below:

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