Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Eco Blog: dedication to Green Hauling

What Happens to a Mattress When Junked

December 28th, 2017

With an ever-increasing importance being placed on environmental issues, more and more people are taking a second look at how much waste they produce and how they can better dispose of it. Although responsibly disposing of smaller, common household items like cans, boxes, leftover food, and containers is relatively straight forward, it gets a bit more complicated once we arrive at bigger and more sophisticated items like furniture and electronics.

One such item that always throws eco-friendly folks for a curve is mattress removal. Mattresses are an item that tends to find its way into the dump rather than a recycling center. Today we are going to look at the process of breaking down and recycling an old mattress responsibly.

Old Mattresses for sale? I think not!

 Of all the different items you will find in a second hand store, you will almost never find a used mattress. In fact, most stores that deal with furniture re-sales will have a strict “no mattress” policy, and for good reason too. A study conducted by Ohio State University found that used mattresses typically have between 100,000 and 10 million mites living inside.  These mites, who thrive in a warm, moist environment, feed on the dead skin cells that humans tend to shed at night. Additionally, ridding a mattress of all mites on a regular basis is an incredibly tough job even with all of the proper tools. That being said, you most likely wont see a ton of people lining up to buy mattresses second hand.

What’s recyclable

 While mattresses do contain components of a wide range of materials, most of them can be reused or recycled. Mattress frames and their springs are almost always made of wood and steel, organic materials that have been recycled for years. The stuffing of a mattress, whether it is cotton or foam, can be reused in a number of ways (for example, carpet padding, or furniture reupholstering).

A step-by-step process

If all the materials that comprise a mattress can be reused or recycled than you might be asking yourself, what makes them so hard to recycle? It’s the fact that all those materials need to be separated and treated differently, which results in a painstaking process:

Below we will outline the general process undergone when a mattress is responsibly disposed of:

  • All mattresses are stored so that they are properly dried out and sorted.
  • After they are sorted, all of the fabric is removed and bundled based on the type of material (i.e., cotton, fabric, wool, foam, etc.) For there, the bundles are sent elsewhere so that the material can be reused.
  • From here, the steel springs are removed from the wooden frames. This process can be long and arduous to do by hand, so in most cases recyclers use a specialized machine that strips and bundles the springs for them.
  • Once the springs are removed, the wooden frames are broken down and recycled.

While it is obviously easier to just dump an old mattress in a landfill, properly recycling mattress has a significant environmental impact. Properly recycling or 10,000 mattresses can save 239 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. That equates to planting 273 trees or taking 40 cars off the streets! That reason alone should be more than enough reason to research options in your area.

Why You Need to be Composting (…and How to Do It Right)

August 14th, 2017

Compost is a valuable material that helps plants grow when added to soil. What many people don’t realize is that up to 30 percent of the materials for a compost blend come from yard waste and food scraps. Not only does composting aid in plant growth, it keeps a potent greenhouse gas called methane out of local landfills. Compositing is a simple process that anyone can do.

Basic Ingredients Needed for an Effective Composting Mixture

A compost pile needs to have equal amounts of brown and green materials. Branches, dead leaves, and twigs make up the brown portion while coffee grounds, fruit scraps, grass clippings, and vegetable waste make up the green portion. It also needs to include water to provide much-needed moisture. Some specific examples of items to include in a compost pile include:

  • Coffee filters and grounds
  • Egg shells
  • Tea bags
  • Paper
  • Cardboard
  • Wood chips
  • Yard trimmings and grass clippings
  • Lint from the vacuum cleaner and dryer
  • Straw and hay
  • Sawdust

It’s also important to understand what not to put in a compost pile, including the following:

  • Pet waste
  • Any yard trimmings treated with chemical fertilizer
  • Fish and meat bones
  • Ash from charcoal or coal
  • Dairy products such as butter, eggs, and milk
  • Lard, oil, or other types of fats
  • Diseased plants
  • Twigs or leaves from black walnut trees

Several of the above items attract rodents and other pests while others contain harmful bacteria.

Creating a Compost Pile for the First Time

After gathering the contents for a compost pile, the next step is to place them on a spot of bare earth. The pile will likely attract worms and other types of organisms that can help to aerate the compost pile. Next, place straw or twigs two to three inches deep to further aerate the pile and help with drainage. Now it’s time to start building the pile while alternating between dry and moist items. The compost pile now requires a nitrogen source. Manure is a common choice.

Compost piles need frequent watering, which people can do manually or allow it to become soaked by rain without getting drenched. It should have a cover on top of it at all other times. This keeps heat and moisture in, both essential elements for healthy compost. The last step involves turning the compost pile with a pitchfork or shovel every few weeks. This method also works for adding new materials.

The Many Benefits of Composting

While reduction of waste is the primary benefit of composting, it has several others as well. The process helps to conserve water because the compost pile soaks it up and releases it to the plants. This also prevents evaporation of water at the plant’s root level. Additionally, organic waste contains water that’s heavy and costly to transport. Composting the materials instead saves both energy and fuel.

There’s no question composting benefits the environment, but it also offers individual benefits. The less trash a homeowner throws away, the lower the cost of garbage pick-up. It also saves on the cost of purchasing similar materials from a local nursery. For those looking to cut household expenses, composting is a quick and easy way to do so.

Why Illegal Dumping is Such a Foul Act

April 26th, 2017

Most people would be shocked to learn that they have been guilty of illegal dumping at some point. However, that may be exactly what they’re doing if they dispose of waste anywhere but their own receptacle provided by the city or county. Exceptions do exist, such as when city or county governments hold electronics recycling days. Putting old furniture in the yard or along the side of a road with a free sign attached to it is an example of illegal dumping that many people don’t realize. Some others include:

  • Placing waste from a construction site in another company’s bin
  • Dumping contaminated waste from a factory into water or soil without permission or treating it first
  • Throwing leaves, lawn clippings, garden rubbish, or everyday household waste into a park or forest

Why Do People Dump Their Garbage Illegally?

The reasons that people don’t follow rules regarding proper waste disposal are as varied as people themselves. Some simply don’t want to pay to have their trash removed so they use the trash receptacles of other people or businesses and make it their problem. Perhaps they feel desperate to get rid of something, such as a broken TV monitor or old computer, and don’t know how to do so otherwise. Ignorance of dumping laws and available alternatives are a common reason as well, although neither are a valid excuse.

How Illegal Dumping Affects Communities and the Environment

Nothing can make a community look run-down faster than old furniture and trash lining the sidewalks, streets, and yards of homes and businesses. Not only does this practice make neighborhoods look unsightly and lower property values, it attracts crime and jeopardizes health and safety. Vandals may find it entertaining to spray graffiti on the trash or even start it on fire. People walking or biking on a sidewalk may hit an obstruction and injure themselves. Trash piles attract rodents, which can spread disease to people and pets.

Illegal dumping is also hazardous to the environment at large. Common items that people dump, such as freezers and refrigerators, contain types of carbon that damage the earth’s ozone layer. Dumping trash directly into a river, lake, or ocean kills marine life and makes the water unsafe for human consumption. Hazardous waste kills plants, which in turn removes a food source for many types of animals. Some species of animals and plants will never return in the same numbers.

How the Environmental Protection Agency and State Agencies Are Addressing Illegal Dumping

The EPA estimates that 100 million tons of waste material have been dumped in locations across the United States. The solution is to clamp down on people who commit crimes against the environment. A minor offense, such as throwing trash out the window of a moving vehicle, may land the offender with a $50 fine. Fines can reach thousands or millions of dollars in more serious cases.

Large corporations are often the worst offenders because they put making a profit ahead of the health and safety of others. If everyone agrees to do their part and report those who engage in this activity, illegal dumping could be reduced considerably.

California’s Relentless 2016-17 Rain Season [Infographic]

February 24th, 2017

As a follow to our last post about the most recent set of storms to again pound the Bay Area, we’ve created the following infographic demonstrating the massive impact the last several months of record-setting rainfall have had.  In addition to filling reservoirs and adding to a healthy snowpack, all this rain has caused significant damage to private property and public infrastructure throughout the state.

If your home or business has suffered from flood damage or other rain-related issues that require the disposal or large, bulky, or hazardous materials, contact Fast Haul today! We serve clients throughout San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, and parts of Marin County.

To share the following infographic, use the social media buttons up top or the embed code at the bottom of the page!

relentless rain of 2016-17 season in Northern California infographic

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5 Innovations to Monitor and Fight Air Pollution

October 17th, 2016

When confronted with the evidence, it’s difficult to minimize the effects of our polluted environment. According to the WHO, air pollution is now considered to be the world’s single largest environmental health risk, with an estimated 7 million deaths linked to the problem each year.   Most of the issues lie in urban areas of the world, where populations are often exposed to pollution levels that are 2.5 times higher than recommended.

Because this has become a global problem, many of our best minds have set out to develop solutions.  Here are just five of the most inspiring innovations that are helping us both monitor and reduce air pollution.

1 – Cloud Seeding

Have you ever wished, or prayed, for rain to cleanse the skies?  Scientists have found a way to tip the odds of those wishes coming true with something called cloud seeding.  Rain manifests through cloud condensation.  What happens with this process, is that condensation is artificially generated through planes “seeding” the clouds with silver iodide, or dry ice.  China allegedly used this method in Beijing in 2008 to clean up its skies leading up to the 2008 Olympics. Scientists are split on how effective this practice truly is at generating rainfall.

2 – Giant Sprinklers

In the areas of the world with high levels of air pollution, China seems to be one of the hardest hit.  The Asian country has declared war on air pollution in recent years and one of its current proposals is to use giant sprinklers on the top of its skyscrapers.   These sprinklers will spray water into the air, which should settle dust and other pollution particles.  These systems are still in the design and testing phases.

3 – Smog-Eating Buildings

Another way to clean pollution, or smog, is with passive chemical reactions.  Mexico City also isn’t known for its clean air.  Yet, an innovative design at its hospital building called the Torre de Especialidades provides a unique solution. The facade is constructed of special tiles that are coated with titanium oxide. Once the tiles are activated by UV rays, they convert mono-nitrogen oxide (pollution) into some less harmful substances.

4 – Pigeon Air Patrol

Probably one of the more entertaining and fascinating solutions, the Pigeon Air Patrol is an actual squad of pigeons that flies over the city of London and its boroughs. The feathered flock’s primary assignment is to conduct air pollution monitoring. 10 racing pigeons outfitted with air sensor backpacks measure levels of ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and other pollutants throughout the city.  Londoners can follow Twitter accounts to determine readings in their area. This program by Plume Labs is now being expanded to help citizens understand pollution and its health risks.

5 – Smog Free Tower 

Picture one of those air purifiers that you place in the corner of your home or office.  Now imagine a massive air purifier over 20 feet high that can clean up to 1,000 cubic feet of air per hour.  This is exactly what is now sitting in Beijing’s 751 D.Park.  This smog free tower is considered the world’s largest air purifier and it runs on just a small amount of green electricity.  The smog free tower was created by Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde and is planned for a world tour.

While air pollution remains a serious problem, these are exciting times in the field of air quality monitoring and pollution reduction.  These new technologies are revolutionizing the way we view air quality and providing methods to clean up our environment for future generations.

 
 
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