Archive for the ‘Recycling’ Category

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5 Tips on How to Stay Waste-Free at Work

August 23rd, 2017

recycling and composting at work

Businesses are producing large amounts of unnecessary waste. Despite the fact that about 80% of office waste is recyclable or reusable, the vast majority of office items end up in a landfill due to the lack of proper systems.

However, more and more offices are striving to be more eco-friendly and push to “go green.” There are different ways to do so. For example, it may include recycling electronics and office supplies, use of low-watt bulbs, turning off printers when and/or computers when not in use, etc.

Here are a few tips on how to stay waste-free at your work.

1. Start with Preparing Your Office for Recycling

Before facing your office waste, you should prepare for recycling. This include:

  • Finding the best recycling program that addresses office recycling;
  • Searching for state or city incentives for eco-friendly offices;
  • Hire a professional to head up a waste reduction or recycling program;
  • Establish the general list of rules all employees have to abide.

2. Clean Up Your Office Thoroughly

Why is it important? While cleaning your office, you will be surprised how many things make the waste in your office. Thorough cleaning will help you determine what items you don’t need at your office. Your best choice is to hire an expert in office cleaning that offers personalized services. Check out these cleaning services in Mississauga as an example of how to make your workplace feel fresh.

3. Reuse Office Supplies

Most of the office supplies can be recycled or reused. What can you do? Create a special room where the employees will be able to shop or leave used office supplies such as paper clips, hanging folders, file folders, binders, rubber bands, pencils, and pens. Even better, do not allow employees to access new office supplies by keeping them under lock and key. That will make people start thinking how to reuse office supplies.

4. Cut Down On Paper

Think twice before posting or printing. Posting and/or printing something out that you will never use becomes a waste in your office. You can recycle most office paper, but it’s just an additional expense for you. Instead, try to reduce recycling program budget by cutting down on paper. Here’s what you can do:

  • Consider whether you really need a paperwork or not;
  • Email rather than posting/printing out;
  • Ask your employees to post and print only what is truly necessary;
  • Use the double-sided printing whenever possible;
  • Avoid using stapled and colored paper because it’s not recyclable.

Over the time, the paper will overcrowd your office and you will need to recycle it. That’s why you should put a lot of paper recycling bins or boxes throughout the workplace. Choose the convenient areas for this purpose. Make sure to position recycle bins next to the desks and put a few of them in non-office rooms such as the warehouse or kitchen. That will encourage the employees to chuck paper in the recycle bins.

5. Recycle Old Computers, Accessories, and Appliances

When buying a new computer, ask the seller to buy back or take back your old one. Many companies provide e-waste recycling programs that allow this. Others may charge you a small recycling fee. You may also donate the old computers that are still in good working condition to organizations which refurbish electronic devices. Aside from computers and computer accessories, you can also consider recycling old televisions and other appliances.

 

Be sure to follow these five tips and get rid of office waste!

10 Things You Didn’t Know You Can Recycle

June 16th, 2017

In 2013, Americans generated 254.1 million tons of solid waste. That’s 4.4 pounds of trash per person, per day. While our rate of recycling has gone up from just 16% 20 years ago to 34.3% today, we can do better. Yes, we all know that plastic bottles, glass, cans, and newspaper are recyclable.  Yet, there are many things that can be recycled that still wind up in our local landfill. Here are just ten things that can be recycled that probably weren’t on your list.

1. Appliances. Whether your appliances are working or not, there is a better place for them than in a landfill. Goodwill takes working appliances. If your appliances aren’t in working order, contact the Steel Recycling Institute instead.

2. Batteries. Batteries not only shouldn’t be tossed in the trash, but they can also turn into hazardous materials over time.  Staples has a battery recycling program, and there is also a company called Battery Solutions that recycles batteries throughout North America.

3. Clothing. We might not think of it as recycling, but when you donate you wearable clothing to a worthy cause, those items are being reused. Drop of your clothing items at your local Goodwill or Salvation Army. If you have women’s business attire, give it to Dress for Success so that low-income women can use them to find jobs.

4. Computers and Electronics. You can recycle almost any type of computer equipment or electronic device today. This includes desktop and laptop computers, printers, and tablets. You can also recycle televisions, game systems, cell phones, and iPods. One helpful tool for finding computer and electronics recyclers is called Earth911.

5. Eyeglasses. Believe it or not, there are people in need who would love to have your used eye glasses. Maybe your prescription has changed, or you’ve just decided to upgrade your style. One place to recycle eyeglasses is through your local Lions Club.

6. Carpet. Whether you are remodeling your home or just changing out the carpet in one room, that old carpet needs a final resting place. Fortunately, some carpet makers have recycling programs, or you can look for a carpet recycling center in your area.

7. Crayons. It might sound silly, but we could have a crayon disposal problem if we don’t recycle more. 120,000 pounds of crayons are produced daily in the U.S., and you can now recycle these colorful items through the National Crayon Recycle Program.

8. Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs. The mercury contained in CFLs makes disposal more complicated than regular light bulbs. This is why both Home Depot and Ikea now provide CFL recycling programs. Some independent lighting stores may also accept CFLs for recycling.

9. Oil. When you change the oil in your car or lawn mower, that used oil can be refined into other lubricants and petroleum products.  Earth911 can help you find a local center to drop off your used oil.

10. Cosmetics. Most people simply toss old cosmetics in the garbage when they become stale or out of favor. Various brands, including Aveda and Origins, now have their own cosmetics recycling programs.

If you already have a recycling routine that works for you, now you can add some or all of these items to your list. Reusing and recycling as much as possible is just one more way that we can reduce the strain on our local landfills and work together to save the environment.

2016’s Top Innovations in Recycling

December 13th, 2016

Recycling, which was once a fad of environmentalists and so-called “tree huggers” is now mainstream in nearly every developed world community and here to stay.  The benefits of recycling, and the perils of not doing it, have become crystal clear.  In the U.S. today, we have reached a 34.6% recycling rate as of 2014.  In just that one year, the recycling and composting of 89 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) resulted in a reduction of over 181 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.

Advances in recycling depend not only on buy-in from consumers and businesses, but also consistent innovation from scientists, engineers, and inventors.  Here are just six top recycling innovations from the past year:

1. Diesel Fuel

A group of University of Illinois researchers have found a way to transform used grocery bags into diesel fuel and other petroleum products.  Another benefit is that the energy used in the conversion process is less than the recovered energy.

2. Lightbulb Recycling

We’re all used to seeing those reverse vending machines that give you cash for your bottles or cans.  Now, there are the same sorts of machines in some countries that will pay you to recycle your used lightbulbs.  The machines were built by a UK firm called reVend and can be found in Brazil, the UAE, and the UK.

3. Concrete Bricks

A recent architectural graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Albany, New York has developed a sustainable building material from discarded plastic.   Henry Miller took plastic bags and other plastic refuse and discovered a way to mix them with concrete to form bricks that had substantial environmental benefits.  Plastics are being recycled for use in building and the concrete mix no longer needs mined aggregate as an ingredient.

4. Wi-Fi Recycling

Finland wanted to take a look at the amount of time and fuel that they were wasting by driving around to pick up nearly empty recycling bins at homes and businesses.  If they were polluting the environment with emissions, the gains from recycling were being effectively canceled.  A firm called Enevo invented a Wi-Fi sensor that attaches to the bins, letting the collectors know fill levels so that they only come out to collect when bins are full.

5. iRecycle

Recycling isn’t just a trend; it’s become a way of life for many people around the globe.  Fortunately, we have the support of technology to help us make the most of our recycling efforts.  U.S. residents can download an App called iRecycle.  This gives users access to more than 1.6 million ways to recycle more than 350 materials.  Users can search from their current location or enter an address for nearby recycling facilities.

6. Olio

A growing trend, which has picked up steam in Europe with several well-placed regulations, is not wasting food.  Two developers, Sasha Celestial-One and Tessa Cook, have developed an App called Olio that makes it simpler for individuals and local businesses to participate in this movement.  Users can share information on surplus food items available, giving instructions for pick-up.  The App is currently being used in the UK and Ireland but is set for expansion to other countries.

Even though the U.S. is one of the countries with the highest recycling rates, we still have a long way to go. Recycling efforts and innovation is an ongoing process. Fortunately, we’re continuing to see new developments each year that promise improvements and instill the hope of sustainable communities in the future.

Why One Manhattan Man is Wearing his Trash for a Month

September 29th, 2016

Most people don’t give any thought to the amount of trash they produce. Once they put it in a garbage can, it’s out of sight and out of mind. Rob Greenfield, an environmentalist from New York City, recently made the issue front and center when he decided to literally wear his trash for 30 days. Greenfield collected every piece of trash he produced and placed it in a specially made suit so people could see what he threw away. Nancy Judd, a designer with Recycle Runway, created the suit to support the weight of the trash in addition to making it visible.

The Amount of Trash People Produce May Shock You

In a 2013 report, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that the average American produces 4.4 pounds of trash every single day. That comes out to 135 pounds per month, which means that Greenfield will be wearing a very heavy suit at the end of his experiment. Although normally conservative with the trash he generates, Greenfield decided to live just like the average American for 30 days. By the eighth day of his experiment, his specialty suit already included:

  • Styrofoam cups from his morning coffee
  • Fast food bags and containers
  • Boxes from home delivery
  • Food remnants
  • Plastic bags from local stores
  • Newspapers and junk mail
  • Bottles from water and soda

Greenfield states that the purpose of this hilarious but also sobering 30-day experiment is to raise awareness of the problem of everyday waste. He realizes that it’s not realistic to expect people not to produce any waste. However, he hopes they will commit to making small changes after seeing his so-called garbage suit. Even something as minor as using a reusable water bottle rather than filling a new cup each time can have a big impact on the environment.

Since most cities have mandatory recycling programs, a lot of people assume they are doing all they can to decrease the problem of too much waste. Although some trash does get composted or recycled, the majority of it gets dumped into landfills. As the trash decomposes, it releases greenhouse gases into the air that have a negative effect on climate change.

Follow Greenfield on Social Media to Learn the Outcome of His Experiment

Greenfield plans to document his experience wearing the trash suit each day from now until the middle of October. He is working with a professional filming crew to document his project, which he has appropriately named Trash Me. Those interested in following along should click here to get links to his website, Facebook, and YouTube accounts. He also encourages people to have their picture taken with him and upload it to their own social media account with the hashtag #TrashMe.

Greenfield hopes to start a nationwide conversation about the impact of consumerism on people, animals, and the environment. People don’t have to be a full-time environmentalist like he is to make a big difference in their own community.

What To Do: Recycling Mattresses

March 9th, 2015

Mattresses_in_LandfillEasily one of the biggest eyesores you can come across in public, illegally discarded mattresses are seen far too often today. Whether it be in alleyways, vacant lots, or along the sides of the freeway, dumped mattresses have long been a thorn in the sides of public utility departments and pose some serious hazards to the general public.

While it’s far from okay to dispose of a mattress by leaving it on the side of the road, it’s easy to understand given the limited options available for resale and recycling. Lets face it, there is not much of a market for used mattresses, and in fact, a majority of donation centers will refuse mattresses unless they are nearly brand new. Heading to the landfill is an option, but not the most environmentally friendly one. Mattresses take up a lot of room (as much as 40 cubic feet) and the springs make it extremely difficult to compact. Most landfills will charge you an extra fee to deal with the added troubles of mattresses.

While the state of recycling mattresses seems grim, you need not worry. There are ways to dispose of an old mattress without resorting to the aforementioned tactics. Here are some of the things you can do with that old mattress:

  • If you feel the mattress is in decent enough shape for further use, you can offer it up for free on websites like Craigslist or Freecycle.
  • Look for specific mattress recycling centers like DR3 Recycling. They deconstruct mattresses by hand and are able to recycle 85-90% of it. Not in the Bay Area? Use this handy search tool from Earth911 to find recyclers near you.
  • If you have to tools and the time, you can opt to take your mattress apart and recycling the raw materials yourself. Check out the step-by step process you need to follow here.
 
 
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