Archive for the 'recycling' Category

Happy Earth Day! Take a stand with your money

Late last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a news release listing the 50 organizations that use the most electricity from green sources.

On Earth Day 2013, it’s appropriate to know who these companies are, and to ask: Why aren’t any Kentucky-based companies and universities on the list?

According to the EPA, here are the 10 companies that use the most annual kilowatt hours of green energy to power their operations:

1. Intel Corp.
2. Microsoft Corp.
3. Kohl’s Department Stores
4. Whole Foods Market
5. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
6. U.S. Department of Energy
7. Staples
8. Starbucks company-owned stores
9. Lockheed Martin Corp.
10. Apple Inc.

“We applaud the leadership demonstrated by organizations that are helping reduce carbon pollution and spur the growth of clean, American-made energy sources by increasing their use of renewable energy,” EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe said in the news release. “As President Obama has made clear, clean energy is critical to our health, our economy, our security, and our ability to effectively address climate change.”

FYI: EPA defines green power as electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact small hydroelectric sources.

Granted, the top 10 are all major corporations, or government agencies, with significant resources. Intel uses green power to cover 100 percent of its electricity load, according to the news release.  Apple, which is new to the top 50, now has 85 percent of its electricity used in the U.S. coming from green power.

But universities are scattered throughout the top 50. The University of Pennsylvania ranks 25th, and the University of Oklahoma is 34th.

On the list of top 20 universities, in addition to these two schools, fellow SEC member Tennessee ranks 10th.

To see all of the companies, universities and other rankings, go to EPA.gov/greenpower/toplists.

And then, use your buying power to tell companies, organizations and schools that green power matters to  you.

— Linda J.

 

What to do with old pantyhose? Recycle them!

OK, ladies, listen up.

For those of you who haven’t found 20 other uses for old pantyhose, here’s an option that you might just like.

If you are like me, you have a drawer full of old hosiery, mismatched knee-hi stockings, and ruined tights that you’ll never wear again and the thought of dumping them into a landfill isn’t appealing.

Here’s how to get that drawer back and do something good for the environment along the way.

No Nonsense wants your old hosiery, any brand, size, type, condition you have.

They’ll ship it to a recycling company which will turn it into all sorts of things from park benches and playground equipment to carpet and toys, according to the company’s Web site.

Download a mailing label, ship them off, and be done with them.

Guess what I’m doing tonight?

— Linda J.

 

The story of a dog, a dead rabbit and a plastic bag

We did a little science experiment in our yard, unexpectedly, thanks to the laws of nature and survival of the fittest a while back that we came across last week.

A little background:

About a year ago, our aging dog managed to kill a rabbit and eat about half of it before my husband called her off it.

He brought her in the house, where she promptly threw up, right in front of the fridge and my daughter.

As she stood over the steaming pile of blood, bone and guts exclaiming “eeeww” repeatedly, my husband swore, then cleaned up the mess and buried the remains (including the part the dog didn’t eat that was still in the back yard) in a plastic grocery bag behind our shed. He marked the spot so we would know where it was.

Fast-forward a year.

While digging a new compost area last week, he dug up the bag that had contained the remains of the rabbit. Guess what?

The rabbit was gone, completely decomposed and turned to dust.

And the bag?

Completely intact. And I mean completely intact. It had decayed not one little bit.

So please, ponder that the next time you’re in the grocery store or anywhere else they are likely to give you a plastic bag. That bag, which took chemicals to create, will be around for a very, very long time.

— Linda J.

 

How green are you?

Now that we’ve re-launched the Easy Being Green blog, it’s time to start talking about how green we are, our kids are going to be as they grow up and what that will mean for Kentucky.

If you are just getting started and need some ideas, check out these going green tips.

Start with the first 10 or so, then when you get comfortable, try some more!
Do or have tried all 30 tips?

Well, what more should people know that isn’t in this list?

Tell me and I’ll add them in.

— Linda J.

 

Tour Lexington’s recycling center, win a recycled bench

This just in from the city:

Lexington’s Department of Environmental Quality and the Keep Lexington Beautiful Commission invite you to celebrate America Recycles Day by participating in a tour of the city’s newly improved recycling center.
Earlier this year, a new, 10,000-square-foot tension fiber structure that receives recyclable materials was added to the city’s recycling center. The structure adds capacity of 600 tons of recyclables.
New equipment has been installed to speed the recycling process and allow for glass to be mixed with other recyclables in Rosie containers.
Tours of the recycling center will be offered on Saturday, Nov. 20, at 10 a.m. Citizens interested in touring the center should RSVP by calling LexCall at 311, or 425-2255. Lexington’s Recycling Center is located at 360 Thompson Road.
Another way to celebrate America Recycles Day is to take the America Recycles Day Pledge. Visit www.lexingtonky.gov/AmericaRecyclesDay and fill out the electronic pledge card.
Lexington residents who participate will have their name entered in a drawing for a bench made from recycled plastic jugs by Play Mart, valued at approximately $400. Plastic jugs placed in Rosie containers by Lexington residents are sent to Play Mart, located in Somerset, Ky.
Since 1997, communities across the country have observed America Recycles Day on Nov. 15. America Recycles Day is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to the promotion of recycling programs.
The Keep Lexington Beautiful Commission, a 13-member group, has been appointed to focus attention on litter prevention, beautification and community improvement and waste reduction.
For more information on the Commission, go to www.lexingtonky.gov/klb.

Green Duck products visible at WEG

The Green Duck, a company started by a Virginia woman who realized one day that Styrofoam and plastic packaging is just plain wrong, is getting some attention in the Bluegrass.

The company makes compostable and biodegradble products, including hot and cold drink cups, plates and utensils made from corn and plants — no petroleum products — which will be available at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games later this month at the Kentucky Horse Park.

According to Green Duck’s Website, if you have space to store and a little extra cash, individuals can also purchase their products. They make everything from to-go boxes for restaurants to dishes that can go in the microwave and refrigerator for home use.

Each item indicates how long it will take to break down once it is composted.

It’s one of those, gee, wish-I-would-have-thought-of-that business ideas!

As for the Games, a release says bins for recyclables and compostables will be throughout the park for people to use on the grounds as well as work with the concession and catering vendors and their needs.

The World Games 2010 Foundation expects to recycle and compost more than 360 tons of material that otherwise would have been landfilled.

What a great idea  to 1) keep all that stuff out of landfills and 2) introduce a large group of people to a healthier, better way of doing things.

— Linda J.

Recycling report from the Ichthus Music Festival

rEAndy Bathje atop recycled plastic bottles at this year's Ichthus music festival.

Andy Bathje atop recycled plastic bottles at this year

Nancy and Matthew Sleeth, the Wilmore couple whose message is that God wants us to be good environmentalists,  are involved with the growing recycling effort at the annual Ichthus Music Festival.
Some stats from last month’s festival:

  • Over 60,000 beverage containers were collected and saved from landfill.
  • The plastics recycled weighed 1.25 tons, equal to 2 months of county-wide recycling.
  • Over 50 volunteers collected, sorted, and crushed the containers.
  • To help keep concert attendants hydrated with less waste, recyclers also gave away 1,000 gallons of free water to those who reused water bottles.

Here’s the Blessed Earth email about the effort:

Four years ago, recycling was not on the radar at the Ichthus Music Festival, which attracts 20,000 (mostly young) Christians each year. Both Ichthus and Blessed Earth are located in the little town of Wilmore, KY, so it’s not surprising that the two teamed up to start a recycling program.


It began with the Sleeth family and their friend, Andy Bathje, leading an enthusiastic team of Asbury University volunteers, picking cans and bottles from the trash. As the three-day festival progressed, more and more attendees started placing their recyclables in the proper bins. By the end of the festival, some band members were even helping with the sorting and collection process.


Now, four years later, recycling is not only a permanent fixture at Ichthus, but a central part of the festival’s “walk the talk” message. One dad even said that finding bottles to throw into high visibility recycling structure (and competing for prizes) is his son’s favorite part of the whole weekend.


Some stats from the June 2010 festival, courtesy of Andy Bathje, who now leads the recycling effort at Ichthus with the youth volunteers from his ministry, Confrontation Point:

  • Over 60,000 beverage containers were collected and saved from landfill.
  • The plastics recycled weighed 1.25 tons, equal to 2 months of county-wide recycling.
  • Over 50 volunteers collected, sorted, and crushed the containers.
  • To help keep concert attendants hydrated with less waste, recyclers also gave away 1,000 gallons of free water to those who reused water bottles.
Festival-goers were encouraged to write their name and cell number on bottles before throwing them into a twelve-foot high cage. Each evening, an “eco-diver” painted green and wearing a cape drew a winning bottle from the cage, and awarded prizes such as Blessed Earth books and film series, t-shirts, and a guitar signed by all main stage artists.


A couple of years ago in Chicago, Matthew met a man who described a lady picking recyclable bottles out of the trash at Ichthus. Matthew proudly replied, “That was my wife!” The tradition that Blessed Earth helped start lives on, and grows bigger each year.

Our Plastic Nightmare, Now on Video

A 5-minute video shows the effects of plastics on the planet, from drilling oil and how plastics are produced to the littered bottles and plastic bags strewn along roadways and beaches, in the oceans and mountains, to the detriment of fish and animals alike.

Watch it here, from the Wild Green blog on UTNE Reader: Our Plastic Nightmare, Now on Video. How does it affect you? Will you stop and think about it the next time you are buying a bottle of water?

How many human-made products can you name that don’t contain any plastic in the product or the packaging or both?

Can you, or will you, stop buying things that contain plastic?

That’s going to be much harder for all of us, isn’t it?

— Linda J.

Going green, top 10 — my findings vs. ask.com’s findings

I recently accepted a challenge from ask.com who saw an earlier blog I did on finding companies that do no harm. They emailed me their “Going Green Top Ten questions” and their answers and suggested I try to find answers, too. So here are my findings and ask.com’s.

1. Why should I recycle?
Me:
More importantly, as my 6-year-old daughter asked the other day, “why don’t people recycle?” The National Recycling Council has its own Top 10 reasons to recycle. Read them here.
Ask.com: Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources.

2. How do hybrid cars work?
Me:
A hybrid car attempts to merge the best of gasoline- and electric-powered vehicles for reduced energy waste, while overcoming the environmental problems of gas and short use span of batteries.
Ask.com: A hybrid car has elements of both gasoline powered engines, and electric powered engines, which are combined in such a way that gas mileage is increased and pollution is decreased.

3. What was the recycled material used to make the 2010 Olympic medals?
Me:
“Each medal was made with a tiny bit of the more than 140,000 tons of e-waste that otherwise would have been sent to Canadian landfills,” according to ScientificAmerican.com.
Ask.com: Olympic medals have been made of gilded silver since the 1912 Games.

4. What is energy conservation?
Me:
Reducing the amount of everything we use because everything takes energy to make, create or build. It takes energy to pull the bauxite out of the ground to make foil, even though foil can be recycled. It’s turning off lights, unplugging things when you aren’t using them, and switching to energy-saving equipment and electronics, if not outright doing without them. And don’t forget the CFL bulbs, washing and cleaning full loads (clothes or dishes) and the like. It takes every piece of that and more to reduce the the energy we use to allow save energy and the environment.
Ask.com: Energy conservation is simply using less energy.

5. Where can I recycle batteries?
Me:
In Kentucky, go to: www.waste.ky.gov for a list of places that take recycled batteries and electronics.
Ask.com: Go to earth911.com to find battery recycling centers in your area.

6. What is the cheapest way to go green?
Me:
Check out the queen of saving money’s suggestions for going green at: Suze Ormans Guide to Making Low Cost eco-upgrades. She makes a lot of sense.
Ask.com: The best way to go green is also the best way to save money — use less!

7. What percent of people recycle?
Me:
According to a 2009 article on 911.com, “While 87 percent of people surveyed say they recycle, the U.S. EPA reports only 33 percent of our waste is diverted from landfills.” Makes me question how much that 87 percent is actually recycling or if they really do recycle. Our garbage has dropped more than 75% between recycling everything we can, composting even more and using fewer things like plastic bottles. Packaging matters.
Ask.com: It is estimated that only 70% of the U.S. population recycles.

8. Which city recycles the most?
Me:
Ok, I wasn’t expecting this: Lexington, Ky. was the only city, of those with more than 100,000 people, to score 5 out of 5 in the recycling/green perspective category of a survey by popsci.com in 2008. “Lexingtonians recycle everything from surplus electronics to scrap metal, and they listed the environment as their third most important concern (behind only employment and public safety) & the highest ranking in our survey.”
Ask.com: San Francisco ranks the highest on many survey-based studies on recycling and sustainability.

9. How does wind power work?
Me:
“Breaking it down to it’s simplest components, a wind turbine operates as follows: the wind turns the blades; the blades spin a shaft; the shaft connects to a generator; the generator produces electricity.” Source: ezinearticles.com.
Ask.com: The wind turns the blades of a turbine, which in turn spin a shaft that is connected to a generator. This produces kinetic energy, which the generator uses to produce electricity.

10. How will future generations be affected if we don’t recycle?
Me:
Read number 1 again and then ponder this: If we don’t recycle, we lose jobs, waste energy, create more pollution, greenhouse gases and more.
Ask.com: Higher fuel prices, increased consumer debt, dirty air, and decreasing wildlife population.

How did we do?

— Linda J.

Habitat for Humanity now recycles paint

Do you have half-empty paint cans taking up valuable space in your basement or garage because you don’t know what to do with them?

Here’s a great, local way to help the environment and a good cause.

Habitat for Humanity will take those latex paint cans and recycle them into new paints for purchase.

Called a “bulking operation”, the non-profit plans to take old paint and mix them into new colors.

The bulking involves “combining different colors of paint, separated into light and dark shades, in a 55-gallon mixing vat. In the beginning, two shades will be created, beige from lighter paint; gray from darker paint. Although each 55-gallon batch is a different tone, the paint is sold in 5 gallon buckets so customers have a significant supply,” according to a release issued Thursday.

Habitat has a tinting machine and will offer more colors down the road.

Latex paint can be dropped off at Habitat ReStore, 451 Southland Dr., or Habitat’s offices, 120 Industry Road.

Paint will be sold at the ReStore only.

Habitat already has some paint to start recycling, between the 30 tons dropped off at the city’s household waste on April 24 and because people have dropped off paint at the Southland Drive store even though Habitat didn’t officially take it before now.

“The ReStore already received a significant amount of donated paint and sold or gave away what we could, despite the fact that we weren’t really equipped to handle it,” said Habitat’s deconstruction manager Bill Wood. “We recognized the need for some better way of dealing with it and to hopefully create a uniform product out of the used paint.”

— Linda J.

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