Go Greengo

Green is the new color.   We are not talking about money.   Yet, there is a fair bit of money in it.

With the average American using…

  • 500 gallons of Gas per year
  • 100 gallons of Water per day
  • 1,460 pounds of trash per year
  • Uses 7 trees per year
  • 650 pounds of paper
  • Spends $1,500 for electricity per year
  • 11,400 Watts of electricity
  • 44,400 pounds of CO2 output
With 44,400 pound of CO2 offset this would cost only $250.

Where can we go green?   Almost every area of our life.

Green will save you money:

  • Reuse
  • Wash less
  • Only wash full loads of dishes and clothes
  • Take plugs out
  • Put timers on lights and air
  • Buy less
  • Go digital
  • Go paperless
  • Recycle trash
  • Stop buying bottled water (1 billion pounds of trash)
  • Bring your own mug for your next latte (Starbucks will credit 10 cents)

Green will make you money:

  • Learn about the trends in solar, hydro, bio, wind and other energy sources.
  • Recycle
  • Mow lawn
Feel good about Green:
  • Use carbon offsets in your business and home
  • Add a solar cell
  • Go digital, paperless
  • Stop junk mail
  • Stop printing pictures
More to come on this subject.   I am working on a Sustainable Innovations Competition at Thunderbird.   
Below is a primer on waste control at home and office:

This page provides a primer for waste reduction and recycling at home. It is rough sketch of a plan of action, your action, to reduce the generation of waste and recycle. These are just the easiest things that you can do. There are many more, but they will probably become apparent to you if you make these a part of your daily life.

Also see Back to School Waste Prevention, and ways to prevent holiday waste.

*       Reduce

*       Reuse

*       Substitute Reusable Items for Consumables

*       Recycle

*       Buy Recycle Products

*       Other Resources

The waste management hierarchy–reduce, reuse, recycle–actually expresses the order of importance of these ideas:

*       Reduce needless consumption and the generation of waste.

*       Reuse any item that can be reused or give it to a person or charity that can reuse it.

*       Recycle whatever discards remain if you can and only dispose what you must.

Please keep in mind that recycling is your least preferred option. Reducing the generation of waste so there is no waste left to recycle would be the ideal. Make it your goal. Also keep in mind the concept of “cycle” in the term “recycle”. For there to be a complete cycle, the things you send to be recycled must come back to you. So, look for recycled content products whenever you buy, otherwise you are not truly recycling.

The terms reuse and recycle have specific meanings, but they are often confused, switched, and misused, especially in commerce. Just so you know which is which, you might want to review the definitions of these terms on thedefinitions page.

*       Packaging

§  Buy food in large quantities or in bulk. Grains and cereal are especially easy to purchase this way. Avoiding small individual packages of any product or consumable greatly reduces the amount of paper or boxboard that you buy and throw away. Of course, don’t buy large quantities if the food would spoil before it is used.

§  Vote with your dollars. When comparing products of different manufacturers, consider giving preference to those that use less packaging.

*       Unwanted Mail

§  Fight back! You can reduce the amount of junk mail you receive.

*       Find uses for things you discard. Consult your phone directory to see if your community has a reuse center. Other options for reuse are as indicated below:

§  Computers

§  Consult the Electronic Products Management Directory.

§  Demolition Waste from Remodeling and Construction

§  Consult the Construction and Demolition Debris Recyclers Directory for facilities that collect specific types of construction and demolition debris for reuse or recycling.

§  Electronics

§  Consult the Electronic Products Management Directory.

§  Everything Else

§  List your reusable items in a Materials Exchange.

§  Consult the CIWMB Reuse Website.

§  Donate to charity.

*       Use towels, rags, and sponges for most cleaning and wipe-ups. Keep a large enough supply of rags and wash cloths so you will always have some clean ones. Even if you need to buy a supply of small towels and wash cloths to get yourself started, the initial cost will be quickly offset by your reduced need to buy disposable substitutes, and you might think they work better than disposables. (See the Reuse Products page.) If you frequently need a damp rag or wash cloth close at hand, just find an ordinary old plastic bottle or old spray bottle and fill it with your own home-made cleaning solution. You could mix up a mild cleaner of one part vinegar to seven parts water, or something much stronger with diluted alcohol, bleach, or ammonia. (Do not mix bleach and ammonia. The combination creates an asphyxiating gas.) See the Cleaning and Custodial Supply page of the Waste Prevention Information Exchange for ideas.

*       Use cloth napkins. Buy a large supply of inexpensive cotton napkins to use every day, the initial cost will be quickly offset by your reduced need to buy disposable paper substitutes. See the Reuse Products page.

*       Invest in a set of cloth grocery bags. They hold more, are easier to carry, protect glass jars and bottles better, last seemingly forever, and save energy and resources. Even if you recycle your paper or plastic grocery bags, you consume some energy and resources. See the Reuse Products page.

*       Collect and use plastic food storage containers. More durable than plastic bags, leak less, reduce odors in the refrigerator, keep moths out of dry goods in the cupboard.

*       Invest in rechargeable batteries and a battery charger. You can run almost anything, from flashlights to digital cameras, with rechargeable batteries. In the long run it is cheaper and better for the environment. More Information.

*       Get Ready to Recycle–Set up your household to make recycling easy. Keep recycling waste containers or baskets in strategic locations in your house along with ordinary waste baskets. It is easier to toss recyclables in a separate container than it is to rummage through the trash later to separate everything. Use the same types of containers for recyclable trash as you would for any other trash throughout the house.

Having only one container for recyclable trash in the kitchen or garage is not likely to foster participation in household recycling, because few people would want to walk to the other end of house to dispose of every piece of paper.

Bathrooms can generate a fair amount of recyclable waste, shampoo bottles, empty facial tissue boxes, and empty toilet paper tubes.

Any home office or room where students study is a place where a container for recyclable material would be useful. Alternately, a bathroom recycle container of sufficient size could be used to accommodate the recyclable waste generated in nearby rooms.

Find a place in or near the kitchen for either an organic waste tote (for carrying food waste out to the compost bin) or for a worm compost binas described below. Some of the companies listed here in Waste Prevention World manufacture organic waste totes as big as a few gallons, and as small as 1.5 liters designed for your kitchen counter top. Alternately, you can just use a diaper pail or any container with a lid.

*       Curbside Pickup–If you have curbside recycling pickup, you might be surprised at the variety of things they recycle. To find out what they accept, look on the Web or in the government section of your telephone directory for your City or County public works refuse department. The following is a list of items commonly accepted, but check first. Your curbside pickup might accept fewer items, or more items than these:

§  Metal

§  Steel and Aluminum Cans–Beverage cans, food cans, aerosol cans.

§  Clean Aluminum Food Packaging–Pie plates, dinner trays, foil.

§  Paper–newspaper, magazines, catalogs, phone books, bulk mail, office paper, computer paper, envelopes, gift wrapping paper, cardboard, food boxes, shoeboxes, paper towel and toilet paper tubes, paper egg cartons.

§  Plastic–Plastic that bears the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) plastic resin codesor.

*       Recycling Centers–Find the nearest recycling centers in your area for many if not all of the items below at Earth 911, and at the additional links as indicated below. Here are the types of household items that can be recycled fairly conveniently in most parts of California:

§  Batteries–Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation, Battery Drop-off Locator.

§  Demolition Debris–The Construction and Demolition Debris Recyclers Database lists places where you can bring demolition debris for recycling.

§  Electronics–The Electronic Product Management Directory is a database of facilities that collect specific types of electronic equipment and equipment related parts for reuse or recycling. Please note that televisions and cathode ray tube (CRT) computer monitors should not be placed in the household trash.

§  Hazardous Waste–Household hazardous waste that must be recycled or disposed at household hazardous waste collection facilities or other authorized collection facilities include, acids, antifreeze, household batteries, car batteries, brake and transmission fluid, household cleaners, pool chemicals, gasoline and other flammables, mercury thermometers, motor oil, oil-based or latex paint, paint thinners, pesticides and herbicides, barbecue style propane tanks, solvents.

§  Fluorescent lamps and tubes can be taken to household hazardous waste collection facilities. They can also be placed in household trash for now in California. However, after February 9, 2006, California households and some businesses will no longer be allowed to dispose fluorescent lamps and tubes in the household trash. Most businesses in California are already prohibited from disposing of fluorescent lamps and tubes in the trash. Read more.

§  Home generated medical waste, such as pharmaceuticals and syringes might be accepted at your household hazardous waste facility, but check first. Visit the Waste Prevention Information exchange to learn what other options you have for home generated medical waste.

§  Other Hazardous Waste disposal and recycling locations can be found at Earth 911.If this option does not work, ask your Local Contact for Waste Prevention and Recycling.

§  Metal

§  Steel and Aluminum Cans—Beverage cans, food cans, aerosol cans.

§  Clean Aluminum Food Packaging—Pie plates, dinner trays, foil.

§  Motor Oil–Find used motor oil and oil filter recycling locations usingCIWMB’s used motor oil recycling page.

§  Paper–newspaper, magazines, catalogs, phone books, bulk mail, office paper, computer paper, envelopes, gift wrapping paper, cardboard, food boxes, shoeboxes, paper towel and toilet paper tubes, paper egg cartons.

§  Plastic–Plastic that bears the orplastic resin codes, also called SPI (Society of the Plastics Industry) codes.

§  Food Waste–When we count only the uneaten portions of meals and waste from food preparation, such as trimming produce, Americans throw away 163 pounds of food per person per year. (See Estimating and Addressing America’s Food Loses, from the United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Portable Document Format (PDF), 104 KB.)

§  Compost–To learn how to compost, see the CIWMB home composting page or contact your city or county government. If you prefer to compost in a bin instead of an open pile, or if compost bins are required in your community, see the CIWMBcompost bin resource list.

§  Vermicomposting–Get a worm bin and some worms and practicevermicomposting. Download The Worm Guide (PDF, 1.2 MB) to read all you need to know about starting a small worm bin.

§  Yard Waste–Leaves and grass account for about 8% of the waste discarded to landfills in California. But in a landfill they generate significantly more greenhouse gas than they would in compost piles or bins.

§  Compost–To learn how to compost on see the CIWMB home composting page or contact your city or county government. If you prefer to compost in a bin instead of an open pile, or if compost bins are required in your community, see the CIWMBcompost bin resource list.

§  Grass Cycle–What could be easier? Set your mower to cut a little long, and leave the clippings on the lawn. No bags to empty when you mow, reduce the water needed on your lawn, reduce the need to fertilize and thereby reduce toxic runoff to creeks and lakes via the storm drains. Read more. Alternately, compost your grass clippings or use them as mulch directly from the lawn mower bag, and be miserly with your watering and fertilizing.

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