5 Simple Recycling Tips

If you want to do your part to help protect the Earth, one of the easiest ways to accomplish this goal is to actively recycle items that can be recycled. To get the most out of your recycling, however, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. In some cases, this involves thinking outside of the box and looking for items to recycle that are not typically included in the recycling conversation.

Know What Can Be Recycled

Oftentimes, people place items in the recycling that cannot actually be recycled. As a result, those items and possibly even additional items may find their way to the landfill when there might have been other options. Before you put out your recycling, check with the recycling rules for your area and become familiar with your town or city’s specifics.

Choose the Right Programs

Some recycling programs create more waste than they prevent. For instance, if items are collected and then shipped across the country for recycling, you may be creating more pollution with carbon emissions than you are saving through recycling. Look into programs to make sure they are genuinely beneficial rather than simply making you feel good about recycling.

Recycle Water

Most people know about recycling paper, plastics and aluminum, but many don’t consider how they might be able to recycle their water. Rearranging your plumbing so that wastewater from your shower and tub is used to flush your toilet, for example, can help you get more use out of your water. If you use a biodegradable soap, you can even use leftover bathwater and dishwashing water to water your garden.

Recycle Gadgets

Many electronic gadgets can also be recycled, with many non-profit organizations collecting items such as computer parts and transforming them back into workable computers. Other companies help unwanted electronics find new homes by giving them to those in need. Major appliances that need repairs may also serve as a good donation to trade schools, repair shops or even hobbyists who might want to tinker with the item. Batteries can also be recycled, though the better option is to use rechargeable batteries in order to reduce the number of batteries that you need to toss away.

Give Away Unwanted Items

If you have clothes or other items that are still in good shape that you simply don’t need or want anymore, consider giving them away to charity or posting them on sites such as Freecycle and Recycler’s Exchange. Another option is to post the items in the “free stuff” section of Craigslist. Not only will this prevent the creation of additional waste, but you will also be recycling the item by helping it to find another home.

Of course, the best way to reduce waste is to make wise purchases. Purchasing items with minimal packaging will help to reduce your waste. On the other hand, purchasing items that are made with recyclable materials helps to ensure you will be able to recycle the packaging after you have opened the product. Thinking ahead when making purchases is a good way to reduce your overall impact on the planet.

7 Reasons Why You Should Recycle

Separating your recyclable materials may sometimes feel like a time-consuming burden. You may even wonder at times if the extra effort is worthwhile and if you are really making any kind of difference when you sort your plastics or peel labels from your bottles. The reality is that recycling really does have a significant impact on the earth. In addition, it also has a positive impact on the economy as well as other aspects of your life that you may not have considered. In fact, here are some interesting facts to back up the importance of recycling.

Helping Businesses

Many companies in the United States rely upon recycling programs to help them obtain the raw materials they need to make new products. Not only does this help to keep these materials out of landfills, but it also helps these businesses keep their costs down while producing products for consumers. This, in turn, helps the economy by keeping the cost of products down while also providing workers with jobs.

Creating Jobs

In addition to the jobs that are created by businesses and supported by recycling, the recycling industry itself provides numerous jobs throughout the country. As a $236 billion per year industry, the recycling industry employs 1.1 million workers in more than 56,000 recycling and reuse enterprises.

Reducing Energy Waste

Producing products from recycled goods helps to reduce energy waste. This is because producing a product from scratch requires the use of a greater amount of energy than producing a product from recyclable materials. Manufacturing with recycled aluminum cans, for example, uses 95% less energy than starting over with virgin materials.

Preserving Natural Resources

Natural resources are also saved when manufacturers use recyclable material instead of creating the materials from scratch.

Conserving Land

No one wants to live next to a landfill, which means the land used for the landfill as well as the surrounding property is essentially lost to waste. By reducing the amount of waste that makes it to landfills, we can better maintain the natural beauty of an area or the land can be put to better use, such as building housing or recreational facilities.

Preventing Global Warming

According to experts, recycling solid waste in the year 2000 helped to prevent the release of 32.9 million metric tons of carbon equivalent into the air. This, in turn, helps to prevent and slow down the process of global warming.

Reducing Pollution and Protecting Wildlife

Manufacturing good from recycled materials generates less water pollution than manufacturing the same products from virgin materials. Similarly, using recycled materials reduces the need to damage forests, rivers and wetlands in order to obtain virgin materials, thereby protecting the ecosystems that are essential to wildlife.

Shockingly, the average America discards seven and a half pounds of garbage every day. Most of this garbage ends up in landfills where it is compacted and buried. With the help of recycling programs, you can significantly reduce the amount of waste that you contribute to these landfills. In addition, you can feel good about knowing that you are helping to protect the environment while also supporting employment throughout the country.

Tips for Composting in the Winter

Composting is a great way to reduce waste while also creating organic manner that creates healthy gardens and lawns. For many people throughout the country, however, composting in the wintertime can be difficult. After all, composting relies upon aerobic bacteria to break down the waste and warmer temperatures are needed to stimulate this bacteria. In other words, warmer temperatures result in faster decomposition. Nonetheless, even when the temperatures drop, you can still manage to get rid of certain types of waste with the help of a compost pile. To help make this happen, consider the following strategies.

Build a Block Structure

Building a block structure around your compost pile can help maintain the internal heat of your pile long into the winter. Simply stacking cinder blocks around your pile is an easy solution.

Add a Roof

Another way to better control external environmental factors is to protect your compost pile with a roof. This is particularly helpful during the winter months because it helps to keep the snow from forming a layer over your pile.

Use a Tarp

If you don’t have the money or inclination to build a roof over your compost pile, another option is to simply place a tarp over the pile. In addition to helping to keep snow and other unwanted precipitation off of your compost pile, this will also help to contain the internal heat within the pile rather than allowing it to escape into the air.

Expand the Size of the Pile

To help prepare your compost pile for the winter, you should start building the size of your pile during the fall months. A larger compost pile is better capable of continuing the composting process into the winter months. A simple way to increase the size of your compost pile is to add leafs to the pile rather than burning them or packing them up for disposal.

Break the Materials Down

Shredding your material to pieces that are less than two inches in size before adding them to the compost pile helps the pile to heat more uniformly. It also helps to better insulate the pile from outside temperature extremes.

Bury It

Digging a hole and burying your compost, a process known as compost-holing, can help fend off the cold winter temperatures. For compost-holing, you should dig a one foot hole anywhere in your yard and cover it with a board or bricks until it is filled with organic waste. Another option is to dig a trench around your garden or flowerbed and add your compost material to the trench, making sure to bury the waste each time you add more to the trench.

Use a Holding Unit

Instead of having a compost pile, another option is to use a holding unit. Not only are holding units a more attractive option, but they also protect your compost from external factors while helping your compost stay warmer in the winter. During the warmer months, many of these holding units can be easily spun in order to turn your compost and further assist with the decomposition process.

BearSaver Animal Proof HB Hid-A-Bags

HID-A-BAG

The always-popular Hid-A-Bag models offered by BearSaver are versatile, attractive and easy to use. The sixty-degree angled housing is eye-catching but unobtrusive. Serviced by opening the back, the tilt-out bag rack provides a rigid frame from which plastic bags are suspended. When the bag is full and heavy, it can be removed laterally to help avoid back injuries.

All HID-A-BAG models now have easy-to-use side-opening service doors.

Reduce Food Waste With In-Sink Disposals

Food Waste

Americans waste up to 50 percent more food than U.S. consumers did in the 1970s, according to National Institutes of Health. And the government last year declared its first ever, national food waste reduction goals.

Now food waste — and trash in general — are getting to be such big problems that pockets of many U.S. cities are having a difficult time managing rubbish on trash days. The garbage, in turn, takes more money and energy to transport to landfill space that’s also limited.

This all partly explains why some U.S. cities have been trying out in-sink, electric garbage disposals as a way to reduce trash and transform food scraps into renewable sources of energy.

In the high-density Point Breeze neighborhood of south Philadelphia, for example, streets are tight. “There’s very little place to store trash,” said Carlton Williams, a Philadelphia city official, reports CNBC. He made the comments in a video for the city.

After a two-year-plus pilot program between Philadelphia and InSinkErator, a business unit of Emerson, the city now requires in-sink food waste disposers in new residential construction. The regulation went into effect earlier this year. It was signed into law in late 2015.

“It’s counterintuitive that using a disposer somehow is good for the environment,” Michael Keleman, an environmental engineer for Emerson, tells CNBC. And yes, using garbage disposers require water and electricity.

At the time of Philadelphia’s pilot program launch with Emerson, then Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said he never thought he’d be holding a news conference on garbage disposers.

But food waste and the environment are changing, as waste volumes only rise.

“Diversion of organics from landfills can reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Keleman.

The idea behind the Philadelphia initiative is to divert as much organic food waste into reusable energy.

In-sink disposers convert food scraps into fine particles. The slurry passes through plumbing and a process called anaerobic digestion that transforms the waste. One of the end products is biogas, which can be used to generate electricity and heat.

Nearly every consumer has a tale of a clogged disposer or plumbing gone bad. But Keleman of Emerson argues proper use can prevent a lot of problems. And diverting food waste means less trash.

Participants during Philadelphia’s pilot phase said while using the garbage disposer, they put out roughly one less trash bag per week. And less food waste also means fewer rodents and critters.

With widespread use of food disposers, the city could potentially reduce food waste by around 19,000 tons annually, and save about $1.1 million in waste disposal and other costs.

U.S. food loss and waste accounts for about 31 percent of the overall food supply available to retailers and consumers, with far-reaching effects on food security and climate change, according to the USDA.

That’s why scientists and researchers are seeking waste reduction, including technology-based solutions to transform food and agricultural waste into converted energy. The goal is feeding people, not landfills.

If you have a garbage disposal, try to use it more often. And remember, for all of your trash-disposal needs in your office, stadium, or school, Securr Trash Cans has the best selection around.

Keep Animals Safe Through Proper Trash Disposal

trash

You are probably well aware that proper disposal of trash and recycling is important for human beings and our environment, but as you move through your days, don’t forget about the impact that litter can have on wildlife.

Everyday items such as soda cans and plastic bottles can be deadly for unsuspecting wildlife and even dogs and cats. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Here are some simple tricks that you can do to help prevent animals from suffering:

Don’t feed the bears!: The “garbage-killed bear” is more than a cute turn of phrase. Rather it’s an accurate description of a tragedy that plays itself out more and more frequently as people move into bear country and bears learn that people carry tasty – if not very nutritious – food. Once a bear becomes conditioned to human food it’s too late to help. A so-called “problem bear” can’t be fixed; it must be prevented. And the only way to prevent it is for every single individual visiting a national park and nearby areas to be scrupulously stingy about letting bears have any human food. Bear-proof trash cans offered by Securr Trash Cans work well to keep bears out of garbage. They help protect bears from their taste for unhealthy snacks. Stashing your trash in these containers can save a bear’s life.

Soda rings: Six-packs of soda often come strung together by plastic rings, and too often curious animals get their heads stuck inside, causing injury or even death. Cut apart all sections of plastic six-pack rings, including the inner diamonds.

Fishing lines and hooks: Birds frequently get their beaks wrapped or wings tangled up in discarded fishing line. Hooks can be swallowed or become embedded in birds’ skin or beaks. If you spot fishing litter, pick it up and dispose of it.

Beer and soda cans: Even the tiniest animals can fall victim to litter. Discarded soda cans are tempting to small animals who are looking for food or shade. Luckily, this little skink was freed during a beach clean-up. Animals can also be cut by cans’ sharp edges. Be sure to dispose of your cans responsibly. Rinse and crush cans before tossing them into the recycling bin. You can also fold the tab back to block off the hole on the top.

Chewing gum: Animals often step in gum, which can become matted in their fur or feathers, making it difficult for them to move. Never spit gum onto the ground. Wrap it in paper and dispose of it in a proper receptacle.

Tin cans, cups, and jars: Hungry animals desperate for even just a few crumbs often get their heads stuck in discarded cans, cups, and jars. Always rinse out containers (and place the lids back on them!) and crush metal cans before disposing of them.

Plastic bottles and bags: Whales, turtles, and seabirds often mistake trash for food, and if eaten, it can choke them or cause fatal stomach or bowel obstructions. When shopping, choose paper bags or take your own reusable bags whenever possible.

Remember: Never, ever litter. Animals of all kinds often mistake trash for food or shelter. Securely cover garbage cans and recycle bins so that animals can’t get into them and become trapped inside. And don’t forget to keep an eye out for other people’s trash, too. Your actions could be the difference between life and death for an animal.

 

Minimize Your Impact on the Great Outdoors This Summer

camping family

When you’re at home or at work, Securr has all of your trash can needs. But when you’re away this summer, camping or hiking, use these tips to help minimize your impact on the great outdoors.

When you’re packing for your trip, make sure you eliminate any unnecessary food packaging. Say you’re bringing a cup of just-add-water noodles, but the cup comes with a cardboard box around it. Leave the box at home. Better yet, dump the contents of the bowl into a reusable, sealed mug that you can use again for your morning coffee.

You may still have to bring some packaging, so it’s a good idea to bring a trash bag with you. It doesn’t have to be heavy-duty — it could even just be a grocery sack. Place any food-related trash in the bag to make sure your gear doesn’t become messy or attract animals.

Be sure to hang your food at night or use a bear canister so unwanted guests don’t start digging through it. When you’re done with your bag, toss it in a designated trash can or dumpster.

When it’s time to wash dishes, scrape uneaten food into your trash bag, then find a place well away from water sources and campsites to do the washing. You may wish to use a portable kitchen sink to conserve water, but definitely use biodegradable soap; here’s my favorite. Quick-drying and reusable camp towels will help ready your pots and plates for the next meal.

There are some items you may take camping that come in packages, like batteries and new gear. My advice is the same as before: leave all unnecessary packaging at home. Should you actually need to bring it, it won’t have to go in the food trash bag, but you should never litter. Always throw away trash in designated areas.

It’s a good idea to keep your personal hygiene standards up to par, especially when it comes to your teeth. You don’t want to leave globs of sweet-smelling toothpaste in the woods, however, so you can either spit into your trash bag or try to disperse the toothpaste as much as possible.

Bury human waste in catholes about 6-8″ deep 200 feet from any water sources, campsites, or trails. It is good to carry out used toilet paper since animals often dig it up and spread it all over. Carry out all plastic or cotton feminine hygiene products. Do not bury them.

As a campsite becomes more and more popular, small impacts quickly accumulate. Some people see garbage and then feel they do not need to take care since it’s already trashed. Taking a bit of extra time to clean up a spot will help keep it cleaner. The next visitors will see no trash and tend to pack out their own trash. Even highly trafficked sites can be made more inviting by removing trash and cleaning out old fire debris.

Taking the extra bit of effort to patrol the campsite just before leaving often finds bits of foil, plastic, and food from your group or others before you. No matter where you go, if people have been there, people have left litter. Whether on the ocean shore or on the highest peak in the world, when it is more convenient to leave trash than take it away, someone will decide to leave it.

Then, bring it all home, and dispose of it properly using your Securr trash cans.

 

A Brief History of Garbage

garbage

Did you ever stop to think about the history of garbage?

Humans are by their very nature careless with trash. It is not a trait of the 20th century.

As the timeline of garbage history suggests (below), there has been a problem of trash from man’s earliest time. Four basic means of dealing with trash have been used over and over in history – dumping, burning, recycling, and waste minimization.

The Mayan Indians of Central America had dumps, which exploded occasionally and burned. They also recycled. Homemakers didn’t sweep trash under their rugs. Some was trampled under foot and some was swept into corners. When it got too deep, they would bring in dirt to cover it.

Some cultures were very wasteful, considering everything disposable. Many Mayan sites demonstrated such careless consumption. Consumption and waste of resources is probably related to supply available more than any other factor. When gasoline is plentiful and cheap, automobiles get larger (nobody is thinking about future supplies). When it becomes scarce and expensive, automobiles get smaller.

Trash has played a tremendous role in history. The Bubonic Plague, cholera, and typhoid fever, to mention a few, were diseases that altered the populations of Europe and influenced monarchies. They were perpetuated by filth that harbored rats, and contaminated water supply. It was not uncommon for Europeans to throw their garbage and even human wastes out of the window. They figured that stray dogs would eat whatever they threw out.

Studies fail to substantiate the notion that Americans are more wasteful than similar civilizations of the past. Note that the nature of the waste varies greatly from one civilization to another. There is an archeological account of Native Americans in Colorado about 6500 BC who killed 200 buffalo in one day and butchered 150 of them, carrying away enough meat to feed 150 people for 23 days. They left the remains behind (some 18,380 pounds of bones, which had remained for 6500 years. Soft tissue had decomposed years ago). One hundred fifty modern day Americans would produce about 14,150 pounds in 23 days, most of which would have decomposed rapidly. Based on the weight of the bones that remained, the Native Americans in that clan produced about 5.3 pounds of waste a day as compared to 2.5 pounds a day, which is a moderate figure for middle class American consumption.

Here are some highlights from the history of garbage:

  • 6,500 BC: Archeological studies shows a clan of Native Americans in what is now Colorado produced an average of 5.3 pounds of waste a day.
  • 500 BC: First municipal dump in western world organized in Athens, Greece. Regulations required waste to be dumped at least a mile from the city limits.
  • 1388: English Parliament bars waste dispersal in public waterways and ditches.
  • 1400: Garbage piles so high outside of Paris gates that it interferes with city defense.
  • 1690: Rittenhouse Mill in Philadelphia makes paper from recycled fibers (waste paper and rags).
  • 1842: A report links disease to filthy environmental conditions – “age of sanitation” begins.
  • 1885: The first garbage incinerator was built in USA (on Governor’s Island in NY)
  • 1896: Waste reduction plants arrive in US. (for compressing organic wastes). Later closed because of noxious emissions.
  • Turn of Century: By the turn of the century the garbage problem was seen as one of the greatest problems for local authorities.
  • 1914: There were about 300 incinerators in the US for burning trash.
  • 1920’s: Landfills were becoming a popular way of reclaiming swamp land while getting rid of trash.
  • 1954: Olympia, Washington, pays for return of aluminum cans.
  • 1965: The first federal solid waste management laws were enacted in the United States.
  • 1968: By 1968 companies began buy back recycling of containers.
  • 1970: The first Earth Day was celebrated in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created, and the Resource Recovery Act enacted.
  • 1976: In 1976 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) was created emphasizing recycling and HW management. This was the result of two major events: the oil embargo and the discovery (or recognition) of Love Canal.
  • 1979: The EPA issued criteria prohibiting open dumping.
  • Today: We are still a work in progress in how we handle our garbage.

“Cash For Trash” Programs Reduce Landfills And Help Impoverished Citizens

landfill 2

While many in the world are able to use trash cans and local waste management to dispose of our garbage, that’s not the case everywhere. Some countries have come up with a unique solution.

Customers in a poor corner of eastern Indonesia, borrow cash — and pay back trash.

It’s an idea that’s about as far as can be from the technological developments disrupting banking elsewhere, reports Bloomberg News. Not just neighborhoods in Indonesia, but elsewhere across emerging Asia and Africa, locales are embracing “trash banking” as a way of reducing pressure on ever-growing landfill sites and allowing some of their poorest citizens access to savings and credit.

The scale of the problem facing Makassar and other Asian cities is clear. Each day the city of 2.5 million people produces 800 tons of rubbish, most of which ends up at the five-story high tip, which sprawls over the area the size of two soccer pitches. Scavengers, many of them children, work alongside cows foraging for food.

Against this backdrop, trash banking is taking off. Residents bring recyclable trash such as plastic bottles, paper and packaging to the collection points, known as banks, where the rubbish is weighed and given a monetary value. Like a regular bank, customers are able to open accounts, make deposits — of trash, converted to its rupiah value — and periodically withdraw funds.

The city government commits to purchasing the rubbish at set prices displayed at the bank, ensuring price stability for those bringing trash in. It then sells it on to waste merchants who ship it to plastic and paper mills on the main island of Java.

At other trash banks in the country, account holders can exchange their rubbish directly for rice, phone cards or paying their electricity bills. At the Mutiara Trash Bank, several account holders had signed up for a homework program, whereby local students help younger kids with their homework and are paid directly from the garbage bank.

Customers in Makassar, most of whom are women collecting trash part time, typically save tiny amounts: around 2,000 rupiah to 3,000 rupiah (15 cents to 23 cents) a week, although others who more dedicatedly collect rubbish save much more. Many also borrow money, most often to buy rice, toward the end of the week when they’re awaiting their husband’s paycheck.

The city administration sends trucks to collect the waste from the Mutiara Trash Bank several times a week and brings it to a Central Trash Bank, where it is sorted for sale. Mutiara is one of more than 200 trash banks in Makassar, which has emerged as a model for other cities, according to the city’s mayor. Indonesia as a whole last year had 2,800 trash banks operating in 129 cities, with 175,000 account holders, according to the environment ministry.

For trash banking to succeed, government support is vital, said Sanjay K. Gupta, a waste management specialist at Skat Consulting Ltd. in Switzerland, who has studied the projects.  While Indonesia has the largest network of trash banks, he said, other similar practices are carried out in African countries including Ghana and South Africa, in India’s cities of Pune and Bengaluru, and in Manila, Bogota and Brazil.

The local authorities in Makassar are supported by a local non-governmental organization that receives funding from PT Unilever Indonesia and is headed by Saharuddin Ridwan, a former television journalist who covered the religious wars in eastern Indonesia in the past decade.

 

Eco-Friendly Lawn Care

lawn

Eco-conscious lawn care benefits more than just your lawn: it’s healthier for the environment, your family, and your pets. Here are some tips as you get your lawn in shape this spring.

Test Your Soil First: Never spend money on any fertilizer or soil amendment for your lawn or garden without first consulting the results of a soil test. These diagnostic results — available from virtually all Cooperative Extension offices across the U.S. — will tell you exactly how much N (nitrogen), P (phosphorus) or K (potassium), lime, sulphur or other nutrients to add. Too much nitrogen and phosphorus can harm oceans, lakes, rivers and drinking water. Other excess nutrients can weaken and even kill grass and other plants. The bottom line, in other words, is to avoid guessing. That can be bad, for the environment, for your landscape and for your pocketbook. You can buy at-home DIY soil test kits for as little as $0.35 per test at amazon.com or gardeners.com. Or, try this electronic soil tester ($18.95 at burpee.com).

Organic Fertilizer: Soil contains an interconnected array of organisms that create natural fertilizer, Paul Tukey, a lawn-care expert and founder of SafeLawns, tells Martha Stewart Living. “Feeding with organics mimics the natural world, which grows tall trees just fine without our help,” he says. Treating lawns organically enhances soil life and reduces disease, which means healthier greenery and a cleaner environment. Studies also show that organic lawn care is safer for kids and pets, whose health can be threatened by many common lawn chemicals.

Eco-Friendly Grasses: If you’re looking to replace the grass variety in your yard, consider one of these environmentally friendly grasses. They require less watering, less mowing, and less fertilizer, all of which helps cut down on your carbon footprint.

  • Ecolawn: This blend of fine fescue grasses is highly drought-tolerant and requires less fertilization than traditional grass. It can be grown anywhere in the United States. (Learn more: Wildflower Farm)
  • Buffalograss: As the native grass of the Western Plains, this variety thrives in drier areas of the country such as California and Nevada. It only needs to be mowed once a month. (Learn More: Todd Valley Farms | High Country Gardens)
  • Seashore paspalum: This is an eco-friendly grass for Southern states with warm climates. It doesn’t even like fertilizer, and it tolerates recycled water, or even salty water. (Learn more: Phillip Jennings Turf Farms)

Using Water Efficiently: Watering too often encourages roots to stay near the lawn’s surface where they’re more susceptible to drought and disease. “By watering infrequently but deeply, we encourage roots to grow downward in search of the moisture,” Paul says. If you’ve just planted, it’s good practice to water every day until the new plantings are established. But after that, you should only need to water once a week, if that. To test whether you need to water, feel six inches down into the soil: if it’s wet, don’t water.

Lawn Renovation: If your grass has seen better days, try Paul’s eco-friendly renovation technique:

  • Rake lawn to remove thatch and dead grass, which creates good seed-to-soil contact.
  • Apply grass seed; don’t skimp.
  • Cover with layer of compost; this helps retain moisture and keep the birds away, and it’s a lot cheaper than spreading straw.