Bar soap is a convenient option for the bathroom, but when a bar gets to be too small, it becomes unwieldy and inconvenient. Instead of throwing out your small remnants of bath soap, use them to create new cleaning options for your home. With a bit of creativity, you can avoid adding the soap to your household waste and save money on sanitizing options for your garden, shower and guest bathroom.
Textile manufacturing creates chemical waste products that are environmentally harmful. Such processes as sizing, bleaching and dyeing fabrics leave toxins in wastewater. Printing and finishing processes can emit chemicals such as formaldehyde into the air (see References 1). By recycling household textiles, such as stained or worn table linens, to prolong their utility, you can contribute to reducing the ...
Washers and dryers are largely made from steel, which qualifies them for recycling, but you can't just toss them in your blue bin. Appliance recycling is done separately from household waste because appliances are not made entirely of one material. Instead, each appliance must be disassembled into its constituent parts, divided by material, then recycled in several different waste streams. Luckily, there are many ...
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists four possibilities for recycling everyday household waste: curbside pickup, centers for dropping off recyclables, buy-back centers that pay you for the used materials and programs that refund deposits you made at the time of purchase. (See References 1)
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Don't even think about throwing out those old cast-iron pots and pans. Iron is the main component of steel and is easily melted down in foundries to produce new steel. Iron-bearing scrap metals have been recycled into new steel in the United States for more than 150 years. (See References 1) According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, more than half of all steel foundries rely entirely on iron scrap metal in their furnaces, so demand for old iron is steady. (See References 2)
The household task of recycling involves your entire family. Although you may think the responsibility to recycle or reuse household items and product packaging belongs with the adults, children can help make sure recyclable items don't end up in the trash. Simple strategies can teach your children the value of recycling, while making it an enjoyable activity that increases their enthusiasm for reducing environmental waste.
In many households, particularly those that consume a great deal of soda or preserved foods, cans are a large part of the weekly load of garbage. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, aluminum and steel -- the materials that make up soft drink and soup cans -- are the most common metals that people bring to recycling centers (see References 1). When garbage day comes, you can lighten your trash bags and help the environment by finding ways to recycle cans.
Technology changes quickly, and upgrading often means donating or recycling your old computer. While many nonprofit organizations, commercial retailers and local hazardous waste programs now offer e-recycling programs, you still need to prepare your computer for safe disposal before you recycle it.
Computers and their components comprise the majority of the electronics equipment recycled each year in the U.S., representing approximately 60 percent of the market by weight (see References 3). Still, as reported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, computers are not recycled at a prolific rate. In 2007, more than 205 million computer products reached the end of their utility, and approximately 48 million, or just 18 percent, were recycled instead of thrown away; a small increase from the 15 percent rate measured between 1999 and 2005. (See References 6)
Transforming your office from one that throws away office supplies into one that has an office-wide recycling habit saves money in garbage hauling fees, generates less landfill waste and conserves the energy that would be used to make new materials. As a bonus, you may be able to sell some raw materials, such as aluminum (see References 2, page 39).
You can easily find planters made from recycled plastic, but you can take the recycling concept one step further by reusing materials from your own household, turning them into patio containers, seed starters and raised beds. With potential planters ranging from yogurt containers to old rowboats, fans of both recycling and gardening can grow anything from single herbs to small trees.
Most everyone is aware of the importance of recycling glass, plastics, metal and paper products. But properly collecting and reusing waste oil --- the petroleum-based oil required to keep your car's engine running smoothly --- not only helps the planet by keeping this harmful substance out of our waterways, it also saves, and even produces, energy.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that as of 2007, there were 99.1 million televisions in storage in the United States (References 1, page 25). In the same year 26.9 million new televisions were produced, but only about 18 percent of the old televisions they replaced were recycled (see References 1, pages 31 and 32). Many people store unused electronics because they're not sure what else to do with them, but it is easier than ever to recycle e-waste, with sellers offering buy back or recycling programs and many communities providing recycling guidance and services. As good as recycling is, reusing is even better, however.
Recycling isn't limited to bottles and cans. In fact, as 2003, roughly 40 percent of construction and demolition materials were recycled in the United States, a number that could be much higher than it is (see References 1, page 2). Recycling construction materials saves energy and resources, while keeping useful goods out of the landfill. Whether you're gutting your bathroom or tearing down the whole building, you can ensure a prolonged life for your cast-off materials by putting together a recycling plan for your project. You may be surprised to discover how much of your excess is still usable.
When you replace your current cell phone with an upgraded model, there are several options for recycling your old phone. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends recycling cell phones to help keep waste out of landfills and to reduce energy consumption used to manufacture new phones (see Reference 2). Protect the personal information on your phone by following a few simple steps before recycling.
You've seen news footage of the devastation caused by major oil spills, and you cringe every time you change your oil. Recycling your used oil keeps it out of the environment, where it can contaminate groundwater and soil and harm wildlife. Used oil is easily recycled because it doesn't wear out --- it just gets dirty --- and it can be simply re-refined to produce new oil or useable fuel. In fact, two gallons of used oil can power the average home for one day. (See References 1)
Next to line-drying your clothes, the best strategy for saving energy is to invest in an energy-efficient dryer, to dry only full loads and to clean the lint trap after each use (see References 5). The latter step is important because dryer lint, a homely and forgettable by-product of doing laundry, can clog the dryer --- the longer it takes your clothes to dry, the higher the energy costs. Don't just dump the lint in the trash, though. From kindling to crafts, dryer lint has several useful household applications.
Teaching your kids about recycling can be difficult, because the concept is often fairly abstract for younger children. Talking to them regularly about the benefits of recycling is crucial, but also be sure to participate in green activities that highlight that importance. Older children and teenagers should be encouraged to apply what they have learned to benefit the community by volunteering with recycling or composting programs at their school or other public facilities.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as much as 90 percent of work-related waste is paper, making it recyclable. Starting a workplace recycling program takes initiative, organization and education. Preparing and launching a program take time, but after the program is in place, your workplace can significantly reduce its waste output, lower its carbon footprint and even generate a small amount of income for your company.
Recycling as much of your household garbage as possible can significantly reduce your contribution to landfills. If you supplement traditional recycling with activities like backyard composting, you can also save the energy required to transport and process garbage. Communities across the United States handle recycling differently; talk to the folks at your city's waste management office for specific locations and collection times.
Many metals can be melted down repeatedly without losing their strength or durability (see References 1, p. 5). That makes them ideal for recycling because they can be used again and again in manufacturing new products. Recycling metals also saves natural resources and energy compared to starting from scratch by mining and refining raw ore. (See References 2) In some cases you can sell used equipment for the value of their metals (see References 3).
Everyone loves upgrading to the latest cell phone, but you might feel guilty about getting rid your old phone if it's still perfectly usable. Remember that the second of the "three R's" is "reuse" --- don't turn to recycling until you've wrung every last drop of life out of your phone. When you do need to upgrade, remember that what is no longer valuable to you may be a lifeline for someone else. If your phone is not in working order, there are several options for responsible disposal.
People and companies in the United States use 68 million tons of paper annually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency; an average office worker might go through 10,000 sheets of paper per year. However, as of 2009, U.S. residents recycled only about 60 percent of their paper products (see References 1). One way to raise this rate is to recycle household wastepaper into crafts like handmade envelopes. Not only do these envelopes give discarded paper a second use, they can be beautiful objects every bit as valuable as the treasures you place inside them.
Gathering dust in attics and the back of closets or fading on the racks of second-hand stores, vintage clothing is in no short supply. In most cases these vintage finds are clean, tear and stain free. The materials are suitable to reuse on another garment or recycle into a completely new one. Hazardous waste is produced as a by-product of dyeing textiles, finishing knit goods and finishing wool (see References 1, 2). Recycle or remake vintage clothing into new clothes or other useful items as one part of an ecologically conscious lifestyle (see References 3).
U.S. citizens do better with recycling paper than any other recyclable, with the exception of auto batteries (see References 1 and 2). Offices and public spaces make it increasingly easy to toss a newspaper or magazine you're done reading into a recycling bin. Nonetheless, the numbers also show there's still room to make progress to realize the full environmental benefits of recycling newspapers and magazines.
Recycling unwanted clothing reduces landfill waste as well as the amount of resources needed to produce new clothing. It also lessens the waste produced by the manufacturing process --- clothing scraps end up in the landfill, too. Used clothing can be donated, sold or disassembled for the fabric.
Discarded electronics present a challenge on two fronts. Our outdated gadgets usually contain chemicals, such as cadmium and lead, which can leach into soil and water when dumped in a landfill. In addition, the sheer amount of e-waste generated each year has created a lucrative black market in undeveloped countries in which unscrupulous waste companies use child labor to dismantle the gadgets -- they need workers with fingers small enough to pluck out tiny wires and chips (see References 1, Magnitude of the Problem). To get around the problem of pollution, simply reuse or recycle your old electronics. To get around the larger social problems associated with e-waste, you must do some research before you choose your recycler.
Local businesses and school booster clubs often give away, or sell for fundraisers, canvas carrying bags and totes with sponsor logos printed on them. After years of accumulation, you may find your home has more tote bags than anyone could ever need. You can use them as eco-friendly grocery totes, book bags for the library and bags for organizing a variety of items in your home. Fabric from the remaining carrying bags offers potential for reuse in craft projects.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 1.5 million tons of magazines entered the municipal solid waste stream in 2009 and that approximately 54 percent were recycled (see References 1). The process of recycling magazines is basically the same as it is for other types of paper. Recycled magazines, however, are not used to produce new magazines. Instead, they end up in other products.
Wine connoisseurs often save the label or the cork from a particularly tasty bottle of wine as both a keepsake and reminder of the wines they enjoy. Others religiously recycle wine bottles but keep the corks in hopes that someday they will find a way to recycle them as well. Depending on the size of your wine-cork collection, you can cover anything from a serving tray to a cork board to an entire wall and create a unique tribute to your favorite vintages.
The universal recycling symbol of three arrows chasing one another in a triangle indicates that a product's packaging is both recyclable and made of recycled materials (see References 4). But the presence of this symbol or other recycling mark does not mean you can easily recycle that packaging; residential recycling programs and drop-off centers accept different items. Earth911's national directory of programs and centers, searchable by ZIP code, lists what items are allowed. Once you have the necessary information, follow a few basic recycling do's and don'ts to ensure that these materials end up in the recycling loop instead of the landfill.
Recycling your old cell phone benefits the environment by keeping plastic, metal and batteries out of landfills, thereby reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Used cell phones can be refurbished and reused if they are still in good working condition. Older or damaged phones can be recycled and processed into new plastic and metal products such as automotive parts (see References 2). You can recycle or donate your phone to a number of nonprofit groups. Take a few precautionary steps to protect your personal information before recycling your phone with any program.
The cost of home redecorating, including professional services and new products or materials, can be prohibitive. Out-of-pocket expenses aside, the environmental cost of redecorating can be just as pricey. For example, using up natural resources such as wood for new furnishings and wood pulp for wallpaper means consuming additional timber. The manufacturing processes for materials such as new carpeting may create greenhouse gases -- substances that trap heat inside the Earth's atmosphere, causing global warming (see References 1, pages 3 to 4). By recycling and reusing items you already own into new decorating uses, you can save money while reducing your personal consumption of environmentally taxing products.
Copper wire retains value even after it has outlived its usefulness for you. With global electrification, which uses copper wire, and the scarcity of copper ore, copper recycling will need to increase to nearly 100 percent by the end of the 21st century, according to a 2002 report prepared for the Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development project of the International Institute for Environment and Development (see References 1, page 96). This is good news to you because it means that someone out there will be happy to pay you for your old copper wire.
Recycling is the process of turning trash into usable materials. The recycling industry bases its supply on communities and businesses that collect recyclable materials and send them to recycling centers. After collection, the recycling process involves breaking substances down into commodities that manufacturers purchase to create goods that consumers purchase as recycled products. Commonly recycled materials include glass, aluminum, paper and plastic. (See References 1)
In 1980, Americans recycled less than 10 percent of their waste. By 2008, the recycling rate had gone up to 33 percent. (See References 1, page 2) If you want to cut down on the amount of garbage your family sends to the landfill, start by reducing the amount of excess packaging and single-use products you buy. Reuse whatever you can, and when you do dispose of used items, give them another life through recycling and composting.
Wash water, cooking water and bath water all fall into the graywater classification. You can reuse such graywater in a variety of ways. While you cannot drink graywater, due to impurities, you may be able to reuse it both indoors and out. Most states have developed standards for graywater use, however, so review these before undertaking any of these household graywater projects. (See References 1)
Recycling means to turn waste into a reusable product or to refurbish a product for reuse. Upcycling, a particular form of recycling, involves turning waste material or an unwanted product into a better-quality product. When considering what to do with unwanted products or materials, consider whether upcycling the items or recycling them in another fashion would be most beneficial to your budget and the environment.
Deciding to green your life means finding effective ways to reduce your energy consumption while increasing the number of products you recycle or reuse in your home. The goal of going green is to significantly reduce your family's contribution to waste production, greenhouse gas emissions and consumption of natural resources. Recycling is an important part of going green --- it keeps waste out of landfills by turning materials, such as glass and paper, into resources that can be processed into new materials. Start going green by making small changes around your home.
In 2008, Americans discarded some 31.4 million tons of corrugated cardboard; about 77 percent of the total was ultimately recycled (see References 1). Most recycling centers accept corrugated cardboard, a valuable postconsumer product (see References 2). A relatively simple process recycles most forms of corrugated cardboard.
Composing and recycling are two environmentally sound methods of handling waste. Using either approach to waste management keeps materials out of landfills and minimizes your environmental impact. While reusing items or reducing consumption in the first place could have even greater long-term beneficial effects, recycling and composting are good waste management techniques for dealing with materials whose time for discarding has come. In most cases, the primary difference concerns the type of material involved: organic or manufactured.
In nature, nutrients recycle efficiently on their own. Nearly every bit of plant or animal organic matter in a forest, for example, decomposes gradually until it becomes part of the soil. Soils contains between 0 percent and 10 percent organic matter. Generally, the more organic matter, the more fertile the soil. Human systems are much less efficient. Cultivation can reduce organic matter by 30 percent to 50 percent (see References 1). That organic matter ends up in landfills, where it only grows bacteria and only produces carbon dioxide. By composting and using your compost as fertilizer, you can improve the productivity of your garden while reducing your ecological footprint.
Your recycled countertop can be a slab of salvaged stone or a post-consumer waste composite. Green alternatives are plentiful, attractive and stand up well to wear and tear. Best of all, they look like "normal" countertops --- no one will mistake your expensive kitchen remodel for a DIY project. The best countertops take into consideration a product's entire lifecycle: they are made from low-impact, recycled materials; they use lower amounts of energy to process than their standard counterparts; they produce minimal transportation-related emissions; and they can be recycled or reused when they are no longer useful. (See References 4)
Rescue old wood windows from a trip to the landfill by turning them into picture frames. Liven up a garage or shed wall in the backyard with faux window art (see References 1). A window that's no longer useful in the wall is decorative on the wall with help from some photographs and double-stick tape. Charming vintage multipaned windows, somewhat the worse for wear, become shabby chic mini-galleries (see References 2). Unexpected windows in the garden are crafty trompe l'oeil. If you're not replacing your own windows, find some at flea markets, at construction salvage warehouses or on the curb.
Curtains offer an abundance of fabric for craft projects once their usefulness as window coverings has ended. The fabric is often in like-new condition, as the only wear a typical curtain gets is from hanging in a window. Recycle window treatments from your linen closet or purchase them inexpensively from yard sales and thrift stores to create new household items. Some projects utilize the existing hems and rod casings of the curtains --- or these elements can be cut away, leaving you with a blank canvas.
Almost anything that can hold a reasonable amount of household waste, yet remain relatively lightweight and portable when full, will work as a recycling bin. Waste baskets with lids or large containers used for clothing and linen storage work well. Sturdy cardboard boxes and wooden crates are fine for paper, but for sanitation considerations, use plastic, rubber or metal containers for collecting empty beverage and food containers.
It seems logical to add used or leftover wallpaper scraps to the contents of your recycling bin, because it is primarily made of paper. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Some types of wallpaper contain a high concentration of synthetic inks and dyes that is difficult and costly to separate from the paper. Certain adhesives and coatings present a similar problem. In effect, most wallpaper is too "polluted" with contaminants to turn back into paper, but you can give old wallpaper a new purpose.
Putting your old Macintosh out on the curb makes you party to a plethora of ecological no-nos. Although environmentalists are still discovering ways to properly and efficiently dispose of technological refuse, some earth-friendly options do exist. First consider whether or not your computer might be valuable to a local school or nonprofit organization. Many nonprofits work with volunteers who are proficient at repairing old systems. If you are certain the computer is of no use to anybody, choose your disposal option carefully.
Worms eat kitchen scraps, quickly turning your waste into rich, dark compost. This method of recycling kitchen waste is called vermicomposting. When using worms to dispose of kitchen waste, not only are you making a difference by keeping food scraps out of the landfill, you are making great soil for the garden. The term vermiculture refers to the method of using worms to recycle kitchen scraps into garden soil.
Every community differs in what it accepts for recycling and how it wants to collect recyclables, observes psychologist and organization expert Cindy Glovinsky in "One Thing at a Time: 100 Simple Ways to Live Clutter-Free Every Day." Your community may collect and sort nearly anything and everything, while another may have clear limits on what it will take. If your own setup reflects local recycling guidelines, you can follow a straightforward routine that makes you feel good about keeping household waste out of landfills. (See References 1, page 179)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that in 2010, Americans generated about 250 million tons of trash. Out of all that trash, about 85 million tons, or slightly over 34 percent, was recycled. (See Reference 1) You can do your part to increase that percentage by recycling both inside and outside of your home. As long as you follow a few basic rules, recycling is an easy process.
Compact fluorescent lightbulbs pack the efficiency of standard fluorescent bulbs into a small package that can fit in a standard incandescent light socket. However, CFLs also contain mercury, an element that is highly toxic to humans. To avoid mercury exposure, CFLs must not be discarded in the regular trash, but rather deposited at authorized recycling or hazardous materials centers in accordance with local laws. (See References 1, 2 and 3)
U.S. citizens recycled about one-third of the garbage that they discarded in 2009. While most people are aware of the recyclability of items like paper products and aluminum cans, many other items sent out to the curb each week could take another turn as a recycled product (see References 1, pages 1 and 3). While some municipalities provide curbside pickups for common recyclables, you can recycle other articles at drop-off centers (see References 2).
There are many new, environmentally friendly fabrics on the market -- including organic or humanely produced variants of long-familiar natural materials like cotton, linen and wool (see References 1). Though more eco-friendly than their nonorganic and factory-farmed counterparts, they are expensive and still require some energy to produce, so cannot offer the same cost-saving and green benefits that using what you already have on hand can. Whether you re-cut and sew vintage clothing, or use unusual materials to create truly different fashions, recycled clothing is the greenest option.
Freon is a DuPont trade name for a class of refrigerants or chillers widely used in refrigeration and air-conditioning systems. Other manufacturers produce these refrigerants and market them under different trade names. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Freon depletes the ozone layer, contributes to global warming and can present health hazards to those exposed to it. Nonetheless, some still recover and recycle Freon because it is a very effective refrigerant. (See References 2)
Many consumers reduce their household waste by recycling; some items, such as ceramics and scratched DVDs, are not recyclable into new material. Instead of throwing out your non-recyclable items, turn them into creative handmade pieces of jewelry. Whether you are looking to add to your stash of accessories or start a green business, recycled jewelry can help reduce your impact on the environment.
By selecting recycled materials for flooring or reusing flooring materials, you conserve natural resources, reduce the toll that manufacturing from virgin materials takes on the environment, keep useful items out of the landfill and reduce pollution. Several types of flooring may outlast the original installation, and you can remove it to reuse in another place. Manufacturers also recycle materials to make flooring for home and commercial settings.
While household products are increasingly packaged in recyclable materials, consider giving these handy containers a second look before tossing them in the recycle bin. You can save money and conserve resources by thinking about creative ways to repurpose peanut butter jars, dairy tubs, jelly jars, ice cream buckets, coffee canisters, food tins and other containers. Household containers may find a second life to corral art and school supplies, store leftover cooked food, house dried rice and beans, package homemade gifts and even grow basil on the patio.
Eighty-three million tons of paper and paperboard, or cardboard, were generated in the year 2007. Of that, slightly more than 54 percent of this was recovered through recycling, according to a report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (see Reference 1, page 16). Consumers can recycle cardboard boxes by simply reusing them for another purpose, thereby eliminating the need to manufacture a storage or shipping container and saving the energy and natural resources that would have been used to make it.
Aluminum is commonly used in packaging. In fact, this ubiquitous material comprises 99 percent of all beer cans and 97 percent of all soft drink cans. These containers contribute to the 3.4 million tons of aluminum that enter the municipal solid waste stream every year (see References 1). Fortunately, aluminum is easy to recycle and a beverage can might even find a new life as an aircraft or automotive part. Recycling aluminum also offers several other benefits.
In a worldwide study of laundry practices published in 2010, researchers found that the average American household washes 289 loads of laundry annually, using approximately 144 liters or 38 gallons of water per load, or almost 11,000 gallons a year (see References 1). The U.S. Energy Information Administration's 2001 Residential Energy Consumption Survey found clothes dryers accounted for about 6 percent of household energy consumption (see References 2). Energy-efficient washers and dryers use about half the amount of energy and 30 to 50 percent less water for every load of laundry (see References 3). Upgrading to a more efficient washer and dryer, however, means recycling your old machines.
Textiles --- including clothing --- contributed 12.7 million tons of waste to the U.S. municipal waste system in 2009, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (see References 1, page 7). Creative strategies for reusing unwanted clothing can help reduce this number. To make a quilt from recycled clothing, first determine what type of quilt you want to make. Amass clothing of like thickness and fabric type. Flannel, corduroy, cotton and denim work well for quilting. Save stretchy fabrics, such as stretch knits, fleece and stretch velvet, or slippery fabrics, such as silk and satin, for other craft projects.
"Cardboard" is a term we often use for many types of boxes and containers, but it isn't used in the paper industry, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (see References 1, page 39). Corrugated boxes constituted the largest single component of municipal solid waste in 2009 -- 11.2 percent -- as well as the largest category of of materials Americans recovered 81.3 percent of corrugated boxes for recycling (see References 1, page 95). Recyclers separate corrugated boxes from other paper because paper mills produce different grades of material, depending on what is being recovered (see References 2, page 2).
Increasing awareness about the availability and benefits of recycling yielded recycling rates as high as 74 percent for common recyclables like paper in 2009 (see References 1, page 3). Yet recycling centers routinely handle much more than bottles, cans and paper, and knowing what you're putting out as trash that you could recycle helps you to lessen the amount of garbage you sent to landfills and incinerators.
Recycling is one of the easiest ways to "go green." Local governments provide more than half of U.S. households with regular curbside pickups of recyclables, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and you can also recycle items through drop-off, buy-back and deposit-refund programs (see References 4). Recycling efforts make a difference to the environment, but with an overall recycling rate of just over one-third of trash produced, people still throw away too many things instead of recycling (see References 1, page 1).
Wood pallets are commonly used in shipping and warehousing --- they provide a base for stacked and bulky items, and facilitate transport by forklifts. Some pallets are made from hardwoods, usually oak; however, most cheaper pallets are made with softwoods, such as pine or cypress. Recycling pallets can help reduce the need for new wood and reduce landfill waste, since cheaper pallets are commonly discarded. Several simple strategies can help you enjoy new uses for discarded pallet lumber.
If you've ever wondered what happens to the items you recycle after you toss them into the proper bin and leave them at the curb, you'll probably be surprised to learn that more than 4,500 products on the market make use of recycled materials (see References 3). Chances are, you'll find more than a few of these green goodies in your own home.
Recycling results in many benefits for society and the environment. In addition to reducing the amount of virgin materials mined and harvested, recycling uses less energy and generates less pollution -- including greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change -- than starting with new materials (see References 1). Instead of pitching that old newspaper or empty bottle, though, find some additional uses for it. Reusing before recycling satisfies many people's desire to avoid energy expenditures at all, to the greatest extent possible.
Nature can provide for everyday needs such as writing ink. Traditional ink sources include flower petals and tree bark, and though fruit sources are less traditional, they also make for useful ink. Berries and cherries, with their high juice content, are ideal for ink making. Unlike other juicy fruits such as watermelons, citrus fruits or peaches, berry and cherry juice are dark enough to show on writing paper. Use fruits that are commonly available at supermarkets, or go hiking to gather wild berries such as pokeberries or sumac berries if you'd like to take your eco-lifestyle up a notch.
Peanut oil is one of the most suitable oils for frying food, with a relatively high smoking point and no unhealthful trans-fatty acids (see References 1). If properly strained and stored, you can reuse peanut oil several times for frying before eventually disposing of it. As with all vegetable oil, peanut oil can be recycled into biodiesel, a fuel suitable for any engine that normally runs on diesel fuel (see References 3). Depending on your location, there may be a local government biodiesel program (see References 4) or private individuals willing to accept your used peanut oil.
With the falling prices and rapid turnover of electronics, Americans are disposing of televisions faster than ever. Only a small fraction of discarded televisions are recycled, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The rest end up in landfills, where they can leach toxins into the environment. Fortunately, you have several avenues through which you can responsibly dispose of your television. Reuse should always be your first step, but if that's not possible, recycling your plasma television can save energy and resources by contributing parts that would otherwise be manufactured from raw materials.
Replacing old appliances with new Energy Star models saves you money. Certified appliances use less electricity and water without sacrificing performance, and you'll see the difference in practice, but also in your wallet. Sell or donate your old appliances if they're in working order -- but if they're not, recycling them is vital. In some states, it's the law (see References 2).
Research and advances in technology have lead to an increasing number of recycling opportunities for rubber. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. generated more than 290 million scrap tires in 2003. About 233 million, or 80.4 percent, of these tires were saved from the landfill and the rubber was recycled into other valuable commodities.
Every day you face a choice of whether to recycle or simply discard an item. Statistics from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show that in 2009, the amount of trash sent to landfills nationwide averaged nearly three pounds daily, per person, in contrast to about one and one-half pounds of materials recycled (see References 1, page 9). From a green living perspective, the benefits of recycling compared to the drawbacks of landfilling makes recycling an easy decision.
Some materials can be recycled infinitely. Others only make it through the process once before heading to the dump. How a recyclable stands up to the violent forces that re-form it into raw material for manufacturing determines its longevity. If its basic properties don't change, it can be recycled almost without limit. Its recycling days are numbered, however, if it degrades, or downcycles, to a lower-quality material. (See References 1)
The average mattress has a lifespan of more than 10 years. Once that lifespan is over, however, the dead mattress takes up 28 cubic feet in the landfill, and is 400 percent less compactable than regular household trash because it's designed to withstand compression. The first solution is to reuse whatever you can. However, if your bed is beyond salvation, you may have to do a bit of research to find a local facility to accept it for recycling. (See references 1 - Mattress Recycling, pg 6)
Educating children about environmental responsibility is one way to orient future generations toward conservation. Thoughtful parents and teachers can point out dozens of activities to reduce, reuse and recycle throughout each day, and children will learn to identify additional opportunities to become more "green." With some creativity, parents and teachers can model conservation practices that go beyond basic recycling bins to projects in which children can create new items from old ones.
Individual action for the environment often calls for small acts, and recycling serves as one of the best examples of that. While it's easy to understand how small actions undertaken by millions of participants can have an effect, when holding an aluminum can and deciding whether to pitch it or recycle it, it's easy to believe that your choice doesn't have much impact. Aluminum recycling in particular, however, has significant benefits for the environment.
Greywater is wastewater from bathroom sinks, bathtubs, showers and clothes washing machines (see References 1). You can start greywater recycling with just a 5-gallon bucket or set up a system that reroutes greywater through your home to where it is needed.
Americans generate over 243 million tons of trash every year as of 2011 according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This material ends up in the waste stream where it may be recycled, composted, placed in a landfill or incinerated. Each of these systems has different capabilities and limitations. Understanding the facets of each approach allows communities to make waste management decisions that are cost-effective and beneficial for both human health and the environment. (See References 1)
If you have a television that's obsolete, collecting dust or out of commission, donating it to a company that will recycle it can help divert the TV from the landfill and may even make a dent in your tax bill. In certain cases, the Internal Revenue Service allows you to deduct a television donated for recycling. But the rules are specific as to what type of company you can donate to and how much you can claim on your income tax return.
Many community recycling programs encourage you to wash out your recyclables. But there is some debate about whether it's necessary to rinse out recyclables. And, many communities have varying rules on whether rinsing out recyclables is a required step. There are advantages to both rinsing materials and skipping the sink on the way to the recycle bin, but it's important to double check with your local recycling facility or trash hauler for specific rules in your area. Some municipalities have strict rules for rinsing out recyclables, while others leave it up to you to decide.
Oil lamps have been used from the earliest human history to the present to light homes (see References 1). While the lamps have improved, with modern metal burners and glass chimneys, the basic principle remains the same. The oil is drawn up from a reservoir by a wick and burns just above the burner, providing light for your home. Without a wick, the lamp is unusable. Wicks for antique oil lamps are not always available; however, you can make one in just a few minutes from a recycled cotton tea towel. Indeed, cotton socks were recycled into lamp wicks in the 1860s. (See Reference 2, page 21)
The leftovers you toss into the trash are a major source of landfill waste. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, food scraps accounted for about 12.5 percent of the total municipal solid waste in 2007 — that's about 32 million tons of trash. Food scraps also have one of the lowest rates of recycling at less than 3 percent. Finding ways to recycle fruits and vegetables can make a significant dent in the amount of waste your household generates (see Reference 1).
Americans are playing soccer in ever-increasing numbers. The U.S. Embassy refers to soccer as the "fastest growing sport in the country" (see References 1). With the sport growing, so does demand for soccer balls. Many of them land in the garbage dump when dirty or damaged, but if you're concerned about reducing the amount of waste you produce each year, consider recycling that old, worn-out soccer ball. Where you can recycle a soccer ball depends on how you'd like to see it used.
Keurig introduced its patented K-Cup technology in 1998. The K-Cup, a self-contained brewing system for coffee, tea, hot chocolate and more, produces only one cup at a time, which some people may find wasteful. Keurig K-Cups can't be recycled as a whole unit due to the structure of the cup. While the company has committed to research ways that this can be remedied, alternatives can help you reduce the amount of K-Cup waste that ends up in the landfill.
Many laptop owners have a hard time letting go of their beloved castoff machines, sometimes from fear they will accidentally release private information but more often because of uncertainty about what to do with the computers. The best choice is to donate them for refurbishing and reuse. However, computers older than five years are considered inadequate and should be recycled instead (see Reference 1). Recycling obsolete laptops helps protect the environment in numerous ways (see References 1 and 2).
Recyclables have opened up new markets for recovered materials that provide benefits to the consumer, businesses and the environment. One of the primary benefits is a reduction in landfill waste. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the number of landfills decreased from almost 8,000 in 1988 to 1,754 in 2006. In addition, the amount of waste that ends up in landfills has dropped. You can easily find three basic types of recyclable goods, some from surprising sources (see Reference 1).
The differences in recycling processes show how specialized technology has developed to meet the changing demands of the marketplace. Methods have become more sophisticated to reach niche markets. They have also evolved to refine reprocessing to overcome limitations and reduce costs. Each type of recyclable presents its own unique challenges. The differences, therefore, lie in the methods used to overcome difficulties in a cost-effective way.
Nail polish adds a touch of beauty to your nails, but tossing an old bottle of polish in the trash is an ugly thing to do. Nail polish contains a mix of chemicals that can concentrate in the bodies of animals causing cancer and developmental and reproductive problems. Because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers nail polish hazardous waste, take special care when disposing of nail polish bottles (see Reference 3).
Dacron is the international brand name for polyethylene terephthalate, a durable polyester textile used in a wide variety of industrial and consumer goods. Fiberfill in pillows and bedding, fabrics, sailcloth, webbing for luggage, and fibers for carpeting and upholstery are just a few of Dacron’s uses. Dacron can be easily recycled at designated facilities for further use as insulation material, yarn, carpet pads and pet bedding. In contrast to this green practice, the manufacture of new polyester necessitates large amounts of energy and water and emits volatile gases into the atmosphere. Recycling old Dacron-containing textiles, and all polyester products, is a simple way to reduce your impact on the earth’s resources.
As Americans become more aware of the impact of their purchases, the market for recycled clothing has increased tremendously. Even the regular clothing industry has responded to increasing environmental awareness, with products made from organic fibers such as cotton and hemp. Your clothes and personal effects account for nearly 5 percent of the solid waste you generate (see Reference 2, page 56). The environmental effect of your purchases varies with the type of clothing.
As convenient as a mini fridge may be during its lifetime, it can be a burden on the environment after it stops working. A mini fridge, like its big brothers and sisters, contains hazardous materials that make placing it in the trash unacceptable. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulates the disposal of all appliances that use refrigerants, and your state or city may have additional requirements. Happily, most of the components in your mini fridge can be recycled once it makes it to the proper facility.
Thirty-one million tons of plastic waste, from trash bags to medical devices, were generated in the United States in 2010 (See References 1). Plastics recycling varies extensively across the nation, with some programs recycling all resin types and others focusing on just a few (See References 2 and 3). A fun way to teach children about the plastics that can be recycled in their local program is to create games that help them learn about the seven different categories of plastics typically found in the municipal solid waste stream and highlighting those that can be recycled locally.
Exercise balls, also commonly known as stability balls or Swiss balls, come in a range of sizes, and they can be used to build strength and increase balance. Unfortunately, as beneficial as they may be for personal health, they're not so great for the environment. Most exercise balls are made of vinyl, which is not easily recycled. Don't throw those balls away, however; specialty recycling centers will take them, and gently used exercise equipment can be donated.
You've decided to remodel your kitchen or bathroom and upgrade your fixtures. If you're like most Americans, you may wonder if you can recycle the old ones. Your curbside recycling may or may not accept these items. However, you still have other options. By recycling, you'll reduce your contribution to landfill waste. You may also take a significant step toward conserving water use in your home by selecting a more efficient faucet. (References 1)
Going to college may provide your first opportunity to run your own household. Along with studying and school activities, keeping your dorm room clean adds to your responsibilities. Your college will likely try to make recycling easy, because it benefits both you and the school. According to a 2009 Harris Poll, more than two-thirds of American adults recycle (see Reference 1). If you don't do so already, it is an excellent habit to start while you're in school.
California is one of 11 states with a bottle redemption program that encourages consumers to recycle reusable plastic, glass and metal containers. According to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), nearly 22 billion eligible containers were sold in the state in 2009, and 17 billion of those were recycled (see References 1), netting consumers between $850 million and $1.7 billion in California Redemption Value (CRV) rebates (See References 4). Anyone in California can participate in the program—provided they only recycle bottles purchased in the state. Containers from neighboring Nevada are ineligible, and attempting to recoup the CRV from them constitutes fraud.
Old tires not only take up vast amounts of space in landfills, they also pose a serious fire hazard. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, landfill fires fueled by tires release volatile compounds into the atmosphere and are difficult to control. In fact, tire fires can even flare up again months after they seem to be extinguished. (See Reference 2) Repurposing your tires by reusing or recycling them keeps them from harming the environment and posing a safety hazard.
Used tires make excellent flower pots for a lawn or garden. If you've saved up many used tires, use them to create a series of beds or a border for your garden. The recycled theme will give your yard a rustic flavor with the whimsical touch that stems from seeing familiar objects in unfamiliar places. Plus, the tires provide insulation that will keep your plants warm even when the weather gets cold.
Refrigerators are bulky appliances that pose environmental problems when it's time for their disposal. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, older refrigerators may contain ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons or hydrochlorofluorocarbons and other dangerous chemicals. Despite that, the appliance still has valuable metals, glass and plastic that can be recycled. You can't dismantle the non-working refrigerator on your own to separate the recyclable parts. Instead, take the fridge to a recycling center that can handle the job.
Gardens arranged in raised beds, rather than conventional rows, present several advantages. The soil in a raised bed warms faster in springtime, and raised beds allow better drainage which helps prevent moisture damage and root rot. If the beds are raised to at least knee height, gardeners with physical or mobility problems can grow flowers or vegetables with minimal discomfort. Beds more than a few inches high require some sort of structure to contain the soil. One ecologically responsible choice is to build the bed using recycled materials.
Small fire pits are becoming as common as barbecue grills, but a store-bought assembly kit can cost hundreds of dollars. You can get the same effect with bricks and a large fireproof bowl, such as an institutional-sized mixing bowl or an old wok. Not only do you find a new use for a discarded bowl, but the bowl helps make your fire pit easier to control and to clean.
Curbside recycling programs tend to focus on easily recycled products like aluminum, glass, paper, cardboard and plastic resins #1 and #2. However, removing widespread yet atypical items from the municipal waste stream for recycling often depends on special programs launched by corporate entities eager to reduce their environmental impact. One such program, ReUSE A Shoe, adopted by Converse in 2011, has seen large-scale success turning worn-out shoes into playgrounds, tracks and tennis courts (See References 1).
Fiberboard, which is most commonly associated with medium-density fiberboard, or MDF, is an engineered wood product made from wood chips, plant fibers and other materials. Widely used in the manufacture of cabinets, furniture and many other products, fiberboard contains potentially toxic products that make recycling the material difficult. Understanding more about fiberboard and the challenges of recycling it will help you decide how to handle your old or leftover fiberboard.
From aluminum cans to old telephone books, dozens of household goods are eligible for recycling through municipal collection programs. Though recycling laws vary depending on the jurisdiction, many cities collect paper, plastic and metal from homes and businesses, reducing the amount of trash going into landfills, as well as their carbon footprints. New York City’s aggressive recycling program, for example, collects nearly 2,000 tons of plastic, metal and paper every day. (See Reference 1) Nevertheless, there are many more categories of recyclable goods that can either be reused or transformed into new products.
Polyvinyl Chloride, or PVC, is the plastic commonly known as vinyl, which can be found in everyday items from bottles to house siding. PVC content is identified on plastic containers by the number "3" in the triangular recycle symbol. The disposal and recycling process for PVC is hazardous to various degrees due to the material's inherent chlorine content, as well as the range of chemical additives used for increasing material stability and variety in usage properties.
Used wool clothing can be recycled into new, original accessories. Recycling old clothes extends the life of existing fabrics and reduces the energy needed to make new fabrics (See Reference 1). A do-it-yourself hat with ear flaps is one sewing project that can be easily sourced from an old wool sweater or from multiple wool castoffs. This project can be sewn from basic shapes or fit to a more elaborate sewing pattern.
The fashion industry has long held animal skins in high regard, but for those who embrace a greener lifestyle, wearing leather can be a bona fide style conundrum. Tanning, dyeing and manufacturing leather poses a notable threat to our natural environment, from chemically volatile dyes and suspended solids in our water to the release of toxic chemical emissions in our air (see References 3). Bodies of water located near leather tanneries are typically very high in alkalinity due to the release of waste products such as chromium, sodium sulfide, lime, and ammonium nitrogen, among others (see References 1 and 2). One way to embrace this enduring trend with substantially less eco-guilt is to transform a thrift store jacket into a new-to-you pair of DIY leather boots. You can make almost any style of boot, as long as you select the right second-hand duds.
Used petroleum is a product that traditionally cannot be flushed down the drain or placed in a landfill -- it must be disposed of by professionals. Fortunately, old petroleum can be re-refined for other use. The process is quite involved, but necessary, in order to reuse this nonrenewable resource. In fact, the process has become so intricate that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency describes it as comparable to the refining of crude oil. (See Reference 1)
Major appliances, like refrigerators, typically have a high recovery rate -- about 65 percent -- partly because retailers make recycling easier by offering trade-ins whenever a homeowner purchases a new model. The same cannot be said for small appliances like microwaves. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that nearly 1.6 million tons of solid waste from small appliances was generated in 2010 alone; of that amount, 6.9 percent was recovered for recycling. Your decision to recycle is a positive step toward improving that figure. (See Reference 1, Pages 7, 14 and 15)
Thanks to the implementation of relaxed zoning laws, more urbanites and suburbanites are keeping backyard chickens and goats. Caring for your own menagerie can be rewarding, and you don't need a lot of space to homestead in this fashion. A single goat requires only 15 square feet of space, whereas individual chickens thrive in a more modest 2 to 3 feet (see References 1 and 2). A metal shed with the proper dimensions can be retrofitted to house your livestock. Good ventilation and a steady source of natural light are essential for the livelihood of chickens and goats, no matter the season, so they should be among your main concerns while converting your old shed.
As an embodiment of human communication and personal expression, books have been both banned and celebrated throughout history. Today, the rise of digital media has relegated once-revered books to thrift shops and even landfills, where 28.5 percent of our nation's paper-based municipal solid waste ultimately ends up (see References 2). Those with a creative inclination can reduce that waste by transforming a humble text into a decorative art piece.
Thousands of products are stacked on wooden pallets to facilitate handling, warehousing and transporting from manufacture to distribution. Large users often recycle or reuse pallets but for businesses that only occasionally get a pallet-load of product, discarding, burning or just giving them away is more cost efficient. Pallets aren’t made from the high quality or commercially valuable lumber, but even used pallets made of cottonwood, hackberry or other species of trees can be re-purposed into rustic outdoor chairs.
Old sweaters that are too worn, torn or stained for the thrift store or clothing drive can be recycled into attractive new toys. The handcrafted look of sweater animals make them beautiful decorations for a child's room, or even for around the house. Plus, you don't have to knit or crochet a stitch to create durable stuffed animals.
The craft of sewing is regaining popularity, as many environmentally proactive people begin to explore its do-it-yourself and small-scale industry potential (See Reference 1). Before the 1950s, through economic necessity, people recycled old clothing into new items through sewing (See Reference 2). Today, sewing recycling and repurposing projects not only helps to save money, it produces a uniquely personal product and prolongs the life of useful fabric items, keeping them out of the waste stream.
When it comes to staying warm and dry, butterflies seeking winter lodging prefer the nooks and crannies of brush and woodpiles that recycle naturally. Butterflies enjoy garden areas gone wild due to benign neglect. Wildlife experts, including the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, report that butterflies aren't attracted to tidy butterfly houses -- also called hibernation boxes -- that look like tall, wooden birdhouses with slit-like openings. (See Reference 1) Gardeners can repurpose cast-off materials and use recyclables, such as firewood, to build butterfly "log cabins" that winged visitors will enjoy creeping into during cold weather. (See Reference 2)
Twenty-nine percent of the solid waste Americans created in 2010 consisted of paper products, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (See Reference 1). While 63 percent of used paper was recycled, this number can and should be greatly increased. Paper recycling bins in homes and businesses, along with paper recycling centers, make reusing this resource simple and easy. You can contribute toward the decrease in paper waste by recycling the old posters you no longer wish to hang on your walls.
Reduce, reuse, recycle, remanufacture, renew and repurpose -- green living is fraught with terminology. As new ways to protect the environment and prolong the life of manufactured products are found, more terms are sure to be added. Consumers may wonder if words like "recycled" and "remanufactured" can be used interchangeably, or if there are truly differences worth noting to understand how each contributes to environmental protection. In fact, the processes of remanufacturing and recycling fall into two distinct areas of the waste management hierarchy.
Americans, on average, throw away about 70 pounds of clothing and other fabrics annually, according to the non-profit Council for Textile Recycling. (See Reference 1) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that just over 13 million tons of the municipal waste stream, or 5.3 percent, consists of textiles including cotton, wool, nylon linen and fleece. (See Reference 2) Do your part to avoid contributing to this waste by repurposing used pajamas.
Synthetic polymers first emerged in 1909 with the creation of Bakelite, which was produced initially for use in the casing of electrical components and went on to be used in jewelry and furniture. (See Reference 1) More commonly known today as plastics, or manufactured plastics, synthetic polymers can be found in an extensive array of items, ranging from product packaging to life-saving medical equipment. As the use of this material continues to climb and impact the municipal solid waste (MSW) stream, existing methods of recycling are being refined, and alternative methods are being explored. (See Reference 2)
The remnants of patios being removed from residential properties were at one time hauled off to the local landfill. Demolition of these surfaces is now done with more attention to breaking pads into larger pieces that can be repurposed as stepping stones, or even stacked to create planters. However, that end of the spectrum for concrete recycling is just the beginning; the demolished concrete of everything from office buildings to highways can be recycled, and oftentimes becomes the ingredient of a material that is even stronger. This rubble -- also referred to as recycled concrete aggregate, or RCA -- is finding new life in a myriad of applications.
Ceramics, including dishes, are recyclable for uses in art projects, driveway underlayment and gravel pathways. Although it is difficult to find recyclers who accept ceramics, when these products are ground up, they can be incorporated in tiles or new dishes. An artist might choose to reglaze old ceramic plates, redesigning their decorative elements and colors. However, donating old dishes to thrift shops is one of the simplest, most energy-efficient solutions.
Recycling textiles is one way almost everyone can reduce their ecological footprint. Before you purchase an article of clothing, its raw materials must be found and extracted, processed into fiber threads, woven into fabric and finally manufactured into a wearable garment and shipped to a retailer. Each step consumes energy and resources and generates waste. Reusing or recycling old clothes reduces this environmental impact, particularly with fabrics such as rayon, whose production involves many toxic chemicals. (See Reference 1.)
The speed with which consumers use and replace electronic devices is staggering: According to the United Nations Environmental Programme, 20 to 50 million tons of e-waste are generated worldwide every year, with 5.5 tons composed of computers, cell phones and televisions. (See Reference 1, Page 27) The rapid increase in e-waste makes it necessary for manufacturers and municipalities to encourage computer recycling or reuse. Authorized e-waste recyclers in the United States collect more than 100 million pounds of obsolete electronics every year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but much more is simply thrown away. Recycling such electronic waste has numerous benefits -- and not recycling computers poses serious threats to the environment.
Rubber can be produced both naturally, through the latex found in certain plants, and synthetically, through a process that uses unsaturated hydrocarbons. Due to the extreme prevalence of rubber products in the U.S., in which at least 279 million tires are discarded per year, rubber recycling has become more common — this keeps vast amounts of rubber out of landfills, as there is market demand for nearly 80 percent of scrap tires, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (See Reference 1)
A strong demand exists for recycled tires. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the markets for discarded tires have grown nearly five-fold since 1990. In 2003, over 80 percent of scrapped tires were recovered and repurposed. While much of this scrap is converted to fuel, other uses exist, including household or habitat restoration projects for drainage. The durability of the material makes them a good option for this use. (See Reference 1)
With their spunky personalities and inquisitive nature, ferrets — relatives of minks, weasels, polecats and sea otters (see References 3) — are a lovable addition to any pet enthusiast’s menagerie. Easy to care for and incredibly amusing to observe, the lanky creatures also happen to appreciate recycled newspaper bedding. Unlike other nonsustainable bedding options such as wood chips and clay (see References 1), shredded newsprint is dust-free (ensuring better air quality for furry family members), eco-friendly (since it can be recycled multiple times) and readily available, especially when you make it yourself.
Cotton isn't the only material that garments are made of. Some of the more environmentally conscious designers are experimenting with recycled materials like rubber tires. However, a nouveau designer may forget to offer care instructions for the garments. The easiest way to wash clothes made of rubber tires is to clean them like you would the tires themselves — using chemicals that won't degrade the rubber.
The plastic known as vinyl, polyvinyl chloride or PVC is the least postconsumer recycled plastic, per usage amount, in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency calculates that 910,000 tons of PVC waste are generated annually but less than a quarter of 1 percent is recovered for recycling (see Reference 1, page 2). PVC is chemically manipulated during production to achieve uses from household fabrics to construction piping. The additives used in these manipulations and PVC's inherent chlorine content complicate recycling processes for this plastic (see Reference 2).
While many people think of pinatas as a tradition coming from Mexico, the pinata actually comes from China, where people used to fill clay pots with nuts and seeds to celebrate the New Year. Marco Polo brought the tradition to Italy; it later made its way to Spain and Mexico. Usually, pinatas are made by wrapping balloons in strips of paper dipped in papier-mache paste. You can make a more earth-friendly, recyclable version for your next celebration by using empty cereal boxes and recyclable paper.
Sturdy and long-lasting, denim is a comfortable and widely used fabric. It's best known as the material used in blue jeans and their kin, as well as workers' coveralls, shirts and other garments. The average closet contains a number of denim garments, so for ecologically sensitive consumers, it's important to know how it can be recycled.
A drastic upsurge in “fast fashion” — the phenomenon of increasingly inexpensive and quickly made clothing available through budget retailers — has increased clothing's pollution footprint and contributed to textiles going into the solid waste stream. (Reference 1). Our own closets and used clothing stores can provide inexpensive dress shirts just waiting to be recycled into new creations.
An old men's button-up shirt may seem like an uninspired material, but you can transform it into a halter-top dress with a loose skirt and a fitted waist. This dress will accommodate average-sized figures especially well; additional waist and bust modifications for those with very petite or fuller figures will be necessary. To reduce the labor necessary to execute this project should seek out a men's dress shirt that fits you fairly well to begin with.
For those who live, breathe and sleep DIY, there’s something oddly thrilling about seeing the potential in an old object. Somehow, the glossy perfection of big-box, cookie-cutter pieces pales in comparison to a vintage, handcrafted bookshelf or a quirky coffee table with shapely legs. It’s rather inspiring to realize that there are repurposing crusaders intent on rescuing furniture that languish unceremoniously upon community curbs. With creative vision, patience and DIY flair, a repurposed ottoman that embodies the spirit of landfill liberation can be yours.
Some claim that they’re too busy to recycle, while others feel that the energy necessary to collect and then process old materials into new ones makes it cost prohibitive. For an effort that takes seconds to carry out, many remain torn on whether depositing cans, glass containers, plastic bottles and newspapers into collection bins is valuable. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, however, reports recycling can temper the effects of global climate change (see References 2), the atmospheric phenomenon that directly impacts all types of life on our planet when not kept in check (see References 3).
Roughly 28 percent of the 243 million tons of municipal solid waste generated in the U.S. in 2009 was paper-based (see References 2). Newspapers are typically accepted by recycling facilities, but if your curbside program doesn't accept paper, or if you'd rather upcycle than recycle, use can turn some of those stockpiled Sunday papers into useful, decorative baskets with just a few strategic folds.
When you recycle, recycling facilities are able to reuse resources, reducing the amount of raw materials needed in manufacturing. Getting started with recycling isn't difficult, and you can do it at home, at work or on the go.
Designing a homemade handbag with recycled fabric enables the eco-crafter to tote a classic, rugged style that can successfully weather the rigors of daily use. In addition to being financially sensible, making the most of textiles that once collected dust keeps them out of the consumer waste stream, lightening your carbon footprint. The process of crafting a recycled denim or clothing handbag can also be creatively fulfilling, as you choose and combine design details that reflect your personal fashion style.
Construction and demolition projects can create large quantities of waste building materials, which often end up in the landfill. Much of this material can be repurposed or recycled for projects around the home and garden. Recycled concrete is one such material. It is often available free where demolition or renovation projects are underway, and some builders will deliver a quantity to your door for a modest price. (See Reference 1, Page 7) This durable, inexpensive material can be reused in a number of ways.
We may spend a third of our lives sleeping, but for many, the bedroom also serves as a protective, comforting haven away from the many sources of stress that we’re exposed to during the work week. From the shade of paint on our wall to the textiles adorning our bed, windows and floor, strategic decorating choices can help evoke a sense of calm. Using recycled materials to revamp the bedroom can further facilitate peace of mind while also yielding a highly individualized yet thoroughly welcoming space that positively impacts our personal and financial well-being.
No one thinks about recycling the huge projection television in the family room until a new plasma, liquid crystal display (LCD) or light-emitting diode (LED) model is purchased. Projection televisions made up to the early 2000s were large and bulky. The TVs also had components that contained chemicals that were hazardous to the environment if released. The component of primary concern is the mercury lamp inside the television that is vital for viewing. If projection TVs are left to be scrapped in the landfill, the lamps could burst, spilling mercury into the soil and air. To prevent such an outcome, the projection TVs must be recycled.
The leather jacket in the back of your closet is a bulky item that should not go directly into the trash. The item would join billions of textiles congesting American landfills. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in 2010, more than 13.1 million tons of textiles were generated, but only 14 percent of clothing and shoes were recycled. (References 1) In textiles, recycling is performed by placing the clothing for reuse or by stripping the components and using them for other things. Your leather jacket can become a part of the recovered textiles, thereby helping relieve the stress on American landfills. In fact, the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association offers a few ways your leather jacket can be recycled for further use, once it is proper placed in the right hands. (References 2)
Recycling offers numerous human health and environmental benefits. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains the rate for recovery of municipal solid waste increased from 5.6 percent in 1960 to nearly 25 percent with an additional 8.5 percent from composting in 2007. This has led to a decrease in landfill content and the amount of waste generated per capita, to the benefit of humans, animals and the environment as a whole (See References 1).
A comforter made of cotton or cotton blends, and stuffed with cotton batting, polyester or down feathers, eventually wears out. It may be at the end of use (worn out and damaged), or it may have outlived its use to you. Throwing the comforter away is not ideal. The heavy bundle of fabric and filling would only contribute to the millions of pounds of trash that Americans produce each year. Textiles can be successfully recycled: According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2 million tons or 15 percent of the waste textiles were recycled in 2010 (see Reference 1). You can contribute by recycling your old comforter.
If it’s new, it must be better – at least that’s what the fashion industry hopes you’ll continue thinking. Here’s a little secret: the best way to achieve cutting-edge style lies in your own hands. You possess the power to handcraft eye-catching duds and accessories reflective of your personality just by rummaging around in the closets and long-forgotten boxes cluttering your home. Even recycling bins hold a plethora of materials ready for reuse.
In the recent past, making the environmentally responsible decision to buy recyclable shoes usually meant sacrificing style — but not anymore. Thanks to the ingenuity and dedication of new, greener designers all over the world, nearly every imaginable type of shoe is available in recyclable material.
Abandoned chemical drums pose a safety and environmental hazard. If you've inherited used chemical drums on a new business property or on a brownfield you're rehabilitating for a new purpose, like a pocket park, you undoubtedly want to remove them as soon as possible. Recycling the drums will ensure they don't needlessly take up space in a landfill. Furthermore, recycling these drums with the appropriate facility keeps any hazardous waste inside the drums from contaminating the environment. Used drums may contain chemicals, oil or other potentially harmful substances, making correct disposal imperative.
Recycling old clothes is important because the textile industry produces a great deal of waste. In 2010, more than 13 million tons of textiles were produced, and in the same year, only 15 percent of discarded textiles went to recycling facilities, according to the U.S. EPA. Repurposing old sweaters is one solution. Old sweaters make wonderfully soft woolies, or thermals, with a whimsical patchwork design. You might want to show them off after you're finished, instead of just wearing them beneath other pants on cold days. Wear your new woolies as leggings to show off your creative flair.
Paper materials such as file folders are among the easiest to recycle at end of life. Data from a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report published in November 2011 reveals that 45 million tons of paper and paperboard were recycled in 2010 (See References 1). That amounted to an impressive recycling rate of more than 62 percent that year (See References 4, page 5), yet there is obviously room for improvement. By making an organized effort to collect all worn-out file folders for recycling, you can keep a greater amount of waste materials out of landfill and reduce the need to produce new paper products from virgin wood fibers.
Whether you host the occasional sorority gathering or just drink up your own six-pack of soda pop, you'll find that empty aluminum beverage cans take up a lot of space. Crunching the air out them by hand -- or foot -- helps a little, but they can still fill your recycling bin to the point of overflow. There are commercially made can smashers you can buy, but anyone with a workbench, some basic materials and a few elementary skills can produce their own. Your homemade can smasher will shrink aluminum cans down to size and produce a satisfying crunchy noise every time you use it.
Your beat-up college bookshelf doesn't fit well with the new furnishings, but you are uncertain what to do with it. A creative, green-thumb type might find a way to repurpose it as a raised bed garden container. Or maybe it could be set out by the curb with a "free to a good home" sign, where some tidy person might snag it for a second life as a workshop storage unit. However, if you have young children at home, perhaps the solution is to upcycle it into a simple bookshelf dollhouse.
A biodegradable product must completely break down into elements found in nature at the end of its life cycle, according to the EPA (see References 1). A recycled product has been created from previously used materials, which may consist of either post-consumer waste or manufacturing waste. Neither biodegradable or recycled products are essentially better. The most eco-friendly choice depends on a range of considerations involving production and end of life cycle processes.
You know it's the right thing to do, but when it's time to separate your cans from your newspapers and your bottles, recycling can seem like just another chore. If that's the case, it may be because you're not likely to see what that refuse becomes in it's next incarnation. Re-purposing old baseball caps, however, lets you become creative, making objects to share with your family and friends.
Your home and workplace may provide a variety of worn out items that can be re-purposed into decorative elements for your living room or bedroom rather than simply being dumped into a landfill. With your imagination you can creatively find ways of converting your old rec room furniture or some used shipping skids into an attractive recycled handmade headboard.
A poncho is a traditional folk garment that slips over the head and drapes the entire body from the shoulders to mid-thigh, usually without sleeves. This type of apparel dates back to pre-Columbian America, and it has remained popular in Latin America for centuries. In the U.S. and Europe, ponchos have been embraced by the fashion industry for their comfort and dramatic flair. With a little creative surgery, a do-it-yourselfer who is competent at sewing can readily recycle an adult's hoodie into a child's poncho.