Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Is the Release of Balloons Considered Littering?

Birthday parties, sporting events, and weddings have one major thing in common. They are all excellent venues to let off an enormous amount of helium-filled balloons.

While beautiful and sometimes impressive, it is also illegal in many states and constitutes littering. Many cities and states have laws banning the release of helium-filled balloons including, “California, Connecticut, Florida, Tennessee and Virginia. Cities that have laws include Ocean City, Maryland; Louisville, Kentucky; Huntsville, Alabama; San Francisco, California; Nantucket, Massachusetts, and Baltimore, Maryland.”

Monday, December 21, 2015

Are Wrapping Paper, Ribbons, and Bows Recyclable?

This time of year brings about a lot of gift-giving and even more questions about whether certain things are recyclable.

Gifts are generally given in one of, or a combination of, the following: gift bags, various types of gift wrap, ribbon, and bows. Technically few of which are recyclable.

Wrapping paper, made primarily of, well…paper, seems to beg to be put into your recycling bin after use just by virtue of the fact that paper is one of the most commonly recycled commodity. 

The reality, however, is that “including it in the bin with other paper products can make an entire load unrecyclable.”

Many of today’s commonly used wrapping paper is made with foil or thin layers of plastic coating the paper and some tissue paper contains acid, making it a less desirable item to recycle. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Lithium Battery Disposal

“Lithium batteries are disposable batteries that have lithium metal or lithium compounds as an anode.” An anode is the positively charged electrode. Lithium-ion batteries are their rechargeable counterparts.

Non-rechargeable lithium batteries had been in the works since the early 1900s but made their way into markets being commercially available in the early 1970s.

Friday, November 20, 2015

How Safe Are Recycling Centers?

Recycling as many used products, packaging, unwanted junk mail, and office paper as we can is a sensible and responsible thing we can do for our environment. The future of our natural resources relies on our ability to conserve as much as we can for as long as we can.

As much as it is obviously a good thing, recycling can be dangerous for those who are employed at recycling centers.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Can I Put Batteries Into My Regular Trash?

Batteries have become an American staple for such things like appliances, toys, electronics, and so many other things we have grown fond of in our lives. “Fond of” is almost an understatement when it comes to some of the things that take batteries that we have almost become dependent on.

So many of the household batteries that we use are able to be thrown into the trash and, ultimately, the landfill.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

How Long Does It Take Trash To Decompose?

Every product, package, and food item has a life cycle. Some are recyclable, but unfortunately, some are not and end up thrown away. Even when an item is discarded, this does not mark the end of its product life. 

Whether it ends up in a landfill or illegally dumped, it takes many years for it to decompose.

Friday, October 16, 2015

How Does Earth Day Benefit Us?

Every April 22nd since 1970, millions of people across the globe celebrate the Earth Day, an event to increase public awareness of the world’s environmental problems. 

Millions of Americans, including students from thousands of colleges and universities, participated in rallies, marches, and educational programs.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

What is Gasification?

“Gasification is a technology that has been widely used in commercial applications for more than 50 years. It’s a method to extract energy from materials by converting carbonaceous materials into synthesis gas (syngas). This syngas is itself a fuel or it can be used as a renewable-energy resource.”

“Gasifiers operate at 3,000-4,000°F, using a thermo-chemical conversion process that does not include enough oxygen for the materials to burn. Instead the materials are broken down at the molecular level and then reformed into reusable products.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Why Can’t I Put Shingles Into My Regular Trash?

Roofing materials are measured in squares, which is essentially 100 square feet of roof regardless of whether the 100 square feet is a 10’ X 10’, a 2’ X 50’, or a 4’ X 25’. The specific shape does not matter as much as pure measurements in order to correctly gauge how many bundles of shingles to buy.

Until the late 1970s, shingles were sold by weight. They are now marketed and sold by “year”, meaning how many year warranties they come with such as 20-year, 25-year, and 30-year.

Why Do I Have To Bag My Lawn Clippings?

The whirring of lawn mowers is an all-to-familiar sound in neighborhoods across the globe. It’s a welcomed sound to those who don’t favor the winter months and a not-so-welcomed sound for some who are actually doing the mowing. Regardless of which category you fall into, all share the dilemma of decomposing grass clippings.

Mulching mowers leave the chopped up grass on the lawn to decompose and, therefore, feed the lawn. Some choose to bag clippings so as to not leave excessive amounts of them on the lawn to turn into brown little rows of dead grass that sometimes sit on top of the lawn.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Are Blister Packs Recyclable?

“Blister pack is a term for several types of pre-formed plastic packaging used for small consumer goods, foods, and for pharmaceuticals.” Everything from toys to electronics have been known to come in blister packs.

According to answers.com, credit for the invention is given to Enock Ancker of Fort Bayard, New Mexico who invented the blister pack for pills on Feb 18, 1947.

Why Can’t I Put Dirt Into My Trash Cart or Dumpster?

Many household projects like cleaning up a garden and other yard work involve getting rid of a fair amount of dirt. But how should it be disposed of?

Most of us underestimate just how heavy dirt actually is. Depending on the amount of moisture in it, dirt can weigh anywhere from 76 to 110 pounds per cubic foot. Considering there are roughly 15 cubic feet of space in an average 96-gallon trash cart, filled with dirt, it could weigh at least 1140 pounds if the dirt is extremely dry. Any moisture at all and it could weigh over 1,600 pounds!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Conserving Water and Energy With High-Efficiency Washing Machines

Being environmentally conscious comes in many forms from all angles. From reducing how much we use to reusing what we can and recycling what’s left. Conservation and preservation go hand-in-hand with these efforts.

Newer High-Efficiency (HE) washing machines conserve both water and energy, making them incredibly popular among environmentalists.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Do You Have Recycling Bias?

The term “Recycling Bias” refers to the propensity of people to throw larger or full sheets of paper into the recycling bin while bits and scraps of paper went into the trash.

The same was found to be true of crushed cans or plastic bottles. Empty but intact cans or bottles went into the recycling bin while their crushed or dented counterparts were destined for the landfill. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Dealing With Yard Waste

Any homeowner can tell you that the upkeep and maintenance on a home never seems to be finished. Painting this, fixing that, and keeping up with the lawn and yard work.

The grass and weeds alone are enough to keep anyone busy each week with mowing and weed eating, but as the trees and bushes grow so quickly, they need seasonal attention, too.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Do Prescription Drugs Get Into Drinking Water?

Pure clean drinking water seems like it would be fairly easy to find in the United States. As plentiful as water is, and usually free of charge at that, sometimes it’s anything but pure and clean.

According to several studies, American drinking water can contain trace amounts of pharmaceutical drugs, including 

antibiotics, hormones, mood stabilizers, and other drugs.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Can Chemicals and Solvents Be Dumped Down the Drain?

Wastewater treatment is a process to convert wastewater, which is water no longer needed or suitable for use in its most current state, into clean water for such things as drinking, cooking, and washing.

When this type of water is disposed of down a drain or flushed down a toilet, it either goes into a septic system or into a municipal sewer system where they pass through a wastewater treatment facility.

If you have a septic system, wastewater from your house goes into a tank buried underground. The solids settle out and partially decompose. The remaining wastewater then goes into a drain field where the natural processes ongoing in the soil help to further break down the wastewater. Toxic materials in that wastewater can kill the helpful bacteria and the system will not operate properly.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Why Do Landfills Attract Seagulls?

If you were asked to sit in a lawn chair, close your eyes and simply listen to the beautiful call of the
seagulls around you, you would swear you were sitting by the ocean, or at the very least, Lake Michigan. Upon opening your eyes, you realize your surroundings are different. Much different.

In reality, there are at least twenty-eight different known species of gulls that are commonly referred to as seagulls. Some find them to be soothing and remind them of being at the beach. Others think of gulls as scavengers that are found in noisy flocks that congregate wherever food is available and consider them to be a nuisance.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Insects and Microorganisms in Landfills

The smell of trash left in a garbage can for a few days is an incredibly attractive smell....to a fly.
Why? They feed on decomposing trash and lay eggs so that they may feed on it, as well, during their developmental stages.

Landfills, then, are veritable havens for insects and microorganisms to feed and thrive. But do they help or hurt the ecosystem of a landfill? "The waste decomposition role of small soil insects is of high importance in the breakdown of solid organic materials. They consume large quantities of materials to compensate for poor food quality and produce relatively large amounts of wastes."

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Discarding Textiles in the Landfill

Textiles, defined as a type of cloth or woven fabric, have been around for several generations. "Anthropologists believe that animal skins and vegetation were adapted into coverings as protection from cold, heat and rain, especially as humans migrated to new climates."

The earliest evidence of weaving comes from impressions of textiles and basketry and nets on little pieces of hard clay, dating from 27,000 years ago and found in Dolni Vestonice in the Czech Republic.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Recycling Colored Paper

Colored paper, along with any other type of paper, is recyclable.  The different types of paper,
however, require different recycling processes as they are used to make new paper products.

"Paper recycling is a large scale, multi-step process with the objective to recover the paper fibers, and often other paper components such as mineral fillers, and use them as a raw material to produce new paper.

Monday, May 25, 2015

How Do I Dispose of Used Razors?

Over the past several decades, disposable versions of products have popped up everywhere. Americans are big on convenience and what better way to appeal to consumers but to offer easy, cheap, and abundant versions of their favorite products?   

A win-win? Not really. Convenience at cheap prices comes with a pretty high price tag.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Anaerobic Digestion

Anaerobic digestion is a biological process that produces a gas principally composed of methane and carbon dioxide, otherwise known as biogas. 

These gases are produced from organic wastes such as livestock manure, food processing waste, etc.

The process of anaerobic digestion consists of three steps: 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Illegal Dumping at Recycling Centers

When used for their intended purpose, recycling drop-off centers can be a very useful and valuable aid in getting rid of excess recycling. This is especially true if you do not subscribe to a residential curbside recycling program or have larger quantities that may not fit into your residential recycling bins.

This is the obvious intended purpose of the drop-off centers but misuse of these collection centers or blatant abuse or disregard of the intended purpose can mean some pretty stiff penalties. Environmental pollution, fines, and even having the recycling drop-off center removed from the premises completely can occur if these collection sites are not properly used and maintained.

Which Cities Have the Highest Recycling Rates...and Why?

Since the emergence of recycling, there have been several advancements, innovations, and
improvements in the industry. There have also been court rulings, city ordinances, and even state laws making recycling mandatory.

This may account for high rates of recycling in some areas. It does not, however, explain why the 5 cities with the highest recycling rates are on the West coast. The top five cities are as follows:

Monday, April 27, 2015

What Role Does the Weather Play In the Decomposition Process?

Decomposition of organic material is basically the breakdown of the material as it rots and decays. There are two basic types of decomposition: aerobic and anaerobic.

Aerobic decomposition utilizes oxygen in the breakdown of organic material such as in the process of composting. Anaerobic digestion, also called fermentation, is the breakdown of organic matter completely absent of the presence of oxygen, as in the creation of biogas and biofuel.

Weather plays a huge part in the decomposition process. Arid conditions drastically affect the rate at which organic material breaks down.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Will My Trash Driver Go Through My Trash?

When we discard unwanted items in the trash, we expect that they will end up in the landfill to rot

According to freegan.info, "Dumpster diving is legal in the United States except where prohibited by local regulation. According to a 1988 Supreme Court Ruling (California vs. Greenwood), when a person throws something out, that item is now the public domain.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

What Is Solid Waste Management District?

Solid Waste Management Districts (SWMD) have a whole range of responsibilities and are a wealth of knowledge for county residents. 

Programs offered by a SWMD can range from Earth Day events, Electronic Waste drop-off days, shredding events, and even holding things like "Trash to Treasure" contests and events for "America Recycles Day".

Monday, March 23, 2015

How Do I Store and Dispose of Used Paint?

Nothing transforms an item, a room, or a whole house like a fresh coat of paint. It's fairly
easy, somewhat inexpensive, and generally doesn't require too much clean-up. Unless you are an expert in gauging exactly how much paint you will need or you are incredibly lucky, most of us always have some paint leftover. How are these half-full cans of paint disposed of properly? Well that depends on what type of paint you used.

The two types of paint available are water-based and oil-based. Water-based paint, also called latex paint, was invented in the 1940's in Canada, using the resin from a rubber tree as a binder. The binders that are currently used in latex paints are made from synthetic polyvinyl acetate resins and styrene butadiene, along with other synthetic binders. Clean-up after using latex paint is easily done with soap and water.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Don't Myth an Opportunity....Dispelling Myths Before Opportunities Pass You By

With so much information on recycling available at the touch of a button, some of it being erroneous, it’s no wonder that myths come about. Once these myths circulate for so long, they tend to become viewed as reality. Between these myths and excuses for not recycling, they drag down the number of households participating in a recycling program.

Let’s delve into the excuses first, then tackle the myths. Some people just plainly do not want to recycle. They don’t want to mess with it, don’t think it’s beneficial, or just plainly don’t care. Some myths and excuses, however, come from misinformation and lack of proper recycling education.

Keep Talkin' Trash...It Pays!

Since when has talking trash really paid off for you? Since now! With Borden Waste-Away’s new Talkin’ Trash referral program, it can pay your trash bill! Our new referral program is so easy you can’t help but get free trash service. 

Simply tell all of your family, friends, neighbors, people on the street, in the grocery line, (you get the idea) about your competitive prices and great service with Borden Waste-Away Service and encourage them to sign up. When they do, you BOTH get a month of service FREE! What could be easier?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Tired of Tiresome Tires?....Say That 3 Times Fast!

“What do I do with these old tires?” One of the most popular recycling questions ever asked. Our best advice to you is to go to your local tire dealer to dispose of them properly. Tire dealers usually take unwanted tires for around $1.50 - $2.00 per tire, then turn them over to authorized recyclers.  

“Rubber is difficult to recycle due to the procedure known as “vulcanization,” which it undergoes to attain its springy, flexible nature. Vulcanization is a curing process that involves adding sulfur to rubber, which creates stronger bonds between the rubber polymers. Due to the vulcanization method, tires are difficult to melt for reuse and are therefore typically broken down by a mechanical process.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

PETE?...Who's PETE?

Eight glasses of water a day? In today’s fast-paced society, how often are we near a glass and a kitchen faucet? The obvious answer to being able to drink this much water a day is, of course, is the ever-popular water bottle. It is estimated that, “every 27 hours Americans consume enough bottled water to circle the entire equator with plastic bottles stacked end to end. In just a single week, those bottles would stretch more than halfway to the moon — 155,400 miles.”*

If we really sat and pondered all of the products we use every day containing plastic, we would be astonished to find out that it’s a far shorter list of thing that do not contain any plastic material. Plastic, in itself, has so many benefits. Lowered production costs, lighter weight, ease of portability are just a few. But what about the drawbacks of so much plastic in our environment?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Stormwater Runoff

Storm drains are drainage systems that collect rain water and melted snow that doesn't soak into the ground. Their main function is to  keep streets and roadways from flooding.

Rain, melted snow, and any other water that is allowed to go down a storm drain flows directly into nearby streams, creeks, and lakes, eventually ending up in the ocean. 

Unlike water that goes down the drain in your house to the sewer or your city's waste water treatment plant, water that flows into storm drains is not treated or filtered for pollutants. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What Does Convenience Cost?

Disposable dishes have been around since the introduction of the Dixie cup in 1907. Dixie Cup is
more of a genericized trademark now and used as a description of any small paper cup. It was first called "Health Kup", until 1919 when it was named after a line of dolls made by Alfred Schindler's Dixie Doll Company in New York.

This new fad of disposable cups and dishes instead of a washable, reusable type spurred on a whole line of products targeted at convenience.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Industrial Waste and Pollution

Industrial waste is the waste produced by industrial activity and includes any material that is rendered
useless during any manufacturing process. Factories, mills, and mining operations contribute to industrial waste.

The world was introduced to industrial waste during the Industrial Revolution which happened between about 1760 and 1830. Some examples of industrial waste are chemical solvents, paints, sandpaper, paper products, industrial by-products, metals, and other general wastes.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Playing The Numbers Game

When we were in high school and asked the question, “When am I ever going to use this again?”, we heard that we would need that math somewhere in our lives...but who would have thought it would be for recycling? Numbers, triangles, densities...what do all of these mean? Well, it’s not really math, and not as difficult as it sounds.                     

All recyclable plastic has a triangle on it, usually on the bottom of the container, with a number in it.  This number refers to the type, or density, of the plastic used in the container.  Some of these are safer to use than others and more environmentally friendly as well.  Once we learn what each is and what it does we can not only know how to dispose of them, but also decide whether we want to choose a different container to cook in or alternate type of packaging for food.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What's Your Carbon Footprint?

The amount of carbon dioxide or other carbon compounds released into the atmosphere by the activities of an individual, company, country, etc. refers to its “Carbon Footprint.”
The carbon footprint is 54 percent of humanity's overall Ecological Footprint and its most rapidly growing component.

The ecological footprint is a measure of human demand on the Earth's ecosystems. It is a standardized measure of demand for natural capital that may be contrasted with the planet's ecological capacity to regenerate.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Natural Resource Conservation

The conservation of natural resources encourages the wise use of the Earth's resources. The term "conservation" came into use in the late 19th century and referred to the management of such valuable natural resources as timber, fish, game, topsoil, pastureland, and minerals. It also speaks to the preservation of forests, wildlife, parkland, wilderness, and watershed areas.

Local government agencies and municipalities have conservation committees, conservation commissions, and other councils in place to help with these efforts.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Paper or Plastic...Does it Matter?

“Paper or plastic?” used to be as common of a question in grocery stores as “Would you like help carrying your bags to your car?” Now, incidentally, rarely are either of these questions uttered in stores today.

Plastic grocery bags were introduced in the 1970s and gained immediate popularity. This veritable success story has a track record that any inventor would more than envy. Since its introduction four decades ago, this product has gone from “unheard of” to “unbelievably popular”. Now accounting for about four out of every five bags handed out in grocery stores, the plastic grocery bag as a product is an amazing success.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Risky Business

The handling and disposal of Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) have become quite a conundrum over the past couple decades. Items that used to be thrown into the trash, poured down the drain, or dumped in the grass have been proven to pose a health threat when disposed of improperly.

“According to federal and Indiana statutes the term "hazardous waste" means a solid waste, or combination of solid waste that, because of its quantity, concentration, or physical, chemical or infectious characteristics may:  cause or significantly contribute to an increase in mortality or an increase in serious irreversible, or incapacitating reversible, illness; or pose a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the environment when improperly treated, stored, transported, or disposed of, or otherwise managed.”

Sunday, January 25, 2015

“I’ll Have a 14” Pepperoni Pizza...And Hold The Box!”

With the development of single stream recycling, the recycling process has come a long way from its initial introduction. 

Labels can be left on tin cans and plastic bottles since the heat involved in the processing of these materials eliminates the labels altogether. Most recycling centers even allow lids to be left on plastic bottles and containers. If that’s the case, surely something as harmless as stickers on a cardboard box is ok, right? The answer to that is a surprising "No". How about a little food residue in cans, plastic or cardboard? Although recycling centers ask that plastic, glass, and metal recyclables be rinsed and clean, cardboard and paper is a different story.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Redo It To It

When the term “Recycling” is used, we generally think of plastics and aluminum being melted down and used to manufacture new items. But let’s not forget that recycling is also cycling used items through new people making that item new....to them!

If you’ve ever shopped at stores such as Goodwill or other thrift stores or at a consignment store, you have essentially been part of a recycling process for those items. “The resale industry has grown by about 7 percent in the last two years. 

There are now about 30,000 resale, consignment and thrift stores operating in the United States, according to the National Association of Resale Professionals, or NART. Resale is a multi-billion-dollar-per-year industry. Don't believe it? Well, according to NART, Goodwill Industries alone generated $2.8 billion in retail sales from its 2,324 nonprofit thrift stores in 2009.” These statistics are from a time directly following a huge economic downturn. Since then, these types of stores have only gained popularity.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Biodiesel As A Renewable Energy Source

Biodiesel is a derivative of vegetable sources such as soybean oil and is similar to diesel fuel. It can also be made from recycled cooking oil and animal fats.

All major engine manufacturers’ warranties cover the use of biodiesel fuels, most often in blends of up to 5 percent or 20 percent biodiesel.

Plants in nearly every state in the country produce biofuel. Its production has increased from approximately 25 million gallons in the early 2000s to almost 1.1 billion gallons in 2012. “This represents a small but growing component of the annual U.S. on-road diesel market of about 35 billion to 40 billion gallons.”

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Trash Carts...Weigh More Than Meets the Eye!

It is unbelievable how much trash Americans generate through the course of a week. Estimates are that “1,600 pounds is the amount of trash the average American produces annually. With the garbage produced in America alone, you could form a line of filled-up garbage trucks that would reach the moon”. 

As astonishing as this number is, it’s just the tip of the iceberg since today’s fast-paced culture perpetuates the problem with readily available, pre-packaged everything! In fact, speaking of packaging, “72 million tons of containers and packaging in 2009 ended up in the U.S. municipal solid waste stream or MSW. 

What About Apple Cores and Banana Peels?

From a very young age, we are usually taught that throwing trash on the ground or from a car window is littering…and wrong. When most of us consider trash and littering, we think of items like water bottles, soda cans, bags and wrappers from take-out, and the number one most littered item in America…..cigarette butts. But what about apple cores and banana peels?

Although it seems harmless, and maybe even beneficial, to throw these items onto the ground, it does cause issues we may have never thought of and is illegal.