New York City, in just its five boroughs, has a population of over 8 million and in an area smaller than most states; you can just imagine how much waste is created on a daily basis. Recycling in New York City is mandatory and has been since July 1989. Before that date, starting in 1986, recycling was voluntary and as it began to catch on, recycling-educating materials from pamphlets, decals to TV and newspaper advertisements flooded the area up until 1997, when all five boroughs and all 59 districts were recycling all of the same materials. By this time an impact was being made in recycling waste right up until the events of September 11th, 2001. After the 9/11 tragedy forced budget cuts were implemented for the Department of Sanitation.
It’s hard to believe that a city as populated as New York City has always been, that it took until 1881 before the first sanitation collection agency was formed. The agency was formed in an effort to clean up the city’s littered streets and to stop the general population from disposing of their waste directly into the Atlantic Ocean. In 1881, the Department of Street Cleaning was formed and the New York City Police Department was no longer responsible for the waste problems. It is basically the same department today with the exception of a 1933 name change into the Department of Sanitation.
Prior to the formation of the Department of Sanitation, more than three quarters of all waste from the city of New York was simply dumped into the ocean. Just a decade later, in 1895, the very first recycling plan was implemented by Commissioner George Waring in which his plan separated household waste into three categories; there was food waste, rubbish and ash.
The only category of the three that could not be re-used was ash, and it and whatever materials came from the rubbish category that could not be re-used were put into landfills. Food waste, which went through a process of being steamed, they found, could be turned into fertilizer and grease materials that were used to produce soap. The category of rubbish was collected and re-used however possible and only as a last resort, ended up in the landfills.
New York City had filled to capacity six landfills and needed to keep them closed from 1965 to 1991, which left open only one active landfill; Fresh Kills in Staten Island, which remained the only trash-accepting landfill until it closed for good in 2001.
Other than the temporary end of recycling due to World War I in 1918, New York City has kept a steady flow of recycling going for more than a hundred years and at one time ran twenty two incinerators and eighty nine landfills.
Recycling continues today in New York City as a mandatory action for all residents, schools, institutions, agencies and all commercial businesses.
With the way technology is out-doing themselves year after year with newer, better, bigger and improved products for computer users, you can just imagine the amount of waste that is generated when consumers upgrade along with the process. One household may have one or two computers to upgrade on a yearly basis but if you add to that computers and monitors from even a small business, the numbers add up very quickly.
What is the problem with throwing computers, their monitors, TVs and the like away with the rest of our trash? The main concern is that with CRTs and TVs they each contain approximately four pounds of lead per unit. Lead cannot be biologically broken down and if it were placed in a landfill there is the possibility of the landfill becoming contaminated with the toxins from lead. Lead poisoning has been associated with several health problems in children, including, learning disabilities and behavior issues and in some extreme cases, where high doses of the lead has been found, there have been reports of seizures, coma and even death. There is always the risk of lead toxins seeping into a water source if left in a landfill and any results of lead poisoning are made even more tragic because they are so easily preventable.
In addition to the lead in some household items like computer screens and TVs, the plastic parts of these items sometimes contain a component that is called, brominated flame-retardant that helps the item to be resistant to flames in case of a fire. Unfortunately, while the exact results of exposure to this additive are undocumented there is sure to be some kind of negative result that it’s just better to steer clear of.
In an effort to keep these potentially hazardous materials out of landfills there are many other options for ridding your home of older, outdated technology. The first option should be to check with your community to see if there is a program set up to receive older CRTs and TVs for recycling. For instance, in Massachusetts, where I live, many cities and towns were given grant money for the specific purpose of setting up such a program.
If your town does not have such a program the next place to look would be at a local TV repair shop or even an electronics retailer because they may be able to reuse what you want to throw out. Some areas even have electronic recycling companies that will come to your residence or business and pick up such items and from there they are responsible for the recycling of the items. Even if a piece of electronic equipment can no longer be used for refurbishing an older model they can always be dissected and the individual components can be sold for their scrap value.
No matter what the item is that you want to recycle, there is a way to do it, all you need to do is make a phone call or two and you will have done your part to follow the recycling laws.
Without a doubt the best play time is spent outside in the fresh air and in an effort to remain responsible to the environment there are a few things to keep in mind when out and about.
The best place to play is somewhere that you don’t need to fly to, take a train to, or drive to. Yeah, your own backyard is a good place but not everyone is fortunate enough to live near a national park. There are bike paths to find and trails to hike that can be found all over the place, and can be new journeys of adventure with very little effort. Check with your town or city hall, they may have little treasures all over your community that you go past everyday and are not aware that there is a walking path tucked in somewhere because you don’t take the time to walk in and explore.
Always remember when you are enjoying yourself outdoors that the other people around are trying to enjoy themselves too, so do everything possible to remember to leave the beautiful spaces as beautiful as they were when you arrived. Today, with trash cans everywhere you look, there is no excuse for leaving trash behind and that means cigarette butts, too. Take a few minutes before leaving the area you have been enjoying and be sure that all of your trash goes with you, so it won’t become a burden for the next person to deal with.
Spending a day in a park or at a beach will greatly outweigh the alternative to watching TV and running electronics in your home, depriving yourself the added benefit of fresh air and exercise. Walking the beach will never affect your electric bill and picking up after yourself will only encourage the next person to do the same. The power to make choices about what to do with our leisure time is great and being able to choose an activity that will not impact your financial responsibilities is a wonderful freedom.
If a mode of transportation is needed to arrive at the spot you’re headed to, try to use the least pollutant-adding means possible. Riding a bike is better than driving a car, so depending on the distance that is needed to travel, make the best choices that will not add to the pollutants our air is facing. If it is a possibility, use mass transportation to get to where you need to go. A bus or a train is always better than driving, but if you have to drive, be sure to pack as many people into one vehicle as is possible. You may need to drive, but driving one car is a whole lot better than driving four of them.
Making choices to help our great outdoors is not difficult, but there is some thought involved and don’t we owe it to the planet to take the time necessary to make the choices that will benefit it, in the long run?
For 43 years I’ve been someone who never really finished the thought; when I throw something away it goes…
I’ve given myself a great gift this year; call it a field trip, if you like, but I took myself to my town’s landfill and had my eyes opened for the first time. Maybe the concept of someone reaching their 40s and still not being contientious of recycling is one that sounds far-fetched, well, it’s the truth. I didn’t grow up imagining the Earth covered in over-flowing landfills, piles and piles of garbage as high as the tallest building that was not my experience. But because the idea of leaving too much waste for the Earth to handle is a bitter reality today, I’ve begun to educate myself.
I guess I’ve always thought of using credit cards as not being real money, that’s the same way I viewed trash. I know I’ve read about landfills becoming, well, full and how that will cause a problem but until I took myself out to the site itself, I still had this childish idea that once I put something into the trash can, it just went – away.
Seeing, with my own eyes, the area designated for my community’s left overs was like a big slap of reality. I was finally able to comprehend the thought; “if I’m not the only one throwing things away carelessly, and if others are doing it too, this space will not last too long.”
I was surprised at some of the items I saw at the town’s landfill, too. There were pieces of furniture that, being someone creative, I could see would make nice trash-to-treasures pieces. Maybe these refurbished items could be the one piece that brought the feel of a room together, that completed what the room is to feel like and express. Instead, someone tossed them out and they were taking up (a whole lot) of space in a limited area and would cause stress, not happiness.
I’m fortunate because my children, who are early teens, have been taught about the importance of recycling and the importance of what we need to do to keep the world from being buried in useless trash. They have been paying attention to the lessons that have come their way, where as, I had to see it for myself before I could be motivated to change the way I do things.
The good news is, it only took one quick trip to the landfill, for me to come to my senses and make changes about the way I do things and about the way I think. If we are not thinking globally when it comes to waste, and what we’re leaving behind, we’re not being smart.
Grab some kids, or some forty-somethings and take yourself on a field trip that may very well, do for you what it did for me; make the changes necessary for me to see what the reality of our situation is and change the way I do things.
Drive smart, save green. It’s a great phrase, and if more people took up the challenge, the whole country – no, the whole world – would benefit immensely. How can you make a difference to the environment with your driving? This article provides you with 7 great tips that you can put into action right away. You’ll save money and help the environment too. OK, time to drive smart, save green…
1. It has to be said: the very best thing you can do to help the environment with your car is stop driving it! However, you may not have that option, so drive slower instead. Most cars perform best at speeds of between 50 mph to 60 mph. Not too slow and not too fast is how to drive smart, save green.
2. A staggering 20% of your car’s fuel consumption is used up just overcoming tire roll resistance! How can you drive smart, save green in these circumstances? Buy quality tires that get great reviews. They may cost a little more, but they will perform better. And remember too that under inflated tires will cost you more in gas bills!
3. Lighten the load in your car. I’ll bet there are things in your car’s trunk that don’t need to be there. Go through each item you regularly carry. If you don’t really need it, dump it. You can drive smart, save green with a lighter load. That will let your car be more fuel efficient.
4. Switch off your engine while you wait if you are likely to be waiting more than one minute. Restarting your engine burns roughly about the same amount as one minute of idle time, so if you think you will be idling for more than a minute, cut the engine. You’ll save gas and money – drive smart, save green.
5. Drive smoothly. This one shouldn’t need to be mentioned. It should be the unspoken part of drive smart, drive green. Erratic driving with sudden accelerating and hard braking uses up extra gas. It puts extra wear and tear on your car, which means extra costs to you and the environment.
Learning to drive smart, save green is largely common sense. If you really need your car, then learn to drive it responsibly and sensibly. However, if you can walk easily to where you need to go, then do so! Only drive smart, save green when you can’t walk.
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