Recycling: A Look At New York City

March 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco Green Living HQ

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.

Recycling Items Like Computers & TVs

March 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco Green Living HQ

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.

Outdoor Play Time & Recycling

March 10, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco Green Living HQ

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?

Recycling: Visit A Landfill

March 9, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco Green Living HQ

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 – 5 Great Tips

March 8, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco Green Living HQ

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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Arts and Crafts And Recycling

March 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco Green Living HQ

There are so many ways to integrate recycling with arts and crafts and still have hours of entertainment and maybe make a few holiday gifts.

One of my favorite crafts is to decopauge. The materials needed to do this are simply old magazines, a pair of scissors, some white glue and something to decorate. I’ve seen people use this art medium on every kind of article from wooden boxes up to queen bed head boards.

Once you have the item (or items) you want to decorate you can put them aside and start flipping through the magazines for pictures and words that jump up at you or help convey something you want to say. The great thing about this craft is that there is no “wrong” way to do it. Some people will use an entire advertisement including the background in the ad and others may cut out the person or object from the background. The idea is to have a piece of a page to be layered upon the object to be decorated.

After you have enough pictures and words cut out you can start to decorate your object. The ideas and creativity, from this point on, are endless! Use all cut outs of flowers and birds to decorate your project, cut out every picture of a dog and see how many you can find and use all of them to decorate your recycled project!

Arrange your clippings onto the surface of whatever it is you’re going to reuse or decorate and put a layer of glue over the entire project. Using white glue or Mod Podge will give you a clear coating over your art and when that layer is dry, coat it again, and so on. The coatings of glue will protect your artwork and if you use a gloss-finish, it will have a nice shine to it, too.

I started making “Blessings Boxes” for the Christmas gifts I would give to my children’s teachers. I would reuse an old shoe box, and cover the entire outside of it with cut out pictures from magazines. The main objective was to cover up the shoe brand on the outside of the box with the pictures and words.

The idea behind the “Blessings Boxes” was that throughout the year, when there was a blessing in their life, maybe a ticket stub to a baseball game or a movie shared with a friend, birthday cards, get well cards, etc. they were to place these blessings into the box. The best part is that, during that year, when they had a day where they would feel blue or needed a smile, they knew they could always open their “Blessings Box” to be reminded of the beautiful things that have happened in their life.

These gifts were the talk of the elementary school the first year I made them and I will say that at the very beginning of every year after, my children’s teachers would let me know how beautiful they thought my creations were and (wink, wink) they wouldn’t mind getting one for themselves!

The best part is that I never spent extra money making one of those gifts! It was a success all due to being recycled materials.

Solar Power– A Must for Homes

March 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco Green Living HQ

‘Going green’ is the trend these days since the world is facing a lot of environmental problems specifically global warming. Electricity comes from fossil fuels which are being burned. The emissions contribute a lot to global warming and one way to address this issue is by using solar power for homes. Even the federal and state governments are now encouraging many homeowners to utilize solar power by offering grants and loans. Solar power is a must for homes and it is not just for the rich people.

Are you familiar with DIY solar power kits? The DIY kits are widely available in online stores and perhaps in local stores. All you need to do is shop around and find a suitable system that can work for your home.

Why is the solar power system a must for homes?

As mentioned earlier, the government is also supporting green energy through grants and loans. Aside from that, there are also incentives. For instance, if you spend around $20,000 on system installation, the state government will give you a 30% credit. This means that your next tax bill will decrease by 30% of $20,000 which is $6,000. The credit can also be extended to the following year as long as the amount is covered fully.

Once you install the system, it requires minimum maintenance. Make sure that you also clean and clear it properly. You can consult a professional who knows a great deal about solar power systems and have yours checked annually. Most homeowners do little work on their systems and this is a great advantage.

Sunlight is available for all and since fossil fuels are depleting, it is an excellent option. If you install a system for your home, you will simply need to invest once and after that, you can now benefit as long as the system is working properly. Your electricity bills will surely be reduced and so you will have smaller bills every month. You can use the solar power system for your outdoor lights, garden lights and features, and even for indoor use as long as the inverter is big enough.

Solar panels are one of the most popular solar power systems used today. If blackouts are quite common in your area, it would really help a lot if you install solar power. That way, even if other homes don’t have electricity, your home can still have electricity. Solar panels are reliable as well as the other systems available today. Most manufacturers also provide warranty and so you can expect the solar panels to be durable. You won’t hear any noise since the panels are working quietly while producing the needed energy.

Electrocution cases are rare since the photovoltaic cells have low amperage and are very safe. Power is produced without emissions or fuel combustions.

Most of all, with solar power systems, you can help in saving the environment. You can help in decreasing pollution and the degradation of the environment. The power systems can last for decades with proper maintenance and care. If you’re interested to go green, don’t hesitate to install a solar power system for your home. This is the best time to make a choice – a choice that can have a significant impact to the world. After installation of the system, you can now enjoy a continuous supply of green electricity.

How to Install a Solar Power System for Homes

March 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco Green Living HQ

Ever since man existed, sunlight was and will always be available. For several years now, a lot of people are complaining about the ever increasing electricity bills. Because of this, solar power systems became great alternatives through the years. Sunlight is readily available especially in countries where they get a lot of sunshine. With the yearly improvements in modern technology, solar power for homes is now more advanced.

With just a little amount of sunlight, you can already get more electricity. With only a few solar panels, you can generate the needed electricity for your home. Even if you live in a small house, you can install a solar panel.

Most of today’s homes are not properly oriented to get a lot of sunlight and this becomes a great problem. New solar power systems are more efficient and can generate quality electricity with less sunlight. The modern solar panels are installed at steeper angles but can still tolerate sunlight. So, if you’re home doesn’t have an ideal orientation, it would still be possible to generate solar power.

Solar panels are usually installed on top of the roof together with an effective rail system. The panels are able to slide at the best position to get sunlight. The system is also ideal just in case you want to expand later on.

Before you install solar panels, you need to determine the electricity requirements of your home. To calculate your monthly electrical consumption, you will need to go over your electrical bills and determine the average usage. After that, you can now pick the right system size. If this is your first time to use solar power, it would better to start with the simplest project you can find. Make room for expansion as well so that you can expand the system little by little especially if you have limited resources. Even if you use solar power as an alternative, you will surely be able to cut your bills by 80% in the coming months.

For instance, for simple projects, you can start working on outdoor lights, garden fountains, etc. Later on, you can use solar power for your indoor electrical requirements.

When installing a solar power system, one of the most important considerations is the inverter. Make sure that the inverter’s size is properly chosen; you see, this will be responsible for converting DC into AC. Pick the appropriate size inverter so that you can meet all your electrical needs.

It’s a good idea to purchase a bigger inverter even if you’re only planning to install a smaller system. That way, when you finally decide to expand in the future, you will just wire them in.

If you’re not an electrician and you have limited knowledge about electricity and electrical components, try to hire someone to connect the inverter. The solar power system needs to be connected into your home’s electrical system. Dangerous voltages are present and you might het electrocuted. Only an electrician can comply with the local codes so that your project can pass the inspection. The state and federal government also provides incentives for homeowners who decide to go for solar power. You can avail of loans or grants so that you can install the solar power system soon. Take advantage of these special programs so that you can start benefiting from an efficient and clean electrical system.

Keeping The Environment Safe From Harmful Chemicals

March 4, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco Green Living HQ

Think about recycling and maybe the first thing to pop into your head isn’t damage that’s done to the earth when we use products with harmful chemicals, but that’s part of the cycle, too. As well as reducing waste, recycling products and reusing what can be reused, protecting the earth from harm is all a part of the same cause.

It’s not something we set out to do, at the beginning of the day; the thought isn’t, “Hmmm, how can I hurt the Earth today?” It probably sounds something much more like, “Gee, I need to clean today, let me reach under the cubboard and see what I have,” not realizing that whatever is done with the products I use to clean, once I’ve cleaned, can be harmful to not only the earth itself, but any living things that may come in contact with the wash off. We live in a sterilized world, where the idea of a clean home, clean work place and clean where ever we take our children is the first order of business. But we need to stop and think about what harm we may be doing in our quest for the cleanest living area.

Is it worth a colony of ants to clean your kitchen floor with a harmful chemical, and that when you dump out the bucket that contains those chemicals, onto the ant hill, you risk wiping out the entire population? Maybe you don’t like ants, and that wasn’t the best example, but you know what I mean. We have a responsibility to the other creatures that share this Earth with us to not purposely do it, and them, harm. We need to be mindful of what our actions are producing and how our actions affect all other living things.

There are so many options for safe-cleaning on the market today that you don’t really have to look much further than your local grocery shelf. Pay attention to the words that describe the items you are buying. Do they contain the words, toxic, poisonous, or dangerous? If they do, then keep reading the next product’s ingredients, there is a better choice out there.

Many chemicals are unable to breakdown after they have been used and may make their ways into the streams and have a disasterous affect on any forms of life that inhabit the stream. It will only take a little effort on the part of consumers to prevent something like this from happening, but we must start somewhere.

We need to be careful with the chemicals we have easy access to and become more responsible for what happens as the result of our choices. It really isn’t all that hard to make an informed choice and help the Earth; we certainly don’t want to hurt it but being irresponsible with basic cleaning products can do just that; we can end up causing great harm to the planet on which we live. Remember, it doesn’t take much more than a little awareness to be an advocate for the health of the place we call home.

Be Smart. Shop Smart. Clean Smart.

Recycling: How You Can Make An Impact

March 3, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco Green Living HQ

Have you been bombarded with advertisements and news stories about the desperate shape our planet is in and thought to yourself, “I’m only one person, I can’t even put a dent in what needs to be done to make things better?” With all of the media coverage on issues like, acid rain, loss of rain forests, endangered animals, the depleting ozone layer and even former Vice President Al Gore’s pet project, global warming, it’s an easy thing to feel over-whelmed and small on this great space. But the reality is this; if not you, then who?

As an individual you can’t control factories pouring toxins into water ways or prevent oil leaks that endanger some species, but you can make an impact, none the less. How? First, by not adding to the madness and wasteful ways others are handling items and materials that can be recycled and secondly, and maybe more importantly, you can make an impact by being a leader in the crusade to save the planet by doing the right things.

It’s a well-known fact that when we are parents we are the top role-models for our children and that they will imitate what they see us do. Even if you are not a parent, you can still lead the way for others by taking on the awesome responsibility of being the leader. Imagine the people you come in contact with in your neighborhood who see that you don’t just talk about recycling but every week your trash collection is separated and ready for the recycle truck. What if the people you work with come to notice that instead of having your coffee every morning in a throw-away cup from the local coffee chain, you are drinking from a mug you brought from home that you rinse out and reuse? Can you just imagine the impact you would have for someone who is maybe not quite recycling like they should but decides that, after seeing that you take this responsibility seriously, decides to change the way they do things and follow suit?

Most people don’t recognize the impact they have everyday on people in their lives that they may or may not have a connection with. As a leader you “walk the talk” by abiding by the causes that mean the most to you and not just by saying the words. We are all aware of people around us and never know what we may do that will make a difference for another person. Don’t misuse this opportunity to make an impact for recycling.

When you recycle yourself, believe that there are people who are watching and making decisions everyday, by watching how you handle yourself. Big issues are often started with a few concerned, aware people, well before the word gets out to big corporations and law makers that there is a change that needs to be made.

Make every step you take count for something. Do your part in the efforts to keep our planet healthy; reduce, reuse, recycle.

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