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.

Hotels That Recycle

February 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco Green Living HQ

Are you planning a trip? Whether it is a trip for business or pleasure; you have options and with just a little research you can find a hotel that is environmentally friendly! There are “Green” Hotels in which the hotel does all it can in order to recycle, reuse and reduce.

Some of the ways hotels are becoming environmentally friendly are by letting guests know that they will only clean the room upon request; that cuts down on the amount of laundry that needs to be washed, electricity that needs to be used to vacuum and the man power itself, that it needs in order to accommodate for daily cleaning.

Hotels can also request that you re-use your towels rather than having them laundered every day. There are programs in some hotels that have bins for recycling glass, plastic and aluminum set up for easy recycling by the guests as well as the employees. Just by making these bins available gives no excuse for why recycling can’t be a success.

Hotels that are on the “Green” list are in the forefront of ways to recycle and they are finding that more than 70% of their customers not only abide by their energy and cost saving measures, they have helped to develop them. Many hotels and motels have put suggestion cards in the rooms for their guests to fill out and have implimented some of the ideas that came right from their consumers.

If a hotel is a popular spot for banquets and meetings, changes as simple as using pourers for sugar and pitchers for cream have been able to cut down on the waste of individually wrapped sweetners and individual cups of cream. There is also less left over to add to the unused, end-of-the-day waste. Some facilities have gone as far as to place notices on tables in meeting rooms and some restaurants to advise customers that water will be poured, upon request.

There are some ways hotels are joining in the cause for an environmentally friendly product that most hotel guests will never see. There are water-saving devices that will save the water that is flushed by about 75%, never affecting the flush in any way, but making quite a difference with the utility costs. Devices such as the toilet tank fill diverter and tiny parts that fit into the head of a shower to cut down on the water useage will not be noticed by the guests but make a big impact on the environment.

Hospitality venues that are using these kinds of measures to cut back on our waste and are environmentally contientious should be the places we choose to stay. If we, as concerned consumers, take a stand and only patronize hotels and motels and B&Bs that are taking the idea of recycling to heart and have made changes to help the Earth, the more hotels will realize that we know how to exercise our choice and will do so even when we are away from home.

Recycling: How To Prevent The Excess

February 3, 2012 by  
Filed under Eco Green Living HQ

The idea of recycling is to reuse an item rather than toss it into the trash and have it end up filling space in a landfill, right? Here’s a thought; why not have the waste in the first place? Are you with me? How can this be accomplished, you may be asking yourself, and that’s good because I have a few ideas I’d like to share.

Be aware of the items you purchase and how they are packaged. Some manufacturers use layers of wrapping that will just get tossed into the trash because there isn’t another use for it. Try not to purchase such items. Do a little looking, a little digging, a little research and find items that have less packaging and stick to only buying them. I believe the manufacturers will get the hint when consumers start paying attention to the waste one product makes and opt for its competitor.

A good way to utilize this kind of thinking is to buy in bulk. Buying in bulk cuts way down on the packaging and more often than not, it is a better buy just by the price. That’s a win-win, in my book!

If you have to buy something that has an excess of packaging, stretch your mind a little and figure out what you can use that excess for and then put it to good use.

A great way to curb the surplus in a landfill is to reuse things and an easy one to do this with is the plastic bags you get to carry your groceries home in. Rather than getting the bags home, emptying the contents and putting them away and throw the used bag into the trash, think about the different things you can use that bag for; in my house all of our home-lunches are carried to and from school in reused plastic bags. We even reuse the bags over and again, until we know that nothing will stay bagged but will fall out. Just by reusing items like this will cut down greatly on the stuff that is filling up our precious space-craved landfills.

At my grocery store the store has manufactured mesh bags with the company’s logo on it and they sell them for less than a dollar. These are excellent for reuse because they last a lot longer than the plastic bags do and if you continue to bring these bags to the store rather than the plastic or even the paper bags that is a few more less that will ever leave the store.

Recycling, at its best, is prevention of excess. Keeping that in mind and taking the steps to incorporate the changes into your life will further enhance the lack of waste and will make it much easier for landfills not to get so over-filled; because over-filled landfills are not a pretty sight and not what we want in our future or in the future of our children, down through the generations. Prevention of waste takes just a little forethought, and any of us are capable of that.

The City Cart: The New Icon of the Environmental Movement

January 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Life Less Plastic

If you’re still using the term “granny cart,” I feel like I should tell you something. You’re really not hip anymore.

I know. I apologize for insulting you, but if you were in any way fashionable, you would know that these wire-framed wonders are now being called “city carts” and are no longer just for grannies.

Indeed, trend-setting city folk all of over the U.S. are turning these city carts into everyday companions and using them to carry groceries, to haul laundry, and, of course, to transport 24-packs of PBR back to their apartments.

Since fashion dictates action (at least sometimes), I want to thank hipster city-dwellers for making the city cart fashionable and allowing it to blossom into its new role as icon of the urban environmental movement.

This may be obvious to many, but here’s why the city cart can be an important part of living sustainably:

Reason #1 – City carts make it possible to go to the grocery store on foot. This means fewer people driving and could even mean fewer cars (I say this because trips to the grocery store are one of the only things that ever make me wish I had a car).

Reason #2 – City carts can help prevent food waste. If the city cart could help inspire the reestablishment of the local market as a viable way to shop for groceries, people could go to the store more often, making them less likely to waste food.

This is what happens in Berlin. There are grocery stores everywhere in the city, so people aren’t forced to make unreliable predictions about how much produce or milk or yogurt they will need over the next week or two. Instead they can make quick stops to the market to buy only what they need for making dinner that night.

Food waste may not sound like a big deal, but according to the EPA, 31.7 million tons of food scraps were sent to landfills 2007. That’s more than 63 billion pounds of food sitting in landfills and creating methane gas as it decays–the same gas that’s helping to destroy our ozone layer and cause global warming.

Reason #3 – Less food waste means less packaging waste – 78.5 million tons of packaging were sent to landfills in 2007. Although I don’t have statistics, a fair percentage of this is likely from food packaging. If we can cut food waste, we can also cut packaging waste, including plastic waste.

So you see, city carts have the potential to help us reduce the number of cars on the road and cut the amount of food and packaging waste we send to landfills.

Or at least I think they do.

My new boyfriend, Mike, on the other hand, thinks that I’ve got a thin argument and that I am trying to make city carts cool because I just got one of my own.

He’s totally wrong—but if I ever hear someone referring to my city cart as a “granny cart,” I’m going to be really mad.

Image courtesy of nona*

Switch to our mobile site