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Reduce Your Pet’s Carbon Pawprint!

Remember to Scoop that Poop!

The truth is, owning a medium size dog can potentially be just as bad as owning a gas guzzling car. Unscooped poop gets carried by overland water contaminating our waterways. The U.S Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that pet waste can spread parasites including hookworms, ringworms, tapeworms, and Salmonella. When infected dog poop comes into contact with your lawn, the poop will eventually “disappear”, but the parasite eggs can linger for years!

Cats aren’t off the hook either! Two million tons of cat litter gets sent to landfills each year, and most of it is not biodegradable.

It’s important to consider your pet’s carbon pawprint!

Here are a couple of tips on lowering your pet’s environmental impact:

  • Using biodegradable doggie bags to scoop your pet’s poop.

  • Green your kitty by using biodegradable litter made from sawmill scrap, waste from wheat or corn, or even recycled tires.

Do you know of other ways to reduce your pet’s pawprint? Feel free to share them in the comments section!

Christmas Tree Recycling!

Your Gift to the Earth!

With the holiday season now over, the year’s largest waste period is in full swing. The largest item of waste being the Christmas Tree!

Did you know approximately 33 million live Christmas trees are sold in North America every year? So, what can we do to help?

Well, from December 26, 2013 through January 9, 2014 the City of Torrance will recycle Christmas trees as part of their curbside collection for those unable to use the green waste container.

To recycle unflocked Christmas trees curbside, remove all tinsel, ornaments and stands. Trees can be up to six (6) feet long without needing to be cut. Then, place the tree at the curb at least four feet from your automated containers by 7:00 a.m. on your regularly scheduled collection day between December 26, 2013, and January 9, 2014. A separate truck will collect the trees to use as mulch and landfill cover.

Another alternative for next holiday season is investing in an artificial tree that you can use for years and years. Not only will you save the environment a bit of grief, but you will also save money. Not to mention not having to think about throwing a whole tree away every January.

For more information, call City of Torrance Public Works Department 310-781-6900 or click here to go to the City of Torrance Christmas Tree Recycling webpage.

Plastic-Free Living

An Eco Friendly You!! Going plastic-free can be great for your personal health and your personal space.

There are many reasons to reduce the amount of plastic we buy. First, plastic is made from nonrenewable resources extracted in ways that pollute our air and water.

Second, plastic is made from chemicals, and some have been found to be toxic to both the environment and to human health, like hormone-disrupting bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates. BPA is an industrial chemical that has been present in many hard plastic bottles and metal-based food and beverage cans since the 1960s.

On the basis of recent studies, both the National Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration have some concern about the “potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children.”

A phthalate is a plasticizer that is added to plastics to increase their flexibility. Phthalates are found in everything from toys and food packaging to nail polish and wall coverings, and, according to the Environmental Working Group, they have been found to disrupt the endocrine system.

Lastly, single-use disposable plastics live forever in landfills and very few types of plastic are widely recycled.

With that in mind, here are some practical ways to reduce your plastic use:

  • Bring your own bag. When making your shopping list, always add a reminder to bring your own bags with you to the store. Even before heading to the mall, remember to bring a bag so you don’t have to use any of the plastic store bags. I found this great tip from Rodale.com: “If you forget your reusable bags, carry your items out by hand. After doing that a few times, you’ll probably NEVER forget your bags again.”

Of the 380 billion disposable plastic bags used each year in the U.S., only 1% are recycled.

Reuse!!

Reuses for Rubber Bands

Stop carelessly tossing rubber bands and start reusing them with the help of these inspirational ideas.

We each accumulate a fair number of rubber bands. They are wrapped around our mail, the broccoli we buy in stores or at farmers markets, the newspapers delivered to our homes and many other everyday items. Rubber bands are not compostable or recyclable, but don’t throw them away because they can be reused.

One of the most innovative ways to reuse rubber bands is rubber band lamps (see above). Made by Bath, England-based Orchard Studio, these lamps are created from reclaimed rubber bands and are cool and colorful.

Another designer, Christiane Diehl of Hanover, Germany, reuses rubber bands to make rubber band jewelry (right).

Here are some ideas you can use at home for reusing your rubber bands:

  • The United States Postal Service (USPS) reuses rubber bands. You can leave them out for your mail carrier or take them with you the next time your visit your local post office. You can even bundle them and drop them into any blue USPS-designated mailbox.
  • Wrap a rubber band or two around the lid of a jar to make a stubborn lid easier to open.
  • Keep a desk drawer more organized by using rubber bands to wrap around pencils, pens, markers and crayons.
  • Keep your sewing basket better organized by wrapping rubber bands around your spools of thread to keep them from unraveling and tangling up.
  • When mixing up cake, pancake or muffin batter, wrap a rubber band around the top of the handle of your spoon to stop if from slipping into the mixing bowl.
  • Secure rubber bands around the shoulder areas of a hanger to help keep clothing from sliding off the hanger.
  • This rubber band maternity trick helped me through two pregnancies. Continue using your jeans throughout your pregnancy by threading a rubber band through your jeans buttonhole and then around the button.

Do you know of other rubber band reuse ideas? Feel free to share them in the comments section!

Roofing Waste

The Staggering Impact of Roofing Waste (and a Recycling Solution)

Eleven million tons of asphalt shingle waste is generated annually in the U.S. What can you do to make a change?

When was the last time you thought about roofing waste? Yeah, we thought so.

Most of us think about asphalt roof shingles only when we need to repair or replace a roof. Recycling shingles probably doesn’t make your top 10 list of everyday recycling ideas to help protect the planet.

But, roofing waste is a big deal. Consider this: 11 million tons of asphalt shingle waste is generated in the U.S. each year. That is more than the combined weight of every Ford vehicle sold in the U.S. in 2011. If you think about how many houses and commercial buildings we have in this country — how many rooftops we have — you will begin to appreciate how much roofing waste we generate.

Recycling shingles can have a huge impact on reducing that waste. Consider the following facts about shingle waste:

  • More than 12.5 billion square feet of shingles are manufactured each year in the U.S.
  • That’s more than 448 square miles of roof shingles — enough to cover Washington, D.C., with shingles four-and-a-half times.
  • 11 million tons of asphalt shingle waste is generated in the U.S. each year.
  • Recycling 11 million tons of asphalt roofing shingles is the equivalent of saving 11 million barrels of oil.
  • The U.S. manufactures enough asphalt shingles each year to cover the entire Facebook campus 11,000 times.
  • Asphalt roof shingles don’t have to fill up landfills. They can be recycled!

Reduce, reuse and recycle shingles

Roofing contractors can reduce shingle waste by measuring accurately and only purchasing what is needed, which also keeps roofing costs down. When hiring a roofing contractor, ask each contractor you interview for an estimate of shingle use. A contractor who purchases an appropriate amount of shingles will contain costs and reduce waste.

Also, ask your roofing contractors if they plan to recycle old shingles after they have been removed from your roof. In many states, recycled shingles can be used in asphalt for paving roads. Choose a contractor who recycles shingle waste, rather than sending it to a landfill.

Finally, ask your contractor what will be done with surplus shingles. Extra shingles can be donated to Habitat for Humanity and other charitable organizations. Ask your local Habitat chapter if it can recommend a roofing contractor who supports this mission.

Recycling shingles when you replace or repair your roof can go a long way toward reducing the millions of tons of shingles sent to landfills each year. That’s a goal homeowners and contractors alike should work toward.