One day to educate. One day to motivate. One day to make recycling bigger and better 365 days a year.
Since 1997, people across the country have come together on November 15 to celebrate America Recycles Day. This is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to the promotion of recycling — a day to educate and motivate our neighbors, friends and community leaders about what can be achieved when we all work together.
GREEN TIP: Become familar with your local recycling policies and prepare your recycling accordingly.
As a recent transplant to the Fargo Moorhead area, I was surprised to discovered that nobody in our area recycles paperboard/boxboard (cereal boxes) so I decided I needed to take a look at what we can recycle.
City of Fargo offers free curbside recycling for residents along with 27 drop-off locations throughout Fargo for the collection of recyclables. Twelve of the sites have containers for all recyclables, including yard waste. accept aluminum cans and tin/metal cans. They cannot accept scrap metal, nails, tin foil, aerosol cans (if empty, throw out) or paint cans.
Cans, glass and plastic
They accept clear, brown and green glass bottles and jars. Blue glass containers can be placed with green glass. Labels do not need to be removed, however, please remove caps. We cannot accept ceramics, window glass, Pyrex, or standard light bulbs (fluorescent bulbs should be brought to the Household Hazardous Waste facility.)
They accept plastic bottles with a neck that have the #1 or #2 recycling symbol. Please empty, rinse and remove caps and rings before recycling. We cannot accept plastic containers #3 or higher, plastic bags, motor oil containers or vegetable oil bottles.
They accept corrugated cardboard boxes (with the wavy edge) and brown paper bags. Examples include mailing/shipping boxes, clean pizza box tops and some beverage boxes (most are not corrugated so check to be sure!).
They cannot accept used pizza boxes, wax-coated cardboard, soda cases, or boxboard (non-corrugated boxes such as cereal, shoe, and cigarette-type boxes).
Magazines and newspapers
They accept magazines and small catalogs with glossy pages.
They cannot accept catalogs with glued bindings, such as those from department stores or phone books (these are recycled in a special, short-term collection held each year).
They accept newspapers and shoppers (i.e. the Midweek) including their glossy inserts.
Aveda has a bottle cap recycling program. Bring your hard plastic caps to Aveda and they will use it to make new ones.
We talked about plastic bags last week, Green Tip – Bring Your Own Bag. If you happen to find yourself with one, you can recycle it at most area grocery stores. Hornbacher’s, for example, has a plastic bag recycling bin as you enter the grocery store.
Getting back to those cereal boxes. I was initially frustrated that our area doesn’t recycle them but now I’m looking at it as an opportunity to reduce more waste. I’m going to buy bulk ingredients (in my own containers) and make my own granola.
Reducing our waste before it becomes recycling or landfill, is a goal we all work towards. What are some ways you reduce your waste?
My Green Side’s weekly web pick:
Valley Earth Week
Valley Earth Week is a committee made up of area citizens, members of non-profit organizations, businesses and agencies, the cities, community utilities and transit systems that aims to provide a gateway for companies and organizations to teach the Red River Valley about ways to live, work and play green.
2010 Green Expo
Downtown Fargo Civic Center
Saturday, March 20, 2010 9:00 – 5:00 pm
Sunday, March 21, 2010 11:00 – 4:00 pm
The Valley Earth Week Green Expo is a great opportunity to learn about resources, services, and products that promote healthier, more ecologically sound lifestyles as well as educate attendees about the environmental impacts of consumer actions and choices currently in widespread use.
Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at WDAY.com.
We spent an afternoon making crayon hearts for Little Greek goddess’s classmates for Valentine’s Day. A friend of mine suggested the craft because she knows how I love to reuse and my aversion to sugar. We were so pleased at how they turned out… they’re adorable!
Here’s all the information in case we’ve inspired you to make this cute and practical Valentine’s craft:
Crayon pieces (Tip: dip crayon pieces in warm water to make removing the paper a lot easier)
Heart-shaped metal cookie or muffin tin
Double-sided foam mounting tape
Colored card stock (try to find card stock with recycled content)
Heat the oven to 250°.
Fill each mold with crayon pieces and bake until the crayons melt, about 10 to 15 minutes (Tip: Place a sheet pan under the crayons to catch any drips).
Once they’re cool, remove the hearts from the molds and smooth any rough edges by rubbing them on a piece of scrap paper.
Use small pieces of foam tape to stick each heart to circle, heart or square piece of card stock, then add your message.
You color my world
Valentine, you make my heart melt
Have a happy Valentine’s Day, for “crayon” out loud!
How do you make your day-to-day life a little greener?
Basically, I try to make more sustainable choices. Being green isn’t about buying green, but more about making do with what you got. That doesn’t mean that I don’t use the power of my purse to make green choices when I shop. When shopping, I prefer to buy from companies that support sustainable principles in all aspects, not just one product line. At home, we do all the basics- turn off lights and electronics, recycle, etc. My one big thing is trying to avoid disposable plastic. We use re-usable bags for shopping, including our produce bags. I buy in bulk when I can. The kids have re-usable stainless steel containers. It doesn’t always work – my husband bought a container of plastic wrap from Costco eight years ago that we are still using because I loathe it and hardly ever use it.
Thank you for the recommendation! I’ve gotten a fabulous response. One reader even tweeted that she tested her home for radon after reading my book, and found elevated levels. She is getting it fixed. That’s what motivates me, helping people out. But the impetus for the book was two miscarriages before the birth of my son. Those unexplained miscarriages prompted me to consider whether anything in my environment was causing or contributing to the miscarriages. Then, after having my son, I attended a weekly new mom/breastfeeding support class. Given my background and my interests, I was routinely asked questions about how much fish was safe, or how to read information from a termite company. The facilitator asked me to teach a class on going green and non-toxic for new moms, and from that, the book just flowed. I really wanted to provide a resource with easy-to-understand information for parents and caregivers.
I recently heard you on Martha Stewart radio giving some great green cleaning advice. What is one of your favorite green cleaning tips?
I have a couple. To clean your garbage disposal (or snow cone machine), make vinegar ice cubes. Just put 1 cup distilled white vinegar in an ice cube tray, fill the balance with water, and freeze. Once frozen, drop a couple down the disposal (or put in the snow cone machine), run it and voila! The vinegar helps disinfect and the ice helps remove any food stuck on the blades.
To clean your microwave, just use lemon slices. Place some in a microwave safe cup or bowl with 6 ounces or so of water. Heat on high for 3 minutes, let sit for 3 minutes (without opening the door), and then open and wipe clean. Crusted food should lift easily and your microwave will smell lemon fresh without hormone disrupting phthalates.
Finally, my favorite is Dr. Bronner’s rose liquid castile soap and baking soda. I use this combination as a soft scrub for sinks and counter tops, and also to clean my toilet. Just mix them until you get a consistency you like. I prefer to place them in a old squeeze bottle and stir with a chop stick. If you are cleaning your toilet, just squirt under the rim and let sit. After 5 minutes or so, follow up with some vinegar and left foam. Then flush.
You recently blogged about a new regulation that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued exempting various materials from the lead content limits for children’s products in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). As an expert, what kind of clothing would you tell parents to look for to ensure that their child is not getting exposed to lead?
The CPSIA has banned lead in children’s products above 300 parts per million (ppm) and in paints and coatings above 90 ppm. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that you don’t still find children’s products with lead. Most fabrics do not have lead in them and that is why the CPSC issue the exemption for certain materials, including textiles. After testing thousands of fabrics, the only fabrics I have found with let are some synthetic felts, certain leathers and some screen prints. However, you can find lead in some buttons, rhinestones and crystals, zippers, eyelets, etc. Most of those aren’t going to result in an exposure to a child, however. Lead is also sometimes used to stabilize polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic. PVC plastic must be stabilized and it is usually a metallic salt, often lead. PVC is also bad for the environment and can contain hormone disrupting phthalates. So, I always recommend that people skip PVC, which includes many fake leather items.
Christopher Gabriel is a multimedia artist who wears the hats of radio talk show host, writer, humorist, voiceover artist and classically trained actor. Christopher is also the host of the cleverly named Christopher Gabriel Program on AM 970 WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota. You can hear him weekdays from 11am to 2pm.
Note: Christopher is also married to me. Our 16th wedding anniversary is July 16th so it seemed fitting to run this interview today.
How do you make your day-to-day life a little greener?
It all comes down to the little things. For example, at work I try to be conscious of how much paper I’m using. Specifically, doing two-sided copying and making sure to throw away all used paper in my recycle box under my desk. We use a lot of paper for show prep and it’s all too easy to just toss it in the garbage when a particular story is finished. Well, it’s just as easy to carry it back down the hall and toss it in the aforementioned recycle box. Even things like water – using my Sigg bottle rather than buying up every plastic bottle of water in sight.
Your website, CGabriel.com, is powered by Taproot a green web host. How important is renewable energy to you?
It’s very important. Again, it’s the little things…but all these little things add up to big changes both in the way we live and the quality of life we improve around us. Renewable energy is an investment in our future that will pay off down the road in ways Bernie Madoff couldn’t understand. That is to say, everyone makes out in the short run and everyone makes out over the long haul. No one gets duped and no one ends up bemoaning anything. A company like Taproot – they do things the right way for the area they’re based (Portland, OR) in. By investing, as it were, with them, I’m helping sustain them. They, in turn, are allowed to maintain as a company and subsequently increase their own clean and green footprint thereby lessening another company’s carbon footprint.
You’ve had some amazing guests on The Christopher Gabriel Program from Bob Costas to James Denton and all points in between. One of my favorite environmentalists, Adam Shake, was on earlier this week. What are you hoping your listening audience takes away from a segment like that?
Knowledge, and a more willing attitude to see things from a different point of view. A willingness to consider…merely consider…the possibility that trying to do even just a little bit will go a long way toward making this a healthier planet. One that is better for us in the present, and one that is better for our children in the future. If we don’t strive to find common ground – “we” meaning both skeptics and believers in things like climate change – we’re no better off than a couple of feuding families that carry on being disagreeable with one another out of misguided principle.
As you aspire to live a more sustainable lifestyle, what has been one of your biggest challenges?
Following the 37 pages of green rules and regulations you’ve left more me in every imaginable location of our home. Ok, I’m exaggerating. It’s 32 pages. The biggest challenge for me trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle is weening myself off of plastic. I grew up with plastic…it’s long been my friend, my pal, my comfort. Late night snack? Grab a plastic plate so I don’t have to wash a dish. How about a beverage to go with the snack? That lovely plastic cup is smiling at me saying “Come on baby…I’m cool…nothing wrong with using me to hold a little refreshing iced tea…and you know what…you can just toss me out, I’m good with that…” One man’s plastic is another man’s cocaine. It may seem silly, but getting over my addiction to plastic has to be tantamount to quitting smoking.
Rachelle Strauss is a writer living in the UK with her husband, daughter and assorted four legged friends. Rachelle writes about environmental issues for a number of national and international magazines and is the author of two books.
During 2008, Rachelle and her family created My Zero Waste, which chronicles their journey towards reducing their landfill waste. They invite readers to join them as they endeavor to show how to reduce waste by making better consumer choices, choosing products with recyclable packaging, creative reuse of items and composting.
The environment needs to be saved, and together we can do it. ~Rachelle Strauss
How do you make your day-to-day life a little greener?
I think the most important thing we do is to separate our needs from our wants where possible. BEFORE purchasing anything, we look at its end life and what will happen to it. We also ‘make do and mend’; salvaging things from unwanted materials for future reuse and ask ourselves if we really need something or whether we are being swayed by society / advertising. Subsequently we create less than 100gms per week of landfill waste.
In addition, we try and be respectful to the earth and to one another. We try not to be greedy or take more than we need. I’m not saying we achieve it, but having an awareness of this helps us to make better choices. I remember one of my own favourite mantras which is ‘co-operation is better than competition’ whenever I go about my day.
Then there are basic ‘green’ things we do like making our own toiletries and home cleaning products; or using eco friendly ones, eating local and organic food where possible, buying clothes from charity shops, switching things off standby and my husband is currently making LED light bulbs to run off a solar panel, which is really exciting!
You comment on your site that for years you, like many other households, have been throwing away one or two bins worth every week of rubbish, but in recent years you’ve become more aware of the impact this is having on our environment, wildlife and our health. What facilitated this awareness?
There are four main things that pulled together to facilitate this awareness.
First, giving birth to a child changed my perspective on life. No longer was it just about me; it became about the health, safety and future of my daughter and her children.
Second, we were involved in the flash flooding at Boscastle. Seeing people’s livelihoods washed out to see was devastating and had a profound impact on me. I realised the fragility of the things we deem as ‘important’ in our lives – namely, the acquisition of ‘stuff’ – and how it can be taken away in an instant. It puts into perspective the things that really matter. No one lost their life and that was the most crucial thing.
This event also bought it home to me that climate change might just be real and we have to do something about it.
Third, I was inspired by other people doing great things to reduce their waste such as Mrs Average over at the Rubbish Diet.
Finally, we read a piece about the effects of plastic on marine life. From that moment my husband declared ‘no more carrier bags’ and we were off on our zero waste journey!
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve encountered in your journey towards zero waste?
Maintaining a positive state of mind. It’s very hard when you feel you are swimming upstream. It’s very challenging when you are doing your bit and you look at the amount of stuff manufacturers are throwing into landfill. It’s difficult when checkout staff start packing your things into carrier bags without even thinking about what they are doing.
However, we have some wonderful support through our site and we believe that everyone doing their small bit adds up to significant change. We also believe that positive change is gathering momentum and more and more people are becoming aware of the impact they have on the environment.
95% of the time this holds true for me and I’m an optimist. But the other 5% when I’m having a bad day; is pretty tough going!
What has been the most gratifying part of your journey towards zero waste?
I think it has been the amazing amount of support and encouragement from our readers. These people, who were once strangers and have rapidly become friends, know how to reach out and make such a difference to me.
The beautiful thing is, I don’t expect one of them realises how much they have an impact on the things I do in my day to day life. I feel very blessed.
Also, knowing that our daughter is growing up with such an awareness is very humbling. This week she went out to pick litter from our road. In shops she’ll pick up things with more packaging than product to show me. She is making conscious choices, even as a young child and I’m so proud of her.
For more information about My Zero Waste visit their website. It is full of great information, here is an example: Reuse plastic bottles for slug collars (video)
Vipe Desai is a member of the Surfrider Foundation’s national board of directors and the director of marketing for Monster Energy. Vipe has also been a lifelong supporter of environmental and humanitarian organizations. He volunteers his time and experience to the Surfrider Foundation, SIMA Humanitarian Fund and the Life Rolls On Foundation, to name a few.
How do you make your day-to-day life a little greener?I really believe that it’s the miniscule things many overlook that make the big difference. I won’t claim to be the biggest eco-warrior on the planet, but I try to do my part.
When I’m leaving the beach, I usually pick up stray trash in my path and put it in garbage cans… better there than in the ocean. If I ever buy a drink in a plastic or metal container, I try to hold onto the empty until I’m around a recycling bin. When I’m at a fast food restaurant, I ask that they don’t put my order in a bag if I can carry it out on my own. Likewise, I make it a habit of only taking one or two napkins.
At home, I make it a habit to check that anything that can be unplugged when I leave, is unplugged. So many devices use power when not in use.
project BLUE is such a simple yet completely revolutionary initiative. How did the idea evolve?When I saw what was going on with (PRODUCT) RED, I thought it was a great idea and wondered how it could translate to the Surfrider Foundation, where I’m on the board of directors. The people at Surfrider do incredible work, not just for surfers, but for anyone that enjoys the beach and clean water. Similar to many non-profits, Surfrider could do so much more if they had additional funding. project BLUE gives people an easy way to help Surfrider any time they’re looking to upgrade their worn out gear.
The brands involved in project BLUE are a who’s who of surf. How did you convince Billabong, DAKINE, Electric Visual, Famous Wax, Nixon, O’Neill and Reef to partner together for this project?It was actually easier than you’d think! Many of these brands had eco-minded products in their lines already. They all realized that by coming together under the project BLUE initiative, they’d be a more powerful force to help build awareness of what each brand had going on.
The surf industry is pretty unique. While all of these brands compete on some level, we’re all friends in the water. Without clean oceans and beaches, there can be no surf industry.
Since part of the proceeds of project BLUE go to the non-profit Surfrider Foundation and the goal of project BLUE is to give surfers and beach lovers an easy way to plug into Surfrider’s mission to protect to the world’s oceans, waves and beaches. Can you elaborate on how Surfrider accomplishes their mission?Surfrider has more than 50,000 members in 80 chapters across the world. It’s a grassroots organization and each chapter executes a variety of activities, from beach cleanups and community outreach campaigns to water testing and campaigns that draw national attention.
Some campaigns, such as “Save Trestles” here in California or the “Protect Pupukea-Paumalu” in Hawaii, receive national attention, but there’s always something going on.
“Respect the Beach” is an award-winning educational program that includes field trips, classroom and hands-on lectures designed to explain shoreline ecology and conservation issues to students in kindergarten through high school. The program is taught by Surfrider members, who represent environmentalism from the surfer’s perspective and are easy role models for the students to relate to.
GREEN TIP: Make your purchasing decisions based on informed choices. Purchase products, whenever possible, that are local and in-season, organic, made from sustainable materials, are fairly traded and have minimal packaging.
I recently read a wonderful article by Laura Weldon at NaturalNews.com entitled Your Beliefs Create the Marketplace. In the article she describes a growing trend of ethical consumers who make well-informed choices when “putting their money where their values are.”
If you answer yes to any of the following, the “chances are good that you are one of those consumers. Do you prefer to dine on organic foods? Do you choose sweatshop-free clothing? Do you search out sustainable building supplies? Those choices are probably based on your awareness of today’s health, environmental and justice issues. You care enough to make purchases consistent with your values.
“This growing awareness has sparked a powerful consumer market. Approximately 25 percent of adult Americans are considered to be part of this group. Their purchasing decisions are orienting businesses toward more positive social, environmental and humane practices.”
Ms. Weldon goes on to list the verifiable impact consumer choices are having:
• According to the EPA, if every home in America replaced just one standard light bulb with an Energy Star compact florescent light bulb, this alone would save enough energy to light three million homes for a year ($600 million annual energy costs) and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 800,000 cars from the road.
• International products certified as Fair Trade (guaranteeing a non-exploitative relationship between buyer and seller) support the rights of workers in small-scale enterprises.Transfair USA reports that villages benefiting from such income are opening craft cooperatives and health centers. In one area alone, 1,600 acres where poppies and coca once grew for illicit drug trade are now devoted to growing organic coffee.
• Research published by the National Resources Defense Council indicates that 423,900 trees could be saved if every household in the U.S. replaced just one 500-sheet roll of toilet paper with one made of all recycled fibers.
• Purchasing local, in-season produce conserves petroleum. The Organic Consumers Association reports that processed foods travel an average of 3,600 miles in the journey from farm to table. A meal made of locally produced ingredients uses four to 17 times less petroleum than one from typical supermarket products due to transportation requirements.
• Check the Eat Well Guide to find organic and sustainable food in your area.
In an economy where we are trying to have our dollars stretch as far as possible, let’s make sure our purchases reflect our values. Let’s send a message to big business. Just because we don’t have a lot of disposable income we still demand high quality, healthy, sustainable products.
As Ms. Weldon aptly writes, “Each conscious choice, each locally grown meal put on the table and every handcrafted chair purchased, makes a world of difference.”
When you are out and about this Memorial Day weekend being bombarded with amazing deals for products you may or may not “need,” remember to think before you buy.
Adam Shake is an environmental writer and global warming activist.
How do you make your day-to-day life a little greener?
I love this question. It’s kind of like “How do you breath?” After a while, doing things like recycling your toilet paper rolls and keeping your heat set at 59 degrees 20 hours a day while sleeping or at work in the winter, becomes second nature. Food doesn’t go to waste and anything that can be recycled is. As a result, we end up with less than one bag of “landfill” trash each week. I also take the Metro train to work, to lower my carbon footprint.
Why is being green important to you?
According to some people, environmentalism has become tantamount to a “pseudo religion.” But I don’t worship the planet anymore than I worship a loved family member. Every action that we take has an effect on the environment, and that effect has an effect on us. By protecting the environment or “being green” we are ensuring our own protection. Why is being green important to me? Because I want my Grandchildren to inherit a healthy planet, so that they can be healthy in return.
What is one green tip you would like to share with us?
There are thousands of “Top 10 ways to go green” list’s out there, so the one thing that I’d like to share is that before we can change the way we live, we have to change the way we see. I would suggest living the way you’ve always lived for 1 week, but during that week, ask yourself “How is what I’m doing right now, impacting the environment?” After one week, you’ll find that you are already making better choices, and you’ll know what other choices are right for you and your family.
Where is your favorite spot on earth?
This is the toughest question of them all. I’ve seen the aurora borealis in Northern Michigan, the deep carpet of the Milky Way from the center of a desert and a meteor shower from the Colorado Rockies. Sometimes when I’m eating lunch on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, I think that the winter sun slanting between it columns is the most beautiful thing in the world. I guess my favorite spot on earth is wherever I happen to be at the moment.
Adam Shake with Twilight Earth describes precycling as “the act of ‘not purchasing’ something that would otherwise be recycled or thrown into a landfill.” It’s a fancy, more compelling word for reducing your consumption. Remember our mantra: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Now let’s kick it up a notch: Reduce/Precycle, Reuse, Recycle. Very catchy.
For many people this decision has been taken out of their hands. Due to the current economic situation most people do not have a lot of disposable income to spend frivolously. But we do have a choice: We can continue to complain about the world’s economic bleakness and blame anyone who seems culpable, or we can embrace this great opportunity we now have to stop and think about how we spend our money. Some ideas for precycling:
Buy used stuff
Sports equipment, workout equipment, consignment/thrift store clothes, used cars. There are local shops all of the country that resell anything and everything. Also, take a look at FreeCycle.com.
Buy local and organic
This has become a priority in our home, not only for the sustainability but for the health benefits. The more I research conventionally processed foods, I find they’re becoming more and more devoid of nutrition. But not only are our nutritional needs being shortchanged, we’re getting a lot of things that are making us unhealthy. From the irradiation of produce and meat, pesticides, herbicides, GMO’s, mercury and who knows what else is allowed to be put in our food in the name of keeping us “safe,” our food supply is slowly killing us.
Meanwhile, it takes connections to the CIA to find and purchase healthy raw milk products in my state. Thankfully, I can always rely on the Eat Well Guide and Sustainable Table to help me find good food.
I’m not telling you to stop buying stuff. I am imploring you to stop and think about the stuff you’re buying. Do you need that 10-pack of paper towels or could you use and reuse a nice set of dish towels? Do you need a case of bottled water or could you use a filter for your tap water? Do you need a brand new Lexus or could you outfit my home with solar panels? OK, maybe that last one is a stretch…