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An interesting look at the amount of trash produced, the percentage of waste recycled, and the impact of recycling in America since the 1960′s. Thank you FastHaul for sharing this with us.

Wasted in America Infographic about consumer waste and recycling
Courtesy of: Fast Haul

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GREEN TIP: Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year. This extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra ton of garbage per week. Give the planet a gift, take control of your waste this year.

The Use Less Stuff Report offers a checklist of simple things you can do to reduce waste while you eat, drink, and make merry this holiday season. Here are a few:

  • Turn down the heat before your holiday guests arrive. You’ll save energy while the extra body heat of your guests will warm up the room.
  • After your holiday parties, don’t throw away the leftovers. Put them in containers and send them home with guests.

At least 28 billion pounds of edible food are wasted each year – or over 100 pounds per person. Putting one less cookie on Santa’s plate will reduce his snacking by about 2 million pounds.

  • During the nation’s busiest shopping season, bring your own shopping bags.
  • Consolidate your purchases into one bag rather than getting a new bag at each store on your shopping rounds.

If each household canceled 10 mail-order catalogues it would reduce trash by 3.5 pounds per year. If everybody did this, the stack of canceled catalogues would be 2,000 miles high.

  • Plan your shopping in advance. Consolidating your shopping trips saves fuel.
  • Rather than piling up “stuff” under the tree, think about what friends and family really want or need. Give gift certificates to a favorite store or restaurant or make a charitable donation in his/her name.
  • Give gifts that encourage others to use less stuff, like a book about making crafts from reusable items, a cookbook for leftovers, a reusable tote bag and so on.
  • For kids, start a savings account or give stocks or bonds. It’s fun to watch money grow and it teaches children the value of financial conservation.
  • Donate unwanted gifts, along with last year’s gifts that the kids have outgrown, to charity.
  • When buying electronic toys and other portable items that are used regularly, remember to buy rechargeable batteries to go with them.
  • Make new tree ornaments out of things you already have around the house, or from materials you might find in the backyard: twigs, bark, flowers and herbs, pine cones and so on.
  • Old clothes and jewelry make a great dress-up box for kids.
  • Tools and gadgets make a great idea box for a young inventor.
  • Give the gift of an experience: tickets to concerts, tickets to a museum, tickets to a sporting event, gift certificates or even gifts of your own time.
  • Tie a bow around oversized gifts like bicycles or CD racks, instead of wrapping them in paper.
  • Wrap gifts in old maps, newspapers, Sunday comics or fancy holiday gift bags. Kids’ art work is a perfect wrapping for presents to proud grandparents.
  • Use brown paper grocery bags to wrap small-to-medium size boxes that have to be mailed.

If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.

  • Compost your food waste. Fruits and vegetables and their peels, pits and seeds are all perfect for composting – a great natural fertilizer.

Source: Use Less Stuff

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

The Story of Stuff Project

The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute cartoon about trash – looking specifically at the way we make, use and throw away Stuff. Today, with over 15 million views and counting, The Story of Stuff is one of the most watched environmental-themed online movies of all time.

Annie Leonard, the creative force behind The Story of Stuff, founded the non-profit Story of Stuff Project in 2008 to respond to tens of thousands of viewer requests for more information and ways to get involved. They create short, easily shareable online movies that explore some of the key features of our relationship with Stuff—including how we can make things better; they provide high quality educational resources and programs to everyone from teachers and people of faith to business and community leaders; and they support the learning and action of the over 350,000 members of the Story of Stuff community.

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GREEN TIP: Pack a zero waste lunch. You’ll save money and help the 

environment. The best way to reduce garbage is not to create it in the first place.

We’ve talked before about using reusable products, Green Tip – Think Reusable NOT Disposable, let’s take it a step further and make our packed lunches both nutritious and environmentally friendly.

A zero waste lunch means that you have no packaging to throw away when you’re done – nothing other than apple cores, banana and orange peels, peach or cherry pits. The best way to reduce garbage is to not create it.

Source: Environmental Forum of Marin

Tips for a zero waste lunch:

  • Use a REUSABLE carrier (cloth bag, lunchbox). DON’T use  throw-away bags.
  • Use REUSABLE containers (preferably ceramic or glass). DON’T use plastic wrap, foil or styrofoam.
  • Use a stainless steel bottle for drinks. DON’T use single-use cartons or cans.
  • Use a CLOTH NAPKIN to wash and re-use. DON’T use paper napkins.
  • Use SILVERWARE to wash and re-use. DON’T use plastic forks and spoons.
  • Only pack the amount of food you’ll eat.

Source: Global Stewards

Lunch Waste Facts

  • FOOD WASTE: A 2004 University of Arizona study reported that Americans throw away almost 50 percent of all the food we produce for domestic sale and consumption. In round numbers that’s $43 billion annually on wasted food.
  • FOOD WASTE: Researchers at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) concluded in a 2009 study that each year a quarter of U.S. water consumption and over 300 million barrels of oil (four percent of U.S. oil consumption) go into producing and distributing food that ultimately ends up in landfills.
  • ALUMINUM FOIL: More than 20 million Hershey’s kisses are wrapped with 133 square miles of foil every day.
  • ALUMINUM AND TIN CANS: In the time it takes you to read this sentence, more than 50,000 12-oz. aluminum cans were made.
  • FOOD WASTE: Food debris in a landfill decomposes only 25% in the first 15 years (try composting!).
  • JUICE BOXES: Most inorganic trash retains its weight, volume, and form for at least four decades.
  • PAPER BAGS AND NAPKINS: It is estimated that 17 trees are cut down for every ton of non-recycled paper.
  • PLASTIC BOTTLES, FORKS, WRAP: U.S. citizens discard 2-1/2 million plastic bottles EVERY HOUR.
  • STYROFOAM: U.S. citizens throw away 25 billion styrofoam cups EVERY YEAR.

Source: Scientific America and Global Stewards

We must shift our way of thinking, from what is the most “convenient” way to do something to how can we do something more sustainably. If we don’t, we are leaving a mess for our children and their children to clean up. Let’s leave our world better than we found it!

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

My Zero Waste
My Zero Waste is dedicated to making the world a cleaner place. The overall purpose of the site is to help households reduce the amount of rubbish sent to the landfill. We show on a daily basis HOW we are reducing our own landfill waste by highlighting the pitfalls and sharing their mistakes and successes.

Read wonderful articles like How To Reduce Food Waste and find out about the third annual National Zero Waste Week, September 6th – 12th 2010.

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.

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