Sep 13

Cutting Back on Plastic

Posted on September 13, 2018 at 3:12 PM by Regina Connelly

Cutting back on plastic

Reducing Plastic at Home, Work and On the Go

Ontario County recyclers kept 927 tons of plastic from entering landfills in 2017, but we can’t stop there!

It can be sorta overwhelming to think about tackling our community’s reliance on plastic, but there are lots of little things we can all do on our own that will add up to a big impact. Everyone knows that replacing disposable water bottles with a reusable one is a great way to cut back on plastic waste but this great National Geographic article got us thinking about creative ways to cut down at home, at work and on the go.

At home…

  • Be thoughtful of packaging and materials when buying household items:
    • Swap your standard plastic toothbrush with bamboo or electric brushes with disposable heads to cut back on plastic going into the bin.
    • Ditch the plastic floss pick for a biodegradable one or go back to traditional floss in ecofriendly containers.
    • Instead of disposable razors why not try one where you just swap out the blades instead?
    • Go back to the bar! Body wash is great, but often comes in very wasteful plastic bottles. A bar of soap can last just as long and leaves you with nothing to throw out when it’s gone.
    • This maybe shocking to hear but babies go through upwards of 10,000 disposable diapers before they are potty trained. That makes them the 3rd largest consumer item in landfills. Imagine the impact switching to cloth diapers can have on non-biodegradable waste!
    • Scan the store shelves for household products that come in cardboard or paper bags rather than the more common plastic packaging.

At work…

  • Can you believe 1.6 billion disposable pens end up in the trash every year? A fountain pen is a really simple way to cut back on the amount of pen related waste we crate. And no, you don’t need a powdered wig to fit in. There are lots of exciting styles and once you get used to them they are a ton of fun to write with.
  • Disposable flatware and plates are easy but can pile up quick in the office. Next time you upgrade you home collection why not bring the old set to work for office meals?

On the go…

  • Carrying around a reusable straw is a great tip but we don’t have to stop there. Camping flatware has evolved so much over the years and there are lots of innovative sets that include everything you need. Why not carry a set in your glovebox or handbag to use wherever disposal silverware is the only option? And take it one step further and pack your own reusable takeout box for your leftovers.

These tips and suggestions oughta be a start but check out this blog for more inspiration to live a plastic free life. We’d love to hear how you cut down on plastic in your own lives, so feel free to contact us with any ideas you have!

Aug 15

The Scoop on Pet Waste

Posted on August 15, 2018 at 3:28 PM by Regina Connelly

  The Scoop on Pet Waste

Like it or not, pet ownership ups your waste quotient (plastic waste bags and water, to name a few), but with care and effort, you can skip the bags and dispose of your pet waste in an environmentally safe way, and maybe give your flowers a little boost in the process.

Dogs

Since dog poop can contain bacteria like E. coli and salmonella, it’s important to compost it separately from your vegetable garden compost, and use it only on ornamental plants. Proper composting destroys bacteria and pathogens to produce a safe, nutrient-rich soil, while eliminating the transporting of pet waste for disposal, saving landfill space and energy. For more information on how to do this, click here to read the USDA’s guide for composting dog waste.

If composting your dog waste is not of interest to you, look to used biodegradable pet waste bags instead of traditional plastic ones when throwing your pet waste in the trash. Also, keep in mind the smaller the bag the smaller the impact.

Cats

This waste can contain other harmful bacteria that require a significant amount of heat to kill, so it is not advised to compost it. Instead, look for a biodegradable kitty litter to replace traditional clay litter (which takes a lot longer to break down in the landfill) and place it in a recycled paper bag or biodegradable versions, then dispose of it in your household trash. This is the safest way to keep the bacteria out of our food and water supply, and help it to break down quicker.

With just a little extra effort, being an eco-friendly pet owner can be as easy as making some of these small changes to your daily routine. And as always, if you have any questions, you can always contact us for more information. 

Jul 26

Are you a Wish-Cycler?

Posted on July 26, 2018 at 10:35 AM by Regina Connelly

Are you a Wish-Cycler

Raise your hand if you’ve put something in the recycling bin because you’re sorta sure that “it should be recycled.” We’ve all been there, standing in front of the bin with something in our hand that we’re not completely sure about, but toss it in, “just in case.” You gotta err on the side of caution and the facility can sort it out — right?

Well, not entirely…

This practice is called “Wish-cycling” and while it’s done with the best of intentions, can actually do more harm than good. Recycling operations survive by collecting, sorting, and then selling recycled material. This is typically done in batches, and if a non-recyclable item finds its way in, it can contaminate the entire batch.

Here are some commonly Wish-cycled items that cannot go into your curbside recycling bin:

  • Plastic bags or wrap (shopping, food storage, etc.)
  • Food or drink pouches
  • Batteries
  • Shredded paper
  • Textiles (clothing, rags, etc.)
  • Drinking glasses
  • Glass storage containers/jars
  • Electronics
  • Plastic garden pots
  • Loose bottle caps
  • Paper towels, tissue paper and wax paper
  • Styrofoam
  • Light bulbs
  • To-go coffee cups (wax lined)
  • Keurig K-Cups/similar

Most recycling facilities rely on complex machinery to sort and process our recyclables. These machines are designed to recognize and divert a specific set of items — namely, the items accepted by your local recycling program. When things like plastic wrap, shredded paper, or bottle caps get tossed in with proper recycling items, they can jam up the machinery. It’s not uncommon that workers need to shut down the machines and spend few hours fixing these issues, which minimizes their capacity to recycle more items.

Getting familiar with the requirements of Ontario County’s recycling program will help you make the most of your good intentions. Feel free to contact us with any questions you have!