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Recycling finds

 I’ve been working for a small recycling hauler for about two years now. We collect all around Boston and the surrounding area. I have come across a lot of items that are not recyclable stashed away in our recycling containers; in the business we call these contaminants. Some are funny and some are gross. Many are interesting.

Here is short list of interesting things I’ve found in the recycling:

 Women’s shoes. So far I’ve found one and a half pairs of women’s shoes. Apparently women’s shoes appear discarded in recycling bins more than you think. My co-workers have also come across a few pairs in their day. In the past twenty five years of my company being in business collecting recycling, we have found about five pairs of women’s shoes, but no men’s shoes.

 Dirty Diapers. This really sucks, almost as bad as dog waste. The smell is just horrendous. I’ve seen one or two of these in my short and illustrious recycling career. Why are you dumping your kid’s stinky diaper in a recycling bin? Please, moms of the world, stop this.... read more

4 Tips and Tricks to Recycling

Today, mostly everyone is into recycling. We all want to do our part to help save the environment. Below are some tips and tricks to help you in the process and to give you some ideas too.

Eco-friendly gift wrap

Credit: Flickr, CityMama

Make it Fun

Get your whole family involved in recycling. Make it fun, easy, and quick or it won’t happen. First, check with your local recycling center to find out specifics on what they accept and how it needs to be packaged. If you do not have to put twine around your newspapers, don’t. Make it easy. Next, choose a convenient place, such as the garage, to stash your bins (some places do not even require sorting).  Have them marked with what goes in what bin. Then, all you and your kids have to do, is simply throw stuff in. Last, if your neighborhood accepts curb-side recycling, do it otherwise drop it off at a designated recycling center. Make sure you drop it off when you are out doing something else. You want to make sure you save gas and energy too.... read more

Composting Pizza Boxes

Composting pizza boxesWe've written before about how pizza boxes are not recyclable.  

As John Pauline explained in The Rules of Recycling

"Due to the nature of paper’s specific recycling process putting used pizza boxes in can make the entire process pointless. This is because one of the worst possible contaminants in the paper recycling process is food.  Residual greases and oils are less of an issue for plastic, metal and glass, due to the heating technique which is part of their recycling process. Paper and cardboard products on the other hand are mixed with water and turned into slurry when recycled. Once oil or grease is introduced into this process it contaminates the water based slurry and floats to the top as it separates."

So, that might leave you should you dispose of a pizza box?  ... read more

What are Energy Efficiency Window Films?

Window FilmEnergy experts agree that roughly 30% of your cooling is lost due to heat entering through windows. That adds up to a lot of money! Energy efficiency window films are one way you can intercept that solar heat from getting into your house and zapping your cool air, especially if your home was built before 1980.

There are many types of window film available that serve a variety of purposes – to provide shade, UV protection, privacy, solar heat reduction, and heat retention. Heat rejection film, more commonly called energy efficiency window films, can reduce energy loss by 30-50% and is inexpensive compared to other energy saving home improvement projects. Window films are dyed, metalized, or ceramic in order to reject solar heat back from the window instead of letting it flow through into your house.... read more

10 Tips to Becoming an Eco-Warrior in Your Home

Fossil fuels and electricity are currently at an all-time high and as a consequence homeowners are becoming far more environmentally friendly. There are many ways to reduce your energy consumption whilst gaining maximum efficiency with minimum effort. Not only is it healthy for the environment, it is also healthy for your wallet and bank balance.... read more

E-Waste and Recycling - The Cold Hard Facts

ewasteElectronic waste is going to be a major problem for future generations unless proper recycling measures are put in place. E-Waste can take many forms, from large appliances through to mobile phones, DVD players and laptops, but all share negative environmental effects. In terms of mobile phones, around 140 million mobile phones exist in the United States alone, of which only 14 million, or 10%, are recycled on average per year. When combined with other forms of E-Waste, major countries like the US are looking at 400 million units of E-waste each year, with over 3 million tonnes marked as waste in 2008. With recycling rates still regularly falling below 20%, dumping electrical equipment and appliances into landfills and incinerators creates multiple problems. ... read more

Crayola Doesn’t Recycle?

It seems like a strange concept nowadays that a large company, especially one that cares about children, would not recycle. I know I was shocked when I found out that Crayola had no recycling program. With millions of pounds of plastic used to make its iconic markers every year, it only seems logical that the company would offer a recycling program for used and empty markers.  

I’m not the only one that thinks so. Children at Sun Valley elementary school in San Rafael, Calif., have been promoting an online petition aimed at nudging Crayola, a subsidiary of Hallmark, into developing a "take-back" program for used-up markers. So far the petition on has more than 60,000 signatures.  ... read more

Are bottle caps recyclable?

Plastic Bottle Cap RecyclingPlastic Bottle Cap Recycling
UPDATE:  Bottle caps are now recyclable, usually.  Call your local recycling center for more details.

Think twice before throwing that bottle cap into your recycling bin.  Bottle caps can actually be difficult to recycle and I suggest you contacting your city's recycling center before recycling them. 

Plastic Bottle Caps

Plastic bottles and bottle caps are usually made from different types of plastic, so even if they can both be recycled , they may need to be separated first.   Explains Darby Hoover, resource specialist for the NRDC:  “You can probably improve the chances of the bottle—and possibly the cap, but at least the bottle—getting recycled if you take off the cap. This also allows the bottle to dry out some."    ... read more

Rules of Recycling

Recycling Pizza BoxesRecycling Pizza BoxesIn today’s world of environmentally conscious and enlightened societies, most people regularly recycle. In fact it’s quite rare to find people, at least in the western and first world who don’t or won’t recycle. But without the correct research a great many people could be making errors when it comes to what can and what can’t be put into those magical little boxes.

Whilst it’s all very well and good to suggest that, “it’s the thought that counts,” if you’re adding things to your recycling bins which don’t belong there you could, not only make life more difficult for your local refuse collectors but also ruin part of the recycling process itself.

For example, quite a common occurrence is pizza boxes being thrown in with the recycling. This is a fairly innocent idea and one which, without the right research could seem a perfectly normal thing to do. But due to the nature of paper’s specific recycling process putting used pizza boxes in can make the entire process pointless. This is because one of the worst possible contaminants in the paper recycling process is food.... read more

MBA Students Spread Sustainability Around The Globe - Thailand Solar Project

Contributed by  John Lehnert, Presidio Graduate School MBA graduate, 2011.

Every year, students from Presidio Graduate School's International Club venture abroad to put their sustainability training into action. Some students will pursue careers in international development. One group recently went to Thailand, with help from a Presidio student who is Thai himself. Their journey -- installing solar panels, learning about renewable energy, and teaching others about design thinking -- is described below.

January 2012: On a sunny day in western Thailand, our Presidio Graduate School group joined dozens of schoolchildren on a bare field for a game of soccer. We shared high fives after each goal—a fun conclusion to a day during which we installed a solar panel at a school near the Burmese border.

After 20 hours of flying, our group of 14 (mostly students, with a few alumni and significant others) met in Bangkok and headed north in two vans. Crossing the flat central expanse of rice fields, we reached our first stop, Chiang Mai. We led a workshop for university students and faculty on design thinking: a collaborative process in which teams define a problem, brainstorm solutions, select the best ones and then have fun making prototypes.... read more

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