recycle

Let’s Celebrate America Recycles Day Together!

 

America Recycles Day

 America Recycles Day is November 15, and we want to celebrate with you. On Wednesday, November 13, at 12:30 p.m. EST, join us on Twitter to talk about what you and your community are doing to help reduce waste and conserve resources. 

Experts from our Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response will be with us to listen to your ideas and answer your questions. Be ready to share what you and your community are doing to reduce, reuse, and recycle.  Does your community have curbside recycling? Are you creatively reusing stuff? What’s your best thrift shop or garage sale find? Perhaps the kids in your community are starting environment clubs. Or has your community created a sharing library for things like tools, seeds, and more?

You can participate on November 13 at 12:30 p.m. EST by following @EPAlive and the #AskEPA hashtag on Twitter. If you don’t use Twitter, you can still watch the discussion at @EPAlive and #AskEPA. We look forward to chatting with you!

About the author: Ellie Kanipe works in EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery. She is inspired by cool people doing cool green things.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Becoming a Mom = New Concerns and Habits

By Jessica Orquina

Life changes often lead to new habits or concerns. I have always been concerned about the environment and prefer to purchase products that are not toxic to me, my family, or the planet. For example, I recycle whenever I’m able and I prefer walking or public transportation over driving. However, I have to admit I didn’t nag others about these things and have opted for convenience over sustainability more than once.

This year, my husband and I are expecting our first child. I’m finding this new chapter in my life is changing my habits and causing me to think more about my impact on the planet.

As an expectant mother, my concern about the safety of the products I buy has almost become an obsession. The decisions I make no longer just affect me, my husband, and our home – they now have an impact on our child. This new perspective has me researching and reading labels more. Since I work for EPA, I’m familiar with our Design for the Environment (DfE) program and always look for cleaning products that have the DfE label. This helps me feel good that I am not exposing my family – including my soon to be born son – to unsafe chemicals.

When buying other products, I think about the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. As Lina wrote in a recent blog, the first one can often be the hardest to tackle, but it’s the most important; there’s a reason for that order. I also live in the city and have limited space, so it’s an important one for me to consider. As I’m getting ready for our new baby, I’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of stuff that advertisements insist I need as an expectant mother. I’ve tried to focus on getting only what both the baby and I will really need. Even still, I have to get rid of some of my old things to make room for the baby and his gear. This is where two other Rs come in: Reuse and Recycle. To make room for the baby, I’ve been giving the things I no longer need to people that can reuse them, or I’ve been donating them. I recycle the rest.

What do you do to help protect our planet for your children?

About the author: Jessica Orquina works in the Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education as the social media lead for the agency. Prior to joining EPA, she served military and commercial airline pilot. She lives, works, and writes in Washington, DC.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Tackling the First R

By Lina Younes

I’ve always encouraged my family to abide by the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Personally, I’ve always made an effort to recycle while I’m at home, at work or on the road. If I don’t find a recycling bin readily available, I’ll hold on to the soda can or bottle and then discard it in the recycling bin I have at home. I’ll do the same with the free newspaper I read on the metro.

Frankly, recycling seems to be the easiest of the 3R principles to live by. In my opinion, the most difficult one to implement is the first one: reducing waste from the outset. It’s ironic that the most difficult principle to live by, reducing waste, is the one that has the greatest impact on the environment.

What are some of the benefits of reducing waste? Well, they include preventing pollution, saving energy and using fewer natural resources in the big scheme of things. But, one of the benefits that we can all understand at the personal level is that reducing waste actually saves us money!

How can you save money at home and have fewer things to throw in the trash? Well, buy products with less packaging. I know that individually wrapped items might seem practical, but how much paper or plastic wrapping will end up in the trash in the long run? Seems like an unnecessary waste to me. Another idea: choose reusable silverware, plates and cups at home and in the office.

Before you go grocery shopping, do you check your refrigerator and pantry to see what you really need? Are you sure that the vegetables in your refrigerator need to be thrown away? Can you, instead, make them into a casserole or freeze them so they won’t need to be thrown in the trash? Remember: we should feed people, not landfills.

With some planning, we all can work to make a difference in our environment. Do you have any tips to share with us? Have you done anything special lately to reduce your carbon footprint? We love to hear from you.

About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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The Intern Experience

By Lacey Marsh

Growing up in Colorado is sure to turn anyone into an environmentalist. From the time I was a kid, I remember being concerned for the Earth. As I got older and began to understand just how much damage humans can do to the environment, I changed small habits in my life, like using reusable bottles and bags. I got my family to set up recycle bins in their homes! Although this was making an impact, it didn’t seem like enough. I went back to school to get a better understanding of the environment and ways to preserve it.

With my passion for protecting the environment, I was eager to accept the offer as a summer intern at EPA. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew I wanted to absorb as much as possible. I was surprised to discover all the ways EPA works toward their mission of protecting human health and the environment. Apart from getting the message out to the public and advising people on what they can do to help preserve the earth, there is another side of the agency. From ensuring environmental laws are not violated to sending emergency responders to disaster areas, EPA plays a vital role in resolving environmental issues across the country.

I worked in the Office of Web Communications where I learned about public outreach, the processes to develop and run a website, and website analytics. I developed infographics that are being shared on the EPA’s Facebook page. I learned from other offices about their role in the agency’s mission.

Overall, I am satisfied with my intern experience at EPA. After receiving a steady paycheck for 7 years straight, the idea of not having an income for 2 months was unnerving. However, in my opinion the pros far outweighed the cons. I learned much more than I thought I would, both about myself and about being a professional. The intern workshops helped me to feel more confident about my resume, and the seminars helped me gain an interest in career paths that I had not even considered before. I am grateful for the opportunity to come and live in our nation’s capital and say that I was a part of an agency that strives to have a positive impact on the world (literally and figuratively). Unlike being paid hourly, I was in control of how much I gained in experience and knowledge, and that will last longer than any amount of money I have earned in previous jobs.

About the author: Lacey Marsh is an intern with the Office of Web Communications.  She will earn a second Bachelors degree in Environmental Studies in December 2013.  Lacey is a Colorado native who enjoys hiking the endless trails of the Rocky Mountains

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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A Green Summer

summer

Summer has always been my favorite season.  Not only is my birthday in the summer, but summer meant no school, the beach, and hanging out with friends.  Summer is also a great time to go green.  Here are a few tips to make your summer vacation green!

Look up your nearest farmers market and try out some local food, meet new people, and find some pretty neat things. 

  1. Ride your bike!  The weather is too nice to be stuck inside a stuffy car.
  2. Have a picnic with your friends.  Make sure to throw away or recycle all your trash.
  3. Stay local – I am sure there are many fun activities around your town that will result in a low environmental impact.  Go to the zoo, check out the beach, or visit a park!
  4. Conserve water.  Who cares if your grass isn’t the greenest on the block, at least you are saving water.
  5. Get outdoors!  The summer is no time for video and computer games.  Grab friends to play a pickup basketball or soccer game!

 What other green activities do you have planned for the summer?  Don’t forget to put on the SPF!

Kelly Siegel is a student volunteer in the EPA’s Air and Radiation Division in Region 5, and is currently obtaining her Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She has a passion for sustainable development, running, and traveling with friends.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Go Green this Spring!

By: Kelly Siegel

Although it still feels like winter in parts of the Midwest, spring is officially here!  As we gear up for the start of spring and plan spring activities it is important to remember to keep these activities green.  Here are some ideas to make the most of the season:

  1. Get your hands dirty and plant a vegetable garden.  It takes some work and patience now, but when you are eating your home grown tomatoes this summer, it will all be worth it.
  2. Get outside.  Go for long walks, bike rides, or runs and explore your neighborhood you have missed over winter.
  3. Many of us associate spring with spring cleaning.  Go through those old boxes and your closet and donate, recycle, or reuse anything you don’t need any more. You never know what you might find!
  4. On the topic of spring cleaning, use green cleaning supplies.  There are even ways to make your own.  It is very simple and not only better for the environment, but your wallet as well. 
  5. Use reusable water bottles – You can get some with cool designs and not waste plastic water bottles. 

Do you have other tips to go green this spring?  Please share.

Kelly Siegel is a student volunteer in the EPA’s Air and Radiation Division in Region 5, and is currently obtaining her Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She has a passion for sustainable development, running, and traveling with friends

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Tips for a More Environmentally-Friendly Spring Cleaning

By Ashley McAvoy

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Spring has arrived! It’s time to say goodbye to the cold weather and hello to new life once again. The flowers are just breaking through the soil, the birds are singing, and the trees are growing new leaves. These are familiar images and usually mark the beginning of longer days, picnics in the park, riding bikes and more than anything else, enjoying the warmer weather. If you’re like me, one annual task looms in the way of that fun: the dreaded spring cleaning. This chore is tedious and incredibly time consuming, but it’s necessary after months of being cooped up indoors. There are so many things to do: tidy up the garden, wash the car, dust the curtains, sweep the floor, etc. Don’t forget to use cleaning methods and cleaning products that are the safest for your family, your home, and the environment. Here are some reminders before you get started.

Reuse whenever possible

  • One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Give your unwanted clothes a new life by donating them to your local thrift shop or charity. By reusing clothing and other goods, we can cut down on waste entering landfills.

Recycle all that you can

  • Always check with your local recycling center for any recycling restrictions in your area. Some places only accept certain types of plastic or metal. You should check the bottom of any glass or the back of any plastic container for the recycling number. This number will indicate the type of plastic that it is.
    Check out more at the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle website.

Use cleaning products that are safer for your family and the environment

  • Look for products that are labeled biodegradable, eco-friendly, or non-toxic

Find more information about environmentally safe cleaning products at the Protecting Your Health website

  • Avoid products with labels that read toxic, corrosive, irritant, flammable, or combustible

Conserve water

  • To water the lawn, consider using grey water or even rainwater. An average family typically uses 30% of its water for the garden or the lawn. By using alternative water such as rainwater from a rain barrel, you can cut down on wasted water and even lower your water bill.

For more information about safer cleaning methods for your home and the environment, please visit the Green Homes website.

Happy cleaning!

About the author: Ashley McAvoy is an Intern with the Office of Web Communications for spring 2013. She is a double major in Environmental Studies and Hispanic Studies at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Black History Month: Generation Green

By Kuae Kelch Mattox
National President, Mocha Moms, Inc.

When I was growing up, I don’t remember being concerned much about the environment. We didn’t scrutinize labels, all our trash went into one can and we never considered buying “organic.” But now I’m mother to three children who remind me every day what I should be doing to be a kinder, gentler friend to this world in which we live.

My nine year-old daughter tells me I waste water when I let it run while brushing my teeth. My thirteen year old son regularly reminds me he can’t bring anything but a reusable water bottle onto the lacrosse field. He’s also the resident scholar on which plastic is recyclable, and which is not. My teenage environmentally conscious daughter chastises me for putting groceries in plastic bags and points out suspicious chemical key words on cosmetic labels. At our local elementary school, Waste Wednesday is a school tradition. Classes compete to see whose lunchroom trash weighs the least.

Our children are growing up in an era of unprecedented environmental consciousness. The environment is an important part of science and social studies curriculum, science fairs are hot ticket events and extracurricular programs remind our children how their actions impact the environment.

I have always seen myself as my children’s first teacher, but when it comes to the environment, I find that my children are often the ones teaching me. It is a source of great pride that they see taking care of the environment as a serious matter. I see it as my role, particularly as an African American mother, to guide them along the way, to serve as a reminder that it does feel good to treat the place that we call home with honor and respect. Each moment that they teach me is an opportunity for me to show them that I am listening and I, too, care. I also want them to understand the unique needs of the African American community, and that in many communities people of color suffer from disproportionate levels of environmental risk.

For my son, who has asthma, he needs to understand in particular the importance of breathing clean air. For all children, we must be ever vigilant, making sure that their natural curiosity and desire to do good for the earth continues as they grow into adulthood. Let’s talk about the issues – dirty water, polluted air, leaking pesticides, dangerous toxins, health disparities, and let’s explore solutions. Let’s teach our children to be environmental advocates and help this generation to “green” the next one. Let them know, it isn’t just about recycling plastic bottles and paper products. It’s about giving love to the planet – the grass, the trees, the birds and yes, the bees. It’s about planting vegetable gardens, beautifying the landscape outside your school and leaving that odd shaped stinkbug on your wall alone. It’s also about understanding the environmental justice battles of our African American forefathers, knowing how far we have come, and how far we still have to go.

The baby steps we take with our young environmental stewards today will help the next generation to take even bigger steps in the future.

About the author: Kuae Kelch Mattox is the National President of Mocha Moms, Inc., a non-profit organization that supports stay at home mothers of color with 100 chapters in 29 states.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Are We Planet-Friendly?

By Lina Younes

During the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, everywhere we look we find messages and merchandise

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urging us to share our love with family, friends, significant others and even with our pets. But, on this special day and other days of the year, are we truly showing our appreciation to the Planet? Are we making sure that we don’t litter and that we conserve Mother Earth’s precious natural resources?

How about some simple things that we can do at home, at work, or in our community to protect our earthly home? Here are some suggestions:

  • Are you planning to buy a Valentine’s Day card today? Make sure it was made with recycled materials or even save more resources by sending an electronic card instead!
  • Reduce wastes and recycle the 365 days of the year.
  • We can’t live without water so don’t waste it! Close the faucet while you’re brushing your teeth. Take shorter showers instead of baths. Use WaterSense products to use water more efficiently.
  • Save energy in the home by using a programmable thermostat. Use EnergyStar appliances. These energy-efficient appliances save you energy and money and protect the Planet, too.
  • Combine your daily errands to save gas. Give your car a break and take public transportation.
  • In the spring, how about planting a tree? Planting trees will improve air quality and give you shade in the summer months.
  • Want to avoid problems with pests at home? Don’t give them anything to eat, drink, or shelter. These integrated pest management techniques will go a long way to create a healthier home environment for you and your family.
  • We’ve all heard the expression “cleanliness is next to godliness.” A clean home is essential for good health. So why don’t we use the greenest chemicals that are safer for us AND the Planet? Check out those with the Design for the Environment label. They perform well, they are cost-effective, and safer for the environment, too.
  • Do you want more additional Planet-Friendly tips to show your appreciation of Mother Earth? Visit our website .

Would you like to send us your green tips? We look forward to your comments on this blog or through our social media pages at Facebook and Twitter.  Looking forward to hearing from you.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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A Green Valentine

By: Shelby Egan

While celebrating this year’s Valentine’s Day, don’t forget to show the environment some love!  Valentine’s Day festivities often include exchanging cards with friends and classroom parties full of sweets.  As a kid, I remember my mom buying me my favorite Disney character cards to pass out in class, which often meant multiple trips to the store to find the perfect Cinderella or Little Mermaid card.  Along with this came candy hearts, chocolate goodies and decorating our house with colorful window decals.  You can still have just as much fun, but now there are ways to do so in an environmentally friendly way.  You can do so by:
1. When buying Valentine’s Day cards at the store, check the label of the box and see if the cards were made with recycled content. If so, buy cards that were made with recycled content instead of non-recycled. You can also make Valentine’s Day cards at home with recycled construction paper.  This will help save the amount of resources used and can be fun to decorate and personalize your own cards.

2. As a party activity, take old magazines and newspapers to make a Valentine’s Day collage with friends.  You can have fun creating a project using materials that would otherwise be recycled or thrown out.

3. Create re-used, homemade bookmarks as gifts for family and friends. Take an old tissue box or cereal box and cut 2”x 5” strips.  Color or paint these with red, pink and white and write a message to a friend.

4. If you are baking treats to share with friends, ask your parent or guardian to buy organic ingredients locally.  Sweets will taste just as good but will also be good for the environment.
Have fun celebrating the day with the ones you love, and don’t forget how easy it is to be environmentally friendly.

Shelby Egan is a student volunteer in the EPA’s Air and Radiation Division in Region 5, and is currently obtaining her Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  She has a passion for protecting natural resources, cities she’s never been to and cooking any recipe by The Pioneer Woman. 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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