recycle

Earth Month Tip: Reuse!

The most effective way to reduce waste is to avoid creating it in the first place. The process of making a new product creates carbon pollution. As a result, reduction and reuse are the most effective ways you can save natural resources, protect the environment, and save money.

Ever heard the old refrain, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure? Instead of discarding unwanted appliances, tools, or clothes, try selling or donating them. Not only will you be reducing waste, you’ll be helping others.

Check out more tips for reusing.

More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

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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Earth Month Tip: Recycle

A series of daily tips throughout April.

Did you know that recycling reduces carbon pollution? EPA estimates that our current national recycling efforts reduce carbon pollution by 49.9 million metric tons of carbon, which is equivalent to the annual carbon pollution from 39.6 million passenger cars!
Still, there’s more to do. Recycling in your home helps conserve energy and cut carbon pollution. Calculate how much energy you save when you recycle here: http://www.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/tools/iwarm/


More tips: http://www.epa.gov/earthday/actonclimate/

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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Got Gadgets and Gizmos A-Plenty

By Felicia Chou

I’m waiting for the moment when smart phones become obsolete: when scientists announce I can now share the latest doge meme, what I had for lunch, and embarrassing pictures from my last holiday party straight to the rest of the world without some clunky device. Forget game consoles, computers, tablets, and cameras. Someday, someone’s going to find a way to incorporate all those electronic devices into a miniscule hologram projector that can be embedded into something as small as a ring. 

But while we wait for science to catch up to our wildest technological fantasies, we’ve got to stick with what we’ve got. And what we’ve got are much larger gadgets and gizmos that are made of valuable resources and special materials. We’re talking about all sorts of metals, plastics, and glass, all of which take energy to mine and manufacture.

That’s why I enjoyed helping to put together our new infographic about the secret life of a cell phone. Take a look – it’ll help you make more environmentally-friendly choices to make a difference.

That includes using your electronics to their full potential, like upgrading the software and hardware as needed to get the most bang for your buck. You can also give unwanted electronics a second chance by donating or selling them. And if you’re ready to ecycle, make sure you do it with a third-party certified recycler that has protecting human health and the environment in mind.

Like floppy disks, typewriters, pagers, and virtual pocket pets, our shiny new gadgets will ultimately be replaced by superior things. But that’s ok, as long as the resources and materials we put into our gadgets today can be reused for better things tomorrow. And hopefully by the time we can share the latest video with touchable holograms, wasting resources will also have become obsolete.

About the author: Felicia Chou is a program analyst in the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery. She is looking forward to the future of technology, sans homicidal robots, zombie-causing viruses, and apocalyptic computer failures.

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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Auraria Campus Celebrates America Recycles Day

By Virginia Till

My school, the University of Colorado Denver, is part of the Auraria Higher Education Center. At Auraria, we’re not afraid to get our hands dirty. In fact, we enjoy it. As part of our participation in the EPA-led Food Recovery Challenge, and in celebration of America Recycles Day, we did the first-ever waste audit of the Tivoli Student Union.
 

Americans tossed out more than 36 million tons of food in 2011, and nearly all of it ended up in landfills or incinerators. The Food Recovery Challenge asks participants to reduce as much of their food waste as possible – saving money, helping communities, and protecting the environment.
 

With EPA-supplied bench scales, we weighed 26 bags of compost, recycle, and landfill materials gathered from the Tivoli’s 3-bin collection stations. This was then resorted to determine potential for improvement.

By looking at how we were recycling, we learned that we’d do a lot better by sorting properly. Knowing this will help Auraria determine strategies for improving recyling in the Tivoli Student Union and reduce the amount of waste sent to local landfills. It was fun getting our hands dirty and finding out how the campus can improve its waste management. How much of your food and money are you literally throwing away?

For more information:
http://www.epa.gov/smm/foodrecovery/
http://americarecyclesday.org/

About the author: Virginia Till is a graduate student at the University of Colorado Denver, pursuing a master’s in integrated sciences. She studies and works on sustainable building operations and is a Recycling Specialist for EPA Region 8 in Denver.

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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“Wanted – For Helping the Earth”

By Ellie Kanipe

One summer evening after a long day at work, I went for a walk in my neighborhood to relax. To my delight, I saw the most awesome thing ever: kids in my neighborhood, which is a stone’s throw over the Potomac River from Washington DC, had put up hand-drawn posters all over the neighborhood to encourage their neighbors to be green. I saw poster after poster on telephone polls, stop signs, and even garbage cans. The posters encouraged people to reduce, reuse, and recycle; to turn off lights; to bike. One even said “this is a garbage can, recycle instead.”

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 After that long work day, seeing these posters was incredibly refreshing. I’m a communication specialist in EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery and regularly work to determine the best way to communicate what we can all do to make a difference. We use Facebook and Twitter to share information, develop cool infographics, and make YouTube videos, all to spread the word about what people can do to make a difference at homeon the go, at school, and in their community.

Hopefully, these young environmentalists will inspire you as much as they inspired me. As overwhelming as the world’s environmental problems can be, we can’t forget that the little things we do make a difference.  So do as these kids say – “Go Green! Help our community! Tell your neighbors AND GO GO GO GO!!”

Want green ideas for kids? Check out our Planet Protector’s Club for Kids.

About the author: Ellie Kanipe lives in Del Ray, Virginia, and works for the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery on communications. She loves her community in Del Ray – the people, its walkability, and the neighborhood’s frozen custard shop.

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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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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