You may be a master recycler at home, but what about when you’re on the road? Summer vacations are just around the corner. Wherever your travels might take you, be sure to reduce, reuse and recycle along the way. Here are some helpful tips:
Check ahead — Planning for recycling on your road trip is just as important as remembering to pack your tooth brush and phone charger. Contact the places you’ll be staying (campground, motel, resort, etc.) to find out what recycling services they offer. Once you arrive, lodging staff should be able to direct you to a recycling location on- or off-site. Another great resource is iRecycle, an app developed by Earth911 to provide recycling information and locations for the USA, and parts of Mexico and Canada. Both EnvironmentallyFriendlyHotels.com and the Green Hotel Association can help you find lodging that offers recycling.
Contain it — You’ll need a way to contain your recyclables and trash while you’re on the road. Bring a container (bag, bin, etc.) for each. If you’re staying someplace that doesn’t offer recycling, bring your own container to hold recyclables until you reach someplace that does.
Let it rot — If you compost at home, you can compost on the road, too. Take an airtight plastic container or two to store your compostables until you get back home.
Reduce packaging — Space is always at a premium when you’re on the road, so choose items with little or no packaging. Avoid items that are individually wrapped. If you end up with candy wrappers or chip bags, check with TerraCycle, a company that prides itself in recycling everything.
Leave only small “food prints” — Eating out on the road is expensive both in terms of your pocket book and energy and resources. Pre-purchase snacks, drinks and food, keep perishables in a cooler, and visit a local grocery store when you run low.
Go for unique souvenirs — Consider buying goods by local artists to support the local economy and buy fair trade items when available. If you’re buying gifts for others, use your old road map or a brochure as gift wrap.
Pack your reusable bags — Always pack a few reusable bags for souvenirs and those on-the-road grocery stops.
Just say no to “Would you like a box for that?” — Remember to take plastic food storage containers for your restaurant leftovers. They’re easier to pack in a cooler than flimsy takeout containers, and they keep food fresh longer.
Reduce, reuse, rehydrate — Take reusable mugs and bottles for all your road trip drinks.
For information on where you can take your recyclables once you get home, visit RecycleSpot.org, Kansas City metro area’s one-stop spot for recycling, reuse and waste reduction information.
Every holiday season we hear the same question: is it better for the environment to buy a real tree or an artificial tree? Currently, of all the American households displaying trees, 80 percent are artificial trees and 20 percent are real.
A recent study — sponsored by the American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA) and conducted by third-party international research firm PE International — showed that purchasing either a real or artificial tree has a negligible impact on the environment. However, the study found that length of ownership, disposal method and “tree miles” can make a difference on which tree is environmentally preferable.
ACTA encourages consumers to consider five helpful tips when deciding which tree to buy this year:
If you buy a real tree, buy from a local farm if possible.
Consider “tree miles” — How far the tree had to travel to get to the store or farm, and how far you had to travel to get it.
Consider purchasing an artificial tree to minimize your environmental impacts if you have purchased more than nine live trees in the last nine years.
If you own an artificial tree, plan to use it for at least six to nine years. If you replace an artificial tree, donate the old one instead of disposing it.
Properly dispose of your natural holiday tree. Find local disposal services at RecycleSpot.org!
Missouri bans the disposal of real holiday trees and greenery, just like it does other yard waste materials, and Kansas discourages the practice. Area communities, businesses and organizations offer a number of ways to recycle those trees instead of trashing them. These services divert materials from landfills while creating resources that can be used for a variety of purposes. For example, trees can be shredded into mulch that is used for trail surfaces, erosion control and landscaping, or left whole to create fish habitats in area lakes.
To ensure a pure recycling stream and protect workers and machinery, it’s very important to remove lights, decorations, plastic bags, stands, metal frames, nails and wire from trees and greenery before recycling them.
For more information on where to donate your artificial tree or recycle your real tree and greenery, visit RecycleSpot.org or call (816) 474-4326.
Many of us have replaced our standard incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs. But what do you do with the old bulbs when they burn out? Properly disposing or recycling light bulbs can increase your safety, save energy and help the environment.
The hazardous component of fluorescent light bulbs is the small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. When a fluorescent bulb breaks, some of this mercury is released as mercury vapor. Keep yourself and sanitation workers safe by following proper cleanup procedures.
Incandescent, halogen and LED bulbs
Unfortunately, there are no options to recycle incandescent, halogen and LED (light-emitting diode) light bulbs in the Kansas City metro. Since these types of bulbs do not contain any hazardous materials they can be thrown away in your regular trash. For safety’s sake, place burned out bulbs back in their original packaging or in a plastic bag before throwing them away.
You’re faced with the same dilemma every spring and fall: what to do with extra clothes, clothes that don’t fit, or clothes that are too damaged to wear. So many people in the world need clothing — and so many landfills don’t — so why not donate your unwanted clothes?
Options for donation
Donating clothes has never been easier. There are thrift stores and clothing donation bins throughout the community, and friends and relatives who might appreciate the hand-me-downs. Charities will often accept your gently worn clothing, too. If you’re donating to a charity, always contact the organization first to find out donation requirements. You may even qualify for a tax deduction.
What about clothes that are ripped, stained or faded? Go ahead and donate them, too! Major thrift operations contract with textile reclamation companies that accept damaged clothing and clothing that won’t sell in stores.
Wearable clothing is sold in different countries throughout the world where it’s in demand. Unwearable clothing can take a couple of different routes. Cotton and other biodegradable materials are often recycled into wiping cloths. They can also be shredded into “shoddy” fibers, blended with other selected fibers, and turned into recycled yarn. Synthetic materials such as polyester are turned into new filament fiber used to make new polyester fabrics.
Participate in a clothing swap to exchange your closet clean-outs for clothing you will wear. You can join an existing group, such as Kansas City Pop-Up Clothing Swap, or set up one of your own among friends (see list above).
But between thinking about all those calories and the sheer quantity of food, most of us don’t consider how much of it gets wasted. In fact, the average American wastes between 209 and 253 pounds of food every year, with a fair amount of that waste occurring around the holidays. Here are some ways to reduce waste that will help you, your guests and the environment.
Precycle. “Precycling” is when you avoid purchasing unnecessary items that will eventually have to be recycled or thrown away. For holiday meals, try to purchase products with less packaging, use durable dishware and cook only for the number of people who will eat at your gathering.
Prepare healthy portions. Love Food Hate Waste’s online portion planner will tell you how much food to purchase based on the type of food you want to serve and the number of people who will eat it.
Make a list and stick with it. A list will ensure you don’t forget anything and keep you from buying and spending too much.
Let guests serve themselves. When guests serve themselves they can choose the items they actually want to eat.
Use smaller plates. Smaller plates help fend off the dreaded “my-eyes-are-bigger-than-my-stomach” syndrome.
Ask guests to bring reusable containers. This way you won’t have to eat all those leftovers yourself and your guests will have something to eat the next day. Plus you’ll reuse others’ containers instead of buying new ones.
Reduce, reuse, recycle: the “Three Rs.” We hear this phrase all the time — and most of us understand the recycling part — but how many of us really understand “reduce” and “reuse” and what we can do to incorporate these principles into our daily lives?
First of all, what do these words mean? To “reduce” means producing less trash in the first place. “Reusing” means finding a new way to use something instead of throwing it in the trash can. When done together, reducing and reusing avoid the creation of trash and the need to recycle or send it to a landfill.
Let’s look at actions we can each take to reduce our waste:
Do I really need to purchase this item?
Use products you already have. Keep things clean and organized so you can easily find what you need.
Maintain and repair. Items that are well maintained don’t have to be repaired or replaced as often. Try to repair something before you replace it.
Buy well-made products. Durable products have a longer lifespan and are more likely to be repairable.
Share, borrow or rent. Save money and reduce waste by sharing, borrowing or renting items you use infrequently.
Shop used. Shopping for used items is sustainable and economical. Try looking around at garage sales, thrift stores and Craigslist.
Can I reuse this item?
Reuse everyday items. Get in the habit of reusing everyday items such as plastic grocery sacks, coffee cans and old t-shirts.
Use durable bags. Whether shopping for groceries, clothes, toys or tools use reusable shopping bags instead of paper or plastic bags.
Use refillable mugs and water bottles. At work, at home or on-the-go, use a refillable container.
Use Tupperware as take out boxes. These can replace disposable paper, plastic and Styrofoam boxes.
When I am through with an item, what are my options?
Donate. Donate items to friends or thrift stores.
Reuse at work. Make sure your office has a system for reusing, donating or selling surplus supplies and property.
Can I avoid all of this packaging?
Choose less or no packaging. When choosing between two similar products, select the one with the least or no packaging. Products that contain less packaging include large or economy-sized items, concentrated products and bulk items.
Choose recyclable packaging. If you can’t avoid the packaging, select the product with packaging that can be put into your curbside recycling bin or accepted at your local drop-off facility.
For more information, visit RecycleSpot.org, Greater Kansas City’s one-stop website for waste reduction, reuse and recycling information.