100 Ways to be Greener
Don't Dump Itby Starre Vartan
As consumers, we go through a lot of stuff and generate tons (literally!) of garbage every day. Nowadays it’s easy to ensure that it doesn’t all wind up at the dump.
Why: "Every day the city takes 3,500 tons a day to the landfills," says Cynthia Ruiz of the Los Angeles Department of Public Works. "We have only one earth and only so much more room in the landfills — but we can divert hundreds of tons from landfills with recycling."
What to do and where to go: Most cities make it easy to separate out your recyclables from your trash with color-coded bins. You can also bring your recyclables to city-operated or privately owned recycling centers or salvage yards — some of which have untold architectural treasures and building supplies that could be used in a remodel. Make it easy on yourself by separating recyclables before they get mixed together by using separate bins, baskets or containers.
Here’s what to recycle:
• White, colored shredded (unsoiled—no paper towels)
• Paperback books
• Phone books and directories
• Paper board (cereal boxes, etc.)
• Egg cartons
• Cardboard (flattened)
• Junk mail
• Non-metallic wrapping paper
(Note: staples, paperclips, labels, and tape are allowed)
Cans and Foil:
• Aluminum cans
• Metal food trays
• Bottles, jars
The following items should not be left on the curb for recycling and shouldn't be taken to the landfill since they contain heavy metals and other toxic components:
• Computer Monitors and TVs (take to an electronics recycling center)
• Cell phones, rechargeable batteries, printers, PDA's and laptops (Any Staples will take these items for recycling, even if you didn't buy the unit there)
• Auto batteries (service stations and city- or county-operated recycling centers will accept these)
• Plastic bags (often not recyclable; check with your local waste hauler or on your county’s recycling website)
Know Your Plastic
Why: Not all types can actually be recycled. The plastics industry has developed a series of symbols, usually seen on the bottom of plastic containers, that denote what kind of plastic was used to make the item. It’s a triangle made of arrows, surrounding a number from 1 to 7.
What to do and where to go: Check with your local recycling agency to see which numbers they accept. Types 1 and 2 are widely accepted in container form, and type 4 is sometimes accepted in bag form. Code 7 is for mixed or layered plastic and has virtually no recycling potential.
Why: Recycling conserves land, reducing the need to drill for oil and cut down forests. It also uses less energy than producing new products, and reduces the number of environmental pollutants, which are emitted during resource extraction, processing and manufacturing.
What to do and where to go: Reusing and cutting back on our consumption is best for the planet. If you do buy something new, choose materials that have been recycled, which supports future recycling efforts.
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