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Posts Tagged ‘Zero Waste’

Americans alone use and throw out 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour or over sixty million every single day. Six to ten million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year, choking the life out of sea creatures. Millions of seabirds are dying from ingesting this plastic. In the Pacific Ocean, the great Pacific garbage gyre is now a permanent whirlpool of plastic garbage bigger than Texas leaking toxins into the food chain. The unnecessary use of disposable plastic also adds to greenhouse gasses. There are many efforts going on to reduce plastic garbage.

One man has a simple idea that he thinks might make a big difference—a simple pledge that he hopes millions of people will take to refuse to use three things: Plastic water bottles, plastic straws and plastic shopping bags.

The idea came to John Izzo, a business advisor and author, while writing his sixth book, Stepping Up: How Taking Responsibility Changes Everything. He interviewed scores of people who had stepped up to create change including three women who tackled female poverty in Uganda to a group of ecologists and journalists who confronted the Russian whaling fleet leading to a ban on commercial whaling. “Here I was interviewing all these people who had stepped up to create change which got me thinking about what I could do about this plastic issue.”

But the tipping point came when Izzo watched the trailer for the forthcoming documentary, Midway Journey, a Chris Jordan film about thousands of albatross dying from ingesting plastic on Midway Island several thousand miles from any continent. “I was horrified as I watched the devastation. As I watched these newborn birds dying from eating plastic garbage I kept thinking there must be a simple way that the average person can do something and get engaged on this issue.”

Though Izzo admired people like Beth Terry, founder of www.myplasticfreelife.com whom he had written about in Stepping Up, he felt that going totally plastic free would be too much for most people as a starting point. “That is when I thought of the idea of this three part pledge, these three items that we use on a daily basis in the developed world that could easily be eliminated. First, I took the pledge myself and found that with a few metal water bottles, some cloth bags kept in my car and deciding not to use straws, I could easily make this change.”

Izzo funded the development of www.noplasticpledge.com which tracks the number of people who have taken the pledge, educates people about the issue of plastic garbage, and links people to other organizations that are tackling the issue. The site was launched on March 5th and he has already been joined by organizations like the Plastic Pollution Coalition, Beth Terry and the makers of the Midway film in promoting the pledge.

“In my book I try to counter the idea that one person can’t make a difference. One reason we think that one person doesn’t matter is because we forget the power of aggregate influence, which is what happens when one times many take a small action thereby making a huge difference,” Izzo says.

Izzo’s goal is ambitious—to get one million to take the pledge in 2012 and one hundred million by the end of 2013. “The hope is that entire schools, families and workplaces will choose to take the simple pledge. Even if people aren’t 100% pure, even if they reduce their use of these three products by 90% we can eliminate 170 billion pieces of plastic garbage every single year!”

We would love your support to help raise awareness and encourage others to take the pledge by blogging about this issue. www.myplasticfreelife.com  and the Plastic Pollution Coalition have joined us, but we can’t do it alone. Check out the www.noplasticpledge.com for information. And watch the Midway trailer (http://bit.ly/AdpkbG)  and visit their site http://www.midwayjourney.com to find out more about the documentary.

To interview Dr. John Izzo about the pledge, contact Linda Parsons at 778.737.4991

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Metro Vancouver just launched a free new iPhone app to help people keep resources out of their trash.  Check out weRecycle on iTunes:

http://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/werecycle/id502866356?mt=8

With weRecycle all you have to do is enter a material and hit search.  You’ll get a list of the closest donation and recycling facilities and a Google map that uses your iPhone’s current location.  Or you can enter another location like your home address.

I’m hoping you agree that weRecycle will help the region’s residents find convenient locations to donate and recycle unwanted materials, and that you’ll be kind enough to tell your social networks about it.

It’s fast, it’s free, it’ll move us closer to zero waste and we think it’s pretty awesome.

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    1. Check the air pressure in your tires. Cooler temperatures lower tire pressure and that, in turn, lowers fuel efficiency. So check your tires and make sure that they are properly inflated.
    2. Clean and test the furnace. Did you know that your furnace needs cleaning? Yep … it collects all kinds of dust and debris which not only affects it’s performance but could cause a fire. Before you really need the heat, get out your owner’s manual for instructions on how to clean it. No manual? Check here or call a furnace maintenance company. If you have a gas furnace, have it professionally inspected once a year.
    3. Move furniture or any obstructions from vents, baseboard heaters, registers on the floor or radiators so that air moves freely. This is also a good time to vacuum these areas to remove any dust or debris. And here’s a tip if you have a radiator … place a reflecting panel behind it … you can purchase one at a home center or make one yourself with a plywood panel and aluminum foil.
    4. Remove window air conditioners for the winter. If they can’t be removed, seal them with caulking or tape and cover them with an airtight, insulated jacket.
    5. Vacuum the refrigerator coils to keep the compressor running efficiently. It’s also a good time to check that the refrigerator is level … the door should automatically swing shut instead of staying open. Check the seal on the door … try closing it on a dollar bill. If you can pull the bill out easily, it’s time to replace the gaskets. Here’s another tip for running the refrigerator efficiently … don’t over fill it. Allowing room for cool air to circulate will keep everything at the right temperature.
    6. Clean the ducts and area behind the dryer. And don’t forget, clean the filter after every use and every once in awhile, give it a good wash.
    7. Check windows for proper caulking. If you have single-pane windows, add storm windows. Even a plastic film over windows will reduce heat loss.
    8. Check doors for weather stripping and replace as necessary. If drafts sneak in under exterior doors, replace the threshold or block the drafts with a rolled-up towel or blanket.
    9. Check your roof for any missing or damaged tiles or shingles.
    10. Clean the roof gutters and make sure downspouts are pointed away from the house. Now would also be a good time to install a rain barrel … rather than allow water to drain into one spot, a rain barrel would allow you to direct the water to where it’s most needed.
    11. Electrical outlets, especially on outside walls, and light fixtures are prime places for cold air to leak into your home. Add foam gaskets behind covers and switch plates, and use safety plugs in unused outlets. Be sure to shut off the power at the fuse box or circuit panel before doing this.
    12. Install foam covers over outside water spigots to prevent freezing.
    13. Check for water leaks both inside and outside.
    14. Wrap the water heater in an insulating blanket.
    15. If you have a ceiling fan, reverse the direction … the fan should be run in a clockwise direction (stand under the fan and if you feel a breeze, reverse the direction so that air is being drawn upwards). This pushes the air up against the ceiling and down the walls, to gently re-circulate the warm air without creating a cooling “wind chill effect.”
    16. Do you have a fireplace? This is a good time to have the chimney cleaned and get vent systems checked.
    17. If your home has no sidewall insulation, place heavy furniture like bookshelves, armoires and sofas along exterior walls, and use decorative quilts as wall hangings. This will help block cold air.
    18. Bring in any houseplants that have spent the summer outdoors. They’ll help clean the air.
    19. As the autumn leaves begin to fall, consider raking them up rather than using a “blower”. Once raked up, use them as mulch to protect plants throughout the winter or add them to a compost pile.
    20. Before packing away those summer clothes, go through them and determine which items to keep, which items to repurpose into something else (cleaning rags, craft projects, etc.) and which to donate.

A little effort in the fall will ensure that the chilly months ahead are warm and “green”.

Source

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This rocks and every city should be offering a program like this!

The EGP maintains food gardens on a variety of public and private spaces. As their programs grows, they will be looking for additional garden space. If you have garden space that you do not use, the EGP may want to come and cultivate a food garden.

Check out: The Edible Garden Projects Website for more info.

The Edible Garden Project (EGP) is working to address urban environmental and social issues by creating a network that grows and shares local food and by promoting sustainable regional agriculture.

WThey are working to reduce the reliance on foods imported from afar by empowering residents to grow (and share) their own. The EGP is the result of an extensive community consultation process where food security was identified as a key priority area from both a community and environmental perspective. Adequate access to fresh fruit and vegetables is a cornerstone to good health, but is beyond the reach of many low income community members, and current industrial agricultural practises can be highly detrimental to the environment.

The project aims to bring people together to grow and distribute locally produced food to low-income individuals and families on the North Shore. The EGP is bringing together homeowners with gardens who want to donate a portion of their harvest, people who have under or un-used garden space and would like to cultivate this land for growing food, and volunteers who want to contribute to growing, sharing and learning about locally produced food. They provide information and education in the community to build knowledge and skills around ecological food gardening and urban agriculture.

They also like urban farms…

Their Mission

  • Increase land used for fruit and vegetable production on the North Shore.
  • Increase knowledge and skills  relating to food gardening, thereby increasing community capacity to grow and share locally grown fruits and vegetables.
  • Increase access to fruits and vegetables and to garden space for those most in need on the North Shore.
  • Advise on and support policy development around urban agriculture.

Providing opportunities for low-income individuals and families is a priority.

Source

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New Westminster’s fabulous market is back at Tipperary Park at 4th and Royal. It runs every Thursday from 3-7pm.

The Royal City Farmers Market Association is a non-profit association dedicated to making a Farmers Market in New Westminster a success.

Their mission is to connect with our heritage of having a vibrant city market, the Royal City Farmers Market Association brings locally grown and produced food to the community, thereby contributing to environmentally sustainable food production, local economic development, healthy eating, and food security.

The market features farm-fresh produce, plants, quality crafts from local artists and artisans, gourmet prepared foods, community information, live entertainment, and more.

For more information please visit their website at: http://rcfm.ca/

 

 

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Download Trash Tracking Form here:  NWEP tracking

The Trash Talkers are a group of NWEP volunteers who found they are spending too much time talking about solid waste and decided to do something about it. Rallying together during the 2009-2010 consultations around the Metro Vancouver Solid Waste Resource Management Plan, effectively lobbying the City to consider smaller options when they rolled out the automated trash bins for single-family dwellings, promoting the City’s recycling, composting, and organic waste collection programs at community events, and buoyed by the success of two “Neighbourhood Zero Waste Challenges”, the trash talkers have been doing more than talking in the last two years.

The next project is to take lessons from the Neighbourhood ZWCs, and apply them out in the larger community. One of the take-home lessons of the Neighbourhood ZWC was that people started to think about garbage as something other than that stuff that magically disappears after you take to the curb once a week. This was precipitated by making people actually sort and weight their garbage.

In reality, most people don’t want to weight their garbage. It is time consuming and has a certain “yuck” factor. However, all single-family homes and duplexes in New Westminster now have automated trash bins. That means we can estimate the amount of garbage we produce over a few months just by counting the number of bins that go to the curb. It is hoped that this information will be helpful to the City in planning further waste-reduction strategies, without the expense and hassle of a full trash survey. This is where you come in.

The NWEP have put together a simple garbage-tracking form. It is designed to be either attached or posted next to the garbage calendar you receive from the City. All you have to do to fill it out is make a check mark every time you take one or both of your trash bins to the curb. You can mark if the bin was “full”, about half full, almost empty, or if you didn’t take it out that week. The same for the Green Organic Waste bin.

At the end of the survey, you can scan, e-mail, or drop your tracking sheet off (or we can come by and pick it up from you). We will collect this data, post it on our website (the names and addresses of all participants will remain anonymous) and present it to New Westminster Council and Staff in the Fall.

What do we hope to get out of this?

Many people in New Westminster are already very conscious of their waste stream, and take efforts to reduce the amount of garbage they take to the curb. One of the reasons the NWEP fought to make the 120L garbage bins available as an option (the City was leaning towards 180L or 240L bins) was that the City’s own older studies showed the average household put out less than 75L of trash a week.

If this is the case, then perhaps the 120L bins are too large for many people. If the 75L bin were available (as they are in Vancouver) for people, then perhaps the City will see some further reduction of waste, and the concomitant reduction of garbage collection costs can be passed onto the residents with the smaller bins. Or, with the organics (i.e. “stinky stuff”) now removed from the regular waste stream, perhaps many residents would prefer to only have their trash picked up once every two weeks, or less frequently.

But to change “status quo” of the garbage magically disappearing (the magic part only exposed when you get your annual Solid Waste Utility Tax bill in the mail), we need more than ideas: we need numbers to support these ideas.

Please, download and print off the garbage tracking sheet. If you don’t have a printer, drop us a line and we will get one to your house. Each line on the sheet corresponds with the first day of the week as shown on your City Garbage Calendar. We would like to start keeping numbers in March, mostly to work out any kinks in the system, but if you can’t start until April, that is OK too!

Any questions? Comments? Concerns? Curiosities?

You can email Jane at jearmstrong@shaw.ca, or Patrick at pdjohnst@telus.net.
You can call Jane at 604-524-6112
You can comment to the trash talkers mail list (this is an open mail list, so don’t post anything you would like to keep confidential!) trashtalk@nwep.ca.
Or keep up to date with progress on the NWEP website (www.nwep.ca).

Happy counting!

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Breathe new life into old objects and reduce landfill waste by diverting leftover odds and ends that would be relegated to the dumpster into useful items.

Call it repurposing, call it recrafting, call it creative reuse, or call it trash transformed. No matter what you call it, this concept of “cradle to cradle” is one of the tenants of green living. It means that a product’s lifecycle doesn’t have to end up forever rotting away in a landfill. It can be endlessly reincarnated into useful items.

We EcoNesters talk a lot about purging clutter, living slower, donating and thrifting, and living minimally. So, this post is going to take a different tact. It isn’t going to tell you that hording some things isn’t such a bad idea. In fact, hold onto those scraps.

But, wait a minute … scraps are junk, right? Not so fast. Scrap items can be put to use and given a “life after waste.” In fact, the end products of materials are often called salvage. That’s a great word for things that are “saved from the ruins” and eventually end up in dumpsters.

If you’re like me, you’ve got all sorts of scraps hanging around just ready for a new practical renaissance of sorts. Think of it as part of the transformation of renewal for living a more resourceful life.

Scrap renewal projects using…

1. Yarn
If you read my posts with any regularity, you know that knitting is my number one DIY project of choice. Yarn scraps abound in the needle world, and this pin cushion from Craft Leftovers via the Craftzine blog is perhaps one of the best uses I’ve seen for small amounts of yarn scraps.

2. Wood
Keep those wood scraps out of the burn pile and make a beautiful and unique scrap wood cutting board from Instructables.

3. Fabric
I love wrapping gifts using fabric. Here is a pattern from Purl Bee to make an easy, little drawstring bag that could become the perfect packaging for gift giving.

4. Paper
While cardboard furniture has been making the DIY design rounds lately, I’m not sure how comfy these things are to sit on. This bowl, by A Little Hut that is created using scraps of magazine cuttings seems more useful.

5. Plastic
Not being much of a plastic user or a soda drinker, I don’t have a lot of plastic recycling hanging around, but this is truly one of the post amazing things I’ve seen using tossed plastic: This plastic kayak shown here at Gizmodo with DIY instructions from Instructables is outrageous!

6. Glass
I’ve had a case of severe chandelier envy. You can read about it here and here. So, when I found this outdoor glass chandelier over on Casa Sugar crafted from recycled glass jars, it lit my fire.

Source

Ronnie Citron-Fink is a writer and educator. Ronnie regularly writes about sustainable living for online sites and magazines. Along with being the creator of www.econesting.com, Ronnie has contributed to numerous books about green home design, DIY, children, and humor. Ronnie lives the Hudson Valley of New York with her family.

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