September 11, 2010

Children and Recycling

Recycling is an excellent way to teach your kids about environmental awareness and understanding. Implementing recycling programs for kids also teaches children about the importance of respecting their environment.

The first step in teaching your children about recycling is explaining to them why we should recycle. Teach your children that the earth is their home, and that it therefore deserves their care and respect. Also, teach your child that there is a strong interconnectedness and interdependence between humans and the environment and that their daily actions can affect the earth in either a positive or negative way.
Starting with the basics is a great way to teach your child fun recycling projects. It is important to identify the three R’s for your child so that he can distinguish three key ways to reduce his ecological footprint, that is, his impact on the environment:
  • reduce: this means cutting back on the amount of waste used in everyday life. For example, reduce waste by teaching kids to use canvas bags at the grocery store instead of plastic bags.
  • reuse: reuse an existing item in your household in order to minimize waste. For example, reuse gift bags to cut down on paper waste or decorate cans or jars with stickers or glitter to create a unique pencil holder.
  • recycle: recycling means when an object can be shredded, melted, or processed in order to create new raw materials; for instance, an aluminum can is used to create more cans while paper and cardboard can be recycled in order to generate more paper products
Explain to your kids that every bottle and can they use is waste that just sits in a big pile at the local dump if we don’t recycle. Get them involved by making it their job to sort recyclables and take them out for pickup. (Remind them to watch out for broken glass and ask for help if this happens.) If there’s no recycling collection in your area, find out where you can drop off items.

A great way to get across the message of "reuse" and "recycle" is to take kids on a trip to your local thrift store, recycling center, or church. If your children have old clothing, toys, shoes, or other items in reusable condition, make a family trip down to the donation center so they can see how their trash is someone else's treasure. Teach kids how items can be reused for different purposes--for example old towels, blankets, and comforters can often be donated to local animal shelters for bedding. These real-life examples will teach kids that many items they would normally throw away can actually have a second life.

Kids have to love the world to want to protect it. So take nature walks and look at the trees, flowers and sky. When you’re away on vacation, don’t forget to enjoy the local natural environment, not just the tourist sites. Encourage them to take pictures, draw pictures, read books and write stories about the world and its beauty.

Kids love to help and they're much more exposed to all things green than many of us are, so let them help you encourage the neighbors to recycle. Kids have big mouths and big hearts, so they'll gladly tell your neighbors that they should recycle and then help them stomp on all their cans and boxes.

Use the internet to make children aware of different recycling ideas and fun crafts to promote recycling. There are a variety of websites on the web aimed at helping children understand recycling and ideas to save our planet. Sites like The Imagination Factory offer wonderful art projects for children. Be sure and check out their section "Trashasaurus Rex". The dinosaur is covered with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of solid waste pieces.

Growing A Family Vegetable Garden

Growing your own vegetable garden is a great way to help the planet. Plants lower the amount of carbon in the air and help fight pollution. Growing your own fruits and vegetable also helps the environment in other ways. By growing your fruits and vegetables you can use organic materials and reduce the amount of pesticides that can runoff into our lakes and rivers. By lowering the amount of fruits and vegetable you purchase from your local grocery stores, you are lowering all the pollutants associated with the shipping of these foods. Many fruits and vegetables at your local grocer have traveled by semi truck or airplane across the country or worse yet have come from outside the United States. Food travels an average of 1,200 miles before it reaches your plate! The final asset from growing your own fruits and vegetables is safety. We are having more and more scares about different fruits and vegetables being tainted with Escherichia coli (e. coli) and other bacteria, By eating only organic fruit you have grown yourself you can eliminate fears about the safety of your food.

Site - Locate the garden near the house for convenience on a site close to a source of water with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight. With proper care, vegetables may also be included in the landscape among ornamental plants. Where possible, practice site rotation for weed and other pest control. Coastal sites are also suitable.

Soil Preparation - While most gardeners plant on whatever soil type is available in the garden plot, you may improve your soil by bringing in topsoil or a soil mix, or by applying liberal amounts of organic materials. To determine what kind of soil amendments are needed, have a soil pH test performed. This can be done at the local Extension Office for a small fee. Add amendments as determined by the pH test, and add fertilizers 4-6 weeks before planting. Till these into the top 6-8 inches of soil. Compost home yard and kitchen waste to use in the garden each season, or obtain free compost from the local landfill, if available. Spade or plow the plot at least 3 weeks before planting. Then rework the soil into a fine firm seedbed at planting time. 

Irrigation and Drainage - Provide sufficient drainage of excessive rainfall from your plot, while arranging for irrigation during dry periods. Frequency of irrigation depends upon your soil type; sandy soils need water 2 or 3 times a week. Conserve water by using mulch, organic matter, and techniques such as drip irrigation. Make a slight depression at the base of plants to hold water until absorbed by the soil.

Choosing what to Plant- Every planting zone has a prime time for you to start a garden. Check with your local county extension service or find some master gardeners in your area to learn the best time for planting in your area. Generally you will want to start your  garden after the fear of the last frost has passed. Some plants such as broccoli may need to be started inside and then transplanted when they are young seedlings. it is also important to find out which fruits and vegetables do best in your environment. My first year I tried to go broccoli and carrots in the spring here and Florida and I ran into problems. Although my broccoli grew to a massive height, it became too warm for it to flower and I never got any and broccoli heads.

Cover Crops - Off season planting and plow-down of green-manure crops is beneficial. In Florida, such summer legumes as cowpeas and hairy indigo are most often used. In winter try ryegrass plus lupine, and hairy vetch.

Learn to Can and Freeze- By learning how to can or freeze your vegetables you can enjoy the labors from your garden year round. Blanching and freezing green beans means you can not only eat them year round but you are also eliminating all the cans and paper labels that make their way into our landfills every year. Just think of all the money you can save while eating the best vegetables and fruits around!

Composting Basics

Composting involves mixing yard and household organic waste in a pile or bin and providing conditions that encourage decomposition. The decomposition process is fueled by millions of microscopic organisms (bacteria, fungi) that take up residence inside your compost pile, continuously devouring and recycling it to produce a rich organic fertilizer. Composting is the decomposition of plant remains and other once-living materials to make an earthy, dark, crumbly substance that is excellent for adding to houseplants or enriching garden soil. It is the way to recycle your yard and kitchen wastes, and is a critical step in reducing the volume of garbage needlessly sent to landfills for disposal. It's easy to learn how to compost. Today, the use of composting to turn organic wastes into a valuable resource is expanding rapidly in the United States and in other countries, as landfill space becomes scarce and expensive, and as people become more aware of the impacts they have on the environment. In ten years, composting will probably be as commonplace as recycling aluminum cans is today, both in the backyard and on an industrial scale.

Compost Bins- There are a tremendous number of options for containing your compost. Some people choose to go binless, simply building a compost pile in a convenient spot on the ground. Others build bins from materials such as recycled pallets, or two-by-fours and plywood. And, of course, there are many commercial bins on the market. A one bin system is the simplest way to make a compost pile, and is a great way to get started. If you plan to make a lot of compost, one bin may not be enough capacity, but adding another can be a simple matter. The basic idea of a one bin system is to make an enclosure for your bin that is at least three feet (or about one meter) across, although you may also choose to use no bin at all if you don't need to keep everything tidy. Possible construction materials include free wooden pallets from local businesses, lumber, cinder blocks, or even steel posts and wire fencing. Once you've made your bin (or decided not to), you might build a pile all at once if you have the ingredients, but it's more likely you'll build the pile over time as you generate compostable materials. 

Compost Materials- Now that you're ready to start making compost, you need to know what organic materials can -- and cannot -- be used in the compost bin or pile. Getting the right mixture of brown (carbon) materials, to green (nitrogeneous) materials will make a huge difference. Adding too much brown material will result in a compost pile that takes a long time to break down. Adding too much green material will result in a compost pile that is slimy and smelly that doesn't break down well. In order for your compost pile to break down quickly and efficiently you should feed it just the right balance of brown and green materials.

Improving the Compost Pile- Many of the bacteria that break down your compost need air to survive. A week or two after the pile is made these bacteria will start to die off as they start to use up the available air in the pile. This drop in the amount of bacteria will result in the compost pile cooling off a bit from it's peak temperature. When this happens it's time to turn the pile to get more air into it. The key to getting the correct moisture in your compost is to moisten the pile without making it too wet and soggy. Many people recommend adding moisture until the material is as moist as a wrung out sponge. This is far too wet. If you can squeeze water out of it, it's definitely too wet. If your pile is too wet adding some dry brown materials such as chopped leaves or hay should help dry it out. Shredding increases the surface area that the compost microbes have to work on and provides a more even distribution of air and moisture among the materials. Since it's the brown materials that take the longest amount of time to break down, shredding them significantly reduces the finishing time of compost.

Help your Work and Community Go Green

More and more people are looking at ways to reduce their ecological footprint. Most people are driving less, doing at least some basic recycling, and trying to conserve on their electricity use. As individuals, we are increasingly aware of the impact we have on the planet and our fellow humans. The next step is to bring people together in their communities and neighborhoods to build on this fundamental ideas of conservation. By building community involvement in "green" projects we can all become empowered to help save our planet! We can green not only our own lifestyles, but our streets, neighborhoods, towns, cities and, ultimately, our societies.

Here are a few ideas on how to roll up your sleeves and help your community go green:
  • Reconnect with your community: in order to help it, you need to know more about it so get involved
  • Buy and eat local to reduce food miles and keep resources in the community
  • Spread the word by organizing evening educational meetings, joining already-established organizations in your community, and getting politically active
  • Participate in local Earth Day programs; better yet, make every day Earth Day
  • Check out web sites like to find out what kinds of green activities are occurring in your community
If your company is only a light shade of green at this point, there are small steps you and your co-workers can take darken that shade:

  • Discourage printing out copies  unless absolutely necessary and go electronic in billing, banking and more

  • Ask your company to explore telecommuting (to save on gas and other expenses)

  • Conserve energy with appliances and equipment that don't guzzle power (including light bulbs)

  • Fully participate in any recycling programs your company has in place, or start one

  • Recycle old computer equipment and peripherals

  • Quit using Styrofoam coffee cups

  • Paper
    is often a major problem in the office. By reducing your paper and reusing half-used sheets...and buying recycled content, you'll make a big difference that hardly breaks a sweat!
  • Put out some paper collection boxes -- they can be as simple as the corrugated boxes that come with the reams you buy.

  • Make a few phone calls to your city/county and find out who collects scrap paper for LOCAL recycling. Do a little research here to make a really green selection of a vendor. Some companies send your used paper to China for recycling! That's not very green. Our American paper companies also need good office papers to use in their recycling operations. Call a local printing paper distributor and see if they can connect you with paper mills who need recycled paper.

  • Pull together a few facts about recycling paper, make a creative, fun poster for your bulletin boards and for your company website...and you can then recruit more people to contribute to the boxes!

  • Monitor the collection vendor...make sure the paper is emptied and shipped out regularly so that overflow doesn't annoy anyone!

  • Measure the pounds of paper your team actually recycles. Visit with your vendor to get details about what happens to your paper.

  • Ask your purchasing agent to start buying paper with some RECYCLED content. When you create the resource...someone has to buy it!

  • See if there are ways to chop one-sided sheets into notepads...or convert copiers to automatically print of TWO-SIDES of paper. Make conservation a status thing...those who participate are noticed and appreciated!

  • Selecting An Energy Efficient Vehicle

    Driving a fuel efficient car is not only friendly to the environment, it can increase your miles per gallon (mpg) and shave hundreds off of your annual fuel costs.

    Here are the top five fuel efficient cars for 2010. These rankings are based on city mpg followed by highway MPG and MSRP.

    2010 Toyota Prius2010 Toyota Prius- When it comes to going green these days, the 2010 Toyota Prius is truly unlike any other car. Boasting the best fuel economy of any mass produced car on the market, eco-friendly materials and insanely low emissions, the 2010 Toyota Prius is the smartest green car anywhere. The Prius gets 51 mpg in the city and 48 mpg on the highway. The average cost for the Prius is $21,400 to $28,070. 2010 Ford Fusion hybrid2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid- The Fusion Hybrid is the sister car to the Mercury Milan Hybrid and as a midsize sedan has more power than the Prius, Insight and Civic Hybrid. The Fusion Hybrid derives its power from a 2.5-liter, 156-horsepower four-cylinder gas engine, which is paired to a electric motor, combining for 191 net horsepower. Most hybrids can travel up to 25 mph on electricity alone, which is admirable; however, the Fusion Hybrid can travel up to 47 mph on electric power. Not only does the Fusion Hybrid have ample power, but best-in-class fuel economy with 41 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The average cost of the Fusion Hybrid is $27,625.
    2010 Mercury Milan car2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid- The Milan Hybrid is Mercury’s first hybrid passenger car and is the sister car to the Ford Fusion Hybrid and has more power than the Prius, Insight and Civic Hybrid.  The Milan Hybrid derives its power from a 2.5-liter, 156-horsepower four-cylinder gas engine, which is paired to a electric motor combining for 191 net horsepower.   Most hybrids can travel up to 25 mph on electricity alone, which is admirable; however, the Milan Hybrid can travel up to 47 mph on electric power.  Not only does the Milan Hybrid have ample power, but best-in-class fuel economy with 41 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The average cost for the Mercury Milan Hybrid is $27,855.

    2010 Honda Civic Hybrid- If you’re looking for off the charts fuel economy and minimal carbon dioxide emissions at a reasonable price, then you’re going to love the 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid. This high-tech power package earned the 2010 Civic Hybrid the Advanced Technology Partial-Zero Emissions Vehicles (AT-PZEV) rating from the EPA. Fuel economy is rated at 40 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway and your carbon footprint is so low with this car, it should be called a toe print. Highway fuel economy is ahead of the sedan crowd, except the mighty Prius. The 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid gets 41 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The average cost for the 2010 Honda Civic Hybrid is $23,650 to $23,800.

    2010 Honda insight car2010 Honda Insight- The all-new Honda Insight features the lowest sticker price of any hybrid on the market as well as several nifty gadgets like the Eco Guide display that lets you earn five digital plants with leaves that grow if you drive green enough. At a time when driving green costs a lot of green, the all-new 2010 Honda Insight is the most affordable and one of the most fuel efficient vehicles on the market. Featuring a Prius-like design and outstanding fuel economy, the all-new 2010 Honda Insight is not only the least expensive hybrid on the market, but a fun little car with loads of personality. Go green and save green with the Honda Insight. The Honda Insight is back and better than ever with a remarkable 40 mpg in the city and 43 mpg on the highway. The average cost for the 2010 Honda Insight is $19,800 to $21,300.
    If you purchase an energy-efficient product or renewable energy system for your home, you may be eligible for a federal tax credit. On February 17, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009. This bill extends and modifies the tax credits for windows, doors, and skylights established in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The following guidance is not intended as legal advice, and you should consult a tax professional with specific questions.

    Purchases that qualify the tax credit include: energy-efficient doors and windows, insulation, air conditioners, furnaces, heat pumps and boilers.
  • Exterior windows: Includes skylights and storm windows.

  • Insulation, exterior doors, or roofs: Includes seals to limit air infiltration, such as caulk, weather stripping, and foam sealants, as well as storm doors.

  • Central air conditioner, heat pump, furnace, boiler, water heater, or biomass (e.g. corn) stove: Starting in 2009, geothermal heat pumps are instead eligible for a separate tax credit

  • These purchases made between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010 are eligible for a tax credit equal to 30 percent of the product cost. There is a lifetime cap of $1,500 for the credit. That means if you spend $5,000 on new windows this year and claim a $1,500 tax credit on your 2009 tax return, you won't be able to claim an additional credit in 2010.

    This is a more generous credit than the one that was available in 2006 and 2007, which covered 10% of the costs, up to a lifetime cap of $500. The old credits also contained individual caps, such as a $200 limit on new windows. With the new credits, you can claim 30% of all your energy-efficient costs, up to the lifetime cap.

    For windows, doors, insulation and other similar projects that tighten up the "shell" of your home, the credit is limited to the cost of materials. However, if you buy a new air conditioner, furnace, heat pump or boiler that meets the energy-efficient guidelines, you can include the cost of installation in calculating the credit.
    Only improvements to your primary residence qualify for the credits. Windows, doors, insulation, and roofs must be expected to last at least five years (a two-year warranty is sufficient to demonstrate this).
    In addition, taxpayers who are subject to the alternative minimum tax  will be able to claim the credits!

    Starting in 2009, homeowners who install solar water heaters, geothermal heat pumps and wind energy systems are eligible for a tax credit of up to 30% of the cost, with no caps. Previously, caps on these types of projects ranged from $2,000 to $4,000. These tax credits are available through 2016, and both labor and materials qualify.

    Hybrid Tax Break-
    The economic stimulus package also contained a provision that could expand the number of taxpayers eligible for a tax break on hybrid vehicles. Taxpayers who purchase an IRS-certified hybrid — a vehicle that combines an electric motor with a gas engine — are eligible for tax credits ranging from $250 to $3,000, depending on the type of vehicle. Once a manufacturer has sold 60,000 hybrid vehicles, the credit phases out and gradually disappears. Toyota and Honda hybrids are no longer eligible for the tax credit.

    Businesses (and, indirectly, governments and nonprofit groups) also can get the tax credit for purchasing hybrid and diesel vehicles. Businesses have similar credits for geothermal heat pumps, solar equipment, and fuel cells. Tax deductions for efficient commercial buildings and for combined heat and power systems are available to businesses as well.

    Saving Energy In the Home

    Did you know that the typical U.S. family spends about $1,900 a year on home utility bills? Unfortunately, a large portion of that energy is wasted. And each year, electricity generated by fossil fuels for a single home puts more carbon dioxide into the air than two average cars.

    Shut Down Your Computer-Though there is a small surge in energy when a computer starts up, this small amount of energy is still less than the energy used when a computer is running for long periods of time. For energy savings and convenience, consider turning off
    • the monitor if you aren't going to use your PC for more than 20 minutes
    • both the CPU and monitor if you're not going to use your PC for more than 2 hours.
    Make sure your monitors, printers, and other accessories are on a power strip/surge protector. When this equipment is not in use for extended periods, turn off the switch on the power strip to prevent them from drawing power even when shut off. If you don't use a power strip, unplug extra equipment when it's not in use. Many PCs available today come with a power-down or sleep mode feature for the CPU and monitor. ENERGY STAR® computers power down to a sleep mode that consume 15 Watts or less power, which is around 70% less electricity than a computer without power management features. ENERGY STAR monitors have the capability to power down into two successive "sleep" modes. In the first, the monitor energy consumption is less than or equal to 15 Watts, and in the second, power consumption reduces to 8 Watts, which is less than 10% of its operating power consumption.

    Seal Air leaks- Warm air leaking into your home during the summer and out of your home during the winter can waste a lot of your energy dollars. One of the quickest dollar-saving tasks you can do is caulk, seal, and weather strip all seams, cracks, and openings to the outside. You can save on your heating and cooling bill by reducing the air leaks in your home. Test your home for air tightness. On a windy day, carefully hold a lit incense stick or a smoke pen next to your windows, doors, electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures, attic hatches, and other locations where there is a possible air path to the outside. If the smoke stream travels horizontally, you have located an air leak that may need caulking, sealing, or weatherstripping.

    Lighting-  Making improvements to your lighting is one of the fastest ways to cut your energy bills. An average household dedicates 11% of its energy budget to lighting. Using new lighting technologies can reduce lighting energy use in your home by 50% to 75%. Advances in lighting controls offer further energy savings by reducing the amount of time lights are on but not being used. Use linear fluorescent tubes and energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) in fixtures throughout your home to provide high-quality and high-efficiency lighting. Fluorescent lamps are much more efficient than incandescent (standard) bulbs and last about 6 to 12 times longer.

    Change your Home Thermostat
    - Install a programmable thermostat to keep your house comfortably warm in the winter and comfortably cool in the summer. We have our thermostat to run at a higher temperature during the day when when no one is home and then an hour before we arrive home it begins cooling down the house. In the Florida winters we have the heat set to come on shortly before we get up. Our thermostat also has a button that you can push when you are at home, that makes the A/C run more when you are at home and less when you are not there. I had this thermostat installed  in the middle of summer and noticed my electric bill went down over $30 a month. The thermostat costs about $80 so it quickly paid for itself!


    Xeriscaping is a conceptual form of gardening that uses drought-tolerant plants and grasses to beautify a home or business. The term Xeriscape was coined by the Front Range Xeriscape Task Force of Denver Department in 1978 as a way to promote water efficient landscaping. The name Xeriscape is a registered trademark of Denver Water. The root word Xeros is from the Greek language and means dry. Xeros was combined with the term landscape, which means to modify land. Xeriscape gardening is varied and beautiful no matter the location. It does not mean gardening with only cacti, succulents and rock. It means to landscape a garden with plants that use lesser amounts of water to help people lower their water bill and reduce maintenance. If it were better understood, xeriscaping and drought tolerant design would be practiced more often than it already is. Xeriscape based design can be very beautiful and generally requires less water, fertilizer, maintenance, and pest control than traditional landscaping. And, of course, using less of these will save you time and money. The principles of xeriscaping address the areas of slope, plants, plant groups, watering methods, and soil. And because xeric design is based on principles, shape and other design aspects can be based on and used for any design style.

    An environmental- friendly yard doesn’t merely offer a beautiful landscape, it also becomes an asset to the environment, protecting natural resources and preserving your area's unique beauty. Recognizing that the home landscape is part of a larger natural system will help in creating a environmental-friendly yard. Environmental friendly landscaping can be considered an expansion of Xeriscape. An environmental-friendly yard goes beyond Xeriscape, to better fit your unique geography. It includes best management practices concerning storm water runoff and living on a waterfront. A properly maintained environmentally-friendly yard can help homeowners conserve water and reduce pollution of water resources.

    Native environmental friendly landscaping encourages the use of native plants in landscaping. These plants are uniquely adapted to grow in your area. Natives generally require little watering once established, and are naturally pest resistant, which means less use of expensive and toxic chemicals. So by using native plants we conserve water and reduce pollution while maintaining a healthy landscape. The patterns of sun and shade in your yard affect where plants will grow best. Shading by trees can also play a big part in shrinking your energy bill.

    Creating a environmentally-friendly landscape is simple - but first you need to get to know your yard. Step back, look around and take inventory of your landscape. Now is the time to learn about your soil, drainage patterns, and the sunny and shady areas on your property. Knowing these facts will make it easier to determine which plants will work best in your landscape. When you evaluate your site, remember that characteristics may differ depending on the location, time of day and season.
    The pH (acidity/alkalinity) of a property's soils will also determine what plants are best suited for your yard. This isn't complicated, but it is important to understand. In general, sandy coastal areas are usually alkaline (high pH). Varying levels of pH on the same property are also very common. Over time, features such as concrete slab foundations, brick, mortar, plaster and other materials can affect soil pH, because they leach alkaline compounds into the surrounding soils. You can test your soil with a purchased kit or have it tested at the County Extension office.

    Drainage is another key factor to getting the most out of your hard work and giving your xeriscape the best chance to thrive. Understanding the way water drains from your yard will help you determine the right plant for the right place. Note that the low-lying areas on your property collect water naturally. If you choose not to build up low spots that have slow drainage, you can use those areas to your advantage by planting water-loving wetland plants or cypress trees there. Of course, these plantings should not interfere with swales. Swales, berms and retention areas play a key role in collecting, directing, and filtering storm water runoff. These features work together to protect property and neighborhoods from flooding.

    Recycling Basics

    Turning a new leaf to becoming “green” can seem overwhelming. But we’re all adding to global warming by not recycling. Diverting materials from landfills and incinerators is easier than you think. According to the EPA, recycling cuts global warming pollution by the equivalent of removing 39.6 million passenger cars from the road. The average American uses 650 pounds of paper each year – 100 million tons of wood could be saved each year if all that paper was recycled.  About 80% of what Americans throw away is recyclable, yet our recycling rate is only 28%.  If all of our newspapers were recycled, we could save about 250 million trees each year! If every American recycled just one-tenth of their newspapers, we could save about 25 million trees each year. Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours. In spite of this, Americans throw away enough aluminum to rebuild our entire commercial fleet of airplanes every three months! To get everyone in the spirit of recycling Innovative improvements has some simple and easy to do recycling tips that can be incorporated into your daily life.

    Recycling means a lot more than bringing your newspapers and cans to the curb. Truly successful recycling involves minimizing waste along the entire life cycle of a product, from acquiring raw materials to manufacturing, using and disposing of a product. Most environmental impacts associated with the products we buy occur before we open the package, so buying products made from recycled materials is just as important as sorting waste into the right bins. 

    Charity and nearly new shops, jumble sales and community schemes are good places to donate or sell second hand clothes, toys and furniture. It is also well worth shopping at second hand outlets.
    Bring your own reusable bags to local stores. Keep a ceramic mug for water or coffee at work rather than using disposable paper or plastic foam cups. Most cities in the United States have clean, drinkable water, so use tap water (you can filter it if you'd like) and refillable water bottles instead of buying bottled water. 

    The best environmental choice is to repair, restore or adapt a product you already have. You may need professional help but it could still be cheaper than something new - half of electrical goods left at dumps work or require only very basic repairs.
    Paper, plastic, glass and cans aren't the only items that should be diverted from incinerators and landfills. Reduce the environmental impacts of organic waste by composting food scraps, and by leaving short grass clippings on lawns to decompose.  Take advantage of manufacturer take-back programs for your unwanted electronics.
    Our increased reliance on personal technology such as laptops, cell phones, PDAs, computer monitors, and printers  has resulted in vast quantities of garbage in landfills that could have been reused or recycled.   
    Depending on where you live and the products you want to recycle, you can:
    • Find an e-waste collection event in your town
    • Send your used tech stuff back to the manufacturer
    • Head to a nearby retailer that accepts old electronics
    You may also be able to take advantage of the United States Postal Service's free e-waste recycling program. As of 2008, 1,500 post offices will provide free envelopes for you to mail back small electronics such as inkjet cartridges, PDAs, digital cameras and MP3 players. USPS started the program in 10 areas across the country, including Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and San Diego, but may expand it to other regions if it proves successful.