Posts filed under ‘Natural Resources’
34 households in 6 communities are taking on the Challenge of reducing their waste, while also looking to make sure they recycle everything they can.
After establishing a baseline trash and recycling output in the first week, the households then entered the Reduction Phase of the competition, where they are looking at ways to reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot!
This project has brought out the best in green behaviors for the over 125 participants. As of this publication, the households have already reduced their trash by 40% and increased their recycling by 24%, with two weeks to go!
WCR is running this project with the dual goal of community waste reduction and recycling education and gathering information on the easiest and most efficient ways households can reduce their waste.
The project will come to a conclusion the weekend before America Recycle’s Day, when the winning household and team will be determined and awarded at the WCR Semi-Annual Recycling Open House.
You can follow the action right now at the exclusive Challenge website: www.ReduceYourWasteStream.org
Earth Day may be over, but Waukesha County continues to provide environmental education programs all year long!
On May 8th, the Waukesha County Water Conservation Coalition is hosting it’s 1st Annual Water and Energy Efficiency Expo at the Waukesha County Exposition Center.
With exhibits, demos, stages and the kids zone, there is plenty of fun and education available for the whole family!
Radio Disney will even be hand doing their fun Backyard Show for kids of all ages!
At 10:00 am, keynote speaker Melinda Myers will be presenting on green gardening for Earth friendly techniques that are cost effective and time saving. She will also be available after speaking to meet and greet and sign copies of her book!
For more information, visit www.wisconsinwaterwise.org/
Hope to see you there!
Be sure to remember Mother Earth on your shopping list this year! What do you get the planet that has everything? Fortunately for all of us, Mother Earth doesn’t have expensive taste. She just wants all of us to do a little more to show we care.
Mother Earth has been working really hard this year to keep up with all of the changes happening in her life. Give her a break and let her sleep a little longer in the dark these days: always turn off lights in unoccupied rooms around your home and use less lighting for holiday decorations.
She also appreciates the crisp cool air of the holiday season so be sure to keep the thermostat down and instead possibly wear some of the sweaters you received as gifts in past years.
Nothing makes Mother Earth smile like a batch of freshly baked holiday compost soil. Consider giving Mother Earth the gift of starting a compost bin or pile in your yard or where you work or go to school. Much of your holiday waste could be composted instead of trashed including your tree, food waste, organic decorations, and shredded paper.
Another great idea for Mother Earth is to treat her to a facial! Mother Earth always loves to be pampered with new native gardens and trees naturally landscaped to enhance her beauty.
Mother Earth has also been very generous, digging into her savings account the last several years to let us manufacture new things out of natural resources. So be sure to recycle the stuff we already have and let Mother Earth keep some savings to splurge on herself!
Remember, you can’t go wrong with anything green, organic, efficient, resourceful, or that does less to stress her out.
If nothing else, Mother Earth always appreciates a hug!
Paper use is, at times, astounding. The average American uses 700 pounds of paper per year, which is over 7 trees per person. There are some very easy things you can do to reduce your paper use.
- Stop getting junk mail. This probably won’t be much of a burden. Simply visit Waukesha County’s website to learn how to get off of junk mail lists. Think this won’t make a difference? Every person in our country gets about 250 pieces of unsolicited mail every year, and in the course of a lifetime, you’ll spend about 8 months sorting through it! This easy fix saves time and money. As a quick reminder: if you do get junk mail it is recyclable. Even paper envelopes with plastic windows belong in your blue bin, not the trash.
- Cool as the other side of the paper. Set your printers at work and home to print duplex. Work printers usually have this option, which is easily set. At home, you may need to feed your paper through the printer twice. This post by TechSoup will walk you through the duplexing do-si-do whether you have a duplexing printer or not. Duplexing just not possible? Use the other side of the paper for scratch paper. I like using junk mail envelopes for grocery lists, for example. I just keep all the coupons for that week in the envelope.
- Make paper reduction automatic. Set up automatic bill pay through your bank or the companies that send you bills. Everyone saves postage and paper, and everyone is happy.
- Give wrapping the axe. Wrapping paper is a huge use of paper products. Consider using more creative wrapping that is reusable, like wrapping a kitchen gift in towels or use reusable gift boxes. Need some ideas? I kept track of gifts & how I wrapped them for the holiday season in 2008 and 2007.
- Use & Reuse. Whenever possible, use reusable plates, cups, and napkins, and rags for cleaning. By avoiding single-use paper products you can save yourself a lot of money as well as a lot of paper.
Waukesha County’s sustainability program has a lot of great information about reducing paper use at work.
So why not give it a try? This week, try to reduce your paper use. What ideas worked for you? What other ideas do you have? I’d love to hear about them!
Last week we had a great group of local teachers take a course through the Sally Ride Academy. It was called Resources In and Outside the Classroom: Differentiating instruction in the environmental education classroom. Long title, interesting topic. Needless to say, the week flew by. Here are a few of the highlights.
We introduced natural resources and the importance of covering this topic with students. If we don’t know where things are coming from and what ecosystems we are damaging by our use of items there is less motivation to reduce and reuse. Many adults don’t know that bauxite is the ore used to make aluminum and that it is devastating to the Brazilian and Jamaican rainforests. Also coltan, which mostly comes from the Congo, is endangering the mountain gorillas. If you don’t care about the gorillas, its also important to note that coltan is usually mined by hand by children under duress. One teacher said at the end of the day, “Before today I didn’t know where I could fit natural resources into my curriculum, now I don’t know where it wouldn’t fit!” For a look at global CO2 production, visit breathing earth, which also has a wonderful carbon footprint quiz.
Field trips to the Waukesha County Materials Recycling Facility and Retzer Nature Center. Once the importance of natural resources was covered, we looked at recycling as a way to save natural resources, energy, and money. Many of the teachers had never been to the MRF and it was an eye-opening trip! If you have a group in Waukesha County that would like to take a free tour of our facility, visit our website to learn more! Once we saw the impacts of recycling we talked about the amount of food and other biodegradable items that we waste. Natures way of recycling these items can be sped up through composting. After visiting the compost demonstration area at Retzer Nature Center everyone realized how easy it is to compost and several teachers are interested in starting their own bins either at home or at school.
Compost is so important because it is a great way to bolster the overall health of another huge natural resource: the soil. Everything that is alive on the planet depends on soil. We had a lot of fun activities to look at soil, including core samples and basic soil testing experiments. A wide variety of information on soils can be found at the NRCS website or on Waukesha County’s GIS mapping system. There are several hundred soils just in Waukesha County, each with their benefits and problems.
One of the biggest threats to good soil is erosion. We have a model that shows erosion as well as point and non-point source pollution that can be checked out for use by Waukesha County teachers once they have been trained on its use. This activity was a lot of fun and we also showed how compost is the up and coming way to slow erosion and water pollution. Erosion is bad not only because it quickly washes away good soil that took a very long time to form, but it also pollutes water ways. This transitioned us onto topics of water pollution and using a groundwater model.
Although it may seem like natural resources, compost, recycling, erosion, soil, and water have very little in common, they all link together to assist us in having a healthy environment. If you have any questions about presentations, participating in a future workshop, or any other questions related to educational resources for local teachers, please e-mail me!
Clean up for fall and do a good thing for the environment by bringing your pots to Boerner Botanical Gardens for recycling.
When: September 24-26, 2009; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Place: SE corner of Boerner Botanical Gardens parking lot,
9400 Boerner Drive, Hales Corners, WI 53130
Any color and size of pots with recycling number (the number in a triangle on the bottom of the pot) #2, #5 and #6 pots, polystyrene cell packs and trays, hanging baskets, plastic landscape edging, greenhouse poly film, irrigation drip tape, and plastic fertilizer and mulch bags (empty, of course). These plastics will be ground, pelletized and used by U.S. manufacturers to create plastic lumber.
What do I do now?
• Knock out all dirt and debris before bringing plastics to Boerner.
• Remove metal hangers, staples and other foreign objects. (Paper & plastic labels are ok.)
• Sort and stack by pot size and recycling number.
• Separate pots with no recycling number and sort by size.
What do I need to do at Boerner?
Please remove your plastics from your vehicle, sort and stack them in the appropriate areas.
What is the cost?
Recycling is free for homeowners, although donations to cover costs are welcome.
For businesses, the cost is $30 for one truckload (any size truck); $60 for unlimited loads. This charge helps us defray costs for shipping and materials. For businesses and municipalities who bring pots sorted by recycling number, stacked 8 feet high on pallets and shrink wrapped, the fees will be waived.
What if this post doesn’t answer all of my questions?
For more information contact Shirley Dommer Walczak, Gardens Director, 414-525-5603 or Patti Peltier, UW-Extension Horticulture Center at Boerner Botanical Gardens, 414-525-5638.
Volunteers are needed and appreciated! Please help.
An interesting editorial in the La Crosse Tribune (found via the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voter’s blog) talks about the importance of protecting our natural resources, like groundwater. I would add the importance of residents participating in their local recycling program as a way to protect natural resources.
Wisconsin requires recycling by banning certain items from landfills. These include items Waukesha residents can recycle in their curbside bins:
- plastic bottles & jugs (#1′s and #2′s)
- steel cans
- aluminum cans
Other items including grass clippings, tires, and motor oil are also banned from landfills. By recycling these items, residents protect natural resources like
- iron ore
- divers forests of trees
By reducing the demand for these natural resources we insure that the habitats effected by gathering these resources stay intact. Two key habitats affected include the rain forests (bauxite) and temperate and boreal forests (trees used for paper products).
Despite the fact that recycling is such an easy way for residents to ease the strain on our natural resources, Wisconsin’s recycling rate hovers around 35%. The national recycling rate for plastic #1 bottles (i.e. soda & water bottles) is an abysmal 23%. As we all focus on Earth Day festivities this week and the importance of saving natural resources, consider a small action to make everyday Earth Day and make sure you recycle 100% of what you can.
Want to do one better? Tell a friend about the importance of recycling. I’d love to hear ideas: how do you share recycling with those you know?
- There are currently 70 operating, licensed landfills in WI, which is down from 1,158 in 1980. These landfills took in 10.8 million tons of solid waste. 1/5 of all waste landfilled in 2007 was from other states. Trash is down 3.2% in 2007 from 2006. 2008 numbers were not in this part of the report.
- Over 11,000 Wisconsin businesses, schools, and government institutions create hazardous waste each year.
- 1,061 different recycling programs in the state (a.k.a. Responsible Units)
- 411,047 tons of paper and containers were recycled by residential recycling programs in 2007. When businesses are included, this number rises to over 1 million tons of recyclables. This is the equivalent of taking 657,480 cars off the road for the year.
- It was a big year for construction & demolition waste. UW-Whitewater while demolishing old buildings and constructing a new business building recycled over 14,000 tons of materials. The demolition recycling rate was at 98%! Also, the Marquette Interchange project reused fly ash and some other industrial waste material to reduce costs and the environmental impact of road construction projects. There is also a growing mechanism to support asphalt shingle recycling.
Closer to Home
- Waukesha County processed 22,662 tons of residential recyclables. That saved enough energy to power 2,281 homes for 2008.
- Recycling earns your municipality money! In 2008, recycling dividends totaled $879,246.
- Over 2,000 people visited the Materials Recycling Facility. Schedule your tour today by calling 262.896.8300 if you are a community group, school group, or scout troop in Waukesha County.
- If you can’t make it to our facility, let us come to you! In 2008 our staff completed 63 presentations.
- Collected a total of 200,270 pounds of hazardous waste, a 1% increase compared to last year.
What is on our agenda for this year?
- We would love to inform your organization about recycling, green gardening practices with less pesticide use, green cleaning presentations, composting, and more.
- We are planning several Boy Scout Merit Badge Workshops.
- We will have a new traveling trunk to supplement the LEAF curriculum. If you are a teacher, visit our teacher page at www.waukeshacounty.gov/EnvironmentalEd to stay up to date with all of our new curriculum assistance and to download lessons that are already currently available.
- And tons more! Make sure to stay tuned!
This video follows 2 students through their day to show ways that we can all save energy and reduce trash.
Recently I talked about the most popular type of paper discarded, corrugated boxes. Over 30 million tons of corrugated boxes are disposed of each year. After talking to some great people here at the AROW (Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin) Conference, I thought I would take a quick look at the other end of the spectrum: phone books.
Each year directories make up 3/10 of 1% of our paper waste, according to the EPA. While it is relatively a small amount of what we discard, like all small things, the directories do add up. Approximately 500 million directories, which includes everything from the big directories you get delivered to your home down to the little directory your school or organization prints for its members, are printed every year. Therefore, it is very important to know that your phone book is completely recyclable.
Reduce. If you wish to no longer receive phone directories, contact the companies to have your name removed from their mailing lists. There are many ways of accessing the information, like apps for your cell phone and the like.
Reuse. I’m not sure about reuse strategies for phone books. Maybe a foot rest? Wrapping paper? Just a thought.
Recycle. Phone books are completely recyclable. If you are one of the 77% of Americans who do use a printed copy of the Yellow Pages to get your information, remember its final resting place is in your blue bin. The industry has worked to make sure that everything about the book is recyclable. Do your part to get it in the bin.
Rebuy. According to the Yellow Pages, they produce directories from recycled paper waste and wood fiber waste. Using recycled paper helps create strong recycling markets. Do your part and purchase paper made with recycled content (post-consumer is best!).