Posts filed under ‘Plastic’
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?
mk. With all the hulabaloo about some other famous birthdays this week, I figured I would take a moment to honor Thomas Malthus. Basically, he theorized that population could grow faster than our ability to produce enough food to support said growing population. Awesome. He influenced such people as Charles Darwin and John Maynard Keynes. Have I mentioned that (sans mascot costume) I am taking an Environmental Economics class this semester? I am assuming we will get to the Malthusian Catastrophe at some point. Basically, this guys huge theory that gets him all famous is that he thinks eventually we will run out of stuff to fulfill the needs of people. This is oversimplified, of course.
Takeaway point? Because, yes, I indeed have one.
Don’t use up more resources than you need to. Why speed up this guy’s theory?
Reduce. For every trash can of garbage (or bin of recyclables) you put on your curb, around 70 other trash cans were filled just to make the stuff in your 1 garbage can! Easy ways to do this? Buy in bulk if you will use all of a product. Use a lunch box and reusable food storage containers. Get reusable bags for shopping. Get a reusable mug for coffee or a canteen for water.
Reuse. If you do end up with a plastic bag from a store, why not use it as a trash can liner rather than buying the little liners from the store? After all, Americans spend more on trash can liners than 90 other countries spend on everything. Donate items you no longer have a use for. Feeling really froggy? My favorite reuse strategies to get your garden going for spring include making seedling pots from toilet paper roll tubes and then making a little greenhouse to help the seeds grow.
Recycle. Don’t send valuable resources to the landfill where they will never again see the light of day. We landfill enough aluminum in this country to rebuild every single commercial airplane every three months! Americans throw, on average, 2,502,500 water bottles in the garbage every hour! This statistic doesn’t even count soda bottles. When people throw away these materials they are throwing away natural resources (in this case bauxite, oil, and water), energy, and the economic benefits that recycling provides (because no matter how you slice it in Waukesha, recycling makes money and trash costs money).
Three little words could help slow Malthus’ Catastrophe quite a bit.
This was just too great of an idea not to share. While recycling is great, reusing items is even better and thanks to Team Eco Etsy via EarthFirst, there are easy directions to easily make a waterproof shipping envelope.
Here is what you will need:
Last night I had the opportunity to have a pleasant evening out with my husband’s coworkers. Someone ordered a soda in a glass bottle, and everyone was quite surprised that the particular brand he was drinking was available in a glass bottle. Apparently, it is a recent development.
This raised the debate: which type of beverage container is best? It is important to note at this point in the evening, that the people my husband works with know vaguely that I work for the county, but they have no idea about the full on environmentalist, I occasionally blog as a raccoon, can rattle off really odd statistics about energy savings and economic impacts of recycling, will bring an aluminum can home to recycle it before I will throw it in the garbage version of myself. As soon as someone asked the question, the hubby glanced at me, as if to say, “don’t. just don’t.” So I kept my mouth shut – for a little bit.
The opinions all around the table were strongly held. Everyone agreed that glass was the best of all three options taste wise, but that it is more expensive and difficult to get. Plastic bottles are easier to drink out of than aluminum, especially on the go and the soda doesn’t taste like aluminum. Aluminum tastes better because the drink gets colder and doesn’t taste like plastic. I swore two people in the corner were about ready to pick dueling weapons over plastic and aluminum when I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut anymore. Consider it environmental tourettes of some sort.
Plastic and aluminum are very much the same. This is because aluminum cans are a four layered product. The aluminum can has an interior plastic liner. On the outside of the aluminum can, there is an oil based painted image, and then another layer of plastic. From what I can tell, both plastic bottles as well as the plastic liner in aluminum cans are made of PETE, or #1. If you are looking to reduce your plastic consumption, then both are a poor choice. However, glass is heavier to ship so there are ecological effects associated with glass as well.
Some humble suggestions,
Reduce: For beverages, consider buying them in concentrated form or in bulk. Feeling very DIY? Consider making your own!
Reuse: If there is a bottle return option in your area, use it! Do be careful about reusing plastic bottles yourself, though.
Recycle: All beverage containers are recyclable in your curbside recycling bin in Wisconsin. A few recycling factoids:
- Aluminum: Recycling 1 aluminum can saves 95% of the energy it would take to make the can from scratch. That is enough energy to light up a 100 watt light bulb for 4 hours!
- Plastic: We use 3,250,000 water bottles in America every hour! When you count all plastic bottles, we use 1.5 million barrels of oil a year to make those bottles. Recycling plastic saves 70% of the energy required to make the materials from scratch.
- Glass: The average American uses 140 glass bottles and jars a year. If everyone in Waukesha County recycled those bottles, we would save enough energy to light up a 100 watt light bulb for 201,600,000 hours.
It was the best of pens, it was the worst of pens. Our office had a “come hither and peruse our new products while a man in a Santa suit gives you cake to convince you it is Christmas in July” event. There was a wide array of “green” products and when people heard we were from the recycling department they really hammed it up. Products that clearly had no eco-benefit all of a sudden where green as the day is long. Greenwashing at its finest.
Now it wasn’t all bad. Some products were very cool including recycled labels for the printer, a computer recycling program, and 100% post-consumer recycled file folders. The thing I thought the coolest however, were the pens made with recycled content. Although I am sure that there are many similar pens on the market, our distributor offers both the Pilot BEGREEN (pictured on left) and the Recycology Pentel Handy-line S (pictured on right). Both were made of recycled content (up to 90% and around 50% respectively) so I thought I had instantly made my choice, but then I realized that the Handy-line highlighters and markers were refillable! Oh what is an eco-girl to do? Thanks to the fact that I talk about reducing, reusing, and recycling in my sleep (and doing them in that order) I quickly made my decision, didn’t take the huge bag of freebies I wouldn’t use, grabbed some cake to shove in my face (with a fork “made from plants” no less!), and was on my merry way. Halfway through my cake I realized that it is a really great thing that there are mainstream options that also are taking a look at being green and sustainable. I’m a teacher and school supplies have always made me giddy – these new recycled content pens make me even happier!
Do share – what is your favorite recycled content product?
Information as to the safety of plastics has been under the radar for quite some time. However, now with more widespread coverage people will hopefully be encouraged to assess their plastic use. In 1998 scientists used harsh detergents to wash plastic water bottles for lab mice. This action had the unexpected discovery of the harmful effects of BPA (bisphenol-A). This chemical mimics human hormones. At this time it was thought that only aged, damaged, scratched, or overheated plastics would leech BPA into food and beverages. However, now it is shown that some plastics are more likely to leech this chemical, even if they are not visually damaged.
Clearly, people are getting the message to reuse a drink container. This is such a better option for the environment. The environmental effect of drilling for oil, creating the plastic bottle, and finally shipping the bottle all over the world for a one-time use is ridiculous. Even so, more and more people are participating in this behavior. In 1993 per capita single serve beverage consumption of bottled water was a little over 10 gallons a person. This grew to an astonishing 22.6 gallons in 2003 (and the upward trend has continued!). Americans, on average, buy 28 billion water bottles every year. Around 80% of these end up in landfills. This is especially unfortunate because of the large waste of resources as well as the shortage of post-consumer #1 plastics for the recycling industry. Many companies who create new products like carpet are clamoring for more materials. Bottom line: if you are going to use a one-use bottle – recycle it!
So whats a girl (or boy!) to do? I guess this is just one of those events that serves as a great reminder to make sure you know what you are putting yourself into contact with.
A friend of mine and I were shopping for a baby shower gift last week. Despite the fact that I am still in denial about having friends old enough to be married and having kids (yikes!), I shelled out the extra bucks for some steel and glass baby storage food stuff. I figure the little bugger is worth it. And heck, so am I
It seems as though everyone is Irish today. We had a work party to celebrate paper reduction and everyone brought in ‘green’ food (I brought in mint brownies). Local radio stations were broadcasting at Irish pubs that had opened for business at 6 AM. I don’t think there has been this much celebrating since Christmas.
Clearly, the first thing I did this morning when I got in was to do some reconnaissance work as to what everyone brought in. We marched to the library like lemmings with our guacamole, salads, and a very yummy green chili soup… and most of us toted our wares in a plastic grocery store bag.
The amount of plastic one-use grocery store bags would make any leprechaun a little green in the face. Estimates vary widely as to how many bags we use every year. Anywhere from 500,000,000,000 to 1,000,000,000,000 (yes – that is 1 trillion) “free” bags are given away every year. To deal with this staggering problem the Irish were the first country to introduce a “plastax” which placed a 15 cent tax on all thin plastic bags back in 2002. Within 6 months, plastic bag usage was down 90%. After being in place for 6 years, the tax has risen to 29 cents and usage is down 95%. Other countries and cities have caught on. Some countries ban the bags outright. San Francisco has banned them in certain situations.
Economic & Environmental Impact:
While the bags are cheap to produce, they are very expensive to dispose of. Many bags become problematic to curbside recycling programs because typical recycling facilities are not equipped to handle these bags. People can take them to many chain stores for recycling or reuse. However, many more of these bags become litter and clog sewers and cause other problems. Also, because most bags do not get recycled American’s are throwing away around 12 million barrels of oil.(Wall Street Journal) (but last I heard we have plenty of oil and the stuff is rather cheap so I’m not too worried about that ~ yeah. right.)
What to do?
Go buy a reusable bag! There are tons of cute, big, small, plain, fancy, etc. options! The average American family uses 1,500 plastic bags a year. By reducing this number, you will have the greatest impact. If you must use a plastic bag, make sure it gets recycled. Check out your local grocery store to see if they have a collection bin. Then do a little jig, because you will know you had a huge impact.