Friday, November 21, 2014

#BringYourOwn

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It's no secret that I'm a big supporter of the Klean Kanteen brand of reusable bottles. We own six of them. I take one to work, they come to every Festival International, they get in the spirit of Mardi Gras, and I've toted them along on vacations in San Francisco and Hawaii.



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

bringing recycling to your workplace

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Because we all love it so much, our workplaces are where we spend basically the second largest chunk of our time. And Lord knows, we can go through some paper and plastic during our days at work.

So, you might be wondering, how do you bring recycling and conservation to work? Start small.

At my former workplace, I started by hoarding my waste paper and soft drink cans in a desk drawer during the week, then bringing them home to put in our curbside bin. It worked for awhile, and then I acquired a business curbside bin from the recycling company for our office. Over the years, I always assumed the responsibility for getting the recyclables from inside the office to the bin, and the bin to the curb.



Do you have a lot of scrap paper that's still usable? Three-hole punch the sheets and stick them in a spare binder to create a salvaged notebook!

In my current workplace, I've gone back to keeping a small recycling bin under my desk, and take turns bringing home the larger bin in our department's copy room. And of course, I regularly have more recyclables than actual trash. (My trash basically consists of a green tea bag every morning.) I love that I'm not the only one collecting paper, water bottles and cardboard boxes!


But after working on the beginner level, I'm already dreaming up ways to go bigger. My company is pretty large, and recycling on a larger scale would really make an impact. Small bins throughout offices, larger bins for each department and weekly collection...it's what a girl dreams of! (Or, okay, just the weird compulsive litter-picker upper writing this.)

The key to getting your company on board with recycling is to do your research, figure out who to talk to and create a plan. Start with yourself, make recycling a habit and become the spokesperson, if you will.


Find out who does your trash collection and find out if they also do recycling. A good strategy in creating your recycling plan is to figure out the feasibility of adding recycling collection to the existing trash collection - what are the costs? Can you score recycling bins for your office at a good price? Are you willing to educate everyone on what's recyclable and what's not? What about confidential documents - should they just be trashed, or do you have a shredder? Draft your plan (then read over it and edit! Writer tips. You're welcome.)

Once you have your plan, figure out who to talk to within your company that can make a decision. Meet with them and show them your plan and make your case. Because recycling is a good idea for all companies, you should get a Yes!

Friday, November 14, 2014

cold weather, hot chocolate

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If you haven't noticed yet, it's cold outside. Perfect excuse for scarves, boots and gumbo overloading!


Business first...make sure your home is also bundled up and winterized with these tips from last year.

Fun next...throw another log on the bonfire, grab a blanket and some hot chocolate and fire up this Eco Cajun Spotify playlist, Cold Weather, Hot Chocolate!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

rain barrel art with project front yard + local high schools

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In an effort to promote a more beautiful Lafayette, Project Front Yard partnered with Lafayette Utilities System and asked local high schools to participate in public art contest using rain barrels. The barrels are on display at City Hall on St. Landry Street until this Friday, November 14.



https://www.facebook.com/projectfrontyard

If you can't make it by City Hall, you can see photos of each barrel on the voting page! You have until Friday, November 14 at noon to cast your vote. And let's face it, this vote is way more fun than most!

Monday, November 10, 2014

november 15 is america recycles day!

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Put down your trash and mark your calendars for this Saturday, November 15: America Recycles Day! In the same way I like to say I act as if every day were Earth Day, I also tend to act as if every day were America Recycles Day.


Organized by Keep America Beautiful in partnership with Waste Management, AMCOR, Johnson & Johnson, Northrop Grumman, Pilot and the American Chemistry Council, America Recycles Day aims to bring recycling education and action to the country in fun ways.

This year, America Recycles Day focuses on what can be recycled. With the national recycling rate slightly above 34 percent, Americans have the opportunity to capture more material for recycling by recycling correctly. Confusion about what can be recycled curbside is among the common barriers to recycling more.

http://iwanttoberecycled.org

Visit the America Recycles Day website to learn more and find local events.

Another fun way to get involved on a personal level is to enter the ARD #recyclingselfie contest. You've got 10 days left to enter the contest, simply by posting a recycling selfie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr and tagging it with #recyclingselfie.

Visit IWantToBeRecycled.org to find your nearest recycling center, and learn the facts about what materials can be recycled and what they can become in their new lives.

How do you plan to take part in America Recycles Day on Saturday?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

a little about landfills

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The purpose of recycling is to keep as much still-usable trash out of landfills as possible. With landfills being large, smelly waste sites around the world, understanding them can help put the importance of recycling into perspective.

Thanks to lots of regulation, landfills these days are not simply holes in the ground filled with trash, as they were for many years. Solid waste landfills must be designed to protect the environment from contaminants that can be present in the solid waste stream.

Today's landfills are technologically advanced and have even become a reliable source for alternative energy as landfill gases are tapped and sold to businesses and municipalities (which is the case with New York's Freshkills Park.) Over time, the trash in the landfills produces and emits methane gas. By harvesting the methane emitting from Fresh Kills, the Sanitation Department is producing enough energy to heat approximately 22,000 homes.

Municipal solid waste landfills receive household waste, non-hazardous sludge, industrial solid waste and construction and demolition debris. All MSWLFs must comply with the federal or equivalent state regulations. Federal standards include location restrictions, composite liners requirements, leachate collection and removal systems, operating practices, groundwater monitoring requirements, closure and post-closure care requirements, corrective action provisions and financial assurance.

The composite liners requirements involve a flexible membrane overlaying two feet of compacted clay soil lining the bottom and sides of the landfill, protect groundwater and the underlying soil from leachate (chemicals or other harmful materials) releases.

Nearly all municipal landfills are required to monitor the underlying groundwater for contamination during their active life and post-closure care period. The groundwater monitoring system consists of a series of wells placed upgradient and downgradient of the landfill.

Special waste items include household appliances, including ones that use refrigerants, which are harmful to the environment. Municipal landfills must follow special procedures when disposing of these items.

The EPA keeps their regulations posted online. They also discuss the effects of landfills on public health, including subsurface migration, surface emissions/air pollution and odor nuisance. Since landfill gases contain approximately 50 percent methane, it is possible for the gases to travel underground, accumulate in enclosed structures and ignite. Incidences of subsurface migration have caused fires and explosions on both landfill property and private property.

Possibly the biggest health and environmental concerns are related to the uncontrolled surface emissions of landfill gases into the air. Carbon dioxide, methane, volatile organic compounds, hazardous air pollutants and odorous compounds can negatively affect public health and the environment. For example, carbon dioxide and methane are greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change. 

Beyond household or commercial solid waste, construction waste is a very large component of trash. One of the local waste companies, Angco Disposal, handles construction site waste with large dumpsters and manages proper disposal.

Materials that cannot go into solid waste landfills include common household items such as paints, cleaners/chemicals, motor oil, batteries and pesticides. These hazardous waste items can be dangerous to our health and the environment. This is why saving hazardous materials for Lafayette's Household Chemical Collection Day is so important! Don't throw it into your regular trash.

You may think that throwing something away is easier than recycling it, but just as much care should go into proper disposal whether it's thrown away or recycled. Even though they are strictly regulated, iIt's important to keep harmful chemicals and materials out of landfills. With the popularity of single-stream recycling, it takes the same amount of effort to place the proper items in a recycling bin. It's important to know what can be accepted in your trashcan or recycling bin, and what is not accepted that must be specially collected.



As a reminder that there's only so much land we have to work with, lots of famous sites are built on top of landfills. San Francisco's Marina District; Boston's Millennium Park (championed by the late former mayor Thomas Menino), Logan Airport and parts of Beacon Hill; Cleveland Municipal Stadium; and New York's Freshkills Park are just a few landmarks making their home on top of former landfills.


Do we really want to live so much among our trash? By keeping our waste down, we can avoid the need for expanding landfills.

Curious where Louisiana's landfills are located? There are 26 Type I and Type II landfills around the state, with Type I classified for industrial solid waste and Type II classified for residential or commercial solid waste.

One final fun fact: According to the University of Southern Indiana, the U.S. is the number one trash-producing country in the world at 1,609 pounds per person per year. This means that 5% of the world's people generate 40% of the world's waste.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

bye chemicals!

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I hope that you were able to bring your chemicals to Cajun Field last week, but if not, I hope you're preparing for the spring collection!


We saw tons of cars in line, waiting to drop off their paint and other household chemicals. LCG Environmental Quality Manager Mark Pope says that the household collection day has been going on for about 22 years now. This year, he says he saw 700 cars come through the line, more than on previous collection days.


All workers are properly trained in chemical disposal, to ensure that no spills or accidents happen.


About 28.5 tons of waste were collected, free of charge to residents. As much of the waste as possible is recycled or repurposed in various ways, so it can be spared from landfills. "For example, latex paint that is still potent is collected and goes to cement manufacturers to be used as a stabilizer in concrete mix," says Pope. "Mercury is recycled. And chemicals that have a “BTU value” (i.e., British Thermal Unit, meaning they contain energy potential) are sent to be stabilized and properly mixed (“fuel blending”) to be sold as an energy source for things such as cement kilns."

The next household chemical collection day will be held next spring at Cajun Field.