Monday, November 28, 2011

Is this thing on?

I've been so pleased with the number of views we've been getting in the last few days. It was a slow start but things are beginning to really pick up. The problem is, I can hear the crickets churping (that's my way of saying that I haven't received any comments). I would really like to make this an interactive experience and cover topics or answer questions people are really interested in. Please comment, I'd be so happy to hear from you. Let me know how you feel about the post, ideas for future posts, questions, or just let me know that you're here. Hmm.. I will try to make it worth your while.
We will give a CRI tee shirt (Anvil Sustainable - made from recycled PET) and a recyclable drink tumbler. Using random.com a winner will be selected. To be included in the drawing please have your comment in by 12/5. Good Luck, I can't wait to hear from everyone.

One last thing.. please do not forget to include contact information so that I can get in touch with you if you are selected the winner!

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Green" up your Holidays..

So much preparation, food, and fun leads to so much waste. The Holidays are magical. A perfect time to reflect, be thankful for what you have, spend quality time with friends and family. As the family slowly filter out the bags and bags of trash remain. I have a few quick suggestions to help keep your holidays a bit "greener".

1. Recycle. It can be a pain especially with an elder family member who is not quite as familiar with the idea of recycling, You will find that keeping the paper (especially with gift boxes and wrapping paper) will help to significantly cut down on the garbage. The way to make it easiest and receive the most participation is to clearly label the bins. If they don't know where to put things they'll either trash it or the materials will get all mixed up and end up being thrown away later. A few minutes of organization will make a huge difference in its success. On a side note: a few recycling facilities are now able to utilize the #3-7 plastics for alternative fuels and other applications which would allow you to also "recycle" your plastic cups, plates and utensils (if they are completely clean of food particles). You would definitely need to check with your local recycling coordinator or facility so if they cannot accept them that they did not contaminate the other materials.

2. Don't wrap.. I know this idea of this with young children just won't fly. A young child "needs" to open a gift but do the adults? A lot of times gift bags or baskets can be just as festive, adds a bit more to the gift (especially baskets) and can be reused.

3. Sharpie your cups. If you have plastic cups that you are using (glasses can be overwhelming but an even greener step) have your guests label their cup. Add a festive spin and have a "contest" for the artistically gifted and see who creates the best holiday design.

4. Limit your plates & napkins. It may sound cheap but if you opt to have plastic ware still set places at the table or limit the amount of plates that you put out. If the guest has a plate at their seat they will use and typically reuse that same plate if they return for seconds. If there is a huge stock of plates & napkins out on the table it makes it much easier to throw out the old and get a new one. Stash some backups if someone needs another but make them ask.

These are just a few simple tricks but you might be amazed that just little changes can make a huge difference. If you have any other "green" tricks please comment!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The future of Dual Stream Recycling??

The Cougle family has been involved in recycling since the 1940's. They have a bit of experience under their belt and have perfected the way recyclables are most efficiently processed. Since CRI is a recycling facility with no landfill affiliations the idea of increasing the residual or waste generated from collecting and processing recyclables is a scary proposition. The concept of decreasing the quality of the finished product coming out of the facility, for a company who has built a superior reputation for clean material is also met with disdain.

In a multitude of current news articles local communities and industries are switching to single stream recycling for three main reasons; to make it easier, increase participation, and save money. I’m pretty confident that I can disprove those statements or at least show how silly they are.

Easier: It is significantly easier to throw everything in one bin or heck we could even trash it. We recycle to keep material out of the landfill and to be environmentally responsible. The idea of throwing all recyclables in one bin sounds great unless you want to make a finished product out of one of the commodities in the bin. As the bins are jostled to the curb or during transit a small amount of the glass jars will be broken. Ever watch your recycling be dumped; maybe we could edit that and say a good amount of glass jars and bottles will be broken. Add in to the broken glass, plastic bottles, paper, aluminum & tin cans as well as moisture from the containers being washed out or not completely emptied out and you end up with plastic & cans wallpapered with glass sprinkled paper.

Increase Participation:  The news clips often speak of the increase in recycling rates at the curb but they typically do not further analyze and determine how much material actually ends up being reused or what finds its way to a landfill. Not only does less make it out of the materials recovery facility to be reused but processors have expressed time and time again that single stream material is much more difficult to work with. Users have had to decrease the amount of recycled content they use and increase the virgin feedstock due to the contamination.

Cost: Transportation costs tend to decrease when mixing all materials together but the rebates or value of the materials being mixed greatly declines. Materials that could once be quite valuable when mixed become worth very little or nothing. Prior to deciding if the cost is really cheaper you have to weigh all the possible rebates you could be missing out on if the material was kept clean and separate. If those numbers don’t show that you aren’t saving anything then you have to ask yourself what the value of the planet and your children’s future?

It’s unfortunate that despite logic the growing popularity is demanding single stream be the wave of the future. They had hoped it would pass but it’s hanging on and the popularity is growing. There is a point that you have to jump on the wave or you just get lost floating on your raft of righteousness. The good news is that technology is increasing and single stream sorting and separation systems are helping to create better quality products (still nowhere near what dual stream can do but I mean who’s comparing).  I hope there is a need to process dual stream materials in the future and that people learn just because it’s easier doesn’t mean its right. Well, that’s just my humble opinion please feel free to provide your own.