Monday, December 1, 2014

Help me Rhonda.. Help, Help..

Meet Rhonda.. 

She is a recycled puppy (sponsored by CRI) and we would love to help her find her forever home filled with love and snuggles. She is a current (long time) resident of Berks County Animal Rescue League. She is part of a great event to help her get adopted - The 12 Strays of Christmas - where the standard adoption fees are covered by an area business (so the adopter(s) can get her for free - before Christmas). 

Go visit her.. online and in person.. I don't think you'll regret it!

Update on Rhonda.. things happen quickly!! Rhonda has been pulled by a rescue (which now gives her a foster home to be spoiled in while she awaits her forever home). We will soon be updating with our new Stray of Christmas.

Now we'd like you to meet "our" new Recycled Pup Cooper. He's adorable and is ready for his forever home. Stop by Berks County Animal Rescue League TODAY to meet Cooper or one of the other residents. You can change a pups life today.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Increase your Impact Tip #2

Plastic grocery bags are fully recyclable and can be used in a variety of new products.. BUT (and it's a big but) many material recovery facilities that receive bags mixed in with the residential recycling will end up discarding them as trash. The equipment that processes the recycling has screens that will become clogged by the plastic bags creating a housekeeping issue (which does not allow the sorting equipment to run effectively). In some systems there have been adjustments made (air vacuum systems intended to suck the bags up) in order to assist in keeping these bags from being a potential problem but they aren't fail safe.

To get the most out of plastic bag recycling place them in collection units setup to specifically recover them. Like all recycling .. the cleaner and more segregated you keep the material the more potential it has to be successfully recycled. Most grocery stores have displays/bins setup in the entrance. If your location fails to have these bins look up the closest location at Thanks for recycling and doing your most to increase your impact. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Increase your Impact Tip#1

Keep your recyclables in a dry, covered area that is protected from sleet, snow and rain. Items that arrive at the MRF (materials recovery facility) saturated will typically have picked up glass, dirt, and other contaminants making it less recoverable and increasing the amount that will end up in a landfill. Single stream collection specifically will significantly increase this issue but even paper that is extremely wet and/or frozen can potentially be an issue. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Going Green has never been so easy

We recently had a great giveaway on facebook that we asked our followers to guess what item in the picture was made from recycled content. I was hassled a little that everything in our offices should be made of recycled content. Unfortunately we aren't quite there but we are certainly trying. We have ensured that any new materials that we have purchased as promotional items contain a recycled content (if available).  Some products simply are not being produced using a recycled content but many are, it does sometimes require a bit more research and the variety is often more limited.  The good news is that it has never been easier. I have sometimes been left wanting but for the most part with a little determination, I have been able to find a product that falls within our requirements and was made from something that was diverted from a landfill. We need to let manufacturers know.. WE WANT recycled content products. The more we buy and the more vocal customers are the more options that will be made available. Be sure to do your part. 

Can you guess what particular item in this picture was made from recycled soda bottles? 

Max is doing his part by sporting a collar made from recycled PET bottles. Not only is it great for our environment, it's also easy on the eyes! 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Pay as you throw.

We talk all the time about the amount of waste that a single person creates daily (with staggering amounts contributed to households and businesses). It's also been pointed out that despite you not opening your car window and chucking it out that when you throw it "away" it has to go somewhere. At this point it is handled the best way that we know how but much of that involves the "stuff" being buried. We know that practices are in place to keep us safe and regulations watch that the trash we bury doesn't contaminate the soil or water around us. We also know that no system is ever 100% failsafe.

Based on that.. we have tried to find ways to encourage residents and businesses to recycle more and waste or trash less. Obviously recycling is the option that we most often suggest. Reduction in both consumption and waste is another key component of the three R's (Reduce, Reuse, Recycling.. just in case you need a refresher). Although most people understand that taking the time to participate in the three R's is better for our planet but despite the knowledge, it's not always easy to make them follow through and actually do it.

Some townships have approached the issue with the goal of embarrassing them into action and others have taken it to their pocketbook. Townships have decided to limit the waste they collect while placing "visual report cards" on the bins to notify all passersby of each households effective (or ineffectiveness) in recycling. Some highlight the quality of the material being placed in the bins while others point out the number of recycling bins versus garbage. Although I haven't experienced such a program firsthand, I've read that the public "announcement" method has guilted households into increased participation with higher quality material (who wants to be the only house in the neighborhood who isn't helping clean up our planet?). I've also read that the pay as you throw method has yielded really great results. Instead of a blanket monthly rate the waste collection company has you pay by the bag. You have a direct hand in what you pay per month as well as the ability to reduce costs by slimming down what you toss. It seems to work hand in hand with the less you throw out the more you recycle. Obviously just because homes are putting more items in the recycling bin doesn't necessarily mean that more items are truly recycled. That is when it seems that a combination of the two methods may work best together.

I am impressed that recycling coordinators are giving these programs and recycling in general the attention it really deserves. How do you feel about the "embarrass into participation" or "pay as you throw" programs?

Monday, July 21, 2014


I am environmentally/recycling minded. I know that recycling creates true results and the opposite has it's own very real (negative) consequences as well. Yet, I was still dumbfounded by this statistic provided by Busch Systems. First the fact that our current recycling rate is 34.5% is craziness, and the results of pushing that rate up to 75% is phenomenal. I know that we are all capable and it's really not that hard. We challenge you, start small, recycle something today that you never had before. Walk a few extra steps to the recycling bin, drop your household collection of groceries bags off at the grocery store (don't keep them and then get fed up and throw them away). Your very simple choices have a very real impact; one bottles, one can, one bag at a time, we (YOU) can be the change.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Make good,green choices

I've often explained that being kind to our planet goes much  further than recycling but also following through and buying recycled. We all must commit to supporting companies that have the correct environmental outlook and avoid those who do not. We need to make choices that are not only beneficial to us but also to our planet and generations to come. Navigating through greenwashing does make finding true answers exceedingly difficult but with a little practice it becomes easier to read between the lines.

Two of our family favorites are GUD (made by Burts Bees) and our absolute favorite is Original Sprout.Both are healthy natural choices without all the extra "stuff", both work very well and smell amazing, and both are contained inside of bottles made from recycled content. I am by no means suggesting you run out and buy these particular products (unless you want to) but am suggesting that you evaluate what you are buying; what it's made from/of, the product packaging (how its made/how it can be recycled), and the environmental outlook of the company.

Making our buying choices based on the above allows us to commend a company that is doing right and not providing business to those who aren't. This buying method will hopefully encourage other companies to get behind the planet (even if getting there is based on consumer demand). 

In my mind, the above products are a double positive, I'm not giving up anything (they are comparable in price and work as well if not better then "the other guys"). Why don't you give it a try on your next purchase? 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Insiders Glimpse

These are some photos that I collected a few days ago. We have a very talented staff that has the skill to assemble the upgrades to our single stream system. It has been quite a project, with extremely long hours .. but we are very grateful and the end is in sight! Take a look at some of their work in progress, it's pretty amazing. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Reader Question

There is nothing not a lot that is better (okay if you told me I won the lottery it might be better) than receiving a reader question. It provides proof that people are reading and interested in what we have to say. So, thank you Ben! Let's get right to it.

"I have read everywhere.. including your site and facebook page.. that plastic grocery bags are recyclable but my local drop off center will not accept them. My friend suggested that they just slip them in the bag with the rest of the plastic bottles (no one checks) but I'm not sure if we should be doing that. If they are recyclable why is the local collection center adamant that they don't want to take them and where can someone take them if they are in the same boat. I'm in PA, not far from Harrisburg. Thanks in advance for you help. Ben"

So Ben, this is where recycling gets tricky. Plastic bags are without a doubt completely recyclable. To add an even more positive fact about plastic bags, they are not only recyclable but they also have a resale market (manufacturers who have a need for the material as a feed stock). Unfortunately, that alone does not always make items a suitable material for collection.

The difficult part about the bags is that they are a processing nightmare. The bags become quite soiled and wet which doesn't help but the most damning issue is that they get wrapped around sorting equipment causing lost production, down time and the need for frequent "housekeeping" to clear the screens of these nuisance bags. So, while the bags are completely recyclable not many recyclers want you to throw them in the bins and due to soiling many of the bags that do not get wrapped in the screens will end up in the garbage bin.

Despite the urge to get them of your hair (and house) I would not recommend slyly slipping them into your standard recycling bag and ignore protests of the collection center because although they are no longer "your problem" a good percentage will end up in a landfill (which in the long run affects us all).

The positive side is that there are websites dedicated to helping residents  locate a drop off center that will accept clean grocery bags. At these drop off centers they are not mixed with other materials (especially not other materials that could contain solids or liquids that could contaminant the material and prohibit recycling). Many eco minded (or at least those who want to be known as eco minded) grocery and department stores have stood behind the efforts of collecting and recycling these bags. They feel responsibility for helping to put them in the households so they feel obligated to help collect them and keep them out of landfills or worse, littered on in our environment. <----- check out this website for bag collection for recycling. If unlike Ben you are not in PA or one of the other states they "service" I'd suggest doing a browser search for "grocery bag recycling or collection"

You could also choose the crafty reuse approach .. here is a link and there are a ton more like it that shows how people have made grocery bags into "yarn" and made some pretty neat items.

So, once again, thanks so much for the question Ben I hope I answered it to your satisfaction.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Take 5

We had no way to knowing exactly what the response would be when we decided (somewhat kicking and screaming) to accept single stream, you can put out feelers and do market research but that is still not a clear determination. We didn't "want" to do it but knew that it was the only way that we'd be winning a majority of the new bids. So we tentatively installed equipment (about 1 year ago.. give or take a few weeks) and we've had a huge influx of material. We do still mutter under our breath at times about the "better" way to handle material separation but we are happy with the problem that  currently we have.. too much material and not enough hours in the day to process it. So after approximately one year of processing single stream we are upgrading our sorting equipment which will allow us to increase our throughput.

We wanted to try and avoid a complete shutdown but due to the constant material pouring in we've decided it is absolutely  necessary. So, this Friday will be our "Take 5" while we get the new equipment in place. It's always troubling to stop the flow because you never want to inconvenience your customers but we needed it.. we were filled to the gills. Luckily, we have an amazing and experienced facility maintenance supervisor (did I mention he has been with CRI for 30 Years!@!) who has headed up a number of large equipment installs and he's got the whole process down, so we know it'll be done as quickly and efficiently as possible. We are excited.. and look forward to be up and running at a new, faster pace.

Friday, May 9, 2014


My daughter is a hoarder. Okay, she is 3 and thankfully doesn't really have the power to turn her room in to the latest episode of "Hoarders" but I swear given the opportunity she just might. It's an ongoing joke in our house which often leaves me wondering where her desire to acquire and keep everything comes from.

On a monetary note (and environmental I guess), thankfully her stuff "obsession" is usually not on purchased goods but most frequently things provided by Mother Nature herself. Wooly bears, flowers, stones, sea shells, ladybugs, worms and snakes; all treasures we've been begged to make room for. I admire her unblemished love of nature around her and  her shrill scream of delight when she sees a butterfly flutter in arms reach. It has been a tough balance between her adoration for the items and the need to keep them safe and free in their true habitat.

We have had talks explaining that despite her love for the living things that if she keeps them that they will likely die and that if you really love something you want it to be free, alive and happy. First, I think she skeptically listens knowing full well  that I do not want another creature in our home and weighing the remainder of my speech accordingly. It's made me aware that so often people with the best intentions sometimes are so blinded by trying to fix "the crisis of the moment" that they  fail to really see the impact of their decision(s).Some things are just plain bad and cannot be debated; you litter = you should be ashamed but what about being a paper towel junkie, failing to recycle, failing to teach your children about recycling. Nearly everyone has a tough time making it through the day and getting everything they need to checked of their lists; adding one more thing to the list feels like something that's just not possible. So instead of having to worry about washing a snack container it's easier to pull out a ziploc bag.

Environmental mistakes are often made by people with these great intentions who don't mean to cause harm but they are either uninformed or blinded by tunnel vision. I guess this is where I point you back to some older post(s); one bottle makes a difference and huge changes are made by the first tiny step.

Above are just a few older posts that help to motivate everyone to recycle (no matter how small)!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Quality, Not Quantity.

Unlike the month before a majority of the bins are full, some are even overflowing, switching to a single stream recycling program appears to be a success but wait, hold the presses.

Single stream recycling has proven to be more enticing to most participants. It seems easier, less to know and less to do; who isn't about easier these days? The unfortunate result is a harder job at the recycling facility because despite higher participation there is also higher amounts of contamination. Our sorters who previously handled paper separation have transitioned into the mixed materials. Yes, garbage always happened occasionally (even when it was strictly paper) but not on the scale that the single stream collection has provided. Not only is sorting the mixed items not the most sought after job but it is also costly for the materials recovery facility who pays per ton for the material to be unloaded only to pay a higher per ton rate to have the waste/contaminants hauled away. As a recycling company who is focused on the true art of recycling it is painful to watch the residual rate of your facility rise, without being about to control it's progression. A majority of the issue is the recycler(s) in general, whether they are following instructions, properly educated, and throwing the right things in the right bins. Some of the issue, and much more difficult to address is the weather; material received on a wet, muddy, day is trouble (resulting in much higher contamination, slower run times, and much more costly to process and reclaim). The hold ups and downgrades at the materials recovery facility (MRF) don't even begin to cover the lost potential at the actual end user. People who process plastic aren't thrilled about getting wet paper that hung on to the bottle for a ride nor are paper processors thrilled about their potential glass mosaic hitchhikers.

So, its difficult for me to decipher, are the published increased results taking in to account the increased waste?  Does every environmentally conscious person who "campaigned" for single stream processing understand the negative impact that is associated with processing recyclables in this manner (although far less impactful than throwing the material in a landfill)?

I am all for increasing recycling but it's difficult when you are unsure if the true recycling impact has actually increased or if there is just more stuff in the bin. Well, as I have expressed in the past, the public has spoken and single stream is the wave of the future. Technology will continue to improve and therefore material quality should also continue on the same path but it's a tough transition to make when you feel like moving forward involves taking a few steps back.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

This is worth saving!

We have an entire pinterest board dedicated to #thisisworthsaving. It's all about the natural beauty all around us. We often ignore the amazing sunset, beautiful flowers, or breathtaking wildlife because we are so busy with our lists. I get it, I have many lists (heck, I even have lists for my lists). The problem is, the "important" things that we are tasked with doing each day couldn't be completed (or even matter at all) without all the amazing things that we are taking for granted. We need to realize that one day dedicated to our planet and keeping it green is a start but until we recognize the need to do that daily we are so far from where we need to be. Strive to make everyday Earth Day and encourage other around you to do the same, our futures depend on it.

Monday, March 17, 2014

What does Earth Day mean to you?

Working for a company that deals daily with recycling and trying to keep our planet healthy gives true meaning to the comment that for us everyday is Earth Day. Our ultimate goal each day is to optimize recycling and reduce waste, which ends up in a landfill or worse dumped or littered. We get so excited for Earth Day because that seems to provide a spotlight on an issue that we feel should be a priority every day.

Many times a common misconception for individuals and businesses alike is that Recycling and environmentally prefered options cost more money. We have taken pride in disproving this myth, many times recycling can save you money or can even become a source of profit (if the quantities are sufficient and handling methods are efficient). We can tell you how and provide free evaluations anyday, you don't need to wait for Earth Day!

For so many Earth Day is a "fun" day that lets them attend a few fun events and maybe get some free stuff but what does Earth Day mean to you?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Know your impact!

This is a rough copy of our latest creation. We love it and think it states the exact message that we often try to get across. Every person can make a huge impact! #recycle

Monday, February 10, 2014

Simple changes can make a big impact.

So I know that I've mentioned it before but I'm not perfect. I try.. but at times I fail. I've done some things in our home to help encourage recycling and limit our garbage as much as possible. I've set goals for our family (of four) to have one bag of garbage per week. To some that still seems excessive and maybe others it seems impossible (I'm hoping for that because then I look good.. wink, wink). Sometimes we meet that goal and I proudly strut my stuff as I drop my one (in my mind) itty bitty bag of garbage at the drop off center. I also like to pretend to struggle with my many recycling bags (just to show how much our house recycles). It's great that we try to limit our waste but even based on one bag per week from every household we make A LOT of garbage.

Many times for me things as a big picture can become a bit overwhelming and situations can seem impossible to correct. I think for my mind it's easiest if I break down big problems into smaller issues.

 1 bag per household per week = 1 plastic garbage bag per household per week lying in a landfill

Plastic takes a really long time to breakdown.. years, and years and years. Things take even longer to breakdown when they are deprived of oxygen which is what occurs when they are buried in a landfill. I decided that I may not be able to make my trash completely disappear but at least I can recycle. When I've recycled and composted what I can I will put my trash in a bag that will hopefully breakdown much more quickly. I got a compostable bag option and I like it.

I know all  about the negative comments and if we throw away less (or optimally none) it would be better and I will continue to work on that but for now this is a way to take a step and lessen our impact. I'm not telling anyone to run out and get these bags (this is no commercial) but as a broader view; simple choices or changes can make a big impact. Don't let the size of the situation overwhelm you, take it on; one little step at a time. 

What simple choice will you make today, that will make tomorrow better for us all? 

Monday, January 27, 2014

2013 Residual Rate

Our company processed just over 127,537 tons of material in 2013 and of that material only 2.89% was downgraded to garbage. A 2.89% residual rate is pretty great (especially since we've entered into the single stream processing arena in 2013.. which typically leads to higher residual numbers). Residual means the material that was downgraded to garbage due to contamination from the original recycling source, during separation and processing, or transport)

We are so proud of our customers who do a great job providing high quality raw material and our staff who excel at what they do.

We promise to keep up the good work! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A real impact.

The amount of trees saved from harvest in 2013 due to the amazing efforts of our customers (and staff) is 1,580,263.

Friday, January 3, 2014

2014 and Lookin' Green(er)

New Year resolutions often leave us reflecting and making new goals (ie: lose 15 pounds, save more, spend less). Real execution of our resolutions often takes self discipline and dedication and some resolutions are a lot easier to keep then others.All of your personal goals (for family & future) will mean nothing without a healthy, thriving planet (we only have one). Now is the time to make a few (start small) commitments to living a greener, healthier lifestyle. I have a few suggestions of where to start or maybe a few areas to branch into if you have already started (yay you).

1. Say so long to the disposable lifestyle. If you use it once and throw it away.. try eliminating it from your day to day routine. Items like paper towels, plastic snack and sandwich bags,plastic shopping bags, toilet paper (a joke,unfortunately at this time I have no suggestions for eliminating TP). If you are certain that you will recycle the items and you know that where you take recyclables is a reputable facility where it will truly be made into a new item(s) then I don't think eliminating them is necessary. If items you are using (especially just once) cannot or are not being recycled why not look for an alternative. Again, start small; in our house paper towels are a problem area, and I haven't found a "real" working solution so I have tackled the easier ones for our family and eliminated those first.

2. Teach the green lifestyle. I have gotten a reputation for being a bit "crunchy", I'm okay with that and you should be too. I want to be able to tell my children that I was part of the solution for healing our planet (not the problem). Teach your children what recycling is and why it's important. Allow them to participate in the process by throwing items in the correct bins, gathering them for transport, etc. Most importantly share why you've chosen to recycle, reduce, and reuse. They don't have to be that annoying kid that stands on the soapbox and preaches BUT they should have knowledge about the choices that their family makes and be able to answer why if/when they're asked. When sharing your home with guests label your recycling to encourage them to participate as well as eliminating the need for you to pick through your garbage salvaging recyclables after your guest have left.

3. Be informed/ask questions. So if your family (or staff) has really put an effort into getting all recyclable items from your home(or business)into the recycling bin it would certainly be frustrating to find out that they aren't really being recycled. Be sure that you are informed about what your local collection center takes (I've written about this before but at times even fully recyclable items taken to a facility that can't handle them will be discarded in a landfill). Ask questions about how they handle the items, where they end up, what their residual is (this means the amount of recyclable material that is brought into the facility that ends up in the landfill). All recycling facilities will have a residual rate because some items are contaminated at the time they are thrown into the bin and other items will become contaminated during transport. Residual rates will vary greatly by facility based on how they receive the material (dual or single stream), the material sources (some residents/facilities do significantly better at placing the correct items in their bins), the sorting technology they utilize, the goals of the facility (are they a quick sort just trying to remove what ever recyclables possible or are they focused on recycling and attempting to only remove contamination?), as well as weather (rainy wet conditions especially with single stream material will negatively affect the residual rate). Facilities that have the right outlook will be eager to share their results/impact.

4. Provide quality raw material. Just having a recycling bin and getting items in it may be a great first step for your family (and a great journey starts with the first step) BUT be sure that the items that you are throwing in will be a good raw material. The entire goal of recycling is to create something new from the old items. If the material placed in the bin are contaminated with food / liquid residue or garbage their is a great chance that it will either contaminate other recyclables or will at a minimum be thrown out itself.

5. Buy recycled or environmentally friendly options. There are so many options available for items that are made from a recycled content. Do a little research when you are in the market for an item and see if there is an option that is made from recycled items. Post consumer recycled items means that it was made from items that had been collected from the consumer. Post industrial recycled items means that it was generally made from scraps inside the manufacturing facility. The process of reusing post consumer material is much more in depth then post industrial reuse; but both are much preferred to a manufacturing facility using virgin material.

6. Upcycle (Reduce/Reuse).  Sometimes we just need a change of scene, the same old decorations are feeling old and we want to freshen our look up a bit. The amount of ways that you can upcycle items are absolutely amazing;  simple items can be turned in to great new decorating pieces in your home. It's a double win because not only do you not need to buy anything new (score for spend less save more resolutions) you also are saving raw materials. I'd suggest doing web searches on a site like pinterest (Can we suggest ours : Upcycling doesn't stop with home decor, there are so many options in a variety of "departments".

7. Admire the natural beauty around us and encourage others to keep it that way (especially our little ones). We started a #thisisworthsaving pinterest board which highlights the beauty in nature. Because we are surrounded by it daily and often absorbed in our own "stuff" we tend to overlook what is right in front of us. An important part of preserving our planet is recognizing the beauty around us and the need to keep it that way. It's so important that our children in particular are made to stop and take it all in, to notice the beauty that has been provided to all of us.

Again, I am not suggesting that you try all seven right off the bat but if you are the overachiever type go right ahead. The key is to try one and when you've got that one perfected move on to another. We are all at different paces and it's taken a while for us to become the way we are, it's going to take even longer for us to relearn. Again, begin with the ones that are easiest for your family and get those checked off first. Thanks for making 2014 lookin' (even more) green. **Remember I'm always looking for reader suggestions, tell us what changes you've made and share ideas that could be helpful to others**