Category Archives: Reduce/Reuse/Recycle Tips

Sign the Petition to Ban Styrofoam in Monroe County, New York

The local chapter of the Sierra Club has started a petition on change.org to ban styrofoam in Monroe County. Despite the little 6 found on the bottom of most Styrofoam products, Styrofoam is virtually impossible to recycle. In Monroe County, Styrofoam is not accepted at curbside pick-up. Persistent individuals aiming to recycle packing Styrofoam can deliver it to the Monroe County EcoPark near the airport, but single-use food containers remain unrecyclable. According to the EcoPark’s website: “Styrofoam meat trays, egg cartons, coffee cups, takeout containers or other small post-consumer items have no local recycling option and should be placed in your trash.” This is partially because Styrofoam breaks down so easily that, if someone tried to clean it, all they would get is a mess of tiny beads.

Styrofoam is made of fossil fuels and other chemicals. Buying it supports an industry that contributes to climate change.

This is an opportunity to make a significant difference at the local level. In 2014, Albany County enacted a Styrofoam ban. It is long overdue for Monroe County. If you are a registered voter in Monroe County, please consider signing the petition and please make sure to include your address; if local lawmakers do not think that their constituents care about this, then neither will they. Lastly, please consider personally contacting your representative in the Monroe County Legislature.
To read the specific text of Albany County’s ban, please use this link.

Composting

The original, do-it-yourself green activity. Recycle your yard and kitchen wastes and create great organic material for your garden and lawn.

You’ll keep 500-600 pounds of waste from going to the landfill each year! Organic matter does not decay in a landfill, where it produces methane, which is 20 times more warming than CO2.

Just save out fruit and vegetable waste, egg shells, coffee grounds—including the paper filters, and moldy bread and make a pit or pile in a corner of your yard. Alternate with layers of dry leaves, saw dust, and any green yard waste. It will go dormant in the winter, but actively decay again when the temperature goes above 50 degrees. You can also buy composting bins that minimize odor and critter intruders, making composting easier than ever and possible in even small yards.

Sound like too much work? There is an easy way to make it happen! You can contract with Community Composting to collect your compostable waste on a regular basis with containers provided by the company. In return you can opt to receive already composted soil. The service is available in many parts of the Rochester area. If your area isn’t served yet, sign up to tell them you are interested. When enough people sign up, your neighborhood will be added to the service area!

Resources to get you started:

Plastic Cap Recycling

Plastic caps made from plastic #1 to #7 (on water bottles, juice jugs, milk gallons, jars, etc.) are recyclable in Monroe County since June 1st, 2011.

  • If your waste hauler is supporting  the Monroe County Recycling Center (MCRC) “Blue Box” recycling program, keep the caps on the bottles or jars and put them in your recycling box.  It is important for the caps to remain on the bottles and jars so that they don’t get jammed into the recycling equipment.
  • For other waste haulers, drop your containers and their attached caps at the EcoPark located south of the airport.

Recycling vs. Zero-Waste… What’s the difference?

Most people who try to be conscientious of the environment and limited resources know that they should recycle. However, we know that simply recycling is not enough. In some cases, when people recycle, they have a false sense of “doing the right thing” for the environment and manufacturers of disposable items have been given a way to market overconsumption without the “bad for the environment” guilt.

Should you stop recycling? Absolutely NOT! Can you make smarter choices about what you buy, how you buy and when you buy it? Absolutely!

This guide describes zero-waste and provides ways for you to move toward reducing the waste you produce.

Continue reading Recycling vs. Zero-Waste… What’s the difference?

All Energy-Saving Lightbulbs are Not Equal: Check your Lumens and Watts!

Imagine if you went to the grocery store and asked for a ‘dozen’ eggs and you were given 11. A little further down the aisle you reached for a ‘dozen’ dinner rolls and you came away with 13. Don’t forget the ‘dozen’ rolls of toilet paper you bought; it has a full 10 rolls in it.  It turns out that the use of the word ‘dozen’ doesn’t mean the same from one object to another–it means “sort of 12”.

This example is exactly what we have been doing with lightbulbs for decades. The standard “60-Watt” light bulb isn’t the same as the next ‘standard’ 60-Watt light bulb. This hasn’t meant too much to the average person except when we’ve noticed that the new bulb “doesn’t seem as bright” as the 3 year old bulb that’s right next to it. That’s because the new bulb isn’t providing the same amount of lumens, but it is still using 60 Watts of electricity.  It’s because the amount of light, or lumens, they give off has nothing to do with the amount of electricity, or watts, they use. In general, the average “60 Watt” light bulb should provide roughly 800-810 lumens.  However the number of lumens listed on light bulb packages range from 620 to 825 lumens.

Now,  jump forward to 2015 where everyone is encouraged to switch to CFL’s or LED’s to reduce their energy usage.  Many light bulb packages say “equivalent to 60-Watt bulb”. That’s great, but which “60-Watt” bulb are they referring to–the one providing a dim 620 lumens, or the one providing a bright 825 lumens?

Be sure to check out the side of the box… and let the lumens light your way.

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