Dirty Planet? Clean It Up!

March 28th, 2011

We’ve all seen the advertisements for Orbit gum with the catchy tag line “Dirty Mouth? Clean it up!”Clean Up Your World

Well, now the “clean” gum is going green! Orbit is running a national promotion with Keep America Beautiful – offering us the same opportunity to clean up our planet as they’ve offered to clean up our mouths.

Orbit now comes in different limited edition packages, each with a special code printed on it. If you have one of these limited edition packages of the gum, you can go to www.clean.orbitgum.com and enter the code on your package for Orbit to donate $0.50 to Keep America Beautiful. You can also nominate your city for the promotion finale – a mural painted in a special location, and $5,000.

Free Green Can submitted a proposal to Orbit, suggesting Chicago as the city for the mural – whoop whoop! We’d love to help keep America beautiful. We encourage all our readers to check out the Orbit Website and enter your codes!

Make Your St. Patrick’s Day GREENER!

March 8th, 2011

March 17th – the day when everyone is Irish. We wear green, we drink green, we eat green – so why not also GO green?

Here are some ways to make your St. Patrick’s Day an even greener event:

  • Hosting a party? Buy food and supplies that are eco-friendly – like fruits and veggies, or Solo Cup’s Bare line of paper products.
  • Irish Soda Bread. Bake it with organic ingredients, and taste the difference. This already delicious treat just got greener and tastier!
  • Choose beer from an environmentally-friendly brewery, like Sierra Nevada.
  • Get creative. Make your St. Patty’s decorations out of stuff around the house – cut shamrocks out of junk mail, make a necklace out of green pasta… You get the idea.
  • Wear green. Yep, green colored, and green fabric – try organic cotton. You’ll be amazed by its softness!
  • Celebrate Earth Day a little early. Get out your trowel and spend this St. Patrick’s day planting something green for the environment! It’s almost time to plant your flower beds anyway, right?
  • When you’re at your hometown St. Patrick’s Day parade, find recycling bins for your plastic water bottles, beer glasses, etc.

These tips will help you go green this St. Patrick’s Day, and all year round!

Information in this post is from Solo Cup Co., www.greenupgrader.com and www.npr.org.

Can I Recycle It? Where?

March 4th, 2011

You see signs and bins everywhere with different symbols for different products. You hear stories about entire bags being trashed because of one wrong item. You feel confused about it, because sometimes when you go to put something in the bin, you just aren’t quite 100 percent sure.

Well, it’s time to eradicate that confusion and get recycling straight once and for all. Free Green Can wants you to feel good about what you put in the recycling bin, whether at home or out in public.

Here is a list of things that should be recycled, and some things that cannot be recycled:

1. Glass – jars, bottles, any and all glass. Glass is the never-ending product. It can be used time and time again, and its quality never wavers. Whether you reuse glass yourself in your home or put it in your bin, it can and should always be recycled.

2. Aluminum – cans, foil, pie trays, disposable bakeware, etc. Like glass, aluminum products are always recyclable.

3. Tin and steel – your soup and tuna cans are recyclable – but always rinse them out first!

4. Paper products
- junk mail
- magazines/catalogs
- office paper and files
- newspapers
- telephone books
- paper bags
All of these things can be recycled from your own home in most places, but check your local recycling policies to be sure that phone books don’t need to be taken to a special facility.

5. Boxes and cartons – recycle that Life Cereal box but throw away the bag inside first! Put your milk and juice cartons and kids’ juice boxes in the recycling bin – and don’t forget you empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls too! Cardboard boxes also go in your recycling bin.

6. Plastics – this is always one that gets confusing, but there is a way to make it easier – look on the bottom of your plastic bottle or container and find its number. In most cities, plastics with numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 are recyclable.
*A note about plastics: please rinse them thoroughly. Soak the peanut butter jar overnight – rinse out the tray your frozen dinner came in. Those are the things that could cause an entire bag of recyclables to be thrown away.

7. Plastic bags – these must be taken back to your local grocery store; they should not be recycled in your own home recycling bin.

8. Electronics/batteries – don’t just trash your old laptop or cell phone. There are various outlets for recycling electronics, including Best Buy’s recycling program. Take your old electronics with you the next time you go to buy new ones – and take advantage of the available recycling opportunities!

So, now you know what needs to be done in order to properly recycle all your papers, plastics, glass, aluminum and electronics. Recycling regulations do vary by city, so you should check the procedures in your area to be sure, but the above information is pretty standard across the board.

I’ll leave you with these closing thoughts: Remember to always rinse your containers; sort your recyclables when required; take electronics and batteries to the appropriate receptacles; and recycle on!

Recycle Your Plastic Bottles Here: Okay, But What About the Cap?

February 25th, 2011
Many of us have heard that water bottle caps can’t be recycled, so we remove them. Sometimes we toss them in anyway, without thinking. So what’s the real deal? What happens if you put a water bottle with its cap in a recycling bin? Can the cap be recycled?

Plenty of city recycling programs still do not accept plastic lids, tops or water bottle caps, even though they take the plastic bottles that go with them – so it’s important to know whether your city recycles caps or not.

The real deal: To stay on the safe side and have as much recycled as possible, be sure to take off the cap before putting your bottle in the recycle bin.

Why don’t cities recycle plastic bottle caps?

  • Plastic Caps and Plastic Bottles Are Not the Same Plastic. Typically caps are not made from the same kind of plastic as their containers, and therefore should not be mixed together with them. Soda bottles are generally made from Type 1 Plastic (Polyethylene Terephthalate) while bottle caps are made from Type 5 Plastic (Polypropylene). When the two types of materials are mixed together, one contaminates the other because the plastics melt unevenly, therefore they must recycled separately or someone is required to separate them before processing.
  • Plastic Caps Jam Machines. Plastic caps are known to jam processing equipment at recycling facilities, and the plastic bottles with caps still on them may not compact properly.

What happens if a consumer tries to recycle a plastic bottle with a cap on it?

If a bottle is put into a bin with a cap on it, usually the entire bottle is thrown out at the recycling center. It is too time consuming for workers to remove the caps, so they are not recycled. That is why it is critical for consumers to understand the appropriate way to recycle so that their good efforts do not go to waste. As a result, the responsibility lies on the consumer to throw their plastic caps into the trash instead of the recycling bin.

Here are a few ways to reduce, reuse or even recycle those plastic bottle caps:

  • Reduce Your Cap Usage. Buy in bulk, this way there are less caps to process. The best way to reduce cap recycling is to buy in bulk rather than single-serving containers. For instance, when you host a party instead of buying a dozen 12oz cans of soda buy liters of soda instead and instead of water bottles, provide pitchers of (tap) water, and let people pour into reusable cups.
  • Reuse or Repurpose Bottle Caps. A great way to reuse a bottle cap and top is to cut the threaded portion of the bottle neck from the bottle. Push a plastic bag up through the removed bottle neck, fold the bag down over the neck, and twist on the lid. This seals the bag, making it air or water tight for storage! So useful for sealing bulk items in plastic bags. Learn more about it at: http://www.re-nest.com/re-nest/hot-tip/a-useful-reuse-for-plastic-bottle-caps-128400


Data and information from the blog post was derived in part from:

http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/recycling/stories/remove-bottle-caps-before-recycling

http://www.practicalenvironmentalist.com/conservation-efficiency/what-about-bottle-caps.htm

Sexy Colors for Valentine’s Day: Red and Pink… and Green?

February 13th, 2011
Yep, that’s correct! Going green expands into all aspects of your life, including into your bedroom. This Valentine’s Day (and every day), keep things sexy and green with these tips:

  • Sexier, softer sheets: Remember, you’re doing more than just sleeping in your sheets, and whether sleeping or otherwise, Americans spend a lot of time in their beds. Try branching out and getting some organic cotton or bamboo sheets. The softness will amaze you – plus they last longer and are better for the environment!
  • Cute lingerie can be green – and not just in color. Get sustainable undies and sexy looks handmade, or made from recycled, all-natural materials. You’ll be amazed how soft and thin wool can be – and sexy too!
  • Get in the mood with organic foods and other products: Get your free-trade, organic dark chocolate, organic beer and wine and all-natural scented candles ready for a night of romance this Valentine’s Day. Make a sustainable meal with all natural and organic ingredients, and light some organic candles for ambiance!

For more sexy green tips, and to see where this info came from, visit Your Daily Thread – one of our favorite going green blogs!

10 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

February 4th, 2011
Do you Recycle? Is your company Sustainable? How big is your Carbon Footprint? Are YOU Green?

These are just a few of the buzz words surrounding the ever-growing and increasingly-popular “Going Green” movement. Since everyone seems to be getting in on this sustainable action, here are 10 easy ways for you to increase your sustainability and decrease your carbon footprint.

1. You gotta have that cup-o-java every morning, right? Start taking your own travel mug with you, and fill it up before you leave for work, use it at the office or have the friendly barista at your local coffee shop fill it up for you. Most paper coffee cups at places like Starbucks are not 100% recyclable, and can hugely add to your carbon footprint.

2. Take that extra step beyond switching it off – unplug it. Sure, unplugging your toaster every morning doesn’t seem like it would be a big deal, but even when it’s not turned on, some amount of energy is still being transferred. Larger appliances use even more energy. Remember to unplug your computers and phone chargers when they aren’t in use!

3. Don’t switch to hybrid wheels – until it’s really time for a new car. Trading in a working car in good condition for a hybrid, energy-conserving ride isn’t economical for your wallet or the Earth. Production of hybrid cars uses a lot of energy, so if you’ve got wheels that work, stick with them for now. When it’s time to upgrade, by all means, go electric!

4. Shop local. Is there a local farmers’ market in your city or town? A grocery store that only sells products that were produced regionally? Buy your groceries and other goods from local farmers and local stores. It cuts down on shipping and fuel costs, as well as reduces emissions from vehicles. Plus, you’re supporting local business. Win/win!

5. Print news is old news. As much as it pains the journalist in me to say it, printed newspapers are becoming a thing of the past. Reading your news online saves paper – which also saves energy and reduces your carbon footprint!

6. Bust out that Crock Pot. Slow cooking stew, soup, casseroles or chili in a Crock Pot is more energy-efficient than using your stove, oven or microwave. Soup’s on!

7. Move that body! Whenever possible, walk, run or bike to your destination – even grab your kid’s Razor Scooter (they’re fun, I’ve tried)! Not only will staying out of the car help reduce your carbon footprint, it can help reduce some potential health risks too.

8. Towel off. Instead of buying paper napkins or disposable hand towels, use real towels and real napkins. The energy and water you use to wash the towels and napkins doesn’t compare to the waste you’d create by using paper ones!

8 ½. Use the hand dryer. Like using real towels when you’re at home, using the hand dryer instead of paper towels when you’re in a public place will help reduce waste and improve your carbon footprint!

9. Have a party! Okay, not a big party – but a small get-together. Entertaining at home saves money and energy, and cooking for a group is more carbon-efficient than cooking for one or two. This way you’ll be reducing your own carbon footprint, but also helping your friends and family do the same!

10. Recharge your batteries. Using rechargeable batteries instead of disposable ones can drastically improve your carbon footprint. Batteries are expensive each time you have to replace them – and rechargeable ones are even more expensive. But remember, you’re only buying them once!

Information from squidoo.com and sustainability.publicradio.org was used in this post.

World Recycling: How America Stacks Up

January 14th, 2011

Sure, America recycles – we even have a day dedicated to the task – America Recycles Day. But do we measure up to other recycling efforts from countries around the globe?

Currently, America recycles about 28 percent of its total recyclable waste. That isn’t a terrible number, but think about how much waste our behemoth country actually produces. A LOT.

That means that 72 percent of our waste that could be recycled isn’t. The truth is, we should be able to be better about recycling.

As mentioned in our “welcome” blog, we’d love to get everyone in America on board with recycling – but that isn’t going to be a reality for a very long time. Public recycling opportunities are certainly going to help, but for now, European countries are leading the way in sustainability and overall recycling efforts.

Austria comes in at number one, recycling a whopping 60 percent of its total recyclable waste. America comes close to that in paper recycling (we recycle about 53 percent of all paper waste), but paper isn’t enough – and it’s not necessarily the most important recyclable material.

In Brazil, 50 percent of the trash created daily is recycled, and India manages to recycle 40 percent of their waste.

Denmark has glass recycling down to a science – 98 percent of glass bottles in Denmark are reusable, and of that number, 98 percent are returned to vendors for reuse. Way to go, Danish consumers!

Glass can be recycled time and time again without ever losing it’s usability. It’s truly an infinite resource.

Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands all recycle around 50 percent of their waste, and the rest of Europe comes up somewhere in the 35-40 percent range.

So, why are America’s numbers looking so low? Part of the reason could be that we have such a much larger population than these other countries – it’s harder to achieve those higher percentage numbers. But is that an excuse?

Recycling in America has come a long way in the last 20 years. Three decades ago, there was one curbside pickup recycling program in our country. Step outside in many U.S. neighborhoods today, and you’ll see blue recycling bins on the curb waiting to be picked up by local trash pickup. But compared to the populations of other countries around the world, Americans have a long way to go before we reach the level of sustainability where we could – and should – be.

We’re not in a bad place – and we’re getting better every day. Keep spreading the word about recycling, and reuse all your plastic bags! If you can’t reuse them, at least recycle them. Take them to your local grocery store for recycling because the plastic bags don’t go in your blue bins at home.

And for your enjoyment, check out this popular Recycling by the Numbers infographic, courtesy of The New Ecologist.

If Recycling Were Easy, Everyone Would Do It

January 6th, 2011

So you recycle at home, your friends recycle, you even recycle when you’re out and about – but when there isn’t a recycling bin around, do you take your water bottle or soda can home with you and recycle it? Maybe, but many Americans won’t – they’ll trash it in the provided receptacle, which often isn’t a recycling bin when in public.

Maybe it’s never crossed your mind because it hasn’t been a option, but wouldn’t it be nice for recycling to be available everywhere you go? The street corner, the zoo, the movie theater, a basketball game, your college campus – even your kid’s little league baseball game in the park.

Imagine how much more recycling would positively impact our earth if it were a public service available everywhere, all the time. That’s exactly what went through Steve Holland’s mind when his son asked him why there wasn’t a recycling bin at his baseball game in the park.

Steve wanted to answer his son’s question, and make public recycling a reality, so he founded Free Green Can to achieve that goal.

So, What Is Public Recycling?

In Germany, garbage men pick up trash from homes and businesses for a fee – but the recycling bins are picked up free of charge. In the United States, the system is reversed. In most places, garbage pickup is a complimentary service provided by your city – but recycling costs extra.

So how do we make America’s recycling program more like Germany’s? Start small. Many college campuses provide recycling bins in their dormitories and campus buildings. Often, these bins are for paper only, so soda cans and plastic bottles are thrown in with the regular garbage.

Even if a recycling option is offered in the dorms for all recyclable materials, there’s no guarantee that the university is actually recycling them – let’s face it, in America, it’s just cheaper not to recycle.

The idea behind Free Green Can is to make public recycling feasible in any environment. It’s economical to host the cans at a sports venue, university or park, and as a host, the venue won’t pay a thing.

Advertising on each side of every Free Green Can pays for the can, and the pickup of all recycled materials in the can. So what about actual trash? If you put it in the recycling bin, that whole load may become unrecyclable!

Every Free Green Can has two openings – one side is for recycling, the other side is for regular trash. The idea behind public recycling is to make it as easy as possible for everyone everywhere in America to throw away trash and recycling in the same place.

Why Is Public Recycling Important?

Everyone who recycles makes a difference – but not everyone recycles.

Of course, in an ideal world we’d love everyone to recycle at home, but since that isn’t a current reality, we’d love to at least give everyone the option to recycle anywhere they go outside their home.

If cities, universities, event venues, theme parks and zoos all used Free Green Cans for public recycling, the carbon footprint of our country would be immensely decreased – and we might even inspire those who don’t recycle at home to start.

1,000 Free Green Cans saves 15,000 trees every year!

Thanks for reading! Keep checking back for regular public recycling news, tips and fun facts about recycling and going green.

If you’re interested in more information, or you know a venue that wants to host Free Green Cans or a company that wants to share an eco-forward message, check out the Free Green Can Website.