How to set up “extra plastics” recycling at your workplace.]Read More…
What to keep out of your recycling bin, where your recycling goes after it gets picked up, and how to reuse before recycling.
7 things to keep out of your recycling bin
Why shouldn’t these go in? Find out.
Bottom line: When in doubt, keep it out. Recycling right is more important than recycling more, because putting the wrong thing in the bin (like plastic bags) can cause big problems (like jamming the machines that sort recycling).
A behind-the-scenes look at where your recycling goes
Once your recycling leaves your work or home bin, that jumble of paper, metal and plastic, all has to be sorted. The sorting involves conveyor belts, blowing air, giant magnets, and sorting by hand. See it here:
Vinod Singh explains how recyclables are sorted at Hillsboro's Far West Recycling, and where they go from there.
Once the recycling is sorted into material type – paper, cardboard, metal, etc. – then it’s sold to buyers in the region and around the world to be made into new products.
We often focus on recycling, yet it’s actually at the bottom of the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle hierarchy.
If you want to save energy, water and resources, the best thing you can do is reduce the items you consume (products, packaging) and then reuse the items as many times as possible.
Thanks to our program partner, Metro, who produced the articles and videos referenced here.
Tips for recycling old CFL bulbs
Fluorescent lights are energy efficient and long-lasting, but they also contain mercury and lead, so they should be handled cautiously and disposed of safely.
When your fluorescent light bulbs flicker and fade, recycling them properly keeps you safe, and allows most of the glass, metal and mercury to be reused.
Contact your property manager or garbage company to see if they can recycle fluorescent bulbs for you.
Use Metro's Find a Recycler search tool to find a nearby facility that collects and recycles fluorescent bulbs.
If you’re looking for a replacement bulb, LEDs are even more efficient and longer-lasting than CFLs.
When an LED bulb burns out, it’s safe to throw it in the garbage.* Or, you can collect LEDs and find a recycler who can recycle them. (They can have quite a bit of nickel, which makes them worth recycling.) As with any bulb, they should NOT be put in with your mixed or glass recycling.
*Colored LEDs (red, blue, etc.) can contain lead and arsenic, so should be disposed of through a recycler that can process them safely, rather than thrown in the trash.
Do you commute by car or drive for work? Reduce your impact: stop idling.
If a car is stopped for more than 10 seconds, it’s better to turn off the engine rather than idle.
It saves gas: If you idle for 5 minutes dropping your kids off in the morning, 3 minutes at the drive-thru and 4 minutes listening to the end of a news story in your driveway, you've burned enough gas to drive 24 miles.
It saves money: Americans spend a whopping $13 million every day on unnecessary idling. (That's 3.8 million gallons of fuel, wasted!)
It saves the planet: For every 10 minutes of idling you cut from your life, you'll save one pound of carbon dioxide, a harmful greenhouse gas, from being released into the atmosphere.
It makes us healthier: Idling is linked to increases in asthma, allergies, heart and lung disease and cancer. Kids are especially vulnerable because they inhale more air per pound of body weight. Lots of idling happens near schools.
It's good for your engine: Idling can damage engine components. According to the California Energy Commission, "Fuel is only partially combusted when idling because an engine does not operate at its peak temperature.This leads to the build-up of fuel residues on cylinder walls that can damage engine components and increase fuel consumption."
Even on cold mornings, the days of idling in the driveway to warm up your car are over: today's cars warm up more efficiently when they're driving than sitting in a driveway.
Take a pledge to stop idling.
Print posters to share with your coworkers.
Turn off your car when stopping for more than 10 seconds.
Adapted from the I Turn It Off program from Sustainable America.
This October’s EcoChallenge is a fun, free tool to get your coworkers to try a new green practice.
When: October 14-28
What: Choose a new sustainable action to take, at home or at work, for two weeks.
How: Create a team – even if it’s just two people – and register. Bonus: it’s free!
Why: Build team spirit and get into new (good) habits.
The Northwest Earth Institute’s annual EcoChallenge is a great way to engage your workplace around sustainability – it’s no wonder over 15,000 people and businesses have taken the challenge!
This friendly peer-to-peer competition builds enthusiasm for workplace sustainability and is a good way to kickstart or strengthen sustainability initiatives.
You choose one action to reduce your impact and stick with it for two weeks. The challenge action(s) people choose can take place outside of work and still contribute to your workplace team.
You pick your challenge and set a goal that stretches your comfort zone and makes a difference for you, your community and the planet. Common wisdom says it takes two weeks to change a habit: if you can stick with a new behavior for 14 days in a row, you’re a lot more likely to keep it up forever.
EcoChallengers share their progress and earn points for taking action. The combination of collective inspiration, camaraderie and friendly competition makes change a little easier and a lot more fun.
See what other businesses have taken on the challenge!
There are many different actions to choose from across six categories: waste, transportation, energy, water, food, community, nature and simplicity – or create your own action.
A few example actions include: use a reusable coffee mug, take a short (5-minute) shower, volunteer in the community, eat meatless meals, or turn down your thermostat. More challenging actions include: Reduce clutter in your home and donate unwanted goods, research or take steps to insulate your home or upgrade to an electric car, or install a rain garden in your yard.
“It’s amazing how all of us changing a minor habit can have such a huge impact on our environment in so many different ways.”
– EcoChallenge Participant
1. Register for the EcoChallenge
2. Connect with your team. To start your workplace team, select “start a team” and NWEI will help you invite coworkers to join (find tips for being a Team Captain). Or, select “join a team” to join an existing team. *If your workplace doesn’t have a team, you can join the Sustainability at Work Team.
3. Choose your EcoChallenge action(s).
4. Make a plan to achieve your EcoChallenge. Think through what you’ll need to take your new action. If you need to prepare anything, get it ready now so it’s easy from day one!
5. Share your participation far and wide. Let family, friends, and coworkers know what you’re doing and invite them to join!
6. On October 14, start working on your challenge goals and log in daily to chart your progress.
Did you know you can compete against another team? Team captains can challenge another team, and the team with the greatest number of EcoChallenge points wins. Do you share a building with other businesses? Get to know your neighbors through some friendly competition.
Find your people at GoGreen and get in the team spirit with EcoChallenge.
Remember when you were excited for the first day of school? This October offers two ways to experience it again.
Do you remember when you finally found "your people?" Whether they were the nerds or the jocks, the socialites or the rebels, they understood you, you understood them, and it felt good.
If you're reading this, you probably want to do good in your work—whether that’s getting your coworkers to recycle, giving back to the community, or solving global challenges. Sometimes it may feel like you're the only one who cares. But you're not alone! You just have to find your people.
And one of the best places find your people is at the GoGreen Conference on October 5. You'll meet others who care about doing good at work—some who are just starting, and others who have been at it for a while and are doing really impressive things (kind of like that cool kid you always looked up to).
If you played sports in school, or were on the debate team, or in the school play, you know how it feels to start the new year fresh, feeling like you have another chance to work hard and reach your goals.
Relive that feeling with this October's EcoChallenge. It's meant to help you pick a new green habit—something you've probably felt like you should do, like taking shorter showers or biking to work, but haven't gotten around to yet—and cheerlead you through two weeks of doing it.
You can go it alone, but it's even better to do as a team. Much like the team activities of your youth, it's more fun to do things together, and it's nice to have others pushing you to do your best.
Start building your team now, at work, or with family or friends.
Team fight song optional (but recommended).