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Winter Cleaning!

January 21st, 2012 No comments

There’s no need to wait for the birds to start chirping and the flowers to start budding to get rid of the junk around your house.

Why not do Winter cleaning instead of Spring cleaning? After all, the skies are still gray (in most parts of the country) and who wants to waste a sunny, Spring day inside clearing out clutter?

If it’s too overwhelming and you don’t know where to begin, consult a professional organizer. FindMyOrganizer.com is a site that can help you choose one. A third party can help sift through the clutter without the emotional attachment most people place on their possessions and make suggestions for how best to organize the items you do keep.

But if you don’t have a need for outside help, or can’t afford it, plow ahead on your own with these suggestions:

Start small: Don’t try to attack your entire house at once, or you’ll be tempted to give up. Pick one room that’s particularly troubling and then start in one area of that room, such as the closet or the overstuffed drawers. Once you get one area of the room under control, move onto the next. If you’re still on a cleaning streak, move onto the next room. When you’re tired, stop for the day and resume the next day or the following weekend.

Sort, sort, sort: The key to successful de-cluttering and organization is to think in terms of categories. When going through your linen closet, for example, make a pile of mismatched sheets and towels that you never use and set them aside for donation, if they’re in decent condition, or reuse as cleaning rags. Then fold all of the good hand towels, washcloths and bath towels and group the matching sets together back on the shelves. Do the same with bed sheets. Sort out all the other loose odds and ends in the closet, such as shaving supplies, sewing kits and hotel shampoos (c’mon, you know you take those home) and organize like items into clear plastic bins, label them and stack them on the shelves where they can be easily identified. Ah, order.

Purge quickly: Once you’re done, you should have items in boxes or bags meant to either sell, donate or toss. Don’t keep those things lying around or you may never get around to properly discarding them, thus contributing to more clutter (and a possible change of heart). Immediately list the items of value on ebay or craigslist, put the recyclable items on the curb or take them to a center, drop the donatable items off at Goodwill and toss the rest.

You’ll feel like a weight has been lifted. And then, when Spring rolls around, you can secretly smile to yourself when you see your neighbor going through his garage while you head out for a bike ride.

Visit chicago.ecycler.com

We are making junk removal simple, problem free and without surprises. We are born out of the idea that we can enhance the social value of recycling. All junk collected is treated as an asset and not as trash with the appreciation toward sustainability and end-of-life concerns.

We make all efforts to reuse (i.e., donate), upcycle and recycle the materials before the landfill is considered.

Thanks to Bill Longshaw and christineshomeandtraveladventures.blogspot.com for the use of their images!
Categories: ecycler, junk Tags:

A Clutter-free 2012

January 3rd, 2012 1 comment

The gifts are unwrapped and the holiday lights are off, so now what? Time to get organized! Many people resolve to exercise and diet, but the beginning of a new year is also a good time to purge those clothes you haven’t worn since college and organize the clutter that’s been collecting in your basement.

Some organizing experts suggest getting rid of one item for every new holiday gift received, as a way to neutralize the incoming stuff. It’s a good time to consider donating items to charitable organizations that normally get a flood of new things before the holidays but that are still in need of basics after the last ornament has been plucked off the tree or the last candle in the menorah has been blown out. People are in need all year long, so your old coats, toys, canned food and household items are welcome after the holidays.

Items that can’t be reused can usually be recycled, including the cardboard boxes in which your holiday gifts were shipped, the batteries that you replaced in your kids’ toys and the household appliances that are being swapped out for new ones. Even your Christmas tree can find new life as mulch. Many municipal recycling programs pick up trees at the curb and recycle them.

The new year also presents a good time to get the holiday decorations in order. Organizing ornaments and lights and labeling them helps prevent you from buying new decorations you don’t need the following year. Keeping perfectly nice gift bags, bows and ribbons also prevents you from having to buy new ones next year and keeps those items out of landfills. And don’t be afraid to re-gift – if you got something you just don’t need but don’t want to donate it, hold onto it for next year’s Secret Santa swap at the office or give it to a friend or relative that you know would like it.

What about all those holiday cards that have been piling up? Hold onto a few from close friends and family, especially the ones containing photos, and recycle the rest.

This is a good time to teach children to be generous to others. Now that they’ve gotten so many gifts, tell them that they are fortunate to have received presents and that there are a lot of kids who did not and encourage them to pick out some old toys that are safe and in good condition to donate to another child. There’s no reason the season of giving has to end after Christmas.

Visit chicago.ecycler.com

We are making junk removal simple, problem free and without surprises. We are born out of the idea that we can enhance the social value of recycling. All junk collected is treated as an asset and not as trash with the appreciation toward sustainability and end-of-life concerns.

We make all efforts to reuse (i.e., donate), upcycle and recycle the materials before the landfill is considered.

Thanks to unvarnishedmom.com for the use of their image
Categories: ecycler, materials Tags: ,

Walking and Being Green

December 16th, 2011 No comments

A lot of people can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, but everyone can walk and be green.

That’s because several shoe makers have launched environmentally-friendly sneakers. Timberland has a line of shoes called Earthkeepers made from eco-friendly materials. The boots are outfitted with organic cotton laces, recycled rubber outsoles and linings made from recycled plastic bottles. The leather in the shoes come from tanneries that meet certain criteria for energy use, waste production and water treatment.

When these boots are no longer suitable for walking, customers can return them, free of charge, to Timberland and they’ll recycle or reuse the materials. The company also makes clothing under the Earthkeepers brand made from organic cotton and recycled polyester, none of which is “dry clean only,” due to the hazardous chemicals involved in dry cleaning.

Fans of Nike shoes can participate in the company’s Reuse-A-Shoe program, which collects old, worn-out athletic shoes for recycling. The company transforming them into “Nike Grind,” a material used in creating playground and athletic surfaces, such as tennis courts.

Here’s how it works: Any brand of athletic shoe can be accepted, so long as it meets Nike’s recycling guidelines. Shoes can be dropped off at Nike Reuse-A-Shoe recycling locations around the country or at one of the company’s events. Once a critical mass of shoes has been collected, Nike ships them to a processing center in either Belgium or Memphis, TN, where the shoes are dissembled and sorted into three types of raw material: rubber from the outsole, foam from the midsole and fabric fibers from the upper. Once those items are ground up, they find new life on sports fields and tracks, and sometime in new shoes and clothes.

Sadly, another eco-friendly shoe maker is going out of business. Simple Shoes, which made shoes from bamboo, cork and coconuts, is ceasing distribution, but Zappos.com will continue selling select styles while supplies last.

 

Categories: materials, recycle Tags: ,

Dreaming of a Green Christmas

December 13th, 2011 No comments

Time is running out to wrap up holiday shopping, and if you still don’t know what to get for people, turn to the environment. Everyone can feel good about receiving a gift that’s green.

Uncommon Goods, a web-based retailer and catalog, has a whole section of green gifts that are more unusual and thoughtful than the standard fare of knickknacks made from recycled glass bottles.

For the fashion plate on your list who doesn’t want to be caught wearing the same thing as someone else, consider a skirt made from recycled sweaters – no two are alike. There are also scarves made from t-shirts and belts made from spent fire hoses.

For the techie who has every device, the retailer sells iPad cases made from old mail sacks and pouches made from the same material that can keep cords and chargers organized, as well as other items. A company called ATP Electronics makes the EarthDrive, a USB drive made from biodegradable polyester that’s derived from renewable resources, such as corn. Another company called Devotec recently came out with a portable stereo speaker system that can play music wirelessly via Bluetooth while charging its battery from an integrated solar panel. The system can play continuously when in the sun, even if the battery has no charge.

The home decorator might enjoy vases made from recycled fire extinguishers, picture frames made from recycled ceiling tins or bookends fashioned from old vinyl records (if they even know what a record is), also available from Uncommon Goods.

And don’t forget about kids- they can be green, too.

Plum caters to parents who don’t want to keep buying new clothes for their fast-growing babies and toddlers.

People can sign up to receive a set number of outfits each month and then return them a month later for all new clothes. All items are washed before they’re sent out, and outfits that come back stained are donated or recycled. A perfect gift for the new parents on your list.

Bigger kids might like the Wild Science Worm Farm, a fun way for them to learn about the ecosystem.

Categories: ecycler, recycle Tags: , ,

Ten Ways to Green up your Thanksgiving!

November 23rd, 2011 No comments

Happy Thanksgiving!

‘Tis the season of consumption. But there are ways to enjoy the kick-off to the holiday season and also be green.

Give thanks and try these ten ways to give back this Thanksgiving:

Stay home – Tell your aunt Sally that you can’t fly out to see her or drive to grandmother’s house. Your relatives will understand that traveling takes its toll on the environment – won’t they?

Carpool or use mass transit – If you really must leave your house, travel with a group in one car or take public transportation, if possible.

Buy natural and local – Buy free range turkey and organic produce for your Thanksgiving feast and get your fixings from local suppliers, like a farmer’s market.

Waste not – Roast your turkey in a reusable roasting pan. If you must use a foil pan, be sure to recycle it.

Light candles – It sets an intimate mood for your meal and saves electricity. Use beeswax or soy-based candles, rather than paraffin candles, which are made from petroleum.

Bring out the china and good silver – Even though the last thing you want to do after a food-induced coma is wash dishes, avoid using paper plates and plastic cutlery. Also, use cloth napkins instead of paper.

Get creative – Play a game with the family by awarding an extra piece of pumpkin pie to the relative who comes up with the best ways to be green this holiday season.

Recycle – Toss all cans and bottles used during dinner into the recycling bin.

Compost – Don’t throw the scraps in the trash – compost them!

Re-use – The best part of Thanksgiving are the days after. Use those leftovers again and again to save on trips to the grocery store.

This and all the Crush that Can episode may be viewed here: CrushthatCan.com. Crush that Can is a series of videos–short, humorous videos to demonstrate different ways to decrease the size of aluminum cans in order to prepare them for recycling in non-bottle bill states.

Happy Thanksgiving from ecycler.com!

 

Categories: ecycler, event Tags: ,

Junk Afflicting Cities Across the Country

November 18th, 2011 No comments

From excessive junk on property to hoarding, cities across the country are dealing with the problem of how to deal with residents’ excessive stuff.

In Arlington, MA, a hoarding response team made up of police, a mental health expert and the Health and Human Services department is helping hoarders clear their homes of junk before they suffer health and safety problems.

Excessive piles of household items and food and unclean conditions can attract bugs and rodents.

What started as part of a jail diversion program in June has since become focused on the broader problem of hoarding. The team has handled 16 cases so far, including that of a man who had no plumbing and didn’t know what to do about it because his apartment hadn’t been cleaned in two decades.

Chicago’s solution to junk? Fine people for it. The city, which is aiming to balance its budget in part by raising fees on a number of items, plans to raise nuisance fines to between $300 and $600, up from $250 to $500, for such violations as illegal garbage dumping, excessive junk and poor lot maintenance.

Los Angeles is facing the problem of homeless people’s possessions taking up space on the sidewalks of Skid Row, a 50-block area where mentally ill or addicted people sleep on the street and where everyday appliances and mattresses are piling up. Stuff started accumulating ever since a federal judge ordered the city four months ago to stop seizing property from Skid Row streets.

According to a recent newspaper article, one block alone was lined with 20 packed shopping carts.

Courts across the country have likewise ruled that the property of homeless people cannot be seized just because it’s on the street. But, Los Angeles has lost four lawsuits over property seizures since 1987.

Visit chicago.ecycler.com

We are making junk removal simple, problem free and without surprises. We are born out of the idea that we can enhance the social value of recycling. All junk collected is treated as an asset and not as trash with the appreciation toward sustainability and end-of-life concerns.

We make all efforts to reuse (i.e., donate), upcycle and recycle the materials before the landfill is considered.

Thanks to LA Weekly for use of the images
Categories: ecycler, junk Tags: ,

Massachusetts to Expand its Bottle Bill?

August 5th, 2011 1 comment

Support is growing for expansion of Massachusetts bottle bill.

The state’s bottle bill now requires deposits only on soda and beer bottles and cans, but lawmakers are trying to expand the 5-cent deposit to also include bottled water, sports drinks and other beverage containers.

Almost half of the cities and towns in Massachusetts have passed resolutions supporting the expansion and a recent poll found that 77 percent of the public supports it.

Supporters say the bill will improve recycling rates. About 80 percent of soda and other containers covered under the existing bottle deposit law are redeemed or recycled but only an estimated 22 percent of other uncovered bottles are recycled, according to the Sierra Club’s Massachusetts chapter.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection issued a report recently stating that bottle return machines have the capacity to accept more containers of different types. The agency also said municipalities could save a combined $7 million a year in avoided trash costs under expected improvements in recycling.

But some businesses oppose the expansion because they say it adds cost for the retailers that have to accept the deposits and for beverage distributors that have to pay redemption centers.

Retail groups and beverage manufacturers say the money would be better spent improving curbside recycling programs.

Advocates have been pushing for an expanded bottle bill for years, and now there are 13 different bills pending that would make changes to the state’s bottle deposit law, including one that would repeal it altogether.

The bills would also re-establish a Clean Environment Fund so that unreturned deposit money can be set aside for recycling and environmental projects and boost a fee that beverage distributors pay to bottle redemption centers.

Current MA bottle bill: http://www.mass.gov/dep/recycle/reduce/bbillcon.htm

Categories: legislation, recycle Tags: ,

Shippable Recyclables

May 26th, 2011 1 comment

Almost every household item, from tennis balls to old cell phones, can be recycled —  if you know where to take them.

Many recycling centers only accept the usual suspects – newspapers, aluminum cans and plastic or glass bottles – but there is value and potential reuse in almost everything around your house.  And there are a lot of businesses that allow people to ship them items that the average recycling center or curbside program won’t accept. Some such services will send you a prepaid shipping label so that you don’t have to pay to recycle your item while others require you to pay the shipping cost.

With the advent of digital music and downloadable movies, many households have CDs and DVDs that they no longer use. Many homes and businesses also frequently upgrade their computers and components, leading to extra hard drives lying around.

CDs and DVDs are made of high value recyclable material such as polycarbonate plastic and precious metals.  It is estimated that it will take over a million years for a CD to completely decompose in a landfill.

Another common item found in homes and businesses is Styrofoam, which is one of the hardest materials to recycle because of food contamination. But there are places where you can mail your styrofoam dishes to be recycled.

There are even companies that recycle old tennis balls. Rebounces.com repressurizes dead balls, restoring them to their original bounce.

So next time you plan to toss out something that your city or local recycling facility won’t accept, do a quick search online to see if you can ship the item to a business that specializes in recycling it or go to ecycler and check out the shippable recyclable section where you can print shipping labels pre-populated with addresses to these specialized recyclers.

On ecycler, all you have to do is click on “start recycling” and scroll down to the list of shippable items. You can select from among discs, crayons, tennis balls, alkaline batteries, wine corks, VHS tapes, inkjet cartridges, eyeglasses and keys. Once you indicate how many of those items you have to recycle, you will be taken to your dashboard, where you can view the transaction and print out a customized printing label so that you can ship them off. Ecycler also will e-mail you the shipping label, along with shipping instructions for each type of item.

UPDATE

We officially launched our new landing pages on Nov 15, 2011 (America Recycles Day). We now have the capability to recycle 11 materials:

CD’s, DVD’s and discs: http://ecycler.com/discs
Crayons: http://ecycler.com/crayons
Tennis Balls: http://ecycler.com/tennis_balls
Alkaline Batteries: http://ecycler.com/alkaline
Wine Bottle Corks: http://ecycler.com/corks
VHS Tapes: http://ecycler.com/VHS_tape
Inkjet Cartridges: http://ecycler.com/inkjet
Eyeglasses: http://ecycler.com/eyeglasses
Keys: http://ecycler.com/keys
Bicycle Inner Tubes: http://ecycler.com/inner_tubes
Books: http://ecycler.com/books

More materials will be added as demand increases!

Official Press Release: http://www.free-press-release.com/news-recycle-hard-to-recycle-materials-1321372327.html

Categories: ecycler, materials Tags: ,

Maine Bottle Bill in Dire Straits?

April 26th, 2011 No comments

Maine’s bottle bill is at risk of being vastly modified, if not totally dismantled.

Lawmakers in Maine have made various attempts to modify the state’s 33-year-old bottle bill, which mandates a refund for people who recycle beverage containers. Beverage distributors have lobbied for a repeal of the bill, citing concerns about fraud and inefficiency.

One lawmaker has proposed a bill that would study whether to replace the bottle bill with a  curbside recycling program. The Natural Resources Council of Maine has argued that replacing the deposit collection system could lead to job losses, reduced recycling rates and more litter.

The current law states that larger containers, such as wine and liquor bottles, have a 15-cent deposit. Another proposed bill would exempt all bottles over 28 ounces from deposits.

Yet another bill would reduce the number of pickups beverage distributors would have to make to a redemption center. Currently, distributors must pick up all empty containers from a retailer when making a delivery. The proposed bill would require pickup once a store has generated $750 worth of containers, or once a month.

Those concerned with the various proposals contend that they would undermine recycling efforts in the state by providing less incentive for individuals and distributors to recycle.

Information on the existing Maine Bottle Bill.

Categories: legislation, recycle Tags: ,

Making Plastic into Glass

April 18th, 2011 1 comment

Collectors come to ecycler not only to get recyclables to redeem for cash, but to turn refuse into art.

A Brooklyn-based artist whose glass pieces were featured in the New York Times inquired about collecting plastic bottles, especially Evian bottles, for her work. Her friends save their used plastic bottles for her so that she can repurpose them into beautiful vases and bowls, but she needs to collect items on a larger scale.

Ecycler has received queries from other artists seeking to fashion art out of recyclables, thus opening up a new user base we hadn’t even thought of when creating the site. Ecycler will be featuring an artist named Journi who recently acquired 100 bottles from ecycler’s Recycling Exchange in an upcoming blog posting.

Aluminum, bottles and newspapers (remember those papier-mâché projects from grade school?) are perfect for art projects. School kids and professional artists alike are possible consumers of ecycler.

It just goes to show that one man’s trash really is another’s treasure.

More on the Brooklyn Artist: Shari Mendelson

Thanks GreenWineBottles for use of their image
Categories: materials, recycle Tags: , ,