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Phoenix Faces Challenges Initiating Recycling Program for Multifamily Residences

March 1st, 2012 No comments

Phoenix, Arizona, named after the mythological firebird forever reborn from the ashes of its former self, is currently implementing a pilot recycling program for city-owned multifamily housing in low income neighborhoods. But there are particular challenges involved, mainly spreading awareness to residents regarding what goes into which receptacle, and inciting them to take advantage of such accessible means to recycle. In addition, city officials plan to overcome these obstacles by handing off awareness responsibilities to city property managers, a strategy that may lead to interesting outcomes.

The incentives for Phoenix to enact sustainability programs throughout city-owned property is clear. They need to reduce management costs over time and one way to do so is to make multifamily residences more sustainable. The pilot program being implemented at two city-owned apartment complexes, Park Lee Apartments and Sunnyslope Manor, hopes to prove this is possible, after which it will be extended to all low-income housing units under Phoenix ownership. If shown effective on such a grand scale, the program will be further expanded to cover all multifamily city residences to help curb waste management costs.

The problem is that property managers paid by the city are basically doing their bosses bidding by creating ways to inform residents as to the existence of recycling bins and the ways in which the waste is separated into them. Private-sector property managers aren’t going to be so pressured to go out of their way to inform and enforce a recycling program throughout low-income housing. In addition, initiating such a program among working-class, unemployed, and often unsettled droves of individuals raises its own set of challenges.

Such housing units in the northwest corridor between Phoenix and Scottsdale see all walks of life, from stay-at-home moms to transients to those who need just a little help getting back to being productive members of society. This diversity further complicates matters for those behind the program and managers tasked with making their property more sustainable. Schedules are odd, struggling families are resistant to change, and the residents themselves move in and out so much that it’s hard to ingrain any sort of habit change on a mass scale.

We know from experience a recycling program is successful based on these three factors:

  • Convenience
  • Education
  • Economics

Informing people about how to identify, separate and properly dispose of their recycling in and of itself takes little more than leaving fliers door to door and emailing a recycling FAQ. But things get harder when it comes to dishing out the responsibilities to property managers without offering incentives, and reaching out to individuals who are either too busy trying to get by to care or aren’t even bothered enough to throw their garbage in a trash can. Will Phoenix succeed in instituting a city-wide recycling program for multifamily residences? That depends on how badly they want to live up to their city’s namesake.

We can offer our Lessons Learned: Recycle Bin Setup

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Reducing, Reusing and Recycling in the Workplace

January 17th, 2012 No comments

We often talk about (brag about!) being earth-friendly, going green and recycling in our home. But most of us spend a good portion of our lives in another environment, one that generates its own share of waste: the workplace. Whether you work for a large company or a small business, you likely have an office in which you spend five or more days a week. That office requires heating and cooling; it uses paper, appliances, and other materials; and it creates waste just as prolifically as does the home – if not more so.

If you are a business manager or simply an outspoken person in your office, you can take concerted steps toward reducing, reusing and recycling in the workplace. Here’s how:

REDUCE

Technology has made it increasingly easy to reduce in the workplace. By using cloud computing, electronic billing, and email communication a business can go paperless and save troves of trash (and money) the process. You can also reduce on your electricity consumption by installing intelligent thermostats and energy-efficient lighting. The possibilities are truly endless and the potential for savings are considerable. As a successful energy-reducer can tell you, you don’t need solar power to save on utilities in the workplace.

REUSE

Changing workplace trends dictate that companies are always creating waste. Every technological and management change likely yields discarded furniture, printers, and various other office items. All of these materials can be donated to agencies that will help reuse them in some capacity. An office truly committed to being environmentally-friendly is not one that will leave generations of printers sitting in a landfill.

RECYCLE

Most people find it far easier to recycle in the home than in the workplace. The reason? At home, many of us have a dedicated bin for trash and another one dedicated for recycling. Every time we empty the trash or take the bins to the curb we are reminded to sort the recyclables out from the items that are not. We often don’t get this kind of reminder in the office, where trash receptacles are abundant but recycling bins are a far rarer find. There’s an easy solution to this, however: next to every trash can add a well-marked recycling bin. Certainly make sure there is one in the kitchen or wherever employees tend to eat their lunch.

Hopefully these tips can help your business better reduce, reuse and recycle. Doing so not only helps the environment, but can also translate favorably towards the company’s bottom line. As far as the workplace is concerned, there’s really no reason not to go green.

Top-20 Ways to Make your Business Greenerhttp://blog.ecycler.com/2010/11/13/top-20-ways-to-make-your-business-greener/

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Connect with Us on Pinterest!

December 31st, 2011 No comments

We are all about recycling and being green. Some may call it junk, but it can certainly be reused, recycled or upcycled! With so much upcycling inspiration around here, we thought Pinterest would be a great place to showcase some of our discoveries!

If you’re not familiar with Pinterest, think of it as a place to create virtual inspiration boards. If you see a craft project, a recipe, or anything else that inspires you, you can “pin it” on your Pinterest account to find later (and to show-off to the world!).

We use ecyler’s Pinterest board to bookmark and share awesome, eco-friendly, upcycled stuff that we stumble across. We want to create a pinboard that’s got green crafty inspiration for home decor, clothing and accessories and any other awesome upcycled or revamped craft projects we stumble upon in our travels. We also post some interesting images of recycling of materials from aluminum cans to wine bottle corks.

Want to keep up with the eco-friendly, upcycle action on Pinterest? Follow the ecycler Pinterest board! We’d also love to connect with other green pinners out there. Do you have a Pinterest account? Tell us who you are in the comments!

A Green Shave

September 1st, 2011 No comments

Special guest post by John Koontz.

In the quest to reduce our impact on landfills and environment, many men (and women) are forgoing the morning shave. However, some of us can’t rock the beard like Sean Connery and get away with it. So what’s a guy to do? Good news. There is a way to be environmentally conscious and still look dapper – traditional wet shaving. Let me illustrate by using the proverbial “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.”

REDUCE – Wet shaving products reduce your use of disposable materials and you will find yourself purchasing these items less frequently because they were designed to last. Unlike a cartridge razor you find in the drugstore, a quality double edge razor (like the Edwin Jagger DE89L or Merkur 34C) will last for decades, with only a simple metal blade to change. A straight razor, like one from Hart Steel (made in the USA, by the way) can be used for centuries. Take care of your shaving brush (Simpson Colonel) and it will last longer than most cars. Unlike shaving goop in a can, a hard soap will last at least 6 months of daily use. You can easily see the reliance on extraneous materials, like the plastic in a disposable razor handle, or metal can for shaving foam, will be drastically reduced.

REUSE – If these tools last so long, you may have guessed used items are easy to find. And you’d be correct. Razors are commonly found at online auctions, flea markets and antique stores. However, if you’re scared of the nasties from the previous unknown user, we understand. Buy a new razor and know that your kids can reuse it when you’re gone. Refills for soap bowls are available so the wood bowls can be used for years. The plastic containers for shaving cream are nice quality and can be used to store and organize small items, like screws in the garage.

RECYCLE – While the items that could be discarded are few, the ones that are can be recycled. From the daily shave itself, only the double edge blade is discarded about once a week. Being metal, it is easily recycled. Most packaging of wet shaving products is simple, often consisting of only a simple cardboard box or tissue paper. Again, easily recycled.

You’ll also find that wet shaving products have a focus on being healthier, cutting out many nasty chemicals and using more eco and face friendly ingredients (like products from The Gentlemen’s Refinery or Edwin Jagger). You probably already figured out that wet shaving products are far more economical. (Shhhhh! The cartridge razor companies don’t want you to know this.) And if all this wasn’t enough, most people that try wet shaving find it simply works better. Less razor burn, fewer ingrown hairs, smoother shave. You may even start to enjoy that morning chore.

Grandpa had it right a hundred years ago!

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ecycler checks in!

June 17th, 2011 No comments

There are many great options to enable your business across facebook and twitter in what we, ecycler, call second tier social media channels. A couple of obvious examples are YouTube, TwitPic and Flickr. We would also include del.icio.us in this group. One way we’ve found to go beyond the standards is to engage our community with these great services.

One of our favorites is a site called foursquare.com––it is a geo-centric check-in service. It is a friend-finder, a social city guide and a game that challenges users to experience new things, and rewards them for doing so. Foursquare lets users “check in” to a place when they’re there, tell friends where they are and track the history of where they’ve been and who they’ve been there with…

In addition to monitoring the commodities market (aluminum, cardboard, paper) via special websites, we find going to (or calling) our local recycling center for “on-the-ground” reality an important aspect of ecycler.com. If you’re following ecycler on foursquare, you’ll see our occasional check-in to various recycling centers.

We also foursquare any of the green events ecycler attends. For example, in late May we attended an event at St. Pascal School in Chicago to show support of the rally’s mission of raising awareness among students about the importance of recycling. St. Pascal won PepsiCo’s Dream Machine Recycle Rally Dream Green School Makeover contest, a $100,000 prize that it will use to make green improvements at the school including a new energy efficient computer lab powered by solar energy.

Naturally, we check-in to ecycler HQ regularly to update our followers on upcoming site features or to send out random messages.

Follow us on foursquare! We are foursquare.com/ecycler

ecycler Development Team

March 29th, 2011 No comments

A special guest post by our development team at Virtual Communications:

Established in 2005, Virtual Communications is an environmentally conscious IT consulting company. Their services include software and web development, Facebook and mobile apps, call center and BPO services, video conferencing, VoIP solutions, training and technical support for consumers and corporations.

With their goal set on providing a high standard of work, Virtual Communications focuses on world class coding standards and best practices. The skills pool covers all development platforms–they have experience working with Fortune 500 companies and multinationals and enjoy a high customer retention rate.

A recent project presented Virtual Communications with an opportunity to work with a green company. The successful launch of ecycler has helped promote a great service that puts collectors of recyclable materials in contact with those who have them to give away.

We love working with an organization whose goal is to redistribute recyclable materials in order to make good use of it and make sure it is used to the fullest of its ability to reduce waste worldwide.

To make the world a greener place as well as reduce their carbon footprint, Virtual Communications makes a conscious effort in their offices to reduce waste output. For example, the offices are illuminated entirely by energy efficient florescent bulbs, which reduces costs and is environmentally friendly. Backup generators are powered by natural gas which is far more efficient and expels fewer pollutants than gasoline or diesel. They use recycled paper, recycle all waste paper and ink cartridges. And, drinking water is provided in 19 liter (5 gallon) reusable plastic bottles which cuts down on waste from non-reusable sources.

By continuing their green initiatives they hope to make the community around their offices a safer, cleaner place and reflect these ideals across their worldwide client base, subsequently making the world greener. With all of these practices in place they are able to cut down on costs as well as the waste and pollutants associated with any business.

Virtual Communications’ work with ecycler has no doubt inspired and has reinforced the benefits of recycling. They encourage their partners and clients to maintain the environment to the best of their ability.

Check out Virtual Communications for more details!

Categories: friends of ecycler Tags: ,

Ink and Toner Cartridge Recycling Guide

January 20th, 2011 No comments

Going Green, Saving Energy, Saving the Planet, Renewable energy and Recycling; these are words heard daily on the television, radio, Social Media and read in newspapers. When people think of recycling, the first thing that usually comes to mind is paper, aluminum cans and plastic bottles; using wind or water for energy.

Two common items used daily are Inkjet Cartridges and Laser Toner Cartridges–these are easily recycled, but often NOT recycled. Each year over 300 million Ink and Toner Cartridges are thrown away and end up in landfills, this amount is equal to the weight of about 67,600 SUV’s. That is an unacceptable number! But, it gets worse–the average Toner Cartridge takes approximately 500 years to decompose. And, it takes up to three quarts of oil to produce the average laser toner cartridge and 2.5 ounces to produce the average inkjet cartridge.

A few more facts to ponder:

  • On average, toner cartridges weigh an estimated 2.5 pounds and each new toner cartridge requires half a gallon of oil to make new plastic. One remanufactured cartridge keeps 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic out of the landfill and saves a half gallon of oil.
  • The average laser cartridge will add 2.75 pounds of plastic and metals to landfills.
  • Using recycled cartridges to make new cartridges (i.e., remanufactured cartridges) reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 89%.

If a concerted effort is made to recycle cartridges both at home and at the office, it would make a big difference for the environment.

It is as easy as searching Earth911.com for “Toner Cartridges” or “Inkjet Cartridges” and your ZIP code. Empty Ink and Toner Cartridges can be brought in person to many different office supply stores, sometimes in exchange for deposits on new cartridges. There are also quite a few online businesses that accept empty cartridges. They usually send to you a pre-paid mailer in which to send the empty cartridges back and upon inspection, some businesses will even give cash!

Whether recycling the cartridges online, sending them back to the manufacturer or returning them in-store, make sure the instructions for returns are followed precisely. This ensures each party properly benefits from the return.

What to look out for when sending in empty cartridges? Here are a few points:

  • Meet the minimum cartridge requirements
  • Some businesses only accept ink cartridges
  • Some businesses only accept OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) cartridges

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Yes! You Can Recycle Styrofoam!

December 26th, 2010 12 comments

Special guest post by RecycleScene.

Have you ever tried to recycle Styrofoam? It sure can be difficult–but, it’s not impossible. Styrofoam is also known as Expanded PolyStyrene (EPS). If it is landfilled, the material never breaks down. When it’s burned, it creates a toxic ash. With the holiday season especially, there’s an avalanche of it surrounding our gifts and arriving at our doorsteps. Polystyrene’s blessings are also a curse- its light weight and durability make it such a great packaging material, but currently in the USA, foam packaging is being recycled at a rate of only about 10-12% each year.

What is Styrofoam?

Styrofoam is only one name for polystyrene plastic, and is a Dow Chemical Co. trademarked form of polystyrene foam insulation. Polystyrene is made from styrene, a petroleum by-product. Styrene was first commercially produced during World War II in the production of synthetic rubber. Only about 5% of a foam package is polystyrene, the remainder is air. Part of what makes food containers, for example, so difficult to recycle is that they are generally contaminated and require cleaning before they can be processed. Unfortunately, this makes recycling less cost effective. For more information visit the Polystyrene Packaging Council.

Drop Off Styrofoam For Recycling Near You

Thankfully, Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers is a great resource for finding out where to drop off or mail your Styrofoam. Their collection system relies on EPS manufacturers to serve as recycling locations, allowing AFPR members reprocess up to 60% of the post consumer foam collected and incorporate it directly into new packaging. Expanded polystyrene has a National Mail-Back Program if drop-off sites are not available.

TIP: Make sure your Styrofoam is clean and free of any tape, labels, film or glued-on cardboard.

American Chemistry also provides a resource to search by zip code to find a company near you that will actually buy back protective polystyrene packaging from you. Click the button that says, “Less Than Truckload Quantity” to choose your state.

Packing Peanuts

The Plastic Loose Fill Council promotes reuse of polystyrene, or packing peanuts. The Loose Fill Council provides a very easy way for you to search for a place to drop off your polystyrene loose fill packaging. You simply search loosefillpackaging.com by zip code for a place that will reuse your packing peanuts.

The Council’s Peanut Hotline is a national, 24-hour consumer hotline and website directory service with referrals to the nearest locations that accept packing peanuts for reuse. Call the Peanut Hotline at: 1800-828-2214. Many local businesses gladly accept peanuts free of charge for reuse, so look into Postal Annex and Mail Boxes Etc. Try and give a little to the planet this season- don’t let your Styrofoam end up in a landfill!

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3 Ways to Recycle Soda Bottles and Use Them in Your Garden

November 22nd, 2010 4 comments

Special guest post by Mike Lieberman.

Starting your own garden doesn’t require you to invest a lot of money on new containers. With a bit of creativity you can repurpose old items to grow in.

One item that I’ve been able to use in multiple ways is a soda bottle.

According to Earth911, “Less than 1 percent of all plastics is recycled. Therefore, almost all plastics are incinerated or end up in a landfill.”

So why not do your part and keep the soda bottles from the landfill.

Unfortunately soda bottles are a plenty and can be found nearly anywhere. During Keep America Beautiful’s 2009 Great American Cleanup, volunteers recovered and recycled 243,000,000 PET (plastic) bottles that littered highways, waterways and parks.

Here are three ways that I’ve successfully used soda bottles in my garden. Whether you have a backyard or a windowsill, you can utilize one of these low-cost ideas in your garden today.

Hanging Soda Bottle Planter

These are easy to make and hang well from railings and hand rails. I had about 10 of these lining the railing on my fire escape.

Self-Watering Container

If you have limited space and are lazy about watering, you can pack a lot of these in a small space to grow your veggies.

Herb Garden on a Shipping Pallet

For those of you that are bit more handy or would like a small challenge, you can double up on your recycling with this project by using a shipping pallet and soda bottles.

Help to give another life to a soda bottle and new life to a plant.

Thanks Mike!

Mike Lieberman started urban gardening and growing some of his own food in May 2009 on his fire escape in NYC. He inspires others to start growing their own food on his blog Urban Organic Gardener. Lieberman believes that growing just one herb or vegetable will make a difference. It will help to cut back the intensive resources that go into the production and transport of food to our plates. It will also help us to re-establish our connection with food that we’ve lost over the past few years. We are humans. We grow food. For more information on Lieberman, please visit CanarsieBK.com.

Cool People Care

November 11th, 2010 No comments

Cool People Care is aiming to be the online destination for people to live a more caring lifestyle.

Begun in 2006 as a way for people wanting to change the world to find organizations near them doing just that, Cool People Care produces daily content, hosts a nonprofit directory in the US, and lists charitable events for nearly every community in the US. Likewise, it offers an eco-friendly line of inspirational and fund raising merchandise as it grows its brand and impact with each sale made.

The founders – Sam Davidson and Stephen Moseley – co-wrote New Day Revolution: How to Save the World in 24 Hours in 2007. Since then, the pair have helped thousands of individuals and nonprofits connect and make the world a better place.

Visit CoolPeopleCare.org and learn more about their exciting work, sign up to get their daily email of one thing you can do in less than five minutes to make a positive impact, and begin living the reality that cool people care.

Categories: ecycler, friends of ecycler Tags: