Posts Tagged ‘waste’
That’s right! The City of Austin’s begun a zero-waste initiative that, with proper implementation, will divert 95 percent of waste away from landfills by 2040. The initiative is a project of Austin Resource Recovery, formerly known as Solid Waste Services. “The new name is more in line with the Department’s mission toward zero waste,” says the Austin Resource Recovery home page. Bob Gedert, who is director of the program, further explains “With the advent of zero waste, material collected is now seen as a resource that is recovered for a second life, rather than a waste stream destined for a landfill.”
With this shift in thinking, comes the city’s plan which, according to this recent article in Community Impact, will aim to “reduce costs for those who produce less waste.” This means the city wants to reward those who divert the most waste from entering landfills, and will encourage folks to take advantage of improved recycling programs and composting carts (scheduled to become available in 2015). Yay!
Produce less waste, spend less money – it’s a win-win and we love it!
(image: Austin 360)
Most are aware of the environmental hazards plastic bags can cause. Renegade shopping equipment has never been a friend of natural habitats, waterways, or wildlife. When not shown to a proper disposal site, billowy plastic bags can fly for miles, earning the title of “second state bird” in areas where they’ve become notorious. Here in Central Texas, city officials of Austin and now San Marcos are taking steps towards banning plastic birds (to be read: bags) so that they can no longer be given away for free by retailers.
The ban is a welcome change for those who are dedicated to waste reduction and sustainability. Plastic bags, despite having a recycle symbol printed on them, are difficult and expensive to recycle by most facilities; a great number them end up in landfills. Needless to say, at in.gredients we’re excited to see them go, and recognize the ban as a step toward the “precycling” ethos we promote: reduce, reuse, then recycle.
For what it’s worth, the ordinance is also favored by local mockingbirds who “don’t want to share their habitat or the limelight with those impostors.”
Many US towns, cities, and in some cases states are encouraging citizens to reduce waste in their homes to reduce landfill-bound waste and pollution levels – reminding us that while our personal convictions about reducing waste make it feel like an ideology, the driving forces behind this line of thinking are actually health, safety, and environmental sustainability.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does a great job of educating Pennsylvanians on how to reduce waste in their homes on this page, which includes the following five tips:
- Buy durable products instead of those that are disposable or cheaply made.
- Repair/restore used items before replacing them.
- Buy items you can re-use. Re-using margarine tubs to freeze foods or pack lunches, for instance, reduces the need for foil or plastic wrap.
- Buy items you can recycle locally through curbside collection or recycling centers.
- Avoid excess packaging when choosing product brands. Buy products in bulk. Buy just the amount you need: larger sizes reduce the amount of packaging, but smaller sizes reduce leftover waste.
Hmm, where have we heard this before…anyway, this is what in.gredients wants to make easy for customers. Reduce, reuse, then recycle.
(image: Lillie in the City)
Next to food packaging, tissues might actually be runner-up for “most household waste generated” on a regular basis – especially during allergy season. According to Innovateus, an individual in an American household uses nearly 50 lbs of tissue paper per year! Don’t want the waste on your conscience? Applying the precycling approach (reduce, reuse, then recycle) to tissues is fun and rewarding.
The zero waste solution? Reusable tissues (and napkins), made from spare fabric, cloth, or apparel. Making Do With The Not So New offers a good walk-through for this, suggesting the following easy steps:
1. Cut fabric to 12×12″ for a tissue, 16×16″ for a napkin.
2. Hem the edges with a sewing machine.
Just think – new, soft tissues from those T-shirts you haven’t worn in months, great conversation-starters, and 50 lbs of waste reduced! Wins all around.
You may want to consider…
1. Setting out little baskets or dishes with your new hankies around the house for easy access.
2. Placing some sort of receptacle for used hankies in an easy location for guests.
(image via: Making Do With The Not So New)
Tired of dropping money on so many cleaning products? Make your own! Tsh Oxenreider, of SimpleMom, does a great job of explaining how easy (and *healthy*) it is to make your own non-toxic cleaners on her blog and in her latest book.
Tsh notes the following benefits of do-it-yourself cleaners:
1. Non-toxic cleaners are perfectly safe around children.
2. Non-toxic cleaners keep the air you breathe clean.
3. Non-toxic cleaners are much, much cheaper.
4. Non-toxic cleaners don’t harm the environment.
We add these benefits to the list:
5. Making your own cleaners reduces packaging waste (if you’re reusing your bottles).
6. Making multi-purpose cleaners saves space in your home, since separate cleaners aren’t always necessary for every household cleaning task.
Check out Tsh’s recipe here, on her blog. We’ll offer each of the simple ingredients in our store, package-free.
Ever wonder if you could recycle a film container? What about corks, or used CDs? These items, and many other “gray area” things, are usually not recyclable – but remember, within the “precycling” philosophy (reduce, reuse, then recycle), recycling’s the last step when it comes to minimizing waste.
Here’s a way to reuse some of the more “random” household items: the Austin Children’s Museum at 2nd and Colorado accepts the following items as donations, to be used for interactive museum activities:
-toilet paper/paper towel tubes
-yogurt/plastic cups (washed)
-paper/cardboard boxes (no cereal boxes)
-Styrofoam egg cartons (though the museum’s not taking these until further notice)
-plastic bottle caps
-paper: 8×8 inches or larger
-cardboard: 8×8 inches or larger
-yarn or string: 1 foot or longer
-fabric: 8×8 inches or larger
-materials that will inspire creativity in young minds. for example; wires, bulldog clips, clothespins, magnets, paperclips, etc.
-any design materials, materials books (carpet books, fabric books, material samples, etc)
HOW TO DO IT
You can drop off these goods at the museum during normal business hours. To decrease the workload of the museum’s volunteers, the museum has asked donators to sort your donations into (reusable or recyclable!) bags of like items.
If you have questions about Design Center supply donations, or have a donation you are unsure about, please call the museum at +1 512 472 2499, ext 202.
(image via: Austin Children’s Museum)
We’ve talked a lot about our society’s food waste problems. If you want to know how bad those problems are, just consider the fact that as a country we feed landfills as fast as we feed people. Buying in bulk, in.gredients style, gives you better control over food waste in your home – but what about at restaurants? There’s almost always the option of taking any extra food home, perhaps in your own containers – but here’s an example of a restaurant that cracked down on food waste in an extraordinary way (and probably didn’t offer to-go containers): Hayashi Ya, a Japanese buffet venue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side that closed its doors in 2009, added a 30 percent surcharge to customers’ tabs if they didn’t finish what was on their plate. The hope – reported YumSugar, who interviewed Hayashi Ya’s manager Ben Lin in late 2008 – was to reduce waste on the back-end in addition to the front-end. Implementing waste-minimization incentives for customers, Lin thought, would keep Hayashi Ya from carrying a surplus of ingredients in their inventory, which would put them at risk of spoiling good food.
There’s a lot of truth to that thought – but obviously, the charge-for-unfinished-food strategy didn’t fly with customers. This isn’t surprising, considering the better actions Hayashi Ya could have taken to reduce food waste (composting on site and gardening, having compost picked up using a service, encouraging the use of reusable to-go containers, not serving food buffet-style, etc, etc). But the restaurant’s root idea wasn’t wild at all: we care about reducing food waste, and want to inspire (or, um, require) our customers to care too, and by doing so we can reduce our own costs and waste behind the scenes.
So, what do you think of the charge-for-unfinished-food approach? Is it a good idea for restaurants? Or is composting, bring-your-own to-go container, or something else a better approach? Or is building your business model completely around waste reduction the healthiest way (or only way) to promote sustainable living?