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Encouraging North Americans to Pollute Less, Consume Fewer Resources, and Use Less Energy since 2007.

(Better Late Than Never).
 
 

 

 

Waste Management

Millions of tons of trash are thrown away in North America each year. It is burned, buried, shipped to different countries, or dumped in the woods or at the next remote rest stop. Recycling is a very popular alternative to putting materials in the garbage, however this can have negative impact on the environment. Huge quantities need to be transported to recycling facilities (with the help of fossil fuels) where they will get processed (which may release toxic by-products). In addition, recycling is better labeled "downcycling" - the collected materials have less quality and cannot be used for products of the same quality. The key to low impact on the environment is avoiding all "disposable" items and accepting the fact that, unless rented or leased, your (or your company's) responsibility for a product does not end when you abandon it or transfer ownership. Next best is the "compostable" item concept. Read on for more ideas.

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Level of Change

Try to not dispose off anything If you keep it, fix it, or reuse it for something else you do not have to replace the item and you create less pollution by keeping it out of the trash and do not become responsible for the making of a new item.
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Avoid products that result in a lot of garbage Some products result in a lot of garbage. Most items you can buy at a department store are over-packaged. Some items have a very short "consumer use period" (= the time the product is actually in use) and are discarded very quickly, some even BEFORE they have ever been used. . Examples are: Anything designed to be disposable. Some of these items can be recycled but even that requires energy. Don't buy it!
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Make sure that trash gets where it needs to be Watch out who is doing the transport of materials that need to go to the dump. Will they drive it to the dump or will it end up being dumped in the woods for free?
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Compost organic waste Composting turns organic waste into compost (no kidding!), a valuable organic fertilizer. If the organic waste is not in the regular trash you have less trash, the trash you have does not smell bad, wild animals are not interested in ripping the bags open, and you do not waste resources for collection, transport, disposal, storage facilities and methods, etc. for that amount of garbage. Throwing the organic waste into a pile and leaving that pile alone for a few years is all you really need to do. There are better and faster methods, but basically that is it.
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Avoid in-sink-garbage disposal Shredding organic waste and pouring it down the drain increases the amount of energy and number of facilities necessary to clean the water to make it drinking water again. Compost instead.
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Recycle plastic, aluminum, glass, metals, paper, cardboard

All of these materials can be transformed into materials that can be reused for making new products. Aluminum and glass even help to reduce the costs for melting any new material when recycled material is added to the mix. Make sure to remove labels and separate all materials. You may even have to disassemble products. Even though recycling can save resources and save energy, in some cases it requires energy and can create toxic waste.

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Bring bins out only when necessary Every time the truck stops to pick up a garbage or recycling container it creates a bit more pollution It needs to accelerate again after and it idles just a bit longer. If the garbage or recycling bin is not full, wait until next week. The garbage guys will thank you too - they are done faster if they only stop for the full containers.
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Recycle large amounts once in a while Make a few trips to the recycling center with a lot of stuff rather than many trips with a few items of recycling or bottles for deposit. It saves energy because it decreases the energy needed for transportation.
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Do not burn any trash at home Burning trash at home is very dangerous. Depending on what is in your trash you can create extremely toxic materials that drift around in the smoke and end up staying in the air/water/soil. Trash burning facilities burn trash at much higher temperatures and also filter the smoke.
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Let it rot Organic waste of any kind will decompose naturally if it is exposed to soil, microorganisms and moisture. Burning it requires just as much oxygen as natural decomposition but it creates pollution in form of small particulate matter in the smoke. If you do not plan to heat your house with it, let it rot.
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Use biodegradable garbage bags made from natural materials This way at least the bags you use to throw out the garbage will decompose in time. Stay away from biodegradable PLASTICS though. They are still made from petro-chemical products and result in wasting those valuable materials.
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Deposit fluorescent light bulbs in hazardous waste collection They contain mercury which will end up in the environment if they break. Mercury is a dangerous heavy metal that accumulates in your body and causes brain damage especially in children.
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Collect toxic trash and bring it to the toxic waste dump or collection Toxic and hazardous waste is either burned in special high temperature ovens with smoke filters or is stored in special land fills with additional lining and other features that make this sort of landfill safer than others. Not perfect though. Better to not purchase what will be toxic later.
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Avoid products that result in toxic waste Batteries, oil paints, gasoline, diesel, kerosene, motor oil, break fluid, anti-freeze, acids, thinners, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, anything-cides, chemical fertilizers, medication, antibiotics, fluorescent light bulbs, etc. are all products that need to be disposed through the hazardous waste collection. If you don`t buy them you don't have to worry.
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Avoid materials that cannot be re-used Materials like fiberglass, carbon fiber, thermoset plastics, particle board, MDF, plywood, concrete, masonite, plaster, ceramic, porcelain, vinyl, kevlar, rubber, ... cannot be recycled and often not be used for anything else and will sooner or later end up in a land-fill or get burned. If you do not have them or products made from those materials, you have nothing to worry about.
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Disassemble a product before disposal In order to recycle materials well it is necessary to separate the materials into groups of alike (or even better: identical) materials. It is difficult to impossible to do this with suitcases, sneakers, most clothes, most sports equipment, boats, pens, etc. All this will be a problem one day. See what you can do to avoid this. Can you disassemble the product? Could it be designed differently?
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Destroy left-over antibiotics Antibiotics need to be kept out of our environment in order to avoid that certain bacteria are getting resistant to those antibiotics. Unfortunately we use them way too much and incorrectly which causes problems. If you are done using them for the prescribed period, put the bottle or pills in the microwave and boil them good. All living antibiotic organisms will be killed and you can dispose off the material without having to worry about negative effects.
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Leave potentially valuable items out for others to take

Somebody may keep it instead of using resources and energy to get it new. Leave it in plain sight and make sure it is clean. Do not break it if it still works. Do not break it further - someone may be able to fix what is broken now.

Check if you can give it away or even sell it online (Freecycle, Craigslist, Lespac, ect.).

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Pick through other's garbage

If you find it valuable - keep it instead of using resources and energy to get something new.

Check if you can acquire or buy it for little money online (Freecycle, Craigslist, Lespac, ect.).

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