4 Reasons to Kick That Plastic Water Bottle Habit

If you’re one of the millions of Americans still buying bottled water, don’t worry — now is the perfect time to kick that habit. Here are four reasons why:

1. In the U.S., bottled water is not subject to the same reporting standards as tap water. If you’re drinking bottled water because you think it’s safer, know that tap water has to be tested far more often than bottled water. Additionally, in most big cities, water facilities are required to filter and disinfect tap water, whereas bottled water is not required to be filtered or disinfected. If you’re not sure that your tap water is safe, you can look up your zip code in the Environmental Working Group’s Tap Water Database to find the local water report.

2. According to MoneyCrashers, bottled water is 600 times more expensive than tap water, on average. However, if you’re buying a 16.9 oz bottle for $1.00, you’re paying over 3,000 times what you’d pay for tap. Considering that a quarter of all bottled water is tap water anyway, that’s quite a markup.

3. Bottled water isn’t always tastier than tap water. In blind taste tests, tap water tends to trounce half or more of its bottled water competition.

4. Globally, about one million plastic bottles are bought every minute. Most of these plastic bottles end up in landfills or the ocean. Researchers have estimated that about 8 million metric tons of plastic ends up in our oceans every year, where it breaks down and enters the food chain and eventually our own bodies. Creating all those bottles also uses up a huge amount of energy, and produces toxic chemicals and greenhouse gases in the process.

Kicking your plastic water bottle habit won’t just be good for the planet, it’ll be good for you, too! It’s easy — just pick up a reusable bottle and fill it with tap.

What Is a Circular Economy?

A lot of folks these days are talking about shifting to a ‘circular economy.’ Not sure what that means? Watch this video from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation for a quick rundown.

New York City Tackles Wasteful Fashion With #WearNext Campaign

This spring, New York City is tackling waste created by the fashion industry with its #WearNext campaign. Between March 4 and June 9, over 1,100 locations in NYC are accepting clothing, textiles, shoes and accessories for reuse and recycling.

To help people get rid of their clothing more easily, the NYC Department of Sanitation created an online map of the sites where New Yorkers can take unwanted clothing. Participating residents are encouraged to share their stories on social media using the #WearNext hashtag.

The goal of the #WearNext campaign is to reduce how many clothes New Yorkers toss, and motivate them to repair, donate, swap or resell their clothes instead. New York City alone dumps roughly 200 million pounds of clothing into landfills each year. That’s more than the weight of 440 Statues of Liberty.

Globally, only one percent of old clothing is used to make new clothing. An estimated $500 billion dollars worth of clothing is lost to landfills or incineration every year, even though it is barely worn. Additionally, washing synthetic clothing releases more than half a million tons of plastic microfibers into the ocean every year. In other words, the equivalent of more than 50 billion plastic bottles enters our water supply and food chain, just from washing our clothes.

We can all help the fashion industry move towards a more sustainable model. How? Avoid fast fashion and find ways to repair, donate, swap or resell your clothes. You can also consider buying clothing secondhand instead of new. Check out our options for mail-in donations as well as our local donation locations.

How to Keep Your Graduation Gown Out of the Landfill

At the end of every spring is graduation time. Schools all over the country will send their fledglings out into the world or onto their next degree. Students are typically required to purchase their own cap and gown, even though chances are they’ll be worn just once before getting tossed.

This year alone, U.S. high schools expect 3.6 million students to graduate. That’s a lot of caps and gowns to make room for in our landfills.

So how can you avoid buying a graduation gown that will end up in the trash? Here are some tips:

  • Ask if your school has a cap and gown rental program. If you can rent your graduation attire, you won’t have to find a way to get rid of it after the ceremony!
  • If you’ve already bought a new cap and gown, see if you can donate them to your school after graduation. If your school doesn’t have a rental program, encourage them to start one. It’s a great way to avoid unnecessary waste, as well as a way to relieve students from the financial responsibility.
  • Give your cap and gown to a younger friend or sibling, or hang onto it until the following spring, when people will be looking, and post it on a local sales app such as Craigslist, Freecycle, Letgo or OfferUp. You could also try taking it to a local thrift store.
  • Try giving your graduation outfit to a daycare or preschool where kids could use it for playing dress-up, or a theater or drama club that could add it to their costume collection.

10 Surprising Things You Can’t Flush Down the Toilet

We all know what the toilet and its plumbing were designed for, but a lot of us can’t help it — sometimes other things seem like they can be flushed down the drain, too.

However, there can be a lot of unwanted consequences from flushing things down the drain that don’t belong. (Hint: most things don’t!)

There’s an environmental hazard of adding foreign substances to our water supply. Whether they’re chemicals or plastic, water treatment plants aren’t equipped to filter out all of these substances, so they build up in our drinking water over time.

Skip the mess — and contaminating our drinking water — by keeping these common offenders out of the drain, whether it’s your toilet, a shower or a sink. Click on each one to learn the best way to dispose of it.

1. Medicine

2. “Flushable” Wipes

3. Paper Towels & Facial Tissue

4. Diapers

5. Hair

6. Cooking Oil & Grease

7. Cigarettes

8. Cleaning Products (including bleach)

9. Paint

10. Contact Lenses

The Most Commonly Littered Item? Cigarette Butts — And They’re Plastic

More cigarettes are littered than plastic bags, straws, bottles, wrappers or takeout packaging. They’re the most common type of litter on the planet. Why? Because many people find it socially acceptable to throw cigarette butts on the ground.

The Ocean Conservancy has been facilitating beach clean-ups since 1986. In the past 30+ years, they have collected over 60 million cigarette filters, making them the most common piece of ocean litter. In 2017 alone, cleanup volunteers collected 2.4 million butts.

It’s estimated that 5.6 trillion cigarettes are consumed each year, and as many as two-thirds of the filters are littered.

No matter how you want to count it, that’s a pretty big problem. And what makes it even worse is that they’re made from plastic. For a long time, people have believed that cigarette filters are made of paper and that they biodegrade naturally, but that isn’t true.

According to NBC News, 90% of cigarettes contain a plastic-based filter. Plastic pollution is dangerous because of how it breaks down — or rather, how it doesn’t break down. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade, it photodegrades. So it breaks down into smaller pieces with the help of heat and sunlight, but it never stops existing as plastic. Unlike other organic materials that can be eaten and digested and recomposed, plastic just stays plastic.

When cigarette filters break down and are eaten by wildlife, the plastic fibers accumulate in the bodies of the animals and work their way up the food chain. Before the filters begin breaking down, they release all the chemicals they absorbed from the cigarette smoke, including nicotine, arsenic and lead.

Many of these cigarette filters end up in the ocean. Some are tossed directly by beachgoers. Others are washed from sidewalks and street corners into gutters, storm drains, local waterways, and they make their way into the ocean from there.

If you smoke, be careful to dispose of your butts in ashtrays and trash cans, so that they don’t end up polluting our environment and endangering wildlife.

Community Fridges Fight Food Waste

In the United Kingdom, supermarkets, restaurants and residents have begun putting excess food into public refrigerators to share it with the community.

Sharing unwanted or unneeded food can prevent food waste and help feed the hungry. Watch this video to learn more about The People’s Fridge:

Green Waste Service Information

Spring has arrived, and that means green waste collection will be resuming. As a reminder, green bag service ended June 30, 2018. Your new green waste disposal options are:

1. Green Waste Carts

Green waste carts will resume service on your collection day the week of May 6-10. This is an every-other-week service, May – October.

It’s not too late to order! Order your cart by April 15 for free delivery in time for the start of the season. Carts ordered after April 15 may be picked up by the customer at no charge on designated pick-up days or can be delivered for a fee. First time green cart orders can be made online and orders for additional green carts must be made by calling TTSD at (530) 583-7800.

2. Green Waste Dumpster Rentals

Truckee residents can rent a 6-yard green waste dumpster for only $70! Dumpsters are delivered to residences on Wednesday and retrieved full the following Wednesday, May – September only. Call TTSD at (530) 583-7800 to order. These will sell out, so order fast!

*Plus, new this year: Truckee Fire Protection District is offering a $70 rebate for green waste dumpster rentals! Simply provide a paid receipt from TTSD and the Fire District will reimburse you. One dumpster rebate per household, until funds last. Call the Fire District at (530) 582-7850 for details.

3. Self-Haul

Each Truckee household can drop off up to 6-yards of green waste to Eastern Regional Landfill May – October. No green bags are accepted, loose green waste only. You must unload yourself and ID is required.

*Hiring a contractor? Get a free drop-off coupon code. You can download a coupon code and your contractor can drop off your yard materials for free, on your behalf. Simply log into your TTSD online account at waste101.com.

4. Scheduled Overage

Up to 4 times per year, TTSD will collect up to 96-gallons of additional waste on a resident’s regular pick-up day for FREE. Residents must schedule this in advance through your online account at waste101.com. This can be used for any waste, including green waste. Waste can be secured in cans, bags, or bundles.

Green Your Grocery Trip With Reusable Produce Bags

Springtime is here, and the markets are about to become jam-packed with fresh fruits and veggies. Now is the perfect time to stock up on reusable produce bags!

We all know it’s better to use reusable grocery bags instead of plastic ones, but what about plastic produce bags? Reusable produce bags are a simple and affordable way to avoid single-use plastic. They’re easy to find online, and they can also be found at certain grocery stores and home goods stores. Bags made from cotton or other natural fibers are best. Simply toss them in the wash with other linens when they get dirty.

Pro tip: Once you have reusable produce bags, stash a few of them inside one of your reusable shopping bags, and keep them in your car at all times so that you don’t forget to bring them to the store!

If you’re still using plastic produce bags, you can recycle these with plastic bags. They need to be empty and dry, so give them a good shake to get any last crumbs out. If they need to be rinsed, you can prop them in your dish rack to dry. (Paper towel holders work really well, too!)

Are You ‘Tidying Up With Marie Kondo’? Here’s How to Do It the Green Way

Since the Marie Kondo Netflix special ‘Tidying Up With Marie Kondo’ was released on January 1, tidying up has become a nationwide craze. Although the Japanese decluttering expert has been on and off the New York Times bestseller list since her first U.S. book was published in 2014, her Instagram following has increased by nearly 2 million since her Netflix debut. In the same timeframe, resale stores around the country are claiming that their donation piles have reached record levels. Clearly, her ideas are catching on.

If you are one of many Americans with too much “stuff,” it’s not a bad idea to downsize. However, most “stuff” takes a long time to break down once it’s in the landfill, and when it comes to plastic, it might never break down. If you decide to use the KonMari method to declutter, follow these tips to make sure as little ends up in the landfill as possible.

1. Don’t toss everything into a garbage bag. Not everything you’re getting rid of is trash. If someone would still pay money for it, sell it. If someone would still use it, donate it. If the item needs fixing, repair it. And if the material is recyclable, recycle it! Only toss what truly cannot be reused or recycled.

2. Donate only what you would give to a friend. Donating is a great way to extend the life of your belongings! Find a list of our local donation locations here. However, most resale organizations — charity or not — end up tossing the items they can’t sell. So don’t donate belongings you wouldn’t feel comfortable giving to one of your friends. If you have items that you think someone would use, but no one would pay money for them (such as partially used cleaning products), try giving them away for free on Craigslist or Freecycle. Otherwise, find a way to recycle them instead.

3. Repair items that need it, or give them to someone who will. Sure, repairing something is a pain, whether it’s your toilet or a boot with a broken zipper. On the flip side, repairing something extends its life and reduces how much you need to buy. If you have something that you can’t fix, try giving it away or selling it at a reduced price. Local sales apps are great for this, including OfferUp, Letgo, Craigslist, Freecycle and Facebook Marketplace. You can advertise that your item needs some TLC, and that way, someone who has the time and skills to repair it can find it.

4. Recycle or upcycle items that can’t be used again. If you no longer have a use for something, and you don’t think your friends would use it either, find out if you can recycle it. For example, textiles can’t be recycled curbside, but you can recycle them in other ways. Clothing companies ThredUp and For Days will both recycle your old clothes, and For Days will even give you up to $50 in store credit. If you’re feeling crafty, you could take all the T-shirts in your closet that don’t bring you joy and turn them into T-shirt yarn for crafting. Find more alternative recycling programs and reuse ideas by searching our Recycling Guide.

5. Buy less stuff! You’ll never need to Marie Kondo your home if you refuse to buy stuff you don’t need in the first place. One of the great lessons Kondo teaches is appreciation for our belongings. According to her philosophy, we should treat them well and thank them for their service every day. What’s not very appreciative? Sending a giant pile of garbage bags to the dump!

6. Buy secondhand. The recent surge in donations to secondhand stores has people asking: Will buying secondhand become as popular as donating? Or is the secondhand shop simply a short layover on the trip to the landfill? You can help by buying secondhand yourself! Not only will you be discouraging overproduction of new materials, you’ll be able to afford items of higher quality than you can afford to buy new. In other words, you can spend less cash on nicer things that will last longer.

Go ahead and Marie Kondo your home this spring! Just remember to donate carefully, recycle more, and buy less stuff in the future.