The Beginning of the End of Disposable Packaging?

What if disposable packaging became a thing of the past? That’s exactly what the company TerraCycle is trying to achieve with their new program called Loop.

Some of the world’s biggest companies, including Unilever, P&G and Häagen-Dazs, have signed on to test a waste-free model of packaging where the consumer never owns the packaging a product comes in — instead, the company does. So when you’re done with your shampoo or ice cream container, it goes straight back to the manufacturer to be refilled and sold again. It’s basically the old milkman model revived for the 21st century.

TerraCycle has worked with participating companies to design packages that can survive at least 100 refills, and look good on your shelf while doing it. These packages can either be delivered to — and picked up from — your doorstep, or sold in regular stores, where you can also drop off your empties.

This program is only available in New York City and Paris right now, but you can join the waitlist to request Loop in your area.

The Biggest Garbage Dump on Earth Is in the Ocean

Just because we try to keep trash on land doesn’t mean it stays there. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a giant collection of trash in the ocean — mostly made of plastic — with a larger surface area than any known landfill. Watch this video to learn more.

Daylight Saving Time: When You Change Your Clocks, Recycle the Batteries in Your Smoke Detector

recycle smoke detector batteries

March 10 is the beginning of Daylight Saving Time, which means we have to move the clocks forward an hour. But Daylight Saving Time is also the perfect time to test your smoke detectors and change the batteries! When it comes to fire safety, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Here’s how to take care of your smoke detector:

  • Test it once a month.
  • Change its battery once a year.
  • Replace the smoke detector every 10 years.

When you change your batteries, remember to recycle your old ones.

Never throw batteries in the trash! Some batteries can explode if they happen to strike against other metal in your garbage, in a garbage truck, or on their way to a landfill. These explosions cause dangerous fires. Additionally, batteries contain dangerous metals and corrosive chemicals that can leach into the environment if they are not processed properly.

If you have a battery that is damaged — if it is swollen, leaking, corroded (you will see a powdery white substance) or showing burn marks — do one of the following: Place it in a clear plastic bag and take it to a hazardous waste facility, or contact a Call2Recycle drop-off site to see if it accepts damaged batteries. Damaged batteries are highly hazardous, so do not place a damaged battery in the trash for any reason.

Use traditional, single-use batteries in your smoke detectors. Why? These alkaline batteries can hold a charge for years when not in use, and their charge isn’t sapped very quickly. They are a better choice than rechargeable batteries for items that may sit unused for long periods of time, such as smoke detectors and emergency flashlights. If you wish to use rechargeable batteries anyway, make sure to choose ones that are labeled low-self discharge (LSD), and test your smoke detector manually once a month.

Recycle Leftover Paint? Yes You Can!

recycle paint

Leftover house paint taking up space in your garage, basement, laundry room or closet? Why not recycle it and get your storage space back!

PaintCare sets up drop-off locations where households and businesses can recycle leftover house paint, primer, stains and varnish for free. Most locations are at paint and hardware stores that take back leftover paint during regular business hours. Other locations include household hazardous waste (HHW) facilities, solid waste transfer stations, landfills, recycling centers and “re-use” stores (like those run by Habitat for Humanity).

This paint recycling program is funded by a small fee that you pay whenever you purchase paint in California, so please take advantage of what you have already paid for! Through this program, we are able to keep 94% percent of donated paint out of the landfill.

PaintCare locations take back all brands of house paint — even if it’s 20 years old! All locations accept up to five gallons per visit, and some will take much more. Paint containers should be five gallons in size or smaller and have original labels. Here is a full list of products that PaintCare accepts:

  • Interior and exterior architectural paints: latex, acrylic, water-based, alkyd, oil-based, enamel (including textured coatings)
  • Deck coatings, floor paints (including elastomeric)
  • Primers, sealers, undercoaters
  • Stains
  • Shellacs, lacquers, varnishes, urethanes (single component)
  • Waterproofing concrete/masonry/wood sealers and repellents (not tar or bitumen-based)
  • Metal coatings, rust preventatives
  • Field and lawn paints

Locations do not accept leaking, unlabeled or empty containers. They also do not accept aerosols (spray paint), art and craft paints, marine and auto paints, industrial coatings, or other related chemicals such as paint thinner, paint tints or caulking materials.

In addition to setting convenient drop-off locations where the public can get rid of unwanted paint, PaintCare also offers a free large volume pick-up service for households or businesses that have 200+ gallons of leftover paint.

Here are the PaintCare drop-off locations in Truckee:

Ace Mountain Hardware and Sports
11320 Donner Pass Road | (530) 587-4844
Mon – Sat 7am – 7pm, Sun 8am – 6pm

Truckee Paint Mart
10929 Industrial Way | (530) 587-7285
Mon – Fri 7am – 5pm, Sat 8am – 3pm

Kelly-Moore Paints
40153 Truckee Airport Rd | (530) 550-7201
Mon – Fri 6:30am – 6pm, Sat 8am – 4pm

You can also bring your paint to the Eastern Regional Landfill during Household Hazardous Waste drop-off events.

To learn more about PaintCare, visit paintcare.org.

It’s Time to Ditch Your Plastic Wrap — Here’s Why

plastic wrap

There’s no doubt that plastic wrap — also known as Cling Wrap or Saran Wrap — is convenient. However, it’s super hard to reuse and impossible to recycle because it’s a complex plastic made with chemicals that are difficult to remove during the recycling process. So instead of trying to clean it or dry it, toss it in your trash.

But this also means that every time you use plastic wrap, you’re creating a piece of waste that will outlive us several times over. In fact, we don’t have proof that plastic will ever truly biodegrade. Rather, it will simply accumulate in our environment over time.

However, a bunch of plastic waste in a faraway future isn’t the only thing that’s concerning about plastic wrap. Plastic wrap may also be made from plastic #3, PVC, which contains materials that have been associated with serious health risks such as cancer and hormonal disorders.

So what can you use instead of plastic wrap? Reusable food containers, jars, beeswax wrap, silicone pouches and silicone stretch lids will all do the trick. It’s worth it to wash and reuse an item when it means you can keep harmful, non-recyclable materials out of the landfill.

If you can’t quite give up the plastic wrap habit, don’t let it touch food directly, or go into the microwave, where it is most likely to leach chemicals into your food.

The Environmental Cost of Choosing Two-Day Shipping

Most Americans shop online — as many as 79% of us. Most of us will also choose rush shipping when it’s available, especially if there’s no extra charge. But what effect does this shipping have on the planet, and what can we do to make it more sustainable? Watch this video to find out.

Woo Your Valentine This Year — With Recycling

valentines day

Whether someone recycles affects how attractive they seem, according to a recent study by The Recycling Partnership. A whopping 62 percent of Americans think that not recycling is a turn-off.

Younger folks are especially inclined to view being wasteful as a dealbreaker. In fact, adults 18-34 care so much about recycling that they would spend an average of $219 a month — or as much as $2,628 a year — if it meant everything they bought came from companies that make every effort to recycle.

This year, woo your Valentine with these recycling skills:

  • Give your Valentine a card made from recycled paper. You can recycle cards only if they are free of glitter and metallic foil. If a card has glitter or foil on it, cut or tear those sections off and throw them away — you can recycle what’s left of the card.
  • If you’re giving or receiving flowers, do a crunch test to see if the plastic wrap may be recyclable. If it’s loud and crinkly, toss it in the trash. If it’s flexible and quiet, it can be recycled with plastic bags.
  • Once you’re done with the flowers, put them in your green waste.
  • Candy wrappers can’t be recycled, so remember to toss them in the trash.
  • Wine bottles can be recycled.
  • If a wine cork is made from plastic, throw it in the trash. If it is made from natural cork, it can be dropped off for special recycling collection at many Whole Foods locations and other retailers.

Need to find out how to recycle something else? Look it up in our Recycling Guide.

Want to Green Your Super Bowl Party? Drink Out of This

super bowl beverages

If you’re one of the 100 million people who’s planning to watch the Super Bowl this year, take a moment to consider your beverage choices. Alcoholic beverages are undoubtedly a centerpiece of the game, hence the popular “Super Sick Monday.”

But whether your beverages are alcoholic or not, what’s the greenest choice for your beverage containers — plastic, glass or aluminum?

Plastic bottles are lightweight and easy to ship in bulk without breaking, but making them in the first place is incredibly hard on the planet. It requires oil drilling, extraction and processing with natural gas. What’s worse, very little plastic gets recycled. Even when it does get recycled, it can’t be recycled infinitely, and it needs to be combined with virgin plastic to be usable.

Glass bottles are made from silica, or sand, and limestone. Collecting these is not as hard on the environment as most other materials. However, glass bottles are the least eco-friendly to transport because of how heavy they are. Still, glass bottles are 100 percent recyclable!

Aluminum cans are made from open-pit mining for bauxite. This kind of extraction is very hard on the environment and causes permanent scars on the land. However, once we have the aluminum, it’s lightweight to transport (although not as light as plastic), and it can be recycled infinitely!

Which container should you pick?

  • Aluminum cans are the best choice if you’re choosing a beverage that has been shipped any great distance.
  • Reusable growlers or kegs of local brew are even better, if that’s an option for you. Reusing is always preferable to recycling.
  • Glass bottles from local breweries are also an eco-friendly choice, since they don’t have to be shipped very far.
  • If you’re buying soda that doesn’t come in cans, choose the two-liter plastic bottles — that way you’re purchasing less plastic overall.

No matter which containers you buy, remember to recycle! Set out a container with a clear recycling sign for your guests, and when the game’s over, you can take all the empty bottles and cans to a nearby beverage container recycling center to get your CRV money back. You might not make enough to pay off any game day betting debts, but it will at least make sure your beverage containers get a chance at a second run.

How to Live Zero Waste

For most of us, zero waste is a lofty goal. The average American creates about 4.4 pounds of trash each day. Curious how someone can lead a life that creates almost no waste at all?

Bea Johnson is the author of Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste. To get inspired, take a peek inside Johnson’s own zero waste home, and listen to her top advice on cutting back.

Keep Those Recycling Bins Closed!

closed bin lids

Keep your recycling bin lids closed! Not only does it prevent loose items from blowing away in the wind, it also keeps your recyclables dry.

This is especially important during a stormy season. Wet paper and cardboard cannot be recycled, and what’s worse, their wet, damaged fibers can contaminate other paper materials once they are combined.

So remember: Keep your recyclables safe and dry by keeping your bin lids closed!