Plastic Free July: 3 Easy Ways to Avoid Plastic Every Day

plastic free picnic

July is one of the warmest months of the year, with people flocking to the beach and spending time playing outside. Going green this July doesn’t mean any of that has to change. Reducing plastic consumption within the flow of daily life doesn’t have to take much extra time or effort. Here are a few plastic-free tips for taking on summer in style.

Alternative Product Containers

Many sunscreens and lotions now come in plastic-free packaging. Look for sunscreen options that come in a tin as opposed to a plastic tube. Lotion can also be purchased in bulk and stored in a glass container or a reusable plastic one. Many moisturizers are also available in solid bar form and can be kept in a reusable storage tin.

Reusable Picnic Ware

Who doesn’t love a crisp cold salad or some BBQ on a hot summer’s day? In order to make your picnic or takeout meal plastic-free, bring along washable napkins and reusable silverware. If you are bringing food from home, consider using a reusable container and plates to keep your picnic zero waste.

Bring A Bottle

Over 50 billion bottles of water are consumed in America each year. Of those, 80% are not recycled and end up in a landfill. There are two simple solutions to help reverse this trend. First, use a reusable water bottle when you need water on the go. If you’re not in love with the taste of your tap water try using a water filter. Second, if you do grab a plastic water bottle in a pinch make sure to recycle it!

Want more plastic free ideas? Check out plasticfreejuly.org

California Just Recycled Its 5 Millionth Mattress

Since its inception in 2016, Bye Bye Mattress has recycled five million mattresses in California. That’s enough mattresses to stretch from California to Hawaii and back again if laid end-to-end! To celebrate this monumental achievement, here’s an infographic showcasing some of the amazing strides this program has made.

Have a mattress or box spring that you want to get rid of? If your mattress is in a usable condition, you can sell it or give it away to a neighbor. If it’s in unusable condition, you can take it to a nearby mattress recycling drop-off location. Map of California mattress recycling locations.

Can’t haul your mattress? Truckee residents receive two FREE bulky item pickups each year. Just call TTSD at (530) 583-7800 to schedule your pickup. Note: multi-family residents in complexes of 5 or more units receive one free pickup per year.

Mattress recycling is typically free from May – October at the Eastern Regional Landfill. During the rest of the year, there is a fee. Call ahead to confirm the price (530) 583-7800.

The Environmental Footprint of a Cup of Coffee

coffee cup

An average of 400 million cups of coffee are consumed in America every day – more than any other country. The environmental impact of our caffeine consumption depends on a variety of factors, some of which may surprise you.

Country of Origin

The vast majority of coffee is grown overseas, so buying locally-grown coffee is next to impossible in the U.S. The good news is the distance that coffee beans travel is considered a minimal factor when assessing the overall environmental footprint of a cup of coffee. Certain countries, however, may use better agricultural practices, and coffee labeled as Fair Trade comes with a set of ethical guidelines that includes protecting the environment.

Packaging

Take a walk down the coffee aisle at your grocery store and you will see many varieties of packaging. There are steel cans, plastic containers, flexible foil pouches and coffee capsules – and don’t forget about the bulk section. Is one better than the other? Well, steel cans and hard plastic containers can be recycled, while coffee capsules and flexible foil bags can not, which gives them a larger packaging footprint. However, the best option is to skip the package altogether and utilize a reusable container to buy coffee in bulk. You may even find you can pay less for your favorite coffee by purchasing it in bulk. That’s a win-win!

Reusable vs. Single-Use Cups

What about the debate over reusable cups versus single-use (“disposable”) cups? Studies have found that reusable cups almost always have a lower environmental impact, especially when washed using an energy-efficient dishwasher or in cold water.

Milk

The biggest factor when determining the environmental footprint of your coffee: the milk. Espresso shots have a much smaller footprint than a beverage that contains milk or cream, such as a latte. This is due to the energy and water used in production of milk (both dairy and non-dairy), the additional packaging, and the energy used to heat the milk up at the brewing stage.

Take-Away Tips:

  1. Look for and support coffee that has a Fair Trade label.
  2. Enjoy your drink in a reusable mug.
  3. Turn off “keep warm” functions on drip coffee machines.
  4. Make only as much as you need – say no to food waste!
  5. Toss the coffee grounds in your home compost, take them to the Compost Drop-Off or dispose of them in the garbage.

Go Green in Every Room: Reducing Plastic in Your Bathroom

bar soap

One great, easy way to reduce your impact on the planet is to reduce your plastic consumption at home. This doesn’t mean big changes are in order. Slightly altering the products you purchase can help prevent unnecessary use of plastics throughout your home. Today, we’ll start with the bathroom.

Ditch the Bottles: Buy in Bulk

Many grocery or natural food stores now offer body products such as moisturizer, soap or shampoo in bulk, the same way you can buy granola or dried foods. Purchase a bottle or container once — or even use one you already have — then wash and refill it when it’s time to get more product. As a bonus, buying products in bulk is usually less expensive than buying them by the bottle!

Consider Using Solid Bar Products

Bar soap and shampoo are increasing in popularity and work just as well as their bottled counterparts to keep your body and hair clean, moisturized and smelling fresh. Many bar soaps are wrapped in simple paper or a small plastic film — you may even be able to find some without any packaging at all. Scientific American also reports that bar soap requires fewer resources to manufacture than liquid soap.

Choose Recycled or Renewable Packaging

Most plastic waste generated in the bathroom comes from packaging of body products, medicine, toilet tissue and other items. To reduce this waste, many eco-conscious companies are using recycled or renewable materials in their packaging. Keep an eye out for products that are replacing plastic with more eco-friendly materials like paper or bamboo.

The Bottom Line

Before you purchase your next bathroom product, see if you can find it in bulk or bar form. If not, check the label to see if you can find it in recycled or renewable packaging. Staying aware and informed on the packaging of your products can help you save money and be a responsible consumer!

Skip the Disposable Foam Coolers this Summer

Warm weather means days by the water, at the park, and in the woods. Wherever you recreate, you need to keep your snacks and beverages cool and fresh. The convenient choice is a foam cooler: they’re inexpensive and available at most grocery stores. However — like many convenient choices — foam coolers are not great for the planet.

The Popularity of Disposable Foam Coolers

In the 1950s, foam became a favorite for keeping hot things hot and cold things cold. People started using foam coolers because of convenience and affordability. Foam coolers also don’t grow mold or bacteria. To top it off, they’re disposable so you throw them in the trash when you’re done! Perfect solution, right? Unfortunately they have a major drawback — lots of non-recyclable waste after just a few uses.

The Ugly, Indisposable Truth

Disposable is a funny word. By some estimates it takes up to 500 years or more for foam to biodegrade. One common estimate is that styrofoam can take up 30 percent of the space in some landfills. It’s also estimated that at least 20 percent of foam ends up as litter. The breakdown process is ugly, too. Foam breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces that can choke wildlife. As the sun heats it up, it emits toxic chemicals like methane.

Other Cool-er Options

Invest in a reusable cooler!

  • Basic foam cooler with hard plastic exterior and interior: an inexpensive option
  • Metal or durable plastic cooler: have it forever
  • Soft cooler: wear it over your shoulder
  • Backpack cooler: free up your hands and carry it farther

When you know which type you’d like to purchase, check to see if you can buy used on Craigslist or at a thrift store. If buying new, look for quality durable products that will last. Many coolers have lifetime guarantees.

If you need a disposable cooler, there are biodegradable pulp-based coolers for one-time use. They’re convenient and sustainable. Put them in your backyard compost at home and they decompose in weeks!

What if I Already Have a Foam Cooler?

Use any foam cooler you do have until you can’t anymore. Then dispose of it in the Trash.

Truckee Day – June 6!

Truckee Day

Join us for the 17th annual town-wide litter clean-up on Saturday, June 6! Let’s show our love for our amazing town by rallying our community together to beautify our streets, while physical distancing.

This year’s event will include extra precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. All participants must register at www.keeptruckeegreen.org/truckee-day-2020/ to prevent interaction at check-in stations.

8-10 AM: Volunteers will meet at neighborhood check-in stations to receive supplies and a Truckee Day t-shirt.

10 AM – 12 PM: Volunteers will collect litter on Truckee streets and trails in designated orange bags. Please leave your bags on the edge of the street and they will be collected by TTSD the following week.

There will not be a BBQ following the litter clean-up. To keep our community safe, we ask all participants to wear a mouth and nose covering when around others, bring their own gloves, and stay 6 ft. away from others not in the same party. Gloves will be available at check-in stations if needed.

Visit www.keeptruckeegreen.org/truckee-day-2020/ to register to participate and find more information.

Celebrate Learn About Composting Day

compost

Do you wish there was an easy way to turn your food scraps into something more sustainable rather than throwing them away? Composting is a fantastic way to save food scraps, yard waste and other organics from going to the landfill while reducing your carbon footprint. The practice of composting helps to:

  • Reduce methane emissions from landfills.
  • Reduce the need for harsh chemicals and pesticides.
  • Create healthy soil for growing food and flowers.

Learn About Composting Day on Friday, May 29th is the perfect opportunity to get your hands a little dirty and find out if composting is right for you. Here are some ways you can get involved:

  • Make Your Own Compost – Start by checking out our composting page which has all the resources you need to get started with home composting today. Looking for more information on composting? YouTube has tons of videos on more types of composting than you can imagine.
  • Talk with Farmers Market Vendors – Get curious about the food you’re eating and ask what practices farms are using on their crops. Many farmers love to talk about the hard work they put into creating delicious and nutritious produce.

Not interested in home composting? You can still make a difference by keeping organics out of the garbage. See everything that can be composted at the Town hall compost drop-off.

Tossing Takeout Containers — Garbage or Recycling?

takeout box

Ordering takeout from time to time during the COVID-19 pandemic is a great way to eat your favorite food while supporting local restaurants. You will, however, end up with a few containers that need to be disposed of properly. Here’s a simple guide on how to dispose of each type of takeout container in Truckee.

*Only plastic containers #1 & 2 are recyclable. Check the bottom for a number inside a recycling symbol.
**ALL food residue must be removed. Container must be clean and dry to be recycled!

*ALL food residue must be removed. Container must be clean and dry to be recycled!

*Most cardboard containers have a plastic coating which makes them not recyclable.
**Only CLEAN and DRY paper and cardboard can be recycled. If there is food or liquid contamination, this must go in the trash.

*Styrofoam must always go in the trash.

*Only CLEAN and DRY paper and cardboard can be recycled. If there is food or liquid contamination, this must go in the trash.

Need to dispose of plastic bags, plastic utensils or other items not listed above? Check out our handy Recycling Guide.

Green Waste Disposal Options

Green Waste

Creating defensible space is everyone’s responsibility in Truckee to keep our community safe from wildfires. Reduce the fuel by collecting branches, twigs, dead wood, shrubs, pine needles, and pine cones. Once you have created the defensible space, it is important to know how to get rid of this material in an adequate manner.

These four options are available to dispose of wildfire fuel:

  1. Self-Haul to Eastern Regional Landfill
    punch cardERL is now open to the public! Residents can drop off up to 6-yards of green waste for FREE with proof of residency or punch card. Hours are Monday – Friday, 8 am – 4 pm. Face coverings are required for entry and only credit card payments accepted. New social distancing measures are in place, please have patience as wait times may be longer than usual.

    NEW THIS YEAR: Address-specific punch cards will be given to residents to track yards dropped off. Proof of residency is required for issuance, including a photo ID and proof of residency (i.e. utility bill). Punch card is required when returning to dump additional yard waste. Punch cards will not be replaced, so store yours safely in your wallet or purse!

    Good news: these cards are transferable! Now you can easily have a contractor, friend, or relative drop-off materials on your behalf for free.

  2. Drop-off Events

    FREE residential yard waste drop-off events will take place on May 22, May 29, June 19, and June 26 at the Truckee Rodeo Grounds. (NOT Glenshire or Tahoe Donner Clubhouse, as previously stated in information mailed out!) Please limit loads to no more than 3-yards per trip. To facilitate unloading, position a tarp on the
    bottom of the truck bed or trailer before loading the material. If material is transported in bags, the bags must be emptied on site and removed by the hauler.

    Acceptable items: residential green waste, biomass consisting of all tree and plant trimmings, weeds, leaves, and branches.

    Prohibited items: commercial green waste, rounds larger than 24 inches, stumps, rocks, boards, and trash.

    Additional details may be found at ReadyNevadaCounty.com/greenwaste

  3. Yard Waste Cart Service
    Cart collection takes place every-other-week, now extended into November. Never miss a pickup: view a service calendar or sign up for email reminders before every pickup.
  4. Dumpster Rentals + Rebate
    Rent a 6-yard green waste dumpster for a week for only $81.28. Bins are delivered to your property on a Wednesday and retrieved full the following Wednesday. Loose material only- do not bag! Call TTSD for availability at (530) 583-7800.Truckee Fire Protection District Defensible Space Rebate Program will reimburse you $75! Simply provide a paid receipt from TTSD. One dumpster rebate per household, until program funds last or until September 1st.

Avoid Food Waste, Save Money

banana

With the COVID-19 pandemic closing many of the places we are accustomed to getting our meals, home cooking is having an unexpected moment. More home cooking means more opportunities to reduce food waste — and save money at the same time. According to the USDA, the average American wastes 238 pounds of food per year — 21 percent of the food we buy — costing $1,800 per year. That’s a lot of cheddar! The good news is that most food waste is avoidable. Plus, many food scraps, like carrot tops or vegetable ends, can be saved and used further to make food like carrot top pesto or vegetable broth.

Check out this video for some tips on how to use all your food, and use it well.

A couple easy tips to use it all and use it well:

1. Make a list of groceries in order of which will go bad first so you make sure to eat them in time.

2. Learn storage tips to keep your food stay fresh longer at
https://savethefood.com/storage

3. Use your freezer to save it for later

4. Get creative with your leftovers (like making carrot top pesto or vegetable broth!)

5. Compost anything inedible at the compost drop-off behind Town Hall