Eco-Conscious and Socially Distanced Ideas for Mother’s Day

mother's day card

May 10th offers a chance to show the moms of our lives just how much we appreciate them. Unlike in years past, social distancing is a factor this year. While this adds an extra challenge, it also provides a great opportunity to get creative.

Here are four ideas that are eco-friendly, keep you and your family safe and are sure to make mom smile:

  1. (Face)Time Together – What greater gift than spending quality time together? Since this won’t be possible for most of us this year, try setting up a video call instead. There are a plethora of options for video calls from FaceTime to Google Hangouts — so ask if she has a preference and agree on a time.
  2. Digital Photo Album – Upload a collection of family photos to a digital album or even make a slideshow, then send via email to mom. If you’re already planning on sending a greeting card you could include the photos on a memory card tucked inside.
  3. Greeting Card – Buy a greeting card at the store or make your own at home. Most greeting cards can be easily recycled, and some brands even make recycled-content options – just look on the back of the card to find out. Other eco-friendly options include making a homemade card or sending an eCard. Musical Greeting Cards are not the most eco-friendly option but if you send one remind your mom that they should be recycled as e-waste.
  4. Send a Plant – If you can’t buy flowers due to store closures or are looking for a more sustainable option, consider a potted plant that can be enjoyed for years. Shops on websites such as Etsy have lots of plant and pot options and most are still open because they are operated from home.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

The Compounding Effects of Not Recycling

plastic bottles

With the amount of garbage being generated around the globe every day, not recycling an item such as a soda bottle may not seem like it would make a huge difference. However, every item that doesn’t get recycled has a compounding negative impact on our environment. Here’s how failing to recycle harms the planet:

Landfills Fill Up Faster

When recyclable items are tossed into the garbage instead of the recycling, they eventually end up in landfills. These items take up valuable space that could otherwise be occupied by non-recyclable materials. According to data from Waste Business Journal, American landfills only have about 11-16 years of capacity left. Once our existing landfills reach capacity, new areas will have to be repurposed to create new landfills. These repurposed areas are often rural areas with native vegetation that could otherwise be working to sequester carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. In urban areas, creating new landfills is also difficult, because land is at a premium, and no community wants their new neighbor to be a landfill.

Greenhouse Gases Are Released

Plastic items in the landfill release methane and other harmful greenhouse gases as they break down. These gases trap heat in our atmosphere and lead to the warming of our planet. Recycling prevents this by giving these materials a new life and keeping them out of landfills.

Toxins Can Leach Into Soil and Groundwater

In addition to emitting greenhouse gases, plastics can also leach chemicals into the soil and groundwater as they decompose. The long-term health risks associated with these chemicals are still being determined, but scientists have determined that they can significantly alter hormones in animals and humans.

New Resources Are Required

Creating a new item requires a certain amount of material. When recycling is done right, the materials needed to make that item can be sourced partially or entirely from recycled material. When items are thrown into the garbage, those materials are lost and need to be replaced by new material through mining, drilling or other methods of resource extraction. To give this issue a little perspective, think of how much plastic was probably produced between 1900 and 2000. In the ten years from 2000 to 2010 alone, we produced even more plastic than in the entire previous century. With so much demand for plastic, it’s more important than ever to recycle.

The good news? These effects can be easily avoided through recycling! Use our Recycling Guide to find out how to properly dispose of just about everything. Making sure your recyclables are clean and dry ensures they don’t end up in landfill. A little extra effort put into recycling correctly will make a big difference for our planet in the long run.

Our Food: Use it All, Use it Well

For Earth Week, celebrate by learning how you can prevent food waste at home. When food goes to waste, it emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas that heavily contributes to climate change. Besides that, you’re not just wasting food, but all of the time and energy that goes into food production as well.

Watch the video below to learn what you can do to prevent your food from going to waste:

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 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

How to Boredom Clean During a Pandemic

spray cleaner

Odds are you’ve found yourself with a little extra time at home because of the current global pandemic. This extra time might be inspiring you to clean out areas of your home that you just haven’t had the time to for a while — a phenomenon known as Boredom Cleaning. Here are a few things to consider before cleaning out the attic, reorganizing the garage or clearing out the yard.

Avoid Dropping Off Extra Garbage

Sanitation workers have been hard at work keeping garbage and recycling from piling up throughout this crisis. However, the crisis has put an additional strain on the sanitation system. For both your own safety and the safety of the individuals who are hard at work keeping this essential service going, please wait until stay-at-home orders are lifted before doing a non-essential run to drop off garbage.

To protect workers as well as the public, Eastern Regional Landfill is closed to the public until further notice. ERL is only open to Essential Businesses as defined by the Governor’s Executive Order. Find the most up-to-date information regarding ERL’s closure.

Request a Curbside Collection

Although Eastern Regional Landfill is closed to the public, residents may still request curbside services including scheduled trash overages, bulky item pickups, and debris box rentals. Scheduled trash overages include up to 3 extra bags/cans collected with your regular trash. Bulky item pickups include one large item under a 200 lb weight limit. Additionally, for larger clean-ups, debris box rentals are available for delivery to your home. Capacities include 6, 20, and 30-yard bins.

Learn how to schedule a trash overage or bulky item pickup.

To order a debris box, call TTSD customer service at (530) 583-7800.

Reduced rate yard waste dumpster rentals will also be available starting May 1st. Reservations can be made ahead of time also by calling TTSD at (530) 583-7800.

Learn how to properly place your trash for curbside collection to avoid overage charges.

Keep Items Inside the Bins

During this time of heightened health precautions, it’s more important than ever that all the items that belong in the bins go only into the bins. Many boredom cleaners are putting extra garbage in bags or piles next to their bins. These loose materials require garbage collectors to touch additional surfaces, exposing them to unnecessary risk.

Store Hazardous Waste and E-Waste for Now, Dispose Later

If you are cleaning out the garage or shed you may be dealing with hazardous waste and e-waste. It’s important that these materials are stored correctly for now, and disposed of correctly after this current health crisis is over. Eastern Regional Landfill’s Hazardous Waste Collection Events are also suspended until further notice. Items such as antifreeze, aerosol cans, batteries, electronics and small appliances are illegal to put in the garbage or pour down the drain. Remember to store fuels, aerosols and any other combustible items out of direct sunlight in a well-ventilated area until stay-at-home orders are lifted, when they can be properly disposed of as hazardous waste.

Upcycle, Recycle or Donate

Consider using your extra downtime to recycle and repurpose items. That old decrepit wheelbarrow could make a cool new planter bed. That empty pickle jar could be transformed into a neat container for nuts, beans or grains. Websites like Instructables and Upcycle That have an abundance of interesting upcycling ideas — the sky is the limit when it comes to repurposing items. Ready to get rid of an item but not sure how to dispose of it? Check out our handy Recycling Guide. Have items in usable condition that you no longer want? Store them in a bag or container until stay-at-home orders have been lifted and thrift stores have re-opened.

“Flushable” Wipes — and Almost Everything Else — Are Not Flushable

bathroom

Here is a simple truth. Sewer systems were designed to handle two things — human waste and toilet paper. Flushing anything else down the toilet can cause big problems for pipes and wastewater treatment facilities.

Wipes — and yes, even those labeled “flushable” — have been enemy number one of sewer systems for years now. With the COVID-19 outbreak, wipes are flying off the shelves. Flushing wipes increases the chances that your own pipes will get blocked, and causes serious problems for the sewer system in general. So no matter what the container says, please do not flush wipes.

The What Not To Flush list is very long… because it’s everything other than human waste and toilet paper! Here are some commonly-flushed items, as a reminder that none of these are actually flushable:

Egg-cellent Natural Dyes for Your Easter Eggs

dyed eggs

Coloring some eggs for Easter this year? The fewer chemicals we consume, the fewer chemicals end up in our environment and bodies, so here’s some info on how to skip chemical dyes and make the switch to natural.

If you want to do natural dyes the easy way, look for plant-based dye at the grocery store, box store or online. It’s no longer hard to find!

Here’s how you know if the dyes you’re looking at are really natural:

  • They will contain ingredients that are the names of plants or plant extracts, such as beet juice, spirulina or turmeric.
  • They won’t contain any ingredients that are the names of primary colors, such as red, blue or yellow. These are called FD&C colors and they are synthetic, man-made dyes.

If you want to get even more into natural Easter egg dyes, make your own! Watch this video from Kitchn to learn how, or check out their written recipes.

And don’t forget: Whether you’re going with real eggs or plastic eggs this Easter, remember to look up proper disposal instructions in our Recycling Guide.

How to Repair a Tear in Leather or Faux Leather

leather bag

Oh no! You’ve got a tear in your favorite leather jacket — or maybe it’s your leather bag. Good news, you might be able to repair it. Watch this quick instructional video to find out how to repair small tears in leather or faux leather.

Recycling Carts Coming to Tahoe Donner

The three-year recycling cart rollout will reach the final Truckee neighborhood this June. Tahoe Donner residents who are signed up will receive recycling carts between May 11 – June 5, and service will begin on June 9, 2020. Residents must order by April 1st to receive a cart during those dates with free delivery. To order, call TTSD at (530) 583-7800. A delivery fee may be charged for orders made after April 1st. Confirmation emails have been sent out to residents who have already ordered a cart. Here’s all you need to know about the new recycling cart program:

1. Carts must be wheeled to the edge of the road by 6 am on your collection day for service. Recycling carts are emptied by an automated arm from the recycling truck and must be wheeled to the street for service. Your cart must be 3-feet away from other objects, with the wheels facing towards your house. Carts will not be serviced next to bear boxes unless a special push-pull service is set up with TTSD.

2. Carts are serviced every-other-week, year-round. The first pick-up day in Tahoe Donner is June 9th. Recycling carts are serviced on opposite weeks as yard waste carts. Never miss a pick-up: set up email reminders or print out a calendar.

3. What do I recycle? Clean and dry plastics #1-2, paper, cardboard, glass, and metal. All materials should be free of any residual food or liquid. Blue bags and other plastic bags should not go in your cart. However, blue bags can still be used for extra recycling and should be placed next to your cart or trash can. Blue bags are serviced with your trash pickup every week. For more info on what’s recyclable, see What’s Recyclable in Truckee or download signs. Also, learn more about how to properly put out your trash and blue bags to avoid extra charges.

4. Additional cart services are available. Residents can order additional recycling carts or wildlife-resistant carts for an additional rate. A push-pull service is also available if you are unable to roll your cart in and out on your service day. Contact TTSD at 530-583-7800 for details.

Lessons From ‘Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale’

thrift store

In his new book ‘Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale,’ author Adam Minter explores the strange (and big!) world of donated items. From thrift stores in Arizona to used good markets in Ghana, he uncovers the various places where everything we donate ends up.

By following these items across the globe, Minter is taken aback by the sheer volume of goods Americans are buying new, using briefly, and then donating to thrift stores. While donating unwanted goods is an eco-friendly move, buying new, inexpensive, non-durable products is not.

In the spirit of Minter’s book, here are a few ways you can reduce your impact by changing up your purchasing habits.

Want vs. Need

As with nearly everything eco-friendly, less is more. Before you purchase a product, consider if you actually need it or just want it. Often the instant gratification of a purchase wears off quickly, leaving you with less money and more unwanted stuff.

Buy Used

Used products do:

  • Save you money
  • Support the local economy

Used products don’t:

  • Require new resources
  • Generate additional pollution
  • Need energy to be created
  • Have additional packaging

Together, these factors make buying used substantially more eco-friendly than buying new. So the next time you need to buy something, consider checking your local thrift store or online marketplace to see if you can find what you need secondhand.

Buy Durable

Can’t find what you’re looking for secondhand? Consider purchasing a durable, well-made product that will last. Oftentimes, buying a slightly more expensive product that functions better and lasts longer is less expensive — and more eco-friendly — in the long run.

Unwanted Sports Equipment? Sell or Donate It!

soccerball

Do you have unwanted sports equipment taking up precious space in your closet or garage? Here are a few ways you can clear out some space and get your gear to someone who will get it back out on the field!

Don’t Recycle

While you may be tempted to try to recycle your used equipment, you shouldn’t. Sports equipment is almost always made out of mixed materials, making it impossible to recycle. In addition, putting these items in the recycling can be damaging to equipment and dangerous for workers at recycling facilities. Instead, try selling or donating used sports equipment that’s still in usable condition. Broken equipment that can’t be reused goes into the garbage. One notable exception is sports clothing, which can be recycled through textile recycling programs if it is in too poor of a condition to sell or donate.

Sell It

Sports equipment is often quite expensive, which creates a large, active secondhand market. Follow these steps to easily sell your gear:

  1. Determine a fair price. This can be done by researching online or checking out similar items in a used gear shop.
  2. Choose a marketplace. Options include websites such as Craigslist, eBay, Nextdoor and Facebook Marketplace, used gear shops such as Play It Again Sports, or local consignment shops and swap meets.

Donate It

Donating your used sports equipment can be a fulfilling (and super easy!) way to get rid of your old gear. There are many options for donating items, from our local thrift stores to national mail-in programs like Pitch In For Baseball & Softball and Level the Playing Field. Donating your equipment is an eco-friendly option that can empower others to get into sports that might otherwise be inaccessible to them.

Buy Used

Looking to go even further? The next time you need sporting equipment, use the resources mentioned above to find gear secondhand. Save a few dollars and help the environment at the same time. It’s a win-win!Most sporting equipment isn’t recyclable. Try selling or donating your gear to give it a second life and keep it out of the landfill.