Green or Greener?

Here at Westside Environmental, we care about the environment. The word “environment” is even in our name! We do know, however, that not all companies practice what they preach. That’s why we strive to make the world a greener place every day not just by the recycling work we do, but more importantly by the methods we use to get the job done. There are different shades when it comes to “being green” and we like to think we’re just a little “greener” than the rest thanks to our two recycling centers and innovative rail-based transportation that protects the environmental while saving both time and money.

Greener Centers

Most recycling facilities have one center but we wanted to do more. We have two recycling centers, including the NY/NJ metropolitan area’s greenest material recovery facility. With two centers, we can recycle and properly dispose of double the materials in the same amount of time as the other guys.

Our unique “Gold-Standard” negative-air technology processes 80,000 cubic feet of air per minute and eliminates any release of pollutants, dust or odors during the process. Our NJDEP permitted facilities complete six full air changes every hour, not only meeting or surpassing EPA Fugitive Emission Standards but also saving time.

Greener Transport

Most material recovery facilities in the United States rely on heavy-duty trucks to transport waste and soil. Diesel trucks are a fairly reliable transportation method, however the environmental risks from diesel pollution are alarming. Diesel pollution from trucks not only damages the environment but can also make people sick. In fact, the state of California has found that fine particle matter from diesel pollution accounts for 70% of the cancer risk from air that we breathe in*.

We wanted to limit the amount of trucks we had on the road releasing pollutants. That’s why Westside Environmental became the first rail-based material recovery facility in the United States. Being rail-based makes us a few shades greener than other recycling and environmental companies that use trucks as  our rail-based transportation reduces CO2 emissions.

Greener is Better

Claiming to be a green company is one thing, but there’s always ways in which a company can be greener. We’ll never stop striving to protect our environment with the latest recycling and material recovery technology. If you’d like to make your business cleaner, check out these quick tips we put together—it’s easier than you think!

*Source: UCS Website

How Plants Fight Soil Contamination

46th Annual Earth Day

Last month we celebrated the 46th annual Earth Day and it was so exciting to see so many people stepping up to take care of our planet! While Earth Day is technical just one day per year, you can celebrate Earth Day every day by doing simple things like participating in a park cleanup or reusing recyclable materials to create something new and beautiful like these mason jar herb gardens that we shared last month! But, did you know that humans aren’t alone when it comes to taking care of planet Earth?

Did you know Plants Fight Soil Contamination?

Plants also work hard to try and make the world a cleaner, healthier place. Specifically, some plants help by remediating petroleum-contaminated soil. Petroleum-contaminated soil is actually one of the most common forms of soil pollution and tends to happen due to drilling refineries, accidental spills and even illegal dumping. Not only is petroleum-contaminated soil bad for the Earth but it’s bad for humans as well! There are dozens of health risks that come with being near soil that is contaminated with oil considering even inhaling the vapors from it can lead adverse health affects.

Soil Contamination Facility

So how do plants help fight soil pollution? It’s a process called phytoremediation. It sounds fancy, but it’s pretty simple. Plants located in petroleum-contaminated soil use their roots to absorb the contaminants. This is called stabilization. Then, depending on the plant, there are three different ways the pollutant is dealt with above ground, but all ways involve removing it from the soil. Take a look at this informative chart by Urban Omnibus if you’d like to learn about the process in more detail:

A Guide to Phytoremediation

While phytoremediation is one method of removing petroleum hydrocarbons from soil, it doesn’t work for every pollutant and with all plants. To help out hard working plants, see what you can do by taking a look at these easy tips for reducing land pollutions.

For those really tricky soil contamination emergencies, rely on experienced environmental companies like Westside Environmental to rid the soil of contaminants by using our state of the art negative air system. Call us today at: 201-472-1031 to learn more.

Glass Recycling: A Mason Jar Herb Garden

There’s a saying that March comes “in like a lion and out like a lamb.” So far, March 2016 has been a little different. Warmer than average temperatures and sunny days have made the beginning of this month seem more lamb than lion. While it might seem like the perfect time for heading outdoors and gardening, you never know what the weather will be like at the end of the month. In order to get you through the almost unpredictable weather, we found this easy DIY herb garden craft that you can keep indoors; in case Old Man Winter decides to pay us another visit before the end of the month!

Image from: ConsumerCrafts.com

Here’s what you’ll need to add some spice to your kitchen:

>  Reused Pint Sized Glass Mason Jars
>  Herbs
>  Soil
>  Mason Jar Holder (optional)

This craft is a really great way to reuse materials (like glass mason jars) instead of throwing them away and bringing the springtime indoors. The first step is to fill the mason jars halfway with soil and then add the seeds for the herbs or small plants you wish you to grow. All that’s left to do is find a sunny windowsill in your kitchen and take care of your herbs. If March decides to go out like a lion instead of a lamb, you can at least enjoy the green of the outdoors with these cute and functional herb gardens!

And, usually the rule of thumb is after Mother’s Day (it usually marks the end of cold weather), you can transfer these herbs into bigger pots and move them outside if you’d like!

Stay tuned for more glass recycling tips, or general recycling information, by following us on Facebook.

Safely Disposing Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)

What Are Household Hazardous Wastes?

You wouldn’t know it, but there is probably a large amount of hazardous waste in your home. Any bottle that says: Danger! Warning! or Poison! Is probably dangerous to both you and the environment. Products like paints, cleaners, oils and pesticides are just a few household products that contain potentially hazardous ingredients and therefore require extra care when you dispose of them.

How to Dispose of Household Hazardous Wastes

Because of these dangerous ingredients, these materials and other HHW’s cannot be poured down the sink or in your backyard because then they pose a threat to sanitation workers, septic tanks, children, and the environment as a whole. Many communities in the U.S. offer a variety of different options for safely managing hazardous waste and it’s important for you and the environment to take advantage of these programs!

Benefits of Proper Household Hazardous Waste Management

Disposing of your HHW’s correctly isn’t enough. To make an even stronger impact on the environment it’s important to reduce the purchase of HHW’s as well. It’s really quite easy when you think about it. Before you buy a HHW product, ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Does it do just one job, or can I use it for multiple tasks?
  2. What restrictions does this product have?
  3. Does the label say what to do if the product contacts skin, or is inhaled or swallowed?

If a product can only be used for one task, has a lot of restrictions, and doesn’t contain the proper medical advice, it’s probably best to steer clear from buying it. Reducing the amount of HHW’s you purchase in your household helps conserve energy and materials that would have been used to make the product in the first place.

When you reduce the amount of HHW’s your buy and dispose of them in the proper manner, you are doing a lot of good for yourself and for the environment. To learn more about HHW’s, visit the EPA’s information page. If you’re looking to safely dispose of any petroleum or lead contaminated soil, get in touch with a Westside Environmental Application Form.

5 Ways Your Business Can Go Green

Being environmentally friendly is not a fad. As our society becomes increasingly concerned with reducing pollution and saving our natural resources, going “green” is becoming a very attractive business strategy. When you’re a business that focuses on green practices and alternatives, you’re not only reducing our carbon footprint but also gaining the support of an eco-aware customer base and saving money.

If you don’t work in an industry that directly screams “green!” like growing organic food for example, there are still plenty of small eco-friendly changes you can make in the workplace that will make a difference. Below are five small ways your business can get a little greener.

1. Know How “Ungreen” You Are

The first step to becoming greener is to first identify just how “ungreen” you are. You can’t really tell how green you are if you don’t first have a baseline to chart improvement from. In order to create this baseline, you will have to benchmark your current raw material and energy consumption. The EPA’s Energy Star program offers ways to determine your energy and water use. It’s also a good idea to try and observe just how much raw materials, like paper, are used in your office daily.

2. Go Paperless When Possible

Everyone loves jotting down notes and printing out reports, but there are more eco-friendly alternatives to using so much paper. For example, try using a digital note taking app like Evernote or Sticky Notes or picking up a desktop whiteboard. Another alternative could be formatting reports to be easily read on digital devices, that way they don’t need to be printed out. Need to sign something? Try using a signature app, like Sign Easy or Hello Sign, that way you can sign documents without having to print them out.

3. Reconsider Your Commute

In the U.S. alone, approximately 77% of us drive alone to work when carpooling, biking, and using public transportation are viable, more eco-friendly ways to commute. Try setting up a company carpool program or encourage employees to try commuting by bike or foot at least once per week.

4. Be An Energy Conscious Computer User

If you work in an office, odds are you’re in front of your computer for most of the day. But what do you do with your computer when you head to a meeting or head home for the day? Not enough office workers are energy efficient when it comes to computers. In fact, computers in the business sector unnecessarily waste one million dollars worth of electricity per year. When you get up from your desk for lunch or for a meeting, remember to put your computer to sleep. When you head home for the day, check with IT to make sure that you can shut down and unplug your computer to save electricity.

5. Replace Your Lights

A large chunk of your energy bill as a business is attributed to your lighting costs. While CFL and LED lights are normally more expensive to purchase than your standard light bulb, they are more cost effective and eco-friendly in the long run because they last longer and use less energy.

There are a large number of ways that your business can more towards being a green business. With a little dedication, a couple gradual changes, and these helpful tips, going green can easily be done without putting you in the red. What has your company done in an effort to go green?

Latest Recycling Trends

Here at West Side Environmental we’re concerned about the preservation of our environment and the proper disposal of materials. Basically, we think recycling is really trendy. Who cares what Rihanna wore to the MET Gala? If it wasn’t recycled plastic bottles and cardboard TP rolls, we’re really not that interested.

So while it might be a while before the likes of Rihanna thinks recycled clothing is the new black, we hope that these recycling trends will inspire you to make a difference in the way you dispose of your waste. Here’s a quick look at the freshest ways the leaders in the waste and recycling industry are staying green.

1. Most companies in our industry are embracing the change from diesel fuel to compressed natural gas (CNG). 10% of all waste and recycling truck fleets have made the big switch in order to reduce their carbon footprint.

2. Big cities are creating more aggressive waste agendas. For example, New York City just signed a 20-year agreement with Covanta to convert the city’s municipal solid waste (MSW) into clean, reusable energy.

Big cities get serious about recycling

3. Dealing with coal ash is another new trend in the recycling industry. Coal ash is formed when coal is burned to create steam for power generation. Approximately 45% of all coal ash is reused.

4. Extended Producer Responsibility laws are gaining ground in certain areas of the country. These are the laws that pertain to the disposal of more hazardous materials like batteries.

5. Financial performance is increasing for recycling companies. This means that the population is becoming more environmentally aware and recycling more.

6. Mergers and acquisitions of multiple recycling and waste companies are a large trend in the industry.

7. More and more states are now embracing recycling goals. Comprehensive recycling plans are a growing trend.

8. Lastly, States are banning food waste from landfills and adopting organics recycling.

Go Green – Make Your Own Paint

Go Green, Environmentally Friendly, Non-Toxic, Recycled – these are all “keywords” we hear more and more often today. How can we keep the earth green? The world healthy? What can we do to make the world a better place?

As we were browsing Pinterest one day we came across this great idea, and we just had to share it with you.

Did you know you can make your own paint for you kids’ crafts at home using every-day ingredients? Not only are the ingredients something you’ll have lying around your house, but you can even recycle used ketchup bottles for the containers! Once you do this quick and easy recipe, we have a feeling you’ll never have to buy paint again!

This recipe is really easy. Just combine 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of water, and the food coloring of your choice. It’s quicker than running to the store and safe for children to play and create with (and even accidentally eat!).

Go Green and Make Your Own Paint!

Want to be even more creative? You can even mix and match different ratios of food coloring to create a wide spectrum of colors (like this photo shows us).

Go Green & Start Creating

So, clean out your old ketchup bottles (or start eating a lot of french fries so you have more), then turn your kitchen into a paint lab and be artistic, have fun and go green! We’d love to see what you’ve created with your “green” paints, so share your creations with us on Facebook using #wegogreenpaint.

Salvaging Your Kitchen Waste

Love Can Cook - The Salvage Chef Cookbook

Did you know 33 tons of food is disposed of every year in the United States? Imagine how many people we could feed if we could salvage just ½ of that waste in a year. Perhaps it could feed some, or better yet all, of the 17 million Americans that don’t have enough food. At least that is what Chef Michael Love hopes to achieve with his book, The Salvage Chef Cookbook. He’s not suggesting you start raiding through trash bins, but rather, take another look at the food you’re throwing out before it goes into the trash, teaching you how to be creative with your cooking.

“Every day families throw away perfectly edible yet overlooked food as they are often unaware of how to ‘salvage’ it and create something delicious,” Love has said.

The Salvage Chef Cookbook isn’t just 125 recipes for cooking food ‘on it’s way out’ – but rather an educational book on proper food storage with answers to commonly asked questions about food.

“Salvage to most people means saving something that has been discarded. To me, salvaging in the kitchen is about taking real food destined for the trash bin and finding an innovative and delicious purpose for it, thereby saving money, reducing waste and delivering delicious food to the table,” said Love.

Learn more about the book and author by visiting www.lovecancook.com. And, if you’re interested in purchasing a copy of your own to start being a part of the solution check it out on Amazon.com.

Thank you Earth911 for teaching us about this great cookbook!

St. Patrick’s Day Craft Project

St. Patrick's Day Sun Catcher
Do you have a preschool or elementary age child? This shamrock sun catcher is the perfect craft to make with them – all you need is a paper plate, green tissue paper, scissors, glue, green ribbon, and this printable shamrock template.

Then, follow the directions found on this blog, to create your own St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock Sun Catcher, and let’s hope we start seeing the sun a lot more after this very cold snowy winter! More sun = Melting snow!!!

Want to make your sun catcher even more beautiful? Before you cut out the shamrock decorate your paper plate with crayons, markers, pain or even glue and sparkles!

Don’t forget to post your photos of what you’ve created on our Facebook page! We can’t wait to see where your creativity takes you!

7 Facts About Recycling You Need to Know

7 Recycling Facts that will Surprise you!

Here is a list of 7 things we thought were interesting, and think you should know, about Americans, and their waste and recycling habits. What one surprises/shocks you the most?

  1. American’s throw away about 3 pounds of garbage every day!
  2. If you stacked all of the aluminum cans recycled in 2010 they would be 1,454 times taller than the Empire State Building, or if you laid them out they would circle the earth 169 times!
  3. A glass container can go from a recycling bin to a store shelf in as few as 30 days – and many glass container manufacturers use up to 70% recycled glass when making a new product
  4. If every American recycled just one-tenth of their newspapers, we could save about 25 million trees each year.
  5. In 2009, the plastic bottle recycling rate reached a record high of 2.5 billion pounds, or 28% of all plastic bottles consumed in the United States.
  6. Each year, more steel is recycled than aluminum, paper, glass and plastic combined.
  7. Motor oil never wears out, it just gets dirty. Oil can be recycled, re-refined and used again, reducing our reliance on imported oil.

Wondering where we found out all this information, or want to find out more about American’s recycling habits? Check out these interesting and informative websites:

 

And don’t forget to keep the conversation going about recycling on Twitter using #werecycle @westsideenviro!