Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. It’s an Old Phrase, But a Good Concept.

We’ve all heard it. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. But why? What are you doing when you follow these 3 simple phrases?

Make An Impact

It’s simple. You can make an impact on the environment when you make a couple changes. Here are a few suggestions we’ve put together to help you make those changes—and lessen the waste going into landfills.

  1. Reduce. This means:
    • Buy items in BULK, CONCENTRATE, RECYCABLE or REFILLABLE containers, and use LITTEL or NO packaging
    • Use REUSABLE lunch boxes/bags, shopping bags
    • Use CLOTH napkins & rags instead of paper
    • Use RECHARGEABLE batteries
    • Use WASHABLE plates/cups/utensils
    • RENT items you don’t use often
    • GO TO THE LIBRARY to borrow books and magazines
  2. Reuse. This means:
    • Use old glass jars for FOOD STORAGE, ART SUPPLIES, VASES.
    • SELL or DONATE used items, don’t just toss them
    • MAKE ART, think of all the uses for newspaper (painting, decoupage)
  3. Recycle. This means:
    • Recycle common items such as:
      • Cardboard
      • Plastic
      • Glass
      • Paper
      • Aluminum
    • Purchase items made from recycled materials such as:
      • Bags
      • Paper
      • Books
      • Flooring
      • Furniture

Do you have any other tips we’ve left out? What do you do to reduce your carbon footprint and work towards a cleaner, healthier environment?

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.

DIY “Flower Petal” Jewelry Stand

If you can’t tell from scanning through the rest of our blog, we love DIY recycling projects. When you’re the greenest material recovery facility in the NY/NJ metropolitan area, repurposing materials like peanut butter jars, toilet paper rolls, and soda cans is just something that comes naturally.  When we’re lacking in inspiration though, we love to turn to the Internet to see what crafters are up to. When we saw this DIY jewelry stand made out of plastic soda bottles, we just knew we had to share it with you!

We’ve seen a lot of great recycling crafts during our searches but this one is by far the most beautiful and useful idea. Jewelry is not that easy to organize and even when you have jewelry boxes they aren’t always the most attractive (or environmental friendly) holders. Why not make your own, aesthetically pleasing jewelry stand that repurposes the bottom of old plastic bottles?

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Two 2 liter bottles of soda
  • One 1 liter bottle of soda
  • One 20oz bottle of soda
  • One 12-inch length of threading rod
  • One bag of nuts
  • One bag of washers
  • Drill
  • Dremel (optional)
  • Glass bead (optional)

The directions are pretty simple and straightforward. You can get detailed instructions by taking a look at the creator’s blog. We’ll give you the basic steps:

  1. First cut the bottom of your soda bottles off as deep or as shallow as you’d like. These will serve as the holders for your jewelry on the stand, so keep in mind what jewelry you’d like to put on each bottom.
  2. Drill holes that are the same size as your threaded rod in the center of each “petal.”
  3. Stick the rod through the holes and secure it with the nuts and washers.
  4. Decorate and place jewelry.

Don’t forget to post pictures of your completed craft on our Facebook page and keep the conversation going about recycling on Twitter using #werecycle @westsideenviro!

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?

Recycled Cans Bowling Craft

We love the start of fall here at Westside Environmental. The kids are back in school, temperatures are starting to get cooler, football is starting up—did we mention the kids are back in school?

As relaxing as your kid-free home might be, we know you secretly miss spending time with them. When we came across this fun recycled craft we knew it was perfect for an afterschool or weekend activity with your little students. Not only is soup can bowling a craft that’s fun to make with your kids, but it’s also a game that can be played over and over again for unlimited fun!

Recycled Can Bowling

Recycled Can Bowling Game

This craft is easy to make and only requires a few materials that you can find in your home. All you’ll need are soup cans, a 5″ Styrofoam ball, and some paint! The soup cans will serve as your bowling pins so while we recommend five for the size of the Styrofoam ball, you’re welcome to use as many as you wish you recycle! The more cans you use the more challenging your game will be!

Here’s how you put it all together:

  1. Clean out your soup cans and dry them so they’ll be ready to be painted!
  2. Paint your Styrofoam ball black like a bowling ball. For some added detail, add three white dots to serve as finger holes.
  3. Next, let your kids paint the soup cans however they’d like. Let them get creative! You never know what your little art students are going to come up with!
  4. Paint numbers on the front of the cans with black paint. Be sure to paint them with the bottom of the paint can facing up!

All that’s left to do is to line them up and knock them down! Don’t forget to post pictures of your completed craft on our Facebook page and keep the conversation going about recycling on Twitter using #werecycle @westsideenviro!

10 Ways to Reuse Plastic

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We all know these three words. In fact, most of us have grown up hearing them. Why is it then, that we often focus only on “recycle”? Reduce and Reuse are just as important when it comes to going green and taking care of our environment.

This post is going to focus on the second word, “reuse” and how we can reuse plastic bags without just throwing them in the recycling bin or using them again at the store. Over 1 trillion plastic bags are used every year worldwide. That means every minute, approximately 2 million plastic bags are used. Think about that… that’s a lot of plastic being used probably only one time. Below are 10 creative ways to reuse plastic bags to make our lives easier and our impact on the environment greener.

  1. Keep left over plastic bags in your glove compartment to use as trash and recycling bags on road trips. This is also helpful if you have kids and are just driving across town!
  2. When going on a trip, pack your shoes in plastic bags before you throw them in your luggage. That way, the rest of your belongings will be kept clean from any dirt or germs at the bottom of your shoes. You can also use these on trips to keep dirty clothes separated from clean ones!
  3. Have kids? You can use plastic bags as parachutes for action figures to elevate the fun at playtime. All you need are plastic bags and string (or dental floss!) Check out these directions and get crafting!
  4. If you’re moving anytime soon, save up your plastic bags and use them to pack drinking glasses, vases, and other fragile items. A layer of four bags or so around each object provides it with enough protection without the mess of newspaper ink or broken Styrofoam.
  5. In the winter you can use plastic bags to cover up your side view mirrors and windshield wipers on your car. When it gets cold or snows those parts will be frost-free!
  6. You can even use plastic bags to help you clean! Use them to dust off out-of-season shoes and anything dusty that might be forgotten in your closet.
  7. Plastic bags are soft when piled together so you can use them to stuff pet beds or throw pillows that have thick fabric covers.
  8. When it’s cold outside you can use plastic bags to protect plants from getting frost overnight. Just cover them with the plastic bags and tie the handles around the pots. Make sure you remember to take the bags off in the morning!
  9. If you’re going to be doing arts and crafts, cut slits in the sides of your plastic bags and lay them out on your crafting surface so you don’t make a mess!
  10. If all else fails or you’re just not the creative type, you can save up your plastic bags and donate them. Look for local food pantries, libraries, grocery stores, or hospitals that will take them.

Glitter Bugs

When’s the last time you did a craft with you child? If you can’t remember, maybe it’s time to break out the old craft supplies (and maybe even your recycling bin) and get to work! Crafts that incorporate recyclable products are a fun, creative activity that demonstrates to your children how to reuse trash for fun or purpose and expand their minds to think in new, inventive ways.

It’s also a guaranteed way to turn a bored child into a happy crafter (as well as an avid recycler!) If you have elementary school aged children and some old jar lids, they’ll love creating some cute glitter bugs this summer. You’ll even love the cute creations when your kids decide to add some extra flair to your yard decorating with them!

Little recyclers will love this glitter bug craft

All you’ll need for this cute craft are

  • recycled jar lids*
  • white acrylic craft paint
  • glitter paint
  • googly eyes
  • glitter pipe
  • hot glue gun

Just paint both sides of the lids white, cover them in glitter paint, and then stick eyes on top. After that you just need to glue the pipe cleaners to the bottom and viola—you’ve created your own glitter bugs!

For some extra fun, make a variety of different colored and sized glitter bugs for you kids to play with. Try helping them make their favorite TV characters or super heroes like Mickey Mouse or Spiderman. They’ll love having adventures with their little glitter-bug figurines in the yard. Don’t forget to share the pictures of your completed recycled craft!

* Note: since you’re only using the lids you’ll have the jars left over-don’t throw them out just yet! You might want to recycle them yourself and use them as unique vases.

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!