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.

How Aggregate is used in Construction

Aggregate Stone

The environmental and fiscal benefits of using aggregate in construction are no secret. Being able to repurpose recycled materials to lower costs and improve the overall quality of projects is a major advantage that construction aggregates offer to property owners and city planners alike. But how exactly do construction companies use aggregate? If you can’t think of the answer: Don’t worry. We’ve compiled a list that demonstrates that many ways that aggregate is used.

To Strengthen and Support

Construction workers turn to aggregate most often to strengthen and support various structures. Aggregate provides a strong, hard base for workers to build on top of. Its use as a foundation offers a strong yet flexible base for buildings, bridges, and dams. In roads and railway ballast, aggregates are used to resist the overall (static and dynamic) load as well as to distribute the load properly to the supporting ground.

To Drain Water

When used as a foundation, recycled aggregate also greatly improves drainage for buildings. Construction aggregate also allows water to better drain off of road surfaces. Aggregate is one of the main reasons why your vehicle doesn’t simply sink into the soil during wet spells. While water sticks closely to soil particles, it has a harder time holding on to the voids between aggregates so gravity takes over and allows the water to drain.

To Reduce Shrinkage and Cracking

When concrete is mixed, construction workers mix in more water than necessary with the dry components. This extra water results in a difference of moisture content which produces stresses that ultimately are relived when they crack the concrete structure. These are called “Shrinkage Cracks.” Since water doesn’t affect aggregates like it does soils, the use of construction aggregates keep structures from sustaining shrinkage cracks during dry spells.

Do you know any other uses for construction aggregate? Let us know in the comments below!

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!

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.

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.

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.

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!