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This Fall, the leaves are not the only things changing

We are normally accustomed to autumn bringing about cooler temperatures, football games and, although muted by our temperate climate, leaves adjusting their colors. It also appears that fall may be adding other traditional earmarks of the season – “Green” events. The next few months find the Easy As One calendar full of nearly three-dozen environmentally focused events located from the panhandle all the way down to the Florida Keys. Workshops, recycling days, and festivals all dot the calendar with opportunities to become actively involved in learning more about our environment and how important each one of us are to its sustainability. These events also bring about the opportunity for us to possibly change our attitudes and habits – making us even more aware of our impact on the planet. So take a few minutes and see if you can include one or more of these events in your fall schedule. You may be surprised to see how easy change can be.

October 12, 2010 at 8:54 am Leave a comment

An Ounce of Prevention

You have to wonder what Benjamin Franklin was thinking when he decided, “Hey, I think I’ll go fly a kite during a storm.” Still, Franklin contributed much to our culture and our knowledge base. Benjamin Franklin’s observation, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is the underlying principle behind Pollution Prevention.

In addition to being a common sense solution to protecting our health, the principal extends to protecting our environment.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines Pollution Prevention (P2) as reducing or eliminating waste at the source by modifying production processes, promoting the use of non-toxic or less-toxic substances, implementing conservation techniques, and re-using materials rather than putting them into the waste stream.

Manufacturers and businesses can prevent pollution on a large scale, but humans outnumber factories and our collective individual actions have a huge impact on the quality of the air we breathe and the quality of the water we use to brew our morning caffeine.

While modifying production processes may be mostly in the realm of manufacturers, we can find ways to modify production processes in our ordinary actions. Conserve energy by chopping veggies by hand for homemade soups and salsa instead of using the food processor. Produce and distribute reports electronically to conserve paper that would have likely ended up in a landfill. What other components of P2 can you incorporate into your daily routine?

Can you use less toxic substances? That’s easy. Use a microfiber cloth to clean instead of harsh chemicals.

Can you conserve water? That’s easy, too. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. Install a low-flow faucet at the kitchen sink.

Can you conserve energy? Easy as well. Turn off lights and unplug electronics you’re not using. Buy energy-efficient appliances.

Can you re-use materials? Also easy.  Local retailers provide recycling bins for plastic bags. Many cities now provide curbside recycling for paper, glass, metal, and some types of plastic bottles. If you can’t re-use an item, maybe someone else can. Goodwill and local charities can help redistribute household items and clothes that you no longer need. Libraries can put your books into circulation. Many cell phones and electronics can be refurbished and used again.

Eliminating or reducing pollution at its source is a common sense approach to environmental protection and pollution prevention. Something to consider for P2 Week and beyond: For both pollution and prevention, we humans are the source.

Learn more about:

Pollution Prevention

P2 Week Events in Florida

Easy As One

A Bag’s Life

September 22, 2010 at 3:16 pm 1 comment

Stop and Think – Pollution Prevention Week 2010

September 20-26 is National Pollution Prevention Week. Have you ever stopped to think what you can do to prevent pollution? Do you even know what pollution prevention is…I didn’t until I started working at DEP, and sometimes I’m still not sure I always know what it is!

The official definition goes something like this – Pollution prevention is a proactive approach that eliminates or reduces pollution at its source – through water conservation, energy efficiency, minimizing the usage of raw materials and green cleaning. Stopping pollution prior to its creation is the most environmentally sound method of protecting health and natural resources.

It may sound a little overwhelming and in most cases people associate pollution prevention with big industrial plants changing their process to reduce pollution. But it can be simple. Preventing pollution is as easy as bringing your reusable bags to the grocery store instead of using plastic bags, using green cleaners or packing a waste-free lunch.

Recognizing P2 Week is an opportunity for us (government) to join with you (schools, businesses and citizens) to provide education and outreach to help make sense of what pollution prevention is.

During this week events are being held throughout the state to inform people of the easy ways to help prevent pollution with just one action. Check out the list below.

POLLUTION PREVENTION WEEK EVENTS

EAO Regional Collection Event

Saturday, September 18

8:00a.m. – 12:00p.m.

Amway Arena

600 W Amelia St

Orlando, Florida

Items to be Collected: Paper, Cell Phones, Electronics, Plastic Bags

DEP Northeast Office Collection Event

Monday, September 20

12:00p.m.-2:00p.m.

DEP Northeast District Office

7825 Baymeadows Way, Suite B200

Jacksonville, Florida

Items to be Collected: Plastic Bags, Cell Phones

Clean Marina and Clean Boatyard Workshop

Tuesday, September 21

9:00a.m. – 12:00p.m.

Cooperative Extension Office

12520 Ulmerton Road

Largo, FL

Junior Museum of Bay County Safety Day

Saturday, September 25

10:00a.m. – 2:00p.m.

Junior Museum of Bay County

308 Airport Road

Panama City, FL 32405

Items to be Collected: Cell Phones

International Coastal Cleanup Collection Event

Saturday, September 25

7:00a.m. – 9:00a.m.

Life Guard Station

Beach Boulevard Walk Over

Jacksonville Beach, Florida

Items to be Collected: Cell Phones, Plastic Bags

NATIONAL DRUG TAKE BACK EVENTS STATEWIDE

Saturday, September 25

10:00a.m. – 2:00p.m.

Walgreens

4497 Mobile Highway

Pensacola, Florida

Items to be Collected: Medication, Plastic Bags, Cell Phones

CVS

2090 S Highway 29

Cantonment, Florida

Items to be Collected: Medication, Plastic Bags, Cell Phones

Walgreens

10503 San Jose Boulevard

Jacksonville, Florida

Items to be Collected: Medication, Plastic Bags, Cell Phones

Walgreens

1705 US 1

Vero Beach, Florida

Items to be Collected: Medication, Plastic Bags, Cell Phones

The Shops at Wiregrass

28211 Paseo Drive

Wesley Chapel, Florida

Items to be Collected: Medication, Plastic Bags, Cell Phones

10:00a.m. – 1:00p.m.

Edison State College Student Life Lobby

8099 College Parkway

Fort Myers, Florida

Items to be Collected: Medication, Plastic Bags, Cell Phones

11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Lantana Police Department

500 Greynolds Circle

Lantana, Florida

Items to be Collected: Medication, Plastic Bags

September 17, 2010 at 11:18 am Leave a comment

Easy As One Collection Event in Orlando – Sept 18

In recognition of Pollution Prevention Week, DEP’s Easy As One campaign along with E-PASS and several community partners, is sponsoring a shredding and electronics recycling event Saturday, September 18th from 8 am to 12 pm. It will be at the Amway Arena (West Livingston Street, Orlando, FL 32801), in the parking lot area in front of the Amway Arena near the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre.

This is a free event, open to everyone. Residents can bring their documents and watch as they are shredded. In an effort to reduce wait times, please limit your shredding to less than 10 boxes.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection staff will be on hand to discuss easy ways to prevent pollution and will collect retail plastic bags to recycle and used cell phones (working and non-working) along with stray chargers to donate to a local charity.

Participants who bring in 20 or more retail plastic bags for recycling will receive a reusable shopping bag. Those who bring a cell phone or paper for shredding will receive a day pass to a Florida State Park by visiting the Easy As One booth, while supplies last.

In addition, participants can bring working and non-working electronics (excluding TVs) for recycling. See below for accepted items. DEP, E-PASS and the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority are not responsible for any items dropped off during this event.

The following electronics will be accepted, working or not working: desktop, tower, laptop computers; CRT, LCD, plasma monitors/displays; printers/plotters; fax machines; telephone systems, switches; PDAs, radios; stereos; VHS/DVDs; video games; projectors, cameras; any kind of storage media. At this time, we CANNOT accept TVs.

For computers and other items like cell phones and PDAs, a private company will process the item for data destruction (three pass electronic erasure and Department of Defense level sanitization of hard drives.) All identifying marks, stickers and labels are removed. If media cannot be securely destroyed electronically, physical destruction is carried out at their facility.

For more information, please call 407-690-5000.

September 13, 2010 at 9:49 am 1 comment

The Wrong Stuff (to throw away)

According to George Carlin, a house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. The thing about stuff is that we don’t realize how much of it we accumulate. Or how much of it we throw away.

stack of paper

Paper
Paper, for example. Most Americans are awash in paperwork, and will find paper in every room in the house, in every office, in every garage, in every retail store and salon and even at sporting events. About the only place you can’t find paper is in the ladies room at gas stations along evacuation routes during an active hurricane season.

How much paper do we use? Several sources claim that Americans use 85 million tons of paper a year—that’s about 680 pounds generated by each person every year.

Why recycle paper? According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recycling paper causes 35 percent less water pollution and 74 percent less air pollution than making paper from scratch. So recycling your paper protects air and water quality and reduces waste.

Plastic Bags
For such a handy little invention, the retail plastic bag has recently become a topic of much debate, the bag’s litter potential one of the main points of plastic bagdiscussion. Take a city of 200,000 for example. If each resident brought home four plastic bags a week for 52 weeks, each person will have brought home 208 bags in a year. Collectively, city residents will have brought home 41.1 million bags. And that’s assuming that each resident brought home only four bags a week, including holidays and back-to-school shopping.

Most folks have their favorite re-use, like the practical trash can liner or pet by-product handler, but the unused bags provide tons of raw material that can be recycled to make new plastic containers, decking and more plastic bags. Many local retailers now recycle your bags so that they don’t go to waste.

Cell Phones
Fire may have taken us out of the dark ages, but cell phones make sure we’re enlightened 24/7. A few years ago, cell phones were good for making and receiving calls. Now, we can talk, text, email, shop and find the closest sushi bar. On average, cell phones are replaced about every 18 months. A two-year-old phone is yesterday’s technology. Americans retire nearly 130 million cell phones stack of cell phonesannually. At last count, only about 10 percent of cell phones were recycled, but recent polls indicate that the number is increasing.

In addition to take-back programs at wireless provider and retail locations, many agencies and organizations collect cell phones for a 911 Cell Phone Bank where data is cleared, phones are refurbished and sent to law enforcement agencies and victim assistance programs where they are distributed to those who may need emergency communication—victims of stalking, domestic violence, elder abuse or neglect.

Phones that can’t be refurbished can be recycled. The EPA calculates that recycling a million cell phones would yield 75 pounds of gold, 772 pounds of silver and 35,274 pounds of copper. Mining for gold, silver and copper in cell phones protects air and water quality. Donating a cell phone to a 911 cell phone bank could save a life.

The next time you consider tossing some of your stuff, remember that much of that stuff is still usable. Less trash means more stash for the future.

September 10, 2010 at 3:44 pm Leave a comment

Purple Reigns in Water Conservation Potential

Florida is a state flanked by a gulf and an ocean, dotted with hundreds of lakes and springs and crossed by thousands of miles of rivers and streams, and sprinkled with lots of puddles during the rainy season. Water is everywhere. Still, we are unsure how much water we have to drink or how long our supply will last. A waste not, want not approach helps conserve our water sources.

One easy way to keep our water stocked is to reclaim it. Water that we usually waste—domestic wastewater—can be filtered, disinfected and used again.

Some places in Florida have been using reclaimed water for years and the purple pipe–in the United States, reclaimed water is distributed in purple pipes—has distributed many a gallon to Florida landscapes and lawns.

The St. Petersburg Master Urban Reuse System set a “waste not, want not” example with one of the first large urban reuse systems. St. Pete has had numerous visitors from other countries, including most recently South Korea, looking for similar water management solutions. The St. Pete system, in operation since 1977, supplies highly treated reclaimed water for irrigation to more than 10,200 residential lawns, 64 schools, 101 parks, and six golf courses.

Disney sets another example of the “waste not, want not” philosophy. Reedy Creek Improvement District provides the Walt Disney World Resort Complex with reclaimed water which is used to irrigate four golf courses, landscaped areas at eight hotels, highway medians, an athletic complex and a water park. Reclaimed water is also used to irrigate a 110-acre tree farm which produces horticultural materials used throughout the complex. Disney also puts reclaimed water to work as cooling tower make-up water, for washing vehicles, cleaning streets and sidewalks in the Disney parks.

Purple fire hydrants provide access to reclaimed water for fire suppression and protection. Reclaimed water can also be used to recharge groundwater. In 2008, Florida used 667 million gallons per day of reclaimed water, saving more than 125 billion gallons of drinkable water while adding more than 79 billion gallons back to available water supplies.

Though Florida leads the nation in water reuse, the potential for reclaiming water goes untapped in many areas. To find out if reclaimed water is available in your neighborhood, look for purple pipes or purple fire hydrants. Contact your local wastewater management or reuse utility company. Contact information can usually be found on your utility bill. If reclaimed water is available, follow the guidelines provided by your local reuse utility.

If reclaimed water is not available in your neighborhood, contact your local elected officials, city planners, or water management district to learn about plans for water reuse.

Learn more about water reuse.
Learn more ways to conserve water in your yard.

Information provided by
Shanin Speas Frost
Water Reuse/Wastewater Wetlands Coordinator
Florida Department of Environmental Protection

August 31, 2010 at 9:34 am Leave a comment

BACK TO SCHOOL TAX HOLIDAY TURNS GREEN WITH DEP COLLECTION AT GOVERNOR’S SQUARE MALL

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On Saturday, we hosted our fourth regional Easy As One collection event in Tallahassee at the Governor’s Square Mall. At the event, two tons of paper were shredded and recycled by Shred-It; more than 3,000 retail plastic bags were collected and recycled; and 146 used cell phones and 135 chargers were collected to be donated to the Big Bend Victim Assistance Coalition. Despite the heat and humidity, the turn out was very impressive and is a testament to how much Floridians value their environment.

For those who were unable to attend the event, many retail grocery stores have implemented plastic bag recycling programs to make recycling easy for their shoppers. To find a plastic bag recycling location, go to http://www.abagslife.com. Visit http://www.Earth911.com for information on recycling paper and many other items such as computer monitors, toner cartridges and televisions.

August 16, 2010 at 2:24 pm Leave a comment

Next Easy As One Collection in Tallahassee

On Saturday, August 14, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will host an Easy As One collection at the Governor’s Square Mall in Tallahassee. If you plan to be out taking advantage of the Back to School Sales Tax Holiday, also plan to stop by the Easy As One tent to recycle plastic retail bags, shred paper for recycling and donate used cell phones (working and non-working) to the Big Bend Victim Assistance Coalition.

 Participants who bring in 15 or more bags for recycling will receive a reusable shopping bag. Those who bring a cell phone or paper for recycling will receive a day pass (valid through December 31, 2010) to a Florida State Park. Mention that you read our blog and win a prize. While supplies last.

Easy As One Collection
Date: Saturday, August 14
Time: 10 am – 2 pm
Location: Governor’s Square Mall parking lot between JCPenney and Macy’s

Event Flyer

August 10, 2010 at 1:01 pm Leave a comment

Vote for the Department of Environmental Protection’s Project:Teach Florida students green habits that produce amazing results.

DEP’s Easy As One project was chosen to be in the running for $25,000 in grant money during August’s voting cycle of Pepsi’s Refresh Everything Project.

Florida’s Foundation and DEP teamed up to submit their project: Teach Florida students green habits that produce amazing results. At six collection events, students and the community will collect plastic bags to be recycled, offer shredding and recycling services and collect cell phones for disposal or donation.  Each of the six participating schools will receive $1,500 toward making their school green and have an opportunity to earn an additional $7,000! Students statewide can enter a You Tube contest for cash awards.

You can vote every day during August, here’s how:

August 2, 2010 at 12:38 pm Leave a comment

Spring in Summer

A spring in summer provides an excellent way to cool down.  Cold water carries heat away from the body 25 times faster than air of the same temperature. A dive into one of Florida’s springs brings immediate relief. So pack a waste-free picnic, turn off the lights, unplug the computer, invite some friends to ride with you to conserve gas and reduce emissions, and head to your favorite spring to take it easy. Several state parks feature springs that provide a chilling experience.

Find more Florida Springs.

Learn more about the “Take it Easy” Twitter contest.

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July 29, 2010 at 12:02 pm Leave a comment

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