Posts filed under ‘Easy As One’

Easy Ways to Green Your New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year from DEP with fireworks‘Tis the season for breaking New Year’s resolutions.

This time of year, the zealous excitement of newly declared New Year’s resolutions may begin to wear off. People begin to realize that, while their goals for the New Year may have been admirable, they have no idea how to accomplish them and begin to waver. Instead of “Hey! How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions?” you start hearing “So how many resolutions have you broken so far?”

One way to ensure that you accomplish your resolutions is to make them practical and enjoyable. Below, we give you suggestions for accomplishing three common New Year’s resolutions and improving not only yourself, but the environment as well.

Resolution #1: Exercise More.   

For many, the obvious solution to this resolution is to buy a gym membership.

For some, this option has great appeal – what’s not to love about a dense congregation of machines, sweaty people and protein shakes? For others, this idea may not appeal quite as much as hiking a wilderness trail or kayaking a crystal clear river alongside graceful manatees.

The cost of running in place in that gym – valued anywhere from $250 to $800 per year – may be a deterrent, as well.  An Annual Florida State Park Pass costs only $60 per person, per year. You can bring the whole family along for only $120 per year. So save money, have a fit, healthy family and get a better night’s sleep knowing that your new exercise plan is helping to ensure that Florida’s natural areas will be protected for generations to come. Find a Florida State Park near you at FloridaStateParks.org.

Resolution #2: Spend Less and Save More. 

There are many different ways to achieve this particular goal. One of the simplest and most earth-friendly methods is to be conscious of your home energy and water use.

 We’ve all been told to turn off the water when we brush our teeth and to turn off the lights when we leave a room, going back to elementary school. Of course, the concept seemed more fun than practical at that point. Now that we’ve moved beyond dancing toothbrushes and singing light bulbs, saving water and energy is more than fun— it can also save you cash.  

For example, most people don’t realize that they’re wasting electricity by leaving their appliances plugged into a live surge protector at all times. Flipping that little switch while you’re off to work for a few hours can potentially save you 10 percent or more on your utility bill each month, according to the US Department of Energy. Do the math: If your utility bill is $300 per month, you save $30 each month and $360 each year. Similarly, fixing one leaky faucet that drips once per second can save you about 10 percent on your water bill. Learn more about water conservation techniques at the EPA’s Water Sense website.

Resolution #3: Eat Healthier. 

Last but certainly not least, let’s explore the concept of eating healthier to benefit yourself and the environment. It may seem like an odd association, but there are innumerable benefits to healthy eating, especially when your healthy food is grown locally.

Purchasing food from a local farmer’s market or food co-op supports a healthy environment by reducing the amount of fossil fuels and packaging materials used to transport and preserve your food; a healthy local economy by supporting local farmers; and a healthy body by supplying truly fresh foods which have not had time to lose any beneficial nutrients. Learn more about the benefits of buying local produce at the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment. Once you’ve committed to being a “locavore,” find out how to fix your fresh Floridian foods, by filching a few ideas from the Fresh from Florida blog.

January 19, 2012 at 2:45 pm 1 comment

Rolling in the Sunshine State

I occasionally get curious about fairly odd topics. This morning, I decided I needed to know how many vehicles I passed on the way to work. After half a mile and 178 vehicles, my curiosity shifted to tires. How many tires are rolling across Florida right now? What happens to all those gazillion tires when they go flat or bald?

trafficTurns out, DEP keeps track of that sort of thing. An estimated 15,250,000 automobile, light truck, and smaller tires plus 850,000 medium truck and larger tires were removed from vehicles in Florida in 2008, according to the “Waste Tires in Florida, State of the State” report.

Sixteen million tires take up a lot of landfill space. Stockpiling isn’t particularly helpful – retired tires, especially piles and piles of them, provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes that transmit nasty diseases such as West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis. We’ve learned that dumping them into the ocean as a pseudo reef is a bad idea. And we for sure don’t need that many tire swings. So what do we do with the tires? DEP keeps track of that, too.

• Waste-to-energy facilities used 54 percent of our old tires to enhance combustion temperature control and generate electricity.

• Nearly 600,000 tires were shredded and used instead of soil and aggregate in projects such as landfill drainage layers, methane gas collection systems and septic system drainage trenches.

• Crumb rubber made of tires from the Polk City Waste Tire Site was used to produce rubber modified asphalt (RMA) for paving the Withlacoochee and Van Fleet state trails in 1995, the first use of RMA for a trail in the U.S. (BTW, the Withlacoochee State Trail was recently designated a National Recreation Trail.)

• Recycled tires are used as fuel in cement kilns and pulp and paper factories.

• Tire shreds can be used to stabilize soil when constructing road embankments.

• Ground rubber is used in rubberized asphalt to pave playgrounds, running tracks and roads.

In small quantities, old tires can also be used as crash barriers around race tracks and boat bumpers at marinas. If you just need to dispose of a tire or two, check with a local tire center or contact your city or county waste management department.

pile of tiresIn any case, 18-wheeler or 4-wheeler size, tires are on our list of things to count. DEP’s Waste Tire Management Program addresses how waste tires should be moved, stored, processed, used or disposed. Staff assist in cleaning up illegal tire piles and work with potential buyers to develop markets for waste tires. In addition, DEP distributes grants to counties to help manage waste tires. In Florida, that’s the way we roll with tires.

Resources

2010 numbers provided by Daniel M. Kuncicky, Ph.D., Environmental Manager, Solid Waste Section, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Waste Tire Management Program
The waste tires report online
Withlacoochee State Trail
General James A. Van Fleet State Trail

August 29, 2011 at 4:52 pm Leave a comment

Book Your Summer

In conjunction with First Lady Ann Scott’s recent announcement of the Summer Literacy Adventure, the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are encouraging students to head outdoors with a book from DOE’s Just Read, Florida! 2011 Recommended Summer Reading List.

Reading, indoors or outdoors, no matter the season, engages the imagination of both children and adults. Reading is also a green activity.

Woman on couch readingOnce produced, a book requires no additional resources to enhance its function. Books require no batteries, no chords, no chargers, no accessories, no electricity. Books do not require upgrades. Though sequels are sometimes produced, the original functions just fine without it.

Books require little maintenance. No fuel, oil, or hoses to refill, change or inspect.

Books are durable and can last under a bed for months, on a bookcase for decades, even centuries, and be just as functional as the day they were printed.

Books are easily shared. Books can be passed around to a multitude of friends and family members and still be read by yet another generation. Reading aloud is another green option for sharing a book with others, and doesn’t require downloading an app.

Books are portable. They fit easily into a beach bag, carry-on luggage, backpacks and pockets.

Reading is powered by the human mind, and during the long days of summer, reading light is provided by sunshine. The grass doesn’t get much greener.

Find more easy actions to stay cool and stay green this summer.

June 17, 2011 at 1:20 pm Leave a comment

Smart Water

reuse storage tank

Reuse storage tank (Photo by Shanin Speas-Frost)

Hot, cold, boiled, frozen or steamed, fresh water tops our must-have list.  On average, Floridians use 6.7 billion gallons of fresh water daily. Each day we also produce billions of gallons of wastewater (showers, laundry, dishwashing and such), which we could just as well use again, particularly since our state is drought prone.

Fortunately, Florida is one of the most water-efficient states in the nation, with more than 420 reuse systems. According to DEP’s Reuse Inventory, in 2010 reclaimed water was used to irrigate 281,781 residences, 525 golf courses, 877 parks and 324 schools. More than 10,000 acres of citrus crops (mostly in central and southwest Florida) are irrigated with reclaimed water.

 Reusing water helps ensure that our Florida faucets continue to flow with fresh, clean water used for drinking, cooking, showering and washing the dishes. Besides, irrigation with reclaimed water costs less than fresh tap water. Another plus – reclaiming water instead of disposing of it in waterways helps protect water quality in bays and rivers.  

Contact your utility company or water management district to find out if reclaimed water is available in your area. If reclaimed water is not available, contact your local elected officials, city planners or water management district to learn about plans for water reuse.

The more water we reuse, the more we’ll have on tap for quenching our thirst, icing tea, steaming veggies and boiling shrimp.

Learn more about water reuse in Florida.
Florida Water Reuse Week, May 15-21
DEP’s Reuse Inventory

May 16, 2011 at 12:51 pm Leave a comment

Earth Day at the Capitol 2011

For the tenth year, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Environmental Education hosted Earth Day at the Capitol in Tallahassee. Area students who attended the event learned about our environment and some easy ways to protect it. At the Easy As One station, students learned how to pack a waste-free lunch and other easy actions kids can take to protect air and water quality, conserve water and reduce waste.

More than 200 students pledged to adopt one more habit to help protect the environment. Among the pledges: watch less TV; take shorter showers; tell parents about leaky faucets; plant a garden; plant a tree; pack a waste-free lunch; reuse or recycle plastic bags.

Learn more easy actions for kids that help protect the environment – on Earth Day and every day.

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April 25, 2011 at 2:04 pm Leave a comment

Easy Numbers

I don’t trust numbers. I spent the whole fourth grade learning that division and multiplication are totally opposite operations only to discover that 10 x 1 = 10 and
10 ÷1 = 10. And zero throws all kinds of kinks in an equation. My checkbook never balances and I can’t figure out what percent daily value of nutrients I get from a cup of coffee. But even a mathphobe can find the positive in some numbers. The number of items collected through Easy As One events is one such number.

On Earth Day 2010, DEP launched Easy As One, a public awareness initiative to encourage citizens to adopt more sustainable habits that protect our air and water quality, conserve water and reduce waste. As of today, we’ve diverted tons of paper and electronics, beaucoup cell phones and chargers and truck loads of plastic bags, meds and ammunition from landfills.

Item Collected                      Amount Collected                           

Paper                                       73,400 pounds
Plastic retail bags                 40,980
Cell phones                            1,311
Cell phone chargers             1,512
Meds                                         33,100 bottles + 1,113 pounds + 383,483 pills
Ammunition                             645 pounds
Electronics                               74,232 pounds

Easy As One will continue to host events throughout the year and we hope you will continue your green efforts and expand your repertoire of easy actions that reduce waste, conserve water and protect air and water quality. Thank you to those who brought items we were collecting to our events. One simple action, like participating in Easy As One events, has lead to extraordinary results.

April 13, 2011 at 4:25 pm Leave a comment

Tallahassee Community Invited to Go Green While Spending Green

Recent studies say the average shopper spends close to an hour and a half when they visit their local mall. While wandering the corridors on the weekend, they may try on a few clothes, wander through isles of books or grab a slice of pizza or cup of coffee at the food court. On March 12, shoppers in Tallahassee can add protecting the planet to their to-do list for their lazy Saturday.

For the second year, the Department of Environmental Protection’s Easy As One team will be on hand outside the Governor’s Square Mall to give shoppers three easy opportunities to do their part to protect the environment. First from 10 a.m. to noon, free paper shredding and recycling will be offered to help citizens properly dispose of documents they may want securely shredded and responsibly recycled. Second, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Easy As One team will collect working and nonworking cell phones and chargers for proper recycling, and third, partnering with A Bags Life campaign, they will be collecting all retail plastic bags for recycling.

Even shopaholics who venture outside to the Easy As One collection site can learn just how easy it is for each one of us to make sustainable choices. Those who participate in the cell phone and retail plastic bag recycling will receive a day pass to any Florida State Park or a reusable bag for those days not spent window shopping for new shoes.

March 4, 2011 at 1:48 pm Leave a comment

Get Ready for Tallahassee’s Super Clean Sweep – February 26

You have probably heard the saying, “Many hands make the load light.” When it comes to cleaning up local neighborhoods, it couldn’t be more appropriate. DEP’s Easy As One initiative is teaming up with Keep Tallahassee-Leon County Beautiful to support the 16th Annual Super-Clean Sweep event focused on cleaning up the Tallahassee community. Volunteers will do everything from planting trees, flowers and shrubs to painting over graffiti and, of course, picking up litter. DEP will be on hand at Tallahassee’s Lake Ella on February 26 from 7:30 – 11:00 a.m. to share information regarding the proper disposal of compact fluorescent light, (CFLs), prescription medications and batteries along with other sustainable habits, in an effort to encourage the continuation of good environmental deeds long after the event is over.

Citizens who stop by to drop off unwanted cell phones and retail plastic bags for recycling will receive a free state park day pass, good for a whole carload to any of Florida’s 160 award-winning state parks.

To lend a hand with Tallahassee’s Super Clean Sweep, visit www.ktlcb.com. For more information on DEP’s Easy As One initiative, go to www.dep.state.fl.us/easyasone.

February 23, 2011 at 10:26 am 1 comment

Become MVP of the Planet

This Sunday, millions of football fans will crowd their living rooms to watch professional football’s championship game known simply as Super Bowl XLV. This year’s grudge match between the historic franchises of the Pittsburg Steelers and the Green Bay Packers will no doubt prove to be a good one.

While some fans will unapologetically wear giant foam wedges of cheddar on their heads in support of Green Bay, others will whirl around their iconic Terrible Towels in unity for their Pittsburg team. No matter where your allegiance lies, when it comes to getting ready for the Super Bowl, being a fan of Florida’s environment just makes sense.

Any great party will naturally start with an invitation, and this one is no different. However, the method of inviting fellow football fanatics is changing. Instead of using old school paper invitations that contribute to the waste stream, consider sending an electronic invitation. When searching for “electronic invitation” online, you will find pages of free sites that do everything from sending out the party info to making rosters of who has accepted your invite and what they are bringing (after all, you want to make sure everyone isn’t bringing bean dip). Electronic invitations are the way to go.

Second, a walk through the store isle will find package after package of party decorations themed for the big game, but is it really necessary to buy new decorations for a few hours of pigskin partying only to discard them in the trash on Sunday night? Hardly! Instead of buying decorations you would only use once, show off your favorite team jersey, shirts, hats, and any other sports memorabilia you may have around the house. It is so much cooler looking than flimsy paper table toppers, costs less, and is zero waste.

Even though a Florida team hasn’t been in a Super Bowl since the Buccaneers won back in Super Bowl XXXVII, we can offer up our appreciation for the sunshine state by choosing foods that are Fresh from Florida. Produce like carrots, celery, broccoli, strawberries, oranges, onions and tomatoes are likely to find a place on fruit and veggie trays throughout the country. By choosing local produce, you show allegiance to our hometown team of farmers and their sustainable efforts.

Once the dust has settled in Dallas, Texas and a new world champion is determined, the next big event starts…the cleanup. So how do you green your clean up?

  • Have designated bins for glass bottles or aluminum cans. This makes it easier for your guests to recycle and prevents any stray recyclables from finding their way in the trash.
  • If you used plastic utensils, you can hand wash them or even run them in your dishwasher. No need to throw them away. Save them for your next party.
  • If you ordered pizza like a lot of folks, recycle the pizza box. Just tear off the greasy part and recycle the rest.

With professional football’s championship game coming up soon, go ahead and make plans for the game of the year with the environment in mind. A few easy actions on your part will make you MVP of the planet without even wearing a helmet and cleats.

February 3, 2011 at 10:12 am Leave a comment

Conserving Energy Reduces Waste

Currently in the U.S., electricity demand continues to increase even as energy efficiency gains are made.  Since 1970, the use of coal to generate electricity in the U.S. has nearly tripled in response to growing electricity demand.  Almost half of the electricity is presently generated by coal-fueled electric power plants.  The more electricity consumed the more coal that is being used for energy production. Consider that the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that electricity demand will grow by 41% by 2030.  With the burning of coal to produce electricity, ash is produced.  In the process of converting coal into energy, the coal-fueled electric power industry generated approximately 72.4 million tons of coal fly ash (ash that rises to the chimney or stack), 18.4 million tons of bottom ash (ash that does not rise), and 2.0 million tons of boiler slag (molten ash) in 2008. Though some of the coal fly ash, bottom ash, and boiler slag can be used in cement, asphalt and construction projects, 70 – 80 percent of the ash ends up in a landfill.

Small changes in daily routines, such as turning off lights, unplugging appliances not in use, washing clothes in cold water, and maintaining moderate household temperatures reduces the amount of coal needed to produce electricity. So while you’re conserving energy, you’re also reducing waste!

Michell Mason Smith
Engineering Specialist III
Solid Waste Section
Florida Department of Environmental Protection

October 27, 2010 at 9:42 am Leave a comment

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