Posts filed under ‘Recycling’

Green Your Holiday Season

It’s the time of year when you squeeze in last-minute holiday shopping after a long day at work, when you wrap gifts up secretly so your children won’t peek, or when you frantically clean your home for family and guests.

It’s the time of year when hustle and bustle is expected, so we’ve compiled great simple tips to keep in mind for a green-and-clean holiday.

1. Use green cleaners. When preparing for holiday guests, trade in harsh household cleaners for cleaners that are safer for human (and pet) health and the environment. Find green cleaning tips.

2. Choose reusable shopping bags. Only 12 percent of plastic bags and 37 percent of paper bags are reused or recycled. Read DEP’s Retail Bags Report to learn more about how disposable bags impact the environment.

3. Share leftovers with guests or compost food waste. Send guests home with reusable containers of leftover feast or create compost instead of letting kitchen scraps and food go to the landfill. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers helpful tips for composting organic waste.

4. Wrap it green. gift tag with recycling symbolWrap gifts in paper made with recycled content or reuse wrapping paper. Or get creative with newspapers, old maps, magazines. Scarves, holiday linens or bandanas are excellent alternatives to paper wrapping. Reusable holiday bags are also a greener option than one-time-use paper. Try giving gifts that don’t require much packaging, such as concert tickets or gift certificates or gift cards.

5. Choose green lodging. If traveling or hosting out-of-town guests for the holidays, consider using a Florida Green Lodging designated property. Green Lodging facilities adopt cost-saving green practices to conserve energy, reduce water consumption, protect air quality and reduce waste.

6. Buy rechargeable batteries. About 40 percent of all battery sales occur during the holiday season. Buy rechargeable batteries to accompany your electronic gifts, and consider giving a battery charger as well. Rechargeable batteries reduce the amount of potentially harmful materials thrown away, and can save money in the long run. Learn more about rechargeable batteries on EPA’s website.

7. Visit a state park. Santa with deer at Homosassa Springs State Park, FloridaEntertain guests in one of Florida’s state parks. Many state parks host holiday events with lights, decorations and activities. Open 365 days a year, Florida’s state parks span more than 700,000 acres and 100 miles of sandy white beach, offering a glimpse into natural Florida. You can follow state parks on Twitter @FLStateParks.

8. Avoid idling in holiday traffic – Dial 511. Crawling traffic can contribute eight times as much air pollution as traffic moving at regular highway speeds. Call the Florida Department of Transportation’s 511 traffic information hotline or check the 511 website to learn about traffic, road closures and construction to avoid idling and reduce air pollution when holiday traveling.

9. Create your own decorations.rosemary Christmas tree in painted pot Create holiday decorations such as ornaments with old greeting cards or cookie dough, garlands made from strung popcorn or cranberries, and potpourri made from spices such as cinnamon and cloves. Paint terracotta pots with holiday theme. Plant rosemary or other savory herbs in the holiday pots to serve as decoration and a tasty addition to the spice rack.

10. Consider the tree. Real or artificial, your Christmas tree impacts the environment. Read “Buying Real vs. Artificial Christmas Trees” on the Earth911 blog.

December 19, 2011 at 4:10 pm Leave a 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

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

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

Apply Now for a Green School Award

The Green School Awards program, now in its third year, is accepting applications for the 2010/2011 school year. Public or private K-12 students, teachers, classrooms, schools and school districts can apply. Application deadline is June 21, 2011. Winners will be announced at the Learn Green: Green Schools Conference and Expo in Palm Beach County in November 2011.

The Florida Green School Awards Program recognizes and documents the achievement of students, teachers and school administrators to enhance learning by implementing green school initiatives in Florida. Last year, applicants for the Florida Green School Awards program saved more than 43,000 gallons of water and 56,126,468 kilowatt hours of electricity and reduced waste by nearly 5 tons.

Additionally, the schools saved $5.2 million dollars through greening efforts. With that kind of green, Florida can keep about 106 teachers in the classroom, buy more than 10,000 new computers or 263,000 new text books. As for environmental rewards – cleaner water, cleaner air, less waste – priceless.

Though a school’s traditional focus is on reading, writing and arithmetic, more schools are adding sustainability to the “things to learn” list. Since 16 percent of Florida’s residents spend at least six hours a day, five days a week during the academic year at school, the campus and the classrooms are also excellent venues for teaching and learning green habits that lead to a healthier school population, a healthier environment and a healthier bottom line.

If your school is greening, whether through a recycling program, water or energy conservation, flex fuel or a school garden, you can apply for a Green School Award. If you know someone in school who is doing great green things – student, teacher, administrator or support staff – encourage them to apply as well. One easy way to protect air and water quality, conserve water and reduce waste (both environmentally and financially) is to green your school and share the information with others.

Apply online for a Florida Green School Award.

Learn Green: Green Schools Conference and Expo

The Florida Green School Awards is a partnership between DEP’s Office of Environmental Education, Florida Department of Education, Florida’s Foundation and Sustainable Florida, Collins Center.

March 28, 2011 at 9:26 am 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

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