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NERC Blog

Recycling Makes Sense. A Single Bottle, A Single Can, A Single Box All Matter – So Does Your Participation

Today's guest blog comes to us from It's All You, a program of The Recycling Partnership. The original post can be found here.

Why should I recycle? It’s a question that we’ve all asked ourselves. The Recycling Partnership wants you to know that the answer is easy. According to the Partnership’s Chief Community Strategy Officer Cody Marshall, “Every time we recycle, we reduce pollution and conserve resources. But recycling does more than that. Recyclables have potential. When you recycle something, you’re actually putting material back into the supply chain.” It’s simple, easy, and something that we can all do from the comfort of our homes and offices.

What actually happens to the materials placed into recycling bins…

20+ Tips to Make Going Back to School and College Greener & More Sustainable

Today's guest blog comes to us from It's All You, a program of The Recycling Partnership. The original post can be found here.

Whether it’s shopping for back to school supplies or moving into a college dorm room, explore ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle more where you live, work, play, and learn.

So now that the longest “spring break” ever is over and it’s time for students to return to class, whatever that may look like, school supplies are likely at the top of your shopping list. Whether instruction is resuming remotely or in-person, you can choose sustainable choices that help protect the planet…

How Do You Motivate Someone to Recycle?

Today's guest blog is authored by Alec Cooley of Busch Systems. The original posting can be found here.

 

I got my start in the recycling field as a student volunteer in the early 90’s. Every week we set up a tabling display on my university’s quad that talked about the environmental benefits of recycling.

That message seemed obvious. It resonated with me personally as well as the other environmentally conscious students we spoke to. What we only slowly learned, and what most recycling educators now know is that this environmentally-focused message has little impact on the 80% or more of people who aren’t predisposed to respond to environmental issues. Our tabling efforts were a classic example of preaching to the choir.

Recycling is easy…right?

As much as we may have wanted people to care about recycling and the environment, the truth is that recycling educators have only one very specific job: get people to place recyclable items in the recycling bin. Simple…

Aiming for Zero Waste: Beware the Intersection Between Goals and Accounting

Today's Guest Blog is authored by NERC board member Chaz Miller. The original post can be found here.

Who doesn’t like the idea of zero waste? After all, waste is a cost, not an asset. Worse yet, if improperly handled, it can be an environmental burden. That makes eliminating waste an entirely reasonable idea. Yet, as my experience on a county task force showed, getting to zero waste is easier said than done.

For a good chunk of the last two years, I was a member of the Montgomery County, Md., Aiming for Zero Waste Task Force. The County Executive appointed our group of seven in 2018 to advise the Department of Environmental Protection on revisions to the solid waste plan. Montgomery County is immediately north of Washington, D.C. We are Maryland’s largest county with more than one million residents. The county manages recycling, composting,…

Here's How You Can Upcycle Your Clothes and Reduce Waste

This guest blog is provided by Isabella Lovett.

Every year in America, more than 15 million tons of textile waste is made — a figure that has doubled since the year 2000. As consumers we are buying more clothing than ever and often treating garments as something disposable. Of the 15 million tons of waste, only 2.6 million is actually recycled, 3.1 million is combusted to create energy, but the rest of it is simply put into landfill. The clothing manufacturing industry is polluting the atmosphere and our desire for new fashion is polluting the land that we live on. This is never going to be sustainable in the long term. The only solution is to cut down the demand for new clothing, and everyone can do this at a grassroots level by upcycling clothes instead of buying more. 

Repurposing simple garments

The t-shirt is one of the most purchased garments in America. They are…

Recycling is not rocket science. It’s people science.

Today's guest blog is authored by NERC Board member Chaz Miller. The original posting can be located here.

I love to hike. I often go to Rock Creek Park in the District or the Northwest Branch Trail in Silver Spring and enjoy an hour or two on the trails. In the past, I’ve always seen some litter, usually water bottles and other odds and ends. Since the pandemic began I’ve seen a surge in those bottles along with masks and gloves used to protect from the virus. Littering may be bad behavior and illegal in the parks, but that doesn’t seem to prevent it from happening.

I thought about that when I read the latest news story about another Congressional hearing on recycling. How to cure recycling is a hot topic on the Hill these days. We are told at these hearings that recycling is “broken”.  However, if we just adopt this policy or that policy or maybe this whole long list of…

A Composter’s Guide to Project Drawdown

Today's guest blog was written by Angelina Peone, the Recycling Coordinator at Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency in Kingston New York. It originally appeared in the US Composting Council's Soil Builders Blog, and can be found here.

In 2017, a nonprofit organization of leading scientists and researchers called Project Drawdown published a comprehensive report of key climate solutions and options to achieve ‘drawdown’ – the future point in time when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing, and start to steadily decline. The organization published an update on their initial assessments in the 2020 Drawdown Review, a 91-page report that ranks the critical actions needed to curb global warming temperatures under 2˚C – which is widely regarded as the scientific consensus of a global warming tipping point where climate change impacts could devastate the planet. The researchers lay out two ambitions scenarios that could achieve their emission reduction goals by mid-century if all solutions are applied…

VT FEED publishes its ninth farm to school resource and creates database of school meal distribution

Since 2000, Vermont Food Education Every Day (VT FEED) has worked with schools throughout the state, “to grow robust farm to school programs, acting as a catalyst for rebuilding healthy food systems, and cultivating links between classrooms, cafeterias, communities, and local farms.” A significant part of the nonprofit’s work has been the publication of farm to school resources, which with the publication of Connecting Classrooms, Cafeterias, Communities: A Guide to Building Integrated Farm to School Programs now number nine.

The 130-page guide, which is a free download from VT FEED’s website, “is an updated compilation of earlier resources and offers new approaches and tools to help your school community successfully grow your farm to school program,” it states. The guide is part of a national wave of farm to school programs: according to the USDA Farm to School Census,…

Community Composting – Does Summer Sun make Compost Too Hot?

Today's Guest Blog is from the Composting Association of Vermont. It was originally published here.

In this first post, I address a question about siting a system, that has come up a number of times over the last few years as we’ve worked to promote community composting and it’s also a question often asked by backyard composters: “Does a compost tumbler and/or bin need to be situated in the full sun?”

It’s a common misconception that compost systems need to be in sunny spots in order to achieve hot composting. Some claim that this is why many bins and tumblers are made of dark-colored materials (think black Soil Saver bins) – in order to absorb the sun’s radiation. While this has some merit, since the sun does heat up the tumbler or bin contents, it’s not where the heat comes from when we talk about hot composting.

In fact, as with everything in well-functioning compost systems, you can thank the microbes for heating things up! Heat is a byproduct of the of the decomposition process.

In…

Recycling Options for Single-Use Gloves

With COVID-19 upon us, single-use gloves are in use more than ever.  The headlines that quickly followed the virus outbreak in the US have often focused on used gloves strewn on the ground, in parks, and in parking lots.  For those working in materials management, this did not come as a surprise, but instead piqued our interest to find a way to manage the discarded gloves.   

Two companies that are facilitating the collection and recycling of disposal/single-use gloves are TerraCycle® and Kimberly-Clark Professional.  Both companies implement a discarded glove collection program and forward the materials to processors for making into a feedstock for manufacturers.  The manufacturers are using the recycled-content feedstock for making new products.

TerraCycle’s Disposable Gloves Zero Waste Box Program began in 2014 when TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Box division was launched.  “Since then it's quickly become one of the highest volume waste streams we divert…