Topic: reduce consumption

Cary’s Corner: Young opinions on why we matter

This is the third guest post from my niece Cary.  She says that it’s important to care about the environment.  Her comments are quite thoughtful and smart.  Let’s hope there are plenty of other 6th graders out there who see things as clearly as she does.

Why do it

Do you think knowing about the environment is important?    It helps people know what to do to save it and survive.

Do you think you can do anything to make the world a better place?    Yes everyone can - that is what our teachers are teaching us.  Even picking up a piece of garbage helps.

Would you be willing to give up an hour each day of TV, Wii, or computer to save energy?    Yes if it would save our environment I would.

People should care about the environment.  It is needed for life.  A example of this is; say because of global warming or pollution all the plants die.  Well as a result of this many animals will die and then all the animals that usually eat those animals will die too.  If this happens the whole human race will die and earth would have no life left on it.

Parents, teachers, aunts/uncles, family members, and neighbors:  what you teach young people may make all the difference in the future.  Remember that you are leading with your actions and your ideas.  Kids are listening, learning, and forming ideas that they may keep for a very long time.  Sometime not too far away, Cary and her friends will be leading companies, governments, and their own families.  Plant a positive seed: take some time to explain things to young people and show them how they can make a difference.  It’s a good opportunity to make Cincinnati green today and tomorrow.

Celebrate World Car-Free Day

World Car-Free Day is September 22.

Plan to celebrate by leaving the car in the driveway for the day.  Will you plan to walk, bike, bus, or rollerskate to school or work this Monday?

Can I recycle sticky notes, paper towels, or wrapping paper?

There is a lot of paper in our lives; way beyond office paper, junk mail, and magazines.  Here are a few more answers to help you get the right mixed paper into your recycling bin.

Question: Can sticky papers like post-it notes be recycled?
Answer: Yes

Question: Can restroom and kitchen paper towels that have been used to dry hands and counters be recycled?
Answer: No. There is bio residue and grease (similar to the case with pizza boxes) left behind that contaminates the paper so it cannot be recycled.

Question: Can I recycle shiny papers like receipts, movie tickets, and coupons?
Answer: Yes! These are all considered mixed paper and are indeed recyclable.  Even if you choose to shred your receipts, you can recycle the paper shreds.

Question: Can I recycle paperback books?
Answer: No.  Rumpke cannot accept these, but you can donate them to the public library or take them to a Half Price Books store for resale.

Question: Can wrapping paper be recycled if you get all the tape off?
Answer: Rumpke’s manufacturers will only allow a very small percentage of wrapping paper in a bale, and if there is too much it will not be accepted. At this time, Rumpke advises against adding wrapping paper to your recycling. However, back in the day, my grandma collected wrapping paper at holidays, trimmed the edges, ironed it on the lowest possible heat, and reused it. I hear it also makes great book covers for text books.

Thanks to Amanda Pratt of Rumpke for the facts!

Can I recycle a pizza box?

Have you ever wondered what you can and can’t recycle? Some things are obvious like bottles and cans, but there are a few grey areas that we all wonder about.

In the Greater Cincinnati area, Rumpke provides residential and commercial recycling services. We recently had the chance to speak with Amanda Pratt, corporate communication manager with Rumpke Consolidated Companies. With input from Amanda and tips from, Live Green Cincinnati is able to shine some light on those local recycling grey areas.

Question: Can I recycle a pizza box?

Answer: No. Pizza boxes cannot be recycled because the grease contaminates the cardboard making it unusable in the manufacturing process. Unfortunately you need to direct your pizza boxes to the garbage can. Better yet, take the box out of the equation and eat in at a restaurant for your next pizza craving.

Stay tuned for more recycling tips over the next few days!

Paperless meetings save resources

Many companies are envouraging virtual meetings via teleconference and videoconference to save the costs of traveling.  One side effect of more virtual meetings is saved paper.  If the meeting attendees are scattered across different locations, an electronic copy of the agenda and presentation works much better than mailed, printed copies.

Paperless meetings can also be a benefit to face-to-face meetings.  Look at this example of the Hamilton County Commissioners going paperless for meetings and saving both a pile of trees, the time of copying the documents, and a decent amount of money.

Planning a workshop or seminar?  Consider saving all the agendas and presentations and supporting documents for the meetings to a USB memory stick.  Have the memory stick imprinted with your company’s logo and you’ve got an instant paperless workshop or tradeshow giveaway.

Start recycling at work

The office is a hot bed of opportunity for reducing your environmental footprint. Did you know that the average office worker uses 120-150 pounds of recyclable office paper each year?  Although the heads of many companies have made environmental promises about the company’s performance, it’s up to the employees and you and I to make good on the green office.

Starting the office green team
Perhaps your office already has a dedicated “green team” who are creating programs and communication for a more environmentally friendly office life. If not, congratulations, you’ve just nominated yourself to get it started! Remember to communicate with the boss or office manager so that they can fully support your efforts with their authority.

Where to start greening?
The first thing I would recommend to anyone looking to green their office is to assess your waste. Do you use a lot of paper? Create loads of empty cardboard boxes? What are the places that a change in your office can make the biggest impact?

Need any help?
The next thing I would recommend is to contact Hamilton County to participate in their Recycling At Work program. The county will visit your office for free and provide:

  • A customized recycling plan
  • Coordination of recycling services with your waste hauler
  • Education about recycling or a kick-off event for your employees
  • Financial assistance, if necessary
  • A decal advertising that your business recycles

Communicate and celebrate
Once you’ve figures out how to get started, fully involve your coworkers.  Once your own the work of a green office plan together, you can also own the success of your green office plan.  You may even be able to save money for the company by reducing the amount of waste you have hauled away each month.

Stay inspired
To stay informed and inspired, get involved.  Join the Hamilton County Go Green Challenge, attend a Green Drinks Event, get networked through our LinkedIn group, and come back to Live Green Cincinnati often for more ideas and news that will keep your progress going strong.

Artful aluminum can reuse

A few weeks ago at Covington’s Maifest, we discovered a retired engineer who had turned recycling into an art form. Shao Lin and Sompit Xia at The Can Do Planes booth transformed used aluminum cans into model airplanes, cars, boats, animals, and so much more.

It’s a pretty incredible idea for material reuse. Making a toy or gift is a great way to reduce the consumption of always buying newly made products. Do you have a crafty reuse idea to share? If so, contact us!

Slugging out traffic congestion in the city

Traffic congestion got you down? Why not slug it out? Slugging is a phenomenon already popular in nightmare traffic cities like Washington D.C. Never heard of it? Neither had I until I watched the G Word on the Planet Green TV channel and read an article on NPR about it in the same week.

Basically slugging is car-pooling with strangers. People form lines at popular bus stations between 5-8am and 3-6pm. The drivers pull up, call out where they’re going, and pick-up passengers going their way. Why do it? In seriously congested cities like D.C., there is a HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lane that moves 2-4 times faster than the general interstate traffic. A driver who picks up a slug or two at the bus station can make it to work in 30 minutes instead of 90. A slug who scores a ride makes as good or better time than the bus and rides for free. People are motivated by saving time and money, but little do they all know that they are keeping cars off the road and working to save the environment.

There are some interesting social rules for slugging, like when to talk and what to discuss. I’m sure the drivers take a gamble on what kind of Cracker Jack Prize they pick up, but in the history of slugging, there have been no reports of trouble or crime.

Recently, the Cincinnati metro ranked 33rd for metro traffic congestion, with southbound I-75 at Freeman Ave making the list as the worst traffic problem in Ohio. Cincinnati has experimented with allowing bus traffic only on the highway shoulder during rush hour, maybe it’s time to discuss an HOV lane on the most congested interstates around the city. The Park and Ride stops would make excellent slugging points. The Enquirer reported this week that local Ride Share and public transit ridership are up and that the bus transit system is looking to expand with partnerships. The stars are aligning. There’s no need to drive alone when you can carpool, ride share, take mass transit, or try slugging!

Flexible schedules save gas

It’s easy math to discern that driving to work 4 days a week instead of 5 will conserve fuel and save you a few bucks. It can be a lot harder trying to justify a change in work schedule with your manager…unless your employer is environmentally-conscious enough to offer you the opportunity or even an incentive to drive less.

Recently, UC announced that they are allowing full-time employees to work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days during the summer quarter in order to reduce the University’s impact on the environment. The flexible summer hours pilot project should reduce vehicle emissions and fuel consumption for commuting by 20%.

Could this be one of those business win-win situations? Save on facility costs by sending everyone home on a Friday and increase your retention rates by giving your employees a flexible work schedule option.

Other companies have offered subsidized bus passes for employees taking public transportation or preferential parking for car-poolers. Technology based companies in the area equip employees with a laptop so that they can work in a home office or co-locate all their interns or out of town visitors in one location so that they can use a shuttle bus to get to the office.

It’s smart to reward people for doing the right thing for the business and the right thing for the planet. Does your place of employment offer any environmentally-considerate employee perks?

Save money at the grocer with your own bags

The paper versus plastic debate can be superseded when you utilize a reusable bag. Using small “stuffable” tote bags like the ChicoBag and Envirosax (both available at Park+Vine) makes it easier - just stuff one in your purse, bike bag, backpack, briefcase, or glove compartment so you’ll have it when you need it.

I gave my mom two spring colored ChicoBags for mothers’ day in May. A week after, she called me to share a story of her first public ChicoBag experience. With the clever little carabiner that is attached to the ChicoBag, she could clip them to her purse so she’d have them at the ready. After work she made a stop at the drug store to get a few of the things on her shopping list. When she made it to the checkout line, she told the cashier that she didn’t need a bag and proceeded to baffle and amaze both the cashier and everyone in line by unclipping, unstuffing, and right-side-outing her reusable shopping bag like magic. After a stalled pause and an awkward silence she added, “my daughter tells me that I need to reduce my environmental footprint.” Interestingly enough, that stirred nods of understanding from the cashier and the other moms in the checkout line. So the experience was memorable, but not traumatic. Happily for me, she enjoys saving a bag and will continue to use it.

Similarly, I remembered to bring a sackful of reusable bags to the grocery this week. I expected the mixture of bags from my gift with a subscription to Martha Stewart magazine, a Star Wars convention, a small corner store in Montreal, and a few other random places to be received with confusion. Not so!

To my surprise, the cashier at Kroger not only knew to use my bags without asking, she also immediately credited 5 cents per bag to my bill. I saved 30 cents from my food purchase and six bags worth of trees or petroleum. Not bad for one visit.

It just goes to show that local stores are getting used to people bringing their own bag. Two years ago when I brought my own bag to a store, it felt a lot less comfortable to use them and in some instances caused a few stares. Now at some places like Findlay Market, you hardly see anyone accepting a disposable plastic shopping bag from a vendor. Change is happening because of us, keep up the good work!