Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Environmental impact of tap water vs. bottled water

The Orgeon Department of Environmental Quality has released an interesting new report:

"DEQ has completed a study that compares a wide range of environmental impacts (including greenhouse gas emissions) of drinking water from the tap, 5-gallon reusables, and single-use bottles. It compares the environmental impacts of tap water (“reduce”) against the impacts of bottled water (“recycle” and “dispose”). The study confirms that while recycling bottles is environmentally preferable to disposing of them, buying bottled water and recycling the bottles is not the best environmental choice. Drinking water from the tap (waste prevention) typically has substantially lower impacts in most categories of environmental impact."

Their press release sums up their findings:

"Analysis of delivering drinking water shows that tap water is a far better environmental choice than recycling single-use bottles
A study commissioned by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to assess drinking water delivery systems helps bolster the principle that “reducing first, then recycling” is the best environmental path to follow."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Going green for the holidays

It's easier than you might think. The staff at SCARCE offer these suggestions for going green for the holidays.

The holidays can be such a crazy time of year with everyone running to and fro trying to find the perfect "everything" for the people they care about. It is the perfect time to remember to care about the environment as well.

Here are some simple tips to give a thoughtful gift and reduce your impact on the environment - every little bit makes a difference:
  • If you must have a real tree, make it a live one that can be re-planted when you are finished.
  • Bring your own reusable bags as you do your shopping - it saves oil.
  • If you need new Christmas lights, buy LED bulbs - they are safer because they stay cool and use far less energy!
  • Use Alternative Forms of Wrapping Paper (i.e.: reusable bags, the comics, a pretty scarf, a tea/bath/kitchen towel that can be part of the gift, creative wraps) Regular wrapping paper is NOT recyclable.
  • Use last year's Christmas cards as Gift Tags
  • Try to buy gifts with as little packaging as possible - packaging is just wasted natural resources
  • Avoid using paper/Styrofoam plates - reusable dinnerware or bio-degradable/compostable plates (if you have a compost pile) are best
Consider giving a gift that keeps the spirit of the season all year - in someone else's name:
  • donate to a charity (SCARCE is a good charity!)
  • adopt an animal at the zoo
  • plant a tree(s)

Give a gift with an Environmental Purpose that they will really use:
  • Eco-friendly clothing/accessories made from sustainable or re-purposed materials
  • funky, cool reusable bags & totes
  • Reusable, BPA-free water bottles (stainless steel & aluminum are best)
  • Low flow shower head
  • CFLs or LED light bulbs
  • Shower/water filters which remove harmful substances
  • buy items coming from fair trade sources who offer fair wages to third world countries & include a little tag explaining
For other eco-friendly gift ideas, check out the SCARCE Green Product Guide

Monday, November 30, 2009

Recycle your Christmas lights

Don't want to throw your old incandescent lights in the trash? Send them to Holidayleds.com and they will recycle them for you and send you a coupon for 15% off.

The program will conclude at the end of February 2010.

From their website:

What do we do with the lights?

When we receive your lights for recycling we will remove them from the package and recycle the box. The lights will be processed and any material that cannot be recycled (i.e. loose bulbs)is discarded. Once we have collected a substantial number of sets we take them to a 3rd party recycling facility located in Jackson, MI. The recycling company puts the lights through a commercial shredder, which chops the lights up into little pieces. The pieces are then further processed and sorted into the various components that make up the lights (pvc, glass, copper.) The materials are separated and transported to a region center for further processing. In some cases, the pvc cannot be recycled.

Why should I participate in the program?

Its better than throwing them in the trash and if you participate we will email you a coupon for 15% off anything on our site.

Where should I send my lights for recycling?

Attn: Recycling Program
118 Rosehill Dr.
Suite 1
Jackson, MI 49202

What should information should I include?

The name and email address (clearly printed) of the participant. All coupons will be emailed so we must have an email address.

How should I package the lights?

Please DO NOT:

1. Include any packing material or anything other than the lights themselves

2. Send the lights in outer packaging such as retail boxes

3. Include any apparatus used to wind up or store the lights

4. Use any size box that is larger than what is needed to accommodate the lights.

5. Put your light sets in plastic bags or any other interior packaging.

Please DO:

1. Use cardboard boxes or other packaging that can easily be recycled.

2. Coordinate with your friends, neighbors, co-works, social groups, church groups, or other organizations when possible to collect lights and send in one bulk shipment (this reduces shipping costs for everyone and reduces environmental impact of shipping.)

3. Compact your light sets into the smallest space possible.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Confused about which products really are best for the environment? Cut through the hype at GreenerChoices.org.

This website is published by Consumers Union, publishers of Consumer Reports. They aim to: "address the lack of credible, in-depth information on green products, services, and lifestyles, especially on the Web."

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Dart Container Corporation
315 Evergreen Drive, North Aurora
(south of I-88 and west of Rt. 31)

24 hour drop off - bins are outside

Do you hate seeing Styrofoam coffee cups going to landfills? What about your foam packaging around the new laptop you just bought? Most residential curbside recycling programs do not allow #6 polystyrene, so now you can recycle foam at Dart Container Corp in North Aurora. This recycling plant now has a new machine that grinds the foam into small pieces and compresses it into a 20 pound block. The recycled plastic foam is used to make sun visors, rulers, egg cartons, lumber and other products.

Be aware of the following guidelines before dropping off # 6 polystyrene:
1. items must be relatively clean, so wipe clean your foam food packaging
2. separate packaging foam from food-service foam - there are different bins for each
3. only drop off food-service or packaging foam - no fire-retardant insulation or roofing materials
4. no packaging peanuts
5. to recycle foam, you must drop off to this location in Aurora -- it is not a part of your home/residential curbside services