Can Post-Consumer Recycled Products Save the Songbirds?

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Many terms get thrown around in the field of sustainability, with some carrying more weight than others. Amid all the terminology floating about, “post-consumer recycled” is truly one worth knowing — and understanding.

In simple terms, post-consumer recycled (PCR) refers to the portion of reused material that might be part of a product’s total material composition. It’s the recycled portion of a product that’s derived from material collected by the consumer after the product from which the recovered material came was used for its intended purpose.

That’s a rather dry explanation, though — what it can even more succinctly be defined as is the key to saving life on earth as we know it. From the songbirds above our heads that croon a tune to the snails below our feet that inch along, the world’s creatures are relying on us to conserve resources.

Creating a Future

The percentage of PCR material used in the manufacturing of a new product generally determines the level of environmental responsibility awarded a product (or the manufacturer of the product) by consumers, a third-party certification organization, the manufacturing industry, or any of the numerous environmental groups that grant awards for the level of environmental responsibility of a product or process. The higher the percentage, the more eco-friendly the product.

All PCR content has a past — and, fortunately, a better future than what it could have been destined for. Instead of being hauled to a landfill in a socioeconomically depressed area (that’s where landfills are always located, after all) where it would burden the ground with yet more trash, it skips the waste stream. Instead of being burned in a waste-to-energy facility, where it would likely produce adverse effects on human health, such as noxious emissions, it escapes being released into the air in the form of something toxic.

Instead, it finds new life as everything from children’s toys to facial tissues — which is much more productive than being buried or burned, I’d say.

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How Does It Work?

Let’s say you buy a gallon of milk and drink it. You place the empty plastic jug (#2 HDPE, otherwise known as high-density polyethylene) into the blue bin. The jug gets picked up and returned to a recycling center. It goes from there, with thousands of other jugs, to a plastics processor that supplies post-consumer recycled plastic stock to manufacturers. The bales of #2 HDPE plastic, including your empty jug — along with all your neighbors’ empty jugs — re-enters the economic marketplace as feedstock to make a perfectly new, safe, nontoxic, and environmentally responsible children’s toy. How’s that for teamwork with the family down the street? And you didn’t even have to call a neighborhood meeting to do it.

Here’s another example: This time, you buy a ream of paper and use it to make copies of garage sale flyers, while your partner prints a presentation for work and your kids create artwork masterpieces destined for the gallery of your kitchen fridge. Once the papers are no longer needed, you place them into a recycling bin. The paper gets picked up and returned to a recycling center. It goes from there, with millions of other sheets of previously printed paper, to a paper processor that supplies post-consumer recycled paper stock to paper products manufacturers. The bales of paper, including your paper — again, along with all your neighbors’ contributions — re-enters the economic marketplace as feedstock to make perfectly new, safe, nontoxic, and environmentally responsible copy and printer paper (and yes, it’s just as nice-looking as the non-recycled stuff — I bet you can’t even tell the difference).

confused-personPre vs. Post

PCR sounds pretty great, right? And it is. Keep in mind, though, that the process only works when consumers both recycle everything they can, and then buy the products with PCR content. If you reward manufacturers who institute earth-friendly practices, your loyalty — and your dollars — say a lot.

However, it can be confusing at times when you’re staring at products on the shelf and trying to decide which one is best. Pre-consumer recycled products are also labeled recycled, although it’s not quite the same thing. These products incorporate manufacturer waste, like the leftover scraps and by-products that never made it to market for whatever reason, as opposed to items that did find their way into the hands of consumers and went through the recycling process. Anything recycled is better than anything not recycled, mind you, but post-consumer recycled beats out pre-consumer recycled in positive earth impact — so look a little closer at labels to be sure that’s what you’re getting whenever possible.

There’s Much at Stake

Recycling saves massive amounts of energy, conserves huge volumes of water, eliminates the use of chemicals, and saves precious natural resources, like trees, air, and water. As I mentioned before, though, recycling isn’t enough — you have to go that extra step and purchase the recycled products to really make a difference.

We’re a very interconnected population of creatures who, without each other, cannot continue to exist. As we destroy our forests, we destroy the homes of beautiful songbirds. When the songbirds die off, we see an increase in the number of insects. Songbirds eat insects, and without songbirds, we’ll only use man’s way of dealing with insects — bringing out chemicals that are toxic to us and many other creatures. We then see a rise in the occurrence of disease, cancers, and numerous other health disorders.

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As we preserve our natural world by reducing, reusing, and buying products made from recycled materials, we allow the planet to regenerate itself. With 7 billion of us now inhabiting the earth, and that number projected to expand to 9-plus billion in the next 50 years, we’re over-burdening this world’s capacity to renew itself. We’re endangering the opportunity to live a bountiful and thriving existence — for us, for the songbirds, for everything else.

Buying PCR content products is only one small action we can all take, yet it is one big step in the right direction.

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What is a Carbon Footprint?

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Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds we produce as individuals, groups, etc., due to consumption of fossil fuels. The greater your carbon footprint is the more affect you have on our planet.

Carbon dioxide is released when we burn carbon based fuels such as:

  • Petrol and diesel- from our cars
  • Gas, oil and coal- from our homes and power plants
  • Jet fuel- from airplanes

How long is Carbon dioxides lifetime?

Carbon dioxide is not destroyed over time, instead it moves amount different parts of the ocean, atmosphere and land system. Some excess carbon dioxide will be absorbed by the ocean surface but some will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years because the process by which carbon is transferred to ocean sediments is very slow.

Watch this 2 minute video explaining carbon footprint.

Why is it important to be aware of your carbon footprint?

We all indirectly and directly impact our environment. A direct impact can be your day-to-day transportation and use of electricity in your home. While an indirect impact can be how far did the fruit you bought at the grocery store travel before it was consumed.

It’s great to know just how much a simple choice in your daily life can impact our planet. The more you know the more you can grow.

How can we reduce our personal carbon footprint?

  • Opt for riding your bike or walking when possible
  • Reduce the amount of trash you use
  • Recycle anything that can be recycled
  • Use renewable energy sources
  • Conserve electricity and heating
  • Use energy efficient appliances, Energy Star appliances
  • Conserve water; shorter showers!
  • Buy locally made products
  • Vacation closer to home
  • Proper insulation for your home
  • Plant trees!

Carbon Footprint Calculators

The Nature Conservancy’s -estimates how many tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases your choices create each year.

EPA Waste Reduction Model (WARM)- helps solid waste planners and organizations track and voluntarily report greenhouse gas emissions reductions and energy savings from several different waste management practices.

EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator-This calculator may be useful in communicating your greenhouse gas reduction strategy, reduction targets, or other initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

My Footprint-estimates the amount of land and ocean area required to sustain your consumption patterns and absorb your wastes on an annual basis.

Paper Calculator- premier tool for measuring the environmental impacts of paper and discovering the best paper choices

 

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For Earth Day: 5 Tips To Green Up Your Office

Two weeks ago we did a blog post on how to green up your home and today I’m going to give you some tips on how to green up your personal office. A lot of the household green tips can transfer over to greening up your office as well.

One step at a time is always the best approach when changing what you typically purchase to something more environmentally friendly.

Usually purchasing greener products like ‘Energy Star’ products are a great way to save money and energy but if you’re not able to purchase new electronics, keeping your old ones is okay too.  All you have to do is change some small habits, like if you leave your computer on at night in your office then shut it down.

1.)    Power Strips

If possible buy a power strip, connect all your electronics in your office to the power strip and just switch it off when you are heading out for the day and switch it back on in the morning.

2.)    Recycle

Buy a small recycling bin, if you don’t already have one, for your personal office and recycle everything that can be recycled!

3.)    Paperless

In certain jobs I’s simply impossible to go completely paperless, especially if your job requires you to constantly print things out. What you can do is switch out what you typically purchase and buy post-consumer recycled paper, its way better for the environment!

Also opt for printing on both the front and back or using the non-printed side for notes, etc.

4.)    Remanufactured Ink and Toner Cartridges

If you are in charge of purchasing office supplies, consider buying remanufactured ink and toner cartridges.  All newly manufactured toner and ink cartridges require about 1 pint of oil for production, estimated that 900 million ink cartridges and 500 million toner cartridges are made each year, that’s a lot of oil!

Don’t forget to recycle your ink and toner cartridges! Dolphin Blue offers free pre-paid shipping labels for empty Inkjet & Toner Cartridges. We do not accept toner tubes or toner bottles.

5.)    Plants!

Literally green up your office by putting plants on your desk or some place near you where you can see it. They can improve your air quality and increase your work productivity.

Check out this list of great indoor plants, although majority of them are rather big, you can probably find a smaller version of the plant at your local nursery.

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For Earth Day: 15 EASY household changes that do make a REAL difference

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Want to help save the environment, but don’t know where to start? What better place than in your home! You think one person can’t make a difference? Wrong! If one person recycles just one aluminum can, that one can saves enough energy to run your television for three hours, so now imagine if instead of one person we all recycled? A few changes can go a long way. Here are 15 easy household changes that can and will make a difference for our environment.

1.) Say no to plastic bags

Ditch plastic bags and opt for reusable bags when grocery shopping. Over 1 trillion plastic bags are used every year worldwide and 10% of those plastic bags usually end up in the ocean. If you can’t part ways with your plastic grocery bags then recycle!

2.) Unplug all appliances when not in use

Unplug all items that have a light on even when you have turned the item off, not only will you save energy but you’ll save money too.

Don’t forget to search online for “vampire appliance’s” to know which of your appliances suck up energy while you’re away or asleep.

3.) Buy local groceries when possible

In case you didn’t know, majority of the food in grocery stores come from faraway places, some travel up to 1,500 miles! Transporting these products sold in grocery stores burn up a lot of fossil fuels which then result to pollution.

So buy locally! Not only are you helping your local farmers but you are also getting the freshest food possible.

4.) Look for products that contain post-consumer material

What is a Post-consumer recycled product? It is a product made of materials such as paper or glass that were recycled after being used and where kept out of landfills.

Look for items that have high post-consumer material in them, the bigger the number the better it is for the environment. Nowadays you can buy from post-consumer toys to post-consumer toilet paper.

5.) Change your light bulbs to energy efficient.

Replace your incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs, they convert most of the energy they use into light rather than heat. Compact fluorescent bulbs consume about 75% less electricity and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent light bulbs.

6.) Turn off the lights when not in use.

Save yourself some money and just turn off the lights. During the day just open up the curtains and let that good old sunshine illuminate your home.

7.) Recycle everything you can

The typical categories of things you can recycle are; Metals, Paper, Cardboard, Glass, Plastics, Batteries, Bulbs and Electronics. It is best to check with your city for certain items you are not sure about. Styrofoam can be recycled but you must check if your city is currently accepting Styrofoam and if not go online and find a place that you can drop it off or send it to for recycling. You can also go to Earth911 to find locations that can take specific electronics, metals, batteries, etc.

Here is a list of things you can recycle

8.) Use Eco-friendly cleaners (save the water from toxic chemicals)

When we use harsh chemicals to clean up our homes we don’t realize we are polluting our soil and water, which can harm many animals and plants, we are also risking our own health by bringing in some pretty nasty toxic chemicals into our homes. Choose green, biodegradable, non-toxic cleaners or make up your own vinegar, water and baking soda formula.

9.) Cut up plastic soda can rings before throwing them out

It might seem tedious but cutting up those plastic soda can rings helps prevent any animals from getting stuck in them.

10.) Turn your computer / laptops off at night

Even in sleep mode your computer is still sucking up energy. Save all your material and turn off that computer!

11.) Hang dry your clothes (makes your clothes last longer as well)

Dryers consume more than 6% of your total household electricity usage, which can add up to $100 every year! Each dryer emits an excess of one ton of carbon dioxide per year!

So hang out your clothes to dry, it’s better for your clothes, cheaper for you and better for the environment.

12.) Lose the plastic bottle – use reusable water bottles instead.

Buy reusable water bottles instead of plastic water bottles. Last year, Americans used about 50 billion water bottles but only recycled about 23%, which means 38 billion water bottles are thrown away and end up in landfills each year.

13.) Adjust your thermostat by one degree (in summer & in winter)

By keeping your thermostat 68 degrees or below during the winter and 78 degrees during the warm summer you’ll save energy and money. For every degree below 68 degrees and above 78 degrees you are saving 3%-5% off your energy bill!

14.) Pay bills online

Save paper and time by paying your bills online. A lot of companies encourage their customers to go paperless and pay online by making it fast and easy on their websites.

15.) End bank statements

An environmentally friendly alternative is to opt for online bank statements. A lot of banks usually suggest you go paperless when you first start an account but if you decide not to in the beginning they also inform you, if you change your mind in the future, how to change the settings online so you can solely receive your statements online.

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Neptune’s Harvest- Gardening Video

Other useful uses for the seaweed & fish fertilizer.

Use seaweed fertilizer for:
Early frost
Fungus on plants:
Transplant shock / plant shock (results visible within 12 – 24hrs)

Use fish fertilizer for:
On plants that are more acidic where the seaweed/fish blend would not contain enough nutrition.

For more information: http://www.neptunesharvest.com/video.html

If you’re interested in purchasing Neptune’s Harvest Fertilizers visit our site.

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