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Sustainability Tip: Recycle properly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Did you know that if we properly recycled 28% of our waste stream in Colorado, the effect would be equivalent to removing about 485,000 cars from the road annually? That’s according to the Colorado Public Interest Research Group’s State of Recycling report. While recycling can be confusing, it’s one of the most practical, impactful and useful solutions to tackling our climate crisis.   Recycling is all about markets, so the recyclability of a material depends on its market value and how and what it can be re-manufactured into. Those markets dictate what you can put in your curbside recycling, our community drop sites and bins at work. That means recycling, just like product values, can change and fluctuate.   More and more companies are creating closed loops for their products by using their own recyclable materials to make new products, becoming a part of the solution rather than contributing to our recycling challenges. Companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi are making developments so their bottles are not only recyclable but made from recycled material as well.   In general, it is much less resource-intensive to make a product from recycled materials than to use “virgin” materials. For example, the Aluminum Association’s research states that making an aluminum can from recycled aluminum uses about 90% less energy than making a can from scratch. Furthermore, any aluminum can you purchase is likely to have already been recycled: 75% of all aluminum ever produced is still in use today.   There are lots of other markets and stakeholders at play beyond our local recycling collection too. For example, some hard-to-recycle materials that we can’t put in our curbside bins can be processed through companies like TerraCycle. Regardless of how deep you dive into recycling markets, it is important to be mindful of the impact you can make by purchasing thoughtfully and recycling right.   Here are some tips to get started.   1.    Plastic bags and other plastic films can be recycled at the Avon Walmart among other locations. Learn more at PlasticFilmRecycling.org.   2.    For a list of hard-to-recycle products that you can ship for free through TerraCycle, visit TerraCycle.com/en-US/brigades#.   3.    Be careful of common recycling mistakes. Not all plastics are recyclable. Plastic bags, plastic utensils and paper plates with a plastic film/coasting cannot be recycled in curbside bins or community drop sites. Avoid purchasing these items whenever possible, and opt instead for materials that can be diverted from landfills.   4.    Reducing waste is even better than recycling or composting. Use reusable cups, plates, bowls, bags and utensils whenever possible. While many events in the Eagle Valley require vendors to provide consumers with compostable products, using reusable items has even less of an impact on the environment.   5. If you’re ever unsure if a material is recyclable locally, check on the Eagle County Waste Wizard app. You can search products, learn what goes where based on your hauler and recycle right.   Jake Watroba was a summer sustainability intern at Walking Mountains Science Center. For more information, contact Nina Waysdorf at ninaw@walkingmountains.org.

Nestle's Gerber and TerraCycle partner for recycling programme

Nestlé-owned Gerber has joined forces with TerraCycle to help give hard-to-recycle baby food packaging a new life.   As part of a new programme in the US, consumers can mail Gerber packaging that is not municipally recyclable using a prepaid shipping label.   Once collected, the packaging is cleaned and melted into hard plastic that can be remoulded to make new products.   “Through this free recycling programme, Gerber is offering parents an easy way to divert waste from landfills by providing a responsible way to dispose of certain hard-to-recycle baby food packaging,” said TerraCycle CEO and founder, Tom Szaky.   “By collecting and recycling these items, families can demonstrate their respect for the environment not only through the products that they choose for their children, but also with how they dispose of the packaging.”   Gerber, which was acquired by Nestlé in 2007, produces a range of infant formula, baby food, cereal, snacks and supplements. The unit aims to achieve 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025.   “We’re thrilled to partner with TerraCycle as part of our broader sustainable packaging efforts,” said Gerber CEO, Bill Partyka.   “We know every parent’s top priority is to ensure a healthy, happy future for their baby. Our commitment to sustainability is rooted in giving parents a hand in making their baby’s future that much brighter.”   Operating across 21 countries, TerraCycle partners with consumer product companies, retailers and cities to recycle products and packages that would otherwise end up being landfilled or incinerated.

2019 Granite Gear Grounds Keepers Remove 4,680 Pounds Of Trash From Wild Places

Trash talk. For a Granite Gear Grounds Keeper, it happens regularly. This team of 30 Grounds Keepers, alongside Granite Gear’s local Two Harbors Team, is on a serious mission to clean up the planet. This year, Granite Gear expanded its program to include the cleaning up of waterways and lakes in addition to trails and parks. Alongside sponsors Klean KanteenBackpacker’s BistroRecover BrandAltra Running, and Kula Cloth, Granite Gear supported 30 passionate hikers and paddlers who committed to cleaning up our wild places in 2019. The 3rd class of Grounds Keepers removed over 4,680 pounds of trash from our country’s trails, parks and waterways. Since 2017, Grounds Keepers members have removed over 9,670 pounds (and counting) of trash from our public lands. A large portion of the trash picked up has been micro trash like bottle caps and wrappers.   “Being a part of the Granite Gear Grounds Keepers 2019 has impacted my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined,” says Perry Cohen, Founder of Venture Out Project. “From the most simple things like giving me a reason to get outside and hit the trails on rainy days when I might prefer to lounge about inside, to noticing just how much micro trash there is – especially near trailheads, to seeing just how much toilet paper is left in our natural spaces. But perhaps the thing that impacted me most about being a Grounds Keeper was the way that it helped me see that natural spaces are so much more than just trails on big mountains. I learned to find trails within cities and neighborhoods. I learned just how much green is in a park. And I met so many people who, though they didn’t consider themselves outdoorsy, would go outside each and every day for a walk in a green space.”   Perry continues, “I met people along the trail who’d ask what I was doing, who’d offer to help pick up trash, or take a photo of me. I found that by stopping on a trail to pick up a stray wrapper or bag of dog poop, I made the trash visible to others. I noticed they would stop and pick up micro trash. It seemed as though seeing someone else caring for the trails made people take pause and think about their own impact, even if it was only for a second.”   A sincere thank you goes out to the inspirational 2019 Grounds Keepers team who worked tirelessly to clean up our wild spaces and to promote the “leave it better” mission: Gabriella Allen, Tim Barton, Jason Batson, Marissa Bluestein, Austin Breen, Ethan Brown, Perry Cohen of Venture Out Project, Tyler Davidson, Kate Emmons, Alexa Everson, Britany Freeman of 11 Essential, Patrick Ganpath, Christina Hickman, Josh Johnson, Michelle Martin, Katie Martinez, Chris Mejia, Lance Ness, Aaron Oschea of Midwest Color Camp, Zach Rohe, Deirdre Rosenberg, Sunshine State Seekers Chelsey Warren and Chris Stevens, Jen Theisen, Patrick Thoits, Agnes Vianzon of Eastern Sierra Conservation Corps, Quang Vo, Doug Walters, Alex Wehrle, Thea Wingert. To our Two Harbors Team: Julie Hukriede, Derrick & Cheryl Passe, Rachel Batt, Heidi Dean, Carrie Coan, Alyssa Hastings, Erin Mecklin, Eli Hastings. #GroundsKeeper4Life   The application for the 2020 program is currently live and will close on November 15th. In 2020, Granite Gear introduces the Grounds Keepers “Legacy Team” including ten previous year’s rockstars, alongside twenty new team members. Sponsors include Klean KanteenFood for the SoleRecover BrandUCOTerraCycle and Kula Cloth. New for 2020, Grounds Keepers will be encouraged to recycle their collected waste streams via TerraCycle’s services. TerraCycle supports the Grounds Keeper passions, goals and mission fully and looks forward to being a resource for Leave No Trace practices.   Visit www.thegroundskeepers.org to learn more about the program and follow along at #TheGroundsKeepers and the Grounds Keepers Instagram. Granite Gear (@GraniteGear) and all brand partners share stories from Grounds Keepers often. For more information on the Grounds Keepers program or sponsors, please email Julie Bacon at jbacon@granitegear.com.  

13 products that will help you switch to a plastic-free life

In this day and age, many of us are hoping to adopt a minimalist lifestyle by owning less and, therefore, producing less waste. For many, the single biggest waste category is single-use plastic products. Although some are safe to use, a number of plastic products are actually extremely harmful to the environment—and ultimately, to our health when they break down into microplastic particles.         cid:image001.png@01D57906.6741D530 At first, I was anxious about the thought of going plastic-free—as someone who keeps her schedule tight, I didn’t have the confidence that I could always remember to bring a reusable cup or a glass straw with me at all times. But with some creativity and reliable products, making the switch was easier than I thought. Here’s what I used.

1. A set of reusable stretch lids to replace cling wraps 

cid:image002.png@01D57906.6741D530 I have to admit I’ve long used a ton of cling wrap because of its convenience. But when I came to the realization that those cling wraps are terrible for the environment, I felt guilty. Thankfully, I found these reusable silicone stretch lids that can seal my cans and jars air-tight. To reuse, just rinse them under water. There are six sizes to choose from, which covers almost all typical household needs, from proofing bread dough overnight to keeping leftovers separated from other foods in the fridge.

2. Our favorite reusable straws that you’ll never forget to bring along

Our favorite reusable straws, the Hummingbird, ranked top in our tests. Our favorite reusable straws, the Hummingbird glass straws are great alternatives to the single-serve plastic straws that are typically offered at restaurants. Although eco-conscious coffee shops are replacing plastic straws with paper ones, they still have an impact on  the environment and they easily break in half. The Hummingbird straw is lightweight and easy-to-wash, which means I can carry it anywhere.

3. A reusable sandwich bag that also holds snacks on the go 

The lunchskins sandwich bags are a great alternative to Ziplocs. A classic PB&J sandwich sitting in one of those single-use Ziploc bags just seems sadder than one wrapped in our favorite reusable sandwich bags. The Lunchskins have different patterns to choose from and they’re all absolutely adorable. This bag is the perfect size for packing sandwiches without the need to squish anything—no matter how thick your sandwich is. They’re dishwasher safe but also extremely easy to clean if you prefer hand-washing them. The Monbento lunch box is the only thing i bring to work for lunch. Packing lunch doesn’t have to mean a sad salad. Featuring a two-tiered design, this Monbento lunch box lets you bring a number of cold and hot dishes to work or school, making lunch more enjoyable. Plus, there are options to add a stackable cutlery set, sauce cups that fit in the boxes without taking up too much space, and cute lunch bags that make them easy to carry around. All materials in the Monbento boxes are biodegradable plastic or silicone. 5. Top-rated glass food storage containers for grocery shopping The Pyrex food storage containers are our favorite in the roundup. One of the biggest challenges to living plastic-free is dodging all the “plastic traps” at grocery stores. Meat-packaging, single-use produce bags, and all sorts of pantry items made me feel like achieving my plastic-free week would be mission-impossible. However, I found an easy solution when I started to bring my own containers instead of picking up pre-packaged cuts. The butcher will subtract the container tare to get to the gross weight of the meat, which is done on an electronic scale.   In our testing of the best food storage containers, we fell in love with these glassware containers that are perfect for keeping food safe and fresh. They’re not only a great alternative to the grocery store plastic packaging, but also perfect for meal-prepping.

6. An organic cotton mesh bag that’s better than store plastic bags

ThIS organic cotton mesh bag holds up to a few pounds of fruits and vegetables. Although an increasing number of stores have been switching to biodegradable plastic produce bags, I’ve found they’re way too flimsy to hold anything substantial. One time I put an ear of corn into a store-provided bag and the cob immediately fell through it. This organic cotton mesh bag can hold up to three pounds of fruits and vegetables, and its stretchy material makes sure that it can fit large items.

7. A produce bag that catches small items 

For produce that are smaller in size, these bags can help. While it’s easy to fit a butternut squash or three large tomatoes in a mesh bag, small vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts and green beans, can’t be securely held in cotton mesh bags. These reusable produce bags are lightweight, featuring tiny breathable mesh that allows some necessary airflow to prolong the lifespan of fresh produce.

8. Our favorite water bottle that helped me ditch single-use bottled water  

Our favorite water bottle, the Hydro Flask, keeps the water cool. If you’re hoping to break the bottled water habit, the Hydro Flask can help. Our favorite water bottle, the Hydro Flask scored high marks in a range of tests: It’s portable, versatile, durable, and well-designed. It’s the top performer in our temperature tests, too, keeping ice largely unmelted well past the 24-hour mark. Its patented double-wall vacuum enables the bottle to keep water cold, keep hot beverages hot, and prevents condensation from forming on the outside, keeping it slip-free, and safe to store in bags alongside papers and laptops.

9. A stainless steel travel mug to keep my drinks warm

For people who like their caffeinated drinks warm, the Zojirushi mug is perfect. Before I pledged to go plastic-free, I had been a loyal fan of our favorite travel mug, the Zojirushi stainless steel mug, because of its impeccable insulation and lightweight design. Whether I was on a long commute or I brought it on a hiking trip, this inexpensive mug kept my drinks at the desired temperature at all times. The trim build also allows it to seamlessly slip into cup holders and bags.

10. A set of mason jars to replace most household plastic uses

A set of mason jars can be versatile. Mason jars are a durable and reliable alternative to using Ziploc bags for storing dry pantry goods. Additionally, they’re so versatile that you can use them for canning, storing jam, and making desserts. Bring these mason jars on grocery shopping trips, and you’ll find the store employees happily helping you fill the jars with nuts and cereal.

11. Solid bar shampoo and conditioners that are full of organic ingredients

These solid bar shampoo and conditioner can keep your hair clean and smooth. I sometimes fail to notice how much plastic waste I produce outside of my kitchen. In fact, I never thought about the environmental impact I had caused by using bottled shampoo and conditioner. Using all organic, natural herbs, Aspen Kay Naturals is able to provide something more eco-friendly than the liquid version of haircare. Unlike the more common brands we’ve seen in stores, this shampoo is 100% soap-free, which means its gentle on the hair and scalp as no harsh cleaners, detergent, or silicone is included in the formula.

12. Beeswax wraps to keep produce fresh 

Bee's wax wraps are amazing for keeping produce fresh. To stop using plastic wraps for half-cut lemons, onions, and other produce, I started putting these hand-crafted beeswax wraps to the test. Even after multiple uses, the beeswax wraps excellently retained the freshness of the foods I wrapped in them. They’re also odor-free, which is better than their plastic counterparts.

13. Use composting bin instead of plastic trash bags 

Compost bins can help you reduce waste. Much of the produce we toss away each year ends up in landfills, which produce a large amount of the greenhouse gas  methane. To reduce the use of trash bags, I started composting the daily food scraps, finger nails, hair, and tissue paper, which are otherwise destined to non-recyclable waste. With a little research, I was able to properly compost my waste without creating an unpleasant smell or attracting small animals. Plus, if done right, I can use the compost to enrich my soil for growing fruits and vegetables in a few months.  

What should I do with the plastic I swapped out? 

  I started researching what to do with the plastic packaging I’ve just swapped out. TerraCycle, a free plastic recycling platform, offers instructions for every type of recycling work. The site lists a growing number of participating businesses that allows me to send the cleaned, recyclable packaging back, free of charge.   For example, if I accumulate a good amount of Barilla pasta packaging, I can sign up the Barilla program and get a free shipping label to return the emptied bags and boxes. Once they receive the packaging, I’ll get reward points that can be used toward donating to non-profit organizations or schools of my choice. If you don’t want to separate the packaging, TerraCycle offers Zero Waste Box (purchase required) to recycle almost any type of waste.  

My final takeaway    

  Admittedly, there were still areas that I could use some improvements while attempting to achieve a plastic-free life: I brushed my teeth with plastic toothbrush heads and used makeup remover wipes wrapped in plastic packaging. These instances serve as a reminder of how ubiquitous plastic products are in our daily lives, and how challenging it can be to cut them out completely. To live completely plastic-free may still be a long shot for me, but it’s no longer some far-fetched, unachievable idea.

Walmart ends car seat recycling program after 1 million collected

(CNN) - Walmart's new car seat recycling program was so successful, the event is ending early.   The company was offering a $30 gift card to anyone who brought in an old car seat as part of a recycling effort with TerraCycle to keep plastic out of landfills.   The event started Sept. 16 and was supposed to end Sept. 30, but the store ended the program after nearly 1 million car seats were collected, according to a statement it made to USA Today.   It also said that’s the equivalent of diverting 200 million plastic bottles from landfills.

Gillette & TerraCycle Launch Razor Recycling Program in Canada

Keeping your face or legs smooth is about to become a lot more guilt-free. Oh, you didn’t think twice when using your straight-razor about the effects on the planet? Seriously, we get it. You often think that because these things are made with metal, they’ll likely be recyclable, right?   Unfortunately, that is not the case. Razor Blades are problematic when it comes to recycling because they consist of multiple materials that are hard to separate, and it means that almost 2 billion get thrown away every year in the US alone. According to the EPA, it takes about 1000 years for these to degrade.   The solution to zero waste shaving is, don’t! However, unless you live in Bushwick or a hippie commune, never shaving again may not be a viable solution.
Thankfully, one of the largest razor blade companies has launched the beginning stages of a solution along with innovative waste management company, TerraCycle. The two companies have come together to announce that in Canada, replaceable-blade cartridge units and razor plastic packaging are recyclable on a national scale.   “Through this innovative, first of its kind program, disposable razors, replaceable-blade cartridge units and their associated packaging are now nationally recyclable through the Gillette Recycling Program,” said TerraCycle CEO and founder Tom Szaky. “We are proud to partner with this forward-thinking company to offer consumers a way to divert razor waste from landfills.”   The companies are offering two options for those who would like to dispose of their razor blades in an environmentally-friendly way. For those wishing to recycle razors from home, they're invited to sign up on the program page. When ready to ship their waste, they download a free TerraCycle shipping label, package the razors in a secure, puncture-proof package and send it to TerraCycle for recycling.
Another option brings the community into the fold. They've invited Businesses, gyms, colleges, cities, and community organizations to become public drop-off points for the Gillette Razor Recycling Program. Participants interested in becoming a drop-off point need only sign up on the program page. After acceptance to the program, they get sent an exclusive razor recycling bin developed by TerraCycle and Gillette.   Once full, they can seal and return the bin to TerraCycle via UPS, and a new one will come back to them. The address listed on the account is then publicly posted on an available map of local recycling solutions for the Gillette Razor Recycling Program page.   The move towards building out infrastructure to allow the community to be a part of the solution to recycling is a principle tenant of designing for a circular economy. Razors are a huge culprit when it comes to filling our landfills, and with the move towards programs that make it simple for people to recycle, the closer we are to solving the problem.

Lazy Life Hacks for Pulling Yourself Out of a Trash Spiral

Set Your Intentions “I think the big first step is simply being mindful about all the waste that we create on a daily basis,” says Sarah Paiji Yoo, cofounder & CEO of Blueland, a cleaning company that hopes to eliminate single-use plastic packaging. “That increased awareness has led me to seek and apply easy solutions across my daily life.” Yoo recommends taking stock of your disposal pain points and finding resources online, like Terracycle (a collection service that can recycle almost anything) and Catalog Choice (Finally! An easy way to stop all the junk mail), to make smart and sustainable choices about waste.