Choose to Reuse

Information to Help you Advocate Recycling

The Dirt on Composting March 31, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mckennalw @ 1:39 am

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 26 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream. This organic waste could be composted and reused. Below are a few facts to start composting:

What is compost?

Natural composting is biologic decomposition. Mature compost is the product of our organized efforts. According to the EPA mature compost “is a stable material with a content called humus that is dark brown or black and has a soil-like, earthy smell”.

How does composting occur?

There are 5 variables in composting.

1. Mix “browns” and “greens”:  Mature compost requires a proper mixing of your “greens” and “browns”. Organic matter such as grass clippings, food scraps, manure, etc compose the green category.  These items contain large amount of nitrogen. The brown category includes organic matter such as dry leaves, wood chips, branches, etc. These items contain large amounts of Carbon. Make it a work of art and include items from both categories. A proper mix of the “browns” and “greens” provides a balance of nutrients in the compost as well as a stabilized material.

2. Grind it up: Grinding compost increases the surface area that organisms can feed on. It also creates a more even material. Give your compost a leg up and your patience a second chance. Help in the decomposition process by crushing, grinding, chipping, etc.

3. Just Add Water: Composting is almost as simple as your favorite Campbell’s soup- just add water. Your organic material may be decaying, but your compost is still alive- at least the microorganisms that break down the compost are. They need water to survive. Water also helps transport nutrients within the pile and makes nutrients accessible to microbes. You don’t have to go overboard though, rain water may be sufficient. Keep your eye on the pile to see if it’s looking dry.

4. Let it Breathe: Oxygen is essential to the decomposition process. You can air your pile by turning it, placing it on a series of pipes, or mixing in wood chips or shredded newspaper (bulking agents). This also requires balance. Too much oxygen can dry out the pile.

5. Temperature: Balance in the previous four factors should result in the proper temperature for composting so this one will fall into place. The microorganisms in the composting material require a certain temperature range for optimal activity. Relatively high temperature also promote rapid rotting by destroying pathogens and weed seeds.

It’s easy to manage composting with an understanding of these 5 variables. Simply grind up your browns and greens, keep it hydrated, turn it around once or twice and you’ll have a fine batch of rot.

What can compost be used for?

According to the EPA, compost can be used for the following purposes:

  • Farmers use compost for enhancing crops and for sod farms.
  • Landscapers use compost as a soil amendment and for decorative purposes at properties, golf courses, and athletic fields.
  • Landfill operators use compost to cover landfills and carry out reclamation projects.
  • Nurseries use compost for enhancing plant and forest seedling crops in reforestation projects and to prevent certain plant diseases such as root rot.
  • Public agencies use compost for landscaping highway median strips, parks, recreational areas, and other public property and remediating contaminated or eroded sites.
  • Homeowners use mature compost to enrich gardens, improve the soil around trees and shrubs, use as soil additive for house plants and planter boxes and as a protective mulch for trees and shrubs.

What are the benefits of composting?

According to the EPA potential benefits include:

  • Suppress plant diseases and pests.
  • Reduce or eliminate the need for chemical fertilizers.
  • Promote higher yields of agricultural crops.
  • Facilitate reforestation, wetlands restoration, and habitat revitalization efforts by amending contaminated, compacted, and marginal soils.
  • Cost-effectively remediate soils contaminated by hazardous waste.
  • Provide cost savings of at least 50 percent over conventional soil, water, and air pollution remediation technologies, where applicable.

Composting is easy! It’s not hard to start and doesn’t take a lot of upkeep. Pile it up and let nature take its course. For more information and tips see the EPA website or HowtoCompost .org


Habitat for Humanity Goes Green!

Filed under: Uncategorized — mckennalw @ 12:32 am

Habitat for Humanity has started several initiatives to help Utah County choose to Reuse. Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in Orem accepts new and gently used building materials to sell at a reduced price. The proceeds go towards building homes for local, deserving families who are in need. ReStore accepts:

  • Toilets
  • Sinks
  • Doors & Windows
  • Furniture
  • Unused Flooring
  • Appliances
  • Paint
  • Light Fixtures
  • Hardware
  • Countertops
  • Cabinets
  • Bricks & Stone
  • Lumber

The ReStore also accepts aluminum. Aluminum cans, disposable pans, foil, etc. can be dropped off at the store or brought directly to Western Metals Recycling. Be sure to tell them your donation proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity if you drop it off directly. Proceeds go towards building homes in Utah County. You can also volunteer to collect cans throughout the community or set up recycling boxes.

Make the most of it and bring your paper waste to ReStore. ReStore will recycle newspaper, magazines, catalogues, junk mail, phone books, books, paper bags, cereal boxes, cardboard boxes, and white and colored office paper as well. The paper will be reprocessed and manufactured into insulation for residential and commercial purposes. The proceeds will again help build homes. It takes 13,500,000 pounds of paper to build a home. Help Habitat reach this goal!

Habitat for Humanity has made is a goal to become a recycling center in the community. Their example demonstrates how an organization can advocate recycling in the community and use it to supplement their efforts.


Recylcling efforts shift to “Zero-Waste” Mentality

Filed under: Uncategorized — mckennalw @ 12:02 am

The term recycling has adopted a much broader context. No longer are plastics bottles, aluminum cans and paper waste the target of recycling campaigns. “Zero-waste” is the new policy. This comprehensive approach to waste offers promising effects. Although it is idealistic, previous recycling campaigns have proved effective, but not enough. According to the Environmental Protection Agency Americans are dumping 4.6 pounds of trash a day. Within my apartment of 6 girls alone, that’s 27.6 pounds a day. According to these statistics our building of 12 apartments produces 2,318.4 pounds a week and 9,273.6 pounds a month. Change lies in a “zero-waste” mentality. Promoting zero tolerance of waste will push us to think beyond the blue bin and find ways to recycle, reduce our use of and reuse electronic waste, appliances, clothing, books, organic waste etc.

The challenge, however, is that “zero-waste” ideologies require a change in mentality as well as cooperation between local governments to support more extensive recycling centers. Local administrations are hesitant to allocate funds toward new recycling technology due to the pressures of other expenses. The New York Times cites this and other reasons  in explaining why “Zero-Waste” policies are taking hold faster among private companies and businesses than among citizens and local communities. The success of private companies can pave the way to wide spread implications of the “zero-waste” policy. Cost-effective approaches are being developed to industrial composting and the production of items that are able to be composted, such as corn-starch utensils. The future of recycling trends can be found in a “zero-waste” mentality. Current statistics support the need for a more comprehensive trend and public opinion is catching up.

See or for more information.


5 Ways To Celebrate Earth Day March 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mckennalw @ 4:22 pm

April 22, 2010 is the fortieth anniversary of earth day! So what can you do to celebrate? Plant a tree? Pick up the gum wrapper you dropped two feet from front of the trash can? This earth day do more! Commit to simple habits that can make a huge impact.

1. Change a light

If every household in the United State replaced one regular lightbulb with one a compact fluorescent bulb, the pollution reduction would be equivalent to removing one million cars from the road. If the color of the light is holding you up put it somewhere less conspicuous. A closet or laundry room could be perfect.

2. Turn off your computer at night

As a college student, I am the worst offender of this one. After a late night studying turning off my computer is the last thing I’m thinking of. I’m ready to shut it and crawl into bed. If conserving energy doesn’t motivate you to hit the power button, here’s something to think about the next time you’re closing out Facebook before bed. By turning off your computer instead of leaving it in sleep mode, you can save 40 watt-hours per day. That adds up to 4 cents a day, or $14 per year.

3. Wash in Cold or Warm.

If all the households in the U.S. switched from hot-hot cycle to warm-cold, we could save the energy comparable to 100,000 barrels of oil a day. It only takes the turn of a knob. Besides this, try to avoid wimpy loads. Combine with a roommate or wait until you have a full load to wash.

4. Stop an excessive napkin grabber

By the end of that Big Mac it can get a little messy, but the 23 napkins you picked up on your way to the booth may still be a little much. Keep your burger wrapped up to avoid the special sauce running down your arm- whatever it takes to reduce your napkin use.  During an average year, an American uses approximately 2,200 napkins—around six each day. If everyone in the U.S. used one less napkin a day, more than a billion pounds of napkins could be saved from landfills each year.

5. Brush to Your Favorite Song

Need a little background noise while you brush your teeth? It doesn’t have to be the water. Turn it off and party to your favorite song instead. You’ll conserve up to five gallons per day. Daily savings in the U.S. alone could add up to 1.5 billion gallons.

That doesn’t seem too bad. Celebrate the big day by making simple changes.

See and for more recycling facts.


Recycling Batteries

Filed under: Uncategorized — mckennalw @ 3:46 pm

Recycling batteries can be a tricky one. It can be difficult to distinguish what type of battery can be recycled and where. With a few minutes of research, however, it’s easy to know what to do with your used batteries. Here’s a starter:

Why is it important to recycle batteries?

Batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and nickel.  If a battery is improperly disposed of these metals are released into the air in the incineration process. The released metals can also concentrate in the ash produced by the combustion process. Batteries may produce the following potential problems or hazards:

  • Pollute lakes and streams as the metals vaporize into the air when burned
  • Heavy metals can sift into soil and groundwater from landfills
  • Discharged metals and corrosive acids may cause burns or danger to eyes and skin

What types of batteries can we recycle?

Environment, Health and Safety Online provided a chart that summarizes information needed to recycle batteries. Example of uses and size available for each battery type are particularly helpful. If a location can’t be found below to properly dispose of rechargeable batteries, several businesses accept this battery waste. Take the rechargeable batteries to any of the participating retailers. In the U.S.: Alltel, Batteries Plus, Best Buy, Black & Decker, Cingular Wireless, The Home Depot, Milwaukee Electric Tool, Orchard Supply, Porter Cable Service Center, RadioShack, Remington Product Company, Sears, Staples, Target, US Cellular, Verizon Wireless, and Wal-Mart. And in Canada: Battery Plus, Bell Mobility, Canadian Tire, FIDO/Microcell, Future Shop, The Home Depot, Home Hardware, London Drugs, Makita Factory Service Centers, Personal Edge/Centre du Rasoir, RadioShack Canada, Revy, Sasktel, Sears, The Sony Store, Telus Mobility and Zellers.

Recycling batteries can be simple. Contact your local authorities and encourage your community to make it even simpler by providing services and easy access to information. To begin battery collection at your place of business visit:

Battery Type

Common Name

Sizes Available

Examples of Use

Disposal classifi-cation

Proper Disposal

Alkaline ( manganese) Coppertop, Alkaline AAA, AA, C, D, 6V, 9V Flashlights, calculators, toys, clocks, smoke alarms, remote controls These batteries are classified by the federal government as non-hazardous waste. Place in the trash (normal municipal waste). Exceptions: California which  requires non-households to dispose of these batteries in accordance with the California Universal Waste Rules.
Button Mercuric Oxide, Silver Oxide, Lithium, Alkaline, Zinc-Air Sizes vary Watches, hearing aids, toys, greeting cards, remote controls hazardous waste Bring to a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Site.
Carbon Zinc “Classic”, Heavy Duty, General Purpose, All Purpose, Power Cell AAA, AA, C, D6V, 9V

Flashlights, calculators, toys, clocks, smoke alarms, remote controls, transistor radios, garage door openers These batteries are classified by the federal government as non-hazardous waste. Place in the trash (normal municipal waste). Exceptions: California-requires non-households to dispose of these batteries in accordance with the California Universal Waste Rules. Also, Minnesota (Hennipen County only) requires these batteries be disposed as a hazardous waste.
Lithium / Lithium Ion Usually has “lithium” label on the battery 3V, 6V, 3V button Cameras, calculators, computer memory back-up, tennis shoes These batteries are classified by the federal government as non-hazardous waste They can be recycled! Search local resources to find a center.
Nickel-Cadmium (Rechargeable) Either unlabeled or labeled “Ni-Cd” AAA, AA, C, D, 6V, 9V Flashlights, toys, cellular phones, power tools, computer packs hazardous waste Bring to a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Site.
Nickel Metal Hydride (Rechargeable) Either unlabeled or labeled “Ni-Li” or “Ni-Hydride) AAA, AA, C, D, 6V, 9V Flashlights, toys, cellular phones, power tools, computer packs non-hazardous waste – except in California, which requires non-households to dispose of these batteries in accordance with the California Universal Waste Rules. Safe for disposal in the normal municipal waste stream.  These batteries are also acceptable for recycling by the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation’s (RBRC) Battery Recycling Program.  
Reusable Alkaline Manganese (Rechargeable) Renewal AAA, AA, C, D Flashlights, calculators, toys, clocks, radios, remote controls Place in the trash
Sealed Lead Acid (Rechargeable)

“Gel,” VRB, AGM, Cyclone, El Power, Dynasty, Gates, Lithonia, Saft, Panasonic, Yuasa Multiples of 2 Volts: 2V, 6V, 12V Video cameras, power tools, wheelchairs, ATV’s, metal detectors, clocks, cameras hazardous waste Bring to a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Site.
Lead Acid Vehicle Batteries Autozone, Sears Die Hard, Yuasa 12V, 6V Cars, trucks, motorcycles hazardous waste Take back to place of purchase

bullet Most places that sell car batteries will also accept them for recycling. There may be a fee for this service.
bullet A metal recycler may pay you for your car battery. Look in the yellow pages under “Recycling Centers” for a list of recyclers.

Silver Oxide Panasonic Silver Oxide Sizes vary Watches, hearing aids, toys, greeting cards, remote controls hazardous waste Non-Consumers must dispose of these batteries in full compliance with the hazardous waste rules. Consumers are covered by the Household exemption under RCRA which allows for these batteries to be disposed of into the municipal waste stream.These batteries are also acceptable for recycling by the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation’s (RBRC) Battery Recycling Program.

Advocating Recycling Services in our Communities March 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — mckennalw @ 8:16 pm

Caleb Warnock of the Daily Hearld reported last year on Utah County’s Recycling Trail in his article “Following Utah County’s Recycling Trail”. He quotes Brad Mertz director of the Recycling Coalition of Utah on how recycling has spread through public pressure in Utah Valley. Mertz said, “It usually takes a grass-roots effort as local community members go to their city council and say we want this service. I’m seeing a trend in a lot of city councils responding to that… We are moving toward a sustainable culture. People realize we need to be better stewards of the environment…”

There has been a growing trend toward recycling in Utah County, however there are still entire cities in Utah Valley that send all their trash to the landfill. These include Pleasant Grove, Salem, Santaquin and Eagle Mountain. In fact, only four cities in Utah Valley have Waste Management Recycling programs. Still, the numbers show progress. Lehi has become Waste Managements model city in Utah Valley. Lehi requires participation by all citizens, a decision brought about by public pressure for the betterment of the community. As a result, Lehi recycles 171 tons of trash monthly.

Lehi’s success is similar to many cities across the nation. The key to success in recycling efforts lies in the individual members of the community. Becoming involved takes small efforts and commitment. See the link below for a list of Recycling Advocacy Organizations by state.


Recylcing Relief

Filed under: Uncategorized — mckennalw @ 6:27 pm

According to ReCellular, 1 in 3 Americans will replace their cell phone this year. The modern ideal is to upgrade to the latest phone. The mobile communication industry thrives on cell phone upgrades. Mobile users count down the days to new every two upgrades.  At 19 I am on my third phone. Constant upgrades leave behind 500 million unused phones. This discarded material contains $630,00 of metal and enough copper to recover the statue of liberty twice. ReCellullar makes cell phone recycling easy. Prepaid shipping labels are all that is required to send your phone in.

If the environmental benefits of recycling don’t capture you’re interest donate your phone for relief. In light of the recent earth quake in Haiti, ReCellular announced its Phone for Haiti program. ReCellular will give 100% of its profits from donated phone to the American Red Cross for disaster relief in Haiti. According to ReCellular even a small percentage of phone could bring in near a million dollars. Other charities in partnership with ReCellular have already received more than $20 million. See Fox news for a video on Phone for Haiti and the ReCellular home page for more information on how to donate.