10 Ways to Cut Pounds — of Waste! — This Thanksgiving

thanksgiving-pie

Thanksgiving is around the corner, and we all know how labor-intensive preparing the big meal can be. But we’re not always aware of how much extra waste we create!

On average, household waste increases by 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, according to the EPA. We become so busy during the holidays, it can easily become a time to think less and waste more.

This Thanksgiving, try out these tips to keep some of those extra pounds of waste out of the landfill.

1. Remember to bring your reusable bags when grocery shopping, including reusable produce bags.

2. Choose products that have minimal packaging, or packaging that can be recycled. It’s easier to avoid waste by shopping from fresh produce sections, bulk bins and farmer’s markets. Also, food cans are more eco-friendly than plastic packaging, but they aren’t as green as fresh produce brought home in a reusable produce bag.

3. At home, skip the aluminum pan and use a roasting pan instead. Even though aluminum trays are recyclable, recycling requires a lot of resources, so a reusable pan is a greener choice.

4. Break out your reusable dishes and silverware for the holiday instead of using disposable plates.

5. Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins — you’ll add elegance and reduce waste at the same time.

6. When serving beverages, opt for tap water over bottled water — you can add some lemon or cucumber slices to jazz it up. You can also make holiday beverages like apple cider, spiced wine or sangria in bulk, instead of serving individual beverage containers.

7. Avoid plastic wrap when storing leftovers by using food storage containers instead.

8. Use natural objects such as gourds, cinnamon sticks, acorns and pinecones to brighten your space instead of shopping for store-bought decor. If you’re feeling crafty, here are some additional ideas from Pinterest:

9. If you end up with leftovers that didn’t go home with guests and you couldn’t finish in time, remember to put them in the Green Waste Bin.

10. Remember to recycle! If you’re not sure if something belongs in your recycling, just look it up in our Recycling Guide!

As important as it is to reduce waste and recycle, no matter how you choose to celebrate, remember to be thankful for who you’re with and all that you have.

Happy Thanksgiving!

5 Reasons to Recycle for America Recycles Day

recycling

What if you knew there was something easy you could do every day that creates jobs while saving money, energy and water? Actually, there is: Recycling!

To celebrate America Recycles Day, check out these 5 reasons why we should all be recycling, every chance we get.

1. Recycling keeps trash out of the landfill.

According to the EPA, in the U.S. we are currently able to keep 35 percent of our trash out of landfills and incinerators through recycling and composting. In California, we manage to keep 44 percent of our trash out of the landfill. That’s a good start, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. It’s important to keep as much material out of the landfill as possible because all items that we produce are made from valuable and limited resources. We want to hang onto as much of it as we can for future use.

2. Recycling reduces our need for new raw materials.

Extracting raw materials from the environment is expensive. It also uses up a lot of water and energy. When we recycle, we extract less, which conserves many of our precious (and finite!) natural resources, including trees, water, oil and metals. The more we recycle, the more we protect our resources!

3. Recycling conserves energy.

Recycling saves a lot of energy. Every year, recyclers across the country save the same amount of energy it would take to power 14 million homes for a full year. That’s the equivalent of turning off the power for one out of every 10 homes for an entire year.

4. Recycling creates jobs.

In the U.S., recycling and reuse activities provide 757,000 jobs and produce $36 billion in wages each year. Choosing to recycle isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for the economy too.

5. Recycling reduces pollution.

The process of extracting raw materials can produce a lot of pollution. Because more recycling means less extraction, it also means less pollution. Even better, when we recycle more, we send less material to landfills. Material decaying in landfills often emits methane, a greenhouse gas 30 times as potent as carbon dioxide, so the less of that, the better!

How Can You Recycle Correctly?

It’s important to recycle correctly! Items that don’t belong in the recycling can damage sorting machinery, causing expensive delays. Also, when the wrong materials get mixed in with the right ones (known as “contamination” in the recycling world), it reduces the value of other recyclables that were sorted correctly.

So how can you find out how to recycle correctly? By using our searchable Recycling Guide. Simply look up any item in our Recycling Guide, and you’ll find tips on recycling, reusing and reducing that item.

Happy recycling!

How to Fix a Hole in a Sweater (Video)

Winter is well on its way, but what if your sweaters aren’t ready for sweater weather?

There’s no need to toss a sweater over small holes. Check out this DIY tutorial to see how you can fix them, and by the time you’re done your sweater will be almost as good as new!

Daylight Saving Time: When You Change Your Clocks, Recycle the Batteries in Your Smoke Detector

smoke detector

November 3 is the end of Daylight Saving Time, which means we have to move the clocks back an hour. But Daylight Saving Time is also the perfect time to test your smoke detectors and change the batteries! When it comes to fire safety, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Here’s how to take care of your smoke detector:

  • Test it once a month.
  • Change its battery once a year.
  • Replace the smoke detector every 10 years.

When you change your batteries, remember to recycle your old ones.

Never throw batteries in the trash! Some batteries can explode if they happen to strike against other metal in your garbage, in a garbage truck, or on their way to a landfill. These explosions cause dangerous fires. Additionally, batteries contain dangerous metals and corrosive chemicals that can leach into the environment if they are not processed properly.

If you have a battery that is damaged — if it is swollen, leaking, corroded (you will see a powdery white substance) or showing burn marks — do one of the following: Place it in a clear plastic bag and take it to a hazardous waste facility, or contact a Call2Recycle drop-off site to see if it accepts damaged batteries. Damaged batteries are highly hazardous, so do not place a damaged battery in the trash for any reason.

Use traditional, single-use batteries in your smoke detectors. Why? These alkaline batteries can hold a charge for years when not in use, and their charge isn’t sapped very quickly. They are a better choice than rechargeable batteries for items that may sit unused for long periods of time, such as smoke detectors and emergency flashlights. If you wish to use rechargeable batteries anyway, make sure to choose ones that are labeled low-self discharge (LSD), and test your smoke detector manually once a month.

Toss Those Halloween Candy Wrappers

halloween candy

Halloween is fast approaching, and as you work your way through the never-ending supply of candy, remember that candy wrappers are not recyclable. They need to be thrown in the trash.

Candy wrappers can’t be recycled because they are made of a mix of materials — often a combination of paper, plastic and aluminum — that are difficult and expensive to separate.

However, if you’re organizing a big halloween party, and there’s going to be a ton of candy, consider ordering a TerraCycle Candy and Snack Wrappers Zero Waste Box. This way the wrappers can be mailed in to be recycled through TerraCycle’s special program.

How to Fix a Zipper (Video)

From stuck zippers to zippers that just won’t stay zipped, we’ve all had our share of zipper troubles. Thankfully, most zipper problems are a quick fix! Avoid replacing a faulty zipper using these easy zipper hacks.

Food Scraps Don’t Belong in the Recycling

dirty food containers

Is your jar half-full of salsa? Does your can still have food in it? Don’t toss them in the recycling! Food scraps contaminate the recycling process.

When food scraps get into your recycling, they make recyclables less clean and less valuable. Food can get stuck in sorting equipment, forcing workers to stop the sorting line to clean it up. Food can also seep into paper products, making the fibers too weak to be recycled — liquids, sticky residue and leftover grease, especially.

Long story short: A batch of food-contaminated recycling can quickly end up in the landfill.

What can you do? Scrape out and rinse any containers that once held food. If it’s something really sticky or oily, such as nut butter, honey or mayonnaise, go ahead and give the container a quick scrub.

Afterwards, if a container is really wet, try to let it dry before tossing it in with other recyclables. That way, any paper that’s being recycled will stay dry, too.

Torn Jeans? Here’s an Easy Way to Fix Them (Video)

Wear your favorite jeans for long enough and eventually they’ll tear. Better than throwing them away and buying a new favorite, you can fix them!

With an inside patch for stability and some jean-colored thread, your favorite denim will be back in action. Watch this video to see how:

You can also start fixing your tear by applying an iron-on patch, as this second video demonstrates:

Jeans can last a long time, so fixing a tear can give them a much longer life. And not only will it keep them out of the landfill, it will also save you money.

What Happens When You Recycle the Wrong Things (Video)

contamination

Some recycling programs have over 25% contamination — meaning over a quarter of what we throw in our recycling carts doesn’t belong there.

Contamination is a big problem because:

  • It gets tangled up in machinery that was designed to handle different items, bringing the sorting process to a standstill.
  • It endangers the workers who have to climb into the machinery and fix it when it stops running.
  • It slows down the sorting process, which increases costs.
  • It means that the materials that come out of recycling facilities are less useful for making new products.

Watch this video to see what really happens when people toss things in their recycling that don’t belong:

You can help solve the problem of contamination! Check out our Quick Guide to What Goes in the Bins for an overview of what belongs in your recycling, and look up any other items you have questions about in our Recycling Guide.

How to Dispose of Lunchables

lunchables

Lunchables are easy to pack for kids when you’re short on time, but how do you dispose of the packaging when you’re done?

The cardboard sleeve goes in the recycling. The plastic wrap and plastic container go in the trash. They are not recyclable.

If you want to cut back on the waste, try making your own “Lunchables” at home. You’ll save money, too. Check out the Squawkfox homemade lunch experiment to learn more.