Monday, June 2, 2014

Plastic Bags: What to do with them?

Plastic bags should not be placed in your regular recycling carts for curb collection. They are not on the list of items that are accepted and will be pulled out and thrown in the trash when it comes to separation time at the designated Material Recovery Facility (MRF) where items are sorted and residuals are removed.

In fact, plastic bags are considered "the bane of many single-stream MRFs [...] – they can jam the machinery and slow down the processing," states Anne Germain in her article Where Does It Go? about the story of modern single-streaming recycling.

Others also do not see plastic bags in a positive light. As reported by the National Conference of State Legislatures, "States are continuing to consider strategies to reduce the number of plastic carry-out bags from grocery stores and other retail outlets. [...] Regulating bags can mitigate harmful impacts to oceans, rivers, lakes and the wildlife that inhabit them. Reducing bag use can also relieve pressure on landfills and waste management." In various places in the US the use of plastic bags has been banned.

Locally, we see shops selling reusable bags and organizations distributing them. To encourage their use, a few modest incentives are in place, like Target's: shoppers who bring their own reusable bags get a 5-cent discount off the total of purchase per reusable bag.

So, for the ones who still have plastic bags abound, what can they do with their plastic bags?

One can find many uses for plastic bags besides holding cat litter or not composted meat scraps that will go straight in the garbage and be landfilled.

There are plenty of different crafts (also here and some more here) and toys (like this fabulous jump rope) that can be made using plastic bags. A favorite among kids is the toy parachute that can be as simple as this one or as elaborate as this other one.

If disposing of plastic bags is what you are looking for, you may donate your clean plastic bags to local libraries and farmer's markets or shops to be reused -- contact them first to check whether they are in need and accepting plastic bags.

Another alternative for disposal of those bags is to recycle them through specific drop-off programs available in local stores.

In the post What to do with What you Cannot Place in your Recycle Bin we mentioned that Publix accepted some things that could not normally be recycled, including grocery and shopping "plastic bags, clean ziploc bags, [...], plastic sleeves from dry cleaning and newspapers." That list can be expanded.

Even though "less than 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled each year" according to Clean Air Council. (2009, May), more stores are serving as drop-off locations.

Besides Publix, stores like Target, Walmart, Sam's Club, and Lowe's have collection bins for plastic bags. A list of stores that accept plastic bags is available on the Find a Drop Off Location page of the Plastic Film Recycling website .

Each drop-off location may accept different types of bags. Accepted items may include retail bags, newspaper bags, produce bags, case wraps (e.g. snacks and beverage cases), bread bags, napkin/paper towel/bathroom tissue/diaper wrap, dry cleaning, and air pillows.

Before you take your bags to a store near you, make sure you know what can go in the bin of your selected store and...

Recycle Brevard!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

What to do with Used Books

Books are precious and should have a very long life, passing from generation to generation the stories and
facts we document. But once we do not need or want certain books any longer, what should we do with them?

First, consider donating to one of the public libraries. They can make books available to all in the county and will be able to store and offer books to residents for quite some time. Note that some books, like textbooks or computer books, are not normally accepted by libraries.

Other alternatives are:
If those do not work for you, try asking neighbors, friends, and family if they would like to have your books.

You may also try to sell your books on Ebay, Half, Half Price Books, Amazon or a local college bookstore (e.g. EFSC Bookstore) -- in case of text books.

Last option on the list would be to recycle them in your recycling carts. Paperback books are one of the items accepted in curb collection.

As you can see, you have many alternatives as to where to send your books. Whichever one you choose will be a good one to extend the life of those books. The only place they should not go in is the trash.

Recycle Brevard!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Recycle Brevard: One More Year

Another year to celebrate! Recycle Brevard just turned three.

Like anyone on their birthday, on an anniversary we should take a moment to look back and review our efforts, recognize our challenges, and balance it out to answer the question: are we on the right track?

That is when we received an unexpected gift: an email from a mentor for a local group of students. The email went on to explain that "one of my mentees (Lauren) found your website while searching for information on recycling and the environment. I just wanted to let you know that your information has been a big help to us!"

Thank you for the email and thank you, Lauren. That was wonderful to read and validates the reason why we started Recycle Brevard.

Recycle Brevard was created from a desire to share information to motivate more people to embrace the 3R's - Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, but then it became much more.

We saw the need to bring the message and promote "hands-on" experiences to the community so others would realize what they could do and how important that would be for the environment and our lives.

From the premise that every positive action, no matter how small, makes an impact and inspires others, we feel it is essential that everyone understands the influence that their actions have on our natural resources and how they can live in harmony with our great big world. That added a whole new depth to the role Recycle Brevard took upon itself.

In order to be able to do more, in 2013 we incorporated as a not-for-profit. That alone comes with its own set of new challenges and new opportunities -- oh, yeah, they normally come together if we pay attention -- and we are ready to tackle them all.

One more year and growing stronger. We are looking forward to what our fourth year will bring.

Cheers and...

Recycle Brevard!

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