11 WAYS TO CUT YOUR TRASH IN HALF
In 1989 California launched an ambitious campaign to cut its trash in half by the year 2000. Each city and county developed plans and initiated recycling programs to reach goals, and Californians like you have come through in a big way. Today, statewide we reuse and recycle an estimated 32 percent of our solid waste. In fact California recycles 17 million tons a year - more than twice as much as the next two states combined!
But to get to 50 percent, the California Integrated Waste Management Board, the California Department of Conservation, and your local authority are asking you to take some, or all of these easy steps to help cut your trash in half.
For years you have been doing a great job recycling bottles, cans, and newspapers, including nearly 10 billion beverage containers last year alone! But have you tried grass cycling or composites? Or have you thought about buying products made from those old cans, bottles, and newspapers?
Best of all, these tips are not only good, they're good for you! In the short run, recycling and reuse can save you money, and in the long run, cutting trash makes your landfill last longer, saving you tax dollars.
Your city or county has developed some great programs to make it easy for you to recycle. To find out more about your local programs, call the Waste Board at 1-800-553-2962 for the telephone number and name of your community recycling coordinator. Make sure you know the right way to recycle in your community.
2. Recycle Carbonated Beverage Containers
The increasing popularity of 20-oz. Plastic bottles is contributing to a noticeable drop in the plastic beverage container recycling rate. These containers are recyclable, so whether you are on the road for business, vacation, or a weekend outing, find a recycling bin to deposit your empty beverage container into. And remember that most roadside rest stops now have beverage container recycling bins. Thanks California, keep recycling!
For the nearest beverage container recycling center location, call 1-800-RECYCLE. To learn more about beverage container recycling, visit the Department of Conservation's Web site, www.consrv.ca.gov
A great way to cut your trash and save you time is to grass cycle - mow without a bag and leave your grass clippings on the lawn to provide mulch and nutrients, save water, and save time.
Your existing mower probably came with a kit to make it a mulching mower. These machines cut and recut grass into tiny particles, which drop onto the soil. But remember - don't mow wet grass. It will clump and die.
4. Compost in Your Backyard
If mowing without a bag isn't your bag, try composting. Yard waste and some food scraps decompose into outstanding free topsoil, and composting can reduce your trash by up to 25 percent - perhaps more.
Call the Waste Board at 1-800-553-2962 for the telephone number of your local recycling coordinator to determine if there is a composting workshop near you.
In arid climates, such as most of California, xeriscaping with plants that don't need much water may reduce your costs. In addition, drought-tolerant plants tend to be slower growing and require less maintenance.
Mowing, watering, and fertilizing chores take less time and money, and yard waste is minimized. And the next time there's a drought, you don't have to worry!
6. Reduce Household Waste
There are a lot of little things you can do around the house to cut your trash in half. Find a home for unneeded items. Give them to charity or have a yard sale.
Buy in bulk and, like your Mom said, eat your leftovers. Use cloth bags at the grocery store instead of paper or plastic. At home, use reusable containers to store leftovers and other items.
Avoid overpacked products - the little toy in the box, inside the bigger box, encased in foam blocks, and sealed in another box. It costs you money to throw away this packaging (and more money to buy it in the first place!)
7. Join the Paperless Society
Use e-mail. Send electronic greetings for special events and you can save money and paper. If you do not need to make a paper copy, don't. And get off junk mail lists. Call the Waste Board to find out how.
Use cloth napkins and towels instead of paper napkins and paper towels to save natural resources, reduce waste, and save money!
8. Good Recycling Starts at Home
Recycle materials are processed and used to make new products. One big problem is that paper, plastic, and other commodities are easily contaminated. Be careful to sort your materials appropriately, or the whole load may wind up in the landfill instead of the recycling manufacturer.
What can you do? Flatten your cardboard boxes for curb side pickup. Don't put plastic bags inside plastic bags, and don't leave paper receipts inside plastic bags. Make sure you take those sticky notes off white paper.
Remove the caps before you recycle milk jugs. And please - wash out recyclables so they don't attract bugs, mold, and mice.
9. Do No Harm
It is illegal to put used oil and hazardous household products such as pesticides, paints, or gasoline into your family trash. Dumping them on the ground or into a storm drain is illegal and harms the environment. But you should not store used oil or unneeded hazardous products around your house or garage.
What can you do? Call 1-800-CLEAN-UP to find out where you can recycle or properly dispose of these unneeded items. Or visit the Waste Board's Web site at www.ciwmb.ca.gov to find your nearest used oil-recycling center.
10. Use Re-Refined Oil
The State requires re-refined oil in its vehicles, including California Highway Patrol cars. High-performance race cars use re-refined oil and win. You can, too!
Used oil can be re-refined into top-quality motor oil. Unfortunately, not very store carries re-refined oil. If your dealer does not stock re-refined , ask for it!
11. Buy Recycled
Earth's resources are too precious to waste. For recycling to succeed we all need to check the labels and to try and buy products made with recycled content. Everything from clothes to carpeting, cans to comic books are made from cycled materials
You are doing your part when you close the recycling loop.
What's Left in Your Trash Can?
Now, how have you done? On trash day is your can less than half full? If not, please call the Waste Board at 1-800-553-2962 to request more information on all the topics covered here. You can also check the Waste Board's Web site at www.ciwmb.ca.gov
California's Family Trash Can
California's average family trash includes 38 percent paper and paperboard; 14 percent yard trimmings; and between 5 and 10 percent each for glass, metal, plastic, wood and food scraps.
Note: This information was extracted from the CIWMB's Web site
Make sure your house is well insulated. The easiest and most cost-effective way to insulate your home is to add insulation in the attic. To find out if you have enough attic insulation, measure the thickness of insulation. If there is less than R-22 (7 inches of fiberglass or rock wool or 6 inches of cellulose), you could probably benefit by adding more. Most homes should have between R-22 and R-49 insulation in the attic. If your attic has ample insulation and your home still feels too warm, chances are you need to add insulation to the exterior walls. This is a more expensive measure that usually requires a contractor, but it may be well worth the cost if you have high summer electric bills.
Weather-strip, caulk, and seal all seams, cracks, and openings to the outside. You can save 10% or more on your energy bill by reducing the air leaks in your home. This is one of the quickest dollar-savings tasks you can do immediately.
- Install a low-flow aerator in your shower. You'll save on both water and energy.
- Remember to turn off the bathroom exhaust fan. An exhaust fan left on draws in hot outside air and causes your air conditioner to run harder.
- Use the outside barbecue grill whenever possible. This will keep the heat out of the kitchen. Barbecuing can also be a fun time for the whole family.
- Use a microwave to help keep the kitchen cool. This will also reduce cooking time. Consider also using other low-heat kitchen tools such as crock-pots, electric skillets, or toaster ovens.
- Don't preheat the oven unless the recipe calls for it specifically.
- Turn the oven off about five minutes before items are done to let the remaining heat complete the job.
- Don't open the door to the oven frequently. Each time you open the door, you lose 25 to 50 degrees of heat.
- Prepare your foods when the kitchen is the coolest, usually during the early morning. Whenever possible, cook everything at the same time.
- To minimize heat loss, use flat bottom pans that fit the size of the burner.
- Use lids on pots and pans on the stove to prevent heat loss.
- Be sure your dishwasher is full, but not overloaded.
- Let your dishes air dry. If you don't have an automatic air-dry setting, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open a little so the dishes dry faster.
- Run you dishwasher at night during off peak hours. This avoids adding heat and humidity to your house during the day when the air conditioner is working hardest.
Heat Pumps & Air Filters
Electric heat pumps use less energy than older electric heat units. Consider replacing your heating and cooling systems if it is more than 10 years old. In the Needles area, cooling costs can account for as much as 45 percent of your annual electric bill. So replacing an old system with a new energy-efficient heat pump can have a significant impact on your monthly electric bill. If you replace your old unit with a new high-efficiency heat pump, you can save as much as 30 to 40 percent on you cooling costs.
Needles Public Utility Authority ("NPUA") electric customers may be eligible for a rebate on qualified replacements of air conditioning systems. For more information call (760) 326-5700. The efficiency of heat pumps and air conditioners is expressed by the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The higher the SEER number, the more cooling you will get for your dollar. Energy Star qualified heat pumps have a SEER of 14 or greater.
Make sure your heat pump is the correct size for your home. Often people purchase a unit, which is too large for the space, because they think it will cool better. An oversized unit is actually less effective than a correctly sized unit. It also wastes energy. Running a smaller unit for a longer time will use less energy to completely cool a room than running an oversized unit for a shorter time.
Remember to replace your air filter each month. A good way to remember is to replace it each month when you receive your electric bill.
- Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. Not only does it save on water heating costs; it keeps your home cooler.
- Wash and dry only full loads. A partial load uses almost as much energy and water. If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting.
- Use the cool-down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer.
- Increase your lighting efficiency by replacing your lights in high-use areas with compact fluorescent lights. This is a very quick and easy way to decrease your energy bills.
- Fluorescent lights last 6 to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
- Fluorescent not only use less electricity, but they also help your home stay cooler in the summer because they generate less heat than conventional lighting.
- Fluorescent light bulbs are the most efficient light bulbs available today.
- Fluorescent are about 75 percent cooler. · Turn off lights when they are not needed.
A programmable thermostat is a temperature-sensitive device that lets you choose the temperature to be maintained in one or several rooms of your home during different times of the day. Energy Star labeled programmable thermostats are designed to help save money on your utility bill and reduce energy costs. Energy Star estimates that Energy Star labeled programmable thermostats, when properly used, can save consumers 20 to 30 percent on heating and cooling costs.
What appliance uses the most energy in your home? If you answered refrigerator, you are correct. So how can you conserve energy, save money and use your refrigerator in the most efficient way?
- Refrigerators use more energy than any other appliance in your home. Consider replacing your refrigerator if it is more than 12 years old, and please do not move your old one to the garage or outside to be used as a second refrigerator.
- A typical refrigerator made around 1990 uses over 900 kilowatt hours per year - that's the same amount of energy you would use by leaving a 1,250 watt hair dryer on for a month! And the older your refrigerator is, the more power it uses. When you decide to replace your old refrigerator, consider an Energy Star qualified refrigerator, which uses less than half the energy (for the same size refrigerator) of a 10-year-old conventional model. Energy Star labeled refrigerators incorporate a number of advanced features to save energy. Manufacturers are now using better insulation, more efficient compressors, improved heat transfer surfaces, and more precise temperature and defrost mechanisms. Energy Star labeled refrigerators use improved insulation so the compressor runs less often. This keeps your kitchen cooler, reducing the need to air condition.
- Test the seal to your refrigerator. Energy Star recommends testing the seal on your refrigerator and freezer door gasket periodically by closing the door on a dollar bill. If the bill pulls out easily, you may need a new gasket. · Did you know that a refrigerator or freezer in the garage or outside could be a real energy hog? High temperatures make your refrigerator or freezer use much more energy, which adds to your electricity bills. Consider disconnecting them at least for the summer, or moving them to an air-conditioned area.
- Clean the coils under or behind your refrigerator several times a year to help it run more efficiently. Be sure to unplug the refrigerator first, and be careful not to bend or break anything in the process.
- Keep the freezer compartment defrosted. Ice buildup acts as an insulator, making your refrigerator run longer and work harder.
- Keep your refrigerator or freezer full, without overcrowding. Empty or nearly refrigerators do not operate efficiently. Use water containers or bags of ice cubes to fill empty space.
- Don't open the refrigerator longer or more often than necessary. Decide what you want before you open the door. Check out www.energystar.gov to learn all about energy efficient appliances, including refrigerators.
Water Heater Tips
- Set the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees. Set it at 140 degrees if you have a dishwasher.
- Insulate the hot water pipe leaving your water heater. This cost is minimal and you can save $20 a year in energy costs.
- Repair leaking faucets. Make sure water faucets are turned off completely.
- Consider adding an insulating blanket if you have an older water heater. Be sure to check the label on your water heater first to make sure this is in accordance with the manufacturer's recommendations.
- Install solar film, sunscreens, or awnings on sun-struck windows.
- Plant trees and shrubs in front of sun-struck windows or walls to keep homes cooler and reduce energy costs during the summer months. Check with your nursery for a list of desert trees because they use less water and need less care than many other trees.
A swimming pool pump can use more electricity in a year than an average washer, dryer, dishwasher, range and oven combined. Please follow these tips to conserve energy.
- Install a timer on your pool pump and run it only at night during non-peak hours.
- Keep your chemicals properly balanced. This is more important to maintain clean water than operating the pump longer.
- Operate the filter at night. Because chlorine is destroyed by sunlight, the chemicals will be strongest if you apply them at night.
Other Web sites to check out:
www.energysavers.gov for energy saving tips from the U.S. Department of Energy
www.energystar.gov for information on Energy Star products and appliances
www.saveourh2o.org California's Water Conservation Resource
www.urecycle.orgMojave Desert and Mountain Recycling Authority
(This website page is provided for informational purposes only.)