It’s Time to Ditch Your Plastic Wrap — Here’s Why

plastic wrap

There’s no doubt that plastic wrap — also known as Cling Wrap or Saran Wrap — is convenient. However, it’s super hard to reuse and impossible to recycle because it’s a complex plastic made with chemicals that are difficult to remove during the recycling process. So instead of trying to clean it or dry it, toss it in your trash.

But this also means that every time you use plastic wrap, you’re creating a piece of waste that will outlive us several times over. In fact, we don’t have proof that plastic will ever truly biodegrade. Rather, it will simply accumulate in our environment over time.

However, a bunch of plastic waste in a faraway future isn’t the only thing that’s concerning about plastic wrap. Plastic wrap may also be made from plastic #3, PVC, which contains materials that have been associated with serious health risks such as cancer and hormonal disorders.

So what can you use instead of plastic wrap? Reusable food containers, jars, beeswax wrap, silicone pouches and silicone stretch lids will all do the trick. It’s worth it to wash and reuse an item when it means you can keep harmful, non-recyclable materials out of the landfill.

If you can’t quite give up the plastic wrap habit, don’t let it touch food directly, or go into the microwave, where it is most likely to leach chemicals into your food.

The Environmental Cost of Choosing Two-Day Shipping

Most Americans shop online — as many as 79% of us. Most of us will also choose rush shipping when it’s available, especially if there’s no extra charge. But what effect does this shipping have on the planet, and what can we do to make it more sustainable? Watch this video to find out.

Woo Your Valentine This Year — With Recycling

valentines day

Whether someone recycles affects how attractive they seem, according to a recent study by The Recycling Partnership. A whopping 62 percent of Americans think that not recycling is a turn-off.

Younger folks are especially inclined to view being wasteful as a dealbreaker. In fact, adults 18-34 care so much about recycling that they would spend an average of $219 a month — or as much as $2,628 a year — if it meant everything they bought came from companies that make every effort to recycle.

This year, woo your Valentine with these recycling skills:

  • Give your Valentine a card made from recycled paper. You can recycle cards only if they are free of glitter and metallic foil. If a card has glitter or foil on it, cut or tear those sections off and throw them away — you can recycle what’s left of the card.
  • If you’re giving or receiving flowers, do a crunch test to see if the plastic wrap may be recyclable. If it’s loud and crinkly, toss it in the trash. If it’s flexible and quiet, it can be recycled with plastic bags.
  • Once you’re done with the flowers, put them in your green waste.
  • Candy wrappers can’t be recycled, so remember to toss them in the trash.
  • Wine bottles can be recycled.
  • If a wine cork is made from plastic, throw it in the trash. If it is made from natural cork, it can be dropped off for special recycling collection at many Whole Foods locations and other retailers.

Need to find out how to recycle something else? Look it up in our Recycling Guide.

Want to Green Your Super Bowl Party? Drink Out of This

super bowl beverages

If you’re one of the 100 million people who’s planning to watch the Super Bowl this year, take a moment to consider your beverage choices. Alcoholic beverages are undoubtedly a centerpiece of the game, hence the popular “Super Sick Monday.”

But whether your beverages are alcoholic or not, what’s the greenest choice for your beverage containers — plastic, glass or aluminum?

Plastic bottles are lightweight and easy to ship in bulk without breaking, but making them in the first place is incredibly hard on the planet. It requires oil drilling, extraction and processing with natural gas. What’s worse, very little plastic gets recycled. Even when it does get recycled, it can’t be recycled infinitely, and it needs to be combined with virgin plastic to be usable.

Glass bottles are made from silica, or sand, and limestone. Collecting these is not as hard on the environment as most other materials. However, glass bottles are the least eco-friendly to transport because of how heavy they are. Still, glass bottles are 100 percent recyclable!

Aluminum cans are made from open-pit mining for bauxite. This kind of extraction is very hard on the environment and causes permanent scars on the land. However, once we have the aluminum, it’s lightweight to transport (although not as light as plastic), and it can be recycled infinitely!

Which container should you pick?

  • Aluminum cans are the best choice if you’re choosing a beverage that has been shipped any great distance.
  • Reusable growlers or kegs of local brew are even better, if that’s an option for you. Reusing is always preferable to recycling.
  • Glass bottles from local breweries are also an eco-friendly choice, since they don’t have to be shipped very far.
  • If you’re buying soda that doesn’t come in cans, choose the two-liter plastic bottles — that way you’re purchasing less plastic overall.

No matter which containers you buy, remember to recycle! Set out a container with a clear recycling sign for your guests, and when the game’s over, you can take all the empty bottles and cans to a nearby beverage container recycling center to get your CRV money back. You might not make enough to pay off any game day betting debts, but it will at least make sure your beverage containers get a chance at a second run.

How to Live Zero Waste

For most of us, zero waste is a lofty goal. The average American creates about 4.4 pounds of trash each day. Curious how someone can lead a life that creates almost no waste at all?

Bea Johnson is the author of Zero Waste Home: The Ultimate Guide to Simplifying Your Life by Reducing Your Waste. To get inspired, take a peek inside Johnson’s own zero waste home, and listen to her top advice on cutting back.

Keep Those Recycling Bins Closed!

closed bin lids

Keep your recycling bin lids closed! Not only does it prevent loose items from blowing away in the wind, it also keeps your recyclables dry.

This is especially important during a stormy season. Wet paper and cardboard cannot be recycled, and what’s worse, their wet, damaged fibers can contaminate other paper materials once they are combined.

So remember: Keep your recyclables safe and dry by keeping your bin lids closed!

5 Eco-Resolutions That Will Make a Difference

new year's resolutions

Craving some New Year’s resolutions for your lifestyle that will have a serious impact on the planet? Look no further — these five eco-resolutions will do the trick.

dine in restaurant1. Avoid takeout food — or do takeout differently.

Takeout food creates a ton of waste. Well, a lot more than a ton. The boxes, cartons, cups, lids, bags, silverware, straws, napkins, packaged mini condiments — they all add up. Containers and packaging make up over 23 percent of the material that gets landfilled in the U.S. each year.

What can you do about it? First, get takeout less often. Either eat at home, or when you want restaurant food, take the time to dine in. Second, bring your own reusable takeout container! Instead of having a restaurant box up your food (in a container that will make its way into your garbage, recycling or compost within minutes), bring a reusable food container. Jars are perfect for beverages and other liquids. Third, if you are going to order takeout regardless, and you don’t want to use your own containers, simply refuse the unnecessary items: the plastic bag, the silverware, the condiments you won’t use, the napkins you don’t need. Every bit of trash you refuse helps make a difference and change the status-quo.

One of our local Truckee restaurants, Red Truck, has a reusable to-go box program to reduce takeout waste. To participate, simply request your to-go meal in a reusable green box when you place your order. Just purchase your first box for $5, then bring it back to trade for a new one with your next order!

towels2. Trade in paper towels for real towels.

According to The Atlantic, the U.S. spends $5.7 billion each year on paper towels — that’s nearly as much as the rest of the world combined. The waste adds up. Paper towels and other kinds of tissue paper make up 7.4 billion pounds of waste a year. To give you an idea of how much that is, that’s the weight of nearly 30,000 blue whales — more whales than exist on our planet today.

In other parts of the world, fewer people rely on paper towels. Rags are a popular go-to, along with scrubbing brushes and sponges. So take the plunge — if you don’t have towels on hand, visit your local thrift store to find some. Worried about absorbency? Loose-woven fabrics will work best to mop up spills. Worried about cleanliness? If you wash and dry your towels on hot settings, they will be plenty clean enough to use over and over again.

shop secondhand3. Buy your clothing secondhand.

The fashion industry is far from environmentally innocent. Globally, more than 8 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions are produced by the apparel and footwear industries. Not only does the majority of clothing get tossed instead of donated or recycled — most of the clothing that gets tossed is also nowhere near worn out.

The good news? Buying one item of used clothing extends its life by an average of 2.2 years. And by buying used instead of new, you’re reducing electricity use, and water use, greenhouse gas emissions, plus the amount of plastics used to make synthetic clothing. It isn’t just environmentally friendly — often, you can buy higher quality clothing for a fraction of its original price, so you’re getting more value from the money you spend.

You can find used clothing at secondhand stores, consignment shops, vintage boutiques, thrift shops, and resale websites. As far as online vendors go, ThredUp, Poshmark, The RealReal, eBay and depop are popular choices. Used clothing stores are all part of a growing industry called “recommerce.” Recommerce is a $20 billion industry, and it’s growing faster than sales of new clothing.

repair4. Don’t toss it, repair it.

Over the last 100 or so years, the U.S. has been slowly cultivating a culture of disposability. Even in the 60s, 70s and 80s, repairing an item was far more common than it is now. The disposable mentality we have is partly due to how cheap everything has become — clothing, electronics and appliances are all more affordable than they used to be. It makes sense that someone would rather replace a cheap, defective item than pay to have it repaired by a specialist.

However, the fix-it culture we lost touch with is making a rebound, and for good reason. We simply have too much trash, with the average American generating 4.4 lbs of waste each day. Instead of tossing items that need to be repaired, more people are trying to fix them.

So the next time you come across something you have that’s broken, think of how you could fix it. Can you do it yourself, using an iFixit manual or a YouTube video? Is there a local repair cafe or fix-it workshop you could visit to get help from a local expert? Keep Truckee Green hosts Fixit Clinics at the Truckee Roundhouse — look for the next one in April! Or if it is something a tailor, shoe repair shop, or electronics shop could help you with, look for one nearby. Every time you prevent an item from making its way to the landfill you are making a difference.

collection reminders5. Sign up for Collection Reminders!

When you sign up for our collection reminders, not only do you get an email each week reminding you when it’s time to put out your cart(s), you’ll also get a weekly tip on how to be a better recycler and live a greener lifestyle! By following our tips, you can feel good about reducing your carbon footprint all year long. Sign up for collection reminders here!

Ditch the Takeout Waste — Here’s How

Napkins, plastic cutlery, condiment packets, to-go boxes, cups, lids, straws, bags — the amount of waste created by takeout food is huge. Mostly, these are single-use items that go into the trash within minutes or even seconds of getting them.

Takeout food can be delicious, but it can also be super wasteful. In the U.S., single-use items make up 10 percent of all our waste.

One of our local Truckee restaurants, Red Truck, is tackling takeout waste with a reusable to-go box program. With a $5 one-time fee, you can participate in the reusable box program:

  1. Whenever you order your food to-go, ask for your meal in a reusable green box.   
  2. Bring back your box the next time you come in, and trade it for a new box with your next order.
  3. Repeat!

Get more tips on how you can reduce your takeout waste by watching this video.

 

Truckee Christmas Tree Collection

christmas tree

Recycle your Christmas tree! The week of January 14 -18, put your Christmas tree out on your regular trash day for collection. Trees should be exposed to obvious view and clear of snow to be collected. Note that collection is free of charge on your regular collection day during the above noted dates, but subject to additional charge prior or thereafter.

  • Trees should be cut into 3-foot segments.
  • All lights, tinsel, ornaments and stands must be removed from the trees.
  • No flocked or painted trees will be accepted.

 

OR, between December 26 and January 18, drop off your Christmas tree anytime at one of the below locations. Place trees inside the TTSD bins. Clean, undecorated trees only, please!

Tahoe Donner Clubhouse
Map & Directions

High School Soccer Fields
Map & Directions

Glenshire Clubhouse
Map & Directions

Truckee Airport (Soaring and Aviation Way)
Map & Directions

 

The Best Way to Get Rid of All Your Holiday Gift Wrap

holiday gift wrap

The winter holidays are here, and they’re brimming with holiday cheer. Unfortunately, the winter holidays are also brimming with waste! Here in the U.S., we generate an extra one million tons of waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Trash might not be at the top of your holiday priorities, but this quick guide will give you all the information you need to dispose of gift wrap correctly — and even help you reduce the waste you create in the first place.

Wrapping Paper

Wrapping paper cannot be recycled because of its glossy coating. Toss it in the trash.

Reduce: Don’t toss wrapping paper after it’s been used — fold it and put it away for next year. If you want to cut down on waste even further, wrap your presents with newspaper or other scrap paper that is not glossy and could be recycled.

You can also consider switching to reusable fabric. Wrapping gifts in fabric is both beautiful and eco-friendly. It’s very popular in Japan, where they call it furoshiki. Download this PDF guide to learn how to wrap anything by furoshiki. Or, check out Pinterest for more fabric-wrapping ideas.

Bows, Ribbon and Tinsel

Bows, ribbon and tinsel cannot be recycled. Toss them in the trash.

Reduce: Save your decorations and reuse them next year! Bows can always be taped onto a new package. You can also add used decorations to your arts and crafts supply for a future project.

Gift Bags

Gift bags aren’t always recyclable. If your gift bag is glossy, that means it’s made from a plastic-paper combination, and it needs to go in the trash. If your gift bag isn’t glossy, and it doesn’t have metallic foil or glitter, it can be recycled. Remove all ribbons and bows before putting it in your recycling.

Reduce: Return your gift bag to the sender to reuse, or save the gift bag and regift it next year. Gift bags can also be handy for storing items around the house or bringing things along on car trips.

Tissue Paper

Tissue paper cannot be recycled. Toss it in the trash.

Reduce: Save your tissue paper for next year if it’s in OK shape. If it’s a little on the battered side, save it to use as packing material the next time you’re sending a package or putting something into storage.

You can also skip buying tissue paper altogether. Try cutting up an old magazine or other recyclable paper (such as regular paper or even newspaper) to use for your gifts instead.

Want more ideas for how to make your holiday eco-friendly? Check out our guide to minimalist gift-giving.