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All things green, eco-friendly, and seriously sustainable

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Dixie Somers

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Most people are always on the hunt for green food or ecologically friendly cars to save money, but there are some people who are truly passionate about Earth enough to want to be as respectful as they can be. Being respectful to nature does not always have to be a sacrifice to the wallet either. You can even promote environmental values in things like dental products.

Below are five economically and ecologically friendly products for dental hygiene. Some of them have recycled packaging, others use organic ingredients, and others are biodegradable upon throwing them away, but all of them can help move along green values while being high-quality products.

 

Dr. Ken's Maximum Care Spearmint Cool

As far as an environmental friendly toothpaste goes, this is the one closest to mainstream in terms of taste and packaging, and it was developed by a dentist with the promise to clean as well as any mainstream product. The Environmental Working Group were not necessarily thrilled with it because of the sodium fluoride, but the taste is amazing, and it does get teeth clean. The most interesting ingredients in Dr. Ken's concoction are green tea extract and papaya. This is the kind of toothpaste to help convert people skeptical of the taste and effectiveness of green dental products.

 

Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Mouthwash

There are only natural flavors in this mouthwash. It is flavored with real spearmint and organic tea tree leaf. Next, the great flavor is nutritionally fortified with Vitamin C and witch hazel. Also, this product can proudly say it is completely vegan and was never tested on animals. Some of the many ingredients include sugar alcohol, parabens and much more. Finally, it is an effective product, animal cruelty-free and is completely made from renewable resources.

 

Eco-dent GentleFloss

This floss takes being green and organic very seriously. It is completely vegan. The floss is 100% vegetable wax—not a bit of beeswax has been used. What makes this a truly green product is the box. The box is plastic free (it’s made of rice) and the paper packing is completely ready to recycle. These are just a few details on a fully environmental friendly product.

 

Between! Dental Gum

This all-natural gum is an ideal way to freshen breath, clean teeth and do both while remaining mobile. The ingredients are simple, and the gum is made simply with baking soda, antioxidants and minerals. The flavor added to the gum is natural too, and it depends on what flavor is selected. It is available in cinnamon, mint and wintergreen, and it is sugar-free too. It is dye- and fake-color free on top of everything else. There are so many other wonderful, natural ingredients in this gum.

 

Monte Bianco Natural Toothbrush

Eco-Dent is the brand responsible for this toothbrush, and the company has an amazing reputation for releasing green and economically friendly products. The bristles are recycled, and the brush comes with a unique, purpose serving gimmick. Your toothbrush should be replaced every three months according to dentistry.com, and the Monte Bianco makes this task easy by having an easily removable, replaceable head.

 

The five products above are affordable and cost-effective, and provide incredible health benefits, all while being very friendly to the environment. It is important to combine positive financial responsibility and the responsibility to our planet. Visit a dentist like Family First Dentistry LLC if you have any questions about the product you’re using.

Dixie Somers

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Let's be honest, we spend a lot of time in the bathroom. It's our first stop in the morning and our last stop before bed. It is the room in which we perform all of our self-care routines and maintain our health and cleanliness. But, it is also the room in which we produce the most waste. From excessive water usage to immense paper waste and chemical cleaners, the refuse never seems to end. Luckily, transforming your bathroom into an eco-friendly paradise is easy. Once you decide to make the change, you can create a green and healthy room that will benefit you and the environment. Here are some do-it-yourself home improvement tips and tricks to give your bathroom the green makeover it needs.

 

1. Use Recycled Toilet Paper

Next time you are shopping at the grocery store, make sure you pick up toilet paper made from recycled materials. According to Greenpeace, if every family in America bought just one roll of recycled toilet paper, it could save 400,000 trees. Check out great brands like Green Forest and 365 for toilet paper that is not made from virgin boreal forest trees and does not use toxic chlorine compounds.

 

2. Install a Low-flow Toilet

Did you know that your toilet consumes approximately 27% of the total water used in your home? That’s more than any other appliance! Replacing your old toilet with a newer, low-flow model can save up to 5.5 gallons per flush. But, if buying a new toilet is not in your budget right now, you can still go green by installing a dual-flusher. This gives you a choice of how much water to use per flush based on the type of waste. DIY kits comes pretty inexpensively and can be used to update your current toilet.

 

3. Install a Low-flow Shower Head

In the same vein as tip number 2, installing a low-flow shower head can help save water. Experts say taking a short shower can cut down on water usage, but if you are someone who likes a longer shower, installing a low-flow shower head can cut down your water usage without lowering the water pressure. In addition to the water you will be saving, you will also be saving on your heating bill. This upgrade is inexpensive and simple to install yourself, but contact a company like Puget Sound Plumbing if you have any concerns.

 

4. Avoid Disposable Clean-Up Products

It can be very tempting, but try to steer clear from disposable cleaning products. Toilet paper should be the only disposable product in your eco-friendly bathroom. Instead of paper towels and disposable wet wipes, use washable towels and rags to clean off surfaces. In fact, nowadays more and more cleaners are being sold in refillable containers. Instead of throwing out a perfectly usable spray bottle and buying a new one, you can refill and reuse the original.

 

5. Use Green or Homemade Cleaners

Why is it that the room we use to clean ourselves is often the dirtiest and most filled with chemicals? By purchasing green and organic products, not only are you creating a smaller environmental footprint, but you are also ensuring your body's health and safety. Conventional cleaning products are often full of chemicals and toxic preservatives which are hazardous to you and the planet. Brands like Mrs. Meyers, Method, and Seventh Generation all make great eco-friendly cleaning products. You could also take it one step further and create your own homemade, eco-friendly cleaning products. Simple ingredients from your kitchen such as baking soda, vinegar, club soda, and lemon juice can go a long way.

Using these tips, the process of making your bathroom greener is cost-effective and simple. Whether it be installing low-flow appliances or purchasing natural cleaning products, there are many ways to do your part and go green. Making the switch to an eco-friendly bathroom will help make your home and the Earth a healthier, safer, and greener place to live.

Dixie Somers

Driving can have a hugely negative impact on your carbon footprint, and while we all strive to reduce our personal drain on the environment, there are some things we struggle to do without. While you work toward a world that lives in harmony with earth, there are some things you can do to reduce your car’s carbon footprint.

Share a Car

Most families have more than one car, and more often than not, each car is intended for the transportation of one person at a time. Getting rid of one car and sharing the other can greatly reduce your carbon footprint and save you money. If life with one car is not doable right now, try to carpool as much as possible and save the other car for emergencies only.

Trade Up

Trade in your gas guzzler for a more fuel efficient green vehicle. Not only will you be helping the environment, but you’ll be saving money on gas as well. Check out the EPA’s site on green vehicles to help you make the best choice for your family.

Drive More Sensibly

The better you drive, the less gas you waste. Instead of hitting the gas, accelerate slowly and maintain a steady speed. That also includes not driving faster than you need to. These simple tips can improve your gas mileage by 33%, not to mention make the road safer for you and others.

Maintenance

Proper maintenance can also improve your carbon footprint. Simple acts like getting an engine tune up from a company like Natrad can keep your car running smoothly and keep it from emitting more CO2 than it should. Take it a step further and replace all of your filters at least once a year.

Air Up

Airing up your tires and keeping them inflated to the proper level can increase your fuel efficiency and save over 400 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Roll Down the Windows

Instead of cranking up the air, roll down the windows. Not only will this reduce your fuel consumption, but it will increase your happy mood. A little fresh air and vitamin D does good for the mind and body.

So many people live by the idea that, if we can never reduce our carbon footprint to a completely sustainable level, we shouldn’t bother trying. While it may be true that some pollution is inevitable, it is also true that we can make a difference and lessen the global impact one step at a time—and the first step is making eco-friendly choices in your own home.

Dixie Somers

Do you want your home to be environmentally-friendly? Not only is that better for the environment, but it can also save you a lot of money in terms of utilities. It may even improve your home values if you ever decide to sell or take out an equity line of credit—home buyers today are increasingly interested in green renovations. Here are a few of the best modern green renovations for homeowners.

1. Smart Energy Use

New smart energy systems can monitor the amount of electricity you use and let you control all of your appliances and electronics through your smartphone. Monitoring your energy usage enables you to cut back on your spending if it gets too high, while the ability to turn off appliances and electronics on the fly means that you'll never forget something on. These new smart energy systems are usually Wi-Fi configured so they can be used from anywhere, and they can be easily installed on a home's existing electricity system, making them convenient as well.

2. Eco-Friendly Water Filtration

Water filtration systems are incredibly important for an eco-friendly home. Without water filtration and treatment, a fair amount of households rely upon bottled water. Americans use about 50 billion plastic water bottles each year. Not only does bottled water introduce unnecessary plastics into the environment, but it also takes waters from areas that may desperately need it, upsetting the local ecosystems. Water is also costly to ship from the bottling plants, which further increases its carbon footprint. Nevertheless, tap water is often not entirely safe to drink. A filtration system will give a homeowner the option of safely drinking water from their home. Visit a professional at Rooter Pro Plumbing for more information about the water filtration systems available for your home.

3. Indoor Composting Systems

Indoor composting systems are state-of-the-art kitchen renovations with no odor or mess. These composting systems take your kitchen food waste and turn it into a nutritious compost to grow herbs and other plant directly within your kitchen. Not only does this improve your food's sustainability, but it also reduces the amount of leftovers you waste -- and replaces a garbage disposal almost entirely. An indoor composting system is run by small and harmless parasites that are able to compost your kitchen materials without the traditional odors of composting. These systems are generally built directly into a kitchen island.

These are just three of the best green innovations for your home. There are dozens of ways that you can lower your home's carbon footprint, from simply improving your home's insulation to installing advanced smart home systems.

Dixie Somers
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Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons via Halfrain

When a home leaks energy, the result is typically higher energy costs and causing your central heat and air to work harder than it should. For this reason, many homeowners actively seek for practical ways to improve the energy efficiency of their home. Keeping more of your home's heat and air inside will lead to lower energy costs. In the interest of helping homeowners make their home more energy efficient, here are four excellent tips on how to keep energy leaks from eating into your wallet:

Create a Draft Snake

The area at the base of a door leading outside the home is a major issue for a lot of home owners. This is more noticeable in the winter time, when a stream of cold air is pouring in through the open space between the door and the floor. One action a homeowner can take is to create a draft-snake to place in front of the base of their front or back door to prevent air flow. Making a draft-snake is relatively easy and fun. Simply sew up a long tunnel shaped piece of material, fill it with some type of cloth or foam padding, and sew up the end. The draft-snake should be long enough by measure to cover the entire base of the door it will be blocking. Some people even go an extra step and make their draft-snake look like a stuffed snake or other type of stuffed animal for decorative purposes.

Energy Loss through Sliding Glass Doors

Another major source of massive energy loss is energy loss that occurs through a sliding glass door. Because the outside of the home is usually at a different temperature than the inside of the home, the glass becomes an effective medium of energy transfer. Since the surface of the glass is relatively large by area, this allows for more energy transfer than a small window. When the frame of a sliding glass door is metal, this will allow heat loss through conduction during the winter months. One action a home owner can take to remedy this problem is to switch out the aluminum frame for a fiberglass frame, thus eliminating a significant amount of conductive heat loss. To prevent even further thermal loss, another step a home owner can take is to use a thicker insulated curtain to cover the sliding glass door with. Using a reflective material to reflect incoming sunlight back outside during the summer months will help prevent external heating from making your home too warm as well.

Sealing Cracks and Replacing Old Windows

It is inevitable that cracks will form around aging window frames and sills. To prevent energy from leaking through these cracks, it is possible to purchase calking agents to help fill and cover any cracks around a window. Installing seals at closing points on an old window is another action a home owner can take to help keep leaks from being a problem. If a home owner wants to update their home, installing quality energy efficient windows is another way to improve your homes energy efficiency. Newer frames and seals around the closure points of windows will prevent energy leakage for years to come. Installing double pained glazed windows will allow for a thermal gap between the two pains that prevents energy loss from occurring. Professionals who offer Winter Park, FL shutters suggest that you use lighter window treatments as well, in order to keep the home cool and energy efficient.

Insulation

Insulation is an important key to preventing a home from experiencing energy loss. Poorly insulated areas, such as walls, the attic and a crawl space will inevitably create situations for major energy loss to occur. In fact, since heat rises, an attic that is not well insulated will allow heat to escape through the roof at an alarming rate; consequently, applying a layer of insulation in an attic is one of the most cost effective methods for preventing heat energy loss in winter.

Energy has numerous opportunities to leak out of your home; however, by taking a few simple steps, you can significantly reduce the amount of energy loss your home is experiencing. By reducing energy loss, you will begin to see that your heating and cooling bills will reduce significantly. If you have difficulty identifying ways energy is leaking from your home, it may be necessary to contact a professional who specializes in inspecting and troubleshooting energy leak issues associated with residential homes.

Dixie Somers

Renewable energy has a long history. Since the mid-1950s, it has been a boiler plate for future energy initiatives. Designs for wind, geothermal and solar energy can be traced back to scientific concepts of men like Nicola Tesla and Thomas Edison. As it continues to gain supporters and traction, the quest for renewable energy sources isn’t slowing down any time soon. In 2015, renewable energy will become an even bigger deal for several reasons.

Reduction in Costs of Renewable Energy

Formerly, the cost to convert to renewable energy was prohibitive. The average cost to purchase solar panels for the average home in 1990 was approximately $30 to $60,000. For larger, commercial buildings, the costs reached as high as $1 million, depending on the size of the building. The reason for the higher costs was due to having to import solar panels from foreign countries of manufacture, namely China. Wind turbines have always been less expensive to purchase, although the volume of power supplied determines the size of the turbines and their power. Geothermal energy has been used in Scandinavia for more than two decades. Scandinavian countries have access to natural hot springs and spas that provide a large source of geothermal energy.

More Choices in Renewable Energy

With the advent of greater hi-tech advancements, consumers have enjoyed more choice in renewable energy. For example, in 2015, many homeowners can convert to renewable that will make their homes totally independent of electric grids. This has already been done by Michael Strizky of Hopewell NJ, a former NASA employee and inventor. He built his home to be completely independent of fossil fuel energy. In addition to solar panels, his home also is installed with hydrogen and fuel cells. For the average homeowner, however, solar energy conversions are far less costly than in the past. For example, many solar energy companies offer several types of conversion plans:

. Purchase of panels

. Lease to buy

. Lease via annual contract

. Free in exchange for a regular monthly solar utility charge

Advancements in Renewable Energy Production

In 2015, it is more likely that conversions to renewable energy will be a result of the advancements of the past five years. With the knowledge that fuel cells can contain sustainable amounts of energy, the sizes of these cells will inevitably make it possible for greater energy storage and less dependency on fossil fuels. In addition, many European scientists in Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden have developed full solar arrays that allow countries to produce more than 60% of their country's total energy supply. In 2014, solar energy production in Germany rose to nearly 50% according to several sources. German technology in renewables has outpaced much of the rest of the countries of the world. This type of progress shows that 2015 may be the year that renewable energy is finally validated as a viable alternative to fossil fuel energy.

Long Term, Proven Track Record of Effective Energy

Perhaps, the best testament to the effectiveness of renewable energy is those facilities, commercial, industrial and governmental, that invested in renewable energy since its advent in the energy industry. Many of these facilities installed solar panels in the late 1990s and have now exchanged the panels for newer generations that withstand winds up to 120 mph, where formerly the wind integrity was 90 mph.

Increase in Investments for Renewable Energy

In addition to the physical investments in renewable energy, the banking giant, Goldman Sachs, in 2013, reported on its intention to increase investments in clean, renewable energy. In 2015, interest in these investments will become an even bigger deal as large corporations invest in clean energy initiatives, and get behind large projects.

As you can see, the search for renewable energy isn’t just one of the latest trends that will soon fade. As technology advances, and large companies get on board, we are continually finding new resources for renewable energy. The information for this article was provided by the professionals of LFG Technologies who specialize in renewable energy projects that convert landfill gas into energy.

Dixie Somers
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Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons via Hernan Pinera

Our world is more prone to both man-made and natural disasters than any time in history, but technology is moving forward even faster. New materials and methods of testing allow us to build buildings which are modern, safe, and environmentally friendly. Here are four ways that new technology is making our buildings and structures safer and better protected than ever before.

Metamaterials

Earthquakes are destructive because of the wavelengths their shock waves emit. Metamaterials are special because they are capable of taking advantage of properties not seen in nature, and can "cloak" buildings by modifying the soil to divert the energy from earthquakes. Most importantly, the technology could be used to prevent the destruction of important infrastructure such as the national power grid, water transportation systems, and skyscrapers.

Non-destructive Testing

This is a technique often employed to examine the composition and durability of a variety of materials with which buildings are constructed. Companies like 20/20 NDT Inc. who specialize in non-destructive testing in Fort St. John, will use non-invasive techniques to inspect structures for even the smallest problems in order to prevent against disasters and make adjustments for safety. New methods of non-destructive testing (NDT) are becoming available because of technological advancements in the sciences of ultrasonic, radiography, and low coherence interferometry. There has also been a wave of tiny new hand-held devices which have contributed to the convenience of testing. NDT is making the process of constructing safer buildings much cheaper as a result.

3D Printing

Homes have been constructed using concrete for a long time, and age is a major factor in the long-term viability of the substance. 3D printing uses concrete as well, but is designed to use specialized additives which some tests have shown to be ten times as durable while lasting twice as long as traditional materials. As long as the building undergoes the same stringent building regulations as those that aren't 3D printed, experts maintain the building is safer.

Smart Materials

Like metamaterials, smart materials exhibit properties which can help prevent damage due to natural disasters or external threats such as terrorism. New shape memory alloys can endure physical stress without breaking, and bounce back to their original form when the stress is reduced. This technology would be especially helpful for updating bridges and creating a more modern alternative to pavement.

In the future, these same technologies will allow us to build taller, stronger buildings which are nearly impossible to topple through conventional means. The real question is when this will come to fruition—since metamaterials, 3D printing, and smart materials are still years away from providing the speed and cost-effectiveness we require to push the technologies mainstream.

Dixie Somers
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Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons via Mackenzie

Anyone who lives in a city is aware of the negative environmental impacts of the transportation industry. Most cars on the road today still have internal combustion engines that emit large amounts of carbon and other pollutants. Even seemingly clean alternatives, such as electric subways and trains, still release tons of carbon annually. In all, according to the EPA, transportation was responsible for emission of just under two thousand million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2012, just in the U.S. Coupled with the struggle to reduce emissions is the growing population both in the U.S. (0.77% annually) and globally (just over 1% annually). Thus, the transportation industry is in a paradox of increased demand, concurrent with a need for greener practices. Additionally, many "green" technologies are projected to not be available until 2020 or later. So, what's being done to remedy the situation?

Lesser Evils

As mentioned above, cars are an obvious source of emissions. Large amounts of carbon are emitted to transport a few individuals or less. Therefore, a common solution, especially in large urban areas, is the implementation of policies encouraging people to use public transportation. Electric trains and subways do produce emissions, but are negligible compared to gas powered vehicles. But, objectively, how much greener are these forms of transport? According to a 2008 analysis of carbon pathways in transportation, switching from car to rail transportation saves an average of 106g of carbon dioxide per kilometer traveled. This may sound insignificant. But, according to The Washington Post, the average American's commute is 25 miles. So, if we extrapolate and convert this figure, the average American would reduce his or her annual carbon emissions by 2444 lbs, assuming a five day a week commute.

Tech Savvy Trucking

Given that gas cars won't be off the road in the foreseeable future, there's another solution to carbon emissions from transportation that can be applied on the road. Between integrative software from IBM and a growing demand from inefficient tractor trailers and trucks, the carbon emissions due to trucking are projected to decrease significantly in the coming years.

The transportation industry is facing growing demand in addition to growing pressure to go green. However, an industry this large takes time to implement widespread changes. While many green technologies are still being developed, proactive measures can be taken. The transportation industry needs help. But it has solutions, both on the road and off. The information for this article was provided by the professionals of 99 Truck Parts & Industrial Equipment Ltd., who specialize in truck parts in Surrey.

Dixie Somers

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons via Georgie Pauwels

There is a boom happening in America, one that rivals the Industrial Revolution of the 1800's. It is quiet, but the American manufacturing sector is making a comeback in a huge way. The reasons for this can be debated, but several factors appear to be self-evident. No matter the 'primary' causes, it can't be denied that manufacturing in America is on its way back up.

Energy

Cheap energy is now and always has been the key to industrial success. Today, that energy is natural gas and oil. The invention of fracking technology and new methods for extracting oil from difficult places have had a massive effect on energy. Two rarely discusses aspects of this energy bonanza are conservation and recycling. Just a quick scan of the home page of the The US Department of Energy, shows the diversity and strength of the American energy sector.

Rising Costs Overseas

It happens every time industry moves off-shore for 'greener' (or cheaper) pastures. They end up returning to the US because those low prices don't last long and Americans are the largest consumers in the world. This was true when Taiwan and Japan received the benefits of U.S. manufacturing. It is happening now in China and India.

Efficiency

Although many CEOs will cry publicly that Americans are not as good as other workers, the American worker is more efficient than we might think. Susan Adams' article in Forbes magazine demonstrates this well, as she discusses the world’s most productive countries. And American workers are also some of the happiest according to Adams.

Business Focus

Regardless of which party is in control in Washington or the state capitols, there is a strong focus on the needs and concerns of business. From taxes and training to incentives and infrastructure, the governing bodies in the US are spending a huge amount of resources to help keep companies profitable. A look at the billions spent in Texas alone proves this.

The New Industrial Revolution is (for the most part) cleaner than the last one and is lacking some of the darker sides, like child labor and slavery. But it has all the earmarks of helping to set the US up for another century of manufacturing domination. Information for this article was provided by the professionals of Advantage Manufacturing Ltd., who specialize in aluminum fabrication in Edmonton.

Dixie Somers
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Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons via Timothy Takemoto

Recycling. It's often a controversial topic, but regardless of anyone's stance on it, there is proof that recycling makes good business sense. Reusing waste is a logical way to 'kill many birds with one stone'. Most materials, when recycled, can save time and energy that would otherwise be expended in freshly manufacturing the same type of material. This, combined with the drive to preserve our ecosystems, helps make modern recycling a multi-billion dollar industry. Here’s a look at why the recycling industry is so profitable and will only continue to grow:

Lowering Production Costs

According to the Keep America Beautiful site, recycling a single ton of steel saves almost two tons of coal and iron ore. Even in purely logistical terms, a great deal of money is saved: moving three thousand tons of materials means fuel bought and workers paid. In 2009, five million tons of steel were recovered. That means that approximately twenty million tons of coal and ore were never shipped or burned. The money saved on production costs allows the recycler to sell the reclaimed metal at a lower cost than would otherwise be possible.

Minimizing Cost of Disposal

Closer to home, neighborhood recycling programs have been able to reduce costs of waste disposal by more than $50 per ton on some occasions. This makes sense, because recycling collection companies can sell the materials they collect (particularly metals). This allows them to charge clients less, as well as reducing environmental damage by keeping garbage out of landfills.

Wide-Spread Benefits

Connected to the household aspect of recycling is that of professionals such as plumbers, electricians, and general contractors. These people work with many recyclable materials, especially those who renovate old houses and other such buildings. Copper piping, old wiring, left-over metals, and paper can all be recycled, often at a profit to the contractor.

Recycling in the 21st Century

Another growing problem is electronic waste. Many still-functioning components and metals are lost when old and broken electronics are thrown away. However, in recent years, the importance of recycling has drawn more attention. Large electronic stores offer "trade-in" discounts: Turning in old electronics can get consumers credit towards new items. Making recycling directly profitable to consumers has gone a long way towards reducing waste.

Recycling Creates Jobs

With the difficulties in the economy today, one aspect of recycling stands out. Recycling creates jobs. Wherever there is a demand, someone will build a business to answer that demand. Recycling demand means business, business means jobs, and jobs mean money. The American entrepreneurial spirit has been turning garbage into money for decades and it's not likely to stop anytime soon.

Whatever your opinion on the practice of recycling, there are plenty of reasons why it is now a multi-billion industry and will continue to grow at this rate. The information for this article was provided by the professionals of King Recycling & Waste Disposal Inc., who offer recycling and disposal bin services in Toronto.