Ethan Malone

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About Ethan Malone

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  • Gender Male
  • Location San Francisco
  • Interests family, upcycling, recycling, hiking, biking, backpacking, traveling

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  1. Dealing with Hard-To-Recycle Materials

    Just about everyone has at least a few things in their home that are difficult to recycle, with some of the hardest things being old CDs and DVDs, mattresses, and household hazardous waste. These are also things that for the most part cannot simply be thrown in the trash. CDs and DVDs are made of plastic and do not break down in landfills, mattresses are simply too big just to throw in the trash, and household hazardous wastes are too dangerous to carelessly throw away. Fortunately, it is still possible to recycle these items; it will just take a little extra work. Recycling CD's and DVD's With the rise of streaming video and downloadable music, CD and DVD use has been steadily declining. This will soon lead to a surplus of obsolete compact discs that need to be dealt with. Unfortunately, these discs simply cannot be mixed in with the rest of a home's recyclable plastic. CDs and DVDs are made from type 7 plastic, the most toxic kind of plastic available. Type 7 plastics contain polylactides and polycarbonates, some of which are too toxic for the average recycling center to handle. Instead of simply being thrown in the trash, old CDs and DVDs should be sent to the CD Recycling Center of America. There is no charge for this recycling service, although the center does accept cash donations. Recycling Mattresses Although it is illegal to just leave a used mattress on the street corner, it's understandable why so many people do exactly that. There aren't many opportunities to recycle an old mattress, and most donation centers won't take mattresses unless they are brand new. Still, there are some options available when it comes to recycling old mattresses. A mattress that is still in decent condition can be offered for free on Craigslist or similar sites, and there are some recycling centers that can disassemble a mattress and reuse the majority of its components. Some people even opt to do this themselves; it's much easier to recycle pieces of springs and fabric than it is to find a way to reuse an entire mattress. Recycling Household Hazardous Waste No matter how "green" a family may be, they will still probably use some toxic household products. Unused paint, chemical cleaners can leach toxic materials into the soil or groundwater if they go into a landfill or down the drain. These should never be thrown in the trash, but they can be dropped off at certain recycling centers that accept hazardous materials. Some services even offer to pick up household toxic materials from homes for a small fee. There are such centers and services in most major cities, and they can be found with a Google search. Sources:
  2. Recently, a new bill that would ban plastic grocery bags in California passed a legislative committee. Now, lobbyists are banding together to fight the ban that would put plastic bag manufacturers out of business and cost jobs. Supporters of the bill argue that "a statewide bag ban is needed to wipe out a particularly noxious form of litter that kills marine life in the Pacific Ocean and costs Californians $25 million a year to collect and bury." (1) First Ban of Its Kind If California's plastic bag ban becomes law, it will become the first measure of its kind in the US. While some cities in California and Hawaii have banned plastic bags, the measure has not yet been successful at the state level. While environmentalists have pushed hard for the bill, there are many critics that believe the step is over-reaching. Since plastic bags are cheaper than grocery store bags, the move will be costly for supermarkets throughout the state. Both in-state and out-of-state manufacturers are now lobbying strongly against this bill that companies say will lead to job loss. The Grocers' Association, however, supports the ban. According to the association, the ban will eliminate local restrictions they now face. Financial Support for Plastic Bag Manufacturers The California bag ban will provide some funding for bag companies to make multiple-use plastic bags that customers must pay for instead of the thin plastic bags they currently produce. According to reports, California currently uses more than 10 billion plastic bags each year. Lobbyists for the bag makers state that the ban will effectively lead to tremendous job loss and hurt these companies substantially. A Nation of Plastic Bag Users Although many grocers in California and the rest of the nation also hand out paper bags to customers who prefer them, many people do choose plastic bags because they can be used for other purposes. Many people reuse the bags for packing lunches, lining small trash cans, removing dog waste, and even as packing material for shipping. California suggests that the ban will finally push citizens into using reusable bags. The problem with plastic bags is that they contribute to an already big waste problem for the nation. "In 2011, Americans generated about 250 million tons of trash." (2) The US has long had a waste problem. Solid waste endangers the environment. Cheap plastic grocery store plastic bags are part of the problem. Their proper disposal costs the state millions; however, many of these bags are not disposed of properly and this leads to more toxicity for the environment. Californians can help combat the problem by embracing reusable bags and by disposing of their own waste properly. After all, plastic bags are not the only environmental culprits. Be sure that other harmful items do not wind up in landfills by ensuring that they are taken to facilities that properly dispose of toxic trash like electronics and chemicals. Sources 1. Contra Costa Times, "Epic environmental battle: Plastic bag ban opponents up the ante in Sacramento," 2. Fast Haul, “Wasted in America”
  3. Recycling in California Benefits Business

    California has initiated some ambitious policies like its zero-waste initiative. Both businesses and residents are working within their communities to reduce waste and drastically limit--if not eliminate--the amount of material they send to landfills. While it's environmentally sound to embrace policies that encourage recycling and the reuse of materials, there are also other benefits for the state to consider. Areas like Union City, Berkeley, and Alameda County are already discovering that recycling is good business for the state and its residents. (Source: Recycling Creates Jobs It's well known that recycling creates jobs. In times of shifting economies, a healthy employment sector is vital. Landfills certainly employ people, but not nearly as many as the recycling sector can. A state like California is always thinking about the state of its workforce. A sector that creates jobs cannot be ignored. Recycling Benefits the Economy California has already obtained significant economic benefits thanks to recycling. The city of Los Angeles alone has generated roughly $600 million in employment and sales per year. Experts assert that California's local economies benefit from a similar sum thanks to recycling programs and venues. Many people throughout the state have learned how important recycling can be to the economy as a whole. Recycling Leads to Greater Sustainability The benefits of recycling in the state of California have an inspirational effect. Once Californians began to witness the benefits of recycling, they've been encouraged to embrace other aspects of sustainability. Groups throughout the state are working toward greener technologies that can help the state meet its clean energy goals, for instance. (Source: Recycling Leads to Product Innovation Many manufacturers throughout the state are developing new products using recycled materials. Not only do they recycle materials that might have wound up in landfills, they save money in the process by not using new resources during their manufacturing process. Companies that are dedicated to sustainable practices are also finding that many consumers are interested to work with environmentally responsible businesses. Recycling Leads to Energy Savings Californians are working to conserve energy by recycling. Did you know that recycling a single soda pop can conserves enough energy to power a television for up to three hours? Recycling paper, steel, and glass can also lead to incredible energy savings. At a time when energy costs are high as states transition to new energy sources, conserving energy is of vital importance. Recycling is Good for the Future Many people choose to recycle today in order to protect the environment for the generations to come. Reducing landfill waste by recycling ensures that no more land will be set aside as dumping ground and that less harmful gas will be released into the air. Recycling is a way to respect the environment so that it remains healthy for all. Be sure you do your part to contribute to California's recycling initiatives. If everyone does their part, the state will reach its ambitious goals. The result will also be a more environmentally safe state.
  4. We can all make a difference in the quality of life today and for those generations as yet to come. If you're looking for a way to make a positive impact on the earth, it's a good idea to start out by taking steps to help the environment by recycling. When it comes to the health of the planet, as with the health of our children, it all starts at home. A Healthy Planet Starts at Home The side-effects of climate change, from monster storms (e.g., Super Storm Sandy, to the Fukushima tsunami), have brought the concept of global warming, and the connection between that and our way of life, onto center stage. While scientists debate how long we have before efforts to reverse the widespread damaging consequences of our current global warming trend, there is wide consensus that each of us – in the industrial world - can do something now and that we must, if we care about the quality of life future generations will experience. As a Native American proverb goes, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” Curbside Recycling Many cities now offer curbside recycling receptacles, but the trick is to get into the habit of using them, this includes bringing objects that are recyclable home that you’ve used on the road. Objects can have an “afterlife” through recycling. For example, house siding, lawn furniture, small appliances, and pie pans, are made from recycled aluminum. Insulation for sleeping bags and ski jackets, flower pots, and plastic lumber can be produced from recycled plastic. Many objects commonly found in landfills are 100% recyclable and reusable; by doing our part, local residents can decrease the impact of landfills in their communities and across the globe. In addition, while composting is, for some, an acquired taste, it is one worth pursuing. Soil erosion is a pernicious reality, as global food demand continues to escalate, attaining unprecedented levels. Through composting what would otherwise be shipped to landfill, residents can help protect the soil quality of their agricultural belts, which are essential to the long-term sustainability of current and future populations. If your city or municipality does not offer curbside recycling and composting services, there are a host of licensed and insured recycling haulers that are certified “green businesses” who will take your recyclables to verified recyclers or charities and even produce documentation for your tax records. Recycling Centers For those without a regular curbside recycling program, recycling centers offer a great alternative to dumping your recyclables. Going online individuals and businesses can find the nearest centers and, if desired, junk haulers that partner with them to divert trash from landfill. While some might charge a nominal fee, as in the case of some e-waste, many will actually pay you, as they are resellers who profit from donations made. Individuals can buddy up with others in their community to host a community recycling day, in which everyone can drop things at a central place (e.g., a local community center or church) and be picked up by a contracted hauler for a fraction of the cost of doing so alone. Sources: Mary Gormandy White, “Ways to Help The Environment by Recycling,” Love To Know, David Singer, “Wasted in America,” Fast Haul,
  5. Get The Junk Outta My Face

    Only four short years ago, Sonoma County, California residents were subjected to junk hauling trucks rumbling through their neighborhoods on the way to the Mecham Road dump, but that's changed as junk and trash haulers are diverting trash to the new destination 60 miles away, Solano County's Potrero Hills Landfill. The Mecham Road dump was closed due to concerns it could contaminate groundwater. Potrero Hills Landfill is expected expanded shortly. The controversy of the proposed expansion mirrors the rationale for the closure of the first landfill and many others, namely, landfills pose threats to the integrity of local waterways, due to leaks, and the additional tighter federal regulations on landfill development, presents an undesirable ultimatum: close those that cannot be adequately improved or expand those that can. Three landfills in three different counties have been closed down (or are due to be). Of those that remain, they are expanded in order to offset those losses - bring haulers from farther and farther afield. "There's a lot more consolidation," said Kathy Cote, environmental services manager with the city of Fremont. California. And worse yet, despite the investment in expansion, many landfills, like the Tri-Cities Landfill, which is expected to reach maximum capacity in the next two years, are reaching their threshold. Where is all that Trash Going? The expense and challenges of building new landfills, is leading to greater consolidation and replacing city landfills with regional ones. Moving to regional landfills with greater capacities is a temporary fix and while it alleviates some issues it raises others, some of which could be more hazardous. The first of these is that larger landfills are often older and less expensive. Because these "megadumps" are so cheap they also attract trash from other counties, essentially short-circuiting incentives to recycle. Another side-effect is that these more remote locations means longer trash hauling trips, increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Yet another other side-effect, is that because these sites are "out of sight, out of mind", it becomes even more attractive to use them, rather than more environmentally sustainable options, such as recycling or composting facilities, according to David Tam, an environmental advocate with the group Sustainability, Parks, Recycling And Wildlife Legal Defense Fund (SPRAWLDEF). Jumping Through Hoops Things move slowly in the world of waste regulation. Landfill and waste managers have to work to keep on point with changing regulations, as areas once considered "unimportant", have become environmentally protected, and applicable regulations for existing and proposed landfill sites can take years to navigate. One example of this is the grassroots, citizen-driven Save the Bay campaign, which has resulted in efforts to protect what were originally wetlands and marshes. Efforts such as these are among the factors that have suspended new landfill approval for nearly two decades. And across the United States, it is nearly as difficult to obtain approval for a new landfill. Where Did it Begin and Where Will it All End? It was the late 80s that saw broad federal regulations that altered the landfill landscape. Remaining in business meant that landfill operators had to monitor emissions and install impermeable liners. These additional costs resulted in a precipitous drop from 8,100 nationwide, to roughly 2,200 today, in the course of two decades. Rather than new landfills and the public outcry they can create - they hoped that by expanding existing ones, the impact of landfills in local communities would be relatively less. Though the Zero Waste campaign - diverting all waste away from landfill to compost, reuse, or recycling facilities - has experienced increasing public support, there will always be a need for landfill, caution landfill operators, and those conduits between citizens and them, trash haulers. "We're on a path toward zero waste but we're not there yet, and there's a finite amount of landfill space in the Bay Area," said Recology spokesman Adam Alberti. "A big part of it is that consumers need to change their behaviors - not just in recycling, but in consumption." Sources: David Singer, "San Francisco Junk Hauling and Trash Removal Services," Fast Haul, Kelly Zito, "Bay Area Landfills either Closing or Expanding," SF Gate,
  6. Growth of the Green Movement

    The Growth of the Green Movement infographic created by Fast Haul, highlights the roots and development of the green movement in the United States, popular environmental ordinances that have been enacted in certain regions and are now spreading across the nation, and the top ranked "greenest" cities in the U.S. today. Happy Earth Day everyone!
  7. Hello from San Francisco!

    I've just recently joined this community and am really excited to be here as I can tell there are many passionate environmentalist that I can identify with. To introduce myself, I am happily married with two children living in San Francisco, CA. I am fortunate to live in a city that takes environmental action seriously. San Francisco effort to be zero waste by 2020, the banning of plastic bags, and mandatory recycling and composting are some of the initiatives that makes this city the "greenest" city in the U.S. by Corporate Knights (source). It's great to hear from members around the world on how their country are making a positive impact on the environment. Hope to hear more about it!
  8. Hello fasthaulsocial, welcome to Green Blog! :)