Posts Tagged ‘waste’

Wordless Wednesday



Ask the Sustainability Coordinator

Naturally I get lots of questions about sustainability and the environment. So I thought that from time to time I would share some of the most commonly asked questions with you. 

Q: Can I recycle this cup from _____________ (insert the name of a fast food restaurant here)?

 A: If the cup has a waxy coating (see picture to the right) it cannot be recycled. These cups are made of multiple types of materials and that makes it difficult for the recycler to identify the components.

If the cup does not have a waxy surface (see picture to the left), it can be recycled. To be sure, take a look at the bottom of the cup, there you should see the three chasing arrows (recycling) symbol. This means that the cup (or lid) can be recycled. Plastic straws can be recycled as well!

Photo Source: Dental Excellence and Make and Takes

Rustle the Leaf

Meatless Monday Update:

For lunch I had veggie lover’s pizza. A couple of my co-workers decided to embrace their inner vegetarian and wanted to give Meatless Monday a whirl, so we decided to have pizza. For dinner, we went out so I ordered a salad. Not bad for my second attempt at Meatless Monday. Looking forward to what next week has to offer. I also appreciate all the support I’ve received on my journey. Please continue to send your tips and recipes so that I can share them with others. If you’re a vegetarian or just trying Meatless Monday let me know, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Rustle the Leaf

I was introduced to Rustle the Leaf while teaching a community college course. My students loved to share the cartoon with me and I thought I’d return the favor.

Rustle the Leaf uses a comic strip to communicate essential environmental themes and truths. The goal of the creators is to facilitate the sharing of environmental views in an engaging, nonconfrontational manner and to introduce and reinforce environmental education with people of all ages.

 We hope that you enjoy Rustle……..Rustle the Leaf cartoon

Source: Rustle the Leaf

Worldess Wednesday

Source: The Huffington Post

Wordless Wednesday




Can I recycle plastic sandwich bags and saran wrap?  features an “Earth Talk” column which answers questions about the environment. A Sustainable Life will occasionally share some of these Q&A’s with you.

 Dear EarthTalk: Where do you recycle plastic stuff like sandwich bags, Saran wrap and plastic grocery store wrappers? Can they just go in with other plastics in the recycling bin? There never seems to be any information available about this.

— Renee La-Fountaine, Lake Hughes, CA

Clinging plastic like Saran wrap is difficult to recycle because the resin it contains that gives it wrapping power cannot be extracted without massive amounts of energy -­ more than it would take to make it new from scratch. And given that it’s usually soiled with some kind of food, used plastic wrap should always just go right into the trash. Pictured: A 1961 magazine ad for Handi-Wrap.
© Pink Ponk Studios, courtesy Flickr

The reason you don‘t hear much about recycling these types of plastic films is that most municipalities don‘t take back items intended to wrap food. One exception may be sandwich bags, which are made from easy-to-recycle polyethylene, as long as any hard (i.e. “Ziploc”) components are removed and they are rinsed free of any food debris or stains.

For that matter, if you are going to the trouble to wash them, you may as well dry and reuse them at home a few times before relegating them to the recycling bin. There are even small countertop racks available for hanging plastic bags to dry before reusing them.

Clinging plastic like Saran wrap is problematic for recyclers because the resin that it contains (to give it wrapping power) cannot be re-extracted without massive amounts of energy—more than it takes to make it new from scratch. And given that it‘s usually soiled with some kind of food, used plastic wrap should always just go right into the trash.

Other non-recyclable plastic films include dark-colored plastic bags, bags with handles or drawstrings, and anything else designed to be wrapped around food. Since you can‘t even rinse or recycle these kinds of plastics, it‘s better to avoid them altogether and invest in some reusable containers to store leftovers.

Another option is to use plastic grocery store shopping bags (though they are increasingly being phased out) to wrap your food leftovers in. Many municipalities and most stores that provide such bags accept them for recycling, so once you‘re done with them they can be recycled or returned to the store, after which they can be melted down and incorporated into weather- and rot-resistant window and door frames, decking (such as Trex), palettes, pipes and other long-lasting hard goods. Like with sandwich and other bags you intend to recycle, make sure plastic grocery bags are clean before you turn them in for recycling.

If you are a Ziploc bag or plastic wrap fanatic but want to do the right thing by the environment, look for plastic food storage film or bags made from biodegradable polymers. Some popular brand names to keep an eye out for at Whole Foods and elsewhere are Eco Wrap, EcoFlex and BioBag. These plastics—some of which are made from agricultural scraps left over from corn crops—can go right in with yard waste or other compostables and will break down over time accordingly just like cardboard or food scraps. With time major brands will undoubtedly be offering similar products.

But even though there may in fact be “greener” plastic out there, reducing our reliance on disposable bags altogether should be the ultimate goal. Luckily many grocery chains are hip to greening their own operations and image, and are giving away or selling for a nominal amount reusable canvas shopping bags so customers don‘t have to choose between wasting plastic and paper at the checkout line.

Thanks to The Good Human for introducing me to this column.

Takeout Containers: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Daily Green  has devised a list of the best (and worst) takeout containers in terms of the environment. As I read the article the first thing that came to mind was the aluminum container in our fridge that holds leftovers from our favorite Mexican Restaurant. I also often wonder about how much pollution is caused by those cute little boxes from Chinese restaurants. But I was surprised to learn of other containers which are bad for the environment.

1 Pint Chinese / Asian Take out Container 500/CS

  1. Styrofoam (clamshell packaging, soup containers, coffee cups)-The Worst 
  2. Plastic Containers (deli salad containers, yogurt cups, ice cream dishes) 
  3. Plastic/Paper Bags (no explanation needed) 
  4. Cardboard Boxes (chinese take-out, birthday cake) 
  5. Bio-Products (Socrates Café) 
  6. Aluminum Foil (burrito wrapping, baked potatoes) 
  7. Recycled Paper Products (napkins, paper towels) 
  8. Edible Containers made from food (bread bowl, ice cream cone, tortilla bowl/taco salad) 
  9. Inedible containers made from food (banana leaves, cornhusk wrapped tamale) 
  10. Bring Your Own (canvas bags, tupperware)-The Best


 As with any product there is good and bad….pros and cons. But how often do you consider how your food is packaged? Have you ever thought to ask that your baked potato come to your table aluminum foil free…or to bring your own container to the salad bar?

Photos: The WebstaurantStore, Keetsa