Sunday, February 28, 2010

Recycling Bin and Garbage Can go Head-to-Head

I'll bet many of you are finding that your recycling bin fills up much faster than your garbage can. Well, I'll probably get called out for my recycling and garbage choices, but here is a photo of tonight's recycling and garbage. The garbage can only goes out once per week. Remember back in the day when the garbage cans in DC were larger than the recycling bins? Maybe DC will keep going and start having twice-per-week recycling and once-per-week garbage collection?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Best Rechargeable Batteries

Really, rechargeable batteries have improved, retain their charge much longer, and, according to Tree Hugger, are much less damaging than disposable batteries to the environment over the entire life of the battery. They are also a good price. It is essential that one gets the right batteries (most recommended: hybrid Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) cells) and a good charger.

According to Metaefficient, here are the best rechargeable batteries:
1) Eneloop Rechargeable Batteries by Sanyo
2) Hybrio Rechargeable Batteries by Uniross

Here are the best chargers:
1) LaCrosse Technology BC-900 Alpha Battery Charger
2) Ansmann Deluxe “Energy 8″ Charger
3) Maha PowerEx “Ultimate Professional” Charger

Remember that rechargeable batteries must be recycled, rather than dumped. Luckily, DC has many options for this: Radio Shack at Eastern Market and other locations found at Call2Recycle.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How to deal with E-Waste

I think we have to get beyond the handwringing about e-recycling (but it all goes to Africa, but it is never recycled, but but but) and think about concrete steps to improve the situation. The Guardian is reporting on a new UN report stating that the amount of electronic waste being created around the world may increase by as much as 500% within 10 years as consumer demand for products outpaces recycling capabilities. This increased e-waste poses a serious threat to health and the environment.

How to deal with this?
1) Urge local governments and consumers to recycle old electronics, rather than dump them. It's best to have these electronics reused in some way, such as through Gazelle, BuyMyTronics, Apple, or Dell. The DC government also collects e-cycling every Saturday.
2) Support local informal recycling, where valuable materials are scavenged for resale and reuse. Use our very own FreeCycle.
3) Make producers take back their electronics for recycling. The European Union is doing this through its WEEE Directive.
4) Make producers responsible for dealing with environmental damage caused by production, which would motivate them to redesign the production of computers. Most of the environmental damage is done in the very production of computers.
5) Create recycling facilities, including in developing countries. Computer Aid and Digital Links deal with end-of-life computer recycling in Africa.
6) Enforce anti-dumping laws.
7) Any other ideas?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Airline and Airport Recycling

As many of you probably already saw in the Post, Green America came out with a report on the sorry state of recycling in the airline industry. Out of all the airlines, Delta and Virgin America earned the highest rating in the group, a B-, while United and US Air failed. No airline recycles all of the major recyclables: aluminum cans, glass, plastic, paper. The basic take away message is that 1) we should pressure the airlines to recycle and 2) in the meantime, if the flight attendant says they don't recycle, take your items for recycling off the plane and recycle them in the airport or at home.

Part of the problem is that most airports don't have recycling facilities. Earlier, I reported that in the DC area, the far-and-away leader in recycling is BWI Airport. BWI recycling went from less than 5% of waste in 2004 to 28% in 2006, which is extraordinary since only one or two US airports have over 25% and the percentage of total waste that is recycled in the United States is 32.5%. The BWI recycling program saves approximately $15,000 per year. Local recycling rules should apply to airports and airlines, which would legally force them to recycle.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Update on Hill Battery Recycling

I dropped by the Radio Shack at Eastern Market Metro to pick up used batteries they are collecting for us. They gave me a huge bag of batteries, which I delivered to our battery recycler and neighbor Cathy. It was so great to get this huge bag! Keep dropping off your batteries at Radio Shack, Brita water filters at Hill's Kitchen, and wine corks at Hayden's. See the addresses of these locations in the General DC Recycling Info column over to the right.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Compost Kitchen Scraps

One way to keep a huge amount of material from landfills is to compost. DC Urban Gardeners has a great website about composting: Composting 101 for DC Residents. However, many in urban areas may not have the space to compost. Common Good City Farm on 3rd and V Streets NW will be collecting kitchen scraps and other compostable materials after February when they reopen the farm. Common Good City Farm is an amazing place. Since January 2007, they have provided over 400 bags of fresh produce to low-income DC families, taught over 600 DC residents in workshops, engaged over 500 DC school children, and hosted over 1000 volunteers. I'll bet that some DC residents compost, even though they don't have enough space to use their compost. Is there some place where people could donate their compost? To the DC city government? To local neighborhood associations?