Tag Archives: recycle

Totally Selfish Reasons to Practice Sustainability

Okay, so unpopular opinion time: I love the idea of trying to save the planet, but when it comes right down to it, I typically make decisions that are most convenient for me.

When I started working for the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team (HEVT), I made more of an effort to keep the environment in mind when making daily decisions. I found that practicing sustainability didn’t just help the environment, it also made my life much easier.

Don’t believe me? Here are three totally selfish reasons to practice sustainability:

vtgreen31) More space
Do you know what DOESN’T maximize space in your apartment? The ten thousand plastic grocery bags sitting on your washer and dryer. Carrying a reusable grocery bag immediately solves this problem (and HEVT gives these away for free, so if you need one hit us up). Also, most reusable grocery bags carry more groceries than plastic bags, which means less trips from the car. As for the stack of plastic bags already robbing you of your closet space? Micah’s Backpack and other organizations collect plastic bags so they can use them when packaging food for donation.

2) Money money money (monaaayyyy)
Even with gas prices going down, I still get that sinking feeling when the numbers at the pump go up and I can picture my balance at the bank going down. Opting to walk or take the bus a few times a week can make a large difference. If you are in the market for a new car, hybrids have been proven to save consumers money over time. Unplugging items such as coffee makers when you are not using them can also cut down electricity costs, which creates less of a burden on the environment.

3) Locally-grown food tastes better
Buying local is a good idea all around. Less travel means less pollution and gas consumption. Supporting local business means keeping money in the community. Seeing where your food comes gives you control over what hormones do and do not enter your body. But the biggest reason I buy local? It tastes So. Much. Better. Nothing can compete with a tomato picked fresh off the vine.

vtgreen1Written by Sara Lepley, the communication manager of the Hybrid Electric Vehicle Team of Virginia Tech (HEVT). HEVT competes against 16 other universities in a four year competition in which they transform a 2016 Chevrolet Camaro into a hybrid electric vehicle. Their two headline sponsors, General Motors and the Department of Energy, challenge HEVT to reduce petroleum usage and greenhouse gas effects, while maintaining safety, performance and customer acceptability. They also help in mind cost and innovation. This is Sara’s second year on the team.

Go Green!

Whether you’re motivated by a workplace initiative, a personal goal or the opportunity to teach your children lifelong positive habits, now is a great time to become more environmentally friendly.
Here are three ways your family can create positive environmental change starting today.

Recycle

Research shows that less than 2 percent of waste in the United States is recycled, yet almost half of all trash can be recycled. Packed lunches are one source of waste that most families don’t consider. These are tossed away each afternoon once lunchtime is finished. This is true during the school year and during summer vacation, as some children in daycare have to bring their own lunch.

Instead of throwing out plastic wrappers, collect them and send them to a company like TerraCycle. They turn recycled wrappers into products like tote bags, pencil cases, and even picnic benches! Visit www.terracycle.com for more information.

Protect water resources

Water is one of the most important resources people have, yet every year billions of gallons are needlessly wasted. You can conserve water in your home by teaching your children to take shorter showers or baths, turning off dripping faucets and avoiding letting the water run while they are brushing their teeth.

You can also reduce water waste in your home by investing in water-saving appliances and by reducing or eliminating the practice of watering your lawn, relying on rain to do so instead.

Help plant a tree

Few things are as beautiful as a tall, healthy tree. But trees are more than just a beautiful backdrop, as they are also essential to the environment. Here are four reasons why from the Arbor Day Foundation:

1. Trees help clean the air. They improve the quality of the air you breathe by capturing dust and pollution particles that can affect your health.

2. Trees help fight climate change. As trees grow, they remove greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide from the air, store carbon, and release pure oxygen into the atmosphere.

3. Trees planted along waterways can help filter out chemicals that might otherwise wash to water sources. They also can create stable soil and help prevent soil erosion, flooding and even landslides.

4. Trees properly planted around a home can help lower air conditioning and heating costs by up to 25 percent.

Environmentally friendly habits are easy to pick up and they can be a great way to bond with your children on a shared project while developing lifelong habits. So don’t wait another minute! Start your family down the eco-friendly path today.

Reduce Tailgating Waste

tailgating

Tailgating at your favorite sports events is almost as big a draw as the game itself, with lots of food, lots of fun – and, unfortunately, lots of waste. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, large college stadiums can generate 100 tons of waste per game. But you can help reduce game day waste by taking a few simple steps, such as choosing the right packaging, recycling everything you can, and using tailgating essentials made with recycled plastics.

Here are some tips for minimizing waste at your next tailgate:

* Airtight: Choose airtight plastic packaging, such as zipper bags, factory-sealed pouches, cling wrap, and reusable storage containers to help keep food fresh and free of contaminants that could cause spoilage. This can help reduce the likelihood that food will need to be thrown out.

* Minimalist: Recent innovations are leading to new, minimalist packaging designs that help protect food with less material, helping reduce packaging waste. Look for thin, lightweight pouches and bags for game day foods, such as nuts, cheeses, and deli meats, just to name a few.

* Lightweight: Look for beverages sold in lightweight plastic bottles and containers – they’re shatter-resistant which contributes to safety, they typically use less material than alternatives (resulting in less packaging waste), and they’re accepted for recycling in most communities.

* Recycling: Place clearly labeled bags or bins at your tailgate to remind everyone to recycle used plastic packaging and other recyclables. More and more everyday plastic bottles and containers can be recycled in curbside programs, including beverage bottles, ketchup and mustard bottles, containers for sour cream and dip, deli containers, caps and lids, and more. Even plastic bags and wraps – grocery bags, zipper bags, bread and bun bags, wraps for cases of water and soft drinks – can be returned to participating grocery and retail stores for recycling. Check your community’s website or visit www.iwanttoberecycled.org or www.Earth911.com to find out how to recycle as much as possible in your community.

* Recycled: Finally, seek out products made with recycled plastics. Thanks to increased plastics recycling, it’s never been easier to find tailgating essentials made with recycled plastics, such as coolers, serving utensils, plates, cups and bowls.