Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Zero Waste Household

Is it possible to have zero waste? In our households, this sounds practically impossible. However, there is hope in that not all waste is garbage. Recoverable products (paper, plastics, and organic material) represent 82 percent of material disposed in landfills according to a CNN article, Downtown Atlanta recycles self into a Zero Waste Zone. While the Zero Waste Zone focuses on businesses, the practice of recycling and composting can be applied to our households. Three ways of separating solid waste will help us empty our trash cans.

1. Recycle Paper, Plastic, Glass, and Metal

Recycling options are growing fast especially for paper, plastic, glass, and metal. Urban areas admittedly have more convenient options available from curbside pick-up to drop-off locations at local businesses or schools. With a little research, a convenient drop-off location might be just around the corner from your house. Some areas no longer require sorting items, making it easier than ever to recycle. There are companies also offering to recycle printer cartridges and other household electronics.

2. Person to Person Reuse of Household Items

With a little creativity, the remaining products that might be thrown in the trash can be reused around the house or passed along to someone else. Clothing can be shared among families or donated to charity. Socks with holes are useful as cleaning rags. Garage sales and Craigslist are both great ways to find a new home for items that still hold value. Reuse of items at the end of the day simply saves money and helps our neighbor.

3. Composting Food Waste

After recycling food containers and reusing household items, the majority of solid waste remaining in the trash is food scraps as well as summer yard waste including leaves and grass clippings. Composting is a natural process of allowing organic material to decompose over time into a nutrient rich fertilizer used in gardening. There are a variety of options available on the market to compost from a compact container sold at Target that can be stored indoors to rotating barrels placed in the yard. With a sizable yard, composting can be as easy as designating a location to pile the organic material or build your own storage container from wood.

After applying one or more of the three practices, post the amount of waste removed from your trash. How close can you get to zero household waste after applying all three steps?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

105 Mayors sign Action Challenge for Childern and Families

The National League of Cities, through its Institute for Youth, Education, and Families, is celebrating a milestone this month for the number of mayors signing The Majors' Action Challenge for Children and Families. Since the unveiling of the call to action in November 2008, over 100 mayors are committed to improve the outcome for every child by focusing on four key areas: opportunities to learn and grow, a safe neighborhood to call home, a healthy lifestyle and environment, and a financially fit family in which to thrive. Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper is among the outspoken advocates.

There is an exceptional quote included in the beginning of The Majors' Action Challenge for Children and Families. "Strong cities are built on a foundation of strong families and empowered neighborhoods that support every child. The steps we take to strengthen families and improve the outcomes for children and youth are among the most important investments we make in the health and vibrancy of our communities."

The sustainability of our cities encompasses more than the natural and built environment. The family is an essential contributor to ensure each community endures over time. The Majors' Action Challenge is a positive step towards supporting children and the family.

Check to see if your city's mayor has signed on.