Friday, April 4, 2008

Going Green, Part Three

(clipart, copyright http://www.monroecounty.gov/des/solid-waste.php)

For part Three of our "Going Green" series, I wanted to talk about a few different things. One thing that is important to consider is what happens when the lifespan of a product is complete? Many things can't be thrown into the landfill, such as technology products - computers, tv's, batteries, etc. It is important to know what happens after you've finished using it. Some general things to know are these: Is it recyclable? But, before we tackle that one, lets learn about some of the different types of recycling.
1. "recycling" - this is the type of recycling that you hear about on a regular basis. Soda cans, newspapers, magazines, glass and plastics; these are all types of recycling that we all probably have taken part in at some point. I'm sure many of your towns have recycling programs that are easy to participate in. While many items can be recycled, there are different types of plastics, for instance, that can be recycled in different ways. In "recycling", items are typically ground down to their basic form (take glass, for example) and remade into other products similar to what was recycled. For example, take a glass bottle. You take it to the recycling center, it is ground down to sand, then goes through the process of becoming a glass bottle again.
2. "downcycling" - in downcycling, a product which is recycled is made into a product of typically inferior quality. Tires that are recycled are a good example of this. You take old tires, they are ground up and turned into mulch for playgrounds or something similar.


Other than recycling, there are other characteristics that are important when shopping for decor items. How do you take care of it? If you have an item that requires chemically-heavy cleaning processes, but is produced in an eco-friendly manner, perhaps it is time for them manufacturer to think of a new way to allow for cleaning. Chemical cleaners let off gases that can be harmful to you and your environment and typically offset any environmental "attaboys" of the original purchase.

Sometimes, these chemical gases can simply be a by-product of the item itself. One common example is treated wood products. They can let off gases such as formaldehyde (which is used to preserve things for biology class, for instance). Do you really want that in your home or on your deck? I wouldn't. There are many ways you can determine this information before purchasing. A few websites that are helpful are here and here.

After the strange weather we have had in this part of the country, it really makes us all wonder - are our actions truly contributing to global warming? Even if they're not, what is it going to hurt to live a little greener?
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