Think of the Animals

By Robert Grigg As trash continues to be collected, it continues to be taken somewhere. Of the 250 million tons of trash discarded by Americans each year, plenty of it unfortunately finds its way into the habitat of wild animals. Not only does poorly discarded garbage attract animals to areas often times far more dangerous to them, but the garbage itself can often times prove to be dangerous to interact with- just think of how birds often get tangled in plastic six pack rings or raccoons getting cut on the sharp edges of aluminum cans. However, there are things you can do to help cut down on injured critters: Recycling plastics and cans instead of throwing them away Retrieve fishing hooks and if you need to cut your line, collect as much of it as possible Secure trash or objects in the back of pick-up trucks, especially at higher speeds Cutting open plastic rings into safer, smaller pieces Secure trash-cans with animal-proof measures – Even if it’s just a rock on top of the lid Compost or throw out less unfinished foodstuffs which attract animals in the first place Discard trash in the proper places – don’t litter! Use a reusable straw or turn down straws at restaurants Smokers, utilize ashtrays and receptacles – Cigarettes are the most littered object on earth Always crush drink cans after rinsing quickly with water Wrap chewing gum in something and always see it into the trash can. Rinse out cans, cups, and jars – Hungry animals will get their heads stuck for a bite Carry reusable shopping bags! Plastic and paper are both very harmful to many animals These are among just a few things that you can do to cut down on animal suffering. Vixster strives to keep your garbage and recycling secure, and we ensure that your waste gets to the proper place without taking shortcuts. Please visit www.humanesociety.org for more information, or feel free to look up your own…

How Are Things Recycled?

By Robert Grigg People are well aware that you should recycle more often than not, but many don’t quite know the process in which their recyclables are repurposed. Let’s explore what happens after we take your paper, glass, and plastic waste to the proper facilities. PAPER and CARDBOARD: Collection and separation of papers Pulping (paper fibers are ground up and gradually cleaned into raw material) De-inking (dissolve the paper in water, aerate it, and bleach it) GLASS: Collection, delivery, and separation of various containers Sorting by color and washing Glass is crushed and melted together into molds to for further use PLASTIC Collection and delivery Sorting by different color and plastic compositions (7 different types of compounds) Ground and shredded to small flakes, then washed Melt flakes into pellets (raw material for production process) Of course, this list is a more simplified and streamlined explanation of the whole processes involved, but hopefully this article provides a better understanding of what repurposing centers actually do with your recyclable waste after companies like Vixster deliver it. Feel free to look up more information about these processes on your…

Paper or Plastic?

By Robert Grigg & Benjamin Forcier For years, this question has plagued the minds of grocery shoppers everywhere. Without a reusable bag, shoppers must choose from one of two evils but the choice isn’t as clear as it seems. First off, both bag types must be manufactured and require transportation, already putting a hefty carbon footprint on them. Looking at the manufacturing side of things, plastic looks much better than paper bags. Manufacturing and shipping Paper bags requires the use of wood, twenty times the amount of water, almost twice as much energy, and seven times as much space than paper bags do while plastic bag production emits much less pollution since the gas used in production is captured, frozen, and stored before burning into the atmosphere. Regarding the use of space, paper is outperformed again by plastic – for every paper bag being shipped in a truck or sitting in a landfill, seven plastic bags could fit in the same space. While uglier during production, the second half of a paper bag’s life is a little more eco-friendly than that of its plastic counterpart. First of all, Paper bags will degrade faster outside of a landfill and pose little threat to wildlife that comes in proximity to it. When a plastic bag ends up outside of a landfill, they will decompose very slowly and – like a rock eventually turns to sand – break apart into Microplastics which have recently been observed in massive quantities in the guts of aquatic creatures. These tiny fragments are extremely pervasive and nearly impossible to clean up without special equipment. While consuming microplastics in small amounts isn’t harmful, As creatures at the bottom of the food chain consume small increments of plastic, Larger predators such as fish, sharks, and whales will accumulate a frighteningly large concentration of plastic in their gut. Considering how easy bags are to recycle, Plastic falls short as special requirements prevent plastic shopping bags from being recycled with other traditional plastics. Paper bags can go in the bin alongside with the usual paper recycling, leading to a higher rate of recycling amongst paper-users Considering all of this, there is no clear consensus for which is best – it depends on where the bags end up. If one plans on putting in the extra effort to recycle them or if they can guaruntee their plastic bags will end up in a landfill, plastic bags are the friendlier choice. If one doesn’t plan on ensuring proper disposal/ recycling or if they live near bodies of water – paper is the best choice. While this post’s sources were pulled from Reason.org, OceanConservancy.org, and The National Ocean Service, one may want to look up the benefits and drawbacks of each to see what better fits your region and lifestyle. However, to avoid this dreaded question entirely, the best option is still to get in the habit of using cloth…

What Is Hazardous Waste?

By Benjamin Forcier Hazardous waste is dfined by the EPA as waste with properties that make it dangerous or capable of having a harmful effect on human health or the environment. Hazardous waste can take many forms and is produced from an array of sources. Knowing what constitutes hazardous waste and how to dispose of different types can help us limit the environmental impact of harmful effects brought on by improper disposal. The EPA uses 4 characteristics to categorize hazardous wastes meaning waste is deemed hazardous when it has: Ignitability, or something flammable Corrosivity, or something that can rust or decompmose Reactivity, or something explosive Toxicity, or something poisonous Now one might think that this doesn’t apply to them – maybe it seems like this is something industries should worry about – but there are plenty of sources for hazardous waste in the average household. Below are some of the more common examples that could be found in one’s home: Stains, varnishes, & paint Moth balls Wood & metal polish Cooking oil/ grease Drain cleaners Fire extinguishers Glass cleaners Chlorine bleach Batteries Kerosene/ lighter fluid Automotive fluids Nail Polish remover Pesticides & herbicides Paint Rug deodorizer Perscription drugs If you are disposing of any of these items or other materials you’re unsure about, be sure to check the instructions on the product label for how to properly dispose of them. If you’re still unsure, or wish to learn more about the hazardous waste in your home, feel free to visit the EPA web page on household hazardous…

Reducing Waste in the Yard

By Robert Grigg & Benjamin Forcier As temperatures rise and springtime ushers in nature’s beauty, the garden is calling out to you. Putting in a little bit of hard work and time can result in having one’s own personal grocery store right outside-or possibly even inside- their home. The yard is also beckoning for some love as well, now that it’s finally growing again. However, with the increase of yard work and gardening comes an increase in related waste. Let’s explore some methods to keep the yeardwork eco-friendly, reduce waste, and promote healthy plants & animals. Choosing to plant flora that is native to your area attracts wildlife like birds and butterflies, and since they are used to the local climate;they reduce the need for fertilizers, pesticides, and extra watering. Trimming only the top third of your grass (lowers strain on regrowth ensures that deep, healthy roots can grow, reducing the need for fertilizer and trimmings acquired via mowing) Using organic mulch like wood chips, bark, leaves, and pine needles can help limit the growth of weeds in flower beds and retains the temperature and moisture of soil. Substituting grass sections of your lawn for mulch can greatly reduce water usage and make maintenance easier. While mowing the lawn: compost or leave grass clippings in your yard as they will help keep it moist and healthy And whether you’re doing yard or garden work, composting is a great help as well: Large portion of current landfill items are entirely compostable Provides free, or next to free, fertilizer for garden or lawn Makes use of scraps from both the tabletop and from yard or garden work While we at Vixster strive to provide a quality, flexible service picking up your trash and recycling, we also hope that our customers or other readers use sustainable tactics to lower the amount of trash they ever need to throw away. For more information on lawn care, gardening, or landscaping, please visit http://ucanr.edu/ or feel free to look up information on your…