Tuesday, April 20, 2010

From The Source - Eco Manners & Recycling

BHM: What do you believe are the most important ways we can show good manners towards the environment?

ES: I think it's just a simple question of respect. If you respect something, you think about your impact. You consider your actions in a different way. We can't all be treehuggers all the time, but we can think about the choices we're making, and look for ways to act in more sustainable ways.

BHM: How do you handle someone who is not environmentally conscious?

ES: I'm not always environmentally conscious! I mean, I'm conscious, but there are times when I just want a hamburger (organic, free-range, of course). I try to lead by example, and not to judge. I think the judgmental part of the sustainability movement has really hindered its growth. Acting more consciously should be fun, not a chore. I try to inspire that feeling in others through what I do personally, as well as through what I do with http://www.ecostiletto.com/.

BHM: If one person in a family is eco-friendly and the others are not, is there a judicious way in which you all can cohabitate peacefully?

ES: Absolutely! My father is a great example. He lives with us three days a week and has done so for the past four years (he commutes for work from Santa Fe, NM). I've told him time and time again how the composter works, and what's recyclable, yet each time he leaves I find bread in the compost bin, and plastic in the trash. I just do my best to be in the kitchen when he's there so I can say, "Not that bin, Dad. The other one!" Gently, of course. Eventually he'll remember!

BHM: In honor of Earth Day, we thought you could share with us a few of the frequently asked questions you receive regarding recycling.

ES: Certainly, even the most seasoned ecoista can be stumped by a bottle cap or a straw. Does it go in the blue bin or the black? If I’m recycling, do I need to wash it first? Here's some info that may help to make it a bit easier.

What do those arrows and numbers on the bottom of plastic bottles mean?

That’s the “chasing arrow” symbol, and the number in the middle indicates the type of plastic the container is made from. Typically, numbers one and two are the most widely recyclable plastics, but there are exceptions: For example, one through seven are recyclable in the City of Phoenix, but in Scottsdale (a suburb of Phoenix), they only take one (polyethylene terephthalate or PET, used for soda bottles) and two (high-density polyethylene or HDPE, used for milk and detergent bottles). Some recycling programs even take Stryofoam!

Why should I wash out my recycling?

First, to remove possible contaminants and second to keep your recycling bin from getting stinky. However, you won’t prevent a can from being recycled if you leave it dirty.

Can I recycle small pieces of plastic? What about bottle caps?

Yes, you can recycle small pieces of plastic like bottle tops. Bottle caps are metal, but they’re typically lined with plastic—items made from mixed materials can’t be recycled because the materials can’t be separated. Same thing goes for juice boxes and coated cardboard drink containers—although there are new versions specially marked for recycling or composting, which are indicated on the label.

I’m buying a soda. Bottle or can?

Can, definitely. Most cans contain 50% or more recycled aluminum. And a used aluminum can is recycled and back on the grocery shelf as a new can in as little as 60 days.

I recycle about half of my trash. Could I be doing more?

You’re doing great! According to the EPA, nearly 75% of the 6,000 pounds of trash the average American household generates each year is recyclable and/or compostable, yet we typically only recycle and compost 30%.

Founder and editor of EcoStiletto.com and MommyGreenest.com, Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff is a writer, producer and spokesperson who represents a new vision of eco-friendly living.

As a special offer for Beverly Hills Manners readers, EcoStiletto is offering one month free membership ($1.99 value). Members are automatically entered to win the more than $1,000 in eco-swag that EcoStiletto gives away each and every month to Members. Sign up by clicking here