Smart Appliances To Save Energy and Conserve Water

smart thermostat

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Conserving energy doesn’t mean you have to eat dinner with the lights off or turn the heat all the way down in the winter. Thanks to a few advances in technology, conserving energy is so easy you might even forget you’re doing it.

Save on Your Heating and Cooling Bills

There’s no need to stay too chilly in winter or too hot in summer anymore. Smart thermostats can easily control a heating and cooling system based on your preferences. The system adjusts the temperature automatically based on who is home and what temperature they prefer. These devices are considered “learning systems” which means they can program themselves over time. A learning thermostat costs about $250 up front but can pay itself back in energy savings in just two to three years.

Curtail Power-Hungry Appliances

Many appliances use energy when turned off — and can even use as much energy as when turned on. However, with the use of smart outlets, you are able to automatically shut off power to connected devices and appliances not in use, such as at night or when nobody is home. Though a smart outlet won’t generally save you a noticeable amount on your electric bill, the savings can add up when used to strategically turn off unused appliances that draw a significant amount of power.

Conserve Water

Water-saving devices such as smart sprinkler controllers are able to respond to local weather patterns and shut themselves off if an incoming storm is likely to provide the water your plants need. This can reduce your water bill and prevent lawns or garden beds from flooding.

Keep in mind that not all smart gadgets will save you money. It’s important to do the math and consider other energy saving alternatives that may offer a better return on investment. For instance, using energy efficient light bulbs and being diligent about turning off the lights in unoccupied rooms will likely save more energy and money than installing smart light switches.


Usando Dispositivos Inteligentes Para Conservar Energía y Agua


Conservando energía no significa tener que comer sin luces o apagar totalmente el calentamiento en el invierno. Gracias a algunos avances tecnológicos, conservando energía es tan simple que puedes hasta olvidar que lo estás haciendo.

Ahorra Dinero en tu Calentamiento y Refrescamiento

Ya no hay necesidad de estar muy frío en el invierno o muy caliente en el verano. Termostatos inteligentes pueden fácilmente controlar sistemas de calefacción y refrigeración dependiendo de tus preferencias. El sistema ajusta automáticamente la temperatura dependiendo de quién está en la casa y su temperatura preferida. Estos aparatos se consideran sistemas de aprendizaje porque pueden programarse ellos mismos a lo largo del tiempo. Y aunque estos aparatos cuestan alrededor de $250, pueden pagar por ellos mismos en tan solo dos o tres años con los ahorros de energía.

Limite los Vampiros Eléctricos

Muchos aparatos usan energía cuando están apagados — y hasta pueden usar la misma cantidad de energía cómo si estuvieran prendidos. Sin embargo, con el uso de enchufes inteligentes, puedes automáticamente apagar la energía a aparatos que no estén en uso, cómo en la noche o cuando nadie está en casa. Y aunque un enchufe inteligente por sí mismo no te ahorrará tanto dinero en tu factura de electricidad, los ahorros se pueden acumular cuando lo usas para estratégicamente apagar aparatos que usan cantidades excesivas de energía.

Conserva Agua

Aparatos que ahorran agua como las controladores de regaderas inteligentes pueden responder al clima local y apagarse ellos mismos si viene lluvia que le dará el agua que tus plantas necesitan. Esto puede reducir tu factura de agua y prevenir que se ahogue tu jardín.

Ten en cuenta que no todos los aparatos inteligentes te ahorrarán dinero. Es importante hacer las cuentas y considerar otras alternativas que ahorran energía y te puedan ofrecer un mejor retorno de inversión. Por ejemplo, usando luces de bajo consumo y siendo diligente con apagar luces en cuartos desocupados probablemente te ahorrará más energía y dinero que instalar interruptores inteligentes de luz.

Fresh Start to 2021: Out with Plastic and In with Reuse

Veggies in reusable bag

Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí.

With the start of the New Year, chances are you may have some new resolutions in mind. Why not make a reusable centered, low-plastic lifestyle one of those goals? From takeout dining to buying in bulk, we have seven options to help you reduce your dependence on plastic. We suggest trying one or two of them at first to keep your resolution achievable. Once those are second nature you can try more!

  1. When shopping, always ask yourself: Do I really need this? And, is there a more sustainable way I can get this item? This check-in is a great way to think about what is truly necessary and evaluate whether there are better alternatives without plastic and other packaging waste.
  2. With California’s plastic bag ban back in place, the majority of stores are again allowing customers to bring reusable bags with them. Using a reusable bag is an easy way to curtail some unnecessary plastic waste. Call ahead to make sure the store you’re planning to shop at is allowing reusable bags into the store.
  3. When shopping for groceries, buy bulk whenever you can. Stopping at the bulk food store, butcher shop or farmers market allows you to buy exactly how much food you need while also cutting back on plastic waste from packaging – a double win!
  4. Make home-cooked meals with real ingredients by shopping on the perimeter of a store and avoiding the middle aisles where food tends to be over packaged to preserve shelf-life.
  5. If you’re ordering takeout to eat at home, let the restaurant or delivery service know that you do not want plastic cutlery or a plastic bag. Fed up with all the foam and plastic takeout waste? Try making more meals at home.
  6. Commit with an accountability-buddy. Although we might not be able to gather together right now, we can set goals together! Share your commitment with friends and check in with each other regularly about new creative ways to slim down your plastic use.
  7. Assess your progress weekly to check for any improvements you can make. A quick glance into your trash bin can provide the feedback you need.

The National Institutes of Health estimates that impacts of COVID-19 will increase plastic demands by nearly 60%, so what better time to cut out unnecessary plastic in your life than now to do your part?


Empezando el 2021 con un Adiós al Plástico


Con el comienzo de Año Nuevo, es probable que tengas nuevos propósitos en mente. ¿Por qué no hacer una de tus metas un estilo de vida basado en la reutilización? Desde ordenando comida para llevar hasta comprando a granel, te presentamos siete opciones para ayudarte a reducir tu dependencia del plástico. Sugerimos escogiendo sólo uno o dos consejos para empezar para que sea más manejable. Cuando eso se haga instinto, puedes experimentar con más.

  1. Cuando estés haciendo compras, pregúntate a ti mismo: ¿De veras necesito esto? Y, ¿existe una forma más sustentable que pueda conseguirlo? Estas preguntas son una buena manera de identificar lo que realmente es necesario y si hay mejores alternativas sin plástico y otro embalaje que resulta en desechos innecesarios.
  2. Con la prohibición de bolsas plásticas en California ya en efecto otra vez, la mayoría de tiendas ya están dejando entrar bolsas reutilizables. Usando una bolsa reutilizable es una manera fácil de evitar el uso innecesario de plástico. Llama para confirmar que la tienda que planeas visitar sí está aceptando bolsas reutilizables.
  3. Cuándo vas para el mandado, compra a granel cuando puedas. Comprando a granel, en la carnicería o en un mercado abierto te deja comprar la cantidad exacta de comida que necesitas mientras cortas tu uso de plástico – ¡una doble ganancia!
  4. Prepara comida en casa con ingredientes naturales y compra al borde de la tienda, evitando los pasillos de en medio donde la comida suele ser embalada excesivamente.
  5. Si estás ordenando comida para llevar, deja el restaurante o servicio de entrega saber que no quieres una bolsa plástica o utensilios desechables. Y si estás cansado de todo el embalaje plástico y poliestireno, puedes hacer una meta de preparar más comida en la casa.
  6. Busca un amigo y motivense entre ustedes a ser más responsables con lo que consumen. Aunque no podemos juntarnos ahora, podemos hacer y alcanzar metas juntos. Comparte tu compromiso a menos plástico con tus amigos y compartanse ideas para reducir su uso de plástico.
  7. Evalúa tu progreso cada semana para ver si puedes hacer alguna mejoría. Un vistazo en tu bote de basura te ayudará a ver cómo vas progresando.

Los Institutos Nacionales de Salud calculan que los impactos de COVID-19 aumentarán la demanda por plástico casi 60% y ¿que mejor tiempo de hacer tu parte y cortar plástico innecesario en tu vida?

Options for Zero Waste Grocery Shopping

bulk nuts in cloth bag

Para leer este artículo en español, haga clic aquí.

One of the most visible sources of household trash is the packaging that our food comes in. These days it’s hard to avoid plastic and other single-use packaging while shopping because it’s used to package nearly everything. However, there are certain services and grocery shopping techniques that can help cut way back on packaging.

Zero Waste Grocery Delivery Services

Some companies have jumped on the increasing popularity of grocery delivery services, but with a twist — everything that is delivered to your door comes in completely reusable packaging and there is no waste.

It’s been likened to the modern-day version of the milkman, as essentially, you order your food online, receive it at your doorstep in reusable containers, and then return those same containers to receive more upon your next order. This greatly cuts down on packaging waste because the same material can be used many times before being disposed of. In addition, grocery delivery is also — on average — more eco-friendly from a transportation perspective, than driving to the store.

Zero Grocery, Loop and The Wally Shop are a few examples of these emerging online grocery services. While these services are not yet available in all areas, they continue to serve more communities and offer more products all the time.

Community Supported Agriculture

Another option that has existed for decades is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), which allows you to receive deliveries of fresh produce from a local farm. Some companies such as Imperfect Foods even reclaim millions of pounds of perfectly good “ugly” produce that would normally be tossed out and deliver it to consumers at a reduced cost.

Local Stores

The grocery store you already shop at can even be a place to find zero waste packaged foods. For instance, almost the entire produce area of the store can be zero waste if you bring a reusable produce bag instead of using the store provided plastic bags. Bulk bins are another zero waste option for daily staples without any packaging waste. Call ahead because not all stores are using bulk bins during the pandemic.

Ultimately, zero waste grocery delivery services, CSAs and even your local store provide ways to get the food you need while reducing your waste footprint.


Cómo Hacer Compras de Mandado de forma Cero Residuo


Una de las más visibles causas de basura del hogar es el embalaje en el que viene nuestra comida. Hoy en día puede ser difícil evitar comprar cosas que vienen envasadas en plástico y otros materiales diseñadas para un solo uso. Sin embargo, existen ciertos servicios y técnicas de hacer compras que pueden ayudar a cortar el desperdicio de embalaje.

Entrega de Mandado a Domicilio sin Desperdicio

Algunas empresas han empezado a seguir la popularidad de entrega de mandado a domicilio, pero con una diferencia — toda la comida que viene a tu puerta viene envasada en materiales completamente reutilizables y no hay ningún desperdicio.

Se compara a la forma moderna del lechero, porque, tú haces tu pedido de comida de forma digital, y luego lo recibes a tu puerta en contenedores reutilizables que puedes regresar para recibir más en tu próximo orden. Y porque estos contenedores se pueden usar muchas veces antes de tener que ser tirados, esto ayuda bastante a reducir el desperdicio de embalaje. Además, el servicio de mandado a domicilio hasta puede ser más sustentable en el medio de transporte cuando comparado al manejar a la tienda.

“Zero Grocery”, “Loop” y “The Wally Shop” son algunos ejemplos de estos servicios emergentes. Y aun cuando estos servicios no se encuentran en todos lados, continúan a servir más comunidades y ofrecer más productos todo el tiempo.

Agricultura Sostenida por la Comunidad

Otra opción que ha existido por décadas es la Agricultura Sostenida por la Comunidad (CSA), que te permite recibir frutas y verduras frescas de una granja local. Algunas empresas cómo “Imperfect Foods” hasta rescatan millones de libras de productos frescos “feos” que normalmente serían tirados y los entregan a consumidores a un precio reducido.

Tiendas Locales

La tienda donde ya haces compras de mandado puede ser un lugar para encontrar comidas envasadas de forma cero residuo. Por ejemplo, casi todo el área de productos frescos de la tienda puede ser cero residuo si traes tu bolsa reutilizable en vez de usar las bolsas de plástico ofrecidas en la tienda. Comprar a granel es otra opción para comprar alimentos básicos sin cualquier desperdicio.

Llame primero porque no todas las tiendas están dejando comprar a granel con la pandemia.

En conclusión, servicio de mandado a domiclio, CSAs y hasta tu tienda local pueden ofrecer maneras para recibir la comida que necesitas sin tantos desechos.

NOTICE: No Treated Wood Waste Beginning Jan. 1, 2021

Due to expiring state waivers, treated wood waste (TWW ) will be categorized as material that can no longer be accepted at Class 2 Landfill sites. Solid Waste Systems Transfer Station and Recycling Center will no longer accept TWW for disposal after December 31, 2020. 

What is Treated Wood Waste (TWW)?

TWW is any wood treated with chemical preservatives to protect from insects and decay. This includes (but is not limited to) items such as:

  • Fence posts
  • Sill plates
  • Landscape timber
  • Guardrails
  • Decking
  • Patio wood/posts
  • Pilings
  • Railroad ties
  • and more.

More Information:
For questions regarding disposal of treated wood waste, contact the Department  of Toxic Substances Control at www.dtsc.ca.gov/toxics-in-products/treated-wood-waste/


AVlSO: NO SE ACEPTARAN RESIDUOS DE MADERA PRENSADA A PARTIR DEL 1 DE ENERO DE 2021

Las nuevas leyes estatales clasifican los residues de madera prensada (Treated Wood Waste, TWW) como material que ya no puede ser aceptado en los vertederos de clase 2. Solid Waste Systems Transfer Station y Recycling Center no aceptarán más TWW después del 31 de diciembre de 2020. 

¿Qué son los residuos de madera prensada?

TWW es cualquier madera tratada con conservantes químicos para protegerla de los insectos y la descomposición. Esto incluye (pero no se limita a) artículos como:

  • Los postes de las cercas
  • Madera para patios/postes
  • Vigas de madera laminada
  • Barandillas
  • Entablados
  • Placas de umbral
  • Pilotes
  • Traviesas
  • ya más

Mas lnformación:
Para preguntas relacionadas con la eliminación de residues de madera tratada, póngase en contacto con el Departamento de Control de Sustancias Tóxicas en www.dtsc.ca.gov/toxics-in-products/treated-wood-waste/

Christmas Tree Recycling

three christmas trees

The Do’s and Don’ts of Christmas Tree Recycling.

Recycling your Christmas tree is a great way to reduce the amount of waste created over the holidays. Watch this short video to learn how Christmas tree recycling helps sustain our environment.

Ready to recycle your tree? Here are some simple do’s and don’ts to get your tree ready for recycling.

Do…

  • Remove all items from the tree so it looks the way it did when you purchased or cut it
  • Cut trees in half if they are too long (see details below)

Don’t…

  • Attempt to recycle artificial or flocked trees
  • Put it in your recycle bin
  • Leave it in the tree stand
  • Leave ornaments, tinsel or any other decoration on the tree

To Recycle Your Tree in The City of Ukiah

Christmas trees can be cut into smaller pieces and placed in the mixed organic waste cart for curbside collection. Make sure all decorations are removed and the tree fits inside the cart with the lid closed. Flocked trees are not accepted.

Free Christmas tree recycling is also available at the Ukiah Transfer Station during the two weeks following Christmas. Please remove all lights and decorations.

The Power of Rechargeable Batteries

Rechargeable batteries in a line

From Walkie Talkies to RC cars, rechargeable batteries let you play just as hard as single-use batteries — but without creating as much waste. Let’s break down how they can reduce waste and save you money!

Reducing Waste

A rechargeable battery can be recharged up to a thousand times before it no longer holds a charge and must be disposed of. Different rechargeables vary in capacity and longevity, but even at the low end of performance, you can expect one to act as the equivalent of 100 single-use batteries. At the higher end of performance, one battery might do the work of 500 to 1000 traditional alkaline batteries.

A study by the State of California found that about 4 billion single-use batteries are shipped to the U.S. each year. If Americans switched to rechargeable batteries for most applications, we could keep billions of batteries from needing to be mined, manufactured and recycled each year!

Saving Money

Considering batteries are in everything from clocks to your wireless computer mouse to the TV remote, it won’t take long for your pocketbook to start reaping the benefits. A rechargeable battery can pay for itself in about six recharges — even factoring in the added cost of a wall charger.

According to the New York Times, the average U.S. household uses about 47 batteries a year. By switching to rechargeable batteries, as few as 4 batteries, charged once a month, and you wouldn’t need to buy any additional batteries for years!

Keep in mind that rechargeable batteries are generally not a good idea for emergency items, such as smoke detectors which generally relay on a single-use batteries discharge rate to alert you when it’s time to replace batteries. Consult your owner’s manual to find out what batteries you should use. In addition, rechargeable batteries don’t always hold a charge as long as single-use, alkaline batteries when sitting around unused. So they are also to be avoided for emergency preparedness kits.

No matter what batteries you end up using, remember to dispose of them safely by checking our Recycling Guide for the latest instructions.

Never dispose of batteries in the garbage or recycling where they can start dangerous fires.

Low Waste Alternatives to Traditional Wrapping Paper

gift in plain brown paper

Giving and receiving gifts can be a joyful experience, but the wrapping paper waste it creates can be a bit off-putting. When it’s just one present, it’s easy to simply toss the paper away and move along. But after a holiday, party or shower, the waste is difficult to ignore.

According to Earth911, 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper is produced annually in the US alone. Approximately half of that – 2.3 million pounds – makes its way to landfills. That’s the equivalent of tossing out 10 Boeing 757 airliners each year!

Wrapping paper can’t easily be recycled because it’s a combination of paper fiber and non-paper materials laminated together. This also means that traditional wrapping paper is not biodegradable. The good news is there are many inexpensive and sustainable alternatives to wrapping paper.

Here are a few sustainable wrapping paper alternatives:

Recyclable

  • Newspaper with secured with twine* (pro tip: try using the comic section)
  • Paper bags with a piece of nature such as a pine sprig or leaf attached*
  • Cardboard boxes tied with decorative string*

*Remove any non-recyclable material before recycling

Reusable

  • Old fabric with a decorative print or interesting color (try tying it in a Japanese Furoshiki style)
  • DIY reusable fabric bags (Don’t sew? Find ready-made ones on online marketplaces such as Etsy!)

Still have some old wrapping paper?

If you still have traditional wrapping paper or gift bags hanging around, use and reuse it as many times as possible before tossing in the garbage.

Recycling for Environmental and Social Justice

Dozer on garbage at landfill

When you hear the word “recycling,” you may think of paper, bottles and other items you place in a separate bin. Recycling is something we do to reduce waste and lessen our impact on the environment.

Recycling is one of the most recognizable acts of environmentalism, but it supports more than just a healthy planet. Similar to an ecosystem, where everything is interrelated, recycling connects back to people. That means when you recycle correctly you’re contributing not only to environmental sustainability, but also to social justice.

Everything we throw away has to go somewhere. If an item goes in the trash, it will end up burned or in a landfill, buried underground. When items are buried in a landfill, they are unable to decompose properly, and produce gases that not only contribute to climate change, but also can cause respiratory illnesses and cancer. Older landfills can leak and contaminate soil and groundwater, also significantly impacting human health.

All things being equal, you likely would not choose to live next to a landfill, but not all of us are able to avoid it. And unfortunately, people of color are most likely to bear the brunt of the environmental and health impacts that come along with landfills and incinerators.

It turns out that race is the single greatest predictor of whether you live near a toxic site. People of color are more likely to be live near environmental hazards leading to adverse health effects and a reduced quality of life.

That’s where environmental and social justice come in — the philosophy that everybody should have equal access to clean water and air, and a healthy place to live, work and play. When we reduce the trash we produce, we decrease the need for more landfills and incineration. Fewer toxic sites means fewer people impacted by those sites.

In reducing our waste and recycling correctly, we have an effect on not only our planet, but also its inhabitants. Recycling is more than an environmental act, it’s also an act of social justice.

Clean Out Your Junk Drawer

messy drawer

Everyone has that one drawer or shelf where they put small and hard to dispose of items. It’s like purgatory for items such as batteries, dead electronics, empty lighters and a whole host of other oddball objects. We get it. Who has the time to figure out what to do with these things? To save you time, we’ve assembled a list of common junk drawer items so you can clean out your drawer before it gets too full to open.

Common Junk Drawer Items
Click on items to see the correct way to dispose

Find something else in your junk drawer? Search the recycling guide to find it.

5 Easy Ways to Cut Back on Food Waste

Dehydrated fruits

Food requires a lot of resources, including land, water and energy. It should come as no surprise then, that the food we waste accounts for a whopping six percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Fortunately, it’s not hard to cut back on food waste. It can even be fun! Check out these five ideas for waste-preventing, emission-reducing inspiration.

1. Store food properly

How you store food makes a big difference in how long it lasts. First, check out this food storage guide from the EPA to learn which foods last longer when kept inside your fridge and which ones don’t. Next, find out what parts of your fridge are best for which foods.

2. Freeze, dehydrate or pickle food that’s about to go bad

If you have too much food sitting in your fridge, don’t let it go to waste! Extra bananas can be peeled and frozen for future use in breads and smoothies, while other fruit like peaches and berries can be frozen and stored for smoothies, pies and other baked goods. Uncooked meat can be frozen for future meals, and cooked meals like soup can be frozen for an easy meal on a lazy day.

Have an abundance of fruit or veggies from your garden harvest or a deal at the supermarket? Try dehydrating and storing them for use later. This guide will help you reach the perfect level of dehydration for storage.

If you have extra veggies like cabbage, carrots, cucumber or green beans, try pickling them to make them last. You don’t have to learn canning, either — quick pickling works just as well.

3. Eat veggies without peeling

Not only will it save you a lot of work, it will cut down on food waste, increase your dish’s flavor and give you more nutrients. The veggies you can stop peeling include beets, carrots, cucumbers, eggplant, ginger, parsnips, potatoes and sweet potatoes. Worried about dirt? Soak your veggies in water for a few minutes to get most of it off, then use a vegetable brush to finish the job.

4. Find ways to eat the parts of your food you’d normally toss

If there’s a part of some kind of food that you always toss, see if there’s a way you could make it edible. Here are some of our ideas:

5. Put your food scraps to work

Not all food scraps are destined for the bin. Try out some of these fun ideas to give your scraps a second life:

  • Make a broth out of carrot, celery and onion scraps.
  • Make an exfoliating coffee scrub out of used coffee grounds. Simply add a little oil of your choice (like coconut or jojoba) to freshly brewed grounds and exfoliate away! Use a drain catcher to keep the grounds from clogging up your plumbing.
  • Make potpourri from dried orange and other citrus peels.
  • Grow new plants out of food scraps.