Eco-Friendly Road Trippin’

van on road trip

Summer in California means warm weather, blue skies and for some, a great time to take a road trip. While transportation is responsible for more carbon emissions than any other sector in the United States, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your environmental impact while traveling by car.

Carpool

Cut your emissions by reducing how many cars go on your trip. Check with your travel buddies beforehand to see if there’s extra space for carpooling.

Drive Smarter

Studies show that for every 5 mph you drive over 60 mph, fuel efficiency decreases by 7 percent. Stay within the speed limit to save on gas and avoid hitting the brakes if you can by allowing adequate space between you and the car in front of you.

Inflate Tires

Check your tire pressure regularly, add air at home or the gas station when needed to save on gas and reduce vehicle emissions. Not to mention proper tire pressure makes your car safer to drive.

Park It

Idling for over 10 seconds wastes more gas than turning the car engine off and on again. Any time you pull over to look at the navigation, connect your Bluetooth or stop at a viewpoint, turn the engine completely off. Making a pit stop for fast food? Park the car and go inside the restaurant to save gas while waiting in line.

Turn off the AC

Air conditioning uses up to 25% of fuel economy in some cases, meaning that if your car regularly gets 20 mpg, it might only get 15 mpg with the AC on. Instead, roll the windows down or click the AC off to get fresh air from outside. When you first get into the car, roll the windows down instead of going straight to the AC – this will help get air moving efficiently.

Go Electric (or Hybrid)

Renting a car? Look into options that can reduce your emissions (and gas money!) such as with an electric or hybrid vehicle using an app or other car sharing platforms.

Bring Reusables Containers and Bags

Save money and plastic by bringing your reusable canteen, cutlery, containers, etc., when traveling. Most gas stations allow free water refill at fountain drink stations, and there are rest stops all across California with drinkable water. Say “no” to plastic bags. Bring a reusable bag with you when stocking up on groceries and supplies to help prevent unnecessary waste.

Recycling

Recycling bins are often hard to find at gas stations, which can be a setback if you plan on emptying your trash when filling up on gas. Save your recyclables in a bag until you find a recycling bin or return home.

The Green — and Tasty — Benefits of Local Produce

tomatoes

Food mileage – the distance food travels to reach your plate – has increased fourfold since the 1960s.

While there is no certification label or specific definition to buying “local,” you can identify where your food is coming from by checking the packaging or signage at the grocery store. Choosing local produce at the store or farmers market, has many benefits including:

Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The closer food is grown to where it is sold, the lower its impact on air quality. Food is transported around the world by truck, cargo ship, airplane and rail, all of which release carbon dioxide. Buying from local farms means a reduced environmental impact from transportation.

Healthier Food

Eating fresh produce maximizes its nutritional value. A University of California study showed that vegetables can lose 15 to 55 percent of vitamin C within a week of being picked. Because food grown locally spends less time en route to its destination, it can be picked when it is ripe.

Strengthen the Local Economy

Now more than ever it is important to support local small businesses, including farms, within the City of Ukiah community. Buying local food helps support local businesses and keeps your dollars in the local economy.

Reduce Plastic Consumption But Keep Recycling It

Did you know that there is something you can do that’s even better than recycling plastic. You can avoid buying it in the first place! Here are a few reasons why avoiding plastic is the most eco-friendly choice.

Plastics Are Made from Non-Renewable Sources

Virgin plastics are made from petroleum and natural gas. Not only are both of these sources non-renewable but their extraction can also be hazardous for humans, animals and the environment.

Not All Plastic Can or Will Be Recycled

The EPA estimated that in 2017 only 3 million tons out of 35.4 million tons of plastic produced was recycled. That’s less than 9%. Why is this? Many reasons: some plastic used in durable goods that remain in use, some was used in materials — such as mixed material products — which cannot be recycled, some was improperly disposed of, and some was intentionally or unintentionally littered.

Plastic Can Be Recycled Only 2-3 Times

Unlike glass and metal which can be recycled indefinitely without significant degradation, plastic can be recycled only 2-3 times before it has to be downcycled into products like composite lumber. Even so, recycling plastic is very important because it greatly reduces the amount of virgin plastics that must be created to meet demand.

Given the problems with plastic, it’s easy to see that reducing our plastic use in the first place is the way to go. After all, the phrase is “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Recycling is last on the list because it’s the last resort. We are better environmental stewards when we put more effort into the first two Rs: Reduce and Reuse. Only when we can’t avoid a piece of plastic, or reuse it, is the best option to recycle it.

See a full list of the plastics we recycle in the City of Ukiah.

Plastic Free July: 3 Easy Ways to Avoid Plastic Every Day

plastic free picnic

July is one of the warmest months of the year, with people flocking to the beach and spending time playing outside. Going green this July doesn’t mean any of that has to change. Reducing plastic consumption within the flow of daily life doesn’t have to take much extra time or effort. Here are a few plastic-free tips for taking on summer in style.

Alternative Product Containers

Many sunscreens and lotions now come in plastic-free packaging. Look for sunscreen options that come in a tin as opposed to a plastic tube. Lotion can also be purchased in bulk and stored in a glass container or a reusable plastic one. Many moisturizers are also available in solid bar form and can be kept in a reusable storage tin.

Reusable Picnic Ware

Who doesn’t love a crisp cold salad or some BBQ on a hot summer’s day? In order to make your picnic or takeout meal plastic-free, bring along washable napkins and reusable silverware. If you are bringing food from home, consider using a reusable container and plates to keep your picnic zero waste.

Bring A Bottle

Over 50 billion bottles of water are consumed in America each year. Of those, 80% are not recycled and end up in a landfill. There are two simple solutions to help reverse this trend. First, use a reusable water bottle when you need water on the go. If you’re not in love with the taste of your tap water try using a water filter. Second, if you do grab a plastic water bottle in a pinch make sure to recycle it!

Want more plastic free ideas? Check out plasticfreejuly.org

California Just Recycled Its 5 Millionth Mattress

Since its inception in 2016, Bye Bye Mattress has recycled five million mattresses in California. That’s enough mattresses to stretch from California to Hawaii and back again if laid end-to-end! To celebrate this monumental achievement, here’s an infographic showcasing some of the amazing strides this program has made.

Have a mattress or box spring that you want to get rid of? If your mattress is in a usable condition, you can sell it or give it away to a neighbor. If it’s in unusable condition, you can take it to a nearby mattress recycling drop-off location. Map of California mattress recycling locations.

The Environmental Footprint of a Cup of Coffee

cup of coffee

An average of 400 million cups of coffee are consumed in America every day – more than any other country. The environmental impact of our caffeine consumption depends on a variety of factors, some of which may surprise you.

Country of Origin

The vast majority of coffee is grown overseas, so buying locally-grown coffee is next to impossible in the U.S. The good news is the distance that coffee beans travel is considered a minimal factor when assessing the overall environmental footprint of a cup of coffee. Certain countries, however, may use better agricultural practices, and coffee labeled as Fair Trade comes with a set of ethical guidelines that includes protecting the environment.

Packaging

Take a walk down the coffee aisle at your grocery store and you will see many varieties of packaging. There are steel cans, plastic containers, flexible foil pouches and coffee capsules – and don’t forget about the bulk section. Is one better than the other? Well, steel cans and plastic containers can be recycled, while coffee capsules and flexible foil bags can not, which gives them a larger packaging footprint. However, the best option is to skip the package altogether and utilize a reusable container to buy coffee in bulk. You may even find you can pay less for your favorite coffee by purchasing it in bulk. That’s a win-win!

Reusable vs. Single-Use Cups

What about the debate over reusable cups versus single-use (“disposable”) cups? Studies have found that reusable cups almost always have a lower environmental impact, especially when washed using an energy-efficient dishwasher or in cold water.

Milk

The biggest factor when determining the environmental footprint of your coffee: the milk. Espresso shots have a much smaller footprint than a beverage that contains milk or cream, such as a latte. This is due to the energy and water used in production of milk (both dairy and non-dairy), the additional packaging, and the energy used to heat the milk up at the brewing stage.

Take-Away Tips:

    1. Look for and support coffee that has a Fair Trade label.
    2. Enjoy your drink in a reusable mug.
    3. Turn off “keep warm” functions on drip coffee machines.
    4. Make only as much as you need – say no to food waste!
    5. Toss the coffee grounds in the mixed organic waste when you’re done.

Ask the Experts: How Can I Dispose of Charcoal?

grill
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Q: How Can I Dispose of Charcoal? Can it be Reused or Repurposed?

A: We all know what summer means: It’s time to get grilling! How is it that food cooked over fire always tastes better? If you’re grilling with charcoal, make sure you follow these instructions to dispose of leftover coals and ashes safely.

How to Dispose of Charcoal

Allow ashes to cool for 48 hours, or pour water onto them and stir thoroughly to speed up the process. After the ashes have fully cooled, wrap them in aluminum foil or place them in a small metal container, such as a coffee can. Then dispose of them in an outdoor trash bin. Do not place ashes or coals near anything that could catch fire.

How to Reuse Charcoal

Want to put used charcoal to good use before tossing it? You can grill with charcoal more than once! Simply follow these steps:

  1. Once coals have cooled (see above), rake through used charcoal to dislodge extra ash.
  2. Empty loose ash from the grill.
  3. Add half the amount of new charcoal you would normally use to start the grill.
  4. Light the charcoal. Wait 5-10 minutes before adding food to the grill.

How to Repurpose Charcoal

If you have some unused charcoal lying around and you don’t know when you’ll ever use it, try giving it away on Facebook, Nextdoor or Craigslist.

If your charcoal is additive-free, you can repurpose the coals to prevent tools in your toolbox from rusting. You can also use it in your fridge or a smelly pair of gym shoes to eliminate odor. These ideas and more are explained in this neat article.

Skip the Disposable Foam Coolers this Summer

Warm weather means days by the water, at the park, and in the woods. Wherever you recreate, you need to keep your snacks and beverages cool and fresh. The convenient choice is a foam cooler: they’re inexpensive and available at most grocery stores. However — like many convenient choices — foam coolers are not great for the planet.

The Popularity of Disposable Foam Coolers

In the 1950s, foam became a favorite for keeping hot things hot and cold things cold. People started using foam coolers because of convenience and affordability. Foam coolers also don’t grow mold or bacteria. To top it off, they’re disposable so you throw them in the trash when you’re done! Perfect solution, right? Unfortunately they have a major drawback — lots of non-recyclable waste after just a few uses.

The Ugly, Indisposable Truth

Disposable is a funny word. By some estimates it takes up to 500 years or more for foam to biodegrade. One common estimate is that styrofoam can take up 30 percent of the space in some landfills. It’s also estimated that at least 20 percent of foam ends up as litter. The breakdown process is ugly, too. Foam breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces that can choke wildlife. As the sun heats it up, it emits toxic chemicals like methane.

Other Cool-er Options

Invest in a reusable cooler!

  • Basic foam cooler with hard plastic exterior and interior: an inexpensive option
  • Metal or durable plastic cooler: have it forever
  • Soft cooler: wear it over your shoulder
  • Backpack cooler: free up your hands and carry it farther

When you know which type you’d like to purchase, check to see if you can buy used on Craigslist or at a thrift store. If buying new, look for quality durable products that will last. Many coolers have lifetime guarantees.

If you need a disposable cooler, there are biodegradable pulp-based coolers for one-time use. They’re convenient and sustainable. Put them in the mixed organic waste, or compost at home, and they decompose in weeks!

What if I Already Have a Foam Cooler?

Use any foam cooler you do have until you can’t anymore. Then dispose of it in the Trash.

Go Green in Every Room: Reducing Plastic in Your Bathroom

bar soap

One great, easy way to reduce your impact on the planet is to reduce your plastic consumption at home. This doesn’t mean big changes are in order. Slightly altering the products you purchase can help prevent unnecessary use of plastics throughout your home. Today, we’ll start with the bathroom.

Ditch the Bottles: Buy in Bulk

Many grocery or natural food stores now offer body products such as moisturizer, soap or shampoo in bulk, the same way you can buy granola or dried foods. Purchase a bottle or container once — or even use one you already have — then wash and refill it when it’s time to get more product. As a bonus, buying products in bulk is usually less expensive than buying them by the bottle!

Consider Using Solid Bar Products

Bar soap and shampoo are increasing in popularity and work just as well as their bottled counterparts to keep your body and hair clean, moisturized and smelling fresh. Many bar soaps are wrapped in simple paper or a small plastic film — you may even be able to find some without any packaging at all. Scientific American also reports that bar soap requires fewer resources to manufacture than liquid soap.

Choose Recycled or Renewable Packaging

Most plastic waste generated in the bathroom comes from packaging of body products, medicine, toilet tissue and other items. To reduce this waste, many eco-conscious companies are using recycled or renewable materials in their packaging. Keep an eye out for products that are replacing plastic with more eco-friendly materials like paper or bamboo.

The Bottom Line

Before you purchase your next bathroom product, see if you can find it in bulk or bar form. If not, check the label to see if you can find it in recycled or renewable packaging. Staying aware and informed on the packaging of your products can help you save money and be a responsible consumer!

Celebrate Learn About Composting Day

compost

Do you wish there was an easy way to turn your food scraps into something more sustainable rather than throwing them away? Composting is a fantastic way to save food scraps, yard waste and other organics from going to the landfill while reducing your carbon footprint. The practice of composting helps to:

  • Reduce methane emissions from landfills.
  • Reduce the need for harsh chemicals and pesticides.
  • Create healthy soil for growing food and flowers.

Learn About Composting Day on Friday, May 29th is the perfect opportunity to get your hands a little dirty and find out if composting is right for you. Here are some ways you can get involved:

  • Make Your Own Compost – Start by checking out our composting page which has all the resources you need to get started with home composting today. Looking for more information on composting? YouTube has tons of videos on more types of composting than you can imagine.
  • Talk with Farmers Market Vendors – Get curious about the food you’re eating and ask what practices farms are using on their crops. Many farmers love to talk about the hard work they put into creating delicious and nutritious produce.

Not interested in home composting? You can still make a difference by keeping organics out of the garbage. See everything that can be put in your mixed organic waste.