The Blog Aquatic » recycling News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:32:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Trash or Treat? Six Ways To Have a Trash-Free Halloween Fri, 26 Oct 2012 18:00:03 +0000 Guest Blogger Ghosts, goblins and ghouls—there’s no doubt about it, Halloween is a spooky time. But if there’s one thing scarier than skeletons in the trees, it’s trash on the street—trash that can wash into storm drains and travel all the way to the ocean. From candy wrappers to decorations and costumes, it’s easy to make a ton of trash around Halloween. That’s why we’re giving you five easy ways to reduce your family’s waste this year:

1. Reuse a pillowcase instead of buying a plastic candy container. Or, if you can’t bear the thought of venturing out without a smiling pumpkin, cut the top off of a milk jug and give it a Jack-o-lantern grin with permanent markers, and then recycle that container after you’ve collected your trick-or-treat goodies.

2. Why waste money on a costume you’re only going to wear once? Use items lying around the house to create your own ocean-themed costume. When people ask you about your outfit, give your favorite ocean animal a voice and tell them how they can help stop ocean trash. You can use one of these ideas, or come up with your own! 

  • Ocean sunset—Dress in shades of blue and wear a yellow hat.
  • The Pacific Gyre—Simply attach (clean!) bottles and other recyclables to blue clothing.
  • Sand castle—Use cardboard boxes to assemble the sand castle of your dreams!
  • Sea creature—Anything is possible. Go as a jellyfish by attaching strips of bubble wrap around the outside of an umbrella. To be an urchin, dress in black and tape cardboard triangles to a bandana. If you go with a group, you can tell people you’re an entire ecosystem—and that, unfortunately, the trash in your costumes is part of that ecosystem.

3. Decorate your house as a spooky trash gyre. Paint skulls on bottles and make ghosts from plastic bags. Make sure to explain the decorations to the trick-or-treaters who come by, and keep a trash can next to the door so they can dispose of the wrappers from any candy they’ve been snacking on so far.

4. In addition to the trick-or-treat bag, bring a separate trash bag to collect candy wrappers you see along the way. Challenge your kids to collect as much trash as they see.

5. Take number four one step further by challenging your kids to keep all of their Halloween candy wrappers in a box to ensure they don’t end up as litter. Whoever collects the most wrappers wins! Then, you can combine everyone’s wrappers and send them all to Terracycle, where they’ll be made into something new like a purse or a pencil case.

6. Your carriage may turn into a pumpkin at midnight, but that pumpkin can start turning into veggie carrion by the next morning. How do you properly dispose of your jack-o-lanterns? Turn your house into a pumpkin recycling station with these composting guidelines from Treehugger.

You don’t have to sacrifice any of the fun (or frights!) to have a trash-free Halloween. Do you have more ideas? Share them below, and don’t forget to upload your spooky photos to our Facebook page!

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Tips for Greening Your Printer Fri, 21 Sep 2012 15:54:37 +0000 Guest Blogger

Credit: innovate360 flickr stream

This one goes out to everyone who has sat though class or a meeting straining your eyes to read a document on a tiny phone screen because you didn’t want to waste paper printing it out. We admire your dedication to our environment! But the truth is, no matter how diligent you are about limiting your printer use, there will be times when you need a paper copy. So how do you make sure your printer is as low-impact as possible?

1. Set up your printer to print double-sided by default.

Every printer and computer will be a little different, so you may need to consult the manual or do a simple Google search for how to set up duplex printing on your printer model. Here is a guide that should work for most printers on a Windows operating system.

1. Click the “start” button in the lower left corner.

2. Select “Control Panel.”

3. Double-click “Devices and Printers,” “Printers” or “Printers and Faxes,” depending on what option you have.

4. Right-click your default printer and select “Printer Preferences.”

5. Select the “Finishing” tab and check the box that says “Print on both sides.”

6. Click “Apply” and finish by hitting “OK.”

2. Unplug your printer when it’s not in use.

Printers and other appliances can act as “energy vampires,” sucking up energy even when they’re not in use. Lower your power bill and save every by unplugging your printer and other appliances when you don’t need them. You can learn more about how much power appliances consume when they are switched off or not performing their primary function here.

3. Recycle your ink and toner cartridges.

E-waste can be problematic in landfills, and even more problematic if if ends up in our ocean, where dangerous chemicals and metals can leach into the water. Many electronics stores, such as Staples, OfficeMax and WalMart have e-waste recycling programs. Sometimes, you can even receive rewards points for dropping off printer cartridges at the register.  Some printer manufacturers even make it easy for you to send your empty cartridges straight to them for recycling.

4. Reuse scrap paper.

If you have a collection of one-side printed pages, you can reuse them and make a handy notebook. Simply cut the pages into quarters, pile them up so all the blank pages are facing up, and clip them together with a sturdy binder clip. Depending on what you need, you can cut the paper as large or small as you like, so you can keep it at your desk for drafting or in your purse or pocket for on-the-go notes.

Get more tips like this every week by downloading Rippl™, Ocean Conservancy’s iPhone app that makes it easy to live sustainably.

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Cleanups: Going after Clean Water Hook, Line and Sinker Wed, 12 Sep 2012 18:15:40 +0000 Catherine Fox

Fishing is fine on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Credit: Catherine Fox

Fishing. It’s a cherished pastime that takes us away from the daily grind and instantly sets the mind at ease. “When the fish are biting, no problem in the world is big enough to be remembered,” said writer Orlando A. Battista.

Whether you love fishing or just enjoy the thrill of walking along a clean beach and watching wildlife, it’s important to understand that lost tackle can have serious consequences if we don’t clean it up.

Fishing gear lost in the water may not seem like a big deal compared with other types of trash, but when left behind inadvertently by fishermen whose lines break or snag, it’s a definite hazard:

The one (thing) that got away

The small nonprofit Partners for Clean Streams on the outskirts of Toledo, Ohio, participates in Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup each fall and also cleans local waterways in spring and summer.

It’s easy to see why line is a hazard to wildlife. Courtesy of Partners for Clean Streams.

Like Cleanup volunteers everywhere, they find huge amounts of fishing line, often hooks, jigs and lead sinkers attached. The organization recognized the importance of removing trash, including these items, to protect the aquatic environment—not to mention the local fishing experience.

“White bass and walleye run mid-April in the Maumee River where we work,” explained Ava Slotnick, outreach coordinator. “The river—the largest going into Lake Erie—is an important breeding ground.”

That geography is significant, says Ocean Conservancy Marine Debris Specialist Nicholas Mallos: “Lakes, rivers and streams may seem like isolated ecosystems, but it’s important to remember the ocean is downstream from all of us. Fishing gear that enters freshwater ecosystems can find its way into the ocean where it will persist for a very long time.”

Environment – and economy
Another key point is how important all these fish and fishermen are to local communities. “The fishing business here is a huge part of our economy,” Ava told me. “Anglers are out there in waders and boats, bumping elbows. A lot of commerce happens; you can imagine the hotel boom and full restaurants during fishing season.”

Recycling sinkers

Partners for Clean Streams started the Get the Lead Out! program eight years ago. Volunteers have collected more than 90 pounds of sinkers, impressive when you realize

Hooks and sinkers. Courtesy of Partners for Clean Streams.

many are BB-sized. “We resell the lead to Zap Lures in Sylvania,” said Slotnick. “They melt and reuse it, coating new sinkers to help keep lead from leaching out.”

What you can do
Fishing line is  the number-one wildlife entanglement item found during the International Coastal Cleanup. Fishing company Berkley has recycled more than 9 million miles worth of fishing line, and welcomes old line from anyone. They make it into new products like tackle boxes.

And the “Reel in and Recycle” program at BoatU.S. Foundation provides collection bins you can hang at piers and other fishing sites, plus a video on how to build your own.

A local Bass Pro Shops store mails the line in for Partners for Clean Streams, a budget-saver for the tiny nonprofit. It just goes to show that everyone—from nonprofits to volunteers from the community to businesses—has a role to play when it comes to protecting clean water.

The joy of cleanups
Ava Slotnick clearly loves cleanups, especially when she takes young people out on the river: “One teen got in the water and said, ‘This is the first time I’ve been in the Maumee River and I live ten minutes away!’ You could just tell by the look on his face that he thought it was so cool.”

“And that’s where the joy is, in making this transition for people from the notion ‘nature is out there and I can’t do much with it’ to really being out in the water and learning from it,” she says.

Last year, Partners for Clean Streams got 726 volunteers out for their Clean Your Streams event, part of the International Coastal Cleanup. In three hours they picked up 15,315 pounds of trash.

So what are you waiting for? Whether you’re inland or on the coast, sign up for the International Coastal Cleanup in September, connect with the water and have a great time making a difference!

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