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Frequently Asked Questions About Waste Diversion
Submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
What Should I Do With My Plastic Bags?
Is bubble wrap recyclable?
What can I do with my old cassettes?
How Do I Recycle My Old Mattresses?
Can Plastic Bags Be Recycled On Campus?
I don't live on campus so I was wondering if there's somewhere I can take empty ink cartridges, batteries, and old cell phones to be recycled?
I recently received a promotion and have old business cards that I can no longer hand out. Are there good ways to reuse these, or should I just send them to the recycling bin?
What's the deal with polystyrene?
On Earth Day, Palo Alto issued an ordinance that restricts food vendors from providing take out containers that are made from expanded polystyrene or non-recyclable plastic. This ordinance affects a broad umbrella of food service vendors such as retail food vendors, cafeterias, outdoor food vendors, food vehicles, and caterers. While the ordinance applies to containers, it does not apply to straws, utensils, or hot cup lids. These vendors are expected to comply within a one year period.
What is Polystyrene?
Polystyrene is an inexpensive and commonly manufactured plastic; companies make items like clear disposable cups, razors, and CD cases out of polystyrene. The take-out containers in question are made of expanded polystyrene foam, and are of the same material as packaging peanuts and insulation. While this product is very similar to what is commonly known as Styrofoam, it is different because of its beaded texture.
What is the problem with it?
While this foam is good at keeping your food hot or cold, it causes a number of significant issues for ecosystems. What makes it convenient and durable for humans is what makes it so problematic for the environment; it is lightweight, it floats, and it can easily break into smaller pieces from factors like wind and sun. When these pieces break down, they can be mistaken for food by marine and land animals. It is non-biodegradable, so it will not break down in the environment like plants and other compostable matter. Even though some recycling companies will accept the plastic (polystyrene is the #6 recycling category), the expanded foam that is contaminated by food is nearly impossible to recycle. So, most containers either wind up in landfills or as litter; polystyrene containers are currently the second most abundant form of beach debris in California due to their common and widespread use. Finally, some scientific studies suggest that styrene is a harmful carcinogen to both humans and animals.
What can I do?
If you're not in an area that bans polystyrene, you still have options. Invest in some reusable containers, or if the place offers it, get a paper container instead (like when you get frozen yogurt at Frozo's). Even though the ordinance is exclusive to expanded polystyrene, Styrofoam is no better. Avoid it when you can! While Bon Appetit offers compostable to-go containers, you can do one step better and sign up for our Eco-Clamshell program.
1. Sign up at Market Square. If you're a faculty/staff member, you can do this at Adobe Lodge as well. Bring your campus ID and a refundable ten dollar deposit. You'll be given a keychain to exchange for your first EcoTray.
2. Every time you make a to-go purchase at Market Square or Adobe Lodge, you exchange your keychain for a clean and sanitized EcoTray.
3. Once you're done, you can drop off the tray at any on-campus Bon Appetit venue during regular hours in exchange for a new keychain.
How do I recycle floppy disks?
What do I do with clothes that aren't in good enough condition to donate to places like Goodwill?
Organizations like Goodwill and Salvation Army are happy to accept clothes in 'good' condition, which means they shouldn't be ripped or stained. However, for those clothes that have seen better days, there are still a number of options that will put them to good use:
- 7th Generation Recycling accepts cotton clothing scraps, along with used clothing or textile items like pants, dresses, hats, shirts, drapes, curtains, blankets, towels, sheets, handbags, belts, paired shoes, and even stuffed animals! Conveniently, they have a green collection bin located on Lafayette St. near Frozo's.
- Contact your local animal hospital. Some will accept clothing scraps to use as bedding for hospitalized animals.
You can also reuse old clothes in the following ways around your home:
- Old tshirts are great to cut up and reuse as cleaning rags.
- Use them in arts and crafts projects.
- Save the buttons in case you lose some from your other clothes.
Be creative! These are only a few suggestions out of an infinite number of possibilities for reuse!Read More »
I have been keeping bottled waters to give to guests at meetings in my office and need to reorder. I understand the use of plastic bottles of water is not environmentally correct and want to do what is right. What suggestions can you give me so I can
Bottled water is unsustainable for a number of reasons. Their production is energy and resource intensive due to the actual production of plastic bottles as well as the energy needed to transport the finished products.
Tap water is your best option over bottled water. It is just as clean and safe, and oftentimes even more so. If you don't like the taste of tap water, there are a number of different filters available. Carbon filters (like the Brita ones) are very popular and help to get rid of unwanted chemicals or taste. The Brita filter is also recyclable. Whatever filter you pick, make sure that it is certified by NSF. Depending on how large your meetings tend to be, you can have reusable cups on stock, or encourage your guests to bring a reusable water bottle.Read More »
My department has a lot of extra office supplies (binders, folders, etc.). Where can we send them?
One option is to donate these items to the Resource Area For Teachers (RAFT).
RAFT is a non-profit organization that believes hands-on teaching is the best way for teachers to teach and students to learn. They provide creative hands-on activities, educational resources, workshops and inexpensive materials, (many donated by local businesses), to enrich pre K-12 education and community group programs.Read More »
How should I recycle during a campus office move?