Friday, January 31, 2014

Ways to Make Your 2014 Green

For most of us, recycling is like flossing: it's a good thing, sure, but it's not part of our daily routine. We believe that an environmentally-friendly lifestyle takes too much time, money, and effort...and besides, who knows where to start?

But with a little planning, living green can be surprisingly easy. Here are 3 ways you can make 2014 your greenest year yet:

1. Lunch Smarter

With plastic utensils, paper bags, and cardboard containers, lunching-to-go is filled with products that--unless recycled--will go straight into a landfill. The best solution is to pack your lunch from home (using reusable products), but that's not always an option. Here are some small steps you can make next time you're in the drive-thru:

  • Refuse the plastic cutlery and bring silverware with you, or invest in reusable ones that you can easily store in your desk or car.
  •  Quit using plastic containers and transition to mason jars or stainless steel food carriers. The food carriers will cost more, but it's a purchase that can last you years (if not decades). Do you still have any of your cheap, plastic containers from 10 years ago? ...Yeah, me either.

2. Shop Smarter

Lately, it seems everyone is pushing reusable shopping bags...and for good reasons. If you go grocery shopping once a week, and average 5 bags per trip, then you're actually using 240 plastic bags a year. That may not seem like a lot, but think about this: it takes ONE plastic bag up to 1,000 years to degrade...that's insane! And even then, they remain toxic after breaking down. They drift in the ocean, contaminating soil, waterways, and the health of animals. They're one of the most harmful products, and--ironically--something we use daily. If you haven't transitioned to reusable shopping bags, I would urge you to reconsider. You can find them at your local grocery store, or in bulk on the Internet

3. Buy Smarter

Consignment stores, eBay, and Craigslist have never been more popular--and it's not just for the price tag. One of the best ways to help
the environment is buying used clothing, furniture, and other household appliances. But what can you do while you're not in the market for new desks or sweaters? Here are some simple ways to live green at home:
  • Coffee cans, shoe boxes, margarine containers, and other types of containers can be used to store a plethora of things--from food scraps to nuts and bolts. They can also become fun craft projects; for example, here are some creative ways to reuse a coffee can.
  • You've just had your yearly yard sale, but there's still unwanted clothes, toys, and furniture in your garage. Rather than throwing them out, take them to a donation center or give them to a friend. Social media sites like Facebook have become great ways to advertise your unwanted items (and you may even make a small profit!).
These are three simple steps towards a greener 2014. Do you have some more tips? Post them in a comment below.

With Recycled Love,

WKU Recycling & Surplus 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Recycler's Guide to the Holidays

This Holiday season why not do something for the environment and your wallet? WKU Recycling and Surplus want to tell you about upcycling. Upcycling is taking otherwise trash materials and creating them into something new and useful. Recycling and Surplus created an upcycled Christmas Tree for the holiday season.
To create this beauty it took only empty water bottles, soda cans, hot glue, and a few willing souls.


There are tons of neat ways to upcycle materials in your home to be used for this Christmas. An example I liked is taking old Christmas cards and cutting them into gift tags. It is a great way to save money and use something otherwise thrown out. Plus they look just as good if not better because they are original.

Another really cool idea is wrapping your gifts in newspaper or old maps you have lying around the house. It looks really unique in comparison to everyone else’s wrapping and it didn’t cost a thing out of pocket. Also you can wrap with an old phone book or brown or white paper and then decorate the box yourself. It can be designed specifically for the person the gift is for.



Decorating for Christmas doesn’t have to be hard and costly. Here are a few ideas for decorations that won’t cost anything and you can enjoy making with friends and family. If you have old newspaper or books or notebooks full of assignments don’t throw them out. Make Christmas Trees instead! Take the pages individually and fold them in half diagonally and glue them together at the top. You can use a bottom as the topper or and old figurine or you can create a cloth star with cardboard in the middle and cloth glued around it.

These are just a few ideas on how you can upcycle this season. It is a very crafty and thrifty way to save money while helping the environment. I hope this inspired you to get creative!
Merry Christmas!
Recycling and Surplus Associates

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Community Recycling Bins Return!

We are pleased to announce the return of the community recycling bins!

The community bins are used heavily by businesses, homes, and numerous locations where curb-side recycling is not available. The bins provide three options for recycling: glass, cardboard, and single stream. For those of you who don’t know, the single stream option means you can put all of your recyclables into one bag— making recycling much simpler and more convenient!  

The community bins are located behind the Service and Supply building on campus, at the intersection of University Blvd. and Russellville Road (diagonal to the baseball fields). If you live or work off-campus and don’t have curb-side recycling, we hope you’ll take advantage of these bins. They are, after all, here for you!

With Recycled Love,

WKU Recycling & Surplus

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Why Should You Recycle?

It’s a fair question. In today’s fast paced world, we are constantly thinking of only one thing: the present. Our generation has grown to expect instant gratification; breaking news arrives instantly to our iPhones, Jimmy John’s promises to deliver lunch in just minutes. Sometimes we think about the future— like our relationships, or what our post-graduation plans are. But overall, any time we think of the future it’s all about us, isn’t it? We complain more about fuel prices than the imminent fact that one day, fuel will run out. But instead of getting involved, we ignore— or even deny— environmental problems, placing all the weight and responsibility on radicals and “Hippies.” The reality is, we’re all suffocating under the enormous weight of environmental waste.

You may think that your waste doesn’t matter. What’s a few soda cans or plastic bags going to do to the environment? In truth, though, we all leave a trail of waste that— combined with the other 312 million people living in America— has the power to do serious damage. This is called your carbon footprint, which is caused by the consumption of fossil fuels—such as coal, oil, natural gas, and petroleum. These fossil fuels are used daily to heat our houses, cook our meals, and make our cars run. The problem is they’re not renewable— they will run out. While we don’t suggest you stop heating your home or cooking meals, we do suggest cutting down your driving time by carpooling, walking, or biking. The option for these nonrenewable resources is to cut down consumption, but that isn’t true about all of our resources. Luckily, we have another option. Some resources are renewable, such as paper, aluminum, tin, and most plastics. That means that things we throw away daily— plastic bottles, soda cans, canned food, scrap papers— can be reused again.

Not only does this benefit the environment, it saves money that would’ve been spent putting these materials into a landfill.Recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions from solid waste, and decreases the use of fossil fuel energies used to produce new materials.  The way our campus handles waste and promotes sustainability will influence the city of Bowing Green, the state of Kentucky, the country, and eventually, the entire world.
A truck full of cardboard heading to the on-campus compactor to be recycled.
So, why should you recycle at WKU? Because the waste you accumulate does influence our campus, not to mention the environment. You have a carbon footprint that grows bigger with every cardboard box and soda can you throw in the dumpster. Your influence alone can help make WKU a more sustainable campus. Recycling is just a small way that you can contribute back to your campus, your home, and the environment. With over 150 single-stream recycling containers scattered around campus, not to mention the recycling bins provided to each dorm room and classroom, it’s impossible to find an excuse not to recycle. 
Start this year off right by remembering this: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Save money, help the environment, and reduce your carbon footprint just by recycling? Yes! It’s that easy.

With Recycled Love,
WKU Recycling and Surplus

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

VAMPY Visits, and Surplus Receives Interesting Items

Today, our department hosted a fieldtrip for 7th -- 10th grade students of VAMPY (Verbally and Mathematically Precocious Youth). The students could only choose one course to study, and some chose sustainability! Our staff spent the morning setting up for the event.

The Recycling and Surplus Coordinator, Sara, explained to the students how our department runs recycling for WKU's campus. She continued by explaining how the new surplus program helps save WKU money (and helps the environment!).

Sara leading a question and answer session about recycling and
sustainability with the VAMPY students.

Apart from knowledge, the students also took home a free water bottle and t-shirt from WKU's Earth Day (which was April 16). Like most students, they were excited to receive the freebies!

An Earth Day t-shirt and water bottle
that was given to each VAMPY student.

In Surplus news, we received some interesting items from the Health Services building: an electrosurgical generator and a container full of crutches! We never know what kind of items we're going to receive, but we always have fun trying to find creative ways to reuse them on campus.

With Recycled Love,
WKU Recycling and Surplus 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Cardboard Drive Recycles Tons... Literally!

Over the past two weeks, WKU students have been returning to their dorms with heads ready for learning, and hands full of... cardboard?

Despite the busyness of a new semester, students, parents, and faculty have graciously been donating their cardboard for recycling. Our recycling crew set-up cardboard bins outside every dorm, for a total of 13 bins we were responsible for.

Rachel Hoge, a student worker, is pictured maintaining a
cardboard container outside of Minton Hall.

Our crew collected cardboard throughout the day... and every collection was strenuous. In order to correctly recycle the cardboard, we removed all packaging materials and broke down each individual box. As shown below, our trucks were quickly brimming with recycling.

 When our trucks became this full, we'd haul everything to the compactor. Compacting one load would take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, which made it difficult to keep up with overflowing cardboard.

Zach Brumback, a student worker, is pictured hauling cardboard to the compactor.

  But when it all the move-in days were done, we knew all the labor had been worth it. We successfully diverted 6.9 tons of cardboard from landfill dumpsters!

We appreciate all the efforts of the grounds crew, HRL, and all the parents and students who participated. You've all truly made a difference!

With Recycled Love,
The WKU Recycling Crew