While munching on an organic apple during your drive to work, you may think it's perfectly fine to toss the core out the window of your car. It's 100 percent biodegradable, and it may give a wild animal something to eat, right? But while the apple core is less polluting than, say, a candy wrapper, it's still trash. Wild animals who find the apple core will discover it by the road, where they are in danger of being struck by a car. There is no appropriate litter to discard from your car, so dispose of all of it -- including apple cores -- in the compost, recycling bin or trash can.
The Center for Energy and Climate Solutions, a nonprofit organization that works toward practical solutions to climate change, studied the eco-impact of e-commerce shopping. It found an extreme difference between shipping overnight air rather than ground shipping methods. The less-expensive (and slightly slower) ground shipping method uses just 1/10th of the energy consumption of planes. The greenest choice of all is walking to your local store and picking it up yourself.
If you buy refrigerated tofu in a plastic container from the store, it's often packaged in water to help keep it fresh. The directions call for you to drain the water before you slice the tofu to use for cooking. Did you know you can use the leftover tofu water in the container for baking? Much like the water in cans of chickpeas, called "aquafaba," tofu water can be used as a replacement for eggs in baking. Use 3 to 4 tablespoons of tofu water for every egg in a recipe.
The nonprofit Chesapeake Bay Foundation would like you to save your shells after you've shucked a few oysters. The group recycles the shells and uses them to create oyster reefs as part of its conservation efforts to repopulate the bay. So far, over 2,000 bushels of oyster shells have been collected, which has led to giving homes to millions of oysters. Restaurants in the Maryland area are participating in collections, and you can learn more by visiting cbf.org.
Many of us use paper shredders to protect our personal information from getting into the wrong hands. But what do you do with that shredded paper? Unfortunately, recyclers don't want it because the fibers are cut very short, and often the shreds are mixed with non-recyclables like stickers and bits of plastic from things like credit cards. If you shred your own paper, it is possible to divert it away from landfills. You can layer shredded paper with grass clippings (and other organic matter) and turn it into compost. But if that doesn't work, bag it up and throw it away. Sending it to a recycler contaminates real recyclables.
Does your small business go through a lot of toner and ink cartridges every month? Yes, you can recycle them for free -- or you can earn some cash for recycling them! The website usrecycleink.com pays cash for empty ink and toner cartridges. It also covers the shipping cost to its recycling facility with a prepaid label. In as few as two weeks, you'll receive payment for your empty cartridges. Schools and nonprofit organizations can collect these items as a way to raise money for their charitable efforts, too.
Recycling scrap metal is an easy way to turn some old metal furniture, building supplies and other metallic items into cash. But not all metal is alike or worth the same amount. The simple test is to see if a magnet sticks to your metal recyclable. If it does, it's ferrous metal, which is likely steel or iron. Ferrous metal is less valuable, but still very much recyclable. If the magnet does not stick, there is a good chance it's a much more valuable material like copper, brass, bronze or stainless steel.