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Keep Omaha Beautiful: A Sustainability Model For All Cities

Posted on | August 15, 2013 | Comments Off

 photo by Cruise Curtis

photo by Cruise Curtis

Keep Omaha Beautiful, Inc. is an environmental organization that does what its name implies. KOB is dedicated to litter reduction, beautification and education on recycling and solid waste issues.

In this interview, Cindy Smilley, the Executive Director of KOB since 1990, encourages everyone to connect with KOB.  There are many opportunities for you to volunteer your time and dollars.  Here is the link for you to explore ways to get involved with Keeping Omaha Beautiful.

1.  What are the 4 easiest things that anyone can do right now to become a better recycler?

  • Just decide to start recycling…..today.
  • Find a place in your pantry, under the sink, or in the garage to place a recycling container. It doesn’t have to be fancy…just a box or container.
  • Talk to your kids about the recycling numbers on the bottom of plastics and educate them about what can be recycled in Omaha (and in your area).
  • Talk with your kids about recycling and have them watch you recycle…they can help too.

2.  What are the neatest changes you have seen in how Omaha takes better care of our planet?

Strong environmental groups have started that are very inclusive. They work together rather than by themselves.

3.  Name two companies that do excellent work in keeping Omaha beautiful. Continue Reading

Rockhurst University: Recycling Opportunities For Students

Posted on | July 30, 2013 | Comments Off

Rockhurst University Logo

Rockhurst University is one of the top learning institutions in the Midwest.  But how do they rank in their sustainability efforts?  In this interview, Katherine Frohoff, Director of Public Relations at Rockhurst University, discusses opportunities for students to become better recyclers.

1.  What are 4 things that students can do right now to become better recyclers?

  1. Create a system for collecting personal recyclables and getting them in the bins.
  2. Use the bins correctly – don’t contaminate paper with food, for example.
  3. Keep sustainability in mind when organizing student events and work with university staff to ensure there are avenues for recycling.
  4. Think beyond the bin – look at personal consumption habits such as water usage, energy savings and purchasing habits

2.  Is there an environmental club where students can become more involved in sustainability initiatives?

We have several avenues – the Green Club, which is all students, the Sustainability Committee, which also involves faculty and staff, and involvement through various channels such as Student Senate and working with our Sodexo food service partner.

3.  What do you think Rockhurst University does best in the area of sustainability?

One of the things we do best is to collaborate across our internal constituencies to make positive changes. Just a few of the many areas that are involved in sustainability efforts are Physical Plant, Sodexo food service, Student Senate, Student Development, Faculty Senate and the Staff Advisory Council.

Recent Examples of Sustainability Efforts: Continue Reading

Meet Jay Steiner: Cancer Survivor and Superhero

Posted on | July 17, 2013 | Comments Off

Jay Steiner

Jay Steiner

Meet Jay Steiner.  Jay is a cancer survivor.  Jay is also a superhero.  It takes a superhero to beat cancer and then to support a family member who is also battling cancer.  Below, in question 8, you’ll find Jay’s Tips on being a superhero for your loved one who may be battling cancer.

1.  You are a KU Fan – predict their record for this year.

Jay:  Crimson & Blue all the way through.  5-7 in football.  33-3 in basketball.

2.  What is the food that you are best at making?

Jay:  Waffles!

3.  If moon travel becomes available in the next 10 years, are you going? 

Jay:  Too many exciting things to see here (on Earth) first.

4.  If you could throw a party for your donors with an unlimited budget, where would it be and what two bands would play? 

Jay:  At a park in Lake Tahoe.  I’d probably have Jack Johnson open for Dave Matthews

4.  Why did you want to join the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society team? 

Jay:  I’m a survivor of Pediatric A.L.L. (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) so finding  cures for Leukemia has always been at the forefront of my mind.  I’m fortunate to work for an organization who’s primary objective is so aligned with my personal objectives.

Continue Reading

How To Recycle Glass: Ripple Glass Makes It Easy To Recycle

Posted on | July 15, 2013 | Comments Off

Total Reading Time: Approximately 6 minutes.

Michelle Goth

Michelle Goth

Michelle Goth is the Program Manager at Ripple Glass where she makes glass recycling easier for Kansas City area businesses.  She assists bars, restaurants, hotels, event spaces, and other businesses to establish and to improve their glass recycling processes.

1.  What is the coolest innovation that you have seen in the glass recycling industry?

Michelle:  By far the coolest innovation in the glass recycling industry is the laser sorter. This machine can be programmed to identify thousands of different colors of glass. When a color is programmed into the machine, it scans all of the glass on the conveyor belt, searching for that particular color. When it finds it, it quickly blows a puff of air which pops the piece of glass onto a different belt. It has revolutionized the way that glass is recycled by allowing people to recycle all colors together. If a certain color needs to be separated out, the recycler can do so with the laser sorter. We use ours to separate out amber (brown) glass for re-manufacture into beer bottles.

2.  Does glass break down in the landfills?  How long does it take?

Michelle:  Glass does not break down or decompose in the landfill due to the lack of organic matter. If it is forcibly broken, it may eventually resemble something like sand.

3.  What else in the field of sustainability is interesting to you?

Michelle:  I think the issue of food waste is very interesting. Food composting is an underdeveloped area within the recycling industry here in the United States. Missouri Organic is pretty well established here in Kansas City, but I visit other large cities where businesses have no composting services available.

I’ve read that as much as 40% of the food we purchase in America ends up in the landfill. When you consider the level of resources that goes into food production, that is pretty devastating.  [Jason’s notes:  quick link to How to Stop Wasting Food and 27 Ways to Make Groceries Last Longer.]

4.  What are 4 things that anyone can do right now to be better at recycling?
Continue Reading

Recycle My Glass: How Old Glass Becomes New Glass via NPR

Posted on | July 9, 2013 | Comments Off

At a recycling convention, I spoke with a glass manufacturer about recycling.  At one point in the conversation the glass guy said, “you can’t get cheaper than sand.”  Shocked, I interpreted the underlying philosophy (of the glass guy) that it was a more of a hassle to recycle glass than it was to just bring in some fresh sand.  It made me a little bit suspicious of why he was at the recycling convention.  Also, I began to wonder about the public’s participation in some of the recycling programs available for glass.

Yes, Recycle Your Glass

In Kansas City, Ripple Glass is THE glass recycler.  They have bins everywhere; making it super easy to recycle your glass.  So, if you are looking for ways to be more friendly to our environment, Ripple Glass is the answer.

How Is Glass Recycled?

Have you ever wondered about how glass is recycled?  I caught this 3 minute video from NPR and was amazed by it.  Enjoy!

Secrets From The Recycling Plant: How A Used Bottle Becomes A New Bottle from Planet Money on Vimeo.

Additional Reading

How To Be A Better Recycler At Home

Recycling Tips From Deffenbaugh Industries

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