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Living the Green Life

Be a Friend of the Environment: January, 2021

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As seasons change, so do environmental concerns. That's why we are here with monthly updates to help you Live the Green Life and be a friend of the environment. Follow us on social media (the links are in the footer of this page) and share your pictures and ideas with us by using #LiveGreenNY in your social media posts--we'd love to hear from you!

A New Year, A New Beginning

The clock has struck midnight, another page on the calendar has turned, we are now in 2021. This time of year, resolutions are popular because it is a new year, a time for new beginnings. Let's start this new year off right by adopting simple habits and changes which can help our environment.

Cheers to you:

cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows
Reduce and reuse when you choose a mug.

Whether raising a glass to toast the new year, or just enjoying your favorite beverage:

  • Skip bottled water. Get a durable, safe, and re-usable water container.
  • Use a travel mug. Fill your own mug at home instead of buying coffee in foam or paper cups.
  • Avoid single-serve coffee pods which are not recyclable or biodegradable. Buy a reusable pod to fill with your own coffee or loose tea. This could save you money and the coffee grounds can be used for composting. You can also look for biodegradable options or special recycling programs for traditional pods.
  • Drink green. Chose local microbrews, wines, and spirits from a nearby brewery, distillery, or winery. New York has hundreds of them located all around the state.
  • Get your money back -- returning empty beverage cans and bottles can add up to big savings. Don't lose the nickel deposit you paid when buying soda or other carbonated soft drinks, beer, water (that doesn't contain sugar), or wine product. NY's Bottle Bill has helped reduce beverage container litter by 70-75% and increased recycling of these containers by 70-80%.
  • Purchase large multi-serve containers, such as a 2-liter bottle, or concentrated powders of liquids that can be added to water instead of single-serve soda cans and bottles, and choose reusable cups. You will reduce waste and will also have fewer beverage containers to return for deposit.
  • Say no to single-use plastic straws. Instead, try a reusable straw or go straw-free if possible.

To good health:

empty washing machine with its door open
Machine wash. Try to avoid "dry clean only."

Health and safety were certainly a priority last year. Continue those efforts in 2021, with smart product choices that will benefit our environment:

  • Check temperatures with a digital thermometer. Some fever thermometers contain mercury that can evaporate to form a harmful vapor. Never throw products containing mercury in the trash. Contact your local disposal program.
  • Use pump sprays instead of aerosol sprays. Aerosols waste a great deal of product, putting it into the air (and your lungs) instead of where you want it. Non-aerosol products:
    • roll-on deodorant;
    • shaving soap;
    • setting lotion; or
    • gel.
  • Paint with latex paints. Oil-based paints contain solvents that evaporate easily, give off fumes, and cleanup requires using turpentine or paint thinner.
  • Pick low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) products. Cleaning solvents, paints, stains, and even personal care products can emit toxic or otherwise harmful fumes. Avoid such items whenever possible, especially in winter when ventilation to the outside is limited.
  • Avoid dry cleaning. Dry cleaning fluids contain carcinogens, neurotoxins, and respiratory irritants. Avoid clothes that must be dry-cleaned.
  • Safely dispose of toxic products. Get rid of oil-based paints, pesticides, automotive fluids, home chemicals, compact fluorescent bulbs, and other household wastes properly. Check your local government information about household hazardous waste collections in your area.

Want to learn more? DEC provides additional information on reducing your hazardous product use.

To learn more:

A big New Year's Resolution for many people is to learn something new. 2020 brought new explorers into the outdoors so let's continue to learn more about New York's environment this year.

Share your New Year's Resolutions for how you plan to be a friend of the environment this year. Use #LiveGreenNY in your social media posts.

Did you know that...

  • single use bottled water is the fastest growing beverage in the United States. But only 10% of these bottles are recycled.
  • water-based latex paint has better color retention and emits less pollution into the air.
  • clothes that say "dry clean only" can often be safely washed by hand.
  • mercury is a necessary part of a CFL (compact fluorescent light bulb). Safely dispose of any CFLs and when replacing, look for LED bulbs instead.

Be a Friend of the Environment-- January Tips

winter snow covered road image with a tire
Drive safe this winter. Keep up with recommended maintenance
and keep your tires properly inflated.

The road less traveled -- This year, you can help to keep our air clean by decreasing vehicle emissions. Driving less by combining trips when possible. Also, by driving the speed limit and keeping your vehicle in good running order.

Get a jump start on battery disposal -- Unfortunately, with cold weather, vehicle batteries can die. If a jump start does not work and your lead-acid battery needs replacement--remember that battery must be recycled. The batteries can leak contaminants and it is illegal to throw these batteries in the trash. Learn how to recycle vehicle batteries for free.

Snow blower and generator maintenance -- Spilled gasoline can cause pollution that irritates the lungs. To avoid spills when refueling your snow blower or generator this winter season, use a spout or funnel. Don't overfill. Close the cap up tight and store in a cool place, out of direct sunlight.

Chalk it up -- Instead of leaving paper notes, hang a blackboard or whiteboard to use for phone messages and reminders. This can help keep you organized. And being more organized is a popular New Year's resolution. If you must use paper, remember that scrap paper and backs of envelopes are perfect for jotting down shopping and "to do" lists.

woman safely disposing of medication at a collection site
Find a free collection site near you
(leaves DEC's website).

Here's the scoop -- Try non-clay cat litter. Clay cat litter has several environmental drawbacks: the clay is often strip mined and it's not biodegradable. Look for more environmentally friendly litters made from pine, wheat, corn, corn cobs, or old newspapers.

Use e-billing -- Sign-up for electronic billing where possible. This will help you save stamps, reduce waste, and be even more organized in the new year.

Dine local -- It is great to help small businesses especially during these times. Patronize restaurants that serve local products to save fuel of transporting food from far-off places.

Textbook savings -- January is the start of a new semester for many. Try renting college textbooks. College students can save money and resources by renting some of their textbooks instead of buying them. Type "rent textbooks" in your search engine to find vendors. Also, use digital text versions when possible.

A prescription for safe medicine disposal -- Keep New York's water clean--do not flush prescription drugs. DEC provides information on safe medication disposal for households along with a map to help find a nearby collection site.

Find our health and safety tips useful? Then make sure to visit this page in February as we provide information on showing love for the environment. Also, share your photos and ideas, about how you are starting the new year with new beginnings, with us using #LiveGreenNY