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5 More Upcycling Project Ideas

  
  
  

It has been a few months since our last upcycling projects post so I thought it was high time for another.  So if you have some spare time or are looking for a fun summer project keep reading for 5 more ideas you can try.

1. Make grater lights.  These could be especially fun for an evening on the porch.  Simply get a wired light kit (available at most hardware stores) and use an old cheese grater in place of a shade.  This will create an interesting light that will cast a unique glow on the walls around you.

Grate Lights 

2. Make your own apothecary jars.  To do this all you will need is a few empty glass jars, a drill, some spare drawer knobs, and a can of spray paint.  Heidi at Parties for Pennies offers a step-by-step tutorial for the project here.

Apothecary Jars 

3. Use old drawers to make hanging shelves.  This would be a great project to start at a thrift store.  Find an old piece of furniture with drawers that are removable and strong.  Check the bottom of the drawers as well since having a bit of a lip will be helpful for mounting them.  Next you’ll need some spray paint in whatever colors you like.  Once you get all of your supplies home remove the drawers and spray paint them the colors you’d like.  Once they are dry use nails to hang the drawers on the wall.  Now you have some whimsical new shelves. 

Drawer Shelves 

4. Use a mason jar to create a tiny sewing kit.  This would be a great gift idea as well!  The tutorial can be found in Martha Stewart’s Sewing and Crafts book which Traci at the Stolen Moments blog used to make the ones pictured below.  Basically, by turning the top of the jar into a pincushion and putting the other supplies in the jar you can make a fun (and finger sticking proof) sewing kit. 

Mason Sewing Kits 

5. Make a suitcase table.  The one pictured below was from the SalvageShack Etsy shop and has since been sold.  If you’re feeling adventurous and crafty though you could make one for yourself!  All you’ll need is an old suitcase, some table legs, and tools and you can create your own masterpiece.    

Suitcase Table

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How is the EPA Addressing Waste Minimization?

  
  
  

How is the EPA Addressing Waste MinimizationAccording to the EPA, “The National Waste Minimization Program supports efforts that promote a more sustainable society, reduce the amounts of waste generated, and lower the toxicity and persistence of wastes that are generated.”[1]  They are working to do this in a few different ways.  Firstly, the EPA has a list of 31 “priority chemicals” that they are working to reduce.  They are doing this by identifying where these chemicals are found in “our nation's products and wastes [and] finding ways to eliminate or substantially reduce their use in production. If these chemicals cannot easily be eliminated or reduced at the source, [they] focus on recovering or recycling them.” [2]

In addition to working to eliminate the priority chemicals, the EPA has four major tools and projects they are supporting that help with waste minimization.  These four main tools are lean manufacturing, energy recovery, environmental management systems (EMS), and green chemistry.  Each of these is explained in more detail below.

What is Lean Manufacturing?

According to the EPA, “Lean manufacturing is a business model and collection of tactical methods that emphasize eliminating non-value added activities (waste) while delivering quality products on time at least cost with greater efficiency.”  Engaging in lean manufacturing allows companies to “create a culture of continuous improvement, employee empowerment, and waste minimization.”  What this means is that companies who support and implement lean manufacturing initiatives see benefits outside of the scope you might expect. [3]

What is Energy Recovery?

Energy recovery is done through a process called gasification.  According to the EPA, “gasification converts carbon-containing materials, under high temperature and pressure, into synthesis gas… or syngas… Syngas can be used as a fuel to generate electricity or as a basic chemical building block for use in the petrochemical and refining industries. Syngas generally has a heating value that is approximately two-thirds that of natural gas and, when burned as fuel, produces emissions that are similar to natural gas. In the petroleum refining industry alone, about seven to ten million tons of hazardous byproducts containing carbon, currently managed under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), could be converted into useable fuel or chemicals using gasification methods.” [4]

What are Environmental Management Systems?

The EPA defines Environmental Management Systems (EMS) as “a set of processes and practices that enable an organization to systematically assess and manage its environmental "footprint" –the environmental impact associated with its activities, products, and services.”  Environmental management systems are variable in scope and practice but all have rather similar goals; to improve environmental performance by providing a company with the tools they need to manage their environmental activities and impacts in the most beneficial and cost effective manner. 

The EPA lists several benefits of EMS including:

  • Helping to comply with regulatory responsibilities and providing a way to address non-regulated environmental aspects like energy use and the conservation of resources;
  • Facilitating the assessment of risks and liabilities;
  • Increasing operating efficiency by creating standard operating procedures;
  • Increasing the environmental awareness of employees;
  • Potential for environmental and financial benefits; and
  • Providing a competitive edge over competitors not using EMS. [5]

What is Green Chemistry?

The final of the four primary tools being used by the EPA for waste minimization is green chemistry.  The EPA defines green chemistry as, “the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the generation of hazardous substances.”  Green chemistry prevents pollution at the molecular level and applies to all areas of chemistry.  The result is “source reduction” because it actually prevents the generation of pollution.  It also “reduces the negative impacts of chemical products and processes on human health and the environment, lessens and sometimes eliminates hazard from existing products and processes, [and] designs chemical products and processes to reduce their intrinsic hazards.” [6]  We will talk more about Green Chemistry in a future post.   

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Seven Days of Green Living

  
  
  

Seven Days of Green LivingI think that sometimes we get intimidated by the idea of making major “green” life changes.  When you look at a long list of ideas that you’re supposed to apply to your everyday life it can just be overwhelming.  If you’re in the place where making green changes seems like too much to do I recommend trying to make a green schedule. 

By making a schedule, each day you can work towards making just one change.  After all, even if you’re practicing these green lifestyles just one day a week you will still be having a positive impact.  To give you an idea lets walk through a weeks’ worth of possible ideas.

Sunday

Take the day before your work week starts to get or keep a green project going.  Maybe you can start a compost pile and use your Sundays to add the previous week’s scraps?  Make Sunday your day to spend in the garden or to run all your errands so you don’t have to make several trips throughout the week.   

Monday

Start your week out by shortening your shower in the morning.  Each minute you are in the shower (using a standard shower head) you are using about 2.5 gallons of water.  That means if you cut your shower time down by 5 minutes you can save 12.5 gallons of water.  Do this once a week for a year and you’re at 650 gallons of water saved!

Tuesday

Spice up your Tuesday by greening your commute.  If you live in an area with access to public transit try it out.  If you’re close enough to your office to walk or bike wake up a little early so you can.  If none of those options work try setting up an office carpool.  This will help you and some of your coworkers to cut back on the amount of fuel you use. 

Wednesday

Try to cut out electronics.  While many of us can’t escape using computers at work we can still cut back at home.  Try to go a day without using your television or home computer. Limit the number of lights on in your home and try grilling out instead of running your oven.  In the summer especially you can use the extended daylight hours to get outside instead of staying cooped up.

Thursday

Make Thursday your no printing day.  Instead of printing off emails or articles you want to read use a program such as Adobe Reader to read and annotate right on your computer.  If you absolutely must print remember to do so double-sided.

Friday

Happy Friday!  You’ve almost made it through your week of green living.  Use your Friday to make sure you’ve been separating your recyclables appropriately throughout the week.  Check your trash for commonly missed items like empty soap bottles or used foil.  Once you have them all gathered, take them to your local recycling facility.  Then you’ll be ready to start collecting again the next week.

Saturday

Enjoy your weekend by using Saturday as a day to try a fun green activity like upcycling or crafting.  There are tons of ideas out there for adults and children alike.  Find the project you’d like to do in the morning and spend the day tackling it.  This could be doubly beneficial since it will give you something to do besides playing on your computer or watching TV.  If you’d like some upcycling ideas, check out some of our previous posts on the subject!

 

See, a weeks’ worth of green living and you’ll hardly even notice.  If these ideas don’t appeal to you add in your own.  You can also change up the rotation or even try a longer two week one if you have several ideas.  Whatever works for you.  Let us know in the comments section if you have ideas we missed!

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What are the RCRA 8 Metals?

  
  
  

MetalsIn the past we’ve discussed several of the criteria for identifying hazardous wastes including hazardous waste characteristics and wastes which are listed.   RCRA monitors a long list of elements and solid wastes that are considered environmentally hazardous because they exhibit characteristics of corrosivity, toxicity, ignitability, or reactivity.

On this list there are eight RCRA monitored metals, known as the RCRA 8s.  These eight metals include: arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, selenium and silver.  Each metal is discussed further below with the designated degrees of concentration identified for each metal.

Arsenic

The first RCRA 8 metal is arsenic.  While small quantities of arsenic can be found in food, water, and household products it becomes very dangerous at high concentrations.  At 250 parts per million (ppm) it becomes toxic.  As you may know, arsenic is monitored by RCRA because it is toxic to humans.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hazardous waste code for arsenic is D004, and its allowable limit in waste is 5 ppm.

Barium

Barium is a rather common element which has a multitude of applications.  Barium is used as rat poison, in the coloring of fireworks, and in the productions of items like fluorescent light bulbs and tiles.  It can often be found on the tips of drill bits at oil refineries.  “Barium most commonly finds its way to humans through well water supplies and near oil refineries. Barium's EPA hazardous waste code is D005, and its regulated level is 100 ppm.”

Cadmium

According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), “Cadmium is a natural element in the earth's crust. It is usually found as a mineral combined with other elements such as oxygen (cadmium oxide), chlorine (cadmium chloride), or sulfur (cadmium sulfate, cadmium sulfide).  Most cadmium used in the United States is extracted during the production of other metals like zinc, lead, and copper. Cadmium does not corrode easily and has many uses, including batteries, pigments, metal coatings, and plastics.” Cadmium's EPA hazardous waste code is D006, and its regulated level is 1 ppm.

Chromium

Small amounts of chromium, an element found naturally in rocks, soil, plants, and even animals, are needed for human health.  That said, when it is included in compounds created during the manufacture of other products it can become dangerous.  Chromium's EPA hazardous waste code is D007, and its regulated level is 5 ppm.

Lead

Lead is a naturally occurring element which can be found in small quantities in the earth’s crust.  The majority, however, comes from human activities like burning fossil fuels, mining, and manufacturing.  In recent years the use of lead has been diminished but it is still needed and used in things like the production of batteries, ammunition, metal products (solder and pipes), and devices to shield X-rays.  Lead's EPA hazardous waste code is D008; its regulation level is 5 ppm.

Mercury

According to eHow, “Mercury is a naturally occurring metal that in the past was used in thermometers, dental fillings and batteries. Mercury enters the atmosphere from burning coal, manufacturing plants and mining. When combined with other elements, the resulting mercury compounds become more dangerous to human health.”  The EPA hazardous waste code for mercury is D009, and its regulated level is 0.2 ppm.

Selenium

Much like chromium, small doses of selenium are necessary to maintain good health.  It is exposure to large doses that becomes dangerous.  According to the ATSDR, “most processed selenium is used in the electronics industry, but it is also used: as a nutritional supplement; in the glass industry; as a component of pigments in plastics, paints, enamels, inks, and rubber; in the preparation of pharmaceuticals; as a nutritional feed additive for poultry and livestock; in pesticide formulations; in rubber production; as an ingredient in antidandruff shampoos; and as a constituent of fungicides.”  Selenium's EPA hazardous waste code is D010; its regulation level is 1.0 ppm.

Silver

Silver is a naturally occurring substance which according to ATSDR is, “often found as a by-product during the retrieval of copper, lead, zinc, and gold ores. Silver is used to make jewelry, silverware, electronic equipment, and dental fillings. It is also used to make photographs, in brazing alloys and solders, to disinfect drinking water and water in swimming pools, and as an antibacterial agent. Silver has also been used in lozenges and chewing gum to help people stop smoking.”  Silver's EPA hazardous waste code is D011, and its regulation level is 5 ppm.

 

Quoted and cited information (unless otherwise noted) for this blog post was gathered from the eHow article, A List of RCRA Metals and the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry.  As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations. 

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The 3 R’s of Solid Waste Management

  
  
  

3 R'sI think it’s safe to say that we’ve all heard about the three R’s of waste management; reduce, reuse, and recycle.  But do you know why they are in that order and what each one entails?  In order to fully understand the meanings of the three R’s we need to talk about the impact solid waste has on the earth annually.  For example, did you know that each year, Americans throw away 50 billion food and drink cans, 27 billion glass bottles and jars, and 65 million plastic and metal jar and can covers [1].  So how can we cut back on these numbers?  That’s where the three R’s come in to play.

Reduce

As you can likely deduce from its being the first of the three R’s, reducing is the best way to go about managing solid waste.  It’s quite simple really, the less you use the less waste you will produce.  This R causes the most unease in consumers because we tend to think we need to cut back on everything or we won’t be making an impact.  This is not the case, though.  By just doing a few things to cut back you can noticeably reduce your waste without totally altering your lifestyle.  You could do this by:

  • Buying products with less packaging.  Did you know that 30% of the waste in our landfills comes from product packaging?  When shopping for items choose the ones in just one bog or bag as opposed to those that are double and triple packaged.
  • Buying products in bulk.  By buying more of the same item all at once you reduce the overall amount of packaging you will encounter.
  • Try to stay away from disposable goods.  In particular, paper plates, cups, and plastic utensils. 
  • Buy durable goods.  Especially when making a big purchase look into the history and reviews of the item you are buying.  By buying something that will last you help to make sure wastes will stay out of landfills for longer. 

Reuse

The second R is for reuse.  This one is becoming more and more popular with the surge of upcycling and craft projects all over the web.  If you reuse something as opposed to throwing it away you keep waste out of landfills and create something new.  A quick internet search can open a world of ideas or you can try any of the following:

  • Don’t automatically throw away items that are broken, several can be reused and turned into great new things!
  • Use sealable containers rather than plastic wrap.
  • Invest in some reusable shopping bags or bring old plastic ones with you to the store.
  • Look into upcycling ideas for common household items, many have alternate uses you may never have thought about.
  • Embrace hand-me-downs.  As a younger sibling I can understand wanting clothes of your own but if you have kids of similar ages try to supplement wardrobes with some hand-me-downs as well.  Another option is to shop second hand stores or consignment shops.  That way the items will be totally new to you while still helping to reuse someone else’s potential waste. 

Recycle

The final, and probably the best known, R stands for recycling.  As you probably know, recycling is the process of remanufacturing a product to be sold as new.  Along with the basics of paper, plastic, glass, and cardboard there are tons of items which can be recycled that you may not even realize.  And remember, recycling only works if you complete the process by buying recycled materials.  Start recycling today by doing any of the following:

  • Check with your municipal garbage company to see if they have a recycling option as well.  This can help make recycling even easier.
  • Check with local recycling facilities to see what items they accept.
  • Start an office recycling program.

      

 

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Surface Impoundment Inspection and Response Actions

  
  
  

Surface Impoundment Inspection and Response ActionsLast week we talked about the design and operation requirements for surface impoundments.  Today we’re going to continue on that topic by covering the inspection and response actions that must be completed by surface impoundment operators.  In case you’ve forgotten, surface impoundments are a lot like landfill cells.  The main difference being that surface impoundments are used for temporary storage or treatment and a landfill cell is designated for final waste disposal.

What are the Inspection Requirements for Surface Impoundments?

To start, we must note that these inspection requirements must be completed in conjunction with the general inspection requirements in §264/265.226.  The first additional requirement deals with design and structural integrity of the land disposal unit.  According to the EPA, “the owner and operator must inspect liners and covers for any problems after construction or installation and continue inspections weekly and after storms to monitor for evidence of deterioration, malfunctions, improper operation of overtopping systems, sudden drops in the level of the impoundment contents, and severe erosions of dikes and other containment devices.”

The second additional requirement addresses leak detection sumps.  According to this rule, on a minimum of a weekly basis owners and operators of land disposal units like surface impoundments must monitor their leak detection sumps in order to measure the amount of liquid within them and to determine whether or not the action leakage rate (ALR) has been exceeded.  Doing so makes sure that both the liner and the leachate pump are working efficiently.  If owners or operators discover that the ALR has been exceeded they must notify the Agency and respond “in accordance with the response action plan.”

What Response Actions must Surface Impoundments comply with?

Much like the inspection requirements, surface impoundments must also comply with two types of response actions. According to the EPA, “the response action for the performance of the unit is determined by the terms of the response action plan, triggered when the ALR has been exceeded (§264/265.223). If the action leakage rate has been exceeded, the owner and operator must notify the Regional Administrator or authorized state; determine what short-term actions must be taken (e.g., shut down of the facility for repairs); determine the location, size, and cause of any leak; and send the assessments to the Region or authorized state.”

The other response action deals with emergency repair provisions in the case of a unit design failure at permitted facilities. The EPA specifies that “if there is an indication of a failure of the containment system (e.g., a sudden drop in the level of the contents not attributable to changes in the flow in or out of the impoundment), the surface impoundment must be removed from service.”  If this happens the owners and operators of the surface impoundment must follow the plans laid out in the contingency plan.  This would include any emergency repairs that need to be made. 

 

Quoted and EPA cited information (unless otherwise noted) for this blog post was gathered from the EPA document, Introduction to Land Disposal Units.”  As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations. 

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11 Ways to Reuse Plastic Bags

  
  
  

Plastic BagsI go through phases concerning what I do for lunch at work.  Lately I’ve been on a sandwich kick.  As you might expect, this means using plastic sandwich bags.  I tend to wrap my sandwiches in a paper towel before I put them in the plastic bag.  If you don’t do this I would recommend starting.  While it may seem counterintuitive to the idea of cutting back on waste it will help you to keep your bags clean.  That way you can use them more than once and they’ll be better prepped for some of the reuse ideas below.

1. ChasingGreen provides the following instruction for using a plastic bag to make your own baby wipes.  “Place soft paper towels in a sealable sandwich bag with a mixture of 1 tablespoon gentle antibacterial soap, 1 teaspoon baby oil, and 1/3 cup water. The mixture should be diluted enough to just moisten the towels, not drench them. Once your towels are sealed in the bags, you've got the thrifty parent's solution to expensive, store-bought baby wipes that quickly dry out!”

2. Use a plastic bag as an impromptu cold pack.  By wetting a cloth and putting it in a plastic bag you can create a cool cloth that won’t drip all over.  Additionally, you can keep a few of these premade in the freezer to use as icepacks. 

3. Make a frosting bag. Instead of buying premade frosting bags just use a Ziploc bag.  Simply scoop your frosting into the bag, trim off a corner, and you’re ready to go!

4. Make an emergency pack for your vehicle.  This is a great way to reuse larger sized Ziploc bags.  Fill one with items such as a small bottle of water, a power bar, a thermal blanket, a flashlight, and a candle.  Then if you find yourself in a tight spot you’ll have everything in one place.

5. Much like the frosting bag, a plastic bag can work as a quick funnel.  Just pour whatever you need funneled into your bag, pick the corner up and snip the end off, and place it into the opening you’re funneling into.   

6. Keep ice off the top of your ice cream.  If you place your open container of ice cream in a sealed plastic bag it will help to prevent ice from building up on the surface of your favorite frozen treat.  

7. Another idea from ChasingGreen, “Place small portions of…prepared cookie dough in sandwich bags, add drops of food coloring, and then squish the dough around until the color is uniform. Your hands will be dye-free and because the dough is already bagged, you can either bake it immediately or put it in the freezer for later use.”

8. Keep your valuables safe in the water.  If you’re canoeing or swimming place items like cellphones and car keys in a sandwich bag filled with air.  Not only will this protect them from the water should they get wet but it will keep them afloat if they fall off the dock or out of the boat. 

9. Make a portable doggy water dish.  If you and your canine companion like to walk or hike consider filling a gallon bag with water and keeping it in your bag.  If Fido gets thirsty just grab it out and hold it open so he can get a drink.

10.  Keep padlocks from freezing in the winter.  Zip a bag up as much as possible around your padlock to keep moisture out and prevent your lock from freezing up.  This is especially helpful if your snow removal equipment is in that padlocked shed!

11. Although not a reuse idea, you could also consider using other items in place of your plastic bags such as washable containers or reusable bags.

So what will you do with your plastic bags?  Let us know any other ideas in the comments section!  

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Surface Impoundments: Design and Operation

  
  
  

Surface ImpoundmentsWhen the EPA was designing the cradle-to-grave system for managing hazardous wastes they developed nine different land disposal units.  These units include landfill, surface impoundment, waste pile, injection well, land treatment facility, salt dome formation, salt bed formation, underground mine, and underground cave.  Four of these nine unit types required additional technical standards set forth by the EPA.  Today we will be covering the design and operating standards of one of those four, surface impoundments.  

Surface impoundments are a lot like landfill cells in that, “both units are either a natural topographic depression, manmade excavation, or diked area formed primarily of earthen materials, such as soil.”  Additionally, both may be lined with manmade materials.  Their uses, however, are what make them so different.  According to the EPA, “surface impoundments are generally used for temporary storage or treatment, whereas a landfill is an area designated for final waste disposal.”  Because of this, the closure and post-closure standards are very different. 

How are surface impoundments designed?

When the EPA began developing the design and operation standards for surface impoundments they operated with the goal of minimizing the formation and migration of leachate to the adjacent subsurface soil, groundwater, and surface water in mind. 

According to the EPA, “these comprehensive technical requirements for surface impoundments are the minimum technological requirements (MTRs) mandated by RCRA.  These sections require a double liner, a LCRS, and a leak detection system.”  The MTRs are applicable to all new units, lateral expansions, and replacement units constructed or reused after July 29th of 1992. 

First things first, we’ll talk about the double liner.  This system includes, “a top liner to prevent migration of hazardous constituents into the liner and a composite bottom liner consisting of a synthetic geomembrane and three feet of compacted soil material.” 

In addition to this liner system, the unit has to have a leachate collection and removal system (LCRS) which also serves as a leak detection system.  According to the EPA, “The LCRS, along with the leak detection system drainage layers, must be designed with a bottom slope of at least one percent, be made of materials chemically resistant to the wastes placed in the unit, and be able to remove the liquids at a specified minimum rate. The LCRS itself must be designed to collect liquids in a sump and subsequently pump out those liquids. In addition to the performance and design requirements, the LCRS must be located between the liners immediately above the bottom composite liner, enabling the LCRS to collect the largest amount of leachate, while also representing the most efficient place to identify leaks.”

Making sure that material can’t leak back into the earth is not the only consideration that must be made, however.  Surface impoundments also must be designed to prevent liquids from flowing over the top (called overtopping) and “ensure the structural integrity of any dikes.”  The owner or operator must also develop a site-specific flow rate for leachate which is called the action leakage rate or ALR.  This is used to indicate when a units system is not functioning as it should.

Because of the importance of these design regulations (and since none of the aforementioned technologies will work if the impoundment is not installed correctly or made of quality materials) the EPA requires a construction quality assurance (CQA) program to make sure that an impoundment meets all technical criteria.  According to the EPA, “The CQA program requires a CQA plan that identifies how construction materials and their installation will be monitored and tested and how the results will be documented (§264.19). The CQA program is developed and implemented under the direction of a registered professional engineer, who must also certify that the CQA plan has been successfully carried out and that the unit meets all specifications before any waste is received.”

 

Quoted and EPA cited information (unless otherwise noted) for this blog post was gathered from the EPA document, Introduction to Land Disposal Units.”  As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations. 

 

 

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10 Summer Energy Saving Tips

  
  
  

Summer Energy TipsIn the past we’ve done a couple of posts on saving energy in the winter but I don’t think we’ve discussed ways to do so in the summer.  Since the goal is to save energy year round I took to the internet to compile some of the best tips out there. 

1. Minimize the extra heat in your home.  You can do this by running your dishwasher and dryer at night as opposed to during the day.  Since it is cooler at night you won’t notice the increase in temperature so much.  You could also consider line drying clothes and turning off the “heated dry” option on your dishwasher so dishes will air dry.

2. Limit the use of your oven.  Much like the idea above, limiting the use of your oven is a great way to cut down on your summer energy consumption.  The oven will heat up your house and lead you to using more air conditioning.  Cook in a toaster oven or on the grill outside to cut back on the heat generated in your home. 

3.  Prep your home cooling system.  Before the heat really sets in have someone come tune up your central air system to make sure it’s running at peak efficiency.  Then make sure to replace your filters every month to keep it running smooth. 

4. Understand the sun.  Since it is at its highest and hottest during the day make sure to keep your windows, curtains, and blinds shut.  Once it cools off at night open them again.

5. Try not to run the air conditioning too much.  The generally agreed upon temperature to try to have your thermostat set on while you’re at home is 78°.  Consider ticking it up to around 83°-85° when you’re away.  Installing a programmable thermostat can help even the most forgetful of us to manage this system.

6. Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.  Unlike the cold winter months, summer doesn’t usually inspire hot hot showers.  Cut down on your energy use by not heating the water hotter than necessary.

7. Make use of your ceiling fans.  Even if you have central air, remember to not neglect your ceiling fans.  They help with circulating the air around your home and provide a nice breeze.  If you really want to embrace the fan life consider installing a whole house fan.  These can be run at night and help to capture the cooler air so you don't need to use your air conditioning so much the next day.

8. Seal up leaks.  Just like your heat can escape in the winter your cool air can escape in the summer.  Weather-strip, seal, and caulk around any leaky doors or windows.  Consumer Energy Center also recommends installing foam gaskets behind outlet covers.

9. Break out the shorts and tank tops!  Many of us tend to lounge around the house in whatever clothes we wore to work that day.  Ditch the khakis and button downs once your home and opt for lighter summer duds instead.   

10. Style At Home touts the benefits of “strategic gardening.”  They recommend “plant[ing] deciduous trees and shrubs against the south and west sides of your home. In summer, the leafy foliage shades against solar heat, while in winter, bare branches let warm sunlight stream into your home. As shade trees grow, so do your energy savings. According to the US Department of Energy, three big shade trees will chop as much as $250 off your annual energy bill.”

If you add some of these seasonal ideas to your regular list of ways to go green without noticing you will be in for a great and energy conscious summer! 

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Tracking and Record Keeping Requirements: LDR Waste Generators

  
  
  

Tracking and Recordkeeping Requirements: LDR Waste GeneratorsWe've been covering LDR topics recently.  Today we are going to keep on that train of thought and go over the tracking and record keeping requirements the EPA dictates for generators of LDR restricted wastes.  The EPA requires both generators and ten day facilities managing LDR restricted wastes to, “meet certain notification, certification, waste analysis, and recordkeeping requirements.”  The LDR notification and certification paperwork is similar to a hazardous waste manifest; it is used to help hazardous waste handlers as well as EPA enforcers to help make sure wastes are handled appropriately. 

According to the EPA, “A notification accompanies the initial shipment of each waste that is subject to LDR and includes such information as the waste code(s), the hazardous constituents present in the waste, and waste analysis data.”  Only if the waste or receiving facility changes does the EPA require further notification.  If a waste does not need further treatment to be eligible for land disposal a certification stating so must accompany the initial notification.  The EPA requires waste handlers to keep this paperwork so they can properly track wastes and ensure they are getting properly treated prior to land disposal.

The EPA requires generators to determine whether or not a waste is subject to LDR at “the point of generation.”  This determination can be made by testing or simply by applying knowledge.  If the waste is subject to LDR and does not meet set treatment standards then generators must let the treatment facility know in writing.  The notice must be included with the manifest and needs to include the following information:

  • “EPA hazardous waste code(s)
  • Identification of the waste as a wastewater or nonwastewater
  • Manifest number associated with the waste shipment
  • Waste analysis data (if available)
  • For characteristic wastes, any additional hazardous constituents present
  • When hazardous debris is to be treated by an alternative technology in §268.45, a statement to that effect and the contaminants subject to treatment
  • For contaminated soil, a list of the constituents subject to treatment and a statement that the soil does or does not meet LDR standards.”

If, however, the waste already meets set treatment standards the generator must submit a signed certification that says the waste meets the aforementioned standards.  That certification will then need to accompany a copy of the notification statement detailed above.

A similar notification must be submitted if the waste qualifies for an exemption from a treatment standard.  This can include national capacity variance, case-by-case extension, or no-migration exemption, among others.  If this is the case, the certification must also include the date on which the waste will become subject to LDR prohibitions.

According to the EPA, “generators may treat hazardous waste in accumulation tanks, containers, or containment buildings provided the units are in compliance with certain standards applicable to TSDFs (§262.34). EPA believes that generators should have the same recordkeeping and documentation responsibilities that apply to TSDFs when treating wastes to meet LDR treatment standards. Therefore, §268.7(a)(5) requires generators to prepare a waste analysis plan when treating wastes to meet LDR. The waste analysis plans must justify the frequency of testing based on a detailed analysis of a representative sample of the waste. The plan must contain all information necessary for proper treatment of the waste in accordance with Part 268, and must be retained in the facility's records (55 FR 22670; June 1, 1990). Generators who are conducting partial treatment, but not treating to meet treatment standards are not required to have a waste analysis plan.”

 

Quoted and EPA cited information (unless otherwise noted) for this blog post was gathered from the EPA document, “Introduction to Land Disposal Restrictions.”  As always, this blog post is not intended to be comprehensive and it is always best to check with the EPA and local government for full, up-to-date, rules and regulations. 

 

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