5 Terrible Things That Happen When You Don’t Recycle

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, America produces over 258 million tons of waste every year ― which is close to a ton of trash per American citizen. The EPA believes as much as 75 percent of that waste to be recyclable or reusable, but instead of properly disposing of unwanted goods, many Americans choose to carelessly toss anything and everything into the garbage can. The results of this behavior are quickly becoming disastrous, impacting not only natural environments but also urban areas and human livelihoods. Here are a few ways failing to recycle negatively impacts the world around us.

1. Landfill Growth
Nearly all of America’s trash goes into landfills, which are essentially gigantic midden heaps that are eventually covered with soil and potentially used for urban development. The positive idea behind landfills is that trash will eventually decompose and settle, turning into fertile land. The problem is that much of our waste is not biodegradable; plastics require between 10 and 1,000 years to begin breaking down, and even then, the chemicals used in them can leach into groundwater and destroy surrounding environments.


2. Marine Pollution

Not all garbage is safely tucked into a landfill. At least 10 percent of all plastics created have found their way into the oceans, creating enormous gyres where the non-biodegradable waste is more plentiful than plankton. Most of the pollution comes from poor waste management on land, but some is dumped by unscrupulous ocean liners. The plastics wreak havoc on marine environments, as animals ingest or become entangled in the waste.

3. Incineration

For many, burning trash seems a viable solution to land and water pollution. However, incineration might be even more disastrous than landfills. For one, many products and packaging materials are made using toxic chemicals that are released into the air during the burning process. For another, glass as well as many plastics do not burn except at exceedingly high temperatures, which requires excessive amounts of fuel ― which itself releases dangerous emissions. Studies have found that air pollution causes all sorts of terrible diseases, from chronic asthma and cancer to birth defects.

4. Resource Waste

It isn’t just the items or materials themselves that are wasted when you throw something away; all the effort and energy used to create those items are also squandered. Between 2.5 and 4 percent of U.S. energy consumption is devoted to the manufacturing of plastic and plastic products; what’s more, at least 24 gallons of water is used to create just one pound of plastic, and about 2.5 million plastic bottles are produced every hour. Those resources could be diverted to more beneficial endeavors if everyone recycled more.

5. Economic Trouble

Though it might seem an economic advantage to create disposable goods that must be repurchased, pollution actually hinders economic advancement in notable ways. For example, many beaches experience lower tourism because the sand and water is covered in trash; fishing and shipping industries have reportedly suffered losses of $365 million and $279 million thanks to debris-clogged waterways. Less trash is almost synonymous with more profit for much of the economy.

How to Reduce Trash the Right Way

Though some waste is inevitable, it is possible to drastically reduce the amount of trash you personally produce. For example, one woman committed to a minimal-plastic lifestyle and managed to produce less than 16 ounces of waste over a two-year period. Not everyone has the luxury of avoiding plastic and packaging so thoroughly, but there are a number of effective ways you can increase your recycling efforts.

• First, you should strive to reduce the amount of purchases you make. This doesn’t necessarily mean becoming minimalist; instead, you should merely consider investing in a few well-designed and manufactured products rather than many cheap and disposable ones.

• Next, you should research what objects around your home can be reused. In fact, most things can find new life, and many charities gladly pick up or take in items you don’t want to sell. Some of these items will directly improve the lives of the needy, but others, especially valuables like digital devices on up to larger items like broken-down cars or boats, can be refurbished and sold for funds to benefit charities.

• Finally, you should learn more about recycling services in your area. Not all cities have the resources to recycle all types of materials. Instead of tossing any paper, plastic, or glass good in the recycling bin, you might need to find facilities designed to recycle specific goods. Items that are improperly recycled are likely to end up as pollution.

The E-Waste Problem and How to Help created by Digital Doc

36 amazing facts about polar bears

Did you know that polar bears are actually black? Or that they can eat 100 pounds of blubber in just one sitting? Not just stars in Coca Cola commercials, polar bears are fascinating creatures; it’s no wonder they’re known as the ‘Lord of the Arctic’ in some parts of the world.

These 1500 pound beasts have the thickest fur of all bear species, which explains why they look so warm and comfortable despite living in some of the world’s coldest climes. They also have a thick layer of blubber to insulate them and will actually dig snow shelter holes when the cold gets too much even for them.

Churchill is one of the rare places where we can observe polar bears in the wild. On Hudson Bay, polar bears explore the ice packs that form over the water hunting for seals to eat.

This infographic celebrates some of the wildest facts about polar bears. Check out some of the weird and wonderful details that make these creatures so unique. Maybe it will inspire you to add a little more grrr to your brrr!

insane-facts-about-polar-bears.png
insane-facts-about-polar-bears.png

3 Ways to Make Your Home a Little Greener

greenlivingguy.com3 Ways to Make Your Home a Little Greener

Climate change and going green are two of the hottest topics on everyone’s mind. Going green can mean quite a few things for different people. It can begin with transportation, diet, or changing the cleaning supplies you use. Today we want to discuss how we can make you’re a bit greener and change your impact on the planet.

Look to Your Roof

Green roofs are very popular amongst city dwellers. Land can be harder to come by, making growing a garden that much more difficult. And we need to have as much green space as possible to help create more oxygen, reduce urban heat issues, and provide affordable sustainable food sources for families in our communities. It’s important to pay attention to the weight of your green roof. Some soils, not to mention watering them, can create very heavy gardens on the roof. You also want to be aware of creating drainages to allow for safe run off. 


You also should decide if you wish to create a food garden or grass garden. Certain types of plants will be heavier than others and there are tons of different kinds of grass seed types available on the market. With so many options, we are confident you can find a green roof to fit your lifestyle!

Shorter Showers

This is one tip that bears repeating over and over, even though it’s one of the most popular tips out there. Baths take a lot of water and showers are a little more efficient in terms of water usage. But, you should still take the time to get in and out as fast as possible. An average shower runs around 8 minutes long, which is quite wasteful. Here are a few tips on how to cut down on shower time:

· Don’t turn on the shower until you are ready to get in

· Use a non toxic soap, shampoo and conditioner. So many toxins in typical brands

Meyer’s is a non toxic soap

· Save any shaving for the bathroom sink

· Wash and get out, no standing around under the water

· Swap out your shower head for a more efficient model

Change Your Lighting

Lighting is easily an area to go green in. Changing your lighting will reduce your electric bill and your impact on the planet. Additionally, changing out the materials can lessen the use of toxic materials to create them. Here are a few ways you can change the lighting in your home to reflect a greener lifestyle:

· Change your light bulbs to Light Emitting Diodes (LED) 

· Purchase lamps that are made from wood or recycled materials

· Unplug your power adaptors when your lighting fixture is not in use

· Install skylights designed to filter in sunlight to light your home

· Install dimmers to minimize electric usage for lighting

Lighting is easily an area to go green in. Changing your lighting will reduce your electric bill and your impact on the planet. Additionally, changing out the materials can lessen the use of toxic materials to create them. Here are a few ways you can change the lighting in your home to reflect a greener lifestyle:

Going green can sound like a daunting task, but really, it’s one of the more simplest moves we can make. And given our ecological state, it’s one thing we should do. Even if you only go green in one area of your life, it still makes all the difference. Do what you can, when you can!

10 Celebrities Advocating for Climate Change

Studies indicate that celebrity culture has a significant influence on consumer choices and lifestyle. In a fun and lighthearted manner, I have shared interesting facts on how each celebrity has contributed towards a more sustainable world. 

I love that this idea 

  1. uses popular global figures to highlight sustainability
  2. inspires more people to be eco-friendly
  3. shows that climate change can be combated through activism

Here’s an infographic on “10 Celebrities Advocating for Climate Change”.


What’s the Average Cost of Solar Across the US, With a Focus on New York and California? The Green Living Guy Investigates.

A solar installation crew hard at work in New York – photo courtesy of Kasselman Solar
A solar installation crew hard at work in New York – photo courtesy of Kasselman Solar

Solar has gone from being an expensive rarity to a common sight on rooftops in many places across the country. As a result, homeowners have switched from asking if solar is actually worth it to how much it costs.

Unfortunately, determining how much solar would actually cost for your home isn’t simple. To give homeowners a better idea of true prices out there, Green Living Guy decided to do some research!
First off, why is determining the cost of solar so difficult? There are several reasons for this:

1) Not all homes use the same amount of energy – this can even be true of homes that are right next to each other.

2) Different homes have different roof angles and receive different amounts of sun.

3) Rebates and incentives change from state to state, and even utility to utility.

4) Installers don’t tend to publish their prices, and pricing can vary widely from one installer to another for the same panels.

5) Prices have been dropping rapidly for the past ten years, making price studies from only a few years back completely inaccurate.

So how are homeowners supposed to know even a general ballpark for prices when considering purchasing solar? Well, we went looking better information, and we found several recent studies that help shed light on the actual cost of installing solar.

We looked at studies from both Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a federally-funded laboratory which does a large amount of research on all kinds of energy, and Solar to the People, an independent marketplace site that evaluates solar installers and publishes educational studies for homeowners.

The Lawrence Berkeley study looks at solar costs across the entire US, and is quite an in-depth study –

Here are our takeaways from the Lawrence Berkeley study:

1) Residential solar prices have dropped enormously across the country in the past decade

– Home solar prices have dropped roughly 55% from 2005 to 2015. The average price of an installed watt of home solar in 2005 was $9.04. In 2015 installing that same watt cost $4.05.

Image and data source: Tracking the Sun report by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2016
Image and data source: Tracking the Sun report by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2016

2) The prices that homeowners pay per installed watt of installed solar within states varies– as you can see in the graph below, people pay a wide range of prices for each installed watt. So prices vary not only ACROSS states (you can see that California prices in 2015 are almost 20% HIGHER than New Jersey prices), but WITHIN states – we were surprised to the extent that homeowners within a state paid such different amounts per watt of installed solar.

Image and data source: Tracking the Sun report by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2016
Image and data source: Tracking the Sun report by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2016

All this variation between states got us thinking – how much do installations cost overall versus just on a per-watt basis, and are there differences across regions WITHIN states?

For this part of our research, we turned to several studies that looked at two of the most popular places to install solar nationwide – California and New York. Lo and behold, it turns out that there are large variations within states, and you could be paying significantly more or less for solar than the state average depending on the region you live in.

We dug into Solar to the People’s study on the cost of solar panels in New York to understand how prices for home solar varied across the Empire State in the first six months of 2016. We were shocked to see the large variations you can see in the infographic below.

Image and data source – Solar to the People, 2016
Image and data source – Solar to the People, 2016

According to the data collected by Solar to the People, the average price for a home solar installation in New York state in the first half of 2016 was $16,426. Regional prices varied heavily for a full installation of home solar panels from a low of $12,361 in the Ithaca area to a high of $21,104 for solar on Long Island. The reasons for these price differences were primarily due the differences in state incentives. This incentive program is called the NY-Sun residential rebate program and is still available and going strong for upstate New York (where Ithaca is located), but is no longer available in Long Island. Long Island homeowners continue to go solar regardless, as they live in one of the highest cost areas for electricity in the country.
Of course, there’s no way we can discuss regional solar costs without looking at the reigning king of home solar installations, California. We looked at Solar to the People’s California study to get some insight into if there are regional differences in the cost of installing solar in California. According to the study, the average cost of a home solar installation in California in 2015 was $18,675.

Yet again, we saw there were sizable difference between the least and most expensive regions, though not nearly as large as New York. On average the highest-cost area for Solar in California was the Redding and Shasta / Cascades area at $20,698, and the least expensive was the Central Coast at $16,212. The differences in these prices seemed to be almost exclusively due to the size differences between installations in those two areas. The prices for home solar in the majority of the regions in the Golden State seemed to hover around the statewide average, like San Diego at $18,540 and Orange County at $18,866.

Image and data source – Solar to the People, 2016
Image and data source – Solar to the People, 2016

Hopefully our research has helped you understand a bit more about the national and regional costs of home solar installations! We think that knowledge is power that giving homeowners accurate information on solar is essential to help the renewable energy revolution keep on steaming ahead!