Archive | December, 2013

Sleepyhead Beds: Helping children in need and keeping mattresses out of landfills

sleepyhead beds vanThe MARC Solid Waste Management District administers an annual grant program that awards funds to local communities and organizations for waste reduction and recycling-related projects. From time to time, we publish updates about recent grant recipients.

Most of us will likely have a few mattresses throughout our lifetimes. What did you do with your last mattress after you bought a new one? Instead of throwing out an old mattress, you can do something good for kids in the Kansas City region and for the environment.

If your old mattress is still in reasonable shape, with no noticeable stains or structural problems, you can donate it to Sleepyhead Beds. Sleepyhead Beds is a local organization that takes gently used, unwanted mattresses and sanitizes and sterilizes them for redistribution to children in need. The organization also accepts donations of clean, gently used sheets, comforters and pillow cases.

In 2013, Sleepyhead Beds received a grant from the MARC Solid Waste Management District to purchase a truck and hire a driver to expand its program for collecting and redistributing beds and bedding. This helped Sleepyhead Beds redistribute more than 1,600 mattresses and 1,200 pounds of bedding. If you lined up those mattresses end to end, they would stretch over two miles!

Reusing mattresses also saves a lot of time and energy since recycling them can be very difficult. Plus, any mattress that ends up in a landfill takes up a lot of space. If the 1,600 mattresses redistributed by Sleepyhead Beds were all twin-sized they would take up 27,000 cubic feet, or enough space to cover a basketball court eight times. (That would make it much easier to dunk!)

To learn more or to arrange a donation, visit Sleepyhead Bed’s website.

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There’s a green elephant in the room

white elephant green bow

Happy Regifting Day!

In honor of National Regifting Day, held every year on the third Thursday in December, we’re sharing this fun holiday party idea.

This year, that white elephant in the room will encourage guests to talk about how fun and eco-friendly your gathering is!

A green elephant gift exchange is just like the white elephant version, but with a green twist. Here’s how to set one up:

  1. In your e-vite, ask each guest to bring an item for the Green Elephant Gift Exchange. It must be:
    • Pre-owned
    • Fun — the more tacky and off the wall the better!
    • Wrapped in an earth-friendly manner (reusable or recyclable wrapping only)
  1. Before you begin the exchange write numbers on slips of paper, starting at one and ending at the number of guests participating.
  1. At the party, have guests place the gifts in a central location.
  1. Each participant draws a number. The numbers determine the order in which participants choose a gift.
  1. The first person opens a wrapped gift and the turn ends.
  1. On subsequent turns, each person gets the choice of choosing a wrapped gift from the pile or “stealing” any unwrapped item from another player. Participants must keep unwrapped gifts in view.
  1. The game is over when the last person has taken his or her turn.
  1. Encourage your guests to save any “unappreciated” items for their next green elephant gift exchange.

Notes on play:

  • When a gift is stolen, the robbed player must select a replacement gift from the pile of wrapped presents.
  • A player cannot immediately steal back the gift that was stolen, but must wait at least one round before stealing back a gift.
  • A gift cannot be stolen more than once a turn.

In no time at all, guests will be laughing and you’ll find the true meaning of greening the holidays!

For more information and variations on game rules, search for white elephant gift exchanges online.

Don’t forget to visit for all your holiday reuse and recycling needs.

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Sustainable product websites help you shop smart for the holidays

paper cardWhen you’re faced with a shelf full of products, it’s hard to know what the best choice is for you and for our environment.

An easy way to help keep our air clean is to shop at locally-owned stores or markets: the shorter the distance a product has to travel, the fewer emissions enter our air. But shopping smart can reach beyond local shops. Several websites add transparency and product information to the decision-making process.

  • helps you buy “safe, healthy, green and ethical products based on scientific ratings.” Products receive scores in three categories: health, environment and society. You can look up your favorite products to learn their scores, or scan a bar code at the store using the mobile app.
  • lists the top 20 best and worst companies based on five categories: environment, human rights, animal protection, community involvement and social justice. They intend to rank “every company in the world,” and you can buy the complete shopping guide for $10 (plus shipping).
  • Try to find holiday cards like these that use soy-based inks to cut down on solvents, and buy 100 percent recycled paper to reduce air pollution associated with growing and logging trees. Or, you might consider sending a Christmas e-card instead.
  • explains how much water it took to get a product to you, whether it’s your daily apple or the jeans you’re wearing. It was originally designed as a free iPhone app, but also has a mobile version available via the website.

Larger corporations have caught on to the eco-trend, as well:

  • Target recently launched its Sustainable Product Standard, designed in partnership with GoodGuide, which adds packaging and water quality scores along with GoodGuide’s rankings.
  • Last year Amazon started, a site which determines if products are sustainable, organic or energy and water efficient, among other standards, before selling them.
  • eBay encourages green shopping with a separate site for green buyers and sellers.

With these resources, you can help our air quality AND check off all the presents on your lists this year.

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Highlighting 2013

The MARC Solid Waste Management District held its 2013 Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, Dec. 11, at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center. Dr. Joseph Martinich, University of Missouri — St. Louis, spoke about the benefits of recycling on Missouri’s economy. The district also recognized several individuals and organizations that have made notable contributions to regional waste management and recycling efforts. The 2013 Special Recognition Award recipients were:

from left to right: Marleen Leonce, City of Kansas City, Mo. Kate Corwin – Green Works in Kansas City Kendall Welch - Alderman, Parkville Meredith Hauck – City of Riverside Tanya Cotton – Heritage Environmental Services Brian Alferman, PlanetReuse

Public Employee — Marleen Leonce, Kansas City, Missouri.
The Public Employee award recognizes a public employees who has shown dedication to the development and advancement of waste reduction and recycling through individual achievement and commitment.

Individual Supporter —  Brian Alferman.
The Individual Supporter award recognizes an individual who has made exceptional contributions and commitment to the district’s waste reduction and recycling efforts.

Green Event — Northland Recycling Extravaganza, cities of Parkville and Riverside.
The Green Event award recognizes a special event that promotes sustainable practices. Meredith Hauck with the City of Riverside and Kendall Welch, Parkville Alderman accepted this award.

Waste Industry — Heritage Environmental Services.
The Waste Industry award recognizes outstanding waste reduction and recycling efforts for a business in the waste industry. Tanya Cotton accepted this award.

Environmental Educator — Green Works in Kansas City.
The Environmental Educator award recognizes an individual or group for commitment to educating others about the need for and benefit of waste reduction and recycling. Kate Corwin accepted this award.

Please join us in congratulating our award recipients and their contributions to help the region achieve its goal of 80 percent waste diversion.

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Fight food waste at your festivities

AppetizersFood: it’s the center of every holiday gathering.

But between thinking about all those calories and the sheer quantity of food, most of us don’t consider how much of it gets wasted.  In fact, the average American wastes between 209 and 253 pounds of food every year, with a fair amount of that waste occurring around the holidays. Here are some ways to reduce waste that will help you, your guests and the environment.

  • Precycle. “Precycling” is when you avoid purchasing unnecessary items that will eventually have to be recycled or thrown away. For holiday meals, try to purchase products with less packaging, use durable dishware and cook only for the number of people who will eat at your gathering.
  • Prepare healthy portions. Love Food Hate Waste’s online portion planner will tell you how much food to purchase based on the type of food you want to serve and the number of people who will eat it.
  • Make a list and stick with it. A list will ensure you don’t forget anything and keep you from buying and spending too much.
  • Let guests serve themselves. When guests serve themselves they can choose the items they actually want to eat.
  • Use smaller plates. Smaller plates help fend off the dreaded “my-eyes-are-bigger-than-my-stomach” syndrome.
  • Ask guests to bring reusable containers. This way you won’t have to eat all those leftovers yourself and your guests will have something to eat the next day. Plus you’ll reuse others’ containers instead of buying new ones.

Don’t forget to visit for all of your holiday reuse and recycling needs!

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