Archive | October, 2014

Find your solar potential

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By Laura Machala, solar energy coordinator

Created as part of the Solar Ready II initiative, the Metro KC Solar Map is a new, interactive website that allows users to look up any address in eight counties in the Kansas City region and view its solar energy potential.

Site visitors can click on any building to display the available roof area for solar, the potential photovoltaic system size, annual electricity cost savings, return on investment, and monthly solar potential in kilowatt hours. The site also provides basic information about solar power and how to contact solar installers. Additional tools still in development will allow users to draw around future building sites to calculate solar potential, and also calculate the solar capacity of an entire street or neighborhood.

Solar Ready II is funded by a Department of Energy Rooftop Solar Challenge II grant. Regional planning council partners are working with more than 200 local governments nationally, representing a population of nearly 19 million people. Locally, Solar Ready II is working with 21 jurisdictions to streamline solar permitting and implement other best management practices that encourage and facilitate solar installation.

Solar mapping website: www.kcsolarmap.org.

For more information, contact Laura Machala, Solar Energy Coordinator, at 816-701-8244 or lmachala@marc.org.

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Waste reduction does more than reusing or recycling

By Matt Riggs, Solid Waste Management District outreach coordinator

reduce-2We’re all familiar with recycle and reuse, but how many of us reduce the amount of waste we create? The Waste Management Hierarchy says that source reduction — or not creating waste in the first place — is preferred over recycling or reusing. Items we recycle at the curb and reuse from the thrift store are important, but are only a drop in the bucket compared to the impact that reducing waste can have.

The production of any item uses energy and resources and generates waste and pollution. Reducing what you buy means less need for resources and energy to create new products, less waste going to the landfill and less pollution released into the environment.

What You Can Do

You can take a number of actions to reduce waste:

  • Don’t purchase products you already have. Keep your belongings clean and organized so you can easily find what you need.
  • Donate unwanted items to friends, family, neighbors, charities and thrift stores.
  • Repair things that are broken instead of replacing them.
  • Maintain homes, buildings, vehicles, equipment, clothing, appliances, etc. Well-maintained items don’t have to be repaired or replaced as often.
  • Buy well-made, durable products. They have a longer lifespan and are more likely repairable.
  • Reuse at work. Find out if your business or organization has a system for reusing, donating or selling surplus supplies and property. If not, suggest it.
  • Share, borrow and rent items you use infrequently. It saves money and resources.
  • When choosing between two similar products, select the one with the least amount of packaging or — better yet — no packaging at all.
  • Choose large or economy-sized items, which often use less packaging per unit of product. However, be sure you can use it all or have friends and family who can share it with you.
  • Choose concentrated products. They often require less packaging and less energy to transport to the store.
  • Use safe alternatives. Many hazardous products have a low- or no-hazard counterpart.
  • Use durable bags instead of paper or plastic bags when shopping for groceries, clothes, toys or tools.
  • Use refillable mugs and water bottles. These days, they come in all shapes and sizes!
  • Use Tupperware for take-out. These can replace disposable paper, plastic and Styrofoam boxes.
  • Be sustainable and save money by shopping for used items. Places to shop include:
    • Garage and estate sales
    • Thrift stores, consignment shops, antique malls or pawn shops
    • Habitat For Humanity ReStores
    • Classified ads
    • eBay or Craigslist
    • Auctions
  • Reuse everyday items. Some common examples include:
    • Plastic grocery sacks as trash bags or thrift store donation bags
    • Dairy tubs as cheap Tupperware
    • Coffee cans as storage containers for hardware
    • Old t-shirts as shop or cleaning rags
    • Popsicle sticks, paper towel rolls, egg cartons, etc. as art project supplies

For more information, visit RecycleSpot.org or call 816-474-8326.

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Food for thought — and our air

idle-free school zone

Do you take your lunch to work or go out to eat? Either way, we have some tips to make your meal sustainable and waste free so you can have your lunch and reduce your carbon footprint, too.

  • Reduce, reuse and recycle your lunch. Reduce your food waste — the single-largest source of waste in municipal landfills — by adjusting your lunch size to match your appetite. Reuse lunch containers to limit your food wrapper trash. Recycle your leftovers by composting any food you won’t eat later. Contact MARC or Bridging the Gap for guidance on developing a food recycling program at your office.
  • Buy local foods. You can protect air quality by purchasing local foods — less time on the delivery truck means fewer emissions polluting the air. Buying local produce and meats doesn’t have to be expensive or a hassle. LocalHarvest and KC Food Circle can help you find local farmers’ markets, community sustainable agriculture (CSA), farms and shops. If you’re eating out, try carpooling or riding transit to a restaurant that gets its ingredients from area farms.
  • Encourage food waste recycling programs. Recycling food waste makes use of valuable organic resources instead of filling up landfills. Programs like Missouri Organic Recycling’s FRED Project provide a collection service for schools and businesses. These programs often offer a free audit to assess your institution’s needs and provide education to employees or students. In 2012, the Shawnee Mission School District was recognized for its composting efforts through MARC’s Sustainable Success Stories.
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Mattress Recycling Comes to Kansas City

By Matt Riggs, Solid Waste Management District outreach coordinator

Do you have a mattress that you no longer want or use? You now have options to recycle that old mattress in the Kansas City area.

The following organizations and businesses offer mattress and box spring recycling services:

Mattresses damage landfill equipment and do not easily compress, taking up about 23 cubic feet of space each. Fortunately, mattresses are 100 percent recyclable. They are made of foam, polyester, cotton, metal, wood and shoddy (reclaimed wool fabric), all of which can be re-manufactured into other products.

When you recycle or donate your mattress you can support organizations that do more than keep mattresses out of landfills. Avenue of Life helps low-income individuals and families break the cycle of poverty by providing jobs to those with barriers to employment, and Sleepyhead Beds provides clean, recycled beds and bedding to children in need. These organizations have partnered with each other to make sure all mattresses they receive are donated back to families or recycled. Avenue of Life collects all mattresses recycled at Courtney Ridge Landfill, Excelsior Springs Recycling Center and Lee’s Summit Resource Recovery Park.

For more information, visit RecycleSpot.org or call 816-474-8326.

 

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