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The Importance of Protecting Our Costal Lands and Oceans

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When the groundbreaking documentary TV series The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau first ran it was an eye opening experience for many people. Few knew how diverse the underwater ecosystems were and how everything we do on the land ultimately impacts our oceans.

Today, there are nearly 1,800 protected marine areas in the U.S. President Obama took a huge step earlier this year by creating the largest protected marine reserve in the Pacific Ocean. The decision to expand the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument created 490,000 square miles of protected waters. While this was monumental, there is still much that needs to be done to protect our expansive world under the ocean surface.

Top Problems Plaguing Our Coasts and Oceans

There are many manmade problems that are causing harm within the oceans and along coastlines. The three issues below are the most pressing concerns that need to be addressed immediately.

Overfishing

Expanding the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument meant that commercial fishing was no longer possible within the area. This is a huge win for the ocean given that marine ecologists have identified overfishing as the biggest threat to underwater ecosystems.

When fish and other marine wildlife are caught at a faster rate than they can reproduce, species begin to be depleted. The animals are also less likely to grow to full size, which can impact biodiversity. Natural habitats will begin to break down and cause complete destabilization. For centuries fisheries used responsible practices that limited the number of animals caught, but today large vessels are using GPS technology to snag entire schools of fish at once. They can also process and refrigerate the catch right on board allowing them to travel to deeper waters and spend more time out on the ocean. As a result, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization has estimated that 70% of the ocean has reached full exploitation, has been over exploited, or been depleted.

Pollution

Trash is generated on land, but tons of it finds its way to the coastline and out into the water. These pollutants are known as marine debris. You’ve probably heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that is floating out in the Pacific Ocean. There’s an estimate 1.9 million microplastic bits per square mile of the patch. But far more is likely sitting on the ocean floor since scientists have found 70% of marine debris sinks.

Plastics are particularly problematic because they can entangle animals and destroy habitats. Oil, nets, and random debris left on the coastline are also top pollutants.

Climate Change

U.S. officials have stated that marine ecosystems and coral reefs are among the most vulnerable to the affects of climate change. The ocean contains 97% of our water supply and generates 50% of the oxygen we need to breathe. Even the slightest change to our climate can have a ripple effect that impacts the ocean in countless ways.

The most obvious impact of climate change has been the warming of ocean waters. Constant monitoring has shown that every decade since 1970 the temperature in the shallowest waters has risen by 0.18 degree Fahrenheit. That may not seem like much, but it has changed the way fish migrate, bleached coral leading to weakening and destruction, raised the sea level, and caused wetlands to become “drowned”. Because the ocean absorbs roughly 30% of carbon emissions, ocean acidification is now 30 times higher than it naturally would be.

There is much that we can learn and so much left to explore in our oceans. The unique biodiversity could hold answers to curing diseases, lessening the affects of climate change and easing world hunger. That can only happen when we preserve our oceans and interact with the ecosystems responsibly.

 

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From Creating Waste to Cleaning Up Trash: How U.S. Schools Are Reducing Debris

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Schools provide our children with an education, give them new opportunities, and produce a lot of waste. This has been a subject of interest in recent years, and prompted the EPA to create an extensive guide aimed at helping schools reduce waste generation. Schools are also finding their own creative ways to reduce trash and promote a cleaner environment.

Curbing Food Waste

California’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) did a wide-scale waste characteristics study of state schools and found that organic material (mostly food) accounted for 48% of all waste. Another study of Minnesota schools found that 50% of waste was organics (24% was strictly food) that could be composted.

Schools like Chesterbrook Elementary School in McClean, VA are setting a good example by taking the initiative to teach their kids how to separate out recyclables, compostable materials and unopened items that can be donated from the regular trash. Sixth graders volunteer to be on the Eco Team that provides oversight, and adult volunteers take the donated items to a local food pantry.

Other schools are incorporating food waste concerns into their science lessons to promote reducing waste and enhancing community service. The Durango School District in Colorado is limiting portions in an effort to reduce food waste. Another tactic being used is to move lunch until after recess periods when students are more likely to eat, resulting in 30% less plate waste.

Putting Paper to Better Use

According to the National Wildlife Federation up to 60% of school waste is paper that’s thrown out in the classroom. Paper is an inescapable part of schoolwork, but there are many creative solutions that have been used in schools to reduce waste. They include:

  • Supplying students with tablets to complete and submit assignments.
  • Setting up paper reuse stations in the classrooms.
  • Encouraging students to use both sides of their paper before recycling it.
  • Allowing students to submit homework via email.
  • Using towels, erasers and cloths instead of paper to clean up messes.
  • Posting newsletters and notices online instead of printing them out on paper.
  • Donating old books and holding student book exchanges.
  • Using 3-ring binders with loose-leaf paper instead of notebooks.

Coastal Cleanup

Hundreds of schools along the coast participate in the annual Coastal Cleanup. In California it’s the largest volunteer event of the year, thanks in part to the students that pitch in to help out. Local county coordinators help educators plan for the event and even arrange for schoolyard cleanups if students can’t get to the coastline. This year in New Hampshire the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation worked with schools to create a full day of learning and cleaning. Students were taught about the importance of protecting coastal ecosystems and the harm that debris can cause to wildlife and the environment.

Using Better Waste Collection Services

One of the EPA’s suggestions to schools is that districts look over their current waste management contracts to 1.) see what services are offered and 2.) see there is room to renegotiate so that recycling services are available. Some schools are even able to negotiate having their lawn clippings, tree limbs, etc. diverted to composting centers instead of landfills.

Dumpsters.biz is a waste management service that fully supports school initiatives to reduce waste. Our dumpster rentals help to keep trash contained so that there is less litter in the environment and our crew handles the recyclable separation. This helps businesses, schools, and homeowners keep more out of the landfill without having to do any extra work. Use our online form to find local dumpster rental rates in seconds.

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6 Ways Everyone Can Support Green Strategies in Their Community

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Some of the most impactful improvements are coming from small communities across the country that implement green strategies in their own backyard. Here are a few ways that you can promote green strategies and conservation in your community.

Speak Up for the Land and Water Conservation Fund

This September Congress did not reauthorize funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Since 1965 LWCF has provided the funds needed to support the conservation of state and local recreation parks as well as national parks. LWCF officials are asking that everyone speak up for the fund and urge their representatives to reenact the program.

Contacting your rep by mail or phone is a great start. You can go one step further by raising awareness about the need for reauthorization with a petition in your community. Make sure to let people know that LWCF is not supported by taxpayer dollars. Funds come from taxes paid on offshore oil and gas drilling to offset the damage done to the environment.

Start a Community Garden and/or Farmers’ Market

Establishing a community garden at a local park, school or your own front yard does more than produce fruits and vegetables. It raises awareness and promotes eating locally, which is much better for the environment. Another benefit is that you can control the products that are used and opt for chemical-free pesticides. Starting a local farmers’ market is another way to promote healthy eating that has a lower impact on your local ecosystems.

Stay Updated on the Community Infrastructure

Every city is going to have its own economic development, zoning and planning committees that are charged with maintaining and improving the infrastructure. It’s up to citizens to become involved in the process and voice their opinions about how the city can accomplish responsible growth. This keeps city officials accountable and encourages them to make use of green strategies like tighter building construction a top priority.

Urge Community Leaders to Create a Sustainability Plan

Green cities are those that have created a sustainability plan and taken action to make it happen. Sustainability plans are created using public input and taking the unique characteristics of a city into account. It is in no way limiting, but instead promotes the use of innovative ideas to improve the quality of life for all community members.

Support National Park Preservation

Do you have a national park, forest or preserve in your area? Supporting organizations like the National Park Foundation and National Park Conservation Association gives you a way to get involved locally. They hold regional events throughout the year, and your donations will provide assistance within your community and beyond.

Support Local Businesses That Support the Environment

As a consumer you have purchasing power. The companies you give your business to drives the local economy, but it also has a huge impact on the environment. Make it a point to only shop at stores that have made a commitment to sustainability. This sends a clear message that those types of businesses are the ones that will flourish within your community.

When we all make a small effort it can have a huge impact. Dumpsters.biz fully supports sustainability by helping to keep local communities free of litter and harmful materials. Our dumpster rental service helps to contain trash at construction sites and makes recycling separation easier so that more debris doesn’t end up in the landfill. Get the latest rates for your area online in seconds!

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7 Ways to be Sustainable at Home Starting Today

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Each day we hear more news about ever growing landfills, ice caps melting, and strains on the electricity grids. You may think that there’s little you can do about it, but every little bit adds up. When everyone works to live more sustainably it has a seriously big impact on improving our environment.

A sustainable home is a happy, healthy home. Here are 7 things you can start doing today to make your home more sustainable.

R, R, R

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – These three Rs are the basis of being more sustainable in regards to waste generation. Reduce refers to using less in general so as not to waste food or materials. It also includes buying less and choosing items that are either in bulk or don’t have packaging so less materials are used overall. Reuse is the acting of repurposing things rather than throwing them out. Recycle when certain materials like glass, plastic and paper are processed, broken down and turned into new products.

Compost

In addition to the three Rs you can add a C for composting. Food waste and yard trimmings account for 28% of all municipal waste created by homes, schools, hospitals and businesses. Many of these items can be composted instead. You can compost at home, and many larger cities now have composting facilities where yard waste can be deposited.

Leverage Technology to Lower Electricity Use

For every problem there is a solution, and technology is giving us more ways to solve sustainabilityissues around the home. Programs like ENERGY STAR make it easier than ever to find appliances, tools, and electronics that use less energy. There are also new products hitting the market everyday that are geared towards helping you consume less energy in general. A few products to consider include:

  • Smart Powerstrips
  • Kill-a-watt Meter
  • CFL Light Bulbs
  • Nest Thermostat

Living sustainably is an ongoing effort, and technology is your long-term partner. Just as the products above are today’s gold standard, energy saving technology is sure to keep growing and improving.

Responsible Electronic Use and Disposal

Technology has been a huge blessing for energy conservation – but it can also be a burden on the environment. Electronics and batteries contain materials that can be harmful to the environment if not disposed of correctly. In addition to checking with your local waste collector on proper disposal, make an effort to use rechargeable batteries and future-proof devices.

Teach Your Kids About Sustainability

One person can’t do it alone in a home that includes an entire family. Make sustainability a group effort by getting your kids involved and teaching them the importance of conserving energy and wasting less. Set goals for lowering energy usage and waste as a family. Incorporate a reward system where kids get a small treat each time a goal is met. You can even talk to their teachers to see if curriculum is offered at school. If not, check out ENERGY STAR Kids for fun online lessons.

Properly Set Your Systems

The biggest energy consumers in your home are the systems that heat and cool the air and water. If they aren’t set properly and maintained you could waste hundreds of dollars a year and many more kilowatt-hours of energy. If you don’t yet have a programmable thermostat now is the time to invest in one. Take a few minutes to set it up so that the HVAC runs at around 78° F in the summer and around 70° F in the winter while you’re at home. The water heater, which can account for as much as 25% of your electricity bill, should be set at just 120° F.

Low Impact Landscaping

Water conservation is an important aspect of living sustainably. One of the biggest water consumers in the home is your landscaping. There are a few fixes that can dramatically reduce your yard’s water needs. 1.) Use a programmable sprinkler system that waters during the cooler parts of the day. 2.) Use native plants that are able to survive with little assistance. 3.) Xeroscape a portion or all of your yard.

 

If it’s time to get rid of stuff that’s taking up space in your newly sustainable house Dumpsters.biz can help. We provide affordable dumpster services that include waste separation for recyclables. Check out our local rates online!

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Water Conservation Efforts in the US

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Water is undoubtedly the most precious resource on the planet. Without it no living thing would survive. Even though the Earth’s surface is 71% water that doesn’t mean a shortage isn’t possible.

In areas of the country like Texas and California years of drought has taken its toll, bottled water production is depleting natural water supplies and rising salinity levels are compromising delicate ecosystems along the coast. All around water conservation has become a pressing issue in the U.S. As a result, the federal government, states and individual citizens are taking action to protect and preserve our water sources.

Today there are hundreds of programs and organizations across the country that are solely focused on water conservation. Below are some of the top initiatives that are making huge waves in protecting our water supplies.

The Water Conservation Field Services Program

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has been responsible for helping settle the western portion of the country, and in doing so they have helped to establish water supplies and irrigation systems. Today the Bureau helps to oversee water management and ensures that water use efficiency is as high as possible, particularly for irrigation users.

The Water Conservation Field Services Program brings all entities together to promote a comprehensive approach to responsible water management. Through the program the Bureau provides assistance and water planning solutions for states and residents in the western region of the U.S. where there is typically lower levels of precipitation. Just as the Bureau helped early settlers survive by improving the water supply, their program is now helping to educate people on how to protect this vital resource.

WaterSMART Program

The Department of the Interior heads up the WaterSMART Program. The Department is charged with protecting the country’s natural resources so it is only logical that they would take the reigns on water conservation. In 2010 the WaterSMART initiative was begun with the main objective of finding new solutions for shoring up and protecting water supplies across the U.S.

WaterSMART is focused on tackling issues at the federal level so that there is a trickle down effect. The program has established water conservation goals, created partnerships with state and local governments, conducted studies and provided strategies for all water users to implement daily. In the first three years of the program over 500,000 acre-feet of water was conserved.

National Water Census

If you don’t know what the current circumstances are and track the changes, it is very difficult to come up with solutions that address the problem. That was the exact thinking of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The department’s scientists developed the National Water Census to assess water availability and find ways to use that data to create tools that will aid water conservation. Their research is also addressing the issue of water quality and how it pertains to water availability.

Water Conservation Plan Guidelines

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is tasked with protecting all natural environments whether they are rural or urban. They have helped to launch successful initiatives like the Energy Star Program, which addresses increasing energy efficiency. The agency is also tackling the issue of water conservation. As part of their effort, the EPA has createdwater conservation plan guidelines for states to implement. These guidelines help explain ways that water conservation strategies can be implemented within water systems that serve populations of all sizes.

Water Conservation Solutions for Small Businesses

The Small Business Administration (SBA) was created to provide support and assistance to the small business owners that make our economy thrive. The administration operates dozens of programs including education on how small businesses can reduce their energy and water expenses. The SBA is encouraging the thousands of business owners in the U.S. to practice water conservation in their offices, stores, and buildings.

Water shortages threaten the livelihood, health and security of every U.S. citizen. Conservation is an issue that affects us all and will require the efforts of everyone to solve. All of the conscious effort in recent years is paying off. A 2014 report from the USGS found that water use in America had reached its lowest level in 45 years. Changes in electricity generation, irrigation systems and public use all contributed to the improvement in water conservation.

 

Dumpsters.biz is doing its part to protect our water supplies by ensuring safe disposal of hazardous materials that have the potential to pollute our waters. It’s just one more way we can all protect our country’s most precious resource.