GreenMichigan.org Community Campaign



 

We are looking to Raise $25,000 by the end of July to start a nonprofit recycling center in West Michigan. Not just any recycling center but one that will recycle hard to recycle items like mattresses. Our recycling rate is projected over 90% on materials collected and we will help employ people with barriers to quality jobs.  All donations are tax deductable. We would love your support.

While any donation is welcome and appreciated, here are some incentives we are offering

$35 – GreenMichigan.org t-shirt

$50 – GreenMichigan.org  t-shirt and one free month of drop off recycling

$75 – Recycle a mattress free of charge

$100 – Recycle a mattress free of charge, one GreenMichigan.org t-shirt and one-month free drop off recycling

$250 – 1 Recycling Consultation and Audit for your business or organization and one free recycling pickup

$500 – A workshop of your choice with your team. Recycling consultation and one free recycling pickup

$1000 – A workshop of your choice, recycling consultation and 3 months of free recycling pickups

Details

  • Our Recycling Center will help nonprofits, organizations and the community recycle more and divert waste otherwise bound for the landfill.
  • We will help employ people with barriers to good paying jobs and we will be self-sufficient in 3 years.
  • The materials we collect will be recycled, upcycled, repurposed and reused to ensure as much is kept out of the landfill as possible.
  • Local nonprofits and businesses are encouraged to partner with us to reuse and recycle the materials we collect.
  • We will service all interested parties from the individual or household to the large corporation and everyone in between.
  • Our fees will be less than landfill rates and we will be unprecedented with complete transparency on profits and expenses.
  • We will partner with other recycling innovators to ensure we can accommodate all of your waste needs.

 

In addition to monetary donations, we are in search of the following.

  1. Location or donations to secure the location
  2. A Lift Truck/HiLo
  3. Two Balers for the recycling materials.
  4. Delivery Truck with lift gate.
  5. Pallet Jacks
  6. Large Scale to Weigh all materials for accurate reporting
  7. Computers and office printer
  8. Financial Donations

All donations will receive a tax-deductible receipt.

For the -entire business plan or more information
E-mail Dan@greenmichigan.org or text to 616-638-0670

Composting Tips




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Composting is one of my favorite activities. It is the “original” recycling (think about nature and the woods doing it all the time), it is something every human can do and it can be as difficult or simple as you would like to make it.

There are many good resources for composting instructions (building bins, materials to use, science, and ordinances) that will fit almost every life style. Here are a few resources. Visit www.greenmichigan.org for more resources.

When creating an active compost system think about these basic ideas:
What you need for composting:


Vessel

Open air   ~Spreading yard waste throughout a wooded area

Piled  ~Pile in yard or woods. Not to high, because after all you don’t see      leaves, and woody debris piled in the woods.

Fenced  ~As simple as wire fencing, pallets or other fencing material to     keep it corralled

Contained  ~Built enclosure to aid in moisture control, heat, keeping out     unwanted critters and more visually appealing for some     neighborhoods

Materials

Carbon –   ~Brown & Dry  See attached list of materials

Nitrogen –   ~Green & Moist  See attached list of materials


Air 
~To create a more active pile and to get finished compost sooner it      is important to turn materials. This also cuts down on odors by      “refreshing” the pile

Water  ~Not too wet or too dry. A good compost pile should feel like a    wrung out sponge

Heat  ~Optimal temperature is around 130° – 150°. Or dig a 10” hole in     the pile and put your hand inside. If it is steamy and warm/hot it is     probably doing well.


Microorganisms  
~They are the critters that are doing all of the work.
See attached sheet for who your best composting friends are.

Materials to Use
Green/NITROGEN  Brown/CARBON

  • Algae • Coffee filters
  • Bone meal • Corn cobs
  • Coffee grounds • Cotton/wool/silk scraps
  • Eggshells • Grass clippings (dried)
  • Feathers • Hay
  • Flowers • Leaves (dead)
  • Fruit and fruit peels • Paper/Shredded
  • Grass clippings (fresh) • Peat moss
  • Hair • Pine needles
  • Manure • Sawdust
  • Seaweed • Straw
  • Tea Leaves • Tea bags
  • Vegetables and peelings • Wood chips
  • Weeds • Wood ash

This list is far from complete. Anything organic can, in theory, be composted — some more easily than others. But common sense suggests a few exceptions. The following materials may cause problems in a backyard compost pile.
Materials to Avoid

  • pet wastes can contain extremely harmful bacteria
  • meat, fish, fats and dairy products are likely to smell as they rot and may attract four-footed visitors
  • insect-infested or diseased plants may persist in the compost
  • materials contaminated by synthetic chemicals or treated with herbicides or insecticides should never be used
  • weeds with mature seeds, and plants with a persistent root system (like crabgrass, ground ivy, or daylilies), may not be killed by the heat of the compost. !!NEVER COMPOST INVASIVE SPECIES-Purple Loosestrife, Garlic Mustard, etc.!!!
  • leaves of rhubarb and walnut contain substances toxic to insects or other plants so most people choose not to compost them.

Here are a couple of my compost bin designs along with the basic supply list for building them yourself.  If you would like us to build them for you the prices are:
New Lumber – Cedar        $200.00/delivered in West Michigan
New Cedar
Reclaimed Lumber           $100.00/delivered in West Michigan
Reclaimed4 Reclaimed2
Flipping Bin
New design turning a barrel into a compost bin! I am working with
the West Michigan Environmental Action Council on this product.
IMG_4357

Built it yourself supply list for wooden compost bins:
Compost Bin Materials list

Other resources:
MSU Extension – Soil testing kit
www.bookstore.msue.msu.edu

Testing Kit Fee Schedule-
http://www.spnl.msu.edu/_pdf/SPNL_Fee_Schedule_2013.pdf
Testing Information-
http://shop.msu.edu/product_p/bulletin-e3154.htm

     http://www.spnl.msu.edu/_pdf/Compost_Information_Sheet.pdf

MSU Extension – Questions/Answers
www.migarden.msu.edu

WMEAC – www.wmeac.org

GreenMichigan.org

www.greenmichigan.org

 

Wall Street Journal compost system testing video/Hosted on
Sierra Club website

http://tinyurl.com/ny4oaht
Wall Street Journal compost video follow up

http://tinyurl.com/25mom5g

Gardener’s supply company
http://www.gardeners.com/
Gardener’s supply company – How to choose a composter

http://tinyurl.com/dedorf

Red Worm Composting Video

http://www.redwormcomposting.com/worm-composting-videos/

Clean Air Gardening Website

     http://www.cleanairgardening.com/

Recycle/Re-purpose With a Purpose

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Recycle/Re-purpose with a Purpose

One of my favorite things to do is coach soccer to kids. I see this as a way to give back and  be a mentor for the next generation. I never thought this would expand outside my community, but this love has now reached all the way to another hemisphere and brought joy to many others.

I was talking with my great friend Denise Van Valkenburg  about a mission trip she was going on with a group called Paradise Bound  www.paradisebound.org . This group travels to Guatemala and helps in many ways, including building and helping the poor with medical needs. I was curious and asked if they play soccer in these villages you visit and found that yes, indeed they do.  If you have coached any youth sports you know that at the end of the season, you have an abundance of shirts, water bottles, and many other sporting items the kids leave behind and never reclaim. As we were talking, I realized I had a car full of soccer balls I have collected over the years and I asked if she could use any of these soccer balls for the trip? She said yes, as many as we could give.  I decided to reach out to the club I coach for, United Soccer Athletes www.united-soccer-athletes.com .  I know the hearts of the management and knew they would love to help out  if they could.  Bruce Lane and the club responded more than I ever dreamed they would by donating many bags of soccer balls.

This was a hit with the groups in Guatemala. They played soccer with the mission groups with goals made out of bamboo,  dirt/concrete fields, and in jeans and sandals. The kids  were awesome at the game beating the missionaries most of the time.

This has made me realize we can always help someone else while we are working, busy with life or having fun by collecting pop cans, needed scrap materials, or some lost and found soccer balls.  By having conversations with people and organizations we all can help in ways we never thought possible.

A great way to recycle/re-purpose soccer balls and other materials while helping others.

Haiti Foundation Against Poverty Creating a Circular Economy/Triple Bottom Line

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Gift-of-Hope-1

Haiti Foundation Against Poverty has created the first true circular economy or true triple bottom line organization. My definition of a circular economy is helping a social need (people in need), economical need (the bottom line), and the environment all at the same time.  All three aspects actually feed off each other and help of each other for a sustainable model.

Haiti Foundation Against Poverty have really figured this out and implemented it well. They have partnered with a couple of local corporations and businesses and have asked them to help with expertise in recycling, and logistics. They have also asked for the corporations and businesses scrap fabric which is extremely hard to recycle in the USA.  By taking the scrap fabric from the USA to Haiti and adding the expertise from these organizations they have created quality products of bags, dolls, and other products.  These products are then shipped back the USA to be sold. Here is the link to the store. https://squareup.com/store/hfap-gift-of-hope

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They also have a boutique in Midland MI and sell their products at the The Bridge in Holland MI.

Haiti Foundation Against Poverty is helping solve a large problem of how to deal with waste materials while helping the poorest people. They are a true shining light of what can be accomplished.

I would Encourage you to look into this organization and its great products.

Below is a Diagram showing how this can help every company and non-profit.

circular

 

Here is a video more about the Haiti Foundation Against Poverty

Car pooling – good for your pocket and the environment

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Car pooling, also known as ride-sharing, can save you big bucks on gas, wear and tear on your vehicle, oil resources and reduce all the associated nasty environmental impact associated with driving.

When you drive to work, are you alone or do you have room for other passengers? Have you ever noticed how many others around you are driving on their own too?

In the USA, single occupant commuting is around 75% according to census data.carpooling

There are millions of us who engage in solitary travel to and from work; driving billions of miles each year, spending a stack of cash on gas and pumping tons of emissions into the atmosphere.

According to the SightLine Insitute (single passenger statistics):

– A small car emits around .59 pounds of carbon dioxide per mile
– A medium car emits around 1.1 pounds of carbon dioxide per mile
– An SUV/4 wheel emits around 1.57 pounds of carbon dioxide per mile

Car pooling advantages

Save money

Just putting aside the gloom and doom aspect of the environmental impact of fossil fuels; consider even the cost saving aspect. It’s not uncommon to save a couple hundred dollars a month in transport costs by sharing a ride with someone else. In some cities, you can also save on tolls and parking if your vehicle has multiple occupants.

It’s not just the cost of gas, tolls and parking, but city driving is notorious for causing wear on vehicles – all the stopping and starting wears out engines, brakes and gearboxes, not to mention tire wear. According to the American Automobile Association, it costs an average of 26.2 cents per mile to drive a car; and that’s just gas and wear and tear combined.

De-Congests roads

According to a recent US study, “Commuting in America”:

– U.S. drivers wasted 4.2 billion hours sitting in traffic in 2005
– Traffic delays chewed through 2.9 billion gallons of fuel
– In Los Angeles, the average driver wastes 72 hours per year going nowhere.

If everyone car pooled, imagine the many hundreds of thousands of vehicles that would be off the road each day. This would lessen traffic congestion, making trips faster, cutting fuel and car maintenance costs even further. Some places even have roads with designated lanes for multiple occupant vehicles and we expect to see more of this in the years ahead.

Social/emotional

Through sharing a ride, you’ll meet other people. Our online world is steadily disconnecting people and that can be unhealthy for many folks. For some people, there’s nothing like a pep session before the daily grind and a counselling session immediately afterwards.

Also, if you find driving to work stressful, car pooling can alleviate the frustration in travelling to and from the workplace. You may even find time to carry out other tasks during the drive instead, such as preparing for meetings etc.

Flexibility through technology

In the early days of car pooling, it was fairly restrictive and it could be difficult to find people you get along with to team up to share a ride. Now many online services and apps have sprung up that provide a good choice of people to ride share with and therefore greater flexibility with your own timetable. Better online resources will offer the following matching:

Geographic –  matching departure and destination routes

Chronological – matching times of departure and arrival

Personal Preferences. – Points such as whether you wish to be a driver and/or passenger, gender preferences, smoker/non-smoker – some even provide matching for music choices.

Here’s some online car pooling resources to check out

eRideShare.com
CarPoolConnect
icarpool.com

Another great idea is to look for potential car poolers where you work. Sending out an email or working with HR to see who might be interested. Connecting coworkers that live near each other can help start a carpool or a series of carpools. Often times having someone organize and get the conversation started is all that is needed to bring upon change.

Gift a Tree This Holiday Season



Not sure what to gift the environmentalist in your life? How about planting a tree in their honor? Green Michigan.org is partnering with local organizations to offer the perfect gift this holiday season. We are planting trees in the West Michigan area in honor of the person you choose.

Here is what you get

A certificate emailed to you or the person of your choosing explaining the gift

A local native tree will be planted in the spring or the fall depending on purchase

Once tree is planted a map will be sent to you or the person you are choosing letting you know where your tree is planted.

Want a Bunch of Trees or do you have questions? Contact Angela@greenmichigan.org

 

Alternatives and cost saving to traditional wrapping paper!!

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Remember Wrapping paper is NOT recyclable.

Or at least in my area you may want to check your recycler to find out.

Each year I receive an email from my waste hauler that reads “Wrapping paper is not recyclable.” This Christmas I decided to make  an effort and keep this e-mail in mind as I went to wrap my gifts.  My goal was to find a way to wrap my gifts responsibility — for both the environment AND my pocketbook.

 Fabric

fabric

I considered using fabric to wrap gifts, and this looked like a very good option.  Fabric is recyclable and, in my area, is readily available.  I live in the part of the country that has a lot of office furniture manufactures, so buying unused fabric is inexpensive (as low as $5 for 19 yards). This seemed very reasonable, except I did not have fabric cutting scissors. I plan to keep this in mind for next year though… an investment in several pairs of quality scissors would allow me to use a more sustainable wrapping that could be reused year after year. This year, though, making a special trip out to buy more scissors just wasn’t in the cards

Other Papers

Snowflake our gifts

I thought about  wrapping paper made from soy ink and recycled paper. This sort of paper can be costly:  the amount of money I would spend for the amount of paper I would receive did not fit in my budget.

I looked at using used newspaper. I do not receive my news via newspaper (watch for another post on sustainable reading), so I would have to ask someone who receives a newspaper for their recycling. The cost would be free and it would be recycling a used product so that would two major benefits to newspaper as wrapping, but there was one big downside: newspaper does not have a “Christmas” look to the wrapped gifts. For any other holiday, newspaper (especially comics) would work, but not on Christmas.

The third option was to use craft/packaging paper. This turned out to be the best option for our family.  This paper acted just like normal wrapping paper so it was easy to cut, wrap, and tape. The look of the gifts at first were not very Christmas-like because the paper was just plain brown.  The solution was that my kids cut out white paper snowflakes and we tied Christmas color string/yarn around the packages. At first I was a little concerned about the look, but it turned out great. The kids were heavily involved to make the packaging Christmassy, and they loved every minute of it. They were also able to wrap their own gifts without much help. If you don’t like brown, they do have other colors of crafting paper available. (see above picture).

The environmental benefits:

Crafting/packaging paper is made from 100% recycling material with 50% being post-consumer. The paper is 100% recyclable. There are no inks of presses that go into making this paper.  The paper is also 100% compostable.

Cost Benefits:

For a roll of regular wrapping paper, you pay between 3-5 dollars for about 60 square feet.  If you fill your waste container with this packaging that will be another cost to just haul away to the landfill

Craft paper cost between 6-8 dollars for a roll of at least 120 square feet. The  waste cost can be zero if you decide to compost the paper

Final thought:

Using craft paper cost is much less, it is better for the environment, and your family can be more engaged with wrapping gifts. Finally, we can feel good that we support an industry that uses recyclable material.

 

Questions?

Dan Broersma

dan@greenmichigan.org

 

Sustainable and Cost Effective Christmas Cards

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My Digital Christmas Card

 

In  preparation for Christmas, we sent our Christmas cards– but not our usual way. We sent out digital Christmas cards (see above). This was a new experience for our family, but a very rewarding one with environmental benefits, cost savings, and lots of opportunities to be creative and personalize each card. I understand that Christmas cards are a labor of love for most people. And digital cards have all the benefits of traditional cards – plus more.

Environmental Benefits:

There are a lot of environmental benefits to creating digital cards.  First there is a smaller carbon footprint because you don’t need to go to a store nor do the cards require transportation by mail. You also conserve environmental resources by not purchasing a store bought holiday card including  paper, ink and packaging for the cards.

Bottom-line Cost Savings:

Christmas cards usually cost about $.75 a piece when you buy in bulk or packages and it costs 46 cents to mail each card.  So, depending on the amount of cards you send, this could add up to a lot of money..  This is just the cost of the materials, you also need to consider the cost of your time to sign, address, and personalize each card.  There are a lot of costs associated with sending a card that may or may not be read by the receiver.  This year I sent out over 100 cards to my friends and family. In the past I would have had to pick and choose who I could afford to these cards to. In the digital form you can attach the card into Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, or any other social media to send to your friends and family members.

Other Benefits:

I spent an hour sorting through old photos from this past year with my kids trying to decide which picture we should use for this year’s card.  This time was invaluable reminiscing and just laughing about the fun we had this past year.

Digital cards are also easy to create. It took me a total of 30 minutes to create the card above using a free photo software and Microsoft power point. I found similar tools to create these cards within Microsoft word, paint, and many other free and paid software programs.

Creating these cards is not only easy (there are many templates), but you can make it more personal by adding pictures of the people who will be receiving the cards or writing a personal message that is incorporated within the cards text.

There are some people on your Christmas card list who need a physical card because they do not have a computer or smart phone. Then you may print the digital card you created and send it to them in the mail. There is still a large cost savings to doing it this way.  You do not have buy a card or spend any time picking one out at the store.

Digital cards are a less expensive alternative to traditional Christmas cards (or birthday cards or any holiday cards for that matter). Creating digital cards can be more rewarding and more personal to keep in touch over the holidays with less time and money involved for the sender and just as much joy for the receiver.

Digital cards are just one small average way to be a little more ‘green’ this (and all) holiday seasons.

 

Questions leave a comment below or email :

Dan Broersma

dan@greenmichigan.org

Green Alternatives to Wrapping Paper

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Wrapping paper and tissue paper are often times not recyclable. Please think about reusable gift wrap this holiday season or try to select wrapping paper that is and can be recycled. Here are some Suggestions

Scarves or Fabric 

Scarves work perfectly as gift wrap and can be considered a bonus gift. Leftover fabric scraps or recycled fabrics also make a great material for wrapping gifts and can be used over and over again. Old Sweaters, sheets, pillow cases and the like can make a great reusable option.

 

 

o-SWEATER-BAG-570

 

Festive Grocery Bag Wrapping Paper or Craft Paper 

With some simple cutting, folding and colorful tape and twine trimmings, old paper grocery bags or craft paper wrapping paper can make a great recyclable option. Some retailers even decorate the bags around the holidays to make it even easier.

o-GROCERY-GIFT-WRAP-570

 

Newspaper Gift Bag or Wrapping Paper

Start spreading the news — you can even make your own paper gift bag without leaving the house. All you need? Two sheets of newspaper, cardstock, glue and cord.

o-NEWSPAPER-GIFT-BAG-570

Comic Section With A Magazine Bow

With the comic section of the newspaper you can create unique gift wrap that’ll even give the recipient a good chuckle. Then to top it off with a colorful bow, use strips of magazine paper.

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Reusable Grocery Bags

Eliminate waste this holiday season and skip the wrapping paper. Instead, give the gift of reuse with a limited edition Holiday ChicoBag™ brand reusable bags. These reusable holiday bags are ideal for wrapping gifts. The limited edition reusable holiday bags are available in three festive colors and feature a whimsical winter scene on the bag and a cheerful snowman on the pouch.

chico-bag