Monroe County, Indiana
Solid Waste Management District

HOW TO HELP THE EARTH

Be a “citizen scientist” every day. A citizen scientist is an ordinary person who does extraordinary things just by taking action every day to keep the earth healthy. A citizen scientist knows how important the natural world is and how powerful their choices are. Help all life on earth. Please add to this list and teach others. The power of one is the power of many.

 Play outside. Enjoy the “natural world” so that you know how important it is to protect it. You will be more alert, happy, and healthy.
 Know where your trash goes. Think before you buy. Will it hurt the earth in any way?
 Don’t use items that waste and cannot be reused, i.e.”disposables”(one time use), paper towels and napkins, plastic plates and utensils, foil wrapping paper, wipes, cleaning supplies, diapers, cameras, nonrechargeable batteries, etc.
 Buy only what you need and buy toys and appliances that last. Use what you buy and select items that are durable and can be reused and repaired.
 When making purchases, look for items that can be recycled in your area and purchase items which have recycled content in them like recycled content wrapping paper. Buy recycled content products.
 Ask local stores to stock more products made from recycled materials. Support businesses that are earth friendly.
 Rewild your yard. Create habitats for wildlife in your yard and around the workplace by planting levels of vegetation. Leave most areas wild and not mowed for food, shelter, and nesting of animals. Provide year-round food sources for wildlife. Do xeriscaping and natural landscaping using native and drought resistant plants. Post a wildlife habitat sign.
 Use a lawnmower that mulches leaves. “Grass recycling” is a natural fertilizer. Mow during early morning or evening when it is cooler. The mower then pollutes less and it is easier on the motor. Better yet, use an electric mower for areas you wish to be mowed and leave most areas wild.
 Plant trees! More than 5,000 items are made from trees. Benefits include: cleaning pollution from the air, soil and water, providing habitat for animals, regulating weather and climate, improving mental health, reducing energy consumption, adding value to your home.
 Use both sides of a paper before recycling it, even in printers.
 Use a rag or sponge versus a paper towel to save money, trees, habitat, conserve energy, and reduce pollution. If needed, use cloth napkins.
 Call the 800 number on catalogs to take your name off mailing lists. When ordering, ask that the item be packaged in recyclable material such as newspaper, cardboard or cornstarch peanuts.
 Compost to reduce trash by 25 to 35%. Turn leaves, yard waste, and food scraps into soil that enriches the earth. Composting is nature’s way of recycling and it’s easy to do in a compost bin.
 Don’t litter. Litter is unsightly, costly to cities and counties, and it poses a health and safety problem for humans and animals. Many animals get caught in the litter and die. Pick up litter.
 Give reusable items: toys, appliances, furniture, misc. etc. to someone or an agency, place a free ad in the paper or list it on Freecycle or Craig’s list, Have a yard sale/garage sale. Reusables are NOT trash.
 Repair cars, toys, and other items so they have a longer life. Fix car leaks promptly. Leaky cars drip motor oil and other fluids on our streets and driveways and enter waterways.
 Care for animals: pets and wildlife. We share this world. Teach others not to hurt any living thing. All life has a purpose on earth. Read about common wildlife and their needs.
 Use cloth bags when shopping. Reuse paper or plastic bags and then recycle them. Don’t take a bag if you don’t need it. Ask cashiers not to double bag items.
 Buy in bulk and don’t buy over-packaged products. Extra packaging wastes natural resources, is more expensive for you, and overpackaged products tend to not be as healthy. Also, buy in Bulk. It saves natural resources and saves you money.
 If purchasing hazardous material, buy only what you need or better yet, buy organic materials.
 Choose safer, multi-purpose cleaners or organic cleaners and make your own. If mixed and stored properly these common household cleaning ingredients are also effective and less expensive. Baking soda and/or vinegar clean almost anything.
 Dispose of pharmaceuticals, vitamins, medical aids, household cleaners, paint and other chemicals at the District’s Hazardous Materials Facility. Many products found in homes and garages are too dangerous to be disposed of in the trash or down the drain and are banned from landfills.
 Use water based paints and preferably paints with no or low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to reduce both outdoor and indoor pollution.
 Bring electronic items to a hazardous materials facility. Never throw them in the trash. They contain hazardous chemicals and precious metals that can pollute soil, water, and air.
 Use rechargeable batteries and a charger. Recycle batteries. Never throw them in the trash. Click here for more info on battery recycling.
 Use less water. Turn off the water while you brush your teeth. Saves 5 gallons of water each time.
 Take short showers: 5 to 10 minutes and use low flow showerheads. Conserves water and energy.
 Install low flow faucets (kitchen & bathroom) and repair leaky faucets and toilets promptly. This conserves water and saves you money.
 Only do full loads of laundry and full loads in the dishwasher and air dry dishes to save water and energy. Wash clothes in cold water and air dry clothes on a line. If using dryer, clean lint screen in dryer after each load. Wash dishes by hand instead.
 If you need to water your lawn and garden (not necessary in states with high precipitation), water only in the morning or evening. Water evaporates quickly during the middle of the day. Use rain barrels to collect rain water from the rain gutters instead of using the hose.
 Change the furnace filter regularly, at least every 3 months. This keeps you healthy, maintains the furnace, conserves energy, and saves you money.
 Stormwater runoff is a leading cause of pollution in the U.S. Sweep off- instead of hosing the driveway, patio, or sidewalk. This saves water and prevents water pollution. Water run-off from driveways, sidewalks, and lawns carries contaminants, such as dirt, motor oil, fertilizers, and animal waste directly into our lakes, rivers, and streams. Don’t use chemical fertilizers on lawn and wash your car in a carwash where the water is treated. Anything that enters a storm drain enters our waterway.
 Clear street gutters and stormwater drains of trash, leaves, and grass. Trash clogs drains and causes streets to flood in a storm. Leaves, pet waste, and grass clippings wash into streams and rivers where they decay, reducing the oxygen in the water that fish need to survive. Trash creates problems for plants and animals as well.
 Use organic lawn fertilizers like compost so living creatures are not poisoned and our water stays clean. Do NOT use chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.
 Design a rain garden, shallow landscaped areas in yard planted with native vegetation that collects runoff and improves water quality. It also adds to the value of your house.
 Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and then recycle them! This conserve energy, reduces mercury pollution, and saves you money.
 Turn off power strips, lights, television, stereo, computer etc. when not using them or purchase a “Smart Power Strip.” This saves you money, reduces energy use, pollution, and global warming.
 Turn down the heat to 62-68 degrees. Use screen doors for air circulation and open windows vs. AC. Set air conditioner between 78 and 85 degrees. Use ceiling fans instead of AC to cool your house.
 Set the thermostat on your refrigerator at 38 degrees. Keep coils clean. Vacuum them regularly.
 Set the thermostat on your hot water heater no higher than 120 degrees F
 Purchase “energy efficient” appliances like Energy Star which use less energy. Use smaller refrigerators which reduce energy use, not the gigantic kind.
 When possible, ride your bike, carpool, or ride city busses. This saves fuel and produces less pollution, and gives you good exercise. Everyone’s healthier for it.
 Organize a school book swap. Create an earth friendly school cafeteria system.
 Ask your school to use fundraisers that help the environment.
 Buy fresh local foods over frozen. You will be healthier and you will use less packaging.
 Get involved politically and know the views of your representatives.

THE CITIZEN SCIENCE ALPHABET

A to Z actions you can take right now to help save the earth.

 Adopt a neighborhood, roadside, park, or stream to regularly clean up and keep beautiful.
 Bring your lunch to school/work in reusable containers, and buy food in bulk rather than single-serve packages.
 Care for toys so they will last longer. Then you won’t have to replace them and may give them to someone else when you no longer want them.
 Donate clothes that you have outgrown to a thrift store or someone who can use them.
 Encourage others to reduce waste as much as possible, reuse, and recycle.
 Fix up laundry hampers or other containers for collecting and sorting recyclables.
 Get in the habit of turning off the water when you brush your teeth. Turn it on only to wet your brush and to rinse.
 Help by caring about our wildlife. Rewild your yard by planting native plants and trees, shrubs, and flowers.
 Provide food, water, shelter, and space for wildlife.
 Insist on buying products in recyclable containers. That way you reduce pollution, save natural resources and habitat, don’t add to the landfill, and you keep yourself and others healthy.
 Jog or walk, carpool, ride a bike or scooter from place to place to save energy and get exercise.
 Look for text on packaging to know if some items have recycled content in them.
 Make use of items before you recycle them or have to throw them in the trash. Reuse.
 Never litter. Always put your trash in a trash can, and recyclables in their bins.
 Open blinds in winter to let the sun in for warmth. Close blinds in summer to keep out the warmth.
 Plant a tree to stop soil erosion, give you shade, oxygen, clean the air, prevent soil erosion, provide habitat to birds and other creatures, and beautify the earth.
 Quit buying products that have unnecessary packaging and packaging which is not recyclable.
 Reduce the amount of water you use to keep clean Take 5 minute showers, not baths.
 Save energy by turning down the thermostat: 62-68 degrees in winter. In cold months, layer clothing to stay warm. A few degrees will save a lot of energy and reduce the energy bill.
 Turn off lights and electronics if you are not using them. Use a “Smart Power Strip.”
 Use products made to be used many times, such as sponges or cloth towels.
 Value and appreciate your Earth. Realize that you make a difference every day, and be proud of your contribution.
 Watch what you pour down the drain and clear your storm drain of litter, leaves, and pet waste. Hazardous household products can get into the groundwater and pollute your drinking water.
 X-ray your habits. Examine products that you use and labels before using them. Use alternatives to hazardous materials if possible such as cleaning supplies.
 Use baking soda and vinegar for cleaning.
 Yearn to do what you can to help our environment. Love the world with actions.
 Zip to close doors and windows if they are opened when the heater or air conditioner is on and zip to open screen doors and windows and turn on a fan instead of using an air conditioner.

GUIDING PRODUCT QUESTIONS FOR SUSTAINABILITY

Key questions to ask before designing, specifying, buying or using:

Do we need it? Can we do without it?
Can we borrow, rent or get it gently used?
Is the project designed to minimize waste? Can it be smaller, lighter or made from fewer materials?
Is it designed to be durable or multi-functional?
Is it available in a non toxic or less toxic form? Can it be made with nontoxic or less toxic materials?
Does it use renewable resources?
Is reuse practical and encouraged?
Are the product and/or packaging refillable, recyclable or repairable?
Is it made with recycled content? How much?
Is it available from a socially and environmentally responsible company?
Is it cost effective? Can it be made cost effective?
Is it made locally?
Do we need it? Can we live without it?

COMPOST RECIPE

Nature's way of recycling. Did you know...

 Composting food and yard waste can reduce your trash bill and help the Earth.

 25 to 35% of your trash can be composted and it’s EASY to do.

 Vermicomposting can be done using redworms in a bin inside or outside your apartment or house. Composting does NOT smell when done properly.

Ingredients and Procedure:

You can use almost all of the organic materials that come from your house, yard, and garden in your composting pile. Composting turns these into a RESOURCE that you can put right back into your own soil. Compost anything that was a plant. All plant materials contain nitrogen and carbon. Materials high in nitrogen, like kitchen scraps, moldy food in your refrigerator, fresh grass clippings, weeds, plant trimmings, are called “GREENS.” Materials high in carbon, like twigs and dried leaves, dried grass, cardboard, bread, pasta, and rice are called “BROWNS.”

If the compost bin is uncovered/open bin, ALWAYS cover food waste with browns or soil so no odor or flies will develop. However, if a plastic covered bin is used, covering the waste is not necessary, although if covered, it will decompose more rapidly. If using redworms, (vermicomposting), use a layered compost bin.

NO BACKYARD? Use a 10 gallon bin indoors (1 lb. redworms). Shredded and moistened newspaper can be used for the bedding for the redworms/red wigglers. Food waste is buried in the worm bin. Use the rich soil that is created for potted plants.

DO NOT USE: dairy or meat products as they attract rodents and domestic animals, have an odor when decomposing, and they take much longer to decompose. So no cheese, milk, butter, oily foods like peanut butter and dressings although a little will not make a difference. NO plastics, foil or other inorganic items!

Compost can heat up to 140 degrees F in the summer and 120 degrees F in the winter.

3 parts brown (CARBON Source)

2 parts green (NITROGEN Source)

Optional: a dash of soil

1. Layer or mix ingredients into bin or pile

2. Keep moist but not wet

3. Optional: stir or turn ingredients occasionally

If pile does not warm up within 1 week, add additional green materials. If undesirable odors occur, add more brown materials.

NOTE: Compost does NOT have to be mixed or turned. However, if it is turned, the increased oxygen that is created will decompose the waste more rapidly.

HOMEMADE ORGANIC CLEANERS

Clean the safe, nontoxic way for just pennies

These ingredients for natural cleaning formulas are safe and nontoxic. Most of the ingredients are in your kitchen or can be easily found in a supermarket, natural food store, or pharmacy. Alternatives are safer, cheaper and also effective. Pre made organic cleaners are an earth friendly option. They are made with nontoxic and biodegradable ingredients, and not tested on animals. Some brands offer a wide range of cleaners for the laundry, kitchen, and bath. Ex: Earth Friendly, Seventh Generation, Citra-Solv, Dr. Bronner’s, Ecover, Country Save, Lifetree, B-O-Kleen. Many web sites have organic recipes. Choose ones with the least amount of ingredients. Check them out!

 AVOID: ammonia, aerosols, benzene, chlorine, cresol, formaldehyde, glycol, lead, oxalic acid, parabens, petroleum, phenol, phosphates, phthalates, and sodium hydroxide or lye, triclosan and sodium lauyrl sulfates. These not only pollute the environment but are associated with a wide range of illnesses and some contribute to indoor pollution as well.
 BAKING SODA (sodium bicarbonate): Cleans, deodorizes, removes stains and softens fabrics.
 BORAX (sodium borate): Natural mineral that kills mold and bacteria, a heavy duty disinfectant. An alternative to bleach, it deodorizes, removes stains and boosts the cleaning power of soap.
 CASTILE AND VEGETABLE OIL BASED SOAPS: Cleans most everything. NOTE: Vegetable-based detergents containing acetic or citric acids have been used successfully for centuries, and are based on renewable resources, can biodegrade quickly, and are gentle on the environment.
 CORNSTARCH: Starch clothes, absorbs oil and grease.
 HERBS AND ESSENTIAL OILS: For disinfecting and fragrance.
 HYDROGEN PEROXIDE: Use in place of bleach. Bleaching agent and disinfectant.
 LEMON JUICE: cuts grease, deodorizes, removes perspiration and other stains from clothing, has antibacterial properties.
 SALT (sodium chloride): An abrasive.
 VINEGAR (Acetic acid): Cuts grease, removes stains and is an excellent water softener. Has antifungal and antibacterial properties.
 WASHING SODA (sodium carbonate): Cleans clothes, softens water, cuts grease, and disinfects. Increases the cleaning power of soap.

Label all containers and keep them out of the reach of children. While most of these all natural cleaners are not poisonous, some can be harmful or even fatal if swallowed by children or pets. See specific safety precautions on the package.
 

 

HOMEMADE CLEANING RECIPES

Simple, Inexpensive, Environmentally Friendly Recipes

“Modeling green living.”

ALL-PURPOSE KITCHEN/BATHROOM CLEANER

Sprinkle baking soda on counters, sinks, tubs, or toilets. Wet with water and rub with a sponge, cloth, or toilet bowl brush.

AND/OR

Spray a blended mixture of vinegar and water (from 3 tablespoons to ¼ cup of vinegar or a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water depending on personal choice) on counters, sinks, tubs and toilets. Rub away.

NOTE: Vinegar may be used separately or together with baking soda. If used together, spray vinegar water mixture onto baking soda.

GLASS CLEANER

Use vinegar water mixture, (from 3 tablespoons to ¼ cup of vinegar or a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water depending on personal choice). A dab of dish soap to mixture removes buildup on glass.

TILE FLOOR CLEANER

Vinegar and hot water. (from 3 tablespoons to ¼ cup of vinegar or a 50/50) mixture depending on personal choice.

DRAIN CLEANER

First: Use a plunger or a mechanical snake to manually push the clog away.

If still clogged:

½ cup salt
1 cup baking soda

Pour salt down the drain, followed by baking soda. Follow with 6 cups boiling water. Let sit overnight; flush with warm water.

OR

½ cup baking soda
½ cup vinegar
3 cups boiling water or flush with water.
 

Pour baking soda and vinegar down the drain.
Add boiling water & let sit 10-15 minutes.
Rinse.
Can repeat process or use plunger again if not unclogged.

 

LEMON OIL DUSTER

10 drops lemon oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
A few drops olive oil or jojoba
NOTE: Blend and spray. Use a soft cloth and rub into wood.

 

FURNITURE POLISH

¼ cup white vinegar
A few drops of olive oil/jojoba oil

NOTE: Blend and spray. Use a soft cloth and rub into wood. Polish not more than 3 or 4 times a year or less depending on humidity of region. Lemon juice can be substituted for vinegar.

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DISCLAIMER: The District…Where Green Living Begins does not make any claim as to the ability of these cleaning products to work in any given cleaning situation. These recipes have been obtained from third parties who also make no claim as to the above. Always test products in an inconspicuous area first if concerns over potential damage exist. These products are made from items obtained at most grocery and/or natural foods stores. Individual results may vary. Please consult manufacturers’ specifications if questions arise concerning the use of these products on household items and surfaces.

Monroe County Solid Waste Management District