Are You a Water Waster?

March 22 is the annual UN World Water Day. The focus for 2017 is wastewater reduction and reuse. 

March 22 is the annual UN World Water Day. The focus for 2017 is wastewater reduction and reuse. 

Running the dishwasher only when you have a full load is one way to conserve water during World Water Day and every day.  

Running the dishwasher only when you have a full load is one way to conserve water during World Water Day and every day.  

Thanks to our modern-day sanitation and wastewater treatment systems we are able to enjoy clean fresh water from the tap in the comfort of our own home. But, if you brushed your teeth, flushed the toilet, showered, prepared food, or washed clothes today you also created wastewater. This water is treated at a wastewater treatment facility so it returns to the environment and our homes in a safe usable form. Recycling water in this way helps keep us healthy, and keeps our city moving.

 

Today is World Water Day, an initiative from the United Nations (UN) to bring attention to issues related to freshwater. This year’s theme is the proper collection and treatment of wastewater that will allow for safe reuse. According to a WHO/UNICEF 2014 study, “1.8 billion people use a source of drinking water contaminated with feces, putting them at risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. Unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene cause around 842,000 deaths each year.”

 

While we may experience the benefits of proper wastewater treatment, many countries around the world are falling behind on their treatment capacity. At a global scale, it’s estimated that 80 percent of wastewater generated by society flows back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused. And, there are more than 663 million people living without a safe water supply close to home, causing them to spends hours traveling and waiting at distant water sources, and coping with the health impacts of using contaminated water.

 

Viewing wastewater as a resource can help improve water quality and accessibility around the world by eliminating a source of pollution. For example, individuals could reuse greywater in the garden, and industrial and agriculture sites can treat and recycle wastewater to run cooling systems or for irrigation. The official event website, worldwaterday.org states, “Safely managed wastewater is an affordable and sustainable source of water, energy, nutrients and other recoverable materials.”

 

To help celebrate World Water Day today Pope Francis will be giving a special address regarding the world’s value and understanding of our most precious resource – water. After the address 400 thought leaders, policy makers, and others will convene at conference called WATERSHED to discuss water values, especially for at-risk populations. According to the event website, worldwatervalues.org, “1.6 billion people currently live in countries and regions with absolute water scarcity. That number is expected to rise to 2.8 billion people by 2025.”

 

Educators can bring water lessons to the classroom with the award-winning curriculum Project WET: Water Education For Teachers available at projectwet.org. In honor of World Water Day Project WET is releasing 11 new lesson plans for children ages 3 to 6 in a guide called, “Getting Little Feet Wet”. The guide is available as a digital download and a printed book. For a limited time, the PDF version of the story book “Water for You and Me!” is available for free with each purchase.

 

Individuals can participate in today’s event with a new social media element called #MyWaterStory. Share your personal story about the role that water plays in your daily life by tagging a post with #MyWaterStory on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. As an example, you can share how much water you use in a day, a photo of your favorite body of water, write about a memorable moment with water, or post a video of an older family member recalling how water access has changed during their lifetime.

 

At home, practice ways to waste less water and avoid being a water waster. For example, collect cold water from the shower in a bucket while you wait for the water to warm up. Use the water in your garden or watering house plants. Don’t pre-rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, a good scrape should be enough.

 

Compost food waste instead of feeding it down the garbage disposal which requires a lot of water to run. When disposing of grease or oil do not pour it down the drain. Doing so may lead to blockages and restrict the flow of wastewater through a home’s plumbing. Instead pour cooking grease into a heat safe container like a steel can, then dispose of it once solidified.

 

Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth can save up to eight gallons of water per day. Fixing leaking sinks and running toilets also helps reduce waste. A running toilet for example, may waste up to 200 gallons of water per day. Small changes like these inside the home, and better wastewater treatment facilities, all contribute to less water waste and improved water quality for everyone.

60 Minutes for The Earth

Turn the lights off for 60 minutes on March 25 at 8:30 pm to show your solidarity with a more sustainable future during the 10th anniversary of Earth Hour. 

Turn the lights off for 60 minutes on March 25 at 8:30 pm to show your solidarity with a more sustainable future during the 10th anniversary of Earth Hour. 

The WWF (World Wildlife Fund) invites you to turn the lights off for 60 minutes on Saturday, March 25 at 8:30 pm local time and join millions of people around the world to make a statement in support of the Earth during a very special 10th anniversary celebration of Earth Hour. Participants can take the pledge to participate at www.EarthHour.org, join the event on Facebook @earthhour, and follow on social media with hashtag #ChangeClimateChange.

 

Earth Hour began in Sydney, Australia in 2007 to put climate change in the spotlight. Since then it has grown from a single-city event to one that is celebrated in more than 170 countries each year. Celebrations range from individuals turning their lights and electronic devices off at home to large concerts by moonlight. Though the focus was initially climate change, renewable energy, clean water, and other environmental issues have also been highlighted based on each community’s needs making each event unique.

 

“We started Earth Hour in 2007 to show leaders that climate change was an issue people cared about. For that symbolic moment to turn into the global movement it is today, is really humbling and speaks volumes about the powerful role of people in issues that affect their lives,” said Siddarth Das, Executive Director, Earth Hour Global. Over the past ten years, WWF and Earth Hour teams worldwide have brought thousands of individuals together to help fund and support on-the-ground environmental and social initiatives that serve to advance their goal for a sustainable, climate-friendly future.

 

In 2017, they’ll be using the movement to shine a light on the climate issue most relevant in their country or region. For example, in Brazil, people will be invited to join forces to protect one of the country’s many biodiversity hotspots from climate change while citizens in South Africa will raise their voice for renewable energy and in China, WWF is working with businesses to encourage a shift toward sustainable lifestyles.

 

A more recent, and increasingly popular, feature of the global one hour event is called Donate Your Feed. Participants can now share their commitment to the planet by donating five Facebook posts on their timeline to Earth Hour by registering at www.earthhour.org/climateaction. The posts will begin two to three days before the actual event to help increase participation in this grass roots movement.

 

“Every flick of a switch or click on Facebook timelines is a reminder that people see themselves as an integral part of climate action and it is this kind of collective determination we need to tackle the most pressing environmental challenge our planet has ever faced.” added Das.

 

Besides turning off the lights at home, and turning off electronic devices like television sets and computers when not in use, individuals can take other action steps to help create a more sustainable future by conserving energy. Running the dishwasher or washing machine only when there is a full load for example conservers energy and water usage. While buying energy efficient appliances and lightbulbs conserve energy in the long term.

 

Other actions may include using reusable water bottles or tumblers instead of plastic water bottles that may or may not get recycled at the end of the day. Using reusable shopping bags instead of disposable plastic bags, or even collecting plastic shopping bags and dropping them off at a retail store for recycling, can help prevent waste. Buying only the amount of food you actually need can also help reduce food waste at the end of the day. Reducing waste helps conserve natural resources.

 

Participants may choose to make a statement with their pocketbooks purchasing products with minimal packaging, locally grown, or with ingredients that are natural, organic, or non-toxic. You may also choose to carpool, take a bicycle, or walk instead of using a vehicle to conserve fuel and reduce air pollution. Or adopt the use of digital documentation to use less paper in the office. These and many other action steps will help lead us on the way to make a change for the better. 

Celebrating National Wildlife Week 2017

A white-breasted nuthatch enjoys birdseed left outside in a home garden area. Providing food and water to birds in your own backyard is an excellent way to support wildlife this week.   

A white-breasted nuthatch enjoys birdseed left outside in a home garden area. Providing food and water to birds in your own backyard is an excellent way to support wildlife this week.   

Living in a highly populated area makes it easy to forget that there is wildlife all around us every day. In the early morning hours on my way to the office I may spot a brown rabbit or even a deer. Summers are filled with squirrel and turtle sightings, not to mention all the different types of birds. Occasionally a barn owl will be heard from a distance as the sun is setting and small brown bats are emerging from their hiding place. Sometimes I’ll see a kettle of vultures circling above. And there was that one time I saw a young black bear crossing the road on my way to Ellijay.

 

This week the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) invites us to work together to learn more about and support local wildlife during National Wildlife Week. The theme for this year is a tournament showcasing 32 animals native to North America that will be competing in a bracket where people can vote for their favorite species. It’s basketball’s March Madness meets fins and feathers. Visit www.NWF.org for more details and to cast your vote. On March 17, after four rounds of voting and a final championship round, the winner will be announced. Will your favorite species win?

 

Besides participating in this year’s online voting event, you can make preparations to help wildlife this week and throughout the rest of the year. Even small actions can make a big difference, especially for local wildlife. Here are some ideas from the NWF that can be done at home or at school. Choose one of the following activities and implement it this week for a more healthy and beautiful environment for everyone.

 

Planting a tree in your back yard is a great way to provide much needed shade and habitat space for wildlife. It’s always best to plant native trees which are better suited to the climate of the region. The Georgia Forestry Commission (www.gatrees.org) offers a guide with recommended trees to plant and even has seedlings available for purchase. Before planting Call 811 before you dig to ensure you don’t hit any underground utility lines.

 

If you already have an established backyard or garden take some time this week to weed out invasive plants which tend to stunt the growth of native plants near them. The Georgia Invasive Species Task Force offers a list of invasive plants to remove on their website www.GAinvasives.org. Invasive plants in our area that you may recognize are Chinese Privet and Kudzu (also known as the vine that ate the South).

 

An unexpected way to help wildlife this week is to conserve water at home and in the garden. Indoors you can check your faucets, toilets, and appliances for leaks. And, only run the dishwasher and washing machine when you have a full load. In the garden, you can use a rain barrel to collect rain water to water your plants. And, you can change your automatic sprinkler system to run only in the morning or late evening to reduce water loss from evaporation.

Help prevent water pollution by properly disposing of expired or unwanted pharmaceuticals including medicine prescribed by a doctor or purchased over the counter. Don’t flush your medication! According to Take Back Your Meds (www.takebackyourmeds.org), “Medicines that are flushed or poured down the drain can end up polluting our waters, impacting aquatic species, and contaminating our food and water supplies.”

 

Instead of flushing medication consider taking it to a drug disposal box. Both the Dalton Police Department, and the Whitfield County Sheriff's Office have a drug disposal box available at their facilities year-round. Each of these boxes are a safe way to properly dispose of medication and keep them out of the wrong hands. The Drug Enforcement Agency offers a National Take-Back Day that will be on April 29 this year. At the beginning of April, a list of collection sites will be announced giving us even more options for proper disposal.

 

Another way to help wildlife this week is to implement natural and nontoxic products to your gardening and lawn maintenance routine. Using natural fertilizers like compost, and using only the amount needed, helps prevent too many nutrients from getting into water bodies and causing algal blooms. It’s also beneficial to avoid using pesticides whenever possible and implement chemical free techniques that will help protect beneficial insects like bees and butterflies.

Eco-Friendly Books for Read Across America Day

Colorful truffula trees and happy creatures are illustrated in the pop-up book version of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. Celebrate Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss’ birthday by reading this and other eco-friendly books with your child.

Colorful truffula trees and happy creatures are illustrated in the pop-up book version of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. Celebrate Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss’ birthday by reading this and other eco-friendly books with your child.

Celebrate Read Across America Day on March 2nd by reading an eco-friendly book with your child.  

Celebrate Read Across America Day on March 2nd by reading an eco-friendly book with your child.  

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of Read Across America Day, a special day organized by the National Education Association (www.nea.org) dedicated to building a nation of readers. March 2nd is also Dr. Seuss’ birthday, making it the perfect day to pick up and read a book with your child. Here’s a list of several environmentally friendly books that you can enjoy with youngsters’ year-round. No need to wait for Earth Day.

 

• The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss: Read Across America Day would not be complete without a Dr. Seuss book! The Lorax reminds us that, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." A classic ecological fable, this story recounts the far-reaching effects we can have on the environment. Follow the Lorax as he fights for the hungry Brown Bar-ba-loots, colorful Truffula Trees, and other forest creatures.  After reading the book watch the full-length animated movie, which was released in 2012, and discuss the differences in the story line.

 

• EIEIO: How Old MacDonald Got His Farm with a Little Help From a Hen, by Judy Sierra: Updating the classic nursery rhyme the author of this entertaining book demonstrates how Old MacDonald turned his urban backyard into a farm with raised garden beds and an organic farmers’ market. This is a great book for budding gardeners, and those who want to know where their food comes from. The plant life cycle, and sustainable gardening practices are discussed in an easy to understand level appropriate for lower elementary aged children.

 

• Compost Stew: An A to Z Recipe for the Earth, by Mary McKenna Siddals: If you’re curious about composting, or just want to know what ingredients should go into the pile, begin by reading this book illustrated with collages made from recycled materials by Ashley Wolff. From egg shells to wriggly worms this book is a recipe for making nourishing compost at home.

 

• Mr. King's Things, by Geneviève Côté: What happens when you buy lots of stuff, get tired of it, and then throw it out? Find out in the story of Mr. King, a crown wearing cat who like new things – lots of them! The effects of overconsumption and pollution are illustrated in this charming book that proves that recycling and reusing, and even consuming less, are better than putting things in a landfill.

 

• Rascal & Shady Recycle and Reuse, by Beth Starr: In this book illustrated by James Balkovek, children will learn that litter (trash in the wrong place) remains in the environment long after they toss it out. Two curious raccoons, Rascal and Shady, soon realize that people are dropping things in the woods that don’t belong there. After picking up lots of trash, or people droppings, it proves to be too much for them to handle alone so they invite their friends to launch a recycling center.

 

• We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers, by Lauren Child: Charlie helps his little sister Lola recycle at home so she can enter a contest and win a real tree to plant at their school. The storybook includes a tree counter poster so you can keep track of how many things you recycle and earn your own tree. Based on the Charlie and Lola TV episode Look After Your Planet.

 

• Dougal the Garbage Dump Bear, by Matt Dray: This is the heartwarming story of a shy little teddy bear that got left out in the rain after a tea party. After getting soaked he ends up in the garbage can, on his way to the landfill. This storybook has lots of full color photos that follow Dougal to a very happy ending.

 

• Curious George Plants a Tree, by Monica Perez: This is one of the newer stories starring everyone’s favorite monkey. In it Curious George learns about recycling, taking care of the planet, and even goes to a Green Rally with the man in the yellow hat. The story includes George’s typical antics, and ends with the town’s people helping to plant trees at the library.

 

• Looking for a Moose, by Phillis Root: “Have you ever seen a moose – a long-leggy moose – a branchy-antler, dinner-diving, bulgy-nose moose?” begins this adventure illustrated by Randy Cecil. Join a group of friends as they walk from the forest floor to the hilltops in search of the elusive moose. This book includes lots of fun words for the different sounds of the natural areas being explored. It’s a good book to introduce habitats, observation skills, and nature walks.

1,251 Tons Recycled in City of Dalton Curbside Recycling Program for 2016

Participants in the curbside recycling program can recycle products like paper, plastic bottles, glass bottles, and bi-metal cans.

Participants in the curbside recycling program can recycle products like paper, plastic bottles, glass bottles, and bi-metal cans.

Recycling at the curb begins with collecting recyclables inside the home during the week. A small deskside recycling bin in the kitchen is a great way to remember to recycle.

Recycling at the curb begins with collecting recyclables inside the home during the week. A small deskside recycling bin in the kitchen is a great way to remember to recycle.

What weighs more than 205 African elephants, and helps save natural resources? It’s the 2,502,100 pounds of recyclable materials collected by Dalton residents participating in the Curbside Recycling Program in 2016! Last year those little blue bins collected 1,251 tons of materials including plastic bottles and jugs, glass bottles, junk mail, newspaper, and more.

 

If only one type of material had been collected the 1,251 would be the weight equivalent of 87,490,934 empty aluminum beverage cans. It’s also the weight equivalent of 17,049,067 empty paperboard cereal boxes. That’s about 516 boxes recycled per resident! Recycling instead of landfilling also saved an estimated 2,131 cubic yards of landfill space which helps extend the life of the landfill in Whitfield County.

 

Materials that are recycled instead of being thrown away are sent to manufactures who depend on recycled content, instead of virgin materials, to make their products. When recycled, materials are used again to make new products, natural resources are conserved. During the manufacturing process the water and energy needed to make new products are dramatically reduced. The amount recycled last year saved enough energy to power 86 household for a whole year.

 

It all starts with city residents in single-family homes of three units or less that have garbage service through the City of Dalton Public Works Department. Voluntary recycling at the curb has been in place for single family homes of three units or less since 1991 making 2016 the 25th year of residential recycling. Residents that have garbage pickup provided by the city may also request one to three blue recycling bins depending on the size of their household. If you have a garbage cart but no recycling bin, call Public Works at 706-278-7077 to request delivery.

 

Recycling at the curb could not be possible without the drivers of the curbside recycling trucks who stop at each home on their route once a week to pick up recyclables from the blue bins. During the City Council meeting on Monday the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority recognized Jason Davis, Danny Sluder, and Wesley Webb for the exceptional work they do collecting the community’s recyclables. Each driver separates the recyclables in the blue bins by hand into corresponding compartments on the collection truck. It’s estimated that the crew handles more than 4,000 blue bins each week.

 

Items that can be recycled at the curb include newspapers, magazines, and other paper products that are clean and dry. Cardboard boxes that have been broken down or flattened and folded down to three feet or less. Also collected are aluminum and bi-metals cans; glass bottles and jars colored brown, blue, green, or clear; and plastic bottles, jars, and jugs with screw on lids. Containers that are being set aside for recycling need to be rinsed out, and be free of food residue and other liquids. It’s ok to leave the labels and lids on the containers.

 

To help drivers sort quicker, residents are encouraged to place all paper in one bin and containers in another. Or if you only have one bin, place all paper on the bottom and containers on top. Avoid over loading the bin and causing litter by breaking down and flattening all boxes and crushing plastic and aluminum containers.

 

After recyclables are collected at the curb the drivers deliver the materials to the Authority’s recycling center where employees sort and bale materials by type. The bales are stored until there is enough to fill a tractor trailer and send to manufactures to make new products. One bale of just cardboard can weigh over 1,200 pounds and requires skid-steers to be moved. A bale of plastic water and soda bottles can weigh 1,150 pounds and contain over 21,000 individual bottles.

 

Once a bale arrives at a manufacturing facility the recyclables are typically shredded, cleaned, melted, and reformed into a new product. In as little as 60 days a soda can could be recycled process and back on the store shelves as a new soda can for you to enjoy again. When you’re out shopping, take a moment to read the labels on different containers. You may find that your cereal box contains 30% recycled content or more. Who knows, your old newspaper may be part of your cereal box today.

 

Recycling instructions are available online at the City’s website: www.cityofdalton-ga.gov. Click on Departments, then Public Works, and Recycling Instructions to watch instructional videos and download the one-page recycling guide. With so many benefits that come from recycling, the City of Dalton has truly made a long-term commitment to keeping useful materials out of the landfill and conserving natural resources.