Sunday, January 31, 2010

Resource tab: Multi-Family Recycling Assistance Program

The following is a flier produced by the Hamilton County Solid Waste Management District. This is part of an effort to consolidate information about recycling, composting, reuse, and waste reduction in Cincinnati.

Multi-Family Recycling Assistance Program

The Hamilton County Solid Waste Management District can help apartment owners and condominium associations provide their residents with recycling! Through the Multi-Family Recycling Assistance Program, the District will work with you and your waste hauler to coordinate the easiest and most efficient method of recycling for your property. The District will then pay for the first year of your recycling contract if you agree to pay for the following two years.

With the Multi-Family Recycling Assistance Program, you will receive:
  • Consultation meeting and a customized recycling plan
  • Coordination of recycling services with your waste haulter
  • First year of recycling contract paid
  • Education about recycling for residents
Recycling could save you money! Property managers can often reduce their total solid waste management costs if residents recycle enough material to reduce their trash container size or collection frequency. This is because many haulers collect recycling at a lower cost than collection and disposal of an equal volume of trash.

Why recycle? Recycling saves energy, conserves natural resources, and creates new products.
  • Recycling one aluminum can save six ounces of gasoline!
  • Recycling one aluminum can saves six ounces of gasoline!
  • Recycling five plastic bottles can make one sq. ft. of carpet!

For more information or to determine if your property is eligible, please contact Michelle Balz at 513-946-7789 or

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Municipal recycling infrastructure: A Chicago Case Study for Cincinnati

This past weekend, several friends and I took a trip to Chicago. megabus ran a promotion for free seats, back in December, and we decided to take a 24-hour trip to the Windy City. I had plans to visit old standbys like Reckless Records, but also visit sustainable spots I found online. Unfortunately, our time ran short for running to Green Grocer Chicago, 360SEE, and Crop to Cup Coffee Company. I did, however, satiate my desire to find green assets in Chicago by doing photographic research for my upcoming presentations in Cincinnati neighborhoods.

The following are some new and old examples of recycling infrastructure in Chicago. Of course, these examples cannot be found all over the city, but they exhibit clear evidence of the power of partnerships.

Corporate-sponsored newspaper bins:
First is a basic newspaper recycling drop, which can be found in nearly all CTA transit stations, indoor and outdoor. Tied to Chicago's former Blue Bag Recycling Program, the bins originate from an agreement in 1997, between the Chicago Transit Authority and the Chicago Tribune. The newspaper provided the CTA funds to both purchase and install them in stations (link), which obviously resulted in advertising in prominent locations. Over the next year, 300 containers were placed at 90 stations. (The photo on the left, as you can see, does not have the feature the Tribune logo. I could not find evidence that reflected this change to the design of the newspaper bins.)

Currently, Cincinnati's Government Square does not currently have recycling bins installed at its bus bays. Perhaps Metro could benefit by leveraging partnerships with The Cincinnati Enquirer or Cincinnati CityBeat. In Cincinnati, we only have a single daily newspaper, which no longer has competition. (Business functions were actually handled by the Enquirer, since the Post entered a joint operating agreement in 1977.) Nonetheless, CityBeat and the Enquirer cater to opposing political views, and compete for ad revenue. As little ad space I have seen used above the seating on Metro buses, I believe that ad-supported or corporate sponsored recycling infrastructure is a great opportunity.

Ad-supported sidewalk recycling bins:
The bins pictured at the right were found in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago. After a visit to, I found that the Andersonville Development Corporation formed a committee to develop the Eco-Andersonville initiative. The idea was to create a certification program designed scaled for small businesses. Their sustainability efforts now cover the following areas:

Sustainable Business Certification Program
Business district recycling
Energy audits
Green and sustainable events
Community and commercial composting research

The initial funding for the purchase and installation of the bins was made possible by a grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Recycling collection is made possible by the sponsorship of its 15 bins. They illustrate the importance of leveraging public resources and private partnerships to create attractive public spaces. Additionally, the installation exhibits a wonderful visible sense of neighborhood pride. (Although the bins shown above accept only paper, Eco-Andersonville's bins line the business district to accept paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass.)

It should also be noted that eco-Andersonville's partnership with the Chicago Resource Center has made it possible to boast a 99% recycling rate in the neighborhood.

Instead of waiting for the city to fund and fulfill our sustainable visions, neighborhood community councils and development corporations can leverage resources and partnerships to create more sustainable urban corridors.

Book exchange bins:
And finally, just the for heck of it, how about book exchange bins? The installation of these bins, as was found outside Quimby's Books in Chicago's Wicker Park, can be as easy as salvaging non-functioning newspaper boxes. Where *did* all those Cincinnati Post boxes end up anyway, after the paper folded in 2007?

As we have seen over the past couple years, reuse and mobile markets have proven to be popular in several Cincinnati neighborhoods. Northside Up for Grabs, an annual "free market" enables anyone to bring unwanted items in exchange for others. The new Share Some Sugar -- a Cincinnati-based, online borrowing service -- also provides opportunities in the realm of waste reduction. Book exchanges can be a very inexpensive addition to a bustling neighborhood center.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sustainability on Crack: The Trash Diaries

Ahem, make that "trash diary".

So, as some of you know, I am pursuing a degree in urban planning as well as a minor in sustainability. Even though I am on co-op (a paid internship) this quarter, I am taking a introductory sustainability course in DAAP, which is not necessarily going to count toward any of my goals. The director of the Sustainable Urban Environments program is usually missing in action, over in Africa or some other exotic location. Thus, I'm not certain whether this course will actually work in substitution for the Intro to SUE. *However*...

In the course requirements, there are five projects from which we must choose two to complete. While it's a risk in itself that I am taking this class, it's another that I will overcompensate by completing all five projects. I mean, how could someone *not* give me credit for the course, after I go apeshit on five projects in ten weeks?

I will own this class.

So, included in the list of projects is to keep a trash diary:
For 2 straight weeks, throw nothing away, and keep a diary of the trash you have generated. At the end of the 2 weeks, submit your Trash Diary indicating itemized list of trash generated with total weights of paper, plastic, glass, metal and food that you created. Follow the rules and guidelines as identified by the blog 365 Days of Trash – available here:
That means that from January 6th to 19th, I will be logging my trash, my recyclables, and my food scraps composted. Each piece of waste will be photographed and filed by date. The results will be tallied by weight, and will end up in an in-class, Pecha Kucha presentation. It goes without saying that this is going to be an exercise and a challenge to create the least amount of waste I can. I. Am. Stoked.

So, for today, I have only created one piece of waste: a box from the spaghetti I made tonight. Throughout the day, I carried an organic cotton washcloth for runny noses. I ate at Aquarius Star & Om Cafe, which features local and organic fare with a cloth napkin. My purchase did not require a receipt. Later in the day, I had a doughnut from the Expressmart in TUC, on UC's campus, for which I paid cash and declined to use the wax paper. So far, so good. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, which should be hell for most commuters. That means I get to work from home, eat my bulk food items, and get into a better program by drinking more water.

I will be covering more of my trash diary endeavor, as well as my other sustainability class projects, regularly. Fortunately, that will also give me more motivation to post about my neighborhood initiative....tomorrow.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Bring your own container

Skyline and Sigg. The paths of these two staples in my life have finally converged. None of us are saints--certainly not green saints. As a long-standing Cincinnatian, and a resident who lives across the street from a Skyline Chili location, the question is not *if* it's Skyline Time but rather "dine-in or carryout".

Earlier last year, I decided to significantly reduce my carryout trips. However, it is Skyline's carryout packaging makes me cringe. (I rarely visit fast food establishments, and most locals would agree that Skyline doesn't exactly qualify as a try fast food eatery. It's a chili parlor.) Coneys (which is what I'd ordinarily order to-go) come in polystyrene foam containers. Ways come in #5 plastic re-fastening containers. The corresponding grated cheese and oyster crackers come in plastic baggies, sealed with sticky fasteners. Put that all in a brown take out bag or two.

No thank you. That is why I went for round two of my Sigg lunch container experime
nt. The first time around, I asked the cashier if I could have my order of coneys placed into my Sigg container instead. He said they could not do it because the health department would have a fit. Well, I certainly don't like being told no. This time, I was encountered with a "what...are you doing?" by my regular server. I told them that I didn't want to consume any more Styrofoam containers. I live right across the street, so I regularly refuse drink straws, napkins, and bags. In the end...they actually admired my stance! So, as long as I don't expect them to do accommodate me during the bar rush or after a UC game, I'm golden.

As for the health department excuse that I got, the first time around? The staffer assembling the meal still must change his plastic gloves, after handing an outside container. The food must also be placed in the outside container away from the serving island. Even so, it comes down to two plastic gloves in the trash or a polystyrene container, at the very least.

I would also recommend bringing your Sigg drink bottle to your favorite establishment. If you're like me, and still helplessly fixed on a certain carbonated beverage, restaurants are actually more willing to fill your drink container. Of course it's better to eat at home, eat local, avoid meats, and avoid sodas. But we also have our weaknesses for traveling consumer food products. Every one of those times deserves an offset.