Sep 122016

This month's contributor is Mary HubbardEvery time I take a walk I see trash. Bits and pieces of this and that, large and small. For a long time I allowed the trash to ruin my day. I just couldn’t understand why people would simply toss something on the ground.

Then it occurred to me that “trash happens”. Garbage bags break. The wind blows. Things fly out car windows. Dogs poop. Advertisements shoved under windshield wipers fly away. Get it? Trash Happens.

I decided to stop letting trash ruin my day. These days, I make it a personal mission to pick up trash and I invite you to do the same. Why? Because it feels good and it’s good for the environment. We can’t stop “Trash Happens”, but we can be part of the solution.

Why not try it? Jump on board and pick up some trash every time you’re out and about. You’ll be amazed at how great it feels.

Earth Day Trash Picker Upper

Aug 302016

It’s almost fall. The dog days of summer are coming to a close. The kids are going back to school. And it’s the beginning of football season! America sure does love its football. But those college and NFL games that we love so much have a bigger impact on our environment than you may realize.

Contributor David GormanIt is estimated that over 65 million fans attend collegiate and professional games annually. That’s just the people inside the stadiums! This estimate does not include the fans tailgating in the parking lot, eating in restaurants near the venue, or the fans gathering at a friend’s house to watch the game.

These fans generate a lot of stuff that needs to be dealt with, and it’s not just the trash that goes to a landfill. There are numerous other impacts: there are the carbon emissions from the fans traveling to the venue via car or plane; the electricity to power the stadium, restaurants, and hotels where fans are staying; the food scraps and foodservice packaging generated by the concession stands; the inevitable human waste. All of this material is being generated inside and outside the stadiums – in the parking lots by tailgaters, at local bars where fans are celebrating, and at a good friend’s house hosting a cookout for the big game.

Football SeasonFolsom Field at the University of Colorado was the first major college football stadium in the country to attempt to go “zero waste”, and Eco-Products has been a part of that effort since the beginning. Most of what we have learned about what to do and what not to do as it relates to large scale waste diversion we learned from our friends at CU. Next Saturday we’ll begin our 9th season working with CU on diverting a much waste as possible from Folsom Field, and we’ll be a part of a new VIP tailgate experience on the new Franklin Field that will be a zero waste zone as well – the first of its kind outside the stadium gates.

Colleges and professional sports teams are taking action to minimize this impact. For example, the NFL is working with a non-profit, Rock and Wrap It Up, to recover prepared foods and distribute the recovered food to the homeless shelters or food banks near stadiums. The EPA has a Game Day Challenge, where colleges compete against each other to see who can reduce, reuse, and recycle the most during an event. The Ohio State Football team is composting all food scraps at the Horseshoe in Columbus. Numerous stadiums in the NFL have revamped lighting systems to consume less electricity, and some sports venues are providing compostable plates or recycling bags to tailgaters.

As awareness around sustainability grows, more sport teams and venues will continue to jump on the bandwagon by adopting green initiatives. The next time you are at a stadium, take a look around to see what kind of green solutions your favorite team is implementing. If you don’t see much evidence of sustainability in action, consider letting your team know that you’d cheer even louder if they took additional steps to minimize their environmental impacts.

Here are some resources on the topic of sustainability in sports:

  1. The Natural Resources Defense Council – Comprehensive study on sustainability in sports by this nonprofit working to protect the air, land, and water from pollution.
  2. The Green Sports Alliance – Leveraging the cultural and market influence of sports to promote healthy, sustainable communities.
  3. The GameDay Challenge – A friendly recycling and diversion competition among Colleges and Universities.
  4. EPA Wastewise – Encourages organizations and businesses to achieve sustainability in their practices and reduce select industrial wastes.
Mar 212016

Did you know that there are SOCKS that are guaranteed for LIFE?

Nadia Westra is this month's contributorToday when something breaks, wears, or simply becomes obsolete it is quickly tossed and replaced by a newer, shinier and just-as-unreliable version. There are many drivers for this culture, including the fact cheap labor makes cranking out new products something that can be done with ease. There is also social pressure to always have “the latest and greatest”, making “old” products less desirable. Another big issue is that parts and accessories become hard to find or are incompatible between brands and models.

Throwaway CultureAs our non-renewable resources continue to deplete, some in danger of running out altogether, it is crucial to find ways to make wares easily repairable or create items that simply never wear out. Luckily this idea is becoming a trend and it’s catching on fairly quickly.

Companies like Patagonia, Darn Tough Socks, and Dr. Martens are understanding this need, and offer free repairs when their merchandise breaks or simply wears out. They also build their products to last from the beginning making sure “that your gear has a long and interesting life.”

There is also a website, called IFIXIT that has thousands of step-by-step guides to fix everything from your leaking shower head to your Super Nintendo from 1991. They also sell the parts, tools, needed and have an answer forum to help you tackle the projects yourself.

Eco Patriots are Waste SavvySo the next time you are purchasing a soccer ball for your favorite child or are ready to toss your favorite jacket because of a broken zipper, take a few moments to change the throwaway culture. If a sock can last a lifetime, so can anything else.

Dec 212015

‘Tis the season for the holidays! For many of us the holidays are a time for gathering with family and friends and sharing plenty of food, drink and merriment. And for many households, more food is prepared than can be consumed.

Jamie Nash, this month's contributorHere in the U.S. we leave an insane amount of food unused. An average family of four leaves behind nearly $1,600 to $2,000 each year to food that is purchased but not eaten. Unfortunately of that unused food, 35 million tons goes to the landfill every year. “For the business sector, that economic impact is even more staggering,” says Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Land and Emergency Management (OLEM).

A big part of addressing the problem is creating an awareness and educating the public on the social, economic and environmental impacts of unused food. With a better understanding of these impacts, setting goals to measure and improve food management is key to reducing food that becomes waste. In September 2015, the EPA and U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a new food-reduction goal: to cut the country’s food waste 50 percent by 2030.

Composting food is vital to reaching our food-reduction goal. What can we do to reduce unused food? Starting small is usually always a good approach. Buy only what you need, plan and save, and be a smart consumer. Be aware of buying big quantities in an effort to save. Finally, make sure to use those composters! Composting food is vital to reaching our reduction goal, as it is how we keep unused food from becoming waste. Here are some resources for becoming more food savvy:

Let’s Talk Trash – USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion has developed a new infographic which provides food waste & loss facts and reduction tips.

FoodKeeper App – helps you understand food and beverage storage food and beverage storage.

EPS’s suggestions for reducing food waste.

How do you find a commercial composter near you? Check out It’s an on-line database that is searchable by ZIP code.

Eco Patriots are Waste SavvyHopefully we can all think of ways to be more mindful of limiting our unused food not only at the holidays but throughout the year. On that note, I like this fitting quote by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, “Let’s feed people, not landfills.”

Happy Holidays

Aug 112015

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
   — Rumi

This month's contributor is Savvinista Laureate in absentia Tori RosenbeckerDid you know that to make one ton of paper towels, 17 trees are cut down and 20,000 gallons of water are consumed? And every day over 3,000 tons of paper towel waste is produced in the US alone.

A great alternative to paper towels is re-usable towels:

  • Cleaning the bathroom? Microfiber towels offer a great alternative to using paper towels for cleaning. These can be purchased at most grocery stores and drug stores, and they won’t leave behind fibers or filth on your bathroom surfaces.
  • Spill something in the kitchen? Keep a small stack of rags in a drawer or under the sink, and grab one whenever you need to clean up a mess.
  • Serving dinner? Use cloth napkins. Classy. Functional. Environmentally friendly.
  • Out and about or at work? Bring a handkerchief or a People Towel with you. Did you know that in Japan there are no paper towels or hand dryers in most public restrooms? Everyone carries a small hand towel with them.

Keep in mind – while reusables sound more environmentally friendly than single-use items, that is not always the case. It is important to consider the energy and water that go into manufacturing an item as well as the life and the end of life of the product. To improve the environmental “friendliness” of towels, wash full loads in an energy efficient washing machine and line dry.

If everyone incorporated a few changes to their home and work routine, we could drastically reduce our dependency on disposable paper towels. Be the change.

Did you know that to make one ton of paper towels, 17 trees are cut down and 20,000 gallons of water are consumed?

Jul 012015

Lindsey Wohlman is our contributor this issueSummer has arrived! With summer comes music festivals and other large scale events and plenty of big challenges in waste diversion and reduction. Be it baseball stadiums, concert venues, or outdoor festivals we’re seeing lots of examples of positive changes.

Here at Eco-Products® we love a good challenge and we love seeing the creative solutions used to help reduce waste. One such event that has successfully implemented a variety of measures is the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Their website sums it up perfectly – For more than two decades, Planet Bluegrass has worked to present the finest musical experiences in some of the country’s most magnificent natural environments while striving to reduce our environmental footprint at the same time (

This festival’s reduction programs can be placed into two categories.

Telluride Bluegrass FestivalWaste Reduction
Telluride tackles waste reduction by partnering with several vendors to encourage reusables. They sell Clean Kanteen steel cups at the Bluegrass festival store that can be filled by beer vendors at a discount. Don’t want to buy one? Well the beer tents sell all of their beer in reusable Eco-Products® souvenir cups (which can be refilled at a discount at these same booths). They do not offer any single use cups and in doing so they cut out an entire waste generator. Telluride estimates they save upwards of 75,000 cups from being thrown out just by making this one change of habit.

When it comes time to hydrate, you can fill up your water bottles (or souvenir cups) at one of Telluride’s water stations. All stations provide free filtered water to help keep festivarians hydrated without bringing in bottled water. This has resulted in many food vendors opting to not sell bottled water since water is readily available for free.

Lastly, there’s a vendor wide ban on all plastic bags. This means all purchases must be bagged in cloth bags (or backpacks since everyone is wearing them).

Waste Diversion
Of course you can’t ban all waste. Food vendors still need a way to serve their customer, but Telluride works closely with vendors to ensure what they serve on can be diverted. Telluride is able to divert more than 60% of their festival waste ( by requiring all vendors to use compostable plates and cutlery.

In order for festivarians to divert their waste correctly, Telluride provides a 3 bin system each with their own trained volunteer “trash goalie”. They help concert-goers place their waste in the correct bin (compost, recycling, or trash). Volunteers ensure cleaner waste streams by directing trash disposal and occasionally sorting mis-placed waste (in years past our VP of Marketing Wendell has been known to help out) and in turn get to enjoy the festival when not at work! If you want to volunteer next year, check out this link.

Telluride Waste Solutions