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Living a Greener Life

Celebrate Earth Day by instituting eco-friendly habits year-round.

JOSHUA SUDOCK/ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Anne Krieghoff is known as the UCI recycling guru.

Commemorate April 22 by starting a new eco-friendly habit and make an investment in the planet. It's important to remember that sustainability is not just a holiday festivity, but a lifestyle.

Practicing sustainability is easier than it sounds. By incorporating more environment-friendly practices into daily routines, everyone can take a large step to reducing their ecological footprint on the Earth.

Reduce by Ditching Disposables
Reducing your waste by incorporating a reusable cup into your daily coffee and drink routine helps the environment and your wallet. There is a wide variety of eco-friendly cups available on the market today, so everyone is sure to find the mug that most fits their lifestyle.

JOCO 12 oz. Glass Reusable Coffee Cup
With the mission of creating “Cups That Care,” JOCO’s collection of glass mugs prides itself on being 100% recyclable and reusable. Since the cups are not made of plastic, they are more durable and do not interfere with the taste of the liquids they carry. JOCO offers their feature product in 15 colors, but customers can also mix and match sleeve and lid colors to customize their cups. :: jococups.com

Contigo’s Stainless Steal AUTOSEAL Mugs
Featuring a double-wall vacuum-insulated mug, Contigo’s line of AUTOSEAL mugs are 100% leak- and spill-proof. The travel mugs can keep your drinks hot for up to four hours and cold for up to 12 hour, and fits in most standard cup holders. Since these tumblers are made of stainless steel, they are not microwave safe. :: gocontigo.com

Starbuck’s $1 Reusable Plastic Cup
In 2013, Seattle-based coffee giant Starbucks launched one of the most successful and acknowledged reusable cups campaigns in the nation. Even today, customers can purchase a reusable plastic cup for just $1 in-store, good for about 10 uses. Though not the most eco-friendly product, Starbucks’ green marketing campaign does its job in promoting sustainability and encourages their customers to be more aware of their impact on their environment. :: starbucks.com

Reuse with Upcycling Projects
Taking on DIY projects that repurpose common household items saves money and diverts potential trash from the landfill. When you reuse an item for a different purpose, you save the time and energy of getting a new product and later disposing of it.

DIY Recycled Watering Can
Instead of throwing out another empty bottle of juice, turn it into a watering can. Save one of your used, empty wide-mouth bottles and drill several holes into the lid. Fill it with water, and you have your very own DIY watering can.

Upcycled Soda Bottle Lighting
If you’re in need of adding some extra light to a room, try grabbing some common household goods to make your own lamp. With a clean, empty soda bottle, some yarn and other tools, you can craft your own hanging light fixtures. This project will save you a trip to the store and money from buying another lighting fixture while giving you the chance to reuse products you already own.

Repurposed Corks
Gather all your wine corks together to make personalized, handcrafted stamps. All you really need is a sharpie, a bunch of corks and a sharp craft knife. These stamps can be reused over and over again, so you’ll never have to throw them away.

Recycle at Home
Many businesses now have separate containers for recyclable waste and landfill waste. Implement the same system in your household by having separate bins for recyclable products. Place these bins in easily accessible areas of the house and get in the habit of separating your disposable goods.  

“Recycling is so easy and it’s fun. The change that you have to make in your daily life is so small,” says Anne Krieghoff, the University of California, Irvine’s Facilities Management superintendent of solid waste and recycling services.

She explained that recycling paper is a simple habit that can have a large impact on the environment.

“If you recycle it, it can come back as paper," Krieghoff says. "It’s so simple to make paper, and it’s a very, very clean process.”

To make paper from recycled paper, the recycled paper is combined with water in a large vessel called a pulper. The pulper blends the mixture to separate fibers from the paper sheets from each other before they pass through other separation processes that remove contaminants such as ink, dirt and metals, from the paper.

Paper made with virgin fiber, or wood, requires more energy and the cutting down of more trees. Krieghoff says, “Somewhere on the planet, if we don’t recycle [our paper], we deforest an area.”

Every ton of recycled paper saves about 17 mature trees from being cut down for paper production. One tree can provide a year’s worth of oxygen for approximately 11 people.

“You want to keep the trees, they’re a good thing,” Krieghoff says. “A lot of people don’t realize all you got to do is look for a blue bin… It’s a simple change with a huge environmental benefit. If you just take that simple act of recycling paper, your carbon footprint change is radical.”


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