Mattresses take up a good amount of space in your home, and unfortunately, in the landfill. However, when it’s time for a new one, these large home products don’t need to become unsightly waste - Find out how!
Written by Sarah Johnson
Zero Waste Advocate working for Tuck, a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources.
You have options that will keep your mattress out of the landfill. With a two-fold approach to reduce waste and buy environmentally-friendly mattresses, you can make a difference.
1. Donate the Old
Many national and local charity or thrift organizations accept mattress donations. Be sure your mattress is stain, tear, and odor free. If you live in an area with bed bugs, mattress donations may not be accepted. To save yourself the hassle of loading and hauling your mattress, call ahead to make sure it will be accepted. Do NOT leave your old mattress behind a charity store after hours. You may be leaving them with the problem of disposal and most likely it will end up in the landfill.
2. Look Up Recycling Facilities
The parts and components of many different types of mattresses can be recycled. For example:
3. Think Outside the Box
Mattresses are full of components, from braiding and buttons to nails and screws that can be used for other projects. Innersprings can be used to make wreaths or transformed into a picture holding room divider. Memory foam can be used to make a dog bed or chair cushions. Wood slats come in handy for all kinds of home projects. If you’re up to dismantling the mattress yourself, with a little creativity, you can probably use most of the components around your home.
4. Choose an Environmentally-Friendly Mattress
The truth is that there’s no mattress that’s 100 percent green, organic, or environmentally friendly, but there are some that come close. All-natural latex mattresses are derived from the sap of the rubber tree. After the sap goes through a series of manufacturing processes, it makes a mattress that’s both durable and comfortable. These mattresses are biodegradable, leaving behind a white residue.
However, latex mattresses can be expensive. If you need something more affordable, look for mattresses made with organic components through environmentally-friendly practices. Organic cotton and/or wool covers, plant-based foams, and fire socks instead of chemical flame retardants produce less waste and make disposal easier.
To help you find an environmentally-friendly mattress, look for certifications from independent organizations that monitor environmental impact like:
A mattress doesn’t have to become waste. With a few phone calls and research, you can dispose of the old and find a new one that will cut down on your environmental footprint.
Cigarette filters are not as bad as nuclear waste, but they take seven years to bio-degrade. In the words of a lifelong smoker, here's how you can make a bad habit into a habit that's not so bad for the planet!
Written by Merran Van Der Tak
Retired marketing queen, lifelong smoker and full time #LitterHero
If you are a lifetime smoker, as I am, quitting can be difficult.
But it should not be difficult to see that cigarette ends are litter. Just look around the entrances to buildings (where people cannot smoke inside), or in parking areas – even in scenic places – where people have decided that their car ash-tray is full. Take a look at your own ash-tray or around the places where you usually smoke.
Cigarette filters are not as bad as nuclear waste, but they take around seven years to bio-degrade. Some of our cigarette ends might stay around longer than we older smokers do. There are cases where fish have choked to death on them - at least that stops them from getting hooked, I suppose.
Smokers already suffer social stigma. Cigarette ends everywhere just make it worse – another reason for non-smokers to think that we are low-life.
I am a heavy smoker. It is more than 40 years since I dropped a cigarette end anywhere except in a proper receptacle. If I am far from receptacles, I dispose carefully of any burning ash and residual shreds of tobacco, then the filter goes into the plastic around the lower part of the cigarette packet or even into my “butt pocket”.
No, they do not make my clothes smell, although that might depend on the brand and how carefully I remove the shreds of tobacco. For longer outings, I carry a portable ash-tray with lid – there are lots of options available, even a little plastic bag would do. These days, there are even start up companies producing pocket ashtray, I rather like these from Portuguese non profit Biataki.
If dog-walkers are required to collect their dogs' waste, why not cigarette smokers?
Cigarette ends are litter – don't drop them. Please! Instead, why not help pick them up, take a photo and share it today with the hashtag
#MicroPark is the idea of turning unused, underused or misused spots of land in urban or suburban areas into small, inexpensive and very low maintenance parks for people to enjoy. The concept came about as an idea to help combat fly-tipping, and here's how it works.
We are faced with constant and ever increasing municipal problems due to fly tipping / illegal waste dumping, as well as persistent littering. The problems not only affect municipal waste management but gradually all tiers of local (and national) quality of life. The upstream solution is in theory very simple: reduce or eliminate waste material flow by reducing, replacing or eliminating excessive packaging.
Until such practices are broadly implemented by manufacturers, the tangible waste problem lands squarely on municipal streets. This suggestion focuses mostly on the waste management side, although a short term benefit will be raised environmental awareness.
Why my concern with visible waste dumping? I think the disrespect and disregard for our shared environment is also a symptom of larger social ills: littering begins a vicious cycle once it becomes accepted - if a site is already dirty or badly treated, what is the harm in throwing more garbage there? I believe this proposal presents an actionable outline for any municipality that has the desire to improve quality of life, regardless of material resources.
In order to encourage better social habits, I propose the creation of small, low cost micro parks that can be created and maintained using voluntary labour or unemployed locals, under the management or with the approval of the municipal services.
The idea is to create on the sites of habitual fly tipping / illegal dumping, a small green area - a micro park - composed of inexpensive materials such as gravel, pine bark, a bench, shrubs or aromatic herbs for example - with very low cost of implementation and maintenance, to discourage the dumping of waste and at the same time occupy these spaces with a small oasis that will enhance the quality of social and environmental life.
In practical terms this is an opportunity to employ volunteers and unemployed in terms of manpower, as well as an opportunity for branded corporate sponsorship from local hardware stores in regards to the materials for the construction of such micro parks.
On other hand, in order strengthen the deterrent against illegal dumping and reduce the recurrence of habitual offenders, low cost, remote automatic video capture (such as motion activated wildlife cameras) can be employed. Otherwise it is almost impossible to detect and punish offenders.
Finally, an initiative like this would have to be supported by local education campaigns in schools, public spaces and media (TV, radio, newspapers, social media).
If converting habitual fly tipping and litter dumping sore spots into low cost and near zero maintenance urban gardens sounds so crazy it might just work, why not get involved? Here's an idea to improve the municipal environment, public health and quality life at very low cost.
Now is your chance to win a full suite of brand new, official #LitterHERO wear! And the best part? It's all song and dance! Have you got what it takes?
With Earth Day fast approaching, I took the plunge and ordered a whole brand new set of #LitterHERO wear, including a 100% cotton T Shirt with front and back prints, a branded, lightweight cap and a go anywhere badge.
I have also been feeding the idea of a Litterhero pastiche jingle based on a number of popular pop songs, such as "We don't need another hero"... "You can be a Litter Hero...", you get the idea! So why not tie these two things together and run a little contest?
Think you have what it takes? If so, here are the rules:
Local events to aim to raise awareness, build community and clean up a local street, park or neighborhood. Join or start one today, get involved!
Cleanup events are one of the most powerful ways of spreading a positive message and being an actual Litter Hero. Whether an event is attended by 2 people or 200 people, the statement is clear:
"We have a litter problem here, and together we can make this part of the world cleaner".
LitterHero clean up events are design for maximum positive impact and minimum hassle. We do this by limiting numbers to around 30 people max and scheduling at a time when people with children can also attend, usually Saturdays around 10:30 am.
Another powerful driver is that we like to keep our events very short! 30 minutes of clean up time is enough for even a small group to make a big impact and also keep people of all ages engaged and more importantly, increase the desire to clean up even more!
In a nutshell, here's the secret sauce:
If you would like to host your own litter clean up events through a local #LitterHero group or on your own, here is a good article to help you get started.
The #LitterBike concept is all about putting litter in the bin and the fun between your legs! If you commute by bike it's even easier! Here's how to get started.
This is concept is ideally suited to a city, touring or hybrid bicycle with a rear rack! All you need is a pannier or light weight trash bin, a bin bag and a litter picker.
Step 1 - fix your pannier or bin to the rear rack.
Step 2 - Line your pannier or bin with a bin bag.
Step 3 - Get picking!
Step 4 - Snap a photo and share with with the tag #LitterHero and #LitterBike!
If you like this idea and want to get involved or to start sharing your own LitterBike actions, get in touch!
The single easiest way to be a Litter Hero is to simply reduce the amount of waste material you generate every day. Here are a few easy ideas to get started.
A quick web search for "How to reduce waste at home" comes up with about 203,000,000 results, so there is plenty of material out there! Before getting into the literature, it's very helpful to keep in mind the 5 R's of Waste Management:
You can find some more helpful information on Zero Waste initiatives and lifestyle in our Resources section. And you can always get in touch to share your own ideas and experiences!
You're feeling motivated to get out there with some friends and finally clean up that trashed spot that has been bothering you for months. Here are 7 key ways to organise a great local litter clean up event.
Picking up a bag and litter picker to grab some trash off your street is a great feel good activity but to really spread the message, nothing beats a local litter clean up event. To make sure you make it a great occasion for all involved, here are 7 Keys for a Successful Cleanup event:
1) Be willing to do the activity alone, and enjoy it!
2) Post your event publicly or invite specific people. You can use the LitterHero events calendar to share your event. Make the time, place, duration and equipment required explicitly clear to everyone you tell about it.
3) INVITE people. Don’t coerce, try to sell it to them, or overly control their participation. When invited, most people will bring something to the clean up effort that really makes really work.
4) Keep it simple. Cleaning up trash is easy. All you need are garbage bags, places to put the trash, and gloves (rakes and shovels can’t hurt either!) Tell potential participants that these are the raw materials, but bring enough yourself to cover half-a-dozen people who come without .
5) Have fun doing it. After all, you and everyone else will be actively making the world a better place… really. MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE! (this is what inspires me, and probably you, and probably most people who do things like this).
6) Tell lots of people, including the press. Just call them up and tell them what, when, where you are doing what you are doing. Even if you wind up alone out there, you will still peak interest, and people may want to join you next time. Forward chunks of the press release to any news organizations you contact (having something written that can be “cut and pasted” can increase likelihood of publication).
finally–and probably most important–
7) Remind people and yourself that what you are doing matters by telling incidents and specifics about how it matters to you. Just the simple truth will inspire others. You can talk about what you have done to date, and the people you met along the way.
Once people experience their own daily ability to make a difference, they will probably keep it up on their own - and maybe do even do a project in their neck of the woods…
If it is easy enough for you, bring some food treats for other participants as a surprise. Maybe cookies or little chocolates or something– cheap and easy is my motto on this. You can always go for coffee afterward if that works better too…
Before we get to the good social actions, we have to have good ideas to put into practice. To have good ideas, we must first have many ideas. Help us and share yours!
The LitterHero concept is based on the continuous improvement actions of the constituent groups of individuals. These actions are based on the ideas we consider to have the greatest positive impact at the least cost. And all these ideas come from people like any of us.
You don't have to have a perfect and complete concept to start developing a new campaign or improvement action, just the purpose of the idea and some notion of how to get the desired result.
Share your ideas for Preventing or Disposing of Garbage and Waste with us, and we'll try to help you develop the best way to bring it to life!
One of the most powerful tools in the the Litter Hero's arsenal can be a litter map and litter mapping app. You can share your good work, help build a global knowledge base and encourage other to join you! Here are a few of the best litter mapping apps out there.
To make the most of your litter picking efforts whether alone or with a group, why not share your activity with others? Get kudos, share useful location data and inspire other people to help join litter clean up events and activities. These mobile apps can help make it more fun and more rewarding to be a LitterHero!