Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Spring Cleaning: Cleaning Out Your Closet

With spring fast approaching, be on the lookout for a series of blog posts with Eco-friendly spring cleaning tips. To start out, let’s look at how to clean out your closet without adding to landfills.

Fast fashion is defined as a contemporary term describing a clothing chain’s ability to move designs from catwalk to stores quickly at a low price to customers. It brings an end to the two-season shopping; companies like Zara, H&M and Forever 21 can design, manufacture and get new styles into store shelves within a month. Although fast and cheap, our closets can’t keep up, forcing us to throw away the excess of it – approximately 70 pounds per person annually according to the Council for Textile Recycling. This translates into approximately 191 T-shirts per person, totaling 3.8 billion pounds of waste making our landfills pay the price.

Here’s the good news! More than 90% of this discarded fabric, worn or torn, is recyclable:

Resell them – If the tag is still on them or they’re in top condition, the clothes can be resold to consignment or vintage shops such as Plato’s Closet, a nationwide used clothing chain.

Donate – H&M has a recycling policy allowing for shoppers to exchange one shopping bag of clothing, no H&M label required, for a 15% discount on any item of their choice. The Salvation Army and Goodwill have over 2,300 centers and drop-off locations for your gently used goods. Dress for Success accepts women’s professional attire and Donate My Dress accepts formal and special occasion dress donations to others who need them.

Hand them down to younger kids in your family or to your friends.

SwapFind a local public clothes swap and exchange clothes with someone else, trading an unwanted item for a “new” item in your closet.

Recycle – Send your clothes directly to a textile recycler if your clothes are past their prime. In Wake County, your local Convenience Center will accept clothing and shoes.

No matter which option you pick, recycle the stuffed garbage bag full of unwanted clothing next time you clean out that overfilled closet.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Exploring Our Environment – University Events

One of the wonderful things about living in beautiful (and sometimes icy) North Carolina is that residents all across the state have access to tremendous cultural and educational centers through its colleges and universities. Many institutes of higher education are asking serious questions about our energy future and are hosting events that look at current environmental issues and innovative solutions. Universities in the Research Triangle area have several events coming up within the next few months that are sure to inspire and further the discussion about North Carolina’s renewable energy future and environmental concerns.

At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the UNC Institute for the Environment will be highlighting environmental and resource management issues. For a full view of their upcoming events visit their calendar here.

·         February 26 is the NC Clean Tech Summit that will be held at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill. It is a partnership of the UNC Kenan-Flager Business School Center for Sustainable Enterprise, Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster, Strata Solar, and the UNC Institute for the Environment.  It will highlight North Carolina’s role as a global leader in clean technology and address problems like renewable energy storage, how entrepreneurs can find funding in this field, smart grid technology, and how rural areas and small towns can benefit from clean tech development. This is an incredible opportunity to learn about the future of energy in the state. Registration is open to the public and anyone interested is encouraged to attend! Visit their website to register and view the agenda here.  

·         April 16 is UNC’s Campus Earth Week Keynote presentation This Blue Planet: Preserving and Sustaining a Healthy Earth with speaker Alexandra Cousteau. It is free and open to the public and will be at the Stone Center Auditorium. It starts at 6:00pm and shows the importance of conservation and sustainable management of water in order to preserve a healthy planet.


Sustainability at NC State University will also be hosting several events in the upcoming months. For a full listing, visit their website here.

·         March 19 and 20 is the 16th annual Water Resources Research Institute Conference focusing on Local Governments as Keystone Water Resources Managers. It will be held in the Jane S. McKimmon Center at NC State University. This symposium will explore the role local government plays in managing water resources in North Carolina. To register and learn more about this event visit their website here.

·         April 16 is the 2014 North Carolina Sea Grant Research Symposium on Investments and Opportunities. It will also be held at the McKimmon Center. This event is free and will focus on the research and extension efforts sponsored by North Carolina Sea Grant addressing current and emerging issues. Topics will include healthy costal ecosystems, sustainable coastal development, safe and sustainable seafood supply, and hazard resilience in coastal communities. Visit their webpage to learn more and register.

These are only a few of the great events that are taking place on college campuses in the Triangle and throughout the state. Members of the public are encouraged to come and take advantage of the great opportunities and resources local universities can provide!