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Green Is Universal Blog

Creative & Unexpected Ways to Reduce, Reuse & Recycle


You’ve probably heard the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra about a million times. That’s because it’s been a key pillar of the green living and conservation movements since the first Earth Day in 1970. By now, you might respond with a mental “I know, I know, I know.” But are you doing, doing, doing? You probably recycle your aluminum and paper. Maybe you reuse glass food jars for future food storage. And perhaps you take steps to reduce by being a conscious consumer. Anything and everything you’re doing deserves a pat on the back! But today we’re challenging you to do a little more – and we have plenty of ideas and inspiration to get you going.

Here are three tips from our free “One Small Act” social gaming platform that has hundreds of ways to green your life.

Recycle a pair of old running shoes or sneakers.

If you think your smelly old athletic shoes are good for little more than stinking up a landfill, here’s some news that will send you running for the closet: just like your used bottles, cans, and newspapers, athletic shoe soles can easily be reincarnated as something new after they’ve crossed their last finish line.

Most athletic shoes are made from synthetic rubber and other materials that are perfectly recyclable no matter how dreadful their condition may seem. From running tracks and basketball courts to playgrounds and carpet padding, even the worst offenders can be turned into the very things they once played upon. The midsole foam from 2,500 pairs of sneakers, for example, can be recycled into a tennis court. And it takes up to 75,000 pairs to make a soccer field!

You can’t toss old footwear into your curbside bin along with your usual recyclables because most recycling operations aren’t set up to handle their unique materials.

That said, with more people realizing that shoe recycling is a great way to tread more lightly on the earth, it’s becoming simpler to do. Check out RecycledRunners to see if there are resources near you.

Use a reusable moving box instead of cardboard.

Moving is a drag. It’s also not the eco-friendliest experience. To lower the eco-impact of your move and save some trees—not to mention tape—try renting reusable plastic moving boxes.

Plastic boxes aren’t perfect. They’re heavy—which adds up when you load them into a gas-guzzling truck. They’re made from a nonrenewable resource (though some are recycled plastic) and must be carefully recycled at the end of their useful life. Some companies say their lifespan is 200 uses, others claim 400. But on average they’re a better bet than cardboard boxes, even ones containing recycled content—whether you take them from your local supermarket and liquor store or you buy them new. Recycling cardboard does eventually produce waste. And there’s a considerable amount of shipping involved between recycling plants, cardboard manufacturers, and the stores that sell the boxes.

There are added benefits to reusable bins that cardboard can’t match. First, if it rains, you’re in luck. Plastic bins don’t get soggy. Second, rental periods are usually a few weeks, which means you have a set unpacking date. No more leaving boxes unopened for months post-move! And no more breaking down and recycling empties.

Find a local reusable moving box company. They’re easier to find in cities. Rental fees are similar to buying cardboard boxes, depending on where you live. The system works best if you’re moving close by. It’s trickier if your move is cross-country.

Opt for towels and clothes for packing fragile items, instead of bubble wrap and other disposables.

Challenge a co-worker to a day of going paperless.

Offices are involved in the world’s greatest paper chase, a race our forests end up losing.

The average office employee generates approximately 1.5 pounds (.7 kg) of waste paper every workday for a less-than-grand total of 350 pounds (159 kg) per year. In an office with just 30 people that’s an annual waste stream of five tons. Not all of this waste gets recycled. According to the EPA, about 37 percent of the paper we use is entombed forever in landfills as pure waste.

Some 42 percent of the industrial wood harvest is used to make paper, and the industry itself is the 4th leading manufacturing-related emitter of greenhouse gases in the U.S. If America could cut its office paper use by just 10 percent, we’d prevent 1.6 million tons of those emissions. That’s like taking 280,000 cars off the road!

Challenge a co-worker to a day of going paper free (you have to do it, too)! See if you can make it the whole day. It may require the focus and determination of an Olympic athlete, but you know what they say: practice makes perfect.

Here are some tips to help you in your quest:

  • Suggest meeting hosts email agendas and any necessary information to attendees electronically instead of as paperwork.
  • Encourage meeting attendees use smart phones, tablets, or laptops instead of paper for note keeping and document sharing.
  • Post-meeting, remind hosts that meeting minutes or reports can be sent electronically as well.
  • Edit files electronically instead of printing them out.
  • Try taking notes digitally instead of in a notebook.

Need more inspiration? Check out all of these awesome ideas from some of our favorite green bloggers:

Learn more and take action on One Small Act – our digital platform where you can earn points for living lighter on the planet and connect with others doing the same!


Go Green When You Go Back to School

Did you know that on average, parents will spend around $1000 this year in back to school supplies? Imagine what an impact that would make if everything they bought was eco-friendly! Whether or not you’ve already done your shopping, there are tons of other ways to go green when your kids go back to school. Today we have 3 ideas from our One Small Act platform and a bunch more from some of our favorite eco-friendly bloggers.

Bike to School

You know taking the kids to school by bike has so many benefits. If you’re not ready to do it daily, commit to once a week. By choosing to bike instead of drive or even take public transportation, you’ll lower your commuting costs, avoid the use of non-renewable resources for fuel, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide the offspring with a green-and-valuable lesson. Walking to school has similar physical and environmental health benefits, but biking is much speedier—a plus with children.

There are emotional bonuses to biking, too. Sure it’s important to be a part of the transportation solution, but it’s also fun. It’s a stress buster, a strength builder, and generally feels great to be outside together.

Join Your School’s Green Team

If your school has a Green Team, join in! If there isn’t one, there are several organizations offering suggestions and resources to help interested people find one, including the National Wildlife Federation’s Eco-Schools and the Healthy Schools Network.

Reach out to parents, kids, teachers, administrators, and local environmental organizations to help define what your Green Team’s mission is, and then get to work! Even in an eco-friendly environment, there’s always plenty to do.

Avoid Idling Your Car During Drop-Offs and Pick-Ups

Reduce unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions by turning off your car if you’re going to be stopped for more than ten seconds. During winter, try idling for ten seconds, then start gently driving to your destination. Consider asking your school district to adopt an idle-free zone.

For tons of other tips and ideas, check out these blog posts that cover everything from school lunches to backpacks and much more!

Learn more and take action on One Small Act – our digital platform where you can earn points for living lighter on the planet and connect with others doing the same!


Water Conservation & Drought Busting

Group Of Women Sitting Around Table Eating Dessert

From California to Australia, many people find themselves in the midst of a drought so serious, some researchers have cited it could be the worst in the last half century. So while you may not be able to make it rain, there are some things you can do to help conserve water both at home and at work.

Help out with the drought: let’s work together to complete as many actions to see how many gallons of water we can all save together! Here are five tips from our free “One Small Act” social gaming platform that has hundreds of ways to green your life.

1. Take a quick quiz to see how well you’re conserving water and where you can improve.

2. Read your home water bill. If your bill lists historical usage, a quick glance at your water bill will tell you how many liters or gallons you use each month, as well as the amount you are paying for each liter or gallon. Seeing your monthly spend can be a powerful incentive to cut down on water waste. Use what you learn to motivate you to reduce the amount of water you’re using.

3. Skip meat for one meal this week. According to a global study cited by the Environmental Working Group, it takes an estimated 1,857 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef (and 469 gallons of water for a pound of chicken), and that doesn’t include processing!

4. Be a member of the empty glass club. When dining out at a restaurant, make sure to drink all the water that is in your glass before having it refilled. Water is oftentimes wasted by the excess that is leftover from each glass. Now multiply that by the number of people who eat out, and that’s a lot of water that could be saved! The same also holds true for the water you drink at work–make sure that if you do have any excess water leftover from your water bottle or glass that you don’t intend to drink, you use it to water any plants that might be in the office.

5. Write ‘Don’t clean me’ in the dust covering your car. Enduring a drought is no laughing matter, but the simple act of writing “Don’t clean me” on your car can provide a good opportunity to spark a conversation with someone about the different and sometimes easy ways, we can all save water. Take washing your car for example. This International Carwash Association (ICA) says that using a garden hose, home washers use more than 60 gallons (227 L) in as little as five minutes and toxic wastewater containing things like motor oil and ammonia usually ends up going untreated down the storm drains, too.

For tons of other tips, check out these blog posts that cover everything from rain barrels to aquaponics and much more!

Learn more and take action on One Small Act – our digital platform where you can earn points for living lighter on the planet and connect with others doing the same!


The Ultimate Guide to Eco-Travel and Green Vacations

Love of travel and love of the environment do not need to be mutually exclusive. Enter eco-vacations! You can absolutely enjoy yourself without a tinge of green guilt with some thoughtful planning. Whether you’re headed halfway around the world or just camping around the corner, bookmark this page as your ultimate guide to eco-travel and green vacations.

Happy family travel boat ( Guilin of Thailand )

Here are five tips from our free “One Small Act” social gaming platform that has hundreds of ways to green your life.

1. Look for the Green Globe Certified stamp of approval to ensure you are staying at an establishment that takes sustainability seriously. And to make life easier, Green Globe has an easy to use hotel search to help you find certified hotels in locales all around the world–hello Barbados! Oh, and there’s an app too!

2. Eat local and sustainable while you’re traveling. Seek out and make reservations at sustainable restaurants before you leave home. Certain organizations, including the Green Restaurant Association, the Sustainable Restaurant Association, and the Eat Well Guide, make this easy on eaters. Certification criteria varies but most reputable organizations consider water efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, sustainable furnishings and building materials, sustainable food, energy, disposables, and chemical-pollution reduction. If your hotel room has a fridge or a mini kitchen, stock up at local farmers’ markets for breakfast and snacks.

3. Choose a train over a plane for a short trip. Air travel is now the fastest growing contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Not flying or avoiding a flight when there is an alternative is one of the biggest single steps that any individual can take to limit their impact on the environment.

4. Take public transportation when traveling. If you have a choice when traveling, choose a hotel near public transportation. Familiarize yourself with the schedules by securing route maps online before you go.

5. Find an eco-vacation destination. Supporting sustainable tourism helps the countries you visit ensure they are protecting their natural resources and preserving cultural heritage. Visit the International Ecotourism Society website to start planning your trip.


For tons of other tips, check out these blog posts that cover everything from family road trips to cruises, camping and more!

Learn more and take action on One Small Act – our digital platform where you can earn points for living lighter on the planet and connect with others doing the same!


Eating Local & Seasonal Foods is Easier Than You Think!

Fresh market fruits and vegetables

Take advantage of the season’s bounty! Shopping locally and seasonally are two great ways to lessen your impact on the environment and support your local community.

By eating locally grown produce, you reduce the transportation related impact of your food choices. You’re also supporting local farms, and getting tasty food that was harvested and transported closer to peak ripeness. Plus, the nutritional content is also likely to be higher.

It’s getting easier to find local produce at your grocery store, too, and not only at natural food markets. Many post signs announcing if a lettuce is locally grown or not, with details on where it was grown. FYI: there is no standard distance for local. Many “locavores” eat a 100 mile diet, or go up to 150 or 200 miles. Others use the “one day drive” rule—less than 400 miles. Do what works for you!

Eating local doesn’t have to be an all or nothing endeavor. Being practically, not perfectly, green means buying whatever amount of local food makes sense for you and your family. If you have a favorite non-local recipe and want to keep it in your repertoire—by all means!

Eating local and seasonal foods is easier than you think and here are tons of tips to get you started (or keep you going)!

Our friends at Sustainable America have a bunch of great advice, too:

Ready to live la vida locavore? Learn more and take action on One Small Act – our digital platform where you can earn points for living lighter on the planet and connect with others doing the same!


How to Keep On Supporting the #NoFoodWasted Movement


Thanks to everyone who participated in our Earth Week #NoFoodWasted campaign (and everyone who’s interested in the issue now)! It’s a big issue, but we believe that together we can turn things around – especially when there are so many resources to help all of us take easy steps at home and in our communities. Below, you’ll find some great blog posts about reducing food waste – and even though many of the titles sound the same, you should totally read each one. Each of these bloggers has unique experiences and advice to share. Also, after the list of tips from bloggers, you’ll find links to food waste fighters that could use your support. Bookmark this page because you’re going to want to refer to it regularly on your #NoFoodWasted journey!

Advice from awesome bloggers:

Resources for your on-going food waste fight:


Have any food waste reduction resources you’d like to share? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!



Comcast Cares Day

NBCUniversal employees, family members, friends, and community partners volunteered for this year’s 14th annual Comcast Cares Day at more than 750 projects nationwide and in more than a dozen countries. Projects took place from April 18 through April 30.

In New York, more than 200 volunteers gathered at Morningside Park. Together, we revitalized 17 acres with mulching, weeding, and planting. Additionally, our team painted a handball court and 800 feet of fence. Today in New York anchor Michael Gargiulo and meteorologist Chris Cimino were among those who joined in the fun, sporting Green Comcast Cares Day t-shirts and getting in the dirt.

Comcast Cares Day began in 2001 with 6,100 volunteers improving 110 project sites, and is a celebration of our company’s year-round commitment to service—a tradition that has grown into the largest single-day corporate volunteer event in the country.













3 Easy #NoFoodWasted Recipes

For Earth Week, NBC New York shows us three easy #NoFoodWasted recipes that you can make in minutes. Watch and enjoy!


#NoFoodWasted: This Earth Week, Help Reduce Food Waste!

Forty percent of food in the United States ends up in landfills. And a family of four spends more than $2,000 a year on food they never eat.

This Earth Week, Green is Universal is raising awareness about food waste, and we’d love your help! Here’s how you can get involved:

Watch and share our #NoFoodWasted video…

…and infographic.



Post your #NoFoodWasted photos on Instagram—and see them here, on, and many NBCUniversal sites.

Participate in our Earth Week Twitter Party! (Be sure to follow @GreenIsUni!)


Tune in to Just Eat It, A Food Waste Story, on April 22, at 10 p.m. on msnbc.

Sample a #NoFoodWasted item from a food truck near you. Learn more here.

Together, our small actions make a big difference. Happy Earth Week!


#NoFoodWasted Twitter Party: April 20, 9 PM ET


Did you know the average person wastes 244 pounds of food each year? That’s roughly the same weight as a refrigerator! Join us this Earth Week as we raise our collective voices to increase awareness about this issue and encourage people to take action to reduce food waste. We’re kicking off the week with a Twitter Party on Monday, April 20, at 9 pm ET. We hope you’ll join us!

Follow the hashtag #NoFoodWasted to learn more about the issue and how to reduce food waste – and share your food waste photos all week on Twitter and Instagram!

Check out the amazing group of panelists we’ll have at the party!

Food Waste Fighters:

And an awesome group of eco-bloggers:






























And the list is still growing! This is going to be a super-fun and educational event, so we hope you’ll join us!

WHEN: Monday, April 20, at 9 pm ET

WHERE: Anyone can join in by following the hashtag #NoFoodWasted on Twitter or on one of these platforms made specially for joining and chatting in a Twitter Party: TweetChat or Twubs.

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