Common Items You Should NEVER Throw in the Trash

In honor of RecycleMania, here is a list of common household/office items that should never go into the trash and what you can do with them instead:

  1. Batteries.  No, just no.  Batteries are full of hazardous chemicals that are extremely damaging to water supplies and pose serious health and environmental risks.  Our lovely Facilities team will collect any used batteries from your office and dispose of them properly.  Got lots of batteries at home?  Check with your local Home Depot or Best Buy for free drop-off.
  2. Light bulbs.  Sorry folks, light bulbs can’t go into the recycling bin.  Fluorescent bulbs, including CFLs, contain toxic chemicals and need to be disposed of properly.  For details on where you can safely dispose CFLs in your area, check out  When in doubt, always check the packaging for disposal information.
  3. Unused or expired prescription drugs.  You might be tempted to toss your meds down the drain or in the trash.  BAD IDEA.  Contact your local police department for drug take-back events.
  4. Brita water filters.  Water filters are an awesome way to reduce the amount of bottled water consumed, but what do you do with the filters when they’re all used up?  Preserve Products will recycle those old filters into toothbrushes, razors, and other household items.  You can either mail in your filters or drop them off at one of their collection points.
  5. Cosmetics.  Did you know that your conventional cosmetics contain chemicals that are not removed by water treatment?  Also, the containers can’t be recycled, but there’s good news!  Bring your containers to any Origins, Aveda, M.A.C., or Kiehl’s and they will be disposed of properly.
  6. For safe disposal of other hazardous household items, check out the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s website.

Curious about what can be recycled on campus?  Check out the Green Team recycling guidelines!

Source: 19 Things You Should Never, Ever Throw In the Trash!!

MCLA’s 2015 Green Living Seminar Series: Issues in Climate Change

Every semester, our friends in the North host a Green Living Seminar Series focusing on different aspects of environmentalism and sustainability.  This spring’s theme is Issues in Climate Change and features local leaders in the field. Tonight’s seminar is “Clean Energy Policy in the Commonwealth” with State Senator Ben Downing.  Please click here for more information on this and other Green Living events.


The Green Living Seminars are held every Thursday evening at 5:30 pm in Murdock Hall, room 218 on the MCLA campus.    These events are FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.  Podcasts are available after the event.

Small Things

“Not all of us can do great things.  But we can do small things with great love.” 

Mother Teresa

‘Tis the season of love, so I thought it would be a nice time to reflect on the small things we can do to live more sustainably.  Many people get frustrated when they can’t make huge changes, like buying an electric car or going off the grid, but the little acts are important.   The little acts, performed with great love, can create a paradigm shift that opens up more opportunities for sustainable living and a cleaner, greener future.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Recycle! Now is a great time to start recycling as we are in the middle of Recycle Mania!
  • Compost!  Did you know that almost everything from the cafeteria is compostable?  The only things that can’t go into the compost bins are glass, plastic, and metal.
  • Turn off your computer monitor when you leave your office This simple act can save a lot of money and energy.
  • Go vegetarian or vegan!  Factory farming is a major contributor to climate change and produces massive amounts of pollution.  Giving up or reducing your animal product intake is a compassionate choice that’s also good for your health!  Choose veg!
  • Divest from fossil fuels!  Did you know that this week is Global Divestment Week?  If you have a retirement account or investments, you can choose where your money goes!  This small act sends a powerful message to the fossil fuel companies. 
  • SUBSCRIBE TO THE BCC GREEN TEAM BLOG!  Sign up with your email to get updates on campus green events, local volunteer opportunities, and eco-friendly tips. 

Recyclemania is Back!

recyclemania_itsbackRecycleMania 2015 starts this week (and will end on March 28th).  Last year BCC finished 24th out of 259 colleges and universities, with a 54.7% recycling rate. We beat – no, CRUSHED, schools like Harvard and MIT.

We’re going to have a hard time topping that this year, but we’d like to try – by getting to a 60% recycling rate for starters.  For a refresher on rules of the competition, and on what you can and cannot recycle and compost, see the brief FAQ (and links) below.

Here’s to another great competition!


Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I bring recyclables from home?

No – I can’t believe you even asked that!  That’s cheating (plus I don’t think Dave, Tammy, and the custodial staff would appreciate it).

Can I clean out my office?

Yes!  It is within RecycleMania rules to clean out your office, throw away old papers, etc., during the contest, as long as it is something you would normally do anyway (and hey, um, aren’t we going to be doing a lot of office cleaning in the next couple of months?). If you clean out old files between now and March 28th that will count toward our total.

What can I recycle?

Please see the Green Team’s Recycling page for all kinds of information on what you can recycle on campus:

How can I find out more about RecycleMania or follow results over the next ten weeks?

The competition runs from now until the end of March.  Go to the RecycleMania website at

What can I do to help?

Aside from doing your best to recycle, you can encourage students to do the same.  For example, please remind students to throw bottles and paper in the recycling bins outside the classrooms (rather than the small trash cans inside the classrooms, if there is one).  For those students who find it difficult to hold on to their Vitamin Water bottle for an extra ten feet, public shaming is encouraged.

The contest also measures how much we reduce waste – so it is helpful if you can find ways to reduce paper forms, paper handouts in classes, and so on.  (And: the college is saving several thousand dollars a year because we’ve reduced the number of trash pickups).

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to contact Chris Laney at 236-4631, or


Welcome Back!


It might be cold and snowy, but the weather can’t stop the Green Team!  We are looking forward to keeping the green momentum going this semester with our annual Green Up Day, Recycle Mania, and our continuing efforts toward a zero-waste campus.  We are kicking off this Spring 2015 semester with our first meeting on Friday, February 13th at 1:30pm.  We’ll be the cool kids in G-10.

Stay tuned for more information in the coming months!  Enjoy the rest of winter!

Image Courtesy of R. Broch

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY: Service Learning Club’s Neighborhood Revitalization

Please join the BCC Service Learning Club this Saturday for a neighborhood revitalization day with Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity.  The two-part project will include landscaping and building a wheelchair ramp.  Please email for details and to sign up. 

What: Habitat for Humanity’s Neighborhood Revitalization Day

When: Saturday, 11/8/14 from 8am to 2pm

Where: 35 New Hampshire Ave, Pittsfield

Wear (see what I did there?): Closed-toe shoes or boots, clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, dress for the weather

Perks: FREE LUNCH, community spirit, joy, happiness

Please click here for additional information. 


Community Shredding Event, THIS Saturday, 11/1 from 9am-12pm

If you have boxes or drawers full of old paperwork and are looking for a place to dispose of them properly, come on down to BCC this Saturday from 9am to 12pm for a FREE community shredding event with Valley Green Shredding.  Drive up to the visitor’s lot on the BCC campus and your documents will be safely and confidentially shredded.  There’s even a screen to watch your stuff go through the shredder!  Very exciting stuff!  Tell your friends!

If you are cleaning out your BCC office and would like your stuff to be shredded, please email Charlie Kaminski.  There will be Green Team volunteers collecting boxes from the academic buildings on Saturday.  Please have your materials ready to go by Friday afternoon.

Please remove any 3-ring binders and batteries from your items to be shredded.  Spiral-bound notebooks, file folders, paperclips, and staples are okay.

While the event is free and open to the public, we are asking for a voluntary donation of a non-perishable food item to benefit the Berkshire Dream Center.

For all of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fans out there, you’re welcome.


Save the Date! Community Shredding Event, 11/1

Please join BCC Green Team for a Community Shredding event on Saturday, November 1st.  Held on the BCC campus from 9am to 12pm, we are offering free shredding to the Berkshire County community.  This event is an excellent opportunity to clear out your old private documents.  The shredding is free, but we are asking for non-perishable food donations in lieu of money.   Please bring your documents ready to shred.  More details to follow.

Today is National Coffee Day!

indexYou may be asking yourself, why is NATIONAL COFFEE DAY a Green Team post?  Here’s why: coffee production has a huge impact on the environment.  The four biggest areas of environmental concern are biodiversity and conservation of forest ecosystems, agricultural chemical use, water pollution from processing, and soil quality.  Traditionally, coffee is grown in the shade of a forest canopy where it provides shelter for wildlife, prevents erosion, and does not require chemical fertilizers.  Sadly, most of the coffee produced and consumed today is grown on plantations in the full sun where they require the addition of chemical fertilizers.  In order to create these monoculture plantations, millions of acres of forest have to be cleared away.  For more detailed information, please see articles posted at the end of this post.

cup_of_coffee_from_above_188319The simplest action you can take to green your coffee is to choose green coffee!  Although coffee beans are actually green prior to roasting, here we are referring to sustainably- and ethically-grown coffee.  Next time you are grocery shopping, take a minute to read the labels and ask questions.  If you are more of a coffee shop consumer, ask if they have (or have considered purchasing) alternatives to commercially-grown coffee.  There are many brands available that are shade-grown, organic, and fair trade certified.  These coffees do tend to be a little more expensive than your standard cup o’ joe, but looking at the big picture, it’s definitely worth it.  By choosing sustainable coffee over commercial coffee, you are sending a powerful message as a consumer.  And don’t forget to use your reusable mug!

Helpful Articles:

Coffee, Conservation, and Commerce in the Western Hemisphere, Natural Resources Defense Council.

How Green Is Your Coffee, The Guardian.

Taste Test: Green Beans, Sierra Club.

Environmental Impact of Agriculture, Human Geography: People and  the Environment


Household Hazardous Waste Collection for Pittsfield Residents — THIS SATURDAY

Many thanks to the Center for EcoTechnology (CET) for organizing this important hazardous waste collection!

Household Hazardous Waste Disposal for Pittsfield Residents Only!

Sat, September 13, 2014
9:00 am – 1:00 pm

Pittsfield Highway Facility
232 Housatonic St – Pittsfield

Examples of acceptable materials:

From The Yard/Garden:

  • Pesticides, Fungicides
  • Herbicides
  • Insect Sprays
  • Rodent Killers
  • Muriatic Acid
  • Flea Powder
  • No-Pest Strips
  • Chemical Fertilizers
  • Lighter Fluid
  • Moth Balls

From The Workbench:

  • Rust Proofers
  • Wood Preservatives
  • Wood Strippers & Stains
  • Paint Thinners
  • Lead & Oil-Based Paint
  • Varnish
  • Full Aerosol Cans
  • Sealants
  • Adhesives
  • Solvents
  • Spray Paint

From The House:

  • Drain Cleaners
  • Oven Cleaners
  • Floor Cleaners
  • Metal Polish
  • Arts & Crafts Supplies
  • Photo Chemicals
  • Chemistry Kits
  • Rechargeable Batteries

From The Garage:

  • Fuels/Gasoline/Kerosene
  • Brake & Transmission Fluids
  • Car Wax, Polish
  • Engine Degreaser
  • Swimming Pool Chemicals
  • Driveway Sealer
  • Antifreeze
  • Car-Lead Acid Batteries

Mercury Products:

  • Thermometers
  • Thermostats
  • Other mercury
  • Button Batteries


Latex Paint, Medical Wastes, Asbestos, Fireworks & Explosives, Ammunition, Construction Debris, Gas or Propane Cylinders, Smoke Detectors, Radioactive Material, Fire Extinguishers, PCB’s, Medications, motor oil

Fluorescent Lamps-Can be brought to Covanta on Hubbard ave. and the first 4, 4 foot lamps are free and it is $2 per lamp after that. Latex paint will not be accepted. Usable paint can be given away through or some non-profits. Empty or dried-up cans of latex can be recycled with scrap metal. Or empty latex/oil-based paints/stains can be disposed with the regular trash.

Contact Jamie at 445-4556, ext. 14 or for more information.