Keeping beverage cans out of landfills


Each year beverage cans (otherwise known as aluminum cans) are produced by the millions worldwide. Canning beverages began in the 1930’s after the success with canning food. Like canned foods, beverage cans are also lined with a plastic liner to help ensure the longevity of the product. Beverage cans are easy to transport and they are cheap. Various sizes for beverage cans are used throughout the world. For example, the standard size in the United States is 12 US FL oz. Beverage cans in the United States are made of aluminum while in Europe and Asia they are made of both aluminum and steel. Now that we have covered the basics of beverage cans, what else is important to know about them?

Beverage cans are one of the most cost effective materials to recycle. For example, producing new metals requires a lot of electricity.  Recycling on the other hand is cheaper and more environmentally friendly because you are using less electricity due to the fact you aren’t using new material. So how can you recycle your cans? Start by collecting your beverage cans in a container or bag. Some people use can crushers so as to make more space. It is also helpful to rinse out your beverage can before collecting it. There are many collection sites that will take your cans. Some places will even pay you for the cans you bring in. The cans you bring in will most likely be remade into new beverage cans. Or you can reuse your beverage cans for decorations, crafts or art projects at home. So the next time you buy an aluminum can, consider what you can do with it and how you can keep it out of the landfill.

For more information on recycling, please visit


Everyday tips for going green


Are you interested in going green, but do not want to make huge changes in your life? Here are a few simple everyday tips to help you reduce your carbon footprint and support a healthier environment.

  • Go vegetarian once a week. Producing meat requires a lot of resources, including water and fuel, so eating one less meat- based meal a week can help reduce the meat industry’s carbon footprint and your own.
  • Use one less paper napkin. Most people have the tendency to grab several paper napkins from the dispenser, however the more napkins pulled, the more that go into the landfill and the more trees wasted.
  • Recycle your newspaper or read newspaper articles online. You will be saving trees and preventing more waste from going into the landfill.
  • Brush your teeth without letting the water run. You might be surprised how much water you will save.
  • Take a shorter shower. The longer the shower, the more water wasted. Or consider changing your shower head to a low flow shower head to save water.
  • Plant a tree. Trees benefit the environment because they filter water and recycle oxygen into the air. So help out the environment and plant a tree.
  • Stop paper bank statements. Request to receive your bank statements online and save paper.
  • Hesitate before throwing something away—could it be reused, given as a gift, recycled? Just because you throw something away doesn’t mean it disappears forever. Limit the amount that you send to the landfill.
  • Choose matches over lighters. Lighters are made of plastic and filled with butane fuel which when thrown away are harmful to the environment. Choose cardboard matches which are usually made of recycled paper instead of wooden matches made from trees.
  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room. It is easy to forget to turn off a light at night or when you leave for work in the morning so leave reminders around the house to keep you from forgetting.

These are just a few ways to decrease your carbon footprint and go green. There is so much more that any individual can do, so do your own research or just take a look around you and discover where most of your waste comes from. Any change in action makes a difference, so start your change today! Interested in learning about more green tips? Check out our website at

Think “Reuse” and save money on back to school products!


Is your child heading back to school this year? If so, you may be bracing yourself for the high expense of school supplies. There are ways to save on school supplies though. Here are a few ideas.

Before making plans to purchase new notebooks and folders, look at the ones your child used last semester. With technology becoming so prevalent, notebooks are not used as much, however teachers still ask that their students purchase them. The same applies to folders. You may be surprised to find that your child’s notebooks and folders are still in good shape with plenty of good paper still available to use. So at the end of the semester, don’t let your child throw out their notebooks and folders without looking them over. Book covers are also becoming more prevalent. They come in many different designs and materials—but they cost money. Save and reuse paper bags, leftover wrapping paper or even a couple layers of newspapers. Pencils, pens, erasers, and markers can all most likely be reused. Most students like the idea of buying brand new items for the school year, however if they still work, save your money and ask that they reuse them.

Going back to school doesn’t need to be expensive, so pay attention to the products your children use, and be the judge as to whether or not they need new materials. Reusing school products will also be beneficial toward the environment because you aren’t buying more products like paper or plastic. Why is this important? Plastic can be found in pens, folders or even calculators that students use. In order for plastic to be made, it requires oil, and oil can have negative effects on the environment including harming the atmosphere. Paper comes from trees, and trees are necessary for the environment to thrive and be healthy. At a time when deforestation is a huge concern, it is not worth it to buy new school products when you could just reuse. Not only would this benefit your wallet but you would also be teaching your children what it means to be good stewards of their resources. So be smart and think “reuse” when it comes to school supplies.

Learn about some of the projects Gundersen Health System has implemented to save energy and money.

The Blue Wrap project


At Gundersen Health System we use blue wrap to wrap surgical instruments and trays prior to sterilization. In the past, once the surgical instruments and trays were in the OR, they were unwrapped prior to surgery and the blue wrap was thrown away. Considering that up to 22,000 pounds of blue wrap was being used each year, there was a lot of waste being produced. One of the fixes to this problem was investing in reusable hard cases for the surgical trays. However, since this was not possible for every surgical instrument, we knew that there must be a way to reuse and recycle the blue wrap.

Blue wrap is not made of cloth, it is actually polypropylene plastic (otherwise known as a # 5 plastic). Number 5 plastics can be recycled into items such as caps for bottles or medicine bottles, however we did not want to recycle all of the blue wrap, we also wanted to reuse what we could. We formed a partnership with the Coulee Region RSVP (Retired Senior and Volunteer Program), which is made up of volunteers age 55 and over. Their volunteers handcrafted the blue wrap into items such as tote bags and aprons (as pictured above), and wheel chair and walker bags that are used in the therapy department. The program started in the summer of 2011 and it is still going strong today. By reusing blue wrap we avoid purchasing items such as tote bags, which has enabled us to save money in departments throughout the health system. The most significant savings have been in the Breast Center where we have saved approximatly $4,000/ year. This money can be redirected back into patient education materials. How does the blue wrap project relate to sustainability? By reusing and recycling the blue wrap, materials are kept out of the waste stream. In addition, we developed a long-lasting partnership with a wonderful volunteer program.