Recycle or Trash? Proper Waste Disposal of Tricky Items

While proper waste disposal has always been important, the stakes (and sheer number of receptacle colors to memorize) seem higher than ever. These days, the threat of inadvertently harming the planet along with the growing number of items we’re just not sure what to do with has turned the weekly curbside drop-off into an onerous — not to mention odorous — guessing game.

Not to fear: We’re happy to take the hesitation out of your tree-huggin’. Join the groundswell to reduce our ground’s swell by responsibly ridding yourself of these commonly mishandled items.

Cooking oil

Recycle or trash? Either.

Environmental impact: There are a couple of ways to dispose of used cooking oil, but pouring it down the drain is really (really!) not one of them. Oil wreaks havoc on city sewers and just a small amount of grease from several dwellings is enough to lead to blockages.

How to recycle it: Many cities have designated recycling centers for cooking oil. Instead of clogging sewers below the streets, your grease can become biofuel to power trains and buses atop them.

How to toss it: You can throw away used cooking oil (though as with most items, recycling is preferred whenever possible). Once you’re done deep-frying, let your oil cool and place in the garbage in a nonrecyclable container.

Option you hadn’t thought of: Strain and store the oil and then reuse it next time you cook (smell to make sure it hasn’t gone rancid first).  

Wine corks

Recycle or trash? Recycle (or compost, depending on type).

Environmental impact: Neither real nor plastic corks belong in the trash. There are roughly 13 billion wine corks sold in the U.S. annually (and that’s just the natural kind), an astonishing heap of dregs our landfills can do without.

How to recycle it: Real cork is 100 percent natural and can be composted. Another option for real corks is using national recycling programs such as ReCork or Cork ReHarvest, which repurpose them as shoes, lamp shades, and watch bands (just to name a few options). Plastic cork, on the other hand, can be recycled with your other plastics.

Option you hadn’t thought of: Bath mats … kitchen backsplash … 3-D artwork … let your imagination run wild! (Or just get twist-off vino. Who’re you trying to impress anyway?)

Frozen food boxes

Recycle or trash? Depends.

Environmental impact: Surprisingly, that frozen pizza box or ice cream tub might not belong in recycling. Freezer containers have a special polyethylene coating to keep out moisture, and this synthetic layer can contaminate an entire recycling batch. Some cities, however, do now allow for frozen food boxes, so check with your local government before the next pick up.

How to recycle it: If your area allows it, group with other paper recyclables.

Option you hadn’t thought of: Packages for T.V.-dinner-shaped holiday gifts, bookmark strips, or drink coasters.


Recycle or trash? Recycle.

Environmental impact: As beds get comfier, they become harder to throw away — and not just because you’re in hibernating bliss and refuse to get up. The resiliency of memory foam and box springs makes them incredibly difficult to compress in landfills, with each taking up to 40 cubic feet!

How to recycle it: To spare you the rigors of deconstructing your mattress or box spring and separating the recyclables on your own (unless maddening labor is your thing), look for a nearby mattress recycling center.

Option you hadn’t thought of: Donate in your community (or give your dog the napping upgrade of its sweet life).


Recycle or trash? Um, it’s complicated.

Environmental impact: Batteries aren’t quite the ecological enemies they were in days past. The single-use shells you put in your remote are now free of harmful, heavy metals and can safely go in the trash. Can, but not necessarily should. Even without mercury and other toxins, batteries aren’t exactly on par with apple cores as far as Earth-friendliness. Only throw away in small quantities and only if toxin-free. But please do note: In California, it’s illegal to throw away batteries — they must be recycled.

How to recycle it: If your area doesn’t offer collection options, consider a mail-in service like this one through Battery Solutions.

How to toss it: Cover ends in masking tape and group multiple batteries in one bag.  

Option you hadn’t thought of: Rechargeable batteries. Ok, you’ve probably thought of that, but short of powering your remote devices via hand crank (and you thought shaving was a nuisance before), there’s no better solution.

Trash or treasure? Coverage for your (sometimes surprising) valuables

Trash versus recycling isn’t the only decision you can make with your supposed junk — you might consider not ditching it at all.

From old vinyl to costume jewelry, hidden valuables could be scattered throughout your home just waiting to be discovered. If you want to make sure you’re not mistakenly dropping serious dough at the curb, take a thorough home inventory.

And when it comes to protecting your valuables (dazzling or dust-covered), Esurance has your back. No matter what type of dwelling you call home, we’ll help you keep your stuff safe from theft, fire, and other risks. Start a free condo or homeowners insurance quote today.

Anf if you’re not done geeking out on renewable energy, find out how close are we to having a garbage-fueled car.

Can Cars Help Prevent Distracted Driving?

We’ve talked about distracted driving many times on this blog and with good reason: the risk of a crash is 23 times greater if a driver is distracted. And, as cars get increasingly connected, the amount and types of distractions behind the wheel may only increase. But some car manufacturers are building in new technologies to help drivers stay attentive.

New cars from General Motors will detect distracted driving

Sensing technology is the key to many up-and-coming automotive features. In self-driving cars, for example, sensors and cameras help track the positions of other vehicles, pedestrians, and road hazards.

According to, General Motors plans to turn this technology inward. As many as 500,000 new GM vehicles may feature head- and eye-tracking systems that can tell if a driver is distracted. Seeing Machines, an Australian company that makes devices that help detect driver fatigue, is partnering with Takata (a safety-product maker) to create these systems for GM. Using cameras that can identify facial features and head rotation, the devices are able to determine exactly where the driver is looking at a given moment. The driver will get an alert if they aren’t paying enough attention to the road.

Seeing Machine’s CEO Ken Kroger says the face mapping could also help prevent auto theft by confirming the driver’s identity.

News of these devices has already raised concerns about how the driver data will be used and stored. At the moment, the devices aren’t set up to keep or share the information.

Early-warning systems help prevent drowsy driving

When we think of inattentive driving, we tend to blame things like texting or breaking up fights between siblings. But many accidents are caused by plain old fatigue.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 1,550 deaths and 40,000 injuries are the result of drowsy driving each year.

Auto manufacturers have already started installing in-car systems that can help detect sleepiness. Some Lexus models, for example, have a Driver Fatigue Monitor system that uses a camera to watch for drooping eyelids. And Mercedes-Benz offers Attention Assist, which measures 70 different variables to generate a driver profile and then watches for deviations (such as erratic speed or abrupt steering-wheel adjustments). If a driver appears tired, they’ll be prompted to take a break.

And, if researchers from Spain’s Instituo de Biomecánica de Valencia have their way, your seat belt may soon be able to gauge your alertness by tracking your vital signs. The HARKEN project uses smart textiles embedded with sensors that can monitor heart rate and breathing, both of which change when a driver becomes fatigued. An alarm goes off if the driver seems to be getting drowsy.

Avoiding distracted driving

We’re big fans of technology at Esurance, so we appreciate that manufacturers are spending time and energy finding solutions for driver distraction and fatigue. But, ultimately, it’s up to the driver. The best remedy for these dangers is to avoid texting or making phone calls behind the wheel and to get enough sleep (at least 6 hours the night before). On long trips, take a break every 2 hours or if you feel drowsy. And whenever possible, travel with a friend or coworker who can navigate, take phone calls, and help keep you alert.

If you’re an Esurance policyholder with a teenage driver, our Esurance DriveSafe® program can keep your teen from texting and driving. Plus, it provides information about their driving so you can coach them to have safer habits. Enroll today.*

*Subject to car and device eligibility.  Terms, conditions, and exclusions apply.

Related links

Distracted driving – it’s worse than you thought

OBD-II: What it is and why it matters

Esurance Homeowners Insurance Lands in Michigan

You know you’re a Michigander when:

  • You can point to a spot on your hand and call it home
  • You can say “Yooper” with a straight face
  • You actually understand the rules of Euchre

As a University of Michigan grad (GO BLUE!), I’ll always have a soft spot for the Wolverine State. Though it’s seen its share of hard times in recent years — you may have heard stories about houses selling for $1.00 in Detroit — there’s a lot more to Michigan than meets the eye. Gorgeous scenery. Renowned universities. Affordable housing (the median home price in Michigan is $120,300). And now, Michigan homeowners insurance from Esurance to boot!

Let’s take a look at what Esurance has in store for Michigan homeowners.

Benefits of an Esurance homeowners insurance policy

No one-size-fits-all mitten here. Esurance provides a range of coverage limits to help you get the protection you need.

Esurance homeowners insurance provides protection (up to the limits you purchase) for things like:

  • Your home, your belongings, and even other structures (like gazebos) on your property
  • Additional living expenses (if you’re forced out of your home due to a covered loss)
  • Injuries to your guests

Discounts on Michigan home insurance

So you may be thinking, “All that protection is great, but show me the savings!” And we can deliver on those too. Here are just a few of the discounts that could help Michiganders save.

Welcome Home discount

Think of this discount as our way of saying “welcome to the Esurance family.” Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or simply switching from another company, we’ll apply this discount to your first 2 policy terms.

Home Safety Features discount

Safety features like smoke detectors, deadbolts, and fire sprinklers are sound investments on their own. But having them could also earn you a discount on your homeowners insurance … a pretty sweet bonus indeed.

Hail Resistant Roof discount

If you’re a Michigander, you know cold. In fact, you know freezing. But if you’ve invested in a hail-resistant roof, you’ll be rewarded for reducing your risk of damage.

Multi-Policy discount

Looking to bundle your home and auto policies? We’ll give you a discount for it!

Esurance around the country

Not a Michigander? Not a problem! Esurance homeowners insurance is also available in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin — with more states on the way!

Renters are in luck too. You can add renters insurance to your Esurance auto insurance in Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. (By the way, our car insurance is available in 43 states, so there’s a good chance we’re in yours.)

And bikers, we haven’t forgotten you! Esurance motorcycle insurance is available in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. And we’ll be motorin’ into more states in the future.

Roads to the Future: Smart Highways and Connected Cars

Nearly everything we come in contact with these days is on the verge of “getting smart.”  And somewhat amazingly, bridges and highways are no exception. From roads that communicate with vehicles and drivers to cars that talk to each other, new technologies are about to change transportation in a big way.

(Related: take this myth-busting quiz to see if you’re up to speed on data and smart cars.)

Vehicle-to-vehicle technology is on the way

If the car ahead of you could tell your car what was around the bend, it’d probably mean a lot fewer accidents. Thanks to vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology, which lets cars wirelessly share data such as speed and position, this may soon be a reality.  Many cars are already equipped with Wi-Fi, GPS, and onboard diagnostics as well as safety features like autonomous braking. V2V technology could be combined with those features to make our cars even safer.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been testing V2V technology for the last 2 years and is now working on creating a universal standard that ensures all light vehicles can communicate with each other. Regulators are proposing making mandatory V2V technology in new vehicles by 2017. But some hurdles still need to be cleared, such as finding a wireless frequency that won’t get overloaded.

In the meantime, automakers and mobile companies are bringing their own connected-car solutions to the market — but so far, they’re more about connecting to the web rather than to each other.

Connected cars are already here

BMW is on the top of the emerging connected-car market, according to a study by Machina Research. BMW’s ConnectedDrive service lets you surf the internet, check email, and stream music, and offers a variety of automated driver assistance features (like a lane change warning that tells you if there’s a vehicle in your blind spot). The 2014 BMW i models also feature a Range Assistant that estimates vehicle range and can offer route suggestions or direct the driver to a charging station.

GM and Audi are both adding 4G LTE wireless connectivity to their 2015 vehicle lines, allowing drivers to connect to the internet and use a variety of custom-built web apps.

And Apple, Android™, and Microsoft have all announced new operating systems that’ll allow users to access their smartphone via their car dashboard.

But these systems are designed mostly for “infotainment” rather than preventing accidents. And while most of their apps and features can be activated by voice, this doesn’t necessarily mean safer driving (in fact, it can actually increase the level of distraction).

Smart roads are gaining speed

On the highways of the future, cars will talk to the road as well as each other. Wireless networking devices along the roadside could monitor traffic congestion and help smooth traffic by directing cars onto alternate routes or varying the speed limit. Signage reporting delays, road conditions, or construction could be updated in real time. Vehicles could instantly send data about potholes and hazards to local transportation agencies.

These and other technologies are being studied on the Virginia Smart Road, a 2.2-mile test track managed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. The Institute’s director believes that connected infrastructure could be readily available within 5 to 10 years.

Additionally, the UK has gotten a head start on smart roads. Along a 50-mile stretch of the busy A14 highway between Felixstowe and Birmingham, sensors are being set up that can monitor traffic by connecting to cell phones in moving cars (and eventually to the cars themselves).

Solar roads show some potential

If you saw the video “Solar FREAKIN’ Roadways” that went viral a few months ago, you might already know about the Solar Roadways project under development in Sandpoint, Idaho. The plan involves a modular system of hexagonal solar panels that can support 250,000 pounds of weight. The panels contain heating strips to melt snow and ice and LED lights to create customized line patterns or signage. A top layer of bulletproof glass provides protection and sufficient traction to stop a car going 80 mph.

According to Julie and Scott Brusaw, the project’s creators, if the nation’s 20,000 square miles of paved roadways were replaced by solar panels, it would generate 3 times the electricity we currently use. Electric vehicles could potentially be charged while they’re driving. And power lines and fiber-optic cables could be placed in a corridor next to the roads, instead of hanging above.

Solar Roadways has enough promise that it’s gotten research funding from the Federal Highway Administration and raised over $2 million on Indiegogo. Critics say the panels won’t be durable enough and the cost of installing them across the country will be prohibitive. But the Brusaws plan to start small, with local roads and sidewalks. In fact, they’ve already completed a prototype parking lot.

The future of roadways

As fans of technology and innovation, we’re very inspired by the possibilities of connected vehicles and intelligent highways. While legitimate concerns about privacy and hackers do exist, we’ve come a long way towards safer, more efficient transportation.

And speaking of, check out this recent report on smart cars and data (and what you should know about both).

Families, Foodies, and Football Fans Rejoice: Esurance Homeowners Insurance Is Now in Nebraska

We’ve just launched our homeowners insurance in Nebraska— and we’re feeling really good about it. Maybe it’s because Lincoln, Nebraska is the number one city in the nation for overall well-being, according to a recent Gallup poll.

Or, maybe it’s because Omaha has the third-highest rate of home ownership in the country. (With a median home price of $157,500, no wonder!)

Either way, there’s plenty to love about living in the Cornhusker State. It has the second-lowest unemployment rate in the country, and ranked it as the fourth-best state for business in 2014.

Parents will like knowing that ranked Omaha the fourth-best city in the nation to raise a family. Gourmets should be aware that Omaha is among’s top 10 foodie cities for 2014. And placed Omaha on its 2014 list of the 25 greenest cities in America, with plenty of parks and nearly 1 out of 5 residents taking bikes, public transit, or walking to work. also lauded Nebraska’s second-largest city, Lincoln, for its historic, newly revitalized downtown. And no one has better college football fans: Memorial Stadium, home of the Cornhuskers, has sold out every home game in the last 52 years. When a state is nicknamed after a college football team, you know it’s serious.

If city life isn’t your thing, Nebraska’s small towns also get high praise. Papillon made’s 2012 list of the top Top 10 small towns in the U.S., thanks to its widespread trail system, numerous entertainment venues, and famed Papillion Days festival.

Sounds like Nebraska’s a pretty great place to call home.

And when it comes to protecting that home, there are 2 other things you should know.

2 great reasons to get homeowners insurance in Nebraska

1. Nebraska’s property crime rate is only slightly below the national average

According to FBI crime statistics, the rate of property crimes is only slightly lower in Nebraska than the rest of the nation. Sure, lower’s good … but not “go ahead and leave the key under the mat” good. (Actually, no state is that safe.)

Fortunately, our standard homeowners policy includes personal property insurance, which covers your belongings in case of theft, fire, or vandalism.

2. Nebraska ranks fifth in the country for tornadoes

Though the Cornhusker State is only fourteenth in the nation for natural disasters, when trouble does strike, there’s a good chance it’s a twister.

Luckily, a homeowners insurance policy from Esurance also includes dwelling protection, which helps pay to repair your home if it’s damaged by windstorms, hail, lightning, and other catastrophes.

Other standard coverages include:

Guest medical protection, which helps foot the bills if someone is injured on your property.

Family liability protection, could help cover medical and liability costs if you or someone on your policy accidentally injures someone or damages a neighbor’s property.

Additional living expenses coverage, which helps pay to relocate you and cover your day-to-day costs if your home needs extensive repairs.

Homeowners coverage and rates can vary widely depending on your home’s value, location, and many other factors. But don’t worry — we can help tailor your policy to your needs. Get a fast, free quote today.

And if you already have Esurance car insurance, find out how much you can save by bundling your policies.

Esurance across the country

Nebraska is just the latest state where we offer homeowners coverage.

We’re also in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Our motorcycle insurance now stretches from the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans. You’ll find us in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

And Esurance car insurance is now available in 43 states!

We’ve got even more rollouts ahead, so look for us in your home state soon.