Thursday, May 31, 2012

How Many Sheets of Newspaper Does it Take...

Write the Green Way with TreeSmart

Talk about creative reuse: Recycled newspaper becomes a fresh writing utensil.
TreeSmart recycled newspaper pencils Write the Green Way with TreeSmartAccording to Rainforest Relief, many of the pencils used in the U.S. are made from endangered rainforest wood from Indonesia and Malaysia. The wood is light in color and has no grain, offering a slight bend. Endangered rainforest wood is also typically used in imported pencils. Yet we are losing rainforest at an alarming rate — a pace of 1.5 acres every second.
Recycling is essential to reduce the demand for new wood, and the good news is that a company is making recycled pencils right now. TreeSmart, a company based out of Lake Oswego, OR, has developed pencils made of recycled newspaper.

The manufacturing process

  • The process begins by recycling newspapers.
  • Each sheet of newsprint is cut to the specific dimensions of the pencil.
  • Then, the safe, nontoxic adhesive is mixed with each sheet of newspaper and the graphite core.
  • The graphite is then hand rolled to start each TreeSmart pencil. After that, each is oven dried for 24 hours. A special adhesive formula used to bind the newsprint together dries as hard as wood. After drying, the pencils are smoothed to a consistent round barrel and are ready for custom imprinting if desired.
  • After the pencil core is sized, shaped and printed, it is ready for the eraser assembly. Both the ferrule (the brass tube) and a latex-free eraser are attached to the end of each pencil.
Recycling just a 2.5-foot stack of newspapers saves one 20-foot pine tree, and four recycled pencils can be made from one broad sheet of recycled newsprint, according to TreeSmart.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

For Couponers on the Move

Location-Based Coupon App Reduces Paper Waste

Photo: Yowza!!
Keeping a coupon book is frustrating. Deals have expiration dates and sorting through junk mail is tedious, and not to mention bad for the environment. Nearly 100 million trees are cut down annually to make junk mail in the U.S., according to the Bay Area Recycling Outreach Coalition.

Yowza!!, a location-based mobile coupon app, was designed to reduce mail waste and help consumers find deals

Greg Grunberg, who has starred in television series like “Heroes,” “Alias” and “Felicity,” conceived the idea behind the app after a frustrating trip to Bed Bath & Beyond. Upon reaching the cash register to check out, he realized that he left his coupon in the car. The cashier refused to give him a discount without the coupon, so he vented his frustrations on Twitter.

A string of tweets led Grunberg to get in contact with August Trometer, an app programmer, and entrepreneur (and future CEO) David Teichner.
“Our belief is our core user is a mom, and it’s mom who’s got very limited time on her hands,” Teichner said. “Because of that, if you see the app, you see it’s really simple and easy to use.”

Yowza!! includes both national chains such as McDonald’s, Big 5 Sporting Goods, and Dunkin Donuts and variety of small, local businesses.

The free location-based app displays deals within a 50-mile radius. Unlike major couponing sites like Groupon and Living Social, Yowza!!’s users don’t need to buy deals and aren’t pressured to redeem coupons before they expire. The app is simply a database of coupons available at your fingertips.

“Our belief is through our app we can, one, be a lot more effective for retailers and two, not have to kill so many trees,” Teichner said.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Grandfather Mountain

Grandfather Mountain to be Recognized for its Environmental Commitment

RALEIGH - Chief Deputy Secretary Mary Penny Thompson of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources will recognize Grandfather Mountain for its environmental commitment during a short public event on Tuesday in connection with the NC GreenTravel Initiative, a joint program with DENR; the Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development in the N.C. Department of Commerce; and the Center for Sustainable Tourism at East Carolina University.  
Immediately following the event, officials with Grandfather Mountain will lead a short tour highlighting the attraction’s environmental efforts.
Where: Grandfather Mountain, Half Moon Overlook (just below the Woods Walk Picnic Area), US 221 & Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville
When:  Tuesday, May 29; 1 p.m.
Who:  DENR Chief Deputy Secretary Mary Penny Thompson; Catherine Morton, director for Mission, Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation; Penn Dameron, executive director of Grandfather Mountain; and Pat Long, director of the Center for Sustainable Tourism.  

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day Folks.  The administrative offices of the Coastal Environmental Partnership are closed today.

The Tuscarora Landfill, Grantsboro Transfer Station and Newport Transfer Station will follow their regular schedules.

Thank you to those who serve, those who have served and their family and friends for the sacrafices you have made for our freedom.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Wait! Don’t Throw It Away!

Wait! Don’t Throw It Away!
Reduce, reuse, recycle! If your community is like most, recycling is now part of your curbside pickup service. Many towns and cities are promoting recycling to residents as a way to reduce disposal costs or stretch the resources of local landfills. As recycling rates improve, however, there is a lost art our grandparents and great-grandparents once practiced that we could stand to learn from: reuse.
In these lean economic times, it only makes sense to make the most of our resources, finding second, and sometimes third, lives for items we would have once simply discarded. As the old adage says, “Waste not, want not.”
Here’s a quick primer on how to turn trash into treasure!
Empty Tin Cans
• Wash them out thoroughly. Cut out both the top and bottom ends and use to protect young seedlings from critters.
• Paint and hang in trees to discourage birds from eating your ripening fruit.
• Punch them with designs and set candles in the middle of each. Use as lanterns to line sidewalks, steps, and gardens. (Do not cut out both ends. To punch, fill with water and freeze. Mark a pattern on the outside of each can, get a nail and a hammer, and hammer out the designs. Let the water thaw, then put tea lights in each for lanterns.)
Junk Mail
• Instead of tossing coupons, letters, and envelopes from your mail, use them as scrap paper instead. They’re really great for notes, grocery lists, or drawing paper for kids.
• Newspapers can be used as mulch to keep weeds down. You’ll need to cover them with dirt or rocks or something to keep the papers from blowing away, but they will work well to keep weeds at bay and ultimately will dissolve into the soil.
On trash days, try putting out a box filled with items that have value (but not to you) with a sign that says “FREE.” Sometimes your trash is another person’s treasure.
• Freecycle— check out This online, nonprofit community is made of local groups that enable you to list and give away (and get) stuff for free in your own area. It’s all about reusing and keeping good stuff out of landfills.
Faded Curtains and Old Shirts
•Unless they’re made from polyester, old shirts and curtains are probably compostable.
• They can be used for dust rags or cut down for something like a tarp or packing material, etc.
Brown Paper Bags
•Use paper bags for wrapping paper. Turn them inside out if there’s writing on them, add colorful ribbons or have children color on them.
• Place hot cookies on brown paper bags. This helps soak up a little of the oil from the cookies.
Egg Cartons
• Store your small pieces of jewelry in empty egg cartons.
• Take the lid off a carton and place the bottom in a drawer. It can hold and organize buttons, paper clips, small screws, and nails.
• Line the bottom part of an egg carton with small cupcake papers. You can place small homemade cookies or candies in each compartment. Wrap the whole with clear plastic. Top with a ribbon. Give as a gift.
• Use them to start seeds. If they are cardboard, the entire container can be planted when the seeds germinate.
• Use as a paint holder for children. When they are finished painting, the carton can be thrown away. (Styrofoam cartons can be washed out and reused.)
Coffee Cans
• Coffee cans are really good to have in the shop. They hold all sizes of nails and screws. The sizes of the nails can be printed on the lids with a marker. Yogurt Containers Use old yogurt containers to store leftovers in or to pack lunches.
• Cut the bottom out of a yogurt container and place it around delicate plants to protect them in the spring from chilly weather.
• Make your own herb garden: put a hole in the bottom of a container, add a large rock, soil, and seed. Empty Thread Spools String spools together and separate by knots to use as part of a gentle wind chime strand.
• They really make cute miniature dried flower holders and wonderful take-home souvenirs with children’s names on them when used for seating at a party.
Shower Curtains
• Clean and disinfect an old shower curtain by soaking it for a couple of hours in a bathtub filled with warm water and vinegar. Use it as a tablecloth for the picnic table.
• Use an old shower curtain as a drop cloth when you are painting, or as a ground sheet under your tent or sleeping bags.
• Make a windshield cover to prevent frost build-up. Cut a shower curtain to fit your windshield and hem magnets in along the edges to hold it on your vehicle.
• Use a shower curtain to make an apron for really messy jobs.
Motivating Reasons to Reduce Garbage
According to data released by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in 2001 about plastic bag, sack, and wrap consumption, somewhere between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year. While many bags are reused before being trashed, many find their way into landfills or are polluting areas around shopping centers. Once in the environment, it takes months to hundreds of years for plastic bags to break down. On average, according to 2001 statistics, each person in America generates 4.4 lbs of waste a day. According to the Dump and Run Web site (http://www.dumpandrun. org/garbage.htm)
• Americans’ total yearly waste would fill a convoy of garbage trucks long enough to wrap around the Earth six times or reach halfway to the moon. It is estimated that this year Americans will generate 222 million tons of waste.
• Since 1950, people in the United States have used more resources than any generation that lived before them. Each individual American uses up 20 tons of basic raw materials annually.
• At the consumption level of the average American, at least four additional planets worth of resources would be needed to support the planet’s six billion inhabitants.
• By comparison, the average North American consumes ten times as much as the average person living in China and thirty times as much as the average person living in India.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Shave Money Off of Your Water Bill

Stop Shaving, Save Water: How Far Can You Grow?

The average shave uses 5 gallons of water. The average beard is awesome. Your directive is clear.
Budweiser recently launched its “Grow One. Save a Million” campaign, a push to save a million gallons of water by encouraging people to abstain from shaving. Participating in the campaign is simple: Once Facebook users “like” Bud’s page, they are able to pledge to participate, submit and browse photos of beards-in-progress, see how much water has been saved to-date, and more.
We’ve highlighted many ways to save water over the years, but none quite like this. Consider Earth911 to be “all in.”
A number of Earth911 employees, both male and female, will banish razors for the next two weeks, embrace the rugged beauty of an au natural look and save a whole bunch of water in the process. In two week’s time, we’ll revisit our wooly participants, gawk at each dandy duster in detail and tabulate the total waste-reducing impact of a shave-less two weeks.
Our goal is to save as much water during this time as we can, not only in our office, but with our readers in the mix too. Want to join us? Make sure we know you’re participating so we can add you to the total count. Here are a few ways how:
  1. Tweet and share this story using the Twitter and Facebook buttons below.
  2. Tell us with an @Reply to our Twitter that you’re participating.
  3. Look for posts about this story on our Facebook Page and comment that you’ve joined.
We’ll tally up how many people participated and let you know how much we collectively saved. And in return, you get virtual high-fives from our team and some excellent karma for making a positive change.
Ready, set, grow!
Photo: Shutterstock

Friday, May 25, 2012

I Ride My Bicycle

U.S. bicyclists save $4.6 million per year in gas and transportation costsDid you ever wonder how much money you could save every year just by riding a bike to work, to school, to the store or every time you leave the house? Well, here is an interesting fact and just in time, since it is National Bike Month.

Thanks to reports from the League of American Bicyclists, Sierra Club and National Council of La Raza (NCLR), we now know that U.S. bicyclists save $4.6 million per year regarding gas and transportation costs. Yes, you read that right. That’s quite a bit of savings.

Just think, now when you’re biking, you get exercise, reduce your carbon footprint and save dough all at once. Doesn’t get better than that does it? also reports that if everyone made a tiny adjustment to their driving habits, the number could nearly double. The average annual cost of driving equals about $8,220, while biking only costs $308.

“Forty percent of all trips are made within two miles of home. Analysis by the Sierra Club shows that if American drivers were to make just one four-mile round trip each week with a bicycle instead of a car, they would save nearly 2 billion gallons of gas. At $4 per gallon, total savings would be $7.3 billion a year,” Sierra Club states.

“Biking is an important piece of a 21st century transportation system,” said Michael Brune, Sierra Club’s executive director said. “Biking reduces America’s dependence on oil and lets individuals bypass the gas pump, saving individuals money and protecting our health and environment from dirty oil pollution.”

Will you start biking more to save money and the environment?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Green Eye Shadow

RAE Lush Mascara and 3 Well Eye Shadow Palette

Eco Beauty

RAE Lush Mascara and 3 Well Eye Shadow Palette

Hypoallergenic- and fragrance-free, this eye shadow is highly-concentrated so you get a lot with little packaging, while the mascara contains a blend of silk powder, chamomile, and juniper. Both are loaded with antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Not Your Grandfathers Mobile Home

Special Delivery: New Modular Homes Go Anywhere

modular home, eco-friendly home
Photo: Connect:Homes
Written by Matt Hickman, Mother Nature Network
There’s a new modern green prefab company on the scene gearing up to produce sleek, factory-built homes that no doubt possess a couple of deceiving, shipping container-ish traits including, most notably, an easy-to-transport nature and rectangular form.
But when it comes down to it, these modular beauties are anything but shipping container homes. In fact, the folks at just-launched Los Angeles-based Connect:Homes make a concerted effort to distance their product from the retrofitted shipping container home fad, claiming that “[shipping containers] contain a lot of toxic materials, are very difficult to re-purpose, and really aren’t meant for habitation.”
Founded by architects Jared Levy and Gordon Stott, two expats from industry heavyweight Marmol Radziner Prefab, the mission of Connect:Homes is to “deliver modern homes that are affordable, green, and available wherever your are.” The company is placing a big emphasis on that last aspect, widespread availability, as Connect:Homes will be the first prefab company capable of delivering modular homes completely through the standard intermodal network. That is, the homes can be seamlessly delivered to installation sites virtually anywhere via rail, ship or the industry standard, truck, without any hidden costs or logistical headaches.
What’s more, Connect:Homes’ innovative, patent-pending modular system cuts delivery costs by as much as 90 percent, and the homes are 90 percent completed (the industry standard hover around 50 percent) at the company’s Southern California factory prior to shipping, meaning that less time, energy and resources are wasted during the installation process. Electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems along with exterior and interior finishes and doors and windows are all taken care of, leaving only module-line seaming, utility hookups, and a few other details to be tackled during installation.
Keep up with the Craze: IdeaBox Unveils Energy Efficient Prefab Home
eco-friendly, modular home
Photo: Connect:Homes
Explains Levy in a press release announcing the launch of Connect:Homes:
“We did not want to be limited by geographic location. There is a growing global demand for affordable green, energy‐efficient homes, but until now there hasn’t been a way to sell homes to national and international markets. Connect:Homes will change that, delivering our homes from factory to doorstep anywhere in the country with the same ease as any other major commodity.”
In terms of geographic location, the lovely renderings released by Connect:Homes prove that the homes look good just about anywhere, from woodland meadows to uber-dramatic hillside perches to suburban lots. The homes themselves will be available in nine different models that range from the 640-square-foot, one-bedroom Connect:2.1 to the Connect:8.4, a 2,560-square-foot abode that spans two levels and includes four bedrooms. In the middle are the Connect:5.2 and Connect:5.3, two- or three-bedroom configurations that measure 1,600 square feet. Prices for the homes start at $145 per square foot/delivered to $165 per square foot/installed.
More: A Prefab Home That’s… Fabulous?
On the green front, all steel-framed Connect:Homes are designed to attain LEED Silver certification out the door, with Gold and Platinum certification — and net-zero energy status — a possibility depending on additional bells and whistles added at the installation site. Standard green features in each home include LED lighting, recycled glass countertops, a high-efficiency water heater, water-conserving fixtures including dual-flush toilets, FSC-certified bamboo flooring, EnergyStar appliances, zero-VOC paints, finishes, and adhesives, a whole-house ventilation system, low-E windows, high levels of insulation, a fully recyclable, heat-deflecting cool roof, exterior wood siding and decking made from FSC-certified cedar, and much more.
modular home, eco-friendly
Photo: Connect:Homes
modular house, eco-friendly
Photo: Connect:Homes

Rooftop solar arrays, rainwater catchment systems, a hot water recycling pump, sliding sunscreens, trellises and a few other features are optional upgrades. And, of course, Connect:Homes’ factory building process is a highly efficient, low-waste affair that eliminates the massive amount of construction waste (8,000 pounds!) associated with traditional building by 75 percent. The install process itself is estimated to take less than two months with minimal site disturbance or the need for a massive crane.
Continues Levy:
“Our goal was to give consumers the high quality home that they desired at a price point that they could afford. The conventional building process is inefficient and the prefab industry does not currently deliver on its potential. We knew there must be a better, smarter way to build modern, sustainable homes that people could actually afford.”
Right on. Head on over to the Connect:Homes website for plenty more info, images and a mighty informative breakdown of the process of buying a Connect:Home. And although the company has yet to complete an actual home, a prototype Connect: 2.1 will be on display at Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center from June 22 – 24. Be sure to check it out if you plan on attending this year. Post-Dwell on Design, the “pop up” home will also be open to the public somewhere in the L.A. area.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

NC Big Sweep: Vehicle Donation Form 

Because N.C. Big Sweep is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, your donation is tax deductible. Please check with your tax advisor to see how this tax deduction may benefit you.


To make a donation, simply call 1-800-27-SWEEP or complete the form below and fax it to (919) 269-9382 or mail it to N.C. Big Sweep Statewide Headquarters, P.O. Box 126, Zebulon, NC 27597-0126. As soon as we receive the request, we will contact you to make arrangements to pick up your donation.

Donor's Name: ________________________________________________
Donor's Phone Number(s): Work: (_____)___________________ Home: (_____)________________
Donor's Address: _______________________________________________________________________
Location of Vehicle or Boat: ___________________________________________________________
Do you have a clear title to the vehicle or boat? Yes___ No___
Year vehicle or boat was manufactured: ________
Make: _________________________ Model: _____________________________
If vehicle: VIN #:_______________________________ Odometer Reading:___________________
Is vehicle complete? Yes___ No___ If not, what is missing? ______________________ (Note: the value of the vehicle must be more than the cost of towing.)
If boat: Length of boat: _____ ID #:______________________________________
Horsepower: _______ Inboard/Outboard?__________________ Running?___________________
If sailboat, type and condition of sails: _________________________________________________
Condition of boat: ________________________________________________________________________
Condition of boat trailer:_________________________________________________________________
Other Comments: ___________________________________________________________________________


Monday, May 21, 2012

Big Sweep Video Contest

2012 NC Big Sweep Statewide Video Contest

no later than June 15, 2012. The winner will receive
winning video may be broadcast statewide as a public service
announcement for North Carolina Big Sweep.

Videos should be in QuickTime movie file format and be 30 seconds
long. They will be judged on:
1) Creativity
2) Effectiveness in recruiting volunteers for the Big Sweep cleanups
3) Educational value to prevent litter
All entries become the property of N.C. Big Sweep and will not be

Key information to include in the video:
Statewide cleanup is the first Saturday in October.
Volunteers should call 1-800-27-sweep or go to the Big Sweep website

Deadline is
Contest Deadline is June 1, 2012. The winning entry will be announced$250, and theJune 1, 2012. Entries should be uploaded on YouTube.comsend the link and your contact info to --
You can mail your DVD
N.C. Big Sweep is a 501c3 nonprofit whose mission is a litter-free environment. Since it was
founded 25 years ago, Big Sweep volunteers have retrieved the equivalent of almost 26,000
football fields five feet deep in litter. This is important because litter can last a long time in
our environment. Litter hurts people and wildlife. As litter decomposes, it leaches harmful
chemicals into our groundwater. People are injured by accidentally stepping on litter. It hurts
our economy when tourists avoid areas where litter is an issue, resulting in loss of tourism
revenue. Litter is deadly to wildlife that eat or become entangled in it, and once entangled,
they often attract other wildlife to the same hazard.
to North Carolina Big Sweep, PO Box 126, Zebulon, NC 27597 but it
must be postmarked on or before June 1, 2012.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

How to Have a DIY Décor ‘Tree-for-All’ with Reclaimed Branches

May 16, 2012
Fallen branches are reborn using some crafty recycling techniques.
recycled branches How to Have a DIY Décor ‘Tree for All’ with Reclaimed BranchesOh no! A tenacious storm just knocked down several trees in your neighborhood. The good news is that no one got hurt, and all of the cars and homes in the fall-out zone managed to emerge from the incident entirely unscathed.

Beyond the tattered leaves and bits of bark shards littering the ground, the bad news is that everyone has been pointing fingers, trying to heap the responsibility of cutting up all of that dead wood into manageable pieces on someone other than themselves. Time is precious, after all, and who really wants to spend their valuable free time wielding a chainsaw so they can drag dead tree chunks to the curb for the sanitation department to take away?

Um, you do! Here’s your chance to become the neighborhood savior. While you gallop in on your white horse to save the day, there’s no need to broadcast the fact that you will then take the fruits of your labor — limbed tree sections — into your garage for a DIY free-for-all.

It is there, behind closed doors, that you will transform what others view as a pile of unwelcome refuse into multiple décor-enhancing items that most people would willingly shell out beaucoup bucks for. Think you need special skills to make your homemade tree branch creations come together? No way, Jose. Take a gander at the diverse possibilities below and you’ll quickly realize that with very little effort, you will be able to festoon your home with gloriously free, 100% tree-tastic, decorator-worthy specimens.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Twitter and Antique Oysters

Friday, May 18, 2012

EcoBorder Turns Old Tires into Landscape Edging

EcoBorder Turns Old Tires into Landscape Edging

A look at EcoBorder's brown edging option, made from recycled tires. Photo: EcoBorder
If you toss out an old tire and let it sit in a landfill, in 100 years, it will still look like a tire.

No biological organisms are known to be able to break down the durable nature of vulcanized rubber, which is a great thing when the tires are on your car, but not so great when it comes time to dispose of them.
But what if your old tires could be used to keep your yard clean and tidy yet flourishing with flowers, greenery and vegetables? That’s the idea behind the recently launched EcoBorder, a gardening purveyor that turns old tires into borders for gardens and landscaping.

Combining used rubber with glue and exterior paint – which turns the borders green, black, brown and red – EcoBorder edging is next to indestructible, the company says on its website.

“To best understand the longevity of these products you can reference some of the other applications for crumb rubber; such as speed bumps, parking stops, rubber infilled synthetic turf fields, playground equipment, horse mats and handicapped ramps just to name a few,” the site says.

You’ll Also Like: Bridgestone Keeps Tires out of the Landfill
Unlike traditional block borders, EcoBorder can be bent and stretched up to 70 degrees, which means you can get those perfectly circular or curvy borders. Little cutting is needed and installation requires no digging – just connect each piece and stake it into the ground.

EcoBorder comes in 4-foot-long pieces and are sold in packs of two and six at about $10 per piece. The product is sold at Lowe’s, The Home Depot and various other retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Pizza Box Recycling Mystery

The Pizza Box Recycling Mystery

Courtesy of Earth911

Many people assume that pizza boxes are recyclable. In fact, most boxes have recycling symbols on them and are traditionally made from corrugated cardboard. They are, in and of themselves, recyclable.

However, what makes parts of them non-recyclable is the hot, tasty treat that comes inside them, specifically, the grease and cheese from pizza that soil the cardboard.

So there you have it, pizza boxes that are tarnished with food, or any paper product that is stained with grease or food, are not recyclable - unless you remove the tainted portions.

But why is this? And what are the implications for the general, pizza-loving public? Mmm, pizza.

How it Gets Recycled
Food is one of the worst contaminants in the paper recycling process. Grease and oil are not as big of a problem for plastic, metal and glass, as those materials are recycled using a heat process. But when paper products, like cardboard, are recycled, they are mixed with water and turned into a slurry. Since we all know water and oil don't mix, the issue is clear.

Grease from pizza boxes causes oil to form at the top of the slurry, and paper fibers cannot separate from oils during the pulping process. Essentially, this contaminant causes the entire batch to be ruined. This is the reason that other food related items are non-recyclable (used paper plates, used napkins, used paper towels, etc).

"The oil gets in when you're doing your process of making paper," said Terry Gellenbeck, a solid waste administrative analyst for the City of Phoenix. "The oil causes great problems for the quality of the paper, especially the binding of the fibers. It puts in contaminants, so when they do squeeze the water out, it has spots and holes."

But what about other things regularly found on paper products, like ink? "Most inks are not petroleum-based so they break down fast. Food is a big problem," he said.

Also, be mindful of adhesives that may be on the pizza box (coupons, stickers, etc.) as those are contaminants. Known as "pressure sensitive adhesives (PSAs)" these can ruin the recycling process just as much as oil or food remains.

Many people admit trying to "sneak" their pizza boxes in with cardboard boxes and such. In reality, this does more harm than good as the contaminated cardboard could ruin the whole recycling batch.

In fact, contamination in the recycling business is a big problem. Some estimates put the costs of irresponsible contamination in the neighborhood of $700 million per year industry-wide. Gellenbeck estimates that for the City of Phoenix, contamination costs them around $1 million annually, because of damage to machinery, disposal costs for the non-recyclable material and wasted time, materials and efficiency. With the City processing 129,000 tons of materials in 2008 (around 7 percent of this is cardboard), money is an important factor as to why residents should know what their municipalities do and do not accept.

So, What Do I Do?
The easiest remedy for this problem is to cut or tear out the soiled portions of your pizza boxes and trash them. For example, you can tear the top of the box off, recycle that and throw away the bottom part containing the grease. If the entire box is grease-free, the whole box can be recycled with a guilt-free conscience.

Another option to recycling cardboard is to compost it, although the grease rule still applies here as well. "Even with oils, you shouldn't compost [greased cardboard]. It causes rotting, you get more bugs and smell and it's just not good for the plants," said Gellenbeck.

Most importantly, being well-versed on what your local recyclers accept, can make the biggest difference. "It all depends on where your processor sends your paper, too," said Gellenbeck, whose authority applies only to the City of Phoenix. "If you can keep a particular thing like the food out, the plastics out, all those things that really shouldn't be there, it would help."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

New App Targets Illegal Dumping

New App Targets Illegal Dumping

TrashOut, iPhone, Screenshot, Android
Photo: TrashOut

Illegal dumping is a growing problem in the U.S. and abroad. It’s difficult for agencies to keep up with the new dump sites that continue to pop up daily, but now any person with a smartphone can help.

The TrashOut app was developed like the Foursquare of waste reduction. Users can earn badges for reporting illegal dumping sites, taking pictures of waste, confirming dumping sites and cleaning up waste.

Know the Laws: Solid Waste
The app was developed in Slovakia, where over 130 illegal dumps were reported within the first two months of the app launch, according to the site.
TrashOut recently expanded to the Czech Republic and Croatia, and the company plans to expand worldwide. In the United States, the app is available as a free download for iPhone. The Android version is still in development.

The TrashOut app and website feature a Trash Map that shows nearby illegal dumping sites. Slovakia now has 375 reported dumping sites, most of which include user-submitted photos of waste. Dumping sites in the U.S. are still being compiled and verified and aren’t yet shown on the site’s map.

Make the Most out of Waste: 7 Ways to Make Money by Going Green
The site compiles its reports in the statistics column with a breakdown of illegal dumps by type. The leading European dump types are household, plastic, and glass.
By raising awareness of illegal dumping activities, TrashOut plans to assist with global waste reduction.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Landing Report

N.C.DENR logo
N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Release: Immediate
Date: May 10, 2012
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021 or 252-342-0642

Commercial, Recreational Landings Decrease Slightly

MOREHEAD CITY – North Carolina commercial and recreational fish and shellfish harvests decreased slightly in 2011.

The commercial harvest decreased by about 6 percent to 67.5 million pounds, according to landings reports collected by the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Trip Ticket Program. This harvest had an estimated dockside value of $72.8 million.

Recreational landings dropped about 3 percent to 13.2 million pounds, according to division Marine Recreational Information Program estimates.

“The decrease in landings corresponds to a decrease in effort,” said Louis Daniel, director of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries. “Commercial trips were down by 11 percent and recreational trips were down by 17 percent in 2011.”

Commercial Landings
As usual, blue crab topped the state’s commercial harvest, both in pounds and value. Fishermen landed 30 million pounds of blue crab, with a dockside value of $21 million in 2011.

Shrimp took the No. 2 spot, followed by Atlantic croaker at No. 3. Commercial fishermen landed 5.1 million pounds of shrimp, which had an estimated dockside value of $11 million. Fishermen landed 5 million pounds of croaker, valued at $3.1 million.

Commercial fishermen landed 3.5 million pounds of menhaden in 2011, a 172 percent jump from 2010, pushing menhaden to No. 4 in the top commercial species list. The increase was due to a demand for bait in the crab pot fishery. Menhaden dropped out of the list of top five commercial species after the last menhaden reduction factory in the state closed in 2005. The 2011 menhaden landings had an estimated dockside value of $334,299.

Summer flounder rounded out the top five commercial species landed in 2011. Commercial fishermen landed 2.9 million pounds of summer flounder valued at $6 million.

Recreational Landings
Dolphinfish continued to top the list of recreational fish harvested. Anglers landed 3.5 million pounds of dolphinfish in 2011, a 7.6 percent increase from the previous year.

Striped bass jumped from the No. 4 slot in 2010 to No. 2 last year, due to high landings in the ocean fishery in January and February 2011. Cooler water temperatures caused the fished to migrate into North Carolina waters in 2011, something that does not happen in warmer winters. Anglers caught 2 million pounds of striped bass in 2011, up 350 percent from 2010.

Bluefish, yellowfin tuna and Spanish mackerel rounded out the top five recreational species landed in 2011. Anglers landed 993,543 pounds of bluefish (up 4.4 percent), 811,673 pounds of yellowfin tuna (down 1.5 percent) and 470,647 pounds of Spanish mackerel (down 17 percent).

Catches of cobia were down 70 percent, as were porgies and amberjacks landings.

For more information about commercial landings statistics, contact Alan Bianchi, Commercial Statistics Program manager, at 252-808-8092 or For information about recreational landings, contact Doug Mumford, Recreational Statistics Program manager, at 252-948-3876 or

A full landings report can be found on the division website at

Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs - Phone: (919) 707-8626 -- 1601 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1601

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Recycled Flower Pots Make Spring a Little Sunnier

Recycled Flower Pots Make Spring a Little Sunnier

Made of recycled PETE, rEarth flower pots spare 72 million plastic water bottles annually.
With spring planting well underway, gardeners across the country are up to their elbows in dirt and compost, putting beautiful flowers and healthy veggies in the ground.
For many, the annoying side effect of this very green activity is all the plastic pots left over at the end of the process. Nursery pots are typically made with #5, #6 or #7 plastics, which are difficult or sometimes impossible to recycle.

A Seattle-area company is doing what it can to change that. The McConkey Company, which manufactures and distributes products for plant nurseries, recently released the rEarth line of flowerpots, which are made entirely from recycled water bottles.

Most plastic water bottles are made with #1 plastic, known as PET or PETE, which is quite recyclable. But the remanufacturing process required to turn PETE back into new products is typically done overseas.
rEarth recycled flower pots Recycled Flower Pots Make Spring a Little Sunnier
McConkey's rEarth recycled plastic flower pots

“We have these water bottles that Americans recycle, but then they’re put on an ocean container to China, where they turn it into consumer products,” Stina McConkey, McConkey Company’s COO, said in a press release. “So we asked ourselves, can we keep this valuable material at home — and keep jobs in the US by turning them into flower pots? After working with local recyclers, it turns out we could.”

The company also hopes its product will spur awareness about the wastefulness of single-use plastic bottles and encourage conversations about recycling. Fifty-four percent of Americans drink bottled water regularly, according to McConkey, but only about one-quarter of those bottles are recycled. An estimated 60 million water bottles are thrown away every single day.
rEarth pots are easy to recycle; once you’re through with them you can chuck them in your curbside bin (or, if your municipality does not accept #1 plastic, you can take them to a recycling center with all your other plastics). During the first year of manufacturing, the company diverted 72 million plastic water bottles.

The pots come in eight different sizes, including the six-packs that are popular for vegetables starts and small flowering plants. rEarth has been successful enough that the McConkey Company is planning to add additional sizes to the line later this year.

Consumers will find rEarth pots holding plants from growers such as Colorama, SummerWinds Nursery and Do Right’s Plant Growers in California. They are available for sale (in bulk quantities only) on the company’s website. Want to see them in your area? Encourage your favorite nursery to check them out.

Sophia Bennett

About the author

Sophia Bennett is a freelance writer based in Eugene, OR. She has contributed to several magazines and writes a regular column for a local newspaper. Sophia is a dedicated home recycler, avid thrift store shopper and huge compost nerd.…

Saturday, May 12, 2012

San Fran Turns Transit Tickets into Trees

San Fran Turns Transit Tickets into Trees

san francisco, recology
San Franciscans can now tape old subway tickets with minimal leftover value to the lid of their recycling cart, and the ticket's remaining value will be donated to local charities. Photo: Alexis Petru, Earth911

It’s a common dilemma for regular subway riders: What do you do with all those leftover tickets with just a few cents of remaining value?

San Francisco residents had a few disposal options for their old tickets from the Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART): They could consolidate the tickets’ value only at certain BART stations, or they could donate the unused value to charity by mailing the tickets to nonprofits registered with BART or delivering them to special donation boxes.
But now a new program from San Francisco’s waste and recycling collection company, Recology, is making it more convenient for residents of the “City by the Bay” to put old subway tickets to good use.

As part of the “Turning Tiny Tickets into Trees” initiative, San Franciscans can now tape old tickets to the lid of their recycling carts or hand the tickets to one of Recology’s recycling drivers. All collected BART tickets will be delivered to a community foundation that redeems their value and sends the money to two local nonprofits.

One of the benefiting organizations, Friends of the Urban Forest, plants and cares for trees in San Francisco to promote a green infrastructure in the city’s urban environment.

“Recycling is truly amazing when it can turn unused BART tickets into trees for San Francisco,” said Dan Flanagan, Friends of the Urban Forest’s executive director, in a press release.
The San Francisco Food Bank will also receive donations from the new Recology program to fund their work feeding more than 225,000 people in need annually through local homeless shelters, senior centers and soup kitchens.

“The Food Bank can turn each dollar donated into $6 worth of food. Donations from the tiny tickets can quickly turn into much-needed meals on the family dinner table,” said the Food Bank’s Marketing and Communications Manager Lisa Mizokami, in a press release.

recology, san francisco, recycling
Recology employee David Nanney came up with the idea for the BART ticket collection program. Photo: Recology

One employee’s good idea

The idea for the new Tiny Tickets program originated with David Nanney, a supervisor at Recology’s San Francisco sorting facility. Despite the existing consolidation and donation options for old BART tickets, Nanney noticed the occasional ticket moving across the sorting lines at the plant.

Made of a thin, lightweight plastic like a credit card, BART tickets were winding up with a mix of other small non-recyclable items at the end of the sorting line.

Looking to find a second life for this material, Nanney proposed that his co-workers watch out for BART tickets on the line and toss them in a special collection box.

In just four months, the facility had collected more than $1,400 in unused ticket value, which was then donated to the San Francisco Food Bank and Friends of the Urban Forest.

Based on the success of this pilot program, Recology decided to expand the initiative to allow residents to easily “recycle” their old BART tickets curbside.

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