Sunday, September 30, 2012

Online Oil

New Biz Hosts Online Market for Used Oil

Photo: Shutterstock

A new company recently launched an online marketplace for the sale and purchase of used cooking and motor oil, a new method of delivery for a commodity that's in high demand.
Cooking oil can be used to do anything from power vehicles to act as a base for bioplastics, but finding a mass quantity of the lubed-up gold can be a tricky obstacle – one that has led to cooking oil being stolen from restaurants across the country.

Florida-based StayGreen Oil, launched act as a liaison between buyer and seller, allows sellers to post their stock of oil on the site and buyers can browse supplies while looking for the best price.

“There currently exists a growing global demand for re-refined basestocks derived from used engine oils and an increased call for used cooking oils required for biodiesel production,” said co-founder Michael Griffith in a press release. “StayGreen Oil is the only system of its kind and will revolutionize the way the market interacts to fill these needs.”
The company contends that oil doesn’t wear out, but rather just gets dirty and can be cleaned and reused again.

Oil can be sold on the site in an Ebay-style auction system, or users can send each other private requests for proposal. There’s no cost to sign up, but StayGreen Oil collects a fee from each transaction.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Weyerhaeuser and Ford

Melissa Hincha-Ownby

Ford and Weyerhauser develop cellulose-based plastic

The two companies have found an automotive use for a plastic composite material made out of cellulose.

The last thing I think of when I hear the words “plastic composite” is plant-based material. However, a partnership between Ford and Weyerhauser has led to the development of plastic composites made out of cellulose instead of fiberglass. The new cellulose-based composite may even make its way into a Ford vehicle, increasing the automaker’s use of sustainable materials in its product lineup.
Components made using the cellulose-based composite weigh about 10 percent less than the non-cellulose part. Additionally, these parts can be produced 20 to 40 percent faster than their traditional counterparts. The quicker production cycle reduces energy use and could ultimately reduce component costs.
The cellulose fibers used during this partnership came from sustainably grown and harvested trees and also from by-products like wood chips and sawdust.
“Cellulose fiber is a great renewable resource that already has established infrastructure around the world, making it an ideal material for Ford’s global products,” said Ellen Lee, a plastic research technical expert at Ford.
While no cellulose-based products are currently used in Ford vehicles, the company tested a prototype armrest and determined that there are multiple possible applications for cellulose use in both the interior and exterior. If cellulose products do make it to market, they will join Ford’s other sustainably-sourced materials , which includes recycled plastic bottles that have been converted into seat fabric and recycled blue jeans used as sound-dampening material in the Ford Fusion.

Friday, September 28, 2012

When Food Becomes Trash

Supermarket Waste: Where Does It Go?

At some point, you have probably found yourself in a grocery store wondering what happens to the overripe bananas or the holiday-themed sheet cakes that do not sell. All of those things can't end up in the trash, can they?
In the past, that might have been the case. However, organic food waste recycling is an up-and-coming industry that provides supermarkets an alternative to sending their unusables to landfills.
"Just about everything that comes out of a grocery store has the ability to be recycled," said Brian Dick, CEO at Quest Recycling Services.
supermarket, grocery, food
Photo: Shutterstock

When Food Becomes Trash

"A typical grocery store will see about 35 percent of the overall trash compactor is organic food waste, whether that's produce, bakery, dairy, fruits or vegetables," Dick said.

Supermarkets see a need for an alternative to throwing these materials away and companies like Quest Recycling, whose food waste recycling program began in 2009, can often help recycle food waste for no more money than sending it to landfill.

Over 4,000 stores in all 50 states participate in Quest Recycling’s organic food waste program. The company orchestrates the pick-up, transport and, if applicable, the processing of food items, which is usually done at facilities within 60 to 90 miles of the supermarkets.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Learning About Glass Recycling from Captain Cullet

Learning About Glass Recycling from Captain Cullet
A glass packaging manufacturer has created lovable cartoon characters to help teach kids about the importance of glass recycling.
Captain Cullet Gob oGlass Learning About Glass Recycling from Captain Cullet
Captain Cullet and Gob o’Glass. Images courtesy of
It is so important to empower our children with knowledge. Educating them about how and why to recycle is a fantastic way to ensure that they will carry the recycling habit with them as they go off to college, to their first job or wherever life takes them. And, now there is a website that makes learning about recycling glass a fun experience:
Developed by Verallia North America, a glass packaging manufacturer, the site introduces children to Captain Cullet and Gob o’Glass. These likable cartoon characters share animated videos, activities and crafts, coloring books and more to help teach elementary school-aged children, teachers, parents and children’s groups about the importance of recycling glass.
Captain Cullet is a robot that crushes glass containers so they can be melted and made into new glass bottles and jars. Cullet is recycled crushed glass that, when used in the manufacturing process, reduces the need for raw materials and excess energy consumption. Captain Cullet’s sidekick, the little Gob o’ Glass, is an adorable drop of molten glass.
Glass ingredients Learning About Glass Recycling from Captain Cullet
Image courtesy of

Here are some of the glass recycling facts your kids will learn from Captain Cullet and his friends:
  • Glass containers can be recycled over and over again. Every bit of a glass bottle or jar can be turned into another glass container.
  • For every glass bottle we recycle, we save enough energy to power a computer for 30 minutes or a TV for 20 minutes. And, more than a ton of natural resources are conserved for every ton of glass recycled.
  • Most people prefer using glass containers compared to paper, plastic or metal packaging. Glass bottles and jars help maintain the purity and quality of the food and drinks they hold.
  • Brown and green glass containers can protect inside contents from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
  • A glass bottle can go from the recycling bin to a store shelf in as little as 30 days.
  • When making glass containers, we rely on digging up limestone, soda ash and sand from the ground. We call these things raw materials. The earth has a bunch of these particular raw materials, but if we use more cullet, we won’t have to spend as much time digging.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pamlico Sound to Close to Large-Mesh Gill Net Fishing to Protect Sea Turtles

Pamlico Sound to Close to Large-Mesh Gill Net Fishing to Protect Sea Turtles

MOREHEAD CITY – To protect sea turtles, Pamlico Sound will close to all large-mesh gill net fishing on Wed., Sept. 26.

The Pamlico Sound Gill Net Restricted Area opened Sept. 15, and during the first week the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries has documented four interactions between gill nets and sea turtles in these waters. These interactions included one dead and one live endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.
It is uncertain if the waters will reopen this fall. The decision will depend on the occurrence of sea turtles in the area.

By federal rule, all of Pamlico Sound closes to large-mesh gill net fishing from Sept. 1 through Nov. 30 each year. The closure began in 1999 after several instances of fishery interactions with threatened and endangered sea turtles.

However, since 2000, the National Marine Fisheries Service has allowed a highly-monitored, large-mesh gill net fishery during the closure in limited areas of the sound under a series of incidental take permits. These permits, authorized under Section 10 of the federal Endangered Species Act, allow for limited takes of threatened or endangered species in an otherwise lawful activity.

North Carolina’s latest incidental take permit for the Pamlico Sound Gill Net Restricted Area expired Dec. 31, 2010. However, the National Marine Fisheries Service has agreed to allow this fishery to continue while the state applies for an incidental take permit to cover set gill nets statewide. An application for this permit, submitted in May 2010, is still under review.

Specific regulations pertaining to the closure can be found at

For more information, contact the division’s Protected Resources Section chief Chris Batsavage at 252-808-8009 or

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Did you know?

200 feet of a two-lane highway can be paved by recycling the shingles from an average home:

Monday, September 24, 2012

GM Scraps Transformed into Coats for Homeless

GM Scraps Transformed into Coats for Homeless

Written by Melissa Hincha-Ownby, Mother Nature Network

When General Motors has leftover sound-absorbing materials from the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick Verano, it doesn’t just recycle the material. Instead, GM donates the material to Veronika Scott of The Empowerment Plan.
General Motors, recycling, reuse, charity
Photo: John F. Martin, General Motors

Scott then turns the material into self-heated waterproof coats that can be converted into sleeping bags. These coats are then distributed to homeless individuals in Detroit and other cities.

Scott came up with the idea to make weatherproof coats when she was a student at the College for Creative Studios in Detroit. After designing the product, she hired homeless women to make the coats for distribution. Since December 2010, Scott has hired eight full-time employees that make 150 coats per month.

One of Scott’s biggest challenges with the program is a challenge that all small business owners face — funding. Specifically, funding for expensive insulated material.
“Among other challenges — from design to project funding — the insulation is the largest expense in the coats’ production,” Scott said in a GM release. “With GM’s help and recommendations, I was able to think about materials in a different way and incorporate a sustainable, durable and practical product from GDC, Inc. that benefits struggling community members.”

General Motors donated 2,000 yards of the Sonozorb material to Scott. This was enough material to make 400 all-in-one weatherproof coats. This donation will help keep 400 individuals warm this winter and it also helps General Motors meet its waste reduction goals.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Purpose of Shrimp Meetings


Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021

Marine Fisheries Clarifies Purpose of Shrimp Meetings

 MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries would like to clarify that a draft revision to a N.C. Shrimp Fishery Management plan does not recommend a ban on shrimp trawling in state waters.

The draft revision, which is out for public comment, does not recommend any changes in management of the shrimp fishery at this time. It does recommend continuing research on the shrimp trawl fishery.

The division is holding several meetings in the coming weeks to take public comments on this draft revision. At the first of these meetings, held Wednesday in Wilmington, many fishermen stated they had misunderstood the purpose of the meeting.

The division is required by law to review each fishery management plan every five years and determine if changes in rules or management strategies are needed. If changes in management strategies or rules are needed, the division pursues a plan amendment, where division staff and an advisory committee develop positions on specific issues that need to be addressed. If no changes in management strategies are required, the division proceeds with a revision, which is a more abbreviated process that involves updating data and fishery information contained in the plan.

After initial review, the division determined that no rules or management changes were needed at this time in the shrimp fishery and began pursuing a revision. However, the Marine Fisheries Commission received public comments at its August meeting from a recreational fishing group that announced it was beginning a campaign to ban shrimp trawling in state waters.

After receiving public comments and a review by the advisory committees, the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission will decide at its November meeting whether to proceed with the revision or switch to an amendment process to explore changes in management strategies.

The remaining three meetings will be held in conjunction with Marine Fisheries Commission advisory committee meetings at the following dates and locations:

Northern Advisory Committee
Sept. 27 at 4 p.m.
Vernon G. James Research & Extension Center
207 Research Station Road, Plymouth
6 p.m., Oct. 2
Craven County Cooperative Extension Office
300 Industrial Drive, New Bern
Habitat and Water Quality
1:30 p.m. Oct. 2
N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Washington Regional Office
943 Washington Square Mall, Washington

For more information, contact Nancy Fish in the Marine Fisheries Commission office at 252-808-8021 or

Saturday, September 22, 2012

HHW/Electronics Recycling today in Morehead City

Friday, September 21, 2012

Celebrate National Estuaries Day, National Public Lands Day Sept. 29

People Invited to Celebrate National Estuaries Day, National Public Lands Day Sept. 29

 BEAUFORT – People are invited to celebrate the coastal environment during National Estuaries Day and National Public Lands Day Sept. 29 at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort.

The event, which is free, will be from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the museum, 315 Front St., Beaufort.
The N.C. Division of Coastal Management’s Coastal Reserve, National Estuarine Research Reserve Program and the North Carolina Maritime Museum are hosting the event.

National Estuaries Day is an annual celebration of estuaries, the vibrant coastal areas where rivers meet the sea. It is a great opportunity to learn more about these magical ecosystems and how people can help protect them. North Carolina’s estuarine system is the third largest in the nation, encompassing more than 2 million acres. National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance public lands. 

The Sept. 29 event will include an education tent at the museum and hourly showings of “American Experience: Rachel Carson’sSilent Spring,” a film honoring the 50th anniversary of the book’s publication. Rachel Carson was a world-renowned marine biologist, author and environmentalist. She spent time researching in the area now designated as the Rachel Carson component of the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve in Beaufort. Her most famous book,Silent Spring, is often regarded as the beginning of the modern environmental movement.

In addition to the celebration at the museum, the Rachel Carson component of the N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve will host a birding trip from 1-3:30 p.m. Sept. 28 and a Big Sweep cleanup on the reserve Sept. 29. Registration is required for the birding trip and Rachel Carson reserve cleanup. Contact Rachel Carson site manager Paula Gillikin at 252-838-0886 or to register, or visit for more information.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Public Lands Hunter Workshop Scheduled for Sept. 27

Public Lands Hunter Workshop Scheduled for Sept. 27

COLUMBIA, N.C. – Tyrrell County abounds in hunting opportunities on public lands, but understanding the differences between state and federal properties is important for a successful hunt.

To help familiarize hunters with the distinctions between public properties, the N.C. Coastal Reserve, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold a hunter information workshop at 7 p.m. Sept. 27 at Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge’s Walter B. Jones Sr. Center for the Sounds, 205 South Ludington Dr., Columbia.
This workshop presents an opportunity for hunters to interact with public land managers and enforcement staff. It will include an orientation to the various public lands that are open to hunting, a review of different public land rules, changes since the last hunting season, and opportunities to ask questions of enforcement staff.
This workshop is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Woody Webster, site manager of the Emily and Richardson Preyer Buckridge Coastal Reserve, at 252-796-3709.
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Old Food. Where Does It Go?

Pop quiz: After food goes bad at the supermarket, where does it all go?

Take a guess in the comments, then click through for the answer:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Upcycled Earrings

Can you guess of what material this upcycled earring is made?

Take a guess, then click through to find out and learn how to make it yourself:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Just Do It!

Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe Program

The in-store drop-off recycling program collects old shoes and turns them into new Nike products.
In early 1990, Nike began thinking about ways to lessen its impact on the environment and reduce the amount of shoes headed for landfills. Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program was born. The program collects old, worn-out athletic shoes for recycling and transforms them into Nike Grind, a material used in creating athletic and playground surfaces as well as select Nike products.
Nike Reuse a Shoe Nike’s Reuse a Shoe Program
The program has collected 28 million shoes for recycling since 1990. And, in 2008, Nike placed Reuse-A-Shoe bins in all of its U.S. retail stores — more than 150 locations.
If you have a pair of athletic shoes that have reached the end of their useful life, consider dropping them off at one of Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe drop-off locations. Visit the program’s drop-off location page to find one near you. Nike continues to add new sites, so check back often for new shoe recycling locations.

In the U.S., collected shoes head to Memphis, TN. At the recycling facility, these shoes are combined with Nike’s manufacturing waste to become Nike Grind material. The Memphis center cuts each shoe into three slices: rubber outsole, foam midsole and fiber upper. Each slice is fed through grinders and purified. In the end, three high-quality materials are ready to be reused:
  • Nike Grind Rubber, made from the shoe’s outsole, is used in track surfaces, interlocking gym flooring tiles, playground surfacing and even new Nike products, such as the outsoles of the Nike Pegasus or the Jordan XX3. It is also used in trim items like buttons and zipper pulls.
  • Nike Grind Foam, made from the shoe’s midsole, is used as a cushion for outdoor basketball and tennis courts, as well as futsal fields.
  • Nike Grind Fiber, made from the shoe’s fabric upper, is used in the creation of cushioning pads for facilities like indoor synthetic courts and wood courts.
Nike is constantly looking for ways to decrease its environmental footprint, so a few years ago, the company branched out from sports surfaces and started using pre-consumer Nike Grind, scrap material from its manufacturing facilities, in new Nike products, like zipper pulls, buttons and promotional items. Nike Trash Talk uses many environmentally preferred materials, such as Nike Grind Rubber in its outsole.
The list goes on, so after you have recycled your old shoes, maybe you should look at a “new” pair of Nikes. You can also feel great about its new lighter, stronger shoebox, which uses 23% less materials than the old box — saving the equivalent of 200,000 trees annually. And, by the way, it is made with 100% recycled cardboard, like all of Nike’s shoeboxes since 1995.
For more information, visit

Sunday, September 16, 2012

HHW/Electronics Recycling Events

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Protect Your Groundwater Day

State offers clean drinking water tips on Protect Your Groundwater Day

RALEIGH – State officials are using today’s celebration of Protect Your Groundwater Day to encourage North Carolinians with groundwater wells to ensure their drinking water is clean.
Nearly 4.8 million people, roughly half the state’s population, rely on groundwater wells for drinking water and other household needs. Due to the importance of groundwater to Americans, the National Ground Water Association named Sept. 11 Protect Your Groundwater Day.

Officials with the N.C. Division of Water Quality say proper drilling practices are important to ensure drinking water is clean because nearly 9,000 new wells are drilled each year in North Carolina. Improperly constructed or maintained groundwater wells can invite contamination.
State officials recommend protecting drinking water by:

· Making sure a newly drilled well is the proper distance from property lines, septic systems and other potential sources of contamination such as dog pens or workshops. Specific well construction techniques and materials are required to prevent contamination.
· Ensuring well drillers are certified, as required by North Carolina law. Ask your driller to show you his certification. Water supply well drillers must be at level A or B.
· Not storing or mixing pesticides, weed killer, paints or paint thinners, fertilizers, cleaning products, gasoline or oil near a well head. A simple spill could go into the well and contaminate the water. Homeowners with private wells should be aware of potential sources of groundwater contamination in their own yards. 
· Avoiding drinking the water or using it for washing if the well is flooded. Contact a licensed professional to have the well flushed, cleaned and disinfected.
· Using a certified professional to properly close or “abandon” a well if you decide to quit using your well. This will ensure the well doesn’t become a source of contamination.
· Looking for ways to reduce the usage of your well, as groundwater aquifers are an important, but finite source of water. Keep in mind aquifers collect and store rainwater and snow melt that soaks into the ground. They also provide base flow and recharge for surface water streams, rivers and lakes.

For more information on well construction, well protection and water conservation, check out the Protect Your Groundwater Day website at:
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Friday, September 14, 2012

Starbucks Cleans

Starbucks Coffee Grounds Turned into Plastic, Detergent

Used coffee grounds and stale Starbucks bakery goods can now be turned into detergents and plastics thanks to a City University of Hong Kong lab. Photo: Flickr

Soon the spent grounds used to make your Starbucks espresso could wind up in your next bottle of laundry detergent. With some processing, that is.

According to research presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, a new City University of Hong Kong bio-refinery is testing a method of breaking down organic matter and turning it into everyday products like laundry detergent, plastic and more. Hong Kong-based Starbucks stores have agreed to send the lab their spent coffee grounds and stale pastries in an effort to divert some of their food waste.

Hong Kong Starbucks locations produce an estimated 4,500 tons of spent coffee grounds each year, according to an American Chemical Society press release. Some of the waste that would otherwise wind up in landfills, composting operations and incinerators will head directly to the City University lab to find an organic solution to petroleum-based plastics.

Can You Believe It? Coffee-Powered Car Breaks World Record
The overall goal is to turn the organic waste into succinic acid – an ingredient found in a multitude of household products. It’s created by blending organic food matter with fungi. During the process, carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars that can then be fermented into the acid.

The process of turning organic matter into products like succinic acid is not new. However, often produce like corn is not only grown to be eaten, but specifically cultivated to be turned into plastics or other products. The City University lab, headed up by Carol S.K. Lin, will create succinic acid from foods that simply went uneaten.

“The method isn't just for bakery waste — Lin has also successfully transformed food wastes from her university's cafeteria and other mixed food wastes into useful substances with the technology,” the American Chemical Society said in the release

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fresh Paint

Organizing your garage? Here's a fresh tip: Store your cans upside down or cover their openings with plastic wrap before replacing the lid.

Do you have your own top tips for preventing waste in your garage?

Curbside Textile Recycling

Curbside Textile Recycling Program is First in U.S.

Phoenix Fibers is a closed-loop recycling company that converts textiles into environmentally-friendly home insulation. Photo: Phoenix Fibers

Giving new life to old textiles just got a whole lot easier for some Arizona residents.
Beginning this month, the town of Queen Creek, Ariz. will pair up with United Fibers to expand their curbside recycling service to include the collection of items like towels, clothing, blankets, sheets and shoes. Residents can recycle their textiles by simply putting them inside a special bag to be placed in their curbside recycling bins.
"We’re the first municipality in the country to do curbside textile recycling," said Ramona Simpson, project administrator for Queen Creek’s trash and recycling department.
During the four-month pilot program, the textiles collected will be sorted, weighed and processed by United Fibers, then turned into eco-friendly home insulation by sister company Phoenix Fibers.
“What’s cool is that people can actually see the end product,” Simpson said. “You can actually see [the insulation] being made right here in Arizona.”
The textiles must be free of contaminants, but that's really the only qualifier – no towel is too ratty and no clothing too old to donate.

Recycling 101: Tips for Recycling Clothes
About 7,000 residents will have the opportunity to participate in the program and Simpson said they are looking to divert as many textiles from the trash as possible.
“We don’t really have goals other than hoping that we’ll have good participation,” Simpson said. “Because we are a pilot program, it’s hard to say what will be successful enough for United Fibers to continue with the project.”
The program will bring in revenue for the town too with Queen Creek receiving 10 cents for every pound collected. The program will donate another 10 cents for every ton collected to the Boys and Girls Club of Queen Creek.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 13.1 million tons of textiles were thrown away in 2010. Simpson would like the program to serve as a motivator for its residents.
"We’re hoping to raise awareness,” she said. “To help people realize know what can happen if they just do one little thing.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Big Sweep

North Carolina Big Sweep
If you're looking for something good to do this weekend, we have several Big Sweep cleanups going on and could really use your help. The cleanups are in Ashe/Alleghany, Avery, Beaufort, Haywood, Transylvania and Watauga counties and Greensboro. To volunteer or give online, please go to our website Thanks!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sleep On It

Used mattress disposal is a growing problem in US landfills. Traditional disposal at landfills is becoming expensive and in many cases, no longer allowed. Because of increased regulations, space constraints, and decisions to ban mattresses from many landfills, disposal becomes almost impossible and recycling becomes the smart and viable alternative.

The principle materials that can be recovered and recycled from a mattress are steel, foam, fiber, and other filling materials. There are existing markets for the reuse of these items into other products provided they are separated, thus preventing them from becoming part of the landfill.

Currently, we recycle approximately 99% of all mattress components. The average mattress weighs 65 pounds and takes up 23 cubic feet of landfill space. When recycled, this is a huge amount of refuse that goes back into useful products instead of filling the landfill. As a perspective to the enormous size of mattresses, a trailer load of used mattresses is equal to two swimming pools full of waste when dumped in a landfill. Mattresses do not compact nor do they decompose. These used mattresses consume a large amount of landfill space relative to their light weight. They are there for ETERNITY!

As a way around the tipping fees at landfills, many people are leaving them beside roadways or illegally discarding them. Some landfills charge as much as $40 per mattress tipping fee. The costs that the landfill incurs in accepting mattresses is equal to about $15 per mattress. Actually, the landfill would be more profitable if it were to pay anything less than $15 for someone else to dispose of or recycle the used mattress.

Selling renovated mattresses as new products is illegal in many states yet some of these “renovators” put new covers on old mattresses, ship them to states with no regulations on their sale, and pass them off as “new”. Besides the obvious health issues concerning one of these renovated mattresses, many sell them as new mattresses without telling the consumer the truth. It is estimated that this underground market could equal up to 35% of annual new units sold and thus deceiving the end consumer.

Monday, September 10, 2012

I shutter to think...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Plastic Clothes

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Company Heeds Kids’ Call to Recycle Markers

California elementary students realized that each dried out marker has valuable plastic surrounding it. Photo: Flickr

Earlier this year, elementary school students and thousands of online supporters petitioned Crayola to start a ‘take back’ program to recycle the company’s markers.

Last month, rival art supply manufacturer Dixon Ticonderoga answered the call and started a marker recycling program of its own.

It’s an unexpected result of a campaign that started in May at San Rafael, Calif.’s Sun Valley Elementary School. As they worked with school art supplies, students at the school noticed that, as markers run dry, they’re simply tossed into the garbage bin.

The students, along with the help of school volunteer and award-winning children’s book author Land Wilson, decided to launch a petition to ask Crayola to start a “take back” recycling program, since markers can’t simply be tossed in the recycling bin as-is.
“I want to let you know that I am not a useless little kid. I can make a difference! By telling you to recycle your pens,” wrote one 10-year-old student on the petition page.
As of publishing, over 82,000 people have signed the online petition.

While Dixon Ticonderoga is admittedly smaller than Crayola, which manufactures a staggering half a billion markers each year, according to the petition, Dixon agreed to start a “take back” program simply because it’s “the right thing to do,” CEO Timothy M. Gomez said in a press release.

Dixon Ticonderoga’s recycling program will process the company’s Prang line of markers for recycling. The company will offer prepaid UPS shipping labels for marker hauls of seven pounds or more.

To encourage the recycling efforts of Sun Valley Elementary students, the company has provided the school a year’s supply of Prang markers.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Is Your Freezer Ready for the Power to Go Out?

Is Your Freezer Ready for the Power to Go Out?
As Isaac's surge topped the levees and flooded New Orleans, I was reminded of Hurricane Irene's assault this time last year on areas near me in the western Catskills. Our bridge went out as did the power for many homes. We weren't prepared then, but I am making sure we are this time.

Our home is not in the flood zone, so my primary concern is the power goes out and it's several days before they are able to get it back on. Working from's Preparing for Disaster check list, I make sure we've got all the essentials -- the candles, batteries, bottled water, etc. -- in case we're holed up in the house for a few days. At first warning, I'm also going to fill up buckets and pots with water so we can flush toilets. If we're lucky and we don't lose power when the storm comes through, I can always use it water the plants.
I've also checked that the tank of our outdoor gas grill is full. Once I'm assured that I can cook, I'm thinking about what to stock in the pantry and even what meals I can prepare in advance and freeze.

What's in your freezer?
Sure, the freezer won't work either if the power goes out. But if you stock it right, you can probably get three full days of meals out of it. Which is exactly why, given all the weather weirdness we've been having, and the increased likelihood that at least once each year we'll be without power, I look at that freezer and what I stock in it very differently than I used to.
My freezer is no longer just a place for frozen desserts and long forgotten leftovers, where good food is packed away for months, sometime years. A few days without power, and the food waste that ensues, and the value of those few cubic feet of freezer space shoots up.
My freezer is now more of an extension of my refrigerator, and the foods I store in it more a part of my week's or month's meal planning. Gone are the year-old dried out cuts of meat, and all but two containers of ice cream. In their place, I'm putting containers of freshly made hearty soups (I've included a recipe below), fresh fish and chicken, and lots of frozen vegetables and fruits. I've even taken to freezing containers of yogurt.

The idea is not to stock the freezer and wait for the power to go out, but rather to continually stock and restock it so that if it does, you are ready with fresh, healthy foods that can be turned into a number of great meals.

Integrating foods from your freezer into your weekly and monthly meal plan is also a good way to reduce food waste. My goal is to use whatever is put in the freezer within three months of putting it there. This way I keep better track of what's there and am sure of its freshness.

Freezing vegetables
I've not typically frozen vegetables from my garden, but I am going to do so this time. Most garden vegetables and fruits freeze well, though a little preparation is necessary to destroy the enzymes and bacteria that break down their nutrients over time. offers very simple recipes for canning, freezing and jarring all your favorite garden produce.
Even tomatoes can be frozen. My neighbor told me of a great way to prepare and freeze fresh tomato puree.

A well stocked pantry
To be fully prepared for an emergency, make sure your pantry and not just your freezer is well stocked too. Keep a ready supply of whole-grain cereals, nuts, seeds and dried fruits, also peanut butter and energy bars. They're a great source of fiber, protein and nutrients.
It's also good to stock up on canned tuna and other seafood products that don't require heat to eat. But as NRDC reports here, seafood can be contaminated with high concentrations of mercury and other toxins, and some varieties of seafood have been overfished or caught in ways that harm marine life, I would recommend buying from Wild Planet Foods. Wild Planet sources only tuna caught by pole or troll catch fisheries -- rated as the best catch methods for tuna by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch® program. Also, their "troll caught tuna from the North Pacific fishery are lower in mercury because these migratory fish are smaller (about 9 to 25 pounds) than the long-line caught older fish that reach up to 70 pounds after ten to fifteen years of growth." Wild Planet canned seafoods are available in a number of stores but you can also buy it online.

Perfect "Power-out" Kale Soup
Now for that recipe for Portuguese kale soup. I got it from a friend, who got it from her sister, who said it makes a massive amount of soup and "gets better each day." Perfect. I'll store it in a few gallon-sized containers and take one out when I need it.
Ingredients (Choose vegetables that are organic, local, or best of all, fresh from your own garden wherever possible)
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup carrots
2 tbls olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed
1 lb chopped potatoes
2 quarts vegetable broth
3 lbs can tomatoes
3 cans kidney beans
1 lb. chopped kale
1/2 lb kielbasa (some like to prick it first and boil a bit to get extra fat out before slicing/chopping)
1/2 cup olives, chopped

Saute onions and carrots in olive oil and garlic clove
Add potatoes and broth. Simmer until potatoes are cooked.
Add tomatoes and kidney beans. Simmer 10-15 minutes.
Add kielbasa and olives. Simmer another 5-10 minutes.
Add kale, salt and pepper to taste. My friend suggests adding the fresh kale to the soup the day you are going to eat it. So if you are going to warm up soup you have frozen, add it as you reheat it.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Aluminum Can Recycling Rate Reaches 65 Percent

Aluminum Can Recycling Rate Reaches 65 Percent

Americans recycled 61 billion cans in 2011, according to new statistics. Photo: Flickr
Aluminum cans are now officially the world’s most recycled beverage container, according to new statistics released by the Aluminum Association, Can Manufacturers Institute and the Institute of Scrap Recycling.

There was a seven percent increase in aluminum can recycling from 2010’s 58.1 percent to 2011’s 65.1 percent figures. The number of recycled aluminum cans doubled that of any other beverage container, including plastic water bottles. This puts the industry on the right track toward reaching its goal of a 75 percent recycling rate by 2015.

“We are excited to have made strong progress toward our goal to increase the aluminum can recycling rate to 75 percent,” said Heidi Brock, president of the Aluminum Association, in a press release. “But we need the help of every American to continue to raise the rate. There is much more work still to be done here in the United States to reach our goal by 2015.”
Recycling 101: Aluminum Cans

Consumer and corporate responsibility are the main factors in ensuring cans are recycled. The industry plans on meeting its 75 percent recycling goal by expanding public information that aluminum is a resource that can be recycled endlessly. Cans that are made from recycled material take 95 percent less energy to manufacture than those manufactured from virgin material.

The energy saved from can recycling in 2011 is the energy equivalent of saving 17 million barrels of crude oil, which is the same amount of energy it takes to produce the 29 billion plastic bottles Americans use each year, according to Allison Buchanan, the Aluminum Association’s can committee chair.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Cat's Meow

From Earth911.  What a great way to reuse that old luggage!

1. Pet Bed

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Follow the Earth

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day Schedule

Happy Labor Day everyone.  Our Administrative offices will be closed today but the Tuscarora Landfill, Newport Transfer Station and Grantsboro Transfer Station will be open on their regular schedules.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Type Casting

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Home Electronics Disposal