Wednesday, October 31, 2012

North America's #1 Recycled Material

North America's #1 Recycled Material


Estimated Tons Recycled By Material Since January 1, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Seven Tricks to Green Halloween

Seven Tricks to Green Halloween

This is a guest post by Michele Berger, an associate editor at Audubon magazine. You can follow her on Twitter.
You can be environmentally friendly without losing the Halloween spirit. Photo: Getty Images

This Halloween, the trick-or-treaters will be out in their ghoulish splendor, scoring sugar-laden loot by the bucketful, then wolfing it down piece by chocolaty piece. All that candy generates one serious bellyache—and some serious waste. But celebrating Halloween doesn’t have to include every established tradition. This year, why not swap one of them for something a little more eco-friendly, say making your own decorations or mixing up some homemade face paint? Here are seven ways to green your Halloween without giving up any of the fun.

1. Trade costumes with friends. Halloween outfits get worn once or twice for a few hours. Swapping with a pal means saving money—the average consumer spends about $30 per costume, according to the National Retail Federation—and it lessens the clothing’s environmental impact. “Swapping half the costumes kids wear at Halloween would reduce annual landfill waste by 6,250 tons,” says Corey Colwell-Lipson, founder of Green Halloween, a non-profit aimed at making Halloween less harmful to the planet. No need for a big soiree to exchange get-ups; bringing together a few people works, too. Search National Costume Swap Day for an event nearby.

2. Cook up face paint in your kitchen. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested 10 face paints for heavy metals in 2009, and the results would spook anyone: All contained low levels of lead, and six had allergens like nickel, chromium, or cobalt. Mixing face paint in your kitchen actually isn’t tough. Start with a thick substance like unscented lotion or pure cocoa butter, then add natural food coloring or edible elements: blueberries for blue, beets for red, cinnamon for brown, you get the idea. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics offers recipes. To prevent adverse reactions, always patch test on the inside of the wearer’s wrist, Colwell-Lipson recommends.

3. Give candy wrappers a second life. If you simply must eat the candy Halloween brings—admittedly, most of us do—try something unique with those Snickers wrappers. For the craft-minded, take on a project like this colorful pouch or these cute barrettes. For a simple solution, send the trash to TerraCycle’s Candy Wrapper Brigade. The company, which donates two cents for every waste unit collected, takes wrappers of any size candy and from any brand. Poof, your garbage becomes a notebook, a tote bag, even a park bench. Since the Brigade began three years ago, nearly 5.5 million wrappers have been upcycled instead of heading to a landfill.

4. Get crafty. Spook your neighbors with your spectacular skill. Colwell-Lipson suggests, for example, making a candy collector from an empty coffee can. “Every year, put the date, what [your child] dressed up as, and a little note until they’re done trick-or-treating,” she says. The craft becomes a family memento. For decorations, get creative: make ghosts from old sheets, tie cobwebs with black yarn, or fill empty jars with colored liquid “specimens.”

5. Stock up on green candy. No need to give up sweets just to lessen your environmental footprint. There’s candy-with-a-cause sold by companies that donate a percentage of profits to charity. Or maybe you focus on organic or fair trade products, which consider environmental impact (the former), as well as economic and social criteria (the latter). You could ditch the treats altogether and instead give out non-food items—what Colwell-Lipson calls treasures—something like seed packets or toys made from recycled materials.

6. Use the whole pumpkin. Purchase one that’s local, preferably from a nearby farmers’ market rather than the grocery. Here it’s helpful to procrastinate; the longer you wait before getting your pumpkin, the longer you have before it rots. Jack-o-lantern pumpkins—those that typically get carved—are edible, but according to the University of Illinois, a smaller variety called the sweet pumpkin is best for cooking. When carving the orange globe, save the innards and seeds for eating, and at the holiday’s end, compost the gourd. (Check out this Audubon blog post for more tips on using the whole pumpkin.)

7. Toss out routine. Try reverse trick-or-treating, a Global Exchange program where children give out fair-trade candy or a note explaining the initiative. Or plan a progressive Halloween with stops at several homes. “Go to each house and have one activity and one treat,” says Colwell-Lipson. For example, drink apple cider and play pass the pumpkin, then move on to the next place for different food and fun.

Dentists are even in on the action, participating in a program that buys back candy from kids then sends it to troops overseas. So no matter how big or small your sweet tooth, there’s a shade of green for you this Halloween.

Monday, October 29, 2012

How to Have a Green -- And Cheap -- Halloween

Top Ways to Go Green This Halloween

How to Have a Green -- And Cheap -- Halloween

recycled witch costume

1. Reuse Costumes

Tap into the treasures hidden in your closet or attic to pull together a fun, no-cost costume (it won’t take any longer than going to the mall, and will be a lot cheaper). Trade costumes with friends and family if you don’t want to wear last year’s get-up. Shop for accessories at yard sales or resale stores. Use your imagination but don’t obsess. The point is to have fun, not be fashionable!

2. Trick and Treat

In lieu of junk food, hand out pencils made from recycled paper, erasers, nickels or dimes – be creative!. My husband used to live in the same neighborhood as baseball legend Casey Stengel – he gave out silver dollars. My neighbor started doling out small cups of apple cider when she realized how much kids love a drink of something when they’re running around like banshees. NatureMoms offers lots of great links to organic lollipops and other fun and healthy treats.

3. Reverse Trick and Treat

Global Exchange is encouraging kids to help educate adults about Fair Trade cocoa by handing Fair Trade chocolates back as they trick or treat. The chocolates are attached to a card explaining why Fair Trade offers an alternative to child labor, low wages for farmers and a healthier environment. Order by October 13.

4. Have a Party

If you opt to celebrate at home in lieu of trick or treating, put out bowls of snacks rather than serve up individual throwaway treat bags. Offer pop corn, hummus and pita chips, carrots and dips, fresh apple cider, bat-shaped cookies and muffins. Kids will enjoy painting pumpkins, decorating cupcakes, reading scary stories, bobbing for apples, and going on “flashlight hunts” in the yard (if the party’s after dark) for hidden Halloween surprises. Send electronic invitations to avoid wasting paper and postage.

5. Decorate with Nature

A trip to your yard or the farmers market will provide everything you need to dress up your house for Halloween: leaves and branches, hay bales, gourds, pumpkins, mums, dried flowers.

6. Light up the Night

If you string lights (especially to keep walkways safe for kids), use strands of LEDs like these fun spider lights. They use much less energy than conventional holiday twinklers. Illuminate carved pumpkins with candles from beeswax or soy. Decorate windows and glass door panes with these beautiful non-toxic window paints from Hearthsong. If kids need flashlights to get around in the dark, try the BOGO light recharged with solar energy.

7. Turn It Over to the Kids

Forget the store-bought hanging witches and skeletons. Have your kids make hand print spiders for the walls and windows. Upcycle egg cartons into bats. Carve and paint pumpkins.

8. Try a New Bag

The best option for candy collectors is last year’s bag; a pillowcase; or a reusable shopping bag with handles. But if you need something new, try the reusable Chico Halloween Bag. Kids will love its spooky design. You’ll love that it only costs $5.

9. Save for Next Year

When Halloween is over, pack up costumes, treat bags, lights, and decorations in one big box or bag. Store everything in an easy-to-find place so next year, you don’t have to start completely from scratch.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Jack-o-Lantern Inside Out

Carving a Jack-o-Lantern this Weekend? Here's How to Cook the Pumpkin Goop!

pumpkin carving
[In his ongoing but sporadic series Don't Throw That Away!, the Green Cheapskate shows you how to repurpose just about anything, saving money and the environment in the process. Send him your repurposing ideas and challenges, but whatever you do, Don't Throw That Away!]

"Jeff, can't we at least celebrate the holiday before you eat the decorations?" I've heard that more than once from my long-suffering wife during our 26-year marriage.
You see, cheapskates like to celebrate Halloween and other holidays just like everyone else. But we grimace at wasteful rituals like throwing away a perfectly good pumpkin after using it for only a few days as a decoration. Americans buy more than one billion pounds of pumpkins at Halloween, and the vast majority of those end up in the trash. But at the Green Cheapskate's house, we eat our jack-o-lantern, every last bit of it.

While some particularly meaty varieties of pumpkins are specifically grown to be eaten (including Sweet Jack-be-Littles, Cheese Pumpkins, Sugar Pumpkins and some delicious heirloom varieties), any commonly available pumpkin is perfectly edible. Best of all, at Halloween (and immediately after Halloween) you can usually buy pumpkins for less than half a buck a pound. At that price, why not pick up a couple extra just to eat?

Pumpkins are a true American vegetable, a favorite of the Aztec, Inca and Mayan people before becoming a staple of early European explorers and settlers in the New World. Pumpkins belong to the same family (Cucurbitacae) as gourds, melons and cucumbers. And, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, pumpkins are packed with beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant that fights cancer.

If you're buying a pumpkin specifically for eating, the smaller ones are usually the best. If you're going to use it as a jack-o'-lantern as well, you can eat or freeze some of the pumpkin when you carve it, and then pickle the remaining rind when Halloween is over, provided that it's still in good shape. So, here's how to eat your jack-o-lantern:

Seeds First
Toasted pumpkin seeds are a healthy snack filled with zinc, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper and protein. They're also great in salads, muffins, bread, and in other recipes as a nut substitute.

Remove the seeds, rinse them in water to get rid of the stringy inner membrane, and dry them out a little on a towel. Flavor with coarse salt for a traditional taste, or let your imagination and spice rack run wild. Some options for flavoring designer seeds include: pumpkin pie spice; Cajun seasonings; ginger powder; garlic salt; curry powder; Tabasco; cinnamon; vinegar and salt. Once seasoned, bake the seeds on a lightly oiled cookie sheet (single layer thick) in a 250-degree oven for about an hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Or, my preferred method is to cook them in a spray-oiled skillet over medium heat on the stove top, stirring and shaking (the skillet, not your booty) constantly. On the stove top, they'll be toasted nicely brown in only about five minutes. Store in air-tight containers.

The Meat of the Matter
The thick, bright orange pulp lining the inside of the pumpkin is the real meat of the matter when it comes to making pies, cakes, bread, soups and most other pumpkin delicacies. Using a large spoon or other sharp-edged instrument, scrape and scoop the pulp from inside the pumpkin, working it down about an inch or so, to the whitish-colored layer beneath the skin. This will leave you with the outer shell to carve as a jack-o'-lantern. If you're not going to get double duty out of your pumpkin as a lantern, then it's easier to slice it as you would a melon and use a knife to peel away the outer skin and white layer.

Once you've extracted the pulp, steam it over a pot of water until it's tender (about 30 minutes or more). Run it through a food processor to puree or mash by hand (add a dash of lemon juice to prevent freezer burn), and freeze it in plastic bags or containers to use later in your favorite recipes. You can also eat the cooked pulp just like squash, but it's even better than squash. Here are some of my favorite pumpkin recipes:
Pumpkin Cider Bisque:
Make a cream soup by melting two tablespoons butter and mixing in 2 tablespoon flour, and then slowly stir in 2 cups of whole milk. Stir constantly over medium heat until thickened. Add one cup pumpkin puree (see above), and heat through. Slowly add 2 cups cider. Correct seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve hot, with a dollop of sour cream, or cold with apple slices to garnish. (4 servings / approx. cost per serving = 30 cents)

Pumpkin Milk Shake:
Try this one as soon as the pulp cools. In a blender, mix 1 cup vanilla ice cream, 1/4 cup milk, 4 tablespoons pumpkin puree, and a dash of any or all of the following: pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, nutmeg, rum extract. (1 serving / approx. cost per serving =35 cents)

Jack-o-Lantern Casserole:
The Green Cheapskate's salute to cosmetic surgery -- truly tongue AND cheek, but pretty tasty. Save the cut-out nose, mouth, eyes, etc. from your jack-o'-lantern carving to decorate this face-shaped casserole. Fry one pound of sausage and one cup of chopped onion on the stovetop until brown. Add two cups of cubed, raw pumpkin pulp (you can get about that much by cutting the pulp off from the bottom of your jack-o'-lantern lid). Cook it for about 5 minutes, until the pumpkin starts to soften.

Stir in one can of condensed Cheddar cheese soup and 1/4 cup milk, and remove from heat. Grease a round or oval casserole baking dish (about face size). In the empty dish, mix two cups Bisquick mix with 3/4 cup water, spreading the dough evenly on the bottom of the dish. Pour meat mixture on top of dough. Sprinkle one cup shredded Cheddar cheese on top of casserole. Spray "face parts" lightly with spray oil, and arrange on top of casserole. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, until face parts are lightly brown and the dough has cooked through. (6 servings / approx. cost per serving = 60 cents)

Truly Smashing Pickled Pumpkin Rinds:
If your lantern survives the night of hell-raising by neighborhood teens and shows no signs of worrisome rot, inordinate candle scorching, or excessive wax buildup, real cheapskates separate themselves from the rest by pickling the rind of their jack-o'-lanterns the day after Halloween. I'm told by Miser Adviser Doris Sharp that this dish is particularly popular in Northern Germany. Here's how:

Peel off the outer skin and cut the white-colored rind (about 1 inch thick) into two inch squares. For each pound of pumpkin, use 3/4 lb sugar, 2 cups vinegar and a piece of fresh ginger. Use a stick of cinnamon for the whole batch of several pounds. Put pumpkin in vinegar and let it soak overnight. Remove the pumpkin from vinegar (discard*) and let it dry on a towel. Bring fresh vinegar to a boil with sugar, ginger and a stick of cinnamon. Add pumpkin and simmer until pieces are translucent and golden yellow, about 3 hours on low heat. Never stir with a spoon; just shake the pot occasionally so the pumpkin doesn't fall apart. Can and seal, or store in the refrigerator for up to a few weeks.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Buy Coffee in Bulk

Do you buy in bulk? The numbers behind this practice say it saves big when it comes to #sustainability and #money.

For example, if Americans dropped prepackaged
#coffee for a full year and went to the bulk foods aisle to get their fix, it would result in a reduction of nearly 240 million pounds in foil packaging.

Coffee : Bag with coffee grains on a white background  Stock Photo

Friday, October 26, 2012

Photo gallery: Earliest trash vehicles through 1929

1920s Open End Dump Body
Waste and Recycling News

While searching through various archives across the country, we found some really sweet rides. Here are some of the earliest iterations of the garbage truck, up until 1929.
The first side-tipping riveted iron
garbage bodies were built for the
city of Milwaukee in the early 1900s.

Workers from the Scavenger Protective Association stuff their wagon with waste from San Francisco in the early 1900s


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Turn Trash into Art

Brazil's 'Catadores' Turn Collected Trash into Beautiful Works of Art

SAP is a well known $18 billion enterprise software company that helps businesses across the world keep their operations running seamlessly. What many of us do not realize is SAP lends its employees to advise non-profits around the world so that they can boost economic opportunities for some of the world’s poorest citizens. One success is in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

As is the case with many cities in Brazil, Belo Horizonte’s urban poor include catadores, itinerant trash collectors who collect garbage from businesses and residential areas. The work is tedious, difficult, dirty and of course, dangerous, but this is the only way some of Belo Horizonte’s catadores can support themselves and their families. Many of spent time in prison or much of their lives in the streets and therefore have no other way to make a living. One non-governmental organization, ASMARE, has connected garbage collectors to the training and social services they need to become more self-reliant professionals. The result is more skills for these catadores, many of whom eventually move into other lines of businesses and build a better life for themselves and their families. Recently a group of SAP employees spent a sabbatical in Belo Horizonte and worked with ASMARE’s staff to create a new communications plan, catalog the organization’s services and redesign its website.

As a result, ASMARE and its partners have even more opportunities to sell more of furniture and art, most of which catadores themselves make out of materials including discarded tires, plastic bottles and magazine scraps. In addition to keeping waste out of Belo Horizonte’s landfills, the art we feature in the following slideshow gives ASMARE a steady revenue stream and for the trash collectors turned artists, self-esteem and hope.
Scrap Metal Figurines

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sports Car Parts Made from Newspaper

Sports Car Parts Made from Newspaper
  For More Pictures go to

Last year, Dutch design label Vij5 made headlines in the green scene for its unique line of furniture and home decor items made from recycled newspaper. The innovative material - appropriately dubbed NewspaperWood by designer Mieke Meijer - was unveiled at an exhibition in Milan last year, where Vij5 designers were approached by French automaker Peugeot. After a year of working together in secret, the two labels unveiled their futuristic concept car - which is on display at the 2012 Paris Motor Show until Oct. 14. Along with super-efficient engine technology, the Peugeot Onyx concept car features NewspaperWood material in its interior - drawing attention from car-lovers and reuse enthusiasts alike.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mercury Products Recycling Grants

State Environmental Officials Announce New Mercury Products Recycling Grants

RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, or DENR, has initiated its first Mercury Products Recycling Grant program to assist local governments in creating or expanding mercury recycling programs for fluorescent lights, thermostats and other mercury-containing products.  

In recent years, millions of compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) have replaced incandescent bulbs in households across the state and nation. CFLs contain a small amount of mercury, typically 3-4 milligrams, similar in quantity to the tip of a ballpoint pen. In addition, households across the state are upgrading their heating and cooling controls from mercury thermostats to programmable thermostats. As CFLs, mercury thermostats and other products containing mercury reach the end of their useful life – and as state officials work to keep mercury and other heavy metals out of landfills – the need for improved recycling options for the public grows.  

The Mercury Products Recycling Grant offers communities throughout the state the opportunity to fund public collection programs, increasing recovery and ensuring proper disposal of mercury-containing products. Collaborative public and private efforts to properly manage mercury-containing products and to minimize the release of mercury into the environment can provide significant long-term health and environmental benefits. This new DENR grant program – administered by the department’s Division of Environmental Assistance and Outreach, or DEAO – is intended to increase the number of recycling centers throughout the state, adding to options such as the CFL recycling services sponsored by public utilities and offered at such retail stores as Lowes and Home Depot stores.
“We strongly encourage counties and municipalities to provide citizens recycling options for mercury-containing products,” said DEAO Director Edythe McKinney. “With financial and technical assistance available from the state, starting a program should be easy and will certainly help to reduce the environmental impacts of mercury pollution.”

For more information about the grant program, city and county government officials interesting in applying for funding should visit DEAO’s Local Government Recycling Assistance grants program webpage
at Questions about the Mercury Products Recycling Grant program can be directed to Sandee Roof at or 919-707-8116.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

Plastic Pants

Levi's newest line of jeans are made partly of recycled water bottles, beer bottles and plastic food trays.

Would you be more likely to buy clothing if it was made with recycled materials?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

MEDIA ADVISORY: Meetings for northern coastal reserves set for October


Contact: Michele Walker
Phone: 919-707-8604

 RALEIGH – Local advisory committees for the Currituck Banks component of the N. C. National Estuarine Research Reserve, Kitty Hawk Woods Coastal Reserve and Buxton Woods Coastal Reserve will meet Oct. 29 and 30. The meetings are open to the public.
The N.C. Division of Coastal Management announced that:

· The Buxton Woods Local Advisory Committee will meet from 3-5 p.m. Oct. 29, at the Buxton Fire Department, N.C. 12, west of the Lighthouse Road intersection, Buxton, N.C.

· The Currituck Banks Local Advisory Committee will meet from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Oct. 30, at the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education, Currituck Heritage Park, 1160 Village Lane, Corolla, N.C.
· The Kitty Hawk Woods Local Advisory Committee will meet from 2-4 p.m. Oct. 30, at the Kitty Hawk Town Hall, 101 Veterans Memorial Drive, Kitty Hawk, N.C.
The committees consist of local residents, partners and leaders who provide the N.C. Division of Coastal Management’s Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve staff with guidance and feedback regarding management of the reserve sites.
The Kitty Hawk Woods and Buxton Woods committees will welcome new members, appointed earlier this year by the secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The new members were selected to represent a diversity of perspectives, including uses and topics related to each individual reserve site, which may include recreational use, traditional use, volunteering, education or research.
The N.C. Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve Program protects natural areas for education, research and compatible recreation. Since its creation in 1989, the program has preserved more than 41,000 acres of unique coastal environments at 10 sites along the coast.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

"Holy Recycled Comics Batman"!

Wham! Old Comic Books are Ripe with Repurposing Potential

Unwanted comic books add catchy and colorful recycled finishes to everyday accessories and d├ęcor.
Those shiny scissors clenched in your hand are mighty powerful indeed, but before you use them to gut that pile of old comic books, remember that for all intents and purposes, those small rectangles of paper are still considered art and ideally should be revered rather than ravaged. If they are in excellent condition, do justice to them by first attempting to sell them to eager collectors via Craigslist, eBay or through a local comic book store.

If you are informed that for some reason your old comic books are less than desirable and/or not worth cold hard cash, at least try donating them to a library, school, children’s summer camp, church, hospital, nursing home, charitable organization, thrift store, etc. You might even leave a few copies in doctor, salon and clinic waiting rooms to put a smile on a stranger’s face.

comic book recycling Wham! Old Comic Books are Ripe with Repurposing Potential
In the event that you do end up with a pile of comics that no one seems to want despite trying your best to spread the magic, go ahead and pull out those glorious metal shears so you can:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Keep Americal Beautiful Prioritizes

Most communities take an integrated approach to managing their waste, employing several tactics in combination for the greatest effectiveness.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has prioritized integrated waste management options in a hierarchy in order of least-to-most environmental impact. Most communities use some or all of these options. Click to learn more about:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Keep America Beautiful Precycles

Keep America Beautiful believes that every consumer makes two important choices that affect the amount of waste in America:

  • What products we choose to buy or use, and

  • How we choose to dispose of the product when finished with it.

At the point of purchase or use, consumers have the opportunity to consider a product, its packaging, how it is constructed, whether it can be reused or recycled, and whether it is made from recycled materials. By choosing recycled, recyclable or reusable products, we can extend the functional life of a product and divert it from the landfill.

Purchasing recycled products also helps by creating a market for the recycled material, "completing the loop." Consumer demand is a powerful factor affecting the waste stream, and our decisions make a huge difference.

Once a product has reached the end of its functional life, consumers decide how it will enter the waste stream. Reusing, recycling or composting waste materials is always the ideal option.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

UPS Getting Greener All the Time

  • UPS Rolls Out Hydraulic Hybrid Delivery Vehicles
  • UPS, hydraulic, hybrid, vehicle, delivery, van, brown, truck, electric
    Photo courtesy of UPS

    As one may imagine, delivery drivers assigned to urban routes spend a great deal of time stuck in traffic jams, meandering through tight corners and stopping frequently on city blocks, which hurts vehicle fuel economy and can lead to increased carbon and particulate emissions.
    To decrease the environmental impact of urban delivery, UPS plans to deploy 40 hydraulic hybrid vehicles (HHVs) as part of a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program, the company announced last week.

    Developed by Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation (FCCC) and Parker Hannifin Corporation, the hybrid delivery vehicles can achieve up to 35 percent improved fuel economy and up to 30 percent CO2 emissions reduction over traditional diesel-powered vehicles that use automatic transmissions in stop-and-go applications.

    Related: UPS Tests Super-Efficient Truck
    Emissions-saving HHVs operate on two power sources – a fuel-efficient diesel combustion engine and advanced series hydraulic hybrid. Energy created by the vehicle's continued braking action is stored in the HHV's hydraulic high-pressure accumulator, similar to what is done with electric motors and batteries in a hybrid electric vehicle (HEV). Through energy-storing technology, HHVs are able to capture and reuse 70 to 80 percent of the otherwise wasted braking energy, according to EPA estimates.

    To further reduce fuel waste, hydraulic hybrid delivery vehicles have a function to turn off the engine and drive the vehicle using the stored energy to propel the vehicle. This engine-off strategy can reduce up to 90 minutes of engine run-time on a typical route, according to UPS.
    The company already has one pilot HHV in operation in Laguna Hills, Calif. and has been working closely with manufacturers to develop and test HHV technology since 2006. Engineers will continue to monitor performance of the most recent HHV deployment in an effort to increase efficiency for a wider roll-out of hydraulic hybrid delivery trucks in the coming years, said Mike Britt, director of alternative fuel vehicle engineering for UPS.
    "I'm very optimistic that the hydraulic hybrid is going to fare well in our system and our vocation," Britt told Earth911. "We've been doing analysis on every mile [our HHVs] have run so far. Of course, there may be some mechanical tweaks we have to do, because it's a new technology - not only to UPS but to our vocation."

    More Crazy Fuel-Saving Inventions: Device Saves Semi Truck Fuel, Cuts Shipping Costs
    The EPA estimates that the additional cost of HHV technology is about $7,000 for the UPS package car. In today’s dollars, the net lifetime savings of this technology in a typical UPS truck, which is used for 20 years, would be over $50,000. If fuel prices continue to increase faster than inflation, the lifetime savings would be even greater, proving how much impact the switch could have on both operational costs and fuel use.

    UPS debuted 20 HHVs in Baltimore last Thursday, and the company plans to roll out the remaining 20 vehicles in Atlanta next month, Britt said.

    Tuesday, October 16, 2012

    A Change of Clothes

    Mind Your Waste infographic

    Monday, October 15, 2012

    Not Just for Fishing Anymore

    Let worms eat your organic waste! They will happily turn it into some of the best fertilizer on earth - worm compost, otherwise known as "worm castings" or "vermicompost."

    Only a few things are needed to make good worm compost: a bin, bedding, worms and worm food. By following the steps listed below, you will learn to make, maintain and use your own worm compost.

    Only a few things are needed to make good worm compost: a bin, bedding, worms and worm food. Photo:
    Only a few things are needed to make good worm compost: a bin, bedding, worms and worm food. Photo:

    Worm Bins

    Your bin needs to be only 8 to 16 inches deep, since compost worms are surface feeders. You can build your own bin by using a washtub, dish pan, used shipping crate or a commercially available worm bin. Just be sure your bin has a lid to keep out flies and rodents. It also needs holes in the bottom (a quarter inch or smaller), for ventilation and drainage.
    The rule of thumb for bin size is two square feet of surface area per person, or one square foot of surface area per pound of food waste per week. Because worms like moderate temperatures, place your bin in a shady location where it will not freeze or overheat. Some good locations include:
    • Kitchen corner
    • Garage
    • Basement
    • Patio
    • Outside the back door
    • Laundry room

    Bedding Materials

    Black and white newspaper is the most readily available and easy-to-use bedding material. Tear it into strips about one inch wide and moisten so it is as damp as a wrung-out sponge. Cow or horse manure can also be used to lighten bedding and absorb excess moisture.
    A handful or two of soil, ground limestone or well-crushed eggshells every few months are good for providing grit and calcium. Fill your bin with moistened bedding, toss in a few handfuls of soil, and you are ready to add the worms and food. Over time, the bedding and food are eaten by the worms and turned into dark worm compost.


    The best kind of worms for composting are "red worms" or "red wigglers." They are often found in old compost piles, but are different from the earthworms you would normally find in the ground. These worms have a big appetite, reproduce quickly and thrive in confinement. They can eat more than their own weight in food every day! When purchasing red worms, one pound is all you need to get started.

    Feeding Your Worms

    Worms like to eat many of the same things we eat, only they aren’t so picky. Some of their favorites include:
    • Stale bread
    • Apple cores
    • Orange peels
    • Lettuce trimmings
    • Coffee grounds
    • Non-greasy leftovers
    • Vegetable scraps
    Begin feeding your worms only a little at a time. As they multiply, you can add larger quantities of food waste. Bury the waste into the bedding regularly, rotating around the bin as you go. When you return to the first spot, most of the food you buried there should have been eaten. If not, don’t worry. Just feed the worms less for a while.

    Sunday, October 14, 2012

    Don't Throw the Towel In

    Help Save 571,230,000 Pounds of Paper Towels

    Photo: Shutterstock
    13 billion pounds of paper towels are used in the U.S. every year. If all Americans used one less paper towel a day, 571,230,000 pounds of paper would be spared over the course of the year. One man has a simple strategy to make it happen.

    Joe Smith, former District Attorney for Oregon's Umatilla County and former chair of the Oregon Democratic Party, unleashed these statistics during March's TEDxConcordiaUPortland event in one of the most straight-forward TEDx talks we've ever stumbled upon.

    The problems with paper towels are many-fold: they don't contain significant amounts of fiber for recycling and when they're dirty or wet, they degrade even further and become non-recyclable. And paper towels soaked in oils, pet or baby waste or other harmful substances should be steered clear of the compost pile.

    We've come across quite a few paper towel alternatives before – simple terrycloth rags, fancy snapping towel sets and, not to be forgotten, the old wipe-your-hands-on-your-pants trick – but Smith's strategy is devilishly simple and comes in handy in workplace and other public restrooms

    Saturday, October 13, 2012

    Chain First to Sell 100 Percent Recycled, US Made Clothing

    Chain First to Sell 100 Percent Recycled, US Made Clothing

    recycling clothing, t-shirt, Eastern Mountain Sports
    SustainU makes 100 percent recycled clothing from pre-consumer cotton and post-consumer polyester. Photo: SustainU

    One person's trash is another consumer’s t-shirt.
    Eastern Mountain Sports, one of the country’s leading sports equipment retailers, recently became the first large national chain to carry 100 percent recycled clothing made in the U.S.
    The clothing is made by manufacturer SustainU, a West Virginia-based company that blends pre-consumer cotton waste and post-consumer polyester comprised primary from plastic bottles and post-industrial polyester scraps into a sustainable textile with a marked decline in carbon footprint thanks to the company’s ban on virgin materials.

    “As an outdoor retailer, Eastern Mountain Sports is committed to doing everything we can to preserve and protect our planet," Eastern Mountain Sports CEO Will Manzer says in a press release. “That's why we're proud to partner with SustainU to reduce the environmental impact of our graphic t-shirts while supporting a small, American business."

    SustainU is about more than creating a sustainable, wearable product, the company says on its website. It’s also about creating manufacturing jobs in the U.S. in states that have been hit hard by the economic collapse.

    “Less than two percent of the clothing sold in the US is actually made here. It is vital that we begin to bring this part of our economy back and the jobs that go with it,” SustainU CEO and founder Chris Yura says in the release.

    The line of t-shirts and sweatshirts has competitive pricing similar to a sports brand like Nike or another U.S. based manufacturer, American Apparel, running between $20 and $40 per item.

    Friday, October 12, 2012

    New N.C. scrap regulations

     New N.C. scrap regulations take effect, irk recyclers

    Scrap recyclers in North Carolina now have to photograph or video record each person selling scrap and pay sellers by check if they bring in any copper or more than $100 worth of other metals.

    The new law went into effect Oct. 1 and several recyclers voiced their displeasure with the new regulations to The Daily News (Jacksonville, N.C.) newspaper.

    The law unfairly targets the scrap metal business and sellers that don't have checking accounts, John Darlington, owner of J&E Salvage told the newspaper. He said he bought $32,000 worth of metal from 212 sellers in one day recently and said taking photos and writing checks extremely slows the process down.

    Law enforcement officials told the newspaper that the new regulations were all about curtailing crime and unscrupulous sellers.

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

    Carolina Beach State Park Marina Takes Recycling Fishing Line Seriously

    Carolina Beach State Park Marina Takes Recycling Fishing Line Seriously

    Island Gazette
    Unusual outdoor recycling container at Carolina Beach State Park Marina is convenient for fishermen.

    Carolina Beach State Park Marina has installed one indoor and two outdoor monofilament line recycling containers in hopes of capturing unwanted fishing line before it becomes litter. North Carolina Big Sweep provided the outdoor fishing line recycling containers, and the marina staff installed them on wooden posts near the fishing areas. The indoor container is located inside the marina. The marina at the 761-acre State park on Pleasure Island provides access “to some of North Carolina’s best fishing spots,” according to “Fishing is big here,” said Chris Helms, State Park superintendent.

    The environment benefits when monofilament line is recycled, because monofilament line is non-biodegradable and lasts up to 600 years. It’s thin and usually clear, so animals have difficulty seeing it and can easily become entangled in it. A certified Clean Marina, Carolina Beach State Park Marina wants to keep fishing line out of the environment to protect birds and turtles. Helms, a 20-year veteran in State Parks, said he was stationed at Lake Waccamaw State Park when he saw a barred owl hanging upside down in a “mess” of fishing line. The good news back then was that they were able to rescue it in time, and the owl was later released alive. That is not always how it works out. Since 2000, Big Sweep volunteers reported only nine of the 32 animals entangled in fishing line could be released alive.

    Funded by Southeast Atlantic Marine Debris Initiative and NOAA, the goal of this Big Sweep project is to reduce the harmful effects of monofilament line by providing a recycling container to each of the 15 Clean Marinas selected to participate in the project. In return for receiving a free recycling container, marina staff agree to regularly maintain the container as often as needed and to keep record of how much monofilament line is being recycled. The Clean Marina program and its companion, Clean Boating, are voluntary, non-regulatory programs coordinated by the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management. The Clean Marina program’s purpose is to give recognition to those marinas and boatyards that manage their facilities using Best Management Practices (BMP’s) and environmentally responsible efforts. N.C. Big Sweep, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was originally founded in 1987 as Beach Sweep, an initiative to remove unsightly and harmful litter from the state’s coastline. It expanded inland in 1989 and was renamed Big Sweep, becoming the nation’s first statewide waterway cleanup. Its mission expanded in 2002 from litter-free waters to a litter-free environment. During its 25-year history, almost 320,000 Big Sweep volunteers have retrieved over 10.7 million pounds of debris—which is the visual equivalent of more than 26,000 football fields five feet deep in debris.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

    Jennette's Pier LEEDS the Way

    Jennette's Pier Awarded Prestigious Green Building Certification

    RALEIGH - The Aquariums Division of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources announced today that Jennette’s Pier has achieved the LEED Platinum rating, the highest designation established by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute.
    A ceremony to celebrate this achievement will be held in Oceanview Hall at Jennette’s Pier at 4 p.m. Oct. 18. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.
    According to David R. Griffin, director of the N.C. Aquariums, this award is meaningful to the aquariums and the state.
    “I’m very pleased that we were able to construct a state-of-the-art, sustainable facility that employs so many green technologies,” Griffin said. “Both the department and division wanted to lead the state in demonstrating the viability of sustainable design and clean energy technologies, and we’ve met that goal.”
    Jennette’s Pier achieved LEED certification for sustainable strategies including energy use, lighting, water and material use. 
    By using less energy and water, a LEED-certified building saves money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduces greenhouse gas emissions; and contributes to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community, said Laura Deaton Klauke, executive director of the N.C. Triangle Chapter of the USGBC.
    “LEED Platinum is a tremendous achievement for the aquariums and is a concrete example of good stewardship of the state’s environmental resources,” she said. “Jennette’s Pier and the aquariums provide a fantastic and healthy place for all North Carolinians and our coastal visitors to learn and play.
    “They created that space by eliminating waste and inefficiencies. The certification signifies the commitment to sustainability of the aquariums’ management and building team. But it is also recognition of our state and its leadership in building for the future.”
    LEED certification of Jennette’s Pier was based on several green design and construction features that positively impact the project and the community. These features include:
    · three Bergey Excel-S wind turbines;
    · a reclaimed water system that reduces dependence on municipal water;
    · a closed-loop, geothermal heating and cooling system;
    · locally-sourced building materials;
    · passive solar building design;
    · efficient lighting sources such as LEDs and compact fluorescents;
    · photovoltaic solar panels;
    · a rainwater collection system with two cisterns; and
    · a comprehensive recycling program.
    For more information about Jennette’s Pier, visit or call 252-255-1501.

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