Monday, March 31, 2014

Pallet Recycling

Pallet Recycling / What is a Pallet?

A pallet is a flat structure used for transporting goods while being lifted by a forklift or a pallet jack or any other similar jacking device. A pallet is sometimes called a skid. A pallet is usually the foundation of a unit load design. Pallets can be made of wood, metal, plastic, and even paper.

pallet recycling

The expanding use of containerization for the transport of goods has also resulted in the increased use of pallets because containers have level and clean surfaces ideally suited for the movement and storage of loaded pallets.

Most pallets have a load bearing capacity easily exceeding 1000 kilograms which is roughly equivalent to 2000 pounds.

Each year over a half a billion pallets are manufactured and in the United States alone more than 2 billion pallets are in use.

Pallets make transport more efficient and cost effective because goods can be moved faster and with less manpower. Organizations that use pallets for transport generally have lower costs for handling and transportation than organizations that don’t use pallets.

Pallet Recycling / Why Recycle Pallets?

In the Unites States only home construction uses more new wood than the construction of pallets. A pallet sometimes has a very limited useful life. It has to meet specifications to continue to be useful.

Once damage occurs they are simply cast aside.

Recycling wooden pallets can actually be more cost beneficial to a company because of the reduction of initial production costs. Recycled wooden pallets often prove to stronger and stiffer because the wood is seasoned already and can be stronger than boards used for the first time.

Stronger boards can resist breaking and therefore can result in less damaged goods and breakage and can also result in less injury to personnel.

Pallet Recycling / Getting Creative

So what can one do with used pallets? Actually if you possess a creative mind and a proactive spirit there are a number of things you can do.

Here are just a few ideas:

1. Build a fence.

2. Create an out door stairway to your treehouse.

3. Break it down and make a birdhouse.

4. Create a platform or your potted flowers.

5. Make a compost bin.

Pallet Recycling / Added Benefits to the Environment

Recycled wood is often dryer and contains less water than new boards which means less corrosion, mold, and mildew. This can increase both the life of the pallet and the goods they hold. Of course the most benefit from using recycled wood is to the environment and the enormous saving of valuable natural resources.

Plastic pallets can also be recycled. Crumbling devices can turn old discarded plastic pallets into plastic pellets that can be remanufactured into playground equipment, floor mats, molded landscape accessories, and patio furniture.

The costs are of course higher because of the cost of the special machinery but the cost to the environment can be higher if these discarded pallets then end up in landfills

Sunday, March 30, 2014

More interesting recycling facts

Interesting Recycling Facts / Metal

◾Recycling steel and tin cans saves 74 percent of the energy used to make them.
◾Americans throw away enough aluminum every month to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet.
◾Americans throw out enough iron and steel to continuously supply all the auto makers in the entire nation.
◾A steel mill using recycled scrap reduces water pollution, air pollution, and mining waste by about 70 percent.
◾When you throw away an aluminum can you waste as much energy as if you’d filled the can half full of gasoline and poured it into the ground.
◾Americans use 100 million tin and steel cans each day.
◾Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a 100 watt light bulb for 20 hours, a computer for 3 hours, and a TV for 2 hours.

Interesting Recycling Facts / Plastic

◾Enough plastic is produced in the United States each year to shrink wrap Texas.
◾In 1998 Americans used 2 billion pounds of HDPE to make plastic bottles for household products. That’s the equivalent weight of 90,000 Honda civics.
◾Approximately 88 percent of the energy is saved when plastic is made from plastic rather than from the raw materials of gas and oil.
◾Enough plastic bottles are thrown away in the United States each year to circle the Earth four times.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Interesting Recycling Facts

Interesting Recycling Facts

◾A running faucet wastes 2.5 gallons of water each minute.
◾A dishwasher uses 11 gallons of water per use.
◾75 percent of all water used in the household is used in the bathroom.
◾A toilet made in 1992 or earlier uses up to 60 percent more water per flush than newer high efficiency toilets.
◾Turning of the tap while brushing your teeth in the morning and before bedtimes can save up to 8 gallons per day. This is a savings of 240 gallons per month.
◾Running your faucet for 5 minutes uses up enough energy to run a 60 watt light bulb for 14 hours.
◾A full bath tub uses 70 gallons of water. A 5 minute shower only uses 10-25 gallons.

Interesting Recycling Facts / Paper

◾Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 mature trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 2 barrels of oil, and 4000 kilowatt hours of electricity. This is enough energy to power the average American home for 5 months.
◾The process of recycling paper instead of making it from new materials generates 74 percent less air pollution and uses 50 percent less water.
◾Manufacturing recycled paper uses 60 percent of the energy needed to make paper from new materials.
◾Over 73 percent of all newspapers are recovered for recycling. About 33 percent of this is used to make newsprint the rest is used to make paperboard, tissue, or insulation.
◾A little more than 48 percent of all office paper is recycled. This is used to make writing papers, paperboard, tissue, and insulation.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Wild bees are recycling plastic, study finds

Russell McLendon

Science journalist blogs about humans and other wildlife.

Wild bees are recycling plastic, study finds

Plastic is piling up in ecosystems all over the world, not just oceans and lakes. Its harmful effects on wildlife have been widely documented, but a few animals — like bowerbirds and hermit crabs — are doing what they can to recycle it. And according to a new study, wild bees in Canada have joined the effort, using bits of plastic waste to build their nests.

These tiny insects can't recycle nearly enough plastic to put a significant dent in the problem, but their resourceful use of polyurethane and polyethylene is still a rare, encouraging example of nature making the best of manmade plastic pollution.

"Plastic waste pervades the global landscape," the study's authors write in the journal Ecosphere. "Although adverse impacts on both species and ecosystems have been documented, there are few observations of behavioral flexibility and adaptation in species, especially insects, to increasingly plastic-rich environments."

The researchers found two species of leafcutter bees incorporating plastic into their nests, each bringing home varieties that mimic the natural materials they traditionally use. Leafcutter bees don't build big colonies or store honey like honeybees, opting instead for small nests in underground holes, tree cavities or crevices in buildings.

One of the bees they studied, the alfalfa leafcutter, normally bites off pieces of leaves and flowers to make its nests. But the researchers found that three of eight brood cells contained fragments of polyethylene plastic bags, replacing 23 percent of the cut leaves in each cell on average. "All pieces were of the same white glossy color and 'plastic bag' consistency," the researchers report, "and thus presumably from the same source."

While they don't make honey, alfalfa leafcutter bees still make money for U.S. and Canadian farmers by pollinating crops including alfalfa, carrots, canola and melons. The Eurasian insects were introduced to North Amerca in the 1930s for that purpose, and they've since become feral, joining the continent's many native species of leafcutter bees.

The researchers also examined a second bee, the native American Megachile campanulae, which normally gathers resins and saps from trees to build its nests. Along with those natural nest materials, the species was found using polyurethane sealants in two of seven brood cells. These sealants are common on exteriors of buildings, but since they were surrounded by natural resins in M. campanulae nests, the researchers say bees may be using them incidentally and not due to a lack of natural resin options.

"It is interesting to note that in both bee species, the type of plastic used structurally reflects the native nesting material," the researchers added, "suggesting that nesting material structure is more important than chemical or other innate traits of the material."

Plastic can have both advantages and disadvantages in bees' nests, the study suggests. The bees that used bits of plastic bags didn't suffer any parasite outbreaks, for example, echoing a 1970 study of alfalfa leafcutters that nested inside plastic drinking straws. Those bees were never attacked by parasitic wasps, which were unable to sting through the plastic, but up to 90 percent of their brood still died because the plastic didn't let enough moisture escape, encouraging the growth of dangerous mold.

The plastic bags also didn't stick together as well as leaves do, the researchers note, and easily flaked off when they were inspected. But the bees took steps to minimize this structural deficiency, locating their plastic pieces only near the end of a series of brood cells. Because of this, and the blending of manmade with natural materials, "bee naivete does not appear to be the cause for the use of plastic," the study suggests.

It's still unclear why exactly leafcutter bees are using plastic, but as non-biodegradable materials continue piling up in nature, this kind of behavior could become increasingly important. "Although perhaps incidentally collected," the researchers write, "the novel use of plastics in the nests of bees could reflect ecologically adaptive traits necessary for survival in an increasingly human-dominated environment."

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The American Meal: The Massive Waste it has Become.

Feature from Aaron Styles

The American Meal: The Massive Waste it has Become.

We talk of sustainability, healthy, and green every day. We try our best to manage what we use, what we don’t, and what we throw away… everywhere but at the table at our favorite restaurant.

Here we want to throw off the restrictions, the cares, and the woes of everyday life and treat ourselves and our children to a nice meal we didn’t have to cook and don’t have to clean up after. The problem is, it’s not just a treat anymore and the modern American family eats out more than it eats at home. So began the restaurant wars.

And what a war it is. Bigger, cheesier, and cheaper. Portions so large; few of us can actually eat it all. However, that is not going to deter us from getting it all, now or later. Having stuffed our faces until we can stuff them no more, we get ahold of the to-go-box and cram it full with everything we couldn’t get down in one sitting; then we take it home to top us off later while we stretch out on our favorite chair and watch American Idol.

Here’s where it gets a little sticky… pun intended. The fact of the matter is, more than half of what we take home ends up in the trash. While some restaurants have a food waste-recycling program (not enough of them by the way), at home you don’t. You simply step on the little black pedal and the trash lid opens and in the trash it goes. With all the other items from the refrigerator or pantry that never made there way into your families’ bellies.

The American Meal: The Massive Waste it has Become.

Perhaps, and this is just a thought, if you can’t eat it all, let the restaurant dispose of it wisely. If you know the portion is too big… simply order a smaller one. That way we all use less, dispose of less, and magically… we all spend less on food, clothes, and maybe even avoid the onset of type 2 diabetes.

I could get more into the benefits of eating smarter and less, but that’s for you and your mirror to decide.

Restaurants produce millions of pounds of food waste everyday. They pile it in trash dumpsters and send it to the landfill. The most disturbing part of this is, they don’t have to. There are companies out there that can help them with this problem. Quest Resource Management Group for example, will actually take it away and turn in into something useful, like compost.

The American Meal

But just like only eating what you can in one sitting and not taking the rest home makes us feel somewhat cheated, the same goes for the restaurants … they would rather do what they know, which is pile your plate higher and higher for less money. Then they throw what we all know was a waste from the start into the trash and pay someone to take it to the landfill. The worst part of all, is that very little of what is thrown away is actually trash and can be used for so much more.

Want to reduce the amount of landfill? Don’t eat so much. Every time you take your family out to dinner, ask your favorite restaurants to offer human sized portions and not just JUMBO. Perhaps, the more of us that ask, the more they will listen and start to offer them as a regular menu item. At the very least, eat what you can and choose to patronize establishments that dispose of their waste responsibly. After all, it takes consumers to encourage change. The most powerful weapon in the world is that little piece of plastic in your wallet …wield it wisely.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Trend to Watch: How Restaurants Are Fighting Food Waste

Quick Bit from Mary Mazzoni

Forty percent of all edible food goes to waste (PDF) in the U.S., and recent studies show that a staggering 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted annually worldwide.

Food turns to garbage at all stages of production and consumption — from fields and storage facilities to our own homes. But with back-alley dumpsters filled with rotting food, the restaurant industry is one of the most recognizable areas of food waste, drawing increasing attention from both advocacy groups and average diners.

According to a 2005 University of Arizona study (PDF), nearly 135 million pounds of food is wasted at American fast food and full-service restaurants every day. On average, a single restaurant can produce 75,000 pounds of garbage annually.

The Food Waste Reduction Alliance, a partnership between the National Restaurant Association (NRA), Grocery Manufacturers Association and Food Marketing Institute, is seeking to shrink restaurant waste totals through efficient food donations, better use of product and more widespread composting.

About 13 percent of restaurants already participate in composting programs, according to the NRA, but many eateries are taking things a step further.

Darden Restaurants, which includes popular eateries such as Olive Garden and Red Lobster, set a long-term goal of zero waste in its latest sustainability report (downloadable as a PDF). Meanwhile, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver recently opened a pop-up restaurant in London’s theater district that enforces a strict zero-waste policy, and sandwich chain Hannah’s Bretzel is making significant steps toward zero-waste at its four downtown Chicago locations.

In a recent post on Triple Pundit, Jacquelyn Ottman, founder and principal of J. Ottman Consulting Inc., the firm behind, asserts that restaurants that can proactively address diners’ needs concerning waste have “particular opportunities to enhance revenues, profits and image.”

Ottman points to surveys conducted by her firm that show environmentally preferable options would help make diners “feel better” about their restaurant choices.

So, what do you think? Are you more likely to eat at a restaurant with environmentally friendly practices? Tell us about it in the comments.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

10 Uses For Wilted Roses

10 Uses For Wilted Roses

from Mary Mazzoni 

June is National Rose Month, and there’s no better way to celebrate than to discover the loads of DIY projects for the rose beyond vases and potpourri.

1. Use them for gift wrap

The next time you’re wrapping a gift, skip the tissue paper, and use rose petals instead.

The pretty surprise adds a touch of elegance to your gifts – and a lovely scent, too. This method is perfect for wedding gifts, and it’s a great reuse option for rehearsal dinner centerpieces – if you’re willing to save gift wrapping for the last minute.

Collect the roses from each centerpiece (or any that are beginning to wilt in your garden or house if you’re doing this at home). Gently pull out the petals, and lay them out to dry if desired. You can use dried petals or fresh ones for this.

2. Make surprising candies

Candied rose petals, violets and other flowers have been considered delicacies by French confectioners for hundreds of years. They are eaten alone or used as edible decorations for cakes and parfaits.

Check out this recipe, courtesy of esteemed French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten in Food & Wine magazine. Simply line a baking sheet with wax paper. Pour one-half cup of sugar into a bowl, and lightly whisk one large egg yolk in another (you can use an egg substitute to make these candies vegan-friendly). Brush both sides of each petal with the egg yolk and dip them in the sugar. Let them sit on the wax paper until they dry, and your candies are ready to enjoy!

Make sure to rinse your rose petals well, and it’s best to use roses from your garden for this. Roses or rose petals from a florist can often contain pesticides and other chemicals that can be difficult to wash off.

3. Freshen your drawers

Rose petals retain their sweet scent for weeks. So, they’re perfect for adding a little freshness to your drawers or linen closets. Take a sock without a mate and fill it with a handful of dried rose petals. Fold the sock over so the petals won’t fall out, and place your little homemade deodorizer anywhere in the house. These are great for the car, too.

4. Design homemade cards

Nothing says you care like a homemade card. And adorning cards with flower petals from your garden gives an added personal touch.

When your clipped roses start to wilt, pluck out the petals, and lay them down flat to dry. Experiment with varying stages of dryness. If the petals are too dry, they may start to break apart and won’t attach to your card very well. If the petals are still fairly fresh, they’ll add a subtly sweet fragrance to your card.

Attach the petals to cardstock or the recycled paper of your choice with non-toxic glue. This is also a great chance to use the stems and leaves from your rose clippings for creative designs.

5. Spice up your fruit salads

Rose petals add a sweet and floral flavor to fruit salads, and they’re sure to get people talking at any summer soiree.

Toss the petals in with your usual fruit salad recipe, or try a new layered creation. Line the bottom of a clear glass bowl with your favorite fruits, and place a layer of rose petals on top. Follow with a layer of granola and top with whipped cream or yogurt. Repeat twice more for a tri-layered treat, and use some rose petals for decoration on top.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Food Opera

Growing your own food is a liberating feat of self-sufficiency. It also helps you save money and shrink the footprint of your nightly meals. If you’re new to gardening or have a small space to work with, growing your own herbs is an easy place to start.

To help you plant your new herb garden in style, check out these 10 awesome ideas made from recycled materials that will work for a windowsill, balcony or backyard.

Themed kitchen gardens are an easy way to start growing ingredients for some of your favorite meals at home. To give it a try, simply choose a theme or recipe you cook often and plan your herb garden accordingly.

Graphics teacher and foodie Vanessa Opera, who operates the blog FoodOpera with her sister Ingrid, chose a “pizza garden” theme and planted herbs like oregano, sage and pizza thyme for use in the tasty Italian favorite.

Made from upcycled milk formula tins, her adorable planters are versatile enough for all types of herbs – meaning all that’s left to do is decide on your garden theme. Choose a general cuisine category, such as an Italian or Mexican theme, or go with something more specific like a fun “salsa garden.” Get creative!

Get step-by-step instructions on how to make these yourself at FoodOpera.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cross-Country Road Trip to Follow Your Trash

Couple Takes a Cross-Country Road Trip to Follow Your Trash

Feature from Kathryn Sukalich 

Road Trip
Husband and wife team Philip Corrigan and Margaret Morales took a unique road trip last summer to investigate where our trash goes. Photo: The Trash Blog

Is taking a cross-country road trip on your bucket list? How about a trip that stops at more than 100 landfills, recycling centers and other waste related places around the United States? That’s exactly the kind of trip that Philip Corrigan and Margaret Morales took this past summer to investigate what happens to our trash after we throw it away, and they chronicled their trip over at their website, The Trash Blog.

After Morales worked on a documentary about an artist who employed reused materials in her work, the pair began pondering where exactly “away” is when we throw things away. Many times our trash will travel significant distances before reaching a landfill – Corrigan discovered that in Washington where he grew up his was often driven all the way to Oregon for disposal – and this seemed troubling to the couple. Corrigan also did some work with the homeless community, which made him reconsider what he thought of as waste.

“I was doing some work in social work, particularly with homeless individuals, and something I noticed among the people I worked with is that they always knew what to do with garbage. It was not garbage to them. They had a use for almost everything,” Corrigan said.

The idea of a road trip had always appealed to the pair, and after ruminating on their experiences with waste, the couple decided to make their road trip about exploring where waste goes. They planned a trip that would visit artists, activists, governments, businesses, researchers and anyone else who might have an interesting connection to our trash. Then, over three and a half months, they drove 15,000 miles through 26 states to ask questions and gather information about the way we deal with waste.

Tracing Your Trash

Road Trip, Waste
Much of your trash does go to landfills, like this one in Vancouver. The Trash Blog travels to many other waste-related places, too.

For most of the places Corrigan and Morales visited, they wrote at least one post for their blog about their experience and observations. They categorize their visits by both method of disposal and material, and a handy map shows each of the stops they made. Their travels suggest just how many different places waste ends up and make readers question what exactly is “waste” in the first place.

While the pair did visit landfills and other places that deal with things that can’t easily be reused, their trip also took them to many places that help keep waste out of landfills.

One such place was a recycling center in Seattle, which Corrigan said stood out to them because of the partnership the facility had with a drug and alcohol treatment center. The facility employed people enrolled in the program, which helped those people earn money.

Reuse was also a theme of many visits. “Scrap stores” that sell reused materials to artists and other community members were an interesting example of the secondhand economy, Morales explained. Other reuse ideas were even more interesting:

“One thing that I got really interested in when it comes to reuse is actually deconstruction work,” Morales said. “People who know that a house is going to be demolished, they go in there and try to salvage whatever they can: cabinets, windows, doorknobs. There was a guy in Connecticut who made a store that was kind of like a scrap store but with all this stuff he had salvaged from buildings…There is just so much of this waste. There’s already so much energy that’s gone into these building materials. Turning them away is such a waste.”

Corrigan and Morales visited the sculptures of artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi who makes art from trash that washes up on West Coast beaches.

Plenty of unconventional uses for waste pop up in The Trash Blog, too. Corrigan and Morales also visited a number of artists and art projects that make use of our waste including a woman in Oregon who builds large sculptures of sea creatures from litter that washes up on beaches and an artist-in-residency program in the Bay Area where participants actually recover all their materials from the city’s waste stream

Saturday, March 22, 2014


“The Green Square Complex will strive for a LEED certification level of Gold for both the DENR Office Building and the Nature Research Center.”

LEED Certification

U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a consensus driven, committee-based, nonprofit organization started in 1993. The USGBC provides LEED certification and registration for buildings and LEED accreditation for people.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Green Building Rating System® is administered by the USGBC to assess building performance and sustainability goals. It addresses facility design considerations for sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. The LEED for New Construction and Renovation (LEEDNC), Version 2.2 was originally developed for new office buildings and is the most common green building rating system used nationwide. LEED Certification does many things for a building including: establishes metrics for the sustainability of a building, holds the design and construction teams accountable for their performance and functions as a valuable marketing tool.

LEED-NC requires seven prerequisites including:
•Erosion and Sedimentation Control
•Minimum Energy Performance - meet ASHRAE 90.1-2004 Energy Standard
•Refrigerant Usage Including No CFCs
•Onsite Recycling
•Minimum Ventilation Performance - meet ASHRAE 62-2004 Ventilation Standard
•Environmental Tobacco Smoke Control

The Green Square Complex will strive for a LEED certification level of Gold for both the DENR Office Building and the Nature Research Center.

In addition to the above prerequisites all LEED Projects are required to achieve two Energy Credits. This requires a 14 percent savings in energy cost over the ASHRAE 90.1-2004 Energy Standard for New Construction projects, and a 7 percent energy cost savings for Existing Building Renovation projects. Energy modeling is required in order to achieve these two points.

Friday, March 21, 2014

BridgePointe Marina Certified as a North Carolina Clean Marina

BridgePointe Marina Certified as a North Carolina Clean Marina

RALEIGH – The BridgePointe Marina in New Bern is the newest facility to be certified as a North Carolina Clean Marina, a designation given to marinas that exceed minimum regulatory requirements.

The Clean Marina program illustrates how marina operators can help safeguard the environment by using management and operation techniques that exceed environmental requirements. To earn the certification, the marina’s owners prepare spill prevention plans and conduct safety and emergency planning. Marina operators also control boat maintenance activities to protect water quality.

Clean Marina is a voluntary program in which marina operators who choose to participate must complete an evaluation form about their use of specific best management practices. If a marina meets criteria developed by the N.C. Division of Coastal Management, it will be designated as a Clean Marina. Such marinas are eligible to fly the Clean Marina flag and use the logo in their advertising. The flags signal to boaters that a marina cares about the cleanliness of area waterways.

Clean Marina is a nationwide program developed by the National Marine Environmental Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to clean up waterways for better recreational boating. The foundation encourages states to adapt Clean Marina principles to fit their own needs.

The North Carolina program is a partnership between the N.C. Division of Coastal Management, N.C. Boating Industry Services, the N.C. Marine Trade Association, the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program, N.C. Sea Grant, the U.S. Power Squadron, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and N.C. Big Sweep.

For more information, contact Pat Durrett, with the N.C. Division of Coastal Management, at (252) 808-2808.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Recycling Responsibilities for Children

Recycling chores offer the benefit of teaching your child about going green and conserving resources.

Recycling is a great chore for children depending on their age. Chores are an important way for children to learn about responsibility, working together as a family, and earning and managing money. Recycling chores offer the added benefit of teaching your child about going green and conserving resources.

My children have always been involved in recycling in our house. Since my kids were old enough to toddle over to the trash can, I have been instructing them, “That is plastic. It can be recycled and they can make new plastic out of it.” They quickly learned what could be put in the recycling bin and what could be put in the trash, as well as what things are made out of.

When the whole family is involved in daily recycling, it keeps us all on our toes. My daughter will sometimes catch my husband in the act of throwing away a recyclable and she lets him know. My kids also come with me to drop off our recycling so they know exactly what goes where and how the collection process works.

Now that my kids are 5 and 7, I have put them in charge of recycling duties in our house. They are going beyond daily participation and helping me do the weekly sorting of the recycling into plastic, paper, cardboard, glass and cans. I still supervise the process because my youngest needs a little guidance. You may choose to give your child a small allowance based on the amount of help he or she is giving, or let the children collect the deposit money if your state is one that participates in that program.

Recycling chores are great for giving children a real understanding of responsibility. The importance of going green is also made clear to a child when they begin to see how all of our waste adds up in our recycling bin and in the community drop off area. Recycling is a chore that provides satisfaction by contributing in a valuable way to the house and to the community.

Older kids may also enjoy signing on to, the recycling rewards program. By creating an account and reporting your recycling, you can earn points for groceries and other household goods. SC Johnson has actually partnered with Recyclebank for the SC Johnson Green Choices Recycling Challenge, where 50 communities, one in each state, are competing to increase their recycling participation rate.

Having your child pitch in with the recycling chores is a great way to pass on your passion for being green. Do your kids help you go green?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Cut your teeth on this

Old Toothbrushes, Yogurt Cups and Cell Phones Become Activewear

News from Kathryn Sukalich 

You may not be shocked to hear jeans or T-Shirts can be made from plastic bottles since recycled polyester is becoming increasingly common. One company, though, takes recycling plastic into clothing to a new level.

Kenai Sports of New Britain, Conn., is an athletic apparel company that partners with landfills across the country to turn all sorts of plastic waste – cell phones, yogurt cups, keyboards and even old toothbrushes – into high-performance gear. The company makes T-Shirts, jerseys, jackets and other clothing items for corporations, athletic programs, police departments and nonprofits. Their work over the past year has allowed them to develop fabrics that can withstand tough conditions, while at the same time keeping waste out of landfills.

Kenai Sports recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to make their products more widely available to the public. If the project raises enough money, Kenai plans to upcycle 10 football fields-worth of plastic trash into moisture-wicking yoga pants and breathable zip-tops.

The company’s pants and tops all come with a 10-year warranty. Plus, since styles change over time, supporters of the initial project will be able to send their garments back to the company in exchange for a discount on new styles. This old activewear won’t go to waste.

“Your original purchase won’t be rotting away in a landfill – after we receive the clothing, we’re going to ‘close the loop.’ That means we’ll be re-purposing the fabric for a variety of uses, from new clothing to home insulation and more,” explains Kenai’s Kickstarter page.

Americans generate enough plastic waste to fill a stadium like Boston’s Fenway Park to the brim 26 times each year, according to Kenai. Finding another way to reuse that waste – especially 10 football fields worth of it – can help make a dent in that number

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mr. Green Jeans

1 Pair of Green Jeans Keeps 10 Water Bottles from Landfills

Dirtball apparel is made from pre-consumer recycled cotton and plastic water bottles. Photo: Dirtball
Dirtball apparel is made from pre-consumer recycled cotton and plastic water bottles. Photo: Dirtball

There’s nothing dirty about Dirtball, which makes clean, green clothes — and now, thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, they’ve added jeans to the mix.

The North Carolina-based apparel company has been creating what it calls “100 percent eco-friendly clothing” since 2008 — and lightening the load in the landfills in the process. The company’s line of recycled cotton and polyester gear has grown to include T-shirts, polo shirts, hats, beanies, hoodies, shorts and socks.

In September, the company expanded its line by adding the Green Jean to its offerings. A Kickstarter campaign successfully raised more than $40,000 to help Dirtball launch the line of eco-friendly jeans, which are made from a combination of recycled pre-consumer cotton and between eight and 10 water bottles. The first jeans began shipping Nov. 15.

Dirtball founder and CEO Joe Fox estimates that every 100,000 pairs of jeans they make diverts about 900,000 water bottles from landfills.

All the Dirtball apparel is made in America — and made at least partially from plastic water bottles. For example, a T-shirt is made from seven 16-ounce bottles, and each polo shirt represents nine bottles that won’t make it to the landfill. Hoodies and shorts are particularly good for the environment, with a standard hoodie using up to 45 water bottles, and the shorts — which are built for active performance like biking, mountain climbing and skating — each saving about 40 bottles. Shirts are printed with water-based or thiolate-free ink, and every 100,000 T-shirts they make keeps about 14,000 pounds of cotton scrap from being dumped.

The cotton used in Dirtball products is recycled pre-consumer product, which eliminates the manual labor and the land use required for conventionally grown cotton.

In addition to being made from recycled materials, all the clothing is recyclable and can be returned to Dirtball in any condition to be made into new clothing — which will also get you a discount on new clothes.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Go Green on Saint Patrick's Day

Go Green on Saint Patrick's Day

According to, Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year. Even if your environmental footprint is the size of a leprechaun’s, it’s likely that you donated more than usual to the landfill. So for this St. Patrick’s Day, why not turn over a new leaf, or four-leaf-clover?

Decorate for the holiday by making a wreath made out of old green t-shirts, denim, tablecloths, tea towels, curtains and any other upcycled material that’s taking up space. You’ll need a wire wreath frame, which you can recycle later, fabric shears and your collection of fabric. Cut the fabric into small strips and tie onto the wire until it covers every inch. Once you’ve pre-cut the fabric, this project becomes kid-friendly and parent-friendly since no glue or messy paint are required.

Consider using green beverage bottles and add lights to create fun ambiance or swap out your vases for green ones by spray-painting old bottles to add pops of green color in every room. Don’t forget to use an eco-friendly spray paint that’s free of CFCs!

Green your food

Dedicate your meals to your city by only cooking with locally-grown produce. By doing so you’ll donate your dollars to the local economy and enjoy fresher food that hasn’t been shipped from thousands of miles away – saving the atmosphere from more pollution.

Make it a fun project for the kids and dye your food green using natural ingredients. By following these instructions, you can make a green dye at home using matcha powder, spirulina, powder, parsley juice, wheat grass juice, spinach juice, spinach powder or parsley powder.

Green your beer

No kids allowed for this one. Pledge to drink locally-brewed beer while celebrating the holiday. Again, you’ll be a hometown hero for contributing to your local economy while sipping on a cold one. Take it a step further by drinking draught beer instead of bottles since not all bars and restaurants recycle glass. Cheers!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Top Ten Types of Debris Littering the Oceans

The 2012 International Coastal Cleanup involved 561,633 volunteers in a worldwide effort that removed 10.15 million pounds of garbage from our oceans.


Debris items


1. Cigarettes/cigarette filters 2,117,931
2. Food wrappers/containers 1,140,222
3. Beverage bottles (plastic) 1,065,171
4. Plastic bags 1,019,902
5. Caps, lids 958,893
6. Cups/plates/forks/
knives/spoons 692,767
7. Straws/stirrers 611,048
8. Beverage bottles (glass) 521,730
9. Beverage cans 339,875
10. Paper bags 298,332

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Water Supply of the World

Water Supply of the World

The Antarctic Icecap is the largest supply of fresh water, representing nearly 2% of the world's total of fresh and salt water. As can be seen from the table below, the amount of water in our atmosphere is over 10 times as much as the water in all the rivers taken together. The fresh water actually available for human use in lakes and rivers and the accessible ground water amount to only about one-third of 1% of the world's total water supply.

Surface area (sq mi)

Volume (cu mi)

Percentage of total1

Salt water
The oceans 139,500,000 317,000,000 97.2%
Inland seas and saline lakes 270,000 25,000 0.008
Fresh water
Freshwater lakes 330,000 30,000 0.009
All rivers (average level) — 300 0.0001
Antarctic Icecap 6,000,000 6,300,000 1.9
Arctic Icecap and glaciers 900,000 680,000 0.21
Water in the atmosphere 197,000,000 3,100 0.001
Ground water within half
a mile from surface — 1,000,000 0.31
Deep-lying ground water — 1,000,000 0.31
Total (rounded) — 326,000,000 100.00

Friday, March 14, 2014

N.C. Energy Policy Council will meet March 19

RALEIGH – The North Carolina Energy Policy Council will hear reports from its four committees when it meets at 10 a.m. March 19 in room 1210 of N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources headquarters, 217 W. Jones St., in Raleigh.

The council is chaired by Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest. The meeting can be followed live online at:

The 13-member council is responsible for advising and making recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly on increasing domestic energy exploration, development and production in North Carolina as well as promoting related economic growth and job creation. The council serves as the state’s central energy policy planning body and works with federal, state, regional and local agencies to coordinate energy policy.

Members of the council are designated and appointed by the governor, speaker of the N.C. House of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the North Carolina Senate.

Background on the council, along with a list of council members and their designated appointments, can be found online at:–council.

The Energy Efficiency Committee of the Energy Policy Council will meet at 1:30 p.m. March 19 in room 1210 of N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources headquarters, 217 West Jones St., Raleigh.

In addition to the upcoming meetings, the following are tentative council meeting dates for the rest of the year:

· 10 a.m. May 21, room 1210, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources headquarters, 217 W. Jones St., Raleigh.

· 10 a.m. July 16, room 1210, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources headquarters, 217 W. Jones St., Raleigh.

· 10 a.m. Sept. 17, room 1210, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources headquarters, 217 W. Jones St., Raleigh.

· 10 a.m. Nov. 19, room 1210, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources headquarters, 217 W. Jones St., Raleigh.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

10 health benefits of honey

10 health benefits of honey

By: Melissa Breyer

There is something undeniably enchanting about honey; the product of flower nectar transformed by bees, as if by alchemy – but in fact through the far less-poetic act of regurgitation – into a sweet, golden elixir. Honey has held sway over humans since ancient times.

But aside from honey’s seductive color and flavor, it has some scientific superpowers that add to its appeal. Honey has an unusual chemical composition, one which makes it keep indefinitely without spoiling; as is seen whenever ancient pots of honey, still perfectly preserved, are found during excavations of early Egyptian tombs. It is uniquely low in moisture and extremely acidic, making it a forbidding environment for bacteria and microorganisms. On top of that, bees add an enzyme, glucose oxidase, to it that creates hydrogen peroxide as a byproduct. According to the National Institutes of Health, honey is hygroscopic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and has remarkable debriding action. Who knew?

With this bonanza of properties, honey has been used for millennia as a medicinal remedy. As reports, the earliest recorded use of honey as a curative comes from Sumerian clay tablets, which convey that honey was used in 30 percent of prescriptions at the time. The ancient Egyptians used honey regularly to treat skin and eye problems; as did the Greeks, Romans, and a number of other cultures.

And ever since – along with being a favored gift to the gods and employed for sweetening cakes and drinks – honey has been used to treat that which ails us. It has been hailed as a fix for everything from scrapes to cancer. The following are some of honey’s best-known health benefits; whether confirmed by science or passed down through folk tradition, they prove honey to be as efficacious as it is delicious.

1. Soothes coughs
A 2007 study from Penn State College of Medicine that involved 139 children, found that buckwheat honey outperformed the cough suppressant, dextromethorphan (DM), in calming nighttime coughs in children and improving their sleep. Another study published in Pediatrics included 270 children aged one to five with nighttime cough due to simple colds; in this study, the children who received two teaspoons of honey 30 minutes before bed, coughed less frequently, less severely and were less likely to lose sleep due to the cough when compared to those who didn't get honey. (For more ideas on fighting coughs, see 10 natural cough remedies.)

2. Boosts memory
According to research reported by Reuters, 102 healthy women of menopausal age were assigned to consume 20 grams of honey a day, take hormone-replacement therapy containing estrogen and progesterone or do nothing. After four months, those who took honey or hormone pills recalled about one extra word out of 15 presented on a short-term memory test. That said, some critics of the study say that it wasn’t scientifically sound because it was small and didn’t last long. But still...

3. Treats wounds
In numerous studies, honey has been found effective in treating wounds. In a Norwegian study, a therapeutic honey called Medihoney (a New Zealand honey that undergoes a special purification process) and Norwegian Forest Honey were found to kill all strains of bacteria in wounds. In another study, 59 patients suffering from wounds and leg ulcers – of which 80 percent had failed to heal with conventional treatment – were treated with unprocessed honey. All but one of the cases showed remarkable improvement following topical application of honey. Wounds that were sterile at the outset, remained sterile until healed, while infected wounds and ulcers became sterile within one week of applying honey.

For the treatment of burns and wounds, WebMD notes: Honey is applied directly or in a dressing which is usually changed every 24 to 48 hours. When used directly, 15 mL to 30 mL of honey has been applied every 12 to 48 hours, and covered with sterile gauze and bandages or a polyurethane dressing.

4. Provides nutrients
According to the National Honey Board, honey contains “small amounts of a wide array of vitamins and minerals, including niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.” Thus, using honey instead of sugar provides you with more nutrients for your calories.

5. Potentially prevents low white blood cell count
The Mayo Clinic notes that honey may be a promising and inexpensive way to prevent low white blood cell count caused by chemotherapy. In one small trial, 40 percent of cancer patients who were known to be at risk of neutropenia (very low blood count) had no further episodes of the condition after taking two teaspoons daily of therapeutic honey during chemotherapy. More research is needed, but the remedy could hold great potential.

6. May relieve seasonal allergies
Many people swear by honey’s ability to lessen symptoms of seasonal allergy. As honey has anti-inflammatory effects and is known to soothe coughs, it may not seem like much of a stretch; but honey’s efficacy for treating allergy hasn’t been proven in clinical studies. That said, some experts say that honey can contain traces of flower pollen, and exposure to small amounts of allergens works as good treatment to combat reactions. Whether it can be proven by science or not is one thing; but at its worst, it makes for a delicious placebo. (And don’t knock the healing power of placebos!)

7. Kills antibiotic-resistant bacteria
In clinical studies, medical grade honey has been shown to kill food-borne illness pathogens like E. coli and salmonella, as well as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, both of which are common in hospitals and doctors' offices.

8. May help metabolize alcohol
This one's for you cocktail swillers, The NYU Langone Medical Center reveals that honey taken orally might, "increase the body's ability to metabolize alcohol, thereby limiting intoxication and more rapidly reducing alcohol blood levels." Honey shots all around.

9. Makes great workout fuel
Many athletes rely on sugar-laden sports drinks and gels for carbohydrates to fuel their bodies before and during endurance events, and afterwards to help muscle recovery. At 17 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon, honey makes an excellent source of all-natural energy that is superior to other conventional sources since it comes with added nutrients. The National Honey Board recommends adding honey to your bottle of water for an energy boost during workouts. Snacks with honey can be eaten before and after, and honey sticks can be used during endurance events.

10. Resolves scalp problems and dandruff
In a study involving patients with chronic seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff, the participants were asked to apply honey diluted with 10 percent warm water to their problem areas and leave it on for three hours before rinsing with warm water. In all of the patients, itching was relieved and scaling disappeared within one week. Skin lesions were completely healed within two weeks, and patients showed subjective improvement in hair loss as well. And when applied weekly thereafter for six months, patients showed no sign of relapse.

All of that said, there are two important things to remember about honey: One, just because it proffers numerous health benefits doesn't mean it's not caloric; one tablespoon yields 64 calories. Also, it's crucial to remember that honey is not appropriate for children younger than 12 months because it can contain the bacteria that causes infant botulism

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Photo contest highlights beauty of North Carolina's coastal reserves

Photo contest highlights beauty of North Carolina's coastal reserves

BEAUFORT – The N.C. Division of Coastal Management’s Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve Program invites people to participate in the judging of its first annual photo contest.

Photos submitted by visitors to the state’s 10 coastal reserve sites will be featured on the reserve’s Facebook page ( from March 15-April 1, 2014 for judging by the reserve’s Facebook community. Facebook users will be able to “like” their favorite photos in a variety of categories, with the winners determined by the number of “likes” each photo receives by the conclusion of the judging period.

Winning photographs will be recognized in Animal, Plant, Landscape, and Human Connection categories, and the photo receiving the highest total number of “likes” will be designated the overall contest winner. Winning photographs will be featured in the reserve’s upcoming Tidal Flat newsletter.

The photo contest represents a new opportunity for amateur photographers and coastal enthusiasts to share images of the unique resources found along North Carolina’s coasts. Spanning from the Virginia to South Carolina borders, North Carolina’s reserve sites protect a variety of coastal habitats for research and education purposes. Providing access to these sites enhances the public’s understanding of estuarine environments and supports recreational activities such as boating, fishing, wildlife viewing, and photography. The annual photo contest hopes to build upon visitors’ enthusiasm for the animals, plants, and recreation opportunities found at the reserve sites, and inspire appreciation for North Carolina’s coastal ecosystems.

The reserve staff thanks this year’s photo contest participants, and encourages Facebook users to “like” their favorite coastal photographs by April 1, 2014.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Great Plant for the Office

Spider plant

Perfect for high shelves and hanging baskets, the low-maintenance spider plant thrives in partial sun or shade – making it ideal for your cubicle or windowless office.

As an added bonus, spider plants carry loads of benefits for improving indoor air quality and reducing stress at work, as noted by researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

A report published by the university’s Cooperative Extension Service cited the humble spider plant as one of the top varieties for removing VOCs and other pollutants from indoor air.

Air-cleansing plants also boost relative humidity and decreases particulate matter (aka dust), which can have a relaxing effect on workers and reduce common allergy symptoms, according to the report.

Care instructions: Plant your spider plant in a size-appropriate pot or hanging basket with rich potting soil. This pick is resilient enough to withstand infrequent watering and thrive with little more than fluorescent light. But if you notice droopy or brown leaves, simply move your plant to a brighter location for a few days to bring it back to its full glory.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Latest Update on Dan River Coal Ash Spill Activities

RALEIGH – The latest state water quality tests show that concentrations of iron and aluminum in the Dan River near the site of the Eden coal ash spill continue to decrease, but aluminum still exceeds surface water quality standards at all upstream and downstream sampling locations.

Iron concentrations are now within state surface water quality standards at three of the four sampling stations. Iron exceeds surface water quality standards at the Milton, N.C. site, which is the site farthest downstream from the spill, staff with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources reported Thursday. DENR’s latest test results come from water quality samples the state agency collected through Feb. 10 upstream and downstream of the coal ash spill site.

Of the 28 metals DENR is testing for near the coal ash spill, iron and aluminum are the two metals at or above surface water quality standards. Some initial water quality samples taken downstream of the spill site indicated exceedences of state surface water standards for arsenic, iron, aluminum and copper. However, subsequent tests taken at the same sites have shown that neither arsenic nor copper exceed surface water standards.

Iron and aluminum have been high in historic water quality sampling conducted prior to the coal ash spill and are naturally occurring in soils in North Carolina.

Duke Energy discovered the coal ash spill at its Dan River power plant Feb. 2. The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources has been conducting tests to assess the spill’s effects on the river since staff members in DENR were notified of the spill Feb. 3.

In addition to testing water quality in the Dan River, DENR staff are collecting and testing sediments in the river and collecting and testing fish tissues to determine whether fish are safe to eat. Meanwhile, state public health officials have advised people not to eat fish from the Dan River and avoid prolonged contact with the water.

“These tests will help us better understand the extent of the damage to the Dan River caused by the coal ash spill,” said Tom Reeder, director of the N.C. Division of Water Resources. “Characterizing the spill’s impacts on water quality as well as fish and sediment will better inform cleanup efforts.”

On Wednesday, Duke Energy resumed removal of some of the300 cubic yards of coal ash deposited in the shallow areas of the river near where the initial coal ash spilled into the Dan River. Efforts to remove portions of the coal ash deposit in deeper water have been halted and will resume when river conditions are safer. Assessments are ongoing toidentify other areas in the Dan River where larger coal ash deposits can be removed.

To see a map of all the locations where DENR is sampling water quality and sediment, and collecting fish for testing, visit and click on the sampling sites map.

DENR staff created the web page to provide the public with updates on the agency’s response to the Dan River coal ash spill.

# # #

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

Jamie Kritzer, Public Information Officer, 919-707-8602,

Pat McCrory, Governor -- John E. Skvarla, III, Secretary

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