Saturday, February 28, 2015

NC State Recycles

Friday, February 27, 2015

Baa, Baa Dryer Sheet



Thursday, February 26, 2015

Every Time You Recycle a Can, You Strengthen the U.S. Economy

Every Time You Recycle a Can, You Strengthen the U.S. Economy

As a good citizen, when you faithfully toss that soda can into a recycling bin, you are contributing to a multibillion dollar industry. Yes. Believe it or not, recycling metals like steel and aluminum brings the people and the economy of the U.S. billions of dollars in income. It accounts for jobs to thousands, incurs tax revenue in billions and provides massive export opportunities.
Steel is the most recycled material worldwide. This is largely due to the fact that steel can be recycled over and over and over again with no loss in quality from its original state. Photo credit: Shutterstock
To understand the impact of such a huge industry, we must understand the scrap metal recycling business. When cars, machinery and even airplanes are no longer usable, they are sent to scrap metal recycling centers. These centers tear the machines apart; separate the metals, safely dispose unrecyclable bits, and produce new metal that can be used to manufacture new cars, new machinery and even new blenders.
Creates a Circular Economy
Steel is the most recycled material worldwide. This is largely due to the fact that steel can be recycled over and over and over again with no loss in quality from its original state. In 2010, the scrap recycling industry in the U.S. processed 74 million tons of scrap steel. This created a scrap market value of more than $22 billion. That’s 22 billion that can be put to use, regenerated and sustained by just one industry.
Steel is a ferrous metal, but non-ferrous metals (containing no iron) can also be recycled infinitely without losing their physical and chemical properties. Recycling non-ferrous metals like aluminum, zinc and copper increases the value of the non-ferrous scrap industry each year, which means that each year this industry adds more revenue to the U.S. economy than ever before.
Encourages International Trade
Each year, the U.S. scrap metal industry exports scrap products worth billions to more than 90 countries, including China, Turkey, South Korea, Taiwan and India. These countries import the metals and then use them to manufacture their own products. Their use of recycled scrap further lessens the use of valuable raw materials like iron ore. There is also an 86 percent reduction in air pollution and a 76 percent in water pollution through the use of recycled steel.
Provides Jobs
The scrap recycling industry supports hundreds of thousands of jobs per year—both directly and indirectly. These jobs come from the direct production and financial procedures that occur during the recycling process as well as those working in auto yards and machine supplying services that facilitate the actual recycling of the metals. These jobs add to the sum of the total economic activity generated by the U.S. scrap recycling industry, which numbers in billions.
To add to it, these jobs are not limited to those living in the urban areas. The scrap metal industry has facilities in rural areas as well as cities, in all states, in every part of the country. Thus, the industry is as widespread as it is profitable.
Garners Tax
The scrap metal industry provides billions in state and local revenues each year. These returns are then used to help local communities all over the country. Add to that the federal taxes by the industry and its employees. That makes it billions of dollars in taxes that the scrap recycling industry provides each year to the U.S. economy.
The scrap metal industry is definitely strengthening the U.S. economy. Millions of tons of scrap metal, paper, plastic, glass, textiles, rubber and electronics are recycled each year to manufacture reusable items. And yet, according to Sims Metal Management, $7 billion worth of “waste” material was disposed of in landfills in 2010 instead of being recycled. If we all do our part, we can avoid this waste and help the scrap metal industry boost our economy even further.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

20 ways to reuse coffee grounds, tea leaves

20 ways to reuse coffee grounds, tea leaves

It's unlikely that coffee or tea is growing in your garden, so after you finish that cup, put the grounds to work with these clever ideas.
how to reuse coffee - coffee and coffee beans
Photo: eclectic echoes/Flickr
It takes a brave and hearty (and spartan) soul to give up coffee and tea in the name of food miles. Many do, but morning caffeine is the guilty pleasure that whispers in a voice too alluring for many to resist. One thing is for sure: it's generally a long journey for beans and leaves to travel from exotic climes to the kitchen counter — so we may as well honor them with some extra chores before condemning them to the trash. For those who add their spent dregs to the compost bin, you can still do so in many of these applications once their mission has been accomplished.
What to do with coffee grounds
1. Soften skin
Exfoliate with a body scrub made of coffee grounds, coconut oil and a little brown sugar. Gently massage it on in the shower, rinse, be soft.
2. Please the flowers
Use coffee grounds as mulch for acid-loving plants — roses, azaleas, rhododendrons, evergreens, hydrangeas and camellias. They like coffee grounds for the natural acidity and nutrients they add to the soil.
3. Sadden the ants
Sprinkle coffee grounds around areas of ant infestation to deter them.
4. Deter gastropods
Used grounds are said to repel snails and slugs, so sprinkle them in problem areas.
5. Simplify fireplace cleaning
Before cleaning the fireplace, sprinkle with dampened used coffee grounds, which will weigh down the ash and thus eliminate clouds of smoke-flavored dust.
6. Make a sepia dye
Soak used grounds in hot water and use as a dye bath for Easter eggs, fabric and paper for a lovely, soft brown tinge.
7. Keep cats at bay
Keep kitties out of the garden with a mixture of orange peels and used coffee grounds distributed around plants.
8. Encourage the carrots
To boost a carrot harvest, mix seeds with dried coffee grounds before sowing. The extra bulk makes the wee seeds easier to manage, while the coffee aroma can nourish the soil and help repel pests.
What to do with tea leaves and tea bags
tea bag
Photo: A Girl With Tea/Flickr
Some tips call for dried leaves, here’s how. When you’re finished brewing tea, place the leaves into a large strainer or colander. Press out as much moisture as possible, and then spread the leaves on paper. Let the leaves dry thoroughly, turning over several times in the process. Also note that wet tea leaves stain, so if you are using wet tea leaves on or near a porous surface, be sure to test in an inconspicuous place first.
9. Tame stings and burns
Cool tea bags can bring relief when applied to bug bites and minor burns, including sunburn. For overall skin irritation, put spent tea leaves in a bath and soak.
10. Soothe your eyes
The tannins in tea have anti-inflammatory effects, which is why cool ones are often employed on puffy eyes. (The chill also helps with swelling.)
11. Feed the garden
Use tea leaves as food for garden plants — green tea is high in nitrogen, and as a bonus, the leaves can ward off pests and insects. This is also good for houseplants, so add old tea leaves to their water.
12. Boost potted plants
When potting plants, place a few used tea bags on top of the drainage layer at the bottom of the planter before adding soil. The tea bags will help to retain water and will also leach some nutrients into the potting medium.
13. Quell the cat box smell
Sprinkle used, dried tea leaves in litter boxes to help reduce the smell.
14. Eliminate other pet odors
Sprinkle dried, used green tea leaves on your pet’s pillow, bed, in the doghouse, or other smelly spots to eliminate odor.
15. Freshen the carpet
Sprinkle dry tea leaves onto the carpet, crush them lightly and let sit for 10 minutes, then vacuum. This will refresh the carpet and deodorize your vacuum cleaner and bag. (Especially helpful if you have pets.)
16. Treat the dog
As an extravagance, loose leaf gunpowder tea is a treat for dogs to roll around in. It’s great for the aroma and luster it adds to the coat.
17. Freshen mats and beds 
It is common in Southeast Asia to wash straw sleeping mats in tubs of water to which tea has been added. The tea works as a deodorizer, so you can apply this method to yoga mats and air mattresses.
18. Save the fridge
If you’re out of baking soda, place dried, used green tea bags or leaves in a small open bowl in your refrigerator to help absorb odors.
19. Wash your hands
Rid your hands of food odors (garlic, onions, etc.) by rubbing them with wet green tea leaves, an instant deodorizer.
20. Deodorize kitchen surfaces
Rub wet tea leaves on cutting boards and counters to remove food odors.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

We need more STEM majors with liberal arts training.


We don’t need more STEM majors. We need more STEM majors with liberal arts training.

The ability to draw from other disciplines produces better scientists.

Loretta Jackson-Hayes

Dr. Loretta Jackson-Hayes is an associate professor of chemistry at Rhodes College in Memphis.
In business and at every level of government, we hear how important it is to graduate more students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math, as our nation’s competitiveness depends on it. The Obama administration has set a goal of increasing STEM graduates by one million by 2022, and the “desperate need” for more STEM students makes regular headlines. The emphasis on bolstering STEM participation comes in tandem with bleak news about the liberal arts — bad job prospects, programs being cut, too many humanities majors.
As a chemist, I agree that remaining competitive in the sciences is a critical issue. But as an instructor, I also think that if American STEM grads are going lead the world in innovation, then their science education cannot be divorced from the liberal arts.
Our culture has drawn an artificial line between art and science, one that did not exist for innovators like Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs. Leonardo’s curiosity and passion for painting, writing, engineering and biology helped him triumph in both art and science; his study of anatomy and dissections of corpses enabled his incredible drawings of the human figure. When introducing the iPad 2, Jobs, who dropped out of college but continued to audit calligraphy classes, declared: “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing.” (Indeed, one of Apple’s scientists, Steve Perlman, was inspired to invent the QuickTime multimedia program by an episode of “Star Trek.”)
Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, credits her degree in philosophy and medieval history in helping her be the first woman to lead a high-tech Fortune 20 corporation. “If you go into a setting and everybody thinks alike, it’s easy,” she has said. “But you will probably get the wrong answer.”
I became a chemistry professor by working side-by-side at the bench with a number of mentors, and the scholar/mentor relationships I’ve enjoyed were a critical aspect of my science education. And it is the centerpiece of a college experience within the liberal arts environment. For me, it was the key that unlocked true learning, and for my students, it has made them better scientists and better equipped to communicate their work to the public.
Like apprentices to a painter, my students sit with me and plan experiments. We gather and review data and determine the next questions to address. After two to three years of direct mentoring, students develop the ability to interpret results on their own, describe how findings advance knowledge, generate ideas for subsequent experiments and plan these experiments themselves. Seniors train new students in the lab, helping them learn gene recombination techniques that depend on accurate calculations and precise delivery of reagents. Put simply, a microliter-scale mistake can spell disaster for an experiment that took days to complete. And while my students work on these sensitive projects, they often offer creative and innovative approaches. To reduce calculation errors, one of my students wrote a user-friendly computer program to automatically measure replicate volumes. He did this by drawing on programming skills he learned in a computer science course he took for fun. Young people stuck exclusively in chemistry lecture halls will not evolve the same way.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Eure-Gardner Award

Emory receives Eure-Gardner Award for significant contributions to protection of N.C. coast

RALEIGH — The N.C. Coastal Resources Commission, or CRC, yesterday bestowed its highest honor, the Eure-Gardner award, on former Coastal Resources Commission Chairman Robert R. Emory.
Current CRC Chairman Frank Gorham presented the award to Emory at a commission meeting in Atlantic Beach.
The Eure-Gardner award is bestowed on those individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to protecting the natural, cultural and economic resources of the coastal area. It is named for Thomas Eure, the first chairman of the CRC, and William Gardner, a long-time member and former chairman of the Coastal Resources Advisory Council.
Emory isthe environmental manager at the Southern Timberlands Operations of Weyerhauser Co., where he has worked since 1972. He served on the Coastal Resources Commission for 20 years, from June 1994 through June 2014. He was appointed chairman of the CRC in November 2007 by then-Governor Mike Easley.
“Throughout the course of his time with the CRC, Bob was known for his fairness, his calm demeanor, and his willingness to hear all sides of each of the complex issues brought before the commission,” said Braxton Davis, director of the N.C. Division of Coastal Management. “For all of his efforts, his approach, and his leadership, he is truly deserving of the Eure-Gardner Award.”
The Division of Coastal Management regulates development in the state’s 20 coastal counties, helps local governments establish public access to coastal waters and administers the Coastal Reserve Program, which sets aside coastal lands for research and education.
The CRC establishes policies for the N.C. Coastal Management Program and adopts rules for the Coastal Area Management Act and the N.C. Dredge and Fill Act. The commission designates areas of environmental concern, adopts rules and policies for coastal development within those areas, and certifies local land-use plans.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Don't Pop That Bubble Wrap!


Don't Pop That Bubble Wrap! Scientists Turn Trash Into Test Tubes


Clear and clean, bubble wrap is well-suited to serve as an array of tiny test tubes. Here a dye solution is injected into the bubbles to measure the hemoglobin concentration in blood.i
Clear and clean, bubble wrap is well-suited to serve as an array of tiny test tubes. Here a dye solution is injected into the bubbles to measure the hemoglobin concentration in blood. American Chemical Society hide caption
itoggle caption American Chemical Society
Clear and clean, bubble wrap is well-suited to serve as an array of tiny test tubes. Here a dye solution is injected into the bubbles to measure the hemoglobin concentration in blood.
Clear and clean, bubble wrap is well-suited to serve as an array of tiny test tubes. Here a dye solution is injected into the bubbles to measure the hemoglobin concentration in blood.
American Chemical Society
Hate to burst your bubble, glass lab gear. But plastic bubble wrap also works pretty well at running science experiments.
Scientists at Harvard University have figured out a way to use these petite pouches as an inexpensive alternate to glass test tubes and culture dishes. They even ran glucose tests on artificial urine and anemia tests on blood, all with the samples sitting inside bubble wrap.
"Most lab experiments require equipment, like test tubes or 96-well assay plates," says chemist George Whitesides, who led the study. "But if you go out to smaller villages [in developing countries], these things are just not available."
"You can take out a roll of bubble wrap, and you have a bunch of little test tubes," he says. "This is an opportunity to potentially use material that would otherwise have been thrown away."
Whitesides is a master at converting cheap, everyday materials into lab equipment. He's made a centrifuge from an egg beater and CD player. And he's designed a glucose detector from paper and tape.
While visiting scientists around the world, Whitesides noticed that many labs in developing countries don't even have simple pieces of equipment, such as test tubes for running blood tests, storing urine samples or growing microbes.
That's when the idea popped into his head: bubble wrap. The packaging material is readily available all over the globe, and scientists often have it around the lab because other equipment is shipped in it.
The bubbles held the liquid with no problem. And since the plastic is clear, the team could use the mini-test tubes for tests that involve color changes. For instance, to test for anemia, the scientists added a chemical that changes colors when it reacts with iron in blood. They also successfully grew bacteria and worms inside the bubbles.
But to make a good test tube or petri dish, the bubble wrap also needed to be sterile.
So Whitesides' students filled the plastic bubbles with a solution of food for microorganisms and looked to see if bacteria grew inside. After four days, no microbes appeared. To their surprise, the air and plastic inside the bubbles were completely sterile.
That finding also surprised Michele Barry, a tropical disease doctor at Stanford University, who wasn't involved in the study.
"I had no idea that the bubbles themselves were sterile, which is fabulous," she tells Goats and Soda. "I just assumed it would be colonized by bugs. So this is amazingly interesting."
Labs in poor countries have a great need to store samples, Barry points out. The bubble wrap could also be used to test water for toxic metals, such as mercury, arsenic and lead, she says.
But the plastic packaging comes with many limitations. The mini-test tubes must be handled carefully or they'll pop — literally. And bubble wrap is sensitive to light. It degrades over time.
To use the bubble wrap, scientists need needles and syringes — which could be just as scarce as test tubes in a bare-bones lab, Barry points out.
Whitesides says he doesn't have specific plans to roll out the bubble wrap in labs anytime soon. But he hopes that this proof-of-concept study will inspire other scientists around the world to take the idea and wrap it up.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

What Should I Do with Worn-Out Clothing?

Because You Asked: What Should I Do with Worn-Out Clothing?

Written by Recyclebank .    
Even if your old clothing can’t be resold at a secondhand store, you can still recycle or reuse it.

Dear Recyclebank,
I send gently used clothing to the Salvation Army, but some things are just no longer wearable. What can I do?
-Helen M., Philadelphia, PA

Dear Helen,
There are plenty of ways to give your old clothing a second life if it’s too worn for the closet. Many textiles can be recovered and have their fibers broken down into insulation material, carpet padding, paper, yarn, and more. In fact, according to the EPA, roughly 14.4 percent of textiles from clothing were recovered for export or reprocessing in 2012.
Companies such as American Textile Recycling Services collect donations at drop-off locations and sort out too-worn clothing and other textiles for recycling. Participating Goodwill locations can also make use of clothing too damaged for them to sell, whether by selling it to salvage brokers or making it into industrial wipes. The Council for Textile Recycling maintains a clothing recycling locator that you can use to find facilities in your area.
No recycling options available near you? You can make use of the clothes closer to home. Salvage what fabric you can for craft projects, or cut the clothing down into your own reusable cleaning cloths. See if local schools need rags for art or shop classes, or if animal shelters can use the fabric for cleaning or as bedding. Cotton and other natural-fiber clothing can even be composted as long as they are not blended with synthetic fibers like polyester; make sure to shred it finely and remove attachments like zippers and buttons.

Friday, February 20, 2015

STEM education spurs creativity, teamwork and problem solving

Not strictly only future scientists: STEM education spurs creativity, teamwork and problem solving

The nation's job market reflects the popularity of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as recent data shows that across STEM fields, job postings outnumbered unemployed people by almost 2-to-1.
There's no denying that STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education is on society's radar. President Barack Obama's "Educate to Innovate" initiative hosts a yearly STEM-themed science fair at the White House. STEM summer camps are popping up across the country and hundreds of thousands of parents, educators and policymakers convene annually at STEM conferences nationwide. The nation's job market even reflects the popularity as recent data shows that across STEM fields, job postings outnumbered unemployed people by almost 2-to-1.
Although STEM education is recognized as a crucial way to spark students' interest in innovation and technology, there remains a perception that it only focuses on a few areas of study and does not expose students to more creative activities or job fields, like visual arts, music or writing. However, STEM education helps children develop several crucial skills outside of an interest in science, especially at the elementary level, and these skills can be applied across most areas of study. Here are a few extra benefits of STEM education beyond the beaker and microscope:
  • Cultivating creativity - Creativity is rooted within the scientific process, especially when it comes to figuring out solutions to problems. STEM education encourages students to look beyond the obvious solutions and come up with creative ways to make something work in a new or different way than is typically intended, such as figuring out how to survive without natural sunlight. This kind of experience parallels the creative process a musician or artist undertakes, as there may not be a wrong or right answer and the student will likely discover something interesting no matter what.
  • Building teamwork skills - Many popular STEM activities, such as building a bridge using only toothpicks and gumdrops, require students to work in pairs or groups to accomplish their objective. This gives kids opportunities to learn how and when to both lead a group and listen to their peers, and demonstrates the value of what they can accomplish when they put their heads together to complete a task
  • Becoming problem solvers - STEM education centers around problem solving. The entire practice of engineering is about finding a solution to a problem, and if that doesn't work, starting over again and finding another one. This kind of thinking helps kids develop crucial problem-solving skills so that they are ready to tackle life's problems, big or small.
Recent studies have shown that kids are not asking as many questions as they grow older, causing a loss of interest in their environment. This startling notion has prompted policymakers and educators to take action. In 2013, several groups including the National Research Council (NRC); Achieve, Inc.; the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA); as well as thousands of science educators, scientists, business leaders, and other leaders in science education, came together to develop the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). These new standards emphasize exploration and experimentation, rather than unengaging lectures or rote memorization of facts.
In addition to new science standards, there are many programs that reinforce STEM skills and foster a love of science in kids of all ages, such as the Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision program. The world's largest K-12 science award program, ExploraVision invites students to think ahead 20 years into the future and propose an idea for a new technology and approach based on a challenge or limitation that exists today. ExploraVision incorporates many of the science and engineering practices promoted in the NGSS, so teachers can use it as an opportunity to enrich their curriculum with hands-on experiences or offer it as an extracurricular opportunity for their students.
"ExploraVision provides a unique opportunity for kids to experience the benefits of STEM education, especially at the early age in the kindergarten-3rd grade level of the competition," says Bill Nye, acclaimed scientist, educator and program spokesperson. "As they work together to solve a real-life scientific problem, they develop not only an interest in science, but also develop their creativity, leadership skills and communication skills."
While STEM education may increase the prevalence of much-needed scientists, engineers and mathematicians, it will also help contribute to a generation of well-rounded, inquisitive children who are equipped with skills to help them become the future leaders of the world.
-- Brandpoint

Thursday, February 19, 2015

FIFA Women's World Cup Team to Wear Plastic

With the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup slated for this summer, Nike on Monday introduced new away uniforms for the U.S. National Team.
The U.S. Women's National Team will be the first to wear the uniform during the Algarve Cup from March 4 to 11 in Portugal. The jersey features two white stars above the team badge to represent the two World Cups they've won, in 1991 - the first Women's World Cup - and another in 1999.
"The new kit was designed to showcase the USA's tremendous sense of national pride as well as their distinct sense of style, while also capturing the nation's eternal optimism for achieving greatness," Martin Lotti, Nike Soccer creative director, says in a news release.
The U.S. Men's National Team will wear the kit for the first time March 25 in a friendly against Switzerland.
The uniforms are made of polyester derived from recycled plastic water bottles.
The shorts are 100 percent recycled polyester, the shirts are 96 percent polyester, while the socks are 78 percent. By using recycled polyester Nike says the energy consumed in the production process is reduced up to 30 percent. Also, each kit is made using an average of 18 recycled plastic water bottles, a process that has diverted more than 2 billion bottles from landfill since the company began the process in 2010. 
The USA jerseys are available exclusively in the Nike Soccer App beginning Monday and will be in Nike stores and at starting Wednesday.
--Allan Brettman

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

State and federal agencies sign agreement to protect 8,000 acres around Jordan Lake

State and federal agencies sign agreement to protect 8,000 acres around Jordan Lake

RALEIGH – State and federal officials have signed an agreement that protects nearly 8,000 acres of environmentally rich land around Jordan Lake, the source of drinking water for much of the Triangle.
Under the arrangement, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns Jordan Lake and the surrounding property and the state agencies with site management responsibilities in the area, have agreed to maintain 14 separate parcels of land in their existing condition to avoid any damage to their unique characteristics.
“Registry agreements are voluntary arrangements developed between landowners and DENR to manage and protect properties with rare plants, animals or other outstanding natural areas,” said Donald R. van der Vaart, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. “By signing this agreement, DENR and its partners will act to protect this land with its diverse wildlife and good examples of the large bottomland forests that once dominated the Triassic Basin.”
The Jordan Lake Project includes about 45,000 acres in Chatham, Durham, Orange and Wake counties, and a large reservoir that serves as the drinking water source for Cary, Apex, Durham and a host of other Triangle communities. Much of the 8,000 acres included in the registry agreement is associated with the floodplains and wetlands of the Jordan Lake Project and has been identified by DENR’s Natural Heritage Program as having rare or representative examples of ecosystems and natural communities, geologic landforms, and habitats for endangered or threatened plants and animals.
The parties to the registry agreement include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which owns the land, as well as the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, DENR (through the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation), and the N.C. Forest Service – all of which help manage the property.
With permission from landowners, DENR can register and designate areas in North Carolina with rare or diverse features in order to ensure their protection. These registered natural areas will continue to be used for educational, scientific, ecological, aesthetic, wildlife, fisheries and compatible recreational purposes.
“As species need to be able to move around to meet their needs, the large, mostly contiguous Jordan Lake Project overall is an important conservation area because it helps connect these high-quality habitats for wildlife,” said Scott Pohlman, who works for the state’s Natural Heritage Program and manages the registry program for the state.
A copy of the registry agreement is at:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The List: 7 Green Presidential Legacies

Written by     
Throughout history, our presidents have made significant impact on the environment.

It’s Presidents Day, which is a good chance to look back over the forty-four presidents who have headed up the United States, and what environmental legacy they left behind. While environmental issues have been considered crucial over the past couple of decades, you might be surprised to know that presidents have been taking green actions for far longer than that.
Read on to learn about some of the most significant and lasting achievements made by our nation’s presidents.
Benjamin Harrison: The twenty-third president, who served from 1889 to 1893, signed the Forest Reserve Act of 1891, which allows presidents to set aside woodlands to be part of the public domain. He initially designated 13 million acres of woodlands to be protected, while his two successors, Grover Cleveland and William McKinley, put in 25 million and 7 million acres respectively. The creators of the act did it not just to protect the timber but also to help prevent disruption of the water supply at the headwaters of major rivers, and to protect wildlife.
Theodore Roosevelt: Our twenty-sixth president might be considered the granddaddy of conservation, at least from a presidential standpoint. He put millions of acres of woodlands into the public domain using the Forest Reserve Act, established the first federal bird reservations (creating a total of fifty-one during his administration), and created five national parks and 150 national forests.
John F. Kennedy: Environmental writer Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, brought the dangers of DDT and other pesticides to Kennedy’s attention while in office,.He later had his Science Advisory Committee investigate DDT, which eventually led to its ban.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Shortly after taking office when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Johnson outlined his “Great Society Plan” in his January 1965 State of the Union address. This far-reaching plan had environmental aspects that later resulted in Wilderness Act of 1964, the Land and Water Conservation Act of 1965, and the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966.
Richard Nixon: Nixon’s scandal and subsequent inglorious departure from office sadly overshadowed the numerous good things he did for the environment. Most people aren’t aware that he created the Environmental Protection Agency, and signed the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. He also signed laws to protect wildlife.
Jimmy Carter: It’s no surprise that the president who went on to found Habitat for Humanity, which is known for its green building practices, also used his years in office to set in motion some lasting energy-saving measures. While in office, he created the Department of Energy with the idea that this office would explore clean and alternative fuels. He outlined the crucial need for this in a famous 1977 speech.
Bill Clinton: The environment was a major area of concern throughout Clinton’s two terms in office. During those 8 years, he protected more land than any other president since Theodore Roosevelt, despite detractors who thought some of that protected land would be better used for drilling or mining operations to help alleviate the energy crisis. He focused on clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency, earmarking more than $3 billion to be spent on clean energy technology. Under his administration, the EPA cracked down on emissions, smog, factory waste, and other pollutants.

Monday, February 16, 2015

How to Recycle Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles

By Sophia Bennett on February 13, 2015

Your old ceramic and porcelain tiles can be recycled or reused in so many ways.
Ceramic and porcelain tiles are beautiful and functional additions to homes. They can be found covering floors, lining shower stalls, even placed on walls for decoration. But when you are finished with any ceramic and porcelain tiles in your home, is there any way to recycle them?

Places that recycle ceramic and porcelain tiles exist, but they are rare. Unless you live in a community that happens to have a ceramic or porcelain recycling company, you are better off trying to think about ways to reuse them.

What are ceramic and porcelain tiles made of? has a helpful description of the differences between ceramic and porcelain tile. Both are made with clay, but ceramic tiles also have sand mixed in. Porcelain tile tends to be made with denser clay than ceramic. That and a long, hot firing process makes it harder (and more fragile) than ceramic. The vast majority of tile sold in the United States is made with either ceramic or porcelain.

Plenty of other household items are made with ceramic and porcelain. Many dishes and decorative items are made with ceramic. Dolls and other figurines, vases, china dish sets and toilets are made out of porcelain.

How to recycle ceramic tile

Places that recycle ceramic tile are few and far between, but they do exist. Crossville Tile in Tennessee claims to be the first company in its industry to offer a ceramic and porcelain tile take-back program. The business accepts its tile for recycling and will take back tiles made by other manufacturers if the person who removed the tiles purchased new Crossville tile. The business has a couple of other restrictions, including that tile formerly installed in a home must have no more than a quarter of an inch of cement mortar still attached to it. People who send the tile to the company are responsible for paying the shipping charge. For more about Crossville Tile’s program, check out this link.

How to recycle porcelain tile

Porcelain tile recyclers are equally challenging to find. One of the best examples of a porcelain tile recycler is Fireclay Tile in northern California. It recently launched a program to recycle porcelain from the transfer stations in San Francisco and San Jose. The business takes the porcelain to its facility, crushes it and uses it in its appropriately named Debris Series tiles. With this new source of porcelain, Fireclay’s tiles contain 70 percent recycled content, 50 percent of which is post-consumer. Photographs on the blog post announcing the program shows the company picking up old toilets (which are notoriously hard to recycle), but it seems safe to assume the business is taking porcelain tile as well.

The other option for recycling porcelain tile is to see if your town has a company that recycles porcelain toilets. Give them a call and ask them if they are interested in your old tiles. Broken up toilets can be used for road aggregate, which is the material that goes under roads to help stabilize them.

How to reuse ceramic and porcelain tile

In the likely event that you cannot find a ceramic or porcelain tile recycler in your community, you can always reuse your old tile. If the tile has never been installed in your home, consider donating it to a building reuse organization or another charity. Hundreds of communities have Habitat for Humanity ReStores. Many more have private organizations that take secondhand building supplies and sell them to people.

If you like your tile and want to reuse it – or do not want to see it end up in a landfill – it may be possible to remove it and use it over again. If you choose to go this route, the key things you need to do are (a) remove the tile without breaking it, and (b) invest time in removing the old mortar. A blog called The Dollar Stretcher has detailed instructions describing how to remove tiles so you can reuse them.

Pinterest has plenty of ideas for using old ceramic and porcelain tiles. Pour concrete stepping stones and press tiles into them to make lovely, functional garden accents. Attach them to the sides of large planters. Use them to make hopscotch patterns for children. My favorite is an item for adults – a giant outdoor Scrabble board made by placing tiles in a patio, then printing letters on an additional set of tiles to spell out words.

Let your imagination run wild when reusing tiles for these purposes. You can always paint, stamp or otherwise decorate them to make beautiful items for your home or yard.

It is possible that your old ceramic and porcelain tiles will break when you remove them from your bathroom or kitchen. If that happens, you can use the fragments to make mosaics or put them in the bottom of potted plants to help with drainage.

About the author

Sophia Bennett is a freelance writer based in Eugene, OR. Her work has been featured in more than a dozen magazines, newspapers and blogs. She is a dedicated home recycler, an avid thrift store shopper and a huge compost nerd.
Sophia's other professional experience include six years with the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County, an internationally recognized leader in the field of nonprofit waste-based business development, and a year as an economic development and recycling coordinator in the U.K. She's volunteered with the Oregon State University Extension Service Compost Specialist program and Willamette Farm and Food Coalition. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, reading, crafts, gardening and spending time with her husband and twin daughters.
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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Authorities crack down on cardboard theft in California

Thu, Feb 12, 2015, 10:21 AM EST - U.S. Markets close in 5 hrs 39 mins

Authorities crack down on cardboard theft in California

Associated Press
    Steve Rivera, senior investigator with the San Bernardino County District Attorney office, left, watches as a load of cardboard is seized temporarily on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015 in Fontana, Calif. The load was found to be legitimately given to the driver the by a local furniture store owner on the premise they’d split the recycling proceeds. When the economy booms, cardboard prices rise as manufacturers make more goods and need more packaging to sell them. Thieves are more brazen, and steal much more, when cardboard prices peak. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
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    FONTANA, Calif. (AP) — Investigators wearing bulletproof vests sit in unmarked cars outside a Southern California recycling center, swapping license plate details over two-way radio before dawn.
    A truck emerges and they follow, hoping to learn where drivers pick up what to many looks like trash but turns out to be treasure: cardboard.
    "It's big, big money — for somebody," said Steve Rivera, a senior investigator with the San Bernardino County District Attorney's office who has been conducting sunrise surveillance to track, educate and cite the culprits. "People don't recognize the fact that it's actually theft."
    The crackdown in gritty, industrial suburbs east of Los Angeles aims to put a stop to a long-running practice that surges with cardboard prices and wallops trash company revenues — and could eventually push up trash collection rates for homeowners and shopkeepers.
    New York City has battled cardboard theft for years. Local authorities elsewhere have cited those who swipe recyclables from waste hauler-provided bins, but the efforts haven't curtailed the theft of cardboard, which can net anywhere from $100 to $200 a ton.
    When the economy booms, cardboard prices rise as manufacturers make more goods and need more packaging to sell them. Thieves are more brazen, and steal much more, when cardboard prices peak.
    Waste haulers count on selling the recyclables they retrieve at the curb to offset the cost of collection, industry experts said.
    "Our industry loses millions of dollars a year due to cardboard," said David Biderman, general counsel for the National Waste & Recycling Association. "One piece of cardboard by itself isn't valuable. But customers often generate substantial values of it."
    The price of cardboard currently hovers around $100 a ton — much higher than during the 2008 recession but down from last year due to weaker demand from China, which is the largest export market for U.S. cardboard, Biderman said.
    Under most state and local laws, people can collect cardboard left outside by a business or doled out by a shopkeeper for recycling. But they can't remove materials from recycling bins left out at the curb, which are considered property of the local waste hauling company, said Ronald Steiner, a professor at Chapman University law school in Orange County, who teaches case law related to privacy rights and garbage.
    In San Bernardino County, officials are citing offenders with misdemeanor petty theft. So far, two citations have been issued, Rivera said.
    In Huntington Beach, California, about half to three-quarters of the cardboard placed in commercial bins is stolen before drivers can retrieve it, said Sue Gordon, vice president of public affairs at Rainbow Environmental Services.
    "They know our routes and they get there before we do, and they pop the lock and they pull it out," Gordon said.
    In San Bernardino County, at least one hauler is considering raising rates to offset the lost revenue.
    Burrtec Waste Industries, which is working with county investigators, has seen the problem grow since a California law required many businesses to recycle, which has meant more trips for trash trucks but also more thieves, said Michael Arreguin, the company's vice president.
    "We can't absorb it completely as a company," Arreguin said. "If it continues, the return value of the material has to go down, and therefore it increases the cost of that recycling container."
    Cardboard theft also makes it harder to determine whether the state is meeting mandated recycling goals, he said.
    Neighbors often complain about residential scavenging, fearing those rummaging through their trash bins might find information that could make them susceptible to identity theft. Others are more sympathetic to homeless scavengers seeking bottles and cans to make a meager living.
    Authorities say cardboard theft occurs on a much larger scale in commercial areas where big box retailers unload tons of the material along with their merchandise, but law enforcement rarely has time to police it.
    Cardboard thieves drive pick-up trucks fitted with rails to prevent the material from flying away, or trailers, so they can pack more in. Some drivers douse the material with water to make it heavier, and fetch more money at recycling centers, said Rivera, who has conducted surveillance on more than a dozen trucks, some of them trekking miles to retrieve cardboard, since last year.
    In Fontana, California, authorities from the district attorney's office recently pulled over one driver whose pickup was brimming with a tower of flattened boxes. They were concerned about the stability of the load, and wanted to determine whether the cardboard was legally obtained.
    In that case, 47-year-old Ramon Sucilla had been legitimately given the material by a local furniture store owner on the premise they'd split the recycling proceeds.
    Sucilla said he'd rather be holding down a warehouse job, but when work is scarce, cardboard helps make up the difference.
    "I don't know how thieves would steal it, or when, because it takes time," Sucilla said, adding it took him nearly two hours to load half a ton of cardboard worth $50. "People who do this, at least those who do so honorably, they do it out of necessity."

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