Thursday, April 30, 2015


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Creative Uses for Wine Corks

By Rachelle Gordon

If you are a wine fan, it's likely you have built up a collection of wine corks. Don't throw them out, though! Upcycle them with one of these ideas!
Fine wine fans across the world have seen plenty (and probably struggled with) at least a few corks. These bottle stoppers, derived from tree bark, may be small but they pack an environmental wallop – there are over 13 billion wine corks produced every year. It is estimated that nearly 200,000 hectares of forest are used for harvesting bark. Luckily, cork production is considered generally sustainable due to the fact that the trees are not cut down specially – the bark is just stripped. 

Pinot noir fans should not rest easy just yet, though – those corks you toss in the trash could easily be repurposed. Save up your used corks and turn them into cute coasters or DIY stampers. If you are not the crafty type, there are places where you can recycle corks. Keeping old corks out of landfills and lakes is the number one goal here – but making an adorable homemade wine corkboard that will make your friends jealous is a nice bonus. 

Check out some these super fun – and easy – things you can do with wine corks. 

Bathmat – This easy project will be a joy for your feet and your guests but it will take lots of corks – so be patient as you save yours up. Use a hot-glue gun to attach halved corks to a piece of vinyl shelf liner. Let it dry and add a touch of vintage country décor to your restroom. Check out a tutorial here and save yourself some money on those expensive bamboo mats. 

Recycle at Whole Foods – The organization Cork ReHarvest recently partnered with Whole Foods to bring cork donation boxes to nearly 300 stores across the United States, Canada and the U.K. ReHarvest takes the donated corks to a processing plant where they will be turned into recyclable wine shippers or other post-consumer products. Check out more about this cool program on this site

Magnetic cork succulent planter – Succulents are small plants that are incredibly easy to look after as they require little sun or water. Perfect for any home, small planters made from cork are absolutely adorable. All you will need are a few corks, very small succulent cuttings, magnets and a few other gardening implements. The idea is to hollow out the corks, fill with soil, plant the succulent and then apply a magnet for easy display. See the full instructions here

Wine cork coasters – An awesome addition to any wine-loving home, DIY wine cork coasters are incredibly easy to make and totally fun. Slice your corks in half and hot-glue them to a round cork coaster (available for practically nothing at most home stores). These handcrafted coasters would make an excellent housewarming or hostess gift – and after guests to your house see them, start expecting requests for more. 

Wine cork place card holders – Hosting a wine and cheese cocktail hour? Place card holders made out of wine corks are a great addition to your serving trays – and will certainly impress your guests. Throwing a rustic DIY wedding? Make these holders for your reception to help people find their dinner seats. Check out the full directions here

Cork stamps – Paper crafting would not be complete with some unique and fun stamps. Make your own sustainable cork stamps in whatever design you want – all it takes is your cork, an X-acto knife and a sharpie. Draw your design on one end of the cork and then very carefully puncture the area around the stamp in order to remove the excess. This website has great instructions and will have you making that personalized envelope stamp in no time. 

Start a journal – Want a unique way to display your memories? Start writing on each wine cork you use what the event or occasion was at the time – perhaps that wild girls’ night or the dinner party with your neighbors. Save the corks and put them into a shadow box for a neat way to remember nights that may or may not have been a little foggy. This blogger has been wine cork journaling for some time now and the results have been fantastic. 

Cork trivet – Probably the easiest craft you will ever do, wine cork trivets are useful and environmentally friendly. Simply glue wine corks together using either a hot-glue gun or plain super glue. Continue gluing until you have met your desired size. This guide will show you exactly how to make your trivet – just in case you’re stuck for ideas. 

Wine cork wreath – This wreath gives off an incredibly rustic vibe that Martha Stewart couldn’t even dream of. By gluing corks to a 12-inch straw wreath, you will quickly have a one-of-a-kind home décor piece sure to impress. Check out this blog for a great tutorial on this and other fun and inexpensive craft projects. 

Wine cork bulletin board – Bulletin boards are must-haves in every home as they help remind us of important events and contacts that we may otherwise miss. Wine corkboards are a great way to repurpose those corks in a simple yet useful way. This blog post has step-by-step instructions to build a quality and cute bulletin board that will become the new landing zone in your home. Side note: This is another project that requires a lot of corks, so remember to be patient! 

Secret USB drive – This idea – for people who need to keep their sensitive information on the down low – is actually fairly brilliant. Remove your USB drive from its outer shell and carefully insert into a hollowed out wine cork. The end result will be a stealth and sustainable place for all of those personal files you have been hiding at work. Make sure to watch this tutorial before attempting to remove your USB from its shell, as it can be a little bit of a challenge.

About the author

Rachelle Gordon is a Minneapolis-based writer and life enthusiast. She enjoys writing on subjects that relate to social justice, personal finance and wellness. When not writing, Rachelle likes playing with her dog Fonzie and collecting LEGO sets. Read more from Rachelle here:
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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Know Someone That Recycled 1 Million Tons Last Year?


Monday, April 27, 2015

How Does Glass Recycling Work?

By Dave Fidlin

Recent technological advances have made the process easier than ever!
Ever since the curbside recycling movement gained steam in the 1970s, glass has been one of the most commonly recycled items. But recent technological advancements have made the process of transforming that old jar of jam far less painstaking than the methods once used.

There is good reason to recycle glass. It’s one of the few compound materials out there that can be recycled, time and again, and not lose any of its original quality, purity and, most importantly, its strength. Glass’ durability over time is one of the reasons it has been such a popular material for food storage.

Members of the U.S. recycling industry estimate 13 million glass bottles and jars are sent through recycling centers on a daily basis. These glass containers once held such food and beverage products as juice, beer, liquor, wine and soda.

Here are a few other interesting facts about glass and recycling, courtesy of the Container Recycling Institute:

  • Recycled glass can be substituted for up to 95 percent of raw materials.
  • More than one ton of natural resources are saved for every ton of glass recycled.
  • For every ton of glass that is recycled, one ton of natural resources are saved.
  • There are 47 recycling plants specializing solely in glass in the U.S. They are spread across 22 states.
  • About eight full-time jobs are needed to recycle 1,000 tons of glass.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a few other fun facts on this topic:

  • Americans contributed about 11.6 million tons of glass toward the municipal solid waste stream in 2012.
  • As recycling as a whole has surged in recent decades, glass recycling has followed suit. Between 1980 and 2012, glass recycling increased from 750,000 tons to an astonishing 3 million tons.
  • While glass recycling has surged, the sad reality is there is still much more work to be done. In the U.S., only an estimated 28 percent of all glass on the market was recycled.
As is the case with most products, the benefits of recycling glass are numerous. For one, repurposing it saves energy. It also lowers emissions and reduces the amount of quarrying that takes place. Perhaps the most important aspect of recycling glass, however, is the reduction in what winds up in our ever-populated landfills.

From an economic perspective, glass recycling also has proven beneficial over time. As the U.S. EPA points out, “Glass container manufacturers need a steady supply of quality cullet (the term used to denote broken or waste glass) to make glass containers.”

The EPA further states, “Ninety percent of recycled glass is used to make new containers, and the demand for quality cullet is greater than the supply.”

In the early days of widespread recycling, discarded glass products were frequently repurposed for very different uses in their second lives. Some of it was used to cover landfills, while other particles went into some of the cheaper construction materials used on buildings.

In more recent times, however, many recycling centers across the globe have begun using old glass products for more useful purposes. Old bottles, for example, can be transformed into - you guessed it! - new bottles.

Glass jars, bottles and other similar products come in all shapes, sizes and colors, of course. Disparities aside, the beauty behind glass recycling is it doesn’t matter what form it comes in. Whether the glass is round, long, clear or green, it can be recycled.

As this post on Enlighten Me pointed out, glass bottles and jars are typically sorted into different color classes. This process was once handled manually by humans, but has since shifted to automation.

As the authors at Enlighten Me explained, color classification serves an important purpose: “(It) will indicate chemical incompatibility and will not properly melt if not separated. The glass products are also washed and cleaned to remove any impurities.”

NPR’s Planet Money blog laid out the modern transformative process in this eye-catching series of moving images.

NPR staffers toured a recycling center in Jersey City, N.J., and shared what took place - from an automated sorting process to removing such unwanted items as bottle caps to crushing the glass back down to a granular state. Eventually, the material is sold to bottle manufacturers.

The so-called decontamination process is one of the most important steps in recycling glass. The material is passed through a magnetic field in an attempt at removing any unwanted items that might still be attached to a glass item.

Another process, known as fine sizing, removes any potential ceramic contaminants that might still be attached to a glass item. Fine sizing includes the use of screens, which are used to separate the wanted and unwanted particles as the recycling process moves along. It’s important to remove ceramic contaminants because their presence can lead to structural defects.

As the recycled glass, in its granular state, winds up at a bottling plant, the material is mixed with limestone, sand and an intriguing substance known as soda ash. Together, the items are bonded through a melting process within furnaces that have temperatures soaring up to a whopping 2,700 degrees!

While modern sorting processes have made it possible for old glass jars and bottles to be reused from their original state, the material can also go toward a number of other purposes. Unfortunately, not all of those reuses lead to recyclable products. Some of the everyday items we use that contain some or all elements of recycled glass material include cookware, light bulbs, countertops, mirrors and flooring materials.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Tiny Plastic, Big Ocean, Huge Problem

Tiny Plastic, Big Ocean, Huge Problem

Tiny Plastic, Big Ocean, Huge Problem
Photo: The Beautiful Nation Project
Plastic bottles lying in the gutter. Grocery bags tangled in branches. Food wrappers scuttling across the ground on a windy day. Although such examples of litter easily come to mind, they only hint at the serious and growing problem of plastic pollution — a problem mostly hidden from view.
The problem with plastics is they do not easily degrade. They may break down, but only into smaller pieces. The smaller those pieces get, the more places they can go.
Many pieces wind up at sea. Tiny bits of plastic float throughout the world’s oceans. They wash up on remote islands. They collect in sea ice thousands of kilometers (miles) from the nearest city. They even meld with rock, creating a whole new material. Some scientists have proposed calling it plastiglomerate (pla-stih-GLOM-er-ut).
Exactly how much plastic is out there remains a mystery. Scientists are hard at work trying to find out. So far, though, experts haven’t found as much plastic floating in the oceans as they expected. All that missing plastic is worrisome, because the smaller a plastic bit becomes, the more likely it will make its way into a living thing, whether a tiny plankton or an enormous whale. And that may spell some real trouble.

Into the soup

Plastics are used to make countless everyday products — from bottles to auto bumpers, from homework folders to flowerpots. In 2012, 288 million metric tons (317.5 million short tons) of plastic were produced worldwide. Since then, that amount has only grown.
Just how much of that plastic winds up in the oceans remains unknown: Scientists estimate about 10 percent does. And one recent study suggests as much as 8 million metric tons (8.8 million short tons) of plastic wound up in the ocean in 2010 alone. How much plastic is that? “Five plastic bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world,” says Jenna Jambeck. She’s the researcher from the University of Georgia, in Athens, who led the new study. It was published February 13 in Science.
Of those millions of tons, as much as 80 percent had been used on land. So how did it get into the water? Storms washed some plastic litter into streams and rivers. These waterways then carried much of the trash downstream to the sea.
The other 20 percent of plastic ocean trash enters the water directly. This debris includes fishing lines, nets and other items lost at sea, dumped overboard or abandoned when they become damaged or are no longer needed.
Once in the water, not all plastics behave the same way. The most common plastic — polyethylene terephthalate (PAHL-ee-ETH-ill-een TEHR-eh-THAAL-ate), or PET — is used to make water and soft-drink bottles. Unless filled with air, these bottles sink. This makes PET pollution tough to track. That’s especially true if the bottles have drifted to the ocean depths. Most other types of plastic, however, bob along the surface. It’s these types — used in milk jugs, detergent bottles and Styrofoam — that make up the abundance of floating plastic trash.
Abundant, indeed: Evidence of plastic pollution abounds across the world’s oceans. Carried by circular currents called gyres (JI-erz), discarded pieces of plastic can travel thousands of kilometers. In some areas, they amass in huge quantities. Reports on the largest of these — the “Pacific Garbage Patch” — are easy to find online. Some sites report it to be twice the size of Texas. But defining the actual area is a difficult task. That’s because the garbage patch is actually quite patchy. It shifts around. And most of the plastic in that area is so tiny that it’s hard to see.

Millions of tons… gone missing

Recently, a group of scientists from Spain set out to tally just how much plastic floats in the oceans. To do so, the experts traveled the world’s oceans for six months. At 141 locations, they dropped a net into the water, dragging it alongside their boat. The net was made of very fine mesh. The openings were only 200 micrometers (0.0079 inch) across. This allowed the team to collect very small bits of debris. The trash included particles called microplastic.
The team picked out the plastic pieces and weighed the total found at each site. Then they sorted the pieces into groups based on size. They also estimated how much plastic might have moved deeper into the water — too deep for the net to reach — due to wind churning up the surface.
What the scientists found came as a complete surprise. “Most of the plastic is lost,” says Andrés Cózar. This oceanographer at the Universidad de Cádiz in Puerto Real, Spain, led the study. The amount of plastic in the oceans should be on the order of millions of tons, he explains. However, the collected samples lead to estimates of just 7,000 to 35,000 tons of plastic floating at sea. That’s just one-hundredth of what they had expected.
Most plastic that Cózar’s team fished out of the seas was either polyethylene or polypropylene. These two types are used in grocery bags, toys and food packaging. Polyethylene is also used to make microbeads. These tiny plastic beads can be found in some toothpastes and facial scrubs. When used, they wash down the drain. Too small to be trapped in filters at wastewater treatment plants, microbeads continue to travel into rivers, lakes — and eventually down to the sea. Some of this plastic would have been too small to have been caught in Cózar’s net.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Visionary Plastic Bottle Sculptures

An Artist's Visionary Plastic Bottle Sculptures Offer A New Perspective On Garbage

From far away, they look like plants from another planet, with a gem-like texture and an iridescent glow. And yet, to many, the otherworldly material would simply be called "trash.
Veronika Richterová, The Collection of Cactuses, Photo Michal Cihlář
Czech Republic-based artist Veronika Richterová is hoping to change that. The environmentally conscious creative is sharing her wisdom with the world, revealing that a bit of creativity can transform yesterday's litter into tomorrow's masterpiece. Since 2004, Richterová has been working with PET bottles, or bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate.
Such vessels can be recycled to reduce the amount of waste in landfills, and are deemed a favorable alternative to aluminum cans and glass bottles. Due to their lightweight composition, they can be transported efficiently, thereby producing fewer greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption. Although they're generally deemed safe, exposure to heat can lead to some safety concerns. The most sustainable option for beverage carriers, PET bottles can be recycled again and again, made into such materials as carpet fiber, tee-shirt fabric or dog beds. Or magical cactus sculptures.
"I'm always inspired by full recycling bins, where I find everything I need," Richterová explained to The Huffington Post. "The assortment of plastic bottles changes very quickly, so it is really exciting for me to work with new shapes and colors and to monitor their design development."
Veronika Richterová, The Collection of Cactuses, Photo Michal Cihlář
Richterová teamed up with her husband, graphic designer Michal Cihlář, to begin the PET-ART Museum, which houses a sweeping collection of 3,500 plastic bottles sourced from 96 countries. The massive reserve traces the evolution of the design of plastic bottles, while illuminating their differences and commonalities at different locations across the globe. The museum also exists to "point out the different possibilities of creative recycling," the artist explained.

So, how does one go about transforming a used Sprite bottle into an emerald cactus? "The principle is very simple; each PET bottle has the tendency to get smaller when heated. However, in my experience, it is hard to regulate the process as different kinds of bottles are of different quality and their behavior is often unpredictable. So my work has always been full of adventure. The final sculpture is usually the result of many experiments. The biggest advantage is that there is a lot of material for free everywhere. I have a special house full of bottles I have found, which is my ‘treasury‘ where I can go to choose what I want to work with."
Veronika Richterová, The Collection of Cactuses, Photo Michal Cihlář
The final works resemble the wild vegetation one might find on the other side of a rabbit hole -- transparent, smooth and illuminated from within. Although the ethereal greenery look like the stuff of another planet, they can actually teach us a thing or two about our own world, namely, the unexpected beauty lurking where we least expect it.
Richterová is out to spread the gospel regarding her unusual artistic practice, holding workshops and consultations to instruct others in the ways of eco-friendly art. She also holds portable exhibitions for hire, putting the lightweight and easily transportable nature of her medium to good use.
"I have realized that I have been a recycler since childhood. Aside from my academic studies I have always been experimenting with materials I have found. It's my way of expression, I simply want to share my ideas and delight of creation. I don't mean to communicate a ‘save the planet‘ message through this kind of art, but I do hope to bring people a new point of view on garbage."
Learn more about PET Bottles and the innovative ways you can use them.
  • Veronika Richterová, The Collection of Cactuses, Photo Michal Cihlář

Friday, April 24, 2015

Earth Day Every Day

30 great ways to celebrate Earth Day every day

Don't wait for April 22! Here is a month-long list of eco-awesome activities you can do to celebrate the planet every day.
Happy April!  We finally seem to be leaving old man winter in the dust and welcoming spring with open arms.  
April is also the month that we celebrate Earth Day. But you don't have to limit your green to just one day a year.  Why not celebrate all month long - or heck, even all year?  
Here are 30 great ways to go green.  You can do one a day, two a week, or maybe even just pick one that you want to focus on all month long.  Do you have any you want to add?  Let us know in the comments below! 
1. Plant a tree.
2. Plant a garden.
3. Pick up litter in your favorite local park.
4. Go for a hike.
5. Go for a picnic.
6. Reduce. Give the Earth and your wallet a break this month and pass on that new shirt or DVD.
7. Reuse. 
8. Recycle. If it's not already a habit, make it one this month. 
9. Go ahead.  Hug a tree.
10. Go meat-free. (Find great recipes to get you started here.)
11. Volunteer with your local environmental club or at a nearby state park.
13. Go for a hike.
14. Make eco-art.
15. Turn out the lights.
16. Step away from the car and walk or ride your bike instead.
17. Host an eco-swap.  Get together with friends and neighbors to swap your gently used spring cleaning discards.  
18. Take shorter showers.
19. Hit your local Green Festival to learn more about eco-happenings in your area.
20. Read an eco-book to your kids.
22. Go for a bike ride.
23. Break the plastic water bottle habit.  
24. Break the plastic bag habit.
25. Donate to a worthy eco-cause.  
27. Build a birdhouse.
28. Build a rain barrel.
29. Buy local.
30. Get outside.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Wolf Pack N Give

Wolf Pack N Give


Monday, April 20-Sunday, May 10

The Wolf Pack N Give program diverts the materials often discarded from the large exodus of students at the end of each year. University Housing and NC State’s Waste Reduction and Recycling Office collaborate to reduce waste during the end of the spring semester. By collecting what would have gone into the landfill, organizing the valuable items, and donating them to local organizations, reuse becomes a win-win. Items are donated to TROSA and Feed the Pack Food Pantry.

Acceptable Items

  • Furniture
  • Futon Mattresses & Frames (broken metal futon frames should be placed next to a landfill rolloff, staff will collect them for recycling)
  • Electronics (broken electronics should be placed in the yellow Electronics Recycling bins on campus)
  • Small home goods
  • Clothing and undergarments (laundered and in good condition)*
  • Shoes*
  • Wolf Pack N Give LogoFood Items (non-perishable and unopened – individually wrapped items are acceptable)
  • Books
  • Bedding and linens (laundered and in good condition)*
  • Pillows
  • Rugs/Carpets (carpets that are not in good condition should be placed next to a landfill rolloff or dumpster)
  • School supplies
  • Dish and laundry soap (these items do not need to be new, please make sure caps are properly sealed to prevent spilling)
  • Personal Care Items (shampoo, body wash, etc.)
  • Lofts and building materials used as furniture (ex. wood, metal and cement blocks)
*Ask your RA for a Wolf Pack N Give donation bag that can be filled with clothing, shoes and bedding and dropped off at your nearest donation station.

Donation Locations

Donations will be accepted at any of the outdoor Pack Rat stations on campus between the hours of 8:00 am-8:00 pm. There are also a few indoor drop off locations available. Click here to view a printable campus map of all of the donation stations

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Earth Day

Earth Pic 2013.bmp
Happy Earth Day


April 22


“We have not inherited the Earth from our fathers, we are borrowing it from our children”







Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How To Successfully Grow Potatoes In Tires

How To Successfully Grow Potatoes In Tires

potatoHere’s a question that I get from potato lovers: “How can I grow potatoes in abundance in limited space?”
Growing potatoes in tires can be quite simple and here are my instructions how to do it and have a bumper crop. You get a chance to do some recycling and vertical gardening all together.
Depending on the size of the tires, I first wash them. If they are small enough for me to get them in my pickup truck, I’ll take them to a car wash and wash them under pressure
with soap then rinse with water. Inside the tire and outside as well, making sure the tread is free from road grim and grit.
You’ll want to set the tire away from an prevailing winds to keep their foliage from getting wind damage. Make sure the spot you select will be free of most foot traffic and out
of the way of activities to avoid the set-up from being knocked over. Press down any growth on the ground such as clover or grass, and lay a thick mat of saturated newspapers over the grass or area which you will be setting tire over. Over this, put down 2 nice layers of cardboard: one long ways, the other cross ways: you can cut the cardboard away AFTER you position the tires on top of the cardboard. The newspaper will soon deteriorate into the soil, but the cardboard hangs around for awhile, giving added protection against weeds and grass that would come up into the tire.
Whether or not you trim away the rim of the top tire is your decision. Some tires I do trim, others I do not. The bigger the tire is, the more likely I am to trim away the
sidewall up to its tread. (This is just my own way of doing things).
Wet the cardboard down really good then start stuffing newspapers, leaves, straw, corncobs, sawdust or whatever you have that will absorb moisture into the inner rim
of the tires so when rains come, the organic material will take up the excess moisture and hold it till the plants need it the most: moisture will “wick” away from the inner rim into the main tire container area.
3493350364_f2dbe6de4b_oOnce the rim is packed with such materials you have on hand or can obtain at no cost to you or for little cost, crumble your topsoil, potting soil and cover the cardboard with 3 or 4 soil inches of this mixture, then seat your potato seeds into that mixture. I always add a dusting of hardwood ashes I’ve kept from the wood stove over the potatoes. Potash is very good for root crops.
Once your potatoes are in place, dusted with wood ash, cover with a layer (not pressed down) of straw, shredded newspapers, compost, or whatever mulch you’ll be using, then cover the top hole with a piece of glass, Plexiglas, or you can rig clear plastic over the top if you have nothing else to use. Glass and/or Plexiglas is ever so much easier on you the gardener, than using the plastic cover is. Because the bed must be watered weekly unless rainfall measures 1-inch. You never want the soil to dry out, and potatoes (sweet and Irish) need a lot of water to return you a bumper crop.
Irish potatoes need only 4-inches of top growth. When your tater vines/plants reach 6-inches tall, it’s time to add a 2-inch layer of mulch, and snug it up around the potato plant stems. When it’s time, add another tire on top of the first one. And just keep adding mulch, water, and tires until the stack grows 5-6 tires tall. You may need to drive a wooden stay on 2 or 3 sides of the tires so they won’t blow over when storms come, or when you brush against them, or dogs hit them while chasing a ball, or once night temps no longer offer a chance of frost, you can omit the glass top: if you have who might eat the tater vine, you can use an old window screen instead of the glass top. And when the temps get around or above 80 degrees, put a layer of newspaper around the upper edge of the top most tire: this will to deflect heat away from the tire and preserves inner moisture as well.
The first blooms that form, I pinch off. This pours more growth to the roots which is what you’ll harvest anyhow. The 2nd set of blooms, I allow to form and soon after the vines will begin to dry and become mulch. You can “dig” your taters by removing one tire at a time. If you’ll prepare another tire spot before unloading your tater tire, as soon as you remove one tire, you can roll it over on top of the cardboard spot you’ve just made beside your tater tire, and by the time your potatoes are all lying out on the ground, you’ll have another tater tower built ready to plant into again to make another crop of late fall taters to harvest just before a hard freeze hits your area…depending, of course, on just what area that is.
Troy Brooks is the Managing Director for Heirloom Seed Company. Together with his family they have been homesteading, raising livestock and living Off-Grid on their Ranch in West Texas. He is also a Certified Master Herbalist and enjoys living a Self-Sufficient lifestyle for more than 20 years.

Monday, April 20, 2015

20 Uses for Old Milk Jugs

By Michelle Lovrine Honeyager

Give your milk jugs a second life with one of these upcycling ideas!
If you drink traditional milk, milk jugs are one of those items you’ll constantly having lying around. Luckily, they’re recyclable, but current plastic products often degrade and can only be used once. Many times, pure plastic products are repurposed into other items like fabrics. Your milk jug doesn’t stay a milk jug forever. So a good option is to extend the life of your milk jugs by reusing them around the house. They’re surprisingly versatile and you can use them as substitutes for many more expensive products.

  1. Homemade scooper This is probably the most common use for empty milk jugs. Just cut the jug in half with a sharp scissors. Slant the cut so the handle remains and the jug forms a scoop shape. Keep the cap on the bottom. It works great for pet food, birdseed, driveway salt, grass seed and anything else that needs a scoop.

  2. Pool cover weights
    Filling your empty milk jugs with water is an easy, cheap way to create an instant weight. Weights can get pretty pricey, so this is a lovely alternative. They’re great for weighing down pool covers. They can also be used to keep tarps in place.

  3. Cat and dog toys
    This one’s easy. Just empty the jug and give to your dog. Your dog will probably carry it and kick it around. Dogs are like small kids: They play with anything. Put beans or beads into the jar for a toy you can use to tease your cat, who will probably swat at it. Also, you can add brightly colored feathers and bangles with tape for extra cat-teasing goodness. 

  4. Homemade maracas
    If you have kids who are at the age when they are just learning music and rhythm, you can use milk jugs to make homemade maracas they can play with. It’s bound to be less irritating than pots and pans banging. Like the cat toy, just put some beans in the jug.

  5. Simple garbage pail
    Just cut the top off the jug and you have an instant, small garbage can. You can use it to throw food scraps in to take to the compost pile, throw scraps in while crafting or chuck coffee grounds into it. It’s a great size to just stick on a counter.

  6. Drip plate under a planter
    Cut off the bottom of the jug and place that under a small planter. That will catch any leaking that may happen. You can easy remove the catch and drain when needed.  

  7. Easy cold pack
    Here’s another popular use for milk jugs. Add some water to the jug and stick it in the freezer. You can then use it in a cooler to keep drinks and food cold. When it thaws you have some cold water, and it doesn’t soak everything the way lose or bagged ice would.  

  8. Planters
    If you need a cheap planter for getting some spring seedlings going, look no further than a milk jug. You can completely cut the top off and recycle it, or keep the top and put it back on for a homemade terrarium setup.  

  9. Watering can
    You can also poke holes in the top of the jug for a watering can. Fill the bottom half with water and pour out of the holes. It even still has a convenient handle.  

  10. Water wings
    If you need some cheap water wings, just get some ribbon and tie the empty jugs to your child’s arms. The jug will add instant buoyancy. Again, not very classy, but it does the job.  

  11. Water weights
    You can also use the jugs in the pool for water aerobics. Water weights can run unnecessarily expensive, so just get some empty milk jugs and push down into the water for an instant workout.  

  12. Clothespin hanger
    Just cut the top off the jug for an easy storage container. Cutting the handle will make a great hook for hanging the jug on a clothesline. You can then store your clothespins in that.  

  13. An easy funnel
    It always feels like we never have a decent funnel lying around when we need it. Except that we do. Cut the bottom off a milk jug and turn upside down. Take the cap off and you have an instant funnel.   
  14. Plastic bag holder
    Cut a hole in the side of a milk jug and fill it with plastic bags. You’ll have a simple way to contain your bags finally, and they’ll be easy to pull out. The jug’s light color is good for knowing how full your bag container is, as well.    

  15. Bird feeder
    The handle on the jug makes it perfect for hanging it from trees. Cut holes near the top and fill with birdseed. Again, it doesn’t have the style of more expensive birdfeeders, but it certainly gets the job done.  

  16. Weight training
    Fill your milk jugs with sand and use them for weight training. You’ve essentially just created a low-cost kettle bell. Even better, you can add as much sand as you want to increase or decrease the weight. If you want to go heavier, you could consider denser fillings like cement.  

  17. Emergency water supply
    If you live in Hurricane Alley, or just always want to be prepared, keep jugs of tap water in your basement. You’ll have water available for drinking, flushing toilets and washing in case of an emergency. You can even keep one in your car in case of an overheated radiator.

  18. Plant markers
    Plant markers seem to be unnecessarily marked up in price. Cut out some markers from the flat sides of the jugs. You can easily label them with a Sharpie, and the plastic will withstand all weather conditions.

  19. Cheap, disposable mixing bowl
    Cut out the bottom third of the milk jug for a cheap mixing bowl you won’t mind staining. It’s great for mixing dyes.  

  20. Jug catcher game
    If you really want to get creative, this idea from Lakeshore will give your kids a fun craft project and an active game all in one go. You can use two milk jugs, some crafter’s tape and some newspaper to make a catch game. Just cut the bottom off each jug, cover with crafter’s tape, ball up the newspaper and secure the newspaper with the tape.
- See more at:

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Trout fishing to be introduced at Hanging Rock State Park

Trout fishing to be introduced at Hanging Rock State Park

RALEIGH –Rainbow trout will be introduced in a 12-acre lake at Hanging Rock State Park in Stokes County as part of a joint program between the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.
The stocking program was launched April 10 provides a unique opportunity for recreational trout fishing outside of traditional mountain trout waters and is particularly accessible to children, older anglers and mobility-impaired individuals. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will stock the lake with 2,400 catchable-sized rainbow trout in April and October of each year. The stocking effort complements a new, handicapped-accessible pier built in 2013 in a cooperative effort between state parks staff and the wildlife agency to enhance fishing opportunities in the park.
Although a North Carolina fishing license is required for anglers 16 years old and over at the lake, a separate trout fishing license will not be required. Anglers may harvest seven trout per day with no size limit, and there are no restrictions on bait or type of hooks used. Also, there is no closed season associated with this fishery, so anglers can fish the lake all year.
“For less mobile anglers, fishing for trout in lakes is much simpler than fishing in streams,” said Kin Hodges, fisheries biologist for the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. “The opportunity to fish in a lake, combined with a handicapped-accessible fishing pier, makes Hanging Rock Lake an ideal location for handicapped anglers to fish for trout. These same qualities also make it the perfect place to introduce small children to trout fishing.”
Hodges said Hanging Rock Lake will become the easternmost trout fishery in the state, making it attractive to anglers from the Piedmont who might not have the time or means to visit mountain streams for trout fishing.
The lake also supports populations of largemouth bass, bluegill and redear sunfish and the state park offers boat rentals in warm-weather months.
For more information on fishing in inland waters in North Carolina, visit the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s website,

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Bee Aware

NC Teens Exhibit at the White House Science Fair!

Congratulations to the Bee Aware team! They recently exhibited at the White House Science Fair. The text below is from the Bee Aware team entry from the White House Blog 

The “Bee Aware” team from North Carolina is working to help revitalize honey bee populations and to inform the public and businesses about the harmful effects of specific chemicals on honey bee populations and the harmful ramifications to human, animal and plant life. As part of their project, the group has presented to local garden clubs, Christmas tree farms, businesses, visitors, and tourists about honeybee science. They’ve also presented scientific information about honeybees to school across the region, educating more than a thousand High Country elementary schoolers on the importance of honeybees and what can be done to protect them. The Bee Award Team was awarded the $25,000 Columbus Foundation Community Grant for their project, which will include the opening of a bee sanctuary in their community this spring.

More information about the Bee Aware team and all of their current projects in on their website, 
and also in this article in the Mountain Times

Friday, April 17, 2015

Exploring Ecotourism


Thursday, April 16, 2015

4.5 Million Students Recycle and Compost 80.1 Million Pounds

4.5 Million Students Recycle and Compost 80.1 Million Pounds in 2015 RecycleMania Tournament

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 13, 2015) – For the second year in a row, a small university in Seattle, Wash., was crowned Grand Champion of RecycleMania, a waste reduction and recycling competition among colleges and universities across 49 U.S. states and Canada. At Antioch University Seattle, just 4 percent of the "waste" generated on campus ended up in the trash, with the other 96 percent being composted or recycled.

The 394 schools participating enrolled 4.5 million students, with the American contingent representing nearly one in five U.S. college students. The RecycleMania program is managed by Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s leading nonprofit that builds and sustains clean, green and beautiful communities.

Competing colleges and universities are ranked according to how much recycling, trash and food waste they collect over two months. Between the Feb. 1 kickoff and the final recycling weigh-in on March 28, participating schools recycled or composted 80.1 million pounds of recyclables and organic materials, preventing the release of 129,411 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2E) into the atmosphere, which is equivalent to preventing annual emissions from 25,375 cars.

A new aspect of the competition, the "3R Actions Challenge," encourages students to not only take action by reducing, reusing and recycling (commonly referred to as "The three R’s"), but also to share those actions via text, Twitter or a mobile app. Chatham University, University at Albany, University of Texas at Arlington, and The Ohio State University came out on top, reducing, reusing, recycling and "selfie-ing" their way to victory in their respective population divisions.

The colleges and universities taking home top prizes include:

 "Grand Champion" (percentage of overall waste that is recycled): Antioch University (96 percent)

"Per Capita Classic" (total pounds of recyclables per person): Loyola Marymount University (73.9 lbs.)

"Waste Minimization" (least overall waste per person): North Lake College (3.3 lbs.)

Complete results for all 13 categories can be found at, including a breakout that shows how schools performed by athletic conference, institution size, state, and other groupings. The national winners of each category are recognized with an award made from recycled materials.

"RecycleMania took the competition to a new level in our 15th anniversary year," said Stacy Wheeler, president and co-founder of RecycleMania, Inc. "We are thrilled with the increased engagement around waste reduction and recycling spurred by 3R Actions, the new digital and social component of the RecycleMania Tournament."

Weekly rankings kept the competitive energy surging from week to week in categories including 3R Actions; recycling rate; overall recycling by weight; least amount of total waste; and most recycling per capita for paper, cardboard, cans and bottles, and food waste. Colleges also participated in special categories targeting electronics, film plastics, and materials generated at home basketball games.

"We know that competition is a significant motivator," said Jennifer Jehn, president and CEO of Keep America Beautiful. "Keep America Beautiful is proud to encourage recycling among young leaders through the RecycleMania program. Congratulations to all the participants making a difference in their campus communities."

The competition is made possible with the sponsorship support of Alcoa Foundation and The Coca-Cola Company.

"The students and universities participating in RecycleMania continue to drive impactful change by significantly reducing waste in hundreds of communities," said Esra Ozer, president, Alcoa Foundation. "Alcoa and Alcoa Foundation congratulate this year’s winners and participants on their remarkable efforts to promote recycling."

"Recycling has a huge benefit to society and our vision is for all Americans to become avid recyclers. Supporting programs to help make recycling a habit is the best way for us to increase recycling rates," said Bruce Karas, vice president of environment and sustainability at Coca-Cola North America. "At Coca-Cola, we are pleased to continue our support for RecycleMania to encourage college students to recycle more. Our hope is that students will create recycling habits that continue throughout their lives and impact future generations."

About RecycleMania The RecycleMania Tournament was launched in 2001 as a friendly challenge between Ohio University and Miami University to increase recycling on their campuses. RecycleMania is an independent program of RecycleMania, Inc., a nonprofit composed of a board of directors who are professional college recycling and sustainability managers from across the country. Program management is provided by Keep America Beautiful with additional program support from the United States EPA’s WasteWise program and the College and University Recycling Coalition (CURC). This year, RecycleMania partnered with National Wildlife Foundation’s Campus Ecology program, Campus Conservation Nationals (CCN) and myActions. For complete competition details including a list of participating schools, visit the RecycleMania website at

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