Tuesday, June 30, 2015

State Butterfly



Eastern tiger swallowtail

by Michelle Czaikowski Underhill
NC Government & Heritage Library, 2012.
Photograph of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly, from <i>Extension Gardener</i>, NC Cooperative Extension Service, 2009.  Presented on NC Digital Collections. Photograph of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly, from Extension Gardener, NC Cooperative Extension Service, 2009. Presented on NC Digital Collections. The North Carolina General Assembly designated the Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) as the official State butterfly of the State of North Carolina. The bill was ratified on June 11, 2012 and approved on June 15, 2012.
The Eastern tiger swallowtail is native to North America and is generally considered the first North American butterfly to have been drawn. The first drawing of it was by John White. White was an artist, cartographer, and is also known as the governor of the Roanoke Island colony that came to be known as the "Lost Colony."
About twenty-five other states either have official state butterflies or have butterflies as their official state insect. Delaware, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia all either have the Eastern tiger swallowtail as their official state butterfly or as their official state insect.

John White's early depiction of the male Eastern tiger swallowtailWhite, John. 1585-1593. Tiger swallowtail butterfly. British Museum.Additional resources:
Bowen, Liessa Thomas and Chris Moorman. 2002. Butterflies in your backyard: urban wildlife. North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service, North Carolina State University. Online at http://www.ncsu.edu/goingnative/ag636_02.pdf
North Carolina General Assembly. 2012. "An act adopting the Eastern tiger swallowtail as the official State butterfly, designating the Shelby Livermush Festival as the official fall livermush festival of the State of North Carolina, designating the Marion Livermush Festival as the official spring livermush festival of the State of North Carolina, and designating the Swansboro Mullet Festival as the official mullet festival of North Carolina." Session Law 2012-29. Online at http://ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/SessionLaws/HTML/2011-2012/SL2012-29.html
Wildlife Junior Journal, New Hampshire Public Television: http://www.nhptv.org/wild/karnereasterntigerswallowtail.asp
Dodge, Greg. 2010. "Tiger swallowtails and others." NC Museum of Life & Science blogs. http://blogs.ncmls.org/greg-dodge/2010/08/04/tiger-swallowtails-and-others/
Image credits:
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly. Photograph. Extension Gardener. 2009. Extension Gardener</i>, NC Cooperative Extension Servicehttp://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p249901coll22/id/428850, 2009.  Presented on NC Digital Collections. http://digital.ncdcr.gov/cdm/ref/collection/p249901coll22/id/428850 (accessed December 17, 2014).
White, John. 1585-1593. Tiger swallowtail butterfly. British Museum. Online at http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/search_object_details.aspx?objectid=753484&partid=1. Accessed 6/22/2012.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sorted Waste Tonnage Before Recycling - EPA

Figure 4. Total MSW Generation (by Material), 2013
254 Million Tons (before recycling)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Innovative Ways Governments Are Incentivizing Recycling

Innovative Ways Governments Are Incentivizing Recycling

Composting, single-stream recycling part of the road to the zero-waste dream.
Through a variety of methods - including mandatory recycling and composting programs and vigorous education campaigns - the city of San Francisco has notched an enviable statistic within the realm of local government.

In 2013, city officials reported the community was well on its way to achieving the gold standard of zero-waste. Eighty percent of the city’s residential, commercial and industrial waste is diverted from landfills and instead recycled, composted or repurposed.

The statistic far surpasses what most other communities reported that same year. This begs the question: What is San Francisco doing to that other municipalities, counties and other governing agencies can adopt?

The land of fog and the Golden Gate Bridge, of course, is notoriously progressive, but that singular scenario is not the be all-end all rationale for the success in the Bay area.

The city has devoted significant resources - far more than most governing agencies – to spreading the word about the many ways to keep unwanted items out of landfills. A public-private partnership with the local organization Recology has also been forged.

When the 80-percent figure was first announced, Melanie Nutter, San Francisco’s department of environment director, was quoted on the website Triple Pundit as saying the success occurred because of a focused, concerted effort across the city.

“Innovative policies, financial incentives, as well as outreach and education are all effective tools in our toolbox that have helped San Francisco reach 80 percent diversion,” Nutter said in the article. “We would not have achieved this milestone without the hard work and partnership of many people and businesses across the city.”

Some of San Francisco’s standout policies are plainly noticeable. Case in point: The city has three, rather than the standard two, bins for waste. Blue bins are used for recycling, black for traditional garbage and the more novel green bin for food scraps, organic materials and other items that can be composted.

Another noteworthy development in the city has trickled down to retailers. San Francisco made national headlines several years ago when it banned retailers from using non-compostable plastic bags.

The good news is not all about diverting items away from landfills. Because of its aggressive focus on composting, greenhouse gas emissions within San Francisco have been reduced by double percentage points in the past quarter century.

City leaders have stated their goal is to be at or near a zero-waste benchmark by 2020.

While other large-sized municipalities on par with San Francisco’s massive population have undertaken similar progressive efforts, smaller scale innovative programs have also been notched in suburban and rural communities across the U.S. as well.

Difficult as it is to imagine for urban dwellers, there are communities across the country, particularly in rural communities, without a regular recycling service.

Despite a weak economy, leaders in the small Georgia city of Cartersville decided to implement a curbside recycling program, an effort outlined in a report in American City and Country magazine.

Before the curbside program was introduced, Cartersville residents had to go out of their way and drop off recyclables at a satellite, county-run drop-off site that was well outside the city limits.

Through a series of carefully orchestrated efforts, Bobby Elliott, the city’s public works director, was able to implement a citywide recycling program in exchange for a $2 monthly increase from residents.

In an effort to stay within the city’s financial means, yet move forward with progressive waste handling, Elliott in the magazine report said efficiency was at the forefront of the effort. With backing by city officials, he was authorized to purchase a collection vehicle that maximized the number of stops within a route.

Not long after implementation, the city reported 1,500 participants in the recycling program, a figure that Elliott said was well beyond the initial goal.

Within the past decade, single-stream recycling is an effort that has grown at a rapid clip across the U.S. The reasons for its success are not difficult to understand. By placing all recyclables - paper, plastic and aluminum - in the same container, consumers are more willing to refrain from tossing unwanted items in the ole’ trash can.

In Bloomington, a mid-sized city in central Illinois, single-stream recycling arrived in 2010. According to this report in the Pantagraph newspaper, Public Works Director Jim Karch said the city anticipated a 20-percent increase in recycled materials.

But the article also illustrated the challenges in taking on progressive efforts in some communities. In Normal, a city adjacent to Bloomington, the city’s public works director, Mike Hall, was quoted as saying plans were not in motion to mix materials. The reason: Normal was receiving more compensation from its recycling contractor by sending materials that already had been sorted.

In rural communities, efforts to bring effective recycling programs into the hands of its sparsely populated residents remain ongoing.

“When state legislatures wrote waste reduction and recycling mandates into law and placed responsibility with local governments, few gave special consideration to rural areas,” Debra Siniard Stinnett wrote on the website Waste 360.

In addition to some of the more obvious obstacles - a limited tax base and a traditionally low level of government services - some rural communities have other challenges to contend with, such as fluctuating population figures from one season to the next.

“An extremely successful rural recycling program can extract approximately 9 percent of the residential waste stream if items such as glass, metal containers and newspapers are recovered,” Stinnett wrote. “Adding corrugated containers and other commercial wastes can boost the diversion rate.”

Mirroring a recommendation for other services - such as law enforcement and fire protection - Stinnett in her analysis recommended sparsely populated communities consider a regional approach toward recycling with partnerships forged between other nearby municipalities and, perhaps, the county government.

But there is reason to hope the zero-waste dream can be achieved from the San Franciscos of this country, all the way down to towns with a few hundred people - or, perhaps, even less.

In her analysis, Stinnett said rural areas do have certain strengths that can aid in enhancing recycling services, starting with a strong sense of community, thriftiness and a history of volunteering to make their municipality a better place to live, work and play.

About the author

Dave Fidlin is a Milwaukee-based freelance journalist and writer. Throughout his career, Dave has written about government, education, technology and the environment. Growing up in a small town, surrounded by nature, Dave learned from an early age to respect and appreciate the earth's beauty.
- See more at: http://recyclenation.com/2015/06/innovative-ways-governments-are-incentivizing-recycling#sthash.CdUlMhvo.dpuf

Friday, June 26, 2015

Environmental Educators of NC Conference

    Registration open for the Environmental Educators of NC Conference in Sept:

  • Thursday, June 25, 2015

    NC Green Travel

    Welcome to North Carolina! This week's featured NC GreenTravel Initiative listing includes the North Carolina Interstate Welcome Centers. They are green and great to visit! http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/deao/welcomecenters

    Wednesday, June 24, 2015

    Nifty infographic shows the ins and outs of recycling

    Nifty infographic shows the ins and outs of recycling

    How does the U.S. compare to other countries when it comes to recycling? How much trash does the average American generate each day? Which U.S. city has the worst recycling rate? The answer to these questions and more in this snappy little infographic.  Which statistic do you find most surprising?

    Interesting Recycling Facts [Infographic]
    © 2013 Fast Haul

    Tuesday, June 23, 2015

    Lowe’s Donates $1 Million to Keep America Beautiful


    Lowe’s Donates $1 Million to Keep America Beautiful to Improve Communities Nationwide

    2015 Grant Program to Help Push National Partners Past 40,000 Volunteer Milestone

    STAMFORD, Conn. (June 18, 2015) — Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s leading nonprofit that builds clean, green and beautiful communities, today announced Lowe’s has donated $1 million to support 50 local community service projects and Keep America’s Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup, the nation’s largest community improvement program. The 2015 projects range from restoring neighborhood parks and planting community gardens to leading disaster restoration initiatives and large-scale cleanups.

    Lowe's Community Partners Grants ResultsThe Keep America Beautiful/Lowe’s grant program engages local volunteers to take action to benefit communities across the country. Over the past four years, Lowe’s has supported Keep America Beautiful and its affiliates with more than $4 million in contributions and the support of Lowe’s Heroes employee volunteers. With the help of the 2015 grant, Lowe’s and Keep America Beautiful will have mobilized more than 40,000 volunteers since the partnership began.

    “We’re grateful to Lowe’s and all of the Lowe’s Heroes employee volunteers, who in partnership with our affiliates and other community-based volunteers, spend countless hours to make a difference through our Great American Cleanup and other community improvement initiatives,” said Jennifer Jehn, president and CEO of Keep America Beautiful. “Keep America Beautiful is thrilled to call Lowe’s our partner and looks forward to transforming more public spaces into beautiful places together in 2015 and beyond.”

    Here are some highlights of Lowe’s grant initiatives that will take place in 2015:

    Keep Texas Beautiful (Austin) – A $20,000 grant will allow Keep Texas Beautiful to provide 12 drought-affected affiliate communities with the support and materials needed to create and maintain native plant demonstration gardens with the goal of educating and engaging people to grow natives in their home gardens and at their workplaces.

    Keep Las Vegas Beautiful – Selected Las Vegas City schools each will receive a $4,000 grant to help bring community murals to low-income areas. The mural program successfully brings together community advocacy groups, professional muralists and neighborhood youth to generate community involvement and neighborhood pride.

    Keep Knoxville BeautifulKeep Knoxville Beautiful received a $20,000 grant to plant 6,000 bulbs along a main highway exit interchange and another 58,000 bulbs at two additional exits. Future plans include working with the city to add shrubs and trees to enhance these roadways.

    Keep Georgia Beautiful (Atlanta) – With the help of Lowe’s Heroes, Keep Georgia Beautiful will use a $20,000 grant to begin outfitting all of Georgia’s State Parks with Nature Explore classrooms – nature-based play and learning spaces. The initial pilot parks are among the most visited in the state.

    Keep Cincinnati Beautiful – Lowe’s Heroes will join Keep Cincinnati Beautiful and additional volunteers to repair a community playground, revitalize nearby abandoned buildings with fresh paint and clean and landscape vacant lots with the support of a $10,000 grant.

    Keep Riverside Clean & Beautiful – A $5,000 Lowe’s grant will help Keep Riverside Clean & Beautiful continue to clean and restore the Santa Ana River and local waterways in Riverside, California, providing a healthier habitat for natural wildlife and vegetation to thrive. It also will support the affiliate’s efforts to communicate the importance of water conservation as California manages through a statewide drought.

    Keep America Beautiful affiliates and partnering organizations received nearly 245 Lowe’s grants the past three years. More than 1,000 Lowe’s Heroes participated alongside other community volunteers, who together contributed nearly 196,000 volunteer hours to improve local communities. Through this partnership, nearly 1 million flowers and bulbs have been planted; more than 225 playgrounds/recreational areas have been restored; and more than 1,000 community gardens have been planted.

    “We take great pride in the work we do with Keep America Beautiful to improve the health of our communities,” said Joan Higginbotham, Lowe’s director of community relations. “We look forward to inspiring more people to join us so that we can continue to make our communities better places to live.”

    Last year, the Keep America Beautiful/Lowe’s grants supported service projects in 27 states, including a new pollinator/sensory garden, walking trail and kayak launch on Pelahatchie Bay in Mississippi, the revitalization of 12 neglected parks in Flint, Michigan, and the creation of new areas to rest and play along a wide stretch of Port St. Lucie, Florida.

    About Lowe’s in the Community
    Lowe’s, a FORTUNE® 50 home improvement company, has a 50-year legacy of supporting the communities it serves through programs that focus on K-12 public education and community improvement projects. Since 2007, Lowe’s and the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation together have contributed more than $225 million to these efforts, and for more than two decades Lowe’s Heroes employee volunteers have donated their time to make our communities better places to live. To learn more, visit Lowes.com/SocialResponsibility and LowesInTheCommunity.tumblr.com. 
    About Keep America Beautiful
    Keep America Beautiful is the nation’s leading nonprofit that brings people together to build and sustain vibrant communities. With our national network of community-based affiliates, we work with millions of volunteers who take action in their communities to transform public spaces into beautiful places. Through our programs and public-private partnerships, we engage individuals to take greater responsibility for improving their community’s environment. Learn how you can donate or take action at kab.org. Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or view us on YouTube.

    Monday, June 22, 2015

    Beaching It without Waste

    Beaching It without Waste

    Considering a trip to the beach? Make sure it's a waste-free one with these tips.
    As you traverse to your favorite beach this summer, make sure you are leaving behind happy memories and not the remains of your day. Thinking ahead as you prepare for a day at the beach will ensure your favorite spot remains a beautiful place for everyone.

    “Treat the earth well, for it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.” ~Native American Proverb

    Here are some tips for packing a waste-free picnic for a day at the beach (or your favorite park): 
    • Bring reusable water bottles, glasses and thermoses full of your favorite beverages. Avoid single use plastic water bottles. According to the Pacific Institute, in addition to the water sold in plastic bottles, it is estimated twice as much water is being used in the production process. So every time you buy a 16-ounce bottle of water, you are using 48-ounces of water, not to mention the other non-renewable resources that are being consumed. 
    • Bring cloth napkins, real silverware and dishes. 
    • If you need to wrap things up, use wax paper (which can be composted) or tin foil (which can be recycled). 
    • Pack whole foods purchased locally. An apple, for example, has its own “packaging” and it’s completely compostable. 
    • Avoid single serving and over-packaged foods, as well as plastic and Styrofoam. Bring only the amount of food you believe will be eaten. 
    According to Feeding America, Americans waste approximately 70 billion pounds of food every year.
    Before you start your picnic have a designated location for people to put recyclables, compostables and garbage. It’s extremely important to make sure you do not leave anything behind that might injure the local wildlife.

    The City of Monterey explained, “Each year, birds, fish and other mammals are killed or injured by waterway debris. Turtles mistake plastic bags for jellyfish. Birds get tangled in monofilament fishing lines or discarded nets. Fish get trapped in six-pack rings.”

    Many people assume that if there is trash in the ocean it must be from the fishing or shipping industries. But in fact, according to the California Coastal Commission, only 20 percent of the items found in the ocean can be “linked to ocean-based sources, like commercial fishing vessels, cargo ships (discharge of containers and garbage) or pleasure cruise ships.” The remaining 80 percent is caused by people on land, land-based sources like “litter (from pedestrians, motorists, beach visitors), industrial discharges (in the form of plastic pellets and powders), and garbage management (ill-fitting trash can lids” and so on.

    Keeping Safe in the Sun

    Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) comes out with an invaluable guide for buying sunscreen. Some chemicals found in sunscreen products are bad for you, so make sure you are making smart sunscreen purchases. The EWG also has smart tips for being safe out in the sun.

    One great tip: Find shade – or make it. The EWG suggests picnicking under a tree or taking a canopy or umbrella to the beach. Make sure you keep your babies in the shade, which will reduce the risk of multiple burns by 30 percent.

    Find the EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens here.

    Relax, recharge and enjoy your trip to the beach.

    About the author

    Wendy Gabriel is a freelance eco-writer now based in Fresno, California. Gabriel and her work have been featured in numerous publications and websites including the Chicago Sun-Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fox Business News and Mashable.com. For nearly six years, she was a weekly contributor on a popular radio talk show in the Upper Midwest with a segment titled "Simple Tips for Green Living." Gabriel is an avid recycler, rainwater harvester, composter, thrifter and was instrumental in coordinating the planning and creation of a large mural made with recycled materials at a local elementary school in Fargo, North Dakota. Gabriel was the driving force behind starting a school garden program implemented at several Fargo schools. The founder of MyGreenSide.org and tweeting under @MyGreenSide, Gabriel has gone from the freezer (Fargo) to the furnace (Fresno) and could not be happier exploring California with the loves of her life, her husband and two daughters.

    Sunday, June 21, 2015

    Save a Sea Turtle

    Peppermint Narwhal Creative's photo.
    Did you ever wonder where those released helium balloons end up? Well some eventually find their way into the ocean and become what's called Marine Debris. Mari...ne Debris is a serious problem for ocean animals. Animals can become entangled in or accidentally ingested marine debris and have serious health issues or even die as a result. Always dispose of trash properly and strive to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible.

    Saturday, June 20, 2015

    17 Creative Wine Bottle Upcycles

    17 Creative Wine Bottle Upcycles

    Ever wondered what you can do with old wine bottles? Check out these innovative, upcycled solutions.
    If you’re a wine connoisseur, or even a passing enthusiast, you probably have tons of wine bottles lying around that you haven’t taken to the recycling bin yet. Luckily, bottles are highly versatile items. If something around the home requires a classy, sophisticated looking container, a used wine bottle is a great resource. Plus, something about a wine bottle adds a touch of class and culture to any area. From birdfeeders to chandeliers to serving trays, here are some of the top ways artists have reused wine bottles.


    1. Wine bottle soap dispenser

    This soap dispenser from Mom4Real adds a bit of high class to any kitchen. The simple DIY project requires a stopper to control the soap flow and a wine bottle. The design on the front of the bottle was made with a stencil and some frosted glass paint. She also gave a good tip for removing labels: just smear the label with dish soap and let the bottle soak for two hours. You can find the full tutorial with photos here.


    2. Wine bottle Tiki torches

    Here’s a clever use for wine bottles when you want to light an outdoor area. These were primarily made with Tiki fuel, Tiki wicks and a brass coupling to keep the wick in place. It’s be great for any outdoor party. Go to The Armchair Sommelier for the full DIY tutorial.


    3. Guest bottle

    This is a great design if you have a wedding coming up, or even a house party. It was made by CountryRichDesigns at etsy. It works best with chalk pens, and would look great with some flowers added or placed as a centerpiece to remember good times with friends.


    4. Wine bottle bird feeder

    Here’s a classy way to feed your birds. In addition to the wine bottle, this item was also made with upcycled pallets. This one’s from HideyHoleCrafts at etsy.


    5. Wine bottle pendant light

    This pendant light from VexDecor at etsy would look great in rustic or industrial styles. You can choose between several metal finishes and cord colors. It’s a great use for a clear, cut wine bottle.


    6. Wine bottle luminary

    This classy item hardly even looks like a wine bottle in the dark. Tea light or votive candles add a nice iridescent shine, and the mosaic lights up beautifully. This one is from LivinginGlassHouses at etsy.


    7. Twine bottles

    Here’s a classic project for bottles that would look good with any décor style. A wine bottle wrapped in twine goes a long way in terms of customized looks. These come in customized initials and are from KyndrasKreations at etsy.


    8. Wine bottle tumblers

    This is a classic, functional use for cut wine bottles from Kristin Moore with OutsideTheBottle at etsy. These make either great glasses, or you could use them as candleholders. They either come in the four colors above, or you can have a set of matching colors. These glasses look a lot classier than standard plastic cups, and you’ll know you’re reusing old materials.


    9. Wine bottle server

    This wine bottle was “slumped” to make a great serving tray. It has a curved handle and is in a bowl shape to hold fruits, cheeses or whatever else you may be serving. This was made by CuSiCo at etsy.


    10. Wine bottle chandelier

    Here’s a creative use for a dozen wine bottles or so. It would look great in a rustic or artistic setting where repurposed art is the norm. Or use it as an artistic focal piece in an otherwise minimalist style. Something like this would also look great in a wine room, as the listing states. You can find it from IndustrialBlush at etsy.


    11. Wine bottle pendant

    If you’re not looking for a larger item that could go around the home, this wine bottle pendant might be right up your alley. This piece was hand worked and fired in a kiln to get the smooth shape out of old wine bottle glass. It’s from DessinCreations at etsy.


    12. Wine bottle fountain

    This creative piece is from RayMels at etsy. It’s a working fountain that is a cute imagining of a reused wine bottle. The fountain looks like it’s constantly pouring. The wood tabletop portion is also part of the piece. You can see it in action here.


    13. Hanging wine bottle bird feeder

    Here’s another creative take on the wine bottle bird feeder. The seeds go in the bottle and come out of drilled holes at the bottom. The design has a hook on the bottom to hang wind chimes from. This item is also from RayMels at etsy.


    14. Wine bottle lamp

    Here’s a classy way to repurpose a wine bottle into some great accent lighting for any room. Stringed craft lights act as an attractive light source. The glass grapes and leaves keep nicely with the wine theme. This lamp is from KBKreationsShop at etsy.


    15. Wine rack light sconce

    Speaking of accent lighting, this clever piece acts as a wine rack, but is also a functional LED light. You can display your favorite full wine bottles. Or use old bottles to display your favorite wines while repurposing. You can find it at etsy; it was made by rorabaughdesigns.


    16. Wine bottle wind chimes

    Here’s a great use for old glass: Make it into a musical item for any garden or porch. The cobalt blue glass is very attractive, and the beads add a nice accent. It was made by LindasYardArt at etsy.


    17. Wine bottle planters

    Here’s another use for kiln-slumped wine bottles. These planters are nice and open, so they’re great for low-sitting succulents like the ones in the photo. Though these items could also be used as a spoon rest or server, as the listing states. They come in blue, light green, green, olive green, brown, yellow or clear. You can get them from mlglassdesigns at etsy.

    About the author

    Michelle Lovrine Honeyager is a freelance writer living in Southeast Wisconsin. She’s written for a variety of publications about sustainability, DIY and green living. She’s passionate about reducing her carbon footprint and creating a more sustainable future.
    Learn more about Michelle Lovrine Honeyager

    Friday, June 19, 2015

    New Coke bottle made entirely from plants

    New Coke bottle made entirely from plants

    The new Coke bottle looks so good, you could eat it. That's because it's made entirely of plant materials.

    Coca-Cola (KO) showed off its new bottle at the Expo Milano food technology conference on Wednesday. The bottle is plastic (don't actually try to eat it), but instead of using petroleum, the bottle's plastic is derived from sugar cane.
    The new Coke bottle is part of the company's efforts to make its containers from renewable ingredients. Coca-Cola debuted "PlantBottle" packaging in 2009, which is 30% comprised of plant materials. The new PlantBottle that Coke debuted this week is its first to be made 100% from sugar cane plastic.
    Coca-Cola said the sugar cane used in the PlantBottles comes from Brazil. They also contain waste products from India that are left over from processing sugar cane. Though those are currently the only two sources of materials for its PlantBottles, Coke said it it also looking at converting fruit stems, peels and bark into plastic in the future.
    plastic coke bottle

    The soda company didn't say when it would start shipping Coke in the new bottles, but Coca-Cola noted that it is partnering with biotechnology firms "to move from lab to commercial scale in producing a 100% plant-based plastic bottle." The ultimate goal, Coke said, is "a 100% renewable, responsibly sourced bottle that is fully recyclable."
    Since 2009, Coca-Cola says it has distributed more than 35 billion plant bottle packages in more than 40 countries. The company estimates that it has eliminated 319,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere as a result -- the equivalent of CO2 emissions from burning 743,000 barrels of oil or 36 million gallons of gasoline.
    About 30% of Coke bottles in North America are PlantBottles, but just 7% of Coke bottles around the world are made from plant materials. The company says its goal is to exclusively use PlantBottles in place of petroleum-based plastic bottles by 2020.
    "We believe we have a responsibility to produce these packages more sustainably," the company said in a statement. "Environmental stewardship is not something new for us; it's part of our heritage."
    Coke said it is working with Ford (F), Heinz, Nike (NKE), Procter & Gamble (PG) and SeaWorld (SEAS) to help those companies use more plant materials in their plastics as well. Heinz ketchup bottles, plastic cups at SeaWorld and certain test models of the Fusion Energi hybrid sedan use PlantBottle plastic.
    "The Coca-Cola company is determined to lead the consumer packaged goods industry away from its dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels and towards using renewable plant-based alternatives," the company said. "It hasn't been an easy task, but it shows our commitment to doing the right thing in the right way."

    Thursday, June 18, 2015

    Things to do with an old refrigerator

    5 things to do with an old refrigerator

    Before you haul away that busted appliance, here are some creative ways to re-purpose it.
    old refrigerator
    Other than interesting yard art, there are plenty of things you can do with a non-working refrigerator. (Photo: Helen's Photos/Shutterstock)
    Many people do their best to recycle paper, cans, glass and metals, separating the small pieces into bins and setting them on the curb to await pick up. But what about those giant bulky items that aren’t so easy to find eco-friendly solutions for? A prime example? The refrigerator.  
    Happily, refrigerators are expensive so people keep them for years, but like all man-made items that don’t end up in the history museums, eventually they break beyond repair prompting people to trash them.  
    Don’t want to add yours to the landfill? Here are 6 creative ways people have repurposed old refrigerators to create something functional long after the original function for the device disappeared. 
    The fridge couch 
    couch made from an old refrigerator
    Photo: Fridgecouch
    With some very creative adjustments, Fridgecouch moves the refrigerator from the kitchen to the living room. Designer Adrian Johnson first found red leather seating inside a BMW 325e coupe while perusing through items at the junkyard. All he needed was something to put them in. That’s when he found an olive green Gibson Frost Clear Deluxe refrigerator, the perfect size to complete his very first (but not his last) Fridge Couch. And yes, you can also order one of your very own. 
    Create a pantry 
    Remove the door from your old broken down refrigerator and repurpose it to use as a pantry. It’s ready-made with its shelving and easy to clean surfaces. Hang it on a wall or in your pantry for a super cute and unique look.  
    Convert it to an ice chest 
    By removing all of the parts that make the refrigerator run, like the evaporator cell, compressor and condenser fan, Krafty Karina explains how she turned her refrigerator into an ice chest, and gives instructions on how you can do it too. When you think about it, an old refrigerator, an appliance built to keep things cold, is the perfect thing to use to create an ice chest. 
    Make it a root cellar 

    This couple built a root cellar for less than $10 by putting a broken-down refrigerator in the ground. They dug a big hole and soon the old appliance had a second life thanks to a backyard DIY project.  
    Fancy chair and ottoman 
    As it turns out, there are a few different ways to create seating out of an old refrigerator. If you don’t mind forgoing your peripheral vision, this chair made from an Israeli refrigerator from the '50s certainly has style.   
    Temporary home for a homeless pooch
    homeless dog in house made from an old refrigerator
    Photo: Y-Town
    One stray dog in China hit the jackpot, first by getting off the street, and second by scoring these fancy digs created by Y-Town, a design studio. One of the designers at Y-Town found the pup close by and decided to offer him a home. So the newly named Chuichui moved in and soon had a fancy repurposed refrigerator that functioned as a bed with space for food and water as well. The door opens to create a ramp for the little guy to get up and down into his fridge. 
    Of course, if you can’t find a way to reuse your old fridge, you can always look into recycling as much of it as possible. Energy Star has great resources to help you figure out how best to recycle your old refrigerator

    Wednesday, June 17, 2015

    Solar Compactor/baler

    LEED Platinum certified hotel installs solar compactor/baler

    Equipment & Products
    Bay Area Trash Compactor’s solar-powered trash compactor and OCC baler to save California hotel money and time.
    Bay Area Trash Compactor (BATC), Walnut Creek, California, has installed a combination solar-powered trash compactor and portable old corrugated container (OCC) baler at the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certified Bardessono Hotel and Spa in California’s Napa Valley.  
    The solar-powered compactor packs 16 yards of loose material into 4 yards, reducing waste pickup at the Bardessono Hotel and Spa to once per week, according to BATC. This reduction cuts hauling costs by 50 percent, reduces carbon dioxide emissions by more than 14 tons annually and limits garbage truck noise in the area, the company adds.
    The solar OCC baler fits into a small space and crushes 150 to 200 boxes into 200-pound bales.
    “This unique solar waste management approach is another example of how we at Bardessono continue to act on our environmental values to enhance our guest experience,” says Paul Gracheff, director of property management for the hotel.  “The compactor and baler have both cleaned up the back of the house and made terrific financial and environmental sense.”
    Gracheff adds, “The fact that Bay Area Trash Compactor and their partners at Harmony Enterprises have developed these systems to operate off the grid simply take us to the next level in sustainability.”
    “We are proud to be able to provide this innovative solar waste and recycling solution to our client, the Bardessono,” says Mike Welden, president of BATC.
    “As one of only three LEED Platinum certified hotels in the U.S., our new solar combination is a perfect fit as Bardessono continually seeks sustainable solutions to improve the guest experience and reduce operating expenses,” Welden adds.
    BATC says the unit is the first of its kind to provide waste handling and recycling side by side with no wired electrical hookup. Ideal for sustainability-minded hotels, hospitals, universities, restaurants and shopping centers, this new combination also works well where bringing wired power to a location is cost prohibitive or too difficult, the company says. With this combination, users can gain the benefits of a compactor and baler with the ability to place the system almost anywhere, according to the company.  
    BATC says the combination solar-powered system was developed over two years with Harmony Enterprises of Harmony, Minnesota.
    Welden says, “The Harmony Enterprises team and their partner, Werner Electric, have delivered a robust solar waste management solution that the market has been waiting for. Harmony has broken down the barriers to reliable solar compaction. We are excited and will be installing many more solar powered systems this year.”
    Headquartered in the San Francisco Bay area since 1985, BACT supplies waste and recycling solutions nationwide. Founded out of a college business project, the company says it provides its clients with an innovative approach designed to maximize their dollar savings while minimizing environmental impact.

    Tuesday, June 16, 2015

    U.S. Coast Guard saves sea turtles tangled in trash

    U.S. Coast Guard saves sea turtles tangled in trash

    The guardsmen were in a known drug-smuggling zone, responding to a tip about a suspicious floating package. But as a new video shows, the 'drugs' turned out to be two sea turtles in dire straits.
    A team from the U.S. Coast Guard thought they were on the trail of drug smugglers last month, but they ended up with an even more rewarding mission: rescuing two sea turtles from ocean plastic.
    The rescue began when the Coast Guard received a tip about a suspicious package floating in a known drug-transit zone off the west coast of Central America. A small boat from the Cutter Stratton was sent to investigate the suspected narcotics, which the guardsmen quickly realized was something else.
    The package turned out to be a pair of sea turtles tangled in old fishing lines and buoys. This is a common problem for marine life worldwide, but sea turtles are especially vulnerable to marine debris. Not only do they eat plastic bags and become entangled in fishing lines, but being tethered to buoys can prevent them from diving. These turtles wouldn't have survived much longer without help.
    "There was no question what we had to do," says Petty Officer 2nd Class Hylan Rousseau, the coxswain of Stratton's interceptor boat, in a Coast Guard press release about the rescue. "And no one spoke a word. We immediately moved into rescue mode."
    The first turtle was an olive ridley, Stanford University researcher Dana Briscoe tells TakePart, and the second one was a loggerhead. Both are listed as endangered species by the U.S. government. The olive ridley wasn't particularly difficult to release, but the loggerhead provided a bit of a challenge.
    "We cut the first turtle free without much incident. While we were freeing him, we could see the second, and much larger turtle, was quite literally choking to death," says Chief Petty Officer Brian Milcetich, a member of the law enforcement team. "He had been trying so hard to free himself from the fishing line that he had cinched the line around his own neck."
    In the video above, the crew can be seen using scissors to cut away the line from the 70-pound loggerhead's neck. The turtle held remarkably still during the rescue, but wasted no time returning to the water when given a chance. The crew didn't seem to mind the unceremonious farewell. "Everyone was elated," Milcetich adds. "As you see in the video, he (the turtle) didn't stick around to celebrate."

    Monday, June 15, 2015

    DIY Outdoor Activities for Kids

    DIY Outdoor Activities for Kids

    You don't have to spend hundreds of dollars to have fun with your kids this summer. Try one of these DIY projects!
    Summer vacation is finally here for most kids across the country. It’s a time when students can go to camp, spend days at the pool or just hang around the neighborhood. But somehow it always seems that at least a few times each summer, parents hear their children wail, “I’m bored!” The latest water toys or squirt guns – often costing mom and dad a pretty penny, may tempt them. Luckily, there are literally hundreds of different DIY projects parents and kids can make for fun outdoor play, from homemade slip and slides to extra messy games that will make for hours and hours of fun for your little ones. Check out some of these awesome – and super easy – outdoor DIY activities for kids of all ages.

    Make bubbles that bounce instead of pop

    Kids of all ages love bubbles and no summer would be complete without efforts to make them bigger and better than ever. Instead of doing the traditional “make bubble blowers out of household items” activity, work with your children to make bubbles that bounce – and take more than just a tiny poke to pop. This recipe calls for traditional bubble mix ingredients, except that it has to “set” for 24 hours – after which your children will be able to blow huge bubbles that are seemingly indestructible.

    Play synchronized snack toss game

    There’s nothing kids love more than getting messy and this game will have them giggling all day long. Players will be split into teams of two; their first task will be to cover one teammate’s head with a shower curtain, rubbing as much shaving cream on it as possible. If that’s not fun enough, the goal of the game is for the non-capped teammate to throw cheese puffs at their capped-friend – the winning team being the one that has the most puffs still stuck on the shaving cream hat at the end. Make sure to let kids take turns being the capped and uncapped person, as both roles are equally fun.

    Build a water blob

    A DIY “water blob” is literally a large clear tarp folded over and filled with water that children can bounce and slide on. Younger children will love jumping on the blob and watching the water spread inside while older kids may add a bit of soap to make a slipper play pad (watch out as small children could slip and fall if going this route). Try adding some blue food coloring when you fill the tarp with water – the sun will make it fade over time, giving you a teachable moment about how the sun can affect the color of things. See the full instructions here.

    Turn a pizza box into a solar oven

    Speaking of fun teachable moments, this project is an awesome way to teach children about the power of the sun and heat. This video shows how to build a solar oven out of a pizza box, plastic wrap and some tin foil. There are other DIY solar boxes out there, but this one lets children watch their food cook through the clear wrap. Let children experiment with making different foods in the oven – s’mores is one popular item that works perfectly as the sun melts the chocolate and makes marshmallows nice and soft.

    Create a beach wind chime

    Spending a day at the beach is a rite of passage for kids across the country – whether it’s a local lake or a trip to the ocean. One fun way to use those neat shells and rocks that the kids collect is to build a natural wind chime reminiscent of the sea. This blogger used light crafting wire to create strands of shells and other beach mementos. She then wound the ends around a piece of driftwood, perfect for completing the nautical theme. Twine or string may a bit easier for kids to do on their own, but the shells may not be as secure this way.

    Build an insect house

    Lots of children love looking for bugs around the yard; in the past, we may have put insects in plain jars for a little bit before releasing them back into their natural habitats. This DIY insect house is a fun project for kids as it allows them to express their creativity and learn empathy for the bugs that may reside there in the future. While building the house is a tad more labor intensive than other DIY projects, it’s worth it. Just find an old oatmeal or other round container, paint and some nylon window screen (make sure kid are supervised when cutting and attaching the screen). Once their unique houses are complete, the kids will be digging around the yard for the rest of the day.

    Go fishing in a tin foil river

    This easy activity works especially well for families that live on or near a slight slope, as the water will travel more naturally “down stream.” The idea is to build a long “river” out of plain tin foil, bending it ever so slightly in the middle to create a bit of a riverbank. Then send toy fish, boats and ducks down the stream and encourage children to try to fish for them. Younger children may enjoy sitting with a bucket of toys to splash around with, while older kids could use nets or homemade poles to “catch” the toys.

    Build a pool noodle croquet game

    Pool noodles are cheap and versatile – they can be made into so many things! In this kickball croquet game, children kick larger balls through pool noodle loops. Simply cut pool noodles in half down the middle and use garden stakes to make arches on the lawn. Kids will have hours of fun trying to kick their ball through the croquet course – first one to get through the course wins! Try making different sized arches and experimenting with different types of sports balls to make things really interesting.

    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: www.rachelle-gordon.com.
    Learn more about Rachelle Gordon
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