Friday, July 31, 2015

Don't Contribute To Plastic Pollution In The Ocean: A 5 Step Plan

At some level, we are all ocean lovers, so it’s heartbreaking to realize that plastic pollution kills one million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals each year in our seas.
How do we stop that? Your daily actions can make a difference. Here are five steps to ensure that you are not contributing to plastic pollution in the ocean.
1.     Start by measuring your “plastic footprint.”
Keep a personal plastic use diary and note every product you use in a day or a week that’s plastic or packaged in plastic. You'll be surprised! Once you know your baseline, you can set specific goals to reduce or eliminate your plastic waste generation.
One easy way to get started is to go digital: for example, there is no need for plastic CDs, DVDs and jewel cases when you can buy your music and videos online. Spread the word. Talk to your family and friends about why it is important to reduce plastic in our lives and the nasty impacts of plastic pollution, and get ideas from them about creative ways to cut out plastic. Remember: with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated (which has its own environmental issues), virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form.

2.     Cut disposable plastics out of your life.

Plastic often begins its journey to the ocean when people litter or the wind blows trash out of a garbage can and into a storm drain. From there, it travels through sewer pipes, into waterways, and finally it reaches the ocean. You can prevent this by never using those disposable plastics in the first place.
Replace sandwich bags and juice cartons with a reusable lunch bag/box that includes a Thermos.
Bring your to-go mug with you to the coffee shop, smoothie shop or restaurants that let you use them, which is a great way to eliminate lids, plastic cups and/or plastic-lined cups from your life.
Seek out alternatives to the plastic items that you rely on. Simple options include bringing your own bag to the store and never using those thin plastic bags. Your produce doesn't need them. Refuse single-serving packaging, excess packaging, straws and other “disposable” plastics.

3.     If you must use plastic products, reuse them.

Fifty percent of the plastic in our lives is used once and thrown away. That's just crazy! Carry reusable utensils in your purse, backpack or car to use at cookouts, potlucks or take-out restaurants. Carry a reusable water bottle and store food in non-disposable containers. Once you have reused a plastic bottle as much as you can, then at least be sure to recycle it. If you must use plastic, be sure to choose #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE), which are the most commonly recycled plastics.

4.     Take the pledge to boycott products with microbeads.

Cosmetics companies have flooded hundreds of products (mostly facial scrubs but also shampoo, toothpaste and lip gloss) with microbeads: tiny balls of plastic used to exfoliate our skin. One tube of facial scrub contains more than 300,000 plastic microbeads. When you wash off those tiny pieces of plastic, they go down the drain, pass unfiltered through sewage treatment plants into our rivers and lakes, and enter the ocean. Once there, they soak up environmental pollutants like DDT before unsuspecting fish gobble them up, to be eaten by other fish or by us humans. The microbeads used in personal care products are mainly composed of polyethylene and polypropylene, so check the labels to make sure you are never buying microbeads.

5.     Take care of the beach.

Some plastic pollution gets into the ocean via the beach or a boat. You can be sure you will never contaminate the ocean with plastic by always cleaning up after yourself, whether you enjoy diving, surfing, or just relaxing on the beach. If you're on a boat, never allow any plastic bags, straws, or cups to go overboard. Go even further by encouraging others to respect the marine environment or by participating in local beach cleanups.
Get started today! 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

North Carolina meets all air quality standards for first time since 1997

North Carolina meets all air quality standards for first time since 1997

RALEIGH – The Environmental Protection Agency has officially recognized the Charlotte metropolitan area as complying with the 2008 federal air quality standard for ozone, a milestone capping years of improvements in air quality across North Carolina. North Carolina is now in attainment for all pollutants in all areas across the state.

The EPA published a notice in the Federal Register Tuesday announcing its final action to redesignate Charlotte as a maintenance area for the 8-hour ozone standard, meaning that it now meets the standard but must continue programs aimed at ensuring future compliance. The EPA also announced that it intends to relax the gasoline vapor standard for the Charlotte area, which should save motorists money due to lower fuel costs during the summer months.
“The EPA’s redesignation of the Charlotte region as attaining the 2008 ozone standard is a substantial accomplishment for the state and local governments, resulting from years of steady improvements in air quality,” said Sheila Holman, director of the N.C. Division of Air Quality, or DAQ. “The redesignation and changes to the gasoline standard should save money for businesses and individuals throughout the area.”
The Charlotte metropolitan area was the only region of North Carolina still designated as non-attainment, or non-compliance with the ozone standard. In the early 2000s, about one-third of the state’s counties were classified as non-attainment for ozone, and Code Orange and Red ozone warnings were a frequent occurrence during warmer months. The state had no exceedances of the ozone standard in 2014 and only one in 2013, the lowest levels since the state began monitoring the air for ozone in the early 1970s.
This redesignation comes less than two years after Charlotte was redesignated to attainment under the less stringent 1997 standard, and about a year after the EPA eased gasoline standards for the Triad and Triangle areas. The relaxation in fuel standards saved motorists about 7 cents per gallon in gasoline costs, or more than $18 million total, in the summer of 2014. The change in the Charlotte gasoline standard still needs to go through final approval by the EPA.
Air quality has improved across the state over the past decade due to declining emissions from motor vehicles, power plants and other industrial sources, resulting from a series of state and federal measures. The Clean Smokestacks Act, adopted in 2002, required the state’s coal-fired power plants to reduce their emissions by about three-fourths. Other EPA requirements have led to lower emissions from other industrial sources, cars and trucks, as well as cleaner gasoline and diesel fuel. The EPA is expected to adopt a more stringent ozone standard in October.
More information on the ozone redesignation and fuel standard change can be found at this page on the following EPA websites:
More information on the improvements in air quality in North Carolina can be found at the DAQ website,

Monday, July 27, 2015

NOAA What are microplastics?

What are microplastics?
“Microplastics” are pieces of plastic that are less than 5mm long. Microplastics can come from larger pieces of plastic that have broken down over and over again. Or, microplastics can be manufactured. For example, pre-production industrial plastic pellets or plastic "micro-scrubbers" in face wash are considered microplastics.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

NOAA Do plastics go away when they're in the ocean or Great Lakes?

Do plastics go away when they're in the ocean or Great Lakes?
Plastics will degrade into small pieces until you can’t see them anymore (so small you’d need a microscope or better!). But, do plastics fully go away? Full degradation into carbon dioxide, water, and inorganic molecules is called mineralization (Andrady 2003). Most commonly used plastics do not mineralize (or go away) in the ocean and instead break down into smaller and smaller pieces. We call these pieces “microplastics” if they are less than 5mm long. The rate of degradation depends on chemical composition, molecular weight, additives, environmental conditions, and other factors (Singh and Sharma 2008).
Bio-Based Plastics
There are some bio-based (e.g., corn, wheat, tapioca, algae) plastics on the market and in development. Bio-based plastics use a renewable carbon source instead of traditional plastics that source carbon from fossil fuels. Bio-based plastics are the same in terms of polymer behavior and do not degrade any faster in the environment.
Biodegradable Plastics
Biodegradable plastics are designed to break down in a compost pile or landfill where there are high temperatures and suitable microbes to assist degradation. However, these are generally not designed to degrade in the ocean at appreciable rates.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

How much plastics are in the ocean and Great Lakes?

How much plastics are in the ocean and Great Lakes?
Monitoring Large Debris
Currently, no one knows exactly how much plastic marine debris enters the ocean each day, though some estimates do exist. NOAA's Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project is one such effort to understand the amount of plastics on our shorelines.
Counting Microplastic Debris
What about the plastic debris pieces that are too small to count while at the beach? A laboratory method is needed to count small plastics <5mm in length, known as microplastics. Researchers at the University of Washington Tacoma, in partnership with the NOAA Marine Debris Program, have developed a reliable method to quantify microplastics (by weight) in a sand, sediment, or water sample. It has also been used to quantify plastics used in personal care products, such as facial cleansers and scrubs that use tiny plastics as abrasives. New research continues into a process to isolate microplastic particles and confirm their polymer composition (i.e., type of plastic) through infrared spectroscopy.

Friday, July 24, 2015

NOAA Can plastic marine debris harm animals?

Can plastic marine debris harm animals?
Plastic has the potential to harm fish and other wildlife in two main ways.
Direct Impacts - Studies have shown that fish and other marine life eat plastic. Plastics could cause irritation or damage to the digestive system. If plastics are kept in the gut instead of passing through, the animal could feel full (of plastic not food) and this could lead to malnutrition or starvation.
Indirect Impacts - Plastic debris accumulates pollutants such as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) up to 100,000 to 1,000,000 times the levels found in seawater. PCBs, which were mainly used as coolant fluids, were banned in the U.S. in 1979 and internationally in 2001. It is still unclear whether these pollutants can seep from plastic debris into the organisms that happen to eat the debris and very difficult to determine the exact source of these pollutants as they can come from sources other than plastic debris. More research is needed to help better understand these areas.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

NOAA Sources of Marine Debris

Types and Sources of Marine Debris

Anything man-made, including litter and fishing gear, can become marine debris once lost or thrown into the marine environment. The most common materials that make up marine debris are plastics, glass, metal, paper, cloth, rubber, and wood.
Glass, metal, and rubber are similar to plastic in that they are used for a wide range of products. While they can be worn away-broken down into smaller and smaller fragments, they generally do not biodegrade entirely. As these materials are used commonly in our society, their occurrence as marine debris is overwhelming.
Debris typically comes from both land-based and ocean-based sources.
Plastics are used in many aspects of daily life and are a big part of our waste stream.
Thousands of abandoned and derelict vessels litter ports, waterways and estuaries, creating a threat to navigation, recreation, and the environment.
Derelict fishing gear refers to nets, lines, crab/shrimp pots, and other recreational or commercial fishing equipment that has been lost, abandoned, or discarded in the marine environment.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

NOAA Marine Debris

  1. Home
  2. Discover the Issue
underwater photo looking up through marine debris floating on the surface.
Marine debris from below in Hawaii.

Discover the Issue

What is marine debris?
Our oceans are filled with items that do not belong there. Huge amounts of consumer plastics, metals, rubber, paper, textiles, derelict fishing gear, vessels, and other lost or discarded items enter the marine environment every day, making marine debris one of the most widespread pollution problems facing the world's oceans and waterways.
Marine debris is defined as any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the marine environment or the Great Lakes. It is a global problem, and it is an everyday problem. There is no part of the world left untouched by debris and its impacts. Marine debris is a threat to our environment, navigation safety, the economy, and human health.
Most of all, marine debris is preventable. Learn more about marine debris and find out how.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

NOAA Marine Debris in the Southeast

Marine Debris in the


A volunteer pulls a derelict crab pot from the water in North Carolina.
The Southeast region spans North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and down the Eastern coast of Florida. This region is a maze of over 14,000 miles of tidal shoreline and includes sandy beaches and dunes, barrier islands, salt marshes, and mangrove forests. With over 30 million people living in this region and an influx of millions of tourists each year, it is easy to understand the human impact on the environment. In addition, the severe Southeastern summer weather including high winds, storm surges, and heavy rains drags household products, lawn furniture, even entire homes into the surrounding waters, compounding marine debris problems.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Great Pacific Garbage Patch
Oversimplified graphic of "garbage patches" in the North Pacific Ocean
The name “Pacific Garbage Patch” has led many to believe that this area is a large and continuous patch of easily visible marine debris items such as bottles and other litter —akin to a literal island of trash that should be visible with satellite or aerial photographs. While higher concentrations of litter items can be found in this area, along with other debris such as derelict fishing nets, much of the debris is actually small pieces of floating plastic that are not immediately evident to the naked eye.
The debris is continuously mixed by wind and wave action and widely dispersed both over huge surface areas and throughout the top portion of the water column. It is possible to sail through the “garbage patch” area and see very little or no debris on the water’s surface. It is also difficult to estimate the size of these “patches,” because the borders and content constantly change with ocean currents and winds. Regardless of the exact size, mass, and location of the “garbage patch,” manmade debris does not belong in our oceans and waterways and must be addressed.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

London's iconic phone booths reborn as solar gadget-charging kiosks

London's iconic phone booths reborn as solar gadget-charging kiosks

By: Matt Hickman
Solarbox, an adaptive reuse scheme that transforms London's old phone booths into solar-powered charging points
The brainchild of two young entrepreneurs, this solar-powered adaptive reuse project can service up to 100 mobile devices daily. (Photos: Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images)
The red telephone box, an instantly recognizable but increasingly obsolete fixture around London, has been treated to a bittersweet yet highly apropos makeover that’s sure to leave those longing for the good old days of mod bobs, minis and Supermac crying into their cuppa.
For everyone else, particularly those who have ever found themselves wandering dazed around the British capital clutching a near-dead iPhone, a payphone kiosk put to new use as charging point for mobile devices will no doubt be welcomed.

On Tottenham Court Road, a single démodé London phone booth dressed in the standard “currant red” has been painted over in green and outfitted with roof-mounted solar panels. Inside the kiosk, the payphone hardware has been removed and replaced with charging stations for mobile devices and screens that, naturally, play advertisements.
An additional five so-called solarboxes will join the kick-off kiosk at Tottenham Court Road Station by next spring. It’s expected that each solarbox, capable of boosting device batteries by 20 percent in 10 minutes flat, can charge up to 100 mobile devices per day.
And those looking to use a solarbox needn’t have a pocketful of pence or swipe a credit card. The sextet of charging stations will be free of charge although users are, as mentioned, subjected to a stream of adverts while they patiently wait for their batteries to receive a boost.
As reported by the BBC, the entrepreneurial duo behind the solarbox concept, Harold Craston and Kirsty Kenney, are gravitating toward "short, fun and exciting ads showing exclusive content.” Uber and Tinder are both among the advertisers already on-board while 30 percent of the advertising content will be reserved for “community projects.”

Craston, a graduate of the London School of Economics, tells the BBC: “I lived next to a phone box in my second year at uni and walked past it every day. I thought, 'There are 8,000 of these lying unused in London and we must be able to find a use for them.’ ”
The solarboxes will receive daily upkeep and be locked overnight in an effort to ward off vandalism. No word if there will be a posted time limit. Like payphones of yore, it’s totally likely that you'll get someone sitting in there bogarting the thing for what seems like hours as other impatient users hover aggressively about.
The preservation and reuse of the beloved yet antiquated phone boxes has become a sensitive point of contention for Londoners and those living in other British cities and overseas territories. No one, in London in particular, wants to see the crown-emblazoned payphone kiosks go away for good.
At the same time, hardly anyone, even those who want to save the phone boxes, uses them. But are preserving the booths — not to be confused with the blue British police boxes that are still popular for time-traveling purposes — worth keeping around, if only as ornamental objects?
NPR reporter Ari Shapiro has previously explored the deep emotional attachment that many Londoners have with the phone boxes, first introduced in the mid-1920s. Calling them “a revered icon, as much as the black taxicab or the double-decker bus,” Shapiro speaks with one conflicted Londoner who hasn’t used a public payphone in over 15 years but believes that a world without them would be on par with “losing the Empire State Building from New York.”
In addition to the ad-funded solarbox pilot scheme, some British phone boxes have been transformed into mini lending libraries and art spaces. For a brief moment, one box was even converted into a micro-pub while another initiative in Scotland involved outfitting a disused booth with emergency medical equipment.
However, not all phone boxes have been fortunate enough to be bestowed with rather clever functions beyond their original intended use. These are removed and junked.
Craston and Kenny were rewarded 5,000 pounds ($8,000) as this year's second place winners in London Mayor Boris Johnson’s Low Carbon Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Said Johnson in a statement: “In our modern world, where hardly any Londoner is complete without a raft of personal gizmos in hand, it's about time our iconic boxes were update for the 21st century, to be useful, more sustainable.”
Those looking for a truly next-level London phone box cellphone charging experience may want to consider this smartphone accessory.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

NYC garbage cans pull double-duty as public Wi-Fi hotspots

Will NYC garbage cans pull double-duty as public Wi-Fi hotspots?

By: Matt Hickman
BigBelly smart waste receptacle in NYC
Smart rubbish bins: The future of municipal Wi-Fi? (Photo: BigBelly)
Fabulous news for on-the-go New Yorkers who like to clear jellies and catch up on crucial kitty vids while in close proximity to trash cans: there's a decent chance that hundreds of public waste receptacles will be transformed into super-charged Wi-Fi hotspots in the near future.
While a public rubbish bin may seem an unlikely spot to loiter around while perusing Yelp for the best artisanal fro-yo joint within a 2-mile radius, it’s a natural next step for the tech-minded waste management wizards at Bigbelly. The Massachusetts-based company has already installed a small army of snazzy, solar-powered smart garbage and recycling receptacles in high-traffic areas around town including in the trash-clogged core of the Big Apple, Times Square.
BigBelly’s extra-fancy cans also have a significant presence below 14th Street, where two of the company's 170 signature high-capacity waste stations were outfitted with wireless Internet systems this past winter. Given that rubbish-compacting BigBelly stations are already equipped with sensors that alert sanitation workers when they need to be emptied, bestowing them with public Wi-Fi capabilities wasn’t too much of a stretch.
Launched in partnership with the Downtown Alliance, the goal of the pilot initiative was to see if broadcasting Wi-Fi from within the bowels of a trash can would even pan out.
Turns out, the two Wi-Fi garbage receptacles, located near Wall Street, performed impressively during months of daily testing: the signals were robust and interference-free, even when originating from a contained trash heap. According to CityLab, the two test receptacles boast a bandwidth of 50 to 75 megabits per second — “more than enough to run a small businesses.”
Based on the success of the test run in Lower Manhattan, BigBelly plans to conduct additional pilot programs. And with the aid of potential grants and sponsorships, the company hopes to eventually expand and roll out municipal Wi-Fi hotspots than you can also deposit bags of dog poop into across the city — and not just in touristy, high-volume areas already blanketed with wireless signals above — and below — ground. Neighborhoods where free public wireless is scant will be specifically targeted.
In addition to the obvious perks of free public Wi-Fi, the bin-cum-hubs could help city officials collect crucial date on waste. And New York needs every bit of help it can get in that department.
Cities beyond New York, including BigBelly’s hometown of Boston, could potentially follow.
New Yorkers, particularly those in underserved areas, will no doubt benefit from the presence of Wi-Fi-equipped waste stations. It’s an innovative additional layer of convenience and connectivity in a city where even the most ubiquitous fixtures of the urban streetscape are going wireless. Late last year, the city unveiled LinkNYC, an ambitious initiative in which obsolete public payphones will be removed and replaced with 10,000 sleek gadget-charging kiosks that double as municipal Wi-Fi hubs.
This is all fine and good although New Yorkers, such as myself, who regularly experience blinding rage when attempting to walk behind someone on a crowded city sidewalk who is completely oblivious to their surroundings due to their preoccupation with whatever is happening on their phone, may not be as receptive to extensive public Wi-Fi. New York is town that should be experienced full-on. You should be alert, responsive and fully aware. You should interact. If you’re distracted — read: head buried and completely sucked into a smartphone void — while traversing the urban landscape, you’re missing out on what makes New York City so great.

Friday, July 17, 2015

'Deposit shelf'-equipped trash bins


'Deposit shelf'-equipped trash bins lend helping hand to Copenhagen's bottle collectors

By: Matt Hickman
Copenhagen's new 'deposit-shelf' trash cans
Developed by KBHPant, a trio of hard-to-miss municipal trash bins with special holders for redeemable bottles have been introduced in high-traffic areas of Copenhagen. (Photo: KBHpant)
In aggressively speckless Copenhagen, a city once home to the Godzilla of trash cans, it's inevitable that recyclable — and redeemable — bottles of both the plastic and glass variety wind up commingling with run-of-the-mill garbage in public rubbish bins. Boasting not-too-shabby deposit redemption rates ranging from 1 to 3 kroner (roughly 15 to 44 cents) each, spent Carlsberg bottles, Jolly Cola empties and other recyclable/reusable beverage containers can be found taking up precious real estate within trash cans across the preternaturally neat Danish capital city.
And for many, these waiting-to-be-liberated empties are a hot commodity.
As in other major cities existing in countries or states with bottle bill laws on the books, Copenhagen relies on an informal — and largely marginalized — network of urban recyclers to swoop in and do the dirty work: plucking errant recyclables from public trash cans and dutifully hauling them to Flaskeautomat automated bottle machines that, much like in the States, are found predominately at major supermarkets.
Once returned to these redemption machines, Copenhagen’s bottle collecting population — a group, diverse and “nearly invisible to the public consciousness,” that’s largely composed of homeless Danes, foreign nationals and, increasingly, pensioners — can retrieve a financial incentive that would have otherwise literally gone to waste.
In 2014 alone, an estimated 166 million kroner in bottle deposits went unclaimed. That’s a decent chunk of change.
To further make the job of these unsung recycling heroes more dignified, a trio of municipal trash cans in Copenhagen’s city center have recently been outfitted with so-called “deposit shelves” in which recyclables that would have otherwise been chucked directly into the bin are placed out for easy — read: no messy rooting around required — retrieval by bottle collectors. Previously, many Copenhagen residents would simply leave beverage bottles out on the ground next to public trash cans, knowing that eventually someone would come along and rummage through the rubbish looking for them.
Developed by KBHpant, the first three waste bins with the deposit shelves — or "pant holders" in reference to Denmark's "pant" bottle deposit and return system — are located in touristy, high-traffic areas at Copenhagen's Central Station and along Sønder Boulevard.
"It provides a higher degree of waste sorting and recycling, thus being good for the environment, keeping the city clean, and all the while making life a little easier for some of our disadvantaged citizens who rely on pant as an important source of their income. It creates a little more dignity all round,” explains Copenhagen’s deputy mayor for environmental affairs, Morten Kabell.
If both the bottle-chucking public and Copenhagen’s bottle-collecting population respond well to the initial three shelf-equipped trash cans, Copenhagen officials could potentially roll out more of the specialized bins across the city.
Seems like a simple and effective step to me — a no-brainer for a city that continues to take urban cleanliness to new heights. And Copenhagen certainly isn’t the first city to make the collection and redemption of recyclables simpler and safer for marginalized collectors. In New York City, nonprofit So We Can operates a bustling Brooklyn redemption center for the city’s sizable community of “canners" whose economic livelihood largely depends on the soda and beer bottles cast aside by others.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Mom shares nourishing recipes and blogs about sustainable living.

13 natural remedies for the ant invasion

By: Kimi Harris
ants, natural ways to get rid of ants
Photo: Andrey Armyagov/Shutterstock
Little tiny ants have been spotted in our new home, and many people are suffering the same fate across the country. As much as I love spring, I don't like bugs — especially bugs that can infest a house. Last week I asked for some advice in how to deal with ants naturally as I didn't have time to research it myself since I just moved this weekend. I got such good advice, I had to share it with the readers here at MNN as well. 
Some of these measures are deterrents. That is, they deter the ants from coming in your house. This seems to work well for those with a mild problem. Others found that they needed to use a method that kills the whole colony of ants. I've compiled the comments and suggestions by category, allowing you to compare the different methods a little more easily. 
1. Lemon juice 
Teresa: We just spray around the openings with pure lemon juice … and it always works for us … something about the acid messes up their sense of tracking…
2. Cinnamon 
Shayla: We use ground cinnamon around where there are coming it. It works really well.
Peggy: We spray cinnamon essential oil all around the doors, windowsills, floors, etc. keeps them from coming in. I put the sugar water and borax OUTSIDE!
Letia: Another vote for ground cinnamon. Easy to clean up afterwards and worked great for us!!!
Jean: Cinnamon and cloves. Makes your house smell nice and the ants just hate it sprinkled right in their path.
Patricia: We also use cinnamon oil. We draw borders around everything with a Q-tip dipped in it. They won’t cross it.
3. Peppermint 
Heather: My mother-in-law has success with peppermint essential oil around windows and doors (any entries). Plus her house then smells awesome.
Julie: Dr. Bonner’s liquid soap in the mint aroma. Mix 1 to 1 with water in a spray bottle. Spray on the ant invasion and watch them suffer.
4. Borax, water and sugar 
Kristi: We use borax, sugar, water and a touch of peanut butter. It takes a couple of weeks but really works. We used it last year in our old house and are implementing it again this spring in our new house. Pesky ants! Here is the site where I found the recipe:
Christy: I second Diana’s comment about borax and sugar. I’ve made a thin paste before with water, sugar and borax, then spread it on little pieces of thin cardboard or stiff cardstock and placed them near where it seems they are coming into the house. They’ll eat it and take it back to their colony (just like the Terro liquid you can buy). The paste will dry up in a couple days, so you’ll have to make more. But I think I only had to do it twice before they were gone.
Chookie: What worked for us was a mixture of borax and sugar in water. Several years ago, we lived in a house where there was an ants nest in the walls. Removing it would have meant virtually demolishing the entire front wall of the house (not practical!), so instead, after a year or two of having flying ants swarm into our bedroom every year we decided to go on an ant killing spree. Conventional ant killers didn’t work. Borax and powdered sugar didn’t work. But adding water to the borax and sugar mix to make a thick sugary borax-y syrup DID work…. the worker ants took it back into the nest and it positioned the queen – result = no more flying ants. OK, so borax does need to be kept away from pets and small children, but it is relatively safe beyond that as it is only toxic if you eat it. my solution was to put it somewhere where the kids and the cats would not reach it but the ants could.
BeverlyC: We live in China and had a HORRIBLE ant problem in our house. Tried cinnamon, black pepper, vinegar, etc. etc. We were concerned about the borax because we have guests in and out regularly and the little children are often, well, naughty and undisciplined. When someone suggested Terro liquid ant bait and we found it was just Borax and sugar, we asked someone to bring us some. We could pick the traps up and put them away when company came and put them back out after they left. They worked wonders!!
5. Boiling water and dish soap 
Jennie: We make sure all of our food is sealed up. The honey jar is usually the biggest ant magnet, so it gets a thorough washing and then is placed on a small water-filled saucer in the cupboard. We use a spray bottle filled with water and a squirt of liquid dish soap (I use Seventh Generation) to kill any visible ants. I also look around outside to try to find their hill; pouring a kettle of boiling water on it solves the problem.
Christy:  I’ve done what Jennie mentioned too – boiling water will destroy an ant colony, or weeds popping up between sidewalk cracks or in mulch. It’s an easy, purely natural way to kill things that we don’t often think about.
6. Diatomaceous earth 
Karen: Yes … diatomaceous earth (DE) works well … use food-grade not swimming pool DE. It should be sprinkled around the perimeter of your new home and you can also safely sprinkle it inside where you see them. Do not wet the DE or it will not work. DE isn’t an instant kill but should resolve the problem within a week or so.
Jami: I have a pretty serious any invasion at my house too. When I moved in last April they had already made themselves at home. I did the cinnamon thing last year and worked ok, but they just kept finding new ways in. My ants weren’t attracted to sugary things, but protein, especially the dog food. This year I made some borax cookies and put them in the old fireplace where I noticed the ants returning a week ago. I also sprinkled DE around the perimeter of my kitchen and that seems to have worked better than anything so far for immediate results.
7. Chalk  
Natalie: Oh! And they will not cross a line drawn in chalk. I drew a line around my window where they were coming in and it kept them at bay. 
Anali: My grandparents had really good results with the line of chalk, they used powder that you can get at home improvement stores. It comes in a squeezey bottle so it’s easy to lay down a line with.
8. Baking soda and powdered sugar 
Jennifer: Ants carry an acidic substance with them always for protection. I do a mix of baking soda and powdered sugar in a plastic lid set in strategic places. I think a little volcanic science experiment happens inside their bodies. Over the course of several days, it has made a huge difference.
9. Coffee grounds
Lea: I have had success with used coffee grounds, I did know where their entry was, after putting it in the cracks they never returned. I also do know it doesn’t kill them, it just makes them move homes, (we have put them on beds outside and we just see them pop up a small distance away.
10. Cornmeal
Jill: One more thing to add to this. I saw somewhere to use corn meal. Well, it worked out since some moths got into my cornmeal, and I felt bad wasting it. That’s when I saw the idea and tried it. I sprinkled a little bit just off the back porch. Every day I would check and every day the same trail of ants was still there. Then I forgot about it. My daughter found another ant nest further out in the yard, and it made me remember to check the last trail. It was gone, completely gone. So, I sprinkled it on the new nest, and less than a week later, it is gone. If you google it there are a ton of places where it mentions it. Here’s just one link, and if you scroll to the Tip there is still another idea using molasses. Although if cornmeal will work I think it’s cheaper, and safer around kids and pets.
11. Cream of Wheat 
Rebecca: Cream of wheat! They eat it & it expands & they explode! Ha! I used it in my garden for ant problems. Kind of makes you wonder what it does to our insides when we eat it too
12. Vinegar 
Kristie: Vinegar! Since we switched to using a vinegar/water solution for mopping the floors and cleaning the counters, our ant problem has vanished.
Mysty: Vinegar is the one sure solution, but you need to pour it where the ants have their nest, not just to where they walk around. If you find their nest just pour about 0.5-1 L of white (cheap) vinegar. I never had ant problems but my grandparents sometimes has as they has a big farm and there is always an ant problem is some corner of the farm.
Cath: We used a mixture of vinegar, washing up liquid (ecover) and peppermint oil last year. Tracked them back to their nest and syringed it into the cracks. They never came back.
13. Equal 
Tea Leaf: We killed our ants by mixing Equal packets with apple juice. It is a neurotoxin to the ants. Scary that people put these in their coffee.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

New Uses for Old Board Games

New Uses for Old Board Games

Have some old board games that are missing pieces or just not getting played? Give them a second life!
Do you have a game closet full of old games that you don’t play anymore? I know at our house, we frequently reassess our game collection to see if there are any games that we no longer play or that have lost important pieces so we are unable to play them anymore.

Here are some ideas for recycling or repurposing your old board games:

Donate them
If you have games that still have all of their pieces, consider donating them to a local charity, children’s hospital, church or school. There are a lot of people who would love to give your old games a new life.

Create a new game
Put all your lost pieces and boards together and have your kids use their imaginations to come up with a completely new game. The challenge: Make a new game using only recycling materials.

Decorate your wine glasses
Use your mismatched game pieces to make custom wine charms. They can also be used for when you have a number of kids over for a playdate. Putting charms on glasses helps to ensure everyone remembers which glass belongs to them. All you need is wire, or some baker’s twine, and craft glue to make your charms and then attach them to your glasses. Mismatched Monopoly, miniature chess or Candyland pieces would make adorable and memorable charms.

Dress up an outfit
Make earrings or cuff links with the mismatched game pieces. Find the fastenings are your local craft supply store. These would make perfect gifts for that eclectic friend or game-loving cousin.


Get wordy
Scrabble provides endless possibilities. Tiles can be made into wine charms or magnets; used as place settings or to make a sign for a child’s bedroom (or for a craft room).

Decorate your home
The game boards can be used as wall art. They are so many unique game boards that would make a fun edition to any décor: framed or unframed, solo or in a collection, rare or vintage.

Protect table surfaces
Game boards can also make wonderful drink coasters. Simply cut your game board into your preferred shape to create a matching set. Use colorful duct tape or beautifully patterned Washi tape to trim the edges, and voila! You have a unique set of coasters. To ensure condensation doesn’t ruin your new coasters, you can apply a coat of clear sealer to them. If you’re really handy, you could also cut some ½-inch high scrap wood to size and use it as a base for your coasters.

Create a journal cover
You can also use the game boards as hard covers for a homemade journal or sketch pad. Just cut the board to fit and bind as you would any other book (the Internet has many tutorials depending on the style you prefer). I love the idea of customizing a journal with a favorite game – I would use Risk! Here’s a wonderful tutorial at for binding your own book. The only change I would make if using a game board would be to keep the board’s artwork or graphic uncovered to make a more personalized cover.

Jazz up your fridge
Any game piece could be made into an adorable magnet. Simply get magnet discs at your local craft store and apply to your piece with craft glue or your hot glue gun. Game pieces that have a flatter shape like dominos and scrabble tiles make especially cute magnets.

Use your imagination! There are so many creative ways you can repurpose old board games to make sure they don’t end up in your local landfill.

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 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 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.
Learn more about Wendy Gabriel
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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sea Turtles and Plastic

sea turtle eating plastic
Photo: Yamamoto Biology/Creative Commons
Sea turtles around the world are eating plastic at an unprecedented pace, a new study reveals, with some species downing twice as much as they did 25 years ago. This indigestible, potentially fatal diet is especially popular among young turtles in the open ocean, deepening concerns about the ancient animals' long-term outlook.
Plastic bags can bear a striking resemblance to jellyfish underwater, and scientists have long known they have a tendency to confuse hungry sea turtles. But the problem has exploded lately amid a historic surge in plastic pollution, which is forming giant oceanic "garbage patches" that are expected to continue growing for centuries. The new study is the first global analysis of the issue since 1985, covering more than a quarter century of research on green and leatherback sea turtles, both of which are endangered.
While younger turtles eat more gut-clogging plastic than their elders — a troubling trend for animals with such slow reproduction rates — the researchers say the phenomenon is more complex than it appears. Turtles stranded in cluttered coastal areas, for example, don't seem to eat as much plastic as turtles living farther away from people.
"Our research revealed that young, ocean-going turtles were more likely to eat plastic than their older, coastal-dwelling relatives," lead author Qamar Schuyler says in a press release about the research, which was published this month in the journal Conservation Biology. "Amazingly, turtles found adjacent to the heavily populated New York City area showed little or no evidence of debris ingestion, while all of the turtles found near an undeveloped area of southern Brazil had eaten debris."
That shouldn't be taken as carte blanche to litter coastlines, though. About 80 percent of all marine debris comes from land, so cleaning up Coney Island or Copacabana Beach could benefit sea turtles near and far. Instead, Schuyler says, the findings point to the need for a more holistic approach to protecting turtles and other sea life from plastic.
"This means conducting coastal cleanups is not the single answer to the problem of debris ingestion for local sea turtle populations, although it is an important step in preventing marine debris input," Schuyler says. "[The data] indicate oceanic leatherback turtles and green turtles are at the greatest risk of being killed or harmed from ingested marine debris. To reduce this risk, manmade debris must be managed at a global level, from the manufacturers through to the consumers — before debris reaches the ocean."
Managing the planet's flood of plastic is a tall order, though. Some 240,000 plastic bags are used globally every 10 seconds, according to the Sierra Club, and fewer than 5 percent are recycled. U.S. municipal waste is now 13 percent plastic, up from 1 percent 50 years ago, and the average American now uses 300 to 700 plastic bags per year. Broad statistics are scarce, but plastic bags make up roughly 14 percent of all shoreline litter in California, according to an EPA report, and about a quarter of trash in Los Angeles storm drains.

Monday, July 13, 2015


Embedded image permalink

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Turning Leftovers into Energy

Turning Leftovers into Energy


Imagine that you’re eating lunch at your favorite restaurant, but unable to finish the food you ordered. You opt not to take the leftovers home (who has room in the fridge anyway?) so the waiter takes the food back to the kitchen. Now, rather than throw out the food to go to a landfill, the waiter discards the scraps into a container to be picked up by Waste Management, taken to an organics processing plant and transformed into energy.
How does it happen?  Through our proprietary Centralized Organic Recycling equipment (CORe)® process, which allows us to take advantage of the energy in organics to produce biogas fuel that can be converted into electricity and heat. Waste Management collects commercial food waste (from sources such as restaurants, food processing plants and grocery stores), screens it through one of our CORe®  facilities to remove incidental contamination (e.g. plastic, utensils, packaging, bones), and blends the waste into an Engineered Bioslurry™ (EBS) similar in thickness to cooked oatmeal.
The Engineered Bioslurry is loaded into sealed tanker trucks at our processing facilities for delivery to municipal wastewater treatment plants, where it is anaerobically digested to dramatically increase production of biogas –a useful and renewable energy source.  Adding EBS to the plants’ anaerobic digesters has been demonstrated to dramatically increase their energy output.  After piloting the CORe®  technology in New York City and Orange, California (which serves customers in Southern California), we are expanding the program in these cities and in Boston.
The demand for this new technology has increased as more Americans search for ways to divert food waste.  According to a 2012 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), over 40 percent of food grown in the U.S. is never consumed.  Seventeen percent of materials in our trash is food – more than recyclable paper in many communities.  Much of the food waste happens on the production and transportation end, but food waste also shows up in residential and commercial trash containers at homes and businesses across the country.
Waste Management provides food waste collection to more than 700,000 residential and commercial customers.  In 2014, we diverted 2.4 million tons of organic material, for use in composting and soil amendments, to improve soil quality. Waste Management operates 39 of our own compost facilities, and we also rely on other compost facilities across the country to help us meet our customers’ organic management needs.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Goodwill Niagara Wins the Green Nonprofit Awards

Niagara Award 940

The Goodwill Blog

Goodwill Niagara Wins the Green Nonprofit Awards

Niagara Award 200Goodwill Niagara (St. Catherines, ON) was recently awarded a Green Nonprofit Award at the Niagara Regional Environmental AwardsSt. Catharines City Councillor Sal Sorrento and Regional Chair Alan Caslin presented the award to the Goodwill’s Board Chair Stan Pride.
The Goodwill was recognized for furthering recycling efforts in Niagara by selling, exchanging and distributing recycle boxes, green bins and kitchen catchers. The agency’s partnership with the Niagara Region is a vital one that helps create awareness for the need to recycle as much as possible on a daily basis. These resources are available at the Goodwill’s stores in St. Catharines.
The Goodwill’s newest construction project came in the form of a two story facility built on an abandoned industrial brownfield. The building offers 25 units of affordable housing for seniors, a community center, training center and Goodwill Niagara’s first drive-through donation drop-off location. The building concept was all about making it environment friendly. Solar panels on the roof along with a host of energy saving systems, including LED lighting, energy efficient windows and hot-water heating, were included in construction.
Past Project Highlights
Goodwill Niagara has been involved in other projects around Niagara that have helped revitalize the community. August 1999 saw Goodwill Niagara purchase the building belonging to the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 24. The building was converted into a community based accessible facility, which accommodates community agencies such as Greening Niagara, DSBN and Rotary Niagara. This partnership and the sharing of resources enables Normandy Resource Centre partners to generate increased savings, which can then be re-directed into the delivery of community services and programs. This valuable partnership also ensures that the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 24 maintains its presence in the community.
In 2006, the former Stokes Seeds industrial building in downtown St. Catharines was renovated to accommodate 32 affordable apartments for seniors, as well as community facilities and office space for nonprofit agencies.

Friday, July 10, 2015

N.C. Coastal Resources Commission will meet July 16 in Beaufort

RALEIGH – The N.C. Coastal Resources Commission, or CRC, will meet in Beaufort, N.C., July 16 to discuss rule development, land use planning and other coastal issues.
The 10:30 a.m. meeting, which is open to the public, will be held in the auditorium of the NOAA/NCNERR Administration Building,101 Pivers Island Road.
Items on the CRC’s agenda include:
· CRC Rule DevelopmentThe commission will discuss draft rule language related to thedevelopment of a State Ports Inlet Management Area of Environmental Concern, or AECs. The CRC will also consider adoption of amendments to15A NCAC 7H .0304 AECs Within Ocean Hazard Areas, which would repeal the High Hazard Flood Area of Environmental Concern.
· Land Use Planning –The CRC will consider an amendment to the land use plan for the town of Carolina Beach.
· Sandbag UseThe Coastal Resources Advisory Council will discuss the commission’s sandbag rules and policies.
· Variances –The CRC will hear two requests for variances from its rules.
· Public Input and Comment –Members of the public may comment on CRC issues at 1:15 p.m.
The Coastal Resources Advisory Council will meet at 9:30 a.m. in the Coastal Reserves Classroom at the NOAA/NCNERR Administration Building in Beaufort.
A full meeting agenda is posted on the N.C. Division of Coastal Management’s website at Times indicated on the agenda for individual items are subject to change.
The Coastal Resources Commission establishes policies for the state’s coastal management program and adopts rules and policies regarding coastal development within areas of environmental concern.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Materials from 49ers' Candlestick Park score a second life

Materials from 49ers' Candlestick Park score a second life

Candlestick Park
Courtesy ofSan Francisco 49ers
Most of the construction & demolition materials from Candlestick Park's razing will be recycled.
San Francisco 49ers fans may cringe at the sight of Candlestick Park being demolished after 40 years as the football team's home field, but perhaps some consolation can be offered with the knowledge that the stadium's materials will find a sustainable second life.
Around 95-98 percent of the total building materials by mass will be recycled, according to Lennar Urban, the company contracted by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to dismantle the structure.
Approximately 92 percent of the material by mass (mostly concrete) will be reused on site as part of a major retail and housing development slated to be built where Candlestick once stood.
“We have a full demolition debris recovery plan that has been approved by the San Francisco Department of the Environment,” B.H. Bronson Johnson, director of land development for Lennar, told GreenBiz. “All debris from the demolition is segregated into waste streams that are repurposed onsite or disposed of at the appropriate recycling facilities.”

Levi Stadium
Jim Bahn
Levi Stadium, the San Francisco 49ers' LEED Gold certified home, set the bar for all new stadia going forward.
Despite the 49er’s notable green efforts with its new home, Levi’s Stadium, the team actually has nothing to do with the demolition of Candlestick. This responsibility falls to Lennar, the master developer for Hunters Point Shipyard-Candlestick Point.
The Candlestick project is a high-profile example of the value embedded in construction and demolition (C&D) materials — one of the largest components of the solid waste stream in the United States, according to the Construction & Demolition Recycling Association (CDRA).
In 2012, the U.S. generated around 480 million tons of C&D materials, which consisted of 100 million tons of mixed C&D, 310 million tons of concrete and 70 million tons of reclaimed asphalt pavement.
Despite fragmented recycling requirements in different jurisdictions, over 70 percent of this waste stream was recovered and put to beneficial use by the C&D recycling industry, according to a report released earlier this year by CDRA. Much of that material is recycled purely for economic reasons — C&D recycling is a $7.4 billion industry.
But driving the proportion of recycled materials higher could cut huge amounts of waste while unlocking much more economic value — a proposition that dovetails with closed loop and circular economy models gaining increased traction in many industries. When it comes to A&D materials, the industry could be worth over $17 billion if indirect and induced economic output were accounted for.
Johnson did not provide an estimate of the total salvage value of the materials from Candlestick Park, but he expects no less than 6,000 tons of steel scrapped at market rate value.
During the first nine months of 2014, the value of steel scrap fluctuated between about $352 and $389 per ton, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Old materials, new revenue

All of this has positive economic and environmental impacts — steel scrap recycling can be lucrative while also conserving raw materials, energy and landfill space.
The U.S. steel industry has been recycling steel scrap for more than 150 years. The industry depends on the ready availability of scrap, a vital raw material for the production of new steel, from manufacturing operations and from the recovery of products that are no longer used or needed, said USGS.
In addition to steel derived from C&D materials, the domestic steel industry also sources millions of metric tons per year of steel cans, cars, appliances and other steel products.
Remelting scrap requires much less energy than the production of steel products from iron ore, USGS said. Consumption steel scrap by remelting also reduces the burden on landfill disposal facilities and prevents the accumulation of abandoned steel products in the environment.
On the economic front, C&D materials recycling results in a greater job creation and industrial activity relative to landfilling. The C&D recycling industry was responsible for the direct support of 19,000 jobs in the U.S. in 2012, according to the CDRA report.
Much of this is because facility owners have invested over $4.5 billion in the development and construction of C&D recycling infrastructure.

Drought meets demolition

Earlier this year, Lennar came under fire when the Bay Area News Group published a story accusing the company of wasting thousands of gallons an hour of drinking water to hold down dust during the demolition despite free recycled water being available less than 2 miles away, as part of a SFPUC drought conservation program.
Lennar deflected the newspaper’s claim, saying San Francisco water officials had forbidden the use of recycled water. Although officials initially told reporters the company could use recycled water, Lennar ultimately was proved correct — state health codes do prohibit the use of recycled water for dust mitigation. This is meant to minimize inhalation of potentially harmful substances when recycled water is aerosolized.
As unsustainable as it sounds, the company has no choice but to use drinking water to hold down dust.
“State laws do not permit the use of recycled water for dust control that requires aerial spraying,” Johnson told GreenBiz. “A regulatory spokesman mistakenly told a newspaper that recycled water could be used. But, prior to the start of demolition, water authorities informed us that we could not use recycled water for the demolition of Candlestick.
“All of our work is guided by the latest principles of sustainability and good stewardship of the environment."

Bottle to bottle

See the handy-dandy graphic below to learn how what you recycle today turns into the bottle or can you purchase tomorrow.

1. Pitch your bottle or can in a recycling container.
2. The bottle or can is processed into recycled plastic  RPET* form.
3. And Boom! It helps to create a new bottle or can.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Stop Litterbugs

With a little effort, you can help stop the litterbugs from making a mess of your community.
We’ve been officially told not to litter for over half a century now. The first public service announcement for litter prevention ran in 1956, and since then it’s been all pictures of ducks caught in plastic can rings.

But still the message isn’t exactly ubiquitous. Just last week I saw a construction worker throw a crushed can down on some gravel he was flattening. The optimist in me wants to think that perhaps he dropped it and was planning on going for it in a minute. But that doesn’t explain the litter situation at our neighborhood park or along just about any highway. Let’s face it: We still have a ways to go in litter prevention. Below we’ll explore how to stop litterbugs, the grassroots movements trying to make a change and the real impact of litter.

Some facts about litter

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety has some interest, albeit depressing, facts about litter. 
  • In 2014, U.S. taxpayers paid almost $11 billion dollars to clean up litter. That comes to 10 times more than trash pick-up.
  • In 2013, the North Carolina Department of Transportation paid over $16 million to clean up about 7 MILLION pounds of litter from the roadside. 
  • A mile stretch of highway has about 16,000 pieces of litter. If cans, bottles and newspapers were all recycled, they’d be worth $300 million. Instead what is turned in is worth $90 million. 
  • A cigarette butt thrown down as litter takes 12 years to break down and releases cadmium, lead and arsenic into soil and bodies of water. 
  • Lit cigarettes thrown out of car windows cause forest fires. 
Further, according to the EPA, marine litter causes a shocking number of problems: killing wildlife that gets caught in it or ingests it, posing serious safety risks to humans (as in medical waste and discarded netting to divers), acting as a means of transport to invasive species as pieces of litter travel along currents, thousands of dollars lost in fishing revenue as hauls become contaminated with oil containers, paint tins and soil filters, driving away tourism at coastal areas.
Even to this day, litter isn’t a joke. So what can you do about it?

Individual solutions to the litterbug infestation

Luckily, we don’t have to sit around feeling sorry for Mother Earth. There are a number of things we can all do at the individual level:

Be an example to others.

Always use trashcans and recycle bins. Don’t be the person who makes it OK for others to litter. The North Carolina Department of Public Safety put it well: “Clean streets and a clean neighborhood send a signal that people care about where they live and work […] When someone litters, others think it is OK and soon more litter accumulates. Before you know it, you or your community is covered in trash.”

Remember the portables.

Keep a portable trash bag, and if you need one, a cigarette dispenser in your car. With that option at hand, you won’t need to pitch your trash out of the window.

Secure your garbage.

Make sure lids on garbage cans are on tight, tie up paper products and all trash bags. A main way a neighborhood can become filthy is loose garbage from windy trash days.

Keep trash receptacles in sight.

If you’re ever planning a party, make sure large trash receptacles are placed everywhere and in plain sight.

See trash? Pick it up.

Be the change you want to see.

Organize neighborhood trash pick-up events or get your organization (whether work or play) to adopt a highway for cleanup. At the very least, make sure no one litters around you. Become the master of the pointed stare.

Get involved in the campaigns.

Last year, the EPA started its “Hey Tosser!” campaign, where communities can hang a variety of materials reading, “HEY TOSSER! You know it’s wrong.” A survey revealed most people know littering is wrong but still do it when no one is looking. Hence the signs. You can find more information here. The EPA also has resources on anti-litter grants, strategies and programs here.

Grassroots anti-littering movements

Speaking of taking it a step further, there are also tons of grassroots organizations working to mitigate the problems of littering that you could get involved in.

One tactic is to get involved in education about littering. The Litter Prevention Program offers education on how to prevent littering. The program can be delivered to groups or you can help filter an anti-littering newsletter around to your litterbug friends.

Other grassroots movements can be statewide. One such group, out of Tennessee, is working to get administrators, businesses and individuals mobilized to stop litter with the StopLitter campaign. Signs, banners, logos, website buttons and PowerPoint presentations make up some of the informational tools available. The site advocates asking local businesses, administrators and groups to get behind putting the reminders out to not litter.

Then, there are the big groups. Keep America Beautiful is always working to stop littering and could use support. For some good news, in 2011, the organization reported a 42 percent reduction in cigarette litter in communities that implemented its Cigarette Litter Prevention Program, which raises awareness through enforcement of litter laws, public service messages, placing ash receptacles around and giving out portable ashtrays. The WWF is even working to control marine litter worldwide.

Then there are the truly inventive campaigns. Toronto made headlines with their “Littering Says a Lot About You” campaign. Trash is organized to spell out words like “lazy” and “selfish” to describe litterers. You can see the eye-grabbing posters here.

As far as getting involved in catching litterbugs, you can really get as involved as you want. The solutions range from starting community-wide campaigns to just being the responsible one with your trash. Despite nearly 60 years of official campaigns, littering is still an issue, so pick your method and get to work.

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

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