Monday, August 31, 2015

5 Creative Upcycles for Tools

5 Creative Upcycles for Tools

Have an old tool that's languishing in the back of a shed somewhere? Give it the rustic treatment and upcycle it to create a cool piece for your home.
The rustic/vintage d├ęcor craze is still running strong; people are turning old planks of wood and antiques into gorgeous home accents that look like a million bucks - but probably cost mere pennies. One group of items that are being upcycled more and more are old tools - think shovels, screwdrivers - you get the drill (no pun intended). While these tools may have been handed down to you or found at the local Savers, there are plenty of ways to give them a whole new life. Try one of these creative upcycles for old tools and add a touch of old-school craftsmanship to your home.

Screwdriver picture frame holder

Older screwdrivers had wooden handles - not the plastic we are used to today. It just so happens that those wood handles and long tarnished metal stems make perfect picture holders. This blogger attached the bottom of the screwdriver to a heavy base, hanging framed pictures off of the flathead at the top. She points out that this project could also double as a paper-towel holder for your rustic kitchen space.

Shovel address sign

People who love to garden will definitely want to create this address sign made out of an old shovel. Cut the wood handle down, leaving a few inches for a stump. Use a rubber mallet to flatten the shovel down a bit - you can then spray your house numbers on or attach them via screws. Place the sign near your front door in the grass - don’t be surprised if you see similar shovel signs pop up in the neighborhood after!

Rake kitchen utensils holder

That old metal rake taking up space in your garage can make a new home in the kitchen as a hanging utensil holder. Remove the metal rake from the wooden base using a saw, and ensure it’s clean. Then, hang the rake, spokes out, above your stove or elsewhere in the kitchen. Spatulas, whisks and all the other kitchen essentials can be hung from each spoke - see how one blogger did it here! This same project can be used to display wine glasses too!

C-Clamp bookends

Have some vintage C-clamps collecting dust in the basement? Add them to a display ledge to make bookends that no one would expect. Remember to whisk away any loose rust with steel wool - you wouldn’t want those nice books getting an orange stain. Twist the clamps in place tightly enough to support the books but not too tight - you don’t want to damage the shelf. Check out this site for more information on this interesting upcycle.

Ladder bookshelf

This project is so incredibly smart and simple, it’s hard not to do it. Take an old wooden ladder and form it into a L-shape, creating a perfect 90-degree angle at the hinges. Mount to a corner in your living room or office and voila! You have a rustic-looking bookshelf! Mix in other wood shelving with the C-clamp book ends and your vintage tool-themed room will be complete.

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:
- See more at:

Sunday, August 30, 2015

5 DIY School Materials for Educators

5 DIY School Materials for Educators

Teachers can stretch their budget with these DIY games and supplies.
Due to small supply budgets, most teachers in the United States have to pay for their own supplies - this being despite the fact that teachers make a fairly small wage when compared with other professionals. As a result, teachers to seek out innovative resources to create their own educational games and materials. Check out some of these easy to make teaching supplies - (which can be made by teachers or parents) and keep your hard-earned money where it belongs.

1. File folder games

Teachers understand the value of a plain manila file folder as being worth far more than the pennies it costs to buy one. There are so many different games you can make using a file folder to target a variety of topics, from memory to math. There are thousands of websites with free printable games - all you have to do is print, cut and paste onto your file folder. Place games pieces in a plain envelope glued to the outside of the folder - bonus points if you have access to a laminator. You can also draw your own games, of course, and save even more on printing and paper costs. Check this website out to see different file folder games - from preschool all the way up to fifth grade.

2. Plastic bottle sensory bottles

Plastic bottles are so useful for teachers, as they can be turned into a zillion different things. Some early childhood teachers will fill clear plastic bottles with different materials and glitter for children to shake and watch. When teaching the weather, it’s easy to make bottles that represent snowy, sunny, cloudy and windy (see how here). And let’s not forget how much fun it was creating a tornado out of two-liter bottles when we were young. Keep the tradition alive and learn how to make them here.

3. Finger puppet gloves

A simple five-fingered winter glove can be a great accessory when singing traditional songs, such as “Five Little Monkeys” or “Old McDonald Had a Farm.” Gloves can also be used to tell stories or poems. Simply take a glove and attach little pieces of Velcro to the tip of each finger and the thumb. Then create the story characters out of felt (which will still to the Velcro automatically) or adhere Velcro to other items for the same purpose. Keep the story pieces together in a Ziploc bag with labels so that you can easily grab them when it’s circle time. This website has lots of different ideas on how to use the finger puppet glove - check it out!

4. Cookie Sheet Magnet Games

Another insanely cheap and versatile item, baking sheets are a big win with teachers. Paint the baking sheets (you can pick them up at a thrift or dollar store) and then create your game. You can download tons of different templates on this website, which has lots of different developmentally appropriate games that be interchanged. Grab a set of alphabet and number magnets, place them in a bag that can go with each lesson, and voila! A whole new world of cheap and easy education games!

5. LEGO Word Family Sorting

Interchangeable blocks like LEGO and Megablocks are great in the classroom, especially since children already like to play with them at home. You can easily find bags of random pieces at yard sales or secondhand stores, which can then be used in a variety of educational activities. One is the Word Family Sorting game, where children must stack blocks on top of one another that have similar words on them (think rhyming words or nouns, depending on your grade level). You can also utilize LEGOs to teach addition and subtraction, spelling and colors. Who said blocks were just for building spaceships?

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:
- See more at:

Saturday, August 29, 2015

State aquariums, parks and others championing efforts to protect sea turtles

Environmentally Speaking 

A news blog from the N.C. Dept. of Environment & Natural Resources

State aquariums, parks and others championing efforts to protect sea turtles
The Outer Banks have long been a favorite destination for tourists, thanks to the miles of undisturbed sandy beaches and the opportunity to relax and experience the natural world.
Each year, some people who visit the Outer Banks witness something rare when adult sea turtles come to the barrier islands to lay their eggs.
Survival is difficult for sea turtles, however, as only one in every 1,000 turtle hatchlings will survive, and those that do live face numerous man-made and natural threats during their lifetimes.
But local, state and federal government agencies are working together to help ensure the safety of these endangered species. 
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission along with state park officials, the National Parks Service, local governments and our state aquariums monitor hatchlings and help rehabilitate any sea turtles that fall victim to attacks from predators or man-made hazards such as boat propellers, trash or fishing nets.
Also, North Carolina’s three state aquariums, which are part of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, have put in place several programs to help injured juvenile and mature sea turtles when it’s apparent they will be unable to survive on their own.
The North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island is home to the Sea Turtle Assistance and Rehabilitation, or STAR, Center. The STAR Center, which opened on June 27, 2014, gives visitors the unique opportunity to learn about the importance of sea turtles to North Carolina’s marine ecosystems. Today, the STAR Center has four loggerheads, two green sea turtles and one Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle in the rehabilitation facility. Aquarium visitors can learn how to help prevent any man-made injuries from happening to sea turtles in the future.
Additional protection of sea turtle species has helped increase nesting sites along the coast. The National Parks Service is reporting 269 nests within the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, 15 more than the record set two years ago, and more than 1,000 for the entire North Carolina Coast.
Thanks to the efforts of all these state, local and federal agencies, sea turtles are being given a better chance to survive.
Officials say that’s good news for sea turtles and the economy of the Outer Banks. The North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island has seen an 18 percent increase in tourist spending and a 19 percent increase in visitors between 2013 and 2014, thanks in part to the STAR Center’s popularity. Equally impressive is the fact all four Outer Banks counties saw visitor spending increase by an average of 5.3 percent in 2014, according to data released earlier this month by North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and state Commerce Secretary John Skvarla. 
It is clear that while this important conservation work protects sea turtles and our valuable ecosystems, it also enhances the quality of life for North Carolina’s citizens and visitors.

Friday, August 28, 2015

ISRI Recycles

 Did you know, The U.S. annually recycles enough ferrous scrap, by weight, to build more than 900 Golden Gate Bridges?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Craven County's Mobile Electronics Recycling Program

Mobile Electronics Recycling Program

The Craven County Solid Waste Department started their Mobile Electronics Recycling Program in July 2015. The following schedule will apply to our Convenience Sites located throughout Craven County.
July – Vanceboro Convenience Site located at 232 Bailey Lane, Vanceboro NC 28586

August – Highway 101 Convenience Site located at 3555 NC Hwy. 101, Havelock NC 28532

September – Sanders Lane Convenience Site located at 135 Sanders Lane, New Bern NC 28560

October – Hickman Hill Convenience Site located at 7775 NC Hwy. 70 East, Havelock NC 28532

November – Ft. Barnwell Convenience Site located at 205 Belltown Rd., Dover NC 28526

December – Bridgeton Convenience Site located at 181 Hwy. 55 East, New Bern NC 28560

In addition, you can always bring your electronics to our Monette’s Convenience Site located at 4001 Old Cherry Point Rd., New Bern NC 28562. Monette’s Convenience Site is our permanent Electronics Recycling location and accepts electronics year round. The Electronics Recycling Program is offered to Craven County residents only. No businesses. The above schedule is subject to change with notice.
For more information contact the Craven County Solid Waste Department – (252) 636-6659

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Recycle us too

Comic Strip

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Go Green in the Kitchen

Nutrition in the Aisles - Retail Dietitian Toolkit

Theme 5: Go Green in the Kitchen

Talking Point

Talking Points


Recycling your steel food cans saves energy and natural resources.


Waste from product packaging makes up a third or more of the trash people throw out.


Canned food is packed in the most recycled food container – the steel can. More than 70 percent of steel cans get recycled.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Carter-Finley Stadium Implements Composting

Sustainability at NC State    

Carter-Finley Stadium Implements Composting

Composting was made available at the 2014 & 2015 Kay Yow Spring Football Games and will now be offered at all home football games during the 2015 season.
Composting was made available at the 2014 & 2015 Kay Yow Spring Football Games and will now be offered at all home football games during the 2015 season.
As the Wolfpack scores touchdowns on the football field, NC State fans will be moving the chains toward creating a zero-waste Carter-Finley Stadium during the 2015 football season.
NC State Athletics and NC State’s Waste Reduction and Recycling Office have partnered to add stadium composting bins, which will be used to collect food waste and other organic material from each game. This waste will be recycled into compost, a nutrient-rich soil amendment that is used to grow plants, flowers and trees.
The new compost bins, which are gray with green lids, will be located next to landfill and recycling bins in the stadium. Student volunteers will be available to help sort leftover food or food-related paper goods, such as pizza boxes and paper plates, into compost bins. Since this is a pilot program, compost is only available on the stadium concourse, meaning any items left in the stands will not be composted.
Compost collected at the game will be combined with other campus food-related waste, including pizza boxes from residence halls and food waste from dining facilities, and transported to NC State alumna-owned Brooks Contractor, where it’s processed and sold as soil amendment in landscaping projects.
So, this fall as you cheer on the Wolfpack, be sure sort your stuff at the stadium, too, so that success can extend off the field. Here’s the Pack’s playbook for creating less waste at Carter-Finley this fall:
What You Can Compost
Look for the gray bin with green lid
  • All leftover food such as pizza, hot dogs, funnel cakes, lemons, peanut shells, nachos
  • Food-related paper such as pizza boxes, popcorn boxes, paper plates, napkins, paper condiment cups, wax paper
What You Can Recycle
Look for the red bin with white lid (or the blue bins with white lids in tailgating areas)
  • Plastic bottles
  • Cans
  • Plastic stadium cups
  • Flyers and posters
  • Cardboard (clean and free of all food waste)
What You Should Landfill
Look for the gray bin without a lid
  • Styrofoam
  • Plastic lemonade cups
  • Peanut bags, wrappers, and condiment packets
  • Chick-fil-A sandwich bags
  • Plastic trays
  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic utensils

Sunday, August 23, 2015

NC State Recycles

WE Recycle

We Recycle VolunteersThe WE Recycle program is a partnership through Waste Industries, University AthleticsWolfpack Sports Properties and Waste Reduction and Recycling.


As a tailgater, it’s easier than ever to recycle!
  • If you are in any of the NC State owned or State Fairgrounds tailgating lots, there are blue WE Recycle bins placed throughout the parking lots for your convenience.
  • Tailgaters can also utilize the clear WE Recycle bags that can be found at select bag dispenser stations or are distributed by volunteers.
  • All bottles, cans and clean cardboard (ex. six pack containers) can be placed in the clear recycling bags or blue bins.
  • Remember to tie your bag and place it on the ground for pick up.
  • A contractor will come by after the game to clean up and separate recycling and trash bags.
  • Please put any cardboard with food residue (ex. Bojangles boxes), food waste and solo cups into the trash.

WE Recycle Volunteer Information

we-recycle-volunteersSIGN UP

  • Fill out the volunteer form
  • Each person must sign up individually
  • Volunteer slots are on a first come, first serve basis, and we may not be able to utilize all of the volunteers that sign up for each game. You will only receive an email from us if you are selected to volunteer.
  • If you are selected to volunteer, we will contact you approximately 2 weeks in advance to confirm you are still interested and that you still would like a ticket and/or parking pass. At that time, we will also provide detailed information on a meet-up time and location (please note, game times are usually posted only a few weeks prior to each game).
  • Volunteers do not need to be affiliated with NC State University (students, faculty and staff are welcome to volunteer with friends and family).
  • Volunteers under the age of 18 must be with a parent/guardian at all times and have a signed waiver.


If you have a group of 10 or more that would like to volunteer please send us an email with the following information:
  • Group Name/Organization
  • Number of interested volunteers
  • Home game dates you would like to volunteer for
  • Contact Information
Group volunteer slots are on a first come, first serve basis.


  • Distribute recycling bags to tailgaters 3-4 hours prior to each home game
  • Provide instructions to fans on what can and cannot be recycled
  • Pass out koozies and other promotional items
  • Each volunteer will have a “buddy” to roam the tailgating lots with
  • Volunteers should be prepared to do a lot of walking while carrying a backpack of supplies (please let us know ahead of time if you require any special accommodations)


  • Game ticket (A limited number of tickets are available, any NC State students that volunteer are encouraged to apply for a student ticket through the ticketing website)
  • Parking pass (A limited number of parking passes are available, we encourage carpooling whenever possible)
  • T-shirt
Volunteers will also receive a backpack full of supplies to use during their shift. All backpacks and supplies must be returned at the conclusion of each shift.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Metal and the Eiffel Tower

  On average, the U.S. processes enough scrap daily, by weight, to build 25 Eiffel Towers every day of the year!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Plastic Dreams

10 Plastics That Dream To Be So Much More

​Everyone has dreams — even your used plastic bottles and bags! Won’t you give them a second chance and recycle them to make their dreams come true? Be sure to visit for more ways you can help!

1. Karl

Via Shutterstock, 6
Karl the milk jug is sitting on a park bench, dreaming of the day when he can be recycled into something that can be used again and again: a nice cutting board!

2. Louie

Via Shutterstock, 5
Louie the water bottle is made of PET plastic, and he can be recycled into another plastic bottle. A sexier plastic bottle. A bottle that a beautiful woman might drink from.

3. Leroy + Madeline

Via Shutterstock, 5
Meet Leroy and Madeline. They’re polypropylene plastic yogurt containers, and they’re daydreaming about being recycled together into a plastic colander. Leroy has always wanted to be useful forever, and Madeline loves spaghetti!

4. Gina

Via Shutterstock, 5
Gina has seen her last days as a PET plastic water bottle. But that doesn’t have to be the end — she can be recycled into carpeting that a fluffy dog might lie on! And Gina loves dogs. You can do it, Gina!

5. Donna

Via Shutterstock, 4
As a detergent jug, Donna has helped keep someone’s clothes clean for months. Thanks to her HDPE plastic body, when you recycle her, she can kick back and relax as a new chair with a sweet view!

6. Jeff

Via Shutterstock, 5
Jeff’s PET plastic body means he can be recycled into sleeping bag insulation. And Jeff loves the outdoors! We believe in your future, Jeff!

7. Tanya

Via Shutterstock, 5
Tanya is a polyethylene bag, and she spends most of her time keeping your food fresh. But did you know you can take her back to many grocery stores to be recycled into wonderful things? Tanya dreams of being recycled into plastic lumber, just like the kind that patio decks are made of!

8. Sara

Via Shutterstock, 5
Sara the polypropylene plastic cottage cheese container is daydreaming of the day she and her lid can be recycled into a woven outdoor rug! All Sara wants is to bring happiness and comfort to some lucky guy or gal.

9. Wesley

Via Shutterstock, 5
Wesley is a plant food container made of polyethylene plastic, and he can’t wait to be recycled so he can become a beautiful outdoor planter!

10. Bernice

Via Shutterstock, 5
Bernice loves keeping food fresh as a polyethylene zipper bag. But Bernice also loves sports. So Bernice wishes you would take her back to a grocery store for recycling in order to fulfill her lifelong dream of being a seat at a football stadium!
Facts from Recycle Everywhere and WasteCare.

With your help, plastics like these don’t have to dream of a second life — they can live it! Recycle your plastics and visit to learn more!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Recycling glass bottles

Did you know that 1 glass bottle saves enough to light a 100-watt bulb for 4 hours?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why I don't use straws

Why I don't use straws (one of many reasons).
"The straw after it had been removed."
Earlier today, Chris Figgener helped me to remove a 10 cm (4 in) plastic straw that was entirely embedded into the nostril of an olive ridley sea turtle. Lament...ably, this is a consequence of the world of single-use, non-biodegradable plastic that we currently live in.
There is a solution and it lies in our own decisions. Please say no to all single-use plastic. Every plastic straw, plastic bag, or plastic bottle that ends up in the oceans could mean the difference between life or death for any number of marine animals

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The wonder of nature

The wonder of nature

Monday, August 17, 2015

Make your own housecleaning products

Make your own housecleaning products

Photo: Jupiterimages
Making your own cleaning products is a good way to save money and control the use of chemicals in your home. Most of the following recipes are made from nontoxic ingredients, but there are some chemicals as well. If you store any of these, be sure to label them so you know what is in the container —and keep these and any household cleaners out of the reach of children and pets!
Here are some simple recipes for the most common household chores.
Window cleaner
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar in a quart of warm water
  • Spray bottle with club soda
Put in a spray bottle Consumer Reports' tried-and-true window cleaner: 
  • 1 pint rubbing alcohol
  • 1/2 cup soapy ammonia
Mix well, put in spray bottles and label Disinfectant
  • 20-30 drops of tea tree extract
  • 3 tablespoons castile soap
  • White vinegar
Mix in a 16-ounce sprayer and top with water All-purpose cleaner
  • 1 part water
  • 1 part white vinegar
  • Club soda
Mix in a spray bottle Non-abrasive cleaner
Shake baking soda on surface or damp sponge and scrub
  • 1 part baking soda
  • 1 part lemon juice
Make a paste and use a sponge to clean Toilet bowl cleaner
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
Flush the toilet, sprinkle in the baking soda, spray with vinegar and scrub Bath tile mold prevention
  • 1 part water
  • 1 part bleach
Spray and wipe off with a warm, damp sponge Grout mold cleaner
  • 1 part hydrogen peroxide
  • 2 parts water
Combine in spray bottle. Spray, let sit for an hour, wipe with a damp sponge Drain cleaner (not for full clogs)
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup of baking soda
Pour baking soda then vinegar down drain. Let sit for 10 minutes and flush with boiling water followed by warm tap water until drain clears. Use a plunger
Partially fill sink/tub with water. Plunge for 20 seconds and pull the plunger quickly from the drain
Furniture polish
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar (or 1/2 cup lemon juice)
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
Mix and polish with soft cloth Air freshener
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda (add an essential oil or cologne for fragrance if you want)
Mix in spray bottle
Carpet cleaner/deodorizer Sprinkle carpet with baking soda. Let it sit for a half-hour and vacuum
All-purpose floor cleaner
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 gallon water
Mix and mop (Note: Vinegar should not be used on grout or marble) Wood floor cleaner
  • Few drops of dish soap
  • 1 gallon of warm water
Mix and damp mop Dishwasher liquid
  • 1/2 cup liquid castile soap
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 drops tea tree extract
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
Stir water and soap together. Add rest of ingredients and stir until blended. Put in squeeze bottle. Use 2 tablespoons per load. (From "Natural Cleaning for Your Home: 95 Pure and Simple Recipes," by Casey Keller)
Dishwashing rinse
  • White vinegar
Pour vinegar into the compartment Garbage disposal freshener
Grind orange and lemon peels in the disposal.
Laundry detergent
  • 1 bar of shaved bar soap (Ivory, Fels-Naptha or Zote)
  • 1/2 cup of washing soda
Stir together until combined well and store in an airtight container. Use 1 tablespoon per load (2 for heavy soils). This is low-suds and should work well for front-loading laundry machines. Fabric softener
Add 1/2 cup white vinegar to rinse cycle
These ideas should save you money and put your mind at ease about using too many chemicals. Please feel free to comment with your own recipes or share the results if you've tried any of these.
Anne Burkley originally wrote this story for It is reprinted with permission here.

Home Electronics Disposal