In Minnesota: Taking a tour, and picking up trash

Here is an example of combining a tour of an area with picking up trash.  It takes place in St. Paul, Minnesota:

To make this happen, individuals from 3 different organizations worked together:

The individuals to picked up litter along two streets:

  • Syndicate street
  • Griggs streets

While picking up trash along these two streets, the individuals learn about the future of a Griggs Street park via an hour long tour.  The park will be on 5 acres that the Trust for Public Land recently purchased in the city of St. Paul. The property is near the Skyline Tower housing development, which is home to 500 or more families.


Earth Week begins tomorrow, Monday, April 17th — Leave No Trace

Tomorrow, Monday, April 17th, starts Earth Week. To start the week off on a positive note, here is an article about the Boulder-based, member-driven organization, Leave No Trace:

The organization is looking to motivate people to pick up trash in a public open space this week, and when doing so, photograph themselves with the piece of trash, tag @LeaveNoTrace on Twitter and/or Instagram and use the hashtag #LeaveNoTrash.

Article: How Entrepreneurs Can Turn Trash Into (Revenue) Profit (Literally)

Trash in the ocean is an interesting problem. 8 million metric tons of plastic currently enter the oceans annually.  Based upon that rate, one estimate is that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.

Here is an interesting article talking about that, and a link to the company that is making and selling $149 sunglasses out of recovered high-density-polyethylene (HDPE) ocean plastics:

Austin-based company, Dell is mentioned as well: “Dell recently announced that it’s using recycled plastics collected from waterways and beaches for use in the new packaging tray for its Dell XPS 13 2-in-1.”

Note: The author of this article Elizabeth Gore highlights that 500m plastic straws are a culprit to the plastic generation.


Going Styrofoam Free

How many of you use styrofoam cups and packaging to keep your drink and food warm or cold? I know I use them whenever I get a hot drink. In fact, everyone uses them everyday by the millions.

The problem with styrofoam products, also know as expanded polystyrene foam is that billions of them are being sent to the landfill and into our oceans rather than being recycled (fact: the EPA calculated that “less than 2% of polystyrene [were] recycled in 2013”), even though it is a form of plastic. One of the reasons for that is that there isn’t enough recycling programs that would recycle them as they would do with other plastic items. So what is the solution to this problem?

There have been different approaches to recycling styrofoam:

Ashton Cofer discussed at a TEDtalk event a design that him and his  team made that converts foam into active carbon, like the filters that filter filthy water and air. It not only saves landfill space, but also reuses the resource of styrofoam. Watch his presentation to get more information about the design.

Chick-fil-A are up-cycling their used styrofoam cups in an environmentally helpful way. They partner up with IWSPlastic Recycling of Iowa Falls, Inc, and a few other recycling locations that turns used polystyrene into usable products. You can read about this through this link.

Montana is taking a step further by proposing a bill to ban styrofoam food packaging and cups from restaurants and food packaging companies. Their aim is “to protect the health of people and wildlife in Montana” since the digested plastic poisons the body of animals and those who consumes them.

An organization called 5Gyres is spreading awareness about plastic in our oceans, especially styrofoam. They form events, programs, and guides to be #plasticfree. You can learn more about this organization by visiting their website.

You see, there are different ways that people, organizations, and companies are taking to change how foam is thrown away. You can be foam free by using your reusable cups or even don’t have the plastic covers of the styrofoam cups. There are so many ways, take action and be green.

Here are two photos of styrofoam robots that were made by artists: