Friday, November 30, 2012

Not the Same Old Grind

20 ways to reuse coffee grounds, tea leaves

It's unlikely that coffee or tea is growing in your garden, so after you finish that cup, put the grounds to work with these clever ideas.

By Melissa Breyer
By Melissa BreyerMon, Nov 19 2012 at 6:0
coffee and coffee beans
Photo: eclectic echoes/Flickr
 
It takes a brave and hearty (and spartan) soul to give up coffee and tea in the name of food miles. Many do, but morning caffeine is the guilty pleasure that whispers in a voice too alluring for many to resist. One thing is for sure: it's generally a long journey for beans and leaves to travel from exotic climes to the kitchen counter — so we may as well honor them with some extra chores before condemning them to the trash. For those who add their spent dregs to the compost bin, you can still do so in many of these applications once their mission has been accomplished.
 
What to do with coffee grounds
1. Soften skin
Exfoliate with a body scrub made of coffee grounds, coconut oil and a little brown sugar. Gently massage it on in the shower, rinse, be soft.
 
2. Please the flowers
Use coffee grounds as mulch for acid-loving plants — roses, azaleas, rhododendrons, evergreens, hydrangeas and camellias. They like coffee grounds for the natural acidity and nutrients they add to the soil.
 
3. Sadden the ants
Sprinkle coffee grounds around areas of ant infestation to deter them.
 
4. Deter gastropods
Used grounds are said to repel snails and slugs, so sprinkle them in problem areas.
 
5. Simplify fireplace cleaning
Before cleaning the fireplace, sprinkle with dampened used coffee grounds, which will weigh down the ash and thus eliminate clouds of smoke-flavored dust.
 
6. Make a sepia dye
Soak used grounds in hot water and use as a dye bath for Easter eggs, fabric and paper for a lovely, soft brown tinge.
 
7. Keep cats at bay
Keep kitties out of the garden with a mixture of orange peels and used coffee grounds distributed around plants.
 
8. Encourage the carrots
To boost a carrot harvest, mix seeds with dried coffee grounds before sowing. The extra bulk makes the wee seeds easier to manage, while the coffee aroma can nourish the soil and help repel pests.
 
What to do with tea leaves and tea bags
tea bag
Photo: A Girl With Tea/Flickr
 
Some tips call for dried leaves, here’s how. When you’re finished brewing tea, place the leaves into a large strainer or colander. Press out as much moisture as possible, and then spread the leaves on paper. Let the leaves dry thoroughly, turning over several times in the process. Also note that wet tea leaves stain, so if you are using wet tea leaves on or near a porous surface, be sure to test in an inconspicuous place first.
 
9. Tame stings and burns
Cool tea bags can bring relief when applied to bug bites and minor burns, including sunburn. For overall skin irritation, put spent tea leaves in a bath and soak.
 
10. Soothe your eyes
The tannins in tea have anti-inflammatory effects, which is why cool ones are often employed on puffy eyes. (The chill also helps with swelling.)
 
11. Feed the garden
Use tea leaves as food for garden plants — green tea is high in nitrogen, and as a bonus, the leaves can ward off pests and insects. This is also good for houseplants, so add old tea leaves to their water.
 
12. Boost potted plants
When potting plants, place a few used tea bags on top of the drainage layer at the bottom of the planter before adding soil. The tea bags will help to retain water and will also leach some nutrients into the potting medium.
 
13. Quell the cat box smell
Sprinkle used, dried tea leaves in litter boxes to help reduce the smell.
 
14. Eliminate other pet odors
Sprinkle dried, used green tea leaves on your pet’s pillow, bed, in the doghouse, or other smelly spots to eliminate odor.
 
15. Freshen the carpet
Sprinkle dry tea leaves onto the carpet, crush them lightly and let sit for 10 minutes, then vacuum. This will refresh the carpet and deodorize your vacuum cleaner and bag. (Especially helpful if you have pets.)
 
16. Treat the dog
As an extravagance, loose leaf gunpowder tea is a treat for dogs to roll around in. It’s great for the aroma and luster it adds to the coat.
 
17. Freshen mats and beds 
It is common in Southeast Asia to wash straw sleeping mats in tubs of water to which tea has been added. The tea works as a deodorizer, so you can apply this method to yoga mats and air mattresses.
 
18. Save the fridge
If you’re out of baking soda, place dried, used green tea bags or leaves in a small open bowl in your refrigerator to help absorb odors.
 
19. Wash your hands
Rid your hands of food odors (garlic, onions, etc.) by rubbing them with wet green tea leaves, an instant deodorizer.
 
20. Deodorize kitchen surfaces
Rub wet tea leaves on cutting boards and counters to remove food odors.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

North Carolina state park and AmeriCorps partner to improve longleaf pine forest

North Carolina state park and AmeriCorps partner to improve longleaf pine forest


 RALEIGH – A crew of AmeriCorps volunteers is at Singletary Lake State Park this week planting 13,000 wiregrass plants to improve the park’s longleaf pine forest and its habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.

The partnership also involves Quail Unlimited, which provided a $2,500 grant set aside to nurture warm-season grasses in areas off-limits to hunting. The wiregrass plants originated at the North Carolina Forest Service’s Claridge Nursery in Goldsboro.

Singletary Lake State Park in Bladen County has two known red-cockaded woodpecker colonies. The species prefers an “open” longleaf pine forest with few mid-story trees such as oak. A longleaf pine ecosystem is best supported by a wiregrass ground cover and regular prescribed burns. Establishing wiregrass is a labor-intensive process of planting by hand, and the team has also removed small hardwoods from the state park’s longleaf pine forest.

“The partnership with AmeriCorps has been a valuable experience for the state parks system, increasing our efficiency and giving us more options in managing the parks’ natural resources,” said Lewis Ledford, state parks director.

This is the third year the state parks system has qualified to host an AmeriCorps volunteer team. The federal program for men and women ages 18-24 dispatches teams throughout the states for up to 11 months to perform about 1,700 hours of community service. The current nine-person team will spend more than six weeks in North Carolina’s state parks, participating in prescribed burns, preparing fire lines and removing exotic species and hardwoods in longleaf pine areas.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Whole Foods Introduces Paper and Wood Gift Cards

Whole Foods Introduces Paper and Wood Gift Cards

Whole Foods is doing away with plastic gift cards like these and replacing them with paper and ethically harvested wood alternatives. Photo: Whole Foods

While gift cards can be recycled, ensuring that every single gift card issued is recycled is nearly impossible. That’s why Whole Foods recently decided to do away with plastic gift cards all together – even their variety of 100 percent post-consumer plastic cards.

Rather than issuing a piece of plastic into the waste cycle, Whole Foods is replacing their plastic cards with ones made from 50 percent post-consumer paper and “responsibly harvested wood.” The new cards can still be recycled, but if they are thrown in the trash, will take a considerably shorter time to decompose. Both new forms of cards are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and, according to a press release, “have a lower carbon footprint, are reusable, recyclable, compostable and require less energy to be produced.”
In 2006, a staggering $80 billion worth of gift cards were sold in the U.S. with a piece of plastic accompanying nearly every purchase.

"We are constantly looking for ways to reduce our environmental impact and further our green mission efforts. Moving away from plastic gift cards is one way we can help make a difference," Chris Jensen, gift card team leader for Whole Foods Market, says in the release. "We want to make gift giving not only as simple as possible but also environmentally friendly."
Whole Foods will continue to recycle plastic gift cards from its store locations – an effort that has saved more than 250,000 gift cards from landfills, the company says.

This is one of many environmental efforts made by Whole Foods in the last few years. The company has purchased renewable energy offsets for all of its stores and facilities since 2006, the equivalent of preventing nearly 551,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution from entering the atmosphere. In addition, the food retailer has done away with plastic bags entirely by using a paper bag alternative for customers who don’t have reusable totes in tow.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

NC Green Travel FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is "green" tourism?
Practicing good environmental stewardship through the use of methods and products that lessen the adverse impact on the environment.
 
How can I “green” my business to  help protect the environment?
There are many ways to go green. They include purchasing environmentally friendly products and services, installing efficient lighting and plumbing fixtures, providing opportunities for recycling, providing your staff with educational resources to share with customers, and the list goes on. Visit our pages to find out more.
 
How can my business apply for recognition with NC GreenTravel?
From our home page, click on the "Get Recognized" link. That will take you to our page containing applications for lodging, restaurants, attractions and other businesses. Fill in the appropriate application and send it to tom.rhodes@ncdenr.gov . If you do not see an application for your particular type of business, call us at (919) 707-8140 and we will walk you through the application process.
 
What will I receive as a recognized NC GreenTravel business?
Recognized businesses receive a NC GreenTravel door decal and a framable wall certificate denoting them as a green travel business. They also receive free listings on the NC GreenTravel website map and listings pages.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Top 10 Green Building Products for 2013

Melissa Hincha-Ownby

Top 10 Green Building Products for 2013

BuildingGreen, Inc. announced the top 10 Green Building Products at the 2012 Greenbuild Conference in San Francisco, California.


 
Haiku Ceiling Fan Haiku fan from Big ***Fans Green building is a hot topic this week. Greenbuild 2012, the largest green building conference and expo in the world, kicked off today in San Francisco, California. Greenbuild is the perfect setting for the annual BuildingGreen, Inc. Top 10 Green Building Products announcement.
 
The contrasts in extreme weather this year, from record droughts to record flooding, impacted BuildingGreen's choices for the Top 10 Green Building Products for 2013.
 
“After a year of a record droughts and floods across the country, this year’s Top-10 products include several for managing moisture in buildings or for irrigating more responsibly,” says BuildingGreen founder and GreenSpec executive editor Alex Wilson. “In selecting this year’s products, we looked for companies addressing resilience, energy efficiency, thoughtful use of materials, cutting-edge system optimization, and other needs.”
 
2013 Top 10 Green Building Products
 
  • WUFI software from Fraunhofer IBP and Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Atlas CMU block with CarbonCure
  • Amorim expanded-cork boardstock insulation
  • Proglaze ETA Engineered Transition Assemblies from Tremco Commercial Sealants & Waterproofing.
  • LoE-i89 glazing from Cardinal Glass Industries
  • Viridian Reclaimed Wood
  • GeoSpring hybrid electric water heater from GE
  • Haiku by Big *** Fans
  • XS-P Series streetlight from Cree Lighting
  • Cyber Rain irrigation controllers
 
The first item that caught my eye was Haiku. With a company name like "Big *** Fans", how could it not? Haiku is a ceiling fan that utilizes a brushless, electronically commutated DC motor. The DC motor-powered fan is more energy efficient than a traditional AC motor-powered fan. The Haiku ceiling fans use between two and 30 watts of power, which significantly exceeds Energy Star requirements.
 
The WUFI software program from Fraunhofer IBP and Oak Ridge National Laboratory also piqued my interest. The software helps prevent moisture or air quality problems by calculating "heat and moisture transfer in multi-layer building components exposed to various climate conditions." Source: BuildingGreen
 
For more information about each of the products that made this year's list, read the BuildingGreen Top 10 Green Building Products of 2013 announcement.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Covet This

Covet This

Recycled polyester teams up with organic materials like bamboo and soybeans to create an eco-friendly fashion line bursting with fall tones and warmth.
If you are a green fashionista looking for some fall fashions you can feel good about, check out Covet. Covet is an eco-apparel line that incorporates organic and sustainable fibers into its designs while “remaining true to the details and styling of a contemporary fashion brand.” Some of the sustainable fabrics in the collection include organic cotton yarns, soybean, bamboo and recycled polyester.

Covet doesn’t make a big deal about being sustainable, only including a small paragraph about its “awareness of the world in which we live” on the brand’s About page.
The Montréal-based line prefers that customers buy its clothes because they love them. The rest is an added bonus. The thought being, if you love a piece of clothing you will wear it forever, which is far more environmentally friendly than buying it for its sustainability and then leaving it in your closet because you do not really love it.

Here are some Covet must-haves for fall:
 Covet This
CLGT9832 crossover textured sweater, CLGK9776 recycled poly accordion pleat skirt. Photo courtesy of Covet.
 Covet This
CLGK9772 printed recycled poly chiffon skirt, CLGB9710 bamboo cami, CLGB9708 organic cotton cascade cardigan. Photo courtesy of Covet.
 Covet This
CLGM9775 recycled poly chiffon dress w/ shoulder piping, CLGT9746 long open front cardigan. Photo courtesy of Covet.
 Covet This
CLGM9784 pennant print chiffon sleeveless dress, CLGC9786 recycled poly chiffon shirt dress. Photo courtesy of Covet.
Covet is available in retail stores in the U.S., Canada and online. For more information, visit covetthis.com

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Fans, Teams Tackle Football Tailgate Waste

Fans, Teams Tackle Football Tailgate Waste


Students recycle on game day at the University of Iowa. Photo: Waste Management
Written by Tim Gray, strategic business director, Waste Management

If you’ve been to a football game or tailgate this season, you may have noticed that events like that produce a lot of waste. In fact, stadiums produce more than 39 million pounds of waste each year –enough waste to cover an entire football field and more.
With NFL games averaging 70,000 fans and NCAA games averaging 50,000 fans, game day can produce a lot of waste.

College and professional teams across the country have begun to put that waste to work with ambitious recycling programs. For example, the Houston Texans are encouraging fans, employees and team members to recycle with special bins for plastic bottles, cups, and aluminum cans. In 2011, the Texans distributed approximately 850,000 plastic bottles during the season, so this program has the potential for making a large impact.
So how can you contribute to the effort? Here are some reminders on how to have a greener game day:
  • Plan to recycle. Not all stadiums have recycling readily available in the tailgate or seating areas. Come prepared with bags to collect bottles and cans to bring home to properly recycle.
  • Leave that fourth casserole at home. Bring only the food, drink and supplies that you think you will actually use. This will reduce the chance that those leftovers end up in the trash.
  • Embrace reusable options. Plastic cups and paper plates are very convenient, but they account for a lot of waste at tailgates. If you’re not a fan of bringing reusable options, consider recyclable or biodegradable choices.
Check out this list from Earth911 for a few more great tips and reminders.
While tailgates and games can create a lot of waste, college campuses are creating even more waste during the offseason. College campuses in the United States produce an estimated 105 Million pounds of waste every day. That’s more than 38 billion pounds per year – enough to fill several football fields.

Colleges have a unique opportunity to educate young people and help them develop lifelong habits, including recycling, which will help reduce that amount of waste. For example, campuses such as Rutgers University in New Jersey are improving recycling rates through a single-stream program, larger, solar-powered compacting recycle receptacles across campus and increased awareness of recycling among students. And this approach has been successful – in the years since they implemented these changes, they’ve achieved a 67 percent recycling material diversion rate and continue to work toward a goal of 85 percent by 2015.

On campus or off, these recycling tips will make for a more sustainable football season. No matter which team you root for, go green!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Schedule

The landfill and transfer stations will be open today, November 23rd.  The administrative offices will be closed and reopen Monday, November 26th.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Schedule

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  The Tuscarora Landfill and Transfer Stations will be closed today.  The landfill and transfer stations will be open tomorrow, November 23rd.  The administrative offices will be closed and reopen Monday, November 26th.

Have a safe and happy holiday.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Aflac Green

Aflac’s Susan Goodsell on the Company’s ‘Freecycle’ Program


The company’s Freecycle events shuffle around unwanted or underused items between different departments, avoiding unnecessary landfill cluttering.
 Aflac’s Susan Goodsell on the Company’s ‘Freecycle’ Program
It’s fun, it’s funny and it helps the earth. A couple of times a year, the various departments of Aflac, the $22-billion supplemental insurance company headquartered in Columbus, GA, empty storage closets and hold a freecycle — an open market where office managers can “shop” for items from a huge array of leftovers.

It works like this: If Accounting is in need of toner and Marketing rendered a few cartridges obsolete with an equipment upgrade, the bean counters can pick up supplies for free. The program has been underway for four years, and has saved the company more than $50,000. Of course, it also has deflected a lot of waste from landfills and improved efficiency of office supply consumption throughout Aflac’s corporate offices.
Susan Goodsell 303x359 Aflac’s Susan Goodsell on the Company’s ‘Freecycle’ Program
Susan Goodsell, Aflac’s Green Committee
I
t’s a good and simple thing we can do for both the bottom line and the environment. As a member of the Aflac Green Committee, I thought jumpstarting this program was a simple way to cut back on inter-company waste. The freecycle events are also a festive atmosphere — a good excuse to get out of the office and meet colleagues from other departments. On a campus of nearly 4,000 people, that’s a big plus.

Freecycle is just one of the many green initiatives in play at Aflac, earning the corporation a place on the FTSE4Good Index of sustainability-conscious companies.

Susan Goodsell is a member of the Green Committee at Aflac. She lives in Columbus, GA.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Another Use for Skateboards

Business Crafts Old Skateboards into Jewelry and Belt Buckles

RSI repurposes old skateboards into brightly colored jewelry, key chains and belt buckles.

What started out as a recycled skateboard birdhouse project with their son's fifth grade class has boomed into a full-blown business for Phoenix residents Devin and Lisa Kelley.
The couple founded Recycled Skateboards International (RSI), a company dedicated to recycling some of the close to two million skateboards that are discarded each year by creating jewelry, keychains, pins and belt buckles.

Also interesting: Skateboard Company Uses Every Scrap of Wood
“RSI partners with skateboard shops all over the US to keep skateboard decks out of landfills,” Devin Kelley says in a press release. “As skateboarders, we have made a commitment to reduce our carbon footprint by repurposing these old decks. We ride them, so we should recycle them.”

This simple message resonates with RSI's audience and has helped build the business. Their products are now available in several retail stores in Arizona and California, and online orders can be made via their website.

“Some people rescue aluminum cans, we rescue beautiful, once loved skateboards from landfills, which is also pretty great,” says Lisa Kelley in a press release.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Recycling Mystery: Phone Books

Recycling Mystery: Phone Books

Believe it or not, phone books have an expiration date. People move, businesses open and close, and contact information changes. But one constant remains; the recycling market for your outdated yellow and white pages.
If you've been storing up phone books in the garage or receiving more directories than you need, here are some phone book facts to keep in mind.

Photo: Flickr/Jamiesrabbits

Making the Grade

The paper used for telephone books falls under the paper grade category of “mixed paper”, which is where you'll also find paper products such as cereal boxes, greeting cards and magazines. Recycling programs that accept one mixed paper product will usually accept them all, but it's always a good idea to confirm with your local recycler which paper products are collected.
Paper grades are significant because paper mills use them for sorting materials to ensure the right fiber lengths when making new paper. Because the fibers from phone books are shorter than other paper, directories are often recycled into non-paper products, where fiber length is not as relevant.
Get in the know: Paper Recycling

Reduce

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that nearly 72 percent (or 7 million tons) of paper products were diverted from landfills in 2010. However, paper products of all types still accounted for more than 28 percent of our waste, making it the largest material by volume.
Although phone books represent a small percentage of the paper products in the waste stream, directory providers like Dex One are making it easier than ever to reduce that part of your paper trail. Dex One’s Opt-Out Program allows users to customize their directory delivery or opt-out of it altogether.
With so many homes and businesses transitioning to digital directory options, and multiple companies producing and delivering the paper versions, it is not uncommon for books to show up when you don’t need or want them.
“We know 70 percent of adults use print directories every year, but they may also use our digital search alternatives and need fewer directories. Or maybe they use only our digital options and want to opt out completely,” said Maggie Stonecipher, Dex One's assistant vice president of print, delivery and environmental services.
Dex One is dedicated to offering consumers a choice about available digital options, the directories delivered to them and making sure the directories are recycled.”
By choosing to opt-out of or reduce your delivery, you are not only saving the inconvenience of unwanted books, but also the paper, manufacturing resources and energy used to produce and transport them.
Dex One also contributes to paper reduction by producing directories with smaller dimensions to reduce overall volume and by using at least 20 to 25 percent post-consumer content in their directory paper stock.

Recycle & Reuse

For directories you need to dispose of, there are plenty of recycling options, as well as reuse opportunities around the house.
Explore: Fun With Phone Books
You may be able to toss phone books in your curbside recycling bin, and some communities offer directory collection events around the same time that new phone books are distributed while disposal is top of mind.
To help reduce unnecessary waste, Dex One’s delivery service performs follow up “sweeps” in some markets by returning to areas where books have recently been delivered to pick up those left unclaimed.
The company GreenFiber offers another collection option by operating bins throughout the U.S. for paper drop-off, and phone books are one of the materials accepted in these bins. Utilizing these drop-off sites raises money for community programs and the paper is recycled into insulation for residential and commercial buildings.
If your community doesn't offer phone book recycling, the paper can be shredded and used as brown waste in most compost programs. Most manufacturers use soy or vegetable-based inks, which is common for printing on uncoated paper such as newspapers and directories. You'll want to remove the cover and spine from the directory if you go this route.

Recycle With Care

It's important to keep in mind that when a phone book is delivered to your door, there's often more than just paper. Many phone books come wrapped in plastic to prevent weather damage and may have magnets on the front.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Estuary program celebrates 25 years


Release: Immediate
Date: 2012-11-16
---------
Contact: Jim Hawhee
E-mail:
jim.hawhee@ncdenr.gov
Phone: 919-707-8632

Estuary program celebrates 25 years of environmental success with new name, structure


RALEIGH – An environmental program is celebrating its 25th birthday with a new name and changes that will enable better management of a key coastal estuary in Virginia and North Carolina.

The Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program was created Nov. 14, 1987 with the launch of a study of the estuary. Protection of the Albemarle-Pamlico estuary, which serves as a key nursery area for coastal fish and shellfish, has been vital to the fishing and tourism industries in the two states.

Last week, North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue signed Executive Order #133, which restructures the program and renames it the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership.

“Over the past 25 years, this program has led or supported hundreds of initiatives to restore and protect the sounds while engaging the public,” said Bill Crowell, the partnership’s director. “Our name change reflects the simple proposition that effective stewardship of our sounds requires an effort beyond any single program or agency. Residents, businesses, nonprofit groups, academic institutions, and all levels of government have a stake in the effective management of our estuarine resources.”

Perdue’s Executive Order also streamlines the partnership’s advisory structure by merging two of its committees into one and directing the program’s committees to make decisions based on the key provisions in the estuary’s 10-year management plan, which was adopted in March.

Covering 3,000 square miles, the Albemarle-Pamlico estuary is among the largest in the nation. Estuaries are areas where river and ocean waters mix, supporting a rich array of terrestrial and aquatic life.

“Among our historic successes, the program has been instrumental in spurring the creation of the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the development of the Estuarium in Washington,” Crowell said. “The program has also led or financed more than 100 applied research studies.”

Recent successes for the program include mapping of aquatic grasses in North Carolina, financial support for large-scale restoration efforts along the estuarine coastline, extensive field training for hundreds of K-12 teachers, and technical assistance for communities improving their wastewater treatment systems.

Congress in 1987 designated the Albemarle-Pamlico area an “estuary of national significance” and created the National Estuary Program. The partnership is one of 28 such estuary programs in the United States.

For more information, see www.apnep.org, or contact Jim Hawhee, the partnership’s policy and engagement manager, at 919-707-8632 or jim.hawhee@ncdenr.gov.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thanksgiving Outdoor Decorations

Nature Makes The Best Autumn & Thanksgiving Outdoor Decorations On A Budget

Bring color, texture and warmth into your yard this Thanksgiving season — even if you are on a tight budget.
That’s right, autumn yard decor doesn’t have to be expensive if you decorate using items from nature.

Here are some simple DIY outdoor decorations that work great for your seasonal autumn and Thanksgiving holiday yard decor.

Straw Bales
Straw bales can be purchased at garden centers and farms that specialize in autumn decor.
They can be stacked atop one another or used individually.
Straw bales look great with a homemade scarecrow or soft sculptured person sitting on top of them.

Pumpkins and Gourds
While at the garden center or farm, pick up a few pumpkins and gourds.
They can be placed around straw bales, as well as on porch steps and railings. Pumpkins and gourds bring color, texture and warmth to your outdoor spaces.
Flowers
Set pots of chrysanthemums,
gerba daisies, ornamental kale, sedum, asters and salvia on porch steps, near straw bales and on porch railings.
Make an arrangement using autumn flowers, small pumpkins, acorns and berries.
Twist grapevines around porch and stair spindles and add stems of Queen Anne’s Lace or ornamental grasses.
GarlandAutumn garland can be made to bring color, texture and warmth to your porch.
Have children gather pretty colored leaves. Then, use a darning needle and heavy string (wire can be substituted to push through them) and fill the string or wire with leaves of contrasting colors.
You can also add other "earthy" things like acorns or pinecones, if desired.
Hang your homemade garland over doors and windows, or carefully twist them around porch railings and stair spindles.
Scarecrow
Get an extra bale of straw when you are at the garden center or farm and
make a scarecrow with it.
A scarecrow brightens your yard when placed on straw bales or in a chair on your porch.
Add a straw hat, boots and other embellishments to create a focal point. Then set pumpkins, gourds and flowers around him to make a beautiful display.
Cornstalks
Cornstalks can also be found at garden centers and farms. Place them in a corner near your porch.
Add orange, yellow or red ribbon that is 1-1/2 inches wide and tie into a bow. Cornstalks can also be arranged in sheaves, if desired. You can also wind grapevines and strings of dried berries or artificial ivy into the cornstalks.
Cornstalks look great when placed behind straw bales with a scarecrow sitting on them.  They’re the perfect autumn and holiday outdoor decor.

Rocks
Flat river rocks or rocks that are uniquely shaped can be used as a focal point in your yard decor. Rocks will add texture to your outdoor spaces.
You can use rocks to make an inukshuk. Then, place pumpkins and cornstalks around your rock formation.

No matter which of the above pieces of nature you choose to include in your autumn yard decor, you can always increase the effect by scattering acorns and pine cones around for a beautiful focal point.
Thanksgiving is the time when we give thanks for a bountiful harvest. All you need are a few items from nature and lots of imagination to bring color, texture and warmth to your yard this Thanksgiving and stay well within your budget.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Butt, then again

Tobacco Company, Terracycle Team Up to Recycle Cigarette Butts

Photo: Shutterstock

Cigarette butts are the most littered item in America and make up 38% of all trash on U.S. roadways, according to Keep America Beautiful. Annually, worldwide cigarette butt litter amounts to 1.69 billion pounds.

TerraCycle Inc., a company devoted to creating recycling systems for hard-to-recycle waste, has teamed up with Sante Fe Natural Tobacco Co. to create an alternative to leaving cigarette butts on roadways or putting them into landfills. The tobacco company will sponsor TerraCycle's Cigarette Waste Brigade, which will allow individuals and groups to collect cigarette waste, print a prepaid shipping label and then mail the cigarettes to TerraCycle, where they will be turned into new products such as shipping pallets, railroad ties, plastic lumber and ash trays.

TerraCycle's mission is to solve waste issues and eliminate the idea of waste, and cigarettes have been on their list of items to tackle for a long time. They believe that to solve waste problems, less desirable forms of waste such as cigarettes need to be dealt with, too.
"We started out doing a lot of consumer packaging and we really wanted to take on some more serious issues. There is no more serious of an environmental issue when it comes to litter and waste than cigarette butts," Albe Zakes, Global VP of Media Relations for TerraCycle, told Earth911.

The program is aimed to target cigarette waste in two ways. First, it will take aim at cigarette waste that has already been littered by working with anti-litter groups and beach clean-up efforts, since those people are already collecting trash and disposing of it in landfills. Second, the program will work with larger facilities like shopping malls, office parks, bars and other places where cigarettes are consumed in large numbers and responsibly discarded, Zakes explained.

"Because of how many cigarettes are consumed and because of the rate of consumption, we do expect this to be a very, very impactful and patroned program." Zakes said. "The goal is to collect hundreds of millions of butts, if not more. We want to make a dent. Unless you're collecting hundreds of millions of butts, you're not making a dent."

Those age 21 or older who are interested in getting involved can visit TerraCycle's website to sign up for the brigade.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

99 Bottles Without Beer on the Wall

Earn Points

10 creative uses for empty beer bottles

Sure, you could recycle your bottles, but why not get crafty and use them for things like candle holders and garden borders?

By Networx.comThu, Nov 08 2012 at 1:32 PM EST

beer bottles Photo: skaljac/Shutterstock
I certainly don’t live in a frat house, but somehow I still find myself with an abundance of beer bottles. Maybe you do too? Barbecue, game day, celebration ... beer is a part of popular culture and most parties include the brew. So aside from recycling — which you’re already doing anyway, right? — have you ever considered what you could do with those leftover bottles (and also, how to use leftover beer around the house)? Well I did, and what follows are the best ideas I rounded up. (Also, I hope it goes without saying, these ideas would work just as well for any glass bottle — pop, juice, water or whatever.)
 
bottles used as flower vases1. Remove the label to make an instant, easy vase. And you may be thinking, “Booooooring!”, but before you dismiss the idea, just imagine this: A long, rustic wooden table scattered with dozens of green glass bottles, each one holding just a few white flowers. Pretty elegant right? Or, how about a dozen clear bottles hanging from wire, suspended in trees, with a big beautiful bloom in each one. Perfectly whimsical for a homespun garden party, no?
 
2. Remove the label to make an instant, easy candle holder. Just the same as above, this concept goes from “dorm” to “decadent” by keeping just a few things in mind: 1) Large groupings add a dramatic effect. Try covering a table, mantle, or hearth. 2) Choose colors and shapes that tell a story. All the same color or a slapdash mix? Tall clear bottles or squat little brown ones? Each choice will evoke a different feeling. 3) Try styling in unexpected ways, such as the suspended vases mentioned above.
 
3. Remove the label and wash the bottle well, then use it to store or serve your kitchen liquids, like oils, vinegars, or even dish soap or hand soap. You’ll just need a few of those stopper/pourer tops — cheap at any kitchen supply store. The dark bottles are great for protecting oils, which react to light.
 
4. You can make your own glass cups by removing the label, washing the bottle well, and then cutting the tops off. Of course you’ll need a proper bottle-cutting kit, but those aren’t hard to find and they come with everything you need for a clean cut and a smooth edge. This would make a great gift for the holidays, especially in matching sets of 2 or 4.
 
beer bottle votive holders5. In the same style as above, you can cut off the tops of beer bottles to make lovely little votive candle holders. Experiment with different shapes and sizes of bottle bottom. And of course, you could totally decorate them with funky decoupage, glitter or rhinestones.
 
6. If candle holders aren’t your bag, how about a beer bottle oil lamp? These can be as simple or as decorative as you wish.
 
7. Fitted with a small feeder spigot, an upside-down beer bottle full of nectar will serve as a free hummingbird feeder. This would make a fun project for the younger family members. Hang it outside their bedroom window!
 
8. Beer bottles make beautiful garden borders, for a “found art” DIY feel. Just fill them with dirt and bury them upside down, with no more than 4-5 inches sticking up above the ground. Use this technique to line paths, enclose garden beds, or encircle your front yard. Using many different colored bottles add to the earthy, mosaic-glass effect. This technique is used by urban landscapers in Portland and across the American West.
 
9. Speaking of mosaic, don’t let that lovely glass go to waste! You can create beautiful homemade mosaics, for stepping stones, bird baths, garden boulders, or even an interior backsplash. Mosaic tutorials are a dime a dozen, so just Google around a bit. Then talk to a local tile contractor to find out what you'll need to install your beer bottle mosaic.
 
10. And finally make a bottle tree. Not only is it a fantastic form of garden art, but southerners swear it will keep the bad juju away!
 
What do you do with your old beer bottles? Let us know in the comments!
Earn Points

10 creative uses for empty beer bottles

Sure, you could recycle your bottles, but why not get crafty and use them for things like candle holders and garden borders?

By Networx.comThu, Nov 08 2012 at 1:32 PM EST

beer bottles Photo: skaljac/Shutterstock
I certainly don’t live in a frat house, but somehow I still find myself with an abundance of beer bottles. Maybe you do too? Barbecue, game day, celebration ... beer is a part of popular culture and most parties include the brew. So aside from recycling — which you’re already doing anyway, right? — have you ever considered what you could do with those leftover bottles (and also, how to use leftover beer around the house)? Well I did, and what follows are the best ideas I rounded up. (Also, I hope it goes without saying, these ideas would work just as well for any glass bottle — pop, juice, water or whatever.)
 
bottles used as flower vases1. Remove the label to make an instant, easy vase. And you may be thinking, “Booooooring!”, but before you dismiss the idea, just imagine this: A long, rustic wooden table scattered with dozens of green glass bottles, each one holding just a few white flowers. Pretty elegant right? Or, how about a dozen clear bottles hanging from wire, suspended in trees, with a big beautiful bloom in each one. Perfectly whimsical for a homespun garden party, no?
 
2. Remove the label to make an instant, easy candle holder. Just the same as above, this concept goes from “dorm” to “decadent” by keeping just a few things in mind: 1) Large groupings add a dramatic effect. Try covering a table, mantle, or hearth. 2) Choose colors and shapes that tell a story. All the same color or a slapdash mix? Tall clear bottles or squat little brown ones? Each choice will evoke a different feeling. 3) Try styling in unexpected ways, such as the suspended vases mentioned above.
 
3. Remove the label and wash the bottle well, then use it to store or serve your kitchen liquids, like oils, vinegars, or even dish soap or hand soap. You’ll just need a few of those stopper/pourer tops — cheap at any kitchen supply store. The dark bottles are great for protecting oils, which react to light.
 
4. You can make your own glass cups by removing the label, washing the bottle well, and then cutting the tops off. Of course you’ll need a proper bottle-cutting kit, but those aren’t hard to find and they come with everything you need for a clean cut and a smooth edge. This would make a great gift for the holidays, especially in matching sets of 2 or 4.
 
beer bottle votive holders5. In the same style as above, you can cut off the tops of beer bottles to make lovely little votive candle holders. Experiment with different shapes and sizes of bottle bottom. And of course, you could totally decorate them with funky decoupage, glitter or rhinestones.
 
6. If candle holders aren’t your bag, how about a beer bottle oil lamp? These can be as simple or as decorative as you wish.
 
7. Fitted with a small feeder spigot, an upside-down beer bottle full of nectar will serve as a free hummingbird feeder. This would make a fun project for the younger family members. Hang it outside their bedroom window!
 
8. Beer bottles make beautiful garden borders, for a “found art” DIY feel. Just fill them with dirt and bury them upside down, with no more than 4-5 inches sticking up above the ground. Use this technique to line paths, enclose garden beds, or encircle your front yard. Using many different colored bottles add to the earthy, mosaic-glass effect. This technique is used by urban landscapers in Portland and across the American West.
 
9. Speaking of mosaic, don’t let that lovely glass go to waste! You can create beautiful homemade mosaics, for stepping stones, bird baths, garden boulders, or even an interior backsplash. Mosaic tutorials are a dime a dozen, so just Google around a bit. Then talk to a local tile contractor to find out what you'll need to install your beer bottle mosaic.
 
10. And finally make a bottle tree. Not only is it a fantastic form of garden art, but southerners swear it will keep the bad juju away!
 
What do you do with your old beer bottles? Let us know in the comments!
Earn Points

10 creative uses for empty beer bottles

Sure, you could recycle your bottles, but why not get crafty and use them for things like candle holders and garden borders?

By Networx.comThu, Nov 08 2012 at 1:32 PM EST

beer bottles Photo: skaljac/Shutterstock
I certainly don’t live in a frat house, but somehow I still find myself with an abundance of beer bottles. Maybe you do too? Barbecue, game day, celebration ... beer is a part of popular culture and most parties include the brew. So aside from recycling — which you’re already doing anyway, right? — have you ever considered what you could do with those leftover bottles (and also, how to use leftover beer around the house)? Well I did, and what follows are the best ideas I rounded up. (Also, I hope it goes without saying, these ideas would work just as well for any glass bottle — pop, juice, water or whatever.)
 
bottles used as flower vases1. Remove the label to make an instant, easy vase. And you may be thinking, “Booooooring!”, but before you dismiss the idea, just imagine this: A long, rustic wooden table scattered with dozens of green glass bottles, each one holding just a few white flowers. Pretty elegant right? Or, how about a dozen clear bottles hanging from wire, suspended in trees, with a big beautiful bloom in each one. Perfectly whimsical for a homespun garden party, no?
 
2. Remove the label to make an instant, easy candle holder. Just the same as above, this concept goes from “dorm” to “decadent” by keeping just a few things in mind: 1) Large groupings add a dramatic effect. Try covering a table, mantle, or hearth. 2) Choose colors and shapes that tell a story. All the same color or a slapdash mix? Tall clear bottles or squat little brown ones? Each choice will evoke a different feeling. 3) Try styling in unexpected ways, such as the suspended vases mentioned above.
 
3. Remove the label and wash the bottle well, then use it to store or serve your kitchen liquids, like oils, vinegars, or even dish soap or hand soap. You’ll just need a few of those stopper/pourer tops — cheap at any kitchen supply store. The dark bottles are great for protecting oils, which react to light.
 
4. You can make your own glass cups by removing the label, washing the bottle well, and then cutting the tops off. Of course you’ll need a proper bottle-cutting kit, but those aren’t hard to find and they come with everything you need for a clean cut and a smooth edge. This would make a great gift for the holidays, especially in matching sets of 2 or 4.
 
beer bottle votive holders5. In the same style as above, you can cut off the tops of beer bottles to make lovely little votive candle holders. Experiment with different shapes and sizes of bottle bottom. And of course, you could totally decorate them with funky decoupage, glitter or rhinestones.
 
6. If candle holders aren’t your bag, how about a beer bottle oil lamp? These can be as simple or as decorative as you wish.
 
7. Fitted with a small feeder spigot, an upside-down beer bottle full of nectar will serve as a free hummingbird feeder. This would make a fun project for the younger family members. Hang it outside their bedroom window!
 
8. Beer bottles make beautiful garden borders, for a “found art” DIY feel. Just fill them with dirt and bury them upside down, with no more than 4-5 inches sticking up above the ground. Use this technique to line paths, enclose garden beds, or encircle your front yard. Using many different colored bottles add to the earthy, mosaic-glass effect. This technique is used by urban landscapers in Portland and across the American West.
 
9. Speaking of mosaic, don’t let that lovely glass go to waste! You can create beautiful homemade mosaics, for stepping stones, bird baths, garden boulders, or even an interior backsplash. Mosaic tutorials are a dime a dozen, so just Google around a bit. Then talk to a local tile contractor to find out what you'll need to install your beer bottle mosaic.
 
10. And finally make a bottle tree. Not only is it a fantastic form of garden art, but southerners swear it will keep the bad juju away!
 
What do you do with your old beer bottles? Let us know in the comments!

10 creative uses for empty beer bottles

Sure, you could recycle your bottles, but why not get crafty and use them for things like candle holders and garden borders?

By Networx.comThu, Nov 08 2012 at 1:32 PM ES
beer bottles Photo: skaljac/Shutterstock
I certainly don’t live in a frat house, but somehow I still find myself with an abundance of beer bottles. Maybe you do too? Barbecue, game day, celebration ... beer is a part of popular culture and most parties include the brew. So aside from recycling — which you’re already doing anyway, right? — have you ever considered what you could do with those leftover bottles (and also, how to use leftover beer around the house)? Well I did, and what follows are the best ideas I rounded up. (Also, I hope it goes without saying, these ideas would work just as well for any glass bottle — pop, juice, water or whatever.)
 
bottles used as flower vases1. Remove the label to make an instant, easy vase. And you may be thinking, “Booooooring!”, but before you dismiss the idea, just imagine this: A long, rustic wooden table scattered with dozens of green glass bottles, each one holding just a few white flowers. Pretty elegant right? Or, how about a dozen clear bottles hanging from wire, suspended in trees, with a big beautiful bloom in each one. Perfectly whimsical for a homespun garden party, no?
 
2. Remove the label to make an instant, easy candle holder. Just the same as above, this concept goes from “dorm” to “decadent” by keeping just a few things in mind: 1) Large groupings add a dramatic effect. Try covering a table, mantle, or hearth. 2) Choose colors and shapes that tell a story. All the same color or a slapdash mix? Tall clear bottles or squat little brown ones? Each choice will evoke a different feeling. 3) Try styling in unexpected ways, such as the suspended vases mentioned above.
 
3. Remove the label and wash the bottle well, then use it to store or serve your kitchen liquids, like oils, vinegars, or even dish soap or hand soap. You’ll just need a few of those stopper/pourer tops — cheap at any kitchen supply store. The dark bottles are great for protecting oils, which react to light.
 
4. You can make your own glass cups by removing the label, washing the bottle well, and then cutting the tops off. Of course you’ll need a proper bottle-cutting kit, but those aren’t hard to find and they come with everything you need for a clean cut and a smooth edge. This would make a great gift for the holidays, especially in matching sets of 2 or 4.
 
beer bottle votive holders5. In the same style as above, you can cut off the tops of beer bottles to make lovely little votive candle holders. Experiment with different shapes and sizes of bottle bottom. And of course, you could totally decorate them with funky decoupage, glitter or rhinestones.
 
6. If candle holders aren’t your bag, how about a beer bottle oil lamp? These can be as simple or as decorative as you wish.
 
7. Fitted with a small feeder spigot, an upside-down beer bottle full of nectar will serve as a free hummingbird feeder. This would make a fun project for the younger family members. Hang it outside their bedroom window!
 
8. Beer bottles make beautiful garden borders, for a “found art” DIY feel. Just fill them with dirt and bury them upside down, with no more than 4-5 inches sticking up above the ground. Use this technique to line paths, enclose garden beds, or encircle your front yard. Using many different colored bottles add to the earthy, mosaic-glass effect. This technique is used by urban landscapers in Portland and across the American West.
 
9. Speaking of mosaic, don’t let that lovely glass go to waste! You can create beautiful homemade mosaics, for stepping stones, bird baths, garden boulders, or even an interior backsplash. Mosaic tutorials are a dime a dozen, so just Google around a bit. Then talk to a local tile contractor to find out what you'll need to install your beer bottle mosaic.
 
10. And finally make a bottle tree. Not only is it a fantastic form of garden art, but southerners swear it will keep the bad juju away

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