Recycling household items: the fan – is it really worth it?



Since metals were first molded and forged, there have been people that have collected the broken parts and pieces to salvage the metals within.  Since WWII engineers have been incorporating plastics into machines.  Three reasons for this are: a)to reduce the cost of manufacturing  b) reduce the shipping weight and c) ease and speed of manufacture.  With the increase of plastics into all forms of consumer life, the value of breaking machines into their base materials becomes a time consuming practice into fined tuned materials organization.

In looking at the common household fan, there are 4 basic composition of materials. Most upright and box fans have a mixture of plastic and pot metal in the base, fan casing and outer housing. These are fairly easy to separate and generally require nothing more than a simple Phillips screwdriver. The plastics are generally injection molded and may be stamped with recycling codes, but are not always. This is especially true fit the gears in the motor housing.

The motor of an standard household fan – made of copper and steel this should never go to a landfill.

Depending on manufacturer, the fan housing may be made of plastic, tin or zinc.  The same goes for fan blades which may be Plastic, Steele or Aluminum.  By removing the protective housing and blades we come to the main motor assembly.  This is where we’ll get our majority of metal parts as there are generally a dozen screws, 4 bolts and 4 nuts for those bolts.

The various parts can be separated into containers by type. In many areas of the world,recycling bin iron metals is not a revenue generating option. Causes may be a lack of access to materials collectors, as well as shipping or transportation costs. Unlike most cities in the United States, many island nations face daunting shipping costs and regulations that make low value iron blends, often referred to as pot metal, to expensive to gather and ship. Items like screw’s may be saved for use in other projects but own end up as waste when storage space is at a minimum. Business like e waste recycling will have different methodologies for these items.  One key is that separated items with can add significant metal weight when collected in bulk. This is also true for the metal housing, and the permanent magnet. The real bread and butter piece you will see is the copper from the motor itself and the electrical wires.

When it comes to metals, non ferrous materials are the most important within this unit. Individually, one fan will contain about one lb of copper. The average price of clean copper is still above above$ 2.00 lb., down from $4.00 about five years ago.  One of the most important rules to remember is that the cleaner the metal, the greater the financial yield.  For most this will require getting out an electrical saw and in the case of our fan, cutting the motor core to separate the copper and plate steel.  Most DIY electronics recyclers will save up a quantity of several dozen motor assemblies before cutting the copper from the pressed steel core.  This will save time and energy by setting up task oriented jobs to be done concurrently.  This work will require an electronic saw, and a reciprocating saw is generally considered the best tool for this job.

The payout? It depends on the size of the fan.  For most people the answer is:  Maybe $1.00 in copper $0.02 in steel and $.001 in tin ( waste steel).  This of course depends on if you live somewhere that all of these metals are purchased.  If not, then the end result is a about $1.00 for your copper.  Stripping the wires will add no more than another $0.25 to the pile.

The problem for most of us is very simple – who wants to go through all that work?  In the end is it really worth it?  Most people would agree that they would never take the time to take apart their fan for recycling.  Most of us are content to just put it at the curb and forget about it.  However, the realities of life don’t work like this.  While many people don’t understand the intricacies of waste management, including the efforts of ‘garbage companies’ to reduce the quantities of human consumption finding their ways into burial sites (also known as landfills).   The mental thought processes regarding our waste streams must continue, as must our dialogue.  Every time we make a consumption decision, there is a long term impact on our planet.   For more reading enjoy this article by Waste Drive on why “Zero Waste” isn’t everything people think it is.

Time consuming or not, every time I see a piece of electronics in the waste,  I think about this village in Chili who’s water was poisoned by mining operations.  Then I have no doubt that every piece of metal, every piece of copper – it needs to be recycled regardless of the time that is consumed in disassembling it.

The Ocean Cleanup (Project)- Why are so many scientists skeptical?


Plastic pollution can be found on beaches globally.

Three years ago, I began writing and sharing about the problems of plastic pollution in our planets waterways.  Personally, I first heard about the problems of plastic in our ocean as part of a Biology class at my community college. The Midway Atoll – an example of Plastic’s Destructive Power was inspired by the information I began studying.  As I was in the process of continuing my education, I focused my studies on Environmental Science,Waste Management, Water and the processes of laws and environmental protection.  Additionally I began utilizing Social Media like Facebook and Twitter to begin watching the active efforts of those in the field.  These activists have stood united in several areas.  The first area is that consuming less plastic means less plastic waste.  The second is that capture at consumption points is the key to eliminating the growth of plastic in the ocean.  Then a few years ago, comes this Ted Talk and the resulting Clean Oceans Project – convincing many people that we have a solution to the problem of ocean plastics.

This prototype image uses a small station to collect captured surface plastic but will not capture sub surface plastics (Image: The Ocean Cleanup)

What I found out through these efforts to network with activists and scientists in the field, as well as through my own cleanup efforts is that there is not one single solution but a bounty of solutions that combined will make a global effort more realistic.  The needs to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle are laid out in this order for a reason.

In my adventures I have been able to meet fantastic people like Marcus Erickson of 5 Gyres and Stiv Wilson, now of The Story of Stuff .  Additionally, I follow many scientist’s work online.  In conjunction to my readings, I took to the field, leading a student group which I was president of my senior year partnered with Denver Park District to begin student led efforts to mitigate plastic and other forms of human consumption from our local waterway in downtown Denver, Colorado.  This last year they participated in a local contest to attempt to design ways to mitigate trash from the water.

These efforts have led me to learn a few things.  The first is that humans are messy destructive forces on nature.  Our consumption practices have deteriorated with time and the impact is everywhere.  Fortunately we have 1000’s of community groups fighting the problem.  Awareness campaigns like those held by 5 Gyres, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Activist Abby , Earth Guardians, and more show the simple fact that plastic pollution is everywhere.  Education and active practices with others in our community are the keys to eliminating wasteful habits that wreak havoc on our planet.

Defending Our Oceans Tour - Hawaii Trash (Hawaii: 2006)

Photo of a Greenpeace cleanup


I want to talk about  The Ocean Cleanup project.  Somewhere over the last 4 years as I began my campaign to do my part to educate about and eliminate wasteful plastic consumption this young man from Greece, Boyan Slat who in 2012 had a TedX talk that went viral.  After this effort, dozens of my friends sent me links to his work.  Some even made reference that this guy has solved the problem and my own little efforts are no longer necessary.  But lets not move on that belief to fast.  Fast forward 4 years, this month – a prototype of Boyan’s concept to clean plastics directly out of the ocean is being deployed.  Four years of recruiting, press, research and development have occurred.  According to the website, over 40 people have joined this team.  In terms of effort I say good for them, some people doing some good for the world.

Unfortunately, this is the part where truth begins to take an important role over fiction.  From the beginning, many people have asked questions.  Key scientific experts have offered their assistance, technical know how and experience.  For the average reader, much of this may be to technical so I’ll try to keep it simple.   Many groups are saying that their technical and scientific commentary has been ignored or rejected.  Whats worse is that the common person often perceives that this project, still in development mind you, means that the problem is solved and personal behavior practices don’t matter.

Why are there problems with cleaning garbage in the middle of the ocean, I mean isn’t cleaning trash a big deal?  Yes it’s a big deal, and eliminating pollution in the first place is one of the key aspects to a cleanup as noted in this 2013 blog.  Regardless of how much you pick up, humans keep making more.  This is the primary argument of both cleanup and sustainable living entities.  One of the biggest answers is LIFE.  There are 1000’s of forms of life that exist in the ocean and any time you build a new structure, it impacts the local lifeforms.  Impacts such as attracting new ‘life zones’, leaching of chemicals from introduced manufactured goods and localized collection.  But wait for it there’s more.

The key thing to understand is that only a portion of plastic floats.  Many plastics, as they break down due to photo-degradation, combined with surface layering of contaminants – can cause plastic to sink into various depths.  In all recent photos of the new prototype including video from the groups website, floating plastic is used.  However, this important PDF from Precious Plastic (Floating properties plastic ) we see that only 1/2 of plastics actually float!  So the key concept of this device to remove plastic from the ocean is starting out with a 50% loss ratio right off the bat!

There are many scientist and environmental groups who have tried to offer additional input on the project- as outside sources with no bias.  According to many, this outreach has been ignored and the concerns passed over when relating the project to the general public.  One of the biggest concerns for many is that this idea of cleaning plastic from the ocean ignores both the need to reduce consumption and the impacts of plastic particles like those consumed by aquatic life and found in the bellies of many animals.

Understand that the ocean is a huge place, 70% of our planet is ocean.  Utilizing the ocean currents to collect trash is a cool idea.  But if you’re in the middle of the ocean constructing a foreign structure, there are other logical items to consider, like visibility and location.  While the Oceans Cleanup project seems to be targeting location, unfortunately, according to this picture – visibility wasn’t as important of an idea.

Image from The Ocean Cleanup Media Department

Oil Spill booms with logo printed on them are being utilized in a trial setup.   Again note – these will only collect surface plastics.

The most important aspect of cleaning ocean plastics are preventing them from getting there in the first place.  By refusing to consume single use plastics, or not purchasing them in the first place, we all can have a direct impact on the amount of plastic in the ocean. Recycling and up cycling are the second part of the solution.  Supporting enhanced manufactures responsibilities like deposit programs and bottle bills helps ensure that the manufacturing loop is closed.  This type of deposit should apply to everything from beverage containers to televisions and automobiles.   Other ways you can reduce pollution are saying no to plastic straws, carrying your own beverage containers – even filling up at a soda fountain instead of taking the to-go container, and always carrying your own shopping bag(s) when you leave the house.

If you find that the amount of pollution on the ground and in the water in your neighborhood is a problem, you can always start your own community clean up group.  There are some excellent tips found here.

Partial list of Sources / Further reading:

Three facts (and a lot of questions) about The Ocean Cleanup


Employees Describe Slipping Into Homelessness While Working at REI

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Is this the response to $15.00 an hour minimum wage and mandatory medical benefits for employees? Maybe one sign of a coming trend. Unfortunately, this comes from a company I love the most, for what I believed to be supportive of values I hold near and dear.

South Seattle Emerald

by Kelsey Hamlin

(Updated 7/14/16 12:21am)

REI is known as a place of good-heartedness and quality, so it might come as a shock to hear that many of its employees are either on food stamps, working multiple jobs, or both.

When it comes down to it, REI may have bucked their principles as a co-op for a large corporate trend: Expansion at the expense of its workers — the co-op itself is creating a $2.3 billion campus in Bellevue, according the Puget Sound Business Journal. This came to light at a public forum for REI workplace rights yesterday evening, hosted by Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant. In an email to the Emerald, a representative for REI  said the company has not disclosed how much the campus will cost, but that the amount will not be in the billions.

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The Roberts-Stabenow Dark Act – an effort to hide clarity in food labeling

July 1st has come and gone, and the specifics of this date are extremely important for food labeling activists around the united states.  Specifically, this date has induced the first national Genetic Engineering Labeling Law in the United States.  This law is plan and simple, and it requires companies to put in plain English if the food product within the packaging has ingredients that use Genetic Engineering.   Much more can be read at Vermont’s Right to Know GMO site.

Like California laws regulating emissions and toxicity of fibers or chemicals that can cause cancer,  Vermont’s Label law is significant in a federal way.  The specific reason is that it fills gaps in regulations and laws that congress has not preempted or superseded.  However, on the heels of this victory – there is trouble brewing in the air.  This trouble is the “Roberts-Stabenow ‘Dark Act'”.  What is this act, why is congress so intent on making their own regulations and what could happen if they don’t make their own food labeling laws – are the 3 things I want to look at today.

To begin with, the Roberts-Stabenow act is a food labeling act attempted to be implemented by congress.  This would be the first labeling of Genetically Engineered foods at this level.  Currently there are no existing regulations on this type of food product at the national level.  There are roughly 50 state led efforts of varying degree.  The most successful of these is the Vermont law, which went into effect on July 1, 2016.  This law, simply put, requires all companies to put a simple statement if any of the ingredients are genetically engineered.

In the Federal system that we Americans live under, there are essentially 50 plus governments that create a standard of rules for the entire federal system.  This is because each state has sovereignty within it’s own borders.  Due to this sovereignty, there are existing situations where, either for the methods of prosecution or based on the will or need for safety of the people, individualized regulations have been created.  Such laws such as Cannabis regulation are an example of such sovereignty.  Truth in Food Labeling is another.  While states have rights to create their own regulations within their borders, these can not be in direct negation or conflict with the federal regulations.  States can for example, enhance requirements on air pollution locally that are stronger than say – EPA regulations.

This is especially true where Federal regulations have not set up regulations in their place.  When a state does come up with regulations that are more stringent or fill gaps that congress has not, it is possible for the states to step in and fill the role on a localized or even national level.    Have you ever seen on games shows like The Price is Right or Wheel of Fortune where they give away cars and the announcer says “this automobile meets or exceeds California Emissions Standards”?  As we can see in this New York State Government Website, California Emissions Standards are being adopted by multiple states around the nation as they were more stringent that those enacted by the federal government.  In order to sell their cars to the largest single US market, manufacturers had to meet the California Standards.  Instead of making separate autos for the rest of the states, these standards have become part of national automobile sales by default.

Why is this important?  According to the American Jurisprudence 2d – Constitutional Law ( available at most libraries by signing in through their web systems):

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Pollution in American Samoa, a look at the Nu’uuli Mangroves

Recently I had the opportunity to sit in on a planning meeting between the Environmental Protection Agency of American Samoa, Department of Marine Wildlife and the American Samoa Power Authority.  This meeting was to discuss the implementation and roll-out of a new mitigation program that would include data collection to help assist in evaluating the types and sources of pollution on the coastlines of American Samoa.  Within 3 weeks, I found this article written in the local newspaper, the American Samoa News about a group of roughly 25 individuals who collected 160 bags of waste during a cleanup of the Pala Lagoon on the opposite side of the Nu’uuli Mangroves.


A picturesque scene from the Nu’uuli mangroves.  Unfortunately, everything isn’t a beautiful as it seems.

With this in mind, I accepted an invite to take a short tour of a section of the Mangroves, a section that stretches out into the Lagoon and is one of the areas proposed to be mitigated by the EPA.  What we found was heartbreaking.


A look inland shows large swaths of pollution across the mangroves and inland island.

As I toured the mangroves, I had a conversation with Dennis Ahoia, a local business owner and family member tied to one of the pieces of land designated as part of the Nu’uuli Mangroves.   This part of the island is uninhabited, yet the area is full of rubbish, and most of it is fairly new. After a short boat ride across the bay, Dennis lead me through the mangroves, most of which are completely undeveloped.  He showed me sections where decades ago, walls and foundations were buried from when families used to live here.

As he used his machete to clear a pathway he explained to me his families involvement in cleaning up a portion of the land.  His astonishment at the quantity of pollution was evident.  “Several years ago we were cleaning up a portion of this land, and a small fire spread across the mangroves, it burned for several days and while it was unfortunate, it burned all the trash.  So all of this, all of this is new.”


Styrofoam food containers, single use beverage containers and other signs of human consumption are mixed with natural organic plant material at the  Mangroves shoreline.

What amazed me the most is that there are significant barriers at the waters edge that should in theory capture and limit the spread of rubbish in this area.  Large portions of debris can be found up to 50 feet inland from the shoreline.  According to Ahoia, much of this pollution comes directly from the Village of Nu’uuli and the multiple streams that discharge into the bay. His disheartened amazement at the quantities of pollution is evident throughout our entire walk.  “Where does all this come from?”, he asks shaking his head.  “People don’t take care of their garbage and it ends up here.”  It appears that this debris then floats with the currents until it comes to the shoreline where wind and varying tides carry it inland.


Nu’uuli Mangroves – 10 -30 feet inland, you can see the waterline

Managing this pollution is a multi step process that begins with personal responsibility.  Putting trash in its place and not littering are the first solutions to preventing this type of pollution to occur.  Secondary measures are to avoid purchasing items that are common pollutants like Styrofoam take out containers.  Requesting your local business purchase environmentally responsible packaging and traveling with personal beverage containers are additional measures to preventing the problem.

Additionally,  active mitigation – or cleaning up these type of areas is also important.  Forming a group of friends and family members, faith based community, or other group that gathers regularly is a great way to make an impact on pollution in your local area.  By taking people out to clean up existing trash, we spread awareness and educate people about the impact litter makes.  This blog on tips to running a successful community cleanup can be a great place to start you on starting your own cleanup group.   If you are interested in helping clean up American Samoa please contact the EPA  by email  or call them directly at 684.633.2304


Man ignites Molotov cocktails against a Monsanto factory, in support of Puerto Rico’s independence

Book - 12-10

There are some things in this world you will not hear about over mainstream media. The fight against world domination by Corporations, including the takeover of the food supply by use of Genetic Engineering is one of them. Notice how this incident is being taken over by the FBI and not local police?


Book - 12-10

A 36-year old man has attacked a Monsanto subsidiary in Salinas, PR with Molotov cocktails.

He carried a hand-lettered bed sheet, which read: “Rise up, Boricua. The moment to defend our country has arrived. Viva P.R. Libre.” Here is a video report…—Puerto-Rico-383524071.html

The Monsanto subsidiary is named Dupont Pioneer. The Molotov assailant, Noel D. Cruz Torres, was arrested by police and FBI agents on Saturday, June 18, 2016.

The FBI, not the local police, assumed jurisdiction over the investigation.


On the island, in the press, and over the internet, many potential causes for the Molotov attack are already being discussed.

Most frequently mentioned are the economic crisis in Puerto Rico, and the PROMESA bill which may install a Washington-based Financial Control Board over the entire island.

Both major candidates for governor in Puerto Rico oppose the PROMESA bill, and said they’ll work to…

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Dropping Some Truth

I feel the need to drop a little truth on y’all. So buckle up…I’m about to be politically incorrect. We don’t need to take America back. No one stole it. It’s right he…

Source: Dropping Some Truth

Pressers note:
This amazing blog has spread in popularity so much that it became a Huff Post article.  As a blogger I appreciate the idea of spreading amazing blogs on the WordPress Forum because many bloggers wake up and check their stats on a daily basis to see how far their message or rants are going, and where people are in this world that read them.  I admit that I am one of those people.  Because of that, and the fact that this blog post rocks, I felt the need to ‘press’ it.  Hope you enjoy!

How to make Coco Samoa – fresh hot chocolate from tree to cup

There are many wonderful things to be learned when you live on this planet.  As a farm to table person, cooking and preparing fresh foods and beverages is one of them.  Today we are going to look at a drink common to the Samoan Islands, Coco Samoa.  In this easy 7 step process you will learn how to make this delicious beverage.

First you need some coca fruit.  Ripe fruit is red or orange in color.  These are picked from a tree.  The part of the fruit we will be using are the seeds.


Fresh and ripe Coco fruit, split open to access the seeds.

2) After scooping the seeds out of the fruit you can enjoy the milky coating of the seeds by sucking on them and then spitting the seeds out into a bowl.  This is the traditional way of preparing them.  This is a tasty step, but it is optional.


Separate the seeds from the fruit.

3) After you have separated your seeds from the fruit and any internal membrane.  You may rinse them.  This step is also optional and most likely only used if you have sucked on the seeds themselves.  This is not a traditional step in the process.


Clean off the stems, rinsing is optional

4) Place your seeds on a baking tray or in a pan for toasting.  We use a gas flame and a pan to brown them.  Seeds are ready when the hulls have turned solid.  For a bolder, more coffee like flavor, you can burn the husks.  This step will require your pan to be cleaned so make sure you use an old pan that you don’t mind boiling off for cleaning.  Teflon or other similar surface is not recommended.


Roast seeds until the skins are hardened and blackened.

5) After seeds are roasted to a hard outside coat, let them cool for several minutes and then husk the shells, separating the beans.  These beans should be a nice dark brown color.  Beans that have been blackened will have a more robust, coffee like flavor.


Roasted beans will be separated from the husks.  Burnt beans like these will have a more coffee like flavor than chocolate.

6) The next step is to grind the beans.  Using a coffee grinder or other food processing machine makes quick and easy work of this step.


Ground coco can be brewed in a variety of ways to make a tasty drink.

7) After your beans are sufficiently ground you can brew them in a variety of ways.  Adding them to boiling water, using a french press or simply putting the grounds in a cup and adding hot water.  Add sugar to taste and enjoy!


Diabetes and High Blood Pressure from drinking bottled water?



Plastic pollution is a big deal.  Our oceans, green spaces and city streets are full of it.  Beaches around the world find plastics upon their shore, including ones where no humans live.  There are hundreds, if not thousands of species who are directly impacted by plastic in their diets on a daily basis.  Ironically, humans are one of those species.

If you are like most people you have heard of  bisphenol A  most commonly called BPA.   .  Many people know it’s bad but they don’t understand exactly how and they make efforts to shop for plastics that are BPA free.  That’s a good thing, but not all plastics are labeled effectively and BPA isn’t just found in plastic.  It’s also found in the lining of Aluminum cans and many major water supplies throughout the United States.

Fighting effective labeling of products is something corporations have been doing for decades.  One primary example of this is the cigarette industry.  While there has been a change over the last 100 years from Doctors and Actors actively supporting this “healthy habit” to education and understanding of the toxicity of manufactured nicotine to labels stating that cigarettes can cause cancer, birth deformities and more.

cigarettes are good

This is no different in today’s manufacturing industries.  According to the International Bottled Water Association, a conglomerate of corporations who profit from the privatization of water; BPA is a safe chemical for adults to consume.  They even provide links to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) papers and website while painting a rosy picture of the chemical, which has been regulated out of packaging and uses for infants while being allowed in the adult human supply chain.

Why is this an issue, consuming BPA?  According to a report in Reuters, researchers, “using government health data, they found that the 25 percent of people with the highest levels of bisphenol A in their bodies were more than twice as likely to have heart disease and, or diabetes compared to the 25 percent of with the lowest levels.”  One study that links it to diabetes also indicates; “People ingest BPA that leaches from containers into foods and drinks. Studies in the United States showed that BPA appeared in the blood and urine of 95% of people tested.”

In a 2016 study, researchers found,”The present study showed that BPA could lead to chromosomal aberrations in both ER-dependent and independent pathways at some concentrations or in cell types yet not reported. Also, BPA could probably be considered as a facilitator for some predisposed cells to be cancerous by raising the chromosome instability levels. Finally, estrogen receptor seems to have a different role in cytotoxicity and genotoxicity effects”

Plastics have a history of being this great invention that has turned out to have many negative effects.  Pollution litters our planet and we now know it pollutes our body.  What is can be found as astonishing is that it takes very little plastic in your life to be put at risk for health issues.  One of the major carriers of “sick plastic” is water and soda bottles.  It’s a hot day and you want a cold beverage, so you stop in to a convenience store and grab a plastic bottle of water or some carbonated beverage.  After a few swigs and a few miles down the road, you head into a business for work, shopping or other reason.  But its a sunny day and that beverage you purchased in warming up, and so is the plastic that it comes in.  Maybe you drink some more when you get back in your car, maybe you put it in the fridge and drink it when it gets cold again – either way, you could be consuming toxic chemicals that have leached out of the bottle and into your drink.  No harm in that right?  Wrong.

Researchers indicate that, “Rate of growth and sexual maturation, hormone levels in blood, reproductive organ function, fertility, immune function, enzyme activity, brain structure, brain chemistry, and behavior are all affected by exposure to low doses of BPA. Many of these effects are due to exposure during early development (gestation and/or lactation), but effects due to postweaning-through-adult exposure have also been reported.”

This means that drinking plastic beverages can increase the age of puberty, impact the function of your brain, impact one’s fertility and more.  While these factors are scary, many people would believe that the solution is to avoid drinking these beverages after they have become warm.  While this is a nice idea, the truth is that many of these chemical impacts can occur to the beverage before we purchase them. Most of the shipping containers and semis hauling these manufactured goods from the factory to local distributors do not use cooling units, so the risk of exposure begins at the initial transport to market.

The same study also indicates one unfortunate fact – the government and businesses that use BPA don’t research it’s impacts.  From the same medical report we see this chart showing the lack of studies by corporations and government entities on the impacts of BPA.

Government /Corporate Studies on BPA

Biased outcome due to source of funding in low-dose in vivo BPA research as of December 2004.

All studies

CD-SD rat studies

All studies except CD-SD rats

Source of funding Harm No harm Harm No harm Harm No harm
Government 94 (90.4) 10 (9.6) 0 (0%) 6 (100) 94 (96) 4 (4)
Chemical corporations 0 (0) 11 (100) 0 (0%) 3 (100) 0 (0) 8 (100)

Values shown are no. (%).  (  To back up this stance, one simply needs to look at the Coca Cola FAQ page.

What’s the solution?  There are two basic solutions to avoiding BPA in your life.  Avoid single use plastics like water and soda bottles.  In addition to protecting yourself, you will have a positive impact on the world around you.  To travel with beverages on a regular basis, purchase a Stainless Steele insulated beverage container.  Insulated containers last a lifetime and help keep your beverages cold for long periods of time.  This will eliminate any concerns about being forced to warm beverages on a hot day.  Also, you can take your insulated container and purchase fountain soda from many chain and convenience stores.

While direct links establishing the permanence of impacts from BPA in our bodies are needed, it’s clear that corporations will not notify us the general public when they provide chemicals in our environment that have negative effects on the human body.  While Diabetes and Heart Disease are just the tip of the iceberg in the potential for permanent damage to our bodies, issues like breast cancer and advanced puberty onset are known.  For these reasons alone it’s best to eliminate single use plastic water bottles from your diet, but not fresh clean water.   For more information on types of plastics and the ways they pollute our body, check out page 2 of this printable PDF from the Ecology Center in Berkley, CA.


  1. Aghajanpour-Mir S M, Zabihi E, Keyhani E, Akhavan-Niaki H, Bagherizadeh I, Biglari S et al . The Genotoxic and Cytotoxic Effects of Bisphenol-A (BPA) in MCF-7 Cell Line and Amniocytes. Int J Mol Cell Med. 2016; 5 (1) :19-29
  2. Vom Saal, Frederick S., and Claude Hughes. “An Extensive New Literature Concerning Low-Dose Effects of Bisphenol A Shows the Need for a New Risk Assessment.” Environmental Health Perspectives 113.8 (2005): 926–933. PMC. Web. 13 June 2016
  3. Washam, Cynthia. “Exploring the Roots of Diabetes: Bisphenol A May Promote Insulin Resistance.” Environmental Health Perspectives 114.1 (2006): A48–A49. Print.

Some tips to running a successful community litter cleanup



finding things in the water

Students from the Auraria Campus in Denver, Colorado having fun cleaning the Cherry Creek in Downtown Denver as part of 2015 Earth Week Activities.(

Participating in a community based litter clean up group has many great benefits.  In addition to making an impact on the visible trash in the environment; cleanups are great ways to enjoy some sunshine, teach your children about littering, and to make or strengthen friendships.  If you aren’t already participating in a community cleanup, they are easy to start and a great way to meet new people or build upon the relationships between those in community organizations you are already involved in.  Here are some tips to making  your own community clean up teams experience a successful one that will last for years to come.


When it comes to the issues of pollution, there are already a wide number of agencies in your community who are fighting the problem and they are just waiting for you to reach out and contact them.  The first place you contact will probably be the only one you have to reach out to.  Start with your towns park district office or other natural spaces office.  These government entities are dependent on volunteers to assist with many community tasks like maintaining parks, bike paths and trails.  Without the hundreds of thousands of hours volunteers give annually across the country, guests and frequent users would find these areas in a significantly different condition.  One added bonus of working with these groups is that there are often volunteer appreciation events on an annual basis or other perks like passes into zoo’s or museums based on the number of volunteer hours.  More importantly, your local park district is likely to have the materials you will need to organize a monthly cleaning event, thing like garbage bags and trash grabbers, to be used free of charge.  Many organized administrators may also have their district mapped out by area so that no one group is cleaning an area that was just cleaned the day before by a different group.  They will also likely send paid staff out to collect the bags of debris collected so that your efforts are not wasted by animals opening bags searching for food.  Many agencies will also ask for a total of hours volunteered for statistical purposes.


Small quantities of litter have become a big problem all over the world.


When it comes to planning a clean up, being organized is very important.  If partnering with an agency like the EPA, they may have scientific data to be gathered to assist in their continuing efforts to identify areas which need greater oversight and assistance.  Such scientific data often includes specifics like, how many aluminum cans, cigarette butts or plastic particles of debris were collected.  Plan on separating the debris by recyclable and non recyclable materials. Also make sure your partner organization knows when you are having your clean up so that they can come and remove the debris that is collected. Having a plan in advance of a team gathering will be especially important.  Identifying how many persons will be needed and their roles can help in recruiting to ensure that there are plenty of people to make the work load light.  Additionally, individuals who may not be able to physically bend and pick up human debris may be encouraged to come if they understand that there are different roles like data collection or event photographer to be filled.  Photographing your cleanups is always a great way to share the wonderful work your group is doing and at some annual volunteer gatherings photos of groups in action may be shared before or during the thank you ceremonies.

Other areas of organization should include – verifying the location, having adequate gloves, waste bags and garbage grabbers for those who will need them; having a map of the area to be cleaned and setting time limits.  If your group is going for monthly cleanups, setting a limit – generally 2 hours – will encourage repeat volunteers.  It can be easy to focus on the total amount of waste in an area, by setting time limits you help minimize the risk of burnout.  By sticking to your planned area and knowing that your group has done it’s part a sense of pride will be felt by all.  If there is more than your group can manage within it’s set time, there is always the opportunity to invite friends join in and cover more ground at future events.  It is also important to remember to provide an option for post clean up fraternization.  Finding a monthly community event like an art walk, or grabbing refreshments at a local favorite provides time for both talking about the action ( cleanup ) and strengthening bonds between participants.  This will be a reinforcement that builds repeat volunteers and often encourages them to bring a friend next time.

Social Media

Besides likes and loves of photographs, social media can be a powerful tool in many ways.  Social media allows for volunteers to find and share pictures of their wonderful experience so that friends and family will consider both the act of cleaning up after others and thinking twice about littering in the first place.  Additionally, tech savvy volunteers will not only register for clean ups, but they can also take advantage of such features such as sharing and saving the event in their personal calendars so that they get a reminder on the day of that they have something important to do like help protect the planet they love so much!  Making a page for your group can also be a fun way to stay in touch about the global issue and solutions others are creating to fight the problem.  Make sure one of your volunteers is dedicated to catching people in the act of cleaning up, as well as taking photographs of the total amount of waste being collected.  Group photo’s are also an important way to show how much effort goes into keeping protecting the nature we love.  In time you may be able to use your groups photos to generate business support such as free or discounted food at your local gathering place or to ensure important grant funding for agencies like your park district who need it very much or placing infrastructure like recycling bins where they can do the most good.

I hope these three tips will be helpful in getting your group started in this important community responsibility, taking care of the world around us!  Pride in picking up is a great way to build community, get some exercise and make a difference in the world around you.

You can learn more about the need to clean plastic and other trash from these great websites: