Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful, Reno, NV

Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful (KTMB) staff is so excited to be involved with the University of Nevada, Reno’s Summer of Sustainability, put on by the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center and Office of Undergraduate and Interdisciplinary Research: Academy for the Environment.

The summer activities center around Reused + Recycled = Art, an incredible show of recycled art from community artists — including some incredibly talented high school and college students — and anchored by plastic-debris art from nationally known ocean researcher Bonnie Monteleone of the Plastic Ocean Project.

Wherever Bonnie takes her art, she tries to do a cleanup in the area, and that’s where KTMB came in! UNR students and staff joined Bonnie at Rock Park in Sparks, NV, on June 12 to kick off the Summer of Sustainability activities with a river and park cleanup. Because Rock Park was heavily used over the Fourth of July weekend, Reused Recycled Art volunteers’ work was much appreciated. We also cleared weeds, spread mulch and our volunteers spread out along the river to clean up Gateway Park as well.

And we got a special surprise: About a week before the Summer of Sustainability cleanup, Corina from KIND Healthy Grains emailed to say she noticed we were having a cleanup and, since she’d be in the area, could she bring us some bars for our volunteers? WOW! The volunteers loved the bars (and Deanna’s watermelon, yum!), and we gathered up about 45 bags of micro-trash (the “big” item of the day was drink-box straw wrappers — hang on to those, people!) and weeds from Rock Park.

Reused + Recycled = Art officially opened on July 13. It’s an amazing show for adults and kids alike. From high-fashion wearable art to huge cardboard dinosaurs, this show has something for everyone and is a truly fascinating look at what we can do with “trash.” Videos about the art and trash, including Incline High School’s Plastic Footprint (included in the show) and KTMB’s Waste Warriors video, are included.

The show opened with an amazing presentation by Bonnie Monteleone, detailing her travels around the world and what she’s found in the oceans she’s studied — in a word: plastic. Bonnie gave the audience many reasons to care about the problem of all this plastic in the ocean, but also careful to give us many everyday ways to mitigate the problem and much hope for the future if we act now.

More activities are planned throughout the summer, and the art show will be on display until the end of September.

National Pollinator Week 2013

It seems more common than ever that we are hearing stories of how the honeybee populations, as well as other pollinators, are losing ground to many different diseases, habitat loss and pesticides. Keep America Beautiful , our affiliate network  and partners are working in several ways to help these affected populations through some of our programs (i.e. National Planting Day) and educational materials.

The predominant theory offered by the EPA and experts from the global scientific community is that the declining health of honeybees is related to interactions among multiple stressors, including scarce food sources, diseases, habitat loss and bee management practices, as well as pesticides. Relative to the potential role of pesticides in pollinator health declines, the science is still progressing as we become more educated about what changes, if any, may be operative. Visit epa.gov to read more about this and other important pollinator information.

In Cartersville, Ga., Adairsville High School (AHS) has built a five-acre outdoor classroom and works with a beekeeper who houses several hives in a fenced in area of the garden.  Multiple partners, including Keep Bartow Beautiful, are collaborating with AHS to ensure the success and sustainability of the area.  The classroom, which is located behind the local high school, was built by the environmental science, construction, and the special education classes for use by BartowCounty school students grades K-12.  It contains an outdoor amphitheater, both raised bed and field planting areas and solar panels. It also contains a wind turbine that powers a well for pumping water to the garden and plant areas, as well as for operation of a simulated gold-panning operation, nature trails and bird-feeding stations.

The bee hive is a recent addition, and education programs are being developed.  The future expansion of this project will establish a honeybee colony to provide models for studies of pollination, genetics, and entomology.  The designated wildflower and flower garden areas will serve as excellent places for the pollinators to inhabit.

As National Pollinator Week comes to a close, let us keep in mind that not just bees, but bats, birds and ants are also critical to the pollinator population. Remember to protect these vital insects and animals.

*Photo provided by Keep Bartow Beautiful.

Recyclemania – Pacific Lutheran

Pacific Lutheran University: “Garbology” Waste Sort

A day of sorting through food scraps, tennis balls, candy wrappers, and other material paid off as passersby at Pacific Lutheran University stopped to comment on the mountain of “stuff” that could have been diverted from the waste stream. Some were so shocked that they questioned the results of the waste audit.

“It just proved that we needed an eye-opener,” said Chrissy Cooley, PLU’s sustainability coordinator, who is overseeing the Tacoma, Wash.’s university’s participation in RecycleMania, the national collegiate recycling competition that is administered by Keep America Beautiful.

PLU diverts more than 70 percent of its waste, and this event helped show the community that more can be done. A team effort by several campus groups, the biggest challenge was getting the word out in advance of the event. “It’s not so hard to dump a bunch of trash and sort it. It’s hard to let students know why we’re doing this,” said Cooley.

Thinking of organizing your own “Garbology?” Read about how Cooley and her team revamped PLU’s RecycleMania marketing plan and improved its waste diversion rate.