Baltimore's Mr. Trash Wheel

Baltimore’s Mr. Trash Wheel is keeping the river clean

A curious contraption has been keeping the river in Baltimore clean since 2014. Dubbed “Mr. Trash Wheel,” the machine is found in the city’s Inner Harbor, and it works just like a water wheel, using the current of the river to move and pick up trash from the water. The trash is then placed in a dumpster barge, which is replaced by a new one once it’s full. If the current isn’t strong enough, solar energy is used to power Mr. Trash Wheel.

Mr. Trash Wheel got a new colleague in December last year: Professor Trash Wheel, located at the end of Harris Creek.

Photo from the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore website.

Clean the World; soaps being prepared for recycling

Clean the World gives leftover hotel soap a new life

If you’ve ever wondered what happens to the soap that you didn’t fully use up and left behind in your hotel bathroom, you’re not alone. The same issue crossed the mind of Shawn Seipler, so while staying at a hotel, he decided to ask about the fate of leftover soap bars in hotel bathrooms and learned that they just get thrown away. Upon learning this, Shawn did his research and found that there was another way to save all that soap and keep them from being wasted: through rebatching, which involves melting down old soap and then reforming it into new soap.

And thus, Clean the World was born. The organization works with approximately 5,000 hotels, who pay them 50 cents per room to gather and recycle the leftover soap. The soap rebatching process is done in Clean the World’s plants in Orlando, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Montreal, and India, and the soaps are packed into hygiene kits that are then distributed throughout the world. Essentially, Clean the World’s goal is to help promote proper hygiene and the implementation of a sound sanitation program to help eliminate diseases caused by poor hygiene, effectively having a hand in saving lives.

While Clean the World doesn’t accept soap donations from individuals and small groups, anybody can participate in their efforts in different way. They welcome financial support to help them keep their recycling efforts going, and they also encourage people to undertake their own projects to create hygiene kits and donate them to shelters.

Learn more about their lifesaving work at the Clean the World website.

Image from CNN.

Tomato skins and eggshells can be used to make tires, researchers find

Food waste is a major problem throughout the world, and people need to keep coming up with ways to reduce it or use it. At the same time, petroleum use continues to grow and keeps people dependent on foreign sources of oil. Fortunately, Dr. Katrina Cornish, an Ohio Research Scholar and Endowed Chair in Biomaterials at Ohio State, may have hit upon a way to solve both problems: make tires using eggshells and tomato peels as filler. Tires are currently made with 30 percent carbon black, which makes the tires appear black and also has to be sourced overseas. Making tires out of locally available fillers and materials not only reduces petroleum use, but also reduces emissions associated with shipping the material to US tire manufacturers.

According to Cornish, “The tire industry is growing very quickly, and we don’t just need more natural rubber, we need more filler, too,” she explained. “The number of tires being produced worldwide is going up all the time, so countries are using all the carbon black they can make. There’s no longer a surplus, so we can’t just buy some from Russia to make up the difference like we used to.”

Her team has found that eggshells don’t break down in landfills, and commercial tomatoes have thick skins, which are often discarded when the tomatoes are used to make tomato sauce and the like. Their various properties help rubber become more flexible as well.

The tires produced with eggshells and tomato skins tend to have a reddish brown color, but her team is continuing to explore ways to make the tires appear black.

Farmer Meg McDougall

An eco-friendly surfboard made out of lemongrass is being developed

Surfboard manufacturers these days are trying to find ways to make surfboard more eco-friendly. One of the latest efforts is made by Gold Coast farmer Meg McDougall, who is developing surfboards made from lemongrass. She has been growing lemongrass for the past five years at Rocky Point, north of the Gold Coast, and has been making small surfboards first for testing. She chose lemongrass because it has a foam-like structure that floats when processed and is waterproof. She is teaming up with a company called Currumbin to develop a full-size prototype, which is set to come out soon.

Anne Hathaway in vintage 2006 Armani

Anne Hathaway goes vintage on the press tour for “Colossal”

Emma Watson put the spotlight on eco-friendly fashion labels while she was on the road promoting Beauty and the Beast. Now, Anne Hathaway is donning vintage pieces as she goes on tour to promote Colossal.

What makes this an eco-friendly effort? The fact that Anne is wearing older fashion pieces instead of having new clothes made for every event. Reusing really does look good!

Mango's Committed collection

Mango releases its eco-friendly “Committed” collection

High-street brand Mango is coming out with a fashion collection featuring clothes made with sustainable materials, such as organic cottons, Tencel, recycled polyester, and recycled cotton, and they’re dyed with environmentally friendly inks. The collection is for both men and women, and the clothes are manufactured in Portugal, Turkey and Morocco.

The Committed Collection is 100 percent sustainable, and Mango is working towards making the rest of its clothes eco-friendly as well; 44 percent of its collections are made with natural fibers. In addition, Mango is also taking steps to better identify and reduce its water consumption.

What the Health

Nothing beats a good food documentary to make you want to change your diet. Watching “What the Health” on Saturday night was very eye-opening and thought-provoking. Probably not a good idea to watch it while eating dinner though.
“What the Health” was directed by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, and produced by AUM Films and First Spark Media.

Directors Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn

What’s it about?

What the Health is the groundbreaking follow-up film from the creators of the award winning documentary Cowspiracy. The film follows intrepid filmmaker Kip Andersen as he uncovers the secret to preventing and even reversing chronic diseases – and investigates why the nation’s leading health organizations don’t want us to know about it. With heart disease and cancer the leading causes of death in America, and diabetes at an all-time high, the film reveals possibly the largest health cover-up of our time. With the help of medical doctors, researchers, and consumer advocates, What the Health exposes the collusion and corruption in government and big business that is costing us trillions of healthcare dollars, and keeping us sick.

Join Kip as he tracks down the leading and most trusted American health nonprofits to find out why these groups are staying silent, despite a growing body of evidence. Audiences will be shocked to learn the insidious roles played by pharmaceutical companies, agribusiness, and processed animal food companies in the nation’s health, especially in the most vulnerable communities, and will cheer at the transformation and recovery of those who took their lives into their own hands.

What the Health is a surprising, and at times hilarious, investigative documentary that will be an eye-opener for everyone concerned about our nation’s health and how big business influences it.

Obesity rates are skyrocketing. So many people are sick, taking numerous medications daily or undergoing expensive medical operations. What’s happening to the state of public health in the U.S.?

Available on DVD ($19.95) and online ($9.99), “What the Health” will make you rethink about what you consume on a day-to-day basis. “What the Health” successfully manages to connect seemingly disparate dots linking big businesses like pharmaceutical companies, agribusiness, and processed animal food companies to what’s happening. I kept shaking my head in disbelief and outrage while watching. It’s pretty repugnant when you think how profit keeps winning over public health. It’s so unfortunate that American consumers are thrown under the bus by the very institutions they trust.

Thankfully, the documentary presented a workable solution so hope is not lost.

Disclaimer: A representative for “What the Health” contacted me to watch this documentary online for free. All opinions are my own. This post also appeared in the blog SnapHappy Foodie.

Clean with pHur

Have you heard of pHur, an organic cleaning disinfecting agent?

Water + Salt + Science became pHur’s magic formula. And thanks to painstaking, multi-year testing, it was registered as a proven disinfectant with the EPA on both Federal and State levels.

It is already making a difference in the healthcare industry, replacing multiple toxic products used in hospitals with our alkaline cleaning water and natural disinfecting water.

pHur™ Cleaning and Disinfecting Water can be shipped to doorsteps every 30 days, and in select counties, a certified pHur technician can electrostatically disinfect entire households. Both options give consumers the option to live naturally and live clean.

It’s the first cleaning agent of its kind and perfect for Winter cleaning.

If you’re tired of using those cleaning products that are chockful of chemicals, then you should check out pHur.

The pHur System Kit ($30.95 as of this post) included:

  • 16 fl.oz. Disinfectant
  • 16 fl.oz. Cleaning Water
  • 2 fl.oz. ON-THE-GO Disinfectant
  • 1 Greenspeed Original Microfiber Cloth
  • 2 Sprayer Heads (not in the picture below).


What exactly are the ingredients in each bottle?

pHur Cleaning Water is high pH alkaline cleaning water without hazardous solvents, phosphates or ammonia. There are no added scents or colored dyes. It’s safe on hard and soft surfaces, leaving no residue. The active ingredient is Sodium Hydroxide. pHur Disinfectant’s active ingredient is Hypochlorous Acid. Both Cleaning Water and Disinfectant can’t be used with acids and hydrogen peroxide.

As someone who does a lot of cooking and baking, I used pHur to clean my kitchen countertop, which really gets plenty of action. Imagine my surprise when it worked and it worked well!

Despite its organic nature, there’s a warning in the back that it should be kept out of children’s reach. A reasonable warning, if you ask me, but I looked into that and found this on their website:

If pHur isn’t harmful, why does the label say CAUTION and carry the 10-minute dwell time? pHur™ Disinfecting Water has been registered with the EPA under traditional disinfecting standards. Although contradictory to pHur’s all natural makeup of water and salt and its kill-on-contact power, our label must place traditional warnings and directions on its bottle based on the EPA’s standards for toxic, chemically-laden products. pHur™ Disinfecting Water is THE FIRST disinfecting solution to kill bacteria physically rather than chemically. We’re in desparate need of a new category within the EPA, but until then, we’ll bear the burden of the old labels.

Packaging’s recyclable, so that’s a bonus. Unfortunately, you can’t buy it elsewhere because it has a short shelf life – 30 days. It doesn’t have any preservatives that will allow it to stay in shelves for a long time. According to their website, pHur™ products are currently sold exclusively through phurwater.com to those living in AZ, CA, CO, NV, OR, TX, WA. Here’s hoping it’ll be available in the Northeast soon!

Disclaimer: A representative for pHur contacted me to review their product. I received a sample in exchange for writing a review on the blog. All opinions are my own.