Tackling Wasteful Tailgating

It’s almost football time in Tennessee! That means grilling out, drinking lots of tasty beverages, and throwing a ton of waste away. 

Not to be a downer, but the waste associated with football games is pretty shocking. According to the University of Tennessee’s Office of Sustainability, the Vols and their fellow tailgaters and game-goers sent approximately 162 tons of waste to our landfills during the last football season. That’s three times as heavy as a Tyrannosaurus Rex.  

While we would never advocate for giving up on a long tradition of pre-gaming, we thought it was necessary to share some numbers and potential zero-waste solutions for a few of our favorite tailgating activities.

Grilling

Grilling out by our cars, in some parking lots, surrounded by fellow fans lends for a pretty positive experience. What we choose to grill on, however, has the potential to massively contribute to our carbon footprint.

While gas grills are the predominant grilling medium, over 50% of households are still continuing to use charcoal grills according to a 2016 study conducted by Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association (HPBA). Charcoal grills are pretty rough on our carbon levels, making them the lesser grilling option. Charcoal starts out as wood that is burned in an environment lacking oxygen. Without any oxygen, the wood can’t actually catch on fire and this creates what is basically just chunks of carbon. When we burn these chunks in our grills, we’re releasing all of that carbon back into the biosphere where it mixes with oxygen and creates carbon dioxide (CO2).

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What’s bad about carbon dioxide?

When CO2 is released into the environment, it begins to absorb heat that then warms our atmosphere. This heat can come from thermal infrared energy radiating from the ocean’s surface and the Earth’s land, or straight from the sun. CO2 is considered the most dangerous of the greenhouse gases because, even though it absorbs less heat than others, it is much more abundant and remains in our atmosphere for longer. CO2 levels are higher right now than at any point over the last 800,000 years, and this increase is responsible for 2/3 of the imbalance that is causing the Earth to warm.

What about my grill then?

If for whatever reason charcoal grilling is a must, it’s recommended you stop the coals from burning unnecessarily. Pouring some water onto the grill can do significant good for the environment (while also saving you money!!) because you can reuse the coals for future grilling.

Moving onto the booze

Aside from grilling, tailgating in heavily associated with alcohol consumption. The National Football League (NFL) released a study that shows people attending the football games are consuming, on average, 8.4 alcoholic beverages. Neyland Stadium holds just over 100,000 people, at the fourth largest American football stadium in the country – and that doesn’t even account for the fact that just over a quarter of tailgaters never actually attend the game inside! That’s a lot of alcohol, but it’s also a lot of waste.

Between the choice of glass, aluminum, or plastic, we would always advocate for aluminum. This is especially the case because glass can no longer be recycled at the University of Tennessee, and when we send glass to the landfill, it will remain there for over 1 million years. Aluminum cans on the other hand can effectively be recycled indefinitely. The process of using recycled aluminum to make new aluminum products requires less than 5% of the energy non-aluminum would. * This does not include aluminum foil or aluminum food trays as these two products are not recyclable! *

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Of course, our top choice is always going be reusing over recycling. Many local breweries and beer markets/tap rooms offer growlers for a onetime fee. Once you’ve purchased your growler, you have access to draft beer from a variety of locations for some really good prices!  

The previously mentioned NFL study also made note that beer pong is the most popular tailgating game. If you’re set on playing some pong, it’s good to remember that the University of Tennessee does allow plastic cups to be recycled! However, a more cost-effective method is to rinse your beer pong cups and store ‘em as designated pong cups. By not reusing or recycling our plastic cups, we are contributing to massive amounts of plastic ending up in our landfills. Roughly 840 thousand tons of plastic plates and cups were sent to the landfill in 2015.

Speaking of plates…

Food presents its own struggles. Nationally, we throw away enough food every year to feed 49 million people. That’s 30-40% of our food supply heading straight for the trash. The cost for discarding food hikes up quickly once you start to account for the land, water, labor, energy, and other outputs used in producing, processing, transporting, and storing the food coupled with the cost of disposing the discarded food.

One of the easiest ways to cut down on food waste is buying in bulk! By encouraging leftovers, you are helping to reduce the overall amount of food traveling to our landfills. Buying local is another easy method of cutting down on waste while simultaneously stimulating our local economy.

Overall

Football season should be a time of fun and (hopefully) celebration. We can have a positive experience while remaining mindful of our choices surrounding consumption. If you have questions about how to manage recycling/waste during game-day or otherwise, the UT Office of Sustainability and KKB are always happy to answer questions or give suggestions in sustainability efforts.

WBIR  captures Smokey on 65th birthday

WBIR captures Smokey on 65th birthday

And, as always, go Vols!

From Roadways to Rivers

A recent study conducted by German Scientist, Dr. Andreas Fath and his research team found that the Tennessee River holds one of the highest levels of microplastics ever measured. The researchers were so shocked at the results, they double and triple checked the findings of their study!

What are microplastics?

Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic less than 5 millimeters long – the width of 5 stacked pennies. Plastic can be made this small to be added to products like face wash, toothpaste, and some cleaning materials. OR bigger pieces of plastic like grocery bags can break down into lots of smaller plastic pieces. The terrible thing about plastic is that no matter how much it breaks down from its original form, it never really leaves.

The microplastics found in the river were primarily made of Polyethylene – what we use to make plastic grocery bags - and Polypropylene – what we use to construct single-use plastic packaging. 

How are microplastics actually getting into the river?

The research team scanned the river as a whole and was unable to find ‘microplastic-hotspots’. This means that the microplastics aren’t coming from any one place. Instead, it’s likely a result of general plastic pollution.

Plastic pollution is also a culprit in the ocean’s microplastic problem. According to the National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration, inland sources are heavily contributing to the trash we see ending up in our oceans. 70% of the trash we find floating in our waterways has come from our streets or through our storm drains.

Here are the top ten items the Ocean Conservancy has found in our waterways:

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Even if our plastic is actually making it into the landfill, it can still end up in our water! Plastic has the ability to break down and leave the landfill with the help of various microorganisms and ultraviolet light.

If we leave our plastic consumption and microplastic issues unchecked, scientists are predicting that we’ll have more microplastic in our oceans than actual fish by 2050!

So – What can we do?

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As a nation, we don’t always have the best track record at maintaining good recycling habits. The United States alone uses 14 billion plastic shopping bags each year and we only recycle 9% of our total plastic trash!

The first step is to reduce consumption. Reusable shopping bags always provide a more economic and eco-friendly choice. An easy way to make sure your reusable bags go to the store with you is to always leave them in your car! Shopping local when possible helps us cut down on potential shipping waste (and costs!!). Recycling provides us with a great second alternative for the products and materials we just haven’t found a suitable substitute for.

When using plastic shopping bags is a must, it is useful to remember that grocery stores often provide recycling bins so that customers are able to return their clean plastic bags. These plastic bags are recycled in three major ways:
1. The plastic bags are mixed with wood scraps like saw dust to make composite lumber – a durable construction material.
2. Our plastic bags can be melted down to make an entirely new batch of plastic bags. This process is much more efficient and a whole lot more gentle on our environment.
3. Plastic bags can be used to make carbon nanotube membranes, which are used for energy storage and biomedical innovation in nanotechnology.

Handling our own plastic waste isn’t the end! Cleaning up our neighborhoods is a massive contributor in our shared efforts to reduce waste and eradicate litter.  

Here at Keep Knoxville Beautiful, we are dedicated to creating a cleaner, greener, and more beautiful community. We plan major Keep Knoxville Beautiful litter clean ups in parks, by roadways, and in our waterways. You can click here to become a volunteer. You can check our regularly updated events page here to view volunteer opportunities. We also support smaller groups who want to organize their own clean ups by providing information, free supplies, and--if preferred--putting out a call for additional volunteers. On average, every year we support over 2,000 volunteers who remove over 50,000 pounds of litter from our roads and waterways. You can click here to start organizing a clean-up.

By keeping our roads clean, we can keep our river clean.

A sustainable summer

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Summer is fast approaching-if not basically here already. When it gets hot outside it’s easy to crank up the AC and forget that many of our favorite summer activities have negative consequences. So this summer here are some useful tips and changes to ensure that you’re playing your part.

  1. Water bottles: I’m not sure how much we can stress this enough- buy a reusable water bottle. The summer days get hot and long so we know that you’ll be hydrating yourself like crazy. So with that in mind, if you do not already have a water bottle it’s time to go purchase one! It’ll save massive amounts of plastic because water bottles are overturned at a massive rate daily.

  2. Travel Smart: One great thing about the summer is the amount of traveling that takes place. This year why don’t we pack smarter and lighter. Pack light and consider all alternative transportation options. Make it a fun family vacation by taking the train or reduce your overall footprint by hopping on the bus! You’ll save money and the planet.

  3. Conserve Energy: There are many different ways we can conserve energy this summer. Unplugging appliances when they are not in use or closing the blinds on the side of the house to keep the temperature lower inside the house.

  4. Summer BBQs: There is nothing better than a barbecue during a cool summer night. But this year we need to remember to grill smart. Propane burns much greener and cleaner than charcoal or wood. No matter what you are cooking, cook efficiently to minimize fuel use! Happy barbecuing.

  5. Volunteer: It’s summer and you might have a bit more time on your hands than usually. Why not put it to use? Volunteer for a local clean up event, community garden, and just spend some time giving back. You will feel better and impact the lives of many. Maybe even check out our upcoming events!

  6. Conserve water: It is estimated that a person uses around 80-100 gallons of water a day! There are many simple easy ways to minimize your water usage.

    • store some drinking water in the fridge. It’ll help stop the use of running tap water and keep your water cool.

    • Turn off your water while you brush your teeth, wash your face, or shave. This uses massive amounts of water overtime that can be stopped by simply turning it off!

    • We know the summers are hot, but don’t over water your plants and lawn.

  7. Swap your sunscreen: Summer is a crucial time for sunscreen sales and is used it massive quantities. But a lot of these commercial sunscreen brands contain harmful chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate. These chemicals, according to Environmental Health Perspective, contribute to the bleaching of corals. Here is a list of reef-safe sunscreens for you to enjoy this summer.

  8. Try new things: Summer is great time for new experiences. There is nothing wrong with mixing up your daily routines and who knows you might love these simple changes.

    • Eat less meat- the summer is a great time to lower your meat consumption. There is nothing better in the hot sun than grilled vegetables or simple swaps for meat. You don’t have to give up meat completely but just going one day a week without eating meet- you will reduce your footprint by extreme amounts.

    • Bike to work- Summers can be extremely hot but biking to work can get you outside to enjoy the beautiful summer days!

KKB wishes you the best as summer approaches and that you incorporate these different ways to have a sustainable summer into your lives!

Things to be positive about in 2019!

At KKB we talk a lot about change. Things that we can do to help promote positive changes in the environment and also things we need to change for the future prosperity of our planet. But today we are gonna focus on positive things and highlight amazing things individuals are doing around the globe to help save our planet!

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  1. Getting rid of plastic waste:

    This Thailand supermarket tackles the use of single-use plastic by using banana leaves as wrapping material! It still requires a small amount of plastic material but is a huge step in the right direction for eliminating the use of plastic.

  2. Animals bouncing back from the endangered species list: Something to be continuously positive about is our little furry or non furry friends getting off the endangered species list! Recently we have welcomed the long-nosed bat, the Louisiana Black Bear, and even the Giant Pandas off the list. World Wildlife is continuously taking steps to conserve our land, plants, and animals that live on it.

  3. The Ozone is healing: The world’s protective Ozone layer has been taking hits for years and years. The topic of the thinning of the Ozone layer has been a hot one and the effects of aerosol sprays and coolants have been thinning our ozone since the 1970s. But, great news! A United Nation report states that it is finally healing! In the late 1990s, about 10 percent of the Ozone Layer had been depleted. But, there has been around a 20 percent decrease in ozone depletion from 2005 to 2016. We are in the beginning stages of recovery. We still have more work to do!

  4. Awareness: It seems that as we take 2019 head on, people are starting to connect the dots. They are waking up and realizing climate change is real and that it is happening all around us. We have people making their voice active and being advocates for change. We have more community groups more than ever taking care of their local areas- like KKB! Keep America Beautiful has affiliates around the country promoting change and impact.

  5. The Bees: Bees entering the endangered list in 2017 took the world by storm. It seemed as no one realized the impact we had on the little guys! But while honeybees are still on the endangered species list, there is something to start buzzing about. The Planet Bee Foundation is taking major steps towards addressing the issue. From community programs, consisting of beekeeping workshops to educating the youth of all ages on the entirety of the bee world. The Planet Bee Foundation is a positive outlook on 2019 and taking us one step closer to saving the bees.

While as a planet we still have a long way to go.. there are so many things to step back and be positive about. 2019 is the year of change and we at KKB are ready for it!

Make your office greener!

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Springtime is here and what better way to celebrate then by taking steps to make your office greener! With some of these easy habits and quick changes your company can reduce their footprint and even save some money in the process.

  1. Start a Green Team for your office- Grab a couple of enthusiastic individuals and start a green team! This team can brainstorm ways to keep the office green, raise awareness, and accomplish way beyond just a couple of changes.

  2. Eliminate styrofoam and plastic- A great step that can be taken by all, and even more so in offices, is to eliminate the use of styrofoam and single use plastics. Yes plastic might be easy and durable to use but, it takes decades to break down and cannot be recycled. So it’s time to embrace the single use plastic office lifestyle. Use reusable water bottles, washable cups and cutlery, and even collaborating with other companies to not ship their products covered with unnecessary plastic lining.

  3. Reusable mugs- It’s 2019 and we know you all have reusable mugs either in use or collecting dust in your cabinets! It’s time to break them out. The build up of paper cups over the year reaches unfathomable amounts. Around 16 billion disposable coffee cups are used each year- and this is not even counting the amount of paper or plastic cups also in use. There is a simple and easy solution….buy a reusable mug.

  4. Paper- There is no need to print every memo or announcement. Inter-office communication can be done easily over the computer or even in person. Try to minimize printing and paper use as much as possible.

  5. Manage waste efficiently- The office is a great centralized location where you can play your part in reducing overall waste consumption. Ensuring that you have a recycling bin on hand and are even separating plastic, paper, and glass can create a great impact!

  6. Turn it off- Another simply way that you can make a change is just by turning off your electronics when you leave. Wow! Yes, it is as easy as that. Our devices are still consuming energy even when they are not in use. So unplug that charger and put that laptop in sleep mode.

  7. Collaborate with other businesses and companies- If you want to do even more start by collaborating with businesses you work with. Discuss that you are avoiding single use plastics with venues and event planners or even that contents you ordered don’t need to be shipped covered in plastic.

    These small and simple tips can create great big impacts on your overall office footprint. Happy Springtime from KKB :)

Food Waste + Food Recovery

Food waste occurs when nutritious food is lost or disposed of.

Around 1.3 billion tons of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally per year. This is equivalent to 200 million African elephants or 13,400 Nimitz Class aircraft carriers.

Food loss occurs at every single stage of the food production and distribution process.

  • Feed America states that $218 billion worth of food is thrown away each year

  • 21% of landfill volume consists of food waste

  • 72 billion pounds of food is lost each year and ends up in landfills/gets incinerated

Here is a new positive term for you- Food Recovery.

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Food Recovery is an approach that seeks to address and reduce wasted food over its entire lifecycle. It prioritizes actions organizations can take to prevent wasted food. Each tier of the Food Recovery hierarchy focuses on different tactics to manage wasted food.

So let’s break down this table and dive into the ways we can be apart of Food Recovery.

These options are ranked from the most preferred, which is source reduction, to least preferred, landfill incineration.

  1. Source Reduction- At the top of the chart we have Source Reduction. This is simply reducing the volume of surplus food generated. As easy as it is to waste food, it’s just as easy to start source reducing! Simple things like creating grocery lists, creating inventories in your business, or even buying less overall. Not only will your wallet enjoy it, but these small changes create huge impacts.

  2. Feed Hungry People- Donate any extra food to any food banks, soup kitchens and shelters. By donating you are feeding people, not landfills. You are also supporting your local community and saving money.

  3. Feed Animals- This is right in the name, diverting your scraps to animals. Food scraps to animals can save farmers and companies money. Companies can also donate extra food to zoos or producers of pet food. Ensure that you handle your food properly and contact your local solid waste or agriculture extension office.

  4. Industrial Uses- The fourth tier of the Food Hierarchy is all about using food to power your car and generator. Sounds crazy? It’s 100% doable. There are many industrial uses of fats, oil, grease, and more!

  5. Composting- This is a tier that is easily accessible to everyone. Composting your food not only nourishes the soil but is an efficient way to handle wasted food. In 2015, Americans recovered 23 million tons through composting.

  6. Landfill/Incineration- The bottom of the totem poll- and for a great reason. This is the last resort for waste disposal and extremely harmful to the environment.

Ways you can reduce food waste

  • Get to know your freezer- Freezing food items is a great way to save them for the long haul. If you don’t think your gonna eat your fruit in time- freeze it and throw it in a smoothie later!

  • Try keeping your fridge clutter free- Overly full fridges can be detrimental to food waste. Make sure your fridge is not overly stocked so you can eat everything that you buy!

  • Don’t toss ugly foods- Just because an Apple has a dent does not mean that it’s no good! Tons of food goes to waste at grocery stores and in kitchens because we look for picture perfect fruits and vegetables. This means that grocery stores only purchase the best looking fruits and vegetables, so lots of food is wasted!

There are many ways that you can reduce food waste and start your food recovery process. But, the most important step is being aware. 
Be aware of how much food is wasted each year and the small things we do on a daily basis that contribute. 

Thank you for reading and lets start this food recovery process!

The 10 year challenge- Earth edition

People ring in the new year with many different ways. If you’re on social media, specifically Facebook, we are sure you have noticed the most recent trend of celebrating the new year.

The 10 year challenge.

Individuals are flooding their feeds with their profile picture from 2008 followed by their most recent. Even some celebrities chimed in posting pictures of themselves from ten years ago. Overall the trend is a fun way to take a step back and be thankful for change. But we at KKB would also like to participate in this challenge!

But how about we do the 10 year challenge for Earth?

Let us take a step back and look at how much the earth has changed within the last ten years.

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  1. Ice Sheets

    Ice sheets are a mass of glacial land ice and contain enormous amounts of frozen water. Major ice sheets cover Greenland and Antarctica. They contain more than 99 percent of the Earth’s freshwater. If the Greenland ice sheet continues to melt, scientists estimate that the sea level would rise about 6 meters. And for the Antarctic ice sheet, around 60 meters. In the past ten years, climate change has caused the melting of the ice sheets to increase by 40 percent. The Ice loss has tripled over the past decade and continues to make sea levels rise.

2. The Great Pacific garbage patch

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The Great Pacific garbage patch is the largest accumulation zone for ocean plastics on Earth. It is located in between Hawaii and California. A measurement from 2018 states that there were nearly 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic afloat within it. It has gone through it’s own 10 year challenge as well by growing tremendously and rapidly. Maybe this is not one we quite want to brag about on Facebook…

3. The Coral Reefs

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The coral reefs are some of the most beautiful and vibrant parts within in our oceans. They light the water with colors and provide homes for many different types of marine life. But lately, those vibrant colors have started to fade. The colors have grown paler, almost muted. Coral reefs have suffered from centuries of commercial fishing operations, climate change, pollution, and much more. You can read more about all the things that affect Coral Reefs here. These are some of the most beautiful parts of our ocean and we must do what we can to protect them.

4. Deforestation

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Forests cover around 31% of the land on our planet. Not only do they provide vital oxygen but also serve as habitats for many animals. Some of the worlds most threatened animals live within our forests. But sadly forests around the world are slowly dying away due to many different causes. Deforestation can be traced back to wildfires, development, cutting for agriculture, and logging for timber. Forests can be home to much of the world’s biodiversity and are crucial to mitigating climate change. World Wildlife states that we lose around 18.7 million acres of forest annually. There are many small ways that we can slow down this process. Recycling is a huge one. Every piece of paper counts. If you want to take a bigger step, plant a tree and become an advocate for reforestation.

But we shouldn’t just focus on the bad..

Keep Knoxville Beautiful is constantly making strides towards bettering our planet and providing the necessary education so that you can too!

Each year the number of volunteers, clean ups, pounds of litter picked up, and students that KKB reaches continues to grows. For our own ten year challenge we have implemented many more programs, clean ups, and beautification projects. And we will only continue to grow!

Comparing KKB’s 2018 year to 2017 we see lots of ways we improved and expanded!

We completed 90 more litter pick ups, collected 25,217 more pounds of litter, reached around 1000 more kids with our presentations, and facilitated around 3,500 more volunteer hours. This is all just within the year of 2018!

Thank you for all the support. We are looking forward to 2019.

Have a great new year from KKB and let us be more aware of the changes happening around us.

Reduce our Holiday Footprint

The Holidays are an extremely busy time for everyone! So busy that we often forget the massive ecological footprint we are leaving behind! Waste is increased by 25% between Thanksgiving and New Years. That is around 6 million tons of holiday waste being created this season. All of the added food waste, packaging, wrapping paper, ribbons, and more adds up to 1 million tons a week to our landfill. 1 million tons is a lot! How about this year we give the gift of reducing our holiday footprint with these easy ways!

  1. Turn off your Christmas lights

    As beautiful as the lights are during the holiday season, there is no need to leave them on all day! Not only does this save energy but will make your lights last longer. Maybe even take another step and purchase LED lights! LED lights not only last up to ten times longer, but use around 80% less energy than other incandescent lights.

  2. Send e-cards

    Every year families dress festively way too early in the year to snap a quick picture for their holiday card. Then they proceed to send this holiday card to friends and family members that they have not spoken to in years! Well I have an alternative. Ecards! Ecards are very fun, interactive, and best of all cheap. But guess what? They also reduce paper waste and can save you money! There are on average of 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the US! This could fill a football field 10 stories high. So consider an ecard this year.

  3. Gift Wrapping

This year let’s get creative with our wrapping! And by creative I mean Eco-Friendly and sustainable! Instead of using wrapping paper that heads right for the landfills, get creative with your presents. Use baskets, mason jars, decorative tins, or even fabric gift bags! In addition, try and save any gift bags for the following years.

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4. Food Waste

During the holiday season 40% of the food we make is wasted. There are many ways we can salvage our food and make the most out of it. One way is apparently the new trend for 2018! Eating from root to stem. This means including the less eaten root into your cooking! Read this Food Network article for some great tips! Another way to not waste as much food is to plan ahead. Know the number of guests you will be cooking for and plan accordingly.

5. Christmas Smells

Around Christmas time we want our home to smell welcoming and fresh. One way we tend to reach this goal is purchasing air fresheners to keep around the house. Air fresheners contribute to our poor air quality and contain many toxic chemicals that we can inhale! This year simmer some water, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and vanilla on a back burner to make your house smell wonderful! Here is an article on amazing scents you can make just from your stove stop!

6. Real or Fake tree?

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This is an age old debate of whether to get a real christmas tree or fake to ring in the holiday season. A real christmas tree will fill your home with a fresh evergreen scent. They are also extremely eco-friendly and aren’t made from PVC toxic plastics! Real trees are normally the most eco friendly way to go if disposed correctly. The best way is to have a facility take the tree and turn it into wood chippings or some other form of compost. But you can read more about the advantages and disadvantages of each here.

Take into consideration these holiday day tips to give back this season! Happy Holidays from KKB!

Let's eliminate single-use plastics

Single-Use plastics are only used once before they are thrown away. They litter our beaches and injure our marine life. We produce about 300 million tons of plastic each year and more than half of it can be disposable! Did you know that researchers discovered that 32 percent of our plastics end up unaccounted for-aka most likely in our oceans. We all play an unique role in solving the global plastic crisis and need to start taking strategic steps. Here is some information and ways that you can make a difference by eliminating some single-use plastics.

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  1. Straws

    2018 might be the year that we finally kick straws. Americans use around 500 million straws a day in the United States. And for what reason? Straws are simply an item that humans can live without. Millions are handed out daily at restaurants and dropped in drinks without even a thought. It might seem harmless but, A Strawless Ocean states that straws are among the top ten items found during beach clean-ups and can harm turtles, seabirds, and other marine life.

    So one major step you can take is eliminating straws from your daily routine. But, if you desperately need a straw to enjoy your refreshments, considering purchasing a reusable straw.

  2. Plastic Bags

    Plastic bags are an extremely common form of litter world-wide. They have been blocking drainage systems, collecting in landfills, and pilling up under your sink for far too long. Plastic Bags are also extremely harmful to marine life, as they can become entangled and also ingest them. Individually, we each use about 83 plastic bags per year. That’s crazy!

    One simple way to put a stop to this madness- buy reusable bags. It’s BYOB time- bring your own bag. They make them with all sorts of designs so you can definitely find one to your liking! How about a punny one? Or one with animals in sunglasses on it? Or just a nice set of durable cheap ones? Look how easy it is to play your part.

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3. Bottled Water

After plastic bags, water bottles are one of the main forms of pollutants that end up on our shores and beaches. Each year, over 500 billion water bottles end up in our oceans, rivers, and lakes. Plastic Bottles take about three times as much water to produce than what they actually hold. Meaning, before even adding up all the energy it takes to produce bottles- plastic water bottles are already inefficient. What is even worse is that 80% of the plastic water bottles we purchase end up in landfills. They take forever to decompose and leak harmful chemicals into our environment during the process. Do I need to go on?

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Reusable Water Bottles. Buy one, refill it, and then refill it again. Stock your home with reusable stainless steel water bottles. Another measure you can take is purchasing a water filter, like a Brita. Keep one in your fridge for clean water anytime without the worry of purchasing plastic water bottles. And if you do end up grabbing a plastic water bottle on the go one day, make sure you recycle it.

Take into account these easy and affordable ways that we can take steps towards a plastic free life! Let’s get rid of these environmental nightmares together.

Spring Sustainability

It springtime in Knoxville which means enjoying the fresh outdoors and doing activities you love in the cool Tennessee air. By making simple changes to our daily lifestyles, we can make a positive impact in our communities and to the environment. Here are four ways to enjoy a more sustainable spring! 

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1. Garden.  Growing your own fruits and vegetables is a great way to get outside and avoid harmful pesticides found in grocery store foods. There are easy, tasty greens you can grow in your own home or garden for springtime eating! Also, growing fresh flowers around your home is a great tip for adding color and beauty to your property. Choose native pollinator plants to revive the health of our local bees and butterflies! 

https://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/6-easy-spring-vegetables-you-can-start-now.html

http://www.costafarms.com/get-growing/news/tennessee-gardening-guide


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2. Clean with green products. When buying cleaning products, make sure they are environmentally friendly! Cleaners that contain harmful toxins, like chlorine and bleach, can be harmful. Eco friendly cleaners use citrus based solvents, vinegar, and essential oils to clean. 

Here are some simple cleaning mixes:

  • Combine liquid soap, lemon juice, borax and water to make a general cleaning spray
  • Combine baking soda and liquid soap for a tub-and-tile cleaner
  • Combine borax, washing soda and grated bar soap to make laundry detergent

For more recipes and product ideas: 

https://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=1073

http://www.thegoodtrade.com/features/natural-eco-friendly-cleaning-products-for-the-conscious-home


3. Donate any unused/unwanted items to a local thrift store. When spring cleaning, sort out the clothing or furniture items taking up space in your home. This will not only help you de-clutter, but also provides used necessities for other families or people in need! 

Local thrift stores:

Goodwill: http://www.gwiktn.org/

KARM: http://karm.org/karm-stores/

Community Chest Knoxville: http://communitychestknoxville.org/index.php


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4. Reduce paper use.Paper towels and napkins are used in most households, but these create lots of waste. There are more sustainable options such as switching to cloth towels for cleaning up around the house! 

 


Share with how you are making your spring more sustainable, please comment below! Keep Knoxville Beautiful would love to hear from you! 

Get Involved This Spring!

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At Keep Knoxville Beautiful, we organize and coordinate events with local groups to promote environmental beautification and community togetherness. This spring, we have several events organized around Knoxville to clean up our communities! If you are interested in volunteering in events around your area, please sign up to participate! We are always looking for helping hands to keep Knoxville beautiful! Check out our Upcoming Event page for details on signing up.


South Knoxville Cleanup

Saturday, March 17, 2018

9:00 AM  12:00 PM

Sam Duff Park

The community-wide South Knoxville Cleanup will be held on Saturday, March 17th from 9 am–12 pm, followed by lunch. The event will kick off at Sam Duff Memorial Park. Participating community leaders will meet at the kickoff event, pick up supplies, and then disperse into their own neighborhoods to pick up litter. Individuals who are not with groups can join the effort to clean the streets surrounding Duff Field.


Beaumont Ave. Cleanup

Saturday, March 24, 2018

10:00 AM  12:00 PM

Beaumont Magnet Academy 

This is a public event. Join Elkmont Exchange and members of the Beaumont community as we pick up litter along Beaumont Ave. and around Beaumont Magnet Academy. Volunteers will receive a free beer voucher from Elkmont Exhange and are invited to eat lunch afterwards in their barrel room.


 

29th Annual River Rescue

Saturday, April 7, 2018
10:00 AM  2:00 PM

Ijams Nature Center


Join us for Ijams Nature Center's 29th Annual River Rescue. Last year, almost 700 volunteers cleaned various sites along the Tennessee River and associated waterways and removed 11.5 tons of garbage! This year, Keep Knoxville Beautiful will be hosting 2 sites.


 

Turkey Creek Greenway Tree Planting

Saturday, April 14, 2018
9:00 AM  12:00 PM

Iron Tribe Fitness


KKB will be planting 30 trees along the Turkey Creek Greenway!

2018 Orchids Awards

2018 Orchids Awards

Since 1979, Keep Knoxville Beautiful has hosted the Orchids Beautification Awards to recognize the architects, contractors, organizations, businesses, and artist that have strived to improve the beauty of Knox County.  These awards are so meaningful because the nominated landscapes and properties contribute to sustaining Knoxville's long-lasting beauty and splendor. These spaces stand out in rebuilding and rejuvenating communities affected by blight and degradation, positively inspiring others to maintain these standards within their lives and communities.