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Nanotech “lily pads” are a new way to purify water

Nanotech “lily pads” are a new way to purify water

| September 23, 2014

If Mark Owen’s invention becomes as ubiquitous as he hopes, there will be some very confused frogs in our lakes, ponds, and rivers. Mark Owen developed the LilyPad water purifier. At a full meter in diameter and coated in white plastic, the LilyPad water purifier doesn’t look like any lily pad I’ve seen—nor does it […]

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Old landfill sites become solar panel farms

Old landfill sites become solar panel farms

| September 11, 2014

We frequently write about efforts to keep waste out of landfills. But what if the landfill is already full? Now what? A relatively recent trend highlights a very bright solution: installing solar panels on landfill sites. There is very little that you can safely and practically do with an old landfill site. The combination of […]

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Waste-to-energy plants successful in Europe, controversial in US

Waste-to-energy plants successful in Europe, controversial in US

| August 12, 2014

A recent report by Columbia University’s Earth Engineering Center reveals that diverting day-to-day waste to incinerators instead of landfills can actually generate electricity for 13.8 million households, and produce several other forms of energy simultaneously. But, given the reputation of these waste-to-energy (WTE) plants in the U.S., is burning better than burying? WTE plants remain […]

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New Orleans is kicking (cigarette) butts

New Orleans is kicking (cigarette) butts

| July 29, 2014

Smoking rates have plummeted significantly in the United States over the past several decades—but you might not know it from looking at the barrage of cigarette butts carpeting many urban sidewalks. New Orleans is the latest city taking on the challenge of cleaning up the butts. That’s the good news. The great news? They’re doing […]

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Where does our plastic go?

Where does our plastic go?

| July 22, 2014

We throw things out every day, but rarely consider where our garbage goes. Each American disposes about seven pounds of trash daily, nearly 70 percent of which heads straight to landfills, according to NPR. We have a trash crisis, and the most pressing problem may be plastic waste. As the New York Times’ editorial board […]

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When we litter, we’re littering the ocean floor

When we litter, we’re littering the ocean floor

| May 21, 2014

That bottle you just tossed aside? It turns out that you may as well have gift-wrapped it and mailed it to a fish. A new report details the dramatic extent to which our garbage permeates the deepest reaches of the ocean. The report is alarming, and it joins an increasing body of research indicating that […]

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A little incentive for discarding cigarette butts

A little incentive for discarding cigarette butts

| May 19, 2014

Could a snazzy performance clean up the cigarette butt problem? Four and a half trillion cigarette butts are tossed onto the ground each year. With an estimated one billion smokers throughout the world, that’s 750 discarded butts per person. Yikes. What’s worse: the cigarette butts that land on streets and sidewalks don’t stay there. They […]

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Smog isn’t just bad for the environment

Smog isn’t just bad for the environment

| April 22, 2014

A disturbing report from scientists at the University of Utah suggests a link between air pollution and suicide rates. This isn’t the first time research has linked air pollution and mental health. This latest study comes three years after an investigation at Ohio State University found a connection between smog and depression. In 2010, Taiwanese […]

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Cleaning up the mafia’s toxic waste

Cleaning up the mafia’s toxic waste

| February 6, 2014

It sounds like something straight out of a movie: incarcerated mafia informants tip off the authorities to a hidden mafia burial ground. In this case, it’s not a movie — it’s straight out of the New York Times. And what’s buried there isn’t what you might be thinking, but it’s awfully sinister nonetheless. It turns […]

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Mushrooms are cleaning up city streams

Mushrooms are cleaning up city streams

| January 28, 2014

If you live in the vicinity of Corvallis, Oregon, you might notice something strange floating in the waterways: burlap bags filled with coffee grounds and growing mushrooms. It may look like discarded compost or litter, but these mushrooms are serving a very important purpose. They’re absorbing — and, thus, eliminating — harmful toxins from the […]

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Landfill weighs heavily on a community

Landfill weighs heavily on a community

| September 3, 2013

Every year, 1,000 tons of recyclables end up in the county-owned Cherokee Recycling Center on Blalock Road in Georgia. That’s a figure that the county-owned facility — and its single employee, Michael Johnson, are proud of. Unfortunately, it pales in comparison to the nearby Pine Bluff Landfill, which serves a 15-county area takes in over […]

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