“Ice Ice Baby”

In light of the recent stretch of below average temperatures, I thought it might be of interest to share some facts about ice on the Great Lakes. The NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, or GLERL, has been studying ice coverage on the Great Lakes for over 30 years. Their data help us to understand ice’s role in water level changes, water temperature, and even plankton blooms in Lake Erie. Why should we care so much about ice? Read on to find out more about ice and its impacts.

Ice Generation

Lake Erie’s long term average ice concentration compared to current (2017-2018 winter) ice production.

During winter months, lakes lose energy to the atmosphere as the water near the surface cools. The cold, dense water sinks to the bottom of the lake while warmer water rises, and this cycle continues until the surface water reaches 32 degrees. Freezing begins and then extends down into the lake as the ice thickens. On average, it takes until early February for Lake Erie to achieve over 60% ice coverage. The recent stretch of cold temperatures across the Great Lakes has made for some record-breaking ice generation – Lake Erie went from 1.5% coverage on December 24 to over 85% coverage on January 8. For comparison, last year in early January, Lake Erie had only 7.6% ice coverage.

Ice and Lake Effect Snow

More ice on Lake Erie generally means less lake effect snow. When Lake Erie freezes over, less water is readily available to be drawn up from the lake to the air above. The ice acts like a cap, preventing moisture from evaporating and/or condensing and therefore creating lake effect snow. While those in the “snow belt” may appreciate the decrease in snowfall once Lake Erie starts freezing over, this usually comes at a price – colder weather!

Ice and Lake Levels

Increased ice coverage means more protection from evaporation in the winter and theoretically higher water levels – but the connection between ice coverage and water levels is not that simple. While the amount of available open water in the winter for evaporation plays a role, data have shown that evaporation peaks in the fall, before ice cover forms. In extreme ice cover years, the thermal structure of the lake could be impacted for the rest of the year, potentially leading to less evaporation from the lakes (and possibly higher water levels) in the following fall. It is important to note that evaporation and precipitation are the major drivers of seasonal water level changes in the Great Lakes. A winter of low evaporation due to ice cover could be negated by a dry spring with little rainfall.

Ice and Harmful Algal Blooms

Harmful algal blooms typically require a water temperature of at least 60 degrees to bloom. The percentage of ice coverage does play a part in water temperatures later in the year – the spring temperatures will have to melt the ice first before the water below the ice is able to warm up. In a year with a greater extent of ice cover, it will take longer for the lake to warm up to 60 degrees, and this could lead to a shorter harmful algal bloom season. However, factors such as nutrient runoff and spring/summer weather patterns can impact the extent of harmful algal blooms as well.

Want to learn more about ice? Check out NOAA GLERL’s Coastwatch program – with real-time observation of ice on the Great Lakes.

Ice coverage across the Great Lakes. Lake Erie has the largest coverage with over 85% as of January 8, 2018.

Resources:

NOAA GLERL Great Lakes Ice Cover page: https://www.glerl.noaa.gov/data/ice/#overview

National Weather Service Great Lakes Ice Analysis: https://www.weather.gov/cle/GreatLakesIce_Analysis

Great Lakes Coastal Forecasting System Annual Ice Cover Comparison: https://www.glerl.noaa.gov//res/glcfs/compare_years/

Sarah Orlando is the Ohio Clean Marinas Program Manager, Ohio Sea Grant College Program. You can contact her at: 419-609-4120, orlando.42@osu.edu, @SarahAOrlando.

Smart Cities, Healthy People: Community Development that Builds Social Capital

Have you ever stopped to consider your work as that of a ‘communal doctor’ whose efforts are designed to impact individual quality of life, mental health, and ultimately, overall community health?

There is a growth in recent scientific research that reinforces the correlation between how communities are designed and built and the mental health of their residents.[1] Our built cities have become urban ecosystems, biological communities of living things in a given area interacting with each other and the non-living environment. In a healthy ecosystem, each organism or element of the system has its own niche or contribution. There is a natural order of things that interconnect with each other, but many of our urban cities have failed to reach this harmony. It is becoming very apparent that social cohesion, relationships, and personal investment in the community – often referred to as ‘social capital’ – is an important determinant of overall community health, and therefore should play a bigger role in urban design.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that “The way that we design our communities and the commuting distances and times that result can affect the amount of time that is available for: extracurricular activities for our children, recreation/rejuvenation time for adults after work, community involvement activities such as neighborhood improvement projects and neighborhood association events, and time for family members to spend together. Circumstances that prevent or limit the availability of ‘social capital’ for a community and its members can have a negative effect on the health and well-being of the members of that community. These negative effects on health and well-being can in turn have negative effects on the community as a whole.”[2]

Figure 1: The Chief Public Health Officer’s Report on the State of Public Health in Canada 2017.  

Community development and urban planning fields originated in the early 19th century over concerns of public health problems created by overcrowded slums and dirty industries.[3] But the connection to public health and the built environment shortly thereafter began to diverge; public health focused more on genetics, biology, and behavior with an epidemiological, evidence based approach, while community development was preempted in designing its built environment around the automobile over the socioeconomic-wellbeing of its people. However, there seems to be a renewed interest in rejoining community development and public health to help address mental health, obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression, homelessness, violence, social inequality, affordability, mobility, etc.[4] Two centuries later, technology and innovation dominate everything, including community development.

In this new era of city building, people are seeing more tech industries involved and changing the metrics of community design, public health, and increasing inclusivity of its residents in the development process. The tech industry is actively developing an array of digital tools that are trying to make the community development process more transparent and interactive for people. Cities like Santa Monica, California are exploring smartphone technology that employs a Tinder approach, called CitySwipe, to influence community development decisions. Residents can swipe left or right and provide instant feedback on urban design decisions such as street furniture, green infrastructure, parking, proposed developments, murals, bike lanes, etc. The software is fairly basic, but it’s rapidly advancing and working to get the public more involved in the development consultation process without using lengthy mail-out response forms, wordy PDFs, online surveys, or asking people to attend inconvenient public comment hearings.

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, will be redeveloping the initial 12-acres Quayside District of Toronto’s waterfront. The project is called the Sidewalk and has an additional 800-acres from the adjacent district for future expansion. Its vision is to create a brand new mixed-use urban district “from the Internet up,” merging the physical with the digital while applying high-tech design concepts at scale. The community design is data-driven and connected, monitored with sensors, and generates big data collections to become the first “programmable public realm.” It is truly an urban district planned and programmed to build new societies and solve public health dilemmas of our age.[5]

Toronto’s Eastern Waterfront Map (Credit: Sidewalk Toronto)

To engage the public realm, Google offers a mix of traditional uses in flexible spaces with a system of asset monitoring. The company plans to design for ‘climate-positive living’ using smart appliances managed by remote sensors that support a range of commercial, institutional, and residential uses with diverse co-housing possibilities. The proposed timber-frame modular construction will use onsite assembly techniques that will allow for quick and easy structural adjustments that could accommodate a temporary change in use or living arrangement, such as a café expanding into a restaurant co-working space; or a parent, sibling, or friend moving in or out of the home. The company proposes to design a district-wide thermal energy grid, including underground garbage, waste, and composting infrastructure, deep-water cooling system, robotic package delivery, sensors for air and noise quality control, as well as sensors to manage wind, sun, and rain that could double the number of daylight hours and outside comfortability around the district.

Housing Vision (Credit: Sidewalk Toronto)

Self-driving and/or car-sharing vehicles are the only automobiles that will be permitted, providing point-to-point convenience without the safety risks and high costs of owning and maintaining private vehicles. (Americans can spend approximately $7,000 or more per year to own, maintain, insure, and drive a car and often choose their car over paying for adequate health insurance or needed medical care.) This feature will also eliminate the need for on and off-street parking requirements that dominate traditional urban design and zoning requirements. Additionally, the pedestrian and bike pathways in the tech-district are designed to melt snow, promoting safe year-round usage with the sole purpose of bolstering renewed street life and active multi-purpose public spaces.

Google is not the only tech company that has shown interest in the city building industry. Lyft, a transportation network company based in San Francisco, California has proposed street redesigns for a driverless future (e.g. Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angles); proposing transportation concepts that eliminate traffic lanes while doubling the transportation capacity of the street.

Proposed underground waste, recycling, and compost infrastructure (Credit: Sidewalk Toronto)

Studies have shown that mixed-use neighborhoods, with shops, schools, libraries, workplaces and homes designed around easy walking distance tend to support higher levels of physical activity and have lower rates of obesity.[6] People working in community development fields can utilize new technologies to engage communities and start retrofitting cities to strengthen their social capital and increase community health through urban design that is more responsive to needs of people, rather than cars.

One tool used in helping people visualize new developments and changes in their community is the augmented reality technology UrbanPlanAR. It overlays a 3D picture planned development within an actual urban environment in real-time. The technology enables one to hold their mobile device and use its camera to see what the proposed development would look like.

Mobility Vision (Credit: Sidewalk Toronto)

The tech industry is challenging how community development and urban planning has been done for decades. To improve quality of life, strengthen economies, and protect the environment, organizations like Future Cities Catapult in London, England are working in city labs to develop and test new technologies and prototype tools to make the planning process fit for the 21st century. Their efforts are designed to spread the innovations to cities and community development departments and practitioners across the world. Such developments excite people working in community development fields who are frustrated with old-school planning and community engagement tactics. Such innovations could both streamline the bureaucracy and make the whole community development process more transparent for community members. Such tech-tools could also help answer complex questions about trade-offs.

To aggregate the city’s physical, social, and green infrastructure, the city of Manchester in the UK has created an interactive tool called Greater Manchester Open Data Infrastructure Map using GIS technology. It shows transportation networks, real estate information, brownfields, proposed development sites and more, enabling interested individuals to see how the community is developing and be involved in the design process.

Physicians have focused on individual patient needs and health problems for decades, but when so many people start having similar problems, such as anxiety, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression, people must realize that poor health is not entirely caused by lack of personal governance, but may be the result of the built environment in which people live. In a way, people working in community development fields have to learn to become communal doctors powered by high-tech tools to improve urban design and community development programming.

 

Meghan Thoreau is an OSU Extension Educator for Pickaway County (Heart of Ohio EERA).

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[1] Frumkin, H. 2016. Environmental Health: From Global to Local (Public Health/Environmental Health). 3rd Edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. n.d. Healthy Places: Social Capital. Accessed November 29, 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyplaces/healthtopics/social.htm.

[3] Rosen G. A History of Public Health. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1993.

[4] Jackson, Richard J. 2003. “The Impact of the Built Environment on Health: An Emerging Field.” American Journal of Public Health 93 (9): 1382-1384.

[5] Rider, David. 2017. Google firm wins competition to build high-tech Quayside neighbourhood in Toronto. 10 17. Accessed 12 1, 2017. https://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2017/10/17/google-firm-wins-competition-to-build-high-tech-quayside-neighbourhood-in-toronto.html.

[6] Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. n.d. Environmental Barriers to Activity: How Our Surroundings Can Help or Hinder Active Lifestyles. Accessed November 29, 2017. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes/physical-activity-environment/.

Beet Food Waste: Turnip at the Farmers’ Market

Did you know that more than 38 million tons of food waste was generated in the U.S. in 2014? To help address this issue, OSU Extension Cuyahoga County teamed up with two local partners this past summer to launch a Food Waste, Recovery, & Education pilot program at the Tremont Farmers’ Market. OSUE Cuyahoga County, Rust Belt Riders, and Stone Soup Cleveland piloted a community composting program, modeling the efforts of cities such as Washington, .D.C. and New York City. The pilot program aimed to help reduce food waste and divert scraps from landfills while providing education about food insecurity and food recovery systems.

So, how did it work?

The partners spent 4 weeks at the farmers’ market doing outreach and promotion before beginning 8 weeks of scrap collection. The pilot offered free sunflower planting for children (and adults!) with compost from Rust Belt Riders to help spark community engagement and begin dialogue about food waste in the county.

Residents who signed up for the free program 8 week were provided one-gallon containers with lids that they could take home and use to collect their compostable food scraps over the course of the week. Residents could bring their scraps to the farmers’ market to be weighed and recorded, helping them gauge their waste production and environmental impact. The containers were emptied into a larger bin that would be later delivered to Rust Belt Riders to be composted.

Over 30 community members actively participated in the Food Waste and Food Recovery pilot project at the Tremont Farmers’ Market. Over 8-weeks, residents were able to drop off their compostable food scraps and engage in food waste education. In just 8 weeks, over 750 pounds of food scraps were diverted from landfills. 88% if participants were surprised by how much food waste they were producing, and 94% of participants stated the program helped them become more conscious about the amount of food waste they produce.

While the program was designed to serve apartment dwellers, almost 30% of participants were homeowners with access to a yard who noted they did not know how to properly compost. Through this pilot, we learned that there may be a significant number of households in Cleveland who are not composting simply because they do not know how. Composting workshops have been set up to serve those participants and other homeowners who are interested.

As with any pilot project, you set out not really knowing what will happen and inevitably encounter a variety of challenges and valuable lessons. We were pleasantly surprised by the level of community engagement and support, but we did not consider any potential drawbacks such as odors. We quickly learned that we needed to ask program participants to place their containers in the fridge or freezer to slow decomposition and eliminate any unpleasant smells. A few very ripe containers caused some of our market neighbors to be a bit upset.

The pilot was well received by community members and market vendors, being seen as a valuable addition to the farmers’ market, but we did not have any next steps planned. As the pilot ended, program participants were anxious to know what they might do with their scraps. We had created a group of food waste conscious community members, but did not have a long-term solution for them. When we surveyed participants after the pilot ended, 41% said they would participate in fee-based residential compost services in the future. This finding sparked Rust Belt Riders to create a Community Supported Compost Program, where residents can pay for an annual membership that allows them to drop their scraps off at their facility to be composted at any time through the year.

The partners plan to host the program at the Tremont Farmers’ Market again next summer, extending the programming to be offered for a longer duration of 16-20 weeks!

What will you do to reduce your food waste? To learn more about food waste and food recovery systems, contact Amanda Osborne, County Extension Educator, Cuyahoga County & Western Reserve EERA.

Party without the Paper or Plastic

The holidays are just around the corner and I am so excited!!!!! I love the holidays, and no matter which ones you celebrate in November and December, they all involve spending time eating the most delicious food with friends and family. They often involve some gift giving too.

Despite the feel-good atmosphere and carefree nature of the holidays, I am always drawn to how much garbage we create during this time. Information from the California Department of Conservation/Division of Recycling states that we generate 25% more trash during this time, creating 7 million pounds of waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. Large parties often lead to disposable cutlery being used to save time with kitchen cleanup. Or the giving of gifts leads to bags of wrapping paper being thrown away. So when you are spreading cheer over the next couple of months, remember the planet and give her a gift, too. The gift of less garbage.

Are you hosting one of the holiday meals?

Last year was my first time hosting my family for Thanksgiving in my home and I was stressed. But I made it a priority to reduce the amount of garbage our meal created by recycling cans and boxes from the food purchased, using only reusable glassware, plate ware, cutlery, and napkins. I also made to-go meals for everyone in reusable plastic Tupperware. There was so little waste generated, it made the day even more special.

Have a friend who loves games? Wrap their gift with the crossword sections of the newspaper. Photo credit: Damien Nelson.

Are you giving gifts?

Giving gifts has become the norm for many of the holidays we celebrate in December. Think about what material you use to wrap or package the gifts. I love to use newspaper or magazines as my gift wrap. The material is free, and save you the trouble of purchasing wrapping paper; a product which takes many resources such as trees and fossil fuels to create. You can also gift items in reusable bags or cute baskets, completely avoiding the need to wrap anything.

Homemade extracts and flavored oils are super popular right now. They would be a great gift for the chef in your life. Photo credit: HGTV.

Are you doing all of your shopping online?

Do you have to do all of your shopping online? Think of all the material that is required to ship the item to your house. Instead make homemade gifts. One year I decided to make candles for family and friends. I used glass jars I had collected over the year and made these super cute gifts that people loved. I did make the mistake of putting pine cones in the candles, which turned out to be a really bad idea. (Let’s just say pine cones make great fuel!)

Are you sending gifts through the mail?

My mom would always make me the best gift boxes when I was in college. I would get them around holidays or near big exams. If there was too much space left in the box, instead of using plastic wrap or plastic packing peanuts, she would put a fluffy pair of socks or a bag of popcorn instead. I was able to use the items meant to stuff the package instead of throwing them away.

I hope some of my personal experiences have given you some new ideas about how to reduce the amount of waste you produce during the holiday season. And remember, when you go to the store to shop for food or gifts, bring those reusable bags!

Endnotes:

 

Jill Bartolotta is an Extension Educator for the Ohio Sea Grant College Program.

Back for the Attack: The Lake Erie Algal Bloom

Photo credit: Toledo Blade, 2017

The Lake Erie algal bloom has often been described as mean, green and obscene. To make matters worse, if you’ve ever experienced an algal bloom in person, you would also know that it stinks… literally.

What gives? What is being done about this yearly outbreak in our Great Lake Erie? The Ohio Sea Grant College Program has been and continues to be one of the key leaders in research, education and outreach on this critical issue. This blog posting will discuss key research initiatives that Ohio Sea Grant is tackling head on with local, state, university and federal partners.

Background Information

Photo credit: Toledo Blade, 2017

A harmful algal bloom (HAB) is any large increased density of algae that is capable of producing toxins. In freshwater, such as Lake Erie, those algae tend to be cyanobacteria — more commonly known as blue-green algae — which grow excessively in warm water with a high phosphorus concentration.

Phosphorus enters the water from agriculture, suburban and urban sources. The likelihood of such runoff is strongly affected by climatic factors including drought, severe weather and temperature.

Much of the harmful algal bloom research seeks to understand both how phosphorus and other elements, such as nitrogen, affect algal blooms and how runoff can be reduced without negative impacts to farming and other industries. Other projects focus on the public health impacts of toxic algal blooms, ranging from drinking water issues to food contamination.

Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative

Photo credit: Toledo Blade, 2017

The Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative (HABRI), created in the aftermath of the 2014 Toledo water crisis, provides near-term solutions for the full suite of issues surrounding harmful algal blooms. Guided by the technical needs of state agencies at the front lines of the HABs crisis, Ohio universities are the engines for creating new knowledge, new technologies and new approaches to give us both short-term assistance and long-term solutions.

After the Toledo water crisis in August 2014, the Ohio Department of Higher Education (then the Ohio Board of Regents) allocated $2 million to Ohio universities for research to solve the harmful algal bloom problem in Lake Erie. The funding was matched by participating universities for a total of more than $4 million.

Led by representatives from The Ohio State University and The University of Toledo, and managed by Ohio Sea Grant, the initial efforts of the Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative (HABRI) entailed 18 projects involving researchers from seven Ohio universities and partners as far away as South Dakota and Japan.

The Lake Erie algal bloom research has been broken down into four major categories (please click each link for information on funded research efforts):

  1. Tracking Blooms from the Source
  2. Protecting Public Health
  3. Producing Safe Drinking Water and,
  4. Engaging Stakeholders

The HABRI has launched a new round of agency-directed research every year since 2015, with the first round of projects completed in spring 2017. The Ohio Department of Higher Education has funded all research, with matching funds contributed by participating universities. For the 2018 cohort, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) will provide matching funds for some of the research and monitoring activities undertaken as part of the statewide effort.

The initiative also provides invaluable training for Ohio students, from undergraduate to doctoral candidates, which distinguishes university research from other scientific institutions and gives taxpayers a double return on their investment.

Input from partners such as the OEPA, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Lake Erie Commission ensures that projects complement state agency efforts to protect Ohio’s fresh water and that results address known management needs to ensure sustainable water for future generations.

HABRI used Ohio Sea Grant’s proposal development system to streamline project proposals, project management and public engagement, capitalizing on Sea Grant’s strong reputation among various stakeholder groups including the research community.

For more information, please see Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative Year 2 Report and Executive Summary.

Source: Ohio Sea Grant College Program- Harmful Algal Bloom Research Initiative

Submitted by: Joe Lucente, Associate Professor, Community Development, OSU Extension and Ohio Sea Grant College Program

Plastic Cigar Tips: A Growing (and Gross) Problem on Ohio’s Beaches

In a relatively short period of time plastic has become the most common form of garbage found in the Earth’s oceans, lakes, and other waters. Sadly, coastal residents of Great Lakes states have become quite accustomed to seeing plastic. Almost 80% of trash found on beach cleanups in the region in recent years has been identified as plastic 1. This is especially evident along the southern beaches of Lake Erie, where high population and industrial development have contributed to the plastics problem. In Ohio, the most common items found are cigarettes and other smoking related materials, including plastic cigar tips.

In total, cigar tips account for about 14% of all smoking related debris on Ohio beaches 2. These trends are especially noticeable on beaches found near Ohio’s largest coastal city, Cleveland, and its surrounding communities. Given the growing awareness of the issue, and the impact of plastics on beaches throughout the Great Lakes, my colleague with Ohio Sea Grant, Jill Bartolotta, and I convened a focus group to investigate strategies to help address the problem. The group was comprised of individuals with practical knowledge of plastic cigar tip use and disposal issues, including representatives of government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, community groups, and local academic institutions.

The first questions the group discussed centered on the WHAT, WHY, and HOW of the problem. When asked what local residents think about the topic, all agreed that people are well aware and not happy about the abundance of cigar tips found along Lake Erie’s shore. When asked why this matters, group members suggested that it affects the benefits of living in a community, like neighborhood pride and public health, as well as the social, environmental, and financial viability of local neighborhoods. This leads us to the how of the matter. How can decision makers successfully combat the problem of plastic cigar tips?

In order to figure out how to reduce the amount of cigar tips on area beaches, we first asked focus group members what prevents smokers from throwing their tips in the garbage. Responses ranged from ‘not enough smoking disposal receptacles’ to a ‘lack of receptacles in high traffic areas’ and ‘no receptacles specifically for cigar tips.’ Group members also cited social barriers, such as ‘long-term user habits,’ ‘social norms that validate use of cigars,’ and ‘difficulty reaching the population of smokers with proper disposal messaging.’

Ultimately, the group came up with a set of recommendations for helping to reduce plastic cigar tip litter in the area. Some suggestions were obvious, like ‘creating more designated smoking areas with proper disposal receptacles’ and ‘developing education and outreach on public signage.’ Others were more nuanced, like reward programs and mail in rebates, tax increases, deposit programs, and strict age enforcement by vendors. One constant among all ideas was an emphasis on positive messaging. Instead of negative campaigns that instruct people to “quit smoking,” the focus should be on education and community-based solutions. The group suggested educating people about the connection between swimming and drinking water, along with other public health issues. In the end, the most enthusiastic recommendation was to focus on neighborhood beautification and Cleveland pride. As locals will tell you, Cleveland is The Land of Champions! Not an ashtray.


References

  1. Driedger, A.G.J., Durr, H.H., Mitchell, K., and Cappellen, P.V. 2015. “Plastic Debris in the Laurentian Great Lakes: A Review.” Journal of Great Lakes Research. 41 (1): 9-19.
  2. Adopt a Beach Program. 2015. “Litter Report: Raw Data from Great Lakes Beach Cleanups.” Cigar tip percentage calculated by Jill Bartolotta, Ohio Sea Grant College Program and Ohio State University Extension, May 19, 2016.

Scott Hardy is an Extension Educator for the Ohio Sea Grant College Program.

Watch What You Throw Out! The Fundamentals of Recycling

Trash . . . it’s ugly, probably smelly, and something we tend not to think twice about once we set it on the curb or in the dumpster. Did you know the average American generates about 4.4 pounds of waste, per day? Americans produced an estimated 254 million tons of trash in 2013, and of this amount, 87 million tons or 34.3% was recycled or composted. If these numbers are surprising to you, read further to learn how to properly reduce and recycle your waste!

What can you recycle?

  • Aluminum & Steel Cans
  • Paper & Newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Glass – Glass makes up 6% of items in the landfill and it takes over 1 million years to decompose
  • Plastic – did you know the average US citizen uses 200 lbs of plastic each year? Of this amount, only 3% is recycled.
  • Electronics & Batteries – for more information research your county’s recycling program or call your local electronic company (Staples, Best Buy).

Remember these tips to be a pro at recycling: lightly wash out bottles or containers, keep the caps of bottles or jars on, and always review what recyclables are collected in your county or you risk your entire bin being dumped in the landfill.

Recyclables are commonly collected in two ways – they are either sorted into their respective materials at site pickup, or all recyclables are thrown together and taken to a Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) for sorting. The MRF’s will sort the recyclables by hand and/or machine and then materials are sent off to manufacturers who utilize the recycled items to make new products.

It’s a challenge to understand the importance and impact recycling can have when you don’t see the end result, but it is essential to reducing your carbon footprint and total waste generated. While recycling aids in reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfills, there are two important steps you should take if you are interested in reducing your overall waste generation:

  1. Reduce – For many of us, we have ignored the common conveniences we have, such as plastic bags at the grocery store. Easy fixes like bringing a reusable bag, or even reusing plastic bags, will reduce the amount of unrecyclable material you are already consuming. Also be conscious of putting produce into separate plastic bags; you can always mix produce in one and leave it open for the cashier to weigh separately. Ain’t no shame in this reusable shopping bag game!
  1. Reuse – Repurpose recyclable items such as glass jars for pantry storage, water bottles, or even to plant some herbs!

Make sure to check out your county’s local recycling program for specifics on what can be recycled! And to learn more about plastic pollution and how long it takes for items to decompose, check out fix.com/blog/reduce-plastic-use/.

Sources:

2013 Solid Waste Data – archive.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/municipal/web/html/

Recycling Facts and Material Statistics – cuyahogarecycles.org/environment_recycling_facts

“Recycle the possibilities are endless” – threerivers.gov.uk/egcl-page/rubbish-waste-and-recycling

Materials Recovery Center (MRC) –  www3.epa.gov/recyclecity/recovery.htm

Lauren Vargo is a Program Coordinator, CD/ANR (Cuyahoga County & Western Reserve EERA).

What the HACCP?

The title says it all. Most people probably haven’t heard of the HACCP process before, and those that have are likely familiar with it in the food service industry. HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, and it was developed in the 1960’s as a way to prevent astronauts from being exposed to food borne illness. The process was since adopted by the FDA thanks to its effectiveness in preventing the spread of disease via processing and packaging of food.

So why is this Sea Grant fish guy talking about astronaut food?

In a dramatic turn of events, folks from the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network adopted this process years ago and used it to prevent the spread of invasive species and diseases and ensure quality control in the Great Lakes seafood and bait fish industries. Other thoughtful Sea Grant and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service employees morphed the process even more to address the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) in natural resource management activities. (If you’re not familiar with AIS, check out my previous CD blog on Alien Invaders.)

Invasive goldfish in a Lake Erie wetland- How many potential vectors of spreading AIS do you see in this picture?
(Some answers: boat, buckets, waders, net, coat)

As it turns out, this process is pretty successful in preventing the spread of AIS. So much so that there are a number of folks across the country that are certified to train natural resource managers on using the HACCP process in their work. That list includes my colleagues Jenny Roar and Eugene Braig, who along with myself will be hosting an AIS-HACCP workshop at Stone Laboratory August 28-29, 2017.

If your work finds you in the field, then you are a potential vector for spreading AIS, and you should strongly consider taking this workshop. If you know a natural resource professional, please forward along the information so they can help us protect our natural resources from the scourge of invasive species. Even if you’re not a professional in the field but enjoy outdoor recreation, remember to always take steps to prevent the spread of invasive species!

  • Learn to recognize AIS and report new sightings to the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
  • Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!Clean, Drain, Dry! When using boats or other aquatic recreational equipment, before leaving the water access: inspect and remove foreign material, drain water from all containers (bilge, livewell, etc.), clean with high pressure and/or heated water, and allow to dry for at least five days before transporting between bodies of water. Learn more at stopaquatichitchhikers.org/.
  • Dispose of unwanted bait, worms and fish parts in the trash.
  • HabitatitudeGet Habitattitude! Never dump aquarium pets, plants, other organisms, or water, including bait, from one water body into another. Learn more at www.habitattitude.net/.

For more information on AIS-HACCP, or AIS in the Great Lakes, contact me at gabriel.78@osu.edu.

Credits:

Title stolen from the creative brain of Sarah Orlando.

Photos and captions from USF&WS AIS HACCP Manual

Tory Gabriel is an Extension Specialist, Program Manager for the Ohio Sea Grant College Program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

non-target species

No yard? No problem! Compost your food waste anyway!

Food. It’s what’s for dinner (and, well, breakfast and lunch). Until, that is, it becomes food waste. Did you know that more than 50 million tons of food waste goes to landfills every year, or that roughly half is generated at the household level (ReFED)? We can help reduce food waste through better meal planning, proper storage of produce, and preservation methods through canning or freezing. However, no matter how well we implement any of these strategies we will always have corncobs, carrot peels and ends, and other such waste that ultimately ends up discarded.

backyard compostingWhat can we do? A compost pile is an option if you own your home and have a small space available in your yard. Backyard composting is common in United States, but is best suited for those who own a home with a yard. The renter and apartment dwellers without a yard face the greatest challenge. According to the National Multifamily Housing Council, 35% of residents (111 million people) in the United State rent the property they live in.

The only city to truly address this challenge is San Francisco with its curbside composting program; one part of the city’s zero waste initiative. There, food waste is picked up by the city the same way they do for recycling and trash, but to be composted. In Cuyahoga County, we do not have curbside composting or a class II composting facility. As such, food waste has become a very salient issue in Cuyahoga County with many apartment dwellers looking for a compost option.

To address this challenge, OSU Extension and two local partners have teamed up. The Cuyahoga County Extension Office is hosting a Food Waste, Recovery, & Education project this summer at the Tremont Farmers’ Market. Farmers’ markets are great community spaces and provide the perfect location for educating residents on the full life cycle of food. In partnership with Rust Belt Riders, a local composting business, and StoneSoupCLE, a non-profit focused on food recovery, we are providing residents the opportunity to stop by the farmers’ market every Tuesday from June 20th through August 15th to drop off their food scraps for composting by Rust Belt Riders. When residents drop off their food scraps at the market, the scraps are weighed so we can track the pounds of waste diverted from landfills and provide residents with real data describing their individual impact and reduction in their carbon footprint.

What will you do to reduce your food waste? To learn more about food waste and food recovery systems, contact Amanda Osborne (osborne.414@osu.edu), County Extension Educator, Cuyahoga County & Western Reserve EERA.

Great Lakes Sea Grant Network Set to Rock in Cleveland this Summer

University faculty, educators and staff involved in the Sea Grant College program throughout the Great Lakes region will converge in downtown Cleveland for the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network meeting hosted this year by Ohio Sea Grant from June 5-8.

GLSGN Meeting Logo

Credit: Ohio Sea Grant

Why is this important? For 50+ years, the National Sea Grant College program has worked to create and maintain a healthy coastal environment and economy. The Sea Grant network includes 33 programs based at top universities in every coastal and Great Lakes state, Puerto Rico, and Guam. The programs of the Sea Grant network work together to help citizens understand, conserve and better utilize America’s coastal, ocean and Great Lakes resources.

A partnership between universities and the federal government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Sea Grant directs federal resources to pressing problems in local communities. By drawing on the experience of more than 3,000 scientists, engineers, public outreach experts, educators and students from more than 300 institutions, Sea Grant is able to make an impact at local and state levels, and serve as a powerful national force for change.

Sea Grant invests in high-priority research, addressing issues such as population growth and development in coastal communities; preparation and response to hurricanes, coastal storms and tsunamis; understanding our interactions with the marine environment; fish and shellfish farming; seafood safety; and fisheries management. The results of this research are shared with the public through Sea Grant’s integrated outreach program which brings together the collective expertise of on-the-ground extension agents, educators and communications specialists. The goal is to ensure that vital research results are shared with those who need it most and in ways that are timely, relevant and meaningful. For more information, please visit the Ohio Sea Grant website above or the National Sea Grant College program website.

Joe Lucente is an Associate Professor and Extension Educator for the Ohio Sea Grant College Program.