Category Archives: S.T.O.P.

Save The Oceans from Plastics one of our most important projects to incorporate our 4 point plan to change our habits over plastics.

It’s a Planetary Crisis – UN!!

ocean plastics getty
Getty images

Nations have agreed that the world needs to completely stop plastic waste from entering the oceans.  The third meeting of the UN Environment Assembly takes place 4th-7th December in Nairobi, Kenya with the overarching theme of pollution.

The UN resolution, which is set to be sealed at the Assembly, has no timetable and is not legally binding.  But ministers at the believe it will set the course for much tougher policies and send a clear signal to business.

A stronger motion was rejected after the US would not agree to any specific, internationally agreed goals.  Under the proposal, governments would establish an international taskforce to advise on combating what the UN’s oceans chief has described as a planetary crisis.

Environmentalists say ministers are starting to take plastic waste more seriously, but need to move much more quickly.  Li Lin from the green group WWF said: “At last we are seeing some action on this issue, but we still don’t have the urgency we need. The problem needs solving right now.”

top 10 plastic countries

One contentious issue is the wish of delegates to include businesses on the global taskforce.  Ministers say the problem will not be solved without business, but green groups point out that some firms in the plastics industry have been lobbying against restrictions for decades.

This links directly to Green Waste Enterprises Four Point Plan to fight this massive problem.

1. Educate people of all ages of the importance of recycling

2. Legislate to improve recycling laws in the USA and UK.

3. Take the plastic industry to task

4. Find a replacement for plastic that is biodegradable.

 

Vidar Helgesen, Norway’s environment minister, a leading voice in the talks, told BBC News: “Business is listening to markets and seeing how marine litter is a growing popular concern.  “It’s possibly the fastest-growing environmental problem and it’s therefore a fast-growing problem for business.  “We need to bring on board those companies that want to change things, then look at taxes and regulations to make more companies act sustainably.  “We also need to mobilise businesses like aquaculture that suffer from marine pollution.”

Life in the seas risks irreparable damage from a rising tide of plastic waste, the UN oceans chief has warned.  Lisa Svensson said governments, firms and individual people must act far more quickly to halt plastic pollution.  “This is a planetary crisis,” she said. “In a few short decades since we discovered the convenience of plastics, we are ruining the ecosystem of the ocean.”

She had spoken to BBC News ahead of the UN environment summit in Nairobi.  Delegates at the meeting want tougher action against plastic litter.

Ms Svensson had just been saddened by a Kenyan turtle hospital which treats animals that have ingested waste plastic.  She saw a juvenile turtle named Kai, brought in in an emaciated state by fishermen a month ago because she was floating on the sea surface.  Plastic waste was immediately suspected, because if turtles have eaten too much plastic it bloats their bellies and they can’t control their buoyancy.

The planetary crisis affects many marine creatures

Kai was given laxatives for two weeks to clear out her system, as well as anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic medicines and appetite-boosting vitamins.  After six days no plastic had been spotted in the turtle’s stools and Kai was carried back to the sea to complete her recovery.

‘Heart-breaking’ reality

“It’s a very happy moment,” she said. “But sadly we can’t be sure that Kai won’t be back again if she eats more plastic.  “It’s heart-breaking, but it’s reality. We just have to do much more to make sure the plastics don’t get into the sea in the first place.”

Caspar van de Geer runs the turtle hospital for the group Local Ocean Conservation at Watamu in eastern Kenya.  He had demonstrated earlier how uncannily a plastic film pulsating in the water column mimics the actions of the jellyfish some turtles love to eat.

“Turtles aren’t stupid,” he said. “It’s really difficult to tell the difference between plastics and jellyfish, and it may be impossible for a turtle to learn.”

On a pin board he’s compiled a grid of sealed clear plastic bags like the ones used at airports for cosmetics.  Here they contain the plastic fragments removed from the stomachs of sick turtles. Half of the turtles brought here after eating plastics have died.  A huge table at the hospital is laden with an array of plastic waste collected off local beaches – from fishing nets and nylon ropes to unidentifiable fragments of plastic film.

Each bag contains plastic fragments removed from the stomach of a turtle

Certainly, there has been a flurry of resistance from plastics firms to the bans occurring across Africa.

One UN delegate, who did not want to be named, told the BBC that journalists in some countries were being paid by the plastics industry to write stories about job losses following the plastic bag ban.  In Kenya, a long newspaper report counted job losses from the sudden closure of a plastics plant. But it did not mention the jobs being created in alternatives, such as labour-intensive basketwork, which provides work for the rural poor.

But some governments are standing firm, and the meeting has witnessed individual nations declaring tougher action against single-use plastic bags on their own territory.  South Africa and Cameroon are the latest to declare a tax on the thin bags which strew Africa’s fields and cities.

Nations with a near total ban include Mauretania, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mauritius, Zanzibar and Uganda.

Bangladesh imposed a ban in 2002 after plastic bags blocked drains and contributed to major floods.  Sri Lanka and others adopted a ban for similar reasons, although in Mauretania a ban came because cattle were getting sick from eating plastic.

Whatever the motivation for restrictions, sea creatures will eventually benefit from a slackening in the tide of waste.  The UN’s spokesman Sam Barratt told BBC News: “Of course we would have liked to have gone further, but this meeting has made real progress. There’s now a sense of urgency and energy behind the issue that we haven’t quite seen before.  What is obvious, though, is that the UN can’t solve this problem on its own. We need to do it in partnership with governments, businesses and even individuals.”

Whilst the UN grinds slowly forward, one delegate said that the meeting had been really useful for ministers to share their experiences on action they had taken in their own countries. Laggards were learning from progressives, he said.  He highlighted collaborative action from states along Africa’s Atlantic coast to clamp down on the waste that infests their seas. The UK may be brought into that partnership thanks to its British Overseas Territory of St Helena.

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Green Cleaning – Plastic Free

Do you want to reduce the amount of plastics you use?  There’s a lot more you can do besides taking your own bags to the supermarket or a reusable drinks holder out with you. The cupboard under your kitchen sink is probably packed with products in plastic containers………well why not Make your own cleaning products?
There is really no need to purchase ‘wonder’ pre-packaged cleaning products. Try making your own with products you can buy in bulk, and usually in cardboard. You’ve probably got all the ingredients in your cupboard.

All purpose cleaner: 

Fill an old spray bottle with vinegar and water. 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water.

All purpose disinfectant: 

Fill an old spray bottle with 3 cups of hot water, 3 teaspoons of borax and 10 drops of eucalyptus, lemon or lavender oil.

Clean a burnt fry pan: 

Fill pan with a layer of water, add 1 cup of vinegar, bring to boil. Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons of baking soda (note: it will fizz). Empty the pan and scourer.

Clean microwaves: 

Combine 1/4 cup of vinegar and 1 cup water in a microwavable container. Boil mixture for 3 mins. Let it stand in microwave for 10 mins. Wipe inside of microwave with a damp cloth.

Clean mirrors: 

Pour a little vinegar onto a scrunched up sheet of newspaper and wipe mirror. Dry with a clean sheet of newspaper.

Clean toilets: 

Sprinkle bicarb / baking soda into the bowl. Rinse with vinegar and scrub.

Cleaning rags: 

Instead of buying cleaning rags wrapped in plastic recycle old towels, flannels and sheets that are well passed their used-by date. Cut them us, use, the wash!

Descale your kettle: 

Half fill the kettle with water, drop a couple of slices of lemon and boil. Repeat once. Dry with a cloth.


Fabric softener: 

Add one cup of white vinegar during the rinse cycle. 

Make your drinking glasses shine: 

Soak in a solution of vinegar and water. Dry with a cloth.



Remove rust (from tins): 

Rub with a peeled potato dipped in bicarb / baking soda or salt.

Remove rust (from cutlery): 

Polish cutlery with a paste of bicarb / baking soda and vinegar.


Remove soap scum:

  1. from a shower screenFill an old spray bottle with vinegar and spay the screen. Leave for 3-5 mins then wipe with a clean towel, scrubbing lightly.
  2. from a shower screen: For stubborn screen stains squeeze some homemade toothpaste onto a sponge and scrub.


Soak and whiten nappies/diapers: 

Dissolve 1/4 cup of bicarb / baking soda in warm water. Soak overnight. Wash nappies as normal. Saves you a fortune on disposable nappies/diapers too!!!

Unblock a drain: 

Pour 1/3 cup of bicarb / baking soda into drain followed by 1 cup of white vinegar. Immediately seal the drain with the plug. Leave 1 hour and pour boiling water down the drain.

Washing dishes by hand: 

Add 4tbs of baking soda to the hot water.

Washing dishes in dishwasher: 

Mix 1 cup borax, 1 cup bicarb / baking soda and 1/2 cup salt. Add 1 tablespoon of the mixture in the “soap/tablet” compartment. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to the “rinse agent” compartment.

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Plastic Free July

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Ocean Plastics – How does that affect me?

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Experts are warning that humans “have the most to lose” from the manmade, toxic pollutants that marine life are being exposed to.

A leading scientist reported to Sky News that the millions of tonnes of plastic pollution floating in the world’s oceans could pose a threat to human health.

 Dr Robbie Smith, from the Bermuda Natural History Museum, warned plastic rubbish is attracting other chemical pollutants washed into the sea – such as flame retardants and pesticides – as sunlight breaks plastic down and waves churn it into tiny fragments.

Because the plastic pieces look so similar to the natural prey of marine animals, the chemicals then get passed up the food chain.

Dr Smith said: “The more we look where plastic is and the form it’s in, big or small, the stronger it is integrated into food webs.

“The only place it can go once it is in the food web is up to the top, and we are sitting at the top. So we have the most to lose here.”  Scientists have already found evidence of toxic chemicals in other predators at the top of the marine food chain.

The Sky News team joined the Ocean Tech team on an expedition to the Challenger Bank several miles off the Bermudan coast.  There, the scientists caught a three-metre (9.8ft) tiger shark and took biopsies from its fin for toxicology tests.

Choy Aming, who is part of the team, said: “As animals are digesting, the animals they have eaten have also ingested the toxins, the plastics and manmade pollutants we are putting into the ocean.

“So they work their way up the food chain into the sharks. Typically they have large levels because they are a top predator.”

Bermuda is increasingly alarmed by the amount of rubbish washing up on its shores.

It is on the edge of the Atlantic garbage patch, a swirling mass of plastic that is hundreds of kilometres wide and has been concentrated by the ocean currents.

microplastics
Plastics disintegrate into smaller and smaller pieces

 

Scientists trawling a fine-mesh net have found up to 200,000 pieces per square kilometre.  Most are just millimetres across – fragments of the myriad of plastic items in use today.

Sky News was taken by marine conservationist Chris Flook to Castle Island, a remote part of the Bermudan archipelago. High tide had brought in a sheen of almost invisible microplastic.  He said: “Out in the ocean you would see small fish and jellyfish feeding on stuff that is blue, white and purple.  “And (the plastic) we see here is blue, white and purple.  “This is the nightmare here, when the plastic gets to this size.”

Eight million tonnes of plastic are dumped in the world’s oceans every year. That is the equivalent of one full rubbish lorry’s worth every minute.

But the plastic does not disappear – it just disintegrates into ever smaller pieces over several decades.

By 2050, it is predicted that so much plastic will have accumulated in the world’s oceans that it will weigh more than all the fish combined.

A reminder of our four point plan to tackle this issue and how you can help

 

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World Oceans Day – What’s it got to do with me?

WOD-logo

#WorldOceansDay is on June 8th.  It is an annual celebration of the oceans and how important they are to everyone.

“But what’s that got to do with me?”  I hear you say……”I live miles from the ocean”.  You probably think it’s a bunch of hippy surfers who have nothing in common with you.  Well you are WRONG!!

The oceans are the lifeblood of this planet.  They flow over nearly three quarters of the planet and hold 97% of the planet’s water.  They produce more than half the oxygen in the atmosphere and absorb most of the carbon from it.

No matter how far from the shore that you live, oceans still affect your life and the lives of your families and friends, classmates and colleagues.

The air that you breathe, the water you drink, the food you eat, the products that keep you warm, safe, informed, and entertained — all can come from or be transported by the ocean.

So, how does your plastic bag or bottle get into the ocean, and what is the alternative?

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World Oceans Day – the effects and what YOU can do TODAY.

world oceans day2

World Oceans Day is an annual celebration on June 8th which has been in existence since 2002.

A healthy world ocean is critical to our survival. Every year, World Oceans Day provides a unique opportunity to help protect and conserve the world’s oceans. Oceans are very important:

  • They generate most of oxygen we breathe    
  • They help feed us
  • They regulate our climate
  • They clean the water we drink
  • They offer a pharmacopoeia of medicines
  • They provide limitless inspiration!

If you participate in a World Oceans Day event or activity this year you can help protect the ocean for the future! It’s up to each one of us to help ensure that our ocean is healthy for future generations. World Oceans Day allows us to:

  • Change perspective – encourage individuals to think about what the ocean means to them and what it has to offer all of us with hopes of conserving it for present and the future generations.
  • Learn – discover the wealth of diverse and beautiful ocean creatures and habitats, how our daily actions affect them, and how we are all interconnected.
  • Change our ways – we are all linked to, and through, the ocean! By taking care of your backyard and helping in your community, you are acting as a caretaker of our ocean. Making small modifications to your everyday habits will make a difference, and involving your family, friends, and community will benefit our blue planet even more!
  • Celebrate – whether you live inland or on the coast, we are all connected to the ocean. Take the time to think about how the ocean affects you, and how you affect the ocean, and then organize or participate in activities that celebrate our ocean.

 

If we do nothing, then the future for our Planet is very bleak.  Henderson Island, an uninhabited island in the South Pacific is littered with the highest density of plastic waste anywhere in the world, according to a study.  Part of the UK’s Pitcairn Islands group, the island has an estimated 37.7 million pieces of debris on its beaches.

37 million trash

The island is near the centre of an ocean current, meaning it collects much rubbish from boats and South America.  The joint Australian and British study said the rubbish amounted to 671 items per square metre and a total of 17 tonnes.

“A lot of the items on Henderson Island are what we wrongly refer to as disposable or single-use,” said Dr Jennifer Lavers from the University of Tasmania.

henderson island

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, described how remote islands act as a “sink” for the world’s rubbish.

In addition to fishing items, Henderson Island was strewn with everyday things including toothbrushes, cigarette lighters and razors. Dr Lavers added  “Land crabs are making their homes inside bottle caps, containers and jars,”

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“At first it looks a little bit cute, but it’s not. This plastic is old, it’s sharp, it’s brittle and toxic.”  A large number of hard hats of “every shape, colour and size” were also discovered, the marine scientist said.

It is hoped that people will “rethink their relationship with plastic”.

Scale of waste

Henderson Island is listed by Unesco as a coral atoll with a relatively unique ecology, notable for 10 plant and four bird species.

It is 190km (120 miles) from Pitcairn Island, about 5,000km from Chile, and sits near the centre of the South Pacific Gyre – a massive rotating current.

The condition of the island highlighted how plastic debris has affected the environment on a global scale, Dr Lavers said.

“Almost every island in the world and almost every species in the ocean is now being shown to be impacted one way or another by our waste,” she said.

“There’s not really any one person or any one country that gets a free pass on this.”

She said plastic was devastating to oceans because it was buoyant and durable.

The research was conducted by the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, and the Centre for Conservation Science at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Courtesy of Greg Dunlop, BBC

On World Oceans Day make your first move towards a cleaner, safer ocean by taking the simple step of reducing your use of single-use plastics.  Here are 10 simple ways YOU can make difference TODAY!

use less plastic

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Biodegradable Plastics – Solution or Problem?

UN’s top environmental scientist warns bottles and bags do not break down easily and sink, as report highlights the ubiquity of plastic debris in oceans.

Biodegradable plastic water bottles and shopping bags are a false solution to the ubiquitous problem of litter in the oceans, the UN’s top environmental scientist has warned.

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Plastic debris washed up on shoreline.  Photo by Paul Quayle/Alamy

Most plastic is extremely durable, leading to large plastic debris and “microplastics” to spread via currents to oceans from the Arctic to the Antarctic, a UN report found.

Greener plastics that breakdown in the environment have been marketed as a sustainable alternative that could reduce the vast amount of plastic waste that ends up in the sea after being dumped. But Jacqueline McGlade, chief scientist at the UN Environment Programme, told the Guardian that these biodegradable plastics were not a simple solution.

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“It’s well-intentioned but wrong. A lot of plastics labelled biodegradable, like shopping bags, will only break down in temperatures of 50C and that is not the ocean. They are also not buoyant, so they’re going to sink, so they’re not going to be exposed to UV and break down,” she said.

 

Speaking at the the UN environment assembly in Nairobi, where 170 countries met in May 2016 and passed, among many others, a resolution on microplastics, she added: “We have detected plastics in places as far away as the Chagos Islands [in the Indian Ocean]. Even if you are remote, you are not safe from it.”

un-assembly

More than 300m tonnes of plastic were produced in 2014 and that is expected to swell to nearly 2,000m tonnes by 2050 on current trends, the UN report said. While the exact amount that reaches the oceans is not known, the report concluded: “plastic debris, or litter, in the ocean is now ubiquitous.”

The spread of everything from large plastic debris such as fishing gear which dolphins can become entangled with, to fragments smaller than 5mm in diameter known as microplastics, has ecological, social and economics costs.

Jellyfish, for example, are using plastic as a habitat and to hitch a ride, allowing them to extend their range. The spread of jellyfish is considered bad news by experts because of the amount of plankton they eat, taking away food from fish and other marine life.

“There is a moral argument that we should not allow the ocean to become further polluted with plastic waste, and that marine littering should be considered a ‘common concern of humankind’,” the report’s authors wrote.

The main solution to plastics in the ocean is better waste collection and recycling, particularly in the developing world, the UN said. But McGlade said that some of the biodegradable additives in plastic to allow it to break down made it harder to recycle, and potentially harmful in the natural environment.

“When you start adding all of that [additives], when it becomes waste, they [the additives] become the enemy of the environment. As consumers we need to think of the use of plastic,” she said.

The UN report said that it was only in the past decade that plastics in the ocean had been taken seriously. “Warnings of what was happening were reported in the scientific literature in the early 1970s, with little reaction from much of the scientific community.”

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Ocean Pollution Causes Crabs To Live Out of Bottle Caps

Blueberry hermit crabs in Okinawa, Japan, are resourceful little creatures. Like many beaches around the world, the shores where they live and breed have become progressively covered in plastic.

Hermit crabs, unlike other crabs, don’t make their own shells. They look for abandoned shells in their surrounding habitats, often going through multiple shells in a lifetime as they grow.

The shells have to be big enough for a crab to retreat into, snug enough to not fall off, and handy enough so a crab can easily lug it around.

It turns out that bottle caps fulfill these requirements, and hermit crabs are now frequently choosing them for their homes.

If you stroll along the shores of Okinawa, you can see crabs wearing caps from detergent and soda bottles.

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It looks like a surreal art exhibit, a sardonic attempt to show how entwined our lives have become with plastic, or even how animals will take up the mantle of consumption in a post-human world.

Photographer Shawn Miller set out to photograph this strange phenomenon of environmental adaptation to give people a new way to think about the problem of plastic waste.

“Over the years,” Miller told Atlas Obscura, “I continued to find more crabs with trash homes. I noticed more trash piling up on our shorelines searching for hermit crabs and realized it was a serious problem.”

Globally, there are an estimated five trillion pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans.

Plastic poses numerous threats to marine life. It is often mistaken for food and ends up disrupting an animal’s health. It leaches toxic chemicals into the water, breaks down into smaller and smaller particles that ultimately blanket the ocean floors, and its accumulation can cause species to disperse from their habitats.

A few years ago, images of dead seagulls with bellies full of plastic junk swept across the Internet. The seagulls had consumed so much indigestible plastic that they eventually starved to death because their stomachs were full.

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article originally published courtesy of globalcitizen.org.  Pictures by Shawn Miller.

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Plastic Bags are Rubbish!!!

According to a 2015 report published in Science magazine, it is estimated that about eight million tonnes of plastic ends up in global waters each year.  The UK’s Marine Conservation Society say that in just one weekend, they found over 5,000 plastic bags on UK beaches.  Without the hundreds of volunteer groups that regularly clean up the beaches, the majority of these bags would end up in the ocean.

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Although the bags do not decompose, they do break down into smaller and smaller pieces and are then, in turn, eaten by birds and marine mammals.  Some creatures can become entangled in the plastic bags which restricts their ability to feed and they die.

turtle plastic

In order to try to combat this, the UK government has introduced a levy (currently 5p per bag) on single use plastic bags in large stores.  Wales was the first in 2011, followed by Northern Ireland in 2013 and Scotland in 2014.  England finally came into line in October 2015 and it has been reported that in the past six months the number of plastic bags used in seven major supermarkets has fallen to 640 million from an annual figure of 7.6 billion!!  If this trend continues, it would represent a drop in usage of 83%.

Overall, according to government figures, large retailers (any store employing more than 250 staff) have sold 1.1 billion single use plastic bags raising £41.3m, of which £29.2m was donated to good causes such as environmental, education, health, arts, charities and other voluntary groups.

This is fantastic news as it means that marine life is safer, communities are cleaner and the bags that don’t end up in the ocean will not clog up our landfill sites for hundreds, possible thousands of years.

 

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Beauties Save The World

An all-female team of researchers and environmentalists board a yacht and head for the Caribbean. The 14 women come from all over the world and from a variety of backgrounds: there are marine scientists, biologists, geographers, filmmakers, artists, photographers, sailors, travellers and educators. United in their love of the ocean and the shared commitment to protect it from manmade pollution, these women are doing something about the problem. They set sail aboard the “Sea Dragon” to check the levels of contamination in and around the Caribbean.+

Their main interest is micro plastic, a little known threat that keeps accumulating in our oceans, poisoning wildlife and endangering people. Because it’s so small, it’s still a little known environmental hazard. Nevertheless, these plastic pieces have a devastating impact on sea life and they bite back! The careless human race runs the risk of eating the tiny plastic particles in contaminated fish. This type of plastic tends to accumulate in what are called “oceanic gyres”- circular currents. Unheard of until recently, they were discovered by the crew’s leader, Emily Penn.+

These eco explorers believe they can make a difference and contribute to cleaning up the world’s oceans. They are conducting research both at sea and ashore. They’re also educating kids and adults about what can be done to reduce the use of plastic. Confident that awareness is the first step towards change and that something can always be done to reduce the harmful consequences; they hope to inspire and empower others. After all, the health of the oceans is crucial for the health of the whole planet. These 14 very different but equally dedicated ocean advocates, by their own example, are encouraging others to pull together to protect the environment

The message in this documentary echoes our own efforts to STOP (Save The Oceans from Plastic).  If enough people and organizations come together, we CAN combat this growing threat to the health of our planet and ourselves.

If you would like to help us in our cause please click here – you can help by either donating as little as $5 or by sharing this post or our campaign with your friends and family.

Find out more about our STOP campaign

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Making Waste Worthwhile