Keep Blount Beautiful Awarded $5,000 Grant from The UPS Foundation

Grant Provides Funding to Plant Trees in Blount County to Strengthen the Natural Infrastructure

By Brittney Whipple

Keep Blount Beautiful received a $5,000 grant from The UPS Foundation as part of the 2018 Keep America Beautiful/UPS Community Tree and Recovery Tree Planting Grant Program.

Keep Blount Beautiful’s grant, to be used for The Kids Keep Blount Beautiful program, is one of 19 grants totaling $100,000 distributed throughout the country to Keep America Beautiful’s community-based affiliates. It’s estimated that the grant recipients’ projects will result in more than 1,200 trees being planted in support of local tree-planting initiatives.

The Kids Keep Blount Beautiful is a campaign designed to give young Blount County citizens a sense of ownership over their community by providing them the opportunity to participate in community greening and beautification projects. The campaign aims to address both the lack of environmental education in the local schools and the need for community greening with native plants and trees. With the funds from the UPS grant, Keep Blount Beautiful will perform native tree plantings at two Blount County Middle Schools, Carpenter’s Middle School and Eagleton Middle School. The trees will serve as one step in a long-term campus revitalization plan.

“Ultimately, a generation raised with environmental values and a sense of community pride will have a significant positive impact on the future of Blount County. Through this project, we want our middle school students to understand the positive effects of beautification and the importance of taking care of our community, as well as improve the native infrastructure of the campus with native species,” said Brittney Whipple, Executive Director at Keep Blount Beautiful.

Since 2011, Keep America Beautiful and The UPS Foundation have worked together to plant more than 11,200 trees throughout the country. The collaboration with Keep America Beautiful is part of The UPS Foundation’s global tree-planting initiative intended to help sequester levels of carbon dioxide through strategic plantings; emphasize the importance of native tree planting; or produce fruit from fruit trees for local consumption.

“Since 2003, UPS is honored to have worked with Keep America Beautiful, an organization whose mission is to inspire and educate people to take action every day to improve and beautify their community environment,” said Eduardo Martinez, president of The UPS Foundation and chief diversity and inclusion officer at UPS. “The UPS Foundation also advocates for creating more resilient communities. Through our Global Forestry Initiative, we plan to fund the planting of 15 million trees by the end of 2020. Awarding these grants to Keep America affiliates helps us make a real impact on environmental issues.”

The UPS Community Tree and Recovery Tree Planting Grant Program is one element of The UPS Foundation’s commitment to fund the planting of “15 Million Trees By 2020” in urban and rural areas around the globe. Last year, the program funded the planting of more than 2.7 million trees, bringing the number of total trees planted to over 12.5 million – 84 percent to its goal. Additionally, this past year two new countries – Austria and Nigeria – were added to the program. UPS has now planted trees in 56 countries around the world.

Plastic Recycling: It's not Enough

By Rachel Grubbe

Recycling is great, but it is not an end-all solution to fighting plastic waste. After you toss your plastic in the recycling bin, it has a complicated journey ahead of it. Plastic recycling is not a perfect system, not all plastic is equal. There are various qualities and grades of plastic that must be sorted in order for recycling to take place. Through errors in plastic sorting systems, thousands of pounds of plastic end up in the landfill every year.

Once all that plastic is sorted, it is broken down into tiny pieces and melted down. When plastic is melted its quality is greatly reduced, it loses clarity and flexibility. So, basically what this means is, recycled plastic is always down-cycled. Down-cycling does not eliminate the need to source new material. Most recycled plastic quality is too poor to create new products, so it is mixed with new plastic in the production process to created “recycled material.”

So, how does plastic stack up to other recyclable materials? It’s not great.

Glass and aluminum can be recycled over and over again, without losing quality. Plastic can only be recycled once or twice before it is completely useless. Also, plastic recycling is alarmingly low. Only 10 percent of plastic material generated in the US is recycled. Glass is 80 percent recycled.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Consumer habits regarding once-use plastics are killing our planet. Plastic bottles, coffee cups, straws, grocery bags. All bad. Cautious consumption can greatly reduce the demand for plastic production.

Plastic consumption is not just a problem that should be on our radar for the future. It is a problem now. The strain plastic puts on the environment and our health is overwhelming. For example:

  • Plastic releases harmful chemicals that have been found to alter hormones

  • Wildlife ingest and get caught in plastic, especially marine life.

  • Buried plastic can leach chemicals into the groundwater

  • Producing a plastic bottle generates 100 times the toxin emissions than producing a glass bottle

Even though plastic recycling has many faults it is still very important to recycle. Plastic water bottles won’t ever be a water bottle again, but they may become a park bench, or carpet, or even clothes! At KBB we like to refer to the Three Rs. Reduce, reuse, and recycle. Reducing and reusing are far more beneficial to the planet than recycling. But, don’t stop recycling! Remember to reduce your consumption habits and reuse that plastic you already have.

5 Easy Ways to Conserve Energy this Winter

By Rachel Grubbe

Now that the temperature is dropping, it is time think about how you can be more sustainable this winter. It takes a lot of energy to heat your home during the winter months. TVA reports a spike in energy usage every year starting in December. There are plenty of ways to conserve energy and save money on your electric bill this season!

Open the curtains during the day

The sun will heat your home while you are away during the day. Take advantage of the free passive solar energy! On a sunny day this can really make a big difference. Just be sure your windows don’t let cold air in.


Put on some extra layers

Feeling chilly at home? Before you turn the heat up think about what you are wearing. Trade the t-shirt for a sweater and see how much warmer you feel. Bundling up will save you from turning up the heat a few extra degrees.

Turn down the heat when you are away

If you aren't home, why crank the heat? But be careful, constant cooling and reheating will actually raise your electric bill. It’s best to change the thermostat no more than 8 degrees at a time.

Use an energy efficient space heater

If you spend a lot of time in one room, try heating that room with a space heater instead of heating the whole house. You can keep your thermostat at a lower temperature and still be perfectly warm.

Seal up your windows

You won't be opening your windows in the winter, so you can just seal them for insulation. Many homes have windows that leak cold air. If you haven’t done this before, it is really easy. Just head over to a hardware or home improvement store and pick up window insulation kit. Once it warms up in the spring you can just peel off the insulation and open your windows again.

Blount County to Accept Household Hazardous Waste Year-Round

By Brittney Whipple

Beginning on November 15, 2018, Household Hazardous Waste will be collected at the Blount County Recycling Center, 331 Levi St, Maryville. The recycling center is open to Blount County residents Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday 8am-4:30pm. This permanent Household Hazardous Waste bin will replace the one-day collection events brought to the county by TDEC each year.

Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) is any leftover or unwanted household product that is flammable, corrosive, reactive, or toxic. It is important to properly dispose of these items in order to not pollute the environment. Below is a list of items that will be accepted in the Household Hazardous Waste bin. Please do not bring any of the unaccepted items to the center.

NOTE: The Blount County Recycling Center also accepts OIL based paint for disposal. Click for more information on Household Hazardous Waste disposal in Blount County.

Acceptable Items

Automotive and Marine Products
• oil and fuel additives
• grease and rust solvents, naval jelly
• carburetor and fuel injector cleaners
• starter fluids
• body putty
• antifreeze / coolant
• gasoline (in approved container which MUST be left)

Home Maintenance / Improvement Products
• used strippers and thinners
• adhesives
• driveway sealant
• roofing tar
• wallpaper remover

Home Lawn and Garden Products
• pesticides
• fertilizers
• wood preservatives

• pool chemicals
• photo processing chemicals
• aerosols / compressed gas
• mercury thermostats and thermometers
• fluorescent tubes
• compact fluorescent bulbs
• needles and sharps (in a puncture-proof container)

Unacceptable Items

Medical / Biological
• infectious wastes
• dead animals
• any waste from a doctor's office, clinic, or veterinarian's office

Explosives / Ammunition
• fireworks
• military ordnance
• gun powder
• ammunition

• smoke detectors
• radium paint

Business / Institutional Waste
• no businesses, large or small
• no colleges or universities
• no schools
• no hospitals
• no home improvement or painting contractors
• no agribusiness

•empty containers of any kind
•automotive gas tanks
•alkaline batteries - may be thrown away in the trash
•electronics – contact your local Solid Waste Department for guidance
•paint – contact your local Solid Waste Department for guidance

Skip the Wrapping Paper this Holiday Season!

By Brittney Whipple

The holiday season is about to be in full swing, and along with picking out gifts comes the mindless act of purchasing of wrapping paper. Your gifts need to be wrapped, right? Although this is true, using rolls and rolls of traditional wrapping paper is wasteful. Before you roll your eyes, think about it: who likes spending money on wrapping paper, gift bags, and gift boxes anyway? Here are some tips to decrease the amount of wrapping paper entering our landfill this holiday season, but also to save your money for what's under the paper.


Newspaper is an easy and unique way to wrap gifts. Now is the time to start saving up the newspaper you read each day to use as wrapping paper this holiday season. You could also use the coupon advertisements you receive in the mail. After unwrapping, the newspaper can be recycled as normal!


Paper grocery bags

Wrapping gifts in paper bags is another way to use what you already have. If this is your preferred choice at the grocery store, save them next time you unload your groceries. Remember to recycle them after!

Shoe boxes

If you have a box laying around, such as from a delivery, new appliance, or shoes, consider using it to store your gift instead of buying gift boxes. Again, be sure to recycle the boxes after unwrapping.

Skip the bows!

Bows and ribbons are pretty, but they are also wasteful and expensive. Consider skipping the bows on your gifts this year.


Gift bags usually don’t get worn out with one use. Once the gift is opened, the bag is still in perfect condition! Save gift bags you receive and use them next time you need to wrap a gift instead of buying a new one. The same thing can be done with tissue paper; if it is not ripped, simply flatten it out and fold it for reuse again in the future. Bows and ribbons are also usually in good condition after the present is unwrapped and can be reused as well.


If you MUST by new, buy recyclable

Traditional wrapping paper is often covered in non-paper additives and should not be recycled. Instead, purchase brown paper and paper bags so they can be recycled after use. You could even color on the brown paper and make it unique!

International Mountain Day: Why Mountains Deserve a Holiday

By Rachel Grubbe

What is my favorite holiday this time of year? That's right, International Mountain Day.

Out here in East Tennessee we really do love our Smoky Mountains. International Mountain Day falls on December 11th. It is a much deserved holiday to celebrate and draw attention to the importance of all mountains.

Maybe you haven’t heard, but mountains are a really big deal.

Over half of the human population relies on mountains for food, water, and clean energy. Mountains make up about a quarter of all land space on earth. AND mountains provide about 70 percent of the world's freshwater.


But, I have bad news. Global Warming is doing some serious damage to our mountains.

In most places in America we are incredibly privileged, we turn on the faucet and clean water comes out. Without mountains we would be seriously thirsty. Mountains are basically nature’s water towers, storing water in ice and snow. It is so important to recognize that fresh mountain water is a finite resource that should never be taken advantage of. Without emphasis on good environmental practices, we can say goodbye to clean freshwater. I am talking about a global water crisis.

Global Warming is bad-news-bears for every ecosystem on the planet, but it not the only reason mountains are in danger.

Agricultural practices in the mountains are less than ideal. I’ll just outline a few big issues:

  • Land overuse

  • Removal of vegetation coverage

  • Fertilizer and insecticide use

If you don’t know why that is bad, let me fill you in.

Water runoff comes down the mountains and enters the water systems below. Without proper vegetation coverage, a heavy rain will cause erosion and mudslides. As all that rainwater comes down the mountain, unimpeded by vegetation coverage, it brings everything with it. That includes fertilizer and insecticide. Those substances pollute all of the lakes and rivers in the watershed. Contaminated water leads to an increase in the spread of diseases. Estimated 840,000 people die every year from unsafe drinking water.


So who can fix some of these issues? No seriously, World Health Organization (WHO) can help fix these issues. WHO is responsible for setting water quality regulations, and testing water quality. WHO’s water quality standards protect public health and reduce risk of health issues caused by poor water quality. WHO is working on the water quality issue, but there is only so much one organization can do.

You can help too! Celebrate my favorite holiday by focusing on reducing your environmental impact and carbon footprint. Not just on International Mountain Day, but everyday!

How Your Morning Routine is Harming the Environment

By Rachel Grubbe

On a typical day most of us wake up, take a shower, have a cup of coffee, then hop in our car and head to work. It seems like an incredibly harmless routine. The truth is, many of the simple things we do everyday have a harmful impact on our environment. But don’t worry! You don't have to throw out your entire morning routine, you just have to make some adjustments.

Be honest, how long are your morning showers? I get it, I really do. Nothing better than a hot shower, especially on a chilly winter morning. I’m sure I am not the first person who has said that long hot showers are a serious conservation no-no. Even as a grown adult I can still hear my dad’s voice shouting, “Hurry up, you are wasting water!” Turns out he was right. A standard shower runs 2.5 gallons of water every minute. The reality is we all let 2.5 gallons of water go down the drain before we even get in! That is some serious habitual water waste. Unfortunately, wasting water isn’t even half of the problem. It takes an immense amount of energy to heat the water for your shower. In an average American home, the water heater works hardest for the shower. So, at this point I have convinced you not to shower, right? Do not quit showering, that’s gross. But there are some things you can do!

Get a new shower head: Your shower head is probably spitting out way more water than you need. Look for an EPA-certified shower head to cut back on water waste.

Turn the heat down: Give your water heater a break. Don’t crank the hot water all the way up.

Get out of the shower: Has it been 10 minutes? 15 minutes? Okay you are done, you are clean. Get out.


Okay now that you are squeaky clean, it’s time for that morning cup of coffee. People are drinking more coffee than ever, we are busy and tired we need our coffee. Basic economics would tell you that an increase in demand for coffee leads to an increase in production of coffee. So how is the coffee industry doing that? Through the process of deforestation, water contamination, and damaging soil quality. So, none of that is great. And now that you spent so much time in the shower you have to take your coffee to go. 16 billion disposable coffee cups are used every year. That 6.5 million trees! Alright coffee lovers, here is what you have to do.

Buy sustainably sourced coffee: Look for shade grown-coffee. This growing technique has been found to be more environmentally friendly.

Use a reusable coffee mug: Buy one, use it forever. Plus, reusable travel mugs will keep your coffee hot.

Drink less coffee: Easy or not, drinking less coffee will help protect our planet.

Is your commute harming the earth? Probably. There are 230 million cars on the road in the U.S. and not everyone is driving a Tesla. Car pollution is a top contributor to global warming. Vehicle emissions in the U.S. make up one-fifth of all warming pollution. Driving impacts more than the air, it also causes harm to the water and soil! Runoff from the roads ends up in our streams, impacting our water and soil quality. ALSO, people are more likely to litter while in a car. I don’t know if you have heard, but us at KBB really hates littering. Help the earth out and drive less.

Share your commute: Catch a ride to work with a coworker. Saves on gas and money.

Walk or ride a bike: Not going too far? No one said you have to commute in your car.

Drive an environmentally friendly car: Next time you are in the market for a vehicle, opt for something smaller, or maybe even a hybrid car.

It is always important to consider how our actions are impacting the environment. Adjust some of your daily habits to protect our planet.

America Recycles Day- What is it all about?

By Brittney Whipple

What is America Recycles Day?

On Saturday, November 3rd, Keep Blount Beautiful (KBB) will be hosting its annual America Recycles Day collection with the help of many different partnering organizations. This drive-through event, located at First Baptist Maryville (202 W Lamar Alexander Pkwy) will provide Blount County residents the opportunity to conveniently drop off many hard-to-recycle items so they can be disposed of properly.

America Recycles Day is a Keep America Beautiful Initiative to promote and celebrate recycling in the United States. Each November, affiliates all over the county host events to encourage and increase recycling. Keep Blount Beautiful likes to celebrate America Recycles Day by partnering with organizations that recycle or reuse nontraditional items to provide a convenient way for residents to clean out their home and get rid of these items responsibly.  

So, what’s being collected?

E-Cycle of Knoxville has been a dedicated sponsor in both KBB’s America Recycles Day collection as well as its Earth Day Recycling collection in the Spring. They collect many items including TVs, monitors, cell phones, home electronics, small appliances, and computers at our events. Responsibly disposing of electronics is important to the health of our planet because they contain many hazardous materials that can leach into our ground, impacting our food and water supply. When they are disposed of correctly, the different parts of the electronic, including plastic, glass, and metal (such as copper, tin, aluminum, and gold!), can be separated and recycled, and many parts can be reused in new electronic products. Learn more about E-Cycle of Knoxville.

KBB also likes to provide the opportunity to dispose of secure documents that contain personal information and therefore are not safe to simply throw in your regular recycling bin. This year, Spectra Recycling will provide secure bins to collect secure documents. These documents will be safely and securely transferred to their facility and then shredded to be made into new items, such as toilet paper.

KARM has also been a dedicated participant in both of KBB’s annual recycling events. They provide large bins for residents to drop off clothes and shoes that are still in good condition for others to use. Donating clothes that are still in good condition is a great way to reuse rather than throw away.

My Frugal Home regularly participates with KBB’s annual recycling events as well. They collect an array of items that they can reuse for different purposes. This year, they will be collecting chandeliers, fabric, hardcover Reader’s Digests, lighting globes and sconces, used candles, and coffee mugs. If you have any of these items, they do not have to take up space in the landfill; the creative minds that make up My Frugal Home will put them to good use. Learn more about My Frugal Home.

The Blount County Fire Department will be collecting children’s coats that are in good condition. These coats are for their Coats for our Community program to support those in need of coats this fall and winter season. This is another great example of extending the life of an item by reusing it. Learn more about Coats for our Community.

The Lions Club of Maryville will be collecting eyeglasses to redistribute around the world. If you no longer need your eyeglasses, someone else might! Learn more about Lions Club eyeglass recycling.

Year round, KBB is dedicated to keeping residents up to date on recycling information in our county. For reference on where many recyclable and hazardous items can be disposed of, please visit our website

Information on Household Hazardous Waste Disposal.

Information on Recycling in Blount County.

Harmful Effects of Cigarette Litter

By Rachel Grubbe

Cigarette litter is a HUGE problem. But, how can that be?... Cigarette butts are so small. Cigarettes are the number one most littered item in the world! Cigarette litter makes up 38 percent of all collected litter. So, what’s up with that? Why are so many smokers tossing their cigarette butts on the ground?

Keep America Beautiful reports that 77 percent of people don’t even consider cigarettes on the ground to be litter! Cigarette litter is so common it almost seems that they are part of the natural environment. But, we are here to tell you that cigarettes on the ground  are, without a doubt, litter.

So what will happen if I throw a cigarette butt on the ground? Short answer, nothing. Seriously, nothing will happen to it, it will never biodegrade. Although, cigarette butts appear to be made of cotton, they are actually made of plastic fibers. Organic decomposers have no ability to breakdown plastic. So, those little cigarette filters will hang around for the rest of the earth’s existence.


The most important fact to remember about litter is that it will not stay where you put it. Cigarettes contain toxic waste, and once that waste is introduced to the environment, it will contaminate the water. Runoff carries litter from the streets, to the storm drains, to our lakes and rivers. The substances that leach out are causing damage to plants and animals, harming the delicate ecosystem we rely on for life.

Throwing cigarettes on the ground is dangerous. If a cigarette is not put out then tossed away it becomes a fire hazard. Approximately 90,000 fires are started by cigarettes each year. Almost every roadside fire is caused by cigarette litter. Smoky the Bear does not approve.


So, lets think about it. Cigarettes on the ground are harmful, dangerous, and ugly. That’s litter! We have all seen it; driving down the road and someone flings a cigarette out the window. It drives us at KBB crazy!

At Keep Blount Beautiful, we have both car and pocket ashtrays for you to use to prevent cigarette litter. Just let us know if you would like one!

Why Do People Volunteer?

By Brittney Whipple


Like most nonprofit organizations, Keep Blount Beautiful (KBB) relies on volunteers to achieve its mission. Although volunteering is often seen as all giving and no getting, we know that is not true; When volunteering your time to an organization you will always get something in return. There are many different reasons why people volunteer, and they all get the work done.

To give back to their community

Volunteering your time is an excellent way to connect with your community. Here in Blount County, we have many organizations that work towards many different causes, and they all need volunteers. If you or any of your family/friends have benefited from an organization’s efforts or appreciate what they do, volunteering may be your chance to give back!

To support a mission they truly believe in

When people learn about an organization with a mission that aligns with their personal values, it makes them want to be a part of the action. Often times, monetary donations are not possible for many people, so they choose to give their time instead. The good news is, donating time rather than money is just as valuable, if not more.

Do you believe in a clean, green, and beautiful Blount County? Volunteering with KBB is a great way to take action and show your support!

To develop new skills and gain experience

Volunteering could be the perfect chance to develop a new skill, learn more about a new topic, and gain experience serving the community.

Volunteering will give you a whole new perspective on the world around you. For instance, volunteers that participate in our litter pickup events are often shocked at some of the things they find littering our community and realize it is a real problem.

Volunteers can feel free to ask KBB staff about topics such as litter or waste reduction at our events, as we love sharing information with the community. At KBB, our goals are not to only clean up an area in Blount County or provide recycling opportunities, but to open our volunteers’ eyes and encourage them to share what they have learned with others.

Don’t be humble! Significant time spent volunteering keeps your resume fresh and looks impressive to potential employers. Employers like to meet candidates that have connections with different organizations and have gained hands-on, real world experience.

To meet new people or bond with family and friends
Volunteering is a great way to meet other people with similar interests as you. When like-minded individuals come together, they will achieve a goal as a team and develop relationships.

Volunteering is also a great bonding activity for your family and friends- and it’s free! We love seeing families and children at our events because it means younger residents are being educated on environmental topics and the importance of volunteering.

To keep busy

Volunteering is a great use of your free time, especially when you are trying to become more active in the community.  If you are not able to make an event but still want to use your free time volunteering with us, we can help you organize your own cleanup and lend you supplies- just ask!

To earn community service hours

There is nothing wrong with this! The need to earn community service hours gives you the opportunity to find and learn about organizations in your area that align with things you care about. Who knows, maybe you will learn something new, meet a friend, gain a new skill or interest, and have a good time!

If you would like information on volunteering with KBB, you can view the upcoming events and programs listed on our website. You can also contact our office at 865-681-4809 or

You can also stay up to date by following us on our Facebook page and by signing up for our E-Newsletter.

Aluminum Recycling: Benefits and Challenges

By Rachel Grubbe

Every year a whopping 200 billion aluminum cans are produced for beer and soda, which is about 6,700 cans per second. But, only around half of all aluminum cans in American are recycled. United States aluminum recycling hardly even compares with other countries. Both Japan and Brazil recover over 80 percent of all aluminum produced. The aluminum cans that do not get recycled are just waste. The oceans are already filled with pollutants, and landfills are quickly reaching capacity.

We can do better!

Aluminum is an incredible material for beverage packaging. It is significantly lighter than glass, so shipping aluminum cans is more energy efficient. In fact, aluminum is considered the most efficient packaging material for shipping. And, aluminum recycling saves 95 percent of energy used to create new cans! Aluminum cans are also 100 percent recyclable, and can be returned to the shelf in only 60 days!

Aluminum recycling.png

Alcoa was been involved in aluminum recycling since the 1960’s and is always trying to be more sustainable. Last year Alcoa recycled 382,000 metric tons of scrap, and reduced energy usage by 5.7 percent. Alcoa also operates with 75 percent renewable energy!


But, Alcoa isn’t immune to sustainability related challenges.

The demand for aluminum is up 5 percent from last year. It is challenging for a companies to remain sustainable when consumer demand is so high. The industry needs to expend more resources to meet the high levels of demand. Increased production means increased energy usage, as well as waste creation. According to the 2017 Sustainability report, Alcoa is currently equip to manage the increase in demand, but still considers this a challenge the company will face now and in years to come.

Challenge yourself, this month can you recycle every aluminum can you use?

The Importance of Environmental Education

By Rachel Grubbe

Environmental Education is more than teaching kids about recycling. It encourages students to explore and think about the natural world around them.  Students learn about issues impacting the environment, and can think about how change is made.

Environmental Education is especially important for children. It is necessary for kids to understand the basics when is comes to the environment, so they can have a healthier childhood, and lead a more sustainable life as they get older.

American children do not spend nearly enough time outside. The National Recreation and Parks association found that kids today only spend four to seven minutes participating in unreconstructed outdoor play time per day. While kids spend seven and a half hours using electronic media during the day. How are children going to learn the importance of environmental education without experiencing it?

What can we do to increase the prevalence of Environmental Education?

What was KBB doing to support Environmental Education last month?

  • KBB spent a Wednesday morning at Rockford Elementary teaching the 3rd grade class about storm water
  • We could be found at Montvale Kindergarten helping the students learn about litter, because it's never too early!
  • KBB was at Friday Night Lights with environmental trivia (and temporary tattoos) for the kids!

3 Interesting Facts about Solar Energy that You Didn't Already Know

By Rachel Grubbe

What's the deal with solar energy? Let me shine a little light on the subject. Solar power is energy from the sun that is converted into thermal or electrical energy. There are various was to harness solar power, so we can use it to provide power to our homes, cars, and work places. 

Solar Energy is the Cleanest form of Energy

Unlike fossil fuels harvesting and using solar energy does not create pollution. Harvesting fossil fuels really takes a toll on our planet; damaging wildlife habitats, polluting the water and the air, and increases the rate of global warming.  Solar energy is gathered from the sun’s rays, not from mining or drilling. And solar energy does not need to be burned to create energy, so there is no pollution being emitted to the air.

There are Multiple Ways to Harness Solar Energy

The ever changing world of technology has given us some amazingly cool ways to use the sun's energy.

·       Solar Thermal Energy is the collection of energy from the sun’s heat. Thermal technology can be used to heat or cool buildings.

·       Photovoltaic Cells allow sunlight to be directly converted into power; Electric road signs often use this technology. A solar panel is position on top of or near the sign to prove immediate power to the electric road sign.

·       Passive Solar Energy is the direct use of the sun’s energy for warmth. During the winter, drawing the curtains back allows the sun to provide passive solar energy while you are away at work. It is a great way to save on heating cost.

The Largest Solar Park in the World is being built in Pavagada, India

            The current largest solar park in the world is located in California, the solar park being constructed in Pavagada is expected to be 14 times larger! The new solar park could bring clean energy to the millions of people who lack power in India. Currently India’s major source of power comes from coal. 58% coal, 10% wind and only 5% solar. India intends to have 100 gigawatts of solar capacity by the year 2022.

Solar energy is arguably the best way to power homes and businesses. There is an endless source of solar energy, and it does not cause harm to the earth to harvest it. So, why do we use anything else?

How to Deal with a Dump?

by Mallory Leonard

Anna Marie Montrony is the citizen who reported the illegal dump at Green Acres last week. She has lived in Blount County for two years, having moved here from Long Island. She is a hairdresser and cosmetologist by trade and currently works for U-haul. Anna Marie lives in one of the apartment complexes behind the flea market, and she’s been trying to get it taken care of since she moved in.

She has tried to engage various governmental departments but received no response. “I felt like nobody was doing anything about it. People were like ‘Yeah it bothers us but there’s not much we can do about it.’” Then last week she decided to call the news and Keep Blount Beautiful, both of whom came out to the dump almost immediately.

“I got to a point where I said ‘Something has to be done.’ It’s becoming a nuisance. There are flies and mosquitoes and possums and raccoons and everything. It just keeps getting larger and larger. The beds, the couches. People getting rid of metal and tires and everything they want to get rid of.”

Anna Marie witnesses people dumping every single day, mostly at night. “I care about my community. I care about the air quality. This is a beautiful area but it’s getting run down.”

When the wind blows across the dump, the stench goes right into Anna Marie’s home. She’s fed up with the dump, and so is Scott Hammer, the manager of the flea market.

He’s been dealing with the problem for years. He’s set up cameras to capture license plates, but dumpers often see them and knock them down. When he has caught people and informed the police, he’s been told that law enforcement can only make them leave the property.

On some occasions, dumpers have even gotten violent with Scott. “People have said to me, ‘I can do whatever I want,’ and when I say, ‘No, you can’t; this is private property,’ they lash out and threaten me.”

He knows that part of the garbage is coming from the many apartments behind Green Acres. Residents dump their household trash here, leaving evidence of their identity. “I’ve found bills with people’s names on them, and I’ve taken the bags back to them.”

KBB is trying to help fix this problem. Like most of the challenges we face, this dump may appear to be an isolated problem, but it’s a symptom of a cultural and educational issue.

Illegal Dump Site at Green Acres Flea Market

by Mallory Leonard

This morning KBB received a call from a concerned Louisville resident regarding dumping at Green Acres Flea Market. Sure enough, we went out there to investigate and a section of the property is being used as an illegal dump site. 

When we arrived on the scene, the caller, Anna Montroney, was there with Becca Habegger from WBIR. We gave a short interview about our work and the problem of irresponsible waste disposal in Blount County.

This is an example of why we do what we do at KBB. 

KBB informed the Blount County Offices of Environmental and Codes of this illegal dump by submitting a Citizen Complaint form (which can be found here). We intend to follow up in the coming weeks.


UPDATE: Conditions have improved on site. The rubbish has been cleared, and the manager is looking to re-purpose this space to prevent future dumping. A reporting system is now in place. KBB will serve as the uninterested third party and liaise between the property manager and the Sheriff's department.

These Kids Love to Pick Up Litter!

By Mallory Leonard

This morning, a group of young people from Maryville Vineyard is cleaning up Cusick Street! These wonderful volunteers belong to KidServe, a summer small-group in its second year. All summer long, they have been serving the local veteran, retired, and homeless communities in the area. All of their projects are described on their website

Their parents shared with us that these children really enjoy this volunteer day, the day they get to pick up litter. Those litter pickers certainly are empowering.

Keep Blount Beautiful is grateful for their service and proud to have KidServe among our volunteers. Thanks Maryville Vineyard KidServe!

Caring for Home

by Mallory Leonard

Blount County isn’t perfect, but luckily it’s home to lots of good people who want to make their hometown better and are willing to work to make that happen. Like Rosalind Robinson.

A few years ago, Rosalind spearheaded a project to clean up and beautify a section of Hall Road, between Edison and Howe. Before, this area was a huge mess, covered in massive amounts of litter and overgrown with weeds. After looking at such a depressing sight day after day, Rosalind decided to do something about it.

At first, she started cleaning the place up herself, with her own money and tools. Then, with the help of Charlene DeSha at Keep Blount Beautiful, Rosalind applied for and was awarded a Beautification Grant from Lowe’s.

Now this project could become a community effort. Although Rosalind may have started it all, she does not see this beautification project as “hers;” it has always been about the community.

The location has special significance for a number of reasons. For one, Rosalind remembers how many of the dads, including her own, would walk home every evening from Alcoa, and before splitting off to their individual homes, they would sit on the rocks and socialize together and unwind after a hard day’s work. Also, the site is adjacent to the building that, prior to integration, was the school designated for black students in the area. Rosalind remembers attending through the 9th grade and transferring to Alcoa High School for her last three years.

In addition to working with KBB, Rosalind assembled a team of workers and teamed up with the City of Alcoa to make this plot of land a sight worth seeing.

Rosalind was acutely aware of how many people drive down Hall Road every day, whether on the way to Knoxville or the mountains. So she and others have worked hard over the last few years to clean up and plant flowers and trees that will say something about this community to those passing through, but more importantly to those who live here.

To Rosalind, this effort is all about “caring for home.” She cares deeply about her home, the place and the people, and she knows she couldn’t have accomplished this much without the support of other people who care about home. Still, she knows they’ve got a ways to go yet...

Better Than the Creek

by Mallory Leonard

Blount County is a special place for many reasons, especially some that residents rarely think about. Take, for example, the landfill.

Sam Holloway, the Solid Waste Manager, oversees the operation of the Alcoa/Maryville/Blount County Sanitary Landfill, and he will proudly share with anyone who wants to know the services his team of 17 employees provides to this community.

This is one of the very few remaining landfills to be publicly owned, and it is owned jointly by the City of Alcoa, the City of Maryville, and Blount County governments. The three agreed long ago that the City of Alcoa would operate the landfill, so Sam and everyone who works there are employees of Alcoa.

The landfill is a self-sufficient operation; it does not receive funding from any taxes. Instead, the landfill functions solely on the tipping fees, which are currently $10.50 for up to 500 lbs and $42 per ton. The landfill receives around 350 tons of solid waste each day, 200 tons of municipal waste and 150 tons of construction/demolition. Yearly that income adds up to approximately $4 million, which effectively covers their operations, repairs, necessary purchases, and their many expensive fees and permits. They charge only the amount required to safely dispose of the solid waste brought in, so the system is truly “pay as you dump.”

Speaking of, let’s set the record straight. Many Blount County residents refer to this place as “the dump,” which is a grievous misrepresentation. A dump refers to a site where people simply toss their garbage. At a dump there is nothing to prevent the chemicals from all that trash from contaminating the groundwater.

Sam’s operation is a safe and strictly-regulated site for waste disposal. Leachate, or “trash tea” as Sam calls it, is properly collected, regularly tested, and sent to the water treatment plant. Methane is also collected onsite and processed to generate electricity. The A/M/BC Landfill is one of the smallest in the country to house an operation that can convert the gasses emitted by decomposing garbage into renewable energy.

At 260 acres, this landfill is quite a small one. In truth there are two landfills on the site: one for construction/demolition waste and one for municipal waste. Municipal waste is basically your household garbage, so those cells are the ones creating leachate (rainwater that percolates through the trash) and methane.

Sam works very hard to keep his landfill in good shape, and he thinks the residents of Blount County are very fortunate to have this service. He worked in solid waste management in two other Tennessee counties, Hamilton and Monroe, before taking the Manager job here, and he feels confident that Blount County’s option is superior. At the same time, he is fully aware of the problems with landfills, like how much waste we’re creating and how many trees and habitats are sacrificed because of it. But, he says, “as bad as landfills are, it’s better than the creek.”

The landfill also offers some recycling options, including cardboard, newspaper, plastic types 1 and 2, electronics, used oil, tires, scrap metal, and lead acid batteries. Residents do not have to pay the tipping fee for recycling.

Blount County’s landfill was opened in 1973 and has a life expectancy of approximately 50 more years. Even after it is full and completely capped, the site will have to be monitored for 30 years. The land will continue to settle indefinitely, so the space can never be used for buildings. Instead, the landfill may be converted into a park, and it would be the perfect place for one. After all, other than Foothills Parkway, the landfill boasts the highest point in Blount County with gorgeous panoramic views of the Smokies. The Blount County Model Aviators are already enjoying using a capped cell to fly their planes, and the kids on field trips enjoy having them there too.

The landfill is part of everyone’s life in Blount County, because everyone’s trash ends up there. For those who want to know what happens to their waste when it leaves their bins, the landfill offers free tours. To schedule one, call Sam Holloway at 995-2998 or Keep Blount Beautiful at 681-4809.