How does the landfill work?

By Brittney Whipple

What is a landfill?

The words ‘landfill’ and ‘dump’ are often used interchangeably, but they are actually two very different things! A dump is a place where trash is put illegally, causing many environmental hazards and a huge eye sore. A landfill is a complex system of burying trash that is safe and legal. All of the trash in Blount County is sent to the Alcoa/Maryville/Blount County Landfill.

 

How the landfill works

Once you throw something away in your home, chances are you don’t think about it again. However, that is just the beginning of the journey. After the garbage truck picks up the trash from your curb or parking lot, it is taken to the landfill. When entering the landfill, trucks drive over a large scale to be weighed. The truck then drives to the cell that is currently open in the landfill to dump the garbage, and a big tractor drives over the garbage to compact it. The trucks then drive over a scale when exiting to be weighed again. The difference in weight determines the weight of the garbage that was dropped off. It costs $50 a ton to put garbage in the landfill. Each day, 250-300 tons are buried!

When entering the landfill, trucks must first stop at the scale house to be weighed.

When entering the landfill, trucks must first stop at the scale house to be weighed.

A landfill cell is a portion of the land that is used to occupy waste. The cells are made up of layers of dirt and garbage. Once a layer of garbage reaches the height limit (about 10-15 feet), a layer of dirt is placed on top before starting a new layer of garbage. Each night, the exposed layer is covered with thick, heavy plastic to keep everything in place and the animals away.

In addition to the cells reserved for regular, household garbage, there is a cell reserved for demolition waste. This waste includes old furniture and construction materials. Each day, about 100-175 tons of demolition waste is dumped into the landfill.

Demolition waste is kept separate from household waste since it is much cheaper to bury, mainly because no leachate system needs to be installed. Leachate is the liquid that garbage creates that needs to be drained out of the landfill and cleaned. A collection system catches the leachate in the cells holding household garbage. The leachate is sent to a treatment plant to be cleaned before it is sent back into the environment to avoid pollution.

The other thing rotting garbage produces is methane gas- which smells horrible! However, at the Alcoa/Maryville/Blount County Landfill there is a Methane Gas to Energy Collection System that captures the gas and recycles it into energy. Since the landfill has a system of capturing the gas, there is no smell! Methane produced by garbage in the landfill is captured through gas wells, hooked up to a generator to make electricity, and sold to TVA.

 

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

The Alcoa/Maryville/Blount County Landfill has been in operation since 1974 (43 years). It is estimated that there are about 50-60 years left until the 262 acres of land is filled. How can we make sure the landfill lasts as long as possible?

Around 20 years ago, the landfill received 100,000 lbs of garbage a year with a population of 80,000 in Blount County. Currently, the landfill receives 80,000 lbs of garage a year with a larger population of 124,000. Practices of reducing, reusing, and recycling help extend the life of our landfill so it can last as long as possible.

 

What do we do once a landfill cell is full?

When a cell in the landfill is full, grass is planted on top and it appears as a large hill. Permanent buildings and structures cannot be built on a capped cell because there is no strong foundation; when the trash starts decomposing, the ground will start to sink. Alternative uses for capped landfill cells include sports fields and walking trails. At the Alcoa/Maryville/Blount County Landfill, a full cell is now a small airfield for the Blount County Model Aviators.

A full cell in the landfill has been turned into a small air field for use by the Blount County Model Aviators

A full cell in the landfill has been turned into a small air field for use by the Blount County Model Aviators

Alcoa/Maryville/Blount County Landfill Information

Address: 240 Long Powers Rd., Friendsville

Hours of operation: Monday-Friday 8am-5:30pm

Scalehouse phone number: 865-995-2892

Website: http://www.cityofalcoa-tn.gov/250/Landfill-Services

 Services provided by the landfill:

 Trash Convenience Center: residents are welcome to drop their garbage off at the landfill rather than use a garbage service. Garbage fees depend on the weight of the trash.

Electronic and appliance recycling: Since electronics and appliances are hazardous and cannot be buried in the landfill, the landfill accepts them for recycling. Contact the landfill for pricing.

Tire recycling: Tires cannot be buried in the landfill, but the landfill also accepts old tires for recycling.


Landfill Tours
Keep Blount Beautiful provides tours of the Alcoa/Maryville/Blount County Landfill to schools and residents free of charge. To schedule a tour, fill out our online form or contact the office at 865-681-4809. Please note that schools and large groups will need their ow

Haven't Landed on a New Year's Resolution Yet? We got you

By Rachel Grubbe

2018 was not a great year for the environment. We experienced powerful hurricanes, raging forest fires, and rising sea levels. Our individual choices are impacting the entire planet. This is not a shocking revelation, but it needs to be said, repeatedly. The new year is a perfect time to reevaluate and modify your lifestyle so you can be more eco-friendly. We have some great new year’s resolutions you can try out this year.

Plastic packaging in supermarkets
BREAKING NEWS: Plastic is Bad
Okay, this is certainly not breaking news, but it is still worth mentioning. Hopefully, by now you have kicked your disposable plastic water bottle addiction, it’s 2019 move on, it's done. BUT, have you realized how many everyday items are in plastic containers. You know what I’m talking about, right? That produce that comes in a plastic bag, or is in a plastic box or is wrapped in plastic film. Bad, straight up bad.

This year when hitting up your local grocery store buy the items that are plastic free, or at least have the smallest amount of plastic.

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Organic material: trash or plant food?

Are you throwing organic matter in the trash? Compost it. The biggest contributor to landfills is food waste; the EPA reports 22 percent of landfill intake is food waste. Composting is the recycling of organic material back into the soil. You don’t need to have a great big garden to compost. Composting is great for trees and shrubs you likely have in your yard. If you have access to some dirt and a shovel you can probably do this. Easy peasy.

2019 is the year y’all start composting, I can feel it.

But, how do you get protein?

Ah, the question I have been getting my entire adult life. I am no doctor, but I can tell you with certainty that cutting out or reducing meat from your diet will be okay. The meat industry is a BIG contributor to global warming. Look, meat is neat. If you want to wrap a hot dog in deli meat or whatever, you do you. But, maybe just not every day. Maybe your meat days are like Wednesdays and weekends. You could do that, right?

So here are my plant-based diet new years resolution suggestions:

Stop adding meat to things that don’t require meat
If you ask me spaghetti pairs with a nice leafy salad better than a meatball. So, when preparing a meal think does this need meat? Ham sandwich? Yea, it needs meat. Salad? Nope, skip the chicken.

Only eat meat for special occasions
If you go out to dinner and there are only two veggie options and they both sound terrible. Alright, get the burger. Holiday, birthdays, anniversaries, dinner with grandma. Eat what you want.

Just quit eating meat
Aren’t you hungry? Don’t you think a vegetarian diet is boring? So, do you just eat super healthy? No, no, and uh nah. Vegetarians eat a wide range of food. Including popcorn and beer, which are personal favorites/staples in my diet.

2019 is the year folks. You can make a difference by making good choices regarding the environment. Your decisions matter, they are impactful. Again for the people in the back… Your choices impact the planet.



KBB in the Classroom

Environmental education is one of the most important tools we have to teach students about how their actions have an impact on the world around them. Teaching is arguably the most important thing we do at Keep Blount Beautiful. If you are not a teacher in Blount County it's not likely you know what it’s like to have KBB in a classroom. Our goal is to educate by getting students involved.

Personally, my favorite presentation is Fred the Fish. Fred the Fish is an interactive story involving a fish made from a dish sponge, a clear container with water, and fake pollutants. We tell the story of how Fred travels down the Little River and goes through polluted areas. Students take turns adding pollutants to Fred’s water. They get to see how their actions impact Fred and his environment. We allow them to comment on how the brown sugar we pretend is dog poop and other pollutants affect Fred’s health and happiness.

Classroom presentations are not the only educating we do at KBB! We take students on field trips to the Blount County Landfill. It is really a neat field trip for kids. They see how the landfill operates and get to learn from the trash experts at KBB. We also love to invite classes to hang out with us at our EcoCenter to play our recycle relay race and learn more about waste and recycling.

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At KBB we also think it is incredibly important for students to be involved in beautification projects and litter pickups. A great way to teach kids that littering is bad is to have students go pick it up! During the warmer months, we work with students to pick up trash on their school grounds. There is plenty of litter to pick up, especially near football and baseball fields. Seeing a campus before and after a litter pickup allows students to feel pride in their school and accomplishment for their work.



What Do I Do with Unused Paint?

By Brittney Whipple

This is the question we get asked the most often at Keep Blount Beautiful. And it’s an important one! Let’s say you’re cleaning out your garage, or maybe you have some paint left over in the can after a project. Either way, you want to find out a way to get rid of it. Chances are you already know or assume this fact: If you have unused paint, it cannot simply be thrown away. When disposing paint, the first thing to determine is if it latex-based paint or oil-based paint.

Latex Paint

Latex paint is not considered household hazardous waste because it is water-based. However, latex paint needs to be dried out before it is thrown away so it will not seep into the ground. If there is under an inch of paint left in the can, it should dry out in a couple days when the lid is left off. If there is more pain in the can, stirring an equal part of cat litter into the paint will help it dry out faster. Sawdust or shredded paper can be used as an alternative to cat litter. If there is too much paint in the can to add equal parts of a hardener, some of the paint can be poured into a plastic or cardboard container that will not leak. In addition to these materials, there are also paint hardeners that can be purchased at the hardware store. Once the paint is dried out, it can be tossed in your normal household trash.

Oil-based Paint

Unlike latex paint, oil-based paint is considered household hazardous waste, making it illegal to throw it away in your normal household trash. In Blount County, all oil-based paint can be taken the the Blount County Recycling Center, located at 331 Levi St. Maryville (off of McArthur Rd. at the Blount County Operations Center)

Note: Latex paint will NOT be accepted by the Blount County Recycling Center. ONLY oil-based paint will be accepted.

Donating Paint

If you have large quantities of paint and it is still in good condition, it can be donated to the Habitat for Humanity Restore and will be purchased by someone who needs it. The Restore is located at 548 N Foothills Plaza, Maryville.

Avoid Leftover Paint Altogether!

You can avoid having a lot of leftover paint by only buying what you need! There are plenty of online calculators that can determine the amount of paint you will need according to the area of what you are painting.

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.

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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


Miscellaneous
• 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


Radioactives
• 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


Miscellaneous
•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

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!

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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.

Reuse!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 KeepBlountBeautiful.org.

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.

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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.

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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

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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 keepblount@gmail.com.

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!

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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!

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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?

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...