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asthma epidemic, asthma initiative, asthma management, cleaning, dust, environmental triggers, infections, mold, open airways, out sick, school season

Rethink Recycling

The dress is a knockout. A form-fitting scarlet sheath with a train that goes on for miles. The fact that it’s made from cereal boxes, recycled paint and parachute scraps almost seems beside the point.

Titled “Eco-Flamenco,” this dress was created by artist and environmental advocate Nancy Judd, who has been rethinking recycling. “It is in the challenge of transforming materials that are difficult to work with or that are seen as ugly, into something that is pretty, glamorous or interesting that makes me come alive,” she told reporters at an exhibition of her work in Ft. Collins.  And “Eco-Flamenco” carries her message in numerous ways. For example, the red ruffles on its train carry 5,000 eco-pledges written on the scraps before they were sewn onto the dress. (Many of Judd’s fashion pieces are referred to as “sculptures,” depending on whether they can be worn or not).

One of Judd’s more versatile materials is called “plarn”—plastic yarn, made from those flimsy plastic shopping bags that cannot be recycled. Plarn is very much a homegrown solution to the problem posed by these bags; anyone who can crochet, braid or knit can make plarn at home with a pair of scissors. Once you have enough, you’ll be crocheting sturdy, reusable tote bags, purses, doormats, and more in no time. Crafters across the country have embraced plarn as another way to rethink recycling, and the humble plastic yarn that would otherwise have been waste has inspired countless communities, websites and YouTube videos for the curious.

While some are rethinking how plastics can be reused or recycled as formal wear or pocketbooks, others are looking at recycling the stuff that came in those pesky (and unrecyclable) clamshell containers.  Yes, food.

In New York City, residents already had blue and green recycling bins for glass, metal, paper and plastic. Brown bins for organic waste began appearing on sidewalks last summer.  Food waste had been ending up in landfills, which was no longer tenable. Besides hogging the lion’s share of each landfill, organic waste was heavy and expensive to ship. It also released methane, a greenhouse gas, as it decomposed.  New York sanitation officials say that the goal is for every resident of the city to have a way to recycle food scraps, along with other trash organics, like yard and leaf waste. The organic waste will be composted and used as garden fertilizer, livestock feed, and as biogas that can be used as fuel.

These are just some of the positive results that have emerged from people and communities who rethink recycling.  After dinner tonight, take an extra few moments to contemplate your table scraps, and where they’ll be going after they leave your kitchen. Is there something better, more useful and less hazardous your organic waste could be doing?

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Founded in 1983, Team Clean, Inc. is a commercial janitorial services company in Philadelphia. Due mainly to the service focus and vision of its founder/president/CEO—Donna L. Allie, PhD.—the company enjoyed huge growth during its first two decades. By 1999, it was the fourth-largest woman-owned business in Philadelphia, and the Wharton Small Business Development Center identified it as one of the fastest-growing small businesses in that metropolitan area.

CLEANING OUT ASTHMA: How Schools Can Protect Their Students

Back-to-school season means back to watching out for diseases and infections that could keep your student home instead of in class. The Environmental Protection Agency has issued these guidelines for managing asthma in schools, which include detailed information about reducing risk through careful cleaning and meticulous building maintenance.

Why It’s Important

• Asthma is the leading cause of children’s absence from school.

• Numerous environmental triggers can cause asthma attacks, such as:

o Mold, excess moisture, and dust

o Pests and animal dander

o Diesel exhaust o Chemicals in some cleaning products

• Addressing asthma triggers can reduce the number of nurse visits and keep children focused on schoolwork.

What You Can Do

• Perform regular and thorough cleaning and building maintenance to help children avoid environmental triggers.

• Avoid using cleaning products containing strong odors or fragrances that might trigger asthma symptoms.

• Implement an integrated pest management program to reduce the risk of triggers.

• Ensure the school has policies in place to reduce unnecessary car and bus idling.

• EPA’s Model School Environmental Health Program addresses key components that can reduce asthma triggers.

EPA and Federal Partners

• EPA’s Asthma and Indoor Environments website provides information about common indoor asthma triggers and how to avoid them.

• EPA’s Best Practices for Reducing Near-Road Air Pollution Exposure at Schools publication can be used by schools to reduce exposure to traffic-related air pollution.

• Managing Asthma in the School Environment by EPA offers nine tools for schools: 10 Ways to Manage Asthma, The Asthma Epidemic, Asthma in Schools, IAQ Tools for Schools, Environmental Asthma Triggers, Asthma Management and Education, Additional Resources, Asthma Action Card, and Daily Asthma Management Plan.

• Managing Asthma: A Guide for Schools (44 pp, 1.1 M, About PDF) helps schools plan or maintain an asthma management program for their students with asthma. The guide was a collaborative project of the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools in the U.S. Department of Education.

• EPA’s School Flag Program helps children, parents, school personnel and the community to be aware of daily air quality conditions. Participating schools raise brightly colored flags that signal the level of air pollution for that day to help school members and the surrounding community adjust their activities to reduce their exposure to air pollution.

• Role of the State Asthma Program in Implementing Multicomponent, School-Based Asthma Interventions by CDC’s National Asthma Control Program highlights activities three state asthma programs have undertaken to support school-based initiatives.

National Organizations

• Asthma in Schools on the American Lung Association website helps families and schools make sure that children with asthma stay healthy, in school and ready to learn. The website includes: o Open Airways for Schools Program

• The State Honor Roll, produced annually by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, identifies states with the most comprehensive and preferred statewide public policies supporting people with asthma and related allergic diseases in U.S. elementary, middle and high schools. The goal of this report is to identify state-level progress toward better school-based policies and to provide a blueprint for asthma and allergy advocates nationwide.

• Just for Kids on the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology website includes games, storybooks, videos and more to help kids learn about managing their asthma and allergies.

• Mold, Mice and Zip Codes: Inside the Childhood Asthma Epidemic by NBC News, report on the links between asthma, poverty, and where you live.

Regional, State and Local Resources

• Visit the Sensible Steps for Healthier School Environments web page for an overview of issues related to asthma and asthma triggers in schools.

• Asthma and the School Environment in New York State by the state’s Department of Health summarizes research on asthma hospitalization among school-age children as well as school building conditions. The report identifies the strengths and remaining challenges of managing asthma and associated environmental factors in the school setting.

• Schools and Asthma on the Asthma Initiative of Michigan website offers numerous tools to support children with asthma in schools as well as related state laws and policies and resources for school staff and parents.

Team Clean has provided this blog information as a public health service. Over the past four decades, Team Clean’s experience and expertise have successfully serviced companies and organizations requiring: General office cleaning; Government offices and facilities; the Education sector; Events and Sporting venues, including stadiums and convention halls; and services for industrial plants and warehouse facilities. For further information about Team Clean, please visit http://www.team-clean.com

 

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