LEGO Bricks Aren't Recyclable, But You Can Donate Them

iStock.com/Ekaterina79
iStock.com/Ekaterina79

LEGO Mindstorms robots or Venom figurines might be all the rage right now, but what happens when your kid grows up and loses interest, leaving you stuck with bins full of bricks? As Lifehacker reports, the ABS plastic used in LEGOs makes it difficult to get rid of them—they aren't recyclable, so if you throw them away, they'll still be sitting in the landfill centuries later—but it's not impossible to find a new home for them.

If you can't find any friends, family, or neighbors to take them off your hands, a couple other options are available. An organization called Brick Recycler lets you donate your pre-loved LEGOs by mailing them directly to their facility in San Jose, California. Brick Recycler then matches those donations with recipients, which may include hospital patients, children in foster care, or kids living in low-income areas. To sweeten the deal, the organization says you don't have to worry about sorting or cleaning the pieces. Brick Recycler accepts mismatched sets or those with missing pieces, and they also handle the sanitation themselves.

Other sites like The Giving Brick (based in Kansas City, Kansas) and BrickDreams (based in Folsom, California) also accept donations of LEGO bricks in all conditions. The latter organization is run by two teen boys, and they donate the LEGOs to child victims of domestic violence and abuse.

If California or Kansas seems too far to ship a heavy box full of LEGOs, you may want to check out the charities in your area. Some, like Goodwill or the Salvation Army, may accept the boxes of bricks. However, it's always best to call first and double check before dropping off a truckload of mismatched LEGO sets that they might not have the time or resources to handle.

Lastly, if you're going to give away your LEGOs to a friend, just be sure to clean them first, following the instructions on LEGO's website. After all, they tend to harbor lots of bacteria, and you wouldn't want the neighbor kid to get sick after sticking a dirty Batman figurine in their mouth.

On the bright side, there's now hope that getting rid of old LEGOs won't be as difficult or as big of an environmental issue in the future. Last March, the company announced it would start manufacturing some bricks made from a sustainable bioplastic derived from sugarcane.

[h/t Lifehacker]

UK Burger King Restaurants Will Stop Giving Plastic Toys With Kids' Meals

Leon Neal/Getty Images
Leon Neal/Getty Images

Fast food companies don't have a reputation for being eco-friendly, but through small changes made in recent years, some of the biggest names in the industry are working to reduce their environmental impact. Just a few weeks after introducing the meat-free Impossible Whopper, Burger King announced a new policy for its United Kingdom locations. As CNN reports, UK restaurants will no long include plastic toys with kids' meals.

The change comes after two sisters from the UK started a petition on Change.org calling on McDonald's and Burger King to stop distributing plastic toys with kids' meals. Ella and and Caitlin McEwan, who were 9 and 7 respectively when the petition launched this summer, wrote, “children only play with the plastic toys they give us for a few minutes before they get thrown away and harm animals and pollute the sea." They went on to say: "It’s not enough to make recyclable plastic toys—big, rich companies shouldn’t be making toys out of plastic at all." Their online petition has received more than 530,000 signatures.

By cutting plastic from kids' meals, Burger King estimates it will avoid wasting 350 tons of single-use plastic a year. The chain has also installed containers in its UK stores for collecting old plastic toys from customers, so the material can be recycled to make playgrounds. The UK represents just a fraction of Burger King's market, but according to the company, non-biodegradable plastic toys will be phased out of all locations by 2025.

McDonald's has had a different response to the McEwan sister's petition. Instead of doing away with plastic toys completely, UK restaurants will give customers the option to swap toys for fruit with their Happy Meals later this year, and then allow them to opt for books instead for a period in early 2020. Meanwhile, in Canada and Germany, some McDonald's restaurants are experimenting with going totally plastic-free. The more sustainable restaurants feature paper straws, waffle cone condiment cups, and burger wrappers made from grass.

[h/t CNN]

Fall Foliage Is Running Late This Year

Free art director/iStock via Getty Images
Free art director/iStock via Getty Images

The August arrival of the pumpkin spice latte might have you feeling like fall is in full swing already, but plants aren’t quite so impressionable. According to Travel + Leisure, the best fall foliage could be coming a little later than usual this year.

Historically, the vibrant transformation starts to sweep through northern regions of the Rocky Mountains, Minnesota, and New England in mid-September, and reaches its peak by the end of the month. Other areas, including the Appalachians and Midwest states, don’t see the brightest autumn leaves until early or mid-October. The Weather Channel reports that this year, however, the forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts unseasonably warm temperatures for the next two weeks, which could impede the color-changing process.

Warm temperatures aren’t necessarily bad for fall foliage, as long as they occur during the day and are offset by cool nights. Since meteorologists don’t expect the overnight temperatures to drop off yet, plants will likely continue producing enough chlorophyll to keep their leaves green in the coming days.

The good news is that this year’s fall foliage should only be about a week late, and meteorologist David Epstein thinks that when leaves do start to change color, we’re in for an especially beautiful treat. If the current weather forecast holds, he told Boston.com, we'll "see a longer season than last year, we’d see a more vibrant season than last year, and it would come on a little earlier than last year, which was so late.”

Though poor weather conditions like early snow, heavy rain, drought, or strong winds can cause leaves to fall prematurely, most trees right now are in a good position to deliver a brilliant display of color after a healthy, rain-filled summer.

Find out when you’ll experience peak fall foliage in your area with this interactive map.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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