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]

2624-Year-Old Cypress Tree Discovered in North Carolina Swamp

iStock/earleliason
iStock/earleliason

National Love a Tree Day on May 16 is a day to appreciate all the world's trees, but a bald cypress recently identified in North Carolina is especially deserving of recognition. As Live Science reports, scientists date the tree to 2624 years old, making it one the oldest living non-clonal trees on Earth.

For their study, recently published in the journal Environmental Research Communications, a team of researchers studied the rings of trees in North Carolina's Black River swampland to learn more about climate history in the eastern United States. Bald cypresses are known to have impressive lifespans, but after analyzing specimens in the Black River's Three Sisters Swamp, an area that's notable for its long-lived trees, the scientists discovered that cypresses can grow to be even older than previously believed. The 2624-year-old cypress tree they found predates the Great Wall of China and the Roman Empire. Other remarkably old trees, including a 2088-year-old cypress, were also identified in the same grove.

The North Carolina cypresses are old, but there are other types of trees that can grow to be much older. Clonal tress are genetically identical plants that reproduce asexually from a single ancestor. Old Tjikko, a clonal tree in Sweden, has a root system that dates back 9550 years.

Despite all that North Carolina's bald cypress trees have endured, their lives are under threat. The swamp where the 2624-year-old tree stands is located just 6.5 feet above sea level, which means that floods driven by climate change could damage its habitat. And though the grove is in a protected area, industrial runoff and logging that's happening nearby could impact the trees' health. North Carolina is considering establishing a Black River State Park where the trees grow to further protect the ancient natural wonders.

[h/t Live Science]

This Beverage Maker Lets You Enjoy Carbonated Drinks Without Hurting the Environment

Sparkel
Sparkel

Whether you're preparing breakfast before you head off to work or looking for something to wash down lunch, procuring the perfect beverage is vital. If it's a carbonated drink, though, with that comes the carbon dioxide emissions that arise every time you hear that classic "fssst" sound from cracking one open. These emissions are actually quite harmful to the environment.

But thanks to the newly unveiled Spärkel, curating carbonated drinks can be done without using CO2 or any artificial ingredients.

"If you walk into any grocery store, the explosion in the popularity of sparkling drinks is plain to see with more choices and flavors than ever before, but why buy off-the-shelf when it is healthier, cheaper, and more fun to create your own drinks at home?" Darren Hatherell, CEO of Spärkel, said in a press release. "With Spärkel, we created a system that lets people use the freshest ingredients and convenient carbonation process to experiment and unleash their creativity in a way that is kind to their wallet and the environment."

Users can place any kind of ingredients they wish—berries, citrus, cucumbers, etc.—along with their drink of choice—water, tea, cocktails—into the 25 oz. (750 mL) bottle and choose what level, from one to five, of fizz they'd like to have added to their drink. The sealed chamber generates CO2 naturally from a sachet of Spärkel Carbonator powder, which is "made of a special granulation of citric acid and sodium bicarbonate." The CO2 bubbles are cycled through the liquid, and within a couple of minutes, you have a completely personalized sparkling drink.

On top of all that, the beverage maker is suitable for any number of usages from water and juices to cocktails. It also comes in nine different colors—black, white, gray, yellow, orange, red, blue, green, and pink—so it can match up with whatever kitchen palette you have.

To get your hands on the Spärkel, check it out on Indiegogo, where it's available for a pre-sale price of $59.

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