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]

An Underpass for Turtles in Wisconsin Is Saving Dozens of the Little Guys’ Lives

Anthony Cedrone/iStock via Getty Images
Anthony Cedrone/iStock via Getty Images

Why did the turtle cross the road? Because an underground tunnel made it safe to do so.

In 2016, the Wisconsin Departments of Transportation and Natural Resources partnered with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point to construct a tunnel beneath Highway 66, hoping to cut down on high turtle mortality rates, reports Robert Mentzer for Wisconsin Public Radio.

The tunnel, with Jordan Pond on one side and wetlands on the other, was a noble venture, but the turtles had no way of knowing it was a crossing point rather than a dark and potentially dangerous hole. So Pete Zani, herpetologist and associate professor of biology at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, installed aluminum flashing outside of each opening, which would reflect the sky and let turtles know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Zani also installed grates above the tunnel to make it less shadowy, and a small cul-de-sac in a nearby piece of the fencing to encourage turtles who had missed the tunnel to turn around.

Zani and his team found that in the first year after construction, 85 percent fewer turtles were killed on the road, and no baby turtles were among the casualties. In the last few years combined, only 40 turtles died, compared to 66 deaths in 2015 alone.

That’s great news for local turtles, of course, and it’s great news for local humans, too. The intersection in question is always busy with truckers, commuters, and families en route to Jordan Pond, and turtle crossing can exacerbate traffic congestion and increase the chance of accidents.

Not all turtles have caught on, however, and it looks like some might never get the memo. Zani found that about 30 percent of snapping turtles and 20 percent of painted turtles make it through the tunnel, and those numbers have been consistent each year since construction. “They either get it or they don’t,” Zani told Wisconsin Public Radio.

Other animals are getting it, too. As part of the experiment, Zani set up a turtle-wrangling program in which students monitored trail cameras for turtle activity outside the underpass. In photos captured by the cameras, they noticed that rodents, mink, skunks, raccoons, and even house cats were traveling by turtle tunnel.

[h/t Wisconsin Public Radio]

Canned Aquafina Water May Be Coming to a Store Near You

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images
Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Like boxed cereal and egg cartons, bottled water is one of the most pervasive and familiar examples of consumer packaging around. But PepsiCo, which produces the LIFEWTR and Aquafina water brands, is looking to change that. The company recently announced a new strategy that would reduce its use of plastics and ultimately wean consumers off bottles entirely, turning them on to sipping water from aluminum cans instead.

According to The Takeout, Pepsi says it plans to change how its water is packaged in significant ways begining in 2020. The LIFEWTR brand will use plastic bottles, but the company plans to source those containers from 100 percent rPET, or recycled polyethylene terephthalate. Its bubly sparkling water line, meanwhile, will be sold in cans, rather than in both bottles and cans, as it currently is. So will Aquafina, one of the leading bottled water brands, though it will initially be offered in cans only at food service establishments while the company tests retail preferences. If all goes well, retail consumers will eventually be able to buy Aquafina in cans, too.

Such alterations would make for sweeping changes to the bottled water business, which has exploded in recent years. In 2016, the average American drank 39.3 gallons of packaged water per capita, edging out soda’s 38.5 gallons.

The move to cans stems in large part from consumer habits. Over half of all beer and soda cans are recycled compared to just 31.2 percent of plastic bottles.

PepsiCo expects the changes will result in saving more than 8800 tons of virgin plastic and 12,125 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. The company is looking to make all of its packaging recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable by 2025.

[h/t The Takeout]

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