Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Related Web Sites

Treating Sewage Naturally...and Bringing in the Tourists!
Describes one Nova Scotian community and its attention-getting "Solar Aquatics" water treatment plant.

Database of Waste Treatment Technology in Japan
Explanations, complete with detailed charts and diagrams, of waste technologies in use in Japan.

Agenda 21 and Other UNCED Agreements
Full text of Agenda 21, a 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) agreement outlining global measures for sustainable development.

Sourcebook of Alternative Technologies for Freshwater Augmentation in Latin America and the Caribbean
Includes a section for methods used for wastewater treatment and reuse in various countries around the world.

Possible Solutions for Global Efforts

Building a Sustainable City: Santa Monica, California
One of the most comprehensive community environmental efforts in the world is Santa Monica's "Sustainable City Program." This program addresses the underlying causes of environmental problems, not just the symptoms, and takes into account both the long-term and the short-term impact of decisions. While the program primarily focuses on the environment, it also addresses broader social, economic, and quality-of-life issues such as affordable housing, public spaces, and education.

The program established broad policy goals in four major areas: resource conservation; transportation; pollution prevention and public health protection; and community and economic development. In addition to the broad goals, 16 related sustainability indicators were developed to measure the program's progress.

One of Santa Monica's current goals is to reduce landfilled solid waste to 50 percent of its 1990 level by the year 2000. The city's efforts to reduce its waste generation include the following:

  • Residential curbside collection of recyclables and recycling drop-off zones.
  • Recycling programs at schools and commercial sites.
  • Concrete, asphalt, scrap metal, and tire recycling.
  • A volume-based billing system for waste disposal to encourage people to reduce their waste generation.
  • Administrative and purchasing policies designed to help reduce waste and encourage the purchase of products made from recycled materials.
  • Using electronic technologies to reduce paper waste.
  • Incorporating old tires into the asphalt used for street paving.
  • Developing new waste-reduction methods for street and sidewalk repairs.

Increasing Awareness of Household Hazardous Waste: Peterborough, Ontario
The city of Peterborough in Ontario, Canada. sponsors a waste collection program that helps citizens properly handle and dispose of household hazardous waste and encourages them to reduce this kind of waste by using safer alternatives.

Traditionally, people have disposed of hazardous household waste such as paint and propane cylinders along with their regular refuse, and all of it has gone into landfills. This practice creates health and safety risks for garbage collectors and has resulted in the leaching of toxic chemicals from landfills into soil and groundwater. Additionally, used motor oil is often indiscriminately dumped, and certain materials with recovery potential, such as batteries, are thrown away.

To address these problems Peterborough has hosted special collections for hazardous household waste since 1989. These events are held at convenient community sites. The city provides shipping containers and material-handling equipment, and chemical-handling specialists are on hand.

Among the items collected are propane cylinders, which can by recycled and lead-acid batteries, which can be used for metal recovery. Motor oil to be recycled is collected in large drums. Paint is taken away in its original containers to a paint-recycling facility, where it is sorted by color and composition for filtering and blending. In 1992, the city used the event to dispose of outdated prescription drugs that volunteers picked up from local pharmacies and delivered to the disposal sites. Residents participating in the program receive information on environmentally friendly alternatives to many of the materials that they bring for disposal.

Using Landfills for Energy: Texas
In Texas, the cities of Austin, Houston, and Lewisville are leading efforts to use landfills as resources for energy production.

Organic garbage such as plants, wood, and other vegetable matter decomposes in landfills, a process that produces carbon dioxide, methane, and other gases. Because landfill gas contributes to the formation of smog and may cause explosions if uncontrolled, state and federal regulations require that landfill owners capture and dispose of it.

At some landfills, methane gas is collected, cleaned, coverted into electricity, and delivered to the city's power grid. One facility in Texas uses this process to generate 5.4 megawatts of electricity, which powers more than 6,500 homes.

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