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Local Woman Takes the Litter Problem to Heart


Karen Miles at the first clean-up.

Six years ago Karen Miles heard about LitterBlitz – an event in Oklahoma that encourages people to clean up their neighborhoods – and wanted to get involved. She enjoys walking her dogs around Lake Overholser and the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge so she decided that is the area she wanted to clean up.

She knew she couldn’t clean up the area’s alone so she started asking others to come help. She also asked local businesses to donate items to giveaway to those who came to help. She finds this to be an added encouragement for people. The first year she had around 12 people and each year it has grown, last year the count was 125. In addition to the increase of people participating each year, there has been a decrease in the amount of waste they find. This is a very positive trend that Karen and other participates hope to keep seeing.

Volunteers digging out a piece of metal on the North Canadian River.
Karen says the first year she wasn’t very well prepared. She now plans the event in advance for the month of April, which is also the Great American Clean-Up. She is able to get supplies through organizations like Oklahoma City Beautiful and Keep Oklahoma Beautiful. She even has national sponsors that have helped like Waste Management and Pepsi. Last year Boulder Chips sent chips and t-shirts for the participates. Karen hopes to continue to see this grow but says she needs help.

“Eventually, I would like a group to take ownership of this clean-up so I am not having to do everything by myself each year. Other lakes have “Friends” such as “Friends of Lake Hefner”, “Friends of Lake Arcadia”, “Friends of Lake Thunderbird”. Overholser doesn’t have “friends” like this even though I personally think the Overholser/Stinchcomb area has so much more to offer than other areas. Most people have never even heard of the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge. It is a rare jewel that we need to protect. “

Sorting out recyclables, it’s important to Karen that as much as possible is kept out of the landfill.
Oklahoma needs more people like Karen that not only care about the areas around them but take action to protect them. There are many ways to help this great state of ours and one is to help Karen and her clean-up of Lake Overholser and the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge. To find out how you can get involved please click here. The upcoming LitterBlitz – the event that motivated Karen – is also coming up, click here for more.
All ages get in on the clean-up
Photo Credits: Lake Overholser and Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge Clean-up/Karen Miles

About the Author

Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.

Trap the Grease Oklahoma!

Did you know that when fatty and greasy foods are washed down the drain, the fat and grease in the food can build up in the sewer lines, just like in your arteries?

As fat and grease builds up, it create blockages and cause raw sewage back out of the sewer system. Raw sewage can end up in people’s homes, backyards, businesses, and our waterways creating environmental and public health hazards.
High levels of harmful bacteria and other pollutants can make some Oklahoma rivers, lakes, and streams unusable for swimming, boating, or fishing.
Fats, Oils, and Grease, aka FOG, isn’t a well known environmental issue, but it is an issue in which everyone contributes. Most people think, “I don’t cook bacon or fry anything, so it’s not my problem”. Well…the problem isn’t just bacon grease or fried foods; it’s anything with a fat content like: ranch dressing, alfredo sauce, olive oil, and even ice cream.
The city of Tulsa encourage residents to follow these simple steps to keep fats, oils, and grease out of the sewer system.

Tips for Taking Care of Grease

  1. Collect meat drippings in a sealable container and dispose of in the trash.
  2. Scrape any leftover food scraps into the compost or trash; limit the use of your garbage disposal.
  3. Before washing, wipe grease residues like oily or creamy sauces from utensils, plates, pots, and pans into the trash.
  4. If available, like in Tulsa, recycle all waste liquid cooking or frying oils at a recycling station.

Remember, the sewer system needs a no-fat diet. Prevent costly plumbing problems and protect our waterways- Trap the Grease Oklahoma! For more information on visit: www.TraptheGreaseTulsa.com


About the Author

Kristi Shreve is an environmental compliance specialist with the City of Tulsa’s Public Works department that specializes in pollution prevention practices for wastewater issues.

Takeout Without the Waste

It takes approximately 20 seconds to put our food into take out containers. Convenient? No, actually extremely inconvenient. The packaging can remain in our landfills forever, causing continued damage to us and our world. The American population tosses out enough paper bags and plastic cups, forks and spoons every year to circle the equator 300 times. Wouldn’t it be better to fill our stomachs and not our landfills?

Since restaurants add so much to our waste-line (read as waist-line too!), and we frequent them regularly, help your restaurant help you reduce your waste (and it will be great for all of us too!).

Here are 10 easy things for restaurants to do that will, in the end, be great for our health, wallet and the world!

10 Easy Ways to Reduce Takeout Waste

  1. Join TakeOutWithOut the campaign to reduce restaurant waste. It’s free, helpful and will fill you up with some great ideas and free downloads
  2. Use reusables instead of disposables for everything possible. That’s your job – yes, people might stare, but remember, you are a trendsetter and it’ll soon catch on – just like reusable water bottles have over the past years.
  3. Encourage restaurants to use compostable, safe options for their required disposables. We get that restaurants don’t want to give takeout patrons a cloth napkin, but no need for them to use virgin paper all bleached and processed.
  4. Reduce the amount of packaging to what is only absolutely necessary. No double bagging please. If you aren’t going to use them, don’t take a handful of ketchup packets, soy sauces, straws or cutlery. Supply and demand. If you are taking your takeout meal home, we’re hoping you have cutlery there.
  5. Suggest they sell smart & safe solutions (reusables) such as bottles, containers, straws, bags, etc. Imagine seeing an amazing container or a reusable bag, it might inspire you. You may buy one or more. The restaurant will make money while encouraging new habits and creating awareness. If they offer an incentive to keep bringing the container back, you’ll be a more loyal customer. The restaurant will have less of a need for disposables, saving them money, and saving our precious resources. Win, win win!
  6. Encourage them to incent their customers to bring/use reusables by offering a discount or something for free (they should be able to afford it – see #5 above). Who doesn’t love getting supersized? Wouldn’t you bring your own mug if you were getting more? Or bring your own bag if you were able to get something for free because of it?
  7. Recycle and compost on site. This is an easy one. In Toronto, we are already sorting everything at home into compost, recycling and garbage. It should be happening everywhere else in the city also.
  8. Suggest donating surplus food to a community meal service or directly to those in need. Random acts of kindness rock our world!
  9. Applaud them! Change comes from without. Tell them how great they are and send customers their way because of all the good they are doing.
  10. Let them know to pass this on to others and encourage them to be TOWO champions. They will want to inspire others just like you’ve inspired them!

Together we can change the outrageous amount of unnecessary waste we create everyday as well as drastically reduce it. Don’t’ forget, we are the customers, and aren’t we always right? Your power lies in your wallet and your voice matters. That’s got to be worth trying for!


About the Author
Lisa Borden is an eco-advocate and mother of three, whose business is a direct reflection of her commitment to better, more responsible living. She is a dedicated workaholic, admitting that it takes a lot of time and effort to change the world, especially in her non-preachy, fun, engaging and inspiring ways. Lisa consults, writes, engages the media, runs private workshops, and enjoys speaking to large and small groups. Her full-service marketing firm, Borden Communications + Design Inc. is based in Toronto, Canada and takes great pride in being an ethical business providing exceptional ideas.