Tuesday, January 18, 2022


The pandemic compelled many teachers to integrate new technology into lesson plans, increasing the risks excessive screen time can pose to students; and there's a push in New Mexico to address LGBTQ issues.


The King Day holiday is marked with calls for voting rights reform; U.S. airlines warn of disruptions from 5G mobile phone signals; and a bipartisan trip reaffirms U.S. commitment to Ukraine.


New website profiles missing and murdered Native Americans; more support for young, rural Minnesotans who've traded sex for food, shelter, drugs or alcohol; more communities step up to solve "period poverty;" and find your local gardener - Jan. 29 is National Seed Swap Day.

PA Parks Make Switch to Paper, Compostables at Concession Stands


Thursday, January 13, 2022   

Pennsylvania state parks are making a move to go plastic-free and reduce waste, starting with their concession stands, to help meet the Commonwealth's sustainability goals.

By the end of this year, more than 15 state park food concessionaires will have updated contracts, including eliminating plastic straws, cutlery and food packaging. The renewed agreements also require vendors to convert to using compostable or paper-based products when a park offers on-site composting.

Shea Zwerver, executive policy specialist at the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), said cutting down on litter also helps the overall park ecosystem.

"How we can reduce our amount of waste from the beginning?" Zwerver remarked. "That's eliminating these avoidable items, but then also, transitioning to those bio-based or paper-based compostable options, because they can be broken down and returned back into nutrients."

The department is also adopting solar energy, transitioning to electric-powered vehicles and pursuing LEED-certified buildings as part of its sustainability efforts.

Pennsylvania parks saw a 26% increase in visitors from 2019 to 2020 as more people looked for outdoor activities in the pandemic.

Ben Monk, manager of Beltzville State Park, said the spike in visitors also led to more trash left behind. He pointed out the new paper product requirement at Beltzville can help address it.

"I think as the technology progresses, doing these things all of a sudden are easy," Monk asserted. "And I think as these, switching over to compostable materials and things like that, as they become easier, I think people will adopt them more, and we'll be much better off in the long run."

Beltzville made the switch to paper products during last Memorial Day. As future contracts with vendors expire in other state parks, DCNR will update them with the new requirements.

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Experts say blue light inhibits melatonin production and interferes with sleep. (Reewungjunerr/Adobestock)

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