Trash and Prizes

Green County, Ind., might be the cleanest place in the country, thanks to its program to motivate the locals to pick up trash.

This spring, more than 200 20-ounce green plastic bottles with yellow lids were being hidden in roadside ditches alongside regular litter. Inside each bottle was a yellow ticket with a number on it, which corresponded to a prize. Citizens had to register in the local solid waste management offices, where they received a yellow bag to fill with trash. To claim the prize, residents had to bring back at least two full bags of roadside garbage and the bottle with the yellow ticket. According to event organizers, nearly 100 people were registered for the program, which ended May 31.

At press time, the prizes - such as an outdoor electric grill, 80 games of bowling and a free teeth cleaning from a local dentist - had not yet been awarded. The program's slogan: "Are you fed up with those dirty runs of ditches?"

Source: National Public Radio

Attack of the Pollution-Eating Plants No, that's not the name of a bad science fiction movie. A University of Georgia genetics professor and his colleagues actually have created a plant that can absorb certain toxic mercury from the soil and convert it into a harmless gas that can be released into the air.

The scientists inserted a mercury-resistant bacteria, which can detoxify metals, into the plants, with the hope that they can help clean up the hazardous methyl mercury created in areas such as pulp and paper mills. The yellow poplar tree, which has large leaves and provides plenty of surface area to absorb mercury and release the converted gas, will be tested on contaminated field sites over the next few years.

Source: University of Georgia Research Reporter