Questions & Answers Wk 11

Submit a question

Every week Team GoNorth! answers ten questions related to the module topic from student explorers -- so stay tuned and submit YOUR questions!

Brian Young: There are different faves in each area. Of our Garden products the favorite is our organic Orchid Plant Food, with our Deer Barrier (repellent) a close second. In our office product line, we get a lot of requests for our Eco-Binder which is totally recyclable, but some of the clocks and picture frames we make from used computer circuit boards are very popular too. In our line of bags and other items made from juice pouches and the shiny wrappers for cookies and potato chips, our best seller is the Tote Bag followed by our pencil cases.

All these can be seen on our website at www.terracycle.net – click on products.

What is the most popular product?

submitted by:
a student at the Week 11 Chat

Brian Young: Every item takes a long time to figure out after you get the original idea. That’s one reason why we tend to go for pretty simple ideas for the most part. The trickiest part is often finding a reliable source for the trash we think we can make something good from. When Tom first got the idea of using plastic soda bottles, we found it was illegal in New Jersey to take them from the blue recycling bins. That’s when he got the idea of asking people to send them to us. We could pay a few pennies each (remember they’re normally worth nothing) for their schools or other charities. This also enabled people to help the environment at the same time. Pretty cool!

When TerraCycle started to grow we weren’t getting enough bottles from our Brigades even though we got thousands and thousands. Tom realized that some states, like Vermont, had a law that bottlers like Pepsi or Coke had to take back their bottles once people had used them. These bottlers were happy to sell us their old bottles. There’s more to this story, but this gives you the idea.

Is there an item that is the most difficult to make?

submitted by:
a student at the Week 11 Chat

Brian Young: Tom has always been great at involving his friends and workers in this process. He leads us in regular “brainstorming” sessions to come up with new ideas for old trash. Sometimes companies like Capri Sun will see what we’re doing and say, “Hey, we’ve got a lot of this material (like juice pouches) and it only goes to landfill. Can you find a good way to reuse it?” And so we have to come up with new ideas or use old ones in a new way.

How/Who comes up with product ideas?

submitted by:
a student at the Week 11 Chat

Brian Young: It depends on what kind of waste you mean and how it’s treated. For example, plastics take hundreds of years and aluminum foil takes thousands of years to break down enough to be “good” for the soil. Juice pouches probably take longer. On the other hand a piece of bread or a scrap of meat could be composted in a few weeks or months.

When people recycle their ...Waste, how long does it take for it to become useful in the soil?

submitted by:
a student at the Week 11 Chat


Brian Young: I always wanted to do something that would make a positive difference to our environment and our world. As a teacher I taught about ecology and the environment and tried to get students working to reduce and recycle our trash. TerraCycle takes that one step farther and really makes trash into new materials and products: we call it “upcycling”.

What got you interested in TerraCycle?

submitted by:
a student at the Week 11 Chat

Yes. We love all of the Polar Huskies equally and appreciate how each one is so unique. So if one of us is in a playful mood we will run around with Luna or Chitwa because they are crazy fun. If we have work to do we will gravitate towards Sable or Goodie because they are all business. And if we are feeling sad we will hang out with Kahn or Jupiter as they always like to give hugs.

Do the Polar Huskies favor any of us? If you were to ask them you would probably get an answer eerily similar to the one above but with our names instead of theirs.

Do have an individual relationship the dogs? Do the polar huskies favor any of you?

submitted by:
abby & briana

Aside from our maps and our knowledge, our best equipment is our ears and our eyes. We can listen for the sound of our footsteps on the ice, as we probe with a ski pole. If the pole breaks through, we know it's dangerous. If the pole or our skis, feet or paws make a hollow sound, we know to be careful. Our most helpful tool is a map. Understanding topography can help to understand flowing water currents, which can often make the ice unsafe. We are careful to study the routes, talk with native people in the communities, and use our common sense.

Do you have any special equipment to help you know how thick the ice is so you know if it's safe for the sled to cross?

submitted by:
Cindy

We need to fix it! We only have the gear that we have with us - but we have a large spare bags with sewing kits, tools and so on, so that we can fix whatever breaks. Sometimes we have to come up with some pretty different solutions to 'fix things' but it very important we always make repairs as soon as possible and not postpone it, because we can never know when we will really need what broke!

What do you do if your gear brakes?

submitted by:
Michael

Ice is dynamic. With changing temperatures in the arctic, large ice masses expand, contract and shift, similar to the plates of the earth. In fact, it is similar to plate tectonics. In some cases a "mountain" of ice is formed when they push together. In others, an open channel is formed, when the ice breaks apart. This is known as a lead.

Mille spoke of leads in the Tuesday audio update. What is a lead?

submitted by:
Suzette

Even though it is so cold outside, there can be open water in the Arctic. Due to currents and, of course, gravity, rivers continue to flow. This flowing water moves along fast enough that ice cannot form.

Why is there water open when it is so cold outside?

submitted by:
Valerie