Welcome, HeadsUp Readers!
Here we are, beginning the month of March. The last month of the first quarter of 2019. The month with the Ides of March, of which we should beware. It was also the month Christopher Columbus returned from the Americas to Spain. In fact, he landed on the Ides of March. So many endings which by their own nature become beginnings.
In 2011, Headworks was awarded a project by the City of Tomball, Texas, once famously known as the “Oil City.” The City is rich in history, and you can read about it in this month’s Case Study. The City wanted to end the amount of debris getting into their wastewater treatment plant by installing a screen which would remove anything larger than 6 millimeters. The screen has been operating successfully for these 8 years and the operators there are extremely satisfied with the benefits they are seeing downstream with all of the rags and trash no longer clogging up other equipment. Headworks ended their headaches so they could begin to focus on other maintenance matters.
What I would really like to end is the use of plastic water bottles. Countries, cities and some US states are moving to ban one-use plastics, which is a great trend. But what really makes me crazy, though, are charities which use plastic bottles of water to raise money for clean water initiatives. Using plastic bottled water to help the water crisis is what? Not really an oxymoron. Nor a paradox. Although it feels like both in some ways. I’ve written a total diatribe on how I really feel about these funding campaigns, what happens to plastic when it breaks down in the oceans, and how we can do better. And I am asking charities to stop this method of fundraising now, please! You can skip the article, but when next you are in Starbucks, also skip buying their bottled water Ethos. Plastic bottles are never charitable. We can end this and start a new beginning with paper boxes.
I was going to write about pesticides in our beer and wine, but after writing the article on plastic water bottles, I feel that covering pesticides at this point would be too much of a Debbie Downer moment. I’ll save the topic for next month, even though ending pesticides in our drinks is definitely something we should think about.
So, if the plastic piece got you down, or something else is frustrating you at times, here is a Harvard Business Review article with a few great ways to end a bad mood. As they discuss, negativity doesn’t just affect you, it spreads like wildfire to those around you. We all have trying days now and then, but remembering to find things we are grateful for when that Debbie or Don Downer mood first strikes, for example, can help you end the downward spiral for you and those nearby!
And me? I’m extremely grateful for all of the kind HeadsUp readers! And now it’s time to end this Newsletter…
Until April, when we begin again!
Headworks International Inc.
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Learn about the City of Tomball’s interesting history and why they chose Headworks Perforator™
Headworks’ Perforator™ Helps Clean Up Oil City, Texas
The City of Tomball, Texas is located approximately 30 miles northwest of Houston. Settlers began arriving from Europe in the mid-1800s, attracted to its lush forests that reminded them of the Black Forest of Germany.
The area was originally a railroad stop named Peck. In 1907, Peck was renamed “Tomball” in honor of the man, Thomas Ball, who was responsible for routing the railroad and its operations through the small town. Thomas Ball was a lawyer for the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railroad, a former Congressman, and is also known as the “Father of the Port of Houston.”
In 1933, the Humble Oil Company struck oil southwest of Tomball, earning it the nickname of “Oiltown USA”. Humble Oil Company, now known as Exxon, and numerous other energy companies have produced more than 100 million barrels of oil and 316 billion cubic feet of natural gas in and around Tomball! The city has an interesting history. To learn more, you can click here.
In 2011, The City of Tomball advertised for a project to replace its wastewater screens, which included a new Perforated Plate Screen and a Washer Compactor for its 1.5 MGD South Wastewater Treatment Plant. In May of 2011, the City of Tomball and JTR Constructors, Inc. selected the Headworks Perforator perforated plate screen and its Screwpactor Washer Compactor for the project. The Headworks Perforator is sized for a Peak Flow of 6.0 MGD and installed in a Channel that is 3’-6 wide and 4’-6 deep. The stainless steel screening surface has 6 mm Perforations.
All of the captured debris is discharged into a Headworks Screwpactor Washer Compactor. The Perforator and Screwpactor went into service in November 2011. Plant staff recently told us that the Screen and Washer Compactor are working well and removing a lot of rags and other materials which come in with the wastewater, protecting the downstream equipment from filling up with these materials. Check out the picture of how compressed these particles become by the time they exit the Compactor.
With Treatments Plants looking to remove more and smaller materials from the incoming flow, the Perforator Perforated Plate Screen is the obvious choice for increased Capture Rates. Headworks International has the team that can bring you the 4 E’s: effective, efficient, economical, and easy-to-use solutions. With 25 years of experience in every type of industry and municipality, our talented engineers will have the right solution for your screening and compacting needs. Contact our local manufacturers’ representative or our sales engineers at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1.713.647.6667 to discuss how we can get you the results you’re looking for! See all our product lines and read more about how we solve problems around the world at www.headworksinternational.com.
How charities can raise funds for clean water without dirtying the ocean.
Learn how here.
If you are a regular HeadsUp newsletter reader, you already know that one of my major concerns involves the use of plastic water bottles and what their disposal is doing to our environment. I’ve been writing since 2010 about the disaster caused by the billions of plastic bottles discarded each year. Awareness of the problem seems to be increasing, but there still is a long way to go if we are going to turn around the environmental damage already done and avoid more.
What drives me crazy is that there are a number of charitable foundations using plastic bottles to raise funds for aiding the water crisis and I’d like to ask them all here and now to stop, please. There is another simple solution you can use which makes a better statement for your mission. But first, why should plastic not be a choice for anything?
Plastic has become a major pollutant. Worse yet, micro-plastics can be found in just about everything we eat that originates from the sea. The US government doesn’t think these small particles have a health impact on us, but they really don’t know. But just thinking about biology and what these tiny foreign particles mean to your body’s liver, pancreas and kidneys, wouldn’t it be better to err on the side of caution? Really, nothing good can come of this.
Maybe you don’t mind microplastic in your body, but the massive dead zones in the oceans and gulfs are surely of concern. Trash islands now are bigger than some states in the USA. Not our little micro-states, either. The Great Pacific Trash Island is now twice the size of Texas! I live in Texas and it can take 16+ hours to drive across it on the highways. Double that and you get an idea of how big this trash island is.
And nothing that has been tried to collect the trash and remove it has worked so far. The latest project I’ve heard of, The Ocean Cleanup Project, unfortunately failed after a $20MM USD effort. Plastic Ocean International is raising awareness along with other concerned organizations and individuals. One of their initiatives is a documentary called A Plastic Ocean and you can watch the trailer on YouTube to get a quick visual understanding of the vast scope of the problem.
What happens to these plastics? They break down into microplastics. The following is a quote from an extensive article on Microplastic Contamination in the Food Supply Chain in Food Safety Magazine:
Effect of Microplastics on Human Health
It is evident that the potential accumulation of microplastics in the food chain could have adverse effects on human health like other chemical contaminants relevant to food safety. Studies have confirmed unusually high levels of microplastics in seafood. Therefore, there is no doubt human beings are exposed to higher levels of microplastics. Several studies have confirmed adverse effects on animals as follows:
• Reproduction in marine animals is affected by exposure to polystyrene microplastics
• Endocrine disruption in adult freshwater fish from ingestion of PE
• Altered gene expression was observed in male fish exposed to plastic
However, there is still a knowledge gap regarding the specific threats, toxicities, and adverse health effects in humans posed by the ingestion of microplastic-contaminated food.
So, let me get this right: microplastics in marine animals affect their reproduction, disrupt their endocrine functions, and alter their genes. And we are thinking, hey, maybe it’s not a problem for people. Say what? If you want to dig further into the issue of toxicity in humans, here is a link to an enlightening article entitled Microplastics in Seafood and the Implications for Human Health published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
Plastics slowly break down into microplastics. Here’s a photo from that article of a water bottle on the ocean floor.
Look familiar? When we go to Starbucks, and buy a plastic bottle of their Ethos water, what are we really doing? Here’s what Starbucks advertises about this product on their website:
“Ethos® Water raises awareness and provides children with access to clean water. Every time you buy a bottle, $.05 US ($.10 in Canada) is contributed to the Ethos® Water Fund, part of the Starbucks Foundation. Over $7.38 million has been granted to help support water, sanitation and hygiene education programs in water-stressed countries – helping over 430,000 people around the world.”
This is a wonderful Fund which has helped people, no doubt in my mind, who desperately needed access to clean water. But at what price? Is it an oxymoron to sell plastic bottled water to help water? Or a paradox in literary terms? Whatever the right term for it, plastic bottles in charity campaigns is the worst possible way to help the water crisis in the world. I don’t believe that it is part of our ethos to disregard our waterways and recklessly add to the sometimes seemingly insurmountable problem of plastic contamination.
As the Guardian article about the failed Ocean Cleanup Project linked here states, the best solution so far is making sure that plastic doesn’t reach our waterways or oceans in the first place. Headworks is extremely proud of the work we’ve done for 25 years to remove debris, including plastics, from storm and sewage waters before returning them to the sea. But we need everyone working together, especially water-focused charities. It is terribly misguided to use plastic at all in any fund-raising effort. Period.
OK, this sounds like a total diatribe. And it is, so I’ll stop. But never come to me with a problem without a possible solution is my mantra at work and, so, I’m practicing what I preach here. There is such an obvious solution. We’ve all seen it every time we buy a carton of milk. It’s called paper.
I first saw a teenager drinking from this boxed water in an airport and snapped a photo of the box with her permission. It’s brilliant and at the same time obvious. But I’m not seeing it in the stores very often. You can order it online here and even buy one of their cute statement T-Shirts and let everyone know that Boxed Water is Better. I’m hoping the concept itself starts getting traction with other bottled water providers making the switch to paper, starting with all of the charities focused on helping bring clean water to people in need or improving the waterways and oceans.
Paper in a land fill doesn’t degrade any faster than plastic, generally. But there’s a big difference to the environment when it ends up in the rivers and oceans. Not that it should end up there, but given that Americans alone through away over 35 billion plastic bottles a year, only 5% of plastic is recycled, and unlike paper, plastic is not biodegradable, the choice seems obvious.
Happiness is a choice and there are ways to engage your brain when those negative thoughts occur.
Gain happiness here.
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