Trash Can Dan speaks out. Plus, inside the osprey’s nest, tracking the First State’s largest trees, a new recycling campaign goes old school, Wilmington’s green Rocks, volunteers protect threatened shorebirds and more.

Photograph by Luigi Ciuffetelli


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Trash Talk
When it comes to recycling, this soldier for solid waste management is a can on a mission.

Delaware Solid Waste Authority mascot Trash Can Dan recently celebrated his 25th birthday. Dan has dedicated his life to spreading the word about recycling and waste management in the First State. The can man is especially popular with school children, who flock like seagulls to a landfill. DT quizzed the Guru of Garbage about recycling, Earth Day and his thoughts on a certain grouchy Muppet.

DT: When and where were you born?

TCD: I was born on January 31, 1983, at Sandtown Landfill in Felton.

DT: Did you have a happy childhood, or did you start
as a diaper pail or a hazardous waste bin or something like that?

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TCD: When your parents are Dumpsters, trash can is about as small as you get, so I started out this way.

DT: What do you like to eat?

TCD: Garbage, of course. I hate to eat recyclables. They upset my stomach.

DT: Have you ever met Oscar the Grouch?

TCD: No, Oscar the Grouch is on TV and his job is to be a TV star. I’m not concerned with being on TV. I’ve always wanted to do what is right for the environment.

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DT: What are the three most common questions asked by children?

TCD: One: What can they do to help? Two: What happens to all the recycling? Three: Are your feet really that big?

DT: How do you get your message out?

TCD: The main way is through my friends at the Delaware Solid Waste Authority. I join them when they go to visit schools or attend events. I also use coloring books and brochures. I even have my own club—the Clean Up Kids.

DT: When it comes to the environment, what really makes you flip your lid?

TCD: It upsets me that people litter because they are doing neither recycling nor proper disposal. Everyone needs to remember that we all need to do our part in protecting and preserving our environment.

DT: What is the future of recycling in Delaware?

TCD: DSWA has switched both its curbside collection and drop-off programs to single-stream. Also, several yard waste composting drop-offs have been sited around New Castle County.

DT: When asked how things are going, those in the garbage biz like to say things are picking up. Do you find that amusing?

TCD: DSWA only picks up recycling, so I’d have to say that things are picking up in the recycling biz since we have gone from source separation to single-stream. In January DSWA added another 11,000 residents to our single-stream recycling program.

DT: When and where might we see you this month?

TCD: Come see me at DSWA’s Earth Day Festival on April 19 at Killens Pond State Park in Felton. Children can have a lot of fun while they learn about the environment.

To join the Clean Up Kids Club, visit DSWA’s website, call DSWA’s Citizens’ Response Line (800) 404-7080, or visit a DSWA booth at a local event.

—Drew Ostroski



A camera provides a bird’s eye view of an osprey family from move-in
day until the fledglings and parents finally fly the coop.

Must Seahawk TV
Tune in to the adventures of those ornery ospreys as they nest, fish and fledge.

A reality show from Cape Henlopen State Park near Lewes returns this spring. Producers have even added an Internet spin off.

The Osprey Cam—a remote camera atop an 85-foot tower at the SBI Pharma facility near the park’s entrance—sends real-time coverage of an osprey family back to a big-screen TV at the Seaside Nature Center.

The set-up allows visitors an up-close-and-personal look at the birds, also called fish hawks or sea hawks, as they nest, lay eggs, then raise their young. Osprey aficionados can tune in from classrooms and living rooms via streaming video by visiting

A pair of ospreys were expected to move into a local nest after returning from their winter migration in late March. Attracting tenants shouldn’t be a problem. “The nest is like a penthouse suite,” says Seaside Nature Center manager Richard Julian.

The first osprey chick of last year’s brood hatched on June 4 after 41 days of incubation. The chicks fledge in about eight weeks. Claws, one of two hatchlings last year, was outfitted with a satellite transmitter. He currently resides in Venezuela. Claws will spend up to two years in migration before returning to the Cape Henlopen area where he hatched.

In honor of the annual return of the fish hawks, the nature center will host an Osprey Festival with a steel drum band, fun and games for the family, and hayrides that visit osprey nests, on April 5.

For more information, call the nature center at 645-6852, or visit —Drew Ostroski


Richard Pratt has marveled at
Hagley’s massive osage orange
tree for more than 20 years.
Photograph by Pat Crowe II

Hugged a Tree Lately?
The First State may not rate on the national list of champion trees, but we can still be proud of our roots. In honor of Arbor Day, here are 10 of our most impressive forest dwellers. (Thanks to Richard Pratt, garden and grounds supervisor at Hagley Museum & Library, and Henry Poole of the Delaware Department of Agriculture Forest Service, for their help.)

To see the largest number of impressive trees in one area, head to Hagley. The grounds pack the most bark for your buck—110 species, including 18 state champions. For a complete list of the state’s champion trees, check out the “Big Trees of Delaware” at

—Drew Ostroski


Catching the Bug by Collecting the Trash
The 1950s were an age of beatniks, Brylcreem and some pretty effective marketing strategies. DelDOT and the Division of Motor Vehicles have brought back one of the best, the “Don’t Be A Litterbug” campaign, complete with retro billboards, antique cars and a surprisingly attractive cartoon bug. “It’s a whole retro theme,” says Tina Schockley, coordinator of DelDOT’s Adopt-A-Highway program. “The antique cars are cool, the billboard itself is neat, and the message is still the same.” The campaign has worked. Dozens of former Adopt-A-Highway volunteer groups returned to the program. “It was the first year since I’ve been here that we had a dozen inactive groups go back to active,” she says. Interested in adopting a highway? Call 760-2080. —Matt Amis


Green Drinks meets in Newark on the first Tuesday of every
month. (left) John and Lori Lake started the Delaware chapter
of Green Drinks in October.(right)

Breathing, Eating and Drinking Green
When John and Lori Lake started remodeling their flood-damaged home in Chesapeake City, they knew they wanted to rebuild in an eco-friendly manner. They just didn’t know how hard it would be to find good advice.

“We wanted to talk to someone instead of reading a pamphlet,” Lori says. “We wanted to ask questions of people with personal experiences, which was tough to find.”

What the couple found was Green Drinks, an international social network that gathers eco-minded individuals at bars and restaurants to talk green living, green power, green transportation, green legislation, green advocacy and green everything else. Without hesitation, the Lakes started a Delaware chapter in October.

“We get people who want to change their lifestyles or redo their house,” Lake says. “They want to talk to people who’ve been there and done that.”

Get-togethers are unstructured. There are no speakers or PowerPoint presentations, no agendas or memberships—just a chance to talk green over a cool beverage.

About 50 people show up for Green Drinks at T.G.I. Friday’s in Newark on the first Tuesday of every month. Discussion topics range from indoor-air quality and water usage to state legislation. Some go to talk about planting native plants in their yard. Others want to learn how to save on oil, gas and electricity.

Everybody from business owners, health and wellness experts, politicians and concerned citizens has turned out for Green Drinks, Lake says.

“People interested in the environment are no longer seen as these sandal-wearing hippie types,” Lake says. “It’s really for
everyone.” —Matt Amis


Mr. Celery shows why the Blue Rocks are
considered vegetarian friendly.

Healthy Homers
The Wilmington Blue Rocks and Frawley Stadium scored kudos last season from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which ranked the team No. 9 out of 10 on its first list of vegetarian-friendly minor league stadiums.

The Kansas City Royals farm club serves veggie burgers and garden salads, as well as ballpark staples like Cracker Jacks, peanuts, pretzels and popcorn. Technically, that’s all vegetable fare.

“Frawley Stadium’s great vegetarian selection benefits both animals and the health of fans, who will be less likely to keel over from a meat-induced heart attack as they cheer the next Blue Rocks home run,” says Dan Shannon, assistant director of PETA.

Having a 6-foot celery man appear at the games didn’t hurt Frawley’s case.

“We talked about celery and peanut butter because of Mr. Celery,” says general manager Chris Kemple. “I don’t think PETA even knew about him. That might’ve bumped us up a couple spots.”

The Rocks, which will also bring us Mullet Night, Hasselhoff Night and Hair Loss Appreciation Night this season, aren’t ruling out a vegetarian-themed promotion. “I think it’s possible,” Kemple says. “Anything’s possible.” —Matt Amis


During last summer’s adventure, Bret Strogen helped
EarthCorps volunteers remove invasive blackberry.

Trail Blazer
Last summer Bret Strogen hit the road for what may be the ultimate eco tour.

The University of Delaware grad endured a 7,000-mile, 53-day cross-country bus trip—in a bus fueled by biodiesel, of course—to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Udall Foundation and to publicize the foundation’s environmental public service efforts.

Strogen, 26, was impressed by a Philadelphia facility that makes biodiesel from food grease. He also learned more about a process that uses wastewater sludge, including blood waste from canneries and hospitals, to produce natural gas.

Along the way, Strogen and fellow Udall Foundation scholarship program alumni touted the work of Congressman Morris K. Udall, whose organization addresses issues related to natural resources, the environment, government reform and American Indians.

“Energy was my role,” says Strogen, an environmental engineer who developed events around the use of biofuels and alternative energies. During the trip, he monitored the bus’ emissions and posted results on the web.

The 14 participants, half of them vegetarians, were careful to stop at local farmer’s markets and to patronize restaurants that use locally produced organic foods. They visited a “progressive” gas station that carries biofuels, was built on reclaimed contaminated property, had a vegetated roof with solar panels, and sold local organic produce and other healthy foods. Other stops included volunteering for an EarthCorps project that removes invasive ivy and blackberry. The group also visited Indian reservations.

“Concern for the environment,” Strogen says, “is mainly a concern for being fair and just to future communities that live on our land-planet in hopes that they can enjoy a quality of life at least as good as ours.” —Drew Ostroski


Adult piping plovers escort their young to water’s
edge to feed. Photograph by Gary Cooke

Lovers of Plovers
Volunteers help keep threatened shorebirds safe.

Doug Miller of Lewes is a rare breed. So are the birds he protects. “I think I’ve only seen one in four years,” he says.

Though many serious surf fishermen resent the tiny piping plovers, which force some of the best fishing beaches in the state to be closed for months, Miller and his wife, Dot, adore them.

“Some say, ‘Piping plover—tastes like chicken,’” Miller says. “We like to fish, and you have to give back to the environment. You can’t come down here and drive all over the place and take and not give back.”

The Millers will soon begin their fifth season as plover watchers for the Delaware Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, which has protected the migratory shorebirds since 1989. Plovers reached the brink of extinction in the mid-’80s due to loss of habitat and human interference during the breeding season.

Program manager Matthew Bailey says protection is working. In 1989 there were only two pairs nesting in Delaware. Last year there were nine, and they produced a dozen fledglings.

Every Saturday from May to September, the Millers take their spot on the beach near Gordon’s Pond in Cape Henlopen State Park for a four-hour shift. They educate passers-by about the plight of the plover and attempt to keep people from disturbing nesting areas.

“Piping plovers are part of the whole mosaic of species,” Bailey says. “They are part of the food chain. If they disappear, it’s possible that the whole triangle can collapse.”

This year’s training session for volunteers is May 3 at the park’s Biden Center. For more information, contact Bailey at 382-4151 or at —Drew Ostroski

Our Women in Business Upstate Luncheon Is December 6!