October 21st, 2015

Could a Gecko be the Solution to Ford’s Next Environmental Effort?

Posted by Lisa Carey

Image By: Bart Everson

We recently told you about how Ford is leading the way with the recycling of parts from their vehicles. While they are doing quite a bit, I sort of wondered why they didn’t do more. So I asked them and found out that Ford wants to recycle more parts, but there is one thing standing in their way – glue. Apparently  a key challenge to more recycling is that the glue used to adhere foams to plastics and metals make disassembling parts for recycling nearly impossible. But they aren’t going to let that stop them. Instead they turned to science and nature working in collaboration with P&G and The Biomimicry Institute, Ford researchers are studying the gecko’s sticky toe pads for clues to improve adhesiveness and increase the recyclability of their vehicle parts.

Related content: Ford Core Recovery Program: Keeping vehicle parts out of landfills

Ford Motor Company recently hosted a biomimicry workshop at its Dearborn campus with participation from Procter & Gamble and The Biomimicry Institute. Biomimicry is an innovative approach that looks to nature for sustainable solutions to modern-day challenges and Ford is looking into the possibility that biomimetic innovations could transform the interior design of Ford vehicles. I’m sure it wouldn’t stop there, there are probably all sorts of applications this science could be used for making other items more eco-friendly.

Why are they looking at the gecko? The lizard’s toe pads allow it to stick to most surfaces without liquids or surface tension. The reptile can then easily release itself, leaving no residue. I know this from experience as I tried to get rid of the ones that like to hang out on my back porch.

Just think, if the typical mature gecko weighing 2.5 ounces is capable of supporting 293 pounds, what it could accomplish if that substance could be recreated! The gecko could inspire a host of adhesive innovations  “Solving this problem could provide cost savings and certainly an environmental savings,” said Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader for plastics and sustainability research. “It means we could increase the recycling of more foam and plastics, and further reduce our environmental footprint.”

What is The Biomimicry Institute? It is a nonprofit organization “that empowers people to seek nature-inspired solutions for a healthy planet.” It is committed to promoting the innovative approach of looking to nature for sustainable solutions to modern-day challenges. At the recent forum in Dearborn, Ford, Proctor and Gamble and nearly 200 researchers and designers took part in a day-long session to learn about biomimicry and how to apply it to their work.

Apparently biomimicry is not a new idea. Several other innovations have been inspired by nature and created by science. Did you know that the The Bullet Train in Shinkansen, Japan was inspired by the kingfisher and improved medical needles were developed based on the mosquito. Interest in the approach has increased in the last decade as awareness of climate change and environmental challenges is heightened, said Gretchen Hooker, project manager for design challenges at The Biomimicry Institute.

When we talked here on Greenjoyment about the  Ford Motor Company wins Altair award and progresses with sustainability we discussed how Ford is using natural products like corn, soy and even yams to create more sustainable products. Yams are used to create seating and headliner materials. Additionally Ford is the only automaker to use Unifi’s high-performance REPREVE fiber. This fiber is made from 100 percent recycled materials including plastic bottles. You can find REPREVE in the new F-150, Explorer, Edge, Focus Electric and Fusion.  The turning towards the Gecko was just the next step in their continuing commitment toward a continued global sustainability strategy to lessen this brands environmental footprint.

“As we look to further our commitment to reducing our environmental footprint, taking a holistic, biomimetic approach makes sense because nature has efficiencies in design and uses minimal resources,” said Carol Kordich, global sustainable fabric strategies and development, Ford. “Nature is the ultimate guide.”


October 6th, 2015

California Pizza Kitchen making great green restaurant improvements

Posted by Lisa Carey

california pizza kitchen

While at a brand new California Pizza Kitchen in the greater Houston area for my daughter’s birthday I found out that CPK has not only brought the great, fresh food and menus of California to their restaurants but also some great green improvements to their inside of their restaurants.

Instead of shipping food across the country, CPK tries to source as much as possible from local providers. Many of the things I was eating came from local farmers. I like knowing I’m not only going green, but supporting local farmers businesses.

Walls, tables and doors are made from reclaimed oak; counter tops of natural stone and the reclaimed oak is harvested by hand from old buildings that are no longer in use. The beams and planks are all meticulously disassembled, piece-by-piece, then transported to a mill.  There, all harvested material is carefully scanned to remove nails and hardware and then it is milled to the desired color and finished with a protective clear coat finish. All surface materials can be sanded down and refinished multiple times over the course of a lifetime to promote sustainability. Tabletops are made from salvaged oak, timber cut with little to no waste. This cut is essential to achieve a food grade rating as required for commercial environments.  All salvage metals used for the California Pizza Kitchen chair glides, table bases, barstools and dining chairs are made from reclaimed materials sourced from barns, residential homes and other structures that are no longer in use. Shipping pallets are the #1 use for newly constructed wood products.

california pizza kitchen

One recycled item that our family was fascinated by was the “tile” work. We found out that it’s actually recycled skateboards, which are then broken down into pieces and reassembled to create the unique, yet distinctive look inside of California Pizza Kitchen dining rooms.

“It’s pretty exciting to be a part of a company that’s so focused on the quality of the product,” said Josh Kiblinger, general manager. “They want to have that mindset and culture of being people who aren’t wasteful. It’s really about that California lifestyle and California culture. They’re just doing it because they know that it’s the right thing to do.”

Additionally California Pizza Kitchen is including sustainability in their building and engineering. Look for:

  • Lighting – LEED-certified lighting platforms and lights are throughout in all new construction.
  • Kitchen Equipment – Installations feature well-rated Energy Star equipment package.
  • Water Heaters: Plumbing upgrades, or new builds, CPK installs tankless water heaters and this gives greater efficiency in saving gas and water.
  • Re-Modeled Bathrooms: Waterless urinals (that saves 35,000-40,000 gallons per year); Flow restrictors are installed in sinks, lavs and restrooms
  • Dishwashing is a restaurants biggest water user and while sanitation and cleanliness is a top priority, there are ways to do this more efficiently.  Here’s a few things that CPK is doing  to save water, but maintain high quality standards for sanitation and cleanliness: 
    • Dishers: We are installing low-flow spraying nozzles on our dishers to reduce water use as we prep dishes for the machines.
    • Preventative Maintenance: We have a program in place to routinely calibrate our machines to make sure that they are running properly. This helps us conserve both energy and water.

The restaurants may not be LEED certified, the corporate office located in Playa Vista (the new Silicon Beach) is a LEED certified building and CPK is doing their best to make the most environmentally conscious decisions for the company.


September 28th, 2015

Exotic Pet Amnesty Day sponsored by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Posted by Lisa Carey

exotic pet amnesty day

Do you have an exotic pet that you are no longer able to care for? For Exotic Pet Amnesty Day you can help your pet find a new and healthy home, as well as surrender it without any penalties or fines. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park are offering exotic pet owners the opportunity to save a pet on Oct. 3 in Fort Walton Beach.

Mark your calendar:

October 3, 2015
Saturday 10am-2pm

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park
1010 Miracle Strip Parkway SE
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548

This free event is open to the public and will be held in front of Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, 1010 Miracle Strip Parkway SE, Fort Walton Beach. Admission to the park is not included. Surrendered animals will be accepted between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. These animals will be checked by a veterinarian and made available for adoption by experienced individuals who are capable of caring for them.

Accepted animals include:

  • Reptiles
  • Amphibians
  • Mammals
  • Birds
  • Fish
  • Invertebrates

Domestic animals, such as cats and dogs, will not be accepted. For each animal surrendered, individuals will receive two free admission passes to the Gulfarium.

For additional information call the FWC’s Exotic Species Hotline at 888-Ive-Got1 (888-483-4681). Exotic pet owners who cannot attend this event may call this number for assistance in finding a new home for their animal.

Not an exotic pet owner? That’s okay, there is plenty for you to do at the Gulfarium on Exotic Pet Amnesty Day. Bring the family and consult experts from the FWC, Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park and other local organizations will be on hand with information about caring for exotic pets, responsible pet ownership and potential ecological impacts of invasive species in Florida. Families can enjoy the opportunity to see several species of exotic animals and participate in crafts and games. Gulfarium park admission is not included, but is available for purchase.

Becoming an adoptive exotic pet owner:

Animals will be available for adoption after 2 p.m. Exotic pet adopters must be experienced and must have already applied and been approved by the FWC prior to the event. Potential adopters need to bring their acceptance letters with them. People can find adopter applications at MyFWC.com/Nonnatives. Becoming an adopter is free, but people are required to register a minimum of five days prior to the event to adopt an animal.

Answers to additional questions regarding the event, adopting and surrendering your pet can be found online at the FWC.

Why should you surrender at an exotic animal amnesty event? By surrendering your animal to be adopted you are helping to make sure they find a new good home and are not released into into Florida’s natural areas. With more than 500 fish and wildlife nonnative species, also known as exotic species, have been observed in Florida. While not all nonnative species present a threat to native species, some have become invasive by causing harm to native species, posing a threat to human health and safety, or causing economic and ecological damage. An amnesty event such as this one can help prevent that. Organizations can also contact the FWC to create an amnesty day event at their location.



September 25th, 2015

Goodwill and Hotel Transylvania 2 encourage going green for Halloween

Posted by Lisa Carey


Halloween is just around the corner and one of the easiest ways to go green for Halloween is to have a season filled with “goodwill.” Heading to your Goodwill store and recycling or upcycling the clothing and accessories you find there can not only save you money, but help you be creative with your costumes for the whole family.

For example, for a mighty Minions costume consider a yellow long sleeved shirt, with denim overalls. Add goggles, swimming goggles or glasses and a black gloves and tights or leggings. Top things off with a yellow headband for the girls and you have not only given new life to an old outfit, but created a costume your children will love, and maybe even use again.

How is Goodwill and Hotel Transylvania 2 encouraging going green for Halloween? Goodwill Industries International is teaming up with Sony Pictures Entertainment for the release of the animated film, Hotel Transylvania 2, to encourage people across the United States and Canada to do their Halloween shopping at Goodwill’s more than 3,000 stores or online at shopgoodwill.com®. Goodwill and Sony Pictures unite with the message “Be Your Own Monster,” urging consumers to make Goodwill their Halloween Headquarters for creating unique, affordable costumes — even costumes based on one of the movie’s characters, such as Dracula, Mavis or Frank. When costume seekers shop at Goodwill, they help people in their communities get job training, earn jobs and access other community-based services.  Sony Pictures Animation’s “Hotel Transylvania 2” will be released in theaters nationwide on September 25, 2015.

To find a Goodwill location near you, use the online locator at Goodwill.org, use the Goodwill Locator app at goodwill.org/apps, or call (800) GOODWILL. Follow us on Twitter: @GoodwillIntl and @GoodwillCapHill, and find us on Facebook: GoodwillIntl.

Need help deciding how to Be Your Own Monster? Check out their website and interactive video for a ton of how-to videos for crafts, make up, etc. inspired by the new film HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2.  You can also download this  Goodwill Costume Generator Lookbook of costumes you can easily find and make at Goodwill stores.
About Hotel Transylvania 2
In Genndy Tartakovsky’s Hotel Transylvania 2 from Sony Pictures Animation, Drac’s pack is back for an all-new monster comedy adventure!  Everything seems to be changing for the better at Hotel Transylvania…  Dracula’s rigid monster-only hotel policy has finally relaxed, opening up its doors to human guests. But behind closed coffins, Drac is worried that his adorable half-human, half-vampire grandson, Dennis, isn’t showing signs of being a vampire. So while Mavis is busy visiting her human in-laws with Johnny – and in for a major cultural shock of her own – “Vampa” Drac enlists his friends Frank, Murray, Wayne and Griffin to put Dennis through a “monster-in-training” boot camp.  But little do they know that Drac’s grumpy and very old, old, old school dad Vlad is about to pay a family visit to the hotel.  And when Vlad finds out that his great-grandson is not a pure blood – and humans are now welcome at Hotel Transylvania – things are going to get batty!  The film is directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, written by Robert Smigel & Adam Sandler, and produced by Michelle Murdocca.

September 17th, 2015

Learning about monkeys and their environment with Monkey Kingdom free printables

Posted by Lisa Carey

Download Monkey Kingdom Activities

Thanks to shows from DisneyNature our family has learned a lot about the natural world and the creatures in it. From Disneynature, the studio that brought you Chimpanzee and Bears, comes MONKEY KINGDOM, a spectacular tale set among ancient ruins in the storied jungles of South Asia. Maya, a clever and resourceful monkey, and her family will make you laugh and warm your heart as she realizes her dreams for her son’s future. Narrated by Tina Fey, own this breathtaking feature film on Digital HD, Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA) & Blu-ray Combo Pack on September 15. Enjoy this must-own film and Disneynature will donate a portion of first-week sales to Conservation International to help protect endangered species in their natural habitats.

To celebrate I found these fun and free printable activities which, along with the movie taught my children a great deal about monkey’s, their habitat, habits and environment.

  • Monkey Maze
  • Monkey Quiz: Fun facts about monkeys and their environment
  • Monkey Wordfind: Words associated with monkeys

For more thoughts about the DisneyNature series of movies see:

Disneynature Earth Takes You to the Ends of the Planet
African Cats: Disneynature Ventures into Africa’s Heartland
DisneyNature Chimpanzee: My family is wild about ‘Chimpanzee’
Crimson Wing: Flamingos and the Mystery of Behavior
Disney Nature’s Bears on Blu-ray and DVD


September 14th, 2015

Ford Core Recovery Program: Keeping vehicle parts out of landfills

Posted by Lisa Carey

Ford Recovery Program

Image used by permission of Ford.

Ever wonder what happens to dented car bumpers, cracked headlights and discarded engine parts? They used to get dumped into landfills. Nowadays, many parts have a second life after being repaired, remanufactured, resold or recycled.  Across the country, Ford has helped keep about 140 million pounds of damaged vehicle parts out of landfills.

“Most parts that come back to us through the program still have a lot of life left,” says Goering. “Even more important, however, is that Ford strongly believes it’s just the right thing to do from an environmental perspective.”

I’m in the Houston area and so I was interested specifically in what happens here. I was able to talk to a Ford representative and found that in Ford’s Houston Region, more than 400,000 pounds of automotive parts are being diverted from landfills every year.

How does it work?

It operates exactly like bottle return systems used in some parts of the United States. Dealers pay a “core charge” on each new part bought from Ford to replace a damaged one. When the original damaged part is returned to Ford, the dealer gets the money from the core charge back.

Ford uses a proprietary bar code system to keep track of every single part collected. Once collected, each part is evaluated for either recycling or re-manufacturing potential.

Parts recycled are sent to third-party processors and the raw material is resold.

When parts are re-manufactured, they are cleaned, machined and tested to meet Ford quality standards. Like the raw material that comes from recycling, the parts that are re-manufactured can then be sold or used in new applications. In the rare instances when recycling or re-manufacturing is not an option, Ford ensures proper disposal.

What are some of the items Ford recycles?

More than 85 percent of each Ford vehicle today is recyclable. Parts which are part of the program, include headlights and bumpers. Approximately 62,000 bumpers have been recycled through the program since being added in 2010. Approximately 26,000 Headlights recycled through the program since 2010.

Bumpers are now collected and sent to a third party where they are processed into pellets that can then be used to make brand-new products.

Ford was the first automaker to develop this type of reuse and recycling program when it launched nearly 13 years ago.

August 5th, 2015

Ford Motor Company wins Altair award and progresses with sustainability

Posted by Lisa Carey

20150624_154057Ford Motor Company has been a leader in the automotive industry when it comes to sustainability. The company believes that the choice of materials used to make an automobile is important to the vehicles life cycle. This is why using sustainable materials throughout the entire process of vehicle creation is a key component to Ford vehicles.

Ford is constantly in the process of increasing the sustainable materials used in their vehicles while eliminating the undesirable elements. Some of the things that Ford has done include improving resource efficiency by replacing petroleum and other nonrenewable resources with plant-based materials, using conflict-free minerals, improve resource efficiency by recycling consumer and industrial waste and by decreasing the use of materials that have negative environmental and human impacts.

“It’s better for the environment whenever you use a plant-based material,” Debbie Mielewski, senior technical leader of materials sustainability at Ford’s Research and Innovation Centre in Dearborn, Mich. told The Globe and Mail, “These materials truly are lower greenhouse gas emissions than the petroleum which we’re replacing.”

I recently had the opportunity to talk to representatives from Ford and see exactly how they are using eco-friendly materials in their cars, trucks, SUVs and crossovers. I was surprised to learn that they have actually been developing sustainability efforts for many years.


In 2008, Ford began to introduce soy foam as seat cushions. The first automobile to premier with the plant-based renewable resource was the 2008 mustang.  The company has since progressed to using recycled money for consoles, using lightweight materials that improve environmental and social performance, and has begun looking into using bamboo instead of wood.

The use of lightweight materials has earned Ford the Altair Enlighten Award. Altair together with the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) awarded Ford Motor Company for its progressive use of various lightweight materials to minimize the weight of the 2015 Ford F-150. The award is the automotive industry’s first award program created to acknowledge innovation in vehicle weight reduction.

“As America’s truck leader, Ford is honored to be named the 2015 Altair Enlighten Award winner for the all-new Ford F-150,” said Raj Nair, Group Vice President, Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer, Ford Motor Company. “This award is recognition of our outstanding team members, who set out to build the best truck ever for our customers.”



July 22nd, 2015

HR1599 DARK ACT if passed will stops GMO labeling: Call your representative now

Posted by Lisa Carey

gmo labels around the world

Congress will vote on HR1599 this week. The bill has been referred to as the DARK ACT and the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act” depending on if you support the bill or oppose it.  The bill would make it illegal for states to pass GMO labeling and would also prohibit states or counties from banning or regulating GMOs. GMOs are genetically modified organisms whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques.

It is the consumer’s right to know what he or she is purchasing. Much of the content currently on food labels is government mandated. It is meant to inform consumers about information that they want to know. There are labels for “organic,” “wild caught” or “farmed fish,” and numerous labels that warn of products being processed in factories that also process milk, peanuts and other common allergens. These labels are meant to inform the public of what is in their food.

Are you one of the many who believe labeling of our foods is important? Then take a minute and let the Quaker and their parent company know it’s important to you. Sign this petition, which offers a pre-written letter or you can add your own language.  Then pass it on to a friend.

An overwhelming number of Americans want to know where their food comes from and whether or not it is a GMO product. The latest polls by Mellman group show that a majority of Americans across all segments of society support GMO food labeling. The research shows that 9 in 10 believe labels are important for consumers.

“The Monsanto Protection Act is back, and it’s even worse than before. This bill would strip away a state or local government’s basic rights of local control, and hands the biotech industry everything it wants on a silver platter. No Member of Congress that cares about the rights and concerns of his or her constituents should support this bill,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director at Center for Food Safety.

Consumers can learn about what is in HR1599 by reading the text of the bill online. The bill would make it near impossible for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to implement mandatory nationwide labeling and it would also bar states from restricting the growth of GE crops.

Many organization are offering to help concerned citizens voice their opinions on HR1599 including Just Label It, the Center for Food Safety, and Food Democracy Now.

Find out who your Congressional Representative is and call them to tell them to OPPOSE HR1599.  Find out who your representative is. Tell them to OPPOSE HR1599 because you have a right to know what is in your food and this bill has been created to prevent you from ever knowing.

Call (202) 224-3121 and tell your Representative to OPPOSE HR 1599. If the line is busy, you can look up your Representative’s direct phone number here.





July 15th, 2015

Green Kid Crafts: Recycled craft creation, STEM activities and imagination

Posted by Lisa Carey

Green Kid Crafts

Last summer my girls attended a robotics camp and loved putting together their own robots and learning new skills each day. Since then they have been interested even more in creating their own robots, spending one day at a center in Destin, Florida asking them all about the robotics featured there. So this month when the Green Kid Crafts Robots kit notice came in my email I was pretty excited to see what it offered. Not only does it combine the kids interest in robots and crafts, but my interest in recycling and upcycling. How? Because the Green Kid Crafts use recycled materials to create amazing projects for your kids to enjoy making and playing with.

Using Green Kid Crafts is easy. It’s a monthly program with fun, creative and earth-friendly craft projects, delivered each month. It’s been especially useful during the summer months and a whole lot less expensive than camp.

Here’s how it works. You get a free sample trial to get started. Your first sample sized trial kit comes with a DIY Wings kit from their Interesting Insects Discovery Boxes. The kit includes everything you need to make your own wearable wings. It also includes a bonus of the Lorax Magazine. The sample kit is $4.95 for shipping and you can cancel at any time. Once you do the free trial it enrolls you in the monthly membership and you can have one month of service, 3, 6 or 12 months. You can even give it as a gift.

Every month’s Discovery Box is packed with 4-7 unique and engaging activity kits which encourage creativity and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). I found out they have new themes now available including Outer Space, Backyard Science and Nocturnal Animals just to name a few. Your membership also comes with access to puzzles, games, reading list and more which compliment the boxes. You can purchase single boxes too.

All of the materials in Green Kid Crafts line of craft kits and supplies meet many sustainability standards and are reusable, recyclable and/or compostable and sourced from nature. You can see more specifics on their ‘eco ingredients’ here.

Green Kid Crafts has a number of awards, including Dr. Toy’s Best Green Products, Parent’s Choice Recommended, and Green America Approved Business. I think there are great for homeschooling, as well as the summer months. It provides the kids with learning experiences and I’m thrilled I’m recycling. What better way to spend some time together as a family than having science, creativity and the environment meet?






July 2nd, 2015

Sweet Summertime Fun that Goes Green on the Grill

Posted by Lisa Carey

Image By: Brendan C/Flickr

Your next BBQ should be fun filled but doesn’t have to fill up lands fills. Here are tips and ideas for keeping your next cook out party and weekends eco-friendly. With long holiday weekends and summer time many friends and families will spending some time in the great outdoors cooking out. Many of us have greened our daily living routines and are choosing more eco-friendly products and habits but those green values don’t have to go up in BBQ smoke when we party and cook out.

Eco-friendly Drinks for BBQ

A cooler full of bottled waters and cans of sodas or cans and bottles of beer has been a long time staple during “cook out.” You can reduce the wastefulness of plastic water bottles and aluminum cans by serving pitchers of ice water, lemonade, ice tea or kid-friendly juices. These are healthier options for your guest and will save you money too.

Put out permanent markers for guests to write their names on their cups to eliminate waste.

If you’re serving bottled beer, canned beer or wine, or having a BYOB, be sure to put out clearly marked recycling bins so your party spirits don’t become landfill ghosts.

BBQ with Green Paper Products:

When we’re having friends, family and neighbors over for a BBQ, it’s not always possible to avoid paper products but today there are more eco-friendly paper products available. When you need to use disposable dishes, look for products that are recycled, biodegradable or made from unbleached paper products.

The well-known Solo brand has products that include both renewable and compostable options. Renewable paper-ware is made from bamboo, sugar cane, wood, reed and other natural materials. Compostable paper-ware is made from renewable sugar cane and comes in the hip and functional new square designs. These earth friendlier cookout options are available at Target. Chinet offers an eco-friendly square design paper plate which is a hit with hostesses. It looks trendy and gives guests lots of room for loading up on your picnic foods.

Grill Green with Forest Stewardship Council certified Charcoal:

Hot dogs, hamburgers, shrimp, steaks or corn on the cob on the grill create a smokin’ BBQ menu but did you know that your choice of charcoal matters? Choosing eco-friendly Forest Stewardship Council certified charcoals ensures that no trees from endangered woodlands were cut to produce the charcoal for your barbeque.

Forest Stewardship Council certified charcoals also reduces greenhouse gases that are emitted when your charcoal burns. Even better for your family and your party guests, it means that no unhealthy additives are released into the air or onto your food during your grilling.

One example of certified charcoal is Cowboy Charcoal, a natural lump charcoal that can be found at Whole Foods stores and Lowe’s stores. Cowboy Charcoal produces a cleaner-tasting food with no petroleum after taste. Fewer ashes makes clean up easier too.

Everyone wants to relax and enjoy some time off over the summer holidays and with these projects can be your whole family can enjoy a fun filled “labor of love” for Mother Earth. It’s a great time to start new green traditions with your friends and family as you celebrate together.

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