August 26th, 2008
03:56 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: Reduce, reuse, re-think

Erica Hill
AC360° Correspondent

A tray seems like an essential part of the cafeteria equation. Even if all you’re grabbing is one plate, a drink and a fork, attempting to balance all of that – especially at the register – could easily turn into disaster. When you’re a natural klutz like moi, the chances of ending up on the floor with spaghetti in your hair are multiplied exponentially. Lucky for me, my days at the mess hall are pretty much over, having long said goodbye to the campus cafeteria.

For tens of thousands of students across the country, however, the challenge is just beginning. Luckily, it’s for a good cause. Getting rid of all those trays means less water – especially important in drought-plagued regions of the US. At the University of Florida, home to 50,000 students, the school expects to save 470,000 gallons of water a year. For the University of Maine at Farmington, which has just 2,000 students, the savings is some 288,000 gallons.

I can’t help but wonder if losing the tray (and the potential food real estate) could have helped me lose a little of that “insulation” I picked up in school; perhaps an added benefit? Of course, there would still be the klutz factor to deal with…


While we’re on the subject of reducing waste, how ‘bout using those old phone books for your new addition? They’d make a lovely wall.

A Texas man has developed a formula to turn recycled paper into building blocks sturdy enough to replace standard wood framing and cinder blocks. Each block is 65 percent recycled paper, and according to the man who makes them, the blocks are termite, mold, fire and bullet resistant. Almost sounds too good to be true!


A 9-year-old pitches too well for his opponents, who now say they won’t face him on the baseball diamond.


I will never understand why anyone would lie about having a life-threatening disease. I come from a family that has been dealt more than its fair share of cancer; why anyone would falsely claim to be dealing with this horrific, heartbreaking disease is beyond me. It also makes me angry.

Preying on the kindness, compassion and goodwill of others is sick. It’s even worse when it comes from someone who is supposed to help the rest of us avoid the temptation to lie or harm others for our own personal gain. Karma, my friends, is a force to be reckoned with. And to that I say, “AMEN.”

Filed under: Erica Hill • Erica's News Note
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Michelle Fonthill Ont,Canada

    Hi Erica

    Getting rid of trays ? How do they expect people to carry all of thier stuff on thier heads? a balacning act fit for a dramtaitc juggling video/
    That's stupid. Well I can't fathom how that's going to work but it's for the envoiroment I guess what ever. I aslo find hard to beleive that you are clumsy too Erica I myself am allwaysdropping things ,well thanks for sharing your story Erica it's nice to read your posts.
    Have a great day .

    August 27, 2008 at 9:12 am |
  2. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Hi Erica,
    I can't say I'd love to go trayless anytime soon. I wonder if all the water they might save, will just have to be diverted to mopping up the many spills from some big, oops moments? One wonders. Take care

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    August 26, 2008 at 9:57 pm |
  3. Janna

    Erica, hearing about this kind of forward environmental thinking gives me so much hope. The fact that it can be a money saver as well has finally caught people's attention! Hooray! We're planning a move and have been amazed to see some of the eco-friendly options available in new or renovated homes these days... from bamboo floors and cabinets to furniture and counter tops made from recycled materials, recovered wood, or sustainable wood/materials....I was overwhelmed and excited to plan my new home as green as I can 🙂
    Thanks for highlighting this kind of effort- Someday it won't be so unusual and we'll all breathe easier.

    August 26, 2008 at 9:53 pm |
  4. Annie Kate

    Glad to see that people are looking at ways they can save water; its going to be a scarce resource in some places in the coming years. It always seems to me that there is one area that gets too much water and another that doesn't get any. It would be wonderful if someone could figure out how to divert that excess water that causes flooding to the places who are literally starved for water.

    I can't believe that they banned the team because they were too good. You used to be rewarded (at least with praise) if you were good at something; now you're banned – what kind of message does that give our youth? Its not one I would want my children exposed to.They need to let the team play and the boy pitch – they might just have a rising star in their midst.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    August 26, 2008 at 9:28 pm |
  5. SARA.ro

    Hi Erica
    You are so modest as usual ;it's a real blessing when you share to us from your life experience with such a humor . Still there are old phone books?!how romantic ,or what a luck , because the Texan didn't recycle it:)

    August 26, 2008 at 7:44 pm |
  6. Alexander

    Well this was one of the more interesting news notes I've seen yet. I can't imagine carrying lunch without a tray in school. Hmm. Anyway, hope your evening is going well, Erica. Take care.: )

    August 26, 2008 at 7:03 pm |
  7. Mary

    Erica, what a nice break these stories are.
    Great way to save water!
    Parents just want their kids to win. I had a parent ask me why I couldn't just give her child an "A" so she would feel successful.(?) That boy's team should find a better league to play in. It doesn't seem like they have any competition anyway.
    That "minister" and what he did had nothing to do with religion, organized or not. Disgraceful. Have a great day.

    August 26, 2008 at 6:33 pm |
  8. Genevieve M, TX

    Erica, I too, find it difficult to believe that you are a klutz! At work, you are around a lot of complex (and expensive) electronic equipment, and you cannot be a klutz around that kind of stuff. Anyway, klutz or not, we (the viewers) all still like you- a lot! 🙂

    As for the "baseball" story, a friend of mine has a son (6 y/o) who is very good at hitting fastballs. He has been able to consistently hit fastballs since he was 4 y/o. His mother tried to get him into a regular team that year and this past year, but was told he was physically "too small" to be in a non-tee ball team. They still think he is "too small" but have decided to move him out of tee ball since he is the only one in that team who is able to hit a fastball.

    I think the kid (in the story you posted) should be able to stay on his team or "moved up" a level. He should not be punished for his pitching skill.

    August 26, 2008 at 6:23 pm |
  9. Jolene

    Well, I've had my share of embarassing moments in cafeterias and it's not always dropping things. Did you ever go to fill up a cup with a beverage and have the drink dispenser get stuck? Yes, filling up numerous cups trying to figure out how to unstick it is a classic. Guaranteed to get a standing ovation for sure! Getting rid of the trays to save water is a good thing but it does make you wonder, though, what will they do with all of the trays now?

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    August 26, 2008 at 5:48 pm |
  10. GF, Los Angeles

    Talk about organized religion at it's best! What a pathetic excuse to blame porn for ripping off of all people his own congregation. I don't believe the video explained how it was discovered he was lying. I highly doubt he would just admit to that on his own hence the blame put on porn. He should go to jail for stealing.

    August 26, 2008 at 5:27 pm |
  11. Mike, Vietnam

    Erica-insulated? I doubt that. Little league pitche throwing that good, I love watch major league, hopefully he will play for Boston one day!

    August 26, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  12. lyn-NY

    Wow, talk about being tired of the presidential race!!

    is it left or right field?

    August 26, 2008 at 4:53 pm |
  13. Heather,Ca,US

    Hello Erica

    I am a life long klutz also.If I have to go somewhere where a tray is used I go for the bottled water.I'm only 5 feet 1 .I always thought it would have been nice to have a tray that had a place for the beverage.Oh well.

    When I first heard about that Australian minister I was driving home listening CNN on Sirius.All I can say is coming from someone who has lost several people close to me from cancer, you have to have a severe mental problem to continue to be that deceptive for that amount of time.When people are giving you their hard earned money.You don't know how well or bad they are doing financially.All you know is that they felt terrible and wanted to help.It's beyond sick to me.I hope each person gets their money back .This is just so wrong on so many levels. It's strange how he started out with an addiction to pornography and instead of just dealing with that he lied to everyone even his family and created a gigantic mess and stole money.I never stop being shocked by what people will do.

    August 26, 2008 at 4:46 pm |
  14. Jim- Kearny, NJ

    Hi Erica!

    I find it difficult to believe that someone of your grace and poise is a klutz.
    That said, it's a good idea to save all that water by ditching the trays.
    And I wouldn't worry about what insulation you picked up in school if I were you. You look great : )

    If the building blocks stand up over time, they could revolutionize the building industry.

    When I was a kid in Little League, there was a kid on my team, 10 years old, who threw as hard as anyone in the league, which was up to 12 years old. We were afraid to take batting practice because not only was he fast, he was wild. You know what the parents and coaches said? They said get in there and hit. You'll never get any better if you don't play against guys who are better than you.
    What's being done to this kid is just wrong. Nobody should be punished for being good and the coaches who won't let their teams play against him should be banned from coaching. They are not setting a proper example for the kids, they're teaching kids that when the going gets tough, we'll change the rulels so it's easier for you.
    I fear for the generations that are being raised this way.

    And finally, yes it's wrong to lie about having a life-threatening disease.
    In this case though, it seems he chose what he believed to be the lesser of two evils. The expectations of churches to repress normal sexual urges force so many to turn to unnatural sexual expression that, at this point, I can't fathom why anyone goes into the clergy anymore. What they ask as far as the denial of human behavior is quite unreasonable. A calling to higher spirituality should not involve changing the normal makeup of the human condition.

    Have a wonderful evening!


    August 26, 2008 at 4:45 pm |
  15. Lilibeth

    I’m a total klutz and I need all the help I can get. If I don’t have a tray to hold everything, I’d rather make separate trips. Otherwise, I’d be asking for trouble.

    If the 9-year old pitcher is still that good a few years from now, I bet there’s one league won’t throw him out-Major League Baseball.

    As far as pastors who lie to prey on others…well, they’re in a league of their own…and I don’t mean in a complimentary way.

    See you later,

    Edmonds, Washington

    August 26, 2008 at 4:45 pm |