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Help keep our beaches clean

You can help keep our beaches and oceans clean by doing your part and not littering. Also, if you see a piece of plastic or a soda bottle, it's easy to pick it up and throw it in the trash containers that are provided.

Here's some important information the Center for Marine Conservation published in a National Consumer League newsletter.

Each September the Center for Marine Conservation sponsors a beach cleanup project. Last year thousands of volunteers worldwide cleaned up more than 4,000 miles of beach and coastline, and an astonishing 3,705,939 pounds of trash were picked up, 60 percent of it types of plastic.

This month they are anticipating 200,000 participants in 37 states and territories and 27 foreign countries.

If you would like information on next year's beach cleanup activities in your area, please write to: Beach Cleanup, Center for Marine Conservation, 1725 DeSales St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036. The center will happy to send it to you free of charge.

Vanilla from Mexico?

Question: Every time I'd make a trip to Mexico I'd try to come home with a bottle of vanilla. Now a friend is saying that she read somewhere that this vanilla should not be used. Could you check into this for me? _ Rose May, Marrero, La.

Answer: According to the Food and Drug Administration, not all vanilla sold outside the United States is actually made from the vanilla bean.

It often contains coumarin, an ingredient in rat poisoning that causes the rats to bleed to death. In 1954 the FDA prohibited its use in food or food products.

When you buy vanilla in Mexico, you don't know if coumarin has been added to it, so it's best not to take a chance. The only way to tell for sure is to have the "vanilla" tested; it's almost impossible to taste or smell a difference.

You can still use that vanilla as an air freshener. Place a small jar of it on the refrigerator for a wonderful-smelling kitchen.

A substitute for nuts

Comment: If your diet doesn't allow nuts, just substitute the same amount of rice cereal in the recipe. Even if you can eat nuts, this is a good change. _ Dorothy Sommers, Pardeeville, Wis.

Sauce stains

Question: How do you remove spaghetti-sauce stains from plastic containers? _ J.K.M., Forest City, Iowa.

Answer: The easiest method, no work involved, is to simply place the containers in the sun for a few hours. It should eliminate both odors and stains.

Stubborn stains, however, may need baking soda and a little elbow grease. Apply the baking soda to a damp sponge or cloth (it will make a paste) and rub it on the stain. Let it sit awhile, before washing as usual. It may be necessary to do this a couple of times before the stain is completely removed.

Cleaning screens

Comment: I have found the easiest way to clean window screens is to place them in the bathtub and rinse with a massaging shower attachment. I use maximum pressure to rinse both sides.

Then I leave them to drip dry in the tub while I wash the windows. By the time the windows are clean, the screens are ready to put back in. _ Barbara Stevens, East Hartford, Conn.

Reply: If you have a lot of screens to clean, take them all outside and use a high-pressure garden hose. _ Heloise

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279 or fax it to 512-HELOISE.