Study finds more microplastic in baby poop than in adult

September 24, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

In a recent  study  published in the American Chemical Society’s Environmental Science and Technology Letters, scientists found 10 times more microplastic in babies’ feces than in adults’. Researchers discovered this in a pilot study that involved sifting through infants’ used diapers. The researchers established that each gram of infant poop contains an average of 36,000 nanograms of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). PET is one of the most common polymers. Often called polyester in the clothing industry, it is also used in making plastic bottles. Previously, studies have indicated that plastic formula bottles shed off microplastics that children may swallow. A paper published last October in  Nature  revealed that plastic formula bottles could feed babies millions of microplastics per day, or almost a billion microplastics per year. Related: High PFAS levels associated with breastfeeding issues The surprising finding was that adults excrete fewer microplastics compared to babies. Researchers have several ideas as to why this might be the case. For instance, babies drink directly from plastic bottles. Secondly, babies put plenty of plastic products in their mouths, including toys and clothes.  In many cases, baby food is wrapped in single-use plastics that may also shed off a significant amount of microplastic. Besides clothing and feeding, babies also crawl on surfaces, some of which are made of polymers that shed microplastics. Kurunthachalam Kannan, an environmental health scientist at New York University School of Medicine and one of the study’s authors, said, “Unfortunately, with the modern lifestyle, babies are exposed to so many different things for which we don’t know what kind of effect they can have later in their life.” The researchers arrived at the results by collecting dirty diapers from six 1-year-olds and running the feces through filters to trap microplastics. They did the same with samples of a newborn’s first feces and still found some microplastics in the waste . For the adults, 10 stool samples were used and revealed that microplastic levels in adult feces were much lower than those in infants’ stool. These findings raise questions over the health threats children face. Although the health effects of microplastics aren’t fully understood yet, studies show that some of the chemicals used in plastic manufacturing are harmful to human health. A  study  done by researchers at ??ETH Zürich in Switzerland found that plastics contain over 10,000 chemicals, a quarter of which are potentially harmful. Via The Guardian and Wired Lead image via Pixabay

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Study finds more microplastic in baby poop than in adult

3deluxe’s first zero-carbon super-yacht sold as an NFT

September 24, 2021 by  
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If you’ve been trying to figure out how to spend that pesky $500 million, here’s the answer. This zero-carbon super-yacht made a huge splash, pun intended, at the Monaco Yacht Show. Created by design studio 3deluxe, this creation is now for sale as an NFT on the SuperWorld auction platform. Inhabitat has covered the dubious  environmental impact of NFTs  in-depth. While cryptocurrency technology is still evolving, many people have questions about how to reduce its energy impact and environmental footprint. Yachts , especially super-yachts, also pose their own environmental concerns. However, innovative design may help address these concerns. Related: This luxury yacht runs on 100% renewable energy For example, this jaw-dropping design by 3deluxe is zero-carbon, avoiding the emissions problem of some yachts. 3deluxe will also donate half the proceeds raised by the NFT sale to the Sea Change Project. This group, founded by the producers of My Octopus Teacher, is dedicated to marine conservation programs. The yacht itself has a sleek, futuristic design that instantly catches the eye. Inside the yacht, it’s all about nature: honoring it, preserving it and drawing inspiration from it. The plans include a greenhouse , lounge, kitchen, bar and vegetable garden. Fresh food grows onboard the yacht. The ocean provides plenty of its own fresh food as well. A saltwater desalination system powered by zero-carbon solar panels provides water for the plants.  The open concept design creates a modern, airy interior where nature and people can live together in harmony, sharing the same spaces. The exterior of the yacht has a closed shape in a streamlined design . The hull merges seamlessly with the side facade. Sleek design gives the yacht minimal resistance to weather and wind. The raised walls are louvers that are controlled with sensors. They regulate the amount of light that gets to the upper decks. When the yacht is moving fast, or the weather isn’t great, they can be closed. These louvers have photovoltaic cells that create power for the air conditioning system, desalination system and lighting. The roof is flat and protected, made in a glazed design that allows natural light to reach the interior. This ship doesn’t even create any noise pollution . Silent engines keep the interior quiet and vibration-free. Meanwhile, the zero-carbon design is achieved through fuel cells that use hydrogen. The hydrogen needed for the fuel cells can be refueled or produced locally with methanol. + 3deluxe Images via 3deluxe

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3deluxe’s first zero-carbon super-yacht sold as an NFT

Take a trip to explore natural beauty on the San Juan Islands

September 24, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

As I pick my way between the crazily-shaped logs, to the water of South Beach on San Juan Island, it’s a driftwood lover’s dream come true. Some pieces are propped up to make primitive shelters. I’m here to run a half marathon and see some fellow runners huddled inside these shelters, appreciating the windbreak as we watch gentle gray waves and await our start time. Only an hour off the Washington coast by ferry , the crowds and tall buildings of Seattle seem very far away. Related: Green-roofed vacation home embraces old-growth trees in the San Juan Islands The San Juan Islands include 172 named islands and reefs. But only a handful are well known, even in Washington, and only a few are served by ferry. I recently spent a September weekend exploring San Juan Island on the hunt for nature experiences and a look at island culture. Outdoor adventures My friend and I drove up from Portland and took the ferry from Anacortes to San Juan Island on a Friday morning. Since the road around the island is only 41 miles, we figured we’d have plenty of time to see everything. However, once we started dilly-dallying on island time, the hours evaporated. We started by driving up to Roche Harbor at the north end of the island, where we visited the San Juan Island Sculpture Park . The park covers 20 acres and displays more than 150 works of art , many made from recycled materials like sheep crafted out of old fishing nets. The garden area around the entrance is more manicured, with sculptures surrounded by plantings. But our favorite part was the Whimsey Woods, a forested trail full of art surprises like garlands of old LPs strung between trees, or a strange little outdoor living room with colorful, broken-bottomed chairs arranged around a creepy monkey jack-in-the-box. The park displays an ever-changing collection of work. If you’re an artist, you can find out about submissions here . Visiting a mausoleum is not everybody’s idea of a good time, but Afterglow Vista draws an impressive number of tourists. This mausoleum is the final resting place of John S. McMillin and his family , who monopolized the limestone trade on the west coast in the late 20th century. The huge round structure features seven columns (one broken, to represent life cut short) with a limestone table surrounded by six stone and concrete chairs. The ashes of the family are in the base of those chairs. McMillin was a Mason and the huge structure reflects Masonic symbolism as well as that of various spiritual and architectural traditions. While we didn’t manage to work whale watching into our trip, it’s one of the reasons I most want to return to the San Juan Islands. The Southern Resident Killer Whales who frequent the waters of the islands include three pods: J, K and L. They follow salmon and are most often seen in the summer months. The best ways to view them are from land, on a whale watching cruise or in a kayak. Or you can do like we did and visit the excellent Whale Museum on a rainy afternoon. If you do venture out by boat or kayak, follow these Whale Wise guidelines so you don’t harm or disturb the orcas and other local whales. Lime Kiln Point State Park on the west end of San Juan Island is considered one of the world’s best whale watching spots. Biking , hiking and running are other good ways to get outside and see the island. San Juan Island has both forested and beachy trails. Biking is very popular. Some people bring bikes on the ferry and get around on two wheels. But watch for cars—the roads are narrow and some have little in the way of shoulders. I participated in Orca Running’s annual San Juan Island Half Marathon, which is a fun way to check out the scenery with running support like periodic electrolytes, gels and portable toilets. Visit the lavender farm If you like the smell of lavender , stop at Pelindaba Lavender Farm. When we visited in September, the flowers in the organically certified fields had turned an inky purplish charcoal, rather than the typical purple. Turns out, that’s the time to harvest lavender for its oil. Culinary harvesting happens earlier. We got a lavender education and saw the distilling process in action.  The grounds are open for picnicking and wandering. Pelindaba’s website lists an impressive number of ways the public are invited to use the space free of charge, no reservation necessary: book club meetings, vow renewals, elopements, photo shoots and yoga in the fields. But I found it impossible to leave without a sack full of lavender souvenirs—salve, lip balm, essential oil, dark chocolate lavender sauce, to name a few—as well as, consuming a cup of lavender/lemon sorbet on the premises. Dining out Mike’s Café & Wine Bar is a phenomenal restaurant with a sleek, modern look and an all- plant-based menu. It’s a happening place on a weekend night and draws way more than just the vegan crowd. Locals stop in for Northwest beer and wine. Visitors like me are thrilled to see a big menu of tacos, interesting salads, sandwiches, bowls and fancy hors d’oeuvres. Since the islands are known for seafood, I was drawn to the crabby tacos made with vegan crabby cakes. We also got an appetizer of heirloom tomatoes with plant-based mozzarella and some delicious shishito peppers. The Cask & Schooner Public House also has several clearly marked vegan items, including an eggplant and red pepper spread sandwich, and a chickpea and leek saute. For coffee, we got hooked on the Salty Fox, which is in a big white Victorian house. Not only was the coffee good, but it’s perfectly situated on the harbor to watch the ferries and other boats come and go. Getting around We took our car on the ferry and then drove around the island, as many visitors do. But there are much more eco-conscious ways to go. You can leave a car in Anacortes and walk onto the ferry. Or take Amtrak to Mount Vernon, Washington, then get to Anacortes by Uber or public bus . Once you arrive on San Juan Island, you can get around by shuttle bus, or rent a bike, e-bike, scooter or electric car. Be sure to reserve your ferry passage ahead of time, especially if you’re bringing a car during the high season of June through September. Amy Nesler, stewardship and communications manager for the San Juan Islands Visitor Bureau , would like to see more visitors arrive car-free. Her ideal visitor “patronizes local shops, restaurants and tour operators, while being patient, kind and appreciative of service workers. They respect traffic etiquette, stay on marked trails, leave campsites/picnic areas better than they found them and maintain a respectful distance from wildlife , whether on land or sea.”  Where to stay Islanders are conscious of their island ecosystem, so many hotels have green initiatives. One of the best is the Island Inn at 123 West in Friday Harbor, the main town on San Juan Island.  Once the site of a fuel and storage facility for the local fishing fleet, cannery and ferry, the hotel is now Silver LEED certified. They reuse rainwater, supply extremely lightweight towels and sheets to save on laundry energy and stock refillable bath amenity dispensers to cut down on waste. Plus, they feature a custom blend by San Juan Coffee Roasting Company packed in recyclable materials. If you venture over to Orcas Island, the Pebble Cove Inn & Animal Sanctuary will serve you vegan food and prepare your room using cruelty free, natural cleaning products. You can meet adorable rescue animals like Dolly the mini horse and the Dread Captain Redbeard, a turkey who escaped the brutal American Thanksgiving tradition. Doe Bay Resort & Retreat , also on Orcas Island, offers yoga, massage and outdoor hot tubs. Doe Bay has a long history of being an alternative to the mainstream, from the time a mixed-race couple raised their family on 175 acres in the 1870s to hippie types discovering it in the 1960s and beyond. Photography by Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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Take a trip to explore natural beauty on the San Juan Islands

Severe droughts cause 14% drop in US hydropower generation

September 24, 2021 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

In 2021, electricity production by hydropower plants across the U.S. will reduce by 14% compared to 2020 levels. This is due to the extreme drought conditions affecting western states. The U.S. Energy Information Administration stated in its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) that the drought will significantly affect water levels, causing some rivers to dry. States such as California and those in the Pacific Northwest, which are major contributors to U.S. hydroelectric power, have faced “extreme and exceptional” drought conditions in 2021. The Columbia River, the country’s fourth-largest river by volume, contributes immensely to hydropower generation. Its watershed runs through four states, including Washington , Idaho, Montana and Oregon. In 2020, the hydropower generated in these states was 136 billion kWh, accounting for 54% of all hydropower generated in the U.S. Related: Hydropower demand is damaging Indigenous lands The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Water and Climate Center (NWCC) has provided data showing that reservoir storages in Washington and Montana are at or above average. Even so, reservoir storage in Oregon measured just 17%. Historically, reservoir capacity in the state averages 47%. Another drought -affected state, Idaho, reported a reservoir capacity of 34%, compared to its historical average of 51%. The low water levels in reservoirs threaten power generation. And the situation may get worse as droughts continue. After record-breaking heatwaves hit major areas of the Columbia River Basin, officials issued drought warnings in several counties across Washington, Oregon and Idaho. The critical role played by these states in hydropower generation has been under continuous threat in the past decade. While California alone accounts for about 13% of the U.S. hydroelectric power generation, plants in California only contributed 7% in 2020. With the state experiencing widespread drought, it is expected that the power generated this year will be even lower than last year. In August, the second-largest reservoir in California at Lake Oroville hit an all-time low of 35% capacity, forcing a temporary closure of the Edward Hyatt Power Plant. This was the first time the plant went offline since 1967. This year, the state’s power generation has fallen on the lower end of its 10-year range. Via Renewable Energy World Lead image via Pixabay

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Severe droughts cause 14% drop in US hydropower generation

Honeybee swarm kills 63 African penguins

September 24, 2021 by  
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Sixty-three endangered African  penguins  were the victims of a tragic attack last week. The culprits: a swarm of Cape honeybees. African penguins who live on the islands and along the coast of Namibia and  South Africa  have already been the casualties of hunting, fishing, mining, oil and gas drilling and climate change. But this was the first time they faced massacre by bee. And it happened inside what’s supposed to be their safe space, the Boulders Penguin Colony in Simon’s Town, South Africa. Related: About 90% of world’s largest king penguin colony has mysteriously disappeared At first, investigators blamed predators. Then they noticed the stings around the birds’ eyes. The skin around penguins’ eyes is especially thin, thanks to pink sweat glands located there. One of the fallen penguins sustained 27 stings. “Seeing the number of stings in individual  birds , it would have probably been deadly for any animal of that size,” Katta Ludynia of the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) told the BBC. The bees also stung the penguins’ flippers — another vulnerable, non-feathered body part. Why the bees attacked is still a mystery. “The bees don’t sting unless provoked ? we are working on the assumption that a nest or hive in the area was disturbed and caused a mass of bees to flee the nest, swarm and became aggressive,” said Alison Kock, a marine biologist with South Africa’s  national parks  agency. “Unfortunately the bees encountered a group of penguins on their flight path.” The time of death was between last Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. The deceased penguins were sent to SANCCOB for post-mortems and toxicology testing. Other than the stings, the penguins had no visible external injuries.  Honeybees  die after they sting. Investigators found dead bees at the scene of the crime. The penguins seem to have been a target of the hive mind. “Once a honeybee has stung something, it leaves a pheromone behind so that the target is easily located by other honeybees defending the nest,” said Jenny Cullinan of the African Wild Bee Institute, as reported by the BBC. The institute is asking nearby residents to no longer have beehives in their gardens. Via BBC , HuffPost

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Honeybee swarm kills 63 African penguins

Episode 286: Climate Week revelations and reflections

September 24, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Plus, TerraCycle’s Loop service will soon offer refillable containers in Walgreens, Krogers stores.

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Episode 286: Climate Week revelations and reflections

The maddening lack of corporate climate advocacy

September 24, 2021 by  
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Businesses that care about climate should spend as much time pushing for policy action as promoting their own commitments.

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The maddening lack of corporate climate advocacy

Which ‘new mobilities’ are good for your community?

September 24, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Green

New transportation technologies and services can have many different effects on users and communities.

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Which ‘new mobilities’ are good for your community?

6 questions on the future of indoor agriculture

September 24, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Q & A with Plenty’s co-founder and chief science officer Nate Storey about the companies take on indoor ag profitability, industry collaboration and promising markets in Asia

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6 questions on the future of indoor agriculture

How Maine and Oregon seek to make manufacturers pay for packaging waste

September 24, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Green, Recycle

Less than half of consumer packaging ultimately gets recycled.

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How Maine and Oregon seek to make manufacturers pay for packaging waste

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