Episode 317: Conversations about circularity

May 20, 2022 by  
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Highlights from Circularity 22, including green chemistry pioneer John Warner, sustainability marketing maven Suzanne Shelton and champion of the information waste collection sector, Keiran Smith of Mr. Green Africa.

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Episode 317: Conversations about circularity

Walmart begins search for sustainable packaging

May 20, 2022 by  
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The retail giant launched its Circular Connector “to accelerate innovation in the field of sustainable and circular packaging.”

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Walmart begins search for sustainable packaging

Is climate tech the hottest corner of the VC business in the 2020s?

May 20, 2022 by  
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In 2021, investments in climate tech companies hit more $31 billion, according to deal tracking firm PitchBook.

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Is climate tech the hottest corner of the VC business in the 2020s?

The little pirates saving South Africa from plastic waste

April 26, 2022 by  
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Since 2018, more than 20 schools in South Africa and the Netherlands have spread the lore of Captain Fanplastic , a pirate who wants to rid the ocean of plastic waste. The primary school program of the same name is turning school children into ocean justice warriors. Cape Town -based Soapbox is behind the anti-plastic superhero. This behavioral design agency tries to positively impact Africa in the healthcare, education, sustainability and financial inclusion fields. Related: Make your own ethical fashion from recycled plastic nets Here’s how Captain Fanplastic works. Trained facilitators share The Legend of Captain Fanplastic with children. While the book and audiobook are only available in Africa, we have found out the general plot. Captain Fanplastic and his friend Fin the turtle set out on a quest to find out why Fin is sick. A whale and a seagull help them discover the answer, which is (spoiler alert) plastic waste. After kids hear the story, they participate in a Q&A about plastic and its effects on marine life. They learn that plastic is not all bad when they get the chance to repurpose old plastic by making eye patches and their own renditions of Fin the Turtle. The program uses the hashtag #NoTrashButTreasure to encourage people to think of how they can reuse stuff in useful ways, rather than adding to the landfill. The most exciting part for most kids is a field trip to a nearby beach, park or river. The kids participate in a cleanup framed as a treasure hunt. A treasure map explains different types of liter they’ll find. The kids who pick up the most trash win prizes. After the field trip, the program matches schools with recycling partners to help them build strong recycling habits and environmental awareness. “We’re able to take this [initiative] into schools to show little pirates in primary schools, in particular to the ages of seven to 12 years old, that they can ‘Rrrr’ so that they can refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle plastic,” said Captain Fanplastic Facilitator Yanga Gceya, as reported by Euro News. “Our audacious goal is to reach 175,000 kids around the world.” Sub-Saharan Africa generates more than 17 million tons of waste annually. Only 12% of plastic waste recycled, with much of it entering oceans . The little pirates want to stop this. As Linako, a student at Intshayelelo Primary in Cape Town put it, “We became pirates and we saved animals from eating plastic.” Via EuroNews , Captain Fanplastic Lead image via Captain Fanplastic

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Forest elephants do their part to slow climate change

April 20, 2022 by  
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In the West and Central African rainforests, forest  elephants  are unwittingly helping to save the world. As this relatively small elephant tears through the rainforest, stripping bark from trees and digging up roots, its actions help the forest store more carbon in its trees. According to a  2019 study , each forest elephant helps increase the rainforests’ carbon capture by 9,500 metric tons of CO2 per square kilometer. This approximately equals the emissions from driving 2,047 gas-guzzling cars for a year. Elephants perform this service by trampling the smaller trees competing with larger ones for light and nutrients, thus increasing the average tree diameter and total above-ground biomass. Related: Both African elephant species face extinction Even elephant excrement helps reverse  climate change , as they deposit nutrients and seeds wherever they go. “Elephants help disperse trees, which other animals rely on,” said lead author Fabio Berzaghi, as reported by BBC. “The trees promoted by elephants support primates and many other animals.” Unfortunately, the elephant population has plummeted from 1.2 million in the 1970s to about 100,000 in a 2013 study. They could go extinct. According to wildlife scientist Fiona Maisels, between 2002 and 2013, elephants were lost at the rate of 60 a day, or one every 20 minutes. “By the time you eat breakfast, another elephant has been slaughtered to produce trinkets for the  ivory market ,” Maisels said at the time. In some circles, ivory from a dead forest elephant is worth $21,000. Now Ralph Chami, assistant director of the Institute for Capacity Development at the International Monetary Fund, wants to put a better value on forest elephants. Instead of focusing on how much the elephants need us to save them, he thinks we should focus on how much we need them to save us. Each elephant’s carbon capture potential is worth $1.75 million, Chami estimated. “The forest elephant is a natural asset that provides value to us over its lifetime,” Chami said, as reported by BBC. “A living elephant provides services worth millions, it is helping us fight climate change and is worth much more alive than dead.” Via BBC Lead image via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters

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Forest elephants do their part to slow climate change

How not to be a loser in the next viral cheetah video

March 24, 2022 by  
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In a recent popular YouTube video, more than a dozen impala bounce across the screen. Then, a cheetah flies out of the bushes, cutting off an impala. The cheetah chases the impala until it falls beside… a red BMW?! The video has many wildlife enthusiasts upset. It was made near an entry point to  South Africa’s  Kruger Park and shows people standing outside of, perched on or hanging out of at least 20 cars. Their chatter, cameras and human smell disturbed the cheetah, who retreated off the road and stood looking around for a full minute, unsure what to do. Eventually, it decided to brave the human presence, dashing among them long enough to drag the impala off the road, then exit stage left. Related: You can now explore all 19 of South Africa’s National Parks on Google Maps “It is quite sad to see that many visitors breaking the rules,” said Sarah Oxley, project administrator for Latest Sightings, which posts  wildlife  videos from Kruger National Park, as reported by HuffPost. “Because the sighting happened near Crocodile Bridge, a popular entry point into the park, the traffic built up really quickly and that is why there are so many people at the sighting.” According to the Kruger Park website, “Kruger Park cheetahs have helped show that the carnivore can successfully  hunt  in wooded areas, not just on open grassland plains.” This video proves they can also hunt on roads with people and parked cars on either side. But they shouldn’t have to. Kruger Park is a stronghold for this amazing spotted cat , which can run up to 60 miles an hour. Some estimates put the South African cheetah population at fewer than 1,000. In case you saw the video and are thinking of buying a ticket to South Africa, renting a red BMW and getting close to some cheetah/impala action, let’s quickly go over the  rules of Kruger Park . You are supposed to be quiet. Stay in the car, keep your windows up and your doors locked, as baboons have learned to open car doors and might want to hop in with you. “Leaving your car is forbidden and is punishable by a fine,” according to the park website. Even if you have a flat tire, you’re supposed to call park administration to send a breakdown service rather than step out of your car. Don’t be the next disrespectful loser caught in a viral cheetah video. Via HuffPost Lead image via Pixabay

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Copenhagen is one of the world’s greenest cities, here’s why

March 24, 2022 by  
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Copenhagen consistently ranks as one of the world’s most sustainable cities. What is Copenhagen doing right that the rest of the world can catch up on?  This beautiful European city is home to a multitude of eco-friendly architecture projects, renewable energy initiatives, urban gardens and more to green the city from the ground up. Here are a few of Copenhagen’s sustainable features. Related: C.F. Møller completes Carlsberg Central Office in Copenhagen Everyone bikes in Copenhagen Like other congested cities designed before the modern car, Copenhagen residents bike everywhere. The city has 700,000 bikes , more than one bike for every car in the city. Additionally, Copenhagen welcomes bicycle parking structures, bike-friendly design ( including this unique bike bridge ) and a culture that encourages people to get out and exercise instead of driving. Over 60% of Copenhagen residents bike rather than drive for their commute. Older European cities such as Copenhagen weren’t designed around cars anyway, so bikes are a convenient and practical way to commute on narrow streets. For those using public transit, the buses in Copenhagen are transitioning from diesel to electric . While you’re on the road, you can stay in any of Copenhagen’s many eco-friendly hotels, recycle your waste in a public vending machine for a deposit and eat organic foods at several city restaurants. Green architecture galore Copenhagen is greening its commercial buildings at an accelerating rate. This means green roofs, renewable energy, passive solar and more. Check out this green-roof timber construction called  Marmormolen , a prime example of Copenhagen’s green architecture at its best. Now, the city’s building codes even require new buildings to have green roofs. These rooftops often involve rainwater harvesting systems and help trap particulate pollution from city transit. Copenhagen’s parks and green space One-quarter of Copenhagen’s space is used for urban gardens and green space. Urban codes requiring green roofs for newly built buildings create even more space for gardens, trees and plants that promote biodiversity. The trees also provide fresh oxygen to offset the heat island effect of a paved cityscape. Additionally,  a former prison site  in Copenhagen is now being used as a mixed-use garden. Such projects show the city’s innovation in urban planning and creating a greener future. Copenhagen also has  floating island parks  and  climate-adaptive parks  that catch excess rainfall. You can even ski on top of the city’s waste-to-energy plant, where there is a permanent  ski slope  created by Bjarke Ingels Group. Copenhagen invests in renewable energy Denmark uses wind and solar energy to lower its carbon footprint, but it also uses biomass in its bid toward decarbonization. Project Holmene is another initiative toward a green energy future, in which nine man-made islands will house windmills and waste-to-energy plants. The project could generate over 300,000 MWh. That’s enough energy to power around 40,000 homes for an entire year. According to  Tomorrow City , “Today, more than 30% of Denmark’s energy requirements come from renewables, and it expects to reach 50% by 2030 and achieve energy independence by 2050. A considerable part of this energy sustainability is from biofuels and waste management.” Copenhagen also uses smart sensors to detect water usage and leak. Meanwhile, smart valves and pumps help minimize energy waste from municipal buildings. This city of canals has a sharp eye on water waste and minimizing its carbon footprint. Copenhagen, a model future city Copenhagen’s dedication to a sustainable future sets an example for cities around the world. Hopefully, more areas will soon adopt these climate mitigation and adaptation strategies and green their infrastructure and architecture. As Denmark’s greenest city, Copenhagen shows that renewable energy doesn’t mean a compromised quality of life. Clean energy and beautiful design go hand in hand. Via Tomorrow.City and The Sustainable Living Guide Images via Pixabay and Pexels

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A win for Honolulu in big oil climate change lawsuit

March 15, 2022 by  
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It’s Honolulu versus big  oil . And the Hawaiian capital is winning. In a recent effort to hold oil companies accountable for global warming, the city and county of Honolulu just overcame a major legal barrier. Hawaii Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Crabtree ruled in Honolulu’s favor as Sunoco, Chevron,  ExxonMobil  and others tried to dismiss the lawsuit. Honolulu is one step closer to getting big oil to the stand. “This is an unprecedented case for any court, let alone a state court trial judge,” Crabtree wrote in his ruling, as reported by Honolulu Civil Beat. Related: Reports detail Canadian oil company’s crimes in Africa Back in 2020, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply filed the case. Plaintiffs say that the giant  fossil fuel  industry has long deceived the public about climate change and discredited climate science. While big oil takes no responsibility, the public pays the price, according to the lawsuit. Rising sea levels will harm Oahu, causing flooding, erosion, extreme weather and beach loss. Fish and coral reefs are in danger of dying. Plaintiffs argue that it was the defendants’ duty to disclose information tying fossil fuel to climate-related impact on Oahu. Fossil fuel companies claim this should be a federal legal matter since the plaintiffs wanted to regulate global fossil fuel emissions. But Crabtree wrote, “As this court understands it, Plaintiffs do not ask for damages for all effects of  climate change ; rather, they seek damages primarily for the effects of climate change allegedly caused by Defendants’ breach of long-recognized duties.” Honolulu  is not alone in suing oil companies over climate change. However, among U.S. judges, Crabtree is the first to have ruled to reject an argument from fossil fuel companies. “On behalf of Honolulu’s  taxpayers , we look forward to the opportunity to present our evidence at trial,” Honolulu’s chief climate change officer Matthew Gonser said in a statement. “We are confident in the strength of our case.” Via Honolulu Civil Beat Lead image via Pexels

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A win for Honolulu in big oil climate change lawsuit

Use these stackable aluminum storage crates for anything

March 15, 2022 by  
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Versatile aluminum storage crate KGT designed by Studio CP — RV offers a new way to make whatever you need to store disappear in plain sight. The design partnership between Util and CP — RV created a stackable storage solution for a world where people are inhabiting smaller and less permanent spaces. The design of KGT was based on crates to transport fruits or vegetables . The designers turned it into a stackable furniture that looks clean on the outside while hiding whatever is inside it. It can fit into small spaces, store things vertically and fit with a variety of indoor decors. Related: Hundreds of red plastic crates are repurposed into a public mosque in Indonesia On the other hand, CP — RV is a design studio run by Camille Paillard and Romain Voulet, who work between London and Marseille. They design products, home furnishings, interior spaces and objects people live with. Paillard has experience in interior design , while Voulet has a background in industrial design. With those backgrounds, it leads to varying perspectives but complementary input going into design projects. “[ Furniture ] could be decorative, but our vision for KGT is more about making things disappear while still being accessible,” the designers said. “We like storage that is reduced and integrates well with our own furniture. We don‘t think storage furniture should be a statement.” Additionally, KGT hangs off a wall vertically if needed. It can also become a display shelf or stored on the floor like an ottoman or bookshelf . Versatility was key to the design, which is important for how people use storage pieces. “If you make things simple enough, people will find their own way to use them,” said the designers. “When we were designing KGT, we thought first of a discreet way of storing , stacking and carrying things. We realized that the dimensions of the box were potentially working in a variety of applications.” + Studio CP — RV Images via Studio CP — RV

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Use these stackable aluminum storage crates for anything

Five mountain bongos released into Kenyan sanctuary

March 10, 2022 by  
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Good news for  wildlife  watchers — five mountain bongos were released into a Kenyan sanctuary earlier this week. The extremely rare antelopes hadn’t been seen wandering the wooded slopes of Mount Kenya, Africa’s second-highest peak, for almost 30 years. Bongos used to freely roam  Kenya’s  forests, but their numbers have dipped below 100 in the wild. Conservationists have been breeding captive bongos, hoping to repopulate the wild. Related: Endangered Andean cats found just outside Santiago “Finally, these bongos are being rewilded,” Najib Balala, Kenya’s minister of  tourism  and wildlife, said at the opening of the Mawingu Mountain Bongo Sanctuary, as reported by Phys Org. “What a celebration. What a success.” Humans, predictably, are responsible for the species’ critically low numbers. Colonial-era hunters prized the dark brown animals with their slim white stripes and spiral horns. They turned bongo hides into rugs and used the heads and horns as wall ornaments. People also poached bongos for bushmeat, and human habitation encroached on their homelands. Later, in the 20th century, bongos also caught cattle  diseases .  The last time someone saw a wild bongo around Mount Kenya was in 1994. Unfortunately, it was only a  carcass . Some bongos living in American  zoos  were relocated to Kenya in the early 2000s to start the rewilding program. These pioneers were tame, dependent on people and unused to Kenya’s climate. The rewilding program allowed subsequent generations to be more independent and follow their natural, wild instincts. Those released this week were chosen because they are healthy, good at solo foraging and don’t trust humans. The plan is to release five more bongos every six months. By 2050, Kenya Wildlife Service hopes that at least 750 bongos will wander Kenya’s equatorial  forests . While bongos are gorgeous animals, they’ve often been overshadowed by even more charismatic megafauna like rhinos,  elephants  and lions. Now, it’s the bongo’s turn. “These are the ones we have ignored for a long time, and now, we are putting emphasis on them,” Balala said. Via Phys Org Lead image via Pexels

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Five mountain bongos released into Kenyan sanctuary

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