Bank on green by investing in the environment

January 6, 2022 by  
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If you’re like most people, you haven’t given a moment’s thought to how banking affects climate change. But if you do pause, it makes sense that such a major institution could, and does, impact everything from forests to water . As a customer, your choices at the bank can mean the difference between burdening the planet and benefitting it.  At first glance, you may be thinking about environmental aspects like how much paper your bank uses. We all know financial institutions like their paper trail. Obviously, that’s an important consideration, and as banks move further into the digital realm, the paper consumption becomes a fraction of what it used to be.  Related: Major banks still back fossil fuel industry despite climate pledges Then there’s the energy consumption throughout the process of banking. Heating, cooling and lighting large banks, especially older or very large ones, is the opposite of energy-efficiency . As a central industry for the nation, banks carry a huge responsibility to invest in ways that reduce waste of things like paper and energy at every level of the organization.  Even with all that in mind, perhaps the best way a bank can change the course of its environmental impact is to control where its money is invested. While it’s great to consider your individual part in the larger scheme of things, the truth is that the gas you save making an e-deposit instead of driving to the bank for a deposit isn’t even a drop in the bucket compared to the massive power a bank entity holds in driving the course of climate correction.  That’s because banks make money through investments. Where they invest that money — our money — controls who has funds to pursue its interests. For example, banks often invest in the fossil fuel industry. And why not? It’s been a money maker for generations. However, banks who invest in green energy and refuse to fund fossil fuel projects are leaders in environmental solutions.  Green bank means sustainable banking If you know where your bank invests, it gives you the power to make wise eco-friendly banking choices that support environmental goals. Ando is one example of sustainable banking with environmental protections at its core. According to the company, “Ando invests 100% of customer deposits in green initiatives exclusively, like renewable energy and regenerative farming, allowing users to have the single greatest individual impact on reducing carbon emissions and healing the planet.” While sustainable finance is a catchy headline phrase, the current actions are woefully insufficient. The percentage of banks heavily focused on investing in regenerative farming , carbon reduction and efficient waste systems is miniscule. As the zeitgeist continues to shift, however, your decision about what bank to support becomes even more crucial.  Avoid the biggest banks The most commonly-found banks in the country are nearly all associated with funding non-renewable resources . According to the Rainforest Action Network, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, Bank of America, TD, Morgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs are the seven most-popular banks. They also fund the most fossil fuels.  Look at sustainability statements from your bank You can start to get a feel for your bank’s sustainability focus by reviewing its sustainability statements. If the highlight reel involves paperless bank statements and energy-efficient lighting, it’s fair to say it is not proud of its investment profile when it comes to environmental protections.  B-Corporation Banks Just like other businesses who practice corporate responsibility around social and environmental actions, banks can also earn B-Corp status. Achieving this certification is a good indicator the bank is working with environmental goals in mind.  Fossil-fuel-free banks and credit unions Just like their big brothers, smaller community banks are not obligated to disclose where they invest their funds. However, many will proudly disclose if they refuse to invest in fossil fuels . Look for a public commitment against financing dirty energy. The list is growing every day. Credit unions  vs. banks Unlike banks, credit unions are developed for groups of people with common goals. Also unlike banks, credit unions are in business to meet the needs of their members, not a paid board of directors. Since credit unions exist to fund loans within their community, the focus isn’t on investing in the larger fossil-fuel industry . Holding your accounts at a credit union, therefore, means your money stays and supports locally.  Go digital, go green with your banks Several online-only banks have launched a banking platform specifically centered around sustainable banking and investments . Check out Aspiration, ATMOS and Ando to see if their service options work for you. Via Grist , Euro Money , Mighty Deposits and Small Footprint Family Lead image via Pexels

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Bank on green by investing in the environment

Spend Cyber Monday supporting these environmental groups on Amazon Charity Lists

November 29, 2021 by  
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It’s that time of year again. Commercials are encouraging you to spend, spend, spend, and your loved ones are asking you what you want for the holidays . For those of you fortunate enough to have all you need, consider supporting these environmental charities during Cyber Monday.  Amazon’s Charity Lists compile all the items an organization needs, making it easier for you to give directly. Whether you want to give to animal rights or ocean conservation groups, this list will connect you to an easy way to support causes you care about. Helping India’s Wildlife for Wildlife SOS Wildlife SOS helps protect India’s wildlife from habitat loss and human exploitation. The organization’s Amazon Charity List includes items to support its team and the animals under their care. As the group explains on its list page, “A lot of this equipment is not available in India,” so sending them this vital gear is a big help. Friends of the Smokies Want to support America’s most-visited national park? Consider supporting the charity list for Friends of the Smokies. Friends of the Smokies needs help to keep its offices running so it can support Great Smoky Mountains National Park. By purchasing simple items such as trash bags and paper towels, you can make a big impact for this organization. International Wolf Center Between hunters and habitat loss, wolves often have to fight to survive. The International Wolf Center works to help them survive. By teaching about wolves, The International Wolf Center seeks to advance the survival of wolf populations. This year, you can support the group’s work through its Amazon Charity List. Salty Soul Foundation If you’ve ever participated in a beach cleanup, you’ll definitely want to support the Salty Soul Foundation. As the organization explains on its Charity List page, “By cleaning the trash from the beaches , we help keep it out of the oceans.” To aid this foundation in its beach cleaning efforts, consider donating a box of nitrile gloves, a bucket or a grabber tool. Pollinator Corridors Inc. Pollinators such as bees, birds, bats and butterflies are crucial for keeping the world’s flowering plants alive. Unfortunately, pollution and habitat loss threatens their existence. Enter Pollinator Corridors, a project that supports “healthy native plant habitats and their pollinators in the Greater Southwest.” With your help, Pollinator Corridors can grow their restoration projects and educational initiatives. Lead image via Pixabay

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Spend Cyber Monday supporting these environmental groups on Amazon Charity Lists

Here are 5 Indigenous eco-charities to support

November 29, 2021 by  
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“There is no planet B.” Perhaps no one understands that better than Indigenous people. Understanding how to coexist with nature has been an essential life skill for many generations, and today’s Indigenous people are still honoring the  environment  through various movements. These movements support sustainable, low-impact lifestyles that meet the needs of humans and the planet. If you want to support Indigenous organizations working toward this goal through everything from education to legal help, check out this list of Indigenous-led eco-charities worldwide. Seed Climate justice is the goal, and Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are keeping a focus on that goal through a series of campaigns supported by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC). AYCC understands Indigenous communities are highly affected by climate change and is committed to empowering the younger generation to address the issue.  Related: 12 sustainable, Indigenous-owned brands to support To participate, you can sign the petition to urge Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to ban any governmental support of new coal and gas projects. Organizers say, “We are the caretakers, protection of the country is at the very core of our culture and connection to the land and sea. It is the teaching of the Dreaming.” You can also sign a petition to ban fracking in the region. A recent article from  The Guardian  summarizes the mission saying, “Where they can, communities are already acting to make these changes reality. For example, in the Northern Territory, where Australia’s first Indigenous youth climate network, Seed, is working with communities to protect the country and water from dangerous gas fracking, communities are working to become energy self-sufficient and supply clean and cheap power with  solar power  and batteries.” Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) The goals of the IEN are many, but they center around continuing to impart ancestral knowledge about land management to modern generations both within and outside the Indigenous community. IEN is a grassroots effort started in the United States in 1990. In addition to educating and empowering the Indigenous community, the group aims to protect the environment, human health, and  animals  by promoting sustainable lifestyles and influencing policies that affect Indigenous Peoples at local to international levels. The group includes elders and youth in campaigns to protect the rights of all while transferring traditional cultural and spiritual beliefs to the next generation of land stewards.  Through IEN, the ‘Keep it in the Ground’ campaign provides information and news about Keystone XL, Line 3 and No DAPL. The ‘Just Transition’ campaign seeks to refocus how we view the planet’s natural resources — a shift that moves away from seeing it as a product and instead promotes a lifestyle of balance with nature. ‘Save our Roots’ highlights various land and  water  issues, such as a campaign to stop genetically engineered trees and protect against deforestation worldwide.  Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) Many Indigenous groups still live in and rely on forested areas for protection, shelter,  food , heat and natural materials for home goods, trade and industry. But while these communities continue the practices of previous generations, they’re fighting a battle with a world trying to use those same resources without consideration for Indigenous people or the land. FPP’s goal is to ensure these communities have a voice when it comes to political strong-arming that strips them of their lands and their rights to them.  The ‘Free Prior and Informed Consent’ (FPIC) campaign provides the people the right to approve or deny outside use of their traditional lands. ‘Self Determination’ supports forest people’s rights to develop and practice their own political, economic, social and cultural practices. They also work to ensure gender equality and land rights, among other concepts.  Women’s Earth Alliance, Sacred Earth Advocacy Network Led by Indigenous women throughout North America, Women’s Earth Alliance, Sacred Earth Advocacy Network is on a mission to identify and enforce federal environmental laws and customary international law. It presses for governmental law reform and offers support for women-led Indigenous environmental justice groups. With a well-established nationwide network of legal professionals, the group advocates action through grassroots solutions for the climate , economy, water, energy, food, cultural preservation, health, safety, education and more.    The Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ) The Earth has no voice. Or rather, it does, but it’s often drowned out by humans. CCAEJ works to advocate for the planet from a community perspective. It brings communities together in search of solutions for social and environmental problems. The focus is to empower people to develop systems that meet community needs with respect for the planet. As CCAEJ explains on its website, “We believe in a zero-emission future and in regenerative and sustainable communities.” Working with local communities and acknowledging that they are closest to the problems and potential solutions, the group addresses crises related to  pollution , cleaner transportation, zero-emission technology and more. Lead image via Pixabay

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Here are 5 Indigenous eco-charities to support

A billion-dollar solar investment is coming to Texas

November 17, 2021 by  
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Chem-Energy has announced a planned investment of $1 billion in a solar and battery plant project. Development will take place in Central Texas starting spring 2022. The petroleum products giant is among the many firms in the industry seeking to diversify as the world phases out fossil fuels. The firm will set up two facilities with a capacity to generate 400 MW/800 MWh of battery storage. Another facility with 600 MW of solar power will be built in Caldwell County, Texas . The first of the facilities will be built on 3,511 acres of land in Uhland, Texas, and start generating power in 2023. Exact dates have not been provided. Related: Renewables can power the world, according to new study The facilities will help generate clean energy and provide stability to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and the general Texas grid. Robert Hayward, COO of Chem-Energy Corporation, said that the facilities are strategically located to serve the state. “Caldwell County is the perfect strategic choice for our flagship operations in Texas,” said Hayward. “With available land in a growing region, close proximity to Texas State University and a robust workforce pipeline, the Texas Innovation Corridor provides an ideal environment for our organization’s growth.” Construction is expected to offer employment opportunities for locals. According to the company, 400 permanent jobs will be created in the first year of operation. Officials have not given figures concerning temporary and indirect jobs. The project will also be home to America’s first standardized solar PV and battery storage training facility. Engineering firm Mortenson Construction will help realize these plans. For power storage, KORE Power will help provide high-density NMC batteries . Maintenance and back-office administration services will be handled by Invenergy Services. As Brad Heitland, business development executive for Mortenson Construction, said, “Chem-Energy’s innovative approach to solar energy will result in a facility design unlike anything seen before in the industry. Solar projects tend to be larger and more complex than other energy generators . I firmly believe that we will be setting a new standard for energy production both in the Texas Innovation Corridor and throughout the state.” Via Renewable Energy World Lead image via Pixabay

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A billion-dollar solar investment is coming to Texas

Mining in Minnesota halts as government considers 20-year ban

October 22, 2021 by  
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The Biden administration is considering a U.S. Forest Service application requesting a 20-year mining ban on national forest land in Minnesota. The agency wants over 200,000 acres of land south of the Boundary Waters in Minnesota to be exempt from all proposed mining activities. If the application is successful, the ban would stop Chilean mining company Antofagasta’s Twin Metals Minnesota subsidiary from constructing a $1.7 billion underground copper-nickel mine in the area.  The Interior Department announced that it will carry out a two-year review to determine the potential impacts of mining on natural and cultural resources in the area. During this period, all mining activities will be halted. If the department is convinced that mining is detrimental to nature , it may recommend a permanent ban on all proposed mining activities. Related: Largest nature reserve in Jordan threatened by copper mining “A place like the Boundary Waters should be enjoyed by and protected for everyone, not only today but for future generations,” Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said in a statement. “Today the Biden Administration is taking an important and sensible step to ensure that we have all the science and the public input necessary to make informed decisions about how mining activities may impact this special place.” Antofagasta has mining leases on the land that date back to 1966. Operating as Twin Metals Minnesota, Antofagasta has been trying to mine the land for years. Its activities in Minnesota have been a cause for national debate. During President Barack Obama’s tenure, the subsidiary’s leases were revoked due to concerns about mining’s effect on nature. However, the revocation order was abandoned by the Trump administration, and the company was allowed to proceed with its plans for 2019. This push and pull has been caused by personal and collective political interests. Some reports show that the Trump family has ties to Andrónico Luksic, the Chilean billionaire behind Antofagasta. Democrats and environmental groups have applauded the recent announcement, saying that it is a positive step for the environment. Becky Rom, national chair of the Campaign to Save the Boundary Waters, said, “You don’t allow America’s most toxic industry next to America’s most popular Wilderness. The Boundary Waters is a paradise of woods and water . It is an ecological marvel, a world-class outdoor destination, and an economic engine for hundreds of businesses and many thousands of people. This is a great first step on the pathway to permanent protection.” Via HuffPost Lead image via Pixabay

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Mining in Minnesota halts as government considers 20-year ban

Trick or Eco-Treat: Halloween Candy Quandary

October 22, 2021 by  
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You don’t want to be part of the problem of childhood obesity in America or… The post Trick or Eco-Treat: Halloween Candy Quandary appeared first on Earth911.

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Trick or Eco-Treat: Halloween Candy Quandary

Earth911 Inspiration: Be True to the Earth — Edward Abbey

October 22, 2021 by  
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This week’s quote is from American novelist and pioneering environmentalist Edward Abbey: “I am not… The post Earth911 Inspiration: Be True to the Earth — Edward Abbey appeared first on Earth911.

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Earth911 Inspiration: Be True to the Earth — Edward Abbey

Crayfish interbreeding causing the extinction of native species

October 12, 2021 by  
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In a new study conducted by Illinois Natural History Survey , scientists discovered by chance that the virile crayfish species , faxonius virilis, are interbreeding with native crayfish in the Current River in Missouri, leading to disruptions in the ecosystem. The study, published in the Journal Aquatic Invasions, also mentioned the species are going through biological inversion that may lead to the extinction of native species. Christopher Taylor, a curator of crustaceans at the Illinois Natural History Survey and coauthor of the study, found that the virile crayfish is one of the “widest-ranging native crayfish in North America .” Even though it is native to North America, the virile species is considered invasive in most parts of the U.S. It eventually dominates other species in every territory it is introduced. Related: Dramatic decline in population of Lake Tahoe’s tiniest creatures is changing the entire ecosystem Taylor conducted the study with other researchers including Professor Eric Larson of the Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences department at the University of Illinois.“The Ozarks in Missouri and Arkansas are just a great place to be a crayfish,” Larson said. “The streambeds are rocky so you can hide from fish predators, the water chemistry is good, there’s lots of calcium in the stream and there are a lot of groundwater springs that feed into the main river. That’s why there are so many native crayfish there.”The problem with crayfish interbreeding is that the hybrid species displace the native ones. This, in turn, reduces the production of native crayfish and cuts down their reproduction. Furthermore, the hybrid species consume large quantities of aquatic plants and other invertebrates. As a result, interbreeding ends up affecting the populations of other small fish and species in the ecosystem .“The spread and impacts of an invasive species could cause substantial harm to this unique ecosystem,” Larson said.The researchers found it was difficult to determine that the crayfish species were interbreeding since their offspring did not have unique physical appearances. It was only through mitochondrial DNA sampling that the researchers identified traces of the unique DNA within each other.“Initially, we were finding that some of the native spot-handed crayfish, faxonius punctimanus, had mitochondrial DNA sequences that were aligning with invasive virile crayfish,” said Zachary Rozansky, a graduate student who led the research. “We did not observe any differences in colors or patterns indicating they were hybrids . They looked like one or the other.” Via Newswise Lead image via Unsplash

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Crayfish interbreeding causing the extinction of native species

Red Sea oil tanker could cause eco-catastrophe any second now

October 12, 2021 by  
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The U.N., the government of  Yemen  and Houthi rebels have been in talks about how to handle the FSO Safer. Meanwhile, the enormous floating oil storage vessel remains abandoned in the Red Sea, threatening a massive oil leak. The FSO Safer is carrying about 1.1 million barrels of crude  oil  — four times the amount released by the Exxon Valdez in the 1989 catastrophe in Alaska. The vessel has been sitting and deteriorating off the Yemeni coast since it was moored there in 2017. A new modeling study published Monday in the journal Nature Sustainability indicates that the longer it stays, the likelier a spill will be. And with massive consequences. Related: Huntington Beach oil spill destroys wildlife habitat According to the model, half the oil would evaporate at sea within 24 hours. The rest would float toward Yemen’s western coastline , taking 6-10 days to make landfall. A spill would threaten about two-thirds to more than three-quarters of Yemen’s fisheries within a week and nearly ruin the fisheries within three weeks. Depending on the season and the extent of the spill, between 5.7 and 8.4 million people could run short on food. As the oil continues to spread, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia and Djibouti could also feel the oily impact of environmental havoc. A spill will crank up oil prices by as much as 80%. Up to 8 million Yemenis who rely on fuel for their water pumps could lose access to running  water . The FSO Safer is 4.8 nautical miles off Yemen’s coast. According to  Greenpeace , no maintenance has been done on the vessel since 2014, which is probably why its hull is rotting. Only seven crew members are currently aboard. Around the world, the $14 trillion  shipping  industry has a worsening track record of abandoning ships. Last year the number of abandoned ships more than doubled to 85. Often seafarers are stranded with the ships, their wages unpaid and with no way to get home. Via The Guardian , Wall Street Journal and Greenpeace

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Red Sea oil tanker could cause eco-catastrophe any second now

Furniture made from the sea plant eelgrass

October 12, 2021 by  
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Natural material selection for products can provide a low environmental impact and carbon emission output. Architect and designer David Thulstrup incorporated this idea into his recent exhibit called the MOMENTUM collection.  The collection is made up of four limited-edition pieces — low table, high table, podium and screen — exploring eelgrass. The sea plant was converted into legs for the furniture and screen material in the form of a product engineered by Søuld called Acoustic Mats. Related: Charlotte McCurdy, Phillip Lim design carbon-neutral algae sequin dress Building up from the Acoustic Mats, MOMENTUM also integrates glass and steel into the pieces. With the basis of natural, plant-based material, the furniture naturally battles carbon emissions, while bringing a bespoke interior design element to the space. Using eelgrass in building is not a new idea. It was formerly popular as a roofing material in traditional Læsø, located off the coast of the Danish mainland, seaweed houses. Surrounded by sea , eelgrass is prolific and is known to be used in construction dating back to the 1600s. Søuld converted that traditional building process into a modern option through innovative technology and ten years of research and development. Its Acoustic Mats have offered a welcome alternative in the construction industry, but MOMENTUM is the first example of using the material in furniture. “This collaboration has given us the opportunity to explore the material’s possibilities beyond the context of building construction,” explained Søuld’s Co-Founder Pi Fabrin. “[Thulstrup’s] purist material approach also highlights its natural beauty and tactility, and his designs respect the cultural heritage of eelgrass whilst meeting the design and environmental needs of today.” While the designs promote a connection between home interior design and nature, the function of the Acoustic Mats improves acoustics and speaks to the cultural heritage of the region. It not only provides an alternative to less environmentally-friendly options, but it also creates healthier indoor air quality. Søuld’s eelgrass products offer thermal and moisture-absorption properties. Similar to the characteristics of cork, eelgrass is highly resistant to fire, mold and rot and contains no toxic additives. “Working with eelgrass feels rewarding not only because of its truly unique characteristics, but also the fact that it’s natural , sustainable and revolutionary,” Thulstrup said. “I especially love the surface of the eelgrass, its warm hue and the smell of salt.” + Søuld Images via MOMENTUM by David Thulstrup for Søuld

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Furniture made from the sea plant eelgrass

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