Ovie’s ‘Smarterware’ smart food storage aims to help reduce food waste

May 22, 2018 by  
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Around 40 percent of food goes to waste in America yearly, which costs the average family of four about $2,000 a year. Luckily, Chicago startup Ovie has an answer to this problem: Smarterware. Ovie’s Smart Tags, which keep track of food items’ freshness, can be clipped on food, placed on six-cup containers, or attached to bottles or take-out boxes. According to the company, their system essentially transforms any regular refrigerator into a smart fridge, but without the steep price tag — and they’re crowdfunding on Kickstarter right now. Ovie’s Smarterware aims to change how people eat by helping them keep track of their food’s freshness level. Rings around their Smart Tags light up as green, yellow or red to let people know if food is safe, about to spoil, or has gone bad. Using the technology is simple: you just press the button on a Smart Tag, and your food is tagged via Amazon Echo or an app. Related: New refrigerator camera takes aim at food waste The app aims to help users really take advantage of what’s in their fridge, letting them see items they’ve tagged or even search for recipes that will use the tagged ingredients. The app notifies users when the light ring hits yellow and offers recipe suggestions. Ovie also plans to send a personalized recap every month to let users know how they’ve been doing and provide tips based on their consumption trends. Ovie CEO and co-founder Ty Thompson said in a statement, “People don’t want to waste all of this food — it just happens. We’re busy, we invest time and resources to make a great meal, and then we end up throwing away a large amount of food simply because we forget about it. We wanted to help solve this problem by creating a product that would be simple to use and bring a more mindful approach to food storage .” You can snag early bird discounts on Ovie’s Kickstarter , which ends June 21. The company plans to start shipping in early 2019. + Ovie + Ovie Smarterware Kickstarter Images courtesy of Ovie

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Ovie’s ‘Smarterware’ smart food storage aims to help reduce food waste

Missouri approves legislation to ban labeling plant-based ‘meat’ as meat

May 22, 2018 by  
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Plant-based meat substitutes or meat grown in a laboratory — think the Impossible Burger or the Beyond Burger — won’t be able to be marketed as meat under new legislation recently approved by  Missouri  lawmakers in a 125 to 22 vote. Representative Jeff Knight, a Republican who backed the change, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch , “We’re not trying to mislead anyone. We’re just trying to protect our product.” Legislation outlawing companies from calling lab-grown or plant-based meat substitutes ‘meat’ is headed to the governor’s desk in Missouri. Senate Bill 627 is a package of changes to conservation and agriculture laws, including a provision stating, “This act also prohibits misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry.” If the bill becomes law, Missouri will be the first state in America to address this issue. Related: TGI Fridays to sell Beyond Meat’s plant-based burger in hundreds of stores Mike Deering, the executive vice president of the  Missouri Cattlemen’s Association said in a statement , “This isn’t a Missouri issue. This is about protecting the integrity of the products that farm and ranch families throughout the country work hard to raise each and every day. I never imagined we would be fighting over what is and isn’t meat. It seems silly. However, this is very real and I cannot stress enough the importance of this issue…This legislation does not stifle technology , but it does ensure the integrity of our meat supply and reduces customer confusion.” Representative Deb Lavender, a Democrat, said we should be embracing the future, and that many people “are eating differently than they used to.” Representative Tracy McCreery, also a Democrat, said she found the bill somewhat disrespectful to consumers, saying, “You guys are just trying to protect your marketing money.” The bill did find bipartisan support. Democratic representative Greg Razer agreed with the policy and said, “I love me a pork chop.” Via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and EcoWatch Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Missouri approves legislation to ban labeling plant-based ‘meat’ as meat

Court in Germany paves the way for the immediate ban of older diesel vehicles

May 22, 2018 by  
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The top administrative court in Germany has issued a ruling that empowers municipalities to ban older diesel vehicles, effective immediately, in pursuit of cleaner air. This decision comes only one day after the European Commission filed a complaint with the European Court of Justice, the highest court in the European Union (EU), that cited Germany for its cities’ continued failure to meet EU standards on nitrogen dioxide (NO?) levels. “Such restrictions, in their intensity, do not go beyond other passage and stopping bans as justified by road law requirements, which motorists always have to reckon with and which they principally have to accept,” the court said in a 30-page statement. The recent ruling and how cities respond will have significant consequences for European automakers such as Volkswagen , which have invested heavily in diesel vehicles. Diesel is known to create less greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change while emitting greater amounts of other pollutants that can cause respiratory disease. In Germany, a more dramatic diesel ban may undermine the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, which has been criticized for its closeness to the industry. “This ruling is a disaster for the government which one-sidedly stands in for the greed for profit by the carmakers while leaving 10 million owners of manipulated diesel cars alone,” Juergen Resch, managing director of Germany’s DUH environmental lobby, told Eco News . Related: Rome is banning all oil-burning cars by 2024 Once imposed, diesel bans could remove millions of vehicles from the road almost immediately. Only 2.7 million of the 15 million active diesel vehicles in Germany meet the EU emissions standards. The court recommended gradual implementation of bans, starting with the removal of the most polluting vehicles. The court’s decision is the most recent policy change following the 2015 Volkswagen diesel emissions cheating scandal . Via Eco News Images via Depositphotos (1, 2)

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Court in Germany paves the way for the immediate ban of older diesel vehicles

California becomes the first US state to require solar energy for new houses

May 10, 2018 by  
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It’s official — California is the first state in America to mandate solar for new homes. Yesterday, the California Energy Commission voted unanimously to approve the building standards, which will go into effect on January 1, 2020. The New York Times quoted Sunrun CEO Lynn Jurich as saying, “There’s…this real American sense of freedom of producing electricity on my rooftop. And it’s another example of California leading the way.” Homes built in California in a couple of years will have to be equipped with solar energy systems. Called the 2019 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, the requirements “will increase the cost of constructing a new home by about $9,500 but will save $19,000 in energy and maintenance costs over 30 years,” according to a frequently asked questions document from the California Energy Commission. The New York Times quoted commission member Andrew McAllister as saying, “Any additional amount in the mortgage is more than offset. It’s good for the customer.” Related: California to become the first US state to require solar panels on new homes The commission said in a press release the standards would lower greenhouse gas emissions as much as if around 115,000 fossil fuel cars left the streets. They said the standards zero in on four areas; in addition to residential solar power, those areas are “updated thermal envelope standards (preventing heat transfer from the interior to exterior and vice versa), residential and nonresidential ventilation requirements, and nonresidential lighting requirements.” There are people who wonder if California’s new mandate is the best path forward to clean power. MIT Technology Review linked to an email from University of California, Berkeley economics professor Severin Borenstein to commission chair Robert Weisenmiller early yesterday morning; Borenstein said he, along with most energy economists, “believe that residential rooftop solar is a much more expensive way to move towards renewable energy than larger solar and wind installations.” + California Energy Commission Via The New York Times Images via Deposit Photos ,   Wikimedia Commons and mjmonty on Flickr

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California becomes the first US state to require solar energy for new houses

Maryland just banned the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores

April 24, 2018 by  
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Maryland just became the second state in America to ban pet stores from selling puppies and kittens. Animal rights advocates say the move will help cut demand for animals from puppy mills . The bill, HB 1662 , also encourages pet stores to work with rescue groups and animal shelters to promote the adoption of homeless animals, according to The Humane Society . Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan signed the legislation into law with bipartisan support. The state already has regulations in place requiring stores to reveal breeder information, and stores cannot use breeders that the United States Department of Agriculture has cited in the last two years. But delegate Benjamin Kramer, a Democrat who sponsored the legislation, told The Washington Post the regulations aren’t enough to protect animals. Related: California bans puppy mills and requires all pet stores to sell rescue animals Pet store owners fought against the law, hoping Hogan would veto it. Just Puppies co-owner Jeanea Thomson said her store doesn’t want animals from puppy mills, and that she and her husband visit their breeders, most in Iowa and Missouri, to vouch for conditions. But Kramer said the farms that store owners describe are abominations, telling The Washington Post, “There is not a single one that is this righteous, beautiful, loving, caring facility where there is room for puppies to roam and for breeding dogs to play.” Humane Society Maryland state director Emily Hovermale described the ban as a lifesaving measure that would close the state’s pet store market to puppy mills. She said, “Maryland has set an important precedent with this rejection of animal abuse that other states will surely follow.” Emily McCobb, a professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, said a ban could result in a dog shortage, and people might not be sure where to go to get a pet. “There’s a lot of messaging around ‘adopt, don’t shop,’” she said. “But we haven’t done a good job of messaging about how to find responsible breeders.” The law will fully go into effect in 2020. It follows a bill passed in California last year that requires all pet stores to sell rescue animals. + The Humane Society Via The Washington Post Images via Depositphotos and Lydia Torrey on Unsplash

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Maryland just banned the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores

Couple restores an old Airstream into a chic tiny home on wheels

April 24, 2018 by  
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Embracing an on-the-road lifestyle and downsizing your belongings doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing style. Kate Oliver and Ellen Prasse renovated an old Airstream into a chic and sophisticated living space. The ambitious couple, who run renovation company Modern Caravan , had their work cut out for them from the beginning. The camper needed a massive structural renovation including waterproofing, restoring windows, and creating an entirely new interior. Once the stage was set, the couple got to work on a gorgeous interior design for the 200-square-foot home . The couple started the Airstream renovation by gutting the interior and reinforcing the camper’s overall structure. They fixed and waterproofed the rotted windows and gaps to properly insulate the home, and they installed new axles and a solar-powered electrical system on the caravan. Related: 7 retro-chic Airstream renovations From there, Kate and Ellen began to design custom furniture to make the interior space as efficient as possible. Every piece of furniture has its place, resulting in a clutter-free living area. A beautiful rose-colored sofa with hidden storage compartments is at the heart of the living room, which is well-lit by natural light . Although it is fairly compact, the kitchen rivals that of any contemporary home. To make the most out of the space, Ellen cut and fitted the cabinets herself . Nine feet of counter space, a deep sink and plenty of storage make the area extremely functional. After their first Airstream renovation , the couple realized that they had a special talent for designing custom spaces in caravans, and have since turned that design savvy into a business. “We were completely self-taught, and we realized through the process of building that first Airstream that when we work together, we create something exceptional,” Kate said. “Now, four years later, we live in our renovated Airstream that serves as our mobile home and office, and renovate Airstreams on a client-by-client basis all across the country.” + The Modern Caravan Via Dwell Photography by Kate Oliver

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Couple restores an old Airstream into a chic tiny home on wheels

Trump official delays protection of endangered species at oil lobbyist’s request

April 20, 2018 by  
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A top United States Department of the Interior official appears to have used his position to delay the protection of an endangered species at the request of the oil industry. As reported by the Guardian based on acquired documents, Interior official Vincent deVito acquiesced to a 2017 e-mail from the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) asking that the Texas hornshell mussel not be placed under protection for six months in the interest of continued, uninhibited oil industry activity. While the mussel was eventually placed on the endangered species list in 2018, former Interior officials and government watchdogs have expressed concerns over the ethics and legality of deVito’s actions. Of particular concern is the Trump Administration’s seeming disregard to science in favor of political decision making. “Listing decisions under the Endangered Species Act are meant to be entirely science-based decisions that result from – in some cases – years of review by experts in the field, not political appointees,” former Interior associate deputy secretary Elizabeth Klein told The Guardian . “A delay in and of itself might not be the end of the world – but then again it very well could be for an imperiled species.” In response to criticism, Interior press secretary Heather Swift said in a statement that deVito “maintains that he simply responded with an acknowledgment of receipt on the mussel email and maintains he had no role whatsoever in the listing.” Related: New evidence shows oil and coal were central in the decision to reduce Bears Ears There’s a portfolio of instances where DeVito used his official capacity in ways that would appear to be favorable to the fossil fuel industry. For example, DeVito described his close consultation of industry lobbyists before proposing a reduction of royalty rates on offshore oil and gas from 18.75% to 12.5% – a recommendation that was ultimately rejected by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. DeVito was also influential in approving a coal project near the habitat of the endangered Big Sandy crayfish in West Virginia . “It a scientific integrity violation for a political appointee to essentially leapfrog the Fish and Wildlife Service’s process when you have an Endangered Species Act listing involved,” former career Interior scientist Joel Clement told The Guardian . Via The Guardian Images via New Mexico State Land Office and YouTube

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Bottlenose dolphins spotted in Canadian Pacific waters for the first time

April 20, 2018 by  
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Bottlenose dolphins typically reside in tropical or warm-temperate waters around the world — but researchers recently glimpsed a group of around 200 of the dolphins and around 70 false killer whales off northern Vancouver Island’s west coast in Canada. They said this sighting is “the only occurrence of common bottlenose dolphins recorded in Canadian Pacific waters” — and a warming trend could be to blame. In July 2017, Halpin Wildlife Research , working with Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Department of Environment and Climate Change , documented the dolphins and whales. In research published this month in the journal Marine Biodiversity Records , the three researchers involved said the sighting “is the most northerly record” for common bottlenose dolphins “in the eastern North Pacific .” Related: A beluga whale living with dolphins learned to “speak their language” Lead author Luke Halpin said in a statement , “The sighting is also the first offshore report of false killer whales in British Columbia. To see the two species traveling together and interacting was quite special and rare. It is known that common bottlenose dolphins and false killer whales seek each other out and interact, but the purpose of the interactions is unclear.” Warming in eastern North Pacific waters between 2013 and 2016 could be the reason for the presence of the dolphins and whales. Halpin said he’s documented warm-water species in British Columbia waters since 2014, including a loggerhead turtle and a swordfish . He said, “With marine waters increasingly warming up, we can expect to see more typically warm-water species in the northeastern Pacific.” + BioMed Central + Marine Biodiversity Records Images via Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith on Flickr and the National Park Service

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Bottlenose dolphins spotted in Canadian Pacific waters for the first time

Conservationists sound the alarm to address ‘America’s wildlife crisis’

March 29, 2018 by  
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A coalition of conservationist groups have called for urgent action to address the drastic decline in American wildlife . According to the groups’ recently released report, one in three animal species in the United States is vulnerable to extinction, while one in five face a severe threat amid a serious decline in American biodiversity. “Fish, birds, mammals, reptiles and invertebrates are all losing ground,” Collin O’Mara, chief executive of the National Wildlife Federation, told the Guardian . “We owe it to our children and grandchildren to prevent these species from vanishing from the earth.” Over 1,270 species native to the United States are listed as at-risk under the Endangered Species Act, which include such iconic creatures as the grizzly bear and the California condor. In their recent report, the National Wildlife Federation, American Fisheries Society and the Wildlife Society argued that the actual number of at-risk species is significantly higher. The difference in numbers is accounted for by the data source. While federal authorities document species on a case-by-case basis, the report relies on data from  NatureServe , which determines the health of any particular species on a sliding scale. Related: Spending bill would open the world’s largest intact temperate forest to logging Some kinds of animals have fared worse than others. 40% of all freshwater fish in the United States are now endangered or at-risk while amphibian populations shrink within their known territory by 4% each year. “This loss of wildlife has been sneaking up on us but is now like a big tsunami that is going to hit us,” Thomas Lovejoy, a biologist at George Mason University who advised the report, told the Guardian . Species decline can be attributed to a variety of factors, including habitat loss, increased spread of disease, climate change , and pesticide use. The report emphasizes the need for a federal response to deal with this crisis, citing successful examples of species recovery efforts throughout the United States. This increased threat to biodiversity is not unique to the United States. “ Extinctions are ramping up, and if that continues it will be one for the history books for the whole planet,” environmental scientist Erle Ellis told the Guardian . The world is getting very humanized and I’m very concerned about the cost to biodiversity . It’s a challenge that will face us throughout this century and beyond.” Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Conservationists sound the alarm to address ‘America’s wildlife crisis’

New family of antibiotics discovered in soil offers hope

February 13, 2018 by  
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Antibiotic resistance threatens humanity even as superbugs are discovered in places like pig farms . But a recent discovery offers new hope. A Rockefeller University -led team of scientists found a new family of antibiotics in dirt, the BBC reported . The researchers hope the natural compounds could be used to fight infections that are difficult to treat. 12 scientists discovered malacidins, compounds which, based on tests, kill multiple bacterial diseases now resistant to most of our existing antibiotics. That includes the superbug MRSA . They utilized a gene sequencing technique to scrutinize over 1,000 soil samples that came from around America to find the new antibiotic family. The BBC said soil teems with millions of microorganisms that produce compounds that could be potentially therapeutic or serve as new antibiotics. Related: Antibiotic resistant bugs could kill 10 million people each year by 2050 Malacidins were present in many of the samples, suggesting it could be an important find. According to the BBC, the scientists gave rats MRSA and then tested malacidins; the compound eradicated the infection in skin wounds. They’re now working to boost the drug’s effectiveness so that perhaps it could be developed into a treatment for humans – but that could take a while. Rockefeller University scientist Sean Brady told the BBC, “It is impossible to say when, or even if, an early stage antibiotic discovery like the malacidins will proceed to the clinic. It is a long, arduous road from the initial discovery of an antibiotic to a clinically used entity.” Antibiotic Research UK professor Colin Garner, who was not part of the research team, said the find is good news but we really need antibiotics for gram-negative bacteria . These new compounds might tackle gram-positive infections like MRSA, but “our concern are the so called gram-negative bacteria which are difficult to treat and where resistance is on the increase.” The journal Nature Microbiology published the research online yesterday. Scientists from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School contributed. Via the BBC Images via Pixabay and Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash

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