Study shows biodegradable plastic bags still hold groceries 3 years after being discarded

May 1, 2019 by  
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Biodegradable plastic bags are not as eco-friendly as their labeling might suggest. A new study discovered that these biodegradable plastics can actually survive years in various environments without fully decomposing. Researchers examined different types of biodegradable plastic bags and found that they were still intact after spending three years in the ground, water and air environments. In fact, the bags were still able to carry groceries without tearing. The study was recently published in the Environmental Science and Technology journal. The scientists believe their research indicates that biodegradable plastic bags might not be a viable substitute for single-use plastics, because the rate of degradation is much longer than previously thought. Considering the growing concern surrounding plastic waste , the study could have significant impacts on the industry. Related: A guide to the different types of plastic “After three years, I was really amazed that any of the bags could still hold a load of shopping,” lead researcher Imogen Napper explained. “For biodegradable bags to be able to do that was the most surprising.” Researchers examined five types of plastic bags. This includes biodegradable, oxo-biodegradable, compostable and high-density polyethylene (conventional plastic) bags. The only bag that fully decomposed in marine environments was the compostable bag , which completely disappeared within three months. The reason the compostable bags did not perform well in the other environments is that they are designed to break down in the presence of micro-organisms. If they are buried in soil that lacks these organisms, the bags will not break down properly. In light of the study, the company that makes the compostable bags, Vegware, issued a statement about how its bags will only decompose in the right environment, which is what the product was designed to do. Based on the findings, experts believe the general public is being misled when it comes to biodegradable plastic bags and that companies should be required to change their labeling to reflect the reality of the situation. + Environmental Science & Technology Via The Guardian Images via Imogen Napper

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Study shows biodegradable plastic bags still hold groceries 3 years after being discarded

Tips and tricks to make spring cleaning more eco-friendly

April 3, 2019 by  
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When the spring cleaning season comes around, many homeowners turn to their favorite cleaning products to tidy up. But not all of your go-to cleaners are good for the environment. Many products on the market feature harmful chemicals that leach into the ecosystem, causing harm to people and the environment alike. If you are looking to get into spring cleaning mode without potentially hurting your health, here is a quick guide on what chemicals to avoid and how to clean with the environment in mind. Chemicals linked to health problems Cleaning chemicals may eliminate harmful bacteria from your home, but they also can lead to serious health problems. This includes irritating eyes, skin and respiratory systems. The most obvious health issues that arise are due to skin contact with toxic chemicals that are absorbed by the body. According to AcuuWeather , harmful chemicals can also enter the air and cause respiratory problems. Individuals who clean on a daily basis are more susceptible to these issues, especially when it comes to long-term health concerns. Identify harmful chemicals There are a number of different chemicals that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deemed volatile. According to SF Gate , this includes ammonia, nitrogen and phosphorus, all of which are commonly found in household cleaning products. For example, most dishwasher detergents contain about 40 percent phosphorus, while nitrogen is a common ingredient in glass cleaner. Related: How to decode confusing labels on common household cleaners Keep chemicals out of the water Many of the chemicals you use in the spring cleaning process end up in the sewage, whether they are rinsed down the sink or flushed in the toilet. Fortunately, the majority of chemicals are filtered out in sewage plants before the water goes to rivers and lakes. That said, nitrogen, ammonia and phosphorus are not removed in treatment plants. Instead, these three chemicals usually end up in waterways, where they contaminate larger bodies of water like lakes and oceans . Once they enter freshwater environments, they can wreak havoc on aquatic life and plants. These chemicals can also contaminate water supplies if they are dumped in large concentrations. Avoid air contamination As noted earlier, harmful chemicals in household products can enter the air and cause respiratory issues. If you open windows while cleaning for better ventilation, you are simply pushing these volatile chemicals into the atmosphere. In fact, the EPA has found that cleaning chemicals contribute to pollution and smog, which is why some are restricted in select locations, such as California. Ventilating the harmful chemicals outside may be better for the indoor air quality , but it is more harmful for the environment in the long-term. Although using harmful chemicals has major side effects, there are plenty of ways you can keep your house clean without harming yourself or the environment. Use eco-friendly cleaners The best way to avoid harmful cleaning products is to look for non-toxic chemicals. These products are usually equipped with an eco-friendly or biodegradable label. You should also avoid buying products that are known to irritate skin or are flammable. Related: Truman’s wants to reduce single-use plastics in the household cleaner industry You can also make your own eco-friendly cleaning products with a few household staples. Ingredients like lemon, vinegar, baking soda and glycerine are great at combating dirt and grease. A mixture of soap and water or water and vinegar can easily remove tough stains while eliminating germs. You can also add a little baking soda for some added abrasion. Get rid of paper towels You can burn through a lot of paper towels during spring cleaning, which is not great for the environment in the long run. As an alternative, try buying reusable towels to clean. You can pick up some affordable towels at your local grocery store or cut up old T-shirts. Using old clothes will also keep waste out of the landfill. Clean up the laundry There is no denying that dryers are a big convenience of modern society. But, according to Planet Aid , you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint by hang-drying your clothes on a regular basis. Dyers consume a lot of electricity, so only using them on rainy days helps the environment and puts some money back in your pocket. Related: Get ready to use soapnuts for everything from cleaning to self care When it comes to washing, look for detergents that have an eco-friendly label. Although these cleaners used to be expensive, the costs have come down considerably, and you can usually find natural alternatives at competitive price points. You can also purchase cleaners in bulk to save even more money. Reuse household items for cleaning Instead of throwing away old clothing items or toothbrushes, use them for cleaning. Toothbrushes are great for reaching tight corners, and even an old sock can be put to work dusting. If you are really creative, you can even sew together old towels to create a makeshift mop cover. Once you are done with these items, you can either wash and reuse them or put them in the recycle bin. Images via Public Domain Pictures , Fotoblend , Pasja1000 , Alex and Stevepb

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Tips and tricks to make spring cleaning more eco-friendly

Burger King unveils the plant-based Impossible Whopper

April 3, 2019 by  
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The Impossible Burger is coming to a Burger King near you. The fast food chain is releasing a new burger with a vegetarian patty called the Impossible Whopper. The company is teaming up with the creators of Impossible Foods to bring a plant-based vegetarian option to nearly 60 Burger Kings in the St. Louis area and potentially to thousands across the country. Burger King hopes the Impossible Whopper will quickly become the new staple for people looking to swap meat for plant-based options. To that end, Burger King is partnering with Impossible Foods to bring the vegetarian patty to a much wider audience than ever before. The vegetarian option will include the same toppings and bun as the regular Whopper and will cost about $1 more. Related: We tried the new Impossible Burger at CES — here’s what we thought Impossible Foods has collaborated with other burger joints in the past. The company featured its Impossible Burger in more than one thousand Carl’s Jr. franchises. It also partnered with White Castle , which sold a slider variety of the food in a little under 400 of its establishments. But the new deal with Burger King is much larger in scale. In fact, the fast food chain plans to release the burger in more than 7,000 restaurants across the United States. That is well over double the amount of venues that currently offer the Impossible Burger. The head of marketing for Burger King, Fernando Machado, said that early tests confirm that people have not been able to tell the difference between the old beef Whopper and the new plant-based one. “People on my team who know the Whopper inside and out, they try it and they struggle to differentiate which one is which,” Machado shared. Burger King is featuring the Impossible Whopper in 59 restaurants in St. Louis to start before expanding to other locations. If things in St. Louis go smoothly, then the company plans to release the Impossible Burger to its other restaurants. Machado believes that the new burger will be a major hit with customers and has every intention in spreading it to other locations. The company hopes that offering the Impossible Burger in multiple venues across the U.S. will encourage people to stop eating beef and opt for a more eco-friendly diet. + Impossible Foods Via NY Times Image via Impossible Foods

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Burger King unveils the plant-based Impossible Whopper

Biodegradable tableware made from wheat bran debuts at Toronto’s Green Living Show

March 25, 2019 by  
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This week, Toronto citizens learned that wheat bran is good for more than enhancing digestive regularity. An innovative Polish company displayed its disposable, biodegradable tableware made from unprocessed wheat bran at Toronto’s Green Living Show. While an ordinary disposable plastic plate could take 500 years to break down, Biotrem’s tableware biodegrades through composting within a single month. They’re made from compressed wheat bran, a by-product of the cereal milling process. Biotrem can make up to 10,000 biodegradable plates and bowls from one ton of wheat bran. Related: Shellworks upcycles leftover lobster shells into biodegradable bioplastics The wheat bran tableware can handle hot or cold food, liquid or solids and is microwave-safe. From picnic spots to barrooms, the new biodegradable cups and plates could decrease landfill -bound garbage. Wheat farmer and miller Jerzy Wysocki devised the process of turning wheat bran into plates. Every time he milled wheat, Wysocki found himself with excess wheat bran. Through trial and error, he discovered that mixing the bran with water, then heating and pressurizing it resulted in a sturdy material. He started what would grow into Biotrem with a single machine that he built on his farm . Biotrem’s production plant in Zambrow can currently produce about 15 million biodegradable bowls and plates per year. They also make disposable cutlery, which combines wheat bran with fully biodegradable PLA bio-plastic. So far, Biotrem products are available in a dozen European countries, the U.S., Canada, South Korea and Lebanon. Transform Events & Consulting, based in Charlottestown, Prince Edward Island, distributes Biotrem products to the Canadian market. The event company introduced more consumers to wheat bran plates at this month’s Green Living Show at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. “As event organizers, we see just how much plastic waste is generated at events of all kinds, especially festivals,” said Mark Carr-Rollitt, owner of Transform Events & Consulting. “We are thrilled to partner with Biotrem to offer a well-designed, viable alternative to single use plastics.” Via Biotrem Images Biotrem

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Biodegradable tableware made from wheat bran debuts at Toronto’s Green Living Show

This carbon-neutral festival promotes sustainable fun in Thailand

December 4, 2018 by  
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The fields are alive with art, architecture, food, wellness, talks and workshops, family activities and music at the fifth annual Wonderfruit festival in Pattaya, Thailand this December. Wonderfruit is a five-day, carbon-neutral event that inspires curiosity and encourages exploration of the unknown while promoting sustainable practices. Technically, Wonderfruit is a three-part festival with phase one in September, phase two in November and phase three taking place in December. Individuals and families alike will find copious entertainment options with more than 60 musical artists and dozens of massive art pieces displayed throughout the venue, which they refer to as “The Fields.” There are a variety of accommodations at the event for those who wish to extend their stay and nearly 55 farm-to-table food vendors to explore while you do. The event even brings in world-renowned chefs each year to offer guests delicious feasts with a side of educational opportunities. Related: Bjarke Ingels is crowdfunding a massive reflective sphere for Burning Man 2018 After you’ve stuffed yourself, had a drink and danced ’til you dropped, you can attend one of the 100 wellness activities focused on yoga, chakras, meditation, drum circle dancing, massage and more. Once you’re relaxed, dedicate yourself to learning something new via the 35 different seminar speakers and workshops. But there is no need to set a rigid schedule. The idea is to simply move about the campus, taking in something new at every turn where you might run into a pottery-making demonstration, football lesson, musical engagement, light show, fire dancing or dragon kite flying. The festival hours for phase three of the Wonderfruit festival are as follows, where you can take in one day or multiple: Thursday, December 13: 4 p.m.-midnight Friday, December 14: 8 a.m.-midnight Saturday, December 15: 8 a.m.-midnight Sunday, December 16: 8 a.m.-midnight Monday, December 17: 8 a.m.-12 noon (site closes at 12 noon) In alignment with the mantra, “Reduce, reuse, refill,” the venue does not allow any single-use plastic, so visitors should bring a reusable water bottle. Of course, you can support the cause by purchasing a reusable stainless steel cup on site or before the event at a discount. This cup also provides a discount on all drinks purchased at the event. All servingware at the venue is biodegradable , and organizers request that all attendees do their part to create as little waste as possible. Recycling and food waste bins are located throughout the venue, and all visitors are expected to use them accordingly. Overall, if you are looking for a day (or four) of fun and sustainability, this is a festival worth attending. + Wonderfruit Images via Wonderfruit

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Even fish can eat Nuatan, the bioplastic that could answer the plastic pollution crisis

October 1, 2018 by  
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A potential solution to the world’s plastic pollution crisis has recently been unveiled at the London Design Festival. Crafting Plastics Studio, established by design duo Vlasta Kubušová and Miroslav Král, created the all-natural alternative, which is made from corn starch, sugar and cooking oil. According to the team, who researches and constructs cutting-edge materials for their avant-garde designs, Nuatan has the possibility to “replace all the packaging we know,” because it is so safe that even fish can eat it. At a glance, Nuatan may seem elementary in its composition, however, Kubušová and Král spent six years conceiving the bioplastic with material scientists at the Slovak University of Technology. This is time well spent, considering that the composition is enduring, rapidly degradable and safe to ingest. More durable than previous bioplastic samples, the material can last up to 15 years and withstands temperatures over 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius). Related: This edible, plastic-free packaging is grown from kombucha starter “For the first time, a fully bio-based, biodegradable material can be considered as a competitor in terms of properties and processability,” the designers explained. Nuatan’s applications are limitless, because the poly-blend is not restricted to blow-forming like traditional plastics are. Crafting Plastics Studio designed the material to succeed in any production chain. “We’re using it for 3D printing , injection molding and other plastic manufacturing technologies,” the team said. Approval of a food-safety certificate would mean that Nuatan could realistically replace all packaging , because the material is biodegradable. Industrial composters would have no trouble breaking down the substance. The possible solution to replacing single-use plastics such as plastic bags, plates, straws, water bottles, cutlery and others is found in the patented combination of naturally derived Polyacid Acid (PLA) from corn starch with Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), which is corn starch that has been processed by microorganisms. Because Nuatan’s composition is not formulated from carbon-based raw materials, “it degrades inside the human body or animals,” Kubušová explained. This biocompatible feature, along with Nuatan’s durability, means that it can be used in nearly everything except heavy-duty situations, such as vehicle construction. At a lower energy and resource consumption value than traditional petroleum-based plastics, Nuatan ticks all the boxes regarding environmental sustainability and climate change relief. Faced with a high cost of production, there is still some time before the new bioplastic will see widespread use. But increased demand could help drive the cost of materials down to affordable levels. “We are hoping to find collaborators who want to include it in the right products, and not combine it with other materials, so it’s a mono-material,” Kubušová said. Faithful to their ethical and capable inception, the team made a very valid point — “If we can find the right collaborators, it can change things a lot.” For a lot of people, a lot of animals and a lot of places on Earth… + Crafting Plastics Via Dezeen Images via Adam Šakový, Andrej Andrej and Lucia Scerankova / Crafting Plastics

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Even fish can eat Nuatan, the bioplastic that could answer the plastic pollution crisis

This scarf protects against air pollution, allergens and viral infections

October 1, 2018 by  
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Air pollution is a major problem around the world, but one company is helping people stay safe no matter where they live. Bioscarf has created a stylish accessory that doubles as a safety mask for people living in places with high concentrations of pollution. These handy scarves help fight against air pollutants, allergens and viral infections, like the cold and flu. Bioscarf offers its product in a handful of colors, including white, black, green and a camouflage print. Each scarf is made from high-quality polyester and carries the company’s logo. They are roughly 7 feet long and just under a foot wide, making them ideal for burying your face into when cold winds breeze by you. While these scarves are fashionable , they also protect against allergens and viral infections. This includes the cold and influenza, both of which are common infections that become a problem every year in larger urban areas. Related: Scientists find air pollution leads to significant decline in cognition The scarves work by filtering out more than 94 percent of contaminants in the air , keeping you just as healthy as a traditional safety mask. According to the company, testing showed that the Bioscarf filtered nearly 100 percent of airborne particulates with a size 0.1 or larger, including pneumonia, step throat, influenza, tuberculosis, animal dander, pollen and cigarette smoke. Co-founder Hazel Solle was inspired to create the scarf after a vacation to China with her family. Her husband, Carlton, got sick overseas, and a doctor told them it was likely because of the air pollution. The doctor recommended they wear masks, inspiring the couple to think of a better solution. Hazel also recalled growing up in Costa Rica and making tiny scarves out of leftover materials for her dolls. The idea hit her that scarves could double as fashion pieces and air pollution masks. In addition to its scarf lineup, the company also has a special program where it donates a scarf to charity for each one it sells — a great incentive for consumers who want to help those in need. “Experts say that over 2 billion kids around the world are breathing toxic air and nobody is talking about it,” Hazel said.“It’s time to not only raise awareness about this issue, but to more importantly give many of the people at risk who don’t have the means to protect themselves something to help them combat air pollution on a daily basis.” + Bioscarf

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This scarf protects against air pollution, allergens and viral infections

Biodegradable Water Filters: Eliminate Plastic Bottle Use With Compostable Faucet Filters

September 25, 2018 by  
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Sponsored Article: Brought to You by TAPP Water When it … The post Biodegradable Water Filters: Eliminate Plastic Bottle Use With Compostable Faucet Filters appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Biodegradable Water Filters: Eliminate Plastic Bottle Use With Compostable Faucet Filters

Amazing new biodegradable insulation only burns after one-hour of fire exposure

February 27, 2018 by  
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100 percent natural insulation from Chilean company Rootman is also resistant to flames, according to ArchDaily . Rootman’s product, Thermoroot, absorbs sound and provides optimal thermal performance — and, according to its designers, the sustainable insulation only starts burning 60 minutes of fire exposure. That’s in contrast to polystyrene , fiberglass, or polyurethane, which will start burning in three seconds, 15 seconds, or one minute, respectively. With the goal of insulating buildings more efficiently, Rootman created Thermoroot, which they say is biodegradable , comprised of 100 percent natural fiber, and won’t harm the environment . They basically grow what they call a Radicular Mattress; in isolated chambers, they hydroponically cultivate oat or barley grain seeds in trays that, according to ArchDaily, “define the required thickness of the roots ” to create the mattress. The process takes between 10 and 15 days, and Rootman doesn’t employ chemical additives or draw on genetic modifications. Related: Hemp-based insulation makes a comeback in Belgium The germination process can happen in any geographical location or climate, according to ArchDaily. It boasts a low water and carbon footprint, doesn’t pollute, and trees don’t need to be cut down for the process. And in case of a fire, the green insulation offers a one-hour window before it burns. Thermoroot can entirely replace conventional insulators like Mineral Wool, Expanded Polystyrene, or Polyurethane, according to ArchDaily, thermally and acoustically insulating floors, ceilings, or walls. The publication said Rootman is working to offer an effective alternative for expensive natural insulators and synthetic insulators that are harmful for health and the environment. If you’d like more information, Rootman includes links to a technical information PDF, certification of sound absorption, a thermal conductivity certification, and a firefighters’ technical report on their website; you can find those here . The company also says their technology could serve as “a soil improver for the garden and agriculture .” + Rootman Via ArchDaily Images via Rootman SpA/ArchDaily

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Amazing new biodegradable insulation only burns after one-hour of fire exposure

This company makes leggings with biodegradable, compostable fabric

February 16, 2018 by  
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Have you ever heard the words ‘ biodegradable ‘ and ‘ compostable ‘ associated with activewear? Philadelphia-based fitness company Aqua Vida offers leggings and shorts made with Amni Soul Eco fabric that is 100 percent recyclable and reusable – and in an anaerobic landfill or compost heap, will decompose in under three years. Aqua Vida offers biodegradable leggings – created with Amni Soul Eco intelligent yarn from chemistry company Solvay . The polyamide yarn provides antibacterial benefits and UV protection, according to the company . Some other benefits: the clothing is lightweight, will far outlive cheaper fabrics, and includes intelligent moisture absorption, per Aqua Vida. The apparel is intended for yoga , surfing, working out in the gym, or other exercise activities. Related: Satva’s organic yoga-inspired clothing supports education for young girls in India Don’t worry about sweat – these biodegradable leggings won’t decompose while you’re moving in them. Instead, the fabric only begins to break down when it’s surrounded by bacteria in an anaerobic landfill or compost bin. Otherwise, its shelf life is as lengthy as that of traditional polyamides, according to Aqua Vida. The process to create the yarn is also sustainable – per Aqua Vida, the fabric “is produced in a closed cycle manufacturing system, a production process which collects and recycles scrap, wastewater, raw materials found in the water, and heat that is generated in some of the production phases.” Aqua Vida, which sells clothes and offers standup paddleboard yoga classes, highlights sustainability as one of their values on their website; they host ocean cleanups with the goal of removing 10,000 pounds of trash from waterways by 2020. With 16 cleanups behind them, they’ve removed 3,341 pounds of garbage so far. The company says for every dollar customers spend, they allocate one percent to local water conservation efforts, which includes their cleanups. Their Biodegradable Flow Legging costs $68; the Biodegradable Flow Shorts are $48. + Aqua Vida + Aqua Vida Eco-Friendly Fabrics Via Philadelphia Magazine Images via Aqua Vida and Aqua Vida Facebook

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This company makes leggings with biodegradable, compostable fabric

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