United Nations recognizes first-ever carbon-neutral soccer club

July 31, 2018 by  
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The Forest Green Rovers , a Gloucestershire-based team in the English Football League that prides itself as “the world’s greenest football club,” has been recognized by the United Nations carbon-neutral – a world first. The team joined the Football League last year in its first-ever debut in the 129-year history of the club and is part of Britain’s  League Two . In addition to receiving the prestigious UN designation, the professional soccer club has signed up for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Climate Neutral Now initiative for the upcoming 2018-2019 season. The Climate Neutral Now initiative was developed in the wake of the  Paris Agreement  to encourage climate action around the world. Related: Adidas unveils a Manchester United jersey created with ocean plastic The club also serves vegan food to its fans and was awarded a vegan trademark from the Vegan Society as well. The Forest Green Rovers came up with the idea because they wanted to create awareness of the “huge environmental and animal welfare impacts of livestock farming.” They also wished to improve player performance all while giving fans “healthier, tastier food on match days.” The Forest Green Rovers stadium uses 100% green energy supplied by the club’s chairman, Dale Vince, founder of renewable energy company Ecotricity . The parking lot features electric car charging facilities, making it easier for eco-conscious fans to attend the games. All rainfall is collected and recycled from the field and stand areas in order to minimize water consumption. And, in true futuristic and sustainable fashion, the club even has a solar-powered robot to mow its beautiful, organic soccer field. Cheers to that! + Forest Green Rovers + UNFCCC Via The Guardian

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United Nations recognizes first-ever carbon-neutral soccer club

This British caf is serving to-go coffee in ceramic mugs to combat waste

July 5, 2018 by  
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A coffee shop northeast of London wants to serve its customers coffee in a mug from your home.  La Tour Cycle Café has a novel idea to stop its reliance on disposable coffee cups: pour everything into reusable ceramic mugs, even if the order is to-go. A 2017 report from Britain’s House of Commons discovered as many as 2.5 billion coffee cups are disposed across the United Kingdom every year. This equates to more than 6.8 million cups per day. To cut down the amount of waste from hot beverages, the La Tour Cycle Café has started serving everything — including to-go beverages — in  reusable mugs . Although customers sometimes choose to take their beverages with them, supplying more mugs for the next customer isn’t a problem for the café. Every day, the business puts out a collection basket for coffee drinkers to return their cups . While many choose to come back with their glassware, even more use the opportunity to clean out their cabinets and donate their unused mugs to the café. “We’ve all got mugs languishing in our cupboards that we no longer need,” Anna Matthews, the owner of La Tour Cycle Café, told the BBC . “Why not donate them to your local coffee shop and allow people to actually have a hot drink in a china cup while they walk around?” Related: German city offers ingenious alternative to single-use coffee cups The unique program allows people to reduce the amount of waste destined for landfills  while still enjoying their favorite beverages. But reusing and recycling isn’t a new concept for Matthews and La Tour Cycle. Earlier in 2018, Matthews worked with a contractor team to transform a vacated building. Matthews was able to move her business into the bigger space, which features better wheelchair accessibility and public art displays. The café — and its eclectic collection of coffee mugs — only plans to be in the new space for two years;  Matthews has aspirations to move and give new life to another abandoned building by then. + La Tour Cycle Café Via BBC , The East Anglican Daily Times  and  Treehugger

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This British caf is serving to-go coffee in ceramic mugs to combat waste

RBS will cease financing new coal stations, Arctic oil, or oil sands projects

May 29, 2018 by  
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Several oil and gas projects will no longer receive financing from Britain’s Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Reuters reported . The bank said it won’t offer project-specific finance for Arctic oil and oil sands projects, new coal -fired power stations, new thermal coal mines, or unsustainable peatland or vegetation clearance projects. RBS Director of Sustainable Banking Kirsty Britz said, “The RBS of 2018 is very different to the bank we were a few years ago. If we’re going to support our customers in the long run, then it means addressing the challenge of climate change and the risks and opportunities it presents.” The changes are part of RBS’s tighter restrictions on finance and general lending for what Reuters described as “high-carbon energy projects.” In addition to the projects listed above, RBS said it won’t provide finance for “ mining companies generating more than 40 percent of their revenues from thermal coal” and “ power companies generating more than 40 percent of their electricity from coal.” In the past, the threshold for both types of companies was 65 percent. Related: The World Bank will stop funding oil and gas projects after 2019 RBS quoted Sonia Hierzig of ShareAction , a responsible investment charity, as saying the energy financing policies “make RBS the bank with the strongest energy sector policies out of the top five UK banks…RBS would now rank 8th in our climate ranking of the 15 largest European banks, up from 11th previously.” The bank said they’ve funded “more British renewable energy projects than any other UK bank for the last six years running.” They also said they obtain 90 percent of electricity in the UK and Ireland via renewable energy and, since 2014, have seen a 39 percent drop in their carbon dioxide emissions . + Royal Bank of Scotland Via Reuters Images via Depositphotos (1)

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‘Plastic Free Trust Mark’ helps customers dodge plastic packaging

May 28, 2018 by  
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New labeling will assist shoppers in buying food  and drinks that aren’t packaged in plastic . Campaign group A Plastic Planet is behind what’s called the Plastic Free Trust Mark, adopted thus far by some supermarket chains and a tea company. The campaigners are hoping that the labeling will inspire more retailers to jump on the plastic-free bandwagon. The Plastic Free Trust Mark has been launched to support retailers which have made pledges to phase out plastic packaging. Early adopters are Tea brand @teapigs , Dutch supermarket chain @Ekoplaza and @IcelandFoods https://t.co/wmbTqQybMF — A Plastic Planet (@aplastic_planet) May 17, 2018 Sometimes it’s obvious that the food item you’re about to buy is wrapped in plastic — other times, not so much. For example, the discovery that most of the tea bags in Britain contained plastic shocked consumers. A Plastic Planet co-founder Sian Sutherland told The Guardian , “Our trust mark cuts through the confusion of symbols and labels and tells you just one thing — this packaging is plastic-free and therefore guilt-free.” The new Plastic Free Trust Mark could help shoppers discern whether or not there’s plastic in packaging with a quick glance. According to U.K.-based tea brand Teapigs , one of the early adopters of the new labels, there are several alternative materials to use in accredited packaging: glass, metal, wood pulp, compostable biomaterials  and carton board. Sutherland said she hopes the move helps slash plastic waste , saying, “Finally shoppers can be part of the solution, not the problem.” Related: First plastic-free supermarket aisle opens in Amsterdam Along with Teapigs, U.K. grocery store chain Iceland is adopting the label and plans to roll it out this month on some of their own label products. They’ve already set a goal to remove plastic packaging from their label products by 2023 . Iceland managing director Richard Walker told the Guardian, “With the grocery retail sector accounting for more than 40 percent of plastic packaging in the U.K., it’s high time that Britain’s supermarkets came together to take a lead on this issue.” Netherlands-based grocery store chain Ekoplaza is also introducing the label in 74 outlets. Earlier this year, the company launched the world’s first plastic-free supermarket aisle at an Amsterdam location. + A Plastic Planet Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos

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‘Plastic Free Trust Mark’ helps customers dodge plastic packaging

The growing wine industry is threatening California’s Napa Valley

May 28, 2018 by  
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Napa Valley , a world-famous symbol of American excellence in wine, is threatened by too much of a good thing. Ever-increasing wine production has inflicted damage on the region’s economy and ecology.  The industrialization of Napa has resulted in the loss of 95 percent of the oak trees that once covered the valley, and now locals are organizing to protect the area. “With great success came great money and outsiders,” Napa expert and journalist James Conaway told the Guardian . Only a few decades ago, the region was home to fruit orchards and livestock farms as well as vineyards. “Now it’s monoculture with a vengeance,” said Conaway. “Hundreds of miles of steel trellising holding up the vines from one end of the valley to the next. It has an industrial sheen.” Napa County contains California ‘s densest concentration of oak forests, a source of pride for residents that provides invaluable ecological services to the living things that call Napa home. The oak trees sequester carbon, capture rainwater and prevent erosion through their thick roots. The majority of Napa’s oak trees are found in the surrounding hills. However, one-third of the remaining oaks are standing on what is considered to be potential agricultural land. Related: 100% solar-powered winery keeps naturally cool with cork-insulated roofs  In response to the rapid expansion of the area’s  wine industry, local residents have organized around Measure C, an upcoming ballot initiative that would guarantee protection to much of the remaining oak woodland. While the measure would limit the potential growth of the wine industry, those in favor of it say that they are motivated not by opposition to the wineries, but by an understanding that the valley needs sustainable growth . “Something’s very wrong with the way we are thinking about our resources,” said Warren Winiarski, whose Napa cabernet sauvignon won an upset 1976 taste test victory in Paris and put Napa on the map. “They are finite. And yet we go on with development as though we could do that indefinitely.” Via The Guardian Images via Stan Shebs on Wikimedia Commons (1, 2)

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The growing wine industry is threatening California’s Napa Valley

London considers banning wood-burning stoves to tackle air pollution

October 2, 2017 by  
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Wood-burning stoves could be producing up to one third of London’s fine particle pollution , according to figures cited by the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan . A ban on the stoves could help address the air pollution plaguing the capital; last week, Khan triggered the emergency air quality alert for the seventh time in 13 months. Wood-burning stoves have recently been popular in Britain – The Guardian reports 1.5 million have been sold in the country. 16 percent of households in southeast England have the stoves, compared to five percent nationally. But somewhere between a quarter and a third of fine particle pollution in the capital could arise from domestic wood burning. And King’s College London research indicates during very high air pollution in January, domestic wood burning yielded half of the emissions in some parts of London. Related: London breaks legal limits on air pollution in just five days in 2017 Khan said, “Non-transport sources contribute half of the deadly emissions in London, so we need a hard-hitting plan of action to combat them similar to moves I am taking to reduce pollution from road vehicles. With more than 400 schools located in areas exceeding legal pollution levels, and significant health impacts on our most vulnerable communities, we cannot wait any longer.” In a letter to Environment Secretary Michael Grove, Khan requested London’s environment department amend a Clean Air Act to set up zero-emission zones where people won’t be allowed to burn solid fuel from 2025 on. Khan also called for tougher enforcement on emissions restrictions for construction machinery like diggers and bulldozers, and for greater powers to tackle emissions coming from Thames River traffic. In a statement , the London government said half of toxic emissions come from cars and other road vehicles, and that the second-largest source of PM 2.5 particles is construction machinery. Via The Guardian Images via Pixabay and Joshua Newton on Unsplash

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Britain to ban new diesel and petrol cars in 2040

July 26, 2017 by  
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British government ministers think low air quality poses the biggest environmental threat to public health , but that threat is avoidable. They aim to clean up the skies by targeting emissions-spewing vehicles. Following a similar move in France , Britain is to ban the sale of diesel and petrol cars from 2040. Nitrogen oxide is plaguing the air in the United Kingdom. Earlier this year, London smashed annual air pollution limits in a mere five days – and Greenpeace said diesel vehicles were the single biggest source of air pollution in the city. Now the country could commit to ban sales of those polluting cars as part of their clean air plan. The move could even include hybrid vehicles . Related: France to ban all diesel and petrol cars in just over 20 years The government endeavored to move away from taxes on polluting cars, although they’d been encouraged to introduce charges for cars entering clean air zones. They wanted taxes to be a last resort, and a government spokesperson pointed to a £3 billion, around $3.9 billion, program to clean dirty air near roadways that will offer funding to advance local efforts, like retrofitting public transportation , reprogramming traffic lights, and altering road features like speed humps and roundabouts. £1 billion, or $1.3 billion, of the air quality package could go towards promoting low-emissions cars, with £100 million, or $1.3 million, devoted to boosting charging infrastructure for electric vehicles . More money could go to a green bus fund, cycling and walking, and low-emission taxis. The clean air plan has been part of a lengthy legal battle, with the final plan due by the end of July. Environmentalists weren’t impressed with a draft report seen earlier, which some lawyers said was much weaker than they wanted. Environment secretary Michael Grove will hope for a better response, according to The Guardian, when he puts out the final document this week. Via The Guardian Images via Mavis CW on Unsplash and PIVISO on Flickr

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This beautiful but toxic weed could make you go blind

July 26, 2017 by  
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Be careful before you pick that pretty wildflower . Giant hogweed, which can grow up to twenty-feet-tall and produce attractive white flowers, is a beautiful but dangerous plant. The plant produces a clear sap capable of causing third-degree burns or even blindness in humans who touch it. Native to the Caucasus in Central Asia , giant hogweed has become a wide-ranging invasive species in the Northern United States, Southern Canada, and Western Europe. Those who encounter the toxic flora are advised to admire from a distance. Like Japanese knotweed and other invasive, noxious plant species, giant hogweed was first introduced to the United Kingdom and other countries as an ornamental plant. Its white flowers reveal its familial origins as a member of the carrot family, like its similar though diminutive and less-toxic relative known as Queen Anne’s Lace. Hogweed flowers can be up to two feet across and are popular among pollinators. Related: Could Lasers Be The New Way to Kill Weeds? Hogweed’s curse is its phototoxic sap, which causes skin, eyes or whatever it touches to become highly sensitive to UV light. If the affected skin is exposed to sunlight, it can quickly become red and irritated. Affected areas will rapidly deteriorate if exposure is continued and the sap is not washed off. In North America, giant hogweed usually blooms in July. If possible, it is important to eliminate the plants before they flower and reproduce. “You want to have it eradicated before it does go to seed,” said Barbara Ashey, Town Administrator for Northport, Maine . “There are thousands of these seeds.” On the bright side, pigs and cows seem able to consume giant hogweed without harm and may be used as a biocontrol solution in the fight against the invasive species . Via Bangor Daily News/WGME Images via Nature Photos/Flickr and debs-eye/Flickr

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The original Brexit: ancient Britain’s geological split from Europe

April 5, 2017 by  
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Brexit – or Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – remains controversial even as Prime Minister Theresa May begins the process of leaving. But it turns out this process may not have been the first Brexit ever. Research led by Imperial College London scientists found evidence of an ancient geological Brexit – “the Brexit nobody voted for” – in the Dover Strait. According to their research a land bridge once existed between England and France . Ancient Britain, regardless of the lack of cities and people, might have been almost unrecognizable according to geophysical and seafloor data. In this Britain, which could have existed 450,000 years ago during an ice age, the whole English Channel would have been a frozen tundra crossed only by small rivers. Britain may have been physically connected to Europe by a chalk rock ridge spanning the Dover Strait that held back a proglacial lake , or lake in front of an ice sheet according to Imperial College London, in what is today the North Sea. Giant waterfalls from the lake could have contributed to erosion that breached the ridge. Related: UK’s Brexit vote could reverse environmental protections and contribute to climate change The data shows a valley system and huge holes on the seafloor. In France, there are around seven of these holes, or plunge pools, around 328 feet deep in a solid rock line between Dover and Calais. The straight line backs up the idea the holes were created by waterfalls cascading over a ridge about 328 feet high and around 20 miles long – the land bridge – to hit the ground below and erode rock. Catastrophic flooding is thought to have finished the ancient Brexit. The researchers found evidence of megaflood processes, which could have carved the valleys. Imperial College London professor Sanjeev Gupta, co-author on a paper published online yesterday in Nature Communications , said in a statement, “The breaching of this land bridge between Dover and Calais was undeniably one of the most important events in British history, helping to shape our island nation’s identity even today. When the ice age ended and sea levels rose, flooding the valley floor for good, Britain lost its physical connection to the mainland. Without this dramatic breaching Britain would still be part of Europe. This is Brexit 1.0 – the Brexit nobody voted for.” Via Imperial College London Images courtesy Imperial College London and Wikimedia Commons

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Critics outraged by UK plan to build 1.8 mile tunnel under Stonehenge

January 16, 2017 by  
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One of Britain’s most well-known archaeological landmarks could soon have a tunnel carved below it. The government unveiled plans for a 1.8 mile tunnel running under Stonehenge as part of a $2.4 billion infrastructure investment, hoping to slash traffic plaguing the area. But not everyone is happy with the government’s plan; some experts believe a tunnel could destroy undiscovered artifacts. The British government is planning a $2.4 billion investment for the country’s A303 road, hoping to upgrade it into a “high quality, high performing route” that will improve trips for millions of people, according to the Department for Transport’s statement on the project. Part of the upgrades include a tunnel passing beneath the famous site. Officials say the tunnel would slash congestion and bolster the local economy. Related: Archaeologists reveal fresh details about 4,500-year-old “New Stonehenge” English Heritage , the charity managing more than 400 historic sites, backs the tunnel. UNESCO , which in 1986 designated Stonehenge as a World Heritage Site, say they could get behind the idea, but have not yet viewed final plans. Historian Tom Holland fears a tunnel could destroy the key historical site. He told CNN, “Recent finds show this place is the birthplace of Britain, and its origins go back to the resettlement of this island after the Ice Age. It staggers belief that we can inject enormous quantities of concrete to build a tunnel that will last at best 100 years and therefore decimate a landscape that has lasted for millennia.” Local chamber of commerce president and Amesbury Museum chairman Andy Rhind-Tutt is also against the tunnel, saying it won’t even really improve traffic and will “put a time bomb of irreversible destruction on one of the world’s greatest untouched landscapes.” The public can comment on the tunnel plan until March 5, and the government plans to announce the preferred route later in 2017. Construction could start in 2020, according to a Highways England spokesperson, and could be completed in four years. Via CNN Images via Good Free Photos and Pixabay

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