With California Design Den bedding your conscience can rest easy

January 27, 2022 by  
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In our ever-consuming world, sometimes we fail to pause and evaluate the impact of everyday necessities like linens. But textiles are a massive contributor to landfill  waste  and water pollution, so it’s important to consider the bedding you buy.  Proudly Californian brand California Design Den produces a line of bedding that will allow you (and your conscience) to sleep well at night. The lineup of sheets, duvets, towels, mattress covers, blankets and more is developed with sustainability in mind. Related: Modern Dane offers sustainable bedding for peace of mind while you sleep Sheet sets and individual flat or fitted sheets are made from non-toxic and chemical-free  natural materials  such as cotton and bamboo. To ensure a healthy and safe product, materials are independently tested to verify Standard 100 Oeko-Tex certification. This certification means they are free of over 300 commonly-found chemicals. The organic cotton is also GOTS certified. Since the bedding uses all-natural materials, they are even biodegradable at the end of their usable life. However, the goal is to keep them out of landfills as long as possible with a durable, quality design. Each product is crafted in a green-certified facility in India by experienced artisans.  The bedding is designed at the headquarters in California, a state widely known for its dedication to the  environment . The items are then produced in India and packaged in zero-plastic, paper-based boxes for shipment. The plant-based product and packaging materials mean California Design Den bedding doesn’t contribute to water pollution. “At California Design Den, ensuring our brand is sustainable and eco-friendly is our main priority,” said Deepak Mehrotra, Founder of California Design Den. “From production to packaging, we always want to ensure that what we’re putting out into the world is doing more good than harm. This is why we use natural fibers to produce our bedding, rather than microfiber which is known to cause  pollution . Our non-toxic and chemical-free biodegradable bedding is sourced from the highest-quality, earth-grown materials and crafted by skilled artisans in our certified green facility. Our packaging is also biodegradable and contains zero plastics to help prevent polluted waterways and oceans.” + California Design Den Images via California Design Den

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With California Design Den bedding your conscience can rest easy

ExxonMobil plays dirty to deny role in the climate crisis

January 19, 2022 by  
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ExxonMobil has turned to intimidation in attempts to stop its critics from taking legal action. The giant oil company is trying to use an unusual Texas law to target critics outside the state. Exxon has asked the Texas Supreme Court to allow it to use rule 202 to take on California municipal officials.   The move is in response to these California officials filing lawsuits against Exxon for its role in the climate crisis . Eight California cities and counties have accused the company of misrepresenting evidence to downplay the effects of climate change. The lawsuits claim Exxon even misrepresented evidence even from  its own scientists  about global warming. Related: New environmental racism scorecard calls out ExxonMobil The California lawsuits seek compensation from the company to address damages caused by wildfires , floods and other extreme weather events. Exxon claims that this infringes on its first amendment rights and that it will use rule 202 to demand justice from its accusers. “The potential defendants’ lawfare is aimed at chilling the speech of not just ExxonMobil, but of other prominent members of the Texas energy sector on issues of public debate, in this case, climate change,” the company claimed in its petition. Under rule 202, corporations are allowed to search for incriminating evidence, question individuals under oath and access documents. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has even written to the state’s all-Republican Supreme Court in support of Exxon’s request. Abbott accuses the California litigants of undermining the rights of Texan companies. “When out-of-state officials try to project their power across our border, as respondents have done by broadly targeting the speech of an industry crucial to Texas, they cannot use personal jurisdiction to scamper out of our courts and retreat across state lines,” Abbott wrote. Climate experts say that the move seeks to intimidate those who speak out against ExxonMobil and instill fear in anyone who wants to litigate against it. Via The Guardian Lead image via Mike Mozart

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ExxonMobil plays dirty to deny role in the climate crisis

Polar researchers discover enormous icefish nesting site

January 19, 2022 by  
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They have see-through skulls, transparent blood, and they built 60 million nests beneath the frigid waters of the Antarctic Sea. They’re Jonah’s icefish, and a polar  research  team has just discovered what might be their largest breeding colony in the world. Scientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute in  Germany  were cruising the Antarctic Sea last year on the RV Polarstern with a mission to study ocean currents. They were surveying the seabed below the ship, dragging a camera system the size of a car to transmit photos to the deck, when they discovered the nests.  Related: New study sheds light on Antarctic sea ice mystery “We just saw fish nest after  fish  nest for the whole four hours, and during that time we covered maybe six kilometers (3.7 miles) of the sea floor,” said Autun Purser, a postdoctoral researcher at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven, Germany, as reported by CNN. “I’d never seen anything like it in 15 years of being an ocean scientist. After that dive, we emailed the experts on shore who know about fish like this. They said, yep, this is pretty unique.” Purser is the lead author of a study on the icefish colony published last week in  Current Biology . Icefish adapted to water temperatures as low as 0 degrees Celsius by evolving an anti-freeze protein in their blood that prevents the growth of ice crystals. An average icefish nest contains about 1,500 to 2,000 eggs and is guarded by an adult icefish.  Scientists  suspect these guards are male, but they admit they still have a lot to learn about these unusual creatures. But just because the ginormous icefish colony surprised scientists, it doesn’t mean nobody knew it was there. Weddell  seals , chubby carnivores who can dive down to depths of 2,000 feet, gave the nesting area five stars on the marine mammal review site Kelp, as well as naming it the top attraction on FlipperAdvisor. Scientists’ satellite tracking data confirms that the icefish nesting site is a major draw for Weddell seals. Via HuffPost , CNN Images © Purser et al., doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.12.022.

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Polar researchers discover enormous icefish nesting site

The smart, simple way ecoducts help animals survive

December 30, 2021 by  
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The Swedish Transport Administration recently announced the completion of an  ecoduct over the E6 in Skåne  in southern Sweden. The animal crossing path is the agency’s third in the country. In January, Sweden announced plans to set up several reindeer crossings to help the animals cross the dense network of roads. These bridges and underpasses, also called ecoducts, are being established globally to help animals thrive in regions with dense road networks. United States President Joe Biden has already allocated $350 million of his $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan to building wildlife crossings.  Related: A radical plan for livestock is coming to The Netherlands  In southern California , plans are underway to begin the construction of the world’s largest wildlife crossing bridge in 2022. The bridge will help isolated mountain lions cross thick road networks in the state. These structures will help reduce the high rate of wildlife collisions across the U.S. It is estimated that  about 1 to 2 million crashes  between cars and large wild animals, such as deer, occur every year. These result in over 26,000 injuries, 200 human deaths, and huge losses in terms of property damage and wildlife deaths. The crashes contribute to a reduction in animal populations, including endangered species. “Ten years ago, wildlife bridges were experimental. We didn’t know whether they would work or not. Now they’ve shown they get huge reductions in collisions. In some cases, 85% to 99% reductions,” said Rob Ament, a road ecology expert at Montana State University. “You can design them for many species. Even out in the plains, we’re getting moose crossings in North Dakota.” Today, wildlife bridges are found nearly everywhere in the world. There are organized animal crossing structures on all continents, and more are coming soon. Notable structures globally include the elephant crossing underpass near Mount Kenya in Kenya and The Alligator Alley in Florida, which helps alligators, deer and the endangered Florida panther cross the roads across the Everglades. Other wildlife crossings include the “tunnel of love” in Australia and India’s tiger corridor. All these ecoduct projects provide safe passage for diverse animal species. In Costa Rica, canopy bridges made of thick ropes help sloths and monkeys cross the roads and avoid attacks from dogs. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pixabay

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The smart, simple way ecoducts help animals survive

California sues Walmart for allegedly dumping hazardous waste

December 23, 2021 by  
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The state of California , through its Attorney general, has filed a lawsuit accusing Walmart of allegedly illegally disposing of hazardous waste in landfills across the state. The  42-page document  directly implicates Walmart for dumping 160,000 pounds of hazardous waste each year over the past six years. Among the items that are said to be disposed of by the retailer include insect killer sprays, lithium batteries, aerosol cans and LED bulbs. The giant retailer stands accused of violating California’s environmental laws in its dumping of hazardous waste in landfills that are not equipped to handle such waste. Attorney General Rob Bonta and 12 other California district attorneys are working together over the allegations.  Related: Loophole allows 1M tons of sludge to be dumped on Great Barrier Reef “Walmart’s own audits found that the company is dumping hazardous waste at local landfills at a rate of more than one million items each year. From there, these products may seep into the state’s drinking water as toxic pollutants or into the air as dangerous gases,” Bonta said in a  statement . In defense, Walmart’s spokesperson said the company will defend itself and said the lawsuit is “unjustified,” according to NPR. “We have met with the state numerous times and walked them through our industry-leading hazardous waste compliance programs in an effort to avoid litigation. Instead, they filed this unjustified lawsuit ,” Walmart Spokesperson Randy Hargrove said. “The state is demanding a level of compliance regarding waste disposal from our stores of common household products and other items that goes beyond what is required by law.” This is not the first time that the retail finds itself in hot soup over waste disposal misconduct. In 2010, the company reached a $25 million settlement agreement with California’s Office of the Attorney General for the illegal disposal of dangerous waste . According to the Attorney General’s office, investigations have proven that the illegal waste dumping has continued since then. “ Walmart is a responsible corporate citizen in California and everywhere we operate. We take our obligation to protect the environment seriously and have industry-leading processes in place to comply with local, state, and federal environmental laws,” Hargrove said. Via NPR and CNN Lead image via Unsplash

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California sues Walmart for allegedly dumping hazardous waste

New study provides hope for restoring tropical forests

December 10, 2021 by  
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Tropical forests can grow back naturally and relatively fast, according to a new study. The  study , published in the journal Science, shows that most tropical forests can bounce back in about 20 years if left untouched. This revelation provides the world with hope in efforts to restore troubled forests . The study was conducted by a team of scientists from across the world. Researchers reviewed forest data from three continents in a multidimensional approach. Thanks to high precision modeling, they determined that most tropical forest aspects, including the soil , trees, and living organisms, can be restored to their natural state over time. Related: California fires killed nearly 20 percent of the world’s Sequoias The researchers say these findings prove it is not too late to correct the mistakes that have led to climate change . According to Lourens Poorter, a professor in functional ecology at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and the study’s lead author, the time needed to recover these forests is realistic and practical. The best news? Tropical forests could return to 78% of their old-growth status in 20 years. “That’s good news because the implication is that, 20 years…that’s a realistic time that I can think of, and that my daughter can think of, and that the policymakers can think of,” said Poorter The researchers noted that letting forests regrow is beneficial in many ways. Apart from mitigating deforestation’s side effects, it also helps restore and retain the forest’s original biodiversity. “Compared to planting new trees, it performs way better in terms of biodiversity , climate change mitigation and recovering nutrients,” said Poorter. The scientists looked at data from 77 sites across three continents in tropical zones. Over 2,275 plots of land in the Americas and West Africa were analyzed. Researchers looked at specific areas of the forest to determine the time required for their recovery. In their analysis, the experts found that the soil could recover in 10 years or less. Plant and animal biodiversity could recover in about 60 years. Overall, they found that it would take up to 120 years to recover biomass in some areas. The researchers are now urging policymakers to consider the option of protecting forested areas and allowing deforested lands to rejuvenate. “What we want to advocate is: ‘Please value those secondary forests, and in areas where you can, please let those forests regrow back again naturally,” Poorter said. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pixabay

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New study provides hope for restoring tropical forests

Is your Thanksgiving turkey helping the planet?

November 22, 2021 by  
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Cream Co and PT Ranch are bringing California’s first ‘regenerative’ turkey to plates this year.

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Is your Thanksgiving turkey helping the planet?

Modular design helps UCLA’s Pritzker Hall earn LEED Platinum

November 17, 2021 by  
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There’s no better place to ensure a healthy physical and mental environment than at a university undergraduate program for psychology. So when UCLA received $30 million in funding from the Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation, it used the money to renovate the former Franz Hall into the modern and now complete Pritzker Hall.  Pritzker Hall is an eight-story building for students and staff involved in the psychology program. Originally built in 1967 by notable architect Paul Revere Williams, the structure has recently been updated through a collaboration between CO Architects and Tangram Interiors for a vibrant, modern, efficient design that earned LEED Platinum certification for  energy efficiency  and sustainability. Related: Portland State University’s new hall qualifies for LEED gold The team decided to refurbish the building, saving as many usable parts as possible. However, the new design expanded the lobby for an open feel that funnels in abundant  natural light . Due to the height and location, the building was also upgraded with seismic safety improvements. This was achieved via consultation from the university’s engineering department to develop 40 purpose-built dampers that act as shock absorbers for the above-ground floors. Classrooms, spaces to collaborate and research areas were all modernized for ADA accessibility while keeping elements such as the original structural waffle slab on the second floor and  natural materials  such as damaged marble walls and terrazzo flooring that were worked around instead of destroyed.  Throughout the building, energy-efficient LED lighting supplements study and lecture areas. The team incorporated other thoughtful touches like the addition of drought-tolerant  plants  and interior design elements by Tangram, such as student-focused furniture selections. Many of the primary spaces were designed with a modular and flexible design to suit the need for growth and change as the program expands.   “UCLA Psychology students and faculty alike are humbled by the thoughtfully designed Pritzker Hall renovation project,” said Victoria Sork, Dean of Life Sciences. “CO Architects together with Tangram, were able to honor the building’s history while providing the needed cutting-edge facelift. From the collaborative spaces throughout to the newage research labs, the innovative furniture and overall execution of design gives our program renewed confidence as one of the top psychology departments in the United States.” According to a press release, “Pritzker Hall was awarded the Westside Urban Forum Merit Award in the public /institutional category. The project was recognized for its emphasis on collaboration between students and faculty, while elevating the program’s candor and highly sought after psychology programs.” + Tangram Interiors Images via Tangram Interiors

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Modular design helps UCLA’s Pritzker Hall earn LEED Platinum

Is Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade destroying the environment?

November 17, 2021 by  
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Thanksgiving is a day full of family and national traditions. The turkey goes into the oven, family and friends gather and the football lineup is noted. And on televisions across the country, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade streams on the TV. An event that large takes copious planning and coordination, but while it brings an uplifting spirit to the holiday , does it do the same for the planet? Helium Balloons The massive balloons that adorn the parade are a major undertaking. They require nearly 100 handlers each to keep them under control, and they’re not part of the parade during windy days. While they need to be controlled, the balloons are kept afloat by a massive amount of helium. Helium is a completely non-renewable resource, so the natural supply is always on decline. In fact, some estimates say we’ll run out in the next 50 years. During a helium shortage, the parade was put on hold during World War II, missing 1942 to 1944.  Related: Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s to be fur-free by 2021 Recognizing helium is a limited resource, special consideration is given to the gas at the end of each parade. Yet, it’s questionable whether the organizer’s efforts to recapture and recycle the helium after the event is effective. Having said that, even at an extraordinary price tag, the amount of helium used equates to a small percentage of usage for a single day in the country.  As for the material of the balloons themselves, they’ve received an environmental upgrade from the original rubber to a polyurethane fabric that can be upcycled in a variety of ways. However, it’s unclear if this actually happens when a balloon is retired.  Of course, durability is an important factor too. As there are one or two new character balloons added each year, some of them have been in service for decades with no aspirations for retirement.  Environmental awareness has increased over the years and is witnessed in changes throughout the history of the event. For example, balloons used to be released into the air at the end of the parade — a practice that was squashed in the 1930s with consideration for the environment , pilots and the public.  The balloons weren’t always part of the parade. In fact, early on, live animals were borrowed from the local zoo to participate in the festivities. Lions, tigers, bears… Oh my! Really though, speaking strictly from an environmental standpoint, live animals were less impactful than balloons. Yet, they were uninvited from the party after a few years, likely due to safety concerns. Scared children, clean up and inconvenience to others in the parade were other likely contributors in the decision.   Transportation There’s an unavoidable consequence of gathering large groups of people together. After all, just transporting three million people into the area will leave a carbon footprint . Then there’s the trucks required to haul the floats. Fortunately, the warehouse where the floats are built is a short distance from the parade route, so transport emissions remain low there. Not only that, but the location Moonachie, New Jersey was specifically chosen in 2011 and has housed the floats and supplies for the past ten years in the state-of-the-art and LEED-certified facility. Interestingly, this location adds a restriction to the float design. As part of the route into New York City, the floats must be transported through the Lincoln Tunnel. Inasmuch, floats must be no larger than 8.5 feet wide. However, many floats are designed to collapse in order to fit the restriction.  To counterbalance the big trucks in the parade , there are plenty who travel pedestrian style, leaving zero-impact in their wake. For example, there are only twelve bands chosen for the honor each year, all of which walk the entire route.   Macy’s sustainability practices It’s no surprise the organization continues to evolve the parade in alignment with the needs of the planet. Reducing waste and being energy-efficient is engrained in the company mission. The transition has been gradual, but the updates are continual. For example, the company relies on solar energy for many stores and has upgraded to energy-efficient LED lighting throughout most locations.  In the store and through the mail, Macy’s also pays attention to waste , using 100% recycled paper for their shopping bags and minimizing packing materials in the standardized packing cartons that improve transport efficiency, using less trucks and ensuring trucks are full before heading out. Marketing materials are also nearly 100% recycled, and the company is moving to e-bills to cut back paper consumption.  To put it simply While the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is unquestionably integrated into the very fabric of the holiday, no event that large can be completely sustainable.  Overall, considering the number of people involved, the overall impact is miniscule. If you add in the efforts at a corporate level to streamline everyday operations, Macy’s is a company to put on the yes list for eco-conscious shopping. Knowing the effort it puts into maintaining low transport emissions, energy reduction and plastic-free packaging, Macy’s is clearly balancing business with the needs of the environment.  Via Better Homes & Gardens and Earth 911 Images via Unsplash

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Is Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade destroying the environment?

Renewables can power the world, according to new study

November 15, 2021 by  
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A recent study published in  Nature Communications  has found that renewables can meet most of the world’s energy needs. According to the authors, even the most industrialized countries that need a heavy power supply can rely on renewable energy, specifically wind and solar.   The study was led by researchers from the University of California, Irvine, to address concerns raised by critiques of renewable energy. As the world struggles to move away from fossil fuels , those opposed to the change have argued that renewables cannot reliably meet the energy needs of industrialized nations. Related: Solar program has customers saving money from renewable energy In response, the researchers behind the study analyzed the hourly electricity needs of 42 developed countries over the past 39 years. They found that wind and solar power could cover up to 80% of the energy needs of most developed countries without the need for heavy storage. The study further found that wind and solar could cover 72-91% of energy needs in most of the countries studied. With a boost of 12-hour battery storage, wind and solar could meet 83-94% of power needs in most countries. “Wind and solar could meet more than 80 percent of demand in many places without crazy amounts of storage or excess generating capacity, which is the critical point,” said Steve Davis, UCI professor of Earth system science. “But depending on the country, there may be many multi-day periods throughout the year when some demand will need to be met by energy storage and other non-fossil energy sources in a zero-carbon future.”  Researchers collaborated with experts from China’s Tsinghua University, the Carnegie Institution for Science , and Caltech. Although the authors agree that it will not be possible to phase out fossil fuels in a flash, they say that it can be done with consistent efforts from all stakeholders. “Historic data show that countries that are farther from the equator can occasionally experience periods called ‘dark doldrums’ during which there is very limited solar and wind power availability,” said lead author Dan Tong, assistant professor of Earth system science at Tsinghua University.  The scientists gave an example of a recent situation in Germany that left the country without solar for two weeks. In reference to such situations, they say that only small countries with high power demands such as Germany may be unable to meter their energy needs. “It comes down to the difference between the difficult and the impossible. It will be hard to completely eliminate fossil fuels from our power generation mix, but we can achieve that goal when technologies , economics and socio-political will are aligned,” said Davis. Via Newswise Lead image via Pexels

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Renewables can power the world, according to new study

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