Scientists discover cheap method to identify "lost" 99% of ocean microplastics

December 1, 2017 by  
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The world’s oceans are awash with hazardous microplastics that are largely invisible to the naked eye. These tiny plastic fragments, which are less than 5 millimeters in diameter and originate from the breakdown of synthetic clothing fibers, polyester from disposable bags and bottles, and so-called “microbeads” from facial scrubs and other exfoliants, mostly go undetected, according to scientists. In fact, previous surveys suggest only 1 percent of marine plastic waste is identifiable. To suss out the “missing” 99 percent, researchers from the University of Warwick in England decided to shine a light on the problem—quite literally—by using fluorescent dyes. Gabriel Erni-Cassola and Joseph A. Christie-Oleza from Warwick’s School of Life Sciences, who spearheaded the research, claim that the new technique can detect microplastics as small as 20 micrometers—about the width of a single human hair. Because the dye they created binds only to plastic, the “tagged” microplastics show up easily among other natural materials when viewed under a fluorescence microscope. Related: Is synthetic clothing causing “microplastic” pollution in our oceans? Testing the method on samples of surface sea water and beach sand from the coast around Plymouth, the scientists said they were able to extract a far greater number of microplastics than they would have with traditional methods. “Using this method, a huge series of samples can be viewed and analysed very quickly, to obtain large amounts of data on the quantities of small microplastics in seawater or, effectively, in any environmental sample,” said Erni-Cassola in a statement.”Current methods used to assess the amount of microplastics mostly consist in manually picking the microplastics out of samples one by one—demonstrating the great improvement of our method.” Meanwhile, the team at Warwick discovered that the largest quantity of microplastics less than 1 mm in diameter was polypropylene, the ubiquitous polymer found in plastic bags and takeout containers. This finding proves that “our consumer habits are directly affecting the oceans,” the scientists said. Related: Which personal-care brands are still polluting the oceans with microbeads? The research is still in its early days, Christie-Oleza insisted, but it’s a beginning. “Have we found the lost 99 percent of missing plastic in surface oceans?” he said. “Obviously this method needs to be implemented in future scientific surveys to confirm our preliminary findings. It is important to understand how plastic waste behaves in the environment to correctly assess future policies.” + University of Warwick Top image by by Gaetano Cessati on Unsplash

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Scientists discover cheap method to identify "lost" 99% of ocean microplastics

Green-roofed Kew Gardens Hill Library lures patrons indoors with a lifted facade

December 1, 2017 by  
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A branch library in New York City is luring the community indoors with a clever facade that lifts up at the corner to reveal glimpses of the happenings inside. Local firm Work Architecture Company recently announced the long-awaited opening of the Kew Gardens Hill Library, a key institution in the diverse Queens neighborhood. The renovation and expansion project is filled with natural light and topped with a large green roof. The new 10,000-square-foot Kew Gardens Hill Library is a renovation and 3,000-square-foot expansion of the 1966 Lindsey Library. Custom glass fiber-reinforced concrete panels that clad the facade are molded into a rippled pattern of vertical folds. The curtain-like panels appear to be lifted up on the north corner of the building, where large exterior windows let in ample amounts of natural light and beckon passersby indoors. The concrete is exposed indoors and reflects indirect light from the south- and east-facing clerestory windows . “Not only expressive and functional but also structural, this concrete band acts as a 200-foot-long beam to support the green roof without interrupting the open interior,” write the architects. “Two columns are the only supports for this beam.” Related: This adorable red ‘train’ carts books around the New York Public Library “The new façade is a physical and metaphoric lifting up of the library’s exterior walls in order to broadcast the activities of the library to the outside.” From the glazed corner, the angular facade begins its descent to provide privacy at the staff and book drop areas behind before tilting upwards to form a second, smaller peak at the children’s corner for “child-sized views” to the south. The facade also dips down on the north side for privacy in the teen study area. The library opened to the public on September 6. + Work Architecture Company Images by Bruce Damonte

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Green-roofed Kew Gardens Hill Library lures patrons indoors with a lifted facade

First newly-developed chocolate in 80 years is made from Ruby cocoa beans

September 13, 2017 by  
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Chocolate aficionados rejoice! There’s a new version of your favorite velvety treat, and it’s ruby red in color. Made from the Ruby cocoa bean, the newly-invented variety of chocolate is the first to be developed in 80 years — since white chocolate was introduced to the world. And though we haven’t tried it ourselves, apparently it has a fruity and slightly sour flavor. The new chocolate was recently unveiled in Shanghai, China by Swiss chocolate producer Barry Callebaut . MNN reports the company spent 13 years developing the treat and describes it as a “tension between berry-fruitiness and luscious smoothness.” It’s “an intense sensorial delight,” says the company. Part of the chocolate’s appeal is its unique color, a result of the Ruby cocoa bean’s pigment. The product is all natural and is made using an “innovative process” that unlocks the bean’s unique flavor and color. Barry Callebaut says no berries, berry flavor or any color is added to the chocolate. Related: HOW TO: Make delicious, raw chocolate pudding from avocados! This is the #rubychocolate that everyone is on about. Taste is like white choc w/ berry fruits – but all from bean… pic.twitter.com/NqGs90Lmda — Andrew Baker (@ccAndrewBaker) September 5, 2017 Unfortunately, it will be at least six months until you can try the ruby chocolate for yourself since Callebaut only makes the chocolate, and not the consumer products that would go with it. Raphael Warmth wrote on the company’s Facebook page : “So far you cannot buy the ruby chocolate. This very much depends on our customers when ruby chocolate will be available … as we are a B2B company and selling ruby chocolate to food manufacturers. Usually, it takes from 6 up to 18 months until an innovation from our side hits the retail shelves.” Judging by the gleeful reactions of people taste-testing the ruby chocolate in the video below, it will be worth the wait. + Barry Callebaut Via MNN Images via  Barry Callebaut

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First newly-developed chocolate in 80 years is made from Ruby cocoa beans

How big data and behavioral science boost energy efficiency

July 31, 2017 by  
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The vast majority of people are willing to do the right thing if given the chance, especially when it comes to preserving the planet for future generations. The challenge is empowering people with the tools and knowledge to make better purchasing decisions for energy-efficient products. Figuring out how to engage the consumer market, which spends $1 billion on energy-consuming products per year in the U.S. alone, is where Enervee comes in. 

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How big data and behavioral science boost energy efficiency

Zika found in US mosquitoes for the first time

September 2, 2016 by  
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For the first time in the continental United States, researchers have confirmed positive tests for Zika virus in mosquitoes trapped near Miami. Just weeks after the Centers for Disease Control issued a historic warning for a 1.5-square-mile neighborhood in northern Miami, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced Thursday that the three mosquito samples that tested positive for Zika were from that affected area. Health officials had already determined that at least five of Florida’s human cases of Zika had been contracted locally, so finding the Zika-positive mosquitoes comes as no surprise. Embed from Getty Images Since the CDC health alert went into effect, Miami-Dade County officials have been working to control local mosquito populations in an effort to reduce the risks of Zika. The virus is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito as well as through sexual contact and most infected patients feel only minor flu-like symptoms. However, contracting Zika virus during pregnancy can lead to microcephaly, a severe birth defect that results in children needing lifelong care. Women who may become pregnant in the near future, and their partners, are also urged to take extra precautions when living or traveling in Zika hotspots. Related: South Carolina kills millions of bees while spraying for Zika mosquitoes Of the three Zika-positive mosquitoes, officials said that one came from traps at the botanical garden. The locations of the other two positive samples were not revealed. It is also not known to the public when any of the Zika-positive mosquitoes were trapped. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said 16 other mosquito traps in the county tested negative and tests on other samples are ongoing. Confirming Zika-positive mosquitoes and knowing the locations where they were trapped will help local officials focus mosquito control efforts. Mosquitoes travel just a small radius—not more than 150 meters—during their short lifespans, so the positive tests allow officials to create a detailed map of Zika risks. Although eradicating the mosquitoes that carry the virus is highly unlikely, officials are hopeful that the testing and control measures, along with the public health alerts, will keep Zika cases to a minimum. Via CNN Images via Pixabay and CDC

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Zika found in US mosquitoes for the first time

Top 16 Most Searched For Materials For Recycling

January 6, 2016 by  
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Lets face it – recycling works best only if you can find an outlet that will take your material.  Without that outlet, it’s up to you – the consumer – to find the proper place to dispose of the material. This isn’t always the easiest or most…

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Top 16 Most Searched For Materials For Recycling

The Tesla Model S P85D just broke Consumer Reports’ scoring system by earning more points than they give

August 27, 2015 by  
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The Tesla Model S P85D hit the market last December and Consumer Reports did what they do best; they evaluated the heck out of it. The electric luxury car performed so well in nearly every test that is somehow managed to rack up 103 points in a system that doesn’t go past 100. Essentially, the P85D is the best performing and most energy efficient car Consumer Reports has ever tested – so much so that the test team had to overhaul the scoring system just to make sense of the car’s amazing rating. Read the rest of The Tesla Model S P85D just broke Consumer Reports’ scoring system by earning more points than they give

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The Tesla Model S P85D just broke Consumer Reports’ scoring system by earning more points than they give

400 consumer goods companies commit to cut food waste in half

July 15, 2015 by  
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A total of 400 corporate members of the Consumer Goods Forum have committed to a sustainability program that includes halving food waste by 2025.

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400 consumer goods companies commit to cut food waste in half

How Unilever is creating a web of partnerships

July 14, 2015 by  
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Chief Supply Chain Officer Pier Luigi Sigismondi tells how the consumer giant has worked with Nestle, Danone and Nike to effect positive change across its supply chain.

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How Unilever is creating a web of partnerships

Mercedes-Benz unveils self-driving, hydrogen-powered F 015 Luxury in Motion vehicle at CES

January 7, 2015 by  
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Mercedes-Benz just unveiled its vision of the future of the automobile at

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Mercedes-Benz unveils self-driving, hydrogen-powered F 015 Luxury in Motion vehicle at CES

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