Now is a great time to optimize energy in buildings. You’d think.

May 8, 2020 by  
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Now is a great time to optimize energy in buildings. You’d think. Sarah Golden Fri, 05/08/2020 – 00:43 Despite being mostly empty, commercial real estate energy bills are mostly unchanged.  Commercial buildings in the United Kingdom have reduced energy consumption only by 16 percent on average during the pandemic, according to analysis from Carbon Intelligence . The worst-performing buildings are only achieving a 3 percent reduction, according to the analysis. Anecdotal evidence suggests similar numbers in the United States.  What a waste of time and money.  With occupancy so low and energy bills so high, there may never have been a more persuasive argument — or a better opportunity — to optimize buildings. You’d think.  The (missed) opportunity for capital upgrades  With buildings empty, service providers hungry for work and capital cheap, it seems a great time to bring buildings into the 21st century.  But as we’re still grasping the extent of the economic fallout, commercial real estate owners are cautious. “The financial smoke will have to clear before many people will put project capital at risk there,” explained Steve Gossett Jr., operating partner at Generate Capital, via email. “Most landlords are likely to husband cash rather than invest in their assets right now because they aren’t sure how functional the capital markets will be for real estate in the near future or how stable their tenants are.” In the short term, landlords are worried struggling companies will renegotiate leases or shift to a work-from-home model, requiring less office space writ large. The result: Commercial office spaces could become stranded assets, subject to write-downs and operating losses.  Being able to have this time to find these deeper problems and being able to address them will have long-term savings, even when the building becomes occupied again.   “In the past, before COVID, we’d say, ‘Oh, if you do these improvements you can increase your rental rates and you can have higher-quality tenants,’” said Marta Schantz, senior vice president of the Urban Land Institute’s Greenprint, an alliance of real estate owners and investors. “But now that case sounds tone-deaf to the market. If folks are worried about people even being able to pay their rent, they’re less focused on increasing rental rates and more on just getting rent.” To say the least, this is a missed opportunity. About half of all buildings were built before 1980 , and many are old, dumb and wasteful. The U.S. building stock accounts for about 40 percent of the emissions. And the technology exists to change that; buildings could be optimized and transformed to be a resource for the electric grid. Buildings could be cheaper to run, provide healthier spaces and become more resilient. What building owners can do now: tighten operations  As occupancy drops close to zero, some building operators have been surprised at how little change there has been in their energy consumption.  “In general, some clients probably have been surprised to find that parasitic loads were higher than expected,” said Kyle Goehring, executive vice president of clean energy solutions at JLL, in an email.  Simply reviewing systems and buildings presets can save energy and money, according to Schantz.  For example, facility managers could reduce the run time of HVAC systems (responsible for about 40 percent of energy consumption), turn off lights in unoccupied spaces (lighting is responsible for 20 percent of energy use) or unplug appliances that aren’t needed (which account for about 33 percent of buildings’ energy use). For more specific ideas, check out Schantz’s blog or GreenBiz’s coverage . Investment in critical infrastructure focused on digitization and efficiency will be absolutely key for economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building resilience for the future. These ideas, which are of course important, sound like no-brainers. As the world is turned upside down, I’m craving a cataclysmic change, not energy efficiency 101.  But according to Schantz, the basics are revolutionary when facility managers never had time to examine operations in the before-time.  “I very much hope that as folks go through their buildings they will also find some red flags that they didn’t know existed,” she said. “Being able to have this time to find these deeper problems and being able to address them will have long-term savings, even when the building becomes occupied again.” The COVID-19 conundrum and financial solutions As people make sense of these crazy times, I often hear big ideas about how we could transform the future. As we emerge from this crisis, what type of world do we want to create? Simultaneously, it seems we’re also paralyzed by constantly constricting opportunities. The vanishing jobs, capital and resources are shifting mindsets to survival, not reinvention.  The good news is that the same financial mechanisms that allow building owners to upgrade without upfront costs are the same measures that would support broader economic development. This is especially true if the private sector partners with federal dollars to stretch capital further.  “Investment in critical infrastructure focused on digitization and efficiency will be absolutely key for economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building resilience for the future,” wrote Kevin Self, senior vice president of strategy, business development and government relations at Schneider Electric, in an email.  Schneider Electric is one service organization providing financing structures to move along projects without upfront capital. These include energy-as-a-service and energy savings performance contracting.  “Not only does digitization support resilience and sustainability, it saves on cost,” wrote Self.  Schneider Electric is not the only organization offering financial solutions for energy upgrades. Service providers and startups have emerged in this space over the last 10 years, vying for companies’ potential energy savings. Other X-as-a-service organizations include Carbon Lighthouse , Sparkfund , Redaptive , Parity , Measurabl and Metrus .  While many of these service providers are likely working hard to navigate these turbulent months, the role they play will be more important than ever as we rebuild our future. This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s newsletter Energy Weekly, running Thursdays. Subscribe  here . Pull Quote Being able to have this time to find these deeper problems and being able to address them will have long-term savings, even when the building becomes occupied again. Investment in critical infrastructure focused on digitization and efficiency will be absolutely key for economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building resilience for the future. Topics Energy & Climate Buildings COVID-19 Energy Efficiency COVID-19 Featured Column Power Points Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Now is a great time to optimize energy in buildings. You’d think.

PepsiCo CSO: We can’t ‘lose sight’ of the long-term crisis

April 20, 2020 by  
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PepsiCo CSO: We can’t ‘lose sight’ of the long-term crisis Heather Clancy Mon, 04/20/2020 – 02:00 With less than a year under his belt as PepsiCo’s first chief sustainability officer, long-term marketing and brand management executive Simon Lowden already had plenty of to-dos on his daily agenda when the coronavirus outbreak became a pandemic. While the focal point of his weekly check-ins with PepsiCo chairman and CEO Ramon Laguarta now includes short-term, urgent action items related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lowden says his team is more energized than ever about its mission to tackle the longer-term crisis — mitigating climate change. Its latest commitment: signing the United Nations Global Compact Business Ambition for 1.5 Degrees C pledge , based on science-based targets. “Ramon is an incredible leader, very close to this agenda. I spend two hours a week with him on sustainability right now,” Lowden told GreenBiz. “Could you imagine that? It’s a $68 billion business. His operational time is clearly under pressure, and he still spends an hour and a half or so with me a week talking about pledges we’re getting into, commitments we’re making, partnerships with our customers, with peer industries as well as ensuring and supporting as we develop our go forward strategy and imperative plans around sustainability.” We caught up with Lowden about some of those priorities in an interview last week. Below is a transcription of that discussion, edited for length and clarity. Heather Clancy: How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the immediate focus of PepsiCo’s sustainability team?   Simon Lowden: I’m really proud of what we’re doing with supply and demand, and we’re really proud of our frontline associates. We’re making sure that shelves are stocked and people can get all they need. For PepsiCo as a business, that’s our most important thing. I think what we’ve done is — when we start thinking about sustainability, then you orient towards support, right? — you think about communities.  We’re donating through our foundation $45 million to bring food to communities, 50 million meals to at risk populations. We’re really leaning in quite hard to making sure we play a significant role in providing people with resources that they can’t get. So that’s one thing we’re doing. We’re also making sure that we do our best with our brands.  I find myself being more inspired and probably more ambitious as we try and think about how we can operationalize sustainability across PepsiCo to new levels as we come through this. I think you’d agree PepsiCo is known for entertainment and has become quite [an] expert at that over the years — it brings people together, brings community together, brings groups of friends together. That’s why our brand Pepsi partnered with Global Citizen supporting the “Together at Home” concert on April 18 …  There would be two examples where I think as a company and as a sustainability team we’re trying to make sure we’re supporting the communities within which we operate.  We’re doing that whilst we ensure we don’t let short-term — we hope short-term, probably medium-term — issues affect the longer-term ambition of our sustainability strategy. I would suggest at the moment we’re really bringing up our efforts on personal and community health, ensuring that we spend this time to understand what, how people are reacting to things, what it will mean from their point of view around broader sustainability agenda and ensuring that we don’t confuse short-term requirements with fighting our longer-term ambitions.  Clancy: What happens to the work you had planned during this period when you are focused on that short term?  Lowden : The work continues. You know very well this is such a rapid changing space that we’re actually always evaluating, reevaluating our posture, our strategies, our intent, what our key message should be. We’re doing that work right now …  How do we ensure we build a leadership posture and get results in the right place for a future? Particularly when climate, I believe, is going to be an ever more critical thing to address as we come through this virus pandemic. Just look at what’s happening. Right now, if you’re in China, you’re seeing skylines you didn’t know existed. If you’re in India, you’re enjoying smoke-free cities in Delhi and Mumbai, and seeing the Himalayas for the first time in years. If you’re in Italy, you’re seeing clean canals in Venice. We’ll start seeing more and more of these sort of improvements driven through the lack of emission activity from mankind, and that’s something that’s going to have a demonstrative effect on what impact we can have. When you step back and say you know what? Climate change has been worsening. Our food system, which is under pressure right now in every fashion than it’s been before — it needs a transformation. There’s a lot of work to be done. We at PepsiCo believe we should be taking a leadership role in this. How can we ensure that what we grow and what we make and the products we produce, how can we ensure that’s doing the best thing for the planet?  I find myself being more inspired and probably more ambitious as we try and think about how we can operationalize sustainability across PepsiCo to new levels as we come through this. Maybe one big manifestation of that is that we just signed the United Nations Global Compact Business Ambition for 1.5 Degrees C pledge, which is based on science-based targets. We’re setting our emissions reduction target across our entire value chain, so that’s inclusive of Scope 3 as well as Scope 1 and 2, to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above the pre-industrial level. We’re developing alongside this a longer-term strategy to ensure that we can get to net zero emissions by 2050. That ambition is what we’re working against now. And you’ll hear more about how we’re going to do that over the coming months. Clancy: Why was that important for you to do? Lowden: I think what we talk about now and what we do now shouldn’t deflect from what’s critical in 10 to 15 years’ time. This is what Earth Day is all about. We want to make sure that in years to come we have a planet that’s able to be lived in and enjoyed by generations and generations to come. I think we have a big role in that. I think if you stand back and look at PepsiCo’s business, we have probably three areas where we can certainly play our part in the climate action plans. One is around our agricultural footprint. We spend significant dollars every year on crops — on corn, potatoes, wheat, oranges, etc. And the agricultural supply chain, the agricultural industry has a massive opportunity to be a positive effect on what’s happening with climate change. And we’re doing a lot of work. We work with tens of thousands of farmers around the world, many of them smallholders. We’re making sure we bring to them through what we’re calling demonstration farms, new capability, new technology, new innovation that’s going to enable them to increase yield as well as decrease the consumption of, say, water per hectare they sow. By the same token, not just doing that but ensuring that the pesticides they use and the fertilizers they use are the right amounts at the right time of the growing season. And ensuring when they leave that field fallow it’s a carbon sink. That’s a big responsibility we have. Not only is it ensuring the farmers are economically, fiscally trained the right way and healthy, but the land we leave behind and the land that’s being used is healthier than it would have been without our expertise and is able to play its role in the climate change dynamic. So that’s one great example. Another great example is our manufacturing side. We have 100-something manufacturing sites around the world. In the U.S. we said we’re going to move to 100 percent renewable electricity across the U.S. businesses. Now the U.S., I think, uses just under 50 percent of our global electricity around PepsiCo. We’ve already got similar efforts underway in Mexico and in Europe. … We have bottling partnerships. We have packaging supplies. We have customers. How can we actually act as a catalyst? I think for PepsiCo it’s not just about all operations but it’s about how we then leverage the partnerships we have. We have bottling partnerships. We have packaging supplies. We have customers. How can we actually act as a catalyst? I’m sure you’ll have heard PepsiCo’s strategy about being “faster, stronger, better”  — faster around growth, stronger about the muscles we build and better about ensuring we do those things in a way that’s going to leave the planet in a better place than we found it. That’s going to become an operational mandate for PepsiCo. Clancy: I’ve been reading distressing stories about food going to waste because of the restaurant crisis. Have you changed your production help farmers during this particular time?   Lowden: We’re doing our best by the people we source from. I would say that we are operationally moving ahead as effectively as we can across most of the geographies around the world. I would say that our relationships with our suppliers, including our farmers, are as strong as ever. Of course, we take all precautions to ensure that across the full supply chain — whether it be from farmers or out to customers — that we’re paranoid about the continuous safety of our products and making sure our manufacturing locations practice social distancing, practice deep cleaning where appropriate, adhering to all of the local and new federal guidelines. We feel pretty good about that. We are looking at the supply chain from a food security standpoint. We put in some measures to control, to ensure that we control the spread of the virus, which could of course lead to massive disruption of supplies. If that were to happen, then the holding pattern would equally be changed. I guess we’re taking pretty strong action. We’ve worked with the world leaders, a number of food security and humanitarian organizations to ensure we’re lending our voice to keep trade flowing and particularly in places like Europe where we’ve got cross-border trading challenges and multi-country trading challenges. … Clancy: But how would you say this crisis has affected your relationships with your collaborators and partners? Lowden: I’d say that from an action point of view it’s a reinforcer, maybe an accelerator. I’d also say for the longer-term initiatives — we’re working with our competitors and our peer groups and industrial partners to find alternative packaging solutions, education platforms for consumers around recycling, new material development for our products. I think what people are realizing in the face of this is whatever change we’re going to make in the food and beverage category when it comes to sustainability more than ever requires a system change, more than ever requires partnership, and we have to move together. So I’d say that actually it’s a reinforcer of the need for organizations to work together.  Clancy: COVID-19 has put a real strain on municipal recycling programs around the world. How has this affected your packaging commitments and strategy? Lowden: It hasn’t affected our medium-term ambitions. We still have our goals to reduce virgin plastic content by 35 percent across beverages. We still have goals to ensure our packaging is 100 percent recyclable, compostable, biodegradable. We’re pledging millions and millions of dollars — more than $51 million between July 2018 and July 2019 — to boost recycling rates, a big endeavor around the U.S. in recycling partnerships. In no way, shape or form are we stepping back from those ambitions. Our SodaStream business still grows healthily, and we know that if that grows well that we’ll be able to effectively replace nearly 70 billion bottles from the marketplace over the next few years. None of those targets from our point of view are affected. Will there be short-term pressures? Maybe. I’m not sure we know yet to be honest with you. It’s certainly putting a strain on some programs, but we look at those as opportunities. We’re all safe harboring at home. This gives us the chance to think about our own practices, right? They say it takes what, four weeks to develop new muscles? I have really relaunched my own recycling efforts. Right? I’ve relearned what can and can’t be. I’ve relearned what can and can’t go into certain different trashcans and making sure that I’m doing my part 100 percent as I live at home and use more food materials. I think we have a big opportunity to ensure that we use this chance to educate people as they’re sheltering in place. And so that’s what we’re going to start doing.  Clancy: How does PepsiCo plan to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day given the crisis? Has your strategy changed? How has it changed? Lowden: Well, we’re not doing it face to face. So look. It’s really important to us. It’s a really important milestone for the planet and for us as a company. Of course, this virus has impacted it, like it’s impacted any other event. However, I think the energy behind the scenes is as high as ever. Actually it’s quite motivating to see a number of people, organizations, the broader world community to be very energetic still behind Earth Day. We want to make sure that we play our role in coming together as part of a global community and making sure that we can use this platform for positive change. …  My job is to make sure we don’t lose sight of the sustainability agenda and climate change we’re facing. We’re going to have recycling rallies and ensure that people are spending time with their kids at home. I should mention I’ve got two kids [in their 20s]. They’ve never been happier with the job I’m doing now. They think it’s the best thing I’ve done at PepsiCo, quite honestly. They’re a massive push for me, and I’m sure many people at home have got their kids and their families who want to be part of a movement around doing something good for the planet.  We’re also taking this moment to be a bit more reflective and give our employees a chance to think about collective responsibility. Today we’re facing disruption — everybody’s lives, personal, business lives are disrupted. It’s not business as usual. It gives us a chance to think about our actions and what they’re going to impact tomorrow. So we’re going to take this chance to talk to and educate people again and our employees again that protecting our planet and the well-being of each of us will require all of us to do our part. Clancy: What do you feel your most important priority is as a chief sustainability officer in this time? Lowden: I think my most important thing I can do in my role is to ensure that whilst we’re in this sort of short-term operational stress, which our frontline teams and our operation units are dealing with, that I ensure I hold the torch and ensure the sustainability agenda including the climate change agenda is driven forward through PepsiCo and that we don’t let what’s happening now deflect from what must be our longer-term leadership in this space. So that’s what I think my role is. Climate change, it’s not getting any better. I have to make sure that even as we operate business in the new reality — or the short-term reality — my job is to make sure we don’t lose sight of the sustainability agenda and climate change we’re facing. Pull Quote I find myself being more inspired and probably more ambitious as we try and think about how we can operationalize sustainability across PepsiCo to new levels as we come through this. We have bottling partnerships. We have packaging supplies. We have customers. How can we actually act as a catalyst? My job is to make sure we don’t lose sight of the sustainability agenda and climate change we’re facing. Topics Food Systems Food & Agriculture Earth Day Climate Strategy Collective Insight The GreenBiz Interview Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Simon Lowden, chief sustainability officer, PepsiCo PepsiCo Close Authorship

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PepsiCo CSO: We can’t ‘lose sight’ of the long-term crisis

What it will take for China to rebuild global supply chain resilience after COVID-19

April 3, 2020 by  
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People are returning to work and their daily lives but there is a lot companies must do to resume their normal productions and respond to the economic effects of the crisis.

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What it will take for China to rebuild global supply chain resilience after COVID-19

Coronavirus, cheap natural gas and building electrification

April 3, 2020 by  
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Will the spectacular drop in natural gas prices throttle the movement to electrify buildings? What’s driving the coming collision.

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Coronavirus, cheap natural gas and building electrification

How companies — from automotive to apparel — can transform waste into resources

April 3, 2020 by  
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One key is to design out waste in the first place.

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How companies — from automotive to apparel — can transform waste into resources

Earth911 Quiz #81: The Plastic Recycling Crisis

March 12, 2020 by  
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We recently reported on changes in plastic recycling that signal … The post Earth911 Quiz #81: The Plastic Recycling Crisis appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Quiz #81: The Plastic Recycling Crisis

Barack Obama on climate, equity and overconsumption

November 26, 2019 by  
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The former president opens up about the urgency of the crisis and what he sees as the disconnect between our stated values and our actions.

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Barack Obama on climate, equity and overconsumption

Yes, climate marches are working

July 5, 2019 by  
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If you’re on social media or watch the news, you probably noticed that protest marches have increased in incidence and popularity in this era of Trump. The President’s political and personal actions have sent the opposition out on the streets, including mass protests for issues from women’s rights to climate change and everything in between. Up until recently, social scientists believed aggressive protests alienate activists from potential supporters, but the massive popularity of recent climate marches have turned this idea on its head. The popularity of the People’s Climate March (2017) and Youth Climate Strike (2019) spurred participation from all walks of life and changed the stereotypical face of an activist to be– well, anyone. This critical shift may render marches one of the most powerful political tools. Trump’s election was a “blessing for the climate movement.” His anti-environment policies, like closing national parks and slashing the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget, have galvanized the opposition and united groups that don’t agree on much except that Trump is terrible for the environment. Related: Climate change will push 120 million into poverty Climate fanatics have become likeable A new study from Penn State University examined public opinion before and after the March for Science and the Peoples’ Climate March, both in 2017, and found that unlike previous marches, these helped boost likability and support. So, what is different about climate activists? All of the nearly 600 people interviewed heard about the marches through the media, but did not attend. The results of the survey indicated that across political affiliation, participants reported that the activists were “less arrogant, less whiny and less eccentric” than other activists. Clearly, activists have a negative connotation in the minds of the American public, but something about these climate marchers was slightly different. Activists get a bad rep A widely cited study on activism from 2013 concluded that depending on the tactics, certain acts of civil disobedience lose supporters. For example, acts viewed aggressive, militant or wasteful (think: throwing red paint on a fur coat) mostly earn activists scorn— but not support. These feelings of scorn reduce peoples’ willingness “to adopt the behaviors that these activities promoted,” the research team from the University of Toronto reported . “If you were a bystander in 2017, if you were looking at the march, you’d see people of faith, labor unions, people of color and frontline communities,” the director of the People’s Climate Movement, Paul Getsos said about the March. “It wasn’t your typical kind of activist march; it counters the narrative that no one cares about climate change. If we were just mobilizing the usual activist base, I know for a fact it wouldn’t have had the same impact.” What is the point of marches? In general, the goal of a march is to inspire people to support the cause and to get government to act. In her article “ To have impact, the People’s Climate March needs to reach beyond activists ,” Jill Hopkes argued the goal of marches needed to be to gain attention and support from people who did not already support the cause. Garnering this far-reaching impact is incredibly important and it’s where marches can get it right or get it wrong. Surprisingly, survey respondents of the University of Tornoto study, who identify as conservative, reported an increase in what researchers call “collective efficacy.” This means an increase in their belief that together, we can solve the climate crisis . Climate marches, because of their palatability and sheer numbers, may make a difference in terms of gaining supporters across the aisle, but will that lead to action? In an op-ed for Grist, Director of Climate Justice for the Center for Popular Democracy, Aura Vasquez, argued that this intentionality to reach not only across aisles but across cultures is critical. “It’s about sending a message of unity that crosses color lines and income scales. It’s about demonstrating the diversity of the climate movement, the diversity that gives us our strength,” wrote Vasquez. Related: Polls show climate change is a determining issue for 2020 elections The Climate Movement started at Standing Rock Aura Vasquez also makes sure to give credit where credit is due, citing: “Standing Rock is when the movement truly bloomed, bringing together thousands of people from every corner of the country to block a pipeline that threatens ancient water sources and blatantly disregards treaties with sovereign First Nation.” As the protests at Standing Rock bubbled and grew into something larger than just a small sect of activists, the indigenous-led movement began to make “a powerful argument that wove together environmental, racial and economic justice, water protectors were able to attract both die-hard climate activists and allies brand-new to the cause,” said Vasquez. From there, the momentum for the climate and science marches grew. Suddenly, with over 300 marches throughout the country, the climate movement became something that everyone could get involved with, even those who weren’t militant (or privileged) enough to skip out on work and fly to North Dakota to protest a pipeline. Inclusive tactics will reach non-believers Researchers and critics of general marches have suggestions for how the activists can be more inclusive and effective, including more carefully selecting who is the face of the protest and what messages they use in order to avoid the “whiny, arrogant and eccentric” stereotype. Seasoned environmentalists may have thought people would join their fight when the science came out over 30 years ago that fossil fuels were altering the climate. But the truth is that emissions have gotten drastically worse. It’s clear, then, that facts from scientists might convince some, but they aren’t enough to sway the public. Climate Outreach suggests that the visuals used by both the media and the activists themselves also have a role to play in their reputation and supporters they attract. According to the climate communication advisors, visuals that show the negative impacts of climate change alongside positive solutions help people understand the gravity of the crisis. Climate Outreach also encourages “careful use” of protest imagery, since many people still do not identify with activism. However, to the extent that protest images show diversity and unification– rather than aggression– this new research indicates these images may be the turning point toward finally achieving political action, together. Via Grist Images via Mark Dixon, NiklasPntk , filmbetrachterin

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These are the best tips to help you establish an eco-friendly laundry routine

May 13, 2019 by  
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The earth is a fragile place, a bit more so with each day that humans contribute to chemicals in the waste stream and overconsumption of resources. While it may seem like a benign daily activity, doing laundry traditionally pours toxins such as microplastics into the water stream and drinks up valuable freshwater in the process. Since it is an activity we all do, and one we aren’t able to overlook (no one likes smelly clothes), there is a great opportunity to reduce the cumulative impact that laundry has on the environment . Here are some ways you can lower your laundry footprint by adopting sustainable practices. Laundry accumulation The best way to keep your laundry practices “clean” is to not wash clothes when it’s not necessary. Overwashing clothing wears down the fibers, which is bad both for your clothing and the environment, especially those materials that shed microplastics into the waste stream. Limit your laundry accumulation by re-wearing clothing. For example, jeans can handle several wearings before washing. Also, rehang and reuse bathroom towels a few times rather than washing them daily. Avoid washing items just because they have laid on the ground or are wrinkled. Related: Cora Ball emulates natural filtering of coral to remove toxic microfibers from your washing machine Prewash Instead of reaching for the chemical-laden prewash from the store, go old school with a more natural option. Laundry bars, like Dr. Bronners, remove stains without adding unnatural ingredients into the water supply. Simply keep it near the washing machine and rub it on stains to pretreat. Also avoid the prewash setting that requires more water and energy . If you have a tough stain try soaking it with a stain remover before washing. Dish soap may also do the job. Detergent options Commercial laundry detergents are loaded with nasty chemicals that run down the drain into the rivers and eventually make their way out to sea . While many might think these chemicals are completely removed with water treatments, the truth is not all are. However, fabrics will come clean without all the mainstream added toxins— so select your detergent with this in mind. For store-bought convenience, look for natural ingredients and read labels carefully. If you have the time to spare, try making your own laundry detergent. There are recipes all over the internet. Once you find your supplies, it is quick and easy to make and you can make enough to last months at a time. Fabric softener/dryer sheet options Clothes dryers rank high on the energy consumption scale, but they also add to waste with dryer sheets and chemicals from liquid fabric softeners. Clean up your act with homemade liquid detergent using a combination of 1/8 cup food-grade glycerin, two cups of water and two cups of white vinegar. Use about 1/4 cup per load. Also soften your fabrics and shorten drying time with wool dryer balls in each load. Alternately, you can make a liquid fabric softener that goes into the dryer instead of the washing machine. Just moisten a rag with the mixture and dry with your load of clothing. You can reuse the same rag endlessly without dryer sheet waste . Water usage As mentioned, the best way to reduce water usage is to avoid unnecessary washing. Also, skip the prewash and select the best cycle for the task at hand. For example, override the extra rinse for whites and choose a lower soil level for regular washings. If you’re in the market for a new washing machine, select one with an energy star rating for low water and electrical consumption. Cold water It requires energy to heat water around the house, so save it for the shower. Your clothes will do just fine when washed in cold water and your pocketbook will thank you too. Line dry Another winning way to lower the electric bill is to skip the dryer all together. Instead, set up a clothesline and hang items to dry when the weather allows. If you don’t like the rough feel of sun-dried clothes, toss them in the dryer for a few minutes then take the clothes out. Trap the microplastics In the environmental realm, microplastics are making headlines around the globe. It’s said that they are found in nearly all tested fish, which means we’re literally eating our clothes . Because microplastics are minute, they are not filtered out at the the water treatment plant and instead travel right through to the ocean. There are now products, like the Cora Ball, designed to throw in your washer as a filter to capture the microplastics in your laundry. Newer washing machines are expected to have microplastics filters built in so keep an eye out for those to hit the market. Related: Cora Ball emulates natural filtering of coral to remove toxic microfibers from your washing machine The dry cleaner Dry cleaning is a chemical process, and therefore a foe of the environment. Avoid dry cleaning as much as possible by washing at home and being conscious of the fabrics you buy at the store. Doing laundry has become such a part of our daily routines that we might not notice how often we are tossing our barely worn clothes in the washer. It’s never too late to begin an eco-friendly lifestyle and incorporate new approaches to our routines. Follow these helpful tips and significantly reduce your environmental impact. Images via Shutterstock

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These are the best tips to help you establish an eco-friendly laundry routine

New study reveals the Great Barrier Reef is struggling to produce new coral

April 5, 2019 by  
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The Great Barrier Reef is struggling to create new coral. Scientists at James Cook University just published a study that shows a shocking decrease in the number of baby coral last year, leading to uncertainty about the future of the reef system. The study revealed that new coral declined by a shocking 89 percent because of large bleaching events in 2016 and 2017 — which were caused by climate change . The last bleaching happened in 2017, and scientists counted how many coral survived the crisis and how many new coral sprung up in 2018. Related: Loophole allows 1M tons of sludge to be dumped on Great Barrier Reef Not only were the numbers extremely low compared to historical counts, but the types of new coral being produced are different as well. According to The Guardian , scientists are worried about the health of the reef, especially if it experiences another bleaching event in the next decade. The reef has survived the previous two bleaching incidents, but a third could do irreparable damage to the world’s largest reef system. “We’ve told the story of coral dying, we’ve told the story of some being winners and losers. Now we’ve got the next phase where species have a chance to recover ,” Terry Hughes, the lead scientist in the study, shared. The Great Barrier Reef would probably recover just fine if it weren’t for the threat of future bleaching. In areas that were hit the hardest in 2016 and 2017, the growth of new coral was slowed to only 2 percent. Those rates have since rebounded to 4 percent, but to fully recover, there would need to be no bleaching events for the next decade. Given that  global warming is not really slowing down, this is highly unlikely. Despite the negative outlook, scientists believe the Great Barrier Reef can still recover. Their biggest concern is that the recovery process will take a lot longer than previously thought. If the reef recovers, there is also worry that it will be unable to sustain those numbers against additional bleaching events. Hopefully, the Great Barrier Reef will not witness any bleaching in the near future, so it can withstand the effects of climate change and fully flourish. Via The Guardian Image via Matt Kieffer

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New study reveals the Great Barrier Reef is struggling to produce new coral

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