Here’s how retail can be profitable and sustainable

March 17, 2020 by  
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There are obvious steps to reduce environmental impact such as getting rid of single-use plastics or curtailing excess packaging. But retailers could also optimize back-end operations to reduce their environmental impact by using data to match customer purchasing habits with merchandise and inventory.

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Here’s how retail can be profitable and sustainable

Could the Ohio River have rights? A movement emerges, testing the power of local control

March 17, 2020 by  
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Lake Erie recently was granted its own bill of rights. Here’s a closer look at the momentum around rights for nature.

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Could the Ohio River have rights? A movement emerges, testing the power of local control

Coronavirus dampens 2020 outlook for clean energy and electric vehicles

March 17, 2020 by  
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The immediate crisis could undermine long-term strategy.

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Coronavirus dampens 2020 outlook for clean energy and electric vehicles

A clean-energy school in southern France draws power from the sun

March 10, 2020 by  
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The French city of Nîmes recently welcomed the Ada Lovelace Secondary School, Occitania’s first-ever clean-energy school that’s earned both BEPOS energy level certification and a sustainability rating of Silver-level BDM (Bâtiments Durables Méditerranéens). Opened in the fall of last year, the eco-friendly school is the work of French design firm A+ Architecture . In addition to its energy-saving and -producing features, the Ada Lovelace Secondary School features a bold and contemporary design to help boost the neighborhood’s ongoing urban revitalization efforts. Crowned winners of a 2015 design competition for the project, A+ Architecture was tasked to reconstruct the 400-student secondary school to a new site that would also include space for housing for half of the student population, sports facilities, a race track and three staff houses. The 5,898-square-meter school also needed to be held up as a positive sign of urban renewal in the Mas de Mingue district. Related: New BU academic tower will be 100% free from fossil fuels “Beyond the environmental basics, we have produced a contemporary, bold, powerful and dynamic architectural structure,” the architects explained. “We wanted people to be drawn to this place of education in this difficult neighborhood. Shapes collide, as stainless-steel panels make it seem as though the facades are empty, which are broken up by rows of windows.” Topped with 800 square meters of solar panels, the Ada Lovelace Secondary School is clad in locally sourced stones that vary in size for visual interest and to help give the volume a more human scale. For stable indoor temperatures, the architects insulated the walls with wood and hemp and installed wood boilers for supplemental heating. Students have also been invited to learn about the school’s energy-saving systems through a digital building model accessible through a game and website managed by Citae. + A+ Architecture Photography by Benoit Wehrle via A+ Architecture

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A clean-energy school in southern France draws power from the sun

Researchers convert durian and jackfruit biowaste into ultracapacitors

March 10, 2020 by  
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Durian fruit is notable for its funky stench, making it a rather malodorous waste when it is discarded. But a new study from Australia’s University of Sydney, published in the Journal of Energy Storage , focused on recycling durian waste into an affordable, sustainable source of energy storage to counteract global warming. How? The researchers have discovered a way to create ultracapacitors from durian and its related jackfruit cousin. Who knew that putrid-smelling biowaste could pack an electrical punch? “Super-capacitors are like energy reservoirs that dole out energy smoothly. They can quickly store large amounts of energy within a small battery-sized device and then supply energy to charge electronic devices, such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops, within a few seconds,” explained associate professor Vincent Gomes. “Using durian and jackfruit purchased from a market, we converted the fruits’ waste portions (biomass) into super-capacitors that can be used to store electricity efficiently.” Related: New technological process transforms everyday trash into graphene As TreeHugger reported, the waste biomass of durian and jackfruit are “converted into a carbon aerogel using non-toxic methods.” These aerogels are then leveraged and converted into electrodes, “which are tested for their energy storage properties.” Interestingly, these durian- and jackfruit-derived electrodes “demonstrate outstanding performance, making them a green, low-cost energy solution for charging phones, laptops and tablets.” When compared to what’s currently on the market, the electrodes developed from durian and jackfruit have proven to be a more energy-efficient alternative to traditional ultracapacitors derived from activated carbon. “The durian and jackfruit super-capacitors perform much better than the materials currently in use and are comparable, if not better, than the expensive and exotic graphene -based materials,” Gomes said. “We have reached a point where we must urgently discover and produce ways to create and store energy using sustainably sourced materials that do not contribute to global warming.” + Journal of Energy Storage Via TreeHugger Image via Jonny Clow

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Researchers convert durian and jackfruit biowaste into ultracapacitors

Craft beer waste saves Montana town $1M for wastewater treatment

February 18, 2020 by  
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A Montana town has found a money-saving solution to its sewage and wastewater treatment expenses, thanks to a nearby craft brewery. The innovation caught the eye of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which provided the town and its water reclamation facility an Honorable Mention accolade in one of the federal agency’s annual awards. Havre, Montana has a population of 10,000. Its 40-year-old water reclamation facility, as the EPA has described, “needed upgrades to help meet their final ammonia and residual chlorine limits,” while processing more than 6 million gallons of water . Related: EWG warns ‘forever chemicals’ are contaminating US drinking water at levels far worse than expected Unfortunately, with more than 10 breweries nearby, the wastewater generated further increased because beer waste is “rich in yeast, hops and sugar.” These contents are known to skew the microbial activity process that removes both nitrogen and phosphorus from the water as it is being treated. In short, if nitrogen and phosphorus are not removed before the treated water enters the drain-off into estuaries, then bacterial and algal blooms will arise. These unwanted blooms would disturb an estuary’s water chemistry enough to adversely affect the ecosystem. Engineering consultant Coralyn Revis offered a paradigm shift to solve the issue. “If we can use [brewery waste] correctly and put it in the right spot, it’s very beneficial to the process,” Revis said. “This is super-simplified, but like, if they’re eating their french fries, they need a little ketchup with it. So to get the nitrate out, you dose a little carbon, and the bugs are happier.” Havre’s wastewater plant manager, Drue Newfield, sought Michael Garrity, Triple Dog Brewing Company’s owner, to source leftover barley for feeding the water treatment microbes. The spent barley was used as a substitute for the chemical alum, an aluminum-sulfate solution. The joint endeavor saved the community from investing an additional $1 million in upgrades to the water treatment plant. “To further enhance the biological phosphorus removal process, 10 gallons of waste barley mash from a local brewery gets added daily as an external source of carbon and volatile fatty acid supplement,” the EPA explained. “These improvements have allowed the facility to continuously meet all permit effluent limits and has significantly improved the operability, reliability and treatment capability of the facility. These upgrades have greatly improved the quality of wastewater effluent discharged to the Milk River, particularly with respect to nutrient levels and ammonia toxicity.” The endeavor has been federally acknowledged as a creative and successful example for integrating community involvement at solving water quality infrastructure challenges in four key areas: public health, economy, sustainability and innovation. Via NPR , Core77 and EPA Image via Manfred Richter

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Craft beer waste saves Montana town $1M for wastewater treatment

Startup creates compostable, single-serve coffee bags for your busy mornings

February 12, 2020 by  
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Worried about the environmental costs of single-use coffee pods? Steeped Coffee has a game-changing solution for that. The startup has innovated coffee brewing by making it as convenient and simple as steeping a tea bag, only it’s coffee you’re tasting. And once you’ve finished your mug of coffee, you can simply compost the bag and recycle the packaging, which is already made from recycled materials as well. Steeped Coffee’s coffee grounds are nitro-sealed in bags. Because they are nitro-sealed, the coffee grounds stay fresh for months. What’s more, these bags are sustainable, plant-based and dressed in recyclable, compostable packaging. Rather than starting up an energy-intensive machine to brew one cup of coffee, you can steep a Steeped Coffee bag, like one does with tea, to get a quick cup of Joe. The bag needs to steep for just 5 minutes. Related: Biodegradable coffee pods are now available for composting According to the company’s founder and CEO, Josh Wilbur, “Premium coffee roasters have shied away from offering their specialty beans in single-serve packaging because it’s been nearly impossible to keep ground coffee fresh, which quickly ruins the taste. With our nitro-sealed bags, oxygen is replaced with nitrogen, so the coffee stays fresh as if it was ground moments ago.” The startup’s signature specialty coffee is also ethically sourced directly from farmers, and the flavor has earned excellent reviews. With Steeped Coffee bags, there is no need for any machines. That eliminates the noise of traditional coffee-making and minimizes cleanup and waste considerably. While it will certainly work for quick cups of coffee at home, the coffee bags could also work well as single-serve options at hotels and offices as well as an easy way to make coffee while camping. Wilbur was motivated to produce the renewable and compostable nitro-sealed Steeped Coffee bag when he realized that “10 billion unrecyclable coffee pods accumulate in landfills each year — enough to wrap around the Earth more than 110 times if placed side-by-side. Steeped Packs are the easiest way to make a delicious cup of coffee,” devoid of wasted energy and wasted materials. Headquartered in Santa Cruz, California, Steeped Coffee has been gaining recognition for its revolutionary “brewing” method and sustainable packaging. Last year, the company even earned the Best New Product accolade at the Specialty Coffee Expo, the largest annual coffee trade show in North America. + Steeped Coffee Image via Steeped Coffee

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Startup creates compostable, single-serve coffee bags for your busy mornings

How hobbyists are saving endangered killifish from extinction

February 12, 2020 by  
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Killifish biology has long intrigued fish enthusiasts and scientists. But human encroachment, habitat loss and climate change are dwindling killifish populations in the wild. Thankfully, collection efforts by conservationists are saving these creatures. The conservationists distribute specimens and their eggs to academic and hobbyist circles for captive breeding and stewardship. To date, at least 1,270 killifish species are known worldwide, according to Portland State University’s Podrabsky Laboratory . Every continent, save Antarctica and Australia, has killifish. Related: San Diego Tropical Fish Society’s Annual Show celebrates natural, eco-minded aquascaping The BBC and Smithsonian Magazine rank killifish among Earth’s “most extreme” fish. They live in small bodies of water that dry up quickly. Through evolution, they’ve adapted to grow and develop rapidly before their watery homes evaporate. Some killifish species even mature in just a couple weeks. To illustrate, the arrival of rain spurs the tiny fish embryos, dormant in the sediment, to rapidly develop and hatch. The fry next attain sexual maturity, complete the mating cycle, and deposit new batches of embryos — all before the puddle evaporates, sometimes within 14 days. Other adaptations, described by Science magazine, are that killifish can handle intense pollution , fluctuating salinity and unpredictable pH. Superfast maturation, highly evolved versatility and extreme coping strategies toward harsh water conditions have inspired many scientific studies on killifish to determine their secrets on aging and adaptability. Moreover, some species’ embryos, reported by Ecology Journal of the Ecological Society of America (ESA), are hardy enough to survive birds’ digestive tracts. In other words, these killifish embryos hatch even after ingestion by waterfowl. Birds can consume these resilient floating embryos from one body of water then deposit them in a different body of water, miles away, therefore ensuring species dispersion to counteract inbreeding risks. Inhabitat caught up with David Huie and John Pitcairn, avid killifish hobbyists who helped found the San Diego Killifish Group (SDKG) , a Southern California satellite of the American Killifish Association (AKA) . From 1980 to the early 2000s, both Huie and Pitcairn participated in several conservationist collection teams, traveling to Mexico to save endemic killifish. Inhabitat: What anecdotes can you share that show how killifish have become endangered? Huie: There was a time — the early ‘90s — when a professor and his grad students collected desert killifish to breed in the laboratory but lost them. They returned to collect more in the wild, but the fish were eradicated. Sometime before year 2000, the Mexican government, to grow more corn in the desert, pumped the water down 70 meters, drying up streams. Almost everywhere we collected were signs fish weren’t going to be there much longer. Many have gone extinct . But some species are just extirpated in the wild. You can’t find them out there anymore. But we have them in the hobby, the Cyprinodon alvarezi , for example. Ceciliae — they were named after the researcher’s daughter — they went extinct before we got there. I think veronicae was extirpated, but might still be in the hobby, and one type of fontinalis is still in the hobby. The hobby’s the only thing keeping them from extinction. Pitcairn: Actually, there’s still new killifish being found all the time, even during collections. In a way, we stop them from going extinct before they’re discovered [scientifically recognized and named]. Inhabitat: What fascinates you about killifish? Pitcairn: They’re neat fish because they aren’t common in stores. Lately, I’m getting into nothobranchius . There are fewer and fewer people who have nothos , making them hard to get. So somebody needs to start breeding them to keep them around. Inhabitat: Killifish can be tough to breed. That can make them rare in pet stores, making them highly prized. Huie: If you really want a variety of killifish, you just won’t see them unless you’re in the hobby, for no store will carry them by choice, since few customers buy them. Pitcairn: I went by a local fish store the other day and, surprisingly, they had a half-dozen pair of gardneri . Usually you don’t even see those. Killifish aren’t often in stores, mainly because they’re not easy to mass produce. Something like swordtails, you throw half a dozen pairs in a pond — you can go back and harvest a couple hundred fish. Huie: Same with cichlids — you spawn a pair, you’ll get a thousand. To get a thousand killifish, you’d have to work at it. You’ll maybe get just 20 to 30 per spawn. Pitcairn: Depends. With nothos , you can get 50, but then you can also get three, which is frustrating. It’s not so much difficult [to breed killifish] as it is labor-intensive. Inhabitat: How else are hobbyists protecting killifish species from extinction? Pitcairn: It’s more important to try and keep the species we’ve got, so hybridizing is frowned upon. Huie: Before 1960s, European killifish hobbyists crossbred killifish — it wasn’t about making a better-looking killifish — but just to find out which ones were related, by getting viable fry. In fact, a lot of books then were full of hybrids. But in the ‘60s and ‘70s, when they started finding different types of killifish, it became a real problem because you wanted to have the killifish name — hybrids just muddled that. So from the ‘70s to ‘80s, it became anathema to have hybrids. Inhabitat: What can you share about the hobby’s history in the U.S.? Huie: The reason the AKA started, and killifish became a hobby, was because at that time it was expensive to get killifish, but relatively economical to send eggs. For peat spawners, you’ve a couple of months where you can send eggs through the mail without a problem. Then for egg-layers, you’ve about a week or two where you can just mail eggs. That’s so much cheaper and easier than sending fish — it’s a smaller package, without worrying about water . Plus, eggs are more temperature-tolerant. The best eco tourism spots in San Diego The first time I really saw killifish as a group was when our friend Monty Lehmann became active as a killifish breeder. He contacted killifish people all over because, generally, there were only a few species available in pet stores back in the ‘70s. Even now, depending on availability, there’s not that many. So in the late ‘70s, I made Monty’s acquaintance, and he tried to get our group going in San Diego . That was a baby brother group to this group [SDKG]. That group kind of dissipated when Monty moved. Inhabitat: How did the current SDKG group start? Huie: We had board game meetings on Fridays and Saturdays. While we played Risk, we’d talk about fish. So our original name was San Diego Fish & Game. Pitcairn: San Diego Killifish and Games — that’s how we got San Diego Killifish Group now, because of the same initials, SDKG. Huie: Our group realized if we wanted to see killifish we didn’t have, we needed to host a show. To get the fish and egg listings, the group had to be part of the AKA. The AKA still supports the show because they run a Killifish Hobbyist of the Year award, where you receive points for entering fish in different sanctioned shows. It’s great for the hobby and killifish as a whole because you’re sending fish across the U.S. + San Diego Killifish Group Photography by Mariecor Agravante / Inhabitat

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How hobbyists are saving endangered killifish from extinction

Children hurt after Delta jet dumps fuel on schools

January 16, 2020 by  
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On January 14, a Delta jet malfunctioned and dumped jet fuel over Los Angeles-area schools. The incident injured more than 50 people, including students from Park Avenue Elementary, San Gabriel Elementary, Graham Elementary, Tweedy Elementary, 93rd Street Elementary and Jordan High School. Currently, injuries such as skin and eye irritation and breathing problems have been reported. As the Los Angeles Unified School District said, “Students and staff were on the playground at the time and may have been sprayed by fuel or inhaled fumes.” Several people affected by the fuel were treated on-site. A “reverse 911” text message was sent out to locals, informing them of the event, noting affected areas and advising residents on how to proceed. The L.A. County Fire Department also updated its Twitter with the number of patients affected at each school site. As of Tuesday evening, the patient count included 31 patients from Park Avenue Elementary, six patients from Tweedy Elementary, one patient from Graham Elementary and six patients from San Gabriel Elementary. The Delta flight in question was Flight 89 to Shanghai , which apparently experienced an engine malfunction after takeoff. According to Delta, safe landing procedures following such a malfunction required fuel release — though the Federal Aviation Administration commented that fuel-dumping procedures “call for fuel to be dumped over designated unpopulated areas, typically at higher altitudes so the fuel atomizes and disperses before it reaches the ground.” This event isn’t the first environmental issue Park Avenue Elementary has faced, either. For an eight-month period between 1989 and 1990, the school was closed due to a mysterious ooze appearing. Investigation then discovered that the school was formerly the site of a city dump . As Elizabeth Alcantar, recently appointed mayor of Cudahy, said, “The very same playground experienced another environmental injustice. For our residents, they’re rightfully upset, and there is concern over when this will truly be over.” Via L.A. Times and CNN Image via Pixabay

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Children hurt after Delta jet dumps fuel on schools

Is Green Dentistry Possible?

December 19, 2019 by  
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Efforts by oral health professionals to reduce the environmental impact … The post Is Green Dentistry Possible? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Is Green Dentistry Possible?

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