The sustainability year 2020 in review, in haiku

December 29, 2020 by  
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The sustainability year 2020 in review, in haiku Sue Lebeck Tue, 12/29/2020 – 01:00 Editor’s note: Back by popular demand, smart cities consultant Sue Lebeck provides GreenBiz highlights from the past year in verse. You’ll find her haiku from 2019 here . Rise before the Surprise Leaders gather for the first and last time in year of shelter-in-place. Learning on the Job Could ways to flatten coronavirus’ curve help bend climate’s curve too? From Farms to Front Lines Essential workers carry the day, unclear that anybody CARES. BLM joins COVID-19 In this raw moment, we are dually confronted. Here’s how to respond. Climate and Justice make a Great Pair   Not mere Facebook friends, these two spawn recovery, lift communities. Corporates Gain via E, S and G Weave people, purpose and commitment to climate — then watch value rise. At Circularity, Plastics gets Serious Pacts and moonshots are aiming to contain plastics’ value forever. Proof, Imagination and a Kick Great transit — public, active and electric — drives all toward equity. Food Focus Feeds a Flurry Regeneration- revealed opportunity cost: meat’s great land grab! Electrifying Path of “least regret” as wildfire climate destroys forests and sparks fears. The Forests AND the Trees Climate’s urgent need is restored forests! Also those one trillion trees. Carbontech is on the VERGE Carbontech hits the market; removal joins the carbon agenda. New Year’s Resolutions Watch GreenFin grow, help Big Oil shrink and build racial justice for all. Cheers! Topics Corporate Strategy Climate Change COVID-19 Sustainability Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of Shutterstock/Protasov AN

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The sustainability year 2020 in review, in haiku

Lisa Jackson: How Apple aims to lead on environment and equity

October 27, 2020 by  
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Lisa Jackson: How Apple aims to lead on environment and equity Elsa Wenzel Tue, 10/27/2020 – 02:00 Apple’s Lisa Jackson is moving social justice to the top of the list for protecting the environment. Coming from one of Fortune’s “most powerful women in business ” at one of the world’s largest companies, she has views that could have a long-term global impact. Apple’s big-ticket sustainability goals released this year for 2030 include becoming carbon-neutral and achieving a net-zero impact in all operations. The company also recently embraced an outward-facing leadership role on its social impacts, with a $100 million investment to create a Racial and Equity Justice Initiative (REJI), which CEO Tim Cook asked Jackson to lead in June. How can we grow some Black and brown-owned businesses that are working on the issue of climate change? It’s not new for Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives to see racism and climate change as intertwined. She capped off her two-decade career with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as its chief under President Barack Obama. Jackson recalled a key lesson from her New Orleans childhood to GreenBiz co-founder Joel Makower during a VERGE 20 virtual event Monday. 1. Identifying intersections “I know what it means to be at the receiving end of our industrial society, whether it’s the air quality coming from petrochemical facilities, of wind, or the water quality coming down the Mississippi River, or the Gulf of Mexico’s health — and that ecosystem and diversity, all those issues, conflate to me around the place I call home,” the chemical engineer said. For example, she has seen the resources of the world flow upward to the people who make inequitable decisions around land use and then profit from them — but not flowing back to the people who become victims of flooding, fires or other consequences of poor planning. “Those are the questions we have to solve if we’re really going to solve the climate crisis,” Jackson said. Fighting for equality and justice for my community has driven my career as an environmentalist. I’ll continue the work leading Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative. #BlackLivesMatter https://t.co/JKuaQP3I2r — Lisa P. Jackson (@lisapjackson) June 11, 2020 Jackson’s passion for addressing these problems deepened recently when she witnessed the combustive mix of poor air quality and high COVID-19 fatalities within historically underserved frontline communities. “It all comes together because we know that the co-pollutants of CO2 from fossil fuel, and from the fossil fuel-burning power sector and transportation sectors, are all part of that justice equation,” she said. 2. Empowering communities As part of its REJI initiative, which centers around representation, inclusion and accountability, Apple describes using its voice and cash to transform systemic disempowerment into empowerment. One way is to hire more coders of color and to build up wealth in underserved communities by doing more business with suppliers owned by people of color. “One of the things we did in the economic empowerment space is come up with this idea of an impact accelerator,” she said. “How can we grow some Black and brown-owned businesses that are working on the issue of climate change? Because we’ve always said that climate change is an economic opportunity, how can we make sure that opportunity is spread equally?” Plus, Apple is also nurturing coding hubs at historically Black colleges and universities. Apple’s $100 million toward REJI is nine to 10 times the investment committed by Amazon, Google and Facebook each toward racial justice causes. 3. Making the human factor material It’s been two years since Apple planted the seeds to grow a circular economy by committing to make all of its devices from recycled or renewable materials eventually. Jackson described how the iPhone maker quickly found that its “moonshot” of shunning ingredients that need to be mined is not just about closing the loop on material resources, but on human resources as well. The tech giant prioritized eliminating conflict minerals and questionably sourced rare earths early on because of the labor and supply chain difficulties involved. In this area, Apple so far has created its own recycled aluminum alloy for devices including the Apple Watch, MacBookAir and iPad, and it uses recycled tin in solder in some logic boards. It has developed profiles of 45 materials in terms of their impacts on the environment, society and supply chains, singling out 14 for early action on recycled or renewable sourcing. The haptic engine, which enables a variety of vibrations in iPhone models 11 and up, uses recycled rare earths. The Daisy disassembly robot gained a cousin, Dave, which recovers rare earth elements, steel and tungsten from spent devices and scrap. Apple is still aiming to make all of its products and packaging from recycled and renewable materials. So far all paper materials are recycled, and plastics have been reduced by 58 percent in four years. The company is more quietly progressing on safer chemistry. Toward its goal of gathering data on all the chemicals that comprise its products, it has information from 900 suppliers on 45,000 parts and materials. “As much as we want to continue to engage in communities to try to lift up the standards and use our purchasing power to lift up, we also have to be honest with ourselves and say, there’s also a need for us to show an alternative path,” Jackson said. 4. Being first and bigger Where Apple leads, others in the market listen. For instance, so far it has nudged more than 70 of its suppliers to adopt clean energy, which Apple has fully implemented in its offices, data centers and stores without leaning on offsets. The company’s supply chain partners of all sizes are ripe for doing something differently, Jackson said.  Because we’ve always said that climate change is an economic opportunity, how can we make sure that opportunity is spread equally? “They’ve seen what COVID can do, or a crisis can do, to a business that hasn’t thought about resilience and sustainability,” Jackson said. “Apple can help by modeling and also taking a risk on technologies and ways of doing business, and quickly scaling them.” For example, Apple was able in a single year to embed 100-recycled rare earth elements in the magnets of its iPhone 12 series. “If we can come up with a cleaner alternative, then our belief is that these other places will have no alternative but to clean up as well so that they can be competitive not just on an economic level, but on a social and environmental level as well,” she said. “That’s going to be the exciting work for Apple … in the next few years is to not only do it first but to do it bigger, and to hopefully leave behind a supply chain that’s now economical and accessible for other people. Because those industries, those enterprises will say, ‘OK, there are probably more people who want to buy recycled material as well’ — and that’s the circular economy.” Pull Quote How can we grow some Black and brown-owned businesses that are working on the issue of climate change? Because we’ve always said that climate change is an economic opportunity, how can we make sure that opportunity is spread equally? Topics Human Rights Equity & Inclusion Supply Chain VERGE 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Apple’s Vice President, Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson. Apple Close Authorship

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Brown, female and on the bus: A personal journey into transportation policy

October 27, 2020 by  
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Brown, female and on the bus: A personal journey into transportation policy Sahar Shirazi Tue, 10/27/2020 – 01:30 I got my first passport at 6 months old. Not to take a luxurious holiday with my jet-setting family, but to move back to a country on the brink of war, right after a democratic revolution that almost immediately turned into a dictatorship. At age 5, after various failed attempts to flee Iran, I boarded a flight from Istanbul to Los Angeles by myself. Before I started school, transportation already had served to move me both into and out of opportunity in very real ways. Like many immigrants, my identity is complicated. First, I am not technically an immigrant. I was born in Berkeley, California. I was 6 months old when my family moved back to Iran, and for the first 5 years of my life, I was physically stuck there. Even after we finally made it back to the U.S., I was raised in such strictly traditional surroundings, we may as well have been in my grandparents’ village in Iran, just without the bombs and threats from the government (at least, not at that point). My family struggled to gain legal status in the U.S., and I was shaped by my personal experiences as well as theirs. When we first moved to the U.S., we were very poor. We lived in apartments around Sacramento, moving every six months or so as my parents chased elusive opportunities and odd jobs. Both of my parents worked at various burger joints, and my sister and I took the public bus to school, keys tied around our necks, sometimes upwards of 40 minutes each way. In 1989, Mazda came out with the Miata, originally only available in red, white and blue in the U.S. It was the first time I’d ever cared about a car. Walking by those shiny, tiny cars as I went to sit in the greasy air of the burger shop gave 9-year-old me my first taste of material want, the first-time consumerism infiltrated my psyche as a child. In school, I fantasized that I could learn skills to woo my classmates; to become clever or artistic or sporty enough that they would no longer question my hair, skin, language or lack of wealth. But here, here was a way for me to buy my way into their world. I was enchanted by the car not as a mode for gaining access or opportunity, but as a means to gain status. And that understanding never left me. I was enchanted by the car not as a mode for gaining access or opportunity, but as a means to gain status. And that understanding never left me. By the time I was old enough to drive, my family had moved out of Sacramento and into northern Sonoma County. My parents had moved up the ladder and now owned their own little burger shop, were able to buy their first house, and we’d been living in a middle-class community for some time. My political psyche also had formed more. I was involved in groups and actions, I already had joined boards and commissions for youth, and I’d organized various petitions and rallies in school. I’d been given a used bike in my early teens and rode it around the developing landscape of wine country as my only physical escape from my home. I took the school bus to school, and the county bus to the local community college, in the neighboring town, for classes I couldn’t take at our underfunded high school. Active and shared transportation was my lifeline, and I could not imagine sheltering myself in a private car — even a little Miata, removed from the experience of transportation, despite all the problems such a luxury would have alleviated. In Iran, taxis and mini-buses charged for space rather than users; and the wealthy paid extra for empty bus seats or “closed door” taxis that did not pick up other strangers. Riding the bus in the U.S. and not smooshing into a stranger still felt luxurious despite the inconveniences and delays, until the harassment began. In addition to being Middle Eastern in a region made up of mostly white and Latino populations, I was a young female who’d developed early. Before I understood the comments that men hurled at me, I knew the discomfort they caused. On the school bus, young boys grabbed me with no remorse and no consequences (other than the time I punched one of them, finally trying to assert some form of power). At the city bus stop, on a rural road with no one around, men slowed down and screamed out the window for me to get in as they drove by. This behavior continued through my 20s, in Oakland and San Francisco and much more “urban” and “progressive” places than the small town I spent my adolescence in. I still remember wondering what part of my 22-year-old self, dressed in paint-splattered clothes from nine hours of working with preschoolers, screamed out for that kind of attention. A stop request sign on a light-rail train in Sacramento. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock/ZikG Media Source Shutterstock Media Authorship ZikG Close Authorship These were normalized experiences of being female, brown and a non-driver. And yet, I never sought the safe isolation of being in a car. I could not have explained why, until age 29, I refused to get a license. I had neither the understanding of transportation’s importance or its role in our social fabric to put words to my own stubbornness, until I sank deep into the academic study, personal stories and history of our systems. When I entered grad school at Mills College in 2009, I finally decided to get a license. I realized I could no longer afford to wait for buses that never came, and I had the luxury of being able to drive, have a vehicle and affording my private transportation system. Being in an enclosed vehicle alone was a new experience at 29, and the safety and comfort I felt was matched only by my own sense of disconnection from the world. I’ve heard the term “windshield mentality” used for the psychology of driving, and it resonates deeply. On a train, a bus, a bike or on foot, we are forced to interact with the world in some way. But alone, in a car, separated physically from all others, we can easily sink into an “us vs. everyone” mentality. Suddenly, the biker or pedestrian is a nuisance, not a person trying to get somewhere just like me. The stop signs and speed limits are just in my way, rather than being protections for the lives of others. No level of learning changes this basic psychology. I still must remind myself every time I drive, I am not in traffic, I am traffic. To truly have a system that serves the needs of diverse communities, that acknowledges and repairs the harm we have done with past planning and projects, we must have greater representation from the people affected by them. With this shift in mentality taking shape, I entered a public policy program, aiming to learn about community-based economic development and social equity work. I was going back to school to make a difference, and I had no idea that that path would lead me to transportation. One of my early projects was a study for the local business improvement district; a parking study. As I walked around the community counting parking spaces by the hour, I dashed across roads with no stoplights, crosswalks and wide lanes incentivizing high speeds, wondering why certain corners were so dark once the sun went down, and taking note of the infrastructure for other modes of transportation such as buses and bikes. I spoke to shop owners and residents, passersby and city officials, and every conversation and observation pushed me to learn more about urban planning. I think of those conversations often these days, of the person who told me they won’t take the bus in the evenings, because the bus stop is next to an ATM, and there have been too many muggings there. Of the person who explained to me that the land use and transit components are decided separately, so putting a bus stop in front of a café instead, for example, had not been considered. And of our final presentation to the local Business Improvement District, where we suggested pedestrian, bike and transit improvements to slow down traffic would benefit them, rather than more parking, and the incredulous response we received. I think of my own transportation stories; of the frustration of taking three buses and riding over an hour to commute to my job that was only eight miles away. Of the kids who were on the last leg of that commute, using the county bus as their school bus every morning, and how happy their interactions made me. Of missing a bus between jobs and the anxiety I felt as I waited 30 minutes for the next option. In many ways, transportation and land use is the physical manifestation of patriarchy and racism. From our history of bulldozing minority neighborhoods to build freeways and refusing loans to Black families to our current decision-making structures that exclude those who cannot access language, time, education, transportation, childcare, technology — all but the most resourced participants, we have reinforced systems that benefit white men at the expense of all others for decades. How do we move forward when we are burdened with so much weight, pulling at us from our past? How do we confront our own history and learn from it, to make programs, policies, investments and structures that serve the needs of communities, especially in a world of constrained time and resources? Recently, I gave a presentation that showed historic redlining maps lined up with current maps of disadvantaged communities, and I was surprised at the response it garnered. “Wow, they are the same,” someone said incredulously. Our past actions have long-lasting consequences, and we are never starting from scratch. It still boggles my mind how that is a revelation. Of course they are the same. To truly have a system that serves the needs of diverse communities, that acknowledges and repairs the harm we have done with past planning and projects, we must have greater representation from the people affected by them. Our current systems, which make decisions for people without their involvement, will continue to create inequitable outcomes, however well-intentioned those decisions may be. Sharing more information, education and stories about transportation and mobility, and enabling collaboration through new models of engagement can help us move past limited community meetings and outreach into engagement and co-creation of goals. By acknowledging the importance of transportation in economic, environmental, educational and health outcomes, those of us in the field can help connect the dots for the next generation of transportation planners, policymakers and engineers, and increase diversity in representation in our field. Just as my lived experiences influenced my decision to enter transportation, and continue to color my views through every project, the experiences of those different from me, those affected most by the mistakes of our past and present, must be included and valued as we move forward and try to do better. Meaningful representation, moving past tokenism, is critical to shifting the transportation paradigm and addressing our past harms. Mobility creates economic, social, and environmental opportunity, and that opportunity has been distributed asymmetrically thus far. Transportation is more than technical engineering, it is more than a bus or a train or a bike; it is the potential for movement through the physical world, and the experiences and stories of accessing that movement.  So when someone asks me now why I do this work, I simply tell them: It turns out I’ve been working in transportation my whole life, I just finally made it official. This article was first published on the author’s Medium channel. Pull Quote I was enchanted by the car not as a mode for gaining access or opportunity, but as a means to gain status. And that understanding never left me. On a train, a bus, a bike or on foot, we are forced to interact with the world in some way. But alone, in a car, separated physically from all others, we can easily sink into an ‘us vs. everyone’ mentality. To truly have a system that serves the needs of diverse communities, that acknowledges and repairs the harm we have done with past planning and projects, we must have greater representation from the people affected by them. Topics Transportation & Mobility Racial Issues Social Justice Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Inside a bus in Chicago, circa March 2016. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock/Sorbis Shutterstock Sorbis Close Authorship

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Brown, female and on the bus: A personal journey into transportation policy

Love trees? Prioritize wildfire restoration and fighting deforestation

October 22, 2020 by  
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Love trees? Prioritize wildfire restoration and fighting deforestation Heather Clancy Thu, 10/22/2020 – 02:00 Back in my former life as a tech journo, my coverage was informed by the infamous ” hype cycle ” phrase coined by research firm Gartner to describe the arc of emerging technology adoption from the spark of innovation to mainstream adoption. Lately, I’ve been mulling that framework a great deal in the context of a much-ballyhooed nature-based solution for removing carbon emissions: planting trees. Heck, even the climate-denier-in-chief loves the idea . Right now, we are clearly in the “peak of inflated expectations” phase of the tree-planting movement, with new declarations hitting my inbox every week. Pretty much any company with a net-zero commitment has placed tree projects at the center of its short-term strategy, often as part of declarations related to the Trillion Trees initiative.   As a verified tree-hugger, I’m encouraged. But, please, it’s time to refine the dialogue: While tree-planting events in parks or schoolyards make for great photo opps, we should devote far more time to acts of restoration and conservation. That’s where we really need corporate support, both in the form of dollars and any expertise on the ground your team can provide.  That’s the spirit of the Wildfire Restoration Collaborative launched this week by the Arbor Day Foundation along with AT&T, Facebook, FedEx, Mary Kay, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble and Target. The first order of business: digging in to support the restoration of 8,000 acres in the burn scars of the 2018 Carr and Camp Fires. Projects in Australia, Canada and other affected U.S. forests are on the future agenda. This translates into roughly 8 million trees. Wildfire restoration is more important than ever, given the intensity of blazes fueled by climate change in the form of hotter, drier weather, according to Arbor Day Foundation President Dan Lambe. It’s critical for rebuilding forest ecosystems and watersheds.  “What we’ve seen lately is tree seed source being destroyed by usually hot and long-burning fires, making it difficult for forests to fully regenerate,” he told me in written remarks. “Meanwhile, shrubs and brush are being left behind to act as fuel for the next megafire. Our local planting partners help determine the species, number and space of trees to promote regeneration while preventing fires of this drastic severity in the future.” P&G actually has partnered with Arbor Day on wildfire restoration since 2019, when it became the lead support for the foundation’s activity in Northern California. So far, the Family Care division of the consumer products giant has planted 50,000 trees there and 25,000 in Saxony, Germany, where forests are being damaged by storms, drought and beetle infestations. A P&G spokeswoman said this is a long-term commitment, because restoration takes years, and the company is prioritizing sites near its operations. (One of P&G’s Charmin and Bounty paper plants is in Oxnard, California.) The replanting for these two fire sites will take place over four years. In written responses to my questions, Tim Carey, vice president of sustainability at PepsiCo Beverages North America, which has provided a $1.5 million grant to support restoration, pointed to water replenishment as a key benefit. “Our investment will not only reforest the burn scars, it will result in 458 million gallons of water being replenished annually — which will be desperately needed as wildfires continue to ravage California,” he wrote. “This grant is just one of our many commitments to reforestation and water replenishment. Our goal is to replenish 100 percent of the water we use in manufacturing operations in high-water-risk areas by 2025 — and ensure that such replenishment takes place in the watershed where the extraction has occurred.” When I asked Arbor Day Foundation’s Lambe how the collaborative will prioritize restoration in the future, he said it will be a combination of factors: the damage done; how difficult it will be for the forest to regenerate on its own without intervention; how restoration might help prevent future fires. Just as important is the role the forest plays in human lives. In the months to come, I’d love to see the trillion-trees get far more sophisticated: lasering in on the vitally important nature of this restoration work, as well as importance of encouraging regenerative forestry practices.  And here’s a challenge: I’d love to see every company that jumps onto the tree-planting hype train double down on their strategy for authentically fighting deforestation. As I reported back in February, big business has a terrible track record on deforestation. Very few companies that embraced a strategy actually have accomplished that goal.  A few weeks back, Mars stepped out as a rare exception, declaring a “deforestation-free” palm oil supply chain. It managed this by cutting hundreds of suppliers, which makes me wonder where those businesses are selling their wares, and by requiring the ones that are left (just 50 by 2022, down from 1,500) to commit to specific environmental practices.  I can guarantee you institutional investors are paying more attention than ever, especially as deforestation maps directly to horrific human rights abuses all over the world — from the Amazon to Indonesia. Banks, on other hand, have fallen way short on scrutinizing deforestation risks, as I reported in February. That needs to change. Rant over, I promise. Want an early view into my weekly rants? Subscribe to the VERGE Weekly newsletter, and follow me on Twitter: @greentechlady . Pull Quote What we’ve seen lately is tree seed source being destroyed by usually hot and long-burning fires, making it difficult for forests to fully regenerate. Topics Carbon Removal Forestry Wildlife Deforestation VERGE 20 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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USDA closes Tiger King zoo for animal welfare violations

August 25, 2020 by  
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This week brought more drama involving the human cast of the popular “Tiger King” series but hopefully some peace for the tigers themselves. Time is up for the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Garvin County, Oklahoma, which is now officially closed to the public after the USDA cited multiple animal welfare violations. The park became infamous when Netflix debuted its “Tiger King” documentary series in March. The show’s behind-the-scenes look at big cat owners was wildly popular, garnering 34.1 million views in the series’ first 10 days after release. “Tiger King” introduced the viewing public to Joe Exotic, former owner of the park, who was sentenced to 22 years in prison for killing five tigers, abusing other animals and trying to hire somebody to assassinate Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue. Related: “Tiger King” drama overshadows abuse of captive tigers in the U.S. But in April, a month after “Tiger King” rocketed to fame, the Humane Society of the United States released footage showing that Exotic’s successor at Greater Wynnewood, Jeffery Lowe, was also abusing tigers. Federal judge Scott L. Palk responded by revoking Lowe’s exhibitor license and giving him 120 days to remove the tigers and vacate the premises. That 120 days is up this week. Palk also granted Baskin control of the 16 acres of land that housed the infamous zoo as part of a $1 million trademark dispute Baskin had filed against the Greater Wynnewood Development Group. Lowe denied any wrongdoing. On a Facebook post, he accused the USDA of “false accusations” against him. He claimed the agency was “folding to pressure” from PETA . “The ‘Tiger King’ phenomenon has definitely changed our lives in many ways,” Lowe said . “It has brought us more attention than any human deserves, good and bad. It has and probably will continue to make us a target of every nutjob and animal rights loon in the world, but we are prepared.” Via VegNews and Yahoo! Image via Capri23auto

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How to make a mask with fabric to wear or donate

April 20, 2020 by  
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Crafters began making fabric masks when the public learned that COVID-19 was causing a major shortage of personal protective equipment. But since the CDC changed its recommendation on April 3 to urge that everyone wears a mask when leaving the house, sewing machines around the world have been working harder than ever. Here’s what you need to know if you plan to make fabric masks to wear or to donate. “The efforts of home sewers are a beautiful expression of the desire to help our community and contribute their special skills,” said Erum Ilyas , board-certified dermatologist and founder of Montgomery Dermatology, LLC in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. However, textiles are not tightly woven enough to fully protect against the virus. “They are primarily designed to block bacterial spread given the risks these present in wounds during surgical procedures. Viral particles are much smaller than bacteria and simply escape through these textiles quite easily.” So while masks are a useful additional precaution against coronavirus , crafters should know upfront that cloth masks are insufficient for first responders, who need N-95 masks. Still, many medical professionals are wearing cloth masks over the N-95 masks. Everybody else should wear cloth masks in combination with social distancing and frequent hand-washing. Masks for donation Before you rev up your sewing machine and start stitching masks, figure out where you’re going to donate your finished products. Organizations of all sizes have popped up around the country to give home sewers guidance on materials, designs and delivery. Related: How to volunteer during COVID-19 “I got involved with Mask Match after my classmate heard about it on a podcast,” said Briana Corkill, a medical student in Phoenix. “It seemed like a great way to be helpful from home, especially since all of my clinical volunteer work has been put on hold.” Mask Match is a volunteer-run organization that accepts donations of high-filtration masks (N95, P95, R95 and KN95), surgical masks and fabric masks and delivers them wherever they are needed in the U.S. and Canada. If you want to donate homemade fabric masks, you must follow Mask Match’s guidance on materials and design. Other efforts are more localized. Vanderbilt University Medical Center is accepting hand-sewn masks, but only if people can deliver them in person in Nashville. However, its guidelines for making masks for children and adults are useful to people everywhere. Heide Davis, an Oregon-based artist, joined a Facebook group called Crafters Against Covid-19 PDX, which collects masks from home sewers. The group donates the masks to the Multnomah County Health Department, which distributes the non-medical grade masks to nursing homes, care homes and hospitals (for patient use). Davis, who collects secondhand and vintage fabric, pondered her choices. “I was a little unsure about what fabric I had that would be suitable,” she said. Fortunately, she heard that local couture designer Sloane White had started a mask production line. “She’d already cut out the masks and needed help sewing them together,” Davis said. “She gave me a bag of fabric that was already precut, washed, everything. And some elastic. And it was very lovely and generous and saved me from having to find the fabric.” Davis donated nearly 50 masks to the Multnomah County Health Department, plus another 15 for friends and family. Working with precut, partly sewn fabric, it still took about 8 hours for Davis to sew her donated masks. “You should know how to use your machine,” she said. “But it doesn’t take any more than basic sewing skills.” Making a simple mask Choosing the right fabric is an important decision. Ilyas referred to a 2013 Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness study that evaluated different household materials to determine how much each could filter particles and block the spread of influenza. “This study showed that cotton /polyester blends tend to be the most effective out of household materials while still maintaining breathability,” Ilyas explained. “This type of textile can be found in most T-shirts or pillowcases around the house. Despite rating the best in terms of blocking viruses and still maintaining comfort, these materials still only block about 70% of viruses. This makes them ideally suited for community and low-risk settings while still maintaining social distancing. It’s an added level of security to help minimize the risk of viral spread.” What if you lack a sewing machine but you want a mask for your own use? “Simple is best here,” Ilyas said. “This does not have to be complicated and should not be a reason to go to the store while we are urging everyone to stay home. I tend to recommend taking an old T-shirt or pillowcase and cutting a strip of fabric about 3-4 inches wide. Take two rubber bands and pull one along each side. Fold the fabric in and pull the rubber bands over your ears to hold in place.” Rubber bands are probably not the most comfortable thing to hold your mask in place, but they will do in a pinch for short jaunts to the store. You can also use yarn for a more comfortable fit if you have it on hand. The CDC posted several options on its site, including one for people who sew, a no-sew mask made from a T-shirt and a simple bandana mask. If possible, Davis recommends machine-sewing over hand-sewing . “ Machine stitches probably would hold up in the wash a little bit better than hand-done stitches. Because you want to be able to wash this thing a lot when you’re using it.” Wearing and caring for your mask Wearing a mask takes some getting used to and may feel uncomfortable or irritating. “Remember that when you use a mask, every time you manipulate it, touch it, move it around, your hands come close to your face and mouth,” Ilyas said. “Sometimes when people wear a mask, they find themselves touching their face far more frequently than normal. If you wear glasses, there is a lot of getting used to when it comes to wearing a mask as your glasses are sure to get foggy. Practice wearing your mask around the house first to get a sense of how you feel in it.” Ilyas suggested a gentle skin cleanser and nightly moisturizer to offset the effects of wearing a face mask for long periods of time. Related: How to properly dispose contaminated gloves, masks, wipes and more Whenever you go outside your house, your mask is accumulating additional germs. Frequent washing is important. “If you are using a fabric with a cotton/polyester blend, it should not be a problem to machine wash and tumble dry,” Ilyas said. “The key is to use the hot water setting on your washing machine, as viruses do require high temperatures to be killed in the water environment.” Ilyas mentioned the creepy fact that some viruses can live on the walls of your washing machine. To be extra careful, she recommends running an extra rinse cycle with just bleach to clean the washing machine walls after washing any clothes that are high risk for viral particles. Despite expert opinions that masks provide only a little extra protection from the virus, they still serve as an excellent visual reminder to stay a safe distance from others, leave the house only as necessary and stop touching your face. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat, Pixabay and Unsplash

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How to make a mask with fabric to wear or donate

It’s time for Silicon Valley to start buying electric commuter buses

January 14, 2020 by  
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Many big Bay Area companies such as Facebook and Genentech use large fleets of private commuter buses. This year more of these vehicles will run on batteries.

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It’s time for Silicon Valley to start buying electric commuter buses

It’s time for Silicon Valley to start buying electric commuter buses

January 14, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Comments Off on It’s time for Silicon Valley to start buying electric commuter buses

Many big Bay Area companies such as Facebook and Genentech use large fleets of private commuter buses. This year more of these vehicles will run on batteries.

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It’s time for Silicon Valley to start buying electric commuter buses

Hey big tech, history is watching you

September 19, 2019 by  
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While Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and Google are progressive on some fronts, their overall corporate strategies to avert climate change have sketchy.

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Hey big tech, history is watching you

Police seize over 10,000 animals in global crackdown on wildlife trade

July 12, 2019 by  
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What do 4,300 birds, 1,500 reptiles, 10,000 turtles and tortoises, 23 primates, 70 truckloads of timber and 30 big cats all have in common? No, they’re not the residents of a new zoo — all of these critical plants and animals were seized in a major international operation that cracked down on wildlife smuggling. Throughout the month of June, international police and customs authorities united for ‘Operation Thunderball’ and rescued an astonishing number of dolphins, sharks, lions, tigers, birds, tortoises, parakeets, finches, ivory and rhino horns. The operation was carried out in more than 100 countries and hopefully dealt a serious blow to the $19 billion dollar illegal wildlife trafficking industry. Over 600 suspects have been identified, with 21 arrests in Spain and three arrests in Uruguay. Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of the World Wildlife Fund, said Operation Thunderball “underscores why international cooperation is so important to addressing this deadly criminal activity.” Related: These AI-powered cameras can sense poachers and save wildlife Wildlife trafficking is a major industry that not only hurts the environment and targets endangered species , but it also supports a far-reaching, violent criminal network. Much of the illegal wildlife trade has shifted online to an internet-based black market. For example, in April of this year, Indonesian police officers detained smugglers who admitted to using Facebook for selling Komodo dragons. International animal rights advocates, police and conservationists agree that Operation Thunderball was a massive success for the fight against the illegal animal trade. But some argue that national authorities now need to pick up where the international authorities left off and fully prosecute the detained criminals. This will help set an example and further debilitate the illegal network. Susan Lieberman, vice president for international policy at the Wildlife Conservation Society, said, “This massive disruption of criminal networks is key to saving endangered wildlife across the globe, but seizures and arrests are only the first step — governments now must follow up with strong, meaningful prosecutions.” + Interpol Via New York Times Images via © INTERPOL

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Police seize over 10,000 animals in global crackdown on wildlife trade

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