Hard truths about tough times

November 18, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Hard truths about tough times Kathrin Winkler Wed, 11/18/2020 – 02:00 I’m struggling. Back in the day, I had a reputation as someone who always offered to my team a positive interpretation or hopeful outcome to supposed bad news. A Pollyanna, perhaps. It wasn’t deliberate. In fact, I didn’t realize I was doing it until a senior engineer on my team told me, “You’re always so [expletive deleted] positive, it makes me want to puke.”  I wasn’t trying to spin the truth, either. When there is change — that is, nearly always — people often imagine the worst possible outcomes and the most deplorable motives by those in power. People help bring one another down as they wallow in the fear and anger, and sap their own and each other’s energy. I was just trying to get people to consider alternative possibilities, to help them find their motivation, stay focused and know that their work was valued. Play devil’s advocate to their negativity. And maybe convince myself, a bit, too.  My husband thought the accusation was funny, though. Because when I was at home and I wasn’t feeling the weight of responsibility for the team, I gave my own negativism free rein. The angel on one shoulder went to work; the devil on the other came home. The thing is, I’m home all the time now.  I’m impatient with those ‘fighting the good fight.’ They (you!) are undeniably heroes. But it’s not enough. And we’re not often telling the whole truth. I’m not sure how to characterize exactly how I feel. Impatience is a big part of it. We’re obviously not doing enough fast enough to address climate change and systemic societal issues. I can see evidence with my own eyes every time I walk out the door (masked, of course) and encounter the homeless struggling on the street. But I’m also impatient with those “fighting the good fight.” They (you!) are undeniably heroes. But it’s not enough. And we’re not often telling the whole truth. That’s creating a cognitive dissonance in me that is literally keeping me up at night. I know we have to show optimism, but I also see us avoiding the bare facts. People talk about “stopping” (or worse, “stopping and reversing”) climate change. The more circumspect just say “addressing” climate change. But in addition to the climate damage that already has occurred, more is locked in even if we were to stop emitting today. Will the next generation feel betrayed if we “win” the fight and things keep getting worse anyway? People do need hope and to feel that they have agency — that what they do matters. Every degree of global temperature rise that we prevent reduces the long-term risk. No matter what, I know we cannot stop acting and encouraging others to join us. I don’t know how to square this circle.  As for agency — I’m feeling pretty helpless. Not that I tell people that. I absolutely mean it when I passionately express how important it is that they vote, make thoughtful decisions about what to buy and from whom, think about the sources of their food, raise their voices against injustice. But it just doesn’t feel like enough. Once I get going on a task, I’m all in. But when I settle down to work, I find it hard to get started. That’s just me, of course. There are people out there doing critically important things — innovating in technology and business, running for office, motivating others and changing minds. Thank goodness for them. But we’re not all extraordinary, and I imagine I’m not alone.  I am also experiencing huge frustration from the Manichaean nature of public discourse on, well, everything. Truth is gray, but we only discuss black and white. Both sides tick me off. Op-ed pieces in the Wall Street Journal interpret reduced emissions during the most stringent lockdown as proof that major personal sacrifice is required if we (“the greenies”) act on climate. The sustainability community argues that we can make the changes we need without sacrificing. As usual, the truth is somewhere in between (depending, I suppose, on how you define “sacrifice” — and “happy,” for that matter). For me, the pandemic has highlighted what’s really valuable: human connection; love; health; safety. But yeah, there are things people will have to give up. They are mostly things that won’t truly make them happy in the long run, but that can feel pretty good about in the moment (flying off to the tropics, buying a new car, chomping down on a juicy burger, going to the movies), and relinquishing some of those will feel like a sacrifice for many.  Yet, I’m disgusted with selfishness. There’s a woman in our building who complains that, when the sun is at a certain angle, she can’t get the temperature in her unit below 71 degrees Fahrenheit. Climate change is making air conditioning a matter of life and death in some parts of the world, but 71 degrees in Seattle? Sheesh. Talk about privilege. Maybe I’m just afraid to be optimistic; afraid of a huge disappointment. Scared. Not that I’m not hopeful — I fervently hope things will move, and move quickly, in the right direction. I’m just reluctant to expect it. The political situation isn’t helping. I don’t know the answers. I hate not knowing the answers. It makes me grumpy.  I do find real moments of joy. They come from my friends, my colleagues, my family and nature. From humor and beauty. From gratitude for all that I have been given in life. So, I am coping. I hope you are, too.  Pull Quote I’m impatient with those ‘fighting the good fight.’ They (you!) are undeniably heroes. But it’s not enough. And we’re not often telling the whole truth. Topics Leadership Health & Well-being Featured Column Getting Real Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

Read more:
Hard truths about tough times

Low-impact geodesic dome hotel immerses guests in Patagonian nature

October 29, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on Low-impact geodesic dome hotel immerses guests in Patagonian nature

A “zero garbage” approach, recycled wood construction and low-impact energy systems combine at the Huemules Reserva de Montaña , a three-star geodesic dome hotel nestled inside a Patagonian nature reserve in Esquel, Argentina. Created with sustainability in mind, the eco-resort was built on a remote, 6,000-hectare site owned by the Estancia Huemules group. After converting the land into a mountain reserve, the family-owned company oversaw the development of low-impact geodesic dome suites constructed by local craftspeople with natural materials. Previously used as cattle pasture for over 100 years, the 6,000-hectare mountain reserve that is now home to Huemules Reserva de Montaña is celebrated for its magnificent canyons, valleys and prairies. In redeveloping the land for hospitality, the Estancia Huemules group chose geodesic domes for lodging due to the structures’ durability and resistance to the climatic extremes in Patagonia. The geodesic domes were also selected for their low impact — both visually and physically — on the environment and were strategically placed on natural clearings close to existing trails. Related: Explore the world’s driest desert at these eco-friendly geodomes As part of the eco-resort’s commitment to sustainability, the hotel uses an advanced sewage treatment system to clean waste before it is discharged into the environment as well as an energy system that follows the region’s eternal hydrological cycle. Locally sourced recycled wood was used for constructing decks, kitchen and furniture, while dead wood is used in energy-efficient, low-consumption stoves. Organic waste is composted onsite for use in the vegetable garden. Plastics are used as little as possible; preference is given to biodegradable products and recyclable containers. “We believe in Nature’s rhythms: That’s why your experience will be unique, in silence,” the eco-resort owners said in a statement. “But at the same time, it will be plentiful: plenty of activities and flavors, plenty of tones like the sound of the wind, the creeks and the birds, and plenty of movement and quietness.” + Huemules Reserva de Montaña Photography by Addison Jones via Huemules Reserva de Montaña

Original post: 
Low-impact geodesic dome hotel immerses guests in Patagonian nature

BIG unveils sustainable, 3D-printed lunar igloos for Moon exploration

October 29, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on BIG unveils sustainable, 3D-printed lunar igloos for Moon exploration

As part of its Plan for Sustained Lunar Exploration and Development , NASA has teamed up with architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group , advanced construction developer ICON and SEArch+ (Space Exploration Architecture) to design Project Olympus, a system of space-based construction to support future exploration of the Moon. Developed with technology that ICON submitted to NASA’s 2018 3D Printed Habitat Challenge, the proposed lunar habitats would be 3D-printed using robotic, zero-waste construction for a reduced carbon footprint.  Bjarke Ingels Group is no stranger to extraterrestrial architecture — Project Olympus is the firm’s second project in outer space after its Mars Science City proposal, which is currently being turned into a prototype in Dubai. Much like the Mars building project, BIG’s Project Olympus proposal also addresses eight of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. According to the Artemis program, NASA plans to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024 for lunar exploration and research, which will inform future missions to Mars. Related: NASA Mars Habitat Challenge winner is a 3D-printed pod made of biodegradable materials The ambitious Project Olympus will cover a wide array of architecture, from landing pads to habitats, that would be built with robust construction rather than metal or inflatable structures. The team will work in collaboration with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama to test lunar soil simulant with ICON’s groundbreaking robotic technologies and develop prototype elements. The goal will be the creation of the first permanent structure on the Moon that’s not only capable of withstanding the hostile lunar environment but would also become a learning opportunity for creating more sustainable construction on Earth as well. “To explain the power of architecture, ‘formgiving’ is the Danish word for design, which literally means to give form to that which has not yet been given form,” Bjarke Ingels said. “This becomes fundamentally clear when we venture beyond Earth and begin to imagine how we are going to build and live on entirely new worlds. With ICON we are pioneering new frontiers — both materially, technologically and environmentally. The answers to our challenges on Earth very well might be found on the Moon.”  + Bjarke Ingels Group Images via Bjarke Ingels Group

Continued here: 
BIG unveils sustainable, 3D-printed lunar igloos for Moon exploration

Startup Phood tackles food waste at the top of the food chain

October 29, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Startup Phood tackles food waste at the top of the food chain

Startup Phood tackles food waste at the top of the food chain Jesse Klein Thu, 10/29/2020 – 01:00 Picture your local salad bar either at your school, grocery store or office. There are many options between the greens, toppings and dressings. At the end of each day, it’s the job of a kitchen worker to perform a “shrink analysis” on each ingredient — manually identifying, weighing and recording the leftover volume of each item. By comparing that number to initial inventory amounts, the kitchen tracks its food waste.  The process is a big hassle for the prepared food sector, but food waste is an even bigger problem for the planet, accounting for 8 percent of greenhouse gas emissions according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Phood CEO Luc Dang hopes to solve both.  Phood’s main product, PhoodX, is a combination scale and camera that uses artificial intelligence and enhanced analytics to cut down on the time it takes to record data about the leftovers. The system uses that information to recommend changes within foodservice operations aimed at reducing food waste.  The technology is most appropriate in places where items are sold by weight, such as dining halls or the prepared food sections of grocery stores. The Phood system is integrated directly with the inventory system so it can use the data to calculate waste compared to the sold volume. Phood’s devices have been used in dining halls at Yale and Rhode Island School of Design, and in K-12 cafeterias. The company also has devices installed at 10 Whole Foods locations in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.  Even before Dang was infiltrating the foodservice industry of the North Atlantic region, he had a deep understanding of the agricultural supply chain from growing up on a small Connecticut farm. After working a few years in the financial sector, he read a statistic estimating that 40 percent of food is wasted. Dang couldn’t believe that headline: During his childhood on farms and near restaurants, he hadn’t noticed anything like that kind of waste. But when Dang called friends and restaurants that used to buy from his family farm, they told him they composted everything but didn’t and couldn’t actually track waste empirically.  Is it an operational management issue? Is it overproduction? Is it a weekend or weekday issue? Or expiration issues? Or a spoilage issue? We can identify each of those key areas and really drill down and cut back. According to Dang, the time-consuming, arduous and convoluted traditional method of tracking food waste is standard in about 85 percent of foodservice operations. The headline was right: According to data from Phood, most foodservice organizations throw away between 35 and 65 percent of their ingredient purchases.  According to Dang, Phood can reduce that food waste by 50 percent with a bonus of saving the kitchen staff time. The company said the algorithm, trained using millions of food items recognized by Amazon Rekognition and Google Cloud Vision, can identify food items with 98 percent accuracy in two to three seconds.  Aside from the relationships mentioned earlier, Phood recently started a partnership with two large food giants, Cargill and Gordon Food Service, which will see the system used in more kitchens, giving it access to more data to improve its artificial intelligence. The real value of Phood’s device isn’t the time-saving AI, it’s the data harvested from the device, which helps uncover habits that contribute to a business’s food waste issue, Dang said. “Is it an operational management issue? Is it overproduction? Is it a weekend or weekday issue? Or expiration issues? Or a spoilage issue?” he said. “We can identify each of those key areas and really drill down and cut back.” Many foodservice businesses tout their composting policies and donation rates for leftover food, but that doesn’t really address the bigger issue — wasting food in the first place. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency , composting isn’t much better than sending food to the landfill. Phood is helping companies attack the problem at the top of the food chain — source reduction — by helping operations become better informed about consumption habits. According to Dang, many parts of an industrial kitchen are siloed. The person ordering ingredients is different from the chef doing the cooking, which is not the same person recording the leftovers at the end of the day. And rarely are these individuals informed about the details of each other’s step in the process, so the purchasing and production habits never get adjusted.  Phood becomes a centralized system that connects each step. Dang suggests a three-week period of baseline analysis when customers first start using the system, but often they start making changes to their ordering earlier, he said.  “They start leveraging those insights and changing their ordering by week two,” Dang said. “We’ve seen waste reductions occur from the first week.” The food and restaurant business has extremely thin margins, and few companies have had access to this degree of detail before. Aside from cutting back on waste, Phood can help operations save money, which is often the impetus for an investment. Because source reduction has such strong economic benefits, the sustainability aspect gets to tag along. According to Dang, Phood can save up to 10 percent on annual food costs.  Pull Quote Is it an operational management issue? Is it overproduction? Is it a weekend or weekday issue? Or expiration issues? Or a spoilage issue? We can identify each of those key areas and really drill down and cut back. Topics Food Systems Food & Agriculture Information Technology Food Waste Food & Beverage Artificial Intelligence Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Phood’s all-in-one scale and AI can identify food waste and make recommendations to kitchens to save money and reduce waste.  

Here is the original post:
Startup Phood tackles food waste at the top of the food chain

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

October 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

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

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

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

Love trees? Prioritize wildfire restoration and fighting deforestation

October 22, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Love trees? Prioritize wildfire restoration and fighting deforestation

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

Read the original post:
Love trees? Prioritize wildfire restoration and fighting deforestation

Decoding the Disinformation Machine

October 21, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Decoding the Disinformation Machine

Decoding the Disinformation Machine Suzanne Shelton Wed, 10/21/2020 – 01:30 The Saturday before President Donald Trump got COVID-19, I bought a desk at one of those warehouse furniture stores — one of the ones with the annoying jingle that gets stuck in your head despite your best efforts to the contrary. Buying the desk was my last bit of acceptance that working from home was officially a long-haul thing and the old farm table I’d been using wasn’t really ergonomically designed for working on a laptop all day long. While the sales guy was writing up my ticket he complained about his mask, which was actually around his neck, and said, “Thankfully, this will all be over in November.” As someone who spends the bulk of her time trying to understand what’s going on in people’s heads in order to best craft sustainability stories that they’ll be open to hearing, I took the bait. “What’s magical about November?” I said. “The election,” he replied. So I said, “You think a U.S. election is going to change a global pandemic?” With absolute confidence, he looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Yep.” Now, let’s put judgment aside, and let’s also put aside musings around how his view might have changed once he heard Trump had COVID. What I’m interested in is that a person of seemingly reasonable intelligence totally bought the idea that the pandemic was some kind of political play — a ploy by the Democrats to get Trump out of office, perhaps. How were the messages and stories constructed and served up to him that caused him to believe that? And what can we in the sustainability realm learn from that? How can we decode that approach so we can take a similar angle in convincing people to take action on climate change and plastic waste? I posed these questions to my firm’s leadership team, and I think they were concerned I’d gone to the dark side. Their POV was that the messages that guy received were all lies and conspiracy theories and we can’t adopt anything from that for sustainability communications. I wholeheartedly agree — I am not looking for how we can lie our way into getting people to take action on solving our massive environmental and social challenges. But what’s happening in the Disinformation Machine is clearly effective, and I wonder what we can learn from it that we can use. I’m putting this out there because I’m genuinely interested in thoughts on this one. Here are the two I have thus far: Ultimately, we all need to remember that ‘saving the planet’ isn’t about saving the planet. It’s about saving people. 1. We need to make our messaging personal. To me, one thing the Disinformation Machine does so well is to couch stories/theories in very personal terms, making whatever the thing is — the left, the right, the pandemic, health care, climate legislation — a personal affront that must be dealt with. In the sustainability arena we need to do a better job of personalizing the impacts of climate change and plastic waste — what does it mean to you and your family? How will climate change, deforestation and plastics in the ocean hurt your family, and how will the solutions benefit your family? For corporate storytelling, we also should personalize it — how will a company’s specific actions on climate make your life infinitely better? Ultimately, we all need to remember that “saving the planet” isn’t about saving the planet. It’s about saving people. The more we connect our messaging to what’s in it for people, the more effective we’ll be. 2. We need to stop weaponizing the word “science.” For years, environmentalists have pointed to “the science” to make their point about the existence and perils of climate change. Indeed, the science is clear. But I’m afraid that line of messaging has come off as “We are smart enough to understand the science and you disbelievers are not.” That, of course, puts people on opposite sides and draws an even bigger chasm to cross in getting everybody working together to solve the problem. (It’s potentially also very threatening and insulting to people of deep religious faith, evoking old arguments of evolution vs. creation.) Trump turned the weaponizing of the word up a notch when pressed by California legislators about the role of climate change in exacerbating wildfires, saying, “Science doesn’t know.” In effect, he flipped the argument to say, “You science people are the dumb ones … the rest of us know what’s really going on here.” Bottom line, trying to convince people that climate change is real because science says so, even though that’s true, is not an effective messaging strategy. In our May polling, we asked, “How much trust, in general, do you have in the following,” and listed 16 information sources. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Congress was in next-to-last place, very slightly ahead of strangers. Scientists, though, were the third-most-trusted source, just behind friends and family. So, my recommendation is that you let a scientist deliver your message, but don’t use phrases like “the science says” or “we believe in science.” I get it that that’s a tall order. I get completely exasperated and gobsmacked by people who refuse to believe what science keeps telling us. I’m just here to tell you it’s not a winning messaging strategy. We can and should find other words. Those are my two initial insights into decoding the Disinformation Machine. I’d love your input. I think this could make a great “how to” guide one day if we can figure out how to apply the lessons with integrity. Pull Quote Ultimately, we all need to remember that ‘saving the planet’ isn’t about saving the planet. It’s about saving people. Topics Marketing & Communication Climate Change Public Opinion Collective Insight Speaking Sustainably Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

Read more from the original source:
Decoding the Disinformation Machine

The durable Solo New York backpack can accompany all of your adventures

September 28, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on The durable Solo New York backpack can accompany all of your adventures

Back in July, Inhabitat introduced readers to the Solo New York brand, a sustainable fashion company making bags out of recycled plastic water bottles. Since then, we have had the opportunity to use the popular Re:vive Mini Backpack ourselves, testing it out on more than a few outdoor adventures. With the environmental tolls of fast fashion becoming more and more apparent, sustainability has certainly become a buzzword in the textile and fashion industries. Solo New York’s recycled fabric production starts with discarded plastic bottles. Through an environmentally friendly process, the plastic bottles are finely shredded and re-spun into durable and lightweight recycled PET polyester yarn. According to Solo New York, this recycled material reduces energy use by 50%, water use by 20% and air pollution by 60%. Related: Each purchase of this bag made from recycled plastic helps plant trees The Re:vive Mini Backpack is just the right size for a day trip. We took one on a hike down to McClures Beach in Point Reyes, California in the height of summer. Despite its seemingly small size, it easily held a small beach towel, a large water bottle, keys, wallet, sunglasses and a tube of sunscreen with room to spare. The short fabric key clip built into the top of the bag helped keep us from digging around in the bottom for keys (always a plus), and the bag itself was so lightweight that it was easy to forget it was even on. When a sandwich mishap produced a small stain on the outside of the backpack , a simple dose of spot-cleaning made it good as new — a great characteristic if you plan on using the backpack in your everyday life. Another feature we noticed was the versatility of the design; the heathered gray material on the outside and the subtle black camo on the inside are just as appropriate for a big city subway or the office as they are for exploring a national park. Apart from aiding our fight against plastic pollution, this backpack also proved itself as a great conversation starter. Once people found out that it was made from recycled plastic bottles , most couldn’t believe that the fabric could be so soft and similar to other popular textiles like cotton or polyester. The sturdiness of the plastic fiber is apparent in its durability as well, so it is easy to tell that the bags are designed to last a long time. The mini backpack measures 14″ x 9″ x 4″ and weighs only 0.57 pounds. Priced at $24.99, it is affordable, too. Along with the aforementioned key clip, there are also adjustable shoulder straps and a front zippered pocket to hold more quick-grab items like cellphones and wallets. According to the company, the first run of the Re:cycled Collection was responsible for recycling more than 90,000 plastic bottles, and the line is still continuing to expand with new bags. As of September 2020, the collection features four backpack versions priced from $24.99 to $64.99, a laptop sleeve, two carry-on-size luggage pieces, a briefcase, a tote and a duffel. Solo New York was founded by John Ax, who arrived to the U.S. in 1940 with his family. They only had $100 and the clothes on their backs. As a skilled craftsman, he began rounding up leather pieces and scraps that were destined for the trash from local tanneries to turn into sellable goods. His small company, which eventually became known as the United States Luggage Company, thrived for decades before rebranding as Solo New York. Today, the company has already set solid, transparent goals to become even more sustainable in the future. The goal is to eliminate plastic from all packaging by the end of 2020. Hang tags are already printed on 100% recycled and biodegradable material with a recycled cotton string and a completely biodegradable clasp. The Solo New York headquarters on Long Island takes advantage of New York’s average of 224 sunny days per year with 1,400 rooftop solar panels (producing enough energy to power 87 homes). Plus, the company has a zero-tolerance plastic water bottle policy for its employees, instead offering filtered smart fountains and water dispensers throughout its locations. Solo New York has also partnered with the United States National Forest Foundation, pledging to help aid in reforestation by planting one tree per every bag purchased from the Re:cycled collection. Customers also have the option of taking the “Green Pledge” and promising to say no to plastic bottles for the following 30 days. For every pledge signed, Solo NY will plant a second tree. Overall, we think any of the bags from this sustainable collection would be a great gift option for the Earth-lover in your life, especially for the upcoming holiday season. Even for someone who hasn’t found their stride in sustainability quite yet, the gift of a Re:cycled Collection bag or backpack is sure to be pretty eye-opening as to how far recycling can really go. Even better, if more people pivot to eco-friendly bags, that means we can help cut down on the number of plastic items being manufactured and distributed globally, leading to fewer toxic chemicals released into the atmosphere, less resources spent and less waste produced overall. + Solo New York Images via Katherine Gallagher / Inhabitat Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by Solo New York. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.

The rest is here: 
The durable Solo New York backpack can accompany all of your adventures

A charming timber train station highlights nature and play in China

September 17, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on A charming timber train station highlights nature and play in China

In the outskirts of Jiaxing, China, a nature reserve has been transformed into a multipurpose recreational zone known as Ginkgo Swan Lake. Named after the inclusion of a ginkgo forest and a human-made lake, the family-friendly park features a small train track that loops around the grounds. Hangzhou-based architecture firm Hexia Architects recently completed Ginkgo Swan Lake’s second train station, which comprises a pair of eco-friendly timber buildings designed to highlight the outdoor landscape. Located in the Xiusui New District of Jiaxing in an area rich in both ecological resources and traditional culture, Ginkgo Swan Lake was created to celebrate a harmonious coexistence of ecology, nature and art . The park comprises a gridded ginkgo forest, a train track that loops around the lake, an art museum, an ecological bird island and a water village. Hexia Architects, which has been involved with multiple aspects of the park project, recently completed the second train station that serves as a multifunctional space for visitors of all ages. Related: Tiered timber tea house embraces a Chinese ginkgo forest The train station consists of two timber-and-glass buildings. To the south of the train tracks is the building with a reception and information desk that is flanked by amphitheater -like seating on either side and the main bathroom facilities behind it. The second floor includes child-friendly spaces including sunken ball pits, a small library and cloud-like seating. The building on the other side of the train tracks features a more flexible layout for pop-up stores, exhibitions and other gatherings. A pair of curved white staircases — dubbed the “White Towers” — lead up to two loft spaces for overlooking the double-height hall. Instead of steel or concrete, the architects opted to build the train station buildings with timber to reduce the carbon emissions of the project. All the technical equipment, such as the HVAC, are skillfully hidden to keep the focus on the exposed wooden structures. The architects explained, “We made two large space with wood structure to break a common misunderstanding in China that a wooden building is either an ancient building or a small building.” + Hexia Architects Photography by Gushang Culture via Hexia Architects

Read the original here: 
A charming timber train station highlights nature and play in China

The daily life of a tree farmer with One Tree Planted

August 21, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on The daily life of a tree farmer with One Tree Planted

Trees make the world a better place for humans by providing shade, sequestering CO2 , intercepting airborne particles, aiding respiratory health and adding great beauty to this planet we call home. Because trees do so much for us, planting more of them is an eco-strategy touted by many environmental organizations. But what’s it really like spending your workday growing, planting and caring for trees? To find out, we talked to a Zach Clark-Lee, a professional tree farmer who works with the environmental charity One Tree Planted. Founded in 2014, One Tree Planted works on reforestation projects in North America, South America, Asia, Africa and Australia. Some of its goals are to restore forests after natural disasters, create jobs and enhance biodiversity . The organization figures that it costs approximately $1 to grow and plant a tree, from land prep to maintaining and monitoring the planted tree. So if you have a dollar, you can sponsor a tree through One Tree Planted’s website. Or learn more about planting some trees yourself. Related: Nonprofit plants 80,000 trees in Kenya and Rwanda Here’s what Clark-Lee had to say about working with One Tree Planted. Inhabitat: What and where is your job, and how did you become affiliated with One Tree Planted? Clark-Lee: I work for the Colorado State Forest Service Seedling Nursery in Fort Collins, Colorado as a tree farmer . I took a tour of the nursery while in school, and I immediately fell in love with their mission and passion. I started as a volunteer in 2014 for about 4-5 weeks and then was offered a seasonal position. One year later, I started training to become the container production supervisor. Now, this is not the only hat that I wear. I’m the volunteer coordinator for the nursery, a licensed drone flier, tree planter and tour guide. Giving tours is how I became affiliated with One Tree Planted. I connected with their mission and values right away and then started growing trees for their vast projects. I’ve gotten a significant number of trees in the ground by working with One Tree Planted and have connected with some fantastic people along the way. Inhabitat: What was your motivation behind getting involved in the industry? Clark-Lee: To be completely honest, my motivation at first was completely selfish. I just wanted to be able to work outside. The more I learned during my hands-on experience, the more I realized how important my work and the work of the nursery was. My motivation adapted quickly. While I still love the fact that I get to work outside, I’m driven by a purpose, a want and a need to make our world a better place. Ultimately, I want to ensure my kids and future generations all over the world have a thriving planet to call home. Inhabitat: How many trees do you cultivate yearly? Clark-Lee: We sell roughly 500,000 native trees , perennials, shrubs and grasses every year. These plants have so many different applications such as going to post-fire/flood affected areas, building habitats, erosion control, creating living snow fences and windbreaks and more. Inhabitat: What’s a typical day like for you? Clark-Lee: I arrive at 6:45 in the morning and get our crew rolling for the day. We may be seeding, transplanting, weeding or getting orders ready for distribution. Every day that I’m on the farm, I get to nurture our plants to help others and Mother Nature. The days are long, and sometimes more challenging than others, but I experience a constant rewarding feeling from my work. A feeling that makes me want to get up and do it again day after day. Home is an interesting concept for me. The nursery is really my second residence, and after a long day on the 130-acre farm, I get to go to my  actual  home and spend time with my family. Inhabitat: What happens after you’ve grown the trees, and where do they go? Clark-Lee: We grow and sell trees for many different reasons. Some of our plants are going to areas that may have been impacted by devastating fires or floods . Some may be for habitat rehabilitation and animal corridors that house birds, lions, bobcats, pollinators and more. We also have specific projects for a number of different conservation efforts, like helping reservations restore their land or helping farmers/landowners with windbreaks or living snow fences to better manage their properties. Inhabitat: Do you plant trees yourself? Why? Clark-Lee: Yes, we plant the trees ourselves, mainly to ensure the success, health and beauty of the tree planting. We want our plants to help Colorado and surrounding states be as healthy and prosperous as we all know they can be. We also plant species on our property for seed increase, when seed may be hard to get your hands on. Inhabitat: Where have you planted trees? Clark-Lee: I have started my own plantings on the “High Park” burn scar, just outside of Fort Collins. I saw this site and realized that not many people were planting there. So, I took it upon myself to change that. With the help of One Tree Planted, I was able to purchase the trees from the nursery and get started. Planting is a passion of mine, and I cannot wait for the pandemic to end so that I can return to the forest with my volunteers. Inhabitat: What wild animals have you seen in the field? Clark-Lee: I have seen amazing wildlife , like mountain lions, bobcats, eagles, hawks and owls. Inhabitat: What do you like the most about working in the industry? Clark-Lee: What I like most about working in the industry is the like-minded people I have the opportunity to connect with. Volunteers are truly a different type of breed — an amazing one! They are happy to get out in the hot sun and traverse all kinds of terrain just to put trees in the ground. Volunteers don’t do it for the money, they do it because they are passionate about the cause and want to help. Inhabitat: How long have you done this work, and how long do you plan to do it? Clark-Lee: I have been doing this work for almost 7 years now, and I don’t think I could be any happier doing anything else. I have been able to grow and plant trees for the world’s health and help others find their path in this industry. Inhabitat: What else should readers know about your work? Clark-Lee: Passion is the ultimate driver for my work. If you’re looking for ways to help fight climate change , or get involved in your own community, you can start with planting trees. Get out and volunteer for an hour or two, or 10 hours, or a whole week. Do it until passion slaps you across the face. You might discover something in you that you never knew you had. Inhabitat: What are your hopes for the future of forests, and how does your work contribute to that? Clark-Lee: I hope that I can pass my torch to the future generations with a smile and know that we are in safe hands. I hope that my passion rubs off on people from all walks of life. I want my work to instill hope in others. Trees are the answer, and don’t let anyone forget it. See professional tree planters in action in this video from One Tree Planted. + One Tree Planted Images via Jplenio , George Bakos and Siggy Nowak

Here is the original post: 
The daily life of a tree farmer with One Tree Planted

Next Page »

Bad Behavior has blocked 2813 access attempts in the last 7 days.