Fueled by chocolate: Ghana’s newest biofuel

April 26, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Fueled by chocolate: Ghana’s newest biofuel

Researchers in Ghana are testing a system that will turn cocoa into biofuel  — but don’t worry — it uses the green waste produced during harvest, so you can still eat all of the chocolate! The project is funded by the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom and will be tested in Ghana, one of the world’s largest producers of cocoa. Chocolate is a multi-billion-dollar international industry, with the bulk of cocoa coming from Africa. “Every ton of cocoa beans harvested generates 10 tons of cocoa pod husks,” says Jo Darkwa , professor of energy storage technologies at Nottingham and one of the project team leads. Husks are typically discarded during harvest after the beans are extracted. Usually, the husks are left to decompose on the cocoa plantation while the beans head to fermentation and drying facilities before they are turned into chocolate. Now, researchers have developed a system that will use the husks as feedstock to generate biofuel. The husks are processed into pellets, or bricks, that can burn in generators and produce “green” electricity. Related: Cargill announces plan to reduce deforestation from cocoa “Feasibility studies indicate that cocoa pod husks could be converted into valuable biofuels and become an important energy supply for rural areas that only have 15 percent coverage at present,” explained Professor Darkwa. The many benefits of cocoa fuel This initiative is not only an innovate green technology, it also has other secondary benefits: Increase access to electricity If successful, the project could contribute to the Ghanaian government’s pledge to ensure 100 percent of Ghanaians have access to electricity by 2030. Reduce deforestation and improve climate and human health Currently, 80 percent of households in Ghana use wood as their main source of fuel for cooking and heating water. This practice not only leads to widespread deforestation in order to harvest wood, but indoor air pollution from wooden stoves is one of the top four leading risk factors for death worldwide. Create jobs If successful, the biofuel system would need workers to collect, transport , treat and process cocoa pod husks, which would create additional jobs and provide income for rural communities. Cocoa as chocolate, cocoa as compost Since it is the beans that are used to make chocolate, the husks are simply bio-waste, and therefore the biofuel system would not take away from farmers ’ profits in any way— in fact it would augment the profitability of the entire cocoa pod. However, cocoa pod waste is an important source of nutrients for cocoa trees. During harvest, ripe cocoa pods are collected and piled throughout the plantation. When the farmers are ready to extract the beans, the pods are cracked open and usually left in a heap to decompose. When husks biodegrade, they are an incredibly rich source of nutrients that help trees grow, improve soil quality and reduce plant disease. Studies show that the decaying pods host beneficial fungi and microbiotics, so will farmers and their crops be losing out on natural fertilizer if they ship their husks off to biofuel systems? Farmers with the capacity to do so might collect and bring the husks to an on-site composting location, but most small farmers do not have the capacity to process or evenly distribute the nutrients from the pile of decomposing husks and rely on nature to take its course. Farmers who do maximize the use of the compost may prefer to continue to do so, however those without that ability now have the option to profit from electricity generation instead. Testing the system in Ghana and the world “Undoubtedly, provision of sustainable energy services through cocoa pod husks would go a long way towards improving the quality of lives and thus alleviate poverty in rural communities as well as fight against climate change,” Professor Darkwa told Climate News Network . The project team is expected to test a prototype of their system at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in July 2019. The plan is to design, build and operate a small-scale bio-power electricity generation unit that burns husks in a gasification system. Each system includes a gasifier, small generator, solar drier and pelletizer and costs approximately US $50,000. If the prototype is successful, the system could be replicated in other countries following additional feasibility studies. Via Climate News Network Images via Flickr ,  dghchocolatier

See the rest here:
Fueled by chocolate: Ghana’s newest biofuel

Costco to be the first major retailer to cut Roundup from the shelves

March 22, 2019 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on Costco to be the first major retailer to cut Roundup from the shelves

Moms Across America, a grassroots community of concerned citizens, began a campaign to eliminate the sale of the weed killer Roundup from three major retailers after the recent court decision to uphold the Johnson V. Monsanto lawsuit that concluded that exposure to Roundup contributes to non-Hodgkins lymphoma. After gathering 150,000 signatures on the petition to remove the products, they sent a letter to Home Depot, Lowe’s and Costco. In a big win for the organization and the public as a whole, Costco responded that they will be the first U.S. retailer to pull the products from their shelves. Costco, long known for their support of organic farming and organic food offering in their stores, not only felt that pulling Roundup was the right thing to do, but they took the supplemental step of finding effective organic options to stock instead. That means that in addition to canceling all orders for Roundup, they are watching for any glyphosate-based herbicides to ensure they stay off the shelves. Related: Researchers find weedkiller ingredient Glyphosate in name brand beer and wine Thousands of lawsuits are pending against Monsanto, the company that produces Roundup, after long-fought court battles continue to throw guilty verdicts in their direction. Science, doctors and exposed consumers have all fought to bring the dangers of glyphosate to the surface after repeated reports of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma surfaced and were connected to the chemical . In a previous lawsuit, Monsanto won the battle to avoid putting a warning label on the product even though the judge acknowledged it contains carcinogens and the decision goes against the original California Prop 65 designation that it should be classified as containing a known cancer-causing chemical. With this victory behind them, Moms Across America continues to push the other major retailers including Home Depot and Lowe’s Improvement Center to join in banning sales of the product. In addition, the activist group strives to continue educating the public about the dangers of glyphosate. After all, we are the ones who purchase and use it. With that decision comes the realization that once the chemical is applied, it contaminates the air and water for every plant, human and animal on the planet. If you’d like to join the campaign, you can add your signature to the petition here. Via Return to Now Images via Shutterstock, Mike Mozart

Here is the original post:
Costco to be the first major retailer to cut Roundup from the shelves

‘Funnel-shaped’ cabin in an Ecuadorian forest is made of locally sourced wood

March 22, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on ‘Funnel-shaped’ cabin in an Ecuadorian forest is made of locally sourced wood

When it comes to creating living spaces that meld into their environment, savvy architects are showing us that sometimes less is definitely more. Quito-based architect Emilio Lopez has just unveiled a beautiful cabin made with  locally sourced wood and bamboo. At approximately 1,200 square feet, Cabana Don Juan is formed like a boxy funnel, with both sides featuring large glazed walls that provide stunning views of the coast on one side and a lush forest on the other. Located in the country’s Manabí Province, the beautiful two-story cabin is tucked into a native deciduous forest. Built on top of a hill along the coast line, the home rests in a setting that is picture-perfect, with views of the ocean on one side and the forest on the other. Related: Sculptural wood cabin is an alpine retreat with magnificent views To make the most of its natural environment, Lopez designed the cabin in a unique funnel shape with two extended sides that feature ultra-high, all-glass facades. The shell of the home is made out of concrete and covered with locally-sourced Amarillo and Asta wood. The interior was clad in eco-friendly bamboo , which provides a warm and cozy atmosphere. The living space is approximately 1,200 square feet, spanning two levels that connect through double-height ceilings. The ground floor houses the living, dining and kitchen area, while the two loft-like bedrooms are on the second floor, facing the ocean. The open-plan layout with large windows not only embeds the cabin and its inhabitants into the surroundings but also provides natural light and ventilation throughout the year. + Emilio Lopez Via Dwell Photography by Jag Studio via Emilio Lopez

View post: 
‘Funnel-shaped’ cabin in an Ecuadorian forest is made of locally sourced wood

Scientists believe lab-grown meat may be more harmful to the environment than farms

February 21, 2019 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on Scientists believe lab-grown meat may be more harmful to the environment than farms

Scientists and environmentalists are always looking for ways to make meat consumption more environmentally friendly, but lab-grown meat may not be the solution. Scientists now say that synthetic meat might be more damaging to the environment than traditional cattle farms. Research has shown that cattle farms have played a role in global warming. In fact, scientists estimate that 25 percent of all greenhouse gases can be attributed to agriculture, with beef production leading the way in methane and nitrous oxide production. These alarming statistics have prompted scientists to look for viable alternatives in the meat market. Lab-grown meat has been a promising solution to the problem, though scientists warn that growing meat in a laboratory setting may be more harmful to the environment under certain circumstances. Related: Aleph Farms has created the first lab-grown steak The biggest difference between cattle beef and lab-grown beef is the type of emission that is produced. Cattle farms tend to produce a lot of methane, which contributes greatly to global warming. Manufacturing meat in a lab, meanwhile, releases carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is also bad for the environment. The catch is that methane breaks up in around 12 years while carbon dioxide can remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years. “Per tonne emitted, methane has a much larger warming impact than carbon dioxide. However, it only remains in the atmosphere for about 12 years, whereas carbon dioxide persists and accumulates for millennia,” Raymond Pierrehumbert, a professor at Oxford Martin School, explained. That said, growing meat in a lab can be better for the environment if the manufacturing process uses sustainable energy. This would help curb the overall carbon use without releasing the amount of methane of traditional cattle farms. While this would lessen greenhouse gas emissions, there are other factors to consider with lab-grown meat, including water pollution. Until more research is done on the long-term effects of lab-grown meat, scientists are ultimately unable to determine which method is better for the environment. Via BBC Image via Shutterstock

See more here: 
Scientists believe lab-grown meat may be more harmful to the environment than farms

Aleph Farms has created the first lab-grown steak

December 25, 2018 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on Aleph Farms has created the first lab-grown steak

The demand for meat alternatives continues to grow as millions switch to vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian diets for health, ethical and environmental reasons, and food companies around the world are starting to focus their efforts on plant-based and lab-grown products that can take the place of animal-sourced meats. Aleph Farms recently reached an important milestone in cellular meat production by serving up the first lab-grown steak, made from isolated cow cells and grown into a 3D structure. According to the company, the steak has the same texture as conventional meat, and it also has the same smell. But, they still need to refine the taste and thickness. The current prototype is 5 mm thick, and a small strip costs $50, but Aleph Farms co-founder and CEO Didier Toubia says that is a huge step in the right direction because five years ago, the first lab-grown beef burger cost $283.500. “The cost would come down as the production process was moved from the lab to a scalable commercial facility,” said Toubia. The steak probably won’t be commercially available for another three or four years. But, when it does hit the market, Toubia believes that it will catch on like the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger and help bridge the gap between people who do not want to completely give up meat and the need to reduce global meat consumption. Related: 3D-printed vegan steak could aid world hunger relief efforts The industry that is making alternatives to animal-sourced meats is booming, growing at a rate of 20 percent a year. The demand is so high that companies can’t keep up, and the gigantic U.S. meat industry is starting to take notice. Meat companies learned a lesson from the plant-based milk revolution, and they are focusing their efforts on shaping the regulatory environment for their new competitors. Joshua Tetrick, co-founder of the food company Just, says that cell-based meat will upend the market because the process will be able to feed people around the world. “Probably the biggest obstacle outside of the scientific ones is getting folks used to the idea that we don’t need to slaughter animals en masse and deal with our waste to enjoy a nice Turkey dinner for Thanksgiving,” Tetrick says. Via NPR , Treehugger Image via Shutterstock

Read the original here:
Aleph Farms has created the first lab-grown steak

Farmscape helps communities embrace urban farming

October 25, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Comments Off on Farmscape helps communities embrace urban farming

The majority of the world’s population lives in cities, and thanks to the rising monetary and environmental costs of transporting food to these areas, interest in urban farming has dramatically increased over the past decade. In cities like Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles , it is relatively easy to find food growing in windowsills, on rooftops, in community gardens and even on corporate campuses. Since 2008, Farmscape has helped people, communities and companies across the country embrace sustainable farming practices and local food. Farmscape is the largest urban farming venture in the U.S., and it helps individuals, communities and businesses with their food producing needs by designing, installing and managing raised vegetable beds and gardens in places like residential backyards, building rooftops, multi-acre agrihoods  and commercial properties. Using an organic soil blend and drip irrigation systems, Farmscape has led the urban farm movement by installing more than 700 gardens in California and designing and consulting projects internationally. Related: The LEED Gold-seeking Edible Academy teaches urban farming in NYC Farmscape is a licensed landscape contractor, and according to the company, its setups are 25 percent more cost-effective to run than traditional setups. Another bonus to using Farmscape is that its landscaping can add up to a 28 percent return on investment on property values. Studies also show that homes with lush outdoor areas sell 15 percent faster when they are listed on the real estate market. Corporations like Oracle, North Face, Levi’s Stadium and AT&T Park have famously used Farmscape. Those larger spaces make more produce and fruit easily available to employees, customers and residents. Three small cafes inside of AT&T Park (where the San Francisco Giants play) use the produce grown in a Farmscape garden, which allows the businesses to provide vegan and gluten-free options to people who don’t enjoy “baseball food.” The hydroponic towers near the bullpen sprout berries and greens that different ballpark eateries use for smoothies and salads. The rooftop garden at Levi’s Stadium (where the San Francisco 49ers play) supplies fresh produce to the stadium’s food service vendors. But the Farmscape urban farming venture isn’t just for large corporate clients. It is also perfect for homes, apartment complexes and neighborhoods. Because you don’t have to plant or maintain the farm yourself, you are guaranteed to get a fresh, successful harvest of things like cilantro, arugula, lettuce, parsley and kale each season. Related: 6 urban farms feeding the world Farmscape’s hands-on, local farmers maintain the space each week as part of their contract, but you can also spend some stress-free time outdoors by joining them to do some digging and weeding. People who live in cities are often busy feeding their technology obsession with handheld devices, but Farmscape gives them the opportunity to step outside and work with their neighbors and co-workers to harvest healthy food . However, you don’t have to have any farming or gardening knowledge to find success with Farmscape. Their team takes care of everything from planning to planting to harvest. The setups also include seasonal flowers, herbs and ornamental plants mixed in with the vegetables to give their beds a manicured and attractive look year-round. According to Lara Hermanson, the gardener/farmer who co-founded Farmscape, people love that the gardens look good and also provide fresh, organic food. Being able to harvest your own produce to create a delicious meal — and not having to get your hands dirty (unless you want to, of course) — is an attractive idea for home chefs. Plus, there are mental, emotional and physical benefits to gardening for those who do choose to get involved. Even if it is just a few minutes each day, getting outside can be good for you, and using the food from your garden will lead to a healthier, more plant-based diet. The idea of being able to come home from work and step outside to your garden to pick the ingredients for your salad or picking some fresh fruit for a sweet dessert is an exciting one. Farmscape gives you the option of being surrounded by nature, even if you live in a crowded urban environment. If a Farmscape garden is something that you would like to add to your neighborhood, Hermanson says that is easy to initiate through city councils and homeowners associations. While Farmscape only builds and maintains gardens in California, the team is happy to help design and consult projects around the world. People love the idea of having gardens as landscaping in their neighborhoods, and the benefits of having plenty of healthy food readily available are nearly impossible to turn down. To start Farmscape-ing, visit the website at FarmscapeGardens.com . + Farmscape Images via Farmscape

Read more:
Farmscape helps communities embrace urban farming

Stunning Costa Rican beach home uses passive features to stay cool

October 25, 2018 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on Stunning Costa Rican beach home uses passive features to stay cool

Located mere steps away from idyllic white sand beaches on one side and a coconut grove on the other, this beach house designed by Studio Saxe is giving us major home envy. Situated on Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline, the spacious 3,250-square-foot Villa Akoya’s beautiful aesthetic hides several passive strategies designed to reduce the home’s energy use and impact on the environment. The breathtaking location serves as the principal inspiration for the design. Built using traditional cinder block construction, the one-story home was was raised off the ground to create a continuous sight line with the ocean views. This feature also helped reduce the footprint on the landscape . Related: Triangular beachfront home is a dreamy retreat buried in the earth The beach house’s dimensions are divided into four separate horizontal roof planes that slant slightly upward, covering each of the three bedrooms plus the main living area. This strategy creates distinct volumes within the structure. Additionally, the flat wooden roofs extend out over the exterior walls to create large overhang extensions that shade the interior while creating several indoor-outdoor living spaces around the exterior. The interior layout includes several spaces that are open to the exterior, creating a seamless connection between the indoors and outdoors. All of the bedrooms have their own outdoor spaces, and an all-glass wall in the living room slides completely open, leading to a wooden deck and a swimming pool . Concealed within the design are several passive features to create an energy-efficient beach house. The “elevated” roof lines create a natural system of air ventilation, cooling the home in the hot summer months. The abundance of windows and glass doors brighten the interior during the day, further reducing the need for electricity. The home also operates on solar-generated hot water and has a gray water system. + Studio Saxe Via Archdaily Photography by Andres Garcia Lachner via Studio Saxe

See the rest here: 
Stunning Costa Rican beach home uses passive features to stay cool

Meat consumption must drop by 90% to avert a climate crisis

October 16, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Meat consumption must drop by 90% to avert a climate crisis

While the meat industry’s negative impacts on the environment have proved troublesome for some time, an assembly of scientists from various European research institutes have released a thorough analysis of the Earth’s food system that shows if farming practices and food trends continue unchecked, the planet’s capabilities of feeding the global population will be decimated within the coming decades, and global warming will not be able to stay under 1.5 degrees Celsius. Greenhouse gas emissions, land and water consumption, deforestation , biodiversity loss and aquatic dead zones are the central burdens of agriculture evaluated by experts. However, this year’s research study determined a new problem — food supply — to be the most concerning of all. With a booming population that is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, the environmental damages are enough that widespread food insecurity is knocking on our door. Related: Look out, meat industry – flexitarianism is on the rise “It is pretty shocking,” said Marco Springmann, lead researcher from the University of Oxford. “We are really risking the sustainability of the whole system.” The team examined precise data from every country to assemble the most comprehensive assessment of food production and global environment to date. Their diagnosis? Surviving within environmental limits requires a drastic reduction in meat consumption. “Feeding a world population of 10 billion is possible, but only if we change the way we eat and the way we produce food,” explained Professor Johan Rockström from Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “Greening the food sector or eating up our planet: this is what is on the menu today.” While the problem requires multi-dimensional confrontation from technological , governmental and social standpoints, the experts are encouraging dietary changes on an individual level. The study recommends an astounding 90 percent reduction in meat consumption and a 60 percent cut in milk consumption for people in countries such as the U.S. and U.K., as well as the adoption of more sustainable farming practices, in order to keep temperature rise under control. “There is no magic bullet, but dietary and technological [farming] change are the two essential things, and hopefully they can be complemented by reduction in food loss and waste,” Springmann said. Calling it the “flexitarian” diet, the researchers recommended a surge in bean , pulse, nut and seed consumption to replace the standard meat intake. Taking the average world citizen, the diet stresses a 75 percent cut in beef, a 90 percent cut in pork and a 50 percent cut in egg consumption to halve livestock emissions and help the planet return to sustainable levels. “Ultimately, we live on a finite planet, with finite resources,” said University of Leeds professor Tim Benton on the study, in which he did not take part. “It is a fiction to imagine there is a technological solution allowing us to produce as much food as we might ever want, allowing us to overeat and throw food away.” + Nature Via The Guardian Images via Andrik Langfield and Deryn Macey

More:
Meat consumption must drop by 90% to avert a climate crisis

Everything you need to know about online farmers markets

October 15, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Everything you need to know about online farmers markets

Online farmers markets are becoming increasingly popular with the rise in demand for locally sourced produce. With an industry that makes hundreds of millions annually, online farmers markets provide consumers with fresh food at their door for minimal costs. From how these markets work to the pros and cons of ordering online, here is everything you should know about online farmers markets. How do online farmers markets work? Online farmers markets typically operate within a geographically defined area, such as a single county. By only doing business in a defined location, these websites can easily work with local farms to market and ship fresh produce to individuals. The downside to this approach is that you can only participate in online farmers markets if you live within a specific area. It also leads to regionally based competition as farmers compete with larger grocery chains, which are increasingly offering deliverable food. The process of ordering from an online farmers market is pretty simple. After selecting the types of food you want to buy, you pay online and have it shipped to your home, or you can select a pickup option. Some online farmers markets will have several pickup locations in an area to make it more convenient on the customer. Larger marketplaces, meanwhile, will usually only ship produce to your home. Related: The ugly truth about the imperfect food movement Online farmers markets versus Community Supported Agriculture Community Supported Agriculture ( CSA ) programs were around long before online farmers markets came into existence. These models work on a subscription basis and give customers an allotment of produce every few weeks. The CSA usually picks the type of produce, and it is often whatever food is in season. It can sometimes be a bit of a gamble. In contrast, online farmers markets give customers an option of what they purchase, including a variety of vegetables, fruits, dairy products, meat, honey, baked goods, preserves and maple syrup. The customer also controls when they receive the goods, and everything is done online. Not only does this benefit the customer, but it also helps farmers with marketing and handling transactions. Pros of online farmers markets For customers, convenience and variety are the biggest pros of online farmers markets. Without having to leave your house, you get to choose from an assortment of fresh produce and goods and have them delivered within a week. While the system is great for consumers, online farmers markets also benefit growers. For farmers, the online market acts like a traditional co-op and benefits growers in a number of ways. This includes handling payments, packaging and distribution; saving time and energy; cutting down on marketing expenses and providing access to a larger market. The majority of growers that participate in online farmers markets operate small to mid-size farms. Without an online presence, these farms would likely struggle to sell their merchandise and compete with larger grocery stores, many of which are also advertising locally produced food. Click Fork, for example, is a co-op based out of Canada that helped save a handful of local farmers from shutting down. With their traditional businesses failing, farmers around Sudbury, Canada, joined forces and built a website to sell their goods. Their website was so successful that the group is looking to expand in the near future. Cons of online farmers markets Depending on where you live, you may or may not have access to an online farmers market. At the very least, your options are probably slim. There is also the issue of only being able to buy produce that is in season and that can grow in your location. While this gives you more options than a traditional CSA, it does not compete well with grocery stores that ship in produce from far-flung locations. For eco-conscious folks, this isn’t much of a problem, but it can be harder to attract larger crowds to eating local, seasonal foods. That said, many people are willing to sacrifice variety when it comes to convenience, and there are not too many things better than ordering food from the comfort of your own home. Another disadvantage to online farmers markets compared to traditional farmers markets is the lack of human connection — it just isn’t the same when you don’t get to shake the hands of the person who grew your food. Where can you order produce online? The number of online farmers markets is growing every year. The majority of these sites serve specific locations, but there are a few that are branching out to wider areas of the country. WildKale is an example of an online farmers market that ships to a wider customer base. The company collaborates with over 30 growers in the northeastern U.S. and plans on expanding across the country in the near future. Depending on your location, you might be able to find an online farmers market closer to home. Good Eggs , for example, serves customers in the Bay Area, while WyoFresh ships produce to locations in southeast Wyoming. If you cannot find an online farmers market that serves your area, there is a good chance one will pop up before long. The future of online farmers markets With the growth of large grocery chains, small farmers across the country are struggling to say afloat. Although selling produce online is preventing a lot of growers from going under, companies are finding it difficult to sustain their online presence. Farmigo, a farmers market based out of Brooklyn, just shut down its virtual market after raising $26 million in startup funds. The company was successful in selling produce online, but the creators discovered that their model was not sustainable over the long run. The company had trouble with the logistics of packaging and shipping a large amount of produce to customers while still turning a profit. There is a lot of promise for the industry as a whole, but figuring out how to scale it up sustainably is the next challenge. Although there are challenges facing online farmers markets , the future is bright. The grocery industry has always been huge, and the market for locally produced food is growing larger every year. Investors may be hesitant to invest in online farmers markets across the country now, but it is clear they are here to stay. Via Farm and Dairy , Supermarket News , Food + Tech Connect and CBC Images via Markus Spiske and Shutterstock

More here:
Everything you need to know about online farmers markets

Is vertical farming the future for agriculture or a distraction from other climate problems?

August 10, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Comments Off on Is vertical farming the future for agriculture or a distraction from other climate problems?

Vertical farming promises a more equitable, resilient food system. But is it just a trend that perpetuates our current problems?

Original post:
Is vertical farming the future for agriculture or a distraction from other climate problems?

Next Page »

Bad Behavior has blocked 1470 access attempts in the last 7 days.