Rocket Crafters creates safer, greener hybrid rocket engine technology

July 10, 2020 by  
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Rocket Crafters, an aerospace company based in Florida, is patenting its hybrid rocket engine technology . The engine, which the company described as throttle-able, affordable, reliable and 3D-printed, is said to be a milestone in the world of rocket science. For many years, rocket scientists have been trying to develop a hybrid engine — unsuccessfully. All of these attempts failed along the way due to fuel combustion issues. However, thanks to 3D-printing technology, Rocket Crafters has managed to develop a hybrid engine known as the STAR-3D. The engine has completed over 40 subscale engine tests and is now poised to engage in large-scale tests. What is a hybrid rocket engine? If you are not a fan of rockets or rocket science, you may not have a clue about the impact of developing a hybrid engine . In simple terms, a hybrid engine means that the rocket will be fueled by a combination of solid and liquid or gas fuel. This is a big achievement for the world, considering that the hybrid engine will be much greener. The combustion of rocket fuels has negative impacts on the environment, but this new technology tries to address these issues. Related: Studio Roosegaarde’s laser light art tracks floating space waste in the sky Rockets that are strictly solid-fueled cannot be throttled or restarted, while hybrid rockets can. This is one of the reasons why many scientists have been working on hybrid rocket technology. The hybrid engine is much faster and safer as compared to solid- or liquid-fueled counterparts. According to Rocket Crafters, the company can also scale rocket engines from 125lbf all the way to 5000lbf. Compared to the liquid-fueled rocket engines, the hybrid is much easier to develop and less expensive, too. Liquid-fueled rockets have been favored in the past for being environmentally safer than solid-fueled rockets; however, the cost of developing liquid-fueled rockets has proved to be the problem. Most aerospace companies have been striving to find a balance between the cost and sustainability of the rockets . Hybrid engines are less expensive in terms of maintenance. The engines by Rocket Crafters only have two movable parts, which means that they are less mechanical. They separately store fuel in two different states (solid and liquid), which helps safeguard against accidental detonation. But the attempt to shift to hybrid engines has been met by many challenges. According to a report in 3DPrint, both governments and industries have been unable to develop a safe hybrid engine for years. In previous attempts, the rockets were met with issues such as excessive thrust and unpredictable vibrations. Purpose of the hybrid engine In the initial stages of developing the engine, it was used to send small rockets into the Earth’s orbit. The company now plans to work with private businesses and governments that send small satellites to outer space. The 3D-printed hybrid engine makes launching rockets into space much easier and safer. Just as many other companies that have been using 3D-printing to make the world a better place, Rocket Crafters have managed to change the future of rockets completely. This means that rocket travel will be much more accessible. The new technology now seeks to bring the cost of more sustainable rocketing to a record low. Hybrid engines are greener The most impressive aspect of the new hybrid engines is that they are better for the environment. Traditionally, solid-fueled engines would emit heavy carbon waste into the atmosphere . Due to such effects of solid-fueled engines, there has been pressure for more rocket manufacturers to turn to liquid-fueled engines, which are greener. Liquid-fueled engines are propelled by liquid hydrogen, which produces water vapor exhaust. But the production of hydrogen itself can also cause significant pollution. The end game for rocket manufactures turns out to be hybrid engines — something that Rocket Crafters hopes to make as safe and sustainable as possible. + Rocket Crafters Image via Unsplash

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Rocket Crafters creates safer, greener hybrid rocket engine technology

Effects of COVID-19 lead to increased deaths of Florida manatees

July 1, 2020 by  
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While many species are enjoying a break from humans during the pandemic, Florida’s manatee death rate is up this year. Increased boating activity, rollbacks on emission caps and delays in environmental improvements all put these defenseless giants in the crosshairs. “There are several troubling factors coming together during the pandemic,” Patrick Rose, an aquatic biologist and executive director of the nonprofit Save the Manatee Club , told The Guardian . “Manatees were already facing accelerated habitat loss, rising fatalities from boat collisions and less regulatory protection. With COVID, we’re seeing manatees at an increased risk, both from policies that undermine environmental standards and from irresponsible outdoor activity, such as boaters ignoring slow-speed zones.” Related: Conservationists in Florida are making the ultimate effort to protect manatees from tourism Now with pandemic-related problems, manatee deaths were up almost 20% for April through May compared with 2019 figures. June exceeded the five-year death average. However, officials haven’t been able to establish causes for all manatee deaths because the Fish & Wildlife Commission isn’t doing necropsy — the word for “autopsy” when performed on animals — during the pandemic . Some manatees have undoubtedly been killed or injured by boat collisions. According to Rose, boat ramps remained open in March when other recreational options closed, leading to an uptick in dangerous boating activity. Slow-moving manatees often fail to get out of the way of boats. Injuries are so frequent that researchers tell the animals apart by their scar patterns. Regulatory changes also threaten manatee habitats. The marine mammals, which are most closely related to elephants, will reap the consequences of the EPA’s decision to suspend water and air pollution monitoring requirements during the pandemic. COVID-19 is also delaying environmental initiatives. In-person meetings have been postponed, including talks about providing more warm-water manatee habitat by breaching the Ocklawaha River dam. “We’ve lost tens of thousands of acres of seagrass over the past decade,” Rose said. “The power plants, which currently supply artificial warm water , will also be closing in the coming years, making our fight to protect natural warm springs habitat all the more critical.” Via The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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Effects of COVID-19 lead to increased deaths of Florida manatees

The farm-to-food-bank movement rescues pandemic-related food waste

May 18, 2020 by  
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Farmers are burying onions, destroying tomatoes and grinding up heads of lettuce to return to the soil. Dairy workers are dumping milk. These images of food destruction have horrified Americans during the pandemic . Farmers shouldn’t have to destroy the crops they’ve poured their money, energy, time and strength into. Hungry people shouldn’t witness the destruction of food that they could cook for their families. But farmers and organizations are working to save this food and bring it to those in need. COVID-19 has hurt people in many ways, but the food supply chain has been hit especially hard. Since restaurants, hotels, schools and cruise ships have shut down, farmers have lost about 40% of their customer base on average. Some farms have lost their main outlets. For example, RC Hatton Farms in Florida has had to disk — that is, grind up and recycle into the soil — hundreds of acres of cabbage since the crop has lost its future as KFC slaw. Related: How to volunteer during COVID-19 Meanwhile, with the U.S. unemployment rate stretching toward 15% , more Americans could make use of those crops. The question is, how can the food supply chains be rerouted before all of the vegetables and milk spoil? Worldwide food insecurity may double this year because of COVID-19. In relatively affluent America, people are waiting in line for hours to get to food pantries. Fortunately, the world is full of clever and helpful people. From individuals to large organizations, people are devising ways to redistribute food to those who need it. From farms to food banks Food banks are nonprofit organizations that store food donated from retailers, restaurants, grocery stores and individuals. This food is then distributed to food pantries, where people can take home food to eat. Food pantries provide millions of free meals per year. With their restaurant and institutional clients closed by COVID-19, more farmers are trying to donate crops straight to food banks. But donation doesn’t come free. While most farmers would vastly prefer to donate their vegetables than to let them rot in fields, those crops don’t harvest themselves. Nor do they pack themselves for shipping or drive to the nearest food bank. Some states are working hard to facilitate getting crops to the people. At the end of April, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a $3.64 million expansion to the state’s Farm to Family program. By the end of the year, he expects this campaign to reach $15 million. The Farm to Family program is a partnership between the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Association of Food Banks. The USDA has approved redirecting $2 million in unused Specialty Crop Block Grant funds to the California Association of Food Banks. This will help cover costs of picking, packing and transporting the produce to food banks. “Putting food on the table during this pandemic is hard for families on the brink,” Newsom said in a press release. “It’s in that spirit that we’re expanding our Farm to Family program while also working to connect low-income families with vital resources and financial support. We thank our farmers for stepping up to donate fresh produce to our food banks . And we want families struggling to access food to know we have your backs.” In New Mexico, the state chapter of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) launched its own Farm to Foodbank program. The group will fund farmers to continue producing organic produce, which will be routed to food pantries. AFSC is also helping farmers buy supplies, such as seeds, masks, gloves and irrigation systems. In return, the farmers sign contracts promising produce to community members suffering from food insecurity. For example, farmers at Acoma Pueblo requested seeds and promised to donate a part of their crops to the senior center. Help from private companies Some companies are also assisting in moving surplus crops to food banks. Florida-based Publix Super Markets has long been donating food to Feeding America’s member food banks and other nonprofits. In the last 10 years, Publix has donated about $2 billion worth of food, or 480 million pounds. Now, the supermarket chain is stepping up its efforts and buying unsold fresh milk and produce from Florida and regional producers and donating these goods to Feeding America food banks. “As a food retailer, we have the unique opportunity to bridge the gap between the needs of families and farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” Todd Jones, chief executive officer of Publix, told NPR . Other supermarket chains have announced large monetary donations to food banks during the pandemic, including $50 million from Albertsons. Kroger Co. set up a $10 million Emergency COVID-19 Response Fund. To celebrate Earth Day , Natural Grocers donated $50,000 in gift cards to food banks. Individual giving Some farmers have taken direct action to get their crops to families. Idaho potato farmer Ryan Cranney invited the public to help themselves to his millions of unsold potatoes. “At first I thought we’d have maybe 20 people,” Cranney said in an interview . He was amazed when thousands of people drove to his town, with a population of 700, and hauled away potatoes. “We saw people from as far away as Las Vegas, which is an 8-hour drive from here,” he said. Of course, most of us don’t have millions of potatoes to spare. But we can still help food banks. In better times, food banks appreciate shelf-stable foods like peanut butter and tomato paste. But right now, the best thing you can do as an individual is to give money. Feeding America, the biggest hunger relief organization in the U.S, has about 200 member food banks. If you’re able to spare a few dollars, you can donate to its COVID-19 Response Fund . Via CBS 8 , Santa Fe New Mexican and Politico Images via Philippe Collard , Hai Nguyen , U.S. Department of Agriculture and Dennis Sparks

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The farm-to-food-bank movement rescues pandemic-related food waste

Florida Aquarium captures baby coral breakthrough on video

April 28, 2020 by  
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The Florida Aquarium announced a breakthrough that may help save America’s Great Barrier Reef. Scientists at the Tampa-based aquarium have successfully reproduced ridged cactus coral for the first time. A video captures the tiny baby  corals  looking like undersea fairy lights as they take their first and only swim beyond the reef. Since a major  disease  outbreak attacked Florida’s coral reefs in 2014, scientists from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and NOAA Fisheries have rescued corals and moved them into labs. Florida Aquarium scientists are caring for adult coral colonies, coaxing them to breed and reproduce in the hopes of eventually restoring the diseased reefs. In the course of this rescue mission, scientists are discovering new info on coral biology, including the timing of babies and what coral larvae look like. “This breakthrough is just really exciting; we’re still learning basic new things you’d think we’ve known for hundreds of years,” said senior coral scientist Keri O’Neil. “It’s just people never worked with this  species  before and now that we have the opportunity to work with these corals in the lab, we’re going to find out so much more about them.” Ridged cactus corals are a type of brooding coral. This means they reproduce by releasing sperm into the water. Eggs within the parent coral are fertilized, and larvae develop. When the coral babies are sufficiently formed, the parent corals spit them into the water. The babies swim until they find a good spot on the  reef . Then they settle down for life.  This video  shows the phenomenon. Florida has the world’s third-largest barrier reef ecosystem. Often called “America’s Great Barrier Reef,” it extends from St. Lucie Inlet, north of Miami, to the Dry Tortugas, west of the Florida Keys. About two-thirds of the reef tract is within Biscayne National Park and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Reproducing ridged cactus coral is the latest in a series of coral breakthroughs at the Florida Aquarium. Last year scientists at the aquarium had the world’s first success at making a group of coral reproduce two days in a row. The aquarium is partnering with London’s Horniman Museum and Gardens in Project Coral, a program aimed at repopulating the world’s reefs. “With the success of this project, as a scientist, I now know that every year for the foreseeable future we can spawn Florida pillar corals in the laboratory and continue our work trying to rebuild the populations,” said O’Neil. + CNN Images via Pexels

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Florida Aquarium captures baby coral breakthrough on video

Take a virtual dive with NOAA

April 22, 2020 by  
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NOAA has released a series of virtual dives to keep stay-at-homers entertained,  educated  and interested in the undersea world even when everybody’s stuck on the couch. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration takes viewers deep into national marine sanctuaries, revealing sights non- divers have likely never seen. The creators used 360-degree images to show off  corals , sea creatures and the undersea habitat. You can virtually visit these sanctuaries on your personal computer or smartphone. For more fun, pair your device with virtual reality goggles or a headset. Sanctuaries available for VR visits include American Samoa, the Florida Keys, Flower Garden Banks off Galveston, Texas, Gray’s Reef in Georgia, Monterey Bay, the Olympic Coast in Washington state, Stellwagen Bank in  Maine and Thunder Bay in Michigan. Each sanctuary offers a handful of dives to choose from featuring different types of sea life. A sea lion-focused dive was filmed in California’s Channel Islands. The virtual dives feature something for a wide variety of interests. You can get up close to a huge barrel sponge at Flower Gardens, or watch marine invertebrates called tunicates duke it out with orange cup corals in a turf war for the rocky substrate of  Washington’s Tatoosh Island. Those more intrigued by human drama can check out the remains of the  Paul Palmer,  a coal schooner built in 1902 that now lies atop Stellwagen Bank. Maybe it shouldn’t have started that final voyage on Friday the 13th, 1913. These 360-degree photos allow visitors to view spots within sanctuaries from every angle, almost as if you were turning your head to see what’s over yonder. Divers with special cameras take the underwater photos, which are then edited together.  NOAA plans to add to the gallery as divers take more shots. This collaboration between NOAA and the  Ocean Agency , a nonprofit ad agency that focuses on the sea, will open underwater doors for parents suddenly thrust into the role of home school teachers. + NOAA Images via Pexels

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Take a virtual dive with NOAA

Interactive maps show top 10 states for off-grid lifestyles

April 9, 2020 by  
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Homesteading was a way of life for generations while the world developed industrialization and created cities of infrastructure. Over time, modern conveniences and the fast pace of business encouraged an increasing number of people to move into urban areas and/or reduce self-reliance in favor of easily accessible supermarkets and mail-order food. But in recent years, a resurgence of homesteading has shown that uncertain times have resulted in people returning to the basics of gardening , farming, food preservation and finding ways to be off-grid.  A recent data collection report by HomeAdvisor consolidated information from across Instagram to find out how many people are subscribing to a simpler way of life. Interestingly, the results show clusters of communities seemingly sharing common values in certain areas across the United States. Related: Do people in tiny houses live more sustainably? The information was gathered based on three commonly used hashtags (#homesteading, #tinyliving , and #offgridliving ), and then geolocation data identified the hot spots. Each of these lifestyles focuses on some level of self-sufficiency and cost savings. Homesteading is mainly about self-sufficiency. You’ll find homesteaders growing their own food, generating their own power and making their own clothes. Tiny living is a lifestyle that leaves a smaller footprint on the world. Tiny houses and tiny living are about simplification, a lower cost of living and using fewer resources. Living off-grid is a broad category that includes tiny living and homesteading. It also means disappearing from staples of society like the electric grid, schooling and the internet.  The reasons for heading towards a more self-sufficient lifestyle are varied, ranging from a fear of pandemics, an increase in surveillance infringing on privacy and concern for the environment. Regardless of the exact reasons, freedom,  lowering one’s carbon footprint  and a sense of independence seem to be at the core of the movement.  While there are abundant hashtags for any of these lifestyles, the study targeted these three as the best sources of information on the topic. The data was then consolidated and prepared for visual consumption by converting it into interactive maps and infographics . The method of collection eliminated Instagram posts without a location and those outside the United States. “To create these visualizations, we collected data by “scraping” it. Scraping is a technique that gathers large amounts of data from websites. In this case, we wrote a custom script in Python to get the data for each hashtag. The script collected information including the number of likes, number of comments, location, etc. for posts with each of the three lifestyle hashtags. The python script also collects data that human users can’t see, like specific location information about where the post was published from,” HomeAdvisor said on its website. When it comes to the United States and off-grid living as a whole, the interactive map gives a snapshot of the trend with the larger circles showing clusters. Moving into more specific information, homesteading may not be as rural as one might expect. In fact, large numbers of homesteaders are balancing backyard beehives , chickens and crops with a daily commute. One might also think homesteading is associated with life on the west coast. While that’s partly true, there are communities up and down the east coast squashing the idea that high populace and running your own farm don’t go hand-in-hand. As seen on the Top 10 States for #Homesteading map, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York all have active homesteading communities. Austin, Texas and Livermore, Colorado are Insta-proud of their homesteads too. On the west coast, the Seattle area in Washington and larger cities such as L.A. and San Diego in California top the list in the number of homesteaders posting their fresh eggs and veggies. For off-grid living, the map looks a little different. Here we find that numbers might be a bit skewed, considering off-grid technically means off social media, but the images are still there as a basis to understand the trends. By the Insta-numbers, Kimberly, Alabama comes in at the top of the off-grid areas, but since many of the posts are from the same Airbnb location, HomeAdvisor calculates that California takes the prize for the most off-gridders. This isn’t too surprising for a state that just mandated all new home constructions must include  solar panels . The four corners of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico are all in the top 10 for off-grid living, in addition to New York, Florida, Oregon, Hawaii and Alaska. The  tiny home movement  might be a bit hard to track for the mobile types, but on the road or not, Instagram is full of #tinyliving examples. The resulting map shows all three west coast states (California, Oregon and Washington) taking part in the trend. Florida, North Carolina and New York are active on the east coast, and Utah, Colorado and Arizona house the tiny movement too. Texas rounds out the #tinyliving top 10 list.  In conclusion, an increasing number of #homesteading Americans are going back to their roots of growing crops and raising cattle. Meanwhile, the #tinyliving community looks for ways to minimize their impact on the land, and #offgridliving continues to be difficult to accurately track, at least through the likes of Instagram. + HomeAdvisor  Images via HomeAdvisor

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Interactive maps show top 10 states for off-grid lifestyles

Water Street Tampa hits major sustainability milestone

February 12, 2020 by  
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Back in June 2019, Inhabitat did a story about Florida’s Water Street Tampa and its goal to become the  world’s healthiest neighborhood . Fast forward to January 2020, and the ambitious 56-acre neighborhood in the heart of Downtown Tampa is making headlines again with its new cooling plant, one of the first buildings to open. The District Cooling Plant will produce and distribute cold water to provide sustainable air conditioning to most of the buildings that make up Water Street Tampa .  Tampa Mayor Jane Castor attended the new plant’s ribbon-cutting ceremony and said, “As our city continues to grow, we have to make sure we’re doing so in a thoughtful way. This district cooling facility will play a big role in reducing our energy consumption while we work to create a more sustainable and resilient city. This is a big step forward in the right direction as we continue transforming Tampa together.” The project was designed by Florida-based architect Baker Barrios and spans 12,500-square feet of space constructed and installed by Tampa Bay Trane. It was built using 8,500 linear feet of insulated underground steel piping infrastructure and will concentrate noise pollution into a single building rather than separate individual buildings while it cools. Even better, the system is 30 to 40 percent more efficient than most traditional air conditioning systems while consuming less energy. The way that the plant is set up also frees up rooftop space that would normally be dedicated to housing individual air conditioners, making the neighborhood roofs available for use as shared amenity spaces for the residents. The concrete masonry design combined with structural steel and brick pattern is a nod towards the historic cigar factories in Ybor City, a nearby iconic district northeast of Tampa’s downtown. + Water Street Tampa Photography by Nicole Abbott

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Water Street Tampa hits major sustainability milestone

Interview: Activist lives off food that he grows and forages for an entire year

October 9, 2019 by  
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Rob Greenfield is a self-described “adventurer, environmental activist, humanitarian and dude making a difference.” Since this Wisconsin native had an eco-epiphany at the age of 24, he’s dedicated himself to spreading a positive environmental message by accomplishing heroic, sustainable deeds. These include things like riding across the U.S. three times on a bamboo bicycle, diving into more than 2,000 dumpsters and traveling internationally with no money. Inhabitat caught up with this pro-humanity, anti-materialism activist to find out about his current foraging project. His answers have been edited for space. Inhabitat: Tell us a little bit about your life right now — where you live and what you do in a typical day. Greenfield: I currently live in Orlando, Florida. I’m spending two years there. My current project is to grow and forage 100 percent of my food for a year. So, no grocery stores, no restaurants. Not even a drink at a bar or going over to a friend’s potluck to eat food from there. Literally growing and foraging everything for an entire year. Related: Incredible edible landscape map shows you where to find free food It’s an extremely immersive project, where I’m diving deep into food and really understanding my connection to it. Largely removing myself from the globalized, industrialized food to explore the alternatives, ways of producing food that work with the environment instead of against it and showing those alternatives to people. My day-to-day right now is very food-oriented. Inhabitat: What are your regular daily activities right now? Greenfield: Well, it does vary a lot. Like today, for example, is a work day, so I’m on the computer and on the phone for much of the day. But I had mostly run out of food, so I had to delay my last call to go for a mile-and-a-half bike ride to go to an apple tree that I know about to go pick a bunch of apples. [Note: Greenfield was in Wisconsin visiting family and friends when we talked — hence the apple tree.] So my life is very much revolving around food this year. But with that being said, I still manage to do a lot of other things, and of course have a social life, and still of course talk and spread the message, because that’s the purpose. Some days are just morning to night going out and gathering food and then processing it, whether it’s fishing or going out and picking fruit and making applesauce and pear sauce, for example, or canning . Other days, when I’ve done really well, I’ve prepared lots of food, I get to be a little more leisurely, and do other work or just spend time with friends. Inhabitat: When did you start your foraging project, and when will it end? Greenfield: I started on November 11, 2018, so today is day 320, which means I have just 45 days left of the year [at the time of the interview]. So it is winding down. I’m in the home stretch, which is feeling great. I wouldn’t say I can let my guard down; I’ve still got to stay on top of things. But I could see a bar of chocolate in the near future. Inhabitat: Is dumpster diving allowed? Greenfield: No dumpster diving at all, because what I’m exploring for this year is living outside of the globalized, industrialized food system. Seeing if I can work with nature , work with the earth to produce my food. So dumpster diving, I’ve proved through my other projects in the past that I can live purely off the waste of our society, and really use that as a way to raise awareness about waste. This is taking it to another step. Now I can show that it’s possible in 2019 for us to actually grow and produce our food and improve our communities at the same time, and take power back from the big food corporations and put that power back into the hands of us, the everyday people. Inhabitat: So, what are some of the things you forage? Greenfield: So far this year, I’ve grown and foraged over 250 different species. I’ve probably foraged 30 or 40 different species of greens. Fruits . There’s many species of cherry: pin cherry, black cherry, sand cherry, just to name a few. Apples, pears, plums. Then, there’s all sorts of new plants that I’m learning. Aronia is a berry that I’ve been foraging over the last couple weeks in Wisconsin. In Florida, one of my favorite things to forage is wild yams. That is an invasive species , so it’s actually beneficial for me to harvest it, which is always nice to be harvesting in a way that actually improves the environment. The biggest one I’ve harvested so far weighed 157 pounds. I had a wheelbarrow and I wheelbarrowed it out chunks at a time to the car to bring it back to my place. Related: An explanation on wild yams I mostly chopped it up into cubes, like you cube up potatoes. Then I froze a lot of it. I make flour from it. I dehydrate it, and then blend the dehydrated chunks to make a powder, and that powder’s a yam flour. Then, I make bread with it. It’s actually a really nice bread. Well, it’s really nice for me. It’s not like a wheat bread or something like that that you’d buy at the store. But I make muffins and tortillas and things like that, and I make sourdough bread. It makes some pretty nice stuff. This project has really taught me to do a lot of things from scratch. Because if I want something, I have to figure out how to grow it or forage it and turn it into that thing that I’m wanting. It’s the opposite of that globalized food system, where we can get anything we want without really having to think about it. Inhabitat: What’s your living situation in Florida? Greenfield: Well in Orlando, I live in a 100-square-foot tiny house that I built out of about 99 percent secondhand materials with the help of a bunch of friends. I have an outdoor kitchen set up, a compost toilet, rainwater shower. I do have electricity there to run my food processor and dehydrator and things like that. But it’s a largely close-looped system, demonstrating how you can live in a more sustainable manner. Inhabitat: Do you have advice for anyone who wants to dumpster dive? Greenfield: Well, it’s pretty easy. You look at the front door. You walk past that, you walk around to the back, you look in the dumpster and you get your food from there instead. It really is not hard or complicated. The main thing is you just have to do it. You have to go to the dumpster and you have to look for the food. Then, what you do is you practice common sense. You should practice common sense wherever you’re getting your food from. So with dumpster diving, a lot of people have these preconceived notions about what’s in a dumpster and what it looks like. At a grocery store, it’s mostly food and is emptied fairly frequently. They’re actually a lot cleaner than people would expect. You just take out the good food. An easy way to start is, for example, bananas have a wrapper on them already. Oranges, also. Whereas strawberries and raspberries, they’re more delicate and more likely to get something spilled on them. But a banana, you can take the peel right off. There’s also packaged, processed food. If you get a bag of potato chips, that is still sealed, or even crackers where there’s a box on the outside and then there’s the crackers inside a plastic bag inside the box. You can start there, with those easy things. One note with dumpster diving is just to make sure that you always leave the place cleaner than you found it, and you’re courteous to everybody that you come across. [Greenfield reiterated that dumpster diving is not a part of his current project.] Inhabitat: Do you have any tips for others to live more sustainably? Greenfield: The good news is you don’t have to do these sort of huge projects that I do by any means. It’s all stuff we can adapt into our daily lives. A big one is to go local. Support local business. Try to get as many of your products produced locally rather than things from big corporate stores and stuff that’s shipped around the world, where you don’t know the people and the impact that it has had or the conditions that they are working in. Shop at the local farmer’s market and support local farmers. Eat more unprocessed foods. You can bring your own container and fill up at the bulk food section. Riding a bike more and driving a car less is a really great way to not only save a lot of money and reduce your impact, but also get good exercise. Most people are a lot happier on a bike than they are driving a car. Bikes make people smile. Related: 7 of the biggest eco-friendly and green living myths Eat your food. The average person wastes about 20 percent of all the food they purchase. Anything that can’t be eaten can be composted. There are hundreds of great changes that we can make. But those are some that are at the top of my list that generally make you happier, healthier and help you live in a way that’s more sustainable. Inhabitat: How can Inhabitat followers get involved with your work? Greenfield: Get involved in other things like community projects, such as the Community Fruit Trees project. That is a project where you can plant fruit trees that are publicly accessible to anyone in their community. Gardens for the People , which is where we build gardens for people that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it or build one on their own. The Free Seed Project is where we send out free seeds to help people start their own organic, healthy gardens. The mission is to get people living happier, healthier and more sustainable lives . We think food is a great place to start. These are all ways people can get involved, and they’d find information about those projects on my website. + Rob Greenfield Images via Rob Greenfield and Sierra Ford

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Interview: Activist lives off food that he grows and forages for an entire year

Best US cities for vegans and vegetarians for World Vegetarian Day

October 1, 2019 by  
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Vegetarians and vegans frequently discuss the best cities to live in or visit, because it’s easier to enjoy a place when there are restaurants and activities that match your preferences. WalletHub’s new study , “Best Cities for Vegetarians and Vegans,” uses a variety of sources and statistics to rank the 100 biggest American cities for affordability, diversity, accessibility and quality, vegetarian lifestyle and overall rank. Just in time for World Vegetarian Day on October 1 and World Vegan Day on November 1, here’s what WalletHub found. The overall winners are: 1. Portland, Oregon 2. Los Angeles, California 3. Orlando, Florida 4. Seattle, Washington 5. Austin, Texas 6. Atlanta, Georgia 7. New York City, New York 8. San Francisco, California 9. San Diego, California 10. Tampa, Florida WalletHub used 17 key indicators of vegan- and vegetarian-friendliness, including grocery costs, proportion of high-ranking plant-based restaurants on online review sites, farmers’ markets and community gardens per capita and the presence of local vegetarian fests and veg cooking classes. The data came from the U.S. Census Bureau, Council for Community and Economic Research, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Feeding America, Yelp, TripAdvisor, USDA Organic INTEGRITY Database, The Trust for Public Land, United States Department of Agriculture, GrubHub, Meetup and Vegan.com. Related: These are the world’s top vegan cities Some of the more social factors, such as festivals and meetups, as well as GrubHub’s list of cities with customers that are most likely to order veg dishes, factored into the vegetarian lifestyle rank. The top five there included a couple of surprises: Anaheim, California and Durham, North Carolina, in addition to the more expected San Francisco, Los Angeles and Atlanta. Affordability had a roughly inverse correlation to veg lifestyle rankings. The top two most affordable cities — Laredo and Corpus Christi, Texas — ranked 98 and 93 on the vegetarian lifestyle index. The best chance of combining affordability with overall rank was Austin , which ranked fifth overall, 11th in affordability but still only 34th in vegetarian lifestyle. Of course, vegetarians will want to know which cities were at the bottom of the list, so if they visit, they can stock up on vegan protein bars beforehand. Here are the least veg-friendly cities in the U.S.: 91. Memphis, Tennessee 92. Tulsa, Oklahoma 93. Stockton, California 94. Winston-Salem, North Carolina 95. Henderson, Nevada 96. Baton Rouge, Lousiana 97: North Las Vegas, Nevada 98. Greensboro, North Carolina 99. San Bernardino, California 100. El Paso, Texas + WalletHub Image via Tony Webster

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Best US cities for vegans and vegetarians for World Vegetarian Day

EPA repeals water protections, choosing industry over wetlands

September 13, 2019 by  
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On Thursday, the Trump administration repealed the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, an Obama-era policy designed to protect waterways. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the EPA plans to reinstate 1980s water rules. The EPA and U.S. Army will decide this winter which waterways to regulate. “Today’s Step 1 action fulfills a key promise of President Trump and sets the stage for Step 2 — a new WOTUS definition that will provide greater regulatory certainty for farmers, landowners, home builders and developers nationwide,” Wheeler said in a statement. Related: Nestlé plans to bottle 1.1M gallons of water daily from natural springs in Florida WOTUS stipulated which wetlands and streams would be protected from pesticides , fertilizer, mine waste and other pollutants under the 1972 Clean Water Act . But farmers, miners and other industry players complained the policy was overreach, interfering with their business interests. The states are divided on WOTUS and its repeal. Twenty-two states — as well as the District of Columbia and U.S. territories — have been following the Obama-era policy, while 27 states never moved on from the ’80s regulations. California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra, no friend of Trump, plans to fight the repeal, which would cut federal protection to California’s water. Meanwhile, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum is celebrating. Environmental groups, including Earthjustice, worry that repealing WOTUS will imperil safe drinking water and thwart safeguards against pollution and flooding. “President Trump’s administration wants to turn back the clock to the days of poisoned flammable water,” said Abigail Dillen, Earthjustice president. “This is shameful and dangerous.” Nor were environmentalists impressed with the repeal being announced at the headquarters of the National Association of Manufacturers, feeling this privileged industry over public health . Craig Cox, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources at the Environmental Working Group, said, “The EPA is no longer in the business of safeguarding our resources and protecting us from pollution, but is openly working to advance the agenda of those who profit from fouling our water and threatening our health.” Via Reuters Image via Pixabay

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