Supermarket happy hour reduces food waste

September 10, 2019 by  
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A Finnish supermarket chain is fighting food waste by offering steep discounts during a “happy hour.” Every night at 9, food with a midnight expiration date is discounted 60 percent off already reduced prices. Shoppers are flocking to S-market’s 900 stores to avail themselves of bargains on meat and other food that has reached its sell-by date. S-market’s initiative is part of a much larger movement to decrease food waste. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations , nearly one-third of food made for humans winds up lost or wasted. This unused food weighs in at 1.3 billion tons annually, with a value of almost $680 billion. Related: New York is curbing food waste and helping people in need with a new initiative Not only is this a terrible waste, given that 10 percent of the world’s population is undernourished, but all that food rotting in landfills worsens climate change. As food decomposes, it releases methane . This gas is about 25 times as dangerous to the environment as carbon dioxide. Wasted food also requires a ridiculous amount of unnecessary transportation. Food is transported from where it is grown to stores all over the world. Then, after its expiration date, unsold food gets a final ride to the landfill . That’s a huge waste of water and fossil fuels. But S-market wants to help reduce food waste while also minimizing its own losses from thrown-out, expired foods. The chain will sell hundreds of items that are already reduced in price by 30 percent for an additional 60 percent off after 9 p.m. until closing time at 10 p.m., and many customers are enjoying the happy hour. “I’ve gotten quite hooked on this,” shopper Kasimir Karkkainen told the New York Times . Karkkainen scored pork mini-ribs and two pounds of pork tenderloin for US$4.63. While this is happening in Finland, U.S. grocers could benefit from adopting a similar initiative as Americans can be especially wasteful. “Food waste might be a uniquely American challenge because many people in this country equate quantity with a bargain,” said Meredith Niles, an assistant professor in food systems and policy at the University of Vermont. “Look at the number of restaurants  that advertise their supersized portions.” Via New York Times Image via Nina Friends / S-Market

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Student designs an ecotourism hot-spot for the Iranian desert

September 10, 2019 by  
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A student finalist in this year’s Radical Innovation competition has found a possible solution for conserving Iran’s deserts while also promoting ecotourism in the region. Sharareh Faryadi’s Nebka Protective System could be applied to both residential and tourist accommodations in deserts. Radical Innovation “mobilizes disruptors from around the world with the ideas to propel the industry forward,” according to its website. A jury of design and hospitality experts judged the competition on design, creativity and potential for impacting the industry. Nearly 50 people entered from more than 20 countries. The judges chose three professional finalists, one student winner and two student honorable mentions, with the Nebka Protective System earning a student honorable mention. Related: Experimental design-build festival takes over Californian desert The Iranian desert faces problems like air pollution , inaccessibility and, well, a huge mass of sand. But it’s also a hauntingly beautiful place of great interest to desert researchers and with potential for increased tourism. Almost a quarter of Iran’s land is desert. The Lut Desert is the most famous and is a UNESCO-registered natural phenomenon. While the shifting sands make for a magical landscape, desert wildlife benefits from some stability — that’s where nebkas come in. A nebka is a little, wind-blown accumulation of sand anchored by a bush or a tree. Nebkas help desert animals survive and help control evaporation and shifting sand sediments. Having more nebkas in deserts close to developed areas could protect cities from shifting sand. Faryadi’s Nebka Protective System is an elaborate but intriguing way to increase the number of nebkas over a 12-year cycle. Imagine a circular area in the desert that’s free of nebkas; Faryadi proposed placing a round observatory building in the center of the circle, with a long, arm-shaped hotel reaching out from that center like a clock hand. The circle is divided into 12 sections. During the first year, the long walls of the hotel would act as a dam against wind-blown sand. Each tourist and researcher staying inside would plant a seed. Some of these would sprout, spawning nebkas to stabilize the sand. After a year, the whole hotel would be lifted into the second section, and the nebka development would begin all over again. Twelve years later, the hotel would make a full circle, and the empty desert would turn into a jungle of young nebkas. The round, central area would include a glass elevator for watching the desert, and people would be able to walk around it for 360-degree views. Faryadi also planned for lots of common space, restaurants , cafes, a museum and desert research institute and areas for sand therapy, said to ease muscle and joint pain. The design incorporated traditional Iranian architecture, such as a large, open space to serve as the central yard in the family suites. Solar and wind would provide power, including that required for moving the structure every year. + Radical Innovation Images via Radical Innovation

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Student designs an ecotourism hot-spot for the Iranian desert

How to celebrate World Environment Day

June 5, 2019 by  
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Today, June 5, is World Environment Day! There are many ways that you can celebrate today, and you can use the celebration as a start to building more healthy, environmentally friendly habits. Here are some suggestions for fun activities and behavior changes to consider today and every day. Group activities for World Environment Day Plan a clean-up Get together with friends and neighbors for a clean-up activity in your area, such as at a beach, park or river. Get outside Getting outside doesn’t necessarily help nature , but taking the time to enjoy it and remember why it is essential to protect in the first place is a great way to honor the environment. Find a local hiking group or coordinate a picnic in the park. If your friends aren’t as excited about outdoor activities as you are, search for outdoorsy MeetUp groups in your area and meet some new, like-minded friends. Write to your senators What environmental issues are important to you and your family? This year, the theme of World Environment Day is “Air Pollution.” Find out what your local government is doing to protect the air quality in your area and write to your senator or representatives about your concerns. Healthy personal habits you can start now Use less water Small changes in how you use water at home can add up to a significant difference and conserve a lot of water in the long run. Turn off your tap when you are brushing your teeth. Be mindful of how long your shower is. When washing dishes, fill up a pot or large mixing bowl with warm water and dish soap. Use that water to scrub all of your dishes at once, and then turn on the tap only to rinse. Do not keep the tap running the whole time to wash and rinse each dish individually. Walk more You’ve heard it a million times, but have you implemented more walking in your own life? Consider the places you go often, like work, and figure out if there are ways that you can walk — even if it is only once or twice a week. Walking is great for your health, cuts down on transportation-related carbon emissions and allows you to get to know your neighborhood in a completely different way. Carpool Take the time to discuss with friends, family and coworkers before an event or activity and find out how you can cut down on the number of cars. For places that you go frequently — like work — get to know who lives near you and decide if you can agree on a schedule to carpool. Switch your light bulbs Every time a light bulb burns out in your house, switch to a long-lasting LED bulb . These light bulbs reduce your energy consumption and last a very long time. Buy energy-efficient appliances When possible, choose ENERGY STAR-rated appliances. It is an extra cost upfront, but it will significantly reduce your energy bill long into the future. Related: 10 money-saving tips for a green home Keep fridge coils and AC vents clean If the coils on your refrigerator and the vents on your air conditioner are kept clean, they won’t need to use up additional energy just to cool to the regular temperature. Recycle e-waste When your cellphone or laptop breaks, bring it to an e-waste recycle facility rather than letting it sit around your house or tossing it into the trash. Shut off your devices When you are finished using it, turn off your computer and monitor. Avoid overcharging your cellphone or leaving it to charge overnight. Ideally, shut off your TV and other appliances through the main switch or outlet, not just the remote, so that you break the circuit and save energy . Switch to sustainable products Consider the products you use at home, like cleaning supplies and toothpaste . Switch to something more eco-friendly, ideally made from natural, biodegradable materials in plastic-free or fully recyclable packaging. Via News 18 Images via Riccardo Chiarini , Brian Yurasits and Arek Adeoye

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A sustainable meal plan filled with recipes for Earth Day

April 19, 2019 by  
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Not all food is created equal, and not all foods are healthy for the planet. You’ve seen the headlines. Manufacturing plants suck up water, pollute with chemicals and damage the surrounding landscape. Raising cattle and other livestock is also associated with earth-damaging consequences. Most environmentalists agree that plant-based products offer the best balance of nutrition and sustainability. Earth Day is right around the corner, so it’s the perfect time to focus on foods that show our love for the planet. If you’d like to curate a meal plan incorporating plant-based ingredients, seasonal goods and limited waste, here are some recipes to inspire you. Breakfast Spring offerings make for a delightfully fresh breakfast. Eggs with asparagus and spinach 1. Broil a thick slice of rustic or sourdough bread on both sides. 2. Create an indent in the center of the bread. If applicable to your diet, add prosciutto around the edges of the bread. Fill the indent with a layer of cheese (your choice) and a generous layer of spinach . Arrange small, tender pieces of asparagus around the center. Then, gently break an egg into the spinach nest. 3. Cook at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes until the eggs are set and the vegetables are tender. Add a side of sliced apricot or avocado . Related: 12 delicious and crowd-pleasing vegan brunch ideas Lunch Vegetable-waste bowl Well that doesn’t sound very appetizing, does it? Maybe we should call it, “Keep from Wasting Vegetables Bowl” instead. The goal here is to use up whatever is in the fridge , so dig deep. 1. Roast whatever veggies you have. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots, peppers, turnip, parsnip, asparagus, beans … all of them! Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake in the oven until tender. 2. In the meantime, make a cup of your favorite grain. Quinoa, brown rice, white rice, buckwheat, barley, farrow or amaranth are great options. 3. Mix it all together, and stir in your choice of beans : pinto, kidney, garbanzo, black, etc. Top with cheese, a squirt of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil or your preferred dressing. Dinner Salad starter Spring is a great time to enjoy young greens and cool-weather lettuce along with other seasonal fruits and vegetables. There are so many combinations to try, so feel free to mix it up any way you like! 1. Start with a base of arugula, green and red lettuce, romaine and/or spinach. 2. With your leafy greens in place, choose your veggies. Many of your favorites are likely in season right now. Consider beets (shredded), carrots of all colors (shredded or sliced), radishes (thinly sliced), peas (snow, snap and garden) and broccoli florets. 3. Add some fruit. Many people forget to consider fruit when putting together a salad , but early-season strawberries and spring apricots add the perfect zing to the mix. 4. For dressing, go with a vinaigrette. They are plant-based and easy to whip up, plus there are many flavor options to create. For example, a soy/mustard combination includes: 1/4 cup tamari 1/4 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar 2 tsp Dijon mustard While a traditional berry vinaigrette is made up of: 4 large strawberries or 1/3 cup raspberries or other berry of choice 1 tbsp red wine vinegar 2 tbsp agave syrup Pinch of freshly ground black pepper 5. Top with nuts. The options are endless here too. Shaved almonds, cashews, roasted filberts, pine nuts and sunflower seeds are all excellent choices. Related: How to make a meal out of leftover veggies Easy homemade dinner pizza If you are avoiding grains, create a cauliflower-crust instead of the one here. Choose any toppings that make you happy, but this recipe focuses on light spring eats. Note: The dough performs better if made the day before. Crust: 2 tbsp agave 3 cups warm water 2 packages dry active yeast 7 cups of flour 1/4 cup olive oil 3 tbsp kosher salt 1. Combine agave, yeast and water in a bowl, and allow it to sit until it becomes foamy, about five to 10 minutes. 2. Stir in the flour, olive oil and salt. 3. Knead the mixture until smooth. 4. Coat the dough with oil, place in a bowl and cover, allowing it to rise until it doubles, about one hour. 5. Divide the dough into four balls and lay these on a sheet with space between them. Cover and refrigerate overnight. You can still use the dough without this rest period with pretty good results. 6. Warm your grill. You will be using indirect heat, so heat it up and then turn off half the flames on a gas grill or move coals to one side for charcoal. 7. Roll out one ball of dough and transfer it to the grill. Make sure your toppings are prepared and nearby. Stay close to your pizza while it cooks. Transfer the stretched-out dough to the grill. Don’t worry if it is not perfectly rounded; the handmade look adds a rustic appeal. Cook the dough for one or two minutes, then flip. Move it to indirect heat for an additional one to two minutes. Continue moving it back and forth, flipping frequently until it is bubbled and cooked through. 8. Add your favorite cheese and other toppings, and continue to cook the pizza until the cheese melts, keeping it off of direct high heat. The options for toppings are endless, but our favorite combination is toasted pine nuts, spinach, fresh basil, garlic and olives. Fresh spring flavors include arugula, fennel bulbs, peas, artichoke hearts and asparagus. Dessert Vegan strawberry ice cream No meal is complete without dessert, especially when you’re honoring the Earth. We’ll give credit to our friends over at Loving it Vegan for this sweet, plant-based option. Enjoy! 1 14oz (400ml) can coconut cream 1 14oz (400ml) can coconut milk 1/2 cup (100g) white granulated sugar 1/4 cup (60ml) maple syrup 1 cup (232g) strawberry puree 1 tbsp strawberry extract 1/2 tsp salt 1. Add a can of coconut milk , a can of coconut cream, sugar and maple syrup to a pot. 2. Bring that to a simmer, stirring constantly. 3. As soon as it simmers, remove the pot from the heat and add in strawberries puree, salt and strawberry extract. 4. Blend everything until smooth. 5. Next, put the mixture into a storage container and place into the fridge to chill overnight. If you are in a hurry, place the mixture in the freezer for an hour or so. 6. Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker until it reaches your desired consistency. This can take about 20 minutes to 45 minutes. The best way to celebrate the planet is through your stomach. With the right ingredients, that’s a win-win! Images via Shutterstock

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How this startup is making ‘friendly food’ its mission

March 15, 2019 by  
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Launching a mission-based startup means growing pains when it comes to expanding and funding. Here’s how Wild Friends is overcoming them.

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How this startup is making ‘friendly food’ its mission

Poor air quality found at over 2,000 sites across the UK

March 1, 2019 by  
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A new study shows that close to 2,000 sites across the U.K. have poor air quality due to excess pollution. The cities most affected by high levels of toxic gas were in Wales, England and Northern Ireland, all of which were tested well beyond what is considered safe. One of the main culprits behind the alarming numbers is nitrogen dioxide, a gas that is considered one of the most harmful of urban pollutants. Kensington, Chelsea, Leeds and Doncaster all tested high in nitrogen dioxide in 2017. This gas irritates lungs and creates breathing issues. One of the main sources of nitrogen dioxide is vehicle emissions. Related: Toxic smog causes school closures in Bangkok Earlier this week, London’s mayor announced a pollution alert as residents in the country enjoyed a rare warm spell for February. The warning was the first of its kind since last summer and was precipitated by light winds and lack of storms, which usually help drive away harmful gases. While poor air quality is a major issue across the country, London is about to initiate a plan to help clean things up. The city is establishing an ultra-low emission area in central London that will vastly improve air quality. The initiative is expected to remove around 45 percent of emissions by this spring. The researches who conducted the study are part of a group called Friends of the Earth. Based on their findings, the group called for better emission standards throughout the country and are urging ministers to tighten up government control. “It’s unforgivable that across the UK there are nearly 2,000 locations over air quality limits, leaving millions of us breathing dangerously polluted air,” one of the researchers, Simon Bowens, explained. Air pollution has been previously linked to major health problems in human populations, including heart disease, dementia and even miscarriages. Children are particularly susceptible to the harmful effects of air pollution, which can damage lungs and even impact intelligence levels. If London’s new program is successful, hopefully other cities will follow suit and start improving air quality before it becomes an even bigger problem. Via The Guardian Images via Foto-Rabe

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New research shows an organic diet shrinks pesticide exposure

February 13, 2019 by  
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The bad news isn’t news to many — eating a conventional diet leads to pesticide buildup. But a new study published in Environmental Research reveals surprisingly good news. Switching to an all-organic diet quickly and significantly reduced synthetic pesticide levels in study participants. After six days of an all-organic diet, their pesticide and pesticide metabolite levels dropped by an average of 60.5 percent. Four American families of different races participated in the study, titled Organic Diet Intervention Significantly Reduces Urinary Pesticide Levels in U.S. Children and Adults . The families lived in Atlanta, Baltimore, Minneapolis and Oakland. Related: Is a flexitarian diet right for you? The most significant finding was a huge drop in levels of organophosphates, insecticides that are commonly used in agriculture , gardening and household products, such as roach spray. Farm workers often administer them when growing apples, peaches, strawberries, spinach, potatoes and other common crops. The study showed a 95 percent drop in the organophosphate malathion, a probable human carcinogen linked to brain damage in children. Levels of pesticides associated with endocrine disruption, autism, adverse reproductive effects, thyroid disorders, lymphoma and other serious health issues dropped between 37 and 83 percent after a week of all-organic eating. “This study shows that organic works,” said study co-author Kendra Klein, PhD, senior staff scientist at Friends of the Earth. “We all have the right to food that is free of toxic pesticides . Farmers and farmworkers growing our nation’s food and rural communities have a right not to be exposed to chemicals linked to cancer, autism and infertility. And the way we grow food should protect, not harm, our environment. We urgently need our elected leaders to support our farmers in making healthy organic food available for all.” The study’s authors are affiliated with the University of California at San Francisco, UC Berkeley, Friends of the Earth U.S. and the Commonweal Institute. Friends of the Earth is urging the U.S. Congress to pass a bill to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that causes brain damage in children. In 2017 under President Trump, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reversed its proposed ban on chlorpyrifos. + Friends of the Earth Image via Paja1000

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New research shows an organic diet shrinks pesticide exposure

A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for your friends

December 19, 2018 by  
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Are you searching for the perfect gift for your best friend? Or maybe you’re looking for something special for all the friends on your gift list. Either way, here are some of our favorite gifts this season that are beautiful, thoughtful and sustainable. Natural, handmade soaps While the masses swarm big name stores for lotions and bath soaps, find an eco-friendly option that is actually easier on the eyes and the wallet. It’s pretty easy to find local soap makers in your area, but you can also check on Etsy or stores like Lush , which offers soaps made with fruits, veggies, herbs and oils and also come with minimal (if any) packaging. Related: A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for family Zero-waste wine What better way to show how much you love your friends than with a delicious bottle of wine made from the world’s first certified zero-waste winery? Pick up a bottle of Fetzer for the friends on your gift list, and pair it with some organic cheese or a couple of cute wine glasses. Cozy socks ‘Tis the season of cozy socks, but not just any pair will do. Be sure the fabric of the socks you give this season is eco-friendly, like these snuggly, fair-trade wool sweater socks made from organic wool. Succulents As succulents continue to grow in popularity, now is the perfect time to pick some up for everyone on your list. Coupled with a nice planter, succulents are a thoughtful gift that will brighten up your friends’ homes or desks without requiring too much attention. A succulent subscription box is also a nice present that your friends can receive for many months after the holiday ends. Reusable mugs Whether they prefer coffee, tea or hot chocolate, your friends will love this cute mug made from glass and cork . It’s durable and BPA-free, plus, it will hopefully curb the disposable cups that come from spontaneous coffee runs. Images via Viktor Forgacs , Kym Ellis , Riala , Alex Holyoake , Goran Ivos and Shutterstock

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Federal judge blocks the Keystone XL Pipeline

November 12, 2018 by  
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In a major setback for President Trump and his administration, a U.S. district judge has issued an order to block construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline while the State Department studies its impact on the environment . Last year, the Trump administration approved the controversial 1,179-mile pipeline, but Judge Brian Morris’ 54-page order is preventing it from being built — for now. The decision does not permanently stop construction, but it is putting the development on hold until the State Department takes a harder look at the impact the pipeline will have on oil prices, the cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions, potential oil spills and cultural resources. Related: The Keystone Pipeline leak was nearly twice as big as we thought Under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, there is an obligation to protect the environment. Under the Obama administration, the State Department denied a permit to build the pipeline because of the environmental effects. But President Trump shifted the policy when he took office and invited TransCanada to re-submit its permit application just four days after he was sworn in. Then, in March 2017, the POTUS signed an executive order supporting the Keystone Pipeline’s construction. Judge Morris wrote in his decision that the president did not give a reasoned explanation or a fact-based determination for the course reversal. According to NPR , there has been a lot of backlash from environmentalists and indigenous peoples since the pipeline’s conception in 2008 because of the possible environmental impact and violations of historic treaties. “Today’s ruling is a decisive moment in our fight against the corporate polluters who have rushed to destroy our planet,” said Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth. “Today, the courts showed the Trump administration and their corporate polluter friends that they cannot bully rural landowners, farmers, environmentalists and Native communities.” If the Keystone Pipeline does become a reality, it will run through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Canada, and it will transport about 830,000 barrels of crude oil each day. Via NPR Image via Pax Ahimsa Gethen

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Yves Bhar designs compact, prefab homes to tackle the housing crisis

November 12, 2018 by  
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Yves Béhar has designed everything from high-tech wearables to voice-activated,  transforming furniture  — now, the prolific San Francisco-based designer is adding prefabricated homes to the list. Unveiled earlier this month at the Summit Festival in Los Angeles, the YB1 (Yves Béhar LivingHomes) is a line of prefabricated accessory dwelling units created in partnership with LivingHomes, the design studio of California-based prefabricated home producers Plant Prefab. The fully customizable homes are built with sustainable construction methods and materials, and they are aimed at increasing urban density while reducing the environmental impact of new construction. Designed with flexibility in mind, the modular YB1 can be fully customized to meet a variety of living requirements, climatic conditions and aesthetic desires. The first three available versions of YB1, for instance, include three different floor plans and roof systems thanks to a 4-foot grid system that allows for a range of 250- to 1,200-square-foot units. Depending on the footprint, the interiors can be outfitted with a full kitchen, bathroom with a shower, living room, a bedroom and an office. Homeowners will be able to choose the appliances, finishes, lighting and electrical systems ahead of time for pre-installation. “Following our work on efficient living with robotic furniture company ORI, I’m excited to extend the passion for tiny homes and prefab by partnering with LivingHomes. For me, the next frontier of design is to think of the entire home as a product that a homeowner can shape to their needs in terms of size, usage, aesthetic and lifestyle,” said Yves Béhar, founder and CEO of fuseproject . “This is why we’re interested in the customizable nature of prefabricated ADU’s: people want their living environment to be a reflection of their specific life needs. The design goal of the LivingHomes ADU is adding urban density with a range of sizes and home designs while providing a building system that delivers on sustainable and efficient living in urban areas.” Related: Yves Béhar’s shapeshifting Ori furniture transforms your home at the touch of a button To reduce the environmental impact of YB1, the designers will use Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood siding and cement panels as well as passive solar principles to inform the roof options. The houses will also offer Smart Home capabilities for measuring resource use and energy production. Plant Prefab’s efficient building system allows the homes to be constructed in just one month. Then, it takes only a day to install them on-site. Initial pricing for the YB1 starts at around $280,000; however, the designers hope to offer Yves Béhar LivingHomes for less than $100,000 in the future. + YB1 Images via Yves Béhar

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