Emerging Leaders find inspiration in sustainability veterans, and one another

March 4, 2020 by  
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This year’s Emerging Leaders “are the game changers that this industry needs — critical, compassionate, and tremendously capable.”

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Emerging Leaders find inspiration in sustainability veterans, and one another

Can the military’s serious take on climate change win over more hearts and minds?

March 4, 2020 by  
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The Pentagon takes climate risks seriously. It remains to be seen if doubters will begin to heed the expert admirals and generals.

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Can the military’s serious take on climate change win over more hearts and minds?

Tackling sustainability in sporting events

February 19, 2020 by  
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At the recent Super Bowl, the NFL focused on sustainability more than in past years with its Ocean to Everglades (O2E) initiative throughout South Florida. Efforts included education on invasive species, beach cleanups, food recovery and recycling initiatives. These conservation efforts are part of a larger trend internationally to shrink the carbon footprints of major sporting events. “Sports is one of the few avenues which can unite people of all different races, creeds and social status,” Matt Jozwiak said in an interview with Inhabitat. Jozwiak was a chef at swanky New York restaurant Eleven Madison Park before founding Rethink Food NYC . His organization feeds 2,000 New Yorkers a day by repurposing leftovers from restaurants and food companies in the tri-state area. Jozwiak is a big proponent of more sustainable sporting events. “The industry literally has the power to make drastic sustainability changes. When a sporting team comes out in favor of a cause, people listen.” He acknowledges there may be growing pains when adopting unfamiliar behaviors. “But eventually, fans will go along with the new changes.” Sporting events step up to sustainability Fans traveling to one European Cup match can generate almost 5,600 tons of carbon dioxide, according to the World Economic Forum. But now, many sports are taking a closer look at how to be more responsible. Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic Games are a leading example of organizers prioritizing sustainability in their planning. For example, builders will use locally sourced wood to construct the athletes’ village, and hydrogen fuel cells will power the event vehicles. Organizers plan to generate solar power onsite and recycle 99 percent of everything used during the event. With the exception of drinking water, they’ll use recycled rainwater for all Olympic water needs. Paris is hoping to be even more sustainable during its turn to host the 2024 Olympic Games. Related: Tokyo’s Olympic medals will be made from recycled phones Some European cities have given their football (soccer to Americans) stadiums an eco-makeover by installing seats made from recycled plastic. In Amsterdam, fans bought the old seats as souvenirs. The stadium in Pontedera, Italy boasts seats made using plastic from local waste. Meanwhile, in England, the Forest Green Rovers have won the title of world’s greenest football club by powering its grounds with solar, recycling water and serving an entirely vegan menu to players and fans. At the 2019 Helsinki International Horse Show, 135 tons of horse manure powered the electricity. A company called Fortum HorsePower enlists 4,300 Finnish horses to generate energy for electrical grids. Stadium food waste Jozwiak takes a special interest in food wasted inside stadiums. He’s found that stadiums are among the hardest places from which to rescue food, because they tend to only have games periodically and throw the food away afterward. Much of that food quickly spoils or gets soggy and unappetizing, like hamburger buns and pretzels. Stadiums should rely on freezers more, Jozwiak said. “Instead of purchasing food all the time, bulk purchase and immediately freezing can cut down a lot on the waste for sporting arenas. Proper refrigeration strategies can expand the lifecycle of food and reduce food waste.”  He also recommended a fire sale strategy for avoiding waste. “Implement a plan where spectators can purchase the remaining food to take home,” he advised. “A lot of food ends up in landfills . So if sporting arenas can provide the options for the fans to either buy or provide for free the remaining food, it would cut down on waste drastically.” One by one, stadium directors of operations need to craft individual action plans to become more sustainable, Joswiak suggested. In addition to avoiding food waste, he recommended conserving water and offering healthier food options with more vegetables and less meat . Stadiums should only contract with vendors who can manage recycling. New buildings should work to be LEED-certified. Joswiak suggested hosting a climate-related event for fans to explain and support all of these green changes. If fans could be convinced to bring their own reusable utensils, that would be great, too. Eco-travel to sporting events Of course, while the football match or the golf tournament is the main event, fans and players still have to travel to the game and may require overnight housing. According to Solar Impulse, 5 million people converged on Russia in 2018 to watch the FIFA World Cup. Their travel and accommodations generated about 85% of greenhouse gas emissions from this event, totaling about 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Related: Green-roofed Copenhagen sports center is open to the public 24/7 Some major governing bodies in sports are embracing carbon offset projects around the world to atone for their contribution to emissions. FIFA managed to offset 1.1 million tons of carbon emissions since the 2014 World Cup . The governing body for European football is promising to offset fan-generated emissions for the EURO 2020 competition. It has also collaborated with the 12 host cities to offer free public transportation to fans with tickets on the days of the matches. This should cut down on emissions and road congestion. Via World Economic Forum and Solar Impulse Images via Shutterstock

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Tackling sustainability in sporting events

Tesla revives its clean energy business with new version of its solar roof tiles

October 30, 2019 by  
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Tesla’s newly released version of solar roof tiles is promising to be a better green energy alternative. For one, it is easier to install than traditional shingles. Plus, these new Tesla tiles are more cost-effective than purchasing a new roof with separate solar panels. Because of the innovative upgrades, Tesla CEO Elon Musk optimistically projects the company will install 1,000 of these new solar roofs per week. Tesla ventured into the solar roof industry three years ago in partnership with SolarCity, which Tesla acquired in 2016. The most recently upgraded solar roof tiles are designed to look like normal roof tiles yet double as power-generating solar panels. Related: Newly-revealed Tesla solar roof patent shows the secrets behind the technology This newly unveiled solar roof tile is a third-generation version that features more refinements like increased size, beefed up power density, reduced components for better efficiency and improved roof edges that no longer require time-consuming “artisanal” fine-tuning onsite. The new solar roof tiles are made from tempered glass and are three times more durable than standard roofing tiles. As Musk explained, “With versions one and two, we were still sort of figuring things out. Version three, I think, is finally ready for the big time. And so, we’re scaling our production of the version three solar tower roof at our Buffalo Gigafactory. And I think this product is going to be incredible.” Tesla’s website offers two varieties of solar roof — a normal roof with solar panels and the third iteration of the textured glass shingle roof. Musk has touted the latter to be cheaper, easier and faster to install than its predecessors. The version three roof has a 25-year warranty, and its glass material can endure 130-mph winds and hail of up to 1.75 inches in diameter. Efficiency is the name of the game in the solar roof sector. Thus, for Tesla, the company plans to implement a “Tesla-certified installer” program that enlists outside roofers that are local to the client. Similarly, Tesla has optimized its roof installation so that the whole process should only span eight hours. Musk has said that orders for Tesla’s version three solar panels have risen as a response to the power outages caused by California utility PG&E repeatedly shutting off electricity to hundreds of thousands of Golden State residents to prevent wildfires . Tesla therefore is recommending homeowners go green to avoid these rolling blackouts. “We can make roofs come alive,” Musk shared. “There are all these roofs out there just gathering sunlight, but not doing anything with it. In the future, it will be odd for roofs to be dormant or not gathering energy.” + Tesla Via CNBC Image via Tesla

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Tesla revives its clean energy business with new version of its solar roof tiles

YouTube stars partner up in #TeamTrees campaign to plant 20 million trees

October 30, 2019 by  
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To combat the climate crisis , a coalition of YouTubers has joined together for a mammoth mission to plant 20 million trees beginning in January 2020. Called #TeamTrees, the reforestation campaign has social media all abuzz. They have, so far, raised enough funds to plant more than 8 million trees, and that number is rising. How did it all start? When YouTuber Jimmy Donaldson, or MrBeast, reached the 20 million subscribers milestone on his YouTube channel, which is dedicated to extreme stunts and philanthropic challenges, his subscribers dared him to plant 20 million trees to commemorate the occasion. The campaign quickly went viral. Related: Scientists confirm tree planting is our best solution to climate change “People keep making fun of our generation for retweet activism and not actually doing something … this is your chance to make a difference,” MrBeast said to his supporters. “Just to be clear, we all realize 20 million trees won’t fix climate change . But at the end of the day, 20 million more trees is better than zero! We want to take action because doing nothing is how we got here!” Upward of 600 YouTube creatives have since joined the #TeamTrees initiative, even rallying their subscribers to follow suit with the planting trees endeavor. To date, these social media influencers have a combined total of 650 million subscribers, double the United States population.  Each $1 donation plants a single tree. In the first 48 hours of the #TeamTrees website going live on October 25, the initiative raised more than $5 million — and the funds keep growing. All donations are sent directly to the Arbor Day Foundation, the nonprofit devoted to tree planting . For almost 50 years, the nonprofit has planted 250 million trees worldwide. Trees funded by the #TeamTrees endeavor will be planted across the globe beginning January 2020. The Arbor Day Foundation anticipates a December 2022 completion date; the year 2022 will mark the 150th anniversary of the first Arbor Day. To promote successful tree survival rates, the Arbor Day Foundation will partner with the United State Forest Service, the National Park Service and the National Association of State Foresters to ensure the trees planted will not be invasive species . The trees chosen will be native to the region in which they are planted, many in national forests managed by government agencies. To speed up the process, the #TeamTrees campaign is entertaining a collaboration with DroneSeed, a company that deploys drones to plant trees in a scalable fashion. Small drones first map out the landscape, followed by larger drones that drop seed vessels at locations ideal for growing trees. Additionally, this eco-friendly YouTube collaboration is flooding the platform with tree content. The #TeamTrees coalition hopes to game the algorithm and push for more environmental videos to rank at the top of the recommended playlists. With tree videos trending next to cat videos, Mother Nature would be proud. + #TeamTrees Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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YouTube stars partner up in #TeamTrees campaign to plant 20 million trees

Aluminum cans vs plastic bottles: which is best for the environment?

October 30, 2019 by  
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We’ve all been guilty of buying an unsustainable beverage every once in a while, but when faced with the perplexing conundrum of whether to grab that plastic bottle or aluminum can, which do you believe to be more environmentally-friendly ? The history of plastic goes back to the early 1900s when the first fully synthetic plastic was invented as an alternative to the shellac used in electronic insulation. During World War II, plastic production increased by 300% in the United States as it was used for everything, from nylon in ropes and parachutes to plexiglass in airplane windows. After the war, commercial use of plastic had completely taken off and incorporated into virtually every product and market in modern life. By the 1960s, the first occurrence of plastic pollution in the oceans was recorded. Related: This rechargeable camping headlamp is made out of sustainable wood and recycled aluminum Today, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 80% of the marine debris found in our oceans originated as land-based trash that was not recycled. Over 90% of the plastics found in the ocean is comprised of microplastics, which commonly end up ingested by aquatic animals, often killing them through choking or toxicity. The National Geographic Society found that 91% of the world’s plastic was not recycled in 2018. That alarming statistic means that all but 9% of plastic waste ends up either in landfills or in the ocean. Plastic bottles are made from petroleum, or “crude oil.” Oil drilling, also known as fracking, wastes water, releases methane into the atmosphere, produces oil spills and generally wreaks havoc on the environment. Plastic bottles are typically too thin to recycle into more plastic bottles, but the material can be made into fibers for things like carpets, clothing and sleeping bags. In 2018, the recycling rate for plastic bottles was just over 29%. The use of aluminum cans was first introduced to the general public in 1959 by Coors. About five years later, Royal Crown Cola brought aluminum into the soft drinks game with their RC Cola and Diet Rite. Since then, they’ve been used for everything from energy drinks and sparkling waters to sodas and wine. Aluminum offered an affordable alternative to steel as well as a more convenient surface for company printed text and graphics. Aluminum cans can be recycled into more cans in a true “closed-loop” recycling process. In 2018 the recycling rate for aluminum cans was 49.8%. The liquid inside the aluminum can benefit from the material as well, since aluminum blocks light, moisture and oxygen from permeating the outside. This makes the drinks more sustainable , as they have a longer shelf-life. Lightweight cans have only decreased in weight over the years, with the first aluminum cans weighing about three ounces per unit and modern cans weighing less than half an ounce. Typically recycling programs value aluminum over plastic or glass, with the former holding $1,317 worth of value per ton of recyclable material versus plastic’s $299 per ton. This allows more municipal recycling programs to stay in service. IFC International, a global management consulting and technology company, found in a 2016 study that the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the transportation and refrigeration of aluminum are 7 to 21 percent lower than that of plastic and 35 to 49 percent lower than glass. The easy-to-recycle aluminum material doesn’t stop there; the shiny stuff’s strength is another advantage. According to the Aluminum Association , four six-packs can hold up a two-ton vehicle thanks to the packaging’s aversion to rust, corrosion and ability to withhold carbonation pressure. This stamina allows companies to package and transport more product using less material. Related: Prada jumps into the sustainability realm with six Re-Nylon bags made from recycled plastic waste When it comes to the amount of recycled material found in cans versus plastic bottles, aluminum has the upper hand, as well. In 2016 the Environmental Protection Agency found that aluminum cans contain three times the amount of recycled content than plastic. They also estimated that aluminum cans are made up of 73% recycled material on average.  Aluminum doesn’t occur in nature and is primarily comprised of bauxite rock, which is primarily found in Australia, India and Brazil. Collecting bauxite comprises of open-pit mining, which usually involves moving or bulldozing large amounts of vegetation and surface rocks. This type of mining negatively affects ecosystems and creates air and water pollution , which can cause health issues for wildlife and humans. Not to mention, the combination of electrolysis and chemical processing that it takes to turn bauxite into conventional aluminum takes a large amount of heat and energy. However, the Aluminum Association assures that land conservation has become an important focus among bauxite mining. Topsoil from the site is stored to be replaced after the process is finished, so “an average of 80 percent of the land mined for bauxite is returned to its native ecosystem.” So how can you make sure you’re not contributing to plastic or aluminum pollution? Always reach for that reusable water bottle before going out! Fill it with water, soda, juice or whatever you like. For those unavoidable times when you end up with plastic or aluminum waste, get some inspiration for recycling through Inhabitat! Images via pasja1000 , gepharts3d , filmbetrachterin , Enriquehgz , Mr.TinDC

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Aluminum cans vs plastic bottles: which is best for the environment?

Newly released video game challenges players to survive the climate apocalypse

October 28, 2019 by  
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Ever wonder how you’ll survive an apocalyptic climate crisis ? You can now get a simulated preview of your survival chances in a newly released, multiplatform video game, The Climate Trail. Developed by William Volk, the game focuses on a group of climate refugees fleeing Atlanta for Canada as the conditions all around them worsen. Wanting to raise awareness about the climate crisis in hopes of dispelling climate change denial and inaction, Volk charged ahead with creating the game despite having to overcome “the challenge of learning a new development system (Ren’Py) and programming language (Python).” Thus, he released The Climate Trail, which combines visual graphic novel storytelling with simulation game elements. Related: Climate change is a public health issue amounting to billions in medical costs According to his developer blog , “I’ve self-funded the project because I want to make people care about the climate issue,” Volk explained. “I wanted to create an emotional impact, weave in science information and make a game that makes a difference. I’ve always believed that games can have social value.” Inspired by the iconic game The Oregon Trail, which was a hallmark of elementary, middle and high schools from the 1970s to the 1990s, Volk’s game is as an educational survival foray, wherein players are pitted against hunger, thirst, extreme weather and other cataclysmic disasters in a dystopian future ravaged by the excesses of climate change. Incorporating scientific information about global warming , greenhouse gas emissions and sea level rise , Volk hopes the game will be introduced to schools as an instructive tool, teaching the value of resourcefulness in unpredictable and risky scenarios. With education as his top priority for the game, Volk made sure to steer away from gun-toting scenes, even humbly apologizing in his blog, “Sorry, no shooting in this one.” Rather, he chose to focus on knowledge and information, saying he paid “a lot more attention to the science of climate change” to make the game convincing, for the purpose of “catching the conscience of the deniers and doubters, to really take climate change seriously.” Volk shared, “The catch-22 about this game is I started it with a much more optimistic attitude than when I finished it. The more I dug into it, the more it seemed things were actually worse than imagined.” There are three levels of difficulty: moderate, significant and extreme. Available free for download and even free of advertisements, the game can be played with Mac, PC Windows and Linux systems. Mobile versions for iPhone, iPad and Android Google Play are available as well. + The Climate Trail Via Gizmodo Images via The Climate Trail

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Newly released video game challenges players to survive the climate apocalypse

Living Vehicle’s 2020 travel trailer generates a whopping 200 percent more solar power than its previous model

October 24, 2019 by  
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A few years ago, we estimated that HofArc’s Living Vehicle would be the future of off-grid living, and now the company has unveiled a new-and-improved model that ups the game when it comes to off-grid, net-zero travel trailers . Adding to its luxurious, eco-friendly features, the Living Vehicle 2020 version generates up to 200 percent more solar power than its previous model. Designed by award-winning, LEED-accredited architect and mobile space designer Matthew Hofmann, the Living Vehicle models offer the full package when it comes to sustainable travel trailers. According to the company’s description of the 2020 model, it has several updated features, but like the previous models, it is strategically engineered to be the highest-end luxury trailer on the market. Related: This Living Vehicle can take you completely off grid for a month The stunning tiny home on wheels comes in the same glossy aluminum cladding, giving it a sleek, modern feel. In fact, the trailer was made with zero wood products, with most of its parts, including the chassis, frame, interior and exterior skin, subflooring and all cabinets, being made out of aluminum. For adventurers seeking to go off the grid for long periods of time, the 28-foot long Living Vehicle offers the ability to do just that. Built with a stand-alone electrical powerhouse with solar-generated Volta Power Systems, the 2020 version generates an impressive 200 percent more solar power than its previous model. Even the refrigerator, dishwasher and pull-out microwave in the kitchen operate on solar power . Additionally, its robust design enables the travel trailer to take on virtually any landscape, from the barren desert landscapes to icy, mountainous regions. Four-season capabilities, off-road running gear and ample storage for equipment allows for an infinite amount of rugged adventures. If all of that durability and unprecedented sustainability isn’t enough, the luxurious interior design is truly out of this world. Much like its modern exterior, the interior also boasts a contemporary edge. The interior features furnishings made out of natural and extremely durable materials that are free from solvents, chemicals and VOCs. The living space was designed to accommodate four people, although it can be increased to six upon request. As an extra bonus, the 2020 model even comes with the ability to extend the living area thanks to a fully integrated, self-supporting deck that offers open-air space. Living Vehicles are so popular that the previous model sold out incredibly fast. Unfortunately, the company has said that it will only be producing 25 of the 2020 models, which start at $199,995. + Living Vehicle Images via Living Vehicle

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Living Vehicle’s 2020 travel trailer generates a whopping 200 percent more solar power than its previous model

Unfavorable times for the electric scooter industry

October 24, 2019 by  
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Once billed as an environmentally-friendly and enterprising venture, the electric scooter-sharing micromobility business has not lived up to the promising hype but is now looking dismal. Could this be the end for e-scooters? By commuting via e-scooters, it was hoped they would reduce traffic volume, promote zero-carbon transport and improve air quality by mitigating pollution . Instead, there have even been numerous complaints regarding cluttered sidewalks and claims about the injuries they cause due to irresponsible riders. Not to mention, they have an average lifespan of less than a month per e-scooter together, with an average of three and a half rides per day, their cost-effectiveness and sustainability are coming into question. Related:  We love electric scooters — but is the Bird trend actually bad for the environment? However, e-scooter economics have been grabbing headlines, especially since the two major players, Bird and Lime, are projected to financially lose big time. Lime, for instance, is experiencing a troubling downturn to the tune of $300 million in operational costs because of “depreciation of its e-scooters and how much it costs to run warehouses that repair and position the vehicles,” according to The Information . Similarly, its competitor, Bird, has likewise lost approximately $100 million in the first quarter of this year while revenues shrank to just $15 million. Consequently, Bird is trying to drum up more investment capital just to stay afloat, thus hinting at the startup’s overvaluation. Perhaps even more worrisome is the perspective that these e-scooters, despite being electric, are in fact environmentally unfriendly. Repeatedly manufacturing, purchasing, transporting, repairing and replacing a continuous array of e-scooters with short lifespans do not collectively translate to a reduced carbon footprint .  As for those e-scooters that find themselves inoperable and beyond repair from vandalism or theft, their parts are not likely to be recycled but improperly disposed of. Finally, the lithium-ion batteries that power these e-scooters have associated environmental risks, thereby raising concerns about just how eco-friendly they are after all. Interestingly, e-scooters have now entered the radar of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI). “This is a new item coming into scrapyards. ISRI is working to educate its members about e-scooters and advises them to be on the lookout for these devices,” says Mark Carpenter, ISRI assistant vice president of communications and marketing. “Facilities need to be aware the scooters contain batteries that can pose a safety hazard, and those must be removed before handling.” The environmental hazards that e-scooters pose, coupled with their poor economic feasibility, have understandably sparked skepticism. It remains to be seen whether the labor and cost intensive e-scooter business model will prove to be anything but wasteful in their net sustainability. Via Gizmodo and The Information Image via Lime

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Unfavorable times for the electric scooter industry

Jason Momoa shaves beard to shine a spotlight on plastic pollution

April 19, 2019 by  
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When you have 11 million Instagram followers, your simplest move can elicit thousands of comments. When you’re ready for a major transformation, such as shaving off the beard you’ve been growing since 2012, you can pair the shearing with a save-the-world message. So we understand a viral video of Jason Momoa, beloved Game of Thrones star, shaving off his beastly beard while talking about plastic pollution . The 39-year-old actor’s call for action is part of a growing wave of awareness of the 19 billion pounds of plastic waste  winding up in the world’s oceans every year. “I just want to use this to bring awareness that plastics are killing our planet,” he said before continuing with a solution . “There’s only one thing that can really help our planet and save our planet as long as we recycle. That’s aluminum .” Then, he took a long, refreshing sip from a can of water. Somebody send the man a refillable bottle, please! The canned water is still shrouded in mystery. It seems to be a promotion involving the Ball Corporation, but exactly what the product is and whether Game of Thrones fans and other thirsty people can buy it has not yet been revealed. Related: Plastic pollution is causing reproductive problems for ocean wildlife Fan feedback so far centers on discussion of Momoa’s hotness with or without a beard. Some fans also seem to be contemplating the plastic issue. In Grist’s popular advice column, Ask Umbra , they’ve addressed this problem many times. Aluminum, Umbra has reported, is a mixed bag. Manufacturing the cans requires bauxite mining (not good), but it can be recycled endlessly and is valuable to recyclers (great). If the aluminum has a high recycled content, it’s generally a good choice. However, it is not the best. Umbra said, “None of the single-use beverage containers out there, with their raw material consumption and shipping impacts and less-than-optimal recycling rates, can hold a candle to a sturdy bottle you can rinse out and use ad infinitum.” Via Huffington Post , Grist Image via Gage Skidmore

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