Climate Neutral Certification labels products with minimized carbon footprints

December 13, 2019 by  
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The idea of the Climate Neutral Certification is a simple one — give businesses the opportunity to identify their carbon emissions and then reduce them and pay for programs that offset them. Climate Neutral, an independent, nonprofit organization, monitors the entire process and provides a unique certification for companies that meet all four criteria. The certification can then be displayed on products and/or their packages, making it simple for consumers to support brands that practice corporate responsibility for the planet. The proposed Climate Neutral Certification consists of four elements that businesses need to meet in order to earn the esteemed Climate Neutral label. Measure Measuring a total carbon footprint involves evaluating every step in the manufacturing process, including material production, power and water requirements, packaging, shipping and more. Climate Neutral helps businesses measure their carbon footprint to meet a uniform standard. Related: PaperTale app shows the ethics and sustainability of clothing with a simple scan Reduce With a carbon footprint number in hand, businesses are then challenged to reduce it. That process might include reducing packaging, using more earth-friendly materials, finding less impactful shipping methods or powering manufacturing processes with solar energy . Offset At this stage, the emissions that cannot be reduced or eliminated must be offset. That means these companies pay other companies to remove carbon from the air or keep it from getting there in the first place (like by planting trees or investing in wind turbines .) Carbon Neutral monitors the payment of these offsets and ensures they are invested in verifiable carbon offset projects. Label Once a company completes the first three steps, it earns the Climate Neutral Certification and can display the label proudly on its products. Benefits of the certification This entire process has advantages for everyone involved. First of all, it empowers businesses to be transparent about their manufacturing processes, material sourcing and consumption. Plus, a company’s investment to reduce carbon emissions is also an investment in a loyal customer base. The certification also a powerful tool for consumers who want to be more conscientious about their purchases but don’t always have the information they need to make good purchasing decisions. Simply look for the label. Thirdly, and perhaps the most obvious, is that the Climate Neutral Certification is good for the environment, because it supports organizations working directly toward carbon reductions and makes it more accessible for consumers to choose eco-friendly products. At least 50 brands have already signed up and earned the certification, and Climate Neutral would like to expand that number into the thousands as soon as possible. To support the effort, it has launched a now fully funded Kickstarter campaign (ends December 12, 2019). + Climate Neutral Images via Climate Neutral

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Climate Neutral Certification labels products with minimized carbon footprints

Repurposed coffee grounds provide sustainable clothing pigment alternative

September 27, 2019 by  
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Scientists from Iowa State University (ISU) recently unveiled a natural alternative to synthetic clothing pigment. This natural alternative is sourced from brewed coffee grounds. The research team , spearheaded by ISU Assistant Professor Chunhui Xiang and graduate student Changhyun “Lyon” Nam, found a possible alternative via repurposed coffee grounds. Rather than adding to landfill density and single-use waste, brewed coffee grounds can instead be transformed into another high-value resource. Related: Blue dye could be the next key to harnessing renewable energy Brewed coffee grounds are feasible because 100 million Americans drink coffee daily, meaning there is an adequate supply of coffee grounds that can be upcycled and diverted away from landfills. Shades of brown can be extracted from the coffee grounds, then bound to various textiles and fabrics. Of course, there remain the quandaries of fading and of replicating consistent hues. While the use of pigment fixative helps to bind the color to the fabric and reduce fading, producing consistent hues that can match a template proves to be more complex. More research is required before repurposed coffee grounds can be ready for mass-production of pigments.  “One disadvantage is that it’s hard to measure the quantity needed to get the same color,” Xiang explained. “There may be a difference in the type of beans, or maybe the coffee was brewed twice. Creating an exact match is a challenge, especially for manufacturers.” However, Xiang asserted that hue consistency can be overcome by changing consumer attitudes. If consumers are able to reframe their interests so that they accept the uniqueness of colors rather than demand their consistency, then repurposed coffee grounds, as a sustainable source, can be a worthwhile commercial venture. Historically, textile hues were originally sourced from plants and minerals.  But industrialization forced the textile sector to turn to synthetics, because laboratories could produce them at cheaper cost. Over time, these synthetics have become less and less environmentally friendly. Because the textile industry utilizes upward of 2 million tons of chemicals for its synthetic pigments, there has been a growing movement in today’s society to find more sustainable sources, such as repurposed coffee grounds. + Taylor and Francis Online Via Phys.org Image via Couleur

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Repurposed coffee grounds provide sustainable clothing pigment alternative

Disneys American parks will now offer hundreds of vegan menu items

September 26, 2019 by  
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The “Happiest Place” on Earth will begin adding hundreds of plant-based dishes. The rollout will begin this October at Disney World, then make its way to Disneyland in 2020. More than 400 vegan dishes will be prepared and served at Disney’s fast-service and dine-in restaurants throughout the park. With more than 602 places to eat at the theme park in Florida and California, there will be more than enough places to catch a healthy bite. Due to the park’s many themed sections, Disney has developed a themed vegan dish to follow through with the park land and hotels. Related: Impossible Burger is now available in grocery stores Hydroponics, aeroponics and aquaponics have all been showcased within The Land pavilion, especially in its “Living with the Land” exhibit.  The fruits and vegetables that are grown there, in fact, supply the ingredients utilized in the various meals and dishes throughout EPCOT and DisneyWorld. Given The Land pavilion’s commitment to symbiotic agriculture and nutrition, it seems long overdue for Disney to bring more vegan-friendly menu items to its many dining establishments. “We’re always looking for ways to bring more flavor, innovation, and creativity to the Disney dining experience,” shared Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director with Walt Disney Company. “Our guests have embraced our plant-based offerings at our parks around the globe, inspiring us to expand our menu and introduce a new menu icon, a green leaf, that will make it easier than ever to find these creations during your visit.” With Disney’s embrace of veganism, vegetarianism, even flexitarianism , expect to find such delectables as Felucian Garden Spread, Shiriki Noodle Salad, Steamed Asian Dumplings, Chili-Spiced Crispy Fried Tofu Bowl and Plant-Based Cashew Cheesecake at several DisneyWorld and Disneyland dining locations in the U.S. It is no wonder that enthusiasts and supporters can’t help but sing to the tune of “It’s a VEGAN World After All.” Via CNN Image via donformigone1

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Disneys American parks will now offer hundreds of vegan menu items

Tooth: the eco-friendly toothbrush made from recycled and biodegradable materials

September 26, 2019 by  
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As ubiquitous as morning coffee is the practice of brushing your teeth. We know you’re conscientious about water consumption by turning off the faucet while you brush, but there’s that seldom-discussed issue of toothbrush waste, mostly plastic , that equates to around 1,000,000,000 toothbrushes heading to the landfill annually, and that’s just in the United States. Luckily, some passionate designers from London have decided to develop a sustainable option to divert waste from landfills. They call it Tooth, a last-for-a-lifetime toothbrush handle with replaceable heads. Unlike the 98 percent of toothbrushes that are not biodegradable, the Tooth replacement heads will break down. The main portion of the brush head is made from locally sourced sugar beets that have been turned into Floreon. The bristles are made from Nylon 4; both products are 100 percent biodegradable . Related: Your guide to eco-friendly toothpastes The handle is contoured out of recycled aluminum , a durable metal that eliminates the need to create virgin aluminum and the carbon emissions that come with it. The handles are also 100 percent recyclable when they are no longer useful. Tooth has a lifetime guarantee as long as you remain a subscriber. Select one of four colors including ash, charcoal, rose, or gold, and choose from three bristle firmness options. You can also get a recycled steel stand to keep your Tooth aired out and to avoid contact with germs lurking on countertops. There’s also a travel case that protects the Tooth and stores up to three additional replacement heads. Dentists recommend changing your toothbrush every three months, so with a subscription, Tooth will automatically send a replacement head directly to your house every three months; you can go ahead and cross that chore off the list. Because the company is sustainably focused, your shipment will arrive in eco-friendly packaging. With recycled cardboard , plastic-free labels and a flat design, everything can go into the recycling upon receipt. Tooth is currently an active and fully funded Kickstarter campaign , due to expire on October 18. Shipments are expected for April 2020. + Tooth Images via Tooth

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Tooth: the eco-friendly toothbrush made from recycled and biodegradable materials

Honda makes largest renewable energy purchase of any automaker

September 25, 2019 by  
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Multinational auto manufacturer Honda Motor Company, headquartered in Tokyo, recently made the largest renewable clean energy purchase by any car maker. The electricity will be utilized to offset emissions from its United States factories, thus enabling Honda to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent in its North American manufacturing plants. With widespread public debate and mounting regulatory pressures, automakers have no choice but to shift their business models to address the carbon dioxide reduction challenge. It is no wonder then that a growing number of automobile companies are turning to renewables, like wind and solar, to achieve sustainable returns. Related: Beautiful, solar-powered EV charging stations promise to charge a vehicle in 15 minutes According to Honda, it currently obtains about 21 percent of its North American operations’ power from low- or zero-emission power sources.  But it hopes to improve upon that, thanks to clinching the car industry’s largest renewable energy purchase. Honda’s new clean energy deal involves the purchase of wind power from an Oklahoma wind farm as well as sourcing energy from a Texas solar farm. Projections show that, with this clean energy purchase, Honda can annually offset 800,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. That’s equal to “100,000 U.S. households’ worth of CO2-emissions from household energy usage,” as described in Honda’s press release. Honda revealed, “Two Virtual Power Purchase Agreements (VPPAs) will secure 320 megawatts (MW) of wind and solar power totaling over 1 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of renewable electricity annually.” How do VPPAs operate? Honda explained that VPPAs are “a way for Honda to purchase renewable energy in locations where it is unable to purchase renewables from the local electric utility.” The automaker buys “electricity from a renewable energy supplier, but the clean energy does not go directly to Honda’s facilities; instead, it is sold into the electricity grid where the clean power is generated.” In effect, Honda’s ‘virtual purchase’ of that “renewable energy adds more clean energy into the nation’s grid,” which decreases fossil fuel dependency and any accompanying carbon dioxide emissions. Honda’s VPPA purchase essentially “de-carbonizes” the electricity grid. Analysts say VPPAs are becoming an ever-popular means for large corporations seeking to meet carbon dioxide emission reduction goals.  Tech giants, like Google and Microsoft, for instance, have historically purchased VPPAs as well. Business industry pundits forecast an uptick of VPPA procurements in the next couple of years as renewable energy policy intensifies. Aligned with its revitalized green mission, Honda’s long-term plans go far beyond clean energy purchases, as it continues its commitment to sustainability. The company similarly announced plans to electrify two-thirds of its manufactured vehicular fleet so that they are charged via renewable energy by 2030. + Honda Motor Company Image via Honda Motor Company

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Encouraging sustainability leaders to chase their moonshots

July 29, 2019 by  
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The best of live interviews from GreenBiz events. This episode: how do we make sure green business is not just lip service?

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The Kind Lab creates greener toothpaste that doesn’t come in a tube

September 4, 2018 by  
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A tube of toothpaste is not the easiest thing to recycle . But what if you didn’t have to worry about recycling the tubes at all? The Kind Lab, a company based out of Los Angeles , has officially launched a zero-waste toothpaste that doesn’t come in a plastic tube. The company calls its product Bite Toothpaste Bits, and it could revolutionize the way we brush our teeth. The Kind Lab, a company started by Lindsay McCormick, makes the toothpaste tablets out of natural ingredients by hand. These plant-based components have been tested in clinical trials and performed well in both cleaning and protecting teeth. The company does not include fluoride in its toothpaste, making it safe for children to use, too. Bite Toothpaste Bits are molded into tablets and packed in a small jar. When you’re ready to brush your teeth, you simply pop a tablet in your mouth, wet your toothbrush and start brushing. The tablet dissolves into a paste as you brush and completely eliminates the need for the traditional toothpaste tube. The company has decided to go with a subscription-based approach for the Bite Toothpaste Bits, which means you can sign up for regular refills of toothpaste. The tablets currently come in two different flavors: mint and mint charcoal. The bottle is reused every month, and the refill tablets arrive in 100 percent biodegradable cellulose, which also cuts down on waste . The bits are ideal to bring along while traveling. Following a demonstration video that went viral, The Kind Lab has received so much attention that new orders can take three to six weeks to ship. Overall, the wait can be worthwhile, as Bite is an innovative solution to a growing problem of recycling old toothpaste tubes. It is estimated that people discard around 1 billion tubes of toothpaste every year, but these toothpaste tablets offer a zero-waste alternative. + Bite Via Core77 Images via Lindsay McCormick

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Eating seaweed could reduce cows’ methane production

July 5, 2018 by  
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Researchers at the University of California, Davis have found a surprising food source that could help reduce cows’ methane production: seaweed. A recent study from the university suggests bovines who eat an experimental mix of special food and a specific strain of seaweed produce less greenhouse gas than their peers. According to Pennsylvania State University , agriculture contributes up to seven percent of America’s greenhouse gas emissions. Each day, ruminal animals (like cows) belch up to 264 gallons of carbon dioxide and methane. As much as 20 percent of agricultural methane emissions comes from animal burps alone. Related: How seaweed eating super cows will save the world To reduce those emissions, UC Davis researchers experimented with new feed combinations for cows. The cows’ hay is mixed with up to one percent of a naturally occurring red algae , Asparagopsis armata. To encourage the cows to eat the new food, molasses is added as a natural sweetener and to mask the salty taste and smell. To measure effectiveness, researchers take the livestock to a special “breathalyzer” chamber three times daily, where cows’ breath is measured for gas content in exchange for a cookie. The cows who ate the seaweed-mixed feed saw a significant reduction in methane production . Across three two-week experiments, cows who ate the highest mix of algae saw their methane production drop by half. The research team called the findings a “dramatic reduction in methane emissions.” But did it change the dairy cows’ milk? Although the seaweed-eating cows produced slightly less milk, the feed didn’t change the milk’s taste. A blind taste-test conducted with 25 people discovered “no off-notes” in the dairy products . Any hints of saltiness or fish did not transfer over to the cows’ milk production. Before seaweed can become a major part of agricultural feed, the industry must overcome several hurdles. This includes changing the seaweed flavor to be palatable to cows and growing enough algae for agricultural purposes. In addition, growing feed must be economically viable for farmers. Using feed to reduce cow emissions is part of a bigger plan to cut greenhouse gases in California. State Senate Bill 1383 mandated that farms must reduce their methane production by 40 percent over the next 12 years. Via NPR

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Dairy farmers’ excess milk gets a second life feeding the hungry

July 3, 2018 by  
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Automation may have caused a significant surplus of dairy products and a corresponding price drop, but one non-profit has stepped up to ensure food – and farms – don’t go to waste. Philabundance , a food bank in Philadelphia, is working with cow ranchers to help sell their foods while also keeping hungry families fed in the city. After shifting their farming focus away from traditional milk packaging and sales, Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers struggled to keep family businesses afloat. According to a study by the Center for Dairy Excellence , 120 Pennsylvania dairy farms closed their gates for good in 2016. Related: Transfernation volunteers will deliver your leftover party food to homeless shelters That’s where Philabundance came into the picture. Working with farmers across the state, the organization wanted to purchase excess dairy products to feed hungry families in Philadelphia. Traditionally, extra skim milk was dumped because farms didn’t have the equipment to turn the surplus into cheese or yogurt. In 2016, Pennsylvania farmers alone discarded 43 million gallons of excess milk. But with state funds provided by the Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System and the cooperation of dairy farms, Philabundance and other food banks purchased over 60,000 gallons of excess milk destined for waste and turned it into cheese. The result was a new food source for food banks and $165,000 in revenue for farmers. This partnership quickly turned into a much bigger idea: turning excess milk into artisan cheese. Philabundance took the lead by buying even more milk to produce the same food products , then selling them under the name “Abundantly Good.” The products went on sale through three retail partners, a direct-to-restaurant seller and an online shop . One dollar from each sale goes back to farmers, subsidizing the milk set aside for food donations. In one year, farmers sold $9,000 worth of products each and prevented further food waste. With the success of the cheese sales and donation programs, Philabundance is testing other products for retail shelves, including drinkable yogurt. The group is also expanding its line to include foods like spiced tomato jam. Much like the dairy program, portions of the sales go back to farmers who turn their crops into soup and sauces for people in need. This partnership closes the loop in agricultural waste. Instead of destroying products or sending food waste to the garbage, farms produce more food that goes to people in need. In turn, the farms’ bottom lines increase, keeping them sustainable well into the future. Which is something that everybody – from farm to table – can celebrate. Via NPR

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Dairy farmers’ excess milk gets a second life feeding the hungry

Arctic shipping routes could threaten "unicorns of the sea"

July 3, 2018 by  
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Narwhals, or the “unicorns of the sea,” could be at risk from additional Arctic shipping routes as polar ice continues to recede. A peer-reviewed study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests as many as seven marine mammal species may face new threats and uncertain consequences from increased ship traffic. The Arctic Ocean is home to hundreds of animals, like narwhals, polar bears and whales. However, as the polar ice caps retreat, more shipping companies are taking advantage of open waters to reduce travel time. To determine how the increase of ships could affect marine mammals , the research team from University of Alaska Fairbanks and University of Washington studied wildlife during the fall shipping season. The group looked at 80 different subpopulations among the seven species to determine if they were directly exposed to the ships and how much these ships could affect the wellbeing of the marine life. Related: The melting Arctic is already changing the ocean’s circulation During the study period, over half of the subpopulations were impacted by ships, with narwhals inheriting the highest amount of risk. In addition to an increased risk of injury or death from collisions,  toothed whales also face communication challenges because of their audio sensitivity. Like dolphins, the ocean unicorn “talks” with a language of buzzing, clicking and calling. While narwhals could have the most to lose, polar bears and seals have the least risk because of the time they spend on land. But researchers note their populations also come with high long-term uncertainty, and the team concluded more data is required to determine how shipping affects their livelihood. The news wasn’t entirely bad for wildlife populations. The scientists noted through additional data collection, shipping companies could plan for environmentally-sustainable transportation options. “Regions with geographic bottlenecks, such as the Bering Strait and eastern Canadian Arctic, were characterized by two to three times higher vulnerability than more remote regions,” the researchers wrote in their study abstract. “These pinch points are obligatory pathways for both vessels and migratory [ocean mammals], and so represent potentially high conflict areas but also opportunities for conservation-informed planning .” Arctic planning groups are aware of the wildlife threats and are working out plans to balance shipping with environmental concerns. The Arctic Council instituted regulations on transport companies in January 2017, with the goal of making shipping safer for both crews and marine mammals. + Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Via Earther

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Arctic shipping routes could threaten "unicorns of the sea"

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