This is the moment to reimagine public transportation

September 29, 2020 by  
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This is the moment to reimagine public transportation Amanda Eaken Tue, 09/29/2020 – 00:21 Back in April, the city of Seattle temporarily closed off nearly 20 miles of streets to most vehicular traffic in order to let residents bike, walk, jog and skate at a safe social distance during the height of the city’s COVID-19 pandemic. Seattle’s Stay Healthy Streets program was designed to encourage people to travel to essential services and small local businesses — or just to get outside for exercise or fun — at a time when many people felt anxious about doing so. While wildfires ravaging the West Coast and smoke clouding the air across Seattle create yet another barrier to getting outside, these hazy skies also underscore the importance of defending our air quality, right now and for years to come. Then, in early May, something unexpected happened: the temporary closure of these streets became permanent . Mayor Jenny Durkan — one of 25 mayors nationwide participating in the Bloomberg Philanthropies American Cities Climate Challenge  — announced that the program’s popularity and success had convinced her to extend it beyond the end of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order. In explaining the rationale for the decision, the head of Seattle’s Department of Transportation described the impact of Stay Healthy Streets as “transformative,” adding that it had revealed a need “to continue to build out a transportation system that enables people of all ages and abilities to bike and walk across the city.”  If governments are serious about listening and responding to the needs of communities of color, they’ll make the improvement and expansion of our transit systems a top priority. These days, as wildfires ravage the West Coast and smoke clouds Seattle’s air, residents face yet another barrier to getting outside. These toxic, hazy skies underscore the importance of defending our air quality, right now and for years to come. And we’re not starting from scratch: For years, Seattle’s transportation department and others in city leadership have been working to reduce the health-harming pollution from cars, trucks and other sources. Seattle’s Stay Healthy Streets program is the latest in those efforts: In addition to being safe places to walk and ride, these streets are free of polluting cars. Beyond Seattle and wildfires in the west, the COVID-19 crisis has compelled cities all over the world to reconsider — and, in many cases, to reimagine — their previously held ideas about our transportation systems. First and foremost, it has forced them to acknowledge that bus drivers, subway conductors and other mass-transit personnel are essential workers , every bit as crucial to the continued functioning of society as the people who work at our hospitals, grocery stores, restaurants and pharmacies. Indeed, in New York City, public transportation is how most essential workers have been getting to their jobs during the pandemic. And for millions of residents who don’t have access to a car, including a disproportionate number of low-income people and people of color, it’s their primary means of getting around, pandemic or no pandemic. But our current crisis has forced us to admit something else, too: Transportation policy isn’t just about getting people from point A to point B. Rather, it’s inextricably connected to public health, racial and economic justice, climate action and civil society in ways that haven’t always been fully acknowledged, but that are becoming clearer every day. One surprising example? In San Francisco, a professional cellist gave impromptu performances from his doorstep, creating a magical experience for neighbors and people walking by — an experience that was only audible due to the reduction in car traffic.  Seattle’s decision to turn its streets into pedestrian- and bike-friendly zones is just one example of how cities are recognizing that transportation is about regional accessibility just as much if not more than mobility. In doing so, they’re putting themselves on a path towards a healthier, more equitable future. Here are three ways we can reimagine our city transportation systems.  1. Streets aren’t just for cars  Seattle was just one of many cities around the world to open up its streets as it (mostly) closed down for everyday business. From megacities such as London , Paris , and New York to Climate Challenge participants such as Austin and San Jose , officials have discovered the many and compounding benefits that come from redefining thoroughfares to promote walking, cycling and other emissions-free forms of transportation. Adding safe places to walk and bike to our urban landscapes invites people out of their automobiles, resulting in cleaner air and fewer planet-warming greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. But it does more than that: It improves public health by promoting exercise, and fosters community by beautifying our neighborhoods and making people excited to get out of the house and be around one another (while still practicing social distancing and mask-wearing, of course!). It also addresses inequities inherent in public safety: People of color and members of underserved communities are more likely to become victims of automobile traffic violence. In addition, “slow streets” programs in many cities are helping residents rethink what streets are for.  2. Our public transit infrastructure needs — and deserves — investment For decades, America’s public transit systems have languished in the shadow of a $98 billion backlog in deferred maintenance and replacement. These are the very same public transit systems that kept some of our biggest cities from collapsing entirely during the height of the COVID-19 crisis by transporting essential workers to their jobs and allowing people without access to a car to visit their doctors, buy food and obtain medicine. While we’re lauding efforts by cities to get more people moving around on foot or bicycles, we also should be pressuring local, state and national leaders to fill this backlog and update our mass transit infrastructure. And we need to be clear that “updating,” in this instance, doesn’t simply mean replacing the hardware — installing new tracks or buying new buses. Public officials must make investments that prioritize the needs of riders most affected by this crisis by reimagining public safety and promoting public health, affordable housing and economic opportunity in historically marginalized communities. COVID and post-COVID recovery plans need to make this a priority, and the congressional champions of infrastructure bills such as the INVEST in America Act and the Moving Forward Act need to fight hard for adequate funding and a holistic, equitable approach to spending. Which brings us to:  3. Access to safe, effective transit is very much a racial justice issue  Recent incidents of police brutality against people of color, and the mass protests that have occurred in their wake, have led to a long-overdue national discussion of how systemic racism and the legacy of white supremacy continue to permeate our public policy. For many Black and brown residents, transportation already means public transportation: the buses; subways; and light-rail lines on which they rely daily for getting to work, school or essential services. When we neglect these systems, we’re neglecting these communities and in our common humanity, neglecting ourselves. Any efforts to remedy and redress the inequities borne of institutional racism are incomplete if they don’t acknowledge that mobility is a right, and that hampering people’s mobility — be it direct through poor planning, gentrification, redlining or underfunding or indirect through an act of omission — is an unacceptable violation of that right. If governments are serious about listening and responding to the needs of communities of color, they’ll make the improvement and expansion of our transit systems a top priority. We’re living through several pivotal moments in American history at once. In responding to the simultaneous crises we currently face, we have a responsibility to not just return to the status quo, but to boldly and intentionally improve public health, racial equity and climate resiliency. Reimagining our transportation systems is the critical first step to shaping a more just future.  Pull Quote If governments are serious about listening and responding to the needs of communities of color, they’ll make the improvement and expansion of our transit systems a top priority. Topics Transportation & Mobility Equity & Inclusion NRDC Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off In May, some closures that started with Seattle Healthy Streets became permanent. Shutterstock VDB Photos Close Authorship

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The perfect pair? Custom-fit jeans startup challenges fast fashion mindset

August 3, 2020 by  
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The perfect pair? Custom-fit jeans startup challenges fast fashion mindset Lauren Phipps Mon, 08/03/2020 – 02:12 Canceled orders, excess stock, disrupted supply chains: The pandemic has laid bare some fundamental challenges with the way our clothes are designed, ordered, manufactured and sold — or landfilled, incinerated or sold on secondary markets. These impacts have been compounded by COVID-19, but the inefficient and resource-intensive apparel industry needed a redesign well before the pandemic.  One company working to do things differently is San Francisco-based startup unspun . Founded in 2017, unspun is a denim company that specializes in customized, automated and on-demand manufacturing, designing out inventory altogether. Rather than walking into a shop full of jeans in set cuts and sizes, customers instead get a 3D scan of their body — at home using a phone app and the iPhone’s built-in infrared camera or in-person at an unspun facility, currently only in San Francisco or Hong Kong. The scan is used to manufacture a customized, bespoke pair of jeans within a couple of weeks.  It’s not cheap — a pair of custom-fitted unspun jeans will set you back $200 — but like all disruptive technologies it has the potential to become more affordable over time. And while the denim might be pricey, the products’ physical quality and emotional durability encourage customers to keep their garments for longer, a tenet of circularity. Plus, if you factor in the externalized environmental cost of denim production — which unspun does — one could argue they’re a bargain (although that’s not a case I care to make during a recession).  I caught up with unspun co-founder Beth Esponnette this week to talk about her company’s role in designing a better approach to the fashion industry. The following conversation has been edited for length and clarity.   Lauren Phipps: What problem is unspun solving? Beth Esponnette: The fashion industry has been pushed to the point of efficiency. It’s stuck. There’s a huge mismatch between what the apparel industry makes and what people buy at the end of the day. Especially now with COVID, there’s a huge problem with excess inventory. Margins are so important, and there’s not a lot of R&D budget — it’s not even 1 percent of [apparel] companies’ budgets that go to R&D — and big brands are risk-averse. They’re used to doing things the same way and incrementally improving them, but using a very siloed supply chain.  We produce clothing after someone’s purchased it — build it on-demand versus waiting for someone to show up.  We don’t have sizes, which is more inclusive. We don’t have inventory, which decreases waste and emissions. Phipps: What kind of technology do you use to make custom garments for every customer? Esponnette : There are two main pieces of tech that we’ve been focused on: the software that turns body scans into perfect fitting patterns, and hardware that takes yarn and starts to build the three-dimensional product. Our software takes in body scan information — and not just measurements. It requires the full point cloud of someone’s body: 30,000 to 100,000 points in space, depending on the scan quality. What’s great is that you don’t lose all of the information when taking measurements around someone’s body. We build the pattern all digitally, and before we do anything physical with it, we go back and fit it on our digital avatar a few times before it’s perfect. It’s almost like we’re getting to do multiple fittings with them, and that gives us a huge advantage. It’s automated, so once you’ve written the software it doesn’t cost anything for the program to run it and create a pattern. We’ve gotten rid of the hours of work that a tailor would be spending building a pattern. The idea is that there’s no sewing machine or manual labor. We’re also experimenting with weaving in three dimensions and building the whole [garment] from yarn. The fit is so difficult on woven products, so if you can make something to someone’s actual dimensions and it’s a woven, then you’ve really tackled that big problem. We started with the hardware in 2017 and still haven’t commercialized on it — but hopefully we will in the next six months. Phipps: You’re asking a lot for people to change the way they purchase. How do you get consumers to think differently about the way they buy clothes? Esponnette: I’m excited where consumer mindsets are going. They’re starting to slow down and think about their impact in the world. The average is 84 garments purchased per year per American; it’s insane that we buy more than one product per week. I think consumers will be willing to spend a bigger chunk of their income on fewer products that will last longer and that they’re excited about. We’re starting to see that change. When we talk to customers, it starts with the product: fit, options, etc. If you build something after they purchase it, it can be perfect for them. It can be everything they want and customized to their body. Then the conversation often goes into other excitement. We don’t have sizes, which is more inclusive. We don’t have inventory, which decreases waste and emissions.  It’s not the reason people walk in the door: It’s about not having to shop and finding the perfect fit. But we do it for sustainability and the greater mission of reducing global carbon emissions by 1 percent, which is our main North Star. Want to learn more about unspun and the future of fashion? Esponnette will speak about the potential of custom, on-demand manufactured apparel this month at Circularity 20 . Listen in (for free!) at 10 a.m. PDT Aug. 25 and register here for the event.  This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, Circular Weekly, running Fridays. Subscribe here . Pull Quote We don’t have sizes, which is more inclusive. We don’t have inventory, which decreases waste and emissions. Topics Circular Economy Shipping & Logistics E-commerce Featured Column In the Loop Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Courtesy of Unspun Close Authorship

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COVID-19, 3D printing and the digital supply chain reckoning

May 14, 2020 by  
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COVID-19, 3D printing and the digital supply chain reckoning Heather Clancy Thu, 05/14/2020 – 03:28 Proponents of 3D printing technology and digital manufacturing solutions have been seeking their breakthrough moment for years. It took mere weeks to showcase their potential as enablers of flexible supply chains — capable of decentralizing worldwide production and responding to violent, unforeseen disruption. Every day, there is news of some inspirational pivot that points toward the future possibilities for creating far more sustainable supply chains. The most vivid illustration, of course, is the literally hundreds of companies diverting at least some portion of their production capacity to creating urgently needed supplies for the medical community. It’s part altruism, part capitalism. Just a few examples: 3D printing provider HP Inc. and its network of customers and partners has so far “printed” more than 1.5 million parts for front-line healthcare workers — components for face shields and PAPR hoods. Digital manufacturing specialist Fictiv has mobilized its network to produce batches of 10,000 shields daily with lead times of as little as 24 hours.  Another player, Carbon , teamed up with Resolution Medical and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston to design and start producing nasopharyngeal swabs for COVID-19 in just three weeks. The partnership is producing hundreds of thousands of swabs every week using Carbon’s M2 printers. Markforged , which makes metal and carbon fiber 3D printers, is part of a similar collaboration driven by several hospitals and research institutions in San Diego. With supply chains experiencing such significant disruption right now, we could see trends in different sectors toward decentralization and localization … “With supply chains experiencing such significant disruption right now, we could see trends in different sectors toward decentralization and localization, including in the way products are designed and made to rely less on centralized production and mass production,” noted Carbon CEO Ellen Kullman, in response to questions I sent her for this article. A similar sentiment was shared by Ramon Pastor, interim president of 3D printing and digital manufacturing at HP, also via email: “Many companies look to digital manufacturing service providers to help speed development of new products, shorten time to market, create leaner supply chains and reduce their carbon footprint.” The global 3D printing market was worth about $12 billion in 2019, with a compound annual growth rate of 14 percent predicted from 2020 to 2027. One of HP’s high-profile customers is Volkswagen, which is using its technology in the design of electric vehicles. VW aims to produce more than 22 million EVs worldwide by 2028. The pandemic is proving to be what Sean Manzanares, senior manager of business strategy and marketing for Autodesk, describes as an “unfortunate catalyst” that is accelerating corporate evaluations of alternative, more sustainable production methods. (To sate that interest, the software company is offering free access to the commercial versions of its cloud-hosted design applications through June 30.) Autodesk is putting considerable muscle behind demonstrative facilities that help companies explore the potential of 3D printing and localized manufacturing, such as the Generative Design Field Lab that is part of the 100,000-square-foot MxD innovation center in Chicago. Autodesk doesn’t make the hardware; it has added artificial intelligence to many of its applications to make “push-button” manufacturing simpler. One company exploring how these technologies could support its sustainability initiatives is IKEA, which has been examining how it might use reclaimed furniture scraps to create new products that combine wood and an emerging form of “sustainable power” from Arkema, which makes resins for 3D printers, Manzanares said. The first thing you have to do is show people that they have options. Dave Evans, founder and CEO of Fictiv and a former Ford engineer, said the pandemic has helped underscore the notion that digital manufacturing networks — ones that allow organizations to be more agile when it comes to sourcing — will be key to ensuring resilience in the long term, as disruptions brought on by climate change become more frequent. The seven-year-old company just logged its best first quarter. One ongoing dialogue within Fictiv is the role of design in moving toward a more circular, agile economy — one in which products can be repaired and serviced far more easily. The company’s gift to employees last Christmas: the 2002 book ” Cradle to Cradle ,” which it hopes will spur innovation from the bottom up. “The first thing you have to do is show people that they have options,” Evans observed. “If you can show someone a [total cost of ownership] or landed cost, you can show them the emissions of hyperlocal versus some different view. Our role isn’t to push sustainability, but it’s to give them a better choice. If you can do that, you’re enabling leaders to make both better business decisions and better environmental decisions.” This article first appeared in GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, VERGE Weekly, running Wednesdays. Subscribe  here . Follow me on Twitter:@greentechlady. Pull Quote With supply chains experiencing such significant disruption right now, we could see trends in different sectors toward decentralization and localization … The first thing you have to do is show people that they have options. Topics COVID-19 Supply Chain Innovation Technology 3D Printing Featured Column Practical Magic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A piece of manufacturing machine from Fictiv’s digitally connected network. Fictiv Close Authorship

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COVID-19, 3D printing and the digital supply chain reckoning

Ace Hardware boosts efforts to phase out neonicotinoid pesticides

September 16, 2019 by  
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The world’s largest retailer-owned hardware cooperative, Ace Hardware, is becoming more “bee-friendly” by phasing out inventory products associated with neonicotinoid pesticides . Neonicotinoids — sometimes called ‘neonics’ for short — are notoriously toxic to bees. Ace Hardware’s move to distance itself from neonics is a step closer to promoting better pollinator population health. Neonicotinoids work as an insecticide by disrupting neural transmission. This is owing to neonics’ design to mimic the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Disruption of the normal activity of an insect’s central nervous system takes place when neonicotinoids bind onto its acetylcholine receptors. In doing so, insect neurons are adversely affected through over-excitation, to the point of paralysis. Repeat exposure increases neural vulnerability and toxicity so that the insect neuron is destroyed. Related: EPA lifts ban on pesticide proven to be toxic to honeybees Unfortunately, bees have higher numbers of acetylcholine receptors than other insects, thereby occasioning their increased susceptibility to neonicotinoids. What’s more, bees have fewer genes for detoxification, thus they are not as capable of detoxifying harmful chemicals compared to other insects. Bee exposure to neonicotinoids is rather pernicious. Studies reveal that neonics accumulate in individual bees, resulting in adverse defects in memory, flight, dance coordination, communication abilities and pollen collection effectiveness. Correspondingly, bees exposed to contaminated pollen and nectar bring them back to the nest. This exposes the colony to further risks, such as increased insect mortality, widespread susceptibility to neural disruption within the hive, erratic behavior in the colony, increased queenlessness and subsequent population decline. In light of this, Ace Hardware’s move to eliminate neonicotinoid pesticides from its store shelves sounds promising. The hardware store giant announced, “Currently, over 95 percent of the insecticide product offerings distributed by Ace Hardware Corporation are neonicotinoid-free.” More natural and organic products are being added to the Ace Hardware inventory to help bee, butterfly and other pollinator populations bounce back from the brink. Ace Hardware’s greener, more bee-friendly approach echoes that of other garden retailers like Costco, Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart and Whole Foods, all of which have expressed similar commitment to better stewardship of the environment. + Ace Hardware Via Medium Image via Pixabay

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Giant multi-headed 3D printer can create massive objects in a single pass

March 29, 2016 by  
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If you’ve ever experimented with 3D printing , you’ve likely run into one major, frustrating problem : most 3D printers available to the average person are extremely slow, and they can only print relatively small objects. To create larger objects, designs typically needs to be broken down into smaller parts and then assembled. That’s why Autodesk is experimenting with a new 3D printing system that uses multiple printing heads to quickly fabricate large-scale objects in a single pass. Read the rest of Giant multi-headed 3D printer can create massive objects in a single pass

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Intentionally unstable Water Pavilion lets visitors walk on the ocean

March 29, 2016 by  
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Lowe’s follows in Home Depot’s footsteps and pledges to phase out phthalates from flooring

May 7, 2015 by  
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Chalk another one up for the environment. Fresh on the heels of Home Depot’s announcement to ditch phthalates in all of their flooring by the end of the year, Lowe’s has revealed plans to do the same. The home improvement retailer has pledged to eliminate the family of ortho-phthalates, which have been linked to developmental and reproductive problems, after finding that 48% of their flooring samples tested positive for the toxic chemical. Mike Schade, director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families , urged other retailers to do the same, saying, “We welcome and thank Lowe’s for their commitment to transition away from unnecessary toxic phthalates in flooring. We urge Lumber Liquidators, Ace Hardware and Menards to follow suit in phasing out these chemicals that are harmful for children’s health.” + Lowe’s + Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families image via Shutterstock Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: eliminating harmful chemicals , Home Depot phthalates , lowes , Lowes eliminates phthalates , Lowes phthalates , Lowes toxic chemicals , phthlalates , vinyl flooring phthalates

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Lowe’s follows in Home Depot’s footsteps and pledges to phase out phthalates from flooring

Tablo upcycles lamps upcycled from the most unexpected household items

April 27, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Tablo upcycles lamps upcycled from the most unexpected household items Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: automotive parts , Computer Hardware , decorative lamps , recycled lamps , Recycled Materials , tablo , Tablo design , upcycled lamps , upcycling

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Why Your House Might Be Plotting to Kill You

September 26, 2014 by  
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If you live in a house built before 1978, there’s a good chance it’s secretly plotting to kill you. According to a recent survey , Homes built before this time were commonly coated in lead-based paint that becomes extremely harmful to your health as soon as it’s disturbed in any way – potentially leading to lead poisoning . And while you might think that a call to your local contractor or visit to your local hardware store might help you learn how to do these renovations safely, think again. Read the rest of Why Your House Might Be Plotting to Kill You Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: angie’s , Angie’s List , contractor , epa , green renovation , Hardware , homes built before 1978 , house , lead , lead paint , list , paint , painter , poison , rpp

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Pollux’NZ City Project Deploys an Open-Source Environmental Monitoring Network

April 1, 2013 by  
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An open-source environmental monitoring network is now being tested in France by CKAB , a French consulting firm and innovation lab focusing on the Internet of Things . According to Hack a Day , the project, Pollux’NZ City, is the brainchild of a pair of engineers at the firm who have been working on it as a side project for a couple of years. They have just decided to make the hardware and software open-source, with details available at a GitHub repository . Read the rest of Pollux’NZ City Project Deploys an Open-Source Environmental Monitoring Network Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: CKAB , device , DIY , electronics , Environment , environmental , france , hackable devices , monitoring , network , open source , Pollution , polluxnz city

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