Save the environment by pooping less, says Bolsonaro

August 20, 2019 by  
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Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro recently suggested that people could save the environment if their bowels moved less frequently. His intestinal initiative could be accomplished by eating less food, he told one reporter. “You talk about environmental pollution,” Bolsonaro said. “It’s enough to poop every other day. That will be better for the whole world.” Meanwhile, he continues to face widespread backlash for the immense deforestation occurring in the Amazon since he took office. Bolsonaro, the South American country’s 38th president, has been in power since January. In that time, he’s voiced many unusual and far-right views about environmental issues. For example, Bolsonaro commented that only “ vegans , who eat only plants,” care about the environment. Related: Deforestation and climate change combined may split Amazon in two When the National Institute for Space Research released shocking data on rampant forest clearing in the Amazon , Bolsonaro accused the agency of data manipulation and fired the institute’s director. The institute had found more than 870 square miles of forests were cleared in July — 278 percent more than what was cleared in the same time frame last year. Bolsonaro said of the data, “We cannot accept sensationalism or the disclosure of inaccurate numbers that cause great damage to Brazil’s image.” It’s doubtful that the president’s new “waste” campaign will catch on. Defecation is notoriously hard to schedule, and people’s bowels march to the beats of their own drummers. According to Healthline , bowels might want to move three times per day, three times a week or anywhere in between. Eating less, as Brazil’s president suggested, may or may not lead to fewer bathroom visits; what you eat is also key. Those aiming for constipation should cut down on fiber, caffeine, alcohol and liquids in general. Aging, a sedentary lifestyle, stress and certain medications can also aid the quest to put it off till tomorrow, although this strange request “for the whole world” isn’t advised. The world waits in suspense to hear what Bolsonaro will say (or do) next. But consult your doctor before following the president’s gastrointestinal advice. Via AFP , Newsweek and PJ Media Image via Filios Sazeides

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Save the environment by pooping less, says Bolsonaro

Curvaceous bicycle bridge brings new life to Copenhagens harbor

August 20, 2019 by  
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Copenhagen has once again cemented its title as the best bicycle city in the world with the completion of the Lille Langebro cycle and pedestrian bridge. Spanning 160 meters across Copenhagen’s Inner Harbor, the opening bridge is the work of London-headquartered architecture practice WilkinsonEyre , which won the bid in a design competition hosted by Danish client Realdania By & Byg. In addition to revitalizing the once-deserted harbor area, the Lille Langebro bridge also pays homage to the neighborhood’s historical context with its elegantly curving shape that evokes the great arc of ramparts and moat of Christianshavn. Designed solely for bicycle and pedestrian use, the Lille Langebro bridge is split into five spans with two 28-meter parts on either side of the 48-meter main section. Pedestrians are allotted a 3-meter-wide zone, while a 4-meter-wide zone is dedicated for cyclists . This zone is also divided into two lanes for two-way traffic. The bridge features a curved profile emphasized by the steel ribbon-like edges that rise like wings on either side. Related: This all-weather bicycle highway could fulfill the dreams of bike commuters everywhere To accommodate maritime traffic, the bridge is engineered to open and features a midspan higher than the quaysides. When closed, the flowing lines of the bridge are uninterrupted from end-to-end thanks to the hidden opening mechanisms created in collaboration with engineer BuroHappold. “We are delighted to have worked with Realdania to design a distinctive new bridge for the people of Copenhagen that will improve the urban spaces and promenades along the waterfront and strengthen the cycling culture in the city while also being safe and accessible to everyone,” said Simon Roberts, associate director at WilkinsonEyre. The bridge, which connects to the new BLOX building that houses the Danish Architecture Center and other public spaces, is part of a continued effort to revitalize a part of the Copenhagen waterfront that had been deserted for decades. + WilkinsonEyre Photography by Rasmus Hjortshøj via WilkinsonEyre

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Curvaceous bicycle bridge brings new life to Copenhagens harbor

Award-winning B-Austin Community Project champions communal and sustainable living

August 9, 2019 by  
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Solar collection, EV charging and gray water recycling are just a few of the environmentally features offered at B-Austin Community Project , an innovative mixed-use development designed by local design practice Clark | Richardson Architects . Created with the goal of becoming one of Austin’s greenest buildings, the co-housing project considers more than just energy-efficiency—the health and wellness of its occupants have also been prioritized in the design. The mixed-use complex was awarded with a 2018 Austin Green Award and is in the process of receiving a 4-star Austin Energy Green Building Rating. Located in South Austin, the B-Austin Community Project spans 22,000 square feet across three stories. The timber-framed building comprises 14 modern apartment units as well as amenity spaces—such as community gardens, an on-site gym and a community center—and leasable white box office suites marketed towards heath and wellness businesses, such as those in the massage and physical therapy industry. As part of the City of Austin SMART building program, the development also reserves a fraction of the apartments for low-income occupants earning less than 80 percent of the median income. “B-AUSTIN was conceived as a place to foster community in a sustainable , environmentally friendly setting,” says a B-Austin statement on their website. “In this spirit, we offer residents easy access to a wide variety of professional wellness resources and programs to encourage in-reach among community members.” Related: Austin passes law banning restaurants from throwing out food waste In addition its emphasis on healthy and communal lifestyles, the mixed-use development reduces its environmental footprint with sustainable systems such as a solar array that offsets a quarter of the facility’s electricity needs, LED interior lighting, electric car charging stations, an Integrated Landfill Diversion Plan to make it easier to recycle and compost, a rainwater harvesting system and an adaptive greywater harvesting program to conserve potable water. According to the architects, B-Austin is set to become “the first mixed-use multifamily community in Austin, and possibly the first in the state, to use greywater recycling.” + Clark Richardson Architects Images via Clark Richardson Architects

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Award-winning B-Austin Community Project champions communal and sustainable living

The ultimate guide to eco-friendly period products

July 31, 2019 by  
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If you’re a person who is serious about protecting the environment, you’re probably conscious of how much trash you generate every time you have a period. In addition to being chock-full of plastics sent straight to landfills, pads and tampons also contain harsh chemicals that are toxic . Yet most people continue exposing their bodies to these products month after month. Luckily, there are better options out there for both you and the planet — here’s a guide to help you find what might work best for you. “Anything coming in constant contact with your skin will land in your bloodstream for distribution throughout your body,” Dr. Joseph Mercola wrote in an alarming Huffington Post article about the dangers of menstrual products. Despite the potential dangers, the chemical ingredients in tampons and pads are an industry secret, protected by nondisclosure policies that favor corporations, manufacturers and innovators but put consumers at serious risk. So if you want to cut down on polluting nature and your body, consider this comprehensive guide on more sustainable product options available right now. As always, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider to help determine the best options for you. Menstrual cups Menstrual cups are one of the most eco-friendly options out there. If you can get over the initial learning curve, they are easy and convenient to use. Why we love them Although the up-front sticker price is higher, when you calculate how much you spend every month on tampons or pads, the savings are obvious. The cups are comfortable and barely noticeable once they have been inserted — the same way you might get used to a tampon and hardly realize it is there. They are especially easy for travelers who want to save precious space in their luggage and say goodbye to last-minute, emergency trips to the convenience store. Most cup brands come in multiple sizes and some even come in varying levels of firmness, depending on your preference, flow, age and whether or not you have had a vaginal birth. The cups are capable of handling even heavy flow days, with most users reporting minimal — if any — leaks. Below is a brief review of a few popular brands. Diva Cup ($35) The Diva Cup is the most recognized and popular brand. It has three sizes (including one for teens), lasts up to 12 hours and is made from medical-grade silicone. Sustain Natural Period Cup ($39) These cups are flexible, compact and made entirely of medical-grade silicone . They claim to hold three tampons-worth of liquid and are available in two sizes. This is also the only brand that currently offers a microwave case for cleaning the cup. Peachlife Menstrual Cup ($22) Also made of medical-grade silicone, this cup uniquely comes in a variety of firmness levels (soft, medium-firm and extra-firm). Unlike other brands that come to a point, the Peachlife cup has a silicone ring at the bottom for easy removal (but remember, you still have to break the suction of the cup; you cannot just tug on the ring!). Cups are not without challenges Menstrual cups cannot be recycled at the end of their lifecycles, but when you calculate how many pads and tampons you averted from landfills, this product is worth it. The cups can also be difficult to maneuver at first. Once you have practiced and get the hang of folding the cup, inserting it and then breaking the seal to remove, it’s just as easy as any other option. It typically takes about three periods to fully adapt to using a menstrual cup. Because of cultural and religious beliefs, some people do have objections or hesitations to using a cup. Related: Study shows menstrual cups are safe and just as effective as tampons, pads A new spin on ‘period underwear’ Absorbent underwear brands like THINX and Lunapads are increasing in popularity and market share. They are simply underwear that you wear during your period that are specially manufactured to absorb menstrual blood. Why they’re so easy If you know how to put on your undies, then you know how to use these — they have all other products beat in terms of ease of use. They are also eco-friendly, because you wash and reuse them each time you have your period. That means they do not produce landfill trash every month. The downside of absorbent underwear Period underwear is more expensive than your typical pair of underwear because of their patented absorption technology . You will also need a few pairs depending on the length and flow of your period and how often you’re able to wash and dry them. Like the cups though, when you tally the cost of underwear against lifetime tampon expenses, they’re a smart economic choice. The horrors of tampons and better options “The average American woman uses 16,800 tampons in her lifetime — or up to 24,360 if she’s on estrogen replacement therapy,” said Dr. Mercola. That’s a lot of trash , but it is also a lot of time that your body is exposed to toxic chemicals. Cotton is better; organic cotton is best You may have heard health experts say that cotton underwear is best for promoting vaginal health — the same goes for tampons. Look for brands that specifically say they are made from organic cotton, but assume that most conventional brands are now made from plastics and synthetic materials. These materials are not breathable, can get fragmented and left behind and might encourage health problems like yeast and bacterial growth. Most tampons are also bleached with substances linked to abnormal tissue growth, abnormal cell growth and immune system suppression. Americans use 7 billion tampon applicators every year; the chemicals in the applicator, phthalates, have been generally linked to organ damage, lower I.Q. and asthma. What to try instead Using tampons without applicators will significantly cut down the plastic waste you generate. Brands like o.b. offer tampons that can be inserted with just your finger. Seventh Generation offers a chlorine-free, organic cotton tampon that reduces your exposure to chemicals. Organyc also offers a 100 percent organic cotton tampon. What about pads? Many people prefer pads for comfort or cultural reasons; however, the average sanitary pad contains “the equivalent of about four plastic bags, and this doesn’t include the other chemicals like BPA , BPS, phthalates and toxic dioxin created by the bleaching process.” Even though they have plastic in them, pads are never recyclable because they have been contaminated with bodily fluid. Because pads have a bigger volume than tampons, they produce even more waste. The average person throws away between 250 and 300 pounds of pads or tampons in their lifetime. What to use if you prefer pads There are reusable sanitary pads online that significantly reduce the amount of trash produced. Simply place the pad in your underwear; when it is dirty, rinse it with cold water and then add it to the laundry. You can buy reusable pads from Gladrags or find cute designs via Etsy. You can also try your hand at sewing your own . Disposable tampons and pads dominate the menstrual care market, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With small personal changes, you can protect your health, wallet and the planet. Images via Shutterstock

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The ultimate guide to eco-friendly period products

Beyond & Impossible alternative meats: are they actually healthier than the real thing?

July 29, 2019 by  
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Tempting the most loyal of carnivores, plant-based foods are spreading faster than wildfire as restaurant chains like Carl’s Jr., Del Taco, Burger King and White Castle have added alternative meats to their menus, providing vegans, vegetarians and non-meat eaters with popular food options like burgers and tacos. However, a lingering question remains— how healthy are they? Studies Say Many of us remember the infamous 2006 study revealing that livestock and meat production are generating more greenhouse gas emissions than transport. The report, released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), was enough to make any carnivore rethink their meat consumption. At the time, Henning Steinfeld, Chief of FAO’s Livestock Information and Policy Branch and author of the report said, “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”  Related: Impossible Foods tests a fish-less fish protein The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization, released a statement classifying processed meat as a carcinogen in 2015 . It also classified red meat as a probable carcinogen. It took a total of 22 experts from 10 countries and the review of over 800 studies to reach this conclusion. They found that consuming 50 grams of processed meat each day (the equivalent of about four strips of bacon or one hot dog) could increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. When it came to red meat, the report found evidence of increased risk of colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancers. The Big Bucks More and more people are making the switch to a plant-based diet, whether for the environment , personal health or love of animals. As the vegan and vegetarian lifestyles rise in numbers, corporations are taking notice and forming strategies to take livestock out of the equation.  The plant-based meat market is already booming. According to the Good Food Institute, the sale of plant-based meat grew 10% from April 2018 to April 2019 and 37% over the past two years. Last year 11.9% of all U.S. households purchased plant-based meat, which may not sound like much, but that equates to about 15 million households. Plant-based food is currently a $4.5 billion industry and has grown 31% in the past two years. Beyond and Impossible The question of whether these plant-based meats are actually good for your health, however, still has experts debating . Unsurprisingly, the futuristic vegan burgers of two most popular plant-based meat companies in the nation have found themselves under the spotlight. By 2016, Beyond Meat released the first plant-based burger sold in grocery stores (such as Whole Foods) internationally. Impossible Foods began selling their plant-based “bleeding” burgers to fast-food brands and gourmet spots such as Bareburger and Umami Burger in 2017. The controversy first began in 2018 when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration expressed concern over soy leghemoglobin or “heme,” which is an essential ingredient in the Impossible Foods burger “meat.” The key ingredient creates the illusion of blood and aroma of real meat, and the company found a way to harvest it from plants creating a protein produced by genetically modified yeast cells. Soy is also a key ingredient in popular veggie meat patty brands, Morningstar Farms Garden Veggie Burgers and Kraft Heinz’s Boca Veggie Burgers. Beyond Meat uses beets for color and pea protein isolate, which is processed and is not considered a whole food. The Ingredients Beyond : Water, Pea Protein Isolate, Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Refined Coconut Oil, Rice Protein, Natural Flavors, Cocoa Butter, Mung Bean Protein, Methylcellulose, Potato Starch, Apple Extract, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Vinegar, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Sunflower Lecithin, Pomegranate Fruit Powder, Beet Juice Extract (for color). Related: Cell-based meat could replicate and replace shrimp, lobster and crab Impossible : Water, Soy Protein Concentrate, Coconut Oil, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Potato Protein, Methylcellulose, Yeast Extract, Cultured Dextrose, Food Starch Modified, Soy Leghemoglobin, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Zinc Gluconate, Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12. Things to Consider While the protein content is similar to actual meat, the plant-based protein used to produce vegan meat is processed. Processed proteins should be eaten in moderation, so more isn’t necessarily better. The process isn’t nearly as synthetic or harmful as say, a twinkie, but it is still something to consider. Both burgers include coconut oil (rich in saturated fat) as a main ingredient, which the American Heart Association has risen concerns about . There is a large amount of sodium in both burgers. Beyond has 390 milligrams of sodium and Impossible has 370 mg. There is also the concerning fact that both Impossible and Beyond have yet to reveal how exactly their burgers are made. The companies consider production methods to be trade secrets, which is understandable in a business sense, but far more complicated than the cow = meat process we’ve all grown up with. When compared to a 4-ounce beef burger with 20 percent fat content, both Beyond and Impossible burgers have fewer calories, fewer grams of fat and the same amount of (or slightly more) protein. Both plant-based burgers have no cholesterol and more fiber than a regular beef burger. So, are these plant-based burgers actually healthier than the real thing? Well, it depends on the individual. High risk for colorectal cancer? Need to lay off the saturated fats or sodium? Your lifestyle, diet and personal health all need to be considered when making the switch to plant-based meats— and that’s between you and your doctor. Images via Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat

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Beyond & Impossible alternative meats: are they actually healthier than the real thing?

RISD student designs a micro-algae farm for home use

July 29, 2019 by  
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Rhode Island School of Design student Hyunseok An has created a prototype indoor micro-algae farm in a bid to sustainably and beautifully integrate algae into our everyday lives. Dubbed The Coral after its coral pattern, the micro-farm takes on the shape of a four-by-four gridded bioreactor that can be mounted on the wall like artwork. The algae that grows inside each square component is rendered visible through transparent containers so that owners can watch as the algae grows and changes color. In 1974, the U.N. World Food Conference declared algae “the most ideal food for mankind” for its rich nutritional makeup; however, popular opinion often dismisses the superfood as nothing more than pond scum. Hyunseok An, who is pursuing a master’s degree in industrial design at RISD , wants to change our perception of algae and promote its health and environmental benefits. Algae, which grows quickly with few inputs, is also lauded for its ability to sequester carbon at an absorption rate that’s estimated to be 10 times greater than typical plants. Related: Soil Algae aims to improve soil quality through algae cultures The Coral comprises 16 cells arranged in a grid pattern with two grams of algae in each culture cell — the recommended daily intake amount. Each cell replenishes its stock on a biweekly cycle so that users will always have access to the sustainable food. As the algae grows and replenishes its stock, the cell changes color from clear to varying shades of green. The coral pattern printed on the transparent cells symbolizes the reversal of “coral bleaching,” a global phenomenon where coral is irritated — the causes can be varied from sea temperature fluctuations or pollution — and expels algae, thus turning the coral completely white. “Through its use and indoor experience, The Coral aims to change the preconception of algae, suggesting a socially acceptable way of reconnecting with algae and bringing it into our everyday lives,” Hyunseok An explained in a project statement. “By doing so, The Coral can help us take one step forward to a better, more sustainable way of living for us and for our world.” + Hyunseok An Images via Hyunseok An

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RISD student designs a micro-algae farm for home use

Cigarette butts, the No. 1 most-littered item, are impacting plant growth

July 22, 2019 by  
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In the frenzy to ban plastic utensils, foam containers, straws and single-use bags, the world’s No. 1 most-littered item has been mostly ignored: cigarette butts. Perhaps because they are small in size, two out of every three cigarettes are simply flung to the ground rather than properly disposed of. This adds up to 4.5 trillion cigarette butts every year piling up in parks, cities and oceans. New research suggests that the butts are not just unsightly; they are also negatively impacting plants. A study published in Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety compared plants grown in soil containing cigarette butts with a group of control plants and found a significant difference. The plants grown in dirt with cigarettes had shoots that were up to 25 percent shorter with root biomass that was up to 60 percent smaller. Similar studies from as early as 1913 found similarly negative effects of cigarette smoke on plants , but few focus on the impact of butts within the soil. Related: California’s “Butt Lady” picks up 1M littered cigarette butts in 3.5 years Cigarettes are actually biodegradable but can take years to decompose. In the meantime, the discarded butts are filled with chemicals that, at this point, everyone knows are toxic and carcinogenic. Since the 1980s, urban and coastal clean-up events have reported that between 30 to 40 percent of the litter collected is typically cigarette butts. It is clearly a major issue in terms of pollution and waste, so why aren’t people outraged by it? Some environmental advocates argue that filters should be banned completely, since they have negligible health benefits to the smoker. Others argue that a deposit-and-return system could be established, where smokers must return their used butts in order to reclaim a deposit. This scheme seems fairly unlikely, but so did bans on plastic bags or diapers — yet municipalities and countries have successfully put them into effect. + Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety Via Phys.org Image via Pixabay

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Cigarette butts, the No. 1 most-littered item, are impacting plant growth

Study shows reusable menstrual cups are safe and just as effective as tampons, pads

July 18, 2019 by  
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Reusable menstrual cups have been around for decades, but they are just starting to pick up in popularity. Most people can’t shake their familiar comfort with tampons and pads, but a new study indicates that the cup is just as effective as the disposables and has no health risks. If you can get past the learning curve and “ick” factor, the menstrual cup is one of the easiest and most sustainable options for your period. Reusable cups are typically made from silicone or rubber and are inserted into the vagina. The cup stays put via suction against the vaginal walls. A finger must be inserted to break the suction, and then the user removes the cup, empties its contents, washes it and reinserts it. It can stay for up to 12 hours. The initial cost of cups might seem expensive, around $40 USD, but they last up to 10 years. Related: 5 eco-friendly menstrual products that also protect women’s health The study in The Lancet Public Health used data from more than 3,000 people around the world and proved that the cup is safe and effective. Not only are there no associated health risks, including vaginal infection or discharge, but the cups are light, compact and easy to travel with. Once you get past the initial sticker price, cups are one of the most affordable options and could be helpful for people in poor and rural communities. “People in non-profits assume that [the cups are] not suitable,” said Mandu Reid, founder of The Cup Effect , which trains people how to use cup. “That’s based on presumptions about these women’s preferences. That they wouldn’t like them because they have to be inserted or because they don’t want to touch their own menstrual blood.” There is certainly an “ick” factor to get past and some challenges in areas with limited access to clean water ; however, the study found that 73 percent of first-time users expressed a willingness to continue using it. + The Lancet Public Health Via NPR Image via Shutterstock

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Study shows reusable menstrual cups are safe and just as effective as tampons, pads

Toxic PFAS chemicals in food and food packaging pose risks to grocery stores and big box retailers

July 8, 2019 by  
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With toxins in food packaging and supplychains, companies are exposed to major financial, reputational and legal liabilities.

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Toxic PFAS chemicals in food and food packaging pose risks to grocery stores and big box retailers

Toxic PFAS chemicals in food and food packaging pose risks to grocery stores and big box retailers

July 8, 2019 by  
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With toxins in food packaging and supplychains, companies are exposed to major financial, reputational and legal liabilities.

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