Virginia bans cosmetic testing on animals

March 17, 2021 by  
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Starting January 1, 2022, the state of Virginia will no longer allow animal testing or the sale of cosmetics tested on animals. Thanks to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam — and other kind and dedicated Virginians — the Virginia Humane Cosmetics Act became law this month. Senator Jennifer Boysko and Delegate Kaye Kory introduced the bill. Its passage makes Virginia the fourth state in the U.S. to make a law prohibiting cosmetic animal testing . Related: EPA promises an end to animal testing “This fantastic news illustrates a growing momentum in efforts to end unnecessary testing on animals in the United States and around the world for products like shampoos, mascara and lipstick,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF). “Consumers are scanning labels and demanding products free of animal testing, cosmetics companies are listening to them and changing their practices, and lawmakers are solidifying these changes into permanent policy.” For vegans and anybody else who cares about animal suffering, this act makes shopping much easier. Instead of trying to read the tiny print on a tube of eyeliner, consumers will be able to get straight in line with their purchases, saving both time and eyestrain. In 2018, California became the first state to pass a law banning animal testing for cosmetics. The California law makes exceptions for cosmetic ingredients that the USDA requires testing for because of health concerns, or if regulatory compliance is called for by a foreign authority. Nevada passed a cruelty-free cosmetics act in June 2019, and Illinois followed in August 2019. Six other states are considering their own cruelty-free cosmetic acts: Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Rhode Island. The movement is picking up steam all over the world as more and more consumers start asking exactly what’s in that lipstick and if animal suffering is really necessary for human beauty. “Cosmetics animal testing is simply not needed to ensure the safety of cosmetics for human use,” Amundson said. “In the case of new ingredients, many non-animal test methods have been, and continue to be, developed that are as effective — or even more effective — than animal tests have been.” Via VegNews Image via Anna Sulencka

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Nordstrom to end the sale of fur and animal skins

October 5, 2020 by  
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One of America’s leading fashion retailers, Nordstrom, has announced that it will be ending the sale of fur and animal skins by 2021. This move comes at a time when the world is faced with various environmental issues that are forcing many people to rethink their lifestyle choices, including what is in their wardrobes. The company has partnered with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to implement the plan. This now means that all products made from fur or any other animal-derived material will not be sold at Nordstrom stores, including Nordstrom Rack and Last Chance, or at its online stores by the end of 2021. Nordstrom’s chief marketing officer, Teri Bariquit, announced that the company wanted to honor its customers’ wishes by updating the products it offers. “As part of our ongoing product evolution, we’ve been working with the Humane Society of the United States and recently made the decision to stop offering products made with genuine fur or exotic animal skin in any of our stores or online,” Bariquit said. “Our private label brands haven’t used these materials for years, so extending this policy to all the brands we carry is a natural next step for our business.” Related: Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s to be fur-free by 2021 The decision was welcomed by HSUS, with the organization’s CEO Kitty Block praising the brand for banning not just fur but also other animal skins. “We applaud Nordstrom for ending the sale of fur and becoming the first United States-based retailer to ban exotic animal skins,” Block said. “This is a pivotal step toward a more humane business model and a safer world for animals.” Although Nordstrom is taking a positive step forward, the decision comes after years of push and pull between the retailer and the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The group has been demanding that Nordstrom and other retailers stop selling products made out of animal fur and skin since 1999. In 2019, PETA released an investigation showing how Nordstrom was helping to fuel the fur trade in Russia. Now, PETA is calling on other retailers to follow in the footsteps of Nordstrom in an effort to create a better world for both humans and animals. + Nordstrom Via VegNews Image via Nordstrom

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Breathtaking alpine views await atop Iceman tzi Peak

October 5, 2020 by  
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At 10,666 feet above sea level, the newly constructed Iceman Ötzi Peak observation deck provides nature-lovers with a stunning vantage point of the Italian Alps at the peak of the Schnals Valley Glacier ridge in South Tyrol. Designed by Network of Architecture (noa*), the sculptural viewing platform is built of weathered steel and elegantly engineered for minimal impact, resulting in a structure that appears to blend in with and float above the landscape. The 80-square-meter viewing platform was recently completed last month for the Hotel Grawand, a unique, high-altitude hotel that is just a stone’s throw away from the summit. The Iceman Ötzi Peak is named after Europe’s oldest known natural human mummy, the Iceman Ötzi, whose mummified body was found nearby and is now on display at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano. In addition to providing breathtaking views of the snow-capped mountains, the undulating viewing platform also pays further homage to Ötzi with a geometric funnel cut into the observation deck that frames views of where Ötzi was found. The funnel is capped with a glass railing to give users the thrilling sensation of walking on air. Related: Apple Hotel gains a green-roofed wellness center in South Tyrol The lightweight viewing platform was designed to only touch the ground where necessary to limit visual and environmental impact, and it follows the natural topography. Weathered steel was selected as the primary material for its durability and its patina, which turns dark brown, gray and black over time to gradually blend in with the surroundings. “The parapet-high, vertical elements trace these gentle curves in their sequence,” the architects explained. “This creates a magical effect: an opening and closing of views that follows the movement of the viewer — an invitation to discover new perspectives time and again. This unique dynamic creates a fully immersive, sensual experience in which time stands still for a moment and every other souvenir is eclipsed.” + noa* Photography by Alex Filz via noa*

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Breathtaking alpine views await atop Iceman tzi Peak

Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act is signed into law

November 27, 2019 by  
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In a bipartisan win, the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act has been signed into law, making serious harm to “living non-human mammals, birds, reptiles or amphibians” a federal crime. The law also includes a ban on the creation, sale and distribution of any electronic image or digital recording that depicts acts of animal cruelty . The measure was jointly introduced by Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL). The Humane Society of the United States has expressed support for how this anti-cruelty bill has “sailed through the House of Representatives and the Senate with almost unanimous support.” The bill was supported by 302 House cosponsors and 41 from the Senate. It was then signed by President Trump on November 25, marking a defining moment that establishes federal protections for animals . Related: The PACT Act hopes to ban animal cruelty at the federal level “PACT makes a statement about American values. Animals are deserving of protection at the highest level,” said Kitty Block, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “The approval of this measure by the Congress and the President marks a new era in the codification of kindness to animals within federal law. For decades, a national anti-cruelty law was a dream for animal protectionists. Today, it is a reality.” Prior to this federal law, only state laws existed against animal cruelty. But the previous lack of federal legislation on the matter made it difficult to prosecute cases of animal cruelty that spanned different jurisdictions and across several states. Meanwhile, the text of this new federal legislation does itemize some exceptions, such as “(A) a customary and normal veterinary, agricultural husbandry or other animal management practice; (B) the slaughter of animals for food; (C) hunting , trapping, fishing , a sporting activity not otherwise prohibited by federal law, predator control or pest control; (D) medical or scientific research, (E) necessary to protect the life or property of a person; or (F) performed as part of euthanizing an animal.” The Animal Wellness Action, one of the groups involved in the bill’s passage, issued a statement praising lawmakers after the law was signed. “We’re thrilled to see the first anti-cruelty statute in American history signed into law and applaud the President and Congress for providing the voiceless with a level of protection never seen before,” said Marty Irby, the group’s executive director. “The PACT Act will allow federal authorities to crack down on the most egregious of animal abusers and help keep American pets safe from harm.” + PACT Act Via NPR and Humane Society of the United States Image via Pixabay

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Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act is signed into law

Beachfront hotel in Costa Rica pays tribute to the land and its inhabitants

November 27, 2019 by  
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A new hotel, Hotel Nantipa , located in the Puntarenas area of Costa Rica, has been built with several sustainable features while also paying homage to the indigenous Chorotegan people who first inhabited the area. Designed by local firm Garnier Arquitectos , the hotel is integrated with water-saving systems, solar-powered water heaters, reclaimed building materials and more. Paying homage to the native inhabitants of the area, the hotel’s name, Nantipa, means “blue” in the Chorotegan language. Positioned right at the shoreline, the hotel’s accommodations are centered around the idyllic landscape, including, of course, the stunning blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. Related: This eco-hotel in Costa Rica will be completely solar-powered by 2019 Wanting to redefine the Costa Rican concept of “barefoot luxury,” the boutique hotel is arranged in a semi-circle made up of 11 individual beachfront bungalows (Ninta) and 24 family-style rooms (Nanku). Most of the rooms have private balconies with ocean vistas, while others look out over the garden and central swimming pool. Spread out over nearly six acres, the hotel also offers guests access to conservation areas, an ocean-view swimming pool and a spectacular beachfront restaurant. These areas, as well as the private bungalows, were all built using native, raw materials that date back centuries. Throughout the complex, natural stone, palm trees, leaves and large tree trunks were used to create structures that are reminiscent of indigenous huts. Surrounding the property is lush vegetation and palm trees, which were fiercely protected during the construction. Only six of the existing trees on the property were cut down (with a license), and the felled lumber was reused in the hotel’s construction or furniture . Multiple native trees and plants were added to the landscaping to keep the grounds as green as possible. In addition to the hotel’s commitment for keeping the land as intact as possible, the buildings have been integrated with several sustainable features . Waste water is processed in a state-of-the-art treatment plant and is then used to irrigate the Nantipa gardens. Solar water heaters are found in each room, and energy sensors are installed throughout the hotel to reduce energy waste. The hotel and the restaurant all have systems in place to reduce single-use plastics. No straws or plastic bottles are allowed, and take-out meals are packaged in biodegradable containers. + Garnier Arquitectos Via ArchDaily Photography by Andres García Lachner via Garnier Arquitectos

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Beachfront hotel in Costa Rica pays tribute to the land and its inhabitants

Costa Rica hopes to end selfies with wild animals

November 4, 2019 by  
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Costa Rica, renowned for its wildlife , has recently launched a campaign to dissuade people from taking selfies with wild animals. Despite being banned in the country more than 10 years ago, large numbers of selfies are still being taken with wildlife anyway. To spotlight animal rights , promote wildlife safety and minimize animal selfies, Costa Rican authorities instead recommend taking photos with a stuffed toy. As an animal lover’s utopia, Costa Rica sees many instances of selfies being taken with animals, whether for personal memories or for social media influencing. Unfortunately, animal selfies can be stressful for wildlife and can even place tourists at risk. To discourage this practice, the Costa Rican Ministry of Environment and Energy announced the #StopAnimalSelfies campaign, with the goal to “prevent visitors from feeding (animals), from capturing them for photos and from handling them.” Related: Human activity has decimated 60% of animal populations since 1970 Why the ban on animal selfies? Wild animals do not naturally appreciate being “held, hugged or restrained,” as described in the Wildlife Selfie Code established by the World Animal Protection organization. But wild animals are often lured into a selfie with food, and these creatures could potentially injure or be injured by tourists. The Humane Society International said, “We applaud Costa Rica’s efforts to ensure the protection , ethical management and welfare of wild animals by avoiding promoting practices that are cruel to animals, since they do not respect their natural behaviors and promote a mercantilist and utilitarian vision.” A better practice, under the Wildlife Selfie Code, is to keep a safe distance from all wildlife. Permit the animals to remain untouched in their natural habitat . Avoid making loud noises. Especially avoid throwing objects at them to get their attention, and never touch, grab or hold an animal for a selfie. Maria Revelo, Costa Rica’s Minister of Tourism, further explained, “The campaign has the objective of generating conscience about the adequate treatment that a sustainable tourism destination must guarantee to its wild animals and to those that get close to them as tourists. #StopAnimalSelfies has the support of the Costa Rican Tourism Board due to its contribution it makes to the country’s model of sustainable tourism development.” Costa Rica’s move to halt cruel or inappropriate selfies with animals is a step in the right direction to educate people on wildlife encounters that place animals through stress or suffering and to promote animal rights and wildlife safety. Via TreeHugger Image via Shutterstock

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American trophy hunter may get permit to bring slain rhino home

September 10, 2019 by  
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An American trophy hunter donates $400,000 to an anti-poaching organization in Namibia in exchange for the privilege of killing an endangered rhinoceros. President Trump may issue the permit for Chris Peyerk to bring his kill home with him, despite the Endangered Species Act specifying that it’s illegal to import endangered animals — whole or in part — unless it will enhance the species’ survival. Peyerk, owner of the Michigan business Dan’s Excavating, Inc., shot one of the last 5,500 rhinos in the world last May. The trophy hunter now plans to import the 29 year-old rhino’s skin, skull and horns as mementos. Related: Trail use by outdoor enthusiasts is driving out an elk herd in Colorado If approved, this would be the sixth such permit the US Fish and Wildlife has allowed since 2013, and Trump’s third. Fish and Wildlife also issued three under former President Barack Obama ’s final term. “Legal, well-regulated hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation,” said a Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman, according to the Huffington Post. But major conservation groups don’t think that killing animals to save them makes much sense. “We urge our federal government to end this pay-to-slay scheme that delivers critically endangered rhino trophies to wealthy Americans while dealing a devastating blow to rhino conservation,” Kitty Block, president of the Humane Society of the United States , said in a statement. “With fewer than 2,000 black rhinos left in Namibia — and with rhino poaching on the rise — now is the time to ensure that every living black rhino remains safe in the wild. … Black rhinos must be off limits to trophy hunters.” Nearly half of the world’s surviving black rhinos live in Namibia and are listed as critically endangered. Peyerk noted in his permit application that he had killed a member of the southwestern black rhinoceros subspecies, which is listed as “vulnerable” rather than endangered. International law allows Namibia to issue five permits annually for trophy hunters to kill a male rhinoceros. Via Huffington Post Image via Yathin S Krishnappa

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Supermarket happy hour reduces food waste

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

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Japan relaunches its whaling industry

July 2, 2019 by  
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Japan has officially relaunched its commercial whaling industry, sending the first vessels out to sea this month for the first time in 30 years. Animal rights and marine conservation defenders have condemned the relaunch of the whaling industry as a loss for whales and marine ecosystems, but the Japanese argue that it is a traditional part of their culture and that it will not negatively impact whale populations. The first vessel returned with a 26-foot-long minke whale, but the ships will also hunt Baird’s beaked, sei and Brydes whales. In total, the Japanese Fishing Agency will allow 227 whales to be slaughtered and sold legally to restaurants and markets. Related: Russia to release hundreds of illegally captured orcas and belugas from ‘whale jail’ According to Reuters, whales make up 0.1 percent of the total meat consumption in Japan , and the industry supports only about 300 jobs. Though it is seemingly insignificant as food stock, it does hold cultural importance for many Japanese who grew up eating whale. “It’s part of Japan’s food culture,” Sachiko Sakai, a taxi driver in Kushiro, Japan, told Reuters . “The world opposes killing whales, but you can say the same thing about many of the animals bred on land and killed for food.” Much of the momentum for the relaunch has been initiated by the prime minster, who received considerable election support from constituents from a whaling city. In 1986, Japan announced that it would allow whaling for scientific research, purportedly to quantify the populations and the impact of whaling. Many conservationists believed that commercial whaling continued under the guise of scientific exploration. Nicola Beynon of Humane Society International said, “The word ‘research’ may have been removed from the side of the factory ship, finally ending Japan’s charade of harpooning whales under the guise of science , but these magnificent creatures will still be slaughtered for no legitimate reason.” Via Reuters Image via Rob Oo

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Japan relaunches its whaling industry

This summer sneaker is completely biodegradable

July 2, 2019 by  
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Earlier this month, Native Shoes showed its true sustainability colors with the unveiling of 100 percent biodegradable, plant-based shoes that are completely free of animal products, not to mention stylish and perfect for wearing all summer long. The natural-tone sneaker is a culmination of plant materials including a midsole composed of 90 percent cork and 10 percent sisal backing. The outsole material is produced from natural lactae hevea through a 50-stage process that takes up to two weeks to complete. An organic linen sockliner with kenaf originating in Africa and corn felt make up the insole. Rather than the toxic glues that hold together most shoes, the Plant Shoe is held together with olive oil-soaked jute thread and natural, latex-based glue. For the main upper, the material is formed from otherwise discarded pineapple husks along with eucalyptus and organic cotton fibers. The laces are 100 percent organic cotton as well. Related: SAOLA offers sustainable sneakers sourced from algae and recycled plastic This plant-based and biodegradable design is in sharp, and much-needed, contrast to typical sneakers made from petroleum-based products, plastic , leather and other chemical-laden fabrics. Americans alone dump more than 300 million shoes into landfills every year, almost none of which will break down in a timely manner. Aimed at a completely sustainable model for shoe manufacturing, use and disposal, now and in the future, the Plant Shoe can be commercially composted at the end of its lifecycle. “The Plant Shoe was inspired by Native Shoes’ mission to become 100 percent lifecycle managed by 2023,” said Michael Belgue, creative director of Native Shoes. “The next step beyond our current recycling initiative was to create something that wouldn’t need to be reused or recycled but instead generates zero waste . Something that was born from the earth and could go back into it.” Although each component was scrutinized for the most sustainable options, the sneaker was designed to be stylish yet classic enough to outlast short-term trends. Unisex by design, Plant Shoes can be ordered directly from the company online or found at a brick and mortar location. They retail for $200 and are available in sizes 8-13 for men and 5-10 for women. Founded in 2009, Native Shoes is a footwear company headquartered in Vancouver, Canada with the goal of producing shoes that are light on you and the environment. Taking charge in the fight against post-consumer shoe waste, “Live Lightly” is the company motto and the Plant Shoe is here to prove Native Shoes’ dedication to that mindset. + Native Shoes Images via Native Shoes

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This summer sneaker is completely biodegradable

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