Ecobricks transform plastic trash into reusable building blocks

May 9, 2018 by  
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People are getting creative with plastic waste around the world, and now Ecobricks wants to utilize plastic for building. They encourage people to pack soft plastic garbage into plastic bottles to make blocks that can create buildings, walls, or modular furniture . The group says ecobricks offer a zero-cost solution to plastics pollution that allows people to take action right now. According to the Ecobricks website, “Ecobricks are designed to leverage the longevity and durability of plastic to create an indefinitely reusable, cradle to cradle, building block.” People create these blocks by packing cleaned plastic into drinking bottles, then connecting them with “tire bands, silicone, cob, and cement,” although the group advises against using concrete. “No special skills, machinery, funding, NGOs, or politicians are needed,” the group said in a YouTube video . Related: Cameroon student nonprofit recycles plastic bottles into boats Ecobricks describes itself not as an NGO, but as a people-powered movement . Designer Russell Maier, one of the people behind the movement,  said in an interview  that he discovered ecobricking while living in Sabangan in the Northern Philippines. Currently based in Indonesia, Maier was a lead author of the Vision Ecobricks Guide, originally created for schools in the Northern Philippines. According to the Ecobricks website, the guide is now part of the curriculum in over 8,000 schools in the Philippines, and Maier has “overseen the construction of hundreds of ecobrick playgrounds, gardens, and buildings.” People in the United States, South America, and Africa have gotten involved in ecobricking as well, creating projects that include an eco-restaurant in the Ecuadorean Amazon. You can find more information about ecobricking on the group’s  website . + Ecobricks Images via Ecobricks

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Ecobricks transform plastic trash into reusable building blocks

This great ape species was discovered 6 months ago and it’s already threatened by a dam

April 23, 2018 by  
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The Tapanuli orangutan was only discovered six months ago — and it’s already under threat of extinction from human development. Only 800 Tapanuli orangutans live in the wild today — however state-run Chinese company Sinohydro plans to construct a dam in northern Sumatra that will result in the deforestation of the orangutan’s habitat. If completed, the dam could pose an existential danger to the animals. Researchers fear that the construction of the  510 megawatt dam in the fragile Batang Toru ecosystem will result in the extinction of certain communities within the already vulnerable Tapanuli population. “Building the dam means chopping the orangutan population in half,” Borneo Futures director and orangutan expert Erik Meijaard told The Guardian . “You end up with two smaller populations, and these will have much reduced chances of survival, because a small population is more likely to go extinct than a large one.” Although Sinohydro did not include the orangutan in its environmental management plan, the Indonesian government approved the project. “The impact will not just be the destruction of the habitat where they want to build the dam and roads, tunnel, electricity lines,” scientist Gabriella Fredriksson explained to the Guardian , “but it will cause the extinction of two of the three sub-populations, and in addition create access and destroy the most important habitat of the only viable population left.” Related: UK researchers are developing an orangutan-safe alternative to palm oil “The Indonesian government needs to respect its own laws,” Meijaard said. “Orangutans are protected species. The Indonesian law clearly prohibits any actions that harm a protected species or its nests. It is obvious that the hydrodam is harming a protected species, so why does the government allow this?” Instead of building a dam, researcher Serge Wich suggested that the government pursue a geothermal project farther north from the orangutan habitat. According to Wich, this proposed project could yield one gigawatt of power, significantly more than the dam. The newly discovered orangutans are suffering under a broader extinction crisis, in which the large mammals of Sumatra, such as the Sumatran tiger , the Sumatran rhino and the Sumatran elephant have become critically endangered. Via The Guardian Images via Tim Laman and Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme

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This great ape species was discovered 6 months ago and it’s already threatened by a dam

Michael Bloomberg pledges $4.5 million to fund the Paris climate agreement

April 23, 2018 by  
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Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg just pledged to personally cover the $4.5 million bill that the United States is obligated to contribute as part of the Paris climate agreement . In doing so, Bloomberg is picking up the slack for Donald Trump , who dramatically withdrew the United States from the Paris agreement in 2017. “America made a commitment and as an American, if the government’s not going to do it, we all have responsibility,” said the former Republican NYC mayor on CBS’s Face the Nation . Bloomberg, who has amassed a $50 billion fortune through his financial services, mass media, and software company Bloomberg L.P., has occasionally appeared on speculative lists of candidates for President of the United States. Still, the former mayor of the most populous city in the United States said that the likelihood of a Bloomberg 2020 campaign was “not very high.” When asked whether his actions served to fill a leadership gap in Washington , Bloomberg replied that he was simply serving the public interest “Well, I think that this is what the American public when you poll them say they want to do,” he explained. Related: Trump fails to evade climate change lawsuit filed by 21 youths Despite his apparent disinterest in presidential politics, Bloomberg did have a few words of wisdom for President Trump . “He should change his mind [on the Paris climate agreement] and say look there really is a problem here,” said Bloomberg. “America is part of the problem. America is a big part of the solution and we should go in and help the world stop a potential disaster.” Bloomberg has not committed to providing the funds necessary under Paris beyond 2018. He hopes that Trump will have changed his mind by then. Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia and Face the Nation

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Michael Bloomberg pledges $4.5 million to fund the Paris climate agreement

One in four of world’s largest cities under water stress

February 15, 2018 by  
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Cape Town, South Africa is rapidly approaching what has been called “Day Zero,” the moment when the diverse metropolitan area of nearly 4 million runs out of clean drinking water . While Cape Town has taken drastic measures to conserve water , it is simply not enough to avoid the imminent crisis. And now, as government and residents prepare for the worst, it’s important to understand which other major cities around the world are also at risk. Lack of water is truly a global problem; one in four of the world’s largest cities are currently under “water stress,” with that number expected to rise due to climate change, human activity, and population growth. Water shortages have the potential to aggravate already unstable political and economic conditions, which is of particular concern in cities such as Cairo . Currently confronting violent extremism and managing ongoing political tension, Egypt is also rated by the World Health Organization as ranking high among middle-income countries on the number of deaths related to water pollution. This is tied to increasing pollution in the Nile River. The United Nations estimates that Egypt will suffer critical water shortages by 2025, exacerbating the potential for conflict. Similarly, São Paulo and Moscow are plagued by pollution due to poor public policy decisions. Fortunately, this means that the problem may be fixable, however entrenched it might be. Related: Venice’s canals go dry following weeks without rain Coastal cities like Jakarta and Miami are facing unique water problems as both attempt to pull freshwater from aquifers. Due to lack of public access to piped water, residents of Jakarta have dug illegal wells, draining the underlying aquifer and actually causing the land to sink. As a result, about 40 percent of Jakarta now lies below sea level. While Miami may not be sinking, its freshwater reserves are suffering from seawater contamination as a result of rapid sea level rise and wetland habitat destruction. Even cities like London are facing a water-scarce future, with severe shortages expected by 2040. Governments can make the necessary policy changes to solve this problem, but they must act quickly. The water crisis is already upon us in many cities. Via BBC News Images via Depositphotos (1) (2)

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One in four of world’s largest cities under water stress

Clothing company removes 1,000,000 pounds of trash from global waters

February 13, 2018 by  
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Fast fashion is a dirty business, and the apparel industry is considered one of the world’s most toxic, second only to the oil industry when it comes to pollution. Some big labels are keen to tout their greenwashed textiles or “responsible” material sourcing, but few have taken measures to reduce waste. Enter  United By Blue , a sustainable fashion line that not only uses eco-friendly materials in the manufacturing of its products but has made a commitment to removing one pound of trash from global oceans and waterways for every product sold. The model, which was introduced in 2010, has so far led to the removal of 1,039,456 pounds of trash across 27 states—and counting. The initiative is wholly backed by United by Blue’s employees and like-minded volunteers looking to make a difference. Over 200 cleanups have been organized thus far, and everything from  plastic bottles , tires, appliances, to abandoned trucks have been scooped out of rivers, streams, creeks, and beaches. What’s more, United by Blue has budgeted time, resources, and money into its business plan for cleanups, and employees are paid for their contributions. Related: Billions of pieces of plastic trash are sickening the world’s coral reefs As it stands, eight million tons of plastic enter oceans each year with plastic bottles accounting for 1.5 million tons. There is almost no part of the world that has been untouched by the pollution , which endangers sea life and ends up in our food when we consume seafood that has unwittingly ingested plastic. Even scarier, in a recent study , researchers looked at more than 124,000 corals from 159 reefs in Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, and Australia, and found that plastic has ravaged the reefs. “We came across chairs, chip wrappers, Q-tips, garbage bags, water bottles, old nappies,” Joleah Lamb, a marine disease ecologist at Cornell University and lead author of the study, told the Atlantic . “Everything you see on the beach is probably lying on the reef.” Nearly 90 percent of corals that come into contact with plastic will get some sort of infection. Lamb and her colleagues reported that almost every time they lifted a piece of plastic shrouding coral, the coral was riddled with disease. Here’s hoping that more clothing companies follow United By Blue’s model so we can end this scourge once and for all. + United by Blue Via Treehugger

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Clothing company removes 1,000,000 pounds of trash from global waters

Super blue blood moon eclipse to occur for the first time in 150 years

January 4, 2018 by  
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On January 31, turn your eyes to the sky, because the moon is going to do something that it hasn’t done in a century and a half. On the last day of the month, lucky celestial viewers are going to witness a super blue blood moon eclipse. So what is a super blue blood moon eclipse? Let’s break it down. The supermoon is when the full moon is closest to the Earth, so it looks extremely bright and big. A blue moon is when the moon is full for a second time in a calendar month. Then, while all that is happening, there is going to be a total lunar eclipse . And as if that wasn’t enough, it’s also going to be a blood moon at the same time – something that occurs when blue light filters out of the atmosphere during an eclipse, making the moon appear red. Related: Missed the Blood Moon? Watch the Event Unfold Through NASA’s Stunning Footage In the U.S., the eclipse itself won’t be very visible except in Hawaii and Alaska. But viewers in New Zealand, Australia, parts of Asia, and Indonesia are in for a real treat. And in case you were wondering, the answer is no. The super blue blood moon eclipse doesn’t mean anything special, except that it is an exciting convergence of multiple interesting lunar phenomena. Via Phys.org Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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Super blue blood moon eclipse to occur for the first time in 150 years

"Garbage emergency" declared in Bali as clean-up unfolds

December 28, 2017 by  
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The Indonesian island of Bali recently declared a “garbage emergency” in response to the overwhelming amount of plastic waste that has floated ashore and spoiled pristine beaches. “When I want to swim, it is not really nice. I see a lot of garbage here every day, every time,” said Vanessa Moonshine, a traveler from Australia told 24Matins . Although places in Indonesia have been described as “paradise on earth,” the nation of more than 17,000 islands has some work to do to reclaim its title and is mobilizing clean-up efforts to do so. Indonesia is the world’s second largest contributor to marine debris, outdone only by China , the most populous country in the world. In addition to degrading the beaches , plastic waste blocks waterways, impacting transportation and increasing flooding risk, while posing a risk to marine animals. The waste issue has become so debilitating that Bali officially declared a “garbage emergency” over a 3.7 mile segment of coastline last month, prompting the mobilization of resources. 700 cleaners with 35 trucks removed 100 tons of debris each day from the area, which includes the popular beaches of Jimbaran, Kuta and Seminyak. Related: Indonesia pledges $1 billion annually to tackle ocean pollution problem While economic concerns may have motivated this particular cleanup, the dangers of plastic waste are more insidious than loss of tourism. “Garbage is aesthetically disturbing to tourists, but plastic waste issue is way more serious,” I Gede Hendrawan, an environmental oceanography researcher from Bali’s Udayana University, told AFP . “Microplastics can contaminate fish which, if eaten by humans, could cause health problems including cancer.” Fortunately, Indonesia is taking action. The nation of 261 million has pledged to reduce marine plastic waste by 70 percent by 2025, in part by boosting recycling programs and reducing plastic bag usage. Local inventors have even created a type of biodegradable plastic made from seaweed , an abundant crop in Indonesia. Via 24Matins Images via Depositphotos (1)

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"Garbage emergency" declared in Bali as clean-up unfolds

The spinning house uses the force of hurricanes to anchor itself to the ground

December 28, 2017 by  
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This futuristic, hurricane-proof home is cleverly designed to use the force of storms to withstand extreme wind loads. Margot Krasojevi? Architects designed house to rotate around a helicoid retaining wall, burying itself into the land. The stronger the storm, the more tenaciously the home anchors itself to the earth. The Self-Excavation Hurricane House’s main living spaces are located in a precast reinforced concrete frame. This lightweight structure has a series of rubber-coated, concertina wall sections that provide the flexibility to adapt while the home rotates. Related: Floating, solar-powered ‘dragonfly’ bridge can sail to new locations The house is set upon an artificial island that is landscaped to flush flood water away from the main living areas. The surrounding topsoil directs water to deeper soil that functions as a bioswale . The wetland absorbs and temporarily stores floodwater, releasing it slowly into its surroundings. This part of the project helps with land reclamation and water purification . + Margot Krasojevi? Architects

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The spinning house uses the force of hurricanes to anchor itself to the ground

100% biodegradable, edible packaging is so much better than plastic

November 29, 2017 by  
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The world is awash in pollution from plastic packaging – but fortunately, some people are working hard to develop viable eco-friendly alternatives. Indonesia -based Evoware makes food packaging out of an unexpected material: seaweed . Instead of clogging our oceans, the non-toxic seaweed-based packaging biodegrades – and it’s even edible. Evoware’s 100 percent biodegradable packaging lasts for two years on the shelf, and is printable and heat sealable. It’s also a natural plant fertilizer. You can eat the packaging, taking advantage of the high fiber, mineral, and vitamin content. It could serve as a hamburger wrapping, for example, and there’d be no need to remove the packaging before eating the burger. Or it could hold instant noodle seasoning, and when a consumer poured in warm water to make the noodles, the packaging would dissolve. Evoware on their website describes their product as “almost tasteless and odorless.” The seaweed packaging can also form sachets to hold non-food items such as soap or sanitary pads. Related: Egyptian scientists turn dried shrimp shells into eco-friendly plastic Environmental challenges motivate the company, as Indonesia is the second largest contributor of ocean plastic . But co-founder David Christian said in a video they also aim to help poor seaweed farmers in the country. Indonesia is the biggest seaweed-producing country, according to Christian – but many of the farmers, due to a long marketing chain, don’t make enough money or are in debt to loan sharks. Their children are malnourished and can’t attend school. And unfortunately, a lot of the seaweed is wasted right now, he added. Evoware aims to use it, and increase these farmers’ incomes by turning seaweed into zero waste packaging. The company said on their website, “Through Evoware’s products, people evolve to be closer to nature and live a more responsible and sustainable life.” You can find out more here . + Evoware Images via Evoware

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Shocking investigation reveals 70,000 dogs in Bali murdered and served to tourists every year

June 19, 2017 by  
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Each year 70,000 dogs are brutally killed in Bali , Indonesia, according to an investigation spearheaded by Animals Australia (AA). The animals are strangled, bludgeoned, or poisoned and then fed to tourists who think they’re eating chicken meat. AA estimates seven times more dogs are killed in Bali yearly than in the Yulin Dog-Eating Festival in China. Evidence obtained by ABC’s 7.30 program revealed a huge dog meat trade in Bali. An AA undercover investigator spent four months posing as a documentary maker to uncover details about the trade. Known simply as ‘Luke,’ the investigator said he started by getting to know key players in the unregulated industry, and “eventually, they invited me to join them as their gangs stole, hunted, poisoned, and killed dogs.” Related: Dogs raised for meat in South Korea to get forever homes in the US AA campaign director Lyn White said, “Tourists will walk down a street, they’ll see a street store selling satay but what they are not realizing is the letters RW on the store mean it is dog meat being served. They’re just sitting down ordering satay have no idea that they’re eating dog.” And it’s not just street vendors selling the meat to tourists as chicken, but restaurants as well. The Bali Animal Welfare Association, an organization working to rescue the animals from dog traders, has discovered 70 restaurants serving dog meat. It’s not illegal to consume dog meat in Bali. But White said it is illegal to kill animals cruelly or to consume meat tainted with poison. Luke described aggressive methods and said although he’s trained himself to cope with cruelty, in one village where he saw dogs being caught, nothing had prepared him for the brutality. On one occasion he witnessed hunters catching dogs by laying out fish meat laced with cyanide. For the first time in his career, he switched off his camera as he watched a puppy die over agonizing minutes. He said, “I sat stroking him as he died and found myself apologizing for the cruelty of my fellow man.” According to ABC, while some local people think dog meat is healthy, the practice isn’t a long-held tradition. Hindu leader Gusti Ngurah Harta is among those working to end the trade – he said Bali Hindus consider dogs to be a holy animal and that it’s upsetting people are eating them. AA is willing to partner with the Bali government to end the trade and find a positive solution, which may include compensating those who make their living in the trade. You can sign their petition for the governor of Bali here . Via Animals Australia , ABC , and International Business Times Images via Pexels and Pixabay

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