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

Climate change intensifies seaweed infestation in Caribbean Sea

July 2, 2019 by  
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Many consecutive years of sargassum — large brown seaweed — infestations have driven countries around the Caribbean Sea to consider declaring national emergencies. The smelly seaweed blankets beaches, turns the water brown and smothers coral reefs and marine life. Its rotten stench and unsightly appearance is causing many tourism-dependent communities and nations to lose revenue, and it is even causing a public health concern. “It produces an acid gas with a rotten egg smell [when it decomposes] that can be harmful to human health,” read a letter from the local government of Quitana Roo in Mexico, where a public emergency was declared. Mexico already spent $17 million USD trying to clear away the seaweed from popular beaches along the Riviera Maya, which contributes about 50 percent of the country’s tourism dollars. The government cleared more than 500,000 tons of the brown seaweed, with some hotels lamenting that they often have to have their staff clear the beach two or three times every day. Related: Woman arrested in Florida for stomping on sea turtle nest For nearly a decade, scientists have been concluding that the influx of seaweed is likely from fertilizers and raw sewage entering the Caribbean Sea via drains and watersheds. New research indicates that climate change is also playing a role. “Because of global climate change, we may have increased upwelling, increased air deposition or increased nutrient source from rivers, so all three may have increased the recent large amounts of sargassum,” said Chuanmin Hu, an oceanography professor at South Florida University. While small amounts of sargassum are natural and normal on beaches — and even provide habitat for crustaceans and other marine life — it is detrimental to nearshore ecosystems. Hatchling sea turtles , for example, cannot swim out to sea through the heavy seaweed, and many simply get stuck and die. Some agricultural communities are turning the seaweed into compost for crops; however, none are able to keep up with processing and clearing the massive quantities that periodically plague coastal areas. Via The Independent Image via Tam Warner Minton

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Climate change intensifies seaweed infestation in Caribbean Sea

Architects envision sustainable bamboo mass housing for Malaysia

July 2, 2019 by  
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Overshadowed by steel, brick and concrete, bamboo is no longer a major material for everyday Malaysian construction. Yet Cyberjaya-based architectural firm Eleena Jamil Architect believes that the sustainable material should and can join the ranks of modern construction materials. To prove that bamboo is not only a sustainable building material but also a viable one for long-term construction projects, the architects have designed Bamboo Terrace Homes, an eco-friendly proposal for mass contemporary housing built predominately from locally harvested bamboo. Modeled after the typical 22-foot-wide terrace houses found across Malaysia, Eleena Jamil Architect proposed Bamboo Terrace Homes can be used in both urban and suburban areas. Although bamboo has historically been used in Malaysian architecture, the material fell by the wayside due to its low natural resistance to pests and rot when alternative materials, such as steel and brick, rose to prominence. However, the architects said that properly treated and preserved bamboo is strong and resilient enough to be used as a long-term building material. Related: Competition-winning Bamboo Stadium is a sustainable solution to Lagos’ former landfill In their proposal, treated bamboo forms the main structures save for the bathroom enclosures, which will be made of prefabricated lightweight concrete volumes to keep moisture away from the structural bamboo components. The structural bamboo frames would be prefabricated , mass-produced and flat-packed to reduce costs and environmental impact. Bamboo columns would be used to hold up the engineered bamboo floors and roofs, while the internal and external walls would be built from a lightweight bamboo composite board system. According to Eleena Jamil Architect, the Bamboo Terrace Homes would have lower construction costs and a small carbon footprint as compared to standard terrace homes without compromising quality of living. Each contemporary house would include an internal courtyard, balconies and an open-plan floor layout to enhance flexibility. Ample natural light and ventilation would be welcomed indoors through large glazed openings, while large overhangs and balconies reduce heat gain. The proposal is only in the conceptual phase; however, the firm hopes that the design will inspire developers and the local government to adopt bamboo as a sustainable building material. + Eleena Jamil Architect Image via Eleena Jamil Architect

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Architects envision sustainable bamboo mass housing for Malaysia

MAD unveils an energy-saving snowflake-shaped terminal for Harbin Airport

May 31, 2019 by  
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MAD Architects has unveiled a snowflake-shaped design for Terminal 3 of Harbin Taiping International Airport that draws inspiration from the region’s snowy landscape and boasts greater operational efficiency and energy savings as compared to typical terminal architecture . Located in the capital of China’s Heilongjiang Province, the Harbin Taping International Airport is one of the largest transportation hubs in Northeast Asia. The new Terminal 3 will greatly expand the airport’s capacity and cover an area of 3,300 hectares. As with almost all of MAD Architects’ work, the Harbin Taiping International Airport’s Terminal 3 design evokes a futuristic feel with sinuous lines and modern materials. The terminal will consist of ancillary airport facilities, including ground transportation hubs, a hotel, retail and parking lots. The ridges on the roof, which mimic snowdrifts and the gentle slopes of China’s Northern plains, serve as skylights that bathe the interior with natural light and warmth. Lush indoor gardens connect the building’s different levels and delineate major zones in the terminal. “Like a snowflake that has gently fallen onto the earth, it creates an architectural poetry that settles into its locale, while simultaneously expressing itself as a surreal, interstellar space of future air travel,” the architects explained. “While the massiveness of the terminal is inevitable, MAD’s design manages to establish an architectural program that is human-scale and provides a multi-sensory experience that is also efficient and energy saving . The scheme’s snowflake-shaped, five-finger departure corridors greatly shorten the time it takes for passengers to arrive at their gate, while also minimizing congestion and improving the overall efficiency of the airport apron.” Related: MAD brings a surreal sports campus that mimics a green, martian landscape to China Once complete, Terminal 3 will be seamlessly connected to Harbin City via the Ground Transportation Center hub that offers high-speed rail, municipal subway lines, airport buses and other urban transit together. MAD Architects’ focus on efficiency and energy saving is particularly important, given the forecasts for the new terminal: by 2030, Terminal 3 is expected to cater to 43 million passengers annually, with approximately 320,000 outgoing flights per year. + MAD Architects Images via MAD Architects

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MAD unveils an energy-saving snowflake-shaped terminal for Harbin Airport

India will surpass Paris Agreement pledges with renewable energy investment

May 20, 2019 by  
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The Indian government has embarked on many large scale renewable energy projects that are predicted to enable the world’s second most populous country to surpass its commitment to cut carbon emissions. According to a recently released report from Moody’s, 45 percent of all energy produced in India will be from non-fossil fuel sources by 2022. This is impressive, considering India only committed to 40 percent non-fossil fuel sources under the international Paris Agreement in 2015. Although coal remains the largest energy source, the aggressive additions of renewable sources will decrease coal’s overall contribution. Moody’s report, “Power Asia – Climate goals, declining costs of renewables signal decreasing reliance on coal power,” focuses on the role of investors in the energy industry as well as predictions for investments. Related: India plans to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022 “There is a realization that renewables are quicker, cleaner, cheaper and also strategically in India’s interest because of energy security; it just makes financial sense to invest in renewables,” Sameer Kwatra, from the Natural Resources Defense Council,  said . The Indian government has invested in large scale wind, power and solar projects, including tripling its solar power capacity in three years. Much of the increase in renewable energy has been due to decreased prices in renewable technology and interest from private investors. If battery production and storage capacity also increase, the report expects that renewable energy sector growth could spike. Similarly, banks and private investors are under increased pressure to withdraw investments in fossil fuel companies and pipeline projects. Despite the fact that investments in renewable energy have been higher than fossil fuel investments for three years in a row, the coal industry is still growing steadily alongside the renewable industry, with Indian populations using more electricity annually. India’s success is a considerable achievement for the entire world. After the U.S. and China, India is the largest contributor of greenhouse gases . Via CleanTechnica Image via DoshiJi

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India will surpass Paris Agreement pledges with renewable energy investment

Time-saving supersonic airplanes could be a disaster for the environment

February 4, 2019 by  
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Supersonic airplanes might be making a major comeback, but environmental scientists warn these time-saving transports will add even more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than ever before. A group of regulators from around the world are scheduled to meet in Canada next week to discuss the impacts of supersonic travel on the environment. Ahead of the meeting, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) published an article about how supersonic planes impact the environment . According to USA Today, the ICCT discovered that supersonic airplanes consume significantly more fuel than a standard commercial aircraft. In fact, these jets will use around five times the amount of fuel as a normal jet flying the same route. Supersonic jets consume more fuel because they are faster and carry fewer travelers. Companies in the aviation business previously agreed to cut down on carbon emissions by the year 2050, but with the threat of supersonic jets returning to the skies, ICCT director Dan Rutherford believes those goals will not be met in time. Related: Greenhouse gas emissions rose during 2018 after three year decline “Adding these planes, which could be five to seven times as carbon intensive as comparable subsonic jets, on top of that just to save a few hours flying over the Atlantic seems problematic to me,” Rutherford explained. The appeal of these jets is that they fly at a much faster rate than typical airliners and can cruise at higher altitudes. For example, a supersonic airplane could make it from New York to Paris in under four hours while a normal jet takes about eight hours to complete the same trip. This effectively cuts air travel time in half. There are three corporations from the United States that are seeking to build a new generation of supersonic airplanes for commercial use. This includes Boom Supersonic, which plans on building around 2,000 aircrafts, Aerion Supersonic and Spike Aerospace. The latter two companies are only planning on offering supersonic jets for business travel. This, of course, is not the first time supersonic jets have graced the skies. Air France and British Airways had a line of supersonic jets between the years 1976 and 2003. The companies stopped offering the service after an accident in 2000 took the lives of 113 passengers. They also had trouble selling tickets because the price of a flight was much higher than a conventional jet. Via USA Today Image via Jacek Dylag

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Time-saving supersonic airplanes could be a disaster for the environment

Some of the largest manufacturers are going green with the milkman model

January 29, 2019 by  
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Loop, introduced at the World Economic Forum last week, is attempting to transform how we purchase and use everyday goods, from shampoo and laundry detergent to orange juice and oatmeal. Some of largest manufacturers are partnering with Loop to ditch  disposable packaging, and replace it with chic and reusable containers that consumers can leave out on the porch to be picked up, washed and refilled, just like the glass milk bottles of years past. “Loop is about the future of consumption. And one of the tenets is that garbage shouldn’t exist,” said Tom Szaky, CEO of TerraCycle, the international recycling company behind Loop. Related: 9 sustainable living tips to take from our grandparents Szaky added that we need to “get at the whole idea of disposability and single-use items” instead of just removing plastics from the ocean, according to NBC Los Angeles . So, Loop is going back to the 1950s “milkman model,” where the company owns the bottle, and customers can have them picked up when they are done using them. Top brands that are partnering with Loop include Nestle, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble and Unilever. The goal, according to P&G vice president and chief sustainability officer Virginie Helias, is to have all the product packaging be reusable or recyclable by 2030. Products like Pantene shampoo will be delivered in a lightweight aluminum pump container, Tide will be packaged in a stainless steel bottle that has a twist cap and Crest mouthwash will be packaged in a glass bottle. Nestle products like Häagen-Dazs ice cream will be delivered in a stainless steel tub. CEO Laurent Freixe said the company hopes to get rid of its non-recyclable packaging by 2025 and have zero-waste at both the production and consumption levels. In the U.S., Loop will launch in New York , New Jersey and Pennsylvania this spring. The plan is to expand to the West Coast by the end of the year. + Loop Via NBC LA Image via Loop

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Some of the largest manufacturers are going green with the milkman model

The convenience of "highway fitting" your clothes is hurting the planet

January 29, 2019 by  
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Everybody likes the convenience of a free return policy. But what consumers do privately in their home closets — say, ordering two sizes of jeans and returning the one that doesn’t fit — has a growing global impact. A recent U.K. survey concluded that more than 40 percent of clothing bought online is returned. A group called Fashion Revolution wants to do something about this. “Instead of the two-way drive of a delivery van bringing a package to you, it now has to drive back to your house to return it to the retailer,” said Chloé Mikolajczak, country coordinator of Fashion Revolution Belgium. “It literally doubles the amount of kilometers a truck is on the road, because you didn’t like what you ordered. On a global scale, this has a massive impact on the environment and traffic.” Fashion Revolution is a U.K.-based nonprofit whose mission is to radically change the way the fashion industry sources, produces and consumes clothing, as well as to make sure clothes are made in a safe and fair way. Related: 5 ways to become a responsible fashion consumer this year “Highway Fitting,” Fashion Revolution’s new campaign, spreads the message about the environmental impact of misusing the free return policy many clothing brands offer. Jeroen Willekens directed the campaign’s  stylish video , which shows young women posing for photos in their new clothes, tags still attached. At the end of the video, produced by Fledge.tv, they throw the clothes on a truck to be shipped back to the retailer. Fashion Revolution believes that popular Instagram hashtags, such as #ootd (#outfitoftheday), help drive this desire to constantly model something new. Nearly 20 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds acknowledge they’ve worn outfits a single time, so they could post pictures on social media . The fashion industry is one of the world’s largest polluters and water consumers. Treating and dying textiles accounts for 20 percent of global industrial water pollution. But increased consumer awareness can reduce the adverse effects of fashion. Fashion Revolution recommends four ways to minimize your impact: Reduce consumption by choosing carefully and buying less. If your desired outfit is only available online, do extra research and read reviews to get a feel for the brand’s sizing. Group your deliveries if possible, rather than have each item sent separately. Resist returns. If the item doesn’t fit, consider giving it to a friend. + Highway Fitting Images via Fledge and Fashion Revolution

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The convenience of "highway fitting" your clothes is hurting the planet

60% of wild coffee species are now threatened with extinction

January 17, 2019 by  
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When people think of threatened and endangered species, charismatic animals like tigers and giant pandas are usually top of mind. But climate change  really hits home when it lands in your morning mug. Coffea arabica , the wild relative of the world’s favorite coffee, has hit the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. According to a study done by scientists at England’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew , 60 percent of wild coffee species risk extinction. The culprits? Climate change, deforestation, pests and fungal pathogens. Kew scientists undertook their research in African forests and on the island of Madagascar. Their computer models predict that by the end of the century, climate change could decrease the land now used for Ethiopian coffee production by 60 percent. Ethiopia is Africa’s largest coffee exporter — the annual export value tops $1 billion — and the birthplace of Arabica coffee. The wild Arabica coffee is a vital seed stock for coffee farmers. Related: Champagne could lose its classic taste due to climate change This is bad news for coffee lovers, the multi-billion dollar coffee industry and the farmers who depend on the crop for their livelihood. “Among the coffee species threatened with extinction are those that have potential to be used to breed and develop the coffees of the future, including those resistant to disease and capable of withstanding worsening climatic condition,” said Aaron Davis, head of coffee research at Kew. “The use and development of wild coffee resources could be key to the long-term sustainability of the coffee sector.” The Kew study is the first IUCN Red List assessment of the extinction risk to coffee worldwide. “A figure of 60 percent of all coffee species threatened with extinction is extremely high, especially when you compare this to a global estimate of 22 percent for plants,” said Eimear Nic Lughadha, senior research leader in Kew’s conservation department and lead scientist for Kew’s plant assessment unit. “Some of the coffee species assessed have not been seen in the wild for more than 100 years, and it is possible that some may already be extinct. We hope this new data will highlight species to be prioritized for the sustainability of the coffee production sector so that appropriate action can be taken to safeguard their future.” + Kew Images via Emma Sage and Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew

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60% of wild coffee species are now threatened with extinction

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