Oil and plastic industry spent millions to mislead the public about plastic recycling

September 16, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

A new investigation by  NPR  and  PBS Frontline  reveals that for decades, executives in the oil and plastic industries invested millions of U.S. dollars into misleading the public about the recycling of plastics . As a good citizen, you sort your trash, thinking that the plastic will be recycled to reduce pollution. Unfortunately, all that effort might be in vain.  According to the information published by NPR, oil industry operators misled the public into believing that single-use plastic can be recycled. These operators managed to lobby all states into placing a recycling logo on single-use plastic products. This helped convince many members of the public that these products are recyclable when, in reality, the necessary recycling process proves impractical. Increasing plastic pollution in landfills and oceans has little to do with public responsibility. The recent investigation reveals that leading oil and plastic companies sold the public an individual responsibility narrative that they knew was unrealistic. This investigation, which dug into records dating back five decades, noted that oil and plastic industry players chose to sell this narrative despite issues being raised at the time. In a bid to discover the root of this fallacy, NPR conducted interviews with various stakeholders in the industry, including retired members of plastic and oil corporations . Larry Thomas, the former president of the Society of the Plastics Industry (currently called the Plastics Industry Association), said that they had to distract the attention of the public. “If the public thinks that recycling is working, then they are not going to be as concerned about the environment,” Thomas said in an interview with NPR.  The investigation has unearthed documents dating to the 1970s showing that industry executives knew what they were doing. Most of these documents are housed in libraries and universities across the country. For example, at Syracuse University, investigators found a pile of files from a former industry consultant. The files contain a 1973 report by scientists that explicitly told the executives that it was not viable to recycle plastic on a large scale. While some plastics are recycled, they only account for about 10% of all plastics used at home. This is because the cost of recycling single-use plastics is too high. Further, most industry members prefer making new plastics from fracking by-products, which is cheaper and offers higher quality products. + NPR Image via Pexels

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Oil and plastic industry spent millions to mislead the public about plastic recycling

Valani launches debut collection of biodegradable clothing

September 16, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

New fashion house Valani has launched its debut collection of biodegradable separates and dresses inspired by “light living.” These sustainable clothes are made from materials like classic hemp fiber, antibacterial Tencel and banana silk for wardrobe staples that are just as comfortable and eco-friendly as they are stylish. The fashion brand has designed its pieces to reflect sustainability, with soft styles that can be worn throughout the year — regardless of season. Founder Vanni Leung is driven by the interconnectedness of the planet, animals and humankind as well as the recognition that love for the planet and love for ourselves are intertwined. She is a lifelong vegan, breathwork practitioner, a believer in the mind-body balance and an ally for female empowerment. Related: Seaweed Girl explores seaweed as an eco-textile for sustainable fashion Valani uses hemp, Tencel and banana silk in its designs. Hemp makes for a soft and flowy fabric that is hypoallergenic; it is also a carbon-negative crop, uses less water in production and is naturally resistant to bacteria growth. Tencel is made from sustainably managed eucalyptus trees and produced using a closed loop method that reuses 99% of solvents and water. The banana silk is made from a byproduct of agriculture waste; discarded banana stems are harvested to make way for new tree growth and then upcycled into this sustainable silk alternative. Prices for the new collection range from $98 to $398, so adding Valani to your wardrobe will certainly be an investment. However, the clothing is built to last, and your money goes much further than just the garment. Valani offers no-cost breathwork sessions online to its customers and plants a tree for every piece of clothing purchased. The sustainable company has also pledged to donate 10% of its profits to conservation, animal welfare and female empowerment organizations. As an additional sustainability feature, Valani uses recycled materials as well as straw, hemp and jute for its packaging. Pattern designs are strategically created to minimize fabric waste, and any scraps are used for scrunchies, crafts, training purposes or as filling for toys and pillows. Some of the most notable pieces include the faux wrap Sitha Top ($148), the cropped double puff sleeved Sineth Top ($168), the mid-rise pull-on Petra Pant ($188) and the asymmetrical, one-shoulder Sokha Banana Dress ($398). Sizes run from 0 to 12. + Valani Images via Valani

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Valani launches debut collection of biodegradable clothing

The public health impact of Hurricane Harvey is worse than we’ve been told

March 22, 2018 by  
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More than six months since  Hurricane Harvey decimated much of Central America and the American Gulf Coast, the public still doesn’t have the answers it needs regarding the full public health impact of the powerful storm. This is of particular concern for Texas, in which the nation’s most substantial energy corridor is based. 500 chemical plants, 10 refineries and more than 6,670 miles of oil, gas and chemical pipelines are located in the impact area of Hurricane Harvey. And investigations by the Associated Press and the Houston Chronicle have found that the toxic impact of the storm is far worse than authorities reported. The investigators documented more than 100 specific instances of toxic chemical release into the water, the air, or land as a result of Hurricane Harvey. Nearly half a billion gallons of industrial wastewater flooded out of one chemical plant outside of Houston alone, mixing with storm water and surging across the sprawling urban environment. Hazardous chemicals such as benzene, vinyl chloride, butadiene and other carcinogens were released into the flood waters during the storm. In the case of two major contamination events, officials publicized the potential toxic impact as less extensive than it actually was. Related: Houston Bike Share offers free bicycles to people who lost cars to Harvey While Texas regulators claim to have investigated at least 89 instances, they have not said whether they will take any enforcement action. Alarmingly, state and federal regulators only tested water and soil for contaminants in areas near Superfund toxic waste sites, ignoring the potential runoff of toxic chemicals during the unprecedented flooding of Houston and surrounding areas. During and after the storm, authorities only notified the public of dangers posed by two events: the explosions and burning at the Arkema chemical plant and an uncapped Superfund site by the San Jacinto River. “The public will probably never know the extent of what happened to the environment after Harvey,” Harris County supervising attorney Rock Owens told the Associated Press, “but the individual companies of course know.” Via NBC San Diego Images via Texas National Guard and  Depositphotos

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The public health impact of Hurricane Harvey is worse than we’ve been told

FBI investigates claims Russia has information compromising Trump

January 11, 2017 by  
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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating allegations that Russian agents possess compromising financial and personal information about President-elect Donald Trump , reports CNN . The news organization said memos providing the classified information haven’t been “independently corroborated,” but it appears the FBI was at least aware of such damaging allegations before the United States election. Trump, President Obama , and eight members of Congress reportedly received a two-page summary on the allegations that also included claims Trump surrogates exchanged information with Russian government intermediaries during Trump’s campaign. The two-page summary was compiled mainly from memos prepared by a former British intelligence agent. U.S. intelligence officials believe past work from this agent is credible. The FBI will now delve into the accuracy and credibility of the allegations from the memos, which contain information coming from Russian sources, but CNN notes “many essential details” in the memos have not yet been confirmed. Although Buzzfeed published the memos, CNN did not. Related: Trump calls for more nuclear weapons in alarming new tweet The former British agent, who during the 1990’s was posted to Russia, now operates his own private intelligence firm. CNN reports donors and groups backing Republican opposition to Trump initially funded the former agent’s investigations into the President-elect. After Trump nabbed the Republication nomination, donors and groups backing Hillary Clinton funded further investigations. It appears the FBI knew about the compromising memos during the summer; the former British agent gave memos to an FBI official in August 2016 in Rome, reports CNN. The news organization also said Senator John McCain delivered memos dated from June to December 2016 to FBI Director James Comey on December 9. FBI and Director of National Intelligence spokespersons did not comment. CNN said officials they talked with spoke off the record as the information is classified. Senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Late Night with Seth Meyers that the memos are untrue. And predictably, Trump ranted on Twitter about “fake news.” Via CNN Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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FBI investigates claims Russia has information compromising Trump

Former industrial district in Finland to be transformed into an eco-friendly innovation hub

January 11, 2017 by  
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The Finnish city of Tampere just declared Schauman & Norgren Architects and Mandaworks the winners of an international competition for the redesign of Hiedanranta, a former industrial district. The 250-hectare masterplan, named Hiedanranta Innovation Bay, prescribes carbon neutral development to deal with the rapidly growing population. The design will be sensitive to the site’s industrial heritage and the natural lakeshore environment. Located northwest of the city of Tampere, Hiedanranta Innovation Bay will house 25,000 new residents and 10,000 new jobs created around a circular economy . Schauman & Norgren Architects and Mandaworks organized the area around two urban grids and divided the land into six diverse and productive neighborhoods. The neighborhoods will be connected by two major corridors—a north-south “innovation corridor” and an east-west “recreation corridor”—complemented with a cohesive landscape design integrated with passive stormwater management and habitat cultivation. Major civic buildings as well as manufacturing facilities and the innovation campus will line the innovation corridor, whereas the recreation corridor is defined by water elements such as the harbor and a grand canal. Related: Reykjavik announces plans to be carbon neutral by 2040 Public transportation and non-vehicular transport are prioritized in the masterplan. Two tram lines will crisscross the development, while cycle and pedestrian routes will make it easy for residents to move between neighborhoods. The masterplan will be installed in three phases, from 2025 to 2045. “Embracing the circular economy and creative potential of Tampere, the masterplan catalyses innovation, embraces the future of smart manufacturing and creates a robust platform for public life. Hiedanranta Innovation Bay embraces the site’s industrial character and builds upon its foundation to create an urban district that supports new technologies, emerging business trends and local energy production ,” says Patrick Verhoeven, partner in charge of Mandaworks. + Schauman & Norgren Architects + Mandaworks Images via Schauman & Norgren Architects

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Former industrial district in Finland to be transformed into an eco-friendly innovation hub

Oakland has an even worse lead problem than Flint, Michigan

January 5, 2017 by  
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A new report from Reuters reveals that residents of the Fruitvale neighborhood in Oakland, CA are being exposed to far more dangerous levels of lead than residents of Flint, Michigan. However, in this case, the drinking water isn’t the reason for the contamination – it’s the lead-based paint still in use in many of the buildings there. When it chips or crumbles, the lead ends up being released into the air and the dirt nearby. Out of 500 children tested within the area, 7.57% had elevated levels of lead in their blood – far higher than the nationwide average of 2.5%. At the height of the Flint water crisis , only 5% of children within the city had elevated lead levels in their blood, meaning Oakland’s problem is actually worse. Other areas of Oakland didn’t have data available, so it’s impossible to say if other neighborhoods are as badly impacted. Chances are, however, that there’s a lead contamination problem elsewhere in the city – a study in nearby East San Jose turned up equally troubling results, with 3.02% of children testing positive for elevated lead. Related: 33 other U.S. cities have cheated water tests that detect lead The findings come as part of a report published by Reuters just before Christmas. Reporters for the agency found dangerous levels of lead present in almost 3,000 different locales within the country. In fact, more than 1,100 of the affected communities reported lead poisoning rates 4 times higher than those in Flint. Worried about your community? Read the full report and view Reuters’ map of identified lead hotspots here. + Reuters Via The Mercury News Images via Quinn Dombrowski and Christopher Najewicz

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Oakland has an even worse lead problem than Flint, Michigan

Russia investigating men who brutally ran over a bear with heavy trucks

December 29, 2016 by  
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Russia has launched a criminal investigation after a horrifying YouTube video showed men in Siberia driving heavy duty trucks over a brown bear . One man can be heard yelling for the others to crush the poor animal . Many people are outraged over their atrocious treatment of the bear that ultimately led to its death, and Russia’s environment minister is now calling for tough punishment for the “villains.” In the appalling YouTube video, men ran over the bear in off-road trucks typically operated by mining and oil workers. The video, which looked as it it was filmed on a cell phone, showed the men driving trucks over the bear several times in the snow, as one man yelled “Squash him! Squash him!” The words “It’s still alive,” could be heard as the men prodded the animal using a metal rod, while it struggled to escape before it perished. Related: Tigers punched for fun at horrifying “sanctuaries” in China The video has since been taken down, but the crime is too enormous to be forgotten. Russian investigators in Yakutia, a northern region of the country, opened a criminal inquiry. They said the men work for a mineral prospecting company, and they could face up to two years in jail due to sadistic treatment of the animal. Russian media reported on the sickening video, sparking anger from the public. Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergei Donskoi posted on social media, “There should be real jail time for this sort of crime! We’ll make sure these villains get the most serious punishment.” According to The Guardian , people working in the oil and mining industries in Siberia come into conflict more often with animals – including bears, which can be dangerous. People in this area of the world are legally allowed to shoot bears if they don’t go into hibernation and wander near villages or towns. But that can never excuse the way these men cruelly treated the bear. Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Russia investigating men who brutally ran over a bear with heavy trucks

Man drives truck through crowd of protestors at the Dakota Access pipeline protest

October 12, 2016 by  
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On Monday, a man in a white pickup truck drove through a group of protestors in Reno, Nevada, critically injuring one 59-year-old woman and leaving four others with minor injuries. The group had gathered in protest of Columbus Day and the advancing construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. Several observers caught the incident on video and the Reno Police report an investigation is underway. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iX0Qvk7YbnU&feature=youtu.be The group of 40 protestors had gathered underneath the Reno Arch to take a photo on Monday evening when they were approached by the truck. Exchanges can be heard between the protestors and the driver, instructing him to “just go around” the group. Instead, the driver revs his engine and drives through the group, leaving several injured. One woman, named Kitty Colbert, is currently at the Renown Regional Medical Center, which described her condition as “serious.” Despite her injuries, she has posted to social media that she is “in good spirits.” Related: Actress Shailene Woodley arrested at a Dakota Access Pipeline protest After the driver drove through the crowd, he reportedly pulled down another street and called to inform the police of what happened, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal . The names of the driver and his passenger have not been released, but they have been identified as 18 and 17 years old, respectively. Quanah Brightman, executive director of United Native Americans Inc. , says the young man was “stalking” the group and asks that they be charged with a hate crime for targeting their group. So far, the police report both men are cooperating with the investigation and there is no mention of charges at this time. Yesterday, Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve issued a statement on behalf of the Reno City Council: “Public safety is our highest priority, and I want all Reno residents to know that we are working swiftly and diligently to make sense of the events that took place last night. Please be advised that the Reno Police Department will hold anyone responsible accountable for their actions once the investigation has concluded.” Via Grist , Reno Gazette-Journal Images via YouTube (screenshot)

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Man drives truck through crowd of protestors at the Dakota Access pipeline protest

Using Metals as Carbon Free Fuel Alternatives

January 22, 2016 by  
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Researchers are exploring the novel idea of using metals as fuels. This is not some new, exotic science-fiction material, but rather plentiful, ordinary metals such as iron that could be used in a novel way for storing and transporting renewable energy. According to a McGill University article, the research being led by Professor Jeffrey Bergthorson is proposing “a novel concept for using tiny metal particles – similar in size to fine flour or icing sugar – to power external-combustion engines.” Instead of using the chemical bonds with carbon, which are currently the basis of most fuels we presently use, metal powders could be used in a similar fashion and make use of energetic reactions to release energy when and where it is needed. The article describes the process: “Unlike the internal-combustion engines used in gasoline-powered cars, external-combustion engines use heat from an outside source to drive an engine. External-combustion engines, modern versions of the coal-fired steam locomotives that drove the industrial era, are widely used to generate power from nuclear, coal or biomass fuels in power stations.” We already speak of the “embodied energy” in a material as par of its overall sustainability profile. Materials that are energy intensive to produce, such as concrete and steel, are less preferable from a lifecycle perspective compared to a material like wood, which needs much less energy to gather and prepare. So the idea of using iron powder (or some other metal) as a fuel is not as impractical as it might seem at first. While we think of metal as non-combustible, fine metal can be burned (as anyone who has ever lit a piece of steel wool on fire can tell you). But transporting a load of iron dust is much less hazardous than loads of oil or liquified natural gas. Using metals as a fuel would require capturing the spent fuel in order to re-process it. Having clouds of rust floating in the air sounds like a dystopian future. But, in theory, processing the oxidized metal back into its pure state could be carried out repeatedly, re-using the same metal over and over. While the researchers are looking at all levels of energy use with this technology, from automotive uses on up, the idea of storing grid-scale energy or even transporting it from one location to another (refining metal near locations producing lots of energy, much the way aluminum processing presently takes place close to cheap electricity sources), and then transporting the metal to power plants for it to be burned to produce electricity. One potential drawback that probably requires further investigation is that metal is a much heavier substrate than carbon-based fuels are. If metal dust is to be used for transportation, how heavy is the fuel that needs to be carried for ordinary travel? But if existing combustion power plants could be adapted to use metal powder instead of coal or other fossil fuels, then much of the existing power generating infrastructure could be used, and power generation could continue to be in the same places it is now, using the same grid as is currently supplying electricity. Large scale power plants are also likely much easier to set up with the equipment necessary to do the capture of exhaust. via: Quirks and Quarks

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Using Metals as Carbon Free Fuel Alternatives

Radio Problems May Have Contributed to Deaths of 19 Firefighters During Yarnell Fire

October 1, 2013 by  
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A new investigation into the  raging fire that killed 19 elite firefighters in Arizona has revealed that some of the events which occurred may have been avoidable. Communication equipment problems resulted in 33 minutes of radio silence during which no one heard from the Granite Mountain Hotshots , and commanders didn’t make radio contact with them either. It was in this period of time that the crew left what was believed to be a safe spot on a ridge that had already been consumed by fire to seek another safe location , unknowingly walking to their own deaths in a basin thick with dry brush. Read the rest of Radio Problems May Have Contributed to Deaths of 19 Firefighters During Yarnell Fire Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Arizona , Communication Problems , Emergency Fire Shelter , firefighters , forest fire , Granite Mountain Hot Shots , Investigation , Radio Problems , Radio Silence , Yarnell Fire        

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Radio Problems May Have Contributed to Deaths of 19 Firefighters During Yarnell Fire

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