How Ocean Spray cranberries became America’s ‘100 percent sustainable’ crop

June 4, 2020 by  
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How Ocean Spray cranberries became America’s ‘100 percent sustainable’ crop Jesse Klein Thu, 06/04/2020 – 01:45 Cranberries are more than just an American Thanksgiving Day tradition; they also are a tradition of the American land. The crop is one of only three native cultivated fruits in North America. Because the plant is actually meant to grow in the natural environment, many growing and harvesting practices already help the surrounding land and could be considered sustainable, under normal conditions. The berry grows best in boggy, water-soaked soil that can’t be used for many other crops. And every one acre of cranberry bog requires 5.5 acres of wild marsh needed around it — a built-in wetlands preservation strategy.  “It’s a symbiotic relationship,” said Chris Ferzli, director of global corporate affairs and communications for Ocean Spray, the well-known agricultural co-operative, which generates annual revenue of about $2 billion. “The water in natural land supports the cranberry bog and in return, the cranberry bog enriches the soil that supports outside land.” Ocean Spray recently took advantage of the crop’s natural sustainability to become the first major food manufacturer in the United States to have its entire crop be certified “100 percent sustainable.” Specifically, the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform (SAI Platform) used its Farm Sustainability Assessment to verify that each organization within Ocean Spray’s 700-farm co-op is operating with regenerative agriculture in mind.  The water in natural land supports the cranberry bog and in return, the cranberry bog enriches the soil that supports outside land. SAI’s Farm Sustainability Assessment dives into 112 questions over 17 categories to evaluate a farm’s investment in sustainable practices. The questions range from the safety of workers to nuanced issues of greenhouse gas emissions, and they are categorized in three ways: “essential,” “basic” and “advanced.”  For example, one question — “Do you take measures to maximize energy use efficiency such as optimizing your farm equipment and optimizing electricity use?” — checks if farmers are reducing non-renewable sources of energy, avoiding forest degradation or conversion and optimizing farm equipment usage.  In order for the crop to be considered 100 percent sustainable, all of Ocean Spray’s farms had to score well for 100 percent of the 23 essential questions, at least 80 percent of the 60 basic questions and at least 50 percent of the 29 advanced questions.  A third-party auditor, SCS Global, verified each Ocean Spray farm’s answers.  “The biggest challenge was the gap in how we define things and how a certifying body might define things,” Ocean Spray farmer Nicole Hansen wrote in an email when asked to describe how tough the certification process was from the farmer’s point of view. “In the end, we are all talking the same language. Maybe just a different dialect.”  Hansen’s farm, Cranberry Creek Cranberries, joined the Ocean Spray co-op in the late 1990s and is one of the largest producers in Wisconsin. According to Ferzli, the adjustments the farmers had to make were few and mostly centered on upgrading technologies that made sense for the specific bogs.  There was such a strong sustainability mentality across the cooperative that making these few changes to verify this crop was worth it. For example, moisture probes help farmers conserve water by collecting real-time data and only watering when the soil dips below a certain limit instead of on a set schedule. Temperature monitors feed into smart systems and are able to more accurately measure temperatures at both the top and bottom of a cranberry bed than traditionally handheld thermometers.  When building new beds, laser levelers help ensure the bed is flat and even, so that floodwater moves efficiently during harvest season, keeping the amount needed at a minimum. Farmers also addressed irrigation systems and sprinklers that had unnecessary runoff, causing water waste.  While most of these changes were inexpensive, Ferzli said Ocean Spray does help its farmers apply for grants so they can put the most innovative and sustainable technologies in place, including the Baker-Polito Administration grant that awarded $991,837 to 21 cranberry growers in 2019, 15 of which are part of the Ocean Spray co-op. Another factor leading to Ocean Spray’s milestone was the structural history of the cranberry crop. Cranberries are already a very consolidated operation with almost all of the U.S.’s cranberries grown in Wisconsin or Massachusetts. In 2017 , Wisconsin produced 5.4 billion barrels and Massachusetts produced 1.9 million. Ocean Spray’s co-op makes up a large percentage of those farms. In fact, of the 414 cranberry growers in Massachusetts, 65 percent are part of the Ocean Spray family.  The coalition of cranberry growers and the administrative structure in place was vital. Ocean Spray growers already submit a farm assessment survey required by retail partners such as Walmart that covers the health and safety of their workers and renewable energy.  That meant the co-op had the structure to distribute the SAI Platform survey, collect the data, make adjustments and comply with an audit, making getting to 100 percent much more feasible and streamlined than if the structure weren’t already in place.  “The farmers wanted to do it,” Ferzli said. “There was such a strong sustainability mentality across the cooperative that making these few changes to verify this crop was worth it.” The verification applies to Ocean Spray’s agriculture program and operations for three years. The company plans to survey the farmers every year and continue the verification process every three years when it comes up for audit. Only then will we know if growing sustainably is sustainable for the business.   Pull Quote The water in natural land supports the cranberry bog and in return, the cranberry bog enriches the soil that supports outside land. There was such a strong sustainability mentality across the cooperative that making these few changes to verify this crop was worth it. Topics Food & Agriculture Food & Agriculture Sustainability Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off An Ocean Spray cranberry farm. Courtesy of Ocean Spray Close Authorship

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How Ocean Spray cranberries became America’s ‘100 percent sustainable’ crop

COVID-19 pandemic leads to plastic ban reversals

March 23, 2020 by  
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Health concerns are trumping environmental worries as U.S. states and cities reverse single-use plastic bans . As shoppers worry about catching germs from everything and everyone in grocery stores, and restaurants move from dine-in to take-out, bags and containers have become a big issue. Maine Governor Janet Mills announced on March 17 that the state will delay a single-use plastic bag ban that had been slated to start on April 22. “These emergency measures will support the state’s response to the coronavirus and mitigate its spread in Maine,” Mills told Plastic News . Brookline, Massachusetts has suspended its ban on polystyrene containers, and Nick Isgro, mayor of Waterville, Maine, wants to ban shoppers from bringing their own reusable bags. Related: Discarded face masks now threatening wildlife habitats “These reusable tote bags can sustain the COVID-19 and flu viruses — and spread the viruses throughout the store,” Isgro said on his Facebook page. “Be assured this is not to re-litigate our current ordinance. … This should be seen as a temporary public safety measure.” While some environmental organizations claim that properly washed reusable bags are as safe as disposable bags, experts warn that shoppers seldom follow hygienic protocol. A 2011 study by Loma Linda University and University of Arizona randomly collected bags from shoppers entering grocery stores in California and Arizona. They learned that consumers rarely, if ever, wash their bags. Almost all of the bags collected were covered in bacteria, including E. coli on 12% of bags. Those bags that had carried leaky packets of meat and were stored in car trunks for 2 hours had tenfold the bacterial growth. However, hand- or machine-washing can reduce bag bacteria by 99.9%. Since 2014, eight states — California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon and Vermont — have enacted some kind of single-use plastic bag ban. Polystyrene bans have also been on the rise. But COVID-19 could change all that. Via Plastics News , Forbes and Food Protection Trends Image via ToddTrumble

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COVID-19 pandemic leads to plastic ban reversals

Solar-powered Harvard ArtLab to meet net-zero energy targets

March 13, 2020 by  
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Harvard University  has added yet another sustainable building to its campus — the Harvard Artlab, a contemporary art space projected to meet net-zero energy targets. Designed by Berlin-based architecture studio Barkow Leibinger  in collaboration with Boston-based  Sasaki Associates , the 9,000-square-foot facility was created for students, teachers, visiting artists and the wider community. Rooftop photovoltaic panels power the building, which features a steel frame clad in transparent insulated glass and lightweight, high-insulating polycarbonate panels for easy assembly and disassembly. Located on Harvard University’s Allston campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Harvard Artlab is an  adaptable  space with a design that takes inspiration from its industrial surroundings. The boxy one-story building features a pinwheel-like plan centered on a common “Hub” space. A series of large sliding partitions can expand or close off the Hub to cultivate interactivity and enable a wide range of performances and exhibitions. The surrounding spaces house recording studios and sound-editing stations, as well as rooms for rehearsal, improvisation and other performances.  “The ArtLab encourages and expands participants’ engagement with interdisciplinary arts-practice research, serving as a collaborative activator for the school and the greater Allston and  Cambridge  neighborhoods,” explained the architects in a project statement. Like its industrial appearance suggests, the art space will serve as an incubator for producing and experimenting with different art forms.  Related: Harvard unveils Snøhetta-designed HouseZero for sustainable, plus-energy living Built to meet Massachusett’s high energy efficiency standards, the solar-powered Harvard Artlab was built using insulated glass and polycarbonate panels that range from transparent to translucent to opaque. The panels allow natural light to fill the building during the day while creating a glowing “lightbox” appearance at night. Since the building needed to be engineered for possible relocation in the future, the architects constructed the building with lightweight steel columns and open web steel trusses on a concrete slab on grade for easy and efficient disassembly.  + Barkow Leibinger Images by Iwan Baan

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Solar-powered Harvard ArtLab to meet net-zero energy targets

How to make a delicious vegan pie for Pi Day

March 13, 2020 by  
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Pie is delicious on any day, but Pi Day may be the impetus to bake — or at least eat — a pie. The annual celebration is named for the mathematical constant ? and observed on March 14, because ? is 3.14. In honor of Pi Day, Lisa Clark, owner of Petunia’s Pies & Pastries in Portland , Oregon shares some of her vegan pie baking tips with Inhabitat. This Pi Day is especially exciting for Clark, as it marks Petunia’s 10th anniversary. Inhabitat: What are the main differences between vegan and non-vegan pies? Clark: The main difference is just the fact that you don’t use butter for the pie dough. We use a blend of half soy -free Earth Balance and half organic shortening. We never use any of the hydrogenated stuff. Even the fillings are not too different: the fruit and a sweetener, which is usually just sugar, and citrus and something to thicken it, whether it’s organic corn starch or tapioca pearls. We do a lot of pies with streusel. We make that the same as traditional streusel but we use, again, the soy-free Earth Balance instead of butter. Related: 12 delicious and crowd-pleasing vegan brunch ideas Inhabitat: What about cream pies? Clark: That’s where it gets definitely a lot more challenging. We make coconut cream pies and chocolate cream pies, and we do key lime pie and banana cream. Depending on what the flavor is, we use a lot of coconut cream instead of regular dairy cream. We try not to use a ton of soy. A lot of people don’t tolerate it well, including myself, so we use a lot of coconut cream and nuts. We try to do some without nuts, because there’s a lot of nut allergies, too. When we make our chocolate cream pie, we use the Mori-Nu silken tofu with the coconut cream just to help the texture be a little more smooth and creamy like it would be traditionally. Automatically, that makes it super thick. Folding in the melted chocolate, it really stiffens up and sets in the fridge. We make coconut whipped cream instead of regular whipped cream for the tops of pies. Inhabitat: How do you make meringue without eggs? Clark: For the meringue, we use dehydrated aquafaba powder. We were using actual aquafaba from a can of chickpeas. But the problem with that is, what are we going to do with all these chickpeas? So there’s a product now that’s dehydrated aquafaba powder; you have to add a certain amount of water per tablespoon and mix it up. Then you cook it on the stove to reduce it down to a third of the volume. You take what’s left, and you whip that up with sugar, like if you were making a traditional meringue with egg whites and sugars. Inhabitat: What are the easiest pies to make? Clark: Definitely the fruit pies are the easiest. Berry pies are the easiest because there’s really no prep involved with the berries . Our most popular pie that we’ve made for the longest time is the bumbleberry peach pie. It’s a mix of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and peaches. We make a coconut hazelnut streusel for the top. ( See the recipe below! ) In the summertime, if people go berry picking, that’s the best time and the best way to make the most amazing pies with fresh, in-season berries. Other times of the year, it’s totally fine to use good frozen berries or even frozen peaches. Frozen fruit works fine, it’s just a little more temperamental with the baking time. There’s more moisture in the fruit because it’s frozen, so all that water is trapped in there. Inhabitat: Can you share any shortcuts you’ve learned over the years? Clark: Chill the fats and mix all your dry ingredients ahead of time. If there’s any fruit to prep, or the lemon zest, you want to do it in advance. I will sometimes measure out the sugar and any of the spices that are going in the filling in a little bowl and have that ready. You can make the streusel in advance and keep it in the fridge. I like to get all the steps of everything ready, so when I want to throw it together, it goes together much faster. Inhabitat: What is the most basic equipment somebody needs to make a pie? Clark: A pie plate and a rolling pin. At the very minimum, that’s what you need. Beyond that, if people have a handheld little pastry blender, that’s really helpful to make the streusel and the pie crust. But you don’t have to one. You can just cut it by hand. Beyond that, if people have a food processor for the crust and streusel, that makes it even faster. A zester for the lemon zest for the filling. A knife. But most people have a knife. And time. You just need some time, some patience. Inhabitat: Any pie mishaps you’re willing to share? Clark: Oh, yeah. I think the most common one would be just not baking the pies long enough. It’s always different. It depends on the weather , it depends on the oven, the flavor of the pie, how much moisture is in the fruit, how long you mix the dough. Sometimes, the crust can start to get too brown in the streusel, but the filling isn’t cooked. We actually bake a pie for the first half without the streusel and then we put the streusel on for the second half of baking to help with that. Every oven is so different. It depends on how thick your pie plate is, too. Like a deep dish or a more shallow pie plate, the baking times can vary so much. The only way to know when it’s really done is by seeing how the fruit bubbles up through the streusel or through the crust on top. It should be bubbling really slowly and look really thick and syrupy. If it just looks watery, like water bubbling out, it’s totally not done. Inhabitat: Any last words of advice for Inhabitat readers? Clark: The biggest advice I want to give people is not to be intimidated. I think when you read the steps, it can sound like a lot. But when you break it down and take one step at a time, it’s really not too bad. The more you do it and practice, it gets easier and easier. Pies are simple. It’s just a dough and a filling you have to sweeten and thicken. And you have to bake it. That’s really all it is. So just remember, it’s very simple and don’t overthink it too much; try to have fun. When people realize that, they tend to do a better job and not get so stressed about it working. As long as it tastes good, too, it doesn’t matter what it looks like. Be brave. Recipe for Bumble Berry Peach Pie with Coconut Hazelnut Streusel By Lisa Clark, Petunia’s Pies & Pastries Pie Crust 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon white rice flour 7 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons brown rice flour 7 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons tapioca flour 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons millet flour 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum 1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar 3/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup + 1 1/2 teaspoon Earth Balance spread, very chilled & cut into 1/4” pieces 1/4 cup + 1 1/2 teaspoon organic vegetable shortening, very chilled & cut into 1/4” pieces 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons ice cold water Filling In spring and summer, use fresh berries & peaches if possible. The rest of the year, frozen berries and peaches will work just fine. 1 1/2 cups raspberries 1 1/2 cups blueberries 1 1/2 cups blackberries or marionberries 3 1/2 cups sliced peaches 1 cup sugar 6 tablespoons organic cornstarch 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice Coconut Hazelnut Streusel 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned 1 cup coconut 1/4 cup millet flour 1/4 cup white rice flour 3 tablespoons brown rice flour 3 tablespoons tapioca flour 2/3 cup sugar 1/4 tsp salt 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 cup Earth Balance spread, chilled and cut into 1/4” pieces To make the crust, combine the flours, xanthan gum, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and mix well. Add the cold shortening pieces and the cold Earth Balance pieces, and blend with a handheld pastry blender until the fat pieces are in pea-sized clumps. Be careful not to overwork the fats into the dry ingredients. Drizzle the ice-cold water over this mixture and mix by hand until the dough comes together and forms a ball. Again, be careful not to overwork the dough. Flatten the dough into a disk about 1” thick and wrap in plastic. Chill for about 20 minutes. Remove the dough from the fridge and place on a lightly millet-floured non-stick baking mat or countertop. Roll the dough into an even circle, about 1/4” thick. Transfer to a pie plate. Press the dough into the pie plate and form nice fluted edges. Refrigerate the pie shell for 15 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. To make the filling, combine all of the fruit in a large bowl. Mix the cornstarch with the sugar and nutmeg. Sprinkle this mixture over the fruit and mix to evenly combine. Pour lemon juice over the fruit mixture and stir well. Let sit for about 15 minutes (about 25 minutes if you are using frozen fruit) to form juices. Pour mixture into chilled pie shell. Place pie on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 35 minutes (without the streusel). While the pie is baking, make the streusel. Combine hazelnuts, coconut, flours, sugar, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl and mix well. Add the cold Earth Balance and work it in by hand until the Earth Balance is in pea-sized clumps. Larger clumps are better than smaller for the streusel. Refrigerate until ready to use. Once the pie has baked for 35 minutes, carefully remove it from the oven and top evenly with streusel, covering all of the fruit. Bake about 35-40 minutes more. The streusel and crust should be golden brown. The pie is ready when you can see the juices bubbling out on the edges and it looks very thick and syrupy. If it appears watery, continue to bake. Let cool (at least 2-3 hours) so the pie can set a bit, then slice, serve and enjoy! + Petunia’s Pies & Pastries Images via Lisa Clark

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How to make a delicious vegan pie for Pi Day

Eco-friendly house uses only 19% of the energy it creates

January 27, 2020 by  
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Lexington, Massachusetts is known for its historical landmarks, but now the city is also home to a powerhouse of  energy-efficient design . Designed by Stephanie Horowitz of  Zero Energy Design,  the Lexington Modern Residence is a contemporary 4,400 square-foot home that not only generates its energy through solar power, but is strategically built to significantly reduce its overall energy consumption. In fact, the design is so efficient that the home only uses 19% of the energy it generates. The prolific team behind Zero Energy has long been recognized as a leader in  sustainable design . Not only do their projects maintain the highest standards in green architecture, but their signature modern aesthetics blend into nearly any environment. Related: Net-zero community planned for Hamburg will rely on geothermal and solar energy One of their latest designs, the Lexington Modern Residence, is a stunning example of how creating a sustainable home doesn’t mean sacrificing luxury. Completely powered by a 10kW rooftop  solar electric system , the home also boasts several energy-reducing strategies to create a highly insulated shell. For example, a high-performance building envelope and high-efficiency mechanical systems enable the home to consume only 19% of the energy it generates. The  layout of the family home  was intentionally created to make the most out of the landscape’s natural topography. Its sculptural volume is comprised of a series of cubed forms clad in various materials such as white stucco, wood siding and fiber cement panels. These exterior facades designate the use of the interior spaces found within. From the exterior, these areas are connected via open-air pathways, decks and patios. The interior of the four-bedroom home enjoys multiple strategic  passive features , as well as refreshingly modern interior design. The large open-space layout of the living area enjoys an abundance of natural light thanks to several triple-paned windows and a massive six by 16-foot Passive House (PHI) certified skylight. + Zero Energy Via Houzz Photography by Eric Roth Photography

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Eco-friendly house uses only 19% of the energy it creates

Good Clothing releases capsule collection made from hemp and organic cotton

October 3, 2019 by  
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Manufacturing is bad for the planet in general, and the textile industry is one of the leading producers of manufacturing pollution and waste . With this in mind, the Good Clothing Co. decided to implement old-school clothing production that is better for the Earth and a pleasure for the consumer. The Good Clothing Co.’s Good Apparel Capsule Collection is the most recent clothing line to come out of the Fall River, Massachusetts mill, an area connected to the textile industry since the 1800s. The company aims to live up to its name at every level, beginning with providing jobs within the United States in an industry that has been mostly moved overseas in recent decades. Related: 6 eco-friendly ways to incorporate hemp into your daily routine Rather than focusing on fast fashion to keep up with the trends of the season, Good Clothing Co. targets classic, multipurpose designs meant to be in a closet for the long-term, reducing the need to purchase a lot of clothes. In fact, the newest release is a capsule collection, meaning that the basics are interchangeable for endless attire options from the boat to the boardroom. The move to offer quality clothing that is versatile and long-lasting stems from the company’s goal to produce sustainable clothing . Made in small batches, Good Clothing Co. produces little waste compared to other mass-produced, consumed and promptly discarded clothing lines. To ensure quality, each piece is made in-house under the supervision of master tailor and founder Kathryn Hilderbrand. To further its dedication to creating sustainable clothing, the company sources materials locally as much as possible and selects earth-friendly materials such as organic cotton and hemp . Both products are made without herbicides and pesticides , toxins that can end up in our waterways. With a continued focus on the entire production cycle, from design to material selection to production to consumer use, Good Clothing Co. hopes to not only put the United States back on the map of the textile industry, but to have the country stand as a shining example of sustainable fashion . + Good Clothing Co. Photography by Shannan Grant Photography via Good Clothing Co.

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Good Clothing releases capsule collection made from hemp and organic cotton

Tesla solar panels now available to rent

August 23, 2019 by  
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If you’re looking to cut your electric bill by installing solar panels but are looking for an affordable option, Tesla may have the answer– rent them. Hoping to offer homeowners a better money-saving option by renting the streamlined panels, Tesla offers renters monthly payments, no installation costs, no long-term contracts and the ability to cancel monthly rental payments anytime. However, the company will charge a $1,500 fee to remove the system from your roof and return it to its original condition. Related: Chattanooga becomes first 100% solar-powered airport in US If customers were to sell their homes, Tesla offers a convenient contract transfer option that can be set up under the home’s new owner. The solar panel rental program is currently available to rent in six states: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New Mexico. The Tesla panels come in three sizes starting at a small 3.8 kilowatt solar panel at $50 per month which generates an average of 10 to 14 kilowatt hours of energy per day; a medium 7.6 kWh for $100 per month, generates between 19 to 28kWh per day; or the large 11.4kWh option for $150 per month producing 29 to 41kWh per day. Keep in mind that the average U.S. household uses about 28 kilowatt hours of electricity per day While Tesla expects the solar panel renting to be a big hit, energy experts say the company wants to give customers the chance to rent panels as way to boost its struggling solar business. Earlier this year the company reportedly cut its solar panel prices and also allowed customers to purchase residential systems in increments. +Tesla.com Via Yale Environment 360 Image via Tesla

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Tesla solar panels now available to rent

Tiks cuffs aim to break the plastic waste circle

July 18, 2019 by  
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Companies around the globe looking for ways to battle plastic waste are coming up with innovative ways to tackle the issue. Cape Clasp, based out of Falmouth, Massachusetts, is an example of a business putting the health of the ocean front and center with the release of Tikós— a line of bracelets made from recycled plastic . While each bracelet, or cuff, represents 100 plastic bottles removed from the ocean, the message goes well beyond simply recycling plastic. The leaders at Cape Clasp believe that education is a more powerful tool than recycling. After all, the only way we will ever solve the massive single-use plastic problem is to change the habits of those causing the issue in the first place. Related: Surfing trip leads to 4Ocean cleaning coastlines around the world “Creating a new market for ocean plastic will drive its removal, but that won’t be enough to protect marine life ,” says Patrick Clarke, founder of Cape Clasp. “No matter how much plastic we remove from the water, there will always be more flowing in unless we change our habits.” So while the company turns post-consumer plastic into products, diverting that waste from landfills , their mission is to change the behaviors that produce the plastic waste currently endangering marine animals. With that in mind, each cuff stands as a reminder to the wearer. Color coded to represent different challenges, consumers can choose one or collect them all. Blue : “Bring a Bag” reminds consumers to tote your own reusable shopping bag to help conserve natural resources like petroleum (plastic) and trees (paper), plus eliminate the plastic bags tumbling down the coastline. Black : “Skip the Straw” by either asking your server to hold it when you order or by bringing your own reusable straw. Plastic straws are one of the top waste materials clogging beaches and endangering ocean wildlife . Teal : “Keep the Cup” your morning coffee comes in and find a way to reuse it. Better yet, bring your own cup in for refills and skip the single use altogether. Tan : “Clean the Coast” with every trip to the beach . Bring along a garbage bag and pick up debris as you stroll, or think big and organize a beach clean up event. With a purpose-driven mission to clean up the ocean and protect the animals, Cape Clasp has joined forces with myriad similar-minded organizations to further their goal. Donating 15 percent of their profits, the company has raised over $35,000 in the past two years, which has helped fund partners working to protect the dolphins, whales, sea turtles, sharks and the Cape Cod coastline. + Cape Clasp Images via Cape Clasp

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Tiks cuffs aim to break the plastic waste circle

Kin Travel is offering unique vacation ideas that benefit destinations through conservation and sustainability

April 23, 2019 by  
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Traveling is becoming more and more convenient through the help of new technology, but sadly it doesn’t always bode well for places affected by over tourism and negative influences. Kin Travel began when founders Brian Jones and Mark Somen decided to give travelers a way to go on vacation while immersing themselves into the local culture and having a positive impact on their destinations. They strive to offer opportunities to rejuvenate communities and environments through travel , proving that visitors don’t have to disrupt their surroundings to enjoy themselves. One of the company’s most popular trips, located in Labadie, Haiti, includes volunteer work in reef restoration, hikes to UNESCO World Heritage sites, local school visits, bonfires with village elders and beach drum circles. The trip ranges from $2,400 to $4,000 for the six-day experience depending on accommodation type, but that rate includes everything but flights (that means transportation , experiences like yoga classes and photos, food, drinks and accommodation). The housing for the Haiti vacation is akin to glamping, equipped with a glamorous beach side yurt tent with memory foam mattress and furnishings made by local artists. Throughout the camp there are spots for dancing, yoga, fire pits and lounging, as well as a fully-equipped bathroom, bar and kitchen. Food is prepared by an accomplished chef who uses local ingredients for every meal. Kin partners with local companies in Haiti to help boost the economy and positively impact the community . Related: Fairmont canine ambassador program promotes human-animal connection Halfway across the globe in Kenya, Kin Travel leads safari trips in the Olderkesi Conservancy bordering the famous Maasai Mara National Reserve. Kin invests part of the profits into tree-planting, as well as the Cottars Wildlife Community Trust to support local entrepreneurial and educational opportunities for women. Accommodations for the Kenya trip include private bathrooms, a spa, pool and tented lounge area with a viewing deck. Apart from the typical safari activities like bush walks and Big Five game drives, participants also get to experience school visits, waterfall swims, massages, local markets, village visits and even an educational meeting with a reformed poacher. The camp is an accredited Global Ecosphere Retreat, chosen for its commitment to sustainability through conservation, community, culture and commerce. In Wyoming, Kin partnered with The Bentwood Inn, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World to create a winter wildlife safari on the corner of Grand Teton National Park and Elk Refuge. An uncommon spot for a typical American vacation, the town of Jackson Hole, where the trip takes place, represents one of the country’s largest income gaps. Kin focuses on serving underrepresented communities in the area while interacting with the people who best know how to serve the local environment . Along with a National Geographic photographer and local biologists, visitors will track animals such as wolves, bison, fox, bighorn sheep and elk through the unparalleled landscape . Travelers will also visit the Wildlife Art Museum, Vertical Harvest and Cultivate (a local organization that provides training and education to combat the local unemployment rate), while supplementing the trip with skiing adventures. In Wyoming, Kin Travel also works with One 22 providing language interpretation, emergency services and education to underrepresented communities and 1% for the Tetons, who contribute $1 million a year to local social and environmental projects. Beginning in August, the company is pairing up with non-profit IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) to curate a series of trips focusing on animal conservation in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Each weekend package for the Cape Cod trip will include immersive activities led by renowned scientists and explorers where travelers will dive into the non-profit’s work saving marine mammals (think tracking whales at sea and dolphin rescue training) and beach side experiences like bonfires, oyster shucking, bike riding and yoga. In addition to Provincetown, IFAW and Kin are planning future trip location opportunities as well. Prices range from $2,200 to $2,800 for the all-inclusive weekend. Accommodations will take place in The Salt House Inn, a restored 19th century cottage a few blocks from the beach , complete with an outdoor patio and dining room. The focus of the newly designed trip is to immerse participants into the IFAW Marine Mammal Rescue and Research work along the 700-mile southeastern Massachusetts coastline. Sadly, this area is known as having one of the highest rates of whale and dolphin strandings (beaching) on earth. IFAW is fighting back against strandings and sea life entanglement with the non-profit’s world-renowned rescue and prevention program made up of experts and highly-trained volunteers, all while conducting important research simultaneously. As a part of the Kin Travel group, attendees will participate in a marine conservation course led by these experts. With the growing popularity of mindful and sustainable travel increasing among jet-setters, the journeys offered by Kin Travel couldn’t have come at a better time. The company proves that travel organizations don’t have to sacrifice community and environmental awareness for life-changing experiences. + Kin Travel Images via IFAW, Kin Travel, Kimson doan, Montylov

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Kin Travel is offering unique vacation ideas that benefit destinations through conservation and sustainability

Bottle recycling in Oregon hits 90 percent record high

February 7, 2019 by  
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Oregon is seeing record-breaking recycling  rates for their progressive movement dating back to 1971. As the first state in the nation to initiate a bottle return bill, residents of the west coast state are long-accustomed to paying a bit more for their canned and bottled beverages. The idea is simple — pay a deposit when you purchase a six-pack and get that money back when you return the container to the store, but 48 years after the bill was introduced, the state is experiencing high recycling levels for the first time. The original bill, called the Oregon Bottle Bill, requires all beverage distributors, excepting alcohol, milk and a few other select beverages, to charge a minimum refundable amount on each container sold. From 1971 until 2017 that amount was five cents. So a six-pack of beer or soda would have cost 30 cents more at the store. That 30 cents was then refunded to the consumer when they took the cans back to the store. In 2017, the state supported a legislative increase to ten cents per container, with remarkable results. This change alone is credited with increasing return rates to 82 percent. The national average runs around 33 percent. While legislators likely would have directed policy towards the change eventually, the increase was triggered by a provision of state law enacted in 2011, which states that the increase must occur if return rates fall below 80 percent for two consecutive years. After 2014 clocked 68.3 percent and a 2015 return rate of 64.5 percent, 2016 got the ball rolling on the initiative. Related: Oregon initiates first modern statewide refillable glass bottle system in the US Since the recycling program’s initiation in Oregon, the state has seen promising results, especially in reductions of roadside waste and a dramatic increase in return rates. Reports state that at the time of the bill, bottles and cans were estimated to make up 40 percent of roadside waste. That estimate is now six percent. An even more impressive marker of success is the 2018 90 percent return rate. Put a different way, that represents two billion containers. Obviously the goal is to recycle every single recyclable bottle and can, not only to save on resources such as virgin aluminum, but to minimize waste. It’s easy to see that Oregon citizens have bought into the program with a 90 percent return rate. Oregon is known as a progressive state, especially when it comes to environmental issues, so it’s no surprise they’ve led the nation in this drive towards awareness of single-use containers and the importance of recycling. With this in mind, another major policy change contributed to the increase in recycling numbers. In January 2018, the bottle return policy expanded to include all plastic , aluminum and glass beverage containers such as energy drinks, juice, coffee, tea and others. To hit the 90 percent mark with all of those added containers is a testament to the efficiency of the system and dedication of Oregon’s consumers. The combination of the increased refund value, along with a wider variety of containers being accepted, is credited with a 35 percent increase in refund returns over just the last two years. While the legislation has remained relatively unchanged over the years, the process for returning bottles has evolved to accommodate those growing numbers. What once began as hand-counting returned containers later became automated, as return machines were installed in most major retail locations. The machines accept the different types of materials, read the barcode and keep an electronic tally of the return value. A printed slip is then taken to a cashier who exchanges it for cash. Many retailers in the state have pooled resources to initiate a centralized bottle return center known as BottleDrop. These return centers are located away from retail establishments, meaning that consumers have to make a special stop to return cans rather than being able to return them at the store where they shop. While it makes it somewhat less convenient, the fact that BottleDrop specializes in container returns means that the process is streamlined with hi-tech machines and staff available to help with any issues. Related: Hundreds of organisms hitch a ride from Japan to Oregon on waves of plastic trash Consumers have the option of feeding cans into the machine themselves or dropping them at the location and having staff count the cans for a small fee (around 40 cents per bag). Those that manually feed their cans receive a printed receipt. The receipt is then scanned into a nearby machine that dispenses payment. For those that choose to drop their bags, their account is credited after the cans and bottles are processed. The consumer can then cash out or even move those funds as a credit to a nearby participating retail grocery store . The convenience of this program has proved to be another valuable key in the success of the overall bottle return initiative. 2018 saw a 50 increase in BottleDrop accounts, needless to say, people are definitely taking advantage of it. With the high return rate and low waste rate, it seems shocking that the idea has not taken affect nationally. While most of Canada has now adopted the policy, only 11 states currently participate in a state- legislated bottle return plan. In addition to Oregon, those states are Vermont, Maine, Michigan, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, Delaware, California and Hawaii. Via KPTV Images via Shutterstock

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Bottle recycling in Oregon hits 90 percent record high

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