Warming in deepest parts of the Great Lakes could be irreversible

April 8, 2021 by  
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New research published in the journal  Nature Communications  shows that the deepest parts of the Great Lakes are warming up. While it has been known that global warming causes increased ice melting and rising ocean temperatures, little has been said about the impact of climate change on deep lake waters. The study found that the deepest parts of the Great Lakes have been seeing a steady increase in temperature over the past three decades. Researchers analyzed 30 years of data, including hourly temperature recordings in deep waters. The temperature readings at 500 feet below the water surface reveal a consistent increase. The researchers have established an average of 0.11°F temperature rise per decade in Lake Michigan’s deep waters. Further, winters in the region have become shorter over the period in question. Related: Nearly 1/3 of freshwater fish face extinction According to Eric Anderson, lead author of the study and a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, the changes in deep water temperatures are affecting biodiversity . Species like whitefish and yellow perch are already facing detrimental impacts from the warming waters. “We can already see declines in reproductive success in certain species that time up with the increases we see in water temperature,” Anderson explained. In lakes, there are seasonal flows where warm water comes to the surface and cold water is pushed down. It is through this process that oxygen and nutrients are released to deep lake fish and other creatures. According to Anderson, rising temperatures affect this water cycling and, as a result, disrupt the food web. The warming could have far-reaching consequences to the ecology and economy of the regions around the Great Lakes. Currently, the tourism and fishing industries here provide over 1.3 million jobs and are worth $82 billion in wages, much of which could be lost. Meanwhile, millions of people rely on the Great Lakes for drinking water, but warming can also cause an increase in toxic algal blooms. Unfortunately, the impacts on lake biodiversity and the economy of the region could be permanent. As Anderson explained, “Once we get past that point, we’ve affected things on an ecological level that aren’t necessarily reversible.” + Nature Communications Via Grist Image via David Mark

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Warming in deepest parts of the Great Lakes could be irreversible

Understanding NFTs and energy consumption

April 8, 2021 by  
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Non-fungible tokens (or NFTs) are the newest players in the cryptocurrency market, and their  environmental  impact may surprise you. What’s an NFT? Let me start by saying, I’m not a tech writer. I’m a sustainability writer. So, I’ll explain the best I can with the knowledge and tools I have.  At this point, you’ve probably heard about blockchain and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Ethereum is another cryptocurrency, and NFTs are part of its blockchain. In contrast to how Bitcoin, for example, can be traded like regular money, NFTs are assigned a unique ‘token’ that verifies one particular owner. It’s a little like the title of a car that shows the owner and the VIN of the vehicle. NFTs are non-fungible, which means they can’t be easily exchanged for a similar good in the way a bitcoin can be traded for another bitcoin. In this sense, it’s much like tangible art. If you own an original Rembrandt, you have unique ownership of the one-of-a-kind artwork. If you’ve seen recent headlines, digital artworks are the hot NFTs we’re talking about here. For example, according to  Christie’s Auction House , “EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS” by Beeple is the first purely digital work of art ever offered by a major auction house. It sold for $69.3 million. There are several other over-the-top examples of high-selling art in the digital realm. The bustling industry has flung open the door for emerging and established artists as another way to promote their work, especially when presented with the challenges of the pandemic.  So where does energy consumption come in? To get a sense of NFTs’  energy consumption , you’ll have to understand the process of how they’re bought and sold. Here’s a simplified version of how it all works. Let’s pretend you create a digital image of Snoopy dancing in the rain with an umbrella. To find your audience, you’ll need to get your work onto an online marketplace like OpenSea. Most of these sites use Ethereum, which verifies transactions through ‘mining.’ When an NFT is purchased, miners must compete to solve a block that results in your Snoopy artwork being the uniquely identifiable NFT the buyer wants. Miners are motivated to compete because the single person who solves the block first gets a commission for their work. All others who competed are out of luck, even though they consumed a huge amount of energy in their efforts.  How much energy? So, how much energy does this take? By current estimations, a single Ethereum transaction consumes 48.14 kWh. For comparison, that’s just over one and a half days of energy consumption within the standard U.S. household. Now, multiply that by thousands of transactions daily and you can see how NFTs’ energy consumption takes its toll. There are a few things to keep in mind here. As far as production and sales go, a single Ethereum transaction to purchase an NFT consumes less energy than making a t-shirt . Also, NFTs aren’t the only goods bought with Ethereum, so even if the art went elsewhere, there would still be transactions eating up energy. What may be more important to focus on is the impact of cryptocurrency in general. Some stats on Brightly.eco help bring this into focus explaining, “Bitcoin ‘mining’ already generates 38 million tons of CO2 per year, more than the carbon footprint of Slovakia .” Put in other terms, “The daily carbon footprint of Bitcoin is the equivalent of watching 57,000 hours of YouTube videos. And, its daily electricity usage is equivalent to the amount of power an average American household uses over the course of 25 days.” Shidan Gouran, co-founder of Gulf Pearl, a merchant bank in the blockchain sector, said one cryptocurrency transaction uses as much energy as more than 700,000 Visa transactions. To further illustrate his point, Gouran says, “Even if you take away carbon emissions, if we move Visa to the same system as Bitcoin, you would still heat the planet up by more than one-and-a-half degrees. Just the heat that the system would create would be unsustainable.” Possible changes ahead Now, here’s an important tidbit I skipped over earlier. The reason all the miners are competing for each transaction has to do with the way the system is set up. Currently, the ETH blockchain uses the competition-based “Proof of Work (PoW)” system, as explained above. But, there’s chatter about a move to a different system called, “Proof of Stake (PoS).” This system would randomly choose one person to solve the block, eliminating the competition and the copious energy consumed in the process. The result would be a  99% reduction  in energy consumed. Some are saying this new system could be implemented later this year or in 2022. There’s also the option to use a different chain besides Ethereum, then pick it back up when it’s moved to the PoS system. Furthermore, as more sources report on this energy consumption issue, some outlets are beginning to offer carbon offsets with each sale or purchase.  Via Brightly.eco , Loopify and Wired Images via Adobe Stock and Wikimedia Commons

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Meet the artists creating sustainable artwork for Nespresso’s flagship cafes

April 7, 2021 by  
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Nespresso’s parent company, Nestlé, has certainly come under fire for things like bottling water in  California during historic droughts  and sourcing water  near Flint, Michigan  in the past. While the company attempts to offset the environmental impact of its coffee business via a recycling program, Nespresso will also highlight sustainability through art. Nespresso is bringing together four artists from New York, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco to create sustainable works of art for its flagship cafes. The company has chosen an incredible group of local artists to showcase their work and inspire action. Pieces will be put on display in Nespresso cafe windows and will only use natural and/or sustainable materials. From  New York , sculpture artist and expert in reimagining discarded materials  Kim Markel  is creating a fully biodegradable and carbon-negative display. Markel’s award-winning “glow” collection uses reclaimed plastics to create functional objects like chairs and home decor with stunning sea glass-like translucent colors. Related: Psychedelic installation in NYC spotlights environmental issues with immersive art Tanya Aguiñiga  of  Los Angeles  is incorporating Nespresso’s coffee grounds into the boutique display, which will be the first work she and her studio partners have brought to life since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Raised in Tijuana, Mexico, Aguiñiga uses her artwork to inspire dialogues about identity, culture and gender, while also creating community. The artist’s style has helped museums and nonprofits throughout Mexico and the U.S. diversity their audiences. Miami -based  Morel Doucet  will be fusing his identity as a Haitian immigrant with his passions for environmental justice with a piece titled, “Paradise.” Doucet’s work focuses on ceramics, illustrations and prints to examine things like climate-gentrification, migration and displacement within Black diaspora communities. From  San Francisco ,  Joseph Alessio ‘s installation features Nespresso capsules and a variety of other recyclable items. The idea is to demonstrate the ability to create beautiful things while doing good work for the world at the same time. A typographic illustrator and animator, Alessio is also an accomplished art director and writer. Images via Nespresso

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Is your company a good company?

February 16, 2021 by  
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Is your company a good company? Suzanne Shelton Tue, 02/16/2021 – 00:05 Last year at this time, I wrote a piece with the exact same headline as this one. This time, I have some interesting new data and the beginnings of a framework to fill in the gaps. I’ve also got a sneak peek for you, from my presentation last week at GreenBiz 21. We’ll be publishing a full report with even more insights and ideas in April, but this deck will get you started. In our annual Eco Pulse study, we ask a battery of questions that get at how Americans perceive companies’ actions for people and the planet — what do people expect of the companies they buy from, and how do those expectations drive brand preferences and product purchases? This year, we fielded an additional study to ask some new, deeper questions and to create some forced-choice exercises so we could better understand what Americans really believe a Good Company is and why. Not at all surprising to the seasoned brand marketers reading this, great products and great customer service top the list of what makes a company good. Perhaps also not surprising, then, Amazon.com far and away tops the list of companies Americans name — unaided — when asked to identify a good company. ESG-related mentions round out the top three on the “what makes” list, so those are open-ended responses such as, “they treat their employees well… they give to the community… they care about the environment… they have good values.” But we should never confuse what makes someone like a company with what makes someone dislike a company. What do people expect of the companies they buy from, and how do those expectations drive brand preferences and product purchases? Facebook tops the list of examples of Bad Companies, followed by Walmart (which is also No. 2 on the Good Company list) and Wells Fargo. So, what gets a business on the Bad Company list? A bucket of ESG-related answers is most important — treating employees poorly, fraud/scandal/corruption, disagreement with their values or social stances, and generally being harmful to the environment. The blanket takeaway here is that your ESG actions are a fantastic tool for preventing disfavor and deselection. Secondarily, they are a solid tool to drive favorability — provided that you have great products and great customer service. There’s more to it than that, though, and while my GreenBiz deck and the report we’ll release in April get into a lot more detail, here are three key takeaways you should know: 1. Treating employees well earns you some Good Points (8 percent); treating employees poorly chalks up a lot more Bad Points (14 percent). We’ve seen this theme for years, but it intensified as a result of COVID-19. If the word gets around that you don’t treat your people well, it will taint everything else you’re doing right. So to all the sustainability professionals reading this: yes, measure and manage your GHG emissions diligently but also measure and manage employee sentiment and work across your organization to ensure they’re being taken care of. As we all know all too well, intangibles make up 90 percent of a company’s value — and good will is one of the main intangibles. Walmart is the best example of this scenario. Most of us know the amazing leadership role it has taken in moving sustainability forward. Some may argue with me, but I wholeheartedly believe the consumer packaged goods industry wouldn’t be as far along on reducing its environmental impacts if not for Walmart insisting that it happen. Walmart was more often listed as a good company (235 mentions) than a bad company (162 mentions), but it was No. 2 on both lists. The top reasons for Walmart being named as a Good Company were price, variety and customer service, while the top reasons for Walmart being named as a Bad Company were treating employees poorly, followed distantly by bad service and poor quality/cheap. Very few people chose Walmart for its social/environmental record (less than 10). Walmart has made great strides in the last few years regarding its employees, but the stigma from the past sticks to this day. So, bottom line, if you get labeled as a company that doesn’t treat its employees well, it’s really hard to shake. 2. Taking a societal stand/displaying your values buys you a few Good Points (4 percent); taking a stand/displaying values that Americans don’t agree with gets you far more Bad Points (9 percent). This one is interesting, and Nike is a really good example. They came in at No. 5 on both the Good Company list and the Bad Company list for exactly the reasons you would expect, based on another question we ask: Name a company whose products you’ve chosen — or not chosen — because of the manufacturer’s environmental or social record. Nike came in No. 2 on the list of companies chosen because of its eco/social record and No. 1 on the list of brands not chosen because of its eco/social record. A lot has been written about Nike’s bold decision to back Colin Kaepernick, but my favorite — and the most relevant point to what we’re discussing here — comes from Jerry Davis, a University of Michigan Business School professor: “It turns out Democrats buy a lot more sneakers than Republicans. The demo that is willing to spend $200 on Nike sneakers is not the demo that’s going to boycott them because of Kaepernick.” Although the Kaepernick decision happened in 2018, in 2020, Nike was still reaping the benefits of the campaign in both brand reputation and sales numbers, despite continued criticism from some camps. A Harris poll pegged Nike’s overall reputation at a 54 percent positive ranking, up six points from 2018. The company’s value was reportedly up $26.2 billion as well. 3. Giving to communities and charities earns you a lot of Good Points (12 percent total); not giving to communities and charities doesn’t actually cost you any points. When we asked Americans what makes a company good, we heard community/charitable-giving kinds of answers from 12 percent of Americans. When we asked what makes a company bad, nobody said, “They don’t give to charity or the community.” Target is a really good example on this front. The company comes in as the fourth-most popular unaided answer on two questions: Name a Good Company; and tell us the brand or product you’ve chosen because of the manufacturer’s social or environmental record. Reasons why Target is named as a Good Company are price, products, customer service and variety. Being community-focused came in as the sixth-most cited reason it’s a good company. And while it wasn’t a top answer for the second question — a brand chosen for its social or environmental record 6 percent — everyone who chose it cited community involvement/giving as a reason. There’s a lot more here, including a framework for how companies should think about all of this and apply it to their commitment-setting and storytelling. So download the GreenBiz deck and stay tuned for the full report coming out in April. Pull Quote What do people expect of the companies they buy from, and how do those expectations drive brand preferences and product purchases? Topics Consumer Trends Collective Insight Speaking Sustainably Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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Restaurant furniture company launches sustainable brand for residential kitchens

January 28, 2021 by  
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Grand Rapids Chair Co., a company based out of Michigan that has specialized in restaurant furniture for 20 years, has launched a new, sustainable brand for residential kitchens called Only Good Things. The brand will focus on consumers by offering high-quality furniture meant for kitchens and dining areas made using sustainably harvested wood from northeastern American forests and U.S.-sourced steel . The line of chairs, stools, tables and outdoor pieces is meant to be a solution to family kitchens that may have become strained during the pandemic lockdowns.  Each piece of furniture is made to order. In addition to a composition of responsibly harvested wood and American steel, the furnishings are also finished using an antimicrobial, commercial-grade topcoat, similar to what you would find inside a restaurant . The topcoat can withstand even the toughest stains, including things like mustard and wine, making pieces especially durable. Families who may have had to reevaluate their home spaces, turning kitchen tables into classrooms or home offices for example, will certainly serve to benefit from this added versatility and resilience. Related: Serif + Sero modular furniture is made of 100% upcycled cardboard “Twenty years ago with Grand Rapids Chair Co., we set out to create a brand centered around high quality, high design, and accessible pieces,” said Dean Jeffery, creative director at Only Good Things. “Today, we’re bringing that same passion to the residential market. These pieces aren’t just aesthetically pleasing, they are tested to strict durability standards that most other brands ignore, making them an investment people can be proud of.” Each piece will be tested to BIFMA standards, a certification program for contract furniture that ensures a stringent set of quality, performance and sustainability benchmarks created by the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association. Style-wise, Only Good Things furniture is light and contemporary with strong lines, modern shapes and soft seating. The long-term pieces are designed to play well with a wide range of home décor and compliment anything from classic to midcentury to minimalist aesthetics. All furniture is made in the United States with a two-week lead time. + Only Good Things Images via Only Good Things

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Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies

January 6, 2021 by  
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Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 01/06/2021 – 00:30 One of the big things I’m thinking about to kick off 2021 is how electric vehicles will be entwined with a U.S. recovery. Even before Joe Biden has formalized any green stimulus plans, the EV industry in the U.S. is showing important indicators that it will see solid growth this year — and that means jobs. New industry jobs. Electric jobs. Climate jobs.  Recently I chatted with the CEO and founder of Lion Electric , an electric bus and truck maker based in Saint-Jerome, Quebec. Marc Bedard founded the company 12 years ago — after working at a diesel school bus company in the 1990’s — with the goals of eliminating diesel engines for school buses and diesel fumes from the air that school kids breathe.  Lion got its start making electric school buses and has delivered major orders to the Twin Rivers Unified School District in Sacramento, California, and White Plains School District in White Plains, New York. More recently it unveiled an electric delivery truck and scored orders with Amazon and Canadian logistics provider CN.  While Lion Electric already has a factory in Montreal that can make 2,500 e-buses and trucks a year, the company tells GreenBiz it plans to expand into the U.S. by buying and converting an American factory that could be large enough to make 20,000 vehicles a year. Lion will unveil more details about where exactly that factory could be in the coming weeks, although vehicle production there probably won’t start for a couple of years. The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. Lion isn’t the only EV truck maker eying expansion into the U.S. market. Arrival — a London-based EV truck maker with a 10,000-EV deal with UPS —  plans to invest $43 million into its first U.S. factory in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The factory is expected to produce 240 jobs, with operations to start in the second quarter of 2021. The company’s U.S. headquarters will be in nearby Charlotte, North Carolina. In addition to Arrival and Lion, a handful of other independent U.S. EV makers have emerged in recent years to tap into the growing American electric truck market, including Lordstown Motors , Hyliion , XL Fleet , Rivian, Nikola and Lightning eMotors. All of these companies recently have raised hundreds of millions of dollars and gone public by merging with “blank check” companies, or Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (also called SPACs).  Although the financial tool is a bit speculative in nature — the SPAC process is far quicker and less rigorous than going public via a traditional initial public offering — it turns out that SPACs, strangely enough, could help create thousands, if not tens of thousands, American EV industry jobs. Hopefully, most of those will end up being long-term, stable jobs.  And those are just the latest jobs from the newest players. Ford is developing an all-electric cargo van at a Kansas City plant that will create 150 jobs this year. That’s on top of the hundreds of other new EV jobs created by Ford’s new electric vehicle lines, the electric F-150 and the Mustang Mach-E. Likewise, Daimler Trucks North America has been converting and expanding its factory to make electric trucks at its Swan Island headquarters in North Portland, Oregon. The new EV jobs couldn’t come at a better time. Thanks to the pandemic, 2020 saw historic American unemployment rates peaking in April and recovering to just 6.7 percent unemployment as of November. But with a slow vaccine rollout and surging infection rates, prolonged long-term high unemployment rates are expected. Clean energy jobs have been equally hit hard, with about a half-million clean energy workers left unemployed by the pandemic this year.  Despite not knowing what Biden’s green stimulus will look like, the administration already has signaled that the automakers could be a big part of a recovery. Biden selected former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as his energy department secretary. Granholm worked closely with the Obama administration and the auto industry throughout the green stimulus program following the 2008 financial crisis.  The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. And these are just jobs from the vehicle manufacturers.  Equally strong job growth is expected for EV infrastructure providers riding the same electric wave and could get even more of a boost from a green infrastructure stimulus. A federal government stimulus also could inject funding and jobs into a growing domestic EV battery production sector.  In what is expected to be another dark couple of quarters for employment in 2021, look to EV jobs to offer a bright spot.  Sign up for Katie Fehrenbacher’s newsletter, Transport Weekly, at this link . Follow her on Twitter. Pull Quote The expected rise of EV jobs across new and established automakers offers a spark of good news amidst expected anemic job growth for the first half of the year. Topics Transportation & Mobility Jobs & Careers Electric Vehicles Electric Bus Electric School Buses Electric Trucks Featured Column Driving Change Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Big in 2021: American jobs created by EV companies

Biden chooses his climate team here are the nominees

December 18, 2020 by  
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As president-elect Joe Biden continues to pick his Cabinet and agency heads, eco-conscious Americans watch to see what his choices will mean for the climate crisis. So far, it looks like Biden is surrounding himself with a strong climate team consistent with his top priority of quickly reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. On Wednesday, Biden named former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary. Auto workers, energy lobbyists and environmental groups supported this choice. “ Transportation is an issue that touches all Americans — urban, rural, coastal and in the heartland of our nation,” said Chris Spear , American Trucking Associations President and CEO. “Having served as a mayor, Pete Buttigieg has had an up close and personal look at how our infrastructure problems are impacting Americans, and how important it is to solve them.” Related: Biden promises US-led climate summit in 2021 Buttigieg also comes into the position with a plan that he developed during his time as a presidential contender. The plan, which he presented back in January, included $165 billion for the Highway Trust Fund to fix and update bridges and roads and create more union jobs. He championed electric vehicles and suggested dispersing $6 billion in loans and grants to cities and states for funding charging station networks. Biden has nominated former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm for energy secretary, and he said he will appoint former Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy to lead domestic climate efforts. The Energy Department is in charge of regulating utility companies. Granholm has a good record on clean energy and has worked closely with chemical and energy firms in the past. As Michigan’s governor, she encouraged the increased manufacturing of electric vehicles. McCarthy was head of the EPA under President Barack Obama. She had a strong record of making rules to oppose climate change. Her new position would be coordinating and overseeing a federal interagency approach to climate issues. She is currently the president and CEO of NRDC . On Thursday, Biden nominated Michael Regan to lead the EPA. Regan began working as North Carolina’s environmental chief in 2017, and during this time, he focused on environmental justice. He has spent years helping low-income communities that were the most impacted by industrial pollution. Biden also announced his nomination of Deb Haaland, who would be the first Native American to lead the Department of the Interior. If confirmed, she will oversee the management of public lands as well as the protection and honoring of Indigenous communities. In a statement, the Biden-Harris transition team said Haaland will be “ready on day one to protect our environment and fight for a clean energy future.” Via Washington Post , AP and NPR Image via René DeAnda

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Hungary announces preemptive ban on fur farms

December 2, 2020 by  
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Hungary’s ministerial commissioner of animal protection, Péter Óvári, announced this week that farming mink, foxes, ferrets and coypu will not be allowed in the country. These animals are not currently farmed there. But now that millions of mink have been slaughtered in other European countries due to COVID-19 concerns, Hungarian officials worried that fur farmers might try to move their operations to Hungary . “This is a precautionary measure that shuts the door to that happening, and that is a good outcome for human health and animal welfare ,” said Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International (HSI) Europe, as reported by VegNews . Related: Denmark’s top fur cooperative is closing The COVID-19 virus has spread between animals on mink farms in some European countries, including Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Greece and Italy. Infected minks have been identified in at least 15 U.S. farms in Wisconsin, Michigan and Utah. Denmark and the Netherlands have slaughtered millions of mink to stop the spread of zoonotic disease . Health experts worry that the virus could mutate in the animals, which could spell disaster for vaccine development. The strange thing about Hungary’s decision is that while local farmers don’t raise mink, foxes, ferrets or coypu (aka nutria), they do raise chinchillas for fur and plan to continue doing so. “For as long as the animal exploitation of fur farming is tolerated, the potential for reservoirs of animal to human pathogens will persist,” Swabe said, “and so HSI hopes that the Hungarian government will also consider strengthening its ban by shutting down the country’s chinchilla fur farms too, and make fur farming history in Hungary.” Chinchillas are native to South America, but their extremely soft, luxurious fur has made them susceptible to international fur farmers who want to turn the sensitive, nocturnal creatures into coats and cash. A company called Wanger is responsible for much of the fur farming across southeast Europe, including in Hungary, Serbia and Bosnia. Activists have used the hashtag #stopwanger when protesting this company. Via VegNews , Respect for Animals Image via Jo-Anne McArthur

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Former Walmart exec brings ride-share technology to fresh produce transport

October 27, 2020 by  
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Former Walmart exec brings ride-share technology to fresh produce transport Jesse Klein Tue, 10/27/2020 – 01:00 Hwy Haul co-founder and CEO Syed Aman knows fresh produce is the future of grocery stores. It’s one of the few categories that still drives shoppers to buy in-store. But some points in the supply chain for fresh produce are still stuck in the dark ages. Using his experience at Walmart, Aman is dragging trucking into the digital age with the added bonus of reducing food waste and eliminating unnecessary transportation emissions.  The trucking industry is fragmented and driven by individual relationships, according to Aman. Hwy Haul is trying to unite every stakeholder — shipper, trucker and retailer — in one place. Hwy Haul’s app digitally connects growers with fresh produce to truckers who can deliver the loads to buyers around the country. According to Max Gorobets, associate director of transportation for Lakeside Produce , one of Hwy Haul’s clients, before the app, would have to get on the phone to call each trucking company to find a truck and a driver to pick up and deliver his load. Lakeside Produce delivers 12 million cases of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers to large grocery stores in Canada every year, usually dealing with regional trucking companies. “You spend a lot of time and effort and money to get it done manually,” he said. Now Gorobets enters his load’s origin and destination information into the Hwy Haul app, and drivers on the other end can decide to accept it. Gorobets’ story reminds me of my own transition from yellow cabs to the Uber and Lyft ride-sharing services. Hwy Haul is used by thousands of carriers across North America, and it earns a commission on every load. The San Francisco-based startup has raised $3.3 million in seed funding. According to its website , investors and advisers include partners and CEOs at August Capital, Freshworks and Nutanix. But convenience isn’t the main driver modernizing the trucking industry. Aman hopes his platform will help with transportation-related sustainability commitments by reducing the number of empty miles driven by trucks and the amount of food waste. Technology working to reducing empty mileage  In the trucking sector, anywhere between 20 and 30 percent of miles are driven by empty freights, according to industry research. Sometimes, trucks drive 300 miles just to pick up a load. Those emissions add up. Hwy Haul has reduced empty mileage by 80 percent compared to industry standards by using data science, AI and algorithms, Aman said.  Gorobets described a time he was short a driver in California on a Saturday night. He needed a truck within the hour to make it on time for his delivery in Michigan or he would have lost the produce to a different retailer. Gorobets was in Leamington, Ontario, trying to figure out a truck for a load in San Francisco, not usually an easy task. “With Hwy Haul, I posted the load and within half an hour, I had a driver in the area ready for pick-up,” he said.   Without Hwy Haul, Gorobets would have called every carrier in California and might have been able to connect only with a driver a few hundred miles away. He would have had to settle for those empty miles, and the planet would have had to suck in CO2 from an unnecessary and unproductive drive.  21st-century monitoring could eliminate waste Aman’s key metric of success, however, is reducing rejections and therefore reducing food waste. According to him, produce spends half its shelf life on a truck.  “Produce is a very time-sensitive commodity,” he said.  That means having eyes on the produce at all times during the route. Hwy Haul uses sensors to monitor metrics such as temperature and location that are uploaded in real-time to its portal.  “One of the biggest problems of this industry is visibility and transparency,” he said. “Everyone is anxious about what’s happening to their load.” Shippers can log into the portal to see what is happening to their products and where a shipment is along the trip instead of hassling the truck driver over email, phone or text. According to Aman, an average of 14 percent of loads are rejected by the retailer once they make it to the destination because of spoilage and damage en route. If there’s one metric he hopes to get down to negligible, it’s that one. So far, Hwy Haul has reduced rejections by 90 percent compared to industry standards, he estimated.  “If the food gets rejected, we are working on certain programs to be routed to a nearby food bank or wholesalers rather than crashing into the dumpster,” Aman said. Topics Transportation & Mobility Food Systems Supply Chain Food Waste Transportation Supply Chain Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Hwy Haul connects truckers and shippers through a digital platform for convenience and sustainability improvements.  Courtesy of Hwy Haul Close Authorship

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Parsing Panera’s plan to nudge consumers toward low-carbon meals

October 23, 2020 by  
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Parsing Panera’s plan to nudge consumers toward low-carbon meals Jim Giles Fri, 10/23/2020 – 01:00 Something changed recently in America’s fast-casual restaurants. It involved only a single company, but it could herald the start of a fundamental shift in the choices that diners make. I’ll get to what happened in a minute, but first take a step back and consider the information available when you buy food. At the grocery store, you’re bombarded with labels: organic and its new extension, regenerative organic; various competing fair trade standards; certifications relating to animal health and so on. Notice that these widely used labels tell you nothing about the climate change impact of your choices. If you’re eating out, you might find calorie information on menus and, typically at more boutique restaurants, notes on where ingredients were sourced from. Again, you’re unlikely to see anything relating to climate. This matters, because the greenhouse gas emissions generated by different kinds of food vary widely. Here’s a useful summary, courtesy of the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan: The reluctance of brands to use climate labels may be partly because it isn’t clear what consumers would do with emissions information. In 2007, for instance, PepsiCo added a label to its Walkers potato chips noting that each bag generated 80 grams of carbon dioxide . A few years later, the label was gone. “With consumers not having enough points of comparison to make the label a useful tool at the time, it was discontinued,” a PepsiCo spokesperson told me. There’s been little progress since, but 2020 looks to be the year when things started to change. In June, Unilever announced ambitious plans to attach carbon labels to its products . Now restaurants are acting, too. The change I referred to earlier is happening at Panera Bread, where many menu items now have a “Cool Food” badge attached to them.  The label, developed by the World Resources Institute , indicates that the emissions generated by the item are in line with the institute’s recommended dietary carbon footprint. This is 38 percent smaller than the U.S. average, a cut that WRI research has found is needed by 2030 to help avoid the worst impacts of climate change. There are two reasons why I think this could be the start of something meaningful. First, the Panera Bread brand isn’t built around environmental values, as you might expect from an early mover in this space. Panera and the WRI seem to have recognized this by making it easy for consumers to make low-carbon choices. Contrast that with the Walkers experiment: PepsiCo deserves credit for being ahead of its time, but the information consumers saw on the chips — 80 grams of carbon dioxide — wasn’t meaningful to anyone aside from climate experts. (For experts and anyone else who wants more details on what qualifies as a Cool Food Meal, Panera has provided a breakdown of emissions associated with each menu item .) It’s also critical that Panera is not going it alone. The badge is based on extensive WRI research and builds on work that the institute has been doing with foodservice operators. The hope is that other restaurants will adopt the badge, making it easier for people to find climate-friendly options whenever they eat out. One quick aside before sign off. I described Panera as an early adopter, but the first mover here might be the Just Salad chain, which introduced carbon labels last month . After I mentioned the Panera announcement a couple of weeks back, Just Salad emailed to argue that items on its menu generate less carbon than comparable offerings at Panera. I’d like to dig into this in the future, but for now, I’ll just note that it’s awesome to see chains competing on carbon.  Topics Food & Agriculture Food & Agriculture Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock Quality HD Close Authorship

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Parsing Panera’s plan to nudge consumers toward low-carbon meals

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