Heated plastic baby bottles release millions of microplastics in formula

October 21, 2020 by  
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A new study published in the journal Nature Food has revealed that babies around the world are consuming over 1.5 million microplastics each day. According to the study, microplastics are released in large quantities in baby plastic bottles, especially when the bottles are heated. But heating formula in the bottle is standard practice in preparing formula, and a majority of bottles on the market are plastic. While the study has proven beyond doubt that plastic bottles are releasing microplastics, the researchers said that there is no need for alarm yet. According to Philipp Schwabl, a researcher at the Medical University of Vienna who has also researched microplastics, parents should not be worried until more information is available. According to a report released by the World Health Organization last year, there is not sufficient evidence to show that microplastics are harmful to humans . Related: New study finds microplastics in fruits and vegetables “At the moment, there is no need to be afraid,” Schwabl said. “But it is an open question and definitely an unmet [research] need.” The study authors found that about 82% of all baby bottles sold globally are made out of polypropylene. Researchers reviewed 10 types of plastic baby bottles. When they were used to prepare infant formula, it was revealed that all 10 bottles released microplastics and nanoplastics. The infant formula was prepared according to the World Health Organization guidelines, which state that powdered formula should be mixed with water heated to about 158°F. The researchers concluded that the release of microplastics is heat-sensitive. “What’s happening is that there’s an interaction between the [plastic] polymer and the water. It’s almost like flaking of the surface of the actual plastic itself,” said John Boland, a professor of chemistry and materials science researcher at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland and one of the authors of the study. At the temperature of 158°F, most bottles released between 1 million and 16 million microplastics per liter. Further, the bottles also released millions of nanoplastics. The researchers said that more research needs to be done and more data collected to determine the exact effect of these plastic particles on babies and adults. + Nature Food Via NPR Image via Tung256

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Heated plastic baby bottles release millions of microplastics in formula

Oil companies use cooling technology to continue Arctic drilling

October 21, 2020 by  
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Big oil companies are now turning to technology to protect their business from the effects of climate change. Companies that have been exploring the Arctic for oil drilling are now fighting with the effects of thawing and unstable permafrost. However, even the impacts on their infrastructure are not enough to stop these companies from exploring further. While they might have to pay more to steady their infrastructure, many fossil fuel companies are now developing and using technology to keep permafrost from melting in order to continue drilling. ConocoPhillips is one of the leading oil companies exploring for oil in the Arctic. The company developed special technology that would prevent permafrost — upon which its infrastructure is anchored — from melting. With plans to pump 160,000 more barrels of crude oil daily from its new project in Alaska’s North Slope, the company had to find a way of retaining its resources in the fast-melting region. So ConocoPhillips developed devices that will cool the ground beneath its structures . Related: Arctic permafrost already thawing at a rate not expected until 2090 Many would expect that due to the visible effects of climate change in the Arctic, the government would bar oil companies from further drilling. However, the Trump administration has made it even easier for oil corporations to expand into protected regions. While other countries are also advancing oil exploration in the region, the U.S. has gone so far as to finalize plans to open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. The plans include allowing companies to operate at Teshekpuk Lake, a unique and important habitat that is also used by local Indigenous communities for fishing and hunting. While the U.S. government is promoting oil exploration in the Arctic, those who rely on these natural ecosystems are already feeling the pain of climate change. Last year, fishing crews in Utqiagvik had to wait several weeks longer than usual for the arrival of bowhead whales due to rising temperatures. Given that the community relies on the whales for their diet, continued exploration may mean that the locals will face food scarcity in the future. As locals struggle to deal with the changes caused by greenhouse gases , oil companies are changing their tactics to be able to continue drilling, which only worsens climate change and its detrimental impacts on the Arctic. Via The Guardian Image via Florence D.

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Oil companies use cooling technology to continue Arctic drilling

September is Coastal Cleanup Month with a new look for 2020

September 15, 2020 by  
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Beach and coastline cleanups have been a focus of many caring citizens and environmental groups for decades. The most-publicized beach cleanup effort, Coastal Cleanup Day, is typically slotted for a day in September. This year, the event has expanded into an entire month with the goal of involving more people at every level and from every community — not just those near the beach. According to Surfrider Foundation , “International Coastal Cleanup Month (formerly International Coastal Cleanup Day) is one of the world’s largest annual preservation and protection events and volunteer efforts for our ocean, waves and beaches.” Register your own coastal cleanup — wherever that may be One conservation organization, Heal the Bay in Los Angeles County, serves as an example of this campaign by helping citizens coordinate their own cleanup efforts with a centralized registration system. As residents register events, other volunteers can join the effort to coordinate larger cleanup activities. Related: Atlantic has 10 times the microplastics previously thought The centralized information also allows organizers to track the amount and types of garbage removed. Knowing what has been collected is an effective way to identify the source of the pollution and provide data for policymakers. Save Our Shores recommends downloading the Clean Swell App to keep track of the items in your trash pile. “Data collection is an important part of Coastal Cleanup Day,” Save Our Shores explained. “The data that is collected about the types and quantities of debris picked up can be used for outreach, policy and advocacy, and more!” Further, the organization suggests that one member of the cleanup party be in charge of data collection to reduce the spread of germs. Safety tips for your beach cleanup To support community efforts, Heal the Bay provides tutorials and tips for safe and effective cleanups with information on how to dispose of collected trash and abide by LA County Public Health guidelines along with details regarding supplies and parking. Each region has varying needs, so participants can access specific information for their neighborhood. During this time of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the organization encourages social distancing during cleanups as well as the use of masks and gloves. Participants should only work with members of their own household and stay home if they feel ill. If you are in an area impacted by the ongoing wildfires, Heal the Bay advises you to also stay home to minimize your exposure to the smoke. Why is Coastal Cleanup Month important? The primary goal of Coastal Clean Up Month is to reduce the amount of debris that ends up in the waterways, including the ocean. Ocean pollution, particularly plastic from inland as well as boating activities, has become a massive environmental issue in recent years. The cycle is toxic. Animals are harmed by items like six-pack rings and plastic bags. Plastic in the waterways begins to break down into microplastics, which marine animals ingest. This comes full circle as seafood that may contain microplastics lands onto our dinner plates. In addition to waste removal, a secondary goal is to educate communities about the hazards of ocean pollution and share the importance of marine life and aquatic biodiversity. In addition, the event promotes more sustainable activities such as recycling and minimizing waste. Make a difference one small step at a time To support these educational efforts, Heal the Bay maintains five programs that, “allow citizens to explore and learn about the various issues facing the diverse regions that make up Los Angeles.” Volunteers can facilitate touch tank visits at the aquarium, participate in a beach cleanup , spread information through the outreach program, contribute to community science by collecting data or register middle and high school students as part of the youth program. The coordination in Los Angeles is just a sampling of similar events across the nation and around the world. In fact, Coastal Cleanup Month is a global movement that includes 6 million volunteers in 90 countries. Even though the efforts are widespread, coronavirus restrictions have resulted in several canceled events and made it difficult for organizers of various organizations to spotlight the effort this year. With that in mind, the push is for more of a grassroots coordination of many small groups rather than fewer large ones.  Related: How to volunteer during COVID-19 That means the entire month of September is prime time to get out and lead your own cleanup crew, whether that’s a party of one or up to 10 people within the same household. With 30 years behind this organized beach cleanup movement, organizers report disappointment in not being able to host large events. However, they say this is an opportunity for every citizen to tackle the garbage in their own area, whether that be the street, park, mountain, sides of the roadway or parking lot. Although that may feel a little off-point, the majority of the garbage that ends up in the ocean stems from further inland, so you can think of it as confronting the problem at the source. While it might seem that a neighborhood pickup isn’t enough, individual efforts make a huge impact. As an example, Heal the Bay provides inspiration in the fact that, “In 2019, the Ocean Conservancy reports that nearly 800,000 volunteers collectively removed more than 20 million pieces of trash from beaches and waterways around the world. That’s 20 million fewer potential impacts on whales, turtles and other beloved ocean wildlife.” So whether in groups of 1,000 or one, those same hands can make a difference for the health of our planet. + Heal the Bay + Surfrider Foundation + Save Our Shores Images via Adobe Stock

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September is Coastal Cleanup Month with a new look for 2020

Google becomes retroactively carbon-neutral

September 15, 2020 by  
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Google announced that it has now invested in enough high-quality carbon offsets to essentially erase its carbon footprint , compensating for all the carbon the company ever emitted. Google first became carbon-neutral in 2007. The goal is for all of Google’s offices and data centers to run on carbon-free energy by 2030. “We’ll do things like pairing wind and solar power sources together and increasing our use of battery storage,” said chief executive Sundar Pichai, according to BBC . “And we’re working on ways to apply AI [ artificial intelligence ] to optimize our electricity demand and forecasting.” Pichai’s plan could create 12,000 more jobs over the next five years. Related: Humans can’t count on rainforests to offset their carbon “Today’s announcement, combined with Google’s promise in May to no longer create artificial intelligence solutions for upstream oil and gas exploration, shows that Google takes its role in combating climate change seriously,” said Elizabeth Jardim, senior corporate campaigner for Greenpeace USA. This is all good news. However, the idea of offsetting all the company’s past use of carbon may not hold up when you take a closer look. Google’s offsets have so far focused on capturing natural gas that escapes from landfills and pig farms. As BBC points out, isn’t this something governments should be enforcing already? Planting trees to capture carbon dioxide, a popular offset strategy, also has its problems, such as ensuring that those trees never burn down or are felled. Google’s fellow tech giants have also announced plans to reduce or eliminate their carbon use. Microsoft plans to be carbon-negative by 2030. Amazon said it will be carbon-neutral by 2040, and Apple plans to have an entirely carbon-neutral business and manufacturing supply chain by 2030. And where the giants lead, smaller companies are apt to follow. Via BBC Image via Pawe? Czerwi?ski

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Google becomes retroactively carbon-neutral

Halo Top debuts new and improved vegan ice cream recipe

September 15, 2020 by  
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Vegans often face limited options for frozen treats. Sure, you can put a banana in the freezer, get a little fancier with a sorbet or maybe cool off with some vegan frozen yogurt. But now, thanks to Halo Top’s new line of vegan ice cream flavors, consumers can enjoy a range of choices with the creamy texture that makes ice cream summer’s perfect treat. Halo Top has offered vegan ice cream for years. The company’s new line features an improved taste and texture that feels more like real ice cream. Starting with a coconut milk base, the recipe also contains fava bean protein, which gives the ice cream a creamy texture. Previously, Halo Top used brown rice protein in its vegan ice cream creations. The switch to fava bean protein lends the ice cream a better texture that allows every flavor to stand out. Halo Top also swapped out the soluble corn fiber in its old recipe for inulin. Stevia provides the recipe with sweetness. Halo Top’s line of dairy-free ice cream introduces several flavors, including sea salt caramel. This mix of sweet and salty comes in at under 340 calories per pint. The flavor line also includes peanut butter cup, chocolate almond crunch, chocolate chip cookie dough, classic chocolate, candy bar and birthday cake. Each flavor’s calorie count stands between 280 to 380 calories per pint. The fava bean protein provides every pint with 10 to 20 grams of protein. The flavors will debut in grocery stores in September and October, in two different release waves. This line is exactly what vegans have been waiting for: ice cream that tastes like the real thing. Even better, this line includes a variety of flavors packed with protein, but not calories. Get your spoons ready and prepare to enjoy this new plant-based offering from Halo Top. + Halo Top Via Plant Based News Image via PR Newswire

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Halo Top debuts new and improved vegan ice cream recipe

Lunaz converts the classic Rolls-Royce to a fully electric car

September 15, 2020 by  
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The Rolls-Royce image has always been synonymous with luxury and innovation. These standards now take on a new meaning as British engineering company Lunaz restores a 60-year-old car design, the Rolls-Royce Phantom, into a breathtaking electric car for the 21st century. For owners of the elegant Rolls-Royce Phantom touring car — traditionally driven by chauffeur — a daily work commute or leisurely summer drive will now be friendlier to the earth. Lunaz, dedicated to keeping classic cars on the road, has restored this 1961 beauty from the ground up. It features a host of upgrades, along with Lunaz’s proprietary electric powertrain for a fully electric, eight-passenger eye-catcher that allows for customization throughout the build. To match the interior size, the Rolls-Royce Phantom V employs a 120 kWh battery, the largest electric battery in the world, which will travel up to 300 miles on a single charge. Few will be honored with the experience, however, since production is strictly limited to 30 units. Related: New electric car can be rented for just $22 a month “The time is right for an electric Rolls-Royce,” said David Lorenz, founder of Lunaz. “We are answering the need to marry beautiful classic design with the usability, reliability and sustainability of an electric powertrain. More than ever we are meeting demand for clean-air expressions of the most beautiful and luxurious cars in history. We are proud to make a classic Rolls-Royce relevant to a new generation.” Additionally, Lunaz is also electrifying the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud, a vehicle intended for a driving experience rather than a chauffeured one. The restoration involves stripping the car down to the bones and restoring each system with acute attention to overall weight and weight distribution, chassis, suspension and technical precision. Production for the Silver Cloud series is also extremely limited to customers around the world who have already secured build slots. “My approach to design is defined by Sir Henry Royce’s philosophy that ‘small things make perfection and perfection is no small thing,’” said Jen Holloway, design director for Lunaz. “Together with our clients, we work to create relevant expressions of the most significant cars in history. I am proud to give new purpose to some of the most beautiful objects ever created.” + Lunaz Images via Lunaz

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Lunaz converts the classic Rolls-Royce to a fully electric car

Autonomous Draper Drone to detect microplastics in the water

February 27, 2020 by  
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Microplastic pollution is everywhere, but its size — less than five millimeters in length — makes the threat almost invisible to the naked eye. That’s why Cambridge-based research and development lab  Draper  has teamed up with the Environmental Protection Agency and design firm Sprout Studios  to create the Draper Drone, a concept for an autonomous underwater vehicle that implements Draper’s portable microplastics sensor. Engineered to rapidly count, measure the size of and determine the material makeup of microplastics in real-time, the Draper Drone could help create a global microplastics database for analyzing pollution trends, identifying sources and informing possible solutions to the problem. Microplastics  are created in one of two main ways: the breakdown of larger plastic debris, or from industries that make small plastic particles such as microfibers in clothing and microbeads. These tiny particles, which readily absorb toxins such as DDT and flame retardants, are often ingested by marine life and can potentially have negative effects on human health through the food chain. To provide an easier and more cost-effective way of analyzing microplastic risks and trends, Draper teamed up with the Environmental Protection Agency to create an affordable portable  sensor  to measure microplastics in real-time. The team is also developing the Plastic Particle Pollution Index, a standardized microplastics identification system for logging environmental samples. The prototype sensor has been tested in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and the technology is expected to be available via open-sourcing.  Related: Microplastics accelerate cell death at 3 times the normal rate, study says Taking the sensor technology a step further, Draper asked Sprout to help design the Draper Drone, an autonomous underwater vehicle equipped with the microplastics sensor that could independently scan the top nine meters of the water for microplastics. The conceptual battery-powered drone would be paired with a self-docking,  wind-powered  charging buoy. The project was recently recognized in the 2019 TIME Best Invention List. + Draper Images via Sprout Studios

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Autonomous Draper Drone to detect microplastics in the water

Infographic: Our Plastic Earth

February 13, 2020 by  
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The extent of plastic pollution has reached a level that … The post Infographic: Our Plastic Earth appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Infographic: Our Plastic Earth

These are the best tips to help you establish an eco-friendly laundry routine

May 13, 2019 by  
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The earth is a fragile place, a bit more so with each day that humans contribute to chemicals in the waste stream and overconsumption of resources. While it may seem like a benign daily activity, doing laundry traditionally pours toxins such as microplastics into the water stream and drinks up valuable freshwater in the process. Since it is an activity we all do, and one we aren’t able to overlook (no one likes smelly clothes), there is a great opportunity to reduce the cumulative impact that laundry has on the environment . Here are some ways you can lower your laundry footprint by adopting sustainable practices. Laundry accumulation The best way to keep your laundry practices “clean” is to not wash clothes when it’s not necessary. Overwashing clothing wears down the fibers, which is bad both for your clothing and the environment, especially those materials that shed microplastics into the waste stream. Limit your laundry accumulation by re-wearing clothing. For example, jeans can handle several wearings before washing. Also, rehang and reuse bathroom towels a few times rather than washing them daily. Avoid washing items just because they have laid on the ground or are wrinkled. Related: Cora Ball emulates natural filtering of coral to remove toxic microfibers from your washing machine Prewash Instead of reaching for the chemical-laden prewash from the store, go old school with a more natural option. Laundry bars, like Dr. Bronners, remove stains without adding unnatural ingredients into the water supply. Simply keep it near the washing machine and rub it on stains to pretreat. Also avoid the prewash setting that requires more water and energy . If you have a tough stain try soaking it with a stain remover before washing. Dish soap may also do the job. Detergent options Commercial laundry detergents are loaded with nasty chemicals that run down the drain into the rivers and eventually make their way out to sea . While many might think these chemicals are completely removed with water treatments, the truth is not all are. However, fabrics will come clean without all the mainstream added toxins— so select your detergent with this in mind. For store-bought convenience, look for natural ingredients and read labels carefully. If you have the time to spare, try making your own laundry detergent. There are recipes all over the internet. Once you find your supplies, it is quick and easy to make and you can make enough to last months at a time. Fabric softener/dryer sheet options Clothes dryers rank high on the energy consumption scale, but they also add to waste with dryer sheets and chemicals from liquid fabric softeners. Clean up your act with homemade liquid detergent using a combination of 1/8 cup food-grade glycerin, two cups of water and two cups of white vinegar. Use about 1/4 cup per load. Also soften your fabrics and shorten drying time with wool dryer balls in each load. Alternately, you can make a liquid fabric softener that goes into the dryer instead of the washing machine. Just moisten a rag with the mixture and dry with your load of clothing. You can reuse the same rag endlessly without dryer sheet waste . Water usage As mentioned, the best way to reduce water usage is to avoid unnecessary washing. Also, skip the prewash and select the best cycle for the task at hand. For example, override the extra rinse for whites and choose a lower soil level for regular washings. If you’re in the market for a new washing machine, select one with an energy star rating for low water and electrical consumption. Cold water It requires energy to heat water around the house, so save it for the shower. Your clothes will do just fine when washed in cold water and your pocketbook will thank you too. Line dry Another winning way to lower the electric bill is to skip the dryer all together. Instead, set up a clothesline and hang items to dry when the weather allows. If you don’t like the rough feel of sun-dried clothes, toss them in the dryer for a few minutes then take the clothes out. Trap the microplastics In the environmental realm, microplastics are making headlines around the globe. It’s said that they are found in nearly all tested fish, which means we’re literally eating our clothes . Because microplastics are minute, they are not filtered out at the the water treatment plant and instead travel right through to the ocean. There are now products, like the Cora Ball, designed to throw in your washer as a filter to capture the microplastics in your laundry. Newer washing machines are expected to have microplastics filters built in so keep an eye out for those to hit the market. Related: Cora Ball emulates natural filtering of coral to remove toxic microfibers from your washing machine The dry cleaner Dry cleaning is a chemical process, and therefore a foe of the environment. Avoid dry cleaning as much as possible by washing at home and being conscious of the fabrics you buy at the store. Doing laundry has become such a part of our daily routines that we might not notice how often we are tossing our barely worn clothes in the washer. It’s never too late to begin an eco-friendly lifestyle and incorporate new approaches to our routines. Follow these helpful tips and significantly reduce your environmental impact. Images via Shutterstock

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These are the best tips to help you establish an eco-friendly laundry routine

Microplastic rain: new study reveals microplastics are in the air

April 17, 2019 by  
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A new study published in Nature Communications reveals alarming amounts of microplastic particles in the air, even in the most remote, mountainous areas. News about microplastics throughout the ocean, soil and every marine mammal studied has been widely documented and publicized in recent years. ‘Microplastic’ was even called the “2018 word of the year” for its number of mentions by the news media. However, very few studies have researched the abundance of microplastics specifically in the air we breathe. In addition to the recently published research, two previous studies analyzed airborne microplastics in France and China. Those analyses from 2016 and 2017 revealed a steady rainfall of microplastics in the air — findings that are unfortunately further confirmed by the results of this most recent study. Related: Microplastics have made their way into human poop The authors counted 365 plastic particles falling per square meter, every day, with comparable results from Paris to isolated areas of the Pyrenees mountains. The researchers concluded that the amount of microplastics is correlated with the strength of the wind, but not necessarily with proximity to major urban areas or even villages. The fact that plastic particles are found so far from urban areas and direct sources of pollution indicates that the world’s plastic crisis is not a localized issue, but a global problem that affects everyone, regardless of their location or sustainable habits. The new findings are a major public health concern. The vast majority of the plastic particles identified were polystyrene and polyethylene — toxic materials often used in single-use packaging and plastic bags. Microplastics have also been found in human lung tissue, but scientists are still unsure of exactly what impacts this could have on long-term human health. “When you get down to respiratory size particles, we don’t know what those do,” research team member Deonie Allen told The Guardian . “That is a really big unknown.” + Nature Communications Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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Microplastic rain: new study reveals microplastics are in the air

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