Johnson & Johnson offers Acuvue contact recycling program

March 6, 2019 by  
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Figuring out what is or is not recyclable is an ongoing struggle with program availability differing from one location to another. On the other hand, we aren’t even aware of many recycling programs available for products we dispose of frequently. Contact lens wearers, for example, have had some return returnability in past years by finding specific drop locations or mail-back options for used contact lenses. Now, Johnson & Johnson has made the process easier for 3.7 million contact wearers in the U.K. The newly-launched ACUVUE Contact Lens Recycle Programme is the U.K.’s first free nationwide program that includes recycling options for both contact lenses and the blister and foil packaging they come in. Although offered by Johnson & Johnson Vision, the program accepts all soft contact lenses from any manufacturer. “Seventy-seven percent of British contact lens wearers said they would recycle their contact lenses if they could, and we share their interest in reducing the amount of plastics in the environment,” said Sandra Rasche, Area Vice President, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Vision Care, Johnson & Johnson Medical GmbH. “As a business, we are committed to doing our part to combat climate change , protect our planet’s natural resources and reduce waste, and this new U.K. recycling program represents the next step in our company’s sustainability commitment.” Related: This new initiative aims to sustainably recycle your old bras The company reported that currently, about 20 percent of customers say they flush used contacts down the toilet or sink. In conjunction with TerraCycle, a world leader in reusing post-consumer waste, Johnson & Johnson launched the program with the hope of reducing garbage in landfills and water sources. In addition, the collected lenses and packaging materials gain new life in the form of products like plastic lumber and outdoor furniture. Working with high street retailer Boots Opticians Ltd and independent retail optical providers across the country, Johnson & Johnson provides more than 1,000 locations for drop-off of used materials to be recycled. + Johnson & Johnson Images via Johnson & Johnson

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Johnson & Johnson offers Acuvue contact recycling program

Green-roofed home in Atlanta offers a digital detox with lush nature views

March 6, 2019 by  
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Designed to focus on life in the outdoors, the Split Box House in Atlanta is a quiet, nature-inspired retreat for a family eager to escape from the distractions of the digital world. Designed by local architectural practice DiG Architects , the green-roofed home emphasizes both energy efficiency and indoor-outdoor living throughout. In addition to lush landscaped roofs that help mitigate stormwater runoff and energy consumption, massive low-E windows flood the interior with natural light to reduce dependence on artificial lighting. Covering an area of 2,646 square feet, the Split Box House was created for a busy working couple with three children who wanted a home refreshingly different from the “surrounding banal spec homes, each a louder spectacle than the next.” As a result, the architects focused on a simple and contemporary design that started as a long, 22-foot-wide rectangular volume — the width was based on the distance that a reasonably sized wood truss can span — that then morphed into two rotated and perpendicularly set L-shaped volumes, each roughly equivalent in size and housing the public and private spaces separately. “Arranged in an efficient pattern to eliminate waste, the primary exterior cladding of the box is a low-maintenance gray cement panel,” the architects said. “The panels, attached as an open joint ventilated rainscreen system, help manage moisture intrusion and reduce energy consumption. A complimentary warm ipe wood, alluding to the softer interiors of the house, clads the cuts. Comprised of the bedrooms upstairs and the guesthouse on the main level, the private functions bridge across a covered breezeway creating an outdoor room with a view corridor to the woods and access to the main and guest house entrances.” Related: Green-roofed home is built of waste bricks and wood in Poland The light-filled interiors are mostly dressed in white walls, timber surfaces and minimalist decor so as not to detract attention from the outdoors. A series of site walls were built to mitigate the steep property and form a terraced garden planted with long grasses that reinforces the geometric form of the house. + DiG Architects Via ArchDaily Photography by Alexander Herring via DiG Architects

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New hope for plastic recycling with IBM’s VolCat technology

March 6, 2019 by  
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Think how much more material would be reused if plastic recycling didn’t entail washing, sorting and individual processing. Now, IBM researchers have developed a new chemical process called VolatileCatalyst that eliminates these steps. VolCat recycling grinds up plastics, adds a chemical catalyst and cooks them at temperatures above 200 degrees Celsius. The chemicals eat through polymer strands, producing a fine white powder ready to be made into new containers. By heating PET with ethylene glycol and the catalyst, lab workers depolymerize plastic . After distillation, filtration, purification and cooling, scientists eventually recover usable matter called a monomer—in this case the white powder. This process digests and cleans the ground plastic, separating contaminants like dyes, glue and food residue. Related: 6 places to find the best recycled building materials PET is an abbreviation for polyethylene terephthalate, the chemical name for polyester. This type of plastic is used to manufacture containers for two-liter bottles of soft drinks, water bottles, salad dressings, cooking oil, shampoo, liquid hand soap and carry-out food containers. It’s even found in carpet, clothing and tennis balls. DuPont chemists first synthesized PET in the 1940s, probably never guessing that 70 years later between 4.8 and 12.7 million tons of plastic would wind up in the ocean each year. Humans have produced more than 8 billion metric tons of plastic since its invention. About half of new plastic becomes trash each year. By 2050, some scientists project there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean . VolCat developers hope to reverse this destructive trend. According to the researchers’ statement, “In the next five years, plastic recycling advancements like VolCat could be adopted around the globe to combat global plastic waste . People at the grocery store buying a bottle of soda or container of strawberries will know that the plastic they’ve purchased won’t end up in the ocean, but instead will be repurposed and put back on the shelf.” + IBM Images via Shutterstock

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Evaporative off-grid toilets don’t need plumbing, water or electricity

April 20, 2018 by  
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2.6 billion people around the planet don’t have access to safe toilets . Not only does this impact health , but empowerment as well: women and girls “face high rates of violence when they don’t have access to safe and dignified sanitation ,” according to protein biochemist and entrepreneur Diana Yousef, CEO of change:WATER Labs . She’s working on a solution: a portable, off-grid toilet. “80 percent of disease around the world is attributable to poor sanitation,” Yousef said in a Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards YouTube video ; she’s a 2018 finalist . Indigenous groups, people living in poverty, or refugees don’t have many options to deal with an absence of proper sanitation, according to change:WATER. So they’re working on a low-cost, off-grid, compact, environmentally safe toilet able to evaporate 95 percent of sewage sans energy with the help of a simple polymer membrane. Users wouldn’t need plumbing or water to flush the toilet. Related: Ergonomically-correct ‘Wellbeing Toilet’ Helps You Poop the Right Way Cartier Women’s Initiative says that membrane acts like a sponge, “soaking up and accelerating the evaporation of liquid contents without the use of power or heat…The vapors released are pure clean water, while the dried solids left behind are safely contained inside the membrane.” This volume reduction means toilets only have to be serviced once or twice in a month. Yousef said in the video the toilet sends waste water back into nature “in its purest form” in an attempt to promote a “cycle of use and re-use in a more efficient, sustainable, low-carbon way.” Field deployment could happen later this year; Yousef has three pilot partnerships in the United States, Central America, and in the Middle East and North Africa, according to the initiative. change:WATER is up for potential funding from the Chivas Venture (you can vote for them on the Chivas website ). Yousef said funding would allow change:WATER to get working toilets to 10,000 families by 2019. + change:WATER Labs Via the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards and Chivas Venture Image courtesy of change:WATER

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The Cornelia tiny house is a peaceful writer’s studio built with reclaimed wood

April 20, 2018 by  
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One of the best things to come from the tiny home  trend is the peace of living in a quiet atmosphere – which is especially important for writers. At the request of renowned children’s author Cornelia Funke,  New Frontier Tiny Homes  created The Cornelia — which is just 24 feet in length and 8.5 feet wide. Funke’s tiny house is a serene three-in-one space that can be used as a writing studio, a guest house and a library. The Cornelia’s high vaulted ceilings provide the tiny house with plenty of vertical space. Abundant windows provide plenty of natural light and stunning views of the surrounding forest. Reclaimed barn wood covers the walls and ceilings, giving the home an inviting cabin feel. A small deck is covered with a wooden awning, creating a serene spot to enjoy the outdoors. Related: Firefighter’s self-built tiny house is an earthship on wheels The designers customized the layout of the compact space  to fit Funke’s needs. High ledges span the length of both walls to provide ample space for storing books. Minimal furnishings open up the space and keep it safe from clutter. The desk, which is located under a large window, can be folded down when not in use. A small, incredibly space-efficient kitchen is located on one end of the home and the bathroom is located in a corner of the living space. The loft, which fits a king-size bed, is accessible by a movable ladder. The efficient, modern design and lush surroundings offer plenty of inspiration for the tiny home’s creative inhabitant. + New Frontier Tiny Homes Via Apartment Therapy Images via New Frontier Tiny Homes

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The Cornelia tiny house is a peaceful writer’s studio built with reclaimed wood

24-year-old Yemeni engineer invents mini biogas plants for home use

January 17, 2018 by  
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Some villages in war-torn Yemen still don’t have electricity since the recent conflict started nearly two years ago, according to 24-year-old chemical engineering graduate Omer Badokhon speaking to Reuters . So he invented micro-scale biogas devices to transform trash into cleaner fuel , to combat indoor pollution and slash energy poverty. He was recently among the winners of the Young Champions of the Earth prize from United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and polymer company Covestro , winning $15,000 he plans to use to construct 50 to 80 units. Badokhon could tackle multiple issues Yemen faces with his small biogas devices. The country has faced the biggest cholera epidemic the World Health Organization has recorded, and Badokhon connects cholera with organic waste pollution in the country – which has only worsened during the war. He said in a video organic waste is the primary reason for the cholera, but that garbage could be turned into something useful to help the country with another issue: electricity woes. Related: Off-grid village with game-changing green solutions blooms in the Middle East Badokhon told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, “In some villages, electricity has not been restored since the conflict began in 2015. In Mukalla City where I now live, I remember how desperate I felt trying to complete university assignments by candlelight when power shuts down for four to six hours every day.” More than three million people still cook over open flames in Yemen, according to UNEP , and Badokhon said in another video women and child die each year because of exposure to smoke. His biogas devices will be built locally with fiberglass or plastic . They “enable the rapid decomposition of domestic organic waste, thereby maximizing the amount of biogas produced,” per UNEP. And the remains of the fermentation process are useful too; Badokhon said in a video they can serve as rich liquid fertilizer . During the upcoming eight months, according to Reuters, the devices will be tested in 1,500 rural houses in Sana’a, Ibb, Aden, Hadhramaut, Shabwa, and Taiz. In addition to the Young Champions of the Earth prize money, Badokhon also received $10,000 for research from Yemeni oil company PetroMasila. Via Reuters and the United Nations Environment Program ( 1 , 2 ) Images via the United Nations Environment Program

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24-year-old Yemeni engineer invents mini biogas plants for home use

The US is now the only country in the world to refuse the Paris Climate Agreement

November 7, 2017 by  
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Today the war-torn country of Syria officially signed the Paris Climate Agreement , leaving the United States as the only country to refuse the landmark climate deal. Though Barack Obama entered the US into the deal during his time as president, Donald Trump quickly withdrew the nation after his inauguration. The Middle East nation made the announcement in Bonn, Germany, at the COP 23 UN climate summit. Even though Syria is facing its sixth year of a brutal civil conflict, it agreed to limit its carbon emissions in an effort to prevent climate change from worsening. It’s not clear what has changed, and Syria has yet to submit its targets for cutting greenhouse gases . In December 2015, nearly 200 countries signed the Paris Accord . Until last month, Nicaragua was also a holdout nation. However, that was because the Central American country did not think the deal went far enough in putting limits on emissions and helping lower-income nations adapt to an already-changing planet. One of Nicaragua’s complaints was that top polluters — like the US, EU, China, and India — were not keeping their emissions levels low enough to prevent sea levels from rising and global warming under 2 degrees Celsius — let alone the more ambitious goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100. Eventually, parties to the deal signed – as the global climate change agreement was better than none at all. Now the US is the last country to sign. In the past, President Trump said that American workers (particularly coal miners) were being put at an “economic disadvantage” by the deal. And even though the US is the second largest emitter of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the world (second to China ), Trump remains committed to the idea that investing in coal — not renewable energy — is the way forward. Related: Edible schoolyards sprout across war-torn Syria “With Syria’s decision, the relentless commitment of the global community to deliver on Paris is more evident than ever,” Paula Caballero , director of the climate change program at the World Resources Institute, told the New York Times . “The US’s stark isolation should give Trump reason to reconsider his ill-advised announcement and join the rest of the world in tackling climate change .” The countries that have signed the Paris Agreement now seek to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Via The Independent , The Verge , BBC Images via Pixabay

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The US is now the only country in the world to refuse the Paris Climate Agreement

Hundreds of mysterious stone structures discovered near ancient volcanoes in Saudi Arabia

October 19, 2017 by  
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Professor David Kennedy of the University of Oxford just discovered hundreds of mysterious structures near ancient lava domes in Saudi Arabia. Using Google Earth , Kennedy found approximately 400 stone walls that are believed to be more than 9,000 years old. Because the structures appear similar to others found in the Middle East , they have been dubbed “gates” The mysterious gates are located in the western Harrat Khaybar region of the country. According to the Bedouin, a nomadic group of Arab people, they were the “Works of the Old Men.” While there are similarities between the newly-discovered gates and others in the country, there are notable differences, as well. For instance, the gates Kennedy discovered are larger (the longest measures more than half a kilometer, the shortest is just 13 meters) and the space between them varies. Some are “almost touching” while others are “miles apart,” reports The Independent . Kennedy told Newsweek , “It is impossible at the moment to date these gates except relatively. I have argued in the article that they are the earliest of the so-called ‘Works of the Old Men’, the stone-built structures found widely in Arabia from northern Syria to Yemen , but especially common in the lava fields.” The “Old Men” are also credited with building “kites” – stone structures archaeologists say were used to catch migratory birds . They are found on top of the gates in other areas of the Middle East, signifying possible relationship. Said the Professor of archaeology, “The works known as Kites, which are certainly animal traps, may be as old as 9,000 years before present in some cases and there is one example of a kite overlying a gate. So Gates may be up to or more than 9,000 years old, which takes one back to the Neolithic .” Related: Large organic farm in Saudi Arabia switches to solar-powered irrigation Because the gates are situated on ancient lava domes (the volcanoes remain inactive), some of the structures bear traces of lava. This could prove a sufficient method to date the mysterious phenomenon. Kennedy’s findings will be published in an upcoming issue of Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy . Via The Independent Images via Wiley/Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy/Douglas Kennedy , Google Earth

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Edible schoolyards sprout across war-torn Syria

August 29, 2017 by  
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As the civil war continues into its sixth year, millions of Syrians remain in the divided, war-torn country. To meet basic needs and provide young people with a healthy place to play and learn, schoolyards across the country are being reborn as vegetable gardens . At these edible playgrounds, children learn how to grow tasty, nutritious treats, like peppers, eggplants, and cabbages. Then, when the time is right, they are able to harvest and eat what they have grown. This transformative experience offers students and their families an empowering experience of caring for one’s self and others. Young people, whose bodies and minds are rapidly developing, are particularly vulnerable to food scarcity and malnutrition . “Good nutrition is a child’s first defense against common diseases and important for children to be able to lead an active and healthy life,” said Adam Yao, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) acting representative in Syria. FAO provides funding and logistical support for 17 primary schools to plant 500 square meter fruit and vegetable gardens. These gardens are being installed in both government and opposition-controlled territory, so that young people will be able to access healthy food regardless of the politics and violence that surrounds them. Another 35 schools are scheduled to receive an edible playground in the near future. Related: Food-starved Syrians are switching meat for mushrooms Many Syrians now depend on bread and food aid from relief organizations to meet their nutritional needs. This sparse diet is far from traditional Syrian cuisine, which includes dishes such as hummus, minced lamb with spices and pine nuts, vibrant salads, stuffed cabbage leaves, and vegetable stews. These dishes are more are well served by the edible schoolyards , which provide some of the rich vegetables that have become scarce during the civil war. Further investments in agriculture could help to secure the population for years to come. “ Agriculture has become a hope for (many) because they can grow their own food and survive – even in the besieged areas,” said Yao. The seeds planted in the minds of these young children may someday yield a brighter, healthier Syria at peace. Via Reuters Foundation, FAO Lead image via FAO / Zaki Khozam , eggplants via Deposit Photos , others via Celine Nadeau/Flickr and DFID/Flickr

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Edible schoolyards sprout across war-torn Syria

Rooftop farms in Gaza provide lifeline to the community

August 17, 2017 by  
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Meeting even basic needs in Gaza can be a challenge for the nearly 2 million people that live in the territory’s 141 square miles. Under  Israeli blockade, which prevents vital supplies from reaching Gaza and inhibits international trade, the Palestinians living there rely on resilience and innovation to survive with the resources they have. Squeezed out of arable land, many Gaza residents are farming upwards, on the rooftops of the dense urban Mediterranean territory. Rooftop farming is fairly new in Gaza. Starting in 2010, an urban farming project by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization equipped over 200 female-headed households with fish tanks, equipment, and supplies to build and maintain an aquaponics growing system, in which fish provide both edible protein and fertilizer for vegetables with roots growing into water, without soil. This initial design was adapted by others to suit their available resources and needs. The current model, designed and built by Palestinians, involves recycled plastic and wood being used to create garden beds, which are then planted with seeds from local farmers. Related: Gaza man’s DIY solar desalination machine can produce 2.6 gallons of fresh water every day The growing rooftop farming scene in Gaza is helping to met the needs of a population increasingly threatened by food insecurity. However, a garden is often more than simply the food that it produces. “There are many useful benefits with this project,” said Dr. Ahmad Saleh, an agricultural consultant, former professor, and community organizer who is helping to promote urban farming in Gaza. “Rooftop agriculture enables and empowers people. It allows them to find effective ways to confront environmental problems and helps create a healthier population.” Muhyeddin al-Kahlout, a former school director, sees his gardens as a social gathering spot. “We are experiencing severe power shortages and there is already a scarcity of recreational places,” he said. “Many of my friends liked the idea. Now they are starting to think about doing the same on their rooftops.” Via Sondos Walid / Electronic Intifada Images via  Mohamed Hajjar  and  David Berkowitz/Flickr

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