Study reveals mass plant extinction rate since Industrial Revolution

June 12, 2019 by  
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New research suggests that even by conservative efforts, the number of plants that have gone extinct in the last three centuries is 500 times higher than before the industrial revolution, and the rate of extinction is skyrocketing. According to the survey, at least 571 plants have become extinct since 1750, which should be a “frightening” concern to anyone who eats or breathes. “Plants underpin all life on Earth. They provide the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat, as well as making up the backbone of the world’s ecosystems ,” said study author Eimear Nic Lughadha from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew . The scientists also believe that their confirmed list of 571 plants is only the tip of the iceberg. In most cases, it can take years to declare a species officially extinct because of the landscapes that have to be scoured for any last survivors. “How are you going to check the entirety of the Amazon for your lost plant?” Maria Vorontsova, also from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, told The Guardian . Furthermore, there are thousands of species that are functionally extinct, meaning there are so few remaining plants that the chances of reproduction and survival are nearly — if not entirely — impossible. Despite their conservative tally, the researchers’ estimate is still four times higher than what is officially recorded on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List . “It is way more than we knew and way more than should have gone extinct,” said Vorontsova. “It is frightening not just because of the 571 number, but because I think that is a gross underestimate.” According to the United Nations, another 1 million species are currently at risk of extinction. Many scientists believe that extinction and biodiversity should be in the news and keeping us up at night just as much as climate change , but that it is often a less acknowledged, and less funded, crisis. Financing and support for plants is especially challenging within the conservation field, because they just aren’t as cute as their endangered animal counterparts. Scientists often collect and save DNA samples from extinct plants in labs at places such as the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in hopes that innovative discoveries could help save other plants or one day bring back old ones. Via The Guardian Image via Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

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Study reveals mass plant extinction rate since Industrial Revolution

An eco-friendly gift guide for Fathers Day

June 12, 2019 by  
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This Father’s Day, give your dad a gift he will not only love, but one that also won’t hurt the planet nor gather dust on his shelf: quality time together! Here are a few ideas of ways to get outside and celebrate with the father figure in your life as well as some eco-friendly gadgets he will enjoy when you aren’t together. Visit a national park together June is one of the best times to visit one of the country’s national parks . Whether your dad is a serious hiker or more of a couch potato, he will love getting some fresh air and seeing a beautiful new landscape together. Most parks have options for easy day trips, walking tours and more intense hikes. Some have visitors centers, museums and cafes, and many have short paved trails that are accessible for a wider variety of ability levels . Related: How National Parks benefit the environment Here are a few popular parks for Father’s Day: Acadia National Park, Maine This park has miles of rugged coastline that can be too cold for most people during the rest of the year but are beautiful during the summer. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming Located near Yellowstone National Park, this park has gorgeous mountain vistas and overlook sites. It is popular in the summertime for mountaineering, climbing, hiking and walking. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia Only a few hours from Washington D.C., this park is gorgeous even from a car. There are a number of hikes and waterfall spots for different ability levels, plus you and your dad can brag about hiking part of the Appalachian Trail together. For more ideas, check out the National Parks Service’s Father’s Day Guide . Pick your own strawberries June is peak strawberry season in much of the U.S., and it’s a fun group activity with sweet treats along the way. Bring the loot home and make fresh strawberry shortcake for a Father’s Day dessert! Here is a guide to where you can go strawberry picking in different states. Make sure to call ahead to confirm that the farm is open, has strawberries left and is still offering a pick-your-own program this year. Give the gift of knowledge This year, take your father to a movie about the environment or nature, like The Biggest Little Farm . Not only will it allow you to spend quality time together, but you will learn something new about our planet. If your dad is interested, check out local events or talks about climate change and participate in local activism together! Sign up for a road race If you and your dad have a goal to be more active, exercise is a great way to spend quality time together while staying healthy . Research races in your area and pick one that works with your schedule and abilities. The entrance fee typically goes to help charities or medical research. Stick with a 5K or less if you’re a beginner — that is about 3.2 miles. If you’re more advanced, you can look for a 10K or higher. Related: 8 tips to make your exercise routine more eco-friendly Buy a bike tune-up Does your dad like to bike? Maybe he bikes to work, just on the weekends or very little at all, but we’ll bet his bike could use a tune-up to make sure it’s in the best and safest shape possible. Rent canoes or kayaks Now that the weather is nice, spend some time together as a family and rent canoes, kayaks or paddle boats. Many lakes and rivers have rental companies where you can pay by the hour or by the day. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, you could look at places where you can fish, too. Snag tickets to a sports game or concert Spend your money on an experience instead of an item. Do some research to find out if your dad’s favorite sports team or band is in town, and buy tickets to go with him. Plan a customized rainwater harvesting system If your dad loves to garden, get him a customized rainwater harvesting system. Many companies will take the time to learn about your dad’s space and needs and send an easy, customized kit to set it up. You can also try the DIY route . Get environmental gadgets for Dad Before buying more stuff for your dad, ask him what he wants. A good way to cut down on waste is by buying only something that he would really use. Otherwise, here are some good ideas: App-controlled light bulbs Does anyone else have a dad who is constantly reminding you to turn off the lights when you leave a room? Get your tech-savvy dad this app-controlled light bulb that lasts up to 27 years and uses just 10 percent of the energy needed for a conventional bulb. He can set timers for his schedule and say goodbye to the days of following the kids around and turning off lights after them. Swim shorts that save the sea These swimming shorts are made from 100 percent recycled plastic and are SPF 45+. Each design tells a story about ocean pollution , and they are available in matching Father + Son sizes. Grill tools made from recycled hockey sticks Is your dad a grill master and a sports fan? This California-based company recycles used hockey sticks to make unique grill utensils. According to the website: “We all know somebody (perhaps ourself) whose burgers always come off the grill looking like hockey pucks. They just don’t have the right tools.” Stainless steel coffee mug If your dad is like mine, he drinks a lot of coffee . Get him a sophisticated stainless steel coffee mug that he can take with him on the go or bring to coffee shops. Most shops offer a small discount for bringing your own mug, and some cities like Berkeley, California are piloting a program to start charging customers for using disposable coffee cups, just like plastic bags. Related: The problem with coffee pods and the eco-friendly alternatives to use instead Sustainable socks Put a twist on the typical gift for dad and buy him something from a sustainable brand. Check out the sock choices at Organic Basics . Organic wine Research the vineyards near you or your dad and find out which ones use organic, sustainable or biodynamic methods on their vineyard. After confirming its environmental impact, gift Dad with an eco-friendly bottle of wine. Via Earth 911 Images via Shutterstock

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An eco-friendly gift guide for Fathers Day

Earth911 Inspiration: The Poetry of Nature

May 31, 2019 by  
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Earth911 Inspiration: The Poetry of Nature

Green Earth Book Awards Celebrate Best Environmentalist Children’s Books

May 24, 2019 by  
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Green Earth Book Awards Celebrate Best Environmentalist Children’s Books

Earth911 Inspiration: Pack It In, Pack It Out

May 24, 2019 by  
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Earth911 Inspiration: Pack It In, Pack It Out

Artist installs nature-inspired tiny house made out of recycled glass and plastic in Times Square

May 21, 2019 by  
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Brooklyn-based artist Fernando Mastrangelo has combined his passion for art and sustainability into one gorgeously green tiny home . The artist, who is known for using unique materials in his work, has just unveiled Tiny Home, a “recycled tiny house sculpture” made out of recycled plastic and glass. The 175-square foot home, which comes complete with a garden-filled courtyard, is currently open to the public in New York’s Times Square. According to Mastrangelo, the design for the 175-square-foot home was inspired by nature and climate change. Part of the ongoing NYCxDESIGN event, the tiny home is an interactive space that the artist hopes will demonstrate to visitors how eco-minded architecture is fundamental in creating a better world with less waste. Related: 8 tiny homes built tough for off-grid living The unique tiny home is made out of a variety of reclaimed materials. The ombre effect on the exterior, which gives off the illusion of a mountain range, was made out of recycled plastic . On the interior, reclaimed glass fragments were used on the walls and ceiling using the artist’s signature cement casting technique. Further into the space, a blue wall with large circular cutout leads to a soothing courtyard with a lush garden (designed by  Brook Landscape ) that wraps around the exterior, highlighting the strong connection between architecture and mother nature. Mastrangelo explains that as an artist, he feels the need to not only use eco-friendly materials to expand his own artwork, but as a way of embracing a new model of creation, “as spaces begin to be experienced more and more virtually, the boundaries of our imaginations — as architects and designers — are no longer limited to what we can physically build,” he explains “that’s where tiny house comes in; a space where the future of design can be experienced in real life.” The Tiny Home will be on display and open to the public at Time Square until May 22. + Fernando Mastrangelo Via Designboom Images via Fernando Mastrangelo Studio

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Artist installs nature-inspired tiny house made out of recycled glass and plastic in Times Square

Even the most remote islands are victims of plastic pollution

May 17, 2019 by  
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Plastic hasn’t taken much more than a century to conquer the entire world. Since plastic’s invention in 1907, it has infiltrated even the most remote island chains, according to a new study by marine biologist Jennifer Lavers and her associates. When the researchers visited the Cocos Keeling Islands — 6 square miles of land 1,300 miles off Australia’s northwest coast — they found a staggering accumulation of plastic waste . Because nearly no one lives on the islands, the plastic bags, straws , cutlery, 373,000 toothbrushes and 975,000 shoes must have floated there. “So, more than 414 million pieces of plastic debris are estimated to be currently sitting on the Cocos Keeling Islands, weighing a remarkable 238 tons,” Lavers said in an NPR report . Lavers is a research scientist at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania. Related: Ocean explorer finds plastic waste during world’s deepest dive Lavers and her research team studied seven of the 27 islands, mostly in 2017. They marked off transects of the beaches , then counted the plastic pollution inside the transects. Their estimated total is based on multiplying the plastic waste found in each transect by the total beach area of the Cocos Keeling Islands. But what surprised Lavers most was how much plastic pollution was buried beneath the sand. Her team dug four inches down. “What was really quite amazing was that the deeper we went, the more plastic we were actually finding,” she said. The sun’s heat breaks down plastic waste sitting on the sand’s surface, then waves drive tiny plastic pieces into the sand. “It’s the little stuff that’s perfectly bite-sized,” Lavers said. “The stuff that fish and squid and birds and even turtles can eat.” There’s not a lot of good news in Lavers’ study , which was published in the journal Nature. As the authors point out in their introduction, global plastic production is increasing exponentially, with about 40 percent of items entering the waste stream after a single use . “Unfortunately, unless drastic steps are taken, the numbers and challenges will only grow, with the quantity of waste entering the ocean predicted to increase ten-fold by 2025,” the study warned. + Nature Via NPR Image via Jennifer Lavers

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Doctors Prescribe the Great Outdoors

May 2, 2019 by  
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Earth911 Quiz #58: Endangered Species and Biodiversity

April 25, 2019 by  
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Earth911 Quiz #58: Endangered Species and Biodiversity

It might be time to let your garden grow wild

April 12, 2019 by  
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Think of a formal yard or garden, and you likely envision rows of neatly trimmed bushes along meandering walkways and sitting areas. Homeowners spend a ton of money, time and resources in an attempt to recreate that image. But another equally beautiful option for your home is a wild garden . What is a wild garden? A wild garden can carry a variety of definitions. For some, it means limiting the amount you tame your plants , letting them become what others might define as overgrown and unsightly. Others might associate wild with the types of plants you choose for your space. If you think about your walks in the fields or forests where Mother Nature is the only landscaper, plants are “overgrown and unsightly” around every corner. So, it might be time to change your definition of what makes a desirable garden space. The idea of a wild garden is to create a more naturally flowing space with less rigid lines and rules. Related: This Garden Planner makes urban gardening easy Reasons to set it free There are many benefits to allowing your garden to go wild. Consider the nature of the plant and remember that pruning is something we do in our backyard, but it is not the norm in a plant’s natural habitat. We feel we need to confine plants, because that’s what the magazines show. Allowing your plants to become shaggy around the edges means a whole lot less maintenance for you, which is a huge advantage if you prefer not to spend every waking moment tending to your garden. Another benefit of a wild garden is that it becomes a more natural garden. We spend time in nature because we connect with the sights, smells and surroundings that nature provides. Somehow, we lose those same feelings when we bring plants into our yard and then contour them into something they’re not. Instead, allow your plants to take a more natural growth pattern and retain the essence of nature in your yard. The benefit of native plants Plants that are native to your area are going to grow the best. Careful selection of your plants in the beginning will allow for a worry-free space as your garden grows. Talk to the local nursery owner. Stop by the garden center. Read books and scour the internet. After you hunt down the plants indigenous to your area, create a plan on paper or using a graphic design program on the computer. Be sure to allow for the maximum growth of the plants, so you don’t have to continually trim them back. In addition to low-effort growing success, native plants also do not require chemicals to fight off insects and disease. Plus, they often don’t need fertilizer, because they are naturally suited for the native soil. You can even source your native plants directly from nature by selecting seeds or small plants. Check with your local authorities before harvesting from forests or other areas. If nothing else, observe the plants in your area and purchase the same type of ferns, sunflowers or wildflowers that you see growing naturally. Natural elements in the design Another way to bring the wilderness into your yard is through natural elements . Think of an eroding cliffside with protruding rocks and plants that have rooted themselves in the unstable soil. Bring that idea into your yard with stone walkways or tiered river rock stairways surrounded by plants. Mix pristine with savage, manicured with wild The goal of creating a wild yard doesn’t mean you have to have a completely untamed space of rambling branches and invasive blackberries. Instead, segment your yard into areas that provide for the naturally wild look combined with more traditional or formal spaces for sitting or strolling. Bring in the pristine yard if that’s your thing, and mingle it with some savage plants. Manicure the stone patio, but allow the bushes behind the arbor to go wild. The point is that wild doesn’t have to be neglected. Simply work the look into your design. Related: This Australian property was redesigned with a sustainable, lush garden Advantages of wildflowers Wildflowers are often seen as invasive in the restrictive confines of a yard, and they are. But they are also an amazing way to bring the colors and calming visuals of nature into your space. Grab a seed packet and spread the colorful joy throughout your yard, or mostly confine them to one area with a border. Remember that wildflowers are seasonal, so you’ll also want to incorporate other plants that will fill the space when the wildflowers aren’t in bloom. Rethink the spacing Traditional gardens are tightly focused on spacing. We don’t want the fruit tree to overshadow the plants below it. Those daylilies might get too big and push up to the hyacinth next door. Oh no! Again, envision the way plants grow in nature, and replicate it in your yard. Plants have a way of naturally providing for one another or pushing out unwelcome invaders. If you copy what you see in nature, your plants will thrive in a natural way, meaning that they will overlap, procreate and become entangled one into another. Although this goes against our structured (and separated) image of a neat garden, the wildness of an unregimented garden allows nature to show her best self. Images via Shutterstock

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