LEGO responds to kids’ worries about single-use plastics

September 18, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Kids have spoken, and LEGO has listened. “We have received many letters from  children about the environment asking us to remove single-use plastic packaging,” Niels B. Christiansen, LEGO Group CEO, said in a statement. “We have been exploring alternatives for some time and the passion and ideas from children inspired us to begin to make the change.” The Danish toymaker announced Tuesday that it will replace the plastic bags inside boxed LEGO sets with recyclable paper bags. Over the next five years, the company expects to completely phase out the plastic bags. Related: A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for children Of course, the bag issue is ironic considering LEGO turns about 90,000 metric tons of plastic per year into its iconic bricks. Though the company has tried finding alternative materials, so far nothing else is as durable. Currently, 2% of LEGO pieces — including LEGO trees and bushes — are made from  sugar  cane. The company is working to increase and improve plant-based “bio bricks” and to make all products from sustainable materials by 2030. For now, LEGO stresses that kids can use the plastic bricks forever — no need to put them in the world’s landfills. The bricks manufactured today fit those made 40 years ago. If you don’t have anybody to pass your collection on to, the LEGO Replay program helps customers donate used bricks to LEGO-deprived kids in the U.S. and  Canada . The company plans to expand Replay to other countries. LEGO also added  solar panels  to its factories as part of its goal of a carbon-neutral manufacturing process by 2022. The company has also improved waste handling and reduced water consumption. “We cannot lose sight of the fundamental challenges facing future generations,” said Christiansen. “It’s critical we take urgent action now to care for the planet and future generations. As a company who looks to children as our role models, we are inspired by the millions of kids who have called for more urgent action on  climate change . We believe they should have access to opportunities to develop the skills necessary to create a sustainable future. We will step up our efforts to use our resources, networks, expertise and platforms to make a positive difference.” + LEGO Via CNN Images via LEGO

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LEGO responds to kids’ worries about single-use plastics

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

Meet Phade, the biodegradable, bioplastic eco-straw

September 14, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Environmentalists say straws are harmful, and the argument makes a lot of sense. But as an iconic beverage accessory, many people don’t know how to live without straws. Thanks to Phade, they don’t have to. This biodegradable plastic straw looks and fees like a standard disposable straw. There’s just one twist: Phade is way better for the environment. If you’ve ever tried paper straws, you may have a pretty bad impression of biodegradable straws options. Phade straws are different; they’re crafted to have the feel and texture of plastic . The “eco-straw” from Phade accomplishes this by using polyhydroxyalkanoate. Polyhydroxyalkanoate comes from canola oil and is marine and soil biodegradable and compostable. In a marine environment, Phade straws degrade by 88.1% within 97 days. Not bad, considering that standard plastic straws made with polypropylene can take about 200 years to degrade. Polypropylene, made from crude oil , shows up in a staggering variety of products. Used in housewares, furniture, automobiles, appliances and shipping materials, polypropylene is everywhere. Phade hopes to make a change by starting with straws, one of the most common and recognizable single-use plastic products circulated in the market. Straws are ubiquitous — you get them for free with purchase at any gas station, restaurant or bar you visit. You probably have at least one in your silverware drawer right now. When these straws get used, they create a lot of plastic waste. Considering that the world’s oceans already hold an estimated 5 trillion pieces of plastic, reducing plastic waste via innovations such as the Phade eco-straw could help prevent further pollution. The Phade eco-straws won the 2020 Innovation in Bioplastics Award from the Bioplastics Division of the Plastics Industry Association. Phade is one of the products created by WinCup, a company that makes disposable bowls, cups, lids and other food and beverage items. + Phade Via PR Newswire Image via Phade

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Meet Phade, the biodegradable, bioplastic eco-straw

Earth911 Reader: This Week’s Essential Sustainability, Recycling, and Conscious Citizens’ News

September 12, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Eco Tech

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Mealworms can serve as protein source, research says

September 10, 2020 by  
Filed under Green

A new study published in the Journal of Insects as Food and Feed has revealed that yellow mealworms can serve as an alternative protein source for animals and, possibly, humans. The study comes at a time when global food demands keep rising. Spontaneous population growth in developing countries has led to a shortage of protein sources, prompting researchers to look for alternative options. The new research, conducted by Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), proposes yellow mealworms as a food source. Christine Picard, associate professor of biology and the director of the Forensic Investigative Sciences Program at IUPUI School of Science, led the research. The study focused on analyzing the genome of a mealworm species known as tenebrio molitor. “Human populations are continuing to increase, and the stress on protein production is increasing at an unsustainable rate, not even considering climate change ,” Picard said. Findings explain that the yellow mealworm can offer several agricultural benefits. Fish and domestic birds can use the worms as an alternative source of protein. The worms can also help produce organic fertilizer, with their nutrient-rich waste. The mealworm genome research employed a 10X Chromium linked-read technology. Researchers now say that this information is available for use by those seeking to utilize DNA to optimize mealworms for mass production. According to Picard, IUPUI’s research has dealt with the challenging part, opening doors for interested stakeholders. “ Insect genomes are challenging, and the longer sequence of DNA you can generate, the better genome you can assemble. Mealworms, being insects, are a part of the natural diet of many organisms,” Picard said. Since fish enjoy mealworms as food , the researchers propose adopting these worms for fish farming. Researchers also say that pet food industries can use the worms as a supplemental protein source. In the future, mealworms could also serve as food for humans. “Fish enjoy mealworms, for example. They could also be really useful in the pet food industry as an alternative protein source, chickens like insects — and maybe one day humans, too, because it’s an alternative source of protein,” Picard said. To facilitate the yellow mealworm’s commercialization, the IUPUI team continues researching the worm’s biological processes. + Journal of Insects as Food and Feed Via Newswise Image via Pixabay

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Mealworms can serve as protein source, research says

Wildfires have burned 2.3M acres across California this year

September 10, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Over 2 million acres of land have burned in California this year alone, according to the U.S Forest Service. Unfortunately, fires are still breaking out and more destruction is expected. The state is bracing for the worst as summer comes to an end. Normally, the period preceding fall is the most dangerous in terms of fire outbreaks, and California has already witnessed more acres burned so far this year than ever recorded in a similar period. Currently, two of the state’s largest fires in history are still underway in the San Francisco Bay Area. More than 14,000 firefighters are deployed to handle these fires and others around the state. During the Labor Day weekend, a three-day heatwave aggravated the situation. Triple-digit temperatures and dry winds are making it hard for firefighters to control the flames. Related: Redwoods, condor sanctuary are damaged in California wildfires The continued increase in temperatures and forest fires is affecting services for the residents of the state. Pacific Gas & Electric, the largest utility company in the state, said it might cut power to 158,000 customers this week. According to the company, this move would be taken to reduce the risk of its powerlines and other equipment starting more wildfires . According to Randy Moore, regional forester for the U.S Forest Service in the Pacific Southwest Region, the state will close all eight national forests in southern California to prevent further damage. He said that the closures will be re-evaluated each day, based on the available risks. The service is monitoring daily temperatures and other weather aspects that are likely to lead to fire outbreaks. This decision consequently means that all campgrounds within national forests remain closed. “The wildfire situation throughout California is dangerous and must be taken seriously,” Moore said. “Existing fires are displaying extreme fire behavior, new fire starts are likely, weather conditions are worsening, and we simply do not have enough resources to fully fight and contain every fire.” Via Huffington Post Image via Steve Nelson / Bureau of Land Management

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Wildfires have burned 2.3M acres across California this year

30 new marine species found in Galapagos’ deep seas

September 9, 2020 by  
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The  Galapagos  Islands are famous for several endemic species that evolved to fit the exact niche required to live on rocky islands 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. Now, marine scientists have found 30 new species deep beneath the ocean’s surface around the Galapagos.  Using cutting-edge remote operated vehicles (ROV), expedition crews from the  Charles Darwin Foundation , the  Galapagos National Park Directorate and the  Ocean Exploration Trust  explored seamounts as far down as 3,400 meters. Seamounts are extinct underwater  mountains  entirely covered by seawater. Until now, the Galapagos seamounts were largely unexplored. Related: Iguanas reintroduced to island after 200 years The 30 newly identified species include 10 bamboo corals, 11 sponges, four squat lobsters and a brittle star. Scientists also found four new octocorals. Commonly known as sea fans, octocorals are polyp-bearing  corals . One of the four new octocorals is the first giant solitary soft coral found in the Tropical Eastern Pacific. These new research findings come from a 10-day cruise on the 64-meter research vessel the E/V Nautilus. Scientists manipulated arms on the ship’s two ROVs to collect biological and geological specimens. After the expedition, the team sent these samples to deep-sea experts for identification and analysis. “The many discoveries made on this expedition showcase the importance of deep-sea exploration to developing an understanding of our oceans and the power of telepresence to build a diverse team of experts,” Dr. Nicole Raineault, chief scientist of the Ocean Exploration Trust, said in a press release. “Since we never know what we’re going to find, we utilize land-based scientists who watch the ROV dives from home and communicate directly with the shipboard team in real time, to help determine what is truly new and worthy of further investigation or sampling. Scientists studying the resulting video, data, and specimens make an astonishing number of discoveries, reminding us how little we know about the deep  sea .” The new deep-sea dwelling creatures will never become as familiar to visitors as more visible endemic species, such as the Galapagos penguin, giant  tortoises and marine iguanas. Still, these species hint at the many mysteries dwelling in Earth’s oceans. + Charles Darwin Foundation Via EcoWatch Images via Ocean Exploration Trust/Nautilus Live and Pexels

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30 new marine species found in Galapagos’ deep seas

Earth911 Reader: Recycling Evolution, Plastic Consequences, and Packaging Progress

August 29, 2020 by  
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Earth 911 Reader: Plastic Is In People, Women Will Suffer More From Climate Change, and $46 Billion In Packaging Savings

August 22, 2020 by  
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Atlantic has 10 times the microplastics previously thought

August 20, 2020 by  
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We knew it was bad. But a new study of plastic in the Atlantic Ocean reveals the  pollution  problem is ten times worse than scientists suspected. The study, just published in  Nature Communications , uses data collected in fall 2016. Scientists from the U.K.’s National Oceanography Centre sampled seawater from 12 Atlantic locations, from Britain to the Falklands. Samples include large amounts of  water  from three different depths within the ocean’s top 200 meters. Using spectroscopic imaging, researchers calculated the water’s quantity of polystyrene, polyethylene and polypropylene microparticles. These three microparticle types represent the world’s most common plastics and account for approximately half of global plastic waste. Related: Record high amount of microplastic found on seafloors Scientists’ calculations suggest that the Atlantic contains about 200 million tons of these three  plastics . Previous estimates put the figure at between 17 and 47 million tons, the total amount likely released into the Atlantic Ocean between 1950 and 2015. “Our key finding is that there is an awful lot of very, very small microplastic particles in the upper  Atlantic ocean , much higher than the previous estimate. The amount of plastic has been massively underestimated,” said Katsiaryna Pabortsava, lead author of the study. Microplastics threaten both human  health  and marine life. Scientists have found microplastics in small and large animals alike, from the gooseneck barnacle to humpbacked whales. Even humans now ingest microplastics in water, air and some foods. “We definitely know we’re exposed, there’s no doubt,” said Chelsea Rochman, an ecologist at the University of Toronto in Canada. “We drink it, we breathe it, we eat it.” The problem is new enough that scientific health assessments are only just beginning. The study’s authors hope their findings will encourage policymakers’ to act before it’s too late — if it isn’t already. “Society is very concerned about plastic, for ocean health and human health,” Pabortsava said. “We need to answer fundamental questions about the effects of this plastic, and if it harms  ocean  health. The effects might be serious, but might take a while to kick in at sub-lethal levels.” + Nature Communications Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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Atlantic has 10 times the microplastics previously thought

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