New study suggests it’s time to replace modern, grassy lawns

October 12, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

The lush green lawns surrounding many homes, businesses, parks and other outdoor spaces might not be the greatest idea, according to Australian scientist Maria Ignatieva and Swedish scientist Marcus Hedblom. In a new study published in the journal  Science , the urban ecologists suggested that we need to rethink the modern lawn in favor of more sustainable options. Ignatieva and Hedblom said that the negative environmental consequences of green lawns far outweigh the natural benefits, and we need to start exploring new forms of groundcover. The scientists claimed that the amount of water , fertilizer and mowing that lawns require is a problem — especially when we use gas-powered mowers that emit carbon monoxide and other toxins into the air. The use of those mowers negates any positives of the lawn pulling carbon dioxide out of the air. Related: How to transform your wasteful grassy space into a food forest garden The ecologists also pointed out that globally, lawns occupy an amount of land equivalent to the area of England and Spain combined. In arid regions of the U.S., lawns are responsible for 75 percent of household water consumption. To make matters worse, weed killers and fertilizers used to keep lawns pristine find their way to the water table. If you think artificial turf is a solution, think again. Turf does not contribute to carbon sequestration — the process of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere — and it also causes problems with water runoff. It is also possible that it could poison local water tables. Ignatieva and Hedblom said that some communities have started allowing natural meadows to grow instead of lawns. In places like Berlin, residents have allowed the landscape to grow wild. These ideas are a step in the right direction, but the ecologists suggest the need for more scientific research into some plant types that could develop into naturally short grass alternatives that don’t require a lot of water for survival. The study also urges people to change their way of thinking when it comes to their lawns. + Science Mag Via Phys.org Images via Daniel Watson

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New study suggests it’s time to replace modern, grassy lawns

Virgin Atlantic plane takes flight with fuel from recycled waste

October 11, 2018 by  
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A Virgin Atlantic plane flying from Orlando to London  has become the first commercial flight to use jet fuel partly made from recycled industrial waste. The Boeing 747 — which landed at London’s Gatwick Airport last week — used a blend of normal jet fuel plus ethanol made from waste gases. “This fuel takes waste , carbon-rich gases from industrial factories, and gives them a second life so that new fossil fuels don’t have to be taken out of the ground,” Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson told The Guardian . He added that this flight was a big step toward making the new fuel blend part of the mainstream. Boeing is proud of our partnership with @VirginAtlantic and @LanzaTech on this historic 747 flight to use biofuel made from waste carbon gas from a steel mill. #Boeing ‘s partnership dates to aviation’s first biofuel test flight, which Virgin flew 10 years ago. pic.twitter.com/DnJGo8lCOh — Boeing Airplanes (@BoeingAirplanes) October 3, 2018 The flight had a fuel blend that included 5 percent of recycled waste fuel. However, Virgin Atlantic said that the sustainable element could form up to 50 percent of the blend in the future. It added that this could contribute to significantly reducing the carbon footprint of airlines. U.S. company LanzaTech produced the fuel, and it claimed that the new blend could eventually supply up to 20 percent of the fuel in the aviation industry. If that does happen, that could lead to a 65 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional fuel. Branson said that working with LanzaTech will help his company reduce its carbon emissions while also supporting industry in the United Kingdom. Virgin Atlantic is trying to get the U.K. government support to build three plants in the country by 2025. It is also asking for financial backing for LanzaTech, so the company can produce up to 125 million gallons of the jet fuel blend each year. Jennifer Holmgren, LanzaTech’s chief executive, said that her company has shown that recycling waste carbon emissions into jet fuel is possible. She added that we should look at waste carbon as an opportunity, because it can be  reused again and again. Via The Guardian Image via Joao Carlos Medau

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Virgin Atlantic plane takes flight with fuel from recycled waste

Maya Bay closes following extensive environmental damage from tourists

October 11, 2018 by  
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The Thai beach that Leonardo DiCaprio made famous in his 2000 movie The Beach is closing indefinitely thanks to the damage caused by millions of tourists . Maya Bay, one of the most popular destinations in the world, is a small beach with silky sands and crystal blue water surrounded by cliffs on Ko Phi Phi Leh island. But over the years, it has sustained such massive environmental damage from pollution that authorities have closed it for at least a year. The movie may not have been a hit for DiCaprio, but the film’s location became so popular for tourists that up to 5,000 people and 200 boats visited each day. Thai authorities had originally announced they would close Maya Bay for four months. They have extended the plan to at least a year because of the extent of the destruction. Litter, boats and sunscreen have caused so much pollution, it has destroyed over 80 percent of the coral around the bay. Related: University of Queensland wants to drop “bommies” on the Great Barrier Reef “We have evaluated each month and found out that the ecological system was seriously destroyed from tourism of up to 5,000 people daily,” said Songtam Suksawang, the director of Thailand’s national parks department. “It’s very difficult to remedy and rehabilitate because its beach was completely destroyed as well as the plants which cover it.” He added that there had been evidence of damage to Maya Bay for years, but the government was reluctant to close it down because of the amount of annual revenue it generates — 400 million baht (about $12.3 million). Thailand’s department of national parks, wildlife and plant conservation has said it will not lift the tourism restriction until the ecosystem “fully recovers to a normal situation.” According to The Guardian, this is a relief for local environmental activists who had argued that closing for just four months wasn’t enough. It will take years for the reef to be fully restored, because coral only grows about half a centimeter each year. Worapoj Lomlin, Maya Bay park chief, said the parks agency has already planted more than 1,000 corals to help rehabilitate the reefs, and the team will continue to expand the project. Via The Guardian Image via Joan and Mohd Fazlin Mohd Effendy Ooi

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Maya Bay closes following extensive environmental damage from tourists

Greek island Tilos is showing the world how to go 100% renewable

October 11, 2018 by  
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The Greek island of Tilos is nearing 100 percent energy independence using only renewable sources with the help of EU funding. The investment, which has helped the island establish the TILOS (Technology Innovation for the Local Scale, Optimum Integration of Battery Energy Storage) Project, will make the Greek landmass the first island in the Mediterranean to achieve energy independence using only renewable energy. The small island, more specifically located in the Aegean Sea, is home to merely 500 people. The population doubles during the summer months when the beautiful seascape is home to a flood of tourists from all around the globe. Despite renewable integration on such a small scale, however, the island is gaining international recognition for the adoption of a solar-and-wind-based energy system that has proven fault-free. Related: This massive Sun Ray could sustainably power 220 homes in Melbourne Originally, the island received its electricity through an underwater cable connected to the adjacent island of Kos. The neighbor’s diesel power plant proved unreliable because of tectonic activity that led to power outages for both islands. Aside from problem of being fossil fuel -dependent, the existing power grid’s blackouts were disrupting the island’s main income source — tourism. The hybrid system taking over the island’s energy needs includes an 800-kW wind turbine and a 160-kW solar photovoltaic system. Together with a 2.4 MWh capacity battery storage, islanders and their sight-seeing guests will benefit from a consistent energy supply that will operate regardless of weather conditions or time of day. Experts say the project is so efficient that the oil-powered island of Kos will soon be importing energy from its small neighbor instead of supplying it. According to project partners, TILOS “will set the foundations for the future development and replication of similar hybrid systems in island regions and remote communities facing energy-related problems.” Other countries with islands participating in the project are Germany (Pellworm), Portugal (La Graciosa) and France (Corsica). A flyer for the German-based TILOS extension explained, “The overall idea is to create a special platform that will enable technological know-how transfer between islands, by also exploiting the experience gained from the smart grid system of Pellworm, and that will designate new opportunities for the development of similar systems in other islands.” The island’s new system will start by supplying  renewable energy  at 70 percent of Tilos’ needs, and it will reach 100 percent in the near future — undoubtedly serving as a successful model for islands in the region and hopefully worldwide. + TILOS Via Treehugger and PhysOrg Images via Chris Cherf and Ulrich Scherf

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Greek island Tilos is showing the world how to go 100% renewable

Walkers launches free recycling program amid growing pressure from critics

October 8, 2018 by  
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An online social media campaign calling for popular U.K. chip manufacturer Walkers to adopt a more sustainable packaging method has succeeded. After hundreds of thousands of empty potato crisp packages were sent back to Walkers by environmental critics, the PepsiCo-owned company is launching a free recycling initiative to collect and repurpose the plastic packaging. Initially, Walkers intended to adopt a better packaging solution by 2025, but pressure from consumers has resulted in a momentous decision by company leaders to make the change now. “Our new Walkers recycling initiative starts to tackle this issue right now by repurposing used crisp packets to create everyday items,” announced Ian Ellington, general manager for PepsiCo U.K., on Friday. Starting in December, consumers will be able to deposit any brand of empty chip bags with recycling firm TerraCycle. The company is setting up collection points nationwide as well as a free-of-charge mailing system where users can post their chip bags using a box or envelope. Walkers came under public scrutiny after it was revealed that it produced over 7,000 non-recyclable potato chip packets every minute. These empty bags find their ways into landfills and oceans  at a rate of approximately 6 billion packs a year. Backlash resulted in a highly-publicized plea by the British Royal Mail for chip consumers to stop sending empty bags back to the company (despite their respect for the conservation movement), because the mass mailings were tampering with its service efficiency. Related: Environmental campaign floods UK Royal Mail with empty potato chip bags “We share people’s concerns about the amount of plastic in our environment and are working on a number of both short- and long-term solutions to reduce the impact of our packaging,” Ellington said. Walkers maintains that its packaging is in fact, “technically recyclable, but the issue until now has been that they weren’t being separated or collected for recycling.” However, Recycle Now, the government-funded program created by waste advisory committee Wrap, claims this is not quite the case. The body reports that none of the produced packets are recyclable, and that they should be directed to the waste can, not the recycling bin. Members of the 38 Degrees movement , which includes more than 332,000 petition-signers, will be keeping a close eye on Walkers and its repurposing plans. “We are delighted to hear that Walkers will now be recycling used crisp packets,” said David Babbs, executive director of the online campaign. “It is proof that public pressure can shift big companies to do more to prevent waste. But let’s not forget that there is still more for Walkers to do if they want to keep the public on side. The public will be watching to make sure the new recycling scheme isn’t just a PR stunt. And, most importantly, they have to make their crisp packets fully recyclable far sooner than 2025.” Via The Guardian and 38 Degrees Image via Caitriana Nicholson

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Starbucks unveils store built from 29 recycled shipping containers in Taiwan

October 8, 2018 by  
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Starbucks Taiwan will debut its first Asia Pacific store that is built from recycled shipping containers in the Hualien Bay Mall. The mall has yet to be opened to the public, but it is situated in a touristic area of the city that is well known for its cuisine and features breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and neighboring mountains. The store spans two stories totaling 320 square meters (approximately 3,445 square feet) and features comfortable seating areas where guests are invited to congregate over a cup of Starbucks’ finest. Starbucks is the first retailer to claim space in the newly built mall. It does so using 29 shipping containers that have been refashioned by famous Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma, who has his name signed to two Starbucks store designs already: the Fukuoka branch in Japan and the upcoming Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Tokyo. Related: Starbucks ditches plastic straws for the environment Inspired by a combination of Chinese architecture and nature, the Taiwan edition receives patrons under traditional bucket arches connoting the overhanging foliage of coffee trees . Inside, the store features warm decor and a comfortable seating area spanning two stories that Kuma decided to stack, creating a much taller space that allows for natural sunlight to enter through skylights installed throughout. These skylights illuminate a brightly illustrated mural at one end of the store, designed as a tribute to the vibrant Hualien culture. The wall mural tames the geometric roughness of the cargo containers, creating a sociable space alongside aboriginal Amis figures whose heritage run deep within the city’s culture. At the other end of the store, visitors are invited to enjoy the beautiful mountain landscape that forms a picturesque backdrop to the port city. Related: A disused railway will become a sustainable green corridor in Taiwan The project is part of Starbucks’ recently announced “Starbucks Greener Stores.” The initiative is aimed at building sustainable stores, which will be designed and operated using reclaimed materials . The Taiwan store joins a suite of locations also built from shipping containers, 45 of which can be found in the U.S. already. The Seattle coffee-chain prefabricates the models offsite before delivery, allowing the company to occupy spaces not necessarily designed for traditional stores. By avoiding the damaging environmental effects generally output on building sites, Starbucks is committed to minimizing its environmental footprint. + Starbucks Images via Starbucks

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Starbucks unveils store built from 29 recycled shipping containers in Taiwan

LEGO reintroduces Vestas wind turbine set, now made with plant-based plastic

October 3, 2018 by  
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LEGO Group has just released a  LEGO Creator Expert set from the ‘vault’ that focuses on sustainable energy. The company announced its Vestas Wind Turbine creation at New York Climate Week in hopes of encouraging creativity while spreading the word about renewable and sustainable energy sources. The revamped wind turbine set will be the first LEGO set featuring the new plant-based plastic LEGOs, Plants from Plants. LEGO collaborated with Vestas, a leader in sustainable energy, to make the new and improved wind turbine set. Not only does the kit represent renewable energy, but some of the included plant elements are made from a plant-based plastic sourced from sugarcane. This is the first time LEGO has issued a set including pieces from its Plants from Plants initiative, and customers will be able to purchase the wind turbine this coming Black Friday (November 23). Related: LEGO is rolling out its first plant-based plastic pieces The Vestas Wind Turbine set is comprised of 826 pieces and stands 3 feet tall. The wind turbine overlooks a wooded area complete with spruce trees — made in part from sugarcane — as well as a cottage with a working porch light. The set will be available for $200. The toy company plans on using only sustainable materials in core products and product packaging by 2030. In addition to this commitment, LEGO has also pledged to become eco-friendly in the production of its plastic bricks. To that end, LEGO incorporates wind power in the production process and generates as much power from sustainable sources as it does from traditional ones. “We strive to make a positive impact on the environment and are committed to climate action and to use sustainable materials in products and packaging,” said Tim Brooks, vice president of environmental responsibility at LEGO. “This wind turbine celebrates our first steps in bringing these ambitions to life, and we hope it will inspire builders to learn about renewable energy.” + LEGO Images via LEGO

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LEGO reintroduces Vestas wind turbine set, now made with plant-based plastic

Environmental campaign floods UK Royal Mail with empty potato chip bags

September 28, 2018 by  
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The U.K. postal service has implored its public to stop mailing empty potato chip bags addressed without an envelope after a surge in chip bag mailings was encountered by its courier offices. The mailings are part of an environmental campaign urging the most popular brand of British crisps, Walkers, to reevaluate its plastic packaging. Walkers, owned by PepsiCo, is being met with a petition signed by more than 310,000 people and an online campaign that is sending unknown numbers of empty bags right to the company’s doorstep. Twitter is buzzing about the environmental activists , who have been posting pictures of themselves mailing the empty packets of chips through the Royal Mail service. The rebels are using the hashtag #PacketInWalkers to comment on the company’s latent efforts to revamp its packaging. An emailed statement from a Walkers spokesperson, released by CNN , stated, “We have received some returned packets and recognize the efforts being made to bring the issue of packaging waste to our attention. The returned packets will be used in our research, as we work towards our commitment of improving the recyclability of our packaging.” The company has announced that it plans to achieve plastic-free packaging by 2025. . @walkers_crisps 2025 is too long to wait for you to use plastic free packaging. It’s just not good enough. You produce 4 billion packs per year. I’m sending these back to you so you can deal with your own waste. #PacketInWalkers pic.twitter.com/S13uiZXpdx — Jarred Livesey (@Jaz_Livesey) September 22, 2018 For many campaign participants, such as Jarred Livesey, the commitments are vague and inadequate. “2025 is too long to wait for you to use plastic free packaging. It’s just not good enough,” he commented on Twitter last week. Despite PepsiCo working on a pilot project in the U.S., India and Chile that features compostable packaging , consumers are adamant about stopping the polluters as soon as possible. Related: UK’s Co-op to ditch single-use plastic bags for biodegradable bags Lisa Ann Pasquale went a step further in her Twitter commentary, suggesting, “What if — instead of buying crisps and posting the packages back to @walkers_crisps — we just save our planet AND cholesterol levels by not buying crisps… .” Pasquale makes a sound argument, considering the 11 million bags of potato chips Walkers produces daily in order to keep up supply for its spud-loving consumers, who consume approximately 6 billion packs of chips a year. The Royal Mail service is caught in the cross-hairs of this environmental argument. Bound by U.K. law to treat the empty potato chip bags as mail as long as they are properly addressed, there is not much else the national communications carrier can do. “If an item is addressed properly and carries the correct postage, then Royal Mail is obliged by law to handle and deliver the item to the stated address,” a Royal Mail spokesperson told CNN. “If they are taking part in this campaign, we would urge them to put crisp packets in an envelope before posting,” because improperly packaged bags could cause delays or be tossed from the sorting sequence. Via CNN Image via Allen Watkin

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Environmental campaign floods UK Royal Mail with empty potato chip bags

Judge stops bear hunt and returns Yellowstone grizzlies to the endangered list

September 27, 2018 by  
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The hunt for grizzlies in Yellowstone National Park is officially over. This week, a judge ordered that all grizzly bears living in or near the park to be put back on the list of endangered species. The ruling stops the attempts of wildlife officials to issue licenses for those want to hunt the bears, which have been protected from hunting for the past four decades. According to The Guardian , the population of grizzly bears has increased in the last 30 years from around 135 to more than 700 today. While the numbers are improving, grizzlies are only present in four locations in the Rocky Mountains. This has raised concerns about the recovery of grizzlies, as the populations are still isolated from each other. This is one reason why Judge Dana Christensen, who put in a lot of research on the case, decided to put the bears back on the endangered list. As Judge Christensen explained, true recovery means expanding grizzly populations to regions outside of the Rocky Mountains. Related: Montana judge to rule on first grizzly bear hunt in 40 years While environmental groups and activists praised the ruling, wildlife officials were disappointed by the turn of events. Officials in Wyoming recently put in motion plans for a bear hunt later this year. Up to 22 individuals were granted licenses to hunt grizzlies when the season opened. Luckily, citizens and conservationists launched a massive campaign — including the Shoot’em with a Camera, Not A Gun initiative  — to stop the sport hunting of these beautiful creatures. The fight to keep grizzly bears on the endangered list is sadly not over. Experts believe that state officials will attempt to repeal the ruling at a higher court. The pro-hunting organization Safari Club International is also expected to make a push toward making grizzly hunts legal once again. We can only hope that Judge Christensen’s ruling stands the test of time, allowing grizzlies to make a true recovery in the wild. Via The Guardian Image via Neal Herbert / Yellowstone National Park

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Judge stops bear hunt and returns Yellowstone grizzlies to the endangered list

For the first time in 86 years, environmental activists in the UK sentenced to jail

September 27, 2018 by  
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Three men who participated in protests against Cuadrilla at a Lancashire fracking site are being jailed in the U.K. The demonstrators participated in a July 2017 push back that lasted approximately four days. Simon Blevins, 26, and Richard Roberts, 36, received 16-month sentences, while Rich Loizou, 31, will be serving a 15-month sentence. These rulings follow the 12-month sentence doled out to Julian Brock, 47, who pleaded guilty in an earlier hearing and earned an 18-month suspension to his imprisonment. The men are said to be the first environmental protesters in the U.K. to face jail time in 86 years. Blevins, Roberts and Loizou stepped down voluntarily from the protest for various reasons including work and fatigue. Despite this, Judge Robert Latham of the Preston Crown Court prescribed the Frack Free Four sentences from one to two years after they were convicted of being a public nuisance by a jury in August. The judge insisted that the demonstration “caused costs and disruption” to the U.K. shale gas company Cuadrilla Resources and added, “their other victims were the many members of public who were nothing to do with Cuadrilla,” according to the BBC . Related: UK fracking measures could make exploratory drilling “as easy as building a garden wall” The four men blocked the entry of a convoy headed into the Lancashire site by climbing on top of the truck, which was transporting drilling equipment. The protest lasted just under 100 hours and was aided by supporters who supplied the quartet with food, water and blankets. I’m speechless that four comrades have been sent to jail for an anti-fracking protest at Preston New Road in July 2017. They stood on top of the fracking trucks for 3 days waving flags and banners. This is wholly disproportionate. #FrackFreeFour pic.twitter.com/UwBo9YKsAw — Robbie Gillett (@RobbieGillett) September 26, 2018 “As the world’s leading scientists are about to issue their latest warning on the existential threat fossil fuels pose to our living world, these Lancashire protesters deserve our gratitude, not a prison term,” Executive Director of Greenpeace U.K. John Sauven said in an online statement . Still, the judge maintained that the four “provide a risk of re-offending.” He added, “Each of them remains motivated by unswerving confidence that they are right. Even at their trial they felt justified by their actions.” A report by The Guardian  determined that the men are probably the first environmental activists in 86 years to be reprimanded with jail time. In 1932, a mass trespass in Derbyshire saw five men imprisoned over a “right to roam” protest on private land. Still, the group is not dissuaded from its mission. “Some may view us as victims, but we refuse to be victimized by this,” Blevins said in a statement to Climate Home News . “The real victims will be future generations suffering preventable disasters caused by climate change . Our friends and fellow campaigners outside will continue to fight for a ban on fracking and for a just transition to a renewable and democratically owned energy system.” The Cuadrilla company, which has just been accorded a license to open a second well at the New Preston Road site in Lancashire, has been met with a high volume of protesters. More than 300 people have been arrested by police at the fracking pad since January 2017. While fracking is banned or suspended in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the U.K. government has administered Cuadrilla the drilling permits needed for its operations in England. Despite the company’s payments to Lancaster residents in the area and the jailing of the Frack Free Four, it seems that the high-profile dissent over the Preston New Road fracking site is still gaining momentum. + Frack Free Four Via BBC , The Guardian ,  EcoWatch , Climate Home News , Greenpeace Images via  Zbynek Burival and Shutterstock

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For the first time in 86 years, environmental activists in the UK sentenced to jail

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