Jason Momoa shaves beard to shine a spotlight on plastic pollution

April 19, 2019 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

When you have 11 million Instagram followers, your simplest move can elicit thousands of comments. When you’re ready for a major transformation, such as shaving off the beard you’ve been growing since 2012, you can pair the shearing with a save-the-world message. So we understand a viral video of Jason Momoa, beloved Game of Thrones star, shaving off his beastly beard while talking about plastic pollution . The 39-year-old actor’s call for action is part of a growing wave of awareness of the 19 billion pounds of plastic waste  winding up in the world’s oceans every year. “I just want to use this to bring awareness that plastics are killing our planet,” he said before continuing with a solution . “There’s only one thing that can really help our planet and save our planet as long as we recycle. That’s aluminum .” Then, he took a long, refreshing sip from a can of water. Somebody send the man a refillable bottle, please! The canned water is still shrouded in mystery. It seems to be a promotion involving the Ball Corporation, but exactly what the product is and whether Game of Thrones fans and other thirsty people can buy it has not yet been revealed. Related: Plastic pollution is causing reproductive problems for ocean wildlife Fan feedback so far centers on discussion of Momoa’s hotness with or without a beard. Some fans also seem to be contemplating the plastic issue. In Grist’s popular advice column, Ask Umbra , they’ve addressed this problem many times. Aluminum, Umbra has reported, is a mixed bag. Manufacturing the cans requires bauxite mining (not good), but it can be recycled endlessly and is valuable to recyclers (great). If the aluminum has a high recycled content, it’s generally a good choice. However, it is not the best. Umbra said, “None of the single-use beverage containers out there, with their raw material consumption and shipping impacts and less-than-optimal recycling rates, can hold a candle to a sturdy bottle you can rinse out and use ad infinitum.” Via Huffington Post , Grist Image via Gage Skidmore

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Jason Momoa shaves beard to shine a spotlight on plastic pollution

Vegan organization receives post-hurricane windfall

April 19, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

The Million Dollar Vegan campaign gave $100,000 to vegan humanitarian aid organization  Chilis on Wheels  to help survivors of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. As reported here in February, 12-year-old activist Genesis Butler made an intriguing proposition to Pope Francis: go vegan for Lent, and Butler and her Million Dollar Vegan campaign would donate a million dollars to the charity of Francis’ choice. Unfortunately, the pope did not accept the offer. With Easter upon us, the project decided to pick a charity and donate $100,000 from the Blue Horizon International Foundation . Puerto Ricans are still recovering from the September 2017 hurricane , which took a death toll of 3,000 people and displaced thousands more. Chilis on Wheels hurried in to serve vegan meals and provide water filters, groceries, hygiene products and solar lanterns. Then, the organization set up a permanent community center in San Juan that has continued to serve vegan food. Butler visited Puerto Rico and attended a Chilis on Wheels cooking workshop for local families. Related: Will the pope go vegan for Lent? “It was very humbling and inspiring to meet people in Puerto Rico who are helping to rebuild their lives after Hurricane Maria,” Butler said of her visit. “It was wonderful to see how vegan food — as a sustainable food choice — can help hurricane survivors in a country where many people have been forced to go hungry.” Butler’s letter to Pope Francis appeared in major newspapers worldwide. In response, Butler received a letter from a Vatican official assuring her that the pope got her letter and was praying for her, but he made no comment about her proposal. Cattle, pigs and chickens around the world let out a collective sigh of disappointment. Still, Butler remains optimistic. “Even though the Pope didn’t agree to go vegan for Lent, I’m really happy that many people in need will still benefit from this campaign, and that we were able to encourage thousands of people to try a vegan diet — to help animals, our planet and our health .” + Million Dollar Vegan + Chilis on Wheels Image via Million Dollar Vegan

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Vegan organization receives post-hurricane windfall

Ocean plastic waste has been a problem since the 1950s, reveals 60-year plankton study

April 19, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

A 60-year study on plankton has revealed the dark truth about the history of ocean plastic waste . The study shows how plastics have been polluting our oceans since at least the 1950s and how the problem has steadily gotten worse in the six decades since. The first documented case of ocean plastic waste was fishing twine discovered in the 1950s. The next mention is a carrier bag in 1965. From there, the data shows that plastic waste significantly increased between 1970 and the early 2000s, with fishing lines being the main source of recovered waste. Related: Microplastic rain: new study reveals microplastics are in the air The study, which spanned 60 years, was published in an edition of Nature Communications . Researchers used a device to gather pelagic plankton in the ocean and covered an area over 6.5m nautical miles in the process. The plankton are an important source of information on water quality and serve as a primary food source for whales. As they towed the device across the ocean, the scientists recorded whenever their equipment encountered ocean waste . The depth at which they towed the device was around 7 meters, which is where many marine organisms reside. A good portion of the plastic waste was uncovered in the North Sea, though the researchers say the problem is widespread. “The message is that marine plastic has increased significantly and we are seeing it all over the world, even in places where you would not want to, like the Northwest Passage and other parts of the Arctic,” marine biologist Clare Ostle shared. While the numbers are alarming, there are some positive trends in the data. Ostle noted that the frequency of plastic waste has leveled off in recent years. This is likely due to an increased awareness on behalf of the public. It should be noted, however, that the numbers do not represent how much plastic is in the ocean at a given time and simply give us an insight into broader trends. While the numbers are down, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done if we want to make a lasting impact on ocean plastic waste . Via The Guardian Image via Flockine

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Ocean plastic waste has been a problem since the 1950s, reveals 60-year plankton study

A sustainable meal plan filled with recipes for Earth Day

April 19, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Not all food is created equal, and not all foods are healthy for the planet. You’ve seen the headlines. Manufacturing plants suck up water, pollute with chemicals and damage the surrounding landscape. Raising cattle and other livestock is also associated with earth-damaging consequences. Most environmentalists agree that plant-based products offer the best balance of nutrition and sustainability. Earth Day is right around the corner, so it’s the perfect time to focus on foods that show our love for the planet. If you’d like to curate a meal plan incorporating plant-based ingredients, seasonal goods and limited waste, here are some recipes to inspire you. Breakfast Spring offerings make for a delightfully fresh breakfast. Eggs with asparagus and spinach 1. Broil a thick slice of rustic or sourdough bread on both sides. 2. Create an indent in the center of the bread. If applicable to your diet, add prosciutto around the edges of the bread. Fill the indent with a layer of cheese (your choice) and a generous layer of spinach . Arrange small, tender pieces of asparagus around the center. Then, gently break an egg into the spinach nest. 3. Cook at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes until the eggs are set and the vegetables are tender. Add a side of sliced apricot or avocado . Related: 12 delicious and crowd-pleasing vegan brunch ideas Lunch Vegetable-waste bowl Well that doesn’t sound very appetizing, does it? Maybe we should call it, “Keep from Wasting Vegetables Bowl” instead. The goal here is to use up whatever is in the fridge , so dig deep. 1. Roast whatever veggies you have. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots, peppers, turnip, parsnip, asparagus, beans … all of them! Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake in the oven until tender. 2. In the meantime, make a cup of your favorite grain. Quinoa, brown rice, white rice, buckwheat, barley, farrow or amaranth are great options. 3. Mix it all together, and stir in your choice of beans : pinto, kidney, garbanzo, black, etc. Top with cheese, a squirt of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil or your preferred dressing. Dinner Salad starter Spring is a great time to enjoy young greens and cool-weather lettuce along with other seasonal fruits and vegetables. There are so many combinations to try, so feel free to mix it up any way you like! 1. Start with a base of arugula, green and red lettuce, romaine and/or spinach. 2. With your leafy greens in place, choose your veggies. Many of your favorites are likely in season right now. Consider beets (shredded), carrots of all colors (shredded or sliced), radishes (thinly sliced), peas (snow, snap and garden) and broccoli florets. 3. Add some fruit. Many people forget to consider fruit when putting together a salad , but early-season strawberries and spring apricots add the perfect zing to the mix. 4. For dressing, go with a vinaigrette. They are plant-based and easy to whip up, plus there are many flavor options to create. For example, a soy/mustard combination includes: 1/4 cup tamari 1/4 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar 2 tsp Dijon mustard While a traditional berry vinaigrette is made up of: 4 large strawberries or 1/3 cup raspberries or other berry of choice 1 tbsp red wine vinegar 2 tbsp agave syrup Pinch of freshly ground black pepper 5. Top with nuts. The options are endless here too. Shaved almonds, cashews, roasted filberts, pine nuts and sunflower seeds are all excellent choices. Related: How to make a meal out of leftover veggies Easy homemade dinner pizza If you are avoiding grains, create a cauliflower-crust instead of the one here. Choose any toppings that make you happy, but this recipe focuses on light spring eats. Note: The dough performs better if made the day before. Crust: 2 tbsp agave 3 cups warm water 2 packages dry active yeast 7 cups of flour 1/4 cup olive oil 3 tbsp kosher salt 1. Combine agave, yeast and water in a bowl, and allow it to sit until it becomes foamy, about five to 10 minutes. 2. Stir in the flour, olive oil and salt. 3. Knead the mixture until smooth. 4. Coat the dough with oil, place in a bowl and cover, allowing it to rise until it doubles, about one hour. 5. Divide the dough into four balls and lay these on a sheet with space between them. Cover and refrigerate overnight. You can still use the dough without this rest period with pretty good results. 6. Warm your grill. You will be using indirect heat, so heat it up and then turn off half the flames on a gas grill or move coals to one side for charcoal. 7. Roll out one ball of dough and transfer it to the grill. Make sure your toppings are prepared and nearby. Stay close to your pizza while it cooks. Transfer the stretched-out dough to the grill. Don’t worry if it is not perfectly rounded; the handmade look adds a rustic appeal. Cook the dough for one or two minutes, then flip. Move it to indirect heat for an additional one to two minutes. Continue moving it back and forth, flipping frequently until it is bubbled and cooked through. 8. Add your favorite cheese and other toppings, and continue to cook the pizza until the cheese melts, keeping it off of direct high heat. The options for toppings are endless, but our favorite combination is toasted pine nuts, spinach, fresh basil, garlic and olives. Fresh spring flavors include arugula, fennel bulbs, peas, artichoke hearts and asparagus. Dessert Vegan strawberry ice cream No meal is complete without dessert, especially when you’re honoring the Earth. We’ll give credit to our friends over at Loving it Vegan for this sweet, plant-based option. Enjoy! 1 14oz (400ml) can coconut cream 1 14oz (400ml) can coconut milk 1/2 cup (100g) white granulated sugar 1/4 cup (60ml) maple syrup 1 cup (232g) strawberry puree 1 tbsp strawberry extract 1/2 tsp salt 1. Add a can of coconut milk , a can of coconut cream, sugar and maple syrup to a pot. 2. Bring that to a simmer, stirring constantly. 3. As soon as it simmers, remove the pot from the heat and add in strawberries puree, salt and strawberry extract. 4. Blend everything until smooth. 5. Next, put the mixture into a storage container and place into the fridge to chill overnight. If you are in a hurry, place the mixture in the freezer for an hour or so. 6. Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker until it reaches your desired consistency. This can take about 20 minutes to 45 minutes. The best way to celebrate the planet is through your stomach. With the right ingredients, that’s a win-win! Images via Shutterstock

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A sustainable meal plan filled with recipes for Earth Day

Scientists find a way to produce renewable energy from snow

April 18, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Solar panels have trouble producing renewable energy whenever it snows. With winters expected to increase in severity because of  climate change , generating power in the cold, snowy season will likely become a major issue in years to come. Fortunately, scientists from UCLA just invented a way to produce energy from snow. The researchers call their handy device a snow-based triboelectric nanogenerator (snow TENG). It works by generating power via static electricity. As explained by the lead scientist on the project, Richard Kaner, static electricity happens when a material that likes to give up electrons comes into contact with a material that captures them. Snow naturally carries a positive charge and gives electrons away freely, making it the perfect material to generate power. According to UCLA , the snow TENG is made out of silicone, which has a negative charge and actively captures positive electrons. Once the material gains positive electrons, the device gathers those charges and turns them into electricity. “The device can work in remote areas, because it provides its own power and does not need batteries,” Kaner shared. Kaner noted that the device does much more than produce renewable energy . The snow TENG can also calculate snow fall averages and tell you wind speed and direction. Kaner and his team hope to integrate their device into existing solar panels, which would give homeowners the option of producing plentiful energy throughout the year, not just in the warmer seasons. In addition to generating electricity, the device can also be used to track performance in winter sports. The TENG can monitor things like jumping, walking or running and can be easily added to the bottom of shoes given its flexibility. With further development, it is possible that the snow TENG will lead to other athletic monitoring devices that are completely self-powered. It is unclear when Kaner and his team plan to make their device available to the larger public. They produced the prototype using a 3D printer , an electrode and some silicone, making it one of the cheapest renewable energy devices on the market. + UCLA Via Gizmodo Image via Pixabay

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Scientists find a way to produce renewable energy from snow

New York is curbing food waste and helping people in need with a new initiative

April 17, 2019 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

New York is making important strides toward reducing food waste and greenhouse gas emissions. The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, recently agreed to a new food waste initiative with the state legislature that will recycle scraps and send wholesome food to people in need. The new law is called the Food Donation and Food Scrap Recycling Act. Once the bill goes into practice, all surplus food items will be donated to local food shelters while any scraps will be sent to recycling centers, preventing a large portion of food from entering the waste stream. Related: 5 simple ways to reduce your food waste right now Food waste is a growing concern in the United States. According to NRDC , experts estimate that around 40 percent of food ends up in the waste bin on an annual basis. In New York City, this statistic is particularly alarming given that there are close to 2.5 million people in the city who struggle to find food. Food comprises around 18 percent of solid waste, most of which ends up in landfills across the country. Food breaks down easily in the landfill , but the process results in methane gas. You also have to account for wasting all the energy it took to create that food, including water and labor. Governor Cuomo hopes that the new bill will help prevent the majority of food waste from ending up in the landfill. The law will require facilities that create food waste to mark any excess for donation. Once things are in full swing, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation believes that it will save around 250,000 tons of food on a yearly basis. The top priority of the new law is to feed people in need. Following that, any food scraps will be donated for animal feed, followed by industrial uses — such as oil rendering — and composting . The new food waste law will not go into effect in New York City , because there is a similar law already in place. Via NRDC Image via Jasmin S.

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New York is curbing food waste and helping people in need with a new initiative

Microplastic rain: new study reveals microplastics are in the air

April 17, 2019 by  
Filed under Green

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

Over 6,000 employees demand Amazon take climate change seriously

April 16, 2019 by  
Filed under Business, Green

This month, more than 6,000 employees signed onto a letter  demanding Amazon distance itself from big oil companies and develop a more aggressive timeline to reduce its carbon footprint . Without acknowledging the letter’s demands, Amazon spokespersons pointed to a recent blog post promising that the company would release its carbon footprint data in 2019 and a vague plan to reach 100 percent renewable energy at data centers by an unspecified date. Amazon, one of the most profitable companies in the world, has a massive carbon footprint, because it ships millions of products throughout the world. It also maintains enormous cloud data and artificial intelligence centers, which need to be powered and cooled 24/7. According to Amazon’s website , the data services help companies like BP and Dutch Royal Shell “find oil faster” and reduce oil prices. Related: Amazon plans to reach net-zero carbon use by 2030 The employees argue that such partnerships, largely undisclosed even to the company’s sustainability team, demonstrate a disingenuous commitment to reducing Amazon’s carbon footprint. Like many tech companies, Amazon offers employees stock benefits. In an unprecedented move, the employees used their power as shareholders to develop a sustainability resolution, which garnered 6,033 signatures by April 12. Such pressure from stakeholders typically comes from outside investors and rarely from employees. The New York Times called the action “the largest employee-driven movement related to climate change to ever take place in such an influential tech company.” Rajit Iftikhar, a software engineer at Amazon, told the Times, “We want to make Amazon a better company. It is a natural extension of that.”’ Amazon’s board typically votes on proposed shareholder resolutions in April. Via New York Times Image via Robert Scoble

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Over 6,000 employees demand Amazon take climate change seriously

7 Ways to live an eco-friendly life while staying healthy

April 16, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Being committed to sustainable living is all about balance. While staying healthy is a top priority, you also need to think about living as eco-friendly as possible. Balancing these two commitments can be challenging, but there are plenty of ways you can live an eco-friendly life while keeping yourself in top shape and all it will cost you is a little time and energy. From enjoying the benefits of fresh air to changing the way you eat, here are a few ways you can bring balance to your life and the environment. Take advantage of quality air This might seem a pretty obvious way to respect the environment while staying healthy, but how often do you enjoy the benefits of fresh air? If you live in an area with low air pollution, then you can pick any time of day to go on a walk around your neighborhood. If your city’s air quality is poor, you can still enjoy clean air by going on walks in the early morning hours. Related: Keep your pantry stocked with these staples for a plant-based diet Indoor air quality is also a concern. You can improve the quality of your indoor air by avoiding harsh cleaning chemicals. When painting rooms, you should stay away from paints that have ammonia and other dangerous chemicals. Not only does improving the quality of air help the environment, but it can also keep you healthy. Use alternative ways to get to work Pollution from automobiles is a growing concern for many communities. If you have the means, purchasing a vehicle that does not emit harmful toxins into the air is one way to fight the problem. But for most of us, using alternative ways to get to work can greatly reduce the amount of air pollution that gets pumps into our cities. There are plenty of ways to make your commute better for the environment and your health. If you live close to your work, start walking to your place of employment, even if it is only a few times a week. If your work is outside of walking distance, consider riding a bike. Walking or cycling to work is a great way to help the environment, plus you can always count it towards your daily workout. If riding or walking is not an option, you might try ride sharing. Carpooling to work can greatly reduce air pollution caused by automobiles and can save you gas money to boot. Switch up your diet The types of food we consume have lasting effects on the environment, both good and bad, not to mention the impact they have on your overall health. As a rule of thumb, try eating things that are fresh and locally sourced. Fresh foods generally contain less preservatives and harmful ingredients, while supporting local farmers is great for the environment and your local community. When it comes to foods that you should avoid, canned items are at the top of the list. This includes most bottled beverages. These drinks are less healthy than water and contribute to the worldwide problem of plastic waste. If you consistently drink water, consider investing in a quality water filter instead of relying on bottled water. Add some sunshine to your workouts Going outside for your workout is a great way to stay healthy and be good to the environment . Exercising outdoors helps the environment because you are not using indoor equipment that requires electricity to run. It can also be easier to workout in an outdoor setting as you are not stuck on a treadmill or bike the entire time. There are also practical benefits to working out in the sun. The sun is an excellent source of vitamin D, which a lot of people lack. If you do choose to exercise in the sun’s rays, you should do it between sunrise and 10 in the morning. After that, you run the risk of being exposed to high levels of UV rays , which are not good for your skin. Spend time gardening Gardening is a great way to add more fresh air, exercise and sunlight into your daily routine. Better yet, it is also good for the environment. Gardening is ideal if you have some space in your backyard, but you can still plant a garden if you live in an apartment. Just make sure you do plenty of research before you plant anything, as certain types of plants will only grow in specific climates. If starting a garden at your house is not an option, another alternative is to join a community garden (or start one yourself). Community gardens are a great way to meet new people and share gardening ideas. The biggest benefit, of course, is that you get your own little plot to grow whatever you like, further contributing to sustainable living in your community. Via  Blue and Green Tomorrow ,  Life Hack Images via Burst , skeeze , silviarita , tookapic , raawpixel

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Deforestation in tropical countries linked to European diets in new study

April 16, 2019 by  
Filed under Green

New research shows that European diets are linked to deforestation  in tropical countries. Scientists from Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology tracked carbon emissions that are produced from tropical deforestation and found that one-sixth of the harmful emissions are related to European diets. “In effect, you could say that the EU imports large amounts of deforestation every year,” lead researcher Martin Persson shared. Related: Cargill announces plan to reduce deforestation from cocoa Persson noted that the European Union needs to address the issue of deforestation if it wants to meet previously announced climate goals. The study showed that deforestation contributed around 2.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide over a four-year span, from 2010 to 2014. Most of the cleared land was used for crops and pastures, with cattle and oilseed farming leading the way in production. A good portion of the deforestation was driven by international demand. The researchers estimated that anywhere between 29 to 39 percent of the carbon emissions could be traced to trade, which is directly linked to consumption in several EU nations. Fortunately, some countries in the EU are cracking down on imports tied to deforestation. France, for example, initiated a plan to discourage such imports over the next 10 years. Investors have also issued warnings to companies that produce soy, criticizing them for participating in deforestation for the sake of making money. Although some countries are fighting back, Persson and his team do not believe the efforts will stop companies from clearing land. Part of the issue is that there are few regulations that actually prevent countries from importing products that are linked to deforestation. Persson also believes that nations should provide better support for local farmers who are practicing sustainability . Moving forward, Persson hopes more studies will be done that expand on his work and show stronger links between imported products and deforestation. With more data to support their conclusions, Persson believes that countries can work together to put an end to deforestation before it is too late. The study will be published in the journal Global Environmental Change in May 2019. Via Mongabay Image via Shutterstock

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Deforestation in tropical countries linked to European diets in new study

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