Why Nature’s Path went ‘regenerative organic’

May 21, 2020 by  
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Why Nature’s Path went ‘regenerative organic’ Heather Clancy Thu, 05/21/2020 – 00:46 The term “regenerative agriculture” has become two of the biggest buzzwords in nature-based climate solutions. But how many farms and food companies can say they follow both regenerative and organic practices? Canadian cereal and snack company Nature’s Path — the largest organic breakfast and snack company in North America — hopes to get more agricultural organizations focused on the nuances of those adjectives.  In March, its 5,000-acre Legend Organic Farm in Saskatchewan became the largest yet to be certified as part of the Regenerative Organic Certified program, organized by the Regenerative Organic Alliance . It’s one of just 30 farms operating with that label. The company created a limited edition oatmeal to draw attention to the certification, which it started selling on Earth Day. Because Legend follows organic farming principles, it already practiced many processes often mentioned as regenerative. The main change the farm made over the past two years to receive Regenerative Organic Certified recognition was stepping up its planting and investments in cover crops such as legumes to improve soil fertility and carbon capture, according to Nature Path founder and chairman Arran Stephens.     The idea, at least in part, is to set an example that other farms can follow. “My hope is our farm will become highly successful and will spawn others that want to get in on it,” Stephens told me in late April.  Nature’s Path made the decision to seek the Regenerative Organic Certified designation two years ago, both to enrich its soil for the future and to continue differentiating its brand.  My hope is our farm will become highly successful and will spawn others that want to get in on it. Legend is the only farm that the company owns outright; it is supplied by hundreds of independent farms, who should be able to command a premium from customers such as Nature’s Path for following these practices in the future, according to Dag Falck, the company’s organic program manager.  “It’s a great way to communicate that your organization is practicing on the highest level of organic,” he said. Some investments it took While it takes just one growing season to earn the Regenerative Organic Certified label — unlike the core organic certification, which takes three years to earn — a series of steps are required to participate, notably expanded soil testing capabilities. As part of the program, farms are required to measure levels of Soil Organic Carbon, Soil Organic Matter and Aggregate Stability. Nature’s Path is testing for all of those metrics, along with Active Carbon, Total Soil Carbon and the Microbial Respiration of CO2. While organic farming shuns the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, it doesn’t preclude the use of new technologies or tools. Indeed, Nature’s Path is using a number of new information technologies as part of the program that could offer ideas for others. Among the tools that are playing a role: Tractors that are autosteered using global positioning satellite (GPS) data Satellite maps to monitor growth through the growing season Farming implements such as tine weeders and rotary hoes that help with weeding in preemergent phases while keeping the life within the soil; this allows the farm to reduce its tillage frequency and intensity A new recordkeeping system that can track specific crops back to the field; this is part of the traceability requirements for the certification The company doesn’t currently use precision agriculture technologies, but it eventually could play a role in mapping its soil carbon results, according to the company. According to the World Economic Forum, the average soil carbon level of most farmland is just 1 percent — far below the 3 percent to 7 percent levels they nurtured before being cultivated. It estimates that raising those levels to the low end of that range could sequester 1 trillion tons of CO2. Nature’s Path hasn’t disclosed its current soil levels, but is using this first season to establish a baseline. “We can’t say at this point what we have achieved,” Falck said.  Currently, soil has to be sent to a lab for test — a “fairly costly” process, Falck said, that can take from five to 10 days. The hope is to make more accurate in-person testing available as quickly as possible. Nature’s Path, based in Richmond, British Columbia, was founded in 1985 and became the first organic cereal production in North America five years later. The company is on track to achieve climate neutral status by September.  Pull Quote My hope is our farm will become highly successful and will spawn others that want to get in on it. Topics Food & Agriculture Regenerative Agriculture Organics GreenBiz Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off One requirement of the Regenerative Organics Certified label is a series of tests to gauge soil carbon content. Courtesy of Nature’s Path Close Authorship

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Why Nature’s Path went ‘regenerative organic’

"FORGO" plastic packaging with powder to liquid hand wash

April 8, 2020 by  
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Plastic containers  line nearly every shelf of any health and beauty aisle. To tackle this earth-endangering practice, Stockholm-based design studio Form Us With Love set out to make personal care more sustainable with their first product in this endeavor, FORGO powdered hand soap. Although the design company has launched other product campaigns, including furniture in conjunction with notable icon IKEA, FORGO targets making an impactful change to the personal care industry.  The name FORGO, meaning “to do without,” captures the essence of the hand wash, the first product in what Form us With Love hopes will be an entire line of personal care products. This hand wash is made using the bare essentials, from the ingredients list to the packing materials, embracing minimalism  throughout the process for all the right reasons. Related:  This skincare and natural deodorant is made from apple cider vinegar FORGO is a lightweight and compact powder you mix up at home. During your initial order, the company sends a glass jar with a fill line mark for easy measuring. Your job is simply to open the package, dump the powder into the glass jar, fill with water and shake. In less than a minute, you have a full bottle of foaming hand soap ready to go. When you run low, you can have three more packages sent directly to your home with free shipping throughout Europe and North America. For the initial run, FORGO is only available for these areas, but they hope to expand to other countries in the future. FORGO is produced in a partnership with a Montreal-based lab specializing in natural cosmetics. The result is a product that uses only six essential ingredients over 1%. All ingredients are naturally derived , and all are considered safe by EWG Skin Deep®. Five are COSMOS certified (COSMetic Organic and natural Standard). The scents for the foaming soap are also natural, with the wood scent distilled from timber yard scraps in Canada and the citrus scent distilled from leftover peels and pulp from organic citrus in the Caribbean.  The packaging is also mindful, using only recycled and recyclable paper to contain the powder and ship it, along with the glass jar, which can be recycled and is non-toxic should it end up in a landfill. The steel pump can be returned to the company for proper recycling . The compact packaging reduces waste and produces significantly fewer transport emissions, with 18 packets of FORGO equaling approximately one plastic bottle of a premixed solution. A now fully-funded Kickstarter campaign boosted the initial launch, with the first round of shipments expected summer 2020. + FORGO Images via Jonas Lindström Studio, Fredrik Augustsson, and Anna Heck & Yujin Jiang

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"FORGO" plastic packaging with powder to liquid hand wash

How to make milk alternatives at home

April 8, 2020 by  
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Milk alternatives have become a booming industry. More and more people are choosing plant-based milk alternatives because they can be healthier. These options are also cruelty-free and better for the planet. Plus, in these times when grocery store offerings are sparse, non-dairy milks — or at least the ingredients to make them — are often more readily available and shelf-stable. Here are some tips for making your own milk alternatives , such as oat milk, almond milk, coconut milk and more. Types of plant-based milk Grocery stores typically carry a wide variety of milk substitutes: soy, almond, cashew, hazelnut, oat, rice, coconut, pea-protein and even flax seed. But homemade varieties can be healthier, and during a pandemic when it is hard to come across any milk — vegan or otherwise — making your own plant-based milk could be your only option. Related: How to choose the healthiest, most sustainable milk alternative Advantages of making your own plant-based milk Despite the popularity of brand names, sometimes making homemade non-dairy milk is preferred over store-bought. Consider how COVID-19 has made shopping in the age of social distancing a challenge. Besides, making homemade plant-based milk can save money. You can also control the consistency, flavor and sweetness of the non-dairy milk you make, avoiding unnecessary additives, like oils, thickeners and xantham gum. Homemade milk alternatives also allow you to tailor your recipes for any dietary restrictions. How to make most milk alternatives First, choose your ingredient. If you prefer soy milk, select organic , non-GMO soybeans, as suggested by One Green Planet . For nut milk, select your organic, non-GMO nut of choice, making sure they are raw. The same can be applied to oat, rice, coconut, pea and seeds (sesame or sunflower). These ingredients can all be sourced either online, at stores like Whole Foods or Sprouts or from a local farmer. Thoroughly rinse 2 cups of your ingredient of choice, whether dry soybeans or raw nuts, for example, then let them soak overnight in 5 to 6 cups of water. The next day, remove them from soaking. Discard the water and rinse off the soybeans (or nuts). Next, remove the skins (skip this step if the ingredient of choice has no skins). Add the soybeans (or nuts) to about 6 cups of water in a blender, and blend until smooth. Related: Is almond milk bad for the environment? After blending, strain the blended mixture via a muslin, cheesecloth or fine nut milk bag. Note that twisting permits the squeezing out of more milk from the pulp. After ringing out as much milk as you can, either discard the soybean pulp (in a compost bin) or save the nut pulp. Nut pulp can be frozen for later use in smoothies, pancake batters, oatmeal or granola. Next, place the strained milk in a pot or saucepan. Remember, adding more water determines the thickness and consistency of your milk. For instance, you may add about 1 cup of water to the mixture, or more if you prefer a thinner milk. Bring the mixture to a boil, while frequently stirring to avoid sticking. When at a boil, reduce to medium heat and continue heating or cooking the milk for up to 20 minutes. Make sure to continue to stir often. After the 20-minute span, cool the milk to room temperature. For added taste, stir in cocoa powder, honey or cinnamon while serving. If you want your entire batch of milk to have added flavor, place all of the liquid into a blender and mix in vanilla extract, honey, dates, berries or other fruit. How to make oat milk For oat milk , there is no need for overnight soaking. Rather, you can choose to either soak for just 30 minutes before draining and then blending, as recommended by the Simple Vegan Blog . Or, you can just immediately blend together 1 cup of rolled oats in 4 cups of water for about 30 to 45 seconds before straining. Why under 1 minute? Over-blending can make the oat milk seem slimy in texture, as observed by the Minimalist Baker . Another important adjustment is not boiling nor heating the milk mixture after straining from the pulp — heating will lead to a slimy texture, too. Note that nut milk bags might not work for oats, so try a fine mesh strainer instead. Some folks even go so far as to use a towel or clean T-shirt to strain the milk out of the pulp. How to make coconut milk For coconut milk, the Minimalist Baker recommends using 2 cups of shredded unsweetened coconut. Once you’ve acquired your coconut, blend it in 3 to 4 cups of water, noting that for thicker, creamier milk, less water is best. You’ll still strain the milk with a thin cloth, cheesecloth, nut milk bag or fine mesh strainer. Again, the pulp can be saved for future baking purposes. No need for heating of the strained milk either, just seal in a tight container in the refrigerator. Should you see separation after removing this milk from the refrigerator, simply shake it before use. How to make pea or seed milks For pea milk, Nutramilk follows the same basic methods described above, except there’s no need to boil or heat the strained milk, either. Moreover, pea pulp can be saved for soups or as an added ingredient in just about any dinner recipe. Regarding seeds, Nest and Glow says they must be soaked overnight, but there’s little need to extract skins or boiling the milk. Because they are smaller, their blend time need only be 2 to 3 minutes until finely ground. How to store homemade milk Store your homemade soy, nut, seed or oat milk in an airtight bottle within your refrigerator. It should be good for up to 3 days. Hoping to preserve the milk for longer? Your homemade, plant-based milk can be kept in the freezer for 3 to 5 months. After thawing it, you can choose to also use this homemade milk as a dairy substitute for cooking or baking. Images via Unsplash and Adobe Stock

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Nonprofit plants 80,000 trees in Kenya and Rwanda

March 30, 2020 by  
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The name of global environmental charity One Tree Planted seems excessively modest now, as they’ve just finished planting 80,000 trees in Africa.  Rwanda  got 60,000 new trees, and Kenya got 20,000. In Rwanda, One Tree Planted aimed to boost local farmers’ harvests and incomes by planting coffee seedlings in the Kayonza and Gakenke districts. One Tree partnered with Kula Project to train local farmers in agronomy, technical skills and sustainable practices. Once the  coffee  Arabica seedlings mature, they should provide a sustainable income for up to three decades. This program fits in with a country-led effort to restore 100 million hectares of land in Africa by 2030. One Tree’s work in Kenya aimed to restore part of the Kijabe Forest, which suffers from overgrazing, fires and illegal harvesting. Trees native to this highland mosaic forest, also called Afro-alpine forest, include the African olive and the East African pencil-cedar. Charcoal burning and logging have damaged the forest, eroding soil and frightening people with impending mudslides. Nearly 200,000 people living in the surrounding areas depend on the forest for  water , grazing and wood. Resident wildlife includes leopards, monkeys, dik-diks and buffalo. This work in  Kenya  is part of an ongoing project which uses enrichment planting, avoided  deforestation  and assisted natural regeneration. Enrichment planting means introducing valuable species to degraded forests while retaining existing valuable species and is commonly used in forest management. Avoided deforestation is when “countries receive funding in exchange for literally avoiding and preventing deforestation.” Assisted natural regeneration happens when humans speed up natural processes by planting seedlings and protecting them as they grow. Since its founding in 2014, One Tree Planted has worked in Africa, Asia, North America and South America to restore forests, create jobs and protect  biodiversity . In 2018, the nonprofit planted 1.3 million trees. + One Tree Planted Images via One Tree Planted

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Nonprofit plants 80,000 trees in Kenya and Rwanda

Startup creates compostable, single-serve coffee bags for your busy mornings

February 12, 2020 by  
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Worried about the environmental costs of single-use coffee pods? Steeped Coffee has a game-changing solution for that. The startup has innovated coffee brewing by making it as convenient and simple as steeping a tea bag, only it’s coffee you’re tasting. And once you’ve finished your mug of coffee, you can simply compost the bag and recycle the packaging, which is already made from recycled materials as well. Steeped Coffee’s coffee grounds are nitro-sealed in bags. Because they are nitro-sealed, the coffee grounds stay fresh for months. What’s more, these bags are sustainable, plant-based and dressed in recyclable, compostable packaging. Rather than starting up an energy-intensive machine to brew one cup of coffee, you can steep a Steeped Coffee bag, like one does with tea, to get a quick cup of Joe. The bag needs to steep for just 5 minutes. Related: Biodegradable coffee pods are now available for composting According to the company’s founder and CEO, Josh Wilbur, “Premium coffee roasters have shied away from offering their specialty beans in single-serve packaging because it’s been nearly impossible to keep ground coffee fresh, which quickly ruins the taste. With our nitro-sealed bags, oxygen is replaced with nitrogen, so the coffee stays fresh as if it was ground moments ago.” The startup’s signature specialty coffee is also ethically sourced directly from farmers, and the flavor has earned excellent reviews. With Steeped Coffee bags, there is no need for any machines. That eliminates the noise of traditional coffee-making and minimizes cleanup and waste considerably. While it will certainly work for quick cups of coffee at home, the coffee bags could also work well as single-serve options at hotels and offices as well as an easy way to make coffee while camping. Wilbur was motivated to produce the renewable and compostable nitro-sealed Steeped Coffee bag when he realized that “10 billion unrecyclable coffee pods accumulate in landfills each year — enough to wrap around the Earth more than 110 times if placed side-by-side. Steeped Packs are the easiest way to make a delicious cup of coffee,” devoid of wasted energy and wasted materials. Headquartered in Santa Cruz, California, Steeped Coffee has been gaining recognition for its revolutionary “brewing” method and sustainable packaging. Last year, the company even earned the Best New Product accolade at the Specialty Coffee Expo, the largest annual coffee trade show in North America. + Steeped Coffee Image via Steeped Coffee

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Startup creates compostable, single-serve coffee bags for your busy mornings

10 takeaways from Circularity 19

June 25, 2019 by  
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A few sips from the firehose of insights that spewed from three days of North America’s largest circular economy event.

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10 takeaways from Circularity 19

Minnesota lawmakers to pay homeowners for bee gardens

May 31, 2019 by  
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New legislation is awaiting Minnesota’s Governor Tim Waltz’s approval to provide financial support for homeowners who want to transform their yards into bee-friendly gardens in an effort to help save the endangered species. The bill will allocate $900,000 and will cover up to 75 percent of the expenses associated with transitioning outdoor space into a flowering garden that attracts the indigenous and endangered rusty patch bumble bee. Like most bees, the rusty patch bumble bee population is declining rapidly. It is indigenous to North America and can be identified by a rusty-colored patch on the back of the male worker bees ’ back. The species has declined by 87 percent over the last two decades mainly due to habitat loss, climate change and pesticide use. The majority of grasslands and prairies have been destroyed or fragmented so the bees cannot find sufficient nectar and pollen to live and reproduce. Climate change also plays a roll in their place on the Endangered Species Act because changing weather patterns limit the time frame the bees have to harvest pollen, hibernate and nest. And finally, chemical fertilizers and pesticides absorbed directly from flowering crops or indirectly through pollen, are devastating populations. Related: Last male Sumatran rhino in Malaysia dies States like Michigan, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Wisconsin and Montana have all implemented programs that encourage landowners to attract and host these important pollinators. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends planting flowering plants wherever possible in your yard and patio. Their list of preferred plants includes wild roses and geraniums, milkweeds, thistles, plums, cherries and willows. They also recommend sticking with native plant varieties and removing invasives as soon as possible. Since rusty patch bumble bees nest in the ground– typically in undisturbed soil and rodent burrows– they also recommend that farmers leave some untouched land. As unbowed, brushy and un-tilled areas give the bees a space to live and reproduce. Via The Hill Image via Nottmpictures

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Minnesota lawmakers to pay homeowners for bee gardens

Philippine students must plant 10 trees to graduate, new law says

May 31, 2019 by  
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The Philippine Senate passed a new law passed this month requiring all students to plant 10 trees in order to graduate. The program would total about 525 billion trees planted across one generation of students. The “Graduation Legacy for the Environment Act,” championed by Congressman Gary Alejano encourages inter-generational collaboration and responsibility for the future of the environment. The Act encompasses 12 million elementary school graduates, 5 million high school graduates and half a million college graduates every year . Related: English tree planting challenge will help plant 130,000 trees “While we recognize the right of the youth to a balanced and healthy ecology …there is no reason why they cannot be made to contribute in order to ensure that this will be an actual reality,” said Congressman Gary Alejano. Local nonprofits will assist with the implementation of the new legislation by selecting indigenous tree species and site locations. According to the Act, trees will only be planted in mangroves, existing forests, protected areas, military ranges, abandoned mining sites and urban areas. The nonprofits will also establish nurseries to ensure the stock of trees can keep up with the annual surge in demand. The Philippines is recognized as a highly deforested country. Nearly 25 million acres of forest cover was cut down in just 50 years between 1938 and 1988, primarily for the logging industry. Throughout the entire 20th century, forest cover dropped from 70 percent of land to just 20 percent. Without trees to stabilize the ground and coastline, communities and urban areas are at elevated risk for flooding and landslides. Congressman Alejano is confident that even if only 10 percent of the trees survive, the widespread planting will result in at least 525 million additional trees. Furthermore, students will learn the valuable lesson that they must be part of the solution to protect the environment for their future and for their children’s future. Via Bored Panda Image via Exchanges Photos

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Philippine students must plant 10 trees to graduate, new law says

A micro home in one of Quebecs regional parks offers a unique way to enjoy the outdoors

April 9, 2019 by  
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La Pointe is located within Canada’s Poisson Blanc Regional Park, and it’s a nature-loving minimalist’s dream come true. The micro home gets its name from the distinctive triangular geometry that comes to a cathedral-style point in the roof. The designers at Atelier L’abri wanted to honor the A-frame style that was made popular in North America in the 1950s while still providing the essential functions needed in a forest cabin. La Pointe offers off-the-grid living that isn’t completely isolated from civilization. The micro home is located off of a nature trail about 10 minutes by foot from the park’s reception pavilion. Despite the minimal square footage, there is room for up to four occupants inside thanks to the first-floor table’s ability to convert into an extra bed. Related: Disconnect in these A-frame tiny cabins in the Catskills The structure was built on-site and features a kitchenette, an outdoor porch area and a lofted bedroom accessible by ladder. The bed is suspended mezzanine-style using steel rods, and it calmly overlooks the rest of the home. The entire space, including the sleeping area, takes full advantage of the natural light that streams in during the day. The connecting covered terrace is the perfect spot to enjoy the space when the weather is hot, and the wood-burning stove keeps the house warm in the cold Canadian winters. The whole structure is raised off the ground to prevent weather-related damage from both the snow and the nearby reservoir. The exterior, made from natural cedar boards, creates a woodsy look that blends in beautifully to the surrounding forest landscape. The roof is made from steel, a recycle-friendly option for a building material. The interior uses the same cedar, which — combined with the dark, steel-colored appliances inside — creates an organic and raw look. Occupants can enjoy the forest views from the large bay window that centers the home from the first floor. + Atelier L’abri Photography by Jack Jérôme via Atelier L’abri

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A micro home in one of Quebecs regional parks offers a unique way to enjoy the outdoors

Bring your reef-safe sunscreens when visiting Key West

February 11, 2019 by  
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Key West is taking steps toward promoting reef-safe sunscreens . Officials on the Key West City Commission just approved a ban on sunscreens that have ingredients that are harmful to coral reefs. The new law, which passed almost unanimously, is scheduled to be put in place by 2021. The motion outlaws sunscreens that feature octinoxate and oxybenzone in the city limits of Key West . These two chemicals are thought to be connected to coral reef bleaching. There is some research that suggests these chemicals damage the cellular structures in coral reefs, though several companies in the sunscreen industry have challenged those studies. Related: Maya Bay closes following extensive environmental damage from tourists Even if there is not a strong link between the chemicals and coral bleaching , the Key West City Commission believes banning these sunscreens is worth the price. After all, there is only one coral reef in North America. Keeping it safe is top priority, even if it means turning away business. “We have one reef, and we have to do one small thing to protect that,” Key West Mayor Teri Johnston explained. “It’s our obligation.” Unfortunately, there are few reef-safe sunscreens on the market. According to NPR , most sunscreen products in the U.S. contain octinoxate or oxybenzone. Companies like Aveeno, Johnson & Johnson, Coppertone and Neutrogena all have sunblocks that contain the banned chemicals . These corporations are also spearheading efforts to fight bans on octinoxate and oxybenzone, chemicals that they argue do not cause coral reef bleaching. Instead, they claim that a combination of climate change , ocean acidity and overfishing are the root causes of coral reef problems, including bleaching. Several companies even sent representatives to Key West in an attempt to fight the new ban. Key West is not the first municipality to enact a sunscreen ban, and it will probably not be the last. In 2018, Hawaii introduced a law that bans sunscreens that contain the chemicals in question. Officials hope the new law will protect coral reefs against bleaching, and they are urging companies to develop more reef-safe sunscreens that are better for the environment. Via NPR Image via Shutterstock

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Bring your reef-safe sunscreens when visiting Key West

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