Waste work shift: Inside the structural changes in the global waste sector

October 5, 2019 by  
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Informal waste workers have long managed the waste of the South, for whom new forms of collectives offer new hope, while the gig economy threatens to de-formalize waste management in the North.

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Waste work shift: Inside the structural changes in the global waste sector

Taiga launches Orca, a 100% electric jet ski with a two-hour battery

September 30, 2019 by  
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Canadian company Taiga Motors, the creators of the world’s first electric snowmobiles, makes yet another splash in the luxury electric vehicle world with Orca , their first electric personal watercraft. Featuring full carbon fiber hull construction, the luxury jet ski forgoes gasoline in favor of a 23kWh battery that provides energy for up to two hours and can be charged by a regular outlet, standard automotive chargers and DC fast charging. The high-performance electric jet ski will also be fitted with a color integrated digital display for intelligent connectivity via built-in GPS mapping, LTE, wifi and bluetooth. Unveiled on Toronto’s waterfront earlier this month, Taiga Motors’ Orca measures 9.5 feet in length, 3.9 feet in width and 3 feet in height. The personal watercraft clocks in at just under 600 pounds ready to drive and up to 180 horsepower available with instant torque — one of the highest power to weight ratios in the industry, says the firm. Orca also boasts impressive acceleration with a top speed of up to 65 miles per hour and a sub-five millisecond response time. The approximately 125-kilogram lithium-ion battery runs on an automotive standard system voltage of 400 volts and is sealed and vibration isolated to ensure safety even under high shock loads, high humidity environments and temporary submersion. Related: Electric-powered X Shore boats combine sustainability with luxury Scandinavian design In addition to its quiet yet powerful electric engine, the craft heightens the ride experience with a new suspended “floating” seat design made possible by the absence of a combustion engine. According to Taiga Motors, the seat offers the lowest center of gravity of any personal watercraft for improved stability and precision carving on the water. The Orca’s streamlined form is matched with a sleek digital display that can be controlled from the dashboard or the connected app.  Taiga Motors plans to only produce a total of 500 Orca units, with the first one hundred badged as Foundation Edition models with “exclusive design elements and high-performance packages.” The first one hundred models will begin at $28,000 and be delivered to North American customers in summer 2020. Four hundred Orcas will be priced at $24,000 and available to customers shortly after summer 2020. Taiga also has plans to create more electric personal watercraft — priced below $14,000 — in the future. + Taiga Motors Orca

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Taiga launches Orca, a 100% electric jet ski with a two-hour battery

EPA repeals water protections, choosing industry over wetlands

September 13, 2019 by  
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On Thursday, the Trump administration repealed the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, an Obama-era policy designed to protect waterways. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the EPA plans to reinstate 1980s water rules. The EPA and U.S. Army will decide this winter which waterways to regulate. “Today’s Step 1 action fulfills a key promise of President Trump and sets the stage for Step 2 — a new WOTUS definition that will provide greater regulatory certainty for farmers, landowners, home builders and developers nationwide,” Wheeler said in a statement. Related: Nestlé plans to bottle 1.1M gallons of water daily from natural springs in Florida WOTUS stipulated which wetlands and streams would be protected from pesticides , fertilizer, mine waste and other pollutants under the 1972 Clean Water Act . But farmers, miners and other industry players complained the policy was overreach, interfering with their business interests. The states are divided on WOTUS and its repeal. Twenty-two states — as well as the District of Columbia and U.S. territories — have been following the Obama-era policy, while 27 states never moved on from the ’80s regulations. California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra, no friend of Trump, plans to fight the repeal, which would cut federal protection to California’s water. Meanwhile, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum is celebrating. Environmental groups, including Earthjustice, worry that repealing WOTUS will imperil safe drinking water and thwart safeguards against pollution and flooding. “President Trump’s administration wants to turn back the clock to the days of poisoned flammable water,” said Abigail Dillen, Earthjustice president. “This is shameful and dangerous.” Nor were environmentalists impressed with the repeal being announced at the headquarters of the National Association of Manufacturers, feeling this privileged industry over public health . Craig Cox, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources at the Environmental Working Group, said, “The EPA is no longer in the business of safeguarding our resources and protecting us from pollution, but is openly working to advance the agenda of those who profit from fouling our water and threatening our health.” Via Reuters Image via Pixabay

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EPA repeals water protections, choosing industry over wetlands

A shipping container is recycled into a chic nature retreat in Brazil

September 2, 2019 by  
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When a client approached Bruno Zaitter with a request for a minimalist and sustainable getaway in Brazil’s Balsa Nova, the Brazilian architect and professor decided that cargotecture would be the perfect fit for the brief. Proving that less can be more, the architect upcycled a secondhand shipping container into a relatively compact 538-square-foot abode with a bedroom, bathroom, living and dining area, kitchen and an outdoor terrace. Most importantly, the structure, named the Purunã Refuge, immerses the client in nature with its large glazed walls that embrace panoramic views in all directions. Protected on the west side by a lush native forest, the Purunã Refuge is set at the foot of a geographical fault called Escarpa Denoviana and enjoys privacy, immersion in nature and views of the city skyline beyond. The project, completed in 2016, draws on Zaitter’s experience with recycling shipping containers into contemporary structures. As with its predecessors, the Purunã Refuge is elevated off the ground for reduced site impact. Related: A modern farmstay suite minimizes site impact in Brazil Raised 3 meters off the ground and accessible by outdoor stairs, the dwelling features a 12-meter-long container — comprising the sleeping area, a portion of the kitchen, the entrance and the bathroom with a soaking tub — that has been extended by two glass-enclosed volumes on either side. The larger of the two boxes houses the living and dining area as well as office space; the smaller box is a bump out of the kitchen that extends into the forest. Stretching northwest to southeast, the Purunã Refuge is accessed from the north side, which leads up to an outdoor terrace . “The project’s concept was to group the essential universes of human life — eating, sleeping, sanitizing, working and socializing — in a space of about 50 square meters with the greatest possible contact with the surrounding natural landscape,” Zaitter explained. “The biggest challenge was convincing people who still believe that large space equals comfortable space, and that small space is uncomfortable space. The refuge proved that less is more.” + Bruno Zaitter Photography by Sergio Mendonça Jr. via Bruno Zaitter

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A shipping container is recycled into a chic nature retreat in Brazil

Reward offered to identify Mojave burro killer

August 30, 2019 by  
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A total of 42 wild burros from the Clark Mountain Herd Area in the Mojave Desert in California have been found shot to death since May in what officials declare as one of the largest killings of its kind on land overlooked by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Currently, BLM and animal rights groups have pooled their funds to offer nearly $60,000 in reward money to find the guilty party. “The cruelty involved in shooting these burros and leaving them to die warrants prosecution to the fullest extent of the law,” BLM’s Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley said in a statement Wednesday . “We thank the animal welfare groups for adding their voices to those organizations who value these iconic symbols of the West.” Related: Trail use by outdoor enthusiasts is driving out an elk herd in Colorado BLM spokesperson Sarah Webster told the Washington Post that many of the slain burros appear to have been shot from a distance with a rifle aimed at their necks. Victims include both adult burros and foals who were innocently drinking from a water hole when the killer struck. The Platero Project— a collaboration between the BLM and the Humane Society of the US (HSUS)— has offered $32,500 in reward money. Lifesavers Wild Horse Rescue, Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, American Wild Horse Campaign, Return to Freedom and The Cloud Foundation have also contributed to the fund, plus additional donations by both BLM and HSUS independent of Platero. Originally from North Africa, burros were first introduced to North America by the Spanish but wound up wild when they wandered off, were set free by dejected miners or survived their prospector owners. After finding a home in the desert land of Southern California, the wild burro populations grew exponentially, doubling every four to five years. By the 1950s the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals intervened due to excessive killings and called upon the government to enact proper legislation for their protection. The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act has protected them against animal cruelty and animal abuse since 1971, charging anyone caught harming, capturing or killing a burro with fines up to $2,000 or a year in prison. If apprehended, the offender responsible for the 42 burro deaths can face up to 42 years in prison. Via Ecowatch Image via BLM

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Reward offered to identify Mojave burro killer

Find vegan restaurants using Yelp’s updated, personalized app

August 30, 2019 by  
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Feel like feasting on a batch of sweet potato fries and a thick soy milkshake? Maybe a tempeh sandwich from the best vegan cafe in your ‘burb? Yelp’s updated, personalized mobile app makes finding a vegan restaurant near you easy. For example, if you follow a strict vegan diet and need to know the ultimate spot for a meatless sandwich, Yelp’s app can be tailored to meet the specifics for whatever you’re craving as well as your dietary needs, whether you are following a vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc. diet. It can also provide recommendations, such as where to take Mom for her birthday, find a fun kid’s activity or grab lunch at a dog-friendly cafe. Related: 14 apps to help you live a more sustainable lifestyle “As Yelp turns 15 this year, we’re embarking on one of our most significant product updates with the introduction of a new, personalized experience,” Vivek Patel, Yelp’s chief product officer, told CNN . “Yelp has always been a helpful discovery platform that surfaces great local businesses based on your search. By making it more personalized, we’re saving people time and giving them an easy way to find the right business for them. Now, Yelp will help you discover businesses and activities based on who you are and what you like to do.” After you set up your preferences, you won’t have to change them each time you launch the app; it’s customized to your own needs and wants. With a vast number of followers already, Yelp has experienced steady growth from 2016 to 2019, according to Statista . Its unique mobile app visitor numbers have reached more than 36.74 million in Q2 2019. As people search for better food choices that address climate change and animal welfare, more sustainable restaurant options continue emerging. Currently, vegan-focused website HappyCow.net lists 33,253 options for vegan, vegetarian and veg-options throughout North America. The updated Yelp app will help consumers navigate this growing field of plant-based restaurants across the nation to find the juiciest veggie burger, the best plant-based pizza for a party and the most impressive vegan brunch for a weekend feast. + Yelp Via CNN and Happy Cow Image via

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Find vegan restaurants using Yelp’s updated, personalized app

Certified Passive House in New York generates all of its own energy

August 13, 2019 by  
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In New York’s Hudson Valley, a beautiful new beacon for sustainable, net-zero design has taken root. New York-based North River Architecture & Planning recently added another energy-efficient build to its growing portfolio of environmentally friendly projects — the Accord Passive House, a modern home that has not only achieved PHIUS+ Certification but also boasts no net energy costs annually. Located in the hamlet of Accord, the contemporary house is sensitive to both the environment as well as the local culture and history. The architects drew inspiration from the rural farm buildings for the design of a gabled , barn-like house that emphasizes connection with the outdoors and flexible living spaces accommodating of the homeowners’ changing needs. As with traditional farm buildings, the construction materials were selected for longevity, durability and low-maintenance properties. Related: Architect designs and builds his dream Passive House in New York Galvanized corrugated steel siding wraps the exterior, while a trowel-finished concrete slab is used for the floor inside and is visually tied to the xeriscaped pea gravel patio that requires no irrigation. “Trim materials inside and out were chosen for their adaptive reuse and low resource extraction properties, including the use of engineered lumber for trim work, salvaged white oak slats and carmelized cork throughout the project,” the firm added. “The cork was used inside and out for its sustainable harvest and broad utility for acoustics, water resistance and insulation value.” Topped with a 9kW photovoltaic array, the impressive net-zero energy build was also created to show how Passive House design can be beautiful, resilient and comfortable without incurring sky-high costs. The firm said it has achieved “a competitive price per square foot relative to regional costs for this market niche.” During construction, the architects hosted open-house learning events to promote open-source sharing of energy-efficient design methods and solutions with the local community. + North River Architecture & Planning Photography by Deborah DeGraffenreid via North River Architecture & Planning

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Certified Passive House in New York generates all of its own energy

Energy-efficient home in Whitefish was inspired by the region’s agrarian vernacular

July 29, 2019 by  
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Whitefish, Montana is known for its spectacular natural scenery, and now a family of four has a beautiful new home that reflects the region. Using an existing barn as inspiration, CTA Group designed the Railway Residence, an impressive, 3,500-square-foot energy-efficient home, to frame the surrounding views from virtually any angle. Tucked into an idyllic landscape of 4.5 acres in the eastern outskirts of Whitefish, Montana, the Railway Residence is surrounded by the mountain ranges to the north and east, connected by the historic Great Northern Railroad, which was inspiration for the home’s name. This amazing, natural setting set the tone for the design, both in its aesthetic and its energy performance. Related: A modern, energy-efficient home is built around a beloved madrone tree From a distance, the barn-like gabled roof and extension pay homage to the agrarian vernacular architecture found throughout the region. But the traditional volume conceals a savvy blend of contemporary features that create a soothing, sophisticated home with an impressive number of energy-efficient features. Clad in light-hued cedar siding, the wooden exterior is a nod to the wooded areas that surround the home. This pleasing envelope contains a strategic, energy-saving profile including ultra tight insulation that provides a 50 percent improvement over code minimums. Additionally, the use of prefabricated wood trusses allowed the structure to be sealed and insulated as well as naturally ventilated. Adding to the tight thermal envelope, the home was also installed with an abundance of high performance glass doors and triple-pane windows. The interior spaces are divided into four spaces arranged around a central glass walkway. The social areas, including a spacious living area, home office and music studio along with a garage and storage, are located on one side, while the private sleeping areas are on the other. The interior design, comprised of no-fuss, sophisticated furnishings, was meant to put the focus on creating a comfortable, bright living space where the family could enjoy the incredible views from anywhere in the home. The concrete flooring was installed with radiant in-floor heating that’s paired with a heat recovery ventilator to significantly reduce energy usage, especially in the chilly Montana winters. Bright windows placed underneath the many roof eaves allow natural light inside while the eaves provide shade from solar gain in the hot summer months. Adjacent to the main home, a separate barn, original to the site, was restored and is now a backdrop for the homeowner’s photography business. + CTA Group Photography by Gibeon Photography via CTA Group

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Energy-efficient home in Whitefish was inspired by the region’s agrarian vernacular

New report warns of extreme heat of 127 degrees or more in the US

July 29, 2019 by  
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Just when you thought the environmental news couldn’t get any worse, a shocking new report warns Americans that they may be facing temperatures of 127 degrees Fahrenheit. By the year 2100, more than one-third of the U.S. population could be exposed to this kind of heat and its accompanying health risks. The county-by-county survey predicts that by mid-century, more than 250 American cities will suffer from at least one month of days where the heat index surpasses 100 degrees. Historically, this number has been 29 cities. The heat-index scale combines temperature with humidity to arrive at what the temperature feels like. Related: Extreme heat wallops the US “We were very surprised at how steeply and quickly the number of days of dangerous heat increased in such a short time,” said Kristina Dahl, senior climate scientist at Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Dahl co-authored the dire new report, “ Killer Heat in the United States: Climate Choices and the Future of Dangerously Hot Days .” Extreme heat will hit the Southeast and Southern Great Plains the hardest. Texas and southern Arizona will also be sweltering. But even temperate areas, such as Seattle, will notice a significant increase in hot days. Humans, with a normal internal temperature of 98.6, function poorly in extreme heat. Climate researcher Tom Crowther said the increase in heat events “represents a terrifying prospect” and “a direct and immediate threat to human health and wellbeing.” Droughts, floods and wildfires will accompany the extreme temperatures. Sea level rise and compromised food production will also make life tougher. Humankind’s best hope? A fast and drastic reduction in carbon emissions . “Our past climate can no longer guide us,” said meteorologist Richard Rood. “We have to build and adapt to what’s coming.” + Union of Concerned Scientists Via National Geographic Image via Mark Hemmings

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New report warns of extreme heat of 127 degrees or more in the US

Endangered California condors are making a comeback with the birth of 1,000th chick

July 23, 2019 by  
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The largest bird in North America is making a comeback after reaching an alarming population size of about 20 birds . The California condor was highly endangered during the late 20th century but holds spiritual importance to indigenous tribes and nature-lovers. Last week, conservationists announced that the 1,000th chick hatched and successfully survived, giving new hope that the birds’ population will continue to grow. The condor population plummeted in the 20th century because of hunting , habitat loss and lead poisoning from eating the carcasses of animals that had been shot with lead bullets. When the population was nearing just 20 birds, conservationists began breeding them in captivity. Related: 10 species at risk of extinction under the Trump administration According to Tim Hauch, manager of the Peregrine Fund’s condor program, more than 300 wild California condors exist today. There is a total of more than 500 when those in captivity are included. The newest chick was born in Zion National Park, located in southwestern Utah. Condors lay only one egg at a time , and female condors do not nest every year. Conservationists are incredibly hopeful every time one is born. “We’re seeing more chicks born in the wild than we ever have before,” Hauck told NPR. “And that’s just a step toward success for the condor and achieving a sustainable population.” Although the chick was born in May, it was not considered to be a survivor until July, given the typical mortality of young condors within the first two months. The chick will be able to leave the nest and begin flying around November. California condors are unique birds that can live up to 60 years in the right conditions. That makes condors not only the largest bird in North America, with a wingspan of 10 feet, but also one of the longest living birds in the world. Those who study California condors also believe that the birds are capable of having distinct personalities, which separates them from many other avian species. Via NPR Image via Wikimedia Commons

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