Global e-waste growth rate poses increased danger to the environment

July 8, 2020 by  
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Recent research findings published by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have revealed that global e-waste is growing at an alarming rate. Many people worldwide use electronic gadgets such as smartphones, laptops and TVs, but few countries have an elaborate plan for disposing or recycling the waste generated. Today, approximately 5.16 billion people use mobile phones globally . Interestingly, most people only use a new phone for 2.5 years . According to the ITU report , a record 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste was discarded in 2019 alone. This is about 9.2 metric tons higher than just five years ago. Due to these figures, the organization is concerned over the improper disposal of e-waste. Some of the compounds in the waste are potential hazards to human health . Most of the e-waste was found to contain mercury, brominated flame-retardants and chlorofluorocarbons. Related: How to properly and safely dispose of these 10 items in your home According to the report, only 17.4% of e-waste is recycled annually, leaving about 83% of electronic waste to end up in landfills and bodies of water. According to Belmont Trading , many marine species are dying due to the increase in electronic waste in the oceans. “We know we’re losing biodiversity at a rate that is 1,000 times faster than we should be,” said Stuart Pimm, a conservation biologist at Duke University. In 2018, ITU set a target of recycling about 30% of e-waste produce annually by 2023. The aim is to increase the formal collection and recycling of e-waste to reduce the volume of waste going into oceans and landfills. The organization is now lobbying member states to adopt sustainable methods of e-waste disposal. In 2019, 78 countries are reported to have adopted an official e-waste policy. If more countries can do the same, global e-waste can decline in the near future. We can all contribute to the efforts toward a world with little e-waste. Before you dispose of that phone, laptop, TV or kitchen appliance, think about other ways you could use it, donate it or recycle it. + ITU Image via Willfried Wende

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Global e-waste growth rate poses increased danger to the environment

Modular, affordable housing project opens in Portland

July 8, 2020 by  
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Argyle Gardens, a newly-opened modular co-housing development, is providing affordable housing for individuals who formerly experienced homelessness and are greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Portland, Oregon. Opened at the beginning of April 2020, the project houses 72 residents in studio and SRO-style units. Because of the offsite modular construction, development costs for the units were 31% lower than typical affordable housing projects and the construction schedule was shortened by four months. Argyle Gardens is located in the Kenton area of north Portland and features a modular design brought to the area by Transition Projects specifically to address the current times of hardship for those who need the most support. Related: Passive House-certified development offers affordable housing in South Bronx There are four buildings in total, the largest of which contains 36 apartments. The buildings are positioned around a large, central community space that includes laundry facilities and support service offices. In addition to the main apartment building, there are three co-housing structures, which each contain two six-bedroom pods, two shared bathrooms and a kitchen. Argyle Gardens is near the light rail, a public park, bus lines and the downtown and commercial shopping areas. By June 1, over half of the units have already been filled by low-income residents and people who formerly experienced homelessness. Going a step further, community-building programming and supportive services have already been implemented on the property. Residential activities such as a gardening club and cooking demonstrations have started as well. The project was designed by Portland firm Holst Architecture and features gable roof trusses and translucent polycarbonate panels. The modules can adapt to any area that allows duplexes while still working within the existing zoning codes for Portland. Despite the site’s steep and vegetated topography, the design team accomplished balance in the environmental considerations required for modular construction. The high-efficiency housing model can be replicated and modified by other modular builders around the country. + Holst Architecture Photography by Josh Partee and Portlandrone via Holst Architecture

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Modular, affordable housing project opens in Portland

Victory at Standing Rock as Dakota Access pipeline shut down

July 8, 2020 by  
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The Standing Rock Sioux tribe won a reprieve after the Monday decision by a U.S. District Court judge to suspend the Dakota Access pipeline pending further environmental review. The highly controversial  pipeline  has operated for three years. Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered both sides to submit briefs on whether the pipeline should continue operations. In March, Boasberg ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it permitted the pipeline and failed to acknowledge the devastating consequences of potential oil spills in the area. Related: Dakota Access Pipeline placed under environmental review The 1,172-mile pipeline transports oil underground from North Dakota to Illinois, passing through South Dakota and Iowa on its way. Standing Rock Reservation straddles the Dakotas’ state line and draws its water from the Missouri River. The tribe alleges the pipeline, which crosses beneath the river, pollutes their water . Energy Transfer, a Texas-based gas and oil company that owns the biggest share in the project, disagrees and claims the pipeline is safe. The $3.8 billion pipeline brought trouble from the start. During its construction in 2016-2017, tribal members began a protest campaign that drew international support. Activists from around the country stood with Standing Rock. Some clashes at the site grew violent, with police and security officers using attack dogs, water cannons and military equipment to clear protesters and their encampments. Political action persisted, with David Archambault II, then-Chairman for Standing Rock , addressing the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva in September 2016. Senator and former Democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders also supported the protests, and then-President Barack Obama spoke with tribal leaders.  In December 2016, before leaving office, the Obama administration ordered a full environmental review of the project, including analysis of the tribe’s treaty rights, and denied permits allowing the pipeline to cross the Missouri River. President Donald  Trump  signed an executive order expediting construction during his first week in office. But for now, the tribal  water  supply is safe. “Today is a historic day for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the many people who have supported us in the fight against the pipeline,” Mike Faith, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman, said in a statement. “This pipeline should have never been built here. We told them that from the beginning.” + The Guardian Via Earth Justice Images via Indrid Cold , Fibonacci Blue and John Duffy

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Victory at Standing Rock as Dakota Access pipeline shut down

Horseshoe crab blood remains industry standard for big pharma

June 2, 2020 by  
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It’s a bad week for horseshoe crabs as their defenders have failed to convince big pharma that synthetic crab blood is a viable alternative for endotoxin testing in drugs. Maryland-based US Pharmacopeia (USP) has blocked this effort. Real horseshoe crabs’ copper-rich blue blood clots when it comes into contact with bacterial endotoxins — which, if present in products, can cause severe diarrhea and even toxic hemorrhagic shock. Since partially replacing rabbit tests in 1977, horseshoe crabs’ blood has been the industry standard. Animal rights groups and Switzerland-based Lonza have pushed for synthetic versions called recombinant Factor C (rFC). Related: Pacific Ocean’s elevated acidity is dissolving Dungeness crabs’ shells At first, experts thought USP, which produces influential drug industry publications, would add rFC to its chapter on international endotoxin testing standards. Instead, the organization decided to give rFC its own chapter. This means that even if a company wants to use rFC, it will still have to do additional testing with real horseshoe crab blood to validate results, which ultimately defeats the purpose. “Given the importance of endotoxin testing in protecting patients … the committee ultimately decided more real-world data [was needed],” USP said in a statement. USP said it supports shifting to rFC where possible, potentially including testing COVID-19 vaccines or medicines. Some drug companies are already using the synthetic tests to improve human health . Eli Lilly uses rFC for testing Emgality, a migraine treatment. Unlike most lab animals, the horseshoe crabs are captured, bled and released. John Dubczak, director of operations at Charles River Laboratories, told Scientific American that no more than 30% of a crab’s blood is removed and claimed a mortality rate of 4%. “One of my suppliers built a water slide to put the crabs back into the water,” Dubczak told Scientific American . “They love it!” Conservationists suspect the mortality rate is much higher for the industry as a whole. “There’s not very good science-based information on the mortality of the crabs,” Michael De Luca, senior associate director at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University, said in the same article. “I’ve see figures range from 15% to 40% but nobody has a really good handle on that.” Via The Guardian , Scientific American and Horseshoe Crab Image via Chris Engel

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Horseshoe crab blood remains industry standard for big pharma

American Forests’ Eric Sprague on the importance of trees and the role companies play with forests

March 3, 2020 by  
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Eric Sprague, vice president for forest restoration at American Forests, says the threat to forests is just as important now as it was in 1875, when the organization was founded. “Climate change is really affecting our forests, degrading the ability they have to provide all the benefits that we rely on,” Sprague says. “American Forests is, again, bringing folks together to help solve some of these challenges.”

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American Forests’ Eric Sprague on the importance of trees and the role companies play with forests

Big businesses are failing forests

February 17, 2020 by  
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Amazon, TJ Maxx and Tyson are among well-known U.S. companies with no publicly stated deforestation strategy. Is your organization complicit?

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Big businesses are failing forests

Antarctica reaches record high temperature

February 11, 2020 by  
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The frozen continent recently logged its warmest temperature to date, a whopping 65 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s quite a leap from its previous record of about 63 degrees Fahrenheit, set five years ago in 2015. The reading was documented at the Argentine research base of Esperanza and will soon be verified by the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO). “Everything we have seen thus far indicates a likely legitimate record. But we will, of course, begin a formal evaluation of the record, once we have full data from SMN and on the meteorological conditions surrounding the event. The record appears to be likely associated (in the short term) with what we call a regional ‘foehn’ event over the area: a rapid warming of air coming down a slope or mountain,” Randall Cerveny, the WMO’s Weather and Climate Extremes rapporteur, shared. Related:  NASA finds cavity the size of Manhattan underneath Antarctic glacier Scientists advise that unless global warming is reined in, the South Pole’s ice and snow will disintegrate and cause sea levels to rise drastically. Currently, Vice reports that Antarctica sloughs off 127 gigatonnes of ice mass annually, equivalent to roughly 20,000 Great Pyramids of Giza! The warmer temperatures of the Antarctic are taking its toll on some of the continent’s well-known denizens. Frida Bengtsson, part of a Greenpeace expedition, told Time magazine in an email, “We’ve been in the Antarctic for the last month, documenting the dramatic changes this part of the world is undergoing as our planet warms. In the last month, we’ve seen penguin colonies sharply declining under the impacts of climate change in this supposedly pristine  environment .” Certain areas of the frozen continent have become the fastest-warming regions on Earth. The WMO has even cited Antarctic temperatures to have risen almost 3 degrees Celsius in the past 50 years. Meanwhile, the UN has been advising nations that global temperatures should not increase by more than 2 degrees Celsius. The WMO website further explained, Antarctica  measures nearly twice the size of Australia and generally measures annual temperatures ranging “from about -10 degrees Celsius on the Antarctic coast to -60 degrees Celsius at the highest parts of the interior. Its immense ice sheet is up to 4.8 kilometers thick and contains 90% of the world’s freshwater, enough to raise sea level by around 60 meters were it all to melt.” + World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Via Vice , CNET and Time Images via Pixabay

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Why climate and sustainability professionals need to take the next step in our evolution

November 25, 2019 by  
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Sustainability professionals need to demonstrate the value they can bring to the highest levels of their organization. Simply put, we’re not there yet.

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Why climate and sustainability professionals need to take the next step in our evolution

These 21 projects are democratizing data for farmers

November 25, 2019 by  
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On fields across the world, phones, tablets, drones and other technologies are changing how food is grown. Through these devices, artificial intelligence (AI) — technology able to perform tasks that require human intelligence — may help farmers use the techniques they already know and trust on a bigger scale. And big data — data sets that reveal telling patterns about growth, yield, weather and more — may help farmers make better decisions before crises strike.

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These 21 projects are democratizing data for farmers

Biomaterials Archive debuts at Dutch Design Week 2019

October 22, 2019 by  
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Dutch Design Week , the largest design event in Northern Europe, is back once again this October to show how pioneering designers around the globe are changing the world for the better. Spread out across nine days with over a hundred locations in Eindhoven, the annual event will host a wide array of exhibitions, lectures, festivities and more — including the first-ever public presentation of a Biomaterials Archive , where attendees can see, touch, smell and even taste innovative materials made by students from organic and recycled materials. Held this year from October 19 to 27, Dutch Design Week is an annual showcase of futuristic design that covers a wide breadth of topics from sustainable farming to artificial intelligence and robotics. Every year, more than 2,600 designers are invited to present their pioneering work — with a focus given to young and upcoming talent — and more than 350,000 visitors from the area and abroad flock to Eindhoven to see how design has the potential to improve the world. Creative proposals for reducing waste and addressing other timely environmental topics, such as climate and biodiversity crises, have also been increasingly highlighted in recent years.  One such example of forward-thinking design by young designers can be found at the Biomaterials Archive, a multi-sensory exhibit open to the public all week at Molenveld 42 | Downtown. Hosted by Ana Lisa, the tutor for Design Academy Eindhoven’s Make Material Sense class, the exhibition will feature #ZeroWaste and #ZeroBudget material samples created by second-year BA students. Visitors will have the opportunity to interact with proposed alternatives to materials such as leather, plastic, marble, cotton and MDF. Related: Colorful People’s Pavilion in Eindhoven is made from 100% borrowed materials “It unveils how these young designers are taking matter into their own hands by farming organisms on the Academy’s shelves or recycling what’s being trashed at home, school’s canteen, city or farms,” reads a statement on the DDW website, which references biomaterials made from old bread, lichen, acorn-MDF, coffee grounds, kombucha , cow manure and even vacuum dust. “While they close some loops and make new, shorter life-span materials that forge new paths into design and architecture.” + Biomaterials Archive Images via DDW

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Biomaterials Archive debuts at Dutch Design Week 2019

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