Another Reason to Recycle Cartons — and Other Materials

October 13, 2020 by  
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Another Reason to Recycle Cartons — and Other Materials

DIVAK sunglasses protect your eyes and the planet

July 8, 2020 by  
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DIVAK is one company that believes that protecting your eyes can also mean protecting the planet. With new-to-the-market, wood-framed sunglasses , there’s no need to make a choice between the two. DIVAK sunglasses are the product of a partnership made in Bulgaria between Kiril, who worked as an online marketing specialist, and Ivo, a wood specialist who spent years making sunglasses for fun. More than simply protective eyewear, DIVAK sunglasses are made with the very specific goal of honoring nature during the design and manufacturing process. To meet this goal, the duo developed a process of turning wood into a fashion statement. The resulting sunglasses are eco-friendly, ultra-strong and made of real wood . Related: Sustainably sourced sunglasses built to last a lifetime rather than a season Relying on natural materials was important to the DIVAK team, so it selected birch wood, a natural, biodegradable and renewable resource. The company also uses only non-toxic glue and recyclable materials for the other components of the sunglasses. As an added show of its commitment to nature, DIVAK will plant five trees into the wilds of Bulgaria for every pair of sunglasses purchased. Handcrafted to enhance the wooden texture, the sunglasses are made using an eight-step process that makes the wood look rich and elegant and highlights the grain for an individual look to each pair. To further the quality of construction, DIVAK lenses are made with high-quality German triacetate. The polarized lenses offer UV 400 protection and are pressure-, impact- and water-resistant. DIVAK sunglasses come in two universal designs: The Tribal model comes in both large and small sizes, while the Cat Eye model features a more rounded appearance and is offered in one standard size. No matter the style , each pair is accompanied by a matching wooden case. To encourage a full circle of sustainable practices, the company will send free replacement parts if a frame or temple breaks, and it also encourages customers to return old DIVAK sunglasses. DIVAK will dismantle the sunglasses, keep parts that can be used again and recycle the other pieces. Plus, it offers a 50% discount on the next pair. The company’s Kickstarter campaign was a raging success, earning $14,571 of a $5,000 goal with 194 backers. Now fully funded, the team has moved into production and is working through the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure shipments to its backers. DIVAK is accepting additional pre-orders, too. + DIVAK Images via DIVAK

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DIVAK sunglasses protect your eyes and the planet

How racism manifests itself in clean energy

June 5, 2020 by  
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How racism manifests itself in clean energy Sarah Golden Fri, 06/05/2020 – 00:00 As our institutions strain under the uprising in cities across the country, I’ve been struggling to comprehend the depth of racism in America. I understand why these moments of police violence, the senseless destruction of black bodies caught on tape, would spark a fire that rages across this country. I also know that the tinder has been building for generations and is about so much more than this one horrific moment. Every sector plays a part. Including clean energy.  It’s no secret that there are grave inequities in clean energy. In the spirit of this moment, I turned the microscope on my own sector to ask, how does racism manifest in clean energy?  Manifestation 1: ‘I can’t breathe’ “I can’t breathe” refers to more than police violence. Black communities have been struggling to breathe for decades.  “The right to breathe isn’t just related to surviving interactions with police,” said Alexis Cureton, former electric vehicle fellow at GRID Alternatives , an organization that works to bring clean energy jobs and access to low-income communities. “It pertains to surviving and being able to breathe clean air.” Dozens of studies document the racial disparity in environmental impacts, and I’ve linked to a number of those below. To name a few, consider that in America black people: Are on average exposed to 1.54 times more hazardous pollution than white people — regardless of income. Breathe 56 percent more pollution than they create. Are exposed to 50 percent higher rates of particulate pollution than the general population. Are more likely to live near highways, airports, refineries and other sources of hazardous air pollutants. Are disproportionately exposed to toxic air pollution from the fossil fuel industry. The impacts are also real. African Americans have higher rates of lung cancer and asthma , and are more like to have (and die from) heart disease . It’s no coincidence that African Americans are three times more likely to die from coronavirus than white people. To make matters worse, inequities in health care result in black communities paying almost twice as much in premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.  In this way, the story of George Floyd is symbolic of many struggles in the black community.  We have to remove the repercussions for constructive criticism around programs that don’t address racial equity. “A cop put his knee in the back of his neck and choked him to death, amid his cries for help. You can hear the dude calling for his mom,” said Bartees Cox, director of marketing and communications at Groundswell , an organization that brings community solar to low-income customers. “You look at black people in America and our journey, every opportunity that we’ve had to get ahead has been choked out, fully, over time. Every bit of progress gets choked out.” But here’s the thing: Clean energy technologies exist to reverse this problem. The missing piece is getting them deployed at scale in the communities most affected by dirty energy.  Manifestation 2: Paying more and getting less from energy  More than any other racial group in the United States, African Americans struggle to afford baseline energy needs, a state known as energy insecurity or energy poverty. As a percentage of their income, black households pay upwards of threefold more than white households for energy. They’re also disproportionately affected by utility shut-off policies , leaving them more vulnerable to dangerously hot and cold days.  Why? It’s expensive to be poor. Many solutions that save money in the long run — electric vehicles, rooftop solar, energy efficiency upgrades — require upfront costs or access to capital that exclude many black communities.  Paying more and getting less means black households are often playing catchup. According to Cox, in some places African Americans pay more for energy than for rent.  “We’re not putting people in a situation where they can succeed if they’re spending that much on their energy consumption,” Cox said.  That’s especially true for a community with fewer economic opportunities.  “We have a lack of jobs, we have a lack of access, we have a lack of money in communities,” said Taj Eldridge, senior director of investment at Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator ( LACI ). “Economics are a huge part of it. All of the other issues that we see, from health disparities to educational disparities, the root of that is racism and economic discrimination.” Manifestation 3: Myopic clean energy equity programs  Well-meaning programs and incentives can go only so far if they fail to take a broader view of inequalities.  Take, for instance, a California program that aims to increase access to electric vehicles by providing incentives to install a charging station at your home — provided, of course, that you’re a homeowner. That does little to help African Americans who have been systematically denied homeownership through redlining and lack of access to capital.  “Inherently, that’s racist,” said Cureton, who worked with the program while at GRID Alternatives. “Programs like these aren’t targeted at black people. They’re targeted at people who always lived in California, who always had access to capital. Programs like that don’t help to alleviate the systemic racism that is not only within this country but within this industry.” Cureton says that in order for these programs to work better, it’s essential for those who work in clean energy and equity to be able to talk about the shortcomings of policies without fear of losing funding or negatively impacting the organization.  “This equity push, it looks good and it sounds good,” Cureton said. “But for people of color who are suffering right now, it doesn’t feel good. We have to remove the repercussions for constructive criticism around programs that don’t address racial equity.” All of the other issues that we see, from health disparities to educational disparities, the root of that is racism and economic discrimination. To be clear, this critique isn’t to marginalize the hard work of GRID Alternatives — or other equity organizations working to support underserved people, such as Greenlining Institute , The Solutions Project and New Energy Nexus . Rather, it’s a reminder that systems of oppression are intertwined and that support needs to flow to those that understand the complexity of the problem.  “I think people get that there is an issue here,” Cox said. “‘Equity’ and ‘intersectionality’ are, like, the foundation buzzwords of the last four years. It’s where the big-money people are moving with their strategies. I think the next step is making sure the money gets to the right people.” Manifestation 4: Lack of representation  Organizations that design policies, programs and products usually are controlled by white people. That lack of diversity around the table leads to a lack of diversity in solutions.  The clean energy sector and companies with climate goals have tremendous power to change this.  Cox, who grew up in Oklahoma, never considered a job in clean energy. His turning point was when professional peers told him about the sector and encouraged him to get involved. That type of proactive engagement is what is needed to change the racial balance.  “The onus is on these companies to do outreach,” Cox said. “Not just in the big cities, not just at Howard and Hampton, take it to Texas Southern. Go to Dillard. Go into the deep south, go into rural areas, recruit at these community colleges. Tell people about the jobs that are available, and push people into them.” Eldridge echos this sentiment, noting that white professionals are often disconnected from the deep bench of talent in the African American community. “There’s not a pipeline issue. There never was. It’s a relationship issue,” Eldridge said. “It amazes me when people say they can’t find people to interview or to have these conversations with, because I see them in the room all the time.” This isn’t alteristic. It’s well documented that companies that embrace diversity perform better and have a happier workforce.  It also isn’t tokenism. Getting the people in the room that understand the black experience is key to finding the policies that untangle the systems of injustice.  “As it relates to shifting power and creating change, your voice can’t be taken seriously if you yourself don’t have an entity that represents you,” Cureton said. “That’s extremely important.” Pull Quote We have to remove the repercussions for constructive criticism around programs that don’t address racial equity. All of the other issues that we see, from health disparities to educational disparities, the root of that is racism and economic discrimination. There’s not a pipeline issue. There never was. It’s a relationship issue. Topics Energy & Climate Equity & Inclusion Featured Column Power Points Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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How racism manifests itself in clean energy

Why Aramark’s new sustainability strategy focuses on ‘well-being’ over sustainability

March 23, 2020 by  
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Here’s a hint: it’s because one follows the other.

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Why Aramark’s new sustainability strategy focuses on ‘well-being’ over sustainability

Guinness and Other Brewers Get Greener Packaging

July 10, 2019 by  
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Maven Moment: Flip Flops!

July 10, 2019 by  
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Maven Moment: Flip Flops!

Beautiful vacation home in Brazil is crafted from upcycled stone and salvaged bricks

May 15, 2019 by  
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Designed by Curitiba-based firm  Solo Arquitetos , the Lake House sits overlooking the expansive wetlands of the Paranapanema River in southern Brazil. Designed to blend into its natural setting, the family vacation home was mainly constructed out of upcycled materials such as broken stones found on-site and reclaimed bricks salvaged from an old factory. Located in Alvorada do Sul, in southern Brazil, the Lake House sits on a beautiful, natural lot with river vistas. According to the architects, the rustic-but-sophisticated home design was heavily inspired by the family’s desire to create a strong relationship between the built and natural environments. Related: These enchanting, off-grid cabins are handcrafted from salvaged materials Using the landscape as a guide, the architects created a Belvedere-inspired design that would provide stunning views of the adjacent river and heavily wooded forest. The 2,690-square-foot house is broken up into two rectangular blocks: one for social spaces and the other for private areas. The two structures were purposely misaligned and clad in distinct but complementary materials to create a clear division of space and to give the home a sense of movement. The exterior is clad in a blend of reclaimed materials. Each volume sits on a base of raw concrete. Clay-colored stones sourced on-site were used to create the private areas while brick salvaged from an old factory belonging to the family was used to clad the main living spaces. Standing solitary on the edge of the landscape is an open-air chapel with a base of natural stone topped with a wooden frame — it serves as an additional spot to truly embrace nature. The home’s three bedrooms are located in the stone building, which is marked with a large pitched roof . The master bedroom boasts “a deserved private belvedere” with an all-glass facade that creates a soothing space with a strong, seamless connection to the natural surroundings. The main living areas are also marked by high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Natural light floods the interior at every corner, enhancing the brick walls and wooden ceilings. From the living room, large sliding doors open up to an outdoor pool and sprawling back garden. An elevated wooden deck provides space for dining al fresco or taking in the amazing views of the river to one side and a dense forestscape to the other. + Solo Arquitetos Via Archdaily Photography by Eduardo Macarios via Solo Arquitetos

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Ocean explorer finds plastic waste during worlds deepest dive

May 15, 2019 by  
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This May, American Victor Vescovo broke the standing record of the world’s deepest solo dive, venturing 7 miles into the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench, where he discovered four potential new species as well as plastic waste and candy wrappers. Vescovo is a wealth equity investor with an interest in ocean exploration . He traveled in a high-tech submersible that can withstand enormous amounts of pressure from the 35,849-foot descent. In fact, the submarine is capable of withstanding the weight of “50 jumbo jets piled on top of a person,” according to the BBC . Related: Point Nemo, the most remote spot in the ocean, is plagued with plastic “It is almost indescribable how excited all of us are about achieving what we just did,” Vescovo told BBC. “This submarine and its mother ship, along with its extraordinarily talented expedition team, took marine technology to a ridiculously higher new level by diving — rapidly and repeatedly — into the deepest, harshest area of the ocean.” The mission was to collect data and video footage of what is thought to be the deepest ocean trench in the world. During his expedition, Vescovo also may have found a new crustacean as well as three other new species , including a relative of the sea cucumber. Samples of the new species will also be tested to see if they contain microplastics . The discovery of plastic in the farthest reaches of the world is disappointing, but not surprising given the scale of the plastic waste problem. It is predicted that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Data collection expeditions to the ocean trenches also contribute to increasing evidence that these deep sea depressions can store higher amounts of carbon than the rest of the ocean and therefore may play an important role in mitigating climate change . Via BBC and  Technology Review Image via Jessie Sgouros

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Scientists just created a new type of battery inspired by electric eels

January 18, 2018 by  
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Electric eels inspired an international team of researchers to develop soft power cells that could one day run pacemakers, health monitors, or one day even augmented-reality contact lenses. Their power source – which Smithsonian.com described as a foldable battery – can generate around 110 volts. Although that’s far less than an eel could produce, the researchers say their work could offer important insight into soft power sources. Electric eels can deliver a shock strong enough to knock a horse right off its feet, according to Smithsonian.com. This new soft power source isn’t that strong – but it could pave the way for powering devices without the concerns over toxicity or size associated with common batteries. University of Michigan , Adolphe Merkle Institute at the University of Fribourg , and University of California, San Diego researchers developed the power cell that “moves charged ions across a selective membrane to produce power.” Related: This robotic “eel” hunts down the source of water pollution The team made their foldable battery by printing different kinds of drops – composed of sodium and chloride dissolved in water-based hydrogel – on sheets. One sheet has salty and pure water drops alternating, while the other has charge-selective hydrogels, allowing “either positively charged sodium or negatively charged chloride to pass, excluding the other.” Pressing the sheets together generates power by connecting “saline and freshwater droplets across the charge-selective droplets in series. As the salty and fresh solutions mix, the charge-selective droplets move the sodium and chloride ions in opposing directions, producing an electric current.” The team improved on their work by incorporating a Miura fold, an origami technique. The Miura fold is in use today to transport solar panels in satellites so they can be easily unpacked into big sheets once they arrive in outer space. The team printed all four droplets on a sheet, laser-cut in a Miura fold pattern, that could then be folded to stack the droplets to generate electricity . University of Michigan professor of materials science and engineering Max Shtein said in a statement , “The eel polarizes and depolarizes thousands of cells instantaneously to put out these high voltages. It’s a fascinating system to look at from an engineering perspective – its performance metrics, its fundamental building blocks and how to use them.” The technology is still preliminary, but the team is working on boosting the power source’s efficiency. The journal Nature published the research online in December. + University of Michigan (1, 2) Via Smithsonian.com Images via Biophysics group, Adolphe Merkle Institute ; Caitlin Monney ; and Scott on Flickr

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Scientists just created a new type of battery inspired by electric eels

How One Plant in India Learned to Turn Carbon into Baking Soda

February 23, 2017 by  
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As far as environmentalists are concerned, carbon dioxide and baking soda sit at entirely opposite ends of the eco spectrum. One is a greenhouse gas we have far too much of, an unfortunate by-product of our modern lifestyle; the other is a beloved…

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How One Plant in India Learned to Turn Carbon into Baking Soda

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