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

These sweet teardrop trailers for adventurers run on solar power

April 19, 2019 by  
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We’ve covered quite a few teardrop trailers over the years, but Evolve ‘s new solar-powered trailers are really out of this world. The British Columbia-based company has just unveiled its latest models, the Evolve Traverse and the Evolve Outing. Both campers run on solar power and are clad in an all-aluminum frame to create an ultra durable envelope. Inside, the campers offer enough space for a queen-sized mattress and have a fully equipped kitchen with a propane stove and a cooler in the back. What more could you ask for? The innovative design for the teardrop trailer came to fruition thanks to a friend of Evolve’s owner, Mike. The man asked Mike for a simple tiny camper , but after designing campers for years, he was suddenly inspired to create something a bit more advanced. The result is a solar-powered camper that is fully insulated and waterproof. Related: The Droplet is a light-filled teardrop trailer inspired by Scandinavian design Years later, Mike, along with his daughter, Felicia, continues to build amazing tear drop trailers geared toward the nomadic spirit. The Evolve Traverse and the Evolve Outing models are very similar. Both run on solar power generated by a 100-watt rooftop solar array. Clad in aluminum and fully insulated, the campers are quite durable and can stand up well to extreme weather conditions. Each trailer can be customized, and clients can choose from a long list of extra features including custom colors, a bespoke kitchen layout, additional interior cabinets, hooks and more. Two large glass doors on each side of the trailer open up to the interior sleeping space, which has enough room for a queen-sized mattress that folds up into a sofa when not in use. There is also sufficient storage space for clothes and personal items, along with room for an optional HDTV for entertainment. Adventurers know that good meals are essential while on the road, and Evolve has spared no expense at building a beautiful kitchen into the trailer’s back end. The back door lifts open to reveal a fully equipped kitchen with a propane stove and cooler. The Traverse comes with a unique pull-out kitchen that provides extra counter space. Although it’s hard to image a better teardrop trailer, the company is currently working on The Explorer, an off-roading model with bigger tires for going off the beaten path. + Evolve Solar Teardrop Trailers Via Tiny House Blog Images via Evolve

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These sweet teardrop trailers for adventurers run on solar power

A guide to the different types of plastic

April 18, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

BPA, PET, HDPE. You’re trying to do the right thing by recycling, following health alerts and shopping wisely, but you’re not fluent in molecular chemistry. So how do you decipher exactly what it all means and how to stay green? We’re here to help with a handy guide on different types of plastic and how they impact the planet and your health. Fast facts about our plastic problem According to Earth Day , here are some stats that give you an idea of the scale of our plastic addiction. • Since its invention in the 1950s, over 9 billion tons of plastic have been produced. • Ninety-one percent of all plastics are not recycled, meaning almost all plastic ever produced is piled up in our landfills and oceans . • Americans use 100 billion plastic bags every year. If you tie all these bags together, they reach around the Earth 773 times. • By 2050, there will be more pounds of plastic in the ocean than fish. • There are more microplastics in the ocean than stars in the Milk Way. What are microplastics? Keep reading! Types of plastic: what the terms mean, where you find them and how they impact health Courtesy of National Geographic and  Waste4Change , below are terms commonly used by manufacturers and health advisers. Additives Additives are chemicals added to plastic to enhance certain qualities. For example, they might make the material stronger, more flexible, fire-resistant or UV inhibitive. Depending on what is added to the plastic, these substances can be toxic to your health. Biodegradable This term means that a material can break down into natural substances through decomposition within a reasonable amount of time. Plastic does not biodegrade , so the term is misleading and still means that the substance may leave toxic residue behind. In fact, some states are now banning this term in relation to plastic. Bioplastic Bioplastic is a broad term for all types of plastic, including both petroleum and biological-based products. It does not mean that a plastic is non-toxic, made from safe or natural sources or non-fossil-fuel-based. This term can be misleading, because many consumers assume “bio” means natural and therefore healthy. Related: Shellworks upcycled leftover lobster shells into biodegradable bioplastics Bisphenol-A (BPA) BPA is a toxic industrial chemical that can be found in plastic containers and in the coating of cans, among other uses. It can leach into foods and liquids. BPA-free products have merely replaced the substance with less-toxic bisphenol-S or bisphenol-F, both of which still pose health concerns. Compostable This term means something can break down or degrade into natural materials within a composting system, typically through decomposition by microorganisms. Some new plastics are labeled as compostable; however, this certification mostly requires industrial composting systems, not your garden compost pile. Compostable plastics do not leave behind toxic residue after they decompose, but they must be separated out for industrial composting and not put in recycle or landfill bins. Some major cities like New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Minneapolis have industrial composting programs, but many do not. Ghost nets/fishing gear Approximately 640,000 tons of fishing gear are abandoned, lost or discarded in the ocean every year. Most of this equipment is made from plastic, including nets, buoys, traps and lines, and all of it endangers marine life . Related: Ghost gear is haunting our oceans High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) HDPE is thick plastic used in bags, containers and bottles. It is safer and more stable that other plastics for food and drinks and can be recycled . Microplastics Microplastics are particles less than 5 millimeters long. There are two types: Primary: resin pellets melted down to make plastic or microbeads used in cosmetics and soaps Secondary : particles that result from larger pieces of plastic (such as fabrics and bottles) breaking down into millions of tiny particles that can enter air and water Ocean garbage patches Specific ocean currents carry litter thousands of miles and cause it to collect in certain areas known as garbage patches . The largest patch in the world spans a million square miles of ocean and is mostly made up of plastics. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET, PETE) Polyethylene terephthalate is a widely used plastic that is clear, strong and lightweight. It does not wrinkle and is typically used in food containers and fabrics. It is the most likely to be recycled, but it is a known carcinogen, meaning it can be absorbed into liquids over time and cause cancer . Polypropylene (PP) PP is stiffer and more heat-resistant than other types of plastic. It is often used for hot food containers, diapers, sanitary pads and car parts. It is safer than PVC and PET but still linked to asthma and hormone issues. Polystyrene (Styrofoam) Typically used in food containers and helmets, this material does not recycle well and can leach styrene that is toxic for the brain and nervous system. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) PVC is considered the most hazardous plastic, because it can leach chemicals like BPA, lead, mercury and cadmium that may cause cancer and disrupt hormones. It is often used in toys, cling wrap, detergent bottles, pipes and medical tubes. It usually has to be recycled into separate and more rare recycling programs. Single-use plastic Single-use plastic is designed to be used only once and then disposed of, such as grocery bags and packaging. Environmentalists encourage reducing your single-use plastic consumption, because after their short lifespan, these plastics pile up and pollute the Earth for centuries. Via National Geographic ,  Earth Day , Waste4Change and The Dodo Images via Shutterstock

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A guide to the different types of plastic

Attenborough Effect inspires people to drastically reduce single-use plastics

April 18, 2019 by  
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There are plenty of films that have documented the harmful effects of single-use plastics , but one documentary in particular has resulted in lasting change. A new study found that Blue Planet II, narrated by David Attenborough, has inspired people in the U.K. and the U.S. to use 53 percent fewer single-use plastics over the last year. Inspired by what is being dubbed the Attenborough Effect , people are investing in reusable bags for groceries and other packaging like never before. The study, which interviewed more than 3,800 people in the U.K. and U.S., discovered that the majority of participants have cut down on single-use plastics — definitely a move in the right direction. Related: Simple tips to reduce single-use plastic According to TreeHugger , the individuals who reduced their dependency on these inefficient plastics were inspired by a desire to improve the environment for future generations and a need to curb individual waste. While many of the people in the study have cut down on plastic use , there was an important discrepancy in age groups. Older individuals, between 55 and 64 years of age, put more value in things that are affordable. Younger people, between 16 and 24, put greater stock in sustainability . For the researchers, this trend was not surprising, given that younger generations have been raised in a more eco-friendly culture. “What is important to note is that the younger generations grew up during the height of the sustainability crisis with high-profile, environmentalist documentaries widely available on the content platforms they prefer over conventional TV,” Chase Buckle, who led the study for the Global Web Index, shared. Considering that the entire world is dealing with single-use plastic waste , it is great that younger people have an appreciation for sustainable practices. If trends like this continue, there may come a day when single-use plastics are a thing of the past, especially as these younger individuals grow up and become active in politics. Exactly how much this will impact the world of single-use plastics is yet to be seen, but it is definitely encouraging knowing that more and more people are actively making choices that benefit the environment over their own wallets. Via TreeHugger Image via Shutterstock

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Maryland could become the first state to ban plastic foam containers

April 9, 2019 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Last week, the Maryland General Assembly voted 100 to 37 to approve a ban on plastic foam containers. If the bill is approved by Governor Larry Hogan, Maryland will become the first U.S. state to ban such containers because of their harmful impact on human health and the environment. The bill will now go to Republican Governor Larry Hogan for approval. Although Governor Hogan has not yet expressed a position, the bill has enough votes from the House and Senate that it would be able to override a potential veto, should the Governor decide to issue one. Related: TemperPack raises $40M to combat plastic foam waste “After three years of hard work, I’m thrilled to see Maryland be a leader in the fight to end our reliance on single-use plastics that are polluting our state, country and world by passing a bill to prohibit foam food containers,” Brooke Lierman, Democratic representative from Baltimore and sponsor of the bill,  said in a statement . “The health of the Chesapeake Bay, our waterways, our neighborhoods and our children’s futures depends on our willingness to do the hard work of cleaning the mess that we inherited and created.” Plastic foam  is widely used for food containers, because it helps maintain temperature and prevents spills; however, the material is highly toxic to humans and the environment. The problem with plastic foam Styrofoam is actually a trademarked brand name for the plastic material Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam. In her book  My Plastic-Free Life , Maryland based author and anti-plastic expert Beth Terry explained the four major problems with Expanded Polystyrene foam: 1. Polystyrene materials do not biodegrade. This means that every food container used once and thrown away will stay on the Earth forever. The containers do break apart into smaller pieces, but never compost . 2. Plastic foam is made with fossil fuels and toxic chemicals. Plastics are made from fossil fuel products and are detrimental to the Earth in their manufacturing, use and disposal. ESP includes the chemical polystyrene, which was labeled as a “ probable carcinogen ” by the World Health Organization. Not only does the manufacturing of polystyrene products pollute the air and cause serious health problems for factory workers, but the chemical also leaches into drinks and hot or oily food. This is especially problematic, considering plastic foam containers are frequently used, particularly for hot foods. Polystyrene is linked to cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma. As The Story of Stuff explained , “Yes it keeps your coffee hot, but it might be adding toxic chemicals to it, too.” By the Center for Disease Control’s current estimates,  100 percent of humans have traces of polystyrene in their fat tissues — an example of how pervasive this pollution and toxic problem is. 3. Animals try to eat it. Because plastic foam never biodegrades and floats on the surface of water, small pieces are often mistaken as food by marine animals , like sea turtles. In Baltimore Harbor, a trash-collecting machine has scooped up more than 1 million bits of plastic foam since it launched in 2014. The machine, locally nicknamed “Mr. Trash Wheel,” records approximately 14,000 plastic foam containers collected every month from the Harbor. Related: Baltimore’s floating trash-eaters have intercepted 1 million pounds of debris 4. Plastic foam cannot be recycled. Unlike some other types of plastic, polystyrene products cannot be recycled in most facilities; therefore, they often end up in landfills if not carried out to the ocean. The few facilities that do accept plastic foam only allow clean, uncontaminated products, which rarely exist because the containers are typically used for messy food items. The first state-wide ban Several counties in Maryland and throughout the U.S. have already banned plastic foam , but this will be the first state-wide ban. To see what cities and counties have banned the hazardous material, check Groundswell’s map . Opponents of the bill argue that it will unfairly hurt small farmers, food businesses and nonprofits, because biodegradable food containers are more expensive to source. Eco-friendly alternatives include containers made from cardboard, bamboo , mushrooms and other organic materials. These novel inventions are significantly pricier than plastic foam. Maryland’s ban will notably not include plastic foam items packaged outside of the state, such as microwavable instant noodle bowls. It will also not include the foam trays sold with raw meat products, nor will it cover non-food related items. This is Representative Brooke Lierman’s third attempt to get the bill passed. If successful, the bill will go into effect in July 2020 and be punishable by a fine of $250. Via Phys.org Images via  Matthew Bellemare ,

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Maryland could become the first state to ban plastic foam containers

Bananatex launches a sustainable material revolution at Milan Design Week

April 9, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

A party of three has collaborated to create a multi-purpose material sourced entirely from banana leaves. Swiss bag brand QWSTION, a yarn specialist from Taiwan, and a Taiwanese weaving partner spent four years developing the new material, which is being revealed at the 2019 Milan Design Week. The strong, flexible material, called Banantex, offers a new universal option in the search for sustainable materials . Beginning at the source, the banana leaves come from a natural ecosystem of sustainable forestry in the Philippines. The banana trees grow naturally without the use of pesticides or other chemicals. Plus, they do not require any additional water. The banana plants are a boon to an area previously eroded by palm plantations, bringing back vegetation and a livelihood for local farmers. Related: See how banana trees are recycled into vegan “leather” wallets in Micronesia With a long history of creating materials from sustainable resources, QWSTION saw the strength and durability of the banana leaves that were used in the Philippines for more than a century as boat ropes. Following three years of research and development, the bag company finalized the plant-based material. As a bag company, the first products they put together are backpacks and hip pouches, made completely with the plastic-free material. The larger goal, however, is for other companies to use Banantex in their own production, spreading the application to any number of industries that could eliminate many of the synthetic materials on the market today. United with the common goal of inspiring responsible product development, the team conceived the idea as an open source project with this in mind. The characteristics of the material makes this idea easy to imagine since it is durable, pliable and waterproof. Plus, it is biodegradable at the end of the life cycle, significantly reducing post-consumer waste rampant in the clothing and accessories industries in particular. The display will be open to the public at Milan Design Week on April 9-14, 2019. + QWSTION Images via QWSTION

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Bananatex launches a sustainable material revolution at Milan Design Week

Vegan shoes from Insecta are a stylish option for eco-friendly footwear

April 8, 2019 by  
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Brazilian company Insecta is defying the stereotype that eco-friendly fashion can’t be stylish with its line of “ecosexy” vegan shoes. In addition to being completely void of animal-derived materials, the company also uses sustainable materials like recycled rubber and recycled plastic to construct its footwear. Insecta has been around since 2014 in Brazil, but the company recently announced it will be making an expansion into the United States. In addition to its flagship stores in Porto Alegre and São Paulo, Brazil, the company is conducting an international launch with a new distribution center in April 2019. The new distribution center, located in North America, will help Insecta distribute shoes to even more customers. Related: VEJA unveils vegan sneakers made from corn waste The shoes are handcrafted from materials like recycled bottles, recycled cotton, recycled rubber, upcycled vintage clothing and reusable fabrics. According to the company, it has recycled more than 6,000 plastic bottles and almost 400 square meters of upcycled fabrics in the past year alone.  Nothing is wasted, even when it comes to already-recycled materials. For example, the “Beetle” shoe design uses recycled plastic for its toe caps, and the cushioned insoles are made from recycled rubber and fabric scraps from the company’s own production. One dress has the ability to produce five pairs of Insecta shoes. All of the vegan shoes are comfortable flats sized from 35 to 47 European — or sizes 4 to 14 in U.S. sizes, meaning almost everyone will be able to find a shoe in their proper size. Don’t worry if you’re unsure about European sizes, because the website offers a handy sizing table to help you pick the perfect fit. There are eight different styles to choose from, ranging from boots to sandals, and they’re all creative and stylish. There are classic, natural colors available, like beige and charcoal, but also bright prints for those looking to make more of a statement. What’s more, all of Insecta’s shoes are unisex. Insecta strives to “pollinate the world with color and mindful awareness,” according to the website . The company believes that no living thing should be sacrificed in the name of fashion or other aesthetic purpose. + Insecta Images via Insecta

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Vegan shoes from Insecta are a stylish option for eco-friendly footwear

Make your own custom sunglasses from recycled plastic with FOS

April 4, 2019 by  
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This company in Spain lets customers design and handcraft sunglasses, and that’s not even the best part! FOS sunglasses are made from 100% recycled plastic that would otherwise end up in a landfill . Head to the FOS studio in Barcelona to take part in the workshop, where clients can choose the color of the sunglasses and build them themselves with the help of FOS designers. After picking a color and assembling the frames, you then can choose a lens color that complements your design. Related: These marbled Bluetooth speakers are made from non-recyclable plastic waste Even better, the frame is designed to be recycled over again. Customers are encouraged to bring their sunglasses back to the studio instead of throwing them out so that someone else can benefit from the frames. The sunglasses come with frame repairs, screw replacements and even lens restoration. Can’t make it to Spain? You can purchase the glasses online from the FOS website–they ship internationally. If you are lucky enough to attend a workshop (reservations can be made on their website), the designers will lead you every step of the way in making your own recycled sunglasses. Classes are offered in multiple languages, and will also offer insight into different recycling techniques and sustainability practices. Don’t be intimidated if you don’t have any prior design knowledge or artistic skills, FOS promises that anyone can join the workshop. Through the two-hour-long class, participants will: learn the basics of plastic, understand the importance of recycling plastic waste , learn about molds, choose a color, craft, assemble, and polish their own new unique pair of sunglasses. The different plastic flakes allow for plenty of options for different patterns as well. After making the frames, it will be time to choose one of FOS’ five UV lens options (gray, brown, green, faded gray and faded brown). The workshops, held at Nest City Lab in Barcelona, include the price of the sunglasses and only cost 70 euro (less than $80 US). +fosworks Via Designboom Images via  Esfèrica

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Make your own custom sunglasses from recycled plastic with FOS

Biodegradable tableware made from wheat bran debuts at Toronto’s Green Living Show

March 25, 2019 by  
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This week, Toronto citizens learned that wheat bran is good for more than enhancing digestive regularity. An innovative Polish company displayed its disposable, biodegradable tableware made from unprocessed wheat bran at Toronto’s Green Living Show. While an ordinary disposable plastic plate could take 500 years to break down, Biotrem’s tableware biodegrades through composting within a single month. They’re made from compressed wheat bran, a by-product of the cereal milling process. Biotrem can make up to 10,000 biodegradable plates and bowls from one ton of wheat bran. Related: Shellworks upcycles leftover lobster shells into biodegradable bioplastics The wheat bran tableware can handle hot or cold food, liquid or solids and is microwave-safe. From picnic spots to barrooms, the new biodegradable cups and plates could decrease landfill -bound garbage. Wheat farmer and miller Jerzy Wysocki devised the process of turning wheat bran into plates. Every time he milled wheat, Wysocki found himself with excess wheat bran. Through trial and error, he discovered that mixing the bran with water, then heating and pressurizing it resulted in a sturdy material. He started what would grow into Biotrem with a single machine that he built on his farm . Biotrem’s production plant in Zambrow can currently produce about 15 million biodegradable bowls and plates per year. They also make disposable cutlery, which combines wheat bran with fully biodegradable PLA bio-plastic. So far, Biotrem products are available in a dozen European countries, the U.S., Canada, South Korea and Lebanon. Transform Events & Consulting, based in Charlottestown, Prince Edward Island, distributes Biotrem products to the Canadian market. The event company introduced more consumers to wheat bran plates at this month’s Green Living Show at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. “As event organizers, we see just how much plastic waste is generated at events of all kinds, especially festivals,” said Mark Carr-Rollitt, owner of Transform Events & Consulting. “We are thrilled to partner with Biotrem to offer a well-designed, viable alternative to single use plastics.” Via Biotrem Images Biotrem

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Biodegradable tableware made from wheat bran debuts at Toronto’s Green Living Show

3 circular plastics trends to watch

March 21, 2019 by  
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They’re helping make the case for circularity.

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3 circular plastics trends to watch

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