6 environmental topics to spark discussion at the Thanksgiving dinner table

November 22, 2018 by  
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Nothing sparks political discussion and debate more than a family dinner during the holidays. In this explosive political climate, chances are the conversation will run wild during Thanksgiving even more than it has in the past. To give you some ideas for the upcoming holiday season, here are some environmental topics to help spur your political discussion while you enjoy your turkey dinner. Elections With a major midterm election happening just this month, politics will be a hot topic at Thanksgiving dinner tables across the country. In addition to Republicans who doubt climate science being voted out of the House of Representatives, there were also many environmental measures on the ballots in states across the nation. But  the results on these key issues sent mixed messages that are sure to get people talking. Food waste One-third of all globally produced food ends up wasted, and that makes food waste a huge problem . Americans throw away more than 40 percent of the food they buy, which is also a major factor in climate change. To tackle this problem, some cities are passing laws banning restaurants from throwing out food , and that is a step in the right direction. But making changes at home will help just as much, if not more. If we don’t change our food waste habits, a new study says the problem will continue to increase, and we will be throwing out 66 tons of food per second by 2030. What better time to bring this up than during your Thanksgiving feast? It’s a great time to encourage everyone to take home leftovers . Climate change The latest UN report on climate change has revealed that we are not on target to maintain the Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius or less. If we want to avoid more extreme weather events and species’ extinction, we need to make some major changes to hit that goal. During the 2015 Paris Agreement, nearly 200 nations pledged to keep the ceiling for temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius, but that isn’t enough to avoid irreparable damage to Earth’s ecosystems. While discussing climate change , you can add a new twist on the topic and bring up the new study on barley production , which says that beer prices will soar in the near future because of climate change. Plastic bans The ban on single-use plastics is starting to trend all over the world , and the word “single-use” just became Collins Dictionary’s 2018 Word of the Year . States are banning plastic straws and other single-use items to reduce the waste, and the European parliament just supported a major ban of single-use plastics that member nations will implement over the next few years. Let everyone at the dinner table know it’s time to ditch straws or stock up on reusable options. Related: Plastic straws are a thing of the past, but which reusable straw is best for the future? Veganism, vegetarianism and flexitarianism The meat industry has taken a big hit in recent years thanks to the diet trend of veganism , vegetarianism and flexitarianism. Vegetarianism has been popular since the ’90s, but veganism have become mainstream in recent years, with new vegan-only restaurants popping up in cities across the world. Now, flexitarianism is on the rise, which is a diet that is mostly plant-based but does have some select meat dishes incorporated on a limited basis. Related: 12 plant-based recipes for a vegan or vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner With this growing trend away from meat, a third of the people in the U.K. now have little to no meat in their daily food intake. But we still have a long way to go if we want to avoid a climate crisis . Perhaps it’s time to swap out the turkey for a vegan option. Animal welfare There are many different issues making headlines on the topic of animal welfare —  including Trump’s border wall , which is threatening the National Butterfly Center. This year, California became the first state in the country to ban animal testing for cosmetics, and Los Angeles also put a stop to the sale of fur . Burberry also vowed to stop using fur in its products, and an entire Fashion Week went fur-free . Encourage friends and family at the table to do the same. No matter where the discussion takes you, try to keep the environment in mind for every topic of your conversation. One of the most important things we can do is spread awareness about the major problems that are harming our planet and educate our loved ones on how to help. Happy Thanksgiving! Images via Aaron Burden , Patrick Hendry , Sagar Chaudhray , Simon Matzinger , Tamara Bellis and Shutterstock

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6 environmental topics to spark discussion at the Thanksgiving dinner table

European parliament supports the ban of single-use plastics

October 31, 2018 by  
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The EU adopted new plans last week to ban single-use plastic items like plates, straws, cutlery, balloon sticks and cotton buds — which make up over 70 percent of marine litter — by 2021. Under draft plans approved by Parliament, MEPs also added items to the banned list that contained products made of oxo-degradable plastics, like bags and fast-food containers made of expanded polystyrene. The ban also incorporates a plan for several other items that do not have an alternative, like single-use sandwich boxes and containers for fruits, veggies, ice cream and desserts. For those products, EU member states will need to reduce their use by at least 25 percent by 2025. The strategy for those items includes using multiple-use products and recycling . Parliament also approved other plastics, like beverage bottles, to be collected separately and then recycled at a rate of 90 percent by 2025. Related: Jamaica will ban plastic bags, straws and Styrofoam by 2019 MEPs have also targeted waste from tobacco products, particularly cigarette filters that contain plastic, in the plastic ban . The plan for those items is a 50 percent reduction by 2025 and an 80 percent reduction by 2030. Cigarette butts are the second-most littered single-use plastic item in the EU, and just one can pollute between 500 and 1000 liters (132 and 264 gallons) of water. When thrown on the roadway, they can take up to 12 years to degrade. There is also a plan for lost or abandoned fishing gear, which represents about 27 percent of the waste found on European beaches. Member states are to ensure that at least half of it is collected each year, with a recycling target of 15 percent by 2025. The costs to reach the goals set for cigarette butts and fishing gear is to be paid for by tobacco companies and manufacturers of fishing gear. Frédérique Ries, who drafted the report, said that the ban is an ambitious directive that is essential for protecting the marine environment. + European Parliament Image via Tim Parkinson

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European parliament supports the ban of single-use plastics

Jamaica will ban plastic bags, straws and Styrofoam by 2019

October 17, 2018 by  
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Jamaica has become the latest country to introduce a ban on single-use plastics. In order to reduce pollution and the impact of plastic on the environment, the Caribbean nation will ban single-use plastic bags, plastic straws and Styrofoam beginning on January 1 next year. One of the details of the new environmental policy is a ban on importing, manufacturing and distributing plastic bags that are smaller than 24 by 24 inches. This includes black “scandal” bags that are popular in Jamaica, because the dark color prevents others from seeing what is inside the bag. The ban does not apply to single-use bags that are used to package raw meats, flour, rice, sugar and baked goods, because their purpose is to maintain public health and food safety standards. Related: Dominica makes historic pledge to combat plastic pollution Daryl Vaz, the minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, is encouraging consumers to use reusable carrier bags from local enterprises instead of plastic bags. Plastic foam, such as Styrofoam and also known as polyethylene, will also be prohibited starting next year, but importers and manufacturers will be able to apply for a limited two-year exemption. There is also a two-year extension for plastic straws attached to juice boxes and drink pouches. The medical sector can apply for exemptions from the plastic straw ban, because paper and bamboo alternatives are not always suitable for patients. According to U.K.’s The Independent , the Jamaican government does plan to assist companies in making the transition to sustainable alternatives. In addition to the environmental impact, Jamaica has another reason for banning single-use plastics. The island nation’s economy depends on tourism , and the disproportionate effect of marine litter on the coastline has done some damage. Some studies suggest that tourism hot spots can lose millions of dollars a year if visitors see litter. Not only does this ban help the environment, but it might also help to improve the slow economic growth the country has seen in the past few years. Other nations making moves against single-use plastic include Scotland, which has banned plastic-handled cotton buds, and India, which has reportedly issued a ban on all single-use plastics by 2023. Via The Independent and TreeHugger Image via Cpl. Samuel Guerra

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Jamaica will ban plastic bags, straws and Styrofoam by 2019

Talking climate change with voters

September 17, 2018 by  
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The awareness is there, now we need to get much more personal.

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Talking climate change with voters

Here’s new research attendees are debating at the Global Climate Action Summit

September 12, 2018 by  
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A roundup of reports, indexes and solution handbooks issued in collaboration with the GCAS gathering.

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Here’s new research attendees are debating at the Global Climate Action Summit

California legislature passes historic bill to achieve 100% clean energy

August 30, 2018 by  
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California is going all in on clean energy. Legislators just passed a bill that puts the state on a path to become 100 percent reliable on clean energy by 2045, making it the largest economy in the world to enact such an environmentally friendly policy. Governor Jerry Brown has until the end of next month to sign the bill and make it official. This is not the first eco-friendly move in the California state legislature. The state previously had a goal to become 50 percent reliant on clean energy by 2030, a goal the new bill upped to 60 percent. This past spring, legislators changed state building codes to require newly constructed houses to feature solar energy capabilities. The mandates show that California is looking to become a leader in environmental issues in the decades to come. The historic bill comes amid a struggle with Donald Trump’s administration, which has been attempting to revive interest in traditional energy sources, such as coal, over renewable energy . Trump has also been relaxing regulations when it comes to the environment. California’s new bill flies in the face of Trump’s political agenda and is a victory for clean energy supporters. It also follows what has been a difficult year for California, as the state continues to deal with the aftermath of historic wildfires. “Ongoing wildfires fueled by record-high temperatures and drier conditions exacerbated by climate change have shown us that we can’t wait any longer to tackle the climate crisis and move to clean energy,” said Michael Brune, executive director of Sierra Club. California is not the only state to eye 100 percent clean energy. Hawaii passed a similar bill in 2015 and plans on fulfilling the initiative in 2045. Following California’s clean energy bill , New Jersey, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C. and New York are debating similar policies. Colorado and Maryland have also considered going 100 percent clean energy but did not have enough votes to pass it. Legislators in California passed their clean energy mandate 44 to 33 votes. Democrat Gov. Brown is fully expected to support the bill in the coming weeks. Via Earthjustice and Sierra Club Image via Camille Seaman / Solutions Project, 100% Campaign

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California legislature passes historic bill to achieve 100% clean energy

Here’s one clean energy policy California shouldn’t miss

August 24, 2018 by  
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The Golden State continues to lead the way — if this passes.

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Here’s one clean energy policy California shouldn’t miss

Thailand bans the import of e-waste

August 17, 2018 by  
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Over the next six months, Thailand will ban the import of 432 types of scrap electronics, or e-waste . E-waste includes any device with an electric cord or battery, and recyclers often mine these trash deposits for valuable metals. But the devices can also contain hazardous and polluting chemicals, such as lead, mercury and cadmium. Thailand has been struggling to deal with overflowing waste deposits following China’s imported trash ban last year. Since then, Southeast Asian nations such as Hong Kong, Thailand and Vietnam have become dumping grounds for the world’s garbage. While Hong Kong has been expanding landfills and building recycling plants, Vietnam has stopped issuing new licenses for the import of waste and cracked down on illegal shipments of paper, plastic and metal. Since May, a series of raids on factories that have been illegally importing and processing foreign e-waste has prompted the Thai government to finally take a stand. Related: Hong Kong faces ‘growing mountain of waste’ in wake of China’s trash ban In a comment to Reuters on Thursday, an anonymous senior environment ministry official said, “The meeting yesterday passed a resolution to stop importing 432 kinds of electronic waste and to ensure … that this is enforced within six months.” The meeting was chaired by Thailand’s Environment Minister, Surasak Kanchanarat. The minister spoke with Thai media on Wednesday, stating that some imports would still be allowed into the country as long as the second-hand devices had a chance at repair and reuse. Related: China bans ‘foreign waste,’ causing recycling chaos in America While scrap metals are still allowed, aluminum, copper and steel must be separated and cleaned in their countries of origin before they are shipped to Thailand for industrial use. Plastics, on the other hand, are not so welcomed. The country is planning to ban the import of plastic waste within the next two years, and there could also be a tax on plastic bags and plastic bans in tourist destinations, government agencies and businesses. While no official decisions have been made, Thailand has a target to recycle up to 60 percent of plastics by 2021. Via Reuters

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Thailand bans the import of e-waste

France plans to make recycled plastic bottles less expensive

August 14, 2018 by  
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Take that, plastic! France has announced that it plans to make bottles made with recycled plastic less expensive than those made from new plastic, part of a larger plan to intensify regulations on plastic use. Other aspects of the plan include increasing taxes on landfill and lowering the value-added tax on recycling activities. Related: Coca-Cola rewards recycling in the UK with half-priced theme park tickets According to Junior Environment Minister Brune Poirson, the French government will introduce further specific measures to address the problem of plastic pollution . “We need to transform the French economy,” she said. “We are launching a movement that will be scrutinized and followed by our European partners.” Part of this movement is a plan to reduce the price of products packaged in recycled containers by up to 10 percent. The discount-premium system encourages its consumers to recycle by making sustainability the more affordable option. “Tomorrow, when there is a choice between two bottles, one made with recycled plastic, the other not, the first one will be cheaper,” Poiron stated. Related: Dominica makes historic pledge to combat plastic pollution Currently, France has the second-worst recycling rate in Europe, with just 25.5 percent of its plastic packaging waste recycled. By comparison, Germany and the Netherlands recycle about 50 percent of their plastic waste. Nevertheless, the French government plans to change its plastic recycling rate to 100% by the year 2025, with the recent announcement marking the first steps toward this goal. Veolia and Suez, recycling powerhouses in the French market, have long been calling for the regulation changes, which would provide a boost for business. Retailers have also joined the cause; for example, French company E.Leclerc has pledged to eliminate the sale of throwaway plastics and replace them with more eco-friendly alternatives, such as bamboo , and is testing a loyalty point system for customers who deposit plastic and glass bottles in some store outlets. + Eurostat + Le Journal de Dimanche Via Reuters

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France plans to make recycled plastic bottles less expensive

Court orders Monsanto to pay $289 million in cancer trial

August 14, 2018 by  
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Agrochemical company Monsanto has been ordered to pay $289 million to school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson, who said the Bayer subsidiary’s chemical products gave him cancer. On Friday, a California jury ruled that the company acted with knowledge that risks of cancer were possible when allowing their weedkillers, such as Roundup , to remain on the market with no hazard warnings. The $289 million sum consists of $39 million in compensatory damages with the remaining $250 million accorded for punitive damages. The three-day trial in the Superior Court of California in San Francisco concluded with the determination that Monsanto did not warn consumers like Johnson of the dangers associated to glyphosate exposure. The 46-year-old’s case was filed in 2016, but it was rushed to trial as a result of the acuteness of his cancer. Doctors predicted that Johnson, a pest control manager for a California county school system, would not live past 2020 because of the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma he developed while being on the job. Related: California man files lawsuit against Monsanto for allegedly hiding dangers of glyphosate Johnson regularly used popular Monsanto products Roundup and Ranger Pro, both herbicides containing glyphosate , a chemical that poses cancer risks to humans. Monsanto plans to appeal the verdict and cited 800 scientific studies and reviews in its support of the weedkillers. The company said, “Glyphosate does not cause cancer and did not cause Mr. Johnson’s cancer.” Monsanto was recently acquired for $62.5 billion by the German conglomerate Bayer, which is now faced with more than 5,000 lawsuits across the U.S. that resemble Mr. Johnson’s case. Related: Court orders EPA to ban pesticide that causes learning disabilities in children Jurors on the trial were privy to never-before-seen internal company documents “proving that Monsanto has known for decades that glyphosate, and specifically Roundup, could cause cancer,” Brent Wisner, Johnson’s lawyer, revealed in a statement. Wisner’s demand to the company was simple — “Put consumer safety first over profits.” Via The New York Times Image via Global Justice Now

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Court orders Monsanto to pay $289 million in cancer trial

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