Ecolab’s Emilio Tenuta and Dow’s Mary Draves on their strategic partnership

March 2, 2020 by  
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Emilio Tenuta, Ecolab’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Sustainability, and Mary Draves, Dow’s Chief Sustainability Officer and Vice President of Environment, Health and Safety, joined GreenBiz Editorial Director at GreenBiz Studio to discuss their partnership. Tenuta says that Ecolab has been working on what it called “strategic supplier initiative” that allows them to identify suppliers that enable them to bring sustainable solutions to the market. Dow is among those suppliers.

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Ecolab’s Emilio Tenuta and Dow’s Mary Draves on their strategic partnership

Paul Rice and Peter McGuinness on shepherding business towards positive impact

February 25, 2020 by  
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Since Chobani’s founding, the company has embraced purpose, with a unique focus on community, environmental and worker wellbeing. Meanwhile, the dairy industry is complex and ever-changing. Chobani President Peter McGuiness and Fair Trade CEO Paul Rice discuss their shared efforts towards creating comprehensive standards for ensuring sound labor, environmental and animal welfare conditions in the dairy industry, what it will take to accomplish, and why this matters.

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Paul Rice and Peter McGuinness on shepherding business towards positive impact

Jimmy Carter’s solar plant powers half his Georgia hometown

February 25, 2020 by  
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Half of Plains, Georgia’s energy comes from solar panels, thanks to former President — and former farmer — Jimmy Carter. Since installing a solar plant on his former farm in 2017, Carter’s nearly 4,000 solar panels have kept the lights on for many of Plains’ 727 residents. The company SolAmerica first approached Carter with the idea to turn his land into a solar farm. SolAmerica Energy President George Mori recently told People that this experiment is still fueling the town a few years later. On a good sunny day, the panels provide 1.3 megawatts of power, Carter told the Sierra Club soon after the panels were installed. One megawatt provides enough energy to power 400 to 900 homes . Related: Jimmy Carter built a solar plant on his old peanut farm Carter was the first president to embrace solar energy. In 1979, during the Arab oil embargo, he had 32 solar panels installed on the White House. This semi-symbolic gesture served as a reminder to ordinary citizens about the importance of conserving energy. “A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people; harnessing the power of the sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil ,” Carter said at the time. The White House has undergone a changing relationship with solar energy , as reflected by successive administrations and their attitudes. After Carter left office, President Ronald Reagan had the panels removed. President George Bush had solar panels installed on the grounds during his administration, and in 2010, President Barack Obama ordered panels be reinstalled on the White House. Despite changing trends over time, the 95-year-old former president has remained true to his alternative energy vision. “Distributed, clean energy generation is critical to meeting growing energy needs around the world while fighting the effects of climate change ,” Carter said in 2017. “I am encouraged by the tremendous progress that solar and other clean energy solutions have made in recent years and expect those trends to continue.” Via People and ThoughtCo Image via Baxter Slate

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Jimmy Carter’s solar plant powers half his Georgia hometown

We wore Allbirds’ Tree Runners around the world here’s how they performed

December 27, 2019 by  
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Shoes made from wood pulp that are actually comfortable? Count us in! Allbirds took the internet by storm after its Wool Runners, made using New Zealand merino wool and tested by numerous consumers, were deemed “the world’s most comfortable shoes” by almost everyone. After selling 1 million pairs of shoes just two years after officially launching in March 2016, the brand developed a cult following pursued by celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and former President Barack Obama. At $95 a pair (the company has yet to have a sale, citing the fact that it is already charging the lowest amount possible for its shoes), Allbirds can be enjoyed even by those without celebrity-level wealth. Allbirds was founded in New Zealand, a place where sheep outnumber humans six to one. According to the company, its process uses 60 percent less energy than typical synthetic shoe manufacturing, and companies such as ZQ Merino make sure the wool used in these shoes is held to the highest standards of farming, land management and animal welfare. Related: These waterproof shoes are made of recycled coffee grounds The newer Tree Runners line takes sustainability a step further — these shoes combine the time-tested merino wool with light tree fibers . Inhabitat tried out the Tree Runners for a couple of months to see if these captivating sneakers are all that they are cracked up to be. Allbirds’ Tree Runners are made using sustainably harvested eucalyptus pulp. The material is lightweight, forms to your foot and helps your feet stay cool with its breezy fabric. The tree fiber, TENCEL™ Lyocell, is sourced from South African farms that rely on rainfall rather than irrigation and need less fertilizer. If you compare that to cotton, according to the site, it uses 95 percent less water and cuts the carbon footprint in half. The trees are FSC-certified as well, meaning the wood is harvested sustainably and held to a strict standard to protect forests. To create a signature yarn to meet its own standards for comfort and sustainability, Allbirds combined the eucalyptus tree fiber and merino wool for the unique Tree Runners. The shoe laces are made entirely from post-consumer recycled polyester; the eyelets consist of bio-based TPU, which is formed by plant sugar-consuming microorganisms. For cushioning, Allbirds uses castor bean oil rather than petroleum-based foam to reduce carbon output. So far, we’ve walked many steps in these shoes, including in a couple of cities in Europe, all across Disneyland and beyond. The results were happy feet and hardly any soreness — no easy feat when it comes to full days of non-stop walking. The shoes are great for the changing seasons and temperatures thanks to the breathable yet sturdy fabric , and they are easy to slip on and off at the airport. One of the chief complaints among customers has to do with the sizing, which doesn’t include half-sizes, presumably to avoid wasting product because half-sizes are so minute. Allbirds combats this issue by assuring a 30-day, no-questions-asked return policy if its shoes don’t fit, suggesting buyers size up in the Wool Collection and size down with the Tree Runners and Tree Skippers if they typically wear a half-size. The shoes came packaged in imaginative, 90 percent post-consumer recycled cardboard that served as a combination shoe box and mailer all in one. Another factor that throws consumers off is the claim that the shoes can be comfortably worn without socks due to the breathable and soft merino wool, which minimizes odor (less sweat equals less stink). We wore them for short periods without socks and can say that they were perfectly comfortable, although after about an hour or so, there was slight rubbing on the back of the heel (no blisters to speak of, thankfully). Speaking of wool, don’t let that scare you; merino wool is some of the softest material on earth. It’s nothing like the scratchy wool sweaters your Grandma used to put you in. Despite the name, these shoes don’t feel well-suited for long-distance running. The shoes are machine-washable, and the website sells replacement insoles for $15 each. While there was no issue with foot support on our end, those who need a lot of additional arch support may want to consider getting their own insole inserts. The company is so transparent about its manufacturing methods that you’d almost think they wanted others to steal their ideas (hint: they do ). It is a mindful organization that clearly values the environment while still retaining a business model that keeps its sustainable ways in the public eye. Allbirds is also a Certified B Corporation , meaning that it is required to consider the impact of its business decisions on the environment. Comfort aside — and these shoes are very comfortable — the focus on genuinely sustainable materials is the real triumph with Allbirds’ one-of-a-kind footwear, especially considering that, even in 2019, a vast majority of the shoes in American closets are made from non-compostable, unrecyclable plastic . Not only is it the perfect minimalist shoe, but it also has all the style and comfort you’d ever want in an everyday sneaker. + Allbirds Images via Katherine Gallagher / Inhabitat Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by Allbirds. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.

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We wore Allbirds’ Tree Runners around the world here’s how they performed

16 must-see environmental documentaries

December 23, 2019 by  
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From animals facing extinction to pollution to global warming, the world is changing — quickly. Some days you may feel like you’re the only one concerned with what is happening to the planet. But there are a host of scientists, environmentalists, authors, journalists, adventurers and Hollywood actors that share your mindset and went through the effort of getting it to the screen. Here are some top environmental documentaries to watch if you’re looking for a show that keeps sustainability in focus. Before the Flood, 2016 Produced by Leonardo DiCaprio in conjunction with National Geographic, Before the Flood follows DiCaprio as he talks with world leaders, politicians, scientists and religious figures to better understand the thinking around the climate crisis . Related: Attenborough Effect inspires people to drastically reduce single-use plastics Chasing Coral, 2017 Coral is a barometer for the health of the planet . As a measure of this health, coral is showing that the earth is sick. This documentary follows scientists, divers and photographers underwater, where they investigate the reasons behind the detrimental disappearance of healthy coral around the globe. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, 2014 In a world where many people either deny climate change or talk in generalizations about the causes and solutions, this documentary puts a fine point on the pervasive damage that agriculture has on the planet, connecting it to global warming, water use , deforestation and ocean dead zones. An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, 2017 No list of environmental documentaries would be complete without mentioning the climate change film that added fuel to the conversation, An Inconvenient Truth , which features Former American Vice President Al Gore’s efforts to inform and inspire climate policies around the globe. The story continues with An Inconvenient Sequel , following Gore on his environmental campaign, sharing poignant personal and public moments with activists across the planet. The True Cost, 2015 The True Cost exposes another major contributor of pollution, waste and consumption — the fast fashion industry. This is a first-hand account of the human cost of clothing manufacturing, exposing low-wages and poor treatment of workers. It also highlights toxins added to the soil and waterways via plant growth (such as cotton) and throughout the manufacturing process (such as dyes). Director Andrew Morgan connects all of this to the driving force of the media, culture, societal norms and consumerism. Chasing Ice, 2012 This award-winning film pulls together years of time-lapse photography to document the planet’s rapidly melting glaciers . More Than Honey, 2012 In light of mass colony collapse, this documentary seeks to provide a better understanding of the importance of honey bees while looking for answers as to what is causing the decline in bee populations. A Plastic Ocean, 2016 Adventurers Craig Leeson and Tanya Streeter team up with an international team of scientists and researchers to reveal the astonishing amount of plastic waste consuming the ocean and coastlines, endangering animals and polluting the food chain. The images and reporting cover 20 locations over the course of four years. Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story, 2014 This film uncovers the nasty truth behind food waste , from farms to retail consumption. The lens follows filmmakers Grant Baldwin and Jenny Rustemeyer as they vow to sustain themselves for six months without buying groceries, instead relying on food that would otherwise be thrown out. The Story of Stuff, 2007 The Story of Stuff appears to be a playful, 20-minute video that is actually a dart thrown directly into the bullseye of consumerism and capitalism. This powerful animation cuts straight to the point of the damaging effects of manufacturing, material sourcing, convenience and quick disposal of the “stuff” in our lives. Explained, 2018 This docuseries , a Netflix original, highlights a range of topics, many of which pertain to the environment. Look for episodes titled, “The Future of Meat,” and “The World’s Water Crisis” to get started. Tomorrow, 2015 Where many documentaries are fatalistic, Tomorrow aims to focus on the positive. From French filmmakers Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent, Tomorrow is a mostly uplifting journey around the planet, discovering people and communities focused on solutions through agriculture, energy , economy, education and government policy. Tapped, 2009 Plastic is a well-known environmental issue. In Tapped , directors Stephanie Soechtig and Jason Lindsey aim directly at the bottled water industry as a major contributor to the problem. They explore the financial and environmental impact of the industry, including material sources, manufacturing, and post-consumer waste. No Impact Man, 2009 Following the journey of author Colin Beavan, No Impact Man provides a look inside his dedication to going green. The cameras follow Beavan as he disconnects from all modern conveniences including electricity, gas-powered transportation, shipped food and public waste disposal in an effort to experience a life without environment impact. What begins as a journey about minimalism leads to a discovery about happiness, relationships and balance. How to Change the World, 2015 Drawing from archived video from 1971, this film tells the story of the passionate pioneers that founded Greenpeace and somewhat unintentionally gave birth to the green movement. Patrimonio, 2018 It’s happening all over the world — corporations moving into small communities and changing their ways of life. Patrimonio is an example of one community forever driven toward change as a resort and housing development, packaged commercially as a holistic yoga retreat, moves into town. Images via

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16 must-see environmental documentaries

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

Brazil turns down international aid for Amazon wildfires

August 28, 2019 by  
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Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is busy tweeting and arguing with French president Emmanuel Macron while enormous Amazon fires burn. The Group of Seven rich countries, otherwise known as the G7, has offered $22 million to combat fires raging throughout the rainforest. But Bolsonaro says he won’t accept the money unless Macron says he’s sorry. While at the G7 summit in France early this week, Macron urged his fellow leaders to action, calling the Amazon wildfires a world environmental crisis and accusing Bolsonaro of making it worse. He also called the Brazilian president a climate change skeptic. Bolsonaro was insulted and accused Macron of treating Brazil “as if we were a colony or no man’s land,” he said in a tweet. Related: Wildfires are decimating the Amazon rainforest at unprecedented rates Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, further dissed Macron by saying if the French president can’t “avoid a predictable fire in a church,” he might not have much to offer Brazil. This remark referred to the recent tragic blaze at Notre Dame . Fortunately for Bolsonaro, he can fall back on support in his mutual fan club with President Trump. “He is working very hard on the Amazon fires and in all respects doing a great job for the people of Brazil — Not easy,” tweeted Trump. Bolsonaro thanked Trump and accused Macron et al. of building a fake news campaign against him. Meanwhile, a football field and a half of the Amazon continues to burn every minute. Brazil could well be facing permanent changes to its ecology, such as former rainforest turning into arid landscape. “The Amazon is extremely fundamental for the water system all over the continent,” said Rosana Villar from Greenpeace. “So, if we cut off the forest, we are some years not going to have rain on the south of the country.” Critics say the $22 million offered by the G-7 countries including the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.K. wouldn’t be enough to stop the fires . But it would certainly go a lot farther than a juvenile tweet fight. Via NPR and CNN Image via NASA

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Brazil turns down international aid for Amazon wildfires

Save the environment by pooping less, says Bolsonaro

August 20, 2019 by  
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Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro recently suggested that people could save the environment if their bowels moved less frequently. His intestinal initiative could be accomplished by eating less food, he told one reporter. “You talk about environmental pollution,” Bolsonaro said. “It’s enough to poop every other day. That will be better for the whole world.” Meanwhile, he continues to face widespread backlash for the immense deforestation occurring in the Amazon since he took office. Bolsonaro, the South American country’s 38th president, has been in power since January. In that time, he’s voiced many unusual and far-right views about environmental issues. For example, Bolsonaro commented that only “ vegans , who eat only plants,” care about the environment. Related: Deforestation and climate change combined may split Amazon in two When the National Institute for Space Research released shocking data on rampant forest clearing in the Amazon , Bolsonaro accused the agency of data manipulation and fired the institute’s director. The institute had found more than 870 square miles of forests were cleared in July — 278 percent more than what was cleared in the same time frame last year. Bolsonaro said of the data, “We cannot accept sensationalism or the disclosure of inaccurate numbers that cause great damage to Brazil’s image.” It’s doubtful that the president’s new “waste” campaign will catch on. Defecation is notoriously hard to schedule, and people’s bowels march to the beats of their own drummers. According to Healthline , bowels might want to move three times per day, three times a week or anywhere in between. Eating less, as Brazil’s president suggested, may or may not lead to fewer bathroom visits; what you eat is also key. Those aiming for constipation should cut down on fiber, caffeine, alcohol and liquids in general. Aging, a sedentary lifestyle, stress and certain medications can also aid the quest to put it off till tomorrow, although this strange request “for the whole world” isn’t advised. The world waits in suspense to hear what Bolsonaro will say (or do) next. But consult your doctor before following the president’s gastrointestinal advice. Via AFP , Newsweek and PJ Media Image via Filios Sazeides

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Save the environment by pooping less, says Bolsonaro

Chattanooga becomes first 100% solar-powered airport in US

August 19, 2019 by  
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Tennessee’s fourth largest city, Chattanooga, became the first American airport to be 100 percent solar powered – and joins only a handful of airports who claim the same across the world.  The $5 million dollar solar farm project has been seven years in the making with funding by the Federal Aviation Administration. “This is a momentous day for the Chattanooga Airport as we complete our solar farm and achieve a major sustainability milestone,” said Terry Hart, the president and CEO of the Chattanooga Airport. “This project has immediate benefits to our airport and community, and we’re proud to set an example in renewable energy for other airports, businesses and our region. While generating a local renewable resource, we are also increasing the economic efficiency of the airport.” Related: Digging deeper for climate solutions: deep-root GMOs could feed world and store carbon While the Chattanooga airport is small and runs flights to just ten domestic cities, it has seen growth by over 500,000 additional passengers in the last year. The solar farm installation is reportedly the size of 16 football fields with capacity for 2.64 megawatts of energy and storage units that enable constant energy supply even during cloudy days and nighttime. The investment will pay for itself in approximately 20 years, and the installation is expected to last between 30 and 40 years with regular maintenance. The rise in popularity of renewable energy is partially due to increasing concern about climate change as well as the rise in affordability of solar panels. According to Forbes: “In 2009, for example, the average gross cost of installing a solar panel was $8.50 per watt. Now? Just shy of $2.98—a 65% decrease in 10 years.” This shift has made a broader range of large and small scale project possible. Internationally, India, the Galapagos Islands and South Africa also have 100 percent solar powered airports. In the U.S., the Denver Airport has a larger solar installation, but because of their scale of operations, Chattanooga is the only American airport so far that can claim 100 percent renewable energy . Via Forbes Image via jaidee

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Chattanooga becomes first 100% solar-powered airport in US

Geothermal-powered bus station will use anti-smog blocks to fight pollution

August 13, 2019 by  
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The Polish city of Lublin will soon be home to an environmentally friendly bus station that not only offers a new and attractive public space, but also combats urban air pollution. Designed by Polish architectural firm Tremend , the Integrated Intermodal Metropolitan Station in Lublin will be built near the train station and aims to revitalize the area around the railway station. The contemporary design, combined with its environmental focus and green features, earned the project a spot on World Architecture Festival’s World Building of the Year shortlist.  Located close to Folk Park, the Integrated Intermodal Metropolitan Station was designed as a visual extension of the neighboring green space with a lush roof garden and large green wall that wraps the northern facade. Greenery is also referenced in the series of sculptural tree-like pillars that support a massive flat roof with large overhanging eaves. Walls of glass create an inviting and safe atmosphere, while the administration rooms will be provided with tinted windows for privacy.  To reduce energy demands, the building will be heated with geothermal energy and outfitted with energy-efficient LEDs . Meanwhile, motion detectors will be used to activate the lighting to ensure energy savings. A rainwater collection and treatment system will also be used to irrigate the plants that create a cooling microclimate and improved air quality. Air quality is further improved with the use of “anti-smog blocks,” a modern photocatalytic material containing titanium dioxide that breaks down toxic fumes.  Related: Cepezed completes the first self-sufficient bus station in the Netherlands “Architecture of public places is evolving in my opinion in a very good direction,” says Magdalena Federowicz-Boule, President of the Tremend Board. “Combining different spaces, open shared zones favors establishing contacts. The communication center, which is to be built in Lublin, is to revive it for revitalization district and become a meeting place where people will be able to meet and spend together time in an attractive environment with green areas. The project is also a response to problems, related to environmental protection and city life, such as smog , water and energy consumption, noise. It is an image of how we perceive the role of ecology in architecture.” + Tremend

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Geothermal-powered bus station will use anti-smog blocks to fight pollution

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