Will shifting to smaller turkeys help combat food waste?

November 25, 2020 by  
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Will shifting to smaller turkeys help combat food waste? Jesse Klein Wed, 11/25/2020 – 05:00 Thanksgiving looks different this year in America. Grandpas and grandmas, uncles and aunts, and cousins of all numbers probably aren’t gathering together for dinner, unless it’s over Zoom. That reality is creating challenges for producers and suppliers — and new implications for holiday food waste. Holidays — and Thanksgiving, in particular — are huge food waste days. During a typical year, American families throw away 200 million pounds of turkey on Thanksgiving. And anothe r 200 million pound s of sides will also wind up in the garbage can. But with the coronavirus contracting many people’s Thanksgiving dinners to just their immediate households this year, those numbers are likely to be dramatically different for 2020. Just as food producers shifted at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to accommodate the decrease in demand from restaurants, some are pivoting this fall again to provide smaller turkeys for smaller Thanksgiving dinners. Heifer USA , part of Heifer International, a nonprofit that works with small farms, helped farmers change tactics to produce these smaller turkeys. Heifer USA sells through the e-commerce organization Grass Roots Coop directly to consumers.  “Because of the short value chain, we could to pivot very quickly,” said Donna Kilpatrick, the ranch manager and land steward of Heifer USA. “There’s much more agility as a short value chain.” Because of the short value chain, we could to pivot very quickly. According to Kilpatrick, big supermarket chains order their turkeys almost a year in advance, so it’s hard to adjust to shifting demand. Grass Roots was able to get feedback directly from its customers and communicate their changing preferences this year to poultry farmers. Poultry farmers, in turn, sent their turkeys to be processed a few weeks earlier than usual to give cooks smaller and lighter-weight options. According to Grass Roots, the extra-large turkeys were the last to sell out this year, and it made the decision to cut up a higher percentage (compared to last year) of the larger turkeys into breasts and legs because it expected customers to have smaller gatherings. “If it threw anyone off track it would be in our processing facility that is booked and has to quickly change dates,” Kilpatrick said. “Now that can be difficult. I would say they bore the brunt of having to make some shifts.”  Grass Roots sold 3,000 turkeys this year, but also saw an uptick in turkey products including legs, breast and ground meat, signaling that some consumers maybe aren’t cooking an entire bird for just a few people but looking for alternatives to get their turkey fix. This year, Grass Roots reported that it saw a 219 percent lift in ground turkey sales and a 440 percent lift in turkey breast sales. Selling smaller turkeys, especially this year, will hopefully cut back on those millions of pounds of food waste and put consumers on a path to a less wasteful Christmas and 2021 Thanksgiving, even when the COVID pandemic is hopefully behind us Pull Quote Because of the short value chain, we could to pivot very quickly. Topics Food & Agriculture Food Waste Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Turkey sales are shifting to smaller birds this year and could help decrease Thanksgiving food waste.//Courtesy of Unsplash

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Will shifting to smaller turkeys help combat food waste?

AI doesn’t have to be a power hog

July 30, 2020 by  
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AI doesn’t have to be a power hog Heather Clancy Thu, 07/30/2020 – 02:15 Plenty of prognostications, including this one from the World Economic Forum, tout the integral role artificial intelligence could play in “saving the planet.”  Indeed, AI is integral to all manner of technologies, ranging from autonomous vehicles to more informed disaster response systems to smart buildings and data collection networks monitoring everything from energy consumption to deforestation.  The flip side to this rosy view is that there are plenty of ethical concerns to consider. What’s more, the climate impact of AI — both in terms of power consumption and all the electronic waste that gadgets create — is a legitimate, growing concern. Research from the University of Massachusetts Amherst suggests the process of “training” neural networks to make decisions or searching them to find answers uses five times the lifetime emissions of the average U.S. car. Not an insignificant amount.  What does that mean if things continue on their current trajectory? Right now, data centers use about 2 percent of the world’s electricity. At the current rate of AI adoption — with no changes in the underlying computer server hardware and software — the data centers needed to run those applications could claim 15 percent of that power load, semiconductor firm Applied Materials CEO Gary Dickerson predicted in August 2019 . Although progress is being made, he reiterated that warning last week. At the current rate of AI adoption — with no changes in the underlying computer server hardware and software — the data centers needed to run those applications could claim 15 percent of that power load. “Customized design will be critical,” he told attendees of a longstanding industry conference, SemiconWest . “New system architectures, new application-specific chip designs, new ways to connect memory and logic, new memories and in-memory compute can all drive significant improvements in compute performance per watt.” So, what’s being done to “bend the curve,” so to speak? Technologists from Applied Materials, Arm, Google, Intel, Microsoft and VMware last week shared insights about advances that could help us avoid the most extreme future scenarios, if the businesses investing in AI technologies start thinking differently. While much of the panel (which I helped organize) was highly technical, here are four of my high-level takeaways for those thinking about harnessing AI for climate solutions. Get acquainted with the concept of “die stacking” in computing hardware design. There is concern that Moore’s Law , the idea that the number of transistors on integrated circuit will double every two years, is slowing down. That’s why more semiconductor engineers are talking up designs that stack multiple chips on top of each other within a system, allowing more processing capability to fit in a given space.  Rob Aitken, a research fellow with microprocessor firm Arm, predicts these designs will show up first in computing infrastructure that couples high-performance processing with very localized memory. “The vertical stacking essentially allows you to get more connectivity bandwidth, and it allows you to get that bandwidth at lower capacitance for lower power use, and also a lower delay, which means improved performance,” he said during the panel. So, definitely look for far more specialized hardware. Remember this acronym, MRAM. It stands for magnetic random-access memory , a format that uses far less power in standby mode than existing technologies, which require energy to maintain the “state” of their information and respond quickly to processing requests when they pop up. Among the big-name players eyeing this market: Intel; Micron; Qualcomm; Samsung; and Toshiba. Plenty of R&D power there. Consider running AI applications in cloud data centers using carbon-free energy. That could mean deferring the processing power needed for certain workloads to times of day when a facility is more likely to be using renewable energy. “If we were able to run these workloads when we had this excess of green, clean, energy, right now we have these really high compute workloads running clean, which is exactly what we want,” said Samantha Alt, cloud solution architect at Intel. “But what if we take this a step further, and we only had the data center running when this clean energy was available? We have a data center that’s awake when we have this excess amount of green, clean energy, and then asleep when it’s not.” This is a technique that Google talked up in April, but it’s not yet widely used, and it will require attention to new cooling designs to keep the facilities from running too hot as well as memory components that can respond dynamically when a facility goes in and out of sleep mode. New system architectures, new application-specific chip designs, new ways to connect memory and logic, new memories and in-memory compute can all drive significant improvements in compute performance per watt.   Live on the edge. That could mean using specialized AI-savvy processors in some gadgets or systems you’re trying to make smarter such as automotive systems or smart phones or a building system. Rather than sending all the data to a massive, centralized cloud service, the processing (at least some of it) happens locally. Hey, if energy systems can be distributed, why not data centers?  “We have a lot of potential to move forward, especially when we bring AI to the edge,” said Moe Tanabian, general manager for intelligent devices at Microsoft. “Why is edge important? There are lots of AI-driven tasks and benefits that we derive from AI that are local in nature. You want to know how many people are in a room: people counting. This is very valuable because when the whole HVAC system of the whole building can be more efficient, you can significantly lower the balance of energy consumption in major buildings.” The point to all this is that getting to a nirvana in which AI can handle many things we’d love it to handle to help with the climate crisis will require some pretty substantial upgrades to the computing infrastructure that underlies it. The environmental implications of those system overhauls need to be part of data center procurement criteria immediately, and the semiconductor industry needs to step up with the right answers. Intel and AMD have been leading the way, and Applied Materials last week threw down the gauntlet , but more of the industry needs to wake up. This article first appeared in GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, VERGE Weekly, running Wednesdays. Subscribe here . Follow me on Twitter: @greentechlady. Pull Quote At the current rate of AI adoption — with no changes in the underlying computer server hardware and software — the data centers needed to run those applications could claim 15 percent of that power load. New system architectures, new application-specific chip designs, new ways to connect memory and logic, new memories and in-memory compute can all drive significant improvements in compute performance per watt. Topics Information Technology Energy & Climate Artificial Intelligence Featured Column Practical Magic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Dutch designer creates leather alternative from palm leaves

December 5, 2018 by  
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The leather industry has taken a beating from conscientious consumers for decades, and for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the chemicals used in leather processing are toxic to humans and the environment. Animal advocates are also vocal about protecting the animals used to produce leather. So opponents of leather are always seeking alternatives. One Dutch designer, Tjeerd Veenhoven, is doing his part by developing leather look-alike rugs from palm leaves, called palm leather. Rather than relying on the resource-consuming practice of raising cattle, Veenhoven sources his materials from some of the 80 million trees currently growing naturally, creating a sustainable option to traditional leather. Related: A former leather tannery is transformed into an apartment trio in Lisbon Curiosity launched the invention when Veenhoven became intrigued by the pattern and texture of the palm leaf and asked a friend in India to send him some to experiment with. Although naturally brittle, he found that with glycerin, water and a few other materials he could soften the palm and give it better pliable qualities. Veenhoven’s motivation stems from the belief that producing less meat sources both for food and materials will benefit the planet through the reduction of required resources and the increase in plant systems that are more sustainable. Because of this belief, the processing of palm leather aims to use minimal water compared to cotton or leather and uses no harmful chemicals. In fact, all ingredients could be consumed by humans and are safe to return to nature. Bouncing around from his initial production in Holland, the manufacturing moved to India and then to the Dominican Republic where they are produced now with an emphasis on green initiatives. Related: Nike calls “Flyleather” its most sustainable leather material yet The rugs are assembled with small strips of the palm leather pressed together and mounted to a woven base, which can be produced in a variety of colors to suit different decor needs. The future of palm leather looks promising as other industries begin to notice it and the company focuses on other products that can be made with it. For example, car manufacturers striving to replace leather seats with a vegan option are eager to consider palm leather as an alternative. + Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven Via Dezeen Images via Tjeerd Veenhoven    

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UK’s first energy positive classroom produces 1.5x the energy it uses

June 29, 2018 by  
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After one year in operation, the numbers are in: the United Kingdom ‘s first energy-positive classroom is capable of producing 1.5 times the amount of energy it needs to operate. Known as the Active Classroom, the energy-producing classroom stands as a shining example of what is possible as the U.K. and other nations attempt to transform their energy systems in response to climate change. The building was designed by experts at SPECIFIC, a U.K. Innovation and Knowledge Center led by Swansea University, whose “research focuses on developing solar technologies and the processing techniques that take them from the lab to full-scale buildings,” according to its research director Dave Worsley . Currently, 40 percent of British energy is consumed by buildings. The Active Classroom incorporates several different technologies and design features to achieve its net positive energy status. The roof is curved and lined with laminated photovoltaic panels , while a thermal photovoltaic system is installed on the southern facing wall of the building, capable of producing heat and energy from its sun -exposed location. To store this energy, the classroom harnesses lithium ion batteries and a 2,000 liter water tank specifically for storing solar heat. Related: Magical new classroom reconnects children with nature in the UK The Active Classroom stands next to the Active Office, a similar structure built by SPECIFIC. “The Active Office and Classroom will be linked together and able to share energy with each other and electric vehicles , demonstrating how the concept could be applied in an energy-resilient solar-powered community,” Worsley said. These buildings are designed to be simple and quick to assemble, taking only about a week to set up. “It’s difficult to overstate the potential of developing a building that powers itself,” explained Innovate U.K. executive chair Ian Campbell . “The concept could genuinely revolutionize not only the construction sector but completely change how we create and use energy.” + SPECIFIC Via ScienceDaily Images via SPECIFIC

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Your macaroni and cheese could contain harmful industrial chemicals

July 14, 2017 by  
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Around 10 years ago, chemicals called phthalates were banned from children’s toys. But researchers recently detected them in food children (and all of us) commonly eat: macaroni and cheese. Phthalates can disrupt hormones and have been connected to birth defects, but were found in high amounts in the powdered cheese common in macaroni and cheese mixes. Researchers tested 30 cheese products and found phthalates in 29 of them; in powdered cheese, phthalate amounts were four times higher than in other cheese products. The potentially harmful chemicals are used in plastics or packaging ink, so while they’re not intentionally added to food, they can migrate into products via food processing equipment or packaging. Related: Glyphosate found in Cheerios, Kashi cookies, and other popular food items The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not banned phthalates in food. But according to the research summary , phthalates threaten the health of pregnant women and children. Researchers said there are multiple studies that connect prenatal exposure to the chemicals with with abnormal brain development. The New York Times said phthalates have been connected with behavior and learning issues in children. The researchers decided to test cheese after a 2014 scientific review said dairy products are “the greatest source of dietary exposure” to DEHP – which the researchers describe as the phthalate most widely restricted – for babies and women who could get pregnant. In this recent research, among all 30 products, DEHP was detected most commonly and in higher average concentrations than other phthalates. The researchers are calling on Kraft to take action; nine of the tested products were made by the company. The Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging, a group of nonprofit organizations, released the research summary on the website #KleanUpKraft in time for National Macaroni and Cheese Day today. Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families campaign director Mike Schade said in a statement, “The good news is that there are safer, affordable alternatives to phthalates. Kraft should identify and eliminate any phthalates in its cheese products by ensuring that safer alternatives are used in food processing and packaging materials throughout its supply chain.” + #KleanUpKraft Via The New York Times and the Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging Images via Pixabay and Mike Mozart on Flickr

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Your macaroni and cheese could contain harmful industrial chemicals

Google Avoiding ‘Red List’ Building Materials

June 30, 2011 by  
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Last month, Google announced that it would no longer use any of the construction materials found on the Living Building Challenge’s “red list.” For a company that is opening new office space at a rate of 40,000 square feet (about 3,700 square meters) per week, that’s a lot of construction activity, and a lot of materials that are no longer being used for those projects. It’s also a leadership role from a company that wants to be environmentally positive. The red list (as opposed to the green list) is a list of construction materials that include components made from products such as mercury, asbestos, PVC, formaldehyde and lead

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Google Avoiding ‘Red List’ Building Materials

Coffee Processing Civet Family Splits in Three

September 30, 2010 by  
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Image credit: Wikimedia Commons No one likes to see a family pulled apart , but in this case the result is two new species: Scientists studying the genome of Paradoxurus hermaphroditus have decided that, in fact, the Asian palm civet is three distinct species…. Read the full story on TreeHugger

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Coffee Processing Civet Family Splits in Three

Schwarzenegger Blasts "Black Oil Hearts" of Prop 23 Backers

September 30, 2010 by  
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Say what you will about California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, but despite being the onetime public face of the Hummer , he’s consistently come out on the side of good green policy for his state. And he may have just offered up his most vehement defense of any green law out there, criticizing the Texas oil company-led effort to pass Proposition 23, which would overturn California’s groundbreaking climate law.

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Schwarzenegger Blasts "Black Oil Hearts" of Prop 23 Backers

Lance Armstrong Tweets About His New Nissan LEAF

September 30, 2010 by  
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Image: Twitter screen grab Looks Pretty Sweet! Lance Armstrong, uber-cyclist, crime fighter , and electric car early-adopter , has just tweeted that his new Nissan LEAF electric car has arrived. He sent a pic (see below for a bigger version), and it looks good. A nice change from the blue paint that almost all LEAFs have had so far…

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Lance Armstrong Tweets About His New Nissan LEAF

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