Demand for sand: the largest mining industry no one talks about

May 23, 2019 by  
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The world’s largest and perhaps most destructive mining industry is rarely discussed. Approximately 85 percent of all material mined from the earth is a simple and widely available resource: sand. Because it is so cheap and readily available, it is mined by everyone from guy with a shovel, to multi-million dollar machine operations. The majority of sand is used to make concrete, but the displacement of sand leads to the catastrophic destruction of coastal, sea bed and river ecosystems and topography. The United Nations Environment Program estimates that 40 billion tons of sand are mined every year, but since the market is corrupt, hidden and decentralized there have been no comprehensive studies to date. In order to get a rough number, the United Nation’s used global cement production and sales figures to approximate how much sand is collected. For example, every ton of cement requires six to seven tons of sand and gravel in order to make concrete. Related: Mining in Tasmania raises water pollution concerns to a new high The environmental impact Sand mining, especially when done without regulation or oversight, can damage rivers, cause beach erosion and destroy coastal ecosystems . At least 24 Indonesian islands disappeared off the map just to build Singapore. Since sand dredging occurs primarily for construction purposes, miners target river and coastal ecosystems where the sand is ideal. River sand is particularly perfect for concrete because it is coarse and does not contain salt that would otherwise corrode metal and other building materials. In addition to disturbing riverbed and river bank ecosystems, altering the flow and capacity of rivers can cause drought or disastrous flooding– though rarely recognized as a contributing factor. In Kerala, India, flooding was found to be partially caused by sand dredging that took 40 times more sand out of the river bed than the river could naturally replace. Dredging sea grass habitat can also cause sediment to drift for miles causing both coastal erosion and smothering ecosystems like coral reefs . Erosion, land subsidence and the introduction of heavy machinery and vehicles into delicate habitats also threatens the integrity of nearby infrastructure such as roads and bridges. One study found that every ton of sand taken from a river in California cost taxpayers $3 in infrastructure damage. Cities’ demand for sand Development and urbanization are expanding rapidly in every corner of the world to accommodate an exponentially growing population and our insatiable rates of consumption and expansion. According to the United Nations, the number of people living in cities is more than four times what it was in the 1950s. Over 50 percent of the world’s population now lives in urban areas with nearly three billion additional people expected to migrate to cities in the next 30 years. In addition to new buildings, sand is also used for land expansion projects. In China , it is a common practice to dump sand on top of coral reefs to speed the process of building land. Dubai is also famous for its man-made islands, which required millions of tons of sand. Singapore has added over 50 square miles of land in the past four decades and more skyscrapers in the last 10 years than all of New York City— a feat that required over 500 million tons of sand. The creation of Singapore was so rapid that Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam all banned the export of sand, but miners simply moved to Lake Poyang on the Yangtze River. The WWF calls this Lake the largest sand mine in the world, but it is tragically also Asia’s largest destination for migratory birds . Sand dredging activities have more than doubled the river’s capacity in certain areas, draining parts of the lake and reducing key fisheries. “It’s the same story as over-fishing and over-foresting,” says Pascal Peduzzi, from the United Nations Environment Program. “It’s another way to look at unsustainable development .” The scale of the problem is enormous and the consequences of moving massive amounts of life-and land-sustaining material from one place to another is glaring but the world remains functionally oblivious, blinded by the desire for new buildings and up-and-coming neighborhoods. Related: NYC considers Manhattan land expansion to fight climate change Can sand dredging be done sustainably? River ecologists suggest that sand dredging in rivers should only be done up to a pre-determined quota that allows the river to annually replenish sediment. However, this sustainable number will never equal humanity’s unsustainable need for development. There are a number of suggestions to improve the sustainability of the industry, but none are perfect: Offshore sand mining Britain now sources much of its sand further offshore in order to protect river and coastal ecosystems, however, much of this sand is only used for land reclamation projects where the salt content is not a concern. Sandy bottom reservoirs Another untapped source is the sand that collects at the bottom of reservoirs. Dredging reservoirs could not only provide sand but also helps to expand storage capacity. Ecologists, however, argue that this sand should technically be put back into the rivers that feed into reservoirs. Recycling glass and rubble Rubble from demolished buildings can be used to produce concrete, reducing the need for fresh sand. Glass can also be recycled , which again reduces the need for sand. Mining on flood plains Limited mining on floodplains, rather than riverbanks and riverbeds, is thought to be less destructive. However, floodplains also have fragile ecosystems. In Australia, floodplains are home to rare carnivorous plant species that are now at risk from mining activities. Replacing sand in concrete Ash from incinerators and dust from stone quarries can be used in the production of concrete to reduce the demand for sand. Via Yale Environment 360 Images via Shutterstock

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Demand for sand: the largest mining industry no one talks about

Artist installs nature-inspired tiny house made out of recycled glass and plastic in Times Square

May 21, 2019 by  
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Brooklyn-based artist Fernando Mastrangelo has combined his passion for art and sustainability into one gorgeously green tiny home . The artist, who is known for using unique materials in his work, has just unveiled Tiny Home, a “recycled tiny house sculpture” made out of recycled plastic and glass. The 175-square foot home, which comes complete with a garden-filled courtyard, is currently open to the public in New York’s Times Square. According to Mastrangelo, the design for the 175-square-foot home was inspired by nature and climate change. Part of the ongoing NYCxDESIGN event, the tiny home is an interactive space that the artist hopes will demonstrate to visitors how eco-minded architecture is fundamental in creating a better world with less waste. Related: 8 tiny homes built tough for off-grid living The unique tiny home is made out of a variety of reclaimed materials. The ombre effect on the exterior, which gives off the illusion of a mountain range, was made out of recycled plastic . On the interior, reclaimed glass fragments were used on the walls and ceiling using the artist’s signature cement casting technique. Further into the space, a blue wall with large circular cutout leads to a soothing courtyard with a lush garden (designed by  Brook Landscape ) that wraps around the exterior, highlighting the strong connection between architecture and mother nature. Mastrangelo explains that as an artist, he feels the need to not only use eco-friendly materials to expand his own artwork, but as a way of embracing a new model of creation, “as spaces begin to be experienced more and more virtually, the boundaries of our imaginations — as architects and designers — are no longer limited to what we can physically build,” he explains “that’s where tiny house comes in; a space where the future of design can be experienced in real life.” The Tiny Home will be on display and open to the public at Time Square until May 22. + Fernando Mastrangelo Via Designboom Images via Fernando Mastrangelo Studio

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Artist installs nature-inspired tiny house made out of recycled glass and plastic in Times Square

Meet ‘Blade’, the world’s first 3D-printed hypercar

May 21, 2019 by  
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At first glance, any motorhead would be head over heels for Blade — a sleek sportscar with shimmery deep magenta facade. The aerodynamicity of the car is obvious from its low, curved volume. Yet, this isn’t just any supercar that has just hit the market. Created by San Francisco-based startup  Divergent Microfactories,  Blade’s chassis was entirely 3-D printed. 3D printing is already revolutionizing the manufacturing process around the world. Printing in 3D makes products such as furniture, jewelry, machinery and even cars, more lightweight, but without sacrificing durability. Not only does 3D printing offer a new, faster and more reliable way of manufacturing, but it is also more affordable and sustainable. Related: World’s first mass-producible 3D-printed electric car will cost under $10K Within the automotive industry, sustainability is an aspect that, according to Divergent founder and CEO, Kevin Czinger, can no longer be ignored. “We have got to rethink how we manufacture, because — when we go from 2 billion cars today to 6 billion cars in a couple of decades — if we don’t do that, we’re going to destroy the planet,” Czinger expains. The startup has been working on the Blade design for years. The car’s chassis is a 3D printed aluminum “node” joint, which is made up of carbon fiber tubes that plug into the nodes to form a strong and lightweight frame for the car, weighs just 1,400 pounds. According to the company, the 3D manufacturing process reduces the weight of the chassis by as much as 90 percent when compared to conventional vehicles. The Blade features a 700HP engine capable of running on both compressed natural gas (CNG) and gas. As for performance, its light weight enables the supercar to accelerate to 0-60 m.p.h in 2.2 seconds. But, in case you’re itchin’ to get the metal to the pedal in this sweet ride, you’ll have to wait. The company has only manufactured a few models, but hopes to start working with boutique manufacturers soon to start producing more. + Divergent 3D Images via Divergent 3D

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Meet ‘Blade’, the world’s first 3D-printed hypercar

New report reveals 70 million metric tons of plastic burned worldwide each year

May 21, 2019 by  
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A new report reveals the scale of the world’s plastic problem and the alarming amount of plastic that is burned. Despite the grave and well-documented consequences for human health, about 12 percent of all plastic in the U.S. is burned. In middle- and low-income countries without the infrastructure to recycle, plastic is burned at a much higher rate. According to the report , published by Tearfund, Fauna & Flora International, WasteAid and The Institute of Development Studies, a double-decker bus full of plastic is burned or dumped every single second. When calculated annually, that is equivalent to 70 million metric tons. Burning plastic releases toxic chemicals into the air that have been linked to heart disease, headache, nausea, rashes and damage to the kidney, liver and nervous system. In low- and middle-income countries without garbage facilities, the majority of trash is burned near homes — such as in the backyard — and poses direct threat to the inhabitants. In many cases, repeated exposure to the chemicals can lead to respiratory problems such as asthma and emphysema. Related: Microplastic rain — new study reveals microplastics are in the air In wealthier countries, new incinerator technology claims to burn trash with fewer direct health concerns. The negative health impacts of plastic are not new; in fact, this month the United Nations voted to list plastic as a hazardous waste material . Since the 1950s, 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced, and nearly half of that is only used once . This number is enormous but hard for many people to truly understand. According to National Geographic , this will be equivalent to the weight of 35,000 Empire State Buildings by 2050. But do these abstract numbers really help us put our problem into perspective? The first step is understanding the world’s addiction to plastic, but then specific actions must be taken. The American Chemistry Council, which contested the report’s results, argues that governments and companies need to enforce stricter requirements for packaging. Last year, major plastic producers formed the Alliance to End Plastic Waste , inclusive of Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, Formosa Plastics Corp. and Procter & Gamble. The Alliance promised to invest $1.5 billion into the effort to reduce plastic’s impact on the environment. Via HuffPost Image via Stacie DePonte

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New report reveals 70 million metric tons of plastic burned worldwide each year

Piecing together the shattered economics of glass recycling

March 7, 2017 by  
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Municipal recyclers say there is no demand for recycled glass. Glass processing companies say they can’t get enough.

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Piecing together the shattered economics of glass recycling

9 Valentines Day gifts that last longer than a bouquet of flowers or box of chocolates

February 9, 2017 by  
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If you are feeling like you are in a Valentine’s Day gifts idea rut, we’ve got some good, green suggestions for you. While some are simply more eco-friendly and sustainable versions of traditional Valentine’s presents, we’ve also rounded up a few other unexpected ideas, gifts that benefit others. Whether helping to fund solar energy projects in Chad, empowering women, or employing artisans around the world, these presents are made to last, and that is good for everyone. 1. Succulent garden Long-lasting and harder for brown thumbs to kill, succulent plants make a lovely gift for homeowners and Lula’s Garden takes in-home and easy gardening to the next level with its Valentine’s Day collection . The SoCal-sourced succulents come in their own planter gift box and are pre-planted, eliminating packaging waste. Cali residents have even more options for a selection. 2. Lingerie with an eco ethos Lingerie isn’t exactly a novel Valentine’s Day gift idea, but these aren’t your average bra and underwear offerings. Naja’s gorgeous lingerie is made using digital and sublimation printing, drastically reducing the amount of water used in the manufacturing process. They also include fabrics made from recycled plastic bottles and are experimenting with other eco-friendly fabrics and technologies. The majority of Naja’s garment factory employees are single moms or female heads of households; in addition to flexible work policies, above-market wages, and healthcare benefits, the children of every Naja garment worker receives books, school supplies, uniforms, and school meals paid by Naja. Naja is serious about empowering women, but the brand is happy to toe the line between playful and sophisticated with cheeky knickers printed with adorable animals as well as elegant nude lingerie options for a variety of skin shades. 3. Artisan gift box Subscription gift boxes have exploded in recent years, and the monthly gifts from Globe In bring a socially conscious and artistic bent to the trend. Each themed “box” comes in a handwoven palm leaf basket filled with a variety of goodies. The Cozy Box, for example, includes a fair trade scarf from Thailand, a hand-painted Tunisian mug, and fair trade cocoa powder from Ghana . Whether you buy a one-off box or a monthly subscription, your gift is guaranteed to be a hit and to help artisans and makers around the world. 4. Hand-poured candles that help provide solar energy Starling Project candles come in four fragrances ranging from sultry Juniper + Saffron to comforting Vanilla + Hemlock. Soy-based and hand-poured in Brooklyn, the candles come in handmade glass containers and last up to 60 hours. Starling candles help bring light to homes across the world: the company has donated over $100,000 to UNICEF solar energy projects in Chad. 5. Sustainable and sophisticated jewelry Philadelphia-based jewelry brand Bario Neal is known for creating classic and cutting edge pieces that use ethically-sourced and recycled materials and for using low-impact environmentally conscious practices (which you can read about here ). Whether you go the custom route or grab a pair of modern diamond studs , the jewelry wizards at this proudly feminist company will create a piece that is traceable and responsible. 6. The gift of education The quickest way to make a $58 gift last a whole year? Make a donation to the International Rescue Committee and sponsor a girl’s education for a school year . The IRC works around the globe to help people whose lives are affected by conflict and crisis and to improve communities through education, economic wellbeing, and health efforts. In 2015, the IRC helped educate more than 13,000 girls in Afghanistan alone! 7. Hand-crafted home goods made from reclaimed and repurposed materials The husband and wife team that formed Peg and Awl have a gift for creating  practical and durable heirlooms for both the home and people. Their ever-expanding line of handmade goods includes roomy waxed canvas weekender bags with vintage zippers ,  macabre recycled metal rings , and a tree swing . Every piece is crafted in an old casket factory, and many are reclaimed from materials that are over 100-years-old. Image via Tamar Nahir Yanai’s Etsy page 8. A crafting kit Give the gift of creativity…and perhaps a little peace and quiet. An embroidery kit is a perfect, easy entrée into the world of crafting ; it’s also a balm for the soul during turbulent times. Whether you choose a kit with a wildflower theme, a mandala design, or something unexpected , getting your love’s hands moving in another way besides working their thumbs to a frenzy on their device is rejuvenating and restorative, not to mention fun. If you are gifting this to a mom or dad with young ones, be sure to include a “coupon” to watch his or her little ones so that crafting time is blissfully uninterrupted. 9. Recycled glass barware Elevate your after-dinner drinks with recycled glassware from Bambeco . Pick your poison and sip it thoughtfully, perhaps from the five beer flight  which includes a reclaimed wine barrel stave holder as well as five glasses made from recycled wine coolers.  Or knock back a cold one in a recycled   lager glass crafted in a factory that uses recycled cooking and engine oil to fuel the furnace and reuses gray water and collected rainwater in the production process. Lead image via Lula’s Garden

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9 Valentines Day gifts that last longer than a bouquet of flowers or box of chocolates

Recycled glass tiles offer a dual exploration of beauty in the discarded

April 1, 2016 by  
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Artaic’s latest designs examine the concept of reuse through patterns and textures of discarded material created in 100% recycled glass tile. The unique series, which presents stylized motifs of scrap paper, peeling paint, torn cardboard, dismantled pallets, and reclaimed wood, draws inspiration from the tile material itself – produced entirely from waste glass. Read the rest of Recycled glass tiles offer a dual exploration of beauty in the discarded

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Recycled glass tiles offer a dual exploration of beauty in the discarded

Raise A Glass To Ohio’s Recycling Success

November 4, 2015 by  
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Glass. It should be one of the most easily recyclable materials. Glass can be recycled into new bottles and jars an infinite number of times and it never wears out. Making new glass items from recycled glass reduces related water pollution by 50%….

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Raise A Glass To Ohio’s Recycling Success

Artist Nikki Ella Whitlock recycles wine bottle fragments into ethereal mosaics

February 3, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Artist Nikki Ella Whitlock recycles wine bottle fragments into ethereal mosaics Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Bottles , eco design , eco-art , found objects , glass bottles , green design , mosaic , mosaic art , Mosaics , Nikki Ella Whitlock , recycle art , recycled art , recycled art mosaic , recycled glass , recycled glass mosaic , sustainable design , upcycled glass , Whitlock , wine bottle fragments , wine bottle mosaic , wine bottle mosaics , Wine Bottles

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Artist Nikki Ella Whitlock recycles wine bottle fragments into ethereal mosaics

“Family cloths” reusable toilet wipes: gross or great?

February 3, 2015 by  
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  Many of us who try to lead eco-conscious lifestyles are likely already using many reusable, washable fabric items for both household and personal use. Cotton dish cloths, washable baby diapers , handkerchiefs , and Glad Rags-type menstrual cloths are growing in popularity, but there’s one area in which we may all be eco-offenders: the ‘loo. Enter “family cloths”, also known as reusable toilet paper. These are washable strips of cotton flannel that folks can use to wipe with, but are they just too gross for most people to consider? Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Missing Attachment Read the rest of “Family cloths” reusable toilet wipes: gross or great? Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: cloth diaper , cloth diapers , family cloths , laundry , menstrual cloth , reusable wipes , toilet paper , toilet wipes , water conservation , water pollution

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