Here’s how Joe Biden could cultivate a more sustainable food system

November 13, 2020 by  
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Here’s how Joe Biden could cultivate a more sustainable food system Jim Giles Fri, 11/13/2020 – 00:14 Let’s do a quick thought experiment. Imagine stepping into an elevator and realizing that the man next to you is President-elect Joe Biden. You have 30 seconds to urge him to focus on a particular issue. What would it be? Earlier this week, I invited leaders from food and agriculture to play that game. Specifically, I asked them what Biden’s administration should do to accelerate progress toward a more sustainable food system. I got more responses than I can share in a single newsletter, so I’ll be rolling out answers weekly until the end of the year. Here are three — spanning farm spending, technical support and farmers of color — to get the conversation started. No need to wait for Congress One of the most encouraging responses emphasized that there’s a lot Biden can do without additional support from Congress.  “The U.S. Department of Agriculture can take advantage of tools and money it already has to help farmers transition to more climate-friendly practices that can also lead to improved farm economic resilience in the long term,” said Chris Adamo, vice president of federal and industry affairs at Danone North America. “Via the Farm Bill, the department spends approximately $6 billion annually on conservation practices. As part of its conservation funding, the USDA could prioritize soil health through cover crops, crop diversification and other regenerative practices, and partner with the private sector to leverage resources.” Adamo added: “The current administration has also spent over $30 billion compensating farmers for COVID and trade-related losses. However, many farmers may not be in a better situation in the short term. If we’re going to continue to pay for market losses, it may be better to invest with diversity, equity and climate in mind.” Boots on the ground The federal government also can help support ongoing private sector projects in food and ag, where many companies are already working to cut greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and to regenerate farmland and waterways.  “To support this transition, the USDA should boost farmer and rancher program service delivery through more boots-on-the-ground technical assistance,” said Debbie Reed, executive director of the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium . “There continues to be a real need for technical assistance to transfer knowledge, outcomes and benefits to working farmers and ranchers.” If we’re going to continue to pay for market losses, it may be better to invest with diversity, equity and climate in mind. Particularly when it comes to conservation programs, this support needs to recognize that different farmers have different needs, Reed added. In practice, this means it needs to be place-based and flexible enough to allow farmers and ranchers to improve environmental impacts without incurring excessive risk. One way to deliver this, suggested Reed, would be to rebuild the ranks of the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, which have fallen dramatically over the past two decades. Protect farmers of color Black farmers sometimes refer to the USDA as “the last plantation” due to the agency’s long history of discriminating against farmers of color. The results of this lack of support have been devastating. A century ago, there were a million Black farmers in the United States. Now just 45,000 remain, each earning, on average, one-fifth of what white farmers do.  That history is why Leah Penniman, co-director and manager of Soul Fire Farm in upstate New York, is urging Biden to enact protections and support for farmers of color. These include expanded access to credit, crop insurance and technical assistance; independent review of farmland foreclosures; and debt forgiveness programs where discrimination has been proven. (If you’re interested in learning more about this issue, Penniman helped create Elizabeth Warren’s policy proposals in this area , which remain some of the most ambitious.) What would you say to Biden during your shared elevator ride? Let me know at jg@greenbiz.com . I’ll include as many responses as possible in Food Weekly during the transition period. This article was adapted from the GreenBiz Food Weekly newsletter. Sign up here to receive your own free subscription. Pull Quote If we’re going to continue to pay for market losses, it may be better to invest with diversity, equity and climate in mind. Topics Food & Agriculture Policy & Politics Social Justice Regenerative Agriculture Featured Column Foodstuff Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Biden-Harris supporters gather at a farm market in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, for a “get out the vote” event on the eve of the 2020 presidential election. Shutterstock Ben Von Klemperer Close Authorship

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Here’s how Joe Biden could cultivate a more sustainable food system

Timberland invests in regenerative leather ranches

June 19, 2020 by  
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Timberland invests in regenerative leather ranches Deonna Anderson Fri, 06/19/2020 – 02:45 Regenerative agriculture practices have received a lot of attention in recent years, and much of the focus has been on food production. But more companies outside of the food space are figuring out how they can invest in or use regenerative practices in the supply chain for their products.  One of those companies is Timberland, which in late May announced a new partnership with the Savory Institute, a nonprofit focused on the large-scale regeneration of the world’s grasslands. The move comes on the heels of Timberland’s announcing a collaboration with Other Half Processing , which sources hides from Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed regenerative ranches, to build a more responsible leather supply chain. The new partnership with the Savory Institute is two-pronged. One of those prongs is Timberland’s move to co-fund the Savory Institute’s ecological outcome verification (EOV) programs on all ranches within the Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed network, made up of early adopter regenerative ranches across the United States. The investment is part of a larger sustainability strategy at Timberland that is focused on three pillars — better products, stronger communities and a greener world.  This offers an opportunity to actually source in a way that can help restore the environments that we sourced from, and actually have a net positive effect of giving back more than we take. “What’s so exciting about the regenerative agriculture opportunity is basically that it’s a way that we can hit on all three of those pillars with one project,” said Zack Angelini, environmental stewardship manager at Timberland, the outdoor apparel and footwear manufacturing company, which uses leather for much of its outdoor wear. “This offers an opportunity to actually source in a way that can help restore the environments that we sourced from, and actually have a net positive effect of giving back more than we take.” The funding, which Timberland shares with Thousand Hills, will help the EOV program collect data about the ranches with helping them continually improve their regenerative practices and outcomes. The program collects information about soil health, biodiversity and ecosystem function, which is related to water cycle, mineral cycle, energy flow and community dynamics. Additionally, the funds will support network ranchers with resource development and getting more trainers trained, as well as covering typical administrative and marketing costs to help explain the message of what regenerative is and why it matters. The second prong of the partnership is the opportunity for Timberland to test and learn and build a new supply chain from the ground up. This fall, Timberland plans to introduce a collection of boots using regenerative leather sourced from Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed ranches. Angelini said this effort will serve as a proof of concept that can show what can be done.  “But definitely our long-term vision is to really get to the wide-scale adoption of these materials, both in our own supply chain, but also getting it to be industry-wide,” he said. Scaling up and reaching critical mass Chris Kerston, chief commercial officer for the land-to-market program at the Savory Institute, said that around the time the institute was reaching critical mass in its food work — where consumers are able to access options that were produced regeneratively at similar price points and with similar quality as conventional options — it decided to start working with apparel companies. For the apparel industry, critical mass would look like mass adoption of using natural materials and natural fibers. “So much of what we wear, if we think about it, is really just repurposed oil,” Kerston said. “And I think that the next generation, the millennials and [Gen Z] are saying, ‘Is that really what we want?’” “We think we have a big opportunity in front of us to … bring this to the mainstream and help drive towards that tipping point,” Angelini added, noting that this work has been in the pipeline for Timberland for over a decade. So much of what we wear, if we think about it, is really just repurposed oil. “It actually dates back all the way to 2005 [when] Timberland co-founded a group called the Leather Working Group (LWG), which basically was formed to address the impacts of the tanning stage of leather production,” Angelini said. Through the working group, Timberland was able to revolutionize the sustainability of the tanning of its leather by going down to that stage in the supply chain. LWG also helped to bring other players in the industry along. Now a not-for-profit membership organization that has developed audit protocols to certify leather manufacturers on their environmental compliance and performance capabilities, LWG counts other apparel brands such as Adidas, Eileen Fisher and VF, Timberland’s parent company, as members.  Now, Timberland hopes to move the industry forward even further. “We’re kind of excited about this next opportunity to basically help change the industry again, but this time, I’m going a step even further down the supply chain to the farms [where] the leather actually comes from,” Angelini said. Pull Quote This offers an opportunity to actually source in a way that can help restore the environments that we sourced from, and actually have a net positive effect of giving back more than we take. So much of what we wear, if we think about it, is really just repurposed oil. Topics Supply Chain Regenerative Agriculture Fashion Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Cattle on a Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed ranch, Courtesy of Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed Close Authorship

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Timberland invests in regenerative leather ranches

Why Nature’s Path went ‘regenerative organic’

May 21, 2020 by  
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Why Nature’s Path went ‘regenerative organic’ Heather Clancy Thu, 05/21/2020 – 00:46 The term “regenerative agriculture” has become two of the biggest buzzwords in nature-based climate solutions. But how many farms and food companies can say they follow both regenerative and organic practices? Canadian cereal and snack company Nature’s Path — the largest organic breakfast and snack company in North America — hopes to get more agricultural organizations focused on the nuances of those adjectives.  In March, its 5,000-acre Legend Organic Farm in Saskatchewan became the largest yet to be certified as part of the Regenerative Organic Certified program, organized by the Regenerative Organic Alliance . It’s one of just 30 farms operating with that label. The company created a limited edition oatmeal to draw attention to the certification, which it started selling on Earth Day. Because Legend follows organic farming principles, it already practiced many processes often mentioned as regenerative. The main change the farm made over the past two years to receive Regenerative Organic Certified recognition was stepping up its planting and investments in cover crops such as legumes to improve soil fertility and carbon capture, according to Nature Path founder and chairman Arran Stephens.     The idea, at least in part, is to set an example that other farms can follow. “My hope is our farm will become highly successful and will spawn others that want to get in on it,” Stephens told me in late April.  Nature’s Path made the decision to seek the Regenerative Organic Certified designation two years ago, both to enrich its soil for the future and to continue differentiating its brand.  My hope is our farm will become highly successful and will spawn others that want to get in on it. Legend is the only farm that the company owns outright; it is supplied by hundreds of independent farms, who should be able to command a premium from customers such as Nature’s Path for following these practices in the future, according to Dag Falck, the company’s organic program manager.  “It’s a great way to communicate that your organization is practicing on the highest level of organic,” he said. Some investments it took While it takes just one growing season to earn the Regenerative Organic Certified label — unlike the core organic certification, which takes three years to earn — a series of steps are required to participate, notably expanded soil testing capabilities. As part of the program, farms are required to measure levels of Soil Organic Carbon, Soil Organic Matter and Aggregate Stability. Nature’s Path is testing for all of those metrics, along with Active Carbon, Total Soil Carbon and the Microbial Respiration of CO2. While organic farming shuns the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, it doesn’t preclude the use of new technologies or tools. Indeed, Nature’s Path is using a number of new information technologies as part of the program that could offer ideas for others. Among the tools that are playing a role: Tractors that are autosteered using global positioning satellite (GPS) data Satellite maps to monitor growth through the growing season Farming implements such as tine weeders and rotary hoes that help with weeding in preemergent phases while keeping the life within the soil; this allows the farm to reduce its tillage frequency and intensity A new recordkeeping system that can track specific crops back to the field; this is part of the traceability requirements for the certification The company doesn’t currently use precision agriculture technologies, but it eventually could play a role in mapping its soil carbon results, according to the company. According to the World Economic Forum, the average soil carbon level of most farmland is just 1 percent — far below the 3 percent to 7 percent levels they nurtured before being cultivated. It estimates that raising those levels to the low end of that range could sequester 1 trillion tons of CO2. Nature’s Path hasn’t disclosed its current soil levels, but is using this first season to establish a baseline. “We can’t say at this point what we have achieved,” Falck said.  Currently, soil has to be sent to a lab for test — a “fairly costly” process, Falck said, that can take from five to 10 days. The hope is to make more accurate in-person testing available as quickly as possible. Nature’s Path, based in Richmond, British Columbia, was founded in 1985 and became the first organic cereal production in North America five years later. The company is on track to achieve climate neutral status by September.  Pull Quote My hope is our farm will become highly successful and will spawn others that want to get in on it. Topics Food & Agriculture Regenerative Agriculture Organics GreenBiz Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off One requirement of the Regenerative Organics Certified label is a series of tests to gauge soil carbon content. Courtesy of Nature’s Path Close Authorship

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Why Nature’s Path went ‘regenerative organic’

Ecological footprint accounting and its critics

August 5, 2019 by  
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While sustainability can’t and shouldn’t be defined by a single number, it is still necessary that human demand be within the regenerative capacity of the planet.

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Ecological footprint accounting and its critics

Patagonia donates its $10 million in tax cuts to save the planet

December 4, 2018 by  
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Last year, President Trump said that his tax bill would be an incredible Christmas gift for millions of hard-working Americans, but it also resulted in billions of dollars of tax savings for businesses — especially those in the oil and gas industry. But one outdoor retailer has opted to donate its tax savings to the planet instead of putting it back into the business. Patagonia announced last week that it would be giving away the $10 million the company made as a result of the Republican tax cut. “Based on last year’s irresponsible tax cut, Patagonia will owe less in taxes this year — $10 million less, in fact. Instead of putting the money back into our business, we’re responding by putting $10 million back into the planet,” CEO Rose Marcario wrote in a LinkedIn blog post . “Our home planet needs it more than we do.” Related: Patagonia strikes back at Trump over public lands policies Marcario also wrote that taxes protect the most vulnerable in our society as well as our public lands and other resources. In spite of this, President Trump still initiated a corporate tax cut that threatens those services at the expense of the planet. In addition to cutting taxes for individuals and businesses, the bill also lifted a 40-year ban on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Patagonia will donate the money from its tax cut to various conservation organizations. The money will also go toward the regenerative organic agriculture movement, which, according to the company, could help slow or reverse the climate crisis. Marcario cited the recent National Climate Assessment Report, compiled by 13 different federal agencies and 300 scientists. The report found that climate change is impacting people all over the globe and will cost the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars. She wrote that far too many people have suffered from the consequences of global warming, and the political response has been “woefully inadequate.” Patagonia has been a long-time champion of grassroots environmental efforts, and the company has also been vocal in its criticisms of the Trump administration. + Patagonia Via EcoWatch Images via Yukiko Matsuoka and Monica Volpin  

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Patagonia donates its $10 million in tax cuts to save the planet

Striking home in Greece uses bioclimatic features to be energy-efficient year-round

December 4, 2018 by  
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Tucked into a sloping hillside looking out over the Aegean Sea, the TRIF House designed by Sergey Fedotov boasts a gorgeous, contemporary design with massive floor-to-ceiling windows to take in the breathtaking sea views. In addition to its striking aesthetic, the private residence also includes a number of passive features that insulate the home and reduce energy use throughout the year. Located in Porto Heli, Greece, the massive home, which spans over 3,800 square feet, sits on a naturally sloped landscape spotted with olive trees. To appreciate the gorgeous sea views, the front facade is a series of frameless, floor-to-ceiling windows that can slide open and shut at just the push of a button. The glazed exterior not only creates a seamless connection between indoors and out but also allows for natural sunlight to illuminate the interior. Related: A modern, energy-efficient home is built around a beloved madrone tree Alternatively, the home’s north facade was embedded into the natural slope of the hillside. Burying part of the house into the landscape was another passive feature that helps provide the structure with a strong thermal envelope. The main floor houses a kitchen, dining and living room, all of which open up to an expansive veranda with a swimming pool. The top floor, which is enclosed in a large white rectangular volume that cantilevers just slightly over the ground floor, is home to the master bedroom and two guest rooms, all of which enjoy stunning panoramic views. The interior boasts a minimalist design with custom-made furniture. Surrounding the home, the landscape was left in a natural state. Large olive trees and shrubs dot the sloping hillside, which has various walking paths that wind through the home’s beautiful surroundings. + Sergey Fedotov Via Archdaily Photography by Pygmalion Karatzas via Sergey Fedotov

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Striking home in Greece uses bioclimatic features to be energy-efficient year-round

This Brilliant Rekindle Candlestick Turns Melted Wax Into a Fresh New Candle

February 24, 2014 by  
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Designer Benjamin Shine has created a brilliant regenerative candle holder that transforms melted wax into a fresh new candle! The Rekindle Candlestick lets users reuse a candle over and over again by collecting the wax in a tube as it burns. To reuse the candle wax, a fresh wick just needs to be introduced into the tube of newly melted wax. Although the quantity of wax reduces slightly with each cycle, a typical candle can be reused at least twelve times after the first burn. Read the rest of This Brilliant Rekindle Candlestick Turns Melted Wax Into a Fresh New Candle Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Benjamin Shine , candle wax , decorative design ideas , diy candles , off the grid products , Regenerative Candle Holder , regenerative candle holders , Rekindle Candle Holder , reusable candle wax        

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This Brilliant Rekindle Candlestick Turns Melted Wax Into a Fresh New Candle

Drastic New Reduction in Power Conversion Losses

February 26, 2011 by  
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What if your laptop no longer needed a converter brick? What if the DC power from your solar panels was converted to AC electricity with virtually no power loss from the conversion

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Drastic New Reduction in Power Conversion Losses

Green Overdrive: VW’s Electric Blue-E-Motion Golf!

January 6, 2011 by  
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Volkswagen’s got close to two years before it will launch its all-electric Blue-e-motion Golf car, but GigaOM TV’s Green Overdrive show got a chance to take the car to the streets recently in Los Angeles, California. VW electrified the Golf line because the vehicle is one of its most popular brands. Watch our test drive below, where we check out each of the car’s four regenerative braking modes.

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Green Overdrive: VW’s Electric Blue-E-Motion Golf!

Discreet Desert Eco Homes Planned for the Mojave Desert

January 6, 2011 by  
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Read the rest of Discreet Desert Eco Homes Planned for the Mojave Desert http://www.inhabitat.com/wp-admin/ohttp://www.inhabitat.com/wp-admin/options-general.php?page=better_feedptions-general.php?page=better_feed Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “sustainable architecture” , California , desert community , desert eco house , desert houses , eco design , eco home , eco house , green architecture , green design , la quinta , mojave desert , palm springs , par , platform for architecture + research , Sustainable Building , sustainable design

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Discreet Desert Eco Homes Planned for the Mojave Desert

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