COVID-19 pandemic leads to plastic ban reversals

March 23, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Health concerns are trumping environmental worries as U.S. states and cities reverse single-use plastic bans . As shoppers worry about catching germs from everything and everyone in grocery stores, and restaurants move from dine-in to take-out, bags and containers have become a big issue. Maine Governor Janet Mills announced on March 17 that the state will delay a single-use plastic bag ban that had been slated to start on April 22. “These emergency measures will support the state’s response to the coronavirus and mitigate its spread in Maine,” Mills told Plastic News . Brookline, Massachusetts has suspended its ban on polystyrene containers, and Nick Isgro, mayor of Waterville, Maine, wants to ban shoppers from bringing their own reusable bags. Related: Discarded face masks now threatening wildlife habitats “These reusable tote bags can sustain the COVID-19 and flu viruses — and spread the viruses throughout the store,” Isgro said on his Facebook page. “Be assured this is not to re-litigate our current ordinance. … This should be seen as a temporary public safety measure.” While some environmental organizations claim that properly washed reusable bags are as safe as disposable bags, experts warn that shoppers seldom follow hygienic protocol. A 2011 study by Loma Linda University and University of Arizona randomly collected bags from shoppers entering grocery stores in California and Arizona. They learned that consumers rarely, if ever, wash their bags. Almost all of the bags collected were covered in bacteria, including E. coli on 12% of bags. Those bags that had carried leaky packets of meat and were stored in car trunks for 2 hours had tenfold the bacterial growth. However, hand- or machine-washing can reduce bag bacteria by 99.9%. Since 2014, eight states — California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon and Vermont — have enacted some kind of single-use plastic bag ban. Polystyrene bans have also been on the rise. But COVID-19 could change all that. Via Plastics News , Forbes and Food Protection Trends Image via ToddTrumble

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COVID-19 pandemic leads to plastic ban reversals

The 10 best tiny homes in California

March 23, 2020 by  
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If you’re looking for some cool tiny home retreats to try out a more minimalist style of living or just looking for a serene vacation spot, well, California is definitely the place to be. We’ve scoured the beautiful coastal state for some of the best tiny homes in California. Take a look! Gorgeous tiny home thrives in the California sunshine Surf’s up in this gorgeous tiny home, which is designed to be both comfy and mobile. One of Canadian studio  Minimaliste’s most recent tiny home builds, the compact 331-square-foot structure was built to perform just as well in warm climates as it does in colder regions. The interior space, although compact, was strategically laid out to provide optimal space, including a cozy sleeping loft made possible by the home’s slanted roof. Related: 8 tiny homes built tough for off-grid living Converted school bus in Malibu Creek State Park This gorgeous glamping retreat is located near Malibu Creek State Park and promises incredible mountain views. The interior is spacious and sleeps up to four people comfortably. Although you’ll most likely enjoy this cozy interior, the outdoor space is what makes this skoolie so special. An open-air deck with ample seating and dining space is a wonderful area to take in the views over breakfast, lunch and dinner. The nearby hammock is a prime napping spot. Young couple build tiny home to avoid sky-high Bay Area housing prices It’s well-known that California’s Bay Area is one of the country’s — and the world’s — most expensive places to live. However, its also an idyllic area to put down roots, or wheels for that matter. When Nicolette and Michael decided to live in the Bay Area so that Michael could stay in college, they had an impossible time finding proper housing. Frustrated at price of housing, the ambitious couple decided to just build their own tiny home . The result is a stunning, 300-square-foot home on wheels that comes with a full kitchen, sleeping loft and even a reading nook. Off-grid eucalyptus tiny home radiates cool Californian vibes Another creation by Canada-based  Minimaliste Houses , the Eucalptus tiny home is a sight to behold. Built for a client who wanted to explore the California coast, the beautiful tiny home on wheels is optimized for off-grid fun. Besides its modern design, the 28-foot-long home is equipped with roof-top solar panels , tight thermal insulation and natural light, all of which contribute to the home’s self-sustenance. Try out tiny home living in San Francisco’s ‘Pavilion’ This tiny home retreat is a perfect place to enjoy the beautiful city of San Francisco. The Airbnb property is just 450 square feet, but its charming cottage-style design, made up of several recycled and repurposed materials , makes it feel so much bigger. The retreat sleeps up to two guests, who can make use of its many amenities such as a light-filled, glass-enclosed living space surrounded by a serene garden with a pond. Relax in this retreat with a hot tub in San Francisco If you’re looking for a tiny home experience in California that is guaranteed to bring a little tranquility to your life, check out this retreat in San Francisco. Located in a spacious backyard of the owner’s home, the minuscule studio sleeps two guests comfortably in its shed-like space. The interior is compact, with just one room fitting in the bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom. But, the biggest draw to this retreat is its outdoor space. The home is surrounded by an open-air hardwood deck with a two-person hot tub. Built around a 700-year-old redwood tree that offers as much of a romantic touch as it does shade, the rental also boasts an outdoor shower, where you can bathe under the stars. The ‘Nugget’ in Costa Mesa takes tiny home living back to basics Located just a 10-minute drive to the beach, this beautiful tiny home in Costa Mesa is the perfect place to recharge your batteries. Although it is just 140 square feet, the retreat sleeps up to two guests comfortably. With its large sliding glass door entryway, the home boasts a minimalist feel that makes it just as perfect for a business trip as it does for a relaxing stay at the beach. A private deck wraps around the home and is shaded by bamboo trees. Tiny home getaway near San Diego These days, many travelers are forgoing the excessive displays of luxury in fancy hotels for simpler getaways. Tiny home retreats, like this gorgeous cabin-inspired tiny home near San Diego, offer guests a chance to relax and reconnect with nature. Located near beautiful Mount Laguna, the tiny home sleeps up to four people between a double bed and two sofa beds. Although the living space is more than sufficient, it is the outdoor area that is so special. The glamping retreat is completely immersed in nature, and features a rooftop terrace for guests to take in a bit of stargazing before enjoying a toasty nightcap around the private fire pit. Vintage glamping travel trailer in San Fernando Valley If there’s one iconic image that encompasses California adventure, it’s the gleaming vintage travel trailer, like this 1954 trailer just outside of Los Angeles. The trailer itself sleeps up to four and has a lovely interior. The magic really begins with the outdoor space, which features a covered deck with a romantic canopied double bed, perfect for sleeping under the stars during the long summer months. Additionally, guests can enjoy the incredible views of the San Fernando Valley from the adjacent outdoor lounge space. Off-grid tiny home in southern California Sometimes, you just need to get away from the hustle and bustle. For those times, this off-grid tiny home in Southern California will do the trick. The compact studio is outfitted with a plush, queen-sized bed. The space is tiny, but as an extra bonus, the home features a custom, garage door-style window that can be fully opened to enjoy amazing views of the 20 acres of beautiful private land that surround the tiny home retreat. Images via Minimaliste, Airbnb and Glamping Hub

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The 10 best tiny homes in California

Animal welfare expert Temple Grandin: Creative problem-solving takes visual minds

January 28, 2020 by  
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Instrumental in designing more humane practices for McDonald’s, the Colorado State university professor chats about the promise of regenerative agriculture and the state of sustainability in slaughterhouses.

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Animal welfare expert Temple Grandin: Creative problem-solving takes visual minds

Will California say bye to diesel-burning trucks and hello to zero-emissions ones?

October 9, 2019 by  
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A new rule in the state could tackle one of its largest sources of pollution.

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Will California say bye to diesel-burning trucks and hello to zero-emissions ones?

4 simple and collaborative business models to unlock Nigeria’s $1 billion undergrid minigrid market

October 9, 2019 by  
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The opportunity to invest is massive, and new ownership models from subcontracting to cooperatives can help communities get in on the action.

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4 simple and collaborative business models to unlock Nigeria’s $1 billion undergrid minigrid market

Washington’s wolf population is down to 122 after a pack is shot by state hunters

August 21, 2019 by  
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Washington’s wolf population has dropped to 122 after a pack of four were killed by state hunters on August 16 near a ranch in rural Ferry County. The incident has environmentalists up in arms as they believe the deaths of these wolves benefit this particular ranch. Sam Montgomery, a spokesperson for the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, said that the hunters were inside a helicopter when they shot and killed the wolf pack. Related: Trump administration wants to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list “It’s unbelievably tragic that this wolf family has already been annihilated by the state,” Sophia Ressler of the Center for Biological Diversity, which tried to stop the incident, told the AP. “It seems like Washington’s wildlife agency is bent on wiping out the state’s wolves.” The ranch where the wolves were recently killed is no stranger to this particular pack of wolves — originally a group of 7 — as its livestock have been attacked, killed and hurt at least 29 times since 2018 as well as another nine times in the past four weeks, the state agency reported. Before the wolves were killed on Friday, the owner of the ranch tried using horse riders to scare the wolves before the choice was made to shoot them, the agency said. Wolves in Washington nearly disappeared entirely in the 1930s, primarily because of the growing cattle industry. They began returning about 15 years ago. Many of the gray wolves today are said to live in rural and mountainous regions of northeastern Washington. They have also been seen roaming the Cascade Range. In the past, Washington has approved the killing of wolf packs if they have attacked cattle, but activists believe annihilating the animals won’t protect livestock. In the end, conservationists suggest other control methods, such as better management systems, to deter the wolves from preying on cattle. Via The Guardian and Associated Press Image via Krystal Hamlin

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Washington’s wolf population is down to 122 after a pack is shot by state hunters

Delaware becomes first ‘no-kill’ state for animal shelters

August 13, 2019 by  
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Nicknamed “The First State,” Delaware has racked up even more kudos: it has recently been named the first and only no-kill animal shelter state in the country. According to the Best Friends Animal Society website , a nonprofit animal welfare group, a no-kill community “is one that acts on the belief that every healthy, adoptable dog and healthy cat should be saved, and that its focus should be on saving as many lives as possible through pet adoption, spay/neuter, trap-neuter-return and other community support programs rather than achieving a specific numerical outcome.” Related: 7 ways to be a sustainable and eco-friendly pet owner In order to be considered no-kill, a state must report at least a 90 percent save rate for all cats and dogs entering shelters , the website explains. The nonprofit organization’s website also says the group is committed to aiding homeless pets from coast to coast. “That means leading local no-kill initiatives, working to end breed discrimination, eliminating puppy mills and keeping community cats (stray and feral felines) safe and out of shelters through TNR (trap-neuter-return) programs,” the site reads. Adding to the excitement, Brandywine Valley SPCA said it was also recognized by Best Friends for its leadership and dedication with the no-kill shelter plan. “The Brandywine Valley SPCA has a live release rate of 95 percent for the more than 14,000 animals a year we intake,” Linda Torelli, marketing director of Brandywine Valley SPCA, told CNN . “Within Delaware, we intake more than 60 percent of the animals entering shelters and more than four times the next largest shelter, so our policies have had a significant impact on the state becoming no-kill.” In 2018, about 733,000 dogs and cats were killed in animal shelters across the country, because the animals didn’t find homes. But Best Friends believes this can change in the U.S. by 2025 if everyone commits. Some of Delaware’s programs that earned the state its place as the first no-kill state include adoption events, trap/neuter/spay programs for cats that might not be adoptable, low-cost veterinary clinics, education programs and behavioral training for dogs that need additional attention. If you’re interested in working on a no-kill resolution for your community or state, you can obtain important information and guidelines from the Best Friends website . + Best Friends Animal Society Via CNN Image via Thomas Park

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Delaware becomes first ‘no-kill’ state for animal shelters

IPCC on land use: What do the latest warnings mean for businesses?

August 12, 2019 by  
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The headlines have been filled today with stark warnings from scientists about the state of the world’s land masses — how will this impact the business community?

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IPCC on land use: What do the latest warnings mean for businesses?

Ecolab’s Doug Baker on the future of circular water

July 3, 2019 by  
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The host of Marketplace Tech, Molly Wood, and Ecolab Chairman and CEO Doug Baker have a conversation about the state of the world’s water and how industry can serve both the environment and the bottom line by getting smart about water.

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Ecolab’s Doug Baker on the future of circular water

Maryland could become the first state to ban plastic foam containers

April 9, 2019 by  
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Last week, the Maryland General Assembly voted 100 to 37 to approve a ban on plastic foam containers. If the bill is approved by Governor Larry Hogan, Maryland will become the first U.S. state to ban such containers because of their harmful impact on human health and the environment. The bill will now go to Republican Governor Larry Hogan for approval. Although Governor Hogan has not yet expressed a position, the bill has enough votes from the House and Senate that it would be able to override a potential veto, should the Governor decide to issue one. Related: TemperPack raises $40M to combat plastic foam waste “After three years of hard work, I’m thrilled to see Maryland be a leader in the fight to end our reliance on single-use plastics that are polluting our state, country and world by passing a bill to prohibit foam food containers,” Brooke Lierman, Democratic representative from Baltimore and sponsor of the bill,  said in a statement . “The health of the Chesapeake Bay, our waterways, our neighborhoods and our children’s futures depends on our willingness to do the hard work of cleaning the mess that we inherited and created.” Plastic foam  is widely used for food containers, because it helps maintain temperature and prevents spills; however, the material is highly toxic to humans and the environment. The problem with plastic foam Styrofoam is actually a trademarked brand name for the plastic material Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam. In her book  My Plastic-Free Life , Maryland based author and anti-plastic expert Beth Terry explained the four major problems with Expanded Polystyrene foam: 1. Polystyrene materials do not biodegrade. This means that every food container used once and thrown away will stay on the Earth forever. The containers do break apart into smaller pieces, but never compost . 2. Plastic foam is made with fossil fuels and toxic chemicals. Plastics are made from fossil fuel products and are detrimental to the Earth in their manufacturing, use and disposal. ESP includes the chemical polystyrene, which was labeled as a “ probable carcinogen ” by the World Health Organization. Not only does the manufacturing of polystyrene products pollute the air and cause serious health problems for factory workers, but the chemical also leaches into drinks and hot or oily food. This is especially problematic, considering plastic foam containers are frequently used, particularly for hot foods. Polystyrene is linked to cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma. As The Story of Stuff explained , “Yes it keeps your coffee hot, but it might be adding toxic chemicals to it, too.” By the Center for Disease Control’s current estimates,  100 percent of humans have traces of polystyrene in their fat tissues — an example of how pervasive this pollution and toxic problem is. 3. Animals try to eat it. Because plastic foam never biodegrades and floats on the surface of water, small pieces are often mistaken as food by marine animals , like sea turtles. In Baltimore Harbor, a trash-collecting machine has scooped up more than 1 million bits of plastic foam since it launched in 2014. The machine, locally nicknamed “Mr. Trash Wheel,” records approximately 14,000 plastic foam containers collected every month from the Harbor. Related: Baltimore’s floating trash-eaters have intercepted 1 million pounds of debris 4. Plastic foam cannot be recycled. Unlike some other types of plastic, polystyrene products cannot be recycled in most facilities; therefore, they often end up in landfills if not carried out to the ocean. The few facilities that do accept plastic foam only allow clean, uncontaminated products, which rarely exist because the containers are typically used for messy food items. The first state-wide ban Several counties in Maryland and throughout the U.S. have already banned plastic foam , but this will be the first state-wide ban. To see what cities and counties have banned the hazardous material, check Groundswell’s map . Opponents of the bill argue that it will unfairly hurt small farmers, food businesses and nonprofits, because biodegradable food containers are more expensive to source. Eco-friendly alternatives include containers made from cardboard, bamboo , mushrooms and other organic materials. These novel inventions are significantly pricier than plastic foam. Maryland’s ban will notably not include plastic foam items packaged outside of the state, such as microwavable instant noodle bowls. It will also not include the foam trays sold with raw meat products, nor will it cover non-food related items. This is Representative Brooke Lierman’s third attempt to get the bill passed. If successful, the bill will go into effect in July 2020 and be punishable by a fine of $250. Via Phys.org Images via  Matthew Bellemare ,

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Maryland could become the first state to ban plastic foam containers

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