This artist created a stunning art installation made from 168,000 plastic straws to encourage people to use less

February 25, 2019 by  
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The world produces 260 million tons of plastic every year, and 10 percent of it ends up in our oceans either degrading at a painfully slow rate or not degrading at all. Artist Benjamin Von Wong wants to send a message: The smallest action can make the biggest impact. Even something as simple as saying “no thanks” to a plastic straw. The numbers are constantly rising and soon the earth won’t be able to take it anymore. Among these troublesome pollutants is the humble plastic straw. Durable, too small to recycle and usually only used once, straws make up a huge portion of unnecessary plastic waste. Related: Volvo creates the living seawall in Sydney to help with plastic pollution Thankfully this epidemic is beginning to gain attention. With the help of volunteers, Starbucks Vietnam and Zero Waste Saigon, Von Wong spent six months gathering used plastic straws to turn into “The Parting of the Plastic Sea .” The art installation, also known as “strawpocalypse,” took over two weeks to create. To represent different parts of the wave, the straws were divided by color and connected together and formed into the flowing base, the white froth and the yellow sand. Volunteers spent hours arranging the straws to mimic paint brush strokes. Plastic bags were used to support the straws onto the structure and to act as a diffuser for the LED lighting . “The plastic problem is either out of sight, out of mind– or so omnipresent that it becomes invisible,” says Von Wong. “I wanted to use art to tackle both angles – by creating something beautiful and unique out of an environmental tragedy.” “Strawpocalypse” was truly a team effort. Along with the volunteers, Von Wong had the help of Nick Moser, a technical builder in SF, Stefan Suknjaja, an escape room designer in Serbia and Fosha Zyang, a local set designer . When it came to arranging the straws everything came together organically . Since it was difficult to predict exactly how the structure would look once finished, it was exciting for everyone when the piece finally began to come together. The piece currently resides inside the atrium at Estella Place in Ho Chi Minh City, giving viewers a chance to see “strawpocalypse” from a 360-degree angle. They also built a plastic background with a “sun” effect with LED light panels and galvanized wire to prevent distraction. The art installation is fitting, “something so large that if anybody walked by, they couldn’t help but ignore,” according to the artist. So next time you think to yourself “it’s only one straw,” just remember that eight billion other people are saying the same thing. “Strawpocalypse” will be looking for a new home starting in late March 2019, those interested can visit thestrawpocalypse.com + Von Wong Images via Von Wong

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This artist created a stunning art installation made from 168,000 plastic straws to encourage people to use less

New study predicts mass extinction in 140 years

February 25, 2019 by  
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A new study suggests that the old saying about history repeating itself is absolutely true. In this case, history repeating itself pertains to none other than the topic on everyone’s minds— extinction. Researchers believe it’s taken 56 million years for earth to face another mass extinction that can occur in as little as 140 years.  The research, released last Wednesday and published in Geophysical Research Letters , compares conditions in the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) period with our planet’s present warming condition. Back in PETM days, carbon dioxide shot up, increasing Earth’s temperatures by 9 to 14 degrees. The tropical Atlantic heated up to approximately 97 degrees. Land and marine animals died. It took 150,000 years for the planet to recover. Related: Global warming will melt over 1/3 of the Himalayan ice cap by 2100 Unfortunately for us, carbon dioxide emissions are rising ten times faster now than they did during the PETM. Back then, wildfires, volcanic activity and methane wafting from the seafloor and permafrost were the culprits. Today, it’s down to us. Last year, emissions in countries with advanced economies rose slightly after a five-year decline. At this rate, the study predicts Earth’s atmosphere will be comparable to the beginning of PETM in 140 years, reaching a peak in 259 years. The result? Mass extinction. Philip Gingerich, the study’s author, did a literature review of previous studies on PETM and the rate of carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere. Based on eight studies published between 2009 and 2018, he used models to project future emissions caused by humans. Gingerich is an emeritus professor in the University of Michigan’s earth sciences department. He directed the university’s Museum of Paleontology for nearly 30 years. “[It’s] as if we are deliberately and efficiently manufacturing carbon for emission to the atmosphere at a rate that will soon have consequences comparable to major events long ago in earth history,” Gingerich told Earther. As he states in his study, “A second PETM-scale global greenhouse warming event is on the horizon if we cannot lower anthropogenic carbon emission rates.” Via Earther Image via nikolabelopitv

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Biofase has discovered a unique way to recycle avocado pits

February 15, 2019 by  
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A Mexico-based company has discovered a unique way to recycle avocado pits. Biofase, a startup founded in Michoacan, Mexico, is using discarded waste from the fruit to create biodegradable cutlery and straws in a bigger fight against single-use plastics and food waste. A biochemical engineer named Scott Munguia created Biofase in 2013. The company uses a technique that transforms avocado waste into bioplastics, which are then used to form materials. All of the products the company creates from the pits are fully biodegradable and decompose within 240 days. Related: How to grow an avocado tree from an avocado pit “Our family of biodegradable resins can be processed by all conventional methods of plastic molding,” Biofase explained in a tweet. According to EcoWatch , the organization processes around 15 metric tons of avocado waste every day. Not only is the operation proving profitable, but it is also good for the environment. Apart from the biodegradable utensils and straws, Biofase is preventing a significant amount of agricultural waste from ending up in Mexico’s landfills and surrounding bodies of water. Biofase claims to be the sole biopolymer supplier in its home country of Mexico . The company ships its biodegradable products to more than 11 countries in Latin America. Several chain restaurants also order cutlery and straws from Biofase, including Chili’s Grill & Bar, Fiesta Americana and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro. Although Biofase is leading Mexico in the production of biopolymers, new laws will likely create a need for more development in the industry. In fact, several municipalities in the region have passed laws against single-use plastics , emphasizing a growing need for eco-friendly alternatives. For example, Querétaro banned plastic bags in 2017, and Tijuana followed suit the following year. Ditching single-use plastics is a growing trend in Mexico. To date, there are more than 15 laws at city and state levels that are meant to discourage the use of disposable plastics. Biopolymers come with their own disadvantages, but these are a viable solution to the growing problem of plastic waste around the globe. If a company like Biofase can come up with an ingenious way to create biodegradable straws and biodegradable utensils, we can only hope that other forms of biodegradable plastics will follow. + Biofase Via EcoWatch Image via Julie Henriksen

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True Green Introducing Compostable Straws and Hot Cups

July 13, 2018 by  
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Terry Lehmann, founder and CEO of True Green Enterprises, talks … The post True Green Introducing Compostable Straws and Hot Cups appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Starbucks ditches plastic straws for the environment

July 10, 2018 by  
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Coffee drinkers around the world can soon sip their daily latte in peace, knowing it is getting better for the environment. Starbucks has announced it will eliminate single-use plastic straws from more than 28,000 company-owned and -licensed stores by 2020. The company will replace them with compostable straws (for blended drinks) and recyclable, strawless lids. Plastic pollution from single-use products is a major concern. The United Nations’ Environment Program estimates as many as eight million tons of disposable plastic products end up in the oceans each year, where it ultimately harms aquatic ecosystems. Related: This British café is serving to-go coffee in ceramic mugs to combat waste To reduce its overall reliance on plastics, the coffee giant is introducing strawless lids for the majority of its beverages — including cold coffee drinks. For its blended offerings, the company will move to paper or compostable plastic straws. The new lids were approved for global distribution after testing in 8,000 North American stores, as well as select Asian countries. Starbucks’ home stores in Seattle and Vancouver will be the first to fully transition to the lids starting in the second half of 2018, followed by transitioning in Europe. Its goal is to completely remove the single-use plastic items over the next two years. “For our partners and customers, this is a significant milestone to achieve our global aspiration of sustainable coffee ,” Kevin Johnson, Starbucks president and CEO, said in a statement,“served to our customers in more sustainable ways.” The change to drinkable lids and straws made out of paper or biodegradable plastic is part of a larger goal set for the company. Starbucks is also expanding a paper cup surcharge to 950 stores in the United Kingdom by the end of July 2018 to discourage their use, while offering discounts to those who bring in reusable cups . In addition, the company wants to include 20 percent post-consumer recycled fiber in its cups by 2022 and have achieved 99 percent ethical sourcing of its coffee. However, government reports suggest the coffee industry has a long way to go before going completely green. The British parliament discovered the coffee industry adds 2.5 billion disposable cups to the nation’s landfills annually. + Starbucks

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Bjarke Ingels is crowdfunding a massive reflective sphere for Burning Man 2018

July 10, 2018 by  
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A massive, mirrored sphere is gearing up to be one of the most eye-catching pieces at this year’s Burning Man festival. Designed by architects Bjarke Ingels and Jakob Lange of the world-renowned architecture firm BIG , The Orb is a giant reflective sphere that would serve as an art piece and way-finding device. To make the inflatable art installation a reality, the architects have launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo seeking $50,000 over the next two months. Elevated into the air with a 105-foot-long inclined steel mast, The Orb would be inflated to a scale of 1/500,000 of the Earth’s surface with a diameter of nearly 84 feet. The Orb could be visible from all over Black Rock City, the temporary crescent-shaped settlement erected for the event in Nevada . The team of artists and architects behind the “temporal planet” have thus far self-funded the majority of the project’s costs, including 30 tons of steel and welding labor for the mast and foundation as well as the 1,500 hours of sewing required to piece together the sphere’s reflective fabric. This fabric measures approximately 21,500 square feet. The $50,000 crowdfunding goal is the last bit of funding required to bring The Orb to Burning Man 2018. “Because of The Orb’s curvature, it will mirror everything around it and offer a whole new perspective,” explained  Bjarke Ingels in its crowdfunding video. “The ORB finds itself at the axis of Art & Utility, capturing the entire Black Rock City in an airborne temporal monument that mirrors the Burning Man experience to the Burners as single beings in the midst of an intentional community. Visible from most of The Playa, it will help Burners navigate the desert and find way.” Related: Spiraling timber temple revealed for Burning Man 2018 At night, spotlights will illuminate the reflective sphere and create a giant “shadow of light” on the ground that can serve as a gathering spot or dance floor for the festival-goers. The Orb’s illumination at night can also help attendees navigate and find their way across the vast desert . Designed to leave no trace on the Playa, The Orb can be easily inflated and deflated. + The Orb Via Dezeen

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Bjarke Ingels is crowdfunding a massive reflective sphere for Burning Man 2018

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