It will take more than EV promises from car companies to limit climate change damage

December 24, 2019 by  
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This next decade is crucial for the transition away from gasoline, and electric vehicle makers and climate-minded politicians are not going far enough.

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It will take more than EV promises from car companies to limit climate change damage

It’s not too late to address blind spots in the environmental movement

December 7, 2019 by  
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People of color, who are often the most impacted by the climate crisis, must be part of the environmental movement and the transition to a clean economy.

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It’s not too late to address blind spots in the environmental movement

Holiday Inn hotels will phase out mini shampoo bottles

August 1, 2019 by  
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The owner of Holiday Inn, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), has pledged to do away with the convenient but wasteful mini shampoo and soap bottles that are a staple in its 843,000 guest rooms. IHG owns more than 5,600 hotels around the world and announced that it will phase out the small plastic bottles and opt for bulk-sized containers for all its hotels by the end of 2021. According to the corporation, it uses over 200 million mini plastic bottles every year. Keith Barr, CEO of IHG, said, “Switching to larger-size amenities across more than 5,600 hotels around the world is a big step in the right direction and will allow us to significantly reduce our waste footprint and environmental impact as we make the change.” Related: Companies pledge $1.5 billion to reduce plastic waste IHG is the first global hotel corporation of its size to make this promise. According to Barr, the announcement is also related to the national and local governments’ inability to pass stricter sustainability regulations. “We collectively as an industry have to lead where governments are not necessarily giving the leadership to make a difference.” In addition to its interest in sustainability, the corporation’s board is also looking to attract more customers who are increasingly concerned about the environment. According to a survey sponsored by Hilton, a third of customers researched the company’s sustainability policies before booking a room. As a result, Hilton announced a pledge to cut its carbon footprint in half and double its investments in social good. In addition to eliminating the small plastic bottles, IHG is working to phase out plastic straws by the end of 2019. A similar pledge was also made by the company’s competitor, Marriott International. At least a third of IHG’s properties have already started using the bulk-sized toiletry dispensers, and the rest are working on the transition. The full phase-out will be completed by 2021. + IHG Via NPR Image via Melanie

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Holiday Inn hotels will phase out mini shampoo bottles

California partners with UN on climate insurance

July 31, 2019 by  
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California is the first state to work directly with the United Nations on a natural infrastructure insurance program that could help protect communities from wildfires and other disasters. The California Department of Insurance is working on a year long initiative with the United Nation’s Environment Program to develop insurance practices that manage and reduce risks, specifically related to wetlands and forests. Related: Every year, humanity ‘overshoots’ the natural resources earth can replenish “We have a historic opportunity to utilize insurance markets to protect Californians from the threat of climate change, including rising sea levels, extreme heat and wildfires,” says Insurance Commissioner for California Ricardo Lara. “Working with the United Nations, we can keep California at the forefront of reducing risks while promoting sustainable investments.” In 2018, California experienced the state’s deadliest wildfire, which cost $12 billion in insurable losses and killed 85 people. According to experts, the increased severity of wildfires is likely due to climate change . Insurance services can offer compensation for risk reduction strategies, such as effective forest management or protecting utility infrastructure from possible disasters. “A sustainable insurance road map will enable California to harness risk reduction measures, insurance solutions and investments by the insurance industry in order to build safer, disaster-resilient communities, and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy,” said the U.N. lead, Butch Bacani. Other countries have initiated similar natural infrastructure insurance programs, including protections for coral reefs and mangroves, which reduce coastal flooding and erosion. Via LA Times Iamge via Flickr

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California partners with UN on climate insurance

The ultimate guide to eco-friendly period products

July 31, 2019 by  
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If you’re a person who is serious about protecting the environment, you’re probably conscious of how much trash you generate every time you have a period. In addition to being chock-full of plastics sent straight to landfills, pads and tampons also contain harsh chemicals that are toxic . Yet most people continue exposing their bodies to these products month after month. Luckily, there are better options out there for both you and the planet — here’s a guide to help you find what might work best for you. “Anything coming in constant contact with your skin will land in your bloodstream for distribution throughout your body,” Dr. Joseph Mercola wrote in an alarming Huffington Post article about the dangers of menstrual products. Despite the potential dangers, the chemical ingredients in tampons and pads are an industry secret, protected by nondisclosure policies that favor corporations, manufacturers and innovators but put consumers at serious risk. So if you want to cut down on polluting nature and your body, consider this comprehensive guide on more sustainable product options available right now. As always, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider to help determine the best options for you. Menstrual cups Menstrual cups are one of the most eco-friendly options out there. If you can get over the initial learning curve, they are easy and convenient to use. Why we love them Although the up-front sticker price is higher, when you calculate how much you spend every month on tampons or pads, the savings are obvious. The cups are comfortable and barely noticeable once they have been inserted — the same way you might get used to a tampon and hardly realize it is there. They are especially easy for travelers who want to save precious space in their luggage and say goodbye to last-minute, emergency trips to the convenience store. Most cup brands come in multiple sizes and some even come in varying levels of firmness, depending on your preference, flow, age and whether or not you have had a vaginal birth. The cups are capable of handling even heavy flow days, with most users reporting minimal — if any — leaks. Below is a brief review of a few popular brands. Diva Cup ($35) The Diva Cup is the most recognized and popular brand. It has three sizes (including one for teens), lasts up to 12 hours and is made from medical-grade silicone. Sustain Natural Period Cup ($39) These cups are flexible, compact and made entirely of medical-grade silicone . They claim to hold three tampons-worth of liquid and are available in two sizes. This is also the only brand that currently offers a microwave case for cleaning the cup. Peachlife Menstrual Cup ($22) Also made of medical-grade silicone, this cup uniquely comes in a variety of firmness levels (soft, medium-firm and extra-firm). Unlike other brands that come to a point, the Peachlife cup has a silicone ring at the bottom for easy removal (but remember, you still have to break the suction of the cup; you cannot just tug on the ring!). Cups are not without challenges Menstrual cups cannot be recycled at the end of their lifecycles, but when you calculate how many pads and tampons you averted from landfills, this product is worth it. The cups can also be difficult to maneuver at first. Once you have practiced and get the hang of folding the cup, inserting it and then breaking the seal to remove, it’s just as easy as any other option. It typically takes about three periods to fully adapt to using a menstrual cup. Because of cultural and religious beliefs, some people do have objections or hesitations to using a cup. Related: Study shows menstrual cups are safe and just as effective as tampons, pads A new spin on ‘period underwear’ Absorbent underwear brands like THINX and Lunapads are increasing in popularity and market share. They are simply underwear that you wear during your period that are specially manufactured to absorb menstrual blood. Why they’re so easy If you know how to put on your undies, then you know how to use these — they have all other products beat in terms of ease of use. They are also eco-friendly, because you wash and reuse them each time you have your period. That means they do not produce landfill trash every month. The downside of absorbent underwear Period underwear is more expensive than your typical pair of underwear because of their patented absorption technology . You will also need a few pairs depending on the length and flow of your period and how often you’re able to wash and dry them. Like the cups though, when you tally the cost of underwear against lifetime tampon expenses, they’re a smart economic choice. The horrors of tampons and better options “The average American woman uses 16,800 tampons in her lifetime — or up to 24,360 if she’s on estrogen replacement therapy,” said Dr. Mercola. That’s a lot of trash , but it is also a lot of time that your body is exposed to toxic chemicals. Cotton is better; organic cotton is best You may have heard health experts say that cotton underwear is best for promoting vaginal health — the same goes for tampons. Look for brands that specifically say they are made from organic cotton, but assume that most conventional brands are now made from plastics and synthetic materials. These materials are not breathable, can get fragmented and left behind and might encourage health problems like yeast and bacterial growth. Most tampons are also bleached with substances linked to abnormal tissue growth, abnormal cell growth and immune system suppression. Americans use 7 billion tampon applicators every year; the chemicals in the applicator, phthalates, have been generally linked to organ damage, lower I.Q. and asthma. What to try instead Using tampons without applicators will significantly cut down the plastic waste you generate. Brands like o.b. offer tampons that can be inserted with just your finger. Seventh Generation offers a chlorine-free, organic cotton tampon that reduces your exposure to chemicals. Organyc also offers a 100 percent organic cotton tampon. What about pads? Many people prefer pads for comfort or cultural reasons; however, the average sanitary pad contains “the equivalent of about four plastic bags, and this doesn’t include the other chemicals like BPA , BPS, phthalates and toxic dioxin created by the bleaching process.” Even though they have plastic in them, pads are never recyclable because they have been contaminated with bodily fluid. Because pads have a bigger volume than tampons, they produce even more waste. The average person throws away between 250 and 300 pounds of pads or tampons in their lifetime. What to use if you prefer pads There are reusable sanitary pads online that significantly reduce the amount of trash produced. Simply place the pad in your underwear; when it is dirty, rinse it with cold water and then add it to the laundry. You can buy reusable pads from Gladrags or find cute designs via Etsy. You can also try your hand at sewing your own . Disposable tampons and pads dominate the menstrual care market, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With small personal changes, you can protect your health, wallet and the planet. Images via Shutterstock

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On the scene at Circularity 19

June 26, 2019 by  
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From CEOs to designers to waste managers, the transition to a circular economy is already under way.

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On the scene at Circularity 19

Zero-carbon electric transport is already in reach for small islands

June 11, 2019 by  
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Island states like Barbados, with a high tourist population and need for resilience, can test the transition to electrifying everything.

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Zero-carbon electric transport is already in reach for small islands

Are we actually making progress on the SDGs?

May 16, 2019 by  
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Sustainability professionals respond: How is the transition to the Global Goals actually going?

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Are we actually making progress on the SDGs?

The opening to act on climate change is narrowing — but there’s room for optimism

October 25, 2018 by  
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Our progress up to this point is encouraging, but the next decade will be critical to the transition to a low-carbon economy.

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The opening to act on climate change is narrowing — but there’s room for optimism

Will ride-hailing players Uber and Lyft be more like Netflix or Blockbuster?

July 24, 2018 by  
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There will be winners and losers in the transition to autonomous vehicles.

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Will ride-hailing players Uber and Lyft be more like Netflix or Blockbuster?

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