Engaging Middle America in recycling solutions

August 26, 2020 by  
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Engaging Middle America in recycling solutions Suzanne Shelton Wed, 08/26/2020 – 01:00 A few weeks ago, I wrote a GreenBiz piece about what Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can teach us about the moment we’re in right now, based on our latest polling of Americans. At Circularity 2020, I’m talking about how to engage people in recycling, and the two ideas are linked together. The gist is that we can’t self-actualize as the people we want to be if we’re not getting our basic needs met. Pre-COVID, 41 percent of us wanted to be seen as someone who buys green products, and 25 percent of us could cough up an example, unaided, of a brand we’d purchased or not purchased because of the environmental record of the manufacturer. As of late May, smack in the middle of the pandemic, these numbers dropped dramatically, down to 2013 levels at 33 percent and 19 percent respectively. In the rock-paper-scissors game of survival, we just can’t take action on higher-level things when we’re worried about meeting our basic needs. And we’re really worried about getting our basic needs met. Worries about the health of the economy and human health far outweigh concerns about the environment right now. This was not the case pre-pandemic. We were just as worried about plastics in the ocean and climate change in early March as we were last summer, but that concern plummeted in May.  Think about it like this: We decided to take a cross-country road trip in a car with a transmission that’s on its last legs, so the whole time we’re driving we’re worried about the transmission failing. Then all of a sudden — boom — we get a flat tire.  Now we’re not worried about the transmission anymore. Coronavirus is the flat tire and once we can get it repaired and drive on it long enough to be sure it won’t go flat again, we’ll start worrying about the bigger transmission issue — the environment — again. For now, though, we feel disempowered and unable to do much about the environment.  For instance, last summer the one environmental issue 27 percent of us felt we actually could do something about was plastic waste. We’ve backslid in a major way one year later: Only 18 percent of us believe we can do anything about it now — and that’s the No. 1 answer! Not surprisingly, then, we’re less activated on trying to avoid single-use plastics. Last year, one-third of Americans said they actively tried to buy products packaged in something other than plastic and urged friends and family to do the same; as of May, only a quarter of us said we are doing that. Remember that so much of the outrage about plastics in the ocean is the fact that plastics are in our food stream, so it’s a human health issue. We now have a more pressing, immediate human health issue to deal with — as well as a pressing social equity crisis and economic crisis — so we’ve become less activated on single-use plastics. In fact, you might say that the Great Awakening of our massive systemic issues — spurred by COVID-19 and the murder of George Floyd — has allowed us to go to sleep, for the moment, on the environment. One last thing for context: With all the noise about the economy, coronavirus, politics and so forth, we’re all hearing less about every single environmental issue we track. For instance, last year 63 percent of Americans said they had heard about bans on single use plastic. Now that number is down to 54 percent.  In the rock-paper-scissors game of survival, we just can’t take action on higher-level things when we’re worried about meeting our basic needs. So, there’s something to be said for continuing to communicate about environmental issues, and there’s something to be said for demonstrating the behaviors you want people to adopt — both have a correlated impact on consumer action. And, again, it will be hard to motivate action on our environmental transmission while we’ve got an economic and health-related flat tire. So what does this mean for engaging Americans in recycling?   If we don’t feel like we actually can affect the plastic waste issue and some of us have gone to sleep in terms of our habits and actions, what does this mean for recycling?  Are we less inclined to throw our recyclables in the bin because we feel so disempowered and/or worried about the economy and anxious about keeping our families from catching COVID? And are we aware of the issues in the recycling market — that China won’t take our recyclables anymore and that the American recycling system is in turmoil? If they’re aware, does that affect their willingness to do their part? Well, it’s a good news/bad news scenario. In the good news column, the vast majority of Americans (80 percent) believe recycling is the bare minimum they can do for the environment, and it makes them feel better about all the stuff they buy. By the way, 77 percent of Americans say they recycle via a curbside pickup service. So they’re “in” on the current system of throwing stuff in the blue bin and rolling it to the curb. Some other good news: only 30 percent have really heard about some cities discontinuing curbside recycling programs. And only 10 percent say their curbside recycling services have been discontinued. So about a third of us are aware something’s going on with our recycling system, but the vast majority of us are happy to keep going along with our curbside guilt-assuaging approach to waste management. And it is a guilt-assuaging system. While roughly half of us have made some changes to reduce the amount of single-use plastics we buy, plastic is the No. 1 material we all think is easiest to process into a substance that can be used to make a new product or packaging.  And while 40 percent of us correctly answer that plastics coded with the number 1 (PET) are the easiest for recycling centers to process, 38 percent of us have no idea which number is easiest to recycle and the remainder of us answer incorrectly. So, we’re opinionated about plastics, but blissfully ignorant about them, and we let ourselves off the hook for doing anything different in our purchasing because of the current curbside system. So what happens when the municipal curbside system fails, as it’s starting to do? In this case, knowledge or awareness is not correlated to behaviors: 39 percent of us have heard about other countries no longer accepting our recycling and, of those folks, 97 percent say it hasn’t changed their recycling habits. Overall, 77 percent of us believe that what we put in the bin actually gets recycled. (It’s worth noting that’s down from 88 percent the year before.) In other words, we’re still chucking stuff in the bin with few worries about whether that stuff’s actually being recycled. We can laugh an ironic laugh at their ignorance or we can look at this as extremely good news. We worked hard to get consumers to adopt recycling behaviors and to adopt the idea that it’s the bare minimum they can do to do their part. And it’s sticking: In fact, they’re clinging to it.  We’re opinionated about plastics, but blissfully ignorant about them, and we let ourselves off the hook for doing anything different in our purchasing because of the current curbside system. The last thing we want is for them to throw in the towel, which is what they’re doing in places where curbside has been discontinued. Of the 10 percent who say their curbside programs have been discontinued, 56 percent say they no longer recycle.  So, if we want to engage Americans in recycling, here’s what we need to do:   1. We need to continue communicating about — and demonstrating action on — plastic waste Remember, we’re all hearing less about environmental issues and noticing fewer bans on plastic waste and fewer actions taken by retailers and restaurants on plastic waste, and that has a direct correlation to our own awareness and action. We need to keep the steady drumbeat of communications and action going if we want to bring people along. 2. We need to continue our curbside programs and make them really work. When these go away, we will see a massive backslide in recycling behaviors. This means we need to ensure that our system works, and that what gets thrown in the bin actually gets recycled. Given that will require massive infrastructure changes (and probably policy changes as well), as a stop-gap we need to: Teach them to “look before they toss”:  Only 22 percent actually look at the label on an item to see if it’s recyclable before chucking it in the recycling bin. Most haven’t noticed the new How to Recycle label or find it too hard to read. We need a massive campaign on this. Teach them what’s actually recyclable:  Back to the earlier point, many consumers feel bad about using single-use plastics, so their tactic for assuaging their guilt is to throw everything into their bins. That means they’re throwing a lot of things in that aren’t actually recyclable, which is rooted in a pretty big lack of understanding of what’s actually recyclable.  For example, when shown pictures of various types of used packaging and asked what should be done with them — put them in the recycling bin, the trash bin, or some combination — Americans don’t pick the right answer as often as you’d hope.  My favorite is the plastic creamer bottle with the plastic sleeve/wrap around it. 69 percent say they’d put the entire package in the trash can, 22 percent say they’d put the entire package in the recycling container and 9 percent say they’d put parts of it in the trash can and parts of it in the recycling container. So 91 percent of Americans get this wrong, despite these bottles having a How To Recycle Label displayed, telling them what to do. The point is that Americans have a mixed level of understanding about what’s recyclable and what’s not. And despite the progress made by getting the How To Recycle label onto so many products, it’s just not enough.  We either have to teach them to look before they toss and help them see what’s actually recyclable or, better, encourage them to put it all in the Blue Bin and upgrade our recycling system and technologies so that it all actually gets recycled. Want to learn more about all of this? Join me at 1:20 p.m. EDT Aug. 27 during Circularity 20 and/or download a free copy of the full report . Pull Quote In the rock-paper-scissors game of survival, we just can’t take action on higher-level things when we’re worried about meeting our basic needs. We’re opinionated about plastics, but blissfully ignorant about them, and we let ourselves off the hook for doing anything different in our purchasing because of the current curbside system. Topics Circular Economy Marketing & Communication Circularity 20 Collective Insight Speaking Sustainably Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Who has the most sustainable fleets? Time to name names

August 26, 2020 by  
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Who has the most sustainable fleets? Time to name names Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 08/26/2020 – 00:30 Sustainable fleets are at an inflection point , and we here at GreenBiz are looking to celebrate them. That’s why I’m particularly excited to share that GreenBiz plans to publish the top 25 list of sustainable fleets the week before our annual VERGE 20 conference (which will run virtually the last week in October).  The list will highlight the most innovative and aggressive companies, cities, governments and organizations buying and advocating for zero- and low-carbon vehicles, as well as using other technologies that can significantly reduce transportation emissions.  Many types of vehicle fleets move people and goods, or do important work in our cities, and we’ll consider them all as contenders — from passenger vehicles to delivery vans to transit and school buses to garbage trucks to long haul trucks. We’ll also consider all technologies from battery electric to alternative fuels to efficiency tech. Who’s being aggressive? Who’s being innovative? Who is rapidly speeding toward a goal to decarbonize their fleet?  Let us know! Fill out this form with more information about your/their organization. We’re asking for submissions until Sept. 30. If you have any questions, drop me a line: katie@greenbiz.com . Topics Transportation & Mobility Fleet Green Fleet Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Are you up for the Plastic Free July challenge?

July 1, 2020 by  
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How hard would it be to say no to single-use plastics for an entire month? People who sign up for Plastic Free July are about to find out. The global movement is asking people around the world to be part of the plastic pollution solution. Plastic Free July started back in 2011. Last year, about 250 million people from 177 countries took part in the movement. A survey about Plastic Free July found that participants reduced their household waste about 5% per year and made changes that became long-term habits. Related: How to replace single-use and plastic items in the kitchen Brought to you by the Plastic Free Foundation Rebecca Prince-Ruiz founded the Plastic Free Foundation as a not-for-profit in 2017 along with a team of committed folks in Western Australia. Now, the organization promotes Plastic Free July. The foundation’s ambassador, musician Jack Johnson, is instrumental in spreading the word. “Plastic Free July inspires me to step up my commitment to reducing single-use plastic in my daily life and on tour,” he said on the organization’s website. “A great first step is to commit to using reusable water bottles . I’m also working with the music industry (artists, venues, festivals and fans) to reduce plastic waste through the BYOBottle campaign.” The foundation’s website is its most accessible resource for people around the world. It inspires visitors with stories about ordinary people trying to escape the siren song of convenient plastic. A section called “What others do” features — and invites readers to submit — their stories about alternatives to plastics they use in their everyday life. For example, a mother of two in New Zealand has found strategies for working toward a zero-waste household, and another woman managed to talk her hospital coworkers out of using 70,000 single-use cups each year. You can download posters from the website urging people to avoid single-use straws , takeout containers, plastic bags and other pitfalls of modern life. The posters are suitable for hanging at work, school or local businesses. Ways to avoid single-use plastic People who take the Plastic Free July pledge probably figure they can do without straws for a month or more and remember to bring their reusable cloth bags to the market. But some plastic products are harder to avoid. The web page called “What you can do” provides solutions to many of these problems. For many people, menstruation seems to bring an unfair burden: cramps, moodiness and the responsibility for plastic tampon applicators and used sanitary napkins piling up in landfills or blocking sewage pipes and even causing ingestion issues for marine animals. Instead, the Plastic Free Foundation recommends using menstrual cups, period underwear or reusable pads. Worldwide, people struggle with what to do about bin liners. While putting a plastic bag in your trash can is exceedingly convenient, plastic stays in the landfill forever, eventually breaking down into microplastics that can harm animals. Instead, you can line your bin with newspaper, or let your bin go “naked” and wash it frequently. Of course, composting all your food scraps will cut down on the bin’s ickiest contents. Audit your bin Before you can improve, you need to know how bad the problem is. The Plastic Free Foundation recommends auditing your bin. Doing a bin audit will help you understand what kind of waste you’re creating and how you can minimize it. You can do a bin audit at home or in your workplace. Try to get your family or coworkers onboard to help with the audit and to implement changes based on your findings. Choose an auspicious day for the bin audit. This should be long enough after trash day so that some stuff has accumulated in your bin but not long enough for it to stink. Find a sheltered outdoor place with good airflow. Spread a tarp on the ground and dump your bin. Separate your trash into categories, such as paper , food, cans, batteries, plastics, etc. Estimate the volume and percentage of each category and write it down in a notebook. Later, after cleaning up, you can assess your findings. Some things will be obvious, like if you’ve been too lazy to carry your apple cores and potato peels to the compost and have been chucking them in the bin instead. Or maybe you’ll notice lots of food packaging and realize you could be buying more of those items in bulk instead. Focus on one or two behaviors that will be the easiest to change. Do another bin audit about six months later, check your improvement and pick a new goal. Take the plastic-free challenge Ready for a meaningful sustainability challenge? You can sign up on the Plastic Free July website. The web form asks for your name, email address, country and post code. You’ll get weekly motivational emails in your inbox with tips for avoiding plastic and news on the global movement. The form also gives you choices about the level of your participation. You can commit to going plastic-free for a day, a week, the whole month of July or indefinitely. You can also select whether you’re taking part in the challenge in your workplace, at your school or at home. + Plastic Free July Images via Laura Mitulla , Volodymyr Hryshchenko , Jasmin Sessler ( 1 , 2 ) and Good Soul Shop

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Are you up for the Plastic Free July challenge?

Gardens grow on all floors of Saint-Gobains crystalline HQ

July 1, 2020 by  
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On the outskirts of Paris, French architecture firm Valode & Pistre has completed a new headquarters — a crystalline tower wrapped in low-emission glass — for Saint-Gobain, a multinational building materials company. Designed to emphasize urban integration, energy performance and user comfort, the skyscraper features wind-sheltered gardens accessible from every floor, an abundance of natural light and stunning panoramic views. The building, known as Tour Saint-Gobain, was completed in 2019 in the business district of La Défense. Selected as the winning entry in an international architecture competition, Valode & Pistre’s design for Tour Saint-Gobain references Saint-Gobain’s leading role in construction material distribution — particularly with glass — with its crystalline architecture. The new company headquarters is divided into three distinct parts that are likened to the head, body and feet of a person: the lower floor, or “feet”, contain the open access areas and showroom; the main “body” comprises flexible office spaces; and the highest floors at the “head” houses reception areas, meeting places and the “espace plein ciel”, a stunning gathering space with panoramic views. Related: Dramatic crystalline concert hall boasts a gorgeous prismatic interior in Poland “A tower, more than any other building, is about people and how it affects them,” the architecture firm explained in a press release. “Emotions are expected to be felt at the sight of such a building and the architect should strive to bring about these feelings and this excitement. The dynamic silhouette of the building, through the assembly of three oblique prisms that, in an anthropomorphic way, resemble a head, a body and a foot, allows it to interact with the surrounding towers. The tower thus becomes a figure turning its head and slightly stooping as a sign of warm welcome.” At 165 meters tall, Tour Saint-Gobain spans 44 floors and encompasses 49,900 square meters of floor space. High-performance glass ensures optimal user comfort for occupants, who not only enjoy panoramic views but also direct access to indoor gardens from all of the office spaces. + Valode & Pistre Photography by Sergio Grazia via Valode & Pistre

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How to safely dispose contaminated gloves, masks, wipes and more

April 16, 2020 by  
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Our new normal, the novel coronavirus pandemic, has caused society to take up more rigorous hygiene regimens. Unfortunately, personal protective equipment like masks and gloves quickly become contaminated, and they shouldn’t be tossed carelessly — especially not littered in parking lots, where they are destined to end up harming the environment. Because the pathogen causing COVID-19 can survive for hours or even days on different surfaces, observing appropriate disposal protocol is crucial. So, here are some recommendations, which are both safer for public health and better for our planet, on what to do with used gloves, masks, disinfectants, wipes, paper towels and more. Gloves Those who venture out shopping for essentials during this pandemic are often sporting disposable gloves. But wearing the same gloves from place to place or using your phone while wearing gloves just spreads germs. It’s important to regularly change gloves if you are wearing them. Wondering about proper methods to remove contaminated gloves from your hands? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers an illustrative tutorial page. After safely removing your gloves, you can dispose of them in a trash can. Do not be the person that throws them on the ground! Of course, the Waste Advantage Magazine recommends bagging used gloves before throwing them away for safe disposal. Some gloves can normally be recycled, but during the pandemic, it is best to throw gloves away to keep everyone safe. To reduce waste, you can also simply wash your hands with hot, soapy water after running an errand. If you visit multiple stores, wash your hands after each one. Masks Another prevalent countermeasure against COVID-19’s spread is wearing masks, for which the World Health Organization (WHO) offers downloadable tutorials. WHO recommends to “discard [the single-use mask] immediately in a closed bin.” Related: Discarded face masks now threatening wildlife habitats Traditionally, masks are supposed to be discarded frequently. But with the current shortages, many people are making their own with cotton and/or wearing the same mask for long periods of time. If you have paper masks, they should be carefully removed and thrown out after each use. They cannot safely be reused or recycled. N95 masks should be reserved for medical staff only. If you do have N95 masks, check with your state’s public health department, your city’s health department or local hospitals for donating procedures. Have a cloth mask? The CDC offers advice on how to make, wear and wash cloth masks. After each wear, wash cloth masks in a washing machine before reuse. Hot water and regular laundry detergent should do the trick at cleaning these masks, and you can also add color-safe bleach as an extra precaution. Disinfectants, cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer Household cleaning products and hand sanitizers are being used much more than usual. So what should you do with all of the packaging? Packaging can be appropriately discarded in either recycle bins or trash cans, depending on the labels. Related: How to properly and safely dispose of these 10 items in your home As for sponges and scouring pads, those should be thrown in the trash. For containers of specialty cleaners, like oven cleaner, check with your local waste management company for advice on how to safely dispose of these items. According to Earth911 , it is important to read the labels of cleaning items for specific disposal instructions. “For example, many antibacterial cleaning products contain triclosan, which could contribute to the antibiotic resistance of bacteria, so it should not be poured down your drain.” Wipes Despite marketing’s ploy to pass off the ever-popular wipe as ‘flushable,’ it isn’t. Many municipal plumbing systems were not designed to handle flushed wipes. While many people stocked up on wipes after the toilet paper supply ran dry, disinfectant wipes have also flown off the shelves. But Green Matters warns against flushing both ‘flushable’ and disinfectant wipes. “The only thing (besides bodily fluids) that you should be flushing down the toilet is all that toilet paper you stocked up on.” RecycleNow also explains, “Baby wipes, cosmetic wipes, bathroom cleaning wipes and moist toilet tissues are not recyclable and are not flushable, either, even though some labels say they are. They should always be placed in your rubbish bin.” Paper towels and other paper products Many paper products are labeled as ‘made from recycled materials .’ Accordingly, many consumers believe paper towels and napkins can be chucked into recycling bins. However, Business Insider cautions otherwise. Why? Soiled paper towels and napkins ruin whole batches of recyclables. Besides, if you purchased recycled paper towels, their “fibers are too short to be used again,” meaning they can’t be recycled, even if they are clean. If you used paper towels with chemical cleaners or if they are greasy, they should go into the trash. If you are sick, the trash can is again the best place for used paper products. Otherwise, paper products that are not chlorine-bleached can be composted . Images via Inhabitat, Unsplash and Pixabay

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Futuristic, off-grid home features a luxurious interior design

April 16, 2020 by  
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Sleek, modern, flexible and off-grid — this new, futuristic housing concept from Stockholm-based IO House has just about everything you would wish for in a small home. The Space is an eco-friendly, self-sustaining home that provides homeowners with “the most advanced conveniences of modern life with the smallest ecological footprint.” According to the IO House team, The Space was designed to be the ultimate abode when it comes to futuristic living. The innovative design is completely self-sustaining , meaning that it does not require outside sewage, electrical or water systems. Related: Amazing low-cost, off-grid Lifehaus homes are made from recycled materials All of the residence’s necessary systems, such as electricity ( solar power ), heating and ventilation, have been directly installed into the structure and are controllable via mobile phones or tablets. Everything, from the state-of-the-art appliances to the oxygen level control systems, is controlled with an app. Because of this, the off-grid home can be transported and installed in just about any location. At just 645 square feet, The Space is a compact home that is covered in rooftop solar panels. The prefab home is built off-site and delivered to the homeowners’ desired location. Once it is delivered, the off-grid home is installed on the landscape using the utmost care to cause as little impact as possible. The exterior is clad in a dark facade that lets it blend in with any location, from waterfront to woodland. From the open-air deck, sliding glass doors lead into the interior. Here, the ultra-contemporary design really sets the house apart. Sleek and functional, the setting is inspired by the living spaces found inside luxury yachts. Large, floor-to-ceiling glass doors and panels bring in an abundance of natural light and astounding views to boot. The home comes completely furnished with high-end products, but it can be customized to individual tastes. You can learn more about The Space’s futuristic design and technology over on the IO House Facebook and Instagram pages. + IO House Images via IO HOUSE

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7 ways for cities to slash plastic pollution

June 18, 2019 by  
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Let’s send community cleanup days to the trash heap.

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15 fresh ideas for leftover fruit that will reduce your food waste

March 26, 2019 by  
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With 40 percent of America’s food going to the trash each year, food waste has become a major factor in climate change , because most of it ends up in landfills and then releases methane , a major greenhouse gas . If you are looking for some creative ways to use the random leftover fruit sitting in your kitchen, try some of these recipes. We all have the best intentions when we make trips to the grocery store, and the plan is never for the food to end up in the trash. But many of us still find ourselves trying to figure out what to do with food that is on the verge of spoiling, because life got in the way and you didn’t have a chance to eat it. This is especially true when it comes to fruit. You can make everything from healthy drinks to delicious pies with your leftover fruit, so there is no reason for it to end up in the trash ever again. Fruit-infused water One of the best and easiest ways to use leftover fruit is to infuse water with it. You can use any kind of fruit you have sitting in the kitchen to create all kinds of flavor combinations. Pure fruit ice pops You can use your spoiling or overripe fruit to make ice pops or fruit cubes with this recipe from Food Meanderings . The great thing about this idea is that you can use any type of fruit, then add some frozen berries and puree it all together before freezing. Related: 8 of the best fruits and vegetables you can eat in their entirety Candied orange peels Make your very own orange candy with this recipe for candied orange peels from Complete Recipes . All you need is sugar, water and a few oranges, and they take just an hour to make. Raspberry and pear smoothie Don’t throw those ripe pears away! Instead, use them to make a smoothie with this recipe from Neil’s Healthy Meals . Mix some yogurt, frozen raspberries, cranberry juice and chopped pears together in a blender for this quick and healthy breakfast or snack. Mango orange banana sunrise smoothie Do you have a mango, clementine and banana taking up space in your kitchen? Then try this smoothie recipe from Gimme Delicious . Just add some yogurt and honey to your fruit , and blend it for a couple of minutes to get a delicious breakfast. Creamy strawberry salad dressing All you need are five ingredients to make this delicious, creamy strawberry salad dressing from Montana Happy . Salad and strawberries are a match made in heaven, and a blender, some strawberries, raspberry vinegar, brown sugar, olive oil and lemon juice will help you make it happen. Berry fruit salad If you have a bunch of leftover berries, then try this recipe from Gimme Some Oven and make a delicious fruit salad. This berry fruit salad is quick and easy to make, and the honey, mint and lemon juice give it a nice, refreshing taste. Related: The Seasonal Food Guide helps you store, cook and enjoy seasonal produce Apple pie for one Turn a lonely apple into a scrumptious dessert with this recipe from One Dish Kitchen . You don’t need to bake an entire pie to use up your leftover fruit, just try an apple pie for one. Boozy peach-blackberry pie Are you trying to figure out what do with your leftover peaches and blackberries? Obviously, pie is the answer with this recipe from My Modern Cookery . Pressure cooker blueberry jam Try making some homemade jam with leftover blueberries by using this recipe from Simply Happy Foodie . Not only does it taste better than store-bought jam, but it’s also cheaper. Plum jam Need to use up some plums before they go bad? Try making some plum jam with this recipe from A Baker’s House . You won’t usually find plum jam in stores, so making your own at home will be a sweet treat that you can add to vanilla ice cream or as a compliment to pork. Of course, it is also fantastic on a piece of bread. Mixed-berry dessert sauce Give your pound cake, cheesecake or ice cream a little kick with this mixed-berry dessert sauce recipe from The Spruce Eats . This is a great way to use up leftover raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. Banana bread One of the best ways to use up ripe bananas is to make banana bread. This recipe from Tastes Better From Scratch takes just a handful of ingredients and about an hour to bake. Related: 12 delicious and crowd-pleasing vegan brunch ideas Apple cinnamon bread All you need is one apple for this recipe from The Happier Homemaker . Just peel and finely chop the apple before adding some cinnamon, sugar and a few other pantry staples. In about an hour, you will have delicious apple cinnamon bread. Leftover fruit bread This is a great recipe for ripe bananas and peaches, plus a few blueberries. It comes from The Food Network , and you can opt to bake an entire loaf or make muffins. Either way, it will be delicious. Next time you are thinking about throwing out some leftover fruit, try one of these simple recipes instead and know that you are helping the environment by reducing your food waste . Images via Shanna Trim , Silviarita ( 1 , 2 ), Jodi Michelle , Ponce Photography , Imoflow , Nile , Sabine van Erp , Marke1996 , Alan Levine , Marco Verch and Shutterstock

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Baby turtles officially return to the beaches of Mumbai after largest beach clean up in history

March 19, 2019 by  
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Olive Ridley baby turtles have officially returned to the beaches of Mumbai, and it is all because one of the world’s largest beach clean-up efforts. Last summer, conservationists watched as over 80 baby turtles made their way across Mumbai’s Versova Beach, which was previously home to a massive garbage heap. “I had tears in my eyes when I saw them walking towards the ocean ,” Afroz Shah, an activist in Mumbai, shared. Related: Plastic pollution is causing reproductive problems for ocean wildlife It has been a few decades since the baby turtles have had access to the beach, which is an important part of their migratory journey to the Arabian Sea. Watching the turtles waddle towards the sea was confirmation that the clean-up efforts were well worth it and inspired volunteers to keep up the good work. It took a little over two years for volunteers to clean up the beach and remove the massive piles of trash . The mounds of plastic and other human waste was over five feet high, making it impossible for the baby turtles to make their journey to the sea. Following the clean-up effort, you can now play in the sand just like any beach in the world. The pristine condition of the beach is all thanks to the efforts of  hundreds volunteers who gathered over 11 million pounds of garbage over the course of two years. The volunteers, whom Shah helped organize, also cleaned up nearby river systems and initiated programs to prevent local residents from using the beach as a landfill . Shah also cleaned up over 52 public restrooms in the area and installed 50 coconut trees alongside the beach. Shah and his team plan to plant a grove of mangrove trees in the future, which he hopes will help with flooding and increase the quality of the water. Between the beach clean-up and the baby turtles returning to Mumbai , the United Nations gave Shah their Champion of the Earth Award and named the project the “world’s largest beach clean-up effort.” Via Global Citizen Image via skeeze

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The sustainable wardrobe: its more accessible than you think

January 29, 2019 by  
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When it comes to making sure our homes are eco-friendly, it is easy to neglect the closet. Your clothes, however, might just be the biggest culprit. All those synthetic fabrics will take over 200 years to fully decompose, and the microfibers often end up in the ocean and in the bellies of sea creatures. The fashion industry produces 20 percent of all wastewater, and the amount of pollutants it emits is the second largest in the world (the first is oil). This is all while generating 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined total from all international flights and maritime shipping. So what can you do to build a more sustainable wardrobe? First and foremost, educate yourself. Before you do anything, learn why you’re doing it. Start out by doing some research to figure out what your biggest priority is. Vegan and cruelty-free? Non-toxic materials? Organic materials? Do you care more about what the clothes are made out of, or who made the clothes? Arming yourself with information makes it easier to make better decisions for yourself and the environment. Support ethical businesses The rise of fast fashion has brought about high demand for cheap, trendy clothing items. The cost of manufacturing these inexpensive clothes has led many factories to turn toward cheap labor and sweatshops in developing countries — often with dangerous work conditions on unlivable wages. When you do purchase clothes, read the label and see where it was made. If you’re not sure about the country, opt for the U.S. and the U.K. where the labor laws are more strict and regulated. Invest in higher quality, eco-friendly fabrics Growing materials for certain fabrics take a heavier toll on the planet, so buying clothes made from natural materials like organic cotton, linen or hemp can help offset the environmental impacts. Not only do certain fabric materials take huge amounts of water to grow, but the chemicals used to rid these crops of pests also seep down into the soil and natural water supply. The upside is that not all crops are grown this way. Organic cotton is grown without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Hemp is versatile, strong and requires much fewer pesticides or fertilizers to grow. Linen, made from flax, demands less water and energy sources, and it is naturally biodegradable. Related: Faux fur or real fur, which one is better for the planet? Don’t throw clothes away This seems simple enough, but it’s surprising just how many pieces of clothing end up in the trash every year. In 2015, there were 10.5 million tons of textiles in landfills, and many of those were synthetic fibers that don’t decompose. When a favorite piece of clothing gets torn, mend it up rather than tossing it in the trash — you’ll save more money, too! Not a master sewer? Take it to a tailor. If you really want to get rid of something, take it to a donation center or thrift store. Or, try a clothing swap with a friend — you’ll both get new pieces for your wardrobes without anything ending up in the trash can. Related: Eco-friendly options for decluttering waste Shop vintage and thrift When it comes to fashion, choose timeless over trendy. Buy clothes that will work year-round rather than just for a season. Think multi-purposefully. Most importantly, don’t think that being on a budget means limiting yourself to cheap clothes or fast fashion trends. Shop mindfully Stop to ask yourself: do I need this, or do I just want it? There’s a big difference there. If you really need something new for a wedding or special event, buy with purpose. Don’t just go into a store to shop for nothing in particular, or you’ll most definitely end up with something you don’t need. Also, if you buy items that are more versatile, it will actually help you in the long run. You’ll have more outfit choices and less clutter to worry about in your closet. Take good care of the clothes you have Using a lower temperature in your washing is not only less damaging to fabrics, but it’s a win for the environment, too. Heating accounts for 90 percent of the energy used from doing a load of laundry. If you can swing it, skip the dryer altogether and hang-dry your clothes (of course, this works better in a dry, warm climate). You can also try washing your clothes in larger batches, because this will waste less water and electricity. Consider switching to an eco-friendly brand of detergent as well. Keep an eye out for ones that are biodegradable , phosphate-free and made from plant-derived ingredients. The better shape your clothes are in, the longer they will last. Related: How to decode confusing labels on common household cleaners DIY Here’s the good news: there are more ways to express your personal style than buying clothes. Learn to make your own accessories or bags; it might turn into a fun new hobby or a skill you never knew you had! Rather than throwing old clothes away, repurpose them into something new. Old T-shirts make great dusting rags, and soft materials like cotton can be made into pillowcases or quilts. Check out these great ideas for recycling old clothes from DIY for Life. Images via Charles Etoroma , MNZ , Prudence Earl , Raw Pixel , Peggy and Marco Lachmann-Anke , Egle and Shutterstock

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The sustainable wardrobe: its more accessible than you think

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