Unilever ambitiously pledges to cut use of new plastics in half by 2025

October 8, 2019 by  
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To better align with green initiatives worldwide, the British-Dutch conglomerate Unilever recently pledged to invest in a more circular economy for plastics via a two-part plan. First, by the year 2025, Unilever will halve the bulk of its non-recycled plastic packaging waste. Secondly, the company will accelerate its recycling endeavors by focusing more on collecting and processing waste plastic rather than selling single-use virgin plastics. Unilever shared on its website that it pledges to “make the blue planet blue again” and especially commits to “making sustainable living commonplace.” To do so, the company will follow a three-pronged approach: 1) investing and partnering to better the waste management infrastructure, 2) purchasing and utilizing recycled plastics, rather than virgin plastics, in its packaging and 3) participating in extended responsibility programs that directly pay for the collection of all Unilever packaging. Related: Unilever’s energy-efficient office is one of the greenest in Europe Currently, Unilever uses about 700,000 tons of plastic packaging annually. To curb its association with the growing plastic pollution crisis, the company will cut its plastic use by 100,000 tons. Unilever vows to replace single-use plastic packaging with recycled materials in a shift toward reusable, refillable and even compostable alternatives. Unilever will also annually collect and recycle more than 600,000 tons of plastic. “Our plastic is our responsibility, and so we are committed to collecting back more than we sell, as part of our drive toward a circular economy,” said Alan Jope, Unilever CEO. “This is a daunting but exciting task, which will help drive global demand for recycled plastic.” Unilever is a portfolio powerhouse, owning many popular brands in both the food and cosmetics industries. It is the parent company that manufactures and distributes Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Breyers ice cream, Klondike bars, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Knorr spices and Lipton ice tea.  Among its many cosmetics lines, Unilever owns Brut aftershave, Dove soap, Noxzema, Pond’s, Q-tips, Suave shampoo and conditioner and Vaseline. Despite its behemoth range of products that rely on plastic packaging, Unilever has been operating under the “Less, Better, No” plastic framework, planning to eliminate unnecessary packaging by innovating with the refill, reuse and recycled plastic sector as it moves away from virgin plastics. “Over the last five years, Unilever has collaborated with many partners to collect plastic packaging, including the United Nations Development Programme, to help segregate, collect and recycle packaging across India,” reads a company press release. “In addition, it has helped to establish almost 3,000 waste banks in Indonesia, offering more than 400,000 people the opportunity to recycle their waste. In Brazil, Unilever has a long-running partnership with retailer Grupo Pão de Açúcar to help collect waste through drop-off stations.” + Unilever Image via Shutterstock

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Unilever ambitiously pledges to cut use of new plastics in half by 2025

NYC bans processed meats served in public schools

October 8, 2019 by  
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In an effort to improve the Big Apple’s public health, all processed meats will no longer be offered at New York City public school and public university cafeterias. That means no pepperoni, bacon, cold-cut deli meats, sausages or hot dogs for lunch. The new ban follows on the heels of the city’s successful test-run across all city schools of Meatless Mondays. Policymakers and education officials say the decision to adopt Resolution 238 is thanks to scientific evidence linking disease and other ailments with red and processed meats . The move paves the way to healthier food choices, minimizing any associated health risks. Related: Meatless Mondays are coming to public schools in New York City Over the years, the World Health Organization has warned that processed meats are carcinogenic, increase the likelihood of obesity and pre-diabetes among children and teens and elevate risk factors associated with heart disease, cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer rates among young adults. But these conditions, researchers say, are preventable through dietary and lifestyle changes. Similarly, the National Cancer Institute announced that young people of today exhibit double to quadruple the risks of colorectal cancers, when compared to those of the 1950s. Why? Sadly, today’s youth have diets low in fiber and high in processed meats, exacerbated by lifestyles lacking in physical activity . Even more worrisome, studies have shown just one hot dog or two bacon strips per day increases colorectal cancer risks by 18 percent. “We cannot continue feeding our children substances scientifically proven to increase cancer later in life,” said Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams. “Chicken nuggets and sloppy joes are in the same class of substances as cigarettes. We know that we would never give our children cigarettes to smoke, so there’s absolutely no reason why we should continue poisoning our children’s health with processed foods .” The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics affirms that those following plant-based diets show lower rates of health complications than their omnivorous counterparts. In other words, curbing unhealthy meat consumption and removing processed meats from school menus is a positive change for students’ health. By offering more nutritious meals on public school campuses, from preschool through university, all NYC students can be better nourished, likely boosting academic performance and overall well-being. In September 2018, the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) became the first school district in the country to remove processed meats from all school lunch lines. This recent ban in such a large metropolitan area shows that the move toward providing plant-based alternatives for more nutritious school meals is gaining momentum. + Resolution 238 Via TreeHugger Image via Shutterstock

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NYC bans processed meats served in public schools

How developing countries put forests on the climate agenda

October 2, 2019 by  
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Nearly a quarter of all the greenhouse gases emitted by man come from the way we manage our forests, farms and fields.

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How developing countries put forests on the climate agenda

World leaders’ commitments fall short at UN Climate Action Summit

September 25, 2019 by  
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“We are running out of time,” said Oxfam International executive director Winnie Byanyima.

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World leaders’ commitments fall short at UN Climate Action Summit

Philadelphia International Airport grapples with climate change and sea-level rise

September 25, 2019 by  
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The airport is next to the Delaware River, which will rise as the Atlantic does.

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Philadelphia International Airport grapples with climate change and sea-level rise

Supermarket happy hour reduces food waste

September 10, 2019 by  
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A Finnish supermarket chain is fighting food waste by offering steep discounts during a “happy hour.” Every night at 9, food with a midnight expiration date is discounted 60 percent off already reduced prices. Shoppers are flocking to S-market’s 900 stores to avail themselves of bargains on meat and other food that has reached its sell-by date. S-market’s initiative is part of a much larger movement to decrease food waste. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations , nearly one-third of food made for humans winds up lost or wasted. This unused food weighs in at 1.3 billion tons annually, with a value of almost $680 billion. Related: New York is curbing food waste and helping people in need with a new initiative Not only is this a terrible waste, given that 10 percent of the world’s population is undernourished, but all that food rotting in landfills worsens climate change. As food decomposes, it releases methane . This gas is about 25 times as dangerous to the environment as carbon dioxide. Wasted food also requires a ridiculous amount of unnecessary transportation. Food is transported from where it is grown to stores all over the world. Then, after its expiration date, unsold food gets a final ride to the landfill . That’s a huge waste of water and fossil fuels. But S-market wants to help reduce food waste while also minimizing its own losses from thrown-out, expired foods. The chain will sell hundreds of items that are already reduced in price by 30 percent for an additional 60 percent off after 9 p.m. until closing time at 10 p.m., and many customers are enjoying the happy hour. “I’ve gotten quite hooked on this,” shopper Kasimir Karkkainen told the New York Times . Karkkainen scored pork mini-ribs and two pounds of pork tenderloin for US$4.63. While this is happening in Finland, U.S. grocers could benefit from adopting a similar initiative as Americans can be especially wasteful. “Food waste might be a uniquely American challenge because many people in this country equate quantity with a bargain,” said Meredith Niles, an assistant professor in food systems and policy at the University of Vermont. “Look at the number of restaurants  that advertise their supersized portions.” Via New York Times Image via Nina Friends / S-Market

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Ethiopia plants 350 million trees in one day

July 31, 2019 by  
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Ethiopia broke the world’s tree-planting record by planting more than 350 million trees in just one day. The effort is part of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Green Legacy Initiative, which aims to address climate change and deforestation. The goal of the program is to plant more than four billion indigenous trees throughout the country. It has already reportedly planted three billion, and last week’s efforts made significant progress toward meeting the target. Related: Scientists confirm tree planting is our best solution to climate change Some government offices were shut down for the day to allow staff to participate in the planting efforts. Representatives from the United Nations, African Union and foreign embassies also came out to support the event. “We’re halfway to our goal,” the prime minister announced midway through the planting day, and he encouraged Ethiopians to continue the work in the remaining time. He later announced on Twitter they had not only met the “collective #GreenLegacy goal” but exceeded it. The prime minister is hopeful that he can reach his final target if every citizen plants 40 seedlings. The government is running educational videos about planting and maintaining trees to encourage citizens to join in. The biggest concern for young seedlings is grazing by goats and other livestock that would destroy the trees before they have a chance to grow. Ethiopia’s forest cover is alarmingly low and plummeted over the last few decades. At the start of the 20th century, the country had approximately 35 percent forest cover, but that number dropped to just 4 percent in 2000. Over 80 percent of Ethiopians rely on agriculture or forest products for their income. “I think we demonstrated the capacity for people to come together collectively and deliver on a shared vision,” said Billene Seyoum, Ahmed’s press secretary. The previous record for tree planting was held by India, where 66 million trees were planted in one day in 2017. Via CNN and Climate Change News Image via Pixabay

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Ethiopia plants 350 million trees in one day

Solar-powered Jao Camp offers eco-minded luxury in Botswanas Okavango Delta

July 31, 2019 by  
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After nearly nine months of renovations, African luxury and sustainable safari operator Wilderness Safaris has reopened Jao Camp in the heart of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Powered entirely by solar energy, the eco-tourism destination features five spacious tented suites, a new spa and circular treatment rooms, a new Center of Knowledge museum and gallery and two new exclusive villas with a private vehicle, guide, chef and butler. All parts of the camp embrace the outdoors and landscape, from the use of local handcrafted materials to the framed views of the riverine forests and vast floodplains. Surrounded by prolific wildlife, the Jao Camp features a main area elevated into the tree canopy. “Underpinning it all is our commitment to the pristine environment around Jao, minimizing our footprint and allowing our guests to experience the Delta in its fullest sense,” the Wilderness Safaris’ website reads. “Innovative insulation ensures comfort, while gauze and glass panels let natural light and the outside in. The suites and villas are cooled with a silent evaporative cooler at a fraction of energy used by conventional air conditioning.” Related: Solar-powered safari lodge is a gorgeous green retreat in Botswana Jao Camp is also 100 percent solar -powered and draws energy from a new power plant that works on one of the world’s biggest Victron inverter systems and the largest lithium-ion battery bank in southern Africa. During the colder months, the suites are warmed by innovative, self-igniting Calore fireplaces fueled with pellets made from sawdust, a byproduct of working natural wood, without any additives or caking agents. All of Jao Camp’s contemporary luxury suites come with private plunge pools, lounge and dining areas, en suite bathrooms and outdoor and indoor showers. The nature-inspired color palette and use of handcrafted natural materials, such as rosewood-clad ceilings and floors, help tie the interiors to the outdoors and keep the focus on the Okavango Delta . Moreover, the newly added Center of Knowledge museum and gallery shares information about the area, its history and its denizens. + Jao Camp Images via Wilderness Safaris

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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

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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