The Ocean Cleanup has first success collecting plastic from Great Pacific Garbage Patch

October 4, 2019 by  
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The Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch nonprofit dedicated to eliminating plastic pollution in the oceans, recently announced its first success. After years of trials that left its engineers scratching their heads over design challenges, the nonprofit’s newest prototype device has consistently collected plastic waste from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch . Following years of repeat returns to the drawing board, The Ocean Cleanup has finally experienced its first success of consistently capturing and collecting plastic, thanks to the self-contained System 001/B prototype. As an added bonus, not only was the prototype able to collect large, visible items but also microplastics as small as one millimeter. Related: Trash-collecting device returns to Great Pacific Garbage Patch “After beginning this journey seven years ago, this first year of testing in the unforgivable environment of the high seas strongly indicates that our vision is attainable and that the beginning of our mission to rid the ocean of plastic garbage , which has accumulated for decades, is within our sights,” said founder and CEO Boyan Slat. “Our team has remained steadfast in its determination to solve immense technical challenges to arrive at this point. Though we still have much more work to do, I am eternally grateful for the team’s commitment and dedication to the mission and look forward to continuing to the next phase of development.” The patch, located in the waters between Hawaii and California, is infamous as the area with the largest accumulation of plastic debris. As a trash vortex, its circular motion draws litter into itself, trapping all the junk into a concentrated mass. The hazards are compounded by the leaching out of noxious chemicals linked to health problems. Marine life is also harmed, with numerous reports of disruptions in feeding and migrating patterns, ultimately threatening species’ survival and reproductive success. The need to remove the plastic waste polluting the Pacific Ocean inspired Slat to establish The Ocean Cleanup in 2012. The nonprofit’s engineers have since been striving to develop a device to rid the ocean of the garbage. The various device prototypes employ a passive system that moves with the currents while catching plastic refuse. The nonprofit aspires to develop more prototypes in hopes of deploying a future fleet of ocean debris-collecting systems. The collected plastic will, in turn, be recycled onshore and sold to business-to-consumer (B2C) companies. The recycling revenue will be reinvested into the nonprofit’s expansion plans for further ocean waste management and sanitation. + The Ocean Cleanup Images via The Ocean Cleanup

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The Ocean Cleanup has first success collecting plastic from Great Pacific Garbage Patch

NRPA and Coca-Cola partner to install trash traps to clean Atlanta waterways

September 24, 2019 by  
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The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), which is the leading nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of public parks, recently partnered up with beverage giant Coca-Cola to install trash trap systems in southwest Atlanta. The initiative seeks to keep pollution out of estuaries the Proctor Creek feeds into, such as the Chattahoochee River, and ultimately the ocean. As a 9-mile tributary of the Chattahoochee River, Proctor Creek experiences both stormwater runoff and flooding . The water runoff that moves the trash from storm drains empties into Proctor Creek and is then conveyed into connecting waterways. Related: Coca-Cola to offer Dasani water in aluminum cans and bottles to reduce plastic waste With the catchment system in operation, floating litter can be intercepted in the water runoff. Collected rubbish and debris are then guided into a larger collection container. Both the NRPA and Coca-Cola explained that the trash traps are technologically designed to prevent harm to fish and wildlife , for they do not use nets nor fencing. With a trash-free watershed, the surrounding communities’ water quality will be revitalized. Revitalization will also improve the overall quality of life for the region. Current estimates are that the traps reduce litter by 80 percent so that Proctor Creek is relatively cleaner before entering the Chattahoochee River. Coca-Cola is notorious for its massive plastic footprint. But just last month, in August 2019, Coca-Cola and its rival, PepsiCo Inc., both announced their departures from the leading plastics lobbying group, the Plastic Industry Association. Coca-Cola has deployed its global World Without Waste goal to recycle and reuse the equivalent of all the bottles and cans it sells by 2030. Additionally, Coca-Cola plans to recycle and reuse the bottles collected by the trash traps to transform them into graduation gowns for Atlanta Public Schools’ high school seniors. With this trash trap project, Coca-Cola is commercially maneuvering even closer toward a more environmentally friendly stance, perhaps to dispel its long-standing negative image as the world’s largest plastic polluter. Coca-Cola noted in its news release, “The visibility of the trash traps, educational programming and creation of local green jobs associated with the project will facilitate lasting change and foster environmental, economic and social benefits in the area.” Other stakeholders in the waterway improvement plan include the city of Atlanta, the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, Groundwork Atlanta, Park Pride and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Some of these partners will analyze data on the trash collection to document trends and detail effectiveness of the project design to inform best practices for optimal litter mitigation strategies. + Coca-Cola + NRPA Image via Shawn Taylor

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NRPA and Coca-Cola partner to install trash traps to clean Atlanta waterways

Toxic algae bloom forces all Mississippi beaches to close

July 10, 2019 by  
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The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) announced a total ban on swimming in the ocean until a toxic algae bloom subsides. Over the weekend, MDEQ added Pascagoula Beach West and Pascagoula Beach East to the list of beaches where swimming is prohibited; the list now includes all of the state’s 21 beaches. The blue-green Harmful Algal Bloom is almost certainly caused by massive amounts of fertilizers that entered the watersheds this year due to unusually high rainfall. High rates of precipitation over the winter and spring months forced officials to open the Bonnet Carré spillway in Louisiana, which feeds into the Gulf of Mexico. A spillway is essentially a reservoir for excess water from dams that occasionally needs to be released into the ocean when they become too full. Related: Scientists working to help manatees poisoned by Florida red tide This year, due to abnormally heavy rainfall, the spillway has been opened for a total of 104 days and counting. In comparison, the Bonnet Carré spillway was only opened for 23 days in 2018 and remained closed for all of 2017. Officials believe that the algae bloom will dissipate once the spillway can be closed again, because the bloom will be cut off from the likely source of fertilizer-contaminated freshwater. The algae bloom is actual a type of cyanobacteria that feeds off of the nutrients from fertilizers, namely nitrogen and phosphorus. The bacteria creates a blue-green tint to the water and has a foul smell. According to a statement released by MDEQ, exposure “can cause rashes, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. MDEQ advises that those exposed wash with soap and water and to not eat fish or any other seafood taken from affected areas.” Recreation along the beaches and coastlines is still permitted; however, officials prohibit anyone from entering the water and advised “people and their pets to avoid water contact such as swimming or wading, because exposure to the blue-green HAB can be harmful.” Via Gizmodo and MDEQ Image via Phil Whitehouse

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Toxic algae bloom forces all Mississippi beaches to close

Whiskey spill in Kentucky kills thousands of fish

July 10, 2019 by  
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Two Jim Beam warehouses in Kentucky erupted in flames last week, spilling nearly 45,000 barrels of bourbon into the Kentucky River. In an apocalyptic scene, the fire spread to the alcohol on the river’s surface, consuming all available oxygen within the water. The fire, alcohol content and lack of oxygen resulted in the death of thousands of fish . But this isn’t Kentucky’s first rodeo. In fact, the state has had so many whiskey spills that it has specific protocols for this type of disaster . The Louisville Water Company issued a swift announcement letting the public know that the water is not a health concern for humans. Related: Two thirds of world’s rivers are contaminated with drugs “We’ve had several occur in this state, so when this one occurred, we were just ready for it and knew what the actions were to take,” said Robert Francis, the manager of Kentucky’s emergency response team. When the Jim Beam warehouse was struck by lightning in 2003, 800,000 gallons of bourbon spilled out into the a creek in Bardstown. Just last year, the Jim Beam warehouse went up in flames again and spilled 9,000 barrels. In 2000, Wild Turkey spilled 17,000 gallons of bourbon in Frankfort, Kentucky and killed about 228,000 fish . In 1996, the Heaven Hill distillery spilled 90,000 barrels of bourbon after a warehouse fire. Firefighters from four counties rushed to the scene to extinguish this year’s bourbon warehouse blaze, and emergency teams continue to monitor the river to assess the impact. The Kentucky River is approximately 24 miles long and moving at a speed of less than a mile per hour. The alcohol is expected to have reached the Ohio River and be diluted enough to cause no further threat. Wildlife crews also helped aerate the river water via barges, which helps to replenish the oxygen and prevent further fish kills. The emergency responders will leave the dead fish floating in the river to decompose naturally, as they pose no threat to humans or other wildlife . Via The BBC and The Courier-Journal Image via Bruno Glätsch

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Whiskey spill in Kentucky kills thousands of fish

The World Surf League is pledging to eliminate single-use plastics and become carbon-neutral by the end of 2019

June 27, 2019 by  
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The World Surf League (WSL)  is known for being the authority for all things surfing, famous for showcasing the most talented professional surfers to the rest of the world. Now, they’ve decided to use that powerful platform to set an example for sports organizations everywhere by committing to substantial environmental initiatives. Earlier in June, the WSL announced a series of pledges that will apply to all WSL Championship Tour and Big Wave Tour events. They include becoming carbon neutral globally by the end of 2019, eliminating single-serve plastics by the end of 2019 and leaving each place better than they found it. The WSL runs more than 230 global surfing events each year. Considering the WSL’s millions of passionate fans, and the organization’s plan to hold competitions throughout Australia, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, Tahiti, France, Portugal, California and Hawaii in 2019 alone, these public commitments are bound to inspire others to address critical issues about the state of our environment. Related: Kin Travel is offering unique vacation ideas that benefit destinations through conservation and sustainability Along with the announcement came an expansion of the WSL’s already-active ocean conservation efforts by their launch of a global campaign to “ Stop Trashing Waves ” with its non-profit arm, WSL PURE (“Protecting Understanding and Respecting the Environment”). WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt spoke of breaking new ground in the world of sports when it comes to the “urgent battle against climate change and ocean pollution,” saying, “We believe it’s our responsibility to be ‘all in’ with our efforts to protect the ocean and beaches amid the devastating climate crisis we all face. We invite everyone who cares about the ocean to join us.” So how does the WSL plan on carrying out these goals? For starters, the organization is offsetting its carbon footprint by investing in REDD+ and VCS (Verified Carbon Standard) certified carbon offset projects. These projects are focused on restoring and protecting natural and renewable energy ecosystems based in each of the WSL’s operating regions. The WSL will also be making an effort to limit non-essential travel and implement policies to reduce carbon emissions within its offices. 11-time WSL Champion and surfing legend, Kelly Slater, spoke of the announcement with enthusiasm. “I think it’s a great stance and an important message to send to people around the world. The ocean is vital to everyone, for food, for oxygen and especially to us surfers. I think everyone should make it their priority to care about this issue and make changes in their lives to help.” + World Surf League Images via World Surf League

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The World Surf League is pledging to eliminate single-use plastics and become carbon-neutral by the end of 2019

The World Surf League is pledging to eliminate single-use plastics and become carbon-neutral by the end of 2019

June 27, 2019 by  
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The World Surf League (WSL)  is known for being the authority for all things surfing, famous for showcasing the most talented professional surfers to the rest of the world. Now, they’ve decided to use that powerful platform to set an example for sports organizations everywhere by committing to substantial environmental initiatives. Earlier in June, the WSL announced a series of pledges that will apply to all WSL Championship Tour and Big Wave Tour events. They include becoming carbon neutral globally by the end of 2019, eliminating single-serve plastics by the end of 2019 and leaving each place better than they found it. The WSL runs more than 230 global surfing events each year. Considering the WSL’s millions of passionate fans, and the organization’s plan to hold competitions throughout Australia, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, Tahiti, France, Portugal, California and Hawaii in 2019 alone, these public commitments are bound to inspire others to address critical issues about the state of our environment. Related: Kin Travel is offering unique vacation ideas that benefit destinations through conservation and sustainability Along with the announcement came an expansion of the WSL’s already-active ocean conservation efforts by their launch of a global campaign to “ Stop Trashing Waves ” with its non-profit arm, WSL PURE (“Protecting Understanding and Respecting the Environment”). WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt spoke of breaking new ground in the world of sports when it comes to the “urgent battle against climate change and ocean pollution,” saying, “We believe it’s our responsibility to be ‘all in’ with our efforts to protect the ocean and beaches amid the devastating climate crisis we all face. We invite everyone who cares about the ocean to join us.” So how does the WSL plan on carrying out these goals? For starters, the organization is offsetting its carbon footprint by investing in REDD+ and VCS (Verified Carbon Standard) certified carbon offset projects. These projects are focused on restoring and protecting natural and renewable energy ecosystems based in each of the WSL’s operating regions. The WSL will also be making an effort to limit non-essential travel and implement policies to reduce carbon emissions within its offices. 11-time WSL Champion and surfing legend, Kelly Slater, spoke of the announcement with enthusiasm. “I think it’s a great stance and an important message to send to people around the world. The ocean is vital to everyone, for food, for oxygen and especially to us surfers. I think everyone should make it their priority to care about this issue and make changes in their lives to help.” + World Surf League Images via World Surf League

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The World Surf League is pledging to eliminate single-use plastics and become carbon-neutral by the end of 2019

Arsenic found in bottled water sold at major retailers

June 24, 2019 by  
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Multiple studies have found arsenic in bottled water sold around the country. Major companies Whole Foods and Keurig Dr. Pepper are under fire for their spring water brands Peñafiel and Starkey, which, according to the California Center for Environmental Health, exceed the federal limit for arsenic. Keurig Dr. Pepper has voluntarily withdrawn its unflavored mineral water from shelves at retail outlets like Target and Walmart and is offering a refund for customers that return the contaminated bottles. Related: Ragú pasta sauce pulled from shelves for possible plastic contamination A corroborating study by Consumer Reports also found that the waters exceeded the federal limits for arsenic by 10 parts per billion. Despite pressure from the Food and Drug Administration, Whole Foods has not issued a recall . According to Whole Foods, an internal study found that its water is within the federal safety limits. The Center for Environmental Health did not release the exact findings of its study, as it has launched a lawsuit against both companies. The specific results of the analysis are confidential until further notice. “Arsenic when present in the diet at very high levels, well above those detected in recent samples of Peñafiel, is associated with numerous chronic diseases ,” Keurig Dr Pepper said in a company press release. “Water quality tests of Peñafiel samples conducted by an independent laboratory on behalf of Keurig Dr Pepper detected arsenic at levels that exceeded the FDA’s bottled water standards for mineral water of 10 ppb.” Peñafiel is imported from Mexico, where bottling has halted until further investigation. Starkey is bottled from a spring source in Idaho that was recently lauded for its purity during the brand’s launch in 2016. By 2017, however, the Food and Drug Administration had already recalled the water for the first time. Bottled water is the top selling bottled beverage in the U.S., with most consumers assuming it is safer and more regulated than municipal tap water. Via Huffington Post Image via FotoBlend

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Arsenic found in bottled water sold at major retailers

Floridians break world record for largest underwater cleanup

June 18, 2019 by  
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The coastal city of Deerfield, Florida made headlines this weekend for hosting the world’s largest underwater cleanup. This year, for the city’s 15th annual cleanup event, 633 divers gathered on the beach to scuba dive and collect more than 1,500 pounds of debris. By the number of divers participating, this cleanup is officially the largest in the world. Divers traveled internationally and from all over the country to participate in the event, and a Guinness Book of World Records officiant was on-site to confirm that the event indeed broke the previous record held by divers in the Red Sea. Led by an Egyptian diver, the Red Sea event in 2015 included 614 divers from around the world. Related: Baby turtles officially return to the beaches of Mumbai after largest beach cleanup in history The Florida cleanup event was hosted by Dixie Divers and the Deerfield Beach Women’s Club. According to one of the event planners, Tyler Bourgoine, “It was a great time … Everyone was working together and cleaning up one part of the reef or pier.” The group launched the event from a fishing pier on Deerfield Beach. Much of the debris collected was related to the fishing activities off the pier and in the area. Throughout the world, abandoned fishing gear remains an enormous percentage of marine litter. In the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — thought to be the largest collection of trash in all of the oceans at 79,000 metric tons — the majority of the debris is abandoned fishing gear. The cleanup is a small but important step to reducing over 8 million metric tons of trash that is estimated to enter the ocean every year and cause obscene damage to marine mammals, birds and other wildlife . Via EcoWatch Image via Shutterstock

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Floridians break world record for largest underwater cleanup

Pop-up shipping container accommodations add a bit of luxury to local festivals

June 18, 2019 by  
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For those who aren’t exactly in the mood to sleep in a dusty old tent on the ground while they attend a weekend music festival, Caboose & Co. has a better alternative. The West Sussex-based company is providing events around the world with a more sustainable accommodation option in the form of luxury glamping pods made out of shipping containers . After realizing that many event organizers are often hard-pressed to provide decent on-site lodging for event attendees, the Caboose & Co. team decided to create a sustainable solution that would also provide a taste of luxury. Today, the portable Cabooses can be easily transported to events around the globe by truck, train or ship. Related: Treehouses made from shipping containers offer the ultimate glamping getaway in Portugal The company provides two types of glamping pods , both made out of repurposed shipping containers. The first is the Rocket, a two-bedroom container that sleeps up to four people. The elongated container has two sundecks on either end with plenty of seating, perfect for enjoying some outdoor time. The interior of the Rocket shipping container features a modern design. The living space is compact but comfortable with en suite bunk bedrooms and a small bathroom with a shower and flushing toilet. The second glamping pod is called The Scotsman, which is a smaller, one-bedroom pod that sleeps up to two people. Like the Rocket, the pod has a large sun terrace that leads to the interior space. There is a double bed with a comfortable mattress as well as a small bathroom. Both containers come with electricity and hot water. Since its inception, Caboose & Co. has been making a name for itself as the go-to company for festival accommodation . It recently set up a pop-up hotel at Cheltenham Festival and will also be on-site at a number of upcoming events such as the Hay Festival, Glastonbury and more. + Caboose & Co. Images via Caboose & Co.

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Pop-up shipping container accommodations add a bit of luxury to local festivals

Second Nature transforms abandoned fishing nets into 3D-printed seashells and bowls

May 2, 2019 by  
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Did you know that ghost nets are considered among the deadliest ocean debris in the world? The term refers not to haunting specters in the water, but discarded synthetic fishing nets that pollute the seabed and trap fish, mammals and other sea creatures. To raise awareness about these abandoned fishing nets and marine plastic pollution, Rotterdam-based research and design studio The New Raw has launched a new initiative called Second Nature that’s transforming the deadly ghost nets into 3D-printed seashells, bowls and other beautiful objects. The Second Nature project begins with the collection and sorting of the ghost gear depending on material type: nets, ropes, floaters or weights. The plastic waste is then processed in a grinder to create colorful and textured filament for the  3D printing projects. Second Nature currently operates out of a mobile lab located in the small Greek village of Galaxidi. Related: Ghost gear is haunting our oceans “ Plastic is a major contributor to the pollution of the seas,” said Panos Sakkas and Foteini Setaki, founders of The New Raw. “However, living in urban regions, we tend to forget about our dependence on the sea, which is crucial to our food and oxygen supply. With Second Nature, we want to give plastic a second life.” The project also draws inspiration from five edible species of Mediterranean seashells — Mitra Zonata, Pecten Jacobeaus, Pinna Nobilis, Strombus Persicus and Tonna Galea — that are currently protected due to their intensive fishing. In giving the ghost nets a second life, Second Nature has created shell-shaped ornaments as well as a series of colorful tableware as part of its ongoing research project promoting a circular economy . The team plans to launch a new collection of objects in summer 2019 and have documented their process in a 10-minute short film by award-winning filmmaker Daphne Matziaraki, viewable here . + The New Raw Images via The New Raw

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Second Nature transforms abandoned fishing nets into 3D-printed seashells and bowls

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