Day: November 21, 2011

More contaminants may be added to Great Lakes fish consumption advisories

Read the full story from Great Lakes Echo.

Every Great Lakes state warns people about eating toxic fish but officials are examining the risks of contaminants that aren’t covered under current advisories.

All eight states – Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York – pool resources from their health, environmental and natural resource agencies to issue fish consumption advisories. The group is dubbed the Great Lakes Fish Consumption Advisory Consortium.

Most state advisories spell out the risks of PCBs, mercury, dioxins and chlordane, which are contaminants found in some fish that can cause health problems.

But that may need to expand, said Bruce Lauber, a senior research associate at Cornell’s Human Dimensions Research Unit, which recently studied state fish advisory programs across the Great Lakes.

Low Impact, Green Solutions Fix Older City Water Infrastructures

Read the full story from Temple University.

Like every older American city — and old cities across the globe — Philadelphia faces the daunting challenge of maintaining and upgrading its aging, and at times outdated, water and sewer infrastructure. While national and state funding sources continue to decline, cities must find innovative ways to comply with increasing regulatory requirements to improve performance and meet regulatory standards.

A new study by Jeffrey Featherstone, director of Temple’s Center for Sustainable Communities and a professor of Community and Regional Planning, examines how Philadelphia is tackling the problem head-on through the city’s “Green City Clean Waters Program (GCCW).”

IPCC Confirms Link Between Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change

Read the full story from SustainableBusiness.com.

A definitive report from the the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released today says it now certain that human emissions of greenhouse gases and warming aerosols like black carbon are increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather by putting more heat energy into the climate system.

The report urges countries to develop disaster management plans to adapt to the certainty of ever more frequent, intense extreme weather events: blistering heat waves, heavier rainfall and more floods, stronger cyclones, landslides and more intense droughts.

Reducing Food Waste During the Holiday Season

Great list, courtesy of WorldWatch.

1.     Be realistic: The fear of not providing enough to eat often causes hosts to cook too much. Instead, plan out how much food you and your guests will realistically need, and stock up accordingly. The Love Food Hate Waste organization, which focuses on sharing convenient tips for reducing food waste, provides a handy “Perfect portions” planner to calculate meal sizes for parties as well as everyday meals.

2.     Plan ahead: Create a shopping list before heading to the farmers’ market or grocery store. Sticking to this list will reduce the risk of impulse buys or buying unnecessary quantities, particularly since stores typically use holiday sales to entice buyers into spending more.

During the meal: Control the amount on your plate to reduce the amount in the garbage.

3.     Go small: The season of indulgence often promotes plates piled high with more food than can be eaten. Simple tricks of using smaller serving utensils or plates can encourage smaller portions, reducing the amount left on plates. Guests can always take second (or third!) servings if still hungry, and it is much easier (and hygienic) to use leftovers from serving platters for future meals.

4.     Encourage self-serve: Allow guests to serve themselves, choosing what, and how much, they would like to eat. This helps to make meals feel more familiar and also reduces the amount of unwanted food left on guests’ plates.

After the meal: Make the most out of leftovers.

5.     Store leftovers safely: Properly storing our leftovers will preserve them safely for future meals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that hot foods be left out for no more than two hours. Store leftovers in smaller, individually sized containers, making them more convenient to grab for a quick meal rather than being passed over and eventually wasted.

6.     Compost food scraps: Instead of throwing out the vegetable peels, eggshells, and other food scraps from making your meal, consider composting them. Individual composting systems can be relatively easy and inexpensive, and provide quality inputs for garden soils. In 2010, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to pass legislation encouraging city-wide composting, and similar broader-scale food composting approaches have been spreading since.

7.     Create new meals: If composting is not an option for you, check out Love Food Hate Waste’s creative recipes to see if your food scraps can be used for new meals. Vegetable scraps and turkey carcasses can be easily boiled down for stock and soups, and bread crusts and ends can be used to make tasty homemade croutons.

8.     Donate excess: Food banks and shelters gladly welcome donations of canned and dried foods, especially during the holiday season and colder months. The charity group Feeding America partners with over 200 local food banks across the United States, supplying food to more than 37 million people each year. To find a food bank near you, visit the organization’s Food Bank Locator.

9.     Support food-recovery programs: In some cases, food-recovery systems will come to you to collect your excess. In New York City, City Harvest, the world’s first food-rescue organization, collects approximately 28 million pounds of food each year that would otherwise go to waste, providing groceries and meals for over 300,000 people.

Throughout the holiday season: Consider what you’re giving.

10.  Give gifts with thought: When giving food as a gift, avoid highly perishable items and make an effort to select foods that you know the recipient will enjoy rather than waste. The Rainforest Alliance, an international nonprofit, works with farmers and producers in tropical areas to ensure they are practicing environmentally sustainable and socially just methods. The group’s certified chocolates, coffee, and teasare great gifts that have with long shelf-lives, and buying them helps support businesses and individuals across the world.

Congress kills request for National Climate Service

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

At first look, the proposal is as dull, bureaucratic and routine as an agency request to Congress can be.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wanted to reshuffle its offices to establish a National Climate Service akin to the agency’s National Weather Service. It asked for no new funding to do so.

But in a political climate where talk of the earthly kind of climate can be radioactive, the answer in last week’s budget deal was “no.” Congress barred NOAA from launching what the agency bills as a “one-stop shop” for climate information.

Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2010

View the factsheet.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has collected and reported data on the generation and disposal of waste in the United States for more than 30 years. We use this information to measure the success of waste reduction and recycling programs across the country. These facts and figures are current through calendar year 2010.

Municipal solid waste characterization reports from 1995-2009, as well as data tables from 2010, are available here.