Day: September 14, 2012

11 Great Posters from when We Used to Care About Wasting Food

Read the full story at Treehugger.

Over at NRDC Switchboard, Dana Gunders writes Dear Government: Food Waste is a Matter of Urgency. Please Take It Seriously. It’s an important post about a subject that is often ignored: that well over 40% of food in North America is wasted. Worldwide, almost a third of all food is lost to poor harvesting, lousy distribution, poor storage and ridiculous portion sizes. And it isn’t just the food wasted; it’s also the water, fertilizer and fuel.

Dana notes that the government is doing close to nothing about the problem, but that it once thought it important enough to run poster campaigns. She illustrates her post with her favourite from the US Navy in World War II.

I have been collecting images of these posters for a couple of years, so here is an illustrated version of Dana’s five recommendations to help solve the problem of food waste in America.

Treehugger has some other great retro poster collections that apply equally well today. They are:

iPhone 5 adds waste to the e-waste problem

Read the full story at SmartPlanet.

As the news and reviews of the iPhone 5 stream across my desktop, a New York Times story by Brian Chen caught my attention. Apple has replaced the long, thin power and data connector port on its legacy phones with a smaller port, on which the company has hung the moniker “Lightening.” The new port reportedly satisfies a desire to make the phone thinner.

But as Chen notes, the new port is also “instantly rendering obsolete the millions of spare charging cords, docks and iPhone-ready clock radios that its customers have accumulated over the years.”

He notes that Apple is “selling Lightning cables and $30 adapters that will connect the new phones to many but not all older accessories.”

I’m a long-time Apple user and I love my iPhone, but I’m really irritated that they not only changed the power and data connector ports on the new iDevices, but also refused to standardize them with the rest of the mobile device market. See iPhone 5 Misses Standardisation Opportunity for more on that. My next phone might be an Android.

Global Access to Clean Drinking Water and Sanitation: U.S. and International Programs

Download the document.

According to a 2012 report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), roughly 780 million people around the world lack access to clean drinking water and an estimated 2.5 billion people (roughly 40% of the world’s population) are without access to safe sanitation facilities. The United States has long supported efforts to improve global access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). In 2000, for example, the United States signed on to the Millennium Development Goals, one of which includes a target to halve the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015. In 2002, the United States also participated in the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, which emphasized the need to address limited access to clean water and sanitation among the world’s poor. The 109th Congress enacted legislation to advance these global goals through the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005 [P.L. 109-121, (Water for the
Poor Act)]. In March 2012, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that it had joined the Sanitation and Water for All partnership—a coalition of governments, donors, civil society and development groups committed to advancing sustainable access to clean drinking water and sanitation.

Congressional support for the act was motivated, in part, by calls to augment funding for WASH programs and improve the integration of WASH activities into broader U.S. foreign aid objectives and programs, as well as global health efforts. The act called for USAID to bolster support for WASH programs, further synthesize WASH activities into global health programs, and contribute to global goals to halve the proportion of people without access to clean water and sanitation by 2015. In the 111th Congress, the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2010 was introduced, but not enacted. That bill would have amended the Water for the Poor Act and addressed several concerns observers raised regarding the Water for the  Poor Act, particularly by creating senior leadership within USAID to address water and sanitation issues, assessing U.S. water and sanitation programs, and strengthening reporting requirements. A new bill, introduced in the 112th Congress as the proposed Water for the World Act (S. 641), awaits action by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Several agencies contribute to U.S. efforts to improve global access to clean drinking water and sanitation, of which programs implemented by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and USAID make up roughly 90%. In FY2010, for example, the United States invested $953 million on water and sanitation programs worldwide, including $898 million provided by USAID and MCC. Appropriations for water projects are provided to USAID annually, while MCC receives multi-year funding for its country compacts that include support for water projects. As such, spending by MCC on water projects may vary significantly from year to year and may not be requested annually.

The President requested $302 million for USAID’s water activities for FY2012 and Congress appropriated not less than $315 million for international water and sanitation programs through the FY2012 Consolidated Appropriations. The FY2013 request for USAID’s water and sanitation efforts was slightly lower at $299.1 million. This report addresses congressional efforts to address limited access to clean drinking water and sanitation, outlines related programs implemented by USAID and MCC, and analyzes issues related to U.S. and international drinking water and
sanitation programs that the 112th Congress might consider.

National Governors Association Selects Illinois for Industrial Energy Efficiency Grant

Illinois is one of four states chosen by the National Governors Association (NGA) for a prestigious “Best Practices Policy Academy” grant to boost industrial productivity through use of energy efficiency and Combined Heat and Power (CHP).

The bipartisan NGA said Illinois earned the award due to its, “…approach to advancing industrial energy efficiency by engaging a wide range of stakeholders across the state to develop solutions linked to the state’s energy efficiency goals.”

“Industry is part of Illinois’ heritage, from the stockyards and blast furnaces of our parents’ generation to the high tech corridors of today,” Governor Quinn said. “Manufacturers can trim energy costs and sharpen their competitive edge by using CHP and other homegrown measures.”

Combined Heat and Power (CHP) is an efficient and clean approach to on-site power generation. Under conventional CHP, fuel is burned in a “prime mover” such as a gas turbine, with the waste heat “recycled” to provide heating, cooling and/or dehumidification. Under “Waste Energy Recovery” (WER), the fuel is burned in a furnace or boiler to provide heat to an industrial process, with excess heat “recycled” to generate electricity on-site.

Following a national trend, energy expenditures by Illinois’ 14,700 manufacturers have increased by 25 percent since 2000.

The NGA grant will address ways to enhance Illinois industry through energy efficiency and CHP in nine manufacturing sectors: primary metals, petroleum and coal products, chemical, food, nonmetallic mineral products, paper, fabricated metal products, machinery, and plastic and rubber products.

There are currently 139 CHP units in Illinois – accounting for 1,367 MW of electricity generation – powering factories, farms, schools, hospitals, museums, wastewater treatment plants and more. Large CHP facilities include the Archer Daniels Midland plants in Decatur and Peoria, University of Illinois campuses in both Champaign and Chicago, Eastern Illinois University and U.S. Steel’s Granite City Works. Others include the Brookfield Zoo, M&M Mars Candy Company, Great Lakes Naval Training Center and three veterans’ facilities.

Among the newer Illinois CHP installations is a 3 MW CHP system at the Illinois River Energy Ethanol Plant in Rochelle which was installed with the help of Federal stimulus funds and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The DCEO also provided assistance to build CHP plants at a Stephenson County dairy farm, and at wastewater treatment plants in Danville, Decatur, Downers Grove and Fox Lake.

Illinois is a leader in sustainability and energy efficiency, with efforts like the Green Governments Coordinating Council, ‘Illinois Energy Now Trade Ally Program’ and other energy-saving initiatives. In addition to the $12,000 grant, NGA will provide specialized assistance and work closely with the “Illinois team” to develop an action plan by April 2013 for use in other states. The Illinois team – still in formation – will include the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Energy Resources Center, Illinois Commerce Commission, Illinois DCEO’s State Energy Office, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Pollution Prevention, Office of the Governor and representatives of the State’s manufacturing and power utilities sectors.

The bipartisan National Governors Association has been the voice of the nation’s Governors since 1908. The NGA’s Center for Best Practices is the research and development arm of NGA that directly serves the nation’s governors. Through the Center, governors may learn what does (and doesn’t) work, obtain tailored assistance in designing new policy programs and receive timely information about cutting-edge programs in other states.

Siemens, Air France-KLM, BMW lead Dow Sustainability Index

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

BMW, Air France and Siemens were named as some of the world’s leaders in sustainability by one of the longest-running sustainability indicators, which released its latest listings today.

The 2012 Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes (DJSI) review was announced by SAM, the Swiss-based investment company that focuses on sustainability investing. SAM partners with Dow Jones Indexes in the development and publication of the DJSI, which tracks the financial performance of some top international companies.

The DJSI uses a “best-in-class” approach for measuring sustainability. The world’s largest 2,500 companies are annually invited to report on their sustainability performance. Broken down into 57 sectors, those businesses are then analyzed by a variety of social, economic and environmental criteria — especially regarding risks and opportunities within their specific industries.

Plant For The Planet Combats Global Warming Apathy, Harnesses The Power Of Youth

Read the full story at Huffington Post Green.

Felix Finkbeiner is only 13 years old, but he’s accomplished more in those 13 years than many adults do in an entire lifetime.

He’s addressed the United Nations; he’s a published author; and when he was 9, he founded Plant for the Planet, a non-profit dedicated to planting trees and combating climate change.

Four years later, the organization has expanded to 131 countries, and according to the Telegraph, recently passed its goal of planting 1 million trees in Germany.

Racing towards a sustainable aviation fuel

Read the full post at GreenBiz.

Keep your eyes skyward this November for news of a publicity stunt expected to draw fresh attention to the controversial idea of sustainable aviation fuel. That’s when British pilot Jeremy Roswell plans to fly a small private plane 10,000 miles — from Sydney, Australia to London, England — powered by a fuel made from plastic waste.

The Cessna in question uses a diesel engine and is expected to make its historic run on a product manufactured by the Irish company Cynar Plc. The fuel reportedly uses pyrolysis technology to melt down the waste plastics in an oxygen-free, emissions-free process.

ReSpace Competition Blends Design with Reuse

Read the full story at Earth911.

Earlier this year, Habitat for Humanity of Wake County launched the ReSpace design competition in an effort to raise awareness of what recycled and reused building materials can do. The challenge? Design a small, unique and transportable structure with reused materials at the core, from concept to construction.

The grand prize winner’s design will be constructed in a 48-hour build-a-thon in January, overseen by Habitat for Humanity of Wake County – which serves Raleigh, NC and surrounding neighborhoods. The final ReSpace structure will stand in the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Raleigh for several weeks before being sold to benefit Habitat for Humanity of Wake County.

Scientist warns of heavier storms, more algae

Read the full Associated Press story in the Duluth News Tribune.

An increasingly warm climate is worsening the problem of harmful Great Lakes algae blooms by boosting the intensity of spring rains that wash phosphorus into the waters, a scientist said Wednesday during a conference for advocates and policymakers.

The trend is likely to continue over the coming century, heightening the urgency to control runoff of dissolved phosphorus that promotes excessive algae growth, said Don Scavia, director of the University of Michigan’s Graham Sustainability Institute.

Is Amazon Prime eco-friendly or wasteful?

Read the full story at Mother Nature Network.

Amazon Prime continues to gain traction with customers. One of’s most popular options, Amazon Prime offers free two-day shipping on many items, along with unlimited video streaming and one free monthly Kindle book rental, all for just $79 a year. Amazon doesn’t disclose actual sales figures, but the company did announce in August that it now ships more items through Amazon Prime’s free two-day shipping than the free “super saver” shipping available for other customers who order $25 or more of products from the site.
But for eco-conscious consumers, is Amazon Prime the best option? Does the ease of free shipping make us more wasteful? Does Amazon always make the most eco-friendly shipping decisions? declined to comment for this article, but we did hear from several of the online retailer’s customers — both individuals and companies — who offered their perspectives.

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