Day: August 21, 2015

The Latest Thing in Green: FIT students test environmentally friendly ways to reuse textiles

Read the full story in the Wall Street Journal.

Mention the Fashion Institute of Technology, and green innovation isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. But two FIT students are undertaking a project that they hope will make the fashion industry’s use of textiles more environmentally friendly.

While the recycling of plastic, aluminum and paper is now commonplace, the recycling of organic fabric is rare, because no one has come up with an easy, environmentally friendly way to do it.

But Lydia Baird and Willa Tsokanis hope to change that. Students in FIT’s textile development and marketing program, they found themselves asking why the school routinely tossed out reams of muslin, a cheap strain of cotton used throughout the industry to test designs, once students were finished with it. While biodegradable, it takes longer to break down when mixed with other landfill refuse.

China CO2 emissions: ‘Coal error’ caused wrong calculations

Read the full story from the BBC.

Confusion over the types of coal being burned in Chinese power stations has caused a significant overestimation of the country’s carbon emissions.

Researchers, published in the journal Nature, say existing CO2 calculations had used a globally averaged formula.

But when scientists tested the types of coal actually being burned in China, they found they produced 40% less carbon than had been assumed.

The study says the error amounted to 10% of global emissions in 2013.

Are self-driving vehicles good for the environment?

Read the full story at Ensia. See also a Great Lakes Echo story on the same topic which covers research from the University of Michigan.

Autonomous transportation has lots of advantages. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions could be one of them.

Businesses delivering the most coveted perk: a better commute

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Everyone hates a rough commute. So why aren’t more companies helping their employees come up with better alternatives to driving?

Engineers look to learn from stealthy owls

Read the full story at The Construction Index. The full study is available here.

Civil engineers are hoping that research into how owls fly so quietly could lead to new ways of making wind turbines quieter.

UN Zero Hunger Challenge

From the web site:

Eliminating hunger involves investments in agriculture, rural development, decent work, social protection, and equality of opportunity. It will make a major contribution to peace and stability and to the reduction of poverty. It will contribute to better nutrition for all – especially women from the beginning of pregnancy and children under the age of two. The United Nations Secretary-General gives top priority to the elimination of hunger. He appreciates the bold leadership by many from governments, the UN System, civil society, business, labour unions, consumer groups and the scientific community. They succeed through working together.

The Zero Hunger Challenge encourages participation by a range of organizations, social movements and people around a common vision. They promote effective strategies, more investments and increased development cooperation, in line with existing national and international agreements. They strive for results and are accountable for their efforts – particularly to those who are hungry.

Join the Challenge by signing the Declaration.

14 Local Governments to Consider Mahomet Aquifer Consent Decree

A proposed consent decree has been drafted between Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Clinton Landfill, Inc., and 14 local government agencies, which comprise the Mahomet Aquifer Coalition. Throughout the month of September, each agency will review and take action on the proposed agreement. If approved by all parties, the consent decree would resolve the pending litigation  regarding the disposal of certain hazardous materials in a landfill located above the Mahomet Aquifer. The Mahomet Aquifer is the primary source of drinking water for nearly 750,000 people in 14 Illinois counties.
The City of Champaign has served as the lead agency for the Coalition leading these efforts, including the litigation, the designation of the aquifer as sole source, and promoting legislation to  protect the aquifer. The consent decree will appear before Champaign City Council at their  September 1, 2015, regular meeting. The agreement would allow manufactured gas plant (MGP) waste already dumped at the landfill to remain. In exchange, Clinton Landfill, Inc. is barred from accepting any more MGP source material or submitting any more applications to dispose of MGP source materials or federally regulated PCB waste at any  landfill facility anywhere in DeWitt County over the Mahomet Aquifer. Additionally, the landfill is required to receive at minimum, semi-annual groundwater monitoring, and must provide at least 12 additional inches of cover over the MGPs stored there. The proposed consent decree is available in its entirety on the City’s website at
Below are detailed key points of the proposed consent decree:
  1. Clinton Landfill, Inc. agrees to withdraw its application before the United States Environmental Protection Agency for approval to accept Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) waste regulated by the Federal Toxic Substance Control Act in the chemical waste unit at the Clinton Landfill. They further agree not to seek future approval to dispose of said PCB waste in any landfill facility located anywhere in DeWitt County over the Mahomet Aquifer.
  2. Clinton Landfill, Inc. agrees to not accept additional Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) waste with chemical constituents in concentrations exceeding state regulatory limits for toxicity in the chemical waste unit. They also agree to not seek future permission from any regulatory body to accept such MGP waste at any landfill facility located anywhere in DeWitt County over the Mahomet Aquifer.
  3. Clinton Landfill, Inc. agrees to cover the MGP waste already disposed of in the chemical waste unit (pursuant to an earlier Illinois EPA approval) with a 12 inch layer of impermeable clay soils. This is to prevent water and other liquids from other waste subsequently disposed of on top of the MGP waste from leaking into the MGP waste
  4. Clinton Landfill, Inc. agrees to have properly licensed environmental testing professionals test the groundwater at Clinton Landfill for the presence of toxic chemicals commonly found in MGP wastes on a semiannual basis. Tests are to be conducted for the remaining operational life of the chemical waste unit and for the post-closure period of time (under current law a minimum of 30 years) and to provide those test results to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  5. The State of Illinois, through the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and the Illinois EPA, reserve the right to pursue any future criminal or civil violations related to any future contamination of the environment from the MGP wastes already accepted at Clinton Landfill, and any remedies available under the law, including but not limited to the removal of the waste material causing the contamination.

Webinar: Nab the Aquatic Invader! Educator Resources

Aug 26, 2015 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Register at

Learn a multi-disciplinary approach for enhancing your current curriculum on biology, environmental science, and geography using an engaging web site; discover how to reduce the risks of school, science curricula and biological supply houses as pathways for aquatic invasive species; and hear about exemplary education resources to incorporate into your classroom instruction.

The webinar will be presented by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant staff who have incorporated the tools and resources in their professional development training with formal and non-formal educators.

Certificates of attendance for professional development contact hours can be requested after the webinar. Instructions will be provided during the session.

16 simple ways to reduce plastic waste

Read the full story at Mother Nature Network.

Plastic is found in virtually everything these days. Your food and hygiene products are packaged in it. Your car, phone and computer are made from it. And you might even chew on it daily in the form of gum. While most plastics are touted as recyclable, the reality is that they’re “downcycled.” A plastic milk carton can never be recycled into another carton — it can be made into a lower-quality item like plastic lumber, which can’t be recycled.

How big is our plastic problem? Of the 30 million tons of plastic waste generated in the U.S. in 2009, only 7 percent was recovered for recycling. This plastic waste ends up in landfills, beaches, rivers and oceans and contributes to such devastating problems as the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch, a swirling vortex of garbage the size of a continent where plastic outnumbers plankton. Plus, most plastic is made from oil.

Luckily, there are simple steps you can take that will dramatically decrease the amount of plastic waste you generate.

This Company Sends Imperfect Fruits and Vegetables to Your Home (if you live in Oakland or Berkeley)

Read the full story at Mental Floss. Ariel Schwartz reviews the service at Tech Insider.

A new startup called Imperfect wants to change the public’s attitude towards crooked fruit. Created by entrepreneurs Ben Simon and Ben Chesler, the service sends fresh produce right to your door. All the fruit and veggies are ripe, delicious, and inexpensive—the only catch is that they look a little weird. A buyer can get 10-14 pounds of produce for only $12.

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