ISRI, JASON Learning announce “Bigger Than the Bin” student video and poster contest

Read the full story in Recycling Today.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) and JASON Learning, Ashburn, Virginia, are again inviting young filmmakers, artists and recycling advocates to participate in a contest to build awareness around the variety of items that can be recycled. The theme of this year’s contest is “Bigger than the Bin.” Students in grades K–12 are challenged to select an item that is too big for the blue bin, research how that item is recycled and create an original video or poster on the subject.

Position Available: Sustainable Technology Coordinator, Oberlin College

Oberlin College invites applications for the position of Sustainable Technology Coordinator. The successful candidate will assist in the integration, development, and management of a campus-wide building energy operation system.   In addition, the successful candidate will assist in the further development and management of “Environmental Dashboard,” a novel technological system that provides community residents college students, staff, and faculty with environmentally and socially contextualized real-time feedback on energy and water flows and environmental conditions through residential and commercial buildings and through cities. More information on the project can be found at: www.oberlindashboard.org.

We seek a recent college graduate (or equivalent experience) with substantial knowledge of computer systems and building energy management.  We seek an individual with strong leadership and excellent organizational skills who is excited by the opportunity to develop and manage novel technology designed to motivate and empower citizens, students, staff, and facility operators to be smart users of energy and to take better care of the environment.  Applications will be considered immediately until the position is filled.  A full description and instructions for application are posted at: Sustainable Technology Coordinator.

Biodiversity and business: five companies that are putting nature first

Read the full story in The Guardian.

From bee hotels to living walls, these companies are taking steps to prevent biodiversity loss.

Webinar: Consumers’ Attitudes Toward Water-Efficient Landscapes

Thu, Nov 5, 2015 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM CST
Register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5583107110429314049

What motivates homeowners to adopt water-efficient landscape designs and irrigation practices? What obstacles must irrigation professionals and water providers overcome to move the needle towards more water-efficient choices? If you or your organization struggle to answer these questions, this EPA WaterSense and Alliance for Water Efficiency co-sponsored webinar is for you!

Join Utah State University professors Kelly Kopp and Joanna Endter-Wada to learn how Utah State University’s Center for Water-Efficient Landscaping’s water efficiency programs have engaged thousands of Utah homeowners to achieve real, meaningful results—and what they’ve learned along the way. Stephanie Duer, Water Conservation Program Manager of the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities will also share her perspective and explain how the water utility has benefitted from cooperation with the Center.

Competition in the Water Sector: Financing the Fourth Generation of Water Infrastructure

Read the full post at Financing Sustainable Water.

What if your building, home or office, was also a water company that could enable innovative decentralized water management approaches? In the UK and Australia, changes to the water competition regime are enabling new companies to provide water services at an individual building scale, for neighborhoods and towns or as strategic new supplies available for existing water companies. This post explains the approaches behind these at the building and neighborhood scale and outlines two case studies.

When are Recyclability and Zero Waste the Wrong Goals?

Read the full story at Waste360.

For three thoughtful days recently in Indianapolis, my colleagues and I became immersed in the language, implications and policy challenges of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) evolving Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) initiative.

Formally introduced back in 2009 in its publication “Sustainable Materials Management: the Road Ahead,” the EPA has recently hinted that its efforts are becoming more serious. The current name change to its perennial report on municipal solid waste (MSW) characterization and composition now titled, “Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures,” is an example.

Starting with its decidedly difficult acronym, SMM is often misconstrued to be something other than intended. It isn’t neatly pigeon holed, but crosses barriers, traditional roles and hierarchies. To say that our group’s initial grasp of sustainable materials management was strained would not be an exaggeration. After all, SMM takes some of the self-righteous notions, to which the waste and recycling industry have been taught to subscribe, and turns them slightly askew.

You see, as honorable as our intentions might be, we’re being asked to accept that our efforts in planning for recyclability, diversion and waste management can be misplaced goals, under certain circumstances. In fact, those very aspirations can create roadblocks for other more comprehensive sustainable solutions to arrest our insatiable consumption of resources.

New study finds endocrine disruptor enters the body via nail polish

Read the full story at Treehugger. See also the story in the Chicago Tribune. Find the abstract for the original study, published in Environment International, here.

Painting your nails could expose you to a potentially toxic chemical, triphenyl phosphate, suspected of being an endocrine disruptor.

A compound used as a plasticizer and furniture fire retardant, triphenyl phosphate (TPHP), which has been linked to hormone and reproductive irregularities, obesity, and other health issues, is also found in some nail polishes. And while painted nails may not seem like an easy pathway to exposure for potentially toxic chemicals (as opposed to ingesting or inhaling the substances), a recent study from researchers at Duke University and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) indicates otherwise, and suggests that TPHP directly enters the body during and after the polish is applied.

TPHP has been used as a replacement fire retardant compound in furniture, especially foams, following the phaseout of the previous generation of fire retardant compounds, the polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) group. However, recent studies have found troubling links to increased health risks, especially hormone-related issues, with exposure to TPHP as well, and because it’s an ingredient in a common beauty product, nail polish, and is not always disclosed on the label, painting your nails with certain brands of polish can carry a health risk with it.

The new study, Nailed, conducted by Dr. Johanna Congleton, a senior scientist at EWG, and Dr. Heather Stapleton, associate professor at Duke University, first tested 10 nail polishes for the existence of TPHP, none of which disclosed the chemical on their labels, and found it in 8 out of the 10. EWG has a listing of more than 3,000 nail polishes and treatments in its Skin Deep database, of which 49% list TPHP on their ingredients, but this recent finding of undisclosed TPHP in polishes suggests that it may be in more personal care products than was originally thought.