Day: July 6, 2018

How Eating Seaweed Can Help Cows to Belch Less Methane

Read the full story at e360.

Emissions from the nearly 1.5 billion cattle on earth are a major source of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Now, researchers in California and elsewhere are experimenting with seaweed as a dietary additive for cows that can dramatically cut their methane production.

 

Seattle ban on plastic straws comes into force as city gets tough on waste

Read the full story at CNBC.

Food service businesses in the city will have to provide customers with alternative options such as straws made from compostable paper or compostable plastic.

If businesses do not comply with the new rules, they could face a fine of $250, according to Seattle Public Utilities.

Climate change linked to potential population decline in bees

Read the full story at Science Daily.

A new study from Northwestern University and the Chicago Botanic Garden has found that climate change may drive local extinction of mason bees in Arizona and other naturally warm climates.

 

Polish charity gets huge phone bill thanks to stork

Read the full story from the BBC.

A Polish charity has received a huge phone bill after it lost a GPS tracker that it had placed on the back of a stork, it’s reported.

According to official broadcaster Radio Poland, the environmental EcoLogic Group placed a tracker on the back of a white stork last year to track the bird’s migratory habits.

It travelled some 3,700 miles (6,000kms), and was traced to the Blue Nile Valley in eastern Sudan before the charity lost contact.

EcoLogic told the Super Express newspaper that somebody found the tracker in Sudan, removed the sim card and put it in their own phone, where they then racked up 20 hours’ worth of phone calls.

Denver Releases Action Plan to Reduce Wasted Food, Feed More Residents in Need

The Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) announced the release of its Food Action Plan, a set of strategic projects to increase food equity in the city. The plan serves as an action-oriented companion piece to the Denver Food Vision, an aspirational view of advancing our food system in Denver.

Using the Food Vision as our guiding document, the Food Action Plan was created to fulfill the goals set forward in the Food Vision after 18 months of community engagement. The Food Vision framework is organized by four interrelated focus areas: Inclusive, Vibrant, Healthy and Resilient. Among other goals articulated in the focus areas, the Food Vision aims to reduce the number of food insecure households by 55 percent (Healthy) and cut the volume of food waste in residential garbage collection by 57 percent citywide by 2030 (Resilient).

In addition to contributing toward those goals, the Food Action Plan addresses many city objectives, including those set out in our 2020 Sustainability GoalsClimate Action Plan 2050, and the Community Health Improvement Plan.

“These are bold ambitions that require extensive collaboration and commitment,” said Denver Public Health & Environment Executive Director Bob McDonald. “We will continue to work in partnership with the entire community – businesses, individuals, other government agencies, and nonprofits – to achieve these innovations.”

As part of our initial release of the Food Action Plan, we are pleased to announce our first project—a collaborative effort with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), funded by The Rockefeller Foundation, to reduce the amount of food being wasted in Denver homes and businesses.

“When food goes to waste, so does everything it takes to get it to our plates—from water to energy and money,” said Elizabeth Balkan, food waste director at NRDC. “The good news is, Denver—and cities nationwide—are uniquely positioned to tackle this problem. In the process, they can make their communities more resilient, economically vibrant and equitable.”

Together with NRDC, the City and County of Denver will integrate multiple strategies to prevent food from going to waste, rescue surplus food for those in need, and recycle food scraps. This includes:

  • Participating in a public education campaign aimed at cutting food waste from its largest sources, especially consumers.
  • Engaging businesses through challenges and city-level technical assistance by DDPHE’s Certifiably Green Denver Program, which works with local businesses to increase sustainable practices.
  • Encouraging surplus food donation by local businesses, engaging public health inspectors, and various forms of stakeholder engagement to address the food rescue resources gap.
  • Encouraging and incentivizing organics recycling and composting by residents.

“Understanding the drivers of and potential for wasted food in Denver was an important first step in advancing a more sustainable citywide food system,” said Devon Klatell, Senior Associate Director and Initiative Strategy Lead for Food at The Rockefeller Foundation. “NRDC found that an additional 7.1 million meals could be rescued every year, which would close Denver’s meal gap by 46%. The report findings, coupled with a strong set of public and private sector partners, provide the tools needed to rescue and deliver more nutritious foods to people in Denver and beyond.”

Up to 40 percent of the U.S. food supply—worth $218 billion—goes uneaten each year. It’s a problem that costs the average family of four $1,800 annually. This takes an enormous environmental toll in terms of water, energy, agricultural chemicals, and labor that go to waste when food is discarded. Unbelievably, at the same time, one in eight Denver residents does not have a reliable supply of food.

Last fall, NRDC, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, released a pair of reports that looked at food waste and food rescue potential in Denver. Among other things, it found more than four pounds of food per person on average was wasted at home every week in Denver, and 76 percent of that could have been eaten. It also revealed up to 7.1 million additional meals annually could be donated in Denver beyond current donations, under optimal conditions.

DDPHE is excited to share our Denver Food Action Plan, as it kicks off a series of projects with an array of partners across the community and the nation, all with one focus in mind. We will continue to roll out projects that are part of this plan in the weeks and months to come. Our Food Vision showed us what was possible to increase food equity here in Denver, and the Food Action Plan provides us a path to achieve this bold goal.

The Fight for the Right to Be Cremated by Water

Read the full story in the New Republic.

“Aquamation,” a greener form of body disposal, is gaining acceptance in America. But some powerful groups are fighting to stop it.

Queens Botanical Garden launches composting initiative

Read the full story in the Times-Ledger.

On the first day of summer, the New York City Compost Project Hosted by Queens Botanical Garden launched the one-acre Farm and Compost Site, inviting the public to participate in the organics recovery process.

More than 50 people attended the June 21 event at Queens Botanical Garden, located at 43-50 Main St., Flushing. The Farm and Compost Site on the southwest section of the garden demonstrates how the food cycle is applied to agriculture, horticulture, and green infrastructure.

Eco-Cycle’s Bailey Sees Recycling as a Tool

Read the full story in Waste360.

Recycling has evolved dramatically from the days when only people pegged as “tree huggers” talked about it, to a time when consumers are demanding services and states are setting aggressive diversion targets. Nonprofit Eco-Cycle has evolved right along with the growing movement, beginning by recycling in Boulder, Colo., and today helping those around the country and globe reach for what is now commonly known as “zero waste.”

Kate Bailey, Eco-Cycle’s director of Eco-Cycle Solutions, is leading much of the organization’s work. Bailey started at Eco-Cycle in 2003 as a part-time researcher and has since become the nonprofit’s zero waste guru of sorts. In her role, she has created national reports, websites, webinars and tools to empower citizens, government staff and elected officials to adopt zero waste practices. And she helps them set up for success.

Bailey, who is a 2018 Waste360 40 Under 40 award recipient, spoke to Waste360 about her passion for sustainability work. She discusses what has changed in the way she thinks of recycling in relation to the larger sustainability picture. And she shares insight on what she thinks counts as zero waste—as well as ideas on how to get there.

Skyscrapers could soon generate their own power, thanks to see-through solar cells

Read the full story in Science Magazine.

Lance Wheeler looks at glassy skyscrapers and sees untapped potential. Houses and office buildings, he says, account for 75% of electricity use in the United States, and 40% of its energy use overall. Windows, because they leak energy, are a big part of the problem. “Anything we can do to mitigate that is going to have a very large impact,” says Wheeler, a solar power expert at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.

A series of recent results points to a solution, he says: Turn the windows into solar panels. In the past, materials scientists have embedded light-absorbing films in window glass. But such solar windows tend to have a reddish or brown tint that architects find unappealing. The new solar window technologies, however, absorb almost exclusively invisible ultraviolet (UV) or infrared light. That leaves the glass clear while blocking the UV and infrared radiation that normally leak through it, sometimes delivering unwanted heat. By cutting heat gain while generating power, the windows “have huge prospects,” Wheeler says, including the possibility that a large office building could power itself.

Ameren Missouri Offering New Renewable Energy Program

Read the full story at North American Wind Power.

Ameren Missouri is offering a new program designed to help increase renewable energy use in the state.

The Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved the company’s Renewable Choice Program, a way for large commercial and industrial customers, as well as municipalities of any size, to receive up to 100% of their energy from renewable resources. The Renewable Choice Program is the first of its kind in Missouri, according to the energy company.

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