Sustainability 101: A Novice Perspective

Read the full post at the GLRPPR Blog.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be doing my own deep dive into the realm of sustainability by highlighting specific topics and people that strike a chord with me along the way. I’m going to cover communications strategies, green marketing, consumer behavior/consumption, disaster risk reduction, post-consumer recycling, environmental tourism, and urban development. Hopefully, I can provide an accessible, alternative perspective that helps makes things a little clearer, so that at your next dinner party, if sustainability becomes the topic, you’ll be good to go.

Baseball Bats, Bunnies, and Christmas Trees: Exploring the Benefits of Ecosystems

Read the full story from U.S. EPA.

For many families the summer to do list must include a day at the ballpark: soaking in the summer sun, enjoying a juicy hotdog, sharing high-fives following the crack of the bat marking a dramatic home team “walk off” victory (if they don’t win it’s a shame). That distinctive “crack” is the product of solid contact between ball and hardwood bat. For many players, the wood of choice is white ash (Fraxinus americana), a native of the forests of eastern and central North America.

Outside of big league ball players, the white ash has also caught the attention of researchers as an indicator of forest health in the face of terrestrial acidification. More commonly known as acid rain, terrestrial acidification occurs when sulfur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate ammonium in the atmosphere, mainly emitted from electricity generation, vehicles, industry, and agricultural practices, are deposited on to the landscape. These acidifying chemicals fall to the ground with rain, snow, fog, hail, or even dust, where they can harm trees. White ash, along with balsam fir (Abies balsamea)—a a preferred choice for Christmas trees for its iconic triangle shape and pleasing aroma—are particularly sensitive to acid, leading to decreased growth and regeneration, and eventually fewer trees. Such harm can reverberate across the entire ecosystem, reducing tree cover and harming wildlife.

But other than a longer search for an acceptable Christmas tree or baseball bat, what are the direct impacts to people who also benefit from healthy forests full of fir, ash, and other trees? Until recently, answering that question with specific, easy-to-share answers was a challenge. EPA researchers are changing that.

In part of an effort to explicitly identify and quantify the many ways in which people benefit from healthy ecosystems, EPA scientist Tara Greaver explored the cascade of impacts of reduced fir and ash trees on forest ecosystems and human well-being. Or as Greaver and co-authors note in their recently-published study, “…the effects of acid rain on bunnies, baseball, and Christmas trees.”

Adidas pledges to ditch ‘virgin’ plastics by 2024

Read the full story from UPI.

Shoe and apparel manufacturer Adidas pledged Monday to cut out ‘virgin’ plastic from all its shoes and sportswear by 2024.

Sources, Fate, and Effects of Microplastics in the Marine Environment: Part 2 of a Global Assessment

Download the document.

This report provides an update and further assessment of the sources, fate and effects of microplastics in the marine environment, carried out by Working Group 40 (WG40) of GESAMP (The Joint Group of Experts on Scientific Aspects of Marine Protection)…

Each main section begins with key messages followed by a short summary of related findings from the first  report. Each section ends with conclusions, knowledge gaps and research priorities. Greater effort has been made to describe the nature, distribution and magnitude of sources of macro- and microplastics. These are described by sea-based and land-based sectors, together with the main entry points to the ocean. Spatial (regional) and temporal differences in both sources and entry points are examined. One previously unrecognized source of secondary microplastics highlighted is debris from vehicle tyres.

Floating park built from recycled plastic waste debuts in the Netherlands

Read the full story at Mother Nature Network.

In a futuristic European port city that’s already unleashed trash-eating aquatic dronesto clean up its harbor, you might wonder what could possibly come next in terms of innovative methods of clearing plastic waste from polluted waterways.

Rotterdam-based environmental organization the Recycled Island Foundation is on it.

While impressive-looking floating “litter traps” devised by this fledgling foundation are certainly worthy of recognition, it’s what the group has done with the captured plastic waste post-recovery that’s more notable: they’ve introduced the plastic back into Rotterdam’s bustling harbor as a snazzy floating green space dubbed Recycled Park.

Heat Check

Read the full story at Grist.

Extreme heat kills more than a hundred New Yorkers yearly. Here’s how the city’s tackling the problem in a warming world.

Popcorn-Driven Robotic Actuators

Read the full story in IEEE Spectrum.

Popcorn is a cheap, biodegradable way to actuate a robot (once)

California’s wine industry is leading the way to a sustainable future

Read the full story from the Climate Reality Project.

In the wine world, it is said that a vine that struggles produces better wine. But in California, long-term drought, temperature spikes, and recent wildfires continue to test this theory, and the wine industry has taken notice.

Not only that, industry leaders are starting to take action.

Just north of San Francisco, Sonoma County has emerged as a global leader in the sustainability movement, pushing to become the nation’s first 100 percent sustainable wine region -in 2019. According to the Sonoma County Winegrowers’ 4th Annual Sustainability Report, 72 percent of the vineyard acreage in the county – more than 42,083 acres – has already been certified sustainable.

New tool to calculate ‘nitrogen footprint’ offers guide to pollution reduction

Read the full story in Science Daily.

Researchers have helped create the first tool to calculate the ‘nitrogen footprint’ of an organization. The tool will provide a guide to sustainability and pollution reduction for daily activities such as food consumption, travel and energy use.

Your produce is less healthy than it was 70 years ago. These farmers might change that

Read the full story in  the Cincinnati Inquirer.

Slowly, a soil health movement is spreading across the Midwest and other parts of America. Farmers are changing the way they farm, adding something called cover crops and changing up crop rotations. They’re finding ways to use less fertilizer, which is linked to decreased soil health and water degradation.