Day: November 19, 2019

Study reveals most consumers think food labels are misleading

Read the full story at Refrigerated & Frozen Foods.

This study found that 33% consider transparency from a brand as an extremely important factor when purchasing food products.

A Brief Guide to Sustainability Planning for Libraries

This post originally appeared on the ILA Connector blog.

My previous blog posts dealt with specific ways to incorporate sustainability into your library’s operations. In this post, I’m going to show you how to put it all together into a plan that you can use to integrate it into your library’s culture.

Just like a strategic plan, your sustainability plan helps you define short, medium, and longer term goals, as well as how you’ll allocate resources to implement specific parts of the plan. In fact, many of the steps of the sustainability planning process will be familiar to any library staff person who has participated in strategic planning.

These steps include:

  • Form a green team
    • Identify people in your library that are familiar with major operations and services, including operations/facilities and purchasing. Find staff and board members who are enthusiastic about promoting environmentally responsible practices in the workplace. Ask for volunteers and look for people at all levels and responsibilities. Correlate the number of people on the team to the size of your staff and have them choose a coordinator.
    • The team must have authority to set goals and implement actions to achieve them.
  • Calculate your current environmental footprint by gathering baseline information about your impact. In my post on how to make your building more efficient, I discussed some ways to assess your current performance. The chapter “How Green Are We?” from How Green is My Library? has more detailed checklists and suggestions for establishing a baseline.
  • Identify your long-term sustainability vision and goals, as well as the data you need to measure progress.
    • Set short, medium, and long-term goals. Rethink your practices and make yourself stretch. Be realistic. Ask yourselves how you can do things more efficiently. Make your goals specific and measureable (e.g. “We will reduce energy use by 30% in two years.”
  • Develop an action plan based on your long-term goals.
    • Compare what you’re already doing with your long-term goals. Develop a list of potential projects, both small and large. Consider what you would do if you had to do something tomorrow, as well as things you would change if you did a major building remodel. Research what other libraries are doing. Look at best practices from government agencies. Brainstorm within your green team and ask for suggestions from your staff, your board, and your patrons.
    • Prioritize your list by asking the following questions and giving highest priority to actions with the most yes answers:
      • Will the project have significant environmental benefits?
      • Will the project result in cost savings over the life of the action/project? If yes, how much? Use simple payback as a measure (total cost of project/annual savings=number of years until payback).
      • Is the time frame and ease of implementation manageable?
      • Do you have control over the action?
      • Is the issue of significant concern to your staff and/or patrons?
      • Does the action have high visibility and/or educational value?
  • Track your progress, publicize your results, and keep improving.
    • Break each project down into discrete tasks with measurable goals, when practical. Assign staff/team members that will be responsible for completing each task and give them a deadline. Document responsibility and deadlines and hold people accountable for completing tasks on time.
    • Bring your staff and the public on board. Educate your staff through free or low cost workshops or in-service training. Post reminders. Change them up to keep them fresh. Keep it fun. Provide updates on progress to your staff, your board, and your patrons. Include updates in newsletters, on social media, on your web site, and in your reports to your board. Translate dollars saved into metrics they understand (e.g. x number of DVDs added to the collection, y number of new staff hired). Encourage new ideas.
  • Revise your plan as you determine what does and doesn’t work and as you meet your goals and identify new projects. Don’t file it away and forget about it.

The following are handy guides to sustainability planning:

Don’t just think of your sustainability plan as an internal library document. You can also use it as part of a larger effort to position your library as a community sustainability leader. I’ll talk more about that in my next post.

EREF Expands into Sustainable Materials Management Space

Read the full story at Waste360.

The foundation will now directly manage relationships with all participants in the circular economy including manufacturers, brands, consumers and the waste industry.

7 ways business leaders can transform the food system

Read the full story at Food Navigator.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has published a seven-point action plan that aims to positively transform the global food system and potentially unlock $4.5 trillion in new business opportunities.

Climate change will fundamentally shape the lives of children born in 2019

Read the full story at Fast Company.

A baby born this year—such as Penelope Page, born in a hotel in California last month after her parents fled a wildfire—will live a life “profoundly affected by climate change.” If greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current path, the world will be four degrees hotter by the time a child born today is 71 years old. That’s a version of the planet that no human has ever experienced. Food and water shortages are likely. Extreme heat may make some cities unlivable. Flooding and wildfires will destroy homes and critical infrastructure.

Venice is underwater after plan to protect it from floods never got finished

Read the full story in Fast Company.

All hell broke loose in Venice last night, as over six feet of water flooded the city. Tourists waded out of hotels; residents desperately tried to pump out water; passengers climbed out of boat-taxi windows because the gangways had been washed away. The mayor called for a state of emergency as St. Mark’s Square, which sits at one of the lowest points in the city, turned into a 5-foot-deep swimming pool.

McDonald’s to implement solar, wind energy to power restaurants

Read the full story at Refrigerated & Frozen Foods.

This investment means McDonald’s is said to add more renewable energy to the power supply than any other U.S. restaurant company to date.

Biofuel producers make significant gains in efficiency, productivity and conservation, Argonne survey shows

Read the full story from Argonne National Laboratory.

The nation’s biofuel producers have made significant gains in both energy efficiency and water conservation in recent years, according to a report released by the U.S Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory.

Irrigated Agriculture: Technologies, Practices, and Implications for Water Scarcity

Download the document.

What GAO Found

In the United States, irrigation accounts for more than 40 percent of freshwater use. Several areas in the nation are both heavily irrigated and considered water stressed. Farmers can select irrigation technologies and water conservation practices to better manage freshwater, an increasingly limited natural resource. Farmers have access to multiple irrigation technologies that could increase efficient use of water. Irrigation technologies include micro irrigation, which applies small amounts of water close to the plants; sprinkler systems, which spray water through nozzles; and gravity systems, where water floods the field or runs down furrows. In addition, practices such as irrigation scheduling may help farmers avoid over-irrigation. Farmers can also use precision agriculture technologies, such as soil moisture sensors, computer or smartphone decision support tools, and remote control of irrigation equipment to help optimize irrigation scheduling.

Farmers adopt and use efficient irrigation systems to maximize farm-level profitability, through improved crop yields and decreased costs and other inputs. Drivers of farmer adoption of irrigation technology include increasing profits and reducing risks, but we did not find much evidence that conserving water was a factor in adoption of technology. Barriers limiting adoption of more efficient technology include small farm size, large capital investments, and lack of available information on the technologies. For precision agriculture technologies, lack of connectivity, such as access to broadband, can be a barrier, particularly in rural areas.

Farmers’ use of efficient irrigation technologies alone may not conserve water. GAO’s modeling of an illustrative irrigated watershed shows farmers’ use of efficient irrigation scheduling—such as using data from soil moisture sensors to schedule irrigation—can reduce the amount of water applied to the field, resulting in less water withdrawn from a source, which in this model was groundwater. At the same time though, GAO’s modeling shows water that is consumed through evapotranspiration does not change with efficient irrigation scheduling, while return flows to the source bodies of water may be reduced. While, in some instances, reduced return flows may be beneficial, as such flows can convey pollutants downstream, reduced return flows may also result in less water available to downstream users.

GAO’s analysis of survey data on farms that converted to more efficient irrigation systems shows there is no change in the amount of water farmers apply to a field with more efficient technology, except for a few technologies and crop types. One such exception is in orchards and vineyards, where switching to micro irrigation was associated with less water applied per acre. Efficient technology may actually increase water use, as it provides farmers with additional flexibility to expand irrigated land or to switch to more water-intensive crops.

Policy Options

The request for GAO to conduct this study specified a policy goal of reducing the impact of irrigated agriculture in locations facing water scarcity in the United States. With that goal in mind, GAO identified the following options federal policymakers could consider:

(1) Promote the use of more efficient irrigation technology and practices, such as irrigation scheduling.

(2) Promote the use of precision agriculture technologies, such as soil moisture sensors and weather stations.

However, in light of GAO’s findings, these options may need to be combined with appropriate agreements in order to enable and encourage water savings. Such agreements could include incentives to farmers for conserving water. Both policy options have the potential benefit of reducing the amount of water applied during irrigation. However, challenges include ensuring that water savings on the farm translates to water conservation on the larger watershed level.

Why GAO Did This Study

Demand for freshwater surpasses the amount naturally available in some areas of the United States. The agriculture sector competes for this limited resource, and withdraws and consumes the most freshwater of any user in the nation. GAO was asked to conduct a technology assessment around agricultural water use.

This report provides an overview of irrigation technologies and on-farm water conservation practices, factors influencing the adoption of these technologies, and implications of their use for water scarcity.In conducting this assessment, GAO reviewed scientific literature; convened an expert meeting with the assistance of the National Academies; visited farmers, academics, and industry representatives; interviewed officials from federal agencies; modeled water use in an illustrative watershed; and performed a regression analysis on U.S. Department of Agriculture irrigation, crop, and technology data.

GAO describes two policy options that federal policymakers could consider relating to irrigation technology and discusses their benefits and challenges.

Telling Stories to Battle Climate Change, With a Little Humor Thrown In

Read the full story from the New York Times.

The women who make the podcast “Mothers of Invention” stand apart in the field of climate communication.

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