How the future of sustainable fashion is rooted in the fight for garment worker protections in Los Angeles

Read the full story at The 19th.

A proposed community plan has enormous implications for the future of the L.A. fashion industry — and labor rights activists are working to make sure the district and its 20,000 workers are top of mind.

This Danish school is made from straw and seaweed

Read the full story at Fast Company.

Behind the thick wooden walls of a small school in northern Denmark are two wholly uncommon materials: One is often burned to run the country’s district heating systems. The other usually rots away on the beach.

But at the Feldballe School in Rønde, Denmark, Henning Larsen Architects used these two materials—straw and a seaweed called eelgrass—to form the insulation and ventilation systems of a revolutionary kind of building. Designed specifically to reduce the amount of carbon emissions that result from the building’s construction and operable lifespan, the school is showing how biomaterials can help the construction industry hit environmental targets without sacrificing aesthetics.

Online tool estimates nitrogen availability for crop fields

by Lisa Sheppard, Prairie Research Institute

With high corn crop yields in mind, Illinois farmers sometimes apply mid-season nitrogen fertilizer to supplement the early-season applications that may have been partly washed away with spring rains. An atmospheric scientist at the Illinois State Water Survey (ISWS) is perfecting his online and Android app decision-support tool that helps farmers schedule applications based on real-time nitrogen availability in local soils.

With frequent rains in the spring, farmers face uncertainty about the amount of nitrogen lost from fields, particularly as precipitation becomes heavier and severe storms are more prevalent in Illinois.

“Oftentimes, farmers over apply fertilizer to their cornfields, especially during heavy rain seasons,” said Junming Wang at the ISWS, a unit of the Prairie Research Institute. “I wanted to design a smart farm tool and app for farmers to use optimal but not excessive nitrogen so costs and water pollution can be reduced.”

The NTrack tool lessens this uncertainty by estimating real-time soil nitrogen availability. With hourly local weather data from the National Weather Service and soil data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) soil database, the tool simulates corn growth, crop nitrogen uptake, and nitrogen losses. Users of the tool provide some crop management inputs, including their location, corn cultivar being used, planting date, and previous fertilizer application date. For location, users can click on a Google map.

As a result, farmers receive an email with a time series of soil nitrogen concentrations at two depths, 0 to 1 and 1 to 2 feet, over the requested period. The results include a graph of soil nitrogen availability as it changes during the simulation period.

The online tool can provide timely information, helping farmers to better understand how changing weather conditions and crop management practices affect soil nitrogen availability, and informing management decisions on whether to apply additional nitrogen during the growing season. 

As Wang and University of Illinois colleagues improve the NTrack tool, they hope to add components including crop rotation information, tile drainage flow and nutrient losses, and soil phosphorus availability. They also plan to extend the Android app to the Apple IOS system. Adding tile drainage information can provide a clearer picture of how quickly excess rainfall drains from the fields and into lakes and streams.

The online tool is available at For the Android app, contact Wang at

This story originally appeared on the Prairie Research Institute News Blog. Read the original article.

Satellite monitoring helps utilities manage risk, boost biodiversity

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

AiDash is working with utility companies to help them turn their land from a hazard into a carbon sink and biodiversity hub.

What’s needed to scale low-carbon hydrogen?

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

There’s a lot of hype about green hydrogen right now. Can reality live up to the script?

“The growing volume of e-waste is quickly overwhelming the current capacity to recycle it”

Read the full story at Waste Management World.

E-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream globally. Still very little of it gets recycled. Proper end-of-life management means not only dealing with hazardous materials but also with sensitive data. A challenge – but also an opportunity – for recyclers as Clean Earth’s Mark Kasper says in our interview.

Recent Illinois Policy Journal articles relating to sustainability

The Illinois Municipal League recently released the most recent issue of the Illinois Policy Journal. Sustainability related articles include:

  • Going Green: The Adoption of Climate Action Plans by Illinois Municipalities, 2008-2022 (p. 1)
  • Networked Supply Chains: Describing the Costs of Lake Michigan’s Drinking Water (p. 29)
  • Sustainability of Policy, Systems, and Environmental Strategies to Advance Change and Public Health (p. 49)

How does EPR fit into the reuse economy?

Read the full story from the Product Stewardship Institute.

Consumers use one trillion single-use food and beverage packaging items in the United States each year – which make up nearly seventy percent of the litter found in the environment. According to Upstream, an environmental nonprofit, resources to manufacture these products include 10% of harvested wood, 20% of mined aluminum, 40% of plastic, and 50% of glass.

That’s the problem that the burgeoning reuse economy seeks to solve by establishing systems for consumers to purchase products in reusable packaging and then return for refill at stores, restaurants, or entertainment venues. But how does Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) fit in? This question was explored on a recent webinar moderated by Upstream’s new policy director, Sydney Harris (formerly of PSI) where Will Grassle, PSI’s Associate for Policy & Programs, was one of four panelists.

PaintCare makes a huge difference in recycling paint

Read the full story from Coatings World.

Every time a contractor or DIY painter opens up a can of paint, it is an opportunity to create a fresh, new look to a home or a project. Rarely, though, does the painter have the exact amount of paint that is needed. There typically is extra paint left over. According to the Product Stewardship Institute (PSI), a policy advocate and consulting nonprofit, approximately 10% of all household latex and oil-based paint goes
unused in the US.

“That’s about 80 million gallons each year,” PSI writes on its website. “When dumped in the trash or down the drain, unused paint can contaminate our environment with volatile organic compounds, fungicides, and (in the case of very old paint) hazardous metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium.”

In some cases, the extra paint can come in handy for touchups. However, most cans of paint stack up in a cabinet or get thrown away. That is wasteful and not exactly ideal for the environment.

Scott Cassel, CEO and founder of PSI, saw this as an opportunity to reuse or recycle leftover paint. Previously, when Cassel was director of waste policy and planning for Massachusetts in the late 1990s, he worked with Benjamin Moore to recycle its paint back into virgin paint at its Milford, MA plant

Illinois Farm to Food Bank Program 2022 Year in Review

Download the report and other publications related to the project.

Throughout 2022, the Illinois Farm to Food Bank team (Feeding Illinois, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Specialty Growers Association, Illinois Farmers Market Association, and University of Illinois Extension) collaborated with farmers and markets across the state to coordinate pilot projects. Pilot project models included food flowing from farm to food bank, farm to food pantry, and utilizing aggregation sites. This “2022 Year in Review” report provides an update on Farm to Food Bank activities in 2022 and outlines the different models along with key takeaways. It also details central challenges and opportunities that exist in expanding the program.