Earth Day 2017: ‘The experts are fighting back’

An exuberant rite of spring” is how the New York Times described 22 April, 1970. In Manhattan, and across America, “huge, light-hearted throngs ambled down autoless streets.” Earth Day had been born, an outburst of protest – and revelry – that involved everyone from save-the-whales activists to opponents of new freeways. Denis Hayes, now 72, was the man tasked with organising it. “What we did was pull together an event that told all of those people, ‘You know you’ve really got something in common and this should be one big movement where we’re supportive of one another’.”

It sparked, he tells me, the most profound change in American society since the New Deal. “We now have different kinds of buildings, different kinds of automobiles, different planes, different lighting, different land use. People are choosing to have diets for environmental reasons, choosing to have one child for environmental reasons.” And all that, he says, “didn’t come from political leadership at the top, it came from a bunch of demands down at the grassroots”.

Read more here.

Source: TheGuardian.com

Recycling is Easy in NYC

Big cities across the United States are leading the effort to recycle. They are making this push not only in an effort to save the environment, but it saves them a lot of money as well. New York City is leading this push and has made recycling easy to do. In 2007, it cost New York City taxpayers $290 million to export their garbage. NYC netted $7.5 million after the initial cost of recycling paper waste. That was only half of all the paper thrown in the garbage.

Weekly Curbside Pickup

NYC offers weekly curbside pick-up. 35% of waste can be recycled through this program. You can recycle these items:

  • Cardboard
  • Mixed paper
  • Metal
  • Glass
  • Plastic
  • Cartons

You Can Recycle Your Food Scraps

Food waste in NYC creates 600,000 tons of garbage a year. In an effort to reduce this 38 of GrowNYC’s markets accept food scraps, and you may be eligible for the Department of sanitations curbside organics collection.

Textiles Can be Recycled Too

Over 20 Greenmarket locations offer drop-offs for your unwanted textile materials. On average, a New Yorker throws out 46 lbs. of textiles a year. 193,000 lbs. of textiles total are thrown out in NYC per year.

Polystyrene Foam is Easy to Recycle

There’s no need to throw out Dart Polystyrene foam products either. There’s a push to recycle these products and make NYC’s comprehensive recycling program complete. Some of these products can be accepted by the cities curbside recycling program for the items they do not accept it’s easy to go to these following polystyrene recycling centers to drop them off:

  • Bronx – Kingsbridge Armory, 10 W. 159th St.
  • Brooklyn – Nick’s Lobster parking lot, 2777 Flatbush Ave.
  • Manhattan – Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building, loading dock on West 126th St.
  • Queens – York College parking lot, southeast corner of Guy R. Brewer Blvd. and liberty Ave.
  • Staten Island – Christ Church New Brighton, 76 Franklin Ave.

Drop off time is on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.

Why You Should Recycle

Big cities like New York are making it so easy. And in NYC if all of the materials that could be recycled never reached the landfill, NYC’s annual waste would be less than 50,000 tons a year. That’s a huge difference. It saves the environment and it saves money.

Don’t Dump, Recycle!

Today, society realizes that we all must live an Dart earth-friendly lifestyle in order to preserve the earth’s precious natural resources for future generations. Some lawmakers have tried to outright ban foam in New York, but their decision was overturned in support of recycling. Public spaces have garbage cans placed strategically throughout high traffic areas – yet it’s better to hang on to some refuse for recycling, as opposing to dumping your garbage in a trash bin. Here is a list of items that are very easily recycled, using separation bins in the office, at home or at community recycling stations:

  • Metals such as aluminum, steel or tin cans when re-purposed by mills, takes seventy-five percent less energy to manufacture products than raw metals.
  • Paper mixes including shredded documents, newspapers and magazines, and bills and office paper are easy to recycle. In fact, sixty-three percent of paper used in 2013 was recovered and recycled.
  • EPS or polystyrene product recycling is fast becoming the next great opportunity for eco-friendly living. These foam products are used all around us in daily life. Starting school, community or workplace recycling programs for foam products is becoming more widespread.
  • Cardboard recycling centers are located in many major cities and some will pay cash depending on the amount of cardboard.
  • Composting your backyard, which includes leaves, tree trimmings and grass clippings, along with food scraps is a great way to attempt zero waste at home.
  • Glass and Plastic have long been a part of household and community recycling programs. Be familiar with the waste management provider in your neighborhood to find out if there are any plastics they don’t accept.
  • Household items such as tires, light bulbs, furniture, computers, ink cartridges and toner, batteries and electronic equipment.

Some products are incorrectly thought to be un-recyclable, such as polystyrene foam (EPS), which is used in many of our daily consumer activities such as hot/cold food take-out containers, packing peanuts, molded protective packaging and disposable cutlery. The EPS industry is taking the initiative to set up actionable guidelines and procedures in establishing recycling centers for these products.

Large cities such as San Diego, California, Portland, Oregon and Los Angeles are leading the way by diverting discarded products from landfills and into re-cycled or re-purposed products; the numbers are impressive with up to seventy to eighty percent of their communities’ dry waste products being recycled.

This year, commit to “Don’t Dump, Recycle!” it’s a great way to get family involved with protecting our environment. If you don’t know where a recycling center is near you, check-out this website to help you find one in your vicinity.

DC Embassy “Goes Green” with LEED Gold Status

Achieving the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) council certification for any structure requires a lot of innovation, dedication and patience. It is a symbol of environmental stewardship, and speaks to leadership’s dedication to making the building safer for the employees who work there. The UAE Embassy in Washington, DC has earned LEED Gold Status by thoughtfully achieving these high standards.

There are many steps to achieving LEED Gold Status, which is a painstaking process that requires the accumulation of points, which add up to achieve a ranking of Gold or other levels. UAE ambassador, Yousef Al Otaiba, commended the efforts made by Masdar Abu Dhabis and Dr. Nawal Al-Hosany, the Director of Sustainability.

One of the benchmarks for earning LEED Gold Status is to reduce a structure’s carbon footprint. For the UAE Embassy, this meant retrofitting it with machinery that uses less energy. A white roof was installed to reflect light rather than absorbing it, helping to keep the temperature inside the building steady with less energy. The entire building was painted in a lighter color, and sun shades were installed to reduce the amount of heat absorption.

All of these efforts in turn lead to reduced reliance on electricity to cool or heat the building. In fact, the changes have reduced the structure’s overall electric consumption by 40 percent. This means that some 400 tons of CO2 are saved from entering the atmosphere each year.

Water use is also a part of LEED certification, so the UAE building installed a solar system to heat water. The embassy now uses 41 percent less water than the standards set forth by the 1992 EPAct.

One of the environmental drawbacks to new construction or retrofitting is that a lot of waste is produced, some of it potentially hazardous. The UAE team was able to harvest 75 percent of construction wastes for either recycling or other uses, helping to free up local landfills.

All of this hard work netted the UAE Embassy the LEED Gold status, but also saves on operating costs in the long run due to lower energy needs. Employees also benefit by enjoying a cleaner, safer structure to work in each day.

Currently, the UAE Embassy is the only embassy in the world that has achieved LEED Gold Status. One embassy, the Finnish Embassy in Washington, has achieved LEED Platinum certification. Platinum is the top certification possible, one level above gold.

Polystyrene Recycling IS Worthwhile

Polystyrene foam, commonly mistaken as Styrofoam, a registered trademark of the Dow Chemical company (http://www.dow.com/), is one of the most commonly used plastics available on the market. In its first iterations as a clear, brittle plastic, polystyrene was used for CD cases and plastics utensils. In its present form with air added, the formula becomes light and buoyant. This development made the use of polystyrene foam proliferate into everyday life.

Polystyrene Dart foam is an extremely useful and valuable material that serves a number of purposes due to its highly sought-after characteristics. For example, polystyrene foam can be easily manipulated and it is light in weight. As a result, it serves as a popular packaging material because it cushions without leading to additional shipping costs due to increased weight. The food industries also take advantage of the material’s inert properties such as its resistance to heat to make containers for warm foods and raw bulk items.

While polystyrene foam is not biodegradable it is easily broken down and recycled into new products such as building insulation, picture frames and more. That being said, polystyrene recycling is a worthwhile endeavor for both communities and businesses interested in reducing the amount of waste entering landfills and further preserving the environment. Currently, over 65 cities across the United States are recycling polystyrene foam. Is yours one?

Global Warming Poses a Threat to Emperor Penguins

The biggest threat to emperor penguins may not be leopard seals or even killer whales, but a much larger predator: global warming.

Climate change, which is quickly melting the sea ice this species depends on for survival, could cause dramatic drops in the number of emperor penguins across Antarctica by the end of the century, a new study finds. Specifically, more than two-thirds of Antarctica’s emperor penguin colonies will decline by more than 50 percent by the end of the century under future climate change scenarios.

The researchers, from France, the Netherlands and the United States, are pushing to have this iconic species listed as endangered before its numbers hit critical lows. Doing so, the researchers said, may establish “a new global conservation paradigm for species threatened by future climate change.”

The research, detailed on June 29 in the journal Climate Change, is based in part on a 50-year intensive study — supported by the French Polar Institute (IPEV) and Zone Atelier Antarctique (LTER France) — of an emperor penguin colony in Terre Adélie, East Antarctica. Researchers have been closely monitoring the Terre Adélie population each year, collecting biological measurements of the penguins there and charting the population’s growth and decline.

 

Read the complete article.

Source: mnn.com

The Many Ways to Recycle Styrofoam

Expanded polystyrene, commonly referred to as Styrofoam (trademark of Dow Chemical), is a material that is used to make some of the popular materials for packaging and shipping, including food storage containers. Though manufacturers continue to use this material in large quantities, many consumers are concerned about how its disposal may affect the environment. The issue of pollution and degradation have prompted some companies to develop Styrofoam recycling techniques, including dissolving, crushing, or reusing this material to create new products. There are several options when it comes to choosing a method.

One of the ways to recycle Styrofoam involves melting the material down in a recycling oven. Recycling ovens are designed to handle the demands of Styrofoam recycling and can shrink the material to a fraction of its normal size by getting rid of excess air. This results in a by-product that largely consists of petroleum. Others use organic compounds or chemicals, including citrus oil called limonene, to dissolve the Styrofoam without the use of recycling ovens.

Styrofoam can be recycled by placing it out for pickup or taking it to a local recycling center. Curbside recycling programs are the most convenient method; however, due to contamination rates and transportation coordination, most communities do not have Styrofoam curbside recycling programs.

If curb pickup is not available in your community, look for a mail-back program offered by Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers. This program offers the opportunity to mail Styrofoam to their center for recycling. Because Styrofoam is light, this program is a fairly economical recycling method. Remember to get rid of all debris from the Styrofoam before breaking it into pieces that go into a box for shipping.

Another way to recycle Styrofoam is to donate it to someone else who can re-use, or re-use it yourself. Some grocery stores or shipping retailers, like UPS, accept foam to re-use for their packaging. Some schools might also take leftover Styrofoam.

For businesses that receive a large volume of Styrofoam, it is best to arrange with a recycling company to pick up the material. Company requirements for equipment and storage vary, but storage containers can typically remain outside in a bin where Styrofoam is kept dry, clean and unexposed. It is a good idea to find out how the company accepts the material, whether it should be stacked, condensed, bagged or bailed.

More programs are introduced regularly to make it easier for consumers and businesses to recycle Styrofoam. Many communities have these types of programs, and if there is none in your community, you can consider re-using the Styrofoam in creative ways or use the mail-back programs.

Eco-conscious Living in Asia

Asia has the largest population of any continent. It is also home to some of the most egregious environmental problems. However, that is quickly changing. Many Asian nations have started to become conscious of the need to clean up and protect the environment.

One Asian country which is taking major steps to improve their environment is Singapore. They have created a Green print program designed to encourage eco-friendly, sustainable living in their public housing estates. The program includes the building of underground pipes and a pneumatic system to facilitate refuse collection.

Another program is installing vertical greenery, solar panels and even secure facilities for parking bicycles. They are also installing ‘green’ roofs in 9 low-rise blocks and an energy-efficient Elevator Energy Regeneration System in an 18 block area. This program is designed to encourage residents to increase their recycling efforts, choose greener ways to commute, and decrease consumption. The new green program will increase community farming and install energy-efficient electrical appliances and solar powered home and street lights.

Shanghai’s contribution to Asia’s move towards a greener environment is an innovative one. They are constructing the first eco-friendly skyscraper in the world. Called the Shanghai Tower, the wind-powered skyscraper is the world’s second tallest building. It is an example of China’s new sustainable urban construction. The building has earned 3 stars in China’s Green Building rating system and the LEED Gold Standard. The building’s turbines produce 54,000 kWh a year in renewable energy.

Unique construction techniques created an air pocket which cools the building in summer and insulates it in winter. Recycled local materials were also used in constructing the skyscraper, 1/3 of which will be public green space. Plus the building is designed to achieve carbon neutrality.

The Chinese are also building an environment friendly ‘Great City’ using sustainable development practices designed for high density urban living. The city will house, educate and employ about 80,000 people while using 48% less energy and 56% less water. It will also produce 60% less carbon dioxide and 89% less landfill waste.

Residents will be able to walk to any destination within the city within 15 minutes. Mass transit will take people to the areas surrounding the city. It will also preserve the topography and 15% of land area will be used for green space.