Thursday, June 9, 2016

A Circular Economy

Per Wikipedia:

The circular economy is a generic term for an industrial economy that is producing no waste and pollution, by design or intention, and in which material flows are of two types, biological nutrients, designed to reenter the biosphere safely, and technical nutrients, which are designed to circulate at high quality in the production system without entering the biosphere as well as being restorative and regenerative by design.


Instead of the linear-type economic system now in use, which is basically "take, make, waste" model, a circular economy has much different principles:

  1. Rather than simply "taking" from our natural resources we can make sure to conserve and regenerate the earth's limited resources.    
  2. Instead of "making" it is possible to reuse or repurpose what we already have produced. 
  3. No more "wasting" what is right in front of us by simply throwing it away and immediately buying a new replacement. The item can be fixed, it's parts refurbished for other uses, or simply given to those without. This reduces waste, pollution, and environmental harm.















https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circular_economy

Energy to power tommorow

The burning of fossil fuels has been the primary staple for energy in America for the past century. These non-renewable sources of energy are damaging to the environment and are prone to depletion in the coming future. Efforts have been made to expand alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, water, and geothermal energy.

1) Solar energy
A decade ago, solar panels were a luxury that most average people didn't ever consider. However, solar panels are now widely available for installation in the average household. Off-grid solar panels are available to generate electricity solely off the sun's rays. The efficiency of solar panels has steadily increased with advances in engineering. It is possible to power an entire household with solar panels on a sunny day! In addition, the cost of installing solar panels has dramatically dropped. This is a great option for living sustainably and saving on your electricity bill!

2) Wind energy
Wind energy utilizes the force of air currents to mechanically turn wind turbines for energy. The source of this energy is ultimately the moon's gravity (which creates wind), so it is completely renewable, as long as we still have the moon. While you may see giant wind turbines spanning large open fields, it is possible to purchase smaller scale versions to power your own home as well. A large selection of wind turbines are available on Amazon for purchase under 500$. Reviews have reported running several electronic appliances at once without a problem with these wind turbines. Unlocking the energy that (literally) passes right by us can lead to lower dependencies on fossil fuels for our energy.

3) Water energy
Similarly to wind energy, the force of flowing water is utilized to spin turbines which generate electricity. Thanks to the water cycle, powered by evaporation from the sun and gravity from the earth, the kinetic energy flow in rivers can be captured. Obviously, dams are not commercially available to the average consumer, but knowing about this source of clean energy is useful.

4) Geothermal energy
Geothermal energy captures the heat energy that arises from the core of the earth. Hydrothermal  vents(heat from water) are a completely clean and sustainable energy source.
To the left is a map of common Geothermal sites around the US. The earth is constantly excreting the immense heat that is found in its core. This process does not remove any resources from the earth, unlike coal mining or fossil fuel pumping. Only the heat and pressure of the water vents are captured and converted into usable forms of energy. The earth will constantly heat and renew more water and steam for us to utilize. Hot springs are an example of geothermal energy. Instead of burning natural gas to heat your bathwater, a naturally occurring bath of water is waiting for you to enjoy! Click below to find a hot spring near you!

http://soakoregon.com/ 


Thank you for reading! Keep an eye out for these energy sources in the future. Who knows, maybe you will find yourself using one of them too! Best of luck!



Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Oregon State and Portland State Among Top 20 Greenest Colleges



The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) has listed Oregon State and Portland State among the top 20 Greenest Colleges in the United States. AASHE takes pride in their scrutinizing methodology in determining the greenest colleges. The Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS) is a voluntary system that allows universities and colleges to report and track their sustainability efforts. STARS is a quantifiable system that takes into account initiatives to reduce on-campus waste, energy consumption, promotion of alternative transportation, funding for green proposals, curriculum, green innovation, public engagement and much more.

Oregon State University ranks 10th among the top 39 Greenest Colleges in the United States with a STARS score of 70.94. OSU, located in Corvallis, Oregon is home to sustainability innovation and research. They take pride in their energy reduction efforts. For example, OSU has 22 exercise machines connected to the power grid, which in turn provides energy to the university's facilities.  Oregon State highest STARS rankings are among Research (17.5/18) and Campus Engagement (20/20) categories.

Oregon State's full STARS report can be found here

Portland State University ranks 20th among the top 39 Greenest Colleges in the United States with a STARS score of 68.67. PSU, located in Portland, Oregon is known for their energy conservation efforts. PSU consistently takes part in successful student and community outreach events like candlelight dinners, blackout board game nights, and smarter laundry workshops. Portland State's highest STAR ranking is in Research (18/18) in part due to the Institute for Sustainable Solutions. This program's focal areas are Urban Sustainability, Ecosystem Services, and Social Determinants of Health. More info about PSU's Institute for Sustainable Solutions can be found here:
http://www.pdx.edu/sustainability/sustainability-research

Portland States's full STARS report can be found here

Find out if your university is ranked among the top 39 Greenest Colleges by clicking the link below.
http://www.bestcolleges.com/features/greenest-universities/

Regenerative Farming and Agriculture

Agriculture is a huge sector of our economy. What can we do to make this big business more regenerative and sustainable? The Rodale Institute created the following Circle of Regenerative Agriculture which can help you (a reader interested in sustainable practices) or you (a farmer) to understand this concept:



You and Your Farm–By farming organically, you are regenerating the soil and returning it to its natural, healthy state. By farming without chemicals, you are also regenerating your health and your family's health.

The Local Environment–The wildlands, wetlands and the environment surrounding your farm are regenerated by your organic practices. Dangerous chemicals no longer wash out of your fields and beneficial birds and wildlife return to help you keep down insect pests.

The Community–the local community and the world beyond are also regenerated by your farm as you recycle natural waste products into your fields, reducing local pollution points. As people eat your organic food, they are being regenerated and made healthier. Your farm is helping to clean up the planet!

Here you can sign up for their newsletter if you want future information on their projects


France has created the “4 per 1000 initiative” An international project whose aim, is to demonstrate that agriculture, and agricultural soils in particular, can play a crucial role where food security and climate change are concerned” http://4p1000.org/understand

The below image demonstrates their initiative:




This is something that can be emulated here in the U.S. and promoted throughout our farming communities. Click the link to join their initiative or forward to those you know who would be interested. There are several action plans that can be implemented in a wide variety of circumstances from training, public policy, supply chain, and local level agricultural management.

HEIFER INTERNATIONAL




HEIFER INTERNATIONAL

It's not a hand out, it's a hand up


Heifer International, has been helping families and communities to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity, with more than just a handout. For 70 years Heifer International has been  bringing sustainable agriculture and commerce to impoverished communities.  This is accomplished by providing families with animals that can provide both food and economic security. The agricultural products that are derived from the animals such as milk, eggs, and honey can either be traded for other goods, or sold in the community- bringing income into the villages which then expands opportunities for building schools, creating cooperatives, forming community savings and funding small businesses.


LISTEN TO ALTON:


To learn more and see how you can contribute please visit:

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Solar Cooking

Solar cooking as a solution to many problems in the developing world.




The use of solar ovens to address cooking needs in developing countries solves many problems beyond giving people a safe and inexpensive way to cook their food.

·      The United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization estimates that 3 billion people lack adequate cooking fuels. (source: http://www.solarovens.org/international.html)
·      Many people spend as much on fuel as they do on the food they actually will cook.
·      People in developing countries can spend upwards of 40 hours a week gathering wood and stripping trees.
·      Cooking fires contribute to both deforestation and pollution, polluting the atmosphere at significant levels, contributing to global warming and the greenhouse effect.
·      Cooking fires contribute to disease as well, diseases of the lungs and eyes, as well as burns.
·      In a cooking hut, family members are exposed to smoke in an amount that is equivalent of 10 or more packs a day.
·      Contaminated drinking water used for cooking causes 1 billion children to suffer from diarrhea and of those 1 billion, 7 thousand die daily.





Monday, June 6, 2016

Let There Be Light!


  






MPowerd, a company based in New York is committed to providing products that are both innovative and ecologically responsible. In 2012, Mpowerd created the "Luci." The Luci is an inflatable, lightweight, and an easy to carry source of light.  The Luci is solar powered, harnessing energy from a limitless source as well as having no limits on the availability of the light itself.

The Luci, being collapsible and easily transportable can be used for all types of situations. From camping and outdoor parties, to improving the quality of life for people in developing countries. Beyond the convenience factor, the Luci light has the potential to impact and empower the 1.5 billion people in the developing world who still live without electricity.  The lack of light as the sun goes down means these people are faced with many disadvantages.  When the sun goes down, students can no long read and study to further their education, women are unable to walk safely to gather wood for fires or water for cooking and drinking.  Community wise, health clinics are unable to stay open after dark.

Until now the solution has been kerosene, which as been proven to be both toxic, dangerous, and expensive as well.

EVERY LUCI LIGHT MEANS THE FOLLOWING:

·      children can study after dark
·      women are at less risk completing their daily tasks after dark
·      entrepreneurs have more hours to be productive, contributing to the local economy
·      less CO2 is released into the atmosphere
·      health clinics are able to stay open later, benefitting the entire village
·      families are able to save money and protect the environment by replacing kerosene lamps with the Luci lamp

Make the World a Brighter Place By Giving
#LightUpLife

3D Ocean Farming

Bren Smith

Bren Smith gives everyone the precious gift of possibility and hope, he is the co-founder and executive producer of Green Wave.  Green wave pioneers the development of a regenerative ocean farming that not only restores food, but ocean biodiversity and ecosystems, mitigates climate change, and creates green jobs.

Bren Smith was a fisherman who dropped out of high school and spent many nights in jail.  He says that he is humbled to be here today and does not deserve to be here yet.  Born and raised in Newfoundland, Canada in a little fishing village he left at the age of 14 to fish.  He headed to the Bering Sea where he fished cod and crab.  They were tearing up entire ecosystems with trawls, chasing fish further and further out to sea to illegal waters.  He personally has thrown tens of thousands of by-catch back into the sea.  He says, "It wasn't just there that we were pillaging, most of my fish was going to McDonald's for their fish sandwiches."  "There I was, still, a kid working one of the most unsustainable food production on the planet, producing some of the most unhealthy food on the planet." In the early 1990s the cod stocks crashed and thousands of fisherman were thrown out of work.  This created a split in the industry, the captains of industry, who wanted to fish the last fish, were only thinking 10 years down the road, but there was a younger generation of us thinking 50 years out.  We wanted to make out living on the ocean.  Bren Smith states, "I want to die on my boat one day-that's how I measure my success. So we all went on a search for sustainability.  Where he ended up on an aquaculture farm in Northern Canada.  Bren struck out two more times working for the equivalent of an Iowa pig farm at sea pumping the water with pesticides and pumping fish full of antibiotics.  The second was a shell-fishing ground that was eventually destroyed by a hurricane. 

The loss of his job made him reevaluate his occupation.  He began to remake himself as a 3D farmer, growing a mix of seaweeds, shellfish for food, fuel, fertilizer, and feed.   He designed a far, that is vertical with hurricane proof anchors on the edges connected by floating horizontal ropes accross the surface.  From these lines kelp and Gracilaria and other kinds of seaweeds grow vertically downward, next to scallops in hanging nets and mussels held in suspension in mesh socks.  Staked below the vertical garden are oysters in cages and then clams buried in the sea floor.  Although there is not much to see from the oceans surface that's, "good," says Bren "we want ocean agriculture to tread lightly." 

The 3D farms are designed to address three major challenges.  The first to bring the the table a delicious new seafood plate, to transform fishermen into restorative ocean farmers, and third to build the foundation for new blue green economy that does not recreate the injustices of the old industrial economy.

Recycling throughout the world

Recycling can play a huge role in a regenerative economy. The figure above shows the countries that trend the highest on Google for the term “Recycling – Industry”. The results of the search were interesting, as I assumed that wealthy industrialized nations would be the front runners on the list. Further research into the recycling industry revealed that a prevalent “garbage picker” industry exists in many South American countries. Workers are compelled to collect garbage from dumps due to high rates of unemployment. While it may not be their intention, these people are making an important difference their cities, and their environment.


 The idea of creating employment through recycling can be emulated by any society in the world. Improvements to the environment, economy, and society can be made by industrializing recycling. Often, many workers lack civil rights protections and work under horrid conditions due to their circumstances. Legitimizing the garbage to recycling industry could help alleviate the maltreatment of workers around the world.


In 2012, the recycling rate of the US was only 34.5%.It is estimated that a recycling rate of 75% would create over 1 million jobs by the year 2030.  Societies that push to expand recycling should see improvements in sanitation, employment, environmental health, and production. The expansion of the recycling industry directly aligns with the principles of regenerative economics. Doing so would be a huge step towards creating a more sustainable and responsible society.

Not everyone can be a recycling worker. However, you can make a difference too!
Click on the image below to participate in recycling yourself!




Saturday, June 4, 2016

Make the Switch to Solar Energy



There are many different ways to switch to solar energy. In this post we will talk about solar panels for your house or your business. 

1. It’s good for the environment
            Using the sun’s energy means less fuel used

2. It’s a good investment
            In the long run you will be saving money on your electric bill

3. It’s durable
            No moving parts, less chance for error or problems

4. Make some money
            Some states will pay you to make the switch

5. Solar power works all day
            The panels store that energy during the day to be used throughout the day



Thursday, June 2, 2016

ZERO waste is POSSIBLE!

zero waste grocery experienceZERO WASTE IS POSSIBLE
I think we all can agree that there is a huge amount of food packaging being taken out to our dumpster each week.  I know that I personally have never really thought that there is a way around food packaging since almost everything comes in some sort of packaging.  Well, I am not alone one third of the materials in landfills consist of disposable food packaging.  It is concerning to imagine that 40% of food is wasted from farm to fork and so much of this packaging might even be for food that was not even consumed.  Is it possible to go from 40% waste to zero?

A couple of zero waste grocery stores have taken on the challenge of food packaging waste and are acting as pioneers in reducing waste in the grocery industry.  The stores have no wrappers or bags and all food is purchased with reusable containers.

in.gredients is one of the stores that is leading change in no waste, it is located in Cherrywood of East Austin, Texas..  It offers everything from personal care products to local produce and prepared foods.  They even have bug spray in bulk.  They not only offer this for the customers but work with local vendors to encourage them to utilize reusable and returnable packing as well.  

The idea with these stores is that people will bring their own reusable containers yet they sell them in store as well.  They charge a low modest price for the ones in store to encourage people from using as many containers as the stores that offer them for free.  

How do you think this store will do?  Is it going to be popular?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Clothing and Sustainability

            When discussing factors related to sustainability we often single out the most apparent contributors: fuel burning cars, industrial pollution, and simple material waste.  While it is true that each of these factors are seriously important and demand the attention they’re getting, have you ever stopped to think that something as simple as your t-shirt could also be a key cog in the process?  This is an idea discussed by Yael Aflalo as he reconciles with the vast amount of damage done by the fashion industry.  As a designer himself, Yael first came face to face with his own involvement in sustainability early on in his career during a visit to China.  It was here that he saw the manifestations of pollution and the terrible effects they were having.  He decided to make a change and reapply his fashion footprint in a more conscious manner, adopting manufacturing processes that helped sustainability instead of hurting it.  Now, I’m not advocating for a full scale retooling of one’s life to completely fit a mold of sustainable practices.  Like Yael Aflalo, I’m simply advocating for awareness.  We must be aware of how ubiquitous the issues of sustainability are in order to start making strides to fix them.  Although sustainable fashion is largely conducted on a small scale, there are still numerous brands out there that dedicate their lives to making sure their products are of a high quality for both the consumer and the Earth.

For the original article please visit the link provided:

Free Environmental Assistance Programs

EarthWISE Business Assistance Program

Marion County, Oregon is home to the EarthWISE Business Assistance Program, which specializes in providing free environmental assistance. Their primary focus is to create an initiative for more sustainable enterprise in Marion County. They help with everything from answering environmental emails to conducting site environmental assessments. EarthWISE offers a sustainability certification with a dauntingly strict criteria.

EarthWISE does more than just offer the most highly coveted certification in Marion County, they actually help businesses obtain it. After an assessment is done, and the recommendations are made, they will help provide the necessary resources to facilitate change. Their website is also a great tool for seeking out sustainability information. It has everything from frequently asked questions to EarthWise case studies that give you an in-depth look at how other businesses have obtained the certification.

There are a lot of great sustainability programs and certificates out there, but EarthWISE is one of the best FREE resources and certifications that I have come across. Don't have a business in Marion County? No worries, there are lot of national "Green" certifications and resources that you can obtain online. If you have any questions about sustainability, give EarthWISE an email or a call regardless where your business is. This organization can do wonders for your business.

EarthWISE Business Assistance Program

For more information about national sustainability programs visit: Green Business Network