From the Story of Stuff Project: “Most of us wear synthetic fabrics like polyester everyday. Our dress shirts, yoga pants, fleeces, and even underwear are all increasingly made of synthetic materials—plastic, in fact.
But these fabrics have a big hidden problem: when they’re washed, they release trillions of tiny plastic bits—called microfibers—that flow down our drains, through our water treatment plants, and out into our rivers, lakes and oceans. In fact, microplastic microfibers released while washing clothes in washing machines are the biggest source of microplastics in the environment!”
View the newly released film, here.
“The Earth’s climate is changing. Temperatures are rising, snow and rainfall patterns are shifting, and more extreme climate events—like heavy rainstorms and record-high temperatures—are already taking place. Scientists are highly confident that many of these observed changes can be linked to the levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, which have increased because of human activities.” Discover how our climate is changing in this newly released EPA report, Climate Change Indicators in the United States 2016.
Why the Report?
“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publishes this report to communicate information about the science and impacts of climate change, assess trends in environmental quality, and inform decision-making. Climate Change Indicators in the United States, 2016, is the fourth edition of a report first published by EPA in 2010. This report presents 37 indicators to help readers understand changes observed from long-term records related to the causes and effects of climate change, the significance of these changes, and their possible consequences for people, the environment, and society. While the indicators presented in this report do not cover all possible measures of the causes and effects of climate change, as might be found in the full body of scientific literature, they represent a wide-ranging set of indicators that show observed changes in the Earth’s climate system and several climate-relevant impacts.”
The EPA’s 37 indicators each covers a specific climate-related topic, such as U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Some indicators present a single measure or variable; others have multiple measures, reflecting different data sources or different ways to group, characterize, or zoom in on the data. EPA follows an established framework to identify data sets, select indicators, obtain independent expert review, and publish this report.
You can view the report here.
Discounted Energy Efficiency Audits available for Utah Agricultural Operations & Rural Small Businesses
Recently, USDA Rural Development awarded 26 grants to help rural small businesses and agricultural producers across rural America conserve energy and develop renewable energy systems, ultimately reducing their carbon footprint, lowering overhead costs and helping to create jobs. The grants are made possible through the USDA Rural Development Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which helps farms and small businesses right-size their energy systems and helps with the installation costs for renewable energy equipment.
Are you a Utah farmer or a rural small business owner? Would it help your business to reduce your energy costs? The Utah Agricultural and Small Business Energy Efficiency Audit Program is offering discounted energy efficiency audits to help agricultural operations and rural small businesses save energy and money. The program is funded through a grant from USDA Rural Development and implemented by Panoramaland Resource Conservation & Development Council and EnSave, Inc. “We are working to ensure rural communities and citizens have the opportunities to integrate natural resource sustainability, strong local economies, and healthy living conditions into their everyday lives,” says Steve Clark, Chairman of the Panoramaland RC&D Board. “Decreasing energy demands through energy efficiency improvements can, over time, help lower energy costs and increase profits.” Read More
Using data from the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Availability Data System, which estimates much food is produced and how much food people eat from 1970 until 2013, a new webpage demonstrates change in key food items through interactive graphs. The data covers the major food categories, such as meat, fruits, and vegetables, across many food items on a per capita and daily basis.
Margarine saw a steady decline over this time period, while dark greens rose significantly in popularity. Whole milk declined 79% between 1970 and 2013. Another major change is that in the 1970s, chicken was less popular than pork or beef, but now it has surpassed both in popularity.
View the interactive graphs, here.
Have you ever wondered what recycling facilities exist near you, but weren’t sure where to look? The “I Want to be Recycled” initiative makes searching for nearby facilities easy – just enter your Zip code at http://iwanttoberecycled.org.
The website also includes helpful instructions for how to recycle products, ranging from electronics to hazardous household waste. The site even includes how to recycle plastic bags and film.
The site was created by Keep America Beautiful and the Advertising Council.
Keep America Beautiful brings people together to build and sustain vibrant communities. They work with millions of volunteers who take action in their communities to transform public spaces into beautiful places. Through their programs and public-private partnerships, they engage individuals to take greater responsibility for improving their community‘s environment.
The Advertising Council is a private, nonprofit organization that marshals volunteer talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and nonprofit communities to deliver critical messages to the American public. Its mission is to create long-term social change by raising awareness and mobilizing Americans around the most important societal issues of our time.
A new report from the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service provides help for communities wishing to measure the economic benefits of local food investments. Real-world examples and measurement tactics are included as helpful references.
According to the USDA’s Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack “Strong local and regional food systems are helping to revitalize rural and urban communities across the country, and more than 160,000 farmers and ranchers nationwide are tapping into growing consumer demand for locally grown products. With USDA support, this sector is increasing access to healthy foods for local residents and creating opportunity for small businesses that store, process, market and distribute food,” said Vilsack. “Now community leaders have a toolkit that can help measure job creation and other economic development indicators, which will help make the case for continued investments.”
The toolkit includes seven modules to measure and assess the expected economic impacts of local food investments, which can be used by policy makers, community leaders, private business or foundations to offer specific estimates in deciding whether to invest in initiatives that increase local food activity.
Access the guide, here.
Curious about what the University of Utah’s Wallace Stegner Center is? As stated on their website, “From the carbon emissions of our fossil fuel-dependent economy to the fragmentation of ecosystems through development, to the conflict over allocating scarce water resources, modern society has the power to profoundly alter our natural surroundings. Protecting and understanding the environment and how humans interact with it is one of the most crucial issues of the day. The Wallace Stegner Center, named after the Pulitzer Prize- winning author and conservationist, is dedicated to understanding critical environmental challenges and to increasing public understanding and promoting dialogue about how to live more sustainably.
As one of the top-rated environmental law centers in the Western United States, the Stegner Center is home to a talented group of faculty fully committed to shaping environmental policy. Faculty members serve on local and national NGO boards and advisory committees, are consulted by state and federal government officials on a range of policies, and testify before Congress and other policy-making entities.” Discover future events, resources, news and more on their website.
“The Sonoran Institute’s mission is to connect people and communities with the natural resources that nourish and sustain them. We work at the nexus of commerce, community, and conservation to help people in the North American West build the communities they want to live in while preserving the values which brought them here. We envision a West where civil dialogue and collaboration are hallmarks of decision making, where people and wildlife live in harmony, and where clean water, air, and energy are assured.”
Sonoran Institute has a three part focus of abundant natural resources, flourishing landscapes, and vibrant communities. Resources offered on the website include scenario studies, mining reports, resilient communities starter kits, and more. Find out more about the Sonoran Institute, here.
A new great resource has been released by Western SARE, entitled “Habitat plantings and restoration for pollinators and beneficial insects.” As stated in the summary:
Pollinators and beneficial insects are critical for healthy agricultural landscapes and many of the crops grown in the West.The encouragement of native bee populations on-farm is more important than ever due to Colony Collapse Disorder and other pests. Restoring native habitats, identifying plants that provide the best food and habitat, and understanding nesting behaviors are all essential to conserve pollinators and beneficial insects. A restored habitat with healthy populations of native beneficial insects can in turn reduce chemical inputs. Western SARE has played a key role in addressing research needs of our region’s farmers and ranchers by funding high quality research conducted in collaboration with producers. This publication highlights four Western SARE-funded initiatives that provide cutting-edge information for creating on-farm habitat and implementing best practices that support pollinators and beneficial insects.
Read the full field publication, here.
Interested in the most popular green degrees? Or want to learn more about the top paying green careers? Affordable Colleges Online has released a report, highlighting what’s popular when it comes to green. According to the site, the most popular green degrees are: 1. Environmental architecture and environmental design, 2. Environmental engineering, 3. Environmental health sciences, 4. Environmental law, and 5. Environmental science and sustainability. Find out more about these degrees and what people are doing with them, here.