News

Kenya Bans Plastic Bags

From BBC News:

“A ban on plastic carrier bags has come into force in Kenya, which means that anyone found selling, manufacturing or carrying them could face fines of up to $38,000 or prison sentences of up to four years.

The government says the ban will help protect the environment.

But manufacturers of the bags have argued that 80,000 jobs could be lost.

A court on Friday rejected a challenge to the ban. Kenyans are estimated to use 24 million bags a month.

Several other African countries have outlawed plastic carrier bags, including Rwanda, Mauritania and Eritrea.

Kenya’s ban is seen as one of the toughest in the world, although officials say that for now, ordinary shoppers will be warned and have their bags confiscated.

Piles of waste plastic bags are a common site across Kenya, as in many African countries.

Animals often graze on the rubbish and the United Nations’ Environment Programme says huge amounts of polythene bags are pulled out of livestock in Nairobi’s abattoirs – as many as 20 bags per cow – raising fears of plastic contamination in beef.”

Read More, here.

EPA Releases a New Tool for Mapping Environmental Justice

By Matt Tejada, EPA Blog:

EJSCREENToo often, America’s low-income and minority communities bear the brunt of our country’s pollution. These environmental and public health threats make it harder for kids with asthma to learn in school, and for people impacted from pollution to lead active and healthy lives.

There are many ways EPA is working to protect these overburdened communities. For the past two years, we’ve been using a screening and mapping tool called EJSCREENto inform our work, whether its grant writing, policy decisions or enforcement. Today we take an important step forward by sharing EJSCREEN with the public, to broaden its impact, provide greater transparency in how environmental justice is considered, and to foster collaboration with partners. Read More

From Food Scraps to Fuel

Do you consider food scraps to be a resource? if you don’t already compost at your house, you may still be able to keep your food waste out of the landfill and turn it into a useful resource.

If you live in the North Salt Lake region, you may soon be able to contribute your food scraps to the anaerobic digester called Wasatch Resource Recovery which turns food into fertilizer and natural gas.

 

Food waste is considered a renewable resource if it is utilized correctly. When taken to the facility, the food is ground into a liquid where it is then heated and bacteria converts it into a new marketable material: fertilizer for fields and natural gas for power. The natural gas generated from this facility is enough to power a city of 40,000 people.

Food waste is a major problem. According to the EPA, around 30 percent of landfill space is taken up by food. This project aims to reduce the load to the landfill. The majority of this project will be receiving food waste from large producers such as grocery stores and factories. However, anyone can participate.

Link to news story.

Solar Power is Hot!

Careers in the renewable energy sector is on the rise. A report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), stated that in 2016, 9.8 million people were employed in the renewable energy sector.


© IRENA

The report showed the solar power is the fastest growing renewable energy industry with an increase in job creation of 12 % between 2015 and 2016. Wind power followed with a 7 % increase, boosting its global employment numbers to 1.2 billion people.

IRENA has put out a yearly Renewable Energy and Jobs report since 2012, which can be found here. 

The Story of Microfibers – New Short Film Released

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.stuff

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.

New EPA Report Released: Climate Change Indicators in the United States 2016

“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

A farmer and technical service provider discuss an on-farm energy audit. Source: USDA NRCS

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

The Changing American Diet – how what we eat has changed since the 1970s

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.

Find a Recycling Center Near You with “I Want to be Recycled” Initiative

 

RecycledHave 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.

USDA Launches Toolkit guide on the Economics of Local Food Systems

Food systemsA 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.