Tag Archives: waste

Protecting old growth forests & reducing livestock will hugely mitigate climate change

Biodiversity Plan & Aichi TargetsI was just reading a fact sheet on the contributions that Aichi (Japan) Biodiversity Targets can make to land-based climate mitigation. My son Ivan Wei brought it back from COP21 – the Paris climate talks that happened in December 2015. It brought out some quite interesting points:

  • Old growth forests provide better greenhouse gas mitigation than newly planted ones. Meaning, let’s take care of our trees.
  • Organic, eco-friendly agriculture is a great way to sequester carbon and get it out of the air, where it causes climate change.
  • 1/3 of food is being lost to spoilage and waste. By sharply reducing food waste, we will reduce the amount of new cropland that gets planted, which will in turn dramatically mitigate climate change.
  • We need to manage livestock growing much better and probably reduce our meat consumption.

The facts are pulled from the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, a multi-country 10 year framework adopted by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Here’s the full Aichi Targets & Biodiversity Plan Synopsis.

Louisiana Reps vote to ban schools on waste sites

Campaign to ban construction on toxic waste NOLAThe Campaign for Toxic-Free Schools in New Orleans and Louisiana reports that the Louisiana House of Representatives voted unanimously in favor of House Bill 180, which would prohibit the construction of new schools on waste sites. The bill now goes to the Louisiana Senate – let’s all pray that it passes!

An April 2015 Times-Picayune article provides background on this issue.

Free EPA webinars on safe chemical waste disposal

Chemical disposalWe should all be aware by now that many of the chemicals we use are poisonous. Bottle labels from pesticides to paint thinners carry skull-and-crossbones and “dispose of properly” warnings. Repair facilities and manufacturing businesses work with many dangerous chemicals that, obviously, need to be discarded after use.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s job is protecting the environment in which we all live, work, and play. This charge includes regulating the manufacture, handling, and disposal of useful but dangerous chemicals. President Clinton’s executive order in 1994 made environmental justice part of the EPA mission. The EPA Web site explains:

Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA has this goal for all communities and persons across this Nation. It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.

The EPA is holding two webinars this month on reducing the risks of the use of chemicals that are recognized as having a high impact on environmental justice communities.

You must register to attend EPA webinars. Registrants have the option of just listening in but can also ask a question, share information or make a statement.

Environmental Justice Public Consultation on trichloroethylene (TCE) Webinar
Date: 27 May 2015
Time: 1-2pm EDT

Environmental Justice Public Consultation on paint removers NMP and methylene chloride Webinar
Date: 27 May 2015
Time: 1-2pm EDT

Farmers are watering the crops we eat with fracking waste

California farmers are buying fracking waste liquid from the natural gas extraction companies that use high-pressure liquid cocktails – mixed with massive amounts of potable water – to get natural gas out of shale deposits and sell the gas overseas. What are they doing with that radioactive waste? The LA Times reports: watering their crops with it, that’s what.

Oh yeah, the crops we eat. Some farmers are using fracking waste for as much as half of their ‘water’ supply. But this picture of fracking waste looks nothing like water, does it?

Fracking pit

A scientist who sometimes consults for the EPA took fracking liquid samples at 10 sites over an 8 mile canal where it’s channelled to farmers and found,

The samples (Scott) Smith collected contained acetone and methylene chloride, solvents used to degrease equipment or soften thick crude oil, at concentrations higher than he said he had seen at oil spill disaster sites. The water also contained C20 and C34, hydrocarbons found in oil, according to ALS Environmental, the lab that analyzed Smith’s samples.

Methylene chloride and acetone are used as solvents in many industrial settings. Methylene chloride is classified as a potential carcinogen.

The farmers seem to think none of this is a problem, but then again, these are the same people that for years have taking 80% of drought-ridden California’s potable water supply to grow commercial crops. How much can their judgement be trusted?

“But on the plus side,” as Facebooker Ben Ogden points out, “all the veggies will be easier to find in the dark…”

I like one Grist reporter’s comment on the story. Now, I can’t wait until June 15 rolls around and the American public gets to learn exactly what nefarious chemicals are in fracking liquid.

There’s a certain amount of WTF to all this — because we don’t even know what’s in this fracking waste, at least not until June 15. That’s when California’s fracking regulations kick in and force oil companies to disclose the chemicals they are using. I mean, maybe just wait to find that out before using it to water our cherries?

Thanks William Rivers Pitt for making me aware of this disturbing, but important, news.

User friendly food-date labeling system can cut waste

eat or freeze by use by dateTwilight Greenaway writes in Civil Eats about the food waste being caused by a broken US food labeling system that is inconsistent and misunderstood. She examines solutions proposed in The Dating Game, a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic. NRDC has already been “getting the word out about food waste” and “confusing expiration dates” for years now.

No matter how many times we’re reminded that 40 percent of the food we produce in the U.S. goes to waste, it still manages to be a pretty shocking number…

According to Dana Gunders, NRDC’s resident food waste expert, the date labeling system in the U.S. is “not a system at all.” Instead, she says: “It’s like the Wild West. Laws vary across states and, for most labels on a vast majority of products, the manufacturers choose whether to have a date at all, which kind to apply, what they interpret that label to mean, and how to determine when to set that date.”

The result? People are throwing away food on those dates because they believe it’s no longer safe to eat — up to 90 percent of us. And, conversely, we might be eating unsafe food because we’re placing more trust in those dates than we should.

One business’ trash can be somebody’s dinner

Rob Greenfield dives in the name of ending hunger – dumpster dives! 40% of US food goes uneaten so Rob travels around the country collecting food which he brings to parks and puts on display to show how much good food ends up being a waste problem instead of a hunger solution. After the media he invites have the chance to inspect his bounty, Rob gives it away:

“After leaving it out on display for a little while, if people want to take it home and eat it, they can.”

dumpster diver shares his bounty

Rob finds perfectly good fruits, vegetables – both whole and prepackaged/cut up, canned foods, blocks of cheese, pizzas, bags full of bread and bagels. He’s eaten from 3-500 dumpsters and has never gotten sick from the food he’s found in them.

Rob’s goal is to connect the many people who are food insecure – who lack regular access to food – with the stream of food items that are discarded by restaurants and grocery stores even though there is nothing wrong with them .. except for being past a sell by date, which Rob says, “means nothing.” In the future Rob imagines, no good food will ever end up in a dumpster.

According to non-profit Feeding America, “In 2013, 49.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households, including 33.3 million adults and 15.8 million children.”

New York county legislators ban fracking waste

No Second Chance from Grassroots Environmental Ed on Vimeo.

In this video clip, several New York county legislators talk about why they believed it necessary to ban fracking waste from use, storage or transportation across their counties. Since states haven’t shown much willingness to limit fracking or reject its waste, it’s great to see municipalities and county legislators taking action. I have several questions after watching the clip, though:

  • Are the New York county legislators shown in this clip part of a unified coalition?
  • How many New York counties have banned fracking waste? Is there a list somewhere?
  • How do New York county legislators stand on the topic of fracking itself?
  • Is the position of legislator on the Board of Legislators equivalent to a NJ freeholder?
  • Has New York State itself taken a position against fracking waste?

Can anyone help me out?

fracking waste
A fracking (hydraulic fracturing) waste pit

What are these birds dying of? Stomachs full of your garbage.

bird memorial

Midway filmWe do this, friends. Drink bottled goo and throw the packaging away into the environment for it to end up in fish and birds’ stomachs. And then, these gorgeous creatures die agonizing deaths for which we are responsible.

Well, do you know that we have the power to stop this too? We can go back to water, to pure fruit juices. Make our own iced tea and drink it from reusable bottles. Give up on plastics. Embrace recycling when that’s impractical. Be a good world steward …

Your children, your great, great grandchildren … and mine … they will all thank you.

Watch the film trailer

Give away instead of throw away with Freecycle.org

FreecycleFreecycle is a fantastic resource for getting rid of items still in usable condition that you don’t want any more … and for getting free items that could be in great condition – or even new. It’s like a hand-me-down exchange you share with everyone in your community. You can use Freecycle just once or several times a day.

There are only a few rules in the overall Freecycle community, but individual groups may have extra rules of their own. Pay careful attention, as violations can lead to members being censored or even, banned. The most important rule is that everything exchanged on Freecycle must be free.

Use Freecycle to

  1. Post items you want to give away
  2. Ask for items you want or need – anything from a cars to a scarf
  3. Request an item someone else has posted (by sending a reply to the poster)

Get started by:

Visiting the Freecycle.org website. Look for a group in your area and join it. You can view new messages and post them via email, or by visiting your group’s web page.

Good items get snatched up pretty quickly in active groups, so when you’re in receive mode it makes sense to sign up to for email notifications. The volume of posts might be heavy, but you’ll see them quicker. When you’re no longer actively looking to receive items, change your group preference to read new posts on-line instead of via email.

Respond ASAP directly to the poster when you see an item you want. Don’t feel shy about sharing a bit of information about why you want it, but send your reply quickly.

Answer with the information the poster requests

Also, be sure to honor the request of posters when they ask for specific information to be included with replies. The intent of Freecycle is simply to keep good items out of landfills, thereby cutting down on waste. But, posters are free to choose recipients for their items and some want them going to individuals who will make personal use of them.

That’s why some posters set up simple tests to distinguish replies intentionally sent by people from those sent by autoresponders – apps set up by people who request every item posted and sell the most valuable ones they receive. The test question might be your phone number, or it might ask for the sum of 2 numbers: simple information humans will have no trouble providing but autoresponders are not able to process.

Most posters will also want to know when you plan to pick up an item.

Freecycling is a community activity and helps the environment

I’ve been using Freecycle for several years and have given away a TV, two beds, curtains, a wheelbarrow, two Razor scooters, a moped (in need of repair), decorative pillows and many other items. I’ve received an almost-new computer tower, perfumes, clothing, DVDs, a bike, an awesome pair of Van sneakers that an older teen outgrew, a huge toy box we converted into a laundry holder and some other great stuff.

It’s excellent for the environment to gift items instead of throwing them out, and it’s nice to be part of a community of people who believe this is an important activity. I hope you’ll become a Freecycle convert too and if you do, maybe I’ll see you on the Bergen County, NJ Freecycle Group.

Happy Freecycling!

Bergen County Free 2014 Computer/Electronics Recycling, Tire Recycling & Paper Shredding dates

The 2014 Computer/Electronics Recycling, Tire Recycling and Paper Shredding program dates and locations are 9am-2pm rain or shine at:

Bergen Community College, 400 Paramus Road, Paramus
Sunday, April 27, 2014
Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bergen County Campgaw Mountain Reservation, 200 Campgaw Road, Mahwah
Saturday, June 7, 2014
Saturday, October 25, 2014