e-waste

12.03.2013 · Posted in Uncategorized

E-waste is another term for electronics nearing the end of their useful life. What most people don’t know is that these electronics can all be reused, refurbished and recycled. Approximately 20-50 million tonnes of e-waste is generated each year, and this is becoming a serious problem. The e-waste contain toxic materials including mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic and beryllium. These toxic materials can cause cancer, reproductive disorders, and endocrine disruption. Additionally, these toxic elements  present risks to communities as well as the global ecosystem. The problem with e-waste is that only a small percentage of it is  recycled. In fact, 11-14%  pf e-waste in the US is actually sent to recyclers, and the remainder is either dumped or burned. 70-80% of the e-waste that reaches the recyclers is exported to countries with developing countries.

To solve the e-waste crisis, there are a couple of steps that people can take. The simplest solution is to rethink your upgrade. Do you really need the newest iphone? or the thinnest laptop? Another step that you can take is to not trash your electronics in a landfill. Instead, there are many organizations in the world that hope to solve the e-waste problem, including one of the most notable, Goodwill. This specific organization reduces the toxins in the e-waste, is reuses the electronics and is recycles e-waste. Although e-waste is a growing concern, there are many things that can be done to prevent the problem from growing.

For more information, you can visit the following websites:

http://www.e-stewards.org/the-e-waste-crisis/

http://www.ocgoodwill.org/business-services/e-waste

http://seattletimes.com/html/personaltechnology/2016611444_part27.html

                                                        

 

 

By Jillian Chrysikos

Food Deserts

12.03.2013 · Posted in Uncategorized

For this project I focused on food deserts. Food Deserts are areas where communities lack access sources to affordable and nutritious foods that are necessary for maintaining a healthy diet. According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service it’s estimated that 23.5 million people live in food deserts and more than one half of those people are low-income (13.5 million). According to the USDA, Census tracts have identified “low income communities” as having a poverty rate of 20% or higher and a median family income of 80% or below. In addition, “low access communities” are qualified as at least 500 persons or at least 33% of the census tracts population live over one mile from a supermarket (10 miles in the case of non-metropolitan census tracts).

Studies have found that wealthy districts have three times as many supermarkets as poor ones do. White neighborhoods contain an average of four times as many supermarkets as predominantly black ones do. Also, the grocery stores in African-American communities are usually smaller with less selection.

Living in a food desert also causes a lot of health issues. Communities that are in food deserts rely on fast food restaurants and convenient stores for food access. They have limited healthy food options and food deserts play a major role in poor health and environmental degradation. The lack of access to healthy options contributes to a poor diet and leads to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related illness such as diabetes (7th leading cause of death in the U.S.), heart disease and Coronary heart disease (1st leading cause of death in U.S.).

Living in a food desert has the negative impact of it being difficult to locate foods that are culturally appropriate for them, and dietary restrictions, such as lactose intolerance, gluten allergies, etc.. It also limits the food choices of those who do not have access to larger chain stores that have more selection.

After learning about this issue for my project, I thought it would be important if I discovered what others could do if they lived in a food desert or wanted to help people out in a nearby community that live in a food desert. This issue can be remedied by growing your own food, working with local retailers, and discussing your concerns to policy makers, city councilmembers, state legislators, ect.

Cities such as Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles have already been working to fix the issue of having food deserts. In specific, in 2008 Los Angeles city voted to enact a moratorium on new fast food outlets in a 32-square-mile zone. This zone consisted of some of South L.A.’s most arid food deserts (area in which 97 percent of the population is either Latino, African-American, or of mixed race). By having less fast food restaurants, there was a greater demand for better food options. This policy brought the first new supermarket to South L.A. in a decade.

Sources:

Oil Spills

11.23.2013 · Posted in Uncategorized

 

Gulf Oil Spill

Offshore oil drilling is a necessary evil for this time and age, as the world is heavily dependent on oil. This four trillion dollar industry provides energy for the majority of America, as well as creating more than 242,000 jobs. Unfortunately, thirty percent of the country’s oil comes from the Gulf of Mexico, which is very damaging to the ocean and the animals that inhabit it, especially in the case of accidents.

Since there are little to no regulations and/or supervision on oil rigs, the companies can do whatever they want. A typical oil rig will dump more than 90,000 metric tons of drilling fluid and toxic metal cuttings into the ocean. The ingestion of these metal cuttings contribute to the increased levels of mercury in fish, especially in the Gulf of Mexico.

Oil spills have happened all throughout the history of offshore drilling, and yet effective cleanup methods are still a mystery. Booms, skimmers, chemical dispersants, and burning the oil are usually the typical methods used to remove the oil from the ocean, though this is typically a lost cause. Thousands of animals are affected by the oil. Birds and sea pups die of hypothermia when coming into contact with the oil. When ingested, animals suffer from ulcers and stomach bleeding.

On April 22, 2010, a BP oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, spewing over 206 million gallons of oil into the ocean. Damaging 4,200 miles of coastline, this oil spill affected marshes, wetlands, and hundreds of ecosystems. Over 600 sea turtles were killed. To disperse the oil, over two million gallons of chemicals were dumped into the ocean. However, the long term side effects of these chemical dispersants are unknown, as there was not enough testing on the dispersants before they were used. Although many organizations are trying to enforce stricter regulations for the oil industry, these catastrophic oil spills will continue to happen unless the world can become less dependent on oil.

– Hayley Bibaud

gulf-oil-spill-killing-wildlife-brown-pelican-wings_21352_600x450

Source: http://bpoilspillcrisisinthegulf.webs.com/bpoilspill.htm

Environmental Justice: Yasuni National Park

11.19.2013 · Posted in Uncategorized

Located in the Ecuadorian Amazon just 155 miles from Ecuador’s capital Quito lies Yasuni National Park. This area of land encompasses 6,100 square miles, approximately the size of Delaware. Yasuni National Park is one of the most biologically diverse locations on Earth and is home to thousands of different species of organisms including (but definitely not limited to!) harpy eagles, jaguars, Ceibo trees, piranhas, and parrots. Many species that call Yasuni home are endemic, meaning that they only exist in this area of the world. With all of this being said, some would think that preserving the Yasuni National Park would be a priority.

Recently, an oil deposit containing 846 million barrels of crude oil was discovered immediately underneath the park which has a potential worth of over $7 billion. In 2007, the Ecuadorian government proposed a compromise known as the ITT initiative in which they would promise to leave the oil alone if the world community would compensate the money they would have earned. In the end, the compromise was not successful and drilling has begun in the park. Organizations such as the Wildlife Conservation Society are actively trying to work with the situation and have been starting conservation efforts of this land. To read more about Yasuni National Park and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s efforts click here!

-Kara Foley
saveyasuni1_bigger

Grizzly Bears

11.11.2013 · Posted in Uncategorized

For this project I wanted to focus on endangered animals. I’ve always been interested in endangered animals and I’ve always wanted to learn more about them. When thinking about which endangered animal I wanted to do, I knew I wanted to do one that I didn’t know much about so I could actually get something out of this project. I choose grizzly bears. It wasn’t hard finding information out there about endangered grizzly bears. The main source I used was NWF.org (National Wildlife Federation.) This website had a lot of information about all types of endangered animals and different environmental issues. Grizzly bears are becoming more and more endangered because of increasing human interaction such as development of buildings/deforestation, illegal shooting and poisoned from Pebble Mine. NFW is doing a lot of things to help grizzly bears. They are expanding habitats for grizzly bears, especially in the Yellow Stone area. They are fighting Pebble Mine and working to change the Clean Water Act in order to keep waters cleaner. They are monitoring populations around North America. And lastly they are fighting general climate change. We as humans need to help grizzly bears and all other endangered animals because it’s our fault they are in danger. We are creating the problems for these animals therefore me must stop them. For more ways you can help click here: http://www.nwf.org/How-to-Help.aspx. NWF gives many easy ways to make a big difference.

Talk to a plant.

10.20.2013 · Posted in Uncategorized

A new social experiment done by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and Carmichael Lynch reveals that plants grow stronger and healthier when spoken to. The experiment used two plants with the same controls growing, except that one plant was spoken to while the other sat in silence during the time period of their development. Instead of a person continuously speaking to the experimental plant, Carmichael Lynch developed a tweet-to-speech technology in which people of  the Twitterverse can send messages to the plant and the technology will read it aloud to the plant.

So far, the results on talktoaplant.com have shown the plant that has been spoken to is taller, greener, and has a larger leaf size than the silent plant. The experiment exhibit is part of the “Mythbusters: The Explosive Exhibition” exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science that will be appearing from Oct. 10, 2013 to Jan. 6, 2014.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/08/talk-to-a-plant_n_4065061.html?utm_hp_ref=green

By:

Celine Hickey

Do reusable bags really help?

10.19.2013 · Posted in Uncategorized

Recently more and more stores have been offering reusable bags to their costumers. They claim to be helping the environment but how much do they really help? Research shows that even though these bags might be made from recycled material some of them need to travel miles to get to the stores they are sold at. This wastes more fuel and more fossil fuels need to be burned. Another problem found with reusable bags is actually using them. I think everyone who has ever used these bags has been guilty of forgetting them at home or in the car. I always thought that reusing plastic bags would make a big difference, but over all reusable bags won’t do much to help the environment.

 

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111672574

BigBelly® Trash Compactors

10.17.2013 · Posted in Uncategorized

These solar-powered trash compactors are new, innovative ways to reduce trash collections, keep public spaces clean and help the economy. Although they are solar-powered, they actually require very little sun to operate, and they work under any weather conditions including rain, snow and shade. Unlike traditional trash cans, these completely close. When it reaches capacity, internal sensors trigger the compactor. It then flattens the trash, making it easier to collect. An electronic wireless system signals when it is full. A typical barrel can hold up to five times the amount of trash a standard trash barrel can hold, which can eliminate 4/5 trash pick-ups. This lowers labor costs, decreases fuel costs and reduces fuel emission. They typically pay for themselves within two to four years. For more information, visit

http://www.wm.com/enterprise/municipalities/community-solutions/solar-powered-trash-compactor.jsp

http://wp.streetwise.co/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/bigbellybreakdown.jpg

 

Jillian Chrysikos

Make Your Halloween More Sustainable!

10.17.2013 · Posted in Uncategorized

With Halloween right around the corner, it seems only appropriate to discuss ways that we can be more environmentally friendly  with our celebrations! Sometimes sustainability seems too hard or expensive but there are definitely ways to celebrate this holiday while considering the impact that you have on our environment. Here are some tips on how to make your Halloween more sustainable (and also more fun!)

  1. Reuse costumes! By trading costumes with friends, visiting your local thrift store, or mixing up old costumes, you can reduce your consumption of consumer goods and also save money!
  2. Purchase organic and fair trade chocolate candy! By doing this, you can spread the word about the importance of these types of treats and also show your support for sustainable candy options.
  3. Turn off the lights! Save energy and set the mood by shutting off your lights and use candles to illuminate your space.
  4. Walk! In many situations, there is no need to drive around to your trick or treating destinations. Save gas and reduce your carbon emissions by walking or riding your bike!
  5. Watch out for litter! Keep your eye out for unwanted candy wrappers cluttering the ground. While you are out, carry an extra bag for any trash that you may come across  during your trick-or-treating adventures.
  6. Save your seeds! Roasted pumpkin seeds are a delicious treat that you can easily make after carving your pumpkins. Yum!
  7. Compost! Once your pumpkin has spoiled, don’t be afraid to throw it in a compost pile so it can decompose into healthy soil for next spring!

For more ideas look here or here!

Kara Foley

Fracking

10.16.2013 · Posted in Uncategorized

Fracking is a major environmental that has various repercussions. Fracking involves the process of extracting natural gas from shale rocks deep within the surface .Fracking fluid is pressure injected into the ground through a pipeline.The mixture then reaches the end of the well where the high pressure causes the shale to crack, creating fissures where natural gas flows into the well.  Fracking allows for natural gas that was unattainable before to be gathered. Fracking causes habitat fragmentation and the setting up of the drilling sites for fracking creates destruction. Also, the fracking and drilling process can actually cause earthquakes which is a major environmental issue. One of the biggest concerns due to fracking is that methane can leak into the atmosphere during the process which increases the amount of green house gases. Methane is worst than CO2 and it’s being released into the atmosphere and the water supply. Methane concentrations are 17x higher in drinking water wells near fracturing sites than in normal wells.  In addition, fracking creates noise pollution that is caused by the drilling rigs and by increased truck traffic. Fun fact: on average, it takes about 1-8 million gallons of water to compete each fracturing job.

-Cassandra Chaves

 

http://www.dangersoffracking.com/

http://www.propublica.org/series/fracking

http://www.what-is-fracking.com/