Assuming there’s little change to our carbon emissions, “heatwave deaths in New York city could rise by as much as 91% on 1980s levels by the 2080s.”
Plastics like styrofoam currently take up between 25%-30% of our landfill space, and a single cubic foot of styrofoam has the same energy content as about one and a half liters of gasoline.
College pals Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre established Ecovative, which grows cost-effective alternatives to plastic insulation and packaging. While they were students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Bayer and McIntyre experimented with mycelium, the network of vegetative filaments in mushrooms, and realized that it could be used to form incredibly strong bonds. Essentially, the substance functions like a glue that you can grow and use to form agricultural byproducts like plant stalks and seed husks into natural alternatives to styrofoam packaging and insulation.
Top: Saudi Arabia in 1988
Bottom: Saudi Arabia in 2012.
Stunning time-lapse satellite photos show humanity’s effect on Earth.
It’s no secret that the world’s ocean trash problem is getting bad; looking at a handful of images from the Texas-sized Pacific garbage patch should be enough to convince anyone. As for all of our litter that doesn’t end up in the middle of the ocean? It often stays close to shore, where volunteers for Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup pick some of it up, cataloging all the items they find.
A house powered by exercise?
The JF-Kit House by the Spanish design firm Elii is an experiment in “domestic fitness,” rendering “the image of a possible future where citizens produce part of their domestic energy requirements with their own physical activities.” Each room features a fancifully named exercise station that would, theoretically, help create energy to power the home, including an “arm workout bureau,” a “spinning kitchen,” and a “triceps greenhouse.” A video shows the home’s imagined inhabitant lifting weights, cycling, and doing calisthenics as part of his house’s everyday upkeep and daily chores like cooking.
"One of the easiest ways to go green is to go small," Hill says. "I want to show people that there’s an amazing modern green future, and make it easy for them to step into it."
Hill transforms his couch into a bed, makes a desk appear from the wall, and then moves that entire wall to reveal a guest bedroom. Just as quickly, he disappears the guest room, pops a Murphy bed back into place, and reveals a dining room table with seating for 10. Even Hill’s bathroom is multifunctional: He soundproofed the toilet stall and added a handsome wooden bench that folds over the seat, which turns it either into a private phone booth or, no joke, a very tiny meditation studio. That’s why he and nine others who are trying to change how we live made our list of The 100 Most Creative People of 2013.
As we noted in a recent post, consumers care about buying items from socially responsible brands more than they ever have before. But caring about something doesn’t always translate into action.
There are a lot of roads just sitting there in the sun, doing nothing with all that energy. Why not use them to collect it? Introducing the Solar Roadway, a road built out of solar panels.
The road is made of three parts: a hard-wearing translucent top-layer with the solar cells, LED lights (for road markings) and a heating element (to keep off snow and ice); an electronics layer to control lighting and communications; and a base plate layer that distributes power to nearby homes and businesses (and perhaps electric vehicle charging stations). Plus, there’s a channel at the edge to collect and filter run-off water (including anti-freeze and other chemicals that normally leeches into the ground).
If you eat processed food and you’re not a vegan, a decent portion of your diet probably comes from factory-farmed eggs. Sure, you may stick to cage-free eggs when you’re cooking omelets, but 95% of eggs in the U.S. come from battery-caged facilities where birds are packed body to body in impossibly small spaces.
A San Francisco startup wants to change that. It makes a plant-based egg substitute so believable that it’s about to sign two deals with Fortune 500 food companies that want to use the stuff in sauces and dressings.
We recently created a daily news website about world changing ideas and innovations. It’s a place focused on ideas that are going to change the way we live and the resources we use. And it’s time to buck convention and find solutions that people haven’t thought of yet.
With this in mind, we’d like YOU to submit your ideas for what we’ll be reading about decades from now. What do you think Co.Exist will write about in 30 years? Create your own vision of tomorrow right here (or click on the picture). We’ll round up the best ones and feature them on our site!
We’ve uploaded a few on Facebook to get the creative juices flowing. We’re excited to see what you come up with. Spread the word!
It’s surprising that more people aren’t talking about this. We’ve reported on the Starbucks Cup Dilemma in the past, and it’s clear that corporate sustainability has serious limits. Even in this showdown between Starbucks and McDonald’s Starbucks barely edged out MickeyD’s when it came to measuring impact on our Earth. Entering the juice-bar market may seem like it makes good business sense, but is it a smart solution for our planet?
Wake Up Call of the Day: According to Starbucks’ sustainability director Jim Hanna, the coffeehouse chain may soon be unable to sell its principal product due to the detrimental impact of climate change on coffee bean production.
“What we are really seeing as a company as we look 10, 20, 30 years down the road – if conditions continue as they are – is a potentially significant risk to our supply chain, which is the Arabica coffee bean,” Hanna told the Guardian in a phone interview.
Hanna is set to speak before members of Congress today on the issue of climate change and how it’s real and how someone should do something about it before we run out of coffee and chocolate and a whole bunch of other foodstuffs “many people can’t live without.”
Starbucks has already put Plan B in motion, announcing yesterday it plans to enter the juice-bar market — news that freaked out Jamba Juice stockholders, causing the price of JMBA to drop 3.5%.
Today’s congressional event is sponsored by the Union of Concerned Scientists, which recently reported that coffee brands have increased the cost of grinds by as much as 25% over the last year.
“The dwindling supply of coffee is but one example of the many impacts to come due to climate change,” the nonprofit writes, ” and should be a wake-up call for us all.”
A new plant in Akron, Ohio plans to divert old bottles from landfills and churn out 80,000 barrels of oil a year. Read more.
Take a stroll through the aisles in a supermarket this week. In the time it takes you to count to hundred you’ll likely be bombarded with as many brands claiming eco-friendliness.
Companies are piling on the new trend, selling everything from eco friendly baby powder to shaving cream to batteries. And consumers are noticing these brands among the 300,000 new products hitting the shelves worldwide every year. But behind the flashy labels and TV commercials guaranteed to show windmills, solar panels, and endless green fields lies a rotten truth.
TerraChoice, a market research company revealed the results of a study of 1,018 products randomly tested to see if they lived up to their eco-friendly claims. The results were startling. Of all the products surveyed, all but one failed to support their green boasts. The offenses ranged from products that advertised themselves as nontoxic but, frighteningly, just replaced old toxins with new ones that were still banned years ago to, more commonly, products that claimed so-called green status that could never be substantiated.
But the list of lies and techniques aimed at seducing the consumer seemed never-ending. There were hidden trade-offs—one aspect of the product was promoted as environmentally friendly while the negative ingredients’ impacts were obscured. There were irrelevant claims—ones that were technically but unimportant for the planet. There were lesser-of-two-evils claims that were narrowly true but ignored larger environmental problems—the supermarket equivalents to “green SUVs.”
All of these falsehoods and obfuscations take a toll on consumers—and it can be seen in Japan, home to vibrant innovation, where residents’ trust was put to the ultimate test during a food scare in late 2007/early 2008. Japanese people tend to trust a lot (perhaps explaining why there was no widespread looting in the days after the recent earthquake). It is one of those societies where you still can leave your umbrella unlocked in the entrance to the supermarket—and it will actually be there when you return. But the tradition of trust was put to the ultimate test when dumplings, a classic Chinese dish produced in China, packed, frozen and imported to Japan, suddenly caused the death of seven Japanese and sickened thousands of others. It was the first time in Japan’s history anyone had faced such widespread or fatal food poisoning. It created shock waves throughout the country. The sales of dumplings dropped to zero, and the effect trickled into almost every other category of frozen food. Consumers were in despair, unsure of what to trust.
And then something unusual happened.
I noticed this when taking a stroll through a Japanese supermarket. As I passed by shelf after shelf, cartoon drawings of people—like the ones you might see in the Wall Street Journal, appeared on brands. The sugar had one, the fresh salad, the fish—even the dumplings. Next to the head was a name of a person, his title, age, and home address. The title stated: “I’m responsible for this product.” Was it a joke—had Japan once again come up with another cartoon craze, or was this the next big marketing trick? Anywhere else in the world, maybe. Anywhere else, there would at least be a small disclaimer on the back of the product explaining the ruse. Here was a QR code next to every face. It took me to a site where the actual person I’d seen as a cartoon appeared as a real person—in video. He explained how he handpicked the particular product I was holding in my hand. I saw the production line, the transportation, and just in case I still suspected something dodgy about him, I could click on a link to learn more about him and his family.
Continue reading The New Faces of Greenwashing (And Their Mothers)