SF bans water bottles
San Francisco Bay Guardian
San Francisco continues to lead the way in the nation's environmental policy, with the Board of Supervisors on March 4 voting unanimously to bar the city from buying plastic water bottles and to ban distribution of plastic water bottles smaller than 21 ...
San Francisco moves to ban plastic water bottles, scoffs at every other sad cityGrist
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Our recent story about collapsible woven shelters (click here) designed to restore dignity to refugees around the world was so popular, we decided to look around for similar projects. Cue Exo emergency shelters by Reaction Housing, which has partnered with the Maram Foundation to deliver short-term security to Syrians in need.
That the solar-powered collapsible shelters potentially provide some sense of security and ownership to the person who owns them, or the fact that it could make a great tent for festivals, is perhaps what makes Abeer Seikaly’s design so compelling.
But sometimes in emergency situations, aid workers find themselves faced with hundreds or thousands of people who were very suddenly displaced from their homes – either by natural disaster or a sudden eruption of violence.
In this case, volume takes priority over aesthetics, which is why tents have always been the go-to solution for disaster relief organizations. It is very challenging to transport a large volume of decent, insulated structures that not only provide shelter against the elements, but also protection from opportunistic criminals.
According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), two million Syrians have fled from their country, while an additional four million have been displaced inside the country’s borders. That’s six million people who are desperately in need of something more humane than a shredded tarp above their heads.
Michael McDaniel was initially inspired to build the stackable Exo shelters after watching the appalling conditions people faced following Hurricane Katrina in the United States. After eight years of finessing his design, which was inspired by the styrofoam cup, McDaniel has launched an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign to put them to good use.
And he’s starting in Syria. By teaming up with the Maram Foundation, which is helping Syrian refugees in several ways, McDaniel hopes to help bridge a daunting gap in low-cost, secure housing while also gathering the necessary data to improve his design.
Made with aircraft-grade aluminum and insulated for climate control, each Exo shelter provides temporary housing for up to four people. The bunk style beds look far more comfortable than a cold hard floor, and a digitally-coded door provides security. This is particularly important for women and children.
Easily connected to electricity, the shelters are also well-lit thanks to skylights, which is essential to quality of life. And to make it easer for relief workers to keep track of whether the units are on or offline, each is wired for networking capabilities.
Since they are stackable, the shelters can be transported on a trailer, and when longer term housing is secured for refugees, the units can be reused for the next disaster. Obviously, we wish they wouldn’t be necessary at all, but this is definitely one of the better short term solutions we’ve seen in a while.
Check out Reaction Housing’s Indiegogo campaign and consider supporting them so that a few Syrian families might sleep a bit better at night.
Join TriplePundit for a Google Chat with Ford, DTE, and Ecomagination about the future of renewable energy and electric vehicles in the auto industry.
The post Live Chat with Ford Motor Co., DTE Energy Company & GE Ecomagination appeared first on Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit.
Port Orange hospitals, schools bring in bottled water after boil water alert ...
THIS SYSTEM. ALL AHEAD IN THE SEVEN DAY. RIGHT NOW TENS OF THOUSANDS ARE UNDER A BOIL WATER ALERT IN VOLUSIA COUNTY. HOMES, BUSINESSES AND SCHOOLS IN FOUR DIFFERENT COMMUNITIES UNDER THE ORDER.
Boil-water alert remains in effect for Port Orange, surrounding areasWFTV Orlando
82000 in and near Port Orange under boil-water noticeDaytona Beach News-Journal
Boil water notice leaving store shelves dry in Volusia CountyNews 13 Orlando
Orlando Sentinel -MyFoxOrlando.com
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KMBC Kansas City
Mo. lawmakers mull beer-by-the-bottle bill
KMBC Kansas City
Photos. Missouri retailers could start selling beer by the bottle under legislation given initial approval in the state Senate. Related. Police investigate attack on... Man shot, killed by law enforcement... Man charged after 1-year-old girl... Huh ...
Single-bottle beer sales endorsed by Mo. SenateSTLtoday.com
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On March 11, 2011 a magnitude 8.9 earthquake struck northeastern Japan, leading to a massive tsunami which wiped out entire towns and communities along the country’s northeastern coastline. The disaster resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and displaced hundreds of thousands of Japanese citizens. The quake and subsequent tsunami also triggered a catastrophic nuclear disaster at the Fukushima power plant. The effects of the disaster were felt around the world, as far away as Chile and Norway in the immediate aftermath. Currently, on the coasts of Canada and the United States, debris from the disaster continues to wash ashore.
Photo: NBC News
Today, three years later, there is still much to be done in the affected areas of Japan. The recovery process in the hardest hit areas is ongoing, as the repairing of infrastructure, rebuilding of communities and rehabilitating of emotional and physical injuries is slow, though steady.
At Operation USA, we made a commitment to the people of Japan in the days following the earthquake and remain committed to the country today. Following the disaster, we immediately shipped relief supplies and coordinated bulk in-kind donations through our corporate partners, such as clothing items from Gap Brands. Additionally, in partnership with Honeywell Hometown Solutions, Ibasho and local partners, we constructed the Honeywell Ibasho House–a community center serving the Elders of Ofunato and other community members who were impacted by the disaster. “Ibasho,” roughly translated, means “a place where one feels at home.”
Honeywell Ibasho House in Ofunato, Iwate, Japan.
The Honeywell Ibasho House opened in Ofunato on June 18, 2013. Embraced by the community, the Ibasho house provides a gathering place for community members who continue to work on rebuilding their lives and livelihoods in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami. The Elders of Ofunato, as well as multi-generational community members, come to the center to spend time together, participate in activities, and engage in programs.
Women work on gardening at Honeywell Ibasho House
Donations to Operation USA support ongoing recovery programs all over the world. Click here to make a donation now.
Dallas Morning News
AG's Office Poised to Weigh In on Plastic Bag Bans
As proponents continue to tout the benefits of banning plastic bags, the debate over whether Texas cities like Austin actually have the ability to enact such ordinances has made its way to the attorney general's office. In a letter seeking an opinion ...
San Antonio City Leaders To Hear Recommendation On Plastic Bag BanTexas Public Radio
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Research and Markets: The Global Bioplastic Industry is Expected to Witness ... - Business Wire (press release)
Research and Markets: The Global Bioplastic Industry is Expected to Witness ...
Business Wire (press release)
The major forces that are driving bioplastic market are high consumer acceptance, danger posed by climate change, increasing price of fossil materials, and dependence on fossil resources. The wide variety of bioplastic applications under development is ...
and more »
Will Dallas Be Next City to Ban Plastic or Paper Bags?
Communities across the United States have banned plastic and paper bags, the kind that you get at grocery stores and take-out spots. But Dallas hasn't been able to decide, at least not since council member Dwaine Caraway proposed a ban a year ago.
Nevada City needs to ban plastic bagsThe Union of Grass Valley
Bag It Up: Why the Dallas City Council Should Say No to Banning Plastic BagsD Magazine
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“The United States is facing an industrial chemical safety crisis,” Chemical Safety Board Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on March 6th. He spoke at hearing held to discuss President Obama’s August 2013 Executive Order on chemical facility safety, which Obama issued following the catastrophic incidents at the West, Texas fertilizer plant and Louisiana petrochemical facilities. In the wake of the Freedom Industries chemical release in West Virginia, improving the nation’s chemical safety has taken on a new urgency. Yet while the Senate committee is pressing the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help prevent future chemical disasters, federal legislation has been introduced that would, if enacted, impair current chemical safety policy and make it harder for the public to obtain information about chemical hazards, either in industrial storage tanks or consumer products.
Released on February 27th, the draft Chemicals in Commerce Act (CICA) is being offered as the House bill to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the US law that regulates chemicals in commerce. Environmental health advocates and industry representatives agree that TSCA, enacted in 1976 and not updated since, is badly in need of revision. Among other problems, TSCA has allowed some 60,000 chemicals in use when the law was passed to remain on the market without full safety testing. This means that many chemicals, including the one that contaminated Charleston, West Virginia’s water supply (MCHM), are being used without any publicly available comprehensive information about their environmental or human health effects.
In addition to leaving the public with inadequate information about chemicals’ health effects, TSCA also makes it so difficult to ban a chemical’s use that only five have been barred under this law. Chemicals with well-recognized adverse health effects, like formaldehyde and other respiratory irritants, continue to be ingredients in numerous consumer products, including cleaning products, toiletries and cosmetics. Cleaning professionals, salon workers, and others can be exposed to these products for many hours each week.
The Senate introduced the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA) (S. 1009), its TSCA-reform bill, last year. It has bipartisan support but is opposed by many environmental health advocates and state lawmakers because of provisions that would preempt state law, weaken existing health protections and fail to protect communities directly impacted by toxic pollution. The House CICA, sponsored by Representative John Shimkus (R-IL), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, includes more extensive state-law preemption provisions than the Senate bill as well as elements that would make it even harder than it currently is for the EPA to restrict hazardous chemicals.
The state preemption provisions have garnered the spotlight in this debate because more than half of all US states have enacted laws that either restrict the use of individual chemicals or require reporting on how they are used. These state-level actions have come in response to growing scientific evidence of potential adverse health effects of numerous widely used chemicals, and how difficult TSCA makes it for the EPA to restrict chemical use. The CICA would preempt such regulations, prevent states from acting independently and also prevent state and local governments from collecting information about chemicals from companies that make or use them. “The breath and scope of CICA’s preemption provisions are truly stunning and deeply disturbing,” wrote Environmental Defense Fund Senior Scientist Richard Denison.
“This bill would do nothing whatsoever to protect the public from the health impacts of toxic chemicals and would instead roll back the very limited oversight that we currently have,” said Andy Igrejas, Director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a coalition of 450 environmental and health organizations.
“There is a massive disconnect between this bill and where the public and market is going on a global level,” said Kathy Curtis, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York, noting that many major manufacturers and retailers – Walmart, Target and Johnson & Johnson among them – are voluntarily implementing policies to restrict use of chemicals associated with health hazards that the EPA has not yet restricted. The CICA would not interfere with such policies, but it would prevent states from establishing what are effectively legally binding safety nets to ensure that all products be similarly free of hazardous ingredients.
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has welcomed the CICA, calling it “a balanced approach” that “will provide Americans with more confidence in the safety of chemicals.” It’s worth noting, however, that the chemical industry spent more than $61 million on lobbying in 2013 – lobbying that specifically included work on S.1009. Thus far in the 2014 campaign cycle, petrochemical companies and industry associations have donated almost $100,000 to Shimkus’ reelection campaign and nearly twice that much to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Representative Fred Upton (R-MI). Representative Paul Tonko (D-NY) Shimkus’ Democratic counterpart on the House Subcommittee has received less than $25,000 from these industry groups. And if there could be any doubt about the ACC’s support for Shimkus and Upton, there are the ACC-sponsored 2012 campaign ads.
FDA rejects industry proposal for cosmetic ingredient regulation
Industry’s hand in promoting legislation that would undermine existing chemicals regulation is directly apparent in the controversy that became public on March 6th when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its letter to the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) and Independent Cosmetics Manufacturers and Distributors (ICDM) detailing the FDA’s “profound disappointment” in the organizations’ “proposed draft legislation on FDA oversight of cosmetic safety.” The industry-supported proposal would, according to the FDA, prevent FDA from receiving most reports of illnesses or injuries caused by cosmetics products, virtually eliminate FDA’s ability to verify cosmetic companies’ assurances of product safety and authority to require cosmetics companies to register with the FDA and make it very cumbersome for FDA to declare an ingredient unsafe.
This draft was produced in response to an FDA proposal for enhancing agency oversight of cosmetics ingredients that FDA released last year after input from industry and environmental groups. In his letter to the trade associations, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine Michael R. Taylor wrote, that while the draft bill “creates the appearance of a modernized cosmetics regime, but a reality that actually prevents federal and State governments from protecting Americans from unsafe cosmetics.”
The proposed bill’s provisions “not only do not move us forward toward that goal, they would actually reduce FDA’s current ability to take action against dangerous cosmetics. Taken together with the sweeping preemption provisions, which almost completely eliminate States’ authority to protect their citizens from unsafe chemicals in cosmetics,” wrote Taylor, “the provisions of the draft industry bill could put Americans at greater risk from cosmetic-related illness and injury than they are today.”
What the industry is proposing, “demonstrates how far off the trade associations are from where consumer demand is right now,” said Janet Nudelman, Director of Program and Policy at the Breast Cancer Fund, which participated in the FDA-led policy discussions.
The Personal Care Products Council has said in a statement that it believes “the FDA’s response misrepresents the intent of our legislative proposals and we strongly disagree with their allegation that our proposed legislation would weaken their regulatory oversight of cosmetics.”
A long-standing labeling program
And while all of this was going on, ACC President Cal Dooley speaking at an industry-sponsored conference questioned the legality of the EPA’s plans for its Design for Environment (DfE) labeling program, saying it “doesn’t meet Federal Trade Commission guidelines for green labeling.” The program has been around for more than 15 years and works with industry, the environmental community and academia to evaluate environmental and human health concerns associated with chemicals used in manufacturing and products and promote use of safer chemicals. More than 2,500 products – including a great many professional cleaning products – have gone through this process and carry the DfE logo.
The EPA said it “has announced plans to engage stakeholders and the public in the redesign of the current label to ensure that it provides consumers with an easier to identify and understand label that better conveys the scientific rigors and benefits of the DfE Safer Product Labeling Program.”
“What we have concerns about is a public-sector entity that is assessing the safety of chemicals and should they also get into an arena where they are making determinations … that some product is safer for consumers than other products that they’ve already determined are safe for use,” said Dooley as reported by E&E. The program, Dooley said, according to the report, was “unprecedented” in having a federal agency “developing a label that has the potential for significant market implications.” EPA did not respond specifically to the ACC’s questioning of the label’s legality.
There seems to be a pattern here, while state and local governments – and many manufacturers – are responding to growing public is demand for safer chemicals and more information about chemicals used in products – industry trade associations appear to be working to counter that progress. – The House Subcommittee on the Environment and Economy has scheduled a hearing on the Chemicals in Commerce Act for March 12th.
Elizabeth Grossman is the author of Chasing Molecules: Poisonous Products, Human Health, and the Promise of Green Chemistry, High Tech Trash: Digital Devices, Hidden Toxics, and Human Health, and other books. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including Scientific American, Yale e360, Environmental Health Perspectives, Ensia, The Washington Post, Salon and The Nation.
Fashionistas now, for the first time, can see beyond clothing labels with the Fair Trace Tool developed by fair trade fashion company INDIGENOUS. This new tool, in the form of a QR code on hang-tags, offers transparency throughout the garment’s supply chain, including a glimpse of the artisans who actually made it and insight into the product’s social impact.
The post Fair Trace Tool Makes Supply Chain Transparency Fashionable appeared first on Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit.
When urban waste become bioplastics (w/video)
The project team has found that mixtures of bacterial species may enhance efficiencies of conversion. Such bioplastic compounds, might have multiple applications, from the bioplastic used in medical prosthesis, to applications in packaging. The project ...
Microbes – The New Bioplastic FactoriesYouris.com
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California's Recycling Goal is a Jobs Creator
eNews Park Forest
Twenty-nine thousand new jobs would be created from plastic recycling alone, and recycling this plastic can help reduce the amount of the material that ends up in rivers, beaches, and oceans. “Plastic pollution places a huge burden on our ocean and ...
From Waste to Jobs: Growing California's Economy through RecyclingNatural Resources Defense Council (blog)
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For the past year, impact measurement has been the buzzword in the social enterprise industry. No longer do we focus primarily on innovation, but instead we need an innovative solution to make a significant social impact.
The post 3 Questions That Measure Impact and Change the Story of a Social Enterprise appeared first on Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit.
Many are learning that their choice of legal entity can make a big difference for them—in funding, governance and signaling—as they seek to drive positive social change. The two most popular legal forms, each designed with the mission-driven venture in mind, are the “low-profit limited liability company” or “L3C” and the “benefit corporation.”
The post Emerging Legal Forms Allow Social Entrepreneurs to Blend Mission and Profits appeared first on Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit.
Two reports suggest that parts of the U.S. may be in for wetter times. NOAA has announced an El Niño Watch for this year, which could bring short relief to rain-starved California. But thanks to ongoing climate change, that would probably be temporary as the rain moves to colder climates for more extended periods and temperatures warm.