Transforming Ocean Water into Drinking Water

Day 315 – About 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is water-covered, and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth’s water. The remaining water is found in water vapor, in rivers and lakes, in icecaps and glaciers. When you consider how much water is drinkable you are down to 1 percent. That is not much water for over 7.9 billion people.

So, why can’t we drink ocean water?

Seawater contains salt. When humans drink seawater, their cells are thus taking in water and salt. While humans can safely ingest small amounts of salt, the salt content in seawater is much higher than what can be processed by the human body. Human kidneys can only make urine that is less salty than salt water. Therefore, to get rid of all the excess salt taken in by drinking seawater, you have to urinate more water than you drank. Eventually, you die of dehydration even as you become thirstier.” – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Thankfully, there are NGOs (non-governmental organizations) like GivePower that are trying to address the issue of unsafe drinking water.

Their most recent success story is related to Kenya and the village named Kiunga, where they managed to install a solar-powered desalination system. This system transforms ocean water into drinkable water and can produce enough water for 35 000 people per day (around 70 thousand liters). Before Give Power, the inhabitants of Kiunga had to travel one hour each day to reach a water source, but it was one used also by animals and full of parasites. Such improvements, like Give Power’s initiative, are constantly needed as according to the World Health Organization, there are still 2.2 billion people around the world who do not have access to drinking water and 4.2 billion can’t access safely managed sanitation services.” – Goods Home Design

To see the amazing work that GivePower is doing, click HERE.

Tomorrow, the importance of old growth forests.

FLOR: A new kind of carpet

Day 311 – We have all had to dispose of an old area rug or carpet that needed updating. However, what if there was a way to cover our floors without the worry of what we’ll do with that flooring once it has served it purpose. FLOR has come up with a genius plan to keep carpets out of the landfill.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Choose a pattern you love and decide how large of an area you need to cover.
  2. Your carpet or area rug will arrive in squares (tiles) that are easily to install.
  3. The carpet tiles are easy to move around and create new styles.
  4. They are also easy to clean if you happen to have a spill.
  5. The carpet tiles are made from recycled nylon.
  6. One you are ready to replace your carpet, you can send your tiles back to get recycled for free.
  7. Those recycled materials will be used to make new carpet tiles.

Flor has recycled over 64,000 tiles and 100% of electricity used in manufacturing comes from renewable resources.

“Like the yarns used in our rugs, our journey to sustainability is woven into who we are. Between responsibly sourced materials, manufacturing powered by renewable energy, and carbon-negative rug backing technology, FLOR’s environmentally friendly rugs look beautiful in your home while being safe for the earth.” – FLOR

Companies like FLOR are getting us one step closer to a circular economy. Taking responsibility for what they manufacture, instead of leaving it up to the consumer is a huge reasons to support FLOR. You will never have to thrown out another area rug again.

Tomorrow, options to recycle your thermostat.

Madagascar Needs Our Help

Day 308 – I am a big fan of World New Tonight with David Muir. I tune in everyday to watch. If I’m busy the DVR is ready to record the episode for later viewing. My family doesn’t quite understand why I watch. They believe it’s all bad news. Sadly, they are right. There is not too much good news being shared. Thankfully, the last segment is always a feel good story. Getting through all the negative news to hear the good news is well worth it.

At the beginning of the week David Muir shared a story about Madagascar. Unfortunately, this was not the last story of the show. It was not the feel good story, but just the opposite. The current conditions being experienced on the island of Madagascar are extremely dangerous and it is threatening the people, the wildlife and the land.

Southern Madagascar is experiencing its worst drought in 40 years, making the land here too arid to farm and leading to crop failure. For the past four years, the severe lack of rain has led to depleted food sources and dried-up rivers. Climate change has also led to sandstorms affecting these lands, covering formerly arable land and rendering it infertile. The situation has led to widespread malnutrition affecting more than 1 million people, and pockets of what the United Nations classifies “catastrophic” food insecurity signaling deepening hunger.” – World News Tonight

So, why should we care about Madagascar?

Madagascar is one of the world’s highest priority countries for biodiversity conservation due to its exceptional species richness, high number of unique plant and animal species; and the magnitude of threats facing these ecologically, culturally, and economically valuable resources. There are more unique species of plants and animals living in Madagascar than on the entire African continent and more than eighty percent of its species can be found nowhere else on Earth. Because of this exceptional uniqueness of species, the loss of one hectare of forest in this country can have a larger effect on global biodiversity than forest loss anywhere else on Earth, making Madagascar arguably the highest biodiversity priority on the planet.” – USAID

Madagascar has produced 0.01 percent of the world’s annual carbon emissions in the last eight decades, but it is suffering some of the worst effects. The people of Madagascar are suffering due to the carelessness of so many other countries. If their story doesn’t convince the world that we need to start reversing the effects of climate change now, then we are destined to experience the same conditions.

Click here to help families in Madagascar.

Your donation will go a long way.

  • $7 provides a month of school meals for a child in need
  • $15 provides a month’s worth of lifesaving nutrition to small-scale farmers
  • $25 provides 50 mothers with nutritious meals$50 provides a child with a year of school meals
  • $75 feeds a family of 5 for one month, providing staples like rice, vegetable oil, sugar, salt, flour, beans, and lentils
  • $1,000 can feed a family of 5 for one year.

Tomorrow, a farm in a major league baseball park.

Climate Summit 2021

Day 306 – This isn’t the first climate summit and it won’t be the last. However, it has become very clear that real change needs to happen and it needs to happen now. Climate change is no longer something we are trying to prevent, it is here and it is wreaking havoc across the world. Deadly droughts, wildfires, and major flooding are just a few of the extreme weather events that we can blame on climate change. The hope is that the COP26 will address the climate issue and create solid solutions. The time for talk has past. Action is needed now.

The climate meetings have been taking place since 1992. Countries signed a treaty promising to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and prevent dangerous changes to the climate. This Conference of Parties has been gathering almost every year. This year is the 26th meeting. As a result you have the COP26.

The Climate Summit started on October 31st in Glasgow, Scotland. It will last for two weeks. Diplomats from almost 200 countries are present, along with celebrities, industry groups, climate activists, academic researchers and protesters. They all have their own priorities, but the hope is they can at least agree that the planet is in crisis and desperately needs our help.

So, what is COP26 supposed to accomplish?

There’s one main goal: get closer to fulfilling promises that nations made six years ago at COP21 in Paris. Under the Paris Agreement, countries pledged to collectively cut their greenhouse emissions enough to keep the planet from heating up more than 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), compared with pre-industrial times. Wealthy countries also promised large amounts of aid to poorer nations to help them cope with climate change and to reduce their own greenhouse emissions.” – NPR

Sadly, these meetings have not accomplished much over its 26 year history. The overall temperature of the planet has increased more in the last 25 years than it has in the last 150 years. We can only hope that our leaders choose to work together for the betterment of this planet.

The climate crisis can’t be solved in two weeks, but hopefully the summit will end with a solid plan to save the planet.

Tomorrow, forward-thinking recycling programs.

Tires Made from Dandelions

Day 305 – Tires are made up of a naturally white rubber in which carbon black (pigment) is added to increase the strength and durability of the rubber. It also resists hot spots on the tires. Each year, automobiles produce 246 million waste tires in the United States alone.

So where do old tires go?

  • 26% Ground into filler for asphalt and insulation.
  • 11% Dumped into landfills, where a tire takes hundreds of years to decompose.
  • 7% Blended into road beds, barriers, retaining walls, and other civil- engineering uses.
  • 7% Recycled into things like playground surfaces and tire swings.
  • 49% Burned for fuel. Tire rubber has more energy (Btu) than coal but, like any solid fuel, tires burn dirty, requiring energy to clean the particulates.

Thankfully, there are companies creating tires using sustainable materials. Michelin has spent more than $800 million a year researching sustainability so it can make tires out of root vegetables. Continental Constructing Tires are made from dandelions.

Here are some interesting facts about the dandelion tires.

  1. Not just any dandelion – Continental has tapped the Russian dandelion as the dandelion of choice. This plant is a larger, more robust variant and can be produced in mass quantities. The roots of the Russian dandelion are less sensitive to weather than the dandelions in your yard and the roots are roughly the size of a large carrot.
  2. Where in the world – Russian dandelions thrive in a large part of the world and can be cultivated on land not suitable for food production. Conversely, rubber trees require a hot, damp climate and grow only in a small part of the world known as, the “Rubber Belt,” an equatorial zone that stretches around the world.
  3. Growth cycle – The growth cycle of a rubber tree is seven years whereas the growth cycle of a Russian dandelion is one year.
  4. Testing complete – The first test tires were produced in summer 2014 from the WinterContact TS 850 P series and were tested in Sweden and at the Contidrom proving grounds in Germany with great success.
  5. When will we see them – Continental plans to manufacture consumer road tires made from dandelion-derived rubber within the next five to 10 years.

Innovative ideas like these are going to help save the planet!

Tomorrow, a look at the Climate Summit.

Reducing Methane Emissions

Day 303 – I have written about greenhouse gases in past posts and discussed their connection to global warming. More times than not we tend to focus on the carbon emissions that contribute to greenhouse gases. However, methane gases is 25 more times more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the atmosphere.

Typically, methane remains in the atmosphere for about nine years. This is far less time than carbon emissions, which remain in the atmosphere for 300 to 1,000 years. Yet, methane is far more efficient at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.” – Earth911

Earth911 gives tips on how we can all reduce our methane emissions.

  1. Agriculture – Reduction strategies include preventing the burning of fields after harvests, adjusting feed for livestock so that they release less methane, and regularly draining rice paddies.
  2. Energy – Improving the detection and repair of methane leaks at oil and gas facilities and flooding abandoned coal mines that leak the gas. Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and switching over to renewable energy can help reduce methane emissions. 
  3. Waste – Mitigation strategies include reducing waste that ends up in landfills, such as by recycling and composting; capturing methane gas; and burning methane gas, which is known as flaring. Composting as much of our organic waste from the yard and kitchen as possible helps reduce our methane emissions.

Something we can all do, is support Certified B Corporations. These companies meet rigorous environmental and social criteria and are leaders in the sustainable business field.

Tomorrow, where you can get your Halloween pumpkin composted and keep it out of the landfill.

What is downcycling?

Day 301 – So, when an aluminum can is recycled it can be turned into another aluminum can. The same can be said about a glass jar. However, when it comes to many other products, they are usually turned into something with less value and quality. For example plastic can be recycled into fleece or polyester.

We have all heard about plastic milk jugs being turned into park benches. As much as a park bench is a nice thing to have, we need to do better in creating a circular economy. We can’t continue making more park benches, because we can not curb our need for virgin plastics.

Downcycling is mainly a problem due to misinterpretation of the public. Many people assume that plastic, like glass or paper, can be recycled over and over again forever without losing any quality. The truth is that plastic is continually downcycled until it is rendered completely useless for recycling. After that, in most cases, it winds up in a landfill, where it slowly breaks down into microplastics and emits methane.” – GreenMatters

It’s important that we realize that many items, especially those with plastic are not 100% recyclable. Far too often we interpret the term “recycle” as “completely recyclable”. However, that is not the case and we need to start rethinking the materials we purchase.

Now the opposite to downcycling is upcycling. This is the process of giving something more value and quality then it originally had. A great place to see examples of upcycled items is the Facebook group “Upcylceit” Here you will see amazing transformations of items that were on their way to the landfill. However, some have taken the time to make these items even better than before. Check it out and get inspired!

Tomorrow, time to celebrate our feline friends.

EcoSports: Eco-friendly sporting equipment

Day 300 – In my search for environmentally friendly companies and the products they create, I found EcoSports. EcoSports offers basketballs, volleyballs, soccer balls and footballs that are biodegradable, recyclable and vegan.

  1. Eco Sports uses a material called TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane). Products made from TPU can be recycled into primary chemical components which can then be used to create additional raw materials, including more TPU. In addition, products made with TPU are biodegradable and can be fully broken down in approximately three to five years. Another key advantage is that TPU is non-toxic, and when it biodegrades, it does not contribute to pH changes in soils or groundwater during the biodegrading process. 
  2. Eco Sports also only uses recyclable packaging for their products removing plastic wrapping from traditional packaging.
  3. Eco Sports is giving back by donating 10% of the profits immediately to plant trees across the nation on the consumers behalf. 

Tens of millions of sports balls are purchased every year and there is no other place other than the landfill when they reach end of life. EcoSports has created a product that can help stop that from happening.

Tomorrow, there’s a reason it’s called downcycling.

A Guide to Sustainable Living

Day 299 – The definition of sustainability is the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. So, why would you want to live a sustainable life?

The Plastic Collectors have given some great tips on how to live a sustainable life.

  1. Get Educated –  Understand how your habits and behaviors feed into this problem. Consider how the elected officials are responsible for environmental protection
  2. Limit Waste – Start off your sustainable lifestyle journey by cutting down on biodegradable waste, by composting. Replace plastic, straws, cutlery, water bottles with reusable alternatives like stainless steel, cotton, bamboo, and eco-friendly materials. Support companies that keep their packaging minimum and make sure you take steps to reduce the amount of packaging wastage.
  3. Limit Atmospheric Emissions – Airplanes are the major source of emissions in the atmosphere. Limit your flights and instead travel by sea (land). Shop locally and eat foods that are grown nearby rather than being shipped from abroad, which also contributes to carbon emissions. Use public transport and cycles to control emissions in the environment.
  4. Conserve Water and Energy –  Replace the faucets and shower heads with low-flow models. Turn off the tap when not in use. Use newer models that are efficient at water and energy conserving. Save energy by turning off the lights and powers when not in use. Use air-conditioning and heating judiciously. Unplug appliances that are an unnecessary wastage of energy.
  5. Avoid Toxic Chemicals – Some major toxic offenders include formaldehyde, oxybenzone, triclosan, sodium lauryl sulphate, parabens, and more. Don’t forget to check the list of ingredients that are being used in the product. Switch to eco-friendly brands. Though they might be a bit pricey, they are worth each penny.
  6. Advocate for Change – Create a better community that understands the depth of the issue and together, make the world a better and healthier place to thrive. Remember the change starts with you.

Every step towards a sustainable lifestyle is one step closer to saving the planet.

Tomorrow, eco-friendly sports equipment.

Eco-Friendly Halloween Crafts

Day 298 – I have never been a big fun of crafts. Even when my kids were younger, I kept craft time to a minimum. However, when thinking about Halloween activities, creating cute crafty creations is a common activity. So, I thought I would share a few environmentally friendly craft ideas.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Halloween Ornaments from Recycled Christmas
  2. Ghost jugs made from plastic milk containers
  3. Eek-o-friendly Halloween Decorations
  4. Eco-friendly DIY Halloween Decorations
  5. Recycled Halloween Crafts

This Halloween keep the planet in mind while you’re having a spooktaular time.

Tomorrow, a guide to sustainable living.