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waste tracking wastetracking system everyday is earth day

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

-Confucius

waste tracking wastetracking system tiny houses bloomberg building

Bloomberg showed glimpses inside the tiny houses that are becoming big with U.S. owners. In this article: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-09/tiny-houses-big-with-u-s-owners-seeking-economic-freedom.html Nina Glinski wrote about how good owners of tiny houses in the U.S. feel about making the decision to downsize their homes in favor of achieving economic freedom.

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The article starts with Doug Immel who recently completed his custom-built dream home that has just 164 square feet of living space and saves him a lot of money which he invests for his retirement.

Aldo Lavaggi, a New York folk musician who lives in Hudson Valley built a 105 square foot home on a friend’s farmland in the Berkshires. His humble abode runs on energy from two solar panels and a car battery. Lavaggi “has money to splurge on artisanal break and gourmet cheeses from the local market” and pointed out that “there’s a fallacy of limited options” where people feel that they must have a full-time job, stellar credit or a lot of money to own a house.

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This article looks at a lot of different angles regarding owning a house like the “biggest barrier”, zoning restrictions, and the freedom explained above. We hope that you enjoy, and please tell us what you think on Twitter @wastetracking or in the comments here!

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waste tracking wastetracking.com system apuan alps quarries mine marble carra

In Tuscany there is currently passionate dispute over land-use in the area that famously provided Michelangelo’s marble for David in a region known as the Apuan Alps. The 150 firms that run the quarries are eagerly waiting to see the outcome of the Tuscan regional government’s decision or its “final approval to the plan” this week.

waste tracking wastetracking.com system apuan alps quarries mine marble

The Apuan Alps quarries are from classical times and still have traces of the engineers that mined and the Roman artisans who sculpted. Unfortunately, these quarries left scars on the surrounding landscape and entire mountain peaks have been destroyed.

One of the quarry owners and operators was concerned that the Tuscan regional government’s plan is the first step towards closing these quarries. Shutting down the 48 will result in a direct loss of about 5,000 jobs. A spokeswoman for quarry employers said that about 150 employers have agreed to suspend all activity on Monday and Tuesday by barring workers from entering the quarries.

This lock out is being described as “anti-democratic and contemptuous of the rights of works” whereas the regional government is trying to be more responsible for their environmental impact and irreversible devastation.

 

(Source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/30/tuscany-marble-quarries-shut-environment-dispute)

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I consider this to be good art. Sad, but good.

yan lu's poor little fishbowl sink desin

Yan Lu’s piece “Poor Little Fishbowl Sink” is a visual reminder that if people use too much water, it kills living things around them. The sink has a fishbowl at eye level and the direct relationship between our water usage and the impact on the environment is clear.

The fish bowl and the faucet are actually separated so that the fish wouldn’t die from soapy water, and one can wash with clean water. Also, the fish bowl won’t actually ever drain completely but the idea is there and people will remember to turn off the tap!

(Source: http://magazine.good.is/articles/conserve-water-or-the-fish-will-die)

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L. Kevin and Donna Philippe-Johnson talk about their story here: http://earthstar.newlibertyvillage.com/thinkingsmall.htm

They downsized from an annual income of $42,000 to $6,500 by means of their voluntary creative simplicity.
Here’s an outline:
1. They were a middle class American couple who had an income of $42,000 a year in the 80’s but got sick of dealing with frequent layoffs and the instability of being unemployed and then employed off and on.
2. They decided to drastically cut expenses by moving to the country where they also met plenty of like-minded people.
3. Kevin and Donna decided to shake loose from the things holding them down and paid off all of their debt, cancelled credit cards, and followed an efficient financial plan to track every penny.
4. This led them to be able to save a little bit of money, so they decided that the next thing to do would be to change their eating habits to stay strong and healthy. They broke away from fast-food, pre-packed food and even prescription medicine to eating organic whole grains, fruits, vegetables and more.
5. They set up a special savings account for emergency first-aid treatment so that they could stop paying health insurance premiums.
6. Of course, the cell phone, cable television and internet bills were the next thing to go.
7. Eventually they began their “simple life” when they set up a dome tent to live in. They “happily lived in [their] tent that summer while clearing the land and constructing a rustic 10’ by 12’ room with a sleeping loft” on a pay-as-you-go plan.
8. The couple then build an underground cistern for collecting rainwater and finally, a 500 square foot cabin. Kevin took drafting, dish washing, courier, and other jobs to pay for the little cabin.
9. Kevin and Donna spent the next few years working towards their goals, building things, growing crops, spending quality time with one another and “replaced all of the costly false values that had occupied [their]time before”
10. In the end, the couple felt independent and truly self-reliant. Surprisingly enough, Kevin realized that the only thing he truly loved to do was to bake his own whole-grain sourdough bread to give away to his friends and family. He then came to the conclusion that he should stay at home and bake bread to sell to their neighbors. This provided for him and his wife. He also wrote this story to tell others that “little things” like baking bread for a neighborhood can be financially supportive and can make some people happier.

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green halo systems coconut-water-splash

Tokelau, a New Zealand island has an abundance of coconuts but the same can’t be said for other natural resources that help us survive. For this reason, Tokelau’s leader Foua Toloa announced in 2009 that the island will switch to using coconuts and solar power to provide all of the energy for the island. At the moment, diesel is administered to the island from New Zealand to meet the island’s electricity demands (about 42,000 gallons annually). In addition to diesel, gasoline and kerosene is also imported to the island.green halo systems tokelau 2

In Tokelau, most of the population has modern appliances, including satellite TV and Internet. It’s astonishing to think that the island can run off of solar power and coconut oil but we applaud Foua Toloa and Tokelau for being so bold.  green halo systems tokelau

The new energy plan is to transfer most of the islands’ power generation to 93% photovoltaic solar arrays and biofuel from coconuts will supply the remaining 7% of power generated in Tokelau. Some say that this effort is purely symbolic but we should note that this is part of an effort amount South Pacific island nations to encourage renewable energy systems.fresh coconut halves on beach

Source: http://www.fastcoexist.com/1678915/a-tiny-pacific-island-is-now-powered-by-coconuts

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Insideclimatenews.org published an insightful infographic about how much different organizations that are headquartered in the United States have for an annual budget (according to “the organizations and consultation with experts”).

The organization with the largest budget for the environmental movement according to this infographic is the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) with an impressive budget of $120.5 million. In case you’re wondering what the EDF does, the EDF “work[s] to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends, focusing on the most critical environmental problems”. The EDF is working to protect the precious environmental systems by focusing on pressing environmental issues. The climate, energy oceanic, ecosystem and health system work can be explored on their website: http://www.edf.org/. The second largest budget in the U.S. environmental movement is the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC).

The NRDC is known for being one of the nation’s most powerful environmental groups, hence the NRDC claims to be “The Earth’s Best Defense” and the “nation’s most effective environmental action group”. The best defense and most powerful environmental group in this case revolves around the fact that the NRDC combines grassroots power with “courtroom clout”. The staff works with various groups to address:

All of these pressing environmental issues and more can be read about by clicking on the links here: http://www.nrdc.org/about/. Both the EDF and the NRDC are known as political activists and interestingly enough the five largest budgeted organizations are all political advocates according to insideclimatenews.org. The second largest budgeted organizations are in the direction action category and the smallest budgeted organizations fall under the grassroots category.

In summary, the top 10 organizations driving the “modern green wave” show how the environmental movement is swayed. These budgets “advance environmental agendas at the local, national and international levels” and so this info graphic is a good, quick way to see who the biggest players are:

 Top 10 Enviro Group from insideclimatenews

(Source: http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20140407/infographic-field-guide-us-environmental-movement

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The Sierra Club has put together a list of “The 5 Worst Foods for Environmentalists to Eat.” For many of you, this list probably doesn’t hold many surprises, but it is still an important reminder of the decisions we as consumers make on a daily basis when choosing what to put into our bodies. Some foods, like it or not, are best avoided completely, no matter how delicious they may taste.

Conventional Coffee

From an environmental standpoint, it’s crucial to buy shade-grown, organic coffee. (Fair trade is also important for the growers.) Coffee is meant to grow in the shade, but many farmers now grow it in full sunlight, with a heavy dependence on pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers. They also chop down rainforests, destroying bird habitats. Look for the green gecko stamp from the Rainforest Alliance when purchasing coffee.

Factory-farmed Beef

“Cheap burgers are environmental assassins,” says Logan Strenchock, Central European University’s sustainability officer. Forests are clear-cut to grow the GMO corn and soy used to feed cows. Those crops have awful pesticide runoff that contaminate waterways, not to mention the waste generated by keeping large numbers of cows in CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operation). Even grass-fed beef “depletes native biodiversity, increases invasive exotics, diverts water, fouls streams, and bares the soil,” according to Mary O’Brien, director of the Utah Forests Program. Then the fresh meat has to be kept cool till it’s used, requiring vast amounts of energy.

Palm Oil

Palm oil is used in half of all packaged foods sold in the U.S., particularly cookies, crackers, and soups. Pam oil is the largest cause of rainforest destruction, resulting in huge swaths of Indonesian and Malaysian rainforests being bulldozed in order to plant palm oil trees. “Eight million acres have been cleared and burned already, and the orangutan is on its way to extinction,” says Christy Wilhelmi, author of Gardening for Geeks. The solution? Ditch those packaged foods, start cooking from scratch, and always, always read labels.

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Bluefin Tuna

Bluefin is a popular choice at high-end sushi restaurants, but their numbers in the oceans are dropping fast. Because they live so long, Bluefin are unable to stand up to overfishing. They’re also high in mercury. The Sierra Club quotes food critic Jonathan Gold, saying, “People need to stop eating Bluefin tuna, period… The numbers of these magnificent fish are dropping fast. If we don’t stop eating them now, we’ll stop in a few years anyway because there won’t be any more.”

Genetically Modified Corn

GMO corn “destroys habitats, depletes soils, breaks nutrient cycles, pollutes air and water, contaminates native maize varieties, and on and on,” according to Douglas Fox, professor of sustainable agriculture at Unity College. It kills bees, reduces biodiversity, drives heirloom crops to extinction, and requires excessive processing to transform it into high fructose corn syrup, another ingredient found in processed foods (which should be avoided anyways because they contain palm oil).

No doubt there are many other foods that should be added to this environmental blacklist, but banishing these five from one’s diet is a good place to start.

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Walnut Creek, CA – The City of Walnut Creek is considering an ordinance to prohibit the distribution of single use carryout bags in all retailers (except restaurants and non-profit charitable thrift stores). Under the ordinance, all grocery and retail stores in Walnut Creek would no longer provide single-use carryout plastic bags. Stores may sell paper bags for a minimum of 10 cents for each bag. Protective plastic or paper bags, without handles, for items such as meat, fresh produce, dry-cleaned clothes and prescription medications will be allowed. Consumers will have the option to bring their own reusable bags or pay for recycled paper bags. The City Council will consider the proposed ordinance as early as March 2014 (walnut-creek.org).

Green Halo Walnut Creek CA Proposed Plastic Bag Ban Ordinance

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