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Celebrate World Oceans Day 2016: Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, June 02, 2016

The ocean is the heart of our planet. Like your heart pumping blood to every part of your body, the ocean connects people across the Earth, no matter where we live. The ocean regulates the climate, feeds millions of people every year, produces oxygen, is the home to an incredible array of wildlife, provides us with important medicines, and so much more! In order to ensure the health and safety of our communities and future generations, it’s imperative that we take the responsibility to care for the ocean as it cares for us.

This year, the theme is Healthy oceans, healthy planet, and we’re making a special effort to stop plastic pollution.

Plastic pollution is a serious threat because it degrades very slowly, polluting waterways for a very long time. In addition, plastic pollution impacts the health of aquatic animals because animals including zooplankton mistake the microbeads for food. Scientists also fear health impacts for humans.

The United Nations will celebrate World Oceans Day 2016 and recognize the winners of the Annual World Oceans Day Oceanic Photo Competition at an event on 8 June 2016 at the United Nations Headquarters.

Why do we celebrate World Oceans Day?

  • To remind everyone of the major role the oceans have in everyday life. They are the lungs of our planet, providing most of the oxygen we breathe.
  • To inform the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean.
  • To develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean.
  • To mobilize and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world's oceans. They are a major source of food and medicines and a critical part of the biosphere.
  • To celebrate together the beauty, the wealth and the promise of the ocean.

**Original by

Why Solar Energy is Good

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Face it, solar energy is definitely the future trend of energy. Nowadays, many households, business & public areas have converted to be powered solely by solar power, reaping all the advantages offered by the sun.

Here are some good reasons for using solar energy to power your home or workplace:

1. Cut-down electricity bill
The key reason that most households convert their power source to solar energy is to cut down their electrical bill because the electrical usage generated from the sun is free. By converting as many home appliances as possible to use solar energy, you can save a significant savings in your utilities expenses.

2. It is a renewable energy source
Typical electricity is generated from fossil fuel that will run out one day. Solar energy is a good alternative to replace fossil fuel as the major energy source because solar power is renewable at absolutely no cost to supply energy infinitely.

3. Environment friendly
The world pollution is getting worse. Any effort that can reduce the pollution to the environment helps to save the earth. Solar panels are able to harness the energy from the sun and convert it to electricity. Therefore, the use of solar panels is environment friendly. Therefore, solar energy that is harmless to the environment will be the major energy source for future - starting today.

4. Low / no maintenance needed
Once you have installed the solar power system, it can last twenty to thirty years without major maintenance needed. You may need to do system check once a year, just to make sure everything is performing as it should. Since it requires very minimum maintenance cost, your cost should be minimal.

*Originally published on

Notes from the NRC: What is zero waste?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, May 19, 2016

Over the past five years or so, leading solid waste and recycling organizations, communities and businesses across the country have increasingly embraced zero waste. Zero waste policies and programs establish practical ways to eliminate waste and safely reuse, recycle or compost discarded products and packaging. However, there has been confusion in the marketplace due to the many definitions of "zero" that are being used.

To address this confusion for its members and others, the National Recycling Coalition (NRC), identified the need to evaluate and come to consensus on a definition for zero waste. Earlier this year, the NRC Board adopted the definition offered up by the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA). It reads as follows: Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use. Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them. Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.

The key measure of performance toward ZWIA’s zero waste definition is diverting 90 percent of all discarded materials from landfills, incinerators and the environment. While it's true that 90 percent diversion does not equate to zero landfilling, the goal is viewed – both by ZWIA and NRC – as the most reasonable and yet ambitious target the industry should be aiming for.

One compelling reason for NRC to adopt the ZWIA definition of zero waste is that it is the only peer-reviewed definition in existence today. It's also been accepted by environmental, recycling and zero waste leaders all around the world. To date, many organizations, businesses and communities have adopted and support the ZWIA definition. It has also been embraced by many members of NRC.

Another facet of the ZWIA definition that NRC finds especially useful is that it does not count waste-to-energy as diversion. While some companies and groups have endorsed a "zero landfill" practice, it is important to ensure that diverted material is not headed for incineration either.

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) has acknowledged that it has members that support waste-to-energy while others support zero waste. SWANA wants to support both of those groups of members, so it has agreed to view waste-to-energy as a non-zero waste diversion tactic. The U.S. Conference of Mayors also adopted a resolution last year that highlighted that waste-based energy should be counted as disposal, not diversion.

NRC hopes that adopting ZWIA's clear sighted definition will help its members and the industry to continue to strive for the highest waste diversion and recycling goals and encourage them to divert as much as possible by supporting recycling and also considering how zero waste policies and programs can achieve even greater objectives.

Gary Liss is a current board member and secretary of the National Recycling Coalition. He was also a founding member and past president of NRC and is the president of Gary Liss & Associates.

Ford Using Captured Carbon to Make Plastic Car Parts

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Ford is developing new foam and plastic car components made from carbon dioxide. It expects the new biomaterials, which is still undergoing testing, will be in Ford production vehicles within the next five years.

The foam, made with up to 50 percent CO2-based polyols, could be used in seating and underhood applications. This could reduce petroleum use by more than 600 million pounds annually, Ford says.

Ford began working with several companies, suppliers and universities in 2013 to find uses for captured CO2. Plastic manufacturing accounts for nearly 4 percent of the world’s oil use, according to British Plastic Federation. Ford says it hopes this new bioplastic will help achieve the long-term goals to reduce global warming set in the Paris climate agreement.

The automaker uses other sustainable materials in its products. In North America, soy foam is in every Ford vehicle. Coconut fiber backs trunk liners; recycled tires and soy are in mirror gaskets; recycled T-shirts and denim go into carpeting; and recycled plastic bottles become fabric used in the 2016 F-150.

Original by: Jessica Lyons Hardcastle

Paper recovery rate nears 67 percent

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Paper recycling hit new heights last year, according to the latest data from the American Forest & Paper Association. Approximately 52 million tons of paper were recovered in 2015, the AF&PA recently reported. The group estimates the overall paper recovery rate reached 66.8 percent, an all-time high. The 2014 recovery rate was 65.4 percent.

The recovery rate, which is released annually by AF&PA, reflects all recovered paper with the exception of paper waste known as mill broke, which is produced before the completion of the paper-making process. The AF&PA does not provide specific data on post-consumer paper recycling.

"Paper recycling is widespread, widely accessible, it's broadly successful and it's a great environmental success story," said Brian Hawkinson, the executive director of recovered fibers at AF&PA. He credited the higher numbers to growth in recycling infrastructure across the country and to paper mill demand for recovered material.

While overall paper generation fell slightly to just under 78 million tons in 2015 and is down about 25 percent since 1999, Hawkinson noted the shift toward more online commerce has helped drive the generation of more cardboard in the recycling stream. Since 1999, generation of old corrugated containers (OCC) has grown almost 50 percent.

Of the 33.7 million tons of OCC put on the marketplace in 2015, 31.3 million tons, or 92.9 percent, were recovered, AF&PA figures show.

One concern AF&PA has for the future of paper recovery is mixed-waste processing. Many in the recycling industry have opposed the approach on the grounds that it contaminates and devalues recyclables, including fiber.

"That's something that's certainly got the industry's attention," Hawkson said. "Our goal is to promote increased recovery of mill-quality fiber so anything that is a threat to recovery is something we're concerned about."

He noted the industry is within reach of its 2020 goal of hitting a 70 percent recovery rate. The key will be continued growth of markets for recovered paper. "The markets will dictate that," he said.

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling - May 10, 2016

International Compost Awareness Week 2016

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Yessi Budisari of West Indonesia has sensed growing concern for soil revitalization in the wake of a brush fire and smoke pollution disaster in her country, and designed the winning 2016 International Compost Awareness Week poster in response to the concerns.

The poster, which has been distributed nationally prior to the celebration of International Compost Awareness Week May 1-7, 2016, focuses on a water conservation theme of Compost: The Soil and Water Connection. The US Composting Council’s Annual Competition received nearly 125 entries from all ages and across the world.

“My poster symbolizes the connection between soil and water: The Yin and Yang…. the two elements that are completely different but cannot live without each other,” she said. “I described Yang with soil because soil is hard, dry and firm, and The Yin I described as water as water is fluid in motion. Together they can be a hero to our planet earth.”

The International Compost Awareness Committee, a group of USCC members, chose this year’s theme to bring attention to the role of compost in healthy soil to address growing drought and food insecurity issues across the world.

“Encouraging compost enthusiasts of all ages to think about compost in that context is an effective way to educate people about compost’s ability to strengthen and enrich degraded soils,” said Jeff Ziegenbein, chair of this year’s International Compost Awareness Week Committee and project manager for Inland Empire Regional Composting Authority in California.

International Compost Awareness Week is an annual multi-media publicity and education campaign that showcases composting and compost products, from backyards to large-scale composting facilities. Sponsors of this year’s campaign include: BioCycle Magazine, BioBag, Filtrexx International, Full Circle Organics, LLC, Rooflite, Natureworks, WeCare Organics, Reotemp Instruments, and Composting News.

The U.S. Composting Council is a national organization dedicated to the development, expansion and promotion of the composting industry. Established in 1990, the USCC achieves this mission by supporting and performing compost-related research, promoting best management practices, establishing standards, educating professionals and the public about the benefits of composting and using finished compost. USCC members include compost producers, marketers, equipment manufacturers, product suppliers, academic institutions, public agencies, nonprofit groups and consulting/engineering firms.

**Originally posted by

AIA: Top 10 Green Buildings of 2016

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, April 28, 2016

The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Committee on the Environment has selected its top 10 2016 green building projects, which the organization said exemplify "sustainable architecture and ecological design." The AIA said its 20th annual lineup of sustainable design projects highlights those that "are the result of a thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems and technology." The organization said it conducted a study of nearly 200 past winners and found that the honorees have consistently exceeded almost every industry standard.

Green building elements like natural light and ventilation, stormwater management and its re-use, rooftop solar and green roofs, electrical vehicle charging stations and renewable energy systems all made their way into one or more of these projects. The winners also represent a variety of building philosophies, such as net-zero, Living Buildings, WELL and LEED. In addition, with the exception of a project based in Ireland, the AIA’s 2016 list is made up entirely of U.S. projects.

The full list includes:

Biosciences Research Building (BRB), Galway, Ireland
Payette and Reddy Architecture + Urbanism

Outstanding Features: Uses natural ventilation for 90% of its cooling and heating; 45% of the building has no mechanical ventilation.
Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL), Pittsburgh

The Design Alliance Architects
Outstanding Features: Produces 100% of its own energy; holds Living Building Challenge, LEED Platinum, WELL Building Platinum and Four-Stars Sustainable SITES certifications.

Exploratorium at Pier 15, San Francisco

Outstanding Features: Uses San Francisco Bay water for cooling; 800-foot-long roof supports a 1.3-megawatt solar array.

H-E-B at Mueller; Austin, TX
Lake|Flato Architects, H-E-B Design + Construction, Selser Schaefer Architects

Outstanding Features: Uses "the first North American supermarket propane refrigeration system."

Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, Berkeley, CA
Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects

Outstanding Features: Energy consumption is 90% below national baseline.

Rene Cazenave Apartments, San Francisco
Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects and Saida + Sullivan Design Partners, Associated Architect

Outstanding Features: Focus on healthy living for former homeless, some with mental or physical disabilities; green roof with solar canopy.

The Dixon Water Foundation Josey Pavilion, Decatur, TX
Lake|Flato Architects

Outstanding Features: Certified Living Building; stresses the possible positive impacts of grazing livestock.

The J. Craig Venter Institute, San Diego
ZGF Architects LLP

Outstanding Features: First net-zero energy laboratory in the U.S.

University of Wyoming - Visual Arts Facility; Laramie, WY
Hacker Architects and Malone Belton Able PC

Outstanding Features: One of the biggest solar evacuated tube installations in the U.S.; building designed in accordance with the sun’s position to maximize reflected light and reduce solar gain.

West Branch of the Berkeley Public Library, Berkeley, CA
Harley Ellis Devereaux

Outstanding Features: First certified Living Building public library in California; sunlight provides 97% of light.

**Original By Kim Slowey | April 27, 2016

The History of Earth Day

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Each year, Earth Day—April 22—marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

The height of counterculture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” War raged in Vietnam and students nationwide overwhelmingly opposed it.

At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.

Although mainstream America largely remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962.  The book represented a watershed moment, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries, and beginning to raise public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and links between pollution and public health.
Earth Day 1970 gave voice to that emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns on the front page.

The Idea

The idea for a national day to focus on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes from Harvard as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land. April 22, falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, was selected as the date.

On April 22,1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. By the end of that year, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. “It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”

As 1990 approached, a group of environmental leaders asked Denis Hayes to organize another big campaign. This time, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It also prompted President Bill Clinton to award Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1995)—the highest honor given to civilians in the United States—for his role as Earth Day founder.

Earth Day Today

As the millennium approached, Hayes agreed to spearhead another campaign, this time focused on global warming and a push for clean energy. With 5,000 environmental groups in a record 184 countries reaching out to hundreds of millions of people, Earth Day 2000 combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. Earth Day 2000 used the power of the Internet to organize activists, but also featured a drum chain that traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC for a First Amendment Rally. Earth Day 2000 sent world leaders the loud and clear message that citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on global warming and clean energy.

Much like 1970, Earth Day 2010 came at a time of great challenge for the environmental community. Climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent politicians, a disinterested public, and a divided environmental community all contributed to the narrative—cynicism versus activism. Despite these challenges, Earth Day prevailed and Earth Day Network reestablished Earth Day as a relevant, powerful focal point. Earth Day Network brought 250,000 people to the National Mall for a Climate Rally, launched the world’s largest environmental service project—A Billion Acts of Green®–introduced a global tree planting initiative that has since grown into The Canopy Project, and engaged 22,000 partners in 192 countries in observing Earth Day.

Earth Day had reached into its current status as the largest secular observance in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year, and a day of action that changes human behavior and provokes policy changes.

Today, the fight for a clean environment continues with increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day. We invite you to be a part of Earth Day and help write many more chapters—struggles and victories—into the Earth Day book.

Stay tuned! 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. In honor of this milestone, Earth Day Network is preparing to announce an ambitious set of goals to shape the future we need.

**Original published on

Celebrate National Park Week

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, April 12, 2016

National Park Week, April 16 to 24, 2016, is America's largest celebration of national heritage. It's about making great connections, exploring amazing places, discovering open spaces, enjoying affordable vacations, and enhancing America’s best idea—the national parks! It's all happening in your national parks.

NPS Photo

National Park Week is the time to discover national parks and the wonders they contain. Find your park!

The National Park Service is once again partnering with the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks, to present National Park Week, a presidentially proclaimed celebration of our national heritage.

Now's The Time!

Plan your visit by what you want to do or where you want to go. Here are some highlights during National Park Week:

April 16–24: Visit for free! Throughout National Park Week in 2016, every national park will give you free admission!
April 16: National Junior Ranger Day Explore, Learn, Protect! Kids can take part in fun programs and earn a junior ranger badge or become a Centennial Junior Ranger.
April 22: Earth Day On Earth Day, if you want to roll up your sleeves and pitch in with a project, look for a park where you can help out.
April 23: National Park Instameet Join an InstaMeet in a park. Gather in a designated place at a specific time to take photos and short videos to post on Instagram (and other social media) with the same hashtag: #FindYourParkInstaMeet, #FindYourPark, #EncuentraTuParque, #NPS100
April 24: Park Rx Day Parks will host fun recreational activities that encourage healthy lifestyles and promote physical and mental well-being. (Looking to host your own event? Download A Guide to Planning Your Own National Park Rx Day Celebration [561KB PDF]).

Don't forget to check out There you can share your national park photos, videos, and tips. While you're there, learn all about the ways you can help support your national parks all year round.

Try something new this year. Find your park!

Green Awards Every Business Should Strive For In 2016

Darren Kincaid - Tuesday, April 05, 2016

It is becoming increasingly important to make a case for sustainability in business. This requires thinking about the impact your business has on the environment and ways to reduce its carbon footprint.

In 1991, Frito Lay launched SunChips, a healthier brand of snack that was environmentally conscious and therefore quite ahead of its time. In 2009, SunChips tapped into the combined marketing power of two trends – healthy snacks and environmentally friendly products. This was a huge success at the time, and also made their ethics a public case study. But with over 30 environmental awards under their belt, it seems the company still sets a high standard for green businesses.

While your stakeholders and clients may not know the specifics of your social and environmental practices, it is important in today’s climate to take an interest. More essential still is to be visibly engaged in sustainability. To ignore the power and pressure of being green in 2016 is PR folly.

International awards for sustainability can lead to exciting opportunities International awards add value to your company. Not only do they signify official endorsement that will make you more appealing to potential customers, but they can also lead to new business opportunities.

SolarAid, the winners of a Gold Award brought solar energy to the rural poor in East Africa. According to partnerships manager Charlie Miller, the award ‘took partnerships with funders and other stakeholders to another level’. But there were other rewards too, including £30,000 prize money and international media exposure.

There are also international awards that are less focused on companies working to solve environmental issues. The Best in Biz awards have a category for Most Socially or Environmentally Responsible Company of the Year, to celebrate companies that are setting a great example to other businesses. The winners of the award in 2015 include Monster Energy and Feld Entertainment.

Industry-specific accreditation give you a competitive edge

Demonstrating environmental commitment is becoming an essential part of corporate professionalism. Awards and accreditation are a great way to make you stand out over the competition. But the real value lies in researching schemes and awards that are going to be recognized in your sector and on a local level.

In the UK, for example, companies can apply to the Green Accord for an environmental accreditation. This is a great way to evidence your corporate commitment to fighting climate change. With support from the University of Exeter and Exeter City Council, this is a national scheme that is suitable for all types of organization and supply chain.

The best marketing strategies utilize awards and accolades to their full advantage. It’s not good enough to just have the awards, you need to mention them on relevant web pages too.

Recipient of a Gold Medal from the Royal Society for the Protection of Accidents, for example, is a significant accolade for an environmental services company like OCS. This accolade was published in a press release, but is also mentioned on their asbestos removal page. These are both examples of how you can maximize the competitive impact of your achievements.

Eco labels improve your reputation

Eco labels denote how environmentally ethical a product is. While some awards are extremely competitive, accolades like eco labels are easily earned and legitimately certify your commitment to the cause. It’s important to strive for visibility when it comes to labels, so that you can really market your environmental awareness.

A good example of this is the Green Stationery Company, who supply recycled paper and green office products. Not only do they have their eco labels displayed on their website’s homepage, but almost all packaging and products have a clearly visible eco label. Even if your company isn’t offering ‘green’ products, you should consider using eco labels wherever possible.

You can use an ecolabel index to find a suitable way to certify your product, service or brand. The EU ecolabel can be used by manufacturers, importers, service providers, wholesalers, and any traders and retailers marketing products under their own brand name. Walmart have used the recent increase in supply chain transparency to their advantage by introducing a ‘made by sustainability leaders’ label which will be used by an initial batch of 150 companies to denote their commitment to resolving and reducing environmental issues.

**Original posted April 1, 2016 by Ivan Widjaya, Owner/Editor of