Instead of shelling out for a water filtration plant, mussels’ constant filter feeding is being tested as a potential wide-scale application for microplastic clean-up in our oceans.
Belying their humble evolutionary stature, the mussel can do something that humanity could only achieve by spending millions on equipment, and that is cleaning microplastics smaller than 5mm out of the ocean.
A voracious filter feeder, mussels absorb microplastics and than excrete them, while doing no harm to the organism.
Microplastics are devilish pollutants that can come from tire wear, fracture off long-floating plastic debris, or get pulled off artificial textiles and end up in the ocean via sewage. They’re so small that often the required fineness of a net in order to collect them ensures that any marine life, even tiny ones, will be collected as well.
A trial near the Plymouth Marine Laboratory in England is looking to see how many mussels it would take to make a meaningful impact on microplastic pollution.
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Straws Ban. This bill will restrict food-service establishments from providing single-use plastic straws, stirrers, and splash sticks to customers, with the exception of straws upon request. Food-service establishments will be required to stock non-compostable plastic straws to fulfill customer requests and would have to post signs advertising the straws’ availability at self-serve stations. Compostable plastic straws will be permitted to be given out upon request only for use on-premises, and only if the foodservice establishment properly separates and disposes of those straws through a commercial composting provider.
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Last month, thanks to an anonymous West Indian woman who put the idea in our heads, we undertook an experiment in urban goatscaping in Stuyvesant Cove Park. It was a resounding success- the goats did a great job and everyone loved them- and also a unique experience for Candace Thompson, the new Park Manager. Here’s her description of what it was like to spend three days and two nights as an onsite goatherd in Stuy Cove Park:
For 3 straight days, 20 goats and I did heavy “goatscaping”, and for 2 nights we slept together… under the FDR… in lower Manhattan…during a global pandemic.
It was a week for the bucket list, to be sure.
If you’re unfamiliar, goatscaping is an ancient land clearing practice in which humans allow goats to do what they do best: eat. When they’re done you’re left with a weed free, well fertilized growing space with no gas-powered machines or herbicides needed. So, last month Caramelo, Chloe, Cheech and co were let loose inside SCP’s teaching garden and given carte blanche, and while they munched, volunteers pulled weeds from other areas of the park and carried them over to their enclosure. One little girl accurately described it as “goat room service”.
When I awoke in the middle of the night to check on them they’d still be standing there, chewing away. They, too, knew this was the city that never sleeps.
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We at Solar One are all about composting our food scraps, and we were sad to see the curbside collection program get suspended as the city tries to cope with COVID-related budget cuts. The Sanitation Department’s composting budget was slashed 90% and likely won’t be restored until 2021…but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep composting in the meantime.
Composting can be an accessible waste management tool that has many environmental benefits. It can reduce landfill waste: more than one-third of New York City’s residential waste stream could be composted. It also fights climate change locally by cutting carbon emissions from transporting trash and slashing methane emissions generated by organic waste in landfills. Compost creates fertilizer that NYC distributes to community gardens, urban farms, neighborhood parks, and street tree beds, improving community welfare and the local environment. In 2019, 3.2 million pounds of food scraps were collected in New York City.
But there are still a few ways to continue composting during the pandemic. Some food scrap drop-off sites are still open and can be found on this interactive map or this regularly updated list.
You can read a bit more about this on the NYLCV website here. And you can also check out our GDL webinar next week for more composting and sustainable career info- check out the article below to learn more!
While the sorts of environmental problems that can best be solved by “green” consumerism are admittedly small, they do add up if a lot of us do them together. One of my guiltiest pleasures is my love of paper towels. They clean up everything and you can just get rid of them- you can even compost them. But despite all the rationalizations, the numbers speak for themselves: In the US alone, we use 13 BILLION pounds of paper towels, or 45 pounds per person per year. And while I can’t find any numbers on sponges, they usually stay wet for long periods of time and can harbor all sorts of bacteria. In fact, the kitchen sponge may be the dirtiest thing in your entire house!
The Swedish Dishcloth has the amazing ability to (mostly) replace both products and change your life.
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Ah, sell-by dates, those little stamps that are supposed to reassure us that the foods we buy aren’t spoiled. Most of us check them regualrly, if not obsessively, and trust that if we stay within their parameters, we can avoid making ourselves sick.
But according to NPR, two of the leading food industry groups would like to see them expire.
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