Plastic-Free Cucumbers Hit the Shelves in Canada

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Canadians love putting food in petroleum products so much that we ship cucumbers and milk in plastic (yes, you can buy milk in plastic sacks). Thankfully, Canadians are starting to understand that plastic wrapping is wasteful and really bad for the environment. An agricultural company in Ontario has created a way to replace the plastic wrap put on cucumbers with a plant-based alternative.

These plastic-free cucumbers hit shelves the same week the federal government announced new details about its plan to ban some single-use plastics over the next 18 months, including straws, takeout containers, grocery bags and cutlery.

A 2019 Deloitte study found less than one-tenth of the plastic waste Canadians produce is recycled, equating to 3.3 million tonnes of plastic being thrown out annually, almost half of it is plastic packaging.

“Everybody wants to do their share when they’re talking about being [a] good environmental steward,” said DiLaudo.

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Game Workers Uniting for Better Workplaces

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In creative industries labour exploitation can happen because employers can get away with leaning into the passion creative workers bring to their field. The video game industry may be a young industry, but the tricks of getting free labour from workers are old ones. As a result, movements like Game Workers Unite have popped up to help video game workers get the respect they deserve.

Recently workers at Activision created the largest video game union and in Canada a union has been formed at a game service company. This is the beginning of a larger movement in the industry which is great to see. Professor Johanna Weststar has looked into why this is happening now:

We can trace the history of game worker resistance to see some of these fluctuations. Examples include the Easter Egg planted by programmer Warren Robinett in Atari’s Adventure, the brief formation of a virtual union called UbiFree in France in 1998 and the infamous EA Spouse affair in 2004.

The shine is coming off the rhetoric of “passion” that reinforces individualism, valorizes heroic efforts for the sake of the game and promotes worker alignment with employer interests.

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Thanks to Roger!

Best Tool to Fight Crime is Welfare

The best way to fight crime is to take away motivation to commit crime. It’s been proven time and time again that severe punishments don’t deter crime, so how can we creat conditions which ensure people don’t want to break the law. The solution is welfare.

Economists have proven that when people lose a social security system they turn to the easiest (most efficient) way to make up their losses: crime. Therefore we should fund welfare programs instead of thinking that funding the police will deter crime.

They found that terminating the cash welfare benefits of these young adults increased the number of criminal charges by 20% over the next two decades. The increase was concentrated in what the authors call “income-generating crimes,” like theft, burglary, fraud/forgery, and prostitution. As a result of the increase in criminal charges, the annual likelihood of incarceration increased by 60%. The effect of this income removal on criminal justice involvement persisted more than two decades later.

The researchers found that the impact of the change was heterogeneous. While some people removed from the income support program at age 18 responded by working more in the formal labor market, a much larger fraction responded by engaging in crime to replace the lost income. In response to losing benefits, youth were twice as likely to be charged with an illicit income-generating offense than they were to maintain steady employment.

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Existing Water Filters Can Catch Microplastics

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Plastic waste is everywhere and the tinier the plastic is the harder it is to deal with. These microplastics are proving to be very difficult to address which has sent researchers looking into all sort of solutions. One solution is already up and running in some places: sand filters in water systems. It turns out that some existing sand filtration systems can capture plastic nano particles.

The results are now in, and they include some reassuring findings. In a report published today in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, the researchers show that even if untreated water contained considerable quantities of nanoplastics, these particles were retained in sand filters very efficiently during water treatment. Both in laboratory tests and in a larger test facility located directly on the premises of the Zurich Water Works, the biologically active slow sand filter was the most effective at retaining nanoparticles – achieving an efficacy level in the region of 99.9%.

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Get Paid to Report Bike Lane Blockers

Austin spent millions on improving their infrastructure and now they are looking to citizens to enforce the rules of using that infrastructure. Anybody who reports a vehicle blocking a bicycle lane will now get a bounty when the driver of the vehicle is charged. Yes, it’s a Wild West bounty program in the 21st century.

This program makes sense since police don’t always enforce traffic laws (and in the city I live police refuse to enforce traffic laws) and it encourages more reporting. When drivers block bicycle lanes not only do they endanger every cyclist they are also causing traffic jams, which slow down all vehicles on the road.

The program, inspired by one in New York City, would allow Austinites to use the 311 mobile application to report photo evidence of cars obstructing bike lanes. The person reporting the infraction would then receive 25 percent of the revenue collected by the city for the citation.

“The city spends millions of dollars to make these facilities, and these facilities get blocked all of the time,” said Mario Champion, Urban Transportation Commission chair and author of the proposal. “A successful transportation system doesn’t just move cars, it moves people.”

Champion said the proposal isn’t too dissimilar from other programs already used by the city. One program uses citizens trained by the police to find and cite cars illegally parked in accessible parking spaces around Austin.

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