Heavy Meat Eaters Eat Veggies When Given the Choice

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The meat industry is one of the leading drivers of the recent spat of fires in Brazil, and globally the meat industry is a major factor in the climate crisis. If we’re going to avert catastrophe we’re going to need people to change their diets in one simple way: cutting out meat. If people don’t want to cut out meat entirely, that’s ok, as long as they reduce their meat consumption. As a society we can reduce everyone’s meat consumption very easily by just providing meatless meals in cafeterias.

Emma Garnett and her colleagues at the University of Cambridge, UK, collected data on more than 94,000 meals sold in 3 of the cafeterias at the university in 2017. When the proportion of meatless options doubled from one to two of four choices, overall sales remained about constant. But sales of meat-containing meals dropped, and sales of vegetarian meals, such as “wild mushroom, roasted butternut squash and sun blushed tomato risotto with parmesan”, rose 40–80%.

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Solar Panels Help Crops Grow

Solar panels on grass
Solar energy is the future and it keeps getting better. Not only are renewables cheaper than destructive gas and coal energy they also have other positive effects. Recently it’s been discovered that solar fields can be used as a really good place to grow crops. This is counterintuitive as the solar panels block the sun which plants typically love and to service the panels there needs to be a pathway where crops would thrive.

However, by planting shade-tolerant plants beneath the panels it means workers can still do their job and the plants can do theirs. The plants do well in the shade thanks to the ambient light and the increased humidity from the panels themselves. Neat!

The researchers see potential here (and in similar “agrivoltaics” experiments elsewhere) that is worth investigating and optimizing. Solar panel installations may not be compatible with the machinery used to harvest many crops, and boosting the panels higher off the ground costs extra. But there are configurations for certain crops in certain areas that can make a lot of sense. Farmers could save water, make money from a solar lease, and might even find that workers are much more comfortable and safe working under some shade—all while allowing solar arrays to expand in those areas without competing for land with agriculture.

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Active People Naturally Crave Healthier Foods

Want to eat healthier but lacking motivation? Start being more active and you’ll find that picking healthier foods will get easier. A least that’s what participants found in a recent study, and there’s no reason to expect different results for you. Researchers took people who had a sedentary lifestyle and just asked them to workout a little. Without instructions the participants started to eat healthier just because they were more active.

“The process of becoming physically active can influence dietary behavior,” said Molly Bray, corresponding author of the paper and chair of the Nutritional Sciences department at UT Austin and a pediatrics faculty member at Dell Medical School. “One of the reasons that we need to promote exercise is for the healthy habits it can create in other areas. That combination is very powerful.”

“Many people in the study didn’t know they had this active, healthy person inside them,” Bray said. “Some of them thought their size was inevitable. For many of these young people, they are choosing what to eat and when to exercise for the first time in their lives.”

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These Companies Convert Waste to Profits

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Both the food and clothing industry produce tons of waste, waste which has traditionally been dumped into landfills. One company is taking food waste and mixing it with special bacteria to breakdown the food faster to create entirely new products. Another company is sourcing fabrics to create clothing, therefore diverting textiles from entering the stream of waste. Of course, the best way to deal with waste is not to produce any in the first place. Remember: reduce first, reuse second, and if you can’t accomplish the first two then recycle.

Beyond the cutting waste, there’s also the water consumption. “It takes 2,700 litres of water to make one new t-shirt — that’s the same amount the average person drinks over three years. We saw this as an incredible opportunity to make a difference.”

They canvassed local clothing designers and producers to collect gently used or unused textiles that would normally end up in waste streams. They then use the fabric to produce colourful children’s clothing.

While production has been on a small scale to date, Nudnik is poised to scale its operations, Lorusso says. “At a startup demo, we met someone who was going to work for their family business in Bangladesh and was interested in bringing sustainability to the industry.”

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Reducing Waste in Food Courts

fries

Poor waste management presents more than just food waste in food courts located in mass or offices. The waste of time, money, and energy plague most of these food operations. In yet another example of how being more efficient with waste saves more than the planet, the CBC took a look at how some food courts in Canada are dealing with waste. There are easy solutions like better signage and reducing what restaurants need to hand out with every meal and there are more complex solutions like dehydrating the food waste. Of course, the best way to reduce waste in food courts is to bring your own lunch from home.

The food court at Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto used to generate 120 bags of garbage a day. Now it produces just three — despite the fact that it serves noodles, fried chicken, burgers and other fast foods to 24,000 customers a day.

The good news is that far more food court waste is recyclable than you might think. Cromie and his team went through a load of garbage collected at a local food court by CBC News and found 86 per cent of the items in the “garbage” stream could actually have been recycled.

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