Buying Recycled Products is Good for Everything

Reduce, reuse, and recycle is a mantra heard time and time again. Yet, not everyone follows it (remember that they are in that order for a reason: reduce what you consume in the first place, then reuse what you can, and recycle the rest). It can be easy though. When you do buy stuff (remember that you should try not to buy things – reduce) buy recycled because there are a ton of reasons from energy consumption to sending a message. Over at Grist they compiled a compendium of reasons to buy recycled.

Still, I’d encourage you to continue buying the 100-percent recycled stuff if you can — for foil as well as any other product — for so many reasons. Recycled content saves natural resources, so we can mine fewer metals, cut down fewer trees, and tap less petroleum. It uses less energy to produce, sometimes dramatically so; recycled aluminum can be whipped up with 95 percent less power than virgin aluminum. Recycled material slashes pollution and saves water, too. And let’s not forget it prevents our consumer castoffs from languishing away in a landfill.

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Using Snow to Cool Buildings in Summer

During winter snow is cleared from the roads and put into massive piles to melt when warmer weather returns. This might seem simple enough, but it’s a big challenge dealing with the snow because of the sheer volume in colder climates like Canada. Researchers in British Columbia are proposing that the snow gets taken to special facilities that can benefit from all that snow – for cooling buildings during the summer.

It’s like a return of the once very profitable ice king.

Snow cooling technology is currently used several other countries, including Sweden, where a 60,000 cubic-metre pile of stored winter snow is used to cool the Sundsvall Hospital during the summer.

Hewage and his colleagues determined that in Canada, it would take about a playground’s worth of snow to cool a neighbourhood of 200 to 300 homes for the summer. In the winter, the snow could be compacted and used as a skating rink, he said.

With current energy prices, the system is more economically feasible in Ontario, where rates are high. B.C. has an abundant supply of cheap hydro power.

“But, of course, the environment has a price, too. So if you consider all of the aspects — environment, economic and also the social dimensions — I believe this is a good technology for Canada,” Hewage said.

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China is Getting Serious about Climate Change

China rightfully gets a lot of flak for its environmental policies; they are listening and acting on received criticism. Previously we noted that China started to close coal plants and that there is increased concern about climate change in the country. Over at Grist magazine they have catalogued seven ways which show China’s efforts in greening itself. Every little bit helps and at the scale of China’s economy little things go a long way.

— Cleaning up cars and trucks. China is the largest car market in the world. Cutting pollution from automobiles, like cutting pollution from coal plants, is essential not just to reducing CO2 emissions but to clearing the air in cities: The government estimates that roughly one-third of Beijing’s epic smog is from automobiles. China is pulling old, inefficient cars off the road, providing incentives for buying hybrids and electric cars, and enforcing stricter fuel-efficiency standards for new cars.

— Making buildings more energy efficient. Two years ago, China started issuing requirements for buildings to be given energy-efficiency upgrades. The energy savings are just beginning to be felt, but given that buildings can last for decades or even centuries, there could be a long payoff period.

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Environment Destroying CEOs Held Accountable by Shareholders

ShareAction is an organization that is tired of letting CEOs and companies harm the world and are doing something about it. The organization campaigns on behalf of shareholders to represent environmental, health, labour, and other concerns. They leverage their combined representation of shareholders to ensure that the companies return a profit while not destroying the world.

One of their recent campaigns is focussed on getting oil-based companies to figure out what to do in a world that relies more on renewable energy. Next year will be a big year for the UK based ShareAction.

For the first time in 2017, shareholders will get a binding vote on corporate pay policies in the UK.

Share Action is urging them to use it at BP and Shell to stop bonus structures that reward high carbon strategies.

Catherine Howarth, chief executive at Share Action, said: “Responsible investors who are serious about climate risk have a crucial opportunity to ‘walk the talk’ at BP and Shell next year, by pushing for remuneration policies designed make these major companies commercially resilient in a low carbon world – and voting down policies which fail that test.”

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Portugal Joins Other Countries by Running Only on Renewable Energy

Portuguese architecture
Portugal reached a very significant milestone on its path to being fully powered by renewables by consuming energy only from sustainable resources for four days. Other countries are on similar paths. In 2012 Germany got 50% of it’s power from renewable sources, Scotland powered itself exclusively on renewables for a week earlier this year, but the most impressive is Costa Rica. In 2015 Costa Rica went at least of a quarter of the using only renewables and improving this year.

Portugal joins those countries (and others) that are looking forward to a future that isn’t dependent on finite energy sources. More countries should be joining this renewable revolution.

Electricity consumption in the country was fully covered by solar, wind and hydro power in an extraordinary 107-hour run that lasted from 6.45am on Saturday 7 May until 5.45pm the following Wednesday, the analysis says.

News of the zero emissions landmark comes just days after Germany announced that clean energy had powered almost all its electricity needs on Sunday 15 May, with power prices turning negative at several times in the day – effectively paying consumers to use it.

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Thanks to Delaney!