Europe Bans Single Use Plastics

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Plastics last a long time before breaking down, which makes them a major problem for the natural environment. This year we’ve seen a big push to ban “single use” plastics due to the environmental damage they bring. Plastic bag bans have been implemented in reasonable places and now the European Union is doing even better: they’re banning the ridiculous use of plastics in consumer goods.

The directive targets some of the most common ocean-polluting plastics.

The list of banned items such as cutlery and cotton buds was chosen because there are readily available alternatives, such as paper straws and cardboard containers.

Other items, “where no alternative exists” will still have to be reduced by 25% in each country by 2025. Examples given include burger boxes and sandwich wrappers.

MEPs also tacked on amendments to the plans for cigarette filters, a plastic pollutant that is common litter on beaches. Cigarette makers will have to reduce the plastic by 50% by 2025 and 80% by 2030.

Another ambitious target is to ensure 90% of all plastic drinks bottles are collected for recycling by 2025. Currently, bottles and their lids account for about 20% of all the sea plastic, the European Parliament report said.

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Oysters Are Saving New York’s Waters

ocean shore

There are many fans of oysters who eat them for their failure; however, I’m a fan of oysters because of what they eat. Back in 2011 we looked at the idea of using oysters to clean waters while harbouring other species – with the bonus impact that the oysters then get served at local restaurants. Since 2011 the concept has grown around New York City so much so that the oysters have basically saved the city from some effects of climate change. Go oysters!

Then, the oysters begin doing what oysters do — which, it turns out, is quite a lot. Oysters are natural water filters; each one cleans 30 to 50 gallons of water a day. They also provide food and shelter for all sorts of marine creatures, supporting biodiversity. “Oyster reefs provide great marine habitat, similar to coral reefs, with nooks and crannies to protect juvenile fish, and are active food for some species. They help to create a thriving ecosystem,” Wachtel says.

But the biggest draw for many coastal states such as New York, especially in an era of rising sea temperatures and eviscerating hurricanes, is that oysters can provide natural breakwaters. Oyster reefs can protect against a hurricane’s wave velocity, which can destroy a city’s infrastructure. The New York Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery has partnered with Billion Oyster Project to install oysters on its $74 million Living Breakwaters Project, which aims to reduce and reverse erosion and damage from storm waves, improve the ecosystem health of Raritan Bay and encourage environmentally conscious stewardship of nearshore waters.

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How the Aral Sea got its Flow Back

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Perhaps one of the best examples of human destruction of water resources the Aral Sea, and now it’s becoming an example of how humans can repair the damage we’ve done to our natural bodies of water. We’ve looked a the sea’s restoration before since it’s such a fascinating example. The recovery of the sea from over-consumption of and diversion of water still has a long way to go but we’re seeing progress already and the natural recovery of the northern part of the Aral sea is happening faster than predicted. The next step in the very long process to recover the full sea requires not physical changes but policy changes from its coastal nations.

The return of the North Aral Sea has fuelled a revival of the fishing industry in Aralsk. In 2006, the annual fish catch totaled 1,360 tons, which comprised a majority of flounder – a saltwater species that the Kazakhs dislike. By 2016, the Aralsk Fish Inspection Unit recorded 7,106 tons of fish as freshwater species have returned, including pike-perch – which bring in a hefty price for local fishermen – breams, asp, and catfish.

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Don’t Waste Your Time Showering Everyday

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Every year it seems showering is brought up on this site and the theme is always the same: shower less. Indeed, back in 2006 we looked at a device called an air shower and in 2012 it was a shower that recycles water (cleanly). This year the people over at Recommend Things recommend that we shower less too, they even put together that handy infographic at the top of the post.

Go ahead and try not showering everyday – your skin and the planet will thank you!

  1. The first and important reason as to why showering daily is not good is that it would make your hair dry. Showing daily would erase of necessary oils and sebum released from the scalp and skin and would make them ultra-dry. Hence avoid frequent showers.
  2. You may even rip off your nails and make them dry too by taking frequent showers. The keratin protein present in the nails and hairs tends to get eliminated slowly if they are projected to prolonged contact with water.
  3. The third reason can be termed under a social cause but showering daily and that too unnecessarily wastes water up to 30-40% and hence for or preventing useless water loss, you should not shower daily.
  4. Next reason not to shower daily is that it washes away the good bacteria present on your body that is helpful in combating the harmful bacteria. This good bacteria is actually a shield for your body which gets eroded by the frequent
  5. A possible reason to shower daily can be that you must not be that dirty as you think. If you don’t sweat excessively then you really don’t need daily showering because your body care products are wise enough to do so.
  6. You are even drying your skin by taking shower daily. This may cause excessive dehydration and finally result in chipping off dead skin.

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Don’t Give up on Desalination

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How we manage local water sources drastically alters how we grow crops and get drinking water. Cape Town is currently experience a water crisis that was in the making for decades because of poor water use policies. Desalination plants can help coastal cities provide water to their populace by separating salt from seawater. Wired has a good article on how one company is improving desalination techniques for growing crops, which, they predict can help bring plant life to arid regions.

The structure’s double-layered fibreglass roof transmitted sunlight but captured heat, diverting it through ducts into a compartment at the building’s rear. There, the heat was used to distill freshwater out of seawater for irrigation. The rest was vaporised and sucked through the growing space by fans to cool and humidify the plants, reducing transpiration. Paton calculated that a square metre of crops adjacent to the greenhouse would have required eight litres of water per day to offset what they lost in transpiration. “But inside we were using closer to one litre per square metre per day, and we were growing a better crop.”

Paton is also interested in the long term restorative benefits of his invention. Davies’ model predicted that the greenhouse’s cooling and humidifying effect would seep into the surrounding environment: “You can see there would be a plume of cool air coming off the greenhouse,” he says. And since the region hasn’t always been barren, Paton thinks greenhouses could return parts of it to the naturally vegetated state it was in before overgrazing and drought took hold. “I believe that when you get to, say, 20 years, you’d have enough vegetation to do the job of the greenhouses because they’re creating shade and shared humidity – changing the climate.” Because vegetation sequesters carbon, that also has broader ramifications for mitigating the effects of climate change.

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