See Through Solar Panels

Solar panels on grass

The future is powered by renewables, and the more sources of electricity we have the more resilient our power grid will be. Researches at Michigan State University have created a solar film that can be applied to existing windows to generate electricity from the sun. The system is not as efficient as a standalone solar cell, but the benefits of putting the film on existing windows outweighs the inefficiency. The film is see through which means the windows look like normal windows. Imagine every window in a skyscraper generating a little amount of power or the windows on every electric car.

Back in 2017 MSU profiled Lunt’s work and explained that he and his team “pioneered the development of a transparent luminescent solar concentrator that when placed on a window creates solar energy without disrupting the view. The thin, plastic-like material can be used on buildings, car windows, cell phones or other devices with a clear surface.”

“The solar-harvesting system uses organic molecules developed by Lunt and his team to absorb invisible wavelengths of sunlight. The researchers can ‘tune’ these materials to pick up just the ultraviolet and the near-infrared wavelengths that then convert this energy into electricity,” MSU adds.

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Thanks to Mike!

Vertical Farming and the Future of Farms

Quality farmland ensures a good harvest which benefits many, from the producers of produce to the consumers. Our cities have grown around good for sources from the sea and land, this puts pressure on the local politicians to give up arable land to developers. In Ontario, the conservative party values developers over food. What will the future of food be as we destroy soil with asphalt? Farms will have to go vertical.

Another plus of vertical farming is that pesticides aren’t even in the equation. The extremely tight control these companies exert in the farm facilities means there are few concerns about contamination and illness caused by toxic chemicals, bugs, invasive species or vermin. Regardless, as Seawell demonstrated, these companies are not taking any chances: staff and visitors are still required to wear a full body suit with shoe covers, rubber gloves and a hairnet to limit any foreign contaminants.

Vertical farming also makes it possible for communities to have almost immediate access to produce. Facilities can be built and operated close to or even with dense urban neighborhoods. Vegetables and fruits don’t need to traverse thousands of miles from farm to grocery store and risk spoiling (food waste during transit is a contributor to the 40 percent of all food in the U.S. that ends up in landfills). Even when produce survives the journey, it can lose significant nutritional value; spinach, for instance, can lose up to 90 percent of its vitamin C nutrients within a day of harvest.

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Time to Break Up with Gas

One thing is certain: we need to get off of fossil fuels as fast as possible. The gas companies want to keep polluting and are paying people to promote the burning of carbon-intensive resources.Gas companies are using influencers to promote gas stoves, when everyone knows that induction stovetops are better in every way.

Because so many people are concerned about how much carbon we dump into the air, there is a burgeoning grassroots movement trying to disconnect everyone from gas consumption. The video above is one such example, and as more people understand the state of our planet more people are switching from gas to electric solutions.

Further complicating things, the gas industry has, for decades, framed itself as a “cleaner” alternative to fossil fuels like coal and oil. “We should probably discuss the name of it: ‘Natural gas.’” says Panama Bartholomy, executive director of the nonprofit Building Decarbonization Coalition in California. “It has been perhaps one of the most successful marketing campaigns that we’ve seen from a large industry to call what is really a dangerous pollutant, something natural.”

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Electric Public Transportation is the Future, Not Cars

Good Street from Streetmix

Politicians and car makers will often tout that the future of sustainable transportation lies in electric vehicles. Let’s be clear: cars won’t save us. In fact, cars are responsible for a lot of death on our streets and for supply chains that cause great harm to the environment. Instead, electric public transportation is where we should put our focus and funding. Should we still replace gas sucking cars with electric, of course. Let’s just be honest with ourselves that single occupant vehicle solutions will not help us in the future.

More cars in cities mean more space taken for parking, less room and more danger for active modes and less efficient public transport. Plugging in a car doesn’t stop it from being a lethal machine or causing congestion.

There is still no clear and sustainable pathway to manage the e-waste generated by EVs. Electric cars are not “green”. They still use tyres which create massive waste streams. Tyre wear produces microplastics that end up in our waterways and oceans.

Although EVs use regenerative braking, which is better than traditional internal-combustion cars, they still use brake pads when the brakes are applied. Braking generates toxic dust composed of heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium and chromium. These heavy metals make their way to our streams and rivers, embedding themselves in these waterways forever.

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Green Your Garage

If you have a garage filled with tools and other oddities, you can easily make it a little nicer for you and the environment. The next time you do some cleaning you can think about what is clean for the rest of the environment. Of course, you’re going to want to properly dispose of pesticides as you should never use them in the first place. There are more things you can do too, like checking your tools to find out if the tools can be replaced by something with a smaller carbon footprint.

After the leaf blower, you might want to check on your lawn mower, chainsaw, snow blower, air compressor, and generator, if you have them. The gasoline engines in these pieces of equipment spew out greenhouse gases that are as concerning as the crud coming out of leaf blowers.

As for alternatives, electric or manual gear is the way to go. There are plenty of lists online that can guide you towards the best push mower, battery-powered chainsaw, electric snow blower, air compressor, or electric generator. My town has been having a craze for robotic lawn mowers recently. They don’t work on hills, but if your lawn is flat, consider one of these electric models. They are mesmerizing to watch, cut the grass in a random pattern, and, bonus points, you don’t have to push them around.

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