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06

Aug

Find a Farmer’s Market Near You

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Photo credits: djjewelz, Flickr 

We all love fresh produce. What better way than getting fruit and vegetables directly from your local farmer. In honor of National Farmers’ Week, gather some friends, grab your reusable bags and visit your neighborhood farmer’s market.

With over 8.200 listings in the USDA Farmers Market Directory, it’s easy to locate a market near you. Simply enter your zip code into the following link:

http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/mobile/mobile.html

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25

Jul

College Textbooks Unaffordability

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Could the spiraling cost of textbooks cause a ripple effect on the academic decisions of college students? A recent survey, “Fixing the Broken Textbook Market” conducted by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and the Student PIRGS in the fall of 2013, included over 150 universities and 2,039 participating students, revealed the following:

  • $1,200: the amount the average student spends annually on course materials

  • 65% of students surveyed decided against buying a textbook because it was too expensive

  • 800% is the amount the cost of textbooks has risen over the past 3 decades

  • 94% of students who had foregone purchasing a textbook worried about the future impact it would have on their grade

The textbook publishing model is a nearly $14 billion industry controlled by a handful of textbook publishers. As the publishing industry continues to consolidate and ultimately reduce price competition, the cost of textbooks will continue to rise. 

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Source: USPIRG.org

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23

Jun

Financial Implications of Climate Change

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In 2006, the world’s most authoritative climate economist, Lord Stern, a professor at the Grantham Institute, a research centre at the London School of Economics, wrote a hugely influential review on the financial implications of climate change. His report exposed some startling revelations pertaining to the economic models that have been used to calculate the fiscal fallout from climate change. Lord Stern’s review found the economic models used greatly underestimate the scale of the threat of climate change.

“It is extremely important to understand the severe limitations of standard economic models, such as those cited in the IPCC report, which have made assumptions that simply do not reflect current knowledge about climate change and its … impacts on the economy,”

- Lord Stern

The goal of his research was to shed light on these flawed economic models and for economists to strive for better models and thereby help policy-makers and the public to recognize the magnitude of the potential risks of climate change.

According to Dr. Simon Dietz, a colleague of Lord Stern, standard models are based on a false assumption that the risks are known and are small. In contrast, the new economic model goes beyond reporting only the potential damage to economic output and also includes damage to productivity as greenhouse gases reach dangerous levels.   

More information about their research is available, here: http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Working-Paper-180-Dietz-and-Stern-2014.pdf

See Also:

Climate Change: What is Real, Happening and Expected

The Next Industrial Revolution

What is Your Impact from Reuse?

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19

Jun

The Global Rise of Materials Consumption

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The continued extraction of materials is increasingly impacting our planet and leading to scarcity concerns. As the poorest 80 percent of the planet achieves a living standard that is equal to a third of what populations in rich countries possess, the planet should anticipate the growing consumption of materials for future generations.

Some interesting statistics about materials:

- the cement industry now accounts for about 5 percent of all carbon-dioxide emissions

- at least 6.4 million tons of plastic litter enter the oceans every year

- in the last 3 years China used more concrete than the U.S. used in the entire 20th Century

The ultimate conclusion; the planet cannot sustain another century of massive material growth. We need to limit the use of raw materials and do a better job with recycling, reusing and reducing our consumption.

For more on the subject, Vaclav Smil, a Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Manitoba and the author of Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization makes a compelling case in this video.

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08

Jun

Celebrating Our Oceans on World Oceans Day

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Our oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth’s surface and contain 97 percent of the planet’s water, yet less than 1 percent of the Earth’s water is fresh water and only 6 percent is drinkable. Today, as we celebrate our oceans, communities participate by attending events to raise awareness on World Oceans Day.

Following decades of burning fossil fuels, combined with the continued clear cutting of forests, we must shift our focus to the impacts from billions of tons of CO2 that are emitted annually. Unlike the role of trees in carbon sequestration, the ocean’s role as carbon sinks absorbing about 2 billion metric tons of carbon annually is a lesser known benefit of the oceans.  

Facts and Figures Courtesy of NOAA

• Oceans cover three-quarters of the Earth’s surface, contain 97 percent of the Earth’s water and represent 99 percent of the living space on the planet by volume.

• Oceans absorb about 30 percent of carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of global warming.

• Oceans contain nearly 200,000 identified species, but actual numbers may lie in the millions.

• Marine fisheries directly or indirectly employ over 200 million people.

• As much as 40 percent of the world oceans are heavily affected by human activities, including pollution, depleted fisheries and loss of coastal habitats.

Issues Facing Our Oceans:

One metric used to provide a snapshot of the trash filling our oceans is the Ocean Trash Index. By learning what is polluting our oceans, we can take action to prevent specific items from reaching the water in the first place.

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According to the EPA, over 380 billion plastic bags are used annually in the U.S. Of these, approximately 100 billion are plastic shopping bags, requiring at least 12 million barrels of oil to be manufactured that are disposed of annually. These bags and other plastics contribute to the increasing acidification of our oceans. Acidification results from an excess of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that increases the sea acidity as it reacts with seawater to form carbonic acid - also known as “the other CO2 problem.” In addition to combating pollution, every ton of CO2 the oceans remove from the atmosphere also contributes to the oceans increasing acidity. 

A 2013 study claimed acidity was increasing at a rate 10 times faster than in any of the evolutionary crises in the earth’s history.

"surface waters are changing much more rapidly than initial calculations have suggested. It’s yet another reason to be very seriously concerned about the amount of carbon dioxide that is in the atmosphere now and the additional amount we continue to put out."

- Jane Lubchenco, head of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

How We Can Help:

The carcass of an albatross full of colorful plastics and sea turtles deformed by 6-pack plastic are familiar images of pollution’s effects on marine creatures. While there is no simple solution, taking steps to change our behaviors including incorporating reusable shopping bags, while reducing and repurposing are important steps. In addition to the 3 R’s and daily efforts to make a difference, communities can participate by joining local beach cleanups held annually around the U.S. by various organizations. This year, the International Coastal Cleanup is scheduled on September 20, 2014. 

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04

Jun

The Real Life Impact of the New Clean Power Plan

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By Tamar Burton

The EPA’s State-by-State Collaboration for Climate Change

As part of the President’s Climate Action Plan, on June 2, 2014 the EPA proposed a new rule called the Clean Power Plan, to address roughly one-third of all domestic green-house gas emissions. The plan will effectively force power plants to cut carbon pollution by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, establishing the first-ever national carbon emissions limits.

If approved, the carbon savings impact is equivalent to removing two-thirds of all vehicles from America’s roads. From the perspective of the Health Care Act, the savings are attributed to preventing up to:

  • 490,000 missed work or school days

  • 6,600 premature deaths

  • 150,000 asthma attacks in children

According to Gina McCarthy, the EPA’s administrator, the plan is a “wake-up call” that will spur innovation, protect our health and environment, and fight climate change. The plan affords states flexibility to pick from a menu of policy options to set state-by-state targets for reducing carbon pollution from existing power plants. Compliance can be achieved by electing to shut down coal plants, installing clean technologies including solar and power, and energy-efficiency technology. States may elect to join the Northeastern or California cap-and-trade programs or choose to enact a state-level tax on carbon pollution.

“California is proof positive that states can fashion creative policies that improve their environmental and economic bottom line, and that’s exactly what will be needed to make EPA’s Clean Power Plan a durable and resounding success.”  

- Derek Walker, Associate Vice President of the US Climate and Energy Program for Environmental Defense Fund

The proposal was developed under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, which directs the EPA to set goals and allow states to submit plans to achieve those goals. To find out more, visit, http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards/clean-power-plan-proposed-rule

See also:

Making Reuse Convenient

What is Your Impact from Reuse?

Climate Change: What is Real, Happening and Expected

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01

Jun

The Millennial Economic Shift

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Source: The Brookings Institution

"A recent Intelligence Group study found that 64% of millennials said they would rather make $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they think is boring."

By 2025, millennials will represent 75 percent of the workforce, dominate corporate culture and hold the purchasing power of the U.S. economy.

The implications of this generationally-driven economic shift are disclosed in the Brookings study, “How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America” by co-authors Mike Hais and Morley Winograd.

The study shows that millennials are lending their support to socially responsible corporations. Here’s some insight about millennials from the study:

  • they are drivers for inclusion of social and ethical causes within the workplace

  • they favor corporations that foster programs where employees are recognized for external contributions “to better the planet”

  • they keep more assets in cash, and less in financial markets as they distrust financial institutions

  • they desire employers who support social or ethical causes they consider important

For more on the study, please download here.

See also:

Climate Change: What is Real, Happening and Expected

Food Labeling: Confuse and Conquer

Making Reuse Convenient

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27

May

The Spiraling Negative Economic Impact of Student Debt

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by Tamar Burton

In recent years, each graduating class has been bestowed with the title, “the most indebted”, and the class of 2014 is no exception. This summer, new graduates will enter the professional world strapped with an average student loan debt of $33,607. 

According to Bloomberg, the student debt drag is having a strong effect on the spending power of these 20-something consumers for large purchases. This may be part of a cultural shift as young graduates are failing to enter the housing market or purchase cars as they face lower expectations for future earnings.

The millennial generation represents 80 million members with a combined annual buying power of $200 billion and represent 25% of the population. The Census Bureau reports 20-somethings have taken the lead. For the first time since 1947, 22-year-olds are the most represented age group in America, with 23- and 21-year-olds claiming the second- and third-rank, and Baby Boomers now ranking fourth.

The impact of a growing millennial population, combined with a questionable disposable income, is having a significant effect on the future direction of our economy. 

See also:

What is Your Impact from Reuse?

Climate Change: What is Real, Happening and Expected

Tradepal Announces New Clinton Global Initiative to Make Reuse Convenient for College Students

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21

May

To Change the World, Start by Making Your Bed [Watch]

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On May 17, 2014, a distinguished alumni of UT Austin, Naval Adm. William H. McRaven, returned 37 years later to deliver the commencement address. He opened by framing the opportunity for change and focused graduates on their ability to make an impact on future generations.

The following excerpt provides a life motto of leadership and dedication.

"Start each day with a task completed.

Find someone to help you through life.

Respect everyone.

Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up – if you do these things, the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today and – what started here will indeed have changed the world – for the better.”

Watch the full commencement address below:

See Also:

The Next Industrial Revolution

What is Your Impact from Reuse?

Just TRADE It!

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08

May

Our commitment to our community

We understand that the most precious commodity that you have is your time. And for this, we promise to never interrupt your time spent on Tradepal with mindless ad targeting. We will also continue to preserve your privacy by not sharing your data.

This month marks the highest user engagement Tradepal has ever achieved as members have promoted contests, engaged Earth Day swaps and invited others to join them on the platform. I would like to thank every single member of our community for their continuous trust in our marketplace.

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We are currently working on an exciting new product line-up that will reduce the natural friction that marketplaces represent. Our engineering will continue to solely focus on enhancing your user experience on the Tradepal platform. Our goal is to make reuse convenient, seamlessly connecting you with a trading counterpart.

Trading items saves a significant amount of money. It also makes us, as a society, much more resilient and sustainable.

With best regards,

@karimguessous

P.S. As always, we invite you to share your thoughts and welcome your feedback. To contact us by email, contact@tradepal.com

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01

May

The Next Industrial Revolution

Tom Friedman makes some very compelling arguments regarding climate change.

On the next big global industry:

By 2050, the global population is expected to reach 9.6 billion people.

"When flat meets crowded, you don’t need to have any climate debate. We are going to burn up, choke up, heat up, and smoke up this planet faster than anyone can possibly imagine. That says something that’s indisputable. The next big global industry is going to be clean power clean water, clean tech. The only question is: Are we going to participate in it or not?

On the worst case scenario:

"Think of preparing for climate change as someone that prepared for the Olympic triathlon and didn’t make the Olympics but ended up healthier and more fit and able to thrive in today’s world."

For more, watch the following video:

See Also:

Climate Change:  What is Real, Happening, and Expected

What is Your Impact from Reuse?

Food Labeling: Confuse and Conquer

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29

Apr

Food Labeling: Confuse and Conquer!

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Ever wonder what the information on packaged foods really means? For brands, packaging attracts buyers seeking the images or words mentioned on the product. But for consumers it can translate into false claims and confusion. While the term ‘organic’ is tightly regulated, the term ‘natural’ is a buzzword to generate sales. But what about brands with products claiming to be “cage-free”, “pasture-raised”, “whole-grain, and no-hormones?

According to the global marketing research company Mintel, about 51% of Americans seek out “all natural” when shopping. In recent years big brands have faced multi-million dollar lawsuits for using the deceptive term as many consumers seek out natural products. Ingredients such as hydrogenated oils and other factory-made substances are not natural so new terms are entering the marketplace such as wholesome, nutritious and minimally processed.  

In 2013, a “food labeling modernization” bill was introduced to Congress with the goal of forcing the Food and Drug Administration to establish a single, standardized nutrition labelling system. In addition to front-of-package (FOP) food labeling system, if passed, the bill will require the FDA to update the definition of “healthy”, “natural” and the disclosure of any processes that fundamentally alter the food.


ABC US News | ABC Business News 

See also:

The Next Industrial Revolution

Just TRADE It!

Tradepal Announces New Clinton Global Initiative to Make Reuse Convenient for College Students

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27

Apr

Early Conservation Efforts and America’s Urban Parks

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As the final day of National Parks Week has arrived, we reflect on the amazing contributions of the father of American landscape architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted. Born in 1822, Olmsted is credited with designing some of our nation’s most beloved landscapes, urban parks and academic institutions.

A visionary, his career in landscape architecture began in 1857 when Calvert Vaux convinced him to work on the design of Central Park in New York City. A modest man, he considered himself a public servant with the task of shaping cities by stabilizing environments. The goal being to keep nature in cities. Through collaborations with engineers and architects he made scenic landscapes appear naturally occurring while repairing the watersheds and marshes to connect public parks with winding pathways to extend the benefits of green spaces.

Over his lifetime, he was asked to carry out over 500 commissions. He believed nature offered healing effects on individuals by relieving the pressures of urban life, and that public parks are essential to the ideal of democracy. The hour-long documentary, “Olmsted and America’s Urban Parks” explores the early conservation efforts and the formation of America’s first parks during the late 19th century.

Watch Part 1 of the documentary below or view the full version, here

Image: Central Park, NY

See Also:

The Real World Impact of Climate Change

Would You Like Bottled or Tap?

What is Your Impact from Reuse?

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26

Apr

Would You Like Bottled or Tap?

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Source: http://www.tappedthemovie.com/

Did you know that a lot of bottled water is actually “tap” water? The documentary “Tapped”, focuses on the lead character — bottled water, and examines whether clean drinking water is a basic human right or a commodity to be bought and sold. 

Some facts:

Tapped invites audiences to go behind-the-scenes and examine the role of the bottled water industry. The narrative is framed by commentary from the FDA, citizens from the communities where water is extracted for bottling, as well as testimony from bottled water lobbyists. The takeaways include a better understanding of the importance of clean drinking water, the effects of bottling on our health, its impact on our oceans, and our growing reliance on oil.

Watch the movie:

See also:

Sustainability vs. Storage Wars Epidemic

Engaging Consumers to Create a Circular Economy

Just TRADE It!

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24

Apr

The Real World Impact of Climate Change

The 45th annual Earth Day celebrations culminated with events that drew hundreds and thousands of attendees who learned to be better stewards of the planet, committed to living sustainably, and took action to reduce our impact on the environment.

The innovative docuseries, “Years of Living Dangerously”, is lending support to building awareness about the impact of humans on the environment through a 9-part documentary of one-hour segments. In each episode, the focus is on the specific issues surrounding climate change through the people being affected as they seek solutions and try to understand the new realities.  

Years of Living Dangerously, Episode 1:

The team of science advisors for the series includes Joe Romm, Heidi Cullen and James Hansen among other leading climatologists. With each episode, the collaboration seeks to de-polarize the debate by using a new approach that seeks to open up communication and humanize the climate change situation through relatable real-world issues. The series seeks to expose audiences to the real-world impacts of climate change to provide them with the framework to ask their leaders, educators and government, “What can we do about this issue?”

See also:

Making Reuse Convenient

What is Your Impact from Reuse?

Just TRADE It!

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