From Cup To Car

Image: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

Coffee gets us started every morning.  Now it gets your car started too.

With help from Shell Oil Company, bio-bean, a company that has been collecting London’s 220,000 tons of annually spent coffee grounds, put their new biofuel into the gas tanks of London’s famous double decker buses.  By partnering with large coffee shops like Costa Coffee and Caffe Nero, a steady stream of grounds will produce enough fuel to power a city bus for a year.

On the American front, Mano Misra’s , Susanta Mohapatra’s, and Narasimharao Kondamudi’s study has been published online in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.  Written by Mark T.Sampson, they report that waste coffee grounds provide a cheap, abundant, and environmentally friendly source of biodiesel fuel.  They found that spent coffee grounds contain between 11 and 20 percent oil by weight, which could add an estimated 340 million gallons of biodiesel to the world’s fuel supply.

In 2016, about 143.22 billion gallons of finished motor gasoline (a complex mixture of relatively volatile hydrocarbons with or without small quantities of additives, blended to form a fuel suitable for use in spark-ignition engines) were consumed in the United States.

The new “B20” coffee-based fuel smells like java and has the major advantage of being more stable than traditional biodiesel; due to coffee’s high antioxidant content.  Solids left over from the conversion can be converted to ethanol or used as compost.  The biofuel is 20% coffee oil, while the rest of the mix comes from fossil diesel.

Biofuels burn cleaner than fossil fuels, releasing less carbon into the atmosphere, but the production and harvesting of plants destined for fuel (like corn, wheat and sugarcane) can cancel out the benefits.  Using waste products—like coffee grounds—to create fuel minimizes damage to the environment on the production end, and reduces overloading of landfill.

Through a partnership with Argent Energy, many households in the UK have begun to use this in their homes.  This is a technology I want to hear more about.

Put Put Put Off You Go

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

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Butterfly Solar

As scientists seek ways to improve the efficiency of solar , some have increasingly turned to thin film solar cells. Such cells are lighter and more manageable than traditional crystal-based cells and are expected to be more efficient if engineers can find a way to get them to work for longer periods of time.  One of the roadblocks to improving the efficiency of is the high expense of motion hardware that tracks the sun.  In this new effort, the researchers took inspiration from the rose butterfly, found commonly in India.  It has soft black wings that warm the cold-blooded insect during cool periods.

To learn more about the , a team of researchers from California Institute of Technology and the Karlsruh Institute of Technology collected some samples and looked at them under an electron microscope.  They found that the wings were covered with scales pockmarked with holes.  In addition to making the wings lighter, the holes scattered the light striking them, which allowed the butterfly to absorb more of the sun’s heat.

In their paper, published in the journal Science Advances, the group explains their inspiration for studying the butterfly wings and the details of their improved solar cells.
Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-10-black-butterfly-wings-solar-cells.html#jCp

The researchers created similar structures in their lab using sheets of hydrogenated amorphous silicon sheets.  A top layer with extremely tiny holes of various sizes caused light to scatter and strike the silicon base below.   The design allowed for picking up roughly twice as much light as previous designs. The process took just five to 10 minutes.

Get off the fossil fuel grid!  Go butterfly solar.

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

Weather Wonders From NASA

NASA just released this spectacular animation of the atmosphere during hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean.

NASA: The Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO) at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has developed the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS), a family of mathematical computer models.  Combined with data from NASA’s Earth observing satellites, these supercomputer simulations enhance our scientific understanding of specific chemical, physical, and biological processes occurring in our atmosphere.

This GEOS simulation shows how Aerosols (fine dust, smoke and salt particles), move through the atmosphere to make hurricanes .  It is a huge step forward in our understanding of the earth’s atmosphere, weather and climate.

Watch the hurricanes (salt) and the vast plumes of dust coming off Africa, the western wildfire smoke, Hurricane Ophelia; an unusual hurricane moving NE as it picked up smoke from Portugal’s extensive fires streaming it north into the UK and Ireland as a post tropical cyclone.

Exciting and incredible work by NASA.

Look for more NASA GEOS videos on You Tube to learn about our climate from the experts.  https://www.youtube.com/watchv=M8PERZQQYhM     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goFNjIAWLfs

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

 

Extra Plastic Bags?

This Coop next to a highly littered bus stop in our neighborhood let me attach my really cool Bag Bottle to their fence in hopes of creating waste awareness while people wait for the bus.

The Bag Bottle is made of plastic soda bottles and stuffed with plastic bags. Dog owners, litter haters, or people who may just need a plastic bag are welcome to give a tug!

I easily collect a bag full of plastic litter everyday on my way to work.  I will be bringing my own so there will be plenty to inspire others.  Our Waste Matters will be starting a block sponsorship for those of us who want to keep plastic out of our environment.

In NYC, we failed to pass Ban the Bag legislation because people with less means would be disproportionately affected.  If their neighbors provided extra bags for them to use at anytime, maybe we could be Bag Free?!

How is your state doing?   http://www.bagtheban.com/in-your-state

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

Black Mayonaise

What Exactly Is the Black Mayonnaise at the Bottom of the Gowanus Canal?

Photo by Susan De Vries  by Craig Hubert

There are numerous mysteries about the Gowanus Canal. But the most baffling, not to mention terrifying, is the thick dark sludge that makes it way through the oily waters, that which has been called black mayonnaise.

Aside from its gross name — which is a pretty good descriptor, to be honest — there has rarely been an acceptable explanation of what black mayonnaise is, exactly, and how it is formed. So we reached out to Christos Tsiamis, the EPA’s Senior Project Manager for the Gowanus Superfund cleanup, and asked him to explain.

gowanus canal black mayonnaiseA core sample from the former First Street Basin near the BRT Power Station. Photo via EPA’s Gowanus Canal Facebook Group

Black mayonnaise is the “result of chemical waste that was discharged from the industries that operated along the canal as well as by New York City sewage and street runoff,” wrote Tsiamis in an email.

“The combination of the chemicals and sewage gave the sediment the soft texture of mayonnaise, while the combination of liquid tar from the manufactured-gas plants, petroleum products (such as motor and lubricating oils), decomposed organic matter and sewage gave to this sediment its black color.”

gowanus canal brooklyn superfund sitesPhoto by Hannah Frishberg

A 10-foot-high layer of black mayonnaise lays over the original native sediment at the bottom of the canal. But is it dangerous?

The answer is a resounding yes.

“It contains a multitude of chemicals (in the dozens) many of which are toxic and dangerous to human health upon repeated exposure or from consumption of fish that is caught at the canal (or at close proximity to it) over time,” wrote Tsiamis. This was determined by a risk assessment study conducted by the EPA in 2010.

Will the cleanup cleanse the canal of black mayonnaise forever? Two months of dredging, starting in December, is expected to permanently clean the bottom of the canal, according to Tsiamis. Meanwhile, the Gowanus’ two new underground holding tanks are expected to keep a good part of sewage and street run-off from overflowing into the canal during storms. “After the storm passes, the liquid held by these tanks will be pumped for treatment to the city’s treatment facilities,” he said.

Tsiamis says these measures will free the canal of black mayonnaise forever. But the EPA will be checking every five years anyway, just in case the substance inexplicably returns.

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

Earth Rights

Bolivia feels the challenge of Climate Change as snow capped Andes recede and water becomes more scarce

Bolivia’s “Law of Mother Earth”

“We believe that we cannot survive on this planet if we fail to see that human life cannot exist outside of nature.”

The Bolivian law that defends Mother Earth as a living system grants her a presence in a legal framework.  It is an important ideology that should be considered globally.

In highly urbanized areas, the built environment does a remarkable job of masking the resources that allow all forms of life to continue their existence on this planet.

As human populations grow, the majority of human activity will take place in urban areas.  Overcrowding brings traffic and exhaust, water quality and quantity issues, food shortages, air pollution, and a variety of natural disasters that destroy infrastructure and disrupt lives.   These issues can bring unrest, displacement, homelessness, war and death.

Bolivia’s law reestablishes deeply indigenous concepts concerning Earth within a political and legal framework.  It is a model for prioritizing the health of our planet and it should be configured into every nation’s environmental policies and sustainability goals.

The Law of Mother Earth outlines Seven Rights this planet is entitled to:

  1.  Life.  Maintenance of life systems’ integrity and the natural processes which sustain them, as well as the conditions for their renewal.
  2. Diversity of Life.   Preservation of the variety of beings that comprise Mother Earth, without being genetically altered or artificially modified in their structure in any way that threatens their existence, functioning and future potential.
  3. Water.  Preservation of the quality and composition of water to sustain and renew life systems and protection against contamination.
  4. Clean air.  Preservation of the quality and composition of air to sustain and renew life systems and protection against contamination.
  5. Equilibrium.  Maintenance or restoration of the inter-relation, interdependence, ability to complement and functionality of the components of Mother Earth, in a balanced manner for the continuation of its cycles and the renewal of its vital processes.
  6. Restoration.  Effective and opportune restoration of life systems affected by direct or indirect human activities
  7. Live free of  contamination.  Preservation of Mother Earth and any of its components with regards to toxic and radioactive waste generated by human activities.

The Law of Mother Earth will be exacted into policy via five strategies:

  1. Incorporation a prevention and managed response to natural disasters.
  2. Agricultural risk management to prevent diminished crop yields and food insecurity.
  3. Adopt risk management for disasters and climate change.  Develop informational networks to issue early warnings during natural crisis. Assist the agricultural industry and indigenous communities to plan according to climate conditions.
  4. Strengthen territorial management of organizations, public lands and any other local governmental bodies through the incorporation of risk management and adaption to climate change.
  5. Articulation between public and private scientific research sectors to share knowledge and co-ordinate research regarding vulnerabilities related to climate change.

Bolivia is dependent on the glaciers in the Andes mountains as a reliable water source.  Their disappearance has severe and dangerous consequences forcing people to face the challenges of how and where to access clean water. The New York Times, “a World Bank report concluded last year that climate change would eliminate many glaciers in the Andes within 20 years, threatening the existence of nearly 100 million people.”

andes

The images of snow-capped peaks we associate with the Andes mountain range are disappearing due to rising global temperatures. photo: New York Times

In an article from the Huffington Post, Peter Neill writes, “Change must begin somewhere, sometime; perhaps Bolivia is inventing the social model and role of governance that will demonstrate how we can transcend the global divisions and conflicts, beyond the destruction and despair that we feel, toward a harmonious, effective, efficient, and equitable society connected by the true value of nature as sustainer.  If so, should we not pay attention?”

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

Pie Hole Lovers Competition

Even though the following is littered garbage, I enjoy finding the huge variety of plates in their unwanted environments.  Now I see them everywhere.  Passersby and subway riders are stopping to watch me compose the images and some are asking me what I am doing.

Penelope and Martin contributed to this week’s collection so I invite all of you Pie Hole Lovers to send in your photos. ourwastematters@gmail.com

      

      

      

      

      

      

      

      

      

    

Some rats have been feasting on some of the plates.

Until next time,

Garbage Girl

Beauty Queens and Companies Contribute To Coastal Clean Up

Screen Shot 2017-10-06 at 5.20.49 PM

Half a million people worldwide joined The Ocean Conservancy  International Coastal Cleanup and raised awareness about the human impact of plastics on our oceans.

A bold new initiative on the world stage occurred!  Ocean Conservancy, the Trash Free Seas Alliance®, and Closed Loop Partners, with the support of world leading brands—including Procter & Gamble3MPepsiCo and plastic makers from the American Chemistry Council and the World Plastics Council—will create a new funding mechanism to raise over $150 million in the next five years targeted to improve waste collection, sorting and recycling markets in Southeast Asia (the world’s biggest polluters).  This combined effort helps reach a goal of cutting the amount of trash entering our oceans in HALF.  Many years went into working on this issue.  Because of this year’s support, The Ocean Conservancy was able to show the world that the public stands behind their dream of trash free seas®.

The Trash Free Seas Alliance is comprised of:

Ocean Conservancy, Algalita Marine Research and Education, The Coca-Cola Company, Covanta Energy, The Dow Chemical Company, ITW, Keep America Beautiful, The Marine Mammal Center, The Ocean Recovery Alliance, Project AWARE Foundation, Amcor, American Chemistry Council, Bank of America, Cox Enterprises, DANONE, Dart Container Corporation, Georgia Aquarium, Nature Works, Nestlé Waters NA, Procter & Gamble, REDISA, Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean, The Consumer Goods Forum, Vancouver Aquarium, Walmart, World Animal Protection, The World Plastics Council, World Wildlife Fund 

There are some very environmentally destructive companies making an effort to partner with environmental groups involved in this important cause. Visit their website to learn more.
www.trashfreeseas.org

Of the top ten countries responsible for plastic waste entering the ocean, six are in Asia, with China the top offender producing 2.22 million tonnes of plastic waste every year, and  Indonesia second at 1.29 million, according to Surya Chandak, a senior program officer at the United Nations Environment Program, quoted in local media. Chandak cited the region’s growing economies and populations as prime culprits.  The Philippines is third, Vietnam fourth, Thailand sixth and Malaysia eighth.

Miss Oceans Vietnam was designed to draw attention to the plastic pollution problem in the South China Seas.

Until next time,    

Garbage Girl

Rwanda and Kenya Plastic Pollution Leaders

Plastic bags get buried in the sand and become part of the beach.

Rwanda and Kenya are leading the world by eliminating a familiar problem: billions of plastic bags choking waterways and destroying entire ecosystems.  To fight this evil, all non-biodegradable plastic is banned from these countries.

At Kigali International Airport, a sign warns visitors that plastic bags will be confiscated.  Agents from the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) inspect travelers’ suitcases and discard all plastic films. Throughout the country, businesses have been forced to replace plastic carrier bags with paper ones.  The ban was a bold move. It paid off with an obvious improvement in clean countrysides, roadways, and water.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/15/rwanda-banned-plastic-bags-so-can-we

The United Nations, has begun a #CleanSeas campaign to eliminate the use of plastic microbeads and single-use plastic bags by 2022.   With more than 40 countries acting now to help meet this goal, there is no excuse for the rest of the world to wait.

Many other countries, states and cities are in the news because they are trying to deal with this horrific issue.

England imposed a 5-pence charge on plastic bags in 2015 and usage dropped 85 percent in the first nine months!

California became the first American state to ban plastic bags, in 2014.  State laws are slow to pass.  See where your state stands in the Ban the Bag push.   http://www.bagtheban.com/in-your-state

Gov. Andrew Cuomo blocked a New York City bill in 2014 to impose a 5-cent fee on plastic bags because less advantaged people would be unfairly targeted and the NYC economy is dependent on consumer convenience.  Early this year, Mr. Cuomo formed a task force to create passable legislation. That law cannot come soon enough.  The New York Department of Sanitation collects an average of 1,700 tons of plastic bags per week, costing $12.5 million per year in disposal expenses.    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/14/nyregion/cuomo-blocks-new-york-city-plastic-bag-law.html?mcubz=1

No bag is free of an environmental impact, whether that’s contributing to climate change, ocean pollution, water scarcity, or pesticide use. We tend to favor reusable bags in an attempt to reduce our chronic overconsumption, but they come with many associated problems.

Considering what we put in the bag at the store (unnecessary packaging, meat, products wrapped in plastic, single use products) and how we discard or use the bag after its achieved its original purpose has a real impact on the environment.

     
These books will open up a whole new world.  Color photographs, maps, and graphics explore one of the planet’s most dynamic environments—from tourist beaches to Arctic beaches strewn with ice chunks to steaming hot tropical shores.  The World’s Beaches tells how beaches work, explains why they vary so much, and shows how dramatic changes can occur on them in a matter of hours.  It discusses tides, waves, and wind; the patterns of dunes, washover fans, and wrack lines; and the shape of berms, bars, shell lags, cusps, ripples, and blisters.  This fascinating, comprehensive guide also considers the future of beaches, and explains how extensively people have affected them—from coastal engineering to pollution, oil spills, and rising sea levels.  The Beach Book tells sunbathers why beaches widen and narrow, and helps boaters and anglers understand why tidal inlets migrate.  It gives home buyers insight into erosion rates and provides natural-resource managers and interested citizens with rich information on beach nourishment and coastal-zone development.

Until next time,  

Garbage Girl