Responsible Building and Nature…

When Expedia, the online travel group, built their headquarters in Seattle they hired Surfacedesigns to restore and incorporate nature as a big part of the development. This meant two bays filled with garbage had to be replaced with new soil for reseeding of natural growth. There is a shift in the view of developers in so much as they are not just preserving nature but, in some cases, restoring it according to the founding partners of Surfacedesigns. The waterfront was to have a bike path, a soccer field and driftwood benches to view the ocean. The aim of Expedia was to move away from a manicured look to one of a more natural setting. Similar projects are under way along the Brooklyn waterfront where a pair of high-rises “River Ring” will include tidal pools and marshes to encourage herons. In the Rockaways a nature preserve is to be created from an old parking lot. Many developers now feel it is their duty to build responsibly which means working with and around nature.

Styrofoam Eating Larvae…

The Darkling Beetle, which is in the form of a 2-inch worm, is capable of eating and digesting Styrofoam. Although their diet mainly consists of wheat bran, they have managed to gain weight and not expire after the consumption of this inorganic substance. If scientists can understand what is behind this ability, it could aid in solving the problem of what to do with the excess Styrofoam being produced. When given antibiotics the larvae were unable to consume more of the substance. This led scientists to believe that the antibiotics were destroying a particular microbe in their digestive system that was responsible for digesting Styrofoam. Studies in Australia with the mealworm found similar results. These worms were able to consume the Styrofoam packing peanuts without it doing any harm to their system.

https://www.intelligentliving.co/styrofoam-eating-mealworms-absorb-toxic-additive/https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/beetle-larvae-can-survive-on-polystyrene-alone-67251

175 Nations make a Treaty Plan…

This past month, 175 nations agreed to come up with a global treaty to deal with plastic pollution. The aim of the treaty is to improve recycling, curb plastic production and eliminate single use plastic products. Hopefully the details of the treaty will be finished by 2024. Only 9% of plastic is now recycled with the bulk going to landfills. At present plastics are manufactured from fossil fuels which is responsible for the release of about 4.5% of green house gases. The proposal was put together through the efforts of Peru and Rwanda. Rwanda has led the way with strict laws banning import, production, and use of plastic bags and packaging. The countries involved are looking to the Paris Accord to establish a time frame in which all countries must comply. This would be a major step in addressing microplastics, the breakdown of plastic, which is now filling our oceans.

The Trusty Banana…

The average American consumes about 27lbs. of bananas a year. What happens to all that waste? Since the 13th century Japan has made use of the silky fibers of the unfurled leaves to make fabric. A banana plant will produce fruit only once in its lifetime which leaves the rest of the plant available to make yarn. It is referred to as Musa fabric and has a texture as soft as cotton and as silky as silk. Yet it is both water and tear resistant. More recently it is now being used to make sneakers and light summer dresses. Clothing from this fabric has been used by H&M. The world of fabrics made from food waste is expanding rapidly. You can now find items such as eye glass frames made from spud waste, silk lace from orange rinds, sneakers made from apple core waste and a leather substitute constructed from mushrooms.