All posts by SustainableRossmoor

MAY film: THE TRUE COST

May Film: THE TRUE COST (of Fast Fashion)

When: Wednesday, May 8 at 7 pm  Location: Peacock Hall

THE TRUE COST makes an excellent case for examining the Fast Fashion market more closely and adding up what’s really gained and lost. Fast Fashion is a mode of business that requires millions of new products to reach the market each week at incredibly low prices. It has pushed into overdrive an industry that was already guilty of pollution, waste, and worker abuse. It’s not a glamorous scene, but it ends by shining a light on a promising new trend.

Fashion discarded

Scrupulous, Comprehensive Research

Scrupulously researched, this film is one of the most comprehensive documentaries ever made about fashion’s dark side, taking the viewer from the expansive cotton fields of Texas to the showrooms of Paris and London, to the factories in Bangladesh and Southeast Asia where workers are beaten into submission and sometimes killed because they organize for better pay and safe working conditions.

Counter Trends Triggered by FF Excesses

The film also shows examples of modern farmers, designers, and manufacturers who dare to defy global trends and do business on an ethical basis, forgoing cutthroat competition in favor of a more collaborative approach. The film is partially responsible for the burgeoning ethical fashion movement around the world.

An optional discussion follows the film.

92 minutes in duration, with SDH captions.

Trailer: http://youtu.be/OaGp5_Sfbss

STEMming the Tide


By James Ware

It’s hard to be an optimist these days.

The United States is mired in cultural division, dissension and downright anger. The Trump Administration has pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord.  Administration appointees seem intent on attacking our environment just about every day.  The Administration is trying to allow oil companies to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It is gutting anti-pollution regulations put in place to prevent the dumping of toxic waste into our rivers and lakes and the emission of toxic gasses into the air we breathe.

Yet, I remain hopeful. I believe we will see meaningful changes in Washington in 2019.  I also believe deeply in the creativity and commitment of our younger citizens. These youthful activists are increasingly applying their energy to environmental causes. They are also demanding racial justice, gender equality and gun safety.

The STEM Initiative

Perhaps the biggest contributor to this new level of environmental awareness is the educational initiative known as STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The STEM focus began with President Barack Obama’s 2011 State of the Union speech.  He called for upgrading science and mathematics education programs as “…our generation’s Sputnik moment.”

STEM skills promote practical solutions

Why is STEM so important? For me, it is the fact that STEM initiatives are not just about teaching more science and math courses. STEM’s goal is to integrate the scientific method and critical thinking into every curriculum area.  This includes history, biology, social studies and even the arts.

In fact, there is now a more recent movement to include the arts explicitly into STEM curriculum planning.  Some now call the initiative the STEAM program, because it adds “fuzzy” topics like creativity and design thinking to the skills students are encouraged to develop.

The STEM/STEAM approach is really about making science and math interesting and fun.  It does this by applying critical and innovative thinking to real-world problems. STEM students don’t just learn the periodic tables or conduct dull laboratory experiments. Their teachers encourage them to tackle significant challenges outside their classrooms and to develop creative solutions that actually can make a difference in the quality of human life.

Two STEM Successes

Consider these two examples of how young students are applying their STEM skills to solve real problems:

Microplastics

Melanie Quan is currently a sophomore at Los Lomas High School in Walnut Creek. Last year, as a freshman, she was the national winner of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Patrick H. Hurd Sustainability Award” for her project that developed a simple way to remove microplastic particles from water using an electrostatic filter (for a detailed discussion of plastic pollution, see Brad Waite’s “Earth Matters” column: https://sustainablerossmoor.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=2446&action=edit

Ms. Quan described her project at a Sustainable Rossmoor members’ meeting last August. We were all impressed not only with the quality of her solution to the significant pollution coming from microplastics, but also with her maturity and her presentation skills. If she is at all typical of her peers, the planet will be in good hands when her generation takes charge of our future.

Styrofoam

And for a second example, take a look at this TED talk from March 2017 by Ashton Cofer, then an 8th-grader at Gahanna East Middle School in Ohio: http://www.ted.com/speakers/ashton_cofer

It upset Cofer and several classmates to see so much Styrofoam waste littering beaches and garbage dumps.  They knew Styrofoam essentially does not decompose. However, when they learned Styrofoam, or polystyrene, is over 90 percent carbon, they got an idea. They figured out that heating and treating styrofoam with simple chemicals would turn the trash into an activated charcoal filter that could be used to purify water.

Now that is a double win if ever there was one!

Ashton and his team won the Scientific American Innovators Award, sponsored by Google. Not only that, they have received several patents for their design.  They’ve been awarded grants in excess of $25,000 to continue their research and turn those patents into viable products. And they were only 14 years old.

The Future Is in All Our Hands
STEM transfers lab skills to address real world issues and problems

“Kids are born scientists,” says Scientific American Editor-in-Chief Mariette DiChristina, “They ask great questions, and we should foster their efforts to learn the answers firsthand.”

I find these stories both inspiring and humbling. We are fortunate that young people today not only care about the environment but are actively tackling such globally important problems. These kinds of stories make me an optimist, in spite of the recent reports that we are running out of time to prevent a global climate disaster.

However, the kids can’t stave off disaster by themselves. Solving our global climate crisis is going to take a whole lot more than brilliant teenagers applying their STEM education. We have much to do, and many miles to travel before we can sleep in peace. STEM is helping, but every one of us has to contribute our own creativity and design thinking to everything we do, every day, if we are to survive another 20 years.

Courtesy of the Rossmoor News, Jan. 16, 2019.  Email Jim Ware at: jim@jimware.com

How Can We Be Sure Our Food Is Safe?

By Joy Danzig

Is the food we buy safe to eat?  Is food containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) really safe for consumption?  Are organically grown foods worth the additional cost?  Why aren’t food producers required to disclose GMO related information on food labels?

There is an on-going debate around the subject of GMOs.  GMO proponents emphasize the advantages of GMOs, e.g. increased crop yields, resistance to herbicides and pesticides.  Skeptics question whether such “benefits” are worth the trade-offs.  A significant factor in the debate centers around crops genetically modified to be impervious to glyphosate pesticides, such as Roundup.

The Background

Characterization of a genetic modification

An organism is genetically modified when genetic material from another organism is injected into its DNA. Both organisms are typically unrelated to each other.  Genetic engineers must force the DNA from one organism into another, because of natural barriers typically prevent transfer of DNA.  This is done by using viruses or bacteria to “infect” animal or plant cells with new DNA, or by firing the foreign DNA into a target cell with a special gun.

The rationale for growing GM crops is herbicides, such as Roundup, control weeds on a large scale. and the crops had to resist the herbicide to flourish.  Monsanto developed “Roundup Ready” seeds to sell to farmers.  Unlike traditionally cultivated seeds, farmers must purchase GMO modified seeds annually.

Monsanto’s Monopoly

By 2007, Monsanto established a virtual monopoly.  Its American Seeds, Inc. sold the most crop seeds in the United States.  The biochemical industry claimed GM crops, easily grown on a large scale, would provide enough food for ever-growing worldwide demand.  Critics say global food production is sufficient, but distribution is inadequate.  As with other commodities, corrupted agents disrupted the distribution of food.

As weeds mutate, growing stronger, resisting Roundup, they require more powerful, more toxic herbicides. A similar pattern occurs in insects, requiring more powerful, toxic pesticides.

Biotech companies, however, have not acknowledged the effects these modified foods have on human and animal consumption.  A GM Monsanto corn was found to have high concentrations of a neurotoxin.  Monsanto withdrew an application for its approval in Europe in 2009, after regulators raised safety questions.  No such withdrawal happened in the United States. Crops most often modified are soy, corn, canola (largely Canadian), sugar beets and alfalfa.  GMO soy, corn and alfalfa, used as animal feed, have resulted in GMO-contaminated meat and milk.  GM soy and corn derivatives contain additives in foods commonly consumed.

Concern Is Growing

The film “Modified” depicts an avid gardener’s concern that Canada and the United States do not require GMO labels on foods with GMO additives.  Worldwide, 64 countries require GMO labeling.  Her daughter contacted Health Canada repeatedly.  Sadly, the agency didn’t respond.  Sustainable Rossmoor featured the film in Rossmoor on Nov. 27, 2018.  In case you missed it, here’s a link: http://www.modifiedthefilm.com

Annie Taylor, a biology major at Middlebury College in Vermont, investigated Monsanto’s apparent evasion of regulatory oversight.  She attributes some of Monsanto’s success to the “revolving door” of employment between Monsanto and agencies regulating its products.  The regulatory agencies include: the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Notably, the Federal Government invalidated Vermont’s GMO labeling law, effective July 1, 2016.  The Federal Government required all states abide by its guidelines, which are confusing and inconsistent.  They also substitute the term “bioengineered” (BE) for “genetically modified” (GM).  Taylor’s paper, “The Evolution of Monsanto” by can be found on Middlebury’s Political Ecology of GMOs blog site: http://sites.middlebury.edu/politicalecologyofgmos/

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), based in the United States, recently published information concerning Roundup (primarily glyphosate).  EWG reported finding glyphosate in virtually all non-organic oat-containing foods.  The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined glyphosate is a likely cause of cancer. Information about the effects of genetically modified foods on human and animal health is growing, and documentation linking GM crops and chronic diseases is growing. For EWG’s website: https://www.ewg.org

Medical Concerns

Recently, physicians linked a growing number of diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease and other digestive disorders, to GM foods.  Children are especially vulnerable.  Researchers also report dangerous food allergies, asthma, eczema, neurodevelopmental diseases, such as autistic spectrum disorder, and obesity.

Developing internal organs in children are more susceptible to damage

In a 2018 GMO Science article, “We Can Turn Children’s Health Around,” Dr. Michelle Perro, an integrative (holistic) pediatrician practicing for over 37 years, wrote, “A staggering 1 in 2 American children now has a potentially lifelong disease. For the first time in modern history, children will be less healthy than their parents and will most likely live shorter lives.”  To access the GMO Science website: https://www.gmoscience.org

In 2017, Dr. Perro and medical anthropologist Vincanne Adams co-authored, “What is Making Our Children Sick? How Industrial Food is Causing an Epidemic of Chronic Illness and What Parents (and Doctors) Can Do About It.”  For more information about Dr. Perro: https://www.gordonmedical.com/team/michelle-perro-m-d/

In an interview, available online, with Jeffrey Smith, author, filmmaker and founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology (https://responsibletechnology.org/), Perro details her treatments and their results in patients and their families.  Perro also explains how toxins in GM foods pass into the circulatory system, due to intestinal permeability (“leaky gut”).   From the circulatory system, toxins may pass through the blood-brain barrier, leading to mental and emotional syndromes.  Her first-line treatment is for families to maintain an organic diet, which often produces immediate relief.  Smith’s extensive research corroborates much of Dr. Perro’s findings.

With awareness regarding GM foods, often containing glyphosate, reading labels, choosing organic, we can achieve food safety for ourselves, family and friends.

Courtesy of Rossmoor News, January 2, 2019.  Email Joy Danzig at joyfuld@gmail.com

Use of Plastics Is Making Us and Planet Sick

By Brad Waite

The use of plastics has created increasingly harmful effects across the globe.

A previous Earth Matters post (see “Plastics: A Two-Edged Sword“), pointed out plastic takes, on average, about 400 years to degrade.  As plastic degrades, it continually emits greenhouse gases, especially methane, the primary cause of climate change.  Such damage to our environment is cause enough for us, as a society, to radically reduce, if not out-right eliminate, our use of plastic.  It is especially critical to eliminate single-use plastics such as water bottles, take-out food containers, product containers and wrapping, disposable flatware, straws, etc.

Single-use and other plastics adversely affect the health of humans and other living creatures.

Microplastics Are Everywhere

As plastic degrades over time, through its exposure to sunlight, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. Eventually those pieces become so small they become microplastic particles.  Eventually these micro plastics become too small for humans to see with the naked eye. Those pieces end up almost everywhere, including in our water, our air and our soil.

Health Effects on Humans
Discarded plastic bottles degrading in water

For example, I read an article recently reporting the results of studies of plastic in tap water. It reported 84 percent (84%) of tap water, worldwide, tested positive for containing plastic. In the United States, 93 percent (93%) of the samples tested positively, primarily because the United States uses far more plastic than almost anyone else in the world. Thus, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the vast majority of Americans tested positive for plastic in their feces. This is a significant health issue because the chemicals those plastics are made from leech into our bodies, causing a wide range of health issues such as hormone disruption, asthma, cancer, obesity and insulin resistance, among others.

Plastics in the Food Chain

But humans aren’t the only ones whose health is impacted. These microplastic pieces are mistaken as food by a variety of wildlife, especially fish. This not only impacts the health of the fish, but also our own health when we eat the fish. I suspect these days almost everything we eat has some amount of plastic in it, either from plastic used in the production process, to the plastic container and wrapping it comes in, to the plastic plates frequently used to serve it on. And world-wide, we humans do a poor job of recycling our plastic, which is why vast amounts end up in our rivers and oceans. The most recent issue of Central Contra Costa Sanitary District’s newsletter, Pipeline, contains this statement: “If plastic production isn’t curbed, plastic pollution will outweigh fish pound for pound by 2050.”

Take Action – There’s No Time Like the Present

I ended my prior column on this topic by saying, “I realize how we all became addicted to using plastics. Most of them make our lives a bit better in some way, from plastic bags at the grocery store, plastic beverage bottles, even the plastics used to make our synthetic clothing. They’ve become so ubiquitous in our lives that we don’t stop to realize the price that we as humans are paying to use them. I suggest we each start by taking an inventory of all the plastics in our lives. Then decide which we can limit our use of or stop using altogether. We must start now.”

Legislative Action – International and Local

Recently the European Parliament voted to ban the 10 most common single use plastic items, including beverage bottles, plates, cutlery, straws and drink stirrers, as well as to require a significant reduction in other items.

Fortunately, concerted actions have also started locally.  The Walnut Creek City Council began deliberating a ban on plastic straws.  Several Rossmoor residents addressed the City Council at its meeting, encouraging the City to broaden its scope to include most single-use plastic. Please consider writing or calling the City to add your support to the efforts on this ban.

Personal Action

What else can you do?  Here are some of the actions I’m taking that you could consider.  I’ve drastically reduced the times I use the store-supplied plastic produce bags unless they are bio-degradable.  I choose to bring my own washable mesh bags.  I now include the amount and type of packaging in my purchase decisions whenever I buy anything.

When I do end up with a plastic container, I reuse it as many times as I can.  Then recycle it when I no longer can use it.  I’ve stopped using plastic plates, cutlery and glasses.  When I do need disposable items such as those, I buy ones that are compostable, not plastic.  I spend a little extra money when I buy clothing and get items made completely of natural fibers.  What else can you think of that you can and will do to help us all?

Courtesy of Rossmoor News, December 12, 2018. Email Brad Waite at bradwaite@com-cast.net

Groundwater Adds to Flooding Risks in Bay Area

by Judith Schumacher-Jennings

As sea levels rise, the water beneath our feet will be rising too.  Rising oceans will punish shorelines hit by increasingly powerful storms.  Salt water will inundate rivers further upstream. The rising seas will also push groundwater closer to the surface, exacerbating flooding throughout coastal regions, like the Bay Area.

With all the dire warnings about rising sea levels, it’s probably easy to envision how rising seas will overtop existing shorelines.  Watching television coverage of Hurricanes Florence and Michael in 2018, it’s also easy to understand how more powerful storms increase storm surges and create devastation farther and farther inland.

Those are the obvious impacts of rising oceans.

Scientists are also observing increased urban riverine flooding due to extreme precipitation events, such as an atmospheric river or in years of El Nino. Forecasting models show both phenomena will occur more frequently in the future.

New Research on Groundwater

Compounding these issues, scientists now report the amount of water underground will contribute to flooding.  New research shows the groundwater table must be considered to create a more accurate understanding of the potential for flooding.

Ellen Plane and Abby Mohan presented the new research at the 2018 Bay Delta Science Conference in Sacramento. The Nov. 8, 2018 edition of Maven’s Notebook, a website devoted to California water issues, had extensive coverage of the presentations. Ellen Plane is from the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley and Abby Mohan is a marine geographer and Geographic Information System (GIS) analyst at Silvestrum Climate Associates. Link to Maven’s Notebook: https://mavensnotebook.com

Groundwater Levels Are Up and Down

Shallow groundwater depth varies with large rainfall events, periods of drought and tidal influences near shorelines. In addition, groundwater levels vary seasonally with the water table at its highest during the rainy season and falling during the drier months.

A saturated water table heightens flooding risks

As sea levels rise, the saltier bay water along the coastline will push the fresher groundwater layer up creating a rise in the groundwater table. The groundwater will likely rise to the surface and pond, creating emergent flooding. This will particularly occur during wet years. Saturated ground will create emergent ponds in areas that extend well beyond the areas where sea level rise is likely to flood.

In New Orleans and in the Delta with similar soil to the Bay Area, pumping has had little success in mitigating flooding because it causes subsidence (land to sink), which could be even more pronounced in areas of fill.

Emergent Groundwater Flooding

Groundwater will displace impervious surfaces, pushing the surface up, cracking and breaking it apart as the water finds its way out. If the groundwater table were well below a concrete parking lot there would be no issue. But if the groundwater table lies immediately underneath the concrete, water would find a way to get into the cracks and cause infrastructure instability and flooding.

Additionally, rising groundwater will cause inflow and infiltration into wastewater pipes, causing backups. Underground systems need redesign to be more waterproof and more resilient, not only to sea level rise, but to rising groundwater.

Effective Planning Must Consider Groundwater

New building regulations to address the potential of rising groundwater could result in a requirement for additional FEMA flood insurance, adding to the cost of housing. As sea levels rise and intrude farther inland, the interface between the salt water and fresh water will rise and push the fresh water lens upward, especially in a shallow unconfined coastal aquifer areas. This rise will potentially cause emergence and inundation in unexpected areas, not directly connected to salt water.

The East Oakland area is not directly connected to the bay. Yet the area could experience ponding from groundwater emergence alone. In the East Palo Alto area there is a lot of high-value development, such as the Google campus. Adaptation planning is already taking place, but its focus must not be limited to preventing direct inundation.  Such a singular focus would not address the ponding from groundwater behind the levee. It could become a cost-prohibitive and ineffective project if the additional threat from groundwater is not taken into account.

The Bay Area Is Very Vulnerable
San Francisco Bay Infill Development         Photo by Paul Moderacki

A lot of development around the Bay Area is built on artificial unconsolidated fill. Marin County, especially around San Rafael, has high groundwater and direct inundation threats from sea level rise. As a result there would be a higher liquefaction risk during a seismic event.

There is a housing crisis around the Bay Area, especially in Silicon Valley. When locating new developments, planning must consider emergent groundwater. The combination of direct inundation and groundwater emergence on coastal development will mean increased flooding.

There is a lot of contamination in the soil around the Bay Area. As sea levels rise, those contaminants are going to become mobilized and cause public health threats around the Bay.

Therefore we need to start shifting how we think about sea level rise planning to include this additional threat of rising groundwater. Adaptation and resilience measures must consider all three flooding components.

Watch a nine minute time lapse of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane season: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=547&v=3j1_gxTnJok

Courtesy of the Rossmoor News, November 28, 2018. Email Judith Schumacher-Jennings at sjmadrone@sonic.net

March SR film: EDGE OF THE WILD

March film: EDGE OF THE WILD

WHEN: Wed, March 13, 7:00-8:30   WHERE: Peacock Hall

Over eight years in the making, this inspiring local environmental drama follows a fight by citizens to uphold the Endangered Species Act. The objective is to reverse a national policy that would allow a local landowner to destroy the endangered Mission Blue butterflies’ habitat on San Bruno Mountain. This is an area of remarkably intact wilderness that is just one mile south of San Francisco, and it’s completely surrounded by urbanization.

We travel the mountain’s native canyons and hillsides and meet Michele Salmon. She is a lifelong resident of the small town of Brisbane, located on the mountain. In the 1960s, Michelle‘s family played a major role in thwarting a real estate developers’ plans to scrape off the top of the mountain for a new city. The film follows her as she continues her parent’s legacy.

Endangered Butterfly — San Bruno Mtn.

Eventually, in return for a permit, the landowners agree to pursue specific management protections for endangered and threatened species. This amendment to the Endangered Species Act is especially crafted for Mount San Bruno Mountain and is called a habitat conservation plan (HCP). Since then, HCP‘s have been used in over a thousand areas in almost every state, affecting wilderness preservation across the country. In time, the County of San Mateo purchased 80% of the mountain.

The film is 60 minutes. Captions are used.

Trailer: https://youtu.be/l9AJezPBlt0

Details about the three species of butterflies on the mountain that are protected by the Endangered Species Act: http://www.mountainwatch.org/butterflies-and-wildlife

Living Room Conversations for Sustainability

Engaging with friends and neighbors we may disagree with about complex sustainability topics like climate change was one of the highlight topics at the February 2019 Sustainable Rossmoor (SR) general meeting. Joan Blades described Living Room Conversations and facilitated small-group conversations.

The small-group conversations gave attendees insights to rebuild civil discourse across ideological, cultural and political party lines. The conversations help embrace shared values. Topics included climate change, recycling and composting, and reducing plastic waste.

These conversations increase understanding and reveal common ground. And sometimes even help us to discuss possible solutions.

SR Steering Committing will be looking into information and training related to constructive dialogue using Living Room Conversations.

Living Room Conversations is a national organization committed to encouraging conversations. Joan Blades is the co-founder of Living Room Conversations. She is the co-founder of several nonprofit organizations, such as MomsRising.org, MoveOn.org and allsides-forschools.org.

Blades is a co-author of “The Custom-Fit Work-place,” winner of a Nautilus book award in 2011. She authored “The Motherhood Manifesto.” “The Motherhood Manifesto” won the Ernesta Drinker Ballard Book Prize in 2007. She was a software entrepreneur and a co-founder of Berkeley Systems – best known for the flying toaster screen saver and the computer game “You Don’t Know Jack.” She is also an attorney.

Read the Rossmoor News article about the February meeting. See pages 5B and 16B. Rossmoor News January 30 article about Joan Blades (see page 5B and 16B,

Benefits of Wetlands

By Jennifer Mu

Politicians love to use “drain the swamp” as a campaign slogan. It’s beyond frustration when I hear on the news the repeated chanting of “drain the swamp” by politicians. Sadly, it perpetuates the popular misconception that swamps are wastelands and of little use. The truth is, swamps, wetlands and coastal estuaries are extremely beneficial. In fact, they are among the most valuable ecosystems on Earth.

Wetlands with Great White Herons
Swamp and Wetland Benefits

Freshwater wetlands and swamps and coastal wetlands provide a multitude of benefits. Wetlands enhance the food chain and provide habitat for wildlife. Two-thirds (66.6%) of the fish and shellfish commercially harvested worldwide are linked with wetlands. Swamps also improve water quality. Wetlands filter chemicals and sediment out of nearby rivers and lakes before discharging the water into the ocean.

Swamps also serve as natural flood control barriers. When there is excess water swamps work like a sponge, absorbing much of the water before it reaches farms and urban developments. Saltwater swamps and tidal salt marshes help anchor coastal soil and sand. During hurricanes, coastal wetlands slow down storm surges, weakening the force of the water hitting the shores. Inland, freshwater wetlands soak up torrential rains, moderating the effects of flooding.

Before the enactment of environmental laws to protect wetlands in the 1970s, almost half (50%) of the wetlands in this country disappeared. Most were drained and/or filled in for development.

New Orleans – After Katrina
Katrina’s Lesson

Remember Katrina? The 2005 hurricane destroyed the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida. Katrina claimed 1,800 lives and caused close to $100 billion in damages. New Orleans sustained the worst damage. The scale of the disaster was later attributed to the destruction and disappearance of much of the region’s wetlands.

In New Orleans’ case, the loss of swamps and marshes was largely due to the infamous Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet (MRGO) canal.  This 76-mile canal was an artificial shipping channel built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the mid-20th century.  Its construction destroyed lush, fresh-water cypress swamps, including the 30,000-acre Central Wetlands, which is only 15 minutes away from the city’s French Quarter. Between 1982 and 1992, about 1.6 million acres of wetlands on nonfederal lands were lost; 57 percent (%) of these wetlands were converted into land for development and 20 percent (%) were converted into agriculture land. See more about the MRGO: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippi_River–Gulf_Outlet_Canal

Coastal wetlands help protect people and buildings
Wetland Restoration

After Katrina, wetland restoration received a renewed focus. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website lists five major coastal wetland protection/restoration programs – Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay, San Francisco Bay Delta Watershed and the National Estuary Program.  The EPA is also partnering with broad coalitions of federal, state and municipal and private nonprofit agencies to implement these programs. See about the EPA’s wetlands initiatives: https://www.epa.gov/wetlands

Sandy’s Lesson

Hurricane Sandy, despite its widespread destruction, demonstrated the benefits of wetland conservation. In 2017, a study found coastal wetlands saved $625 million worth of property damage during 2012 Hurricane. Thus, wetlands reduced the cost of damages by 22 percent (22%) in more than half the zip codes along the East Coast in Sandy’s wake. In sum, wetlands spared hundreds of homes and thousands of miles of roads from more damage.

Trump’s Wetland Policy-Reversal-In-Progress

Unfortunately, the Trump Administration has consistently cut funding for these programs since taking office. Trump’s 2019 fiscal year budget would stop funding programs to restore water quality in the Gulf of Mexico, Puget Sound and other large water bodies. Funding for the Chesapeake Bay program would see a 90 percent (90%) reduction, from $72 million to $7 million. A similar 90-percent (90%) cut in the Great Lakes Program  would decrease funding from $300 million to $30 million.

Obviously, such policies run counter to destructive weather events of the past two decades. Hurricanes are more frequent and much more powerful. Additionally, 100-year floods are now the norm. It is vital our government continues to fund the work to protect and restore wetlands.

Courtesy of Rossmoor News, November 14, 2018.  Email Jenifer Mu at barnhartmu8833@gmail.com

Facts about Recycling, Part 2

By Dale J. Harrington

This is the second of my articles on the importance of recycling. In the first article, I identified some of the many products created from recycled materials. This post identifies some additional ones. Examples include: food containers, tote bags, small cork coasters, paper towels, paper plates, napkins, envelopes, coffee filters, paper condos for cats, notebooks, egg cartons and trash bags.

As mentioned in my August 24th blog post, there are products you might be surprised to learn are made of recycled material. In this post, I will include some products made using recycled material. It is possible some of the following will be new information to you.

The website links in this post are intended for the reader’s convenience only.  No endorsement or promotion by Sustainable Rossmoor is expressed or implied.

Dakine men’s surf pack

One need only look at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to realize a lot of the plastic we use ends up in the ocean. So it’s cool this wet/dry surf bag is made with 100 percent recycled PET fabric from plastic bottles. The bag also includes a waterproof wetsuit pocket. Furthermore, Dakine offers other packs, duffle bags, totes, iPad bags and carry-ons made for both men and women. The company also doesn’t use PVC coating—an environmental toxin—on its products, so they’re ultra-Earth friendly. To go to Dakine: https://www.dakine.com/en-us/

Record bowls

Vinylux finds new use for old vinyl phonograph records by turning them into functional bowls. Most of the records the company recycles are “scratched, warped or otherwise played-out.” As a result, there’s no need to feel bad. The bowls are molded into shape over custom-made forms, the label is laminated and the spindle hole is sealed with clear tape. Additionally, the company also makes clocks, ornaments, sketchbooks, bookends and mirrors. No part of the record is wasted; the paper is collected and recycled and the vinyl scraps are sent to a plant in Nashville, where they’re recycled and turned into brand new records. To see more: http://vinylux.net

Baseball bat bottle openers

Sure, they’re a tad on the expensive side. But these bottle openers are made from bats swung by the Major Leaguers. Considering the cost game tickets, they’re cheaper too, when you factor in stadium prices for a hot dog and beer.  Each opener also includes a number, which can be plugged into a database to find out which game the bat was played in. Check it out at: https://www.uncommongoods.com/product/game-used-baseball-bat-bottle-openers

Too much waste!
Pi kitchen towels

Pi kitchen towels are made from cotton flour sacks and eco-friendly ink.

Coal Headware cottonwood beanie

Coal Headwear’s makes its cottonwood beanies from cotton yarn, repurposed from clippings and scraps made during manufacturing. Additionally, the color is already in the scraps, so the company uses fewer dyes and chemicals repurposing the materials into new yarn. For Coal Headware: https://coalheadwear.com

ReCycle Bikes

ReCycle Bikes are handmade in Portland, Ore., from recycled aluminum. The seats are made of renewable cork, and they use belts instead of chains because belts require less maintenance. Though it’s not quite there yet, the company hopes to one day have the bikes made of entirely recycled materials.

Green Toys

Green toys are super cute. They are also akin to retro toys and made out of recycled plastic milk jugs. Further, even their packaging is 100 percent recycled (and recyclable) – and, as a bonus, the retro toys don’t have any of twist ties that make regular kids’ toys such a pain to open. To check out Green Toys: http://www.greentoys.com

Courtesy of the Rossmoor News, October 31, 2018.  Email Dale J. Harrington at dalejharrington@gmail.com