Recycling Plastics Breakthrough could be near

Water BottlesResearchers from IBM and Stanford University are working to create a new kind of plastic, one that can be recycled multiple times and that’s biodegradable.

Most plastics can only be recycled once as the metal catalysts they contain break down, contaminating and degrading it, affecting the material’s recyclability. Organic catalysts such as are being worked with at IBM’s Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California, leave no residue, can break down the plastic’s polymers to their original state and are cheap to produce.

Also, organic catalysts break down plastic at room temperature – a much lover level than currently possible, where higher temperatures and greater energy are required.

This breakthrough could allow plastics to b recycled over and over in the future.

In Saudi Arabia, the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology is working with IBM and Stanford to establish a pilot recycling program for PET (the common plastic used in drink bottles, identified as #1 plastic) using the organic catalysts.

This development, if realized, could have exciting new applications, including for healthcare, particularly in drug delivery devices and replacing synthetic computer materials with greener alternatives.

NASA discovers life under the Antarctic ice

Shriimp in Antarctica

A small shrimp-like creature under the Antarctic ice, as seen in a NASA video from December 2009 (AP Photo/NASA)

In a surprise discovery, a NASA team has found life 600 feet below an Antarctic ice sheet, where it’s been presumed no life could exist.

After lowering a video camera below the Pine Island Glacier Ice Shelf, the team was stunned to see a shrimp-like creature come swimming into view and attach itself to the cable.  The scientists were further amazed when they pulled up a tentacle believed to be from a foot-long  jellyfish.

In an environment with no perceivable light or obvious food source, scientists are faced with an enigma with the appearance of the three-inch long orange  Lyssianasid amphipod, a distant relative to shrimp.

According to a story by Seth Borenstein, this amazing and exciting find presents many questions to scientists.

“We were operating on the presumption that nothing’s there,” said NASA ice scientist Robert Bindschadler, who will be presenting the initial findings and a video at an American Geophysical Union meeting Wednesday.

This is an exciting glimpse of marine life and habitat we know so little about. Time for scientists to reevaluate their thinking about what they think they know.

Green Trends on the radio!

A moment for shamless self-promotion here.

A new voice for green hits the radio waves

Eco Trends logoEco Trends with Debra Atlas debuted on March 9th. 

This new fun radio segment presents the latest, coolest eco-innovations to hit the marketplace. Airing at 3:20 pm Pacific every Tuesday and Thursday, it covers everything from awesome jewelry made from trash, a product that revives soggy electronics, to a headband that helps block out snoring!

Keep up with what’s cool, green and affordable with Eco Trends. And spread the word!

Santa Monica restaurant charged with serving whale meat

The Typhoon Restaurant is charged with selling illegal whale meat to customers

The Typhoon Restaurant is charged with selling illegal whale meat to customers

A Santa Monica sushi restaurant and one of its chefs have been charged with federal criminal charges of selling meat from an endangered whale.

According to the L.A. Times, a video sting was orchestrated by a producer of the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove”, assisted by federal agents and animal activists.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, named Typhoon Restaurant Inc., owner of the Hump, and chef Kiyoshiro Yamamoto, 45, of Culver City.

The Hump, a popular hangout at Santa Monica Airport, immediately said through attorney Gary Lincenberg that it accepted “responsibility for the wrongdoing charged by the U.S. attorney” and would pay a fine and resolve the matter in court.

Santa Monica Councilman Richard Bloom, chairman of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission and a recent appointee to the California Coastal Commission, said the city “will do everything in our power to make sure the situation is corrected and never happens again.”

“The first thing I would want to know is where the whale meat came from,” said Councilman Bloom.

How DID the whale meat get into this country? And, a better question, are there other restaurants that are serving it that we don’t know about?

Vancouver's Olympic graphics to be recycled as flooring

2010_winter_olympics_logosvgpnNow that the Vancouver Olympics are just a wonderful memory, lots of materials are left to be dealt with.

Enter Mannington Commercial who plans to take the almost 200,000 square feet of graphic wraps, made by 3M Canada, that were used for advertising during the 2010 Winter Games and will turn them into commercial flooring. These wraps were wrapped on vehicles and other types of displays

Mannington's Premium Tile will utilize advertising from the 2010 Winter Games

Mannington's Premium Tile will utilize advertising from the 2010 Winter Games

Mannington will utilize these wraps for their Premium Tile line, which also includes scrap drywall and VCT removed from renovation sites.

Mannington officials said the Premium Tile line is popular for educational, healthcare and retail uses.

Once again, a little corporate ingenuity and commitment to sustainability will turn what would have been trashed into something useful.

A new green trend

Eco Trends - K-Shasta

KSHA logo

Be sure to tune in and catch the latest! And let me know what you think!

Direct Link and archives for Eco Trends soon to follow.

Auric Blends Natural Perfumes

Natural ingredientsSince the late 19th century, perfumes have enticed our senses. Yet even the most expensive perfumes are loaded with petrochemicals, many toxic to humans. A 1991 EPA study found many perfumes include potentially hazardous chemicals like acetone (used as a cleaning solvent), benzyl acetate (a solvent used in plastics), ethanol (grain alcohol), ethyl acetate (a solvent) and methylene chloride (a solvent).

The FDA says fragrances are responsible for 30 percent of all allergic reactions. Yet this hasn’t stopped the growth of this multi-billion dollar industry.

Auric Blends has a new line of all natrual perfumes

Auric Blends has a new line of all natrual perfumes

There’s a small but growing trend within the perfume industry – quality perfumes made with natural ingredients. Auric Blends, a Sonoma County company, has created four unique, handcrafted natural fragrances.

The company’s tag line – “the evolution of perfume” – says it all.

Our purpose is to bring an evolution to the perfume industry, says Danielle Letourneau, Auric Blends’ Sales and Marketing Director.

The company’s been making perfumes and incense since 1993. In 2007, they developed their natural line or roll-on perfumes. Since they’d always produced roll-on fragrances, it was a natural to do it with their natural line too.

Auric Blends is trying to change the industry.

Lots of essential oil manufacturers have put out natural perfumes, Letourneau said. But they smell like essential oils – “more like aromatherapy,” she said.

“We’re striving to make beautiful perfumes that women would love to wear”

Auric Blend Group shotTheir four natural perfumes are made with natural ingredients including rare flowers, sweet fruits, clean citrus, and natural refined woods, with a base of jojoba and vitamin E oils.

There’s a story behind each fragrance’s name. 

  • Tara (my favorite) is named for the Tibetan female embodiment of Buddha.
  • Layla is named for a character in a 12th century Persian love story.
  • Siren is named after the Sirens of Greek mythology.
  • Pele is named for the ancient fire goddess of the Hawaiian volcano who, mythology says, created the Hawaiian Islands.

Each perfume is a distinct blend of floral scents and plant-based ingredients.

Tara has some of the most highly prized essential oils on the market,” said Letourneau. Its complex blend of rose and jasmine absolutes also has fruity notes of pineapple and raspberry rounded out with a woody background of patchouli, orris root and sandalwood.

Layla’s floral scent is a mix of Moroccan and Bulgarian rose, jasmine and orange flower blossom, with touches of India in its sandalwood and vetiver notes, blended with a touch of clove.

Siren is a rich floral blend of fresh lemon oil and lemongrass, sage and thyme.

Pele, their unisex fragrance, is a spicy floral mixture of geranium and lavender with patchouly and vanilla.

Made with unfiltered natural ingredients, these perfumes have a naturally occurring sediment.

Essential oils change when exposed to natural light and oxygen, Letourneau said. “We recommend people keep them in a darker, cooler place to extend the shelf life,” which, she said, averages two to three years.

These compact perfumes come in attractive, eco-friendly packaging. Each lists the ingredients, not yet an industry standard.

First time orders of these natural perfumes qualify for a 15 percent discount with the code #RDD0310, with a minimum order of $21.00, at until May 31st, 2010. For smaller orders phone 800 882-7247.

Japan says no to bluefin tuna ban

Bluefin -TunaOnce again Japan’s in the news for their negative stance on marine life, this time the seriously endangered bluefin tuna.

Japan eats an estimated three-quarters of the world’s annual bluefin tuna catch. Over the past 50 years, the adult population of eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin has plunged 74 percent, most of this in the past decade. In the western Atlantic, the population has fallen a whopping 82 percent.

Late last year Monaco proposed the bluefin ban . This year the U.S. governmenet said it supports a proposed ban on international trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna because the species is at risk of extinction. The European Commission has asked that member governments go along with the ban.The ban needs a two-thirds majority to pass.

Bluefin -Tuna.2The proposed ban will be considered in mid-March when representatives from 175 countries meet in Doha, Qatar, to vote on measures to protect bluefin tuna and other at-risk species under CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

It seems that the issues comes down to tradition and money versus purdent stewardship and protection of a species, posturing versus scienfitic evidence. And when the fish are gone, what will Japan say then?

AT&T goes for green packaging

ATT packagingAT&T announced they plan to make their mobile phones, devices and packaging more eco-friendly.

Instead of utilizing the dreaded plastic clamshell (it’s so difficult to open), the telecommunications company will ship batteries in paper boxes.

ATT packaging.2The company anticipates a reduction of 30% in plastic packaging and a 60% reduction in paper packaging with their eco efforts.

They also plan to make their cell phones and devices more recyclable.

Sounds good. Wonder when we’ll actually see the new packaging? No word on that.

FAA suspends JFK's errant air traffic controllers

JetBlueAuthroities have suspended an air traffic controller and a supervisor at JFK after the controller allowed his son to direct several pilots from the control tower.

“This lapse in judgment not only violated FAA’s own policies, but common-sense standards for professional conduct. These kinds of distractions are totally unacceptable,” FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement. 

The air traffic controller allowed his son to read some routine instructions to pilots, then brought another child to work the next day.

Pilots seemed amused and pleased. “I wish I could bring my kid to work,” one of them said.

All this was brought to light when a recording of the radio calls was posted on the internet, then reported by a Boston television station. Such transmissions are routinely streamed live on the internet. One user of the popular site, which is devoted to air controller talk, posted the recording not long after it occurred on February 16th, when New York schoolchildren were on winter break.

According to the recording, the boy made five transmissions to pilots readying for departure.

Control towers are generally highly secure areas, though the agency sometimes gives employees permission to bring their children for a tour.

Dave Pascoe, founder of LiveATC and a pilot and radio enthusiast, said he was sickened at the thought that the controller could be disciplined.

“I believe that this is being blown out of proportion,” he said. “This is just a completely controlled situation. A child was being told exactly what to say.”

He added: “I think it’s just fantastic that this guy cared enough to take his kid to work. How many parents take their kids to work these days?”

Is this a case of the FAA coming down hard to avoid a media frenzy? What do you readers think?


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