Topic: sustainability

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How can weaver ants protect an entire orchard?

In this mango orchard in Northern Thailand, weaver ants are nurtured so they can thrive and protect the harvest. The ants hunt the pests that would eat the mangoes, eliminating any need to use harmful chemical pestici...

Soil 101

What is soil made of? Why is it important? And how can we nurture soil for the benefit of humans and our ecosystems? Learn about soil with the help of Soil 101, a 2015 animation from the Food and Agriculture Organizat...

Mycelium packaging, a biodegradable alternative to styrofoam

Styrofoam makes up 25% of our landfills in the U.S. That is insane. We may only use it for a day or a week to ship a package, but it stays in our environment for thousands of years. I think I've come up with an altern...

What is the Circular Economy?

What if, when we make something new, we also consider how it can be unmade when it's no longer of use? Can the materials be separated and repurposed? Can some or all of it biodegrade? How do we keep it from polluting ...

Bayuble: Water-soluble fruit stickers

What do you do with the little fruit sticker from your apple? Do you put it in the trash or collect them? They can't be used again and "they're a major problem in composting facilities," so what can we do about this b...

How are luffa/loofah sponges made?

The luffa or loofah scrubbing sponge found at spas and eco-friendly stores is made from a giant Egyptian cucumber. The fibrous xylem of the fruit can be harvested after the fruit has matured, browned, and dried. Natha...

Crow herding with urban falconry in Portland

“Downtown Portland seems to be a very inviting place for crows and I think the reason for that is due to the presence of garbage and food and lights and warmth, and it’s a relatively predator-free environment,” [bird ...

Can we get solar power to everyone who wants it?

By the end of 2016, the US was home to over 1 million household and commercial solar energy operations, with 4 times as many solar panels installed that year compared to just four years earlier. But if you don’t own t...

Which life form really dominates Earth?

In 2018, there are around 7.6 billion people on the planet, but weigh us all together on a giant scale and we only make up 1/10,000 of Earth’s biomass. What is biomass? And what life forms dominate the rest of the pla...

Geothermal energy in Iceland

Iceland is a geothermal energy pioneer. Their unique geology, thanks to volcanism along a rift in the Eurasian tectonic plate and North American tectonic plate, provides a sustainable advantage: Heat from the ground. ...

Using seawater and sunlight to grow sustainable food in the desert

Australia's Sundrop Farms uses sunlight to desalinate seawater. The resulting fresh water is used and re-used to power and irrigate four hydroponic greenhouses with 175,000 tomato plants in each. Those sustainable yea...

Soil Life in Action: Bioturbation with and without soil fauna

Bioturbation is the mixing of (plant) residues into soils and sediments by biotic activity. It is one of the fundamental processes in ecology, as it stimulates decomposition, creates habitats for other (micro)fauna an...

The Solar Grandmothers of Ambakivao, Madagascar

Not having access to electricity, life in Ambakivao, Madagascar was dark. A group of grandmothers decided to change that, bringing light to their community by becoming the village’s first solar engineers. With the hel...

How to Eliminate Single-Use Plastics on Vacation

In the end, I avoided 79 pieces of single-use plastic and only used two on this weeklong trip. This experience reminded me that you don't have to be perfect. Even if you mess up along the way, doing something makes a ...

Linen: How It’s Made

From seed to fabric: See how linen is pulled, dew-retted, bundled, scutched, heckled, spun, and woven in this excellent video from the Victoria & Albert Museum's 'Fashioned From Nature' exhibition, showing until Janua...

Plastics 101: What is plastic and how is it made?

Once a completely natural product, much of today's plastic is man-made and largely dependent upon fossil fuels. From polymers to nurdles, learn how plastic is created and what we can do to slow the lasting repercussio...

What Can You Actually Do About Climate Change?

The average carbon footprint of a person in the US is 16.5 tons –TONS. So, what can you actually do decrease this number and make a meaningful difference? Miriam Nielsen itemizes how our individual choices can hav...

Fungus: The Plastic of the Future

In 2014, Ecovative Designs was working to combine mycelium with local crop waste to make a compostable biomaterial for packaging, and continue to expand their efforts. One example: A collaboration with Netherlands-bas...

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