Bubble-wrap from mushrooms, and cleaning up the Willamette

March 31, 2012 at 10:59 pm Leave a comment

Looks the forecast is for rain this weekend. Rain … and the chemistry qualifying exam. When you’re done with your exam, kick back with a few green news stories:

  • Mushroom packaging (Living on Earth, 23 March 2012, mp3/stream/podcast) Americans throw out 19 billion pounds of Styrofoam packing peanuts each year, which sit in landfills for half a millenium. One company in upstate New York is producing alternative packing material out of sustainable ingredients. Host Bruce Gellerman talks to Gavin McIntyre, chief scientist at Ecovative Design (“We Grow Materials”), about how to turn mushrooms and agricultural waste into earth-friendly packaging material. (7:00)
  • Rampant city gas leaks (Living on Earth, 13 January 2012, mp3/stream/podcast) Proponents of natural gas say that this is the cleanest fossil fuel around and the U.S. has a large amount of the gas underground. But what happens when the gas pipelines leak? Methane’s climate impact is much larger than carbon dioxide’s, and natural gas explosions can be deadly. Host Bruce Gellerman sniffs out the cracks in the nearly two million miles of pipeline that run under our cities. (18:30)
  • Playing it Safe? (Chemical Heritage, Fall 2011/Winter 2012, book review) A story: a young girl home from a party announces to her mother that she has discovered a fondness for tuna sandwiches. She loves them. She thinks they’re great. She just had her first taste, and she can’t wait to have tuna every day. The mother pauses. Tuna is rich in omega fatty acids, which helps brain development and function, but tuna is also rich in mercury (and more important, methylmercury), a potent neurotoxin. The EPA and FDA suggest eating tuna no more than once a week. What does the mother do? This story, and others like it, are the grist for “Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis” by S. Steingraber (Da Capo Press, 2011). If you can, read the book, this summer. In the meantime, read this book review.
  • Companies Pick Up Used Packaging (NY Times, 23 March 2012, Business Day) “Brushing your teeth with a yogurt container? Wiping your mouth with a coffee cup? You might be doing both, as a result of a new trend in recycling, courtesy of the manufacturers who make the original products.” Learn why more and more manufacturing companies are getting in the collection/recycling business.
  • Portland Harbor property owners make biggest pitch yet for lower-cost Superfund cleanup (Oregonian, 30 March 2012, News: Environment) The Willamette river is loaded with toxic materials and was designated a Superfund site decades ago, but like most Superfund sites, it hasn’t been cleaned up. Now a group of property owners have come up with a plan that will make “clean up” a lot cheaper, but will it leave the river safe for future generations?

Entry filed under: In the News.

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