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Environment

Paper Mate launches biodegradable pens and pencils

According to the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association (WIMA) over three billion retractable ball point pens and over 500 million mechanical pencils were shipped in the US in 2007. Many have since been lost – try looking down the back of the sofa – and will probably find their way into landfill. To address this problem Paper Mate has introduced a line of biodegradable pens and pencils that feature components that break down in soil or home compost in the space of a year.Read More

The DBA compostable potato pen

There are many pens on the market today that claim to be biodegradable, or ecologically sound – but are they really? DBA in New York wanted to produce a responsible alternative to the vast numbers of wasteful and toxic pens we use and dispose of unethically every day, and claims to have designed not only a pen that looks good and writes well, but is also the world's only 98% biodegradable pen. Read More

Mapping the urban forest one tree at a time

How do we get a good picture of what trees are where, how they are affecting or contributing to the environment, and what problems they might be susceptible to in today's changing world? The main problem with recording this vital information is (to borrow a line) “tree people like planting trees, they don't like entering data.” So why not throw the task open to the local community? The Urban Forest Map is a one-stop repository using information contributed from any willing group or individual and aims to engage community participation to build a complete, dynamic picture of the urban forest.Read More

Biomethane project to bring green gas to UK homes

It's good to see a national gas company taking the lead in renewable energy. British Gas in the UK has announced a new pilot scheme with Thames Water and Scotia Gas Networks to build a plant that will clean biomethane gas harvested from human waste and inject it back into the grid for use in kitchens and heating. Read More

Developing countries' e-waste predicted to double that of developed nations

As developing nations such as India and China continue down the road to prosperity, it’s not surprising that their citizens have been eager to spend their newfound wealth on material possessions. Makers of consumer goods are increasingly turning their attention to the developing world as a potentially huge market. All that consumption will ultimately lead to something else, however - a glut of worn-out, obsolete electronic products, chock-full of toxic substances. In fact, according to a new report from the American Chemical Society, by 2030 the e-waste generated by developing nations will be double that of the developed world.Read More

Putting the pressure on algae to create biofuel

If you’ve read even a little bit about potential sources of biofuel, you’ll know that algae is one of the big ones. During photosynthesis, the unicellular aquatic plant turns sunlight and carbon dioxide into oil. It’s grown in ponds, where it’s not taking land away from food production, and yields much more oil than other biofuel crops, such as corn or soybeans. Researchers at the University of Michigan have recently come up with a method of getting algae to give up its oil more quickly and efficiently than has previously been possible - they pressure cook it.Read More

Bobble bottles offer instant filtered water, on the go

Bottled water might seem like a very innocuous, ecologically-friendly beverage, but it does have its dark side – it has been estimated that 1.5 million barrels of oil are used annually for the production of one-use water bottles. About 38 million of those get tossed out each year. True, many of them go to recycling facilities, but those facilities aren’t exactly carbon footprint-free themselves. Then of course, there’s also the whole matter of wondering if you’re a sucker for paying to drink what is likely just filtered tap water. That’s where the bobble water bottle comes in. You just fill it from the faucet, and it filters the water as you drink.Read More

TreeFrog copier paper spares the trees

It’s no secret that paper production and deforestation go hand-in-hand. Long before we ever knew of the evils of styrofoam cups, drift-net fishing, or any of a thousand other ecological no-no’s, we knew that using paper meant killing trees. Recycled paper is a step in the right direction, but it still involves the harvesting of trees early in the process. Now, however, TreeZero paper products is offering up TreeFrog copier paper - it’s made with absolutely no wood fiber, just sugar cane and bamboo.Read More

ONR’s microbial fuel cell generates electricity from mud

It is estimated there are approximately five nonillion (that’s 5x10 to the power of 30) bacteria on Earth, and although they generally get a bad rap, there are actually many beneficial bacteria that are vital to life on our planet. As we’ve seen previously, scientists are now looking to harness bacteria to produce electricity through microbial fuel cells. These microbial fuel cells (MFCs) convert chemical energy to electrical energy to offer a clean, efficient and reliable alternative to batteries and other environmentally harmful fuels. Recognizing their potential the Office of Naval Research (ONR) has developed an MFC that could revolutionize naval energy use by converting decomposed marine organisms into electricity.Read More

Mother Earth's favorite timepiece - the Sprout watch

Sporting a Rolex watch is certainly an effective way of showing off your wealth, but what if you want to show off your environmental consciousness? What timepiece would let you do that? It would have to be something that incorporates low-impact, sustainable and biodegradable materials, that doesn’t contain hazardous substances, and that supports recycling. A good “green” name would help too… a name like Sprout.Read More

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