On The Radio- Waste Free Living


8770844739_e279befe82_o.jpg
Jars (LuAnn Snawder Photography/flickr)

Kasey Dresser | February 5, 2018

This week’s segment looks at a company in New York that focuses on making waste free living accessible to everyone. 

Transcript:

A recent waste free living trend has emerged and 2 NYU graduates are aiming to make the lifestyle accessible to everyone.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Lauren Singer and Daniel Silverstein started an online company to make waste-free living easier and more accessible. The average American throws away 4.4 pounds of trash everyday. Singer and Silverstein believe that given an easy alternative everybody would be in favor of reducing their own waste.

Singer has kept all of her trash from the last 4 years in a 16 oz mason jar. She started by making her own vegan, and organic laundry detergent and runs a blog called Trash is for Tossers. Silverstein uses scraps from other companies and is the creator his own line of recycled clothing. Together, their company, PackageFree, sells environmentally friendly home, bathroom, clothing, and beauty products.

To start waste reduction in your own life, they recommend 5 simple steps: The first is replacing your plastic grocery bags with reusable shopping totes. Next use reusable stainless steel water bottles and reusable silverware that you take on the go. When ordering a drink at a restaurant, ask for it without a plastic straw. And finally use biodegradable toothbrushes instead of plastic ones.

For more information, visit iowa-environmental-focus-dot-org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.

China is taking influence from California’s cap and trade program to reduce carbon emission


11238146994_0d288e80dd_o.jpg
Smog (Hyun Jin Cho/flickr)
Kasey Dresser | December 26,  2017

Cap and trade is a government based program that controls the amount of carbon emissions that a company is allowed to emit. The company buys a permit that allows them to release a specific amount.

California, and parts of Canada and the UK already have cap and trade programs set up. China met with Governor Jerry Brown over the summer to discuss China’s carbon markets. Since the start of the cap and trade program in 2012, California has raised $4.4 billion by selling credits. The plan is to have greenhouse gas emissions cut by 80% in 2050. The program has also created more local jobs.  This progress is an example not only for states but more countries too.

The first steps in China’s cap and trade program will cover the electricity industry. This will focus on reducing coal-fire based energy. Later the program will expand to transportation and industrial sectors. Forbes predicted that if China can get the price of carbon to $10 on the national market and keep it there, they can eliminate a quarter of their emissions by 2030.

The United States and China are responsible for 42% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. President Xi’s actions have committed himself to the Paris Climate Change Agreement and since the United States has pulled support, he has pledged to have a larger international leadership position.

Toyota is making moves for clean energy


26556373099_f2428b0b54_o.jpg
Toyota (Saud Al-Olayan/flickr
Kasey Dresser | December 15,  2017

The Japanese car company, Toyota, has recently announced new plans to be more environmentally conscious. 

To start, they are building a power plant, opening in 2020, that will produce clean energy from cow manure. The project is known as the Tri-Gen Project and will be located in Long Beach, CA. According to Science Alert, the plant is expected to power 2,350 homes and fuel 1,500 hydrogen-powered vehicles daily. The facility will also have one of the largest hydrogen fueling stations in the world.

Toyota made plans to stop producing cars with internal combustion engines by 2040.  And by 2050, they plan to reduce vehicles carbon emissions by 90%. The website and press release go over 4 more goals to better the companies environmentally friendly business.

Scott Pruitt has also expressed interest, publicly, in partnering with Toyota. This will be the first alliance since the lawsuit of 2003 when the EPA sued Toyota for violations of the Clean Air Act. The new partnership is being actively discourage by the Environmental Working Group. The EWG is a non-profit organization that has been a large player in creating federal environmental policies. Ken Cook, the President of EWG, sent a detailed letter to James Lentz , the CEO of Toyota, expressing concerns about the alliance. His biggest concern is Pruitt’s new 30% budget cut and feels Pruitt’s presence in the EPA will cause more harm than good.

For now, the EPA and EWG both agree that Toyota’s new environmentally friendly goals are a step in the right direction.

A rise in Bitcoin’s value could lead to an energy crisis


36995772061_5ff0e467df_o.jpg
m00n (John Smith/ flickr)
Kasey Dresser | December 13,  2017

Bitcoin is a type of digital currency or “digital wallet.” It is used like regular money to transfer funds and generate currency but without a central bank. Over the last week, Bitcoin’s value has gone from less than $1,000 to $17,000. 1 Bitcoin is currently equal to 17,793 U.S. dollars. The money was originally viewed as “dirty,” being used for black market items. However this recent surge has sparked interest from mainline investors and bitcoin is looking to be worth millions more in the next month.

Bitcoin is run through data mines which are essentially large rooms of computers running an algorithm to code each transaction. The problem is the 32 terawatts of energy bitcoin will use every year. That much energy has the ability to power 3 million U.S. households; compared to Visa transactions, that only uses enough energy to power 50,000 American homes. According to the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index, bitcoin could use enough energy to power all of the U.S. by 2019.

More than half of the Bitcoin “mining pools” are run out of China. Most the energy produced in China comes from coal firepower plants which has the potential to increase smog and pollution in the near by areas.