Tag Archives: greenstuff

Bayer can’t greenwash away Monsanto’s mess

Big Ag Greenwashing

As the headlines of their corporate misdeeds pile up, the Monsanto name is becoming even more synonymous with shady dealings and the obfuscation of science, all at the expense of public health. Will the company’s recent mega-merger with fellow seed and pesticide giant Bayer erase Monsanto’s track record? Bayer seems to think so, as they made the decision to drop the Monsanto name completely post-merger. But we’re not too worried.

Monsanto in the spotlight

After decades spent dodging regulators and burying scientific findings that could hurt their profits, Monsanto is finally facing their day in court. Or rather, many days in court. Earlier this summer, the company lost the first of more than 4,000 lawsuits brought against their flagship weedkiller Roundup.

The public has been paying attention, as Bayer shares plummeted following the court defeat, even though the merger process hadn’t completely wrapped up yet.

And as it turns out, Bayer and Monsanto have actually been on the same page of the industry playbook for years. In fact, Bayer deserves special recognition for their own style of spreading misinformation.

Bayer’s class-act deception

Bayer’s corporate record book definitely isn’t clean. The pharmaceutical and chemical company best known for aspirin has spent time and resources protecting their brand through “greenwashing.” Bayer and many other corporations have perfected this PR strategy, spreading misleading information to promote themselves as champions of sustainability.

Minnesota bee advocates went head-to-head with Bayer’s greenwashing efforts in June, when vigilant organizers noticed that a Pollinator Week event, hosted by local blogger The Faux Martha, was co-sponsored by Bayer’s “Feed a Bee” program.

The event centered on making wildflower boutonnieres and planting flowers to help combat pollinator declines. But Bayer is the leading producer of neonicotinoid pesticides — a key driver of pollinator declines, in addition to other factors like disease and habitat loss. Bayer hosting this pollinator party focused on a problem they’re no doubt contributing to was a prime example of greenwashing.

PAN and partners rallied to expose the event’s corporate sponsorship and shut the event down, sending Bayer a strong message that their “bee-friendly” distraction tactics aren’t welcome in our neighborhood.

Everybody’s doing it

Bayer’s not the only one selling their corporate mismanagement as leadership. A few more top greenwashing offenders:

  • The Safe Fruits and Veggies program claims to help consumers make informed food choices, parroting language that PAN and partners use when talking about the risks of chronic pesticide exposure. Yet their “pesticide residue calculator” is actually a clever spin campaign from various produce industries masquerading as a helpful tool for consumers.
  • After Dow Chemical and DuPont merged in 2017, the company announced a rebrand, unveiling the new name “Corteva Agriscience.” Corteva comes from the words “heart” and “nature,” a supposed homage to the corporation’s commitment to consumer health and well-being. Puh-lease.
  • In the wake of last week’s Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, many are calling on the state to “walk the talk.” California’s economy is still securely tethered to extractive industries, especially oil—which makes any flashy leadership on climate action look a lot like greenwashing.

Greenwashing watchdogs

In a world of low corporate transparency, the burden falls on all of us to recognize dangerous greenwashing campaigns and boldly call them out. Spotting greenwashing takes persistence and a critical eye. Dig deeper into vague advertising claims, and be on the alert for industry-funded research. Ask yourself: does this showy sustainability plan distract from the core purpose of the company? Is an industry selling regulation or enforced cleanup as voluntary? You’ll start seeing greenwashing everywhere.

The good news? We know we’re doing something right when industry starts copying our tactics. Our fearless organizing for a food system that benefits everyone is only building momentum. It’s our job to keep corporations from using that power to boost their profit margins.

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As California Burns, Trump and Zinke Use Catastrophe to Benefit Industry

As California Burns, Trump and Zinke Use Catastrophe to Benefit Industry

The Trump administration and House Republicans are using the fires across the West as an excuse to chip away at bedrock environmental laws.

A car passes through flames on Highway 299 as the Carr Fire burns through Shasta, Calif. U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has falsely suggested that more logging would help prevent the devastating fires raging across the West.

A car passes through flames as the Carr Fire burns in Shasta, California. U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has falsely suggested that more logging would help prevent the devastating fires raging across the West.

Noah Berger / AP

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wrote recently that “radical environmentalists would rather see forest and communities burn than see a logger in the woods.” In Zinke’s zero-sum equation, the devastating wildfires in California would stop if those radical environmentalists would let the timber industry cut down more trees.

The truth is that Zinke and House Republicans are using the destruction across the West as an excuse to chip away at bedrock environmental laws created to ensure that science drives decisions about the future of our nation’s forests.

Everyone agrees that we must protect homes and lives from the catastrophic effects of fires, but Zinke’s argument is dangerously oversimplified, cynically disingenuous and downright false. And that’s not the worst part. He also proclaims that climate change has “nothing to do” with these wildfires, even as scientists and firefighting officials unanimously assert that climate change is creating the conditions that allow destructive wildfires to thrive. These types of fires will only grow in intensity and frequency if we do nothing to address climate change.

With increasingly warmer weather, forests are becoming drier and prone to burning throughout the year. Over the past 30 years, climate change has doubled the area affected by forest fires in the western U.S., according to a study that appeared in the 2016 Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.

This year alone, there were 63 large, uncontained fires in the U.S. in the first week of August, according to the Washington Post.

As Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director Cal Fire, the state’s fire agency, told the New York Times: “Let’s be clear. It’s our changing climate that is leading to more severe and destructive fires.” 

Climate change isn’t the only culprit. Historic firefighting practices, increased grazing and commercial logging also have created the conditions for increasingly devastating wildfires. In many Western forests, naturally occurring wildfires every five, 10 or 20 years historically helped to clear debris on the forest floor and make room for stronger, healthier growth. However, in the late 19th century, government agencies adopted a policy of complete fire suppression – and the fuel that is feeding today’s fires has been building up for a century.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke arrives at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing.
Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Livestock grazing on public lands has also reduced the frequency of the low-intensity fires that helped keep the forest strong 150 years ago. Without grasses and ground vegetation left to fuel such fires, forests now burn only when there is a significant buildup of woody debris, which leads to more severe fires.

At the same time, commercial logging operations have removed the largest and most fire-resistant trees. These trees are replaced by dense groups of younger trees that act as fire ladders, providing fuel for fire to burn intensely and travel high up into the forest canopy.

Established wildfire risk reduction strategies that include encouraging “defensible space” and prescribed burning and thinning that selectively removes smaller trees and brush have helped to counter these impacts–especially in forested areas near communities, which are known as the Wildland-Urban Interface. One recent study in Colorado’s San Juan National Forest showed that selective thinning and burning helps to restore the forest back to its natural state and reduce the severity of fires. However, these wildfire risk reduction strategies rely on public funds, which are in short supply these days.

Zinke’s preferred strategy is not about being selective. Instead, it involves bowing to special interests and clearcutting large swaths of trees, following the false logic that aggressively eliminating trees means fewer trees to burn. Clearcutting also happens to be the way that the timber industry turns a profit.

Zinke has been espousing this argument as Congress negotiates the 2018 Farm Bill, which funds our nation’s food security, nutrition and conservation programs. The House version of this bill includes provisions that would exempt large-scale logging in our national forests from environmental review and public input while reducing Endangered Species Act consultation requirements.

If these proposals were to make it into the final bill, they would change the way that our national forests are currently managed, pushing aside science and public input to push forward timber industry interests above the interests of communities, recreation and ecology. Provisions in the House bill that aim to fast-track commercial logging and road building could increase fire risk and create additional dangers for surrounding communities, such as erosion and mudslides.

Zinke’s false assertion that large-scale logging is our best fire prevention strategy hasn’t been the only attempt by the Trump administration to use the deadly California wildfires to misinform the American public. Last week, President Trump tweeted incorrectly that firefighters faced a shortage of water in what appeared to be an effort to insert himself into debates over how best to allocate the state’s water.

All of this is nothing new for Zinke and the Trump administration, which continues to wage an all-out campaign to subvert science and deny the existence of climate change. For the tens of thousands of people forced to evacuate their homes, and the many firefighters who are risking their lives, climate change is very real. They are counting on us to fight for wildfire risk reduction strategies that address the real reasons these fires are burning – before it’s too late. 

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Court to EPA: Chlorpyrifos ban is on!

Happy kids

As of Thursday morning, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has 60 days to finalize its ban of the neurotoxic pesticide chlorpyrifos.

This was the ruling of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on August 9. The judges determined that EPA broke the law by allowing continued use of the pesticide despite scientific evidence linking it to harmful impacts on children’s developing brains.

“Children, farmworkers, rural families and science are all huge winners today,” said PAN’s executive director Kristin Schafer in a press statement responding to the court ruling. “Sadly, under this administration it takes judges to force our public agencies to stand up to corporate interests and do their jobs.”

The decision was in response to years-long litigation brought by PAN, NRDC, Earthjustice and other farmworker and environmental health organizations.

Bad for children, farmworkers & families

Chlorpyrifos is a widely used and highly-volatile neurotoxic chemical that study after study has shown is harming the development of children’s brains. When mothers are exposed during pregnancy, their children are at higher risk of having lower IQs, developmental delays and autism.

In fall 2016, EPA’s own scientists published a follow-up assessment of health risks that found that, through their diet, infants were being exposed to the pesticide at levels 140 times what could be considered safe.

In the same assessment, the scientists also found that farmworkers were exposed at unsafe levels in the field — the chemical routinely sickens workers and sends them to the hospital.

A long time coming

EPA scientists put forward a proposal in late 2015 to withdraw all uses of chlorpyrifos on food crops. But in a controversial about-face in March 2017, former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt called the science on chlorpyrifos “unresolved,” and said agency experts will continue thinking about it until at least 2022. This announcement came just weeks after meeting with executives from Dow Agrochemical (now Corteva Agriscience), which makes the pesticide.

This win highlights the importance of the courts under an administration that is consistently prioritizing corporate interests over public health. In the months since Pruitt’s reversal of the decision to ban chlorpyrifos, policy momentum at the state-level in the absence of national action has also been encouraging — Hawai’i recently banned the pesticide in the state, and California scientists recently listed it as an air contaminant and developmental toxicant.

EPA, the court has ruled. You have 60 days.

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Orcas Are Dying, But There Is a Way to Save Them

Orcas Are Dying, But There Is a Way to Save Them

An orca calf’s death has brought renewed attention to the perilous situation for the whale species living in Washington state’s Puget Sound.

The Puget Sound orcas live in three pods named J, K, and L. Members of L pod, Admiralty Inlet, Oct. 10, 2009.

The Puget Sound orcas live in three pods named J, K, and L. Members of L pod, Admiralty Inlet, Oct. 10, 2009.

Tatiana Ivkovich / Shutterstock

Orcas in the Salish Sea, which spans Puget Sound and the waters around the islands and shores of Washington state and British Columbia, Canada, are struggling for their lives. Over the past few decades, their numbers have shrunk to a perilous 75 today. Most recently, the endangered species has caught national attention after a distraught mother orca was spotted carrying her dead calf across hundreds of miles, in an act of mourning.

Earthjustice attorney Patti Goldman, who has been working to protect these orcas, for more than a decade, explains how safeguarding salmon—the orcas’ main food source—is essential to avoid extinction of the whales.

Why are these orcas so special?

One of the wonderful parts of working for Earthjustice is that you learn about the science as well as the law. One thing that really stuck with me is that orcas are one of the few species that are matrilineal. The mothers, the grandmothers and the granddaughters all stay together.

They’re also one of the few species that has post-reproductive females. (So do humans and elephants.) Scientists have tried to figure out what role post-reproductive females play in terms of evolution and survival. For most species, the reproduction function, the rearing the young, is the role females play in the population’s survival. But for the orcas, it’s also passing down knowledge.

Why is their population declining?  

The home range of these orcas is further south than many others, so they are more accessible to people than other orcas. The Salish Sea’s orcas were the ones targeted for live capture for the Sea Worlds, which decimated their population in the 1960s and 1970s. About a third of them were captured or were killed.

The live capture practice ended when one of our clients, former Secretary of State Ralph Munro, was on a boat with his wife and they found themselves in the middle of a live capture. They could hear the babies wailing as their mothers were captured and vice versa. That was a very pivotal moment. Munro, who was then a member of the state legislature, soon after became the lead proponent of a law banning live capture in Washington state waters.

The second decline occurred in the 1980s. There weren’t enough orcas of reproductive age because so many of them had been taken during the live capture.

The third decline is when Earthjustice got involved. In the 1990s there was a 20 percent decline, and the population was down to 78 individuals. This time, the orcas were declining because there wasn’t enough food (salmon) —and the food that did exist was often toxic. The situation had become a crisis, and it became clear that the orcas needed the protections of the Endangered Species Act.

How did we go about getting them protected?

Earthjustice filed a lawsuit in 2002 when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) refused to protect the orcas under the act. Everyone agreed that their numbers were far too law, placing the orcas at risk of extinction. They desperately needed protection for their prey. There was no dispute about that. But the agency decided this population of orcas wasn’t a separate population eligible for the law’s protection. NOAA said the orcas are one worldwide species and that there were enough other orcas elsewhere in the world.

Orca L87 breaches at sunset with Whidbey Island and Mt. Baker in the background, Oct. 15, 2010.

Orca L87 breaches at sunset with Whidbey Island and Mt. Baker in the background, Oct. 15, 2010.
Susan Berta / Orca Network

The problem is that the scientists universally disagreed with that assessment. There are technically three subspecies (which means they’re likely separate enough to be considered separate species) of orcas. One eats marine mammals. They tend to be bigger and travel over much wider ranges in smaller hunting groups. Another “offshore” type, which we know comparably little about, that ply the open ocean hunting sharks and other fish in large groups.  Then there are the fish-eating resident orcas, like our orcas in the Salish Sea. They’re different genetically, they’re different in terms of their body sizes and types, in what they eat, their language, and their behaviors—all of the kinds of measures that scientists use to determine whether a population is a separate species. Back in 1758, Carl Linnaeus, who was the father of taxonomy, classified orcas as one species. NOAA tried to lock them in that designation for all time.

We went to court.  The judge reviewed this evidence and determined that the agency’s refusal to list orcas violated the Endangered Species Act, which requires that decisions be made on the best science. Instead, the agency was relying on science that its scientific reviewers found to be outdated, inaccurate and superseded by current knowledge. The orcas were finally listed as endangered in 2005.

How does our work to protect salmon also protect orcas?

Orcas need to eat a lot of salmon to survive.  Their favorite food is chinook or king salmon, the fattest of the salmon species.  But many king salmon populations are also on the endangered species list.  We are working across the west coast to restore salmon populations by restoring habitat, removing barriers, and keeping water in salmon rivers, including in the Skagit River, the Klamath River, and the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers.

Take Action! Tell Governor Inslee in Washington state to protect the orcas by saving the salmon that are the whales’ main food source.

Scientists say one of the best things we can do to increase salmon abundance for orcas is to take out four failing, outdated and costly dams on the lower Snake River that limit salmon migration and reduce the number of salmon available to orcas during critical winter months when they leave Puget Sound in search of food. Removing these dams, even though they are far from the Salish Sea, would open up hundreds of miles of free-flowing waterways, restoring safe passage to and from the imperiled wild salmon’s spawning habitat in central Idaho, boosting salmon production and affording more prey for the orcas. We’ve been fighting for two decades to take down these dams and restore these abundant salmon runs.  In 2016, we were joined by more than a quarter million people who registered comments calling for the dams to come down.

How else is Earthjustice protecting orcas?

We’re working to reduce toxic contamination of their food supply. Orcas are at the top of the food chain, so they get toxic contamination through their prey. After one of the orcas passed away, our client Ralph Munro wanted to bury the orca on his farm. He was told he would need a toxic waste permit to do so because there was so much contamination in the blubber.

Earthjustice has been identifying the key sources of toxic contamination, either to the orcas themselves or to their prey. The number one source of new toxic pollution is stormwater runoff. We’ve been working for many years now to try to force better management of that runoff, particularly in urban areas. We won a case that says that low impact development like using green roofs and rain barrels is the best technology and the best means of avoiding toxic runoff. That’s a nationwide precedent.

We’ve also had successes in challenging flood plain development, which eliminates a lot of habitat for salmon and therefore the prey of orcas. And we’ve worked to minimize toxic runoff from highways.

We’re working on bans for pesticides and other chemicals like flame retardants that are persistent and bioaccumulative and to limit the use of toxic pesticides along salmon streams. As with so many toxic chemicals, flame retardants and nerve gas pesticides are harmful to both people and orcas.  In fact, late last year, NOAA found that chlorpyrifos is likely to jeopardize the survival and recovery of Puget Sound chinook and by extension, of the orcas who feed on the chinook.

One of the biggest threats to the orcas would be a catastrophic oil spill and yet Canada is poised to increase dramatically the shipments of tar sands through the Salish Sea.  We represent several Salish Sea Tribes in opposing the Transmountain pipeline and seeking navigational safeguards, equivalent to the rules of the road, to reduce oil spill risks. 

Any final thoughts?

The situation has become urgent.  We are redoubling our efforts and looking for ways to reduce vessel noise that interrupts feeding and to rebuild other Chinook salmon runs.  When the three pods return here in the summer, they do a ritual where they line up by pod and welcome each other. That is when the scientists do the annual census.  While this ritual has brought joy to so many over the years, we now await the count in fear that another whale has not made it back.   We are committed to doing everything we can to avoid another act of excruciating grieving like what we have witnessed this year.

(Editor’s note: This piece was adapted from a podcast interview with Patti Goldman in 2011.)

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Our clothes are contaminating our planet with tiny plastic threads

crap! Feature_Microfibers_Main2.jpg

Editor’s note: This report is part one of a three-part series on the emerging threat of microfiber pollution. Parts two and three will explore the implications for the environment and human health, and look at who’s working to solve the problem.

You try to do the right thing. You’re conscientious about recycling. You carry reusable shopping bags, drink from refillable water bottles, and you’ve stopped using those face washes and toothpastes that contain plastic microbeads. Unless you’re a nudist, though, you probably haven’t yet addressed another big contributor to your environmental footprint: wearing clothing.

We have long known that apparel production is linked to environmental ills, such as water and air pollution, not to mention the land, water and pesticide use related to growing natural fibers. Now, a growing body of research shows that apparel made wholly or partially from synthetic textiles is the source of yet another big problem: a type of microplastic known as microfibers, shed during normal use and during laundering.


Made from polyester or other popular synthetics that account for a growing proportion of our wardrobes, these fibers linger in the environment, just like the plastic packaging that coats so many of the world’s beaches, and they bond to chemical pollutants in the environment, such as DDT and PCB. Plus, the textiles from which they are shed are often treated with waterproofing agents, stain- or fire-resistant chemicals, or synthetic dyes that could be harmful to organisms that ingest them. Worse, we all appear to be consuming microfibers in food and drink. And a research review published last year indicates that some of the microfibers floating in the air could be settling in our lungs.

Today, clothing retailers, textile companies, environmental nonprofits and others around the world are working hard to better understand the problem and craft solutions.

Troubling Findings

The epiphany occurred in 2004, when a team of researchers led by Richard Thompson from the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom set out to document and quantify the occurrence of microplastics in the marine environment. This involved collecting sediment from around 20 coastal sites in the United Kingdom. As part of the same study, published in Science, researchers also took surface water samples and compared the microfiber contents from samples taken decades prior. They observed an increase in fibrous synthetic material over time that corresponded with the uptick in synthetic fiber production since the 1970s.

Synthetic microfibers, threadlike pieces of plastic less than 5 millimeters (0.2 inches) long, have been found in oceans and freshwater bodies around the world. Photo courtesy of Vancouver Aquarium

One of Thompson’s graduate students, Mark Anthony Browne, decided to pull on a thread of causation he suspected based on that research, and conducted a study that looked both at where fibers were found and a possible source of microfibers in coastal areas. He collected beach sediment samples from around the world. He also washed polyester apparel in order to quantify how many fibers those items shed into laundry wastewater.

Browne’s 2011 paper based on that research reported two troubling findings. First, samples taken near wastewater disposal sites had 250 percent more microplastic than those from reference sites, and the types of microplastic fibers found in those samples were mainly polymers often used in synthetic apparel, suggesting the fibers were eluding filters in wastewater treatment plants and being released with treated effluent (which is released into rivers, lakes or ocean water). Second, a single polyester fleece jacket could shed as many as 1,900 of these tiny fibers each time it was washed. (Subsequent studies have shown far higher numbers — 250,000 fibers, according to a later study from the University of California, Santa Barbara — but research and counting methods vary widely.)

His suspicion: synthetic apparel is a major source of microfibers in the environment.

Five years later, the Rozalia Project, a Vermont-based nonprofit focused on ocean protection, led a study of microfiber pollution across an entire watershed. Traveling by boat, members of a research team collected water samples from the mouth of the Hudson River all the way to where the river meets the Atlantic in Manhattan.

Based in part on Browne’s study they expected microfiber content would increase around treatment plants. It did. However, outside of samples taken near treatment plants, there was no statistically significant difference in the concentration fibers from the alpine region to the agricultural center of New York State to the high population areas of Manhattan and New Jersey.

Rozalia Projectsampling water

Rozalia Project volunteer scientists Dana Wilfahrt and Matthew Hurst collect water samples from the Hudson River in 2016. Courtesy of Rachael Miller

That surprised the group’s director, Rachael Miller, who expected cities to be microfiber hot spots. And it suggested to her that fibers might be entering surface waters from the air and from septic system drainfields in rural areas without municipal sewage systems.

Another surprise: microfibers spiked at a sample site near a popular trailhead that runs along a tributary to the Hudson. Miller suspects that hikers clad in synthetic fabrics shed fibers from clothing as they scramble up the trail. “If you’re going to rub up against rocks while climbing the trail, there’s likely to be abrasion,” she says.

From Sinks to Sources

Demand for polyester has grown faster than demand for wool, cotton and other fibers for at least 20 years, according to industry journal Textile World. And, by 2030 synthetics are expected to account for 75 percent of global apparel fiber production, or 97 million metric tons (107 million tons).

All textiles, including carpeting and upholstery, produce microfibers. So do commercial fishing nets.

But due to the frequency with which apparel is laundered and the increasing quantities of clothing being purchased throughout the world (thanks at least in part to the so-called fast fashion trend) apparel is the microfiber source on which researchers and policy-makers are focusing attention.

Outdoor gear is heavily reliant on synthetic textiles due to their performance profile (moisture wicking) and durability, according to Krystle Moody, a textile industry consultant. But price is the big driver behind the use of synthetics in textiles. A poly-cotton blend is generally far cheaper than a cotton one, but doesn’t look or feel appreciably different to most consumers, according to Jeffrey Silberman, professor and chairperson of textile development and marketing with the Fashion Institute of Technology at the State University of New York.

“The motivation is to get natural-like fibers and still be able to get a price point that people are willing to pay,” Moody says.

Recycling, ironically, is also a culprit. Recycling, ironically, is also a culprit. Many brands sell fleece jackets and base layers, for example, made from used PET water bottles. Synthetic textiles made from recycled polymers have less tenacity and yarn strength than those made from virgin polyester.

“Initial research suggested that recycled polyester might shed more microfibers,” says Katy Stevens, sustainability project manager for the outdoor gear industry consortium European Outdoor Group (EOG). “Are we doing the right thing by using recycled polyester that might shed more? It has added a whole other big question mark.”

Fiber-filled Planet

In the years since the University of Plymouth study, a stream of other studies has found microfibers in effluent from wastewater plants, in the digestive tracts of market fish, throughout riversheds and in air samples. Two separate studies released in March 2018 revealed that microfibers are found in bottled water sold all over the world. And a study published weeks later revealed that microplastic — chiefly microfibers — were present in 159 samples of tap water from around the word, a dozen brands of beer (made with Great Lakes water) as well as sea salt, also derived globally.

Most research has thus far focused only on synthetic fibers, which will take centuries to degrade and because they are often coated with potentially harmful chemicals and dyes during manufacturing. But Abigail Barrows, an independent microplastics researcher who has conducted numerous studies on microfibers, says natural fibers such as cotton and wool, and semi-synthetics such as rayon should not be totally ignored.

While they will degrade more quickly than, say, polyester, they may still be treated with chemicals of concern that can move up the food chain if the fibers are consumed before they degrade, says Barrows. She led an analysis of microplastics found in surface water samples collected globally and while 91 percent of the particles collected were microfibers, 12 percent of those were semi-synthetic and 31 percent were natural.

It’s clear microfibers are pretty much everywhere. And it’s clear that our clothes are playing a big role. Those segments of fibers haven’t been the focus of past studies, but “we have a lot of questions about them,” she says. It’s personal, too, she notes, because she favors natural fibers in an attempt to reduce her personal contribution to microfiber pollution but worries that might not be adequately stemming the chemical flow.

It’s clear microfibers are pretty much everywhere. And it’s clear that our clothes are playing a big role. We know microfibers, just like other shapes of microplastics, bond with toxins they encounter in the environment, and lab studies show clear harm to small organisms that ingest them. Still emerging is an understanding of impacts on the wider environment and on human health. How to design (and pay for) feasible methods of stemming the flow of microfibers into the environment, is another open question.

In part two of this series we’ll dive into those issues. Then, part three will examine some possible solutions to the microfiber pollution quandary.

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Vegetarianism – More Than A Lifestyle!

Natalie Portman is so vegetarian that she won’t even wear leather shoes. Here is her vegan alternative.

Have you ever tried a completely vegetarian diet? Believe it or not, it has several advantages! Vegetarianism is generally considered as a lifestyle. But it is more than that. It is also about good health and saving money. It helps to reduce cruelty on animals and promotes a greener way of living. Here below some advantages of vegetarianism.

israel goes vegan

Weight Loss

With a diet consisting of mainly vegetables and fruits, you can easily maintain a lower body weight. If weight loss is your aim, turning vegetarian is a good idea, even if it is for a short period of time. Vegetables and fruits are packed with vitamins, antioxidants and other essential nutrients which can greatly help in weight loss. They are also free from unsaturated fats that are present in most non-veg and fast food. As you cut out meat, the calories and fats in your body decrease, lowering your Body Mass Index (BMI). Also, as per studies, non-meat eaters live longer than those who consume it.

Protection from Diseases

Want to stay away from illness? Adopt a vegetarian diet! It is a fact that eating vegetables and fruits is beneficial for health. As they are full of fibres and antioxidants, they help in protecting the body from diseases. They are also low in fats and cholesterol. Most people in the world suffer from cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, chronic fatigue and cholesterol. All these can be avoided with a vegetarian diet. Plus, most fruits are alkaline and help with acidity or heartburn. A person with an alkaline body also has a reduced risk of suffering from cancer.

Find healthy and delicious fruits on fruit themed games at Lucky Pants Bingo! Some of them are:  Fruit Bonanza Slot, Multifruit 81 Slot, Very Fruity Slot, The Fruit Factory Slot and many more. On the reels, you can see different fruits like oranges, cherries, plums, melons or grapes. Get ready for visual and juicy treats as you play these games on a desktop or mobile device at Lucky Pants Bingo.

Protecting Animals and the Environment

Apart from the different health benefits, vegetarianism also encourages protection of the environment. Greenhouse gas emissions are associated with meat production. Lowering them has a beneficial effect on global warming and climate change. These emissions are caused by factory farm animals which produce methane during food digestion and elimination. In addition to this, animals go through a cruel procedure during meat production. Farm animals are locked and cramped in cages and are rarely fed, to be finally slaughtered to produce meat. So, a vegetarian diet means less cruelty to these animals.

Saving Money

Do you want to save money? Become a vegetarian! The costs of meat are higher than those of vegetables and fruits. The average person spends less on vegetarian food than those who consume meat. Especially if you go for organic or hormone and antibiotic-free meat, it is even more expensive. Cutting out meat from your shopping list allows you to save money while remaining healthy.

Thus, vegetarianism is not only a lifestyle but it also has various advantages and health benefits. It promotes a greener planet.

EU bans neonics; U.S. bees not so lucky

Bee buzzing

After years of strong scientific evidence and even stronger advocacy, this week European officials decided to make a temporary ban on three bee-harming pesticides permanent. This is very, very good news for bees in Europe.

The decision reflects years of hard work by our PAN partners and many others. It also spotlights just how far behind we are in the U.S. — not only with our pollinator protection efforts, but in how we regulate pesticides overall.

U.S. pollinators not so lucky

A few years ago, national momentum to protect honeybees and other pollinators from pesticides seemed to be building here in the U.S. A high-profile White House Pollinator Health Task Force officially recognized the importance and urgency of problem, and promised a comprehensive action plan.

Not surprisingly, the effort attracted the attention of pesticide industry lobbyists, and the Task Force ended up punting any meaningful action to the states.

The science on the harms neonicotinoid pesticides (aka “neonics”) cause to honey bees and other pollinators continued to mount, as did evidence that neonics provided little actual benefit to farmers. Yet states have by and large failed to step up to the plate. Pressure from pesticide manufacturers appears to have played a role here as well. Seeing a pattern here anyone?

State action stymied too

Minnesota provides a telling example. In the face of mounting scientific evidence and strong public concern about bee-harming pesticides, the state Department of Agriculture conducted a Neonic Review — and in 2016 released a strong set of recommended actions to protect pollinators in the state.

Governor Dayton then signed an executive order setting the changes in motion, and establishing a “Committee on Pollinator Protection” to track implementation and recommend what else could be done. PAN and our partners in the state celebrated these groundbreaking commitments, and held up Minnesota as an example for others to follow.

Then came the pushback.

In last year’s legislative session, lawmakers did all they could to undermine pollinator protection measures and state pesticide rules. While PAN and our partners were able to hold the line against the most egregious rollbacks, legislators were clearly keen to weaken pollinator protections in the state — just as industry lobbyings were pressing them to do. 

What do they have that we don’t?

So how is it that the entire European Union can agree to take the top three bee-harming pesticides off the market, but it’s so difficult to get even minimal protections in place here in the U.S.? While there’s certainly no simple answer to this question, I’d point to a few key facts.

First, European regulators seem to actually be aware that the pesticide industry has a vested interest in keeping their products on the market. Somehow officials here in the U.S. seem to have missed this — or don’t think it matters — and give the interests of industry “stakeholders” the same (or more) weight than those advocating for the public good.

Second, scientific evidence has more influence on policy making in the EU. While it still takes advocacy to make this happen (as our PAN UK and PAN EU partners know well), the value placed on independent science stands in stark contrast to the increasingly post-truth, politicized rulemaking process here across the pond.

EPA process rewards delay

And finally, Europe takes less of an “innocent until proven guilty” approach to pesticides. When evidence shows a product may be causing harm, it’s quickly taken off the market until manufacturers can prove otherwise, in the interest of public and/or environmental health.

Hence the moratorium on neonic use that was put in place three years ago, and made permanent this week.

In the U.S., a pesticide can be flagged as a “chemical of concern” and stay on the market for years — even decades — while manufactures pay their scientists to (slowly) make the case that their products are safe. Every additional season on the market means one more year of profit; incentives are strong to drag out the process as far as possible.

Avoiding the treadmill

Whether here or in Europe, one of our top objectives at PAN is dismantling the pesticide treadmill, or as our colleagues in the UK call it, the

pesticide merry-go-round, whereby chemicals banned because of their environmental and health impacts are simply replaced by similarly toxic alternatives

We strongly support the efforts of our colleagues in the UK and Europe to ensure the neonics that were recently banned are not replaced by “similarly toxic alternatives.” Let’s support practices that benefit farmers, rural communities and the environment instead.

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