Tag Archives: energy efficiency

Friday Linkage 6/14/2019

What the actual shit?  This is the Secretary of State of the United States of America telling the public that the solution to climate change is to move to different places. Oh, and the travel time for goods shipped between continents might be slashed because of the lack of sea ice.  I am sure everyone is going to be comforted knowing that their 65” television from China is getting here a little faster as they roast in a climate hellscape.

On to the links…

Report: Global Emissions At 7-Year High—Well, fuck.

EPA’s 3 Dirty Tricks to Undermine Regulation (and Why They Probably Won’t Work)—  We live in an alternate reality now where dirty is clean, good is bad, and facts are fake.

U.S. Renewable Power Capacity Surpasses Coal For The First Time—Buried in all the grim news are some glimmers of hope.

Here’s Proof That Electric Cars Are Displacing Gasoline—Demand destruction is a bitch.  Once that demand is gone it is not coming back and fossil fuel companies are starting to come to that realization.  These are millions of gallons of gasoline demand just…poof…gone from the market:

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Australia Missing Out on Huge Cuts in Emissions through Energy Efficiency Failure—Basically, if we just were more efficient with the energy that we already produce we could make major headway toward reducing emissions.  Using less energy to begin with is the first step in a net zero emission future.

Climate Change Is the Symptom. Consumer Culture Is the Disease.—Our modern society is just a joke.  We have become nothing more than money lungs bent on consumption of crap.

US Offshore Wind Race Heats Up, Now Connecticut In The Mix—To get to a zero net emission future offshore wind has to be part of the renewable energy portfolio.

Follow The Money: Global Investors Flee Coal Power Like A Hot Potato—Get used to the term stranded assets.  It essentially means assets that have no value because there is no buyer in the marketplace.  You may have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in a coal mine only to find that its value is zero  because there is no other party willing to invest.  What the market giveth the market can taketh away.

Renewlogy Turns Low-Grade Plastic into Usable Fuels—We have a plastic waste problem on this planet.  I do not know if turning plastic waste into a liquid fuel is the right idea, but it is better than anything that we are doing right now.

ALDI Ranks First Out of 20 Retailers for Reducing Single-Use Plastic—This is kind of like winning an ugliest dog contest.  Yes, you are a winner.  However, it is for being an ugly dog.

Processed Foods are a Much Bigger Health Problem than we Thought—Maybe that hokey diet advice about not eating ingredients you cannot pronounce was not that hokey after all.  Maybe there is no reason for PopTarts to exist.

Are McMansions Making People Any Happier?—A bigger house will not make you happier.  A grill with twelve burners and a Bluetooth meat thermometer will not make you happier.  As a matter of fact most stuff will not make you any happier beyond the initial sugar rush of the initial purchase.  Get off the hedonistic treadmill.

Climate Change I Have Known—Climate change is real and its impacts on our lives are noticeable.

Your Coffee-Buying Habit Could Hamper Your Retirement—It is important to think about personal finance in terms that people can understand.  Retirement for most people is something so far away that we fail to understand just how powerful actions taken today can be in setting us up for future success.

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Friday Linkage 6/7/2019

Do we live in an alternate reality?  Watching Donald Trump and his family pretend to be royalty on a state visit to the United Kingdom was maybe one of the most disturbing things I have witnessed in recent memory.

It was not as bad as horrible laws passed to punish people based on archaic religious views that have no place in American government.  It was not as jarring as seeing pictures of asylum seekers being ripped from their children to satisfy the base desires of rabidly racist political base.  It was, however, disturbing on a different level.

Donald Trump believes, deep down in his little shriveled soul, that he is analogous to the Queen.  You can see it in his face when he poses with his children in formalwear that the entire corrupt brood feels as if they are American royalty.  Blue collar billionaire my ass.  Donald Trump is a dime store duke or ersatz earl.

On to the links…

The Radical Plan to Save the Planet by Working Less—I think this has less to do with overtly saving the planet and more to do with realigning our human existence.  What has our obsession with every increasing workloads in the name of economic growth done for us lately?  Who is happier?  Who is healthier?  Outside of a few billionaires reaping the benefits of our labors I would endeavor to say that almost no one is better off.

Donald Trump Is Sending Park Rangers to the Border to Help Enforce His Immigration Policies—What the f*ck?  Charles Blow in the New York Times pretty much nailed it when he wrote that every action by this administration is an effort to shore up the continued dominance of conservative white control.

Coal Plants Are a Dying Breed—Despite his best efforts or, maybe because of his best efforts given his track record of business failures, coal is dying.  Check out the chart:

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Now, every wind turbine and solar panel we can install is another kWh we take away from coal.

How California Became Far More Energy-Efficient than the Rest of the Country—This is why Donald Trump and his administration want to hamstring California’s legal right to set its own efficiency targets.  It works.  Less electricity demand means less need for coal.

We Electrified Everything (and So Can You)—This is the personal climate action plan that everyone needs to adopt:

  1. Electrify everything possible in your life
  2. Use as little of those electrified things as possible
  3. Produce as much electricity from your roof as possible

It sounds simple because it is.

Massachusetts Looks to Beef Up Commitment to Offshore Wind—The east coast of the United States is not a good place for onshore wind.  However, offshore wind could put a lot of renewable energy within close geographic proximity to millions of people.

Chile’s Cheap Power – Sign Of A Solar Future?—These prices for solar power are scary low.  Scary for coal and scary for natural gas.  I love the last line in the article: “And that means the future is electric, renewable and, best of all, cheap.”

Diving Gas Costs Spark Potential Rare Switch Away From Coal in Japan—Coal cannot survive in a world where other energy sources are cleaner and less expensive.

Ford Recycles 1.2 Billion Plastic Bottles a Year for Auto Parts—It is a proverbial drop in the bucket, but I wonder if there is an idea here to help create a real market for recycled plastics.  If there is a market for Kardashians there has to be a market for recycled plastics.

NREL Scientists have a Plan to Fight Ocean Plastic: Upcycle it into Something Valuable—Create a market and people will be all over recycling plastic.

Woman Collects 2.4 Tons of Trash on Nova Scotia Beaches in 1 year—If one person can collect more than 2 tons of trash in a year, what can we accompolish as a community dedicated to environmental restoration?

Lyft Offers Free EV Charging to Portland Drivers—I do not know if Uber and Lyft are in this for the long haul given their money losing business models, but this cannot do anything but help increase the adoption of EVs.  Furthermore, if more people are exposed to EVs that is a good thing.

A Pioneer of Battery-Powered Trains Now Wants a Nationwide Fleet of Them—Electrifying transportation is not just about personal automobiles.

The Preachers Getting Rich from Poor Americans—These sons of bitches still exist and are fleecing poor people out of their money.  If you are a pastor and you fly on a private jet you have failed to read and understand the gospel of Jesus.

Why You Want Oysters and a Salt Marsh between You and a Hurricane—Here’s an idea: why don’t we deploy these natural solutions to as many places as possible rather than blindly rebuilding communities in the paths of ever more destructive hurricanes.  It’s not like we can keep building castles in swamps until they stop sinking.

Students in the Philippines must Plant 10 Trees to Graduate—Reminds me of the part in Ecotopia where someone wanting to build a house needed to spend time planting and harvesting trees in order to obtain the building materials.  Would the world be a better place where we understood the origin of the things we consume?

Urban Forests are Dying. Baltimore Shows us How to Bring them Back.—We are urban creatures now.  We need to preserve and regenerate our urban forests.  It is not an impossible task.

Friday Linkage 5/10/2019

Steve King, the vile racist from northwest Iowa who inexplicably gets elected every two years to the House of Representatives despite achieving nothing for his time in Congress, is the fucking worst.  As Davenport, a city in Iowa that sits along the Mississippi River as part of the Quad Cities, was dealing with flooding downtown following epic early season rain and a failure of a temporary barrier Steve King had the audacity to speak:

… That means it will rain more and more places. It might rain harder in some places, it might snow in some of those places. But it’s surely gotta shrink the deserts and expand the green growth, there’s surely got to be some good in that. So I just look at the other, good side.

Seriously?  This is the modern Republican Party in the age of Trump.  Don’t worry about global ecological disaster because it might get better in a few places.

On to the links…

How Taxpayers Covered a $1,000 Liquor Bill for Trump Staffers (and More) at Trump’s Club—Nothing like a little self-serving corruption to line the pockets.  My favorite part?  Lining out the taxes on the bill.  Only the little people pay taxes.

The Tax Bill for Many Big Polluters Last Year: $0—The Trump Administration is an orgy of bad behavior and giveaways to industry.  Everyone is fat, drunk, and happy right now because they get to keep on drilling and dumping like there is no tomorrow.  The hangover in 2021 is going to be brutal for these people.

Environmentalists Fight Mining Plan By Ivanka Trump’s Billionaire Landlord—The key thing in Trump world is to make sure that you ladle benefits upon Trump and his children.  If you can manage to butter the family circle up the world is your oyster.  Or open pit mine.

The Trump Organization’s Problem with Possible Money Laundering—Just in case you needed a little reminder as to the myriad ways that the Trump Organization is profiting from the public trust.

Mike Pompeo Admitted the Arctic Is Melting. He Just Didn’t Mention Why.—This is the new Republican message on climate change.  Yes, I recognize that the planet is going haywire.  I am not a scientist, so I cannot speculate as to why.  Would you like to drill for oil on public lands?

Can New York Make Buildings Super-Efficient, Fast?—Imagine this kind of effort on a regional or nationwide scale?  This is the type of near term “victory” that we can achieve vis a vis energy usage to reduce our carbon emissions without radically altering our way of life.

We’ll Soon Know the Exact Air Pollution from Every Power Plant in the World. That’s Huge.—Or is it yuge?

1 in 5 Americans Now Live in Places Committed to 100% Clean Power—Twenty percent is a lot, but more is better.  I am sure there was a time when it looked like we would ever get rid of leaded gas and catalytic converters seemed like techno-mumbo jumbo.

Why the Bicycle’s Future Looks Bright—The bicycle’s future has always been bright because there is no simpler device that can return such ample benefit.

Dark Money Group Spent $1.25 Million on TV Ads Supporting Bill Imposing New Fee on Solar Panels—I do not watch much television, so I did not see these ads, but apparently these ads were on all the time.  Nothing says transparency like a dark money campaign to get people to pay more.

Iowans Use a Lot of Energy. Here’s How Much.—Damn, we use a lot of energy per capita in this state.

The Problem With Lab-Grown Meat—This is the same problem with organic when “big food” got into the game.  It replicated the ills of the industrial agriculture system with a veneer of planetary benefit.

The Complicated Gender Politics of Going Zero Waste—This kind of reminds me of the joke about newspapers announcing the end of the world.  The Washington Post’s headline was going to be “World Ends: Women and Children Impacted Most.”

Do Married Millennials Cheat on Each Other?—Every time I see an article about Millennials having a marked improvement in a certain behavior I believe that the headline is missing the point.  Millennials, in many wars, are reverting to norms of behavior that predate the worst generation in American history: baby boomers.  Baby boomers are the worst.  Fight me.
Oh, No, Not Knotweed!—I have yet to run across this nasty invasive yet, but based on this article I never hope to see a single sprout.

Friday Linkage 3/8/2019

Every week I think that world cannot get crazier and every week I am shocked to find that it may have actually gotten worse.

We now live in an America where layers upon layers of the President’s advisers, confidants, lawyers, and administration members are actually convicted of felonies and sentenced to jail time but Republican loyalists continue to defend the administration tooth and nail.

We now live in an America where a national news network is working hand in glove with a corrupt political party to sway Americans’ opinions on issues to favor billionaires despite these policies harming the vast majority of people in this country.

We now live in an America…just fill in the blank with the latest depravity.  When does this madness stop?

On to the links…

What Democrats and Republicans Drink on Mardi Gras—If your choice of beer in 2019 is Michelob Ultra than you are everything that is wrong with this world.

Republicans Warn That Liberals Are Coming for Your Burgers—It makes for a nice sound bite to rile up your Uncle Carl watching Fox News all day, but it is not true.  Today’s Republican Party is a joke.  It is a purely reactionary body of low level hucksters selling a vision of society that appeals to a narrow band of the American public.

To Revive Rural America, We Must Fix Our Broken Food System—When politicians talk about rural America or the farm economy they are really talking about policies that favor gigantic agribusiness at the expense of both farmers and food consumers.  Once you understand that paradigm everything in the farm bill begins to make sense.

Jay Inslee just Launched a Presidential Campaign that will be All About Climate Change—It is likely that Jay Inslee will fall short of the nomination.  Heck, with this many people running right now it is likely that a lot of people will fall short.  However, this is an important addition to the political conversation and I am glad that Jay Inslee has the courage to make it his issue.

Post-Hurricane Harvey, NASA Tried to Fly a Pollution-Spotting Plane over Houston. The EPA said No—In Trump’s America pollution is good for you because it is brought to you by oil and gas companies.  Of course they have the best interests of the public in mind.  Right?

Coal Burning Plants Aren’t Just Polluting the Air—They’re Poisoning Water—Exactly what is good about coal?

Banks around the World Opt to Offload Coal—Get used to hearing about the weighted average cost of capital for coal projects.  The higher the WACC goes the less likely it is for coal projects to get funded because they cannot deliver the necessary return on investment relative to their risk profile.  Banks getting out of the coal game drives the WACC higher.

Wyoming Legislature Extends Lifeline to Coal Power—This is what the free market looks like under modern day conservative leadership.  If something is uneconomical and bad for the environment it must get supported because the paymasters running oil, gas, and coal companies need to be kept in business at the expense of anything else.

Colorado Democrats’ High-Stakes Oil and Gas Bill Is Finally Here—Oil and gas companies have run roughshod over the people of Colorado for decade.  Fracking rigs come right up to residential neighborhoods.  Houses even end up exploding.  A changing state is the canary in the coal mine for oil and gas dominance of the American West.

An Illinois Bill Leans into the Most Contentious Part of the Green New Deal—Environmental justice is also social justice.  As the environment is degraded the people who will suffer the most are the ones who had the least responsibility for the degradation.

Finland Approves 2029 Coal Ban For Energy Use—You go Finland.

This Is What Peak Car Looks Like—The financial argument is one thing.  What happens when cities decide that dedicating so much valuable space to personal automobiles is a waste?  The future is now.

Electrify Everything: Why our Thinking has to be as Flexible and Resilient as our Buildings—The key to resilience is flexibility.  What works in one place may not be the best use of resource is another place.  Solutions are tailorable to particular locations.

This Is How the Age of Plastics Began—Plastic is the trash that we have the hardest time dealing with and this is how the problem began.  If we need to decarbonize our society we must also work on ridding our products of plastic.

Recycling Is Broken—How we deal with our trash—which is really what recycling is at the end of the day—is coming for a reckoning now that we can no longer easily outsource the job to China and other developing economies.

Californians are Losing Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Recycling Deposits—As human beings we are not the most rational creatures when it comes to money despite what economists would like to tell us.  Sure, this money is spread out in small amounts across large numbers of people so the perceived loss is low.  However, this is still a lot of money left on the table.

Is This the Death Rattle of Mail-Order Meal Kits?—God I hope so.  These kits are like the worst habits of your local grocery store delivered to your doorstep.  So much plastic.

The Science Behind Why Hipsters Always End Up Looking the Same—Interesting.

Friday Linkage 2/22/2019

What is it with my kids and John Tesh?  Every night when we drive home from various activities they both beg for the radio to be turned to the station that plays Tesh’s syndicated “Music and Intelligence for Your Life.”

It is so odd to hear them discuss the relative merits of whatever study or lifestyle tidbit Tesh brings up between songs.

On to the links…

Minnesota’s Climate Begins its Descent Toward an Unrecognizable Future—The future is happening now when it comes to climate change.  The impacts may not be noticeable in the short term, but the changes are happening.

Planting 1.2 Trillion Trees Could Cancel Out a Decade of CO2 Emissions—What are we waiting for?

Amazon’s $0 Corporate Income Tax Bill Last Year, Explained—This is the symptom of a failed policy.  Amazon makes billions of dollars a year and uses a loophole to pay no tax.

The Secret Ingredient for Cutting Costs and CO2 Emissions in Infrastructure—There are huge savings in terms of energy efficiency when we look at the biggest users of energy across the United States.  Cutting the energy consumption of these “low hanging fruit” could deliver massive savings for relatively low cost on a timescale that is fairly quick.

BP Energy Outlook Predicts Renewable Energy Will Be Dominant By 2040—Remember, this is an old line fossil fuel company putting out a technical analysis that says renewables are going to win.

Trump’s Intervention Fails to Save Coal-Fired Power Plant—Remember when Republicans were all about the free market because…uh, freedom?  The market has said that coal is a dead technology and that the transition is underway, but people like Trump and McConnell have coal barons to keep happy.

EU Setting its First Emissions Standards for Big Trucks to Lower C02—Cutting the emissions of heavy duty and heavy use trucks is probably the biggest bang for the invested dollar that we can get in the near term.

World’s Biggest Battery to Boost Solar in Texas—Texas, surprisingly, is driving a lot of innovation in renewable energy.  First it was a lot of wind and now it looks like solar plus storage is going to be the next big thing.  Everything is bigger in Texas.

World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm Hornsea One Generates First Power—I am noticing a trend with these renewable energy stories.  Every other one seems to be about the “world’s largest” something.  Largest storage battery, largest offshore wind farm…you get the idea.

Vineyard Wind Proposes 1,200 Megawatt “Liberty Wind” Offshore Project For New York—This would be America’s largest offshore wind farm.  Okay, that would not take a lot.

Here Comes All Your California Offshore Wind Jobs—The craziest number in this article is 112 gigawatts.  This represents the state’s technical offshore resources, which is a figure higher than the state’s current electricity needs.

Giant Wind Power Transmission Project Could Spark New Wind Rush In Wind Belt—The more wind power that we can deploy in the Great Plains the better.  It is clean, green power that helps economically depressed communities by bringing much needed income and property tax base.

Adding Balance to the Meat Debate—There is something to be said for balance.  What we eat is as important as how it was made.  A processed meat free “chicken” nugget may not be any better than a piece of chicken from a pasture raised bird.  There is a lot of nuance.  People hate nuance.  It forces them to think.

A Comeback for African National Parks—It’s not all bad news.  It appears that if we resource the parks and do not encroach on the boundaries with development that large animals can succeed.

Friday Linkage 2/15/2019

It’s not a polar vortex in February, but for some reason I would take the cold temperatures over what we have had the past two weeks.  How does an inch or so of ice that gets topped off with nearly a foot of snow and capped with a little wintry mix?  Add in the drifting from 40 mile per hour winds and temperatures that swing thirty degrees in a twenty four hour period.  That is what February has been like so far in eastern Iowa.

Now you know why I am dreaming of spring.

On to the links…

Uniquely American’: Senate Passes Landmark Bill to Enlarge National Parks—Good things can happen.  This is an unalloyed win for advocates of public lands.  Granted, it still requires a signature from individual number 1 but I have to imagine that even he is inclined to go with the flow on this.

What’s Missing from the Green New Deal—I think that the most important thing is that we are having a conversation about the Green New Deal.  Could you imagine this happening just two years ago following Trump’s “victory” and the ascension of a completely Republican controlled Washington D.C.?  Nope.

Priorities: Where Do You Start with the Green New Deal?—If it were me, I would start with a nationwide reforestation effort focused on degraded lands.  It could be lands impacted by mining in Appalachia, beetle kill in Colorado, and wildfire in California.

Is Renewables’ Production Tax Credit Bullet Proof?—I have to imagine that in this political climate the production tax credit for renewables is going to get renewed past 2020.  Some red state Republicans support the PTC and Democrats are in favor, so the odds are favorable.

Trump Administration will try to Exempt Specialty Bulbs from Energy Efficiency Standards—Of course the Trump administration will try to roll back new energy efficiency standards.  Try is the operative word.  BTW, can we just kill the Edison bulb trend?

USDA says Filler once Known as ‘Pink Slime’ can be Labeled Ground Beef—Of course the USDA would allow pink slime to be labelled as ground beef.  It is like we live in a dystopia where the president feeds visitors to the White House fast food…oh shit, we do live in Idiocracy now.  Damn.

China is polluting California’s air—Pollution is both local and global.  The air may be horrible in China and India, but those same pollutants will impact other countries.  Even countries an ocean away.  Just because we have outsourced our pollution does not mean that we have avoided our pollution.

Coal Developers Take Note: Climate Change Killed This Coal Mine—Climate change is real and people are really starting to take notice.  If a judge uses this as a reason to stop coal development we may have finally turned a corner.

War on Plastics May Stunt Oil Demand Growth Projections—Take a look at the chart:

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Thirty six percent of the demand for plastic is for packaging.  Buy less stuff to save money and reduce the demand for disposable plastic.

Another Way To Power Electric Cars: “Refillable Technology”—Flow batteries and related technologies, which this particular article deals with, seem like a great way to get around the problem of quickly charging EVs.  I wonder if there is a way to get the best of both worlds.  Make an EV that you charge at home most days, but have the option of refilling with charged electrolyte when on a trip far from home.

How EV HVAC Use Impacts Range Much More Than Extreme Temps—If there is a negative article about EVs you can bet the press is going to pounce.  Here is the thing, even with reduced range an EV will handle your daily commute.  Why is this even a story anymore?  And another thing, where were the articles about traditional ICE cars not being able to start in the polar vortex?

California to Transition to 100 Percent Electric Buses by 2040—Why can’t we make this a goal for 2030?  If transitioning 12,000 busses is the equivalent of 4 million cars we should be all over this effort.

Bottle Recycling in Oregon Hits 90 Percent Record High—I live in a state with a bottle deposit law and it works.  I imagine that if we adopted a nationwide ten cents per bottle deposit law that recycling rates for cans and bottles would increase accordingly.

How Big-Box Stores Bilk Local Governments—Here is why our governments—local, state, and federal—do not have the money to implement programs people care about: businesses have manipulated the tax code with loopholes to avoid paying any tax.

Solar Jobs Climb in Iowa—Most of the news around solar in the U.S. has been a downer lately as the Trump tariffs have bitten the industry.  However, Iowa solar jobs were up which is a good thing.

Friday Linkage 2/1/2019

It is February, it is freaking cold, and nothing seems to be going right anywhere.  Oh wait, the long awaited third entry in the Bill & Ted cycle may be coming to theaters before the end of the year.  Most excellent.  It would be a not heinous way to end 2019.

Wyld Stallyns may be forced to face the music, so we can hope that other people in our world—fictional or otherwise—will have to answer for their misdeeds in 2019.

Be excellent to each other!  Party on dudes!

On to the links…

The Trump Administration has Lost More than 90 Percent of its Court Battles Over Reregulation—For all the sound and fury of the Trump administration over the past two years—has it really been that long—most of the deregulation efforts have failed to pass legal muster.

Democrats Want Answers about the Interior Department’s Decisions During the Shutdown—Wow, another scandal at the Department of the Interior.  This is my surprised face:

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US Plug-In Electric Car Sales Charted: December 2018—Check out the market share:

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Last year and the year before it could not crack 2% total market share.  This year total EV sales went above 3% in the latter part of the year.  When does the tipping point occur?

The Biggest Returns—Imagine if there was a way to produce a dollar of economic activity without damaging the planet.  Oh wait, we call it energy efficiency.  The greenest source of energy is the energy you never need to produce.

Texas Grid Is Now 30% Carbon-Free, Led By Wind—Big red state Texas, actually increasingly purplish, is also a big time state for renewables.

Report says Offshore Wind could Beat Onshore Wind on Cost—Imagine the Atlantic seaboard getting on board with offshore wind.  Or the Gulf of Mexico, with an already established industry of offshore specialists, deploying offshore wind rather than drilling for oil. Now, imagine that offshore wind energy is cheap.

Supermarket Cuts Emissions 53%, Offsets Rest—Grocery stores seem like such an easy target for energy efficiency.  Just imagine the average dairy section in an average American grocery store.  What do you see?  I am guessing that it has refrigerated cases open to the ambient air.  Why?  Just one example of how we can do so much better without really sacrificing our way of life.

Are Cargo Bikes the Future for Urban Deliveries?—The future?  In some places this is the present.  Bikes are the best solution for delivery of the last mile in denser environments.  Let’s see…no pollution, no noise, small footprint…yeah, pretty much awesome.

The Zero-Waste Movement is Coming for your Garbage—Zero waste is a good goal.  Here is the better goal: Buy less stuff.  Just a reminder, if a company is telling you how green their packaging is it probably means that they are trying to assuage your green guilt and encourage you to buy more.

Eco-Friendly Options for Decluttering Waste—Decluttering is a thing right now.  Blame Netflix and Marie Kondo.  It was popular when she had a book, but now that people can binge watch a show it is a cultural phenomenon.  I just hope that we are finding appropriate places for all of this stuff being tossed out of homes.