3 Ways Big Business Can Green Up

When we think about recycling, most of the pressure falls on the consumer. Not the manufacturers or industry leaders who force us into certain packaging choices, or more often than not, no choice at all.

This is especially true of the food industry, but recycling goods in any industry can reduce waste and preserve resources.

Wouldn’t it be great if more of the responsibility for sustainability started at the beginning, rather than the end of the chain?

Here are a few ways businesses could make being ‘environmentally friendly’ a lot easier.

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Credit: UGRdivulga

1. Water Filtered With Fruit Peels

Mexican researchers have developed a way to filter heavy metals, and other pollutants from water using an absorbent material made almost entirely from discarded citrus peels, like oranges and grapefruits.

This is great because there isn’t any shortage of those. It’s estimated that the food industry produces about 38.2 million tons of fruit peel waste worldwide every year, so this is a great opportunity to put what is usually considered garbage to work.

The material is made using a new treatment called Instant Controlled Pressure Drop, then packing it into fixed bed columns.

“The results show a great potential for the use of said materials as adsorbents capable of competing with commercial activated carbon for the adsorption and recovery of metals present in wastewater in a way that it could be possible to carry out sustainable processes in which products with a great commercial value could be obtained from food industry residues.”

                                                             – Researcher Luis Alberto Romero Cano
          


UGRdivulga

Credit: UGRdivulga

2. Biodegradable Packaging That Keeps Food Fresher, Longer

Food packaging made from cellulose composites, or plant-based material, then coated with ‘active components’ that have anti-oxidizing and antimicrobial properties,
could be an alternative to traditional plastic polymers (AKA those disposable containers everything comes in).

Research has found clove ethereal oil to be best at tying free radicals and fighting oxidization, but it isn’t antimicrobial.

That’s where silver comes in. Adding iconic silver particles not only gives the material long-lasting antimicrobial properties but also makes it stronger and elastic.

These non-toxic materials take about two years to degrade.

The biggest challenge: making ready to use packaging from natural materials that are heat tolerant.

There are still difficulties in creating something that can hold up to an oven or microwave, yet decompose naturally after a certain length of time. Cellulose can’t be used in this way.

Similar products are already on the market. Compostable or edible water bottles seem to be gaining some traction. They range from somewhat appealing, to not at all.

One company has developed a bottle from Ooho, a gelatin-like substance made from seaweed and other plants. It can be flavored, is cheaper than plastic, and decomposes in 4-6 weeks. Another company, Biota, offers products that are corn based. Designer Ari Jónsson has created a bottle using red algae powder. Crystal Mountain and redleaf Water offer some slightly more traditional options.

Other entirely edible self-packaged foods, like Wikipearls, are becoming popular in Europe, and are sold in some parts of the US. They have plant and nut based skins, with yogurt, ice cream, or liquid centers.

It would be useful for our containers to dissolve naturally instead of clogging landfills and waterways forever. But how many of us actually want to take the next step and eat our water bottle, remains to be seen. Sometimes you just aren’t hungry.

3.  Recycling Rare Metals

New ways to recycle special and rare metals in batteries are on the horizon. Mining these metals is expensive and can take its toll on the environment.

The CoLaBats Initiative is working to make recycling metals like Cobalt, Lanthanides, Nickel, and Lithium easier and cost-efficient.

Task-Specific Ionic Liquids (TSIL), or ‘designer solvents’ as they are sometimes called, are used to break down Li-ion (Lithium-Ion Batteries) and NiMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride Batteries).

These batteries are used in many of our rechargeable goods, like phones, laptops, and increasingly in electric and hybrid cars. These liquids are non-toxic, cheap, and don’t require much processing to be reused.

Task-specific Ionic Liquid is essentially salt in a liquid state, that has been given special properties in order to perform a certain task. In some cases they can be used with traditional ionic liquids to reduce cost.

Another group of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are working on new ways to separate rare metals from batteries too.

The main method that is currently used for separating these metals is resource consuming. Hundreds of chambers of fluid are hooked up, and two fluids begin flowing past one another. One is acidic and water based, the other, organic. The metals then dissolve, and are extracted. This chemical process must be repeated thousands of times.

Due to expense, only about one percent of these types of metals are recycled.

“Everybody’s heard of blood diamonds, but maybe people haven’t heard of blood cobalt or tantalum or lithium for that matter. We shouldn’t just be throwing so much material away. There’s still a lot of value to them. I think that as part of a sustainable approach to manufacturing and developing a ‘circular’ economy, we should think about the impact and value of materials at every point along their life cycle. And how we can efficiently and effectively bring them back to useful raw materials once they’re at the end of their product life.”  

                                                           – Eric Schelter, Department of Chemistry, Penn’s School of Arts & Sciences

But that’s the old way.

A newer method reduces the amount of time and energy needed, while also decreasing waste generated during the process.

They’ve done this by bonding ions in mixtures. This mixture contains two types of elements. One is soluble in organics, the other isn’t. The solution acts as a filter, removing one metal from the others.

Benzene, the solvent used in most of these experiments is a natural part of crude oil, but it’s also carcinogenic. Because of this, researchers are still exploring other solvents friendlier to the environment.

Investing in such projects could help reduce landfill waste and metal consumption.

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Across The Pale Horizon

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 Across The Pale Horizon – Jonathan Turnick

Witness the finale of Apollo's charge,
  the soft landing of sun blown kiss,
  on the lips of a waiting world.

Watch her lips sparkle,
  in flecks of orange and ombré,
  of sunburnt reds, electric yellows.

Swim with vigor across the pale horizon,
  kick with glee at star tossed skies,
  cease to clasp the origin of scars.

Mourn the fade of evenings adieu,
  breathe and be embraced,
  in the flickering, starlit smile.

Taste sweet waters of evening air,
  dive deep in the well of light
  and emerge clean.

For More About Jonathan Turnick, Visit turnick.com

New Fossil Discovered, Named for Sir David Attenborough

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From left to right – David Siveter, Sir David Attenborough, and Derek Siveter.

 

 “The biggest compliment that a biologist or palaeontologist can pay to another one is to name a fossil in his honour and I take this as a very great compliment.”           – Sir David Attenborough

 

A 430 million-year-old fossil has been discovered by a team of scientists led by the University of Leicester.

The previously unknown crustacean is related to shrimp, crabs, crayfish and lobster. It was found in volcanic ash deposits in Herefordshire.

Only nine millimeters long, the well preserved ancient animal, eyes, antennae and all, has been named after Sir David Attenborough – in part to honor is 90th birthday. He spent some of his early days at University College Leicester, when his father was principal there.

 

Cascolus ravitis, here’s a breakdown of its meaning:

Cascolus, – from castrum, meaning stronghold.

colus – dwelling in, which has Old English connections to the name Attenborough.

ravitas – a combo of Ratae, a Roman name of Leicester and vita, life.

 

It has been reconstructed using 3D modeling.

Siveter et al

Credit: Siveter et al

 

This isn’t the first time Sir David Attenborough has had something named after him. A polar research ship,  the RRS Sir David Attenborough (after the popular vote “Boaty McBoatface was discarded) a wildflower, Attenborough Hawkweed, and a butterfly, Euptychia attenboroughi, to name three.

A few other notable people with plants or animals named after them:

Mick JaggerAegrotocatellus jaggeri, Trilobite fossil  

Kate Winslet –  Agra katewinsletae, a beetle

Lady Gaga –

  1. Gaga, animal
  2. Gagadon minimonstrum. prehistoric animal

 

Jon Stewart Aleiodes stewarti, wasp

 

Stephen Colbert –

 1. Aptostichus stephencolberti, California trapdoor spider 

2.  Agaporomorphus colberti, Venezuelan diving beetle 

3.  Diamphipnoa colberti, Chilean stonefly

4. Aleiodes colberti, Wasp from Ecuador

5. Sonoma colberti, Rove beetle 

Tanka By M. Kei – Vol. 2

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Watery Edge

the easy way
of a tall ship
on a summer’s day
the shore falling away
in the distance

lighthouses
on the Delaware Bay
caissons
whitewashed
by gulls

well down
the Delaware Bay
I abandon shoes
and breathe
the sea’s free air

the gentle rocking
of the ship
as she glides
down the diamond waters
of the Delaware Bay

sunset
off the starboard bow
cormorants
winging their way
into memory

the arch
of a dolphin’s back
disappearing
and reappearing
in the diamond sea

great blue herons
dark wings
the only shadows
shimmering
on a summer bay

View more poetry by M. Kei  here.

M. Kei is a tall ship sailor and award-winning poet who lives on Maryland’s Eastern shore. He is the editor of Atlas Poetica : A Journal of World Tanka. His most recent collection of poetry is January, A Tanka Diary. He is also the author of the award-winning gay Age of Sail adventure novels, Pirates of the Narrow Seas (blogspot.narrowseas.com). He can be followed on Twitter @kujakupoet, or visit AtlasPoetica.org.

Tanka By M. Kei – Vol. 1

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breaking the surface
without a sound,
a fish leaping
in the silence
of a spring evening

 

he rocks and rocks
in the cheap green hammock
the tourists gone,
the simple pleasure of
a wooden ship at anchor

 

the tomcat’s complaint
so used to freedom
he can’t accept
the leash
and harness

 

M. Kei is a tall ship sailor and award-winning poet who lives on Maryland’s Eastern shore. He is the editor of Atlas Poetica: A Journal of World Tanka. His most recent collection of poetry is January, A Tanka Diary. He is also the author of the award-winning gay Age of Sail adventure novels, Pirates of the Narrow Seas (blogspot.narrowseas.com). He can be followed on Twitter @kujakupoet, or visit AtlasPoetica.org.

4 Ways IBM’s Watson Wants to Help You Find the Perfect Recipe

cooking-experiments

There are many ways IBM’s Watson supercomputer has been sneaking into our lives unnoticed.

It’s being used increasingly in the health and medical industries. Sanofi, a French pharmaceutical company, has been using Watson to assist them in drug re-purposing. The FDA has signed a research agreement with IBM aimed at exchanging health data through blockchain. Sifting through mountains of info from wearables, clinical trials, patient records, and genomic data, to help determine which treatments work best.

Sports brand Under Armour is putting the technology to use in a new fitness app. So is a Japanese company that’s developed a robot called Pepper.

One of the more visible ways is with Chef Watson.

Cognitive Computing is being used to explore the differences in ingredients and their chemical properties in a visual way. Here are a few ways ‘Cognitive Computer Cooking’ might help with your next get together (or maybe not).

1.  After partnering with Bon Appétit in 2014, IBM launched a web app that lets you create your own full recipes with Watson. Working similarly to its sister online recipe makers, it allows you to choose one or more ingredients that you want, and rule out those you find objectionable. You can also start by selecting a dish you already know (like casserole) and hunt through possible ingredient combinations. Then Watson generates at least 100 recipes for you to try. They range from classic to experimental.

The Watson inspired combos are derived from an aggregate of 9,000 Bon Appétit recipes, combining several different recipes created by human chefs. It takes ideas and ingredients that have been used the most, then makes decisions/suggestions based on that.

Unfortunately, those of us without much cooking know how out there, looking for our own signature dish to be imagined for us, might be out of luck.

Watson is still learning itself and is apt to make mistakes. If it gives you the wrong proportion size, and you don’t catch it, you might end up with a ruined meal.

There are many occasions when you won’t need any experience to find mistakes. Like adding a lot of chocolate to blondies, kind of defeats the purpose.

2.  Bear Naked and Watson have cooked up a new way to enjoy your favorite granola snacks before you hit the trail (or the road to work).

At BearNakedCustom.com you can choose from 50 different ingredients to find your favorite blend. It all starts with the help of IBM Chef Watson, who selects possible flavor pairings based on your personal preferences, giving you the option to choose flavors you want, and exclude the ones you don’t. With thousands of possible combinations, it might just make it harder for you to choose!

Pick your granola, then select other ingredients which include fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs, spices and more. Choose up to 3 and hit save.

You can even name your blend and choose a bear illustration for the package.

The company that launched in 2002 is known for using all Non-GMO Project Verified and ethically sourced ingredients. From the cinnamon apples that come from Smeltzer Orchard Company, a family owned farm in Michigan, to Red Sea Salt enriched with red algae clay from Kauai, Hawaii.

It’s the first consumer brand to use Chef Watson based foods.

Certainly a novel idea that seems like it might stick around and be picked up by other businesses. How many times do you stare at 10 different pre-made flavors, and none of them are what you wanted?

3.  IBM Chef Watson Twist is an ios app that can help you mix up a new and unique cocktail-style drink. Just tell Watson your mood, choose non-alcoholic or with, add some flavors, and Bingo! Watson comes up with a drink that (hopefully) tickles your taste buds.

4.  In need of a cookbook? Even The Institute of Culinary Education has joined forces with Watson to publish a book of recipes, Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson: Recipes for Innovation from IBM & the Institute of Culinary Education, inspired by the supercomputer.

So what’s next for Chef Watson? A smarter mobile app, fewer mistakes, or new recipes derived from the internet’s entire recipe catalog?

Maybe what Watson really helps us discover is that a little experimentation is great, but we don’t always make such bad choices ourselves.

Autumn Poems – Vol. 1

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Rapids

A.R. Ammons

 

Fall’s leaves are redder than

spring’s flowers, have no pollen,

and also sometimes fly, as the wind

schools them out or down in shoals

or droves: though I

have not been here long, I can

look up at the sky at night and tell

how things are likely to go for

the next hundred million years:

the universe will probably not find

a way to vanish nor I

in all that time reappear.


Autumn Sunshine

D.H. Lawrence

 

The sun sets out the autumn crocuses

        And fills them up a pouring measure

        Of death-producing wine, till treasure

 Runs waste down their chalices.

 All, all Persephone’s pale cups of mould

        Are on the board, are over-filled;

        The portion to the gods is spilled;

 Now, mortals all, take hold!

 The time is now, the wine-cup full and full

        Of lambent heaven, a pledging-cup;

        Let now all mortal men take up

 The drink, and a long, strong pull.

  Out of the hell-queen’s cup, the heaven’s pale wine –

        Drink then, invisible heroes, drink.

        Lips to the vessels, never shrink,

  Throats to the heavens incline.

  And take within the wine the god’s great oath

        By heaven and earth and hellish stream

        To break this sick and nauseous dream

  We writhe and lust in, both.

  Swear, in the pale wine poured from the cups of the queen

        Of hell, to wake and be free

        From this nightmare we writhe in,

  Break out of this foul has-been.

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