Obviously, cutting food waste is both a moral and environmental imperative. Still, when I read Paul Hawken’s Drawdown, I was surprised to see reducing food waste listed as the #3 solution to climate change, right after greener refrigerants and scaled up wind energy. Yet it continues to get considerably less attention than renewable energy or fancy electric trucks.
Things, however, might be changing. And just like the recent flurry of corporate commitments on single use plastics, we’re beginning to see similar efforts to cut back on wasted food too. The latest comes from Cranswick, one of the largest food companies in the UK and a specialist in fresh, frozen and deli meats as well as pastry products. According to Business Green, the company is promising to become a “zero food waste” company by 2030 at the latest.
But that’s not all, as part of a plan that Cranswick is calling “Second Nature”, the company is also promising to purchase 100% renewable energy starting next month, to halve its plastic use by 2025, and to also achieve 100% recyclable packaging by the same date. This is good stuff, and builds on energy efficiency efforts which have already seen a 20% reduction in energy consumption per tonne of product manufactured since 2008.
Specifically, it’s worth noting, a plan like this will have an out-sized impact because much of Cranswick’s products are meat- or animal-products based. And as Derek previously noted, meat waste is the worst waste because its production is so much more energy and resource intensive in the first place.
Now, I wonder if Cranswick is also down with efforts to promote more plant-centered diets too. They wouldn’t be the first meat-centric company to start looking at that possibility.
When I wrote about a clothing company that has removed 1,000,000 lbs of trash from our waterways, some commenters argued that it was a band-aid solution.
We need to stop producing the trash in the first place.
They were right, of course. While I don’t see it as an either/or question—we can remove trash from rivers AND work to eradicate it at source—we do need to focus much more of our energy upstream. Until recently, however, that felt very much like an uphill battle. As we’ve noted already, however, the tide does seem to be shifting on this issue. And it’s encouraging to see the momentum on ending plastic waste continuing, with the UK making a particularly concerted effort.
Among the latest announcements from my homeland that are worthy of note:
- London City Airport is ditching plastic straws from all of its restaurants.
- NorthLink Ferries is ditching plastic straws for paper ones, and also looking at replacing plastic bags, cups, plates and sauce sachets too.
- A whole host of restaurant chains including Rick Stein’s Fish, JD Wetherspoons and Costa Coffee are all getting rid of straws.
- Costa Coffee is also teaming up, by the way, with water utilities to offer free drinking water refills at its 3,000 high street coffee shops as part of a broader nationwide drinking water refill network.
Let’s hope these are signs of even bigger, more ambitious efforts to come.
MycoWorks is a company that is “good for people” and “great for the Earth.” The founders are from some of the world’s leading teaching and research institutions such as Stanford University and Berkeley University. They came together to innovate a product that doesn’t rely on animal consumption. Using one of nature’s most abundant resources – mushrooms, they have found a way to manufacture leather.
“We love the qualities of leather, but it’s a resource–intensive product that is tied to the livestock industry. At MycoWorks, we found a solution in nature.”
“We have created a new kind of leather grown rapidly from mycelium and agricultural byproducts in a carbon-negative process. Our custom-engineered material is sustainable, versatile, and animal-free. Best of all, it feels and performs like leather.”
The material is water-resistant, breathable and unlike animal hides, it can be grown to nearly any size and shape. The vegan leather can be soft, hard, flexible or even sewable, making it a biodegradable alternative that seeks to solve today’s greatest challenges. This company has shown us first hand that it can help build a better world with nature’s best tools.
In this video entitled ‘The Funghi in Your Future’, Phillip Ross, MycoWorks CEO explains the manufacturing process in greater detail.
Image Credit: ScienceFriday
We write a lot about interesting startups here at TreeHugger, and not all of them make it to fruition. That’s why—after writing about the very awesome #2MinuteBeachClean—I was delighted to get an email from United By Blue, the green-minded apparel company United By Blue, which Jaymi lauded for removing 82,527 pounds of trash from rivers, streams and beaches back in 2011.
As Warren had noted even earlier, the concept is pretty simple. For every item sold, United By Blue will remove one pound of trash from the environment. What’s important to note here is that we are not talking about simply donating to ocean clean up charities. Instead, the company sees clean up as an integral part of their own operations—dedicating staff time, budget and resources to organizing clean ups themselves, and bringing a community of volunteers along for the ride.
It’s a pretty neat model. And now, with a full e-commerce store selling everything from bison wool beanies to pants and t-shirts and luggage, as well as three brick-and-mortar retail locations, United By Blue has just announced that they have collected over 1,000,000 pounds of trash since their inception. That number was reached by hosting 202 separate clean up events across 27 states, and I have word from their team that there are much, much bigger plans brewing for the year ahead.
I can’t say more at this stage, except watch this space. Given the massive uptick in interest in ocean plastics recently, United By Blue may be a business model whose time has finally come.
So glad to see they made it to maturity.
Election interference has opened the door for the government to clamp down on social media companies. But while executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter have made multiple trips to testify in front of Congress, there’s been no clear movement towards enforcement.
“I think that you do it exactly the same way that you regulated the cigarette industry. Here’s a product: Cigarettes. They’re addictive, they’re not good for you,” Benioff told CNBC’s “Squawk Alley” on Tuesday. “I think that for sure, technology has addictive qualities that we have to address, and that product designers are working to make those products more addictive and we need to rein that back.”
Benioff said that there’s confusion about whether social media use is bad for people and it’s the government’s job to step in and provide clarity for parents. There’s a smoking age for cigarettes and regulations around how they can be promoted, but no such rules exist for social media.
Facebook has already taken steps to avoid the same fate as the tobacco industry. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has resolved to fix the issues with Facebook this year and significantly refocused the customer experience away from divisive news.
Regulators are questioning whether Russian ads — viewed by millions of social media users — influenced the U.S. presidential election in 2016.
“We’re the same as any other industry,” Benioff said. Like, “financial services, consumer product goods, food — in technology, the government’s going to have to be involved. There is some regulation but there probably will have to be more.”
Benioff was interviewed in Davos, Switzerland, the site of the World Economic Forum, where he discussed issues in Silicon Valley around tech culture, inequality and discrimination.
“I don’t think it’s fundamentally broken,” Benioff said of the industry’s culture. He said there are “two worlds,” one with companies driven by purpose, “and then you have CEOs that are only focused on the product.”
Benioff was heralded as a top CEO for his leadership role at Salesforce, according to a survey by Comparably last year. And the tone at the top has been of special focus in Silicon Valley this year, as allegations around racial and gender discrimination have made headlines.
Benioff said that he’s had almost 20 years to observe the changes in Silicon Valley and, from the beginning, Salesforce has committed resources to a foundation as a multipronged approach to improving the world.
Still, Benioff said, the tone at Davos is lighter among business leaders than in the post-recession years, noting a “huge amount of exuberance” among CEOs around the recent tax overhaul.
“The economic freight train is going to continue,” he said.
Co-founded in August 2010 by Naveen Jain, Robert D. Richards and Barney Pell, Moon Express is a California-based private space firm that vows to be the first private organisation to land on the Moon. Their mission? To set up a Lunar mining facility.
June 30th 2011 marked the first successful test flight of their lunar Lander Test Vehicle (LTV), which was developed in tandem with NASA. After setting up a robotics lab in September of that same year, establishing a partnership with the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) in 2012, becoming the first ever private company to demonstrate a fully operational commercial lander (their MTV-1X) in December 2014 and unveiling their robotic rocket architecture, as well as plans for regular moon deliveries in July 2017, Moon Express appears to be well on their way to fulfilling their promise by the end of 2018.
The company made plans to launch in late 2017 before being pushed back to this year. However, they’re still optimistic. “It’s definitely going to be next year”, Chairman Naveen Jain stated back in 2017, in a TV interview with CNBC. “We are in the final stretches of it. And as you can imagine it’s rocket science,”. Rocket Lab, the company producing the electron booster that will take Moon Express’ lander to the moon delayed their flight test to early this year. But with so much already achieved, Mr Jain and crew are confident. “And when we launch and land on the moon, not only (do) we become the first company to do so, we actually symbolically become the fourth superpower”.
Aside from titular prospects are monetary ones, with a $20 million reward to follow their accomplishment. Moon Express is competing for the Google Lunar XPRIZE, which yields a financial reward for the first private firm to land on the moon, travel 500 meters and transmit HD video back to Earth. Though Moon Express hasn’t yet revealed a launch date, the deadline for Google’s Lunar XPRIZE is March 2018. However, the company’s main priority is just getting to the moon and back successfully. “I really believe that lunar is going to become like our eighth continent”, Jain told CNBC. “We are going to have a permanent presence there, we are going to have internet there and we are going to be able to communicate just like we communicate from here to even Australia”.
Rocket Lab’s experimental Electron booster rocket is set to launch between the 20th and 29th of January. If the flight is successful, Moon Express are in the clear to be the first private company to land on the moon.
Image Credit: Moon Express
Dealing with cancer is devastating enough on its own, but when the drug your doctors have told you that you need costs a ridiculous amount of money, it adds even more stress to an already traumatic situation. Unfortunately, this is the sad reality for the many people who need lomustine, a drug that can be a lifesaver for patients suffering from Hodgkin’s lymphoma and brain tumors.
The drug was sold for years as CeeNU for around $50 a capsule until Bristol-Myers Squib sold it to NextSource. The ruthless startup then raised the price of the drug nine times, bringing its current price to $768 per pill and rebranding it as Gleostine. This is an increase of 1400 percent and far higher than the inflation rate, and it’s an example of pharmaceutical company greed as its worst.
The company’s CEO, Robert DiCrisci, had the audacity to tell the Wall Street Journal that the price was set based on the costs they incurred developing the medication – even though they bought it already fully developed from another company! He also said that the benefits it provides patients is part of the price. In other words, the more desperately the patient needs it, the higher the price they believe they can command for it. Yes, it’s business, but it’s also preying on those in need in the cruelest way possible.
DiCrisci’s reasoning behind the way the price was set also fails to explain why it went up 20 percent in August and then a further 12 percent in November.
Duke University neuro-oncology Professor Henry Friedman said: “This is simply price gouging. People are not going to be able to afford it, or they’re going to pay a lot of money and have financial liability.”
Drug price hikes are nothing new
Drug price hikes are everywhere you look these days. For example, the price of a periodic paralysis medication went from being free to costing in excess of $100,000 a year. EpiPens, which can be life-saving in cases of allergic reactions, rose from $57 to more than $700 recently despite costing $2 to produce, while a muscular dystrophy medication saw a 7,000-fold price hike last year. In one of the most high-profile cases of price gouging, Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli increased the cost of the AIDS drug Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill in a rise of 5,000 percent.
This type of headline is becoming all too common, and the problem won’t subside any time soon because this is Big Pharma’s entire revenue model. The drug market, as Mytheos Holt points out in Townhall, is not exactly a free market given the monopolies that dominate it.
Big Pharma lobbying means we’ll see more of this behavior in the future
Right now, there are 319 drugs on the market that do not have any cheaper competition in generic forms. Part of this is because of the lobbying efforts Big Pharma has made to protect its monopolies. It’s worth noting that 399 House members and 97 senators received contributions from pharmaceutical companies during the election cycle of 2016.
Lomustine has never been turned into a generic drug despite no longer being under patent protection, and that lack of competition has those who need the drug at the mercy of the only supplier – and NextSource is apparently not interested in showing anyone any mercy. The price hike puts this medication out of the reach of many patients. Taking advantage of the sickest and most vulnerable people and exploiting their pain for profit is a heartless move, but it’s becoming just another day at work in the world of Big Pharma.
“Sex should be fun and safe, but nowadays a lot of things can go wrong,” the company says on its website.
When you find yourself at close quarters and it looks like you’re heading for some steamy action, all you have to do is open the LegalFling app, scroll through your contacts and send a request. Your sexual preferences, turn-ons, dos and don’ts – anything worth mentioning will be automatically communicated to your partner on the receiving end.
“Asking someone to sign a contract before the fun starts is a little uncomfortable. A simple swipe is easy as 1-2-3,” the company says.
The LegalFling website is crystal clear that anyone has the right to change their mind at any time.
“‘No’ means ‘no’ at any time. Being passed out means ‘no’ at any time,” the FAQ page states.
“This is explicitly described in the agreement. Additionally, you can withdraw consent going forward through the LegalFling app with a single click.” All you need to do in the thick of the action is take a deep breath, open the app and adjust the settings to tell your sex partner you are no longer comfortable with something.
The app, which was created in the wake of the #MeToo movement, could also help avoid some embarrassing situations. “Think of unwanted videos, withholding information about STDs and offensive porn re-enactment. While you’re protected by law, litigating any offenses through court is nearly impossible in reality. LegalFling creates a legally binding agreement, which means any offense is a breach of contract. By using the Live Contracts protocol, your private agreement is verifiable using the blockchain and enforceable with a single click.”
Some experts say the high-tech app is still far from reality, with certain nuances of connection and communication becoming evident only in practice.
“LegalFling presents itself as an alternative to ‘a 10 page document full of legal lingo,’” Neil Brown, lawyer for decoded:Legal, told the Register.
“I don’t know about you, but even as a lawyer, I rarely insist on multi-page written agreements before having sex.
“Similarly, while the app does allow consent to be revoked, this approach seems inconsistent with reality, where consent is an ongoing communication (verbal or otherwise) between participants.”
Radio Sputnik’s Brian Becker and John Kiriakou, hosts of Loud and Clear, spoke to Matt Hill, an attorney representing the aggrieved Westminster tenants against Kushner and his companies, asking him to elaborate on what alleged wrongdoing is the basis for the class action lawsuit.
Hill described Westminster as engaging in a “fee churning scheme,” in which tenants are slammed with additional fees and are not allowed to pay their rent until they manage to resolve those additional fees — creating scenarios in which tenants are forced to be late with their rent payments and incur yet more fees. “Then, that sometimes allows Westminster to say that the next tenant’s rent payment is late, which then incurs another five percent late fee, which then incurs another set of additional fees that we contend are illegal and sets the tenant up again to go deeper and deeper into this black hole of fees,” he explained.
“So that kind of fee churning scheme always keeps folks behind. And when you’re looking at the market in Baltimore, where housing is increasingly unaffordable, we find that these kinds of fees really keep people from being able to live in their housing.”
Hill explained the actions of Westminster as pure naked greed. “Landlords are in a business to make money, and if they can sense an opportunity to turn a profit by charging an additional fee, they certainly have every motive to try to get away with charging that fee.”
“The more fees that they can collect, the more profit they’re going to make — but the consequences for tenants is this repeated churning fees, and this snowballing effect in which you’re constantly behind and don’t know exactly how much you have to pay in order to avoid eviction.”
Kiriakou mentioned that the scheme involves 15 different complexes totalling nearly 9,000 apartment units. Becker added that the case had achieved a high profile because of its attachment to Kushner, a prominent White House official, but that other instances of fee churning go on elsewhere in the country and attract much less attention.
Hill agreed, although he wasn’t in a position to comment on the larger legal ramifications of the case. “Our suit is focused on what we allege are systemic illegal predatory practices across the board affecting the tenants who live in Westminster properties. Our focus is really making sure that that Westminster is no longer able to engage in what we consider a practice that is predatory and that ultimately deprives people of of scarce affordable housing.”
Furthermore, Hill claimed, Westminster was also engaging in another illegal practice known as body attachment. He explained it thusly: “It’s just what it sounds like. If you are a tenet, let’s say you left the property and the landlord alleges that you still owe them for something — whether it’s some sort of fee or they want to charge you for what we contend often are illegal cleaning fees. If you don’t pay, there is a process where a landlord can seek assistance from the police to bring you in and hold you until you answer certain questions and talk about being responsive and paying up.”
If this practice sounds at all familiar, it is extremely similar to debtors’ prisons — institutions popular in Western European and US legal systems in the 19th century where those with unpaid debts were incarcerated until they could work off their debt. Debtors’ prisons were made illegal by federal law in 1833, but remain in use to this day on the state level — mostly for those who fail to pay child support.
“It’s definitely a practice that we think is really detrimental to hardworking folks who are just trying to make it day to day to pay off these sorts of alleged debts,” Hill said. “You think that debtors prison is gone in the United States, but apparently it’s alive and well.”