Cemented Plastic Makes Concrete Stronger

The existence of eco-friendly, weather-resistant structures such as Thailand’s bamboo building are evidence that designers are saving the planet. To drive a point, MIT students are embedding irradiated water bottles into cement to make concrete more robust and sustainable.

The research revealed that exposing the plastic to gamma radiation actually made it stronger. The irradiated plastic was then ground into a powder and mixed with cement. The subsequent concrete was up to 20 percent stronger than concrete made without the irradiated plastic.

Engineers found the added plastic (only 1.5% of the concoction) made concrete significantly denser. If you’re skeptical about incorporating the mix into future room renovations, don’t worry — it isn’t radioactive. Furthermore, using plastic will potentially relieve a few dozen landfills.

“Concrete produces about 4.5 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions,” says [MIT professor Michael] Short. “Take out 1.5 percent of that, and you’re already talking about 0.0675 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. That’s a huge amount of greenhouse gases in one fell swoop.”

Environmentalists might campaign for a plastic-free society — but it isn’t the easiest option. Perhaps, now, it’s all about redirecting your waste to where it will be most useful.

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Mented Produces Vegan Makeup For Colored Women

With cruelty-free cosmetics flying off shelves, going completely vegan seems the logical next step. The Ocean Frontier Institute in Canada has since developed fish waste nail polish — maybe too adventurous for some. On the tamer end, beauty brand Mented has raised $1 million to create vegan products for women of color.

“Our end goal is that women of color feel prioritized in the world of beauty,” said [co-founder K.J.] Miller. “Women of color were used to being treated as an afterthought. It’s not every day that you’re a priority.”

Mented, short for “pigmented”, is first launching non-toxic nude lippies, then an entire range of eye makeup. The remainder of the fundraised sum will go to hiring personnel and marketing the business.

“We really think we’re onto something here at Mented,” [co-founder Amanda] Johnson said. “Even though women of color have a difficult time raising money, if there’s an underserved market, investors attack it.”

Whether we like to think so or not, racial inequality remains present in many communities. Mented is not only bringing color onto lips, but into a society that may still be stuck in black and white.

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Hero Doctor Evacuates Preemies From Fire

Since the day we are born, doctors continue to be our heroes throughout bouts of colds and fevers. On occasion, they will stand out, birthing babies (or sometimes gorillas) in the middle of their own deliveries. Santa Rosa doctor Scott Witt defied the odds when he hopped on a motorcycle to rescue eight preemies from a fire.

“I got a call at 2 a.m. basically saying that there was some fire encroaching on the hospital so so we might have to evacuate,” said Dr. Witt.

“In California, you can split lanes so I just kind of went down the middle of lanes and got past everybody,”

Four miles from the center and an additional six from Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Witt braved a number of treacherous highways. Witt and his family lost their home, but his wife could not have been prouder of his actions.

“If my baby was in the hospital… I mean I’m a little biased but I would totally want them to be in some hands like Scott’s,” said Megan Witt.

Witt also trailed ambulances for three hours on several trips justifying not only his courage, but that a BMW is a pretty sturdy bike.

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China Halts Factory Operations To Fight Pollution

China may be home to one of the world’s great wonders, but it’s also housing something far more dangerous — air pollution. It may be cracking down on carbon emissions with air-purifying bicycles and solar farms, but it seems efforts are lacking. A blessing in disguise, damaging factory activity has forced the country to shut down industrial regions to reevaluate environmental laws.

“After all, factories will be better, more sustainable, and more socially responsible after being inspected,” says [Archie Liu of MKT & Associates]. “It’s better for our supply chain. Then we can tell Walmart, Costco, and other retailers of ours that we’re qualified and that everything we make for Americans are environmentally friendly.”

With 40% of Chinese factories at a standstill, economic impact will be harsh — but totally worth it. Chinese tax bureaus will be taking over environmental groups, meaning greater consequences for law-breakers.

“It’s a huge event. It’s a serious event. I think many of us here believe it will become the new normal,” says Michael Crotty, president of MKT & Associates.

Criminal enforcement may sound overbearing, but in a deteriorating planet, may be just what we need.

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Food Waste To Be Used In Construction Projects

Nowadays, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” has never been truer. We’re turning garbage into anything from furniture to vodka, and it seems we can push the limits even further. Engineering group Arup is proving just that, proposing the use of food waste in building materials.

The report aims “at demonstrating that a different paradigm for materials in construction is possible.” This could be done by diverting, in part, organic waste that is traditionally managed through landfill, incineration and composting to become a resource for the creation of construction engineering and architecture products.

According to Arup, bananas can produce textiles, while mushrooms can grow actual towers. It seems, with food waste, it’s best to let one’s imagination run wild — and for good reasons.

Using food waste for building materials would help create a circular economy where organic waste, instead of being disposed, is the main resource… This would help ameliorate rising levels of waste and shortfalls of raw material, as well as providing the industry with cheap, low carbon materials.

Looking to renovate your home? No need for concrete fillers — just use rice!

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Middle Schooler Builds Lead Testing Kit

Nowadays, children have become more eager to explore issues outside of the classroom. Anything from vehicular traffic to eye diseases are inspiring them to create. Next in line as America’s Top Young Scientist is Gitanjali Rao, whose handmade device detects lead contamination in water.

“I had been following the Flint, Michigan, issue for about two years,” [said] Rao… “I was appalled by the number of people affected by lead contamination in water and I wanted to do something to change this.”

The determined seventh-grader, with the help of her engineer parents and local universities, came through with Tethys. Using carbon nanotube sensors, the device can accurately detect lead and send information to any smartphone. She subsequently won the Young Scientist challenge and pocketed $25,000.

“Advice I would give to other kids would be to never be afraid to try,” Gitanjali said. “I had so many failures when I was doing my tests. It was frustrating the first couple of times, but towards the end, everything started coming together.”

Rao intends to invest part of the prize money into developing Tethys. The rest will fund her schooling — bright minds deserve the best education.

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Family Dog Protects Owners From Rattlesnake

Without words to express themselves, dogs rely on actions to demonstrate loyalty to their humans. A London dog rescued his entire family from a house fire and was awarded a PSDA Gold Medal. While there are no official honors for Nala the Boxer, she is still a hero to her family, whom she protected from a rattlesnake.

“She waited until we were safe. She stood her ground. She didn’t like whimper or anything when she got bit,” [said 10-year-old owner] Cole [Lewis.]

The perpetrating snake was a Mojave green, a highly poisonous reptile. Thanks to Lewis’ stepdad, the Boxer made it to the nearest veterinary clinic in time to fully recover. Nala’s skyrocketing medical bill did little to faze the family, who are eternally grateful for her sacrifice.

“She saved my life, and I just want to hang out with her now because she’s my hero,” Cole said.

Dogs and snakebites are nothing new, but it’s Fido’s continued heroism that never fails to warm my heart.

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Vegan Milk Delivery Service Is Tasty And Eco-Friendly

If going vegetarian is something up your alley, this nutty milk delivery service may be perfect for you. With Mylk Man, ditching dairy has never been simpler.

Mylk Man offers your classic plant-based flavours, like almond, in addition to funkier bottles, like pistachio and sweet chai and turmeric and cashew.

As well as these fancier varieties giving them an edge on supermarket-stocked brands, there’s also the 12 per cent minimum volume of nuts in every bottle – significantly higher than most mass-produced blends.

As a vegan lifestyle is clearly all the rage, Mylk Man should be nothing short of a hit. 500 ml bottles start at £1.75. Glass material makes them easy to recycle or return for future deliveries. Unfortunately for any neighboring European countries, Mylk Man is London-based (but there are talks of expansion).

“Sustainability is fundamental to what we do,” says [business owner] Jamie. “As well as being plastic-free and using glass bottles, we give 10 per cent of our profits to Greenpeace. And we’re stocked in massive tanks at the Bulk Market zero waste shop, in Dalston.”

For a taste, I’d say an impromptu weekend in London wouldn’t be out of the question.

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Deep Water Wind Farm Is Powering The Scottish Grid

Following the success of solar power, developers have been harvesting clean energy from other sources. Now that we can accumulate electricity through passing vehicles and even cow excrement, nothing else seems far-fetched. Wind power may be nothing new, but these floating offshore turbines are the first of their kind.

The 30MW installation… will demonstrate that offshore wind energy can be harvested in deep waters… where installing giant turbines was once impractical or impossible. At peak capacity, the wind farm will produce enough electricity to power 20,000 Scottish homes.

The irony behind the nautical wind farm is its contractor — Statoil. The company is a corporate giant notorious for oil drilling. It’s somewhat of a paradox, but I’m a fan. Statoil claims that the wind farm’s offshore location is also beneficial.

The farther out you can place offshore turbines, the steadier and faster the wind is. It also comes with the added benefit of avoiding any community arguments over clean ocean views… [also] unimaginably large rotor components can be delivered by sea rather than by land, where roads have weight limits.

In the end, Statoil is living proof that you can easily give back what you take from nature. While we’d rather leave Mother Nature alone entirely, compensation is better than nothing.

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Oxford To Ban Non-Electric Vehicles To Cut Emissions

The steady rise of electric vehicles will soon leave petrol and diesel cars in the dust. BMW is launching electric buses all over Europe, while the London Taxi Company is replacing old cabs. A few months later, the U.K. remains on top of the eco-ladder, with Oxford planning to eliminate non-electric vehicles.

The scheme aims to cut levels of nitrogen dioxide, the majority of which comes from traffic fumes, by three-quarters.

To give distributors leeway, Oxford will be imposing the ban in 2020, increasing the affected zone by 2035. We all know electric vehicles aren’t the most affordable, so locals may have to do some walking. The plan is projected to cost £7 million, but the city council deems the shift will be well worth it.

Oxford city councillor John Tanner said a “step change” is urgently needed as toxic air pollution is “damaging the health” of residents.

It’s a bold move, Oxford, but hopefully a successful one.

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