Friday, May 7, 2021

Composting Week & Food Waste

Compost Week 2021
Question: What Percentage of food goes to waste?

This question is appropriate because this is International Composting Week, May 2-8, 2021, with a theme: Grow, Eat…COMPOST…Repeat.

Some foods don’t make it out of the fields. Potatoes, corn, and tomatoes that are too small, or too ugly, may be left behind in the fields. In some cased, the farmers announce that the edible, but ugly, food is available for gleaning – all you have to do is drive over and gather it.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Earth Day 2021 Quiz

Earth Day 2021 Quiz (April 22, 2021)

    Test your knowledge of a few Earth related topics on Earth Day. Note that when you Google some of these topics, you can get rather wide ranges of answers. Make sure you are looking at the US (if that is the target region), rather current information, and rather reliable sources. Or, just wait a day to see what we think the correct answer should be. 

Answers will be forthcoming today or tomorrow.

1.  Plastics. Approximately what % of the US’s plastic gets recycled?

a.  8-10%

b.  14-15%

c.  25-30%

d.  45-50%

2.  Plastics. Approximately what % of the US’s plastic makes its way into lakes, rivers, oceans?

a.  0.5%

b.  1%

c.  3%

d.  5%

3.  Plastic in the environment (on land or in ocean). About how many years does it take to decompose a plastic bottle in the ocean?

a.  Plastic decomposes in about 20 years.

b.  Plastic decomposes in about 50 years.

c.  Plastic decomposes in about 150 years.

d.  Plastic doesn’t really decompose, but let’s go with 450 years.

4.  Plastic in the oceans. Approximately how many years before the plastic in the oceans will exceed the fish? (by weight). 

a.  Too last, plastic already exceeds fish in oceans (by weight).

b.  2030. In 10 years, plastic should exceed fish (by weight).

c.  2050. In 30 years, plastic should exceed fish (by weight).

d.  2100. In 80 years, plastic should exceed fish (by weight).

5.  Manatees in Florida are dying at an unusually high rate recently. What is the primary cause of deaths in 2021?

a.  Boats

b.  Cold

c.  Disease

d.  Starvation

6.  The artic is melting enough that ships can now travel through the Arctic to the North during the summer and avoid the Panama Canal or longer routes? Approximately how long during the summer can ships now navigate through the Arctic?

a) About 4 weeks of thaw sufficient to navigate in the summer.

b) About 8 weeks of thaw sufficient to navigate in the summer.

c)  About 3 months of thaw sufficient to navigate in the summer.

d)  About 365 days a year.

7.  About, what percentage of the US lakes, rivers and streams are polluted (according to US EPA)?  (Polluted, as in no swimming and you should not eat the fish, if there are any.)

a.  4%-5%

b.  10%-15%

c.  25%-30%

d.  40%-45%

8.  Soil. The current “industrial” farming methods deplete the topsoil. No topsoil, little or no farm crops. At the current rate of topsoil depletion, how many years do we have before we “run out” of topsoil? [Ooops.... Things changed... problems with this question... Well, with the answers...]

a.  About 20 years until the world’s topsoil will be effectively depleted.

b.  About 30 years until the world’s topsoil will be effectively depleted.

c.  About 60 years until the world’s topsoil will be effectively depleted.

d.  About 100 years until the world’s topsoil will be effectively depleted.

9.  Extinction. Out of about 8 million plant and animal species on earth, approximately how many are in threat of extinction?

a.  100K, 1.2%

b.  300K, 3.7%

c.  500K, 6.2%

d.  1M, 12.5%

10.  Earths. Current estimates are that we significantly overuse the earth’s resources (overshoot the earth’s carrying capacity). We currently need part of another earth to be “sustainable”. But, if the rest of the world consumed at the same rate per person as we do in the US, how many earths do we need?

a.  2 earths (+1)

b.  3 earths (+2)

c.  4 earths (+3)

d.  5 earths (+4)

11.  What is the depth of the oceans? (Plus, water expands when warmed about 0.000214 per +1C for seawater, so how much would sea levels rise based on a +1 degree Centigrade increase in global temperature that transferred throughout the oceans.)

a.  Average ocean depth is 1,000ft (+1C temp increase = +2.6in increase in avg ocean level.)

b.  Average ocean depth is 2,500ft (+1C temp increase = +6.4in increase in avg ocean level.)

c.  Average ocean depth is 1.2 mile (+1C temp increase = +16.3in in increase avg ocean level.)

d.  Average ocean depth is 2.3 miles (+1C temp increase = +31.2in increase in avg ocean level.) 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

World Water Day 2021 in Review

 World Water Day 2021 (in the rear-view mirror): Valuing Water.

World Water Day (March 22, 2021) is past (   By now you should have taken the Water Day Quiz at SustainZine. It’s been about 10 years since I developed such a quiz. I had to work to improve and update the original quiz… It is still tricky to get good answers to some of these water-critical issues. Often the water usage is available to the homeowner, but gets confusing as the data is aggregated for the state and for the nation. The more abstract uses of water, like virtual water, are erratic and imprecise. Important concepts, but the answers are fuzzy.

Monday, March 22, 2021

World Water Day 2021 Quiz

World Water Day 2021 (March 22) Quiz    Name/Team: ____________ 

(See SustainZine blog post related to this quiz and World Water Day.)
1.      Approximately what percentage of the adult human body is water (H2O)?

a.       10-15%
b.      20-30%
c.       40-50%
d.      55-65%

World Water Day: 2021 Valuing Water (Quiz your Water Knowledge)

It’s World Water Day, March 22, 2021 (  
Time to test your water knowledge with a World Water Day Quiz
Some days we wish it would rain. Some days, we wish it would stop. But every day, not just March 22, we should stop and appreciate the importance of water. How important it is to out our being, to our lives, to our living and to our existence.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Sustainability in EDU Over last 20 years

The SustainZine has been blogging (although rather sporadically) for 11 years. Wow!. One of the first blogs was related to an article (and a SAM presentation) by Hall, Tayler, Zapalski and Hall (2009). It focused on sustainability in Higher ED, specifically on how the facilities of universities were doing sustainability initiatives but there were few actual classes on Sustainability. The classroom, i.e., the future of sustainability was far behind.

Later in 2010 Hall (2010) published an article on Lessons of recessions: Sustainability education and jobs may be the answer. (SustainZine Blog post here.) This article discusses the Great Recession of 2007-2008. Make no doubt about the pandemic of 2020, it too was a recession so destructive innovation has been (and will continue to be) the result.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Renewable Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is Extended Two Years


Good news, as of January 2021 the ITC has been extended at 26% for 2021 and 2022. See Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) discussion on the investment tax credit (ITC) here: Solar ITC Rate Per Year

This means that the calculator we developed for residential and for business solar investments will still be accurate for the next two years. (See our Solar Profit Calculator page.)

Woo Hoo! Happy Days!:-)

During that time Biden administration should start to remove the fossil fuel subsidies, meaning that renewables should continue to take share from coal, oil and gas. There's two other things that Biden will likely do: extend renewable incentives; and, institute a cost structure for carbon. Only the renewed incentives was likely before the US Senate went 50+1 for the Democrats. Something like a gas tax increase or a cap-and-trade program was highly unlikely just a month ago.

Monday, October 26, 2020

On the VERGE of Sustainability

 VERGE 20 is on this week (starting October 26 2020). GreenBiz sponsor and coordinate this massive event. Anybody and any company that's got anything to do with sustainability is here. Well, not exactly here since it is virtual this year... But you get the idea.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Solar Prices Dropped off a Cliff and Into the Ocean

Here's a great article in Clean Technica by   on the falling prices of solar (PV). The cost per watt is the key measure to follow. Basically a rule of thumb is that $3 per Watt installed should be profitable, before any tax credit considerations. In 2006 the cost was $3.50 per watt for the panels. Now prices have dropped below $0.50 and would be lower if there wasn't a trade tiff going on with China.  Even with $1 to $2 per watt installed, the prices are getting to be crazy low. The Investment Tax Credit dropped to 26% percent in 2020 and will drop to 22% in 2021, but the installed costs after tax benefits should be less than $2 per watt. That's a crazy profitable investment, especially for businesses. (See our discussion and  Solar Calculator on the residential and business PV investments.)