Archives for posts with tag: San Francisco

In a permanent extension of a 2007 law, San Francisco has made it illegal for the City to buy or distribute plastic water bottles. Bottled water contributes to massive amounts of litter and plastic waste all over the world. San Francisco has an aggressive plan to achieve zero net waste by 2020. In 2013, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors appeared ready to enact one of the strictest bans on bottled water in the nation. Days ago, the proposal became law, and plastic water bottles smaller than 21 ounces will no longer be allowed on city property starting Oct. 1, 2014.

Green Halo - San Francisco Bans Bottled Water on City PropertySan Francisco’s legislation, introduced by Supervisor David Chiu, “does not prohibit private business from trading in small plastic bottles of water.” Rather, it restricts the sale at events of more than 100 people (not including marathons and other sporting events), and on all city property and parks. San Francisco Airport will also be allowed to sell plastic bottles indefinitely.

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors supported the legislation unanimously. Prior to the vote, Chiu held up a water bottle that was a quarter of the way filled with oil. The move illustrated just how much oil is used in the production and transport of plastic water bottles.

“He also reminded San Franciscans that the current fad of buying bottled water only started in the 1990s when the bottled water industry mounted a huge ad campaign that got Americans buying bottled water,” reports the San Francisco Bay Guardian. “Somehow, Chiu noted, ‘for centuries, everybody managed to stay hydrated.’ He, and the rest of San Francisco seem confident that they can learn to do so again.

Not surprisingly, the American Beverage Association and bottled water industry were less than enthusiastic about the bottled water ban. These critics claim that banning bottled water at concerts and other large events will drive them to choose alcohol or carbonated beverages instead of healthier water.

Learn more about this new legislation here.

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The old half-demolished Bay Bridge that once connected San Francisco to Oakland is about to get a new lease on life. While thousands of tons of steel and concrete will be shipped to China as scrap, a local entrepreneur is planning to recycle big sections of the bridge into a multipurpose building called the Bay Bridge House, which will resemble its original bridge’s form. In a bid to save as much of the National Historic Monument as possible, an architecture contest was launched last fall to help establish the design, which aims to be as green as possible.

Following a whole host of ideas on how to recycle the parts, this winning design was announced. The Bay Bridge House will become a museum and an apartment that will be rented to cover costs.

The design itself is intriguing. The ‘mini-bridge’ concept will use a huge amount of steel – enough to build around 1,600 cars – for the frame, while the floors will be built using the former pavement. Lane markers will still be included, giving it a playful edge that ensures nobody will forget the building’s history. As well as reusing these materials, the design will have an array of sustainable features, such as rainwater recycling, solar energy, and a green roof. In the end, the home is expected to earn a LEED green building certification.

Where the Bay Bridge House will be erected remains unknown. But with so much heavy material to shift, the bridge shouldn’t be going too far from home.

More info on the project to save a piece of history here

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San Francisco wants to encourage more clothing donations in an effort to eliminate unneeded waste in its landfills. As part of their mission to entice more residents to donate clothes, the city’s Department of Environment is launching a line of friendlier, networked textile recycling bins. Frog Designs and Goodwill teamed up to develop a new, more inviting textile bin that will hopefully find their way in or around every large apartment building in San Francisco.

Green Halo Clothes Donation Bin Recycling Reuse San Francisco Goodwill

For the new textile bins, Frog threw out the old dumpster and security locker look for a simple wooden crate. Up top, the lid opens with an easy “smile-like” lip. On the side, donors will also find a QR code to easily access an online tax donation form. Meanwhile, each bin is equipped with interior sensors that signal Goodwill trucks when it’s time for a pickup, so they never overflow with clothes.

According to Fast CoExist, 39 million pounds of textiles end up in San Francisco landfills. It’s tricky to recycle clothes since textiles are made up of so many different materials. I:CO, a company that specializes in sorting through old textiles, said it uses 400 different criteria to sort through the waste alone.

With the new bins in place the city hopes to catch all the linens that normally slip through the cracks like socks and shower curtains. After collecting the donations, the city will go through the clothes, some of which will be sent to the resale market, recycled into textile products, or broken back down into fibers for products like insulation. Frog and Goodwill have also partnered with retailers like Levis and H&M not only to put bins in their stores, but also to help market recycling to customers.

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Seaborne radiation from Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant will wash up on the West Coast of the U.S. this year.

That’s raising concerns among some Americans including the residents of the San Francisco Bay Area city of Fairfax, which passed a resolution on Dec. 6 calling for more testing of coastal seafood.

Green Halo Fukushima Radiation Seafood Pacific Ocean Japan Nuclear Power Plant Accident

At the same time, oceanographers and radio-logical scientists say such concerns are unwarranted given existing levels of radiation in the ocean.

The runoff from the Japanese plant will mingle with radiation released by other atomic stations, such as Diablo Canyon in California. Under normal operations, Diablo Canyon discharges more radiation into the sea, albeit of a less dangerous isotope, than the Fukushima station, which suffered the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

“There’s a point to be made that we live in a radioactive world and the ocean just has radioactive isotopes in it,” said Ken Buesseler, senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution inMassachusetts, who forecasts the Fukushima plume will arrive in the U.S. early this year. “People have a limited knowledge of radioactivity.”

Leaking Groundwater

At Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501)’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi station, where three reactors melted down after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, about 300 metric tons of contaminated groundwater seep into the ocean each day,Green Halo Fukushima Radiation Seafood Pacific Ocean Japan Nuclear Power Plant Accident 3 according to Japan’s government.

Between May 2011 and August 2013, as many as 20 trillion becquerels of cesium-137, 10 trillion becquerels of strontium-90 and 40 trillion becquerels of tritium entered the ocean via groundwater, according to Tokyo Electric.

Cesium isotopes, which emit flesh-penetrating gamma rays, are among the most dangerous radionuclides emitted by the plant, said Colin Hill, an associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.

Strontium-90, which mimics calcium, increases the exposure risk for humans by remaining in the bones of fish for extended periods. While tritium is less radiologically intense than cesium and passes through fish faster than strontium, it can also contaminate sea creatures that encounter the isotope in high levels, Hill said.

Not Happy

Water exposed to radiation from the Fukushima plant would reach the U.S. at levels at least 100 times lower than the U.S.’s drinking water threshold, Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman Allison Macfarlane said at a Dec. 6 briefing in Tokyo.

Green Halo Fukushima Radiation Seafood Pacific Ocean Japan Nuclear Power Plant Accident 2

The assurances haven’t eased concerns for some. “I’m terrified,” Doreen Jean Dempski, a children’s book author, said by phone from her home more than 5,000 miles across the Pacific from Fukushima in Carpinteria, California. “My boyfriend is a surfer and he spends hours a day in the water.”

Sharing Dempski’s worries are the Fairfax city council, which passed the coastal testingresolution, and more than 127,000 signatories to an online petition calling for a United Nations’

takeover of part of the Fukushima cleanup. South Korea has already banned imports of fish from Japan’s northern Pacific coast.

Fukushima radiation is being erroneously blamed for everything from sea-lion deaths to sickened polar bears, according to an editorial this week in Canada’s Times Colonist newspaper.

Risk Expectations

Part of the issue is general concern about radiation, and the startling amounts that are released into the environment by the 435 nuclear power plants operating worldwide as of Jan. 3. Measurements that puzzle the public — becquerels, rems, curies and sieverts — don’t aid transparency. And, worse, scientists disagree on the health risks from low-dose radiation exposure.

A report on the Fukushima disaster by the World Health Organization in February last year estimated increased cancer risk for those in the most contaminated areas around the plant, but not elsewhere in Japan. However, the report also notes that better understanding of the effects of low-dose radiation may alter risk expectations from the Fukushima accident.

Less than 100 miles up the coast from Dempski’s home, Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s Diablo Canyon plant in San Luis Obispo discharged 323 million liters of water into the Pacific in 2012, or about 870 tons a day, according to data from the company on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s website. That’s equivalent to 130 Olympic swimming pools and more than twice the daily amount leaking from Fukushima.

Inadvertent Contact

That water contained 3,670 curies of tritium, or 136 trillion becquerels, according to the company, almost three-and-a-half times the amount released from the Fukushima plant into the ocean in the period starting May 2011. The plant also discharged cesium-137, though at lower levels than Fukushima, while its output of strontium-90 is below detectable levels.

Diablo Canyon’s discharges are regulated by the NRC and the plant complies with its licensing requirements, PG&E spokesman Blair Jones said in an e-mail. Total liquid discharges from Diablo Canyon in 2012 were 0.0165 percent of what the NRC allows, Jones said.

The radioactivity in plant wastewater comes from inadvertent contact between the isotopes and cooling water pumped through nuclear plants.

“Tritium is produced when a reactor is operating,” Jones said. “Fukushima is not operating so naturally the tritium levels are lower when compared to Diablo Canyon.”

Rick Castello, a San Luis Obispo-based project manager for a technology company, said by phone that he was unaware of the discharges from the nearby nuclear plant. He also harbors concerns about the approaching radiation from Fukushima.

“It’s not like I think official sources would be intentionally hiding information from the people,” he said by phone. “But sometimes we just don’t know.”

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