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Challenger: An American Tragedy – Hugh Harris

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Challenger: An American Tragedy

The Inside Story from Launch Control

Hugh Harris

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $3.99

Publish Date: January 28, 2014

Publisher: Open Road Media

Seller: OpenRoad Integrated Media, LLC


On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Seventy-three seconds after launch, the fiery breach of a solid motor joint caused a rupture of the propellant tanks, and a stunned nation watched as flames engulfed the craft, killing all seven crew members on board. It was Hugh Harris, “the voice of launch control,” whom audiences across the country heard counting down to lift-off on that fateful day. With over fifty years of experience with NASA’s missions, Harris presents the story of the Challenger tragedy as only an insider can. With by-the-second accounts of the spacecraft’s launch and a comprehensive overview of the ensuing investigation, Harris gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at the devastating accident that grounded the shuttle fleet for over two years. This book tells the whole story of the Challenger ’s tragic legacy. “This book has all the facts, but more importantly, offers insight into the people. The people are what the space program is all about.” —From the introduction by Robert L. Crippen, pilot of the first space shuttle mission “Finally, the accurate story has been written by one from Challenger ’s Launch Control. Hugh Harris’  Challenger: An American Tragedy  is a masterpiece.” —Jay Barbree, author of Moon Shot: The Inside Story of America’s Race to the Moon “Harris offers a personal—and sometimes painful—look back at one of the darkest chapters in U.S. human spaceflight, as well as its impact on NASA over time.” —Space.com “More than just a personal account of the disaster, Harris punctuates his book with conversations and interactions between himself and some of [NASA’s] key players, bringing the story to life. Throughout, Harris’ love for NASA and the shuttle program is obvious.” —Discovery.com Called “the Voice of NASA” for many years by the world’s television networks, Hugh Harris devoted thirty-five years with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to telling the story of the United States space program. Although he is best known to the public for his calm, professional commentary on the progress of launch preparations and launch of the space shuttle, his primary accomplishments were in directing an outreach program to the general public, news media, students, and educators, as well as to business and government leaders. He also oversaw the largest major expansion (up to that time) in the history of the Kennedy Space Center’s visitor complex and tours. Harris began his career as a member of the news media. He worked as a reporter and broadcaster for WMTR in Morristown, New Jersey, and as a reporter and photographer for two newspapers. After his retirement in 1998, he shared his experience in NASA public relations with nuclear industry leaders at conferences held by the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency in Europe and Japan and in this country through the Nuclear Energy Institute. He continues to work as a volunteer at the KSC Press Site, as well as for the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

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Challenger: An American Tragedy – Hugh Harris

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It’s National Secondhand Wardrobe Day: How You Can Participate

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Chances are, you have a clothing item (or 10) in your closet that you don’t wear, haven’t worn since the previous solar eclipse and have no plans to wear here or in a parallel universe. But, before you purge your closet and launch your lightly worn items to a landfill to join the 13 million tons of textiles disposed of each year, consider this: National Secondhand Wardrobe Day is today, and you’re invited!

Swap, Don’t Shop

Disposing of clothing that you don’t wear isn’t just wasteful, it’s extremely unsustainable and oh so unfashionable. Even today, with all the convenient ways to sell your clothes for cash, a staggering 85 percent of discarded textiles are sent to landfills annually, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Yet, the majority of people are not extending the life cycle of their gently worn clothes while cashing in or greening them forward.

Today, global waste in the fashion industry is a real issue. In fact, it takes 2,700 liters of water just to create one cotton T-shirt. National Secondhand Wardrobe Day is breathing new life into old clothes, allowing consumers to offset their carbon footprint by exchanging or recycling their used garments.

What if I told you that you could recycle, donate or upcycle those tatty threads just by visiting a clothing swap pop-up location near you? Element Hotels, an eco-conscious, extended-stay brand, is hosting Element Exchange today across the country for hotel guests and community members. Some events will even offer sustainable sips of organic wine and tasty treats while you “shop.”

With the coveted LEED certification, Element Hotels doesn’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk. All of their hotels are built sustainably using eco-friendly practices from the ground up and supporting local communities. The hotel chain features bright interiors with natural light, eco-friendly fixtures and recycling bins in every guest room, recycled materials in the carpeting, low-VOC interior paints, saltwater swimming pools, bikes to borrow, workout bikes in the fitness center that charge your cell phone while you pedal, and electric vehicle charging stations outdoors.

6 Ways to Participate in National Secondhand Wardrobe Day

While orange may be the new black, vintage is the new rack. Let’s face it, we’re all guilty of buying items that just don’t live up to their impulse-purchase hype. Here’s how else you can swap and save.

  1. Host Your Own Clothing Swap
  2. Sell Your Clothes Online with thredUP or Poshmark.
  3. Donate Your Clothes to Goodwill, Dress for Success, the Salvation Army or the Vietnam Veterans of America. The latter two will even pick up the items from your front door.
  4. Rent the Runway for your next soiree or event.
  5. Sell Your Wedding Garments Online with Preowned Wedding Dresses.
  6. Donate Your Wedding Dress to Brides Against Breast Cancer.

One man’s or woman’s trash truly is another’s treasure. Making sustainable choices in your clothing selections just makes sense. This year, get involved to help those less privileged by giving your time or, literally, the clothes off your back. Remember, on National Secondhand Wardrobe Day, don’t shop — swap till you drop!

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock

Read More:
Rags to Riches: 5 Ways to Earn Cash from Your Closet
Swapping Is Sexy: How to Host a Clothing Swap Party
How to Shop for Clothes with the Earth in Mind

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Lisa Beres

Lisa Beres is a healthy home expert, Baubiologist, published author, professional speaker and Telly award-winning media personality who teaches busy people how to eliminate toxins from their home with simple, step-by-step solutions to improve their health. With her husband, Ron, she is the co-founder of

The Healthy Home Dream Team

and the 30-day online program

Change Your Home. Change Your Health

. She is the author of the children’s book

My Body My House

and co-author of

Just Green It!: Simple Swaps to Save Your Health and the Planet

,

Learn to Create a Healthy Home! Green Nest Creating Healthy Homes

and

The 9 to 5 Greened: 10 Steps to a Healthy Office

. Lisa’s TV appearances include “The Rachael Ray Show,” “Nightly News with Brian Williams,” “TODAY,” “The Doctors,” “Fox & Friends,” “Chelsea Lately” and “The Suzanne Somers Show.”

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Latest posts by Lisa Beres (see all)

It’s National Secondhand Wardrobe Day: How You Can Participate – August 25, 2017
Perk Up Your Workout with a Recycled Coffee Grounds Sports Bra – July 24, 2017
The 4 Things You MUST Test for in Your Home Right Now – July 14, 2017

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It’s National Secondhand Wardrobe Day: How You Can Participate

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A Texas-size flood threatens the Gulf Coast, and we’re so not ready

Update: After a period of rapid intensification overnight, the National Hurricane Center upgraded Harvey to hurricane status at noon central time on Thursday. The storm is now expected to reach the coastline near Corpus Christi, Texas, late Friday as a major hurricane — the first U.S. landfall of a Category 3 or stronger hurricane since 2005.

In what could become the first major natural disaster of the Trump presidency, meteorologists are sounding the alarm for potentially historic rainfall over the next several days in parts of Texas and Louisiana. This is the kind of storm you drop everything to pay attention to.

The National Weather Service posted a hurricane and storm surge watch for most of the Texas coastline, and the governors of Texas and Louisiana have begun to assemble emergency response teams. Hurricane hunter aircraft are monitoring the development of the storm, which was just west of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on Wednesday afternoon.

Conditions in the Gulf of Mexico are nearly ideal for strengthening Tropical Depression Harvey, which could reach hurricane status in the next few days. Water temperatures off the Texas coast are warmer than normal — some of the warmest anywhere in the world right now. Factoring in the state of the atmosphere and ocean, one model estimates the storm’s odds of rapid intensification over the next three days at greater than 10 times the typical chances.

The National Hurricane Center expects Harvey to stall out once it reaches the Texas coastline on Friday, and experts are worried about what might happen next. The official NHC forecast calls for the possibility of more than 20 inches of rain in isolated parts of Texas and Louisiana by next Wednesday, but some individual weather models predict twice that.

Historically, slow-moving tropical storms and low-end hurricanes have caused some of the worst floods on record. In 2001, Tropical Storm Allison stalled over the Houston area, bringing about 10 months worth of rain in just five days. The rainiest day in Houston history was on June 26, 1989, when a slow-moving tropical storm brought just over 10 inches. (Nearby Alvin, Texas, recorded 42 inches in 24 hours in 1979, the all-time U.S. record.)

If Wednesday’s most alarming forecasts pan out, Harvey could be just as bad, if not worse. The heaviest rainfall likely won’t arrive until early next week, which could bring up to four feet of rainfall to parts of the Texas coast.

On Twitter, some meteorologists were agog over Harvey’s rainfall potential, using words like “unsettling” and “borderline unfathomable.” The region just experienced one of the wettest starts to August on record, and the already saturated soil increases the flood risk. All of these signals point to a setup that favors a major disaster. Inland flooding is the leading cause of death in tropical storms and hurricanes.

Floods like the one in the worst Harvey forecasts have come at an increasingly frequent pace. Since the 1950s, the Houston area has seen a 167 percent increase in heavy downpours. At least four rainstorms so severe they would occur only once in 100 years under normal conditions have hit the area since May 2015. With a warmer climate comes faster evaporation and a greater capacity for thunderstorms to produce epic deluges.

Houston has been criticized for unchecked development in its swampy suburbs, which has exacerbated its flooding problem by funneling water along streets and parking lots toward older, lower-income neighborhoods. Just inland, the rapidly-growing corridor of Texas hill country between San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas is sometimes referred to as “flash flood alley,” an increasingly paved area that often sees torrential rainstorms channeled along fast-rising creeks and streams.

Recent rains haven’t been kind to Louisiana, either. Last August, a 500-year rainstorm hit Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And a storm that hit New Orleans earlier this month was so intense locals called it a “mini-Katrina.” Ensuing floods revealed the city’s critically important drainage pump system was partially inoperable, and officials are now contemplating an unprecedented evacuation plan in case the predicted heavy rains materialize. An eastward shift in Harvey’s trajectory by 100 miles or so could force that difficult decision.

Next Tuesday happens to be the 12th anniversary of the landfall of Hurricane Katrina, a storm that many people in the region are still recovering from.

Seven months into the Trump administration, key federal disaster relief positions are still unoccupied: for example, an administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees the National Weather Service. The new FEMA director, Brock Long, was confirmed in late June, three weeks after the start of this year’s hurricane season.

In addition, Trump proposed significant cuts to disaster response agencies and denied emergency funding appeals in several states during his first months in office. A troubled federal flood insurance program covers just one-sixth of Houston residents.

If Harvey’s rains hit the coast with anywhere near the force of the most alarming predictions, we’d be in for disaster. And judging by how New Orleans and Houston have handled recent rains, coupled with the state of federal disaster relief, we’re not ready for it.

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A Texas-size flood threatens the Gulf Coast, and we’re so not ready

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Of Wolves and Men – Barry Lopez

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Of Wolves and Men
Barry Lopez

Genre: Nature

Price: $9.99

Publish Date: May 31, 2016

Publisher: Open Road Media

Seller: OpenRoad Integrated Media, LLC


National Book Award Finalist: A “brilliant” study of the science and mythology of the wolf by the New York Times –bestselling author of Arctic Dreams ( The Washington Post ).  When John Fowles reviewed Of Wolves and Men , he called it “A remarkable book, both biologically absorbing and humanly rich, and one that should be read by every concerned American.” In this National Book Award–shortlisted work, literary master Barry Lopez guides us through the world of the wolf and our often-mistaken perceptions of another species’ place on our shared planet. Throughout the centuries, the wolf has been a figure of fascination and mystery, and a major motif in literature and myth. Inspiring fear and respect, the creature has long exerted a powerful influence on the human imagination. Of Wolves and Men takes the reader into the world of the Canis lupus and its relationship to humankind through the ages. Lopez draws on science, history, mythology, and his own field research to present a compelling portrait of wolves both real and imagined, dispelling our fear of them while celebrating their place in our history, legends, and hearts.  This ebook features an illustrated biography of Barry Lopez including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the author’s personal collection. “A splendid, beautiful book.” — The Wall Street Journal “Fascinating. . . . A wealth of observation, mythology, and mysticism.” — The New York Times Book Review “Brilliant. . . . A work of intelligence, dedication, and beauty deserving the widest possible attention not only for the sake of wolves but also for the sake of men.” — The Washington Post Barry Lopez (b. 1945) is the author of thirteen books of essays, short stories, and nonfiction. He is a recipient of the National Book Award, the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and numerous other literary and cultural honors and awards. His highly acclaimed books include Arctic Dreams , Winter Count , and Of Wolves and Men, for which he received the John Burroughs and Christopher medals. He lives in western Oregon.     

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Of Wolves and Men – Barry Lopez

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Night of the Grizzlies – Jack Olsen

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Night of the Grizzlies

Jack Olsen

Genre: Nature

Price: $6.99

Publish Date: September 24, 2014

Publisher: Crime Rant Classics

Seller: Evan Olsen


For more than half a century, grizzly bears roamed free in the national parks without causing a human fatality. Then in 1967, on a single August night, two campers were fatally mauled by enraged bears — thus signaling the beginning of the end for America's greatest remaining land carnivore. Night of the Grizzlies, Olsen's brilliant account of another sad chapter in America's vanishing frontier, traces the causes of that tragic night: the rangers' careless disregard of established safety precautions and persistent warnings by seasoned campers that some of the bears were acting "funny"; the comforting belief that the great bears were not really dangerous — would attack only when provoked. The popular sport that summer was to lure the bears with spotlights and leftover scraps — in hopes of providing the tourists with a show, a close look at the great "teddy bears." Everyone came, some of the younger campers even making bold enough to sleep right in the path of the grizzlies' known route of arrival. This modern "bearbaiting" could have but one tragic result…

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Night of the Grizzlies – Jack Olsen

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Night of the Grizzlies – Jack Olsen

READ GREEN WITH E-BOOKS

Night of the Grizzlies

Jack Olsen

Genre: Nature

Price: $6.99

Publish Date: September 24, 2014

Publisher: Crime Rant Classics

Seller: Evan Olsen


For more than half a century, grizzly bears roamed free in the national parks without causing a human fatality. Then in 1967, on a single August night, two campers were fatally mauled by enraged bears — thus signaling the beginning of the end for America's greatest remaining land carnivore. Night of the Grizzlies, Olsen's brilliant account of another sad chapter in America's vanishing frontier, traces the causes of that tragic night: the rangers' careless disregard of established safety precautions and persistent warnings by seasoned campers that some of the bears were acting "funny"; the comforting belief that the great bears were not really dangerous — would attack only when provoked. The popular sport that summer was to lure the bears with spotlights and leftover scraps — in hopes of providing the tourists with a show, a close look at the great "teddy bears." Everyone came, some of the younger campers even making bold enough to sleep right in the path of the grizzlies' known route of arrival. This modern "bearbaiting" could have but one tragic result…

Original article: 

Night of the Grizzlies – Jack Olsen

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‘Flash drought’ could devastate half the High Plains wheat harvest

It’s peak hurricane season, but the nation’s worst weather disaster right now is raging on the High Plains.

An intense drought has quickly gripped much of the Dakotas and parts of Montana this summer, catching farmers and ranchers off-guard. The multi-agency U.S. Drought Monitor recently upgraded the drought to “exceptional,” its highest severity level, matching the intensity of the California drought at its peak.

The Associated Press says the dry conditions are “laying waste to crops and searing pasture and hay land” in America’s new wheat belt, with some longtime farmers and ranchers calling it the worst of their lifetimes. Unfortunately, this kind of came-out-of-nowhere drought could become a lot less rare in the future.

“The damage and the destruction is just unimaginable,” Montana resident Sarah Swanson told Grist. “It’s unlike anything we’ve seen in decades.”

Rainfall across the affected region has been less than half of normal since late April, when this year’s growing season began. In parts of Montana’s Missouri River basin, which is the drought’s epicenter, rainfall has been less than a quarter of normal — which equals the driest growing season in recorded history for some communities.

“It’s devastating,” says Tanja Fransen, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s office in Glasgow, Montana. Just six years removed from 2011, one of the region’s wettest years on record, eastern Montana is now enduring one of its driest.

“We’re at the bottom of the barrel,” Fransen says. “For many areas, it’s the worst we’ve seen in 100 years.”

In a matter of weeks, the area of Montana in drought conditions has expanded eightfold.U.S. Drought Monitor

Wheat production worries

The drought already has far-reaching effects. In eastern Montana, America’s current-largest wildfire continues to smolder; the 422-square-mile Lodgepole complex fire is one-third the size of Rhode Island. It’s Montana’s largest fire since 1910.

Across the state, 17 other large fires are also spreading. “We haven’t even hit our normal peak fire season yet,” Fransen says.

Recently, as the climate has warmed and crop suitability has shifted, the Dakotas and Montana have surpassed Kansas as the most important wheat-growing region in the country. The High Plains is now a supplier of staple grain for the entire world. According to recent field surveys, more than half of this year’s harvest may already be lost.

The economic impact of the drought and related fires may exceed $1 billion across the multi-state region by the time the rains return. Donations of hay for beleaguered farmers and ranchers have come in from as far away as West Virginia.

Farmers in the region are also worried because the Trump administration has targeted a key federal crop insurance program for hefty cuts. The governors of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana have all declared states of emergency to speed aid and open some normally protected areas for livestock grazing.

Abnormally dry conditions now cover 100 percent of South Dakota.U.S. Drought Monitor

It came out of nowhere

Droughts are often thought of as creeping, slow-motion disasters. They usually don’t grab headlines like hurricane landfalls, even though they represent the costliest weather-related catastrophe worldwide.

But this drought is an anomaly, a “flash drought.” It essentially came from nowhere. It didn’t exist just three months ago.

The frequency of these rapid-onset droughts is expected to increase as the planet warms. A recent study focusing on China found that flash droughts more than doubled in frequency there between 1979 and 2010.

Droughts like these are closely linked to climate change. As temperatures rise, abnormally dry conditions across the western United States are already becoming more common and more intense. And as evaporation rates speed up, rainfall becomes more erratic, and spring snowmelt dries up earlier each year.

Future summers in North Dakota are expected to be even hotter and drier, on par with the present-day weather of south Texas.

Taking heavy losses

On Whitney Klasna’s ranch in Lambert, Montana, the spring rains “just didn’t come this year.” Klasna has already seen 60 to 80 percent crop losses in her fields, and now she’s making calculations about which of her cattle she can afford to save. She and her crew are working to drill an additional water well and install a pipeline to keep as many alive as possible.

Now they’re worried that, if the rains do come, they’ll lead to flash flooding; the ground has essentially been transformed into concrete.

Klasna calls the drought a “perfect storm of bad luck” and expects its impacts to last for years.

The drought in western North Dakota is now just as severe as California’s was at its peak.U.S. Drought Monitor

Further west, near where the Lodgepole complex is burning, Sarah Swanson runs a John Deere dealership, one of the biggest businesses in her community. She hears heartbreaking stories from across the region, with many farmers and ranchers working together to fight the fire with their own equipment.

“Right now, I don’t think anybody has time to feel scared,” Swanson says. “I think the emotions will probably start once they have time to get the fire out in a week or two.”

Last week, Swanson wrote a personal letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a Montana native, asking him to ease grazing restrictions on a nearby wildlife refuge. Two days later, he did so.

“We’ll be able to continue on,” Swanson says. “I wish I could say that for all the Main Street businesses in eastern Montana, but I don’t think I can. The effects are already being felt by restaurants and retail shops and gas stations, and there will be some that can’t sustain this.”

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‘Flash drought’ could devastate half the High Plains wheat harvest

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The Soul of an Octopus – Sy Montgomery

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The Soul of an Octopus
A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness
Sy Montgomery

Genre: Nature

Price: $11.99

Publish Date: May 12, 2015

Publisher: Atria Books

Seller: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc.


Finalist for the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction New York Times Bestseller “Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus does for the creature what Helen Macdonald’s H Is for Hawk did for raptors.” — New Statesman , UK Starred Booklist and Library Journal Editors’ Spring Pick “One of the best science books of the year” — Science Friday , NPR A Huffington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of the Year One of the Best Books of the Month on Goodreads Library Journal Best Sci-Tech Book of 2015 An American Library Association Notable Book of the Year Another New York Times bestseller from the author of The Good Good Pig , this “fascinating…touching…informative…entertaining” ( Daily Beast ) book explores the emotional and physical world of the octopus—a surprisingly complex, intelligent, and spirited creature—and the remarkable connections it makes with humans. In pursuit of the wild, solitary, predatory octopus, popular naturalist Sy Montgomery has practiced true immersion journalism. From New England aquarium tanks to the reefs of French Polynesia and the Gulf of Mexico, she has befriended octopuses with strikingly different personalities—gentle Athena, assertive Octavia, curious Kali, and joyful Karma. Each creature shows her cleverness in myriad ways: escaping enclosures like an orangutan; jetting water to bounce balls; and endlessly tricking companions with multiple “sleights of hand” to get food. Scientists have only recently accepted the intelligence of dogs, birds, and chimpanzees but now are watching octopuses solve problems and are trying to decipher the meaning of the animal’s color-changing techniques. With her “joyful passion for these intelligent and fascinating creatures” ( Library Journal Editors’ Spring Pick), Montgomery chronicles the growing appreciation of this mollusk as she tells a unique love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about the meeting of two very different minds.

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The Soul of an Octopus – Sy Montgomery

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The Truth About Meal-Kit Freezer Packs

Mother Jones

People love to complain about the wastefulness of meal-kit delivery companies like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. The baggies that hold a single scallion! The thousands of miles of shipping! The endless cardboard boxes! Those problems are annoying, but ultimately they’re not environmental catastrophes: The baggies don’t take up all that much landfill space, the cardboard boxes are recyclable, and it’s not clear whether shipping meal kits is less efficient than transporting food to grocery stores and then to homes.

But there is a much better reason to criticize meal-kit companies—and as far as I can tell, few people are talking much about it. That’s surprising, because it’s actually the biggest (or heaviest, at least) thing in every meal-kit box: the freezer packs that keep the perishables fresh while they’re being shipped. Blue Apron now sends out 8 million meals a month. If you figure that each box contains about three meals and two six-pound ice packs, that’s a staggering 192,000 tons of freezer-pack waste every year from Blue Apron alone. To put that in perspective, that’s the weight of nearly 100,000 cars or 2 million adult men. When I shared those numbers with Jack Macy, a senior coordinator for the San Francisco Department of the Environment’s Commercial Zero Waste program, he could scarcely believe it. “That is an incredible waste,” he said. The only reason he suspects he hasn’t heard about it yet from the city’s trash haulers is that the freezer packs end up hidden in garbage bags.

Given that many meal-kit companies claim to want to help the planet (by helping customers reduce food waste and buying products from environmentally responsible suppliers, for example), you’d think they would have come up with a plan for getting rid of this ever-growing glacier of freezer packs. Au contraire. Many blithely suggest that customers store old gel packs in their freezers for future use. Unless you happen to have your own meat locker, that’s wildly impractical. I tried it, and in less than a month the packs—which are roughly the size of a photo album—had crowded practically everything else out of my freezer. Two personal organizers that I talked to reported that several clients had asked for a consult on what to do with all their accumulated freezer packs.

As Nathanael Johnson at Grist points out, Blue Apron has also suggested that customers donate used freezer packs to the Boy Scouts or other organizations. I asked my local Boy Scouts council whether they wanted my old meal-kit freezer packs. “What would we do with all those ice packs?” wondered the puzzled council executive. (Which is saying a lot for an organization whose motto is “be prepared.”)

The meal-kit companies’ online guides to recycling packaging are not especially helpful. (Blue Apron’s is visible only to its customers.) Most of them instruct customers to thaw the freezer packs, cut open the plastic exterior, which is recyclable in some places, and then dump the thawed goo into the garbage. (Hello Fresh suggests flushing the goo down the toilet, which, experts told me, is a terrible idea because it can cause major clogs in your plumbing.) The problem with this advice is that it does not belong in a recycling guide—throwing 12 pounds of mystery goo into the garbage or toilet is not recycling.

To its credit, Blue Apron is the only major meal-kit service to offer a take-back program: Enterprising customers can mail freezer packs back to the company free of charge. But Blue Apron spokeswoman Allie Evarts refused to tell me how many of its customers actually do this. When I asked what the company does with all those used freezer packs, Evarts only told me, “We retain them for future use.” So does that mean Blue Apron is actually reusing the packs in its meal kits, or is there an ever-growing mountain of them languishing in a big warehouse somewhere? Evarts wouldn’t say.

Now back to that mystery goo, which, in case you’re curious, is whitish clear, with the consistency of applesauce. Its active ingredient is a substance called sodium polyacrylate, a powder that can absorb 300 times its weight in water. It’s used in all kinds of products, from detergent to fertilizer to surgical sponges. One of its most common uses is in disposable diapers—it’s what soaks up the pee and keeps babies’ butts dry. When saturated with water and frozen, sodium polyacrylate thaws much more slowly than water—meaning it can stay cold for days at a time.

Meal-kit companies assure their customers that the freezer-pack goo is nontoxic. That’s true. But while sodium polyacrylate poses little to no danger to meal-kit customers, it’s a different story for the people who manufacture the substance. (Meal-kit companies typically contract with freezer-pack manufacturers rather than making their own.) In its powdered state, it can get into workers’ lungs, where it can cause serious problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted in 2011 that workers in a sodium polyacrylate plant in India developed severe lung disease after inhaling the powder. Animal studies have shown that exposure to high concentrations of sodium polyacrylate can harm the lungs. Because of these known risks, some European countries have set limits on workers’ exposure to sodium polyacrylate. Here in the United States, some industry groups and manufacturers recommend such limits as well as safety precautions for workers like ventilation, respirators, and thick gloves. But on the federal level, neither the Occupational Safety and Health Administration nor the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have any rules at all. (The companies that supply freezer packs to Blue Apron and Hello Fresh did not return repeated requests for information on their manufacturing processes.)

Beyond the factory, sodium polyacrylate can also do a number on the environment. In part, that’s because it’s made from the same stuff as fossil fuels—meaning that making it produces significant greenhouse gas emissions, a team of Swedish researchers found in 2015 (PDF). It also doesn’t biodegrade, so those mountains of freezer packs sitting in the garbage aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

So to review: Freezer packs create an epic mountain of garbage, and their goo is not as environmentally benign as meal-kit companies would have you believe. So what’s to be done? One place to start might be a greener freezer pack. That same team of Swedish researchers also developed a sodium polyacrylate alternative using biodegradable plant materials instead of fossil fuels. A simpler idea: Companies could operate like milkmen used to, dropping off the new stuff and picking up the old packaging—including freezer packs—for reuse in one fell swoop.

A little creative thinking might go a long way—yet none of the companies that I talked to said they had any specific plans to change the freezer-pack system (though Hello Fresh did say it planned to reduce its freezer pack size from six pounds to five pounds). And when you think about it, why should they fix the problem? Heidi Sanborn, head of the recycling advocacy group California Product Stewardship Council, points out that the current arrangement suits the meal-kit providers just fine. “It’s taxpayers that are paying for these old freezer packs to sit in the landfill forever,” she says. “Companies are getting a total freebie.”

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The Truth About Meal-Kit Freezer Packs

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Trump Railed Against China While Abandoning Paris. His Views Are Wildly Outdated.

Mother Jones

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President Donald Trump announced Wednesday afternoon that the US will abandon the historic Paris climate agreement—promising to “begin negotiations to re-enter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States.”

In doing so, Trump characteristically railed against China—labeling it an economic foe and arguing it got the best end of the deal. “They can do whatever they want in 13 years, not us,” he said of China’s emissions plans. Casting the deal as an erosion of US sovereignty, Trump added that “the rest of the world applauded when we signed the Paris agreement. They went wild. They were so happy. For the simple reason that it put our country, the United States of America, which we all love, at a very, very big economic disadvantage.”

But here’s the reality: In the Paris agreement, China, for the first time, set a date at which it expects its climate emissions will “peak,” or finally begin to taper downward: around 2030. That goal came about after the US and China finally brokered a landmark bilateral climate deal in 2014 to work together. China has always argued it’s unfair for developed countries—who have already enjoyed the economic growth that comes with spewing carbon into the atmosphere—to curtail the growth of developing countries like China. So getting China to agree to “peaking” emissions was a major diplomatic break-through that turned out to be the secret sauce the world needed to come together in Paris.

The president’s view of China is outdated. Here’s what Trump left out:

China is already ahead of schedule. As we reported in March 2016, Chinese emissions may have actually peaked in 2014, and if those emissions didn’t peak in 2014, researchers say, they definitely will by 2025, years ahead of China’s official 2030 goal. Chinese coal consumption dropped 3.7 percent in 2015, marking two years in a row that coal use in the country declined. That meant 2015 was the first year in 15 years that carbon emissions dropped in China, according to the World Resources Institute.

China is far surpassing the US on investment to create clean energy jobs. In February, China announced that it would spent $361 billion over the next couple of years to create 13 million green jobs, according to the country’s National Energy Administration.

China is winning on clean energy technology. In 2016, a Chinese firm topped a global ranking for wind energy production for the first time, beating America’s General Electric. China leads the world in solar energy production—and has done so for some time. (Go inside one of the world’s biggest solar manufacturing plants with me, here.)

This year China is slated to launch the world’s biggest national carbon trading marketstitching together seven pilot carbon trading markets which have been up and running since 2013.

China overtook the US as the world’s biggest market for electric vehicles in 2015—and has a big plans for expansion. “We are convinced China will become the leading market for electro-mobility,” said Volkswagen brand chief Herbert Diess at a recent Shanghai car show.

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Trump Railed Against China While Abandoning Paris. His Views Are Wildly Outdated.

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