On of the main topics of this week's eco-friendly news issue: A cross-sectioning of healthy and nutrient rich soil with plant root structures displayed.
Apr 15, 2024
weekly eco news

Healing the Soils and the Seas Plus Everything in Between

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An End To Forever Chemicals: US Revamps Drinking Water Standards

A glass filled with clean drinking water with condensation on the glass surrounded by green healthy environment.

Millions of Americans can breathe a sigh of relief as the country takes a historic step toward safer drinking water. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized the first-ever national limitations on a class of hazardous chemicals known as PFAS.

PFAS, or per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, are man-made chemicals found in a wide range of daily products, including nonstick cookware and firefighting foams. 

The trouble? Well, these chemicals are extremely persistent in the environment, earning them the label "forever chemicals." According to research, they could leach into drinking water, potentially affecting millions of Americans.

The new regulations focus on six specific PFAS variations, forcing local governments to monitor their presence in water systems. This is an important step because the EPA predicts that 6% to 10% of the country's public water systems may have hazardous amounts of these pollutants.

PFAS exposure has been related to a number of health problems, including cancer, impaired immunological function, and thyroid disorders.

"Drinking water contaminated with PFAS has plagued communities for far too long," said EPA Administrator Michael Regan. He believes the new laws will "save thousands of lives and help ensure that our children grow up healthier."

From Vegas To The Wild: Shark Rewilding Project

A Zebra shark swimming in open waters.

The Raja Ampat archipelago in Indonesia is leading a breakthrough conservation campaign to save zebra sharks from extinction. The StAR (Stegostoma tigrinum Augmentation and Recovery) project is a world first in rewilding sharks by reintroducing aquarium-bred eggs into their native habitat.

Overfishing has reduced Raja Ampat's zebra shark population to only 20 individuals. However, this ingenious project provides some optimism. Zebra shark eggs from aquariums, including the legendary Las Vegas Shark Reef Aquarium, were successfully transferred over 12,000 kilometers to an Indonesian hatchery.

This endeavor is about more than just preserving zebra sharks. A robust zebra shark population is critical to the sustainability of Raja Ampat's marine habitats. Their presence aids in the regulation of prey populations, which in turn promotes the health of coral reefs, the cornerstone of a thriving undersea world.

Healthy Soil On The Horizon

Cross-sectioning of healthy soil with young plant root structures.

Good news for our planet! The European Parliament took a significant step toward healthier soil by proposing to monitor and restore two-thirds of degraded land. This will increase biodiversity and ensure future food production.

The strategy calls for mandatory soil health monitoring, with an emphasis on bacterial, fungal, and worm populations. National governments will also create restoration plans, putting Europe on track to achieve healthier soil by 2050.

While some specifics are still being determined, this vote represents a significant step towards conserving this crucial resource for future generations.

New App Lets Students Explore Clean Energy Solutions And Fight Climate Despair

A snapshot of the clean energy solution software REDi.
REDi Island software snapshot. (Image by National Renewables Energy Lab)

Climate change is a complicated and frightening subject for many youths. Wildfires, floods, and other disasters might leave them feeling hopeless. However, a new software called Renewable Energy Discovery Island (REDi Island) seeks to change that.

REDi Island is a virtual world powered entirely by renewable energy sources like water, wind, and solar. Students can tour the island while learning about various renewable energy technologies using interactive features such as films, 3D models, and scavenger hunts.

This software provides an opportunity to engage young learners in climate solutions and enable them to envision a future powered by renewable energy.

The program currently focuses on water power, but developers intend to incorporate other renewables in the future. By understanding how renewable energy works, children can get a sense of agency and be encouraged to contribute to a more sustainable future.

Seaweed Swaps out Plastic: Eco-Friendly Tampons Made From The Ocean

A tampon made with seaweed against green background.
Biodegradable algal tampon by Vylad. (Image by vyladness.de)

Vyld, a German startup, has invented the world's first biodegradable tampons manufactured from seaweed, a renewable and ocean-friendly resource.

Their "Kelpon" tampons are made from a biopolymer derived from marine algae. Not only is the absorbent material environmentally beneficial, but Vyld believes that the natural qualities of seaweed eliminate the need for a plastic applicator, which further reduces waste.

This breakthrough comes at a critical time. Disposable tampons, which are primarily made of cotton and wrapped in plastic, contribute significantly to pollution. Vyld emphasizes the promise of seaweed as a sustainable alternative, noting that it absorbs CO2 from the environment.

This commitment to sustainability, combined with the user-friendly design, puts Vyld's seaweed tampons as a game changer for the future of period products.