Plastic Packaging Alternatives

Tired of plastic pollution? There are many alternatives. Why should we and brands care about plastic pollution?

Plastics is one of the biggest challenges the world is facing right now. Thanks to David Attenborough’s Blue Planet, consumers are suddenly aware of the thousands of tonnes of plastic filling the ocean.

As plastic is so prolifically used, especially in packaging, brands are going to need to act quick to find plastic alternatives. In fact, 25% of consumers are extremely concerned about plastic packaging, 42% think manufacturers should prioritize making packaging recyclable and 21% think the industry should work toward entirely plastic-free packaging (Kantar). This number is only going to grow as plastic continues to get covered daily in the press. Brands will need to be seen to be taking a responsible approach, otherwise they will risk damaging their hard-earned equity.

With so many plastic alternatives being developed, we’ve rounded up some of the most exciting innovations in plastic replacement. The following are some good sources to learn about many of the available alternatives to plastic.

And think about all the good paying green jobs this new industry has to offer in our communities.

That said, keep in mind not all that’s claimed to be green is golden. So take a closer look to distinguish between the green sheen of greenwashing from the real thing: 

Source: 13 Plastic Packaging Alternatives – Innovation Excellence

Power-Hungry Texas Oil Drillers Get a Little Help From Solar

Texas, home to the world’s largest oil reserve and America’s biggest source of coal-fired power, is on the verge of a clean-energy boom.

Wind already supplies about 15 percent of Texas’s electricity, and now developers are about to quadruple the state’s solar capacity, adding enough panels by 2022 to light up all of Dallas. But they won’t just power homes. Solar developers are responding to demand from oil and gas drillers, whose booming operations are gobbling up electricity and pushing prices spiking above $1,000 a megawatt-hour.

The fact that Texas is turning to solar for help when it’s home to some of the cheapest energy resources in the world is the best evidence yet that the technology can compete head on with fossil fuels. Solar is getting built based purely on economics in the state, which isn’t offering the types of incentives that have spurred clean-energy booms elsewhere.

“People are trying to get in as much solar in Texas as they can,” Mike Garland, chief executive officer of San Francisco-based clean energy developer Pattern Energy Group Inc., said in an interview.

Building a solar farm in Texas currently costs about $32 per megawatt-hour, spread over the lifetime of the plant, according to BloombergNEF. Compare that to $38 for a high-efficiency gas plant. Plus, solar farms can be built in six months, while gas plants can take years. That’s crucial for Texas, which needs more power plants as soon as developers can put them up.

Source: Power-Hungry Texas Oil Drillers Get a Little Help From Solar – Bloomberg

“Prescribing” healthy foods would save $100 billion in medical costs

Perhaps it’s time for doctors to start prescribing more produce than pills. That’s, at least, what researchers argue in a new study that finds “prescriptions” for healthy foods could save more than $100 billion in healthcare costs.

Researchers at Tufts University made the case that subsidized fruits and vegetables could prevent millions of cases of chronic diseases. Roughly 70% of diseases in the U.S. are chronic and lifestyle-driven, according to the CDC, and nearly half of the population has one or more chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, obesity, or cancer.

Source: “Prescribing” healthy foods would save $100 billion in medical costs

The military is cutting its dangerous dependence on diesel – with solar power and microgrids

The US Army is not particularly shy about adopting the latest high-tech gadgets, and renewable energy is a case in point. Despite all the fossil friendly rhetoric emanating from the White House, the Army is still pursuing microgrids with renewable solar energy to improve operations and cut costs at its domestic bases here in the US and at forward operating bases overseas, too.

That’s improving operations as compared to relying on diesel generators for back-up power and transportable power generation, by the way.

The latest development in the forward operating base category is a new contract with the microgrid company Go Electric, to develop a “portable, modular, self-forming microgrid solution” that can withstand whatever punishment the US Africa Command can dish out while maximizing fuel efficiently and improving reliability over diesel generators. Sounds like magic, right?

The Return Of The SPIDERS Microgrid

Well, it’s not magic. Just a lot of elbow grease and years of R&D.

If the name Go Electric rings any bells, you may be thinking of the company’s role in the cutting edge SPIDERS microgrid project.

SPIDERS stands for Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security. It’s a three-phase, $30 million project under the umbrella of the US Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories. The aim is to deploy microgrids with renewable energy as a more efficient, more reliable, and more secure replacement for conventional diesel generators.

Source: The military is cutting its dangerous dependence on diesel – with solar power and microgrids | Red, Green, and Blue

San Antonio Chicken Walk Coop Tour | Food Policy Council of San Antonio

The Food Policy Council of San Antonio‘s 2nd Annual San Antonio Chicken Walk coop tour will be held Saturday, April 13th, with great coops in north central San Antonio. The provide a map and passport to pre-registered visitors by email, but you can register on the day of the tour.

This tour celebrates the October 2017 change to the San Antonio animal ordinance, raising the limit of backyard chickens allowed without a permit from 3 to 8. The San Antonio Express-News covered the inaugural event last year online and in the print edition, view the online Coop Tour Article.

Last year more than 140 people took the tour, and many people gathered afterward at Pittman Sullivan Community Garden for food, music, and raffle prizes. Use the hashtag #SAChickenWalk to share your photos on social media.

Price: $10.00. Purchase your ticket now! For more details click this source: San Antonio Chicken Walk Coop Tour | Food Policy Council of San Antonio

What Laws Work Best to Cut Plastic Pollution?

Experts have recommended how the United States can drastically curb the use of throwaway plastics with new federal legislation. Read more about how do you solve a problem this big?

What Works

There are currently no federal laws restricting single-use plastics, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t good examples that could serve as useful templates.

According to Stein, Congress could shape federal policy by following existing local and state laws that have already been crafted to tackle plastic problems with bans on all types of single-use plastic items, from bags to expanded polystyrene foam food containers to straws. California made headlines in February after lawmakers proposed a phaseout of all plastic products that aren’t completely recyclable.

Such laws are grounded in scientific evidence that plastics are problematic because they don’t break down in the natural environment and pose a danger to wildlife and probably people.

There’s a precedent for using state and local laws to help craft national legislation: microbeads. After several states and municipalities banned the sale and manufacture of health and beauty products containing these ecologically damaging exfoliating plastic beads, the United States passed a federal act doing the same.

Most experts agree banning single-use plastic products is a more useful strategy for reducing plastic use and pollution than recycling, which is much less effective. A ban also tackles the issue at the source, helping to curb greenhouse gases coming from the rapidly expanding petrochemical industry that uses fossil fuels to produce plastic.

“Overall, we felt the reception was positive — plastic pollution is a topic that is on the minds of the American public and the congresspersons who represent them,” Stein says. “We’re hopeful that Save Our Seas 2.0 legislation in the Senate may provide a chance to think about comprehensive federal strategies to reduce plastic pollution.”

Source: What Laws Work Best to Cut Plastic Pollution? • The Revelator

Solar Panel Recycling in 2019: How it Works

Solar panel recycling is important for the future of solar. Solar panels have a lifetime of about 30 years. With the increasing number of solar panels being sold and installed in the United States each year, it’s only a matter of time before high volumes of silicon solar panels are at the end of their useful life and have to be disposed of. Solar panel recycling is still at a very early stage, but as the market continues to grow, it will have an important part to play in the solar industry.

Solar energy is inexpensive and environmentally friendly – until your solar panels have reached the end of their lifetime. After about 30 years, many crystalline silicon solar panels will start having significant dips in energy production and it may be time to replace them or dispose of them entirely.

Besides environmental protection, recycling solar panels will be economically impactful as well. Some of the rare elements in photovoltaic (PV) cells like gallium and indium are being depleted from the environment over time. If we were able to recover those elements, we can conserve the limited amount available on earth and continue to use them for solar panels and other products. Furthermore, a 2016 study by the International Renewable Agency (IRENA) estimated that $15 billion could be recovered from recycling solar modules by the year 2050.

What parts of solar panels can be recycled?

Recycling solar panels can only be effective if the materials used to build them are able to be used again, 30 or more years later. Solar panels are made from several components, including:

  • Silicon solar cells
  • Metal framing
  • Glass sheets
  • Wires
  • Plexiglas

Solar panels are good for the environment, and recycling is coming

While solar panel recycling isn’t widely available in the U.S. for all of the components in solar panels, there’s still a little time before the number of panels needing to be recycled gets too high. Groups like SEIA and Recycle PV are doing important groundwork for the industry, but there’s more to do in years to come.

California is in the process of determining how to divert solar panels from landfills, which is where they currently go, at the end of their life. When taking a product back to be recycled, reused or biodegradable it’ll be designed and engineered to accommodate for infrastructure by creating it’s own circular supply-chain infrastructure.

It is better to design and engineer sustainable circular economy solutions than simply create systems that are just another form of indulgence paid for our environmental sins while doing nothing about them. More circular solutions need to be created to counter the criticism of, “If Solar Panels Are So Clean, Why Do They Produce So Much Toxic Waste?

Source: Solar Panel Recycling in 2019: How it Works | EnergySage

Where Will Your Plastic Trash Go Now That China Doesn’t Want It?

What should wealthy countries do with their plastic waste now that China no longer is buying it? For years, America sold millions of tons of used yogurt cups, juice containers, shampoo bottles and other kinds of plastic trash to China to be recycled into new products.

And it wasn’t just the U.S. Some 70 percent of the world’s plastic waste went to China – about 7 million tons a year. Numerous Chinese millionaires were minted as recycling businesses started and blossomed. Sure, they paid for the world’s plastic and paper trash, but they made far more money from processing it and selling the resulting raw materials.

New dumping destinations aren’t likely to last. Already, Vietnam and Malaysia are cutting back imports of scrap plastic because they are overwhelmed. They can’t handle the huge diversion of plastic to their countries since China shut out imports.

Recycling experts say it’s a time of reckoning for their industry and that wealthy countries need to stop exporting to countries that can’t handle it. That leaves America with a recycling problem and here’s how to solve it.

Source: China Isn’t Recycling Tons Of U.S. Plastic Trash Anymore : Goats and Soda : NPR

Norway’s $1tn wealth fund to divest from oil and gas exploration

The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, which manages $1tn (£770bn) of Norway’s assets, is to dump investments in firms that explore for oil and gas, but will still hold stakes in firms such as BP and Shell that have renewable energy divisions.

The Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), whose assets exceed those of rival sovereign wealth funds such as China’s, said it would phase out oil exploration from its “investment universe”.

Tom Sanzillo, director of finance for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said: “These are very important statements from a big fund. They’re doing it because fossil fuel stocks are not producing the value that they have historically.

“It’s also a warning to the integrated oil companies that investors are looking at them to move the economy forward to renewable energy.”

He said GPFG’s investment strategy also “underscores that the fracking business model is unsustainable”.

Source: Norway’s $1tn wealth fund to divest from oil and gas exploration | World news | The Guardian

San Antonio Planting Calendar & Companion Planting Guide

Here is your San Antonio Area Planting Calendar in pdf format suitable for printing. I’ve been giving these away for years. Includes most favorable dates for planting and destroying crops yielding their harvest ABOVE and BELOW ground for Spring and Fall Gardens. 

https://cbks1.google.com/cbk?output=thumbnail&cb_client=maps_sv&thumb=2&thumbfov=105&ll=29.406935,-98.399114&yaw=344.5&thumbpegman=1&w=300&h=118Please give some love to the helpful folks at Fanick’s Nursury and Garden Center by buying something from them! They are really great people, have been around for years and are experts and one of the few remaining independent nurseries in the San Antonio Metro area. Doing so helps support local businesses and keeps our dollars in the community while lowering our carbon footprint.

Fanick’s Garden Center – With knowledgeable staff to Assist you
1025 Holmgreen Road (map/directions) San Antonio, TX. 78220
Join our newsletter for reminders on upcoming sales & seminars


Companion Planting can be described as the establishment of two or more plant species in close proximity so that benefits such as pest control, higher yield, etc. can be derived from the pactice.

An Open Letter To Be the Change and Lead the Change

Whale blubber and buggy whips were once fine industries, but progress moved us away. And today we know the days are over of a false choice between environmental protection and economic growth.

Since when did the simple concept of leaving the planet a better place for our kids become a partisan issue? We all benefit from energy independence, green jobs, preservation of habitat and watersheds, livable cities, clean air and water, and healthy children when we see it as an apolitical issue of good economics, health and progress.

The business leaders in our development community and oil and gas industries need to step-up there game, rise to the occasion, embrace the many new opportunities of creating climate wealth, and become leading experts in their respective profession’s modern methods.

Perhaps it’s time to decide if we’re simply in the fossil-fuel business or the energy business. Those who chose energy rather than whale blubber adapted and prospered.

We understand you’re scared about your survival being that it’s become clear the titans of the fossil-fuel industry knew for decades about climate change but chose to fund obfuscation of their own research findings.

As city leaders we need to work together to better inform and educate our city’s residents and business community about the CAAP and the prosperity it brings for now and the future.

I invite Ray Chavez and Richard Perez to a conversation and visit SustainableSA.com to learn about all the profitable benefits being deployed through ecopositve practices and regenerative solutions that create holistic long-term abundance and improved health.

As leaders of our City’s Manufacturers Association and largest Business Chamber we should be leading and cheering on the ways of doing business for today and tomorrow not yesterday.

If we’re concerned about small and medium-sized businesses then lets set up mandates in the climate equity portion of the CAAP for funding and incentives for training programs about new technologies, practices and methods, and how to adopt and embrace change to help our businesses get through the learning curve and be successful in their particular industries.

How about we be the change and lead the change in the world economy for new job creation and economic development of the 21st Century?

The Nubian Vault: An ecological housing solution

A housing solution for big cities as well as rural areas, Nubian vaults have become popular in the region of Boromo and have spread across five other regions. And a large market for Nubian vaults has emerged in big cities like Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.

March and April are the two hottest months in Burkina Faso, with temperatures often rising to more than 40ºC (104ºF) in the shade. In homes and offices, built in the most part out of cement and concrete, the only solution to the heat is air conditioning.

As a result, energy consumption during these months is extremely high, to the point where the national electricity provider is unable to supply sufficient electricity to meet the sudden increase in demand often causing systematic power cuts across the city during these months.

Due to these factors, in the heart of the affluent district of Ouaga 2000, where villas and futuristic homes line the streets, a new trend in housing is beginning to show. Inspired by ancient techniques, the buildings are made from only earth bricks and earth mortar.

Nubian vaults, recognizable by their thick walls, lack of roofing tiles and the absence of wooden beams, are becoming increasingly popular due to their cooling properties. Nubian vaults also only use locally sourced materials in their construction: adobe, clay and straw, and are thus ecologically sound.

Because of climate change and deforestation, there’s not enough locally available construction timber in the Sahel region of Africa. Traditional roofs are often replaced by imported corrugated zinc sheets and timber frames – an expensive and climatically inappropriate solution. But with the Nubian Vault technique, using raw earth as the principal construction material, a building can go up without using timber. Such buildings are well adapted to both rural and urban contexts and to just about any geographic area.

Video – Check out these amazing buildings, which include two-story homes, using the Nubian Vault method for a solid, comfortable, and affordable home – FR / English Subtitles

Source: The Nubian Vault: An ecological housing solution | Impact Journalism Day 2018

In the Deepest Ocean Trenches, Animals Eat Plastic

Alan Jamieson remembers seeing it for the first time: a small, black fiber floating in a tube of liquid. It resembled a hair, but when Jamieson examined it under a microscope, he realized that the fiber was clearly synthetic—a piece of plastic. And worryingly, his student Lauren Brooks had pulled it from the gut of a small crustacean living in one of the deepest parts of the ocean.

“I imagine pollution in the Mariana Trench is an abstract concept for most people, but for those of us living in the Mariana Islands this has consequences for what ends up on our dinner plates,” says Angelo Villagomez, an indigenous Chamorro from the Mariana Islands who works for the Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy.

“So what can we do? The International Union for the Conservation of Nature recommends we protect 30 percent of every marine habitat to address human impacts, but that will only help if we’re also sustainably managing the remaining 70 percent, reducing carbon emissions, and limiting the pollution being dumped in the ocean in the first place.”

Source: In the Deepest Ocean Trenches, Animals Eat Plastic – The Atlantic

Progress and Sustainability Are Intertwined

History shows whale blubber and buggy whips were once fine industries, but progress moved us away. And through progress today we know the days are well over of a false choice between environmental protection and economic growth.

And similarly it’s time we progressively and nimbly move away from fossil fuels. It’s not a question of if, but how best and quickly, to do it. It’s not just our moon shot, it’s our effort to address an existential threat. The old obsolete ways do not compete with more efficient, ecopostive and regenerative economic practices.

We want to encourage our City and community owned CPSEnergy, to be world leaders in the Third and Fourth Industrial Revolutions. And preeminent in each of their own industry’s disruptive technologies. Rather than abdicating our leadership to other cities and nations.

In the spirit of practical bipartisanship, since when did the simple concept of leaving the planet a better place for our kids become a partisan issue? We all benefit from energy independence, green jobs, preservation of habitat and watersheds, livable cities, clean air and water, and healthy children.

Especially when we look at it as an apolitical issue of good economics, health and progress. Today we can actually rebuild our infrastructure to help the populace and strengthen society to be an advanced civilization and species on the planet.

The business leaders in our development community and oil and gas industries need to step-up there game, rise to the occasion, embrace the many new opportunities of creating climate wealth, and become leading experts in their respective profession’s modern methods.

Smart growth through sustainable development is the new frontier, as we can see climate change is here and PCBs along plastic pollution have been found in the deepest ocean trenches of our planet.

And even if we don’t think climate change is real, we could do worse than to create a better, more livable world, for nothing. Just ask our kids.

Those who have local operational control of our emissions need to take seriously their responsibility of limiting GHGs.

Especially when methane accounts for 25% of human made GHG emissions and is 30 times more potent as a heat-trapping gas.

The scientific community has found a 20 year time-frame is more useful for policymakers, and common sense tells us we’re more likely to effect change in a 20-year period of our lifetime, than a 100 year period.

Subsequently, a 20-year impact action needs to be most prominent in our Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) goals so policymakers can not miss it when setting immediate priorities.

Many people are concerned only about the costs while somehow being unaware of the savings that come with higher efficiencies of resource use and all of the economic benefits that are intertwined with progress and sustainability.

And as city leaders we need to work to better educate and inform our city’s residents and business community about the CAAP and the wealth and prosperity it brings for now and the future.

Trees are aware of their neighbors and give them room

Lessons from nature…Cohabitation

In ‘crown shyness,’ some tree species respect those nearby and keep their leaves to themselves.

I could write about trees until I was green in the gills; and I do. And it’s probable that every time I write about them, I slip into anthropomorphising them. Maybe they don’t walk around and fly to the moon, but they are truly remarkable organisms with gifts and talents all their own. They are some of the planet’s most noble workhorses – we’d be nothing without them – and they deserve all the respect they can get.

(Exhibit A: See the related stories below.)

Source: Trees are aware of their neighbors and give them room | TreeHugger

‘This is not controversial’: Bipartisan group of economists calls for carbon tax with dividends

Forty-five top economists from across the political spectrum are calling for the United States to put a tax on carbon, saying it is by far the best way for the nation to address climate change.

Does this plan include exempting the fossil fuel industry from any kind of legal action or reparations for having lied about climate change for decades?

When corporations have evidence of a health or environmental issue in direct relation to the use of their product, do they have a legal duty to not create a propaganda campaign in an attempt to cover up or debunk their own findings?

Source: ‘This is not controversial’: Bipartisan group of economists calls for carbon tax – The Washington Post

Biological Pest Control, Biomimicry & Mycology

Biological pest control is the way of the future using biomimicry to emulate what nature does. Why genetically modify when we can just learn from nature how it’s already being done, and has been doing it for millions of years. Or in other words, why reinvent the wheel?

Mycology is also a great example of such and Paul Stamet is, and has been, doing some great work. If short on time skip to 13:00 for specific info about pesticides.
https://www.ted.com/talks/paul_stamets_on_6_ways_mushrooms_can_save_the_world

Mas info…insects are pretty cool too…
http://www.biocomes.eu/biological-control/biological-control-examples/

Planting Calendar & Companion Planting Guide

Here is your San Antonio Area Planting Calendar in pdf format suitable for printing. We’ve been giving these away for years. Includes most favorable dates for planting and destroying crops yielding their harvest ABOVE and BELOW ground for Spring and Fall Gardens. 

https://cbks1.google.com/cbk?output=thumbnail&cb_client=maps_sv&thumb=2&thumbfov=105&ll=29.406935,-98.399114&yaw=344.5&thumbpegman=1&w=300&h=118Please give some love to the helpful folks at Fanick’s Nursury and Garden Center by buying something from them! They are really great people, have been around for years and are experts and one of the few remaining independent nurseries in the San Antonio Metro area. Doing so helps support local businesses and keeps our dollars in the community while lowering our carbon footprint.

Fanick’s Garden Center – With knowledgeable staff to Assist you
1025 Holmgreen Road (map/directions) San Antonio, TX. 78220
Join our newsletter for reminders on upcoming sales & seminars


Companion Planting can be described as the establishment of two or more plant species in close proximity so that benefits such as pest control, higher yield, etc. can be derived from the practice.

U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Block Exxon Climate Fraud Investigation | InsideClimate News

What did Exxon know and when did they know it, will it be like the tobacco industry's debacle of deniability?

Massachusetts' attorney general is trying to force Exxon to turn over decades of records involving what it knew about climate change and what it told the public.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up ExxonMobil's latest attempt to block Massachusetts' investigation into whether the oil giant misled the public and investors about climate change.

The decision clears the way for state Attorney General Maura Healey to force the company to turn over records as her office probes whether Exxon concealed its knowledge of the role fossil fuels play in global warming.

Those records could open a window into the company's internal discussions, including its

Source: U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Block Exxon Climate Fraud Investigation | InsideClimate News

U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Block Exxon Climate Fraud Investigation | InsideClimate News

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up ExxonMobil’s latest attempt to block Massachusetts’ investigation into whether the oil giant misled the public and investors about climate change. The decision clears the way for state Attorney General Maura Healey to force the company to turn over records as her office probes whether Exxon concealed its knowledge of the role fossil fuels play in global warming. Those records could open a window into the company’s internal discussions, including its

Source: U.S. Supreme Court Refuses to Block Exxon Climate Fraud Investigation | InsideClimate News