Asheville Declares First Ever 'City-Proclaimed' Vegan Challenge in U.S.
The famously artsy and progressive city of Asheville, North Carolina declared the week of June 4-10 as the nation's first "city-proclaimed" seven-day vegan challenge.
The initiative—organized by the City of Asheville, regional hospital Mission Health and no-kill shelter Brother Wolf Animal Rescue—aims to promote the vegan diet as a means to combat climate change, mass species extinction and animal cruelty, and to improve human health, a Brother Wolf spokesperson told EcoWatch.
Mayor Esther Manheimer signed the proclamation last week. The document makes points such as:
- More than 70 billion animals are bred and slaughtered each year, making global animal agriculture the leading cause of animal cruelty worldwide,
- Global animal agriculture is the leading cause of global deforestation, rainforest depletion, soils degradation, water scarcity, desertification and ocean dead zones,
- Scientists say we are in the midst of the Sixth Great Mass Extinction of Species, with more than 200 wildlife species lost daily, and humans are the leading cause due to global deforestation and climate change,
- The leading causes of human mortality and escalating healthcare costs are heart disease, cancer and diabetes, and the leading driver of those diseases is the consumption of animal-based foods.
The Brother Wolf spokesperson said 225 citizens have already signed up for the challenge. The goal is to reach 500 participants by June 4. At the end of the challenge, the organizers will use the number of people who signed up to calculate the environmental impact of their effort. The following will be measured in terms of the amount saved: Gallons of water, square footage of forest, animals lives, pounds of grain and pounds of CO2.
"We want to show the United States that as a community, we can come together to create real change for the animals, the Earth, and us," said BWAR founder and president Denise Bitz, in a statement.
Asheville has become a plant-based haven in recent years, with more than 80 restaurants serving vegan options and not one but two festivals celebrating the lifestyle—the Asheville VegFest organized by the Asheville Vegan Society, and the Asheville VeganFest organized by Brother Wolf, according to VegNews. Mayor Manheimer even declared "Vegan Awareness Week" in 2016 and in 2017.
The inaugural vegan challenge will lead up to the three-day VeganFest from June 8-10. The organizers expect a record crowd of more than 15,000 attendees this year.
From left to right: Jason Sellars – chef and owner of Plant Vegan Restaurant; Brian Haynes, Asheville councilman; Mayor Esther Manheimer; Paul Berry, Brother Wolf executive director. Brother Wolf
Giving up meat and animal-based products might not be easy for omnivores but the organizers behind the vegan challenge have created a free and accessible guide that includes recipes and a shopping list of ingredients for the week.
The meal plan was developed by Dr. Garth Davis, the medical director of Mission Weight Management, and his team.
"I've just moved to Asheville, and I'm so impressed that the city has issued this proclamation," Davis, who was featured in the documentary Forks over Knives and stars in the TLC show Big Medicine, said in a statement. "My team and I are very excited to be working on this amazing opportunity with Brother Wolf."
Davis and his team will also stream live cooking classes and plant-based health tips on the VeganFest Facebook page.
Brother Wolf has partnered with local grocery stores and restaurants to highlight vegan options during the week.
"We are very blessed to have so many great restaurants in our community, and most all the chefs offer wonderful vegan options," Bitz added. "Our local grocery stores have abundant selections of vegan foods, too. We're working with local restaurants and local grocers to offer discounts on their vegan foods to encourage participation in the challenge."
Going Vegan Is the Best Thing You Can Do for the Planet, New Study Proves https://t.co/QnqHFvQquI @YourDailyVegan @Veganmainstream— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1523359508.0
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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