Find Out If Your State Is Animal Friendly
While many confuse it with your local humane society or shelter, the mission of the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) isn't animal adoption but to advocate for more animal-friendly policies across the country, addressing issues in the treatment of pets, livestock, wildlife and exotic animals.
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In order to do that effectively, you've got to know where you stand. So each year the HSUS compiles and releases its ranking of states in terms of their animal welfare policies. It recently released its rankings for 2014.
"We examine how the states are performing on policies related to wildlife, farm animals, companion animals, puppy mills, animal cruelty and fighting and animals in research," said HSUS president Wayne Pacelle. "We take about 70 policy ideas—such as adoption of felony-level penalties for cockfighting or humane breeding standards for dogs—as our benchmarks. Then we determine if a given state has a policy, add up the numbers, make our judgments and rank the states from top to bottom."
For the sixth year in a row, California tops the list. California has enacted what Pacelle referred to as "a cascade of reform." The state has banned dog and cock fighting, hunting with lead bullets, using dogs to hunt bears, the sale and possession of shark fins used in Chinese shark-fin soup, slaughtering horses for human consumption and private ownership of exotic animals such as big cats, primates, bears and poisonous snakes. It also legislation that protects the welfare of livestock animals, requiring more space for laying hens, veal calves and breeding sows. And it prohibits use of animals in product testing if there is an alternative. On the HSUS's checklist, California scored 71 percent.
Oregon is second, followed by Illinois at #3, Massachusetts at #4 and Virginia and New Jersey tied for fifth place. Colorado, New Jersey, Arizona, Connecticut and Maryland complete the top ten.
"States that showed a big improvement in 2014 were West Virginia, which passed a ban on exotic animals as pets; Virginia, which phased out fox penning and began regulating pet stores with more rigor; and Minnesota, which cracked down on puppy mills and launched a program allowing for dogs used in research to be adopted instead of euthanized," said Pacelle. "Altogether, working with animal advocates nationwide, the HSUS helped pass 137 new state and local laws to protect animals last year—the largest number ever passed in one year. A major item on our agenda this year will be to require that abusers handle the 'costs of care' for the animals rescued from dogfighting, cockfighting and other cases of cruelty—rather than placing the financial burden on animal protection groups."
The group also successfully fought off so-called "ag-gag" laws in 11 of the 12 states considering them. These laws, based on a "model bill" written by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), criminalize undercover photography or filming of animals on livestock farms, an action ALEC dubbed "terrorism." Only Idaho passed such a bill in 2014.
The worst state for animals? As in so many other things, it's Mississippi, with a dismal score of 20 percent. In order, Idaho, North Dakota, South Carolina, Alabama, Wyoming, Utah, Alabama, Kentucky and Alaska ranked as the ten worst places to be an animal. But Mississippi can take some comfort in the fact that it's not the worst of the worst. HSUS also scored Puerto Rico (as well as Washington DC), and it earned a depressing 13 percent to come in at #52.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
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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