National Public Lands Day Sept. 29
More than 170,000 volunteers are expected at more than 2,100 sites across the country on Saturday, Sept. 29 to take part in the largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands in the U.S.—National Public Lands Day (NPLD).
Volunteers in every state will visit parks, public and community gardens, beaches, wildlife preserves or forests and chip in to help these treasured places that belong to all Americans. They will improve and restore the lands and facilities the public uses for recreation, education, exercise and connecting with nature.
“With one-third of America's land in public hands, NPLD provides an opportunity for volunteers of all ages to help sustain these lands,” said Robb Hampton, director of the public lands program of the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF), which coordinates NPLD. “Volunteers can also spend time after their tasks to enjoy the lands, whether at a local green space or national park. Many sites offer nature hikes, bike rides, picnics or other outdoor activities.”
JL Armstrong, NEEF board member and national manager, corporate affairs at Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., said, “NPLD involves thousands of volunteers making a difference in cities and towns across the nation while participating in outdoor activities. We encourage everyone, particularly families and service groups, to join their neighbors on NPLD to make their communities the best they can be.”
With a long-standing commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship, Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. is the event’s national sponsor for the 14th consecutive year. Northrop Grumman has joined as a contributing sponsor for the fourth consecutive year. Sept. 29 marks the event’s 19th year.
The event last year contributed an estimated $17 million in volunteer services to public lands, which included planting about 100,000 trees, shrubs and other native plants, as well as building and maintaining approximately 1,500 miles of trails.
Volunteers have unique opportunities to choose from, including:
- Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, Atlanta, Ga.–As part of Georgia’s “Your State Parks Day,” volunteers will restore historic houses, clear debris and help mulch. Atlanta’s nonprofit Greening Youth Foundation will also hold a youth campout barbecue the evening before NPLD.
- Globe Building Discovery Center, Detroit, Mich.–The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is hosting the groundbreaking of the Globe Building, a 50,000 sq. ft. indoor exploration center for outdoor recreation along the Detroit Riverfront. The groundbreaking is part of Michigan Trails Week with statewide volunteer opportunities.
- Elgin Community Gardens, Elgin, Ill.–Twenty-one community gardens throughout the city will be participating in NPLD. The gardens will harvest food and donate it to crisis centers, soup kettles, homeless shelters and food pantries.
- The Emerson Brook Forest Center, Gilsum, N.H.–The Sustainability Project, a local nonprofit, is inviting volunteers to create wheelchair-accessible gardens and trails surrounding a vernal pool. Keene State College Ecology Club and student organizations are expected to participate.
- Deschutes National Forest, Whychus Creek, near Sisters, Ore.–The U.S. Forest Service, National Forest Foundation, and REI Bend store will host a variety of family-friendly conservation projects along the creek. Half-day projects include planting, scattering native seeds and more. All volunteer projects finish by 2 p.m., leaving time to explore, fish and enjoy other activities.
Events in every state, the District of Columbia and many U.S. territories can be found online, searchable by state or zip code. Eight federal agencies will participate—along with more than 250 state, county and city partners, and a host of nonprofit organizations around the nation.
NPLD is also a designated fee-free entrance day at many federal public lands including national parks.
Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERSITY page for more related news on this topic.
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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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