By Jessica Corbett
Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday was the lone progressive to vote against Tom Vilsack reprising his role as secretary of agriculture, citing concerns that progressive advocacy groups have been raising since even before President Joe Biden officially nominated the former Obama administration appointee.
<div id="a420d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5369c498a5855fe2143b86fa07e23dff"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1364300806988652548" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨🚨🚨 Bernie Sanders voted against Tom Vilsack's nomination. It's great to see the Senator stick to his principles a… https://t.co/u4XNU4viNC</div> — RootsAction (@RootsAction)<a href="https://twitter.com/Roots_Action/statuses/1364300806988652548">1614109634.0</a></blockquote></div>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Johnny Wood
Switching en masse to a plant-based diet is essential to protect wildlife habitats and prevent the loss of numerous species currently facing extinction, according to a new report.
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Bringing your own reusable grocery bags when you go shopping is one of the easiest ways to cut down on your plastic consumption — according to the UN Environment Program, up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used globally each year.The most sustainable option is to use a bag you already have, whether it's an old tote or a laundry basket (thank TikTok for that idea). You can also make your own reusable grocery bags out of T-shirts. But if you'd rather purchase designated reusable grocery bags, here are our recommendations.
ChicoBag<p>Standard reusable grocery bags — foldable cloth "green bags" that typically have company logos on them — are bulky, can't be machine washed, and tend to break down after a number of uses. <a href="https://www.amazon.com/ChicoBag-Original-Reusable-Shopping-Grocery/dp/B006WA9LRA" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ChicoBag reusable grocery bags</a> solve these problems and more. They hold up to 25 pounds each, can be tossed in the wash, and stuff down into a tiny attached pouch that you can easily keep in your purse or the center console of your car until you need them.</p><p><strong>Customer rating:</strong> 4.8 out of 5 stars with over 1,000 Amazon reviews</p><strong>Why buy: </strong>Machine washable; Certified B Corp; Climate Neutral Certified; Supports 1% For the Planet; Fair Labor Association member
Lotus Sustainables<p>If you prefer bigger reusable grocery bags that add convenience to your shopping experience, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Trolley-COOLER-Reusable-Grocery-Eco-friendly/dp/B07WTLWF4Z?th=1" target="_blank">Lotus Trolley Bags</a> may be perfect for you. These bags fold flat and nestle in your cart so that you can sort items while you shop. There's a large insulated cooler bag, as well as two standard reusable shopping bags and a bag with pockets for wine bottles and <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/brown-eggs-healthier-than-white-eggs-2314254330.html" target="_self">egg cartons</a>. Each can hold up to 50 pounds and has double-stitched seams for added durability.</p><p><strong>Customer rating: </strong>4.6 out of 5 stars with over 3,000 Amazon reviews</p><strong>Why buy:</strong> Machine washable; Removable rod for non-cart use; Supports 1% for the Planet
BAGGU<p>For another versatile option, try the <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07N4D829J?tag=ecowatch-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1" target="_blank">Baggu Standard Reusable Shopping Bag</a>. This product is modeled after a conventional <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/thailand-plastic-bag-ban-2643538829.html" target="_self">plastic grocery bag</a> but is made with 40% recycled ripstop fabric. Baggu reusable bags can carry up to 50 pounds but stuff down into a five-inch internal pocket for carrying.</p><p><strong>Customer rating:</strong> 4.7 out of 5 stars with over 50 Amazon reviews</p><strong>Why buy:</strong> Machine washable; Made with 40% recycled materials; Ethically manufactured; Packaging made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified material
Ecodunia<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Ecodunia-Canvas-Tote-Women-Eco-Conscious/dp/B08LY82NYW/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Ecodunia&qid=1613051665&sr=8-1" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ecodunia's reusable bags</a> have a sturdier feel than most products on this list. The canvas used to make each bag is produced from 100% renewable resources and natural cotton, plus they have long handles for comfortable carrying over your shoulder. Ecodunia's fun prints will likely make you want to use these bags for more than carting groceries, but they're great for a weekend trip to the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/farmers-markets-coronavirus-safety-2645581711.html" target="_self">farmers market</a>.</p><p><strong>Customer rating:</strong> 5 out of 5 stars with under 5 Amazon reviews</p><p><strong>Why buy: </strong>Made from natural cotton; Machine washable; Handmade; Provides dignified work for communities in Kenya </p>
Simple Ecology<p>Another canvas bag option comes from <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Simple-Ecology-Reusable-Shopping-Certified/dp/B086Z7XQ79?ref_=ast_sto_dp" target="_blank">Simple Ecology</a>. This brand's eco-friendly grocery bags are made with Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified cotton and feature pop-out sleeves for more fragile goods and double-stitched seams for extra reinforcement. The large size has about the same capacity as a grocer's paper bag. Simple Ecology also has a reusable bag <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N6AUMBG/ref=sspa_dk_detail_2?psc=1&pd_rd_i=B01N6AUMBG&pd_rd_w=MA3ZS&pf_rd_p=cbc856ed-1371-4f23-b89d-d3fb30edf66d&pd_rd_wg=hVunQ&pf_rd_r=G6RTQ1Z5DKEY325MAJZ9&pd_rd_r=5d298b3a-1be7-4ebd-a9e1-d5d672a40497&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExMzc4RVAxWjNLOTdCJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNTc0NTAwMzBDMjFYOVJPTUpWSCZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwNjYyOTM4M0s4Vk81SVBPS1NFSyZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2RldGFpbF90aGVtYXRpYyZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=" target="_blank">starter kit</a> that comes with a tote and several reusable produce bags.</p> <p><strong>Customer Rating: </strong>4.6 out of 5 stars with over 900 Amazon reviews</p><strong>Why Buy:</strong> GOTS certified; Machine washable; Biodegradable; Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certified packaging when purchased from manufacturer
BagPodz<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/BagPodz-Reusable-Bag-Storage-System/dp/B00QJ9PBBY" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">BagPodz Reusable Shopping Bags</a> are all about convenience. You can get a pack of five or 10 bags, all of which fit in a low-profile "pod" that can be stored for use on the go. When at the <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/vancouvers-grocery-store-plastic-bags-2638807121.html" target="_self">grocery store</a>, the pod clips to your cart and has an easy-dispense pocket for when it's time to check out. After use, just stuff them back into the pod. BagPodz reusable bags are made with Bluesign® certified materials, which means they're manufactured sustainably.</p> <p><strong>Customer Rating:</strong> 4.8 out of 5 stars with over 2,000 Amazon reviews</p><strong>Why Buy: </strong>Machine washable; Made with Bluesign certified material
COVID-19 is having disproportionate impacts on our nation's two million farmworkers, who as essential workers continue to toil in the fields despite numerous deadly outbreaks and no federal COVID-related workplace protections.
A Dangerous Regulatory Rollback<p>One key way the Biden Administration can start to correct the course is by enforcing and safeguarding the Worker Protection Standard (WPS), the main federal regulation that protects workers from pesticide exposure. Pesticide exposure weakens the respiratory, immune, and nervous systems — exacerbating farmworkers' COVID-19 risks.</p><p>Unfortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Trump Administration made various efforts to weaken or eliminate key provisions of the WPS, which had been revised and improved at the end of the Obama Administration. The WPS is an outlier in occupational health standards – because pesticides, although they are a workplace hazard, are regulated by the EPA, instead of by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which covers occupational health in every other industry. This is just one example of how farmworkers are exempted from basic protections afforded to other workers.</p><p><span></span>Many of the Trump Administration's efforts to weaken the WPS were thwarted by advocacy and litigation by environmental and farmworker groups. However, one of the Trump Administration's proposed rollbacks of the WPS remains: the gutting of the Application Exclusion Zone (AEZ), which required pesticide handlers to stop applying pesticides if someone is near the area being sprayed. If the final Trump AEZ rule goes into effect, farmworkers in neighboring fields, children in school playgrounds or in their backyards, and rural residents going about their day may be in close proximity to where pesticides are being sprayed, as long as they're not on the same property, without any requirement that the applicator suspend spraying. <a href="https://www.usgs.gov/centers/oki-water/science/pesticides?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects" target="_blank">More than 1 billion pounds</a> of pesticides, designed to kill insects, weeds, and other pests, are applied to U.S. agricultural fields every year. In addition to acute poisonings, pesticides are also associated with <a href="https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-worker-safety/pesticide-poisoning-handbook-section-v-chronic-effects" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">long-term health harms</a> including various cancers, developmental and reproductive harm, and neurological damage, for both farmworkers and community members who are chronically exposed to pesticides.</p><p>In December 2020, Farmworker Justice and Earthjustice, acting on behalf of a coalition of groups including Migrant Clinicians Network, <a href="https://earthjustice.org/news/press/2020/groups-challenge-epas-move-to-gut-pesticide-spraying-safeguards?fbclid=IwAR3Od3YPk0BSdwxys27EQkc8PKOufVywlPX8g0i852iJ-PSBkqYPW4ZbB4g" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">sued the EPA to stop these changes</a>. An injunction is currently in place preventing the changes from being implemented as the case proceeds – but the Biden Administration has a responsibility to protect these workers, rather than rely on courts. And the issue of pesticide drift on nearby properties is just one of the many challenges that farmworkers face when it comes to pesticide exposure.</p>
An Opportunity to Right Wrongs<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTYyOTExMS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NjM2ODAzM30.szhrn2C7P9UtiBUNzlPOl4OPhcQdCAak_QA2ThsW0mQ/img.png?width=980" id="17a13" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="88f88bae616b22aae8238fa01dc075ca" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1250" data-height="732" />
Pesticide spray in Utah. Pesticide exposure is associated with various cancers, developmental and reproductive harm, and neurological damage. Aqua Mechanical / Flickr<p>These hard-working farmworkers, upon whom we all depend for the food we eat, deserve immediate and effective protections. The new Administration has a unique opportunity to take advantage of renewed public understanding of the exploitation of farmworkers, to provide long-overdue workplace protections to keep essential workers safe, and to transform our food systems to ensure healthy workplaces, neighborhoods, and the environment, by:</p><ul><li>Rejecting the Trump Administration's attempt to weaken the Application Exclusion Zone requirements;</li><li>Increasing the monitoring and enforcement of the WPS, including, but not limited to, provisions such as the minimum age of 18 for applying pesticides, adequate training for workers in a language that they understand, and worker access to information about pesticides being applied;</li><li>Requiring drift protections on pesticide labels for drift-prone pesticides, to better protect workers, bystanders, and communities;</li><li>Requiring that all pesticide label instructions be written in Spanish and/or other languages spoken by workers so they have the information they need to protect themselves and their families;</li><li>Banning highly toxic pesticides such as chlorpyrifos;</li><li>Using accurate scientific methods for determining pesticide risk, including taking into account farmworkers' potential long-term exposure, when making determinations about pesticide safety and the registration of pesticide products;</li><li>Including farmworkers and farmworker-serving organizations as key stakeholders at EPA, with a focus on environmental justice.</li></ul><p>These are just some of the essential steps the new administration can take to protect farmworkers from the extreme hazards of their workplaces. Much more needs to be done about the myriad factors that negatively impact farmworker health, like poverty, immigration status, language barriers, and fear of retaliation.</p><p>COVID-19 has shown that a strong public health system and a functional food system require basic health and human rights for all of our neighbors, especially those typically left out. The Biden Administration has a duty and an opportunity to improve our systems – and consequently improve our nation's health and well-being.</p><p><em>Amy K. Liebman is Director of Environmental and Occupational Health for </em><a href="http://www.migrantclinician.org/" target="_blank"><em>Migrant Clinicians Network</em></a><em>, a nonprofit focused on creating practical solutions at the intersection of vulnerability, migration, and health. </em></p><p><em>Iris Figueroa is the Director of Economic and Environmental Justice for </em><a href="http://www.farmworkerjustice.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Farmworker Justice</em></a><em>, a nonprofit that seeks to empower migrant and seasonal farmworkers to improve their living and working conditions, immigration status, health, occupational safety, and access to justice.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.ehn.org/farmworkers-deserve-pesticide-protections-2650404972/" target="_blank">Environmental Health News</a>. </em></p>
CBD, a relatively new player in the wellness market, is a cannabinoid that has generated considerable buzz. But this newfound interest has yet to surpass the popularity of another cannabis compound, THC. These two phytocannabinoids are different, yet there's still plenty of people who mistake one for the other. Here, we will compare and contrast CBD vs. THC, so you can learn about their similarities, differences, and impact on health.
Zero THC CBD Products<p><span style="background-color: initial;">If a full spectrum oil with small amounts of THC isn't the route you're hoping to take, then take a look at this product made with pure CBD isolate:</span><span style="background-color: initial;"></span><br></p>
In the outskirts of Newark, New Jersey, tucked between a packaging manufacturer and an aquatics center lies a farm. Except, if you're driving down the nearby highway you probably wouldn't be able to tell that this particular farm is churning out thousands of pounds of greens each year. In fact, all you'll see is a bunch of buildings, because this is a vertical farming operation called AeroFarms, which grows all their food in a warehouse. Like the owners of AeroFarms, tech enthusiasts across the world have embraced the dream of vertical farming, exclaiming that their operations are the answer to feeding a growing global population, combating climate change, and eradicating food deserts.
By Mahima Jain
Over recent months Raja, a farmer in India's Tamil Nadu state, has had a change of routine.
Farming in Crisis<p>Farmers and activists fear the legislation will exacerbate existing stresses in the agricultural sector, which has experienced stagnant growth for six years and decades of rising debt. The pressures are believed to have <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/india-children-grapple-with-the-aftermath-of-farmer-suicides/a-51213478" target="_blank">pushed thousands to suicide</a>.</p><p>"There is so much uncertainty," said Raja, whose income hasn't increased for over a decade. "Before the software boom of the 1990s, I was earning as much as my engineer friends. Today, I am nowhere." He's been selling a 75 kg bag of paddy rice at around $13 (€10.70), less than the government's minimum price support, for over 15 years. </p><p>Raja worries that the new laws, which weaken price guarantees for certain crops, will leave farmers even more vulnerable. </p><p>The current laws push for contract farming, wherein farmers enter into legally binding agreements with large corporations and private players. Activists say this will place them in an unequal power relation, as a failure to deliver crops due to harvest loss could even mean loss of land. </p><p>A breakthrough in calming the months of protest initially appeared to come on January 12 when the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/india-supreme-court-puts-contentious-farms-laws-on-hold/a-56208301" target="_blank">Supreme Court decided to temporarily suspend the legislation</a>. But it was not the victory many hoped for. </p><p>"Farmers movements are against the Supreme Court order," said Ashlesha Khadse, activist and volunteer with Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch, a women farmers group. </p><p>The court has appointed a committee to hold further discussions between protesters and government officials to help resolve the ongoing dispute. Khadse says farmers believe the appointed members are supporters of the laws and will continue protesting until they are fully repealed. </p>
Ecological Roots of Crisis<p>She also argues the legislation fails to tackle the root causes of the sector's problems.</p><p>"The laws don't mention the environment," said Khadse. "But the farm crisis today has ecological roots." </p><p>She says that today's problems can be traced back to the 1960s Green Revolution, when the government supported industrial cultivation of specific crops and adopted modern technology to maximize output. India's food basket was homogenized as certain crops — mainly high-yield varieties of rice, wheat and pulses — were favored over others. </p><p>Land has been left depleted by monocultural cultivation of high-yield seed varieties, said Khadse. She believes the costs of inputs needed to keep producing has pushed farmers into a cycle of debt.</p><p>"The increase in agricultural productivity has come at a tremendous cost to the environment," said Thomson Jacob, a policy consultant at the Centre for Biodiversity Policy and Law in Chennai. Jacob says these include loss of soil nutrients, excessive irrigation, water scarcity, indiscriminate application of some nutrients and pesticides and loss of agrobiodiversity. </p><p>Farmers today are dealing not only with the legacy of the Green Revolution but the added impacts of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/indias-himalayan-apple-farmers-feel-the-heat/a-51607119" target="_blank">climate change</a>. Those working in the agricultural sector, which employs over 40% of India's labor force, grapple with drought and flooding. </p><p>Raja says a changing and unpredictable climate is affecting the yield on his farm. In late November last year, his crops were partially damaged as a result of Cyclone Nivar. Research shows that cyclonic activity in the Bay of Bengal, along which Tamil Nadu sits, has been rapidly intensifying due to rising temperatures.<a href="https://indiaclimatedialogue.net/2020/06/05/cyclones-rise-as-climate-change-heats-up-indian-ocean/#:~:text=Like%20Nisarga%20and%20Amphan%2C%20a,factors%20driving%20this%20rapid%20intensification.&text=%E2%80%9CThese%20are%20record%20temperatures%20driven%20by%20climate%20change." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"></a></p>
Further Incentivizing Monoculture<p>Although cultivation practices have been intensified since the Green Revolution, today 82% of Indian farmers still have lands of less than 5 acres (2 hectares).</p><p>Karthik Gunasekar, an activist with Chennai Climate Action Group, believes a further deregulated market will add pressure to increase output.</p><p>"These new laws will push monocultural farming and unsustainable practices," said Gunasekar. He argues the laws should be repealed and that price protection should instead be offered for a more diverse range of crops to incentivize their cultivation. <br> <br>Without the security of a base price and poor market linkage, India's indigenous crops — which are not high-yielding — have fallen out of favor over the years. </p><p>However, Jacob says that if farmers are given incentives to produce traditional seed varieties then the push for contract farming could be used to help reverse the decline engendered by the Green Revolution. </p><p>"If contract farming encourages organic products, it will <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/social-entrepreneurship-for-sustainable-farming-in-india/a-42147375" target="_blank">enhance agrobiodiversity</a>," said Jacob, adding this could be through export of traditional rice varieties and certified organic products. </p><p>Raja is less optimistic for the future. He feels disillusioned by the fact that instead of engaging with the farmers as equals, the government has left them at the mercy of courts and corporations. </p><p>"I don't want my children to enter this occupation, even though we've done it for generations," he says. "We farmers no longer trust the government."</p><p><span></span>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/the-ecological-roots-of-india-s-farming-crisis/a-56368937" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</p>
By Tara Lohan
Most of us know a bad drought when we see one: Lakes and rivers recede from their normal water lines, crops wither in fields, and lawns turn brown. Usually we think of these droughts as being triggered by a lack of rain, but scientists also track drought in other ways.
Frank Gehrke of the Calif. Dept. of Water Resources during the April 1, 2015 snow survey in the Sierra Nevada, which found zero snow for the first time since surveys began in 1942. Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources
Two of the four interconnected crises prioritized by the Biden administration — climate change and systemic racism — converge on Black farmers, The New York Times reports.
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By Andrea Germanos
Global environmental justice campaigners heralded a Dutch court's ruling Friday that Royal Dutch Shell's Nigerian subsidiary must pay punitive restitution to Nigerian villages for oil spill contamination that brought death, illness, and destruction to Nigerian farmers and communities.
By Jim Palardy
As 2021 dawns, people, ecosystems, and wildlife worldwide are facing a panoply of environmental issues. In an effort to help experts and policymakers determine where they might focus research, a panel of 25 scientists and practitioners — including me — from around the globe held discussions in the fall to identify emerging issues that deserve increased attention.
piyaset / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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