November 17, 2013
November 16, 2013
November 3, 2013
October 25, 2013
In their June 2012 Research on the Carbon Footprint of Spirits report, the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER), the average 750-milliliter bottle of liquor produces about 6.3 pounds of CO2.
Yikes. Is that a reason to quit drinking? According to the BIER report (I love that acronym), distillation is the number one contributor to a spirit’s carbon footprint--more than a third of its emissions--because distillation. creates a lot of waste in the form of spent mash, wastewater, and liquor "goop" such as tequila’s pulp and rum’s fibrous leftovers.
But a number of distilleries are now following the lead of the beer industry and converting spent grain into livestock feed. Do you conjure up visions of happy smiling swine and swooning cows?
Wastewater can be recycled as well and grey water can return to the soil. Bacardi has used an anaerobic digester system since 1992 to turn 1.2 million gallons of still bottoms, unfermented molasses, and water into 7 million cubic meters of biogas, which is then used to distill more rum. That almost excuses them facing a 2001 EPA lawsuit when it was accused of violating the Clean Water Act with a 3,000-gallon discharge of industrial waste near the San Juan Bay in Puerto Rico. They settled in 2008 with a $550,000 fine and a $1 million land preservation donation.
Whiskey producers also find it easy to source their grain locally. Maker’s Mark claims that all its grains come from within a 30-mile radius. Most American sugarcane is grown in Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Hawaii but growing sugarcane can be tough on the environment if soil erosion and water pollution are not mitigated.
On the other hand, tequila is never going to be locally sourced because international law requires that anything calling itself “tequila” be produced in certain areas of Mexico.
What about organic ingredients? Even if they can’t find certified organic ingredients, most small distillers prefer to steer clear of GMOs. So support your local small producer if possible.
Not surprisingly, 20 percent of a distillery’s carbon footprint comes from packaging. Everything from the bottles to the labels to the glue holding the two together and the boxes carrying them to the liquor store has an environmental impact. Some are turning to glass that is 25 percent lighter than average, 35 percent post-consumer waste cardboard, 100 percent post-consumer waste recycled paper labels, and even soy-based inks. Some are producing their own bottles instead of importing them. And SF Vodka goes the milkman route, trading empties for discounts on a bar or restaurant’s next round.
But buyer beware: If a company touts how “sustainable” or “green” its liquor is, look carefully. They may be green-washing their product.
October 23, 2013
Nike Reuse-a-Shoe takes worn out athletic shoes and grinds them down to create a new material, Nike Grind, used in high-quality sports surfaces including courts, turf fields and tracks. Since 1990, Nike has transformed 28 million pairs of shoes and 36,000 tons of scrap material into Nike Grind in more than 450,000 locations around the world—covering approximately 632,000,000 square feet. That is nearly enough to cover the entire island of Manhattan (23 square miles).
When you look at the rest of our clothing, we’re shamelessly wasteful too. According to the Council for Textile Recycling, the average American tosses 70 pounds of clothing per year. Of that, only 15 percent finds new life as industrial rags, insulation, carpet padding, seat stuffing, and even paper. The other 85 percent? Landfilled.
October 22, 2013
October 13, 2013
UPDATE (10-23-13): The Virginia Marine Resources Commission just voted 7-0 to NOT reopen winter dredging for crabs. Maryland has not allowed it for years. Let's give those pregnant females a fighting chance!
September 15, 2013
September 9, 2013
September 7, 2013
September 4, 2013
August 30, 2013
August 29, 2013
August 18, 2013
August 15, 2013
August 3, 2013
July 30, 2013
I always put jellyfish and mosquitos in the same category: hated pests. Why did we need either of them?
The jellyfish most often encountered in the Chesapeake Bay in the summer is the sea nettle Chrysaora quinquecirrha pictured here. We have seen these guys with the long tentacles surrounding our boat on our much anticipated southern Chesapeake sailing cruise during the last ten days. Why did I bother packing bathing suits in my dufflebag?
But now I read that sea nettles do have a valuable purpose. They like to dine on comb jellies (not even real jellyfish) that like to dine on fish and oyster larvae/spat.
Then there are the smaller moon jellies that inflict ministings on humans if anything at all.
The sea nettles are having a blast this summer.Check the regular jellyfish forecast at
July 20, 2013
July 18, 2013
Of the products registered with the EPA, those containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection.
July 12, 2013
As we sail around the Chesapeake watershed, we have seen more and more miles of riprap (stones) lining the shorelines. NOT the view that John Smith saw.
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) is in charge of the replenishment program this year.According to the commission, each $1 spent in planting oyster shells yields an economic benefit of $7 in larger harvests and increased jobs.
The three James City County "Convenience Centers" are no longer accepting #3-#7 plastics due to lack of reliable recycling markets. Last October they had begun taking them but could no longer assure that these plastics were indeed being recycled. Many similar community programs discover that these particular plastics are being shipped to China and burned for energy or landfilled. The convenience centers still DO ACCEPT #1 and #2 plastic bottles with necks only.
Gloucester County residents, however, can drop off #1 through #7 plastics at that county's recycling and disposal center locations. Click here for more information.
See the 2013 Recycling Guide link on this blog (at left) for complete information on where and how to recycle almost everything.
July 11, 2013
|Female deer tick|
July 2, 2013
June 3, 2013
The osprey population in the Chesapeake watershed is back to healthy. So healthy that one industrious pair tried to set up housekeeping on a neighbor's chimney while they were out of town.
May 25, 2013
The good news is that Virginia requires builders and developers get a construction general permit before they begin a construction job. Every five years, Virginia re-issues this permit to update requirements and ensure that builders use the latest, most effective runoff-prevention practices.
The bad news, this time around, is that the public is not part of this process. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation folks say that the runoff prevention plans will no longer be available for citizen review. In a serious departure from existing law, this new construction general permit would allow contractors to keep their pollution prevention plans out of public view and secret.
Duh. So how can the public report any violations if they do not know what is expected?
You can tell the state you object to this new secrecy provision in the proposed Virginia permit. Insist that Virginia protect the public’s waterways by maintaining public access to builders’ runoff prevention plans.
Click here, or write:
Regulatory Coordinator, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
203 Governor Street, Suite 302
Richmond, Virginia 23219
The deadline to comment is June 7.