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Cork vs. Cap: Which Wine Stopper is Better?

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Cork vs. Cap: Which Wine Stopper is Better?

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Inmates at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center left without power for days during polar vortex

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The scene at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park this past week was harrowing: prisoners — many of whom have yet to be convicted of a crime — relentlessly banged their fists against jail windows, some of them waving lights inside their pitch-black cells. The jail, which houses more than 1,600 inmates, had been without heat for days, just as the city’s temperatures had plummeted to single digits amid a polar-vortex event.

“This is an example of how people who may be voiceless are going to be affected by recurrent extreme weather events,” said Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of UPROSE, a Brooklyn-based community group (located in the same neighborhood as the detention center) that works on issues involving climate change and racial justice.

Indeed, detention centers like the one in Brooklyn are on the front lines of climate change. When temperatures plunge, inmates often lack access to heat; and during heat waves, inmates are often trapped in unbearable conditions sans air conditioning. When detention centers have lain in the path of hurricanes, many facilities have ignored evacuation orders, instead forcing prisoners to ride out the potentially deadly storms in their cells.

“It’s a clear violation of human rights,” Yeampierre told Grist.

As soon as word got out about the facility’s nightmarish conditions, the problem erupted into public outrage. “Disturbing reports have surfaced that the federal government left more than a thousand prisoners without heat, hot water or electricity during subzero temperatures at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement. “No one in New York should live in fear that they may freeze to death alone in the dark.”

(The Bureau of Prisons, which runs the Metropolitan Detention Center, did not immediately respond to Grist’s request for comment.)

Last Friday, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Metropolitan Detention Center demanding that power and heat be restored. According to the Washington Post, some protesters even remained overnight in below-freezing temperatures in solidarity with inmates still without power.

“We’re really happy to see how many people stepped up and organized immediately; there was almost an organic rapid response from the community,” Yeampierre said.

During the demonstration, activists chanted “Move them out!” and demanded answers from jail officials. Some carried signs with the words, “Shut it down,” and “Torture at the MDC.” Tensions reached a boil on Sunday when police guards pepper-sprayed protesters, including family members and legal defenders, who attempted to enter the detention facility.

Prison officials attributed the power outage to an electrical fire that shut down primary power to much of the facility on January 27. But, according to a flurry of federal hearings this week, conditions in the prison started to go downhill as early as mid-January — two weeks before the fire.

Full power was restored to the facility on Monday, according to a Bureau of Prisons’ statement.

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Inmates at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center left without power for days during polar vortex

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Trump wants to ramp up coal. Spain has found a way to quit it.

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This story was originally published by the HuffPost and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Villablino, Spain — When the shutters come down on the last 10 privately owned pits in northwest Spain’s once mighty coal industry later this month, there will be tears and trauma in the region where the country’s mining unions were born.

There is also a fragile hope that a better, cleaner future could follow — but a barely hidden warning that the despair that propelled Trump to power in the U.S. lurks in the wings if it does not.

Spain’s uneconomic coal industry has been killed by a pincer movement: cheaper imports from developing countries on one flank and falling renewable energy prices on the other, fanned by binding E.U. targets to reduce emissions and a dawning awareness of coal’s climate and other environmental costs.

Industry shutdowns are painful, especially in sectors like coal mining which go back generations. The risk is unemployment and social dislocation. But this one may play out differently: in a “just transition” deal — brokered by unions and a new leftwing government — that could have implications for other coal-producing countries, including the U.S.

Spain plans to support laid-off miners and their communities by plowing $285 million over a decade into compensation payouts, retraining for low-carbon jobs and environmental restoration work in pit communities. The aim is to ensure a safety net to catch those whose jobs will disappear as the economy shifts to a low-carbon one. Politicians and union officials say the deal will ensure both environmental and social protection as the economy shifts away from coal.

However, on the ground in Spain, there is suspicion about this promised new future from workers who have watched an industry, identity, and way of life dying around for them for some two decades. More than a thousand miners and contractors will be laid off around Christmas, a third of them in the northern region of Castilla y León, home to Villablino, and there is concern over whether new jobs will materialize.

“New jobs are a utopia in our country,” says Salvador Osario, a 47-year-old miner from Castilla y León who took early retirement after 20 years of digging coal. “The miners are alone. No one wants to support us. Not the left- or the right-wing parties. Even the unions are divided.”

Salvador Osario, 47, is a retired miner in the Castilla y León region of northern Spain.Arthur Neslen / HuffPost

The valleys of Castilla y León once thrummed to the sound of the coal industry, and relics from its retreat are everywhere. Pit shafts litter the hillsides and monuments to miners are sprinkled around town squares. Diner cafes have stickers of miners on the doors, and coal train statuettes outside.

Coal workers here have a brave history of fighting fascism during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. In the early 1960s, miners in Villablino formed Spain’s first clandestine union, the Confederacion Sindical de Comisiones Obreras (CCOO), which continued the fight against the dictator General Franco.

Spain’s coal industry employed more than 100,000 miners back then. That number had fallen to 45,000 by the late 1980s — nearly half of them in Castilla y León — and it continued to drop. More than 5,000 still worked in the northwest mines of Castilla y León, Asturias, Aragón, and Palencia at the start of this century. Next year, there will be none.

A monument to coal miners in Villablino, Spain.Arthur Neslen / HuffPost

The dying embers of Spain’s coal industry may leave a sad legacy for the miners, but coal needs to be phased out if we are to keep temperature increases below the levels at which we’ll see catastrophic climate change, climate scientists say. Coal emits more carbon dioxide than any other fossil fuel, as well as deadly toxins such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter, which are responsible for more than 20,000 deaths each year in Europe alone.

“The deal is a way forward for many problems that will appear and we are committed to it,” said Mariano Sanz Lubeiro, CCOO’s confederal secretary, from his Madrid office.

This sentiment is echoed by Teresa Ribera, Spain’s minister for the ecological transition. “We have worked hard to restore trust in regions that have suffered a long restructuring process, negotiating and coming up with social protection measures that the unions could accept,” she told HuffPost. “Now we have to deliver. Climate ambition and social protection have to go hand in hand if we want to succeed.”

“The objective we have is that the miners will be offered a [green-collar] job. We will have to register all of them. Instead of one year, it may take one year and three months, but that is very much the plan,”Laura Martin-Murillo, a government negotiator, said.

As well as work in solar or wind energy, she also believes there will be jobs in biomass, making energy from organic matter such as wood pellets or agricultural waste. They are also thinking about labor-intensive work such as retrofitting buildings to be more environmentally friendly.

But miners on eligible contracts will have to live on social benefits until an environmental restoration plan kicks in next autumn, at the earliest. Those who claim the retirement offer will take home around $20,000 a year on average.

This community has been here before. When the last round of closures happened 20 years ago, the miners affected felt it was not a just transition.

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Anxiety is clear in the bleary eyes of Rolando Prieto Perez, 43, an electrician in the century-old La Escondida pit who has just come off a night shift when I meet him in the Villablino CCOO office.

“We’re suffering from depression,” he says wearily. “We have the blues. The situation is unpredictable and our futures look bleak. Sometimes we just feel confused.”

Rolando Prieto Perez, 43, a miner.Arthur Neslen / HuffPost

Prieto Perez is a few years too young to qualify for early retirement, and while the government is registering all miners for new jobs, these could arrive at any time between March 2019 and March 2020: months, if not years, after the mine closures.

Stuck between the beneficiaries of the post-war boom and the clean energy transition, Prieto Perez says he is part of “the unlucky generation.”

Mining is “part of the DNA of this region and its people,” says Sanz Lubeiro, CCOO’s confederal secretary. “That is why its loss has been so traumatic for the community.”

“If the transition is not done right,” he added, “we are preparing the ground for populism which blames climate action or technology or migrant workers,” he says.

There are signs that this may already be beginning in Villablino. “I don’t support this climate change idea,”Prieto Perez says. “I consider this news very manipulated. The government only speaks about global warming, but they want to close the mine for [economic] reasons.”

Omar Garcia Alvarez, a local miners leader, claims that if every miner were guaranteed a job in clean energy, there would be no problem with closing the mines. But “there is no ecological transition,” he says. “We don’t believe in the deal because we don’t trust the government.”

Miners Salvador Osario and Omar Garcia Alvarez look through a window in derelict mine.Arthur Neslen / HuffPost

He notes that the $285 million will have to be split between four regions over 10 years — giving Castilla y León only 6 million euros (or $6.8 million) a year with which to heal its wounds.

Just 39 years old, Garcia Alvarez was forced to quit his pit job last August by spinal injuries caused by his job. He now speaks with a sense of romanticism about the industry and the solidarity it produced.

“All people have a right to defend their jobs,” he says when asked what he thinks about U.S. coal miners, who are facing their own struggle. “I don’t agree with Donald Trump’s politics, but if he supports the miners, it is very good news for them.” Appalachia’s miners are widely thought to have helped Donald Trump win in Kentucky.

Yet Trump’s promises to bring back coal haven’t been fulfilled. “Across the USA you can see the devastation already caused in communities that have lost livelihoods that were dependent on [fossil fuel] corporations who made the decision to exit,” said Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, the world’s largest trade union confederation.

Burrow said Spain’s scheme should be a model for countries such as the U.S. to achieve their own just transition away from fossil fuels. “We need urgent climate ambition to save the planet — and humanity itself,” she said. “But if you don’t negotiate with working people, if plans are not transparent and communities don’t have trust in their futures, then resistance to climate action is absolutely a risk.”

Clean air and a climate-safe future mean little when you can’t put food on the table right now, says Brad Markell, the executive director of the industrial union council of AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the U.S.

“There is no question that people in coal mining regions and around coal-fired generation plants thought that Trump was going to save them. He said he would and they thought it was worth taking a chance on him,” he said.

Markell would not comment on the gamble’s wisdom, despite mounting evidence that miners are now suffering from it. But he questioned whether a deal like Spain’s would translate to the more cutthroat U.S. labor market, where it could involve a 50 percent pay cut on a fossil fuel worker’s hourly rate. Starting pay in the U.S. solar sector can be as low as $15 an hour.

“It would be to everyone’s benefit if the new jobs created in the clean energy sector were high paying — and made available to people losing their jobs — but they won’t be, because in the USA, you’re on your own. That’s how things work here. We have a general deficit of working-class power and until we are able to reclaim that, it will be difficult to achieve economic justice.”

The Spanish government will this month outline how its just transition strategy will be rolled out nationally across all industries, including the car industry.

The issue is also taking center stage at the U.N. climate summit in Katowice which started this week, with Poland trumpeting a just transition for weaning countries off fossil fuels. Critics, however, say the aim is to mask international divisions over emissions-cutting obligations and targets, and divert attention from Poland’s own lack of climate ambition.

In Villablino, Eduardo Gonzalez Menazas, 60, a retired miner turned environmental activist, agrees that a just transition is “fundamental, very necessary, but at the moment too slow.”

He estimates only around 30 percent of his fellow miners believe that global warming is a problem and that saddens him, he said. In his spare time he plants trees around deserted mines. Menazas has noticed that the valley’s climate is already warming, with less snow and bird species such as the capercaillie nesting higher up.

“All people in Spain are responsible for this disaster,” he said.

“The energy transition has to be just because miners also need help from the government,” Gonzalez Menazas said. “In this area, there are no choices for people and that is also a problem. The transition has to be for everyone.”

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Trump wants to ramp up coal. Spain has found a way to quit it.

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How Harvard’s investments exacerbate global land and water conflicts

In late May, an open letter appeared on Medium penned by Kat Taylor, an overseer of Harvard’s investment fund. Taylor was resigning her position in protest because portions of the university’s multi-billion-dollar endowment have gone to “land purchases that may not respect indigenous rights” and “water holdings that threaten the human right to water.”

“We should and would be horrified to find out that Harvard investments are actually funding some of the pernicious activities against which our standout academic leadership rails,” she wrote.

A similar letter appeared in 2014, this time written by an international group of leaders from civil society organizations, like the Croatan Institute and the Global Forest Coalition. “Four decades ago, Harvard was in fact a leader in the movement for more responsible institutional investment,” the coalition wrote. “Today Harvard can no longer claim to play such a role.”

Harvard began investing in farmland in the aftermath of the world food price crisis in 2007, which made agricultural land desirable, and the financial crisis in 2008, which increased the appeal of more tangible assets. In the subsequent decade, the Harvard Management Company, as the school’s investment arm is known, has purchased large swaths of farmland in Brazil, South Africa, Russia, the Ukraine, New Zealand, Australia, and the U.S.

The elite university has quietly become one of the largest owners of farmland in the world, according to a new report by GRAIN, an international nonprofit supporting small farmers, and Brazil-based Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos (Social Network for Justice and Human Rights). The investigation found that Harvard’s estimated 1 billion dollars of investments are often made without due diligence or respect for the people who have lived for generations on the land it acquired.

“This is a really tough document to read about essentially how Harvard has blood on its hands,” says Keisha-Khan Perry, a professor of Africana studies at Brown whose research focuses on black social movements and land rights within the Americas.

The report extensively documents many Harvard-financed land acquisitions that directly led to the devastation of indigenous peoples, the creation of internal refugees, and the destruction of sacred and ecologically important areas. Among numerous examples: Harvard’s investors acquired several South African farms. Post-apartheid land reforms had granted property rights to black workers who once worked the land and their families. After taking over these parcels in 2011, Harvard put in place farm managers who restricted those families’ rights, including for grazing their cattle and accessing family burial sites. The managers also imposed a system of penalties that could result in the expulsion of a family if any of its members disobeyed the restrictions.

Perry notes that the school’s large-scale investments in indigenous land — which she says is part of a broader phenomenon known as “land grabbing” — can contribute to ecological degradation, land conflicts, and even warfare. “It’s almost like investing in gold in Sierra Leone, or oil in Nigeria, or diamonds on South Africa,” she explains.

A Harvard Management Company spokesperson, Patrick McKiernan, pushed back against characterizations like the ones made by Perry and the new report. “Harvard Management Company focuses on environmental, social, and governance matters for all of its investments, to ensure long-term value for both the asset and the communities in which we invest,” he wrote to Grist. “This commitment to responsible investing involves working with relevant constituents, including local authorities, to address any issues that arise during our investment, even if they predate HMC’s involvement.”

Harvard’s most extensive and conflict-ridden land acquisitions have occurred in Brazil. The university acquired nearly 300,000 hectares of land in the Cerrado, the world’s most biodiverse savannah that’s home to 80 different indigenous ethnicities. The area has become a “new frontier,” as the report notes, for soy, sugarcane, and large-scale monoculture commodities — which makes it a safe investment.

The investigation documents what happened in Baixão Fechado, one village that was impacted by these investments. Activities on two farms Harvard acquired have resulted in mass deforestation and the diversion of water used by the local community for agricultural irrigation. “[Residents say] the large amounts of water the farms use for irrigation, have badly affected their access to water which was previously plentiful and of good quality,” the report notes. “The situation has become so bad that the village has had to start bringing in water by trucks.”

Further, pesticides used on the Harvard-owned land have also contributed to health problems, the contamination of fishing grounds, and the destruction of crops, all of which disrupted the local community’s “way of life,” according to Perry.

In the northeastern part of the Cerrado, there’s a widespread practice of falsifying property titles to legitimize the occupation of public lands — a form of land grabbing. As the report explains, the lands are fenced to give the appearance of a farm and the fraudulent titles are then sold to companies often connected to foreign investors. The report notes that Harvard channeled funds through three different business groups in this region and acquired land from a Brazilian businessman well-known for this scheme.

It’s this deliberate or neglectful disregard of the region’s sociopolitical context and history that Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos’ Maria Mendonca, one of the authors of the report, finds highly troubling.

“Any casual look into what’s happening in that part of Brazil should have set off alarm bells,” she explains. “If they just looked into the historical records of these land areas, they would have been able to see that there are existing land conflicts, and they should have stayed away from that.”

There’s a better way to invest in the region, Mendonca says: Harvard and others could promote organic agriculture and invest in the region’s hundreds of small farming communities who have worked the land for generations.

“That’s not what they’re doing,” Mendonca says. “They fence the area, they displace people, and then they pollute the water, the soil, the land.”

Institutions are actually attracted to Brazil in part because of the country’s history of violent land grabs, says Madeleine Fairbairn, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who studies agriculture systems and land rights. That’s because Brazil’s land is concentrated among relatively few owners so institutional investors can acquire large swaths of property with very few transactions, she says

Even so, Fairbairn notes, that’s no excuse for not performing due diligence on investments. “Unfortunately, many investors fail to ask the difficult questions about how the previous owner came to control such a great big expanse of Brazilian savannah in the first place,” she explains. By naming subsidiaries that Harvard Management Company used to acquire farms, as well as tracking where the properties were located, Fairbairn says GRAIN and Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos are “pulling back the veil that shields institutional investors from public scrutiny.”

It’s not only Harvard and other universities that are invested in this farmland. Professors and other employees are passive participants, as well: Their retirement plans are often managed by the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association. The association, as the reports shows, acquired more farmland than any other pension fund. “We cannot continue to say that we do not know where our money is being invested,” says Perry, the professor at Brown, a university that has a $3.5 billion endowment. “At some point, as faculty, as the report urged, we need to figure out how to make a case for divestment.”

In her resignation letter, Kat Taylor — the former overseer of Harvard’s investment fund — says she made that same case for years, but her “soft power approach” failed to move the needle. Left with no other recourse, she felt that resigning publicly was the only card she could play — a last-ditch effort to get Harvard to rid itself of these controversial investments. (The decision was largely a symbolic gesture, given that her six-year term was to conclude the next day.)

“For Harvard to continue to profit from activities that might and likely do accelerate us toward climate disaster, enslave millions to unfair labor practices, or proliferate more and more weapons in society that threaten especially young lives is unconscionable,” she wrote. “I fervently hope that all of you will demand accountable financial transactions on behalf of us all as I have tried to do.”

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How Harvard’s investments exacerbate global land and water conflicts

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Your future home could be in a flood zone — and no one’s required to tell you

Olga McKissic lives in an airy, white-brick home with a pillared porch, the kind where you might sit and watch fireflies late in the night. The only issue is that every few years, the rising waters from a nearby river pour into her Kentucky home, ascending the porch like an uninvited guest. Her home flooded in 1997, 2006, 2013, and 2015.

“That property that we purchased back in 1986, that we thought was such a wonderful, tranquil, lovely place — it’s a nightmare to live here with the thought that it is going to flood again,” says McKissic in a video produced by the Natural Resources Defense Council. She explains that the first time it flooded, she replaced the carpet with tiles. When the water tore up the tiles, she installed linoleum. And when the linoleum failed to survive the next flood, she settled for just painting the concrete.

McKissic is just one of 30,000 homeowners or renters in the United States who live on a severe repetitive loss property, by National Flood Insurance Program standards. In North Carolina, where flooding from Hurricane Florence continues to threaten homes and lives, there are 1,132 such properties. From 1978 to 2018, the National Flood Insurance Program shelled out over $1.2 billion to North Carolina alone to repair and rebuild properties damaged by flooding, which often need to be rebuilt all over again after the next flood.  

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So why do homeowners all over the country invest in flood-prone property in the first place? One issue is that they don’t have enough information to know better. Due to an insubstantial patchwork of flood risk disclosure laws, “many Americans who are about to make one of the biggest financial investments of their lives have zero knowledge of whether a house has flooded and is likely to flood again,” according to research published last month in a joint project between the NRDC and the Sabin Center for Climate Law.

In 21 states, there are no statutory or regulatory requirements for a seller to disclose a property’s flood risks or past flood damages to a potential buyer, according to the research. The other 29 states have varying degrees of disclosure requirements. Kentucky and North Carolina, for instance, have some requirements, but not enough to protect many homeowners. (View an interactive map of your state’s laws here.)

“What Hurricane Florence and other major flooding events have really illustrated over the past few years is that the nation’s flood risk is getting worse,” explains Joel Scata, a climate and water attorney at the NRDC. “That really sets potential home buyers to be in a bad situation where they are buying property where they are not fully informed of the risk.”

The Carolinas’ vague, insubstantial disclosure laws likely helped contribute to the situation they now find themselves in: While millions of homes at risk of flooding, only 335,000 have flood insurance.

“Both North Carolina and South Carolina’s disclosure requirements were rated inadequate in our assessment,” explains Dena Adler, a researcher for the flood risk disclosure project and fellow at the Sabin Center for Climate Law. The research found that there are no requirements in North Carolina for home sellers to disclose previous flood damage to structures on the property or any requirement to carry flood insurance for the property.

In North Carolina, the Real Estate Commission must disclose that a property is located within a federally designated flood zone, which is based on hundred-year floodplains. That’s the land predicted to flood during a 100-year storm — one so severe it has a 1 percent chance of occurring during any given year. But storms have been getting stronger lately. In the last two years, North Carolina has seen two 1,000-year flood events: Hurricane Matthew and now, Hurricane Florence.

For more accurate flood risk maps, FEMA needs to take climate change into account. “Climate change is a loaded dice, because it makes the risk different,” Scata says. “By not looking at the future effects of climate change on flooding, like sea-level rise and bigger rain events contributing to bigger floodplains, you’re not getting the full picture.”

Scata and the NRDC recommend that states participating in the National Flood Insurance Program should explicitly disclose flood risks. Additionally, FEMA should provide homeowners a “right to know” about their property’s past history and create a public, open-data system to share information related to flood damage.

If better laws were in place, they could help mitigate what has become an unsustainable cycle: real estate developers buying up coastal properties, selling them to unknowing buyers, and then forcing them into a cycle of flooding and buyout.

Another solution is a significantly improved and expanded voluntary property buyout program, where FEMA provides funding for the local government to purchase the flood-prone property and convert it to open space. Currently, the National Flood Insurance Program focuses most of its funding on rebuilding homes, many of which are destined to flood again, and there is only a limited pool of money for property buyouts. As a 2017 report from NRDC puts it: “For every $100 FEMA has spent to rebuild properties through the NFIP, a paltry $1.72 has been spent to help move people to higher ground.”

Oh, and one more thing: The future of flood risk is closely related to what we do about climate change. As Scata explains, “Our future greenhouse gas and carbon emissions will dictate the various levels of sea-level rise. So if it’s going to be business as usual, it’s going to be a lot higher risk than if we take action.”

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Your future home could be in a flood zone — and no one’s required to tell you

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5 Time-Tested Ways to Make Your Groceries Last Longer

You spend hours?each week planning out your meals, gathering up reusable bags and hauling groceries from the store to the house.?And then they all go bad on you??That’s just not nice.

Produce is fickle stuff?? it starts fresh, then quickly devolves into a mess of green goo, mold and wilted leaves. What can you do? Fortunately, lots of things! Here are a few of the secrets you need to know.

1) Store leafy greens loose and dry.

The bane of all leafy greens ? arugula, spring lettuce, spinach ??is moisture. If left bunched up, unwashed, in the back of the fridge, they?will wilt.

To keep your greens from spoiling too quickly, first remove any ties or rubber bands, then rinse and dry (fully!) before wrapping loosely in a dry tea towel. Hardier varieties, like curly kale for example, will do best when placed in a cup of water like a bouquet.

2) Store?bulbs and tubers in the dark.

Bulb vegetables like onions and shallots, as well as tubers like sweet potatoes and golden potatoes, should be stored in as cellar-like an environment as possible.

Cool, dark, dry, with a bit of air circulation. That’s ideal. Placing them on the counter or?? please no?? in the fridge is a recipe for greening or growing eyes. Yuck!

3) Store?fleshy fruit vegetables in the crisper.

Fruit vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers (basically, all the good stuff) have a tendency to soften and mold due to their high moisture content.

Again, moisture is a serious no-no. Lay down a tea towel in the bottom of your fridge’s vegetable crisper, then wash and dry fully everything that will be placed there. Set up reminders to eat these! They’ll last longer when kept well, but longevity isn’t their strength to begin with.

4) Store?soft fruit in a paper bag on the counter.

Stone fruit?? think apricots, avocados, peaches?? come with the summer and go just as fast. Mold comes quickly, so you have to be vigilant and eat these at their prime.?

First, get them to?just ripe on the counter top (speed up the process by placing them in a paper bag) and then pop these beauties into the fridge when at their peak.

5) Store?melons uncut and out of sight.

Melons may be stored as-is on the counter, but you’ll want to keep them far away from direct sunlight. Cantaloupe and honeydew in particular are prone to sogginess, so follow the rules if you want to keep them fresh for long.

Once ripe, slice and store in a reusable container with a dry towel. This will help sop up any excess moisture and prevent ripe melon slices from becoming soft and unappetizing.

What creative tricks do you have up your sleeve for keeping produce fresh? Let us know!

Related Stories:

The Dos and Don’ts of Washing Your Produce
2018′s Dirtiest Produce Award Goes To…
4 Surprising Reasons to Eat Ugly Fruit

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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5 Time-Tested Ways to Make Your Groceries Last Longer

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8 Eco Products That Make Dish Duty Look Dreamy

For most of us, doing the dishes is pretty far down the list of tolerable chores. It’s such a slog ? and?something you need to keep up with every day, week by week, till the end of time. A good time? I think not.

Lucky for us, there are a lot of brands out there who are working hard creating clever products that make dish duty a lot more fun. Here are some of my favorites!

This Dish Soap

Not all dish soaps are created equal. Lots of them contain numerous chemicals, including foaming agents like sodium laureth sulfate, carcinogenic antibacterial agents and synthetic fragrances. Fortunately, there are a number of delicious, non-toxic variations out there: a favorite is this?safe and effective formula?by Eco-Me.

This Swedish?Dishcloth

You may have seen these cute little?dishcloths?slowly popping up in boutiques and specialty kitchen stores in recent years. Made from earth-friendly cellulose, cotton fibers and water-based inks, these reusable sponge cloths last about a year and compost at the end of their life. Cool right!? To clean, simply toss in the washing machine or microwave when damp to kill bacteria.

These?Bar Mops

These hand towels do what you wish every paper towel could. Made from 100% cotton, these lightweight,?absorbent towels are durable and efficient, plus they dry quickly so you won’t have to worry about mildew. Once you’re done with the task at hand, send them to the laundry. The earth will thank you!

These Copper Pot Scrubbers

Who knew a pot scrubber could be so elegant??These scrubbers are made from copper threads, so they’re tough enough to remove even the most stubborn food residue, but gentle enough to keep from scratching your beautiful cookware. And, bonus: they can be recycled at the end of their useful life.

These?Dish Towels

Renewable hemp woven in a honeycomb pattern makes this beautiful dish towel both strong and beautiful.?Because hemp is especially durable, you can expect these eco-conscious towels to last for years to come.

This Wooden Dish Brush

B?rstenhaus Redecker has been handcrafting brushes in Germany for over 75 years, and their commitment to high quality craftsmanship certainly shows! Use this brush to clean everything from coffee mugs to pots and pans. The hard bristles will hold up to just about anything.

These?Vintage?Trays

Vintage?knick knacks always come in handy. A quick Etsy search of vintage dish trays yields a vast selection of darling secondhand trays eager to prove their worth at your kitchen sink. This one is a?personal favorite (it will match your Swedish dishcloths)?? this one too!

This Bamboo Drying Rack

Perfect for all those hand wash-only items or kitchens without the luxury of a dishwasher, this bamboo dish rack is an attractive addition to the countertop. This particular one is made from eco-friendly bamboo and has two individual racks for large plates and glassware. Plus, it folds up neatly for easy storage!

Related Stories:

3 Ways Becoming a Minimalist Will Improve Your Life
Minimalism is a Debt-Demolishing Lifestyle (Here’s Why)
How to Lead a Nearly Zero-Waste Life

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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8 Eco Products That Make Dish Duty Look Dreamy

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50 Easy Ways to Conserve Water

Whether your city is facing a drought or not, you can always think a little greener in the choices you make at home?and at work, especially when it comes to conserving water. It’s not an infinite resource, and those who have it in abundance tend to use it recklessly.

There are lots of creative ways to reduce your water usage and get it closer to the World Health Organization recommended 5 gallons per day, rather than the American average: 100 gallons. Here are 50 ideas to get you started.

  1. Only order water in a restaurant if you plan to drink it.
  2. Collect unused?shower water in a bucket.
  3. Use dirty?bathwater to water plants or flush the toilet.
  4. Use a broom, not a hose, to clean your sidewalk.
  5. If your shower fills a 1-gallon bucket in less than 20 seconds,?upgrade the head.
  6. Upgrade from water-cooled to air-cooled appliances.
  7. Compost vegetable scraps, rather than using the disposal.
  8. Decline automatic refills of water in restaurants.
  9. Pot plants in the fall when conditions are cooler and rainfall is plentiful.
  10. Like your water cold? Keep a pitcher in the fridge, rather than running the tap.
  11. Monitor your water bill. Spikes will alert you to leaks in the house.
  12. Unless your dishwasher requires it, don’t pre-rinse dishes.
  13. Cover your pool so water doesn’t evaporate needlessly.
  14. Soak pots and pans, rather than letting the water run.
  15. Reuse the water your dehumidifier collects.
  16. Don’t water your lawn on windy days.
  17. Locate your house’s master water shutoff valve in the case of flooding.
  18. Water your lawn when temperatures are cooler. Morning or evening is best!
  19. Wash fruit and veggies in a bowl of water, rather than in running water.
  20. Use this dirty water?to nurture?your houseplants!
  21. Check outdoor faucets, sprinklers and hoses for leaks.
  22. Purchase new appliances that offer cycle and load size adjustments.
  23. Shorten your shower by a minute.
  24. Shorten your shower by two minutes.
  25. Install a rain sensor on your irrigation controller.
  26. Know the water footprint of your food.
  27. Insulate hot water pipes.
  28. Decline unnecessary laundering in hotels.
  29. Cut your grass a little higher. A taller lawn shades roots and holds soil moisture.
  30. Cleaning out your fish tank? Give the?extra, nutrient-rich water to your plants.
  31. Apply organic mulch to plants. It retains moisture and saves water.
  32. Don’t let the water run while brushing your teeth.
  33. Fix leaks as soon as you discover them.
  34. Plug the tub the moment you start running water for a bath, then adjust.
  35. Only run full loads of laundry. This can save?up to 1,000 gallons per month!
  36. Load your dishwasher the right way.
  37. Save your drinking glass and use it throughout the day.
  38. Water small patches of greenery by hand, not with a hose.
  39. Check for soil moisture two inches below the surface before watering.
  40. Encourage your office to promote water conservation.
  41. Don’t flush the toilet unnecessarily.
  42. Wash dark clothes in cold water.
  43. Aerate your lawn at least once per year.
  44. Collect water from your roof in a rain barrel, then apply to the lawn.
  45. Wash your pets outdoors in areas of the lawn that need to be watered.
  46. Reuse your towels and washcloths when you stay in hotels.
  47. Turn the faucet off while you lather your hands with soap.
  48. Don’t flush things (like tissues) that can simply be thrown away.
  49. Post notes with reminders to save water around the house.
  50. Share these tips with your friends and neighbors!

You may have heard some of these tips before, but they certainly bear repeating. Others are a fresh take on applying dirty water to new uses, or taking the stingy route when it’s easier to take the convenient one. Remember: every little bit helps!

Related Stories:

11 Things You Should Never Flush Down the Toilet
10 Uses for Rainwater
10 Ways to Start Living Zero Waste

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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50 Easy Ways to Conserve Water

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30 Ways to Keep Celebrating Earth Day (Even After It’s Over!)

On?April 22, 1970, close to?50 years ago, millions of people?took to the streets to protest the effects?of industrial development on quality of life. At the time, smog, decline in biodiversity and the pollution of everything from air to drinking water were of utmost concern, in part due to frequent, unregulated use of heavy pesticides and other pollutants.

In response,?President Nixon and the United States Congress created the?Environmental Protection Agency and, subsequently, passed the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act ? two efforts that have?been instrumental in managing the human impacts of industrialized living.

Whether these policies will hold up is a different story. Today, the Trump Administration is still working on pulling the United States out of the landmark Paris climate agreement, while simultaneously rolling back a number of additional efforts such as the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.?Does the idea of this get you heated? Here are 30 ways you can personally keep the spirit of Earth Day?alive, even after April has?passed!

30 Ways to Keep Celebrating Earth Day

1. Plant a tree.

2. Commit to shopping secondhand as much as possible.

3. Set up your recycling so it’s easy to use.

4. Start commuting by bike.

5. Go meat free.

6. Run a charity 5K.

7. Save scrap materials and create something new.

8. Go for a hike nearby.

9. Purchase a?credit through a carbon offset program.

10. Build a birdhouse.

11. Recycle electronic waste (it’s the fastest growing waste stream in the world).

12. Host a clothes swap.

13. Set up a barrel for rainwater collection.

14.?Don’t drive if you can reasonably walk there instead.

15.?Install a low-flow shower head.

16.?Fix broken things instead of tossing. Not skilled? Call in experts from Taskrabbit.

17. Get something growing ? preferably perennials.

18.?Volunteer your time with an eco club or state park.

19. Participate in a collaborative sharing service like yerdle, B-Cycle or Airbnb.

20.?Watch this video.

21. Take some pressure off the grid and go?solar.

22. Build a vermicomposter like this one.

23. Plan a picnic.

24. Break your plastic bag habit and start using reusable totes (for real this time).

25. Create beneficial spaces for local wildlife.

26. Organize a small trash clean-up with friends.

27. Watch a documentary that interests you.

28. Plant one thing that can be eaten by your family. Herb garden anyone?

29. Turn off the lights and eat by candlelight instead.

30. Make a family pact to go greener!

Did you celebrate Earth Day back in 1970? What was it like??If not, how do you personally advocate for the planet?

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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30 Ways to Keep Celebrating Earth Day (Even After It’s Over!)

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America’s fastest-growing urban area is stuck between a rock and a dry place

This story was originally published by CityLab and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

When Latter-day Saint migrants arrived in Utah in 1847, a verse in Isaiah served as consolation to them in the desiccated landscape: “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.”

Lately, the desert has blossomed nowhere more than the St. George area, in the state’s southern reaches. The city is a picturesque outpost, with red-rock desert framing bright green lawns and golf courses, all built around the stark white Mormon temple in the center of town.

Brigham Young’s adherents came here to grow crops, primarily cotton — hence its reputation as Utah’s Dixie. Today, that ceaseless sunshine is luring so many tourists, retirees, and students that St. George has become the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the country. According to Census Bureau data released in March, the metro, home to 165,000 people, grew 4 percent between 2016 and 2017.

“Six million people visit the area every year. As people visit here, some of them decide to stay,” St. George Mayor Jon Pike said. The area remains a retirement community, “but we also have 33,000 students K through 12, and we have a fast-growing university [Dixie State University].” Healthcare is a booming industry, and, like many growing cities, St. George has a section of town earmarked for tech companies. Mixed-use developments are popping up downtown. The growth likely won’t slow any time soon: State demographers believe the area will surpass 500,000 residents by 2065.

As is the case with other growing desert burgs, St. George grapples with water-supply issues. But the challenge here is unique. Remarkably cheap rates mean that residents of an area with only eight inches of annual rainfall are using tremendous amounts of water. An average St. George resident uses more than twice as much water as the average citizen of Los Angeles.

Political leaders at the state and local level view this primarily as a supply issue. Their preferred solution is a gargantuan $1.4 billion pipeline that would connect the region with Lake Powell, a reservoir along the Colorado River. With the aid of pumping stations, the pipeline would shuttle water over 140 miles and 2,000 feet of elevation gain. The goal is to store 86,000 acre-feet a year in nearby reservoirs and aquifers — more than enough, officials say, to meet the demand of the growing population and decrease reliance on the dwindling Virgin River, currently Washington County’s primary water source.

“We certainly are committed to conservation, but we don’t think that gets you there alone, especially with the organic growth and the tremendous in-migration that’s occurring in the Southwest,” said Ronald Thompson, general manager of the Washington County Water Conservancy District, the wholesaler that supplies water to St. George and other cities in the county.

In 2006, the state legislature passed a bill to fund the Lake Powell project, but construction has been delayed since then by stop-and-go planning (at this point, pipeline approval is on hold due to uncertainty about which federal agency has jurisdiction over the project).

Multiple state and regional environmental groups say the pipeline is far too aggressive, and that basic conservation measures can meet the region’s water demand. Amelia Nuding, senior water analyst for Western Resource Advocates, believes regional leaders should focus on three strategies to achieve quick conservation success: better data collection, higher water rates, and building codes that require water-smart construction and landscaping. Not only would that meet St. George’s water needs, according to Nuding’s group, but it would avoid further depleting an already burdened Colorado River.

Utah typically uses less than its allotted share of Colorado River water, which is divvied up among Western states, but climate change and growing populations are taxing relations among the river’s interstate constituents. “Yes, [Utah residents] are legally entitled to that water from the Colorado River,” Nuding said. “But … I think that we should meet certain metrics of water stewardship before further depleting the Colorado River.”

Leaders have, for the most part, ignored environmentalists’ suggestions. Water-use data in Utah is scant; until recently, statewide water surveys took place only every five years. In 2010 — the latest state data available — the St. George region’s per-capita consumption was 325 gallons per day. More current numbers from the city suggest conservation; St. George proper uses 250 gallons per person per day. Nonetheless, it’s still consuming more water than other Southwest cities. Las Vegas takes about 220 gallons per person each day; Tucson, considered a regional leader, uses 120.

Water rates here don’t punish heavy use. A St. George household that goes through 16,000 gallons a month would see a $47 water bill; equivalent usage would cost a Tucson household $184. Washington County Water Conservancy District is in the process of raising rates 5 to 10 percent each year until baseline rates are tripled, but even then, they would be a bargain compared to some cities.

Utah’s water-delivery systems are largely gravity-fed, thus keeping costs down, and most homeowners have access to unmetered non-potable water for landscaping and irrigation. This, plus state oversight of water rates, keeps the rates low — and consumption high.

Any major reduction in consumption here will require a cultural shift. St. George is marketed as a desert oasis. Nine golf courses are located in the region, and it remains an agricultural stronghold. Local municipalities offer basic water-conservation rebates — St. George, for instance, helps cover the cost of replacing high-flow toilets — but nothing at the level of cities that, for instance, pay residents to replace sod with desert-appropriate landscaping.

Mayor Pike heralded developers who are voluntarily choosing water-smart appliances and landscaping, and cited the planned Desert Color community as an example. But that project’s water-wise cred has been questioned: Its centerpiece is an 18-acre artificial pond.

That said, St. George’s growth could inherently promote efficiencies. Apartment and townhouse construction is finally catching up with demand, which will keep some new residents from the sprawling single-family homes and yards that guzzle so much water. A good deal of new construction will take place on agricultural land where water is already allocated.

But per-person efficiency doesn’t mean less water use overall. Every St. George resident could cut her water use in half, but if the population more than doubles, the city is still using more water. Such is the conundrum of desert growth. “We’d be wise to diversify our sources,” Pike said. “If the Powell pipeline isn’t built, that would change things. … It would slow growth.”

Constructing the pipeline, oddly enough, might trigger cost increases that could curtail water use. While the state would cover the pipeline’s initial costs, locals are on the hook in the long run. In a letter to Utah’s governor, economists at state universities said that water rates would have to jump sixfold for the region to meet its repayment obligations. “Of course, increasing water rates this much would significantly decrease Washington County residents’ demand for water,” the economists wrote. “In our analysis, demand decreased so much that the [Lake Powell pipeline] water would go unused.”

If rates are going up anyway, conservation advocates think the pipeline talk is occurring too soon. “Why don’t they just try [raising rates] now, and see how much demand changes?” Nuding said. “From a water-management perspective, that makes all the sense in the world.”

In this blossoming desert city, leaders have a choice: Do they let the roses go brown, or pay exorbitantly to keep them?

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America’s fastest-growing urban area is stuck between a rock and a dry place

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