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Friday Finds: Colleges Pull All-Nighter On Bottle Ban

College students crush plastic water bottles, industry wines
As banning bottled water becomes the cause du jour amongst college students, the bottled water industry is crying over spilled water, reports NPR. Everywhere from San Francisco to national parks like the Grand Canyon, cities and community members are considering banning plastic water bottles, which contribute to landfill waste, are rarely recycled, and whose purity is suspect. And now college campuses are jumping onto the bottled-water-banning bandwagon, with more than 20 schools signing on to complete or partial bans on plastic bottles brimming with H20. That has the International Bottled Water Association, an industry trade group, upset about “misinformation" and what it deems a war on freedom of choice. It even released a video to show college kids how silly they are for spending time on environmental issues like banning bottled water. Check it out: 


Strawberry pesticide is a no-go in Monterey County

Strawberry lovers are one step closer to getting toxic pesticides out of their smoothies and shortcakes now that California’s Monterey County has passed a resolution to urge California Governor Jerry Brown to re-examine methyl iodide's approval, reports Grist. Methyl iodide, a toxic fumigant that’s registered for use on strawberries, tomatoes and peppers, is touted by the biotech industry as an eco-friendly alternative to methyl bromide, which depletes the ozone. However, lacking ozone-depleting properties is where methyl iodide's eco-friendliness ends as the chemical has been shown to cause cancer and pollute groundwater. Though California Governor Jerry Brown is still mulling over a decision to overturn the approval of using methyl iodide in California—an approval that Earthjustice is currently fighting in court—the decision by one of the biggest and biotech friendliest ag counties in California to pass on the toxic chemical is one more nail in the coffin for the toxic pesticide. 

Pig waste explosion hits the fan
Considering that pigs eat about eight pounds of feed per day, it’s no big surprise that the wiggly pink porkers create a lot of waste. But that waste, mixed with bacteria, antibiotics and other random items like broken insecticide bottles and even stillborn pigs, can turn into an explosive manure foam, reports Mother Jones. Though explosions are pretty rare, the foam itself is becoming all too common on U.S. farms. One possible cause is from feeding pigs distillers grain—basically the leftover stew that comes from turning corn into ethanol that can contain industrial residues and toxic molds. The link to distillers mash remains inconclusive, but in the meantime farmers can solve their exploding poop problem by treating hog waste pools with Rumensin, a chemical brought that in itself is pretty toxic. Talk about fighting a toxic problem with, well, more toxins.

Military fights back against energy waste at Guantanamo
The Navy plans to cut its dependence on fossil fuels in half by 2020, and it’s starting with one of its most infamous bases, the interrogation facility known as Guantanamo, reports the HeraldNet. Currently, the base uses about $100,000 worth of fossil fuels per day, an extravagant sum that’s mainly due to the need to ship or fly necessary resources like diesel fuel to the base. So far, eco-minded military men have successfully green-lighted a 1200-panel solar array on the base that will provide 430,000 kilowatts a year. In addition, a group of Navy police now ride bikes rather than use cars to patrol the base, cutting down on gas consumption. The base is also considering growing biofuels “inside a floating field of waste-water discharged into Guantanamo Bay.” Though many of the measures, like mock utility bills that are “meant to shock sailors and their families into conserving by estimating base household power costs,” are largely symbolic, the energy efficiency savings is a good start in cutting the costs of the world’s most expensive prison.

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unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.