Ariel McKee

Algae Threatens Manatees

Manatees_swimming

Despite being lovingly referred to as the “sea cow”, manatees are aquatic relatives of elephants. Like them, manatees are herbivores, subsisting primarily on marine and freshwater plants. One of the ways in which they contribute to the balance of their ecosystem is by cutting and spreading the seeds of sea-grasses to promote optimal growth, much like birds and squirrels cultivate plants through seed distribution on land. Along with vast portions of sea-grass, manatees eat seaweeds. Specifically,  algae – and lots of it. This is fine when ingesting the green, stringy algae commonly found on the surface of pond water. However,… read more

The Hidden Cost of Packaging

Hidden Cost of Packaging

The cost of packaging goes beyond the environmental and economic waste it creates at the end of its useful life. All current packaging materials – whether virgin, recycled, degradable, or synthetic – will create a debt beyond current efforts of environmental management. Tracing back to the origins of materials we splinter off into several directions. Bio-plastics made from corn and other natural resources begin, to an extent, on a plot of industrial farmland, where maximized productivity is a key focus. Crops grown for use in plastics are treated with pesticides, which are harmful to humans and creatures alike. They also… read more

Composting – Better Than Rotting in Landfill

Clever Composting

You don’t need a farm to benefit from composting. You needn’t even a proper garden. Though composting is invaluable to both of these, providing soil amendment and enrichment, it has many beneficial attributes elsewhere. Beginning with its immediate surroundings, composting catches up to 99.5 percent of volatile organic chemicals, or VOCs, that may be present on the land. VOCs include heating fuels, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and even explosives. These can come from contaminated soil, for which compost acts as a remedy. Composting is a key component for fighting erosion as well as silting, protecting banks that run along lakes, creeks, and… read more

Your Pool is a Major Air Polluter

Backyard Pool Pollution

An aerial view of the suburbs in a warm climate often displays a homogenous cluster of houses, spiraling outwards along the street. Behind each house, a fenced, green patch contains a sparkling pool in a kidney-bean shape – or perhaps round or rectangular. These toxic puddles are more than Kool-aid blue splashes on an otherwise bare landscape. They are generators of air pollution. Especially in large concentrations. Staying out of artificial swimming pools doesn’t keep you free from exposure to the toxins contained within. Whether they are actually used, the congregation of chemically treated pools elevate the pollution levels throughout… read more

Corn: A Kernel Of Destruction

Corn Kernels

Corn has become an inescapable additive to both edible and non-edible products. Every day, we are bombarded with corn derived products. Sodas laden with corn-syrup, ketchup, tortillas, ice cream, candy – foods far from resembling the light golden kernels of freshly husked corn – are a constant source of corn and its most prevalent by-product, corn-syrup. The use of which has increased diabetes and obesity rates. In addition, the majority of corn grown in the U.S. goes to feed livestock. But it doesn’t end with our diets. The excess of corn brought on by overproduction leaves the USDA scrambling for other avenues… read more

Building with Bottles

Building with Bottles

In the 1960s, Heineken beer introduced a new bottle design that would allow the neck of one bottle to interlock with the bottom of another, making use of a recessed cavity at the bottom. This clever design enabled the bottle to be recycled and converted into a brick. The bottle became known as the WOBO, short for “The World Bottle”. The idea came from Alfred Heineken himself, and was a response to the shock of seeing the litter created by his own products, as during a vacation on the island of Curaçao, empty Heineken bottles washed ashore. To enable the… read more

Our Lost Purpose

Our Lost Purpose

Many of us have forgotten our destined role in the world, our final and most important contribution to the earth: ourselves. But despite our self-declared superiority, we humans are an integral part of the ecosystem and provide the earth and other living beings nutrients as we pass and eventually disintegrate into the ground, completing a necessary cycle that is imposed on every living species. At least, that is how it is supposed to happen. Our culture has turned death into a business and what seems an attempt at preservation or the encasing of the body in dignity has lead to… read more

Rethinking Wind Power

Rethinking Wind Power

The Invelox is an innovative wind energy source, envisioned by Dr. Daryoush Allaei, CEO of the SheerWind company, which may solve the dilemmas faced by traditional wind turbines, including noise nuisance and inconsistent levels of energy output. The Invelox is funnel-like in both appearance and function. Using the Invelox, outside winds are captured and funneled to create a natural increase in the wind’s speed so it can be converted into energy. Winds as low as 2 mph are captured by intake tunnels and travel through a sharp, 90-degree angle turn. At this point, the wind reaches speeds of up to… read more

Buy A Share of Your Local Produce

Community Supported Agriculture

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a program that connects citizens with local farmers. Unlike a farmer’s market, where you simply purchase local produce, CSA enables you to buy a “share” from local producers. Shares usually consist of a portion of the season’s produce. In this scenario members receive a weekly shipment of fresh, local produce to their front doors. The produce arrives, minimally packaged, in a reusable container. Often, this means a wooden or cardboard box, though bags and baskets are also used. Each package is filled with a vibrant assortment of fruits and vegetables, with enough to provide two… read more

The Change in Farming Practices

Sustainable agriculture

For thousands of years, human civilizations have flourished without causing damage to the earth, co-existing alongside other species without disrupting fellow eco-systems. Despite their name, early hunter-gatherer tribes subsisted predominately on gathering. The exceptions to this were the tribes, like those in modern-day Alaska, who survived primarily by fishing. Though it is easy to picture these tribes collecting an abundance of fish, this was not the case. Not only did they limit their harvests, ensuring they took only what was needed, but they would have been encumbered by the weight of large harvests, preventing efficient travel. Because of this, resources… read more