Made from fungi, this vegan leather can self-heal holes or rips

Jude Coleman,, August 30, 2023

Leather fabrics can be pricey — so a rip in a favorite jacket or purse might be upsetting. But what if torn leather could repair itself? That can’t happen today. But it might one day — if that jacket is fashioned from a specially prepared fungus.

Scientists shared their recipe for this novel leather in the April 11 issue of Advanced Functional Materials.

Most leather comes from animal hides. But researchers in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, have just fashioned theirs from mycelium (My-SEE-lee-um). It’s the interwoven, thready rootlike structures — hyphae (HI-fee) — made by mushrooms. Normally, these strands spread underground, below a mushroom. There, they absorb nutrients from the dead things the fungus digests, such as logs.

Fungal leather is hardly new. Some companies already use fungi to make leather purses and car seats. These help to satisfy a market for goods made without animal products. But those vegan leathers have always been made in a way that stops the fungus from ever growing again.

The Newcastle team thought it could help those mushroom “roots” retain their ability to regrow by tweaking how they made the leather. And it worked.

It takes a gentle approach

Other producers of fungal leather have kept their methods a secret. The Newcastle team is not doing that. In fact, it has offered a how-to guide for copying its innovation, notes Valeria La Saponara. She’s a mechanical and aerospace engineer at the University of California, Davis. Those instructions, she says, could inspire other scientists who want to make mushroom materials.

To access the full article, click here. 

Gen Z activists just won a first-of-its-kind trial against the state of Montana for violating their right to a clean environment

Matthew Brown, Amy Beth Hanson, and the Associated Press,, August 15 2023

Young environmental activists scored what experts described as a ground-breaking legal victory Monday when a Montana judge said state agencies were violating their constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment by allowing fossil fuel development.

The ruling in this first-of-its- kind trial in the U.S. adds to a small number of legal decisions around the world that have established a government duty to protect citizens from climate change.

If it stands, the ruling could set an important legal precedent, though experts said the immediate impacts are limited and state officials pledged to seek to overturn the decision on appeal.

District Court Judge Kathy Seeley found the policy the state uses in evaluating requests for fossil fuel permits — which does not allow agencies to look at greenhouse gas emissions — is unconstitutional.

It marks the first time a U.S. court has ruled against a government for violating a constitutional right based on climate change, said Harvard Law School Professor Richard Lazarus.

“To be sure, it is a state court not a federal court and the ruling is based on a state constitution and not the U.S. Constitution, but it is still clearly a major, pathbreaking win for climate plaintiffs,” Lazarus wrote in an email.

The judge rejected the state’s argument that Montana’s emissions are insignificant, saying they were “a substantial factor” in climate change. Montana is a major producer of coal burned for electricity and has large oil and gas reserves.

To access the full article, click here. 

Back to school green-living tips for parents and students

The back-to-school season is an exciting time for both parents and students. It’s a perfect opportunity to instill sustainable green-living habits that can benefit the environment.

By adopting eco-friendly practices, we can reduce waste, conserve resources, and make a positive impact on the planet. Let’s get started. 

Choose Eco-Friendly School Supplies: 

When shopping for school supplies, opt for environmentally friendly options. Look for products made from recycled or sustainable materials, such as notebooks, pens, and folders. Encourage your child to reuse items from the previous year if they are still in good condition. Additionally, consider purchasing second-hand textbooks or digital versions to reduce paper waste. 

Pack Sustainable Lunches: 

Packing a waste-free lunch is an excellent way to reduce single-use plastics and promote healthier eating habits. Try reusable containers, reusable food wrap and stainless-steel water bottles instead of disposable options. Choose fresh, locally sourced, and organic foods when possible to reduce the carbon footprint associated with transportation, and herbicide and pesticide use. Plus, you’ll be supporting local farmers.   

Encourage Sustainable Transportation: 

Promote sustainable transportation options to get to and from school. If feasible, encourage walking, cycling, or using public transportation instead of relying on private vehicles. Carpooling with other families is another great way to reduce emissions and build a sense of community. By choosing sustainable transportation methods, we can reduce traffic congestion and air pollution.   

Embrace Second-Hand Shopping: 

When it comes to back-to-school clothing, consider exploring second-hand stores or online platforms. Thrift shopping not only saves money but also reduces the demand for new clothing production, which has a significant environmental impact. Encourage your child to donate or sell their gently used clothes to extend their lifecycle and support a circular economy. 

Reduce Paper Waste: 

Incorporate digital solutions into your child’s learning routine to minimize paper waste. Encourage them to take notes on their devices or use online platforms for assignments and submissions. Additionally, set up digital communication channels with teachers and schools to receive updates, newsletters, and permission slips electronically, reducing the need for paper-based communication.  

Promote Recycling and Prevent E-Waste: 

Educate your child about the importance of recycling and waste management. Teach them to sort their waste into recyclables, compostables, and general waste. Not sure what to do with outdated or broken cell phones, laptops, or tablets after replacing them with new tech for the year? Use ReturnCenter to conveniently recycle devices you no longer use and prevent e-waste. Get started on your return here. 

 Implement Energy-Saving Practices: 

Teach your child about the importance of conserving energy at school and at home. Encourage them to turn off lights, computers, and other electronic devices when not in use. Consider investing in energy-efficient LED bulbs and power strips that can be easily switched off to prevent standby power consumption. 


Making sustainable choices during the back-to-school season is a powerful way to create a greener future for our children and the planet. By implementing these sustainable tips, parents and students of any age can reduce waste, conserve resources, and make a positive impact on the environment. Let’s work together to instill eco-conscious habits that will shape a brighter and more sustainable world for generations to come. 

Transform your living space with sustainable home hacks

Are you ready to transform your living space into a sustainable sanctuary? Today, we’re diving into some simple yet impactful sustainable home hacks that will not only reduce your carbon footprint but also create a healthier living environment. So, grab your reusable water bottle and let’s get started.

Embrace Natural Cleaning:

Cleaning our homes is essential, but it doesn’t have to come at the expense of the environment. Swap out harsh chemical cleaners for natural alternatives like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice. These eco-friendly options are just as effective and won’t harm your family or the planet. Plus, they’re budget-friendly.

Go Plastic-Free in the Kitchen:

Bid goodbye to single-use plastics in your kitchen! Invest in reusable alternatives such as glass containers, stainless steel straws, and beeswax wraps. These small changes can significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste generated in your home. Remember, every little step counts.

Energy-Efficient Lighting:

Did you know that lighting accounts for a significant portion of your home’s energy consumption? Make the switch to energy-efficient LED bulbs to save both energy and money. They last longer and use up to 80% less electricity than traditional incandescent bulbs. It’s a win-win.

Responsible Electronics Disposal:

When it’s time to upgrade your cell phone, laptop, or tablet, don’t let them gather dust in a drawer, use ReturnCenter. We make it quick and easy to responsibly dispose of used devices. Prevent hazardous materials from ending up in landfills, support charities, and declutter your home. Get started.

Opt for Thrifted Treasures:

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, right? Instead of buying brand-new furniture and decor, explore thrift stores and online marketplaces for unique finds. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also give pre-loved items a new lease on life, reducing the demand for new production.

Composting Made Easy:

Turn your kitchen scraps into nutrient-rich soil by starting a composting system. Whether you have a small backyard or live in an apartment, there are options available to fit your space. Composting reduces waste sent to landfills and provides you with free, organic fertilizer for your plants. It’s a win-win for your garden and the Earth.

Sustainable Laundry Practices:

Upgrade your laundry routine by using cold water whenever possible. Most of the energy used by washing machines goes towards heating the water, so opting for cold cycles can significantly reduce energy consumption. Additionally, consider air-drying your clothes instead of relying solely on the dryer. It’s gentler on your garments and saves energy.

There you have it —our top sustainable home hacks to make a positive impact on the environment. Remember, sustainable living is a journey, and every step you take counts. By implementing these simple changes, you’re not only creating a better future for your family but also setting an example for others to follow. Together, we can make a difference, one eco-friendly hack at a time!

How a fleet of smart technology recycling trucks could help minimize waste, May 2023

Recycling collection is going high-tech with a smart system of innovative trucks, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) that is focused on increasing the amount of recovered materials and cutting contamination by analyzing where the process begins – your curbside.

WM, North America’s largest recycler of post-consumer materials, has equipped thousands of its recycling collection trucks across the US and Canada with Smart TruckSM technology, creating what are essentially rolling data centers that service neighborhoods and gain critical insight to identify recycling challenges and boost efficiency.

According to the most updated statistics from the US Environmental Protection Agency, more than 69 million tons of materials were recycled in 2018, and experts say increasing consumer understanding of how and what to recycle could provide an added boost. The Recycling Partnership, a non-governmental organization that is committed to advancing a circular economy by building a better recycling system, found that when shown real-world packaging, 70% of survey respondents admit to being confused about how to recycle correctly.

“It comes down to clarity,” said Brent Bell, vice president of recycling, WM. “With regulations and standards varying from community to community, it can be difficult to determine what can and cannot go in the recycling bins. At WM, we are using technology to help remove the guesswork and educate our customers, so more materials can be captured and used again.”

Here’s how Smart TruckSM works: When WM trucks collect recyclables from customer bins, cameras and sensors scan the materials and capture real-time video of the contents. The images are sent to a centralized automated system where AI quickly identifies common service challenges like overfilled containers, bins not placed out for service, and recycling contamination — where food waste or other non-recyclable materials are included in the bins.

To access the full article, click here. 

Envision Racing previews world’s first Formula E car made entirely out of electronic waste, James Devonshire, July, 28. 2023

Annual e-waste production is on track to reach a staggering 75 million tonnes by 2030, with the UK generating the 2nd largest amount of e-waste as a country in 2022. Items thrown away include disposable vapes, mobile phones, laptops, MP3 players, plug and batteries themselves. The growing phenomenon of single-use vapes means 1.3 million of them are thrown away every week in the UK.

To highlight this urgent issue, Envision Racing partnered with British artist and designer Liam Hopkins to design and build the car entirely of donated electronic products by the UK tech business, Music Magpie and school children. Through this campaign, the team wants to increase awareness of the human impact of e-waste and the need to reuse and recycle old electrical products.

Hopkins said, “Unfortunately, today we choose to discard and replace electronics instead of repairing and recycling them leading to a global e-waste crisis. Through design and creativity, we want to show the issue of e-waste and its potential to accelerate the creation of a circular economy”.

The car was unveiled at London’s Excel, on the eve of the London e-prix – the final race of the 2022/23 Formula E season. In addition to being the all-time leading points scorer in Formula E, Envision Racing also has a leadership position for sustainability. Its pioneering Race Against Climate Change™ programme aims to inspire and empower fans and the wider public to take climate action. Through Formula E’s platform, Envision Racing exists to make electric mobility and renewable energy a global reality.

To access the full article, click here. 

Natural history museum exhibit puts cellphone recycling education on display, Gage Edwards, June 29, 2023

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History is packed full of interesting exhibits detailing subjects like evolution and geology. Now cellphones, their endless connectivity, and their environmental impact are on full display.

Last week, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History opened their latest exhibit, Cellphones: Unseen Connections. The exhibit takes on the role of educating museumgoers on the history of our handheld devices, the materials that go into cellphones, and what the final stages of our phone’s lives have on our environment.

Cellphones are the fastest growing technology in human existence. With new innovations being developed constantly, consumers are upgrading and disposing of their devices at an alarming rate. Most people don’t know what to do with their phones once they’ve upgraded to a new one or their old phone is broken. But fortunately, the Museum’s Cellphone exhibit helps interested parties discover ways of properly disposing of their devices and the consequences of throwing them in the trash.

A big wall of the exhibit is dedicated to proper cellphone disposal and “The How of Recycling.” The purpose of this area is to show attendees what happens to their phones once they’re put into our recycling facilities, with details on the effects of proper dismantling, shredding, and smelting.

Of course, these methods come with their own issues and hazards as many cellphone makers create phones to discourage dismantling and encourage consumers to buy new devices, rather than repair them to extend the life of the device, promoting a circular economy. The exhibit notes that in 2021, the Fairphone 3, Teracube 2e, Google Pixel 5, and Moto E6 were praised for their use of sustainable and recycled materials and their repairability.

To access the full article, click here.


E-waste awareness and education: empowering others

In an era of rapidly advancing technology, electronic devices have become an integral part of our lives. We rely on smartphones, laptops, and tablets for communication, work, and entertainment. But what happens when these gadgets reach the end of their lifecycle?

The answer unfortunately lies in the growing problem of electronic waste, or e-waste. While the issue may seem overwhelming, there’s hope in raising awareness and educating individuals about the impact of e-waste and their own power to make a difference.

The Escalating E-Waste Challenge:

E-waste is a mounting global concern, with millions of tons generated each year. The improper disposal of electronic devices poses significant environmental and health risks. Toxic substances like lead, mercury, and arsenic found in e-waste can contaminate soil, water, and air if not handled properly. This presents a pressing need for increased e-waste awareness to mitigate the adverse effects on our planet and human well-being.

The Role of Education in Awareness:

Education plays a pivotal role in addressing the e-waste crisis. By equipping individuals with knowledge about the consequences of improper disposal, we can foster a sense of responsibility and empower them to act. Educational initiatives can be integrated into school curriculums, community programs, and public campaigns to raise awareness about e-waste’s environmental impact and the importance of responsible disposal.

For some detailed ideas for students, check out these great curriculum ideas.

E-Waste Recycling, The Way Forward:

One of the most effective solutions to combat e-waste is proper recycling. Responsible recycling practices ensure that valuable materials are recovered, and hazardous substances are safely disposed of, reducing the environmental burden. Recycling centers and programs, both governmental and private, have emerged to tackle this issue. These initiatives aim to make e-waste recycling more accessible and convenient for individuals by providing drop-off locations and organizing collection events.

Individual Actions That Matter:

While systemic changes are crucial, individual actions can have a significant impact in the fight against e-waste. Here are some steps that individuals can take:

E-waste is a pressing environmental challenge that demands our attention. By increasing awareness and education, we can empower individuals to become agents of change. Responsible recycling practices, extending the lifespan of devices, and encouraging others to do the same are vital steps in combating e-waste. Together, we can make a difference and pave the way for a more sustainable future.

Have a sustainable summer: easy tips for an eco-friendly season

Finding ways to incorporate eco-conscious steps into everyday life can feel overwhelming, especially when we consider the planet’s current environmental challenges, but did you know that you can apply sustainable thinking to outdoor activities with friends, taking on new adventures, or just pursuing your favorite hobbies?

Let’s dive right in and discover how you can make a difference while enjoying an eco-friendly summer.

Sustainable Travel Adventures:

Summer is the perfect time for adventures and exploration. Opt for eco-friendly transportation options like carpooling, public transportation, or biking. Consider exploring local destinations and discovering hidden gems in your own area to reduce your carbon footprint and support local businesses.

Pack Zero-Waste Picnics:

Picnics are a delightful way to enjoy the outdoors. Pack your snacks in reusable containers, bring along reusable utensils, and opt for cloth napkins instead of disposable ones. By avoiding single-use plastics, you can help reduce waste and protect the environment.

Mindful Energy Consumption:

As you enjoy the comforts of home during the summer, be mindful of your energy usage. Unplug electronics when not in use, turn off lights when leaving a room, and take advantage of natural light. Consider raising the temperature of your air conditioner when you are not home. These small adjustments can save more energy than you think.

Responsibly Recycle Your Phones, Tablets, or Laptops:

At ReturnCenter, we’re here to help you responsibly dispose of your old phones, laptops, or tablets. By recycling your old devices with us, you ensure that valuable and scarce materials are recovered and harmful substances are properly handled. Get started now. Questions about how it works? Review our FAQ’s.

Dive into Sustainable Reading:

Summer is a great time to catch up on reading. Consider choosing e-books or audiobooks instead of physical copies to reduce paper consumption. If you prefer physical books, explore your local library, secondhand bookstores or organize a book swap with friends to give books a new life.

Cultivate Your Green Thumb:

Embrace the sunny weather and start your own small herb or vegetable garden. Whether it’s a few pots on a balcony or a patch of land in your backyard, growing your own produce is not only rewarding but also reduces your reliance on store-bought items.

Host Environmentally-Friendly Gatherings:

When planning get-togethers with friends, incorporate sustainable practices. Use reusable plates, cups, and cutlery instead of disposable options. Encourage carpooling or alternative transportation methods. Also consider engaging in eco-friendly activities, such as beach or park cleanups or volunteering for local environmental initiatives. 


Summer is a time to enjoy and connect with the world around us. By implementing these sustainable summer tips, you can make a positive impact on the environment and inspire others to do the same. Let’s make this summer a time of sustainability, growth, and positive change.

Climate anxiety is more common than you think. These students want to help.

Climate anxiety is more common than you think. These students want to help.

By Conrad Swanson, The Denver Post, May 26, 2023

You might have felt the symptoms before: A pit in your stomach, panic, existential dread, hopelessness, disenfranchisement, frustration and even anger.

Greenhouse gases are seeping into the atmosphere, warming the planet. Polar ice caps are melting, rising sea levels and altering the chemistry of the planet’s oceans. Wildfires spark more frequently, burn hotter, spread faster and wider. Waterways like the Colorado River are dwindling. Deforestation threatens even the planet’s most wild forests and jungles. Mining operations scar and poison beautiful, even sacred landscapes, endangering the way of life for those living in the area.

For some — especially young people facing decades of uncertainty – it’s too much.

And so the paralyzing fear sets in, the anxiety and depression. These problems are indeed existential threats, scientists repeatedly confirm, but what can any one person do to stop them?

“Anxiety stems from not being able to control or do anything,” Lizzie Weinreb, a student at the University of Colorado Boulder, said. “And, for the most part, we can’t do anything.”

A majority of Americans suffer from some form of climate anxiety, according to a 2020 survey by the American Psychological Association. The anxiety is particularly pronounced in younger generations and can lead to a greater risk of developing depression, other forms of anxiety and substance abuse.

Weinreb, a senior and environmental studies major, and four other students – Andre Delay, Ella White, Emma Morris and Miles Sinderman – wanted to learn more about climate anxiety, how it’s affecting others at CU Boulder and to see whether they could offer any help. Their project started as an assignment in Lee Frankel-Goldwater’s Environment, Media, and Society class and ended up as a website and Instagram account to share their findings.

Frankel-Goldwater, an assistant teaching professor at the university, said the guidelines for the assignment were intentionally vague and he was pleased to see the group settle on the topic.

Sinderman said he pitched climate anxiety to the group to seize on an opportunity to delve deeper into a feeling that has plagued him since a trip to Costa Rica while he was in the eighth grade. While in Central America he looked around and realized that none of what he was seeing would be the same within a decade.

“It feels like everything’s slipping,” Sinderman, a junior and environmental studies major, said.

To access the full article, click here.