Anja Disseldorp via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0
Anja Disseldorp via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

India Has Its First Fully Organic State

Anja Disseldorp via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0
Anja Disseldorp via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

As of late last month, the farms of Sikkim in northwest India have been certified 100 percent free of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides, making it the country's first fully organic state.

This achievement has been a long time coming. A resolution to make the Himalayan region completely organic first passed through the state legislative assembly in 2003. Over the next 12 years, the import of chemical additives was restricted and their sale in the state forbidden, leading to the gradual organic certification of 75,000 hectares of agricultural land.

The harmful effects of pesticides and fertilizers has been an issue facing India for decades. Following the Green Revolution of the mid-20th century, India’s food production increased which led to a higher prevalence of modified seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides in farming. The chemicals were hazardous to the environment, as well as a threat to the health of citizens. Several years ago, over 150 people in south India were struck by a condition related to head swelling and brain damage caused by a deadly pesticide called endosulfan, which led to its nationwide ban in 2011. 

Sikkim has one of the smallest areas of farm land in India, with the majority of it dedicated to maize, paddy, and cardamom. Amit Khurana, the program head of New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment’s food safety team, told Quartz there’s still a lot to be done before the rest of the country gets up to speed.

“(W)e need a system in place that regulates the daily acceptable intake of pesticides,” he said. “There are also concerns that close to one-fifth of pesticides used in the country don’t have their minimal residual limit approved by food safety authorities.”

Despite the long road ahead, according to Khurana, the initiative in Sikkim is now inspiring other states to implement similar policies of their own. 

[h/t: Quartz]

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Are You Eco-Conscious? You Could Win a Trip to the Dominican Republic
iStock
iStock

Do you love lounging on the beach but also want to take action to save the planet? You'll be able to do both if you're chosen to serve as a "sustainability advisor" for a luxury resort in the Dominican Republic, Lonely Planet reports.

The worldwide contest is sponsored by Eden Roc at Cap Cana in Punta Cana. The winner and one friend will receive a five-night stay at the Relais & Châteaux hotel, where they'll partake in specially curated activities like a food-sourcing trip with the hotel's chef. (One caveat, though: Airfare isn't included.)

You don't need a degree in conservation to enter, but you will need an Instagram account. Give the resort's Instagram page (@edenroccapcana) a follow and post a photo of you carrying out an eco-friendly activity on your own page. Be sure to tag the resort and use the official hashtag, #EcoEdenRoc.

The only requirement is that the winner meet with hotel staff at the end of his or her trip to suggest some steps that the hotel can take to reduce its environmental impact. The hotel has already banned plastic straws and reduced its usage of plastic bottles, and the sole mode of transport used on site is the electric golf cart.

Beyond the resort, though, the Dominican Republic struggles with deforestation and soil erosion, and the nation scored poorly on the 2018 Environmental Performance Index for the agricultural category.

Entries to the contest will be accepted until August 31, and you can read the full terms and conditions here.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

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Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images
How a Hairdresser Found a Way to Fight Oil Spills With Hair Clippings
Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images
Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images

The Exxon Valdez oil tanker made global news in 1989 when it dumped millions of gallons of crude oil into the waters off Alaska's coast. As experts were figuring out the best ways to handle the ecological disaster, a hairdresser from Alabama named Phil McCroy was tinkering with ideas of his own. His solution, a stocking stuffed with hair clippings, was an early version of a clean-up method that's used at real oil spill sites today, according to Vox.

Hair booms are sock-like tubes stuffed with recycled hair, fur, and wool clippings. Hair naturally soaks up oil; most of the time it's sebum, an oil secreted from our sebaceous glands, but it will attract crude oil as well. When hair booms are dragged through waters slicked with oil, they sop up all of that pollution in a way that's gentle on the environment.

The same properties that make hair a great clean-up tool at spills are also what make animals vulnerable. Marine life that depends on clean fur to stay warm can die if their coats are stained with oil that's hard to wash off. Footage of an otter covered in oil was actually what inspired Phil McCroy to come up with his hair-based invention.

Check out the full story from Vox in the video below.

[h/t Vox]

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