What makes styrofoam good — like its insulating, shock-absorbing qualities that make it suitable for hot coffee cups, coolers, helmets and packing material — is also what makes it bad … for the environment, that is. This month’s Backgrounder looks at the technical and environmental aspects of this long-troubling plastic pollution source.
The first state ban on styrofoam food containers makes this a good time to see how things stand with styrofoam in your area, as the controversial plastic draws negative attention for overflowing landfills, causing litter and polluting waters. More, plus story ideas and reporting resources, in this week’s TipSheet.
Seemingly healthy foods might not be as healthy as consumers believe. A new list tracking pesticide residue tells a different story, explains this week’s SEJournal TipSheet. Find out what iconic health food is on the “Dirty Dozen” list and which healthy standby makes the “Clean Fifteen.” Plus, the backstory, why pesticide residue matters and resources to report on the issue.
The Society of Environmental Journalists is backing right-to-know lawsuits brought by journalism groups, and a collaborative press freedom tracker gets new funding. Meanwhile, at the Interior Department, one watchdog group angles for environmental impact statements on ANWR drilling, while others track possible conflicts of interest by the acting secretary. That and more in the latest WatchDog roundup.
"Midwestern farmers have been gambling they could ride out the U.S.-China trade war by storing their corn and soybeans anywhere they could - in bins, plastic tubes, in barns or even outside. Now, the unthinkable has happened."
"If you're going to buy organic, strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines and apples might be a good place to start."
"For Maine dairy farmer Fred Stone, the discovery in 2016 that his cows were producing tainted milk has since brought financial ruin and threatened to shut down a century-old family business. Now state regulators and health experts are investigating whether the contamination could reflect a much broader problem for farms that used similar methods to fertilize their land."
Small market environmental beat reporting can shine a light on serious issues that affect local residents, and Texas Observer’s Christopher Collins does that with a passion. That’s the word from judges for the Society of Environmental Journalists’ annual reporting awards, who recently honored Collins for his work, citing his mix of hard-hitting info and interesting characters. In the latest Inside Story, Collins shares how he gets his story ideas, overcomes challenges and focuses on how issues affect real individuals.
"It’s the peak of the leafy greens growing season in Yuma, Ariz., where irrigated valleys are lush and verdant amid cactus-covered mountains. .... But these are anxious times for the leafy greens industry, and the partial federal government shutdown and furloughing of many Food and Drug Administration officials has deepened the distress."
"The FDA plans as soon as Tuesday to restart food safety inspections at facilities that handle riskier products like fresh-cut produce, as the partial government shutdown extends into its fourth week, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Monday."