Alexis Petru

Passionate about both writing and sustainability, Alexis Petru is freelance journalist and communications consultant based in the San Francisco Bay Area whose work has appeared on Earth911, Huffington Post and Patch.com. Prior to working as a writer, she coordinated environmental programs for various Bay Area cities and counties for seven years. She has a degree in cultural anthropology from UC Berkeley. Connect with Alexis on Twitter at @alexispetru

Homeless Airbnb Listing

Airbnb Campaign Brings Attention to NYC Homeless

If you’re looking for a place to stay on your next trip to New York City, Airbnb user Jamie has a posting that sounds promising: a “Hot Bedroom w/ Semi-Private Terrace” for only $11. But on closer inspection of the post and accompanying photo, it appears Jamie’s “hot bedroom” is actually the sidewalk under the awning of a Manhattan office building, and Jamie is holding a cardboard sign that reads, “Homeless. Need Money.” This fake Airbnb posting is part of an innovative campaign to raise awareness about the Big Apple’s growing homeless population on the popular housing-sharing platform.

Guardian-Newspaper-300x168

Can the Guardian’s Climate Campaign Effect Real Political Change?

There’s one important issue that journalism has consistently failed to cover properly: climate change. But a new campaign from the United Kingdom’s Guardian is looking to change that, aiming to not only educate the public on climate change, but also inspire individuals, governments and companies to take action on the issue.

Chinese woman wearing face mask

Documentary on China’s Air Pollution Spurs National Debate, Government Censorship

Last week, “Under The Dome,” a biting documentary about China’s air pollution problem went viral in the country, garnering more than 300 million views – the equivalent of more than a fifth of China’s population watching it, according to the Guardian. But on Friday, Chinese video websites deleted the film, under orders from state censors, the New York Times reported.

Wild Tussah handbag

Designer Handbags Provide Jobs, Preserve Ancient Cultures

The term, “sustainable fashion,” has many meanings: It can refer to clothes and accessories made from organic, naturally dyed fabrics; apparel made by workers who receive a living wage; or high-quality garments made to last for decades to come. But for tote and handbag maker Wild Tussah, sustainability means more than providing a fair income for the artisans that make each bag by hand; it’s about preserving the long-standing but disappearing tradition of weaving in Vietnam.

Chinese factory

Has China Reached Peak Coal?

According to energy data released by the Chinese government last week, the country’s consumption of coal fell by 2.9 percent in 2014 – the first dip in 14 years, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reports.

Solar panel installation

SunEdison Invests $5M To Boost Solar Workforce Diversity

A new program from renewable energy development company SunEdison and nonprofit solar installer GRID Alternatives aims to build a more diverse solar workforce. Last month, the organizations announced the launch of the RISE (Realizing an Inclusive Solar Economy) initiative, which will provide women and members of underserved communities with solar job training and job placement through GRID Alternatives’ workforce development program.

Vegetables

Dietary Guidelines Consider Planet’s Health

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” These seven words are author and sustainable food advocate Michael Pollan’s sage advice on how to eat a diet that is healthy for both people and the planet. And now it appears the U.S. government is poised to adopt similar nutritional recommendations. Last week, the nation’s top nutrition panel, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, released its latest report — which argued for a “sustainable diet” high in plant-based foods and lower in calories and animal-based foods.

BP Gas Station

BP: Put A Price on Carbon, Let The Market Cut Emissions

One of the world’s six major oil and gas companies supports a global price on carbon – and no, this is not an early April Fool’s joke. In the latest version of its annual Energy Outlook report, BP recommends that governments set a meaningful global price on carbon emissions to level the playing field for businesses and let the market choose the best climate solutions.

Smartphones

Sprint Offers $5K to Students Who Find Innovative Ways to Recycle Smartphones

Have a bright idea for a new way to recycle an old smartphone? This week, Sprint launched its first-ever Smartphone Encore Challenge that invites students to come up with innovative and profitable ways to give new life to these unwanted devices or their components – for the chance to win $5,000 to turn their business plan into reality.

Landfill

Recycling Startup: Market Should Be ‘Main Driver’ of Environmental Change

Leftover pizza dough into ethanol fuel and old uniforms into pet bed stuffing – where some peak into a business’ dumpster and see only trash, Rubicon Global finds opportunity. The Atlanta-based waste management company wants to help corporations cut their waste streams, find innovative recycling options for their unconventional waste materials and slash their garbage bills by as much as 20 to 30 percent, Rubicon told the New York Times.

Starbucks Coffee Cups

Report: Food Industry Needs to Take Responsibility for Its Packaging Waste

Nearly a third of the United States’ solid waste stream is product packaging – a Capri Sun drink pouch, a Starbucks coffee cup or an Arrowhead water bottle – according to nonprofits As You Sow and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). But Americans only recycle an estimated 51 percent of these packaging materials, the organizations say, and less than 14 percent of all plastic packaging – the fastest-growing type of product packaging. And leading companies in the fast food, beverage and consumer goods/grocery industries are falling short when it comes to addressing the environmental impacts of their packaging, the two groups say, releasing their findings in a joint report last week.

Indian Pollution

Report: Pollution is the Leading Cause of Death in the Developing World

Pollution is the leading cause of death in low- and middle-income countries, according to a report from the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution. In 2012, pollution – in the form of contaminated soil, water and both indoor and outdoor air – was responsible for 8.4 million deaths in developing countries — almost three times more deaths than those caused by malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis combined.

Sharing Economy

Report: U.S. Lags on Embracing the Sharing Economy

Approximately 80 million Americans took part in the sharing economy last year – from donating unwanted clothes to charity to renting movies from Netflix, marketing firm Leo Burnett estimates. But sharing, borrowing and renting may not be as popular as the media buzz around collaborative consumption would have us believe. According to a new report from the global advertising agency, over 50 percent of U.S. adults surveyed said they would still prefer to own, rather than share.