Meet The Newest Soldiers In California’s Drought Battles

Worms are helping high-end wineries process all their wastewater

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My fellow Americans, it’s time we stop worrying and learn to love the bug. Not only are they imperative to our life here on this planet, but these squirmy little heroes are always finding new ways to help us out of our jams. The most recent case-in-point is California, where worms are being used to tackle a massive wine industry issue: wastewater disposal.

It’s common knowledge among vintners that creating a single glass of wine in California can use up to 14 gallons of water—and then you have to clean it. Typically, this means the wastewater is filtered multiple times, allowing bacteria to slowly break down in a painstaking and time consuming process that has long been itching for a better solution.

Mendocino County’s Fetzer Vineyard is currently partnering with Chilean company BioFiltro to install the first-ever worm-based wastewater disposal program in America. A massive “treatment box” filled with 12,000 worms per cubic yard will be installed on the property, and wastewater will then be sprayed into the box for the worms to clean. The process will take roughly four hours, and can be done with almost zero outside influence, including electricity.

“We are committed to water conservation and employ a number of practices as part of our efforts to become ‘water positive,’” says Josh Prigge, Director of Regenerative Development at Fetzer. The company’s aim is to possess a “net positive” ecological footprint by 2030.

This certainly isn’t the first time bugs have been useful in tidying up man-made messes. “Bioremediation” (which focuses more on tiny microbial bugs than anything you could knowingly squash with your shoe) is gaining serious traction as a solution for cleaning everything from mercury waste to oil spills. And a new study found that along the Broadway corridor in New York, insects and spiders eat up to 2,100 pounds of food waste each year, making the streets cleaner and less putrid. The reach of BioFiltro’s own system has found its way onto multiple continents, helping both well-trafficked national parks and off-the-grid rural towns break down waste naturally.

“The biggest challenge we have faced is people can't believe that natural processes—let alone worms—are capable of doing the same, if not better, job than machines and chemicals,” said Mai Ann Healy of BioFiltro. “Wastewater has traditionally incorporated the use of aerators, chemicals, and machinery to treat water. ‘It can't be that simple,’ is the most common feedback, despite the fact that Mother Nature has been doing this for billions of years.”

So let’s all raise a toast -- hey bugs, this Pinot’s for you!

via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

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Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

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Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

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