National Geographic's plastics issue is a huge wake-up call

This video accompanies National Geographic's terrific reporting on the global plastic waste crisis. it shows how America became a plastic-addicted throwaway culture, and how the earth is now paying for humanity's short-sighted sin. Read the rest

A $16 pad to stop stray cat litter from migrating about the house

This wonderful litter trapping pad keeps litter from being scattered all over my home.

I figured out my cat needed a 2nd litter box, and felt pretty smart. A few days later my home office was full of litter that had escaped the box on his paws and fur, I had forgotten to put a pad under the front of the box. I felt pretty silly. I tried a towel, because towels are pretty useful, but it didn't really help much.

This rubber mat does the trick.

Cat Litter Mat | XL Super Size | 35" x 23" via Amazon

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Mumbai Beach clean-up highlights marine waste epidemic

The shocking amount of marine waste washed up on Mumbai's Versova Beach led UN Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh to publicize a long-term cleanup project.

Mountains of garbage, mostly plastic, have been hauled away by thousands of volunteers. Read the rest

Weekend of Wonder: It wouldn't be Boing Boing without cute cats

Cute pictures of cats are such a big part of what makes the internet great, to Boing Boing anyways, that we couldn't possibly put on the Weekend of Wonder with out "kittehs" being involved. Luckily for us, we happen to be friends with Perre DiCarlo!

Perre’s book Kick Litter won nine design and comedy awards and was featured in HOW’s Design Annual. At Weekend of Wonder, he’ll present his 9 steps to convince your cat to give up the litter box and use the potty instead.

We couldn't be more excited, the Weekend of Wonder is packed with incredible presentations, workshops and group activities! For three days Happy Mutants are taking over a fantastic resort we have already visited and fallen in love with. You will too. So come play with us!

Register here to join us at Boing Boing's Weekend of Wonder.

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What birds are doing with your cigarette butts

Nicotine is one of nature's bug zappers. Seriously. Lots of plants have evolved to produce bug-repelling chemicals as part of their defense mechanisms and tobacco happens to be one of those plants.

So when city-dwelling birds use the fluffy, nicotine-soaked material from discarded cigarette butts to build their nests it might not be the unmitigated ecological disaster that most of us imagine when we hear that "birds are building nests out of discarded cigarette butts". Researchers at Mexico’s Autonomous University of Tlaxcala think the nicotine in the cigarettes might help keep chicks healthy — essentially serving as an urban substitute for the parasite-repelling plants the birds would have used in the wild.

At Culturing Science, Hannah Waters explains the idea...

But birds are actually quite fond of the chemicals found in some smelly plants, otherwise known as aromatics, from which “essential oils” are derived. Aromatic plants produce these chemicals to defend themselves against insects and other animals that would take them for food—but birds have their own use for them. Some nest-building species, including starlings and blue tits, regularly replenish their nests with fresh aromatics, and scientists hypothesize that the birds use these chemicals as parenting tools.

How would plant-derived chemicals help birds raise their chicks? It’s possible that the chemicals boost the immune systems or development of the chicks so that they survive better after they leave the nest; this is known as the “drug hypothesis.” Alternatively, the “nest protection” hypothesis suggests that the plant chemicals act as insecticides, driving parasites and other harmful insects from the nest.

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