The prefab Plugin House turns ruins into livable dwellings in just one day

December 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Beijing-based design studio People’s Architecture Office has proved yet again its knack for innovation and socially conscious design with its recent project, the Shangwei Village Plugin House. Made with a modular building system of prefabricated panels, these customizable homes can slot into existing structures to make formerly uninhabitable spaces both livable and attractive for far less than the cost of a typical renovation. The experimental dwellings were installed in the Chinese village of Shangwei near Shenzhen and can be assembled with unskilled labor using just one tool in less than a day. The local government, the Shangwei Village Cooperative, along with local nonprofit Leping Foundation and Future Plus, tapped People’s Architecture Office to renovate a series of centuries-old structures into houses for supporting a budding community of local artists and craftspeople. Having been left vacant for decades, the structures had become uninhabitable ruins with caved-in roofs. Since renovation could adversely affect adjacent buildings, the architects decided to rehabilitate the spaces by inserting new construction — with added structural reinforcement — inside the existing structures, a typology that the firm calls the ‘Plugin House.’ “Industrial manufacturing allows the use of high quality materials that drastically increase energy efficiency and economies of scale ensure the Plugin House remains inexpensive,” the architects explained. “Although the Plugin Panels are mass produced, each Plugin House is customized to fit its particular site.” The Huang Family Plugin House, for instance, slots into a tiny 160-square-foot space. The space-saving construction features a mezzanine bedroom with a corner window cantilevered over a collapsed wall as well as a new skylight where the original roof once was. The Fang Family Plugin House, on the other hand, is slightly larger at 215 square feet. Related: Hydroponic gardens and a “mini mountain” promote fun and well-being in this creative office The architects added, “For both locations, the Plugin House System raises living standards by adding efficient mini-split units for heating and cooling, modern kitchens and off-the-grid composting toilet systems.” + People’s Architecture Office Images by ZHAN Changheng and People’s Architecture Office

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The prefab Plugin House turns ruins into livable dwellings in just one day

Mecanoo unveils stunning glass lake house that harmonizes with nature

December 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Dutch firm Mecanoo has just unveiled Villa on the Lake — a stunning example of contemporary home design that sits in perfect harmony with its natural surroundings. Tucked against a lake near the U.K. city of Lechlade, the cube-like home features facades of floor-to-ceiling glass panels and a massive rooftop terrace that offers optimal views over the water. At just over 6,000 square feet spanning three floors, the Villa on the Lake is a mammoth of a home. Despite its large size and predominantly glass facade, however, the bold design creates a strong harmony with its all-natural forest and lake surroundings. The entrance is connected to a long bridge that winds through the lake’s edge of thick forest. Curving the bridge allowed the architects to avoid felling trees, leaving the landscape in its natural state. Related: Mecanoo to update Washington’s MLK Library with massive green roof According to the architects, the home was designed from the inside out, so the homeowners could enjoy unobstructed views from anywhere in the home while still maintaining a sense of privacy. Glass panels make up the front and side facades, giving off the appearance that the home is floating on the water. Inside, white walls and sparse furnishings, along with an abundance of natural light, brighten the space. The main living area is on the second floor while the bedrooms and private areas are on the top floor. A large staircase joins the three stories, one of which is actually underwater. The sunken basement houses a cinema, game area, bar and wellness spa. Of course, for truly enjoying the stunning panoramic views, the home boasts two open-air terraces . The rooftop terrace is more than 800 square feet, and the second deck, which leads out from the living space, wraps around the home’s volume, hovering just over the water. + Mecanoo Via Archdaily Photography by Mariashot.photo and Blue Sky Images via Mecanoo

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Mecanoo unveils stunning glass lake house that harmonizes with nature

A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for children

December 14, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

While it’s obvious that we want the children in our lives to have only the most natural, clean, organic clothes and toys , it’s also important to our planet that we introduce sustainable goods from the start. As children grow up with eco-friendly items at their side, they will naturally grow up to respect the Earth, seeking out these types of green products for the rest of their lives. To get them started on the right foot, here are some of our favorite sustainable gifts for kids and babies. Veggie Crayons These crayons , which are made from organic herb and vegetable powders as well as food-grade soy wax, are safe for babies and children to use. While they shouldn’t be eaten, they are safe for hand to mouth transfer, and they do not contain toxic ingredients like petroleum. Plus, the square shape also makes them fun for stacking and playing. “Adopted” animals Support organizations like WWF , Oceana , The Nature Conservancy and more, and in return, your child will have an opportunity to learn more about our planet and the animals that roam it. Many organizations will allow you to symbolically adopt an animal , and for your donation your child will receive a plush animal, coloring books, educational materials and more. Related: 20 sensory table activities that offer creative ways to teach kids through play Plush toys Kids love their “stuffies,” so gift them their new favorite this year. These options from Ouistitine are adorable yet minimalist, so they’ll still look chic lying all over your living room floor. Plus, each toy is handmade from the scraps of natural, eco-textiles like wool, linen and cotton . Sustainable clothing Clothing is a gifting staple in many households, but conventional fashion often relies on unsafe fabrics and unethical production processes. If you’re looking to give the little ones clothing this year, be sure to choose options that are organic , non-toxic and responsibly made. Gardening kits Most kids love to get messy, so add in the benefits of growing their own food and teaching them the importance of gardening, and you have quite a gift! Surprise the kids with a gardening kit (like this one ), which is fun for children of all ages. You can also check out this website for educational resources to go along with the gift. Images via  Wee Can Too , WWF , Christopher Michel , Ouistitine ,  Phichit Wongsunthi and Shutterstock

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A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for children

Earth911 Podcast, Dec. 14, 2018: EnergySage on the State of Solar

December 14, 2018 by  
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Vikram Aggarwal, founder and CEO of home solar comparison-shopping service … The post Earth911 Podcast, Dec. 14, 2018: EnergySage on the State of Solar appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Podcast, Dec. 14, 2018: EnergySage on the State of Solar

Green Giving: 5 Nonprofits Clobbering Climate Change

December 14, 2018 by  
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Thinking about year-end donations to nonprofits focused on issues related … The post Green Giving: 5 Nonprofits Clobbering Climate Change appeared first on Earth911.com.

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5 Children’s Books That Expertly Teach About the Environment

December 14, 2018 by  
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Green-roofed eco resort on Easter Island designed to blend into the landscape

December 13, 2018 by  
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Easter Island is world-renowned for its monolithic Moai statues and incredible natural beauty. Now, visitors to the unique Polynesian island can enjoy a responsible stay in one-of-a-kind beautiful eco-resort , the Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa . Located in the village of Hangaroa, the sustainable solar-powered retreat was designed to provide a luxurious stay for guests without harming the surrounding natural landscape. Circular buildings covered with lush green roofs and natural wood throughout the hotel reflect the textures of the island. According to the hotel description, the inspiration for the design was based on a village concept, where small singular buildings can be reached via a short walk along stone paths. The hotel’s commitment to sustainability was driven by the owners’ desire to support responsible tourism to the increasingly popular island destination, “The vocation of the Schiess family, is to create tourism experiences that support the social development of the environment in which they operate, care for the environment and leave a legacy.” Related: Eco-resort in Tulum features luxury beach huts made of natural materials The eco hotel design was meant to offer all of comforts of a luxury hotel, while reducing its impact on the environment. Additionally, the hotel has a number of passive and active energy-saving features . Each of the structures within the hotel compound run on highly efficient electrical equipment, a solar lighting system and a self-sustaining water irrigation system. Additionally, all of the detergents and cleaning products used in the daily upkeep of the hotel are non-toxic. The interior design schemed used the local vernacular as inspiration, namely the island’s most prominent geographical features. Small round buildings mimic the rolling hills that lead out to the sea, while lush green roofs blend the buildings into the environment. Natural light floods the interior community spaces, providing a strong connection with the surrounding nature. + Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa Images via Hangaroa Eco Village & Spa

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Green-roofed eco resort on Easter Island designed to blend into the landscape

In China, a billion cockroaches are leading the fight against food waste

December 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Warning: This story could make your skin crawl. As China’s cities continue to grow at a rapid pace, problems are arising with the country’s food waste. The Chinese population is producing so much food waste that the landfills can’t keep up, and this has led to some out-of-the-box thinking — using a billion cockroaches to take care of the problem. According to a new Reuters report , a plant outside of the city of Jinan — the capital of the eastern Shandong province — is disposing of the 50 tons of kitchen waste it receives every day by feeding the food scraps to the cockroaches. This process is not just a creative solution for food waste, but it is also providing livestock with nutritious food once the cockroaches die. Related: 5 simple ways to reduce your food waste right now “It’s like turning trash into resources,” said Shandong Qiaobin chairwoman Li Hongyi. Shandong Qiaobin Agricultural Technology runs the Jinan plant, and the company hopes to open three more plants next year, with the goal of eliminating one-third of the city’s food waste. Jinan currently has a population of around 7 million. This novel approach to urban waste starts with the waste arriving at the plant before daybreak, and then workers feed it through pipes to cockroaches in their cells. China banned the use of food waste as pig feed because of outbreaks of African swine fever. Now, this new process is encouraging the cockroach industry to grow. Shandong Qiaobin is beginning to serve as an example for others throughout China , with many people opening their own cockroach farms. Humans waste about one-third of the food produced across the globe each year — around 1.3 billion tons — and this is negatively impacting the environment as well as the economy. If the cockroach trend takes off outside of China’s borders, it could mean that these little pests will be soldiers on the frontline of the global war against food waste. Via Reuters Image via Shutterstock

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In China, a billion cockroaches are leading the fight against food waste

Zero-waste kit ensures reusable essentials are always nearby

December 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

The zero-waste movement has consistently gained momentum over the past ten years with many millennials focusing on minimalist lifestyles and conservation of natural resources. More than any generation in nearly a century, attitudes towards lower consumption, conscientious purchasing and limited waste are a big part of societal discussion and awareness. One advocate who has practiced a zero-waste lifestyle for several years has taken the next step in helping others do the same. Marina Qutab, a San Diego-based entrepreneur, decided to kick start the waste-free idea in her area and across the country with the creation of the Zero Waste Kit. Speaking of kick starting, the  Kickstarter campaign  reached it’s $10,000 goal in the first 24 hours and has continued to gain support (Kickstarter campaign closes Dec. 15, 2018). Related: 10 ideas for zero-waste gift wrapping The Zero Waste kit makes using and transporting commonly-used daily essentials easy and convenient. Neatly packed into a portable multi-purpose glass jar, the kit includes reusable items such as a bamboo utensil that is half spoon and half fork and two reusable produce bags to have at the ready when you swing by the farmer’s market. There is also a stainless steel straw, which is convenient with so many areas jumping onto the #nostraw wagon. The included napkin is sourced from fabric recovered from the manufacturing scrap floor and includes a pouch that holds all the contents of the kit when you need the jar for something else. Not only is each item aimed at eliminating waste, but the products are manufactured with sustainability in mind. Locally-sourced materials and labor exemplify Marina’s overarching goal “to make healthier, more compassionate lifestyle choices that are in alignment with our mother earth.” Equally important, at the end of the life cycle, each of the primary ingredients in the kit can either be recycled or composted so that no part in the process produces more waste. When asked about her inspiration for her zero-waste lifestyle and subsequent efforts to encourage others, Marina replied, “My life changed at the age of 10 when I traveled to my father’s homeland of Pakistan, and was exposed to pollution like I had never seen before. It was one night when I blew my nose and found black soot in my tissue that I made the simple realization that our actions impact our environment. I traveled home to America with a newfound sense of purpose and motivation for being the change I wished to see in the world.” Related: Cities around the world lay the groundwork for a zero-waste future She went on to explain that converting to the zero-waste lifestyle offered many challenges, the main one being that her best intentions were not always in alignment with her end goal. She often found herself wanting to pull out her reusable shopping bag, only to realize it was at home. At the smoothie shop, she wanted to decline the single-use cup, but didn’t have an alternative. Finding that people in her community also struggled to make the zero-waste lifestyle more convenient was the motivation she internalized to create an essentials kit she and others could always have nearby. + {Zero} Waste Kit Photography by Alex Mortenson via {Zero} Waste Kit

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Zero-waste kit ensures reusable essentials are always nearby

A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for pets

December 13, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Our pets are our best friends … our family. That’s why it is important to spoil your animals with eco-friendly gifts that will make them and the planet happy. From chew toys made from sustainable hemp and wool to collars made of recycled plastic, here our some of our favorite holiday gifts for pets. Chew toys Whether your dog likes to snuggle with its chew toys or is a tough chewer who rips everything to shreds, these toys will make Fido the happiest pup on the planet. Each option is handmade in the U.S. from sustainable hemp canvas and eco-felt wool. They are durable enough to withstand extra-tough dogs, and they can also hold up to a washing machine. Pet beds Whether you have cats, dogs or both, all your furry friends will love the Snuggle Bed , a cozy sleeping space that can transform into many bed types to suit your pet’s preferences. This particular bed is OEKO-TEX certified; the company’s pet beds are also made from 100 percent recycled materials . Related: A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for family Cat trees Cats love climbing, scratching and — above all else — resting in baskets. Let your cat do all three with this cat tree , which features a carpeted base, a dangling ball for play, a scratch post and a basket-like sphere made from  banana leaf material . Best of all, this tree will fit right in with your home’s beautiful furniture. Aquariums If you keep fish as pets, make their home the best is can be with an eco-friendly aquarium. This specific tank uses fish waste to fertilize herbs growing atop the tank; the plants in turn clean the water for the fish . Related: How to make your own eco-friendly aquarium accessories Collars and leashes Adorn your lovable pets in nature-inspired collars and leashes made from recycled plastic bottles. For added style, this version mimics the “distinctive look and feel of a classic polo shirt,” making your pet cooler and classier than you. Images via  Rhaúl V. Alva , Honest Pet Products , Pet Play , Wayfair , Back to the Roots  and Lupine Pet

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