5 Great Grad Gifts That Are Meaningful and Green

May 19, 2017 by  
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Note: This post contains affiliate links, which helps fund our Recycling Directory, the most comprehensive in North America. With graduation season rapidly approaching, many parents are racking their brains to find a gift for the happy grads in…

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5 Great Grad Gifts That Are Meaningful and Green

Spherical timber teahouse hides in the treetops of Austria

May 19, 2017 by  
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Teatime is served with a side of enviable treetop views at the pod-shaped Teahouse Riedenthaln nestled in an Austrian garden. Architecture firm a-lp architektur designed the curious igloo-shaped timber hideaway as a modern interpretation of the traditional Japanese teahouse . The 10-square-meter elevated space was largely built from recycled oak wood offcuts. Located in a private garden, the spherical room serves as a place to drink tea, for hosting regression therapy clients, and as a possible sleeping area. A ramp leads up to the low and narrow entrance that opens to a light-filled and surprisingly spacious interior. Natural light fills the cave-like space through a large painted skylight and two rectangular windows. Related: Cocoon Tree: A lightweight, spherical treehouse for sustainable living The tiny teahouse retreat is raised on four black-painted pillars, made of tree trunks. Locally chopped oak timber was used as the main material for the teahouse. The wood cladding was recycled from the small timber offcuts of a local wine barrel-maker and assembled in stacks of over forty layers. The furniture, which includes a counter with a sink, window seat, and sleeping area, is also made from oak timber. + a-lp architektur Via ArchDaily Images by Christine Leuthner

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Spherical timber teahouse hides in the treetops of Austria

Zaha Hadid Architects designs ecological residential complex for Mexicos Riviera Maya

May 19, 2017 by  
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Mexico’s stunning Riviera Maya looks nothing short of paradise, but its beauty has also proven a burden on ecological preservation. With the Yucatan Peninsula’s booming tourism and environmental degradation in mind, Zaha Hadid Architects designed Alai, a residential complex in the Riviera Maya that embraces luxury but still maintains low environmental impact. Inspired by local Mayan culture and architecture, the nature-filled development will also contribute to restoration of native flora and fauna. Located on a site prepped by a previous owner for an unbuilt project, Alai will minimize its environmental impact by limiting the combined footprint of all its residential buildings to less than 7 percent of the site’s total area. The architects also plan to repair the previous owner’s damage to the site. Zaha Hadid Architects will collaborate with landscape architecture firm Gross Max and use replanting to repair the landscape, reverting the remainder of the site into a natural state that includes a woodland nature reserve and coastal wetland. To this end, the architects designed an onsite botanical nursery that serves as an attraction and tool for site restoration. Related: Sleep in sustainable luxury inside this eco-friendly jungle treehouse Alai’s luxury apartments as well as sport, leisure, and wellness amenities will be set on an elevated platform just above the canopy so as to not disturb local wildlife crossings. The apartments offer four different floor typologies, all of which enjoy ample amounts of natural light, natural ventilation , private balconies, and unobstructed views to the Caribbean Sea or Nichupté Lagoon. The sinuous and textured facade draws inspiration from local Mayan masonry and the rich natural environment. + Zaha Hadid Architects Via WAN Images by firms credited in titles

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Zaha Hadid Architects designs ecological residential complex for Mexicos Riviera Maya

How global value chains push and pull U.S. climate action

May 19, 2017 by  
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Momentum is building for U.S. corporate climate leaders, who in turn pull more companies along on the path toward a thriving, clean economy.

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How global value chains push and pull U.S. climate action

Dubai firm wants to tow icebergs from Antarctica for fresh water

May 18, 2017 by  
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As global temperatures increase due to global warming , ice caps and glaciers continue to melt at an increasing pace. While this reality disturbs some, it is being regarded as positive news by the National Advisor Bureau Limited, based in Dubai, India. This is because the firm seeks to harvest icebergs in the southern Indian ocean and tow them 5,700 miles (9,200 kilometers) away to the Gulf, where they could be melted and sold to local businesses or marketed as a tourist attraction. However ambitious, the Dubai firm faces many challenges in its ambition, including opposition from environmental activists . Phys reports that to accomplish the task of harvesting icebergs, the firm would send ships to Heard Island, an Australian nature reserve , and steer between massive icebergs the size of cities in search of truck-sized chunks. Then, the smaller icebergs would be secured to boats with nets and dragged thousands of miles back to the intended destination. Managing director of the company, Abdullah al-Shehi, believes that the icebergs would not melt significantly during the voyage as the majority of an iceberg’s mass is underwater. Al-Shehi is largely excited about the payday that could await someone who successfully transports an iceberg capable of holding 20 billion gallons of fresh water to the Gulf’s region water. This is because in Norway, for instance, one distillery sells 750 ml bottles of melted Arctic iceberg for $100 each. However, ice sourced from Antarctica is the driest in the world, therefore, yields much less water. If all the permits required are obtained, harvesting will begin in 2019. According to Robert Brears, the founder of Mitidaption, the project would require an initial investment of at least $500 million. Additionally, the firm faces a variety of obstacles. For one, Australia strictly limits access in order to preserve the diverse ecosystem of migratory birds, penguins, seals and fish. This could be disrupted by large ships. Additionally, Antarctica is subject to global treaties that mandate strict environmental regulations and ban mining and military activities. Said Christopher Readinger, head of the Antarctic team at the U.S. National Ice Center, “There are thousands and thousands of icebergs drifting around and they can move without warning. Storms down there can be really brutal, and there’s really not anyone that can help.” Environmentalists are also offering staunch resistant to the Dubai firm’s plan, as they argue there is a simpler method to address climate change in the Middle East. Examples given include drip-irrigation, fixing leaks and water conservations. Hoda Baraka, spokeswoman for the climate advocacy group 350.org , said , “This region is the heartland of the global oil industry, it will be at the forefront of experiencing these massive, insane heat waves, and there’s only one way to avoid this—reducing emissions and keeping all fossil fuels in the ground.” Related: 70-mile crack in Antarctic ice shelf could create Delaware-sized iceberg Because the project is “an exceptionally futile and expensive way” to combat climate change and “seems to run counter to all ideas of climate change adaptation,” says Charlotte Streck, director of the consultancy firm Climate Focus, the Dubai firm is unlikely to receive financing from green investment groups. Via Phys Images via Pixabay

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Dubai firm wants to tow icebergs from Antarctica for fresh water

Red States vs. Blue States: Which Are More Eco-Friendly?

May 18, 2017 by  
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Consider that the most environmentally friendly states are Vermont, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington and Connecticut, while the lowest are Oklahoma, North Dakota, West Virginia, Montana and Wyoming. Notice a pattern? It turns out that political…

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Red States vs. Blue States: Which Are More Eco-Friendly?

Score an organic mattress worth 2199 from PlushBeds

May 18, 2017 by  
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Getting a good night’s sleep depends on a lot of things, but a well-made, comfortable mattress can make all the difference. Unfortunately, the majority of mattresses on the market (especially the cheap ones) are made with synthetic chemicals, such as polyurethane foam doused in toxic flame-retardants, which can contribute to health problems like allergies, asthma, endocrine issues and even cancer . Non-organic mattresses also come with an environmental footprint that would give any conscious person nightmares. Now there’s a mattress company called PlushBeds that raises the bar with a luxurious line of Botanical Bliss mattresses . Constructed with the highest quality natural materials derived from ethical sources, they have zero synthetic materials, chemical fire-retardants or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) mixed in, so they don’t off-gas toxic fumes – and they are carefully designed to give you lasting comfort for years to come. If you’re in need of a new mattress, you’re in luck, because we’ve teamed up with PlushBeds to give away an organic mattress worth 2199 : ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN! a Rafflecopter giveaway Contest open only to residents of the continental U.S. PLUSH BEDS BOTANICAL BLISS MATTRESSES Each Plushbeds botanical bliss mattress has a dense core of 100 percent organic latex, a cover of non-woven organic cotton , and up to 10 pounds of 100 percent Jona New Zealand wool for loft. The most important element of a Botanical Bliss organic latex mattress is the natural latex – made from the ‘white milky fluid’ tapped from rubber trees. Poorly managed rubber plantations use a lot of pesticides, not to mention water and energy, to produce latex, but Plushbed’s latex is responsibly and ethically harvested. PlushBeds keeps their mattresses clean and green by using organic latex from Sri Lanka’s ARPICO , which is certified in accordance with the Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) and uses at least one form of renewable energy to power their operations. Unlike talalay latex, according to the company, organic latex results in a heavier, denser mattress core that provides optimum support — freeing you from the tyranny of a sagging mattress that leaves you feeling stiff and cranky in the morning. Natural latex is springy, resilient (meaning it doesn’t sag), and naturally anti-microbial. Adding to the Botanical Bliss mattress’ comfort level is its cover, which is made with 100 percent GOTS certified organic cotton . PlushBeds says their non-woven mattress covers are softer, more breathable, and more elastic than woven covers, and offer better moisture control and pressure relief. And because the cotton was grown sans harmful herbicides or pesticides , it is safer for both the environment in which the cotton is grown and the end user. Topping each mattress’ layer of latex is up to 10 pounds of Jona New Zealand wool. Wool is naturally fire-resistant, so there’s no chemical flame retardants to disturb your sleep or health. Natural wool also allows your body to quickly reach a comfortable sleeping temperature and maintain it throughout the night. Two inches of pressure-reducing latex provides additional cushion, and an orthopedic foundation comprised of all-natural spruce wood lends superior pressure-absorbing support, rounding out the five main components of an American-made Botanical Bliss mattress. If you don’t win our contest but still want your own Botanical Bliss mattress , note the price tag is reasonable for a luxury mattress of this quality – starting at $1,099. Each comes with a risk-free 100-night sleep trial, 100-day comfort exchange, and a 25-year warranty with free shipping and returns. Also, PlushBeds is having a Memorial Day Sale with $1200 off all Organic Latex Mattresses – use the code INHABITAT50 for an additional $50 off. + PlushBeds

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Score an organic mattress worth 2199 from PlushBeds

Research suggests humans emerged 2.8M years ago amid major climate change event

May 18, 2017 by  
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Mystery still shrouds much of the story of our origins, but new Arizona State University (ASU) research sheds new light on why we first emerged where and when we did. Around 2.8 million years ago our genus, Homo , could have emerged in a valley in Ethiopia . It was a time of change on that Earth long ago; it appears forest landscapes altered into grassy ones where our ancient ancestors lived. Back in 2013 an ASU team discovered a jawbone with teeth at Ledi-Geraru, and the incredible find is the oldest evidence of Homo we’ve yet found and dates back around 2.8 million years. The find was 400,000 years older than other fossils we’d discovered to that point. Building on that discovery, ASU scientists hoped to answer two questions: why did humans emerge in Ethiopia’s lower Awash Valley, and why did they emerge at that point in time? Related: New ‘Hobbit’ fossils provide a glimpse into human relative Animal fossils help scientists recreate the conditions of the past – what they ate help indicate the environment in those days. Scientists discovered that the animals found with the 2.8 million-year-old Homo fed on grass, seeming to support the guesses of many in the scientific community humanity emerged as grassy environments were spreading in a period of global cooling. According to IBTimes UK, the landscape in which early humans lived would have been similar to today’s Serengeti region. Scientist Joshua Robinson said evidence had hinted at the connection between the emergence of humans and the spread of those grassy, open environments, “but, until now, we had not direct environmental data for the origins of Homo now that it’s been pushed back in time.” The 2.8 million date is also incredibly important for the fossil record. The famous Lucy fossil ( Australopithecus ), which dates to around 3.2 million years ago, was found just around 18 miles west of ASU’s 2013 discovery. But the geological sequence ended around 2.95 million years ago, until the recent findings. ASU researcher John Rowan said although Lucy’s species endured many environmental changes, it appears they didn’t last through the ancient climate change as open environments spread. The diet of early humans was still very similar to what Lucy would have consumed, however. The ASU research was published online this week in Nature Ecology & Evolution . Four ASU scientists worked on the study with one geoscientist from the University of South Florida . Via Arizona State University and IBTimes UK Images via Kaye Reed/Phys.org and Josh Robinson/Arizona State University

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Research suggests humans emerged 2.8M years ago amid major climate change event

Barcelona set to double tree population in major urban greening push

May 18, 2017 by  
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You may think there isn’t much space for a centuries-old, built-out city like Barcelona to radically greenify itself with double the amount of trees and expanded green space. But that’s exactly what the city aims to do. They recently rolled out a Plan of the Green and Biodiversity Barcelona 2020 , including ambitious goals that could offer ideas to other dense cities needing greenery too. Air pollution , heat, and climate change are among the reasons Barcelona needs to become a greener city. But they have a plan – their 2020 goals could see twice the number of trees flourishing in the city, alongside park space increased by two thirds. Overall each citizen could receive nearly 11 square feet of extra green spaces . The plan aims to provide Barcelona with 108 acres of new green areas by 2019 and more than 400 acres by 2020. Related: Paris allows anyone to plant an urban garden How will the city accomplish this feat? First, they’ll plant five new gardens , which will later be connected to open spaces already in place to form thriving plant-filled corridors. Green roofs will also help keep the city cool. Creepers will snake across bare walls. And in spaces waiting for construction, the city will plant temporary gardens. CityLab reports some of the new gardens are already being built, and their designs reveal how to find space in a city where one might think space would be lacking. For example, the largest garden will be planted around a city square once filled with cars. That traffic will now be diverted to tunnels. Another garden is more controversial – the city will clear out a courtyard block filled with squatted 1920’s workshops to make way for greenery. One garden will green up a scrap of ex-industrial semi-wasteland. Slowly the city is filling up with new flora and fauna – local architecture firm JORNETLLOPPASTOR drew up many of these images around five years ago. Green corridors planted in the past have been successful; a 2000 one restored life to a stream formerly dirty. As climate change raises temperatures, a city that already reaches around 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer stands to benefit greatly from the air-cleaning, cooling plants. Via CityLab Images via Ajuntament de Barcelona

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Barcelona set to double tree population in major urban greening push

Is greenwashing silencing the sustainability revolution?

May 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Some businesses risk becoming too cautious in promoting their environmental progress.

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Is greenwashing silencing the sustainability revolution?

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