The plastics value chain is only as strong as its weakest link

January 18, 2019 by  
Filed under Business, Green

And the weakest link? People.

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The plastics value chain is only as strong as its weakest link

The United Nations backs seed sovereignty in landmark small-scale farmers’ rights declaration

January 18, 2019 by  
Filed under Business, Green

Conventional modern agriculture threatens seed diversity around the world — but a new UN declaration seeks to reverse that.

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The United Nations backs seed sovereignty in landmark small-scale farmers’ rights declaration

60% of wild coffee species are now threatened with extinction

January 17, 2019 by  
Filed under Green

When people think of threatened and endangered species, charismatic animals like tigers and giant pandas are usually top of mind. But climate change  really hits home when it lands in your morning mug. Coffea arabica , the wild relative of the world’s favorite coffee, has hit the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. According to a study done by scientists at England’s Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew , 60 percent of wild coffee species risk extinction. The culprits? Climate change, deforestation, pests and fungal pathogens. Kew scientists undertook their research in African forests and on the island of Madagascar. Their computer models predict that by the end of the century, climate change could decrease the land now used for Ethiopian coffee production by 60 percent. Ethiopia is Africa’s largest coffee exporter — the annual export value tops $1 billion — and the birthplace of Arabica coffee. The wild Arabica coffee is a vital seed stock for coffee farmers. Related: Champagne could lose its classic taste due to climate change This is bad news for coffee lovers, the multi-billion dollar coffee industry and the farmers who depend on the crop for their livelihood. “Among the coffee species threatened with extinction are those that have potential to be used to breed and develop the coffees of the future, including those resistant to disease and capable of withstanding worsening climatic condition,” said Aaron Davis, head of coffee research at Kew. “The use and development of wild coffee resources could be key to the long-term sustainability of the coffee sector.” The Kew study is the first IUCN Red List assessment of the extinction risk to coffee worldwide. “A figure of 60 percent of all coffee species threatened with extinction is extremely high, especially when you compare this to a global estimate of 22 percent for plants,” said Eimear Nic Lughadha, senior research leader in Kew’s conservation department and lead scientist for Kew’s plant assessment unit. “Some of the coffee species assessed have not been seen in the wild for more than 100 years, and it is possible that some may already be extinct. We hope this new data will highlight species to be prioritized for the sustainability of the coffee production sector so that appropriate action can be taken to safeguard their future.” + Kew Images via Emma Sage and Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew

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60% of wild coffee species are now threatened with extinction

Lawmakers are pushing gadget manufacturers with the Right to Repair movement

January 17, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

The amount of electronics that we are throwing away each year is growing at an exponential rate, and this toxic trash is hazardous to both people and the planet. What are we supposed to do when our smartphones or other gadgets stop working? According to lawmakers in the United States and Europe, there is one option that should be available instead of getting rid of them— fixing them. Lawmakers in at least 18 states— and the European Parliament— believe that manufacturers should make it a priority that their products last longer and are easier to fix, a movement known as “Right To Repair.” The 18 U.S. states include California, Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia. E-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream on Earth, says the Global E-Waste Monitor. In 2016, our planet generated 44.7 million metric tons of e-waste, and as more products continue to hit the market, the forecasts for future waste are projected to skyrocket. Experts say that by 2021, we are looking at 52.2 million metric tons of e-waste . As technology advances for electronics, DIY fixes for gadgets are a huge challenge for consumers, thus causing more and more consumers and politicians to demand a change to the  law . Related: Precycle, a zero-waste grocery store, opens in Brooklyn California Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman introduced the California Right To Repair Act last March, and her bill would require manufacturers to release diagnostic and repair instructions and make equipment or service parts available to small repair shops and product owners. “We should be working to reduce needless waste —repairing things that still have life—but companies use their power to make things harder to repair. Repair should be the easier, more affordable choice and it can be, but first, we need to fix our laws,” said Emily Rusch, executive director of CALPIRG, in a press release in support of Eggman’s bill. Environmentalists say the “Right to Repair” legislation would not only save resources, but will also reduce carbon emissions from the manufacturing of new products. While the act proves to be beneficial, it could, however, prove to be a considerable challenge to pass. Tech giants like Apple and Microsoft believe that users fixing their own devices could be a security risk to the user, not to mention, the fact that these companies would prefer that consumers continue to buy their new products. Via EcoWatch Image via Shutterstock

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Lawmakers are pushing gadget manufacturers with the Right to Repair movement

UK’s Guardian switches to biodegradable wrapping for newspapers

January 17, 2019 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

The Guardian — a national newspaper in the U.K. — has ditched its polythene packaging and replaced it with a compostable wrapper in an effort to reduce plastic waste. The newspaper and its inserts are now packaged in a clear, biodegradable material made from potato starch that will completely compost in just six months. The choice to scrap the plastic packaging makes The Guardian the first national newspaper in the U.K. to make such a switch, following publications like the National Trust members’ magazine and the New Internationalist. The switch to biodegradable packing will increase the paper’s production costs, so the price of print editions of The Guardian and its sister paper The Observer will go up. However, this is what their customers wanted. The weekday edition will rise in cost by 20p, and the Saturday edition will increase 30p. The Observer will also go up 20p. Related: UK’s Co-op to ditch single-use plastic bags for biodegradable bags This past weekend, The Guardian subscribers in London, Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk received the new packaging with their Sunday edition. The newspaper will gradually implement the packaging change across the entire country over the next few months. Guardian to be first national newspaper with biodegradable wrapping https://t.co/Yh88bMEXXD — The Guardian (@guardian) January 11, 2019 Readers in the Greater London area who use The Guardian’s home delivery service will also receive their weekday editions in the potato starch packaging. Related: 100% biodegradable, edible packaging is so much better than plastic The new biodegradable packaging on The Guardian includes instructions for customers to not to recycle the material but to instead dispose of it on a compost heap or in a food waste bin. + The Guardian Via Dezeen Image via Andrys

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UK’s Guardian switches to biodegradable wrapping for newspapers

Solar-powered floating hotel room is designed to pop up anywhere on water

January 17, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Valencia-based architecture firm Mano De Santo has proposed a plug-and-play hotel room that could be easily transported and installed thanks to its modular, off-grid design. Dubbed the Punta de Mar Marina Lodge, the conceptual floating pavilion is a sustainable tourism initiative that targets low environmental impact. Powered with solar energy , the Punta de Mar Marina Lodge would offer a private and luxurious experience on the water for two. Unveiled last year, the Punta de Mar Marina Lodge is envisioned to house two levels spanning a total of 74 square meters in size. The ground floor — approximately 40 square meters — includes a small front terrace that opens to the bedroom, which overlooks views of the water through full-height glazing. The bathroom, technical equipment and storage are tucked in a unit behind the bed, while a small outdoor terrace is located in the rear. Guests can also enjoy access to the roof, where an open-air lounge with seating is located. “Punta de Mar is a sustainable tourism initiative, since it does not generate waste because it is an installation of modules whose system is the ‘Plug & Go,’” the architects said in a project statement. The team also explained that the unit is integrated into its environment with low impact. The hotel can be easily relocated — it can be transported by land or sea — and can be enjoyed in an array of different settings for “unique and exclusive experiences.” Related: This modular outdoor swimming pool from Finland could make a splash near you In addition to the off-site prefabrication of the unit that minimizes waste, the Punta de Mar Marine Lodge was designed to follow passive solar principles to reduce energy usage. Moreover, the indoor temperature, lighting, alarm system and entertainment system can all be controlled remotely via the guests’ smartphones. + Mano De Santo Via ArchDaily Photography by Sergio Belinchon via Mano De Santo

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Solar-powered floating hotel room is designed to pop up anywhere on water

Perkins+Wills University of Hawaii building is an eco-conscious beacon in West Oahu

January 17, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

The University of Hawaii West Oahu has gained a new Perkins+Will -designed addition that’s not only visually striking but also site-specific to Kapolei, a planned community on the island of Oahu. Created in collaboration with Hawaii-based KYA Design Group, the campus building offers a mix of workspaces and learning areas for students, faculty and staff. All parts of the University of Hawaii’s new Administration and Allied Health Building was inspired by the site context, from the siting of the building to the sculptural zigzagging roof that references the area’s historic sugar mills. Located on land that had formerly been used as sugarcane fields, the University of Hawaii’s West Oahu campus is tied to a long agricultural history dating back more than a hundred years. Continued sustained tilling, however, has stripped away rich topsoil and rendered the land less fertile and less able to retain water. As a result, Perkins+Will has made environmental stewardship a priority in the project with a landscaping plan that will restore the topsoil through nitrogen fixing planting, improve onsite ecological water and nutrient management and revive native landscaping . Eco-friendly principles also guided the design of the 43,000-square-foot complex, which features deep open-air lanais (balconies) on the south-facing facade that provide shade against the harsh sun and promote natural ventilation . The textured monolithic skin is made from concrete masonry units (CMUs) that form a geometric pattern inspired by traditional Hawaiian kapa (cloth). Related: Perkins + Will’s KTTC building blends beauty and sustainability in Ontario “The challenge was how to best consolidate the distinct functions of teaching labs and classrooms within the same building as office space for the campus administration,” Mark Tagawa, associate principal at Perkins+Will’s LA Studio, said. “We wanted to create a facility that interacted with the landscape in a sympathetic way, through water management, landscaping and materiality. Cultural and ecological appropriateness was our filter for all design decisions.” + Perkins+Will Via Dezeen Photography by Andrea Brizzi via Perkins+Will

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Perkins+Wills University of Hawaii building is an eco-conscious beacon in West Oahu

A Victorian cottage gets a stylish and sustainable makeover

January 17, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

In one of its latest eco-conscious retrofits, Australian architecture firm Green Sheep Collective has given a single-fronted timber Victorian cottage a sustainable transformation in inner Melbourne. The renovation and expansion project combined recycled and eco-certified materials with low-tech, passive solar principles to reduce the carbon footprint of the home while improving livability. Filled with light and contemporary flourishes, the updated house — named Magnolia Soul — has also been designed to embrace the outdoors. Commissioned by a young family with pets, Magnolia Soul was designed with an emphasis on spacious indoor-outdoor living as well as healthy and eco-friendly materials. During the renovation, the architects preserved a mature magnolia tree — a stunning Magnolia x soulangeana — and turned it into a main focal point. In addition to the tree, the existing property conditions also informed the building’s siting, mass and volume, which were all optimized to follow passive solar principles. Moreover, the building footprint is minimized in favor of maximizing the garden area. “A unique folding roof form envelopes and cradles robust living spaces, whose lowered floor level is embraced by adjacent decking,” the architects explained, having created a flexible open-plan interior layout with strong sight lines to the outdoors. “Views of the magnolia tree are intentionally framed by the roof structure, through a high-angled window and bay window seat. The generous and versatile window seat creates a lovely place to relax, read a book, admire the flowering magnolia or sit on the edge of the garden. High angular ceilings offer views of the magnolia, allow dappled light to penetrate deep into the residence and provide stack effect ventilation.” Related: Smart Home targets affordability and eco-friendly design in Australia The home is oriented for optimal thermal comfort : north-facing windows draw in natural heat for winter, while deep eaves and strategically placed windows for cross ventilation combat unwanted summer heat gain. Low-E double glazing and effective insulation also accommodate a temperate climate. Recycled, low-emission and ethnically procured materials were used wherever possible. For added resource savings, the home is equipped with a rainwater tank that reuses roof runoff for the laundry and toilets. + Green Sheep Collective Photography by Emma Cross via Green Sheep Collective

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A Victorian cottage gets a stylish and sustainable makeover

7 ways to conserve water and reduce your water footprint

January 17, 2019 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

When it comes to conserving water , making small changes can have a huge impact. But many of us don’t really think about water shortages unless we are in the middle of a heatwave, when temperatures are consistently at 85 degrees or more. Extreme heat or not, the water system is overstretched, and with climate change , we can expect to put even more pressure on the depleting water supply. Here are some ways to do your part in conserving water. According to Friends of the Earth , 97.5 percent of the world’s water is locked in oceans and seas, which means it is too salty for humans to use. The remaining 2.5 percent is mostly in the ice caps, so we are all relying on a tiny amount of freshwater to survive. Water isn’t just for drinking. We use it for bathing, cleaning and producing everything from crops to clothing. It’s time to save water, and we need to do it fast. Here are seven ways that you can start conserving water now. As an added bonus, these ideas can also save you money. Change your diet It takes a lot of water to grow, process and transport food. Raising animals for meat and dairy products is also incredibly water-intensive. To reduce your water footprint , reduce your meat and dairy consumption, switch to shopping local and grow food in your own garden. If more people do these things, they will not only lead to a reduction in total water usage but also in less food waste . Related: Vegan diets deliver more environmental benefits than sustainable dairy or meat Have a plan for your garden If you do have a garden , water your outdoor plants early in the morning or at the end of the day, so the water doesn’t immediately evaporate in the sunlight. Also, make sure to water the soil, so the roots get the much-needed liquid. If you water your plants manually instead of with automatic sprinklers, it can cut your water use by 33 percent. American lawns consume a large amount of water, so reduce how much you are watering your lawn. Installing rain barrels to capture rainwater can also be a huge help and can save you up to 1,300 gallons of water every year. Related: New study suggests it’s time to replace modern, grassy lawns Turn off the tap When you let the water run while you brush your teeth, you are wasting over 1.5 gallons of water. If you have leaky taps, you could be letting up to 15 gallons a week go down the drain. Every minute you spend in the shower burns 4.5 gallons of water. So turn off the tap water when you are brushing your teeth, set a timer on your shower to keep it short and fix those leaky faucets. Don’t forget about the outside of your home. Leaky outdoor faucets, pipes, hoses and broken lawn sprinklers can waste water, too. Also, monitor your water bill for unusually high usage so you can discover leaks. Save your dirty clothes When you wash two half-loads of laundry, it uses more water and energy than washing a full load of clothes. Wait until you have enough dirty clothes to fill up the washing machine. This will not only save water and electricity, but it will also lead to lower utility bills. Related: 10 money-saving tips for a green home Use the dishwasher It may be hard to believe, but if you fill up the dishwasher every time you use it , you will use less water than if you washed the dishes by hand — even if you fill up your sink and clean your dishes without the water running. If you use water- and energy-efficient appliances, you will save even more. When you have extra-dirty pots and pans, let them soak first instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean. Wash your car at home Instead of going to a car wash, wash your vehicles at home on the lawn, so you can water your grass at the same time. Use a hose nozzle or turn off the water while you are scrubbing your car so you can save up to 100 gallons of water each time you give it a wash. Recycle ice cubes When you have leftover ice cubes in your drink, toss them into a houseplant instead of pouring them into the sink. When you are washing fruits and veggies , save that water as well to use for watering your plants. Via Friends of the Earth Images via RayMark , Jerzy Gorecki , Pierre Gilbert , Charles Deluvio , Steve PB , Conger Design , Sasin Tipchai and Hans Braxmeier

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7 ways to conserve water and reduce your water footprint

Gorgeous cedar-clad tiny home designed to withstand Ontario’s frigid winters

January 17, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Canadian tiny home builders, Minimaliste Houses , know a thing or two about creating durable tiny homes that can stand up to extreme temperatures. The  designers are back with another stunning tiny home , the cedar-clad Magnolia. Built to withstand northern Ontario’s weather, the tiny home was designed to be energy-efficient thanks to tight thermal insulation and various sustainable features such as a composting toilet and LED lighting. The exterior of the tiny home reflects most of the tiny home builders’ exteriors. The 10.5 x 34.5 feet structure on wheels is clad with two-tone cedar panels with black steel accents. The black cedar panels were burnt using the Shou Sugi Ban technique, which creates a durable exterior that won’t fade over the years. Additionally, the dark and clear cedar gives the home a modern, yet rustic aesthetic. Related: The off-grid Eucalyptus tiny home radiates cool, Californian vibes The sophisticated look of the design continues throughout the interior where a double-height ceiling painted in all white gives the space a bright, open feel. The living room is a surprisingly large spacious, furnished with a comfy sofa and entertainment center. At the clients’ request, the main bedroom is located on the first floor, but there is an additional sleeping loft installed over the bathroom that can be used as a guest room or storage space. The bathroom is also a fairly large design and was installed with a c omposting toilet . The kitchen in the Magnolia is a perfect space for the home chef. Along with a full range of appliances, there is plenty of storage space with a tall pull-out pantry, tons of cabinets and drawers, A white quartz countertop with space doubles as a kitchen prep space and dining table or work surface with three bar stools. LED backlighting was installed in order to dim the lights when watching TV in the living room or working. To create a comfortable interior temperature throughout the year, the home was installed with a LUNOS heat recovery air exchanger and two ceiling fans to provide air circulation throughout the home. An abundance of windows throughout the home flood the interior with natural light , which also reduces the home’s energy use. + Minimaliste Houses Photos via Minimalist Houses

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Gorgeous cedar-clad tiny home designed to withstand Ontario’s frigid winters

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