Is your sustainability team thinking enough about human rights?

November 12, 2018 by  
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By overlooking socioeconomic factors, we limit the potential for transformation.

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Is your sustainability team thinking enough about human rights?

Human activity has decimated 60% of animal populations since 1970

October 31, 2018 by  
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A new study from WWF International has reported that humans have wiped out 60 percent of the world’s mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles since 1970, and experts are now warning that wildlife destruction is an emergency that is threatening civilization. As important species continue to die at alarming rates, the ecosystems that humans also depend on are being destroyed. The recent Living Planet Report involved 59 scientists from around the world, and these experts found that the growing consumption of food and resources by Earth’s population is destroying the web of life, on which humans depend for clean air and water. The main culprits of the destruction are overexploitation and agriculture. Related: WWF predicts wild animal populations will plummet 67 percent by 2020 “We are sleepwalking toward the edge of a cliff,” said Mike Barrett, executive director of science and conservation at WWF. “If there was a 60 percent decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done.” Barrett also said that this decimation is jeopardizing the future of humanity. Global sustainability expert and professor Johan Rockström said that we are running out of time, and we must address the ecosystems and climate if we stand a chance of safeguarding the planet for our future on Earth. According to The Guardian , many scientists believe that we have entered a sixth mass extinction , and it is the first caused by humans. Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, said that the fundamental issue is consumption, and we cannot ignore the impact of wasteful lifestyles. In 2020, many nations of the world will be meeting at the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity to make new commitments to protect nature and wildlife. Barrett said we need a new global deal for people and the environment, and this is our last chance to do this right. As Tanya Steele, chief executive of the WWF said, “We are the first generation to know we are destroying our planet and the last one that can do anything about it.” + WWF Via The Guardian Image via Ray in Manila

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Human activity has decimated 60% of animal populations since 1970

Garden-facing timber home uses highly efficient SIPs to minimize waste

October 31, 2018 by  
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When asked by a long-time friend to build a garden-facing retirement home in Hobart, Australia, Brunswick-based architectural practice Archier created the Five Yards House, a timber-clad abode that takes its name from the numerous “yards,” or gardens, integrated into the design. To minimize onsite waste and to ensure rapid installation, the design firm turned to SIP (structural insulated panel) construction, a high-performing methodology that “provides structural, insulative and aesthetic solutions in one,” according the the architects. High performance and environmentally friendly materials were also specified for the rest of the design, from operable double glazing to recycled timber to  LEDs . Strong connections with the garden were a priority in the 131-square-meter Five Yards House’s project brief. Rather than design a simple glass house for enjoying views of one garden, the architects designed the home around a series of unique gardens, each with its own distinct appearance and framed by full-height walls of double glazing. The entrance on the east side is flanked by two gardens, or “yards,” and opens up to a mud room, a library and a long hallway that extends to the far west end of the home. At the heart of the building is an  open-plan living room, dining space and kitchen that connects to the outdoors on both ends; a smaller garden is to the south, and a more spacious yard is to the north. The bedroom is located at the far end of the house and overlooks a small garden as well. Related: Industrial modern Sawmill House is built from recycled concrete blocks Because the house was constructed with SIPs, the building boasts high thermal performance, and the operable walls of glass allow for natural ventilation in summer to negate the need for mechanical cooling. A restrained palette of natural materials helps strengthen the indoor-outdoor connection. Recycled Tasmanian Oak timber was used to line the interior, and the exterior is painted matte black. + Archier Photography by Adam Gibson via Archier

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Garden-facing timber home uses highly efficient SIPs to minimize waste

Zambia plans to cull 2,000 hippos over the next 5 years

October 23, 2018 by  
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Two years ago, the Republic of Zambia in south-central Africa suspended its plans for the controlled slaughter of up to 2,000 hippos over five years following protests from animal rights activists . The country has recently revived those plans, claiming that the water levels in the Luangwa River — where most of the hippos are located — can’t support the current hippo population. According to Zambia’s tourism minister  Charles Banda, it would be too costly to move the hippos to another part of the country. Instead, the government has decided to proceed with its plans to cull the hippo population in eastern Zambia. “The South Luangwa National Park has a population of more than 13,000 hippos, but the area is only ideal for 5,000 hippos,” Banda said. Related: Hippos could be threatened with extinction due to demand for their teeth The Zambian government believes that overpopulation could threaten Zambia’s ecosystem , and Banda added that moving the hippos to other bodies of water would be “very expensive,” leaving culling as the only option. The government also insists that controlling the number of hippos in the area will stop the spread of anthrax — a bacterial disease commonly found in sub-Saharan Africa that kills animals — and the low rainfall in the region has just made the situation worse. As Reuters reports, during the summer of 2016, the British wildlife charity Born Free led a campaign against the culling of hippos and described it as trophy hunting . After the recent announcement to continue with the culling, Born Free said on its website that Zambia has not provided any solid, scientific evidence that there is actually a hippo overpopulation problem at the Luangwa River. Born Free also stated that scientific evidence suggests that culling hippos actually stimulates breeding, ultimately increasing the hippo population, which could potentially establish a “cycle of death and destruction.” Back in 2016, Born Free also questioned Zambia’s scientific rationale for killing 2,000 hippos when the population in southern Africa is around 80,000. Via Reuters and Born Free Image via Lars Plougmann and Sarah Depper

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Zambia plans to cull 2,000 hippos over the next 5 years

"Cheesy" solar charger kit empowers students in East Africa

September 24, 2018 by  
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Playful in its design and highly functional, SunMade Cheese features a charger for flashlights, lighters, radios and even cellphones powered by mere sunlight. The device was developed by YOLK, the solar company applauded for its Kickstarter project ‘Solar Paper’ in 2015 that has sold millions of dollars worth of units worldwide. This time, it seems whimsy has struck the cutting-edge solar tech firm, which decided to express its love of cheese in this new project. Continuing its sun-charged aspirations, the group has debuted quirky, cheese-plate-shaped solar panels and cheese-shaped, solar-powered accessories with a meaningful mission to boot. YOLK is eager to attract current generations to solar energy , making it easy to incorporate the technology in their daily routines. The group also hopes to improve energy infrastructure and conservation in developing nations as well as put an end to child labor, instead empowering families to send children to school. Rather than tackling these issues separately (as is common), YOLK decided to put its creativity to the test and develop the Solar Cow in conjunction with the new cheese chargers. The Solar Cow systems are much larger solar energy generators built with a portion of the revenue that YOLK receives from SunMade Cheese. The company is deploying the conductive cows in remote areas of East Africa that are burdened by poor energy infrastructure. Related: Striking, solar-powered LA roundabout manages stormwater runoff with art As many as one in every five children are prevented from attending school in East Africa. Families rely on child labor to supplement the household income. Besides providing power to local schools , the Solar Cow will provide an incentive for parents to send their children to school instead of sending them off to work. In the mornings, students are able to attach batteries to the “cow’s udders” for charging and take them home at night with a full supply of free, clean energy. “The SunMade Cheese project is more about enjoying solar power and promoting education for solar technology, but the Solar Cow is really a lifeline for people,” YOLK CEO Sen Chang explained. “They are two projects for two different perspectives, but combined in one initiative.” Families in rural areas commonly travel around four to six hours in order to reach a charging station to juice up their cellphones. The mobile phones are a necessity, because they facilitate communication to the rest of the world and a means to make payments and receive income. The cost of this process is astounding, with the average family spending approximately 10-20 percent of their total monthly earnings to simply charge their cellular devices an average of 10-12 times per month. The SunMade Cheese charger is the perfect accessory to promote an environmentally friendly lifestyle at home while assisting YOLK’s efforts to help communities abroad. Stressing creativity and efficiency, the award-winning innovators deserve to bask in the sunlight for their life-changing technological designs . No doubt, many will join them — cheese plate in hand! + YOLK Images via YOLK

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"Cheesy" solar charger kit empowers students in East Africa

UK’s Co-op to ditch single-use plastic bags for biodegradable bags

September 24, 2018 by  
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A popular supermarket chain in the U.K. is taking a step toward bettering the environment by putting a stop to plastic waste . Co-op recently announced plans to use compostable shopping bags, which double as biodegradable bags for food waste, in all of its stores. The new bags will replace the old single-use plastic bags. Co-op is introducing the eco-friendly bags over the next few weeks. Stores in England, Wales and Scotland will receive the bags first, followed by outlets across the rest of the U.K. Related: Kroger plans plastic bag phase-out by 2025 The chain has tested other versions of the bags since 2014 and is rolling them out in locations where local food waste companies can accept them. The company estimates that the new bags will save around 60 million plastic bags from ending up in landfills. The biodegradable bags are part of Co-op’s larger strategy to lessen its impact on the environment. This includes launching initiatives to tackle healthy eating, food waste and energy savings. The company plans to completely phase out plastic bags over the next five years and stop selling black plastic — which is difficult to recycle — altogether. Co-op hopes to be plastic free by 2023 and plans on using at least 50 percent recycled plastic in other products, such as pots, trays and bottles. Co-op is not the only supermarket in the U.K. that is removing plastic from its stores. This past week, Lidl U.K. announced plans to stop using plastic trays for fruit and vegetables by the end of September. The company also pledged to ditch plastic from its meat sections by Summer 2019. Asda also announced that it is halfway through with its plastic reduction goal for the year, while Waitrose has vowed to stop using plastic for loose veggies and fruit by Spring 2019. + Co-op Via The Guardian Image via Co-op

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UK’s Co-op to ditch single-use plastic bags for biodegradable bags

What sub-Saharan Africa shows us about serving communities that are ‘under the grid’

September 19, 2018 by  
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Entrepreneurs are increasingly investing in clean minigrids to cover unreliable utility services.

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What sub-Saharan Africa shows us about serving communities that are ‘under the grid’

Measuring progress to SDGs with a chemicals management survey

September 19, 2018 by  
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We worry about our carbon footprints. What about our chemical footprints?

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Measuring progress to SDGs with a chemicals management survey

SAOTA’s Benguela Cove design takes rooms with a view seriously

July 27, 2018 by  
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When you announce you’ve moved into a home on a cove, the first image that comes to mind is a house with glorious views. And on that front, this house from SAOTA Architecture and Design with interiors by ARRCC does not disappoint. Located within the Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate in South Africa , this modern home affords spectacular vistas from nearly every room on all levels – even from the bathtub. Perched just above the seashore of Benguela Cove Wine Estate in the Overberg region of the Western Cape , the sprawling home looks out over the Botrivier Lagoon and Overberg Mountains. Every material, inside and out, pays homage to natural resources , accented with subdued materials including steel and corrugated aluminum. The cerulean skies and azure water of the cove make the timber exterior and aluminum roof pop against the deep green landscape. The bedroom wing on the first floor sits atop the home’s living areas; each room has a panoramic view of the cove and adjoining greenery. The bathtub in the master bathroom has a window with a clear view of the mountains and cove. The landing below overlooks a courtyard before you step inside the living quarters. Related: One in four of world’s largest cities under water stress Huge blocks of granite flank the kitchen island and contrast with the brilliantly polished countertop, making it the focal point of the room. The light wood cabinets soften the kitchen, which overlooks the flowing design of the lounge and dining areas. The sweeping views go on, as does the theme of wood slats on the ceiling and granite floors. Relaxation is the theme of the living room. A colossal concrete hearth wall surrounds the fireplace and oversized picture window, and finely crafted pre-weathered steel cloaks the flues. Al fresco dining and socializing take place in an outdoor dining and kitchen area with an inviting and spacious sun deck. A staircase with glass railing and a CNC-cut timber screen background adds yet another tactile touch to the décor. + ARRCC + SAOTA Architecture and Design Photography by Adam Letch

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SAOTA’s Benguela Cove design takes rooms with a view seriously

How solar minigrids could brighten economic prospects for unserved millions in Africa

June 7, 2018 by  
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The demand from grain mills, water pumping, health clinics, barbershops and countless other businesses is there.

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How solar minigrids could brighten economic prospects for unserved millions in Africa

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