Davos, without snark

January 27, 2020 by  
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The 2020 meet-up in the Alps was heavy on climate, metrics and collaboration. Was all that jet fuel worth it?

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Davos, without snark

How companies can source man-made cellulosics more sustainably

January 27, 2020 by  
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As a plant-based fiber, man-made cellulosics have the potential to be a more sustainable choice because they are renewable. But the production process can contribute to deforestation.

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How companies can source man-made cellulosics more sustainably

Trend: Companies warm to nature-based solutions

January 27, 2020 by  
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More than 350 companies have made commitments to help reverse nature loss and restore vital natural systems on which economic activity depends.

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Trend: Companies warm to nature-based solutions

Sigurd Larsen unveils a stunning prefab home in the Austrian Alps

November 18, 2019 by  
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Prefab design offers an infinite number of benefits, but it is especially useful when constructing in extreme landscapes and climates. Danish architect Sigurd Larsen has almost entirely relied on prefabrication to construct the Mountain House, an incredible family home nestled deep into the spectacular, mountainous landscape of the Austrian Alps. The Mountain House is a beautiful home that blends seamlessly into its surroundings. An elongated volume with a pitched roof, the structure cantilevers over the landscape’s natural slope, creating the perfect height to take in unobstructed views of the stunning mountainside. Related: Sigurd Larsen adds the ultimate grown up playhouse to Berlin’s Hotel Michelberger The two-level home’s walls and roof were prefabricated in a factory before they were assembled on-site. This decision was strategic to not only reduce costs and construction time but also the overall efficiency of the project. Building in the remote landscape of the alps is nearly impossible during the cold winter months, so using a heated factory to manufacture the components helped to facilitate the project on various levels. In fact, once the materials were delivered to the site, the exterior was constructed in just 12 hours. Clad in locally sourced larch timber stained a dark gray, the mountain home is chic and sophisticated, and it emits a welcoming cabin feel inside and out. The bottom floor is clad in floor-to-ceiling panels. These glazed facades allow for the family to feel a strong connection to the natural setting. Additionally, the home boasts an open-air deck that is covered by the upper floor, creating a serene outdoor place to enjoy the views and fresh mountain air. Throughout the interior , natural wood is used for the flooring and the walls, again creating a natural, minimalist living space. Keeping the focus on the views, the furnishings are sparse and space-efficient. The architects called on local woodcutters to create several pieces of built-in furniture, such as a kitchen bench and a wooden staircase. + Sigurd Larsen Via Architectural Digest Photography by Christian Flatscher via Sigurd Larsen

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Sigurd Larsen unveils a stunning prefab home in the Austrian Alps

10 vegan myths, debunked

November 18, 2019 by  
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Vegans and vegetarians are often the target of jokes, scorn, concern and/or fear by a majority culture that routinely consumes animals. The upcoming holidays are a prime time for omnivorous family members and friends to heckle a loved one who is vegan while brandishing a turkey leg or Christmas pudding. So, just in time for those awkward holiday encounters with family, here are 10 vegan myths, debunked. Tucson-based Alison Ozgur , registered dietitian at Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa and an instructor for the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies , kindly assisted with her solid nutritional knowledge. Vegans don’t get enough protein. Every vegetarian and vegan has heard this approximately a gazillion times. “This is a common myth that needs to be eliminated,” Ozgur said. “Here in the United States, we have never had a protein shortage, and the sad truth is, protein is being unnecessarily added to many foods. Vegetables, fruits and grains all have ample amounts of protein for optimal health and achieving a healthy body weight.” If you’re consuming enough calories, she said, you’re getting enough protein. Vegans can’t get calcium without dairy. The dairy industry has long campaigned to convince Americans we will keel over if we don’t guzzle milk. Not true, said Ozgur. “Yes, dairy products contain calcium, but they can also contain artery-clogging saturated fat, cholesterol and contaminants. Fortunately, plant-based foods are a healthier option.” She recommends leafy greens like kale, mustard greens, collard greens and Swiss chard as well as legumes, broccoli, organic soy foods — such as tempeh and tofu — almonds and calcium-fortified plant-based milks. It’s too expensive to be vegan. Those turmeric smoothies, packaged organic kale chips and meals in upscale vegan restaurants can certainly break the bank. “Eating vegan can be expensive,” Ozgur explained. “However, the cost of treatment for chronic disease is far more expensive. A diet rich in nutrient-dense, whole plant foods is our first line of defense for disease prevention and reversal.” That said, if you forego the prepackaged options and buy staple dry foods like bulk beans, lentils and oats, you’ll save money. Many vegetables, such as carrots and cabbage, are also inexpensive. All vegans are white. If this were true, you wouldn’t find websites like Black Vegans Rock or celebrations like the Vegan SoulFest . Activist Aph Ko, founder of Black Vegans Rock , raised awareness about the many vegans of color by publishing a list of 100 prominent black vegans in 2015. Vegans of color also own vegan restaurants and write vegan cookbooks, just like white vegans, but with roots of their own. Non-white vegan traditions include Rastafarians in Jamaica, Jainism in India and the part-time veganism of Ethiopia ’s fasting season. All vegans are hippies. Depending on who you ask, being called a hippie could be an insult or a compliment. The Merriam-Webster dictionary offers a more objective definition, “a usually young person who rejects the mores of established society (as by dressing unconventionally or favoring communal living) and advocates a nonviolent ethic. Broadly: a long-haired unconventionally dressed young person.” So, if we’re talking about vegans in a society dominated by meat -eaters, there’s some truth in this myth. Vegans are rejecting mores of the established society and advocating nonviolence, at least against farm animals. As for being young, dressing unconventionally, living communally, having long hair or, as found in other online definitions of hippies, taking hallucinogenic drugs, we’d need to evaluate vegans on a case-by-case basis. Vegans are weak. You’d better not say that to Bryant Jennings, pro boxer, or karate expert Tammy Fry Kelly — they just might take you out. Then, there are the vegan charismatic megafauna, like gorillas and elephants . “There is no shortage of athletes and fitness enthusiasts who thrive on a vegan diet,” Ozgur said. “Plant-based foods can speed up muscle recovery time and decrease inflammation due to their high amount of antioxidants and phytonutrients.” She recommends the documentary movie Game Changers to see just how strong vegans can be. If I went vegan, I’d always be hungry/tired/sick. Not true, as long as you’re eating enough. “ If you decrease your daily calorie intake to below your body’s requirement, indeed you will be hungry, tired, sick and eventually dead,” Ozgur explained. “Choosing a colorful variety of whole plant foods nourishes your body and cells, thus increasing your immunity and longevity. Chronic inflammation is linked to a variety of diseases, and numerous studies have confirmed that a plant-rich diet high in fiber is beneficial for disease prevention.” If everybody went vegan, cows and pigs would go extinct. What would happen if every paddock door was opened — if all the chickens pecking each other’s eyes out in tiny cages were freed; if farmed fish were tossed into rivers? Would sheep starve? Would hogs take over the world? “Billions of farm animals would no longer be destined for our dinner plates, and if we couldn’t return them to the wild, they might be slaughtered, abandoned or taken care of in sanctuaries,” journalist Paul Allen wrote on BBC’s Good Food website. “Or, more realistically, farmers might slow down breeding as demand for meat falls.” Allen theorized that the number of returned animal populations would fluctuate, then eventually reach a balance, depending on predators and available resources. “It’s worth noting that not all animals could simply ‘go free.’ Some farm breeds, such as broiler chickens, are now so far removed from their ancestors that they couldn’t survive in the wild. Others, like pigs and sheep, could feasibly return to woodlands and grazing pastures and find their own natural population levels.” Plants feel pain, too, so it’s just as bad to eat them. According to Jack C. Schultz, professor in the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri in Columbia, plants “are just very slow animals.” They fight for territory, seek food, trap prey and evade predators, he said. It’s possible they feel pain, too, despite lacking a central nervous system, nerves or a brain. However, is it as unkind to eat a tomato as a cow? Everybody draws the line somewhere. For some people, all non-human animals are fair game. Many others think it’s okay to eat a cow but not a dog or cat. Vegans just draw that line even higher. As the PETA website points out, “We have to eat — it’s a matter of survival. And eating plants directly — rather than feeding them to animals and then killing those animals for their flesh — requires far fewer plants and doesn’t hurt animals, who, we already know for sure , feel pain.” If men eat tofu, they’ll grow breasts. Ozgur assured this won’t happen. “There is no valid medical evidence supporting men increasing breast size from eating soy foods,” she said. “This myth surfaced over 10 years ago when a man was diagnosed with gynecomastia from drinking three quarts of soy milk per day. Upon discontinuing his soy milk intake, his breast tenderness resolved. Asian men consume soy daily, yet do not experience gynecomastia.” Ozgur recommends choosing organic whole soy foods and avoiding soy protein isolates or fractionated soy ingredients. Images via Shutterstock and Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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10 vegan myths, debunked

Handsome timber chalet shows off the beauty of modern minimalism

June 12, 2017 by  
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The charms of simplicity are celebrated in this beautiful timber chalet tucked in the Alps of eastern France. Designed by French architecture firm Studio Razavi , the recently completed Mountain House carefully sidesteps cookie-cutter design with its modern interpretation of the traditional alpine chalet. Located in the French village of Manigod in a popular ski destination, the Mountain House was subject to strict building codes that the architects say allowed for “very little freedom of architectural expression.” Local guidelines dictated numerous design aspects, including building height and width ratio, roof slope, building material , and even window sizes, in order to preserve the region’s traditional vernacular. The architects skillfully overcame these obstacles by studying the historical buildings and then producing a code compliant design that put a contemporary twist on the local architectural culture. The 200-square-meter Mountain House features the traditional three-story chalet layout with a pitched roof. Unlike its neighbors, however, the new holiday home sits on a lower level made of concrete rather than stone and doesn’t include the ornamental elements that adorn many of the homes in the valley. Related: Mind-bending mountain chalet looks as if it could tip over at any moment The Mountain Home only includes the essential features, making for a simple and utilitarian, yet beautiful design. Pine clads the first and second floor and untreated timber planks line the interior. A few painted surfaces and textures, such as the artificial stone tiles in the bathroom and dark carpet flooring, break up the largely timber palette. Large windows flood the home with natural light while several overhangs protect against harsh sun. + Studio Razavi Via Dezeen Images © Olivier Martin Gambier

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Handsome timber chalet shows off the beauty of modern minimalism

Swiss resident begins peddling jars of Alps mountain air starting at $97

March 5, 2017 by  
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Got an extra $97 lying around? With that money you can now purchase a jar of fresh mountain air from Switzerland . Resident John Green has started collecting air from the Alps and peddling it online, saying “the air in the mountains is like champagne [so] I decided I had better start selling it.” Born in London, Green says he’s resided in Switzerland for 20 years. He’s now decided to sell that fresh Swiss air from his website MountainAirFromSwitzerland.com , in three sizes. A pint costs $97, a quart $167, and a 3/4 gallon jar will run you $247. He includes a certificate of authenticity with each purchase, and captures the air in what he describes as a secret location. “Let’s just say it’s collected by a babbling mountain stream, fed by melt water from a famous glacier , near a very famous mountain,” says the website. Related: Australian entrepreneurs are selling canned fresh air to polluted China But anyone brave enough to shell out that money will also get GPS coordinates, according to the website, so they can pinpoint the location of their air on a map. Green suggests owners put the jar in the freezer first for the full effect should the owner decide to open the jar. On the website he says, “I seriously feel almost reborn every time I go to the Alps and breath the fresh air; there’s definitely something magic in that air. So get your little bit of magic right here, right now!” Green even says he’s donating 25 percent of profits to World Vision . He told The Local, a Swedish publication, “I know it’s a bit crazy but it’s a fun idea and it helps give some money to a charity that I think is deserving.” As for the price, he said he wants to make the business sustainable and must consider the costs of shipping the air worldwide. “And also don’t forget, it’s Swiss air! Everything in Switzerland is expensive.” When asked if anyone had been willing to purchase the air, he said, “It’s starting slowly, let’s put it like that!” + Mountain Air from Switzerland Via The Local Images via Wikimedia Commons and Mountain Air from Switzerland

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Swiss resident begins peddling jars of Alps mountain air starting at $97

Elevated glass-bottomed pool gives thrill-seekers dramatic alpine views

November 18, 2016 by  
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The dramatic cantilevered pool is one of many additions in NOA’s renovation of Hotel Hubertus, completed May 2016. The new accommodation wing, which includes 16 new suites and facilities, is visually connected to the old accommodation wing by the pool, which sits between the two. The sky infinity pool appears to float weightlessly in the landscape, hovering 12 meters above ground, and successfully passes on that gravity-defying feeling to swimmers thanks to a glazed front, a glass window at the bottom of the pool, and no view-obstructing barriers. The pool has a width of 5 meters, a length of 25 meters, and a depth of 1.3 meters. A 17-meter length of the pool juts out from the front of the hotel to overlook spectacular views of the Dolomites . Trunks of native larch trees stripped of bark support the pool. “The new pool , which imposingly rests in-between the two accommodation wings, seems like a floating rock, come to rest at the site, overlooking the valley,” write the architects. “The hidden edges of the pool, kept in anthracite-coloured stone, abolish the gap between pool and landscape, creating the impression of the water flowing into nothing, disappearing between pool and landscape. The pool metaphorically reminds of a mountain lake, nestled into the astonishing mountainscape of the UNESCO World Heritage site , the Dolomites…” Related: Glass-bottomed sky pool will be suspended 115 feet in the air To create a uniform appearance between the existing building and the new build, the architects added native larch tree trunks to the facade. The debarked trunks were installed in a rhythmic, alternating pattern and double as sun screens , room dividers, and rain protectors. New perforated, powder-coated metal balustrades replaced the old wooden ones and enhance the wings’ curved forms shaped to follow the existing topography. + NOA Via Dezeen Images via NOA

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Elevated glass-bottomed pool gives thrill-seekers dramatic alpine views

This colorful Bienenhaus is a bee castle that provides sanctuary for 16 beehives

June 9, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of This colorful Bienenhaus is a bee castle that provides sanctuary for 16 beehives Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: alps , apiary , bee hives , beekeeping , bees , Bienenhaus #3 , honey , honeybees , italy , Massimiliano Dell’Olivo , small structures , wooden structure

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This colorful Bienenhaus is a bee castle that provides sanctuary for 16 beehives

INFOGRAPHIC: 33 Clever tricks to make any tiny space feel bigger

June 9, 2015 by  
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Wish you could expand your house without paying for a costly renovation? Vanessa Arbuthnott has you covered with this infographic featuring 33 clever tricks for making any small space feel bigger. Whether it’s a studio bedroom that needs some extra space or a cluttered kitchen, these tips are perfect for all the major rooms of your house. Even better, these helpful and low-cost suggestions are accompanied by short explanations that break down how a certain color change or proposed organization style can make a big difference. Read the rest of INFOGRAPHIC: 33 Clever tricks to make any tiny space feel bigger Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: infographic , reader submitted content , space-saving , space-saving tricks , Vanessa Arbuthnott

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