Surfing trip leads to 4Ocean cleaning coastlines around the world

June 20, 2019 by  
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This is the story of how plastic , local fishermen, a bracelet and two surfers have created a recipe to clean up the massive plastic debris in oceans and along coastlines around the world. Alex Schulze and Andrew Cooper took a surfing trip to Bali that would change their lives and the future of the planet. The post-college trip opened their eyes to the growing problem of ocean plastic. While attempting to enjoy the beach and waves, Alex and Andrew found themselves literally wading through plastic. A local lifeguard told them that the plastic washes ashore each and every day. Related: Ocean explorer finds plastic waste during world’s deepest dive The lightbulb went off when the duo saw some local fisherman dragging their boats through mounds of plastic as they headed out to work. With capable boat captains and deckhands already heading into the water each day, Alex and Andrew decided to find a way to give them a new job to do. So, they began paying the crews to retrieve plastic instead of fish. As before, the boats went out each morning, but when they returned, the nets had hauled in a different load— plastic. As the movement continued to grow, more locals joined the crews and 4Ocean was officially born. This business plan is not only effective in cleaning up the beaches and ocean , but is also providing sustainable jobs for the local community. What began as a focus on Bali has now evolved with the company’s direct involvement in cleaning up the coastlines of 27 countries so far. With boats and payroll expenses growing around the globe, the founders needed a way to fund the business and they found it in the creation of the 4Ocean bracelet, made from recycled waste materials pulled directly from the ocean. The bracelets are hand assembled on the island of Bali, providing additional work in the community. Recycled plastic is sourced to make the beads on each bracelet. The attached charm is made from recycled stainless steel. They are unisex, adjustable and 100 percent waterproof to appeal to just about anyone. The cord is made from recycled water bottles and although the blue cord is the original, they feature a different color monthly— each representing an endangered sea animal . For example, June is the leatherback sea turtle. Each featured bracelet provides information that aims to raise awareness about these threatened animals and the harm from ocean pollution . Bracelets are priced at $20 and are packaged in eco-friendly materials. The purchase of each bracelet funds the removal of one pound of plastic from the ocean. “Buy a bracelet, pull a pound.” + 4Ocean Images via 4Ocean

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Surfing trip leads to 4Ocean cleaning coastlines around the world

Floridians break world record for largest underwater cleanup

June 18, 2019 by  
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The coastal city of Deerfield, Florida made headlines this weekend for hosting the world’s largest underwater cleanup. This year, for the city’s 15th annual cleanup event, 633 divers gathered on the beach to scuba dive and collect more than 1,500 pounds of debris. By the number of divers participating, this cleanup is officially the largest in the world. Divers traveled internationally and from all over the country to participate in the event, and a Guinness Book of World Records officiant was on-site to confirm that the event indeed broke the previous record held by divers in the Red Sea. Led by an Egyptian diver, the Red Sea event in 2015 included 614 divers from around the world. Related: Baby turtles officially return to the beaches of Mumbai after largest beach cleanup in history The Florida cleanup event was hosted by Dixie Divers and the Deerfield Beach Women’s Club. According to one of the event planners, Tyler Bourgoine, “It was a great time … Everyone was working together and cleaning up one part of the reef or pier.” The group launched the event from a fishing pier on Deerfield Beach. Much of the debris collected was related to the fishing activities off the pier and in the area. Throughout the world, abandoned fishing gear remains an enormous percentage of marine litter. In the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — thought to be the largest collection of trash in all of the oceans at 79,000 metric tons — the majority of the debris is abandoned fishing gear. The cleanup is a small but important step to reducing over 8 million metric tons of trash that is estimated to enter the ocean every year and cause obscene damage to marine mammals, birds and other wildlife . Via EcoWatch Image via Shutterstock

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Floridians break world record for largest underwater cleanup

5 Must-Haves for an Eco-Friendly Beach Trip

June 17, 2019 by  
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It just isn’t summer without a trip to the beach. … The post 5 Must-Haves for an Eco-Friendly Beach Trip appeared first on Earth911.com.

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5 Must-Haves for an Eco-Friendly Beach Trip

Canada to ban single-use plastics by 2021

June 11, 2019 by  
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Canada is the latest country to follow the European Union’s ambitious ban of single-use plastics, which will go into effect by 2021. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the upcoming ban, which still has details to iron out, in an attempt to address the marine litter crisis. The announcement also comes months before the election this fall, during which political experts expect climate change to take center stage. Less than 10 percent of all plastics in Canada are recycled, with 300 million tons thrown out every year. This recycling rate is similar in the United States, the largest plastic consumer in the world, where about 9 percent of plastics are recycled. In every corner of the globe, plastic waste is reaching the ocean and wreaking havoc on marine species from sea turtles to fish and whales. Related: Have your plastic and eat it too – average American ingests 50,000 microplastic particles a year To put it into perspective for citizens, Prime Minister Trudeau explained, “As parents, we’re at a point when we take our kids to the beach and we have to search out a patch of sand that isn’t littered with straws, Styrofoam or bottles. That’s a problem, one that we have to do something about.” Legislators have yet to announce exactly which single-use plastics will be banned, but the list could include cutlery, straws, plates, stir sticks and bags. Throughout the European Union, plastic bags, cutlery, cotton balls, stir sticks and balloon sticks will be outlawed in 2021, with a reduction in plastic cups and other food-related plastics also going into effect. The ban legislation is also expected to detail regulations for companies that produce significant plastic waste . The policy will hold companies accountable and mandate they develop targets and responsible waste management plans. Prime Minister Trudeau’s environmental policy may help his chances for re-election this fall, as voters are increasingly concerned about the environment and climate change . Via The BBC Image via Fotoblend

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Canada to ban single-use plastics by 2021

New York Botanical Garden’s new artist residencies connect people with plants

May 10, 2019 by  
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Despite its irrefutable success — founded in 1891 and now receiving one million visitors a year — the New York Botanical Garden’s staff tirelessly finds innovative ways to stimulate visitors’ connection to nature. This year, it launched a new artist residency program, inviting internationally acclaimed visual artist Michele Oka Doner and sought-after composer Angélica Negrón to be the first participants. “People come to nature in different ways,” Barbara Corcoran, NYBG’s vice president for continuing and public education, told Inhabitat. “Some people come to the garden and they’re very observant, they really see the plants, they read the labels, and they have quite a good knowledge. They’re gardeners themselves or they’re naturalists.” Others might need extra help connecting. “ Music and art are two ways to do that,” she said. Carrie Rebora Barratt, who became CEO and president of the garden in 2018, came up with the residency idea. Her training as an art historian and museum administrator and her previous position at the Metropolitan Museum of Art had shown her the value of artist residencies. Michele Oka Doner Love of nature fuels Michele Oka Doner’s five decades of artwork. This is apparent as soon as you walk into her SoHo studio. “It’s like a treasure trove of nature,” Corcoran said. “She’s a collector of natural objects and archaeological finds like fossils and little bird skulls, like dozens of them, and old stone tools and shells and nature books. So this is like a laboratory. When you go there, you really get to see what she’s all about.” Doner’s past works include “A Walk on the Beach,” composed of 9,000 bronze starfish, sand dollars, coral and other sea-inspired sculptures embedded in the concourse at Miami International Airport. Her installation at the Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory in Munich includes 400 shamanistic sculptures . She’s still developing her ideas for the site-specific work she’ll create at the New York Botanical Garden . Related: Second Nature transforms abandoned fishing nets into 3D-printed seashells and bowls On June 12, Doner will give a free talk at the garden called “Ecstatic Nutrition: The Trees of My Life” about three trees that greatly influenced her. “It kicks off our Wellness Wednesdays, which we have through the summer,” Corcoran said.  “Michele is a close observer of nature and a fine storyteller. She has this kind of enchantment with the natural world and its sacredness, and it really comes across. I think it will be very inspiring to hear her talk.” Angélica Negrón Composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón is a classically trained violinist who is well-known for her electronic music. Much of her work includes nontraditional instruments, such as toys, music boxes and electrodes hooked up to vegetables. A YouTube video shows Negrón in a market, lining up vegetables on a shelf to gauge their aesthetic as well as musical potential.  “I try to find vegetables or fruits that match the textures of the songs. I do love cauliflower, Romanesco broccoli, vegetables that have kind of design element. I call it a vegetable synth,” she said in the video. “I try to coordinate it so it all looks like part of the same instrument.” Corcoran said that both artists are interested in science and technology. Negrón has met with a New York Botanical Garden scientist and horticulturalist to learn more about tree communication. “ Trees communicate largely through their roots,” Corcoran said. “That’s all very fascinating to her.” Negrón has already performed twice at the garden, delighting the public with her vegetable synth. “She assigns each vegetable with a different note,” Corcoran explained. “And then when she touches them, the water in those fruits and plants and vegetables conduct the electricity that creates the notes. By tapping different vegetables, she creates a musical piece.” She also adds in acoustic and electronic instruments and found sounds for a result Corcoran describes as “soothing and mesmerizing.” Negrón’s residency will culminate in November with a world-premiere performance in the Thain Family Forest. “We’ll have several choruses here,” Corcoran said. “So it’s a mix of live choral music with sounds that are coming from the trees. I think that’s going to be a real artistic happening that you wouldn’t want to miss if you’re in New York in the fall. Plus, it’s in the old growth forest at a beautiful time of year.” Visiting the garden The New York Botanical Garden is open Tuesday through Sunday year-round, plus occasional holiday Mondays. In addition to leisurely strolling and soaking up the beauty, there’s always something going on. Activities range from the extremely practical — learning to repot orchids — to something as celebratory as the Brazil-themed World Pride Night in June. The botanical garden is a vital center for plant research. Its herbarium contains 7.8 million specimens, and it employs about 200 PhD-level scientists and support staff who travel the world to collect plants and bring them back for study. But most of all, it’s a place where busy urbanites can spend time in nature . “It’s a real oasis for people,” Corcoran said. “And I think now more than ever, people need that.” + New York Botanical Garden Images via NYBG and Ben Hider / NYBG

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New York Botanical Garden’s new artist residencies connect people with plants

Minimalist home in northern Spain uses geothermal energy to reduce energy consumption

May 10, 2019 by  
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There are few things we love more than a gorgeous minimalist design that boasts energy-efficiency features, and Barcelona-based firm, Pepe Gascón Arquitectura,  has managed to combine the two beautifully. Located just east of Barcelona, the Elvira&Marcos House is a minimalist, all-white rectangular volume with slender windows, surrounded by a natural landscape of overgrown grass and wildflowers. The home’s minimalist design conceals an extremely tight insulative shell and geothermal energy system to reduce the home’s energy consumption. The 2,475 square foot home was built on a lot that was slated for development years ago, before Spain’s economy was hit by the economic crisis. Today, the Elvira & Marcos home is the only residence in the area, adding a touch of mysterious solitude to the gorgeous home design. Related: Geothermal-powered Forest House showcases sustainable features in Maryland The all-white, rectangular-shaped home is surrounded by a plot made up of overgrown greenery that partially hides the home from view. According to the architects, leaving the landscape in its wild state was a strategic move to create “a house with a clear geometry but without resorting to unnecessary gestures, offering a forceful interpretation with a certain neutrality in the midst of the surrounding heterogeneity.” The exterior of the home is made out of flexible stucco finish that comes with an integral Exterior Thermal Insulation System (SATE), creating a tight insulative shell for the structure. In addition to the exterior insulation, the SATE system was also used in the roof to avoid energy-wasting thermal bridges. The end result is an extremely tight envelope, that, together with a geothermal energy system installed, drastically reduces the home’s energy consumption. The interior of the three-story home is connected by an large interior steel staircase that holds court in the middle of the kitchen. The home’s minimalist aesthetic continues throughout the home’s open layout with all-white walls and a continuous concrete floor. Natural light shines into the living area from the slender slat windows— which is made even more open and airy thanks to its double height ceilings. + Pepe Gascón Arquitectura Via Design Milk Photography by Aitor Estévez via Pepe Gascón Arquitectura  

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Minimalist home in northern Spain uses geothermal energy to reduce energy consumption

This Costa Rican treehouse is built entirely out of locally sourced teak wood

May 9, 2019 by  
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There’s a good reason why this beautiful, natural wood treehouse blends in perfectly to its surroundings on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica — the entire structure was built using the trees from the property site. Nestled in the jungle and complete with ocean views, the house, designed by Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig , was inspired by the owners’ love for surfing and environmentalism. There are three floors to the treehouse , with the top floor visible from above the tree canopy, and the bottom two levels hidden among the dense trees. Occupants are able to check the surf at nearby Playa Hermosa Beach from the comfort of the top floor. Related: A rustic, surfside home connects a young family to the beach Wood has the power to be a green, renewable resource when used with sustainability in mind. Nowadays, there are plenty of companies that offer certifiably sustainable wood that comes from forests that are responsibly managed to avoid things like erosion, pollutants and habitat loss. Locally harvested trees, like the ones used to build this surfer’s treehouse, can reduce the environmental impact of construction projects. Apart from contributing to social aspects of sustainability by utilizing local employment, green construction using locally harvested trees also helps to minimize carbon emissions from transportation. The designers took advantage of the natural sea breezes and tropic environment through the passive , open-air design of the structure. The lush vegetation is accessible from the bottom floor, which opens to a courtyard that helps blend the house into its setting. A double-screen shutter system, also made of teak wood, allows the two bottom floors to either open up to the elements, ventilation and natural light, or close to provide privacy. The treehouse is powered using a 3.5 kW solar array, and a rainwater collection system helps reduce the house’s  carbon footprint . In the evenings, the lights shine through the slatted walls to create an ethereal glow that shimmers through the thick leaves and trees that surround the property, making this unique treehouse an even more beautiful addition to the area. + Tom Kundig Photography by Nic Lehoux via Olson Kundig

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This Costa Rican treehouse is built entirely out of locally sourced teak wood

This futuristic, solar-powered travel trailer can be pulled by small cars

April 22, 2019 by  
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There’s no dispute that travel trailers are gaining popularity among those looking to get off the grid and use fewer natural resources, especially while enjoying activities such as camping and road tripping. At 760 pounds and just over 12 feet in length, the Polydrop trailer is an impressive option for your next adventure. Created by architectural designer Kyung-Hyun Lew, this travel trailer has a lightweight frame and sleeps two people comfortably. For the minimalist traveler, it has pretty much all the essentials. The 2017 prototype was so lightweight that the designer was able to travel for an entire year with the personal trailer hitched to a small 4-cylinder car. The attention gained from Lew’s initial 2017 trip influenced the newer 2019 version with improved parts. Inside the wooden cabin bolted to the aluminum frame, there is a three-quarter-sized mattress, three sections of storage cubbies, two USB outlets and a vented roof. The interior is lit with recessed  LED lighting , and thick insulation protects inhabitants from all sorts of weather while saving energy. Heating (controlled by a thermostat), lighting and the electronic system are all powered by a solar panel. Related: Lume Traveler offers panoramic sky views from an open roof There is also a kitchenette with cabinets for electric hookups as well as two storage drawers in the rear. Unlike other travel trailers , the Polydrop doesn’t leave much room for the kitchen space, but the makers insisted that it has all the essentials for a camping trip at a site with separate facilities, like restrooms and benches, available. This isn’t your grandfather’s travel trailer — the Polydrop makes use of a polygonized teardrop shape with a super modern design and a futuristic feel. Safety wise, Timbren Independent suspension and hydraulic disk brakes get the job done for safe driveability. For the unfussy traveler who just needs a place to rest and some storage, the Polydrop certainly offers a successful approach to camping and road-tripping. The simplicity with a sleek, modern design is perfect for those looking for something not quite as bulky as a traditional travel trailer but more comfortable than a tent. + Polydrop Via Curbed Images via Polydrop

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This futuristic, solar-powered travel trailer can be pulled by small cars

We tested the GoSun Go solar oven heres what we thought

April 22, 2019 by  
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The idea of cooking a delicious meal just by using the power of the sun is enticing, and GoSun Go is making it happen with its line of solar ovens. We’ve talked about the design before and checked them out at CES , but it wasn’t until recently that we were able to get our hands on one of these bad boys to test it out. From veggie burgers and baked sweet potato to mixed-berry muffins, coffee and oatmeal, we tried cooking a wide variety of foods in this portable, solar-powered oven. Here’s what happened . Setting up the GoSun Go When we removed the GoSun Go from the box, we were a little surprised by how simple it looked. It features a basic fabric case plus a plastic kickstand that admittedly felt a bit flimsy. The glass tube, however, was sturdy, and we liked the small silicone molds that hold food for easy clean-up. Cooking in the cold We scheduled to cook outside on what was supposed to be a warm, sunny day. In a surprising twist, especially for L.A. , we ended up with a chilly breeze and rain. Still, we trekked outside, solar oven tucked under an arm, and set up to boil water to make instant coffee and banana nut oatmeal. The trick to heating liquids in the GoSun Go is to stand the oven up vertically using the plastic kickstand attachment. It is also important to try to line the oven up with the sun, which was of course hard on a mostly cloudy day. During one of our rounds of gently rotating the oven for more light, the kickstand did give out — the plastic attachment is not very sturdy. Related: GoSun unveils solar cooker that lets you serve up some sizzling meals at night After about 100 or so minutes, condensation was visible on the glass and the water was nearly hot. Granted, we did this in cloudy, rainy weather, so it makes sense that it took so long. Still, it did make the water hot enough to make coffee and oatmeal that were both tolerable; the oatmeal was a bit chewy, but it did cook a little bit from the water we had warmed up in the solar cooker. If you were camping, hiking or participating in some other outdoor adventure, the GoSun Go is not your best bet in clouds and rain. While it does work, be ready to set an hour or more aside, as it takes a lot of time. Luckily, in optimal conditions, the GoSun Go is really impressive. Putting the solar oven through the ultimate tests Our next set of tests took place on a warm, sunny SoCal day. We had multiple ovens, so we decided to test as many foods as possible, from fresh and frozen veggies , to savory, plant-based proteins and sweet, berry-flavored muffins. In one oven, we tested a frozen veggie patty in one silicone mold, and fresh sweet potatoes and frozen broccoli and cauliflower in the other. In the second oven, to appease some of the meat-eaters with us, we tested ground beef in one mold and fresh broccoli and canned corn in another. For the last oven, we placed two silicone molds full of instant berry muffin mix (which just required water, an easy treat to make while camping ). Each oven can hold two of the silicone molds at once. After about 25 minutes, the muffins had risen considerably, and there was condensation on the inside of the ovens’ glass tubes. We also noticed around this time that the light breeze was enough to topple the ovens, knocking them away from the sun. Related: How to make a meal out of leftover veggies At the 34-minute mark, the muffins were just about ready to eat. The frozen veggies were done cooking, and the sweet potato was close to being finished. The veggie patty needed a bit longer, and the beef was brown but not finished either. We also rotated the ovens at this point for more direct sunlight. We checked everything again at one hour, and it was all cooked! Some things, of course, were a bit overcooked at this point. There was some charring (the tasty kind), and it all smelled delicious. The gross part, though, is that the beef juices leaked out onto the cloth carrier, which was quite difficult to remove. Taste tests As far as taste goes, we were impressed. The veggies, whether frozen, fresh or canned, were all soft and delicious. Some of the broccoli and potatoes had nice charring for extra flavor, similar to roasting veggies in a standard oven. The veggie patty was a bit dry on the outside, likely from overcooking on our part, but the inside was a little wet. It didn’t seem to cook evenly in this regard. The muffins were pretty yummy despite being a little dry. Many of the items we tested were chosen based on the booklet included with the GoSun Go. This booklet offers expected cook times for many types of food, which we found were a tad optimistic, yet not completely off. Another claim of this solar oven is that it can hold six hot dogs. After getting a look at the GoSun Go, we thought, “No way! Too small!”…So naturally, we put it to the test. Guess what? You really can cook for a crowd, even with this small oven, because we were able to jam six hot dogs into it. It wasn’t easy, but it can be done. We placed the oven under a bright, full sun, and they should have taken 10 minutes to cook. After 30 minutes, they were darker, but our resident meat-eater found that they really could have stayed in for even longer. If you wanted to try just one or two hot dogs, they would probably cook in 10-15 minutes, but jamming six into the tube does require quite a bit more time. Final thoughts All in all, the GoSun Go is pretty impressive. If you have access to a traditional oven or a campfire, we’d recommend cooking through those means. But the solar oven is handy, especially for times when you are hiking, camping or boating and you cannot start a fire. We also plan to take it to the beach! If you need to cook a lot of food, you might try checking out a bigger solar oven, as this model can only make a small batch of food at a time. For $139 a pop, it also might not be practical to purchase multiple. For solo trips, this can cook some pretty complex, flavorful meals that you might not otherwise be able to enjoy. We say — give it a go! + GoSun Images via GoSun

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We tested the GoSun Go solar oven heres what we thought

LEED Platinum fire station is powered with solar energy in Seattle

April 11, 2019 by  
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The north end of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood has recently become home to a new, contemporary fire station that’s also a beacon for sustainability. Certified LEED Platinum, Fire Station 22 was designed by local architectural practice Weinstein A+U to harvest solar power, as well as rainwater , which is used for all of the station’s non-potable water uses. The building also has an enhanced civic presence with a super-scaled and illuminated “22” on its facade and large walls of glass that invite the neighborhood in. Due to its location on a long and narrow corner lot confined by two freeways and a heavily trafficked road, Fire Station 22 forgoes the conventional back-in configuration in favor of a drive-through layout for better visibility and safety. However, this configuration and the constraints of the space meant that the two-story support and crew spaces needed to be put at the front of the site, thus blocking views of the fire station’s apparatus bay, which has always traditionally been visible to the public. To reengage the community, the architects added a public plaza at the main entry, a super-scaled “22” sign on the concrete hose-drying tower and a glazed lobby and station office. “The station needs to mediate this complex site while maintaining rigorous programmatic requirements and balancing users’ desire for privacy,” said the architects , who completed the project as the last full-building replacement project under the 2003 Fire Facilities and Emergency Response Levy. “It does so with a sculptural facade along E. Roanoke Street, which provides privacy for the building’s users while creating pedestrian interest and texture. The station opens up to the future 520 Lid at the northeast corner, with a fully glazed lobby, the iconic Apparatus Bay egress doors, and a hose tower that acts as a landmark on the singular site.” Related: LEED Platinum fire station boosts firefighter wellness in Seattle Built to meet current program standards, Fire Station 22 features highly efficient mechanical and plumbing systems in addition to a solar PV system and rainwater harvesting systems. The project has earned three 2018 AIA Merit Awards. + Weinstein A+U Images by Lara Swimmer

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LEED Platinum fire station is powered with solar energy in Seattle

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