Adorable baby gorilla wants you to recycle your phone

February 21, 2020 by  
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The first lowland gorilla born in the Los Angeles Zoo in 20 years is building her fan base while raising awareness about the connection between cell phone manufacturing and critically endangered gorilla populations. Baby Angela was born last month to mom N’dijia and dad Kelly. Along with Rapunzel and Evelyn, the LA Zoo is now home to five western lowland gorillas. This species is native to Central African Republic, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Because only about 100,000 western lowland gorillas still survive in the wild, any new baby is cause for celebration. Related: Hope for mountain gorillas — new census results reveal the population is increasing Female lowland gorillas typically give birth every six to seven years in the wild. But the stress of captivity often short-circuits normal breeding habits. So far, mom and baby seem extremely bonded, zookeepers told the Today Show. N’dijia carries Angela around constantly, and Kelly shows affection by sniffing the baby and sometimes putting his lips against her. Gorillas in the wild face many dangers, including poachers, diseases, such as Ebola, and mining operations. While these threats may seem far away from the life of the average city dweller, most humans have a direct tie to gorillas through their cell phones. The Congo Basin is rich in coltan, a black metallic ore used in mobile phone manufacturing. Not only do miners disrupt gorilla life and ruin habitats, the miners — who are often there illegally — hunt wildlife, including gorillas, for food. Recycling your old cell phones is an easy way to help gorillas. A recycling company called ECO-CELL partners with primate conservation groups including Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE), the Jane Goodall Institute and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. Many zoos in the U.S. and Canada collect phones for ECO-CELL. So far, the company has recycled about 1 million cell phones. Phones that still work are sometimes reused by gorilla care staff and in veterinary labs. “ECO-CELL’s focus is squarely on the informed consumer piece,” Eric Ronay, founder of ECO-CELL, told Mongabay . “If we can reach consumers en masse, especially young consumers, and inspire them to demand ethical, gorilla-safe products, then the entire electronics landscape will change dramatically.” + LA Zoo Via Mongabay and Today Image by Jamie Pham via LA Zoo

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Adorable baby gorilla wants you to recycle your phone

MVRDV to revive complex with BREEAM-certified groundscraper

February 21, 2020 by  
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MVRDV  has unveiled designs for a BREEAM Excellent-certified office building in Amsterdam as part of a redevelopment plan for the Tripolis office complex, a project created by celebrated Dutch architect Aldo van Eyck and long considered a commercial failure. In addition to the renovation of the old buildings and the addition of a park, the Tripolis Park project will feature a new 11-story “groundscraper” office block that will stretch along the site’s south boundary to unite the campus while protecting the complex from the noise of the adjacent A10 highway. Ever since its completion in 1994, the Tripolis complex has struggled to attract tenants despite its eye-catching wood-and-granite facades and colorful window frames. In 2019, the complex was granted Municipal Monument status and grouped with the nearby Amsterdam Orphanage, a 1960 masterwork also by Van Eyck, and has since attracted new attention. Tapped to make the complex commercially viable, MVRDV was invited to sensitively renovate the Van Eyck structures while injecting new life onto the grounds with a  mixed-use  program and new construction.  At the heart of the redevelopment project is the new 31,500-square-meter,  solar -powered office block that will sit along the southern boundary and feature an indented facade informed by the complex geometry of two of the existing Tripolis buildings. An interior public route will be created between the new and old structures and enclosed by glass walls, bridges, and stairs to join the buildings into a unified whole. In addition to updating the office spaces inside the old buildings, the architects will green the project with new roof gardens and a new park. The third Tripolis building, located on the north side of the site and physically separated from the others, will be transformed into affordable rental apartments.  Related: Tencent gets proposal from MVRDV for green smart city “The new building guards and shelters the existing Tripolis complex as it were, thanks to the protective layer we create,” Winy Maas, MVRDV Founding Partner, explained. “We literally echo Tripolis, as if it was imprinting its neighbour. The space between will be given a public dimension and will be accessible to passers-by. As a visionary in his time, Aldo already saw  office  spaces as meeting places. I want to continue that idea by promoting interaction between the two buildings in various ways.” + MVRDV Images by Proloog and MVRDV

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MVRDV to revive complex with BREEAM-certified groundscraper

What do Americans think about fake meat products?

February 21, 2020 by  
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The topic of how we produce food is commonplace and more relevant than ever. After all, the way we choose to grow produce affects waterways, soil and air, which in turn, affects each of us. When it comes to raising animals for meat, the stakes are even higher. Report after report doles out alarming numbers regarding pollution related to the practice. Plus, animal activists frequently remind us about how animals are treated when they are raised as food sources. The rise of fake meat With all of this in mind, it’s no wonder that food scientists have been investing copious research and development time, money and energy into finding meat alternatives. Some have already been around for decades, while new alternatives are consistently hitting the market. Although beef replacements are the most common, you can find pork, chicken and even fish alternatives. Related: Vegan and lab-grown meats predicted to take over meat market in 20 years Opinions on meat substitutes So what do people actually think about this “fake meat” phenomenon? A research group called Piplsay posed the question nationwide in a January 2020 survey and received 31,909 responses from individuals aged 18 years and older. The results show an overwhelming interest in the products and an underwhelming satisfaction. Specifically, 51% of Americans have tried meat substitute products at least once, a majority of which (53%) said they tried it because they were curious. Another 32% responded they tried it due to a concern for the environment or for their health . Others say they are trying to go vegan or vegetarian and were wondering if the meat substitute would satisfy the longing for meat (15%). Why are people trying fake meat? The results show there are a variety of reasons people try or continue to consume fake meat, none of which seem to be because they actually prefer the taste. In fact, out of 31,909 responses, fewer than 30% gave the products a thumbs up. When it comes to health, the debate rages on to whether fake meat has anything to offer. Even though 27% felt fake meat was a healthy and eco-friendly alternative, a slightly larger 28% felt these meat alternatives can’t beat real meat. Another 20% suggest the products are highly processed, counterbalancing any potential benefits from avoiding meat. A quarter of the respondents said they didn’t know what to think of them. Related: Beyond & Impossible alternative meats — are they healthier than the real thing? The most popular brands for meat substitutes When Piplsay asked people what brands they had tried, a group of big names were, not surprisingly, in the top five. Seven percent of respondents had tried Hormel, and another 7% tried Perdue brands. Impossible Foods is relatively new to the market, but at the time of this survey, 11% of respondents had tried it. Tyson garnered another 13%, and the most-frequently tried products are produced by Beyond Meat (15%). The type of meat substitute that people were interested in trying varied, too, with beef being the most popular at 38%. Chicken came in at 29%. There was a significant drop for pork at 18%, but it is a newer product to the market. Finally, fish swam in at just 15%. Study demographics One interesting result of the survey is that there didn’t seem to be a huge geographical discrepancy. The top three states where fake meat is consumed “quite often” are Washington (18%), South Dakota (20%) and Vermont (26%). These numbers don’t represent the populations as a whole, but rather the frequency of respondents who say they eat fake meat quite often, which is 12% of overall respondents. In contrast, 23% said they’ve had it once or twice and 16% admit they’ve only had it once. Age is one category where the survey highlights fairly large differences. Millennials are by far the most likely to eat fake meat on a regular basis. Although only 16% of millennials eat fake meat regularly, that’s twice the reported number from baby boomers, at only 8%. Not only do millennials rank the highest for consuming the products, but their reason for doing so stands out as well. The report shows that 23% of millennials eat fake meat for health and environmental reasons , which is highest among the age groups. In contrast, the age group with the largest number of people saying they have no interest in even trying fake meat goes to the baby boomers, with 52% opposed to the idea. The fake meat trend has room for improvement All in all, the survey revealed that while many people are interested in trying, have tried or regularly consume meat alternatives, most people feel these products leave more to be desired in terms of flavor and healthful ingredients. Still, people seem to still eat many of these fake meats for betterment of the planet, and there is still plenty of room in the industry for existing and new brands to grow and innovate. + Piplsay Images via Shutterstock

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Taylor Guitars and the sustainable approach to instrument-making

February 11, 2020 by  
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Since 1974, Taylor Guitars has been a champion guitar brand, renowned for its signature sound and instrument-manufacturing innovations. In this feature, Inhabitat goes behind-the-scenes at the company’s headquarters and factory in El Cajon, California, where tour guide Ryan Merrill shares the Taylor Guitars approach to  sustainability , sourcing  wood  and making guitars.   Inhabitat:  What can you share about the process of making a Taylor Guitar? Merrill:  The very first step of building our guitars is housing them in this outdoor tent when the wood arrives. What we’re seeing here is mostly mahogany. When we bring in wood from around the world, they’re accustomed to other types of climates, places that are generally a lot more humid – Cameroon, India, Hawaii. When it gets here, we therefore need to make sure that wood acclimates to our  weather , temperature and  humidity . If we don’t, then as that wood is drying out in the factory, and we’re working on the guitar, it’s going to start bending and warping in different ways. We want all that bending and warping to happen here outside rather than during the process when we are building guitars because we have some tools in there that have high accuracy. And with that level of accuracy in cutting, if the wood is warping, it’s going to cause some problems. So we leave this wood outside here to acclimate. Water that’s sitting inside the grain of the wood, you want to bring down to about 10%. Sometimes that takes two weeks, sometimes that takes a month. Related: YouTube stars partner up in #TeamTrees campaign to plant 20 million trees Inhabitat:  What does Taylor Guitars do with any leftover wood cuttings? Merrill:  The first measure of our sustainability endeavors is that after we’ve cut wood for our guitars, the scrap wood — instead of us throwing them into the trash bin — we actually utilize it by giving them to other companies that need them, like toymakers, people who make birdhouses, even companies that turn the wood into  mulch . Inhabitat:  Forest management,  reforestation  and the sourcing of ethically harvested tonewoods — the wood used to build acoustic guitars — are important values to Taylor Guitars. Tell us more about that. Merrill: We understand that in order to make our products, we have to cut down trees. But we make sure to plant more trees  than we are taking out of forests every year, and we’ve continued to be dedicated to that goal. A pipe dream Taylor Guitars has is to plant all of the trees we use for all of our guitars on the land we own. That way, we won’t have to source our wood anywhere else in the world, but just focus on effectively using that one piece of land that is ours with all our trees on it. Of course, that’s still what we are working toward. For now, the two places we are focused on are in Cameroon, where we have our ebony, and in Hawaii, where we have our koa. Out in Hawaii, for instance, we own over 570 acres on the Big Island, where we are planting koa trees. Now, koa trees take about 40 to 60 years to grow — that’s a long wait for us to be able to use those trees for guitars. Ebony is even longer, taking 100 to 200 years to fully mature. Inhabitat:  Now, on display here in the corporate headquarters gallery are an array of signature Taylor Guitars, made from various types of wood. What’s the importance of wood type, or tonewood? And, why are certain ones chosen over others for guitar-making? Merrill:  The type of wood affects the instrument sound. First, it’s important to know that woods flavor the sounds. And, historically, there’s hundreds of years’ worth of experimentation on what types of woods are best for what is now the modern guitar . And the main ones that have been settled on are rosewood and mahogany, which are the hardest woods.  So, in a mahogany guitar, you’re going to hear a lot of mid-range sounds, not a lot of bass, not a lot of treble. In rosewood, you’re going to get a lot of bass, you’re going to get a lot of treble, but not as much of the mid-range. You’ll probably notice we’ll get more deep tones and more sparkle with rosewood. Inhabitat:  These are some exotic-sounding names of tonewoods lining this guitar gallery wall. Tell us more about them. Merrill:  Cocobolo is a South American rosewood, so it has a very similar tone to a rosewood guitar. Ovangkol is an African relative of the rosewood. Sapele is an African relative of mahogany. Most tonewoods are going to fall within those two very broad categories. There are some exceptions — we have  maple , which is a very bright wood. It’s the only wood that’s distinct from mahogany and rosewood. We have something like koa as well, which has the mid-range of mahogany and the sparkle of rosewood, but it doesn’t have the bass of rosewood.  Koa guitars have become increasingly popular amongst guitarists. And that’s because as koa wood ages, it gets more dense, which means it will start to produce a better low-end sound. So, if you buy a koa, it might sound one way, but then five years down the line, someone might pick up that same guitar and go, “Wow! This has way more bass than I ever heard out of this instrument!” And that’s one of the very unique things about koa — just the amount that it opens up over time. Inhabitat:  Taylor Guitars has been recognized as a leading guitar-making pioneer. What are some things you can share about what makes you stand out from other guitar manufacturers ? Merrill:  We’re the only company making sapele guitars. We’re the only company making ebony bodies. And we’re the pioneers of the V-bracing, whereas all other guitars elsewhere are still employing the X-bracing. Inhabitat:  What’s the difference between your V-bracing and the conventional X-bracing in guitars out there? Merrill:  One of the beautiful things about the V-brace is that it’s very forgiving of notes that aren’t quite in tune. With an X-brace, the notes start to warble — you can hear the notes bouncing back and forth. You can kind of hear the decay there — decay is just the note fading out. When you compare that with something like a V-brace, the notes just keep ringing — we call it bloom, where it almost grows into a larger chord after you first strum it. You can hear the difference, it sounds fuller, and a lot of that comes down to the sustaining, and that’s the V-bracing being a little more forgiving with those notes. It was fitting for Merrill to say the word “sustaining” to describe the V-brace and what it does to guitar notes, because it circularly tied into Taylor Guitars’ sustainability initiatives. As the tour winded down, a large plaque — entitled “Taylor’s Commitment to Sustainability” — was visible on the way out, reminding everyone of the quality the company stands for in the soundness of its products and  supply chain . Images via Mariecor Agravante

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Cameroon student nonprofit recycles plastic bottles into boats

August 10, 2017 by  
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Humanity has a plastic bottle addiction, purchasing one million a minute , and many bottles wind up not in recycling bins but in our oceans. Cameroon -based nonprofit Madiba & Nature is pioneering a creative use for all those polluting bottles: boats . They’re fabricating floating canoe-shaped crafts out of collected empties in an effort to prompt people to think differently about how they consume and dispose of plastic bottles. A group of students is transforming plastic trash into boats. They aim to promote a circular economy in Africa ; according to their website: “…we want to help change people’s attitudes and bad habits on the management of plastic waste that degrades sensitive ecosystems.” One Green Planet reports Cameroonian Essome Ismael invented the boats. Related: The world’s population buys one million plastic bottles every single minute Madiba & Nature volunteers have gathered to pick up thousands of plastic bottles near Cameroon’s largest city, Douala, to use those bottles for what they call ecological canoes. The boats could help not just the environment , but the local community as well. In a video, Ismael said there’s a great need for fishing boats in his area, and the plastic bottle boats could meet that need. Local fisherman Emmanuel Japa said at first they thought the plastic bottle boats were a joke, but it turns out the crafts are actually strong and seaworthy. Ismael also said plastic bottles clogging their waterways have led to flooding in the local area. The boats are just the beginning. Madiba & Nature’s website says in around a year of work, they’ve started a program for students and engineers to learn more about green business , and have developed an environmental awareness and education program. They’ve also helped develop a local waste management system and have supported other groups laboring to protect the environment. Their website also says they aim to research how to use recycled plastic in building or paving systems. + Madiba & Nature Via One Green Planet Images via Madiba & Nature Facebook

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Cameroon student nonprofit recycles plastic bottles into boats

How Cameroon’s exploding “killer lakes” claimed over 1,700 lives

January 26, 2015 by  
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In 1986, Cameroon’s Lake Nyos was the scene of an extraordinary and devastating natural disaster. The lake quite literally exploded, releasing 80 million cubic meters of carbon dioxide in just 20 seconds, which caused the suffocation deaths of 1,746 people and 3,500 livestock. The lake experienced what is known as a limnic eruption. Lake Nyos is not the only body of water in the region to carry properties that lead some to term them “killer lakes,” but scientists are working to ensure that this never happens again. Read the rest of How Cameroon’s exploding “killer lakes” claimed over 1,700 lives Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: cameroon , carbon dioxide , crater lake , degassing , exploding lake , killer lake , lake monoun , lake nyos , limic , nyos , volcano

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How Cameroon’s exploding “killer lakes” claimed over 1,700 lives

Can Ford’s new Palo Alto research center make self-driving cars accessible to everyone?

January 26, 2015 by  
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It looks like  Ford is making a big leap into the autonomous vehicle game, as the automaker recently announced the opening of its new Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto, California. The center will employ a total of 125 researchers, engineers, and scientists, all of whom will be working to help Ford accelerate its development of technologies and experiments in connectivity, mobility and autonomous vehicles. Ford’s goal? To make autonomous cars accessible to everyone – not just luxury vehicle owners. Read the rest of Can Ford’s new Palo Alto research center make self-driving cars accessible to everyone? Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: autonomous car , ford , Ford autonomous vehicle , ford fusion , Ford self-driving car , green car , green transportation , palo alto , Research and Innovation Center , San Francisco , self driving vehicle , self-driving car , silicon valley , stanford

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Can Ford’s new Palo Alto research center make self-driving cars accessible to everyone?

Enormous Beehive Made of Recycled Plastic Bags Dangles at Rome’s Museum of Contemporary Art

February 20, 2013 by  
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In the 16th century, Italy produced Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel , but now many of the world’s art museums are filled with trash . Not any old trash, mind you. Pascale Marthine Tayou’s latest installation at MACRO – the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome – is made of nothing but plastic bags and stands nearly 10 meters tall! Read the rest of Enormous Beehive Made of Recycled Plastic Bags Dangles at Rome’s Museum of Contemporary Art Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Art , cameroon , capitalism , contemporary art , eco design , eco-art , globalization , green design , industrial revolution , italy , MACRO , Michelangelo , Pascale Marthine Tayou , plastic bags , plastic pollution , Pollution , Recycled Materials , rome , secret garden , Sistine Chapel , social critique , sustainable design

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Enormous Beehive Made of Recycled Plastic Bags Dangles at Rome’s Museum of Contemporary Art

Wind Power Surpasses Nuclear Energy in China

February 20, 2013 by  
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Photo via Shutterstock Wind energy has surpassed nuclear power to become the third largest energy source in China. The country’s Wind capacity has grown rapidly over the years, and in 2012 China’s wind farms generated 100.4 terrawatt hours of electricity. Moreover, as the Earth Policy Institute reports, China’s wind capacity has increased by 70 percent more than nuclear power since 2007. Read the rest of Wind Power Surpasses Nuclear Energy in China Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “clean energy” , china clean energy green , china clean energy industry , china nuclear power , China Wind Energy Association , china wind power , Daiichi nuclear disaster , Fukushima disaster nuclear power , generation III nuclear reactors , renewable energy sources China , Wind Farms , wind turbines

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Rinspeed’s microMAX Electric Vehicle Combines Personal and Public Transportation

February 20, 2013 by  
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Rinspeed just unveiled its new microMAX electric vehicle ahead of its debut next month at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show . The unique commuter vehicle concept merges personal and public transportation in a clever fashion. Its small exterior is perfect for maneuvering in an urban environment, and the concept also uses cloud technology with real-time navigation functions that can modify routes dynamically to account for current traffic. Read the rest of Rinspeed’s microMAX Electric Vehicle Combines Personal and Public Transportation Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: 2013 Geneva Motor Show , electric car , electric vehicle , green car , green transportation , public transportation , Rinspeed , Rinspeed electric vehicle , Rinspeed microMAC concept

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