6 helpful ways to give back to nature this Thanksgiving

November 28, 2019 by  
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Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and it is the best time to reflect on our planet and give thanks for nature and all of its glories. What better way to celebrate our world and its wildlife than by offering a helping hand? Here are some ways to give back to and celebrate Mother Earth this Thanksgiving . Save a turkey While Thanksgiving traditionally means turkey at the table, those who are vegetarian, vegan or simply interested in protecting turkeys can instead adopt or sponsor a turkey. Sanctuaries and rescue organizations devoted to the turkey exist across the United States and United Kingdom. The Adopt-a-Turkey initiative has become a popular Thanksgiving endeavor. By choosing to adopt or sponsor a turkey, you can help fund the care of this fine-feathered friend. Related: Make your own tasty vegetarian turkey for Thanksgiving with this recipe To help a turkey, visit Animal Place , Barn Sanctuary , Catskill Animal Sanctuary , Dean Farm Trust Turkey Rescue , Farm Sanctuary , Friend Farm Animal Sanctuary , Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary , Hillside Animal Sanctuary , Spring Farm Sanctuary , The Gentle Barn , The Retreat Animal Rescue & Sanctuary or Woodstock Farm Sanctuary . For a more comprehensive directory of farm sanctuaries that are also safe havens for turkeys, view Vegan.com’s farm animal sanctuary directory . Give a retired Military Working Dog (MWD) a home MWDs are retired from active duty. Many have either worked in the field or trained with other MWDs, making them unique bearers of particularly honed skills. All adoptable MWDs have already passed rigorous behavioral tests to ensure they are temperamentally a good fit for civilian adoptions.  Because the MWD actually served in the United States military, a MWD is more than just a canine — he or she is a military veteran. When you adopt a MWD, you’re also providing a home to a military veteran and war hero. Organizations that can help you rescue or rehome a MWD include Mission K9 Rescue , the MWD adoption program at Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland Air Force Base and the United States War Dogs Association . Be sure to also inquire your nearest military installation to see if they have any retired or retiring MWDs available for adoption. You also have the option to foster a military working dog . If fostering is more appealing, contact the 341st Training Squadron’s MWD Foster Program at JBSA-Lackland here . Name a species Every year, new species are discovered. Typically, the first person to discover the plant or animal gets the honor of naming the species. But there are still countless other organisms requiring scientific names. For a fee, the general public can name a newfound organism. By naming a new species, you complete the dual kindness of helping the scientific community establish a binomial nomenclature identification for a newfound living thing while simultaneously honoring the person you named the newfound organism after. Of course, giving a newly discovered species a name of your choice increases public awareness of biodiversity, raises much-needed funding for ecological conservation efforts and helps spread the science of taxonomy. Organizations with programs devoted to naming new species include the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the Discover Life in America (DLIA) nonprofit and the German nonprofit organization BIOPAT . Volunteer at a seed bank You will undeniably make a hands-on contribution when volunteering at a local seed bank. Seeds are deposited for safekeeping in case of unforeseen global emergencies. The seeds can be replanted at some future time to ensure survival, rather than eradication, of certain crops . Today, there are about 1,500 seed banks worldwide, the most famous being the “Doomsday Vault” in Norway, or Svalbard Global Seed Vault . AgProfessional offers a list of the planet’s 15 largest seed banks, where you can learn more about efforts to conserve plant biodiversity. Some seed banks with volunteer opportunities include Irvine Ranch’s Native Seed Farm , London’s Kew Gardens , the Mid-Atlantic Regional Seed Bank (MARSB) , Miller Seed Vault at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens , the renowned Native Plant Trust conservation organization, Portland State University’s Rae Selling Berry Seed Bank and the True Harvest Seeds charity. Monitor vulnerable plants and animals as a citizen scientist Citizen scientists help gather data to inform researchers about the protection and management status of flora and fauna species. Regular monitoring of plants and animals, especially vulnerable and rare ones, is essential to determine their population trends. In turn, agencies at the local, state and federal levels gain insight and implement needed modifications to habitat management and conservation plans. Related: 6 ways to give back this Thanksgiving and beyond For instance, the Smithsonian Institution and the Nature Conservancy have robust citizen scientist programs to assist with the monitoring of species distribution, abundance and threat by invasive species . Some, like the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland (BSBI) , annually have openings for volunteer plant hunters and junior citizens curious about botany.  Meanwhile, Zooniverse is the largest platform devoted to animal- and plant-centered citizen scientist collaborations. Perhaps one of the most popular citizen science monitoring programs is Plants of Concern , administered by the Chicago Botanic Garden. Similarly, the Phytoplankton Monitoring Network (PMN) is another volunteer monitoring program that provides better understanding of the interrelationships between humans and ecosystems. Participate in the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) Field Book Project For those fond of history, especially natural history, consider volunteering with the Field Book Project . Field notes and diary entries, from the Victorian era and earlier, still need to be identified, cataloged and digitized. Volunteering with this endeavor guarantees access to original records of scientific discovery and primary source material notes on specimens and native environments from centuries ago. Your volunteer efforts with the Field Book Project will help increase the visibility of these long tucked-away scholarly resources that need to be rediscovered and shared with the global biodiversity research community. Images via Taminwi , Rikki’s Refuge , Sgt. Barry St. Clair , Hans Hillewaert , Elena Escagedo , Glacier NPS and Biodiversity Heritage Library

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6 helpful ways to give back to nature this Thanksgiving

This tiny farmhouse features a quaint reading nook

November 28, 2019 by  
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New York-based tiny home builder Willowbee Tiny Homes has managed to combine a cozy, farmhouse aesthetic with a sophisticated and space-efficient tiny home. The Burmenbov is a 30-foot-long tiny home on wheels that has a gorgeous interior space, which includes a charming reading nook where the reader can also take in amazing views. Husband-and-wife team Bob and Esther (along with their four children) have made a name for themselves by building quality tiny houses for other families looking to live minimalist lifestyles. Their builds include a variety of sustainable features, such as composting toilets and solar power options. Related: This gorgeous tiny home features a greenhouse and wooden pergola Inspired by farmhouse aesthetic, the Burmenbov is a gorgeous tiny home on wheels that uses sleek lines and a neutral color palette to create a welcoming and comfortable living space. The exterior of the home is clad in all-white siding with two lovely, gabled entrances on either side. At just 30 feet long, the tiny home manages to pack a lot into one story of living space, but some savvy, space-saving techniques certainly help maintain a clutter-free house. Additionally important to the design is its energy efficiency . The home features tight insulation and a low ambient mini-split HVAC system to reduce energy use and keep the home at a comfortable temperature year-round. The tiny home features a spacious living area with several windows and glass doors to let in optimal natural light . At the end of the home is a welcoming reading nook with a bench that sits under a big, square window. On the other side of the living room, the kitchen is surprisingly large and comes equipped with plenty of counter space, a propane stove and a farmhouse sink. Farther back in the house, the bathroom features a bright design with a full-sized shower, composting toilet and stacked washer and dryer unit. At the very back of the structure is the master bedroom, which includes a roomy closet and a queen-sized bed that elevates to reveal storage underneath. The bedroom even has a folding open-air deck to enjoy a bit of stargazing before drifting off to sleep. + Willowbee Tiny Homes Via Tiny House Talk Images via Willowbee Tiny Homes

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This tiny farmhouse features a quaint reading nook

Research raises animal welfare concerns over "humanely" raised turkeys

November 18, 2019 by  
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While many meat eaters don’t want to think about the actual slaughter of a turkey, they might comfort themselves with the thought that their Thanksgiving dinner was humanely raised. Think again. The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) has just released a new report showing that poultry producers are deceiving customers by making unfounded animal welfare and environmental claims. The report used Freedom of Information Act requests to procure the USDA’s label approval files, then analyzed them for supporting evidence regarding these claims. Unfortunately, things haven’t improved since the AWI petitioned the USDA in 2014 to require third-party certification of animal welfare in order to earn the “humane” label. Related: Is your Thanksgiving turkey putting your family’s health at risk? “The system is easily manipulated by producers who want to make higher welfare claims on their packages and charge a premium without improving the treatment of animals raised under their care,” said Erin Sutherland, staff attorney for AWI’s farm animal program. “Because of the USDA ’s lack of oversight, consumers are often thwarted in their attempts to use labels to guide their food-buying decisions.” In its new report, the AWI evaluated label approvals for claims like “humanely raised,” “free raised” and “sustainably farmed” on 19 poultry and meat products. The AWI concluded that the USDA failed to enforce labeling standards and that producers’ definitions were often vague and irrelevant. Using its own scoring tool, the AWI gave 12 of 23 claims an F score. Two turkey product lines, Diestel Turkey Ranch Organic Turkey Products and Empire Kosher Natural Ground White Turkey, fared slightly better with D grades. The AWI pointed out that the current label approval process harms honest farmers , because producers who make false claims can undercut them by selling inhumanely raised turkeys disguised as humanely raised at lower prices. Part of the problem is that the USDA doesn’t visit farms to see if practices conform to the claims made on labels. Instead, the USDA relies on information about animal treatment provided by the producers themselves. It’s ironic that while meat producers lobby against “deceptive” fake meat labeling, they’re practicing some fakery of their own. + Animal Welfare Institute Image via SJ Baren

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Research raises animal welfare concerns over "humanely" raised turkeys

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

Australian Researchers Propose Turning Millions of Tons of Pig Waste into Alternative Energy for China

May 20, 2013 by  
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Photo via Shutterstock Where there are million of animals, there are millions of tons of waste. In a clever solution to a major waste disposal problem, Australian researchers have found a way to convert 1.4 million tons of Chinese pig excrement into fertilizer and a source of alternative energy. The project, which is operated by the Adelaide, Australia Cooperate Research Centre For Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment ( CRC CARE ), has won a national science award for its solution for pig waste in China. Read the rest of Australian Researchers Propose Turning Millions of Tons of Pig Waste into Alternative Energy for China Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: adelaide , australia , biodigester , biogas , china , cooperative research center for contamination assessment and remediation of the environment , CRC CARE , excrement , federal government 2013 star award , fertilizer , hlm asia pl , huazhong university of science and technology , pig , poocare , prof. ravi naidu , Waste        

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Australian Researchers Propose Turning Millions of Tons of Pig Waste into Alternative Energy for China

PooCareTM System Turns China’s Pig Waste into Usable Poo Power

May 2, 2012 by  
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Funny pigs image from Shutterstock China’s pig population is approaching one billion, so you can imagine how much  pig poo the nation has at its disposal. One Australian firm,  CRC CARE , thinks it can turn all of that waste into much-needed energy. Partnering with Hong Kong technology firm HLM Asia Ltd., CRC CARE has developed the “PooCareTM,” a bioreactor that can be installed below ground at pig farms. The demand in China for pork results in 1.5 million tons of pig waste annually, but because it is so full of nitrates and other contaminants, effluent from pig waste contaminates water and is a massive human health risk. If CRC CARE is successful, they could divert all of that harmful material and get some fuel out of it as well. Read the rest of PooCareTM System Turns China’s Pig Waste into Usable Poo Power Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: biofuels , biogenerator , bioreactor , china , CRC CARE , HLM Asia , meat consumption , pig poo , pig waste , Poo Power! , PooCareTM , pork

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PooCareTM System Turns China’s Pig Waste into Usable Poo Power

Griet Boucique Designs an Alternative Playground That Uses Textile Scraps

May 2, 2012 by  
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  Alternative Playground may simply look like colorful and cushy blobs piled up in a corner, but this new project by  Griet Boucique explores the potential of the trash dump as a play environment. Considering material usage, its impact on the earth, and how different textiles can affect the way a child engages in play, Alternative Landscapes asks us to re-consider what makes a playground enjoyable and what does not. Read the rest of Griet Boucique Designs an Alternative Playground That Uses Textile Scraps Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: eco design , green design , HDK School for Design and Craft , Milan Furniture Fair , play in progress , sustainable design , ventura lambrate

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Griet Boucique Designs an Alternative Playground That Uses Textile Scraps

Berlin’s Passive Minimum House is a Modernist Glass Residence in the Woods

May 2, 2012 by  
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Photo © Christian Gahl With the aim of blending the boundaries between indoors and outdoors, Ahlbrech Felix Scheidt Kasprush Architects designed this glowing glass home within a pine forest in Germany. Called Minimum House, the residence is situated in Mellensee, south Berlin , and it is currently up for sale – including all furniture and fittings. Modular, energy-efficient and topped by a green roof, this modernist shelter combines two key design elements: ecology and economy. Read the rest of Berlin’s Passive Minimum House is a Modernist Glass Residence in the Woods Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: “energy efficiency” , active energy , Ahlbrech Felix Scheidt Kasprush , Architecture , berlin , energy efficient , green lighting , Minimum House , modernist , modular , open-plan , passive energy , pine forest , Sustainable Building

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Berlin’s Passive Minimum House is a Modernist Glass Residence in the Woods

No, One Dead Horse Shouldn’t Be the End of Carriage Rides

October 27, 2011 by  
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Jaymi Heimbuch / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 A news story about a carriage horse that dropped dead in NYC has raised attention on the issue of the care of working animals. Rachel reported on it yesterday, bringing up some points on animal welfare. However, there has been a strong reaction by animal rights activists looking to ban carriage horses in the city on the basis that it qualifies as abuse — and that needs to be … Read the full story on TreeHugger

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No, One Dead Horse Shouldn’t Be the End of Carriage Rides

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