Spoil your lover with presents from our eco-friendly Valentine’s Day gift guide

February 11, 2019 by  
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Valentine’s Day can mean bouquets of cut flowers, chocolate wrapped in cellophane and a cardboard box, a trail of paper cards, gifts jazzed up with polyester bows and maybe even a bottle of wine with a plastic stopper. However, that’s all been done a million times before, and in the age of climate change , it’s time to start thinking outside the box and give your Valentine an intimate, eco-friendly day. This year, start some new traditions with this eco-friendly Valentine’s gift guide. Not all of these Valentine’s gift ideas might be considered traditional, but they are creative, fun and romantic. These are great ways to let your Valentine — and the planet — know that you love them. Fresh and local flowers Cut flowers are often grown in production greenhouses, covered in chemicals and imported from thousands of miles away via cargo planes and gas-guzzling refrigerated trucks. Then, after a few days, they make their way to the trash and eventually end up in a landfill, where they will emit methane as they decay. If your Valentine loves flowers , there are alternatives to conventional cut flowers that are much more environmentally friendly. Websites like bouqs.com sell flower bouquets that are cut to order on eco-friendly farms and designed by local florists. You can also find local growers who are selling in-season flowers at localharvest.org . Another unique option is to buy seeds and a beautiful pot (you can get great ideas at rareseeds.com ), plant them together as a couple and watch them grow (like your love!). You could also visit your local botanical garden together and take a romantic stroll. Fair-trade chocolates Mass-produced chocolate from global companies is often made from cacao that is bought “blind” from importers and brokers that could be using forced child labor. Some cacao farming is also putting wildlife at risk. But  fair-trade chocolate comes from small-scale farm co-ops, where farmers own their own land and invest in their communities. The chocolate is traceable, cuts out the middleman and focuses on quality. You can find fair-trade chocolate at sites like Askinosie , Nuubia  and Dagoba . Jewelry You can find beautiful, conflict-free diamonds and recycled precious metals (wrapped in green packaging) at Brilliant Earth . You can also opt for eco-friendly artistic pieces from around the world at sites like Novica and Ten Thousand Villages . Related: 9 ways to have an eco-friendly Valentine’s Day Packed With Purpose This site wants your gifts to have an impact , and it does this by selling high-quality products from “Purposeful Purveyors” — companies that make their employees, communities and the environment top priorities. You can find gift boxes filled with chocolate and nuts, tea, crackers and biscotti or soy candles and artisanal soaps. Natural perfumes or colognes Natural, sustainable perfumes and colognes make perfect Valentine’s gifts. There are plenty of places you can go to find the right scent for your loved one. Sana Jardin is a socially-conscious company that offers luxury fragrances while focusing on sustainability. Clean Reserve manufactures its field-to-fragrance products in a solar-powered factory, and Floral Street uses biodegradable paper packaging that can be repurposed as a seed tray. Cozy organic robes You can’t go wrong with eco-friendly clothing. Of course, clothes might not be the most important part of Valentine’s Day (wink, wink), but a cozy, organic robe could be a great gift. Sorella Organics sells robes, loungewear and sleepwear made from certified organic and fair-trade cotton. Not only will your skin love these products, but so will the environment. For something sexy underneath, you can visit Hanky Panky and find intimate apparel made from organic cotton that is also free of toxic chemicals. The company uses high-quality fabrics to avoid synthetic fiber pollution. It doesn’t use fur, feathers or leather because animal welfare is a priority, and it recycles and repurposes its textile waste. Bath accessories Your organic robe will feel even better after enjoying a romantic bath or shower using luxurious eco-friendly soaps and candles. Heart & Arrow uses a sustainable process to make soaps and candles, plus it uses minimal packaging and makes charitable giving a top priority. You can also turn your bathroom into a spa with sustainable bamboo bath caddies from sites like Royal Craft Wood and sustainable skincare from Lather or milk + honey . Royal Craft Wood specializes in affordable, sustainable, high-quality products made by skilled artists. Lather is a wellness brand that sells natural products that are never tested on animals, and milk + honey uses clean, plant-based ingredients. Romantic, eco-friendly activities Going out for dinner on Valentine’s Day can often mean fighting for a reservation at an over-crowded restaurant. That’s not the most romantic way to spend your time, not to mention the food waste . Instead, consider eco-friendly romantic activities like taking a cooking class for two, visiting a local art gallery, adopting a pet at a local animal shelter, enjoying a picnic in the park, scheduling a wine tasting at a local winery, hiring a personal chef for the evening, cooking a special dinner together or relaxing with a couple’s massage. Images via Annie Spratt , Conger Design , Luisella Planeta Leoni , Packed With Purpose , Silvia Rita , StockSnap , Holger Link , James Riess and RawPixel

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Spoil your lover with presents from our eco-friendly Valentine’s Day gift guide

This Australian property was redesigned with a sustainable, lush garden

February 11, 2019 by  
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The Shoreham House in Victoria, Australia was designed in the early 2000’s, but was in need of an update to the overall structure and gardens. The new architects wanted to update the home with sustainability in mind while respecting the original designers and builders. According to Tim Spicer Architects, “The renovation and addition needed a sensitive, well considered approach to create unity between the old and the new, without the obvious signature of new Architects. The design intent was to update what was already a beautiful house, yet make it feel like it had been built at the same time.” The new landscape takes full advantage of the lush surroundings, something that went slightly overlooked in the original design. It utilizes a deep water bore to provide water to the gardens, rather than using the local town water to irrigate. The 50-meter bore has the power to provide the landscape with 20,000 liters of water in a day. In addition to the sustainable garden, the architects also replaced the old halogen lighting in the house with new LED lighting, which is more energy efficient and longer-lasting. The new hot water system is solar-powered, and the windows have new Low-E coating which works to minimize the amount of infrared and ultraviolet light without losing visibility. They also installed new eco-friendly high R-value insulation and a new ducted combustion fireplace to make the structure more energy efficient overall. Related: A midcentury warehouse becomes a vibrant office for creatives Designers faced the difficult task of connecting the new guest wing to the master area without compromising privacy. As a result, they created a whole new staircase leading from the dining room and past the master staircase. The project was a challenging feat for the builders who used hand tools to blast through the bedrock under the house in order to construct the second staircase. To connect the master and newly-designed guest wings, the architects created a glazed bridge walkway, make-shifting a courtyard garden area with new meandering paths and green spaces. The house now has new large windows and glazed doors that allow for beautiful, sweeping views of the gardens from the inside. In the original house, the master area deck already had views of the ocean . With the intent of making the view more accessible to guests, the architects installed a “slow stair” between the master deck and ground floor courtyard. Via Archdaily Images via Tim Spicer Architects

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This Australian property was redesigned with a sustainable, lush garden

Top 10 states for LEED green buildings in 2018

February 11, 2019 by  
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The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) has officially revealed the Top 10 states for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ) certification. The states that led the country in LEED standards constructed over 468 million square feet of green building space for a population of 128 million people. The USGBC has high standards when it comes to LEED certification. Buildings that fall under the LEED umbrella have a small carbon footprint, are energy efficient, use less water and are affordable for family and businesses. The new top 10 list corresponds with the newest rating framework, LEED v4.1, which places a higher priority on gathering statistics. Illinois led the pack of the top 10 LEED states in the country. Last year, Illinois had 172 projects that adhered to LEED standards. One of the more interesting projects to come out of the state was the Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, which was built on an older campus and features more than 700 doctors. Related: LEED Gold Gateway Arch Museum sports a 3-acre green roof in St. Louis The most popular reasons for building eco-friendly LEED homes are demand and health concerns. Not only are green buildings better for the environment , but they also improve the health of occupants by increasing the quality of air and water. With LEED being the worldwide standard for best green building practices, the trend is catching on. Massachusetts came in second on the list and is a great example of how schools are incorporating LEED standards into their building practices. The state’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School was certified LEED Platinum for being energy efficient and using its building to teach students about sustainable living. Other states that made it onto the list include Washington, New York, Texas, Colorado, Hawaii, Virginia, California and Maryland. Several states, such as Illinois, Maryland, New York, Colorado, Virginia, California and Maryland, were also in the top 10 in 2017. Via Living Standard ,  USGBC Image via USGBC

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Top 10 states for LEED green buildings in 2018

New rainwater-filled public pool just one feature planned for Cologne’s historic harbor

October 3, 2016 by  
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Danish architects COBE have designed the transformation planned for Cologne , a 2000-year-old city in Western Germany – from an old industrial harbor into an eco-friendly neighborhood organized around a huge waterfall and a large public pool . The architects won the recent competition organized by Cologne-based urban development company, Moderne Stadt . COBE collaborated with German engineers Transsolar and German firm  Ramboll Studio Dreiseitl  on the design of the project, resulting in a development that features an innovative water strategy and rainwater harvesting system. Rainwater is collected to sustain the pool and waterfall, the centerpieces of the masterplan connected by an innovative transportation network. The architects had to address the strong tides from the Rhine River and incorporate them into the design. They envisioned different zones, some of which are intended to flood while others remain dry. Related: COBE Architects to transform Copenhagen’s Paper Island into a bustling cultural hub “COBE is very smartly questioning which of the existing buildings to keep and how to translate the old structures into a new harbor district. Out of all the insights gained in the public process, COBE has developed highly specific answers for the harbor development,” said Franz-Josef Ho?ing, director of urban development in the municipality of Cologne and chairman of the competition jury. + COBE Architects Images by Beauty and the Bit

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New rainwater-filled public pool just one feature planned for Cologne’s historic harbor

KODA is a tiny solar-powered house that can move with its owners

October 3, 2016 by  
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Made primarily of concrete, the portable KODA prototype is constructed with factory-made components selected for their strength and energy efficient properties. Its sturdy structure allows the tiny home to be assembled on different surfaces without the need for foundations. Quadruple glazing and vacuum-insulated concrete walls minimize energy demands and help maintain a comfortable internal temperature. All finishing materials are non-toxic. The homes are modular and can be connected to create a larger living space. KODA maximizes its 25-square-meter footprint with an open-plan living area bathed in the natural light that pours through a glazed front facade. The full-height glazing is slightly set back to make room for a built-in terrace and to shield the interior from harsh solar gain. The kitchen, bathroom, and loft bedroom are located near the rear of the home for more privacy and are lit by LEDs at night. Rooftop solar panels power the KODA unit and are capable of generating more energy than the home needs. While the prefabricated home was designed with water, sewage, and electricity hookups, it can also be used off the grid for short periods of time. A built-in IT system also enables the home to learn from and adjust to its different surroundings. Related: Luxurious tiny home lets owner live off-grid and rent-free “In our minds KODA can become whatever you want: a city centre home, a lakeside summer house, a cosy café, an office, workshop or studio or even a classroom,” writes Kodasema. “Its clever design provides the inspiration to make best use of every square inch of space and envisage how the built-in components, even the walls, can be adjusted to meet their purpose most effectively.” Kodasema has plans of selling the home in Estonia later this fall at 85,000€ (VAT not included). The price, which is dependent on add-ons, includes the furniture and technical systems, such as the automated IT functions, heating and ventilation, electricity, and water. The design collective has not yet announced plans to sell KODA internationally. + Kodasema Images via Kodasema , lead image © Paul Kuimet, other images by Tõnu Tunnel

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KODA is a tiny solar-powered house that can move with its owners

WEWOOD designs textured sideboard made from oak and walnut

January 6, 2015 by  
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Portuguese joinery firm WEWOOD designed scarpa, a sideboard with a beautiful 3D textured pattern. Made from oak and walnut , the geometric-patterned sideboard can be adjusted in width and height to adapt to different needs and spaces. Scarpa will be displayed at one of Europe’s biggest upcoming design events, the IMM Cologne , later this month. + WEWOOD The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing! Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: imm cologne , oak , reader submitted content , Scarpa , solid wood , Walnut , WeWOOD , wooden furniture

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WEWOOD designs textured sideboard made from oak and walnut

German Court Bans Parents from Having Baby Boys Circumcised

July 15, 2012 by  
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Is circumcision an act of religious freedom, or is it merely an act of violence against baby boys? A German court in Cologne took the latter interpretation, ruling that circumcision of baby boys should be considered unlawful, noting that the “ fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents. ” Religious leaders are outraged, as are parents who support circumcision along with the right to make decisions for their baby.  According to the  New York Times ,  the decision will only be enforceable in Cologne, but it could lead to a decline in circumcision in Germany. READ MORE > Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: anti-circumcision , circumcision , Cologne , germany , green parenting , male circumcision , parenting , religious freedom

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German Court Bans Parents from Having Baby Boys Circumcised

Yeast-Based Ingredient Could Replace “Whale Vomit” in Perfume

April 15, 2012 by  
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Perfume bottles photo via Shutterstock Did you know that that bottle of pricey perfume sitting atop your dresser likely contains wale vomit? For centuries, designer perfume makers have used ambergris , a wax-like ingredient spit up by whales as a fragrance fixative for perfume. Because the rock-like globs can fetch as much as $20,000 per kilogram and because sperm wales are endangered, scientists at the University of British have been working to synthesize a viable replacement for ambergris, and they may have found one in yeast. READ MORE > Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: ambergris , Cologne , fragrance , perfume , science , sperm whales , University of British Columbia , whale , yeast

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Yeast-Based Ingredient Could Replace “Whale Vomit” in Perfume

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