Building a Composting Toilet

December 10, 2019 by  
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Although sewers and septic systems served the U.S. well in … The post Building a Composting Toilet appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Building a Composting Toilet

Olson Kundig designs worlds first Recompose facility for composting human remains

December 3, 2019 by  
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Architectural practice Olson Kundig has unveiled designs for the flagship facility of Recompose, a company that will offer a new and sustainable after-death care service, in which human remains are gently converted into clean soil. Presented as a more eco-friendly alternative to traditional burials and cremations, Recompose’s “natural organic reduction” service expects to save over one metric ton of carbon dioxide per person as compared to typical after-death options. The flagship facility in Seattle will emphasize the service’s environmentally friendly aspects with the inclusion of greenery indoors and the use of modular, reusable architecture. In April 2019, Washington state passed a bill that allowed human remains to be composted — making it the first state to legalize such a practice. Yet even before the bill was passed, Katrina Spade, founder and CEO of the Recompose public benefit corporation, had already reached out to Olson Kundig’s design principal, Alan Maskin, in 2015 to begin designing the first prototype of the Recompose vessel. Related: 6 eco burial options for a green afterlife Expected to open in spring 2021, the 18,500-square-foot Seattle flagship facility for Recompose will be located in the city’s SODO neighborhood and will include a ceremonial disposition area ringed by trees, spaces for storage, an area for the preparation of bodies, administrative back-of-house areas and an interpretive public lobby that describes the Recompose process. Approximately 75 modular Recompose vessels — used to compost human remains into soil in about 30 days — will be stacked and arranged around the central gathering space. “This facility hosts the Recompose vessels, but it is also an important space for ritual and public gathering,” Maskin said. “The project will ultimately foster a more direct, participatory experience and dialogue around death and the celebration of life. We’re honored to be involved with this project, and excited for the first Recompose facility in the world to open its doors in Seattle .” + Olson Kundig Images via Olson Kundig

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Olson Kundig designs worlds first Recompose facility for composting human remains

A family builds an impressive, 300-square-foot tiny home to travel the world

December 3, 2019 by  
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It’s the freedom to travel that continues to push the tiny home trend. Families like Bela, Spencer and their young daughter, Escher, are able to enjoy a minimalist lifestyle while also exploring the world whenever they get the urge to get up and go. What’s more, this family’s custom tiny home on wheels , as functional as it is beautiful, features all of the creature comforts of a contemporary home. Bela and Spencer began their love affair with tiny home living on their honeymoon, where they spent a few days off the grid in a quaint cottage in Appalachia. The experience stayed with them for years, even as they found themselves paying a whopping $2,300 a month to rent a studio apartment in Redwood City years later. Related: Newlyweds forgo pricey wedding to embark on an incredible tiny home adventure Wanting a better life that would allow them to travel with their new addition, baby Escher, the couple decided to embark on a DIY tiny home project. Once they located an idyllic spot in the mountains of Santa Cruz, California, they got to work building the tiny home of their dreams. The couple decided to approach each design step by focusing on spatial awareness and functionality instead of the limited square footage. This focus allowed them to create functional, custom spaces that best suited their own needs as a family. The finished tiny home on wheels features an expansive, open-air deck, complete with a comfortable lounge space, dining set and barbecue grill. The family spends quite a bit of time here, enjoying the views and fresh mountain air. The entrance is through a glass garage door that opens vertically and connects the interior to the front deck. Interestingly, the interior layout was designed to have nine distinct living spaces, each one separated from the other by either a difference in level (steps or a ladder) or a soft partition of some sort (glass door, curtain or shoji paper). This strategy allows each section to have a unique purpose. The ground floor features a living room and high-top dining table that looks out a window over the landscape. The fully equipped kitchen, with a striking copper backsplash, is elevated off the ground by a short staircase that slides out of the wall to create storage space . Behind the kitchen is the master bedroom, which, like the rest of the home, benefits from an abundance of natural light. The queen-sized bed is built on hydraulic lids, enabling it to fold up to reveal more storage underneath. On the other side of the home, a spacious bathroom with a composting toilet features a lovely, spa-like shower stall. Above this area is an L-shaped loft accessible by a ladder. This upper level houses two distinct spaces: an extra bedroom and storage. + This X Life Via Living Big in a Tiny House Photography by Bela Fishbeyn; family photos by Ryan Tuttle

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A family builds an impressive, 300-square-foot tiny home to travel the world

Dutch company collects plastic pollution from rivers to make parks and products

December 3, 2019 by  
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Plastic pollution is a worldwide problem, with piles of debris along coastlines, on roadsides, in landfills and floating in waterways. Environmentally conscious companies are looking for ways to clean up the mess while simultaneously seeking out methods to recycle plastic waste into other products. One Dutch company, The Recycled Island Foundation (RIF), is tackling both problems with one solution — Litter Traps. According to the RIF website, the motivation for the project came from the knowledge that our waterways are part of global ecosystem, where everybody benefits or pays the consequences of waste management . “Plastic pollutes our seas and oceans and has a direct and deadly effect on marine life,” the foundation said. “Thousands of birds, seals, turtles, whales and other marine animals are killed every year after ingesting plastic or getting strangled in it. With the plastics breaking down into smaller particles, it also enters the human food chain.” Related: This floating park in Rotterdam is made from recycled plastic waste Knowing that the majority of ocean pollution comes from rivers that lead out to sea, RIF decided to stop plastic waste before it could travel that far. The foundation’s Litter Traps are aptly named. Sourced from recycled plastic themselves, the traps filter water, collect plastic and stop that plastic from traveling downstream. The collected plastic is then made into durable floating parks, seating elements, building materials and even more Litter Traps. The passive design of the Litter Trap allows it to float in the river, harbor or port, catching plastic once it floats inside the trap. The system does not rely on any energy source. Once full, the trap is emptied, and the usable plastic is sorted. The plastic then heads into manufacturing, where it is turned into a variety of products. This circular system allows the company to collect materials, clean up the rivers and make products without waste and at a minimal cost. The RIF has been busy collecting plastic from local waterways for some time. More than one year ago, it opened a prototype in Rotterdam, the Netherlands called the Recycled Park. This floating park is made entirely from recycled plastic gathered from the nearby Meuse River. You can read more about that project here . The initial park prototype is an example of how recycled plastic can be used to replicate the marine ecosystem, complete with live plants above and below the park that animals such as snails, flatworms, larva, beetles and fish call home. What began as a local movement has gone international. New Litter Traps are being manufactured to tackle river waste around the world. Belgium and Indonesia were the first countries to adopt the RIF approach, and the organization is now preparing similar projects in Vietnam, France, the Philippines, Brazil and more. As an example of how the mechanism performs, a single Litter Trap located in Belgium is emptied twice a week, and the average amount of waste collected is 1.5 cubic meters per month. The goal is to continue to expand the use of Litter Traps to divert plastic from the oceans on a large scale. The future of the Litter Trap is bright, with plans to make portable Litter Traps and Litter Traps that can collect and hold larger quantities of plastic before needing emptied. Now partnering with international companies, RIF hopes to create products that are in high demand in the areas where the plastic is collected. RIF is working with innovators to turn the plastic into a durable and easy-to-assemble housing material. It is also looking into large-scale, 3D-printing options using the marine plastic. For example, the company offers custom couches made entirely from salvaged marine plastic that is 3D-printed into shape. RIF feels knowledge is power in the campaign for plastic reduction, so it has implemented an educational program that includes ways to reduce plastic consumption, information about proper recycling techniques and an opportunity to participate in clean-up efforts. It hopes to continue to inspire action and raise awareness about the problem by visiting schools and organizing community events. When it comes to environmental efforts , the more hands involved in projects, the better. RIF has partnered with dozens of agencies with similar goals, creating a village of like-minded companies hoping to lead the way toward better plastic management and the creation of durable, reusable products. + The Recycled Island Foundation Images via The Recycled Island Foundation

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Dutch company collects plastic pollution from rivers to make parks and products

Composting Toilet Taxonomy: How They Work

October 17, 2019 by  
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The United States’ infrastructure, once arguably the best in the … The post Composting Toilet Taxonomy: How They Work appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Composting Toilet Taxonomy: How They Work

Earth911 Quiz #75: Hyrdofluorocarbons and Environmental Damage

October 17, 2019 by  
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Challenge your knowledge about hydrofluorocarbons, which replaced chlorofluorocarbons in many … The post Earth911 Quiz #75: Hyrdofluorocarbons and Environmental Damage appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Quiz #75: Hyrdofluorocarbons and Environmental Damage

Cheat Sheet: Composting

July 30, 2019 by  
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According to the EPA, in 2015, almost 24 percent of … The post Cheat Sheet: Composting appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Cheat Sheet: Composting

Boston’s mayor announces curbside compost program

June 24, 2019 by  
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Boston’s mayor Marty Walsh wants to know: are you going to compost that? Because chances are you should. Walsh has announced a plan to ensure that 100 percent of compostable waste is diverted from landfills by 2050. According the city’s estimates, 36 percent of the trash that Bostonians are throwing away should be composted and 39 percent should be recycled. This is a huge amount of waste going to the wrong place (landfills or incinerators) and ultimately equates to 6 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions . Related: Washington becomes the first state to allow human composting Mayor Walsh is determined to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 and believes an overhaul of the waste services in the city can make major progress in the right direction. The city has requested proposals from companies willing to provide curbside composting services to Boston residents for a subscription fee, which the government plans to subsidize. Right across the Charles River, the neighboring city of Cambridge already started providing free curbside composting for residents last year, but Boston has six times the population. Boston also plans to expand the window of time that yard waste is collected and launch a textile pick-up program. Last year, the city also announced a plan to ban single-use plastic bags throughout the city. “Preparing Boston for climate change means ensuring our city is sustainable, both now and in the future,” Walsh said. “We need to lead and design city policies that work for our residents and for the environment and world we depend upon. These initiatives will lead Boston toward becoming a zero-waste city and invest in the future of residents and generations to come.” To help out with the transition toward zero-waste , Boston received a grant from Cocoa-Cola to increase the number of recycling bins, signage and trash services in city parks. Boston was one of seven cities to receive this pilot funding from Coca-Cola. The switch to a more comprehensive waste system will require re-educating Bostonians about how to recycle and what to compost. The city’s website recommends residents download the city’s free “ Trash Day ” app, with which users can look up specific items and learn exactly how to dispose of them. Via Curbed Image via Shutterstock

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These are the best 7 tips to follow for a more eco-friendly backyard

April 17, 2019 by  
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Incorporating and eco-friendly lifestyle to your home can be easier than you think, especially when it comes to your backyard. While we do our best to use energy efficient light bulbs, reduce the use of everyday plastics and limit food waste throughout our homes, why not bring our environmental awareness to the place where we have celebrations and weekend barbecues— our backyards. The backyard is the best place to add our eco-friendly touch and transform into a thriving sustainable environment . An eco-friendly backyard is a great way to create a beautiful space for you and your family to enjoy all year long. Follow these seven tips to turn your backyard into a place that respects the environment without breaking your budget. Save Water Conserving water is a great way to make your backyard more eco-friendly. You can install large water tanks in your backyard that hook up to the gutters in your house. The tanks will fill up whenever it rains . If you do not want a large tank consuming space in your yard, consider buying a smaller one that you can empty more frequently. You can use the recycled water for a number of different applications. This includes watering your garden, drinking (after it has been filtered) and other household projects. Not only is this a good move for the environment, but it can also save you on future water bills. Related: Eco-friendly replacements for common bathroom products Incorporate Ground Cover Different types of ground cover, such as moss and clover, are good alternatives to traditional grass lawns . These varieties of ground cover require far less mowing and water through the hot summer months. Moss is great for shady areas of your backyard, as it will keep its color in the summer heat and feels great underfoot. For other areas of the lawn that get more sun, consider adding some clover as a grass replacement. Clover smell sweet, is resistant to drought, and is great for the soil. Clover also requires less mowing and you can even let it bloom to attract bees . Go Native According to Better Homes and Gardens , you should always pick native trees and plants when selecting flora for your backyard. Trees and plants that are native to your area will attract butterflies, birds and wildlife, and are more suited for the local environment. These plants also come equipped to handle diseases and pests that are common in your location. After they take root, native flora is also easy to maintain. These plants typically do not need extra fertilizers or pesticides because they are already accustomed to the soil. They also require less watering and tend to do well with the natural weather patterns. Use Wood Composite Lumber If you are building a new deck or adding on to an existing structure, consider using wood composite instead of traditional lumber. Wood composite is made out of recycled plastic and reclaimed lumber. According to Tata and Howard , the end result is a sturdy product that is more durable than natural wood and easier to maintain. This type of wood will also last longer than the traditional alternative, which makes it friendly to your budget. Using recycled plastic is also great for the environment and helps reduce the amount of trash that ends up in our landfills . Best Mowing Practices When mowing your grass, only cut off a third of the grass length each time. You should also mow more frequently as this will allow your lawn to retain water. After you mow, consider leaving the clippings in the lawn or try mulching them in. The clippings are mostly made of water and have high concentrations of nitrogen. If you simply cannot leave the clippings behind, you can always add them to your compost pile instead of throwing them in the trash . Related: Tips and tricks to make spring cleaning more eco-friendly Avoid Harmful Pesticides It is no secret that pesticides are bad for the environment and people’s health . Several pesticides that were once widely used, such as DDT, have since been outlawed and deemed hazardous. For best practices, it is recommended that you avoid using pesticides in your backyard. Instead, try pesticide alternatives like natural herbicides or wildlife for pest control. If you need to fight mites or other bug infestations, you can use oil-based sprays or soaps that work as natural insecticides. If you are in need of some exercise or want to soak up some sun, you can always go the old fashioned route and pull weeds by hand. You can also introduce certain types of insects into your garden, like praying mantises or lacewings, which are great at eating pests, creating the ultimate eco-friendly backyard. Build A Compost Composting cuts down on garbage production and gives you a high quality fertilizer for your garden. Better yet, starting a compost pile only requires some soil and a warm location. You can build a compost pile out in the open or invest in a bin if you are concerned about aesthetics. Compost bins are affordable and come in a variety of styles to match existing décor. You can put all kinds of things in a compost pile. From veggie scraps and eggshells to newspapers and lawn clippings, anything that rapidly decomposes is ideal for composting. These types of items will attract the right kind of bugs, which then will turn the waste into fertilizer. A compost pile typically takes around six to nine months to produce fertilizer. Images via Shutterstock

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Music festivals and events can set the stage for sustainability

March 29, 2019 by  
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When it comes to entertainment , fans contemplate who they will pay to see in concert, what they will wear to the event and who they will invite to accompany them. But when masses of people gather, there is always potential for high volumes of waste and environmental damage. With sustainability taking a front seat culturally these days, event organizers are starting to pay attention to ways they can provide eco-friendly concerts and festivals. From fans, to artists, to organizers, everyone plays an important part in helping to achieve the same sustainable goal. Artists can inspire change While organizers can take the initiative to implement changes at each venue, performers have an impressive influence when they choose to work sustainably. When an artist with a strong fan base takes a stand, he or she can cultivate huge change. Take Jack Johnson, for example — a major name in the music industry is also a name linked to sustainable practices. His recording studio in L.A. is also where his team packages and ships CDs. The entire operation is solar-powered for a small carbon footprint in an industry that generally uses copious amounts of energy. Johnson’s crew also fuels tour buses with biodiesel and sells sustainable concert merchandise. In 2014, Johnson began the All at Once movement, which requires venues to agree to certain contract terms in order for him to perform. While some artists request specific foods or beverages in a green room, Johnson’s demands include energy-efficient light bulbs, 100 percent recycling and the elimination of plastic . In a world where sustainable practices are increasingly dire, Johnson and many other artists are setting an example for venues and fans to follow. Venues should set an eco-friendly example Located in the outdoor mecca of Oregon along the beautiful Deschutes River, the Les Schwab Amphitheater decided to become part of the solution to concert-produced waste with its Take Note initiative. The initiative outlines that all vendors serving food or beverages must agree to use 100 percent compostable dishes, utensils and cups. In addition, there are no single-use plastic water bottles for sale on the campus. Instead, there are free water refill stations. This particular venue also sells reusable cups made from stainless steel or non-petroleum silicone. The cups can be brought into the venue for any event in the future, too. Members of an Oregon-based group called the Broomsmen , which is focused on promoting zero-waste events, monitor the refuse stations at the Les Schwab Amphitheater to ensure garbage, compostables and recyclables all end up in the correct bins. Instead of a sea of plastic at the concert’s end, the result is a 50 percent reduction in waste over the past three seasons. Related: 100% recyclable cardboard tents could solve the waste problem at music festivals Other venues across the country have implemented similar policies. The Santa Barbara Bowl is working toward a carbon-neutral venue and boasts a landscape of native and drought-tolerant plants. Since 2013, The Bowl has made huge changes to how it handles waste. It currently diverts 90 percent of waste from landfills and hopes to reach 99 percent. In addition to the reduce, reuse, recycle and compost philosophy, the Bowl uses low-energy lighting and produces electricity for the venue using solar panels. Venues such as the Les Schwab Amphitheater and the Santa Barbara Bowl are inspiring drastic changes for event spaces around the world. Fans need to support sustainable practices As a fan, there are numerous actions you can take to facilitate the green-entertainment initiative. First, consider your mode of travel to the event and opt for eco-friendly alternatives. Consider carpooling with friends, using uberPOOL or taking public transit for a smaller carbon footprint . If you are close enough, ride a bike or walk instead of hopping into a cab. When choosing events to attend, consider the venues. Choose venues working toward sustainability, and support their efforts. Food and drinks are a huge part of the concert and festival environment, so come prepared to enjoy these treats in an eco-friendly manner. Bring your own refillable water bottle or reusable cup. If you don’t have one, purchase one at the event. Not only does this offer you discounts for the life of the cup, but it also funds progress at the venue. Many vendors have reduced straw waste by offering them by request only, and you can help even more by bringing your own reusable straw to the show. Speaking of waste , do your part to properly sort garbage, compostables and recycling. With a combined effort from artists, venue organizers and fans, the age-old pleasure derived from musical events can be both memorable and sustainable. Enjoy the show! Images via Les Schwab Amphitheater and Brian Lauer

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