This wallet can tell you about its carbon impact

February 18, 2021 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

This wallet can tell you about its carbon impact Heather Clancy Thu, 02/18/2021 – 01:00 For more essays by Heather Clancy, sign up for VERGE Weekly , one of our free newsletters. In early January, I covered personal care products company Aveda’s project to trace and verify the provenance of its vanilla supply using blockchain — and to allow consumers to peek into that information by later this year. It’s not the only consumer brand dreaming about that sort of connection or looking to digital technology as the answer.  Fashion brand Covalent, created to showcase the potential of a biomaterial called AirCarbon made by biotech firm Newlight Technologies, has started communicating with its customers in a similar way. It’s using blockchain software from IBM to track and disclose carbon impact data related to the production of its products, marketed as carbon-negative. Covalent’s metric is called Carbon Date, a 12-digit number stamped on the roughly three dozen SKUs in its product catalog — items ranging from wallets to clutches to smartphone sleeves to tote bags. Consumers can see the data by visiting the Covalent website and entering their unique code. (The test drive at the link shows you the sort of information that is shared.) The Carbon Date is verified with footprint information from carbon accounting firm Carbon Trust, which created a cradle-to-cradle analysis of AirCarbon after an assessment in 2020.  Newlight CEO Mark Herrema told me his company created the Carbon Date concept to appeal to consumers seeking to dig deeper into the environmental claims being made by consumer products brands. “We had this epiphany that GHG emissions seem like such a vague issue … It was about turning this into something tangible,” he says. The material used to create the products, AirCarbon, is made through a renewable energy-powered anaerobic production process in which microorganisms digest air, saltwater and captured greenhouse gases to create a bioderived polymer. According to Newlight, for every one kilogram of AirCarbon produced in this manner, 88 kilograms of CO2 equivalent are sequestered. Hence, Covalent’s ability to make a carbon-negative claim.  Right now, this is a pretty niche brand: The only place you can buy the Covalent items is on the company’s e-commerce site, and at $480 for a tote bag, they’re obviously not meant for the average consumer.  But Debbie Kestin-Schildkraut, marketing and alliances lead for IBM AI applications and the tech firm’s global blockchain ecosystem, says the importance of proving environmental claims is growing. “We are seeing in every study that we do that more and more consumers are willing to change their shopping habits … Blockchain can help build involvement,” she said. IBM’s blockchain technology is being used in some pretty compelling ways, including to track scallop fishing and offer a premium price to certain boats that fish more sustainably than others; and for food safety applications, such as the ones being deployed by Walmart . Recycler Plastic Bank is also using IBM blockchain services to verify its claims . (The same integrator that wrote that application helped Covalent with the Carbon Date project.) To be clear, the life-cycle analysis used for the Carbon Data calculation includes just raw material extraction, transport of raw materials and manufacturing. It doesn’t include the e-commerce cycle, nor does it include end-of-life considerations that are part of circular economy assessments. AirCarbon is billed a “natural, biologically degradable material” similar to wood. If it winds up in the ocean, it can be eaten by microorganisms — much like a banana peel, according to the company’s FAQ. Is this all a publicity stunt? The skeptic in me says yes but I love the creativity and you can’t argue with the need for transparency initiatives that include the consumer. In this way, the Carbon Date initiative echoes similar moves to label food with their carbon impact that have been embraced by the likes of Unilever, Chipotle and Panera Breads. The challenge will be finding an approach that doesn’t require a translation guide for every single consumer production category. Topics Carbon Removal Consumer Products Zero Emissions Blockchain Featured Column Practical Magic Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Every Covalent product comes with a Carbon Date to help educate consumers about the impact of its production. Courtesy of Covalent

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Let’s rid our work environments of the toxic smoke of dysfunction

January 25, 2021 by  
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Let’s rid our work environments of the toxic smoke of dysfunction Chris Gaither Mon, 01/25/2021 – 01:30 Before he saw the smoke, he felt it in his throat. It tasted foul. It curled into his nose, his mouth, his lungs. He looked up from his computer. His colleagues were tapping at their keyboards. The smoke hovered around them. He walked to his manager’s door. “This office is filled with toxic smoke,” he said. “Yes,” she said. “Don’t worry. We have a plan.” “What will you do?” he asked. “Install new ventilation? Move us to another space?” “No,” she said. “We’ve hired you an executive coach to help you develop strategies for dealing with the toxic smoke.” “But I don’t want to deal with the toxic smoke,” he said. “I want to get rid of it.” “Work with the coach,” she said. “Leave a few minutes early today. Get a massage. You’ll be okay.” We must approach our personal sustainability challenges as a problem with our ecosystem. I heard this parable last year, before the pandemic, from a fellow executive coach. It lodged in my gut. I realized that so many of my coaching clients — in big corporations and small nonprofits, sustainability teams and sales departments — were asking me for help dealing with the stress and dysfunction of their organizations. They were breathing the same toxic smoke as everyone around them. Sometimes they were, themselves, pumping that toxic smoke into their work environments. Yet they were suffering alone, trying to solve it alone. Just as I did during my hectic career leading teams at the Los Angeles Times, Google and Apple. If anything, the pandemic has increased the pressure on us to deal with this suffering in isolation. But here’s the thing: Avoiding burnout is not simply a matter of individual responsibility. It’s a leadership challenge, and we are all leaders. Throughout this Sustainable You series for GreenBiz, I have encouraged you to tend to your personal sustainability so you can do great work on behalf of the planet. This kind of self-care remains critical. But it’s insufficient. As environmental sustainability leaders, you are, by nature, systems thinkers. You identify root causes. You craft upstream solutions. You see the forests, not just the trees, and work to improve the ecosystems so the individuals in them can thrive. So, let’s approach our personal sustainability challenges as a problem with our ecosystem. To get to the root cause of the smoke, we need to think bigger. “You can’t expect people to adopt healthy lifestyles when their work environments reinforce or even cause poor habits,” says Jeffrey Pfeffer, an organizational-behavior professor at Stanford University. Pfeffer is the author of the 2018 book, “Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance — and What We Can Do About It.” He writes that companies have created elaborate systems for tracking their progress on environmental sustainability, but they seem to have forgotten to measure the human sustainability of their own employees. Current management practices harm employee engagement and job performance, Pfeffer says, and they increase employee turnover and healthcare costs. There’s even more at stake. To solve global, complex challenges like the climate emergency, racial injustice and species extinction, we must be adaptive leaders. We need to be mindful. Creative. Intuitive. Curious. Willing to experiment, learn and redesign. Open-minded and open-hearted. That’s so hard to do when we’re burned out. Organizational culture is a living, breathing thing. We draw from it, and we feed into it. We’re constantly creating it together. So, when everyone around us is stressed out, exhausted and closed off, it’s easy to shift into that same mode. Our mirror neurons, those evolutionary tools that help us build nourishing social connections, pick up on those signals and encourage us to be like the others. To suffer with the rest. I know this feeling well. I have held, deep in my body, the physical and emotional distress that burnout carries. We can work this way for a while, but eventually we deplete our energy and fall apart. As an executive leadership coach, I have supported many individuals to the other side of this burnout, where they’ve refilled their energy reserves and brought their creativity back to life. I’ve also followed my intuition upstream, seeking the origins of the toxic smoke. I work with full teams and their leaders to help them shift organizational culture: to slow down, reflect on what really matters, call out harmful behaviors, give themselves permission to embrace a more wholesome way of working. Healthy people, healthy planet A healthy earth depends on healthy people. To heal the planet, we must first heal ourselves. So, my fellow leaders, let’s set an intention to cultivate human sustainability in our organizations — for the sake of our employees and the communities and natural habitats they’re working to protect. Let’s look for the toxic smoke curling through our Zoom meetings, our email inboxes and Slack channels. Let’s name it, get curious about where it came from, chase it down to its source. Let’s pay close attention to the tone we are setting for our teams. The moods we are carrying into our interactions. The behaviors we are modeling. The harmful ways of being that we are introducing or accepting. Let’s check in on each other. Let’s work to understand how others in our groups are experiencing the world, how they might be suffering differently from us, and offer them support. Let’s talk about burnout and wellness — with our team members, fellow leaders, bosses, even our boards of directors. Let’s gather our teams. Let’s come up with, say, 50 things we could do to improve our health and happiness at work. Then let’s commit to new ways of being together. Let’s craft agreements and hold each other accountable. Instead of trying to manage the toxic smoke in our work environments, let’s get rid of it. Because only when we can breathe can we truly do this critical planetary work. Pull Quote We must approach our personal sustainability challenges as a problem with our ecosystem. Topics Leadership Health & Well-being Featured Column Sustainable You Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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The top vegan holiday recipes submitted by you

December 21, 2020 by  
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Drumroll, please… after much deliberation (and salivating), Inhabitat has chosen the winner and runners-up of our 2020 Vegan Holiday Recipe competition. The winner receives our sustainable chef’s kit featuring the Ninja Foodi 2-Basket Air Fryer, Farberware Knife Set, Bamboo Cutting Board Set and a Stasher bag bundle. Because we were blown away by the creative submissions for this contest, we’ve decided to highlight some of our favorites, too. Without further ado, we present our contest winner and top contenders. First place: Vegan Wild Rice Stuffed Seitan Wellington Congratulations are in order for Megan C., who submitted this mouth-watering vegan wellington. We chose this recipe because it was impressive, unique and festive. Now, Megan can plan for many more days of cooking and baking ahead with a prize pack of new kitchen goodies. For the wild rice (prepare a day in advance) • 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted • 1/4 C yellow onion, finely chopped • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped • 1/2 tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves • 1 C cooked wild rice mix • 1/3 C pecans, toasted and finely chopped • 1/8 C dried cranberries, finely chopped • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more as needed • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed Place the melted butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. When it foams, add the onion, shallots and celery, season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, around 6 minutes. Stir in the thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the rice, pecans, cranberries and measured salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. For the caramelized onions (prepare a day in advance): • 6 yellow onions, sliced • 3 tbsp butter • Salt • 5 tbsp balsamic vinegar Heat a large skillet to medium heat. Add butter and onions to the pan. Sauté onions until translucent. Add in pinches of salt to help the onions sweat. Stir and continue to sauté for another 10 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar to onions and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. For the seitan (best prepared a day in advance, needs time to cool) • 1 1/2 C vital wheat gluten • 1/4 C nutritional yeast • 1 tsp poultry spice • 1 tsp onion powder • 1/2 tsp garlic powder • 1 tsp salt • 3/4 C water • 1/2 C soy milk • 2 tbsp oil • 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar Get your water boiling in a big pot with a steamer over it (I use a metal mesh strainer). Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients in a separate bowl and then add this mixture to the dry ingredients. Combine with a wooden spoon until it forms a wet dough. If it seems too wet, add a bit more vital wheat gluten. It should be soft but still hold together. Transfer dough to a countertop or board. Flatten it into a rectangle with your hands, about 1/2″ thick and no longer than your steamer. Put the wild rice in a wide line, lengthwise, in the seitan. (Imagine the seitan is a flag with four horizontal stripes. The two middle stripes should be covered in wild rice.) Compress the stuffing with your hands so the center of the roast will be firm. Grab each side of the dough and seal them around the rice as best you can. Transfer the roll to a piece of aluminum foil, and tightly roll it up. Transfer the seitan into the steamer and steam for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. Cool completely. For the final wellington: • vegan puff pastry (most store-bought puff pastry is already vegan) • lots of melted vegan butter or use Just Egg • Stuffed seitan • Caramelized onion Preheat the oven to 400°F. Flatten the puff pastry out with a rolling pin until it is slightly larger than your seitan, (you want it to all fit in the puff pastry shell). Spread caramelized onion as an even layer across the puff pastry. Place seitan in the middle of the puff pastry and wrap it. Score the top to allow air to escape. Cover in melted vegan butter or Just Egg, which gives it the golden color while baking. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until your pastry is golden and crispy. Runners-up for appetizers There were so many incredible recipes , so we decided to pull together an entire menu of delicious vegan dishes broken up by category. Here are some excellent appetizers for the holidays. Vegan Spanakopita This vegan spanakopita recipe by Elaine P. calls for simple, fresh ingredients to create an impressive vegan dish that adds to the holiday dinner table. • 12 oz vegan feta cheese • 8 oz firm tofu • 1 lb cooked baby spinach • 1 sweet onion, sautéed in 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil • 1 lb phyllo dough • 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil Combine the first four ingredients and mix well. Remove phyllo dough from its box and lay flat. Cut phyllo dough into three long strips and cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel to prevent drying. Take one strip of phyllo dough and dab on olive oil with pastry brush. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of spinach/vegan feta filling and fold into triangles using a flag-folding technique. Place on baking tray and brush the tops with olive oil. Repeat with the remaining mixture, then bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about 30 servings. Christmas Soda Bread Bread is a mealtime staple, and we loved the festive flair of Samantha Y.’s soda bread, which uses spinach and tomato paste as natural food dyes. For the green dough: • 195g whole wheat pastry flour • 1/2 tsp baking soda • 1/2 tsp baking powder • 1/2 tsp sea salt • 120 ml plant-based milk • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar • 65g fresh spinach For the red dough: • 195g whole wheat pastry flour • 1/2 tsp baking soda • 1/2 tsp baking powder • 1/2 tsp sea salt • 120ml plant-based milk • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar • 60g tomato paste • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika Preheat your oven to 425°F. Make the green dough: In a food processor, blend the milk, vinegar and spinach until smooth. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the spinach mixture to the dry ingredients and combine with a spatula until incorporated. Set aside. Make the red dough: Blend the milk, vinegar and tomato paste together until smooth. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and paprika. Add the tomato mixture to the dry ingredients and combine with a spatula until well incorporated. On a lightly floured surface, pat or roll out the green dough into a 6.5x10inch rectangle. Repeat with the red dough. Stack the green dough on top of the red dough. Roll the dough up into a batard (an oblong shape) and seal the ends so that the red dough covers up the green dough. Place the loaf onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Slash the top of the loaf in three diagonals. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing. New Year’s Eve Roasted Chestnut Soup You don’t have to roast your chestnuts on an open fire, but bonus points if you do! Enjoying this soup, submitted by Wendy W., sounds like the perfect way to ring in the new year . • 2 1/2 pounds fresh chestnuts, shelled and roasted • 2 tablespoons coconut oil • 1 medium onion, diced • 1 leek, sliced • 2 celery stalks, diced • 1 medium carrot, diced • 6 cups vegetable broth • 1 tsp salt • 1/2 tsp black pepper • 1 tbsp sage • Fresh parsley or thyme • Optional: 1 C alternative milk to substitute 1 C of vegetable broth Boil chestnuts in a medium pot for approximately 20-30 minutes. Drain and rinse. Using 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, caramelize onions, celery, carrot and leek until softened. Working in batches, in a high speed blender, puree chestnuts, onion, celery, carrot, leek and vegetable broth. Blend on high until smooth. Add mixture to a sauce pan and cook down until desired thickness. Add alternative milk for a creamier texture. Warm the soup and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh parsley or thyme. This soup is so delicate, it is a flavor few get a chance to experience. Runners up for entrees Vegans are used to being stuck with a few sides to choose from during celebratory meals … but no more! Plant-based main dishes are absolutely delicious, as shown by the following recipes. Creamy Stinging Nettle Tagliatelle We couldn’t help but share this unique pasta dish, which even suggests foraging for the stinging nettles. This recipe, submitted by Azem S., is “inspired by my grandmother’s love of cooking with stinging nettles in Kosovo and my girlfriend’s veganism!” • 1 onion • 2 garlic cloves • 1 vegan stock cube • 1 plain oat-based yogurt • 300ml vegetable stock • 300ml oat milk • 1 large bunch of fresh nettles (available at most parks in London, for free) • 1 pack of eggless tagliatelle Start by finely chopping the onion and grating the garlic cloves, then add both to a large pan with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Let the onion and garlic fry for a few minutes until caramelized. Give the nettles a thorough wash (use gloves) and place straight into the pot. Cover the pan with a lid and let the nettles sweat for 2-3 minutes, then add 300ml of vegetable stock to stop the frying process. Leave the lid off and reduce by half. Once the ingredients have softened and start to break up, add in oat milk and oat-based plain yogurt and stir thoroughly. You can now add seasoning with a pinch of salt and black pepper (to your own preference — general rule, you can always add more but it’s difficult to take them out). With the lid slightly at an angle, let the sauce reduce by a third to a thick creamy consistency. While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta (preferably fresh) until it is soft and silky. Once ready, drain the pasta and place straight into the nettle sauce. Mix the two thoroughly and leave for a few minutes to rest with the lid on under its own heat. Serve with a fresh rocket and tomato salad (add salt, black pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar to your own preference). Thai Sweet Potato Noodles This warming dish would be delicious any time of year, but it is especially so on colder days. The colorful, fresh ingredients make it a healthier option, too! Many thanks to Suzanne P. for sharing this tasty, nutritious meal idea. • 4 oz Thai rice noodles • 1 tablespoon olive oil • 1/2 medium onion, chopped • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped • 1 medium sweet potato, skin removed and chopped • ½ inch piece of ginger, chopped fine • 1/2 tsp salt • 2 tbsp Thai red curry paste  • 1/4 C lime juice • 2 tbsp brown sugar • 1 can coconut milk • 1/2 cup pineapple tidbits • 2 tbsp chopped peanuts Cook the noodles according to the package directions and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, jalapeno, sweet potato, ginger and salt and sauté until the onion is soft, but not browned. Add the red curry paste and 1/4 cup of water and sauté for another minute. Add the lime juice, brown sugar, coconut milk and pineapple and simmer until the sweet potato is cooked through. If the sauce gets too thick, you can thin it with a few tablespoons of water. Stir in the noodles and continue to heat for another minute. Top with the chopped peanuts and serve. Baked Melanzane in Spiced Holiday Sauce Essentially an eggplant parmigiana recipe, this submission from Sandhya S. offers a festive touch by adding both red and white sauces, the latter of which is especially impressive to make vegan. • 1 large brinjal (eggplant), blue or purple with smooth skin • 100 g moist tofu •200 g of extra virgin olive oil • 1 1/2 tsp salt • 1 tsp crushed black pepper • 3/4 cup gluten-free yellow corn flour or bajra flour • 1/2 C powdered flax seeds or bread crumbs • 1/2 tsp oregano • 1/2 C water Ingredients for white sauce: • 100 g water • 2 tbsp gluten-free smooth flour or wheat/white flour • 200 g of soya or walnut drink, unsweetened • 1 tsp salt • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger • 1 tsp dried thyme • 1 tsp olive oil Ingredients for red sauce: • 5 plum tomatoes • 1 red bell pepper • 6 cloves of garlic • 1 tsp salt • 2 tsp basil seeds • 200 g water for boiling To prepare red sauce: Cut the tops off the tomatoes and red pepper. Boil in water for few minutes until the skins come off easily. Remove the skins and retain the pulp. Drain most of the water, and set the pot back to the stove on low heat. Crush the tomatoes and pepper using a potato masher or hand blender. Add salt and basil seeds, then cook for 5 to 6 minutes, mixing continuously with the masher or mixer, until a smooth sauce is formed. Turn off the stove and set aside. To prepare the white sauce: Heat a skillet with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and dry gluten-free flour on low flame. Stir for just a minute until the flour is mixed with the oil. Add water, soya or walnut milk and salt and bring to a low boil while mixing continuously for 2 minutes. The sauce should be smooth and not lumpy. When the mixture starts to splutter, carefully stir and turn off the heat. Add thyme and grated ginger to the white sauce. Tip: To make the sauces smoother, blend the sauces separately before adding the ginger and thyme seasoning. To prepare the brinjal and tofu: Wash and cut the brinjal into 1/8 inch thick slices; they will look like round discs. Set aside on a plate, sprinkle with salt and cover with a paper towel or cloth. Slice the tofu into 1/4 inch slices and set aside on another plate. Sprinkle salt and crushed black pepper and a pinch of turmeric on the tofu slices. Set aside and cover with paper towel or cloth. Make a smooth paste with the gluten-free yellow corn flour and water. It should be a free-flowing custard consistency, not too thick. On another plate, lay out the dry bread crumbs or flax powder mixed with oregano. Heat 200 g olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Dip the brinjal slices one by one into the flour paste and then into the dry breadcrumbs, coating both sides lightly. Deep fry each slice in the heated oil until golden brown. Sit the slices on a paper towel-lined plate or wire rack to remove excess oil. If there is any flour paste and breadcrumbs left after the brinjal is done, repeat the process of dipping tofu into the flour and crumbs and deep fry for a minute. Tofu can also be used as-is without frying if the paste and crumbs are gone. Preheat the oven at 170°C (about 340°F). While the oven is preheating, lightly grease a shallow glass pan. Pour half of the white sauce into the pan. Arrange the brinjal crisps on the sauce in one row. The discs may overlap slightly. Pour half of the red sauce over the first layer of brinjal. Place the rest of the brinjal slices on the red sauce. Pour most of the remaining red sauce on the layer of brinjal to cover it lightly. Place one layer of tofu on the red sauce. Pour nearly all of the remaining white sauce on the tofu layer. Place all the remaining pieces of tofu, if any, on the white sauce. Use the last of the white and red sauces on the plates, drizzling in a zig-zag pattern. Lightly shake the casserole dish to let the layers settle. Lightly drizzle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and bake for 25 minutes in the center of the oven. Just before serving, heat the dish for 5 minutes at 150°C (about 300°F) to get a light brown color on the tofu, similar to melted cheese. Runners-up for side dishes Sides are key to a vegan’s heart. The following recipes stole ours for their creativity and extra care given to presentation. Lacey’s Vegan Green Bean Casserole Lacey L., you’ve really accomplished a lot here. Veganizing a cream-based dish and making it taste good isn’t easy, but you’ve made it look effortless. • 3 cans cut green beans • 1/2 C unsweetened almond milk • 1/2 C vegetable broth • 2 tbsp flour (more flour = thicker gravy) • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast (or more to taste — don’t be shy!) • 1/2 tbsp salt • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced (or replace salt and garlic with garlic salt if necessary) • 1/2 onion, finely diced (optional) • Pepper to taste • Fried onion crunchies (if available, also get crispy garlic) Preheat oven to 350°F. Put drained green beans in a casserole dish. Add onions and garlic. Mix almond milk, nutritional yeast, flour, broth and seasonings in a bowl. Pour the mixture over the green beans, add half of the onion crunchies. and mix. Bake for 30 minutes. Stir up casserole and add more flour to thicken if necessary (keep in mind it will thicken a bit more as it cools as well). Add more onion crunchies to the top, and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and add more onion crunchies as desired. This dish is incredible fresh, but it doesn’t reheat as well. I suggest only making what you need for the upcoming meal. Sweet Potato Pecan & Pomegranate Medallions with Mexican Cashew Chipotle Crema From the base to the garnish, this recipe by Areli B. is crafted with attention to detail. The addition of pecans and pomegranate seeds offer traditional flavors in an exciting new way. • 2 large sweet potatoes • 1/2 tsp paprika • 1/2 tsp cumin • 1/2 tsp cinnamon • 1 tsp kosher salt • 2 tbsp olive oil • 1 C candied pecans • 1/2 C fresh pomegranate For the Mexican Cashew Chipotle Crema: • 1 C raw cashews • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar • 1 tbsp chipotle in adobo • 1 tsp lime juice • 1 tsp kosher salt • 1/4 vegan nut milk or vegetable broth For the garnish: • 2 green onions, clean and cut (green part only) • Zest of 1 lime • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar reduction (heat 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar on low for 5 to 8 minutes until it reduces to 2 tbsp) Preheat oven to 450°F. In a small bowl, combine paprika, cumin, cinnamon and salt. Mix well and add olive oil to make a paste. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 1-inch-thick rounds. Brush sweet potatoes with olive oil paste. Place them on a large baking tray without touching each other. Bake sweet potatoes for 8 to 10 minutes on each side until golden, flipping them half way through. Transfer to a serving tray and set aside. Soak the cashews in water for 4-6 hours. Drain the cashews, then add them to a blender along with vinegar, chipotle, lime juice, salt and nut milk or vegetable broth. Blend the cashews for a 3-4 minutes until completely smooth. If the mixture is grainy, continue blending until the cashews are smooth. Add 1/4 cup of liquid if needed. Store in a jar with a tight fitting lid in the fridge. It will last one week. Assemble medallions by placing sweet potatoes on a plate, add a couple of pecans on each medallion, drizzle Mexican crema and now add pomegranate seeds. Drizzle balsamic vinegar reduction and garnish with green onion greens and lime zest. Finish with salt and paper. Enjoy! Festive Holiday Wild Rice and Purple Potato Medley This recipe from Emily F. combines rice and veggies with warming spices and tops it all off with fresh herbs like cilantro and mint as well as pomegranate arils to give it a festive touch. • 1/4 C canola oil • 1/2 C carrot, diced • 4 cooked purple fingerling potatoes, sliced • 1/2 C yellow bell pepper, cut in chunks • 4 C cooked wild rice • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice • 1/2 tsp salt • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper • 1 tsp ground garam masala • 1 tsp ground turmeric • 1/4 C shelled pistachio nuts • 1/3 C pomegranate seeds • 2 tbsp mint leaves, torn • 2 tbsp cilantro leaves In a saucepan, sauté carrot in canola oil until just soft. Add cooked potato, bell pepper, cooked wild rice, lemon juice, salt, cayenne pepper, garam masala and turmeric; toss well. Remove from heat and pour into a serving bowl. Toss in pistachio nuts, pomegranate seeds, mint and cilantro. Runners-up for desserts The moment we’ve all been waiting for … dessert! So many desserts are made with eggs, butter and milk, so veganizing them can be a challenge. Vegan Cinnamon Roll Cake We were drooling instantly as we read the recipe for Alison F.’s cinnamon roll cake. Don’t judge us for eating this for breakfast and dessert. For the cake: • 1 3/4 C gluten-free, all-purpose flour • 1 C white sugar • 1 tsp baking soda • 1/4 tsp sea salt • 1 C almond milk • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar • 1/3 C coconut oil, softened • 2 tsp vanilla extract For the filling: • 1/4 C vegan butter, softened • 1/2 C coconut sugar • 1 tbsp cinnamon • 1 tbsp gluten-free, all-purpose flour For the frosting: • 1/2 C vegan cream cheese • 1/2 C vegan butter • 2 C powdered sugar • A shake of cinnamon • 1 C chopped walnuts (optional) Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-inch cake pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix together the almond milk and vinegar. Set aside for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, beat together the almond milk mixture, coconut oil and vanilla extract. Add the flour, sugar, baking soda and sea salt. Beat until smooth. Pour batter into cake pan and set aside. In a small bowl, beat together the filling ingredients. Once smooth, drop by spoonfuls over the cake batter. Swirl into the batter using a knife. Bake cake for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. While cake is baking, beat together the frosting ingredients. Once cake is cooled, spread frosting generously over cake, making sure to frost the sides. Add walnuts if using. Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream with Warm Miso Caramel Pecans The secret to this creamy, dairy-free ice cream by Hidemi W.? Avocado. Consider our minds blown. Best of all, you don’t even need an ice cream machine to make this. • 2 medium avocados • 1/2 C almond milk, unsweetened • 1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder • 1/4 C granulated sugar • 1/2 tsp sea salt • 1 tsp white miso paste • 2 tbsp granulated sugar • 2 tbsp and 2 tsp water • 2 tbsp pecans, chopped Halve each avocado, remove the pit and scoop out avocado flesh. Cut avocado into a small pieces and put into a resealable bag. Freeze overnight. The next day, remove the avocado from the freezer and put it into a food processor. Add almond milk, cocoa, 1/4 cup sugar and sea salt. Pulse until avocado is almost crushed and mixture is well blended. Scoop the mixture out and put into 4 serving glasses. In a nonstick skillet, put miso, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and water. Turn on the heat to medium. When the sugar begins dissolving and big bubbles start to appear, stir the mixture until well blended and slightly thickened. Turn off the heat and stir in pecans. Pour these miso-caramel pecans over the ice cream. Orange Kissed Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies Not only are Kim V. D.’s orange-and-chocolate gingerbread cookies vegan, they’re also gluten-free! The gingerbread, chocolate and orange blend together for an explosion of seasonal flavors. • 1/2 C dairy-free butter spread (I used Melt) • 3/4 C light brown sugar • 2 tsp pure vanilla • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg • 3 tsp ground ginger • 1/4 tsp ground cloves • 1 tbsp molasses • 1 C finely ground almond flour • 1/2 C gluten-free flour blend with xanthan gum • 1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder • 1 tbsp orange zest • 1/2 tsp baking soda • 1 C sifted powdered sugar • 1 tbsp unsweetened cashew or almond milk • 1-2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a stainless steel baking sheet with parchment paper. With a mixer, cream together the dairy-free spread, light brown sugar, spices, molasses and vanilla until smooth. Add in the almond flour, gluten-free flour, cocoa, orange zest and baking soda to the wet ingredients. Mix until well combined. Using a 1 tablespoon-sized spring-loaded scoop, scoop out level tablespoons of dough. Roll the dough between the palms of your hands to create a ball. Place the ball onto the cookie sheet. Cookies should be spaced 2 inches from each other, as these cookies do spread. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Then, using a thin spatula, transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. Allow the cookies to cool completely. In a bowl, stir together the sifted powdered sugar and almond/cashew milk and orange juice until smooth. Dip a fork into the drizzle and drizzle back and forth over the cookies. Allow to set completely before serving or storing. Images via Adobe Stock and Unsplash

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Wood-burning stoves can triple particulate matter levels in homes

December 21, 2020 by  
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A recent study published in the journal Atmosphere shows that wood-burning stoves are harmful to air quality and can triple the level of particulate matter in homes. Researchers are proposing that these wood burners be sold with health warning labels. The study authors also recommend that the stoves are not used around children or elderly adults. According to the researchers, the number of harmful particles in a room increases when the wood-burning stove’s door is opened for refueling. Thus, the level of pollution depends on the number of times the stove is refilled. People who load wood into the stove once are less exposed to the higher particulate matter levels as compared to those who refuel multiple times. Related: In London, coroner rules air pollution as cause of death of a child The research was carried out in Sheffield over a period of one month in early 2020. A total of 19 homes were surveyed, all of which use modern wood-burning stoves that are certified by the government as being “smoke-exempt appliances.” The research shows that these products are still risky due to the particles they supply to the indoor atmosphere. “Our findings are a cause for concern,” said Rohit Chakraborty, lead author of the study. “It is recommended that people living with those particularly susceptible to air pollution , such as children, the elderly or vulnerable, avoid using wood-burning stoves. If people want to use them, we recommend minimizing the time the stove is open during lighting or refueling.” The particles produced by such stoves have been found to be damaging to the human respiratory system . The particles can pass through the lungs into the blood system and can increase risk of heart and lung diseases. Wood and coal burning jointly contribute about 40% of outdoor  tiny particle pollution. Although there is no sufficient data on the potential pollution from wood used indoors, this study sheds light on how harmful this type of fuel can be. In a bid to deal with particle and carbon pollution, the U.K. government is currently phasing out sales for wet wood, which produces more smoke. However, more efforts still have to be made, given that the research only surveyed homes that use dry wood. + Atmosphere Via The Guardian Image via Meg Learner

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Inside the world’s first VR circular fashion summit: 4 key takeaways

October 14, 2020 by  
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Inside the world’s first VR circular fashion summit: 4 key takeaways Lilian Liu Wed, 10/14/2020 – 01:30 COVID-19 has radically accelerated the need for the fashion industry to innovate. The second edition of the Circular Fashion Summit bears fruit of this new socially distanced reality. The world’s first virtual reality (VR) fashion summit Oct. 3 and 4 was pioneered by founders Lorenzo Albrighi and ShihYun Kuo of Lablaco , a company that uses technology to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy for fashion, and was an official part of the Paris Fashion Week program this fall.  The virtual reality environment was mirrored after the Grand Palais, an iconic architectural exhibition hall at the heart of Paris and home to the famous Chanel shows. Fashion week formats have evolved dramatically during the pandemic — with digital and virtual shows or mixed digital plus in-person elements events taking place. The Circular Fashion Summit continued to push expectations. Participants were able to not just consume fashion content but also discuss, network and learn from others joining from around the globe —as long as they had a VR headset and an internet connection. Global apparel and footwear consumption is expected to grow by 81 percent by 2030, according to Global Fashion Agenda and the Boston Consulting Group . Under its current carbon emissions reduction trajectory, the fashion industry is projected to miss the 1.5 degree Celsius pathway by 50 percent, according to a recent study from McKinsey and the Global Fashion Agenda . Clearly, COVID-19 is no time for inaction. Originally planned as an in-person gathering, the Circular Fashion Summit team decided to host the summit in virtual reality — just like being at a real event but without the footprint of travel, and in the shape of your customized avatar. A screenshot shows panelists for a talk during the Circular Fashion Summit. Attendee avatars can be seen. Screenshot courtesy of Lilian Liu. 4 summit takeaways 1. Digital technologies are opening up new ways for us to consume fashion without the waste or carbon footprint…  During the “Technology: The New Product Storytelling” panel, it was astoundingly clear that emerging digital technologies can make a big difference for fashion brands and their customers. “Now that we socially-distance, we need different ways of engaging with audiences, from the first point of creation and design to retail and engaging the consumer. Digital and 3D is becoming integral for every fashion brand,” said Matthew Drinkwater, head of Fashion Innovation Agency at the London College of Fashion. As the technology gets better, digital prototypes of garments are becoming much closer to the real thing, and you can get feedback on early iterations to save material and time in producing real prototypes.  As fashion is transitioning to digital, the lines between industries have started to blur even more, and the relationship between fashion and the gaming industry has grown. Agatha Hood, head of advertising sales at Unity Technologies , a software development company that specializes in creating and operating interactive real-time 3D content, shared that 25 percent of in-game purchases in the U.S. are being spent on customizing personal avatars, characters or the virtual space.  After the conference, Hood added: “While VR is obviously a great way for both consumers and industry experts to view and explore fashion, another medium that makes us really excited is augmented reality. Being able to view fabrics, textures, designs in real life through a device really brings the products to life — to say nothing of the ability to try fashion on.” The technology already exists for us to interact with digital objects as a seamless part of the real world. In the future, we are likely to see more designers creating fashion in a digital format, making it easily available for consumers to engage in self-expression without buying new physical clothing — lowering the environmental and social footprint of fashion significantly. Virtual consumption could help us curb our everlasting appetite of buying physical clothing while keeping the creativity and fun of fashion alive. 2. …with an emphasis on the need for new skills, and a reminder that the transition to digital fashion needs to be inclusive. With stronger digital integration, we are rapidly seeing the need for education and new skills in the fashion workforce. Drinkwater pointed out the large generational gap in this regard. “A few years ago [fashion] students couldn’t leverage [digital creation platforms] such as Unity or Unreal Engine, but now they can and it makes a difference.”  From a global perspective, Omoyemi Akerele, founder of Style House Files , a creative development agency for Nigerian and African designers, and Lagos Fashion and Design Week, reminded attendees that we need to ensure that the transition is inclusive. “The future lies in virtual platforms; however, it’s important that nobody is left behind. The socio-economic impacts and value that fashion creates will go away from some,” she said.  Global apparel and footwear consumption is expected to grow by 81% by 2030 and under its current carbon emissions reduction trajectory, the fashion industry is projected to miss the 1.5 degree Celsius pathway by 50%. In the move from physical to virtual engagement, education will be critical. “We need to be able to empower everyone, where a virtual fashion economy still gives opportunity for meaningful employment and meaningful work for many,” Akerele said.  3. To accelerate progress on circularity, we need investment, expertise and a whole lot of collective action. During the “Sustainability: Turning Circularity into Business” panel, speakers discussed the barriers of circularity and how we can overcome them. More investments to scale circular innovation are critical. There is also a need for accessing information and expertise to unlock circular solutions. “Right now a handful of experts have the knowledge, and we need to give access to this expertise to more people,” said Nina Shariati, sustainability strategist at H&M who founded the pro-bono consultancy Doughnate Hour to help bring circularity expertise to brands.  Most strikingly, radical collaboration was the ingredient that was repeated again and again. The only way to overcome barriers in knowledge and scaling these innovations is if brands work pre-competitively and actively collaborate with policymakers and circularity experts.  To embody this philosophy, the Circular Fashion Summit promised to do more than just convene conversations and plans to take collective action. It has set three Action Goals to be achieved by 2021: recirculate 100,000 fashion item; tokenize 10,000 fashion items on the blockchain; and upcycle 1,000 pairs of sneakers. Perhaps it is time that we redefine the circular economy not as a siloed environmental issue but recognize the interconnected social impacts that circular business models could have. The goals are powered by Lablaco technology and will be achieved together with the summit attendees (“Catalysts”). For example, The Lane Crawford Joyce Group ’s social initiative Luxarity launched a resale initiative featuring pre-loved items from celebrity closets, with Lablaco tokenizing the items on the blockchain to help achieve the goals. Unilever is partnering with the blockchain powered peer-to-peer platform Swapchain to recirculate fashion. A partnership with Plastic Bank is also underway, in which the summit team is launching a recycled sunglasses collection. All in all, achieving the goals will save an estimated 2,000 metric tons of CO2 and 793,000 gallons of water from landfill. 4. Circular fashion can be more than closing the loop. Going beyond neutrality, companies can embrace regenerative practices and the social benefits of a circular economy.  Maggie Hewitt, founder of fashion company Maggie Marilyn , emphasized the need for brands to embrace regenerative practices. “The idea that we only have 60 years of top soil left if we continue to degrade our soil is scary. We will need to regenerate our soil if we want to be a lasting business,” she said.   The circular economy is often is seen through a lens of waste reduction and ensuring that materials go back into a circular system. Although Ellen MacArthur Foundation ’s definition of circular economy includes the concept “regenerate natural systems,” regeneration doesn’t get as much attention. To achieve real progress from circular solutions, we need to think beyond neutral and aim for positive impact. Another highlight is how circular business models can be used to increase access and inclusion to fashion, well-being and even economic opportunity. As Darren Shooter, design director at The North Face , shared, the company successfully piloted a rental service for tents and backpacks. “This opened up products to consumers that might not afford or have space for outdoor gear at home to still experience the outdoors. This rental pilot went really well and we are trying to scale it further to see how we can give people even more access to the outdoors,” he said, highlighting the human side and social benefits of a circular economy. It’s clear that the potential of new technologies to bring forward more sustainable ways of consuming fashion is endless. Smart fashion brands and innovators such as Lablaco and the Circular Fashion Summit are at the forefront of capturing this opportunity. In the same way that the summit presented a glimpse of our technological fashion future, it also opened up for the notion that we need to continue to push our circular impact and ambition. Perhaps it is time that we redefine the circular economy not as a siloed environmental issue but recognize the interconnected social impacts that circular business models could have. So, how did I feel attending my first VR summit? As I was teleporting between stages and exhibition hubs, I couldn’t help but wonder if we will ever gather as normal again, getting on an airplane instead of putting on a headset in my living room. With over 300 people getting up to speed with VR, which was a first for many, there were the inevitable tech glitches here and there, such as reboots of the system (and even some spontaneous dancing on stage!). Still, so much more engaging and fun than being on a zoom call. Would I do it again? Absolutely.  Pull Quote Global apparel and footwear consumption is expected to grow by 81% by 2030 and under its current carbon emissions reduction trajectory, the fashion industry is projected to miss the 1.5 degree Celsius pathway by 50%. Perhaps it is time that we redefine the circular economy not as a siloed environmental issue but recognize the interconnected social impacts that circular business models could have. Topics Circular Economy Fashion Virtual Reality 30 Under 30 Collective Insight 30 Under 30 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  franz12  on Shutterstock.

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Inside the world’s first VR circular fashion summit: 4 key takeaways

Unleash Kids’ Creativity With These Natural Craft Ideas

September 2, 2020 by  
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One of the most universal truths in the world is … The post Unleash Kids’ Creativity With These Natural Craft Ideas appeared first on Earth 911.

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Mountain Refuge is a modular tiny home made from plywood

June 10, 2020 by  
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Inspired by the human need to connect with nature, history and origin, the Mountain Refuge in Milan, Italy is a dramatic tiny home made from customizable wood modules. At just 258 square feet of interior space, the prefab wooden structure allows for multiple construction possibilities with optional add-ons and different floor plans. This cozy dwelling, created by Gnocchi+Danesi Architects, is perfectly designed to reside near snow-capped mountains, or really in any location that would suit such a quiet, minimalist sanctuary. The design merges traditional and contemporary with a rustic wooden interior, natural log furniture and striking black pine tar-finished roof pitches. Each plywood module works as its own independent structure, giving owners the freedom to reconfigure or expand depending on their tastes and needs. Different interior layouts grant the creativity to personalize the space even more based on preference. Related: The FLEXSE tiny house module is built from 100% recyclable materials The cabin itself consists of two separate prefab modules made out of plywood for a total of just over 258 square feet. An additional 129-square-foot module can be added at the owner’s discretion to expand the interior to 387 square feet. A helicopter delivery system opens up multiple possibilities for remote locations that might not otherwise be accessible for a tiny home. The modules have no need for foundation work or poured concrete, although the designers may recommend a thin concrete slab depending on the location. All finishes are made with plywood , with the exterior coated in black pine tar for waterproofing and a classic aesthetic. The front glazing, recommended as a single glass panel, is large enough to bring in plenty of natural light and gorgeous views. Additional equipment such as heating, water and electricity can also be added. According to the architects, construction price for a furnished and mounted Mountain Refuge cabin will vary from $40,000 to $50,000, depending on the specific plan and the location. + Mountain Refuge Images via The Mountain Refuge

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Scientists discover "pristine" fresh air in a unique location

June 10, 2020 by  
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It is difficult to think of a place on Earth where the air has yet to be contaminated by human activity. From metropolises like New York and large cities like Mumbai to even small villages, human activity has affected the natural air we breathe. However, a recent publication from  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences  shows that there is still one place on Earth with “pristine” air. The Southern Ocean , an area south of 40 degrees latitude, has been identified as one place on Earth where the air has not been contaminated. According to the publication, scientists have established that the air in this region is dominated by bacteria emitted in sea spray. Researchers used this bacteria as a “diagnostic tool” in the study. Essentially, findings from this study show that the air of the Southern Ocean is free of aerosols resulting from human activities. This makes the Southern Ocean one of the rare places where you can breathe pristine air. The study leading to this discovery was conducted by Colorado State University and used data collected by R/V Investigator, an Australian research ship. The R/V Investigator is operated by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency. In sampling the air, the R/V team collected samples from the marine boundary, which is in direct contact with the ocean water. The exercise mainly included collecting airborne microbes and analyzing them with source tracking, DNA sequencing and wind back trajectories to establish their marine origins. According to Colorado State University Scientists, the results of the samples from the Southern Ocean were very different from those in subtropical and Northern Hemisphere oceans. In those waters , the air quality is largely influenced by anthropogenic aerosols from the Northern Hemisphere. As the R/V team found, the process of sampling the air over the Southern Ocean can be difficult. The air was so clear that the team had little DNA to work with. Given that the sampling process included DNA tracking, the team struggled to collect the data needed to conclude the study. The news of fresh air existing on a planet dominated by human activity is good news for all humanity. It shows us that there is hope in our conservation efforts. Even though human activities are causing harm to the environment, some gains can be attained if we keep pushing for a better environment. + Cosmos Images via Pexels

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Scientists discover "pristine" fresh air in a unique location

Galapagos beach shelter shows off the versatility of renewable bamboo

January 23, 2017 by  
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Bamboo makes sense no matter where you use it. The Scarcity and Creativity Studio built this minimalist bamboo beach shelter in just two weeks, after all the commissioning details were sorted out. Located on the Playa Man in the capital of the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador , the structure was built with locally-grown bamboo to ensure a versatile, flexible and renewable landmark for the local community to use. The project is part of a larger initiative to improve beach facilities in Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the capital of Galápagos Province located on San Cristóbal, the easternmost island of the archipelago. The shelter, which provides shade and open air showers to users of Playa Man, was built in two weeks using locally-sourced bamboo, wire ties and concrete stoppers. Related: This solitary lookout shelter is a bridge between ancient civilization and modern life The team arrived in Galapagos to find that the The Municipality of San Cristobal, where they were supposed to build a new shade shelter and facilities, cancelled the project. They decided to use the four weeks to find a new home for the project, approaching several local institutions. Out of four proposed projects–a bridge, yoga training facility, police tower and shade shelter–they opted for the latter and reused the bamboo they had already purchased. Hopefully, this project will start a local, if not global trend of building with this strong and sustainable material that replenishes itself in only four years . + The Scarcity and Creativity Studio Via  Archdaily

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Galapagos beach shelter shows off the versatility of renewable bamboo

Pop-up art studios challenge the rising costs of Londons creative workforce

July 4, 2016 by  
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The Minima Moralia pop-up studio asks the question, “Will London still be the capital of creativity, arts and crafts in 10 years time?” The pair points out that soon only the independently wealthy will be able to afford the necessary means to be a productive member of the creative industry, as rental fees and training costs soar. Their studio could serve as a beginning to more affordable and accessible creative spaces. Related: The Observatory is a duo of charred-timber, off-grid art studios traveling around the UK Inspired by Theodor Adorno’s commentary on the “damaged lives” of London’s artists, the studio challenges its inhabitants to simplify their necessities in the tight quarters, yet also draw influence from the surroundings. Described as a type of “urban acupuncture,” the studios target and revive areas in the city most typically discarded or ignored. A modular steel frame is the starting point for the studio’s design, allowing a variety of different window, shelving, and desk configurations. A folding canopy completely opens up one side of the space, while a smaller vertical window gives an at-home feel to the artist inside. Bright sun or stars can filter in through an overhead skylight, furthering the connection to the space and inspiration outdoors. +Minima Moralia Via  Dezeen Images via Tomaso Boano and Jonas Prišmontas

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