Can GreenBelly meal bars power you through an outdoor adventure? We put them to the test

August 14, 2019 by  
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For camping and hiking enthusiasts, deciding what foods to pack for the trip can be tricky. You need to meet your nutritional and energy needs, but space is limited, especially if you are heading out with just a backpack. GreenBelly aims to fill this gap by creating nutrient-dense, plant-based bars that are lightweight yet energy-boosting to get you through your adventure. We tried three different meal bars by GreenBelly to put the flavor and nutritional claims to the test. GreenBelly’s “stoveless backpacking meals” come in small packages that can fit into nearly any side-zipper section of a backpack. The company offers both Meals2Go (in four flavors, three of which we tested) as well as Mud Meals, or powdered drinks that can be added to water (in two flavors, which we did not sample). Where most bars designed for backpackers are meant to be a quick snack to refuel mid-trip, GreenBelly has packed the nutrients of a full meal into its bars. This means staying fuller for longer, creating the opportunity to reach new heights. Related: Get ready for an adventure with this ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials The Meals2Go come in three flavors : dark chocolate and banana, peanut and apricot, cranberry and almond and the brand new mango, cashew and coconut variety. If you really have a sweet tooth, we recommend the dark chocolate and banana flavor. While peanut and apricot might sound a bit offbeat, it tastes like sweetened peanut butter. The cranberry almond option has a generic fruity flavor with a salty aftertaste. We didn’t sample the mango, but it sounds like a refreshing and tropical option. We won’t lie — the flavors aren’t as appealing as some of the mainstream snack protein bars on the market, but these GreenBelly bars include the benefit of more natural ingredients that can fuel you for so much longer. Each package contains exactly one-third of the recommended daily values of everything from calories, fats, sodium, carbohydrates (including fiber and sugar) and protein. They also have impressive (and varying) amounts of iron as well as trace amounts of vitamins A and C and calcium. The nutrients pack a punch, too. Although they are rather high in sugar, the Meals2Go are very filling and equally power you through a long day at the office or a scenic weekend hike. Each package is the rough equivalent to a meal, although we do recommend incorporating other meal options for your travels for variety. While the flavors are unique and satisfying, the nutrient quotients are impressive and the long-lasting provided energy is ideal for exploring. Before you wander off into a long trek with these handy protein bars, there are a couple of things to keep in mind with the GreenBelly Meals2Go. Each package contains two bars, or one meal. This packaging can add up quickly, especially for longer excursions. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear these packages are easily recyclable, if at all. Another thing worth mentioning is that the ingredients list for each flavor includes palm oil , which is an industry well-known for its problematic contributions to deforestation. GreenBelly’s Meals2Go are a convenient, plant-based meal consideration for your next backpacking, hiking or camping trip. Each includes plenty of nutrients to fuel you without the need for cooking on-the-go. But it is important to keep in mind the packaging and the palm oil when comparing these bars to other ready-to-eat meals designed for adventurers to ensure that you choose the fuel that is the best for both you and the planet. + GreenBelly Images via Inhabitat Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by GreenBelly. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.

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Can GreenBelly meal bars power you through an outdoor adventure? We put them to the test

This zero-waste espresso machine is powered by human strength

August 12, 2019 by  
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While cafe-worthy espresso machines still lie out of the price range for most people, there are more and more affordable versions hitting the market. Still, many models at all price points either create waste from pods and filters or use a lot of energy — or both. In searching for an option that fulfills our love for coffee without creating waste and consuming a lot of electricity, we found ROK. The ROK espresso maker promises a strong, double shot of espresso with zero-waste and zero-energy needed. After opening the box, we felt pretty intimidated by the machine. It is made from strong, sturdy steel, and is small enough to carry around, but the instructions weren’t incredibly informative. There is also a metal portafilter, which holds the coffee grounds, as well as a plastic coffee scoop that doubles as a tamper, a splitter to turn the double shot into two single shots and a mysterious additional piece that we still do not know its purpose. (If you know, leave us a comment below!) Related: The problem with coffee pods and the eco-friendly alternatives to use instead Luckily for ROK users, the company has an informative YouTube channel, where we found plenty of tutorials as well as helpful tips and tricks to make the best espresso possible. After familiarizing ourselves with the routine, we decided to give it a go. We added fine coffee grounds to the portafilter and tamped it firmly, but not too firmly, using the back of the coffee scoop. Inserting the portafilter into the machine is probably the trickiest part; we recommend squatting down and looking to see where the notches line up to avoid missing and dumping the grounds everywhere (speaking from experience here). After the portafilter is secured in place, make sure your mug is lined up at the bottom under the spout, and add boiling hot water to the black plastic rim at the top of the machine. We found about 100 to 110 mL gave us the perfect amount with enough to pull a thin layer of crema at the top of the cup as well. Pull the arms of the machine up slowly, then push down. If you feel a lot of resistance, don’t push further! The coffee might be tamped in too much, and forcing the arms down could cause the water to burn you. If the arms are moving with just slight pressure, you are doing it correctly. Push slowly, and the water will run through the portafilter and espresso will pour into your mug. After the arms are all the way down, feel free to pull the arms up and push down one more time to get rid of any excess water and to pull crema. If you want to create two single shots of espresso (a great way to take a quick break with coworkers!), simply attach the clear, plastic splitter to the end of the portafilter after it has been secured into the machine. Place an espresso mug under the end of each side of the splitter, and operate as usual. After our trial run, we were so surprised at how easy it was to use the ROK espresso maker. We simply composted the used grounds, wiped the machine and portafilter down and it was ready to go for the next round of espresso. We love it so much, in fact, that we use it multiple times a week. It makes a strong cup of espresso, it is a breeze to use, it is quiet (so we aren’t disturbing the people working around us) and it is quick to clean. It also is small enough to fit on a desk. Prices vary depending on where you purchase ROK, but it costs about $160-180 USD. The company sells bundles on its website that include the machine as well as a milk frother, coffee and more. Although the plastic parts do feel sturdy, if they happen to break, ROK sells small replacement kits as well, so you can service your machine and get the coffee breaks you deserve for years to come. + ROK Images via Inhabitat Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by ROK. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.

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This zero-waste espresso machine is powered by human strength

MASS Design crowns a 1920s houseboat with a timber luxury lookout

August 12, 2019 by  
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After meticulously renovating a 1920s houseboat into a home for two, a pair of clients reached out to multidisciplinary studio MASS Design to craft the houseboat’s crowning achievement — a bespoke interior for the old wheel house at the top of the boat. The clients asked for a bold interior that would match the wheel house’s spectacular 360-degree views over the harbor. Taking inspiration from the water, the designers created The Lighthouse, a sculptural and multifunctional space defined by an organic, wave-like bench and ceiling structure made from CNC-milled timber panels that were assembled into modules without any screws or glue. In its heyday, the early 20th-century houseboat originally served as a day cruise on the rivers and canals of Eastern Germany with an estimated max capacity of 700 people. Today, the houseboat is stationed on the waters of Amsterdam, where it’s become a new home for two people. Having saved the old, 10-square-meter wheel house as the last piece of their renovation project, the clients emphasized their desire for a striking design with “the boldness of an art piece.” Related: A solar-powered houseboat designed for the water-loving adventurer The wave-like design that MASS Design created makes the most of the room’s small footprint and efficiently carves out space for a writing shack , reading room and champagne bar — all while keeping focus on the surrounding 360-degree views of the harbor. “The interior mimics the waves it used to travel on, undulating throughout the room,” said MASS Design designers Krishna Duddumpudi and Henry Roberts. “Everything flows together; seating to tables, tables to walls, creating one continuous surface in which even the ceiling participates.” A total of 648 individual vertical wooden panels were CNC milled, processed and assembled to form the organic bench and ceiling structure modules without screws or glue at Contact Makerspace in Amsterdam. The modular design allowed the designers and clients to easily and quickly install the pieces into the room without a builder. A voice-activated and app-controlled LED “sun-light” was installed at the center of the room, which makes the space glow like a lighthouse at night. + MASS Design Photography by Maylan van der Grift via MASS Design

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MASS Design crowns a 1920s houseboat with a timber luxury lookout

FDA approves Impossible Burger sales at grocery stores

August 5, 2019 by  
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Fake meats have had a great year. Sales for artificial, plant-based and lab-grown meats have skyrocketed, and they are even predicted to surpass the meat industry in the next 20 years . But there’s one fake burger that shines above the rest: the Impossible Burger. Already sold at high-end restaurants around the world as well as major fast-food spots like Burger King and White Castle, the Impossible Burger tastes the most like real meat. It even has a blood-like substance called soy leghemoglobin, which received Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approval on July 31, which means Impossible Burgers are approved for sale in grocery stores starting September 4. The soy substance, generally called heme, was thought to be an allergen, but the FDA just deemed it safe for sale to customers in raw burgers. Meat products also contain an animal-based heme, which gives red meat its juicy flavor, texture and feel. The scientists behind the Impossible Burger have mimicked animal heme so closely that customers claim this burger is the closest thing to the real thing. Related: Impossible Foods tests a fish-less fish protein Impossible Foods, the creator of Impossible Burgers, will have to significantly ramp up its production to meet the demand of grocery stores around the country. Critics argue that the fake meat trend is just a fad and that it has yet to impact animal-based meat sales, but the expansion of the Impossible Burger and other Impossible Foods products might make enough waves to actually impact and disrupt the meat industry. Ninety-nine percent of all animal-based meat products consumed in the U.S. originate from factory farms with abusive animal conditions. The livestock and meat industry is also a major contributor to carbon emissions. Artificial meat products offer a solution for animal lovers and environmentalists. Impossible Foods also believes that with its top-notch recipe, it can even convert meat-lovers who want a guilt-free product without sacrificing taste. + Impossible Foods Via Gizmodo and Vox Image via Impossible Foods

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FDA approves Impossible Burger sales at grocery stores

A native meadow green roof camouflages a low-impact Hamptons home

August 5, 2019 by  
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When a husband and wife purchased five acres of bluff top property overlooking the Peconic Bay in the Hamptons, they knew from the beginning that landscape preservation would be a major focus of their future home. To bring their vision of an environmentally sensitive residence to life, the couple turned to Mapos , a New York-based architectural studio that they had worked with previously. By treading lightly on the site, the architects crafted a modernist multigenerational family retreat—the Peconic House—that blends into its meadow setting with a lush green roof, Corten steel exterior and timber interior. Designed in part as a reaction against the “insensitive residential development…and reputation for showing off” that has characterized recent real estate development in the Hamptons , the Peconic House is a callback to the modernist legacy of Long Island’s South Fork. Featuring simple and low-slung proportions, the rectangular 4,000-square-foot shuns ostentatious displays and instead uses a roof of native meadow grasses to camouflage its appearance and minimize its impact on the watershed. The residence also embraces indoor/outdoor living with a 2,000-square-foot terrace that faces the Peconic Bay and culminates in a 75-foot-long infinity-edge lap pool. In positioning the building, the architects were careful to preserve the property’s existing vegetation—particularly a 70-foot-tall sycamore located at the center of the meadow. To relate the architecture to the old-growth forest, the architects relied on a predominately timber palette that includes cedar and reclaimed ipe wood that are complemented by concrete and Corten steel. All materials are left unfinished and will develop a natural patina over time. Related: The Beach Box is the First Hamptons Home Built With Recycled Shipping Containers! Inside the open-plan living area “further abstracts the bluff-top landscape, with unfinished cedar and reclaimed white oak,” note the architects. The blurring of indoors and out are also achieved with 100-foot-long walls of glass that slide open and seamlessly unite the indoor living spaces with the outdoor terrace. The cantilevered roof helps block unwanted solar gain and supports a thriving green roof of native grasses that promote biodiversity. + Studio Mapos Via ArchDaily Images by Michael Moran

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A native meadow green roof camouflages a low-impact Hamptons home

Indian cafe offers food for trash, then turns the waste into roads

July 29, 2019 by  
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The city of Ambikapur in India’s Chhattisgarh state is launching a “garbage cafe” where anyone can eat healthy meals in exchange for collecting trash. The cafe will be centrally located in the city’s busiest bus terminal and is owned by the Municipal Corporation. Although such cafes exist in other cities around the world, the plastic trash collected for Ambikapur’s cafe is unique, because it will go directly into asphalt to pave the city’s roads. The practice of melting plastic and incorporating it into paving materials is not new in India. In fact, the government mandated that all urban areas utilize plastic waste in their roads in 2015, but most have yet to follow orders. The city of Ambikapur has one such road so far, and there are an estimated 100,000 kilometers of plastic roads throughout India . The innovative chemical process is led by professor Rajagopalan Vasudevan, but it has also been replicated and modified by engineers around the world, including the plastic-producing giant Dow Chemical . “At the end of the day, plastic is a great product. It lasts for long, which is a problem if it’s a waste product, but not a problem if we want it to last,” said engineer Toby McCartney, whose company produces recycled plastic pellets that are mixed into roads. According to McCartney, plastic roads last three times longer than conventional roads and need less maintenance. They are more resistant to flooding and less likely to get potholes. McCartney also promises his prototype does not break down into microplastics or enter ecosystems. With an initial budget of just about $7,000 USD, the cafe is a triple-win for the government’s goals to address food insecurity , clean up the roads and improve infrastructure. Via Vice Image via Rajesh Balouria

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Indian cafe offers food for trash, then turns the waste into roads

24-year-old entrepreneur to launch plant-based "superprotein" products by vote

July 24, 2019 by  
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Food science labs around the world are aiming to take over the meat industry with alternative protein options, but a new competitor has entered the market: an ambitious and well-resourced 24-year-old entrepreneur named Kim Le. Le’s fledgling company, called Prime Roots, is planning to launch its alternative meat products in early 2020 and will add its items to shelves already occupied by major companies like Impossible Foods and Tyson . While alternative proteins do address the meat industry’s unsustainable impact on the environment, many of them rely on GMO and lab-grown methods to produce proteins. Prime Roots markets its products as sustainable, non-GMO, whole food-sourced “superproteins.” Related: Impossible Foods tests a fish-less fish protein Unlike most corporations, Prime Roots uses a unique, democratic process for selecting the three products that will be available in 2020. It invited its “community of eaters” to vote on the products via the company’s website . The website also boasts promo codes, giveaways and “ambassadors-only events” for potential consumers interested in taking a more active role in the company’s sustainability and promotional efforts . Months before the products are actually available, the website invites visitors to read-up about alternative proteins and “join the superprotein revolution.” Le, a recent UC Berkeley graduate, developed the idea for Prime Roots during her time in college. The daughter of famous Vietnamese chef Chi Le, Kim spent her whole life around food and went to university specifically to learn more about fermentation science. She got her start as an entrepreneur through UC Berkeley’s Alternative Meat Lab housed at the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology. Her company then began to grow and become a reality through support from IndieBio. Since then, Le has amassed over $4 million in investments through both True Ventures and the Collaborative Fund. Prime Roots products will include a meat-free chicken and bacon as well as seafood-less salmon and lobster. You can vote on the products you’d like to see on shelves first on the Prime Roots website . + Prime Roots Image via Prime Roots

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24-year-old entrepreneur to launch plant-based "superprotein" products by vote

UK supermarket tests packaging-free initiative

July 22, 2019 by  
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Bringing reusable bags to stores is now second nature to many shoppers, but will they bring their own containers, too? British supermarket chain Waitrose will find out during an 11-week trial in its Oxford store called Waitrose Unpacked. Customers are encouraged to take refillable containers to restock on options such as a choice of four types of beer and wines, detergent, coffee and 28 dry products including cereals, lentils and pastas. Other unpacked concepts simply eliminate plastic — such as 160 loose vegetable and fruit products, and flowers and plants wrapped in 100% recyclable craft paper rather than plastic. Waitrose also offers a frozen pick and mix station, where customers can choose their own blends of cherries, pineapple, blueberries and other chilly fruits. Related: Sustainable toiletries packaged in soap aim to eliminate single-use plastics Waitrose launched its Unpacked initiative in response to customers requesting more sustainable ways to shop. “This test has huge potential to shape how people might shop with us in the future so it will be fascinating to see which concepts our customers have an appetite for. We know we’re not perfect and have more to do, but we believe this is an innovative way to achieve something different,” Waitrose declared in a press release. Unpacked customers will also benefit from lower prices, since shoppers often pay for excess packaging they don’t even want. The BBC reported that produce in the supermarket’s refill stations would be up to 15 percent cheaper and frozen fruit would also be less expensive. For a £5 deposit, shoppers can load their groceries into a borrowed box from Waitrose to take home. When they return the box, the supermarket refunds their money. Waitrose will continue to offer food in its regular packaging, which will provide a useful control group for the unpacked experiment. The trial ends August 18. We hope the verdict is a win for sustainability. +Waitrose Image via Waitrose

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UK supermarket tests packaging-free initiative

How to easily make your own reusable produce bags

July 22, 2019 by  
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If you’re focused on sustainability and/or zero waste , you probably cringe every time you return home from the grocery store and pull out bag after bag of fruits and vegetables, each tucked inside plastic bags conveniently located in the produce section where you shopped. The good news is that it’s easy to end the cringe with reusable cloth produce bags. Fortunately, it’s easy to make your own cloth produce bags at very little cost. There are even no-sew options if a sewing machine isn’t your thing. The best part is that you likely already have everything you need to whip up a pile of reusable cloth bags this weekend. Related: RÆBURN upcycles North Face tents into one-of-a-kind bags Material An old, but freshly washed, bed sheet makes the perfect upcycle material for your cloth produce bags. Alternately, grab some lightly-used pillow cases. These work great since they already have seams on some of the sides. Ideally, you will want cotton or linen and organic is always best, but remember that turning one product into something else is already an eco-friendly action so give yourself a break if your sheets aren’t organic.  The linen closet is an easy place to start, but it’s certainly not the only place to find material in your home. Old clothing is an accessible option, especially when you look for shapes that make produce bags easier to make. For example, a child’s shirt will only need small adaptations to turn into a bag. Same goes for wide sleeves or a tight skirt.  No sew Sewing just might not be your thing. Perhaps you don’t have a sewing machine, or you don’t enjoy the whole needle and thread experience. That’s fine with us. To use no-sew reusable produce bags, simply use Velcro instead. Lay your fabric pieces out inside out. Glue Velcro to the length of each side and allow the strips to dry. Then press the Velcro pieces together completely. Use high-quality Velcro for a firm hold.  Sew Making your own produce bags doesn’t require extensive sewing experience. Simply cut and lay out two rectangles of fabric, back to back (or inside out). You can make bags in a variety of sizes. Sew the edges of three sides, leaving the top open. If you are using a material with existing seams, finish the additional edges. For example, cut a pillowcase in four quarters, turn each quarter inside out, finish the seams and turn it back right side out to see your completed bag. The top Now you have your upcycled produce bag ready to go, but you may be wondering how to keep it closed once you stuff your favorite produce inside. The answer is that you don’t really need to if your bag is deep enough. However, if you prefer to have a top that closes, there are several ways you can go about it. For those that enjoyed the sewing portion, go ahead and add a drawstring to the top. To do this, fold over the material at the top leaving about 1/2 inch before making a seam. The 1/2 inch gap allows room for a piece of rope or that non-partnered shoelace in the junk drawer. You can lay it into the space before stitching it up, but be sure not to stitch over it, which locks it into a stationary position and will inhibit the bag from pulling closed. For a no-sew option attach the two sides with Velcro. An even easier solution is to close the top while you’re at the grocery store or farmer’s market using a hair tie band. The elasticity allows the cashier to peak inside the bag hassle free. Plus, if you use your produce bag in the bulk section, you can attach the product number tag directly to the tie band.  Other Uses Produce bags are never just for produce. You can use them to store any number of foods . Beans are an excellent example. Rice, pasta and other pantry items also store well in fabric bags. Shopping bulk is a sustainable action that removes much of the packaging waste from the typical shopping venture. While glass jars are best for some things, fabric bags can handle the “bulk” of your dried foods. Outside the food realm you can use them to store art supplies such as markers, paint brushes and rocks. When it comes time to do laundry, throw small items such as kid’s socks inside and wash the entire bag. Care Fabric produce bags are easy to care for because they are machine washable alongside the rest of your laundry. It’s best to wash bags after each use considering the amount of germs they encounter in the shopping cart, at checkout and in your car. Bags can be hung to dry or tossed into the dryer if necessary. Remember to put your bags somewhere you will remember to take them with you for your next shopping trip, or take them directly to the car for storage. Congratulations on your step towards reducing plastic waste ! Images via Sean and Lauren , Pixabay , Laura Mitulla

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How to easily make your own reusable produce bags

Vegan and lab-grown meats predicted to take over meat market in 20 years

June 13, 2019 by  
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A new report claims that artificial but sustainable meats will take over the meat market by 2040. The study , conducted by global firm AT Kearney, contends that alternative meats will constitute 60 percent of the global meat market in the next 20 years, due to growing concern about the ethics and environmental impacts of the meat industry. Vegan meat production and sales have skyrocketed since their recent introduction to the market. Sustainable meats made from plant sources significantly reduce the carbon emissions associated with livestock and avoid all concerns about animal welfare. Vegan food corporations have received more than $1 billion in investments, including major corporations like Beyond Meat, Just Food and Impossible Foods. Conventional meat companies have even invested in this emerging market. Other companies are currently experimenting with growing meat in lab cultures, circumventing the need to raise and slaughter animals altogether. According to the report, while there are no such products ready for sale yet, people are expected to quickly adopt these products, despite initial distrust, because the taste and texture is so similar to real meat that they could outshine the vegan options. Around the world, people are increasingly adopting vegan and vegetarian lifestyles or consuming less meat in attempts to be more environmentally friendly. According to the report, “The large-scale livestock industry is viewed by many as an unnecessary evil. With the advantages of novel vegan meat replacements and cultured meat over conventionally produced meat, it is only a matter of time before they capture a substantial market share.” Related: Leaked footage shows brutal animal abuse at Fair Oaks dairy farm The conventional meat industry is worth over a trillion dollars globally, and it is difficult to believe it will be overshadowed by the sustainable lab or vegan meat industry, despite a billion dollars in investments. Still, the report is inspiring for the planet as more and more people take interest in decreasing their meat consumption in favor of more sustainable options. + AT Kearney Via The Guardian Image via Rustic Vegan

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Vegan and lab-grown meats predicted to take over meat market in 20 years

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