Kin Travel is offering unique vacation ideas that benefit destinations through conservation and sustainability

April 23, 2019 by  
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Traveling is becoming more and more convenient through the help of new technology, but sadly it doesn’t always bode well for places affected by over tourism and negative influences. Kin Travel began when founders Brian Jones and Mark Somen decided to give travelers a way to go on vacation while immersing themselves into the local culture and having a positive impact on their destinations. They strive to offer opportunities to rejuvenate communities and environments through travel , proving that visitors don’t have to disrupt their surroundings to enjoy themselves. One of the company’s most popular trips, located in Labadie, Haiti, includes volunteer work in reef restoration, hikes to UNESCO World Heritage sites, local school visits, bonfires with village elders and beach drum circles. The trip ranges from $2,400 to $4,000 for the six-day experience depending on accommodation type, but that rate includes everything but flights (that means transportation , experiences like yoga classes and photos, food, drinks and accommodation). The housing for the Haiti vacation is akin to glamping, equipped with a glamorous beach side yurt tent with memory foam mattress and furnishings made by local artists. Throughout the camp there are spots for dancing, yoga, fire pits and lounging, as well as a fully-equipped bathroom, bar and kitchen. Food is prepared by an accomplished chef who uses local ingredients for every meal. Kin partners with local companies in Haiti to help boost the economy and positively impact the community . Related: Fairmont canine ambassador program promotes human-animal connection Halfway across the globe in Kenya, Kin Travel leads safari trips in the Olderkesi Conservancy bordering the famous Maasai Mara National Reserve. Kin invests part of the profits into tree-planting, as well as the Cottars Wildlife Community Trust to support local entrepreneurial and educational opportunities for women. Accommodations for the Kenya trip include private bathrooms, a spa, pool and tented lounge area with a viewing deck. Apart from the typical safari activities like bush walks and Big Five game drives, participants also get to experience school visits, waterfall swims, massages, local markets, village visits and even an educational meeting with a reformed poacher. The camp is an accredited Global Ecosphere Retreat, chosen for its commitment to sustainability through conservation, community, culture and commerce. In Wyoming, Kin partnered with The Bentwood Inn, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World to create a winter wildlife safari on the corner of Grand Teton National Park and Elk Refuge. An uncommon spot for a typical American vacation, the town of Jackson Hole, where the trip takes place, represents one of the country’s largest income gaps. Kin focuses on serving underrepresented communities in the area while interacting with the people who best know how to serve the local environment . Along with a National Geographic photographer and local biologists, visitors will track animals such as wolves, bison, fox, bighorn sheep and elk through the unparalleled landscape . Travelers will also visit the Wildlife Art Museum, Vertical Harvest and Cultivate (a local organization that provides training and education to combat the local unemployment rate), while supplementing the trip with skiing adventures. In Wyoming, Kin Travel also works with One 22 providing language interpretation, emergency services and education to underrepresented communities and 1% for the Tetons, who contribute $1 million a year to local social and environmental projects. Beginning in August, the company is pairing up with non-profit IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) to curate a series of trips focusing on animal conservation in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Each weekend package for the Cape Cod trip will include immersive activities led by renowned scientists and explorers where travelers will dive into the non-profit’s work saving marine mammals (think tracking whales at sea and dolphin rescue training) and beach side experiences like bonfires, oyster shucking, bike riding and yoga. In addition to Provincetown, IFAW and Kin are planning future trip location opportunities as well. Prices range from $2,200 to $2,800 for the all-inclusive weekend. Accommodations will take place in The Salt House Inn, a restored 19th century cottage a few blocks from the beach , complete with an outdoor patio and dining room. The focus of the newly designed trip is to immerse participants into the IFAW Marine Mammal Rescue and Research work along the 700-mile southeastern Massachusetts coastline. Sadly, this area is known as having one of the highest rates of whale and dolphin strandings (beaching) on earth. IFAW is fighting back against strandings and sea life entanglement with the non-profit’s world-renowned rescue and prevention program made up of experts and highly-trained volunteers, all while conducting important research simultaneously. As a part of the Kin Travel group, attendees will participate in a marine conservation course led by these experts. With the growing popularity of mindful and sustainable travel increasing among jet-setters, the journeys offered by Kin Travel couldn’t have come at a better time. The company proves that travel organizations don’t have to sacrifice community and environmental awareness for life-changing experiences. + Kin Travel Images via IFAW, Kin Travel, Kimson doan, Montylov

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Kin Travel is offering unique vacation ideas that benefit destinations through conservation and sustainability

Meet the all-natural face cleanser that will change your mornings

February 19, 2019 by  
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Most people wouldn’t mind starting the day with a bowl of warm, sweet oatmeal. So imagine taking that level of comfort and adding it to your skincare routine. This is exactly the kind of experience you get with Speak’s cleansing powder, a simple powder that comes packaged in an adorable glass jar. The best part of “01 Cleansing Powder” is the main ingredient, organic oats. After testing the cleanser for a few weeks, this product has become one of our favorite ways to start our day. Speak’s cleansing powder harnesses the power of saponins and antioxidants found in organic oats. Together, these properties gently cleanse the delicate skin on your face and soothe redness and irritation. In addition to the oats, lavender adds a natural fragrance, kaolin clay cleans deeper to remove dirt and grime and sweet almond oil leaves your skin soft and moisturized long after you’ve finished washing. Related: These are our favorite beauty retailers from the Indie Beauty Expo In a nod to “waterless beauty,” or beauty products that eliminate water as a filler, this natural cleanser comes as a powder in a 0.5 or 2 ounce glass jar (complete with a metal cap — all reusable and recyclable!). A little goes a long way here. Each morning, we add just a dime-size amount of the powder in the palm of our hands. Carefully mix in just a few drops of water to make a thick paste, and then gently rub it on your face. We like to move in upward motions, which can help with lymphatic drainage. It’s incredible — the cleanser smells exactly like our favorite bowl of oatmeal. After rinsing the paste from your skin, you’ll instantly notice how soft and smooth your face feels. While it doesn’t seem to be the right consistency for removing eye makeup, it does move face makeup with ease. It works well for cleansing in the morning or at night. Speak’s line of natural, vegan , cruelty-free skincare (plus clean packaging) doesn’t stop there. We have also tested the natural deodorant, which is incredibly effective at keeping odors at bay, and the prickly pear seed oil, which boosts the moisture in your skin and smells light and pleasant. If all of this isn’t enough to love, Speak is transparent about ingredients, sources and manufacturing. “We believe that when you are smarter about what goes into your skincare, you’re on your way to feeling and being your best,” the website reads. “We will continue to be fully transparent with our ingredients and test our products in independent labs with your safety in mind.” Founders and cousins Mutiara Pino and Nisa Zulkifli founded Speak in December 2017 after battling with ever-changing, hormonal skin and eczema, respectively. Their mission is to provide clean skincare using natural ingredients from ethical sources in reusable, recyclable, upcycled and/or compostable packaging at affordable price points. We highly recommend checking out Speak’s skincare, starting with the oat-based cleanser. See more products here , and learn more about the company’s values here . + Speak Images via Inhabitat and Speak Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by Speak. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.

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Meet the all-natural face cleanser that will change your mornings

Essential old-fashioned tools and practices to make your kitchen more sustainable

January 21, 2019 by  
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Between planning meals , dragging home groceries, cooking and clean up, the kitchen is the hub of activity in most homes. That means it can also be a significant source of waste. However, there are lots of ways to make your kitchen more sustainable. If you’re looking for ways to cut back on disposables and instead invest in products that will serve you for many years, we have some ideas for you to consider. Cast iron skillets and Le Creuset If you have ever used heavy-duty cast iron, you know that a single seasoned pan will last for generations. With proper care, your children and their children will be using the same pans a hundred years from now. Related: 10 ways to use up mushy, overripe bananas Peppermill Off the vine, peppercorn is round and looks like a tiny grape. Once dried, the freshest way to enjoy peppercorn is ground directly onto your food. Avoid the waste from the myriad containers your ground pepper comes in and use a traditional peppermill instead. Buy your peppercorns in bulk and bring your own jar to eliminate packaging altogether. Mortar and pestle All things worth enjoying require a bit of effort, and a mortar and pestle is the perfect example of that. Although it means manually mashing your herbs and other ingredients, a mortar and pestle eliminates the needs for other gadgets in your kitchen and produces a fresh result in your cooking. Stainless steel When it comes to sustainability, stainless steel is a good product to reach for. Not only does it consume limited resources during production, but it is a long-lasting material and completely recyclable at the end of its functionality. To make your kitchen more eco-friendly , skip the petroleum-based plastic products and reach for stainless steel measuring cups and spoons, microplanes, ice trays if you still use them, mixing bowls, strainers, shakers and compost bins. Knives This is one area of your kitchen worth the initial investment. Good chef’s knives will pay you dividends for a lifetime. As a bonus, this means less waste from cheaper alternatives that don’t make the cut. Ceramic, stone or glass Once again, it’s important to incorporate materials made from the earth and both ceramic and glass are great options. Think ceramic ginger grater, glass or ceramic pie dish and stoneware cooking sheets. Manual tools In the long-term, sticking with traditional tools in the kitchen will save electricity costs. Plus, you’ll gain added satisfaction in the simplicity of cooking with a metal potato masher, non-electric hand mixer, manual can opener, food mill (applesauce maker) and an old-fashioned knife instead of a food chopper or garlic press. Wood Wood is another material sourced from nature and eco-friendly. Shop for wooden salad bowls, wood spoons for stirring, bamboo steamers, cutting boards and serving bowls. Storage containers We all like to hang on to those leftovers and that’s a great way to reduce waste , but plastic and foil are both problematic for the environment so consider other options for your storage needs. For the refrigerator, purchase glass or stainless steel containers with interchangeable lids. While you’re at it, replace plastic wrap with bowl covers or beeswax sheets that mould around the container. Also consider your staple products and find see-through glass jars to house your flour, cereal, pasta, beans and sugar. Spices are easy to organize and use in matching glass jars. Mason jars are another great option for storing nuts, seeds, homemade salad dressing and much more. Towels and napkins We have become accustomed to the disposable society around us, which means you may not think about reaching for a paper towel to wipe up the spill on the floor. When you consider the chemicals and water usage required to turn trees into paper products though, an earth-friendly alternative is to use cloth napkins and towels. With a little practice you’ll realize why humans got by just fine on these options, sans the single-use waste. Beverage containers A few carefully-chosen beverage containers can replace thousands of disposable cups. Grab a high-quality stainless steel coffee mug and one of the many non-plastic options for your water to make a quick and powerful contribution to the health of the planet. Cleaning tools Kitchens are messy, so consider tools that will allow you to clean it up without having an adverse effect on the environment. Purchase natural dish brushes that decompose in the landfill instead of plastic options or sponges that both end up clogging the waste stream. There are very few things that some combination of baking soda and vinegar alone can’t clean. Also look into glycerin, salt and citrus as powerful aids in cleaning without the toxic chemical contribution. Related: How to decode confusing labels on common household cleaners Shopping Remember that perhaps the biggest impact you can make toward a green kitchen starts with your purchasing decisions. It seems that everything these days is wrapped in plastic so seek out alternatives. It’s best to grow your own food, but another option is to attend local farmers’ markets. Bring your own reusable shopping and produce bags to the store. Select produce that has not been bundled in plastic bags and hunt down stores that offer compostable produce bags as an option. Also bring your own containers directly to the bulk section to further eliminate waste. Cooking practices Another fabulous way to cut waste is to make your own foods rather than buying pre-packaged options. Breads are quick and easy to make. Make granola bars and protein balls for school lunches. Cook up your own yogurt and ditch the individual plastic containers. Turning your kitchen into a simplified oasis of earth-friendly food production begins with evaluating the supplies you need and making decisions about the best options to fulfil those needs. Focus on conscientious purchases that combine wholesome food along with sustainable tools and you have a recipe for a long-term low-carbon-footprint kitchen. Images via Shutterstock

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Essential old-fashioned tools and practices to make your kitchen more sustainable

9 sustainable living tips to take from our grandparents

January 7, 2019 by  
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Our grandparents and great-grandparents lived in a simpler time, and we aren’t just talking about technology . During the Great Depression, many rural areas didn’t have running water or electricity, and things like proper refrigeration, freezers and air conditioning were a luxury. What’s more, big-box chains and massive supermarkets didn’t exist, and you didn’t have the option of throwing a pre-packaged meal into a microwave or hitting a drive-thru for lunch. Many modern conveniences are great, and in many ways, living in 2019 is much more enjoyable than 1935. But there are a lot of things we can learn from older generations to help live a more sustainable life. Here are some things our grandparents and great-grandparents did to live a simpler life that was a lot more eco-friendly. Make meals from scratch For the first time in American history, people are eating at restaurants more than they are cooking at home . In 2016, sales in restaurants passed grocery sales, meaning that people are spending more on eating out than eating in. Cooking from scratch is starting to become a skill that fewer and fewer of us know how to do, and that is resulting in people not knowing where their food comes from or how it was prepared. Related: 10 tasty and easy vegan dinner ideas Not only is cooking a survival skill that everyone should have, but preparing food at home makes you more self-sufficient, and it leads to a healthier diet. Plus, it saves your family a ton of cash, and it is much more environmentally friendly. You will use less packaging when you buy fresh ingredients, and when you skip the restaurant, you can reduce your food waste . If it breaks, fix it We admit that things are made differently than they used to be. With the strategy of planned obsolescence , products aren’t designed to last as long and can break rather easily. From fashion to cars to appliances to electronics, things break, go out of style and become obsolete faster than ever. This can lead to spending money on the newest gadgets and trends, even though we could easily fix what is broken or alter what we have to fit our needs. Our grandparents knew how to mend their clothes and fix broken items, or at least knew where to go to get things fixed. Instead of tossing things out the moment they aren’t perfect, take the time to fix or mend them. Bring your lunch Remember when having a sweet lunchbox was an important part of your life? I loved my old-school metal Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox when I was in first grade, and I didn’t even realize that I was eco-friendly while being stylish. Instead of hitting a vending machine or drive-thru for lunch, avoid the single-use plastic packaging and pack your own sandwich and sides at home, or brown-bag last night’s leftovers. For our grandparents, eating out was a special occasion, not something you do every day. Plant a garden Now this is one popular trend that is rooted in the past. Buying local or growing food in your own garden was a staple of life for our grandparents and great-grandparents. Growing veggies and herbs is something you can easily do, no matter if you live in a rural or urban area, and it is friendly to the environment and your wallet. Related: How to grow a lush garden in your tiny kitchen windowsill Shop smart Those who lived through the Great Depression knew what it meant to be smart with their purchases. If they couldn’t afford it, they didn’t buy it, and they never bought more than they needed. Buying in bulk and using up everything that you buy is a much more sustainable way to live. Buy less and use it all. Go to the store with a specific plan, and reduce those impulse buys. Downsize Less stuff means less worry, and that is what minimalism is all about. That doesn’t mean you have to get rid of every modern convenience, but saying no to some things will help reduce your waste and make life tidier. Huge homes, closets full of clothes you don’t wear and cupboards full of food you won’t eat were foreign concepts to our grandparents. Those things would just give you more things to pay for, service and clean. You don’t have to downsize absolutely every aspect of your life, but simply getting rid of excess clutter can make a big difference in your quality of life and environmental impact. Use a clothesline One of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to give your dryer a rest and hang up your clothes to dry. This option will keep your clothes from shrinking, and your sheets, blankets, shirts and tees will smell clean and fresh. Start sewing During the Great Depression, nearly every household had at least one person that knew how to full-out sew . But now, it’s hard to find people that even know how to sew a button. Get the most out of your clothes and shoes by learning how to patch a hole, replace a zipper or fix a hem. We aren’t saying you have to make all of your own clothes, but knowing how to fix basic problems can lead to more a sustainable lifestyle with less waste. Related: How to sew buttons onto pants and shirts Rethink disposables Ziploc bags didn’t show up until the 1960s, so our grandparents and great-grandparents would store things in jars. After they were done using them, they would wash and reuse. Instead of using single-use plastics to store food or pack your lunch, use containers that you can use over and over again to help reduce waste. Images via Oldmermaid ,  Bruno Glätsch , Maxmann , Priscilla Du Preez , Maria Michelle , Monika P , Monicore and Shutterstock

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9 sustainable living tips to take from our grandparents

Guide to sustainable winter activities

December 3, 2018 by  
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Just because the temperature plummets and the daylight runs short doesn’t mean your bustling days need to end. Instead of hibernating like a bear, wearing pajamas and watching Netflix day after day, put some fun on the schedule and look forward to a winter full of activities. Of course, consumption and waste are always a consideration here at Inhabitat so here’s our top choices for the best eco-friendly, sustainable activities for your winter calendar. Snow play Those who love winter often anticipate the arrival of snow. Even those who long for summer have to admit that there is much fun to be had in the snow. Besides the obvious snowboarding and skiing, think local. Drag a sled up and down a hill for the afternoon and follow it up with hot cocoa or cider back at home. Take those cross-country skis off the wall and head to a nearby field or back-country road. Make, rent, or purchase some snowshoes for an invigorating experience. No discussion of snow would be complete without recommending you build a snowman and enjoy the mandatory snowball fight that comes with it. Alternately, build an igloo or snow cave. If you’re really adventurous you could even camp out in it! Get into nature Many outdoor activities can roll over from fall into winter. If the weather is not too severe, keep up your nature hikes and monitor the changes in the landscape throughout the season. While you’re out, look for supplies that you could use in crafts, such as pine cones, leaves, rocks, curved bark, acorns, or colorful berries. In fact, make it a challenge with a scavenger hunt or look up geocaching in your area and see if you can find the prize. Have a picnic Yes, you can. Of course you can. Why not? Replace the summer Chablis with a thermos of heated goodness. Bring along some hearty favorites and a thick blanket or pop-up tent. Find cover at a nearby park and watch the river rush by or the birds forage for food. Have a war For those mild-weather regions or even those with snow on the ground, grab the kids or a group of friends and head to the woods for a paintball war. Just be sure to wear eye protection and choose eco-friendly paints for you guns. Of course, you can recreate the same fun at home with rubber band guns and they are even easy to make yourself with any shape of wood and a clothespin mounted on top to fire the rubber bands. Baking party As soon as the days begin to shorten, the baked goods are in high demand. Instead of spending hours alone in the kitchen, why not make it a party? Invite over a few friends and pool ingredients to maximize the eco-friendly advantages of bulk foods, reduced packaging, and minimal waste. At the end of the day you’ll each have a variety of baked goods to take to your family or give as gifts. Travel by train There’s something about traveling by train that is timeless and serene. Of course, it’s also nice that it’s one of the most earth-friendly forms of transport. So whether you’re traveling to reach a destination or simply to take a scenic tour, hop aboard the train as your first option. Local events Communities organize events during every season and winter is no exception. Check the local online pages and printed newspapers for sustainable events in your area. These might include taking a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, or attending a tree lighting ceremony, fundraising event, or salmon education walk. Volunteer Wintertime is a rough season for the homeless and less fortunate. Take some time to help out at a soup kitchen or local food bank and feel good about your contribution. Craft party For an indoor activity, invite over some friends or plan a party for your kids. You can make any number of things as a group including wreaths, blankets, quilts, pick-me-up cards for seniors or veterans, etc. For the kids, make Play-doh, Flubber, fingerpaints, or paper snowflakes. Donate them if you like or use them as gifts during the holidays and beyond. Build a birdhouse Your feathered friends will enjoy a warm place to sleep too. Get together with friends and make birdhouses for your backyard sanctuary. Visit the library The library is a great place to spend a soggy winter afternoon. Learn something new or just enjoy some quiet time. Indoor herb garden Many plants will grow indoors, even during the winter. Take pleasure in planting an herb garden and watch it grow while you enjoy fresh herbs year round. Take an adventure There’s no need to wait for summer for your next adventure. Instead, hunt down eco-friendly winter options around you. Go ice skating on the lake, visit the local reindeer farm, or experience your first dog sled ride. Winter is waiting. Go get it! Images via Shutterstock, Andrew Ly , Ethan Hu , lukasbieri , rawpixel , skeeze , jill111 , Michael Mroczek , Susan Yin , pintando la luz

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Guide to sustainable winter activities

Celebrate the season with this guide to sustainable fall activities

September 28, 2018 by  
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As the leaves and sunsets transition to an autumnal palette of yellows, oranges and reds and a chill fills the air, you’re probably dragging the boots and sweaters from the back of the closet. But the end of summer doesn’t mean the end of outdoor fun. In the midst of temperatures dropping and the smell of pumpkin floating around, fall is the ideal time to plan nature-based activities. When considering your options, think about the potential impact on the environment , and create an earth-friendly itinerary for the coming months. Here’s a list of sustainable fall activities to help you savor the best season of the year. Celebrate fall harvest Fall is an amazing time for produce , and the season brings plenty of sustainable opportunities to preserve and enjoy the delicious food that nature provides. Head to a local farm to pick apples or pumpkins, then bake pies for friends and family or host a cider press party to use up the abundance of crisp apples. Harvest the last of the summer squash and zucchini, and get ready to enjoy fall veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Collect juicy plums and pears for your kitchen fruit basket. To preserve summer and autumn produce for the colder months, can and pickle fruits and veggies or toss them in the freezer. Now is also an excellent time to bake fresh breads to store in the freezer. Remember to enjoy garden fresh food, too. Related: 5 mouthwatering plant-based fall recipes Create DIY gifts and decor It’s not too early to be thinking about the holidays, and fall is the perfect time to make sustainable presents with gifts from nature herself. Concoct herb-infused cooking and massage oils, vinegars and liquors, and be sure to dry any leftover herbs for fragrant satchels or to use in winter recipes. The vibrant hues of the season also make excellent decor for your home. Make fall wreaths with autumn foliage, or create festive tablescapes with homemade pumpkin, pinecone or gourd centerpieces. Related: DIY fall decor using upcycled items from thrift stores Immerse yourself in nature The falling leaves of autumn beckon for company, so lace up your boots and grab a jacket. Go for a hike while the weather is still pleasant, or head out for some final bike rides before it is too cold and snowy to tolerate such activities. Take the kids (or yourself!) out to hunt leaves, and embrace the opportunity to learn and teach about different types of trees and plants. Enjoy a weekend camping trip or an afternoon picnic. Challenge yourself with a visit to a corn maze, or enjoy a breezy day flying kites. Visit a local farmers market, and take time to learn about the food you are eating. Tour a nearby winery. Get active by playing catch with a football or baseball, or throw a Frisbee around the backyard. After a day at the pumpkin patch, enjoy the chill evening air by carving pumpkins on the porch — just be sure to use the guts and seeds, rather than tossing them into the trash! Related: How to cook a whole pumpkin (seeds, guts and all) Prepare your yard and garden for winter If temperatures in your area allow it, plant fall and winter crops in the garden, or plant bulbs for spring. Remember to feed your compost bin during the fall months with scrapped fruit and vegetable peels, cores and rotting pumpkins — compost will help your garden soil and any planted bulbs stay healthy through the colder months. Make a pinecone and peanut butter bird feeder and bird houses to hang on the porch or in the trees for winter. The fall season is full of opportunities to get into nature , so grab a basket, pull on your boots and wrap up in a scarf. The great outdoors await! Images via Ricardo Gomez Angel , Dei R. , Christopher Jolly , Patrick Fore and Lukas Langrock

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Celebrate the season with this guide to sustainable fall activities

10 money-saving tips for a green home

September 7, 2018 by  
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With more and more people becoming mindful about the environment, there has never been a better time to make your home greener . Not only does making your house more sustainable contribute to a better world, but it also puts money back into your pocket. Here are 10 ways in which you can turn your home into an environmentally friendly space. 1. Save Water We usually think about sustainability in terms of energy savings, but being environmentally minded also means taking a closer look at water consumption. There are plenty of ways you can save water around the house, and some of the methods require no investment on your part. For example, avoid running tap water while you are brushing your teeth, and only do laundry and run the dishwasher when you have a full load. Beyond changing your daily routines, you can drastically cut down on water consumption by investing in a low-flow shower head. These energy-efficient shower heads can save around 160,000 liters every year, depending on the size of your family. You should also check your home for any leaks, including running toilets and leaky faucets. Not only do these waste water, but they can also drive up your monthly water bill. 2. Choose Green Lighting Eco-friendly light bulbs are nothing new, but they have only recently started trending with homeowners. Nowadays, companies offer a slew of energy-efficient light bulbs, so finding the right match for your home is easier than ever. These bulbs use less electricity but are just as bright as their traditional counterparts. They also have longer life spans, which means you will spend less money on replacements. If you opt for smart lighting, you can program your lights to further optimize their energy consumption. Smart lights can be programmed to switch on and off automatically whenever you are close to the house. 3. Harness Solar Power Investing in solar power is one of the best ways you can make your home greener. Solar panels are made from photovoltaic materials and use sunlight as an energy source. The electricity generated by the solar panels can be used to power multiple devices in your house, from lighting to appliances — and it is all provided free from the sun. While the initial investment is high, you can earn back your money in energy savings. It’s also important to keep in mind that you are helping the environment by depending less on traditional energy sources. Related: A brighter energy — the practicalities of solar power 4. Set a Smart Thermostat Heating your home takes a lot of energy. Why not maximize that energy by installing a smart thermostat? These devices are easy to program and maximize the use of your home’s HVAC system. You can even program them to turn on and off during certain times of the day. For example, a smart thermostat can start warming up the house right before you come home and lower the temperature when nobody is around. This helps save energy by running your furnace more efficiently than ever, which ultimately saves you money. 5. Close the Gaps Caulking and weather stripping around doors and windows wear down over time. When those seals break down, spaces open up and allow outside air to come inside. This makes your HVAC system run harder to heat and cool your home throughout the year, consuming more energy. You can seal up those pesky gaps with new weather stripping around doors and windows. These foam strips are easy to install and can save you hundreds in your energy bill every year. 6. Recycle Recycling is one of the easiest ways you can make your home more eco-friendly. Some cities will even pick up your recycled goods with the regular trash. The key is to remember to recycle while you are throwing things away. To help facilitate this, install recycling stations in at least two parts of your home. You might even find free recycling bins from your local waste management center, making it easy to start recycling. If you already recycle, take things to the next level by creating a compost pile for food scraps. Not only are you saving these materials from the landfill, but you can use the compost for your garden next year. 7. Check Insulation A correctly insulated attic is important in regulating the temperature of your home. If your attic is not adequately insulated, air will escape through the roof and make your HVAC system run harder. Installing new insulation in your attic is not cheap at first, but it will save you a lot of money in the long run. Some locations will even give you tax rebates for insulation, so double-check the codes in your area before installing. You can also consider adding an attic fan to your home, which can help circulate air in hot and cold weather. 8. Collect Rainwater Collecting rainwater is a great way to take advantage of what nature provides. A good thunderstorm can provide upward of 300 gallons of water, all of which can be stored in water barrels. You can use the stored water for gardening or drinking during the dry seasons. This helps save on the amount of water you consume every month and puts money back in your pocket. It also prevents rainwater from washing pollutants down your city’s sewer system and ultimately dumping them into larger water sources. Be sure to check your city codes for regulations on rainwater collection. 9. Fix Water Heaters A water heater uses a lot of energy to provide hot water throughout the home. You can increase the efficiency of older units by wrapping them in insulation. You can also turn down the heater a couple of degrees to save energy. But if your water heater is in need of a replacement, consider buying a tankless one. These units only work when you need hot water and run off electricity, making them a perfect option if you have solar panels installed. Their lifespan is also considerably longer than traditional water heaters, which means less waste for the landfill. 10. Avoid VOCs Volatile organic compounds ( VOCs ) are terrible for the environment and bad for your health. These compounds, which are common in cleaning products and house paints, can irritate respiratory systems, cause nausea, headaches and other health issues. Avoid these products by opting for low-VOC or zero-VOC cleaning chemicals and household paints, which are becoming more common around the country. Images via Joe Shlabotnik , Haley Neal , Michael Coghlan , Barb Howe ,  Roger Mommaerts , Lindalnpijn , Achim Hering , Tony Webster , Yoann Siloine , Dmitri Popov , Spencer Means

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10 money-saving tips for a green home

This sustainable dog house has a green roof and solar-powered fan to keep cool

September 7, 2018 by  
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Green design has touched every aspect of our world, and now even our little furry friends can play their part in living a sustainable lifestyle. Californian firm  Studio Schicketanz has designed a sustainable dog house made with eco-friendly materials that boasts some pretty incredible features. The timber canine cottage has a side green-carpeted ramp that leads up to the green roof , which is installed with a motion-activated water faucet and irrigation system. The architects created the dreamy dog house to be both functional and sustainable. The design was inspired by the firm’s focus on creating “landscape, architecture and interior design with a focused emphasis on livability.” Related: Y-town recycled old refrigerator into a dog house for adopted pup The main volume of the dog house is a traditional box shape with a slightly slanted roof. Inside, the sleeping space is equipped with a built-in floor drain for easy cleaning. Additionally, there is a solar-powered fan that keeps the canines cool during the day. Doggies can also keep an eye on any visitors thanks to tiny peekaboo windows on either side of the home. On the exterior, a hidden compartment stores toys, treats and additional accessories. A green-covered ramp leads up to the green roof, which was integrated into the design to encourage dogs to enjoy some fresh air from the comfort of their own personal space. Adding to the dog’s comfort is a motion-activated water spout on the roof to keep the precious pooches well-hydrated while they people watch from above. To reduce water waste , the drinking fountain is connected to an irrigation system. Related: How to build a green dog house The eco-friendly dog shelter will be on display at the Carmel Canine Cottages Competition from September 11 through September 15. After the event, the structure will be auctioned off, with all funds going to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). + Studio Schicketanz Via Apartment Therapy Images via Studio Schicketanz

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This sustainable dog house has a green roof and solar-powered fan to keep cool

The Kind Lab creates greener toothpaste that doesn’t come in a tube

September 4, 2018 by  
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A tube of toothpaste is not the easiest thing to recycle . But what if you didn’t have to worry about recycling the tubes at all? The Kind Lab, a company based out of Los Angeles , has officially launched a zero-waste toothpaste that doesn’t come in a plastic tube. The company calls its product Bite Toothpaste Bits, and it could revolutionize the way we brush our teeth. The Kind Lab, a company started by Lindsay McCormick, makes the toothpaste tablets out of natural ingredients by hand. These plant-based components have been tested in clinical trials and performed well in both cleaning and protecting teeth. The company does not include fluoride in its toothpaste, making it safe for children to use, too. Bite Toothpaste Bits are molded into tablets and packed in a small jar. When you’re ready to brush your teeth, you simply pop a tablet in your mouth, wet your toothbrush and start brushing. The tablet dissolves into a paste as you brush and completely eliminates the need for the traditional toothpaste tube. The company has decided to go with a subscription-based approach for the Bite Toothpaste Bits, which means you can sign up for regular refills of toothpaste. The tablets currently come in two different flavors: mint and mint charcoal. The bottle is reused every month, and the refill tablets arrive in 100 percent biodegradable cellulose, which also cuts down on waste . The bits are ideal to bring along while traveling. Following a demonstration video that went viral, The Kind Lab has received so much attention that new orders can take three to six weeks to ship. Overall, the wait can be worthwhile, as Bite is an innovative solution to a growing problem of recycling old toothpaste tubes. It is estimated that people discard around 1 billion tubes of toothpaste every year, but these toothpaste tablets offer a zero-waste alternative. + Bite Via Core77 Images via Lindsay McCormick

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The Kind Lab creates greener toothpaste that doesn’t come in a tube

UN Environment and Yale present a sustainable tiny home in NYC

July 13, 2018 by  
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U.N. Environment and Yale University’s School of Architecture has unveiled an innovative tiny home that explores the intersection of policy and eco-conscious design. The Ecological Living Module, located at the U.N. Plaza in New York City, is a sustainable dwelling that embodies many of the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals , several of which are under review this month at the U.N. High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. Designed by an interdisciplinary group of engineers, architects and designers from the Yale Center for Ecosystems in Architecture, the 22-square-meter tiny home includes integrated systems for on-site water collection, solar energy generation (using less than 1 percent of toxic semiconductor materials), micro-agricultural infrastructure, natural daylighting, plant-based air purification, passive cooling and cross-ventilation and various other cutting-edge technologies that allow the home to function off-grid. In addition to being powered solely by renewable energy with a net-zero footprint, the housing module is composed primarily of locally sourced, bio-based renewable or recyclable materials. Several of the materials used to construct the particular model on display were reused or repurposed from previous projects. Related: 10 eclectic tiny homes built with 99% scrap At a minimum, the living tiny house module includes a kitchen, bathroom, dining area and sleeping space for four people, and it can be adapted for both domestic and commercial needs. The project demonstrates what can be accomplished in a small space with a minimal environmental footprint. The tiny home symbolizes the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals and brings sustainability closer to home and to the forefront of our lives. U.N. Environment’s communications officer Sophie Loran said, “We really enjoyed the work that went into this project because it brought together such a wide variety of experts interested in making sustainability real for people.” Related: Architecture students build a tiny CLT classroom in just 3 weeks One billion people currently inhabit informal settlements across the globe, and many more live in structures that are not environmentally friendly. Communities faced by rapid economic growth and urbanization are increasingly facing the need for new infrastructure solutions in order to grow sustainably. “Everybody on this planet has a right to a decent home, but the housing sector uses 40 percent of the planet’s total resources and represents almost a third of global greenhouse gas emissions,” said U.N. Environment Head Erik Solheim. “In the face of a growing world population, smart new housing solutions, such as the Ecological Living Module, will be needed to balance our need to house everybody while protecting our planet’s ability to support life.” In addition to examining where we live, the exhibition calls attention to how we live, namely, how our daily at-home habits impact the planet. As visitors move through the various spaces within the tiny home, they will have the opportunity to learn more about energy-efficient lighting and appliances, urban farming , composting toilets and methods for reducing water consumption and food waste. In the bathroom, visitors will be exposed to information about avoiding hygiene products containing microbeads and videos about various initiatives to protect and restore freshwater ecosystems. In the kitchen, they can explore information on global campaigns to reduce food waste or to redirect it from landfills to livestock food. Some of the Sustainable Development Goals embodied by the tiny house include “Responsible Consumption and Production,” “ Clean Water and Sanitation ” and “Climate Action.” After exploring how eco-conscious home design can directly support these goals, visitors can apply similar sustainable technologies and techniques to their own homes, making sustainability initiatives more personal and approachable. Related: Solar-powered mountain home is a sustainable prototype for Aspen development The tiny home exhibit will be on display at the U.N. Headquarters in New York City until July 18, after which it will be moved to the U.C. Berkeley campus. This first demonstration unit contains location-specific features that consider the climate and context of New York. Plans for future applications, including an adaptation in Kenya, will likewise incorporate features that cater to the local climate and culture. By demonstrating the practicality and benefits of eco-conscious affordable housing, the Ecological Living Module showcases the ability of sustainable design to meet the challenges of the 21st century. + U.N. Environment + Yale University Images via U.N. Environment

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