Dominica makes historic pledge to combat plastic pollution

August 13, 2018 by  
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Many countries are fighting plastic pollution by enforcing harsher regulations such as special labels and plastic taxes, but the island nation of Dominica is now leading the pack by announcing that it will ban plastic foam and common plastics by 2019. With less than five months left to go, the heroic stand involves the elimination of single-use items such as plastic straws, plates, forks and knives as well as plastic foam cups and containers. “Dominica prides itself as the ‘Nature Isle,’” Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said in his July 2018  budget address . “We must in every way deserve and reflect that designation. The issue of solid waste management affects that perception and we continue to grapple with it.” His hopes are to inspire not just a more environmentally prominent Dominica through successful sustainability measures , but to also create the world’s first-ever climate-resilient nation. Related: Shocking Caribbean photos reveal a “sea of plastic and Styrofoam” This undertaking to fight plastic pollution and become climate-resilient complements the country’s aim to better protect itself from natural disasters. In September 2017, Hurricane Maria ravaged the island, which is still grappling with the humanitarian and economic effects of the disaster. “Extreme weather events are now more frequent and intense, brought on by climate change impacts that are real, visible, devastating and unrelenting,” Skerrit said. “We must rebuild and reset our society and economy and protect our environment in order to achieve a new, more resilient Dominica.” Dominica follows in the footsteps of countries such as the U.K., New Zealand and Australia, which have seen a significant reduction in plastic pollution after taking measures against single-use plastic bags. Major companies such as Starbucks and Disney have also gained traction in their battles against plastic straws. Dominica will be the first nation to launch such a strict initiative against the major pollutants of plastic and plastic foam, and hopefully many countries will look to the nation’s progress when adopting their own action plans. + Dominica Via CNN Image via JD Lasica

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Dominica makes historic pledge to combat plastic pollution

Mountain Heroes cyclist aims for world record to fight climate change

August 6, 2018 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Michael Strasser, famous cyclist and the first cyclist to join the  UN Environment’s  Mountain Heroes campaign, has now been cycling for nearly two weeks. His goal? Establishing a new world record by cycling from Alaska to Patagonia through the longest overland route. But the 14,300-mile and nearly 610,000-vertical-foot  Ice2Ice expedition is not just about immense feats of strength and stamina. Strasser also seeks to demonstrate how personal transportation choices can mitigate climate change. Originally an architect, Strasser began his expedition on July 23. The Austrian cyclist is now crossing Canada and has been updating followers and contributors on his journey in real time. His candid memos are paired with a live tracking map that includes the time spent cycling as well as distance and elevation details. He wrote, “Yesterday, for example, that damned smoke was back in the morning for the first two hours,” referring to a forest fire that had broken out close to his trail. “And then, while I was still angry about the very rough roads, a little black bear appeared on the side of the road and put a smile on my lips.” The cyclist hopes to inspire action in order to protect mountain ecosystems , which provide freshwater around the world and are home to a diverse array of plants and animals. Related: Former businessman bicycles down the Thames River to stop plastic pollution A rise in pollution and the impacts of climate change have put stress on these delicate mountain ecosystems. The glaciers through which Strasser is traveling have been reduced by nearly a third since the 1960s, displaying a visible amount of loss in ice and snow cover. Along with the fragile biological diversity in these areas, the retreating glaciers serve as one of the Earth’s most reliable sources of fresh drinking water. Climate change is disproportionately affecting these mountainous regions, along with high elevation zones such as the Arctic and Antarctica. “It would mean a lot to me if I could motivate every single person who follows me to sometimes take a bike instead of their car,” Strasser said. “If my attempt is to bike 23,000 kilometers and 185,000 vertical meters, then everyone can manage one or the other kilometer in their daily life too. I think if all of us contribute something even small, something big can come of it.” + Ice2Ice + UN Environment Images via Michael Strasser

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Mountain Heroes cyclist aims for world record to fight climate change

Truly get away from it all at this gorgeous eco-resort and yoga retreat

August 1, 2018 by  
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A lot of people consider “getting away from it all” going to Las Vegas, New York City , Tokyo or Dubai, but that’s really just getting away from where you are to immerse yourself in chaos, where the “all” is larger than ever. For the ultimate getaway, including no phones, TV, Wi-Fi, Starbucks, or air conditioning, head to Xinalani , a stunning yoga retreat near Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico that will help you truly relax and unwind. Nestled between a flourishing jungle and the incredibly translucent Banderas Bay on the mighty Pacific Ocean, and just 12 miles down the beach from Puerto Vallarta, Xinalani is an isolated eco-resort. Here, you can enjoy having nothing to do except listen to the sound of crashing waves, relax on endless beaches with sand as fine as sugar and bask in so much sunshine you’ll think you can walk on it. Related: Thai eco-resort delights guests with woven pods and other sublime dwellings Although Xinalani is a serene hideaway aimed toward yoga aficionados, you don’t even have to own a pair of yoga pants to enjoy it to its fullest. It’s a foray into nature that offers sleeping and living quarters inside three-sided, palm-thatched cabins with nothing but a curtain separating you from the great outdoors. If you do love yoga, experience classes held in ideal settings in the Greenhouse, the Jungle Studio treehouse, the Sand Terrace or the Meditation Cabin. Typical rooms have amenities including al fresco showers, handcrafted writing desks and personal balconies with breathtaking vistas of Banderas Bay and the jungle. You can upgrade to a freestanding suite for privacy and luxuries like cozy pillow-top hammocks and beds as well as extravagant silk mosquito netting. Of course, no paradise would be complete without spa massages, pools and outstanding bars and restaurants — including a scrumptious breakfast buffet — scattered up and down the beach. Whether you visit Xinalani for the yoga or just for an unforgettable tropical excursion, you’ll leave feeling relaxed, refreshed and renewed. + Xinalani Via Dwell Images via Xinalani

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Truly get away from it all at this gorgeous eco-resort and yoga retreat

Coca-Cola rewards recycling in the UK with half-priced theme park tickets

July 26, 2018 by  
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Many theme-park visitors in the U.S. are familiar with using bottles or cans of soda they’ve purchased to score a discounted entry to their favorite attractions. Now, the U.K. is joining in with “reverse vending machines” to reward visitors instantly for recycling . Merlin , owner and operator of several U.K. resort theme parks, has teamed up with Coca-Cola to boost recycling and combat litter pollution in the U.K. As part of Coca-Cola’s rewards program, visitors may now deposit their finished 500 ml beverage containers into “reverse vending machines” and obtain 50 percent off vouchers in exchange for their environmental contribution. “We want to reward people for doing the right thing by recycling their bottles and hope to encourage some people who wouldn’t otherwise have done so,” Jon Woods, general manager of Coca-Cola U.K. and Ireland,  told The Guardian . The machines are installed at four Merlin-operated attractions: Chessington World of Adventures, Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and  LEGOLAND . But those who are rewarded with discounts can use their prizes at any of the 30 attractions operated by Merlin in the country. The promotion is planned to continue until mid-October, when most of the parks will shut down for the winter season. Related: This floating park in Rotterdam is made from recycled plastic waste Of the 13 billion plastic bottles sold yearly in the U.K., only 7.5 billion are recycled, according to a report by the Guardian . This initiative is hoping to shift these statistics more favorably while also eliminating the 700,000 bottles that are littered daily. “All of our bottles can be recycled, and we want to get as many of them back as possible, so they can be turned into new bottles and not end up as litter,” Woods said. According to research by Coca-Cola, 64 percent of people in the U.K. would be more inclined to recycle more if they were instantly compensated for their actions. The move to encourage recycling at theme-parks comes after Co-op , the first retailer in the U.K. to launch deposit return trials with the reverse vending machines, reported positive feedback from its partnership with popular summer music festivals. This recycling movement will help tackle the stresses government officials face in light of growing land and marine pollution. + Coca-Cola Via  The Guardian and  BusinessGreen Image via Shutterstock

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Coca-Cola rewards recycling in the UK with half-priced theme park tickets

20-foot shipping container converted into off-grid oasis deep in the Catskills

June 7, 2018 by  
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The beautiful Contanium shipping container cabin , just a two-hour drive from NYC, is proving that going off-grid doesn’t have to mean going bare bones. Available for rent on Airbnb, the solar-powered container cabin offers peaceful solitude with all of the comforts of a luxury cabin, including a comfy sofa bed, kitchenette, writing desk, wood-burning stove, and outdoor hot tub. The 20-foot shipping container is perfect for a summer weekend away or even a winter wonderland experience. The container is highly insulated for the cold New York winters, and a wood-burning stove helps the interior stay warm and cozy at all hours of the day and night. The solar-powered cabin comes installed with a composting toilet and a gravity-feed water system. Low-energy windows also provide natural light while reducing heat loss in the wintertime. Large sliding glass doors open onto the patio in the warmer months, letting guests enjoy nature right outside their living space. Related: This amazing shipping container hotel can pop up anywhere in the world Inside the cabin’s beautiful woodsy interior, guests can enjoy the comforts of home. The lights are controlled by a touch-activated LED lighting system . A small but sufficient sofa bed can be folded up for seating space. The kitchenette, although compact, is fully stocked with top-of-the-line appliances. The bathroom is just 40 feet away and is a modern, sophisticated take on the traditional outhouse, with lots of natural light, pine paneling and an open shower stall. The outdoor patio has a large seating area positioned around a fire ring. Additionally, a yoga platform and hammock all but guarantee a rejuvenation of mind, body and spirit. Outside, guests will enjoy a wood-fired hot tub made out of a 120-gallon galvanized metal tub, which can be filled up with stream water. Besides staying in a beautiful eco-friendly cabin , guests will have a breathtaking natural forest to explore. The cabin sits on 20 acres of woodland with various trails to choose from, including one that leads to a 30-foot waterfall just 100 yards north. + Contanium Cabin Via 6 Sq Ft Photographs via Airbnb

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20-foot shipping container converted into off-grid oasis deep in the Catskills

A historic Shanghai mansion hides a spectacular modern bookstore

June 7, 2018 by  
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Although Shanghai doesn’t have the historic cachet that Beijing does, the ultra-modern Pearl of the Orient has its fair share of adaptive reuse projects. Case in point is the recent transformation of an old mansion into a modern bookstore in the city’s Huangpu District. The multi-story Sinan Bookshop, designed by local architecture firm WUtopia Lab , combines multiple functions with an artistic and contemporary design that’s rich in a variety of hues and textures. Commissioned by the Shanghai Century Publishing Group and the Yongye Group, the new Sinan Bookshop is housed in Building 25, one of the Sinan Mansions built in the 1920s and 1930s for the city’s elite. Today, the Sinan Mansions are undergoing massive redevelopment in a somewhat controversial process. Many of the historic buildings will be knocked down and rebuilt with faux-renovations for high-end retail or apartments that cater almost exclusively to the rich. However, the Sinan Bookshop — which the architects say is housed in the original building — is thankfully accessible to all and will offer educational spaces for the general public. “The goal was to provide a space for learning and thinking for the general public living in the city,” the architecture firm wrote. “Considering one’s mind, thoughts, perception and sub-consciousness, Sinan books is seen as a person with a system of acquiring knowledge while discovering oneself and the surrounding.” Related: Architects squeeze an ethereal art gallery into a narrow Shanghai alleyway The bookshop is entered through the second floor, which also houses a cafe, cashier and books on literature and Shanghai. The first floor contains books on history and philosophy, as well as an outpost of the London Review Bookshop. An exhibition hall and books on art can be found on the third floor. A multipurpose events space is located on the fourth floor and is designed to host cultural saloons or debates. A rich mixture of colors and textures — from herringbone parquet floors to forest-green hues to shades of salmon — is woven throughout each floor. + WUtopia Lab Images by CreatAR Images

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A historic Shanghai mansion hides a spectacular modern bookstore

Dutch town helps out rare bat species by installing "bat-friendly" streetlights

June 7, 2018 by  
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Street lighting can impact bats’ feeding patterns and internal compasses, as well as the activity of their insect prey, but a town in the Netherlands is taking steps to help the bats out. Zuidhoek Nieuwkoop , a housing development of around 90 sustainable homes near the Nieuwkoopse Plassen nature reserve, has installed what are thought to be the world’s first bat-friendly streetlights. The red LED  lights from Signify , formerly Philips Lighting, brighten the road for humans, but the the bats still perceive the light as darkness. The town and surrounding area are part of the Natura 2000 , a network of nesting and breeding sites for rare and threatened species across the European Union. These sites don’t all exclude human activities; in fact, most of the land is privately owned. The approach to conservation on these sites revolves around “people working with nature rather than against it,” according to the European Commission. Related: Bat bridge provides shelter for our winged friends in the Dutch town of Monster Bat-friendly lighting could fit that bill. Zuidhoek Nieuwkoop , according to Signify, is a key feeding ground “for some rare bat species.” The energy-efficient streetlights emit red with a wavelength that won’t interfere with the flying mammals’ internal compasses. The lighting is based on 2017 research from Wageningen University , the Netherlands Institute of Ecology , and Philips Lighting. Nieuwkoop city council member Guus Elkhuizen said, “Nieuwkoop is the first town in the world to use smart LED street lights that are designed to be friendly to bats. When developing our unique housing program, our goal was to make the project as sustainable as possible, while preserving our local bat species with minimal impact to their habitat and activities. We’ve managed to do this and also keep our carbon footprint and energy consumption to a minimum.” + Signify + Zuidhoek Nieuwkoop Images courtesy of Signify

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Dutch town helps out rare bat species by installing "bat-friendly" streetlights

Global tourism’s carbon footprint is four times bigger than we thought

May 7, 2018 by  
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For the first time, researchers have quantified the  carbon footprint of global  tourism around the world – and their findings show that tourism’s impact is roughly four times greater than previously thought. The research, led by the Integrated Sustainability Analysis supply-chain research group at the University of Sydney , accounted for all components of the tourism industry, from travel to souvenirs. The group found global tourist activity is growing faster than international trade and already accounts for one-tenth of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The impact analysis took a year and a half to finish and included approximately one billion global supply chains. “Our analysis is a world-first look at the true cost of tourism—including consumables such as food from eating out and souvenirs—it’s a complete life-cycle assessment of global tourism, ensuring we don’t miss any impacts,” study co-author Dr. Arunima Malik told Phys.org . Not surprisingly, the researchers identified air travel as the major contributor to the overall emissions from global tourism. Related: 7 exotic off-grid Airbnb rental homes for adventurous travelers As much of the world experiences a period of strong economic growth, there is concern that this will result in greater greenhouse gas emissions. “We found the per-capita carbon footprint increases strongly with increased affluence and does not appear to satiate as incomes grow,” lead researcher Manfred Lenzen told Phys.org . The researchers recognize that high-level actions must be taken to counteract the ever-increasing emissions trend in tourism. “Given that tourism is set to grow faster than many other economic sectors, the international community may consider its inclusion in the future in climate commitments, such as the Paris Accord , by tying international flights to specific nations,” co-author Ya-Yen Sun told Phys.org . “ Carbon taxes or carbon trading schemes—in particular for aviation—may be required to curtail unchecked future growth in tourism-related emissions.” All this, however, will most certainly result in increased costs for air travelers. + University of Sydney Via Phys.org Images via Depositphotos 1, 2

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Global tourism’s carbon footprint is four times bigger than we thought

Stay in a cozy geodesic dome at this amazing Patagonia retreat

January 23, 2018 by  
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Set in the stunning landscape of Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, EcoCamp Patagonia is a sustainable retreat made up of upscale geodesic domes . Offering amazing views of the surrounding nature (including the park’s majestic granite towers), the domes operate on renewable energy and were built to be low-impact on the landscape. Tucked into the otherworldly landscape of the Andes mountain range, the award-winning EcoCamp operates completely on environmentally sound principles. The guest accommodations as well as the common spaces are run on solar and hydraulic energy . All waste is either composted or recycled. Additionally, the meals are made with locally-grown food and the ecocamp works closely with the local community on sustainability issues. The camp’s environmental profile is so strong that it has earned ISO14001 certification since 2007 and ISO 9001 certification since 2012. Related: EcoCamp Patagonia is a Gorgeous Geodesic Campground in Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park The glamping domes were built off the ground on elevated platforms to minimize impact on the landscape . Their design was inspired by the indigenous Alacalufe nomads who are known to leave no traces when they travel. The green color of the domes not only helps reduce solar radiation, but also blends the complex into the environment. Each dome is insulated with thick walls and heated with propane heaters. There are four types of guest domes on offer – from standard accommodations to swanky Suite Dome Lofts. They all come with quality amenities like comfy beds, private bathrooms and skylights that flood the interiors with natural light . Guests can mingle in the Community Domes or take a class in the Yoga Dome. The lodge also offers hiking excursions through the amazing mountainous landscape of the Andes. + EcoCamp Patagonia Via Dwell Images via EcoCamp Patagonia

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Stay in a cozy geodesic dome at this amazing Patagonia retreat

Amazon opens new grocery store sans checkout lines

January 23, 2018 by  
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You’ll never wait in checkout lines at Amazon’s new grocery store, Amazon Go . Shoppers enter the store via an app , grab the food they need, and then simply walk out. The first Amazon Go just opened for business in Seattle . Amazon is opening up their first Amazon Go, an 1,800-square-foot physical grocery store. People scan an app on their smartphones to enter, pick up whatever food they want to buy, and leave without the hassle of waiting in line. Once through the doors, users don’t need the app to shop – Amazon said in a video they drew on “ computer vision, deep learning algorithms, and sensor fusion, much like you’d find in self-driving cars” to make the concept a reality. The Next Web said cameras on store shelves track what customers grab. Related: You can now buy tiny shipping container homes on Amazon What can you purchase inside an Amazon Go? Similar to a regular old grocery store of the past, customers can pick up staples like milk and bread, alcohol, and ready-to-eat snacks, breakfast, lunch, or dinners to start. The company will also offer Amazon Meal Kits, which include ingredients to cook a meal for two people in around half an hour. #AmazonGo opens on Monday, January 22 in Seattle. Get the app to enter the store. See you soon! https://t.co/jt7quQ4rke pic.twitter.com/shIyrifZyk — Amazon.com (@amazon) January 21, 2018 The New York Times said there are no baskets or shopping carts – customers place the items they want in a bag they walk out with. And while there aren’t cashiers, an Amazon Go store still requires staff – to stock shelves, help shoppers with any technical issues, help them find items, and check identification in the beer and wine section. Amazon unveiled plans for Amazon Go back in late 2016 – but had to delay the launch because of some technical difficulties, according to The Next Web. But it appears they’re ready to go with this first location, which is at 2131 7th Avenue, and is open Monday through Friday from 7 AM to 9 PM. The app works for Android or iOS. Amazon has not yet said whether they’ll open more Amazon Go stores, or utilize the technology in other ways — like selling it to other retailers. + Amazon Go Via The Next Web and The New York Times Images via Amazon Twitter and Amazon

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Amazon opens new grocery store sans checkout lines

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