Fungi-inspired companies could play a new role in sustainability

April 8, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

From packaging to ecosystem rehabilitation, mycelium — the root structure of mushrooms — has a lot to offer.

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Fungi-inspired companies could play a new role in sustainability

These are the climate risks the finance sector should be planning for

April 8, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Green

COVID-19 is a dry run for climate catastrophes.

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These are the climate risks the finance sector should be planning for

Bronx Zoo tiger tests positive for coronavirus

April 7, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Perhaps it’s not surprising that the first known U.S. case of an animal testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans, should be in New York , the disease’s epicenter in North America. But what is shocking is the species — a Malayan tiger. Several lions and tigers in the Bronx Zoo developed a dry cough consistent with coronavirus ’ leading symptoms. The zoo veterinarian decided to test 4-year-old Nadia, a Malayan tiger, and send the sample to a veterinary lab. Because the test requires general anesthesia when dealing with such a strong animal, the veterinarians didn’t test the other big cats that are showing symptoms. Nadia’s sister Azul, three African lions and two Amur tigers are also coughing. A male Amur tiger that shares their enclosure is so far asymptomatic. The zoo has been temporarily closed since March 16. Related: Discarded face masks now threatening wildlife habitats “We tested the cat out of an abundance of caution and will ensure any knowledge we gain about COVID-19 will contribute to the world’s continuing understanding of this novel coronavirus,” the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement. “Though they have experienced some decrease in appetite, the cats at the Bronx Zoo are otherwise doing well under veterinary care and are bright, alert and interactive with their keepers. It is not known how this disease will develop in big cats since different species can react differently to novel infections, but we will continue to monitor them closely and anticipate full recoveries.” Bronx Zoo veterinarian Paul Calle also noted that the test used on Nadia is different than the type of tests available to humans and that there is no competition in available tests for animals versus for humans. How does a tiger catch the coronavirus? The USDA suspects via a zoo employee. “The handler might have been [close to] the tiger, and may have sneezed or coughed, which could cause infection ,” Vanessa Barrs, professor of companion animal health and disease at Hong Kong’s Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences, told Time . “The tiger could also have come into contact with something the handler earlier touched.” While this is the first big feline to test positive for the virus, a Belgian house cat previously contracted the disease. Two dogs and a cat in Hong Kong also tested positive for coronavirus. These four pets lived with owners who contracted COVID-19 and probably caught the virus from them. There are no known cases of pets passing the virus to humans. The USDA advises people sick with COVID-19 to stay away from pets and other animals . + Bronx Zoo Via Time Image via ©WCS

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Bronx Zoo tiger tests positive for coronavirus

Tiny timber cabin opens up to the French countryside

April 7, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Kyoto-based architecture 2m26 used locally sourced materials to build a peaceful tiny timber cabin tucked into the French countryside. At just 376 square feet, La Petite Maison is compact, but floor-to-ceiling glass panels, multiple sliding glass doors and an open courtyard strategically connect the home’s interior to its quaint surroundings, making it feel vast. Located in the picturesque countryside of Guitinières in southwestern France, the tiny cabin was built onsite. From the onset, the architects were inspired to create a small, minimalist living space that blended seamlessly into its natural surroundings. Related: Transparent, prefab tiny cabin offers the best views of the Italian Alps La Petit Maison boasts a strategic design that makes it feel much more open and spacious than its square footage would lead one to believe. Made out of locally sourced materials , the square frame is crafted from light Douglas fir. The frame is elevated off the landscape with small concrete piles to reduce its site impact as much as possible. In order to open up the tiny home, which is designed to be a guest house, the architects decided to use multiple massive panels of glass to usher in views of the idyllic countryside. Several sliding glass doors and floor-to-ceiling windows flood the interior with natural light and blur the line between the indoors and outdoors. Additionally, guests can enjoy spending time in the open-air courtyard that sits between the living space and the exterior. The minimalist interiors feature sparse furnishings. Made out of the same locally sourced wood as the structure, the furniture inside the tiny timber cabin is completely utilitarian, with just enough pieces for seating, dining and sleeping. Although the interior design is completely free of any sort of frivolous amenities, the guest house provides visitors with a relaxing, no-frills place to disconnect from stress while reconnecting with nature. + 2m26 Images via 2m26

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Tiny timber cabin opens up to the French countryside

Green hydrogen could curb one-third of fossil fuel and industry emissions by 2050

April 7, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

That’s according to a BloombergNEF report that calls policy support for the hydrogen economy “insufficient.”

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Green hydrogen could curb one-third of fossil fuel and industry emissions by 2050

Solar-powered home in Maine stays warm with passive design

April 6, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

As one of the most beautiful states in the country, Maine offers an infinite number of advantages. But the state’s notoriously frigid winters often leave new residents desperate to find some respite from the long, cold months. After spending a few years in a drafty home where she and her family lived in multiple layers of clothing, author Jessica Kerwin Jenkins and her husband decided to build their own energy-efficient home. The result is an incredible barn-inspired structure that uses solar power and multiple passive features to keep the stunning interior living spaces warm and cozy throughout the year. Once they set out to build a new home, the couple researched passive house concepts that would suit their family’s needs, which included a comfortable living space where they wouldn’t have to dress in 10 layers of warm clothing for six months out of the year. With the help of a local architect, the couple set out to build an extremely airtight structure that used solar power and passive strategies to create an energy-efficient home with a minimal carbon footprint. Related: Beautiful Maine home uses passive solar principles to achieve near net-zero energy Located in the quaint community of Blue Hill, the beautiful home is tucked into an old blueberry field just minutes away from a secluded cove. The incredibly idyllic setting set the tone for the design, which focused on creating something that would fit the region’s style but also reap the benefits of modern sustainability. As for aesthetics, Jenkins explained that she and her husband were both intrigued by the traditional Japanese practice of shou sugi ban . But they ended up cladding the home in something that would pay homage to the local seaside community — pitch tar. Typically used to weatherproof ships’ masts, the material is durable, low-maintenance and highly insulative. Additionally, the jet-black exterior allows the home to both stand out and blend in with its natural surroundings. “We always wanted to do a black house, which seems really dramatic — but there are so many evergreens here that it disappears into the tree line,” Jenkins said. The house is topped with a 26-panel, 7.8 kW solar array on the pitched roof, generating more power than the home uses. The exterior is punctuated with an abundance of triple-paned windows that, thanks to the home’s southern orientation, provide optimal solar gain to keep the interiors warm. At 2,288 square feet, the four-bedroom home is quite spacious. Plentiful windows and high ceilings add to the modern feel of the living spaces. For an extra touch of warmth, the home is equipped with a radiant floor heating and an air exchanger that pulls in air from outside and passes it through a filter. This stunning, eco-friendly home set in an unbelievable location, not far from Acadia National Park, can be all yours for just $585,000 , as it is currently listed for sale. + Christopher Group Via Apartment Therapy Photography by Bruce Frame Photography via Christopher Group

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Solar-powered home in Maine stays warm with passive design

Reclaimed wood raft features an origami paper canopy

April 6, 2020 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

The innovative team at U.K.-based Inclume has come up with a unique way to take a break from the stresses of life. Its latest design is a reclaimed wood raft that accommodates two people. The Tetra raft even features a peaceful shading canopy made out of delicate, origami paper forms. Inspired by the shape of an abstracted sail, the volume of the raft incorporates multiple tetrahedron shapes. Entirely constructed out of reclaimed materials, Tetra achieves its buoyancy thanks to three old barrels that were donated to the team. Atop the barrels is the main platform, which is made of salvaged shipping pallets provided by a local carpenter. Several discarded garden bamboo canes comprise the frame and canopy. Even the boat’s oars, which were sanded and painted with a triangular motif, were donated from a local boat club. Related: Floating ICEBERG creatively confronts global warming With its tiny size and rustic nature, the reclaimed wood raft is perfect for an escape on the water. Adding a bit of serenity to the design is a beautiful, handcrafted canopy. This canopy consists of several triangular frames, which are crafted from thread entwined with recycled paper. The canopy is then covered in origami paper forms that add whimsy to the overall design. Intricately folded by hand, the paper forms sway gently in the wind and allow natural light and shade to dance across the raft. The Tetra raft was a temporary installation that took place on a local lake. During the day, passersby were encouraged to help the team construct parts of the raft on the shore. According to the designers, the aim of the event was not only to build a temporary, water-based shelter out of reclaimed materials, but to also encourage people to participate in similar projects in their communities. + Inclume Images via Inclume

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Reclaimed wood raft features an origami paper canopy

These recycled plastic tracksuits are naturally dyed with plants

April 3, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Environmentally conscious clothing companies are few and far between, with the fashion industry as a whole being one of the top polluters on Earth. But with the planet in mind, PANGAIA (pronounced Pan-guy-ya) creates fabrics that are responsibly made to the benefit of the environment and your wardrobe. The newest addition to the PANGAIA lineup is the tracksuit collection consisting of hoodies and track pants. The 15 colors range from standard gray and off-white to strikingly bright shades of orange and green, each of which are naturally dyed with plant-derived colors. The non-toxic, natural dyes are made from food waste, plants, fruits and vegetables to achieve the richly toned hues. As an example, the pink track pants are colored with a natural dye extracted from roots and rhizomes of Rubia cordifolia . The Rennet yellow track pants and hoodies are colored with a natural dye extracted from Gall Nut of Quercus infectoria . Related: PANGAIA presents FLWRDWN, a down alternative made from biodegradable wildflowers According to the company, 100 billion articles of clothing and 500 billion plastic bottles are produced annually, with half ending up in landfills. Instead of contributing to the waste, PANGAIA turns discarded plastic, mostly from single-use water bottles, into yarn and then into long-lasting clothing. To add softness and comfort, it combines 45% recycled cotton with 55% organic cotton, grown without damaging pesticides and herbicides that pollute the soil and water. “The organic raw cotton we use holds the transaction certificate from the Control Union, meaning that the yarn is processed according to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS),” the company stated. “All trims, labels and threads are either recycled or responsibly sourced.” Additional consideration is taken for the product packaging, which is part bio-based and able to break down at a compost facility in 24 weeks. PANGAIA has a history of sustainable material development, with a variety of products made from plants. For example, it has produced a seaweed fiber that is naturally organic and easily biodegradable, and the company spent 10 years developing FLWRDWN, a goose and duck down alternative made from flowers. Similar products are available as part of the botanical dye T-shirt line, all of which are colored from dyes created from food waste and natural resources. For example, PANGAIA’s Sakura Tee is dyed from excess Japanese sakura cherry blossoms after they are collected for making tea. PANGAIA reports its “supplier dyes textiles in a way that uses less water, is non-toxic and biodegradable.” To ensure transparency throughout the manufacturing process, each garment tag includes blockchain technology that shows the full history of the garment. A blockchain cannot be altered and provides a record of each stage of the journey, with complete traceability and authenticity. The new tracksuits are made in Portugal. + PANGAIA Images via PANGAIA

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These recycled plastic tracksuits are naturally dyed with plants

Where to order vegetable seeds online

April 2, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

My grandfather always liked to garden, but he ramped up his vegetable production during World War II. Many folks at the time grew what they called “ victory gardens ” to supplement food shortages and ration cards. Nowadays, with COVID-19 raging on, people are similarly starting pandemic gardens. If you’re thinking of starting a garden or adding to your existing plots, here are some tips on buying seeds online. “There’s a huge number of people looking for planting information right now,” Melody Rose, an editor at Dave’s Garden , told Inhabitat. “We’ve seen an uptick in members who have slipped away coming back.” Related: New gardener advice and suggestions So far, supply chains are holding. While toilet paper may be scarce, there’s still plenty of food. But why not start a garden? If you’re sheltering in place anyway and you have some outdoor space, this healthy habit will connect you with the earth, get you safely outside and provide food in the coming months. Rose talked with Inhabitat to share tips for starting a garden and finding the best places to buy seeds online. What to plant If you’re new to gardening , you might not know what to plant. My early gardening attempts involved grandiose dreams of winning county fair prizes with exotic vegetables, none of which wanted to grow in my yard, as it turned out. That’s because you have to know your turf. Thanks to a neighbor’s enormous oak tree, I get less than the ideal amount of afternoon sun. So after some trial and error, I know to stick to kale , peas, beans and lettuce. Lucky enough to have more sun? “Beginning gardeners will have good luck with squash and cucumbers if they have a sunny spot outdoors and the seeds can be planted directly in the ground,” Rose said. “Beans are easy to plant outdoors, you just need at least a dozen plants to do much good, and probably more. Lettuce and radishes are quick and easy, and you can plant seeds several weeks apart to ensure a crop for a longer time.” Vegetables grow best with at least eight hours of full sun every day, Rose advised. “Afternoon sun is preferable to morning sun. I plant my vegetables where they get full sun all day, but I know that isn’t an option for some. Lettuce, radishes and spinach will do okay with a little more shade, especially when the summer temps get really hot.” Some plants are more high-maintenance than others. “Tomatoes and peppers are a bit tricky to start since they require several weeks under lights indoors,” Rose said. If you’re new to gardening, it’s better to minimize start-up costs and see how your new hobby goes. If it turns out you constantly forget to water and weed, you’ll regret buying a bunch of lights. Garden choices also come down to taste and whether you have enough space to grow a sufficient number of plants. What good is a bountiful bean harvest if you hate beans? And what good is one plant if you can’t harvest at least a single meal’s worth of vegetables from it? “Being Southern, I like okra,” Rose said. “It needs warm summers, but grows well and few pests bother it. Each plant will provide one or two pods every day all summer . You’ll need between one and two dozen pods for a family of four, depending on how they like it.” Where to buy seeds online Toilet paper companies aren’t the only ones experiencing increased demand. Seed companies are feeling it, too. “Good companies are having a huge surge in mail orders,” Rose explained. “I know that Baker Creek had to shut their portal down over last weekend just to catch up with orders.” Rose recommended a few vendors she’s ordered from herself. “I have nothing but good things to say about them,” she said. “I think all of these companies are having a good sales year.” Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds , based in Missouri, began in 1998 and now offers about 1,200 varieties of heirloom vegetables, herbs and flowers. Try the purple lady bok choy and atomic orange corn. Iowa-based Seed Savers Exchange started with tomato and morning glory seeds brought by the founder’s grandfather from Bavaria. Johnny’s Seeds , which is 100% employee-owned, began in the attic of a New Hampshire farmhouse in 1973. Kitazawa Seed Company , founded in 1917, is the country’s oldest seed company specializing in Asian vegetables. People who start seed companies are a special breed. It takes a lot of passion and perseverance for small, organic companies to go up against huge, conventional seed growers. I recently ordered seeds from Wild Mountain Seeds in Colorado, after sharing an Uber Pool ride with the one of the owners, who was en route to an organic seed growers conference. Wild Mountain specializes in heirloom tomatoes and sturdy seeds that can withstand colder climates. Because of the pandemic-related upsurge in seed sales, keep in mind that these and other companies might be slower than usual in delivering, out of stock and/or might have to temporarily close ordering to catch up with demand. Rose recommended checking out any unfamiliar seed company in the Garden Watchdog rating database on Dave’s Garden. You can even narrow your search to specific plants. Beginner gardening tips Rose suggested starting small and properly preparing your soil . Too much ambition and too little knowledge could put you off gardening forever. “One of my husband’s employees decided that he and his family would plant a garden last year and he had a huge plot tilled up,” she said. “They battled weeds, bugs, raccoons, rabbits and deer. The ground wasn’t prepared properly and they chose a location that was shaded in the afternoon. Needless to say, it was a huge disaster.” If possible, test your soil before planting. The Old Farmers Almanac offers DIY testing advice . Otherwise, Rose recommended incorporating well-rotted manure or a commercial fertilizer with a 10-10-10 rating. Even if you don’t have a proper plot, you can still container garden. Just be sure not to pick containers that are too small or shallow. “A tomato plant needs the minimum of a five-gallon bucket and a gallon of water every day to produce,” Rose said. “A squash plant is similar.” Microgreens are an option for people who have no outdoor space and/or lack green thumbs. Microgreens are nutrient-packed plants that require only a tiny container, a handful of soil and a sunny windowsill . “I think microgreens would be an easy and nutritious option for lots of people,” Rose said. “Easy, very little equipment and fast turnaround.” Whether you’re an indoor urban gardener or have an acre of land, there’s never been a better time to get your hands in some cool dirt and grow something nutritious to eat. + Dave’s Garden Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat and Eco Warrior Princess

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Where to order vegetable seeds online

ODonnellBrown designs affordable, modular outdoor classroom

April 1, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

In a bid to support creative and independent learning in the outdoors, Glasgow-based architectural practice  O’DonnellBrown  has designed and built a prototype for a Community Classroom that can be assembled, adapted and dismounted in a cinch. Completed for just £10,000 (roughly $11,278), the entirely self-initiated project is based on a kit of parts that was developed using standard structural timber section sizes that make up the skeletal frame. The use of plywood modules empowers the classroom’s users to easily reconfigure the space to suit a diverse range of activities. Stripped down to a simple plywood skeletal frame, the minimalist Community Classroom combines function with beautiful architectural expression. The prototype, which was completed in September 2019 in Glasgow, measures 24 square meters of gross internal space but can be easily expanded thanks to its  modular  system. The Community Classroom kit comes with an easy-to-follow construction manual and can also be equipped with modules for seating, shelving, worktops and presentation surfaces. “The  classroom  is intended to promote and support creative and independent learning in a healthy, versatile and fun environment,” a Community Classroom press release stated. “It has been designed in line with the Curriculum for Excellence and the National Improvement Framework, to facilitate inclusive learning and mental wellbeing.” Sponsors and stakeholders, including the RIAS and Saint-Gobain, have provided material and technical support for the project.  Related: A modular classroom for environmental education pops up in a Barcelona park True to its name, the Community Classroom was developed alongside the  community , including the national children’s charity Barnado’s Works, which helped connect young volunteers to the project. The Community Classroom has hosted community-based workshops and events, including a craft workshop by local community center Nan McKay Hall. This project will continue to host events by a diverse range of users in the future as part of its mission to raise the bar for outdoor learning opportunities. + O’DonnellBrown Images © Ross Campbell

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