Study calls budding octopus farm industry unethical and unsustainable

May 14, 2019 by  
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A new study by an international group of scientists denounces the up-and-coming octopus farming industry as both detrimental to fragile marine ecosystems and unethical given their high intelligence. As countries like Japan announce they will start selling farmed octopus in 2020, researchers call on companies and governments to discontinue funding the new industry, claiming there is still an opportunity to prevent the same unethical and destructive mistakes that have already been made with land-based industrial farming. Currently, there are  550 marine and aquatic species farmed in nearly 200 countries. Aquaculture is detrimental to coastal environments in the following ways: Clearing critical habitat, such as mangroves, to make space for farms Polluting water with fertilizer, algaecide, disinfectant, antibiotics and herbicides Depleting oxygen and releasing nitrogen and phosphorus from decomposing fish feces In addition, octopus larvae only consume live fish and shellfish, requiring farmers to harvest significant amounts from other vulnerable fisheries. Related: Plastic pollution is causing reproductive problems for ocean wildlife Even if the industry was sustainable, however, the study’s authors argue that captivity is unethical for a creature with such a large brain, long memory and sophisticated nervous system. “We can see no reason why, in the 21st century, a sophisticated, complex animal should become the source of mass-produced food ,” study author, Professor Jennifer Jacquet of New York University, told the  Observer . “Octopus factory farming is ethically and ecologically unjustified.” Despite animal welfare and environmental concerns, octopus farms spark a separate set of ethical issues dealing with limiting development and economic growth. The unrestricted and untouchable scale of destructive industrial farming, for example, brings up concerns of who can prohibit other entrepreneurs from capitalizing on the same profitable disregard for animal life and environmental sustainability . Professor Jacquet of the study, however, believes that because the industry is just launching, there is a unique opportunity to limit its growth before it takes off. “Mass producing octopus would repeat many of the same mistakes we made on land in terms of high environmental and animal welfare impacts and be in some ways worse because we have to feed octopus other animals,” said Jacquet. Approximately 350,000 tons of octopus are harvested every year, however, octopus fisheries are in decline. Without aquaculture , octopus may become more rare, expensive and only available to high-paying customers. The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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Study calls budding octopus farm industry unethical and unsustainable

These are the best tips to help you establish an eco-friendly laundry routine

May 13, 2019 by  
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The earth is a fragile place, a bit more so with each day that humans contribute to chemicals in the waste stream and overconsumption of resources. While it may seem like a benign daily activity, doing laundry traditionally pours toxins such as microplastics into the water stream and drinks up valuable freshwater in the process. Since it is an activity we all do, and one we aren’t able to overlook (no one likes smelly clothes), there is a great opportunity to reduce the cumulative impact that laundry has on the environment . Here are some ways you can lower your laundry footprint by adopting sustainable practices. Laundry accumulation The best way to keep your laundry practices “clean” is to not wash clothes when it’s not necessary. Overwashing clothing wears down the fibers, which is bad both for your clothing and the environment, especially those materials that shed microplastics into the waste stream. Limit your laundry accumulation by re-wearing clothing. For example, jeans can handle several wearings before washing. Also, rehang and reuse bathroom towels a few times rather than washing them daily. Avoid washing items just because they have laid on the ground or are wrinkled. Related: Cora Ball emulates natural filtering of coral to remove toxic microfibers from your washing machine Prewash Instead of reaching for the chemical-laden prewash from the store, go old school with a more natural option. Laundry bars, like Dr. Bronners, remove stains without adding unnatural ingredients into the water supply. Simply keep it near the washing machine and rub it on stains to pretreat. Also avoid the prewash setting that requires more water and energy . If you have a tough stain try soaking it with a stain remover before washing. Dish soap may also do the job. Detergent options Commercial laundry detergents are loaded with nasty chemicals that run down the drain into the rivers and eventually make their way out to sea . While many might think these chemicals are completely removed with water treatments, the truth is not all are. However, fabrics will come clean without all the mainstream added toxins— so select your detergent with this in mind. For store-bought convenience, look for natural ingredients and read labels carefully. If you have the time to spare, try making your own laundry detergent. There are recipes all over the internet. Once you find your supplies, it is quick and easy to make and you can make enough to last months at a time. Fabric softener/dryer sheet options Clothes dryers rank high on the energy consumption scale, but they also add to waste with dryer sheets and chemicals from liquid fabric softeners. Clean up your act with homemade liquid detergent using a combination of 1/8 cup food-grade glycerin, two cups of water and two cups of white vinegar. Use about 1/4 cup per load. Also soften your fabrics and shorten drying time with wool dryer balls in each load. Alternately, you can make a liquid fabric softener that goes into the dryer instead of the washing machine. Just moisten a rag with the mixture and dry with your load of clothing. You can reuse the same rag endlessly without dryer sheet waste . Water usage As mentioned, the best way to reduce water usage is to avoid unnecessary washing. Also, skip the prewash and select the best cycle for the task at hand. For example, override the extra rinse for whites and choose a lower soil level for regular washings. If you’re in the market for a new washing machine, select one with an energy star rating for low water and electrical consumption. Cold water It requires energy to heat water around the house, so save it for the shower. Your clothes will do just fine when washed in cold water and your pocketbook will thank you too. Line dry Another winning way to lower the electric bill is to skip the dryer all together. Instead, set up a clothesline and hang items to dry when the weather allows. If you don’t like the rough feel of sun-dried clothes, toss them in the dryer for a few minutes then take the clothes out. Trap the microplastics In the environmental realm, microplastics are making headlines around the globe. It’s said that they are found in nearly all tested fish, which means we’re literally eating our clothes . Because microplastics are minute, they are not filtered out at the the water treatment plant and instead travel right through to the ocean. There are now products, like the Cora Ball, designed to throw in your washer as a filter to capture the microplastics in your laundry. Newer washing machines are expected to have microplastics filters built in so keep an eye out for those to hit the market. Related: Cora Ball emulates natural filtering of coral to remove toxic microfibers from your washing machine The dry cleaner Dry cleaning is a chemical process, and therefore a foe of the environment. Avoid dry cleaning as much as possible by washing at home and being conscious of the fabrics you buy at the store. Doing laundry has become such a part of our daily routines that we might not notice how often we are tossing our barely worn clothes in the washer. It’s never too late to begin an eco-friendly lifestyle and incorporate new approaches to our routines. Follow these helpful tips and significantly reduce your environmental impact. Images via Shutterstock

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These are the best tips to help you establish an eco-friendly laundry routine

10 shipping containers make up this modern, mixed-use structure in Shanghai

May 10, 2019 by  
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Yiduan Shanghai Interior Design has transformed 10 shipping containers into a striking mixed-use structure on Shanghai’s Chongming Island in China. Located on an open grass field, the building has been named “The Solid and Void” after the staggered arrangement of the shipping containers, which seamlessly connect to outdoor spaces framed by angular timber elements. To further tie the building to the outdoors, the architects used a predominately natural materials palette and white-painted walls to blend the structure into the landscape. Challenged by the site’s remote location and constrained by the narrow interiors of the shipping containers , Yiduan Shanghai Interior Design decided to think outside the box — literally. The designers expanded the project’s usable floor area to 19,375 square feet by adding “void boxes”: outdoor platforms framed by timber elements that extend the interiors of the containers to the outdoors. “The added boxes, framed by grilles, increased usable area, met the functional demands and formed a contrast of solidness and void with the containers ,” the designers explained. “Natural light can be filtered through grilles, generating a poetic view of light and shadows. The containers, and the new boxes generated from them, together produce staggered and overlapping architectural form, making the building look modern and futuristic.” Related: Ennead designs a striking nature preserve to protect China’s most important river The three-story building consists of a reception and display area on the first floor, a cafe and restaurant on the second floor and office space with meeting rooms on the third floor. Large windows pull the outdoors in; the thoughtfully designed indoor circulation guides users to different views of the landscape as they move through the building. The modern and minimalist appearance of the building helps keep the focus on the natural surroundings. Elements of nature also punctuate the building, from artfully placed rocks that line the walkways to the winding stream that runs through the middle of the building. + Yiduan Shanghai Interior Design Photography by Zhu Enlong via Yiduan Shanghai Interior Design

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10 shipping containers make up this modern, mixed-use structure in Shanghai

California bans pesticide linked to brain damage in children

May 10, 2019 by  
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In a move that is both a victory for environmental justice and a snub to the current president, the California Senate officially banned a pesticide that has been proven to cause brain damage in children. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had previously attempted to ban the toxic chemical, chlorpyrifos, nationwide, however, the Trump administration rejected the overwhelming scientific evidence of its health impact on pregnant women and children living near major farms. This week, California representatives voted to overrule the president in their own state. Public health activists believe the Trump administration is protecting the business interests of Dow Dupont, a chlorpyrifos manufacturer that previously donated to the president’s campaign. Related: EPA backs the use of toxic herbicide chemical glyphosate According to studies, the pesticide has been linked to impaired brain and neurological development among children. It has also been linked to increased risk of autism, memory problems and lower IQs among the children of women who were exposed to the chemical while pregnant. “Countless people have suffered as a result of this chemical,” the California EPA secretary, Jared Blumenfeld, said in an interview on Wednesday. “A lot of people live and work and go to school right next to fields that are being sprayed with chlorpyrifos … It’s an issue of environmental health and justice.” Low income and immigrant communities of California’s central valley are largely impacted due to their proximity to major industrial farms where the chemical is sprayed. Chlorpyrifos pesticides are often used on almonds, citrus, cotton, grapes and walnuts among other products. Research shows that the chemical is linked to these health concerns at even lower doses than originally thought. According to Dow Dupont’s spokesman, the manufacturing company is planning to challenge the ban, saying it unfairly hurts farmers who need a way to effectively control pests. The ban will “remove an important tool for farmers and undermines the highly effective system for regulating pesticides,” the spokesman said in a statement. However, California’s governor has proposed a $5.7 million plan to help farmers transition to more sustainable pest control options. “The science is definitive,” said Blumenfeld . “This job really should have been done by the U.S. EPA .” Via The Guardian Image via  skeeze

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California bans pesticide linked to brain damage in children

New York Botanical Garden’s new artist residencies connect people with plants

May 10, 2019 by  
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Despite its irrefutable success — founded in 1891 and now receiving one million visitors a year — the New York Botanical Garden’s staff tirelessly finds innovative ways to stimulate visitors’ connection to nature. This year, it launched a new artist residency program, inviting internationally acclaimed visual artist Michele Oka Doner and sought-after composer Angélica Negrón to be the first participants. “People come to nature in different ways,” Barbara Corcoran, NYBG’s vice president for continuing and public education, told Inhabitat. “Some people come to the garden and they’re very observant, they really see the plants, they read the labels, and they have quite a good knowledge. They’re gardeners themselves or they’re naturalists.” Others might need extra help connecting. “ Music and art are two ways to do that,” she said. Carrie Rebora Barratt, who became CEO and president of the garden in 2018, came up with the residency idea. Her training as an art historian and museum administrator and her previous position at the Metropolitan Museum of Art had shown her the value of artist residencies. Michele Oka Doner Love of nature fuels Michele Oka Doner’s five decades of artwork. This is apparent as soon as you walk into her SoHo studio. “It’s like a treasure trove of nature,” Corcoran said. “She’s a collector of natural objects and archaeological finds like fossils and little bird skulls, like dozens of them, and old stone tools and shells and nature books. So this is like a laboratory. When you go there, you really get to see what she’s all about.” Doner’s past works include “A Walk on the Beach,” composed of 9,000 bronze starfish, sand dollars, coral and other sea-inspired sculptures embedded in the concourse at Miami International Airport. Her installation at the Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory in Munich includes 400 shamanistic sculptures . She’s still developing her ideas for the site-specific work she’ll create at the New York Botanical Garden . Related: Second Nature transforms abandoned fishing nets into 3D-printed seashells and bowls On June 12, Doner will give a free talk at the garden called “Ecstatic Nutrition: The Trees of My Life” about three trees that greatly influenced her. “It kicks off our Wellness Wednesdays, which we have through the summer,” Corcoran said.  “Michele is a close observer of nature and a fine storyteller. She has this kind of enchantment with the natural world and its sacredness, and it really comes across. I think it will be very inspiring to hear her talk.” Angélica Negrón Composer and multi-instrumentalist Angélica Negrón is a classically trained violinist who is well-known for her electronic music. Much of her work includes nontraditional instruments, such as toys, music boxes and electrodes hooked up to vegetables. A YouTube video shows Negrón in a market, lining up vegetables on a shelf to gauge their aesthetic as well as musical potential.  “I try to find vegetables or fruits that match the textures of the songs. I do love cauliflower, Romanesco broccoli, vegetables that have kind of design element. I call it a vegetable synth,” she said in the video. “I try to coordinate it so it all looks like part of the same instrument.” Corcoran said that both artists are interested in science and technology. Negrón has met with a New York Botanical Garden scientist and horticulturalist to learn more about tree communication. “ Trees communicate largely through their roots,” Corcoran said. “That’s all very fascinating to her.” Negrón has already performed twice at the garden, delighting the public with her vegetable synth. “She assigns each vegetable with a different note,” Corcoran explained. “And then when she touches them, the water in those fruits and plants and vegetables conduct the electricity that creates the notes. By tapping different vegetables, she creates a musical piece.” She also adds in acoustic and electronic instruments and found sounds for a result Corcoran describes as “soothing and mesmerizing.” Negrón’s residency will culminate in November with a world-premiere performance in the Thain Family Forest. “We’ll have several choruses here,” Corcoran said. “So it’s a mix of live choral music with sounds that are coming from the trees. I think that’s going to be a real artistic happening that you wouldn’t want to miss if you’re in New York in the fall. Plus, it’s in the old growth forest at a beautiful time of year.” Visiting the garden The New York Botanical Garden is open Tuesday through Sunday year-round, plus occasional holiday Mondays. In addition to leisurely strolling and soaking up the beauty, there’s always something going on. Activities range from the extremely practical — learning to repot orchids — to something as celebratory as the Brazil-themed World Pride Night in June. The botanical garden is a vital center for plant research. Its herbarium contains 7.8 million specimens, and it employs about 200 PhD-level scientists and support staff who travel the world to collect plants and bring them back for study. But most of all, it’s a place where busy urbanites can spend time in nature . “It’s a real oasis for people,” Corcoran said. “And I think now more than ever, people need that.” + New York Botanical Garden Images via NYBG and Ben Hider / NYBG

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Minimalist home in northern Spain uses geothermal energy to reduce energy consumption

May 10, 2019 by  
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There are few things we love more than a gorgeous minimalist design that boasts energy-efficiency features, and Barcelona-based firm, Pepe Gascón Arquitectura,  has managed to combine the two beautifully. Located just east of Barcelona, the Elvira&Marcos House is a minimalist, all-white rectangular volume with slender windows, surrounded by a natural landscape of overgrown grass and wildflowers. The home’s minimalist design conceals an extremely tight insulative shell and geothermal energy system to reduce the home’s energy consumption. The 2,475 square foot home was built on a lot that was slated for development years ago, before Spain’s economy was hit by the economic crisis. Today, the Elvira & Marcos home is the only residence in the area, adding a touch of mysterious solitude to the gorgeous home design. Related: Geothermal-powered Forest House showcases sustainable features in Maryland The all-white, rectangular-shaped home is surrounded by a plot made up of overgrown greenery that partially hides the home from view. According to the architects, leaving the landscape in its wild state was a strategic move to create “a house with a clear geometry but without resorting to unnecessary gestures, offering a forceful interpretation with a certain neutrality in the midst of the surrounding heterogeneity.” The exterior of the home is made out of flexible stucco finish that comes with an integral Exterior Thermal Insulation System (SATE), creating a tight insulative shell for the structure. In addition to the exterior insulation, the SATE system was also used in the roof to avoid energy-wasting thermal bridges. The end result is an extremely tight envelope, that, together with a geothermal energy system installed, drastically reduces the home’s energy consumption. The interior of the three-story home is connected by an large interior steel staircase that holds court in the middle of the kitchen. The home’s minimalist aesthetic continues throughout the home’s open layout with all-white walls and a continuous concrete floor. Natural light shines into the living area from the slender slat windows— which is made even more open and airy thanks to its double height ceilings. + Pepe Gascón Arquitectura Via Design Milk Photography by Aitor Estévez via Pepe Gascón Arquitectura  

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Minimalist home in northern Spain uses geothermal energy to reduce energy consumption

Stop the Summer Reading Slide With Eco-Themed Kids’ Books

May 10, 2019 by  
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Summer is a time for playing outside and enjoying the … The post Stop the Summer Reading Slide With Eco-Themed Kids’ Books appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Stop the Summer Reading Slide With Eco-Themed Kids’ Books

Earth911 Inspiration: There’s No Free Lunch in Nature

May 10, 2019 by  
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Earth911 inspirations. Print them, post them, share your desire to … The post Earth911 Inspiration: There’s No Free Lunch in Nature appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Inspiration: There’s No Free Lunch in Nature

Earth’s Call Celebration: May 18 Live Webcast

May 10, 2019 by  
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Mark your calendar for the live webcast of the Earth’s … The post Earth’s Call Celebration: May 18 Live Webcast appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth’s Call Celebration: May 18 Live Webcast

Podcast: Earth911’s Mitch Ratcliffe Talks Privacy and Sustainability

May 10, 2019 by  
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idka.com, a Swedish privacy-based social network, asked Earth911’s Mitch Ratcliffe … The post Podcast: Earth911’s Mitch Ratcliffe Talks Privacy and Sustainability appeared first on Earth911.com.

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