Drones are planting an entire forest from the sky

August 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

When we think of drones , most of us picture the selfie-taking, novelty video-making robots buzzing around tourist spots. But for one group of villagers in Myanmar, drones are providing a much more important service: an Irish startup is using them to help residents replant an entire forest from the sky. Restoring a damaged ecosystem is time-consuming and difficult work that can take years to complete. Villagers in the Irrawaddy River delta have been hand-planting 2.7 million mangrove trees in order to restore the local forests, but they started looking for an easier way to get the job done. They found the solution with BioCarbon Engineering , which uses drones to plant as many as 100,000 trees in a single day. Related: Can drones plant one billion trees? In order to plant that many trees, the drones take a systematic approach, flying over the land to map the topography and choose the best location for planting. A second wave of drones then fly over the area and “fire”  seed pods into the ground in accordance with calculations made by previous drones. The drone-planting project will start this September, covering about 250 hectares with 1 million new trees, in addition to the 750 hectares that the villagers have already planted. If all goes according to plan, eventually BioCarbon Engineering will help plant up to 1 billion trees in the area. The startup is working along with Worldview International Foundation , a nonprofit that manages tree-planting projects. In Myanmar, mangrove trees are particularly important because they help provide an ecosystem for fish to live in, and they protect coastlines from storms. Restoring the trees will go a long way toward protecting vulnerable people living in the coastal areas. Via Fast Company

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Drones are planting an entire forest from the sky

Inspiring urban farm teaches kids how to grow their own organic food

August 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

A tree may grow in Brooklyn, but an amazing urban farm flourishes on Governors Island . An inspiring GrowNYC initiative is teaching inner city kids how to plant, water, harvest, and cook pesticide-free fruits, herbs, and vegetables. Located on Governors Island just a quick ferry ride from lower Manhattan, the Teaching Garden is a 21,000-square-foot urban farm that offers free educational field trips to NYC students—many of whom have never seen how food is grown. Now in its fourth season, the half-acre Governors Island Teaching Garden comprises raised planters, a fruit orchard, an outdoor kitchen with a large solar oven , high-tunnel greenhouse, and even an aquaponics system housed inside a converted shipping container . The Teaching Garden currently has 69 individual planting beds built from recycled plastic lumber with over 40 plant varieties during the summer season. Although the urban farm isn’t certified organic, all the fruits, herbs, and vegetables are grown with all-natural and pesticide-free practices. Earth Matter NY supplies the compost. “There are students here every day of the week so we want to encourage students to be able to eat straight from the plant so we don’t want to put anything harmful in the plants,” said GrowNYC to Inhabitat during a farm tour. “But we do have natural pest management such as introducing ladybugs to eat the unwanted insects.” Related: Project Farmhouse community space with wall of edible plants coming to Union Square The majority of students who visit are from immigrant families, such as the group of fourth graders from PS 503 present on the day we visited. The educational journey begins with an introduction about the fruits and vegetables the participants harvest as well as a lesson on their nutritional value. The group is then led to the different planting beds and orchard to pick ingredients, followed by a trip to the outdoor kitchen for a lesson on cooking what they harvested for a true farm-to-fork experience. The students also plant seeds for future harvests and learn about sustainable initiatives ranging from renewable energy to recycling and composting. “We feel that young people in the city don’t have the same opportunities to experience the natural world,” said GrowNYC. “So we want to provide that for them and hope that when they leave they feel a connection and feel more comfortable with eating healthy fruits and vegetables, or even in cooking. Almost all the food we grow here the students eat. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t have to bring more food onto the island so we made an expansion to grow more food to reach self-sufficiency . Now we only bring on olive oil and spices. Expansion also lets us to bring more students out here and slightly larger classes. It also shows students what a small scale farm would look like.” In addition to expansion, the Teaching Garden is in the process of building a solar-powered aquaponics system designed by Harbor School students and housed inside a shipping container. The nitrate-rich water taken from the tilapia holding tanks will be pumped up to the roof where it’ll be used to irrigate vegetables. Other sustainably minded projects are being built with the help of corporate volunteers. CSR programs help subsidize most of the costs of the Teaching Garden to keep the educational program free for students. In addition to school visits, the urban farm is open to the public on weekends during Governors Island’s open season that runs until mid-autumn. + Governors Island Teaching Garden Images © Lucy Wang

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Inspiring urban farm teaches kids how to grow their own organic food

Why travel giant Expedia paid a premium for these carbon offsets

August 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

At least 60 percent of the revenue related to COTAP offsets goes directly to addressing economic inequity.

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Why travel giant Expedia paid a premium for these carbon offsets

Floating Cloud lamp adds levitating magic to any room

August 14, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

Take your home to new atmospheric levels with this incredible floating cloud lamp. Designed by Richard Clarkson Studio and Crealev , Floating Cloud is a magnetically levitating ambient lamp that adds a magical touch to any room it hovers in. The designers just announced a limited production run of these unique and fluffy lamps—read on for more details and to see the cloud come alive. Floating Cloud is the latest iteration of an ongoing collaboration between Richard Clarkson Studio’s cloud-themed designs and Crealev’s innovative levitation technology. Made from PETG and hypoallergenic polyester fiber, the fluffy cloud-like mass floats approximately 2.75 inches off its base using magnetic levitation. The Cloud is entirely wireless and the base is powered with a rechargeable lithium ion battery. The cloud spins and bobs side-to-side for a “more realistic atmospheric experience,” while hidden sound-reactive RGB LEDs create the powerful illusion of a storm cloud with lightning. To reduce weight and size, the Floating Cloud does not include a speaker, however it will react to existing sound systems and voices. The Cloud flashes to the beat of the music in four different styles using an embedded microphone. An infrared remote controls a range of ambient lamp modes from white to colored versions. Related: This water-filled lamp makes it rain in your home “The Cloud is held in place using both rare earth magnets, electromagnets, and a location sensor,” write Richard Clarkson Studio. “There is a discrete infrared locating beam in the center of the Cloud, which, if obstructed by an object (such as a hand) will result in the Cloud “falling off” it’s levitating balance point. In such an event the Cloud has a soft felt bottom to cushion the fall. To return the Cloud to its floating position, use your fingers to pry the Cloud off the base and with two hands hold the Cloud roughly in position, slowly move the Cloud from side to side until you feel it ‘lock’ in place.” The studio has released a limited 100-unit production run of the Floating Cloud, available on their website for $4,620 USD . + Richard Clarkson Studio

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Floating Cloud lamp adds levitating magic to any room

Beverage Container Showdown: Plastic vs. Glass vs. Aluminum

August 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

With summer winding down, it’s hard not to spend every waking (and maybe non-waking) minute outside. That means a whole lot of hikes, cookouts and outdoor fun. You’ve got a handle on green camping hacks and eco-friendly picnic…

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Beverage Container Showdown: Plastic vs. Glass vs. Aluminum

Scientists finally know what is causing the underwater ‘fairy circles’ and it’s not good

August 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Have you — like many — been dumbfounded by the mysterious underwater “fairy circles” found in the Mediterranean and Baltic sea? If so, you’re not alone. Fortunately, scientists finally know what is causing the sea floor phenomena, though it’s not likely to cheer you up. It turns out the “bald patches” devoid of vegetation are actually caused by a foreign species which may put entire ecosystems at risk. In the paper “Fairy Circle Landscapes Under The Sea,” published by Science Advances , lead researcher Daniel Ruiz-Reynés wrote that the invading species are being driven into the areas by polluted waters and climate change : “The spatial organisation of vegetation landscapes is a key factor in the assessment of ecosystem health and functioning,” he wrote, adding, “Spatial configurations of vegetation landscapes act as potential indicators of climatic or human forcing affecting the ecosystem.” The scientific name for the seagrass is Posidonia oceanica, and its dwindling presence signals that the region it is located in is threatened. If large populations of the seagrass disappear, the planet’s larger ecosystem will be affected, the researchers concluded. Unfortunately, it appears the circles, which have been found around the Danish coast as well as the Balearic islands, are more prevalent than scientists realized. This is because they are located below water . “Satellite images and side-scan cartography reveals that complex seascapes are abundant in meadows of Posidonia oceanica, suggesting that self-organised submarine vegetation patterns may be prevalent but have remained thus far largely hidden under the sea,” wrote Ruiz-Reynés. Furthermore, because the seagrass has a very low growth rate, losses are “essentially irreversible.” Related: Strange “Fairy Circles” Appear in the Middle of Africa’s Namib Desert Using findings from previous studies and by creating a mathematical model based on seagrass growth rates and long-distance interaction between underwater plants, the team was able to determine the cause of the fairy circles . Long story short, the competition for resources changes the dynamics of seagrass growth and is largely propelled by both climate change and pollution . This discovery is both intriguing and frightening, considering enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the globe four times — and of that amount, 80 percent makes its way into the oceans . If humans collectively fail to curb carbon emissions and only haphazardly invest in sustainable initiatives, the effects of climate change will result in much of the planet becoming uninhabitable, as well as various species going extinct . + Science Advances Via The Daily Mail Images via University of Southern Denmark , Pixabay

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Scientists finally know what is causing the underwater ‘fairy circles’ and it’s not good

Worlds largest bike parking garage opens in the Netherlands

August 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Good news for cyclists in the Netherlands — which, to be honest, is pretty much everyone. The country just unveiled the world’s largest bike parking garage ! By the end of 2018 the 184,000-square-foot facility beneath Utrecht’s central train station will be able to hold 12,500 parked bikes. For years, bicycle enthusiasts have been urging the government to update its parking infrastructure . Martijn van Es, the spokesman for the Dutch cycling organization Fietsersbond, says the country could do much more to accommodate the growing volume of cyclists . He said, “They have been talking about updating the city since 1989. The infrastructure hasn’t changed enough. And there are a lot more cyclists today than there were, [and much of the infrastructure] was built in the 1980s.” Van Es has a point. Bicycles outnumber people in the Netherlands , and the average citizen cycles more than 600 miles a year. Additionally, over one-fourth of the population bikes to work. It’s because of this that parking garages such as the one in development are in high demand. Related: The Netherlands is converting prisons into homes for refugees The Guardian reports that the Utrecht train station is an ideal location for the parking garage, as 40 percent of commuters who arrive there do so by riding a bike. And, according to Tatjana Stenfert, the project manager at Utrecht station’s square, even more bike parking will be added to the area in the future. She said, “We will have 12,500 places by the end of 2018. But then we will have to do some research and find more places for the bikes . It never stops. I look around and everyone is trying hard to find spaces – trying hard and fast.” + CU2030 Via The Guardian , Curbed Images via CU2030

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Worlds largest bike parking garage opens in the Netherlands

The UK will require electric car chargers at all major gas stations

August 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Electric cars are expected to reach cost parity with gas-powered vehicles as soon as 2018 – and governments around the world are introducing new legislation and incentives to keep up with increasing demand. The UK just announced a new law that requires all major petrol (gas) stations and motorway services to install electric car chargers. The Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill, which was revealed during the Queen’s parliamentary speech, commits the government to improving the country’s electric charging infrastructure. It also requires that charging points be easy to access, work seamlessly across the UK and fall in line with the same set of technical and operational standards. As Auto Express reports, the UK’s public charging infrastructure is having a tough time keeping pace with EV uptake. In fact, a recent investigation reveals that electric and plug-in car ownership increased from 2,254 vehicles in 2012 to 85,983 at the end of 2016. At the same time, the number of charging points in the UK only grew to 11,736 in 4,243 locations (from 2,883 in 1,287 locations) during the same period. Previously, the European Parliament said there has to be at least one charger for every 10 electric cars on the road for EVs to become commercially viable. However, data obtained by charge point database Zap-Map shows that the ratio of EVs to chargers has grown from 0.78 to 7.32 in four years. Requiring all major petrol stations to install EV charging points is sure to further improve the car-per-charger-ratio. Related: GM is selling an electric car in China that costs just $5,300 Of course, it’s important to remember that it’s not just up to the government to install charging infrastructure. Says Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, “Ultimately, public investment in charging infrastructure will need to be matched by the private sector.” Via Auto Express Images via Pixabay

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The UK will require electric car chargers at all major gas stations

Cameroon student nonprofit recycles plastic bottles into boats

August 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green, Recycle

Humanity has a plastic bottle addiction, purchasing one million a minute , and many bottles wind up not in recycling bins but in our oceans. Cameroon -based nonprofit Madiba & Nature is pioneering a creative use for all those polluting bottles: boats . They’re fabricating floating canoe-shaped crafts out of collected empties in an effort to prompt people to think differently about how they consume and dispose of plastic bottles. A group of students is transforming plastic trash into boats. They aim to promote a circular economy in Africa ; according to their website: “…we want to help change people’s attitudes and bad habits on the management of plastic waste that degrades sensitive ecosystems.” One Green Planet reports Cameroonian Essome Ismael invented the boats. Related: The world’s population buys one million plastic bottles every single minute Madiba & Nature volunteers have gathered to pick up thousands of plastic bottles near Cameroon’s largest city, Douala, to use those bottles for what they call ecological canoes. The boats could help not just the environment , but the local community as well. In a video, Ismael said there’s a great need for fishing boats in his area, and the plastic bottle boats could meet that need. Local fisherman Emmanuel Japa said at first they thought the plastic bottle boats were a joke, but it turns out the crafts are actually strong and seaworthy. Ismael also said plastic bottles clogging their waterways have led to flooding in the local area. The boats are just the beginning. Madiba & Nature’s website says in around a year of work, they’ve started a program for students and engineers to learn more about green business , and have developed an environmental awareness and education program. They’ve also helped develop a local waste management system and have supported other groups laboring to protect the environment. Their website also says they aim to research how to use recycled plastic in building or paving systems. + Madiba & Nature Via One Green Planet Images via Madiba & Nature Facebook

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Cameroon student nonprofit recycles plastic bottles into boats

Inexpensive new battery generates power with just a drop of saliva

August 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

In addition to aiding digestion, it turns out saliva can also power batteries. Researchers at Binghamton University discovered this while inventing a small, paper-based battery that generates energy when mixed with a drop of saliva. The batteries, which are more like tiny microbial fuel cells, are inexpensive to make and could be used in natural disasters and remote settings where on-demand power is hard (if not impossible) to come by. As a result, access to medical care and screenings in rural settings could improve. Binghamton University Electrical and Computer Science Assistant Professor Seokheun Choi spent the past five years developing the micro-power sources. His ultimate goal was to find a way to power medical diagnostic tests in poverty-stricken regions; finally, he succeeded at developing paper-based bacteria -powered batteries “On-demand micro-power generation is required especially for point-of-care diagnostic applications in developing countries,” said Choi. “Typically, those applications require only several tens of microwatt-level power for several minutes, but commercial batteries or other energy harvesting technologies are too expensive and over-qualified. Also, they pose environmental pollution issues.” Related: Indian startup pioneers new battery swapping system for electric buses The batteries contain freeze-dried exoelectrogenic cells which generate power when saliva is added. Astonishingly, with just one drop of spit, the paper batteries can produce enough power for low-power biological sensors in just a matter of minutes. Eureka Alert reports that a benefit of freeze drying the cells is that they can be stored for a long time before use. This means they can be stocked in medical clinics around the world. An additional perk is that the required biological fluid (saliva) can be easily obtained anywhere, anytime. At present, the battery can only produce a few microwatts of power per square centimeter. However, Choi and his research assistant, Maedeh Mohammadifar, are working on boosting the output. In the future, the team hopes to make the paper batteries more robust so they can sustain devices other than LED lights when connected in a series. The paper, “A Papertronic, On-Demand and Disposable Biobattery: Saliva-Activated Electricity Generation from Lyophilized Exoelectrogens Preinoculated on Paper,” was published in Advanced Materials Technologies. + Binghamton University Via Eureka Alert Images via  Binghamton University , Pixabay

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Inexpensive new battery generates power with just a drop of saliva

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