Attenborough Effect inspires people to drastically reduce single-use plastics

April 18, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

There are plenty of films that have documented the harmful effects of single-use plastics , but one documentary in particular has resulted in lasting change. A new study found that Blue Planet II, narrated by David Attenborough, has inspired people in the U.K. and the U.S. to use 53 percent fewer single-use plastics over the last year. Inspired by what is being dubbed the Attenborough Effect , people are investing in reusable bags for groceries and other packaging like never before. The study, which interviewed more than 3,800 people in the U.K. and U.S., discovered that the majority of participants have cut down on single-use plastics — definitely a move in the right direction. Related: Simple tips to reduce single-use plastic According to TreeHugger , the individuals who reduced their dependency on these inefficient plastics were inspired by a desire to improve the environment for future generations and a need to curb individual waste. While many of the people in the study have cut down on plastic use , there was an important discrepancy in age groups. Older individuals, between 55 and 64 years of age, put more value in things that are affordable. Younger people, between 16 and 24, put greater stock in sustainability . For the researchers, this trend was not surprising, given that younger generations have been raised in a more eco-friendly culture. “What is important to note is that the younger generations grew up during the height of the sustainability crisis with high-profile, environmentalist documentaries widely available on the content platforms they prefer over conventional TV,” Chase Buckle, who led the study for the Global Web Index, shared. Considering that the entire world is dealing with single-use plastic waste , it is great that younger people have an appreciation for sustainable practices. If trends like this continue, there may come a day when single-use plastics are a thing of the past, especially as these younger individuals grow up and become active in politics. Exactly how much this will impact the world of single-use plastics is yet to be seen, but it is definitely encouraging knowing that more and more people are actively making choices that benefit the environment over their own wallets. Via TreeHugger Image via Shutterstock

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7 Ways to live an eco-friendly life while staying healthy

April 16, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Being committed to sustainable living is all about balance. While staying healthy is a top priority, you also need to think about living as eco-friendly as possible. Balancing these two commitments can be challenging, but there are plenty of ways you can live an eco-friendly life while keeping yourself in top shape and all it will cost you is a little time and energy. From enjoying the benefits of fresh air to changing the way you eat, here are a few ways you can bring balance to your life and the environment. Take advantage of quality air This might seem a pretty obvious way to respect the environment while staying healthy, but how often do you enjoy the benefits of fresh air? If you live in an area with low air pollution, then you can pick any time of day to go on a walk around your neighborhood. If your city’s air quality is poor, you can still enjoy clean air by going on walks in the early morning hours. Related: Keep your pantry stocked with these staples for a plant-based diet Indoor air quality is also a concern. You can improve the quality of your indoor air by avoiding harsh cleaning chemicals. When painting rooms, you should stay away from paints that have ammonia and other dangerous chemicals. Not only does improving the quality of air help the environment, but it can also keep you healthy. Use alternative ways to get to work Pollution from automobiles is a growing concern for many communities. If you have the means, purchasing a vehicle that does not emit harmful toxins into the air is one way to fight the problem. But for most of us, using alternative ways to get to work can greatly reduce the amount of air pollution that gets pumps into our cities. There are plenty of ways to make your commute better for the environment and your health. If you live close to your work, start walking to your place of employment, even if it is only a few times a week. If your work is outside of walking distance, consider riding a bike. Walking or cycling to work is a great way to help the environment, plus you can always count it towards your daily workout. If riding or walking is not an option, you might try ride sharing. Carpooling to work can greatly reduce air pollution caused by automobiles and can save you gas money to boot. Switch up your diet The types of food we consume have lasting effects on the environment, both good and bad, not to mention the impact they have on your overall health. As a rule of thumb, try eating things that are fresh and locally sourced. Fresh foods generally contain less preservatives and harmful ingredients, while supporting local farmers is great for the environment and your local community. When it comes to foods that you should avoid, canned items are at the top of the list. This includes most bottled beverages. These drinks are less healthy than water and contribute to the worldwide problem of plastic waste. If you consistently drink water, consider investing in a quality water filter instead of relying on bottled water. Add some sunshine to your workouts Going outside for your workout is a great way to stay healthy and be good to the environment . Exercising outdoors helps the environment because you are not using indoor equipment that requires electricity to run. It can also be easier to workout in an outdoor setting as you are not stuck on a treadmill or bike the entire time. There are also practical benefits to working out in the sun. The sun is an excellent source of vitamin D, which a lot of people lack. If you do choose to exercise in the sun’s rays, you should do it between sunrise and 10 in the morning. After that, you run the risk of being exposed to high levels of UV rays , which are not good for your skin. Spend time gardening Gardening is a great way to add more fresh air, exercise and sunlight into your daily routine. Better yet, it is also good for the environment. Gardening is ideal if you have some space in your backyard, but you can still plant a garden if you live in an apartment. Just make sure you do plenty of research before you plant anything, as certain types of plants will only grow in specific climates. If starting a garden at your house is not an option, another alternative is to join a community garden (or start one yourself). Community gardens are a great way to meet new people and share gardening ideas. The biggest benefit, of course, is that you get your own little plot to grow whatever you like, further contributing to sustainable living in your community. Via  Blue and Green Tomorrow ,  Life Hack Images via Burst , skeeze , silviarita , tookapic , raawpixel

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Vincent Callebaut wins bid to sustainably revive Aix-les-Bains ancient thermal baths

April 15, 2019 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

The defunct National Baths of Aix-les-Bains will receive a vibrant and sustainably minded revival in the hands of the Paris-based practice Vincent Callebaut Architectures . Selected as the winner of a competition following the popular vote, the firm’s proposal — dubbed “The Foam of Waves” — will not only restore the ancient thermal baths, but also introduce a sustainable, energy-producing paradigm that follows the carbon-neutral guidelines as recommended by COP 21. The project will adopt a mixed-use program that incorporates residential, commercial, tourist, educational and urban agriculture spaces. The Foam of Waves focuses on the renovation of the Pellegrini, Revel and Princes buildings while staying respectful of the existing Roman remains. To inject new energy into the space, the architects have created a mixed-use program designed to attract locals, tourists and business investment. The scope includes a tourist office, a Center of Interpretation of Architecture and Heritage, a wellness center, a teaching space for the Peyrefitte School, a wellness-focused shopping center with restaurants, coworking spaces, 185 “green apartments” and parking. An urban educational farm integrating permaculture and aquaponics will be located on the green roof . “The whole architectural project is the carrier of the new paradigms of our society,” the architects said. “It offers future residents and visitors the opportunity to adopt new lifestyles that respect the environment, health and urban well-being in order to simply live better. It is a resilient architecture, innervated by nature. It is an ode to biodiversity, renewable energies and the circular economy that advocates the construction of post-carbon, post-fossil, post-nuclear and even post-insecticidal cities.” Related: Historic Luxembourg building is metamorphosed into an eco-friendly powerhouse In addition to an expansive green roof, the buildings will feature updated wave-like facades with balconies large enough to accommodate trees and private garden spaces for residents. The building envelopes will be also be optimized for airtightness, insulation and passive solar conditions . The project aims to produce more energy than it consumes and will include a solar photovoltaic and thermal roof, a mini-biomass plant on-site and a co-generation system with rapeseed oil. Rainwater harvesting systems and gray water recycling will also be implemented. + Vincent Callebaut Architectures Images via Vincent Callebaut Architectures

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Vincent Callebaut wins bid to sustainably revive Aix-les-Bains ancient thermal baths

Cut plastic from your home and inspire your family to live plastic-free

April 11, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Reducing plastic usage is a challenging task in today’s everything-plastic society. We all understand the importance of reducing petroleum-based emissions and the post-use waste that never really goes away, but implementing practices in your home can seem overwhelming. It’s even worse when only one member of the family is working towards the goal. The good news is that kids are very open to making a bit of extra effort if they understand that it is good for the environment and the animals in it, including us. The key is to make lessons applicable to their daily life and make goals incremental and therefore, attainable. Here’s a list of ways you can get the entire family involved in reducing your plastic consumption without tears or arguments. Grocery shop together One of the best ways to reduce plastic in your home is to keep it from coming into the home in the first place. The grocery store can be a full-blown battle when it comes to buying products packaged in plastic. From the wrap on produce to the containers your favorite sour cream comes in, you will need all the ideas from your family members to get the job done. Related: Zero-waste kit ensures reusable essentials are always nearby Heading to the store together gives you a chance to challenge and educate each other. Instead of reaching for the apples in the plastic bag , get the ones piled in a paper bag, use a compostable bag, or bring your own produce bag to the store. If you have a few bathrooms, buy shampoo in bulk and divide it up instead of buying separate plastic shampoo bottles. Let the kids choose their own stainless steel or glass shampoo containers they want for bathtime. These are just a few example of the thousands of plastic products at the grocery store you can avoid with a concerted effort. Carefully select gifts It feels good to give gifts to friends and family members, but it doesn’t feel good to contribute to plastic waste , so this is another opportunity to skirt the plastic options. Let your kids help make layered gifts in a jar with ingredients for soup or cookies, with no waste. Choose wooden toys over plastic, buy books and give the gift of experiences. Also pay attention to the types of wrapping you use, staying away from plastic bags and products packaged with plastic. Use homework to your advantage When your child comes to you to brainstorm ideas for a school project, think plastic elimination. For example, if the topic is controversial political differences, have them write about the ban on plastic bags. This gives them the opportunity to better educate themselves, and others, on the topic. Have a good old-fashioned challenge Every family becomes motivated by a sibling-to-sibling or parent versus child challenges. Eliminating plastic from the home is no exception so come up with a great reward (plastic free of course) and set up the boundaries of the challenge. Give every person or team a recycling bin. You could mandate that everyone drop all plastic waste into the tote and the team at the end of the week or month with the least amount of plastic waste wins. Alternately, drop items in when you find a way to replace it with a plastic free option, such as making your own yogurt, which eliminates the need for yogurt containers from the store. The person or team with the most plastic wins! Ban single-use plastic Refusing to buy and use single-use plastic is a personal choice, but as a family you can choose to ban those products from your home. Eliminate single-use straws, plastic water bottles , multi-purpose cleaner spray bottles and a thousand other things. Replace them by making your own products (laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, fabric softener or even bubble bath), using reusable straws and water bottles and bringing your own containers to the bulk section for refills. Get creative When the conversation gets started, you might be surprised at what ideas your crew comes up with. Make it easy to record those ideas by making an idea jar. This can be as simple as a large mason jar with a ribbon around the top or a label on the front. Set aside a specific time to read the suggestions and vow to incorporate one idea each week, or whatever works for your family. Remember the goal is progress, not perfection. Plan a trip When you announce your next family day trip or longer vacation, brainstorm ways to make it plastic free. Obviously you’ll skip the store-bought water bottles in favor of refillable ones, but what about other items you’ll need? For example, source a metal bucket and shovel for a trip to the beach instead of taking plastic varieties. Tour a recycling plant While you’re unlikely to be 100 percent successful at eliminating plastic from your home, recycling is an option for many items that at least keeps it out of the landfill . Figuring out what can be recycled can be very confusing. Every facility is different in the types of plastic they accept. So, get together as a family and take a tour of a recycling plant or attend a local lecture to better understand the process. Having that kind of visual education will resonate as you make purchasing decisions. Plastic-free lunch challenge Lunch time can be a wasteful venture with disposable silverware, sandwich bags, and drink containers. Instead, skip the Gatorade and flavor water in your reusable bottle with powdered crystals instead. Ditch the sandwich bags in favor of glass or stainless steel containers. Bring real silverware or track down a bamboo set that travels with you. Volunteer in community clean up events Being involved in community events is always a great family activity and when the event targets beach or city clean-ups the rewards go well past the single day. Understanding the damage that plastic brings to sea life or the local park gives the entire family motivation to cut it out. Images via Shutterstock

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LEED Platinum fire station is powered with solar energy in Seattle

April 11, 2019 by  
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The north end of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood has recently become home to a new, contemporary fire station that’s also a beacon for sustainability. Certified LEED Platinum, Fire Station 22 was designed by local architectural practice Weinstein A+U to harvest solar power, as well as rainwater , which is used for all of the station’s non-potable water uses. The building also has an enhanced civic presence with a super-scaled and illuminated “22” on its facade and large walls of glass that invite the neighborhood in. Due to its location on a long and narrow corner lot confined by two freeways and a heavily trafficked road, Fire Station 22 forgoes the conventional back-in configuration in favor of a drive-through layout for better visibility and safety. However, this configuration and the constraints of the space meant that the two-story support and crew spaces needed to be put at the front of the site, thus blocking views of the fire station’s apparatus bay, which has always traditionally been visible to the public. To reengage the community, the architects added a public plaza at the main entry, a super-scaled “22” sign on the concrete hose-drying tower and a glazed lobby and station office. “The station needs to mediate this complex site while maintaining rigorous programmatic requirements and balancing users’ desire for privacy,” said the architects , who completed the project as the last full-building replacement project under the 2003 Fire Facilities and Emergency Response Levy. “It does so with a sculptural facade along E. Roanoke Street, which provides privacy for the building’s users while creating pedestrian interest and texture. The station opens up to the future 520 Lid at the northeast corner, with a fully glazed lobby, the iconic Apparatus Bay egress doors, and a hose tower that acts as a landmark on the singular site.” Related: LEED Platinum fire station boosts firefighter wellness in Seattle Built to meet current program standards, Fire Station 22 features highly efficient mechanical and plumbing systems in addition to a solar PV system and rainwater harvesting systems. The project has earned three 2018 AIA Merit Awards. + Weinstein A+U Images by Lara Swimmer

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Ioncell technology creates eco-textile clothing fibers from birch trees

April 9, 2019 by  
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With clothing production leading the world as one of the highest-polluting industries, a new fiber contradicts the earth-damaging qualities of traditional materials. Ioncell technology , developed at Aalto University and the University of Helsinki, uses a range of materials, including wood, recycled newspaper, cardboard and old cotton to make fabric. This is good news for an environment scarred by cotton production and the development of synthetic fibers. The new and improved material can also be recycled at the end of its life cycle, significantly reducing clothing waste . In a country already acutely aware of sustainable practices in forest management, the trees sourced from Finland offer a much lower carbon footprint than traditional clothing. Ioncell materials also protect the water supply by using ionic liquid in place of harsh chemicals. Related: The convenience of “highway fitting” your clothes is hurting the planet While the designers focus on sustainable sourcing and manufacturing, the clothing also avoids contributing to a massive post-consumer waste problem. That’s because the fibers are biodegradable. Additionally, the fibers do not contain any harmful microfibers now associated with massive ocean pollution and damage to sea life. Sourced from birch trees , the wood is responsibly harvested as part of a forest management program that grows more trees than they harvest. Once cut into smaller logs, the wood is sent through a machine that turns it into large chips. At this phase, the chips are sent to the cooker and then turned into sheets of pulp. The pulp is then mixed with the ionic liquid that results in a cellulose material. Fibers are then spun into yarn and turned into fabric. Designers and researchers involved in the project report that the resulting material is soft and drapes naturally, making it a good choice for formalwear, coats, scarves, gloves and other products. It also accepts dye well. The process for making Ioncell fibers is still in the research and development phase and they currently only produce it on a small scale, but they are hoping to unveil a preliminary product line as early as 2020. + Aalto University Via World Economic Forum Images via Aalto University

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Ioncell technology creates eco-textile clothing fibers from birch trees

Eco-friendly replacements for common bathroom products

April 9, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Common bathroom products, like toilet paper, cotton swabs and baby wipes, are a convenience for people around the world, but they come at a cost to the environment. These products take centuries to biodegrade and contribute to our growing problem of carbon emissions. Luckily, there are great eco-friendly alternatives to these common  bathroom  products that will not break your budget. Here is a quick list of the most common bathroom products and suggestions on how to find sustainable alternatives. Toilet paper The issue with toilet paper is that the majority of it is manufactured from boreal forests in Canada. These forests are crucial in absorbing carbon and cleaning the air. According to Quartzy , people in the United States use far more toilet paper per year than anywhere else in the world. This is creating a dangerous situation for trees , as the demand is reaching an unsustainable pace. Related: The environmental problem with toilet paper and what to use instead The solution to the toilet paper problem is to use single-ply paper sourced from recycled wood pulp. The key here is to find brands that are using recycled pulp instead of just looking for single-ply products. Many companies that make single-ply options do not use recycled wood . There are also tree-free options, such as those made from bamboo. Consider installing a bidet in your home. You can purchase a bidet lid that is easy to install and affordable to boot. This might not eliminate the need for toilet paper, but it will significantly reduce its use and save you money. Feminine care products Like other products on this list, tampons and sanitary pads clutter our landfills and can do a number on plumbing. The biggest problem is that these products are essential for daily living, but fortunately there are eco-friendly alternatives if you look carefully. If you want to improve your impact on the environment, buy tampons that do not feature an applicator. In 2017, the Clean Ocean Action group cleaned up over 4,000 applicators from shores in New Jersey. Also, choose feminine care products made from unscented organic cotton. You can look for underwear companies that make more absorbent products, such as Thinx, Luna and Knix. The downside to this alternative is that they can get pricey. If you are interested, try a menstrual cup, which can safely last for up to 10 years. Dental products Most dental floss is made from synthetic fibers, which makes it hard for these products to biodegrade within a reasonable time. This means that the floss either ends up in landfills or gets flushed down the toilet, where it can create problems for marine  wildlife . Related: 8 ways to make your bathroom more eco-friendly Fortunately, there are companies out there who make plastic-free dental floss. According to Household Wonders , Dental Lace’s dental floss is mostly made of silk and is free of plastics. The company also offers refillable floss. Instead of plastic toothbrushes, find a bamboo option that will biodegrade. As far as toothpaste goes, try making your own or find a tooth powder or tooth tablets sold in glass jars for zero-waste alternatives. Cotton swabs Cotton swabs often end up in undesirable places after they are discarded. Some people flush them down the toilet, leaving them to end up in waterways and ultimately in the bellies of aquatic life. Because of these disposal problems, some countries have banned cotton swabs altogether, especially the ones that have plastic stems. The good news is that you do not really need to use cotton swabs. In fact, doctors do not recommend using them to clean ears, as they are easily the biggest source of ear-related trauma. Instead, simply wash out your ears with warm water and let the wax do the rest. If you cannot give up cotton swabs, consider purchasing ones that have paper or bamboo stems. These are better for the environment and break up more easily after they are thrown away. Baby wipes There are a lot of problems with baby wipes. Not only are they primarily made out of cotton — which is one of the worst crops for the environment — but they are also comprised of plastic polymers, which are added for extra strength. These wipes can lead to multiple plumbing issues and have been known to clog up water treatment facilities. Related: New study finds harmful chemicals, including glyphosate, in disposable diapers If you have to use baby wipes, avoid flushing them down the toilet, even if the packaging says they are safe to do so. Instead, try using burp cloths or washcloths for daily cleaning . Speaking of wipes, you should also avoid all types of disposable cleaning and makeup-removing wipes, just as a general rule of thumb. For best practices, consider investing in reusable wipes. You can even use an old wipes container to house them. Make your own wipes out of old T-shirts or towels; all you need is something that is absorbent and soft. Deodorant Deodorant may be great at keeping smells at bay, but this product comes at a cost to the planet and your health. Most deodorant on the market is actually antiperspirant and contains chemicals, toxins, BPA and aluminum. This combination of chemicals usually leads to harmful reactions after extended use, not to mention that sourcing the material is hazardous to the environment. The best eco-friendly alternative to conventional deodorant is purchasing products that are completely organic and free of those harmful toxins. Images via Shutterstock

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Inhabitat Interview with Beth Cosmos, owner of Billygoats & Raincoats

April 5, 2019 by  
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In 2016, Beth Cosmos was fresh out of design school at the University of South Wales and volunteering at several music festivals. Eager to see the hundreds of thousands of displaced tents left after music festivals in her native U.K., Cosmos decided to combine her love of sustainability and fashion . The lightbulb moment came when she woke up to what seemed like an endless ocean of abandoned tents left behind by festival-goers at a venue. The tents were made of a good material: sturdy, waterproof and sadly destined for a landfill where it would never fully decompose. Armed with an idea, she took a few of the tents home to turn into clothes. Fast forward to 2019, and Billygoats & Raincoats is now Cosmos’ full-time job. We talked to Cosmos about her passion project and what’s next for the brand. Inhabitat: “Have you always been passionate about sustainability?” Cosmos: “Most definitely, I was that uni housemate who reinforced what exactly could be recycled or not and in which bags … super fun housemate, right?” Inhabitat: “You initially got the idea for Billygoats & Raincoats after noticing leftover tents at a festival. Were you looking for a project at the time?” Cosmos: “It’s an incredibly wasteful and upsetting sight to see. I was already designing children’s raincoats and seeking out the most sustainable options fabric -wise. The realization of the scale of waste and need for an alternative to using new fabrics came together perfectly, really.” Related: Housing pods made of recycled plastic offer an alternative to festival tent waste Inhabitat: “Tell us about your company’s zero-waste initiative. How do you use each part of the tent?” Cosmos: “All the best parts, nicest weight and condition fabrics are used for the kids coats. I tend to use all the primary colors first, smaller panels of the good stuff go to the tote bags. If there are any pieces with marks, I use them in reverse for the linings of the bags. Blacks, grays and darker colors are being saved for my big kid, AKA adult’s wear, range. I have designed the range and will be launching a Kickstarter very soon to help fund that collection, so keep a look out on our Instagram for a heads up on when that’s going to be launched. There will be opportunities to win lots of goodies, like kids coats, one-offs and custom adult coats. I use all the fly nets for pouches on bags and lining on pockets, and they will be used as a large part of the lining in the big kid range. Guy lines have a few uses, namely pocket hooks and ties on packaging and will be getting used a lot more in the future as handy hooks. I use the ground sheets for packaging , and everything else gets cleaned and stored until I think of something to do with it. There is a lot of hauling going on.” Inhabitat: “Any plans for repurposing the coats once children grow out of them?” Cosmos: “The coats are made to a very high standard and designed to fit children for more than a year; once one cool kid grows out of the coat, it would be great to see the coat handed down. The coats can be sent back to us at the end of their life. We will offer 50 percent off the next purchase, and we will reuse the salvageable fabric.” Inhabitat: “How do you make the coats breathable with such a notoriously durable material? Do the coats get ‘muggy’ or ‘clammy’ at all?” Cosmos: “The coats are a very loose fitting, boxy shape that allows children to move freely in, and they are designed to be worn layered up.” Inhabitat: “Are you working with any festival companies directly?” Cosmos: “We will be working with and recovering tents from Glastonbury, Boomtown and Camp Bestival this year. We hope to be working very closely with them this time next year. We’re planning very exciting collaborations.” Inhabitat: “What’s next for Billygoats and Raincoats?” Cosmos: “To take over the world of rainwear, of course!” To check out Billygoats & Raincoats, head to its  website or Instagram page . + Billygoats & Raincoats Images via Billygoats & Raincoats

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Make your own custom sunglasses from recycled plastic with FOS

April 4, 2019 by  
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This company in Spain lets customers design and handcraft sunglasses, and that’s not even the best part! FOS sunglasses are made from 100% recycled plastic that would otherwise end up in a landfill . Head to the FOS studio in Barcelona to take part in the workshop, where clients can choose the color of the sunglasses and build them themselves with the help of FOS designers. After picking a color and assembling the frames, you then can choose a lens color that complements your design. Related: These marbled Bluetooth speakers are made from non-recyclable plastic waste Even better, the frame is designed to be recycled over again. Customers are encouraged to bring their sunglasses back to the studio instead of throwing them out so that someone else can benefit from the frames. The sunglasses come with frame repairs, screw replacements and even lens restoration. Can’t make it to Spain? You can purchase the glasses online from the FOS website–they ship internationally. If you are lucky enough to attend a workshop (reservations can be made on their website), the designers will lead you every step of the way in making your own recycled sunglasses. Classes are offered in multiple languages, and will also offer insight into different recycling techniques and sustainability practices. Don’t be intimidated if you don’t have any prior design knowledge or artistic skills, FOS promises that anyone can join the workshop. Through the two-hour-long class, participants will: learn the basics of plastic, understand the importance of recycling plastic waste , learn about molds, choose a color, craft, assemble, and polish their own new unique pair of sunglasses. The different plastic flakes allow for plenty of options for different patterns as well. After making the frames, it will be time to choose one of FOS’ five UV lens options (gray, brown, green, faded gray and faded brown). The workshops, held at Nest City Lab in Barcelona, include the price of the sunglasses and only cost 70 euro (less than $80 US). +fosworks Via Designboom Images via  Esfèrica

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H&M releases sustainable fashion line made from fruit and algae

April 4, 2019 by  
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Many people remember Lady Gaga’s jaw dropping meat dress , so when you hear of a dress made out of fruit, your mind is not likely to think of the trendy pieces H&M is releasing next week. On April 11, 2019, fashion giant H&M will release its ninth Conscious Exclusive line, but this year, it has partnered with eco textile companies to make cutting-edge food waste clothing technology a global success. Eco textiles made from fruit waste This newest technology in sustainable fashion includes vegan leather made out of pineapple leaves by Piñatex , a silk alternative made from orange peels by Orange Fiber and shoe soles made from algae by  BLOOM Foam . All of these organic materials are readily available and otherwise considered waste by-products from the harvest of pineapples, juicing of oranges and the harmful overpopulation of algae in waterways. The materials would otherwise rot in landfills but are processed in factories so that they do not biodegrade while you’re wearing them. Related: These vegan “Star Wars” sneakers are made with discarded pineapple leaves Like other fabrics, these eco textiles are finished with harmful chemicals that prevent the fabrics from biodegrading. That also means that they cannot be recycled and do not break down in a landfill, not to mention that the harmful chemical process pollutes waterways. In the end, these textiles have an environmental impact sadly similar to their conventional counterparts. On the positive side, most conventional textiles materials are sourced from endangered  rainforests . Though they aren’t perfect, eco textiles do succeed in more sustainable sourcing. H&M is one of the largest fashion brands, with more than  4,433 retail locations worldwide and nearly 50 online markets. Its Conscious Exclusive line is a way to experiment with and scale-up sustainable technologies that otherwise get little traction from limited boutique markets. Despite H&M’s ninth consecutive sustainable line, critics still argue that experiments with food waste do not address the major environmental problems with fast fashion and that these distracting pineapple gimmicks are just that — gimmicks. Fast fashion and its toll on the environment According to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change , the fast fashion industry contributes approximately 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions and consumes more energy than the aviation and shipping industries combined. The report said that the fashion industry produces 20 percent of all waste water, and 85 percent of textiles end up in landfills. Related: The environmental secrets the fashion industry does not want you to know More than just the harmful sourcing and toxic processing of fabrics, fast fashion culture is highly problematic in terms of the quantities of materials produced, purchased and disposed of. According to the World Resource Institute , the average consumer bought 60 percent more clothing between 2000 and 2014 than previous years and had each item for half as long. Relevant Magazine added that the average article of clothing is only worn five times before it is discarded. Both responsible for and responding to these trends, fast fashion companies like H&M aren’t making clothes to last, but instead to be trendy, cheap enough to be disposable and in quantities that seem endless. H&M as a trendsetter for sustainable fashion There is plenty to criticize about fast fashion and companies’ feeble attempts at sustainability; however, the size and scale of H&M makes it an important ally and trendsetter in shifting the market toward sustainable fashion. The Swedish company has made serious commitments toward sustainability goals that could equate to substantial shifts because of its size. For example, H&M claimed that 57 percent of all its clothing comes from recycled or sustainable sources, and it has set a benchmark goal to get to 100 percent by 2030. In addition, many H&M retail stores have recycling programs where customers can bring in old clothing to be recycled, reused or disposed of properly. Global Citizen also reported that H&M promises to eliminate problematic plastics from its supply chain by 2025. Can eco textiles save fashion? Textiles made from pineapples and oranges are fun and stylish, and they get people talking. As Vogue explained, if your clothing was made from pineapples, isn’t that the first thing you would tell your friends when they compliment your outfit? Despite the sustainable sourcing, though, critics argue that there is simply not enough leaves from pineapple harvests to make this a scalable solution to even address unsustainable fashion within H&M’s own markets. It is only a small bandage and cute talking point. Fashion sustainability expert and former scientist at the Natural Resource Defense Council Linda Greer  argued , “They need to focus on things that matter the most and stop spending time on these amateur initiatives that are never going to scale. They’re just trying to tickle our fancy.” There is still a lot of work to turn shoppers and companies into conscious consumers and producers. Before the general public will consider or prioritize the ethics of their clothing, it has to be the right aesthetic and price point to even get their attention. Even if the eco textiles are not sustainable at a global scale or making a huge impact, a fashion giant like H&M showing public commitment and getting people talking sends a message to consumers around the world and amplifies the conversation. It also sends a message to designers and experimental sustainable fashion start-ups that large manufacturers are paying attention, committing to sustainability goals and looking to their inventions for the next big thing. That motivation alone could be enough to shift the future of the industry. + H&M Via Global Citizen Images via H&M

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H&M releases sustainable fashion line made from fruit and algae

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