Circular, solar-powered beach house is a sustainable holiday retreat

February 6, 2019 by  
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A charming, circular escape from the city has popped up on an idyllic stretch of beach in New Zealand . Powered with solar energy and built with weather-resistant materials, the St Andrews Beach House is the work of Austin Maynard Architects , a Fitzroy-based design practice that prides itself on sustainable architecture. The “Euclidean form” of the dwelling was inspired by the beauty of the remote site and is designed to take advantage of views in all directions. Located on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula along secluded coastline near national parkland, the St Andrews Beach House is surrounded by stunning vistas of the water, wild bush, sand dunes and scrub. The simple two-story circular structure was a site-sensitive response to both the fragile environment and the client’s brief for a ‘bach’ — a New Zealand word commonly used for a very modest holiday home. The simplicity of the home’s design helps focus attention on the landscape, while its self-sustaining construction minimizes the building’s environmental footprint. “Less than five meters in radius, St Andrews Beach House is an object in the landscape,” the architects explained in a statement. “A Euclidean form set amongst the rough terrain. The plan of the house is generated using the rational and precise geometry, as the circle extrudes into a tube. The internal spaces are generated by a tightly controlled plan adhering to the rules of form, guiding and arranging segments that divide the space, with a spiral staircase as its central core, providing light and air but also snug spaces. This is not a slick beach house, but a relaxed and informal escape, designed with materials that will patina and weather, like an old coastal wharf.” Related: Swanky laneway house in Melbourne is built from recycled red brick The communal living areas are located on the ground floor while the bedroom and bathroom zone are upstairs. In addition to the home’s small footprint and use of durable materials, the beach house was built with rooftop solar panels as well as double-glazed windows. A large cylindrical concrete water tank harvests rainwater for reuse in the toilets and for irrigation. + Austin Maynard Architects Images by Derek Swalwell via Austin Maynard Architects

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Circular, solar-powered beach house is a sustainable holiday retreat

Faux fur or real fur, which one is better for the planet?

January 9, 2019 by  
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Remember the days when anti-fur advocates would sling red paint onto the fur-clad fashion lovers dressed in mink? The fur debate has come a long way since then, with many key players in the fashion world now becoming some of the biggest voices in the anti-fur movement. But, instead of ditching fur altogether, some brands have switched to lavish faux fur options, and that has pivoted the discussion. Instead of focusing on ethics and animal welfare, the spotlight is now shining on its  environmental sustainability. Is it good for the environment? Over the past couple of decades, faux fur has evolved from a cheap, itchy material to a luxurious, affordable option that looks just like the real thing. Faux fur now looks so realistic that consumers can’t tell the difference, but is this option really better for the environment? If you are morally opposed to wearing fur, then it is easy to avoid it. However, if you are just trying to make the best choice for the environment, there are some things you need to know. Just because a piece of clothing might be animal -free, it doesn’t mean it’s not causing damage. Fur industry lobbyists now argue that faux fur is a less sustainable choice because it is made from acrylic, which is a synthetic material made from a non-renewable source that takes centuries to biodegrade. “Petroleum-based faux fur products are the complete antithesis of the concept of responsible environmental conservation,” says Keith Kaplan, director of communications at the Fur Information Council of America. “Right off the top, petrol-based plastic fur is extremely harmful to the environment. It isn’t biodegradable. It’s harmful to wildlife .” Kaplan also points out that trapping wild animals like fox, coyotes and beavers— which is about 15 percent of the fur trade— actually helps manage the wildlife population, and it also provides a livelihood for many indigenous communities. What do the experts say? The research is starting to support this opinion , and we are just beginning to learn about the environmental impact of microfibers— the tiny plastic particles that synthetic fabrics shed when you wash them. A 2016 study published in Environmental Science & Technology found that when you wash a synthetic jacket, it can release an average of 1,174 milligrams of microfibers. And, whatever isn’t filtered out by wastewater treatment plants can end up in waterways, and aquatic animals will ingest them. Many designers, like London-based footwear label Mou, have taken the stance that real fur is a more sustainable option than faux fur because the synthetic is a “non-biodegradable pollutant.” Mou founder Shelley Tichborne says that the faux fabrics don’t “breathe” like natural materials, and that causes unpleasant smells and shortens the product’s lifespan. Related: This couch made from recycled water bottles is built to last a lifetime “In contrast, the natural fiber materials we use such as calfskin, goatskin, sheepskin, antelope, lambskin and rabbit fur are by-products of the meat and dairy industries — all the animals are eaten for their meat, and some produce milk for human consumption,” Tichborne says. “The skins from these animals are naturally beautiful, soft to the touch, warm, bio-degradable and durable, lasting — with care — for up to thirty years.” Anti-fur advocates admit that synthetics like faux fur aren’t the best substitute, but they say the environmental hazards in the fur manufacturing process make real fur the worse option. Advocates claim that CO2 emissions produced from feeding thousands of minks on a single farm, manure runoffs into nearby lakes and rivers and toxic chemicals used in fur dressing and dyeing is evidence enough that real fur is far worse for the environment compared to its alternative counterpart. They also mention that the traps used to hunt wild animals ensnare “non-target” animals like domestic dogs, cats and birds. Which is best? There is a ton of evidence that backs up both sides of the argument, and it is a lot of information to process. But, the reality is that banning fur outright doesn’t solve all of the issues in fashion’s supply chains since the alternatives are petroleum-based textiles. However, the consumer interest in this issue can only be a good thing. We know for sure that cheap, disposable clothing— and our tendency to buy and throw out almost all of it— is terrible for the environment. But, is it really a good idea to wear genuine fur instead of faux fur? Ultimately, it comes down to your own morals and ethics, and the debate won’t be settled anytime soon. Fortunately, with technological advancements happening every day, it probably won’t be long before we start seeing faux furs that have a smaller environmental footprint. Via Fashionista , Refinery29 , HuffPost Images via Shutterstock, Tamara Bellis

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Faux fur or real fur, which one is better for the planet?

Study Finds Even Carnivores are Buying More Meat Subsitutes

August 20, 2013 by  
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Image via Shutterstock . A recent study by Mintel shows that it’s not just vegetarians who enjoy meat substitutes on their plates. As meat becomes more expensive and global demands grows, carnivores are experimenting with replacements such as tempeh, tofu, seitan, and veggie burgers. The survey finds that 36 percent of US shoppers buy meatless products, even though only 7 percent identified themselves as vegetarians . In 2012, the sales of meat substitutes rose 8% from the beginning of the decade to gross $553 million. Read the rest of Study Finds Even Carnivores are Buying More Meat Subsitutes Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: beth bloom , environmental footprint , global meat consumption , in vitro beef , insect farm , meat alternative , meat replacement , mintel , mock poultry , npr , protein , seitan , tempeh , the salt , tofu , vegetable burger        

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Study Finds Even Carnivores are Buying More Meat Subsitutes

German Fossil-Fuel Utilities Push Back Against Renewable Energy Initiatives

August 20, 2013 by  
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Germany’s largest gas, electric, and water utility has threatened to relocate to Turkey if the government continues to push for renewable energy. E.ON reports that its coal and gas-fired plants are currently operating and the situation (for them) only promises to get worse. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster , Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed to phase out nuclear power in Germany within a decade — another main source of revenue for E.ON. Read the rest of German Fossil-Fuel Utilities Push Back Against Renewable Energy Initiatives Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: coal power , electric utilities , fossil fuels , gas power , german power companies , germany , nuclear power , renewable energy        

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German Fossil-Fuel Utilities Push Back Against Renewable Energy Initiatives

Imported Products Undo All Developed Countries’ Emissions Reductions Since 1990

April 28, 2011 by  
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Image: twicepix via flickr Here’s some news that should be obvious on some level, but is now backed up with the data to prove it: the cuts in carbon emissions that developed countries have made since 1990 have been cancelled out “many” times over by increases in imported goods from developing countries….

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Imported Products Undo All Developed Countries’ Emissions Reductions Since 1990

Ask Pablo: What Is More Sustainable: Eyeglasses Or Contact Lenses?

November 30, 2010 by  
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Image Source: Marcus Woelfle Dear Pablo: Which is more sustainable, eyeglasses or contact lenses? Contact lenses are disposable, a word that is not usually synonymous with sustainability. But eyeglasses are made out of metal and other materials that also have a certain environmental footprint

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Ask Pablo: What Is More Sustainable: Eyeglasses Or Contact Lenses?

Stay Organized with Moop’s Handcrafted Organic Cotton Carry-All Bag (Photos)

November 30, 2010 by  
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Photo: Moop To market, to market.

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Stay Organized with Moop’s Handcrafted Organic Cotton Carry-All Bag (Photos)

One Toilet Paper Company Decides to Ditch the Tube

October 27, 2010 by  
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In an attempt to cut down on back on consumer waste , one toilet paper manufacturer has unveiled perhaps the biggest change the product has undergone in over a century — replacing that old cardboard tube with, well, nothing. If the advancement in TP technology seems unremarkable, consider just how much waste it will keep from the landfill

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One Toilet Paper Company Decides to Ditch the Tube

Training to Swim the English Channel: The Fat Lady Sings

October 25, 2010 by  
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Photo: via Freefoto Guest blogger Caroline Chisholm, head of marketing and communications globally for Earthwatch Institute , a non-profit organization dedicated to a sustainable environment, is swimming the English Channel in August to raise funds for Earthwatch initiatives. I was there at the first training session in Dover May day, getting the cold shock of my life with a hundred other swimmers in nine degree depths. And I was there at the last

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Training to Swim the English Channel: The Fat Lady Sings

Electronics Recycling Report Card Flunks Nearly All Printer Companies

October 21, 2010 by  
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Photo via Sir Adavis The Electronics TakeBack Coalition has released a new report card grading electronics manufacturers that produce TVs, computers, gaming consoles and printers on their sustainability efforts around recycling. Somewhat similar to Greenpeace’s rankings , the report card shows where manufacturers are succeeding at walking the talk about minimizing the environmental impact of their products — but more often it shows where they’re..

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Electronics Recycling Report Card Flunks Nearly All Printer Companies

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