Earth-friendly holiday gift ideas for your entire family

December 13, 2019 by  
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Wondering what to give every family member on your list — parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins? Here are this year’s green gift recommendations from Inhabitat to help you decide which eco-conscious presents to give this holiday season. Zero-waste makeup Beauty and personal care products are wonderful ideas for gift-giving. Even better are the ones that are ethical, zero-waste and eco-friendly. Some suggested brands are Antonym Costmetics , Axiology , Besame , Elate Beauty , Ilia , Kjaer Weis , Lush , RMS Beauty and Tata Harper . Vegan leather goods Vegan leather is in, especially for those who prefer being cruelty-free and ethical. For vegan leather alternative goods like belts, footwear, jackets, luggage, outerwear, purses and wallets, consider Brave GentleMan , Cork By Design , Corkor , Doshi , Ethique212 , Eve Cork , Matt & Nat , Pixie Mood , Stella McCartney , Tree Tribe , Urban Expressions, Vaute Couture , The Vegan Collection , Wilby and Will’s Vegan Shoes . Bamboo pillows and bedding For a good night’s sleep, pillows and bedding made from bamboo fibers are a healthy and environmentally friendly choice. Did you know that bamboo pillows and bedding are hypoallergenic? If that has piqued your interest, have a look at the options by Cariloha Bamboo , Ettitude , Hotel Sheets Direct , Miracle Bamboo Pillow , Simply Organic Bamboo , Snuggle-Pedic , Zen Bamboo and Zenlusso . Sustainable weighted blankets If anyone in your family has weighted blankets on their wish list this year, then Bearaby and Sheltered Company have some snuggly, sustainable options. Weighted blankets resemble the sensation of being hugged or swaddled, allowing for a deeper sleep. Plus, weighted blankets stimulate serotonin production, which helps reduce stress and increase calmness, making sleep more comfortable and satisfying. Cast iron skillets Cast iron skillets are sturdy and durable. As the original non-stick cookware , they don’t have the hazardous coating chemicals, like Teflon, which means they are a healthier cookware choice. Also, what draws many people to them is that they are easy to clean and they can be passed down from generation to generation. Examples of cast iron skillets to gift this year include those by All-Clad , Demeyere , Le Creuset , Lodge Cast Iron , Mauviel , Skeppshult , SolidTeknics and Staub . Solar grills, cookers or ovens Solar energy is now being utilized in cooking and grilling. Grills, cookers and ovens that operate via solar power are becoming a hot commodity, not only for camping enthusiasts and off-grid homesteaders but also for those prepping for potential power outages. Some viable options to choose from include those offered by All Season Solar Cooker (SolCook) , GoSun , Haines Solar Cookers , SolSource by One Earth Designs , Sun BD Corporation , SunFlair Solar Ovens and Sun Oven International Inc . Related: We tested the GoSun Go solar oven — here’s what we thought Organic fabric aprons Organic , sustainable fabrics are a better option for the planet. Luckily, there are many aprons out there that are made from organic textiles. Try the offerings from Native Organic , the Portland Apron Company and Rawganique . Nut and seed butters Nut and seed butters are wonderful sources of vitamin E and protein . They are also full of healthy fats and are high in fiber. These butters can be made from almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chia seeds, coconuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts and even watermelon seeds. Some good brands to gift include Artisana Organics , Barney Butter , Dastony , Justin’s , MaraNatha Foods , Nutiva , Rawmio , Reginald’s Homemade , Soom Tahini , Sun Butter , Wild Friends and Yumbutter . Better yet, try your hand at making homemade varieties! Jams, jellies, marmalade and preserves You can’t have nut and seed butters without a tasty jam or jelly. Marmalades and preserves are a delicious addition as well, especially to cheese boards and bread trays. If you aren’t great in the kitchen, here are some recommendations for wonderful varieties to try: Frog Hollow Farm , Happy Girl Kitchen Company, INNA , June Taylor Company , Katz Farm , Lemon Bird Preserves , Mountain Fruit Company , Quince & Apple Company and We Love Jam . Eco-conscious headphones and earbuds For the music listeners on your nice list, there are some options that are friendly to the environment. While there aren’t yet any types that are 100 percent green, there are still many that strive to do better by the environment through materials like sustainably sourced wood, organic cotton, recycled plastic , bioplastic or recycled metal. Options to consider are those from The House of Marley , Thinksound and Woodbuds . Related: Inhabitat reviews House of Marley’s new sustainable headphones Garden tools Burgon & Ball has been around since 1730, and its stainless steel tools have been endorsed by the Royal Horticultural Society as “Tried, Tested, Trusted.” For those on your holiday list with a green thumb, gift them a Burgon & Ball set of tools. Solar-powered gadgets If you have a gadget geek on your list, consider SunCore products like backpacks, Bluetooth speakers, solar panel kits, door locks and street lights. There are numerous other types of solar-powered gadgets, too. For instance, there are the Logitech Solar Wireless Keyboards and the SolSol Solar Charger Hat . For campers and glampers , having a tent, such as this Eddie Bauer 3-person tent or Earth Ship tents powered by a solar panel from Goal Zero or BioLite , might be just the ticket. Of course, there are an assortment of portable solar power packs to choose from as well, like chargers, portable panels and solar backpacks, as seen on SolarProductsPro . But if you want to get started with going solar, then peruse the online offerings from A Green Origin , the altE Store , Blue Pacific Solar , Free Clean Solar , The Solar Store and Wholesale Solar . Maps, globes and more MOVA offers a world of possibilities with its wide array of maps and globes. The company likewise features artworks of the planets and outer space . All of MOVA’s inventory showcases an appreciation for Earth and our place in the universe. Woodworking kits Woodworking is a hobby that is regaining momentum, and it can appeal to people at any age. For youngsters, there’s Annie’s Young Woodworkers Kit Club subscription and the wood craft kits from Craft Kits and Supplies . For all ages, visit the Wood Store ’s online portal for more merchandise and ideas to cultivate the hobby. Images via Juliana Malta , Joanna Kosinska , Olesia Misty , James Kern , Edgar Castrejon , Michal Jarmoluk , Conger Design and Mova Globes

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Earth-friendly holiday gift ideas for your entire family

Sustainable holiday gifts for babies and kids

December 12, 2019 by  
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Children innately have a curiosity about the world around them, and that curiosity can be cultivated into awareness and love for our planet. So this holiday season, give out eco-friendly gifts or green presents that your favorite kiddos can enjoy all while helping the Earth, too. Vegan shoes Vegan Chic is 100 percent vegan fashion with products vetted to meet high standards of eco-friendly and cruelty-free sourcing, especially with regards to fair and safe working conditions during production. Vegan Chic’s proprietors, Mark and Vessela, who are animal lovers avidly protecting and rescuing feral cats, explained, “We love animals and are committed to protecting them, as they cannot protect themselves.” Support the cruelty-free shop by purchasing adorable and functional vegan shoes that any child would be excited to sport. Meanwhile, CLAMFEET provides machine-washable, soft-soled, leather-free moccasins for infants and toddlers. CLAMFEET shoes are also completely vegan with organic lining. Plus, they are handmade in the United States. Eco-friendly clothing, bedding and bath items Little Lentil Clothing is “dedicated to leaving the smallest environmental footprint possible” by offering organic, natural and sustainable clothes for children. Its packaging is even derived from 100 percent reusable, recyclable or biodegradable materials. As Little Lentil Clothing’s website describes, “We are a brand with intentions to uphold elevated social and environmental values in order to leave the world a little bit better of a place for all of our babies.” Related: A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for children While Burt’s Bees has long been known for its personal care products, did you know that the company also offers 100 percent organic cotton products for babies and kids? Burt’s Bees Baby provides gentle, organic cotton that meets “the highest global standard for organic textiles” in clothing, bedding (nursery bedding, quilts and blankets) and bath apparel (washcloths, towels and robes). Responsibly crafted, plastic-free toys BeginAgain toys are made from a mix of vintage materials (maple, rubberwood and natural rubber) and modern bioplastics derived from non-GMO corn. As the company describes, its toys “move kids away from OIL and back into SOIL. We believe in the playful power of plants.” The BeginAgain animal parade A-to-Z puzzle and playset is a recommended favorite. Bamboo bike This is another company devoted to natural toys for children that collaborates with sustainable suppliers to provide families with “heirloom quality, non-disposable toys that support healthy lifestyles in balance with the environment.” The NovaNatural bamboo run bike is a lovely toy for any child, given its sustainable bamboo wood finish. Interestingly, bamboo forests can be harvested after only 3-5 years because they grow faster than other hardwoods, making bamboo a more sustainable wood. Additionally, bamboo forests produce more oxygen and absorb more carbon dioxide than other trees. Award-winning wood toys Hape Holding AG is a German-Swiss toy manufacturer that began with the responsible business practices of its founder, Peter Handstein, who said, “A commitment to children must go hand-in-hand with a commitment to the environment. Our children will inherit the world we live in.” Based in Lucerne, Switzerland with at least 36 companies in more than a dozen countries, Hape is globally renowned for its award-winning, educational wooden toys that utilize renewable resources, such as bamboo, for “minimal impact to the environment.” Hape’s award-winning toys include a two-in-one kitchen and grill set, a croquet set, a scientific workbench, a doctor set, a doll mansion, a dominoes set, a magnetic easel, a master workbench and builder set, a miniature band set and much more. Art supplies and kits If your child has an artistic bent, eco-kids offers non-toxic, environmentally friendly “creative play the natural way,” with all products made in the U.S. Cammie and Kip are the founders of this family-run business, which all began when Cammie created a recipe for “eco-dough” with natural ingredients that they first sold at local farmers markets. From there, eco-kids evolved into a comprehensive art supplies shop that sells wholesale on its website and retail on Amazon . Another sustainable children’s art supply establishment is Natural Earth Paint , the award-winning, Gold-certified Green America business that specializes in natural mineral pigments and organic ingredients. The company was founded by Leah Fanning, an environmentalist who immediately disposed of her toxic and synthetic paints when she became pregnant with her first child. She then founded Natural Earth Paint, which specializes in locally made, non-toxic art supplies packaged in “100 percent post-consumer recycled packaging, biodegradable plastic bags and recyclable glass bottles.” According to the company’s website, its merchandise is free of “preservatives, heavy metal toxins, solvents, synthetics, additives and fillers,” which makes them safer for children. Natural Earth Paint also operates out of a 100 percent solar-powered facility, and the company has a plant-a-tree campaign to boot. Besides artist palettes, its recommended children’s products are natural face paint kits and egg craft kits, which can be found here . Crafty STEAM kits Green Kid Crafts sells science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) subscription kits and educational toys that will inspire children to learn while they play. The company has earned several distinctions, including the Academics’ Choice Brain Toy Award, Dr. Toy’s Best Green Products and Red Tricycle’s Award for the Most Awesome Subscription Service. With sustainability as its driving force, Green Kid Crafts gives back to the environment by partnering with CarbonFund to advocate for more renewable energy efficiency as well as with the OneTreePlanted endeavor to plant a tree for every Green Kid Crafts order placed. Gardening kits If you have a budding horticulturist in your family, Hortiki Plants has a wonderful beginning gardener’s kit for children. The kits from Hortiki Plants include biodegradable trays made from hand-pressed palm leaves, natural kelp fertilizers, coconut coir seed pellets, organic seeds, organic soil, recyclable glass sprayers, recyclable metal vases and recycled shipping materials. The company also offers a gardening guarantee, so that if, for any reason, the seeds do not grow into plants, the seeds will be replaced for free. The Hortiki Plants Kids Fall/Winter Gardening Kit is perfect eco-friendly holiday gift for young gardeners because it also includes games and projects for children to engage in the world of sustainable agriculture. Images via Shutterstock, Vegan Chic , CLAMFEET , Little Lentil Clothing , BeginAgain , NovaNatural , Hape , Natural Earth Paint , Green Kid Crafts and Hortiki Plants

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Sustainable holiday gifts for babies and kids

Brick cladding conceals a family home’s sophisticated, zero-energy systems

December 9, 2019 by  
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Although brick homes are certainly nothing new, the respected building material is having somewhat of a renaissance moment as architects search for materials with sustainable properties. Dutch firm Joris Verhoeven Architectuur has just unveiled Villa Alders — a large, brick family home that runs completely on solar power, making the structure a zero-energy  build. A maintenance-friendly product, bricks are incredibly durable, meaning that they are suitable for virtually any climate. The porous nature of brick enables a tight thermal envelope because it can store and radiate heat when necessary. Brick is also unique in that it is a material that can be recycled or repurposed fairly easily when the structure has come to the end of its lifecycle. Related: Green-roofed home in Poland is made out of reclaimed brick Keeping these features in mind, the architects created the beautiful Villa Alders in a way that complements, rather than stands out from, many other homes throughout the Netherlands. However, its boxy shape conceals a number of unique systems that enable the structure to be a zero-energy household. Punctuated with several windows, the house consists of several cubes clad in Belgian hand-molded bricks. Additionally, the home’s cubed volumes allowed the architects to use various flat roofs to their advantage. On the upper roof, a massive solar array meets all of the home’s energy needs while the lower roof was planted with a state-of-the-art cooling sedum green roof that adds significant insulation properties to the design. The interior boasts a modern but warm living space. All-white walls and concrete flooring contrast nicely while an abundance of natural light in the living spaces further reduces energy demand during the day. Minimalist furnishings and art pieces are found throughout, adding to the home’s contemporary aesthetic. The house is also designed to be flexible based on the family’s needs for generations to come. The layout spans two stories, which can be closed off to create a separate living area on the bottom floor after the children grow up and leave home. This allows for the possibility of creating a rental unit upstairs for extra income or a spacious guest room for visitors. + Joris Verhoeven Architectuur Photography by John van Groenedaal via Joris Verhoeven Architectuur

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Brick cladding conceals a family home’s sophisticated, zero-energy systems

7 tips for a sustainable Thanksgiving celebration

November 25, 2019 by  
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Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate abundance, health and family, so it is the perfect time to focus on the health of the environment — the land that sustains us and makes the holiday possible in the first place. Enjoy your celebration and give back to nature at the same time with these sustainable tips for the upcoming holiday. Remember that each small step has an impact, so look for ways you can make easy, eco-friendly swaps throughout your Thanksgiving festivities. Decorate naturally It’s fun to bring out the fall decor, bursting with color and scents of the season. But before you head down the pumpkin spice aisle at the local store, consider ways you can decorate naturally instead. Pick up gourds and pumpkins for the porch as well as a hay bale and corn stalks to complete the vibe. Everything can go into the composter later in the season for zero waste . Related: 5 tips for beautiful, sustainable Thanksgiving decor Inside the house, craft some homemade grapevine wreaths embellished with mini pumpkins, pinecones, nuts or berries. Take the kids out to collect colorful leaves, acorns and rocks. Press the leaves or put together a Give Thanks paper banner, with each letter spelled out in natural materials . For centerpieces, carve out pumpkins and insert candles or fill a traditional cornucopia of edible goodness. Alternately, use colorful, clear or reflective metal bowls of produce such as lemons and limes, squash or apples. Travel less Thanksgiving is one of the biggest travel holidays of the year. The impact of those trips leaves a heavy carbon footprint on the planet. With the fuel emissions of planes and cars, the easiest way to celebrate the day sustainably is to remain close to home. Use the holiday as an opportunity to volunteer at a soup kitchen or gather coworkers and friends without plans for a friendly feast. Get outside Electronics put a drain on natural resources , too, so skip watching the football game (or at least the third one) in favor of playing your own game outside. If you do not prefer contact sports, take the crew out for a nature hike or bike ride. Tour a local park, go for a paddle or cue up the cornhole in the backyard. Not only does time outside mean you’re not consuming electricity, but it’s also good for your health, both physically and mentally. Skip single-use dinnerware One of the simplest ways to reduce waste and pollution is to set the table with reusable plates, utensils and cups. You don’t have to put out china, but skip the plastic foam and plastic-covered plates in favor of the real thing. The same goes for silverware and glasses. Yes, this means you’ll have more dishes, but consider it quality bonding time with family when you work together to clean up everything. Ditch plastic With natural decor and reusable dinnerware, your plastic consumption will be low, but also look out for packaging on the food products you buy, fill water pitchers instead of using bottled water and reuse small cottage cheese, yogurt or butter containers to send leftovers home with your guests. Plan your meal carefully The Thanksgiving feast is a central component of the holiday, with Grandma’s famous yams and your aunt’s homemade pumpkin pie taking the spotlight. Keep looking forward to the favorite family recipes during the holiday, and supplement those must-have items with earth-friendly choices. Make several sides of fruits and vegetables. Also, lessen the quantity of meat, a leading cause of methane pollution for the environment. If skipping the meat isn’t an option for your family, reduce portion sizes and dish out bigger servings of fruits and vegetables. Related: How to host a zero-waste Thanksgiving dinner When it comes to planning the feast, look to your local market or fruit stand. Invest in organic produce and be rewarded with wholesome food that didn’t add toxins to the planet in its journey to your plate. In short, buy local, organic foods as the best choice for the planet. Freeze and reheat leftovers Many of us correlate the holiday with overindulgence, and it’s sometimes hard to avoid when everyone brings their favorite foods. Try to avoid waste upfront with realistic quantities of foods, and do your part to practice self-control when it comes to overeating. Once the meal wraps up, make use of leftovers with a second dinner. Invite friends or colleagues over on Friday for a Friendsgiving. You could also take leftovers to work to share. If everyone is burned out on turkey, throw it into the stock pot along with the leftovers from the vegetable tray for a delicious soup. Another option is to freeze leftovers for a later date. Celebrate the season and the planet with a plan to reduce plastic consumption, limit the impacts of travel and avoid food waste . Happy Thanksgiving! Images via Debby Hudson , Jill Wellington , Nel Botha , Terri Cnudde , Roman Boed and Shutterstock

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7 tips for a sustainable Thanksgiving celebration

Building homes that fight against climate change

November 21, 2019 by  
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Even with concerted efforts to curb climate change, it’s clear we are already living through the effects of a warming world. As such, it’s time to get serious about where and how we build our homes to keep our families safe while also lessening our impact on the planet. From incorporating renewable energy and ethical labor practices to reducing waste and designing for resilience, B Corp-certified home builder Deltec Homes is exemplifying just how to design and build homes that keep your family and Mother Earth safe and secure for generations to come. Building for resilience With hurricanes intensifying around the world, resilient design is becoming more and more important as the climate crisis worsens. As such, it is important to design homes that can stand strong against these natural disasters. Deltec Homes keeps disaster-proofing at the forefront of its designs. For example, the company has homes that feature a unique, eye-catching panoramic layout. Deltec Homes has built structures that have withstood some of the most intense storms in recent years, such as Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, Michael and Dorian. The rounded design ensures that wind pressure doesn’t build up on a traditionally flat side of the home, which can collapse the walls. Instead, the pressure is dispersed around the structure. Additionally, Deltec Homes uses reinforced windows with impact glass to help keep the wind and water from breaking the windows and entering the building. The team also uses a special grade of lumber that is twice as strong as traditional lumber to boost resiliency. “We build what we believe to be the strongest wood homes on the planet, as evidenced by thousands of homes in the path of these major hurricanes that performed incredibly well,” said Steve Linton, president of Deltec Homes. Linton and the company are well aware that hurricanes are becoming more damaging, but Deltec Homes is continuously improving the strength of its homes. “We are seeing hurricanes hitting really high wind speeds. After Hurricane Dorian, we sat with our engineering team and said, ‘We know we can withstand 185 mph. What happens when these storms are 200 to 250 mph?’ We are continuing to innovate the system to stand up to the next generation of storms, whatever that turns out to be.” Following the Deltec Way for minimal impact Deltec Homes is the first prefabricated home builder to earn B Corp-certification , meaning it meets strict standards for ethics and sustainability. In an industry notorious for mass amounts of waste, the company is focused on lessening the impact that our homes tend to have on the planet. “Everything we build is with 100 percent renewable energy,” Linton said. “In 2007, we had, at the time, the largest solar array in North Carolina. We are proud to produce homes with low environmental footprints. Deltec is  not a company with a single-minded focus on profit; we want to solve social and environmental challenges. This is used as a way to gain clarity on our purpose, thinking of that purpose beyond financial. It’s a kind of concept that in order to be the best in the world, you also have to be the best for the world.” As such, renewable energy is important to the Deltec Way. Every prefabricated home is constructed through 100 percent renewable energy and is made almost entirely with local, U.S. building materials. The company also continuously works to reduce its own energy consumption while helping homeowners reduce theirs as well, with homes that exceed the energy code by at least 30 percent. Construction is a wasteful practice as we know, but it doesn’t have to be. Prefabrication is one of the top ways to reduce waste in homebuilding, not to mention it leads to faster building times — this way, your family can move into your dream home in no time. Deltec Homes’ prefabrication building techniques actually divert more than 80 percent of construction waste from our landfills, leaving the planet a cleaner place. Having proved that building for a better planet is possible, Deltec notes that its vision is to change the way the world builds. “We’ve been doing this for over 50 years. It’s hard for this industry to adapt to the changing world, but it’s crucial for future generations that we rise to the challenge of standing up to climate change,” Linton said. Reducing energy usage and choosing renewable energy sources One of the biggest impacts on the climate is energy usage. Relying on fossil fuels to power, heat and cool a home can quickly increase your family’s carbon footprint and drain the planet of its resources. Unfortunately, this means future generations will suffer the consequences. But if you are looking to build a sustainable home, Deltec Homes will work with you to design and build one that will last your family for years to come without sacrificing planetary health. Each Deltec home is, on average, 55 percent more energy efficient than traditional homes . This is in part to stringent airtightness, which prevents harsh winds (both hot and cold air, depending on the season) from entering the structure. Deltec Homes boasts structures that are three to five times more airtight than traditional new construction. Similarly, Deltec Homes emphasizes passive design, which means you won’t need to rely much on the furnace or the air conditioner. Instead, your home will naturally maintain a comfortable temperature year-round. If you want to further future-proof your home, you can also consult with Deltec Homes regarding renewable energy systems, energy-efficient lighting and appliances, LEED Certification and even the Zero Energy Ready Home program , which meets energy efficiency, water use reduction and indoor air quality goals. Deltec Homes works with each client personally to help them meet their sustainability goals and even encourage them to do more in giving back to the planet. “We have a dedicated sustainability manager who spends a large part of her time listening to customer goals and also offering suggestions on the latest tech to achieve those goals,” Linton explained. The team speaks with clients about how to “build a high-performance home and put renewable energy in today, or design to add [renewable energy] 5 years from now.” According to Linton, they use this consulting to get clients to think about the future and how to make their homes continue to fight against climate change. “What we try to do when working with a customer is to encourage them to think about their home in the future and for it to perform in a way that makes a difference, from reducing energy use and carbon to withstanding storms. We want to help people prioritize what they want to do in their home, so that together, we can change the way the world builds.” To learn more about Deltec Homes, you can schedule a call, attend an event or receive a free informational magazine here . + Deltec Homes Images via Deltec Homes

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Building homes that fight against climate change

Bioclimatic design creates a highly efficient and healthy home in Spain

November 20, 2019 by  
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Spain’s Rías Baixas area is a picturesque part of the country. Now, in this idyllic region sits a highly energy-efficient home designed by local firm ARKKE . The architects incorporated several bioclimatic features into the design, taking advantage of the local climate and landscape to help reduce the building’s energy use. The Small Bioclimatic House is a compact, two-bedroom home that sits elevated on a steep hill side overlooking the Ría de Arousa, the largest estuary in Galicia. The area is known for its picturesque landscape dotted with quaint fishing villages, so the architects wanted to create an energy-efficient home that harmonizes with the surroundings and complements the existing vernacular. Related: Brazilian timber home uses bioclimatic principles to reduce its environmental footprint The home is just over 900 square feet and is surrounded by natural landscaping. According to the architects, the layout and size of the house was inspired by the limited building space as well as the stunning views. The firm explained, “The essential premise of the commission was to design a small, highly efficient and healthy house capable of making the most of a very narrow plot but with delicious views of the Arosa estuary.” The architects created a simple, one-story design with two bedrooms, a living room, an open kitchen and a bathroom. The front wall is comprised of floor-to-ceiling windows that open up to a front deck; this helps the family to enjoy optimal natural light as well as unobstructed views year-round. To create a strong thermal envelope for the home, the architects chose to build with CLT . The porch extends laterally, forming eaves that shade the interiors from direct solar radiation, again reducing the home’s energy use. Additionally, the entire envelope has been insulated with a unique exterior insulation system (SATE) to withstand both the region’s frigid winters and the searing summer months. + ARKKE Via ArchDaily Images via ARKKE

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Bioclimatic design creates a highly efficient and healthy home in Spain

Research raises animal welfare concerns over "humanely" raised turkeys

November 18, 2019 by  
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While many meat eaters don’t want to think about the actual slaughter of a turkey, they might comfort themselves with the thought that their Thanksgiving dinner was humanely raised. Think again. The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) has just released a new report showing that poultry producers are deceiving customers by making unfounded animal welfare and environmental claims. The report used Freedom of Information Act requests to procure the USDA’s label approval files, then analyzed them for supporting evidence regarding these claims. Unfortunately, things haven’t improved since the AWI petitioned the USDA in 2014 to require third-party certification of animal welfare in order to earn the “humane” label. Related: Is your Thanksgiving turkey putting your family’s health at risk? “The system is easily manipulated by producers who want to make higher welfare claims on their packages and charge a premium without improving the treatment of animals raised under their care,” said Erin Sutherland, staff attorney for AWI’s farm animal program. “Because of the USDA ’s lack of oversight, consumers are often thwarted in their attempts to use labels to guide their food-buying decisions.” In its new report, the AWI evaluated label approvals for claims like “humanely raised,” “free raised” and “sustainably farmed” on 19 poultry and meat products. The AWI concluded that the USDA failed to enforce labeling standards and that producers’ definitions were often vague and irrelevant. Using its own scoring tool, the AWI gave 12 of 23 claims an F score. Two turkey product lines, Diestel Turkey Ranch Organic Turkey Products and Empire Kosher Natural Ground White Turkey, fared slightly better with D grades. The AWI pointed out that the current label approval process harms honest farmers , because producers who make false claims can undercut them by selling inhumanely raised turkeys disguised as humanely raised at lower prices. Part of the problem is that the USDA doesn’t visit farms to see if practices conform to the claims made on labels. Instead, the USDA relies on information about animal treatment provided by the producers themselves. It’s ironic that while meat producers lobby against “deceptive” fake meat labeling, they’re practicing some fakery of their own. + Animal Welfare Institute Image via SJ Baren

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Research raises animal welfare concerns over "humanely" raised turkeys

Sigurd Larsen unveils a stunning prefab home in the Austrian Alps

November 18, 2019 by  
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Prefab design offers an infinite number of benefits, but it is especially useful when constructing in extreme landscapes and climates. Danish architect Sigurd Larsen has almost entirely relied on prefabrication to construct the Mountain House, an incredible family home nestled deep into the spectacular, mountainous landscape of the Austrian Alps. The Mountain House is a beautiful home that blends seamlessly into its surroundings. An elongated volume with a pitched roof, the structure cantilevers over the landscape’s natural slope, creating the perfect height to take in unobstructed views of the stunning mountainside. Related: Sigurd Larsen adds the ultimate grown up playhouse to Berlin’s Hotel Michelberger The two-level home’s walls and roof were prefabricated in a factory before they were assembled on-site. This decision was strategic to not only reduce costs and construction time but also the overall efficiency of the project. Building in the remote landscape of the alps is nearly impossible during the cold winter months, so using a heated factory to manufacture the components helped to facilitate the project on various levels. In fact, once the materials were delivered to the site, the exterior was constructed in just 12 hours. Clad in locally sourced larch timber stained a dark gray, the mountain home is chic and sophisticated, and it emits a welcoming cabin feel inside and out. The bottom floor is clad in floor-to-ceiling panels. These glazed facades allow for the family to feel a strong connection to the natural setting. Additionally, the home boasts an open-air deck that is covered by the upper floor, creating a serene outdoor place to enjoy the views and fresh mountain air. Throughout the interior , natural wood is used for the flooring and the walls, again creating a natural, minimalist living space. Keeping the focus on the views, the furnishings are sparse and space-efficient. The architects called on local woodcutters to create several pieces of built-in furniture, such as a kitchen bench and a wooden staircase. + Sigurd Larsen Via Architectural Digest Photography by Christian Flatscher via Sigurd Larsen

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Sigurd Larsen unveils a stunning prefab home in the Austrian Alps

10 vegan myths, debunked

November 18, 2019 by  
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Vegans and vegetarians are often the target of jokes, scorn, concern and/or fear by a majority culture that routinely consumes animals. The upcoming holidays are a prime time for omnivorous family members and friends to heckle a loved one who is vegan while brandishing a turkey leg or Christmas pudding. So, just in time for those awkward holiday encounters with family, here are 10 vegan myths, debunked. Tucson-based Alison Ozgur , registered dietitian at Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa and an instructor for the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies , kindly assisted with her solid nutritional knowledge. Vegans don’t get enough protein. Every vegetarian and vegan has heard this approximately a gazillion times. “This is a common myth that needs to be eliminated,” Ozgur said. “Here in the United States, we have never had a protein shortage, and the sad truth is, protein is being unnecessarily added to many foods. Vegetables, fruits and grains all have ample amounts of protein for optimal health and achieving a healthy body weight.” If you’re consuming enough calories, she said, you’re getting enough protein. Vegans can’t get calcium without dairy. The dairy industry has long campaigned to convince Americans we will keel over if we don’t guzzle milk. Not true, said Ozgur. “Yes, dairy products contain calcium, but they can also contain artery-clogging saturated fat, cholesterol and contaminants. Fortunately, plant-based foods are a healthier option.” She recommends leafy greens like kale, mustard greens, collard greens and Swiss chard as well as legumes, broccoli, organic soy foods — such as tempeh and tofu — almonds and calcium-fortified plant-based milks. It’s too expensive to be vegan. Those turmeric smoothies, packaged organic kale chips and meals in upscale vegan restaurants can certainly break the bank. “Eating vegan can be expensive,” Ozgur explained. “However, the cost of treatment for chronic disease is far more expensive. A diet rich in nutrient-dense, whole plant foods is our first line of defense for disease prevention and reversal.” That said, if you forego the prepackaged options and buy staple dry foods like bulk beans, lentils and oats, you’ll save money. Many vegetables, such as carrots and cabbage, are also inexpensive. All vegans are white. If this were true, you wouldn’t find websites like Black Vegans Rock or celebrations like the Vegan SoulFest . Activist Aph Ko, founder of Black Vegans Rock , raised awareness about the many vegans of color by publishing a list of 100 prominent black vegans in 2015. Vegans of color also own vegan restaurants and write vegan cookbooks, just like white vegans, but with roots of their own. Non-white vegan traditions include Rastafarians in Jamaica, Jainism in India and the part-time veganism of Ethiopia ’s fasting season. All vegans are hippies. Depending on who you ask, being called a hippie could be an insult or a compliment. The Merriam-Webster dictionary offers a more objective definition, “a usually young person who rejects the mores of established society (as by dressing unconventionally or favoring communal living) and advocates a nonviolent ethic. Broadly: a long-haired unconventionally dressed young person.” So, if we’re talking about vegans in a society dominated by meat -eaters, there’s some truth in this myth. Vegans are rejecting mores of the established society and advocating nonviolence, at least against farm animals. As for being young, dressing unconventionally, living communally, having long hair or, as found in other online definitions of hippies, taking hallucinogenic drugs, we’d need to evaluate vegans on a case-by-case basis. Vegans are weak. You’d better not say that to Bryant Jennings, pro boxer, or karate expert Tammy Fry Kelly — they just might take you out. Then, there are the vegan charismatic megafauna, like gorillas and elephants . “There is no shortage of athletes and fitness enthusiasts who thrive on a vegan diet,” Ozgur said. “Plant-based foods can speed up muscle recovery time and decrease inflammation due to their high amount of antioxidants and phytonutrients.” She recommends the documentary movie Game Changers to see just how strong vegans can be. If I went vegan, I’d always be hungry/tired/sick. Not true, as long as you’re eating enough. “ If you decrease your daily calorie intake to below your body’s requirement, indeed you will be hungry, tired, sick and eventually dead,” Ozgur explained. “Choosing a colorful variety of whole plant foods nourishes your body and cells, thus increasing your immunity and longevity. Chronic inflammation is linked to a variety of diseases, and numerous studies have confirmed that a plant-rich diet high in fiber is beneficial for disease prevention.” If everybody went vegan, cows and pigs would go extinct. What would happen if every paddock door was opened — if all the chickens pecking each other’s eyes out in tiny cages were freed; if farmed fish were tossed into rivers? Would sheep starve? Would hogs take over the world? “Billions of farm animals would no longer be destined for our dinner plates, and if we couldn’t return them to the wild, they might be slaughtered, abandoned or taken care of in sanctuaries,” journalist Paul Allen wrote on BBC’s Good Food website. “Or, more realistically, farmers might slow down breeding as demand for meat falls.” Allen theorized that the number of returned animal populations would fluctuate, then eventually reach a balance, depending on predators and available resources. “It’s worth noting that not all animals could simply ‘go free.’ Some farm breeds, such as broiler chickens, are now so far removed from their ancestors that they couldn’t survive in the wild. Others, like pigs and sheep, could feasibly return to woodlands and grazing pastures and find their own natural population levels.” Plants feel pain, too, so it’s just as bad to eat them. According to Jack C. Schultz, professor in the Division of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri in Columbia, plants “are just very slow animals.” They fight for territory, seek food, trap prey and evade predators, he said. It’s possible they feel pain, too, despite lacking a central nervous system, nerves or a brain. However, is it as unkind to eat a tomato as a cow? Everybody draws the line somewhere. For some people, all non-human animals are fair game. Many others think it’s okay to eat a cow but not a dog or cat. Vegans just draw that line even higher. As the PETA website points out, “We have to eat — it’s a matter of survival. And eating plants directly — rather than feeding them to animals and then killing those animals for their flesh — requires far fewer plants and doesn’t hurt animals, who, we already know for sure , feel pain.” If men eat tofu, they’ll grow breasts. Ozgur assured this won’t happen. “There is no valid medical evidence supporting men increasing breast size from eating soy foods,” she said. “This myth surfaced over 10 years ago when a man was diagnosed with gynecomastia from drinking three quarts of soy milk per day. Upon discontinuing his soy milk intake, his breast tenderness resolved. Asian men consume soy daily, yet do not experience gynecomastia.” Ozgur recommends choosing organic whole soy foods and avoiding soy protein isolates or fractionated soy ingredients. Images via Shutterstock and Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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10 vegan myths, debunked

This versatile, waterproof parka is made with recycled PET bottles

November 18, 2019 by  
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Oftentimes, less is more — like when you can carry a coin purse instead of a weighty bag. When it comes to coats and jackets, choosing a light-yet-durable option is best, so you don’t find yourself in a mummy-tight arctic coat when all you really need is a lightweight, waterproof shell. That is where the Maium Lightweight Parka comes in to play. Of course, we’re all about sustainability, so while having the right jacket for the job is ideal, it’s even better when that jacket is also kind to the environment. The Maium Lightweight Parka fits the bill here, too. As with all Maium raincoats, the Lightweight Parka is made using recycled PET bottles — and we all know that diverting plastic out of landfills is a good move. Maium ensures all of its jackets are also manufactured under fair, safe and healthy working conditions. Related: Labo Mono turns plastic water bottles into Urban Jackets for cycling and everyday use Even when you want to support companies that keep sustainability in mind, the products should still live up to your expectations. Enter the versatility, convenience and great design of Maium Lightweight Parkas. The Maium Lightweight Parka is, of course, lightweight. That makes it easy to haul around from weekend sporting events to thousand-mile backpacking treks along the Pacific Crest Trail. In addition to being light, it packs down into a compressed size for easy storage and retrieval. For versatility, the parka has adjustable cuffs to fit a variety of wrist sizes and to accommodate bulky, long-sleeve clothing underneath. The waist and hood can also be adjusted. Plus, side zippers easily convert the parka into a poncho, which is especially convenient when you need the maneuverability to ride a bike. The newly released Maium Lightweight Parka is available for men and women in three color options: black, army green or iridescent. It retails for 155 euros (approximately $170). + Maium Images via Maium

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This versatile, waterproof parka is made with recycled PET bottles

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