Fostering and adopting pets during the pandemic

April 13, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Fostering and adopting pets during the pandemic

As COVID-19 sweeps the U.S., animal shelters have seen an upswing of interest as more animal lovers adopt or foster pets. While some people don’t want to add to the chaos of a quarantined household, others recognize this as a perfect time to bring home a furry friend. “I think it’s particularly timely because of the isolation of people,” said Nat Hardy, founding dean of Arts & Humanities at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. He recently adopted Buddy Twain from a Hannibal, Missouri shelter. Buddy’s surname honors Mark Twain, also from Hannibal. “Being closed in, you’ve got the time to bond. You have more patience and the time to do it.” Related: 7 ways to be a sustainable pet owner The pandemic has caused a spike in both animal adoptions and fosters, in part due to shelters sending out desperate emails asking people to step up and help these homeless pets. And the public responded. A recent call for emergency fosters by the Animal Care Centers of New York City received more 3,500 applications. The Humane Society of the U.S. has asked that states declare animal shelters essential services, but governmental response has varied and many shelters have temporarily closed. Others have drastically scaled back on services. Some employees have even made emergency plans to shelter in place inside the animal shelters, if necessary, for up to a month, to care for the pets. So every animal safely placed in a private home is one fewer for shelter workers to worry about. Adopting vs. fostering While adopting is forever, fostering means providing a temporary home for a shelter animal. “Fostering helps animals who are not yet ready for adoption have a home environment to heal and grow,” said Laura Klink, public information manager at the Oregon Humane Society. “During the current pandemic, fostering is even more critical as many shelters have stopped adoptions and have limited staff to care for the animals. At OHS, foster parents are helping some of our pets who need medical care , behavior help and to free up space in the shelter so we can be ready to respond to our community’s needs.” For people suddenly quarantined at home, fostering can be a wonderful way to help give stressed animals a break from noisy shelters. It makes sense to foster rather than adopt if the pandemic has brought your life to a sudden halt. Those who usually work 12-hour days in an office might be suited to fostering while working at home. If you can’t commit long-term, consider fostering rather than adopting; shelters don’t want to see a huge surge in post-pandemic returns of adopted pets . What does it take to be a good foster parent? Klink explained it is important to consider your environment. “Do you have other pets in the home?” she asked. “Are there young children in the home? Do you have a spare bedroom or bathroom where you can separate your foster pets?” You also need to ask yourself how comfortable you are managing medical and behavioral issues. Adoption by appointment Gone are the days — at least for now — of stopping by shelters and spending unhurried time with possible candidates for your new pet. Now, the shelters that remain open offer adoption by appointment. It’s more of a gamble to peruse online listings, pick a pet and make that fateful appointment, but sometimes it turns out to be a perfect match. Hardy had been thinking about adopting a dog anyway, since Stephens is such a pet-friendly campus, where both students and faculty bring their pets to school. With the quarantine looming, the emails from rescue shelters spurred him to action. He started looking online. “I finally found Buddy in a Hannibal Missouri rescue shelter. I saw his mug shot from the shelter, and he looked like quite a character.” He applied to adopt the orange dog — who he guesses might be a year or two old, and possibly a retriever/Irish setter mix — and made the 90-minute drive to Hannibal. “We’ve been together ever since. He doesn’t like me leaving out of his sight. I think he was in the shelter a long time. So now he’s totally living the dream.” Resources for fostering and adopting Foster families and individuals should have some experience with pet care. But even if you’ve had dogs and cats all of your life, you might need help. “Fostering is very rewarding but can also be challenging and stressful,” Klink said. “It’s important to ask for help and advice since you don’t know these animals like you know your own pets. Foster parents are truly a lifeline for shelter pets.” Whether you’re fostering or adopting a new pet into its forever home, you can find resources online. Petco Foundation , a national nonprofit animal welfare organization, offers educational livestreams from a team of experts. You can virtually attend a cat and kitten Q&A session, or help your new canine get into a happy routine with positive dog training. Petco Foundation even suggestions fashionable fosters to follow on Instagram. The ASPCA is another digital treasure trove with many pet care articles. Images via Tatiane Vasconcelos Taty , Fuzzy Rescue , Madeline Hardy and Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

Here is the original post: 
Fostering and adopting pets during the pandemic

How to make milk alternatives at home

April 8, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on How to make milk alternatives at home

Milk alternatives have become a booming industry. More and more people are choosing plant-based milk alternatives because they can be healthier. These options are also cruelty-free and better for the planet. Plus, in these times when grocery store offerings are sparse, non-dairy milks — or at least the ingredients to make them — are often more readily available and shelf-stable. Here are some tips for making your own milk alternatives , such as oat milk, almond milk, coconut milk and more. Types of plant-based milk Grocery stores typically carry a wide variety of milk substitutes: soy, almond, cashew, hazelnut, oat, rice, coconut, pea-protein and even flax seed. But homemade varieties can be healthier, and during a pandemic when it is hard to come across any milk — vegan or otherwise — making your own plant-based milk could be your only option. Related: How to choose the healthiest, most sustainable milk alternative Advantages of making your own plant-based milk Despite the popularity of brand names, sometimes making homemade non-dairy milk is preferred over store-bought. Consider how COVID-19 has made shopping in the age of social distancing a challenge. Besides, making homemade plant-based milk can save money. You can also control the consistency, flavor and sweetness of the non-dairy milk you make, avoiding unnecessary additives, like oils, thickeners and xantham gum. Homemade milk alternatives also allow you to tailor your recipes for any dietary restrictions. How to make most milk alternatives First, choose your ingredient. If you prefer soy milk, select organic , non-GMO soybeans, as suggested by One Green Planet . For nut milk, select your organic, non-GMO nut of choice, making sure they are raw. The same can be applied to oat, rice, coconut, pea and seeds (sesame or sunflower). These ingredients can all be sourced either online, at stores like Whole Foods or Sprouts or from a local farmer. Thoroughly rinse 2 cups of your ingredient of choice, whether dry soybeans or raw nuts, for example, then let them soak overnight in 5 to 6 cups of water. The next day, remove them from soaking. Discard the water and rinse off the soybeans (or nuts). Next, remove the skins (skip this step if the ingredient of choice has no skins). Add the soybeans (or nuts) to about 6 cups of water in a blender, and blend until smooth. Related: Is almond milk bad for the environment? After blending, strain the blended mixture via a muslin, cheesecloth or fine nut milk bag. Note that twisting permits the squeezing out of more milk from the pulp. After ringing out as much milk as you can, either discard the soybean pulp (in a compost bin) or save the nut pulp. Nut pulp can be frozen for later use in smoothies, pancake batters, oatmeal or granola. Next, place the strained milk in a pot or saucepan. Remember, adding more water determines the thickness and consistency of your milk. For instance, you may add about 1 cup of water to the mixture, or more if you prefer a thinner milk. Bring the mixture to a boil, while frequently stirring to avoid sticking. When at a boil, reduce to medium heat and continue heating or cooking the milk for up to 20 minutes. Make sure to continue to stir often. After the 20-minute span, cool the milk to room temperature. For added taste, stir in cocoa powder, honey or cinnamon while serving. If you want your entire batch of milk to have added flavor, place all of the liquid into a blender and mix in vanilla extract, honey, dates, berries or other fruit. How to make oat milk For oat milk , there is no need for overnight soaking. Rather, you can choose to either soak for just 30 minutes before draining and then blending, as recommended by the Simple Vegan Blog . Or, you can just immediately blend together 1 cup of rolled oats in 4 cups of water for about 30 to 45 seconds before straining. Why under 1 minute? Over-blending can make the oat milk seem slimy in texture, as observed by the Minimalist Baker . Another important adjustment is not boiling nor heating the milk mixture after straining from the pulp — heating will lead to a slimy texture, too. Note that nut milk bags might not work for oats, so try a fine mesh strainer instead. Some folks even go so far as to use a towel or clean T-shirt to strain the milk out of the pulp. How to make coconut milk For coconut milk, the Minimalist Baker recommends using 2 cups of shredded unsweetened coconut. Once you’ve acquired your coconut, blend it in 3 to 4 cups of water, noting that for thicker, creamier milk, less water is best. You’ll still strain the milk with a thin cloth, cheesecloth, nut milk bag or fine mesh strainer. Again, the pulp can be saved for future baking purposes. No need for heating of the strained milk either, just seal in a tight container in the refrigerator. Should you see separation after removing this milk from the refrigerator, simply shake it before use. How to make pea or seed milks For pea milk, Nutramilk follows the same basic methods described above, except there’s no need to boil or heat the strained milk, either. Moreover, pea pulp can be saved for soups or as an added ingredient in just about any dinner recipe. Regarding seeds, Nest and Glow says they must be soaked overnight, but there’s little need to extract skins or boiling the milk. Because they are smaller, their blend time need only be 2 to 3 minutes until finely ground. How to store homemade milk Store your homemade soy, nut, seed or oat milk in an airtight bottle within your refrigerator. It should be good for up to 3 days. Hoping to preserve the milk for longer? Your homemade, plant-based milk can be kept in the freezer for 3 to 5 months. After thawing it, you can choose to also use this homemade milk as a dairy substitute for cooking or baking. Images via Unsplash and Adobe Stock

View original here:
How to make milk alternatives at home

The Nature Conservancys Oregon HQ gets a green renovation

April 8, 2020 by  
Filed under Green

Comments Off on The Nature Conservancys Oregon HQ gets a green renovation

Portland-based LEVER Architecture has breathed new life into The Nature Conservancy’s Oregon headquarters with a LEED Gold-targeted renovation. Completed in 2019, the refreshed headquarters has received a much-needed facelift constructed from sustainably harvested materials as well as a new addition topped with a roof garden. Beautiful and sustainable, the addition is also one of the first buildings in the nation to be built of domestically fabricated cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Built in the 1970s, The Nature Conservancy’s Oregon headquarters was formerly defined by dark and introverted offices as well as a lack of sizable meeting and event space. To better meet the needs of the highly collaborative organization, LEVER Architecture expanded the building footprint to 15,000 square feet and introduced new open-plan layouts, meeting rooms of varying sizes and a staff cafe and lounge. The Nature Conservancy’s mission of environmental stewardship has also been proudly showcased through updates to the exterior facade and landscaping. Related: Metal-clad Treehouse for “no-commute lifestyles” mimics Portland’s forests The new landscaping that surrounds the building on all sides evokes three types of habitats across Oregon: the Rowena Plateau, Cascade-Siskiyou and forests of western hemlock and cedar. The connection to nature is strengthened by the use of juniper and cedar siding, materials that were sustainably harvested from The Nature Conservancy’s conservation sites. The weathering steel that wraps around the upper portions of the new addition and main building will develop a handsome patina over time to further blend the building into its surroundings. In addition to a sustainable renovation and expansion, the architects have introduced new energy-saving and -generating systems. New rooftop solar panels on the main building produce 25% of the headquarters’ energy needs, while efficient fixtures and building systems reduce electric consumption by 54% and water consumption by 44%. All stormwater is captured and managed on-site. Low-tech passive strategies, such as daylighting and operable windows for natural ventilation, also help cut down the building’s energy demands. + LEVER Architecture Photos by Jeremy Bittermann and Lara Swimmer via LEVER Architecture

Go here to read the rest: 
The Nature Conservancys Oregon HQ gets a green renovation

Solar-powered innovation center targets LEED Gold in Toronto

April 8, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on Solar-powered innovation center targets LEED Gold in Toronto

Sustainability, indigenous culture and contemporary design come together in Perkins and Will’s design for the new $85 million Centre for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE) at Seneca College’s Newnham Campus. Created in collaboration with the First Peoples@Seneca Office, the LEED Gold-targeted building features indigenous-led design and services, such as counseling and financial aid, as part of Seneca’s commitment to the Indigenous Education Protocol. In addition to cultural responsiveness, CITE is home to state-of-the-art engineering and robotics labs as well as an entrepreneurial incubator for students and industry leaders. Located on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the 274,000-square-foot CITE building integrates messaging about indigenous teachings and history throughout, from the punctuated terracotta panels lining the facade that reference Anishinaabe birchbark ‘memory chests’ to the vibrant, indigenous-inspired interior artwork. The relationship between these Indigenous stories with the building’s academic programs are visualized in eight graphic murals created in collaboration with design firm Bruce Mau Design that include a hoop dance, a pow wow, DNA sequencing and a map of the Internet. Related: Perkins + Will’s KTTC building blends beauty and sustainability in Ontario To achieve LEED Gold standards, Perkins and Will wrapped the building in glass to promote reliance on natural light rather than artificial sources. The facade’s punctuated terracotta boxes as well as the south-facing structural colonnade — held up by 13 columns representative of the 13 moons of the lunar cycle — help deflect unwanted solar gain. CITE also features a building integrated solar array, stormwater management cisterns, a biodiverse landscape design, locally sourced, recycled materials wherever possible and increased use of FSC-certified wood finishes for lowered embodied carbon. “CITE presented the perfect opportunity to show how Indigenous knowledge can guide post-secondary education. To provide a more sustainable vision for future innovation, we paired themes like the Internet, space exploration and coding with Indigenous knowledge spanning seven generations,” said Andrew Frontini, principal and design director at Perkins and Will’s Toronto studio. “We organized the structural order of the building elements of the building to support these theme. As you walk through CITE, you encounter overlapping Indigenous and technological stories that initially might speak to different audiences, but over time our hope is that they merge together as one.” + Perkins and Will Images by doublespace photography

Read more:
Solar-powered innovation center targets LEED Gold in Toronto

Whats causing the decline in monarch butterfly populations?

March 27, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Whats causing the decline in monarch butterfly populations?

Monarch butterflies  are amongst North America’s majestic wildlife. They fascinate with their vibrant allure and migratory prowess. Yet these beauties are under serious threat, as evidenced by drastic population reduction throughout North America. What factors are causing monarch butterfly numbers to dwindle? Habitat loss For monarchs,  habitat  entails food, water and shelter, says the  National Wildlife Federation (NWF)  and the  World Wildlife Fund (WWF) . Specific to monarchs is their habitat corridor, a trek of thousands of miles from Central America’s warm regions, where they overwinter, to areas across the United States and southern Canada, where they stay for spring and summer.  In recent decades, population surveys reveal monarchs declining because of  deforestation  in Mexico, loss of grasslands in the Great Plains’ Corn Belt — which the  Center for Biological Diversity  calls “the heart of the monarch’s range” — and loss of native milkweed plants in the U.S. Such habitat losses negatively impact monarch populations as they breed, migrate and overwinter.   Habitat loss  stems mainly from the deforestation of overwintering areas,  climate change ‘s fluctuating weather patterns, developmental sprawl, plus the conversion of U.S. grasslands into ranches and farmlands. This conversion to farmland for corn and soy has spurred the Center for Biological Diversity’s admonishment against the overuse of  herbicides . These harmful chemicals poison a key player in monarch habitats, their host plant, the milkweed.  Problems with milkweed Milkweed is vital to monarchs. They are host plants, upon which females lay eggs. Once hatched, caterpillars enjoy milkweed as a food source while they grow and develop into adulthood, a process that happens in the first month of a monarch’s lifespan. And, as adults, the  butterflies  feed on milkweed nectar. Several generations of offspring spawn on milkweed during spring and summer months before migration to overwintering sites even begins. According to the NWF, “Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on the leaves of milkweed, the only host plant for this iconic butterfly species. As such, milkweed is critical for the survival of monarchs. Without it, they cannot complete their life cycle and their  populations  decline.” Interestingly, milkweed has the toxin cardenolide, which accumulates in caterpillars feeding on milkweed . When these caterpillars become adults, the cardenolides remain, protecting them from predation. Birds and predators veer away, signaled off by the toxin’s presence in the monarchs’ bright wings. Unfortunately, milkweed loss is increasing in the destabilized landscape. Milkweed has lost considerable ground to urbanization, shifting land management practices, climate change and even herbicide misuse, like that of Roundup.  Alarming still are reports by  Science  magazine and  Entomology Today  that well-meaning gardeners have been planting the wrong species of milkweed. There are over 100 milkweed species, and not all are good for monarchs. Sadly, the tropical milkweed species  Asclepias curassavica  is heavily marketed because it is easier to obtain. But this invasive species is not well-suited for monarchs, yet remains the species good-intentioned gardeners are planting rather than the native milkweed species the monarchs are better adapted to. This invasive milkweed is now recognized by the  Ecological Society of America  as an ecological trap for monarch butterflies.     What dangers do these “wrong” species of milkweed pose for monarchs? For one, they harbor parasites, such as the protozoan parasite  Ophryocystis elektroscirrha  (OE), that are harmful to the monarch butterfly. These parasites debilitate monarchs, weakening them via “wing deformities, smaller body size, reduced flight performance, and shorter adult lifespans,” Entomology Today explained. Should these issues with milkweed persist unmitigated, their repercussions would continue to exacerbate the monarch butterfly population crisis.    Pesticide, insecticide and fungicide misuse While media attention has spotlighted herbicides as a culprit, equally important is the fact that monarch butterflies are also vulnerable to  pesticides ,  neonicotinoid  insecticides and fungicides. For instance, a Purdue University Department of Entomology  study , published last summer 2019 in  Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution , revealed that non-target pesticides, insecticides and fungicides have wreaked havoc on monarch butterflies, even at their larval stage. As the study elucidated, “agricultural intensification and a corresponding rise in pesticide use has been an  environmental  concern” that adversely affects beneficial  pollinators , like the monarch butterfly. Exposure to these pesticides, insecticides and fungicides, can be from “direct contact with contaminated surfaces or spray droplets, residues remaining on the soil, and consumption via food resources such as leaves, nectar or pollen.” Just as vexing are pesticides, insecticides and fungicides “applied by aircraft.” The study emphasized the “evidence of lower abundance and/or diversity of butterflies.” Climate change The  WWF  affirms that “monarchs are highly sensitive to  weather  and climate. They depend on environmental cues (temperature in particular) to trigger reproduction, migration, and hibernation.” Their decline is also attributed to “the effects of an increasing frequency of extreme weather events such as drought and severe storms, and extremes in hot and cold temperatures.” No wonder then that the  Environmental Defense Fund ‘s Director of Conservation Studies, David Wolfe, has lamented that “The iconic and beloved North American monarch butterfly is one of the species that has difficulty adjusting to our new climate-stressed world. Its population has declined 95 percent in the last 20 years Yet another way  climate  change adversely affects monarch butterflies is by disrupting their migration. These butterflies can travel between 50 and 100 miles a day, but when extreme weather sets in during  migration , the entire cluster or roost is vulnerable.  “Every year, a new generation of these butterflies follows the same path forged by generations before them. The only thing guiding them on this migration is temperature telling them when they need to travel – like a biological trigger setting them in flight,” Wolfe explained. “But in recent years, the monarch’s fall south migration from Canada has been delayed by as much as six weeks due to warmer-than-normal temperatures that failed to trigger the butterflies’ instincts to move south. By the time the temperature cooled enough to trigger the migration, it’s been too cold in the Midwest and many monarchs died on their trip south.” Even more worrisome, the  Xerces Society , a nonprofit environmental group focused on invertebrates, has reported that warmer temperatures from climate change increase the toxicity of tropical milkweed by increasing cardenolide concentrations. Monarch caterpillars are only tolerant up to a threshold.  EcoWatch  explained, “warmer temperatures increase the cardenolides in  A. curassavica  [the tropical milkweed species] to the point where they poison monarch larvae, delaying larval growth and stunting adult forewings. Native milkweed is not similarly impacted.” Hence, as  invasive  milkweed persists, they further harm monarch populations as temperatures rise in our current  climate crisis .  Diseases, parasites and fungal pathogens Emory University  emphasizes that climate change affects pathogen development, parasite survival rates, disease transmission processes. What would monarch populations be susceptible to? Bacterial and viral infections — like bacillus thuringiensis (BT), pseudomonas, the nuclear polyhedrosis virus (NPV) — are not unheard of, often turning an infected caterpillar or chrysalis into a darkened or black hue. Parasite attacks can come from tachinid flies or wasps (chalcid, trichogramma). Plus, fungal pathogens in the genus  Cordyceps  also attack. Each of these factors cause harm to monarch butterfly populations.

Go here to read the rest:
Whats causing the decline in monarch butterfly populations?

Wisconsin’s hidden eco-wellness hotspot

March 24, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

Comments Off on Wisconsin’s hidden eco-wellness hotspot

Madison,  Wisconsin  is defined by water. It’s only one of two cities in the US built on an isthmus (the other is Seattle), and it has five lakes. The population of just over a quarter million is overwhelmingly young and educated, thanks to the massive University of Wisconsin. Mad City is one of the Midwest’s more progressive places and regularly features on “best of” lists. But you have to be tough to live here. Winter temperatures regularly dive below freezing, while summer temperatures often top 90 degrees. Outdoor activities in Madison Madison’s outdoor recreation revolves around its lakes. If you like kayaking , stand up paddleboarding or water skiing, you’re in luck. This is also a place to try more extreme water sports, such as wakeboarding, kiteboarding and flyboarding (where water can propel you almost 50 feet in the air). Those who are looking for something more contemplative will enjoy a trip to  Olbrich Botanical Garden . The 16 acres look their best in spring and summer, but even in winter you can enjoy orchids blooming in the sun-filled glass Bolz Conservatory. The garden’s 30-foot high Thai pavilion was a gift from the Thai royal family. The red lacquer and gold leaf structure was built in  Thailand , shipped by sea, rail and truck to Madison, then reassembled by Thai artisans without using screws or nails. At the  UW Madison Arboretum , you can meander through woodlands, wetlands, savannas and restored prairies on more than 17 miles of  trails . You can also see rare effigy mounds built more than 1,000 years ago. The arboretum features events like fungi workshops and expert-led nature walks. In the winter, it’s a popular place to snowshoe and cross-country ski. Wellness in Madison The Garver Feed Mill building is the latest wellness star in the Madison scene. After the US  Sugar  Company constructed this brick behemoth in 1906 for beet sugar processing, it became known as the Sugar Castle because of its dramatic arched gothic windows. Later it was a factory for formulating livestock feed, before sitting derelict for a couple of decades. But just last November, it reopened as a spectacularly popular event space, site of the farmers’ market during winter, and home of wellness providers and artisan food makers. The whole building is gorgeous, with lots of exposed brick walls, big windows and chandeliers. For the perfect wellness-focused day at Garver, take a class at  Perennial Yoga , eat a healthy meal at plant-based Surya Café, then visit  Kosa Wellness Spa & Retreat  to relax in the steam room and sauna or to get an Ayurvedic treatment.  “Something society doesn’t afford us is quiet and space,” said owner Shilpa Sankaran, who aspires to provide Madison with just that. “Where do you hear your own voice? That’s where the remedy lives, in our own knowing.” She sources most of her spa products from Wisconsin and has a special interest in supporting women in business. Women in  India  who have escaped sex trafficking manufacture the spa’s robes. I especially liked how they left some of the more attractive graffiti in place on the treatment room walls from the years that squatters filled the building. If art uplifts you, the  Chazen Museum of Art  on the UW campus houses lots of work by famous artists, including Miro, Picasso, and Louise Nevelson, plus interesting installations by UW art faculty. This big  museum  is free and well worth visiting. Dining out in Madison Madison is an easy town for vegetarians and  vegans . The  Green Owl Café , Madison’s first all-veg restaurant, is a cheerful and comfortable hangout spot for bowls, veggie burgers, vegan wings and vegan desserts like lava cake and coconut cream pie.  Surya Cafe , in the Garver Feed Mill, features more adventurous — some might say startling — combinations, such as a curried cauliflower waffle with maple-cumin kale and mango jalapeno sauce. Himal Chuli serves Nepali food, with several veggie and tofu-based options. The roti is so excellent I ordered a second serving.  Ian’s Pizza has several locations and is one of my favorite Madison eateries. You can custom order a gigantic salad with more than 40 mix-in options, and they often have vegan slices. For vegan dessert, don’t miss  Bloom Bake Shop . This bakery has a whole case of vegan cupcakes. Public transit Since Madison is largely a college town, you’ll find lots of public transportation and  bikes . It’s known as an extremely bikable city, so if you like biking, check out Madison  BCycle , the local bike share program. This program is designed for short trips of under an hour. If you want a bike for longer-term use, the  Budget Bicycle Center  rents various kinds of bikes. Metro Transit  is Madison’s bus company, serving the greater Madison area. Eco-wellness lodging The white dome of the Capitol filled my window at the  Madison Concourse Hotel . In addition to this stunning view and a convenient downtown location, the Concourse has been refining its eco measures for a decade. The  hotel uses energy-efficient lighting, offers reusable glass cups instead of plastic in guest rooms and is a member of REAP Food Group, which works on shortening the distance from farm to table. The Concourse’s Ozone laundry system and high-efficiency water heaters save an estimated 400,000 gallons of water per year. For an out-of-town sojourn, the  Holy Wisdom Monastery  in nearby Middleton has private rooms in its retreat house and two additional secluded hermitages.  Holy Wisdom offers the choice of a communal spiritual experience or lots of solitude as you hike trails through its prairies or read in the  library . You can even wear a silence tag if you want to take a silent retreat, and people won’t talk to you. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

Original post:
Wisconsin’s hidden eco-wellness hotspot

What you need to know about CBD products

March 4, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on What you need to know about CBD products

As 2020 gets underway, the deluge of CBD products continues. Suddenly, CBD oil is everywhere: from CBD skincare to lattes to CBD-laced treats for Fido and Fluffy’s aging joints. But is the craze legitimate or is it all hype? We’ve delved into recent studies to get the facts on the current state of CBD products. What is CBD? Cannabis plants produce over 100 different chemicals called cannabinoids. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), responsible for the high people get when smoking marijuana, is the most abundant and the most famous. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the second most abundant chemical in cannabis plants. Unlike THC, it doesn’t cause psychoactive intoxication. Most people won’t feel altered after ingesting CBD, but about 5% of people could be exceptions to this. Human bodies naturally produce cannabinoids that are involved in pain sensation, mood,  sleep , appetite and other bodily functions. CBD may interact with — and amplify — the effects of these cannabinoids already in the body. People ingest CBD products by smoking, vaping, eating gummies, taking pills, applying patches and creams, and placing tinctures under their tongues. Facts about CBD In 2018, Congress passed a law legalizing hemp in all 50 states and removing CBD from the controlled substance list. The idea was to allow manufacturers to use  hemp  to make textiles, concrete, paper and other products. The CBD boom was a side effect. But do CBD products work? While users provide anecdotal evidence, researchers aren’t so sure. “The main problem is that not enough medical studies have been done to offer any kind of clear guidance,” Dr. Jordan Tishler, instructor of medicine at  Harvard Medical School and president of the Association of Cannabis Specialists, said on the Harvard Medical School website. He attributes some CBD success stories to a placebo effect. Along with the efficacy question, lack of oversight in CBD products is a problem. “Right now, there is no way to know for certain whether a product contains any CBD at all, or is safe from contamination ,” says Tishler. “Worse, we’ve found that some companies have even added other medications to CBD products, like opioids and benzodiazepines.” The Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) is still figuring out how to regulate CBD products. While CBD supplements can’t legally be marketed with specific therapeutic or medical claims, tricky manufacturers are using vague terms like “joint health” or “calm” or “relax” to suggest unproven product benefits. “Until the FDA finalizes how it will regulate CBD, it’s not cracking down on many false claims or overseeing how products are made,” says Tishler. “This means companies can put out all kinds of CBD products with zero accountability.” Some doctors are hopeful about proving the benefits of CBD products. As  Health   reports, “CBD might be worth trying to manage symptoms of anxiety.” Dr. Junella Chin, an osteopathic physician and a medical cannabis expert for cannabisMD, added, “[CBD] tells your body to calm down and reminds you that you’re safe. It mellows out the nervous system so you’re not in a heightened ‘fight or flight’ response.” However, Chin emphasized that CBD isn’t a cure-all. So far, the FDA has only approved one CBD product, a prescription drug to treat certain types of epilepsy. The FDA warns consumers about the potential of harming themselves with CBD products, citing liver injury and  drug  interactions as top concerns. Consumers might not connect subtler side effects with CBD use, such as drowsiness, irritability and gastrointestinal distress. The FDA also emphasizes that the long-term effects of CBD products are unknown, as are the effects on developing teen brains, fetuses, breastfed infants and male reproduction. Most popular CBD products Some of the most popular CBD products include topical creams, CBD bath bombs, CBD skincare and CBD pet products, such as tinctures and calming chews. But how do you assess the onslaught of items made with CBD oil? None of these have so far been subject to FDA evaluation. And, despite what promises they make on their labels, CBD products are not a substitute for  medical  diagnosis and care. When you look at a CBD product, note the label. All dietary supplements should have back panels including an FDA disclaimer and a warning section. “Ideally, it would be preferable to have access to their third-party lab testing results too,” Brandon Beatty, an executive vice president of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, said in an interview with  Health.  Third-party testing confirms that the label is accurate. For example, a 2017 study by the  Journal of the American Medical Association  found that 26% of the 84 CBD products tested contained lower doses than the label stated. You can check the brand’s website if you don’t see that info on the label. You’ll also want to read the label carefully for dosing instructions and to determine whether the CBD is isolate or full-spectrum. The latter means the  product may contain additional cannabinoids, which are sometimes more effective — and consequently may require a smaller dose. Responsible manufacturers of CBD products should also include a batch number on the  packaging . “This is a huge indicator as to whether they are following good manufacturing practices,” said Beatty. “There should be a way to identify this product in case it was improperly made so the company can carry out a recall.” + Harvard Medical School Via FDA and Health Images via Shutterstock and Pixabay

See the original post here:
What you need to know about CBD products

Eco-friendly spiritual living at Holy Wisdom Monastery

March 3, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on Eco-friendly spiritual living at Holy Wisdom Monastery

A basket of bread comes around, and the person next to me removes a chunk, holds it up and says, “Bread of life.” I accept it and do the same for the person on my other side. It’s the first time I’ve ever attended a religious service so egalitarian that all participants are assumed qualified to give each other communion. Earlier, the part of the service where folks exchanged the sign of peace seemed to go on forever; instead of a restrained handshake with their nearest neighbors, people were walking all over the room hugging their friends. This is a Sunday morning gathering at the  Holy Wisdom Monastery  in Middleton, Wisconsin. The unconventional group of Benedictine nuns who run the monastery oversee a whole host of enterprises, from managing a retreat center to restoring the surrounding prairie. While church attendance has declined rapidly in the US, with a Pew Research Center study reporting that more than half the population attends church between zero and a few times a year, Holy Wisdom has a robust turnout even during a Sunday morning snowstorm. What is it about this non-denominational Christian monastery that draws people from the progressive area around  Madison ? The welcoming attitude of the congregation, the relatability of the presiders, the gender-neutral language when speaking of divinity and the eco-spirituality of Holy Wisdom attract many people who are looking for a deeper connection with others and with the earth. An eco-retreat center In the 1950s, three Benedictine nuns from  Iowa  arrived in Madison to start a girls’ high school. They purchased 43 acres of pasture land overlooking Lake Mendota that would eventually become Holy Wisdom. But big changes were happening in the Catholic Church in the early 1960s. In 1966, the sisters closed the high school and re-opened as the Saint Benedict Center. The retreat center was ecumenical, meaning it was open to all denominations. As more retreatants attended events at the center, the sisters felt very connected to people they met from other faiths. “Praying with people from different denominations changed our hearts to be ecumenical hearts,” Sister Mary David Walgenbach said as she showed me around on a snowy February morning. Eventually, the sisters began a long, slow process to become an ecumenical order of nuns open to Protestant women as well as  Catholics . Nowadays, all kinds of people go on  retreat  at the monastery, either as individuals or in groups. The retreat house accommodates 19 people, plus the monastery has two more isolated hermitages for people seeking solitude. “There are more and more people who want to get away from everything because our world is more and more connected in every way,” said Sister Denise West. Buddhists are frequent visitors. “The Dalai Lama was here in ’79, so Buddhist groups like to come,” said Walgenbach. Sometimes they’ll do 10-day retreats, using the monastery’s nature trails for walking meditation and taking meals in silence. Nonprofit organizations also rent the monastery’s meeting facilities, plus breakout rooms. The sisters replaced their original Benedictine House — which was deconstructed and 99.75% recycled or reused — with a new, eco-friendlier monastery, which opened in 2009. The 30,000 square foot, two-story structure is “right-sized” at half the size of its predecessor. The sisters worked with Hoffman Planning, Design & Construction, Inc. to envision one of the country’s greenest  buildings . In 2010, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded Holy Wisdom Monastery a  LEED  Platinum rating. Four years later, the monastery became Madison Gas and Electric’s largest solar customer. The monastery building generates 60% of its energy needs. The sisters are aiming for 100% eventually. “For us, sustainability is not a trend,” Sister Joanne Kollasch said on the monastery website, “but a commitment to the earth—a 21st century expression of 1500 years of Benedictine tradition.” The designers carefully planned the location of windows based on the orientation of the sun to reduce glare and minimize unwanted solar heat gain. The new building also uses geothermal heating and cooling. Friends of Wisdom Prairie The monastery’s grounds cover more than 130 acres, including woodlands, Lost Lake, gardens, orchards, nature  trails  and restored prairie. Lots of animals live on the property, too, with whom the sisters try to live with in harmony. As Sister Mary David Walgenbach showed me around the monastery, we stopped in a room downstairs that the sisters use for prayer. She told me about a  turkey  that would often catch sight of his reflection in the room’s windows while they were praying. “He’d puff up, turn around,” she said. “And we would split laughing.” When somebody suggested setting bow and arrow hunters on him, the sisters leapt to his defense. “We said, ‘You can’t harm Brother Tom!’” Walgenbach remembered. They fed him from the back door of their house to help him through a harsh winter. Come spring, he flapped off with a roving band of hens. The five sisters couldn’t take care of the monastery’s land without a lot of help. “We depend on  volunteers  all over the place,” said Walgenbach. While they’ve been relying on volunteers to help restore prairie lands since the 1990s, the more formal  Friends of Wisdom Prairie  was established in 2014. The sisters are thrilled to have Greg Armstrong, who directed the University of Wisconsin Arboretum for twenty years, as their director of land management and environmental education. The Friends raise funds for caring for the land, including reducing runoff into the lake and constructing a bike trail. Environmental volunteers join in work parties while learning about ecological land management. Sometimes the Friends host special events, like moonlight snowshoeing on the monastery’s trails or lectures on subjects like owls of Wisconsin or climate change and eco-spirituality. Life among the sisters Times have changed and religious life holds less allure to most people than it did 60 years ago. “Not a lot of  women  are flocking to become sisters,” said Walgenbach. “But we have a niche.” Holy Wisdom attracts women looking for a more contemplative life, who share Benedictine values like listening, respect and silence. The five sisters live together across the lake from the monastery. Walgenbach and Kollasch entered religious life as Catholic nuns in the 1950s. Sister Lynne Smith, a Presbyterian pastor, became the first Protestant sister in 2000. Sister Paz Vital, a lifelong Catholic, and Sister Denise West, who comes from a secular background, both joined the order in the last few years. The sisters often have a sixth woman staying with them who is going through the six-month Sojourner program for spiritual seekers. That’s what originally brought West to Holy Wisdom. “I came here to learn spiritual life with zero intent of becoming a sister,” she said. But once she was back home in New York City, the former  schoolteacher  felt an undeniable pull back to the monastery. It’s a pull that many progressive Christians around Madison feel, judging from the Sunday morning turnout when I visited, or the 100 people who showed up the day before to help the sisters devise a ten-year plan. People are hungry for connection with the divine, each other and the land , and Holy Wisdom fills this void for folks in Madison and further afield. Images via Teresa Bergen and Kent Sweitzer

View original post here: 
Eco-friendly spiritual living at Holy Wisdom Monastery

Saving the Scottish Wildcat from extinction

February 24, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Comments Off on Saving the Scottish Wildcat from extinction

In the wilds of Scotland lives the elusive Scottish wildcat, denoted scientifically as Felis silvestris grampia and colloquially as the “Highland tiger.” Considered as one of the planet’s most endangered animals, and possibly the world’s rarest feline, it is estimated that there are fewer than 50 purebred F. s. grampia individuals left, which accounts for their vulnerability. Meager population estimates, and a lifespan averaging 7 years in the wild, lead many biologists and conservationists to conclude that there might no longer be a viable enough Scottish wildcat population extant in Scotland’s wilderness. Ruairidh ‘Roo’ Campbell, priorities area manager for the Scottish Wildcat Action (SWA) program, said, “There are very few pure wildcats — the worry is that none are left. About 12% to 15% of cats we see look like they could be pure.” Related: How hobbyists are saving endangered killifish from extinction F. s. grampia is unlike the domestic cat in several ways. The species is a larger, more muscular relative to the tamed housecat, with the former exhibiting a powerful, stocky body conducive for pouncing. Its legs are longer and larger. The Scottish wildcat is also highly adapted to survive in the wild with its thick, dense fur. This fur tends to have tabby markings with distinctive black and brown stripes, yet no spots. Plus, its feet are not white, nor is its stomach. The tail is blunt at its end rather than tapered. The F. s. grampia ’s head is flatter, with ears that stick out of the side. Evolutionary-wise, F. s. grampia has been isolated from other wildcats for millennia. It is surmised to be “a descendant of continental European wildcat ancestors that colonized Britain after the last Ice Age (7000 – 9000 years ago),” according to the Scottish Natural Heritage . F. s. grampia is unlike its continental cousin, Felis silvestris silvestris , for example, by being even larger. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) , curiously enough, does not consider the Scottish wildcat as a subspecies, which is why on the Red List , it is grouped together with other Felis silvestris . Yet authorities elsewhere recognize the Scottish wildcat as a distinctly different wildcat. Some would say the moniker “Scottish” might be slightly misleading, given that only recently has this feline been restricted to the Scottish wilds, for it had previously roamed more widely in Great Britain. Nonetheless, because it can now only be found in Scotland itself, this feline wonder is highly regarded, particularly by Scottish biologists. As David Barclay, cat conservation project officer at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), described in The Tigers of Scotland , F. s. grampia “is Scotland’s only native cat, [but it’s] more than a native cat species . It’s a symbol for Scotland, a symbol for the wild nature that we have.” Unfortunately, historical persecution, habitat loss from mismanaged logging and genetic integrity dilution from interbreeding with either domestic or feral cats have all pushed the Scottish wildcat closer to extinction in the wild. Mismanaged logging has adversely affected the Scottish wildcat, particularly in altering the landscape it has called home and the food web it relies on to thrive. In fact, the Scottish Natural Heritage reported, “Scotland has much less woodland cover than other countries in Europe, although it did increase in the 20th century. In 1900, only about 5% of Scotland’s land area was wooded. Large-scale afforestation had increased this figure to about 17% by the early 21st century.” Environmental advocates have been diligently pushing for conservation of this treasured feline. This wildcat has not only become an icon and legend for the Scots, but F. s. grampia has likewise come to represent the need for wildlife conservation and reforestation to restore the Scottish, and by extension the British, countrysides. “The reality is we just don’t know how many wildcats we’ve got left,” David Hetherington, ecology adviser with the Cairngorms National Park Authority, said in The Tigers of Scotland . “Estimates vary from as low as 30 to as high as 400, but we just don’t know. We’re still trying to ascertain just how many there are, where they are and where they’re not.” Several conservation plans have been implemented, even at the national level, to save the Scottish wildcat from extinction . These include initiatives to restore the feline’s habitat and its population numbers. By expanding the woodlands of Scotland through reforestation programs with the help of organizations like the Scottish Woodland Trust , it is hoped the wildcats have a better chance of averting extinction. Woodland expansion would create viable habitats, in which the wildcats can flourish. But rewilding Scotland by planting trees is not enough, because Scottish wildcats are also being threatened by other factors. Threats of hybridization with domestic or feral cats, minimizing disease transmission, reducing accidents (trapping, road impacts, mistakes by gamekeepers) and boosting genetic integrity all need to be curtailed. The Aigas Field Centre , for instance, has the Scottish Wildcat Conservation Breeding Project that endeavors to mitigate the “greatest threat to the gene pool of the Scottish wildcat.” With a captive population at Aigas, the genetic purity lines are safeguarded. When the captive breeding progeny lines are viable, they will be reintroduced into the wild in regions that are heavily forested and protected to ensure survival success. Additionally, the Aigas Field Centre has an adoption program that encourages donations toward food, veterinary costs and healthy stewardship. Barclay said, “We know the road ahead for wildcat recovery will be challenging, but our strong partnerships with SWA and international conservation specialists give us an incredible opportunity for success.” Images via Peter Trimming ( 1 , 2 and 3 )

See the original post here:
Saving the Scottish Wildcat from extinction

Tackling sustainability in sporting events

February 19, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Comments Off on Tackling sustainability in sporting events

At the recent Super Bowl, the NFL focused on sustainability more than in past years with its Ocean to Everglades (O2E) initiative throughout South Florida. Efforts included education on invasive species, beach cleanups, food recovery and recycling initiatives. These conservation efforts are part of a larger trend internationally to shrink the carbon footprints of major sporting events. “Sports is one of the few avenues which can unite people of all different races, creeds and social status,” Matt Jozwiak said in an interview with Inhabitat. Jozwiak was a chef at swanky New York restaurant Eleven Madison Park before founding Rethink Food NYC . His organization feeds 2,000 New Yorkers a day by repurposing leftovers from restaurants and food companies in the tri-state area. Jozwiak is a big proponent of more sustainable sporting events. “The industry literally has the power to make drastic sustainability changes. When a sporting team comes out in favor of a cause, people listen.” He acknowledges there may be growing pains when adopting unfamiliar behaviors. “But eventually, fans will go along with the new changes.” Sporting events step up to sustainability Fans traveling to one European Cup match can generate almost 5,600 tons of carbon dioxide, according to the World Economic Forum. But now, many sports are taking a closer look at how to be more responsible. Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic Games are a leading example of organizers prioritizing sustainability in their planning. For example, builders will use locally sourced wood to construct the athletes’ village, and hydrogen fuel cells will power the event vehicles. Organizers plan to generate solar power onsite and recycle 99 percent of everything used during the event. With the exception of drinking water, they’ll use recycled rainwater for all Olympic water needs. Paris is hoping to be even more sustainable during its turn to host the 2024 Olympic Games. Related: Tokyo’s Olympic medals will be made from recycled phones Some European cities have given their football (soccer to Americans) stadiums an eco-makeover by installing seats made from recycled plastic. In Amsterdam, fans bought the old seats as souvenirs. The stadium in Pontedera, Italy boasts seats made using plastic from local waste. Meanwhile, in England, the Forest Green Rovers have won the title of world’s greenest football club by powering its grounds with solar, recycling water and serving an entirely vegan menu to players and fans. At the 2019 Helsinki International Horse Show, 135 tons of horse manure powered the electricity. A company called Fortum HorsePower enlists 4,300 Finnish horses to generate energy for electrical grids. Stadium food waste Jozwiak takes a special interest in food wasted inside stadiums. He’s found that stadiums are among the hardest places from which to rescue food, because they tend to only have games periodically and throw the food away afterward. Much of that food quickly spoils or gets soggy and unappetizing, like hamburger buns and pretzels. Stadiums should rely on freezers more, Jozwiak said. “Instead of purchasing food all the time, bulk purchase and immediately freezing can cut down a lot on the waste for sporting arenas. Proper refrigeration strategies can expand the lifecycle of food and reduce food waste.”  He also recommended a fire sale strategy for avoiding waste. “Implement a plan where spectators can purchase the remaining food to take home,” he advised. “A lot of food ends up in landfills . So if sporting arenas can provide the options for the fans to either buy or provide for free the remaining food, it would cut down on waste drastically.” One by one, stadium directors of operations need to craft individual action plans to become more sustainable, Joswiak suggested. In addition to avoiding food waste, he recommended conserving water and offering healthier food options with more vegetables and less meat . Stadiums should only contract with vendors who can manage recycling. New buildings should work to be LEED-certified. Joswiak suggested hosting a climate-related event for fans to explain and support all of these green changes. If fans could be convinced to bring their own reusable utensils, that would be great, too. Eco-travel to sporting events Of course, while the football match or the golf tournament is the main event, fans and players still have to travel to the game and may require overnight housing. According to Solar Impulse, 5 million people converged on Russia in 2018 to watch the FIFA World Cup. Their travel and accommodations generated about 85% of greenhouse gas emissions from this event, totaling about 1.6 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Related: Green-roofed Copenhagen sports center is open to the public 24/7 Some major governing bodies in sports are embracing carbon offset projects around the world to atone for their contribution to emissions. FIFA managed to offset 1.1 million tons of carbon emissions since the 2014 World Cup . The governing body for European football is promising to offset fan-generated emissions for the EURO 2020 competition. It has also collaborated with the 12 host cities to offer free public transportation to fans with tickets on the days of the matches. This should cut down on emissions and road congestion. Via World Economic Forum and Solar Impulse Images via Shutterstock

Read the rest here:
Tackling sustainability in sporting events

Next Page »

Bad Behavior has blocked 2001 access attempts in the last 7 days.