The pros and cons of electromobility

July 17, 2019 by  
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To those of us who concentrate on sustainability and green options for travel, electromobility appears to be a godsend — but the increasingly popular electromobility lifestyle still holds good and bad traits. Thankfully, as the market continues to grow, electric vehicles such as e-bikes and scooters only continue to improve since they were first introduced, and electric cars continue to get more and more sophisticated and efficient each year. While there are obvious benefits to using or even owning one of these trendy vehicles, the electromobility industry still has some kinks to work out. Here are the pros and cons to consider before embracing electromobility. Pro: less utilization of fossil fuels Though the extraction of different kinds of fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) present different levels and types of impact on the environment, they all have one thing in common: emitting harmful pollutants and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burned. These pollutants can include sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that contribute to acid rain, smog and soot. While the burning of fossil fuels poses serious issues, it doesn’t stop there. The only ways to extract these fossil fuels from the Earth is by mining or drilling, and both have the potential to generate significant air and water pollution , inflict serious health issues to workers or the local community and alter ecosystems. Offshore drilling poses risks of oil spills that can absolutely devastate ocean life. As the transportation sector as a whole relies almost exclusively on fossil fuels, it is responsible for a majority of the hidden environmental costs that the fossil fuel industry implements on the Earth. According to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy , “In general, EVs produce fewer emissions that contribute to climate change and smog than conventional vehicles … EVs typically produce fewer life cycle emissions [emissions from vehicles over the course of its life from production to disposal] than conventional vehicles, because most emissions are lower for electricity generation than burning gasoline or diesel.” Con: batteries Replacing harmful fossil fuels with electric vehicle batteries comes at a cost. Producing these large lithium batteries requires natural resources from lithium and nickel mines, which can emit pollutants such as sulfur dioxide into the air and pose health risks to workers. Most batteries, especially in smaller EVs like scooters and e-bikes, have a limited lifespan. After disposal, batteries can end up in landfills to release toxins into the environment or in the ocean to harm sea life. Related: We love electric scooters — but is the Bird trend actually bad for the environment? Pro: improved air quality The potential to dramatically improve air quality is arguably the biggest draw for electromobility from an environmental perspective. The lack of exhaust systems in electric vehicles means less carbon dioxide emissions and less greenhouse gas buildup in our atmosphere. According to the U.N. , air pollution causes 1 in 9 deaths around the world and, “Transport contributes approximately one quarter of all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, which is set to reach one-third, growing faster than any other sector.” The majority of car growth in the world is expected to take place in developing countries, most of which don’t have any type of vehicle emissions standards or programs incentivizing low-emission transportation. U.N. Environment is working to sponsor 50 countries and cities around the world to introduce electric cars and electric methods of public transportation. Con: energy use Even though electric vehicles don’t emit as much carbon dioxide, the batteries still need to be recharged regularly. As the demand for electric modes of transportation grows, so does the need for energy — and not all energy comes from renewable sources. For this reason, many owners of electric cars opt to install solar panels onto their homes to charge the vehicles from inside their garages at a much lower cost both financially and to the environment. Pro: decreased expenses Just the knowledge alone that their vehicle is better for the environment is enough for some consumers when it comes to purchasing an electric car, scooter or bike, but the reasons to make the investment into electromobility go far beyond peace of mind. A 2018 study from the University of Michigan revealed that in no U.S. state is it cheaper to use gasoline than electricity. Operating an EV in the United States, according to the study, was $485 per year, while the cost for operating a gas-powered car was $1,117. That means on average, gasoline-powered vehicles cost twice as much as electric ones. Because EVs don’t require oil either, oil changes aren’t necessary, meaning maintenance time and cost is significantly reduced as well. If all that still doesn’t convince you, some EV owners are eligible for a tax break as high as $7,500 depending on the individual tax situation and type of vehicle. The EPA website can help you estimate just how much money you could save by making the switch. Images via Airwheel , Trinity eRoller , RJA1988 and Markus Roider

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The pros and cons of electromobility

Where the 2020 candidates stand on climate change

July 9, 2019 by  
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Climate change was predicted to be a hot topic for the first democratic presidential debates. Despite pressure from activists , the issue received just seven minutes of airtime on the first night of the debates and eight minutes on the second night. Still, it is important to be informed on where each person stands when it comes to the climate crisis. Below is a breakdown of the candidates’ current climate platforms (in no particular order). Jay Inslee (Governor, WA) Inslee has established himself as “the climate candidate.” Vox’s climate reporter went so far as to say that other candidates should simply adopt Inslee’s climate plan as their own platforms, as it is the only plan that adequately address the gravity of the crisis. Inslee’s Our Climate Movement plan includes: • Eliminating carbon emissions by 2045 • Investing $9 trillion in clean energy , green jobs and resilient infrastructure • Phasing out fossil fuel production Joe Biden (former Vice President) On June 4, Biden released a $1.7 trillion Clean Energy Revolution plan, which includes: • 100 percent net-zero emissions by 2050 • Investing in resilient infrastructure • Committing to the Paris Agreement • Spurring economic growth and green jobs Biden’s platforms are generally more moderate than other candidates, and he is wooing the labor unions. While some activists are sour about his appeal to moderate votes, others believe his ability to garner bipartisan support and labor votes may make him more effective in pushing through legislation. On June 27, Biden signed a pledge to refuse campaign money from oil companies. Elizabeth Warren (Senator, MA) Warren’s main focus is taking down big banks and big oil companies, including protecting public lands from oil corporations. She backed the Green New Deal , supports a ban on fracking and wants to focus on green job development and industries. She has also presented a plan to greatly reduce emissions produced by the military. Amy Klobuchar (Senator, MN) Klobuchar backed the Green New Deal and supports further development of nuclear energy as an alternative to dirty fossil fuels . Her proposal, released on March 28, includes a major investment in infrastructure adaptation and clean energy. She will also reinstate clean power rules and gas mileage standards and will rejoin the Paris Agreement. Seth Moulton (Representative, MA) Moulton backed the Green New Deal, plans to focus on green jobs and supports further innovation in carbon sequestration with farmers and rural communities. Kirsten Gillibrand (Senator, NY) Gillibrand co-sponsored the Green New Deal and avidly supported a carbon tax in the past. She opposes opening new land and water to oil drilling and supported legislation that would help the U.S. surpass its previous Paris Agreement commitment. Tim Ryan (Representative, OH) Ryan has defended his moderate stance on climate change and commitment to prioritizing jobs development and economic growth. He is critical of a carbon tax, arguing it would encourage companies to take jobs overseas. Pete Buttigieg (Mayor, South Bend IA) Buttigieg supports the Green New Deal, nuclear energy and a ban on fracking. He wants to focus on solutions that center low-income Americans and mentioned putting rural communities at the forefront of climate adaptation, such as supporting carbon sequestration innovation among farmers. He is also in favor of a carbon tax. Buttigieg would recommit to the Paris Climate Agreement and plans to decarbonize transportation and industries as well as support energy efficiency in homes. Marianne Williamson (author) Williamson wants to close existing nuclear power reactors and ban fracking. She supports the Green New Deal. Tulsi Gabbard (Representative, HI) Gabbard has been outspoken about climate action during her time in Congress. She supports aspects of the Green New Deal, including reaching carbon neutrality, but does not support nuclear power unless there is a solution for nuclear waste. She also supports a ban on fracking. Bill de Blasio (Mayor, New York City) Mayor de Blasio recently passed New York City’s own version of a Green New Deal, so he is expected to be an advocate for progressive climate action. Kamala Harris (Senator, CA) Harris has not taken a firm stance on a fracking ban, nuclear energy nor a carbon tax. She has come out in support of the Green New Deal and promised to rejoin the Paris Agreement. Joe Sestak (former Representative, PA) Sestak’s climate plan includes rejoining the Paris Agreement, ceasing subsidies for fossil fuel corporations, implementing a carbon tax and investing in regenerative agriculture . Bernie Sanders (Senator, VT) Sanders’ climate platform on his campaign website promises to: • Pass the Green New Deal • Invest in infrastructure for front-line communities • Reduce transportation-related pollution • Ban fracking and drilling • End exports of coal, gas and oil Corey Booker (Senator, NJ) Booker officially backed the Green New Deal, supports nuclear energy and wants to ban fracking. He also has an outspoken commitment to climate justice and to addressing the disproportionate impact that the climate crisis has on people of color and low-income families. Beto O’Rourke (former Representative, TX) O’Rourke has a $5 trillion climate plan that aims for net-zero emissions by 2050, but he still supports natural gas. His plan also includes $1.2 trillion in grants for energy and economic transformation at the community level. John Hickenlooper (former governor, CO) Hickenlooper previously worked as a geologist for a major oil company. He has not signed on to the Green New Deal and believes the U.S. should continue fracking. His climate plan includes: • Rejoining the Paris Agreement • Making $100 billion available annually in climate finance • Establishing a climate corps national service program Michael Bennet (Senator, CO) Bennet believes the U.S. should continue using natural gas and has not signed on the Green New Deal. On May 20, he released a climate plan with eight points: • Create 10 million green jobs by 2030 • Launch a 2030 climate challenge to push states to develop climate plans • Conserve 30 percent of land and oceans by 2030 • Establish a climate bank with $1 trillion to spend on infrastructure by 2030 • Cut energy waste in half by 2040 • Achieve 100 percent clean emissions by 2050 • Decarbonize agriculture • Develop options for houses to purchase retrofits, renewable energy and zero-emissions vehicles Andrew Yang (entrepreneur) Yang’s website mentions support for fossil fuel regulation and investment in renewable energy both for the environment and for the economy.  He also favors a carbon tax and dividend but believes much of the climate action needs to happen at the state and local level, with general support from the federal government. Steve Bullock (Governor, MT) Bullock said he would rejoin the Paris Agreement and invest in renewable energy; however, he does not support the Green New Deal nor does he think it will get very far. Bullock also has a long record of supporting the coal industry in his home state of Montana.  Wayne Messam (Mayor, Miramar FL) When pressed for his ideas about the climate crisis, Messam told radio station WBUR that he would develop an infrastructure bill that focused on resilience for bridges, dams and levees. He would transition the country to renewable energies and transition fossil fuel jobs toward the green economy. John Delaney (former Representative, MD) Delaney supports nuclear power and does not support the Green New Deal. He released a $4 trillion dollar climate plan that includes: • Establishing a carbon tax • Promoting negative emissions technology • Increasing renewable energy budget • Developing a climate corps national service program • Creating a pipeline network that delivers carbon dioxide to oil fields for sequestration Julián Castro (former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development) Castro supports the Green New Deal and was one of only three candidates to say climate change will be the No. 1 priority of his presidency. He has mentioned that his first action as president would be to rejoin the Paris Agreement, and he is opposed to subsidizing oil corporations. Greenpeace developed a report card to grade all candidates on their climate policies. See the visual here . Via Politico , Inside Climate News , NRDC and Greenpeace Images via Shutterstock

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The pros and cons of online versus in-store shopping

June 20, 2019 by  
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In as little as a few clicks and confirmations your online purchase can be at your doorstep in a matter of hours. Online shopping is so simple there is barely enough time to consider the process your order goes through in order to reach its destination, not to mention the cost! It’s easy to condemn Americans’ obsession with online retail as unsustainable over-consumption, but when the numbers are pitted against in-store shopping, online shopping is actually the more eco-friendly option. Think of delivery services as public transportation for your packages, where everyone’s package rides the same bus instead of your personal car. Online shopping Online shopping constitutes one out of every seven purchases around the world, that’s nearly 15 percent of all shopping. The online retail industry is worth over $3.5 trillion, a massive total that rises by 20 percent every year. The average carbon footprint of a package is difficult to calculate because there are huge discrepancies. For example, the time and resources used comparing a local clothing delivery and a refrigerator that travels across the world from China. The advantages In Britain, the average package produces just six ounces of carbon dioxide, which sounds tiny but has to be multiplied by millions of deliveries. Going to the store to pick up your item and back, averaging an estimated 13 miles, produces approximately 144 ounces of carbon dioxide , which is 24 times more than the delivered package. You would have to pick up 24 items in order to break even. According to a researcher and author of Decarbonizing Logistics , even when you consider mis-deliveries and returns, the averages point to online shopping as a more environmentally-friendly option. Nowadays, many popular brands no longer have (or never had) storefronts. The carbon footprint of running a website alone is also drastically less than the energy it takes to power and maintain a building space. The disadvantages The biggest polluter for delivery services is the last mile, and those emissions are multiplied every time the delivery is unsuccessful. Between 12 and 60 percent of all deliveries are unsuccessful on the first try, so they often make a second or third attempt. If they are still unsuccessful, the consumer must drive to a warehouse to pick up the package– negating all benefits in terms of carbon emissions . Furthermore, about one fifth of all products purchased online are returned, which can double the carbon footprint. In-store shopping The advantages Shopping in person partially cuts down on returns because customers are able to touch, see and try on the items before purchasing. This means they are more likely to select something they like and that fits them and avoid the common online practice of buying one item in a few sizes and returning all but one. Additional advantages of in-store shopping lie in the personal choices people make to reduce their carbon footprint. Many people walk or bike to stores, while others utilize public transportation . Although a bus still has a carbon footprint, you technically aren’t adding additional emissions since the bus was simply completing a pre-determined route. Moreover, shoppers tend to purchase more than one item at a time, which minimizes the emissions per item. The disadvantages Depending on the distance the consumer travels and their mode of transportation, online shopping is highly inefficient. In most cases, shoppers drive individually in personal cars to malls or commercial areas. Although shoppers can make personal choices to cut down their emissions, such as carpooling and staying local, research shows these steps still do not compensate for the benefits of online shopping . Related: Over 6000 employees demand Amazon take climate change seriously How to make smarter shopping choices New innovations Delivery services are growing rapidly and getting creative. Amazon is piloting drone deliveries and other companies are experimenting with ground-based robots. New apps and shared economy services are also popping up, like bike courier companies. One innovative app called Roadie is playing with the idea of a package hitchhiking system that connects your package with a delivery already heading in that direction. Slow shopping You’ve heard of slow food , but it turns out that slow deliveries might be more environmentally friendly too. Most people who can afford it opt for speedy deliveries, but this forces retailers to send packages out individually, immediately and sometimes in emptier trucks just in order to meet deadlines. With the wiggle room of a few more days, shippers can bundle items going to a similar location together and reduce the number of trips and emissions. Buy Local If you can walk or bike to the store, that’s a great option. If you have to ship something, check out different retailers and chose the one located closest to you. The less distance your package travels, the lower the carbon footprint. Conspicuous consumption There are a few ways to be a more responsible buyer. If you know a delivery is coming, make sure to be home when the delivery arrives so it does not have to double back. Select slower delivery times when not in a rush and shop more purposefully to avoid returns. Overall, the best way to reduce retail-related emissions is to buy less! Carefully consider what you need and do not buy items that you will barely use. But most importantly, always consider all items before a purchase. Are they necessary? Afterall, an item not purchased has the lowest footprint. Via Ensia Images via StockSnap , HutchRock, kasjanf, RouteXL

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The pros and cons of online versus in-store shopping

Cool off this summer at this tiny house water park with a natural lagoon

June 20, 2019 by  
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If the summer heat is already getting you hot and sweaty, cool down at this amazing tiny home water park in Wisconsin Dells. Guests to the Dells Resorts park have a number of accommodation options, but one of the best by far is this gorgeous tiny home built by Bantam Built Homes , which sits next to the park’s natural lagoon. The Bantam tiny home , which sleeps four, blends in nicely with the natural surroundings of the resort. Clad in a blend of dark wood and copper, the exterior boasts a tiny deck with a glass door that leads into a spectacular living space. Related: Try out tiny house living in Oregon’s new micro-home resort in Mt. Hood The home’s interior is light and airy, brightened by natural light from an abundance of windows. The compact kitchen comes with all of the basic amenities, including plenty of counter space and full-size appliances. To the right of the kitchen, the living room is made up of a sofa with what appears to be an attractive wooden accent wall. However, the wall actually conceals a mattress that can be folded out into a bed. Past the kitchen, a ladder leads up to the comfy sleeping loft , which has enough space for a queen-sized bed. Underneath the loft, the designers added a spacious bathroom with a large vanity, a stand-up shower, a toilet and an ingenious sliding shelf unit for linens. In addition to its charming tiny home accommodations, the water park also features a number of eco-friendly practices. The water pond, for example, is kept clean using natural elements instead of harmful chemicals and uses a waterfall to add extra oxygen to the water. + Dell Resorts + Bantam Built Homes Via Tiny House Talk Images via Bantam Built Homes

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Cool off this summer at this tiny house water park with a natural lagoon

11 unique edible plants for your garden

June 14, 2019 by  
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Part of the joy of gardening is falling in love with the plants you choose to nurture, especially those with a tasty reward. While the traditional carrots and raspberries certainly have their place, you can create a yard full of unique, yummy and eye-catching produce when you select plants that are a little less traditional. The produce department at your local supermarket might have a few dozen choices, there are actually hundreds of fruits and vegetables that you may have never even heard of, let alone considered growing. While some require special adaptations, such as tropical weather, most are just as easy to grow than the mainstream selections. Here are some examples to get you started. Jujube If you’re in USDA zone 5-9, check out the jujube. This is not the beloved candy by the same name, but the candy was inspired by this small, apple-like gem. Jujubes offer a sweet and sour flavor and can be eaten raw, although the sugars intensify when dried. Jujubes like hot, dry environments and tolerate drought quite well. Related: Incredible edible landscape map shows you where to find free food Pawpaw Another heat lover is the pawpaw, similar to tropical fruits like the related cherimoya and custard apple. Happy in zones 5-9, the pawpaw doesn’t do well on a commercial scale, but is a great addition to a backyard garden . The plants itself is a small, uniform tree that produces pleasant foliage. Quince You may have heard of quince jam or seen it on a menu at a restaurant, but few people actually grow quince themselves. At one time, quince trees were as ubiquitous as pear and apples and rightfully so since it is related to both. Quince must be cooked for eating, but the reward is equivalent to apple pie in a single fruit with flavors of vanilla, cinnamon, and a hint of citrus. Quince grows well in zones 4-9. Cattail Did you know cattail is edible? If you have a pond area be sure to include this plant in your design. Young stems can be eaten raw and young flowers can be roasted. In midsummer, the pollen from the cattail can be used as a type of flour in pancakes and breads. It also works as a thickener for soups and sauces. Young shoots on the plant can be cooked like asparagus by roasting or grilling. They can also be added to stir-fry for a distinct flavor. Chocolate Vine Less tropical than other options, the chocolate vine can even tolerate substantial amounts of shade. Best in zones 4-9, it produces sweet-smelling flowers in the spring and long pods later in the summer . The pods can be cooked like a vegetable but should be avoided raw. Before you toss them in the oven though, pop open the pod and scrape out the pulp, which resembles a banana/passionfruit custard that can be eaten directly or mixed with other fruits. Edible Flowers In addition to those traditional and non-traditional fruits and vegetables , remember than many flowers are edible too. This makes for many exciting options for your yard, even outside the designated garden gate. Include nasturtiums, violas, pansies, borage, and calendula in your landscape and you will have a cornucopia of salad greens at your fingertips. Maypop If you love passion fruit, but don’t live in the tropics , try this American cousin instead. Happy in zones 6-10, this vine not only offers a delectable fruit, but also produces large colorful blooms in the form of purple and white blossoms. Haksap More commonly known by a variety of names in the honeysuckle family, haksap produces a delicious sweet-tart berry that tastes like a cross between a blueberry and a raspberry. Almost as great as the tasty treat it produces is the gift it provides with its delicate downward trumpet-shaped blooms. Make sure to plant at least two of the same type of haksap together for effective pollination . Medlar Medlar is an ancient fruit, even though you may have never heard of it. For thousands of years, dating back to at least the Roman era, this small deciduous tree has produced small edible fruits. Related to roses, the one to two-inch fruit resembles large rosehips. The color is a rosy brown. For a commercial product, the medlar is a bit finicky since they have a very small window of the perfect ripeness for consumption. For the backyard gardener, though, your challenge might be picking them at the right time before the animals pluck them for you. Medlars adapt well in climates with hot summers and wintry winters. Red Meat Watermelon Radish While the flavor is similar to the traditional radish, the look is anything but. It’s a bit of a mind game when picking the small radishes off the plant, which look nearly identical to a spotted watermelon at 1/1000 the size. Red meat radishes are a cool weather crop and will bolt if planted when it is too warm. Serviceberry Placed right up next to your garden, trees, or perennials, serviceberries add a lively texture to your landscape and produce a yummy, yet non-commercial, fruit for your backyard enjoyment. Serviceberry grows well in a variety of zones because there are different varietals of trees and shrubs. It is a versatile and durable plant, growing wild in many areas. Plant it right up next to the house or in soggy areas of the yard where other plants are unhappy. Watch for the berries to ripen, which resemble blueberries in size and shape. Images via Shutterstock

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11 unique edible plants for your garden

An eco-friendly gift guide for Fathers Day

June 12, 2019 by  
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This Father’s Day, give your dad a gift he will not only love, but one that also won’t hurt the planet nor gather dust on his shelf: quality time together! Here are a few ideas of ways to get outside and celebrate with the father figure in your life as well as some eco-friendly gadgets he will enjoy when you aren’t together. Visit a national park together June is one of the best times to visit one of the country’s national parks . Whether your dad is a serious hiker or more of a couch potato, he will love getting some fresh air and seeing a beautiful new landscape together. Most parks have options for easy day trips, walking tours and more intense hikes. Some have visitors centers, museums and cafes, and many have short paved trails that are accessible for a wider variety of ability levels . Related: How National Parks benefit the environment Here are a few popular parks for Father’s Day: Acadia National Park, Maine This park has miles of rugged coastline that can be too cold for most people during the rest of the year but are beautiful during the summer. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming Located near Yellowstone National Park, this park has gorgeous mountain vistas and overlook sites. It is popular in the summertime for mountaineering, climbing, hiking and walking. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia Only a few hours from Washington D.C., this park is gorgeous even from a car. There are a number of hikes and waterfall spots for different ability levels, plus you and your dad can brag about hiking part of the Appalachian Trail together. For more ideas, check out the National Parks Service’s Father’s Day Guide . Pick your own strawberries June is peak strawberry season in much of the U.S., and it’s a fun group activity with sweet treats along the way. Bring the loot home and make fresh strawberry shortcake for a Father’s Day dessert! Here is a guide to where you can go strawberry picking in different states. Make sure to call ahead to confirm that the farm is open, has strawberries left and is still offering a pick-your-own program this year. Give the gift of knowledge This year, take your father to a movie about the environment or nature, like The Biggest Little Farm . Not only will it allow you to spend quality time together, but you will learn something new about our planet. If your dad is interested, check out local events or talks about climate change and participate in local activism together! Sign up for a road race If you and your dad have a goal to be more active, exercise is a great way to spend quality time together while staying healthy . Research races in your area and pick one that works with your schedule and abilities. The entrance fee typically goes to help charities or medical research. Stick with a 5K or less if you’re a beginner — that is about 3.2 miles. If you’re more advanced, you can look for a 10K or higher. Related: 8 tips to make your exercise routine more eco-friendly Buy a bike tune-up Does your dad like to bike? Maybe he bikes to work, just on the weekends or very little at all, but we’ll bet his bike could use a tune-up to make sure it’s in the best and safest shape possible. Rent canoes or kayaks Now that the weather is nice, spend some time together as a family and rent canoes, kayaks or paddle boats. Many lakes and rivers have rental companies where you can pay by the hour or by the day. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, you could look at places where you can fish, too. Snag tickets to a sports game or concert Spend your money on an experience instead of an item. Do some research to find out if your dad’s favorite sports team or band is in town, and buy tickets to go with him. Plan a customized rainwater harvesting system If your dad loves to garden, get him a customized rainwater harvesting system. Many companies will take the time to learn about your dad’s space and needs and send an easy, customized kit to set it up. You can also try the DIY route . Get environmental gadgets for Dad Before buying more stuff for your dad, ask him what he wants. A good way to cut down on waste is by buying only something that he would really use. Otherwise, here are some good ideas: App-controlled light bulbs Does anyone else have a dad who is constantly reminding you to turn off the lights when you leave a room? Get your tech-savvy dad this app-controlled light bulb that lasts up to 27 years and uses just 10 percent of the energy needed for a conventional bulb. He can set timers for his schedule and say goodbye to the days of following the kids around and turning off lights after them. Swim shorts that save the sea These swimming shorts are made from 100 percent recycled plastic and are SPF 45+. Each design tells a story about ocean pollution , and they are available in matching Father + Son sizes. Grill tools made from recycled hockey sticks Is your dad a grill master and a sports fan? This California-based company recycles used hockey sticks to make unique grill utensils. According to the website: “We all know somebody (perhaps ourself) whose burgers always come off the grill looking like hockey pucks. They just don’t have the right tools.” Stainless steel coffee mug If your dad is like mine, he drinks a lot of coffee . Get him a sophisticated stainless steel coffee mug that he can take with him on the go or bring to coffee shops. Most shops offer a small discount for bringing your own mug, and some cities like Berkeley, California are piloting a program to start charging customers for using disposable coffee cups, just like plastic bags. Related: The problem with coffee pods and the eco-friendly alternatives to use instead Sustainable socks Put a twist on the typical gift for dad and buy him something from a sustainable brand. Check out the sock choices at Organic Basics . Organic wine Research the vineyards near you or your dad and find out which ones use organic, sustainable or biodynamic methods on their vineyard. After confirming its environmental impact, gift Dad with an eco-friendly bottle of wine. Via Earth 911 Images via Shutterstock

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An eco-friendly gift guide for Fathers Day

Renewlogy turns low-grade plastic into usable fuels

June 7, 2019 by  
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Renewlogy is a three-way win: it’s a profitable business model, keeps plastic out of the landfills , and produces usable fuel. The creators of Renewlogy technology found inspiration out of disgust when they learned that less than 10 percent of plastic was being recycled through traditional recycling processes. Armed with an MIT education and pinpoint focus, the team designed a recycling system that can be built on-site, specific to the needs of the waste management company, with no pollution. With this method, Renewlogy’s systems can process up to 10 tons of plastic waste daily without the need for additional transportation costs and the fuel emissions that go along with it. Renewlogy systems offer a range of benefits over traditional recycling systems, primarily that they are able to accept all types of plastic, including the low-grade, single-use types that are otherwise not recyclable. Not only does this mean commercial processing of these low-grade materials, but the process even accepts contaminated and mixed streams of plastic that get thrown out in other systems. Related: How to celebrate World Environment Day Like standard recycling centers, the process begins with the collection and delivery of materials. Once onsite, the commingled plastic heads into the hopper where it is shredded into smaller pieces. Through a proprietary chemical process, the materials are then converted into high-value products used to make virgin plastic, diesel fuel and other petrochemical products. Gases offset throughout the process are captured and recycled so there are no toxic emissions . The first continuous-process commercial system in the United States was set up in Utah as a demonstration facility. From there, another large scale unit has been installed in Nova Scotia and several businesses are committed to integrating the system across the U.S. currently. Renewlogy has a waiting list where interested parties can sign up. As production of facilities ramps up, the company also has ocean clean-up goals on the horizon. Targeting limited-land use communities like islands and emerging urban developments that both struggle with limited space, the hope of the Renewlogy team is that they will be able to convert plastic into fuel onsite so that waste compilation is eliminated altogether. To support marine vessels collecting plastic from the ocean, Renewlogy offers a small-scale, portable system that can be used on-board the ship. In addition, they have developed ReFence, a system that diverts plastics out of rivers before it reaches the ocean . With an overarching goal of eliminating all plastic from landfills and ocean pollution , Renewlogy aims to set a long-term, sustainable example with continuing innovation in the field of plastic processing. + Renewlogy Images via Shutterstock

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Renewlogy turns low-grade plastic into usable fuels

A massive urban vineyard will envelop a new research center in Milan

June 7, 2019 by  
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International design and innovation firm Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) has won first place in the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group’s international competition with VITAE, a new research center in Milan that will be covered in a 650-foot-long urban vineyard. The vegetation is remarkable not only for its sheer size, but also for its use in a publicly accessible footpath that will link the street level to the rooftop. The building was developed for real estate group Convivio and was created in a team with the consortium Habitech as environmental experts. Once complete, VITAE will transform a formerly vacant, post-industrial lot in via Serio in the south of Milan into a mixed-use development that includes a farm-to-table restaurant, high-tech offices, facilities for the leading molecular and oncology research center ICOM, guest rooms for international researchers and more than 5,000 square meters of public space. Inspired by biophilic design, the architects created a vegetated pedestrian path with a vine-covered pergola that will ascend the side of the building and provide visitors the chance to see terraces and greenhouses for urban farming and hydroponic cultivation. This “green spiral” inspired the project’s name, VITAE, which means “life” in Latin and “vine” in Italian. “VITAE tries to address humankind’s innate ‘ biophilia ,’ as formulated by the great American biologist Edward O. Wilson,” said Saverio Panata, partner at CRA and project manager of VITAE. “We are talking about the natural tendency of our species to seek our happiness through immersion in nature. Thanks to new technologies, it is now possible to achieve this goal even in the heart of the city — this is particularly relevant in a building that is devoted to scientific research.” Related: CRA grows a sustainable pavilion out of mushrooms in just 6 weeks C40’s Reinventing Cities competition recognized VITAE as the winner for its promotion of carbon-neutral and resilient urban regeneration as well as for its adaptive reuse aspect. Construction on CRA’s project is slated to begin construction in late 2019. + Carlo Ratti Associati Images via Carlo Ratti Associati

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A massive urban vineyard will envelop a new research center in Milan

A 1923 building in Quebec is now a light-filled public market complete with aquaponics systems

June 7, 2019 by  
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Discerning foodies in Quebec will soon have a beautiful new market to buy their locally grown fare. Local architectural firms Bisson Associés and Atelier Pierre Thibault are at the final stages of converting the Pavillon du Commerce, which dates back to 1923, into the light-filled Grand Marché, a public market that features aquaponics systems. As one of Quebec’s most beloved buildings, the architects were determined to retain as many original features of the nearly century-old Pavillon du Commerce as possible while turning it into a modern public market . The renovation managed to conserve the building’s beautiful wooden ceilings and brick walls as well as its original columns and pediments. Related: MVRDV-designed market in Taiwan will grow food on a massive green roof Although the new market, which boasts a whopping 96,875 square feet, retains a lot of the building’s original features, the architectural team managed to implement a number of modern materials into the new space. For instance, the interior facades of the building as well as the individual stalls were all constructed using CLT panels . The market will also be equipped with an on-site food waste management system that collects organic matter to be sent to the city’s biomethanation plant. According to the architects, the new market was designed to be a city landmark and general meeting place. The stalls are carefully placed in a village-like layout meant to foster socialization. The interior space is bathed in natural light thanks to large skylights and fully-opening windows on the south-facing facade, and it also features a wooden, bleacher-like staircase where people can sit and chat. In addition to selling local fare, the market will include a family space for workshops, a cooking school, an urban gardening education center and a technology showcase that highlights agro-food innovation. To focus on sustainable food growth, the market is working with the Institute on Nutrition and Functional Foods to install an aquaponics system and a mycelium incubator in the market. Not only will this space be used to sustainably grow food, but it will also be designed as a training and research center for the general public. + Bisson Associés + Atelier Pierre Thibault Photography by Maxime Brouillet via v2com

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A 1923 building in Quebec is now a light-filled public market complete with aquaponics systems

How to celebrate World Environment Day

June 5, 2019 by  
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Today, June 5, is World Environment Day! There are many ways that you can celebrate today, and you can use the celebration as a start to building more healthy, environmentally friendly habits. Here are some suggestions for fun activities and behavior changes to consider today and every day. Group activities for World Environment Day Plan a clean-up Get together with friends and neighbors for a clean-up activity in your area, such as at a beach, park or river. Get outside Getting outside doesn’t necessarily help nature , but taking the time to enjoy it and remember why it is essential to protect in the first place is a great way to honor the environment. Find a local hiking group or coordinate a picnic in the park. If your friends aren’t as excited about outdoor activities as you are, search for outdoorsy MeetUp groups in your area and meet some new, like-minded friends. Write to your senators What environmental issues are important to you and your family? This year, the theme of World Environment Day is “Air Pollution.” Find out what your local government is doing to protect the air quality in your area and write to your senator or representatives about your concerns. Healthy personal habits you can start now Use less water Small changes in how you use water at home can add up to a significant difference and conserve a lot of water in the long run. Turn off your tap when you are brushing your teeth. Be mindful of how long your shower is. When washing dishes, fill up a pot or large mixing bowl with warm water and dish soap. Use that water to scrub all of your dishes at once, and then turn on the tap only to rinse. Do not keep the tap running the whole time to wash and rinse each dish individually. Walk more You’ve heard it a million times, but have you implemented more walking in your own life? Consider the places you go often, like work, and figure out if there are ways that you can walk — even if it is only once or twice a week. Walking is great for your health, cuts down on transportation-related carbon emissions and allows you to get to know your neighborhood in a completely different way. Carpool Take the time to discuss with friends, family and coworkers before an event or activity and find out how you can cut down on the number of cars. For places that you go frequently — like work — get to know who lives near you and decide if you can agree on a schedule to carpool. Switch your light bulbs Every time a light bulb burns out in your house, switch to a long-lasting LED bulb . These light bulbs reduce your energy consumption and last a very long time. Buy energy-efficient appliances When possible, choose ENERGY STAR-rated appliances. It is an extra cost upfront, but it will significantly reduce your energy bill long into the future. Related: 10 money-saving tips for a green home Keep fridge coils and AC vents clean If the coils on your refrigerator and the vents on your air conditioner are kept clean, they won’t need to use up additional energy just to cool to the regular temperature. Recycle e-waste When your cellphone or laptop breaks, bring it to an e-waste recycle facility rather than letting it sit around your house or tossing it into the trash. Shut off your devices When you are finished using it, turn off your computer and monitor. Avoid overcharging your cellphone or leaving it to charge overnight. Ideally, shut off your TV and other appliances through the main switch or outlet, not just the remote, so that you break the circuit and save energy . Switch to sustainable products Consider the products you use at home, like cleaning supplies and toothpaste . Switch to something more eco-friendly, ideally made from natural, biodegradable materials in plastic-free or fully recyclable packaging. Via News 18 Images via Riccardo Chiarini , Brian Yurasits and Arek Adeoye

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How to celebrate World Environment Day

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