Inhabitat is giving away an organic Avocado Green Mattress

February 21, 2017 by  
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We spend one third of our lives sleeping, but how many of us have taken the time to learn what’s inside our mattresses? Studies have found that conventional mattresses contain toxic levels of volatile organic compounds that could be the source of many ailments, including chronic allergies, asthma, sleep problems, endocrine problems and even cancer. And once traditional mattresses bite the dust, their synthetic materials resist degradation, resulting in an enduring toxic legacy that would give anyone insomnia. If you’re looking for a new mattress and really want to rest assured, here’s your chance to win the best sleep of your life. We’re giving away your choice of an Avocado Green Mattress made from 100 percent natural latex harvested from tree-­tapped and sustainable sources, 100 percent natural Joma® New Zealand Wool, and certified organic cotton. This completely non­toxic, luxurious mattress, made with chemical-free, biodegradable, and compostable materials, is far better for both you and the planet. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN! Win your choice of an Avocado Green Mattress , Standard or Pillow-Top, in your preferred size: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, or California King. a Rafflecopter giveaway Contest open only to residents of the continental U.S. Handmade in sunny California, the Avocado Green Mattress is all about luxury and transparency. Using 100 percent natural hydrated silica as a fire barrier, the Avocado isn’t filled with the dangerous flame retardants or petroleum­-based foams that traditional mattresses contain. Each mattress is made to order and hand-tufted without chemical adhesives, formaldehyde, heavy metals, or other toxic substances. Made with natural and organic materials, the Avocado’s eco-INSTITUT®-certified, chemical­-free design is surprisingly more durable than synthetic materials, nor does it come with that unpleasant, chemical odor most new mattresses carry. And the natural latex , natural Joma® New Zealand Wool and GOTS-­certified (Global Organic Textile Standard) organic and pesticide-free cotton make this mattress a healthy and sustainable choice. Wool and cotton also naturally regulate temperature and moisture wicking, giving the Avocado mattress superior insulating and cooling properties. Part of Avocado’s hybrid design includes a support layer filled with up to 1,303 ergonomic, individually ­pocketed support coils. This allows for cooler, more durable support than standard foam mattresses. Made from recycled steel, this support system is tuned to three strategically positioned comfort zones that provide incredible support to the hips, back and shoulders. There’s never any need to flip an Avocado mattress – just rotate it. The Standard Avocado Green Mattress is ideal for back and stomach sleepers, characterized by a gentle, yet perfectly firm feel. Its 11-inch-thick base delivers a balanced level of firmness, comfort and support to create a natural sleeping environment. If you want even more luxury, you can instantly upgrade to a plush European-­style feel when the mattress is topped with the optional Pillow­-Top. Its extra 2­-inch layer of 100 percent natural Dunlop latex rubber foam is perfect for side and back sleepers, athletes, and those in need of intense pressure relief. If you aren’t the lucky winner in this giveaway, don’t fret. The Avocado is relatively affordable for a luxury mattress, starting at $959. Each one comes with a risk-free 100-night sleep trial, 10-year warranty, free shipping and returns, and financing with rates as low as 0% APR. For an extra $99, the company will send someone over to set up your new bed for you. Enter above for your chance to win, and dream of sleep in the lap of luxury. + Avocado Green Mattress

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Inhabitat is giving away an organic Avocado Green Mattress

7 charming off-grid homes for a rent-free life

February 15, 2017 by  
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Want to make rent and utility bills a thing of the past? We’ve rounded up seven off-grid homes that could be the answer to making your dreams a reality. Stylish and self-sufficient, these eco-friendly dwellings promise freedom from the grid. Many are even set atop wheels to let you move with your home to almost anywhere you desire. Keep reading to see seven charming homes that offer homeowners the chance to live off the grid and rent-free. WOHNWAGON Powered by solar energy and made from recycled materials, the WOHNWAGON is a beautiful mobile and modern home with a housing footprint so small it fits within the size of a standard parking lot. This larch-clad caravan was designed for homeowners who wish to travel the world and enjoy comfortable off-grid living thanks to energy-efficient features including a green roof , triple-glazed windows, graywater recycling, solar panels, highly efficient insulation and more. Developed for mass production, the WOHNWAGON starts at 40,000 Euros and can be individually customized. EcoCapsule For those who want a little off-grid place of their own with more of a futuristic edge, look no farther than the EcoCapsule . Now available for pre-orders, the tiny egg-shaped home that went viral in 2015 has been displayed around the world wowing visitors with its ability to produce all of its energy onsite with rooftop solar panels and a low-noise wind turbine that feed into a 10kWh battery. Developed by Nice Architects , the mobile home can be moved or dropped in place with a crane or helicopter, giving owners the freedom to live almost anywhere they please. POD-Idladla South Africa-based architect Clara da Cruz Almeida collaborated with local design firm Dokter+Misses to create POD-Idladla , an adorable flat-pack home with off-grid capabilities. Targeted at young adults, the tiny solar-powered was conceived as a customizable eco-friendly home at an affordable price. The modular design can also be expanded upon with additional pods to make multi-unit configurations that house up to 12 people. Moon Dragon If homes inspired by fantasy and fairytale are more your style, you’ll love Moon Dragon. Tiny house builder Abel Zimmerman Zyl of Zyl Vardos designed and built this tiny timber off-grid home that looks like it’d be right at home in Middle-Earth. Outfitted with a solar kit for off-grid living, the beautifully detailed mobile home boasts masterful craftsmanship as well as impressive an impressive suite of features, from a five-burner Range cooker with two ovens to a loft bedroom large enough for a queen-sized bed. KODA Lovers of travel and modern, minimalist house designs will feel right at home in KODA, a tiny prefabricated home created by Estonian design collective Kodasema . Designed with off-grid capabilities, KODA can be assembled on a variety of surfaces without the need for foundations or disassembled and prepped for relocation in as little as four hours. Fronted with large quadruple-glazed windows, the light-filled modular house can also be expanded with multiple units. Ark Shelter Designed as an escape from city life, the Ark Shelter was created to reconnect people with nature. The self-sufficient modular cabin is prefabricated from durable timber and placed on site atop raised, mobile foundations. Wind turbines, solar power, and rainwater collection allow the home to go off-grid . Walden Studio home Dutch design agency Walden Studio teamed up with carpenter Dimka Wentzel to design a tiny home that’s big on luxury and freedom. Equipped with all the systems needed for off-grid living, the contemporary mobile home is filled with natural light and natural materials like the cork floors and birch plywood paneling. The 17-square-meter home also contains plenty of multifunctional furniture to maximize its small footprint.

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7 charming off-grid homes for a rent-free life

Wonderful recipes for the weird veggies in your CSA box

February 11, 2017 by  
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Kohlrabi Sounds like something to be shouted in Klingon, doesn’t it? No need to fear: kohlrabi won’t leap up and devour your face if you lean over it. This bizarre little “turnip cabbage” has a thick skin that needs to be peeled off before you get to its juicy little heart (which tastes quite a bit like broccoli stem), and its leaves can be cooked like collard greens or kale. Great recipes to try: Kohlrabi and zucchini fritters with sriracha mayo  – You can make fritters out of just about any vegetable, but these two pair together perfectly. Kohlrabi, cardamom, and coconut curry – Warming and filling, with just the right amount of heat. Shaved kohlrabi with apple and hazelnuts – This is a beautiful way to highlight kohlrabi’s mild sweetness and crunchiness. Spicy kohlrabi-kale kimchi – If you have more kohlrabi than you know what to do with and you’d like to use it up before it goes bad, make a batch of this kimchi and enjoy it later. Celeriac Root It looks like a tumor and tastes like celery, but what can you do with it? Quite a lot, actually. Celeriac is indeed part of the celery family, but is cultivated for its large root instead of its stalks. Great recipes to try: Celery root puree with balsamic beets and pearl onions – Buhhh. If anyone ever disparages vegan cuisine, feed them this, and it’ll blow their minds. Celeriac, fennel, and pear salad with lentils – Celery root’s refreshing crunch is echoed by both the fennel and sweet pear, and complemented by creamy, nutty Puy lentils. Celery root steaks with tomatillo salsa verde – Way to incorporate 2 CSA box items in one recipe! The savory meatiness of the root steak is brightened by spicy green salsa, and is a perfect summer dinner recipe. Celeriac and roasted garlic soup with parsley oil – This is a delicious, elegant soup that’s both perfect for cooler evenings, and for when you’re aiming to impress dinner guests. Or in-laws. Same idea. Rutabagas Also known as “Swedes”, rutabagas are root vegetables that likely originated by crossing a turnip with cabbage. Sounds bizarre, I know, but these tuberous powerhouses are quite versatile. They have a nutty sweetness from the cabbage, and the firm crunch normally associated with turnips. They can be used raw or cooked, and they make a great substitute for mashed potatoes for Paleo recipes, or for folks avoiding nightshade vegetables. Great recipes to try: Rutabaga fries – They’re low carb, vegan, AIP paleo compliant, and incredibly delicious. Spiralized rutabaga noodles – You can top them with anything you like. Try them with pesto and hazelnuts. Rutabaga hash with chilies and bacon – This can easily be made vegan with veg bacon or even toasted coconut. Latkes – An all-time favorite pancake, only made with rutabaga instead of potato. Fennel It looks like something from an alien landscape with its bulbous base and frilly hair, but fennel is a wonderful vegetable that’s quite versatile with a slight licorice flavor. You can eat it raw or cooked, and the green fronds are edible as well. Great recipes to try: Braised fennel with capers and olives – Magic happens when you combine the ingredients in this recipe. Arugula, fennel, and olive salad – A great mixture of textures, flavors, sweetness, and bite. Fennel, asparagus, and artichoke empanadas – This is a perfect way to showcase summer produce. Roasted fennel and onion gratinati – It’s as scrumptious with vegan almond cheese as it is with regular Parmesan. Garlic Scapes They may look like a tangle of skinny snakes, but these vibrant greens are garlic’s flower stalks, and they’re as delicious as their root bulb, only milder. Garlic scapes can be pureed into sauce, chopped and sautéed like green beans, added to frittatas… they’re really only limited by your own culinary creativity. Great recipes to try: Garlic scape pesto – One of the easiest and most delicious recipes for scapes. You can add in foraged greens like garlic mustard, lambsquarters, or dandelion leaves to. Summer vegetable strata – A brilliant way to use random bits from your CSA box in one delicious dish. Beet, garlic scape, and leek pizza – Pizza is fabulous no matter what you put on it, but these ingredients elevate it to an art form. Grilled garlic scape and asparagus soup with caramelized shallots – A lovely summer soup that’ll impress just about anyone. Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes) These adorable little knuckle-shaped roots go quite nutty when you cook them, and are woefully under-used in most people’s kitchens. Not related to globe artichokes, these tubers are part of the sunflower family, and are packed with protein, potassium, iron, and calcium. Great recipes to try: Crispy Jerusalem artichokes with aged balsamic – Roasting the sunchokes brings out their natural sweetness, and the balsamic adds depth to their flavor. Roasted Jerusalem artichoke, chestnut, and thyme soup – All of these rich flavors harmonize into a luxurious, creamy soup. Baked Jerusalem artichoke chips – Who doesn’t love chips? These are low-carb, paleo, vegan, and have a low glycemic index too. Sunchoke banana cake with maple syrup drizzle – Like any other tuber, these add richness, moisture, and texture to baked goods. Tomatillos Most people who are unfamiliar with South American cuisine may never have encountered a tomatillo, but they’re definitely worth getting to know. Relatives of tomatoes and ground cherries (physalis), these papery-coated green gems have a great tart acidity that works beautifully for salsas and other sauces, and can be sweetened for preserves and jams. Great recipes to try: Watermelon, strawberry, and tomatillo salad – If this isn’t a perfect summer salad, I don’t know what is. Tomatillo and lime salsa verde – Sharp and fresh, it’s as good on huevos rancheros as it is scooped up with tortilla chips. Green shakshuka – One of our favorite brunch dishes. Tomatillo jam – It can be made thick or thin (as a spread or as a syrup for pancakes), and is ridiculously good. Radishes Although most people can identify radishes at a glance, these poor little roots often get relegated to salads. Regardless of whether you’ve received cherrybelle, watermelon, or even daikon radish, you’d be amazed at how their flavors change when they’ve been roasted with the aforementioned garlic and olive oil (or butter). Great recipes to try: Watermelon radish tea sandwiches – These radishes are bright pink and green, and are fabulous when sliced thinly on bread. Try these tea sandwiches for a light summer meal, or make open-faced versions for bridal showers. Mulor shaak (spicy sauteed radish greens) – Don’t toss those radish greens into the compost! They’re the tastiest part of the vegetable, and are divine when sauteed with oil and spices. Quick pickled radishes – This one is ideal if you don’t think you’ll be able to eat your radishes before they go bad: just make a quick pickle of them and keep them in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Cinnamon sugar radish chips – Although this one sounds a bit weird, the result is startlingly good. The radishes retain their warming bite, which is complemented perfectly by the cinnamon sugar. If you’ve come across some other veggies , herbs, or even fruits that have been new and fun to explore, feel free to share your recipes in the comments section below. Images by Stacy Spensley , ted_major , romana klee , ilovemypit , mom2rays , Green Mountain Girls Farm , stetted , and Oregon State University via Flickr Creative Commons.

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Wonderful recipes for the weird veggies in your CSA box

Bill McKibben on how to protect the earth from a Trumpocalypse

February 2, 2017 by  
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If you’re feeling overwhelmed in the face of President Donald Trump’s overtures to ignore climate science, resuscitate oil pipelines , and in general undo all of the environmental progress we have made so far, you’re not alone. But you can take action, and renowned climate activist and author Bill McKibben is here to tell you how. Bill McKibben knows a thing or two about activism. His landmark book The End of Nature came out in 1989 under Republican president Ronald Reagan. Since then he has penned several more books and been active in environmental fights under presidents from both major political parties. He’s protested the Keystone XL pipeline in front of the White House, for which he was arrested. And he helped bring attention to ExxonMobil’s deliberate suppression of climate change information , to name just a few of his global actions. Related: 8 ways to help the water protectors at the Standing Rock Reservation But, if you’re not Bill McKibben, activism under Donald Trump’s administration can be intimidating. When asked how he feels about people who are discouraged, McKibben told Inhabitat, “Me too. But people have faced big challenges before. And if Trumpism goes down, much will go down with it: climate denial, for instance. We don’t know whether Trump is going to be bad in a normal way or bad in an abnormal way. The first week makes it look like the latter. We don’t really know how to fight an authoritarian oaf, but we’re going to have to figure it out.” McKibben recommends getting involved with organizations fighting the good fight, including the organization he helped found, 350.org . “Find a local group connected to the big national and global fight: 350.org, Sierra Club , or your local environmental justice group,” he said. “That way you can work at every level, from projects nearby to big international fights. If DC is closed to us, we need to open new fronts.” McKibben imagines pipeline fights under Trump, for example, will still require a similar mix of mobilization and litigation as they did under President Obama. But he emphasizes there’s strength in numbers in the dawning resistance. “In the end, if there’s a big enough movement in enough places it’s harder for them to do their dirty work. Their currency is currency. Ours is passion, spirit, creativity – and bodies!” He also said it’s important to stand up for other issues too. “I’d make sure you’re also working with other causes and groups – immigrants facing deportation, for instance,” he said. “Solidarity has never been more important.” + Bill McKibben + 350.org Images via Lorie Shaull on Flickr ( 1 , 2 ), Mark Klotz on Flickr , Takver on Flickr , Fabrice Florin on Flickr , and Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Bill McKibben on how to protect the earth from a Trumpocalypse

8 natural immunity boosters to get you through cold and flu season

February 2, 2017 by  
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Even if you get your flu shot , wash your hands religiously, and try to steer clear of people at home or in the office who are hacking and sneezing, fighting against all the germs and illnesses that seem to proliferate in winter is an uphill battle. While we can’t promise these seven natural immunity boosters will keep you from needing to take a single sick day this winter, incorporating them into your life may improve your chances of a less severe sickness, a quicker recovery time, and even avoiding “catching” a bug in the first place. Some of them (such as getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals) are pretty obviously the basic building blocks of a healthy lifestyle, but its always good to have a little reminder how to stay healhty. Hit the jump to find out how to boost your immune system nature’s way. Image © flickr user planetchopstick 1. Rest up and get some sleep We all know this one, but its easier said than done, right? Instead of fighting long nights with blue screens, Netflix binges, and snacks, try to make an early (or earlier) bedtime a priority. Sleeping does more than feel good: it gives your body a chance to repair itself on a cellular level. Numerous studies have shown that being sleep-deprived makes you more likely to get colds; long-term sleep deprivation may be linked with more serious illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. Many of us are pretty exhausted , but if going to sleep is challenging, experiment with a few of the following suggestions: Dim the lights and turn off electronic devices about an hour before bed. Give yourself time to digest before heading to Snoozetown. Falling asleep on a full stomach can be difficult so try to make your last meal or snack a few hours before bedtime. Smell your way to sleep. Dab a bit of lavender essential oil on your pressure points (including wrists and behind the ears) to help your mind relax. 2. Whip up some Golden Milk Golden Milk , a creamy turmeric-spiked drink that has recently been added to menus on coffee and tea shops in the United States, has its origins in Ayurveda. Turmeric ’s active ingredient is curcumin, which has been touted as being anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-fungal. You’ll love this drink as a warm and soothing alternative to coffee or tea any time of the day, but we especially adore it when winding down at night. Choose your favorite non-dairy milk as the base; try cashew, which has sleep-inducing and regulating tryptophan. Another healthy turmeric-tinged drink: make a “tea” by mixing lemon juice, slices of ginger, turmeric, and a little liquid sweetener (such as honey) with warm water. Image via Pixabay 3. Eat a vegetable rainbow Incorporating a wide array of veggies and veggie colors is recommended for most healthful and nourishing diets, but it’s especially important for boosting immunity. Vitamins such as C and A have been studied for their ability to fight off illness, so add plenty of dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, and carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes . Actually eating your vitamins in whole veggie form is preferable to supplementing with often unregulated pills and capsules. Selenium, a mineral found in garlic, broccoli, and brazil nuts , also has been touted as an immune system booster. Image © Pixabay 4. Find some magical mushrooms The fungus kingdom is notoriously defensive against bacteria and viruses – after all, it was funguses (specifically the Penicillium mold) which lead to the development of modern day antibiotics. Many funguses produce chemicals that kill viruses and bacteria. Some funguses are believe to have anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties as well. Mushrooms, especially Asian varieties such as shiitake, enoki, and maitake , contain natural anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties including the immune-boosting chemical beta-glucan . Plus, they’re delicious can be added to virtually any meal — breakfast, lunch or dinner. Always make sure you fully cook mushrooms for optimal nutrition and so that you can digest them properly! Image © Aris Setya via Shutterstock 5. Feed your gut flora Speaking of funguses, having a healthy ecosystem of good gut bacteria and fungi is critical for immune health. Did you know that 70-80% of your immune tissue is located in your digestive tract? Traditional foods from a variety of cultures are plentiful sources of probiotics (aka beneficial bacteria) that can feed your gut flora. Cultured yogurts and kefirs, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha , and more provide diverse belly flora, which may help lower levels of inflammation in your gut and boost your immune system. Probiotics are often found in fermented foods; the fermenting process promotes the growth of millions of microorganisms that help break down food. In addition to potentially helping to ward off some illnesses before they attack, probiotics are also used to help replenish the gut microbiome after a course of antibiotics. 6. Sip hot soup A version of Grandma’s healing chicken soup can be found in almost any family lineage, and doctors have figured out that the power of this soup is more than just the nostalgia factor. Soups can deliver easily digestible and nourishing nutrients and keep you hydrated. When you have a cold or sore throat, the steam and humidity of soup can help clear clogged nasal passages as well. Vegetarians and vegans can make up their own version of no-chicken soup or whip up a quick and healthful miso soup instead. 7. Get your blood flowing Exercise and immune function have a slightly contentious relationship: exercising too strenuously has actually been linked with a suppressed immune function, but the benefits of moderate exercise outweigh the potential negatives so don’t throw in the (gym) towel: exercising moderately through brisk walks, cycling, pilates, yoga , dance class, or lifting at the gym can give you an immunity boost. Moving, however it suits you, gets blood circulating, may help flush out bacteria and viruses, lowers stress levels, and helps you sleep better. If you exercise outdoors you can also get the benefit of fresh air and soak in a little Vitamin D from the sun, another key element to a healthy immune system. 8. Get some sunshine Vitamin D is produced naturally in your body when your skin is exposed to UV radiation from the sun. Vitamin D acts more like a hormone than a vitamin, and is thought to play a role in regulating the immune system. It is found in relatively few food products, but it can be found in fortified milk products and mushrooms. Many people have low levels of Vitamin D, so its always helpful to get outside for a 30 minute walk in the sunshine to boost your immune system. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, it is hard in the winter to get enough Vitamin D from the sun alone, so it’s a good idea to drink a Vitamin-D fortified beverage or take a supplement (and/or eat lots of mushrooms!). Image via Shutterstock 8. Herbs and supplements While most of our recommendations can be found in whole foods or through making healthy lifestyle choices, a few potentially powerful immune boosters are best when taken in supplement form, whether as tinctures, capsules, or even as part of a tea. Taking vitamin C and zinc capsules regularly or at the first sign of a cold can work wonders for the immune system. Some herbal remedies have found their way into the mainstream market, including echinacea, astragalus, ginseng, elderberry and reishi mushrooms and can be purchased separately. Visiting a professional, such as a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner who has knowledge of and expertise in prescribing an array of herbs and medicinal roots, may be your best bet for getting the appropriate dosage and most effective combo. While you are there, consider having an acupuncture treatment, which has also been associated with boosting immune function. Lead image via Shutterstock

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8 natural immunity boosters to get you through cold and flu season

Produce your own water from thin air with SunGlacier’s solar-powered DC03

February 1, 2017 by  
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If you’re alarmed by reports of dwindling water supplies across the globe, there has never been a better time to take matters into your own hands. SunGlacier founder Ap Verheggen, who has spent the better part of the last decade designing devices that harness the sun’s potential to extract water from thin air, has made his latest design available online – for free. The solar-powered DC03 relies on a Peltier element, explained in greater detail below the jump, to produce a small amount of clean water each day without a battery, without fans or an inverter, and without any moving parts that could easily degrade. The solar-powered DC03 device generates power for an 18W Peltier element. Asked to explain that in layman’s terms, Ap Verheggen told Inhabitat: “A Peltier element is a very small and thin square piece of electronics. If you connect it to electricity, it becomes hot at one side, and cold at the other side. The cold side we use to cool a cone. As the air comes at the cool cone, moisture in the air starts to condensate and produces water drops.” Water drawn from the air then drips, through gravity, into a glass (or whatever vessel each person chooses to use). Because the Peltier element has a temperature difference of 67C maximum between the upper “hot” side and the under “cool” side, according to SunGlacier, the hotter the air, the more water the device produces, bringing the group one step closer to their original ambition of improving water security for people living in desert conditions . Related: A solar-powered leaf that makes ice in the desert At the moment, the device makes about half-a-glass of water every six hours, according to SunGlacier. It is designed to operate during daylight hours only, mitigating the need for a battery. Verheggen says while the DC03 design has been thoroughly tested, it has not been optimized, which is where you come in. In the same spirit as Elon Musk’s approach to the Hyperloop , whereby he encourages anyone to improve upon the original idea, SunGlacier invites the public to take a stab at making their own solar-powered water maker using their design, which is available online . Universities and research institutes from as far afield as Iran, Romania, South-Africa and The Netherlands have already expressed an interest in getting involved, Verheggen says. This collaborative approach is expected to make SunGlacier’s groundbreaking, low-maintenance design accessible to the greatest number of people possible – and that is something we can really get behind. + SunGlacier Photos by Hessel Waalewijn

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Produce your own water from thin air with SunGlacier’s solar-powered DC03

8 inspiring tiny Airbnb homes for a taste of living small

January 26, 2017 by  
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Even if you could never imagine living in a tiny house , you have to admit there’s something inspiring about them. In about 400 square feet, with some clocking in much less, these mini dwellings challenge inhabitants to think big about how to live small. We’ve rounded up 8 tiny homes , cottages, and cabins we found on Airbnb  that manage to accomplish two things: they satisfy our wanderlust and our curiosity for tiny living. From a family-friendly cottage in Norway on its own private island to an A-Frame cabin nestled in the woods of an off-grid village, there’s a range of options depending on your definition of “roughing it”. Whichever compact getaway you choose (even if it’s only to put on your wishlist for now), these retreats may encourage you to live more simply and explore the bigger picture, including the gorgeous natural surroundings.   1. “Half-Moon” Cabin in California It may be tiny, but there’s a lot to tiny living love in this off-grid cabin nestled deep in the woods of Northern California. The rustic half-moon shaped structure was hand-built as part of an off-grid village which counts chickens, dogs, and frogs, as well as a few humans hard at work, as its neighbors. Located in the Six Rivers National Forest, the cabin includes a lofted bed and a wood stove. Despite the dwelling’s high coziness factor, you probably be spending most of your days exploring the national forest beyond the cabin, hiking over mountains and streams, or perusing the organic gardens for ingredients for a meal in the shared outdoor kitchen. Just make sure you bring a flashlight-the cabin doesn’t have electricity. 2. Industrial tiny house near Seattle The owner of this tiny house is an artist, designer, and welder, who brings those sensibilities together in a sleek space located a few miles from downtown Seattle . Industrial touches such as a steel ladder leading up to the lofted bed, metal shelving in the kitchen area, and lockers for stowing your stuff are warmed up by the wood floors and bright walls. The house feels surprisingly spacious and can accommodate three people for sleeping, with a high ceiling that keeps the home from feeling cramped. It also has a bathtub with wooden planks instead of fussy claw feet. 3. Writer’s Cabin near Stockholm For travelers who want to get away from it all but still have the security blanket of a city nearby, this cozy Swedish writer’s cabin may be the answer. Located in Trolldalen (which means “Troll Valley”), about a 15 minute drive from Stockholm, this basic cabin with a cheery exterior is ideal for either holing up when those Scandinavian days are short or serving as a place to collapse after a full day’s adventure in the city. Or just explore nearby: depending on the season, there’s hiking, blueberry picking, ice skating and cross-country skiing nearby. The writer’s desk does look like the perfect place to complete the finishing touches on your own masterpiece, or simply for catching up on the works of some Swedish masters. If you find your muscles are cramping from being hunched over your laptop, head on down to the property’s sauna to melt away the tension. 4. Atlanta treehouse This trio of rooms connected by bridges is the ultimate treehouse fantasy, and we’re not the only ones who think so. It’s been featured in magazines and TV shows as well as being Airbnb’s “#1 Most Wished-For Location Worldwide”. It certainly checks off a lot of boxes: minutes from downtown Atlanta , a living room, a bedroom, and a deck, and plenty of windows for admiring the lush natural surroundings. Twinkling lights on the bridges and a hammock add to the rustic chic vibe. RELATED: 7 exotic off-grid Airbnb rental homes for adventurous travelers 5. A Norwegian cottage on its own island Because everyone should feel like the king or queen of an island at least once. Another example of Scandinavian ingenuity and tiny house charm, this waterside cottage is located in the Hvaler archipelago in Norway . The cottage can be a getaway for two or a family that doesn’t mind tight quarters: a seat in the dining doubles as a convertible bed for two and the attic can sleep up to three kids or two adults. Cottage renters also have the use of a boat ; swimmers can take advantage of the area’s safe waterways and a floating dock. A marina and several restaurants and stores are only minutes away by boat, but we doubt you’ll make it that far. Pretending you are shipwrecked or pirates is just too much fun. 6. Mushroom Dome in California Steal away for a few nights to a cottage with a geodesic dome loft and a deck that overlooks a grove of redwoods. Part-treehouse, the mushroom dome is compact, yet light-filled: even the bathroom (with self-composting toilet) has a skylight . This unique retreat tends to book up months in advance given its ideal location for stargazing. It also makes a great temporary home base for hiking or heading out to the nearby beach. Hummingbirds, goats, and chickens will anticipate your arrival. 7. California A-Frame cabin In the wise words of Emerson, “Simplify, simply.” Staying in this off-grid A-Frame cabin will certainly inspire you to minimize even if just for a night or two. There’s just enough space for a futon mattress and a candle or two to light the way at night. Located in the same village as the Half-Moon Cabin , it has a shared outdoor kitchen, wood stove sauna , and acres upon acres of surrounding natural beauty. 8. Garden Caravan The owners of this 200-square-foot Garden Caravan on wheels squeezes a lot in without creating a cramped environment. The property has RV appliances, a kitchen stocked with pots and utensils, a toilet, and a shower. Situated on the hosts’ 5-acre plot, the caravan was built by hand with plenty of recycled materials by a boat builder accustomed to making the most of tiny spaces. The tiny home is located just a few miles from Sandpoint, Idaho , so you can sip your morning coffee while watching the ducks, head into town for some shopping or to the nearby lake for a swim, and be back in time for an evening cocktail. All images via Airbnb. Lead image by Lindsay Appel

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8 inspiring tiny Airbnb homes for a taste of living small

New net-zero Solar Farmhouse from Deltec generates all its own energy

January 24, 2017 by  
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In these uncertain times of erratic weather and changing climate patterns, net-zero energy (or NZE) is quickly becoming the gold standard in green building. If you can generate all of your own energy on site, you never need to rely on the grid or worry about energy bills. The North Carolina prefab builders at Deltec launched a line of affordable net-zero energy homes last year to great fanfare from off-grid buffs around the U.S. Now we’re thrilled to see them introduce a brand new design to this collection; a charming, classically-styled Solar Farmhouse with all of the old-fashioned curb appeal, plus the futuristic technology that makes this home achieve net-zero energy.

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New net-zero Solar Farmhouse from Deltec generates all its own energy

Revolutionary flapping wind turbine mimics hummingbirds to produce clean energy

January 23, 2017 by  
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A new flapping wind turbine from Tunisia marks a revolutionary breakthrough in the field of mechanics. Until recently, scientists have been limited in their ability to apply new understandings of animal and human motion to machines, according to Tyer Wind . In the wind energy sector, this limitation has resulted in fairly simple and relatively inefficient turbines. Using 3D Aouinian kinematics that he pioneered, Anis Aouini is disrupting that space with a unique wind turbine modeled on articulations of the only bird capable of sustained hovering– the hummingbird . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r4qnfLns_s Tyer Wind has replicated the mechanism that allows hummingbirds to fly in one place with their flapping wind turbine that moves in a figure 8 configuration. It has two vertical axis wings made from carbon fiber, each 5.25 feet long, that convert kinetic wind energy into emissions-free electricity. Combined, the two wings sweep an area of nearly 12 square feet, with a pre-industrial rated power output of 1kW. Hassine Labaied, partner and co-founder of Tyer Wind, told Inhabitat this is the first time a mechanical device has successfully mimicked the hummingbird’s motion, and that the video above illustrates a pilot machine currently being tested in Tunisia . The group says their initial tests for power efficiency, aerodynamic behavior, and material resistance are encouraging, and they will release the resulting data after a sufficient period of time. (Those interested in more technical details are encouraged to take a look at this PDF .) 3D Aouinian kinematics have applications in other technologies as well, according to Tyer Wind, including external combustion engines, internal combustion engines, pumps, and marine propulsion–among others. The biomimicry revolution may not be televised, but it is definitely underway. + Tyer Wind

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Revolutionary flapping wind turbine mimics hummingbirds to produce clean energy

8 teenage inventions that could save the world

January 23, 2017 by  
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Sometimes the brightest ideas come in young packages. Teenagers from around the world demonstrate you don’t need a high school diploma to come up with a life-changing invention . From $13 germ-killing door handles to Braille printers, check out these eight teenage inventions that revolutionize the way we view energy , food, and, of course, the oceans . 14-year-old designs pedal-powered washing machine When assigned with laundry duty after her mother got sick, Remya Jose, a 14-year-old girl from India , designed an ingenious pedal-powered washing machine to save the time of doing laundry by hand in a nearby river. Jose made her clever washing machine with recycled bicycle components, creating an appliance that could greatly assist families who lack access to electricity. Related: 13-year-old Maanasa Mendu invents groundbreaking clean energy device that costs just $5 16-year-olds discover way to increase crop yields for Combating the Global Food Crisis project Garden-loving teenagers Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey, and Sophie Healy-Thow of Ireland won the Google Science Fair 2014 with their Combating the Global Food Crisis project. The 16-year-olds paired a bacteria often found in symbiotic relationships with legumes with crops it doesn’t typically associate with, namely oats and barley. Crops that tested their unique pairing were wildly successful, germinating in about half the time and producing a 74 percent greater drymass yield. Increasing crop yields is vital as the global population grows, and discoveries like this one could greatly impact the way we combat food poverty . 19-year-old invents Ocean Cleanup Array For several years now, Inhabitat has been covering the efforts of The Ocean Cleanup CEO Boyan Slat of the Netherlands , who at 19 years old invented an Ocean Cleanup Array , and we’re continually impressed by his persistence. The Ocean Cleanup recently completed their first aerial reconnaissance mission of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch . The results weren’t pretty – 1,000 large plastic pieces spotted in two hours – but there’s still hope to clean up the mess we’ve made. The Ocean Cleanup won the Katerva Award in 2016 , and feasibility studies indicate one 63-mile array could “remove 42 percent of the Great Pacific garbage patch in only 10 years.” 12-year-old builds inexpensive, working Braille printer 12-year-old Shubham Banerjee of California utilized a Lego Mindstorms EV3 kit and about $5 of hardware from Home Depot to design an innovative Braille printer , the Braigo v1.0, that cost way less than similar devices. Around 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide, according to World Health Organization data, but as Braille printers cost over $2,000 when Banerjee invented his device, his disruptive technology held the potential to change how the blind communicate. He went on to start a company, Braigo Labs , and about three years later, has released an app and web platform and continues to develop his groundbreaking printer (and he’s still in high school.) 17-year-old creates a device that can purify water and produce clean energy simultaneously Millions of people around the world live without electricity or clean water , and 17-year-old Cynthia Sin Nga Lam of Australia decided to tackle both issues at once with her portable H2Pro device. The H2Pro unit harnesses photocatalysis, or using light to speed up a chemical reaction, to sterilize water. As a side bonus, the process also yields hydrogen , which Lam said could be used to produce electricity. 17-year-old designs human waste bioreactor to turn human poo into clean energy When Kenya ‘s Maseno School opened up new dormitories for over 700 students in 2013, the area around the students’ home often smelled because of pit latrines and a defective sewage system, which also polluted local freshwater. High schooler Leroy Mwasaru and four friends came up with a solution: a human waste bioreactor that could transform waste into a clean cooking fuel for the kitchen, which had been using firewood. Today, Mwasaru is the founder of Greenpact , a group aiming to provide biogas solutions to over six million Kenyans who lack access to adequate sanitation and renewable energy . 17-year-old and 18-year-old design $13 germ-killing door handle 17-year-old Sun Ming (Simon) Wong and 18-year-old King Pong (Michael) Li of Hong Kong knew bacteria spreads via handles on doors or shopping carts touched by hundreds of people daily. So they hunted for a material that could kill that bacteria and found an answer in titanium oxide. Instead of simply coating a handle in titanium oxide, though, they added an LED light into a bracket holding the handle to truly activate the compound, which can then annihilate 99.8 percent of germs . Even better, the device only costs around $13, meaning it could be accessible for more people worldwide. 16-year-old utilizes ingredients found in pencils and sunscreen to create pollution-cleansing coating Sunscreen and pencils might not be the first two items you’d go to for answers to clean up pollution , but 16-year-old Samuel Burrow of England utilized two ingredients found in those common items to create a “paint-like coating” that has the power to break down pollutants with the help of light. He mixed titanium dioxide with graphene oxide for a concoction with not one, but several applications, in addition to a surface paint. As a sponge, Burrow’s mixture can purify water, and when combined with sand, it has the potential to filter heavy metals out of water. Just imagine how clean the world could be if all buildings were painted with Burrow’s marvelous mix. Images via Brit + Co ; Ciara Judge, Émer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow on Google+ ; The Ocean Cleanup ; Shubham Banerjee ; Google Science Fair ; Innovate Kenya ; Student Society for Science ; and screenshot

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8 teenage inventions that could save the world

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