10 Ways To Reuse Coffee Grounds and Tea Bags

August 7, 2020 by  
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If Jack Frost is nipping at your nose this winter, you’re probably reaching for that favorite hot beverage to warm your bones on frigid days. But what to do with all those spent coffee grounds and tea bags? From cleaning your furniture to shining…

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10 Ways To Reuse Coffee Grounds and Tea Bags

Natural pink walls make up this eco-friendly hotel in Oaxaca

July 7, 2020 by  
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Designed by studios Taller Lu’um and At-te, the Monte Uzulu boutique hotel in Oaxaca, Mexico has doors made from  local wood  and walls crafted with a combination of concrete, earth and natural lime. The name comes from the word gusulú, meaning “beginning” in the region’s indigenous Zapotec language. As the hotel resides in the small fishing village of San Agustinillo, the designers wanted to honor the land surrounding the site by modeling the hotel to be close to nature. The  Pacific Ocean  can be found just a short walk away from the property, and construction kept as many trees as possible intact to make less of an environmental impact. According to the architectural team, a roughly 1,000-year-old jungle surrounds the hotel, so respecting the trees became a pivotal part of the design plan. Related: Ancient Mayan-inspired Casa Merida operates off the grid in Mexico Monte Uzulu’s balance with nature shows in its construction materials, which include natural elements such as locally-sourced wood,  soil  and dried palm leaves. A pink rendering of earth, lime and natural pigment covers the concrete walls, applied by hand and palette knife. The open-sided structure, moveable wood walls and thatched roof are modeled after the palapa design that is native to this part of western  Mexico . This design promotes natural ventilation and less sun exposure, making it perfect for the area’s hot weather. Six rectangular structures with gabled roofs connect with a series of stairs, making up 11 guest suites and about 7,782 square feet of total area. Each room has a terrace overlooking the jungle and ocean, with interior  concrete  walls left exposed to match the concrete floors and fixtures. Local artisans crafted the furniture, such as shelves and bed frames, using local wood. Sustainability measures, including a  rainwater collection system , water recycling system, natural water pools and a biodigester to convert organic waste, are implemented to reduce the hotel’s environmental impact even further. + Monte Uzulu Via Dezeen

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Natural pink walls make up this eco-friendly hotel in Oaxaca

COVID-19 disrupts recycling programs across the US

July 7, 2020 by  
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The pandemic is impacting yet another part of our world: recycling programs. The recycling industry is being riddled by budget shortfalls, an increase in single-use items and a shortage of centers open to receive reusable items. Since people have become more cautious about person-to-person transfer of COVID-19, single-use items are increasing. Many stores have banned reusable bags, and places, like Starbucks, aren’t refilling customers’ personal coffee cups. Restaurants have upped their use of plastic takeout packaging. Related: Starbucks suspends personal cup use because of coronavirus But most people are staying home, where they generate more garbage . The Solid Waste Association of North America noted a 20% average increase in solid waste and recycling in March and April, and some cities have reported even higher increases. Chicago’s waste has gone up by almost 50%. People are suddenly finding it harder to recycle and reuse. Spring cleaning became a popular pandemic activity, but charity stores weren’t open to accept donations of household goods. Meanwhile, many municipalities responded to severe budget shortfalls by axing their recycling programs. The U.S. recycling problems predate the pandemic. Since 2018, when other countries stopped buying poorly sorted recyclables and dirty food packaging from the U.S., recyclers have been strapped for customers. China used to buy up to 700,000 tons of scrap from the U.S. every year. Compounding that, oil prices are at the lowest they’ve been in decades, pushing the cost of virgin plastic down and making it less profitable to recycle plastics like PET (#1) and PE (#2 and #4). COVID-19 has also changed waste collection. Waste companies have come up with new procedures to protect workers from disease exposure while handling trash and recyclables. Recycling requires hands-on sorting, because machines aren’t as skilled as people at making sense of the collection stream. As companies try to minimize germ contact, they’re slowly improving automation. While recycling is down, the full picture of the pandemic and waste is not yet clear. “Historically, waste output from the commercial and industrial sectors has far outweighed the municipal stream,” co-authors Brian J. Love and Julie Rieland, a professor of materials science and engineering and a PhD candidate in macromolecular science and engineering, respectively, wrote on EcoWatch . “ With many offices and business closed or operating at low levels, total U.S. waste production could actually be at a record low during this time. However, data on commercial and industrial wastes are not readily available.” Via EcoWatch Image via Manfred Antranias Zimmer

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COVID-19 disrupts recycling programs across the US

Appalachian Trail spared from Atlantic Coast Pipeline

July 7, 2020 by  
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Duke Energy Corp. and Dominion Energy Inc. have canceled the controversial 600-mile-long Atlantic Coast Pipeline that the companies planned to build under the Appalachian Trail. The  energy  giants called off the $8 billion project “due to ongoing delays and increasing cost uncertainty which threaten the economic viability of the project.” This news comes as a win for the environmentalists who have spent years fighting this disruption to the Appalachian Trail in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. The pipeline’s route was supposed to start in the gas fields of Harrison County,  West Virginia , then travel southeast through Virginia, ending in Robeson County, North Carolina. This route would have crossed both the Appalachian Trail and Virginia’s Blue Ridge Parkway. Related: Dakota Access Pipeline placed under environmental review Anti-pipeline activists took their battle to the Supreme Court, striving to preserve nature and protect local  endangered species . In June, the court ruled in favor of the utility companies. So, the pipeline cancellation announcement came as both a surprise and cause for celebration. “Its effective defeat today is a huge victory for  Virginia’s  environment, for environmental justice, and a testament to the power of grassroots action, the hundreds of driven, determined, frontline advocates who never stopped fighting this misguided project,” Michael Town, executive director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters, said in a statement. Greenpeace also weighed in. “Duke and Dominion had hoped to carve up beautiful mountains, ignore catastrophic climate change, and delay a just transition to renewable energy to build this pipeline, but, thanks to the courageous activists who stood up to them, they have failed,” the organization said. But not everybody was rejoicing. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) issued a statement of regret, insisting the pipeline would have been safely constructed and that the surrounding areas would have been protected. The Virginia Chamber of Commerce also lamented that the estimated 17,000 jobs the  pipeline  project would have created will not come to fruition. “Unfortunately, today’s announcement detrimentally impacts the Commonwealth’s access to affordable, reliable energy,” the chamber said in a statement. “It also demonstrates the significant regulatory burdens  businesses  must deal with in order to operate.” + Huffington Post Images via Fibonacci Blue

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Tiny timber cabin opens up to the French countryside

April 7, 2020 by  
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Kyoto-based architecture 2m26 used locally sourced materials to build a peaceful tiny timber cabin tucked into the French countryside. At just 376 square feet, La Petite Maison is compact, but floor-to-ceiling glass panels, multiple sliding glass doors and an open courtyard strategically connect the home’s interior to its quaint surroundings, making it feel vast. Located in the picturesque countryside of Guitinières in southwestern France, the tiny cabin was built onsite. From the onset, the architects were inspired to create a small, minimalist living space that blended seamlessly into its natural surroundings. Related: Transparent, prefab tiny cabin offers the best views of the Italian Alps La Petit Maison boasts a strategic design that makes it feel much more open and spacious than its square footage would lead one to believe. Made out of locally sourced materials , the square frame is crafted from light Douglas fir. The frame is elevated off the landscape with small concrete piles to reduce its site impact as much as possible. In order to open up the tiny home, which is designed to be a guest house, the architects decided to use multiple massive panels of glass to usher in views of the idyllic countryside. Several sliding glass doors and floor-to-ceiling windows flood the interior with natural light and blur the line between the indoors and outdoors. Additionally, guests can enjoy spending time in the open-air courtyard that sits between the living space and the exterior. The minimalist interiors feature sparse furnishings. Made out of the same locally sourced wood as the structure, the furniture inside the tiny timber cabin is completely utilitarian, with just enough pieces for seating, dining and sleeping. Although the interior design is completely free of any sort of frivolous amenities, the guest house provides visitors with a relaxing, no-frills place to disconnect from stress while reconnecting with nature. + 2m26 Images via 2m26

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Marc Thorpe designs live/work buildings built from earth bricks

February 20, 2020 by  
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New York-based architecture studio Marc Thorpe Design has unveiled renderings for the Dakar Houses, a series of live/work spaces for the artisans of furniture brand Moroso, located on the outskirts of the Senegalese capital of Dakar. Designed with compressed earth bricks, a common building material in western Senegal, the multipurpose units take inspiration from the local architectural vernacular. The economical earth bricks also have the advantage of thermal mass to provide comfortable indoor temperatures without artificial heating or cooling.  Created to house Moroso’s Dakar-based artisans, the Dakar Houses will consist of two apartments that flank a central workshop for manufacturing the furniture brand’s decade-old line of handcrafted and brightly colored outdoor furnishings. In echoing the furniture line’s celebration of local craftsmanship, the Dakar Houses also pay homage to building materials and techniques common to the West African region.  Related: Ancient green building technique helps ease West Africa housing crisis “The intention was to create a work-based community allowing a village to develop around a central economic constituent,” Marc Thorpe Design explained. “The units are designed to house the workers as well as various parts of the manufacturing process of M’Afrique’s furniture , such as the handicraft work of welding and weaving. The apartments would be designed based on the required space for each individual family.” Each unit comprises three volumes — two apartments and a central workspace — that are staggered to create favorable solar shading conditions. Steeply pitched roofs top the minimalist units, which are left unadorned to emphasize the earth bricks. Made from local soil, the bricks are cured over several weeks. Next, they are soaked in water each morning, then baked in the sun beneath a tarp until they are ready for construction. During the day, the earthen walls absorb heat to provide a cool indoor environment; at night, that heat is slowly dissipated and warms the air.  + Marc Thorpe Design Images via Marc Thorpe Design

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Marc Thorpe designs live/work buildings built from earth bricks

New guest home in Estonia uses a weathered metal facade to blend into ancient castle ruins

February 1, 2019 by  
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Visitors to the the ruins of a 14th-century castle in Vastseliina, Estonia will now have a beautiful place to stay in this beautiful guest home by Estonian architects, Kaos Architects . The Pilgrims’ House was clad in a weathered steel to compliment the ancient ruins of a 14th-century castle. Located in southeastern Estonia, the complex is a medieval setting with the ruins of a 14th century castle and an old pub house tucked into the rolling green hills and valleys adjacent to the Piusa river. When tasked with designing a guest home for the unique space, the bucolic atmosphere prompted the architects to create something that would be modern and comfortable, but that would blend in seamlessly with the landscape as well as the older buildings on site. Related:Modern gabled guesthouse embraces passive solar in Australia Along with the idyllic landscape, the architects were also inspired by the castle’s long history . After a miracle was reported to have taken place there in 1353, the castle complex became a popular pilgrimage destination. Although in ruins today, the site is used as an “experience center” to welcome guests who would like to experience the medieval way of life. To create the new addition to the complex , the architects tucked the Pilgrims’ House into a deep slope in the landscape so that it would not block the view of the castle ruins. Partially hidden by bushes and trees, the center’s weathered metal facade was intentionally used so that it would compliment the red brick and granite of the ruins. On the interior of the building, the design went medieval through and through. High ceilings and wooden doors, brick floors and secret niches create a vibrant, fresh interior with plenty of medieval features such as the steel chandeliers. Various small windows are reminiscent of early castles, offering scenic views while providing the utmost in privacy. In one room, a jet black wall showcases white graphics that were inspired by old engravings, featuring the area’s long history. Guests will enjoy a stay in the Pilgrim’s House where the personnel is dressed in medieval clothing and serve traditional fare. Although the guest rooms are quite humble, they do have hints of modern comforts such as a claw foot bathtub and simple Scandinavian-inspired furniture . + KAOS Architects Via Archdaily Photography by Terje Ugandi and Maris Tomba via KAOS Architects

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New guest home in Estonia uses a weathered metal facade to blend into ancient castle ruins

This luxurious tiny home is powered by Southern Californian sunshine

January 15, 2019 by  
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Who says a tiny house can’t be luxurious? Certainly not David Latimer and Taylor Mallon of New Frontier Tiny Homes, designers of this comfortable and alluring solar-powered tiny home. The contemporary farmhouse style of the Orchid House allows for off-grid living without sacrificing comfort, and it is entirely powered by solar energy. Though it was built in Nashville, the Orchid House currently resides on an undeveloped piece of property in Southern California . The owner is an LA-based artist who decided a tiny house was the best option for the remote space. The structure is built on wheels, so it can be moved easily for relocation or emergencies (like wildfires, from which it recently had to be saved). Related: Breathtakingly beautiful tiny home is surprisingly luxurious inside The structure is wholly powered by the famous Southern Californian sunshine. Both the siding and the roof of the house are made of the same dimensional cedar. The designer used an intricate process to give the roof a floating appearance inspired by Scandinavian architecture . The inside walls and ceiling of this beautiful tiny home are made of maple plywood, except for inside the bathroom, which is made entirely of tile and mirrors. The floor is solid oak and all the furniture is walnut. New Frontier Tiny Homes custom-built all of the furniture except for the kitchen table and chairs, which are from West Elm. A combination of floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights brings  natural light into the entire dwelling. A garage door allows for the opening up of the entire wall as well, so there’s a sense of openness between the interior and the natural environment outside. The designers’ love of clean lines inspired the storage, which is completely hidden. The open-floor plan makes room for a guest area, and the loft has space for a lavish king-sized bed. The restroom features a full-sized shower and “The Rolls Royce of non-flushable toilets ,” according to the designers. The incinerator toilet ensures there are no pesky sewer or septic systems for the property, making it both uncomplicated and environmentally friendly. As gorgeous as this home looks during the day, it is just as breathtaking at night. Inspired by a total solar eclipse witnessed in 2017, the designers used valence LED lighting strips to create a lovely glowing effect around the light fixtures and front porch. Each lighting strip can be dimmed and has a separate switch. + New Frontier Tiny Homes Via Dwell Photography by StudioBuell Photography via New Frontier Tiny Homes

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This luxurious tiny home is powered by Southern Californian sunshine

Greenhouse gas emissions rose during 2018 after three year decline

January 15, 2019 by  
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After a solid decline for the past three years, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the United States rose in 2018. According to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), power generation, natural gas and oil consumption resulted in an emissions increase of 3.4 percent, marking the second largest annual gain since 1996. The only year that emissions increased at a more significant rate was 2010, when emissions went up 3.6 percent after a huge recession-driven decline the year before. Even though a record number of coal-fired power plants closed last year, natural gas replaced the majority of the lost generation rather than instead renewables — and also fed the demand for electricity growth. The result of using natural gas over renewables meant a 1.9 percent increase in power sector emissions. However, the biggest source of emissions for the third year in a row was the transportation sector due to the growing demand for diesel and jet fuel that offset a noticeable decline in gasoline consumption. Related: University of Waterloo has created a CO2 powder which could help fight climate change Because of unusual cold weather in the beginning of 2018, the building and industrial sectors also showed significant emissions gains. But, there has also been very little progress in these sectors when it comes to decarbonization strategies. In the United States, CO2 emissions from fossil fuels peaked back in 2007 at approximately 6 billion tons, but thanks to the great recession and the switch in power generation from coal to natural gas, wind and solar, emissions fell by 12.1 percent (an average of 1.6 percent per year) between 2007 and 2015. Yet in the last couple of years the pace of emissions decline has slowed down. Not to mention, the lack of a proper climate change policy will leave the U.S. at risk of putting the Paris Agreement reduction goals (26-28 percent cut below 2005 levels by 2025) out of reach. + Rhodium Group Image via cwizner

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Greenhouse gas emissions rose during 2018 after three year decline

California’s "Skip the Slip" bill pushes for digital receipts

January 15, 2019 by  
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A legislator in the California Assembly has introduced a bill that, if passed, would require retailers to make digital receipts the default instead of paper. California Assemblymember Phil Ting (D – San Francisco) has introduced AB 161 , nicknamed “Skip the Slip.” If it becomes law, it would be the first of its kind in the United States. According to Green America , each year up to 10 million trees in the U.S. are used to make the paper for receipts, and the process takes 21 billion gallons of water. The receipts also produce a ton of waste — nearly 686 million pounds. If the state of California decides to skip the paper receipts, it will save 12 billion pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) from being released into the atmosphere, which is the equivalent of one million cars on the road. Related: 86% of teens in study have traces of BPA in their bodies In recent years, paper receipts have gotten longer and longer, thanks to the addition of coupons and member rewards programs. The length is not the only problem. According to the Ecology Center, approximately 93 percent of paper receipts are coated with BPA or BPS to help make them legible. Green America said, “When we touch receipts, the chemical coating is absorbed into our bodies through our hands in mere seconds.” There are documented connections between BPA and developmental and neurological problems. Researchers at the New York State Department of Health said that BPA also impacts fetal development, and it is linked to reproductive problems, type 2 diabetes and thyroid conditions. Beth Porter, Green America’s climate and recycling director, said that this new legislation would prevent millions of trees from being logged for paper receipts, and it will make California a leader on the issue. Some innovative companies are already doing their part to lessen the environmental impact and reduce the health risks that come with paper receipts. Businesses like Best Buy, Starbucks and Whole Foods Market are already offering digital receipts, and card readers for smartphones are also offering paperless transactions. + AB 161 Via Treehugger and  Green America Image via Shutterstock

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