This high-tech LED lighting could grow veggies in space

January 22, 2019 by  
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Move over, freeze-dried foods and Tang. The astronauts of tomorrow may be growing veggies in their spacecraft or even on the moon and Mars. OSRAM , a global high-tech lighting company, showed off its PHYTOFY horticultural lighting system at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) . PHYTOFY RL uses LED lights that can be tuned, controlled and scheduled for different research applications. NASA is experimenting with PHYTOFY at the Kennedy Space Center to create plant recipes, which could eventually be used at the international space station. “While space is limited on spacecraft, NASA hopes to eventually scale up to larger growing areas, such as the lunar surface, the Martian surface or even during space transit,” said Steve Graves, strategic program manager for urban and digital farming. Related: Can vertical farming feed the world and change the agriculture industry? The PHYTOFY system includes an electric light unit, control gear and software. “The ability to control and schedule spectra, dosing plants photon by photon, is extremely innovative, especially when put into the hands of plants scientists,” Graves said. Despite the allure of space, OSRAM isn’t giving up on this planet. The plantCube is an Earth-based example of horticultural tech in OSRAM’s CES 2019 display. This hydroponic “smart garden,” made by agrilution, uses OSRAM’s LED technology to make it easy to grow greens and herbs. “With the plantCube, we meet two different global trends: the desire for people living in big cities to have a healthy diet alongside a switch to local food production,” Maximilian Lössl, co-founder of agrilution, said. “With this closed system, you are able to reduce water consumption and keep the use of fertilizers to a minimum, while eliminating the need for pesticides.” One of OSRAM’s breakthroughs — both in outer space and on Earth — is using different wavelengths of light to control plants’ growth cycles. Plants can then be harvested more or less frequently, as needed. “Light recipes” can also increase the nutrients and vitamins in plants and alter their flavors. OSRAM continues to collaborate with labs and universities to fine-tune and explore applications. + OSRAM Images via OSRAM

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This high-tech LED lighting could grow veggies in space

11 ways to be more self-sufficient in the new year

January 11, 2019 by  
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Self-sufficient living is all about providing for your own needs— and the needs of your household— without resources or help from the outside. To become more self-sufficient, you need knowledge and skills, plus motivation and a spirit of independence. The reasons for living a self-sufficient lifestyle can be political, social or personal, but whatever the motivation may be, learning how to become self-sufficient can offer a feeling of security, even in the event of a disaster. There isn’t a handbook for becoming self-sufficient, but once you change your thinking about dependency, there are things you can do to start living life off the grid in the new year. Plant a Garden Not only can you grow your own food and save the seeds for next year, but you can also plant herbs in pots in your windowsill and use them for medicinal purposes or create your own spice blends . Cook From Scratch This goes hand-in-hand with planting a garden. Cooking from scratch instead of pre-packaged meals in plastic or take-out is a big step towards becoming more self-sufficient. Make A Food Storage Plan Gardens are great, and not having to rely on the grocery store to feed your family is a fantastic goal. But, that will mean that you need to have a plan for storing your food. After properly storing the fruit and veggies from your garden in a freezer or cellar, make a plan for acquiring basics like flour, sugar, water, salt and powdered milk. You can do this one week at a time , and after a year, you will have plenty of essentials. Make Natural Cleaners Ditch those store-bought cleaners that are filled with potentially toxic chemicals and instead switch to making your own natural cleaning products . You can also make your own laundry detergent and set up a clothesline or drying rack for your clothes instead of using a dryer. Learn To Sew This is a big one. Back when our grandparents and great-grandparents were young, there was always someone in the family who knew how to sew anything and everything. Not only could they mend their clothing, but they could also make entire outfits instead of buying clothing from the store. But it’s not always about clothing, as you can sew a number of things like blankets, curtains, towels, napkins, wipes and handkerchiefs. Sewing is a skill that is essential for self-sufficient living. Get Out of Debt When you owe people money it’s impossible to become truly self-sufficient. So, cut up those credit cards, make a budget and put together a plan to get out of debt. It’s not easy, but neither is living a self-sufficient life. Drastically cutting your spending to pay off your debts can be a great experience on what it means to live a self-sufficient life. In addition to getting out of debt, stash some cash in a safe place in your home. Having an emergency fund is a huge advantage when unexpected things happen. Start an Emergency Kit Stock up on basic medical supplies like band-aids, gauze, rubbing alcohol and OTC pain meds, but you want to be prepared for more than just medical emergencies. You also can prepare for power outages with an emergency candle kit . Collect Rainwater Having access to your own water source is a big part of becoming self-sufficient. If you don’t have a well, but want to use your own water to take care of your property, set up a rain barrel with a hose to water your garden. Basic Car Maintenance If you don’t know how to change your own oil or replace a flat tire, now is the time to learn if you want to become self-sufficient. Also, washing your car at home instead of taking it to a car wash is another step you can take when you want to rely on yourself instead of outside sources. Start Exercising If you aren’t in good health it’s difficult to be self-sufficient. Eating food from your own garden and cooking from scratch are big steps towards living a healthy life. Once you add exercise into your daily routine, you will become your healthiest self, which makes it much easier to be self-sufficient. Solar Lights and Windmills One of the biggest ways to move towards a life off the grid is to produce your own power. You can install solar lights outside and put up a windmill on your property to help generate the power you need. Via The Real Farmhouse Images via Couleur , FitNishMedia , Shutterstock

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11 ways to be more self-sufficient in the new year

MVRDV proposes a glowing Times Square Taiwan with interactive media facades

January 11, 2019 by  
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Prolific Dutch architecture firm MVRDV has unveiled a bold proposal to transform Taipei’s Main Station into a “Times Square for Taiwan.” Designed as part of a consortium led by Nan Hai Development, the Taipei Twin Towers aim to reactivate the area with two high-rises clad in interactive media facades. The mixed-use project would offer new retail, office space, two cinemas and two hotels, in addition to the unification and redevelopment of the existing plazas. Located on the east side of the city, Taipei Main Station is currently ensnared in an aging concrete jungle and offers an arrival sequence — the transportation hub includes access to inter- and intra-city buses, metro and the airport railway — that MVRDV principal and co-founder Winy Maas has described as an “anti-climax.” To revitalize the area as a tourist and shopping destination, the architects have proposed stacking a mix of small and large blocks together into “vertical village” skyscrapers. The smaller blocks, located near the bottom, would house different retail outlets while the larger blocks above would contain the offices, cinemas and two hotels. The blocks will be strategically stacked to not only create public atriums  but to also allow for natural ventilation. Landscaped terraces will be located on the top of the retail blocks and connected via escalators and elevated walkways. Some blocks would also be covered with interactive media displays that can be programmed to show major cultural spectacles, sporting events or advertising for the retail tenants. Related: Shimmering bamboo-shaped skyscraper to rise in Taipei “The Taipei Twin Towers will turn this area into the downtown that Taipei deserves, with its vibrant mixture of activities matched only by the vibrant collection of facade treatments on the stacked neighborhood above,” Winy Maas explained. “We break down the required program into pleasant small blocks that echo the surrounding urban quarters, thus fitting the density fit into its surroundings. People can climb over the blocks to the top — a true vertical village . And the space in between allows for social gatherings and natural ventilation.” + MVRDV Images via MVRDV

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MVRDV proposes a glowing Times Square Taiwan with interactive media facades

9 sustainable living tips to take from our grandparents

January 7, 2019 by  
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Our grandparents and great-grandparents lived in a simpler time, and we aren’t just talking about technology . During the Great Depression, many rural areas didn’t have running water or electricity, and things like proper refrigeration, freezers and air conditioning were a luxury. What’s more, big-box chains and massive supermarkets didn’t exist, and you didn’t have the option of throwing a pre-packaged meal into a microwave or hitting a drive-thru for lunch. Many modern conveniences are great, and in many ways, living in 2019 is much more enjoyable than 1935. But there are a lot of things we can learn from older generations to help live a more sustainable life. Here are some things our grandparents and great-grandparents did to live a simpler life that was a lot more eco-friendly. Make meals from scratch For the first time in American history, people are eating at restaurants more than they are cooking at home . In 2016, sales in restaurants passed grocery sales, meaning that people are spending more on eating out than eating in. Cooking from scratch is starting to become a skill that fewer and fewer of us know how to do, and that is resulting in people not knowing where their food comes from or how it was prepared. Related: 10 tasty and easy vegan dinner ideas Not only is cooking a survival skill that everyone should have, but preparing food at home makes you more self-sufficient, and it leads to a healthier diet. Plus, it saves your family a ton of cash, and it is much more environmentally friendly. You will use less packaging when you buy fresh ingredients, and when you skip the restaurant, you can reduce your food waste . If it breaks, fix it We admit that things are made differently than they used to be. With the strategy of planned obsolescence , products aren’t designed to last as long and can break rather easily. From fashion to cars to appliances to electronics, things break, go out of style and become obsolete faster than ever. This can lead to spending money on the newest gadgets and trends, even though we could easily fix what is broken or alter what we have to fit our needs. Our grandparents knew how to mend their clothes and fix broken items, or at least knew where to go to get things fixed. Instead of tossing things out the moment they aren’t perfect, take the time to fix or mend them. Bring your lunch Remember when having a sweet lunchbox was an important part of your life? I loved my old-school metal Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox when I was in first grade, and I didn’t even realize that I was eco-friendly while being stylish. Instead of hitting a vending machine or drive-thru for lunch, avoid the single-use plastic packaging and pack your own sandwich and sides at home, or brown-bag last night’s leftovers. For our grandparents, eating out was a special occasion, not something you do every day. Plant a garden Now this is one popular trend that is rooted in the past. Buying local or growing food in your own garden was a staple of life for our grandparents and great-grandparents. Growing veggies and herbs is something you can easily do, no matter if you live in a rural or urban area, and it is friendly to the environment and your wallet. Related: How to grow a lush garden in your tiny kitchen windowsill Shop smart Those who lived through the Great Depression knew what it meant to be smart with their purchases. If they couldn’t afford it, they didn’t buy it, and they never bought more than they needed. Buying in bulk and using up everything that you buy is a much more sustainable way to live. Buy less and use it all. Go to the store with a specific plan, and reduce those impulse buys. Downsize Less stuff means less worry, and that is what minimalism is all about. That doesn’t mean you have to get rid of every modern convenience, but saying no to some things will help reduce your waste and make life tidier. Huge homes, closets full of clothes you don’t wear and cupboards full of food you won’t eat were foreign concepts to our grandparents. Those things would just give you more things to pay for, service and clean. You don’t have to downsize absolutely every aspect of your life, but simply getting rid of excess clutter can make a big difference in your quality of life and environmental impact. Use a clothesline One of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to give your dryer a rest and hang up your clothes to dry. This option will keep your clothes from shrinking, and your sheets, blankets, shirts and tees will smell clean and fresh. Start sewing During the Great Depression, nearly every household had at least one person that knew how to full-out sew . But now, it’s hard to find people that even know how to sew a button. Get the most out of your clothes and shoes by learning how to patch a hole, replace a zipper or fix a hem. We aren’t saying you have to make all of your own clothes, but knowing how to fix basic problems can lead to more a sustainable lifestyle with less waste. Related: How to sew buttons onto pants and shirts Rethink disposables Ziploc bags didn’t show up until the 1960s, so our grandparents and great-grandparents would store things in jars. After they were done using them, they would wash and reuse. Instead of using single-use plastics to store food or pack your lunch, use containers that you can use over and over again to help reduce waste. Images via Oldmermaid ,  Bruno Glätsch , Maxmann , Priscilla Du Preez , Maria Michelle , Monika P , Monicore and Shutterstock

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9 sustainable living tips to take from our grandparents

Gardening With Goats

September 11, 2018 by  
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Hiring garden goats was a huge trend a couple years … The post Gardening With Goats appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Gardening With Goats

Earth911 Podcast, Aug. 31, 2018: Sustainability In Your Ear — Community Gardening’s Annual Meetup

August 31, 2018 by  
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Bill Maynard, a leader in the American Community Gardening Association … The post Earth911 Podcast, Aug. 31, 2018: Sustainability In Your Ear — Community Gardening’s Annual Meetup appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Podcast, Aug. 31, 2018: Sustainability In Your Ear — Community Gardening’s Annual Meetup

PittMoss: Recycled Soil Substitute Delivers Better Growth With One-Third the Water

June 7, 2018 by  
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PittMoss was a surprising discovery for me several weeks ago. … The post PittMoss: Recycled Soil Substitute Delivers Better Growth With One-Third the Water appeared first on Earth911.com.

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PittMoss: Recycled Soil Substitute Delivers Better Growth With One-Third the Water

Climate Victory Garden campaign aims to "Make America Green Again"

May 22, 2018 by  
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Want to take action  in the fight against climate change? Plant a garden! During World War II, people in the U.S. planted around 20 million victory gardens. Green America aims to bring the concept back with Climate Victory Gardens to combat climate change . Their goal is to help launch 40 million Climate Victory Gardens that together produce 12 million tons of produce . They hope everyday citizens will leverage their gardens as forces for change. “Instead of gardening in support of war efforts, we are gardening to fight climate change,” the Green America website states. Green America is encouraging people to cultivate Climate Victory Gardens as an individual way of lowering carbon emissions . The organization also encourages practices such as composting , cover crops, perennials and no-till to boost soil health so it will sequester carbon . Plus, local food tends to be more sustainable — it hasn’t traveled long distances to reach a consumer. To match the level of scale of victory gardens in the 1940s, Green America set its goal for 40 million Climate Victory Gardens. Related: Amazon patents network-based ‘gardening service’ Is 40 million gardens a realistic goal? A 2014 report from the National Gardening Association  found that 42 million households in America are growing food either in a community garden or at home. Existing gardens could adopt climate-friendly practices to become Climate Victory Gardens. “Americans want to take actions that have a direct impact on climate change. They are also increasingly concerned about the chemicals on store-bought produce,” said Todd Larsen, executive co-director of consumer and corporate engagement at Green America. “Climate Victory Gardens gives us all a way to reduce our impact on the planet, while ensuring the food we feed our families is safe and nutritious.” Green America’s Climate Victory Gardens map currently lists more than 275 gardens across the U.S. and around the world. Add your garden to the map or commit to growing one on Green America’s website . + Climate Victory Gardens + Green America Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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Climate Victory Garden campaign aims to "Make America Green Again"

Brooklyn Grange announces a new location in a former WWII shipyard

May 15, 2018 by  
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Inhabitat is thrilled to announce that New York City urban farming group Brooklyn Grange is launching its first location outside the city — at Kearny Point in New Jersey. The location holds its own storied past: a former World War I and World War II shipbuilding yard in an industrial area that’s spiraled downhill, Kearny Point is undergoing redevelopment under recycling corporation Hugo Neu . Inhabitat caught up with Brooklyn Grange COO and co-founder Gwen Schantz and Hugo Neu CEO Wendy Neu to learn about the project’s emphasis on not only economic revitalization but also the restoration of local ecology . At Kearny Point in New Jersey, Brooklyn Grange will help with  landscaping , converting just under three acres of sod into a native meadow. In addition, the group will help transform about an acre of former parking lot space into a demonstration garden, complete with a vegetable patch and children’s play area, as well as host plant sales and educational workshops. Although none of these gardens will be on rooftops, Brooklyn Grange does plan to host green roof workshops using a Kearny Point roof. Related: 6 urban farms feeding the world Schantz told Inhabitat, “We know what these industrial spaces can become and how they can be reinvented. We’ve seen the evolution of the Navy Yard. When we talked to the people at Hugo Neu about their vision about Kearny Point, we really got it. It resonated with us.” Neu is one of the people behind that vision. She told Inhabitat that Kearny Point, which is between the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers, was once a main economic driver for the area as “one of the most productive shipbuilding facilities in the world.” During World War II, 35,000 people worked on the 130-acre site. But after the war, the shipbuilding industry died in the United States. Hugo Neu acquired Kearny Point in the 1960s and dismantled ships, but that operation shut down around 1985. Until recently, Kearny Point was an industrial warehouse distribution facility. “ Hurricane Sandy was a defining moment for us because we were approximately four feet underwater. We’d never had any kind of issue with flooding. My late husband and I know climate change is coming and the environment is changing dramatically, and we had to think about what we were going to do with this site,” Neu told Inhabitat. After her husband passed away suddenly, Neu joined forces with Steve Nislick, former Edison Properties CEO, with the goal of doing “something transformative.” The new vision for Kearny Point includes offices for startups, coworking spaces, and a waterfront opened to the public. “The opportunity to take a heavy industrial site like this and integrate all the new technology – wind, solar, stormwater – and be able to show we can have people growing businesses without having to harm the environment but also actually improve it at the same time is, to me, a very compelling opportunity,” Neu said. Brooklyn Grange is “an indication of just what the possibilities are.” The project’s native meadow serves as a prime example. According to Schantz, when people try to convert land into meadows or gardens, they sometimes kill what’s growing there with pesticides . Brooklyn Grange is taking a more natural approach: they’re suffocating grass and enriching the soil with the help of recycled materials , such as leftover cardboard from a nearby shipping company and wood mulch from a local tree service, both of which the urban farming group inoculated with blue oyster mushrooms. Once this process is complete, they’ll plant native flowers and grasses. “Our approach is, let’s take this strip of land which has had a rough history along a railroad track, it has not been loved the way it could be, and give it a new lease on life and make it a place where insects and birds can feed and nest, and restore it the way it might have looked before there was a shipyard here,” said Schantz. How will Kearny Point handle natural disasters in the future? Neu said that not only are they raising the site up two feet, they’re creating at least 25 acres of open space and putting in bioswales to boost the site’s resiliency. “We’ll have underground parking that will serve as reservoirs for water that comes onto the site. We’ll remove as many impervious surfaces as possible, which is huge in terms of the amount that gets discharged into the Hackensack, and we’re going to do everything to improve the quality of what gets discharged,” said Neu. “I want to minimize our impact as much as possible. We have to be able to figure out how to have people prosper without destroying the environment and further degrading it.” Brooklyn Grange’s first plant sale will be Sunday, May 20, from 10 a.m.to 4 p.m. “We’re really excited to be reaching out to our neighbors across the river,” Schantz said. “We know there’s already a culture of gardening here in the Garden State, and so we’re excited to bring some of our urban farming techniques and our general mindset of sustainable, organic gardening to the local community and hopefully get people excited about growing their own food .” + Brooklyn Grange + Hugo Neu + Kearny Point Images courtesy of Valery Rizzo

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Brooklyn Grange announces a new location in a former WWII shipyard

This hexagonal indoor farm grows more food in less space with 90% less water

March 26, 2018 by  
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Hexagro ‘s Living Farming Tree is a groundbreaking indoor garden that uses technology to grow food faster using less space. The innovative design combines aeroponics with efficient grow lights, full automation, and a modular tiered structure to optimize space, crop yield, and water use – allowing anyone to grow crops in practically any room. Hexagro aims to bring nature indoors and nurture the urban farming movement. This goal led them to create Living Farming Tree, an automated vertical growing system controllable with an app. As seen in the video above, poles and hexagonal connectors pop together to create the tree, providing a structure to support small growing modules. The system, which can be customized and scaled up with more modules, is built entirely with recyclable materials . Related: Build your own indoor garden with modular LEGO-like blocks Living Farming Tree uses aeroponics , a process that enables urban growers to cultivate produce sans soil or pesticides and with around 90 to 98 percent less water. The plants flourish in an inert substrate with roots hanging underneath; well-aerated, their roots absorb nutrients via a nutrient mist and oxygen, causing the plants to grow faster and taste better. According to Hexagro, this system—which boasts low energy consumption—allows for a 150 percent increase in the plants’ nutritional value as well. The tree also lets you sit back and relax, for the most part: LED lights, sensors, and a proprietary monitoring computer keep your maintenance time to a minimum. Leafy greens, sprouts, herbs, air-filtering plants, or small fruits like strawberries will be available for budding urban farmers, and Hexagro hopes to offer spices, edible and non-edible flowers, and even vegetables like eggplants or tomatoes in the future. Sold yet? Their website does not yet say how much the Living Farming Tree will cost, but Hexagro’s first international crowdfunding campaign is in the works, and you can let the sales team know you’re interested via this Google Documents form . In the words of CEO Felipe Hernandez, “With your help, [Hexagro] will transform your house into an indoor farm . Anybody, anywhere, can access healthy food .” + Hexagro Urban Farming Images courtesy of Hexagro Urban Farming

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This hexagonal indoor farm grows more food in less space with 90% less water

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