Ugakei Circles sustainable nature park set to open in 2021

August 5, 2020 by  
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It’s no secret that tourism is often an incredibly important component to a destination’s economy. In the past, overconsumption and polluting modes of transport have given tourism a bad name. Now more than ever, the future of tourism is focusing on sustainability, and Inabe, a city located between two of Japan’s busiest cities (Kyoto and Nagoya), is no exception. This is the setting for Ugakei Circles, a sustainable tourism project set to open in spring 2021, consisting of overnight glamping cabins, estuary camping sites and a centralized communal area. The project is a collaboration between Danish and Japanese design teams focused on sustainable tourism development and low-impact, regenerative tourism. Related: Bee + Hive to help explorers book green hotels and sustainable tourism experiences Responsible for the project are Danish architects Tredje Natur, Japanese engineers Structured Environment and sustainability experts Henrik Innovation. The plan is to build the new park on an existing campground using only renewable materials and repurposed building waste . Design plans for the center building and the central courtyard feature optimal micro-climate conditions with wind protection and an optimized roof profile that catches the sun rays in the winter and provides shade in the summer. The park will include an overnight section that accommodates permanent Nordic cotton tents and cabins suited to glamping as well as a public river plateau where guests can pitch their own tents. All guests can take advantage of the property’s hiking routes, ocean views, mountain creeks and several natural waterfalls. There is an education center for children and adults to learn more about the nature that surrounds them through activities, a community hub, reception area and spaces for shops and workshops. The nature park proposal highlights the importance of outdoor activity and circular gatherings, as early civilizations in Denmark and Japan often centered their communities around the universal shape. “We believe the future is about circularity,” said Flemming Rafn Thomsen, lead architect and co-founder of Tredje Natur. “Our proposal is composed by a family of circles that define a series of sustainable communities. The master plan and buildings embody a unique environment and a regenerative ‘hygge’ experience in nature. It is our hope that our project will become the base camp for a new type of regional nature-based development that promote sustainable awareness and brings the gift of nature to many urban dwellers.” + Tredje Natur Images via Tredje Natur, Structured Environment and Henrik Innovation

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Ugakei Circles sustainable nature park set to open in 2021

Chef Mark Reinfeld opens a vegan culinary school in Colorado

April 15, 2020 by  
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If you’re interested in vegan food, you may already be familiar with Chef Mark Reinfeld. He was the founding chef at the Blossoming Lotus restaurants in Hawaii and Portland, Oregon, has authored eight cookbooks and was inducted into the Vegetarian Hall of Fame in 2017. For more than 20 years, Reinfeld has trained everybody from home cooks to top vegan chefs and consulted with corporations around the world. Now, he’s opening a brick-and-mortar vegan culinary school this fall ( pandemic permitting) in Boulder, Colorado. Reinfeld took some time to talk with Inhabitat about his new Vegan Fusion Culinary Academy. Inhabitat: What kind of students will attend your culinary school? Reinfeld: So the main program is we want to train people for a career in the plant-based culinary world. So we’re calling that the aspiring chef. We’re looking to have that be a four-month nationally accredited culinary program. We’ll offer job placement and support and help people get gigs out in the real world with the training. Related: Pixie Retreat — behind the scenes in a raw commercial kitchen And then we’ll do consulting, like professional chef trainings. So if you’re a chef out in the real world but you didn’t know anything about vegan or plant-based, you could come and take anywhere from a one- to five-day training. Then we’ll also be offering evening classes for date nights and vegan desserts, or vegan holidays, as well as kombucha-making and cheese-making, all-day and weekend workshops. The idea is to have it be a real community center where we’ll have movie screenings and we’ll be able to do benefit fundraising events for vegan and other environmental organizations to raise awareness and funds for some of those. Inhabitat: Besides yourself, who will be teaching the courses? Reinfeld: We’re going to have guest chefs come to teach. Fran Costigan is on the books to be the first visiting chef to do a course on vegan desserts. Miyoko offered to do a cheese-making class. If you look on the website on the Our Team page, you’ll see a lot of the leading voices in the plant-based culinary world will be passing through to do either a presentation or a cooking class with their expertise. Inhabitat: What else are you planning for the school? Reinfeld: My wife is a vegan naturopathic doctor, so she’s developing an eight-part Food is Medicine component of the aspiring chef program. We want to empower students with a basic knowledge of the health of a plant-based lifestyle. We’re also going to be working with the local medical community to create a CME, continuing medical education credit, for doctors and nurses to learn about the healing qualities of plant-based foods. Dr. [Michael] Greger and Dr. [Joel] Kahn have agreed to come to the school and teach. We’re bringing in the medical community that way, too. Inhabitat: Are you getting more acceptance now from the medical community about plant-based eating? Reinfeld: Yeah. Definitely, the movement is growing. And Dr. [Kim] Williams, who was the president of the American College of Cardiology, he’s also expressed a willingness to come to the school . He said cardiologists are either vegan or they haven’t seen the data. He’s a well-respected person there. Inhabitat: Tell us more about your motivation. Reinfeld: I like to consider what I do as food activism . Basically, by educating people on the how-to part of plant-based cuisine, like how to bring plant-based food into your daily rotation, I put in the activism category because you’re empowering people with the gift of their own health. Then, if they’re aware of the environmental impact or the animal welfare components, well, those benefits will occur whether people are aware of them or not. If they are aware of them, then it goes even further, I think. Inhabitat: What is your vision for the future of veganism in general and your students in particular? Reinfeld: I’ve been plant-based for 20-plus years, so I’ve seen a lot of changes occur — more recently than in years prior. It just feels like it is reaching a tipping point where it will be considered more mainstream to eat more plant-based. I would love for the students to be innovators and leaders. As far as where they wind up, whatever type of food service sector there is now will become more and more plant-based. Opportunities in any of those emerging plant-based industries like food trucks, restaurants , personal chefs that are able to help people have a foundation for a healthy, plant-based lifestyle. I could see them writing cookbooks and developing recipe formulas for major companies or consulting with companies on how to bring more plant-based foods into their food service. Part of what we think is cool is the people that come here to train will go back to their communities around the world and have their plant-based knowledge there. Inhabitat: What’s the best thing about being a vegan chef? Reinfeld: I like to show people that you can have food that’s amazing and still be plant-based. Inhabitat: What else should readers know about you, your work and the academy? Reinfeld: We’re really striving to create the best environment that we can for people to learn about the plant-based lifestyle and the cuisine in whatever way people are wanting to go with it. Whether it’s a home cook who wants fresh ideas for her family or a chef who’s been in the restaurant business for 20 years but needs training in plant-based cooking or a deep four-month immersion into cuisine and lifestyle… everyone’s welcome. + Vegan Fusion Culinary Academy Images via Mark Reinfeld

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Chef Mark Reinfeld opens a vegan culinary school in Colorado

How to properly and safely dispose of these 10 items in your home

February 10, 2020 by  
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Toxic chemicals, e-waste, light bulbs and batteries are just a few common household items that exit our homes and can end up in the landfill , where they may or may not break down or leach into the soil and water. Equally concerning is the potential for broken glass and chemicals to cause problems to sanitation workers, the water system and wildlife. Even when you make the best purchasing decisions upfront, you will eventually find yourself with toxic household waste. Before tossing items in the trash, check out these disposal options for items like batteries and paint that are safer for the planet. Tires Because most automotive, tractor and machine tires are a mixture of rubber and steel, they can’t be recycled without separating those components. As a result, you will likely have to pay to drop them somewhere. The landfill is one option, but you can commonly return them to a local tire center. Regardless of where you take it, the fee typically ranges from $2-10 per tire, so consider upcycling those old radials into a property border or flower bed divider. Related: EWG warns ‘forever chemicals’ are contaminating US drinking water at levels far worse than expected Light bulbs Your local recycling center probably accepts spent CFL light bulbs. Because CFL bulbs contain a small amount of mercury, it’s important that they are properly disposed of. Most large home improvement stores also provide a return option for CFLs and basic fluorescent bulbs. Depending on your local recycling center, LED or incandescent bulbs may be recyclable with your glass items. You can also visit Pinterest for ideas on ways to repurpose bulbs. Batteries The best option when it comes to batteries is to make the investment in rechargeable batteries. When they wear out, look for drop boxes at your local home improvement and office supply stores. For single-use household batteries, you can return them during city household waste collection events, or your recycling center may have a drop spot. Some home improvement stores also provide a drop location. Car, tractor and motorcycle batteries are easily recyclable at any retailer that sells them. You will likely even get a core refund for returning them. Check with automotive repair locations, car part stores or your local Battery Exchange. Electronics When the stereo, computer, TV or cell phone bites the dust, skip the landfill and head to the recycling center. You may need to separate the cords and/or batteries from the laptop or TV remote, but most components are accepted at these locations. Also check with the manufacturing company or service provider. For example, Apple and many cell phone companies will accept old devices for recycling, and some even offer a credit for it. Medications Expired and unneeded medications are absorbed into the soil and waterways if flushed down the toilet. They are also a danger to children and pets, so proper disposal is important. Most local police stations accept medications, and they can be returned at city waste collection events. The U.S. DEA also provides an annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies. Stains and paints The good news is that modern paints and stains are formulated to last, so you can finish up the can while doing touch ups or other projects, even years down the road. If you’re moving and have to come up with a quick yet responsible disposal method, visit your local Habitat for Humanity reStore, where it will reformulate the paint for resale. Another option is to allow the paint to dry in the can, either naturally or with the aid of a commercial paint-dry product. Once dry, it can be thrown out with the rest of your garbage without a risk of contamination, although we do recommend using it entirely or donating it for resell before turning to the landfill. Related: 6 of the best places to donate your things Cleaning products Between glass cleaner and furniture polish, household cleaners have a way of accumulating. So when you pull out the last of the carpet and no longer need carpet spot cleaner or you make the switch to natural cleaners and need to do away with your old bottles, keep an eye out for that city waste collection event. For cleaners you can still use, try to use them up and recycle the container when you can. Also consider giving away any cleaners you no longer want, but note that most donation centers will not accept them, so offer them to friends, family and co-workers. Lawn and garden products Insecticides and pesticides should not be added to the garbage, where they can leak into water systems and soil. The same goes for the old oil and gasoline from your lawn mower and other equipment. This type of pollution will impact plants, animals and humans. Hold onto any lawn and garden chemicals for the next household waste round-up to return them responsibly. Personal care products If you find your bathroom cabinets and shelves full of old skincare , fragrances or nail polish you don’t want anymore, it is important to dispose of them properly, especially if they are from your pre-green beauty days. Unused, unexpired products may be suitable for donation. Otherwise, do not dump products in the sink or toilet. Check with your local hazardous household waste facility to see if it can accept your items. If you must, put all of the contents of the containers into one jar and place it in the garbage. Eyeglasses Whether you’ve undergone laser eye surgery or upgraded your style, eyewear is another common household item that may no longer be serving its purpose. Fortunately, there are many ways to donate old eyeglasses where they can provide the gift of sight and keep them out of the landfills. Lyons Clubs International, New Eyes (a division of United Way), OnSight and Eyes of Hope are all options. You can also drop eyeglass lenses and frames at most optical centers or local drop boxes, or donate them to a thrift store. Via Earth 911 and EPA.gov Images via Shutterstock

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Eco-friendly subscription boxes to gift this holiday season

December 2, 2019 by  
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The holiday spirit of gift-giving can be enjoyed throughout the year. How? Giving the gift of a subscription box can provide year-round enjoyment for any recipient, especially when delivered via monthly, quarterly or semi-annual subscription plans. For those who are eco-conscious, here are some environmentally friendly subscription boxes to consider. For people striving for zero-waste and plastic-free living The greenUP subscription is curated to minimize dependence on disposable plastic. Even the company’s website emphasizes a plastic-free lifestyle, “so there’s less plastic waste ending up on our beaches and in our oceans.” Each box in this subscription is valued at $70+ and features six to eight sustainable items. Another subscription box conscientious about the planet is EarthLove , a curated box of products “that are ethically and environmentally responsible, including zero-waste packaging, natural ingredients, organic and non-GMO, gluten-free, cruelty-free, beegan/vegan and fair trade.” Then there’s MightyNest , with its MightyFix and Mighty Essentials subscription packages that promote green lifestyles. MightyNest products are free of BPA, lead, parabens, phthalates and PVC. For ethical shoppers As a verified member of the Fair Trade Federation , GlobeIn strives to support healthy working conditions for the artisans who craft the goods included in each subscription box. Thus, each GlobeIn artisan box is filled with ethically handmade products. GlobeIn offers more than five monthly box themes to provide a variety of choices to subscribers. For the skincare-obsessed For those who prefer toxin-free personal care products, the Natural Vegan Body Care subscription is the perfect gift. Goodies on offer in this box are all-natural, cruelty-free and biodegradable. This includes natural balms, deodorants, hair care supplies and hand soaps all free of unwanted synthetics. Bamboo toothbrushes and organic loofahs also complete the packages. For parents and kids The monthly Ecocentric Mom subscription box offers products perfect for motherhood, ensuring green home care from the first trimester to the toddler years. There are often up to six products provided that include organic self-care products, toxin-free baby products, accessories suited for developmental milestones, eco-conscious practical home care items for the growing family and non-GMO snacks. Related: A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for children Ethical fashion for babies and toddlers can be found in the SmockBox . Each box includes an outfit, an accessory and a toy — all made ethically. Meanwhile, Dyper offers an eco-friendly diaper subscription. These diapers are made with fibers from renewable bamboo and other biodegradable materials. They are also free of “chlorine, latex, alcohol, perfumes, PVC, lotions, TBT and phthalates.” Wipe On Us correspondingly offers bamboo wipes as a family subscription. The wipes have no plastic packaging whatsoever. Kids will rejoice at receiving the eco-friendly Little Pnuts educational toy subscription box. Little Pnuts gives well-curated packages with up to five sustainable toys, which are all handmade from natural materials and non-battery operated. For low-maintenance plant enthusiasts Succulents are quickly becoming a favorite among urban gardeners because of their low-maintenance needs. There are numerous subscription boxes out there for succulents. Gift two unique succulents in biodegradable pots a month from Succulent Studios , three succulents monthly from Leaf & Clay , four succulents with a mystery bonus plant from Mountain Crest Gardens , five hand-picked succulents from the Succulent Source or up to four succulents or one air plant a month from Succulents Box . For gardeners Arcadia Seed Company is a purveyor of seeds, and its box offers four packets of vegetable or herb seeds along with a surprise packet of unusual or exotic seeds. Meanwhile, the Click and Grow subscription provides pre-seeded, biodegradable pods that can be planted in a self-sustaining Smart Garden device that is “100 percent free of GMOs and harmful substances,” with 45 different fruits, vegetables and herbs to choose from. Yet another is SproutBox , with a BPA- and BPS-free sprouting device, which creates natural aeration for sprouts that emerge from the organic, non-GMO seed packs. The highly curated Horti box includes care instructions for the plants delivered to every urban gardener who subscribes. To encourage self-assurance in gardening, the company begins by sending hardy plants as an introduction into taking care of plants. Pet-friendly plants are also available to prevent any mishaps with canine and feline friends. For foodies UrthBox offers natural, non-GMO and organic snacks and beverages, with gluten-free and vegan options, too. For more adventurous palates, there’s a Fermented Farmacy subscription box with flavorful foods packed with probiotics and enzymes to help maintain optimal gut health. Similarly, the Sun Basket subscription box has options for lean-and-clean, Mediterranean, pescatarian , vegetarian and gluten-free diets. Those who prefer raw, plant-based snacks that are also wheat-free, soy-free and refined sugar-free will find RawBox subscription to be a good match. For pet owners Canine parents can subscribe to Ollie for vet-formulated, freshly cooked recipes with zero fillers, byproducts, artificial flavors or preservatives. The Farmer’s Dog similarly offers healthier pet food made fresh then sent directly to subscribers in eco-friendly packaging. Another wonderful subscription box is offered by Nom Nom Now , which caters to both canine and feline palates, with nutrient-rich, easy-to-digest and byproduct-free foods. Related: A guide to the best eco-friendly gifts for pets Pure Earth Pets is “designed with your pet and the Earth in mind,” offering environmentally conscious products like recycled toys and treats made from natural ingredients, all packaged in biodegradable boxes. As for fishkeepers, My Aquarium Box subscribers can select from saltwater, nano tank, freshwater and planted tank offerings. Avian aficionados, meanwhile, can subscribe to the PollyWannaBird box that keeps birds happy with healthy treats, therapeutic perches and bird-safe wood toys for beak conditioning. For outdoor-lovers The Homestead Box offers three options of packages — for the gardener, the backyard chicken raiser and the woodsman — all of which cultivate simple self-sufficiency, subsistence agriculture and a closer bond to what nature has to offer. Children can also connect, interact and engage with nature via the Mud + Bloom or even the Little Hiker subscription boxes. Hiker Crate ’s subscription is for those with hiking proclivities, whereas the KinderBox is a better fit for those with a truly rugged sense of adventure. Images via Good Soul Shop , Natasha Ong , Paul Gaudriault , Y Tanaka , Skyla Design , Eco Warrior Princess , RawBox , NomNomNow and Rudolf Mark

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Eco-friendly subscription boxes to gift this holiday season

Tesla Cybertruck is an electric pickup truck with Blade Runner appeal

December 2, 2019 by  
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At a press conference last week, Elon Musk presented the Cybertruck , an electric pickup truck that promises all of the utility of a truck and the performance of a sports car. Defined by a sharply angular and futuristic form, this latest addition to the Tesla line of vehicles has been hotly anticipated — pre-orders for the truck recently surpassed 200,000, despite the gaff of two shattered windows during a demonstration of the Cybertruck’s “unbreakable” glass . Created for both on-road and off-road applications, the Tesla Cybertruck comes in three models: the Single Motor Rear-Wheel Drive for $39,900, the Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive for $49,900 and the Tri Motor All-Wheel Drive for $69,900. Its most expensive option will have a towing capacity of more than 14,000 pounds and a range of 500 miles on a single charge. Despite its heft and size, the tri-motor vehicles can accelerate to 60 miles per hour in less than 3 seconds — numbers comparable to that of a Porsche. Related: Tesla solar panels now available to rent All of the electric pickup truck models are clad in ultra-hard, 30x cold-rolled stainless steel with windows that are similarly tough and can withstand bullets from a 9-millimeter handgun. The interiors can seat up to six adults and will be outfitted with a large touchscreen and an onboard air compressor. The Cybertruck will have 120-volt and 240-volt power outlets.  Despite the Cybertruck’s distinctive, Blade Runner-esque appearance, Tesla hopes that its new all-electric offering will be strong enough to rival Ford’s F-150 line, the best-selling pickup trucks in America. Meanwhile, Ford also plans to release a hybrid F-150 version next year and expects to unveil an all-electric pickup truck soon. Tesla’s Single Motor Rear-Wheel Drive and Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive models will go on sale in the fall of 2021, while production for the Tri Motor AWD models is expected to begin in late 2022. + Tesla Cybertruck Images via Tesla

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Tesla Cybertruck is an electric pickup truck with Blade Runner appeal

9 tips for eco-friendly Black Friday, Cyber Monday shopping

November 27, 2019 by  
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Shopping is an ubiquitous part of American culture that peaks during the holiday season in spurts of deal-hunting and gift-giving. Anyone who has made efforts to go zero-waste or plastic-free knows how difficult it can be to maintain those goals while finding meaningful presents for loved ones. So when Black Friday and Cyber Monday roll around, you might experience the internal conflict of responsibility to the planet with the desire to give gifts. We love that you love the planet, so we’ve put together some ideas of ways to enjoy the season without leaving behind a Sasquatch-sized carbon footprint. Watch packaging  When it comes to gifting, watch out for extra packaging, especially plastic foam and molded, unrecyclable plastic . Consider buying items in bulk, as long as they have less packaging and won’t go to waste. You can also bring your own containers for bulk products like bath salts, pet treats and food. As always, bring your own reusable shopping bags, and decline the offer of plastic bags from the store. Related: Avoid the crowds with these 10 alternatives to Black Friday shopping Support sustainable companies More and more companies are working to source natural materials and manufacture products in a sustainable way. Reward their efforts by supporting them as your first choice in gift-giving. For example, select bracelets made from ocean plastic, shoes or sunglasses made from coffee grounds or indoor gardens sourced from recycled plastic. Look for companies that ship using recyclable materials, too. While smaller, sustainably minded companies may not have a flashy ads online or on the TV, they are out there and will often offer discounts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday just like the giant box retailers. You just have to do a little bit of searching. Make your own gifts The most sustainable way to enjoy Black Friday is to be in complete control of the materials used in your gifts. Instead of heading out for pre-packaged and wasteful options, take a trip into the local pottery studio and make some plates, a popcorn bowl or a mug to give as a gift. Upcycle by gathering up special T-shirts and other clothing to have a company make them into a memory quilt (if you have sewing skills, you can also DIY !). Set another date on the calendar for a craft party, and invite friends, family and neighbors to gather and make gifts. Use the Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts to score some deals at the craft store. Just be sure to look for products that don’t include plastic and emphasize natural materials like hemp, grapevine and organic fabrics. Choose green technology A quick glance through most holiday catalogs will highlight deals on electronics. If TVs and other modern gadgets are on your list, research models that consume less energy and purchase solar-powered items when they are an option. Go for durability While it is likely that not every item you purchase throughout the season will fully fit the sustainability bill, one way you can help the planet is in waste reduction. To meet this goal, keep in mind that a long-lasting product will create less waste than one that is quickly disposed of. Research your purchases and go for items made with real wood instead of pressboard, strong metals instead of flimsy ones and natural materials instead of plastic (think wooden picnic tables and rocking horses for toddlers). The same goes for jewelry, clothing, furniture, kitchen items and decor. Quality counts, both for the gift recipient and for the planet. Look for eco-friendly materials Especially when it comes to textiles , the materials used in production can make a huge difference in the amount of pollutants that end up in waterways and landfills. Select natural fibers for sheets, towels, blankets and clothing. The most obvious example is organic cotton , which eliminates the toxic chemicals such as insecticides, pesticides and fungicides used in traditional cotton production. Minimize driving and stops Stop-and-go city traffic is guilty for contributing to air pollution , so do your part by limiting the number of stores at which you shop. Pick one store for your purchases, or select stores near each other. Even better than driving is to take public transit, bike or walk from shop to shop. Shop local Depending on where you live, shopping local is likely the best thing you can do for the environment. You get bonus points if you can shop at a nearby craft mall or import store with a focus on eco-friendly and/or locally made products. If you do hit up the online deals for Cyber Monday, follow the suggestions above in regards to buying from sustainably minded companies and observing packaging and shipping practices. Gift wrap naturally Once you’ve made or purchased your gifts, continue the eco-friendly trend with thoughtful gift wrapping. Use natural fabric or paper, and accessorize with leaves, flowers, small branches, nuts or fruit. Alternately, recycle greeting cards into gift tags, upcycle tablecloths and pillow cases, put gifts inside gorgeous reusable bags or organize a gift basket with no wrap at all. Images via Shutterstock

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9 tips for eco-friendly Black Friday, Cyber Monday shopping

A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for your friends

December 19, 2018 by  
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Are you searching for the perfect gift for your best friend? Or maybe you’re looking for something special for all the friends on your gift list. Either way, here are some of our favorite gifts this season that are beautiful, thoughtful and sustainable. Natural, handmade soaps While the masses swarm big name stores for lotions and bath soaps, find an eco-friendly option that is actually easier on the eyes and the wallet. It’s pretty easy to find local soap makers in your area, but you can also check on Etsy or stores like Lush , which offers soaps made with fruits, veggies, herbs and oils and also come with minimal (if any) packaging. Related: A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for family Zero-waste wine What better way to show how much you love your friends than with a delicious bottle of wine made from the world’s first certified zero-waste winery? Pick up a bottle of Fetzer for the friends on your gift list, and pair it with some organic cheese or a couple of cute wine glasses. Cozy socks ‘Tis the season of cozy socks, but not just any pair will do. Be sure the fabric of the socks you give this season is eco-friendly, like these snuggly, fair-trade wool sweater socks made from organic wool. Succulents As succulents continue to grow in popularity, now is the perfect time to pick some up for everyone on your list. Coupled with a nice planter, succulents are a thoughtful gift that will brighten up your friends’ homes or desks without requiring too much attention. A succulent subscription box is also a nice present that your friends can receive for many months after the holiday ends. Reusable mugs Whether they prefer coffee, tea or hot chocolate, your friends will love this cute mug made from glass and cork . It’s durable and BPA-free, plus, it will hopefully curb the disposable cups that come from spontaneous coffee runs. Images via Viktor Forgacs , Kym Ellis , Riala , Alex Holyoake , Goran Ivos and Shutterstock

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We might be descended from this horrifying sea creature with no anus

February 1, 2017 by  
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If you’re looking for new nightmare fuel beyond, oh we don’t know, the dissolution of democracy as we know it, meet Saccorhytus , a tiny H.R. Giger-esque monstrosity that scientists say could be our earliest-known ancestor. Going back some 540 million years, it’s also believed to be the most primitive example we have to date of a deuterostome — a member of a broad category of animals that includes everything from sea urchins to vertebrates like us. The species, which comprised an elliptical body no more than a millimeter long, a large mouth, and apparently no anus, is new to science. We were only made aware of this lurking horror in our evolutionary past because a group of academics unearthed about 45 microfossils in central China’s Shaanxi Province. While the original finds, which look like they’re frozen in mid-scream, are pretty horrifying in and of themselves, the artist’s reconstruction is the gift that keeps on giving. “We think that as an early deuterostome this may represent the primitive beginnings of a very diverse range of species, including ourselves,” Simon Conway Morris, a professor of evolutionary palaeobiology at the University of Cambridge and a member of the team, said in a statement. “To the naked eye, the fossils we studied look like tiny black grains, but under the microscope the level of detail is jaw-dropping. All deuterostomes had a common ancestor, and we think that is what we are looking at here.” Related: Four-legged prehistoric snake offers clues about the reptile’s evolution Saccorhytus , the researchers speculate in the journal Nature , lived in what would have been a shallow sea during the early Cambrian period. It was so small that it probably lived between individual grains of sediment on the sea bed, where it hoovered up food with its capacious maw. Cone-shaped spouts on its body may have allowed it to disgorge any water it swallowed, much like gills on the fish we see today. If the creature had an anus, the scientists were unable to find it. Conceivably, Saccorhytus’s mouth went both ways. “If that was the case, then any waste material would simply have been taken out back through the mouth, which from our perspective sounds rather unappealing,” Conway Morris said. As long as it doesn’t show up to any family reunions, we’ll be OK. + University of Cambridge

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We might be descended from this horrifying sea creature with no anus

18 Eco Friendly Father’s Day Gift Ideas

June 14, 2016 by  
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Father’s Day is just around the corner, and it is time to start thinking about what you want to give Dad to tell him how loved and valued he is. Choosing a gift that is eco friendly is not only thoughtful for Dad, but it is thoughtful for the…

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6 Eco-Friendly Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas With Heart

February 5, 2016 by  
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As a couple who doesn’t follow the gift-giving status quo, my husband and I don’t send pesticide-laden flower bouquets or nosh on slave-labor chocolate for Valentine’s Day. Rather, we like to be unique with our gift giving and choose eco-friendly…

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6 Eco-Friendly Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas With Heart

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