P+365 is turning abandoned festival tents into wearable merchandise

December 12, 2019 by  
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When Tuo Lei came across an image of thousands of discarded tents strewn across festival grounds and destined for landfill, the designer saw potential. Lei’s P+365 project takes abandoned tents from music festivals and repurposes the material into streetwear to be sold the following year at the same event (hence the “365” to symbolize the year-long cycle). The idea is to raise awareness of this environmental issue while finding a use for the tents beyond waste. For consumers, the sustainable clothes and accessories are interesting souvenirs from the event that are both practical and sentimental. Each collection comes with bags, a poncho raincoat, a cap and a bucket hat, all made using durable, weather-resistant materials recycled from the deserted tents. The garments are specifically designed for the types of conditions expected from a festival scene — such as rain, wind and heat. Related: Housing pods made of recycled plastic offer an alternative to festival tent waste The designer receives the used tents from volunteer organizations and recruits more volunteers from social media to assist with the sewing and assembling of the apparel as well as collecting additional tents. Along with the clothes, the P+365 collections include DIY booklets with step-by-step illustrations for how to make each item. To make the pieces more collectible, the garment tags include information about the festival name, material features and the design story behind the brand. So what’s next for P+365? In the future, Lei hopes to collaborate with specific festivals that have high numbers of abandoned tents in order to sell directly to festival-goers. Lei explained, “P+365 not only gives users an outfit to stand out from the crowd in a music festival but also could be new potential for future music festival fashion style.” + P+365 Via Dezeen Images via P+365

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P+365 is turning abandoned festival tents into wearable merchandise

Sustainable holiday gifts for babies and kids

December 12, 2019 by  
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Children innately have a curiosity about the world around them, and that curiosity can be cultivated into awareness and love for our planet. So this holiday season, give out eco-friendly gifts or green presents that your favorite kiddos can enjoy all while helping the Earth, too. Vegan shoes Vegan Chic is 100 percent vegan fashion with products vetted to meet high standards of eco-friendly and cruelty-free sourcing, especially with regards to fair and safe working conditions during production. Vegan Chic’s proprietors, Mark and Vessela, who are animal lovers avidly protecting and rescuing feral cats, explained, “We love animals and are committed to protecting them, as they cannot protect themselves.” Support the cruelty-free shop by purchasing adorable and functional vegan shoes that any child would be excited to sport. Meanwhile, CLAMFEET provides machine-washable, soft-soled, leather-free moccasins for infants and toddlers. CLAMFEET shoes are also completely vegan with organic lining. Plus, they are handmade in the United States. Eco-friendly clothing, bedding and bath items Little Lentil Clothing is “dedicated to leaving the smallest environmental footprint possible” by offering organic, natural and sustainable clothes for children. Its packaging is even derived from 100 percent reusable, recyclable or biodegradable materials. As Little Lentil Clothing’s website describes, “We are a brand with intentions to uphold elevated social and environmental values in order to leave the world a little bit better of a place for all of our babies.” Related: A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for children While Burt’s Bees has long been known for its personal care products, did you know that the company also offers 100 percent organic cotton products for babies and kids? Burt’s Bees Baby provides gentle, organic cotton that meets “the highest global standard for organic textiles” in clothing, bedding (nursery bedding, quilts and blankets) and bath apparel (washcloths, towels and robes). Responsibly crafted, plastic-free toys BeginAgain toys are made from a mix of vintage materials (maple, rubberwood and natural rubber) and modern bioplastics derived from non-GMO corn. As the company describes, its toys “move kids away from OIL and back into SOIL. We believe in the playful power of plants.” The BeginAgain animal parade A-to-Z puzzle and playset is a recommended favorite. Bamboo bike This is another company devoted to natural toys for children that collaborates with sustainable suppliers to provide families with “heirloom quality, non-disposable toys that support healthy lifestyles in balance with the environment.” The NovaNatural bamboo run bike is a lovely toy for any child, given its sustainable bamboo wood finish. Interestingly, bamboo forests can be harvested after only 3-5 years because they grow faster than other hardwoods, making bamboo a more sustainable wood. Additionally, bamboo forests produce more oxygen and absorb more carbon dioxide than other trees. Award-winning wood toys Hape Holding AG is a German-Swiss toy manufacturer that began with the responsible business practices of its founder, Peter Handstein, who said, “A commitment to children must go hand-in-hand with a commitment to the environment. Our children will inherit the world we live in.” Based in Lucerne, Switzerland with at least 36 companies in more than a dozen countries, Hape is globally renowned for its award-winning, educational wooden toys that utilize renewable resources, such as bamboo, for “minimal impact to the environment.” Hape’s award-winning toys include a two-in-one kitchen and grill set, a croquet set, a scientific workbench, a doctor set, a doll mansion, a dominoes set, a magnetic easel, a master workbench and builder set, a miniature band set and much more. Art supplies and kits If your child has an artistic bent, eco-kids offers non-toxic, environmentally friendly “creative play the natural way,” with all products made in the U.S. Cammie and Kip are the founders of this family-run business, which all began when Cammie created a recipe for “eco-dough” with natural ingredients that they first sold at local farmers markets. From there, eco-kids evolved into a comprehensive art supplies shop that sells wholesale on its website and retail on Amazon . Another sustainable children’s art supply establishment is Natural Earth Paint , the award-winning, Gold-certified Green America business that specializes in natural mineral pigments and organic ingredients. The company was founded by Leah Fanning, an environmentalist who immediately disposed of her toxic and synthetic paints when she became pregnant with her first child. She then founded Natural Earth Paint, which specializes in locally made, non-toxic art supplies packaged in “100 percent post-consumer recycled packaging, biodegradable plastic bags and recyclable glass bottles.” According to the company’s website, its merchandise is free of “preservatives, heavy metal toxins, solvents, synthetics, additives and fillers,” which makes them safer for children. Natural Earth Paint also operates out of a 100 percent solar-powered facility, and the company has a plant-a-tree campaign to boot. Besides artist palettes, its recommended children’s products are natural face paint kits and egg craft kits, which can be found here . Crafty STEAM kits Green Kid Crafts sells science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) subscription kits and educational toys that will inspire children to learn while they play. The company has earned several distinctions, including the Academics’ Choice Brain Toy Award, Dr. Toy’s Best Green Products and Red Tricycle’s Award for the Most Awesome Subscription Service. With sustainability as its driving force, Green Kid Crafts gives back to the environment by partnering with CarbonFund to advocate for more renewable energy efficiency as well as with the OneTreePlanted endeavor to plant a tree for every Green Kid Crafts order placed. Gardening kits If you have a budding horticulturist in your family, Hortiki Plants has a wonderful beginning gardener’s kit for children. The kits from Hortiki Plants include biodegradable trays made from hand-pressed palm leaves, natural kelp fertilizers, coconut coir seed pellets, organic seeds, organic soil, recyclable glass sprayers, recyclable metal vases and recycled shipping materials. The company also offers a gardening guarantee, so that if, for any reason, the seeds do not grow into plants, the seeds will be replaced for free. The Hortiki Plants Kids Fall/Winter Gardening Kit is perfect eco-friendly holiday gift for young gardeners because it also includes games and projects for children to engage in the world of sustainable agriculture. Images via Shutterstock, Vegan Chic , CLAMFEET , Little Lentil Clothing , BeginAgain , NovaNatural , Hape , Natural Earth Paint , Green Kid Crafts and Hortiki Plants

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Sustainable holiday gifts for babies and kids

Lush greenery blankets a passive solar community center in Singapore

July 8, 2019 by  
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In a bid to revitalize Singapore’s Bedok Town Centre, international design firm ONG&ONG has completed HEARTBEAT@BEDOK, an award-winning, mixed-use development that serves as a key civic and community space for Bedok residents. The community building is also a beacon for sustainability and follows passive design principles to minimize energy demands as well as building operation and maintenance costs. A cooling microclimate is created with lush landscaping used throughout the site and around the building, which is draped with greenery on every floor. Located on Singapore’s east coast, the HEARTBEAT@BEDOK was commissioned as part of the Housing and Development Board’s ‘Remaking Our Heartland’, an initiative that was announced in 2007 to ensure older towns and neighborhoods are adequately modernized to keep pace with the nation’s development. To bring new life to the area, the architects transformed a public park in the heart of the Bedok neighborhood into the site of a new community center that brings residents of different backgrounds together and cultivates community spirit. “The Heartbeat@Bedok is an architecturally distinctive community building that is defined by the highest standards in modern sustainability,” the design firm explained. “Featuring an inverted podium-and-blocks design strategy, spaces within the new building are predicated on functionality. The elevated podium allows for optimized natural ventilation, with a group of microclimates created around internal public spaces. A covered area extends 145 m diagonally across the site, creating a 3-story atrium that enhances porosity between floors, while also working to improve overall connectivity and visual integration of the internal spaces.” Related: Singapore’s first new-build, net-zero energy building opens its doors Completed in June 2017, the mixed-use development includes a community club, sports and recreation center, public library, polyclinic, a senior care center and public green space. In addition to the abundance of greenery, solar heat and radiation is mitigated with tapered facade glazing, solar fins and optimized passive solar conditions. A rainwater collection system and gray water system were also integrated into the building to ensure responsible and sustainable water use. + ONG&ONG Images via ONG&ONG

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Solar-powered prefab cabins keep naturally cool in Portugal

June 11, 2019 by  
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When a client approached Lisbon-based architectural practice Studio 3A for a small residential project in the seaside village of Comporta, the architects knew that a major challenge would be keeping the house naturally cool during the oppressively hot summers. In keeping with their commitment to sustainable architecture, the architects used passive solar strategies and efficient insulation to mitigate solar heat gain. The firm also teamed up with design studio Mima Housing to prefabricate the buildings, named Cabanas in Comporta, which were topped with solar panels and sheathed in charred timber for a durable and maintenance-free finish. The architecture of Cabanas in Comporta follows a modular design of three types: the “intimate module” that houses the bedroom and bathroom; the “social module” for the living spaces with room for an outdoor pool; and the “service module” that also serves as storage for items such as the client’s car collection. Together with Mima Housing, Studio 3A prefabricated the modular buildings with oriented strand board sandwich panels and wooden joints. The facades are clad in timber charred black using the Japanese technique of Shou Sugi Ban. Related: The elegant MIMA Light prefab home ‘floats’ on thin air “As local connoisseurs, we based our construction method on the traditional fishermen huts/cabanas as an inspiration for our project,” explain the architects. These huts have been built in this area for years and are very functional and quick to build which were another important point of our brief. With this construction type we had a couple of challenges to face which was the hot-summer Mediterranean climate and the mosquitos which are well known to bug you in the area. We implemented various sustainable strategies to reduce the heat sensation such as the calculated overhangs in front of the main windows, low emissivity window panes and a tensioned solar shading system in between the cabana modules.” Heat gain is further controlled with a double blind system installed in both the interior and exterior. The external blind also zips down to protect the home from mosquito invasions. Strategic placement of the buildings optimizes solar orientation and access to cooling breezes. Dark cement flooring is used to take advantage of thermal mass, while photovoltaic panels and heat pumps help heat the buildings in winter. + Studio 3A Images by Nelson Garrido

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Inhabitat Interview with Beth Cosmos, owner of Billygoats & Raincoats

April 5, 2019 by  
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In 2016, Beth Cosmos was fresh out of design school at the University of South Wales and volunteering at several music festivals. Eager to see the hundreds of thousands of displaced tents left after music festivals in her native U.K., Cosmos decided to combine her love of sustainability and fashion . The lightbulb moment came when she woke up to what seemed like an endless ocean of abandoned tents left behind by festival-goers at a venue. The tents were made of a good material: sturdy, waterproof and sadly destined for a landfill where it would never fully decompose. Armed with an idea, she took a few of the tents home to turn into clothes. Fast forward to 2019, and Billygoats & Raincoats is now Cosmos’ full-time job. We talked to Cosmos about her passion project and what’s next for the brand. Inhabitat: “Have you always been passionate about sustainability?” Cosmos: “Most definitely, I was that uni housemate who reinforced what exactly could be recycled or not and in which bags … super fun housemate, right?” Inhabitat: “You initially got the idea for Billygoats & Raincoats after noticing leftover tents at a festival. Were you looking for a project at the time?” Cosmos: “It’s an incredibly wasteful and upsetting sight to see. I was already designing children’s raincoats and seeking out the most sustainable options fabric -wise. The realization of the scale of waste and need for an alternative to using new fabrics came together perfectly, really.” Related: Housing pods made of recycled plastic offer an alternative to festival tent waste Inhabitat: “Tell us about your company’s zero-waste initiative. How do you use each part of the tent?” Cosmos: “All the best parts, nicest weight and condition fabrics are used for the kids coats. I tend to use all the primary colors first, smaller panels of the good stuff go to the tote bags. If there are any pieces with marks, I use them in reverse for the linings of the bags. Blacks, grays and darker colors are being saved for my big kid, AKA adult’s wear, range. I have designed the range and will be launching a Kickstarter very soon to help fund that collection, so keep a look out on our Instagram for a heads up on when that’s going to be launched. There will be opportunities to win lots of goodies, like kids coats, one-offs and custom adult coats. I use all the fly nets for pouches on bags and lining on pockets, and they will be used as a large part of the lining in the big kid range. Guy lines have a few uses, namely pocket hooks and ties on packaging and will be getting used a lot more in the future as handy hooks. I use the ground sheets for packaging , and everything else gets cleaned and stored until I think of something to do with it. There is a lot of hauling going on.” Inhabitat: “Any plans for repurposing the coats once children grow out of them?” Cosmos: “The coats are made to a very high standard and designed to fit children for more than a year; once one cool kid grows out of the coat, it would be great to see the coat handed down. The coats can be sent back to us at the end of their life. We will offer 50 percent off the next purchase, and we will reuse the salvageable fabric.” Inhabitat: “How do you make the coats breathable with such a notoriously durable material? Do the coats get ‘muggy’ or ‘clammy’ at all?” Cosmos: “The coats are a very loose fitting, boxy shape that allows children to move freely in, and they are designed to be worn layered up.” Inhabitat: “Are you working with any festival companies directly?” Cosmos: “We will be working with and recovering tents from Glastonbury, Boomtown and Camp Bestival this year. We hope to be working very closely with them this time next year. We’re planning very exciting collaborations.” Inhabitat: “What’s next for Billygoats and Raincoats?” Cosmos: “To take over the world of rainwear, of course!” To check out Billygoats & Raincoats, head to its  website or Instagram page . + Billygoats & Raincoats Images via Billygoats & Raincoats

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Inhabitat Interview with Beth Cosmos, owner of Billygoats & Raincoats

A 19th century building is reborn as solar-powered temporary housing for families in need

July 19, 2018 by  
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No matter where you live or what you do for a living, there’s always a chance that fate will take a few bad turns, leaving you and your family in need of temporary housing. The Cambridge Health and Human Services Department (CHHSD) and Cambridge’s HMFH Architects recently joined forces to build such a shelter in a lovely 19th century building once thought doomed for demolition. In addition to providing safe, short-term housing, the project focuses on sustainability in its design. Once a grand, aluminum-gilded structure among the dignified homes along Massachusetts Avenue, building number 859, constructed in 1885, was turned into offices years ago. But time took its toll: the aluminum siding faded, the entryway became disheveled, rust sullied the fire escapes and flourishing gardens were harshly paved. Related: Architect converts derelict 19th century Mexican home into light-filled mixed-use community center The city purchased the dilapidated structure, and HMFH Architects razed the interior down to its structural beams and studs to make room for 10 family-sized housing units that each provide temporary homes with private baths for an adult and one to two children. Each floor has a kitchen and dining area shared by tenants. The architectural design team joined forces with the Cambridge Historical Commission to ensure as many details as possible were restored to their original state, from the front stairway design to the paint, trim and roofing materials. Sustainable design was also high on the list of project goals. The building meets Cambridge’s goal to keep the site’s energy use to as close to zero as possible, concurrent with generating sufficient renewable energy to fulfill its own yearly consumption. To accomplish this, the building has three types of solar roof tiles , maximum-efficiency mechanical systems to decrease heating and cooling needs and LED lighting operated by sensors. Double-thickness walls and insulation along with energy-efficient windows and doors also helped the project meet its energy goals. “The new residence at 859 Mass Avenue provides a welcoming, comfortable environment for families and children in need,” said Ellen Semonoff, Cambridge’s Assistant City Manager for Human Services. “The beauty and functionality of the building let families know that they are valued members of our community.” The Cambridge Historical Commission presented the 2018 Cambridge Preservation Award to jointly honor the project and the city for its work. + HMFH ARCHITECTS + Cambridge Health and Human Services Department Images via Bruce T. Martin and Ed Wosnek

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A 19th century building is reborn as solar-powered temporary housing for families in need

Giant manta ray nursery discovered in Gulf of Mexico

June 22, 2018 by  
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Researchers have identified the first recognized giant manta ray nursery in the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico , about 70 miles offshore from Galveston, Texas . Graduate student and executive director of  Manta Trust Josh Stewart first made this discovery while studying adult mantas in the area for the first time. “I was there trying to get a genetic sample from a full grown manta, and that’s when I saw it. It was a juvenile male manta, which is a very rare,” Stewart told NPR . After expressing his excitement to local researchers, he was informed that young manta sightings were quite common there. He said, “And that’s when I knew that this was a really special, unique place.” The local researchers at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration had misidentified the young manta rays as another species, neglecting to recognize the importance of this place until the arrival of an outside perspective. Typically, adult manta rays live in deep tropical and subtropical waters, making the study of these majestic sea creatures quite difficult. Young manta rays are almost never seen with adults. Related: Microplastic pollution poses particular threat to filter-feeding rays, sharks and whales “The juvenile life stage for oceanic mantas has been a bit of a black box for us, since we’re so rarely able to observe them,” Stewart explained. “We don’t know much about their movements, their feeding behavior and how that compares to the adults. Now we have a pool of juveniles that we can study.” The recognition of the nursery will ensure that these young mantas, now an endangered species in the U.S., are protected while also providing a road map for the protection of juvenile habitats around the world. “This research backs up the need for protection of other critical habitat, especially since manta rays have recently been designated as threatened species,” study co-author Michelle Johnston told the Herald Sun . “Threatened species need a safe space to grow up and thrive and live.” + Scripps Institution of Oceanography Via NPR and  The Herald Sun Images via G.P. Schmahl / FGBNMS

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Giant manta ray nursery discovered in Gulf of Mexico

New ‘agrihood’ coming to the Island of Hawaii

June 13, 2018 by  
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In a first for the Big Island of Hawaii, a new sustainable “ agrihood ” known as Kuwili Lani, Hawaiian for “to embrace the heavens,” has received final subdivision approval and properties in this new neighborhood are now available to the public. An agrihood is an organized sustainable community that, rather than being built around a pool or a golf course, is centered on spaces designed for community food production. Backed by Big Island Sustainable Homes, LLP, the Kuwili Lani project is the result of over ten years of research and organizing which are now bearing fruit. Now that the infrastructure in the gated community is complete, lots are available for purchase from mid-$200k to mid-$300k. Located on the Hamakua Coast in Laupahoehoe, Kuwili Lani is designed with sustainability in mind across the board. From the community’s independence from the energy grid, made possible by on-site wind and solar power generation, to each of the eleven one-acre lots being zoned for agricultural use, Kuwili Lani intends to offer its residents a unique, sustainable lifestyle only 25 miles from the nearby city of Hilo. The community’s careful use of natural resources is also reflected in its sustainable rain harvesting for outdoor, agricultural use; the potable county water supply will be piped into the community. Related: Hawaii just set the most ambitious climate goal of any US state: carbon neutral by 2045 Although there may be communal food production plots, individual plot owners are encouraged to grow their own food on their own lots. Neighbors may coordinate to determine what the community needs and then delegate, so that Kuwili Lani may be able to provide its own fruit, vegetables, and even seafood right on site. Overall, the new sustainable community is aimed at those who want to be good stewards of the Earth while also taking charge of their own lives. “Kuwili Lani is based on the principle of being independent and in charge of one’s own destiny,” Michael Whelan, managing partner for Big Island Sustainable Homes, LLP, said in a statement. “We wanted to create a path for people to follow who are aware of the way their lifestyle impacts our environment.” Via Kuwili Lani Images via Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers

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Boring Company confirms Elon Musk’s plan to use excavated dirt for low-cost housing

May 9, 2018 by  
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Will Elon Musk foray into affordable housing next? Earlier this week, he said on Twitter that The Boring Company would transform dirt from tunnel digging into bricks for low-cost housing . A spokesperson confirmed the plans to Bloomberg , and said, “there will be an insane amount of bricks.” The Boring Company will be using dirt from tunnel digging to create bricks for low cost housing — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 7, 2018 A Boring Company spokesperson told Bloomberg bricks would come from “excavated muck.” Musk has indicated in the past he could sell excavated materials; in March he tweeted about kits of life-size LEGO -like interlocking bricks to make structures inspired by ancient Egypt. And when asked if the bricks could be used for affordable housing around that time, he said yes, and that “two people could build the outer walls of a small house in a day or so.” Related: Elon Musk’s Boring Company to sell life-size ‘LEGO-like’ bricks dug from the earth It seems like he’s serious, but there are still plenty of questions around such an endeavor — such as how many housing units Musk could build with Boring Company bricks. Bloomberg spoke with University of California, Los Angeles lecturer Juan Matute who said Musk’s tweet “assumes that housing costs are driven by construction materials , and particularly, construction materials that can be replaced by bricks. That’s not the case.” Labor and land drive prices more, according to Bloomberg, at least in California where The Boring Company is currently tunneling. Another potential issue is that chemicals have contaminated land underneath Los Angeles. If contaminants are present in excavated dirt, it may be difficult for The Boring Company to transform that dirt into bricks. Matute told Bloomberg challenges might not prevent Musk from following through on the plan, saying, “That doesn’t mean The Boring Company can’t buy some land and build a few low-cost houses, with a partner like Habitat for Humanity. And say, ‘Look what we did.’” The Boring Company said future offices could be erected with their bricks, according to Bloomberg. The company’s Frequently Asked Questions page said they’re “investigating technologies that will recycle the earth into useful bricks to be used to build structures,” and that these bricks “can potentially be used as a portion of the tunnel lining itself.” + Elon Musk Twitter Via Bloomberg Image via Steve Jurvetson on Flickr

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Boring Company confirms Elon Musk’s plan to use excavated dirt for low-cost housing

Hawaii sets the most ambitious goal of any US state by vowing to be carbon neutral by 2045

May 9, 2018 by  
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The legislature of Hawaii has approved two bills that together put the state on the path to becoming carbon neutral by 2045 – the most ambitious climate change goal of any state in the United States. Bille bill 1986 establishes a carbon-offset program, while House bill 2182 convenes a task force to determine the best course of action to achieve carbon neutrality within the next three decades. “This is the biggest step forward on climate change any state has yet taken,” said Hawaii representative Chris Lee in a statement . As an island nation, Hawaii is taking such strong action to combat climate change in part because it is particularly vulnerable to its impacts. In passing the bills, legislators cited a study which estimated that Hawaii would endure $19 billion worth of damage on private property and significantly more on public infrastructure as a result of rising sea levels. In addition to its recently passed climate change legislation, Hawaii was the first state to formally adopt the goals established under the Paris climate agreement after President Trump withdrew the United States from it. Related: Helsinki unveils plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2035 Prior to the passage of these bills, Rhode Island was the American state with the most ambitious climate change goal, which pledged to achieve an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2050. Hawaii now stands as one of the world’s most aggressive states in its fight against climate change, sharing the same carbon neutrality timeline as Sweden. For context, carbon neutrality is expected in Iceland by 2040, Norway by 2030, Costa Rica by 2021, and the Maldives by 2020. While these steps are important, they are not sufficient. More governments must make similarly aggressive pledges toward carbon neutrality if climate change is to be halted. Hawaii governor David Ige,  who has been supportive of sustainability initiatives in the past , is expected to sign the bills into law. Via Quartz Images via Depositphotos (1)

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