A color guide to the best plants for dyeing fabric and fibers naturally

August 10, 2017 by  
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People have been dyeing fabric and fibers with plants for thousands of years, and you can too! In fact, chances are that you have plenty of plant material in your garden, refrigerator, and pantry to do just that. Onions, blueberries , and spinach are just a few plants that you can use to create beautiful fabric dyes. Read on for more info! If you’ve ever dyed fabric at home, chances are you probably used one of the packets you can buy at the pharmacy or local sewing shop. Instead of using these, which are packed with chemicals that leak into groundwater , you can use a variety of different plants. You probably wouldn’t look down at a spinach and blueberry salad and think “hey, I could dye a shirt with this stuff”, but you’d be surprised at how many plants can yield rich, beautiful dye colors with the help of simple mordants. When it comes to dyeing fabric or fiber, make sure that it’s thoroughly dampened before it goes into the dye bath, or it may dye unevenly. What’s a Mordant? Also known as a fixative, a mordant is a metallic or mineral compound that causes a chemical reaction with the plant dye. Sometimes it will intensify or enhance a color (or change it completely), but the main purpose of a mordant is to lock the dye into the fabric. You can dye without mordants, but the colour won’t be as rich, and will wash out very quickly. The most common mordants used are: Alum Ammonia Baking Soda Chrome Copper Cream of Tartar Iron Salt Tin Urine (yes, human) Vinegar Plants to Dye With I’ll list these by colors of the rainbow rather than alphabetical order, along with the mordants used to brighten and/or affix the dye. Keep in mind that you don’t *have* to use a mordant to dye with: the colors will be softer, more like pastels, and won’t hold up under heavy washing, but it’s fun to experiment to see which hues you can coax from different plantstuffs. The general rule of thumb is to toss your dye materials into a pot that’s large enough to later hold the fabric you’re planning to dye. ONLY use a stainless steel or glass pot for this, as copper or aluminum can affect the color outcome. Cover the plant matter with a generous amount of water, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer it for about 40 minutes. Allow it to cool before dyeing! If you toss natural fibers like wool or cotton into hot water, you risk shrinking it. Red Red Onions Onion skins are ideal because they don’t need a mordant. The skins create their own tannins that’ll act as fixatives for you. Just fill a pot with red onion skins and water, boil, and simmer for about half an hour until the water is stained well. Add in your fabric, turn the heat off, and let everything sit for 1-2 days. Sumac Berries Those bright red berries aren’t just great for making lemonade—they can create a vibrant pink-red hue. Crush the berry cones or put them through a food processor, then simmer in a pot for about half an hour with some vinegar added to it. Add your pre-soaked fabric to the pot and simmer for another half hour. Orange and Yellow Yellow Onion Skins One of the most readily available bits of plant matter to work with, and one of the easiest to work with as well. Pre-mordant your fiber (i.e. soak it in a water bath with the mordant added to it first, and wring it out slightly before dyeing). Fill your pot with as many yellow onion skins as it will hold, add water, bring to a boil and simmer for about half an hour. Add your fabric and simmer for another 20 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to soak overnight. Rinse under cold water. For a bright yellow color, use alum as a mordant. For bright orange, use tin. Green Green lettuce There are so many different varieties of lettuce , and their leaves can create hues ranging from pale apple green to olive, so be sure to experiment with small batches, using different mordants. Iron will create a really wonderful green, but you can get widely differing results using tin, vinegar, blue vitriol, etc. You can also add other leafy greens like spinach, chard, purslane, dandelion greens, or sorrel for different variations in hues. Related: Silkworms munch mulberries and dye to create naturally fluorescent silk Blue Blueberries It’s an incredible waste of good fruit, but you can make a pale blue dye with blueberries that have been simmered in water and then strained out. To get a blue pigment, you’ll have to let the dye cool completely and then immerse your damp fabric in it. If you put the fabric in while the dye is hot, you’ll get a more purple-ish shade instead. To create a more intense blue, you can simmer blueberries, black beans , and purple cabbage together, strain it well, cool it, and then soak your stuff in it. If you just have purple cabbage on hand, use baking soda in the water to amp its blue tones. Pink Pink berries If you feel like sacrificing a bunch of delicious fruit, simmer raspberries, strawberries, or cherries in water until the fruit flesh falls apart. They’ll create a variety of different hues depending on whether you use them alone, or combined together. Pickled Beets Have you ever handled raw beets? Then you’re familiar with the bright magenta juice that’ll stain your hands pink for days. Guess what? That will dye fabric as well. The thing with beets is that if you just boil the root veg and then steep your fabric in it, you’ll get a slightly reddish brown hue. It’s PICKLED beets that will dye fabric bright pink. If you don’t feel like going through all the hassle of pickling these foods yourselves, ask friends and family members to keep the brine after they’ve eaten their share of pickled beets. Pour all of that into a pot, and steep your fabric in it. The vinegar, salt, and sugar all work together to bind the pigment into your fabric or fiber. Related: How to dye Easter eggs naturally with leaf imprints Purple Purple cabbage Chop the cabbage finely, toss into a large pot of water, and add a tablespoon of salt for every half cabbage you use. Bring this to a boil, then simmer for up to an hour. Strain it well, allow it to cool, and you’ll have a lovely purple dye: no mordant needed. If you add vinegar to this dye, you’ll get a lighter, pinker mauve shade. If you add ammonia to it, you’ll get blue. Experiment! Brown Chicory Also known as Bachelor’s Buttons, this flower grows along roadways, ditches, and in abandoned parks all around North America and many parts of Europe, China, and Australia. Its long taproot can be used as a coffee substitute after being roasted and dried , and when used with chrome or iron as mordant, will produce a rich, warm brown dye. Gray Blackberry You’d think that blackberries would dye a fabric purple, but newp. In fact, since people generally prefer to eat these berries than to waste them as dye, it’s actually autumnal blackberry leaves that are used to create a beautiful gray dye, but only once they have darkened to purple. You can toss some berries that are past their prime into the water as well: it’ll just make the color richer. Use iron as a mordant. Remember that these color results are based on the assumption that you’re using white or unbleached natural material such as cotton, linen, wool, etc. The hues you get will vary greatly depending on the base color you’re working with, and whether you do more than one dip. If you’re interested in exploring more about these kinds of dyes, I’d recommend picking up a book or two as reference material, or even scouring through online resources and taking notes as you go along. Be sure to experiment! You may find a new combination that yields the color of your dreams. Lead image of colored yarn via Deposit Photos , others via Deposit Photos , Unsplash and Wikimedia Creative Commons, and by the author

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A color guide to the best plants for dyeing fabric and fibers naturally

Floating, solar-powered ‘dragonfly’ bridge can sail to new locations

August 10, 2017 by  
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This floating pedestrian bridge  can sail along rivers and oceans like a boat. Designer Margot Krasojevic conceived the bridge as a flexible structure that can be folded, stacked and expanded so that it can be moored along quaysides, sailed to different locations, or permanently positioned. The Ordos government commissioned Krasojevic to design a pedestrian bridge which would cross the Wulanmulun River, located in Ordos city, Kangbashi district Mongolia. The SailBoat bridge consists of a main floating section, three expanding walkways, and a carbon fiber triple sail. The sail can be lowered and raised by a buoyancy rotator and allows the bridge to function as a sailboat in order to reach new locations. Cylindrical cross-flow turbines function as rafts and help stabilize the primary structure. Related: Margot Krasojevic designs Belgrade trolly system powered by piezoelectricity A hydraulic telescopic secondary structure supports the pedestrian walkway which expands and contracts into the main body of the structure. The walkways are flexible and can adapt to different spans. Caisson foundations and screw-in moorings can be used to permanently stabilize the bridge. A rotating Mobius ballast chamber hydraulically operated by a thruster and powered by photovoltaic cells rotates the sails which are made from lightweight aluminium and carbon fiber-reinforced polymer. + Margot Krasojevic Architecture

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Floating, solar-powered ‘dragonfly’ bridge can sail to new locations

DIY: How to make your own natural deodorant at home

July 31, 2017 by  
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Did you know you can make your own deodorant? It’s not difficult, and you can save money over buying pricey natural deodorants. Best of all, you can mix and match essential oils to create a scent that you really love (or make it unscented). Whether you have sensitive skin or you’re just picky about body care products, making your own natural deodorant is a fun and easy DIY project  you can complete in under an hour. Step One: Gather your materials Most of the ingredients listed below are available in the bulk purchase area of natural food stores or co-ops, as well as online. There are a few ingredients below that can be swapped out, though doing so may slightly change the color, texture, or scent of your deodorant. The recipe listed below makes one batch of deodorant – simply double or triple the recipe to make a larger batch, create different scents, or to share. Ingredients: 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil 1 Tablespoon Shea Butter (or Cocoa Butter) 1 Tablespoon Baking Soda 1 Tablespoon Arrowroot Powder (or cornstarch) 1 Teaspoon Bentonite Cosmetic Clay (or kaolin) 6 Drops Essential Oil – we used Lavender and Tea Tree Tools: Measuring spoons Mixing spoons Small bowl Small jar or tub to store deodorant in Step Two: Measure coconut oil Measure out one tablespoon of coconut oil and, if it is hardened, mash it in the mixing bowl. RELATED: How to make a summery coconut-sea salt lip scrub Step Three: Measure shea butter Measure one tablespoon of room-temperature shea butter into the bowl and mix it well with the coconut oil. You may substitute room-temperature cocoa butter as well, but it will have a stronger scent. Shea and cocoa butters are a bit harder than coconut oil at room temperature and will help stabilize the deodorant mixture. Step Three: Add baking soda Measure out and add one tablespoon of baking soda. Step Four: Add arrowroot starch Measure out and add one tablespoon of arrowroot starch. This rather unusual ingredient can be found in some larger natural food stores or bulk co-ops, as well as online. If you can’t find any, you can also substitute cornstarch, though its absorptive properties may be slightly lower. RELATED: DIY homemade insect repellent sprays and lotions Step Five: Add clay powder Measure out and add one teaspoon of finely ground cosmetic clay (bentonite or kaolin – found in the bulk or body care section of a natural foods market). Thoroughly mix the deodorant into a thick paste, making sure there are no lumps. Step Six: Add essential oils Add six drops of your favorite essential oil . We used a blend of 3 drops of tea tree oil for its antibacterial properties and astringent odor, in addition to 3 drops of lavender oil for its soothing aroma. Step Seven: Jar it Use a spoon or butter knife to scrape the deodorant into a small jar or other container. You can leave it at room temperature in your bathroom. To apply, simply swipe two or three fingers across the surface of the deodorant and gently rub it into your armpits after a shower. You can put some into a smaller container for travel as well. If you’ve been using commercial aluminum deodorants, you may notice more wetness, but give it a week for your body to adjust. The essential oil blend serves as a deodorant, and the baking soda, arrowroot starch, and clay serve to prevent and absorb perspiration. All photos by Emily Peckenham for Inhabitat

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DIY: How to make your own natural deodorant at home

Chicago drinking fountains have been running non-stop for months, and the reason why is infuriating

July 31, 2017 by  
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For the past few months, drinking fountains in Chicago have been running non-stop because the water pipes there contains “dangerously high” lead levels. Ingesting excess levels of lead   (and just to be clear, health officials say no amount of lead exposure is safe ) can cause symptoms such as constipation, vomiting, developmental disabilities, hyperactivity, irritability, insomnia and memory loss. So to address the issue, the city has simply disabled the “push” buttons to let the fountains flow freely, reducing the hazardous levels of lead that actually make it into the water. In April of 2016, WBEZ began investigating the suspicious act of allowing the faucets to flow freely. This week, investigative journalists finally received answers. Reportedly, 450 Chicago park fountains contain “dangerously high” lead levels — with some spouting water with levels 80 times higher than the EPA limit. As a result of the action taken, 450 fountains met EPA standards. However, 107 were still contaminated with lead , which is why officials plan to keep them flowing until mid-fall. An additional 100 or so will be running round-the-clock for “spring flushing” to clear the pipes after winter. While a temporary solution has been found, one cannot ignore the environmental travesty which is occurring by allowing hundreds of faucets to flow freely for not just days, but months on end. For every spigot that is left on, nearly 600 gallons of drinking water are wasted each day. It’s exactly because of this expense that Chicago spent hundreds of thousands of dollars installing on-and-off buttons on the fountains in 2003. Unfortunately, city officials did not plan for lead contamination . Related: Abandoned fountain transformed into a pop-up urban spa in Mexico For now, district officials say they will continue testing and monitoring mountains throughout the summer with rapid detection tests. Fountains that are found to contain high levels of lead will have their samples followed up with additional lab analyses. All in all, plan on packing some purified, spring water if you intend on visiting a Chicago park in the near future. Via WBEZ Images via Pixabay and Deposit Photos

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Chicago drinking fountains have been running non-stop for months, and the reason why is infuriating

These wooden blocks can be stacked up to create cabins, treehouses, and wilderness shelters

July 31, 2017 by  
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Most cabins lie flat upon the earth – but Ofis Arhitekti just unveiled a wooden retreat that’s stacked up into the sky. The architects worked with C+C , C28 and AKT to create a beautiful library made from modular blocks at Ljubljana’s landmark medieval fortress. The basic modular unit provides accommodation for two people, with a kitchen, a bathroom, a bed and seating. If that isn’t enough space, the units can be stacked horizontally or vertically in order to form different configurations to accommodate a variety of locations and needs. Related: Three stacked spruce ‘shoeboxes’ reimagine a 1934 house in Ljubljana The units can be used as holiday cabins, tree houses, research units and shelters . The cabin can be fixed on the ground either by steel anchors or removable concrete cubes, making the interior space endlessly flexible and adjustable based on changing needs. The unit at Ljubljana Castle will serve as a temporary library, with each floor containing books on various topics. Spaces for reading and rest are tucked underneath the underpasses, and offer stunning views of the city. Both the structure and cladding promote Slovenian woodworking, traditional wood crafts and carpentry. + Ofis Arhitekti Photos by Janez Martincic  

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These wooden blocks can be stacked up to create cabins, treehouses, and wilderness shelters

6 sustainably crafted cocktails for New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2016 by  
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Start 2017 off right by serving up one of these sustainably-made cocktails on New Year’s Eve . We’ve got drinks perfect for dinner, hot beverages to keep you toasty, and even cocktails for the morning after to help you recover. Whatever your flavor, check out these 6 great cocktail recipes and make them with organic and local ingredients for a more sustainable New Year’s Eve. HOT SPICED WHISKEY CIDER Stay nice and toasty with some hot spiced cider mixed with whiskey. Choose organic apple juice and whiskey or pick your favorite batch made nearby. This recipe from Joy of Kosher takes you through the steps to make your own spiced cider, but no one would judge you if you used pre-made cider. Image © Ralph Daily COWGIRL KISS The Cowgirl Kiss is a signature cocktail at the Highwest Distillery in Park City, Utah made with their locally produced Vodka 7000. See the cocktail made on etté studios using vodka, pomegranate juice and sparkling wine for a super classy drink perfect for NYE. WATERMELON-SHAPED JELLO SHOTS Who doesn’t enjoy a good shot at the year’s best party? Clossette gives a great DIY tutorial for how to make jello shots that look like little watermelons using fresh limes. For a vegan version, check out this recipe at Vegan Baking . ROSEMARY GIN FIZZ A sophisticated take on a slow gin fizz, the rosemary gin fizz has a clean, crisp and wintery taste. This recipe by Sassy Radish mixes gin with a rosemary simple syrup that is sure to be the belle of the ball. WHITE SANGRIA WITH POMEGRANATE Make a bubbly and fruity white sangria with a dry organic wine and in-season pomegranates. Replace the Sprite/7-up with the same amount of club soda plus 1/4 cup of organic cane sugar. Recipe by I’ll Have What She’s Having . MORNING AFTER BLOODY MARY On New Year’s Day, you might need some hair of the dog to get you through the effects of your end-of-year celebrations. Bloody Marys, like this one from Over the Hill and on a Roll , provide that kick and sustenance in the way of veggies and tomato juice. Pick organic veggies and vodka for a healthier remedy. Lead image via Shutterstock

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6 sustainably crafted cocktails for New Year’s Eve

10 ingenious Halloween costumes made from recycled junk

October 13, 2016 by  
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When it comes to Halloween, Americans aren’t spooked about buying new costumes or decorations. According to the National Retail Federation , Americans are predicted to spend over $8.4 billon on Halloween goods in 2016 – higher than any year in history. One way to stop contributing to the inevitable waste is to get crafty and make your own costumes out of things you have lying around the house. Here are a ten unique, inspiring costumes made out of recycled junk that are sure to impress on Halloween. 1.Soda Tab Monty Python Black Knight Here’s some brilliant repurposing — the chainmail sleeves on this Black Night rendition of Monty Python and the Holy Grail are made entirely out of discarded soda can tabs. The helmet is made from a garbage can and textured with hot glue. Top that off with some coconut shells and you’ll be as good as gold. RELATED: Trotify Makes Your Bike Sound Like a Galloping Horse 2. Plastic Bag Warrior Princess We’ve all got stock piles of plastic bags, so why not put them to good use? Those with a knack for sewing can make this crafty costume in a cinch. First attach the plastic bag strips to a bodice and hand sew in layers to make the skirt. Using some yarn left over from over knitting projects, build the breastplates and then paint a cardboard sword so you can rock the real warrior look. 3. Walking Game Board If you’re feeling extra nostalgic, try recreating your favorite childhood board game. This costume mimics the Perfection board game using cardboard boxes , old plastic tablecloths, and cut-out shapes. The pop-out game pieces are made with some old sponges, duct tape, and pill bottles. For the full instructions on this particular outfit, check out this past entry from Inhabitat’s Green Halloween Contest. 4. Game of Thrones Illusion Serious Game of Thrones fans will dig this getup. The ode to King Joffrey has a set of false legs, giving the illusion of sitting when the wearer is actually standing and walking inside the throne. This particular illusory costume was made from cardboard boxes, vertical blinds and palm fronds found in a dumpster. The jacket was fashioned out of old fabric, and the fur trim, pants and boots were picked up at a thrift store. The sword was an old prop the creator had on hand. Related: Announcing Inhabitots’ 2016 Halloween Costume Contest! ENTER NOW 5. Claw Machine This clever getup is an ode to those kooky claw machine games . Simply glue recycled boxes together for the body, refashion old spatula handles for the claw, and throw in some old stuffed animals. 6. Couples Tetris Addicted to Tetris ? To fashion a couples costume, simply paint and glue together eight same-sized cardboard boxes. Then cut holes for faces, arms, and for interlocking the boxes. This costume design requires little time or money to pull off, and your friends will love it. 7. Wall-E This version of the beloved waste-collecting Wall-E robot is crafted entirely out of recycled items. The body, eyes and wheels are made from cut cardboard and the pupils were cut from bottoms of plastic bottles. Everything was assembled with a hot glue gun and spray painted to mimic the adorable bot. 8. Trashcan and Recycling Bin Halloween Costume These brother and sister waste and recycling bin outfits are made partly from actual trash. The bodices are made from recycled boxes and some low-VOC paint, while a disk and cardboard depicts the trashcan lid and an old milk jug becomes a recycling top hat. Add some trash and recyclables, and voila! 9. Lego Mini-Figure Zombie This perfectly undead Lego mini-figure zombie costume is made from recycled foam rubber camping mats. After measuring the dimensions of a toy Lego mini-figure in proportion to your own measurements, simply cut out shapes of the camping mats and hot glue the pieces together. Paint on the oozing Lego head and use an auto window tint for visibility. 10. Spider Attack Here’s an ingenious use for old Halloween decor — the spider attack! This works great for a baby costume, but could also be used with multiple spiders for an adult. Make a “swaddle” out of some stretchy white fabric and top it with oversized spider and webbing decorations. Have your own idea for a fabulous costume made from repurposed junk? Submit it into our Green Halloween Costume Contest !

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10 ingenious Halloween costumes made from recycled junk

LEED Gold-seeking Santa Monica science facility uses architecture to teach students about sustainability

October 13, 2016 by  
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The 25,000-square-foot Science Education & Research Facility is the first new building to be constructed at the Crossroads’ main campus in nearly 20 years and serves as the primary science facility for Upper and Middle School students. FFP worked closely with the Crossroads community and students, who helped design parts of the building, such as the geological fossil lines and the engraved compass rose on the 12-sided Special Projects Pavilion that features two project classrooms and an outdoor living laboratory. A Ned Khan -designed kinetic sculpture activated by wind and gravity tops the pavilion. In addition to the pavilion that’s connected to the main building with bridges, the three-story facility comprises twelve open classrooms, faculty spaces, labs, and a rooftop teaching garden. Related: Gorgeous LEED Gold library was designed with the help of Facebook and Twitter Glass curtain walls bring in natural light to reduce dependence on artificial lighting. Additional sustainable features include photovoltaic panels embedded into the glass curtain wall, recycled denim insulation, LEDs , a stormwater filtration system, and energy-efficient mechanical, plumbing, and lighting systems. + Frederick Fisher and Partners Architects Via ArchDaily Images via Frederick Fisher and Partners Architects , © Jeremy Bittermann

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LEED Gold-seeking Santa Monica science facility uses architecture to teach students about sustainability

6 innovative ways to harvest and harness rainwater

July 11, 2016 by  
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1. Install Rain Barrels A rain barrel is perhaps the most straightforward way to harvest water on-site. Any household with outdoor space can install a rainwater catchment system that fills a barrel with water that can then be used to nourish plants. Given the rain barrel’s revolutionary ability to improve resilience through saving water, it is not surprising that, prior to this past May, backyard rain barrels were illegal in Colorado. You can purchase a prefabricated rain barrel online or from a local vendor. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can build your own from scratch. Barrels are most easily found on sites like Craigslist or Freecycle , or at local food distributors. Usually fed by a downspout off a gutter, rain barrels should be elevated above the ground for greater water pressure when using a garden hose. DIY instructions can be found here  or  here. 2. Produce Living Mulch To many, the word mulch brings to mind the smell and sight of shredded wood chips blanketing the earth. True, this is a form of mulch, usually softwood (from conifer trees) and often used in traditional landscape design. However, mulch, or mulching, refers to a general practice of covering the soil with an organic layer of matter that suppresses weeds and retains soil moisture. When possible, living mulch is an ideal solution, particularly if it’s edible. In my gardens, we have allowed purslane, a leaf vegetable that is used in certain Indian and Persian cuisine and has become a summer weed in temperate climates, to propagate, while removing most other weeds. This results in a thorough ground cover that suppresses other more noxious weeds while retaining moisture by shielding soil from the sun. 3. Create Lasagna Mulch Ambitious soil-builders may also apply sheet-mulch, or ” lasagna mulching ,” to their growing space to catch rainwater and increase yield. This involves the application of layers, made of organic material such as shredded leaves, compost, seaweed, over a base of cardboard that covers the soil. These materials will decompose and fuel a healthy soil ecology while providing protection from water loss. “Chop and drop” mulching is made possible through comfrey, a plant used for fertilizer and herbal medicine. After the plant has been established, gardeners can cut the prolific leaf growth from comfrey and apply it as mulch to a growing space. Comfrey is known as a “dynamic accumulator” able to pull nutrients from deep within the soil. These nutrients become readily available in comfrey leaves, which quickly decompose after chopping. 4. Build Swales A helpful design principle is the efficient use of resources that are available and abundant on-site. The power of gravity is infinite and drives much of the earth’s natural drama. When rain falls on a slope, the runoff quickly finds its way downhill. Unless captured by the local ecology, this running water may cause erosion. Runoff is both a threat and a missed opportunity. Rainwater runoff can be trapped through the application of swales, a landform that utilizes a raised mound and an immediately uphill ditch to slow downhill runoff. This runoff moisture is then absorbed by the large surface area of the mound, where it is accessible to plant roots. Swales must be built along contour lines to ensure a balanced system. For a small-scale swale, workers may use shovels to dig a ditch and use the removed soil to create a mound. On the mound, growers can plant fruit or nut trees, annual and perennial vegetables, berry bushes, herbs and more to create a food-producing ecosystem that prevents erosion and harvests water through its root networks. 5. Grow Mushrooms and Carnivorous Plants When designing a growing space, it is helpful to consider the benefits of stacking functions, or including components in a system that perform more than one function. For example, the ditch section of the swale serves to slow and concentrate runoff water so that plants growing on the downhill mound may have access to it. However, the ditch may also serve as a growing space for edible and medicinal mushrooms. Many mushroom varieties, including oyster and wine cap, can be grown in an inoculated, moist patch of hardwood chips. Chips from hardwood, or deciduous trees can be hard to find as they are not usually available in common hardware or gardening stores. Check with local landscaper companies. After acquiring, these chips may be applied with a layer of mushroom spawn to a swale ditch and voila: functions stacked, mushrooms established. Even mushrooms grown on logs, such as shiitake, benefit from ready access to rainwater. For best results, mushroom growers should use rainwater, not tap water, to maintain moisture and induce fruiting. However, tap water is usually acceptable if rainwater is not available. But hey, after reading and applying this article, you’ll have rainwater for days. You might as well give your mushrooms the best. While mushrooms may tolerate treated water, carnivorous plants will not. Pitcher plants, venus fly traps, and others developed their unique consumption habits as an adaptation to poor soil environments. The nutritionally infused tap water will fry the meat-eating flora with excessive nutrients and alkalinity. Carnivorous plants can be found here. 6. Make Beer Yes, it is true. Harvested rainwater can be used to brew sustainable beer. RainHarvest Systems and 5 Seasons Brewery collaboratively developed a rainwater beer system that redirects fallen precipitation into brewing equipment. Their work, shared to encourage other would-be green brewers to catch the rain, is available to explore here. Images via Flickr ,  Ken Gibson , Stephanie Sicore,   Suzanne Schroeter , TreeYo Permaculture   Wendell Smith,   U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast , and  Quinn Dombrowski  

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6 innovative ways to harvest and harness rainwater

Architects envision carbon-sucking solar makeover for a busy L.A. freeway

July 11, 2016 by  
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Freeways don’t have to be so darn drab. Built in 1953 and expanded in 1971, the Arroyo Seco Bridge on Los Angeles ‘ 134 Freeway in Pasadena currently includes 10 traffic lanes. Its main purpose is to transport vehicles from Point A to Point B, but in the process it sends a huge amount of carbon emissions into the atmosphere and emits disruptive noise pollution. Michael Maltzan Architecture (MMA) and Arup Los Angeles designed a fix for the bridge, which includes a suite of solar panels and pile of carbon-sponging concrete. Their design transforms the bridge into a type of above-ground tunnel that MMA calls a ” new infrastructural overlay .” Drivers would still be able to see through the tunnel, but elements like “acoustically insulated walls” and “porous concrete ‘lungs'” would dramatically slash pollution . Arup estimates the insulated walls would cut noise by 65 percent, and the ‘lungs’ could capture 516,000 tons yearly of carbon dioxide. On top of the tunnel solar panels would provide clean energy for 600 homes and a rainwater collection system that would both water plants on the tunnel and add to Pasadena’s water supply. Related: Los Angeles approves $28 million FAB Park designed by OMA and IDEO Not only would the green freeway offer a more sustainable means of transportation, but could generate money for the city of Pasadena. MMA says the ” cost savings ” – which would be around $1 million – could be given to local schools. The green dream won’t become reality just yet; rather, it’s a vision of how aging infrastructure could fit into a sustainable vision for the 21st century. Caltrans, Los Angeles County, and Pasadena would need to work together to build the innovative freeway, though MMA doesn’t yet have an estimate for how much it would cost. But it would clearly offer huge benefits to local residents, and MMA says the concept is ” expandable “, such that it could be easily utilized on other freeways. + Michael Maltzan Architecture + Arup Los Angeles Via the Los Angeles Times Images via Michael Maltzan Architecture

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