Ghost gear is haunting our oceans

January 31, 2019 by  
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Fishing gear isn’t just deadly when there’s a fisherman at the other end of the line. Lost and abandoned equipment continues to kill, rampaging beneath the ocean’s surface, tangling fish, drowning seabirds and smothering reefs. This ghost gear haunts common and endangered species indiscriminately. According to a UN Environment and FAO report , another 640,000 tons of ghost gear is added to the undersea dump each year. In Southeast India, workers at the Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute have formed a team of ghost-net busters to reverse this damage.  The Gulf of Mannar includes 560 square kilometers of islands and shallow coastal waters. Since being declared a marine park in 1986, the live coral reefs have shrunk from 110 to 80 square kilometers. Between climate change bleaching the coral and destructive fishing practices, the ghost-net busters face daunting challenges. They must manually remove nets, being careful not to further damage the coral. Related: California teen finds golf balls are a major source of plastic waste in our oceans “Through removal of ghost nets, we hope not only to help conserve corals but also to support the small-scale fishermen who depend mainly on the reef-associated fishery resources for their livelihoods,” said Patterson Edward, director of the research institute. Edward is part of a team of nine marine scientists and three support staff who survey, monitor and restore reefs in the Gulf of Mannar. Finding and retrieving ghost nets is one part of their work. The problem goes way beyond the gulf. Ghost nets “are killing megafauna in the Indian Ocean and are a transboundary problem, because nets from India find their way to other countries in the region such as the Maldives and kill many iconic species such as turtles, rays and sharks ,” said Gabriel Grimsditch, an expert in marine ecosystems at UN Environment. While aerial views of floating garbage patches are all too familiar, many people have yet to learn about ghost gear. “It’s not just plastic bags and bottles negatively impacting marine life and the blue economy; it’s estimated that by weight, ghost gear makes up between 46 to 70 percent of all macro plastics in our ocean,” said Grimsditch. + UN Environment and FAO Image via Shutterstock

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Ghost gear is haunting our oceans

Recyclable art pavilion made of mesh pops up in Kolkata

January 10, 2019 by  
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West Bengal’s biggest annual festival recently saw the addition of a strikingly contemporary pavilion that is 100 percent recyclable in Kolkata , India. Designed by Abin Chaudhuri of the firm Abin Design Studio , the metal mesh pavilion was one of many temporary pavilions — or pandals — constructed to honor the goddess Durga as part of a five-day Hindu festival called Durga Puja. Unlike the other pandals, which are typically built of natural materials and reference traditional motifs and artworks, Abin Design Studio’s creation is architecturally modern with a dynamic form made from steel wire cubes. Installed inside an alley surrounded by buildings, Abin Design Studio’s Festival Pavilion stands out from its predecessors for the way it embraces the site. Rather than covering up the buildings, Abin Chaudhuri regarded the structures as a backdrop for his stacked cubes of steel wire mesh. The pavilion , which appears as a heap of cubes threatening to topple at any moment, is not only used to frame the deity, but it has also been manipulated to create an entrance arch and immersive sculptural artwork. “The installation is based on the idea of ‘Childhood,’” Abin Design Studio explained. “At the entrance of the installation, an abstract flight of birds overhead depicts the freedom of thought and creativity in young children. The wings gradually diminish and the birds tessellate into an array of boxes. Along with the deconstructed arrangement, the boxes put forward a commentary on the scenario of a child’s immense inherent potential getting slowly confined into a metaphorical box. The form of the installation then compels the viewer into a ‘void’, a place to sit and contemplate, in the axial presence of ‘Maa Durga.’” Related: A glowing river of books creates a traffic-free haven in Ann Arbor All parts of the temporary 350-square-meter pavilion are recyclable , from the steel mesh cubes and bamboo framing system to the plywood support system for the platform and stage as well as the old newspaper folded into origami birds. Moreover, the pavilion was also created as a module that could be replicated to activate forgotten urban spaces throughout the city, even in non-festival times. + Abin Design Studio Photography by Suryan/Dang, Abin Chaudhari, Sohomdeep Sinha Roy and Nancy Mandhan via Abin Design Studio

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Recyclable art pavilion made of mesh pops up in Kolkata

Asia looked to COP24 for answers — did it get them?

December 17, 2018 by  
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China, India and Indonesia remain some of the most polluting nations, but more sustainable development and finance are promising for their futures.

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Asia looked to COP24 for answers — did it get them?

A modern home in India stays naturally cool without AC

October 31, 2018 by  
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When Surat-based architect Ankit Parekh of Parekh Collaborative was asked to design a family home in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, one of the prerequisites was for a comfortably cool residence without air conditioning. In response, Parekh turned to ancient, low-tech methods for natural cooling, from decorative yet functional jali screens to stack ventilation. As a result, the house, named Rambaugh, maintains a temperature variation of 6 to 8 degrees year-round. Crafted with a contemporary appearance rooted in traditional techniques, Rambaugh was designed to house a family of six in Burhanpur. Slightly over 20,000 square feet in size, the residence includes ample space for large gatherings — the client’s extended family lives in the same precinct — and celebrates indoor-outdoor living. Shared communal areas flanked by green space form the heart of the two-story home, from the open-plan living room and dining area bookended by courtyards on the ground floor to the lounge that opens up to a lower terrace on the first floor. The formal living room and kitchen are cordoned off in opposite corners of the home. The master bedroom and two other bedrooms are located on the ground floor, while two additional bedrooms can be found upstairs. A solar site study informed the orientation of the building and the placement of openings that, combined with mechanically operated turbulators, take advantage of stack ventilation . The stone jali (a traditional, perforated, decorative screen) was hand-cut on site and installed on the southwest side of the home to deflect unwanted solar gain. A large existing Tamarind tree on the southeast of the site provides additional shade. The layout of the house also promotes natural ventilation and access to ample daylight. Moreover, rainwater is harvested and reused in the home. Related: A beautiful perforated facade shields this office from India’s harsh sun “The house is picturesque from all the sides because of ample appreciation space around it,” Parekh Collaborative noted. “This space is well designed with landscape elements and complements the house exteriors. A textured crimson block abutting a white mass on the side adds to iconic imagery of the house in abstraction. A dialogue between the house and landscape is generated using Mughal garden patterns.” + Parekh Collaborative Images by Nachiket Gujar

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A modern home in India stays naturally cool without AC

This rammed earth home in India uses recycled materials throughout

October 26, 2018 by  
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When a family of six approached Indian architectural practice Wallmakers for a low-cost home, the architects saw the limited budget as an opportunity to innovate and experiment rather than as a drawback. To keep costs low, recycled and natural materials were prioritized in the design of the Debris House, an approximately 2,000-square-foot dwelling that makes the most of its compact site. In addition to locally sourced materials, the environmentally sensitive home includes a rainwater harvesting and recycling system as well as passive air circulation. Located in Pathanamthitta of Kerala in the south of India, the Debris House derives its name from the site that was peppered with the remnants of many demolished buildings, elements of which were recycled into the new construction. Although smaller towns like Pathanamthitta have increasingly looked to building homes out of glass, concrete and steel in an attempt to mirror their urban neighbors, the architects resisted those trends in hopes that their site-specific design could inspire “the towns to find their own language.” As a result, the architects built the home’s rammed earth walls using soil that was excavated onsite. Recycled materials, also salvaged from the immediate area, were used to form a spiraled wall — dubbed the Debris Wall — that serves as a focal point defining the central courtyard, which allows cooling cross-winds into the home. Furniture was also built from reclaimed wood, specifically from the client’s storage boxes. To protect against unwanted solar gain, the windows are protected with meter boxes sourced from a local scrapyard. The concrete roof and slab were mixed with coconut shells, thus reducing the amount of cement used. Related: Rammed earth walls tie this modern home to the Arizona desert landscape “While the house uses numerous alternate technologies, there is a certain whimsy and playfulness in its design,” the architects said. “Looking at the local context, the project strikes out, humbly maintaining its commitment to the society and the environment .” + Wallmakers Photography by Anand Jaju via Wallmakers

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This rammed earth home in India uses recycled materials throughout

California becomes the first state to ban animal-tested cosmetics

October 1, 2018 by  
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A new California law banning the sale of animal-tested cosmetics is the first of its kind in the U.S. The California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act was signed by California Governor Jerry Brown on Friday soon after its inception by colleague and Senator Cathleen Galgiani. The regulations will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020, restricting manufacturers wishing to “import for profit, sell or offer for sale” all cosmetics produced with animal testing. Violators will incur a base fine of $5,000, plus $1,000 for each day they continue their illicit activities. Currently, several  animals are manipulated in the cosmetics industry including mice, rats, rabbits and guinea pigs. A large proportion of these test subjects are killed after experimentation, but not before they have been exposed to possibly irritating or even deadly substances. Susceptibility to hazards is determined by force-feeding or causing the animals to inhale chemicals in order to evaluate toxicity levels. Related: LA City Council unanimously agrees to ban the sale of fur The new California law makes the Humane Cosmetics Act, a federal bill that would eliminate the practice of animal testing in the cosmetics industry, all the more significant. The vital legislature was introduced to Congress last year, but has yet to be passed. Unfortunately, the greatest loophole that remains in the groundbreaking law is an exception for products for which no alternative experimentation procedures exist. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been very lax thus far, simply asking companies to “employ whatever testing is appropriate and effective” to eliminate adverse effects for consumers. California joins a list of governments, such as the EU, India, Israel and Norway, that have already adopted such a ban. But some countries, including China , require animal testing on all imported cosmetics. These animal-tested products could also funnel through the California legislature’s loopholes — as long as animals weren’t used to determine the safety of a product for sale in California specifically. While there has been a push in China to move away from animal testing, there is also greater incentive for companies to stop animal testing. Companies hope to avoid having to pay for two sets of testing, one set of animal tests for China and another to be able to sell the same products in the EU or California. “It gives greater impetus for [the cosmetics] industry to push for changes in other countries,” said Vicki Katrinak, program manager for animal research issues at the U.S. Humane Society. “We’re hoping that California will just be the start of resolving this issue.” + The California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act Via The Huffington Post Image via Siora Photography

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California becomes the first state to ban animal-tested cosmetics

Passenger service Gett launches carbon-free travel in the UK

September 14, 2018 by  
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The global, on-demand transportation service Gett is embarking on a new endeavor — implementing carbon-free and carbon-positive rides for all of its passengers. The company’s announcement features several initiatives to help accomplish this benchmark, and Gett’s success would make it the first major taxi app in the U.K. to attain a carbon-neutral status. With air quality continuously deteriorating to dangerous levels in several U.K. cities, the company is proud to become a first responder to the growing crisis. “Air quality is increasingly becoming more of an issue, not just in London, but across the U.K.,” Matteo de Renzi, CEO of Gett U.K., said. “By becoming carbon neutral, we’re incredibly proud to be helping cities achieve cleaner air and reduce pollution levels. By offsetting the CO2 our U.K. rides produce, we will positively impact multiple climate projects across the globe.” Related: Lyft is making all its rides carbon neutral In partnership with Carbon Clear, a global provider of energy and carbon sustainability solutions, Gett plans to ensure carbon neutrality by offsetting 7,500 tons of carbon dioxide — the amount of carbon dioxide emissions the company projects to release within the next 12 months — through various international programs. “The science tells us that carbon neutrality is necessary to protect the planet and sustain our livelihoods,” said Mark Chadwick, CEO of Carbon Clear. Together, the duo will be reducing pollution levels through a Wind Power Generation project in India that displaces the burning of fossil fuels. The team will also be supporting the Madre de Dios Project in Peru’s Amazon jungle to reduce deforestation. “The offsetting projects that Gett is supporting are subject to rigorous international standards to ensure they deliver the promised emissions reductions,” Chadwick said. “As well as this, these projects support sustainable development in international communities and have a tangible impact on people’s lives.” Related: Google Street View cars will map air pollution in cities worldwide Riders will also have the option to offer their own contribution of 20p ($0.26) to their Gett Green journeys if they wish, an action that will make each ride a carbon-positive experience on a long-term scale. The donations will be used to fund London schools that have been identified by the mayor’s school air quality audit program . This initiative is set on reducing emissions around London schools and mitigating youth exposure to heightened nitrogen dioxide levels. Gett will also continue to support electric and hybrid taxi conversions in cities such as Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London. The fully-certified electric taxis , made specifically to address growing pollution problems, are the first ever to be introduced on U.K.’s streets. Mindful to the core, Gett will not be adding extra vehicles to already-congested roads. Instead, the company wishes to continue its efforts in urban mobility improvement by reducing the amount of vehicles in circulation through its black car service gone green. + Gett + Carbon Clear Images via Gett

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Passenger service Gett launches carbon-free travel in the UK

Passenger service Gett launches carbon-free travel in the UK

September 14, 2018 by  
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The global, on-demand transportation service Gett is embarking on a new endeavor — implementing carbon-free and carbon-positive rides for all of its passengers. The company’s announcement features several initiatives to help accomplish this benchmark, and Gett’s success would make it the first major taxi app in the U.K. to attain a carbon-neutral status. With air quality continuously deteriorating to dangerous levels in several U.K. cities, the company is proud to become a first responder to the growing crisis. “Air quality is increasingly becoming more of an issue, not just in London, but across the U.K.,” Matteo de Renzi, CEO of Gett U.K., said. “By becoming carbon neutral, we’re incredibly proud to be helping cities achieve cleaner air and reduce pollution levels. By offsetting the CO2 our U.K. rides produce, we will positively impact multiple climate projects across the globe.” Related: Lyft is making all its rides carbon neutral In partnership with Carbon Clear, a global provider of energy and carbon sustainability solutions, Gett plans to ensure carbon neutrality by offsetting 7,500 tons of carbon dioxide — the amount of carbon dioxide emissions the company projects to release within the next 12 months — through various international programs. “The science tells us that carbon neutrality is necessary to protect the planet and sustain our livelihoods,” said Mark Chadwick, CEO of Carbon Clear. Together, the duo will be reducing pollution levels through a Wind Power Generation project in India that displaces the burning of fossil fuels. The team will also be supporting the Madre de Dios Project in Peru’s Amazon jungle to reduce deforestation. “The offsetting projects that Gett is supporting are subject to rigorous international standards to ensure they deliver the promised emissions reductions,” Chadwick said. “As well as this, these projects support sustainable development in international communities and have a tangible impact on people’s lives.” Related: Google Street View cars will map air pollution in cities worldwide Riders will also have the option to offer their own contribution of 20p ($0.26) to their Gett Green journeys if they wish, an action that will make each ride a carbon-positive experience on a long-term scale. The donations will be used to fund London schools that have been identified by the mayor’s school air quality audit program . This initiative is set on reducing emissions around London schools and mitigating youth exposure to heightened nitrogen dioxide levels. Gett will also continue to support electric and hybrid taxi conversions in cities such as Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London. The fully-certified electric taxis , made specifically to address growing pollution problems, are the first ever to be introduced on U.K.’s streets. Mindful to the core, Gett will not be adding extra vehicles to already-congested roads. Instead, the company wishes to continue its efforts in urban mobility improvement by reducing the amount of vehicles in circulation through its black car service gone green. + Gett + Carbon Clear Images via Gett

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Passenger service Gett launches carbon-free travel in the UK

Lush greenery grows in and around this breezy Indian home

September 3, 2018 by  
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When LIJO.RENY.architects  was tapped to design a modern house for the town of Tirur in the southern Indian state of Kerala — the name of which literally translates to “land of coconut trees” — there was no doubt that the region’s lush greenery would play a large part in the design. To bring nature into the home as much as possible, the architects used a grid layout that accommodates an indoor courtyard and outdoor verandas. This layout gave rise to the building’s name, the Regimented House. Numerous openings, long overhangs and perforated weathering steel screens provide shade and natural ventilation to keep the home cool in the region’s humid, tropical climate. Located on a 2.45-acre lot flush with trees and palms, the Regimented House shares the large property with an existing house owned by the client’s brother. The residents wanted a home that would provide a degree of privacy and autonomy, but they did not want the architects to erect a wall that would separate the new house from the brother’s house. They also didn’t want to be separated from the informal pedestrian path that divides the site and provides access to the main road. Thus, the architects crafted a decidedly contemporary home spanning 6,850 square feet that differs from the existing house with its long and linear form. “The simple yet formal nature of this built form, with the extended frontyard and backyard demarcated by hard landscape grids established a notion of a boundary, subtle nonetheless potent,” the architects explained. “Moreover, the grid layout was designed to accommodate landscaped courts of various types to ensure the essential blending in with nature as well as soften the otherwise bold presence of the built mass.” Related: Tsunami House is a green retreat perched high atop its own tower Designed to embrace indoor-outdoor living , the Regimented House comprises two floors organized around a central indoor courtyard with plenty of landscaping, including a vertical green wall . A minimalist palette and mostly white surfaces, punctuated by full-height glazing or openings, help keep the focus on the outdoor environment. The rooms of the house were also laid out for optimal natural ventilation. + LIJO RENY architects Via ArchDaily Images by Praveen Mohandas, Suneesh Suresh

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Lush greenery grows in and around this breezy Indian home

An old school bus is upcycled into an open-air theater in India

July 27, 2018 by  
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When Doaba Public School in Punjab, India decided to retire a 20-year-old school bus , it was reluctant to part ways with the vehicle. The bus had belonged to the school’s first fleet of school buses — now increased to a fleet of more than 50 vehicles — so, the administrators tapped Indian design practice Studio Ardete to reuse the decommissioned bus. The resulting design, called the Bavillion, is a geometric pavilion that’s integrated into the school and offers a play area, an open-air theater and a gallery space. The 323-square-foot Bavillion serves the Doaba Public School located in the remote Punjabi village of Parowal. More than 2,500 students from over 100 villages travel — primarily on buses — to the school. Knowing how important buses are to the school, Studio Ardete was careful to keep the vehicle shape intact (including the steering wheel and driver’s seat) while gutting the interior to make way for a new gallery space lined with multi-faceted panels for texture. The pavilion structure was built on the outside of the bus as a “triangular prismatic volume,” and a deck was installed atop the roof of the bus. The upcycled “Bus-Building” was also developed to teach the students and community about the circular economy and the benefits of recycling. The pavilion functions as a congregation space with bleacher seating for students and teachers, while the interior gallery offers insight and documentation on the school’s history over the past four decades. Related: Old Greyhound bus converted into gorgeous tiny house on wheels “The bond shared by the school bus and the school has thus found a new meaning,” Studio Ardete said in a project statement. “After serving more than 8,000 school trips and taking on the responsibility of a million student’s transfers, it finally rests as an integral part of the school. A play area, an open air theater, a gallery and above all a symbol that inculcates the importance of reuse and upcycling in the students so their vision for tomorrow can be driven toward a sustainable future.” + Studio Ardete Images via Ar.Purnesh Dev Nikhanj

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An old school bus is upcycled into an open-air theater in India

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