This groundbreaking new machine can recycle 220 pounds of diapers in a single hour

May 7, 2018 by  
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It takes hundreds of years for disposable diapers to decompose in landfills – but this new machine can turn 220 pounds of dirty diapers into clean, raw materials in a single hour. Sz-Chwun John Hwang and a team of researchers at Taiwan’s Chung Hua University built the machine as a pilot plant – and they’re planning to build a larger facility that can recycle 10 tons of used diapers in just one day. Disposable diapers are convenient but problematic Have you ever thought about the evolution of the diaper? You might be surprised to learn that the history of diapers goes back thousands of years, but disposable diapers have only been around since the 1960s. Diapers have evolved to be more effective and efficient. The disposable variety makes parents’ lives easier – they’re convenient, absorbent and gentle on babies’ skin. However, there is a huge downside to disposable diapers: the amount of waste generated from their use. In the U.S., it is estimated that 20 billion disposable diapers end up in landfills each year, and pathogens from solid waste contained in those diapers find their way into the environment. It can take hundreds of years for diapers to degrade in a landfill , and they release methane and other toxic gases into the air. If soiled diapers don’t end up in landfills, some companies choose to incinerate them, leading to an estimated 3428 kg of CO2 emissions per day, based on 10 tons of diapers per day. There is a need to reduce the amount of waste caused by disposable diapers, and companies and researchers are using technology to find innovative ways to recycle and reuse soiled diapers. Recycling disposable diapers Recycling diapers and other absorbent hygiene products might sound like a no-brainer, but the process has its complications — including cost-effectiveness and complex engineering. As technology advances, science can overcome these obstacles and make recycling disposable diapers a viable solution for reducing the amount of waste in landfills and harmful chemicals in the environment. Sz-Chwun John Hwang and his team have developed a diaper recycler that can make it easy for institutions — like long-term care facilities, day cares or hospitals — to give old diapers new life. The plan is simple: a specialized on-site washing machine sanitizes used diapers so they can be processed into reusable raw materials. The staff loads the machine with diapers and washes them with a disinfectant to destroy any pathogens. After the diapers are cleaned, the different materials (plastic, fluff fibers and absorbent material) are separated using stratification. This method uses less water than an average toilet, and the used water can be recycled on-site or easily disposed in the facilities’ existing drainage systems. The estimated carbon emission from this process is 35.1 kg of CO2 per day, based on 10 tons of diapers per day. After they are cleaned and separated on-location, the materials are taken to a central recycling center. The separated layers are transformed into new materials, which can be made into a range of products: plastic bags or trash cans from the plastic; new diapers, cardboard boxes or paper products from the fluff fill; and absorbent pet pads, desiccant or polyacrylate fiber from the absorbent material. In order for the product to be successful, the researchers had to make it user-friendly. If the process is too complicated or time-consuming, most people won’t bother with it. Hwang and his team designed the machines to make it easy for people to lift the diapers and load the machine. Diaper design must become more eco-friendly Hwang and his team are working with facilities to find new and inventive ways to recycle disposable diapers, and some other businesses are following suit. However, Hwang’s method stands out in that it focuses on making it easier for caretakers to collect the used diapers. Moving forward, diaper companies will need to partner with researchers to design the most effective and efficient diapers with a lower environmental impact. By finding innovative ways to reuse products and reducing the impact our waste has on the environment , we can help sustain our world for generations to come. + Chung Hua University Images via Chung Hua University , Hermes Rivera and Flickr

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This groundbreaking new machine can recycle 220 pounds of diapers in a single hour

Hundred-year-old workers cottage transformed into an eco-conscious home

May 7, 2018 by  
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When Altereco Design was approached to overhaul a hundred-year-old worker’s cottage in Melbourne , the clients asked that the renovation leave as small a carbon footprint as possible. As a result, the home—called Melbourne Vernacular—sports a stylish and sustainable redesign that combines recycled materials and modern aesthetics. Located in the inner-western suburb of Yarraville, Melbourne Vernacular retains much of its original structure. The original red brick paving from the backyard was salvaged as an internal feature wall and an external brick wall—doubling as thermal mass for the building—while the original Bluestone foundations and paving found new life as front paving. Local company Cantilever Interiors designed the kitchen, which features Cosentino’s line of ECO countertops made with 80% recycled content and a low-VOC finish. Related: Gorgeous live/work home in Melbourne is built with recycled materials A new insulating green roof tops the home and is complemented with drought-tolerant and native plant gardens. “This industrious approach to build and design reduces associated wasted energy (often synonymous with demolishing the old and building something shiny, modern and new), all the while successfully preserving and celebrating the certain charm that comes with a house of this era,” explained the architects. + Altereco Design Images by Nikole Ramsay

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Hundred-year-old workers cottage transformed into an eco-conscious home

Every project on DonorsChoose.org was just funded by a $29 million cryptocurrency donation

March 29, 2018 by  
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DonorsChoose.org helps teachers crowdsource funding for education needs, with over 35,000 open campaigns asking for everything from robotics kits to field trips. At least, there were 35,000 campaigns open last week. But as of earlier this week, there were zero campaigns thanks to an incredible $29 million donation from cryptocurrency startup Ripple that fulfilled every single one. According to DonorsChoose.org, this donation will provide funding for 70k books, 35k computers, 2,300 musical instruments and much more. Ripple contributed $29 million in cryptocurrency to 35,647 open campaigns, funding wishlists from over 28,000 teachers at 16,500 schools. In a joint statement with Ripple’s VP of Marketing Monica Long, DonorsChoose founder Charles Best said “The teachers behind these projects work with more than a million students who are now going to get materials and experiences that they need to learn. I do not believe there has ever been a day when this many classroom dreams came true.” Related: Former Patagonia CEO announces largest land donation in history While it might seem like Ripple and DonorsChoose are very different organizations, both focus on changing the way we fund the world. When Ripple approached Best to see what DonorsChoose needed most, Best made a one-in-a-million request to fund every project on the site. To his surprise, Ripple agreed. If you want to see what all the money is doing for teachers and students, check out the hashtag #bestschoolday on Twitter , where people are sharing what this announcement means for them. If this act of generosity inspires you as much as it does us, you can help out by going to DonorsChoose.org and funding one of the 6,000 projects that have popped up since Ripple donated. @HelmsDLSchool @Ripple #BestSchoolDay My Donors Choose project got funded!!! pic.twitter.com/esFiTJGzhr — Maria Hernandez (@marher2384) March 28, 2018 I logged into my Donor's Choose account and saw that my project was fully funded!!! @Ripple is allowing my students to experience a week-long trip to Atlanta and Alabama to visit HBCUs. I can't believe it. Thank you!! #BestSchoolDay #HBCU — Joe Somerville (@joesomerville) March 28, 2018 Thank you @Ripple for Funding our @DonorsChoose project! You have made the day of so many! #bestschoolday #oneRCE #b212rce3 pic.twitter.com/V0RdynVp2X — RCE 3rd Grade (@RCE3rdGrade) March 28, 2018 + DonorsChoose.org Via Fast Company Images via DonorsChoose.org and Unsplash

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Every project on DonorsChoose.org was just funded by a $29 million cryptocurrency donation

The world’s biggest Arctic lake isn’t as resistant to climate change as scientists thought

March 29, 2018 by  
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Scientists used to think Lake Hazen, located around 560 miles away from the North Pole in Canada , was beyond the reach of human impact. But new research led by geographer Igor Lehnherr of the University of Toronto Mississauga reveals the High Arctic lake is reacting to climate change . Lehnherr said in the university’s statement , “Even in a place so far north, it’s no longer cold enough to prevent the glaciers from shrinking. If this place is no longer conducive for glaciers to grow, there are not many other refuges left on the planet.” Lake Hazen park staff and visitors noticed the lake’s lack of ice in the summer; in the past, it was rare for the ice to melt completely during that time. Their reports sparked this new study, as did the realization that glaciers melted more in summer than they were growing in the winter, according to Lehnherr. Related: The melting Arctic is already changing the ocean’s circulation Scientists drew on research dating back to the 1950s for a study that is “the first to aggregate and analyze massive data sets on Lake Hazen,” according to the university. Lehnherr said on his website , the Environmental and Aquatic Biogeochemistry Laboratory , “What our study shows is that even in the High Arctic, warming is now occurring to such an extent that it is no longer cold enough for glaciers to grow, and lake ice to persist year-round.” Since Lake Hazen is so big, theoretically it should show more resilience to climate change compared to smaller bodies of water or ponds, Lehnherr said in the university’s statement. His website said he and his team had hypothesized Lake Hazen would be “relatively resilient to the impacts of Arctic warming” and the “finding that this was not the case is alarming.” Lehnherr said in the university’s statement, “If this lake is exhibiting signs of climate change, it really shows how pervasive these changes are.” The journal Nature Communications published the research online this week; scientists from institutions in Canada, the United States, and Austria also contributed. + University of Toronto Mississauga + Environmental and Aquatic Biogeochemistry Laboratory + Nature Communications Images via Pieter Aukes and Igor Lehnherr

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The world’s biggest Arctic lake isn’t as resistant to climate change as scientists thought

How one couple adapted a 204-square-foot tiny house for their new baby

February 7, 2018 by  
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What’s it like to live in a 204-square-foot space with a baby? Samantha and Robert Garlow of SHEDsistence know, and they’re sharing their story. After designing and constructing their SHED tiny house in Yakima, Washington , the couple moved into it with their cat in early 2016. Then they welcomed their first baby, Aubrin, last year. Sounds pretty tight, right? We checked in with Robert to get the low-down on their experience living with a tiny baby in a tiny home. Over 14 months, the Garlows designed and built their tiny house , working mostly during weekends. They moved in on January 31, 2016. Robert told Inhabitat, “We were tired of throwing money away in the form of rent and we had no interest in taking on a 30-year mortgage in addition to our six-figure student loan debt. A tiny house was mentioned as a joke until we began to realize it would help us achieve many of our goals and we liked the challenging idea of designing, building, and living in a tiny space. At the end of the day we knew it would be a memorable experience that we would learn a lot from and those are the best projects to take on.” Related: Meet the Tiny House Family Who Built an Amazing Mini Home for Just $12,000 Their 24-foot long, eight-foot-six-inch-wide, 13-foot-five-inch-tall tiny home includes a bathroom, living area, and kitchen, with a loft above. The stairs to reach the loft include storage , and they also dedicated 24 square feet for a storage room for their outdoor gear. They spent around $30,000 on materials. “Our mindset as to what is possible has changed,” Robert told Inhabitat. “What we expected to be a challenge has been effortless and rather than ‘surviving’ this experiment we are thriving. The biggest takeaway has been that good design makes all the difference. Careful, custom design based on the inhabitants’ ergonomics, needs, and aesthetics is paramount to making a space the size of many peoples’ master bathrooms a fully functioning home for a family. Everything has a place and a purpose (or two). We have everything we need and nothing that we don’t, which has led to an incredible liberating experience we hadn’t know beforehand.” But what happens when you have a baby in said tiny home? The Garlows made a few changes to welcome baby Aubrin, such as a loft net and door – with space for their cat to travel in and out. For sleeping, they started with a bedside bassinet and have since created a loft crib . Aubrin is now over eight months old. On their blog , the Garlows pointed out they’ve only ever raised a baby in a tiny house – “and without anything to compare it to, we have nothing but positive things to report. There is great peace of mind in knowing that we are raising our daughter in the cleanest, most healthy house we have ever lived in and the ability to always keep an eye on her is an added bonus.” The Garlows have used the tiny house to “ design the life we wanted ” – living in their tiny space enabled them to take extended parental leave, and Robert has been able to work from home and raise their baby. What about when Aubrin gets a little bigger? In a blog post , the couple said they’d utilize the tiny house for as long as it works for them, and then perhaps repurpose it as necessary. If they decide to move out of SHED tiny house, they said they could use it as studio or guesthouse, to name a few options. When asked what advice he’d give to people considering switching to a tiny home, Garlow told Inhabitat, “Commit to it. Tiny houses are an amazing life hack; a tool that can unlock incredible opportunities that would otherwise not be possible for many people, family or not.” He also recommended people custom design their homes to work for them – and construct them if possible, saying, “Not only do you save a lot of money but you gain an incredible experience and wealth of new knowledge throughout the process.” You can learn more about the Garlows’ journey here . They recently released the second edition of their book, Built With Our Hands , with a long appendix about their two years of calling the tiny house home, and the small things they’d change. You can order it here to read more and see their floor plans. + SHEDsistence + SHEDsistence Book: Built With Our Hands + SHEDsistence Facebook + SHEDsistence Instagram Images courtesy of Samantha and Robert Garlow/SHED tiny house ( 1 , 2 )

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How one couple adapted a 204-square-foot tiny house for their new baby

Build you own terrarium with Tom Dixons gorgeous glass vessels

February 7, 2018 by  
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Tom Dixon keeps on delighting us with his brilliant designs – from renovations of historic buildings to amazing lamps and even a brilliant IKEA collab . Now, Dixon is unveiling his PLANT collection, comprised of beautiful terrarium vessels which you can customize with your own floral arrangements. Each of the mouth-blown vessels has a distinct double-headed form that allows you to create beautiful micro- ecosystems . No two pieces are the same. Variations in the glass, from thickness to shape, contribute a truly unique vessel made to showcase the qualities of contemporary craftsmanship and freedom of form. Related: Tom Dixon’s Converted Water Tower in London is a Modernist Home in the Sky—and it’s Up for Rent! The designer’s website also features a visual “how-to” guide for people to create their own terrariums by using a combination of small rocks that collect water drainage, soil made for succulents and a variety of smaller plants. The PLANT collection is already available online and starts at $165. + Tom Dixon Via Cool Hunting

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Build you own terrarium with Tom Dixons gorgeous glass vessels

Cutting back sugar in your child’s diet can improve their health dramatically

January 28, 2017 by  
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Last year, a study in the journal Obesity revealed that cutting back on sugar for just 10 days can improve your child’s health. For 10 days, children in the study reduced their sugar intake by 28% without changing anything else in their diet. In just 10 days, diabetes markers, blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides were lowered. The American Heart Association has jumped on that message, recommending that children under 2 not eat any sugar at all and kids above the age of 2 stick to just 2 tablespoons. image via Shutterstock

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Cutting back sugar in your child’s diet can improve their health dramatically

6 Super common food additives that you need to avoid

January 14, 2017 by  
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It’s difficult for even the most dedicated person to make all of the daily meals from scratch and that often means relying on store-bought foods for condiments and other must-have kitchen items. But lurking in those kitchen staples are some food additives that can wreak havoc with the human body. Even worse, some of these pesky additives are hard to avoid because they are used in so many foods. Learn where they are hiding and how to avoid them with this handy guide.

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6 Super common food additives that you need to avoid

Finland’s ‘School of the future’ prioritizes collaboration and interaction

January 10, 2017 by  
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Finland is well known for its innovative, personalized education system that is regarded among the best in the world. Now the country is also giving attention to the school buildings themselves, and how they could better engage young learners. Of note is the Saunalahti school in the city of Espoo. The fluid space designed by Verstas Architects looks more like a contemporary art space than a basic, if not dreary, brick and mortar public school building. All of the elements are purposefully designed in order to create a more positive learning experience for both children and the community. The school’s atmosphere, both inside and outside, is one of a warm welcome and connection with nature . The large windows mean that students need not feel disconnected or far from the outdoors. The brickwork was intentionally arranged in different building methods and in random patterns to help encourage the children’s learning. Each hallway is a distinct color, to help avoid getting lost. Notably absent are any fences.The unconventional learning space lends itself toward the inclusive, collaborative approach Finland’s education system is well known for. Related: Finland is giving 2,000 citizens a free basic income Across this 10,500 square meters of the school, students are invited to have open discussions, and sit comfortably as they choose. The cafeteria, shared by both teachers and students, doubles as a theater . The school’s open spaces are intentional-to inspire students to walk around and engage with one another. The school also plays a role in the wider community, and is open to all citizens of the community after school hours. The overall affect is one of learning without walls. The school, thanks to its design, sets a tone for students to thrive. + Saunalahti School Via Arch Daily

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Finland’s ‘School of the future’ prioritizes collaboration and interaction

Chevy Bolt named 2017 North American car of the year

January 10, 2017 by  
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The 2017 Detroit Auto Show kicked off with the announcement that the Chevy Bolt scooped the North American Car of the Year award. This latest award follows a growing list the Bolt has received, from Motor Trend’s Car of the Year to Green Car Journal’s Green Car of the Year . “The Bolt EV fulfills Chevrolet’s promise to offer an affordable, long-range electric,” said Mark Reuss, executive vice president, GM Global Product Development. “It is a game-changer that is not only a great electric vehicle ; it’s a great vehicle — period.” Related: VW unveils the all-electric autonomous Microbus of the future Pricing for the Bolt starts at $37,495 before any federal or state taxes are applied. The 2017 Bolt started arriving at California and Oregon dealerships last month, with additional markets in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, including New York, Massachusetts and Virginia, seeing their first deliveries this winter. By mid-2017, the Bolt will be available across the US. + Chevy All images @Chevy

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Chevy Bolt named 2017 North American car of the year

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