Kin Travel is offering unique vacation ideas that benefit destinations through conservation and sustainability

April 23, 2019 by  
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Traveling is becoming more and more convenient through the help of new technology, but sadly it doesn’t always bode well for places affected by over tourism and negative influences. Kin Travel began when founders Brian Jones and Mark Somen decided to give travelers a way to go on vacation while immersing themselves into the local culture and having a positive impact on their destinations. They strive to offer opportunities to rejuvenate communities and environments through travel , proving that visitors don’t have to disrupt their surroundings to enjoy themselves. One of the company’s most popular trips, located in Labadie, Haiti, includes volunteer work in reef restoration, hikes to UNESCO World Heritage sites, local school visits, bonfires with village elders and beach drum circles. The trip ranges from $2,400 to $4,000 for the six-day experience depending on accommodation type, but that rate includes everything but flights (that means transportation , experiences like yoga classes and photos, food, drinks and accommodation). The housing for the Haiti vacation is akin to glamping, equipped with a glamorous beach side yurt tent with memory foam mattress and furnishings made by local artists. Throughout the camp there are spots for dancing, yoga, fire pits and lounging, as well as a fully-equipped bathroom, bar and kitchen. Food is prepared by an accomplished chef who uses local ingredients for every meal. Kin partners with local companies in Haiti to help boost the economy and positively impact the community . Related: Fairmont canine ambassador program promotes human-animal connection Halfway across the globe in Kenya, Kin Travel leads safari trips in the Olderkesi Conservancy bordering the famous Maasai Mara National Reserve. Kin invests part of the profits into tree-planting, as well as the Cottars Wildlife Community Trust to support local entrepreneurial and educational opportunities for women. Accommodations for the Kenya trip include private bathrooms, a spa, pool and tented lounge area with a viewing deck. Apart from the typical safari activities like bush walks and Big Five game drives, participants also get to experience school visits, waterfall swims, massages, local markets, village visits and even an educational meeting with a reformed poacher. The camp is an accredited Global Ecosphere Retreat, chosen for its commitment to sustainability through conservation, community, culture and commerce. In Wyoming, Kin partnered with The Bentwood Inn, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World to create a winter wildlife safari on the corner of Grand Teton National Park and Elk Refuge. An uncommon spot for a typical American vacation, the town of Jackson Hole, where the trip takes place, represents one of the country’s largest income gaps. Kin focuses on serving underrepresented communities in the area while interacting with the people who best know how to serve the local environment . Along with a National Geographic photographer and local biologists, visitors will track animals such as wolves, bison, fox, bighorn sheep and elk through the unparalleled landscape . Travelers will also visit the Wildlife Art Museum, Vertical Harvest and Cultivate (a local organization that provides training and education to combat the local unemployment rate), while supplementing the trip with skiing adventures. In Wyoming, Kin Travel also works with One 22 providing language interpretation, emergency services and education to underrepresented communities and 1% for the Tetons, who contribute $1 million a year to local social and environmental projects. Beginning in August, the company is pairing up with non-profit IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) to curate a series of trips focusing on animal conservation in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Each weekend package for the Cape Cod trip will include immersive activities led by renowned scientists and explorers where travelers will dive into the non-profit’s work saving marine mammals (think tracking whales at sea and dolphin rescue training) and beach side experiences like bonfires, oyster shucking, bike riding and yoga. In addition to Provincetown, IFAW and Kin are planning future trip location opportunities as well. Prices range from $2,200 to $2,800 for the all-inclusive weekend. Accommodations will take place in The Salt House Inn, a restored 19th century cottage a few blocks from the beach , complete with an outdoor patio and dining room. The focus of the newly designed trip is to immerse participants into the IFAW Marine Mammal Rescue and Research work along the 700-mile southeastern Massachusetts coastline. Sadly, this area is known as having one of the highest rates of whale and dolphin strandings (beaching) on earth. IFAW is fighting back against strandings and sea life entanglement with the non-profit’s world-renowned rescue and prevention program made up of experts and highly-trained volunteers, all while conducting important research simultaneously. As a part of the Kin Travel group, attendees will participate in a marine conservation course led by these experts. With the growing popularity of mindful and sustainable travel increasing among jet-setters, the journeys offered by Kin Travel couldn’t have come at a better time. The company proves that travel organizations don’t have to sacrifice community and environmental awareness for life-changing experiences. + Kin Travel Images via IFAW, Kin Travel, Kimson doan, Montylov

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Kin Travel is offering unique vacation ideas that benefit destinations through conservation and sustainability

Trader Joe’s ditching single-use plastics for more eco-friendly options

March 11, 2019 by  
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An increasing number of grocery stores are ditching single-use plastics to help curb the amount of synthetic materials that end up in landfills around the world. Trader Joe’s is the most recent business to reduce plastic use in stores across the country, a move that comes after a Greenpeace initiative that garnered close to 100,000 signatures. In 2018, Trader Joe’s vowed to use more sustainable packaging to help decrease the 1 million pounds of waste it generates annually from plastics. A big chunk of that waste comes from single-use plastic bags , which the outlet has already stopped offering to customers. The company has also stopped using plastic in the produce section, replacing the traditional bags with biodegradable alternatives. Related: Cove launches the first 100% biodegradable water bottle “As a neighborhood grocery store, we feel it is important for us to be the great neighbor our customers deserve. Part of that means better managing our environmental impact,” Trader Joe’s Kenya Friend-Daniel shared. Plastic waste is a growing issue for countries around the globe. Only a quarter of plastics manufactured in the states are recycled, despite the fact that it takes significantly more energy to make plastic from scratch. If we increased recycling efforts up to three quarters, then we could save around a billion gallons in oil production and free up some 44 million yards of landfill every year. Trader Joe’s is not the first business to get rid of single-use plastics and hopefully will not be the last. Several grocery retailers in the United Kingdom have also removed single-use plastics from their stores. McDonald’s has also vowed to replace its packaging with sustainable materials within a decade, while Evian will go completely plastic free by next year. Reducing our reliance on single-use plastic is the first step in eliminating plastic waste , which often ends up in the ocean. With more and more companies like Trader Joe’s ditching single-use plastics for more eco-friendly options, we can only hope that other businesses will follow their lead and cut down on plastic use at a larger scale. Via Eco Watch Images via Shutterstock

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Trader Joe’s ditching single-use plastics for more eco-friendly options

India plans to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022

June 6, 2018 by  
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Big news from India : the country aims to abolish single-use plastic in about four years. Prime minister Narendra Modi announced the goal on World Environment Day , and The Guardian said it’s the most ambitious commitment out of the actions to combat plastic pollution happening in 60 nations. The move could dramatically reduce the flow of plastic from 1.3 billion people. India is resisting plastic pollution with what United Nations Environment head Erik Solheim called a phenomenal commitment. The country’s Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Harsh Vardhan said single-use plastics will be banned in all of the country’s states by 2022. Solheim said the move would inspire the planet and “ignite real change.” Related: Kenya introduces world’s harshest law on plastic bags “It is the duty of each one of us to ensure that the quest for material prosperity does not compromise our environment ,” Modi said. “The choices that we make today will define our collective future. The choices may not be easy. But through awareness, technology and a genuine global partnership, I am sure we can make the right choices. Let us all join together to beat plastic pollution and make this planet a better place to live.” UN Environment released  a report providing “the first comprehensive global assessment of government action against plastic pollution,” including case studies from over 60 countries. The report included a list of states and cities in India that have banned plastic bags or disposable plastic products, and the selected case study in the country highlighted beach cleanup efforts in Mumbai; Inhabitat covered the initiative started by local lawyer Afroz Shah earlier this year. Volunteers have cleaned up around 13,000 tons of trash, largely plastics , according to the case study, and this year people spotted Olive Ridley turtle hatchlings on the beach for the first time in more than 20 years. + United Nations Environment Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos and Juggadery/Flickr

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India plans to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022

The world’s last male northern white rhino has died in Kenya

March 20, 2018 by  
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Devastating news for wildlife enthusiasts: Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino , has died. Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the Dv?r Králové Zoo announced the 45-year-old rhino was euthanized at the 90,000-acre non-profit wildlife facility Kenya on March 19 after being unable to overcome age-related muscle and bone degeneration or debilitating skin wounds. “His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal,” Ol Pejeta wrote on their Facebook page . Ol Pejeta says Sudan escaped extinction of his kind when he was first moved to the zoo in the 1970s, and then sired two females, significantly contributing to the survival of his species. Before he was euthanized, they collected his genetic material in anticipation of advanced cellular technologies they might be able to use in future reproductive efforts. Related: The last male northern white rhino suffers declining health “We on Ol Pejeta are all saddened by Sudan’s death. He was a great ambassador for his species and will be remembered for the work he did to raise awareness globally of the plight facing not only rhinos, but also the many thousands of other species facing extinction as a result of unsustainable human activity,” said Richard Vigne, Ol Pejeta’s CEO. “One day, his demise will hopefully be seen as a seminal moment for conservationists world wide.” With Sudan’s death, the only remaining northern white rhinos are Sudan’s daughter Najin and her daughter Fatu, according to Ol Pejeta. In their statement, the conservancy said, “The only hope for the preservation of this subspecies now lies in developing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques using eggs from the two remaining females, stored northern white rhino semen from males and surrogate southern white rhino females.” While Sudan died of old age, it’s worth noting that humanity is a main driver of the sixth mass extinction, which, according to a news report released last year, is killing off wildlife 100 times faster than normal . + Ol Pejeta Conservancy All images via Ol Pejeta

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The world’s last male northern white rhino has died in Kenya

The world’s last male northern white rhino has died in Kenya

March 20, 2018 by  
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Devastating news for wildlife enthusiasts: Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino , has died. Ol Pejeta Conservancy and the Dv?r Králové Zoo announced the 45-year-old rhino was euthanized at the 90,000-acre non-profit wildlife facility Kenya on March 19 after being unable to overcome age-related muscle and bone degeneration or debilitating skin wounds. “His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal,” Ol Pejeta wrote on their Facebook page . Ol Pejeta says Sudan escaped extinction of his kind when he was first moved to the zoo in the 1970s, and then sired two females, significantly contributing to the survival of his species. Before he was euthanized, they collected his genetic material in anticipation of advanced cellular technologies they might be able to use in future reproductive efforts. Related: The last male northern white rhino suffers declining health “We on Ol Pejeta are all saddened by Sudan’s death. He was a great ambassador for his species and will be remembered for the work he did to raise awareness globally of the plight facing not only rhinos, but also the many thousands of other species facing extinction as a result of unsustainable human activity,” said Richard Vigne, Ol Pejeta’s CEO. “One day, his demise will hopefully be seen as a seminal moment for conservationists world wide.” With Sudan’s death, the only remaining northern white rhinos are Sudan’s daughter Najin and her daughter Fatu, according to Ol Pejeta. In their statement, the conservancy said, “The only hope for the preservation of this subspecies now lies in developing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques using eggs from the two remaining females, stored northern white rhino semen from males and surrogate southern white rhino females.” While Sudan died of old age, it’s worth noting that humanity is a main driver of the sixth mass extinction, which, according to a news report released last year, is killing off wildlife 100 times faster than normal . + Ol Pejeta Conservancy All images via Ol Pejeta

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The world’s last male northern white rhino has died in Kenya

New green school in Kibera slum replaces original started by concerned Kenyan mothers

September 28, 2017 by  
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A group of concerned mothers started the Anwa primary school in Kibera, Kenya , where extremely disadvantaged children previously lacked access to education. Over time, the school has grown in attendance and needed a new facility that would replace the original 2-story ramshackle building. Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) designed the new main building in close collaboration with the school community as a model for sustainable, context-based design. The architects used sustainably-sourced and certified timber framing, wattle and daub mud-walls on the ground floor and mabati (steel) sheeting on the first floor. This references traditional Kibera construction techniques while reflecting a connection with the local identity. Related: Mobile school “walking classrooms” are helping change lives in Kenya KDI carpentry trainees built the doors and windows using bamboo and timber. All materials used were locally-sourced, while the techniques and building methods were transferable to the local community. The next phase in the project will focus on creating a suitable access to the upper storey and a sustainable landscape for the school grounds. The design firm issued a statement: “At KDI, we co-design and build what we call Productive Public Spaces (PPS) – formerly underutilized, unsafe or polluted sites that are transformed into active, attractive community hubs.” + Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI)

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New green school in Kibera slum replaces original started by concerned Kenyan mothers

Solar roof tiles help power this secondary school in rural Kenya

August 31, 2017 by  
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Schools in rural Kenya often suffer through frequent power outages, and energy from the national grid can be expensive. But solar roof tiles from Strauss Energy offer a cheaper, renewable alternative. At the 275-student Gaitheri Secondary School in Murang’a County, the reliable source of electricity has enhanced students’ performance since they can study at night, and allowed the school to give computer lessons. Strauss Energy works to place building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) on structures, such as the solar roof tiles at the Kenya school. The tiles are intended for rooftops in place of solar panels , and provide a clean source of energy . Battery storage at the school ensures it receives power even on cloudy days and at night. Thanks to the solar roof tiles, Gaitheri Secondary School only pays around 1,500 Kenyan shillings, or about $14.50, a month, which the Thomson Reuters Foundation notes is essentially a fixed charge for access to power from the grid. Related: Solar Sister Empowers Women to Bring Solar Energy to Rural Africa Teacher Jackson Kamau Kiragu told the Thomson Reuters Foundation they can now offer computer lessons, saying, “We’ve got 18 computers, but power was a challenge before Strauss Energy came on board.” Organizations Christian Aid and the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance commissioned a survey earlier this year that found only around 57 percent of Kenyans are hooked up to the grid, so there’s potentially a large demand for off-grid power. Strauss Energy Chief Operations Officer Charity Wanjiku said they aim to develop BIPV technology to take advantage of Kenya’s sunshine, which isn’t fully exploited. She said while the technology may be expensive for homes – tiles cost between $20 and $250 each, based on their size – it’s optimal for schools, hospitals, or estate developers. Strauss Energy is researching ways to lower the cost of the solar tiles while boosting efficiency, and has plans to build a plant able to pump out 10,000 units every day. Via Thomson Reuters Foundation Images via Strauss Energy Facebook

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Solar roof tiles help power this secondary school in rural Kenya

Dilapidated WWI soldier barracks in Essex converted into stunning eco home

August 31, 2017 by  
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Instead of demolishing an old, dilapidated Nissen Hut that had sat on their farmland in Essex for nearly a century, one ambitious couple decided to convert it into a stunning eco property. The elongated iron structure – which was originally built as soldier barracks in WWI – has been reborn as the Zinc House, a contemporary, five-bedroom family home updated with a beautiful zinc roof and various sustainable features . Originally built as make shift soldier housing during WWI, Nissen huts were then used as bomb shelters during the Second World War. Most of the old structures, which are scattered across the UK countryside, have since fallen into disrepair. Related: True North Detroit is an affordable live-work community made from prefab Quonset huts However, instead of demolishing the rusty old building that had sat on their farm land for almost a century, Claire Benbrook and her late husband Richard decided to restore the old building. The home was gutted and clad with an attractive zinc roof and updated with large terraces on either side. The home, which is just under 4,000 square feet, was also installed with various sustainable features such as ultra-strong insulation and a ground source heat pump for added efficiency. The curved elongated structure has double-glazed bifold walls that run the entire length of the home. Glazed doors and large windows illuminate the interior with plenty of natural light and provide stunning views of the surroundings. The interior is a minimalist design , with white walls and an Italian glass staircase that holds court in the entranceway. The first floor houses an open-plan layout which includes the kitchen, dining area, and large living area. A massive 22-foot-long master bedroom is located on the second floor, with a large covered terrace that looks out over the expansive countryside. + Strutt & Parker Via Stuff Images via Strutt & Parker

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Dilapidated WWI soldier barracks in Essex converted into stunning eco home

Kenya introduces world’s harshest law on plastic bags

August 28, 2017 by  
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Kenya has been a major plastic bag exporter to the nearby region. But now the country is cracking down on the polluting bags with the toughest law of its kind in the world. Kenyans selling, producing, or just using plastic bags could face a $40,000 fine or imprisonment for as long as four years. Kenya’s plastic bag law came into effect just this week. According to Reuters, the country in East Africa joins over 40 countries worldwide that have either banned, partly banned, or put a tax on single-use plastic bags, such as Rwanda, Italy, and China. Under Kenya’s new law, police can target any person carrying a plastic bag, although environment minister Judy Wakhungu told Reuters enforcement would initially prioritize suppliers and manufacturers, and that the common man “will not be harmed.” Related: Morocco just officially banned plastic bags Not everyone is happy with the new law, which took Kenya more than 10 years – and three attempts – to pass. Kenya Association of Manufacturers spokesperson Samuel Matonda said 176 manufacturers will have to close, with around 60,000 jobs lost. But other people point to the environmental cost of plastic bags: it can take between 500 and 1,000 years for them to break down. And the bags have been showing up in cows intended for human consumption. In slaughterhouses in Nairobi, some of these cows had 20 bags taken out of their stomachs. County vet Mbuthi Kinyanjui said, “This is something we didn’t get 10 years ago but now it’s almost on a daily basis.” Kenya borders the Indian Ocean, and plastic bags can drift into the ocean and end up consumed by whales and dolphins, who ultimately die as their stomachs fill up with trash. The bags can strangle or suffocate marine creatures like turtles and seabirds. Plastic also ends up in fish later eaten by humans. Marine litter expert Habib El-Habr, working with the United Nations Environment Program in Kenya, said, “If we continue like this, by 2050, we will have more plastic in the ocean than fish.” Supermarket chains in Kenya such as Nakumatt and Carrefour have begun offering cloth bags as alternatives to plastic for customers. Via Reuters Images via Pixabay and Wikimedia Commons

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A lacy skin fills this Kenyan apartment building with sunlight and fresh air

August 28, 2017 by  
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This modern apartment building in Mombasa, Kenya is wrapped with a lacy structural skin that allows natural light to filter inside. Urko Sánchez Architects wrapped the building in two layers: the first acts as a barrier against excessive heat and sunlight. The second layer, comprised of handcrafted wood-lattice shutters , further manages light and provides privacy. The building occupies a narrow, sloping lot located on the waterfront of Tudor Creek, Mombasa. This privileged location offers stunning breathtaking panoramic views on the creek. In order to ensure optimal privacy, the architects designed a two-layer shell that provides natural ventilation and prevents heat gain . The facade is inspired by traditional Swahili design and redirects the tendency of local people to put bars on their windows. Related: Lace-like screen inspired by Portuguese tiles cover the rear facade of the charming Restelo House in Lisbon Vegetation is integrated in the patios and on the terraces , offering freshness and greenery. The patios allow natural ventilation via permeable wood lattices facing the water. They are accessible via lateral stairs that descend towards the creek, passing by an integrated gym at the bottom, and arriving to an infinity pool. Related: Ofis’ Colorful Lace Apartment Complex is Wrapped in a Sun-Shading Facade “The skin was rendered entirely structural thanks to the engineering team,” said the architects. “A novelty to Kenya, such structural skin was possible thanks to local and international engineers working hand by hand, and to the steel workers on-site who managed, by dedication and care, flawless bar bending work without access to any technology,” they added. + Urko Sánchez Architects Via World Architecture News Photos by Javier Callejas

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A lacy skin fills this Kenyan apartment building with sunlight and fresh air

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