Simple tips to reduce single-use plastic

December 24, 2018 by  
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In recent years, it has become more and more clear that single-use plastics are having a devastating impact on the environment  — especially on the oceans. And, if we don’t start making some changes now, it won’t be long before there is more plastic in the ocean than fish. The solution to this growing problem is relatively simple — reduce the use of single-use plastics. But, the execution of this simple idea can be a bit more challenging. If you want to make 2019 the year that you quit using single-use plastics, here is how to go about it. Food and beverages The easiest and most obvious place to start is food. Stop and think for a minute how many single-use plastics are in your refrigerator and pantry right now. Chances are you have a tub of butter, a bottle of salad dressing or a package of sliced cheese. Or maybe you have a bag of apples that you picked from the produce section at the grocery store. The truth is, the vast majority of grocery items come wrapped in single-use plastic, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other options. There are local grocers and farmer’s markets that allow you to fill reusable containers with dry goods, and you can bring reusable bags to just about any store and load them up with fruits and veggies instead of using the plastic bags they provide. Related: European parliament supports the ban of single-use plastics Also, look for items that are packaged in paper, glass or cardboard instead of plastic. You won’t be able to do this with every food item — we haven’t seen any milk in glass bottles lately. But, often, you can find the things that you normally buy in sustainable packaging . Now, let’s talk about beverages. This is a big one. How many to-go beverages do you buy in one week? From bottled water to iced coffees, millions of single-use plastic containers are tossed in the trash every single day because of what we drink. Many coffee shops will allow you to bring in your own reusable tumbler. And, instead of buying that next bottle of water, opt for a reusable bottle that you can fill up with filtered water at home. Household items When it comes to things around your house like soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, cosmetics, razors and toothbrushes, they all come in single-use plastic containers. Consider making your own soap, shampoo and laundry detergent, and replacing your plastic toothbrush with a bamboo , compostable option. Some cosmetics brands have a refill program, and razor refill companies are everywhere at the moment. The benefits of change When you start making a deliberate attempt to cut down single-use plastics, you will notice some big changes in your life. The biggest change will be that you will eat fewer amounts of processed food. More than half of the average American’s daily diet comes from processed foods, and a lot of that is in single-use plastic packaging. Not only will making this change reduce your use of plastic , but it will also result in a healthier diet. You will also find yourself saving some money. When you make your own soap and detergent and cut down on buying bottled water, you will end up saving cash in the long run.  Many coffee shops will give you a discount when you use a reusable mug, and making food from fresh ingredients instead of ordering takeout will be much easier on your pocketbook. Related: Study finds microplastics in sea turtles around the world  You will also become more organized because avoiding single-use plastic requires a plan. Adopting this lifestyle is not convenient, but when you make your own lunch for work instead of hitting a drive-thru or take a reusable bottle with you when you travel, you have to think ahead. Another bonus to cutting out single-use plastic is shopping locally. Hitting up local businesses, farmer’s markets and vintage shops will lead you to get to know the people that make the products you use, instead of buying packaged items that come from all over the world. You might consider growing your own produce in a veggie garden and experiment with fruits and veggies that are in season. Because you are focused on fresh food that isn’t wrapped in plastic, this new approach will make you more aware of the seasons and help you embrace the slow-food movement. Reducing your use of single-use plastic items takes a plan, and it takes time. It is not a convenient lifestyle, but a rewarding one. Not only will you have a new understanding of the work and resources that go into growing and harvesting your food and making the products you use everyday, but you will also reduce your waste . Via Matador Network Images via Shutterstock

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Simple tips to reduce single-use plastic

Twenty aims to dramatically reduce the waste of household products

November 28, 2018 by  
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Dubai Design Week — an annual event celebrating and promoting design and creativity — took place earlier this month, with imaginative minds from all over the world competing for the coveted Progress Prize at the Global Grad Show. This year’s winner, Twenty, sets out to cut down the environmental costs of packaging and shipping household products, like shampoos or cleaners, by offering dry capsules and reusable containers — just add water , and the items are ready for use. Considered to be the largest creative festival in the Middle East, Dubai Design Week takes place at venues throughout the city, with the central hub of the festival being in the Dubai Design District. The competition’s coveted Progress Prize celebrates the next generation of design talent while recognizing the impact of design on society and the environment . Related: How to decode confusing labels on common household cleaners This year, the competition announced Twenty — designed by Mirjam de Bruijn from the Design Academy Eindhoven in The Netherlands — as the winner of the Progress Prize for a collection of dehydrated household products designed to reduce waste and unnecessary emissions by eliminating water content. Judges chose Twenty from 150 selections that came from all over the world, which they then shortlisted to 11 finalists. Since most everyday cleaning products contain at least 80 percent water, Twenty proposes to eliminate the waste and simplify production and transportation with a capsule that you can put into a bottle, add water and then shake to create a cleaning liquid that is just as effective as a store-bought option. “I designed Twenty for people like myself who really want to be sustainable but also have busy lives and need products that are simple, economical, easy to use and fit into their lifestyle,” said de Bruijn. She added that she wants Twenty to be the new standard in household cleaning products, and she is working closely with the university to refine the product while talking to producers and retailers to adopt the perfect strategy for bringing it to market. Brendan McGetrick, the director and curator of the Global Grad Show, said that Twenty is exceptional because it is based on a smart analysis of something that we all need and take for granted. + Twenty Images via Twenty

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Twenty aims to dramatically reduce the waste of household products

Modular Cylinder House weaves its way through a forest in France

August 4, 2017 by  
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This remarkable Cylinder House designed for Lyon, France , takes modular architecture to the next level. Cyril Lancelin, French architect and founder of creative studio Town and Concrete , imagines the house as a large cluster of modular glass tubes. The building weaves in and out of existing trees, and it can be expanded without disrupting the wooded surroundings. The architects used a system of cylinder juxtaposition to allow future extensions of the house, but also meander around trees to preserve the existing state of the landscape. Cylinders were chosen for their malleability – they can be open, semi-open or closed, depending on the function and place within a larger configuration. Related: These wooden blocks can be stacked up to create cabins, treehouses, and wilderness shelters The interior spaces, delineated by differences in cylinder heights, are flexible and respond to the lifestyle of their occupants. It is an open plan , with the cylinder pieces acting as posts. There are no corridors or walls inside the structure, which makes it spatially economic and airy. Its undulating glass facade blurs the line between the inside and the outside, and offers beautiful views of the forest. + Town and Concrete Via Archdaily

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Modular Cylinder House weaves its way through a forest in France

Cover’s $50k algorithmic tiny houses are 80% more efficient than conventional homes

April 26, 2017 by  
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A California-based tech company is looking to bring tiny homes to the masses by streamlining the construction process with the help of computer algorithms. Cover has developed specialized software that creates custom-made, prefabricated tiny houses that are 80% more efficient than conventional homes – all without the help of architects, planning departments, or even contractors. Cover was founded by Alexis Rivas and Jemuel Joseph in 2014. The company seeks to give everyday people the tools to create “thoughtfully designed and well-built homes” for themselves rather than enlisting the help of costly professionals. The innovative process essentially removes the need for architects, planning departments, or even contractors by guiding users through a simple 3-step process: Design, Permit, and Build. Related: Student invents computer program to help Bedouin villages build better homes Although the idea may seem a little farfetched to some, the founders believe that this is the future of DIY home building : “We’re doing for homes what Tesla is doing for the car – using technology to optimize every step of the process, from design and sales, to permitting and manufacturing.” Cover’s process uses generative design technology and algorithms to spec out various design options based on individual needs. In the design phase of the process, which costs just $250, clients fill out a digital survey providing information about their lifestyle and design preferences such as location, style, size, etc. The company then meets with the clients onsite to discuss details. The next step is feeding all of the information into a computer program that generates multiple designs options based on the information. The program is also equipped to account for geospatial data, solar positioning , and zoning requirements. After the clients choose their design, the company develops and sends “photorealistic renderings and plans” and a full quote to the client. Currently, the company’s tiny dwellings range from $50,000 to $350,000, depending on size, location, design, etc. Once the design details are worked out, the second stage is obtaining the necessary building permits, followed by laying the foundation while the prefab structure is built in a factory. Once the permits are approved, most Cover dwellings can be completed in as little as nine weeks. Cover limits material waste by manufacturing each tiny home in a factory. Additionally, using digital technology produces more energy-efficient structures. According to founder Alexis Rivas, “We’re redesigning the details that make up a home to take advantage of the precision possible in a controlled environment. This allows us to build homes that are 80 per cent more energy efficient than the average new home.” Cover homes are currently only available in Los Angeles, but the company has plans to expand to other cities in the future. + Cover Images via Cover

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Cover’s $50k algorithmic tiny houses are 80% more efficient than conventional homes

Apple announces goal to make products from 100% recycled materials

April 26, 2017 by  
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The electronics industry is notoriously harsh on the planet. Around 60 million metric tons of e-waste end up in landfills each year, and children are sometimes put to work to mine necessary rare earth elements. Technology giant Apple aims to fix these issues in their company. They recently announced plans to use 100 percent recycled materials in all of their devices. Apple’s aims are ambitious. In addition to using only recycled materials, the company also wants 100 percent of their supply chain to run entirely on renewable energy . They want their packaging to be made of 100 percent responsibly sourced and recycled paper. And they want to stop mining the earth. Related: Apple just unveiled a blazing fast iPhone recycling robot Apple has already made progress in many areas. Their data centers are 100 percent powered by solar, wind, or hydropower. 96 percent of their worldwide facilities run on renewable energy and over 99 percent of their packaging is already made with recycled and responsibly sourced materials. But they still have a long way to go. Apple didn’t offer a specific timeline for their mining goal. “It sounds crazy, but we’re working on it,” the company writes on their website. “We’re moving toward a closed-loop supply chain.” In their 2017 Progress Report , they said they’re challenging themselves to “one day end our reliance on mining” but that will require many years. They pointed to recycling programs and their recycling robots as evidence of progress. Apple Vice President of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson told Vice , “We’re actually doing something we rarely do, which is announce a goal before we’ve completely figured out how to do it. So we’re a little nervous, but we also think it’s really important, because as a sector we believe it’s where technology should be going.” Greenpeace Senior IT Analyst Gary Cook said in a statement Apple’s goal “highlights the need for greater urgency across the sector to reduce resource consumption and e-waste that are causing significant impacts on the environment and human health …While transitioning to 100 percent recycled materials is critical to reducing the sector’s footprint, it is also fundamental for Apple and other major IT companies to design products that last, are easy to repair, and recyclable at the end of their life.” Via Apple and 9to5Mac Images via Maurizio Pesce on Flickr and screenshot

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Apple announces goal to make products from 100% recycled materials

London’s Marston Court transforms shipping containers into emergency housing for the homeless

April 26, 2017 by  
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A newly-constructed emergency h ousing development in London’s Ealing borough provides 34 temporary apartments to the needy. CargoTek teamed up with QED Property , ISO Spaces and Ealing Council to build the innovative Marston Court development out of re-purposed shipping containers, using a kit of moveable and re-usable parts for maximum flexibility. The project addresses the issue of homelessness with flexible, temporary and affordable design solutions. Marston Court is located on a disused brownfield site on Bordars Walk in Ealing. The project revitalizes vacant land by providing emergency accommodation to those in need, including young families and low-income individuals. Related: CargoTek taps shipping containers for affordable UK homes and offices The project will house up to 72 people in 34 fully furnished apartments with a management office, laundry and refuse storage. It includes a landscaped outdoor area with a playground. ISO Spaces manufactured the modular components in their production facility in Cornwall. The company’s founder Gregg Curtis said: “Homelessness is an issue that is always critical at any scale, We need to design and develop more solutions to these issues. Our focus is on providing real products to do that. And working in partnerships with organizations that can deploy those solutions at scale is critical.” + CargoTek + ISO Spaces + QED Property

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London’s Marston Court transforms shipping containers into emergency housing for the homeless

Build your own indoor garden with modular LEGO-like blocks

April 26, 2017 by  
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Humans are spending more of their lives inside, missing out on the health benefits and beauty of plants . Winmart Design from Singapore decided to bring nature indoors with LeGrow, a creative indoor garden users can design themselves with LEGO -like pieces. The gardens can be equipped with LED lights , allowing plants to thrive year-round, or with a humidifier to improve the atmosphere of interior spaces. Chinese designer Haobin Lin decided to create LeGrow after he realized his daughter, growing up in a city, might not have the nature-filled childhood he’d loved. Inspired by her favorite toys, building blocks, he came up with the sleek, clean indoor garden system. Related: 7 indoor plants that purify the air around you naturally A LeGrow system can include planter pots, Power Pots, a humidifier, and an LED grow lamp. The stackable planter pots incorporate internal water reservoirs to reduce mess. A two-bulb LED grow lamp can provide light in six-hour increments for multiple plants, with a maximum output of 50,000 lumens. A diffusing mist humidifier helps create an atmosphere conducive for growing plants indoors, an area that tends to be dry due to heating and air conditioning; but the humidity can also improve human health by reducing eye strain and softening skin. LeGrow’s Power Pots are specifically targeted towards home office use; they can power the system’s humidifier and lights but can also charge a smartphone or tablet via four USB ports. Winmart Design is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter ; with over 20 days to go they’ve already raised around $45,000 of their $30,138 goal. They offer several options, starting with one LeGrow Power Pot with an early bird price of $34 all the way up to a limited edition package with 36 standard pots, four dual-LED lamps, one humidifier, and two Power Pots for $392. You can find out more here . + Winmart Design Images courtesy of Winmart Design

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Build your own indoor garden with modular LEGO-like blocks

Ultra-narrow affordable LG House encourages open living

May 15, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Ultra-narrow affordable LG House encourages open living Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: affordable housing , canada , glass facade , green architecture , LG House , lifestyle , narrow house , natural lighting , small spaces , Sustainable Materials , Thirdstone Inc , tiny home , ultra-thin home

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Ultra-narrow affordable LG House encourages open living

Expert Says “We May Have to Migrate People out of California”

May 15, 2015 by  
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Fire , earthquakes and one of the worst droughts in recent history – these days California is not looking like the best place to settle down. In fact, things have gotten so bad that the state could run out of water in just two years . If things continue down this road, some experts think that the only solution will be to abandon the place. Read the rest of Expert Says “We May Have to Migrate People out of California” Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: california drought , California drought solutions , California groundwater , California migration , California surface water , california water , drought costs , drought solutions , exceptional drought , extreme drought , US Drought , western US drought , western water issues

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Expert Says “We May Have to Migrate People out of California”

Otto Ng’s Robotic Wallbot Walls Automatically Move to Adapt to Your Lifestyle

August 10, 2012 by  
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Wallbot mobile walls can communicate among themselves. By applying scientific research in collective intelligence to architectural design, artist and architect Otto Ng has created a kinetic wall system that pushes the housing envelope. Powered by electronic and kinetic systems , Wallbots can assume different positions within a dwelling without any interference from the inhabitants. Read the rest of Otto Ng’s Robotic Wallbot Walls Automatically Move to Adapt to Your Lifestyle Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: design prototype , interactive intelligent wall , interactive technology , kinetic architecture , mobile computing , otto ng , responsive architecture , Responsive Architecture at Daniels , self-guiding walls , wallbot wall system

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Otto Ng’s Robotic Wallbot Walls Automatically Move to Adapt to Your Lifestyle

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