Find the best eco-friendly deals for Black Friday here

November 23, 2021 by  
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Before you throw in the towel on your good intentions to shop conscientiously this season, check out these deals we’ve rounded up that are sure to get you headed in the right direction. Ella Ola If you’re looking for  plant-based  skincare for the smallest family members, you’ll find a great Black Friday deal at Ella Ola. All products are free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, oxybenzone, steroids, synthetic fragrances, PEGs, dyes, formaldehyde releasers and propylene glycol. Enter code SALE20 at checkout. It will be active from Nov. 26-29. Related: 9 tips for eco-friendly Black Friday, Cyber Monday shopping Allyoos For hair care stocking stuffers, look to this plant-based brand at a discount. Enter code LOVEMYHAIR25 on the Allyoos website for 25% off your entire order now through Nov. 26. Shop Allyoos Shampoo and Conditioner on Amazon Little Spoon It’s the season of special treats in the  food  and drink department, so include the babies and toddlers in the occasion with organic, non-GMO baby food and healthy finger foods for toddlers. Use code BLACKFRIDAY4LIFE to get 50% off your first box of Babyblends or Plates plus free meals in every order for life. Promo ends Nov. 29. Dropps This is one of our favorite laundry and dishwasher pod brands. They offer a variety of scents and an ever-expanding line of products. Plus, the company has entertaining advertising. They don’t take themselves too seriously, but they do put a critical eye on protecting the  environment . Use code BF2021 at checkout for a 30% discount on the Dropps website. Ends Nov. 28.  Shops Dropps Laundry Detergent Pods on Amazon Pact As far as organic clothing goes, Pact is one of the most affordable brands out there. It offers a breadth of clothing options from bras to leggings to tees and hoodies. Grab a discount from Nov. 22-29 with deals like all bedding 30% off, all bath 40% off, men’s and women’s socks at 50% off, men’s sleepwear 25% off, and goods for baby and kids starting at 30% off. Soothi Journals Each journal is made from repurposed leather and tree-free paper, for an eco-friendly gift-giving option that can be personalized with your choice of saying on the front. Soothi gives back to the planet by planting one tree for each sale. Plus, they’ve got some good deals going. Use code CELEBRATE to take 25% off your entire order. Or buy one and get one 40% off with code 1FORME1FORYOU. A third option is to buy two journals and receive a free tote bag with code GIFTME. Check out the site for more! Shop Soothi Journals on Amazon Essentia Mattresses If you’ve been in the market for a new mattress and have scouted out environmentally-friendly brands, you may have run across Essentia, the first natural memory foam mattress on the market. For Black Friday, it’s offering 25% off the entire store, including organic mattresses, organic pillows, foundations, kid’s items, pet beds and more. With the purchase of a Lifestyle, Performance, or Wholebody Recovery mattress, you’ll also receive two free organic pillows ($300 Value). Essentia offers free shipping, a 120-Night mattress sleep trial, and a 20-year mattress warranty. Sale ends Nov. 28. Novica Novica is a marketplace that brings together producers and buyers around the globe. All products support the mission to celebrate individual artisans making hand-crafted items. There’s a vast range of options from housewares to fashion to jewelry. Use code SAVE10 for $10 off $50 or code SAVE15 for $15 off $100. Code SAVE25 takes $25 off $150. All codes are valid Nov. 22-27. Mightly Organic kids clothing brand Mightly is fair trade certified and offering a discount on those picture-perfect Christmas morning pajamas. Use code PJBOGO for buy one get one half off all pajamas on Black Friday (Nov. 26) and Cyber Monday (Nov. 29). Shop Mightly on Amazon EarthHero This is where the planet’s superheroes shop for gifts. Each item offers details of the sustainability aspects. Every product is so carefully curated, EarthHero is calling it Green Friday instead of Black Friday. Find books, bags, cookware, clothing,  plastic alternatives, cleaning products, camping supplies and countless other items. Get shopping with code BF2021 for 20% off sitewide. Five trees will be planted for each order. Code is valid Nov. 15 through Dec. 1. United by Blue With sustainable practices at its core, United by Blue has earned B-Corp certification. Choose innovative, recycled, eco-friendly and  natural materials  like BisonShield™, SoftHemp™, EcoKnit™, (R)evolution™ and EcoDry™. The company manufactures all types of clothing for men and women, including accessories and shoes. There is also an assortment of household items, from books to candles to rugs and more. Discounts have already begun with 20% off regular-priced items sitewide through Nov. 29 (no code needed). From Nov. 24 through Dec. 5, take an additional 50% off sale items with code TGIF. Shop United by Blue on Amazon Xtrema Choose from all sizes, shapes and styles of 100% ceramic, non-toxic cookware . If you’re ready to invest, Black Friday (Nov. 25-28) is a good time to do it. Take 25% off everything, and they’ll throw in free shipping for orders over $75. Made Trade It’s all about fair trade at Made Trade. All products on the online marketplace are sustainably and ethically made. This women-owned business is both Carbon Neutral Certified and a member of 1% For The Planet. You can use the filter to scout out products made from  recycled materials  and scan for information regarding the types of owners, whether it’s fair trade, and more. You choose whether to take a discount or give back your savings. Take 10% off your order with code GET10, or give 10% with code GIVE10. Donations go to The Giving Grove, a nonprofit that plants urban orchards to provide food-insecure communities access to fresh, nutritious food. Codes are valid Nov. 26-29.  Via Conscious Life and Style , Mindful Momma   Lead image via Pexels  Images via Ella Ola, Dropps, Soothi, Mightly, and Xtrema When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commissions at no cost to you.

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Find the best eco-friendly deals for Black Friday here

Celebrate Native American heritage sustainability practices

November 3, 2021 by  
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Looking over the history of the planet and humanity, the vast majority of human environmental damage has been in the past century. As the population continues to grow and we struggle to agree on the most effective actions to take, perhaps we should be looking deep into the practices of one of the land’s first caretakers in order to understand what sustainability truly looks like.  Reports by notable researchers like those at the United Nations, the World Wildlife Federation, British Columbia University and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) shed light on the situation, showing an average two-thirds of global populations of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish have been lost since 1970. The same reports show, however, that lands managed by Indigenous people suffered significantly less impact and, in some cases, no impact at all. That’s a massive variation between astounding loss of animals and conservation of the entire ecosystem in a balance that benefits every living creature. Related: 12 sustainable, Indigenous-owned brands to support  The largest diversity and health of wildlife was overwhelmingly found in native-managed lands, specifically those studied in Australia , Canada and Brazil. The success in those regions comes from a variety of approaches rather than a single, overarching policy. Indigenous people share a connection with each other, the animals and the land. They understand it’s a delicate system that is all interdependent. Through their natural interaction with their surroundings, Indigenous populations have been a reliable source of information about where the trouble spots are, especially in regions like the Arctic and the Amazon where their eyes-on-the-ground are essential to the survival of the environment .  In their role as land stewards, they not only witness land degradation and notable decline in specific wildlife species, but they adapt their lifestyle to cater to those deficiencies. With this extensive knowledge handed down through the generations, Indigenous people are an essential resource in the battle against human-caused climate issues. For example, Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest have contributed to the protection and management of salmon. Knowledge of ethnobotany can, and has, influenced decisions about native plant species and forest management throughout several continents and crop development. For all of these reasons, leadership groups are calling for help from Indigenous communities around the globe to act as consultants for areas in need of their deeply-entrenched knowledge. Science has its limits in understanding how to best manage resources. It lacks historical information in the most extreme locations of the planet. These are the same locations Indigenous people have managed the land and sourced food for generations. It also fails to see connections between the deterioration of the land and the erosion of traditional land management by native people. The research bringing this connection to light puts a new emphasis on embracing what’s old as new again in the fight for the environment.  Yuria Celidwen, Ph.D. explained it in terms of native language , citing there are around 7,000 spoken languages in the world and that more than half of them are Indigenous languages. However, the language is being lost, with around 3,500 of those languages being spoken by less than 1,000 people. She said, “every two weeks, a language is lost.” This loss is mirrored in the erosion of other cultural aspects, such as land stewardship. She says that Indigenous people occupy around 20% of the world’s land area, yet protect an estimated 80% of the remaining forest biodiversity . That means not only do we need to spread their knowledge across the planet, but we need to protect the Indigenous lifestyle. In short, we need to help them so they can help us all. “We can clearly see what interdependence truly means ,” Celidwen said. In witnessing how Native groups interact with the land , it’s obvious the central focus shifted somewhere along the way from a belief the land will provide for us if we care for it, to thinking we can control the land to provide for our needs. In other words, we need to adopt a “planet first” attitude instead of a “human first” mindset. In the end, supporting the environment benefits us all. Shifting that focus to an emphasis on healthy ecosystems rewards us with prolific plant and animal life, rich soil, limited waste , clean and ample water and a natural cycle that meets the needs of all the planet’s inhabitants.  Every field that is turned into a parking lot or mall, the stripping of natural resources, the continued heavy reliance on fossil fuels, pollution of air and water, waste piling up beyond the boundaries of the landfills, overfishing, endangered coral and other marine life, degrading soil into dirt and countless other actions show we’re in a human first mentality that if not reversed, will put humans last. But the original stewards of the land can show us the change, if we’re willing. Native American Heritage Month is the perfect time to start before it’s too late.  Via Euro News , Mind Body Green , Scientific American Lead image via Pexels

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Wild & Stone products are all plastic-free

October 21, 2021 by  
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Plastic waste is junking up the ocean. Many companies and individuals are finding ways to help reduce the levels of waste by creating brand new products out of recycled plastic waste. Meanwhile, more and more waste is being created every day. Wild & Stone is working on a more permanent solution: replacing single-use plastic altogether. Wild & Stone’s catalog of items contains a selection of personal care and baby items, all of which are sustainably produced, ethically sourced and CO2 neutral. The company has sold more than 100,000 products. Related: The Refill Shoppe enforces zero-waste packaging, provides bulk refill solutions for myriad household and beauty products There are more than 80 different products available through Wild & Stone. The company plans to introduce 30 new products to the line in the near future. Currently, the product line includes: shaving razors, metal straws in various sizes, toothbrushes, a reusable coffee cup and more. Yes, it’s all plastic-free. To really address the plastic waste problem that’s causing such big environmental issues, the plastic has to be removed out of the equation. New products made in different materials are the best way to fill the market with alternatives to plastic that can help reduce the amount of waste created and subsequently swept into the oceans . Plastic has become a huge part of everyday life. You’ve probably touched at least five items made of plastic this very day. It’s everywhere. Plastics are typically made from oil , which is bad enough, but the real problem is that it does not biodegrade. Little pieces of plastic will continue to litter the planet for many, many centuries into the future, even if plastic production completely grinds to a halt tomorrow. Around 400 million tons of plastic are created every year, about 40% of which is single-use plastic that is thrown away, according to BBC . A lot of plastics can’t be recycled and a lot of this trash created by plastic ends up in oceans. By 2050, all the plastic in the ocean will weigh more than every single fish in the ocean. Animals such as turtles and seabirds get caught in plastic or attempt to eat it. Plastic kills 100,000 sea animals every year. The cost of plastic is steep. Companies like Wild & Stone are taking steps to start evening out that debt . “It feels incredible to know we’ve left this world a little bit better off than before, but there is so much more work to be done,” said Wild & Stone Founder Kathryn Jonas. + Wild & Stone Images via Wild & Stone

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Wild & Stone products are all plastic-free

Siempre Eco is the new wallet-friendly sustainability brand

October 11, 2021 by  
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One of the main barriers many individuals face when choosing to live more sustainably is the cost of environmentally friendly products. Compared to disposable, single-use plastic products, items made from materials like bamboo or organic cotton are often more expensive as they factor in costs of materials, ethical labor and production. Started by Rabia Dhanani, Siempre Eco is a lifestyle startup committed to providing affordable eco-friendly alternatives for everyday items. Upon graduating amid the instability of the pandemic, Dhanani found herself with a lot of spare time. To save some money and keep herself busy, she set out on a mission to try making beeswax wraps, an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic wrap that her family had begun using at home. Beeswax wraps are made from organic cotton sheets with a coating of beeswax, pine resin and jojoba oil. These waxy sheets create an antibacterial layer to keep food fresh for up to two weeks and have a year-long shelf life. However, they can be relatively expensive and often cost upwards of $10 apiece. Related: This long-standing natural soap company started by accident After a few weeks of experimenting with different materials and spending over $400 of her savings, Dhanani’s beeswax wrap trials finally yielded some positive results. She decided to continue this venture and sell the wraps to family and friends as a summer project. As the project gained momentum, Dhanani realized that she could create a meaningful impact on people’s daily lives while keeping her costs and carbon footprint minimal. Siempre Eco aims to provide people with sustainable and affordable alternatives for daily use and self-care items. Since the company values impact over profit, the profit margin is a little lower than that of competitors. In doing so, prices remain consistent, encouraging customers to switch to sustainable alternatives, as they can afford to use them in the long run. Over the past year, Siempre Eco has expanded its collection of products that range from lifestyle to kitchen items, all of which use locally sourced materials and/or ethical manufacturing. The products can now be found in over 40 retail stores in Canada, and the website offers worldwide shipping. The most popular products, besides beeswax wraps, include bamboo straws, shower fizzies and reusable wool dryer balls. Approximately 98% of Siempre Eco’s packaging is recyclable, reusable or biodegradable . A lot of the materials are paper-based and use recycled paper and/or cardboard, including recycled paper boxes, wrapping paper and box filling. Other forms of environmentally-friendly packaging include reusable glass jars, rice paper packaging and even corn mailers, which can be composted after receiving a package. In the near future, Siempre Eco looks forward to preparing curated boxes of products and partnering with other small sustainable businesses to create exciting theme-based bundles. The company is also in discussions with a massive North American retailer to bring the product range to over 400 stores. + Siempre Eco Images courtesy of Siempre Ec o

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Siempre Eco is the new wallet-friendly sustainability brand

Best vegan Halloween cocktails for any pumpkin bash

October 8, 2021 by  
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It’s that haunted time of year again. Whether you’re hosting a boo-tiful event (see what we did there?) or are simply looking to challenge yourself in the mixology realm, don’t be spooked by coming up with ghoulish drinks to serve.  The Display Start by setting the chilling mood with the right decorations that also double as ingredients. While creating displays for the table, windows and front door, why not add some haunting messages to the bar? You can create bottle labels at home, order online or pick up at a craft supply store. These fun labels stick right over the existing bottle label, turning your rum into “poison” and your sparkling water into “elixir.”  Related: This distillery helps you make delicious, carbon-negative cocktails Ingredients and Supplies When selecting ingredients for hot or cold drinks, keep your vegan guests in mind by skipping cream-based liqueurs. Most distilled spirit is naturally vegan. Use fruit and vegetable juices and tonic or sparkling water as mixers. Fresh is best, so get the juicer out to squeeze grapefruit, limes, and oranges . You can also pick up bottle pomegranate and cranberry juices at the store. If you want a creamy result, source some coconut or almond milk. When a sweet touch is needed, rely on plant-based agave, a simple syrup made from unprocessed sugar or other sweetener of choice.  For the best presentation, keep a lookout for skull-shaped glasses and an ice mold that forms skulls , skeletons, brains, or ghosts. Test tubes make another delightfully creepy shot-sized serving vessel. Hopped Daiquiri This one comes to us from our friends at Greenbar Distillery who produce USDA-certified organic spirits and a concoction that will fit the mood of the season from the first falling leaf through Thanksgiving dinner. See the Hopped Daiquiri recipe here .  Hot Toddy The hot toddy is more of a technique than a specific recipe. It’s traditionally defined as a combination of hot water , liquor, a sweetener, herbs and spices. Most commonly, hot toddies are made using bourbon, brandy or whiskey, but dark rum is another good choice .  1 cup hot water 1.5 ounces dark liquor .5 ounces fresh lemon juice 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of honey, to taste You can spice it up with a cinnamon stick , cardamom or star anise if you like.  Prickly Apparition Grab the shaker for a pretty spooky cocktail that includes prickly pear. The flavor can be found in brandy, gin and vodka .  1 ounces prickly pear liqueur 1 ounces vodka (you can use .5 ounces vodka and .5 ounces Triple Sec) 2 ounces fresh-squeezed lemon juice 1 ounces agave or sugar simple Put all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice and shake until it is too cold to hold. Run a lemon rind around the ring of a cocktail glass and dip it in extra fine sugar. Then strain the apparition into the glass. Spooky Halloween Blackberry Grape Punch This versatile recipe can be served to the kids or the adults. In essence, it’s nothing more than fruit and club soda, but the technique makes a beautiful and flavorful drink for everyone to enjoy. For adults, use a different type of glass and add one shot of vodka or white rum. Find the recipe from At the Corner of Happy and Harried here . Pomegranate Ghost Pomegranate juice can be combined with a variety of flavors for a tasty treat. Here’s a simple and quick drink to shake up: 1 ounces lemon vodka .5 ounces triple sec 2 ounces pomegranate juice .5 to 1 ounces simple, depending on taste Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a martini glass. Warm Cranberry Cider There’s nothing cozier than slippers, a warm blanket and a hot beverage in your hands. Of course, you can go with traditional hot cocoa or a cup of herbal tea, but there’s something about cider that is distinctively fall. Buy fresh-pressed apple cider at the farmer’s market or pick up a jug at the store. At home , warm it with your favorite spices such as nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon. Stir cranberry juice into the mix. Use a combination of ¾ cup of cranberry juice for each one cup of apple cider. For garnish, drop a few cranberries into the hot mug and include a cinnamon stick for aroma and flair. Add one shot of white rum, brandy or vodka if desired. Poison Apple Remember: autumn is about more than gourds and pumpkins. It’s also apple season. Bring the flavor home with this recipe from the DIY Network . Ghastly Margarita For this spin on a classic, make your own infused simple sugar by boiling peppers into the simple syrup. Slice two jalapeno peppers into rings or in half down the middle. Include the seeds for the best flavor. Combine one cup of turbinado, demerara or other unprocessed sugar with ½ cup of water and bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the peppers and lightly simmer for around five minutes. Turn off the heat and let the mixture steep until cool. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and put into a bottle.  1 ounces fresh lime juice 1 ounces Triple Sec .5 to 1 ounces jalapeno simple, depending on taste 2 ounces tequila Mix all ingredients in a shaker. Rim the glass with a turmeric sugar mixture for some extra zest. Shake well and pour over ice. Images via Pexels

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Mini greenhouse grows endless possibilities

October 8, 2021 by  
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Have you ever wanted your own greenhouse ? Maybe you’ve thought about growing an exotic plant like a delicate bonsai or a breathtaking orchid. And maybe you’ve learned that having a greenhouse to grow exotic plants in is a lot of work. Until now. Meet the Plantee, a plug-and-play greenhouse that makes it easy for you to grow even the most exotic plants at home. Put it on a counter and start growing something inside your home. The gadget will control the light, watering, air temperature , airflow and soil moisture to keep your plant healthy and beautiful. It truly does all of the work. Meanwhile, you can check the display and the step-by-step growing guide to look at the real-time data monitoring to see how your plant is doing. Related: Technicolor greenhouse in Tokyo puts on a pulsating light show when plants are touched The Plantee is designed with recyclable anodized aluminum and hardened PMMA glass. All materials used to make Plantee are non-toxic and recyclable. Packaging is also optimized to be small, but durable to create a small carbon footprint. It is made of all paper-based and covered in single-color water-soluble ink. Any type of soil , fertilizer and materials you want to use to grow your plants can be put in the Plantee. This mini greenhouse measures 50 by 45 by 60 centimeters (1’8″ x 1’6″ x 2′). Use it to grow anything you want. All you have to do is enter a new plant profile into the system and the greenhouse will help you grow it. The sensors will detect soil moisture and the internal water pump will water the plant as needed. Meanwhile, the smart intensity technology adjusts the lighting based on what the plant needs. Use the adjustable hose to put the water flow right where you want it. The internal water tank holds enough water to last for weeks. You’ll be notified when it needs a refill. Add an external water tank and your plant will have water for months. Even the temperature and airflow are regulated and monitored. The Plantee can create a tropical environment , if needed, so you can grow a huge variety of plants that were off-limits before. There’s an internal growing volume of 18 gallons, enough room for many types of plants. The plant isn’t trapped in there, either. The Plantee is built for easy access, all you have to do is lift the cover. You can grow: dwarf tomatoes, baby carrots, mini pumpkins , chili peppers, strawberries, herbs , succulents and hothouse flowers. When the greenhouse does all the work, it’s easy. Plantee launched on Kickstarter with a set funding goal, which exceeded within hours of its appearance on the funding website. Plantee’s development plans are going full speed ahead. Soon, this mini greenhouse will be ready to live in your house. + Plantee Innovations Photography by Charlie Jilek

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Mini greenhouse grows endless possibilities

1903 New York house gets an eco-friendly makeover

October 7, 2021 by  
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Although originally built in 1903, the home at 45-12 11th Street in Queens, New York now stands as an example of modern sustainable housing . Known as the Climate Change Row House, its renovation was completed in 2014 by owner and architect Thomas Paino. It is currently on the market with an asking price of $3.6 million. Paino spent three years on the comprehensive rebuild in an effort to meet environmental standards that counter the impact of climate change. As a result, Climate Change Row House meets energy-efficient passive house specifications.  Related: Nation’s first triple net-zero housing development to rise in New York The reconstruction started from the ground up, lifting the entire house 3.5 feet to raise it above the floodplain. Although only 19.5 feet wide, the home features a three-bedroom unit with an additional two-bedroom apartment on a different level. Throughout the space, large windows bring in natural light and the interior design elements add to the bright, open feel. A kitchen is positioned with two exterior accesses for cross ventilation and the dining room extends outdoors with a south-facing terrace.  A solarium on the top floor provides space for gathering, relaxing or growing plants. While the backyard garden is irrigated with the use of a rainwater collection system. Coupled with the green roof and 13 large planters placed on the terraces, a multi-season urban garden is supported. The green spaces not only naturally capture carbon for cleaner air, but also provide bird habitat. To date, 60 species of visiting birds have been identified. The entire house is equipped with a hospital-grade passive air exchange system for fresh air. The water is solar-heated for energy and cost savings. Additional savings and sound insulation is offered through the triple-paned windows. All of this combines to offer a healthy and quiet indoor living space with adjacent outdoor enjoyment.   + The Corcoran Group Images via Jesse Winter Photographer for Corcoran and Lifestyle Production Group for Corcoran

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1903 New York house gets an eco-friendly makeover

Take a trip to explore natural beauty on the San Juan Islands

September 24, 2021 by  
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As I pick my way between the crazily-shaped logs, to the water of South Beach on San Juan Island, it’s a driftwood lover’s dream come true. Some pieces are propped up to make primitive shelters. I’m here to run a half marathon and see some fellow runners huddled inside these shelters, appreciating the windbreak as we watch gentle gray waves and await our start time. Only an hour off the Washington coast by ferry , the crowds and tall buildings of Seattle seem very far away. Related: Green-roofed vacation home embraces old-growth trees in the San Juan Islands The San Juan Islands include 172 named islands and reefs. But only a handful are well known, even in Washington, and only a few are served by ferry. I recently spent a September weekend exploring San Juan Island on the hunt for nature experiences and a look at island culture. Outdoor adventures My friend and I drove up from Portland and took the ferry from Anacortes to San Juan Island on a Friday morning. Since the road around the island is only 41 miles, we figured we’d have plenty of time to see everything. However, once we started dilly-dallying on island time, the hours evaporated. We started by driving up to Roche Harbor at the north end of the island, where we visited the San Juan Island Sculpture Park . The park covers 20 acres and displays more than 150 works of art , many made from recycled materials like sheep crafted out of old fishing nets. The garden area around the entrance is more manicured, with sculptures surrounded by plantings. But our favorite part was the Whimsey Woods, a forested trail full of art surprises like garlands of old LPs strung between trees, or a strange little outdoor living room with colorful, broken-bottomed chairs arranged around a creepy monkey jack-in-the-box. The park displays an ever-changing collection of work. If you’re an artist, you can find out about submissions here . Visiting a mausoleum is not everybody’s idea of a good time, but Afterglow Vista draws an impressive number of tourists. This mausoleum is the final resting place of John S. McMillin and his family , who monopolized the limestone trade on the west coast in the late 20th century. The huge round structure features seven columns (one broken, to represent life cut short) with a limestone table surrounded by six stone and concrete chairs. The ashes of the family are in the base of those chairs. McMillin was a Mason and the huge structure reflects Masonic symbolism as well as that of various spiritual and architectural traditions. While we didn’t manage to work whale watching into our trip, it’s one of the reasons I most want to return to the San Juan Islands. The Southern Resident Killer Whales who frequent the waters of the islands include three pods: J, K and L. They follow salmon and are most often seen in the summer months. The best ways to view them are from land, on a whale watching cruise or in a kayak. Or you can do like we did and visit the excellent Whale Museum on a rainy afternoon. If you do venture out by boat or kayak, follow these Whale Wise guidelines so you don’t harm or disturb the orcas and other local whales. Lime Kiln Point State Park on the west end of San Juan Island is considered one of the world’s best whale watching spots. Biking , hiking and running are other good ways to get outside and see the island. San Juan Island has both forested and beachy trails. Biking is very popular. Some people bring bikes on the ferry and get around on two wheels. But watch for cars—the roads are narrow and some have little in the way of shoulders. I participated in Orca Running’s annual San Juan Island Half Marathon, which is a fun way to check out the scenery with running support like periodic electrolytes, gels and portable toilets. Visit the lavender farm If you like the smell of lavender , stop at Pelindaba Lavender Farm. When we visited in September, the flowers in the organically certified fields had turned an inky purplish charcoal, rather than the typical purple. Turns out, that’s the time to harvest lavender for its oil. Culinary harvesting happens earlier. We got a lavender education and saw the distilling process in action.  The grounds are open for picnicking and wandering. Pelindaba’s website lists an impressive number of ways the public are invited to use the space free of charge, no reservation necessary: book club meetings, vow renewals, elopements, photo shoots and yoga in the fields. But I found it impossible to leave without a sack full of lavender souvenirs—salve, lip balm, essential oil, dark chocolate lavender sauce, to name a few—as well as, consuming a cup of lavender/lemon sorbet on the premises. Dining out Mike’s Café & Wine Bar is a phenomenal restaurant with a sleek, modern look and an all- plant-based menu. It’s a happening place on a weekend night and draws way more than just the vegan crowd. Locals stop in for Northwest beer and wine. Visitors like me are thrilled to see a big menu of tacos, interesting salads, sandwiches, bowls and fancy hors d’oeuvres. Since the islands are known for seafood, I was drawn to the crabby tacos made with vegan crabby cakes. We also got an appetizer of heirloom tomatoes with plant-based mozzarella and some delicious shishito peppers. The Cask & Schooner Public House also has several clearly marked vegan items, including an eggplant and red pepper spread sandwich, and a chickpea and leek saute. For coffee, we got hooked on the Salty Fox, which is in a big white Victorian house. Not only was the coffee good, but it’s perfectly situated on the harbor to watch the ferries and other boats come and go. Getting around We took our car on the ferry and then drove around the island, as many visitors do. But there are much more eco-conscious ways to go. You can leave a car in Anacortes and walk onto the ferry. Or take Amtrak to Mount Vernon, Washington, then get to Anacortes by Uber or public bus . Once you arrive on San Juan Island, you can get around by shuttle bus, or rent a bike, e-bike, scooter or electric car. Be sure to reserve your ferry passage ahead of time, especially if you’re bringing a car during the high season of June through September. Amy Nesler, stewardship and communications manager for the San Juan Islands Visitor Bureau , would like to see more visitors arrive car-free. Her ideal visitor “patronizes local shops, restaurants and tour operators, while being patient, kind and appreciative of service workers. They respect traffic etiquette, stay on marked trails, leave campsites/picnic areas better than they found them and maintain a respectful distance from wildlife , whether on land or sea.”  Where to stay Islanders are conscious of their island ecosystem, so many hotels have green initiatives. One of the best is the Island Inn at 123 West in Friday Harbor, the main town on San Juan Island.  Once the site of a fuel and storage facility for the local fishing fleet, cannery and ferry, the hotel is now Silver LEED certified. They reuse rainwater, supply extremely lightweight towels and sheets to save on laundry energy and stock refillable bath amenity dispensers to cut down on waste. Plus, they feature a custom blend by San Juan Coffee Roasting Company packed in recyclable materials. If you venture over to Orcas Island, the Pebble Cove Inn & Animal Sanctuary will serve you vegan food and prepare your room using cruelty free, natural cleaning products. You can meet adorable rescue animals like Dolly the mini horse and the Dread Captain Redbeard, a turkey who escaped the brutal American Thanksgiving tradition. Doe Bay Resort & Retreat , also on Orcas Island, offers yoga, massage and outdoor hot tubs. Doe Bay has a long history of being an alternative to the mainstream, from the time a mixed-race couple raised their family on 175 acres in the 1870s to hippie types discovering it in the 1960s and beyond. Photography by Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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Take a trip to explore natural beauty on the San Juan Islands

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

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