Tips and tricks to make spring cleaning more eco-friendly

April 3, 2019 by  
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When the spring cleaning season comes around, many homeowners turn to their favorite cleaning products to tidy up. But not all of your go-to cleaners are good for the environment. Many products on the market feature harmful chemicals that leach into the ecosystem, causing harm to people and the environment alike. If you are looking to get into spring cleaning mode without potentially hurting your health, here is a quick guide on what chemicals to avoid and how to clean with the environment in mind. Chemicals linked to health problems Cleaning chemicals may eliminate harmful bacteria from your home, but they also can lead to serious health problems. This includes irritating eyes, skin and respiratory systems. The most obvious health issues that arise are due to skin contact with toxic chemicals that are absorbed by the body. According to AcuuWeather , harmful chemicals can also enter the air and cause respiratory problems. Individuals who clean on a daily basis are more susceptible to these issues, especially when it comes to long-term health concerns. Identify harmful chemicals There are a number of different chemicals that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deemed volatile. According to SF Gate , this includes ammonia, nitrogen and phosphorus, all of which are commonly found in household cleaning products. For example, most dishwasher detergents contain about 40 percent phosphorus, while nitrogen is a common ingredient in glass cleaner. Related: How to decode confusing labels on common household cleaners Keep chemicals out of the water Many of the chemicals you use in the spring cleaning process end up in the sewage, whether they are rinsed down the sink or flushed in the toilet. Fortunately, the majority of chemicals are filtered out in sewage plants before the water goes to rivers and lakes. That said, nitrogen, ammonia and phosphorus are not removed in treatment plants. Instead, these three chemicals usually end up in waterways, where they contaminate larger bodies of water like lakes and oceans . Once they enter freshwater environments, they can wreak havoc on aquatic life and plants. These chemicals can also contaminate water supplies if they are dumped in large concentrations. Avoid air contamination As noted earlier, harmful chemicals in household products can enter the air and cause respiratory issues. If you open windows while cleaning for better ventilation, you are simply pushing these volatile chemicals into the atmosphere. In fact, the EPA has found that cleaning chemicals contribute to pollution and smog, which is why some are restricted in select locations, such as California. Ventilating the harmful chemicals outside may be better for the indoor air quality , but it is more harmful for the environment in the long-term. Although using harmful chemicals has major side effects, there are plenty of ways you can keep your house clean without harming yourself or the environment. Use eco-friendly cleaners The best way to avoid harmful cleaning products is to look for non-toxic chemicals. These products are usually equipped with an eco-friendly or biodegradable label. You should also avoid buying products that are known to irritate skin or are flammable. Related: Truman’s wants to reduce single-use plastics in the household cleaner industry You can also make your own eco-friendly cleaning products with a few household staples. Ingredients like lemon, vinegar, baking soda and glycerine are great at combating dirt and grease. A mixture of soap and water or water and vinegar can easily remove tough stains while eliminating germs. You can also add a little baking soda for some added abrasion. Get rid of paper towels You can burn through a lot of paper towels during spring cleaning, which is not great for the environment in the long run. As an alternative, try buying reusable towels to clean. You can pick up some affordable towels at your local grocery store or cut up old T-shirts. Using old clothes will also keep waste out of the landfill. Clean up the laundry There is no denying that dryers are a big convenience of modern society. But, according to Planet Aid , you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint by hang-drying your clothes on a regular basis. Dyers consume a lot of electricity, so only using them on rainy days helps the environment and puts some money back in your pocket. Related: Get ready to use soapnuts for everything from cleaning to self care When it comes to washing, look for detergents that have an eco-friendly label. Although these cleaners used to be expensive, the costs have come down considerably, and you can usually find natural alternatives at competitive price points. You can also purchase cleaners in bulk to save even more money. Reuse household items for cleaning Instead of throwing away old clothing items or toothbrushes, use them for cleaning. Toothbrushes are great for reaching tight corners, and even an old sock can be put to work dusting. If you are really creative, you can even sew together old towels to create a makeshift mop cover. Once you are done with these items, you can either wash and reuse them or put them in the recycle bin. Images via Public Domain Pictures , Fotoblend , Pasja1000 , Alex and Stevepb

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Tips and tricks to make spring cleaning more eco-friendly

Keep your pantry stocked with these staples for a plant-based diet

March 22, 2019 by  
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Switching to a plant-based diet is a lifestyle change that requires a lot of meal prep and planning. In a world of convenient, pre-packaged food, stocking your pantry with healthy, plant-based products isn’t easy. It takes time to figure out the right pantry staples, and it takes even more time to figure out how to use those items when preparing snacks and meals. If you are new to the vegan lifestyle and are looking for some help with setting up your kitchen, here are some pantry staples that everyone needs for a plant-based diet. Legumes When you are eating a plant-based diet, you will need to find ways to get your protein . A great way to do that is from legumes. They also contain fiber, essential fatty acids and complex carbohydrates. You will find recipes from all over the world in every style of cuisine that feature beans. Not only are they incredibly filling, but they are also good for your digestive health. You can buy beans in bulk, or you can opt for canned and dry versions. Here are some legumes that should be part of your pantry: Black beans Butter beans Chickpeas Edamame Black-eyed peas Lentils Lima beans Pinto beans Soy beans Split peas Kidney beans Whole grains You want to keep plenty of minimally processed whole grains on hand, so you can get fiber, B vitamins and good, energizing carbs in your diet. Some of the best products include: Brown rice and wild rice Oats Quinoa Corn (polenta, popcorn kernels) Whole grain bread Whole grain flour Whole grain crackers Whole grain pasta If you want to really dive into plant-based cooking, other great whole grains to have in your kitchen are: Barley Amaranth Buckwheat Rye Millet Whole wheat couscous Sorghum Teff Kamut The most versatile whole grains on this list are brown rice, oats and quinoa, because you can use them in a ton of different recipes. Also, don’t skip the freezer section, because you can find microwavable and steamable whole grain products that you can prepare in just minutes if you don’t have time to cook from scratch. Seeds Seeds are great for sprinkling on salads, soups and sandwiches. Ground seeds are also a great addition to dough when you are baking or when you are making smoothies. Flax and chia seeds are full of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber and antioxidants, and hemp seeds are an excellent source of protein, fiber and multiple vitamins and minerals. The health benefits of seeds are endless, and you should always have a few kinds in your pantry. Related: Is the flexitarian diet right for you? In addition to flax, chia and hemp seeds, other seeds that are great for a plant-based diet include: Sesame seeds Sunflower seeds Pumpkin seeds Nuts When you are eating a plant-based diet, nuts will be your go-to snack option. They are loaded with healthy fats, protein and fiber; just make sure to pick nuts that are minimally processed and have zero added salt. You want to keep plenty of these nuts in your kitchen: Almonds Cashews Hazelnuts Walnuts Peanuts (technically a legume) Not only can you eat these raw for a snack, but you can also chop them up and add them to salads, cereals, batters and dough. If you want to get really creative, trying making your own nut butter. Oils and fats To make sure you absorb all of the vitamins and minerals in your plant-based foods, some believe that you need to include healthy fats. However, there is some debate about including oils and fats in a plant-based diet, and many recipes will not call for them. Extra-virgin olive oil Coconut oil Earth Balance or other buttery spread You can opt for fats from avocados, nuts, seeds and bananas if you want to keep your plant-based diet oil-free. Seasonings and condiments Load up on the seasonings and condiments, so your plant-based meals have plenty of flavor. This is an important section in the pantry, so you want to make sure your spice rack is fully loaded and your condiment shelf is stocked. Cumin Cinnamon Turmeric Paprika Oregano Thyme Apple cider vinegar Balsamic vinegar Mustard Sriracha Ketchup Barbecue sauce Vegetable stock The one thing that you want to look for when buying seasonings and condiments is salt content. You want to choose the no-salt-added or low-sodium versions. You can also grow fresh herbs at home, or visit your local health food store to get the ground and whole-seed versions of things like cumin, celery and fennel seeds. Miscellaneous Other items that you may want to have on hand include milk alternatives , like soy or almond milk, and sweeteners, like maple syrup or molasses. Nutritional yeast, cocoa powder, baking powder, vanilla extract, tomato paste and diced tomatoes are also found in many plant-based recipes, so you can’t go wrong when you have those items in your pantry. Images via Monicore , U. Leone , Conger Design , Petra , Piviso ( 1 , 2 ), Steve Buissinne  and  Westerper

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Green school in Bali shows students how to live sustainably

March 7, 2019 by  
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The goals of the Green School are anything but small, yet they are simple: take care of the local community and teach children to be stewards of our planet and leaders of sustainability in the future. The baby of John and Cynthia Hardy, the Green School was inspired after the retired couple viewed the Al Gore film The Inconvenient Truth . With four children of their own, the couple decided to make a difference and, in 2006, broke ground on a new type of school — an educational campus focused on using a holistic teaching approach and a natural canvas as classrooms. Related: Modscape installs a prefab school building that stays comfortable year-round The Green School is located on 20 acres in south central Bali, where the Hardys lived and ran a jewelry store for decades. Using local architects and materials, mainly bamboo , they spent two years constructing an open-air campus, which now houses several hundred students and teachers. In fact, the local area is becoming a community with families building green homes nearby, so their children can walk to school. Those that don’t walk board a bio-bus, fueled by oils collected at the community level and processed into biofuel locally. In addition to eliminating a reliance on fossil fuels and reducing the carbon footprint, the process of making biofuel produces glycerine as a natural by-product that is then turned into soaps to use on campus. This earth-friendly alternative to traditional palm oil-based soaps reduces the chemicals that would otherwise end up in the water system. Electricity to the school comes from solar panels and a water vortex system, which diverts water from the river that flows through campus and turns it into energy. Waste is an issue at any school, and the designers of the Green School have taken special consideration to create a closed circuit. The composting toilets produce waste that can be amended back into the adjacent soil, feeding the bamboo that grows rampant on the campus. Local Balinese woman use wood-fired stoves instead of gas and traditional cooking techniques to minimize resource usage. Food waste from feeding over 400 people each day is either fed to the school’s pigs or added to the on-site composting pile. Speaking of food, most of the meals provided are grown on campus, giving the students a full understanding of how to plant, nurture, maintain and cook vegetables and rice. The students also help raise the pigs, cows and even the buffalo that roam the campus, enclosed only by organic , natural fencing made from branches and leaves. Mostly tapioca root, the students recognize the fencing is edible for grazing animals as well as themselves. The eco-friendly design continues all the way down to where the footprints go by eliminating any pavement and the petroleum-based chemicals that come with it. Instead, all pathways are paved with hand-laid volcanic rocks. Drinking water comes from a nearby well after traveling through a reverse osmosis system to filter it. Water is used other ways on campus, too, with an aquaponics system that combines aquaculture (raising fish) with hydroponics (raising crops with little to no soil). These systems work in conjunction with each other, so the fish waste feeds the plants while the plants provide much-needed water filtration for the fish. While the goal to be sustainable and local may seem simplistic, the objective of teaching the next generation how to work with students from 25 other countries to solve problems on campus and eventually in the world means the potential for a better future for the entire planet — and that’s no small feat. + Green School Images via Green School Bali

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Green school in Bali shows students how to live sustainably

Scientists invent a solar panel that produces hydrogen

March 7, 2019 by  
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Scientists in Belgium have invented a solar panel that produces hydrogen as a source of fuel to heat homes. Using moisture in the atmosphere, the solar panel converts sunlight into hydrogen gas, producing about 250 liters of gas every day. The team of scientists, lead by Professor Johan Martens, have been developing their hydrogen solar panel for the past 10 years. When they first started, they were only able to produce small quantities of hydrogen gas, but now the gas bubbles are visible the moment they roll the panel out under the sun. Related: California approves rule to require solar panels on new houses “It’s actually a unique combination of physics and chemistry,” Martens explained. “Over an entire year, the panel produces an average of 250 liters per day, which is a world record.” According to CleanTechnica , Martens estimates that 20 solar panels could provide enough energy and electricity to heat up a home and still have some to spare for the following year. The team is still not ready to build the panels for commercial use, but they are getting ready for a trial run at a home in Flanders. If the tests are successful, the researchers are planning to expand their trials to an entire neighborhood. Being an extremely combustible gas, hydrogen can be dangerous if not handled correctly. While the general public may have some concerns about using hydrogen as a heating source, the Belgium-based scientists said it carries the same risks associated with natural gas. The hydrogen produced by the solar panels is stored in an oil tank that is installed near the home. While this technology is certainly promising — and produces zero carbon emissions — the cost of the solar panels, storage tanks and furnace, plus installation, is a big unknown. That said, the upfront cost may be high, but homeowners would pay off the system over time, especially if they no longer relied on city electricity or natural gas. There is no word yet on when the hydrogen solar panels will be available on the market, but the scientists are very optimistic about the upper limits of this technology. + KU Leuven Via CleanTechnica Image via H. Hach

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Scientists invent a solar panel that produces hydrogen

A ceramic facade blends this dome home into the Spanish coastline

March 7, 2019 by  
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Cloud 9 architect Enric Ruiz-Geli has recently unveiled a beautiful home design in the gorgeous Spanish region of Costa Brava. Located on a rustic lot of land overlooking the sea, the dome home is an experimental prototype that combines traditional building techniques with advanced digital and sustainable manufacturing . The Stgilat Aiguablava villa is a domed structure inspired by traditional Mediterranean architecture, normally marked by ceramic cladding, flowing shapes and ample natural light. For the experimental villa, Ruiz-Geli wanted to combine all of these aspects while reinterpreting the local traditional vault system, known as the Volta Catalana. Related: These beautiful desert biodomes will be 100% self-sustaining Using advanced fiberglass engineering , the structure was built with flowing vaulted volumes, adding movement and light to the design. The curvaceous arches, however, did present a challenge for the artisan ceramist Toni Cumella, who was charged with creating a ceramic cover that would allow the home to blend in with the surroundings. Similar to the exterior, the interior of the home is also marked by high arched ceilings. The living space is immersed in  natural light thanks to glazed walls that look out over the landscape to the sea. By using a modern version of the Volta Catalana, the home is energy-efficient. Natural light and air flow throughout the residence in the warm summer months, and a strong thermal envelope insulates the interior in the winter months. Also inside, a specially-designed ceramic piece was installed to to achieve strong, insulative acoustics. An experimental pavilion is separated from the main house by a swimming pool, which uses naturally filtered rainwater. Similar in style to the home, the innovative pavilion was designed in collaboration with the prestigious Art Center College of Design Pasadena. The team built this structure with an inflatable formwork injected with ecological concrete . This building method gives the structure its organic shape, that, according to the architects, was inspired by the existing pine trees that surround the complex. + Enric Ruiz-Geli Images via Cloud 9 Architects

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A ceramic facade blends this dome home into the Spanish coastline

A historical 16th-century building in Austria gets a green makeover

March 4, 2019 by  
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When architectural studio Peter Ebner and friends was tapped to design a building with two residential units in Salzburg, Austria , the firm not only had to contend with an abandoned historic property onsite but also the challenge of pushback from the local community. Although the existing 16th-century building had been neglected for years, fear of change to the building’s historic appearance sparked anxiety among the community and drove the architects to take an especially sensitive approach. The resulting renovation and expansion includes two new floors strategically stacked above the historic part of the building to echo the roofline of the medieval Hohensalzburg Fortress. The design also integrates energy-efficient technologies to dramatically reduce the building’s power consumption. Peter Ebner and friends has dubbed the adaptive reuse project “a hidden treasure” after its secluded location and its unusual design, which merges historic and modern architecture. The original building was built in the 16th century under Prince-Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Reitenau. Despite being used for a variety of purposes over the years, the building still retains the original Prince-Archbishop’s coat of arms on one of its facades. Romanesque columns from Salzburg Cathedral can also be found on the ground floor. In contrast to the ivory-colored stucco facade of the renovated historic building, the two-story contemporary addition is wrapped in a reflective metal facade that the architects compare to an “iridescent water surface.” With two owners, the residential building features a flexible interior with rooms of various sizes and shapes that can be closed off or combined depending on intended use. “[We] wanted to create a likeness of the historical city, with its alternation of squares and lanes, open and intimate spaces,” said the architects, who were inspired by the urban planning principle of diversity championed in Vincenzo Scamozzi’s treatise ‘The Ideal of Universal Architecture.’ Related: Minimalist timber home gracefully blends into the Austrian landscape Moreover, the Hidden Treasure Gestüthalle project also boasts a reduced energy footprint. Compared to similar residential buildings in Austria, the building consumes 90 percent less power thanks to green technologies , such as an underground heat pump. + Peter Ebner and friends Via ArchDaily and Elizaveta Klepanova Images by Paul Ott via Peter Ebner and friends

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Architects design gorgeous forest-enveloped home with lounge space on its green roof

March 4, 2019 by  
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Brazilian firm, MF+ Arquitetos have unveiled a beautiful wooden home design with a massive open-air lounge on its sprawling green roof. Located in a lush green forest outside of Madrid, Casa Spain is a 6,400-square-foot family home built to be a refuge in the woods. Designed to seamlessly blend into its forestscape and natural topography, the home’s heart is located on its dual-level green roof, which comes complete with a lounge area and fire pit. Although the gorgeous family abode is tucked into a forest, the home design was inspired by the homeowners’ desire to re-create a bright and airy beach home, but surrounded by greenery instead of ocean views. The result is a spectacular forest refuge that is fully integrated into its surroundings thanks to its contemporary volume and natural building materials. Related: Green-roofed home cantilevers over a remote mountainside in Argentina Using the building site’s natural environment as inspiration, the designers choose to create a organic volume made up of glass, stone, wood and concrete. Made up of two overlapping and perpendicular volumes, the home was strategically orientated to make the most out of the views. Both of the home’s levels make use of the wooden-clad eaves and panels of folding brise soleil to reduce solar heat gain and provide natural ventilation throughout the interior. The bottom level of the home sits on a small hill with an expansive stone platform that wraps around the ground floor. Large floor-to-ceiling glass panels open up to the outdoors and flood the interior with natural light . The upper level of the home is a smaller recessed volume that opens up to the roof of the bottom level, revealing a spectacular green roof that sits up high in eyeline with the dense tree canopy. With a large dining table, lounge area, fire pit and native vegetation, this outdoor terrace space is definitely at the heart of the home’s design. + MF+ Arquitetos Via World Architecture Images via MF+ Arquitetos

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Architects design gorgeous forest-enveloped home with lounge space on its green roof

Topas ecolodge aims to be a model of sustainability

February 19, 2019 by  
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From conception, the goal of the Topas Ecolodge in Vietnam has been to encapsulate sustainable practices at every turn. They also carry a heavy burden of social responsibility by focusing on providing local jobs and sourcing materials from the surrounding areas whenever possible. Nestled into a mountainous region in North Vietnam, they aim to assist the five local hill-tribes that remain largely untouched by the modern world. The vast majority of the 100 employees live in surrounding villages or are housed on campus with the supplies to grow and cook their own food . Investing in their employees, Topas offers educational and occupational training, opportunities for advancement and full medical benefits. Related: Bolivia’s Ecolodge del Lago takes inspiration from traditional Lak’a Uta architecture As stewards of the land, Topas Ecolodge also incorporates practices that help the local community as well as the environment . For example, food scraps are sent to local farms for pig feed and aluminum cans are reused by women in a local village. Thinking locally, the food served at Topas is sourced from local farmers, alongside property-raised chickens and a vegetable and herb garden behind the restaurant. Providing adequate energy in a sustainable way has been a challenge for the remote resort. Originally attempting solar energy, they found that inconsistent supply was not accommodating their needs so they switched to hydroelectricity and request that guests conserve wherever possible. Overcoming the struggles of sustainability in a remote mountain resort, Topas has implemented some innovative processes. As a solution for glass recycling , they invested in a glass-crushing machine that breaks it into sand that they then recycle into concrete for construction and maintenance. With no reliable recycling options and an understanding of the problems associated with single use plastic , they have a near zero single-use plastic policy and work to educate staff and guests about the reasons behind it. Inasmuch, they’ve become a member of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World and help promote their “Planet or Plastic?” campaign. For water filtration, the property has a man-made wetland that treats wastewater from kitchen and bath facilities before releasing it into the rice fields. The Topas Ecolodge first opened in 2005 and offers 33 chalet-style stone bungalows built using local white granite from the Hoang Lien Mountains. They’ve since opened a second, more rustic accommodation named Topas Riverside Lodge, a short distance away. + Topas Ecolodge Images via Topas Ecolodge

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Topas ecolodge aims to be a model of sustainability

6 places to find the best recycled building materials

February 19, 2019 by  
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If construction is in your future — either with a new home build or a remodel — using recycled  building materials for the project is definitely the way to go. Not only is using recycled materials good for the environment , but it is often much cheaper. Sometimes, you can even find recycled materials for free! To help you with your upcoming construction or  DIY  project, here is a list of some of the best places to find recycled items and materials. Pawn shops You can find some pretty amazing brand name power tools at your local pawn shop. So, it doesn’t hurt to stop by one near you and see what they have. You can even tell them what you are looking for and they could call you when the right item comes into the store. The most important thing to remember when you want to use recycled building materials for your construction project is to tell people — don’t keep it a secret! Write posts about what you are looking for on social media, post an online classified, talk to your friends and family, make some calls to local contractors or post a flyer around a town. You don’t know if you don’t ask. When you do, you will most likely find some pretty amazing deals that can help your construction project be eco-friendly . Habitat for Humanity Restore Outlets that accept building material donations are a gold mine, especially when you are planning a construction project. Habitat for Humanity Restore sells donated items to the general public. You can find things like furniture, appliances, building materials and housewares, and they will cost you just pennies compared to what you would find at a regular home store. If you can’t find a Habitat for Humanity Restore in your area, there are other non-profits located throughout the country that also sell recycled building materials. All it takes is a quick Google search. Related: Green-roofed home is built of waste bricks and wood in Poland Wood recycling stores There are places all over the United States where you can find recycled and reclaimed wood for things like flooring, paneling and furniture. Not only does using recycled and reclaimed wood have environmental benefits, but it can give your home character. The Building Materials Reuse Association has an online directory that you can use to find a location near you where you can find recycled and reclaimed wood for your next construction project. Scratch and dent stores If you have never heard of a scratch and dent store, they are outlets that sell items that have been damaged, refurbished, are out of the box or have been discontinued. Scratch and dent items can be a lot cheaper than retail, they sometimes have a manufacturer warranty and the damage is usually just cosmetic. However, you will be responsible for getting rid of your old appliances and installing the new ones. There is also a risk that you could buy a lemon. So, make sure that you can swap your appliance out if you end up with one that is causing problems. You can find slightly imperfect appliances at the Sears Outlet website or at one of their outlet stores. You can also buy scratch and dent furniture online at Goedeker’s. Again, a quick Google search will help you find the scratch and dent stores in your area. Tear-down sites When a contractor is tearing down a building or remodeling a residential or commercial site they usually have to get rid of a few things. This means that you can get your hands on items like building materials, cabinets, sinks and toilets, and help the contractor dispose of their waste . Contact local contractors and tell them what you are looking for, then ask if you can take a look at one of their sites. Be prepared for some resistance because there could be safety and liability concerns. But, you just might find a contractor who wants to avoid waste just as much as you do and will be more than willing to set some things aside. Freecycle and Planet Reuse This non-profit website is all about exchanging things for free . It has millions of members from around the globe and the goal is to keep things from ending up in landfills . Membership is free and you can find items like tools, tiles and wood. Related: Eco-friendly options for decluttering waste Another great online option is PlanetReuse , which is a marketplace where you can buy recycled materials from both residential and commercial buildings. They also offer a consulting service if you need help with using recycled materials for your construction or DIY projects. Not to mention, they will also make sure to stay within your budget. Also, don’t be afraid to post an online classified ad on Craigslist, in a Facebook group or your general social media network. You might just be surprised who has something you could use just hanging out in their backyard. Images via Shutterstock

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6 places to find the best recycled building materials

Damage to Joshua Tree during the government shutdown could take centuries to repair

February 1, 2019 by  
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The recent month-long government shutdown may have caused “irreparable” damage to Joshua Tree National Park, according to former superintendent Curt Sauer. During those 34 days, visitors ruined trails, cut down trees and vandalized the park, and when workers returned, they found absolute chaos. “What’s happened to our park in the last 34 days is irreparable for the next 200 to 300 years,” Sauer — who ran the park for seven years — told the Desert Sun . The shutdown reduced ranger supervision, which led to increased vandalism. Officials decided to temporarily close the park on January 8. But the next day, they managed to avoid the closure and stay open with the help of revenue from recreation fees. Related: National Parks are being trashed during the government shutdown During the shutdown, many national parks were forced to operate without rangers, and volunteers helped out by hauling trash and cleaning bathrooms. Joshua Tree national park is 1,235 square miles, and the volunteer help wasn’t enough to keep people from ignoring the extra care warnings and damaging the park. Park spokesman George Land said that some visitors had created new roads with their vehicles and destroyed some of the Joshua trees. David Smith, the current superintendent, explained that there were a dozen different instances of vehicles going off-road and into the wilderness, creating two new roads inside the park. People also cut chains and locks to access campgrounds. “We’ve never seen this level of out-of-bounds camping ,” Smith said. “Everyday use area was occupied every evening. Joshua trees were actually cut down in order to make new roads.” Many locals were not happy with the park staying open during the shutdown . John Lauretig, executive director of the non-profit group Friends of Joshua Tree, said that the parks shouldn’t be held hostage. He added that having a park open and partially staffed isn’t good for the park, the public or the local community. He also believes that if the government shuts down again, the park should close completely to prevent more damage. Via Desert Sun  and  The Guardian Image via Christopher Michel

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