These sustainable tiny cabins offer a serene escape in nature just 2 hours from NYC

March 12, 2019 by  
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For anyone looking to find some serenity surrounded by incredible nature, Gather Greene is waiting for you. Located just two hours outside of NYC in beautiful Hudson Valley, Gather Greene is a glamping retreat featuring 17 minimalist cabins. Designed by Lushna , the tiny cabins with gabled roofs and large glazed “picture walls” were designed to let guests immerse themselves in the idyllic surroundings. The distinctive wooden eco-cabins are part of Lushna’s Petite Reflect collection. Located deep in a serene forestscape, the triangular tiny cabins are spaced far apart to provide ultimate privacy. To make the most out of the nature-based escape, the glamping structures feature a gabled roof with a large front wall that is entirely glazed from top to bottom. The glass wall behind the bed was a strategic part of the design, enabling guests to enjoy their natural surroundings from the moment they wake up until they shut their eyes at night. Additionally, a mirror is mounted on the foot end of the bed, so that guests don’t have to strain their necks to enjoy the amazing views. Related: Gorgeous “glamping” eco-cabins help you reconnect with nature in luxury Although quite compact, the glamping cabins are equipped with all of the basic amenities to create a luxurious stay in nature. The cabins feature a space-saving interior design that provides maximum functionality with minimal space. For example, the interior includes a “smart box concept” that features a dinette, kitchenette and closet, all of which can be concealed into the walls. The tiny cabins , which sleep up to two guests, have fully-equipped bathrooms with stand-up showers. To completely immerse yourself into the location, the structures also have open-air decks that offer the perfect spot for dining al fresco or stargazing at night. + Lushna Via DesignMilk Photography by Kelsey Ann Rose via Lushna Glamping

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These sustainable tiny cabins offer a serene escape in nature just 2 hours from NYC

Polar bears invade small island in northern Russia, causing an emergency warning

February 12, 2019 by  
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Islands in northern Russia faced a crisis last weekend after a group of polar bears invaded the region. Officials in Novaya Zemlya issued an emergency warning for the small town of Belushya Guba, leaving residents scared to venture outside of their homes. Photos of polar bears invading garbage heaps surfaced over the weekend, while school officials say they have spotted the animals near buildings and homes in the area. Authorities claim they have seen polar bears enter the town in the past but have never experienced anything of this scale. Related: Polar bears could go extinct sooner than scientists previously thought “I have been in Novaya Zemlya since 1983, but there has never been so many polar bears in the vicinity,” Zhigansha Musin, an administrative leader in the town, explained. According to EcoWatch , Russia has placed polar bears on the endangered species list, which means killing them is not an option. Officials are currently using non-lethal methods to try to remove the bears, but if they are unsuccessful, then culling them will be explored. Unfortunately, the bears have not responded to any attempts to scare them off the island. The polar bear invasion started back in December. Since then, officials have counted more than 52 bears in the region. Local officials also say that the bears are becoming more aggressive toward residents, and a few have entered homes and businesses. Locals are scared to venture outside of their homes out of fear of an attack. It is sad to hear that residents are fearful of their own safety. It is also unfortunate that these polar bears could be killed if the situation continues to escalate. But the underlying issue at hand is the growing problem of climate change and the affects global warming is having on the polar ice cap. As temperatures continue to rise all around the globe, the Arctic is experiencing double the rate of melting than any other location on Earth. The melting of permafrost and the polar cap is driving polar bears out of the region, forcing them to invade human settlements out of a basic need for survival. Via EcoWatch Image via Unsplash

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Polar bears invade small island in northern Russia, causing an emergency warning

6 tips to reduce your foodprint while dining out

November 1, 2018 by  
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When you eat at home, it is relatively easy to make choices that will lower your ‘foodprint,’ because you are in charge of the shopping, preparation and disposal of all the food. But when you eat out at a restaurant or grab takeout, it is much more difficult to eat sustainably. To make it a little bit easier, we have put together six tips to help you eat green while dining out or grabbing something to go. Ask questions Ask your server about the restaurant’s sources. What farms do they buy from? Is this dish in season? If the server doesn’t know, they can ask the manager or the chef. If the restaurant has a philosophy of incorporating seasonality into the menu, the workers will be more than happy to share the food’s origins, and the menu items will change with the seasons. Do your research to know what is in season where you live and what local restaurants embrace seasonality. When you are looking over a restaurant menu, also keep in mind your location and what is in season locally. If you are in a landlocked area, ordering ocean fish isn’t smart, because it certainly isn’t local. If you live in Missouri and it’s the middle of winter, tomatoes are not in season. Get a box American restaurants are famous for the extra-large portions of food that they pile up on plates, making it nearly impossible to finish the meal in one sitting. According to Sustainable America , the average restaurant meal is eight times larger than the standard USDA and FDA serving sizes, and 55 percent of leftover restaurant food doesn’t get taken home. Related: 5 simple ways to reduce your food waste right now Big meals mean even bigger waste. Instead of leaving behind food and letting it go straight to the trash, ask for a box. It will help cut down the food waste, and it gives you an instant lunch for the next day. If you don’t want to take leftovers home, consider splitting a large appetizer or entree with your dining partner. Choose farm-to-table Farm-to-table is one of the most popular buzzwords of the moment, and many restaurants have been more than willing to capitalize on the trend. More chefs have started to incorporate local and seasonal items on their menus, and some restaurants have even started growing their own food. Eating at a restaurant that locally sources its ingredients results in a major downsize of your foodprint, because there is no need to ship the ingredients across the country. Just make sure that the restaurant is truly farm-to-table — that’s when asking the right questions becomes important. Just say no If you don’t want that basket of rolls or chips they automatically put on the table, just say no. Tell your server not to bring it, so it isn’t wasted. The same thing goes for items on your entree. If you don’t want onions on your burger, tell your server to leave them off it. If you don’t want that side of coleslaw, ask for a substitution or tell them to skip it completely. Watch buffet portions To reduce your food waste at a buffet, use smaller plates. People who use large plates waste 135 percent more food than those who use smaller plates. Watch your portions when enjoying a buffet, or avoid going to one. Decline takeout bags, utensils and condiments When you order takeout, reduce your carbon footprint by bringing your own coffee or water cups, saying no to straws and plastic bags and declining plastic utensils and napkins. You can bring your own reusable container and see if the restaurant is willing to use it. Say no to extra condiments and seasonings. All of these to-go items might seem convenient, but they often end up in the trash. Instead, just grab the food, and use the cutlery, condiments and seasonings that you have at home. If you really do need some of the extras like sauces or condiments, only take what you need. When you dine out, you can eat sustainably by keeping these tips in mind. Just remember to choose the right restaurants, ask questions and minimize your food packaging and waste , and you will be doing your part to reduce your foodprint. Via Foodprint and  Sustainable America Images via Steffen Kastner , Thabang Mokoena  and Shutterstock

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6 tips to reduce your foodprint while dining out

Biophilic dome homes produce more energy than they consume

October 15, 2018 by  
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It’s no secret that the building sector is a resource-intensive industry, but La Mesa, California-based nonprofit Green New World believes that the future of construction can and should be greener, healthier and energy-producing. Green New World created the House of PeacE (also known as Project HOPE), an autonomous and regenerative residential housing model that champions carbon-free living. Combining biophilic design with renewable energy systems and natural materials, Green New World’s first carbon-negative residential prototype — dubbed HOPEone — is slated for completion by 2019. Conceived as a decentralized, autonomous housing model, Project House of PeacE (HOPE) will integrate water, energy, waste and food production and be adaptable to different climate zones. Shaped into a cluster of domes, the HOPEone prototype will be built from locally sourced earth using low-impact and affordable Superadobe construction methods. The building technique can be easily taught to people and can produce well-insulated and ecologically sound buildings with demonstrated resistance to earthquakes, fires and storms. The geometry of the domes is engineered to optimize energy-efficient thermal regulation and follow passive heating and cooling principles. Related: Dome-shaped Earth Bag House keeps residents naturally cool in Colombia “Modules are selected based on a low-embodied energy and environmental footprint while being simple to recreate with basic skills and, as far as is possible, are constructed with locally available, low-cost and low-impact materials,” Green New World explained. “The first HOPE model, HOPEone, is nearing completion, where the productivity of the core bioenergy modules and carbon sequestration modules will be assessed for the development of future prototypes.” In addition to energy and water conservation measures, the prototype will also harvest and generate its own resources. Depending on the location and climate conditions, different water harvesting systems will be installed and sized to meet the consumption of the inhabitants. The harvested water will be treated with ozone and subject to a three-stage purification, mineralization and alkalization treatment system. Solar photovoltaic panels will also be added to the buildings as will an anaerobic bioreactor for creating biogas used for heating and cooking. + Green New World

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Biophilic dome homes produce more energy than they consume

Previously stable zones of Antarctica are now falling victim to climate change

August 1, 2018 by  
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Unlike its counterpart, West Antarctica, which has long been decimated by melting ice caps, East Antarctica used to be a safe zone – something scientists could depend on as a constant while they solved the more pressing destruction in the western part of the continent. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. According to  research unveiled last week in the journal  Geophysical Research Letters , despite the higher elevation and colder temperatures found in the eastern portion of the Antarctic continent, warm ocean currents and rising global temperatures are now destabilizing two of its glaciers. The research has chronicled the lives of two glaciers in the coldest region on Earth for the past 15 years. These glaciers shield the Eastern zone’s land ice, descending from the ice directly toward the sea. This creates a naturally formed dam that, if disturbed, would affect the ice that covers the rest of the region by subjecting it to the warming ocean waters. The melting of these two massive glaciers alone would raise sea levels more than 16 feet (five meters), undoubtedly compromising the rest of the territory. In an interview with Earther , Yara Mohajerani, lead expert in the study and PhD candidate at the University of California, explained, “The East Antarctic ice sheet contains much more ice and sea level potential than any other ice sheet by far, making it of crucial global significance.” Past research has shown the disappearance of similar glaciers in the East Antarctic region when carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have reached levels comparable to those found today as a result of human activities. Related: Scientists uncover giant canyons under the ice in Antarctica Scientists believe that, due to the circulation of warm ocean water under the two glaciers, they’ve been losing mass for quite some time. To help quantify the losses, NASA provided the researchers with its Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite, which measures small changes in gravity. GRACE collected data from 2002 to 2017, and the new study reveals that the glaciers are losing 18.5 gigatons of ice each year, or the equivalent of 7.4 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. While this is minuscule in comparison to losses in the rest of Antarctica, the location of these glaciers makes their survival central to the discussion of East Antarctica’s stability and, therefore, the state of the continent as a whole. + Geophysical Research Letters Via Earther

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An updated Scandinavian summer cottage weaves Japanese influences throughout

July 18, 2018 by  
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There are few better places to spend a Scandinavian summer than in a breezy cottage by the water. One stellar example is the Summer House completed by Swedish architecture firm Kod Arkitekter in the northern Stockholm archipelago. Located on an island and surrounded by the forest and sea, this home makes the most of its idyllic surroundings with a design that maximizes indoor-outdoor living and combines Scandinavian cottage traditions with Japanese minimalism. Built of timber to reference the surrounding forest, the Summer House comprises a renovated old cottage and a new addition. The clients asked Kod Arkitekter to save and update the cottage — a 65-square-meter structure — and seamlessly integrate it into the extension , a long volume that stretches perpendicular to the existing building. To connect the two buildings, the architects clad both volumes in vertical stained strips of lumber and also topped the house with a dark roofing material. The roof extends over the outdoor patio so that it can be enjoyed rain or shine. Related: Timber-clad waterfront house in Norway epitomizes modern Scandinavian design “With its elongated shape, window setting and the location of the rooms and the patios , the design maximizes the outlook on the water and the unspoiled nature,” explained Kod Arkitekter of the 210-square-meter cottage. “In addition to the Scandinavian traditions, the house draws inspiration from Japan , in an interpretation where simplicity, wood and the relationship with the surrounding nature are at the heart of the architecture.” To mitigate the sloping site, the west end of the T-shaped house is partially elevated on steel posts. The private rooms can be found in the home’s north and south wings. The common areas are located in the west wing, which faces views of the water. Framed by large windows, the communal spaces connect to the outdoors for an indoor-outdoor living experience. + Kod Arkitekter Images via Måns Berg

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An updated Scandinavian summer cottage weaves Japanese influences throughout

Coral forests thrive near Sicilys underwater volcanoes

July 10, 2018 by  
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Nearly one kilometer below the water surface near Sicily, a rare ecosystem of corals, sponges and wildlife is thriving. A recent study from conservation agency Oceana discovered healthy and active coral forests near underwater volcanoes just north of Sicily. These coral forests were previously undiscovered by humans but have not been spared from their impact via pollution. As an under-researched area, scientists wanted to learn more about the wildlife near the Aeolians Islands north of Sicily, the location of several underwater volcanoes . Exploring around a kilometer under the surface, the team found coral forests rich with endangered species. At the shallowest levels, a research robot found red algae beds that support both plants and sea animals in the area. Sea fans and horse mackerel were abundant near the surface. At intermediate depths, sharks laid eggs in beds of black coral, complemented with beds of red coral and yellow tree coral. Both colored corals are considered threatened species in the Mediterranean Sea . Related: Red List expands to 26,000 endangered species The most exciting discoveries were found at the bottom of the ocean floor. As far down as 981 meters, researchers found naturally growing bamboo corals on the endangered species list , as well as sea squirts and carnivorous sea sponges that were not known to live in the area. The deep dive also revealed two species never before seen in the area: the skinny sea star  Zoroaster fulgens and a goby fish originally found near the Adriatic Sea. Unfortunately, this unique environment isn’t immune to human damage. The diving robot discovered extensive evidence of fishing pollution , including abandoned traps, nets and fishing lines. Some of those contributed to the death of the wildlife, including turtles and corals. Other discarded waste found includes single-use plastic flatware, glass and even tires. “We have found tens of features that are internationally protected in the Mediterranean, from impressive coralligenous beds to loggerhead turtles and many species of corals and molluscs,” Ricardo Aguilar, senior research director for Oceania, said in a statement. “However, we also found widespread impacts of human activity, even in the farthest and deepest areas, and it is vital that we stop harming marine life if we are to preserve the uniqueness of this part of the Tyrrhenian Sea.” The discoveries will help scientists develop a plan to protect the unique ecosystem from future damage. Oceana’s expedition is part of bigger research expedition with the Blue Marine Foundation to better understand the Aeolians Islands and their  environment . + Oceana Images via  © Oceana

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Coral forests thrive near Sicilys underwater volcanoes

This prefab pavilion in Zhejiang brings travelers closer to nature

June 7, 2018 by  
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There’s no better way to build appreciation for nature than to immerse people in its beauty. That’s the idea behind the Pine Park Pavilion, a recently completed structure by the riverside in China’s Zhejiang province. Designed by Beijing-based design studio DnA Design and Architecture , the prefabricated Pine Park Pavilion serves to bring cyclists and hikers closer to the landscape. Commissioned by the Songyang Department of River Control and Reservoir Management as a piece of tourism infrastructure near the village of Huangyu, the 197-square-meter Pine Park Pavilion was prefabricated offsite and then assembled onsite. The installation is parallel to the river and comprises a pavilion, retail store, toilets, an infant room, management room, a tearoom  and private meeting spaces. “The elongated pavilion consists of four segments,” the architects wrote. “The building elements are separated with glass surfaces, on which the production of resin is illustrated in an artistically alienated manner, thus giving rise to one picture in combination with the already existing group of trees around the pavilion.” The prefabrication of the project and the preservation of existing trees are indicative of reduced site impact. The structural components are deliberately exposed, giving the modern pavilion a raw appearance. The large panels of glazing used throughout also give the structure a sense of transparency. The glass walls frame the landscape like a painting. In addition to serving as a viewpoint, the Pine Park Pavilion also includes an art installation that explains the production of pine resin in the neighboring village of Huangyu. Related: UNStudio designs cocoon-like pavilion made of 100% recyclable materials “The simple wooden building with its clear constructive structure serves as a resting place at the dam on the river and provides information about a traditional method of producing resin,” the architects wrote. “It consequently combines information about the location with a tourism infrastructure that links history and future for visitors in a playful manner.” + DnA Design and Architecture Images by Ziling Wang and Dan Han

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This prefab pavilion in Zhejiang brings travelers closer to nature

20-foot shipping container converted into off-grid oasis deep in the Catskills

June 7, 2018 by  
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The beautiful Contanium shipping container cabin , just a two-hour drive from NYC, is proving that going off-grid doesn’t have to mean going bare bones. Available for rent on Airbnb, the solar-powered container cabin offers peaceful solitude with all of the comforts of a luxury cabin, including a comfy sofa bed, kitchenette, writing desk, wood-burning stove, and outdoor hot tub. The 20-foot shipping container is perfect for a summer weekend away or even a winter wonderland experience. The container is highly insulated for the cold New York winters, and a wood-burning stove helps the interior stay warm and cozy at all hours of the day and night. The solar-powered cabin comes installed with a composting toilet and a gravity-feed water system. Low-energy windows also provide natural light while reducing heat loss in the wintertime. Large sliding glass doors open onto the patio in the warmer months, letting guests enjoy nature right outside their living space. Related: This amazing shipping container hotel can pop up anywhere in the world Inside the cabin’s beautiful woodsy interior, guests can enjoy the comforts of home. The lights are controlled by a touch-activated LED lighting system . A small but sufficient sofa bed can be folded up for seating space. The kitchenette, although compact, is fully stocked with top-of-the-line appliances. The bathroom is just 40 feet away and is a modern, sophisticated take on the traditional outhouse, with lots of natural light, pine paneling and an open shower stall. The outdoor patio has a large seating area positioned around a fire ring. Additionally, a yoga platform and hammock all but guarantee a rejuvenation of mind, body and spirit. Outside, guests will enjoy a wood-fired hot tub made out of a 120-gallon galvanized metal tub, which can be filled up with stream water. Besides staying in a beautiful eco-friendly cabin , guests will have a breathtaking natural forest to explore. The cabin sits on 20 acres of woodland with various trails to choose from, including one that leads to a 30-foot waterfall just 100 yards north. + Contanium Cabin Via 6 Sq Ft Photographs via Airbnb

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20-foot shipping container converted into off-grid oasis deep in the Catskills

Can vertical farming feed the world and change the agriculture industry?

May 18, 2018 by  
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Year after year, cities expand and pristine natural habitats are turned into farms and pastures to support the world’s growing population . But despite our encroachment into the environment, we still struggle to feed everyone. Vertical farms could offer a solution by producing higher crop yields year-round in less space than conventional agriculture. What is vertical farming? With land for crops and pastures growing scarce — plus the threat of pesticides and herbicides taking a toll on our health and the environment — people are exploring new ways to grow food, such as urban agriculture. In general, this is the process of growing food within city limits – whether on rooftops, in backyards or on balconies. The goal is to provide families with fresh, healthy food that isn’t laced with chemicals — and when you grow your own crops, you can control these elements. Vertical farming is a type of urban agriculture – but vertical farms are often constructed indoors in extremely controlled environments. Crops are grown on shelves that extend upward instead of outward, and the environment is carefully monitored, so crops grow year-round. In addition to growing crops, some vertical farmers have developed ways to grow fish in a self-sustaining system. Water from the plants is recycled into fish tanks, and the waste from the fish becomes fertilizer for the plants. Then, both the plants and fish can be harvested for food. The benefits of vertical farming The benefits of vertical farming are numerous. Farmers can control the crops’ environment in vertical farms, so the plants aren’t subjected to nasty weather conditions or droughts . Humidity, nutrients and water are administered to growing plants to achieve optimum growing conditions. Because of the controlled environment, crops can be harvested more than once a year, resulting in higher yields than traditional farming. Related: The GCC’s first commercial vertical farm launches in Dubai Vertical farms are more sustainable than conventional farms because they use less water (which is often recycled through the system), they take up less space and they use less fossil fuels because they don’t rely on heavy machinery such as tractors and harvesters. Technology helps vertical farmers get the best output from the farm. Tailored lamps help plants get more light exposure, which encourages them to grow faster than crops that rely on the sun. Vertical farms also provide greater protection from insects, thus decreasing the need for harmful chemical products. Downsides to vertical farming While vertical farms can help with local hunger issues and sustainability, there are some barriers that may keep them from gaining worldwide traction. The cost of setting up a vertical farm can be prohibitive. Conservative estimates put the initial start-up cost at around $110,000 , but there are estimates upward of millions of dollars. Finding an abandoned warehouse or building in an urban setting for a reasonable price might be difficult. Since vertical farms rely on electricity for growing lamps and strict environmental controls, the location has to have reliable power — not just any old abandoned building will do. Vertical farms also depend heavily on technology, which can be costly. Keeping the lights on and the environmental controls running will impact energy use — and your budget. Related: The “most technologically-sophisticated commercial indoor farm in the world” will grow 30X more produce Not every crop that is grown traditionally can be raised successfully in a vertical farm. Leafy greens and herbs do the best in an indoor environment, while staple crops like wheat and potatoes are difficult to grow indoors, as are some fruits and vegetables. The crops that can be harvested from a vertical garden are limited. Growing food to feed the hungry is a noble gesture, but it also has to be profitable, especially when the initial cost to set up a vertical farm is so high. If there isn’t a market in your area, it’s a waste of time to grow large amounts of food that you won’t be able to sell. The verdict Despite the downsides, the positives are plentiful. In addition to embracing sustainability and helping combat hunger , vertical farms can also encourage support for local economies. These farms can create jobs, turn a profit and provide a healthy source of food for locals. As technology continues to advance, new approaches will improve the efficiency and productivity of vertical farms. If nothing else, the idea sparks the conversation about changing the agricultural industry and gives us a place to start for finding better, more sustainable ways to grow food. Images via Depositphotos , Aqua Mechanical and Mike Chino for Inhabitat

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