Lamps by Biohm are made from coffee and orange peel

December 2, 2021 by  
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Biohm, a London biotech and biomanufacturing startup, has created a line of sustainable lampshades called Obscure that are made of 100% coffee chaff and orange peel. Biohm has become an example of what’s possible in development and bio-manufacturing of natural materials for the built environment. They regularly use excess resources/wastes and byproducts, aiming to reduce use of plastics by replacing them in various products they create. Biohm is working to address several planetary challenges at once: the climate crisis, waste crisis and social injustice. Their approach is to apply principles of biomimetics, or systematically applying the ecological laws of nature , to create products and manufacturing approaches that innovate across the entire manufacturing life cycle. And, therefore, to create ethically-sourced and locally-fabricated high-performance sustainable products. Related: Artist 3D-prints biodegradable agar floral lamps “There has never been a more critical time to be doing the work we do at Biohm,” said Ehab Sayed, founder and director of innovation at Biohm. “Recent events have emphasized how our economies and systems are flawed and unsustainable, and that we need to immediately implement radical and regenerative biotechnologies delivered through equitable and compassionate business models to make leaps in the fight against the climate crisis.” For these lampshades, Biohm has used a material they call Orb, or organic refuse biocompound, to combine food and agricultural bioproducts with a plant-based binder. Orb can be molded or formed into sheets to create products such as lampshades. Obscure Lampshades are handmade on demand at Biohm headquarters in London. The production process has been designed to be closed loop with no waste streams or byproducts and will operate on demand to avoid additional waste from overproduction. The coolest thing about the Obscure Lampshades is that they could be cold composted or recycled right back into the same production process of Orb to make new products. + Biohm Images via Biohm

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Lamps by Biohm are made from coffee and orange peel

Bamboo Pavilion brings people together with natural design

October 27, 2021 by  
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Lin Architecture has created a structure that puts humanity, social life and interaction at the core. Bamboo Pavilion is a beautiful outdoor structure that invites people to socialize. Located on the beautiful island of Chongming, the pavilion started as a social experiment. Through this project, the designers sought to prove that a beautiful structure can promote socialization. Bamboo Pavilion’s main goal was to activate rural field public spaces. The project attracted designers and students from far and wide in an attempt to build something that would attract people and look magnificent while remaining sustainable. Bamboo is one of the strongest construction materials, and the natural material doesn’t contaminate the local environment. Related: This Brazilian home is made of rammed earth and bamboo The pavilion stands out in both size and design. It is attractive both day and night. During the day, the white bamboo structure can be seen from a distance thanks to its reflective nature. At night, the structure shines with glowing lights to make it the center of attention for the entire island. The designers explained, “The activation of rural field public space has always been an important part of rural construction projects.” In other words, the project helps activate public space and allows people to meet and interact. “Interactions between family members or strangers are realized by the space enticing people to break boundaries. People spend their time resting, talking, and transiting around this installation,” LIN architecture said in a press statement. As a busy destination, Chongming sees hundreds of tourists each weekend. Visitors come from Shanghai and surrounding cities to enjoy the rural life. Bamboo Pavilion provides a common area where travelers can connect and share personal experiences. This project was carried out by a team of designers and students representing Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of London . Some of the participants’ previous works have been featured in the 2020 Beijing International Design Week, 2018 Milan Design Week Oriental Exhibition, 2018 Venice Biennale, and 2019 Barcelona Design Week. + LIN Images via Sunkai LIU and Lin Architecture

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Bamboo Pavilion brings people together with natural design

Three California cities win $1M each to attain carbon neutrality

October 27, 2021 by  
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Three California cities have been awarded $1 million each to attain carbon neutrality by 2030. Under the Cool City Challenge, the cities of Los Angeles , Irvine and Petaluma won money and consulting support to execute their plans. The award comes after several months of a rigorous application process that involved over 40 cities. All the cities were required to submit plans that did not include carbon offsets. The Cool City Challenge organizers set the bar extremely high to ensure that wining cities had the capacity and tools to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. All participating cities were required to submit a cross-sector leadership team, 200 block leaders and 25 community partner organizations. Related: Petaluma becomes first US city to ban new gas stations Applicants were also tasked with enticing their city councils to pass resolutions that would make carbon neutrality possible by 2030. The three cities passed the challenge by submitting plans that had community backing and local partners and were in line with their respective city council resolutions. According to California Governor Gavin Newsom, the Cool City Challenge is “an exemplary how-to guide for local communities to make a significant impact on climate change. It demonstrates the untapped potential of citizens to engage in an effective and achievable way.” The Cool City Challenge is built around the innovative Behaviour and Social Change Work by David Gershon, the CEO of Empowerment Institute. Gershon, the author of Social Change 2.0, is known for offering solutions for reinventing our world. “These cities deeply inspired me with their dedication to such a rigorous application process, their out-of-the-box moonshot thinking, and the high-caliber leaders spanning the public, private and civic sectors they attracted to their moonshot teams,” said Gershon. According to Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz, author of the City’s Carbon Neutral 2030 Legislation, humanity must face climate change and deal with it. “If we are to meet the greatest challenge ever faced by humankind — in time — we must look climate change square in the face, and do not what’s possible, but what’s necessary to keep our planet habitable and thriving,” said Koretz. The winning cities reflect California’s diversity, representing urban, suburban, north, south, coastal and inland areas. They also represent a variety of social and racial groups. Plans developed by the cities offer both bottom-up and top-down moonshot climate solutions in terms of policy, technology and market development. Via Los Angeles Daily News Lead image via Pixabay

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Life-sized elephant sculptures are roaming London

September 29, 2021 by  
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This past summer, a herd of 100 Asian elephants made their way across The Mall in front of London’s Buckingham Palace. They weren’t live animals , however, but life-sized elephant sculptures that were handmade by Indigenous community members from the jungles of Tamil Nadu in South India. The environmental art exhibition is called CoExistence. It was headed by Elephant Family and The Real Elephant Collective, a British Charity and non profit socio-environmental enterprise aimed at raising awareness for the Indian elephant. Meant as a response to the increasing overlap between humans and animals, the campaign’s goal is to trigger a movement of global empathy for members of the animal kingdom who, like the majestic elephant, have found themselves sharing natural habitats with overwhelming human populations. Related: “Extinction – The Facts” explores the global extinction crisis and its consequences The sculptures were made using an invasive weed called lantana, whose removal coincides with benefits to wildlife in protected areas, and supplemented with fragrance created by Xerjoff perfumes. The scent emitted from the lantana elephants is designed after the Nilgiri Hills of Southern India where the elephants began their migration. Flying alongside the elephant are sculpted flocks of bird species that have been declared extinct or endangered in the UK, such as the nightingale, curlew, dalmatian pelican and turtle dove. The project helps demonstrate this unique time in history where the worldwide reduction in human activity from COVID-19 has had an overall positive effect on certain pockets of wildlife species around the planet. “Today marks the first significant step on the herd’s 13,000 mile migration around the world . Over the past 18 months, many countries have gone into lockdown,” said Ruth Ganesh, Creative at The Real Elephant Collective and Elephant Family Trustee. “Brought about by tragic circumstances, this ‘great pause’ – coined the ‘anthropause’ – is providing crucial guidance on how to best share space with animals in our crowded planet . The elephants are here to tell their story about the inspiring ways we can coexist with all the other living beings that make our world magical – from tigers and orangutans, to nightingales and elephants.” + CoExistence Via My Modern Met Images via Grant Walker

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Life-sized elephant sculptures are roaming London

Extinction Rebellion protests take over London

August 24, 2021 by  
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On Monday, Extinction Rebellion (XR) protestors blocked a busy junction in Covent Garden, London during their first day of protests. Participants chained themselves together to block a roundabout at Long Acre. A van joined at the junction with a 4-meter-high pink table featuring the slogan “Come to the table.” As XR plans a fortnight of protests in London , this slogan represents their call to bring everyone to the table to discuss the climate crisis. Related: Extinction Rebellion LA protests climate change by supergluing themselves to Universal Globe In a statement, XR explained, “As floods, fire , and famine break out around the world, it is clear that climate breakdown is here now, and there is no choice left now but to take urgent action. Everyone deserves a seat at the table to have a say in how to tackle the greatest crisis of our times.” Protesters remained at the junction until 7 p.m. when the police began arresting participants. The police showed up with an order signed by Superintendent Wayne Matthews, who claimed the gathering “may result in serious disruption to the community.” The order was also shared via social media . In response, XR members targeted for arrest laid on the ground, forcing police officers to carry them away. Police claim to have arrested 52 protestors. One of the protestors told reporters that XR’s actions have already succeeded in raising awareness. “By taking these arguably drastic actions, I hope that it makes some of the passersby, or the people who read about it, think about why we are worried enough to do that and it conveys there really is something to worry about,” said activist Tristan Strange. According to the Metropolitan police, law enforcement will continue with a “policing plan” for continued XR protests. Deputy assistant commissioner Matt Twist has added that “his officers would not be deterred by a recent supreme court ruling” supporting highway obstruction as “a legitimate and lawful form of protest,” as reported by The Guardian. Via The Guardian Lead image via Extinction Rebellion U.K.

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London floods spark worry over climate change preparedness

July 28, 2021 by  
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On Sunday, the residents of London were caught up in flash floods following a heavy downpour, reigniting conversations about climate change preparedness. Experts have previously warned that the world’s largest cities are at the risk of facing devastating climate change consequences, which they are not prepared to handle. Images from Sunday’s floods show Londoners wandering through floodwater, not knowing what to do or where to go. Some drivers even attempted to drive through the water against expert warnings. According to the London Fire Brigade, over 1,000 emergency calls relating to floods were made on Sunday, indicating that most people were caught unprepared. Related: Moon wobble could lead to massive flooding The situation caused two London hospitals to scale down operations, a reminder that even the world’s richest cities can be affected by climate change . London is one of the world’s largest cities, designed without considerations for severe flooding events. Parts of the city are built on flood plains and use a Victorian drainage system unable to withstand intense flash floods. “It’s deeply concerning that we’re seeing hospital emergency departments having to close because they flooded, something certainly needs to be done to make sure that critical infrastructure is not at risk,” said Liz Stephens, associate professor at the University of Reading’s department of geography and environmental science. The Greater London Authority data shows that about 17% of the city is at high or medium risk of flooding. With more than 1 million Londoners living within flood plains, the city may find it difficult to cope with climate change-related flooding events. Recently, the city has developed a flood defense strategy along the River Thames, but such barriers have been unable to deal with flash floods. According to Stephens, even weather forecasting warnings are not enough to help the residents stay protected from flooding events. “I think there was an amber warning which tells you that that there could well be severe impacts, but the amber warning covered a very large area of southeast England,” said Stephens. “So really as an individual, what would you do with that kind of information. If you don’t know that your property is at risk of flooding, and you’ve got some very broad scale flood warning or not even a flood warning.” Via CNN Lead image via Pixabay

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Minka Solar Pods provide versatile off-grid work or chat hubs

July 21, 2021 by  
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The worlds of business and leisure are changing at an exponential rate, and keeping up with the times means making space for slowing down. London-based design studio Duffy London understands the need for comfortable and functional gathering spots with off-grid functionality as an alternative to the local coffee shop or boardroom for small get-togethers. Building on the prior success of its indoor Japanese-inspired Minka Pods and Retro Pods, the company has released the outdoor-only Minka Solar Pods, which are designed to break up open spaces with cozy seating for up to four people. Related: KOGAA upcycles construction waste into a plant-filled coffee hub The finished look is modern and sleek, and it can function as a work hub, complete with four USB ports and acoustic panels that stifle distracting noises nearby. Minka Solar is 100% powered by the premium photovoltaic panels and lithium-ion battery integrated into the design, so it can be placed anywhere from the center of a city boardwalk to an off-the-beaten-path location. The main construction material is high-grade walnut and oak wood veneers derived from sustainably sourced forests under the supervision of the Forest Stewardship Council . The stations also include powder-coated mild steel for a durable finish. Even though they are open on the sides to allow for free-flowing air and to maintain a connection with the surrounding environment, Minka Solar Pods are weather-resistant to offer protection on rainy days. “We wanted to design a piece of communal furniture that can meet the needs of the modern working and municipal environment,” explained Chris Duffy, founder and director of Duffy London. “Indoor or outdoor, our Minka PODs serve as highly adaptable, non-defined spaces, that act like mini-hives for human interactions.” The standard Minka Solar Pod comes in several different color and finish options, each changing the final look with a range from neutral grays to striking black and gold. Each pod is custom-made when ordered, and every component is handmade by local artisans and in-house craftspeople. Duffy London asks customers to allow 12 weeks for delivery. + Duffy London Images via Duffy London

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New Potted Carbon planter captures CO2 with style

July 20, 2021 by  
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As worldwide anxiety about the  climate crisis  soars, conscious consumers are embracing the idea of carbon tech, or ways to turn excess CO2 into marketable products. Which is probably why the new Potted Carbon planters attained full Kickstarter funding in less than 36 hours. The new planters look like off-white stone speckled with black. But they’re really porcelain mixed with organic waste diverted from landfills. Since landfills accounted for about  15%  of the U.S.’s annual  methane  emissions in 2019, diverting waste into pottery — or just about anything else — could help make a dent in emissions. Related: Carbon to Value Initiative launches business accelerator for carbontech startups This organic waste basis for the planters is called OurCarbon™. Bioforcetech has developed a technology to sanitize carbon and lock it into place for thousands of years. The company developed the material as a soil amendment, material additive, filter and colorant, and is devising other uses. Since it’s already used in DEN Sustainable soil , an OurCarbon™ planter seems the perfect complement. A six-inch nursery pot fits snugly into the handmade Potted Carbon planter. Or, if you need to upsize the container for your four-inch nursery  plant , the Potted Carbon planter gives it space to grow. Each planter comes with DEN sustainable soil. How does the pot trap  carbon ? When fired together in a kiln, porcelain and OurCarbon™ become inseparable. The secret ingredient is grit, waste silica that’s seen as a nuisance in the waste industry. During firing, grit melts into a glass-like material, which solidifies as it cools, and works as the binder that sticks porcelain and OurCarbon™ together. The pot features a flat vertical face with indentations on opposite sides as a subtle homage to the handles on ancient vessels. In addition to aesthetics, the indentations let you suspend a  nursery  pot on the rim without fully potting it, leaving room for drainage underneath. OurCarbon™ partnered with  Sum Studio  and Oakland-based design studio  Break  to design the Potted Carbon planter. Bioforcetech, the company behind OurCarbon™, is looking at other ways to use this promising material, including as a black pigment for coloring plastic , rubber, paint and other materials, and as a black dye for textiles. + OurCarbon Photography by John Ross Thomas

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Here’s how the billionaire space race hurts the environment

July 20, 2021 by  
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Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, successfully flew to space and landed back on Earth this month, a move that has reignited the conversation about rocket pollution . Over the years, pollution caused by rocket launches has often been brushed away due to the few launches taking place. However, due to the recent billionaire space race, conservationists are raising concerns over the pollution these launches create. Branson was part of a six-member crew that flew to space earlier this month in the inaugural Virgin Galactic flight. This flight opens doors for more people to visit space and joins other space shuttle companies such as Space X. With advancing rocket technology, the cost of touring space is decreasing and consequently attracting more tourists. Conservationists worry that the trend poses a threat to the environment, given the enormous amount of pollution rockets emit. Related: Moon wobble could lead to massive flooding According to Eloise Marais, an associate professor of physical geography at University College London, one long-haul flight produces a maximum of 3 tons of carbon dioxide per passenger, while one rocket produces up to 300 tons for a trip of about four people. A report from  Futurism  also points out that the kerosene and methane rockets burn “can end up harming the ozone layer.” For now, the number of rocket launches is still minimal. Last year,  only 114   rockets attempted to reach orbit, a huge contrast to about 100,000 planes that take off every day. Still, there has been a significant increase in the number of rockets launched into space, and this number seems likely to rise in coming years. The worry is that these rockets emit everything from carbon dioxide to chlorine and other chemicals directly into the upper atmosphere, where they could stay for two to three years. Marais says that the lack of regulation in the rocket industry is a problem that should be tackled to address the industry’s pollution. “We have no regulations currently around rocket emissions ,” Marais said. “The time to act is now – while the billionaires are still buying their tickets.” Via Futurism and The Guardian Lead image via Pixabay

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Here’s how the billionaire space race hurts the environment

Bucha delivers lab-made leather alternative for clean fashion

July 20, 2021 by  
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Businesses around the globe have heard the consumer call for sustainable fashion products. The fashion industry as a whole has earned a notably bad rep for wasteful and dirty manufacturing. Few rank higher than the leather industry, with complaints ranging from animal cruelty to toxic chemical waste . Bucha Bio is a company pushing the science envelope in ways that circumvent animals, with an innovative leather alternative that offers endless potential across the fashion industry. Biomaterial manufacturing is the primary order of business at Bucha. The newest proprietary process uses  plant-based  treatments for a sustainable leather alternative that can be used for shoes, clothing, accessories and more. As Bucha introduces the material to the market, it has partnered with independent artists and existing manufacturers to incorporate the product into a designer women’s top as well as a pair of sneakers by Frecustoms, a London-based custom designer that requested the materials. Related: Miomojo presents luxurious plant-based leather bags “Our team of scientists and designers are incredibly devoted to this mission, and we’re proud to finally be able to release the first of many biomaterial-based applications,” said Zimri Hinshaw, founder and CEO of Bucha Bio. “We’re collaborating closely with major brands and prototyping products from footwear to luxury automotive interiors. Commercial industries will evolve beyond exclusively leather -based products in the next 25 years due to overwhelming consumer demand and we’re at the forefront of supporting brands as they shift towards more sustainable models.” While the consumer sees the result, the work behind the material takes place in the lab, where the Bucha team has reduced the time needed to organically grow biomaterials at scale from months to weeks. Scaling has been a bit of an ankle weight in the leather alternative industry, where new processes are being developed at a record rate — many of which fail to reach commercial scale.  In addition to nailing down a solution to commercializing bacterial nanocellulose for material applications, the company has done it while maintaining vibrant colors in a durable and flexible product. In the case of the Frecustoms shoes, the color is achieved through all-natural, algae-based coloring. This initial release of the bio-based faux leather exemplifies how the material produces no waste while minimizing water use and  pollution . Additionally, it replaces acrylics, plastics and chemical-based paints.  “Sustainability and planetary health is never going to be achieved by waiting for the status quo to magically change,” said Sean O’Sullivan, Managing General Partner at SOSV, who recognized Bucha through their IndieBio program. “The challenge of our time is finding action-oriented people that tackle deep-tech problems with science . The Bucha Bio team has created new biomanufacturing processes in practical and productive ways, and achieved remarkable progress in a short time at IndieBio.” + Bucha Images via Bucha and Frecustoms

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