Air pollution could increase risk of irreversible blindness

January 27, 2021 by  
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A study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology has revealed that exposure to air pollution increases the risk of blindness in older adults. The study found that small increases in air pollution contribute to the occurrence of age-related muscular degeneration (AMD), a condition that causes irreversible blindness. The study, conducted in the U.K. with data of more than 115,000 participants, shows that tiny pollution particles increase the risk of AMD by 8%, while changes in large particle pollution increase the risk by 12%. “There is an enormously high flow of blood [to the retina] and we think that as a consequence of that the distribution of pollutants is greater to the eye than to other places,” said Paul Foster, professor at the University College London and a researcher behind the study. “Proportionately, air pollution is going to become a bigger risk factor as other risk factors are brought under control.” Related: How clean is your indoor air? Today, AMD is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in developed countries. The disease mainly affects people above the age of 50 but may also affect younger individuals. Over 200 million people around the world have been diagnosed with AMD. In the U.K. alone, about 5% of people over the age of 65 have AMD. Although air pollution is not among the biggest risk factors for this condition, worsening air quality might make things worse in the future. Currently, the biggest risk factors include poor physical health , particularly smoking. “It’s important to keep things in context — people shouldn’t be looking outside their door and thinking: ‘I can’t go out because it is polluted out there,’” Foster said. “The study gives people information that they can use to alter their lifestyle choices. For example, it may be another reason why we might consider going for an electric car , instead of buying a diesel.” The researchers are planning to conduct another study that will determine the impact of indoor air pollution on eye health. + British Journal of Ophthalmology Via The Guardian Image via Cristi Goia

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SteelZero commitments represent a new era in heavy manufacturing production

January 27, 2021 by  
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SteelZero commitments represent a new era in heavy manufacturing production Jesse Klein Wed, 01/27/2021 – 00:30 Decarbonizing steel has a chicken or the egg problem. Industry experts say current processes for doing it are so extremely expensive that few manufacturers have the financial ability. And right now, there isn’t enough demand for decarbonized steel for manufacturers to justify investing several millions of dollars into lower-carbon steel facilities. But there has been little demand because the end product is so expensive. “Can we borrow $100 million or $200 million to make something more expensive than our competitors is a hard business case?” said Matthew Wenban-Smith, policy and standards director for the nonprofit standards and certification organization, ResponsibleSteel.  A new initiative called SteelZero , created by The Climate Group in partnership with ResponsibleSteel , hope to break the cycle on the demand side. The program brings together the top steel buyers across the globe — including construction companies, real estate groups and property developers — and challenges them to commit to procuring 100 percent net-zero emissions steel by 2050. Members include Lendlease, Mace Group, Multiplex Construction Europe and WSP UK. Most of the carbon footprint for steel companies comes from Scope 3 emissions, emissions from suppliers downstream, as is the case with many businesses. According to Joshua Davies, sustainability manager for Multiplex Europe, 42 percent of his company’s overall 2019 footprint came from embodied carbon from its suppliers. Multiplex already has sustainability commitments written into contracts with its suppliers and subcontractors including committing to the responsible sourcing of steel, having science-based carbon reduction targets for 2023 at the latest and providing low carbon alternative materials during the build process. But there’s only so much it can do on its own. The hope is collective action can spur faster change, Davies said. If we don’t take some of these actions now, we won’t be a business around in five years. “We’re really wanting to show a commitment directly to steel producers that the buyers are ready,” said Jim Norris, the senior project manager for SteelZero. “It’s up to steel producers and policymakers to step up to market and really accelerate the decarbonization of steel production.” Last year saw a huge jump forward in green steel technology. Sweden saw the first hydrogen powered commercial steel production . According to the Rocky Mountain Institute , last year, Swedish steel maker SSAB working with iron ore producer LKAB and utility Vattenfall, created a pilot plant for hydrogen-based primary steel. By using hydrogen instead of coal in blast furnaces, they were able to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Traditional furnaces generate a minimum of 1.8 metric tons of CO2 per metric ton of finished product, while burning hydrogen produces only water. In Germany, the steel production company ArcelorMittal is reducing its carbon emissions by using hydrogen for iron ore reduction, reported by the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association .  According to a 2019 Rocky Mountain Institute report, full-scale hydrogen-based steel production would cost 20 to 30 percent more than conventional steel-making processes. That increase comes mostly from the energy source and doesn’t take into account the costs of building new hydrogen facilities, a huge hurdle for manufacturers, according to the RMI analysis.  Steel, like most industries, follows the money. Norris’ goal is to use the steel industry’s collective buying power to shift market forces towards lower-carbon technologies for production. By driving demand for net-zero steel, the hope is to signal to the steel producers that they can invest in creating the supply.  22 Bishopsgate in London is another of Multiplex’s skyscrapers that was built with sustainability in mind.//Courtesy of Multiplex “It requires people to change the way we think,” said Diego Padilla Phillips, associate director of Structures at WSP UK. “For many years, our brains have been wired to focus on constructability or reducing cost programs. And to make that shift towards reducing carbon, it requires a conscious effort.”  Sustainability managers of the member organizations said they aren’t afraid to cut ties with steel manufacturers that don’t follow the trends to meet their 2050 targets. But it would be a huge loss, and members would rather help their suppliers and business partners along in the decarbonization journey.  “There’s not a lot of different subcontractors out there who do steelwork,” Davies said. “So considering that, we can’t just completely say we’re not going to work with you again. What we will probably do is make it more uncompetitive, so they will have to come along with us.”  SteelZero also will be a working group where competitors and companies up and down the supply chain can work together to innovate solutions and break down the obstacles to decarbonization, according to Norris. “It’s about scalability,” said Catherine Heil, head of sustainability at LendLease. “Acknowledging the fact that LendLease can’t do it on our own. We need to find commercially viable solutions and dig into some of the pain points around why the sector is still slowly, slowly transitioning.”  By working collectively, the group can create a roadmap to decarbonize because the steps to getting there are not clearly defined. But SteelZero has set up at least one. By 2030, each member needs 50 percent of its steel demand to come from steel producers that have committed to an approved science-based emissions reduction target, have a ResponsibleSteel Certification or have a low embodied carbon steel profile by recycling end-of-life scrap steel.  “This is critical to the future business resilience and the way we move forward,” Davies said. “If we don’t take some of these actions now, we won’t be a business around in five years.”  Pull Quote If we don’t take some of these actions now, we won’t be a business around in five years. Topics Emissions Reduction Advanced Materials Energy & Climate Manufacturing Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Skyscrapers such as Multiplex’s White Collar Factory in London are erected using thousands of tons of steel. //Courtesy of Mutliplex 

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Proposed skating rink uses melted ice to sustain wetland habitats

December 25, 2020 by  
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Designed by FaulknerBrowns Architects, the $40 million Lee Valley Ice Centre in London will feature two Olympic-sized ice rinks and use ice from the facility to benefit the sustainability and biodiversity of the building site. Along with sustainable design features like high performance insulation and rooftop solar panels , the facility’s melted ice will be filtered through reed beds to create new wetland habitats onsite. The design, which will replace an existing 36-year-old single rink, is pending second-round approval from the Greater London Authority. If the project does get approved, it will double the center’s capacity to 557,000 visits per year, providing more community access and complementing the surrounding Lee Valley Regional Park. The 26-mile-long park comprises 10,000 acres and a mixture of diverse heritage sites, natural reserves and award-winning gardens, along with another Olympic-sized venue also designed by FaulknerBrowns. Related: Renewable energy to power 2024 Olympic aquatic center The building site is in an important region for nature conservation , so the design team remained aware of the responsibility to preserve the unique, natural character of the area with the smallest possible environmental footprint. Their response was a pavilion-like structure that uses a heavy base plinth on the lower portion of the elevation to anchor the building to the flat landscape. The base forms a podium under the ice halls, which are insulated with cladding panels to create two environmentally controlled “fridges” that are wrapped by a copper-colored metal band. This band is separated from the plinth with a flowing, curved edge to create the illusion of a building floating within the landscape. The Lee Valley Ice Centre has also been rotated from its previous position to allow natural movement through the green spaces and to create a more welcoming gateway to the neighboring marsh. According to the architects, this reimagined position plus the proposed landscaping design with native plants and melted ice filtration system will result in a biodiversity net gain of 35%. + FaulknerBrowns Architects Images via FaulknerBrowns Architects

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London tree rental service solves a Christmas quandary

December 9, 2020 by  
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People who like to decorate their houses for Christmas often face a tree dilemma: should they buy an artificial, plastic tree or a real, dead one? Now, a new U.K. business saves Londoners from that choice. London Christmas Tree Rental delivers a real, pot-grown tree, lets customers enjoy it for a few weeks, then picks it up in January and takes it back to a farm, where the tree can continue to grow. The tree rental service has enjoyed a roaring success this year. By the first week of December, it was sold out of all four tree sizes, from the three-footer to the six-footer. Related: Amazon’s Christmas trees are hurting the environment It’s a lucrative side business for owners Catherine Loveless and Jonathan Mearns, who co-founded the company in 2018. “It all started when walking the streets of London in January and weaving between the Christmas tree graveyards that Jonathan decided enough was enough,” the company’s website reads. “With 7 million trees going into landfill each year for the sake of 3 weeks of pleasure there must be a better way to do Christmas trees.” Rental prices range from about 40 to 70 British pounds, or about $53 to $93 in U.S. dollars. Add in 10 pounds (about $13) each way for delivery and pickup, plus a 30 pound (about $40) deposit, and the rental tree can cost more than many cut or artificial trees. Still, it is a more sustainable option, plus trees that are well-cared for will result in a deposit refund. Customers also have the option for free tree pick-up and drop-off. Tree rental lets consumers feel good about the sustainability of their choices. While artificial trees may be reused for many years, they have a significant environmental cost. “In the U.S., around 10 million artificial trees are purchased each season,” according to the Nature Conservancy. “Nearly 90 percent of them are shipped across the world from China, resulting in an increase of carbon emissions and resources. And because of the material they are made of, most artificial trees are not recyclable and end up in local landfills .” Real, cut trees are a better environmental choice, as only a fraction of the trees grown at tree farms are cut down each year. Growing real trees doesn’t involve the the intense carbon emissions necessary for producing their faux brethren. But psychologically, many people balk at ending the life of a beautiful tree just so it can stand in a living room for a few weeks. It seems like selfish, flagrant domination over nature. And millions of these trees go to landfill after they spend less than a month adorning living rooms. London Christmas Tree Rental urges customers to name their trees, so that these plants feel more like family. If a customer grows attached to their tree, they can arrange to have the same one again next year — up to a point. At seven feet, the trees are transferred from their pots to retire in a forest . + London Christmas Tree Rental Via Upworthy Image via David Boozer

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House passes Big Cat Public Safety Act

December 9, 2020 by  
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The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a landmark legislation that will see big cats protected from human mistreatment. The Big Cat Public Safety Act (BCPSA) prohibits individuals from owning big cats in their homes or in roadside zoos. The act was passed by 272 votes, compared to 114 members who voted against the legislation. The bill, which was introduced by Michael Quigley and Brian Fitzpatrick in 2012, has been in the pipeline for a long time. Due to public outcry, the legislation has now been passed, prohibiting exploitation of big cats such as lions, leopards, and tigers . “After months of the public loudly and clearly calling for Congress to end private big cat ownership, I am extremely pleased that the House has now passed the Big Cat Public Safety Act,” Quigley said. “Big cats are wild animals that simply do not belong in private homes, backyards, or shoddy roadside zoos.” Related: ‘Tiger King’ drama overshadows abuse of captive tigers in U.S. The success in passing this legislation in the House has been attributed to the exposure of animal exploitation on the Netflix series “Tiger King.” Following the show’s popularity, in April 2020, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) released footage showing the abuse that tigers and other big cats suffer at the hands of Joe Exotic, one of the leading personalities in “Tiger King.” The footage of Joe Exotic and other zoo workers routinely abusing big cats lead to public outrage, which resulted in varying levels of discipline for several people featured in the show. Joe Exotic himself is currently in prison for wildlife violations. The case of Joe Exotic’s mistreatment of wildlife is but one among many. Due to such incidences, multiple states have been implementing rules to control human-wildlife interactions. Currently, only five states, Nevada, Alabama, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, have no laws protecting big cats. As such, it has become necessary to have a federally recognized law to protect these animals. Keeping big cats in roadside zoos and homes also poses a public health threat. Since 1990, over 400 dangerous incidences, including 24 deaths, have been reported in 46 states and Washington, D.C. According to HSUS CEO Kitty Block and Sara Admunsen, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the only way to end these incidences is by introducing federal legislation. “But to wipe this problem out for good, we need strong federal laws that will prevent unscrupulous people from forcing wild animals to spend their entire lives in abject misery while creating a public safety nightmare,” they said in a joint statement.  The Big Cat Public Safety Act now moves to the Senate floor for voting. Via VegNews Image via Sherri Burgan

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Leveraging the ocean’s carbon removal potential

November 11, 2020 by  
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Leveraging the ocean’s carbon removal potential Katie Lebling Wed, 11/11/2020 – 00:30 To meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius 2.7 degrees F), greenhouse gas emissions must reach net-zero by mid-century. Achieving this not only will require reducing existing emissions, but also removing carbon dioxide already in the air. How much carbon to remove from the atmosphere will depend on emissions in the coming years, but estimates point to around 10 billion-20 billion tons of CO 2 per year through 2100, globally. This is a tremendous amount, considering that the United States emitted 5.4 billion tons of CO 2 in 2018. As the need for climate action becomes more urgent, the ocean is gaining attention as a potential part of the solution . Approaches such as investing in offshore energy production, conserving coastal ecosystems and increasing consumption of sustainable ocean-based protein offer opportunities to reduce emissions. In addition to these opportunities, a range of ocean-based carbon removal approaches could help capture and store billions of tons of carbon. Importantly, these approaches would not increase ocean acidification. The ocean absorbs just under one-third of anthropogenic CO 2 emissions, which is contributing to a rise in ocean acidification and making it more difficult for organisms such as oysters and corals to build shells. The ocean absorbs just under one-third of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, contributing to a rise in ocean acidification. A few options for increasing the ocean’s capacity to store carbon also may provide co-benefits, such as increasing biodiversity and reducing acidification. However, many approaches remain contentious due to uncertainties around potential ecological impacts, governance and other risks. If research efforts increase to improve understanding in these areas, a combination of approaches could help address the global climate crisis. Ocean-based ways to remove CO 2 from the atmosphere Proposed methods for increasing the ocean’s ability to remove and store carbon dioxide — including biological, chemical and electrochemical concepts — vary in technical maturity, permanence, public acceptance and risk. Note: This graphic represents the general types of proposed approaches, but may not reflect every proposal. 1. Biological approaches Biological approaches, which leverage the power of photosynthesis to capture CO 2 , offer a few approaches for carbon removal. Ecosystem restoration Restoring coastal blue carbon ecosystems , including salt marshes, mangroves and seagrasses, can increase the amount of carbon stored in coastal sediments. Globally, the carbon removal potential of coastal blue carbon ecosystem restoration is around a few hundred million tons of CO 2 per year by 2050, which is relatively small compared to the need. However, ample co-benefits — such as reducing coastal erosion and flooding, improving water quality and supporting livelihoods and tourism — make it worth pursuing. Restoring coastal blue carbon ecosystems, including salt marshes such as this one, can help store carbon in addition to other restoration benefits. Photo by Bre Smith/Unsplash Large-scale seaweed cultivation Another proposed approach is large-scale seaweed cultivation , as seaweed captures carbon through photosynthesis. While there is evidence that wild seaweed already contributes to carbon removal, there is potential to cultivate and harvest seaweed for use in a range of products, including food (human and animal), fuel and fertilizer. The full extent of carbon removal potential from these applications is uncertain, as many of these products would return carbon within the seaweed to the environment during consumption. Yet, these applications could lower emission intensity compared to conventional production processes. Seaweed cultivation also can provide an economic return that could support near-term industry growth. One interesting application is adding certain seaweeds to feed for ruminant farm animals, which significantly could reduce their methane emissions. Methane has especially high climate warming potential, and methane emissions from ruminants contribute roughly 120 MtCO1e per year in the United States. Emerging research shows that certain types of red seaweeds can reduce ruminant emissions by more than 50 percent, although more research is necessary to show consistent long-term reductions and understand whether large-scale cultivation efforts are successful. In addition to reducing emissions, seaweed cultivation also may reduce ocean acidification. In some places, this application is already in use for shellfish aquaculture to reduce acidification and improve shellfish growth. Understanding potential ecosystem risks is critical to implementing this approach at scale. Potential risks include changes to water movement patterns; changes to light, nutrient and oxygen availability; altered pH levels; impacts from manmade structures for growing; and impacts of monoculture cultivation, which can affect existing marine flora and fauna. Continued small-scale pilot testing is necessary to understand these ecosystem impacts and bring down costs for cultivation, harvesting and transport. Iron fertilization A more controversial and divisive idea is iron fertilization , which involves adding trace amounts of iron to certain parts of the ocean, spurring phytoplankton growth. The phytoplankton would take in atmospheric CO 2 as they grow, with a portion expected to eventually sink to the ocean floor, resulting in permanent storage of that carbon in ocean sediments About a dozen experiments indicate varying levels of carbon sequestration efficacy, but the approach remains compelling to some due to its low cost. Although iron fertilization theoretically could store large amounts of carbon for a comparatively low cost, it also could cause significant negative ecological impacts, such as toxic algal blooms that can reduce oxygen levels, block sunlight and harm sea life. Additionally, researchers are hesitant to pursue this method due to a fraught history, including one experiment that potentially violated international law. Iron fertilization, which involves adding trace amounts of iron to certain parts of the ocean, spurring phytoplankton growth. Because of the relatively low cost, there is also the risk of a single actor’s conducting large-scale fertilization and potentially causing large-scale ecological damage. Given that this method remains contentious, a critical first step is creating a clear international governance structure to continue research. Iron fertilization continues to face scientific uncertainties about its efficacy and ecosystem impacts that, if pursued, would require at-sea testing to resolve. 2. Chemical approaches Chemical approaches, namely alkalinity enhancement, involve adding different types of minerals to the ocean to react with dissolved carbon dioxide and turn it into dissolved bicarbonates. As dissolved carbon dioxide converts into dissolved bicarbonates, the concentration of dissolved CO 2 lowers relative to the air, allowing the ocean to absorb more CO 2 from the air at the ocean-air boundary. Although mineral sources are abundant, accessing them would require significant energy to extract, grind down and transport. While alkalinity enhancement is in use at small scales to improve water quality for calcifying creatures such as oysters and other shellfish, large scale applications would require pilot testing to understand ecosystem impacts. Additional research also will help map accessible and suitable sources of alkalinity and determine how to most effectively apply it. 3. Electrochemical approaches A handful of electrochemical concepts also store carbon as dissolved bicarbonate. Unlike chemical approaches, electrochemical approaches do so by running electric currents through seawater. Variations of electrochemical approaches also could produce valuable hydrogen or concentrated CO 2 for industrial use or storage. Scaling up this approach would depend on the availability of low-carbon energy sources in suitable locations. Additional research will help map such sources and analyze potential benefits, such as hydrogen production. Governance and social considerations of ocean-based carbon removal Ensuring appropriate governance frameworks — both national and international — for ocean-based carbon removal approaches will be a critical pre-condition before many are ready to scale. International legal frameworks for the ocean, such as the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea and the London Convention and Protocol, predate the concept of ocean carbon dioxide removal. As a result, these frameworks are retroactively applied to these approaches, leading to differing interpretations and a lack of clarity in some cases. Some legal scholars suggest amending existing legal instruments to more directly govern ocean carbon removal, including carbon removal in ongoing negotiations for new international agreements or shifting governance to another international body entirely. Robust environmental safeguards, including transparent monitoring and reporting, also must be in place. Lastly, ocean carbon removal approaches should not move forward without first considering the impacts on local communities and indigenous populations. Community acceptance of potential pilot testing and impacts on coastal communities also must be a pre-condition to moving forward at scale. Climate action must include the ocean As the world seeks effective tools for the climate action toolbox, employing approaches on land and at sea would prevent over-reliance on any one approach and spread the carbon removal burden over larger systems. However, before any large-scale application, ocean-based carbon removal approaches require continued research to better understand their effectiveness, cost, capacity and ancillary impacts. Such research will ensure a strong scientific foundation from which to pursue these concepts, while minimizing unintended impacts on ocean ecosystems. If understood and effectively developed and implemented, ocean-based carbon removal approaches could prove valuable to reaching net-zero and avoiding the worst effects of climate change. Pull Quote The ocean absorbs just under one-third of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, contributing to a rise in ocean acidification. Iron fertilization, which involves adding trace amounts of iron to certain parts of the ocean, spurring phytoplankton growth. Contributors Eliza Northrop Topics Oceans & Fisheries Carbon Removal World Resources Institute Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz collage via Unsplash Close Authorship

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Smelly but smart: ships to use ammonia as "zero-carbon" fuel

November 10, 2020 by  
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While the world rushes against time to curb carbon emissions from cars, trains and airplanes, another area of transport raises concerns. Today, almost  90% of all goods traded globally are transported by water . As massive fuel guzzlers compared to other transportation methods, ships exacerbate the emissions problem. To deal with the issue of carbon pollution by ships, several companies and organizations are exploring ammonia as a possible solution.  In 2008, the International Maritime Organization(IMO) set a target of halving its emissions by 2050. To accomplish this, IMO intends to use ammonia as a fossil fuel alternative. Ammonia makes a great alternative since it does not contain carbon; the pungent-smelling gas can burn within an engine and power it without emitting carbon dioxide. Due to ammonia’s ability to provide clean energy, several companies are now testing the gas as an alternative fuel. A German company, Man Energy Solutions, has announced plans to install an ammonia-ready engine on a ship. According to the company, the first model will be dual, allowing the ship to run on traditional gas with an ammonia option. Meanwhile, Eidesvik, a Norway-based company, plans to invest in ammonia-powered ships. By 2023, the company will install ammonia-powered cells on all its ships. Similar to batteries, these cells will generate energy to power the ship’s motor. Though ammonia is less energy-rich than many other marine fuels, it proves more energy-dense than hydrogen . Hydrogen, another zero-emission gas, has been used to power cars, trains and planes. While cheaper to produce than ammonia, hydrogen presents handling difficulties due to its -253 degrees Celcius storage temperature. “Ammonia sits very nicely in the middle,” Dr. Tristan Smith of University College London said. “It’s not too expensive to store and not too expensive to produce.”  If the shipping industry adopts ammonia as a fuel source, there is still more work required to keep it clean. Ammonia produces nitrogen oxides, which can be toxic. Fortunately, there is a technology that can purify the oxides before they are released.  + BBC Image via Pexels

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Biodegradable mushroom packaging makes Seedlip gifts special

November 10, 2020 by  
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In an effort to help reduce food packaging waste, non-alcoholic spirit company Seedlip is introducing a  Mycelium Gift Pack  wrapped in  biodegradable  mushroom packaging. Mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms, creates a durable and sustainable packaging alternative for the upcoming holiday season. This fully bio-contributing material is also biodegradable, recyclable and compostable. The gift set includes a full-sized bottle of Seedlip Spice 94 (an aromatic non-alcoholic spirit), a highball glass made from 100% recycled material and a thyme seeded neck tag. The tag includes instructions to plant and grow your own herbs using the biodegradable  mushroom  box as a planter. Seedlip has partnered with the Magical Mushroom Company, a U.K.-based production plant specializing in manufacturing mycelium-based packaging and insulation, to bring the project to life. Presale for the set began on October 22 and is available now on  Seedlip’s website .  Related: Entrepreneur sells mushroom suits that decompose your body after death “We are committed to celebrating and protecting the natural world and our mushroom-based gift set progresses both our support of sustainable packaging as well as championing nature’s ability to solve society’s challenges,” said Ben Branson, founder of Seedlip. “Mushrooms are nature’s recycling system and we’re very proud to be working with them.” Seedlip Spice 94, featured in the gift set, is an aromatic blend of Jamaican allspice berries, grapefruit, lemon and cardamom that gets its earthy bitterness from oak and cascarilla tree barks. Seedlip offers  beverage  recipes on its website that incorporate the non-alcoholic spirit. The mycelium used to make the gift box paper plays a critical role in  nature  by breaking down debris on the forest floor. Seedlip’s packaging can mimic this process as a compostable material in your compost bin. This helps make mycelium a great alternative to plastic packaging. According to Seedlip, the Magical Mushroom packaging is just as strong as conventional  plastic  foams but doesn’t contribute to landfill or ocean pollution. + Seedlip Images via Seedlip

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Biodegradable mushroom packaging makes Seedlip gifts special

Hothouse installation grows tropical plants in the middle of London

October 26, 2020 by  
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London-based architecture practice Studio Weave has filled a greenhouse with tropical plants in London to highlight the reality of climate change. Known as Hothouse, the large-scale installation project is located at International Quarter London, a business development built in a subdivision of Stratford and close to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The design is inspired by a Victorian glasshouse, and at 7 meters tall, the installation is held up using a galvanized steel frame and cables. The structure provides a controlled environment specifically for cultivating warm-weather plants that are unsuitable to the U.K.’s climate. It is reminiscent of the 20-mile stretch of land across the Lee Valley corridor, which once housed more than 1,300 acres of greenhouse in the 1930s. These greenhouses of the past famously facilitated the production of ornamental flowers and tropical crops like grapes and cucumbers that wouldn’t normally grow in the region. Related: Student designs inflatable bamboo greenhouses for sustainable farming Poised to be on display for at least a year, the new Hothouse will be expertly regulated to help these same types of plants thrive once again. Working with garden designer Tom Massey, the architects at Studio Weave developed a cultivation plan to include plants from all over the world: guava, orange, squash, chia, avocado, pomegranate, quinoa, mango, sweet potato, lemon, sugarcane, chickpea, loquat and pineapple. It’s not just about growing tropical crops; the Hothouse is also designed to highlight the rapidly changing climate . The project serves as a warning to the idea that, should global warming continue to accelerate as some scientists predict, the U.K.’s climate could potentially become warm enough to grow these tropical plants outside by 2050. “Amid the strangeness of the COVID era of the last few months, reduced human activity has produced what feels like a profound shift in the environment, progressing a much-needed dialogue that will hopefully translate into sustained action and change,” said Je Ahn, founder of Studio Weave. “We hope this little hot house acts as a continual reminder of our fragile relationship with nature, while allowing us to rediscover the simple and enriching pleasure of looking after beautiful plants.” + Studio Weave Via Dezeen Images via Studio Weave

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Hothouse installation grows tropical plants in the middle of London

Beautiful Washington bridge with lace-like metal walls shimmers at night

October 26, 2020 by  
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When Seattle-based LMN Architects and KPFF Consulting Engineers were tapped to design the Grand Avenue Park Bridge in Everett, Washington, the team worked to not only meet functional demands but to also achieve aesthetic appeal. The newly completed bridge, which took three years of construction, is now an iconic community asset that connects the elevated Grand Avenue Park with the city’s growing waterfront district — bringing along with it a series of new civic spaces . In a nod to the traditional railroad trusses common across the Pacific Northwest, the architects designed the bridge with weathering steel and brilliant, aluminum guardrails with bespoke perforation that creates a shimmering effect when illuminated at night. Completed in August 2020, the 257-foot-long asymmetrical Grand Avenue Park Bridge provides city residents with a new connection to the growing waterfront district, which had long suffered a disconnect due to a five-lane highway, BNSF railroad tracks and a steep slope of 80 feet. The design team mitigated the challenging grade changes by weaving together pedestrian ramps and stairs into the bridge — much of the bridge structure is tucked below Grand Avenue Park to preserve views from the elevated park — and anchoring the structure with a vertical concrete tower and utility core on the waterfront side. The bridge also carries major utilities across its span. Related: LAVA designs a cyclist bridge to make Heidelberg bike-friendly “As designers, we found these circumstances the perfect opportunity to create a place where the accessible features would define the experience,” said LMN Partner Stephen Van Dyck, AIA in a press statement. “In its design, the Grand Avenue Park Bridge is also a destination. The bridge’s paths, stairs and spaces create a variety of views beyond and within that make it a place of discovery.” The exposed and raw structural elements that are constructed of weathering steel are contrasted with lace-like aluminum guardrails. The 400 aluminum panels were perforated with a CNC Waterjet using a computer script that automated the layout, numbering and cut file production to ensure each aluminum panel is unique and responsive to the geometry of the bridge while fulfilling varying guardrail requirements. The varied density of perforations were also engineered to enhance reflectivity of the lights integrated at the top of the rail while minimizing glare and light pollution.  + LMN Architects Photography by Adam Hunter via LMN Architects

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