DIY sweet treats for Valentines Day

February 14, 2020 by  
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From pesticide residue on cut flowers to the questionable ingredients in conversation hearts, standard-issue Valentine romance won’t cut it for your earth-conscious sweetie. But don’t worry, you can make DIY treats that are delicious, personalized and easier on the environment than conventional Valentine’s Day candy. Fair-trade ingredients The best Valentine’s Day candy starts with fair-trade ingredients. Cocoa is one of the most important fair-trade items, as 90% of the global cocoa supply comes from small family farms in tropical places. The 6 million farmers earning their living through growing and selling cocoa beans are vulnerable to pressures that drive the market price down. If you buy chocolate bars and chips that are Fair-Trade certified, you know that the farmers are being fairly paid for their work. Since 1998, this program has invested about $14 million into cocoa-producing communities in places like Peru, Ecuador, Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Many other ingredients besides cocoa are covered by the fair-trade certification system. Some of these items that you might use in Valentine’s Day recipes include sugar, coffee, honey, tea and fruits like bananas . Simple Valentine’s Day treats Does the intricacy of the treat reflect your love for your partner? Not necessarily. Even if you’re challenged by lack of time and/or kitchen skills, you can still produce a thoughtful and tasty Valentine’s Day gift. Related: 14 vegan and vegetarian Valentine’s Day dinner ideas Three-ingredient vegan chocolate pots contain only chocolate, dates and almond milk. You melt unsweetened chocolate in a microwave, throw it in a blender with the dates and almond milk, then refrigerate until it solidifies. The trickiest thing is remembering that you’ll need to refrigerate it for at least four hours, so plan ahead. Get the full recipe here . Another option for those who have trouble juggling multiple ingredients, this three-ingredient velvety chocolate fruit dip combines coconut cream, cacao powder and maple syrup. Just add a fourth ingredient — some fruit — and you’ll be ready for Valentine’s Day. Try bananas, mango slices or chunks of pineapple for best results. Does your darling love ice cream? The simplest vegan ice cream consists of two ingredients: cocoa powder and bananas, both of which you can get fair-trade certified. You just need a blender or food processor and a freezer. Want to jazz it up? Add coconut, berries or nuts. Prefer to be even more minimalist? Make a one-ingredient ice cream of bananas only. Chocolate delicacies For a more traditional Valentine’s Day candy gift — but still vegan and fair-trade — make your own vegan chocolate salted caramels . You can get really romantic by shaping them into hearts. What if your love is not only vegan, but a gluten-free raw foodie? A vegan chocolate almond cheesecake with a gluten-free crust is an excellent solution to this Valentine’s Day gift-giving challenge. This recipe tops the cheesecake with cocoa nibs and extra almonds. Perhaps cookies are your loved one’s favorite treat. These heart-shaped chocolate sugar cookies are vegan and gluten-free. You’ll need heart-shaped cookie cutters and a rolling pin for this recipe. Fancy and fruity desserts It’s hard to fathom, but not everybody rates chocolate as their favorite. Some people don’t like it at all and would even prefer fruit ! If your partner values berries over cocoa, whip up a raw strawberry cashew cream tart . The crust is made of dates, coconuts and almonds, and the filling is strawberry cashew cream. Remember that strawberries usually top the dirty dozen list of produce that you should buy organic, so shop accordingly. No pesticides for your valentine! Strawberry donuts with jam frosting make for a sweet Valentine’s Day breakfast. If you like decorating, you can heap on the pink frosting and arrange freeze-dried strawberry bits or candy sprinkles. Related: 9 ways to have an eco-friendly Valentine’s Day Few vegan desserts involve dusting off your blowtorch. But this vegan crème brûlée recipe made with coconut milk will awe and impress your partner, especially when they see you welding that blowtorch in the name of love. Flowers for those who don’t like sweets What if your partner doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth? Cut flowers are a Valentine’s Day staple, but they are notoriously pesticide-ridden, and many flower farms don’t treat workers or the environment well. If you’re concerned about sustainable practices in the floral industry, the internet provides a few tools. For California-grown flowers, you can look at Bloomcheck , which measures wildlife protection, air and soil quality and impact on workers and community. Rainforest Alliance monitors South America , with more than 1.3 million farms using Rainforest Alliance methods to protect local ecosystems and workers. Veriflora vets farms in the whole western hemisphere. A low-key Valentine’s Day Sometimes Valentine’s Day is the worst time to go out to dinner or to dessert shops. The stress of making reservations and battling a sea of lovers can put a damper on romance. Instead, consider celebrating at home with a simple, homemade dinner followed by DIY treats. Whipping up dinner together is a good way to show your love and is much more personal than making a reservation. Images via Shutterstock

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DIY sweet treats for Valentines Day

Plants to give your loved one this Valentine’s Day

February 7, 2020 by  
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Valentine’s Day is a time to shower your loved ones with thoughtful gifts to let them know how much they mean to you. While jewelry, chocolate and roses have traditionally been associated with the holiday, that special person will surely appreciate a gift that lasts longer — a houseplant. There are so many options of colorful plants that give the gift of fresh air and reminders of your love for years to come. Plus, houseplants are a sustainable, zero-waste option the planet will appreciate, too. Here are some ideas that could make this Valentine’s Day romantic and also thoughtful for both your partner and the planet. Heartleaf Philodendron When you decide to give a living plant for Valentine’s Day, it makes sense to choose one with heart-shaped leaves. There are around 200 varieties of philodendron, so look for one labeled ‘Heartleaf’ or ‘Sweetheart’. Not only does it fit the theme of the holiday, but it’s very easy to care for and keep happy. The heartleaf philodendron requires low to medium light and is forgiving if you forget to water it occasionally. Related: How to make an enchanting terrarium necklace to keep or give as a gift Cyclamen While the heartleaf philodendron does not produce a bloom, the cyclamen produces an attractive display of papery flowers with a heart-like shape. Standard colors are pink, red, burgundy or white, but there are many hybrids available. The flowering cyclamen blooms in the winter, which is perfect for Valentine’s Day, and it will re-bloom year after year with proper care. It is a bit of a fussy plant, preferring controlled temperatures and precise watering. Hoya Kerrii This ‘sweetheart’ plant is the perfect gift with distinctively heart-shaped leaves. Although the Hoya kerrii is often sold as a single-potted leaf, you can obtain this as a plant, too. Like most succulents , it has low-maintenance requirements in low light and moderate temperatures. Green Nephthytis Another evergreen, heart-leaved option is the Green Nephthytis. Fortunately for your recipient, it is easy to care for, and this vine works well in a pot on a bookcase or in a hanging basket. Anthurium In addition to heart-shaped leaves, the ‘flowers’ are also heart-shaped, so this plant offers double the love. Plus, it’s a striking plant known for its almost fake-looking waxy leaves and vibrant blooms. Provide anthurium with a bright space outside of direct sunlight in a humid environment, and you’ll get a cycle of blooms each year. Related: Valentine’s Day flower deliveries come at a huge cost to the environment Phalaenopsis This type of orchid brings a “wow” factor to your gift, with unique, long-lasting blooms that are available in a variety of colors. Because they typically bloom from late winter well into spring , Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to get a phalaenopsis settled into place. They prefer filtered light and consistent water. Golden Pothos Another “hearty” (or hardy) plant to grow, the Golden Pothos is likely to be around for decades. As a trailing vine, it will thrive on the top of a cabinet or in a hanging basket. Although it prefers bright, indirect light, it will likely adapt in a darker environment or accept fluorescent lighting as its light source. The golden pothos is also forgiving if the watering schedule isn’t quite followed. Succulents Succulents make a great gift, especially on Valentine’s Day. They have the ability to provide tropical appeal without asking for much in the way of care, and they bring a feeling of zen to any space. Succulents make a statement, so giving one as a gift offers an experience for your sweetheart that will last long after the rosebuds would have faded. Seeds or Bulbs If you require a smaller gift, your love interest is in the middle of a move or you’re shipping something across the country, why not consider seeds or bulbs? Especially for those who enjoy gardening, seeds or bulbs will likely deepen a connection between your sweetheart and you based on your thoughtfulness. You can also plant the seeds or bulbs and allow your gift to grow with the seasons. For example, tulips likely won’t be above the soil level for several more weeks, but your loved one will think of you when those plants finally bloom. Daffodils and crocus are two options that might be blooming as the holiday arrives, depending on where you live. As you shop for plants this Valentine’s Day, check with your local nurseries for advice about what plants to purchase and how to care for them. One benefit of shopping locally is that many selections will already be potted, eliminating the plastic packaging and pots. Of course, there are many online merchants who ship plants and aim to minimize waste, so do your research and email companies if you have any questions. Images via Shutterstock

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Plants to give your loved one this Valentine’s Day

Four tiny pavilions make up a low-impact forest home in Mexico

November 13, 2019 by  
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A family that enjoys nature together, stays together. That’s the idea behind the amazing, nature-inspired Casa de Bosque by Mexican architectural firm, WEYES Studio . Tucked into a lush forest, the family home is comprised of four small glass-and-brick structures, all linked by a series of outdoor walkways that weave through the treetops. Located in a large forest just outside of Santiago, Nuevo León, the home features an ingenious design that ensures the human-made structures find true harmony with their natural surroundings. Wrapped in lush vegetation, the four pavilions were all installed with ultimate care to reduce their impact on the landscape. Related: A cluster of coast forest cabins brings a nature-loving family closer together The home is comprised of four compact, concrete-framed, glass cabins . The layout was guided by the existing trees and roots, and the team took care to safeguard the 17 trees that made up the building site. The cabins are connected by stairs, corridors and exterior bridges that run in tune with the topography, rising and weaving through the tree canopy. Out of the four tiny pavilions , the largest is 485 square feet and houses the main living area, which comes complete with a terrace and an interior patio. There is also a garage and storage unit, a private resting pavilion and another private area that is designed to be a guest home or office space. According to the architects, they built the entire home with simplicity and sustainability in mind. “You see a simple construction, without technical complications, with a lot of detail in the placement of its materials,” the firm said. “There is a wide variety of apparent materials that will age with dignity over time and will blend with the surroundings. We translated the love for nature and the original lifestyle of users into a “minimal footprint”; not to destroy natural contexts but to build in conjunction with them.” In addition to its low-impact design, the cabins were all built with passive energy systems. With reducing consumption at the forefront of the design, the homes were strategically positioned to take advantage of the shade of the trees and natural cross ventilation. To help maintain a constant temperature indoors, even during the winter, double walls made out of baked clay brick were used in the construction. Additionally, the cabins use minimal electricity thanks to natural lighting that filters through multiple windows and skylights. + WEYES Studio Via ArchDaily Photography by The Raws via WEYES Studio

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Four tiny pavilions make up a low-impact forest home in Mexico

Tacoma’s Dune Peninsula: from slag heap to beloved park

November 13, 2019 by  
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On a gorgeous fall day, people jog and walk dogs along Tacoma’s waterfront in the new Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park . Locals appreciate the almost miraculous transformation of this land. The human-made peninsula, named for the science-fiction book by Tacoma author Frank Herbert, was built over an accumulation of slag a manufacturer dumped into Puget Sound for 70 years. As Tacoma Park Board Commissioner Erik Hanberg said in a news release, “The theme in ‘Dune’ of a world destroyed by environmental catastrophe drew in part from Frank Herbert’s life experiences in Tacoma, which in the 1950s was one of the nation’s most polluted cities. The characters in the novel have a goal to ‘terraform’ their planet back to its inhabitable origins. That’s what we’ve done here. We have terraformed a polluted wasteland into a beautiful environment for all to enjoy.” Related: Recycled botanical garden in Seattle brings visitors decades of joy The 11-acre addition to Point Defiance Park opened in July. The new Wilson Way bridge also opened, connecting Point Defiance Park to Ruston Way. Bicyclists , runners and walkers have long bemoaned the lack of connection between trails at this point, now solved by the new bridge. The most fun part of the design is a series of six slides connecting the park with the marina below. Stairs nearby offer another way to get down the slope, or a way to get back up, for those who want to repeat the slide experience — sometimes over and over. Concerts and other outdoor events have a new venue in the park’s Cambia Legacy Lawn. The paved Frank Herbert Trail provides a pedestrian path. Developers had a complex job of building this project around so many active uses, competing interests and different jurisdictions, according to Clayton Beaudoin, the principal of landscape architecture firm Site Workshop . This Seattle -based landscape architecture firm worked with Metro Parks Tacoma on designing the cleanup and layout of Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance. Metro Parks commissioned Adam Kuby and Nichole Rathburn to create site-specific artworks. Kuby’s work, Alluvion, uses steel pipes to suggest the smelter smokestack of the former ASARCO plant, long infamous for wafting “the Tacoma aroma” over the city. Rathburn’s Little Makers, a series of bronze forms, are based on the novel Dune, drawing parallels between the book’s plot and the transformation of a slag pile into a park. Beaudoin talked to Inhabitat about the transformation from slag heap to beloved new park. Inhabitat: What was this site like before you started building the park? Beaudoin: A portion of the site was occupied by the Tacoma Yacht Club, including their clubhouse, access road and parking. The other portion of the site was generally flat and covered with yard soils from the North Tacoma remediation project. There was no vegetation or infrastructure. Inhabitat: Tell us about the toxic slag — what were its risks to people? Beaudoin: The contaminants of concern (COCs) were lead and arsenic . When a new fracture face opened up, which happened as the slag weathered, small amounts of lead and arsenic would make their way into Commencement Bay, which caused heavy metal loading. The shoreline armoring and capping of the peninsula, which is located beneath the park, eliminates the metal loading to Commencement Bay. In addition, the slag could be ingested either by inhalation or eating it. The cap allows people to be on the peninsula and keeps them from having contact with the slag. Lead ingestion can cause severe mental impairment, and arsenic is a carcinogen. Inhabitat: How did you move it and where did the toxic slag go? Beaudoin: As part of the shoreline armoring, the slag was excavated to a 2:1 slope, so the shoreline armoring would be stable over time. The slag was moved using conventional construction equipment (excavator, articulated dump trucks and dozers). The excavated slag was placed on the peninsula (in the Yacht Club parking lot and under the park). The elevation of the peninsula was raised 10 to 20 feet to accommodate the slag and contaminated soil. This lowered the carbon footprint of the project by keeping the contamination onsite and not hauling it offsite. The capping system was then placed on top of the contaminated slag and soil. Inhabitat: Describe the woven geotextile cap. What is it? How big is it? What does it do? Beaudoin: There are three kinds of caps on the peninsula: low perm asphalt, low perm concrete and a multilayer cap composed of a geocomposite clay layer, 40 mil HDPE and a geonet. Each cap type prevents water from infiltrating the contaminants and then getting into Commencement Bay, and it also prevents people from coming in contact with the contaminants. The cap system is required to have a permeability less than 1 x 10-7 cm/sec. The cap covers all of the peninsula, which is about 13 acres. It also ties into the adjacent Point Ruston site, which is also a Superfund site and has a cap underneath it. This is the largest Superfund Redevelopment Project in Region 10 of the EPA . Inhabitat: What inspired you to build the slides? Beaudoin: Together with Metro Parks, Site Workshop has designed a lot of parks and public spaces, and we’ve learned to anticipate how people use space. At the very top of the slope is an overflow parking lo,t which we imagined would be used by boaters. After launching their boats, they would have to drive their trucks to the top and race back down some 90 feet of elevation to their boats. Slides seemed like the fastest — and most fun — way to do it. We’ve been working hillside slides into many of sloped projects, and since the Dune Peninsula was never intended to host a traditional playground, this seemed like a nice way to work something playful into the trail portion of project. Inhabitat: What do you like best about the resulting park? Beaudoin: The most gratifying and inspiring result is how the citizens of Tacoma have embraced the park in all of its rustic, rough and less-manicured edges. We think Dune Peninsula resonates with people because of how it celebrates Tacoma’s cultural and natural history without beating you over the head with it. There’s plenty of mystery to discover and beauty to inhale, and people (and the wildlife !) are responding in ways that should make everyone involved feel proud. Also, for such a large site, we were able to utilize several creative features, which were constructed in especially cost-effective but impactful ways. For example, the Moment Bridge, which has become a bit of an icon for the city, is constructed from off-the-shelf concrete girders akin to what you might see over a highway. However, the design team was able to craft those basic materials in a way that make it feel special, including the “moment” at the center, the railings and the unusually shaped piers. The planting scheme was developed to utilize site soils and be delivered in a way that minimizes maintenance compared to traditional landscapes (which import topsoil and bark mulch and require persistent maintenance). Early in the project, we created test plots to evaluate how the site soils responded to various amendments, which helped minimize cost and improve the success of the plantings. + Site Workshop Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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Tacoma’s Dune Peninsula: from slag heap to beloved park

Newlyweds forgo pricey wedding to embark on an incredible tiny home adventure

July 9, 2019 by  
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When Alexandra Steltzer and her partner Jon were planning their wedding, they decided to spend the money they would have spent on a lavish, one-day ceremony on a three-month adventure traveling around the U.S. in a 19-foot-long renovated camper instead. After their wonderful trip, their love of tiny homes on wheels was sealed, and the crafty couple went on to renovate their own permanent tiny home, converting the old RV into a bohemian oasis. After Alexandra and Jon returned from their three-month adventure traveling around the United States, they felt pressured to put down roots and buy a “conventional” home. But soon after moving into a four-bedroom house, the adventurous couple began to feel trapped in the large space. They they decided to make a change, opting instead to downsize to a minimalist lifestyle . Related: Young couple build their own tiny home to avoid sky-high housing prices in the Bay Area The daring duo decided to rent their house out and move into a tiny home on wheels. After purchasing the old camper on Craigslist for just $3,000, Alexandra and Jon went to work doing much of the renovation themselves . The camper is just 240-square-feet of living space , but the savvy interior design makes it feel much larger. In the living room, a cozy L-shaped sofa sits next to the dining/working table that can be pulled away from the wall to make room for dinner guests. The kitchen is also a modern space, with a few vibrant, retro touches, such as the black and white backsplash. The kitchen comes with all of the basic amenities, such as a butcher block countertops and storage. There is also a four-burner stove. The rest of the home is just the right size for the couple, with a small bedroom tucked into the back end of the renovated camper . As for the interior design, Alexandra says that she and Jon have sourced most of the home’s decorations and furnishings secondhand. + Alexandra Steltzer Via Apartment Therapy Images via Alexandra Steltzer

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Newlyweds forgo pricey wedding to embark on an incredible tiny home adventure

Shake it up: A Q&A with Sarah Pool, co-founder of upcycled spent grain protein shake company

June 21, 2019 by  
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How this entrepreneur is combining her love of nutrition and the environment.

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Shake it up: A Q&A with Sarah Pool, co-founder of upcycled spent grain protein shake company

A sustainable meal plan filled with recipes for Earth Day

April 19, 2019 by  
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Not all food is created equal, and not all foods are healthy for the planet. You’ve seen the headlines. Manufacturing plants suck up water, pollute with chemicals and damage the surrounding landscape. Raising cattle and other livestock is also associated with earth-damaging consequences. Most environmentalists agree that plant-based products offer the best balance of nutrition and sustainability. Earth Day is right around the corner, so it’s the perfect time to focus on foods that show our love for the planet. If you’d like to curate a meal plan incorporating plant-based ingredients, seasonal goods and limited waste, here are some recipes to inspire you. Breakfast Spring offerings make for a delightfully fresh breakfast. Eggs with asparagus and spinach 1. Broil a thick slice of rustic or sourdough bread on both sides. 2. Create an indent in the center of the bread. If applicable to your diet, add prosciutto around the edges of the bread. Fill the indent with a layer of cheese (your choice) and a generous layer of spinach . Arrange small, tender pieces of asparagus around the center. Then, gently break an egg into the spinach nest. 3. Cook at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes until the eggs are set and the vegetables are tender. Add a side of sliced apricot or avocado . Related: 12 delicious and crowd-pleasing vegan brunch ideas Lunch Vegetable-waste bowl Well that doesn’t sound very appetizing, does it? Maybe we should call it, “Keep from Wasting Vegetables Bowl” instead. The goal here is to use up whatever is in the fridge , so dig deep. 1. Roast whatever veggies you have. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots, peppers, turnip, parsnip, asparagus, beans … all of them! Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake in the oven until tender. 2. In the meantime, make a cup of your favorite grain. Quinoa, brown rice, white rice, buckwheat, barley, farrow or amaranth are great options. 3. Mix it all together, and stir in your choice of beans : pinto, kidney, garbanzo, black, etc. Top with cheese, a squirt of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil or your preferred dressing. Dinner Salad starter Spring is a great time to enjoy young greens and cool-weather lettuce along with other seasonal fruits and vegetables. There are so many combinations to try, so feel free to mix it up any way you like! 1. Start with a base of arugula, green and red lettuce, romaine and/or spinach. 2. With your leafy greens in place, choose your veggies. Many of your favorites are likely in season right now. Consider beets (shredded), carrots of all colors (shredded or sliced), radishes (thinly sliced), peas (snow, snap and garden) and broccoli florets. 3. Add some fruit. Many people forget to consider fruit when putting together a salad , but early-season strawberries and spring apricots add the perfect zing to the mix. 4. For dressing, go with a vinaigrette. They are plant-based and easy to whip up, plus there are many flavor options to create. For example, a soy/mustard combination includes: 1/4 cup tamari 1/4 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar 2 tsp Dijon mustard While a traditional berry vinaigrette is made up of: 4 large strawberries or 1/3 cup raspberries or other berry of choice 1 tbsp red wine vinegar 2 tbsp agave syrup Pinch of freshly ground black pepper 5. Top with nuts. The options are endless here too. Shaved almonds, cashews, roasted filberts, pine nuts and sunflower seeds are all excellent choices. Related: How to make a meal out of leftover veggies Easy homemade dinner pizza If you are avoiding grains, create a cauliflower-crust instead of the one here. Choose any toppings that make you happy, but this recipe focuses on light spring eats. Note: The dough performs better if made the day before. Crust: 2 tbsp agave 3 cups warm water 2 packages dry active yeast 7 cups of flour 1/4 cup olive oil 3 tbsp kosher salt 1. Combine agave, yeast and water in a bowl, and allow it to sit until it becomes foamy, about five to 10 minutes. 2. Stir in the flour, olive oil and salt. 3. Knead the mixture until smooth. 4. Coat the dough with oil, place in a bowl and cover, allowing it to rise until it doubles, about one hour. 5. Divide the dough into four balls and lay these on a sheet with space between them. Cover and refrigerate overnight. You can still use the dough without this rest period with pretty good results. 6. Warm your grill. You will be using indirect heat, so heat it up and then turn off half the flames on a gas grill or move coals to one side for charcoal. 7. Roll out one ball of dough and transfer it to the grill. Make sure your toppings are prepared and nearby. Stay close to your pizza while it cooks. Transfer the stretched-out dough to the grill. Don’t worry if it is not perfectly rounded; the handmade look adds a rustic appeal. Cook the dough for one or two minutes, then flip. Move it to indirect heat for an additional one to two minutes. Continue moving it back and forth, flipping frequently until it is bubbled and cooked through. 8. Add your favorite cheese and other toppings, and continue to cook the pizza until the cheese melts, keeping it off of direct high heat. The options for toppings are endless, but our favorite combination is toasted pine nuts, spinach, fresh basil, garlic and olives. Fresh spring flavors include arugula, fennel bulbs, peas, artichoke hearts and asparagus. Dessert Vegan strawberry ice cream No meal is complete without dessert, especially when you’re honoring the Earth. We’ll give credit to our friends over at Loving it Vegan for this sweet, plant-based option. Enjoy! 1 14oz (400ml) can coconut cream 1 14oz (400ml) can coconut milk 1/2 cup (100g) white granulated sugar 1/4 cup (60ml) maple syrup 1 cup (232g) strawberry puree 1 tbsp strawberry extract 1/2 tsp salt 1. Add a can of coconut milk , a can of coconut cream, sugar and maple syrup to a pot. 2. Bring that to a simmer, stirring constantly. 3. As soon as it simmers, remove the pot from the heat and add in strawberries puree, salt and strawberry extract. 4. Blend everything until smooth. 5. Next, put the mixture into a storage container and place into the fridge to chill overnight. If you are in a hurry, place the mixture in the freezer for an hour or so. 6. Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker until it reaches your desired consistency. This can take about 20 minutes to 45 minutes. The best way to celebrate the planet is through your stomach. With the right ingredients, that’s a win-win! Images via Shutterstock

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A sustainable meal plan filled with recipes for Earth Day

Inhabitat Interview with Beth Cosmos, owner of Billygoats & Raincoats

April 5, 2019 by  
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In 2016, Beth Cosmos was fresh out of design school at the University of South Wales and volunteering at several music festivals. Eager to see the hundreds of thousands of displaced tents left after music festivals in her native U.K., Cosmos decided to combine her love of sustainability and fashion . The lightbulb moment came when she woke up to what seemed like an endless ocean of abandoned tents left behind by festival-goers at a venue. The tents were made of a good material: sturdy, waterproof and sadly destined for a landfill where it would never fully decompose. Armed with an idea, she took a few of the tents home to turn into clothes. Fast forward to 2019, and Billygoats & Raincoats is now Cosmos’ full-time job. We talked to Cosmos about her passion project and what’s next for the brand. Inhabitat: “Have you always been passionate about sustainability?” Cosmos: “Most definitely, I was that uni housemate who reinforced what exactly could be recycled or not and in which bags … super fun housemate, right?” Inhabitat: “You initially got the idea for Billygoats & Raincoats after noticing leftover tents at a festival. Were you looking for a project at the time?” Cosmos: “It’s an incredibly wasteful and upsetting sight to see. I was already designing children’s raincoats and seeking out the most sustainable options fabric -wise. The realization of the scale of waste and need for an alternative to using new fabrics came together perfectly, really.” Related: Housing pods made of recycled plastic offer an alternative to festival tent waste Inhabitat: “Tell us about your company’s zero-waste initiative. How do you use each part of the tent?” Cosmos: “All the best parts, nicest weight and condition fabrics are used for the kids coats. I tend to use all the primary colors first, smaller panels of the good stuff go to the tote bags. If there are any pieces with marks, I use them in reverse for the linings of the bags. Blacks, grays and darker colors are being saved for my big kid, AKA adult’s wear, range. I have designed the range and will be launching a Kickstarter very soon to help fund that collection, so keep a look out on our Instagram for a heads up on when that’s going to be launched. There will be opportunities to win lots of goodies, like kids coats, one-offs and custom adult coats. I use all the fly nets for pouches on bags and lining on pockets, and they will be used as a large part of the lining in the big kid range. Guy lines have a few uses, namely pocket hooks and ties on packaging and will be getting used a lot more in the future as handy hooks. I use the ground sheets for packaging , and everything else gets cleaned and stored until I think of something to do with it. There is a lot of hauling going on.” Inhabitat: “Any plans for repurposing the coats once children grow out of them?” Cosmos: “The coats are made to a very high standard and designed to fit children for more than a year; once one cool kid grows out of the coat, it would be great to see the coat handed down. The coats can be sent back to us at the end of their life. We will offer 50 percent off the next purchase, and we will reuse the salvageable fabric.” Inhabitat: “How do you make the coats breathable with such a notoriously durable material? Do the coats get ‘muggy’ or ‘clammy’ at all?” Cosmos: “The coats are a very loose fitting, boxy shape that allows children to move freely in, and they are designed to be worn layered up.” Inhabitat: “Are you working with any festival companies directly?” Cosmos: “We will be working with and recovering tents from Glastonbury, Boomtown and Camp Bestival this year. We hope to be working very closely with them this time next year. We’re planning very exciting collaborations.” Inhabitat: “What’s next for Billygoats and Raincoats?” Cosmos: “To take over the world of rainwear, of course!” To check out Billygoats & Raincoats, head to its  website or Instagram page . + Billygoats & Raincoats Images via Billygoats & Raincoats

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Inhabitat Interview with Beth Cosmos, owner of Billygoats & Raincoats

A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for family

December 11, 2018 by  
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When it comes to family, we want to offer the best of the best. The smartest way to gift high-quality gifts to your loved ones is by shopping sustainably. Eco-friendly products (and experiences) are made with love and care for people and the planet. Here are some of our top picks for everyone in your family. For mom: Eco-friendly yoga mats Mom deserves some ‘me’ time. Whether she is an avid yogi or is just getting started, this plant-based yoga mat is made with cork . It’s also free of harsh chemicals, antibacterial and odor-free. The cork is sustainable and helps provide a stronger grip. Hobby classes Does your mom love to cook? Maybe she could spend hours making pottery , or perhaps she enjoys painting. No matter her preferences, buy a pass or certificate for classes that interest her. This is a thoughtful gift of experience, which will leave her with lovely memories for years to come. Sweaters Who doesn’t love a snuggly sweater? We love the various options from Patagonia — the company is a champion for the environment, plus their products are built to last whether Mom likes to sit on the couch in her sweater or explore the great outdoors. Sustainable jewelry Add a little extra bling to your mom’s envy-inducing jewelry box with eco-friendly, ethical accessories. There are many beautiful, unique options from 31Bits , which works with women artisans in Uganda, Indonesia and the U.S. to provide fair working conditions and wages as well as healthcare, mentorship, counseling and more. For dad: Organic skincare There is no better way to show your love for someone than by giving them the gift of healthy skin. Whether it is something to moisturize the rough patches under a beard, something to soothe cracked knuckles or a myriad of products, gift Dad with organic skincare that will allow him to pamper himself daily. We love this line , which is made from recycled coffee grounds and only uses plant-based packaging. Watches Adorn Dad’s wrist with a new watch that will keep him punctual and stylish. Be sure to choose a brand with the environment in mind, like WeWood . WeWood offers wood watches free of toxic, artificial materials. Plus, WeWood plants a tree for each watch sold, and these wooden watches are sure to stand out among a sea of their metallic counterparts. Related: Inhabitat test drives a gorgeous WeWood watch Wool shirts Wool is incredibly durable with the ability to withstand the coldest of temperatures and wick away moisture with ease. Add a sleek wool shirt to Dad’s closet with options like Ramblers Way , a family-owned business in the U.S. that is dedicated to respecting the sheep, the environment and the people. The company uses 100 percent wool and donates time and money to local causes ranging from environmental conservation to human need to arts and education. Vegan or recycled leather jackets The jokes might be lame, but Dad can at least look cool in an environmentally responsible leather jacket. There are many vegan options on the market, or you can embrace reuse with a jacked from Better World Fashion . These jackets are made from recycled leather and the buttons are made with recycled metal. The certified B corp also relies on responsible production methods, uses zero water or chemicals and creates zero waste. For siblings: Eco-friendly subscription boxes Subscription boxes are the gift that keeps on giving, but it is important to find ones that advocate for the environment. Surprise your siblings month after month with a subscription to companies like the Bloomin’ Bin , Feeling Fab , KloverBox , MightyFix  and more. Everlane clothing With a commitment to ethical, sustainable fashion, Everlane offers eco-friendly unisex clothing, shoes and accessories that are sure to please. Be sure to browse the ReNew collection , which offers puffer coats, pullover sweaters and parkas all made from recycled water bottles. Zero-waste kit Help your siblings lower their carbon footprints (truly the best gift of all) by gifting them a zero-waste kit. Specifically, we recommend the {Zero} Waste Kit , which includes a glass jar with a leak-proof, organic bamboo lid; a sustainable cork sleeve for mugs; a reusable, ethically-sourced bamboo dual utensil; a stainless steel straw with an eco-friendly cleaner; a napkin made from upcycled fabric scraps; a knife with a ceramic blade and a bamboo handle; and organic cotton produce bags. Whew! That’s a lot of bang for your buck, and everything your loved ones could need to really embrace the zero-waste lifestyle. Indoor garden With a snappy indoor garden , your siblings can grow their very own food for weeks, months and years to come. We love Click + Grow , which is energy-efficient, small space-friendly and easy to use. In our own tests, we had sprouts from seed in just two days! It’s a great gift for those who would love to grow their own food, but might not have a lot of time or space to do so. For grandparents: Natural candles Nothing beats visiting your grandparents and taking in the comforting scents that fill their home (especially if they love to bake!). Add to the aroma with natural candles. Standard, store-bought candles can be toxic, so be sure to find sustainable candles made from responsibly sourced soy, coconut or palm wax. Also, ensure the wick is lead-free and made with cotton. Check Etsy for a wide range of handmade, eco-friendly candles. Related: Making soy candles for the holidays Birdhouses We all get a bit of joy from hearing birds chirp and watching as they soar above us. Gift this joy to Grandma and Grandpa by giving them a beautiful, handcrafted birdhouse that will spruce up their yard and bring cheerful birds around each day. Reading subscriptions Another gift that continues long after the holidays are over, a subscription for books, magazines or newspapers are an excellent present for grandparents who love to read. If they are open to going digital, it’ll save paper — otherwise, encourage them to recycle or upcycle the products when they have finished them! Choose their favorite media and topics, or introduce them to some reading that focuses on sustainability. Family photos Most grandparents would love to receive pictures of their family to place around their homes. Have your images printed with eco-friendly ink on sustainable paper , and then frame it in reclaimed wood or recycled materials. If you really want to go all out, organize a photoshoot with the whole family, and then frame those photos for a sweet sentiment. Images via George Dolgikh , Urbivore , Cally Lawson , Rocknwool , Artem Bali , Grums Aarhus , Ramblers Way , Franklin Heijnen , Kloverbox , Everlane , Alex Mortensen / {Zero} Waste Kit , Click + Grow , Joanna Kosinska , Nora Vellinga , Jonas Jacobsson , Shutterstock and Inhabitat

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A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for family

A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for travelers

December 10, 2018 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

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For those who will be traveling far and wide in the new year, make sure their journeys are eco-friendly with an array of green gifts that will take them to the beaches, the forests or the mountaintops. Here are some of our favorite picks for those who enjoy living a nomadic lifestyle. Transit tickets to a nearby destination It’s no secret that air travel has a massive carbon footprint . To scratch the travel bug itch, gift loved ones with tickets for more sustainable forms of transportation to local destinations. Check out bike-shares, trains, buses or other public transit options to an exciting or interesting place. Airbnb stays The sharing economy has been thrust into the spotlight thanks to services like Airbnb . With thousands of incredible homestays, this makes a great gift for the explorers in your life. Check out cabins, tiny homes and more . Hammocks Give your favorite explorer a hammock, so they can relax or nap wherever the road takes them! These Yellow Leaf Hammocks are handcrafted by artisan weavers, so your purchase supports these workers and their families. There are 100 percent cotton options available, and all of these hammocks are weather-proof and resistant to fading. Solar-powered charger Even if your gift recipient loves to go off the grid, cellphones can be important to have on hand in times of emergencies. A solar-powered charger is great for camping, hiking or traveling, and this option even has a built-in LED flashlight. Journals Whether they want to write about or sketch their adventures, your loved ones will adore this handmade journal to accompany and record their journeys. The journal is ethically crafted from Lokta paper (a tree-free, renewable resource) and protected with a durable felt cover and a leather belt or cloth tie. Explore Local Box Created by a kindred traveling spirit, the Explore Local Box is an excellent subscription service for the adventurers in your life. Each month, the company chooses a city (one that the team has explored previously) and fills a box with locally made goods from that area. You’ll find art, household items, food and more each month. It’s a gift that keeps on giving! Backpacks Hiking, camping and, of course, backpacking are nearly impossible to do without a sturdy, reliable backpack to carry one’s necessities. Osprey offers backpacks for every type of explorer, and each bag has plenty of storage space and functional features to make them comfortable and efficient. Plus, these backpacks are built to last (the company will gladly repair any of its products, no matter the purchase date) — a feature we love. Hydro Flask Staying hydrated is crucial to a successful journey, which is why a Hydro Flask is the perfect gift for globetrotters. The company offers a variety of drink receptacles, from water bottles that attach to backpacks to coffee mugs, wine carriers and more. Each container comes in a variety of colors, or customize one for an extra special present. Related: Get ready for an adventure with this ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials Boots A trusty pair of boots can take you through miles and miles of mountains, hills, deserts, forests and more. Whether your recipient is scaling a mountain or shuffling through the snow in the driveway, these boots by KEEN will take them far. Plus, KEEN loves to give back and is on a mission to hit zero-waste at its headquarters. Tree tents Take an explorer to new heights with a tent that lets them sleep among the treetops. We’ve mentioned our love for Tentsile’s tree tents time and time again , and we also appreciate that the company plants trees to promote healthy forests. You can also check out Tree Tents , a U.K.-based company that offers prefab glamping pods that are locally and responsibly sourced. This company also proudly partners with communities to plant trees. Visit.org experiences For a gift that takes travelers off the beaten path, check out Visit.org . This website offers a wide array of experiences around the world that range from yoga classes in NYC to artisan workshops in Peru to community tree planting events in South Africa. Each experience aids an important cause, and you can even search by location or type of cause. Images via Simon Migaj , Jack Anstey , Airbnb , Yellow Leaf Hammocks , Etsy , Explore Local Box , Adrian , KEEN , Tentsile , Lukas Budimaier  and Shutterstock

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A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for travelers

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