Indie comic book characters are brought to life as unique cardboard cutouts

September 24, 2020 by  
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After creating a life-size board game out of cardboard , Luanga ‘Lue’ Nuwame has combined his love of cardboard crafting with another passion — rare comic book action figures. The self-proclaimed “comic book nerdboy” recently launched a Kickstarter for unique handmade cardboard cutouts of some of his favorite indie comic book characters. In a collection called ‘ Ultimate Articulated Cardboard Action Cut-Outs ,’ Nuwame has meticulously put together a 15-figurine set — including one of the earliest Black comic book heroes, Ace Harlem — that are available exclusively on Kickstarter. Created as a limited one-time release, the 15 figurines in The Ultimate Articulated Cardboard Action Cut-Outs series were all made by hand from cardboard , photo paper, glue, magnets, paint and bamboo picks by Nuwame in his living room. As articulated cutouts, each magnetic figurine can be moved into a variety of poses. His Kickstarter videos show how he puts each figurine together with bamboo toothpicks and glue. Related: Parent shares process of making life-size board game from cardboard “Since the start of the 2020 pandemic , I noticed many of my fellow comic book creators, in addition to myself, have experienced challenges when it comes to sharing our characters and stories with the public,” Nuwame explained on Kickstarter. “Many of us have amazing comics to share with current fans and potential new ones, but the ongoing cancellations of comic book conventions have made expanding audiences more difficult. However, this new unfortunate reality spawned an idea!” In addition to the inclusion of classic but perhaps little-known comic book character favorites, Nuwame has also included more recent characters including those from his own self-published line of comic books. Characters include the likes of Ace Harlem, a golden age comic book detective hero; Lacrossa, a super heroine of Nuwame’s creation from 2016; and a glow-in-the-dark horror character called The Muffenman. The one-of-a-kind cardboard figurines are only available for purchase on Kickstarter through September. + Ultimate Articulated Cardboard Comic Book Action Cut-Outs Images via Luanga ‘Lue’ Nuwame

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Indie comic book characters are brought to life as unique cardboard cutouts

Indie comic book characters are brought to life as unique cardboard cutouts

September 24, 2020 by  
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After creating a life-size board game out of cardboard , Luanga ‘Lue’ Nuwame has combined his love of cardboard crafting with another passion — rare comic book action figures. The self-proclaimed “comic book nerdboy” recently launched a Kickstarter for unique handmade cardboard cutouts of some of his favorite indie comic book characters. In a collection called ‘ Ultimate Articulated Cardboard Action Cut-Outs ,’ Nuwame has meticulously put together a 15-figurine set — including one of the earliest Black comic book heroes, Ace Harlem — that are available exclusively on Kickstarter. Created as a limited one-time release, the 15 figurines in The Ultimate Articulated Cardboard Action Cut-Outs series were all made by hand from cardboard , photo paper, glue, magnets, paint and bamboo picks by Nuwame in his living room. As articulated cutouts, each magnetic figurine can be moved into a variety of poses. His Kickstarter videos show how he puts each figurine together with bamboo toothpicks and glue. Related: Parent shares process of making life-size board game from cardboard “Since the start of the 2020 pandemic , I noticed many of my fellow comic book creators, in addition to myself, have experienced challenges when it comes to sharing our characters and stories with the public,” Nuwame explained on Kickstarter. “Many of us have amazing comics to share with current fans and potential new ones, but the ongoing cancellations of comic book conventions have made expanding audiences more difficult. However, this new unfortunate reality spawned an idea!” In addition to the inclusion of classic but perhaps little-known comic book character favorites, Nuwame has also included more recent characters including those from his own self-published line of comic books. Characters include the likes of Ace Harlem, a golden age comic book detective hero; Lacrossa, a super heroine of Nuwame’s creation from 2016; and a glow-in-the-dark horror character called The Muffenman. The one-of-a-kind cardboard figurines are only available for purchase on Kickstarter through September. + Ultimate Articulated Cardboard Comic Book Action Cut-Outs Images via Luanga ‘Lue’ Nuwame

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Indie comic book characters are brought to life as unique cardboard cutouts

Wild in Africa jewelry supports wildlife conservation charities

August 14, 2020 by  
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When National Geographic filmmaker Shannon Wild moved to Africa in 2013 to make wildlife documentaries, she found herself in the hospital after a near-death experience in Masai Mara. After pushing her body to the point of complete exhaustion for her career, she was medevaced to Nairobi and became bedridden for three months. Unable to even hold a camera initially, and with the knowledge that going back into the field would take months of stamina-building physical therapy, she started a grueling 6-month recovery period. Shannon had built up a collection of beaded bracelets throughout her travels, and one day, yearning for a creative outlet, she began dismantling and redesigning them. Using her past experience in graphic design and marketing, she was able to establish a business, Wild In Africa – Bracelets for Wildlife , to commemorate her healing journey and the love for animals and wildlife that brought her to Africa in the first place. Related: Make a statement with Serendipitous Project’s eco-friendly jewelry Today, Wild responsibly sources beads from all over the world and donates 50% of the purchase price of the Wild in Africa jewelry to 10 separate wildlife charities . The gender-neutral bracelets include a combination of stone beads, tribal charms and pendants that pay homage to the colors and textures found in the natural world. On the company’s website, the charity that each bracelet supports is outlined on the product’s page. It includes a general description of the organization’s values and goals, from bringing an end to the global rhino horn trade to conservation plans for Zambian carnivores. There is also a link to the charity so customers can learn more about where their contributions are going. The packaging is eco-friendly and recyclable , and materials are sustainably sourced. The company also offers a membership for first access to special, limited-edition bracelets and behind-the-scenes looks at featured charities. + Wild in Africa Images via Wild in Africa

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Reusable packaging provides untapped payoffs for business

August 13, 2020 by  
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Reusable packaging provides untapped payoffs for business Joana Kleine Jäger Thu, 08/13/2020 – 01:45 Remember the time when milk was delivered to your door in reusable glass bottles? If not, you were probably born during the plastics-era, which began about 50 years ago. Until the 1980s, glass or cotton bags were the go-to packaging materials for many products, such as milk and flour. Today, plastic has taken over. In 2018, 40 percent of the 360 million tonnes of plastics produced globally were converted to packaging. Prized for its durability and ultimate convenience, the plastic addiction from business to consumer is proving hard to shift. But the increasing presence of post-consumer plastic littering the natural environment is a sobering reminder of the extent of damage our love affair with plastic has delivered. Ultimately, we cannot fix this with recycling alone. Alternative materials and models such as bio-based packaging and reuse offer a prime opportunity to extend the lifetime of valuable materials and deliver financial savings to businesses. The case for reusable packaging If we succeed in building and scaling reuse systems, they will outperform single-use systems. This not only benefits the environment but also businesses. About 95 percent of the value of plastic packaging material ($83 to $124 billion annually) is lost to the economy after a very short first-use cycle. Most of it ends up in our environment. The retailer also needs to invest in marketing the benefits and exciting consumers about the opportunity to change to a circular packaging model. In contrast, research and on-the ground experiences with reusable packaging by Searious Business, a solution provider for zero plastic waste practices, show yearly financial savings of up to 30 percent compared to throw-away versions. Thus, reusable packaging is not only key to achieving a circular economy and solving the plastic pollution problem, but also equally presents untapped business potential. To grasp this potential, business must explore collaborations and capacity sharing to achieve wide-scale success and profit. Benefits of teaming up Only when key stakeholders align their efforts can the industry change towards a paradigm of reuse. Replacing single-use with reusable packaging may seem straightforward — technically speaking. Most reuse concepts, such as “bring your own” are rather simple. However, our current packaging system is geared toward single-use packaging. Take the food sector, for example. In today’s fast-paced world, ready-made meals are the preferred option for many consumers. Producers parcel ready-made food in small portions in thoughtfully designed packaging, which ends up in the bin soon after consumption. Reusable packaging provides an environmentally friendlier, financially viable alternative: Together with three major retailers, Searious Business has identified opportunities to reduce carbon footprint by 43 tonnes per year through reusable food containers. Financial pay-offs have appeared within eight months. Only when key stakeholders align their efforts can the industry change towards a paradigm of reuse. However, these results cannot be achieved alone. They require close collaboration with waste management players, cleaning facilities and logistics companies. Where the packaging was previously disposed of, the retailer needs to arrange collection points, ensure timely collection by the cleaners and likewise timely return so that the packing can be reused. The retailer also needs to invest in marketing the benefits and exciting consumers about the opportunity to change to a circular packaging model, so that the system is well used and adequate scale can be realized to make a successful change. Numerous stakeholders need to engage in coordinated actions to reduce plastic waste and gain financial benefit for all parties involved. For reuse platforms to be financially viable and make an impact, scale up through collaboration and capacity sharing is inevitable. How to get started As the above example demonstrates, collaborations are crucial for reuse endeavors. But how can a business get started? Circle Economy’s guide for collaborations in a circular economy directs businesses through the process of identifying attractive partners and establishing successful partnerships. The impact organization found that in scoping a potential new collaboration, businesses first need to understand the local context, market and material flows. This includes relevant legislation, consumption habits, the distance to sourcing and the existing reuse infrastructure, which can vastly differ between locations. Choosing the right partner to implement reuse packaging systems further depends on the company vision. Once a business has a clear vision for the future, it needs to assess which capabilities and resources are needed to reach this vision and what can be filled internally. Gaps identified can be filled by partners. Crucial roles a partner can take Based on the gaps identified, businesses can determine which type of collaboration they need to make the circular transition happen. To illustrate this process, we identify three major roles that a reusable packaging partner can take on, as well as five significant characteristics. 1. When McDonald’s and Burger King joined food delivery platform Deliveroo, they did not only want to meet evolving consumer demands for mobile ordering. They also recognized the benefits of serving as each other’s impact extenders. When competitors collaborate to reach common goals, they can learn together, overcome hurdles, increase volume and scale, share investments or establish standardization of packaging. Such “coopetition” is often pooled under reuse platforms such as Deliveroo. 2. Businesses looking to introduce reusable packaging also can partner with companies that serve as promoters, and help to make reusable packaging accepted and ordinary (again) — or even desirable — through marketing campaigns. Social enterprise Dopper, known for its reusable water bottles, has collaborated with the Amsterdam-based Van Gogh museum to create a Special Edition of their bottles with prints of the famous painter’s works. 3. Returnable packaging schemes such as BarePack meal containers in Singapore and RePack packages in Europe work much in the same way that library books are borrowed, enjoyed and returned. With both consumers and businesses recognizing their environmental and financial benefits, these schemes are gaining market share and increasingly becoming part of our daily lives. Here, we see how businesses tapping into the potential of product-service-systems and product-life-extension business models can serve as use-phase-supporters or businesses seeking to introduce reusable packaging. As reuse system operators, BarePack and RePack support businesses with elements such as (reverse) logistics, cleaning and refilling. What makes a winning partner Deciphering the gaps that your business needs filled is the first step, but the nitty-gritty is crucial too: certain characteristics that can amplify your partnership also should be on your radar. Partnering companies should aim to find a strategic fit: your vision on circularity aligns and your market, context and geographical fit. While knowledge exchange collaborations might operate globally, geographical proximity is needed to ensure resource efficiency and profitability when implementing reusable packaging on the ground. Reusable packaging is a playground for innovation, so creativity is a desirable characteristic: out-of-the-box thinking and novel business models. Open communication and collaborative learning are also important as they can enable joint progress towards successful reuse models and uncertainties can be reduced. Partners should also show alignment with the mission. Being on the same page in terms of sharing interests and benefits will result in flexibility. Finally, circular economy collaborations are characterized by mutual dependence and long-term goals. Therefore, a partner should show commitment in terms of wanting the change and investing resources. Pull Quote The retailer also needs to invest in marketing the benefits and exciting consumers about the opportunity to change to a circular packaging model. Only when key stakeholders align their efforts can the industry change towards a paradigm of reuse. Choosing the right partner to implement reuse packaging systems further depends on the company vision. Contributors Willemijn Peeters Topics Design & Packaging Circular Economy Plastic Circle Economy Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Reusable packaging comes in many forms. Shutterstock Oleksandra Naumenko Close Authorship

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How sustainability vets align their work-life identities

August 10, 2020 by  
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How sustainability vets align their work-life identities Ellen Weinreb Mon, 08/10/2020 – 01:00 As our professional colleagues in the Sustainability Veterans group expressed their sense of overwhelm and concern around the coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter, we also reflected on how it relates to our lives, and vice versa. Sustainability Veterans is a group of professionals who have had leadership roles in corporate sustainability. We are now exploring new ways to further engage and make a difference by bringing together our collective intellectual, experiential, emotional and social capital — independent from any individual company — to help the next generation of sustainability leaders achieve success. To that end, we asked our vets to offer a succinct response to this question: The sustainability profession includes an identity that extends outside the workplace as much as inside the workplace. How does that play out in your personal life, in ways good and bad, and how has that affected you?  Their answers covered stories of leadership, perspective and passion. Here’s what they had to say: Understanding what matters most: Organizations ask employees to leave their personal passions at the door and pick them up on the way home. I was very fortunate to take my love of the environment and lead sustainability. However, I quickly learned that everyone was starting from a different place. Coffee and conversations about what mattered most personally and professionally helped me understand where sustainability could be an enabler and offer an invitation to their own sustainability learning journey. — Mark Buckley is founder of One Boat Collaborative and former vice president of sustainability at Staples. Sustainability is everyone’s job : Many saw me as the corporate “queen of green,” resulting in funny, and occasionally frustrating, encounters. Funny: I’d endure good-natured teasing from coworkers (“How many trees are you killing, Jackie?”), and others would hide their single-use water bottles or apologize for other eco-indiscretions. Frustrating: Some people thought sustainability was someone else’s job. I had to consistently educate others in the company that sustainability is everyone’s job (and show up early to run large print jobs!). — Jacqueline Drumheller evolved her career in corporate environmental compliance to a role launching and spearheading Alaska Airlines’ formal sustainability program. A welcome surprise: Becoming a spokesperson for a company was a surprise part of the role of chief responsibility officer, but a welcome surprise. It introduced me to so many passionate, knowledgeable people. I learned so much from them and am eternally grateful for the opportunity. — Trisa Thompson is a lawyer and former Dell Technologies’ chief responsibility officer. Walking the talk : I’m glad to have insights that should inform my behavior, but I don’t always succeed. Then I castigate myself and worry my peers are judging me. Even harder is walking the line between providing useful information and being sanctimonious when trying to educate others. I try to remember to be gentle with myself and with others! — Kathrin Winkler is former chief sustainability officer for EMC, co-founder of Sustainability Veterans and editor at large for GreenBiz. Power of individual actions: As a sustainability professional, I have observed how individual actions can lead to significant outcomes. In the workplace, I oversaw the activities of many employees who brought their passion, knowledge and energy to help build impactful social and environmental programs. I am committed in my personal life to leveraging my own individual power and encouraging those around me to make a positive difference in the world. — Cecily Joseph is the former vice president of corporate responsibility at Symantec. She serves as chair of the Net Impact board of directors and expert in residence at the Presidio Graduate School. Work on behalf of others : Sustainability professionals should expect to live public lives. As we work across competing positions and underlying social, political and economic interests, our honesty, reliability and personal behaviors become transparent and essential to the work. Our relationships are as important — or perhaps even more important — than our technical skills and knowledge. Our work is on behalf of others rather than ourselves, forging trusting relationships within and outside of our organizations. — Bart Alexander is former chief corporate responsibility officer at Molson Coors. He consults on leading sustainable change through Alexander & Associates and climate change action through Plan C Advisors. A lifetime commitment : My environmental identity was woken up in the late 1980s. I first took it into my personal life and then the workplace, which led to a complete career change. The passion moved beyond career to become a vocation, then a lifetime commitment. Along the way I got labeled the Queen of Green and Green Goddess (a Nike reference). But as Bill McDonough would say, “Negligence starts tomorrow,” so I learned to embrace it. — Sarah Severn is principal of Severn Consulting. She spent over two decades in senior sustainability roles at Nike, leading strategy, stakeholder engagement and championing systems thinking and collaborative change. Finding a balance : In my career, sustainability means looking at decisions to be made from different vantage points; how do my actions affect others, the environment and the budget. Over time, I have taken this approach with projects at home as well. Once the right balance is determined and the decision made, it is important to help people (family, friends, co-workers) understand the choice. This triple-bottom-line approach to decision making has proven to work for me. — Paul Murray , president of Integrated Sustainable Strategies, is retired vice president of sustainability at Shaw Industries. He was previously director of sustainability at Herman Miller. Communicating to non-experts: Despite spending my entire working time focused on sustainability issues and being passionate about making sustainable decisions on how I lived my personal life, I found it challenging to understand what was communicated (or not) about the sustainability value of the products I was purchasing. I used that frustration as I worked with our business units to make sure that our communications on things like our biobased polymers and fibers could be understood by people who weren’t sustainability experts. — Dawn Rittenhouse was director of sustainable development for the DuPont Company from 1998 until 2019. Permeates everything: When I go through my own checklist of what I want in my job, I have caught myself forgetting to list sustainability. It so permeates all of me, that is a given. It is the lens through which I see the world. — Ellen Weinreb is a sustainability and ESG recruiter, founder of Weinreb Group and co-founder Sustainability Veterans Contributors Kathrin Winkler Topics Leadership State of the Profession Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage / Shutterstock

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Where to find eco-friendly engagement and wedding rings

July 16, 2020 by  
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Your engagement and wedding rings are a symbol of your eternal love and commitment to your spouse. If you’re eco-minded, they should also be a testament to your love for and commitment to the planet. So when selecting your metal and gem rings, do so with extra attention to the material origin and manufacturing process. We’ve made it easier with a roundup of some of the best sustainable jewelers. Jewelry-making, at its core, uses natural or eco-friendly materials and sustainable methods, but mass-production has led to pollution , over-harvesting and poor working conditions for thousands of people in the industry. The main issue is the mining process as well as the conflicts common to the areas around mines. As these environmental and humanitarian issues have come to light, a variety of companies have stepped in to do some of the foundational ethical research for you, ensuring you’re making the best wedding ring choice for yourself, your partner and the planet.  Related: How to have a more sustainable wedding Melissa Joy Manning With a Green-certified shop in Berkeley, California and a similar studio in New York City, Melissa Joy Manning is an honorable choice for your wedding rings. Not only is the manufacturing process sustainable, but all products are handmade using recycled precious metals . Packaging is made from recycled materials as well. Plus, carbon offsetting counterbalances any shipping emissions. Ken and Dana Design With each piece handcrafted in NYC, Ken and Dana Design avoids overseas manufacturing and ensures a generous living wage to the workers along the supply chain. All jewelry uses recycled metals to curb the impact caused by sourcing virgin materials. Diamonds are sourced from all Kimberley Process-compliant suppliers, which is a certification system that prohibits the trading of diamonds from conflict regions. Ken and Dana Design also offers Canadian-origin and lab-grown diamonds. A portion of each sale is donated to Earthworks and Cool Effect, organizations aimed at protecting the environment. Couple If diamonds are your dream, Couple.co is a great option for sourcing a ring you know has been thoughtfully made. Each diamond must first be certified by the International Gemological Institute, then only the best are personally selected by the in-house gemologist. For an eco-friendly and 100% ethically sourced and produced option, you can also select lab-grown diamonds. Aurate New York For a combination of minimalist design and high diamond traceability practices, Aurate New York is a solid choice. The gold is 100% recycled, and the company employs a process to ensure each piece is sustainably handmade, casted, polished and perfected in NYC by seventh-generation craftsmen. Plus, for each purchase, the company donates a book to improve literacy efforts across the country. Noémie Another U.S.-based jeweler focused on ethical production, Noémie uses recycled 18K gold and conflict-free certified diamonds. Plus it provides free overnight shipping and returns and a lifetime warranty, and it boasts IGI Diamond Certification. Do Amore Diamond-sourcing is a hot button issue due to the violence in some of these areas. While the Kimberley Process is a great start in avoiding diamonds from conflict areas, it’s not a foolproof indicator. Do Amore recognizes this and takes the process further to ensure safe worker conditions by purchasing all diamonds directly from Diamond Sightholders, who are held to strict sourcing and employee treatment standards. In addition, all rings are made from recycled precious metals, handmade in the U.S. and packaged sans plastic in wood boxes made from sustainable Jarrah trees. MiaDonna All MiaDonna rings are made in the U.S. using lab-developed diamonds and recycled metals. One tree is planted through the Nature Conservatory to carbon-offset each shipment, and the company is dedicated to the protection and reconstruction of areas damaged by the mining process. The company has also been awarded the Green America Seal of Approval, which is best expressed by MiaDonna itself with the statement, “We believe in transparency. As an advocate for diamond mining communities, global societies and the Earth, we are putting a modern twist on an outdated industry.” Erica Weiner If vintage describes your dream ring, check out the unique and expansive collection from Erica Weiner . In addition to offering the flair you desire, going vintage means eliminating the need for virgin materials, making it one of the most sustainable options for eco-friendly wedding jewelry . Catering to all preferences, the company also has handmade options made from recycled materials in contemporary designs. Aide-mémoire Jewelry If your desire to be earth-conscious is combined with a goal to support the LBGTQ+ community, Aide-mémoire Jewelry may be the option you’re looking for. As an “all-inclusive, queer woman-owned small business in Seattle, Washington,” the company designs its jewelry with recycled precious metals and lab-grown, conflict-free diamonds, then places each order in recyclable and compostable packaging. The company also contributes to Lambda Legal, an organization that supports the LBGTQ+ community, and Higher Heights, which supports Black female politicians. Bario Neal Designers Anna Bario and Page Neal set out to share more than beautiful jewelry. “Disillusioned by industry standards that turned a blind eye to metal and gemstone mining’s environmental and human tolls,” the duo creates rings with a commitment to social justice and environmental sustainability. Bario Neal supports LGBTQ+ rights and worldwide marriage equality, and all items are handmade in the Bario Neal Philadelphia studio. Both diamonds and colorful stones are fully traceable, and according to the company, “Fairmined metals are extracted by empowered and responsible small-scale and artisanal miners.” Images via Ken and Dana Design, MiaDonna, Bario Neal and Noémie

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12 sustainable gifts to give Dad for Father’s Day

June 15, 2020 by  
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Father’s Day is just around the corner, so as you celebrate graduations, June birthdays and virtual weddings, keep an eye out for the perfect gift for Dad. While his favorite treat is always welcome, finding something more personal can be a challenge. We’ve come up with some ideas that not only express your love and gratitude for your father, but for the planet, too. Tools If your dad spends his spare time woodworking or tinkering on cars, there are many new gadgets on the market he would like to experiment with. He might also want to upgrade older tools. While shopping, avoid tools made with plastic and look for high-quality wood or stainless steel options that will last a lifetime. Many brands even include a lifetime warranty with your purchase. This will keep low-quality tools out of the landfill and keep Dad from having to shop for wrenches or hammers ever again.  Related: 15 essential woodworking tools Travel mugs and bottles Whether your dad must have his morning cup of Joe or always carries a water bottle with him, provide him with a long-lasting stainless steel option that will keep him from needing single-serve water bottles or to-go coffee cups. Watches Watches are a timeless gift. But, when choosing a design, seek out an eco-friendly model. Many watch manufacturers are now offering sustainable wood designs, like WeWOOD . Also check out the Veldt LUXTURE AARDE watch with a built-in Climate Action Reminder. Wallet By the time a good wallet gets broken in, it starts to break down and needs replaced, so Dad might appreciate something a little different. This year, go for a vegan leather wallet. Some unique options include these apple waste and wood leather wallets , or these wallets made from recycled banana trees . Plants Whether dad is the clear winner in the green thumb category or simply could use some bamboo luck in his office, both indoor and outdoor plants are great options this Father’s Day. Perhaps select a succulent or cactus, or if Dad is into novel gifts, pick up a Venus flytrap, tropical pitcher plants or sundews. Beer-making kit If your father enjoys a good brew at the end of the day, he may also enjoy making his own beer . Complete kits run around $200 and include all of the tools he’ll need, from a glass carboy to the instruction book. He can then add hops and yeast to perfect a recipe of his choice. Hobby class What does your dad love to do in his spare time? Has he shown an interest in gardening, pottery, knife-making, welding, golf, photography, playing guitar or learning another language? Whatever the hobby, get him a certificate for a local or online class to boost his learning on the topic. You could even take the class with him for a special, shared experience. Time outdoors Sometimes all Dad wants is to spend time with you, so set a date for some outdoor fun. Hike somewhere he’s never been, plan a camping trip or go fishing. Meet up for a road or mountain bike ride. Go for a round of golf or introduce him to disc golf at a nearby park. Whatever activity you choose, make sure to get a picture to memorialize the event. Backyard games If your father is the perpetual entertainer with the grill always ready for action, add some backyard games to the mix. Find or make a solid wood cornhole game for hours of family fun that won’t damage the planet. Horseshoes is another classic that requires little more than two metal poles and four metal horseshoes. Gardening supplies Whether he’s just recently shown an interest or taught you all you know about gardening while growing up, your dad might appreciate some new gardening supplies to add to his tool shed. If space is tight, get him one of the many new indoor gardening systems where he can grow veggies in the kitchen. For the outdoor gardener, invest in quality and sustainable gloves, organic skin protection and seeds. For yard decor, get solar path lights, a bird bath, bird feeder, bat house, butterfly house, bird house or beehive .  Park pass For the dad who enjoys spending time in nature, make sure he has the access he needs with a park pass. Most passes expire annually, so it could even be a tradition in the making to buy Dad an access pass. For the road-tripper, a national park pass will provide access to parks and monuments across the country.  Check out pass options here . Solar products The sun is a powerful tool for providing energy. Mount a solar panel to the RV or van for continual power on the road. On a smaller scale, get Dad a solar-powered lantern for nights under the stars. For cooking, invest in a solar oven and leave the propane and charcoal at home. Images via Aleksandra , Deborah Breen Whiting , Nicolas J. Leclercq , Gyae Min and Akiragiulia

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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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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

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