The startup disrupting Unilever

September 26, 2019 by  
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Algramo was one of more than 60 startups delivering finalist pitches for the latest series of challenges issued as part of MIT Solve.

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The startup disrupting Unilever

The startup disrupting Unilever

September 26, 2019 by  
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Algramo was one of more than 60 startups delivering finalist pitches for the latest series of challenges issued as part of MIT Solve.

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The startup disrupting Unilever

There’s another grim climate report on oceans — but there’s still time to act

September 26, 2019 by  
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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere

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There’s another grim climate report on oceans — but there’s still time to act

There’s another grim climate report on oceans — but there’s still time to act

September 26, 2019 by  
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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere

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There’s another grim climate report on oceans — but there’s still time to act

Farming plays key role in UN climate push on land restoration

September 26, 2019 by  
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“The whole land-climate system” needs indigenous peoples, sustainable agriculture and reforestation to cut emissions.

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Farming plays key role in UN climate push on land restoration

Farming plays key role in UN climate push on land restoration

September 26, 2019 by  
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“The whole land-climate system” needs indigenous peoples, sustainable agriculture and reforestation to cut emissions.

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Farming plays key role in UN climate push on land restoration

Atolla combines technology with design to customize sustainable skincare

January 21, 2019 by  
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The skincare market has exploded with so many options that sometimes it feels like you need a PhD just to pick the right moisturizer. Costs seem to be rising right along with the breadth of product lines, so the pressure is on to find the right skincare in order to save yourself from money wasted on products that don’t perform for your skin type, not to mention the enormous amounts of packaging waste left behind from trial-and-error purchases. One entrepreneur feels your pain. Meghan Maupin, MIT grad and CEO of Atolla skincare, has taken a new approach to the entire skincare dilemma by bringing technology into the mix. The process begins with an at-home skin analysis via a kit and phone app. Based on the results, Atolla then formulates a custom serum. Each month, factors such as weather , oil production and changes in your skin during the month are taken into account, and a new serum is formulated. Atolla even evaluates the interaction with other products you use as well as age, diet, skin sensitivities and prior issues such as eczema or psoriasis. Computers evaluate the data based on skin imagery, allowing algorithms to calculate what is working and what is not. Related: Can drinkable sunscreen protect your skin from the inside out? Almost as important as effective skincare  is the customer’s satisfaction with the product they are using, so consumer preferences are also considered in the formula. For example, if the customer prefers a lightweight feel or doesn’t care for a particular scent, Atolla will adapt to those preferences. While working on her thesis, Maupin realized there is an extraordinary amount of waste in the beauty industry. From jars and squeeze tubes to products tossed out after a trial to the ingredients that end up in our waste stream, she feels that the best action we can take toward sustainability is to buy fewer products. She wants to accomplish this by ensuring the customer buys the right product the first time around. Related: Bambu Earth’s responsible soap & skincare is packaged with seeded paper To meet this goal, Atolla takes a different approach to skincare production. Maupin’s philosophy is to use quality ingredients to make fewer products in contrast to mass-producing standardized products that sit on the shelf before ending up in the waste stream. Along with creating effective, personalized products, the company strives to empower their customers with information about their skin, such as what ingredients to watch out for and how to create a skincare system that will help them meet long-term goals at an acceptable price point. Tests start at $10 and systems run up to $50 monthly. Customers report that the system is easy to use, which checks another box off everyone’s skincare goal list. + Atolla Via Core77 Images via Atolla

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Atolla combines technology with design to customize sustainable skincare

Essential old-fashioned tools and practices to make your kitchen more sustainable

January 21, 2019 by  
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Between planning meals , dragging home groceries, cooking and clean up, the kitchen is the hub of activity in most homes. That means it can also be a significant source of waste. However, there are lots of ways to make your kitchen more sustainable. If you’re looking for ways to cut back on disposables and instead invest in products that will serve you for many years, we have some ideas for you to consider. Cast iron skillets and Le Creuset If you have ever used heavy-duty cast iron, you know that a single seasoned pan will last for generations. With proper care, your children and their children will be using the same pans a hundred years from now. Related: 10 ways to use up mushy, overripe bananas Peppermill Off the vine, peppercorn is round and looks like a tiny grape. Once dried, the freshest way to enjoy peppercorn is ground directly onto your food. Avoid the waste from the myriad containers your ground pepper comes in and use a traditional peppermill instead. Buy your peppercorns in bulk and bring your own jar to eliminate packaging altogether. Mortar and pestle All things worth enjoying require a bit of effort, and a mortar and pestle is the perfect example of that. Although it means manually mashing your herbs and other ingredients, a mortar and pestle eliminates the needs for other gadgets in your kitchen and produces a fresh result in your cooking. Stainless steel When it comes to sustainability, stainless steel is a good product to reach for. Not only does it consume limited resources during production, but it is a long-lasting material and completely recyclable at the end of its functionality. To make your kitchen more eco-friendly , skip the petroleum-based plastic products and reach for stainless steel measuring cups and spoons, microplanes, ice trays if you still use them, mixing bowls, strainers, shakers and compost bins. Knives This is one area of your kitchen worth the initial investment. Good chef’s knives will pay you dividends for a lifetime. As a bonus, this means less waste from cheaper alternatives that don’t make the cut. Ceramic, stone or glass Once again, it’s important to incorporate materials made from the earth and both ceramic and glass are great options. Think ceramic ginger grater, glass or ceramic pie dish and stoneware cooking sheets. Manual tools In the long-term, sticking with traditional tools in the kitchen will save electricity costs. Plus, you’ll gain added satisfaction in the simplicity of cooking with a metal potato masher, non-electric hand mixer, manual can opener, food mill (applesauce maker) and an old-fashioned knife instead of a food chopper or garlic press. Wood Wood is another material sourced from nature and eco-friendly. Shop for wooden salad bowls, wood spoons for stirring, bamboo steamers, cutting boards and serving bowls. Storage containers We all like to hang on to those leftovers and that’s a great way to reduce waste , but plastic and foil are both problematic for the environment so consider other options for your storage needs. For the refrigerator, purchase glass or stainless steel containers with interchangeable lids. While you’re at it, replace plastic wrap with bowl covers or beeswax sheets that mould around the container. Also consider your staple products and find see-through glass jars to house your flour, cereal, pasta, beans and sugar. Spices are easy to organize and use in matching glass jars. Mason jars are another great option for storing nuts, seeds, homemade salad dressing and much more. Towels and napkins We have become accustomed to the disposable society around us, which means you may not think about reaching for a paper towel to wipe up the spill on the floor. When you consider the chemicals and water usage required to turn trees into paper products though, an earth-friendly alternative is to use cloth napkins and towels. With a little practice you’ll realize why humans got by just fine on these options, sans the single-use waste. Beverage containers A few carefully-chosen beverage containers can replace thousands of disposable cups. Grab a high-quality stainless steel coffee mug and one of the many non-plastic options for your water to make a quick and powerful contribution to the health of the planet. Cleaning tools Kitchens are messy, so consider tools that will allow you to clean it up without having an adverse effect on the environment. Purchase natural dish brushes that decompose in the landfill instead of plastic options or sponges that both end up clogging the waste stream. There are very few things that some combination of baking soda and vinegar alone can’t clean. Also look into glycerin, salt and citrus as powerful aids in cleaning without the toxic chemical contribution. Related: How to decode confusing labels on common household cleaners Shopping Remember that perhaps the biggest impact you can make toward a green kitchen starts with your purchasing decisions. It seems that everything these days is wrapped in plastic so seek out alternatives. It’s best to grow your own food, but another option is to attend local farmers’ markets. Bring your own reusable shopping and produce bags to the store. Select produce that has not been bundled in plastic bags and hunt down stores that offer compostable produce bags as an option. Also bring your own containers directly to the bulk section to further eliminate waste. Cooking practices Another fabulous way to cut waste is to make your own foods rather than buying pre-packaged options. Breads are quick and easy to make. Make granola bars and protein balls for school lunches. Cook up your own yogurt and ditch the individual plastic containers. Turning your kitchen into a simplified oasis of earth-friendly food production begins with evaluating the supplies you need and making decisions about the best options to fulfil those needs. Focus on conscientious purchases that combine wholesome food along with sustainable tools and you have a recipe for a long-term low-carbon-footprint kitchen. Images via Shutterstock

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Essential old-fashioned tools and practices to make your kitchen more sustainable

MIT develops a sustainable, mass timber-building prototype modeled after the longhouse

September 27, 2018 by  
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As sustainability measures become increasingly important in new construction, architects around the world are turning toward mass timber — even for large-scale projects. A workshop at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is dedicated to exploring the design and engineering potential of wood-based technologies and recently unveiled one such example that can even be turned into an energy producer. Dubbed the Longhouse, the mass timber -building prototype is modeled after the traditional building type of the same name that has been historically used as a place for community gatherings. Led by research scientist John Klein, the cross-disciplinary team at the MIT Mass Timber Design workshop that developed the Longhouse prototype studied how mass timber products can be used to create modern buildings. Research has shown that mass timber structures have a lower carbon footprint than their conventional building counterparts and can be engineered for substantial strength and fire resistance. Moreover, greater use of mass timber technology could lead to improved forest management and restoration. The MIT Longhouse prototype would serve as a multifunctional building that could accommodate a variety of events, from co-working, exercise classes, social gatherings, exhibitions, lectures and more. To create a flexible and open-plan interior, the building would be engineered with a series of timber laminated veneer lumber (LVL) arches that are 40 feet tall at the central peak and span 50 feet across. Each arch uses a thin-walled triangular profile and would be prefabricated in sections and then assembled on site for a fast and efficient construction process. Related: The nation’s largest timber office building is coming to Newark The building is also designed to follow passive solar principles while its sawtooth roof would allow for ample natural daylighting and could accommodate solar panels. The MIT Mass Timber Design workshop will present its Longhouse design at the Maine Mass Timber Conference this October. + MIT Mass Timber Design workshop Images via MIT Mass Timber Design

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MIT develops a sustainable, mass timber-building prototype modeled after the longhouse

Role-playing video game sparks climate action in players worldwide

September 10, 2018 by  
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Research published last week in the journal PLoS One examined the effects of World Climate Simulation, a role-playing game of the UN climate talks. The video game found that 81 percent of participants showed an increased desire to combat climate change despite political beliefs. The game’s ability to bridge gaps across the political spectrum and engage those who are less concerned about the need for climate action is a major benchmark in propelling the environment to the forefront of national and international policy making. The research group examined the virtual advocates’ beliefs about climate change , emotional responses to its effects and intent to improve climate-change-inducing behaviors. In total, 2,000 participants — from eight different countries, four continents and various age groups from middle school students to CEOs — were selected for the assessment. The analysis concluded that participants exhibited both a greater sense of urgency as well as hope in combating climate change, alongside a desire to understand more about climate science and the impact of climate change. Related: Girl Scouts introduces 30 new badges with emphasis on the environment and STEM “It was this increased sense of urgency, not knowledge, that was key to sparking motivation to act,” said Juliette Rooney Varga, lead researcher of University of Massachusetts’s Lowell Climate Change Initiative . “The big question for climate change communication is: how can we build the knowledge and emotions that drive informed action without real-life experience which, in the case of climate change, will only come too late?” Co-author Andrew Jones of Climate Interactive provided “three key ingredients” in response: “information grounded in solid science, an experience that helps people feel for themselves on their own terms and social interaction arising from conversation with their peers.” Developed nations within the game pledge monetary support to developing nations through the Green Climate Fund, a fund designed to cut emissions and help countries adapt to the change. The real-life climate policy computer model C-ROADS then receives the players’ choices and gives immediate feedback on how the decisions will ultimately impact the environment. C-ROADS has been used to support the real UN climate negotiations as well, as it is an effective simulator of expected outcomes. “Research shows that showing people research doesn’t work,” said John Sterman, co-author of the study and professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. “World Climate works because it enables people to express their own views, explore their own proposals and thus learn for themselves what the likely impacts will be.” The players’ first negotiations usually backslide when they see the future outcomes on their health, prosperity and welfare. The next rounds of negotiation using C-ROADS are generally much more aggressive in achieving emission cuts after players see how climate change impacts their own lives. The game is now being used as an official resource for schools in France, Germany and South Korea. The social interactions fostered by World Climate Simulation are proving a valuable resource in achieving a global movement to advocate for climate action. The game is also showing that education is a key component in successfully implementing climate policy within government. + MIT Image via Glenn Carstens-Peters

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Role-playing video game sparks climate action in players worldwide

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