PFAS could be reduced by Australian plants

May 3, 2022 by  
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New research  has found that Australian native rushes Phragmites australis ,  Juncus kraussii , and    Baumea articulata  could remove up to 53% of PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) contaminants from the environment. Conducted by researchers at the  University of South Australia , the study found that the once-popular chemicals could be removed from the environment cheaply by using these plants. The three weeds identified as having the potential to remediate PFAS were put to a test in contaminated waters. It was found that the common reed Phragmites australis removed up to 53% of legacy PFAS contaminants from the surface water. These findings provide the much-needed solution that could help remove chemicals from the environment. Related: Hemp is helping clean up PFAS chemicals in Maine PFAS chemicals were once hailed as revolutionary for their uses. They are used on nonstick pans, firefighting foam, and plenty of other products. Even today, some manufacturers still use PFAS in products, despite having been found to be harmful to the environment and human health. The  US Environmental Protection Agency  warns that PFAS could lead to a range of medical complications. Some of the medical issues associated with the chemicals include a decline in fertility, delayed development in children, a high risk of obesity , and weakened immune systems.    Dr. John Awad , one of the researchers, says that the new findings could go a long way in alleviating said risks. By using these plants, PFAS could be significantly sucked out of nature , leading to a cleaner environment for healthy living. “PFAS are often referred to as ‘forever chemicals’ because they don’t break down, instead accumulating in the environment and in our bodies where they can cause adverse health effects,”Awad said. “In Australia, PFAS concerns often relate to the use of firefighting foam, especially legacy firefighting foam, which accumulates in the surface water of our waterways.” According to Awad, the reeds were found to be the most effective in removing PFAs from contaminated stormwater . “Our research tested the effectiveness of Australian rushes to remove PFAS chemicals from stormwater, finding that  Phragmites australis  was the most effective at absorbing chemicals through its roots and shoots,” Awad said. The study was done in partnership with the CSIRO and the University of Western Australia. The researchers used constructed floating wetlands where plants were grown hydroponically. According to Awad, the approach offers a better solution for the natural remediation of contaminated water bodies. “Constructed floating wetlands can be readily installed into existing urban environments, such as holding reservoirs and retention basins, making them highly maneuverable and adaptable to local waterways,” Awad said. Via NewsWise Image via Pexels

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Comedian John Oliver addresses environmental racism

May 3, 2022 by  
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TV personality and comedian John Oliver shared opinions on the emotive issue of environmental racism in the US. While delivering his weekly show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver , the host took a dive into the history of America and how environmental racism has shown up across communities over the years. He cited studies showing how people of color are exposed to higher environmental risks than other racial groups. He noted that 38% of black Americans are exposed to polluted air and 75% are more likely to live in communities bordering factories. The comedian delivered the message in a satirical and funny manner, attempting to get the point home without seeming to target anyone. Statistically, racial disparities exist across the US even when  earning disparities  are accounted for. Oliver noted from studies that black Americans earning $200,000 annually are more exposed to air pollution than whites making $25, 000 annually.  Related: Air pollution now directly affects 99% of the world Oliver used this example to show how racism in America is greater than money. He even came up with a list of top powerful things to Americans in an attempt to lighten up his room: “In fact, I believe America’s current top five power rankings go: racism, beef , viral videos of soldiers reuniting with their dogs, DJ Khaled’s PR team, and then money,” he said. Delving deeper, Oliver looked at the history of America and tried to explain how this happened. He cited federal policies among the causes of racial segregation today, such as the prevention of blacks from owning land where whites did and zoning of areas where blacks lived as industrial parks . Further, he says that although history played a role in the segregation faced by blacks, the lack of social power to fight polluters today is another factor. “But history and zoning are only part of the story here because it also is about who has the power to push back,” Oliver said. “And polluters often assume that black communities, in particular, won’t be able to stop them. Sometimes, pollution can be invisible. And those that you’d expect to warn you about that can be incredibly slow to do so when it comes to communities of color.” Looking at the  West Calumet housing complex  as a classic example, Oliver delved into the history of how powerless people of color are settled in unsafe environments. The settlement was built on former lead-smelting land despite the fact that it was supervised and supported by the federal government . Government investigations found the areas around the community to have 200 times more than recommended levels of lead, but still kept quiet since 1985. According to Oliver, these issues are way beyond the scope of black Americans and people of color, and can only be handled from the top. He did, however, call for support from social and environmental support organizations. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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In one week, cigarette waste can fill two White Houses

May 3, 2022 by  
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Depending on where you live, seeing a burnt cigarette butt on the ground can invoke a range of responses. In some places, a person might feel a sense of rage, while in other areas, even a littering of butts on the ground will fail to elicit a response. Regardless of how ubiquitous discarded cigarette butts are where you reside, when the sheer number of them on the planet is calculated, the results are not only difficult to ignore, they’re shocking.  Housefresh, a “team of experts in keeping your house clean and fresh,” dug into the subject by collecting data from a variety of sources and converting it into infographics. The result is a visual representation of the waste created by cigarettes per minute or on a daily, weekly, monthly or annual basis.  Related: How Finland plans to completely eradicate tobacco use by 2040 The team chose iconic locations in the representations to provide a connection viewers can relate to. For example, the study reports, “In one minute, humans dump 8.5 million cigarette butts, equal to 50 cubic meters — or an Olympic boxing ring.” The visual of a large boxing ring filled each minute by smokers around the world is certainly attention-grabbing.  The next visual multiplies the one minute into the pollution caused in a 24-hour window. In one day, 12.3 billion cigarette butts are dumped, which is equal to 72,522m3 — a bit bigger than the Lincoln Memorial. Expanding that snapshot into a week’s worth of cigarette waste means burying another notable building. “In one week, we dump 86.4 billion cigarette butts — that’s 509,050m3 or TWO White Houses. ” The use of these visuals allows us to see the exponential effect of what seems like a small item, when seen as a whole. Two White Houses full of cigarette butts in a single week? It gets worse, of course. In a month, the environment is pummeled with cigarette waste. According to the study, “In one month, we dump 375 billion cigarette butts, which equals 2,205,882m3 or one Capitol Building.” To represent the cigarette dumpage on an annual basis, researchers had to go bigger. They said, “In one year, we dump 4.5 trillion cigarette butts, equaling 26,470,588m3 and enough to cover New York’ s Central Park.” Obviously, the pollution created by cigarette butts is unpleasant to the eye and damaging to the environment. Although tobacco itself comes from a plant , the butts are made from a type of plastic that is neither biodegradable or recyclable. Plus, they contain many chemicals that then leach into the soil and water. Smoking is also a primary contributing factor to major health issues, including lung cancer.  Cleaning up the mess left by smokers is an expensive endeavor. It’s estimated an annual $4 billion (taxpayer) dollars in the U.S. alone. Plus, cigarettes are a common cause of home and forest fires and can be toxic to animals . The Housefresh report refers to a study that concludes, “One butt in a liter of water will kill half the fish.” At the top of the article, we alluded to geographic location having an impact on people’s perspectives around cigarette waste. The fact is, there are huge variations in the prevalence of smoking from one region to another. For example, in Andorra, nearly half of all high school students admit to smoking at least occasionally. Additionally, the average number of cigarettes smoked daily for the population as a whole is 17. The European continent is the largest contributor to cigarette waste , with the average citizen disposing of over 1,800 butts every year. In contrast, smoking is still relatively obscure in Africa with a country like Ghana disposing of an average of 41 butts per person. According to the report, Canadians smoke the most in North America, but the U.S. isn’t far behind. “Up to 40% of items collected in American litter clean-ups are butts, which are the most littered item on U.S. roads, drains, parks and beaches.” There are also high smoking rates throughout regions of Asia and specifically in some islands in the South Pacific. They maintain the highest smoking rates in the world.   The cultural and financial variations around the world make a notable impact on smoking rates. Education about the dangers of smoking also varies wildly. Some countries are making good progress in reducing smoking rates while other countries are just starting the discussion. For example, Andorra just recently banned tobacco advertising and smoking in bars.  The methodology for the study required gathering data from using Omni Calculator, and is based on 170 cigarettes filling one liter of volume. Global numbers of discarded cigarettes were sourced from Science Direct. To calculate the cubic volume of the objects and landmarks in the report, the team looked to Wikipedia and the Google Maps distance measurement tool. Global smoking rates were sourced from the World Bank and Global cigarette consumption was sourced from Tobacco Atlas.   + Housefresh  Images via Housefresh 

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Fabrics from Natural Materials Studio are made from algae

May 3, 2022 by  
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In a world of waste and pollution , returning to all-natural products makes sense for the health of humans and the planet. Danish Designer Bonnie Hvillum made it the focus of her work to create such options, resulting in a collection of bio-materials made from algae, clay and foam. Sample products of clothing , curtains and drapes were made from the materials. They were then put on display in a collaboration with multi-disciplinary design brand Frama. The collection was on display in Frama’s Copenhagen showroom during the Days of Design Festival in 2021.  Related: Charlotte McCurdy, Phillip Lim design carbon-neutral algae sequin dress Material research by Hvillum was well underway when she discovered the like-minded Frama. They also experiment with natural materials in their lifestyle object designs.  “I design interactive user experiences with a playful yet visionary approach, constantly exploring the potential in the unseen. That allows me to create highly sensory experiences that offer, at the same time, an insight of nature’s available resources and how to use those creatively,” said Bonnie Hvillum, founder of Natural Material Studio. Specifically, the fabrics included in the showroom display were created from products found in the environment . Alger is a seaweed fabric made from seaweed extract and softener, which is dyed with spirulina algae. Terracotta is a clay-pigmented biofabric formed using a protein-based binder extracted from collagen and a natural softener. B-foam is a product that has been in development by the Natural Material Studio since 2019. Charcoal is the base for the material, which had been previously featured in the Days of Design Festival.  The process includes hand casting the fabric inside wooden frames. After a few days of drying time, the designs are then cut from the frames.  As natural materials, all three are biodegradable. Inasmuch, Hvillum hopes the materials will become mainstream options, but encourages continued research on the potential beyond the bespoke fashion, interior design and furniture items Natural Material Studio developed. “These are early-stage versions – beta versions, pilot versions, whatever we call them in other industries . They do not live up to quality standards for fabrics yet, but hopefully they will one day with more research, testing and application trials continue,” said Hvillum. Her goal is to explore what is possible and encourage others to do the same without getting caught up in the challenges. The display at Frama set the stage of organic -looking prototypes that show the possibilities. This includes Japanese-inspired curtains and concept clothing.  + Natural Materials Studio  Images via Natural Materials Studio

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Air Wick offers free wildflower seeds to gardeners

May 2, 2022 by  
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Air Wick is partnering with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to reseed one billion square feet of native wildflowers in the Northern Great Plains. To achieve this, the two organizations are calling on locals to help. Those who are willing to help will receive a packet of wildflower seeds delivered to their doorsteps for planting. Further, you can also help by sharing pictures of wildflowers planted in your garden via their hashtag. You do not have to be an avid gardener to receive the seeds. Even if you are just a beginner, you have a chance to participate in the reseeding program. You will receive free seeds delivered to your doorstep when you fill out the signup form to receive free wildflower giveaways. On the form, you are required to provide information on the types of wildflowers that grow in your locality. Once you  submit the form , the flower seeds will be sent to you for planting with instructions to follow. Related: Unique gardening tips and tricks to try for Gardening Day Further, local gardeners can collaborate by simply sharing photos of their gardens. When at-home gardeners share photos of their wildflower images using the hashtag #SquareFoodSuperBloom, Air Wick and WWF will plant up to one square foot of flowers in the Northern Great Plains. You can share our pictures any time from today to June 1. Air Wick and WWF have partnered up to heal the Northern Great Plains, the largest ecosystem in the United States. The ecosystem has experienced over 33 billion acres of habitat loss in just over 10 years. As of 2021, Air Wick had planted   50 million square feet  of wildflowers in the US. The collaboration will see AirWick plant over 1 billion square feet of wildflowers by the end of 2024. All the flowers planted are native to the regions where they are grown. When any person submits the form and receives the flowers, they are required to scatter them in well-prepared soil in an area that has access to sunlight. The ground should be well-watered until the flowers sprout out and grow to a height of over four inches. In case there is no rainwater , you will have to keep watering until nature takes control of the process. Via Apartment Therapy Lead image via Pexels

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H.C. Andersen Museum is a real life fairytale

April 28, 2022 by  
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You’ll find it between a residential area of pretty, traditional wooden homes and the bustling urban environment of Odense. H.C. Andersen Museum, garden and cultural center honors the natural world and the museum’s namesake. Located in Denmark, the H.C. Andersen Museum is all about bringing life to the written word, creating spaces where you can feel and see stories. Even the architecture of the building itself reflects Andersen’s particular style and his use of duality in his storytelling . Related: Take a me day at this wellness garden in Czech Republic Furthermore, circular forms that create a chain-like design were used. The linear green wall is designed to have a continuous curve, a sweeping design that defines the garden above. The green wall weaves in and out, above and belowground. It’s part of the experience. As visitors walk through the museum, the wall appears and disappears and reappears. Additionally, the exhibition areas are all underground. The garden is right above. A curving hedge in the garden outlines the exhibition spaces below. The garden is an exhibit all its own. Trees and leaves create a maze-like feeling. The garden will change over time, through the seasons and through the years, showing off different colors and different types of nature. It’s a living exhibit . Therefore, the museum will reconnect two parts of the city : an older and a newer section that were previously separated. A new public area will create a transition zone between the two. The museum was curated by Hana Abdel. Yuki Ikeguchi served as the partner in charge of this design project, working with Kengo Kuma and Associates. MASU Planning created the spectacular landscape design. H.C. Andersen, better known as Hans Christian Andersen, wrote many beloved fairytales that are still widely enjoyed today, including “The Ugly Duckling,” “Thumbelina,” and “The Little Mermaid.” His fanciful stories have delighted readers for generations. This museum honors the whimsical nature of his stories. It also honors nature and the natural world. + Kengo Kuma & Associates Photography by Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST

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Leonardo DiCaprio invests in sustainable Champagne Telmont

April 22, 2022 by  
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The Champagne Telmont story began in 1912, following the champagne riots in France . Fast forward over 100 years, and Telmont earned organic certification. Now, this sustainable champagne brand is being endorsed by actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio. Here’s what makes the brand so unique. Champagne Telmont was handed down through generations of family, and in 2007 the house began offering tourism as part of its operations. Just 10 years later in 2017, parts of the vineyard gained organic certification. In 2021, Champagne Telmont launched its first organic cuvée, with no transparent bottles or extra labels and packaging. Now, the champagne house has new investors and an invigorating vision for quality and sustainability in French champagne. Related: Champagne could lose its classic taste due to climate change DiCaprio’s involvement came in 2022 when he became a minority shareholder in the business. “Champagne Telmont, together with its partner wine-growers, has set its sights on producing 100% organic champagne, ensuring a completely sustainable production lifecycle in the coming years. From protecting biodiversity on its land, to using 100% renewable electricity, Champagne Telmont is determined to radically lower its environmental footprint, making me proud to join as an investor,” DiCaprio said. By 2025, Champagne Telmont plans to have the vineyard’s vines certified 100% organic. By 2031, 100% of the house’s wine-growing partners will be certified in organic agriculture . The goal is to cement Telmont as a leader in organic agriculture. Telmont’s plan is ambitious, as the city of Champagne’s climate is moist, making it hard to avoid using pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Currently, certified organic vineyards make up under 4% of Champagne’s vineyards. Telmont continues the four-generation-long tradition of creating great champagne while eyeing a sustainable future. Ludovic du Plessis, CEO of Telmont, and Bertrand Lhopital, the champagne house’s fourth-generation cellar master and head of viticulture, are teaming up to create a new sustainable plan called Au Nom de la Terre, meaning In the Name of Mother Nature. Du Plessis drew in DiCaprio as an investor to help with the plan, as he knew him personally, and they shared an interest in sustainable champagne. The plan includes elements such as banning the use of air freight to ship Telmont products, protecting biodiversity through land conservation on-site, using 100% renewable electricity and shifting the large acreage to 100% organic farming. + Champagne Telmont Via Forbes Lead image via Pexels Images via Champagne Telmont

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Leonardo DiCaprio invests in sustainable Champagne Telmont

April 22, 2022 by  
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The Champagne Telmont story began in 1912, following the champagne riots in France . Fast forward over 100 years, and Telmont earned organic certification. Now, this sustainable champagne brand is being endorsed by actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio. Here’s what makes the brand so unique. Champagne Telmont was handed down through generations of family, and in 2007 the house began offering tourism as part of its operations. Just 10 years later in 2017, parts of the vineyard gained organic certification. In 2021, Champagne Telmont launched its first organic cuvée, with no transparent bottles or extra labels and packaging. Now, the champagne house has new investors and an invigorating vision for quality and sustainability in French champagne. Related: Champagne could lose its classic taste due to climate change DiCaprio’s involvement came in 2022 when he became a minority shareholder in the business. “Champagne Telmont, together with its partner wine-growers, has set its sights on producing 100% organic champagne, ensuring a completely sustainable production lifecycle in the coming years. From protecting biodiversity on its land, to using 100% renewable electricity, Champagne Telmont is determined to radically lower its environmental footprint, making me proud to join as an investor,” DiCaprio said. By 2025, Champagne Telmont plans to have the vineyard’s vines certified 100% organic. By 2031, 100% of the house’s wine-growing partners will be certified in organic agriculture . The goal is to cement Telmont as a leader in organic agriculture. Telmont’s plan is ambitious, as the city of Champagne’s climate is moist, making it hard to avoid using pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Currently, certified organic vineyards make up under 4% of Champagne’s vineyards. Telmont continues the four-generation-long tradition of creating great champagne while eyeing a sustainable future. Ludovic du Plessis, CEO of Telmont, and Bertrand Lhopital, the champagne house’s fourth-generation cellar master and head of viticulture, are teaming up to create a new sustainable plan called Au Nom de la Terre, meaning In the Name of Mother Nature. Du Plessis drew in DiCaprio as an investor to help with the plan, as he knew him personally, and they shared an interest in sustainable champagne. The plan includes elements such as banning the use of air freight to ship Telmont products, protecting biodiversity through land conservation on-site, using 100% renewable electricity and shifting the large acreage to 100% organic farming. + Champagne Telmont Via Forbes Lead image via Pexels Images via Champagne Telmont

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Leonardo DiCaprio invests in sustainable Champagne Telmont

Nature and art merge with these stunning, colorful lanterns

April 22, 2022 by  
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As the largest lantern festival producer in North America, Tianyu Arts & Culture has produced over 62 festivals in 32 cities. One might envision lit lanterns floating through the sky, only to later land and contribute to  pollution . In contrast, the events managed by Tianyu are stocked with reusable, colorful and educational displays that often emphasize nature and animals. While entertainment is an obvious goal, Tianyu believes the lantern festivals can, and should, focus on conservation and the  environment . To this end, the festivals highlight fun facts about the animals and objects represented by the lanterns.  Related: Dande-lier: Everyday objects transformed into stunning art in Singapore The Tianyu team works with parks, zoos and botanical gardens to ensure accurate representations of nature. In alignment with educational goals, the current festival features many endangered  animals  from all categories of birds, land mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish in their natural habitats. Some extinct species are also included. Tianyu believes that festivals can facilitate the spread of valuable information that can help protect  wildlife .  Despite the pandemic, Tianyu’s outdoor festivals have attracted record audiences over the last two years. In 2022, Tianyu will host more than a dozen festivals in locations such as Philadelphia , Reno, Chicago and more. Due to the lanterns’ durability, festivals can occur year-round without damage from the elements.  The company explained, “Tianyu’s custom lanterns use traditional materials such as wire, metal, silk, and  wood  and incorporate innovative lighting, animation, interactive components, and creative materials into their displays.” Tianyu lantern festivals are custom-made to meet the needs of the hosting facility. For example, in addition to animal lanterns, Tianyu also helped create a rotating Van Gogh-inspired walk-through tunnel. Other displays appear on the water or suspended in air, captivating visitors at every turn.  With a goal to entertain and engage, the Tianyu team said, “Inventive new displays incorporate guests’ movements to make the lanterns interactive , like a Pufferfish lantern where visitors step on a pedal to fill the fish with air. One exhibit allows guests to ride bikes alongside mechanical lantern monkeys where the monkeys match the pedal speed of the visitors. Tianyu’s production team created a parrot lantern that visitors can talk to; the parrot can mimic words and act on specific commands. A new heart-shaped lantern lights up when visitors touch its handrail after holding hands or sharing a kiss.” + Tianyu Arts & Culture, Inc.  Images via Tianyu Arts & Culture, Inc., Fred Ernst, Edmond Wong, Bobbi Sheridan and Marvin Sandoval

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Geothermal power fuels the fun at Chena Hot Springs

April 19, 2022 by  
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As my group wanders through the sulfur-smelling  greenhouse , looking at tomatoes growing in vertical hangers and a room with 33 types of lettuce, I feel the pull of the huge natural hot springs outside. It’s hard to go on an educational tour of a greenhouse and power plant when I could be soaking mindlessly in a pool of water thick with sulfate, chloride and bicarbonate of sodium. But I’m trying to get a well-rounded picture of  Chena Hot Springs and understand its tagline of “where hospitality and sustainability go hand in hand.” The hot springs resort is 60 miles northeast of Fairbanks, Alaska, and accessible year-round. In winter, you can ride in a dogsled and stay up late hoping for a glimpse of the aurora borealis. In summer, you can take a guided float down the river, looking for bears and moose. Year-round, the resort offers a free tour of the greenhouse and power plant. These facilities are the heart of the operation, generating  geothermal  power to heat guest cabins and growing delicious salad greens even in the dead of winter. Related: Alaska’s Kenai Visitor Center provides a refuge from the outside world Chena Hot Springs h istory In 1905, two  gold  mining brothers heard that a geological survey crew had spotted steam rising from the upper Chena River. Mining is a hard life, so the prospectors, Thomas and Robert Swan, set out in a boat to find the hot springs. A month later, Robert was soaking away his rheumatism. Of course, everybody else on the hardscrabble  Alaskan  frontier had aches and pains, too. Fairbanks entrepreneur George W. Wilson heard about the Swans’ discovery and decided to homestead the land and turn it into a resort. By 1911, Chena Hot Springs had a stable, bathhouse and 12 small visitor cabins. The waters got a reputation for curing blood disorders, rheumatism, scalp disease and troubles of the stomach, liver and kidneys. In 1921, Wilson advertised in the “ Fairbanks Daily News Miner ,” “Plenty of provisions now on hand, including vegetables, and we also have a pool table. Come and bring your best girl with you and have a dance, you will feel like it, suppled up after one of these baths.” Nowadays, the  resort  is one of interior Alaska’s top attractions, drawing people from all over the world to stay in its 80 rooms. The rock pool was expanded about seven years ago. It’s huge, with plenty of room to float or paddle lazily around in the hot water. Activities People came for the hot springs, but now visitors extend their stay at the resort for various activities. On a typical day in  winter , the thermometer only nudges up to the teens in Fahrenheit, if that. When I visited in February, snow was thick on the ground — perfect for dog sledding or snowmobiling. I chose to dogsled. I was there with members of a professional group, and it was a little more intimate than expected when the musher instructed the biggest person to get in the back of the sleigh and the other two to consecutively recline on him. This setup would be less awkward with close friends and family. Then the musher stood behind us and directed the team of 12 extremely hardworking  dogs  to pull us on a lovely little loop through the snowy woods. Considering our combined weight, we didn’t go very fast. Visitors can also take a behind-the-scenes kennel tour where you can ask a musher all your sled dog questions and pet puppies, if available. Chena leads aurora tours during aurora viewing season, from autumn to early spring. Visitors ride up to the top of nearby peak Charlie Dome in military-style vehicles. There they can keep warm in Mongolian-style  yurts , drinking hot chocolate and waiting for the lights to appear. The dome allows a 360-degree view, without light interference from the resort. If you go, don’t miss the ice  museum . It feels like a giant walk-in refrigerator and looks like an ice castle, filled with chandeliers and sculptures made of ice. There’s even an ice bar where you can get a drink in a glass made of ice. In summer, Chena offers activities like horseback riding and a half-day river float looking for  wildlife . But don’t overbook on tours — you’ll want plenty of free time to hang out in the hot pool. Chena’s geothermal power At the powerhouse, our guide tells us about Chena’s clean energy. The hot springs come out of the water at about 164 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the world’s lowest temperature geothermal resource to be used for commercial power production. Since 164 falls short of boiling, the resort uses Freon to bring the water up to a temperature hot enough to move turbines. Chena and the Department of Energy are working together on a $1.4 million exploration project to dig deeper and find hotter  water . The hope is that by digging to 4,000 feet they’ll hit water hot enough to ditch the Freon and run on all clean energy. Then, Chena can also sell excess energy to the government. Even if overnight guests aren’t interested in taking the geothermal tour, they’ll still enjoy having their floors warmed by hot water pumped from the springs. Right now, Chena has three separate wells, one each for soaking, heat and power, our guide told us. This is in case one well gets contaminated from Freon. Once they’re drilling down deep enough and the water’s hot enough to not use  chemicals , then they’ll be able to use wells interchangeably. Chena’s greenhouse provides the resort with peppers, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and herbs. As the website likes to boast, Chena Hot Springs Restaurant makes Alaska’s freshest  salad , year-round. Resort proprietor Bernie Karl designed the vertical bucket lettuce grow towers himself. And you can learn to  build them yourself  at home if you want a terrific tomato yield in a small space. If you visit  Chena Hot Springs Chena Hot Springs is popular in every season, but I loved bobbing around the rock pool in winter, staying warm while being surrounded by  snowy  fields and peaks. Winter must be the most magical time to visit a hot spring. Still, if you find yourself in  Fairbanks  at any time of the year, plan a little detour to Chena, at least for a day. + Chena Hot Springs Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

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