People for Bikes is making cycling safer with Ride Spot

April 22, 2019 by  
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People for Bikes is doing its part to make  cycling safe. The non-profit organization now has two networking projects to help keep cyclists safe across the country: a city ratings database and a guide on the best city biking routes called Ride Spot. With safety being a top priority, People for Bikes  works diligently to urge cities to make it safer for people to ride bikes, whether for commuting or just for enjoying the ride. The non-profit’s database ranks cities based on cycling safety and community. Per the ratings map, the best place to ride a bike is Fort Collins, Colorado. Some of the worst places for cyclists, meanwhile, include cities in North Dakota, Missouri, Louisiana and Hawaii. Fortunately, People for Bikes is currently lobbying for these areas to pass  legislation  that promotes road safety. Related: How to make American cities bike-friendly The company has also started a program called Ride Spot , which features the best bike routes based on location. The routes are user-generated with help from local cyclists and owners of bike shops. People can use the app to find the safest routes in cities all across the United States. The company strongly encourages bike shops to contribute data to its platform, as they often know which areas of town feature the best routes. In addition to showing routes, the app also connects users with each other. In fact, cyclists can use the program to share stories about their daily commutes and new routes they have discovered as well as upload photos of their journeys. As more people get involved, Ride Spot could become a viable place for riders to share information on safe and recreational urban  cycling . People for Bikes hopes its new initiative will address three major issues many beginning cyclists face: knowing the safest routes, connecting with other riders and getting past the intimidation factor. + People for Bikes Via TreeHugger Image via Pexels

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People for Bikes is making cycling safer with Ride Spot

RBURN upcycles North Face tents into one-of-a-kind bags

April 19, 2019 by  
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The North Face and British designer Christopher Raeburn of RÆBURN  have recently collaborated to launch a new line of accessories handcrafted from recycled tents. Introduced late last month, the unique collection consists of three distinct items—a tote bag, drawstring bag, and Rae Bag—that all feature RÆBURN’s iconic “REMADE, REDUCED, RECYCLED, RÆBURN” tagline. The partnership marks the iconic outdoors brand’s first sustainable collaboration and is part of both brands’ commitment to reducing waste without compromising quality. British designer Christopher Raeburn built his reputation on developing stylish streetwear with an environmental focus . From fashioning garments out of parachutes to breathing new life into unwanted military surplus items, Raeburn works his craft with unusual materials that raise awareness about the staggering amounts of global textile waste and creative upcycling. The RÆBURN brand has since collaborated with many leading brands to produce environmentally conscious apparel, including Disney and Timberland. “The North Face has been inspiring a global movement of exploration and conservation for over fifty years, and we couldn’t be prouder to be collaborating on this special project, applying our RÆMADE ethos to transform surplus tents into unique bags,” says Christopher Raeburn. “At RÆBURN we’re motivated to work with brands, other designers and individuals to drive positive change in our industry and it’s been fantastic to work alongside the talented team at The North Face to bring this project to fruition.” Related: H&M releases sustainable fashion line made from fruit and algae In The North Face collaboration, RÆBURN designers recycled different parts of the bright yellow, polyester-and-nylon tents so that every bag would be unique and vary in color and tent parts. Each bag also features the British brand’s iconic 4R’s tape used as straps and an internal pocket for additional storage. All items are extremely lightweight and packable. The limited edition collaboration launched March 26 and is currently out of stock online. + The North Face x RÆBURN Images via RÆBURN

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A micro home in one of Quebecs regional parks offers a unique way to enjoy the outdoors

April 9, 2019 by  
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La Pointe is located within Canada’s Poisson Blanc Regional Park, and it’s a nature-loving minimalist’s dream come true. The micro home gets its name from the distinctive triangular geometry that comes to a cathedral-style point in the roof. The designers at Atelier L’abri wanted to honor the A-frame style that was made popular in North America in the 1950s while still providing the essential functions needed in a forest cabin. La Pointe offers off-the-grid living that isn’t completely isolated from civilization. The micro home is located off of a nature trail about 10 minutes by foot from the park’s reception pavilion. Despite the minimal square footage, there is room for up to four occupants inside thanks to the first-floor table’s ability to convert into an extra bed. Related: Disconnect in these A-frame tiny cabins in the Catskills The structure was built on-site and features a kitchenette, an outdoor porch area and a lofted bedroom accessible by ladder. The bed is suspended mezzanine-style using steel rods, and it calmly overlooks the rest of the home. The entire space, including the sleeping area, takes full advantage of the natural light that streams in during the day. The connecting covered terrace is the perfect spot to enjoy the space when the weather is hot, and the wood-burning stove keeps the house warm in the cold Canadian winters. The whole structure is raised off the ground to prevent weather-related damage from both the snow and the nearby reservoir. The exterior, made from natural cedar boards, creates a woodsy look that blends in beautifully to the surrounding forest landscape. The roof is made from steel, a recycle-friendly option for a building material. The interior uses the same cedar, which — combined with the dark, steel-colored appliances inside — creates an organic and raw look. Occupants can enjoy the forest views from the large bay window that centers the home from the first floor. + Atelier L’abri Photography by Jack Jérôme via Atelier L’abri

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Solar-powered home puts an eco-friendly twist on the farmhouse vernacular

March 14, 2019 by  
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When architect Paul O’Reilly of the Australian architectural practice archterra was asked by his mother to design a modern farmhouse, he delivered a handsome dwelling that not only takes inspiration from traditional barn architecture, but also deftly addresses the region’s climatic extremes with its site-specific, energy-efficient build. Aptly named the Farm House, the roughly 2,000-square-foot abode features a gabled roofline, a veranda and timber cladding to mimic traditional barns, while the interior is decidedly contemporary and dressed in natural materials, including rammed earth and oiled timber cladding. Moreover, the home is energy-efficient , taking cues from passive solar principles and drawing power from a 2.5-kilowatt solar photovoltaic array. Located on a grassy paddock on a working cattle farm near Margaret River, the Farm House is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom abode that places the sleeping areas toward the south and the open-plan living areas to the north. Large outdoor decks open off of the two bedrooms and the living area toward the east. “Primary outlook across paddocks to the east and a need to maintain a passive solar orientation to the north generated a T-shaped plan response with the living pavilion orientated to the north, whilst the sleeping areas align east-west,” explained the architecture firm. “Morning sun is moderated on the sleeping pavilion by the traditional veranda to the east whilst a thick rammed earth wall to the west ensures the thermal lag effect of the earth wall keeps internal spaces cool into the early evening.” Related: Solar-powered Bush House exemplifies chic eco-friendly living in the Australian outback The home’s passive solar orientation mitigates unwanted heat gain and permits cooling cross breezes to flow through the home from all directions. In addition to the thermally efficient envelope, the energy efficiency of the Farm House is bolstered by the addition of an evacuated tube solar hot water heater, a solar photovoltaic array, rainwater collection  and wastewater treatment systems. Recycled timber and bricks lower the embodied energy of the project as well. + archterra Photography by Douglas Mark Black via archterra

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Adobe brick combines with wood in a low-carbon villa in Chiang Mai

March 14, 2019 by  
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Architectural practice Chiangmai Life Architects has completed a striking villa that blends elements of traditional Thai architecture together with environmentally savvy construction practices and modern amenities fit for 21st-century living. Located in the mountains of northern Thailand , the project, dubbed the ‘Earth & Wood Villa,’ was built primarily of locally sourced natural materials from the self-made adobe bricks to the exposed timber elements throughout. In addition to mountain vistas, the property is sandwiched between Lamyai tree orchards and rice fields, views of which are maximized throughout the home. Spanning an area of nearly 7,500 square feet, the expansive residence serves as the family home for a couple and their three children. The main house is a U-shaped structure oriented toward the north with four bedrooms lined up in a row in the east-facing private wing. The open-plan living area, dining room, kitchen and pantry are clustered across a hallway in the south of the building; full-height glazed folding doors open the living room and dining area up to an outdoor swimming pool. An entertainment area is in the west wing. A small home office is tucked into a second-floor mezzanine gallery and overlooks views of the surrounding landscape. The guest cottage with a sunset veranda sits adjacent to the main house. To meet modern living comforts, the residence is equipped with air conditioning in the private wing; however, it relies solely on natural ventilation in the living areas. Large openings allow for cross breezes and hot air while the raised roof — inspired by local vernacular architecture — permits hot air to escape and induces air circulation. The thick adobe brick walls that were built of local clay, sand and bamboo shavings provide thermal insulation. The exterior is coated in a water-resistant mixture of lime and fine earth powder. Related: Breathtaking bamboo building withstands earthquakes and boasts a zero-carbon footprint Locally sourced  bamboo  was used to construct the carport, barn and entrance gate; natural stone tiles were used for flooring. “The client was looking for a modern interpretation of using natural materials,” Chiangmai Life Architects explained. “Adobe brick walls combined with wooden roof structures were designed in a way to make this earth and wood residence both functional as a modern family home as well as in harmony with its environment and surroundings. This meant a design and finish fit for the needs and requirements of a 21st century family.” + Chiangmai Life Architects Photogrpahy by  Alberto Cosi , drone shots by Markus Roselieb via Chiangmai Life Architects

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Adobe brick combines with wood in a low-carbon villa in Chiang Mai

Iceland approves killing of more than 2,000 whales

February 26, 2019 by  
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Iceland has just approved the killing of 2,000 whales over the course of the next five years. The country’s government is allowing whaling companies to slaughter 217 minke and 209 fin whales per year until 2025, sparking outrage among environmental and conservation groups around the world. Officials in Iceland believe that killing these two groups of whales is sustainable and based on scientific studies. In fact, the minister of the fisheries department, Kristján Þór Júlíusson, says that minke and fin whales are overpopulated in Iceland’s oceans and hunting them will help reduce overpopulation. Related: Ghost gear is haunting our oceans “Whaling in Icelandic waters is only directed at abundant whale stocks, North Atlantic common minke whales and fin whales, it is science-based, sustainable, strictly managed and in accordance with international law,” a statement from the government read. Not everyone agrees with the ministry’s research. Conservationists say that their conclusion is based on faulty research and that killing whales does not offer any benefits to the country. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), heavily criticized the new law, and claims that it does not have support from local residents— many of whom do not use whale products on a regular basis. Whale watching is a huge tourism draw for Iceland. The whale watching industry accounts for $13.4 million of the country’s economy. Hunting whales, meanwhile, brings in around $8 million. While Iceland employs more individuals in whale watching, hunting these ocean faring creatures pays more. Regardless of the justification, hunting whales was banned by the International Whaling Commission back in 1986. The law was put in place because whale populations were on the decline due to hunting. Despite these widely upheld laws, Iceland continues to kill whales on an annual basis — and minke and fin whales are not the only two species caught in the crosshairs. In 2018, a whaling crew out of Iceland called Hvalur hf killed a blue whale, an act in direct violation of international laws . The incident sparked outrage around the world and drew attention to the country’s whaling practices. Undeterred by worldwide condemnation, Iceland has not shown any signs of stopping the hunting of whales over the next five years. Via CNN Images via janeb13

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A 1960s home gets a modern facelift with solar panels and rainwater collection

February 25, 2019 by  
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Needing more room to accommodate their growing family, a young couple enlisted the help of North Melbourne-based McManus Lew Architects to turn their single-bedroom villa into a modern three-bedroom dwelling. Built in the 1960s as part of a 10-unit development, the property — dubbed Kew Villa — needed to maintain a consistent exterior appearance to match the neighboring buildings; however, the interiors could be changed to better fit the clients’ contemporary lifestyle. The home was also outfitted with solar panels that return excess energy to the power grid, a rainwater catchment system and recycled construction materials. Spanning an area of a little over 1,300 square feet, the increased size of the Kew Villa was made possible with the purchase of a modestly sized and underutilized yard next to the original property. Since indoor/outdoor living was important to the clients, the architects not only retained the home’s existing south-facing courtyard but also added a new deck area on the north side that connects to the surrounding garden. Massive panes of glass and glazed doors create a seamless connection between the indoors and the deck, which serves as an outdoor living room with a built-in bench, planter box and a retractable awning for shade. “[The dwelling] boasts the features of a much more substantial home and demonstrates that comfortable and private family living can be achieved in unexpected places,” the architects said in a project statement. “Materials were selected to both sit comfortably amongst the existing textures and quietly to allow the appreciation of space. Honest timeless materials such as recycled brick , blackbutt timber and plywood work in harmoniously and are both classic and contemporary.” Related: A prefab home in Sydney celebrates indoor-outdoor living Dominated by white walls punctuated with timber surfaces and greenery throughout, the light-filled interior feels bright and spacious. Access to ample natural light and operable glazing helps reduce the energy demands of the home. Energy costs are further offset thanks to a photovoltaic system. Rainwater is collected to service the toilets. + McManus Lew Architects Via ArchDaily Images by Emily Bartlett Photography via McManus Lew Architects

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A 1960s home gets a modern facelift with solar panels and rainwater collection

Vegetarian restaurant in the Maldives lets guests harvest their own food

February 25, 2019 by  
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Way out in the Indian Ocean, guests at a luxury Soneva resort are participating in the ultimate farm-to-table experience — and they even get to harvest the ingredients for their own dinners. The Soneva Fushi just opened Shades of Green, its new vegetarian restaurant at the exclusive Maldives resort. The seed for the vegetarian restaurant was planted when Copenhagen-based chef Carsten Kyster visited Soneva Fushi as a guest in March 2018. Kyster has worked at the River Café and The Sugar Club in London as well as traveling and working in Southeast Asia over the last 15 years. After eating a lunch made with ingredients from Soneva Fushi’s organic garden, inspiration struck. A year later, the 20-seat Shades of Green welcomes guests for intimate, plant-based dinners. Related: Peek inside the BIG-designed garden village for one of the world’s best restaurants Before dining at the new vegetarian restaurant, guests take a guided tour of the garden , learning about the herbs, fruits and vegetables while picking dinner ingredients. They gather around a fire pit for an appetizer, then move to tables set beneath fruit trees to enjoy the remaining six courses. Dinner can last late into the night. Shades of Green’s menu will change with the seasons and is based around the colors red, green and yellow. Chef Kyster blends Maldivian and other Southeast Asian cuisines with Nordic culinary techniques, such as salting, smoking, pickling and fermenting. The meal is designed to fulfill six categories: cleanse, raw, crispy, grain, fire and sweet. For example, mangosteen kombucha paired with plums, beetroot vinegar powder and shiso leaves is a cleansing dish. A fire dish contains hotter ingredients, such as leeks and pepper sauce. Soneva Fushi is located within the Baa Atoll, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve coral reef . Guests in the 61 private villas enjoy amenities like an open-air cinema, a high-tech observatory, a glassblowing studio, private butlers and 500 different wines — and now, a vegetarian restaurant, too. + Shades of Green Photography by Julia Neeson via Shades of Green

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Vegetarian restaurant in the Maldives lets guests harvest their own food

China closes Mount Everest base camp after overwhelming trash problem reports

February 22, 2019 by  
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China is taking steps to clean up Mount Everest amid growing concerns about trash accumulation. The base camp at the foot of the world’s tallest mountain is officially closed to tourists until further notice. The closure of the base camp comes after a surprising report from the Tibet Autonomous Region Sports Bureau, which claims it has picked up over 8 tons of trash from the site, including human waste and general garbage, last year alone. It is unclear when the base camp will open to tourists. Related: Global warming will melt over 1/3 of the Himalayan ice cap by 2100 “[N]o unit or individuals are allowed entry into the core area of the Mount Qomolangma National Nature Reserve,” local officials posted in Tibet . Qomolangma is what Tibetans call Everest. The notices were originally posted last December, though the closure is only now getting attention from media outlets around the world. Climbers can still gain access to Everest via China but not without a special permit. The country plans to issue around 300 permits in 2019. Tourists can also visit Everest, they just cannot reach the mountain through China. Anyone can still reach the north face of Everest via the Rongbuk Monastery, which is located around a mile from the main base camp. Trash buildup around the base of Everest has become a major issue over the past few years. China and Nepal have both initiated programs to deal with removing trash from the site, including encouraging climbers to take their garbage with them when they leave base camp. China, for example, has started to fine climbers who do not come off the mountain with their waste, while Nepal charges $4,000 for a refundable garbage deposit. Despite the efforts to curb trash accumulation, only about 50 percent of climbers came off the mountain with the minimum trash requirement. Although the majority of climbers reach Everest by way of Nepal, 40,000 visitors made their way to the Chinese base camp in 2015. China has not announced when it plans to reopen its base camp on the foot of Mount Everest. Via EcoWatch Image via Shutterstock

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Monarch butterfly conservation groups fight to conserve the species

February 20, 2019 by  
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Monarch butterfly conservation is in full effect as numerous organizations have shared concerns for the beautiful butterfly. The number of monarch butterflies observed at 97 sites in 2018 was dramatically lower than ever before, according to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation , an organization that monitors monarch butterfly populations. In fact, the numbers dropped as much as 86 percent. That’s a startling statistic and is much higher than scientists expected it be. Worse yet, looking back twenty to thirty years, the records showed a population around 4.5 million, which means the rate has been rapidly declining for decades. The numbers have plummeted so dramatically, that it has now become a race to save the vanishing species. Fortunately for the Eastern and Western monarch butterfly, there are several groups fighting for their survival. When it comes to increasing numbers and monarch butterfly conservation, the focus is splintered, working simultaneously to improve natural habitat alongside evaluating the health of the butterfly population. Here are some notable organizations and a highlight of their efforts to help the monarch butterflies. Related: California’s Monarch butterfly population hits ‘potentially catastrophic’ low in 2018 Southern Oregon Monarch Advocates (SOMA) The largest monarch habitat restoration projects in the western U.S., beginning in 2017 and continuing today, is taking place in the backyard of SOMA and they’ve played a key role in its success. Covering over 300 acres across Southern Oregon, the Southwest Oregon Pollinator Collaborative Project is working towards rebuilding pivotal habitats for the insects . For their part, SOMA placed over 7,000 plants over 40 acres in the Sampson Creek Preserve in the hopes of attracting and populating the butterflies. This project was one of the most recent of several, representing nearly five years of hands-on habitat restoration and community education. In 2015, the group began developing waystations for the butterflies — the largest of which is located at an appealing creekside location at Coyote Trails School of Nature in Medford, Oregon. Relying on the suggestions of published experts in the field, the SOMA group establishes plants well known as butterfly attractants, such as milkweed and other nectar-bearing plants . They also distribute seeds to encourage backyard planting and offer community outreach to several organizations with similar interests. Monarch Watch Based out of the University of Kansas, Monarch Watch promotes education pertaining to the monarch butterfly. They strive to inform the public about the life cycle and breeding of the species in an effort to encourage public involvement in the cause. In addition, the group also engages in research to better understand their biology and migration patterns. Monarch Watch also promotes the protection of known habitats and assists with the development of potential new habitats for the species . The website offers resources for the community and classrooms, such as a list of research projects that students can undertake along with information on how to rear monarchs. Monarch Watch feels that in order for the public to help, they need to have a better understanding of the issues so they provide information about how human activities such as infrastructure development decimates the natural habitat of the butterfly. They report that both overwintering and summer habitats are at risk due to human activities such as logging trees (known to aid the monarch) and building within the few known migration sites through Mexico and California. Journey North Journey North is another organization focused on saving the monarch butterfly. For twenty five years, Journey North has worked to maintain reliable resources for educators and the public. As an online citizen science program, they encourage teachers, scientists, members of the community and nature centers to report sightings so they can maintain a realtime database of monarch locations and numbers. This information is then mapped as waves of migrations move across the continent. The more people they involve, the more information they can gather. With a focus on “ecologically- sustainable relationships between people and the land through integrative, innovative, and collaborative science, stewardship, education, and public engagement,” community involvement is at the core of their mission. Monarch Joint Venture (MJV) The Monarch Joint Venture is an example of private and governmental organization coming together in an effort to conserve the monarch butterfly. More than 70 partners are part of the joint venture, all with the goal of “implementing science-based habitat conservation and restoration measures” to protect the migration of the butterfly. With a vast network of resources from all levels of stakeholders, the Monarch Joint Venture culminates all the information gathered and produces an annual report called the Monarch Conservation Implementation Plan that outlines the best conservation and habitat planning techniques for organizations making the effort to protect nesting grounds, build habitats and work to better understand the species and their needs. To further coordinate the efforts of this diverse group of like-minded organizations, the MJV maintains a visual map database of ongoing projects so people can connect with others in their area. Financially, the MJV also allocates funds to different conservation projects across the lower 48 states. As with all monarch conservation organizations, MJV works to provide information about the species, including their needs, biology , habitat, habits, migratory patterns, etc. so they facilitate an organized webinar series on the topic. Reports across the board support the knowledge that the monarch butterfly has become dangerously threatened. Organizations like those above agree that saving the species will require a coordinated effort of educators, scientists and the public from Mexico and up the west coast to Canada. Via Monarch Joint Venture , Journey North , Monarch Watch , SOMonarchs Image via elleo , eliza28diamonds , lauralatimer

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