Washed Ashore: 4 Innovative Products From Upcycled Marine Plastic

December 4, 2018 by  
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Washed Ashore: 4 Innovative Products From Upcycled Marine Plastic

Lecomte reaches mile 1,000 in his swim across the Pacific Ocean

October 3, 2018 by  
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Ben Lecomte, the first person to swim across the Atlantic Ocean back in 1998, is now attempting to be the first swimmer to traverse the Pacific Ocean . The record-setter is taking on the challenge not only for himself, but also to raise awareness about ocean pollution, health and conservation. Lecomte has now passed the 1,000 nautical mile marker from his starting point in the port city of Yokohama, Japan. “My eyes are not too much on the milestones,” Lecomte said of his headline distance. “But it’s important to have milestones to celebrate any progress.” The swimmer is nearly a fifth of the way through his 5,500-mile expedition. Related: Man plans to swim the Pacific Ocean to raise awareness for plastic pollution Despite six years of preparation, Lecomte and his crew aboard the research vessel dubbed ‘Seeker’ have had to overcome many obstacles since leaving Yokohama in June. The team has been forced back to port by typhoons , suffered sea sickness aboard the 65-foot (20-meter) sailboat and rerouted several times to avoid cargo ships. Aside from this, Lecomte attempts to swim an average of 30 miles a day, aided by North Pacific currents and a protein-based diet of approximately 8,000 calories. Throughout the roughly eight hours it takes him to swim this distance, he is also collecting ocean debris and plastic that his expedition team geotags for research. “Every single day we collect trash,” Lecomte said. “I’m truly shocked by the amount of plastic I find on my way every single day.” The team has collected more than 1,300 pieces of floating trash along its journey, scooping up to four samples each minute with a specially designed net. Related: Mountain Heroes cyclist aims for world record to fight climate change Even among the heart-rending stages of Lecomte’s journey, there have still been touching moments. “I am very surprised by the amount of amazing encounters I made in the middle of nowhere — birds, jellyfish, swordfishes, turtles , dolphins, whales and even a shark who followed me for two days,” he said. “As I swim everyday, I see this wild and beautiful environment being affected by the virus of plastic. Every stroke is dedicated to inspire people and find ways to rethink their plastic consumption on land.” Viewers can tune-in to top science publisher Seeker.com and its social channels to watch daily videos and live moments from the expedition, with weekly updates also airing on Discovery. Follow Ben’s journey at Seeker.com/TheSwim . Via Seeker Images via Seeker

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Lecomte reaches mile 1,000 in his swim across the Pacific Ocean

LEGO reintroduces Vestas wind turbine set, now made with plant-based plastic

October 3, 2018 by  
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LEGO Group has just released a  LEGO Creator Expert set from the ‘vault’ that focuses on sustainable energy. The company announced its Vestas Wind Turbine creation at New York Climate Week in hopes of encouraging creativity while spreading the word about renewable and sustainable energy sources. The revamped wind turbine set will be the first LEGO set featuring the new plant-based plastic LEGOs, Plants from Plants. LEGO collaborated with Vestas, a leader in sustainable energy, to make the new and improved wind turbine set. Not only does the kit represent renewable energy, but some of the included plant elements are made from a plant-based plastic sourced from sugarcane. This is the first time LEGO has issued a set including pieces from its Plants from Plants initiative, and customers will be able to purchase the wind turbine this coming Black Friday (November 23). Related: LEGO is rolling out its first plant-based plastic pieces The Vestas Wind Turbine set is comprised of 826 pieces and stands 3 feet tall. The wind turbine overlooks a wooded area complete with spruce trees — made in part from sugarcane — as well as a cottage with a working porch light. The set will be available for $200. The toy company plans on using only sustainable materials in core products and product packaging by 2030. In addition to this commitment, LEGO has also pledged to become eco-friendly in the production of its plastic bricks. To that end, LEGO incorporates wind power in the production process and generates as much power from sustainable sources as it does from traditional ones. “We strive to make a positive impact on the environment and are committed to climate action and to use sustainable materials in products and packaging,” said Tim Brooks, vice president of environmental responsibility at LEGO. “This wind turbine celebrates our first steps in bringing these ambitions to life, and we hope it will inspire builders to learn about renewable energy.” + LEGO Images via LEGO

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LEGO reintroduces Vestas wind turbine set, now made with plant-based plastic

Earth911 Podcast, Sept. 10, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear — the Water Episode

September 10, 2018 by  
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The Earth911 team sits down to talk water practices in … The post Earth911 Podcast, Sept. 10, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear — the Water Episode appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Podcast, Sept. 10, 2018: Sustainability in Your Ear — the Water Episode

Only 13% of Earth’s oceans remain untouched by humans for now

July 27, 2018 by  
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Only 13 percent of the planet’s oceans are unaffected by human activities, such as fishing and pollution, according to a recent study from the Wildlife Conservation Society . The study , published in Current Biology and executed in tandem with the University of Queensland, has completed the first systematic analysis of the Earth’s oceans and revealed that the only intact portions of global waters could be found in protected parts of the remote Pacific Ocean and around the poles. But even those waters have their tides turning toward becoming unsafe territories for marine wildlife . The research comes after studies in January and February revealed dead zones of marine wildlife quadrupled since the 1950s, and industrial fishing areas now cover half of the world’s oceans. “We were astonished by just how little marine wilderness remains,” Kendall Jones, lead researcher on the project, told NPR . “The ocean is immense, covering over 70 percent of our planet, but we’ve managed to significantly impact almost all of this vast ecosystem.” The cause of this human impression is due to enormous fishing fleets, global shipping and pollution run-offs from land. Add all of this to the distress caused by climate change , and it’s no surprise we’ve arrived at this point. Still, only 5 percent of the remaining wilderness found in the ocean resides in marine protection areas. Related: Astounding responsive map shows shark interactions with commercial fishers “Beyond just valuing nature for nature’s sake, having these large intact seascapes that function in a way that they always have done is really important for the Earth,” Jones said. “They maintain the ecological processes that are how the climate and Earth system function — [without them], you can start seeing big knock-on effects with drastic and unforeseen consequences.” In response to mounting pressure by scientists to create a protection status for the high seas, the UN Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS) has planned negotiations to create a treaty in September 2018. The debate will center around cutting fishing subsidies valued at more than $4 billion by governments worldwide. According to Jones, fishing “would actually be unprofitable if it weren’t for big subsidies.” He continued by noting that “the vast majority of marine wilderness could be lost at any time, as improvements in technology allow us to fish deeper and ship farther than ever before.” + Wildlife Conservation Society + Current Biology Via  The Guardian Images via Nelly Lendvai and Rey Perezoso

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Only 13% of Earth’s oceans remain untouched by humans for now

School-in-a-Box brings the gift of learning to children in Papua New Guinea

July 27, 2018 by  
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Americans often take education for granted. Whether their children attend public or private schools, the opportunity to learn is always there, from kindergarten through high school and often beyond. Meanwhile, many children around the world can only dream of this priceless endowment. Sydney architect Stephen Collier noticed this problem and wanted to take action – so, along with various international non-profit groups, he developed School-in-a-Box, which has helped make the dream of education a reality for many children in Papua New Guinea . In the Beginning Four years ago, Collier read Drusilla Modjeska’s novel The Mountain , which tells the story of how established cultures based on clans struggle to embrace contemporary mores in post-independence PNG. Since Collier was born in PNG, he had a personal interest in the material, and he contacted Modjeska, a stranger at the time. She asked him to join her on an excursion to Tufi , where she revealed she had an indefinable project in dire need of an architect. Collier was soon en route; he and Modjeska flew into the tropical coastal fjords of the province of Morobe in a tiny Dash8 plane. Multiple Challenges Modjeska is the co-founder of Sustain Educate Art Melanesia (SEAM), an organization that works to improve literacy in the six villages of Morobe. In the more remote areas of PNG, adult literacy is often as low as 15 percent; even though parents want their kids to be educated, they don’t want to sacrifice their customary connection to the farmland that sustains everyone in the villages. In addition, the villages are each very difficult to reach, with many sitting along single-file ridges above the coast, creating a long and treacherous journey for children. Even though the PNG government funds remote schools, each of which typically supports between 100-150 students of various ages with two teachers, these schools have a minimal number of books (no reference or literary texts, only workbooks) and hardly ever have electricity. Paper is hard to come by, fresh water is rare, and there are no pencils, crayons, pens or other writing materials. Students can’t read to each other, and the schools have nothing written by locals. The Box is Born Collier and Modjeska started brainstorming as soon as their plane touched down and a solid concept for School-in-a-Box began to grow. Early on, it was clear the box had to include water and solar electricity resources and storage systems. The box had to be light enough to easily transport from village to village, large enough to be functional, and tough enough to last and protect its cargo. Related: Hand-Built Library on Wheels Helps Retired Teacher Spread the Love of Reading The boxes, made from polycarbonate , are the same as those used by the US Army to transport armaments. The tents, poles, solar panels, and other materials conform to the box’s dimensions. The stretchable roof covers around 485 square feet and its translucent fabric is easily wound into a miniscule size for storage. The Treasure Inside Modjeska’s and Collier’s goals for the School-in-a-Box were multifaceted. They wanted the contents of the box to focus not just on childhood education, but also on creative writing and drawing for adult literacy classes, sharing and recording local stories to encourage imaginative investigation instead of pattern/repetitive learning, and making education more accessible to girls. After intensive idea sharing, they decided that each lockable, waterproof School-in-a-Box would include: two marine-grade plywood cabinets a 20 x 26-foot stretch tent with cables, poles, cables, stakes and ties two flexible solar panels batteries and an electrical board two laptop computers an A3 printer, guillotine and laminator books, paper, pencils, crayons, paints and brushes a 1,320-gallon water storage tank a simple water filter that can function without electricity or chemicals How It Works When the assembly is complete, cooling breezes flow freely underneath the structure. The roof is flexible enough to adjust to weather conditions and the sides are adjustable to stave off high winds. Collier created a hefty fabric gutter along one side to accumulate rainwater for storage in a pillow tank. To protect the gutter from direct sunlight, he made it concealable under a raised platform. The local community contributes some of the materials and helps in the platform construction. When closed, the cabinets form a box, although they open up and extend out in five directions. A teacher can conduct a class on one side, private study can take place on another, and the other sides serve as storage compartments. Looking Forward Mundango Abroad, The Readings Foundation, Planet Wheeler Foundation, Victorian Womens’ Trust, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and numerous other charitable organizations support the project, which has been going strong since its inception in 2014. Stephen Collier Architects, which won The Australian Institute of Architects Small Project Architecture prize in 2018 for this project, is investigating how to deliver more boxes to PNG in the future. A new fund to make that happen and take donations has been set up. If you would like to donate or assist in other ways, please email  info@collierarchitects.com  with SCHOOL-IN-A-BOX in the subject line. + Stephen Collier Architects Images courtesy of Stephen Collier Architects

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School-in-a-Box brings the gift of learning to children in Papua New Guinea

Coral forests thrive near Sicilys underwater volcanoes

July 10, 2018 by  
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Nearly one kilometer below the water surface near Sicily, a rare ecosystem of corals, sponges and wildlife is thriving. A recent study from conservation agency Oceana discovered healthy and active coral forests near underwater volcanoes just north of Sicily. These coral forests were previously undiscovered by humans but have not been spared from their impact via pollution. As an under-researched area, scientists wanted to learn more about the wildlife near the Aeolians Islands north of Sicily, the location of several underwater volcanoes . Exploring around a kilometer under the surface, the team found coral forests rich with endangered species. At the shallowest levels, a research robot found red algae beds that support both plants and sea animals in the area. Sea fans and horse mackerel were abundant near the surface. At intermediate depths, sharks laid eggs in beds of black coral, complemented with beds of red coral and yellow tree coral. Both colored corals are considered threatened species in the Mediterranean Sea . Related: Red List expands to 26,000 endangered species The most exciting discoveries were found at the bottom of the ocean floor. As far down as 981 meters, researchers found naturally growing bamboo corals on the endangered species list , as well as sea squirts and carnivorous sea sponges that were not known to live in the area. The deep dive also revealed two species never before seen in the area: the skinny sea star  Zoroaster fulgens and a goby fish originally found near the Adriatic Sea. Unfortunately, this unique environment isn’t immune to human damage. The diving robot discovered extensive evidence of fishing pollution , including abandoned traps, nets and fishing lines. Some of those contributed to the death of the wildlife, including turtles and corals. Other discarded waste found includes single-use plastic flatware, glass and even tires. “We have found tens of features that are internationally protected in the Mediterranean, from impressive coralligenous beds to loggerhead turtles and many species of corals and molluscs,” Ricardo Aguilar, senior research director for Oceania, said in a statement. “However, we also found widespread impacts of human activity, even in the farthest and deepest areas, and it is vital that we stop harming marine life if we are to preserve the uniqueness of this part of the Tyrrhenian Sea.” The discoveries will help scientists develop a plan to protect the unique ecosystem from future damage. Oceana’s expedition is part of bigger research expedition with the Blue Marine Foundation to better understand the Aeolians Islands and their  environment . + Oceana Images via  © Oceana

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Coral forests thrive near Sicilys underwater volcanoes

Man plans to swim the Pacific Ocean to raise awareness for plastic pollution

May 25, 2018 by  
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You’ve heard a lot about the ocean plastic crisis, and may even know a fair amount about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch . But for many of us, the issue can still seem far away when we drink out of a plastic bottle or tote groceries in a plastic bag. Professional distance swimmer Ben Lecomte aims to offer a fresh, personal perspective on ocean health as he swims 5,500 miles across the Pacific Ocean . Inhabitat caught up with Lecomte just days before he plans to leave for the potentially record-setting trek. Lecomte could be the first man to swim across the Pacific Ocean, but that’s not his goal for this venture. “My goal is to do something a little bit out there, a little bit extreme, to get the attention on an issue very important to everybody: the state of the ocean ,” he told Inhabitat. He’ll leave from Tokyo and swim to San Francisco, across thousands of miles, in a journey that could take around six months. Related: The Ocean Cleanup is about to send a giant plastic collector to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch Lecomte’s father taught him how to swim in the Atlantic Ocean . “I remember spending a lot of summers on the beach and never seeing plastic. Within my lifetime, now it has suddenly changed. I cannot walk on a beach where I don’t see any plastic,” he said. “I have children, and I ask myself, how is it going to be for them when they are older and they walk with their kids, is it going to be worse, is it going to be better? The only way to make it better is first of all, we have to be aware of the problem, and second of all, we have to start taking action. And it’s something that we can do. We have a solution, but it means we change our habit, we change our behavior, and then by our collective action, we can make a difference.” A volunteer-staffed, wind – and solar -powered sailboat will accompany Lecomte as he swims for around eight hours a day. He’ll need to consume about 8,000 calories daily, but he said he won’t take breaks on the boat and so won’t each much during those eight hours, just liquids like soup. He’ll eat two large meals in the morning and at night, and eat if he wakes up in the middle of the night. Will the sailboat inadvertently cover some of the distance? Lecomte says they’ll try to keep the boat in the place where he stops, but if they move, they will travel back so he can pick up where he left off. Along the way, they’ll gather over 1,000 samples for 27 scientific partners with two main research focuses: ocean health and human health . Lecomte said that in the past, scientists typically haven’t been able to gather samples from across an entire ocean — that would take too long. But his journey offers a perfect opportunity to do so. Plastic is a primary emphasis; Lecomte will swim right through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Radiation from Fukushima and phytoplankton are among other ocean research areas. To delve into human health, Lecomte will be working with NASA . “Since I’m going to be in low gravity, there are a few things they would like to find out how it’s going to affect me or not. My bone density is going to change; pressure on my eyes is also something that affects astronauts, [and they want] to find out if that’s going to change for me,” he said. The wealth of information Lecomte could collect, and awareness he could raise, has the potential to be immense. But will such a voyage leave its own impact on the Pacific Ocean? Lecomte told Inhabitat renewable energy will generate the power they need. They won’t throw out trash, keeping everything on the boat, and will limit plastic packaging . The team has partnered with several organizations, including Mission Blue , the Ocean Voyages Institute , and the Ocean Institute . “They already have initiatives in place we want to reinforce,” said Lecomte. “For example, the Ocean Institute has 2,500 kids that go to their activities and learn about the plastic problem in the ocean, and that will do some of the data and collect some of the samples we’ve collected, and replicate some of what we do. We’ll try to be in connection with them and interact with those kids so they know what they are doing is being done in the middle of the ocean as well.” Lecomte is scheduled to leave on Wednesday, May 30. Seeker and Discovery are partnering for a project to cover Lecomte’s journey called The Swim , and they’ll produce content with Nomadica Films . Live coverage, mid-form and short-form videos, weekly Instagram stories, and weekly Discovery updates will all be part of The Swim, and the groups plan to release a feature-length documentary next year. You can also see where Lecomte is via The Longest Swim’s live tracker . + The Longest Swim + The Swim Images courtesy of Ben Lecomte

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Man plans to swim the Pacific Ocean to raise awareness for plastic pollution

‘Trashy’ Sea Sculptures Focus Attention on Ocean Pollution

November 8, 2017 by  
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Some folks stroll along shorelines ignoring wayward flip-flops, scattered bits … The post ‘Trashy’ Sea Sculptures Focus Attention on Ocean Pollution appeared first on Earth911.com.

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‘Trashy’ Sea Sculptures Focus Attention on Ocean Pollution

A spectacular staircase draws you into this breathtaking daylit loft in Vienna

June 7, 2017 by  
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This renovated loft in Vienna has a sculptural staircase at its core that appears to support the entire upper floor. Design studio Smartvoll sought to preserve as much of the original space as possible while cultivating a minimalist feel reminiscent of Adolf Loos’s interiors. The renovation of the 3,767-square-foot Loft Panzerhalle introduced an abundance of natural light into the interior. The architects left the ribbon windows on the upper floor intact instead of creating galleries typical in modern loft design . An impressive central staircase sweeps upwards like a concrete sculpture, rounding off the composition. The staircase also divides the room while creating a roof over the kitchen, recesses and elevations. Related: Architects turn a cramped apartment into a gorgeous loft where the owner’s cats can roam freely While concrete dominates the space, semi-transparent materials were used to delineate the guest area and bedroom. All the furniture looks integrated into the construction, celebrating free space and minimalist aesthetics. “We wanted to revitalize the space’s original charm,” said the architects. “Magnanimity and a spatial experience of both storeys were priorities. In all dimensions.” + Smartvoll Architects Via v2com Photos by Tobias Colz/smartvoll

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A spectacular staircase draws you into this breathtaking daylit loft in Vienna

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