Slippy turns ocean plastic into versatile and endlessly reusable cup sleeves

December 10, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Anyone who keeps up with news and current events knows that ocean pollution has become a major problem, especially considering the sheer quantity of plastic littering beaches and traveling through the waterways directly into marine wildlife habitats. So, the team at Slippy decided to use some of that plastic sourced from coastal areas to minimize another form of waste — cardboard cup sleeves. What is Slippy? Cardboard might be less harmful to the environment than other products, but it still requires the cutting down of trees, which provide us with clean air. The production process and post-consumer waste of cardboard sleeves could cover the entire state of Texas, so there must be a better, long-term solution for the individual sleeves on billions of coffee cups that are used for just moments and then tossed. Related: Scientists warn we are now entering the plastic age Zach Crain and his team developed Slippy, a cup sleeve that is not just reusable but is also made from recycled ocean plastic . The Slippy team launched the idea on a Kickstarter campaign , which was fully funded by 1,304 backers who pledged $41,664 toward the $10,000 goal. The entire project all started from the knowledge that once it has been produced, plastic never goes away. It takes generations to break down, adding pollutants to the soil along the way. Ocean plastic is even worse, because it ends up hurting marine wildlife. Recent studies even show alarming amounts of plastic inside the animals we rely on as food sources. Enter modern technology that can convert marine plastic into usable fibers. These fibers are typically a mix of ocean plastic combined with post-consumer plastic, and these fibers are now being used for a variety of products across many industries. Slippy took an extra step and is dedicated to creating yarn sourced 100 percent from ocean-bound plastic. That means more plastic removed from the ocean, specifically from beaches or waters within 30 miles of the coastline in areas with poor coastal maintenance systems in place. The Slippy is available in an assortment of finished fabric designs, all of which have a cone shape that fits snugly on a variety of cups, offering a non-slip grip and hand comfort for your morning brew or evening brewsky. Inhabitat’s review of Slippy While gathering more information on Slippy, the team offered to send me a sample for review. Once it arrived, I then ran around my house, slipping it over a variety of beverage vessels to truly put this cup sleeve to the test. Of course, the cone shape slides neatly onto disposable coffee cups, but as an environmentally conscious consumer, I avoid single-use cups wherever possible. The Slippy proved to be ideal for the stainless steel cups I keep in the freezer as well as bottles, cans, pint glasses, water bottles and pretty much every other form of cup I tried. There was a slight slip on cold beer bottles due to the cone shape, but it still worked well at keeping my hands warm and dry while holding the frosty beverage. The Slippy is great for keeping hands from getting too cold or too hot from the surface of cups, but my favorite part of this cup sleeve is that it keeps my drink from creating a puddle of condensation by absorbing the moisture from cold drinks. It’s honestly the best cozy I’ve ever had. They appear to be very durable and endlessly reusable, they grip the surface of cups nicely and they are pleasant to the touch (no squeaky, plastic feel). The Slippy will be a growing part of my gift-giving profile. + Slippy Images via Slippy and Dawn Hammon / Inhabitat Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by Slippy. All opinions on the products and the company are the author’s own.

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Slippy turns ocean plastic into versatile and endlessly reusable cup sleeves

Luca Curci Architects proposes a self-sustainable Vertical City of the future

December 5, 2019 by  
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Italian architecture firm Luca Curci Architects has unveiled the Vertical City, a futuristic proposal for urban development comprising a series of modular, zero-energy skyscrapers anchored into the ocean floor. Envisioned as a completely self-sufficient settlement, the utopian city promises “healthier lifestyles” for the vertical city-building’s residents. The thought experiment was recently presented for the first time at the Knowledge Summit 2019 in Dubai last month. The Vertical City proposal comprises a super-tall, mixed-use residential building at its core surrounded by and connected to three civic-oriented towers and three crescent-shaped leisure buildings. All buildings would be built using modular, prefabricated elements that can be repeated horizontally as well as vertically. The Vertical City can also be expanded in parts and would be anchored into the sea bed close to the mainland. Related: WOHA unveils a lush, net-zero Singapore Pavilion for the 2020 World Expo The cylindrical buildings in the development are clad in photovoltaic glazing and punctuated with hexagonal openings that promote circulation of light and air. The central, 750-meter-tall residential tower would consist of 10 modular layers — each layer consists of 18 floors and includes a mix of homes, offices, stores and other facilities — to host a total of 25,000 people. The building would also offer more than 200,000 square meters of green space, which includes the public garden at the top of the building. “We will build a new way of living,” Luca Curci said in a press statement. “More sustainable . With more interconnected communities programs. Deleting suburbs. Reducing poverty.” In addition to the 25,000 people housed within the central residential tower, the Vertical City would service over 100,000 people who would travel to the city for work, school and medical care in the three adjacent towers that house offices, government departments, healthcare facilities and educational institutions. The three crescent-shaped buildings, called the Moons, offer lifestyle amenities such as hotels, wellness and spa centers, sport centers and shopping malls. + Luca Curci Architects Images via Luca Curci Architects

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Excessive road salt threatens public health and wildlife

November 13, 2019 by  
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Many people and municipalities turn to road salt to de-ice wintry streets and sidewalks. Unfortunately, road salt poses serious environmental and water contamination risks. Just one teaspoon is enough to contaminate 5 gallons of water, making removal via reverse osmosis extremely expensive. Moreover, the health of humans, pets, wildlife , aquatic organisms, vegetation, soil and infrastructure are heavily impacted as road salts enter the environment, seeping into groundwater and draining via runoff into freshwater estuaries. At the forefront of advocating for better practices on road salt use is the Izaak Walton League’s Winter Salt Watch program. Just last winter, the League dispensed 500 chloride test kits to volunteers across 17 states. Tests showed consistently high levels of chloride ions in waterways surrounding eight major metropolitan areas, signaling excessive misuse of road salts. This year, the League has sent out a batch of chloride test kits to more than 200 new volunteers. Related: The Ocean Cleanup reveals the Interceptor to remove plastic pollution from rivers “Our goal is to not only make residents aware of the impact road salt has on local streams but also give them the tools to advocate for changes to road salt practices that will decrease salt impacts while keeping roads safe for drivers,” explained Samantha Briggs, the League’s Clean Water Program Director. Road salts are mainly comprised of sodium chloride, ferrocyanide (an anti-caking substance) and impurities like aluminum, cadmium, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, nickel, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. All of these components are contaminants in water and exacerbate salinity levels. What risks do they pose? The sodium chloride, for instance, breaks down into sodium (Na+) and chloride (Cl-) ions. Sodium in drinking water is unhealthy for individuals suffering from hypertension, or high blood pressure, which explains the EPA’s measure of monitoring sodium content in public water supplies. Meanwhile, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has issued warnings regarding road salt ingestion and dangers to paw health of pets. Paw exposure to road salt exposure begets irritation, inflammation and cracking that leads to infection. When road salt is licked off paws or eaten, pets can exhibit vomiting, diarrhea, depression, disorientation, cardiac abnormalities, seizures, coma and even premature death. As for wildlife impacts, once road salt enters a body of water, it is nearly impossible to remove. This adversely affects bird, amphibian, mammal, fish and aquatic plant populations. Road salt in the environment elevates both salinity stress and osmotic stress, which are associated with aberrant development, nutrient uptake degradation, toxicosis, weakened immune systems, low reproductive levels, population decline and mortality. When road salt damages vegetation, that creates losses in food resources, shelter and breeding sites. Similarly, road salt’s presence accelerates infrastructure corrosion and structural integrity. Streets, highways and bridges are all subject to damage as road salt impairs asphalt and creates potholes. The corrosion extends to vehicles, as repeated salt exposure increases rusting and damage to critical vehicle components, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA) . Even more worrisome, road salts damage water pipes, causing toxic metals, like lead or copper, to leach into drinking water. To promote awareness and best practices regarding the hazards of de-icing, the Izaak Walton League has been pushing for “smarter ways” of using road salt, especially with “alternative approaches that include brine or sand application.” For those interested in volunteering as a stream monitor with the League’s Winter Salt Watch program to help gauge water quality and road salt risks, a free chloride test kit can be ordered here . + Izaak Walton League of America Image via Eddie Welker

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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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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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Pacific heat wave threatens coral reefs in Hawaii and other regions

September 25, 2019 by  
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Researchers predict a major marine heat wave in the Pacific Ocean could prove disastrous to the fragile coral reefs along Hawaii’s Papa Bay and similar coastlines. Warmer water conditions often trigger coral bleaching, a condition that leaves coral reefs susceptible to mortality. Coral reefs play a very significant environmental and ecological role. As a habitat, for instance, they support many species in the marine environment. Coral reefs likewise serve as a protective barrier, buffering shorelines against deleterious wave action, especially during typhoon season, to minimize coastal damage and to prevent erosion. Healthy reefs contribute to local economies, particularly through tourism as well as commercial and recreational fishing. Related: ‘The Blob’ returns — marine heatwave settles over Pacific Unfortunately, when water is too warm, coral become stressed. They consequently expel the algae , or zooxanthellae, that live in their tissues. In doing so, coral turn white, a condition known as bleaching. Prolonged loss of the algae eventually leads to the coral’s demise. When coral reefs are compromised, the loss cascades, often causing far-reaching ecosystem repercussions. Back in 2015, a prominent marine heat wave eliminated half of the Papa Bay coastline’s coral reefs that surround Hawaii’s Big Island. This year, marine scientists associated with NOAA similarly predict that another round of very warm water will occur in the region once again. “In 2015, we hit temperatures that we’ve never recorded ever in Hawaii ,” NOAA oceanographer Jamison Gove said. “What is really important — or alarming, probably more appropriately — about this event is that we’ve been tracking above where we were this time in 2015.” Earlier this September, NOAA researchers warned of the Blob’s return. The Blob — the moniker coined by Washington state climatologist Nick Bond during the 2015 heat wave — describes the vast expanse of unusually warm water that occurred in the Pacific Ocean from 2014 to 2016. It adversely impacted coral reefs, causing global bleaching and diminished coastal fisheries’ yields throughout the Pacific. To date, this year’s Blob is reportedly the second-largest marine heat wave ever recorded in the past 40 years, just behind the 2014 – 2016 Blob. As a result, forecasts anticipate an even warmer October, which could critically undermine the coral that are still recovering from the first Blob. “Temperatures have been warm for quite a long time,” Gove continued.  “It’s not just how hot it is — it’s how long those ocean temperatures stay warm.” While scientists are not yet able to pinpoint the exact causes for ocean temperatures warming, it is believed human-influenced climate change is a salient factor. Restoration efforts are in the works. Research suggests coral can be conditioned to withstand future onslaught of warmer water. Both scientists and coral hobbyists are on a mission to breed “super corals” resilient enough to avoid bleaching. It is hoped the introduction of these “super corals” into the environment will fortify reefs to better evolve amidst global warming conditions. Via Associated Press Images via Terri Stewart and NOAA

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Honda makes largest renewable energy purchase of any automaker

September 25, 2019 by  
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Multinational auto manufacturer Honda Motor Company, headquartered in Tokyo, recently made the largest renewable clean energy purchase by any car maker. The electricity will be utilized to offset emissions from its United States factories, thus enabling Honda to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent in its North American manufacturing plants. With widespread public debate and mounting regulatory pressures, automakers have no choice but to shift their business models to address the carbon dioxide reduction challenge. It is no wonder then that a growing number of automobile companies are turning to renewables, like wind and solar, to achieve sustainable returns. Related: Beautiful, solar-powered EV charging stations promise to charge a vehicle in 15 minutes According to Honda, it currently obtains about 21 percent of its North American operations’ power from low- or zero-emission power sources.  But it hopes to improve upon that, thanks to clinching the car industry’s largest renewable energy purchase. Honda’s new clean energy deal involves the purchase of wind power from an Oklahoma wind farm as well as sourcing energy from a Texas solar farm. Projections show that, with this clean energy purchase, Honda can annually offset 800,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. That’s equal to “100,000 U.S. households’ worth of CO2-emissions from household energy usage,” as described in Honda’s press release. Honda revealed, “Two Virtual Power Purchase Agreements (VPPAs) will secure 320 megawatts (MW) of wind and solar power totaling over 1 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of renewable electricity annually.” How do VPPAs operate? Honda explained that VPPAs are “a way for Honda to purchase renewable energy in locations where it is unable to purchase renewables from the local electric utility.” The automaker buys “electricity from a renewable energy supplier, but the clean energy does not go directly to Honda’s facilities; instead, it is sold into the electricity grid where the clean power is generated.” In effect, Honda’s ‘virtual purchase’ of that “renewable energy adds more clean energy into the nation’s grid,” which decreases fossil fuel dependency and any accompanying carbon dioxide emissions. Honda’s VPPA purchase essentially “de-carbonizes” the electricity grid. Analysts say VPPAs are becoming an ever-popular means for large corporations seeking to meet carbon dioxide emission reduction goals.  Tech giants, like Google and Microsoft, for instance, have historically purchased VPPAs as well. Business industry pundits forecast an uptick of VPPA procurements in the next couple of years as renewable energy policy intensifies. Aligned with its revitalized green mission, Honda’s long-term plans go far beyond clean energy purchases, as it continues its commitment to sustainability. The company similarly announced plans to electrify two-thirds of its manufactured vehicular fleet so that they are charged via renewable energy by 2030. + Honda Motor Company Image via Honda Motor Company

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NRPA and Coca-Cola partner to install trash traps to clean Atlanta waterways

September 24, 2019 by  
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The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), which is the leading nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of public parks, recently partnered up with beverage giant Coca-Cola to install trash trap systems in southwest Atlanta. The initiative seeks to keep pollution out of estuaries the Proctor Creek feeds into, such as the Chattahoochee River, and ultimately the ocean. As a 9-mile tributary of the Chattahoochee River, Proctor Creek experiences both stormwater runoff and flooding . The water runoff that moves the trash from storm drains empties into Proctor Creek and is then conveyed into connecting waterways. Related: Coca-Cola to offer Dasani water in aluminum cans and bottles to reduce plastic waste With the catchment system in operation, floating litter can be intercepted in the water runoff. Collected rubbish and debris are then guided into a larger collection container. Both the NRPA and Coca-Cola explained that the trash traps are technologically designed to prevent harm to fish and wildlife , for they do not use nets nor fencing. With a trash-free watershed, the surrounding communities’ water quality will be revitalized. Revitalization will also improve the overall quality of life for the region. Current estimates are that the traps reduce litter by 80 percent so that Proctor Creek is relatively cleaner before entering the Chattahoochee River. Coca-Cola is notorious for its massive plastic footprint. But just last month, in August 2019, Coca-Cola and its rival, PepsiCo Inc., both announced their departures from the leading plastics lobbying group, the Plastic Industry Association. Coca-Cola has deployed its global World Without Waste goal to recycle and reuse the equivalent of all the bottles and cans it sells by 2030. Additionally, Coca-Cola plans to recycle and reuse the bottles collected by the trash traps to transform them into graduation gowns for Atlanta Public Schools’ high school seniors. With this trash trap project, Coca-Cola is commercially maneuvering even closer toward a more environmentally friendly stance, perhaps to dispel its long-standing negative image as the world’s largest plastic polluter. Coca-Cola noted in its news release, “The visibility of the trash traps, educational programming and creation of local green jobs associated with the project will facilitate lasting change and foster environmental, economic and social benefits in the area.” Other stakeholders in the waterway improvement plan include the city of Atlanta, the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, Groundwork Atlanta, Park Pride and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Some of these partners will analyze data on the trash collection to document trends and detail effectiveness of the project design to inform best practices for optimal litter mitigation strategies. + Coca-Cola + NRPA Image via Shawn Taylor

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Algae Lamps are a work of art and natural shade in one

September 19, 2019 by  
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Algae is one of the newest materials to hit the market as a multi-purpose fiber. While it has been hauled out of the ocean, cultivated, dried and processed into myriad products, it typically loses some of its allure in the process — until now. Having spent years figuring out a way to use algae so that it maintains its natural essence, even when molded into a final product, algae has now taken form in the shape of a lamp. Algae Lamps are a product of this effort with lamp shades that are contoured for unique outcomes in shape and style. Each shade is different due to the flexibility of the algae — a quality that took years to master. With a goal in mind, the challenge was finding a way to change the color of the green algae without breaking down the composition of the plant. Additionally, the end product had to be malleable rather than rigid or brittle. Through the course of many trials, a workable formula finally netted the desired result. Related: This biodegradable T-shirt is made from trees and algae Nea Studio, a name that gives the nod to its founder Nina Edwards Anker, began in 2006 with a focus on sustainable design and has maintained that target throughout a host of projects through the years. The Algae Lamp is no exception. Sourcing algae as a natural product replaces the need for petroleum based products like plastic.  More than a sustainable lamp shade option, the Algae Lamp is a work of art, flowing and eye-catching with functionality as a bonus.  Each shade is morphed into a cylinder-like shape to both capture and direct the light within. The internal glow of the bulb creates a warm and calming ambiance in the space. The flared and rippled outer edges mirror the movement of algae in its natural habitat with each shade having its own individual design . A variety of shades grouped together create a chandelier that illuminates a room through the filter of the translucent Algae Shades. With the customizable design, the shades can be used as a single lamp or sconce and the material is adaptable for all types of bases, such as brass or wood. + Nea Studio Images via Nea Studio

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Algae Lamps are a work of art and natural shade in one

Send your news tips to Inhabitat!

September 19, 2019 by  
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As the climate crisis worsens by the minute, it is more important now than ever to report on the issues that both plague and benefit our world. Inhabitat has long been a steward in reporting the latest environmental happenings, but we need your help in order to further strengthen our reporting and keep readers informed with the latest news. Whether you are an environmental non-profit organization, a company trying to do its part for the planet, a citizen concerned about the Earth’s future, a scientist, a conservationist or anything in between, we strongly encourage you to reach out to us with the latest information related to the environment, sustainability, green technology, etc.  To help us post the most relevant, accurate news, please include any fact sheets, published research, accompanying images and/or contacts for interviews as well as any other related sources and documents for us to review in your tip email. Please note that we will thoroughly review and fact-check each news tip and reach out for more information if we decide to publish a tip. It is important to Inhabitat to fairly and accurately report the news and inform audiences of what is helping and hurting our planet. We are working to report original, exclusive content as much as possible, and your help is extremely valuable. We appreciate every news tip, and we look forward to hearing from you. Please submit tips and relevant, related material for review to tips@inhabitat.com Image via geralt

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