Deciphering wine labels: the differences between organic, natural, biodynamic and sustainable wines

November 15, 2019 by  
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‘Tis the season for holiday celebrations, cocktail parties and family gatherings. But before you pop the corks on those bottles of wine, take a moment to understand what you are about to drink. If you are hoping to serve wine made with sustainably grown, organic grapes , read the label carefully before committing to the purchase, or you might not be getting what you expect. With words like “natural,” “organic,” “biodynamic” and “sustainable,” it can be hard to decipher which wine is truly best for the planet. Here are some tips to understand sustainable wine labels. Marketing is a powerful tool, and companies will advertise characteristics of their wines that they think will appeal to the consumer. However, the terminology can be so confusing that a winery might misguide you without meaning to. Some words are so similar that you (and they) might even assume they all mean the same thing. Related: This is how climate change will impact wine Fortunately, steps have been taken to standardize the verbiage on these labels so you can better understand what’s in the bottle. But there is still variation throughout the food and beverage industry, especially for wine. Here is the terminology you are likely to see and exactly what it all means for the wines you imbibe. Organic or 100 percent organic wine In the U.S., the term organic is regulated and must fit into specific criteria. However, even within that criteria, you will find different wording. For example, wines made from organically grown grapes are grown without the use of pesticides , fungicides, herbicides, etc., and these wines do not contain sulfites added during wine production. (Organic wines do contain naturally occurring sulfites.) Note that the standards for “organic” classifications in Canada and Europe allow for a small amount of sulfites to be used during production. Biodynamic wine Biodynamic wines are organic, and these wines also follow farming ideologies dating back to the 1920s, when Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher and academic, presented scientific support showing that in order for a grape to reach its potential, the entire vineyard must be taken into account. In addition to growing grapes without chemicals or common additions such as yeast, the lunar and astrological cycles are often considered when making decisions about the health of the vineyard . These wines are also produced without interference to adjust for acidity. For example, instead of making changes during fermentation and flavor development, the focus is on healthy roots, soil and the atmosphere of the vineyard as a whole. Like the term “organic,” “biodynamic” wines have earned certification by meeting specific requirements. The governing board that approves the label is the Demeter Association, a branch of an organization dating back to 1928 during Steiner’s efforts to bring societal awareness about biodynamics in agriculture. Sustainable wine This label is fairly subjective and typically refers to the way the vineyard is managed more than the way the wine is produced. A vineyard (or farm) that aims to grow crops sustainably is concerned with the impact on the planet. This means using natural methods of balancing the soil, such as crop rotation. It can also mean using energy or water-saving practices . If your wine is made “sustainably,” it likely means it was made organically in accordance with the typical goals of sustainable farming, but don’t assume it’s organic without the label identifying it as such. Natural, all-natural or 100 percent natural wine When you see the word “natural” on a label, be aware that there are limited regulations surrounding the use of this term. There is no distinction between “natural,” “all-natural” or “100 percent natural.” Manufacturers of all types of food can slap this wording on labels. But most producers in the wine industry see the “natural” classification differently. For wine-making, a natural wine is the result of a natural process, meaning that process involves as little intervention as possible throughout the stages. In other words, the wine is fermented grapes in their most natural form. That means that a natural wine is organic and sometimes biodynamic, but organic and biodynamic wines are not always natural. Furthermore, any of these wines may or may not be sustainably produced. Because there is no oversight committee for a “natural” label, selecting a wine is all about getting to know the winemaker and asking questions at the tasting room. If you live in a wine region, buy locally so you can see the vineyard and know the source of your bottle. If you don’t live near a winery, do you research online. Most wineries are proud to share their growing practices and provide transparency if they are using sustainable, organic, natural or biodynamic methods. Via Wine Spectator , Eating Well and The Guardian Images via Shutterstock

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Deciphering wine labels: the differences between organic, natural, biodynamic and sustainable wines

Best US cities for vegans and vegetarians for World Vegetarian Day

October 1, 2019 by  
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Vegetarians and vegans frequently discuss the best cities to live in or visit, because it’s easier to enjoy a place when there are restaurants and activities that match your preferences. WalletHub’s new study , “Best Cities for Vegetarians and Vegans,” uses a variety of sources and statistics to rank the 100 biggest American cities for affordability, diversity, accessibility and quality, vegetarian lifestyle and overall rank. Just in time for World Vegetarian Day on October 1 and World Vegan Day on November 1, here’s what WalletHub found. The overall winners are: 1. Portland, Oregon 2. Los Angeles, California 3. Orlando, Florida 4. Seattle, Washington 5. Austin, Texas 6. Atlanta, Georgia 7. New York City, New York 8. San Francisco, California 9. San Diego, California 10. Tampa, Florida WalletHub used 17 key indicators of vegan- and vegetarian-friendliness, including grocery costs, proportion of high-ranking plant-based restaurants on online review sites, farmers’ markets and community gardens per capita and the presence of local vegetarian fests and veg cooking classes. The data came from the U.S. Census Bureau, Council for Community and Economic Research, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Feeding America, Yelp, TripAdvisor, USDA Organic INTEGRITY Database, The Trust for Public Land, United States Department of Agriculture, GrubHub, Meetup and Vegan.com. Related: These are the world’s top vegan cities Some of the more social factors, such as festivals and meetups, as well as GrubHub’s list of cities with customers that are most likely to order veg dishes, factored into the vegetarian lifestyle rank. The top five there included a couple of surprises: Anaheim, California and Durham, North Carolina, in addition to the more expected San Francisco, Los Angeles and Atlanta. Affordability had a roughly inverse correlation to veg lifestyle rankings. The top two most affordable cities — Laredo and Corpus Christi, Texas — ranked 98 and 93 on the vegetarian lifestyle index. The best chance of combining affordability with overall rank was Austin , which ranked fifth overall, 11th in affordability but still only 34th in vegetarian lifestyle. Of course, vegetarians will want to know which cities were at the bottom of the list, so if they visit, they can stock up on vegan protein bars beforehand. Here are the least veg-friendly cities in the U.S.: 91. Memphis, Tennessee 92. Tulsa, Oklahoma 93. Stockton, California 94. Winston-Salem, North Carolina 95. Henderson, Nevada 96. Baton Rouge, Lousiana 97: North Las Vegas, Nevada 98. Greensboro, North Carolina 99. San Bernardino, California 100. El Paso, Texas + WalletHub Image via Tony Webster

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LEED Gold-seeking wildlife center emphasizes energy conservation in Quebec

October 1, 2019 by  
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The Canadian city of Laval in southwestern Quebec has recently gained a new wildlife interpretation center with an impressive, energy-efficient design. It’s the first of its kind in the city and is targeting LEED NC v3 Gold certification . Designed by Montreal-based architecture firm Cardin Julien , the $11.5 million project provides a new community and educational resource for visitors to Parc de la Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, an urban wildlife sanctuary that spans 26 hectares rich with recreational opportunities including kayaking, canoeing and island hiking. Completed October 2018, the Parc de la Rivière-des-Mille-Îles exploration center features a main building with three floors. The ground floor houses a large multipurpose hall with a cafe and reception area framing views of the river through full-height glazing as well as museum programming and a monitoring room for conferences and events. The equipment rental space, locker room, ecology laboratory, researchers’ offices and day camp facilities are placed on the lower “river” level. The uppermost floor comprises an employee relaxation area and a flexible multipurpose room that can be partitioned into three sections. Related: Minimalist TRIPTYCH house pulls the Quebec outdoors in “In order for the project to integrate seamlessly into its environment, the use of wood was recommended for the building’s exterior,” reads the press release. “This material, which can also be found inside the building, fosters a warm environment and allows a connection between visitors and the nature around them. In addition, the structure was built in such a way that it preserves the mature trees growing onsite.” The project also includes a new parking pad, bike path, pedestrian walkways and landscaping as well as a new workshop and equipment distribution kiosk housed in a renovated stable. The main building is topped with a green roof as part of the project’s water conservation strategy that includes rainwater recycling. A high-performance building envelope and strategically placed windows and roof overhangs help contribute to energy savings and visitor comfort. + Cardin Julien Photography by David Boyer via Cardin Julien

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LEED Gold-seeking wildlife center emphasizes energy conservation in Quebec

Architecture students build temporary music festival venue using 160 repurposed apple bins

September 11, 2019 by  
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On Friday, August 2, the Pickathon Music Festival in Happy Valley, Oregon featured a temporary performance venue designed by the Portland State University School of Architecture. The project is another in a line of “diversion design-build” concept stages, known fondly as the “Treeline Stage,” built by the school for the festival since 2014. The very first Treeline Stage was made using wooden shipping pallets. Since then it has also featured cardboard tubes, dimensional lumber and wooden trusses as building material. The 2019 repurposed stage was inspired by images of apple blossoms. The temporary venues holds a total of 160 wooden bins that were previously used to harvest apples by a Pacific Northwest fruit producer. The structure towers are 40 feet at its tallest point, allowing ample space for everything from audio equipment, a backstage area, food vendors and room for audience seating. The natural background of the stage, an area where the meadow meets the woods, only adds to the organic yet mystical ambiance of the structure. This year, the musical festival hosted 18 different bands (all of various genres) on the six stages throughout the weekend. Some of the bands included Mereba, CAAMP, Julia Jacklin, JJUUJJUU, Bonny Light Horseman, Reptaliens, and Black Belt Eagle Scout.  Each tower was made up of anywhere from 15-30 bins, strategically stacked to resemble pentagonal clusters of blossoms. The shadows cast by the apple bins during the day created a series of artistic shadows, while colored LED lights incorporated into the structure helped illuminate the stage after dark. The student-faculty team used leftover lumber from the previous year’s Treeline Stage project to create the vertical elements supporting the towers. Following the festival, the apple bins were returned to the donating company to be used for transporting and holding harvested apples for the late Summer harvest — meaning no materials went to waste. + Portland State University School of Architecture Images via PSU School of Architecture

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Architecture students build temporary music festival venue using 160 repurposed apple bins

Shopping Your Values: Organic

July 30, 2019 by  
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This is the final article in a six-part series focused … The post Shopping Your Values: Organic appeared first on Earth911.com.

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We Earthlings: You Make a Difference

July 30, 2019 by  
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What connects us all? Nature and our shared relationships through … The post We Earthlings: You Make a Difference appeared first on Earth911.com.

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We Earthlings: You Make a Difference

REPII House offers expansive modular space with sleek design elements

May 27, 2019 by  
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Modular design is nothing new and continues to grow in popularity as well as functionality. The design has been a growing trend in innovative markets such as converted train cars and storage pods. But not all modular spaces feature modern design, fabulous natural lighting and sleek decor. In fact, the REPII House is a stark contrast to many modular blueprints with the idea that the extra space can be close but not attached to the main unit — and stylish to boot. The REPII House can be used as extra office space, a studio, a guest house or any number of other applications, because there is no need to adapt the area adjacent to the existing space. As a stand-alone unit, it can be delivered and set up without inconveniencing the main house or office. Related: This elevated prefab home in Chile takes in striking volcano views Developed by architects Bernardo Vivo and Guzmán Trípodi from VivoTripodi, the REPII House is located in Canelones, Uruguay and is an example of modular expansion focused on privacy and direct contact with nature . VivoTripodi believes that the space in which the unit rests should not cause a disruption of the natural elements around it. Instead, the prefab house was constructed offsite in a closed environment and delivered via truck to preserve the organic state of the site. In other words, there was no need to deal with a construction zone during the build. Instead, the unit was constructed elsewhere and neatly dropped into place. The module is 518 square feet of streamlined interior design at its best. The flowing floorplan moves through two bedrooms, a living room or intermediate space, a kitchenette and a bathroom. A massive wall of windows connect indoors to out , providing an encompassing view. A series of shutters can cover the windows by creating a solid siding. One unique feature of the design is the size, which was determined by the natural length of the boards vertically and horizontally in order to minimize waste and use materials effectively. + VivoTripodi Via ArchDaily Photography by Marcos Guiponi via VivoTripodi

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REPII House offers expansive modular space with sleek design elements

We Earthlings: Yeah, I’m In To Cook Organic

May 15, 2019 by  
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What connects us all? Nature and our shared relationships through … The post We Earthlings: Yeah, I’m In To Cook Organic appeared first on Earth911.com.

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We Earthlings: Yeah, I’m In To Cook Organic

Kooshoo introduces the first plastic-free, sustainable hair ties

March 27, 2019 by  
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Amid growing concerns of plastic waste around the world, one company has created sustainable hair ties that are better for the environment. Made from organic materials like cotton and rubber, Kooshoo has come up with the world’s first plastic-free hair ties that are completely biodegradable. These hair ties come in a variety of colors and styles and are made with sustainability in mind — from the way the materials are sourced to how the products are manufactured. About the company Jesse and Rachel, a couple based out of Victoria, Canada, founded  Kooshoo . The two, who made a name for themselves as yoga teachers, built the company from the ground up. Their goal was to create a business model with sustainability in mind. They are also hoping to lead the change in the fashion industry when it comes to eliminating plastics in clothing. With its core values being love, honesty and transparency, Kooshoo is well on its way to meeting its sustainability goals. Given that more than 20,000 pounds of hair-related products end up in the trash each day, Kooshoo’s mission is important in preserving the future of our planet. An inside look at Kooshoo hair ties People around the world lose hair ties on a daily basis. Most of these elastics end up in the trash or litter the environment, which is why it is important that Kooshoo hair ties are completely  biodegradable . Related: Saving the environment one hair wash at a time Kooshoo hair ties only contain two ingredients: natural rubber and organic cotton. This includes the thread that is used to keep the ties together. Each and every product is also certified by the GOTS, or better known as the Global Organic Textile Standard. Natural materials According to Kooshoo, all of the materials used in its hair ties are sourced from organic cotton. There are absolutely zero synthetics in the products, and the cotton is grown without the use of toxic pesticides . Not only is the end result better for the environment, but it is also beneficial to your skin. Each hair tie is manufactured in California, though all of the design work and testing is done in Canada. The materials are sent to local shops in Los Angeles , where workers cut, weave, sew and dye the ties before distributing them around the world. The dying process Kooshoo hand dyes all of its hair ties. The company employs a crew of artisans that are specially trained in dying  textiles , which also means that each product is unique. How fast do the hair ties biodegrade? The rate of degradation depends on how the hair ties are disposed. If the ties are put in a compost pile, then the organic materials — which make up about 75 percent of the product — will start to degrade in less than one year. In fact, microorganisms in the environment will feed on these organics until there is basically nothing left. The other 25 percent of the product is the natural rubber. This material is drawn from trees in a similar way as maple syrup. It does take a bit longer to biodegrade, though organisms will eventually eliminate it in anywhere from three to seven years. Compared to traditional hair ties that contain plastics, this is much more sustainable. Even if you were to lose the hair tie in water, it will still break down completely. According to a recent article published by  Kooshoo , it takes about double the time for its hair ties to completely biodegrade in water. Scientists estimate that these sustainable hair ties take about 14 years to break down in water conditions, but once they biodegrade, they leave absolutely no trace. What other kind of products does it offer? The main selling item for the company is its twist headband. These  organic  head pieces come in a variety of colors and styles and are suitable for men, women and children alike. The company, of course, has an assortment of plastic-free hair ties that come in various color schemes, including black and brown, blonde, rainbow assorted and sea shepherd. These ties are secure enough for the thickest of hair, yet soft enough to remain gentle on the head. Kooshoo also offers a few clothing options, including a versatile shawl for women and children’s pants that grow as the kid grows. Sustainability in mind Kooshoo facilities feature dye houses that are completely powered by solar energy . The organization also packages its hair ties in reusable shipping containers and bags. These practices help curb carbon emissions and lessen the amount of waste that ends up in landfills — and ultimately  oceans — across the globe. Charitable offerings For the people who own and operate Kooshoo, selling hair ties is not only about making money. The business has also donated a portion of its profits, along with some of its products, to  charitable  organizations. Related: 6 of the best places to donate your things For instance, the establishment initiated a fitness and wellness plan for people in marginalized communities. More than 1,000 individuals in these communities were given access to meditation courses and yoga classes. + Kooshoo Images via Kooshoo

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Meet the all-natural face cleanser that will change your mornings

February 19, 2019 by  
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Most people wouldn’t mind starting the day with a bowl of warm, sweet oatmeal. So imagine taking that level of comfort and adding it to your skincare routine. This is exactly the kind of experience you get with Speak’s cleansing powder, a simple powder that comes packaged in an adorable glass jar. The best part of “01 Cleansing Powder” is the main ingredient, organic oats. After testing the cleanser for a few weeks, this product has become one of our favorite ways to start our day. Speak’s cleansing powder harnesses the power of saponins and antioxidants found in organic oats. Together, these properties gently cleanse the delicate skin on your face and soothe redness and irritation. In addition to the oats, lavender adds a natural fragrance, kaolin clay cleans deeper to remove dirt and grime and sweet almond oil leaves your skin soft and moisturized long after you’ve finished washing. Related: These are our favorite beauty retailers from the Indie Beauty Expo In a nod to “waterless beauty,” or beauty products that eliminate water as a filler, this natural cleanser comes as a powder in a 0.5 or 2 ounce glass jar (complete with a metal cap — all reusable and recyclable!). A little goes a long way here. Each morning, we add just a dime-size amount of the powder in the palm of our hands. Carefully mix in just a few drops of water to make a thick paste, and then gently rub it on your face. We like to move in upward motions, which can help with lymphatic drainage. It’s incredible — the cleanser smells exactly like our favorite bowl of oatmeal. After rinsing the paste from your skin, you’ll instantly notice how soft and smooth your face feels. While it doesn’t seem to be the right consistency for removing eye makeup, it does move face makeup with ease. It works well for cleansing in the morning or at night. Speak’s line of natural, vegan , cruelty-free skincare (plus clean packaging) doesn’t stop there. We have also tested the natural deodorant, which is incredibly effective at keeping odors at bay, and the prickly pear seed oil, which boosts the moisture in your skin and smells light and pleasant. If all of this isn’t enough to love, Speak is transparent about ingredients, sources and manufacturing. “We believe that when you are smarter about what goes into your skincare, you’re on your way to feeling and being your best,” the website reads. “We will continue to be fully transparent with our ingredients and test our products in independent labs with your safety in mind.” Founders and cousins Mutiara Pino and Nisa Zulkifli founded Speak in December 2017 after battling with ever-changing, hormonal skin and eczema, respectively. Their mission is to provide clean skincare using natural ingredients from ethical sources in reusable, recyclable, upcycled and/or compostable packaging at affordable price points. We highly recommend checking out Speak’s skincare, starting with the oat-based cleanser. See more products here , and learn more about the company’s values here . + Speak Images via Inhabitat and Speak Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by Speak. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.

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