Cut plastic from your home and inspire your family to live plastic-free

April 11, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Reducing plastic usage is a challenging task in today’s everything-plastic society. We all understand the importance of reducing petroleum-based emissions and the post-use waste that never really goes away, but implementing practices in your home can seem overwhelming. It’s even worse when only one member of the family is working towards the goal. The good news is that kids are very open to making a bit of extra effort if they understand that it is good for the environment and the animals in it, including us. The key is to make lessons applicable to their daily life and make goals incremental and therefore, attainable. Here’s a list of ways you can get the entire family involved in reducing your plastic consumption without tears or arguments. Grocery shop together One of the best ways to reduce plastic in your home is to keep it from coming into the home in the first place. The grocery store can be a full-blown battle when it comes to buying products packaged in plastic. From the wrap on produce to the containers your favorite sour cream comes in, you will need all the ideas from your family members to get the job done. Related: Zero-waste kit ensures reusable essentials are always nearby Heading to the store together gives you a chance to challenge and educate each other. Instead of reaching for the apples in the plastic bag , get the ones piled in a paper bag, use a compostable bag, or bring your own produce bag to the store. If you have a few bathrooms, buy shampoo in bulk and divide it up instead of buying separate plastic shampoo bottles. Let the kids choose their own stainless steel or glass shampoo containers they want for bathtime. These are just a few example of the thousands of plastic products at the grocery store you can avoid with a concerted effort. Carefully select gifts It feels good to give gifts to friends and family members, but it doesn’t feel good to contribute to plastic waste , so this is another opportunity to skirt the plastic options. Let your kids help make layered gifts in a jar with ingredients for soup or cookies, with no waste. Choose wooden toys over plastic, buy books and give the gift of experiences. Also pay attention to the types of wrapping you use, staying away from plastic bags and products packaged with plastic. Use homework to your advantage When your child comes to you to brainstorm ideas for a school project, think plastic elimination. For example, if the topic is controversial political differences, have them write about the ban on plastic bags. This gives them the opportunity to better educate themselves, and others, on the topic. Have a good old-fashioned challenge Every family becomes motivated by a sibling-to-sibling or parent versus child challenges. Eliminating plastic from the home is no exception so come up with a great reward (plastic free of course) and set up the boundaries of the challenge. Give every person or team a recycling bin. You could mandate that everyone drop all plastic waste into the tote and the team at the end of the week or month with the least amount of plastic waste wins. Alternately, drop items in when you find a way to replace it with a plastic free option, such as making your own yogurt, which eliminates the need for yogurt containers from the store. The person or team with the most plastic wins! Ban single-use plastic Refusing to buy and use single-use plastic is a personal choice, but as a family you can choose to ban those products from your home. Eliminate single-use straws, plastic water bottles , multi-purpose cleaner spray bottles and a thousand other things. Replace them by making your own products (laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, fabric softener or even bubble bath), using reusable straws and water bottles and bringing your own containers to the bulk section for refills. Get creative When the conversation gets started, you might be surprised at what ideas your crew comes up with. Make it easy to record those ideas by making an idea jar. This can be as simple as a large mason jar with a ribbon around the top or a label on the front. Set aside a specific time to read the suggestions and vow to incorporate one idea each week, or whatever works for your family. Remember the goal is progress, not perfection. Plan a trip When you announce your next family day trip or longer vacation, brainstorm ways to make it plastic free. Obviously you’ll skip the store-bought water bottles in favor of refillable ones, but what about other items you’ll need? For example, source a metal bucket and shovel for a trip to the beach instead of taking plastic varieties. Tour a recycling plant While you’re unlikely to be 100 percent successful at eliminating plastic from your home, recycling is an option for many items that at least keeps it out of the landfill . Figuring out what can be recycled can be very confusing. Every facility is different in the types of plastic they accept. So, get together as a family and take a tour of a recycling plant or attend a local lecture to better understand the process. Having that kind of visual education will resonate as you make purchasing decisions. Plastic-free lunch challenge Lunch time can be a wasteful venture with disposable silverware, sandwich bags, and drink containers. Instead, skip the Gatorade and flavor water in your reusable bottle with powdered crystals instead. Ditch the sandwich bags in favor of glass or stainless steel containers. Bring real silverware or track down a bamboo set that travels with you. Volunteer in community clean up events Being involved in community events is always a great family activity and when the event targets beach or city clean-ups the rewards go well past the single day. Understanding the damage that plastic brings to sea life or the local park gives the entire family motivation to cut it out. Images via Shutterstock

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Cut plastic from your home and inspire your family to live plastic-free

LEED Platinum fire station is powered with solar energy in Seattle

April 11, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

The north end of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood has recently become home to a new, contemporary fire station that’s also a beacon for sustainability. Certified LEED Platinum, Fire Station 22 was designed by local architectural practice Weinstein A+U to harvest solar power, as well as rainwater , which is used for all of the station’s non-potable water uses. The building also has an enhanced civic presence with a super-scaled and illuminated “22” on its facade and large walls of glass that invite the neighborhood in. Due to its location on a long and narrow corner lot confined by two freeways and a heavily trafficked road, Fire Station 22 forgoes the conventional back-in configuration in favor of a drive-through layout for better visibility and safety. However, this configuration and the constraints of the space meant that the two-story support and crew spaces needed to be put at the front of the site, thus blocking views of the fire station’s apparatus bay, which has always traditionally been visible to the public. To reengage the community, the architects added a public plaza at the main entry, a super-scaled “22” sign on the concrete hose-drying tower and a glazed lobby and station office. “The station needs to mediate this complex site while maintaining rigorous programmatic requirements and balancing users’ desire for privacy,” said the architects , who completed the project as the last full-building replacement project under the 2003 Fire Facilities and Emergency Response Levy. “It does so with a sculptural facade along E. Roanoke Street, which provides privacy for the building’s users while creating pedestrian interest and texture. The station opens up to the future 520 Lid at the northeast corner, with a fully glazed lobby, the iconic Apparatus Bay egress doors, and a hose tower that acts as a landmark on the singular site.” Related: LEED Platinum fire station boosts firefighter wellness in Seattle Built to meet current program standards, Fire Station 22 features highly efficient mechanical and plumbing systems in addition to a solar PV system and rainwater harvesting systems. The project has earned three 2018 AIA Merit Awards. + Weinstein A+U Images by Lara Swimmer

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LEED Platinum fire station is powered with solar energy in Seattle

New study finds harmful chemicals, including glyphosate, in disposable diapers

January 30, 2019 by  
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In the first study of its kind, French researchers have discovered that disposable diapers contain trace amounts of chemicals that are harmful to humans. After testing 23 different diapers sold in France between 2016 and 2018, the researchers found about 60 dangerous chemicals, including glyphosate , which is used in the controversial weed killer Roundup. Now, Ministers have given manufacturers two weeks to put together a “plan of action” to remove the harmful substances. In the report published last week and first reported by The Guardian , no specific brands were mentioned; however, researchers did find the toxins in diapers marketed as “ecological.” They also said that they tested well-known labels. Anses, the French agency for food, environmental and occupational health and safety, said that some of the chemicals, like perfumes , were added intentionally. Some of them could also “migrate through urine, for example, and enter into prolonged contact with babies’ skin.” Related: This groundbreaking new machine can recycle 220 pounds of diapers in a single hour In the 206-page Safety in Baby Nappies report , researchers said that some of the substances they found had been banned in the EU for more than 15 years, and others were usually found in cigarette smoke or diesel fumes. Agnes Buzyn, the French health secretary, said that “there is no immediate risk for the health of the child,” and parents should keep using disposable diapers, just as they have for decades. She did admit that there could be some long-term risks, and they do want to protect children. Pampers and Joone, two major diaper manufacturers, have already reacted to the report. Pampers said its diapers have always been safe, and it has already put the report’s recommendations in place. Joone’s president Carole Juge-Llewellyn said that the report was “alarmist,” and the company is transparent about the toxicology analysis of its products. The report said that it can’t prove the health effects linked to wearing disposable diapers, but it still recommends eliminating or minimizing the dangerous chemicals. Of course, if parents want to avoid chemicals completely as well as minimize waste when it comes to diapers, they can always opt for cloth diapers , which are now easier to use than ever before. + Safety in Baby Nappies Via The Guardian Image via Shutterstock

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New study finds harmful chemicals, including glyphosate, in disposable diapers

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo: Make Your Own Upcycled Piñata

May 3, 2018 by  
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Cinco de Mayo is almost here, and I’m going to … The post Celebrate Cinco de Mayo: Make Your Own Upcycled Piñata appeared first on Earth911.com.

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How one couple adapted a 204-square-foot tiny house for their new baby

February 7, 2018 by  
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What’s it like to live in a 204-square-foot space with a baby? Samantha and Robert Garlow of SHEDsistence know, and they’re sharing their story. After designing and constructing their SHED tiny house in Yakima, Washington , the couple moved into it with their cat in early 2016. Then they welcomed their first baby, Aubrin, last year. Sounds pretty tight, right? We checked in with Robert to get the low-down on their experience living with a tiny baby in a tiny home. Over 14 months, the Garlows designed and built their tiny house , working mostly during weekends. They moved in on January 31, 2016. Robert told Inhabitat, “We were tired of throwing money away in the form of rent and we had no interest in taking on a 30-year mortgage in addition to our six-figure student loan debt. A tiny house was mentioned as a joke until we began to realize it would help us achieve many of our goals and we liked the challenging idea of designing, building, and living in a tiny space. At the end of the day we knew it would be a memorable experience that we would learn a lot from and those are the best projects to take on.” Related: Meet the Tiny House Family Who Built an Amazing Mini Home for Just $12,000 Their 24-foot long, eight-foot-six-inch-wide, 13-foot-five-inch-tall tiny home includes a bathroom, living area, and kitchen, with a loft above. The stairs to reach the loft include storage , and they also dedicated 24 square feet for a storage room for their outdoor gear. They spent around $30,000 on materials. “Our mindset as to what is possible has changed,” Robert told Inhabitat. “What we expected to be a challenge has been effortless and rather than ‘surviving’ this experiment we are thriving. The biggest takeaway has been that good design makes all the difference. Careful, custom design based on the inhabitants’ ergonomics, needs, and aesthetics is paramount to making a space the size of many peoples’ master bathrooms a fully functioning home for a family. Everything has a place and a purpose (or two). We have everything we need and nothing that we don’t, which has led to an incredible liberating experience we hadn’t know beforehand.” But what happens when you have a baby in said tiny home? The Garlows made a few changes to welcome baby Aubrin, such as a loft net and door – with space for their cat to travel in and out. For sleeping, they started with a bedside bassinet and have since created a loft crib . Aubrin is now over eight months old. On their blog , the Garlows pointed out they’ve only ever raised a baby in a tiny house – “and without anything to compare it to, we have nothing but positive things to report. There is great peace of mind in knowing that we are raising our daughter in the cleanest, most healthy house we have ever lived in and the ability to always keep an eye on her is an added bonus.” The Garlows have used the tiny house to “ design the life we wanted ” – living in their tiny space enabled them to take extended parental leave, and Robert has been able to work from home and raise their baby. What about when Aubrin gets a little bigger? In a blog post , the couple said they’d utilize the tiny house for as long as it works for them, and then perhaps repurpose it as necessary. If they decide to move out of SHED tiny house, they said they could use it as studio or guesthouse, to name a few options. When asked what advice he’d give to people considering switching to a tiny home, Garlow told Inhabitat, “Commit to it. Tiny houses are an amazing life hack; a tool that can unlock incredible opportunities that would otherwise not be possible for many people, family or not.” He also recommended people custom design their homes to work for them – and construct them if possible, saying, “Not only do you save a lot of money but you gain an incredible experience and wealth of new knowledge throughout the process.” You can learn more about the Garlows’ journey here . They recently released the second edition of their book, Built With Our Hands , with a long appendix about their two years of calling the tiny house home, and the small things they’d change. You can order it here to read more and see their floor plans. + SHEDsistence + SHEDsistence Book: Built With Our Hands + SHEDsistence Facebook + SHEDsistence Instagram Images courtesy of Samantha and Robert Garlow/SHED tiny house ( 1 , 2 )

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10 Ways to Upcycle Baby Food Storage Containers

November 13, 2017 by  
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After you’ve had a baby and she’s old enough to … The post 10 Ways to Upcycle Baby Food Storage Containers appeared first on Earth911.com.

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4 Clever Ways to Encourage Your Children to Recycle

August 15, 2017 by  
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As we all know, recycling is crucial when it comes to caring for our planet — and instilling this responsibility in children when they are young is a surefire way to encourage them to do it for years to come. But how can we do this without it being…

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Easy DIY Toy Cleaners You Can Make Today

July 6, 2017 by  
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Editor’s note: This post contains affiliate links, which helps fund our Recycling Directory, the most comprehensive in North America. Cleaning toys is something we periodically do at our house, especially if someone has been sick. Lately, I…

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Easy DIY Toy Cleaners You Can Make Today

This may be the world’s coolest kindergarten

June 9, 2017 by  
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Who knew that the world’s coolest kindergarten is located in Sydney, Australia? Designed by PAL Design , NUBO is a beautiful space strategically designed to give children the ultimate in “pure play” while managing to keep the space pleasantly clutter-free. The 820-square-foot  kindergarten is open and bright, thanks to a wall of large glass windows and plenty of storage space . The interior design focused on creating a fun and flexible space that is stimulating, but clutter-free to provide ample space to encourage creative and energetic play. According to the architects, the area is especially “suited for children in their various stages of learning to safely and explore the entire space, the overall design takes a minimalist approach to remove unnecessary furniture and equipment – with just enough to invent their own games.” Related: This timber kindergarten is embedded into the hills of a small Northern Italian village The interior layout is designed to be ultra kid-friendly with designated activity areas including an extensive children’s library with reading nooks, a building block room, and numerous toys for all ages. The space even has a kitchen area that lets budding chefs concoct a range of healthy dishes. And for those times when you just have to move, there’s an active area that encourages kids to run, slide, climb and hide. + PAL Design Via Arch Daily Photograph by Michelle Young, Amy Piddington

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This may be the world’s coolest kindergarten

Australia’s amazing Upcycle House is made from the ruins of an old home

June 9, 2017 by  
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Australian architecture firm Alexander Symes has given an old building a new lease on life by repurposing its materials into a beautiful new home. Although the old structure was completely demolished, the architect – inspired by a “closed-loop zero-waste” ethos – decided to rescue the materials and implement them in the a house. Located in Blackheath, Australia, the 1,100-square-foot Upcycle House is a three-bedroom, two-bath family home with a large living area. The design team worked on the philosophy of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and if it is broke, fix it” to sustainably build out the home’s exterior and interior with upcycled materials . Related: Lendager Arkitekter Unveils Incredible House Made Entirely From Recycled Materials The home is reinforced with insulated brick, and a solar pergola installed over the entrance pulls double duty as a sun shade and energy generator. Repurposed railway sleepers were used to create a walkway to the home’s sculptural entrance, where unique tile work gives the impression of an open, broken gap in the wall. The home’s interior is heavily influenced by Scandinavian design with clean simple spaces with a touch of whimsy throughout. The layout was strategically optimized to take advantage of the building’s East-West orientation, which gives the home optimal daylight, and reduces energy consumption . The living space floors feature colorful recycled tile mosaics that contrast nicely with the all-white walls. Ample bookshelves and hidden storage areas help residents avoid clutter. + Alexander Symes Architect Photography by Barton Taylor

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Australia’s amazing Upcycle House is made from the ruins of an old home

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