How to throw a fun, zero waste Halloween party

October 22, 2018 by  
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October is flying by, and Halloween will be here before you know it. To celebrate the holiday, many of us like to throw a party at home, work or school full of pumpkins, candy, costumes, food and decorations. Americans spend billions of dollars on Halloween every year, and many of the things that we buy (plus the packaging) end up in the trash on November 1. But if you love celebrating Halloween with a fun party, it doesn’t mean you have to generate piles of garbage. There are plenty of ways to have a festive holiday without leaving behind a trail of trash. While you put together ideas for your ghoulish celebration, keep the environment in mind — throw an eco-friendly party with zero waste. Invite your guests to bring food and containers Instead of purchasing dozens of baked goods and treats from the store, ask each of your guests to bring a home-baked item like cookies, cupcakes, pies or brownies. They can bring them in containers that can easily be washed instead of thrown away, and this will keep the trash at your party to a minimum while also saving you money. Another bonus of guests bringing baked goods is that it reduces the number of leftovers you will have at your house, since everyone will take home the dish they brought. Speaking of leftovers… also ask guests to bring their own containers if they’d like to take home any food that is left at the end of the night. This way, everyone can enjoy the party even after it ends, and you can keep food waste to a minimum! Use natural decorations Decorating for Halloween is one of the most fun parts of the holiday, but you don’t need to head to your local Halloween mega-store to buy a bunch of plastic decorations that you might never use again. This can get expensive, and the waste from the packaging and the poorly made plastic products with toxic paints and chemicals just aren’t good for the environment. Related: 10 sustainable Halloween decorations for your green home Instead, use pumpkins and other gourds to decorate. You can keep them plain, paint them or decorate them with ribbons and bows. Also, get creative with fall outdoor items like pine cones, branches and leaves. Going natural with your decor and centerpieces keeps with the spirit of the fall season without requiring a ton of money or leaving behind waste. Make recycling bins easily accessible For items at the party that can be recycled, place recycling bins in the room and near the front door, so that people will remember to use them before they leave. Adding recycling bins to the party instead of using just trash cans will help minimize your party waste. This is especially important if you choose to use disposable, recyclable items. If you want to skip doing a lot of dishes and decide to use paper plates or recyclable plastic cups and utensils, having recycling bins in a convenient spot will prevent them from going into the garbage and reduce your carbon footprint . Provide finger foods Try serving finger foods so you don’t need as many plates and utensils, if you need them at all. Deviled eggs, chicken (or soy ‘chicken’) wings, chips with dip, bread, cupcakes, brownies and sandwiches are all great party foods that you can easily eat with your hands. Light your space with natural candles Lighting for an indoor Halloween party can be far from environmentally friendly. Instead of using a ton of electricity, try creating some ambiance with natural candles. Not only do candles nicely illuminate any space, but they can also create a spooky, mysterious vibe. If you want to get really creative, use  pumpkins as candle holders . Compost perishables Instead of throwing away food and perishables, compost them! You can even compost your pumpkin decorations. You don’t want to throw them out and take up all of that space in the garbage (and later, a landfill). Instead, compost everything you can to help next year’s garden. Related: Composting for beginners Offer eco-friendly party favors If you enjoy giving out goody bags to your guests, think about what you are putting inside as well as the type of bag you are using. Instead of buying items at the store, you can make things like cupcakes or cookies that your guests can take home. Use small, reusable gift bags or paper bags that can be recycled. Even tiny glass jars filled with candy make a cute, zero waste gift that doesn’t cost a fortune. It’s never too late to make your Halloween party a big green bash. These simple tips will help you reduce your carbon footprint, and some items could initiate good, thought-provoking conversation topics during your zero waste celebration. Via Recycle Nation and Joy of Zero Waste Images via  Raw Pixel , Helena Yankovska , Imordaf , Damien Creatz ,  Element5 Digital ,  Ben Kerck , Clem Onojeghuo and Shutterstock

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How to throw a fun, zero waste Halloween party

5 (mostly) free and easy ways to green your Fourth of July

July 4, 2018 by  
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Independence Day  is here — are you ready? If you want to celebrate your Fourth the green way by freeing yourself from the shackles of  unnecessary waste  and  energy  usage but are low on funds and ideas, check out our five creative tips on how to green your holiday — they’re as easy on your wallet as they are hassle-free! Substitute veggie dogs and burgers for hot dogs and hamburgers Raising livestock uses an incredible amount of energy and releases tons of methane into the air. This year, try serving soy dogs and burgers instead of meat — they’re better for the environment and for your health. And a lot of times, people can’t even tell the difference! Cost: $3-4 a box on average Ask guests to carpool or walk With people trying to save money, this one shouldn’t be too difficult at all. Plus, if you remind imbibers that the less cars there are, the less (responsible) drivers are needed, they’ll have yet another reason to carpool or walk. Cost: nothing Have a “Bring Your Own Cup” party Plastic cups are one of the most wasteful parts of having a summer bash. Asking guests to bring their own cups means that no one will forget which cup is theirs, and you won’t need to clean up after them because they just take their dirty drinkware home with them! Cost: nothing Ask caterers to make it “Eco to go” If you’re planning on ordering out for your party, use this simple phrase to tell restaurants that you would like minimal packaging, condiments and utensils. They might not know what you mean at first, but the more people use it, the more vendors will know what it means and that they should get with the program. Buy your charcoal from sustainably managed forests Not all charcoal is created equal. Check for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo on the bag you buy to make sure it isn’t from an unsustainable source. And if you can use charcoal from the U.S. instead of from abroad, that’s even better! Cost: Surprisingly, FSC-certified and U.S.-sourced charcoal isn’t too much more expensive than the alternative. Have a great, green Fourth of July everyone! Images via Port of San Diego , Depositphotos , David Goehring , Didriks , Michael Mandiberg , and Julian Colton

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5 (mostly) free and easy ways to green your Fourth of July

UK fracking measures could make exploratory drilling "as easy as building a garden wall"

May 17, 2018 by  
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The United Kingdom ‘s government has come under fire from fracking opponents after releasing measures that could fast-track shale gas projects. Under these measures, explorers could drill test sites without first applying for planning permission, The Guardian reported . Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas said, “Britain’s fracking experiment was on life support and now the government is trying its best to shock it back into life.” Shale gas, a natural gas extracted via hydraulic fracturing or fracking, is a controversial energy source. On one hand, it produces less carbon emissions than oil or coal ; on the other, it’s still a fossil fuel polluting the planet more than renewable  resources like solar or wind. According to Greg Clark, the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, gas has an important role in helping the country meet carbon budgets laid out in its Climate Change Act, as well as international obligations. In a written statement , he said, “Gas still makes up around a third of our current energy usage and every scenario proposed by the Committee on Climate Change setting out how the UK could meet its legally-binding 2050 emissions reduction target includes demand for natural gas” — but “recent decisions on shale exploration planning applications remain disappointingly slow.” Related: New study finds that fracking chemicals could harm the immune system In addition to allowing shale explorers to drill test sites, the measures would allow for the categorization of fracking sites as nationally significant infrastructure , which means approval would come from a national level instead of a local one. Clark also announced a £1.6 million shale support fund that would let planning authorities accelerate fracking applications in the upcoming two years. Fracking opponents were furious. Greenpeace said, “Exploratory drilling will be as easy as building a garden wall or conservatory.” According to MP Rebecca Long-Bailey, “Fracking should be banned, not promoted.” Via The Guardian Images via Wikimedia Commons (1)

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UK fracking measures could make exploratory drilling "as easy as building a garden wall"

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski wants her party to talk about climate change

February 20, 2018 by  
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Senator Lisa Murkowski (R- Alaska ), the senior senator from her state and the chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, wants her party to start talking about climate change. During an address to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Winter Policy Summit, Murkowski even went so far as to urge Republicans to actually use the words “ climate change .” “We have to not be afraid to use terms that some might say, that’s politically charged,” Murkowski said, according to Business Insider . “Why is it politically charged to say climate change? I see in my state the impact we have from warming temperatures.”   In a political party which consistently denies or minimizes the impact of climate change, even saying those words is a step in the right direction. Still, actions speak louder than words. While Senator Murkowski garnered praise for her resistance to repealing the Affordable Care Act, she nonetheless has cast votes against the interests of public and environmental health in this current Congress. For example, Murkowski voted to confirm climate change denier Scott Pruitt as EPA administrator. Under Pruitt’s tenure, Obama-era environmental protection rules limiting air and water pollution as well as those designed to combat climate change have been eliminated. Murkowski also voted to open the fragile Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling , a long-time goal for the senator and her party. Related: Scientists protest senator’s plan to open vital Arctic wildlife refuge to oil exploration Murkowski has framed her support for fossil fuels as a necessary economic evil. “It’s not enough to demand the end of use of hard carbons to keep it in the ground,” said Murkowski. “I recognize this is unrealistic and counterproductive. It would hurt all of us, particularly the poor… We can absolutely continue to use hydrocarbons and critical minerals and protect the environment at the same time.” This seems to ignore that the renewable energy industry employs more workers than the fossil fuel industry while the consumer cost of renewable energy continues to decline . Murkowski’s position also fails to recognize the urgency of stopping the usage of fossil fuels if we are to avoid the worst of catastrophic climate change. Nonetheless, Murkowski’s words may offer some hope for a future Republican Party that understands climate change and seeks to counteract it. “This conversation is difficult,” noted Murkowski. “We all know it’s difficult. We have to stop making it harder.” Via Business Insider Images via Arctic Circle (1) and Arctic Wolves

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Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski wants her party to talk about climate change

Scientists call for a worldwide ban on the ‘global hazard’ of glitter

December 4, 2017 by  
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You know microbeads are terrible for the planet, but have you ever considered the environmental impact of glitter? The ubiquitous party supply is made up of tiny plastic particles , and are every bit as bad as microbeads, which have been banned in many places across the world. Now, scientists say that it’s time to ban the glittery stuff as well. Microplastics make their way from waterways and landfills into the ocean, where sea life consumes it. Fish have been found to actively seeking out plastics , mistaking it for food, and a third of fish in the UK contain plastics. This is not only deadly for wildlife, but it could be dangerous for humans who consume fish as well. Related: Microplastics are killing fish faster than they can reproduce Glitter has become more and more common, appearing in cosmetics , clothing, and bath products, (not to mention the trend of putting on beards and hair) in addition to the party supply aisle. Scientists say that it should be treated like microbeads since it is essentially no different when it comes to the environment, and are calling for a ban. Via Fox Images via Deposit photos and Unsplash

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Scientists call for a worldwide ban on the ‘global hazard’ of glitter

Antony Gibbon’s Helix House is a twisting tiny home that towers amidst the forest

December 4, 2017 by  
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Designer Antony Gibbon is known for his nature-inspired designs , each of which is more jaw-dropping than the last. His latest masterpiece is the Helix House – a beautiful twisting tower clad in wooden slatted beams that seamlessly blends into the forest. At just 100 square feet, the home is tiny, but the majestic design is straight out of a fairy tale. Like all of Gibbons’ designs, the Helix House was inspired by nature. The rising twisted form allows the structure blend in quietly with the surrounding forestscape. Clad in wooden beams, the home’s design is not only gorgeous, but the unique shape was also strategic to hiding all the structural support and access into the low-impact home. Related:Antony Gibbon’s Lucent House is a serene minimalist retreat made of glass and stone A tiny home in tower form, the one-bedroom home is less than 100 square feet. On the inside, the first floor has a kitchenette and a small bathroom. The second floor houses the bedroom, which has a beautiful glazed wall that provides natural light and stellar views of the surrounding environment. + Antony Gibbon Designs Images via Antony Gibbon Designs

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Antony Gibbon’s Helix House is a twisting tiny home that towers amidst the forest

European parliament bans Monsanto from entering

September 29, 2017 by  
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Monsanto recently refused to be present at a hearing in which the European parliament planned to dig into allegations the agrochemical company unduly influenced studies into glyphosate’s safety, according to The Guardian. The European parliament wasn’t too happy with that – and just banned Monsanto from entering parliament. The agriculture and environment committees of the European parliament had set up a hearing for October 11, at which academics, campaigners, and regulators were to be present – but Monsanto decided not to come. The hearing is expected to go over allegations the company influenced regulatory studies into the safety of a key ingredient in their best-selling product RoundUp . Angry, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) subsequently banned Monsanto lobbyists . The Guardian reports this is the first instance of MEPs utilizing new rules to withdraw access for businesses that disregard summons to hearings or inquiries. Related: California adds Monsanto’s glyphosate to list of chemicals known to cause cancer The leaders of major parliamentary blocks supported the ban in a vote, according to a spokesperson for European parliament president Antonio Tajani, who also said, “One has to assume it is effective immediately,” even as officials need to work through a formal process. Under the ban, Monsanto officials will not be able to go to committee meetings, meet MEPs, or use digital resources in Strasbourg or Brussles on parliament premises, according to The Guardian. Green Party president Philippe Lamberts said, “Those who ignore the rules of democracy also lose their rights as a lobbyist in the European parliament. U.S. corporations must also accept the democratic control function of the parliament. Monsanto cannot escape this.” The vote comes before a decision on whether or not to re-license glyphosate later this year. Philip Miller, Monsanto vice president, said in a letter to MEPs, “We have observed with increasing alarm the politicization of the EU procedure on the renewal of glyphosate, a procedure which should be scientific but which in many respects has been hijacked by populism.” One expert World Health Organization panel has linked glyphosate to cancer , while another said it was safe for public use. According to The Guardian, Monsanto spends around €300,000 to €400,000 – or around $354,690 to $472,920 – on lobbying in Brussels. Via The Guardian Images via Die Grünen Kärnten on Flickr and BUND Bundesverband on Flickr

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Oregon just approved the nations first tax on bicycles – and cyclists are furious

July 19, 2017 by  
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Riding a bike is good for your health and the environment – so you’d think governments would go out of their way to encourage cyclists, right? Wrong. Oregon — a state known for its avid bicycling culture – just approved the nation’s first statewide bicycle tax . The new excise tax will require consumers to pay $15 for bikes that cost over $200 with a wheel diameter of at least 26 inches. The Washington Times reports that the $5.3 billion transportation package is expected to be signed into law by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown. Both anti-tax Republicans and environmentally conscious consumers are frustrated by the development. It is “an unprecedented step in the wrong direction,” said BikePortland publisher Jonathan Maus. “We are taxing the healthiest, most inexpensive, most environmentally friendly, most efficient and most economically sustainable form of transportation ever devised by the human species.” Related: Sweden wants to fight waste with new tax breaks for repairs According to Oregon Republican Party Chairman Bill Currier, the tax is an effect of Governor Brown’s “endless obsession with finding new and innovative ways to take money out of the pockets of Oregon taxpayers.” There are numerous reasons bikes are better for the environment than automobiles. For instance, bicycles require fewer natural resources to create , emit zero emissions, cut down on health care costs (30 minutes of cycling a day is estimated to save $544/year ) and help combat noise pollution — in addition to other benefits. This acknowledged, why should consumers who strive to get healthier and benefit the environment pay more money to do so? Via Washington Times Images via Depositphotos and Pixabay

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Oregon just approved the nations first tax on bicycles – and cyclists are furious

Amazing Hive comes alive with sights and sounds in Washington, D.C.

July 13, 2017 by  
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Incredible sights and sounds have popped up at the National Building Museum in the heart of our nation’s capital. Thousands of giant paper tubes have been stacked together to construct soaring mountain-like structures in the Hive, an interactive sculpture created by Studio Gang Architects for the museum’s annual Summer Block Party. Read on to see the interior of the stunning installation and to hear the Hive come alive. Every year, the National Building Museum invites a different architecture firm to craft a large-scale, immersive installation for its Great Hall. Past projects included BIG’s concave Maze , Snarkitecture’s massive BEACH ball pit , and James Corner Field Operations’ cool ICEBERGS . Studio Gang Architects created the museum’s tallest installation yet that comprises 2,551 Sonotubes, wound paper tubes typically used to pour concrete. If laid end-to-end, the recyclable tubes would measure over a mile in length and have a combined weight of 72,961 pounds. A giant Hive has popped up in D.C.! Explore the National Building Museum's summer installation by Studio Gang Architects. It's made with #recyclable materials, interactive, and absolutely massive. #hivedc @nationalbuildingmuseum @studiogang #architecture #dc #washingtondc #ecofriendly ?: @landscapevoice A post shared by Inhabitat (@inhabitatdesign) on Jul 11, 2017 at 9:10am PDT To complement the National Building Museum’s neoclassical Great Hall, Studio Gang Architects used a silver shade for the tube exterior. The tube interior and the Hive floor were painted magenta, a color inspired by the pink used in the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. last January. Ninety different tube sizes were used to construct the three interconnected chambers and allow filtered light into the spaces to create beautiful patterns of light and shadow that change throughout the day. Related: ICEBERGS immerse visitors in a beautiful underwater world in Washington, D.C. “We’ve also incorporated a lot of sound elements in here,” Emma Filar, NBM’s Interim Director of Marketing & Communications told Inhabitat. “Jeanne Gang, the founding principal of Studio Gang, is really interested in the way that people move through spaces and how they interact with space here, so that’s why we have instruments inside. Sound travels in a really interesting way through these paper tubes; they both absorb sound and reflect it in different ways.” Visitors at the Hive are free to play with the installation’s many instruments, which range from hanging wind chimes constructed from a variety of materials including wrenches, CDs, and metal pipes. Some paper tubes are used as drums, while others are combined with other common building materials like pipes to create more complicated instruments. Round openings at the top of each chamber allow natural light into the chambers and frame views of the Great Hall’s ceilings and columns. The Hive also has a hands-on building area, where people can play with paper diskettes to build their own structures. The National Building Museum will host a full slate of programs that complement the installation, from concerts to late-night events with food. The Hive is open to the public July 6 through September 4, 2017. + Studio Gang Watermarked photos © Lucy Wang , non-watermarked photos © Tim Schenck

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Amazing Hive comes alive with sights and sounds in Washington, D.C.

Switzerland votes to ban nuclear power and invest in renewable energy

May 22, 2017 by  
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Switzerland just passed a new energy law that promotes renewable energy and bans nuclear power plants. The landmark vote brings the nation closer to meeting its goal of generating 4,400 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of renewable energy by 2020, and 11,400 GWh by 2035. Over the weekend, approximately 42% of the population turned up to vote in the national referendum, which marks the eighth time in recent history Swiss citizens have voted on the issue. Though the Energy Strategy 2050 was approved by Parliament last year, the country’s right wing Swiss People’s Party challenged the reform to the referendum in an attempt prevent the move from taking place. The move to initiate the reform passed easily with a 58.2% vote, however, shutting down any talk of investment in nuclear energy . At a press conference, Swiss Energy Minister Doris Leuthard said “After six years of debate in parliament and at committee level, a new chapter in Switzerland’s energy policy can begin. But there is still a lot of work to do.” Related: Tunnel collapses at America’s most contaminated nuclear waste facility Energy Strategy 2050 mandates that general licenses provided for nuclear power plants (which presently provide 38% of the country’s energy) will no longer be sold, beginning in 2019. Additionally, when existing nuclear power plants reach the end of their lifespan, they will be closed and not replaced. The reform also aims to reduce per capita energy consumption by 16 percent within the next three years, and by 43 percent by 2035. Energy Strategy 2050 intends for electricity consumption to decline by 3 percent in 2020 and 13 percent in 2035. This will be managed by increasing the output of solar , wind, biomass, and geothermal energy. Supporters of the law say that investing in renewables will make Switzerland less dependent on energy imports. At the same time, the country will maintain its highly supply standard. Activists are also celebrating the fact that by phasing out investments in nuclear energy, the environment and future generations will undoubtedly benefit. Via Swiss Info Images via Pixabay

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