9 fall wedding ideas for a festive, sustainable celebration

September 28, 2021 by  
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Autumn brings with it a landscape transition as leaves fall to the ground, creating a palette of yellows, oranges and reds across the forest canopies and floor. As the season honors change in a visual way, it provides a fitting time for new beginnings through wedding celebrations.  The wedding ceremony and reception can be a celebration of both the marriage and the environment with some thoughtful attention to minimizing waste and reducing reliance on virgin materials. Here are a few ways you make a splash without the impact .  Related: Where to find eco-friendly engagement and wedding rings Rings Rings are a symbol of commitment to your relationship. It can also reflect your commitment to nature and humanity. When choosing rings, look to jewelers who are transparent about their material selection and manufacturing process. Ensure your ring doesn’t contribute to the ongoing strife in mining regions that include poor working conditions and damage to the land. Replace paper with digital options Although many “Save the Date” cards, invitations and thank you notes are made from eco-friendly paper , most modern guests are okay with skipping the manufactured products altogether. Sending information digitally saves the paper processing, stamps and emissions from postal delivery. If you’re still a fan of the authentic keepsake invitation, look for those made without harsh dyes and other chemicals . Send your message of planetary love with stationary made from seed paper that your guests can plant afterwards. Wedding dress The bride wants to look amazing for her soon-to-be husband and her guests, and the dress is a big part of the equation. The truth is, though, nearly every wedding dress is worn only briefly and discarded down the road. Consider buying a secondhand dress or borrowing one from a friend or family member.  Gifts Instead of lining up the gift table with boxes and bags, request that guests send their well wishes via gift certificates or through an experience. Websites such as Honeyfund streamline the process by allowing guests to donate to your travel fund or pay for activities such as massages, scuba lessons or eco-tours at your honeymoon destination.  Of course, thoughtful handmade gifts are always welcome. Plus, these special gifts will likely be made from natural materials such as wood and fibers. It’s okay to mention you’re trying to be environmentally-friendly and ask that guests use paper packaging if possible when giving in-person gifts. Decorations When decorating your venue, rely on natural fall flowers such as mums, boughs of greenery, wreaths made from fall leaves and accents of hard berries and pine cones. Centerpieces can be made up of pumpkins or gourds carved out as candle holders and a colorful autumn swag to pull it all together. An even more simple centerpiece option is small potted plants . Going natural makes it easy to be low-impact and compost decorations after the event. Look into renting chairs, tables, an arbor, tents and other equipment you only need for the day. If you’d rather, you can DIY a small wood pergola and rely on all-wood seating such as benches and picnic tables or vintage furniture set up for the event.  Food Before the event, ask for a guest headcount, so you can make an educated guess about the amount of food you’ll need. There may be a few leftovers, but minimizing food waste saves money and keeps you from buying more than you need.  Plan to have a mostly vegetarian or vegan menu. Minimizing meat consumption comes with a host of benefits for the planet and plant-based foods are easily composted too. Just make sure to set up clearly-labeled bins for compostable goods.  Whether you choose to rely on a caterer, family member or potluck, make your reception as close to zero waste as possible. Skip paper, plastic , and Styrofoam in favor of real plates and silverware. Make sure to discuss your preference with food vendors well ahead of time. If they don’t provide that option, you can rent them to have available.  Drinks Skip the Solo cups, serve up the champagne in glassware. Beer, soda, and wine come in cans and bottles that can be recycled, so there’s no need for plastic. Be sure to provide plenty of water stations with glassware too so you can avoid single-use plastic bottles. Of course, you could always go with the classic punchbowl as an option too.  Lighting Even if your wedding starts earlier in the afternoon, it’s likely those short fall days will cast a shadow of darkness before the party is over. Decorate with LED lighting, rely on solar-powered strands and walkway lights and use candles for illumination too. Thank you gifts In addition to the gifts you receive as bride and groom, be thoughtful about the gifts you give to the members of your wedding party and others who helped pull together the details of your big day. Go with potted plants, even those you used as centerpieces, for a long-term remembrance of the event. Other ideas include glassware they can use at the reception and take home afterwards, or a certificate for a dinner out, a massage, pedicure or round of golf.  Images via Pexels

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The world’s first self-sustained floating lounge, Aqua Pods

September 28, 2021 by  
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Aqua Pods, designed by Emirati-owned Aquatic Architects Design Studio (AADS) and produced by Innovative Marine Ventures (IMV), are the world’s first self-sustained multi-purpose floating lounge. The Aqua Pod AP EX1 model comes with a marine e-commerce application to provide consumers with personalized experiences and services. The pods can be used for leisure, entertainment, aquatic sports, tourism and retail off the coast and along the Dubai Water Canal shoreline. The AP EX1 model was designed to align with UAE’s Vision 2021, a multi-faceted initiative to improve the country. It aims to shift from oil as the nation’s primary income, to other means that are more efficient and eco-friendly. Related: Kiribati Floating Houses address rising waters and land limitations One of the six core components of the program is healthy environment and sustainable infrastructure . Aqua Pods aim to contribute to this venture, while taking a consumer-centric approach and exploring the concept of aquatic architecture. The sleek, floating modules are fully solar-powered to utilize the abundant desert sun, thus reducing greenhouse emissions. Additionally, to obtain fresh water, the pods contain a reverse osmosis water purification system to desalinate up to 100 liters of water daily without disposing the brine back into the sea. This is an optimal alternative to typical desalination systems in the Middle East that dump brine consisting of high concentrations of salt and chemical residues back in the ocean that threatens marine life, particularly when the dense solution sinks to the ocean floor Thanks to the multifunctional nature of the Aqua Pod, it is benefits the economy . It can be used for a multitude of activities and serve various industries to bridge on- and off-shore services. The design team has been insistent on creating an integrated commercial marine ecosystem to pioneer the future of floating retail, tourism, leisure and logistics. The floating developments can offer personalized experiences for events, water sports and tourism within the traditional and modern waterways of Dubai . The self-sustained AP EX1s can also be adapted to provide medical ambulatory services or deliveries along the canal, serve as recharge stations for marine vehicles and house cultivation systems such as hydroponics . In fact, the 45 sqm Aqua Pod EX1 model can even be expanded by 25 percent to suit the needs of the customers. AADS and IMV explore floating structures as a means of adapting to rising sea levels and climate change. The AADS team hopes that their projects will spark conversations on the necessity of urban floating developments in coastal regions and to prepare for the inevitable increase in water levels and diminishing coastline . Not only will this approach create resilient cities, but will support progressive, flexible economies around the world. + AADS Images via AADS

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California couple charged for starting wildfire during gender reveal

July 23, 2021 by  
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Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez, a Southern California couple responsible for starting a forest fire last year, have recently been charged with involuntary manslaughter. The couple started the fire after a gender reveal went wrong, sparking a fire that killed a firefighter. The couple now faces both felony and misdemeanor charges. According to an announcement made by San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson, the couple pleaded not guilty to charges involving the El Dorado Fire. The El Dorado Fire started on September 5 last year when the couple and their children and friends ignited a “ smoke -generating pyrotechnic device” to reveal the gender of their new baby. The party, held at El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa, turned tragic when the device ignited nearby grass. Although the party tried to put out the fire using water, they could not handle the quickly spreading flames. Related: Oregon’s Bootleg Fire is creating its own weather When firefighters were called to help, the fire had already spread and was difficult to contain. Charles Morton, a 39-year-old leader of the elite Big Bear Interagency Hotshot Squad, ended up losing his life in the fire. Morton had worked as a firefighter for more than 18 years. The fire also injured 13 other people and led to the destruction of vast tracks of forest land, claiming about 36 square miles in San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Hundreds of families were evacuated from the region, and about five homes and 15 other buildings were destroyed. The state of California experienced thousands of fires last year, with El Dorado being just one of the many. Approximately 4% of the state was affected by wildfires fueled by dry conditions and strong winds. Nearly 10,500 buildings were destroyed across the state, with about 33 people losing their lives to wildfires. Via Huffpost Lead image via Pexels

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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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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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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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Architect designs solar-powered research center to save dying Lake Chad

May 22, 2017 by  
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Lake Chad in Africa spanned over 770,000 square miles in 50,000 B.C., according to Cameroon -based architecture firm Hermann Kamte & Associates (HKA). But over the centuries it has shrunk, dwindling to a mere 1,544 square miles in 2001. HKA hopes to use architecture to jumpstart regeneration of the dying lake in the form of a desalination and research center called The Forgotten – Dead or Alive. The center would begin a process that would eventually be handed over to nature . The first humans made their home near Lake Chad, according to HKA, but this body of water is in danger of disappearing forever. It could die out in this century if no steps are taken to preserve it. Lake Chad – bordered by Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria, and Niger – is vital to the health of the region; HKA says its disappearance would impact over nine million people nearby, and indirectly, 30 million people in the region. Related: Green-roofed wooden tower in Lagos maximizes daylight and natural ventilation So they designed a center to help keep the lake alive. The self-sufficient Limnology Center would offer a location for researchers to study Lake Chad and the surrounding region. A desalination center onsite would actually connect the lake to the Atlantic Ocean via pipelines , which would transport water from the ocean. The desalination center would treat the saltwater so it could be reused as fresh water to help restore Lake Chad and provide a source of water for people in the region. HKA designed the center to have an amphibian-like form to blend in with the lake surroundings. They envision three stages to help revitalize the lake, beginning with the center and then slowly transitioning the job over to nature. Construction of the pipelines and lake research would take place between 2016 and 2026. In 2020 trees and vegetation will be planted around the lake. The greenery will eventually take over the job of regeneration; in 2080 pipelines will stop bringing in Atlantic Ocean water as natural regeneration takes over thanks to a thriving woodland. + Hermann Kamte & Associates Images courtesy of Hermann Kamte & Associates

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Plants use sound to find water and survive, new research shows

May 22, 2017 by  
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Many people believe that playing music to plants makes them grow better , but scientists would say that’s absurd. New research from Australia might prove them wrong though. Monica Gagliano, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Western Australia, found that plants utilize the sounds of nature , from the buzzing of an insect to the sound of liquid rushing through a pipe, to find water and survive. In her recent study , Gagliano placed pea seedlings in a pot in the shape of an upside-down Y. Scientific American reports , “One arm of each pot was placed in either a tray of water or a coiled plastic tube through which water flowed; the other arm had only soil. The roots grew toward the arm of the pipe with the fluid, regardless of whether it was easily accessible or hidden inside the tubing.” According to Gagliano, the plants “just knew the water was there,” even though they could only detect the sound of the water flowing inside the pipe. When the seedlings were given a choice between the flowing tube and soil that was moistened, their roots chose the latter, however. The lead scientist says the plants use sound waves to detect water from far away, but follow moisture gradients to move in on their target when it is within reach. Related: Energy-generating ‘artificial plants’ turn greenhouse gases into clean air Gagliano’s discovery was published in the May 2017 issue of Oecologia, an international peer-reviewed journal. In the paper, titled “ Tuned in: plant roots use sound to locate water ,” she writes: Because water is essential to life, organisms have evolved a wide range of strategies to cope with water limitations, including actively searching for their preferred moisture levels to avoid dehydration . Plants use moisture gradients to direct their roots through the soil once a water source is detected, but how they first detect the source is unknown. We found that roots were able to locate a water source by sensing the vibrations generated by water moving inside pipes, even in the absence of substrate moisture. She added, “Our results also showed that the presence of noise affected the abilities of roots to perceive and respond correctly to the surrounding soundscape.” Considering the phenomena of “buzz pollination,” in which the sound of bees buzzing at a certain frequency stimulates the release of pollen in plants, has already been validated, it doesn’t seem too outlandish to propose that plants rely on sound vibrations to find water and thrive. Gagliano elaborates on her findings in the video below: Via Scientific American Images via Pixabay

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Plants use sound to find water and survive, new research shows

Finland’s Green Party says humanity must embrace nuclear power

April 17, 2017 by  
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Nuclear energy must be an option as humanity shifts away from fossil fuels , according to a recent article penned by four candidates of Finland’s Green Party , or Green League. The party strictly opposed the controversial fuel source in the past, but these four candidates said we’re running out of time to fight climate change and no longer have the luxury of picking between renewable energy and nuclear power. Humanity should take another look at nuclear power, according to Jakke Mäkelä, Tuomo Liljenbäck, Markus Norrgran, and Heidi Niskanen of the Finnish Greens. They wrote a March 6 blog post, translated by J.M. Korhonen , detailing why Finland should develop nuclear energy. Related: Germany’s massive nuclear fusion reactor is actually working Finland’s temperatures are spiking quicker than any other place in the world due to climate change, according to Forbes contributor James Conca. The country has pledged to end coal use by 2030, but they’re also widely utilizing biomass . The four Greens condemned the government’s burning of wood chips for power since it emits carbon dioxide and will destroy forests . The Greens said renewable energy won’t be able to help us wean completely off fossil fuels yet. They said solar and wind work very well up to a point, but on a large scale require lots of raw materials and land. They pointed to Germany, which shuttered nuclear power plants, but the consequence was renewable energy largely replaced nuclear energy and not fossil fuels. The four Greens said we no longer have the option of choosing between renewables and nuclear. They wrote, “Unless we spend a lot more money in all clean energy sources, we are certain to be doomed.” Korhonen notes their viewpoint is not an official recommendation from the Green Party or of the Viite, the technology and science subgroup of which Mäkelä is vice-chairman and the others are members. It’s simply the opinion of the four candidates, who were up for election in Turku. The Green Party won 12 percent of the total vote in the recent elections, gaining seats and winning the largest share in their history. Via J.M. Korhonen and Forbes Images via Pixabay ( 1 , 2 )

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