News From the Future imagines iconic landmarks after a climate apocalypse

March 5, 2021 by  
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Have you ever wondered what the world might look after an environmental apocalypse? Thanks to Paris-based digital artist and photographer Fabien Barrau, you can get a clear picture. A professional advertising artist by day, he uses his personal time to create thought-provoking visuals out of his drone images and stock photography for a series known as “News From the Future.” “My motivation for this series was how to influence awareness of climate change and the urgency to act every day according to one’s means and power,” Barrau told Inhabitat. “In my case, my little power is to create images and imagine myself as an explorer who will return from the future with photos of a changed world.” He hopes that the striking images will serve as a reminder to global citizens, especially young people, to the potential future of our world’s most treasured landmarks should climate change continue to worsen. Related: Artist creates mesmerizing paintings using coal pollution from local streams With the effects of climate change threatening to raise ocean levels and heighten the Earth’s temperatures , News From the Future might not be far off from our future reality. The project depicts images of an underwater Arc de Triomphe, a sinking Statue of Liberty and a sand-covered Colosseum, among others. Barrau said he wanted to create a feeling similar to what archaeologists of the 19th century would have felt discovering Pompeii or the great Aztec cities, only with modern architectural achievements as the main subjects. The artist is a self-proclaimed fan of the post-apocalyptic theme in art , novels, films and documentaries. He is especially inspired by Planet of the Apes, Mad Max and the French painter Roland Cat, whom he pays tribute to with one of his pieces. “I love using my photos taken with my drone to use them in post-apocalyptic photo montages,” Barrau said. “I try to imagine what would happen in the event of desertification, the rise of the oceans or the tropicalization of a region.” + Fabien Barrau Via Dezeen Images via Fabien Barrau

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News From the Future imagines iconic landmarks after a climate apocalypse

You can make this 3D-printed, bioplastic face shield at home

February 22, 2021 by  
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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many issues of waste into the spotlight, starting with the sheer quantity of petroleum-based personal protective equipment (PPE) used in the medical field and by everyday users gearing up to go to the grocery store or park. Designer Alice Potts homed in on this problem early, countering it with face shields made from food waste and flowers. These face shields required more than just a little research and development. Potts wanted to tackle the issue of plastic-based PPE but approached it by also addressing food waste . Potts said the face shields are biodegradable , because they are a product of food and flowers collected from local markets, butchers and households in the surrounding London area. The variety of organic materials affect the final product, meaning that each mask varies in unique ways. Related: Engineering student turns food waste into renewable energy “Every colour is completely seasonal depending on what flowers are blooming, what vegetables and fruits are growing and earth that is in and around London,” the designer said. Potts was initially inspired by her brother, a paramedic who reported a lack of PPE for himself and other first responders and medical care workers. So Potts set out to create a more sustainable option intended for the public, because the shields likely don’t offer the same level of protection as required in a medical care setting. With the recipe for the face shield and a design for the 3D-printed top section, Potts plans to make the template available to everyone via an open-source design. “I want to combine the advantages of technology with sustainability to form a template of the top of a face shield that can be 3D-printed from recycled plastic with a bioplastic recipe for the shield for people to make at home,” she said. The Dance Biodegradable Personal Protective Equipment (DBPPE) Post COVID Facemasks, as Potts named them, will be on exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, an event that highlights art, design, and architecture and runs through April 2021. + Alice Potts  Via Dezeen   Images via James Stopforth and Sean Fennessy via Alice Potts

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You can make this 3D-printed, bioplastic face shield at home

SoilKit wins recognition through Lowe’s small businesses program

February 22, 2021 by  
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Through the “Making It…With Lowe’s” program, entrepreneurs around the U.S. had the opportunity to showcase their products and innovative ideas. Three winners were picked out of many products and various entries into the program. One of these standouts is SoilKit, and the story behind the kit is just as interesting as the product itself. SoilKit is a soil test kit created by fifth-generation farmer Christina Woerner McInnis. This Alabama resident used her grandmother’s knowledge of soil health and modern soil chemistry to create a kit that will help aspiring gardeners keep their soil healthy. McInnis spent her younger years working on her grandmother’s farm, which dates to 1908. She decided to help everyday homeowners and gardeners expand their soil knowledge and make it easier for them to achieve soil health. Enter SoilKit, a comprehensive product that allows anyone to gather and submit a soil sample for expert lab reports and extensive information about the soil. Because she found a way to simplify a process that has been mostly performed by scientists and serious soil enthusiasts in the past, Lowe’s offered her a top supplier marketing development package and a Small Business Grant for $5,000. Consumers can purchase SoilKit right now. Making It…With Lowe’s is a $55 million program designed to support small businesses and provide opportunities. Lowe’s has also released a three-part YouTube series showcasing the three standout small business owners who recently submitted their impressive ideas. “Lowe’s began nearly a century ago as a small-town hardware store, and we know small business is the backbone of our economy ,” said Marvin R. Ellison, Lowe’s president and CEO. “Our Making It…With Lowe’s program attempts to give these diverse small business owners a shot at the American Dream – and inspire others through their stories.” Small businesses that are at least 51% minority-owned, woman-owned, veteran-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned, disability-owned or LGBTQ-owned are encouraged to apply to the  Making It…With Lowe’s program. + Lowe’s Images via Lowe’s

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Foldable prefab cabin offers endless possibilities

February 18, 2021 by  
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Latvian startup Brette Haus has created an incredibly versatile tiny cabin that can unfold and be installed within only three hours. These foldable prefab cabins are inspired by Scandinavian style and come in three models: Compact, Rustic and Urban. The models range from 237 to 506 square feet and each comes with a kitchen, living-room, bathroom and bedroom. Perfect for businesses that need to set up and move facilities quickly, these tiny cabins can also be used for events or to house seasonal workers. They would work great as an option for glamping or as pop-up stores as well. The separate units can even be attached to one another to create a larger structure thanks to the hinging mechanisms. Related: The top 7 amazing tiny homes we’ve seen this year When it comes to the versatile design, the secret is in the hinges. According to the company, the unique hinge system allows the cabin to fold up and reinstall up to 100 times. There’s also no need for a permanent foundation, because the building can be placed on any leveled base (though it suggests incorporating a screw pile foundation, which is removable and relocatable right along with the cabin). The installation process takes two people about three hours (all you need is a crane truck to move it). Plus, if buyers want to set up in a spot without electricity or water hook-ups, solar battery kits or water pumping stations are easy additions. For materials, the company chose durable cross-laminated timber and natural, recyclable materials. These wooden panels are manufactured with precise measurements for low construction waste and are made of renewable wood from sustainably managed forests . The CLT panels also offer natural ventilation and efficient temperature balance. Inside, the homes offer a blank slate for buyers to add their personal touches. Thanks to the simple design, the company is able to keep construction costs down with prices starting at just $23,000. + Brette Haus Via Dwell Images via Brette Haus

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Foldable prefab cabin offers endless possibilities

Bill Gates wants you to step up on climate

February 16, 2021 by  
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Bill Gates wants you to step up on climate Elsa Wenzel Tue, 02/16/2021 – 00:00 When you’re one of the world’s richest people, it’s hard not to make a global impact. Fortunately for the climate cause, Bill Gates for the last half-decade has invested considerably toward innovations to push the planet toward net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. “Getting to zero is one of the most difficult challenges people have ever taken on,” he said in a keynote address broadcast at the GreenBiz 21 virtual event Tuesday. “We’re going to have to change the way we make and consume basically everything, and we’re going to have to do it many times faster than energy transitions have happened in the past.” Weaning the world from its annual release of 51 billion tons of planet-changing emissions is the subject of Gates’ latest book, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” being released this month. “It’s going to take significant investment and bold innovation,” he told the GreenBiz virtual crowd. “So we cannot only invent new solutions but commercialize them and then scale them up quickly.” What does it mean for you? It means thinking about climate breakthroughs across every area of your business. To that end, Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Coalition, launched in 2015 with its billion-dollar venture arm a year later, has backed some 30 startups in a variety of low-carbon plays, including in greener metal, energy storage and even cultured breastmilk. In January, the star-studded fund — with the likes of Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Jack Ma onboard — said it will double to $2 billion and target 40 more emissions-slashing startups. As one of the world’s foremost techno-optimists, Gates was central to the improbable advances of the personal computer and the recent rollout of COVID-19 vaccines . In his view of a global climate revolution being bigger than the moon landing or eradicating smallpox, cooperation from the business world is pivotal. “It’s about the future we leave for our grandchildren, it’s about the future success of your business,” Gates said in the GreenBiz 21 address. “To meet this challenge, we need your business to join in, and you can be the champion inside your business to create these breakthroughs. Make no mistake, the challenge ahead of us is unprecedented. But I believe we can come up with a plan to overcome it.” What does that mean for your company? Here are clues, gleaned from Gates’ GreenBiz 21 address and other recent statements. Eliminate the green premium Fantastic innovations alone can’t lead to zero emissions unless they reach mass affordability. So Gates seeks to rally people behind wiping out the “green premium,” the high cost of sustainable products and services over polluting ones. Electric vehicles are driving in this direction, marked last month by General Motors’ disclosure that it will stop selling internal combustion passenger cars by 2035; and solar energy is already cheaper than burning coal in many places. Yet a long path is ahead before the green premium disappears across other systems, notably for steel, cement, air travel and buildings. Gates recently noted, for instance, the Swiss firm Climeworks ‘ success with direct-air carbon capture to improve cement-making, but its processes are 10 times more expensive than needed to erase the green premium of traditional cement-making. The Breakthrough Energy Coalition names five “grand challenges” representing an outsize share of the global emissions pie: manufacturing; electricity; agriculture; transportation; and buildings. Elevate the developing world Gates has shared on his podcast how a personal urgency about the climate crisis built over time as he flew to developing nations for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s global health and poverty-reduction efforts. As he landed over bustling Lagos, Nigeria, the ubiquitous nighttime fires illuminated to him the need to address how 1 billion people live without electric power . It’s the duty of the developed world not only to develop innovations but also to fine-tune them in such a way that they become affordable to the poorer regions of the world, the philanthropist has said. “We need to be at the point where we can call up India and say, ‘Hey, we have green cement now; don’t use the dirty stuff,'” Gates said in a December episode of the podcast “Bill Gates and Rashida Jones Ask Big Questions.” Support climate-smart policies Gates recently praised President Joe Biden for re-joining the Paris Agreement: “Now the United States can build on that step by adopting a concrete plan that checks several boxes at once: eliminating emissions while adapting to the warming that is already happening, spurring innovative industries, creating jobs for the post-pandemic recovery, and ensuring that everyone benefits from the transition to a green economy,” he wrote on the Gates Notes blog recently. In December, Gates called for the U.S. to create a National Institutes of Energy Innovation to centralize efforts that are spread out across the National Aeronautics and Space Agency as well as the Energy, Defense and Transportation departments. When it comes to research, clean energy only receives about a quarter of the federal funding as medicine does. Gates would like that to change, too.  Think about climate breakthroughs across every area of your business, and invest in clean energy research and development that aligns with your goals As already mentioned, manufacturing, electricity, agriculture, transportation and buildings are the five major areas Gates repeatedly has identified as needing rapid innovation now. They represent the major sources of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.  There are opportunities in most of these categories for every company to reduce emissions from the top office to the farthest reaches of a supply chain. The Google X “moonshot factory” tinkers with renewable energy and more. Nestlé’s labs cook up plant-based proteins. It’s up to each business to customize and commit to the opportunities for innovation. Support accelerators and incubators by being willing to pilot and demonstrate new technology Breakthrough Energy Ventures, for one, seeks to invest in “neglected areas and enterprises we believe are critical to explore,” according to its website. In addition: “We will only invest in technologies with the potential, at scale, to reduce greenhouse gases by at least half a gigaton every year, about 1 percent of global emissions.” In that spirit: Back innovations that go big. Set a target to become net-zero enterprise, reimagining procurement and supply chains Microsoft, which Gates co-founded, is a best-in-class example. Thirteen months ago, the tech giant set forth the goal of net-zero emissions by 2030 . The icing on that cake: removing by 2050 the equivalent of all emissions it has released. As the tech giant reported last month , so far it has purchased the removal of 1.3 million metric tons of CO2 from 26 projects around the world, representing diverse solutions. Companies hoping to reach a meaningful net-zero commitment should proceed with caution and make sure to invest in significant and measurable improvements, not relying heavily on hard-to-verify, potentially low-quality offsets. Develop innovative financial vehicles to scale green technologies “Because energy research can take years — even decades — to come to fruition, companies need patient investors who are willing to work with them over the long term,” Gates wrote in 2018 . Beyond traditional venture capital, creative tools to accelerate sustainability are gaining hold, including green bonds and special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACS . (There’s a whole new GreenBiz event in April for the emerging green finance space .) “Most of all, it’s going to take courage to see beyond the way things have been done for decades, to identify new opportunities and to build creative partnerships to take advantage of them,” Gates told the GreenBiz 21 audience.  Illustration of the green premium. Pull Quote What does it mean for you? It means thinking about climate breakthroughs across every area of your business. Topics Leadership Cleantech Finance & Investing GreenBiz 21 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Bill Gates addressing GreenBiz 21

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Bill Gates wants you to step up on climate

Let’s rid our work environments of the toxic smoke of dysfunction

January 25, 2021 by  
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Let’s rid our work environments of the toxic smoke of dysfunction Chris Gaither Mon, 01/25/2021 – 01:30 Before he saw the smoke, he felt it in his throat. It tasted foul. It curled into his nose, his mouth, his lungs. He looked up from his computer. His colleagues were tapping at their keyboards. The smoke hovered around them. He walked to his manager’s door. “This office is filled with toxic smoke,” he said. “Yes,” she said. “Don’t worry. We have a plan.” “What will you do?” he asked. “Install new ventilation? Move us to another space?” “No,” she said. “We’ve hired you an executive coach to help you develop strategies for dealing with the toxic smoke.” “But I don’t want to deal with the toxic smoke,” he said. “I want to get rid of it.” “Work with the coach,” she said. “Leave a few minutes early today. Get a massage. You’ll be okay.” We must approach our personal sustainability challenges as a problem with our ecosystem. I heard this parable last year, before the pandemic, from a fellow executive coach. It lodged in my gut. I realized that so many of my coaching clients — in big corporations and small nonprofits, sustainability teams and sales departments — were asking me for help dealing with the stress and dysfunction of their organizations. They were breathing the same toxic smoke as everyone around them. Sometimes they were, themselves, pumping that toxic smoke into their work environments. Yet they were suffering alone, trying to solve it alone. Just as I did during my hectic career leading teams at the Los Angeles Times, Google and Apple. If anything, the pandemic has increased the pressure on us to deal with this suffering in isolation. But here’s the thing: Avoiding burnout is not simply a matter of individual responsibility. It’s a leadership challenge, and we are all leaders. Throughout this Sustainable You series for GreenBiz, I have encouraged you to tend to your personal sustainability so you can do great work on behalf of the planet. This kind of self-care remains critical. But it’s insufficient. As environmental sustainability leaders, you are, by nature, systems thinkers. You identify root causes. You craft upstream solutions. You see the forests, not just the trees, and work to improve the ecosystems so the individuals in them can thrive. So, let’s approach our personal sustainability challenges as a problem with our ecosystem. To get to the root cause of the smoke, we need to think bigger. “You can’t expect people to adopt healthy lifestyles when their work environments reinforce or even cause poor habits,” says Jeffrey Pfeffer, an organizational-behavior professor at Stanford University. Pfeffer is the author of the 2018 book, “Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance — and What We Can Do About It.” He writes that companies have created elaborate systems for tracking their progress on environmental sustainability, but they seem to have forgotten to measure the human sustainability of their own employees. Current management practices harm employee engagement and job performance, Pfeffer says, and they increase employee turnover and healthcare costs. There’s even more at stake. To solve global, complex challenges like the climate emergency, racial injustice and species extinction, we must be adaptive leaders. We need to be mindful. Creative. Intuitive. Curious. Willing to experiment, learn and redesign. Open-minded and open-hearted. That’s so hard to do when we’re burned out. Organizational culture is a living, breathing thing. We draw from it, and we feed into it. We’re constantly creating it together. So, when everyone around us is stressed out, exhausted and closed off, it’s easy to shift into that same mode. Our mirror neurons, those evolutionary tools that help us build nourishing social connections, pick up on those signals and encourage us to be like the others. To suffer with the rest. I know this feeling well. I have held, deep in my body, the physical and emotional distress that burnout carries. We can work this way for a while, but eventually we deplete our energy and fall apart. As an executive leadership coach, I have supported many individuals to the other side of this burnout, where they’ve refilled their energy reserves and brought their creativity back to life. I’ve also followed my intuition upstream, seeking the origins of the toxic smoke. I work with full teams and their leaders to help them shift organizational culture: to slow down, reflect on what really matters, call out harmful behaviors, give themselves permission to embrace a more wholesome way of working. Healthy people, healthy planet A healthy earth depends on healthy people. To heal the planet, we must first heal ourselves. So, my fellow leaders, let’s set an intention to cultivate human sustainability in our organizations — for the sake of our employees and the communities and natural habitats they’re working to protect. Let’s look for the toxic smoke curling through our Zoom meetings, our email inboxes and Slack channels. Let’s name it, get curious about where it came from, chase it down to its source. Let’s pay close attention to the tone we are setting for our teams. The moods we are carrying into our interactions. The behaviors we are modeling. The harmful ways of being that we are introducing or accepting. Let’s check in on each other. Let’s work to understand how others in our groups are experiencing the world, how they might be suffering differently from us, and offer them support. Let’s talk about burnout and wellness — with our team members, fellow leaders, bosses, even our boards of directors. Let’s gather our teams. Let’s come up with, say, 50 things we could do to improve our health and happiness at work. Then let’s commit to new ways of being together. Let’s craft agreements and hold each other accountable. Instead of trying to manage the toxic smoke in our work environments, let’s get rid of it. Because only when we can breathe can we truly do this critical planetary work. Pull Quote We must approach our personal sustainability challenges as a problem with our ecosystem. Topics Leadership Health & Well-being Featured Column Sustainable You Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock

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How Wall Street can win on climate In 2021

January 25, 2021 by  
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How Wall Street can win on climate In 2021 Ben Ratner Mon, 01/25/2021 – 01:00 This year, financial institutions must make a significant leap forward on climate — from pledges to progress. Even amidst a global pandemic, 2020 proved climate finance and a focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are more than passing fads, with net-zero financed emissions commitments from Morgan Stanley , JP Morgan  and a group of 30 international asset managers —  Net Zero Asset Management Initiative   — with $9 trillion in assets under management. At the start of 2021, leading investors openly recognize that climate change presents a massive systemic risk and a multi-trillion-dollar opportunity. But for the vast majority of firms, the real work of implementing climate and ESG integration is ahead. With increasing public, government and shareholder attention on climate, here are three ways sustainable finance leaders will emerge in 2021. 1. Integrate climate into core business A 2050 net-zero vision may be an inspiration, but it is not a plan. To realize its ambitions, Wall Street must integrate climate into its core business, evolving its approach to capital allocation and changing its relationships with carbon-intensive industries. Asset owners will demand no less of asset managers. This transition will require a far sharper focus on short-term, sector-specific benchmarks tied to decarbonization pathways — starting with the high-impact industries that matter most for solving the climate crisis.  For example, in the oil and gas sector, investors can assess progress and pace toward net-zero by monitoring companies’ methane emissions, flaring intensity, capital expenditures, lobbying and governance. Concentrating on five key metrics over a five-year period will allow investors to distinguish climate leaders from laggards. As with other core financial issues, monitoring metrics is just the start. To advance their climate commitments, investors should pair metrics with accountability. For asset managers, corporate climate performance should strongly inform investment stewardship, proxy voting and fund construction. For banks, climate benchmarks should influence loan eligibility, interest rates and debt covenants. Wall Street knows how to set quantitative targets and factor corporate performance and risk into financial decisions — now climate must become part of the new business as usual. 2. Align proxy voting with climate goals Advancing sustainable investing in 2021 will also necessitate a shift in proxy voting among the world’s largest asset managers. Last year, BlackRock and Vanguard voted against the vast majority of climate-related shareholder proposals filed with S&P 500 companies. BlackRock opposed 10 of 12 resolutions endorsed by the Climate Action 100+ , a coalition it joined last January, and later signaled an intention to support more climate votes in future years. There’s a better way. Both PIMCO and Legal and General Investment Management supported 100 percent of climate-related proposals filed with S&P 500 firms during last year’s proxy season, sending a powerful message to CEOs about the materiality of climate risk. As asset managers around the world unveil new ESG products and brand themselves as sustainability pioneers, proxy voting will become the litmus test for climate authenticity in finance for 2021.   3. Support regulations and policies required to decarbonize While the finance community has traditionally taken a hands-off approach to public policy advocacy, industry norms are changing . Investors understand that scaling the climate finance market depends on Paris-aligned government action, and some have proven willing to engage on issues ranging from carbon pricing to methane standards . With the incoming Biden administration prioritizing climate, investors should double down on climate-friendly advocacy , supporting both financial regulations and regulations of carbon-intensive sectors consistent with a 1.5 degrees Celsius scenario. As BlackRock CEO Larry Fink has emphasized, updated regulation of the financial system is needed to help monitor and manage economy-wide climate risks. As linchpins of capital markets, banks and asset managers have a crucial role to play in pushing federal agencies to safeguard the economy from climate-related shocks. For example, supporting rigorous mandatory climate risk disclosure from the SEC and appropriate ESG rulemaking from the Department of Labor can help investors build Paris-aligned portfolios. However, investor-led policy advocacy cannot end with financial regulation. As the Global Financial Markets Association noted , reaching net-zero by 2050 involves both financial regulation and environmental regulation of carbon-intensive sectors. The right mix of emission standards and incentives can slash pollution, drive technological innovation and improve the economics of low carbon investments. Given the rise of passive index investing, supporting government action in carbon-intensive sectors is essential, as leading financial firms favor continued investment over sector level divestment. In particular, policies and regulations to cut methane emissions and flaring, to accelerate vehicle electrification and to clean up the electric grid should be top priorities in 2021. Contributors Gabe Malek Topics Finance & Investing GreenFin Investing Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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How Wall Street can win on climate In 2021

Outdoor adventures in Hot Springs, Arkansas

December 9, 2020 by  
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If you look at an aerial view of Hot Springs, Arkansas , you see a few rows of buildings squeezed in between wild, green mountains. This resort town, about an hour southwest of Little Rock, is an unusual place where you can walk out the door of your downtown hotel and within minutes be shopping at boutiques, taking the waters in a historic bathhouse or hiking a national park trail. I visited in October, as COVID-19 ramped up nationwide and everybody seemed to be seeking outdoor activities. I found plenty in Hot Springs. Outdoors fun in Hot Springs Hot Springs National Park encompasses both the cultural assets of Bathhouse Row and the natural resources, such as many miles of trails in the Ouachita Mountains. Because bathhouses aren’t as popular as they were in 1900, the park has to think of new strategies to maintain its rank as the 18th most-visited U.S. national park . “It’s a lot of work to keep the park relevant to the American public,” said park ranger Ashley Waymouth. She’s preparing programming for 2021, the park’s centennial. Some of the plans revolve around that magic number 100, such as rallying people to donate 100 hours of volunteer work to the park in 2021 or walk/bike/paddle 100 miles in Arkansas. There will even be a special ‘bark ranger’ event for dogs. Related: This modern art museum was once a cheese factory in Arkansas Early Hot Springs medical practitioners prescribed walks of various distances and altitude gains as part of their patients’ health regimens. Today within the national park, the Hot Springs and North Mountain Trails and the West Mountain Trails offer hiking options ranging from short, scenic loops to the 10-mile Sunset Trail. Many of the trails are interconnected. A short walk from downtown, the Peak Trail leads you to the Hot Springs Mountain Tower. You can take an elevator or walk 300-plus steps up the 216-foot tower to get a panoramic view of the surrounding forest. Once you reach the open-air observation deck, you’re 1,256 feet above sea level and can admire 140 square miles of park and mountain views. For a more cultivated outdoors experience, venture about 8 miles from town to Garvan Woodland Gardens . Now run by the University of Arkansas’ Fay Jones School of Architecture + Design, the garden started out as the personal project of philanthropist and lumber heiress Verna Cook Garvan. Now, visitors wander 5 miles of paved pathways through an ever-changing landscape, be it an explosion of daffodils in spring or fall color in October. The garden also attracts architecture buffs, especially to see the spectacular Anthony Chapel, a light-filled structure of glass, wood and stone. In 2018, a gorgeous and innovative treehouse opened within the Evans Children’s Adventure Garden, delighting adult visitors as well. Hot Springs is also a mountain biking destination. The Northwoods Trail System has 26 miles of single-track, multi-track and other types of trails, plus a bike skills park, to keep beginning to advanced riders entertained for days. Northwoods hosts the annual Gudrun MTB Festival each November. Trail runners and hikers can also use this trail system. Wellness The city of 37,000 was founded on wellness, and you’ll still find options along those lines. Some visitors expect natural hot springs like you find in the west. But Hot Springs’ water is protected. Springs are covered, and their flow is directed. You can still experience the water at two of Hot Springs’ historic bathhouses. The Buckstaff is a bit more old-school, while the Quapaw operates more like a modern spa. When I visited in October , public bathing was still happening despite COVID-19. Bathers were asked to social distance in the Quapaw’s multiple pools of varying temperatures. The water felt good, but not as relaxing as it would’ve been in pre-pandemic times. Hot Springs has several yoga studios, including Om Lounge Yoga and The Yoga Place . For the safest options during the pandemic, check out Garvan’s schedule of outdoor classes, such as yoga and tai chi in the garden. Dining out During my October visit, I found a couple of places for excellent vegan food. The best meal I had was lunch at the Superior Bathhouse : hot, salty, blistered shishito peppers followed by a Vietnamese-inspired veggie and noodle bowl. The tofu was so good, I suspected it was from an obscure Arkansas soy artisan, but it turned out to be the magic of the Superior’s chef. For breakfast or a caffeine fix, Kollective Coffee + Tea is the place to go. Owner Kevin Rogers’ family has long been into coffee, including a Christmas tradition of sending each other unusual coffees . “We’d try to one-up each other every year,” he said. Rogers was surprised when he found the best cup of coffee close to home. Onyx Coffee Lab , an award-winning roaster in Northwest Arkansas, supplies Kollective with its coffees. I had to agree it was one of the best soy cappuccinos I ever had. Kollective draws local and visiting vegans from around the country. “It’s pretty significant for us based on how rare it is in town,” Rogers said of the demand for the restaurant’s vegan dishes. In addition to a changing assortment of vegan pastries and mini cheesecakes, Kollective offers a couple of plant-based full breakfasts, including vegan frijoles rancheros. SQZBX is open for takeaway during the pandemic. This pizzeria offers vegan cheese, which is not exactly widely available in Arkansas. Where to stay I stayed at The Waters, which afforded a lively view of Hot Springs’ main drag. George Mann, best known for designing the Arkansas State Capitol, was the building’s main architect. It was called the Thompson Building when it was built in 1913 and originally housed doctors’ offices catering to visitors taking the healing waters. After a huge renovation in 2017, The Waters offers perfectly modern and spacious hotel rooms. But my favorite part was the lovingly restored tile work in the hallways. A popular rooftop bar provides beautiful views of Bathhouse Row and the mountains beyond. Hotel Hale , which just opened in 2019, is a boutique hotel inside a restored bathhouse. The owners incorporated exposed brick walls, original pine floors and arched windows into plush and comfortable rooms. If I ever visit again, I’d love to stay here. But I’d probably never leave the bathroom; the Hale pipes in hot spring water so you can take the waters in your own private bathtub. Images via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat Editor’s Note: Like the author, we recommend taking the utmost care to keep those around you safe if you choose to travel. You can find more advice on travel precautions from the  CDC  and  WHO .

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The top 10 houseplants of 2020 and what’s trending for 2021

November 23, 2020 by  
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Introducing just one plant to your home can improve the air quality and add a lovely touch of green. With so many people staying at home because of coronavirus, plants are becoming a popular and easy way to spruce up interior spaces, balconies, porches and outdoor living areas. But which plants are most popular? Research from Flowercard reveals 2020’s trendiest houseplants and what to expect in 2021. Cacti People love cacti . These low-maintenance plants offer an interesting look, especially with species like the Fishbone, Mistletoe or Bunny Ear Cactus. Popularity increases of 2280%, 1467% and 1985% respectively make these plants an especially trendy addition to any home. Just make sure to keep small children and pets away from these prickly plants. Blue Star Fern Blue Star Fern also saw a popularity spike over the last 10 years. Up by 1795%, these low-light houseplants offer a gorgeous green color. Blue Star Ferns love moist soil, making them very tolerant of over-watering. The flat, long leaves also spread out beautifully to add a lot of color to any area.  Velvet Calathea Velvet Calathea, also known as the peacock plant, is set to be one of 2021’s biggest stars, with a popularity increase of 1291%. Named for its velvety texture, this plant’s wide, two-tone green leaves feature a herringbone pattern that looks a little like feathers. Calathea plants thrive in shady, humid environments and don’t need a lot of water . Give them some indirect sunlight, and you can enjoy their eye-catching beauty. Snake Plant Snake Plant, scientifically known as Sansevieria Zeylanica, is low-maintenance but beautiful. Coming in third place as one of 2020’s most popular houseplants , the snake plant sports tall, thin leaves in multiple shades of green. This plant thrives with indirect light and little water, making it ideal for any home environment. String of Hearts With gorgeous, unique heart-shaped leaves, it’s no wonder the String of Hearts plant’s popularity has skyrocketed by 1057%. Classified as a semi-succulent, this plant not only tolerates dry soil but can actually rot in overly moist soil, so be careful when watering. Keep the soil just slightly moist through spring and summer, and don’t worry when the plant goes dormant in fall and winter . Your patience will be rewarded in spring and summer when the plant produces pretty purple flowers. Place your String of Hearts up high to allow the vines to trail down and show off their unique leaves. Happy Bean Plant The Happy Bean Plant is native to rainforests. Up 796% in popularity, this semi-succulent plant features peapod-shaped leaves that sprout along tall stems. Happy Bean Plants liven up any space; just make sure to train the plant to prevent the leaves from growing out twisted. Avoid overwatering these plants, and give them plenty of indirect sunlight. Keep them thriving in peat-based, well-draining soil .  Chinese Money Plant With a popularity increase of 668%, Chinese Money Plants rank in eighth place among the 10 houseplants seeing the biggest increases in popularity. This comes as no surprise considering the plant’s large, eye-catching leaves. Keep Chinese Money Plants happy with lots of bright, indirect sunlight and well-draining soil. You can give these plants a little shade to make the leaves grow larger and rotate the plant to keep it from getting lopsided. Droopy leaves are easily fixed with a little extra water. Peace Lily Peace Lilies, the fourth most popular plant of 2020, earn the nickname “closet plants” for being so low-maintenance. These beauties grow wide, pointed leaves in dark green with bright white flowers. At least, these look like flowers. These blooms are actually leaf bracts that resemble flower petals. Pretty cool, right? Give your Peace Lily medium to low light and make sure not to over-water. Water the lily when the soil is dry. Otherwise, just let it do its thing and this plant will stay beautiful for you. Lavender Lavender plants are also especially trendy right now, ranking second on the 2020 top 10 list of popular houseplants. Nearly 10 million total searches for lavender show that people are definitely interested in this fragrant herb. Who wouldn’t love this plant’s distinctive purple coloring and pleasant smell? Use lavender as a garnish, place sprigs of it around the house or use it as a jumping-off point to start an herb garden. Easy-to-grow herbs like basil, rosemary, thyme and oregano are great choices for a windowsill container garden. You can even experiment with cool ways to grow and display your herbs. Aloe Vera Earning the number one spot as 2020’s most popular houseplant, Aloe Vera earned a staggering 19,332,400 total searches. As attractive as it is useful, this plant’s thick, tall stems can be broken open to reveal juices that soothe rashes, burns and bug bites. As Flowercard puts it, “we love a plant that can multitask.” Planting Around the Home Houseplants help improve air quality and provide great-looking interior decor . Choose your plants wisely based on how easy they are to care for, how safe they are to have around and how they suit your personal tastes. Have fun with this green hobby, and play around with different plants. + Flowercard Images via Flowercard, Pixabay and Shutterstock

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The top 10 houseplants of 2020 and what’s trending for 2021

Plant a unique indoor garden with this modular living wall kit from Horticus

October 22, 2020 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

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Designed by Horticus, these modular living walls offer a stunning way to reconnect with nature by creating a vertical hanging garden indoors, no matter how small the space. The flexible system is completely adaptable, with a modular, hexagonal steel frame with room for customized terracotta planters. The instructions are easy enough for even beginner gardeners. Simply soak the terracotta planters, assemble the modular frames into your desired layout, place the planters onto the frames and start planting. You can water without flooding the roots through a grid of watering holes on the side of the planters. Don’t worry, the website goes much more in-depth in terms of instruction, with additional maintenance tips and optional steps to keep your plants as beautiful and healthy as possible. Related: The all-natural ‘Wellness Kitchen’ includes a beautiful living herb wall Plants can be rearranged and replaced according to the customer’s preference. Users can lift the terracotta planters out to rearrange or repot. Planters come with little feet on the bottom for added circulation and finger gaps for lifting, so you can easily place them on a table for things like kitchen herbs or centerpieces. The company offers kits that provide owners with everything they need to get started on their personal indoor living walls. Kits range from three planters to up to 24 planters, with options to include a humidifier (great for tropical plants ), a light or a speaker inside. The website also includes a detailed plant guide with a list of tested plants that work best within the system. The guide designates plants in terms of growing difficulty level, from the “super easy” Zebrina plant to the “medium/expert” orchids. The smallest kit includes three planters and one frame and will set you back about $310, while the largest kit costs over $1,350. These planters are certainly an investment, but if you can swing it, Horticus will help bring a stunning garden oasis right into your home to help you improve your indoor air quality with style. + Horticus Via Dezeen Images via Horticus

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Plant a unique indoor garden with this modular living wall kit from Horticus

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