Invasive soft rush weed turned into sustainable packaging materials

November 23, 2018 by  
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Soft rush is a plant, however, it recently has been transformed into furniture and packaging materials. Born from the idea that fibers could be cultivated from the weed, Don Kwaning has designed a line of products using varying parts of the grass-like plant. Throughout the Netherlands, the plant is invasive enough that thousands of pounds are pulled from ditches, wetlands, and marshes every year and turned into biogas. Although it is also used to improve overly-sandy soil, soft rush is widely recognized as an unwanted weed. Related: IKEA eyes mushroom packaging to replace nasty polystyrene With sustainability in mind Kwaning uses both the pith and the fibers of the plant to create paper, corrugated cardboard, a foam-like substance, and a pressed fiber used to make furniture. As a Design Academy Eindhoven graduate, Kwaning had seen the plant in its whole form processed into Japanese tatami mats. He then took the design a step further with the realization that separating the pith from the fibers opened up entirely new applications. In the packaging realm, the soft rush pith is turned into a light foam-like material that offers excellent protection both in block form and as long noodles. The natural components of the pith allow the substance to be pressed into a material similar to the widely-produced MDF, without requiring any sort of binding agent. This offers versatility through a range of density options so Kwaning has used it to make both packing and storage boxes. Related: Reebok develops plant-based sneakers made of cotton and corn The fibers are equally useful as a building material for another type of packing box and Kwaning asserts it can be made into rope and textiles. The boxes made from the fibers can be dual purposed into a side table by stacking them together. Through a focus on eco-friendly materials, Kwaning has not only created useful sustainable products from a pesky weed, but opened the door for an entirely new material option for a range of manufacturing markets. +Don Kwaning Via Dezeen Images via Don Kwaning

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Invasive soft rush weed turned into sustainable packaging materials

Avoid the crowds with these 10 alternatives to Black Friday shopping

November 23, 2018 by  
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The unofficial kick-off to the holiday season is virtually stamped on the calendar the day after Thanksgiving . Titled Black Friday — from the idea that it is the time of year retailers leave the red column and enter the profit, or black, column — the commercialization of the third Friday in November is somewhat of a pop phenomenon with a cult-like following. Merchants hype up and advertise specials, deals and savings weeks in advance while people prepare to rise at 4 a.m. just hours after completing their holiday feasts. If you prefer to avoid the madness, here are some alternatives. It’s not surprising that so many people participate in Black Friday. After all, it is the season of giving. Many look forward to spending the day with spouses, siblings or parents. Others like to complete their holiday shopping early so they can enjoy the upcoming weeks in other ways. But from a different perspective, Thanksgiving offers a rare 4-day weekend, leaving many unencumbered by school and work obligations. This is an opportunity to enjoy the last bits of decent fall weather, spend time with family or try something new. So while everyone else is out battling for the newest electronics, fill your Black Friday with some of these shopping alternatives, many of which are good for your health , the environment and your wallet. Volunteer Nothing feeds the soul like helping others. Volunteer to serve a meal at a local homeless shelter; these shelters often seek volunteers for special meals served during the holidays. Also, track down your local food bank. Food banks are always looking for extra hands during the busy season. Volunteer options abound, so choose to participate in something that you’re passionate about such as a church bazaar, a beach clean-up or a gift wrap event to support foster children or servicepeople. If you’d rather spend the day alone, make crafts to donate to a worthy cause, scoop leaves out of drains on your street or make repairs at an elderly neighbor’s home. Get into nature Fall is that forgiving season where you might need an extra layer, but the harsh winter days have not yet arrived. Take advantage of the weather and enjoy some time in nature . Invite a friend for a walk or take the dogs for a long hike. Pedal the miles on your street bike or hit the hills with your mountain bike. Go bird watching, camping or kayaking. If the snow has arrived, hit the slopes for skiing or snowboarding. Related: Get ready for an adventure with this ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials Take a trip The long holiday weekend is the perfect time to take a mini vacation. Hit the beach , visit family or explore someplace you’ve never been. Locally, you can set a goal of visiting all the parks in your area. Do home improvements Life gets busy with the daily 9-5, so when you have a couple of days off work, it’s nice to tackle home improvement. Clean out the garage, donate cans and bottles to a local fundraiser, make trips to donation centers and get the recycling out of the house. Perhaps paint a room or install new flooring. You could also complete those outdoor tasks of cleaning up the garden, building new beds and repairing gates. Attend a local event Merchants and vendors know that you’re spending the day with family, so there are ample opportunities to find an event that suits your interests. Look on community boards for information about craft fairs, wine tastings and musical events. With part of your thoughts wrapped up in holiday gift giving, pick up gift certificates for lunch while you’re at the winery, buy concert tickets for a friend or purchase small local goods such as honey and tea and then put together gift baskets as the holidays get closer. Host a friendsgiving Friendsgiving is a growing tradition where people assemble for a casual pre- or post-Thanksgiving gathering. Commonly, people bring leftovers or a favorite recipe , so everyone contributes to a potluck-style dinner. You could make it a family event, invite couples or just have friends over. Structure the day the way you want with an emphasis on quality time together and no stress. Make it a pajama party. Write thank you cards to each other or others. Have a movie marathon or cue up a sporting event on TV. Make gifts Instead of marching in to the nearest mall, spend the day making your own gifts . Have a wreath-making party, whip up a batch of Kahlua drinks and place in cute bottles, prepare gifts in a jar such as cookie or soup ingredients, make salt dough ornaments or get out the sewing machine to create heat packs or door draft blockers. Related: Inexpensive DIY holiday centerpieces and decorations Schedule a date Get out with others and attend a movie, go bowling, visit the zoo, head to the theater, check out an art exhibit or museum, get a pedicure or massage or check out a local escape room. Create memories at home In today’s busy world, it’s rare to truly unplug and revel in moments at home. Plan a craft with the kids, make snowflakes for decorations, work a puzzle, make homemade popcorn and gather the family for a movie or dig out the board games. These are the things your family will remember long after the store-bought items are unwrapped and eventually discarded. Support alternatives to big box stores Hit up the secondhand market through thrift stores and estate sales, shop locally and support small businesses and scour Etsy and other online merchants for crafters who make creative, one-of-a-kind items. When you do make purchases from retailers, support those in alignment with your eco-friendly beliefs. Also check out Shop for Good Sunday , a community of companies that aim to be responsible stewards in business. If you decide to go shopping, remember to carry the spirit of the season with you. Allow someone to park in a space when you arrive simultaneously, offer to return a shopping cart for a mother with small children, help the elderly across the road and let someone with only a few items check out before you. Also think about ways you can minimize waste by purchasing items with responsible packaging, bring your own bags to the store and refuse bags or boxes that you do not need. Images via Rawpixel ( 1 , 2 ), Fidel Fernando , Kane Reinholdtsen , Traveler , Kelsey Chance , Michael Mroczek , Myke Simon , Picsea ,  Heidi Sandstrom and Shutterstock

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Avoid the crowds with these 10 alternatives to Black Friday shopping

Survey Results: Have You Switched to Plant Proteins?

August 15, 2018 by  
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Thanks to those of you who responded to last week’s … The post Survey Results: Have You Switched to Plant Proteins? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Survey Results: Have You Switched to Plant Proteins?

Build you own terrarium with Tom Dixons gorgeous glass vessels

February 7, 2018 by  
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Tom Dixon keeps on delighting us with his brilliant designs – from renovations of historic buildings to amazing lamps and even a brilliant IKEA collab . Now, Dixon is unveiling his PLANT collection, comprised of beautiful terrarium vessels which you can customize with your own floral arrangements. Each of the mouth-blown vessels has a distinct double-headed form that allows you to create beautiful micro- ecosystems . No two pieces are the same. Variations in the glass, from thickness to shape, contribute a truly unique vessel made to showcase the qualities of contemporary craftsmanship and freedom of form. Related: Tom Dixon’s Converted Water Tower in London is a Modernist Home in the Sky—and it’s Up for Rent! The designer’s website also features a visual “how-to” guide for people to create their own terrariums by using a combination of small rocks that collect water drainage, soil made for succulents and a variety of smaller plants. The PLANT collection is already available online and starts at $165. + Tom Dixon Via Cool Hunting

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Build you own terrarium with Tom Dixons gorgeous glass vessels

Dubai announces plans for world’s biggest waste-to-energy facility

February 1, 2018 by  
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Dubai plans to deal with their garbage in a bold new way: with the largest waste-to-energy plant in the world. Gulf News and New Atlas reported the government announced plans for a facility that will handle as much as two million tons of solid waste yearly. That’s around 60 percent of the trash Dubai produces in a year. With a 185 megawatt (MW) capacity, the plant will generate power for around 120,000 homes. Dubai’s launching an ambitious effort to turn junk into energy . The waste-to-energy plant will treat around 5,000 metric tons every single day, and will generate as much power as 2,000 skyscrapers as big as the Burj Khalifa could consume – roughly two percent of Dubai’s annual electricity consumption, according to the Government of Dubai Media Office . Related: World’s largest waste-to-energy plant in China will be topped with green roofs and photovoltaics Dubai will raise the waste-to-energy plant on five acres of land, and will partner with Switzerland-based waste-to-energy technology company Hitachi Zosen Inova and Belgian construction company BESIX on the project. HV 132kV cables will connect the plant to the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA)’s grid. DEWA CEO Saeed Mohammad Al Tayer told Gulf News, “This will be a new source of [power] supply for Dubai. This will improve security of supply.” Construction will commence in a few months, according to Dubai Municipality director general Hussain Nasser Lootah, and the plant should be operating before World Expo 2020 . There is another waste-to-energy plant in progress vying for the title of world’s largest planned for Shenzhen , China; Inhabitat covered its green design here . Both could be finished in 2020. New Atlas reported the Shenzhen plant is still on track to claim the prize, but if the Dubai project reaches its goals, it could snag the title, with an output around 20 MW greater than the Shenzhen plant. Via New Atlas and Government of Dubai Media Office via Gulf News Images via BESIX

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Chile’s rustic Casa Pollo is made from recycled zinc plates and reclaimed wood

February 1, 2018 by  
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This quirky home in Chile adapts to the terrain to provide expansive views of a beautiful estuary on Chiloe Island. Ortuzar Gebauer Arquitectos wrapped Casa Pollo with reclaimed zinc plates, evoking the aesthetic of old warehouses in Chiloé. The house is composed of spacious areas that can accommodate large groups of people. These spaces are well connected with the outdoors, and a large timber deck that offers views of the canal. From the mainland, the house appears hermetic and opaque, referencing old Chiloé barns and warehouses . However the façade facing the canal is open and features large glazed surfaces. Related: Minimalist timber CML House in Chile features a unique pinwheel layout Reused native woods dominate the interior, creating a feeling of warmth and protection from the elements. The roof forms a sheltered area on the terrace to allow the occupants to fully enjoy an indoor-outdoor lifestyle. + Ortuzar Gebauer Arquitectos Via Archdaily Photos by Federico Cairoli

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Chile’s rustic Casa Pollo is made from recycled zinc plates and reclaimed wood

Green-roofed desalination plant is world’s first to treat both fresh and saltwater

June 30, 2017 by  
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Desalination is an important component of Singapore’s water supply, and the island country has a new desalination plant in the works decked out with green features. The large-scale facility can treat both freshwater and saltwater, and according to Today Online and other local news outlets , it’s thought to be the first one of its kind in the world. The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant will be the first of its kind in Singapore, and some publications say in the world. It will be the country’s fourth desalination plant, but the first large-scale dual-mode one. It will treat water from the sea or the Marina Reservoir, depending on whether the weather is dry or wet. Keppel Infrastructure is constructing the plant under a 25-year Water Purchase Agreement with Singapore’s national water agency, PUB . Related: Self-sustaining island eco-lodge in Florida has its own desalination system And this plant doesn’t look like your typical industrial facility. It will be topped with a 215,278 square foot green roof and equipped to harvest rainwater for irrigating plants . According to Keppel Infrastructure CEO Ong Tiong Guan, “…the plant’s design also blends seamlessly into the environment , allowing the public to enjoy the green space above the plant along with the surrounding greenery.” Treatment facilities will be underground in the plant PUB described as sleek and modern. According to PUB Chief Executive Ng Joo Hee, desalination plants boost Singapore’s water security. He said in a statement, “As a source independent of weather , desalinated water is capable of strengthening our water supply resilience, especially against prolonged dry spells and droughts . We aim to triple its capacity to meet up to 30 percent of our water needs by 2060.” The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant is slated to be finished in 2020. The plant will produce around 30 million gallons of drinking water every single day. Via PUB Images via PUB

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Green-roofed desalination plant is world’s first to treat both fresh and saltwater

Amazing tiny home with its own pirate treehouse is the ultimate woodsy getaway

June 30, 2017 by  
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If you’ve always dreamt of downsizing and giving up city live for a charming house in the countryside, this tiny house in Sonoma County is the perfect solution. Currently on sale , the house comes with a private pirate treehouse and a beautiful canopied deck overlooking an adjacent creek. The 324-square-foot rustic house sits on the banks of Dutch Bill Creek in Monte Rio, located in Sonoma County ‘s Russian River area. The property includes two sheds and a quirky treehouse. A spiral staircase wrapped around a tree trunk leads up to the treehouse, which doubles as a guest lodge . Built in 1959, the house offers all the necessary amenities, with every nook utilized to its maximum potential. Related: World’s most active volcano harbors a tiny off-grid home—and you can stay overnight The interior houses a full bathroom with a clawfoot tub, an “efficient” kitchenette, and a sleeping loft. A large canopied deck runs the length of the home, nearly doubling the living space. The home is listed with Vanguard Properties for $300,000. + Vanguard Properties Via Curbed Photos via Vanguard Properties

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Amazing tiny home with its own pirate treehouse is the ultimate woodsy getaway

Aston Martin is releasing its first electric car in 2019

June 30, 2017 by  
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Aston Martin is known for creating some of the sexiest, most powerful cars in the world, but times are changing. Today the automaker shoves large gas guzzling V8 and V12 engines under the hood of its models, but starting in 2019, something greener is coming into the fold. Aston Martin has confirmed that its first electric car , the RapidE, will be introduced in 2019. Two years ago, Aston Martin teased the idea of a fully-electric car with the RapidE concept and now they are ready to make the concept a reality. For the RapidE, Aston Martin is going to create a rival to the Tesla Model S , with its four-doors and powerful electric motor. They are teaming up with Williams Advanced Engineering, who worked on the original concept, to create the RapidE. Related: Aston Martin RapidE electric concept previews the automaker’s 800-hp electric sedan Aston Martin hasn’t announced the specifics about the electric powertrain, but does allude to the fact that it will have more than one electric motor . “The instantaneous delivery characteristics of electric motors means the RapidE will offer a unique driving experience of a kind not experienced before in an Aston Martin.” Sadly Aston Martin is only planning to produce 155 RapidE electric cars once production kicks off in 2019. “RapidE represents a sustainable future in which Aston Martin’s values of seductive style and supreme performance don’t merely co-exist alongside a new zero-emission powertrain, but are enhanced by it,” stated Aston Martin President and CEO, Dr Andy Palmer. “The internal combustion engine has been at the heart of Aston Martin for more than a century, and will continue to be for years to come. RapidE will showcase Aston Martin’s vision, desire and capability to successfully embrace radical change, delivering a new breed of car that stays true to our ethos and delights our customers.” Images @Aston Martin + Aston Martin

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Aston Martin is releasing its first electric car in 2019

How a small tribe in Nevada shut down coal and built a solar farm

April 12, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump brags about bringing back coal jobs, but tends to gloss over the fuel’s negative health effects for workers and those who live nearby. The Moapa Band of Paiutes in Nevada know all about those harmful health effects. After years of campaigning against a coal plant near their land, they finally saw it close as they switched on the first utility-scale solar plant ever erected on tribal land. The Moapa Band of Paiutes resides in Nevada next to the coal-fired Reid Gardner Generating Station. The tribe has seen high rates of heart disease and asthma, and didn’t even benefit from the power plant – it neither powered their homes nor employed their people. But because the 311-person tribe is so small, it was difficult to conclusively establish their health issues were related to the plant. Related: Moapa Paiutes to Install 250 MW Solar Power Plant to Transition Away from Dirty Coal Still, the tribe persisted in their campaign to shutter the plant, which provided power for Las Vegas. They started writing letters, and then took legal action with the help of the Sierra Club. When Las Vegas residents learned their power came from a plant polluting the air for people who lived next door, many of them got involved in the campaign as well. The tribe lost the case in 2013 but that same year Senate Bill 123 became law – requiring certain utilities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and replace some polluting power with renewable sources. The Reid Gardner Generating Station finally closed this year, last month. Its 40 employees didn’t even lose their jobs, since they were given new positions in the same company. And now the tribe is turning to solar . They’ve leased land for the 250-megawatt Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project; First Solar started operations and recently sold the plant to Capital Dynamics . The tribe will receive revenue and 115 of their members obtained construction jobs for the plant, which recently began operating under a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Two tribe members will be permanently employed as field technicians. Moapa Band of Paiutes Tribal Council chairman Darren Daboda said in a statement, “If our small tribe can accomplish this, then others can also. There are endless opportunities in renewable energy, and tribes across the nation have the perfect areas in which to build utility-scale projects.” Via Colorlines Images via Ken Lund on Flickr and ENERGY.GOV on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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