Artist creates a living quilt to commemorate Santa Rosa fires

September 4, 2019 by  
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Memorials and national landmarks are common across the country as a way to respectfully remember events of historical relevance. This often takes the form of a statue or plaque, but following the Santa Rosa fires in October 2017, one artist took her own approach to honor the community following the devastation in the form of a living quilt . With a grant initiated and awarded by the city of Santa Rosa Public Art Program, artist Jane Ingram Allen completed the public art project, which took form in colorful plants grown in the design of a handmade quilt. The outline for the quilt consisted not of your typical fabric squares, but handmade paper. The pattern was then enhanced with seeds embedded into the pulp to match the quilt design. Related: New York Botanical Garden’s new artist residencies connect people with plants The “Living Quilt for Santa Rosa” incorporates the traditional “Wild Geese” pattern. A variety of colors are integrated into the living quilt, and each color uses a different source material and subsequently matches to a wildflower of the same color. Blue is comprised of a pulp made from recycled denim; matching flowers include the California Bluebell and other mixed blue wildflowers. Abaca, a type of fiber from banana leaves, is colored with a non-toxic fiber reactive dye and used for the yellow and orange shades. White also stems from the uncolored abaca and marries well with Baby’s Breath and white poppies. All of the materials, from wildflowers to the dyes, are eco-friendly and biodegradable while offering the hope of continued life for many seasons to come. Although Allen is credited for the work, the project was completed with the help of community members who laid out the paper, planted the seeds and built the “headboard” and “footboard” from locally harvested branches. During the time of construction, air pollution and burnt trees still plagued the area. The original work was dedicated at Rincon Ridge Park in Santa Rosa, California in the fall of 2018, but what began as a temporary art installation just might bloom into a long-term testament to the resolution of both the land and the citizens. The idea to commemorate the destruction from the fires with life in flowers represents the regrowth, perseverance and tenacity of the Santa Rosa community as they recover. + Jane Ingram Allen Photography by Timothy S. Allen via Jane Ingram Allen

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This self-sustaining planter doesn’t require sunlight for plants to thrive

August 27, 2019 by  
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Every gardener and plant enthusiast knows that plants grow best with access to sunlight, either direct or indirect. But one German company has expanded the options for people and places that don’t have access to plenty of light with the Mygdal Plantlight. Nui Studio designed the vessel to provide all the moisture and light a plant needs — it can successfully grow plants in a sunless urban basement or even in the long dark days of northern winter. With temperature control and easy setting adjustments, the Mygdal Plantlight is an option for every home or office. The combination of design and technology means plants receive optimal water and light for the perfect growing conditions. The glass-enclosed hanging pendant is hermetically sealed, creating a circular ecosystem so plants do not require watering. The cycle of condensation and evaporation provides enough moisture for the plants to thrive. Related: Rotating indoor garden grows up to 100 herbs and vegetables every month LED lights provide both light and adequate warmth to feed the environment and the plants. Schedule when and how long you want your plant to receive light. Plus, the Mygdal Plantlight serves as an attractive, additional source of light for any room. Adjustments for length of sunlight, intensity and even the color is controlled by a smartphone or tablet without the need to open the vessel. If you do need to access the plants, the pendant’s aluminum disc bottom is easy to remove. The Mygdal Plantlight offers versatility with a variety of plants ranging from lush to jungle to zen styles. The unit comes in two sizes for visual and spacial variety, and plants can easily be replaced when you’re ready for a change. The studio said, “The combination of plants and light inside Mygdal’s mouth-blown, hand-finished glass shade creates a soothing atmosphere. Its name is a tribute to glassmaker Peter Kuchinke from Mygdal in northern Denmark and means, loosely translated, ‘fertile soil.’” Nui Studio maintains a philosophy that a marriage between traditional craft and modern technology combined with regional manufacturing produces timeless and multifunctional furniture for everyone to enjoy. + Nui Studio Via Yanko Design Images via Nui Studio

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This self-sustaining planter doesn’t require sunlight for plants to thrive

Casa I combines traditional courtyard typology with modern construction in Chile

August 27, 2019 by  
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Santiago-based architects Alfredo Thiermann and Sebastián Cruz of architecture office Thiermann Cruz Arquitectos have completed a home that celebrates Chile’s once-popular courtyard housing typology — a residential style that has faded away in popularity since the second half of the 19th century. Rooted in a tradition of embracing outdoor space, the residence — simply dubbed Casa I — is also decidedly modern in design and construction and makes use of prefabricated elements such as cross-laminated timber and precast concrete panels. Spanning an area of 300 square meters, Casa I is located in a former suburb of Santiago on a lot that has been subdivided into three smaller pieces due to the pressures of urban densification. To make the most of its 20-by-40-meter site, the residence was conceived as a long and rectangular volume that, unlike its more conventionally designed neighbors, is flanked by usable outdoor space on all sides.  Related: A 1970 home gets a modern, light-filled revamp in Santiago Sliding and pivoting glazed doors blur the line between the indoors and outdoors and create a seamless connection to the courtyards to make the home feel much larger than its footprint suggests. The open-plan living room, dining area and kitchen also features sliding doors for a flexible layout. In contrast to its exposed concrete base and prefabricated black concrete paneling, the interior of the light-filled home feels warm and inviting thanks to the use of timber throughout. “Each interior space is connected, at least, with two exteriors, which are treated simultaneously as interiors though their large built furniture and materiality,” the architects explained. “Negotiating the irregular shape of the plot with the regular geometry of the house, its limit is set back a few meters behind the property line, and a walled courtyard elbows out from the continuous line defining the sidewalk. Overcoming the regulations promoting a garden city, the facade becomes a walled courtyard, bringing life to the edge of the otherwise lifeless suburban street.” + Thiermann Cruz Arquitectos Photography by Erieta Attali and William Rojas via Thiermann Cruz Arquitectos

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Casa I combines traditional courtyard typology with modern construction in Chile

BloomingTables offers a "living table" that’s furniture and a terrarium all in one

August 8, 2019 by  
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Scientists, doctors, naturalists and pretty much everyone else agrees that plants in your home and office are a good thing. Not only do they add visual appeal, but they make a space feel cozy and natural. Not to mention, there’s that thing about cleaning up the air. Thanks, plants. But, it’s often difficult to find enough space to display plants in an appealing way so the designers of BloomingTables decided to do something about it with a double-duty table and plant stand that is the very essence of green design . BloomingTables offer a sleek, modern design that fits into any home, office or home office space. Sized at 30” x 33” x 10.5”, the table fits under a window sill, behind the couch, in a hallway or next to your desk. The contemporary white steel legs cradle the white planting tub. Inside is a waterproof liner that protects the planter and the floor below. Related: 9 ways to add more houseplants to your home BloomingTables may be compact, but they are multi-functional. Simply line the tub with gravel and activated charcoal to absorb water and keep it from overflowing. Then add your soil and choice of air-filtering plants . Pillars with suction cups on the top hold an easy-to-remove 6mm tempered-glass shelf that serves as a tabletop. The see-through design allows you to enjoy your plants while offering kid and pet protection. When it’s time to water your plants , remove the glass from the UV-resistant suction cups, water and replace the glass when you’re done. Most plants need light so the BloomingTables were designed to be placed near a window, but if that’s not your ideal location you can place a lamp with an incandescent bulb on or near the tabletop to replace some of the natural light . BloomingTables are easy to set up and use. You can make your own plant selections so each one looks different. The design is ideal for plant lovers that just don’t have the window sill or counter space for the plants they love. It brings color and live decor to even the smallest urban apartment without large pots of soil. The Kickstarter campaign reached its goal very quickly, however it doesn’t end until August 22. There are currently still early bird discounts available. + BloomingTables Images via BloomingTables

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BloomingTables offers a "living table" that’s furniture and a terrarium all in one

Aquascaping for Beginners: 11 Beautiful Aquatic Plants

July 31, 2019 by  
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It’s a well-known fact that immersing yourself in nature can … The post Aquascaping for Beginners: 11 Beautiful Aquatic Plants appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Cigarette butts, the No. 1 most-littered item, are impacting plant growth

July 22, 2019 by  
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In the frenzy to ban plastic utensils, foam containers, straws and single-use bags, the world’s No. 1 most-littered item has been mostly ignored: cigarette butts. Perhaps because they are small in size, two out of every three cigarettes are simply flung to the ground rather than properly disposed of. This adds up to 4.5 trillion cigarette butts every year piling up in parks, cities and oceans. New research suggests that the butts are not just unsightly; they are also negatively impacting plants. A study published in Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety compared plants grown in soil containing cigarette butts with a group of control plants and found a significant difference. The plants grown in dirt with cigarettes had shoots that were up to 25 percent shorter with root biomass that was up to 60 percent smaller. Similar studies from as early as 1913 found similarly negative effects of cigarette smoke on plants , but few focus on the impact of butts within the soil. Related: California’s “Butt Lady” picks up 1M littered cigarette butts in 3.5 years Cigarettes are actually biodegradable but can take years to decompose. In the meantime, the discarded butts are filled with chemicals that, at this point, everyone knows are toxic and carcinogenic. Since the 1980s, urban and coastal clean-up events have reported that between 30 to 40 percent of the litter collected is typically cigarette butts. It is clearly a major issue in terms of pollution and waste, so why aren’t people outraged by it? Some environmental advocates argue that filters should be banned completely, since they have negligible health benefits to the smoker. Others argue that a deposit-and-return system could be established, where smokers must return their used butts in order to reclaim a deposit. This scheme seems fairly unlikely, but so did bans on plastic bags or diapers — yet municipalities and countries have successfully put them into effect. + Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety Via Phys.org Image via Pixabay

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Cigarette butts, the No. 1 most-littered item, are impacting plant growth

Study reveals mass plant extinction rate since Industrial Revolution

June 12, 2019 by  
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New research suggests that even by conservative efforts, the number of plants that have gone extinct in the last three centuries is 500 times higher than before the industrial revolution, and the rate of extinction is skyrocketing. According to the survey, at least 571 plants have become extinct since 1750, which should be a “frightening” concern to anyone who eats or breathes. “Plants underpin all life on Earth. They provide the oxygen we breathe and the food we eat, as well as making up the backbone of the world’s ecosystems ,” said study author Eimear Nic Lughadha from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew . The scientists also believe that their confirmed list of 571 plants is only the tip of the iceberg. In most cases, it can take years to declare a species officially extinct because of the landscapes that have to be scoured for any last survivors. “How are you going to check the entirety of the Amazon for your lost plant?” Maria Vorontsova, also from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, told The Guardian . Furthermore, there are thousands of species that are functionally extinct, meaning there are so few remaining plants that the chances of reproduction and survival are nearly — if not entirely — impossible. Despite their conservative tally, the researchers’ estimate is still four times higher than what is officially recorded on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List . “It is way more than we knew and way more than should have gone extinct,” said Vorontsova. “It is frightening not just because of the 571 number, but because I think that is a gross underestimate.” According to the United Nations, another 1 million species are currently at risk of extinction. Many scientists believe that extinction and biodiversity should be in the news and keeping us up at night just as much as climate change , but that it is often a less acknowledged, and less funded, crisis. Financing and support for plants is especially challenging within the conservation field, because they just aren’t as cute as their endangered animal counterparts. Scientists often collect and save DNA samples from extinct plants in labs at places such as the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in hopes that innovative discoveries could help save other plants or one day bring back old ones. Via The Guardian Image via Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

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An eco-friendly gift guide for Fathers Day

June 12, 2019 by  
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This Father’s Day, give your dad a gift he will not only love, but one that also won’t hurt the planet nor gather dust on his shelf: quality time together! Here are a few ideas of ways to get outside and celebrate with the father figure in your life as well as some eco-friendly gadgets he will enjoy when you aren’t together. Visit a national park together June is one of the best times to visit one of the country’s national parks . Whether your dad is a serious hiker or more of a couch potato, he will love getting some fresh air and seeing a beautiful new landscape together. Most parks have options for easy day trips, walking tours and more intense hikes. Some have visitors centers, museums and cafes, and many have short paved trails that are accessible for a wider variety of ability levels . Related: How National Parks benefit the environment Here are a few popular parks for Father’s Day: Acadia National Park, Maine This park has miles of rugged coastline that can be too cold for most people during the rest of the year but are beautiful during the summer. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming Located near Yellowstone National Park, this park has gorgeous mountain vistas and overlook sites. It is popular in the summertime for mountaineering, climbing, hiking and walking. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia Only a few hours from Washington D.C., this park is gorgeous even from a car. There are a number of hikes and waterfall spots for different ability levels, plus you and your dad can brag about hiking part of the Appalachian Trail together. For more ideas, check out the National Parks Service’s Father’s Day Guide . Pick your own strawberries June is peak strawberry season in much of the U.S., and it’s a fun group activity with sweet treats along the way. Bring the loot home and make fresh strawberry shortcake for a Father’s Day dessert! Here is a guide to where you can go strawberry picking in different states. Make sure to call ahead to confirm that the farm is open, has strawberries left and is still offering a pick-your-own program this year. Give the gift of knowledge This year, take your father to a movie about the environment or nature, like The Biggest Little Farm . Not only will it allow you to spend quality time together, but you will learn something new about our planet. If your dad is interested, check out local events or talks about climate change and participate in local activism together! Sign up for a road race If you and your dad have a goal to be more active, exercise is a great way to spend quality time together while staying healthy . Research races in your area and pick one that works with your schedule and abilities. The entrance fee typically goes to help charities or medical research. Stick with a 5K or less if you’re a beginner — that is about 3.2 miles. If you’re more advanced, you can look for a 10K or higher. Related: 8 tips to make your exercise routine more eco-friendly Buy a bike tune-up Does your dad like to bike? Maybe he bikes to work, just on the weekends or very little at all, but we’ll bet his bike could use a tune-up to make sure it’s in the best and safest shape possible. Rent canoes or kayaks Now that the weather is nice, spend some time together as a family and rent canoes, kayaks or paddle boats. Many lakes and rivers have rental companies where you can pay by the hour or by the day. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, you could look at places where you can fish, too. Snag tickets to a sports game or concert Spend your money on an experience instead of an item. Do some research to find out if your dad’s favorite sports team or band is in town, and buy tickets to go with him. Plan a customized rainwater harvesting system If your dad loves to garden, get him a customized rainwater harvesting system. Many companies will take the time to learn about your dad’s space and needs and send an easy, customized kit to set it up. You can also try the DIY route . Get environmental gadgets for Dad Before buying more stuff for your dad, ask him what he wants. A good way to cut down on waste is by buying only something that he would really use. Otherwise, here are some good ideas: App-controlled light bulbs Does anyone else have a dad who is constantly reminding you to turn off the lights when you leave a room? Get your tech-savvy dad this app-controlled light bulb that lasts up to 27 years and uses just 10 percent of the energy needed for a conventional bulb. He can set timers for his schedule and say goodbye to the days of following the kids around and turning off lights after them. Swim shorts that save the sea These swimming shorts are made from 100 percent recycled plastic and are SPF 45+. Each design tells a story about ocean pollution , and they are available in matching Father + Son sizes. Grill tools made from recycled hockey sticks Is your dad a grill master and a sports fan? This California-based company recycles used hockey sticks to make unique grill utensils. According to the website: “We all know somebody (perhaps ourself) whose burgers always come off the grill looking like hockey pucks. They just don’t have the right tools.” Stainless steel coffee mug If your dad is like mine, he drinks a lot of coffee . Get him a sophisticated stainless steel coffee mug that he can take with him on the go or bring to coffee shops. Most shops offer a small discount for bringing your own mug, and some cities like Berkeley, California are piloting a program to start charging customers for using disposable coffee cups, just like plastic bags. Related: The problem with coffee pods and the eco-friendly alternatives to use instead Sustainable socks Put a twist on the typical gift for dad and buy him something from a sustainable brand. Check out the sock choices at Organic Basics . Organic wine Research the vineyards near you or your dad and find out which ones use organic, sustainable or biodynamic methods on their vineyard. After confirming its environmental impact, gift Dad with an eco-friendly bottle of wine. Via Earth 911 Images via Shutterstock

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An eco-friendly gift guide for Fathers Day

Mysterious Black Villa is to be tucked in the lush forests just outside of Moscow

June 12, 2019 by  
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There are few things we love more than dark cabins embedded into lush evergreen forests, and this tiny structure is no exception. The Black Villa in the Forest, designed by Russian architectural firm Archslon, has a certain air of mystery to it that is enhanced by its off-grid location just outside of bustling Moscow. The tiny cabin is a low-lying rectangular volume comprised of two blocks with an inner courtyard separating the two spaces. The entrance is through a small open area, which runs from the front of the house to the back. Related: Black charred-timber home embraces forest views in Zürich The front of the cabin is an elongated, open-air deck, or what the architects call a “bypass gallery,” that runs the length of one of the main blocks. The space is lined with a series of thin columns, giving a touch of modernity to the structure. The compact square footage and height was a strategic decision made to conserve as many existing trees as possible during construction. Clad in jet-black timber, the home was also designed to blend into its natural surroundings. The main living area is illumined by natural light thanks to a full wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. Along with providing panoramic views of the picturesque scenery, the glazed wall creates a strong, continual connection to the home’s forestscape surroundings. The two blocks separate the home into two living spaces: public and private. On one side of the cabin is the living room and open kitchen. On the other end is the master bedroom that is connected with another small room that can be used as a small office or library. Like the living space, the master bedroom has fully glazed walls, further integrating the surrounding nature into the cabin’s interior. + Archslon Via Archdaily Images via Archslon

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Mysterious Black Villa is to be tucked in the lush forests just outside of Moscow

It might be time to let your garden grow wild

April 12, 2019 by  
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Think of a formal yard or garden, and you likely envision rows of neatly trimmed bushes along meandering walkways and sitting areas. Homeowners spend a ton of money, time and resources in an attempt to recreate that image. But another equally beautiful option for your home is a wild garden . What is a wild garden? A wild garden can carry a variety of definitions. For some, it means limiting the amount you tame your plants , letting them become what others might define as overgrown and unsightly. Others might associate wild with the types of plants you choose for your space. If you think about your walks in the fields or forests where Mother Nature is the only landscaper, plants are “overgrown and unsightly” around every corner. So, it might be time to change your definition of what makes a desirable garden space. The idea of a wild garden is to create a more naturally flowing space with less rigid lines and rules. Related: This Garden Planner makes urban gardening easy Reasons to set it free There are many benefits to allowing your garden to go wild. Consider the nature of the plant and remember that pruning is something we do in our backyard, but it is not the norm in a plant’s natural habitat. We feel we need to confine plants, because that’s what the magazines show. Allowing your plants to become shaggy around the edges means a whole lot less maintenance for you, which is a huge advantage if you prefer not to spend every waking moment tending to your garden. Another benefit of a wild garden is that it becomes a more natural garden. We spend time in nature because we connect with the sights, smells and surroundings that nature provides. Somehow, we lose those same feelings when we bring plants into our yard and then contour them into something they’re not. Instead, allow your plants to take a more natural growth pattern and retain the essence of nature in your yard. The benefit of native plants Plants that are native to your area are going to grow the best. Careful selection of your plants in the beginning will allow for a worry-free space as your garden grows. Talk to the local nursery owner. Stop by the garden center. Read books and scour the internet. After you hunt down the plants indigenous to your area, create a plan on paper or using a graphic design program on the computer. Be sure to allow for the maximum growth of the plants, so you don’t have to continually trim them back. In addition to low-effort growing success, native plants also do not require chemicals to fight off insects and disease. Plus, they often don’t need fertilizer, because they are naturally suited for the native soil. You can even source your native plants directly from nature by selecting seeds or small plants. Check with your local authorities before harvesting from forests or other areas. If nothing else, observe the plants in your area and purchase the same type of ferns, sunflowers or wildflowers that you see growing naturally. Natural elements in the design Another way to bring the wilderness into your yard is through natural elements . Think of an eroding cliffside with protruding rocks and plants that have rooted themselves in the unstable soil. Bring that idea into your yard with stone walkways or tiered river rock stairways surrounded by plants. Mix pristine with savage, manicured with wild The goal of creating a wild yard doesn’t mean you have to have a completely untamed space of rambling branches and invasive blackberries. Instead, segment your yard into areas that provide for the naturally wild look combined with more traditional or formal spaces for sitting or strolling. Bring in the pristine yard if that’s your thing, and mingle it with some savage plants. Manicure the stone patio, but allow the bushes behind the arbor to go wild. The point is that wild doesn’t have to be neglected. Simply work the look into your design. Related: This Australian property was redesigned with a sustainable, lush garden Advantages of wildflowers Wildflowers are often seen as invasive in the restrictive confines of a yard, and they are. But they are also an amazing way to bring the colors and calming visuals of nature into your space. Grab a seed packet and spread the colorful joy throughout your yard, or mostly confine them to one area with a border. Remember that wildflowers are seasonal, so you’ll also want to incorporate other plants that will fill the space when the wildflowers aren’t in bloom. Rethink the spacing Traditional gardens are tightly focused on spacing. We don’t want the fruit tree to overshadow the plants below it. Those daylilies might get too big and push up to the hyacinth next door. Oh no! Again, envision the way plants grow in nature, and replicate it in your yard. Plants have a way of naturally providing for one another or pushing out unwelcome invaders. If you copy what you see in nature, your plants will thrive in a natural way, meaning that they will overlap, procreate and become entangled one into another. Although this goes against our structured (and separated) image of a neat garden, the wildness of an unregimented garden allows nature to show her best self. Images via Shutterstock

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