The Wzai 2.0 smart plant can give anyone a green thumb

January 18, 2021 by  
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Have you ever found yourself with a struggling houseplant, demanding to know why it won’t thrive? Let the Wázai 2.0, the world’s smartest bonsai , turn you into a master home gardener. Finally, you can have a plant that tells you exactly what it needs and when. This smart bonsai plant comes with its own monitoring app to update you on the plant’s needs. The app monitors and provides real-time information about your plant. This includes monitoring how many hours of sunlight your plant gets, so you know when to make changes to keep your plant healthy and happy. Wázai 2.0 will even alter how frequently the plant gets watered and monitor the soil for optimum moisture levels. As the product’s Kickstarter page explains, “Unlike other automatic watering pots, Wázai doesn’t water on a set schedule but will adjust its watering frequency according to the soil moisture rate, making sure your plant gets what they need.” The bonsai also includes a huge water tank that holds 1.8 liters and gives you notifications when the tank needs refilling. Additionally, a vacation mode allows the app to more carefully regulate the water to keep your plant alive while you’re gone. You can even start using the app before you pot your plant. Wázai will monitor the average sunlight in the area for three days and recommend ways to keep your new plant healthy and happy. Equipped with an enormous plant database, the app can find the specific water and light needs for more than 80 different types of plants. Wázai works both indoors and out, due to waterproof and anti-UV features. All you need to keep it powered is four AA batteries , which can last for up to six months. Though still a burgeoning startup, Wázai 2.0 has already earned accolades in the form of an iF Design Award. To support the project and secure your own Wázai, check out the Kickstarter page here . + Wázai 2.0 Images via Wázai 2.0

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The Wzai 2.0 smart plant can give anyone a green thumb

Seagrass purges 900M plastic bits from the Mediterranean yearly

January 18, 2021 by  
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Recent research has found that underwater seagrass collects up to 900 million plastic items in the Mediterranean Sea each year. Seagrass is vital in collecting and purging plastic waste into what are known as Neptune Balls. These balls of plastic pollution form naturally as the seagrass collects and traps plastics before releasing them in clumps, some of which wash back to shore. The study, which was published in Scientific Reports  was lead by Anna Sanchez-Vidal, a marine biologist at the University of Barcelona. In a statement, Sanchez-Vidal confirmed the findings, saying that they have proved the extent to which seagrass can trap plastic waste . Related: SeagrassSpotter app empowers ocean lovers to become citizen scientists “We show that plastic debris in the seafloor can be trapped in seagrass remains, eventually leaving the marine environment through beaching,” Sanchez-Vidal told AFP. The findings of this study now add yet another benefit of seagrass. Seagrass has long been known to balance its ecosystem. The seagrass absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen into the water, improving the water quality in the process. Further, it plays the role of a natural nursery for hundreds of species of fish, and seagrass is the foundation of the coastal food web. The research team has only studied the building up of plastic within seagrass in the Mediterranean Sea. In 2018 and 2019, the scientists managed to count the number of plastic bits found in Neptune balls that had been washed to the shore in Mallorca, Spain. They found plastic debris in half of the loose grass leaf samples collected, with a kilogram of the grass found to contain approximately 600 pieces of plastic. As for the denser balls of seagrass, only 17% of the samples collected were found to contain plastic. However, the balls had plastic at a higher density, with nearly 1,500 plastic bits per kilogram of Neptune ball. Using the findings, the researchers were able to estimate the amount of plastic collected by seagrass in the Mediterranean. The good news is that the grass can help collect plastic waste. But researchers aren’t sure where all of the waste goes. The only waste that has been traced includes the Neptune balls and loose grasses that remain stuck on the beach. “We don’t know where they travel,” Sanchez-Vidal said. “We only know that some of them are beached during storms.” + Scientific Reports Via The Guardian Image via Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble

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Seagrass purges 900M plastic bits from the Mediterranean yearly

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

Engineering student turns food waste into renewable energy

November 23, 2020 by  
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What if those old carrots you never got around to eating could be a  renewable energy  source, rather than something messy you had to clean out of your refrigerator bin? That’s the basic idea — though on a much smaller scale — behind Carvey Maigue’s new AuREUS system. Maigue, a 27-year-old engineering student at Mapúa University in the Philippines, just won the James Dyson Award sustainability prize for his invention. “AuREUS is actually a material, or a technology, that allows other devices to harvest ultraviolet light and convert it into  electricity ,” Maigue explained in an interview on the James Dyson Award website. The green material looks like plastic and can be shaped into different forms. Related: Bioplastic made from fish scales wins international James Dyson Award “Organic luminescent compounds are derived from fruit and  vegetables ,” Maigue said in a video about his project. “These compounds turn high energy ultraviolet rays into visible light. I use solar panels and solar films to convert this light into electricity.” AuREUS can be integrated into many different parts of everyday life, such as clothes, cars and houses. One striking use could be attaching the material to skyscrapers. “We can use AuREUS instead of typical glass windows, so that whole buildings can become vertical solar energy farms.” The James Dyson Award is a prestigious international design award open to current and recent design engineering students. This year, the James Dyson Foundation received a record-breaking 1,800 entries. This year’s top winner was Judit Giró Benet for Blue Box, a home test for breast cancer. Benet is from Spain and studies at the University of California, Irvine. Maigue and Benet will each receive $40,000 in prize money. “It will be great to be able to buy some equipment that can be used to further the manufacturing process,” Maigue said. “Added to that, the money will mean I can finish my time at university!” + James Dyson Award Via  The Guardian Image via Mac321

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Engineering student turns food waste into renewable energy

How To Make an Upcycled Jar Terrarium

November 10, 2020 by  
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Terrariums add variety, depth, and beauty to your plant collection. … The post How To Make an Upcycled Jar Terrarium appeared first on Earth 911.

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How To Make an Upcycled Jar Terrarium

What Are Nurdles and Why Should You Care?

November 10, 2020 by  
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Nurdles, also known as “pre-production pellets,” are small pellets of … The post What Are Nurdles and Why Should You Care? appeared first on Earth 911.

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What Are Nurdles and Why Should You Care?

Better Breathing: 6 of the Best Plants for Indoor Air Quality

October 12, 2020 by  
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The average American spends 90% of their time indoors. Unfortunately, … The post Better Breathing: 6 of the Best Plants for Indoor Air Quality appeared first on Earth 911.

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Better Breathing: 6 of the Best Plants for Indoor Air Quality

Make the most of your late summer garden with these tips

August 31, 2020 by  
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Just because summer is winding down doesn’t mean your gardening has to. In fact, late summer is when the natural world begins preparing for winter and even the seemingly far-off spring. When scheduling for your late summer gardening, plan ahead for the animals , nutrients in the dirt, the changing landscape and colors for subsequent seasons. Create shelter for animals Deadheading and pruning is a common activity in late summer before the cold winter days roll in. If you have the room, consider using those branches to create a protective habitat for animals in your area. After all, they are looking for a warm place to call home, too.  Related: Summer gardening tips for a great harvest Also think about pollinators during your plant selection process. Find native plants with a natural appeal to draw in bees, butterflies and birds, who will spread the seeds, enjoy the nectar and pollinate nearby food and other plants.  There are some pests you don’t want to invite to the party, so use natural repellents to treat the mosquitos, aphids, slugs, beetles, spider mites, scale, whiteflies, grasshoppers and other busy pests that tend to chew through your plants. Care for your soil The drying leaves and dying buds of late summer may make it look like the activity of the season has died down, but in reality, the root systems are coming to life in preparation for the seasons to come. Apply fertilizer to your lawn and plants so they don’t have to work so hard to acquire the nutrients they need. Also continue to provide water as needed. Go ahead and use the rest of the collected rain barrel water before the rain starts again. By the way, if you haven’t set up your water collection system , now is the perfect time to do so. Be conscious of other water waste that could be used in the garden. For example, after boiling pasta, blanching vegetables and canning, allow the water to cool and pour it on plants outdoors. You can also collect water in the shower or reuse bathwater. Late summer is a great time to add mulch to your plants. Not only does it help retain the moisture in the soil, but it also adds vital nutrients. Send branches through a chipper or rely on grass clippings or hay. Just be sure the mulch is weed-free or you could be planting a problem to deal with next year. Plant now and order ahead According to Monrovia , a leading nursery company, certain plants work best for late summer plantings. The company suggests the Strawberry Shake Hydrangea for creamy white to pink blooms in zones 4-8. Evolution Sedum comes in three varieties with hearty stems that maintain their stature throughout the season. Also consider the assortment of color options found in the Grace N’ Grit Roses for a long-lasting wave of color throughout the seasons. Another recommendation is the FloralBerry Sangria Hypericum, which provides fall blooms and berries. Late summer is a great time to plan for the fall , so think ahead to what you will need to plant in the coming season as well. Spring bulbs will need to go in the ground soon, so get your orders in for tulips, crocus and daffodils. Plus, go ahead and plant spring blooming trees, shrubs and perennials. Monrovia suggests Crimson Kisses Weigela for a colorful and compact plant that will bloom throughout the spring and fall. Harlequin Penstemon is a good choice for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds, and Little Joker Physocarpus is drought-tolerant and disease-resistant. Enjoy the season September brings cooler evenings and mornings to most time zones while maintaining many comfortable, workable hours in the day. In contrast to blistering heat in the height of summer or the frigid cold that may be coming, late summer is an enjoyable time to dig, plant, weed and haul. Divide the load As the daylilies and hostas lose blooms and begin to hunker down for the next season, grab your shovel and begin dividing them into additional plants. A hearty hosta may have 70 or more “eyes”. Leaving them in groups of at least 12 can provide at least five new plants to share or plant elsewhere. Plus it gives the original plant more vigor to grow. This is true with many dividable plants, so get your pots and shovel ready.  Plant cool-weather crops While the flurry of gardening is typically associated with spring, many foods thrive in the late summer season, providing fresh produce as autumn arrives. Plant the same cool-weather crops with short seasons you planted in the spring: spinach , lettuce and other greens, beets, carrots, peas and beans. Feed the compost bin While you’re cleaning out the wilting summer plants from the vegetable garden, add those valuable nutrients to the compost bin. Toss in the end-of-the-season grass clippings and some of the smaller twigs and branches from deadheading and pruning existing plants. All of these ingredients will break down over winter, preparing a compost of food for spring plantings. Avoid adding any leaves infected with black spot, mildew or other diseases that can contaminate the compost . + Monrovia Images via Pete Nuij , Goumbik , Genevieve Belcher , Rudy and Peter Skitterians , Pasja1000 , Devanath , Herb007 and Albrecht Fietz

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Make the most of your late summer garden with these tips

Celebrate National Pollinator Week from June 22-28

June 23, 2020 by  
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Thirteen years ago, Pollinator Partnership initiated the annual designation of a week in June to help address the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Backed by unanimous approval from the U.S. Senate, Pollinator Week has grown into an international celebration of the fragile ecosystem of bees , birds, butterflies, bats and beetles that help contribute to about 75% of all flowering plant species that require animal pollinators for reproduction. So, what are some of the best ways to help out our planet’s little pollinators? If you have access to a backyard, a window box, a garden or some kind of green space, plant some flowers that are pollinator-friendly. The types of plants that attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators vary by region, so use an Ecoregional Planting Guide to learn which ones will make the pollinators in your area the happiest. Knowing your soil type, planting flowers in clusters for pollinators to target and planting for continuous bloom will help. Related: The best plants for attracting pollinators to your yard Try to reduce or eliminate your use of pesticides whenever possible. Pollinator Partnership offers a digitized training module for farmers and certified pesticide applicators to help increase awareness and skill in minimizing the effects of pesticide applications. Register as part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge to connect with other gardeners and pollinator-enthusiasts for free, and upload photos or videos of your pollinator site, view profiles of pollinator-friendly plants, measure pollinator progress and highlight areas in need of pollinator action. If you don’t have a green thumb, support your local bees and beekeepers by buying local honey (buying locally sourced products keeps transportation-based carbon emissions low, as well). Because bees, butterflies and other pollinators are drastically affected by climate change , any effort to conserve resources, use less and reduce your carbon footprint is a huge win for everyone. Check out the Pollinator Partnership’s online toolkit for resources and activity ideas for all ages, from webinars on monarch butterfly habitat restoration and pollinator-themed crossword puzzles to school gardening kits and instructions for building a bee box. Each year, local establishments and buildings light up yellow and orange in support of pollinators during Pollinator Week. Participating destinations have included the Empire State Building in New York City, CN Tower in Toronto, City Hall in San Francisco and Niagara Falls in the past. Add lightings, activities and “My Pollinators, My Story” registered gardens to the website’s map . You can also check for local public events in your own neighborhood to participate in and view governor proclamations from all 50 states. + Pollinator Partnership Images via Cole Keister , Mpho Hlakudi and John Duncan

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Celebrate National Pollinator Week from June 22-28

This electric camper is a houseboat and tricycle in one

June 9, 2020 by  
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The tiny-but-mighty Z-Triton camper by Zeltini is ready to take on land and water. Despite its small stature, this amphibious camper is designed to sleep up to two people, allowing for both short-term getaways and longer adventures. Tricycle wheels fold up and inflatable pontoons are added to switch the trike into boat mode. Though steering and power cables attached to the engine rod make the Z-Triton perfect for travel across lakes and rivers (with a range up to 10 km), it isn’t equipped to handle open ocean. To transform the camper into a living space, the seats can be removed and stored to become a bedroom, complete with pillows, sleeping mats and sleeping bags. An extractor fan inside one of the chimneys makes it easy to do some basic cooking. Inside, there are six shelving units for storage and a folding table for food prep and dining. Related: “Temple of Poop” grows a flowering rooftop with human waste While in tricycle mode, the Z-Triton is operated both manually by leg power and via a chargeable battery with a range of 40 km, depending on the terrain. While the designers included a wide range of amenities that combine practicality and functionality including disc brakes, front and back lights, a horn and USB charging ports, they also prioritized creature comforts for camping. There is a padded seat, an aerodynamic umbrella, two water bottle cages, a fold-up passenger seat with a safety belt, a coffee cup holder and a pet seat that can also be replaced with a child seat. Natural elements, such as a removable plant pot inside one of the chimneys, allow passengers to decorate with a plant or bring along potted herbs to use for cooking while camping. The trike element has a steel frame, and the body of the houseboat is made from a blend of plywood and fiberglass; the studio intends to use hemp fiberglass once the project is past the prototype stage. It also has six solar panels , and parts of the house were 3D-printed with bioplastic material. Zeltini is still testing prototypes of the camper in different environments and weather and will be releasing more information about price and availability in summer 2021. + Zeltini Photography by Gatis Priednieks-Melnacis and Aigars Lauzis via Zeltini

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This electric camper is a houseboat and tricycle in one

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