Jason Momoa shaves beard to shine a spotlight on plastic pollution

April 19, 2019 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

When you have 11 million Instagram followers, your simplest move can elicit thousands of comments. When you’re ready for a major transformation, such as shaving off the beard you’ve been growing since 2012, you can pair the shearing with a save-the-world message. So we understand a viral video of Jason Momoa, beloved Game of Thrones star, shaving off his beastly beard while talking about plastic pollution . The 39-year-old actor’s call for action is part of a growing wave of awareness of the 19 billion pounds of plastic waste  winding up in the world’s oceans every year. “I just want to use this to bring awareness that plastics are killing our planet,” he said before continuing with a solution . “There’s only one thing that can really help our planet and save our planet as long as we recycle. That’s aluminum .” Then, he took a long, refreshing sip from a can of water. Somebody send the man a refillable bottle, please! The canned water is still shrouded in mystery. It seems to be a promotion involving the Ball Corporation, but exactly what the product is and whether Game of Thrones fans and other thirsty people can buy it has not yet been revealed. Related: Plastic pollution is causing reproductive problems for ocean wildlife Fan feedback so far centers on discussion of Momoa’s hotness with or without a beard. Some fans also seem to be contemplating the plastic issue. In Grist’s popular advice column, Ask Umbra , they’ve addressed this problem many times. Aluminum, Umbra has reported, is a mixed bag. Manufacturing the cans requires bauxite mining (not good), but it can be recycled endlessly and is valuable to recyclers (great). If the aluminum has a high recycled content, it’s generally a good choice. However, it is not the best. Umbra said, “None of the single-use beverage containers out there, with their raw material consumption and shipping impacts and less-than-optimal recycling rates, can hold a candle to a sturdy bottle you can rinse out and use ad infinitum.” Via Huffington Post , Grist Image via Gage Skidmore

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Jason Momoa shaves beard to shine a spotlight on plastic pollution

RBURN upcycles North Face tents into one-of-a-kind bags

April 19, 2019 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

The North Face and British designer Christopher Raeburn of RÆBURN  have recently collaborated to launch a new line of accessories handcrafted from recycled tents. Introduced late last month, the unique collection consists of three distinct items—a tote bag, drawstring bag, and Rae Bag—that all feature RÆBURN’s iconic “REMADE, REDUCED, RECYCLED, RÆBURN” tagline. The partnership marks the iconic outdoors brand’s first sustainable collaboration and is part of both brands’ commitment to reducing waste without compromising quality. British designer Christopher Raeburn built his reputation on developing stylish streetwear with an environmental focus . From fashioning garments out of parachutes to breathing new life into unwanted military surplus items, Raeburn works his craft with unusual materials that raise awareness about the staggering amounts of global textile waste and creative upcycling. The RÆBURN brand has since collaborated with many leading brands to produce environmentally conscious apparel, including Disney and Timberland. “The North Face has been inspiring a global movement of exploration and conservation for over fifty years, and we couldn’t be prouder to be collaborating on this special project, applying our RÆMADE ethos to transform surplus tents into unique bags,” says Christopher Raeburn. “At RÆBURN we’re motivated to work with brands, other designers and individuals to drive positive change in our industry and it’s been fantastic to work alongside the talented team at The North Face to bring this project to fruition.” Related: H&M releases sustainable fashion line made from fruit and algae In The North Face collaboration, RÆBURN designers recycled different parts of the bright yellow, polyester-and-nylon tents so that every bag would be unique and vary in color and tent parts. Each bag also features the British brand’s iconic 4R’s tape used as straps and an internal pocket for additional storage. All items are extremely lightweight and packable. The limited edition collaboration launched March 26 and is currently out of stock online. + The North Face x RÆBURN Images via RÆBURN

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RBURN upcycles North Face tents into one-of-a-kind bags

A guide to the different types of plastic

April 18, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

BPA, PET, HDPE. You’re trying to do the right thing by recycling, following health alerts and shopping wisely, but you’re not fluent in molecular chemistry. So how do you decipher exactly what it all means and how to stay green? We’re here to help with a handy guide on different types of plastic and how they impact the planet and your health. Fast facts about our plastic problem According to Earth Day , here are some stats that give you an idea of the scale of our plastic addiction. • Since its invention in the 1950s, over 9 billion tons of plastic have been produced. • Ninety-one percent of all plastics are not recycled, meaning almost all plastic ever produced is piled up in our landfills and oceans . • Americans use 100 billion plastic bags every year. If you tie all these bags together, they reach around the Earth 773 times. • By 2050, there will be more pounds of plastic in the ocean than fish. • There are more microplastics in the ocean than stars in the Milk Way. What are microplastics? Keep reading! Types of plastic: what the terms mean, where you find them and how they impact health Courtesy of National Geographic and  Waste4Change , below are terms commonly used by manufacturers and health advisers. Additives Additives are chemicals added to plastic to enhance certain qualities. For example, they might make the material stronger, more flexible, fire-resistant or UV inhibitive. Depending on what is added to the plastic, these substances can be toxic to your health. Biodegradable This term means that a material can break down into natural substances through decomposition within a reasonable amount of time. Plastic does not biodegrade , so the term is misleading and still means that the substance may leave toxic residue behind. In fact, some states are now banning this term in relation to plastic. Bioplastic Bioplastic is a broad term for all types of plastic, including both petroleum and biological-based products. It does not mean that a plastic is non-toxic, made from safe or natural sources or non-fossil-fuel-based. This term can be misleading, because many consumers assume “bio” means natural and therefore healthy. Related: Shellworks upcycled leftover lobster shells into biodegradable bioplastics Bisphenol-A (BPA) BPA is a toxic industrial chemical that can be found in plastic containers and in the coating of cans, among other uses. It can leach into foods and liquids. BPA-free products have merely replaced the substance with less-toxic bisphenol-S or bisphenol-F, both of which still pose health concerns. Compostable This term means something can break down or degrade into natural materials within a composting system, typically through decomposition by microorganisms. Some new plastics are labeled as compostable; however, this certification mostly requires industrial composting systems, not your garden compost pile. Compostable plastics do not leave behind toxic residue after they decompose, but they must be separated out for industrial composting and not put in recycle or landfill bins. Some major cities like New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Minneapolis have industrial composting programs, but many do not. Ghost nets/fishing gear Approximately 640,000 tons of fishing gear are abandoned, lost or discarded in the ocean every year. Most of this equipment is made from plastic, including nets, buoys, traps and lines, and all of it endangers marine life . Related: Ghost gear is haunting our oceans High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) HDPE is thick plastic used in bags, containers and bottles. It is safer and more stable that other plastics for food and drinks and can be recycled . Microplastics Microplastics are particles less than 5 millimeters long. There are two types: Primary: resin pellets melted down to make plastic or microbeads used in cosmetics and soaps Secondary : particles that result from larger pieces of plastic (such as fabrics and bottles) breaking down into millions of tiny particles that can enter air and water Ocean garbage patches Specific ocean currents carry litter thousands of miles and cause it to collect in certain areas known as garbage patches . The largest patch in the world spans a million square miles of ocean and is mostly made up of plastics. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET, PETE) Polyethylene terephthalate is a widely used plastic that is clear, strong and lightweight. It does not wrinkle and is typically used in food containers and fabrics. It is the most likely to be recycled, but it is a known carcinogen, meaning it can be absorbed into liquids over time and cause cancer . Polypropylene (PP) PP is stiffer and more heat-resistant than other types of plastic. It is often used for hot food containers, diapers, sanitary pads and car parts. It is safer than PVC and PET but still linked to asthma and hormone issues. Polystyrene (Styrofoam) Typically used in food containers and helmets, this material does not recycle well and can leach styrene that is toxic for the brain and nervous system. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) PVC is considered the most hazardous plastic, because it can leach chemicals like BPA, lead, mercury and cadmium that may cause cancer and disrupt hormones. It is often used in toys, cling wrap, detergent bottles, pipes and medical tubes. It usually has to be recycled into separate and more rare recycling programs. Single-use plastic Single-use plastic is designed to be used only once and then disposed of, such as grocery bags and packaging. Environmentalists encourage reducing your single-use plastic consumption, because after their short lifespan, these plastics pile up and pollute the Earth for centuries. Via National Geographic ,  Earth Day , Waste4Change and The Dodo Images via Shutterstock

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A guide to the different types of plastic

These sneakers are painted with cast-off blood from slaughterhouses

April 18, 2019 by  
Filed under Business, Green, Recycle

When you think of materials suitable for making shoes , blood probably doesn’t come to mind. If you think it’s not possible though, you’d be wrong. To prove it, nat-2  designer Sebastian Thies and Eindhoven-based designer Shahar Livne have teamed up to create sustainable sneakers made from real blood. Your first question is likely, “Where does one source blood from to make shoes?” The answer is both weirdly easy and sustainable, as the blood comes from slaughterhouses. This blood would normally wash right back into sewers and waterways. The project, called the Experimental Line, came about after Livne previously create a bio-material that resembled leather from bones and fat sourced through meat-industry waste piles at slaughterhouses in the Netherlands. He then used the blood as a colorizer and plasticizer. Related: nat-2 creates a completely vegan sneaker made from coffee Bringing in some materials previously developed for other shoes in the nat-2 lineup, Thies contributed cork insoles, which are sustainably harvested without cutting down trees. Real rubber outsoles leave behind a small environmental footprint, too. Even the glue is water-based. As a sixth-generation footwear professional, Thies has contributed to other shoe designs sourcing unique, organic, natural or vegan materials like milk, fish leather, natural felt, recycled leather and many vegan luxury alternative materials such as stone, wood, corn, cork, glass, fungus, coffee, grass, flowers and natural rubber. The sneakers are sold in 100 percent recycled paper packaging and come with a limited-edition poster, which is silkscreen printed with unique, real-blood pigment showing the sneaker silhouette, by Shahar Livne, and signed by both designers. Although the duo set a goal of creating a sneaker focused on sustainability, they also hope to highlight the lack of sustainability in animal-based industries while finding ways to improve those practices. True to the world of art, nat-2 and Livne are challenging the consumer to consider the dichotomy of beauty and repulsion while also bringing attention to the disrespectful treatment of both animals and the environment. While these blood sneakers are both a statement for the environment and against animal cruelty and irresponsible business practices , they are wearable art sure to initiate conversation. + nat-2 Images via nat-2

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These sneakers are painted with cast-off blood from slaughterhouses

These are the best 7 tips to follow for a more eco-friendly backyard

April 17, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Incorporating and eco-friendly lifestyle to your home can be easier than you think, especially when it comes to your backyard. While we do our best to use energy efficient light bulbs, reduce the use of everyday plastics and limit food waste throughout our homes, why not bring our environmental awareness to the place where we have celebrations and weekend barbecues— our backyards. The backyard is the best place to add our eco-friendly touch and transform into a thriving sustainable environment . An eco-friendly backyard is a great way to create a beautiful space for you and your family to enjoy all year long. Follow these seven tips to turn your backyard into a place that respects the environment without breaking your budget. Save Water Conserving water is a great way to make your backyard more eco-friendly. You can install large water tanks in your backyard that hook up to the gutters in your house. The tanks will fill up whenever it rains . If you do not want a large tank consuming space in your yard, consider buying a smaller one that you can empty more frequently. You can use the recycled water for a number of different applications. This includes watering your garden, drinking (after it has been filtered) and other household projects. Not only is this a good move for the environment, but it can also save you on future water bills. Related: Eco-friendly replacements for common bathroom products Incorporate Ground Cover Different types of ground cover, such as moss and clover, are good alternatives to traditional grass lawns . These varieties of ground cover require far less mowing and water through the hot summer months. Moss is great for shady areas of your backyard, as it will keep its color in the summer heat and feels great underfoot. For other areas of the lawn that get more sun, consider adding some clover as a grass replacement. Clover smell sweet, is resistant to drought, and is great for the soil. Clover also requires less mowing and you can even let it bloom to attract bees . Go Native According to Better Homes and Gardens , you should always pick native trees and plants when selecting flora for your backyard. Trees and plants that are native to your area will attract butterflies, birds and wildlife, and are more suited for the local environment. These plants also come equipped to handle diseases and pests that are common in your location. After they take root, native flora is also easy to maintain. These plants typically do not need extra fertilizers or pesticides because they are already accustomed to the soil. They also require less watering and tend to do well with the natural weather patterns. Use Wood Composite Lumber If you are building a new deck or adding on to an existing structure, consider using wood composite instead of traditional lumber. Wood composite is made out of recycled plastic and reclaimed lumber. According to Tata and Howard , the end result is a sturdy product that is more durable than natural wood and easier to maintain. This type of wood will also last longer than the traditional alternative, which makes it friendly to your budget. Using recycled plastic is also great for the environment and helps reduce the amount of trash that ends up in our landfills . Best Mowing Practices When mowing your grass, only cut off a third of the grass length each time. You should also mow more frequently as this will allow your lawn to retain water. After you mow, consider leaving the clippings in the lawn or try mulching them in. The clippings are mostly made of water and have high concentrations of nitrogen. If you simply cannot leave the clippings behind, you can always add them to your compost pile instead of throwing them in the trash . Related: Tips and tricks to make spring cleaning more eco-friendly Avoid Harmful Pesticides It is no secret that pesticides are bad for the environment and people’s health . Several pesticides that were once widely used, such as DDT, have since been outlawed and deemed hazardous. For best practices, it is recommended that you avoid using pesticides in your backyard. Instead, try pesticide alternatives like natural herbicides or wildlife for pest control. If you need to fight mites or other bug infestations, you can use oil-based sprays or soaps that work as natural insecticides. If you are in need of some exercise or want to soak up some sun, you can always go the old fashioned route and pull weeds by hand. You can also introduce certain types of insects into your garden, like praying mantises or lacewings, which are great at eating pests, creating the ultimate eco-friendly backyard. Build A Compost Composting cuts down on garbage production and gives you a high quality fertilizer for your garden. Better yet, starting a compost pile only requires some soil and a warm location. You can build a compost pile out in the open or invest in a bin if you are concerned about aesthetics. Compost bins are affordable and come in a variety of styles to match existing décor. You can put all kinds of things in a compost pile. From veggie scraps and eggshells to newspapers and lawn clippings, anything that rapidly decomposes is ideal for composting. These types of items will attract the right kind of bugs, which then will turn the waste into fertilizer. A compost pile typically takes around six to nine months to produce fertilizer. Images via Shutterstock

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These are the best 7 tips to follow for a more eco-friendly backyard

CRA grows a sustainable pavilion out of mushrooms in just 6 weeks

April 17, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Could the houses of the future be grown from mushrooms? Italian architectural firm Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA) broaches this question with The Circular Garden, a sustainable pavilion made of mushrooms that — true to the project name — was grown out of the soil in six weeks and will return back to the soil at the end of its lifecycle. Created in partnership with global energy company Eni, the mushroom structure was on display at Milan Design Week 2019’s Fuorisalone at Brera’s Orto Botanico, the city’s botanical garden. The Circular Garden is constructed from mycelium, the fibrous root of mushrooms , which was grown in the two months before the debut of the pavilion. With help from leading mycology experts, such as the Dutch Krown.Bio lab, CRA injected spores into organic material to start the growth process and then shaped the material into a series of 60 self-supporting, 4-meter-tall arches that add up to a record 1-kilometer-long mycelium. The design of self-supporting arches was inspired by the works of renowned Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, who famously used the “inverted catenary” method in his design of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. “Nature is a much smarter architect than us,” said Carlo Ratti, founding partner of CRA and director of the MIT Senseable City Lab. “As we continue our collective quest for a more responsive ‘living’ architecture, we will increasingly blur the boundaries between the worlds of the natural and the artificial. What if tomorrow we might be able to program matter to ‘grow a house’ like a plant? Milan’s amazing botanical garden , in the center of the city, seemed the ideal place for such an experiment.” Related: Paris has a new underground — a massive farm for mushrooms and veggies Visitors are invited to explore the Circular Garden, whose arches form four architectural “open rooms” in the garden. While most temporary exhibition pavilions generate large amounts of waste, CRA’s pavilion is largely biodegradable and its elements will be reused; the mushrooms, ropes and wood chips that make up the structure will be shredded and returned to the earth, and the small metal elements will be recycled. The installation is part of the INTERNI Human Spaces exhibition and is open to the public from April 9 to 19, 2019. + Carlo Ratti Associati Photography by Marco Beck Peccoz via Carlo Ratti Associati

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CRA grows a sustainable pavilion out of mushrooms in just 6 weeks

New York is curbing food waste and helping people in need with a new initiative

April 17, 2019 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

New York is making important strides toward reducing food waste and greenhouse gas emissions. The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, recently agreed to a new food waste initiative with the state legislature that will recycle scraps and send wholesome food to people in need. The new law is called the Food Donation and Food Scrap Recycling Act. Once the bill goes into practice, all surplus food items will be donated to local food shelters while any scraps will be sent to recycling centers, preventing a large portion of food from entering the waste stream. Related: 5 simple ways to reduce your food waste right now Food waste is a growing concern in the United States. According to NRDC , experts estimate that around 40 percent of food ends up in the waste bin on an annual basis. In New York City, this statistic is particularly alarming given that there are close to 2.5 million people in the city who struggle to find food. Food comprises around 18 percent of solid waste, most of which ends up in landfills across the country. Food breaks down easily in the landfill , but the process results in methane gas. You also have to account for wasting all the energy it took to create that food, including water and labor. Governor Cuomo hopes that the new bill will help prevent the majority of food waste from ending up in the landfill. The law will require facilities that create food waste to mark any excess for donation. Once things are in full swing, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation believes that it will save around 250,000 tons of food on a yearly basis. The top priority of the new law is to feed people in need. Following that, any food scraps will be donated for animal feed, followed by industrial uses — such as oil rendering — and composting . The new food waste law will not go into effect in New York City , because there is a similar law already in place. Via NRDC Image via Jasmin S.

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New York is curbing food waste and helping people in need with a new initiative

Rammed earth Kopila Valley School is the greenest school in Nepal

April 10, 2019 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

In Nepal , access to education doesn’t just improve job prospects — schools can save lives, whether it’s rescuing children from malnourishment or delaying the age of marriage to reduce rates of HIV, maternal death and suicide. That’s why American nonprofit BlinkNow has dedicated itself to building community infrastructure in Surkhet, Nepal, including the Kopila Valley School. Powered entirely by solar energy and built of rammed earth walls, the campus is billed by the founders as the “greenest school in Nepal.” Located on three acres of land, the recently opened Kopila Valley School serves more than 400 students from nursery through 12th grade. The campus was built to expand on the nonprofit’s existing primary school and create a safe and nurturing environment that is not only a place of learning (with school uniforms and books provided), but also offers children nutritious meals, basic medical and dental care and after-school activities, such as sports and cooking classes. The school employs more than 100 Nepalese teachers and administrators. The campus also includes a Mental Health and Counseling Center, the Kopila Valley Health Clinic, a tutoring room, a computer lab, a stage and a small library. Sustainability is at the forefront of the campus design. Locally sourced rammed earth , chosen for superior thermal mass and temperature control, was used to construct the 18-inch-thick walls reinforced with steel bars for stability and earthquake resilience and a small amount of PPC cement to protect against dampness during monsoon season. Natural ventilation and lighting were also optimized in the positioning of the buildings and windows, while covered terraces at southern-facing walls provide shade. The campus is 100 percent solar-powered with a 25.2 kWp solar PV system and a 20 kVA off-grid battery system. Related: UK architect helps locals rebuild Nepal temple destroyed by earthquake A 300,000-liter underground cistern stores rainwater harvested from the rooftops that is filtered for potable use. The landscaping and permeable paving ensure rainwater is also used to replenish the groundwater system. All wastewater is treated on site with constructed wetlands and then recycled. Gray water from sinks is used to flush the toilets; black water is filtered for plant irrigation; solids are converted in a pressurized tank into biogas fuel for cooking. Solar cookers are also used for cooking. + BlinkNow Images via BlinkNow

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Rammed earth Kopila Valley School is the greenest school in Nepal

A micro home in one of Quebecs regional parks offers a unique way to enjoy the outdoors

April 9, 2019 by  
Filed under Green, Recycle

La Pointe is located within Canada’s Poisson Blanc Regional Park, and it’s a nature-loving minimalist’s dream come true. The micro home gets its name from the distinctive triangular geometry that comes to a cathedral-style point in the roof. The designers at Atelier L’abri wanted to honor the A-frame style that was made popular in North America in the 1950s while still providing the essential functions needed in a forest cabin. La Pointe offers off-the-grid living that isn’t completely isolated from civilization. The micro home is located off of a nature trail about 10 minutes by foot from the park’s reception pavilion. Despite the minimal square footage, there is room for up to four occupants inside thanks to the first-floor table’s ability to convert into an extra bed. Related: Disconnect in these A-frame tiny cabins in the Catskills The structure was built on-site and features a kitchenette, an outdoor porch area and a lofted bedroom accessible by ladder. The bed is suspended mezzanine-style using steel rods, and it calmly overlooks the rest of the home. The entire space, including the sleeping area, takes full advantage of the natural light that streams in during the day. The connecting covered terrace is the perfect spot to enjoy the space when the weather is hot, and the wood-burning stove keeps the house warm in the cold Canadian winters. The whole structure is raised off the ground to prevent weather-related damage from both the snow and the nearby reservoir. The exterior, made from natural cedar boards, creates a woodsy look that blends in beautifully to the surrounding forest landscape. The roof is made from steel, a recycle-friendly option for a building material. The interior uses the same cedar, which — combined with the dark, steel-colored appliances inside — creates an organic and raw look. Occupants can enjoy the forest views from the large bay window that centers the home from the first floor. + Atelier L’abri Photography by Jack Jérôme via Atelier L’abri

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A micro home in one of Quebecs regional parks offers a unique way to enjoy the outdoors

Bananatex launches a sustainable material revolution at Milan Design Week

April 9, 2019 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

A party of three has collaborated to create a multi-purpose material sourced entirely from banana leaves. Swiss bag brand QWSTION, a yarn specialist from Taiwan, and a Taiwanese weaving partner spent four years developing the new material, which is being revealed at the 2019 Milan Design Week. The strong, flexible material, called Banantex, offers a new universal option in the search for sustainable materials . Beginning at the source, the banana leaves come from a natural ecosystem of sustainable forestry in the Philippines. The banana trees grow naturally without the use of pesticides or other chemicals. Plus, they do not require any additional water. The banana plants are a boon to an area previously eroded by palm plantations, bringing back vegetation and a livelihood for local farmers. Related: See how banana trees are recycled into vegan “leather” wallets in Micronesia With a long history of creating materials from sustainable resources, QWSTION saw the strength and durability of the banana leaves that were used in the Philippines for more than a century as boat ropes. Following three years of research and development, the bag company finalized the plant-based material. As a bag company, the first products they put together are backpacks and hip pouches, made completely with the plastic-free material. The larger goal, however, is for other companies to use Banantex in their own production, spreading the application to any number of industries that could eliminate many of the synthetic materials on the market today. United with the common goal of inspiring responsible product development, the team conceived the idea as an open source project with this in mind. The characteristics of the material makes this idea easy to imagine since it is durable, pliable and waterproof. Plus, it is biodegradable at the end of the life cycle, significantly reducing post-consumer waste rampant in the clothing and accessories industries in particular. The display will be open to the public at Milan Design Week on April 9-14, 2019. + QWSTION Images via QWSTION

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Bananatex launches a sustainable material revolution at Milan Design Week

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