Biofase has discovered a unique way to recycle avocado pits

February 15, 2019 by  
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A Mexico-based company has discovered a unique way to recycle avocado pits. Biofase, a startup founded in Michoacan, Mexico, is using discarded waste from the fruit to create biodegradable cutlery and straws in a bigger fight against single-use plastics and food waste. A biochemical engineer named Scott Munguia created Biofase in 2013. The company uses a technique that transforms avocado waste into bioplastics, which are then used to form materials. All of the products the company creates from the pits are fully biodegradable and decompose within 240 days. Related: How to grow an avocado tree from an avocado pit “Our family of biodegradable resins can be processed by all conventional methods of plastic molding,” Biofase explained in a tweet. According to EcoWatch , the organization processes around 15 metric tons of avocado waste every day. Not only is the operation proving profitable, but it is also good for the environment. Apart from the biodegradable utensils and straws, Biofase is preventing a significant amount of agricultural waste from ending up in Mexico’s landfills and surrounding bodies of water. Biofase claims to be the sole biopolymer supplier in its home country of Mexico . The company ships its biodegradable products to more than 11 countries in Latin America. Several chain restaurants also order cutlery and straws from Biofase, including Chili’s Grill & Bar, Fiesta Americana and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro. Although Biofase is leading Mexico in the production of biopolymers, new laws will likely create a need for more development in the industry. In fact, several municipalities in the region have passed laws against single-use plastics , emphasizing a growing need for eco-friendly alternatives. For example, Querétaro banned plastic bags in 2017, and Tijuana followed suit the following year. Ditching single-use plastics is a growing trend in Mexico. To date, there are more than 15 laws at city and state levels that are meant to discourage the use of disposable plastics. Biopolymers come with their own disadvantages, but these are a viable solution to the growing problem of plastic waste around the globe. If a company like Biofase can come up with an ingenious way to create biodegradable straws and biodegradable utensils, we can only hope that other forms of biodegradable plastics will follow. + Biofase Via EcoWatch Image via Julie Henriksen

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Biofase has discovered a unique way to recycle avocado pits

Eco-friendly Brae restaurant and retreat targets net-zero energy in Australia

January 22, 2019 by  
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Sustainability is woven throughout Brae , a renowned restaurant and retreat nestled on a hillside of a 30-acre organic farm in rural Australia. Designed by Fitzroy-based studio Six Degrees Architects , Brae is best known for its seasonally inspired menu and talented chefs — the restaurant was named among the world’s 50 best restaurants in 2017 — and the idyllic establishment also boasts six eco-friendly guest suites designed to target net-zero energy consumption. Durable and recycled materials are used throughout the handcrafted buildings, which are powered with solar energy and use recycled rainwater. After Six Degree Architects completed Brae in 2013, the firm revisited the site to add a new accommodation building that would emphasize the restaurant’s commitment to sustainability and seasonality. Completed in 2016, the six guest suites are housed in a structure referencing the archetypal utilitarian rural shed and built with simple and robust materials including recycled timber and brickwork, raw steel and brass. Local builders and tradesmen built the project, and the guest suites are carefully fitted out with bespoke, engaging objects to make each room feel homey and welcoming. “The restaurant is renowned for seasonally sourcing raw produce from either the property or local region,” the architects explained. “There was a desire to bring this careful, considered approach into the crafting of the rooms and restaurant. Simple robust materials, contrasting hard and soft, and a level of intricate detailing remind you that hands have made and shaped the buildings. The project purposefully plays off the materiality and self-build nature of old rural buildings, reinterpreting them into contemporary and luxurious interiors, framing views of the working landscape beyond.” Related: Peek inside the BIG-designed garden village for one of the world’s best restaurants The guest suites are oriented for south-facing views of the landscape, while a landscaped berm to the north protects the building from view of the carpark. To achieve net-zero energy use during operation, the project is equipped with 48 solar panels that generate a daily average of nearly 44 kWh. Rainwater is harvested in two 40,000-liter tanks and reused for drinking and washing. Waste is broken down in a large worm farm. Thanks to these systems and passive thermal design, the 500-square-meter Brae guest suites have achieved a NatHERS energy rating of 7 stars. + Six Degrees Architects Photography by Trevor Mein via Six Degrees Architects

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Eco-friendly Brae restaurant and retreat targets net-zero energy in Australia

These are the world’s top vegan cities

January 22, 2019 by  
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If traveling is a top priority for you in 2019 and you follow a vegan diet , there are some cities that are more vegan-friendly than others. Vegan website Happy Cow has compiled a list of the 10 most vegan-friendly cities in the world based on the number of fully-vegan restaurants, the number of vegan-option restaurants and their impression of overall vegan-friendliness. London At the top of the list is London, because the number of vegan restaurants in the city has exploded over the past year. It was the first city on the list to hit 100 completely vegan restaurants. A recent survey showed that more than a half million people are following the vegan diet in Great Britain. Related: Veganism on the rise, record number of sign-ups for Veganuary Berlin Because its vegan scene continues to grow, Berlin comes in at No. 2. There are now 65 vegan restaurants in the German city and 320 additional vegan options at restaurants within a 5-mile radius. New York City Many people consider the Big Apple to be the international food capital of the world, and its vegan scene is flourishing. There are now 64 vegan restaurants in NYC that range from fast food to upscale dining. Portland Veganism is a way of life in Portland , and that means the city has a wide variety of plant-based food options. You can easily find a vegan burger and a variety of vegan artisanal cheeses. There are also a number of vegan food carts and even a vegan bed and breakfast. Tel Aviv With an estimated 5 to 8 percent of the Israeli population being vegan, the country has the highest percentage of vegans in the world. The 31 vegan restaurants in Tel Aviv serve a variety of cuisines from Israel, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Some also have a Western influence. Rounding out the top 10 are Los Angeles, Warsaw, Toronto, Prague and Paris . + Happy Cow Image via 12019

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These are the world’s top vegan cities

100architects upcycles phone booths into resourceful community hubs

January 15, 2019 by  
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When was the last time you stepped into a phone booth? If you’re under 30, you might not even be aware that phone booths used to be on nearly every street corner as a means to contact your parents after the football game or call a taxi after dinner. Of course, there are those scenes from the original Superman that might jog your memory. Once cell phones became mainstream, the empty phone booths became easy fodder for graffiti, pollution and public urinal use. But while the era of the phone booth is long gone, in Shanghai, these relics are being upcycled into useful curbside furniture. Many cities in China, like most major metropolitan areas, have grown beyond the need for public phone booths, but the government decided to transform the existing architecture into something more appealing. As contracted by the government, Shanghai firm 100architects took on the challenge of finding a new use for the phone booths on Yuyuan Road, a historic road in the city. The goal was not only to find another use for the phone booths but to make sure the new design was useful and accessible to the public. Related: Martin Angelov upcycles an abandoned telephone booth into public seating While the outside looks like what we remember as a traditional phone booth, the standout orange interior provides shelter and a spot to hang out. Depending on the size of the unit, some have tables while others are standing-room only. One thing they all have in common is a side that is open to the sidewalk and passersby. This is an intentional effort to encourage engagement in a population that has become solitary thanks to individual cell phones. All three “Orange Phone Booth” prototypes include LED lighting that illuminates the structures after dark. They also include a free Wi-Fi connection and USB charging sockets, which are a popular draw for many people on the go or with time to kill. You might also find a newspaper rack, reading lights and an emergency public phone. There are currently five renovated phone booths along Yuyuan Road that work equally as public furniture and statement pieces. + 100architects Via Curbed Photography by Amey Kandalgaonkar via 100architects

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100architects upcycles phone booths into resourceful community hubs

Recyclable art pavilion made of mesh pops up in Kolkata

January 10, 2019 by  
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West Bengal’s biggest annual festival recently saw the addition of a strikingly contemporary pavilion that is 100 percent recyclable in Kolkata , India. Designed by Abin Chaudhuri of the firm Abin Design Studio , the metal mesh pavilion was one of many temporary pavilions — or pandals — constructed to honor the goddess Durga as part of a five-day Hindu festival called Durga Puja. Unlike the other pandals, which are typically built of natural materials and reference traditional motifs and artworks, Abin Design Studio’s creation is architecturally modern with a dynamic form made from steel wire cubes. Installed inside an alley surrounded by buildings, Abin Design Studio’s Festival Pavilion stands out from its predecessors for the way it embraces the site. Rather than covering up the buildings, Abin Chaudhuri regarded the structures as a backdrop for his stacked cubes of steel wire mesh. The pavilion , which appears as a heap of cubes threatening to topple at any moment, is not only used to frame the deity, but it has also been manipulated to create an entrance arch and immersive sculptural artwork. “The installation is based on the idea of ‘Childhood,’” Abin Design Studio explained. “At the entrance of the installation, an abstract flight of birds overhead depicts the freedom of thought and creativity in young children. The wings gradually diminish and the birds tessellate into an array of boxes. Along with the deconstructed arrangement, the boxes put forward a commentary on the scenario of a child’s immense inherent potential getting slowly confined into a metaphorical box. The form of the installation then compels the viewer into a ‘void’, a place to sit and contemplate, in the axial presence of ‘Maa Durga.’” Related: A glowing river of books creates a traffic-free haven in Ann Arbor All parts of the temporary 350-square-meter pavilion are recyclable , from the steel mesh cubes and bamboo framing system to the plywood support system for the platform and stage as well as the old newspaper folded into origami birds. Moreover, the pavilion was also created as a module that could be replicated to activate forgotten urban spaces throughout the city, even in non-festival times. + Abin Design Studio Photography by Suryan/Dang, Abin Chaudhari, Sohomdeep Sinha Roy and Nancy Mandhan via Abin Design Studio

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Recyclable art pavilion made of mesh pops up in Kolkata

Nature-inspired art gallery is built from bamboo and reused bricks

December 21, 2018 by  
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Belgium- and Brazil-based design practice CRU! architects channeled its passion for bamboo architecture and natural building materials into an art gallery in Catuçaba, a rural community about three hours east of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Spanning an area of 1,184 square feet, the project was commissioned by the owner of Fazenda Catuçaba , an idyllic farmhouse-style hotel that includes an operational organic farm. Building on Fazenda Catuçaba’s environmentally friendly practices, the art gallery was constructed mainly of bamboo and reused fired bricks. More than just an exercise in sustainable architecture, the art gallery for Fazenda Catuçaba was also created as a social building project to benefit the local community. With help from the architects, a community eco-building cooperative constructed the project and provided training and job development opportunities for the local residents. The cooperative constructed the entire bamboo structure, while local workers from Fazenda Catuçaba’s on-site farm carried out the excavation work, foundation work and brick laying. The design of the art gallery draws inspiration from the differing architectural styles of its two neighboring structures: the Fazenda Catuçaba’s colonial Portuguese-styled farmhouse and the Occa, an indigenous communal space built by an Amazonian Indian tribe. As a result, the exterior of the gallery features colonial Portuguese-inspired white walls and blue doors while the interior is marked by narrow passageways and courtyard evocative of Amazonian Indian architecture. A fountain installed in the patio connects to the river and strengthens the building’s connection with nature. Related: This breathtaking Tulum art gallery was created by Peggy Guggenheim’s great-grandson “The gallery is entirely based on the golden proportion — the width and height of the different parts correspond to the rules set by the Greek and Roman architects such as Vitruvius,” explained lead architect Sven Mouton. “It is meant to be a humble construction that fits the colonial style of the surrounding, but that also refers to the occa nearby. A Portuguese face with an Indian heart. Since art can be considered sacred, the spiritual language of a monastery arch-way was used to house the exhibitions. In the original sense a gallery was a covered walk or passageway, narrow and partly open along a wall.” + CRU! architects Photography by Nelson Kon via CRU! architects

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Is a flexitarian diet right for you?

December 21, 2018 by  
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Going vegan or vegetarian might be a good choice for your health  — as well as the environment — but not everyone wants to take the extreme measure of cutting meat and other animal products completely out of their diet. So, over the past five years, many who want to live a healthy life and/or do their part in the fight against climate change have opted for the flexitarian diet. What is flexitarianism? Flexitarianism doesn’t go as far as veganism or vegetarianism, but it does include some of the same principals. Basically, a flexitarian is someone who has a flexible plant -based diet, which means that meat and other animal products are not a part of their regular diet, but they do eat them occasionally. Usually, people who identify as flexitarians adopt the lifestyle for health reasons or to lessen their environmental impact —or both. Dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner created the Flexitarian Diet to help people get the benefits of eating like vegetarians while still being able to enjoy meat and other animal products in moderation. There are no specific rules in the flexitarian lifestyle—no calorie counting or tracking of macronutrients— and the focus is on what you can eat instead of what you can’t, which makes it all the more appealing to many people. However, there are a few basic principles that Blatner based the diet on: eat mostly plant-based foods (fruits, veggies, legumes and whole grains), get your protein from plants instead of animals, eat natural foods instead of processed foods, limit refined sugar and sweets, and occasionally incorporate meat and animal products. Overall, the goal is less meat, more plants. Related: Look out meat industry— flexitarianism is on the rise What are the health benefits? There are many health benefits when you eat flexitarian. Because most plant-based foods have fewer calories and higher fiber content, this diet can help you lose weight. Eating mostly fruits, veggies, nuts and whole grains can also lead to an increased life expectancy compared to people who regularly eat meat. Studies have shown that a vegetarian diet can lower the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, and the reap the same benefits. On the flip side, there have also been studies that indicate eating red meat can lead to an increase of cancer . A flexible eating pattern also tends to lead to a lower body mass index (BMI), a lower risk of breast cancer, and lower blood glucose levels compared to people who eat meat regularly. What are the risks and drawbacks? Because vitamin B12 is only found in animal products, you can run the risk of a deficiency when you switch to flexitarianism. So, you might need a B12 supplement. When you reduce or cut out meat from your diet, you might also have lower stores of minerals that are best absorbed from animal foods, like zinc and iron. However, you can remedy this by eating plenty of nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes. If you aren’t eating fatty fish, you might not be getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, which means you need to up your intake of things like walnuts and flaxseeds. There is also a myth about vegetarianism or flexitarianism that you won’t get enough protein without eating meat. This simply isn’t true. In fact, most people who eat a standard diet eat way more protein than they need to. Plus, you can get the protein you need by eating soy products, rice and beans, and even a peanut butter sandwich. In order to avoid nutritional deficiencies, it is a good idea to carefully plan your meals to make sure you include enough whole foods— and the right amount of meat and animal products— so you are getting the proper amount of vitamins and minerals. Related: A third of people in the UK are now eating less or no meat How to get started Starting the flexitarian lifestyle isn’t as simple as eating less meat and magically becoming healthier. Theoretically, you could eat a pop tart for breakfast, chili cheese fries for lunch, and a veggie burger with chips and a soda for dinner, and that would follow the vegetarian or flexitarian “rules”. But, there would be zero health benefits. It’s not just about eating less meat, but also making smart food choices overall. So, in addition to reducing meat consumption, you are also adding nutrient-rich foods to your daily diet, while keeping the processed foods to a minimum. Instead of trying to drastically change overnight, it is better to take steps towards the flexitarian lifestyle. Start by shopping the perimeter of the grocery store ( avoid the aisles ) during your next shopping trip, and load up on fresh produce and nuts. Then, try cut your meat-eating down to two to three days a week. No matter how small the change, it will be a step in the right direction. And, the best part is, you don’t have to say no to your mom’s famous meatloaf at your next family dinner. Via EcoWatch , Healthline Images via Shutterstock

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Is a flexitarian diet right for you?

Ecovillage in Copenhagen strives to meet all 17 Sustainable Development Goals

December 20, 2018 by  
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Danish architecture firm Lendager Group has won an international competition for its design of the UN17 Village, a sustainable residential development that will introduce 400 new homes to Copenhagen , Denmark. Selected over shortlisted proposals from prominent firms such as BIG and Henning Larsen, Lendager Group’s winning design aims to create “the first building project in the world that translates all 17 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into tangible action.” The project will span an area of 35,000 square meters in the city’s southern district of Ørestad South and is slated for completion in 2023. Created in collaboration with NREP, MOE, Årstiderne Architects and Arup, the winning UN17 Village proposal will follow the UN’s 17 Global Goals with a design that will be built with recycled materials, renewable energy sources and other energy-saving strategies. The upcycled construction materials will also be locally harvested and processed to stimulate the local economy. In addition to creating 400 new homes, the residential development will also include a variety of public facilities such as a communal kitchen, workspaces, guest housing, a recreation center with a bathhouse and a communal laundromat fed with recycled rainwater. “The built environment is responsible for more than 40 percent of our global emissions ,” Lendager Group said in a press release. “However, it does not have to be this way. In nature, waste does not exist: organisms regenerate themselves and use dead organic materials as building blocks for future growth. The UN17 Village showcases how we can decouple growth from emissions by looking at waste as a resource, and by making sustainability and growth support each other without compromising on quality, aesthetics or price.” Related: BIG completes low-income “Homes for All” project in Copenhagen A healthy indoor climate will also be emphasized throughout. The home interiors will have a spacious feel and will be dressed in nontoxic and certified materials. Rooftop solar panels will fulfill the energy needs while an abundance of greenery and garden spaces will be integrated to promote sustainable living. + Lendager Group Images by TMRW via Lendager Group

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Ecovillage in Copenhagen strives to meet all 17 Sustainable Development Goals

Nh Nhm Homestay is built from upcycled waste in Vietnam

December 19, 2018 by  
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Born from waste materials, the stylish Nhà Nhím Homestay is giving upcycling a good name with its smart eco-friendly design. Designed by Ho Chi Minh City-based architectural practice A+ Architects , the hotel comprises a series of contemporary structures built of locally sourced materials and positioned for optimal views over the landscape. Completed last year, the project is located in Da Lat, the capital of Lam Dong province in southern Vietnam’s Central Highlands. The long and narrow project site for the Nhà Nhím Homestay proved a challenge due to the dimensions and the sloped terrain. Rather than create a single structure stretched across the slender site, the architects split the hotel into a series of buildings strategically staggered and spaced apart to protect against cold winds and to encourage connection between units. The structures were also elevated off the ground for improved views and to create usable open space underneath. The sleeping areas—seven beds in total—are located upstairs while the communal spaces are on the ground floor. After the architects sketched out the initial design, they began to study the site surroundings in more detail. After multiple trips out to Da Lat, the firm found inspiration in the region’s abundance of waste material and decided to upcycle those materials to tie the design into its surroundings. Unwanted cutoffs from the local textile factories, for instance, were recycled into different parts in the buildings, while external wood cells were reused in the ceiling modules. Leftover pine branches were transformed into fencing and other old timbers were given new life as furnishings. Related: An old warehouse is remade into a stylish hotel with a copper chevron crown The architects add: “There were also test concrete blocks being thrown away. No longer garbage. We recreated a new purpose for them, when they were carefully aligned to recreate the iconic talus slope of Da Lat. In the end, this project was a story of giving so-called “garbages” a second chance and an architect’s adventure of creating something meaningful from trash.” + A+ Architects Images by Quang Tran  

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Nh Nhm Homestay is built from upcycled waste in Vietnam

These stylish, work-appropriate loafers are made with recycled tires

December 18, 2018 by  
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When you think of tires, images of a car maneuvering through standing water or gripping gravel might come to mind. And for good reason — that’s what tires are for. From an environmental vantage point, though, rubber tires are a hazard. Because many of them are mixed with steel reinforcement, they are not recyclable by traditional means. Sending them to the landfill is expensive, therefore many of them end up dumped on the side of the road. They can, however, be repurposed, and that is just what one innovative company has done with its stylish new loafers. Hugs & Co., a London-based company, has recently unveiled a loafer that uses waste tire rubber for the shoe’s sole. As a luxury offering, the Tyre Sole Driving Loafers promote the material as a step up from other loafers, even the shoe’s own previous versions, with a traction and durability that is trademark of tire materials. Founder Hugo Davis said, “All too often the decision to select environmentally conscious components leads to a compromise in quality, here it actually enhances the product.” Related: Outdoor giant Merrell presents its most sustainable shoe to date The company states that the production of the material requires a fraction of the energy usage traditionally required in the manufacturing of shoe soles. Continuing with the sustainability zeitgeist, Hugs & Co. aims to make a product that is versatile and long-lasting. It believes that making products last longer is good for the planet. Although labeled a driving loafer, the Tyre Sole, or TS1 is a comfortable and adaptable option for casual day at the office, an afternoon at the beach or a night out with friends. Reminiscent of a moccasin, the Tyre Sole Driving Loafers come in a few styles and colors in men’s sizes. The materials for the TS1 are all sourced within Europe, including hand-selected Italian suede along with a natural leather interior. The first run of this loafer sourced end-of-life reclaimed tires from Michelin in Spain. Each loafer is hand-stitched for a personal and thorough approach to quality. The upcycled tire material makes for a long-lasting sole. Related: nat-2 creates a completely vegan sneaker made from coffee Hugs & Co. was established in 2012 by brothers Benjie and Hugo Davis, and the company produces a full line of shoes for men and women as well as cell phone accessories. + Hugs & Co. Images via Hugs & Co.

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These stylish, work-appropriate loafers are made with recycled tires

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