Recycled plastic art installation asserts that water is a human right in D.C.

July 26, 2019 by  
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In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly recognized access to clean water as a human right. To raise awareness about the “questionable privatizations” and climate change threatening this human right, Spanish design collective Luzinterruptus created ‘Let’s Go Fetch Water!’, a temporary art installation made from recycled plastic. Located on the grounds of the Spanish Embassy and the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C., the art installation features an eye-catching waterfall effect created by a series of angled buckets cascading water sourced from a closed-loop system. When designing Let’s Go Fetch Water!, Luzinterruptus wanted to reference the daily toils that many people — mostly women — around the world must go through to fetch water for their family’s basic supply. As a result, buckets that are used to draw and transport water became the main motif for the piece. “These buckets transport this precious liquid from fountains and wells and are even hoisted down to the depths of the Earth in order to get it,” the designers explained. “They later carry them through long perilous trails during grueling journeys, where not even a drop must be spilled.” Related: A glowing river of books creates a traffic-free haven in Ann Arbor To minimize the loss of water, Luzinterruptus used a slow-flowing current and closed-loop system for the waterfall effect. The designers were also adamant about using buckets made from recycled materials rather than take the easy route of purchasing cheap buckets made in China. The buckets were mounted onto a wooden frame, and all of the materials will be recycled after the installation is dismantled in September. The installation is on display from May 16 to September 27 and will be lit up and functional at night as well. “We all know water is scarce,” Luzinterruptus said. “ Climate change is one of the main reasons; however, questionable privatizations are also to be blamed. Governments lacking financial resources give up this resource to private companies in exchange for supply infrastructures. Other governments just sell their aquifers and springs to large food and beverage corporations, which exploit these and everything around dry, leaving local inhabitants in deep crisis. We have enjoyed this particular commission since we have, for a long time, been dealing with issues concerning the recycling of plastic material, and we have experienced firsthand how these companies that sell someone else’s water, and seem to be especially focused on launching awareness campaigns for a responsible use of plastic, only try to deviate attention from this uncomfortable privatization issue.” + Luzinterruptus Photography by David Keith via Luzinterruptus

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Recycled plastic art installation asserts that water is a human right in D.C.

Prada jumps into the sustainability realm with six Re-Nylon bags made from recycled plastic waste

July 25, 2019 by  
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The topic of sustainability is the zeitgeist of our era and there are few industries as predominantly targeted for creating waste, and in turn holding the power for high-impact solutions, as the fashion industry— even those deemed high fashion. Easily identifiable as a luxury brand, Prada now hopes to lead the industry in sustainable action with the production of a new line of bags made from an innovative material, Re-Nylon. Using recycled materials in fabric production is not a new idea, but the ability to bring together the best sustainability efforts from five continents just might be.  Related: Renewlogy turns low-grade plastic into usable fuels Re-Nylon is the result of extensive research and the dedication to sourcing recycled waste . With this in mind, Prada has collaborated with some leaders in the waste-to-material industry who are proving there are ways to reuse post-consumer products in new and exciting ways. Partnering with Italian textile specialists, Aquafil, materials are sourced from used carpeting, fishing nets and ocean waste across five continents. One example comes from Phoenix, Arizona, where the world’s first carpet recycling plant diverts some of the 1.6 million tons of carpet discarded annually and converts it into ECONYL nylon used in Prada’s Re-Nylon bags.  Putting this waste through a process of depolymerization and re-polymerisation, the end result is a yarn that is endlessly recyclable with no reduction in quality. Production facilities in Ljubljana, Slovenia and Arco, Italy receive the recycled plastic and turn it into polymers and threads used to make the initial Re-Nylon line that includes the belt bag, the shoulder bag, a tote bag, a duffle and two Prada backpacks.  The Re-Nylon project goes beyond this initial reveal of six bags with a focus on making sustainability a permanent part of the production plan.  “I’m very excited to announce the launch of the Prada Re-Nylon collection. Our ultimate goal will be to convert all Prada virgin nylon into Re-Nylon by the end of 2021. This project highlights our continued efforts towards promoting a responsible business. This collection will allow us to make our contribution and create products without using new resources,” says Lorenzo Bertelli, Prada Group Head of Marketing and Communication In an effort to prove this dedication, a percentage of the profit from each bag is donated to an environmental sustainability project. Prada has also partnered with UNESCO to set up an educational programs aimed at teaching youth about conservation of resources, plastic and circular economies so they can lead an awareness campaign on the topic. +Prada Images via Prada

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Prada jumps into the sustainability realm with six Re-Nylon bags made from recycled plastic waste

Cyclo is the packable and sustainable helmet made from recycled plastic

July 23, 2019 by  
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Study after study shows that wearing a helmet saves lives and reduces injuries during an accident, yet some statistics detail a usage rate as low as 17 percent. Users report that a contributing factor to not wearing a helmet is the bulk and inconvenience of packing it around. Fortunately, the next generation of helmet is here, and the construction brings style, safety and a compact, portable design. Currently trending on Indiegogo, the Cyclo helmet was created by a few people who have been in the design realm for a while, with notable careers as engineers at Aston Martin and Boeing. The Cyclo offers users packability never before seen in a helmet. That’s because of the unique design that allows the rounded upper portion to flip over into the lower part of the helmet frame. Released with a durable clip, the movable parts stay securely in place during use. The helmet is built to exceed all U.S., European and Canadian standards. Related: DIY device emits a distinctive sound to keep cyclists safe While packability was a significant goal during the design phase, co-founders Josh Cohen, CEO, Dom Cotton, CMO and Will Wood, design engineer, felt the pull of corporate responsibility . With sustainability becoming a hot topic in every industry, the team decided to incorporate recycled materials into the helmet. By partnering with Plastic Oceans U.K., Cyclo supports efforts to clean up significant plastic pollution in the ocean. As a result, each helmet represents 20 water bottles removed from marine ecosystems. Sparked by a helmet-less ride Cohen experienced while cycling in London, the helmet is aimed at convenience to encourage a higher user rate. Environmentally responsible, portable and safe, the Cyclo can be worn when riding scooters, skateboards, bikes or segways. With the compact design, it easily slides into a backpack, gym bag or work bag. “Josh’s experience of riding in London highlighted a clear gap in the market,” Cotton said. “Helmets are really important but can be inconvenient, especially for urban riders. We’ve created something that will help more people to ride more often and protect themselves and our planet in the process.” Cyclo is currently offering a discount through the Indiegogo campaign , which is ending soon. The team is taking orders now with production set to begin in early 2020, and the first product shipments going out the following spring. + Cyclo Images via Cyclo

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Cyclo is the packable and sustainable helmet made from recycled plastic

How to easily make your own reusable produce bags

July 22, 2019 by  
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If you’re focused on sustainability and/or zero waste , you probably cringe every time you return home from the grocery store and pull out bag after bag of fruits and vegetables, each tucked inside plastic bags conveniently located in the produce section where you shopped. The good news is that it’s easy to end the cringe with reusable cloth produce bags. Fortunately, it’s easy to make your own cloth produce bags at very little cost. There are even no-sew options if a sewing machine isn’t your thing. The best part is that you likely already have everything you need to whip up a pile of reusable cloth bags this weekend. Related: RÆBURN upcycles North Face tents into one-of-a-kind bags Material An old, but freshly washed, bed sheet makes the perfect upcycle material for your cloth produce bags. Alternately, grab some lightly-used pillow cases. These work great since they already have seams on some of the sides. Ideally, you will want cotton or linen and organic is always best, but remember that turning one product into something else is already an eco-friendly action so give yourself a break if your sheets aren’t organic.  The linen closet is an easy place to start, but it’s certainly not the only place to find material in your home. Old clothing is an accessible option, especially when you look for shapes that make produce bags easier to make. For example, a child’s shirt will only need small adaptations to turn into a bag. Same goes for wide sleeves or a tight skirt.  No sew Sewing just might not be your thing. Perhaps you don’t have a sewing machine, or you don’t enjoy the whole needle and thread experience. That’s fine with us. To use no-sew reusable produce bags, simply use Velcro instead. Lay your fabric pieces out inside out. Glue Velcro to the length of each side and allow the strips to dry. Then press the Velcro pieces together completely. Use high-quality Velcro for a firm hold.  Sew Making your own produce bags doesn’t require extensive sewing experience. Simply cut and lay out two rectangles of fabric, back to back (or inside out). You can make bags in a variety of sizes. Sew the edges of three sides, leaving the top open. If you are using a material with existing seams, finish the additional edges. For example, cut a pillowcase in four quarters, turn each quarter inside out, finish the seams and turn it back right side out to see your completed bag. The top Now you have your upcycled produce bag ready to go, but you may be wondering how to keep it closed once you stuff your favorite produce inside. The answer is that you don’t really need to if your bag is deep enough. However, if you prefer to have a top that closes, there are several ways you can go about it. For those that enjoyed the sewing portion, go ahead and add a drawstring to the top. To do this, fold over the material at the top leaving about 1/2 inch before making a seam. The 1/2 inch gap allows room for a piece of rope or that non-partnered shoelace in the junk drawer. You can lay it into the space before stitching it up, but be sure not to stitch over it, which locks it into a stationary position and will inhibit the bag from pulling closed. For a no-sew option attach the two sides with Velcro. An even easier solution is to close the top while you’re at the grocery store or farmer’s market using a hair tie band. The elasticity allows the cashier to peak inside the bag hassle free. Plus, if you use your produce bag in the bulk section, you can attach the product number tag directly to the tie band.  Other Uses Produce bags are never just for produce. You can use them to store any number of foods . Beans are an excellent example. Rice, pasta and other pantry items also store well in fabric bags. Shopping bulk is a sustainable action that removes much of the packaging waste from the typical shopping venture. While glass jars are best for some things, fabric bags can handle the “bulk” of your dried foods. Outside the food realm you can use them to store art supplies such as markers, paint brushes and rocks. When it comes time to do laundry, throw small items such as kid’s socks inside and wash the entire bag. Care Fabric produce bags are easy to care for because they are machine washable alongside the rest of your laundry. It’s best to wash bags after each use considering the amount of germs they encounter in the shopping cart, at checkout and in your car. Bags can be hung to dry or tossed into the dryer if necessary. Remember to put your bags somewhere you will remember to take them with you for your next shopping trip, or take them directly to the car for storage. Congratulations on your step towards reducing plastic waste ! Images via Sean and Lauren , Pixabay , Laura Mitulla

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This unique eco home was designed to reduce energy use

July 12, 2019 by  
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Located in Toronto, Canada, this eco home by Craig Race Architecture was built entirely with sustainability in mind. The 1,800-square-foot house was a passion project for the architect, who wanted to use the space to test high-performing methods for the outer elements that facilitate climate control within the house. The highlight of the home is its high-quality insulation . Superior insulation in a structure design can maintain a dry, hot or cold temperature inside by creating a barrier between exterior and interior environments. In the Curvy Eco Home’s case, a majority of the insulation was installed as a continuous, unbroken layer on the outside of the building, which greatly reduced the number of localized areas with low thermal resistance. Related: This family-friendly home is a beacon of modern energy-efficient design in Calgary In combination with the insulation, the home is also almost completely airtight. According to the architects’ energy modeling, they were able to reduce the heating energy in the home by 40 percent by using $1,500 worth of tape to ensure exceptional airtightness. Not only will this dramatically reduce the owner’s electricity bill, but the home itself will be much more comfortable no matter the season. A large amount of glass on the south side of the home allows for passive heating. To reduce energy needs, an in-floor radiant system was installed with separate thermostats for either side of the home. This way, when the passive heating is being utilized on the south side, the owner can turn off half the electric heat, maintaining a comfortable temperature throughout. There is an air conditioner in the house for the hottest days of summer; however, it rarely needs to be used thanks to the skylight purposely placed to move air in and out of the house for natural ventilation. The curvature in the exterior design of the home was intended to follow the same pattern as the street and to maximize space. All of the materials used for cladding are either recycled and/or sustainable, including the cedar shingles. The roof, side walls and south wall were made with standing-seam galvalume panels, which are long-lasting and maintenance-free. The panels are also untreated — meaning no toxic paint or coating — and can be recycled in the future. Inside, the eco home features a rather minimalist design. Each room benefits from a bright, airy atmosphere thanks to natural light, white walls and light wood accents. The kitchen boasts marble countertops and backsplash, while the bedrooms earn extra charm from exposed wood ceiling beams. + Craig Race Architecture Via ArchDaily Photography via Robert Watson via Craig Race Architecture

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This unique eco home was designed to reduce energy use

A Mumbai industrial complex becomes a modern, mixed-use campus

May 29, 2019 by  
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In the Mumbai suburb of Vikhroli, Indian architectural firm Studio Lotus and GPL Design Studio have given a disused industrial complex new life as a modern, mixed-use center. Dubbed the Imagine Studio, the project serves as an experience center for ‘The Trees,’ a flagship adaptive reuse project for Godrej Properties Ltd. Imagine Studio provides new public and private functions while celebrating the site’s industrial heritage. Located on a one-acre site, the Imagine Studio complex spans 10,763 square feet and comprises a small cluster of renovated industrial buildings. The programming includes a marketing office, sample showcase flats for ‘The Trees,’ meeting spaces, an all-day cafe located within a repurposed Boiler Plant, a multipurpose gallery for cultural events and several outdoor spaces to market the client’s upcoming residential and commercial development properties. The public is also invited to experience the multifunctional space. “The intent was to illustrate an invigorated public realm as a microcosm of the [Trees’] master plan while preserving the essence of the site’s industrial heritage,” the architects said. “Existing buildings and its elements were recycled not only to underline their relevance in the bygone eras but also add meaning as important design punctuations in the narrative. The buzzing public spaces will eventually extend the edge of the gated development to include the community and city in its activities. Buildings of the Imagine Studio will ultimately get absorbed into the commercial hub of the development; continuing to stay on as key markers celebrating the rich traditions of the historic company while taking it strategically forward into its future.” Related: Architects to transform two old railway yards into eco parks in Milan The Imagine Studio is defined with an industrially inspired palette that includes concrete, Corten steel , brass and timber combined to follow the Japanese principles of “wabi sabi,” or a view of beauty in imperfection. The materials are deliberately left unfinished so as to develop a patina over time. Elements from the old buildings were also salvaged and reused, such as the old louvers of the primary industrial plant that were repurposed, coated in Corten steel and perforated with patterns. + Studio Lotus Images via Edmund Sumner, Dilip Bhatia, Studio Lotus, GPL Design Studio

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The Sparkle Paper Saver Notebook teaches kids about recycled paper and sustainable living

May 14, 2019 by  
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Australian-based company Paper Saver has been using its products to help recycle paper since 2015. Its original Paper Saver notebook has a plastic sleeve inside, where leftover scratch paper can be inserted and used as pages. When the pages are full, the paper can be easily taken out, recycled and replaced with new pieces. It’s an innovative idea that has since allowed tens of thousands of people alike reduce their paper waste, according to the site. Now, the company is supplementing its sleek, faux-leather notebook with a brightly-colored kids edition called the Sparkle Paper Saver, launched on Kickstarter in May 2019. Using the blank back sides of their used craft paper (or any other kind of paper), kids can make and re-make their own notebooks. Here’s how it works: 1. Collect a pile of the used papers (old printouts from work, spreadsheets, drafts, bills, itineraries, used coloring and activity sheets, school notices — the list is endless!). 2. Fold the papers in half. 3. Insert papers through the functionally-designed binder, which is made of spring steel to ease the paper insertion, yet durable and strong enough to secure all the paper. Related: Recycling can get kids free books in Southern Italy It’s an interactive way for kids to learn about recycling and reusing while inspiring their creativity at the same time. Along with the notebook, supporters of the Kickstarter campaign will also receive three Environmental Awareness Woven Stickers to decorate with, each designed with images conveying a different environmental message: a melting ice cream cone for climate change , a solar daisy for renewable energy and fish in a bottle for ocean pollution. The package also includes The Paper Saver Organizer, which can be inserted into the notebook binder and includes a pencil case, cardholders and a pocket. Apart from finding new ways to recycle, Paper Saver’s goal with the new kids’ edition is to expose children at a younger age to the state of our environment while giving them tools to make less wasteful choices. Hopefully, that will translate into more sustainable decisions as they grow up and become active members of society, because it arms them with the knowledge to apply what they learned with Paper Saver’s fun notebook to other aspects of life. + Paper Saver Images via Paper Saver

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The Sparkle Paper Saver Notebook teaches kids about recycled paper and sustainable living

Second Nature transforms abandoned fishing nets into 3D-printed seashells and bowls

May 2, 2019 by  
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Did you know that ghost nets are considered among the deadliest ocean debris in the world? The term refers not to haunting specters in the water, but discarded synthetic fishing nets that pollute the seabed and trap fish, mammals and other sea creatures. To raise awareness about these abandoned fishing nets and marine plastic pollution, Rotterdam-based research and design studio The New Raw has launched a new initiative called Second Nature that’s transforming the deadly ghost nets into 3D-printed seashells, bowls and other beautiful objects. The Second Nature project begins with the collection and sorting of the ghost gear depending on material type: nets, ropes, floaters or weights. The plastic waste is then processed in a grinder to create colorful and textured filament for the  3D printing projects. Second Nature currently operates out of a mobile lab located in the small Greek village of Galaxidi. Related: Ghost gear is haunting our oceans “ Plastic is a major contributor to the pollution of the seas,” said Panos Sakkas and Foteini Setaki, founders of The New Raw. “However, living in urban regions, we tend to forget about our dependence on the sea, which is crucial to our food and oxygen supply. With Second Nature, we want to give plastic a second life.” The project also draws inspiration from five edible species of Mediterranean seashells — Mitra Zonata, Pecten Jacobeaus, Pinna Nobilis, Strombus Persicus and Tonna Galea — that are currently protected due to their intensive fishing. In giving the ghost nets a second life, Second Nature has created shell-shaped ornaments as well as a series of colorful tableware as part of its ongoing research project promoting a circular economy . The team plans to launch a new collection of objects in summer 2019 and have documented their process in a 10-minute short film by award-winning filmmaker Daphne Matziaraki, viewable here . + The New Raw Images via The New Raw

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Second Nature transforms abandoned fishing nets into 3D-printed seashells and bowls

Mud and recycled materials make up this sustainable Kerala home

April 30, 2019 by  
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When Ramanujan Basha decided to build a modern, eco-friendly home in Kerala, he turned to Wallmakers , a local design practice with a decade’s worth of experience designing sustainable architecture. Unlike its more conventional neighbors, the house, dubbed Chirath, is built primarily of mud, recycled elements and natural materials . Passive solar principles were also applied to the design to let in light and much-needed natural ventilation for relief from Kerala’s tropical climate. In addition to wanting a sustainable home, the client told the architects that he wanted to steer clear of the traditional Kerala home system. To combat the heat and the monsoon rain, most conventional homes feature sloped roofs with thick overhangs that protect against the elements but also lead to an undesirably dark interior. Moreover, the client felt that the traditional architectural systems’ delineation of space promoted gender inequality. “Thus during the early days of the project, the client had made a point that the house should be a symbol of a new light, or a new outlook to our age-old systems and beliefs,” the architects said. “‘Chirath,’ which denotes a traditional lamp in Malayalam, is the name given by Mr. Ramanujan Basha for his house at Pala, Kerala. The client thus asked for a solution by throwing away the bad and utilizing the good. We decided to break the roof, split it open and let the light flow in, all while using waste and mud to build the house. This is the concept of Chirath.” Related: Solar-powered home stays naturally cool in Kerala’s tropical heat Clad in locally sourced earth, Chirath’s structural walls were constructed with a mix of cement, soil and recycled coarse aggregate for strength, while ferrocement was used for the roof and partition walls. Other recycled materials include waste wood repurposed to make furnishings, such as the beds and kitchen cabinets, as well as unwanted steel given new life as beautiful window grills and ventilators. Locally sourced tiles were assembled into the terracotta tile jali that lets in cooling breezes and light. For added passive cooling, the architects installed a pool in the living area that connects to a rainwater harvesting tank, which collects runoff for reuse in the home. + Wallmakers Photography by Anand Jaju, Jino and Midhu via Wallmakers

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Mud and recycled materials make up this sustainable Kerala home

A massive, egg-shaped bird observatory features reusable natural materials

April 25, 2019 by  
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Bird lovers in the Netherlands now have a new way of watching their feathered friends thanks to the recent opening of the Tij, a massive wooden bird observatory created with sustainability in mind. Designed by Amsterdam-based RAU Architects in collaboration with Ro&Ad Architects , the unique bird blind is in the shape of an egg in a nod to the thousands of large terns that nest nearby. To reduce environmental impact, the architects constructed the observatory primarily out of wood with modular construction so that the structure can be taken apart, moved and rebuilt in a different location. Opened this month, the Tij is part of the Droomfonds Haringvliet, a project started by six nature organizations and supported by the Droomfonds of the National Postcode Lottery to conserve and bring recreational opportunities to the Haringvliet, a large inlet of the North Sea in South Holland . The Tij was strategically located at the water’s edge to overlook spectacular nature views and the rich bird life, including the terns’ nesting grounds on the small islands off the coast of Scheelhoek. “Thanks to its complete rebuilding capabilities, modularity and materialization, it fully meets all the key points for a sustainable structure with circular potential,” explained Thomas Rau, chief architect of Tij, which was named in reference to the tide and the egg-shaped design. “By building everything in such a way that everything can be taken apart without losing any of its value, we ensure that the strain on the ecosystem is minimal. The shape of the observatory is extra special, mimicking the egg of the large tern. Nature itself produced this shape.” Related: IKEA teams up with London artists to upcycle old furniture into funky abodes for birds, bees and bats The parametrically designed bird observatory is built mainly of natural materials . The large wood panels are made by a file-to-factory Zollinger construction while the slim poles are chestnut. The facade is covered with local reeds sourced from the Scheelhoek nature reserve and pre-used bulkheads were repurposed into the tunnel to the observatory. In case of rising water levels, the lower portion of the bird observatory can be safely submerged under water without sustaining damage; the bottom part of the “egg” is built of Accoya wooden beams and the floor is made from wood and concrete. + RAU Architects Photography by Katja Effting via RAU Architects

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A massive, egg-shaped bird observatory features reusable natural materials

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