Doctors orders: 2 hours in nature boosts mental health, study says

June 17, 2019 by  
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According to British researchers, only two hours of sitting in nature per week could have measurable benefits on mental health. This is the first study to examine exactly how long people should spend in the natural environment to feel a positive impact. The researchers believe that with further confirmation, the two hour threshold could be added to similar health recommendations, such as five fruits and vegetables per day or 150 minutes of exercise per week. The study was published in Scientific Reports and used data from Natural England , the largest data set on the topic. The researchers analyzed more than 20,000 people in England to assess their physical activity from the previous week, their general health and their level of satisfaction with life. Their findings showed that people who had spent at least two hours in nature indicated a significant shift away from dissatisfaction — just 14 percent felt their health was poor after spending time in nature compared to 25 percent of other participants who did not spend time in nature but reported poor health. The researchers did not notice any significant changes among those who had spent more than two hours outside and therefore reached the conclusion that two hours is the recommended duration. Related: How forest bathing can profoundly improve your health and well-being “It’s fascinating to see this link between exposure to nature and better health and well-being,” said professor Helen Stokes-Lampard from the Royal College of General Practitioners. “This research makes a strong case for people to get out and about in more natural environments.” The findings held true across the diverse study participants, irrelevant of wealth, disabilities, illness or urban location. The findings also revealed that the nature benefits are not necessarily tied to physical exercise , and that there is a benefit to spending time in nature, even if it is just sitting on a park bench. + Scientific Reports Via The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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Doctors orders: 2 hours in nature boosts mental health, study says

Ending animal exploitation in tourism with World Animal Protection

June 13, 2019 by  
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World Animal Protection works internationally to end the suffering of animals and urge all people to do more to protect our furred, feathered and scaly friends. World Animal Protection (formerly World Society for the Protection of Animals) works on many fronts— including wild animals, farmed animals and those suddenly displaced by disasters. Ontario-based campaign director Melissa Matlow talked to Inhabitat about World Animal Protection’s work to end the exploitation of animals in the name of tourism. Inhabitat: How and when did World Animal Protection first get involved with educating tour operators about animal attractions? Melissa Matlow: World Animal Protection has been campaigning to protect wild animals that are suffering for tourism for several years now. More than 20 years ago we started working with local partners to bring an end to bear dancing in Greece, Turkey and India, and bear baiting in Pakistan. We have been working to protect the welfare of elephants in Asia since 2005. In 2015, we launched the Wildlife Not Entertainers campaign globally and working to influence the tourism industry became one of the organization’s priority campaigns. We decided to shine a spotlight on the problem of elephant riding first because it is one of the cruelest activities and tourist demand is fueling the poaching of elephants from the wild. In 2017 we released our Taken for a Ride Report , which reviewed the welfare of nearly 3,000 elephants used for tourism in 220 tourist venues in six countries (Thailand, India, Nepal, Laos, Sri Lanka and Cambodia). We discovered that the majority of these elephants (77 percent) were living in grossly substandard conditions. Related: Conservationists in Florida are making the ultimate effort to protect manatees from tourism Inhabitat: Can you tell me a little bit about the TripAdvisor campaign? Matlow: We showed TripAdvisor our research into the animal welfare and conservation impacts of Wildlife Tourism Attractions (WTA) and how wildlife lovers were unknowingly causing harm to animals by participating in these activities. Tourists were seeing and buying tickets to cruel attractions that offer elephant rides and tiger selfies on TripAdvisor and leaving positive reviews. After more than half a million people joined our campaign and signed our petition asking TripAdvisor to stop selling cruel attractions, they listened and announced in 2016 their commitment to stop selling some problematic attractions and set up an educational portal for people to learn more. Inhabitat:  What other tour operators and companies has World Animal Protection worked closely with?                    Matlow:  World Animal Protection has worked with the Travel Corporation, G Adventures, Intrepid, World Expeditions and many other tour operators to put an end to elephant riding and other forms of wildlife entertainment. Together we formed the Coalition for Ethical Wildlife Tourism to shift tourist demand towards humane and sustainable alternatives. Inhabitat:  What have been some of your biggest wins? Matlow:  We are now working with some of the largest travel companies in the world to put an end to elephant riding and other forms of wildlife entertainment. More than 200 tour operators have signed our pledge committing to never offer, sell or promote elephant rides and shows. After more than half a million people signed our petition and joined our movement, TripAdvisor committed to stop selling tickets to cruel attractions. Expedia soon followed suit and in 2017 we convinced Instagram to educate its users of the cruelty that happens behind the scenes for wildlife selfies. Inhabitat:  What are still the biggest challenges? Matlow: We need to reach the right people— wildlife lovers who are unknowingly causing harm by participating in wildlife entertainment activities and the travel companies who sell them tickets. One of our challenges is to debunk the many myths that these tourists and travel companies are commonly subjected to. Many tourist attractions dupe people into thinking they are protecting the animals and serving some kind of conservation and education benefit but nothing could be further from the truth. Tourists don’t realize that these attractions are commercially breeding and trading wild animals for the sole purpose of entertaining them. The demand is fueling the capture of wild animals from the wild. The animals suffer every day in small tanks and cages to entertain tourists and won’t ever be released into the wild. Tourists aren’t learning about how to keep the animals in the wild, where they belong. If anything, they are being desensitized to their suffering in captivity and learning that it is okay to get up close to them to feed them, pet them and take wildlife selfies. Inhabitat: What are the most important things for tourists to keep in mind when evaluating animal attractions? Matlow: Our simple rule of thumb is— if you can ride it, hug it or take a selfie with a wild animal, chances are it is cruel, so don’t do it. The best place to see wild animals is in the wild from a respectful distance. People can download our Animal-Friendly Travel Pocket Guide and visit our website to learn more about the work we do to encourage animal-friendly tourism and to protect the welfare of animals globally. +World Animal Protection Images via World Animal Protection

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Ending animal exploitation in tourism with World Animal Protection

Two thirds of world’s rivers are contaminated with drugs

May 30, 2019 by  
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A large study of the world’s rivers found that out of 711 sites tested, the majority are dangerously contaminated with antibiotics. The study , conducted by the University of York, is the largest of its kind and involved a team of international scientists testing for water pollution. Last month, British Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sally Davies argued that the rising prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacteria is just as much an existential crisis as climate change and called on widespread awareness, protest and action. According to the United Nations , antibiotic resistant bacteria could be responsible for 10 million deaths by 2050. This most recent study confirms that environmental bacteria are a major pathway to resistance among bacteria, with over 65 percent of all sites recorded with dangerous levels of antibiotics. The prevalence of bacteria in rivers and ecosystems allows bacteria to develop immunity to the drugs over time, rendering them useless for human saving purposes. Related: Supreme Court will make historic Clean Water Act ruling “It’s quite scary and depressing. We could have large parts of the environment that have got antibiotics at levels high enough to affect resistance,” said Alistair Boxall, who co-led the study. Drugs enter waterways primarily through human and animal waste that contain the antibiotics and cause water pollution. In addition to health care, antibiotic use is alarmingly high in the farming industry. Waste can enter directly into waterways in low-income countries, or through leaks in wastewater facilities. In some cases, drug manufacturing sites might also leak or illegally dump waste into watersheds. According to the study, the Danube river in Austria contained clarithromycin at four times the level considered safe, while the Thames river contained ciprofloacin at three times the safe level. In Bangladesh a river was reported to be the most severe site, with metronidazole at 300 times the safe level. The researchers plan to follow their study with further research on how the antibiotic prevalence is further contaminating waters and affecting fish and wildlife . Via The Guardian Image via pxhere

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Two thirds of world’s rivers are contaminated with drugs

Last male Sumatran rhino in Malaysia dies

May 29, 2019 by  
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On Monday, Malaysian authorities reported that the last male Sumatran rhino died in a nature reserve on Borneo island. Currently, there is only one female from the same species remaining in Malaysia. The male, Tam, is thought to have died from old age after he was discovered on a palm oil plantation. Efforts to breed Tam with females of the same species were unsuccessful. Related: Koalas declared functionally extinct Sumatran rhinos are one of five rhino species , and only one of three found in Asia. At their peak, Sumatran rhinos could be found in Bhutan, India, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos. They are the smallest rhino species in the world. Experts estimate that between 30 and 100 remain, with a few also living in captivity in Indonesia, and the U.S. Like most species on the brink of extinction , rhinos have suffered from deforestation and loss of habitat. Logging, roads, urban development, farms and palm oil plantations have carved up their habitat. According to experts, the fragmentation of natural spaces is the primary threat to their population. Small reserves and wild spaces are simply not enough. Disconnected populations also make it difficult for the solitary creatures to find mates and reproduce. “With logging, with roads for development, the patches of forest available are shrinking. Frankly it’s hard for them to find each other to mate and breed successfully,” said Cathy Dean of Save the Rhinos International. In addition, rhinos are frequently poached for their horns and other medicinal purposes. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists Sumatran rhinos as critically endangered , however Save the Rhino International believes there may still be hope for the species. According to their research, only about 20 rhinos could still provide enough genetic diversity to save them from extinction if they are able to successfully mate. Via BBC Image via Charles W. Harden

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Last male Sumatran rhino in Malaysia dies

Last male Sumatran rhino in Malaysia dies

May 29, 2019 by  
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On Monday, Malaysian authorities reported that the last male Sumatran rhino died in a nature reserve on Borneo island. Currently, there is only one female from the same species remaining in Malaysia. The male, Tam, is thought to have died from old age after he was discovered on a palm oil plantation. Efforts to breed Tam with females of the same species were unsuccessful. Related: Koalas declared functionally extinct Sumatran rhinos are one of five rhino species , and only one of three found in Asia. At their peak, Sumatran rhinos could be found in Bhutan, India, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos. They are the smallest rhino species in the world. Experts estimate that between 30 and 100 remain, with a few also living in captivity in Indonesia, and the U.S. Like most species on the brink of extinction , rhinos have suffered from deforestation and loss of habitat. Logging, roads, urban development, farms and palm oil plantations have carved up their habitat. According to experts, the fragmentation of natural spaces is the primary threat to their population. Small reserves and wild spaces are simply not enough. Disconnected populations also make it difficult for the solitary creatures to find mates and reproduce. “With logging, with roads for development, the patches of forest available are shrinking. Frankly it’s hard for them to find each other to mate and breed successfully,” said Cathy Dean of Save the Rhinos International. In addition, rhinos are frequently poached for their horns and other medicinal purposes. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists Sumatran rhinos as critically endangered , however Save the Rhino International believes there may still be hope for the species. According to their research, only about 20 rhinos could still provide enough genetic diversity to save them from extinction if they are able to successfully mate. Via BBC Image via Charles W. Harden

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Last male Sumatran rhino in Malaysia dies

Young couple build their own tiny home to avoid sky-high housing prices in the Bay Area

May 29, 2019 by  
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The San Francisco Bay Area is notoriously expensive for both renters and buyers. But one enterprising young couple has found a way to live in the beautiful city on their own terms by building their very own tiny home . Nicolette and Michael spent just seven months constructing their dream home. Although it is only 300 square feet, it comes complete with a sleeping loft, a full kitchen and a little reading nook for the studious couple. The young couple was inspired to build their own home for a number of reasons. With Michael being a full-time student at CAL, they had to stay in the Bay Area; however, after realizing how expensive the area is, they decided to enjoy the financial freedom that comes with building their own tiny home. Additionally, they were inspired to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle where they could reduce their footprint on the planet. Related: This tiny home allows a family of 3 to go off the grid in Maui As they set out on their tiny home journey, the amateur — but ambitious — builders decided to do most of the work themselves, accepting help from family and friends along they way. Built on a 28-foot long trailer, the home is clad in metal and wood siding with plenty of windows that flood the interior with natural light . According to Nicolette, the interior design was inspired by an industrial farmhouse aesthetic. The home is bright and airy with white walls and high ceilings. To the left, the living room is compact but comfortable with a loveseat that pulls out into a futon. A beautiful silicon-gel fireplace keeps the space warm and cozy during the winter months. The main wall is clad in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that provide plenty of storage space. At the heart of the couple’s tiny home design is a sweet little reading nook that was built onto the end of the structure, past the main living area. With two large windows that open, this space is perfect for snuggling up with a good book or creating artwork. Between the living space and the kitchen, the couple installed a work/dining space consisting of two desks under a wall of windows. On the other side of the space is a compact metal kitchen area along with an oven with a four-burner stove and even a full-size refrigerator. A barn-yard door separates the living space from the bathroom, which has a full shower and vanity along with a composting toilet . Above the kitchen space is the sleeping loft accessible by a metal ladder. White shiplap walls along with two horizontal windows turn the tiny space into a soothing oasis. + Nicolette Notes Via Apartment Therapy Images via Nicolette and Michael

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Young couple build their own tiny home to avoid sky-high housing prices in the Bay Area

Young couple build their own tiny home to avoid sky-high housing prices in the Bay Area

May 29, 2019 by  
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The San Francisco Bay Area is notoriously expensive for both renters and buyers. But one enterprising young couple has found a way to live in the beautiful city on their own terms by building their very own tiny home . Nicolette and Michael spent just seven months constructing their dream home. Although it is only 300 square feet, it comes complete with a sleeping loft, a full kitchen and a little reading nook for the studious couple. The young couple was inspired to build their own home for a number of reasons. With Michael being a full-time student at CAL, they had to stay in the Bay Area; however, after realizing how expensive the area is, they decided to enjoy the financial freedom that comes with building their own tiny home. Additionally, they were inspired to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle where they could reduce their footprint on the planet. Related: This tiny home allows a family of 3 to go off the grid in Maui As they set out on their tiny home journey, the amateur — but ambitious — builders decided to do most of the work themselves, accepting help from family and friends along they way. Built on a 28-foot long trailer, the home is clad in metal and wood siding with plenty of windows that flood the interior with natural light . According to Nicolette, the interior design was inspired by an industrial farmhouse aesthetic. The home is bright and airy with white walls and high ceilings. To the left, the living room is compact but comfortable with a loveseat that pulls out into a futon. A beautiful silicon-gel fireplace keeps the space warm and cozy during the winter months. The main wall is clad in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that provide plenty of storage space. At the heart of the couple’s tiny home design is a sweet little reading nook that was built onto the end of the structure, past the main living area. With two large windows that open, this space is perfect for snuggling up with a good book or creating artwork. Between the living space and the kitchen, the couple installed a work/dining space consisting of two desks under a wall of windows. On the other side of the space is a compact metal kitchen area along with an oven with a four-burner stove and even a full-size refrigerator. A barn-yard door separates the living space from the bathroom, which has a full shower and vanity along with a composting toilet . Above the kitchen space is the sleeping loft accessible by a metal ladder. White shiplap walls along with two horizontal windows turn the tiny space into a soothing oasis. + Nicolette Notes Via Apartment Therapy Images via Nicolette and Michael

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Young couple build their own tiny home to avoid sky-high housing prices in the Bay Area

Even the most remote islands are victims of plastic pollution

May 17, 2019 by  
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Plastic hasn’t taken much more than a century to conquer the entire world. Since plastic’s invention in 1907, it has infiltrated even the most remote island chains, according to a new study by marine biologist Jennifer Lavers and her associates. When the researchers visited the Cocos Keeling Islands — 6 square miles of land 1,300 miles off Australia’s northwest coast — they found a staggering accumulation of plastic waste . Because nearly no one lives on the islands, the plastic bags, straws , cutlery, 373,000 toothbrushes and 975,000 shoes must have floated there. “So, more than 414 million pieces of plastic debris are estimated to be currently sitting on the Cocos Keeling Islands, weighing a remarkable 238 tons,” Lavers said in an NPR report . Lavers is a research scientist at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania. Related: Ocean explorer finds plastic waste during world’s deepest dive Lavers and her research team studied seven of the 27 islands, mostly in 2017. They marked off transects of the beaches , then counted the plastic pollution inside the transects. Their estimated total is based on multiplying the plastic waste found in each transect by the total beach area of the Cocos Keeling Islands. But what surprised Lavers most was how much plastic pollution was buried beneath the sand. Her team dug four inches down. “What was really quite amazing was that the deeper we went, the more plastic we were actually finding,” she said. The sun’s heat breaks down plastic waste sitting on the sand’s surface, then waves drive tiny plastic pieces into the sand. “It’s the little stuff that’s perfectly bite-sized,” Lavers said. “The stuff that fish and squid and birds and even turtles can eat.” There’s not a lot of good news in Lavers’ study , which was published in the journal Nature. As the authors point out in their introduction, global plastic production is increasing exponentially, with about 40 percent of items entering the waste stream after a single use . “Unfortunately, unless drastic steps are taken, the numbers and challenges will only grow, with the quantity of waste entering the ocean predicted to increase ten-fold by 2025,” the study warned. + Nature Via NPR Image via Jennifer Lavers

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Even the most remote islands are victims of plastic pollution

Sublime net-positive energy farmhouse pays homage to the local vernacular

May 17, 2019 by  
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These days, homes are being constructed with any number of sustainable features, but this modern farmhouse in Lincoln, Massachusetts is a veritable powerhouse of energy efficiency wrapped up in one incredibly gorgeous package. Designed by ZeroEnergy Design and constructed by  Thoughtforms , the 2,800-square-foot home drew inspiration from traditional farmhouses found throughout the area. However, the home’s pitched roof and homey interior conceal an awe-inspiring system of energy efficiency that enables the LEED Platinum design to achieve an impressive net-positive energy performance. Built on 1.8 ares of farmland, the beautiful design pays homage to Lincoln’s agrarian roots with a few modern touches added. The design consists of the main home with an adjacent garage, which is attached to the main living space via a covered walkway. Clad in cedar siding, the farmhouse holds court in the middle of a large green field surrounded by a fruit orchard. Related: LEED Platinum home generates net-positive energy in Oregon Reminiscent of the area’s traditional farmhouses, both structures feature pitched roofs. The main roof is clad in a 13.1kW array of solar panels that generates enough energy for the four-bedroom home and then some. According to the architects, the farmhouse actually produces 42 percent more electricity than it consumes, effectively making it a net-positive energy building. The living space is exceptionally bright and airy with an open concept layout and plenty of communal areas for the family to enjoy. Once again, the beautiful design hides a sophisticated system of energy-efficient features made possible by a very tight envelope. Using dense-packed cellulose and a continuous rigid insulation, the home features ultra-thick walls and roofs, eliminating any thermal bridging. High-performance, triple-glazed windows add to the building’s super-insulated envelope . In fact, after testing, the home has been found to be one of the tightest in the country. In addition to the impressive efficiency and gorgeous living space, the design also concentrated on the exterior landscape . Before construction, the lot was cleared of any invasive species and replanted with apple, pear, peach and cherry trees. A rainwater catchment system is planned in the future and will be used to collect run-off from the roof to irrigate the gardens and landscaping. + Zero Energy Design + Thoughtforms Via Zero Energy Photography by Chuck Choi via Zero Energy Design  

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Sublime net-positive energy farmhouse pays homage to the local vernacular

Labour Party launches solar panel program for 1.75M homes

May 17, 2019 by  
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Britain’s Labour Party has announced a major new green program, pledging to install solar panels on up to 1.75 million government-subsidized and low-income houses. In what has been called the start of a U.K. version of America’s Green New Deal , the goal of the project is to radically address climate change while creating green jobs. The Labour Party will provide free solar panels to one million government-subsidized homes and offer grants and interest-free loans for panels on up to 750,000 additional low-income homes. The panels will be enough to power the homes, providing residents with free electricity and savings of approximately $150 USD per year. Any additional electricity produced from the panels will return to the national grid, which the party says will become publicly owned by local authorities. The program will also provide nearly 17,000 jobs in the renewable energy  industry. Related: Britain celebrates first week without coal power since 1882 When completed, the 1.75 million solar-powered homes will reduce electricity-related carbon emissions by 7.1 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is equivalent to taking four million cars off the road. Like the Green New Deal, the Labour Party’s green revolution promises to benefit low-income people and spur economic growth. This so-called “just transition” provides democratic access to energy sources at affordable prices as well as support for current employees of carbon-emitting industries to gain skills in green industries like renewable energy and technology . The program is led by Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, who said , “By focusing on low-income households, we will reduce fuel poverty and increase support for renewable energy. Social justice and climate justice as one. Environmental destruction and inequality not only can, but must be tackled at the same time.” Critics of the program, however, argue that solar panels on private residences are a distraction from addressing and regulating large-scale carbon polluters . Via The Guardian Image via Pixabay

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Labour Party launches solar panel program for 1.75M homes

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