LA City Council unanimously agrees to ban the sale of fur

September 25, 2018 by  
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The Los Angeles City Council made a historic vote last week by unanimously agreeing to ban the sale of fur. The meeting resulted in a direct order to the L.A. City Attorney, who is responsible for penning the formal policy to outline the new law. The document is expected to surface sometime next month and will effectively ban fur beginning two years from the date of its signage. When completed, this process will result in L.A. being the largest city in the U.S. to ban the sale of fur clothing and accessories. “This is L.A. taking a stand and saying we will no longer be complicit in the inhumane and vile fur trade that’s been going on for years,” council member Bob Blumenfield said. Related: British Fashion Council commits to a fur-free London Fashion Week Some skeptics of the policy raised eyebrows, wondering how a city like L.A. that enjoys average temperatures of 75 degrees plans to make a major impact on the fur market. “I don’t think it’s happening in Moscow,” said P.J. Smith, the senior manager of fashion policy at the Humane Society. While colder cities are not expected to jump on the band wagon any time soon, the council’s initiative is definitely sparking encouragement for other cities and states in the U.S. to adopt the same measures. Blumenfield, the council member responsible for initiating the motion, explained, “We’re trying to set an example for the rest of the state and the rest of the country.” Smith agreed that as the second largest city in the U.S. — also recognized as an epicenter of global fashion — the influence that L.A. would have over other cities is extraordinary. Top international fashion houses have also pledged their commitment to the no-fur campaign, along with several other cities and countries. Smith described his experience with this domino effect saying, “I’ve been doing this job for about 10 years, and if you would have told me just two years ago that Gucci, Versace, Burberry, InStyle magazine, London Fashion Week, Norway, the Netherlands, São Paulo would be going fur-free, I wouldn’t have believed you, but it’s happening.” Related: Burberry vows to stop burning unsold clothes and using real fur Smith attributed the back-to-back bans to a little friendly competition between cities. There is already a handful of cities that have adopted anti-fur laws in California , for instance. L.A. will be joining a list that includes San Francisco and West Hollywood, “to see who’s the most compassionate city out there,” Smith explained. “San Francisco’s colder, and when San Francisco banned fur sales, it was considered the compassion capital. Then you have L.A. turning around and claiming that title back.” Via New York Times Image via Pete Bellis

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LA City Council unanimously agrees to ban the sale of fur

13 shipping containers are reborn as a new restaurant on Treasure Island

August 20, 2018 by  
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On the heart of San Francisco’s man-made Treasure Island, a chic restaurant has popped up inside a series of recycled shipping containers. In a nod to the city’s history as a major port, local design firm Mavrik Studio crafted the new eatery — named Mersea after an Old English word meaning “island oasis” — out of 13 shipping containers and a variety of other materials found on the island, such as reclaimed wood. The decision to use cargotecture was also a practical one given the uncertainty of development on Treasure Island; the restaurant can be disassembled and moved when needed. A total of 13  shipping containers have been repurposed to create Mersea’s indoor bar and dining space that seats 60 people, an MRDK military-grade kitchen, bathrooms and a private dining area. Floor-to-ceiling windows flood the restaurant with natural light and frame stunning views of the city skyline on clear days. Mersea also includes a golf putting green and bocce court. Environmental sustainability and recycling are key parts of the restaurant design. In addition to the repurposed shipping containers, the design team upcycled pallets and used reclaimed wood furniture pieces to create new seating. The herb garden is also made from recycled pallets. In homage to the old Treasure Island Bowling Alley, artist and carpenter Joe Wrye and executive chef Parke Ulrich constructed two communal tables from the former maple bowling alley lanes. Related: German company converts old shipping containers into gorgeous living spaces Continuing the theme of recycling , the restaurant also teamed up with famous New York-based street artist Tom Bob, who furnished Mersea with unique and cartoonish artworks made from common and oft-overlooked street infrastructure elements like pipes, poles, metal grates and gas meters. The industrial installations — such as the jailbird constructed from pipes in reference to Alcatraz Island, which can be seen from the restaurant — complement Mersea’s light-filled, industrial setting. + Mersea Images by Sarah Chorey

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13 shipping containers are reborn as a new restaurant on Treasure Island

Agtech start-up Plenty plans to grow hydroponic peaches

March 19, 2018 by  
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San Francisco -based start-up Plenty is expanding the possibilities of what can be grown on indoor farms, with its sights set on peaches. Plenty uses a hydroponic growing system, which feeds crops through a steady flow of nutrient-rich water, to grow high-quality, local produce. This kind of system is typically used to grow annual crops, not perennial trees like peaches. Nonetheless, Plenty’s success has the company confident that it can break new ground. “[Plenty’s kale] is nothing like the tough, bitter leaf we’re used to,” Plenty CEO  Matt Barnard proudly stated to Wired . “It’s sweet and velvety. People say we should find another name for it.” Plenty grows its crops indoors thanks to light supplies by LEDs and vertically-aligned growing spaces. This allows for greater crop density, which best serves the urban environment in which Plenty farms. In addition to its environmental benefits, Plenty’s local harvest tastes better too. “Right now, produce often has to travel 3,000 miles from the farm to consumer,” said Barnard, “which is why so many farms grow iceberg lettuce , which tastes of nothing. Our salads are spicy and citrusy and sweet at the same time. People are amazed they can eat it without salad dressing.” Related: 6 places where soil-less farming is revolutionizing how we grow food The primary obstacle to greater success for operations like Plenty is cost. “Anyone can buy some shelves, some lights, irrigation,” said Barnard. “The challenge is to get your produce down from $40 per pound to $1. At the moment, for example, we have an expensive peach.” Plenty plans to incorporate data and machine learning capabilities into the system, so as to allow for algorithmic alterations based on plant needs. “Now we are having what I like to [call] a ‘Google moment,’” explained Barnard. “Just like Google benefited from the simultaneous combination of improved technology, better algorithms and masses of data, we are seeing the same.” Via Wired Images via Plenty and Depositphotos

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Agtech start-up Plenty plans to grow hydroponic peaches

Airbus wants to harpoon a satellite and bring it back to Earth

March 19, 2018 by  
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The aeronautics company Airbus is currently testing a three-foot harpoon they hope will catch the nonfunctional satellite Envisat and pull it back to Earth. This particular proposal may also address the rising problem of space debris. “If we can design a harpoon that can cope with Envisat, then it should be able to cope with all other types of spacecraft including the many rocket upper-stages that remain in orbit,” project engineer Alastair Wayman told the BBC . Prior to launch, the harpoons are being tested by being shot at high speeds into various materials that are used to build satellites. “The harpoon goes through these panels like a hot knife through butter ,” said Wayman. “Once the tip is inside, it has a set of barbs that open up and stop the harpoon from coming back out. We’d then de-tumble the satellite with a tether on the other end.” In the end, the ancient technology of the harpoon may prove more effective than robotic arms in space. “Many of these targets will be tumbling and if you were to use a robotic arm, say, that involves a lot of quite complex motions to follow your target,” explained Wayman.”Whereas, with the harpoon, all you have to do is sit a distance away, wait for the target to rotate underneath you, and at the right moment fire your harpoon. And because it’s a really quick event, it takes out a lot of the complexity.” Related: Space Scientists Develop Harpoon System to Capture Rogue Satellites and Clean up Space Junk Prior to its sudden death in 2012, Envisat, operated by the European Space Agency (ESA), was the world’s largest civilian Earth observation satellite. The ESA hopes to bring it back home, starting with a scaled-down harpoon expedition known as the RemoveDEBRIS Mission. The RemoveDEBRIS demo satellite will bring its own debris into space, then attempt to catch it. This experiment will also test a net-based system. Via BBC Images via European Space Agency and  RemoveDEBRIS Mission

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Airbus wants to harpoon a satellite and bring it back to Earth

Scientists create protein-packed mats that fight pollution

March 19, 2018 by  
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Researchers have created a mat composed of active proteins that have the ability to absorb chemical pollution. In a study published in Science , scientists document how they successfully extracted an active protein from a cell without killing the former — a breakthrough that could pave the way to a new class of pollution-fighting technology. “We think we’ve cracked the code for interfacing natural and synthetic systems,” study author and professor at the University of California , Berkeley Ting Xu told Futurity . Previous attempts to remove proteins from their native environments without harming or killing them were marked by limited progress. The research team observed trends in sequences and surfaces before developing a synthetic polymer that is ideal for hosting proteins. “Proteins have very well-defined statistical pattern, so if you can mimic that pattern, then you can marry the synthetic and natural systems, which allows us to make these materials,” study first author  Brian Panganiban told Futurity . The team conducted advanced molecular simulations to ensure their polymer would effectively serve the protein’s needs. Related: Researchers shocked to discover protein that conducts electricity The experiment received funding from the United States Department of Defense, which is specifically interested in the technology’s bio-remediation potential against chemical pollution . The end result is capable of degrading insecticides and weaponized chemicals. Given its effectiveness, this bio-technology may soon be used in war zones and other contaminated areas to clean-up the mess that humanity has made. This technology can also be customized to meet the needs of a particular mess. Xu believes that his team’s approach could be used with other enzymes, which could someday lead to the creation of portable chemistry labs capable of responding effectively in the field to varied environmental challenges. Via Futurity Images via Deposit Photos , Christopher DelRe and Charley Huang/UC Berkeley

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Federal court orders first hearing on the science of climate change

March 8, 2018 by  
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Lawyers will present climate change science in what could be the first-ever court hearing in the United States on the topic, McClatchy Washington Bureau reported . Lawyers for BP , Exxon , Chevron , and other oil companies will go up against lawyers for the California cities of Oakland and San Francisco after United States District Judge William Alsup ordered “a two-part tutorial on the subject of global warming and climate change .” Sabin Center for Climate Change Law executive director Michael Burger told McClatchy, “This will be the closest that we have seen to a trial on climate science in the United States, to date.” San Francisco and Oakland filed lawsuits against BP, Exxon, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Royal Dutch Shell “alleging that the Big Oil giants are responsible for the cities’ costs of protecting themselves from a global warming-induced sea level rise , including expenses to construct seawalls to protect the two cities’ more than five million residents,” according to Hagens Berman , the firm representing the California cities. In late February, Alsup ordered the tutorial, which is to take place on March 21. Related: This lawyer wants Big Oil to pay for climate change Experts on both sides said they hadn’t heard of a call like this before. Physicist Steven Koonin, who served as an Energy Department Under Secretary for Science under Barack Obama and also penned a piece for the Wall Street Journal titled “ Climate Science Is Not Settled ,” told McClatchy, “I don’t know of any judge who has asked for a tutorial like this. I think it is a great idea. Anybody having to make a decision about climate science needs to understand the full spectrum of what we know and what we don’t know.” The first part of the tutorial will cover “the history of the scientific study of climate change;” each side will have an hour to delve into “scientific inquiry into the formation and melting of the ice ages , periods of historical cooling and warming, smog , ozone , nuclear winter, volcanoes , and global warming.” The second part, for which each side again has one hour, will cover “the best science now available” regarding global warming, sea rise, coastal flooding, and glacier melt. + United States District Court for the Northern District of California Via McClatchy Washington Bureau Images via Jeff Head on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Gigantic murals of local flora sprout on buildings around the world

February 13, 2018 by  
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These larger-than-life plant murals bring buildings back to nature – and they’re popping up all over the world. Muralist Mona Caron creates these intricate artworks by selecting plants native to each city and teaming up with local and international organizations to bring them to life, while also bringing a variety of social and environmental causes to public attention. The San Francisco -based artist selects plants that she finds in each city where she paints and uses them as symbolic references to local history and social issues. Her work both celebrates nature and examines current issues. She describes her Weeds series as a tribute to the resilience of all those beings who no one made room for, were not part of the plan, and yet keep coming back, pushing through and rising up. Related: Artists are turning the U.S.-Mexico border fence into the world’s longest peace-themed mural “Weeds break through even the hardest cement, the most seemingly invincible constraints, reconnecting earth to sky, like life to its dreams,” Caron explains. “It’s happening everywhere at the margins of things, we’re just not paying attention.” + Mona Caron Via This is Colossal

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Gigantic murals of local flora sprout on buildings around the world

Clothing company removes 1,000,000 pounds of trash from global waters

February 13, 2018 by  
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Fast fashion is a dirty business, and the apparel industry is considered one of the world’s most toxic, second only to the oil industry when it comes to pollution. Some big labels are keen to tout their greenwashed textiles or “responsible” material sourcing, but few have taken measures to reduce waste. Enter  United By Blue , a sustainable fashion line that not only uses eco-friendly materials in the manufacturing of its products but has made a commitment to removing one pound of trash from global oceans and waterways for every product sold. The model, which was introduced in 2010, has so far led to the removal of 1,039,456 pounds of trash across 27 states—and counting. The initiative is wholly backed by United by Blue’s employees and like-minded volunteers looking to make a difference. Over 200 cleanups have been organized thus far, and everything from  plastic bottles , tires, appliances, to abandoned trucks have been scooped out of rivers, streams, creeks, and beaches. What’s more, United by Blue has budgeted time, resources, and money into its business plan for cleanups, and employees are paid for their contributions. Related: Billions of pieces of plastic trash are sickening the world’s coral reefs As it stands, eight million tons of plastic enter oceans each year with plastic bottles accounting for 1.5 million tons. There is almost no part of the world that has been untouched by the pollution , which endangers sea life and ends up in our food when we consume seafood that has unwittingly ingested plastic. Even scarier, in a recent study , researchers looked at more than 124,000 corals from 159 reefs in Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, and Australia, and found that plastic has ravaged the reefs. “We came across chairs, chip wrappers, Q-tips, garbage bags, water bottles, old nappies,” Joleah Lamb, a marine disease ecologist at Cornell University and lead author of the study, told the Atlantic . “Everything you see on the beach is probably lying on the reef.” Nearly 90 percent of corals that come into contact with plastic will get some sort of infection. Lamb and her colleagues reported that almost every time they lifted a piece of plastic shrouding coral, the coral was riddled with disease. Here’s hoping that more clothing companies follow United By Blue’s model so we can end this scourge once and for all. + United by Blue Via Treehugger

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Clothing company removes 1,000,000 pounds of trash from global waters

Airbnb’s swanky new San Francisco office has a sky boat, a castle and 16 international "neighborhoods"

November 3, 2017 by  
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Airbnb may offer thousands of luxury lodgings around the world, but employees won’t want to leave the rental sharing company’s swanky new San Francisco headquarters. Located at 999 Brannan Street,  Airbnb’s own Environments Team and WRNS Studio  designed 150,000 square feet of healthy, light-filled working space with plenty of whimsical flare like a sky boat, a castle and themed floors that represent the company’s international presence. The design of 999 Brannan – just mere steps from its existing San Fran headquarters – began by removing every non-structural element in the corner lot building, essentially creating a massive blank canvas. By scrapping the interior walls and hallways, the focus was put on flooding the interior space with as much natural light as possible. The huge atrium is a light-filled space with a curvaceous stairwell that winds up through the levels. A long mezzanine leads to the various offices as well as think spaces and conference rooms. Related: Airbnb’s brand new Paris office is a loft-like space that feels like home For design guidance, the teams concentrated on the company ethos of “Belong Anywhere” as well as the company’s new feature, Airbnb Trips, which offers users custom travel experiences designed and led by locals around the world. To highlight the new service and the company’s world-wide presence, international design elements were used on every floor. For example, each cafe has been styled according to a different city, such as Buenos Aires, Kyoto, Jaipur, and Amsterdam. The building’s work spaces are divided into 16 “neighborhoods” that house up to 50 employees who spend their days working at the sitting or standing desks , brainstorming at the communal tables, or enjoying down time in one of the many cozy lounges. Aaron Taylor Harvey, Airbnb Environments Executive Creative Director, explains that the design was based on providing employees with a comfortable working environment , “we wanted to bring the same bespoke nuance to this very large space that we brought to the first small office we designed in Portland. We want it to feel like a custom home to every inhabitant.” + WRNS Studio + Airbnb

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Airbnb’s swanky new San Francisco office has a sky boat, a castle and 16 international "neighborhoods"

Solar-powered Noe Hill Smarthome is an eco-friendly dream in San Francisco

October 19, 2017 by  
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The LEED Platinum -certified Noe Hill Smart Ecohome marries state-of-the-art green technology and the indoor-outdoor lifestyle that urban dwellers dream about. The house, designed by EAG Studio , creates a healthy living environment with plenty of natural light, native plant gardens, rain catchment, solar power and a bevy of smart features to optimize power use. The house occupies a coveted site near the crest of the Collingwood hill in San Francisco . It spans three levels and comprises 5 bedrooms, 4.5 baths (with 3 bedrooms ensuite on the upper floor), media room, gym, flexible use 2-room guest suite, an open main level floor plan, 4 distinct outdoor living areas and 2-car independent parking. Related: Sunset’s Green Dream Home in San Francisco The dramatic vistas open up from the main living room and dining area connected to a sunny deck and a landscaped garden. The garden features drought-tolerant , native plantings. Retractable glass doors in the kitchen open directly to the deck and enhances the experience of the indoor-outdoor lifestyle. A sculptural staircase leads to the upper level and receives natural light from the skylight above. The bedrooms occupy the upper floor, with the luxurious master suite openning to its own view deck ideal for a morning cup of coffee or casual lounging. The staircase leads further up toward the roof deck with multiple dining and lounging areas perfect for entertaining guests. Related: San Francisco’s Solar “Mission: House” is a High-Tech Marvel A rainwater harvesting system captures most of the roof/surface water for landscaping irrigation. All exterior walls are insulated and optimized for energy efficiency, while a solar array provides renewable energy for the building. These systems, along with LED lighting , occupancy sensors and the use of reclaimed building materials make this building a modern and truly eco-friendly home. + Noe Hill Leed Home + EAG Studio

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Solar-powered Noe Hill Smarthome is an eco-friendly dream in San Francisco

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