How forest bathing can profoundly improve your health and well-being

April 4, 2018 by  
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Dive into the practice of forest bathing. Doing so does not clean your body, per se, but rather refreshes the spirit and benefits your mood and health. Even scientific studies back forest bathing. So what are you waiting for? Discover the new trend that can make you feel more connected to the world. What is forest bathing? Since 1982, forest bathing — called shinrin-yoku — has been practiced in Japan as a means of reconnecting with nature. The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries created forest bathing as a way to promote national health and being outdoors. While this is not an ancient practice, many see it as a cure for modern ailments. Thanks to the internet, forest bathing has dramatically increased in popularity all over the globe. For the full experience, participants walk with trained guides–experts who help people see nature in a new light. Forest bathing has many similarities to meditation — it quiets the mind and spirit, and it aims to use the five senses to experience nature as never before. The activity unfolds at a much slower pace than hiking, and the destination itself is less important than the journey. What are the benefits forest bathing? As the popularity of forest bathing increases, science has begun to provide evidence for the practice’s benefits. In a 2011 study, scientists found that people walking in nature had lower blood pressure than those in the city. Another study in Japan showed that inhaling the aroma from cedar trees boosts stress-fighting compounds in the body. Most of all, forest bathing benefits your mood. Participants have seen improvement in both focus and attention, and researchers have even linked this practice to better focus in those with ADHD . Mental conditions such as depression, stress, anxiety and anger all show improvements in people who forest bathe. Related: Tiny meditation shelters are the perfect place for hikers to connect with the forest Forest bathing also has physical benefits — during the activity, measurable differences in several bodily processes occur. The immune system increases production of white blood cells that kill disease, and blood pressure and surgical recovery time decrease as well. If these weren’t reasons enough to try forest bathing, you may be surprised by how accessible the practice is. How to forest bathe While you may forest bathe on your own, it’s better to have a certified guide take you through the process. Like therapists who take their clients through guided meditation, these professionals are trained to help people put their minds in the moment. By 2019, the world will have 450 certified forest bathing guides across 23 countries around the world, so finding one will be easier than ever. If you don’t have a forest guide near you, you can still experience forest bathing on your own. The secret is integrating all your senses. Look, listen, feel, taste and smell your surroundings as though experiencing them for the first time. Don’t carefully focus on everything. Instead, examine your surroundings and look at things that capture your attention . A soft gaze relaxes you more than the constant, close focus of modern life. Take a deep breath through your nose and notice the peculiar scent of the forest. Plants have different scents, which act as natural aromatherapy. Don’t forget the soil. Microbes in it produce a smell that may act as an antidepressant . Feel tree bark and leaves. Run dirt between your fingers. If you feel adventurous, embrace a tree trunk. The variety of textures will give your sense of touch a treat. Close your eyes, stop walking, quiet your mind and just listen. The longer you open your ears to the sounds of the forest, the more you’ll hear, boosting your experience. Sounds include more than just the chirping of birds. Listen for the wind in the trees, the scuttling of insects in the soil and the noise of larger animals deep in the woods. Though you don’t want to taste anything in a forest without a guide, you can bring natural foods and drinks with you, such as tea or fresh fruits. This will be especially effective if the fruits are native to your area. Bringing your own food allows you to taste the forest without putting yourself at risk of ingesting a toxic substance. Where to forest bathe Forest bathing locations in Japan must meet rigorous standards set by the practice’s founding organization, but elsewhere in the world, forest bathing typically can be done anywhere. Several American resorts offer forest bathing , including The Lodge at Woodloch, Blackberry Farm and Big Cedar Lodge. While many people opt for their nearest natural space, those stuck indoors can still benefit from connecting with nature. Forest bathing guides take groups outside, but for those without access to the outdoors, just connecting with nature in any way seems beneficial. A study from Texas A&M University researcher Robert Ulrich showed lowered pain, anxiety and blood pressure in those who looked at photos or paintings of nature. Though still a new practice, forest bathing has already shown great promise in treating real conditions without the side effects of medication. Next time you go outside, why not find your nearest nature trail and begin your own forest bathing experience?

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How forest bathing can profoundly improve your health and well-being

Tesla’s Buffalo Gigafactory is officially producing solar roof tiles

January 10, 2018 by  
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Tesla had planned to move Solar Roof tile production from their Fremont, California factory to the Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo , New York and it looks like they may have met that goal. The company confirmed in an email they began manufacturing the tiles in December. Tesla is producing its photovoltaic glass tiles in Buffalo. We don’t yet know how many they have made, according to The Buffalo News , but the Solar Roofs are slated to be installed on customer roofs in upcoming months. Over a dozen Tesla employees, including Elon Musk , had the product installed on their houses during a pilot program last year. Related: Tesla aims to ramp up Solar Roof production in Buffalo next year Tesla has said Solar Roofs could cost around 10 to 15 percent less than a regular roof equipped with traditional solar panels . Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Hugh Bromley isn’t so sure. He told Bloomberg he estimates a Tesla roof on a 2,000-square-foot house could cost around $57,000. Meanwhile terracotta tiles with a five-kilowatt solar panel system could cost around $41,000, according to Bromley, and an asphalt roof with solar panels would be around $22,000. Tesla began taking orders for their Solar Roofs in May, but didn’t disclose how many they’d received. The Buffalo News said the local region is counting on the Buffalo Gigafactory to bring in around 2,900 new jobs . Tesla said they’d create 1,460 jobs, and other suppliers and service providers could create 1,440 jobs in the region. Tesla says there are around 500 employees at the factory, but didn’t specify how many are working for them and how many for other companies like Panasonic , with whom Tesla is collaborating on solar products in Buffalo. According to The Buffalo News, Panasonic began manufacturing solar panels last summer at the site, and had said their workforce would top 300 there by the end of 2017, with plans to add 60 people during the spring. Via Bloomberg , The Buffalo News , and Reuters Images via Tesla

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Tesla’s Buffalo Gigafactory is officially producing solar roof tiles

Now you can rent a vintage teardrop camper for a weekend in the woods

January 10, 2018 by  
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If you’re not ready to buy a teardrop trailer of your own, now you can spend the weekend cozied up inside one thanks to Camp Weathered . Based out of Marin County, California, the teardrop camper rental service offers a fleet of vintage teardrop campers for those looking for a private and cozy escape in the California wilderness. Camp Weathered’s “Forest Cottage” campers offer all of the basics for a comfy camping trip, including a sleeping space big enough for two adults and one small child. The campers also come with a small galley kitchenette with a sink, a two-burner camping stove, and plenty of dishes and cookware. The rental service even provides a picnic basket stocked with everything needed for a romantic candlelit dinner. Related: How this photographer escaped the grid with her tiny Teardrop Trailer There are two ways to rent the campers: you can either tow one yourself to your desired location, or the service will tow one for you and then pick it up. The lightweight trailers can be towed by almost any vehicle – even a motorcycle. Camp Weathered was started by two students, Alex McNeil and Jesse Bodony, who decided to launch the rental service after seeing how popular their own camper was among their friends and family. According to McNeil, the service is geared to those who want to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life: “So many of us feel kind of assaulted or barraged just by our connectivity, and the nonstop pace of reality that we deal with,” he said. “I really do believe that being in nature, especially for folks who aren’t often is one of the most restorative and valuable experiences you can have.” + Camp Weathered Images via Camp Weathered

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Now you can rent a vintage teardrop camper for a weekend in the woods

Bitcoin mining powers Canadian man’s innovative aquaponics system

January 10, 2018 by  
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This indoor garden is heated by something totally unexpected: bitcoin mining. When software company owner Bruce Hardy saw how much heat his computers were generating, he decided to put that extra energy to good use. Now, instead of using air conditioning to cool his computers, he takes the heat they generate to power and heat a thriving aquaponics system and greenhouse. The system works by using the heat generated by 30 computers as they work to mine bitcoin. That heat keeps hundreds of Arctic Char warm on the first floor of the Manitoba building, where nitrate-rich water is used to feed plants growing on the second floor. “It’s all connected, much like Earth,” Hardy told CBC Manitoba . Related: Hanoi’s koi cafe has a thriving ecosystem complete with an aquaponic garden Hardy’s company operates with the goal of creating sustainable food systems. The revenue that he has generated mining bitcoin has helped him grow his business, which he hopes will allow him to spread the concept around the globe. Investors in China and Australia are taking notice. He said, “If we can take our energy and use it here in Manitoba, we value-add that energy, and we can do all sorts of great things”. Via CBC Manitoba Lead image via Deposit Photos

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Bitcoin mining powers Canadian man’s innovative aquaponics system

BREAKING NEWS: Tesla unveils groundbreaking new solar roof system

October 29, 2016 by  
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Residential solar is quickly becoming a booming business, especially in sunny California – but there are still many challenges for solar installers when it comes to the logistics of bolting photovoltaic panels to the tops of homeowners roofs; old roofing materials, surfaces that aren’t even and setback regulations all limit the amount of panels and ultimate efficiency of rooftop solar. Elon Musk wanted to innovate and improve upon the current practice of bolting solar panels to the top of your roof, and he’s just shattered the mold with the unveiling of some groundbreaking new designs for roof-integrated solar rooftop tiles . The idea is that integrated photovoltaic roof panels will provide more electric power, beauty and efficiency than the old tack-on method. That’s because, in part, because you can fit a lot more on to the top of your roof. Also, since homeowners will now be able to integrate their entire roofing with solar, they will be able to create a more elegant roof design, and installation will become easier and more desirable. Now when homeowners upadte their roof, they can automatically update to photovoltaic roof tiles, instead of having to work with 2 sets of different contractors to set up a home solar system. In August, Tesla and SolarCity agreed to a 2.6 billion dollar merger . Tesla and SolarCity might seem like companies with pretty disparate goals – one makes cars and the other manages home energy. But they both have a long-term vision of moving the planet away from fossil fuels. So it makes sense that they would unite under one umbrella. Musk said, “That [Telsa and SolarCity] are separate at all, despite similar origins and pursuit of the same overarching goal of sustainable energy, is largely an accident of history.” Related: Tesla and SolarCity just agreed on a $2.6 billion merger Today’s announcement was the perfect opportunity for Musk to illustrate how the merger makes not just good sense for the environment, but good financial sense, too. It’s also an opportunity to show how Musk’s vision is a new step for solar. His plan involves an integrated solar panel/roof system, rather than the typical solar-panel-on-roof system. Musk said that this is “a fundamental part of achieving a differentiated product strategy.” The system will utilize Tesla’s Powerwall , which can store enough energy to power a home on the sunlight gathered during the day. + Tesla

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BREAKING NEWS: Tesla unveils groundbreaking new solar roof system

"Invisible Dyaqua solar cells look just like stone, concrete, and wood

October 17, 2016 by  
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These familiar styles help designers avoid what the company calls “visual damage” typically associated with clunky solar panels . Buildings can be updated to include renewable energy generation without losing their historic charm. Each fixture is made from recyclable and non-toxic materials and can withstand the elements, whether affixed to a roof or patterned into a walkway. The unique assembly includes a top layer which is opaque to the eye, but allows solar rays through to the hidden photovoltaic cells inside. Related: Trailblazing slate tiles with hidden solar thermal reduce energy use by 85% Invisible Solar has already started production on its Rooftile, which is made to resemble classic clay tiles. They recently launched an Indiegogo campaign to fund their new designs, which will allow backers to gain early access to the brilliant new fixtures. Samples of each style will be sent out to each backer stamped as special edition and featuring a connection to an LED source to demonstrate the product’s power. + Dyaqua Invisible Solar Images via Dyaqua Invisible Solar

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"Invisible Dyaqua solar cells look just like stone, concrete, and wood

Sublime alpine home in Upper Austria marries modern and vernacular design

October 17, 2016 by  
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Clad in highly reflective, insulated metal panels, HAUS KW would have a pitched roof evocative of vernacular alpine design combined with a simple box-house design common in modern architecture. Wooden slats on the north facade pay further respects to traditional buildings, and structural timber used for framing the home is sourced sustainably from local sources. Related: Swiss Ski gondolas transformed into sublime saunas “The partially floating cast-in-place concrete slab allows for a smaller footprint of the building and less disturbance of the existing landscape,” Kweton writes in his design brief for the project. Striking a balance between opening the home to views and natural light and accommodating for privacy, Kweton has only included two glazed openings on the South and West side. Inside, the interior was kept “deliberately stark”, according to the architect, with a sealed concrete floor and flat white walls that draw attention to the warm wooden Sauna block and custom furniture pieces. + Paul Kweton

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Sublime alpine home in Upper Austria marries modern and vernacular design

Park City, Utah commits to 100% renewable energy

October 17, 2016 by  
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Park City, Utah is on the front lines of global warming as it grapples with decreasing snowfall and a shorter winter season that traditionally draws thousands of skiers and snowboarders from around the world. However the mountain community isn’t waiting for the snow to melt to take climate action – Park City just committed to 100 percent renewable energy by the year 2032. The announcement comes just months after Salt Lake City, Utah made the same pledge to transition to clean power. “Park City’s commitment for 100% renewable electricity is driven by our community,” said Mayor Jack Thomas. “The passion for the natural environment and our responsibility to take care of it is part of the fabric of what makes Park City a very special place to live. Park City can’t do it alone. I challenge other communities to across the nation join us in this goal.” Related: A unique community of modern green homes hug the desert floor in Utah A total of 19 American cities have now committed to 100 percent renewable energy, joining a growing global list of hundreds of cities, regions, countries and institutions – including the mountain community of Boulder, Colorado that in September committed to 100 percent clean energy by 2030. Last year, Aspen, Colorado became the third US city to reach 100 percent renewable energy after Burlington, Vermont and Greensburg, Kansas. Park City is also aiming to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2022. Reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2022 and 100 percent renewables by 2032 are ambitious goals in a state that relies on coal for 80 percent of its power. But Park City is well on its way, with more than 1,200 solar panels installed on city facilities, a robust energy efficiency program and soon zero emissions electric buses transporting riders on city streets. Via Park City Government Images via Raffi Asdourian and Joseph De Palma

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Park City, Utah commits to 100% renewable energy

No, the Great Barrier Reef isnt dead – but it is damaged

October 17, 2016 by  
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Last week, social media users from around the world were shocked and horrified to find the Great Barrier Reef had been “declared dead” in a viral symbolic obituary from Outside Magazine. There was only one problem: the premise of the article isn’t actually true, and scientists have been scrambling to correct the record in the following days. What is true is that the reef is struggling due to climate change, and needs urgent help if it’s going to survive. Earlier this year, a shocking 93% of the reef began experiencing a phenomenon known as “bleaching,” which occurs when warm ocean temperatures stress the reef, causing the tiny colored algae living within the coral organisms to become ejected. Without the algae, the coral eventually dies. In fact, this is what’s recently happened to about 22% of the coral on the reef. While this is the worst mass bleaching event on record, the majority of the reef is still alive and struggling. Related: This startling video shows coral bleaching in action The viral obituary has marine scientists scrambling to correct the record. In a statement to the Huffington Post , Russell Brainard, chief of the Coral Reef Ecosystem Program at NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, expressed his frustration. While the article may have been a well-intentioned attempt to highlight the urgency of the situation, he worries that people will take it at face value and assume that there’s no work to be done to save what’s left of the reef. In fact, there is reason for hope: one study last year found that even after massive bleaching events, it is possible for reefs to fully recover. However, it’s a slow process that requires stable conditions to occur — something the reef may not have if bleaching events continue to occur at a faster and faster rate. Related: More than one-third of the coral is dead in parts of Great Barrier Reef If we don’t act soon to protect our oceans, we may see the world’s coral reefs perish for real. The driving cause of coral mass bleaching events is climate change , and if global temperatures continue to rise, we will reach a point at which coral simply can’t survive. That’s why it’s so important to vote for candidates with a strong environmental record, write to our representatives, and do what we can to reduce our individual carbon footprint . Via Slashdot Images via Wikipedia and Oregon State University

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No, the Great Barrier Reef isnt dead – but it is damaged

The company that offered integrated solar roofs before Elon Musk

August 17, 2016 by  
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Last week Elon Musk announced SolarCity is working on a solar roof that was “not a thing on the roof” but “the roof.” The promising idea could offer an alternative for those who don’t like the look of traditional rooftop solar panels , but it looks like Musk won’t be the first to create a solar roof. New York-based company SunTegra Solar Roof Systems (formerly Integrated Solar Technology) has already installed integrated solar systems in the northeastern United States and California. According to SunTegra, “three out of four homeowners would prefer an integrated solar option.” So the company, led by industry veteran Oliver Koehler, designed solar shingles and tiles that integrate with roofs. Their tile can produce 67 watts, and their shingle can produce 100 watts. Additionally, the SunTegra shingles utilize ” 50 percent fewer parts ” than traditional rooftop solar panels, and can be rapidly installed in “half the time.” Their systems are lighter than racked panels too. Ventilation built into SunTegra’s units help them stay cool. Related: Elon Musk is developing a roof made entirely out of solar panels While SunTegra’s units are around 15 percent more expensive than traditional rooftop panels, if homeowners need a new roof, pricing can be competitive. None of SunTegra’s roofs have leaked, and the company notes they’ve received ” exceptional wind, snow, and fire ratings .” According to testimonials on the company’s website, clients in California and New Jersey are among those who have had SunTegra shingles or tiles installed, and the company is working to grow sales in more areas of the United States as well as Mexico and Canada. It appears SunTegra is working on other solar projects for the future as well. On their website they said they will be “introducing product lines for garden and patio spaces and for the sides and facades of commercial and community buildings.” + SunTegra Via Treehugger Images via SunTegra and SunTegra Facebook

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The company that offered integrated solar roofs before Elon Musk

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