Affordable and sustainable fashion trends for fall

October 26, 2020 by  
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The changing of the seasons always signals a change in style. But no season is as hard to dress for as fall. You have to be prepared for all kinds of weather, yet you still want to look put together. With the ongoing pandemic, it’s also important to be cozy and comfortable as you spend more time at home. So how can you dress for fall, dress for style and make sure you’re still doing it with comfort and sustainability in mind? There are many clothing brands that are dedicated to ethical, eco-friendly clothing that won’t break your budget. Jeans Jeans are truly the cornerstone of great fall fashion. They’re perfect in all weather situations, and they complement every fall 2020 trend from velvet blouses to platform boots. MUD Jeans is committed to maintaining an environmental standard with every pair of jeans it produces. It uses eco-friendly materials like recycled cotton and non-toxic dyes. As a company, MUD jeans closely monitors health and safety issues for all employees as well as its own supply chain to ensure that sustainable practices are followed. PETA has rated MUD Jeans as vegan . Activewear Activewear is really shining in 2020 as more people turn to yoga pants for lounging or workout clothes to keep up their fitness routines at home. Workout clothes are a great go-to for casual autumn outfits. They’re already designed to work well in layered outfits, and they’re available in a wide range of colors and designs so you can show off your personality. Vege Threads offers cotton activewear that is 100% certified Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). Vege Threads clothing is made in Australia, where all products are certified by Ethical Clothing Australia. The supply chain is audited to ensure that all workers are treated and compensated ethically and fairly. Jewelry An outfit just isn’t complete without a little jewelry , which can also elevate any outfit for your next virtual meeting or happy hour. With the ongoing pandemic, jewelry has become one of the simplest ways to elevate your work-from-home outfit. Complete your wardrobe with jewelry from makers like Bario Neal . This ethical designer makes handmade rings with conflict-free gems and diamonds. Using recycled jewelry and recycled packaging, Bario Neal traces its entire supply chain and sources fair-trade materials. Article22 is another company to consider when purchasing jewelry for your fall outfits. This jewelry is handmade in Laos using recycled materials — namely shrapnel from the Vietnam War. Article22 ‘s mission is to not only provide beautiful jewelry but to improve social conditions in Laos by turning shrapnel into jewelry and clearing contaminated land. Accessories The scarf is fall’s quintessential accessory. A scarf can instantly add personality and class to any outfit. Frances Austen makes ethical cashmere scarves that are soft, beautiful and sustainably made with spun yarn. Each scarf is completely traceable all the way to the source. Cashmere is wrinkle-resistant and with Frances Austen, it’s responsibly sourced. The company’s clothing and accessories are made in Scotland in a family-owned factory that has been in business for 200 years. Related: These biodegradable sweaters ditch fast fashion in favor of sustainable cashmere New to this season, masks are the “it” item for fall 2020. By now, plenty of people and brands are making comfortable, stylish and eco-friendly reusable masks to match any outfit. Check Etsy for a wide range of handmade options, from plain to patterned to embroidered. Footwear Your choose can make or break a fall outfit. For one, fall footwear needs to be functional. As the weather turns cold, you want shoes that can keep your feet warm and hold their ground when ice and snow are around. It doesn’t hurt to have shoes that are stylish to boot, whether you go with flats, sneakers, mules or boots. If you’re on the hunt for a new pair to invest in for your fall wardrobe, you can find all of these styles at Everlane . This sustainable fashion company maintains a policy of “Radical Transparency”, so you know where its materials come from and how the products are made. This footwear is ethically made with recycled materials and a strong commitment to sustainability. Dresses Take all the guesswork out of getting dressed with cute dresses from Pact . No need to stare at your closet, wondering which separates will pair best together. Pact offers comfortable, chic and ethically made dresses that will look just as cute while you are at the pumpkin patch as they will when you are on the couch. Pact clothing is made in factories that follow fair-trade clothing guidelines. Everything is also made with organic cotton . Outerwear Fall weather isn’t always warm and welcoming. On those blustery days, you need jackets and vests to keep yourself warm. Patagonia has a gorgeous selection of outerwear items in varying styles. That includes puffy parkas, short jackets, hooded coats and vests, all of which are on-trend for fall 2020. Patagonia even offers a Worn Wear program , wear you can purchase used gear to save money and the resources required in making new garments . Best of all, Patagonia is a champion of change. This company engages in activism to prevent mining, protect public lands and save the planet. Patagonia is all about being active, getting involved and doing its part to promote not just sustainable clothing but also global change. Images via Ryan Wheatley / Vege Threads, Orders Mudjeans (MUD Jeans), Article22, Austin Wade and Adobe Stock

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Affordable and sustainable fashion trends for fall

Artist creates mesmerizing paintings using coal pollution from local streams

October 15, 2020 by  
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You gaze at a vibrant collision of color. Are you looking at the Earth? Is this bacteria under a microscope? Is it a distant galaxy through the lens of a telescope? Or could it be a rainbow of unique pigments created from none other than a stream of coal mine pollution? As it turns out, this series of art by John Sabraw reflects many meanings, and it symbolizes a deep commitment to the planet. You see, the art is in fact made using pigments derived from the iron oxide in acid mine drainage. In beautiful southeastern Ohio, an area lush with trees and rolling hills dotted with small towns throughout, defunct  coal mines  have left their mark on the environment years after their closures. But a group of artists, engineers and dedicated community members are finding ways to clean up the pollution and turn it into something meaningful. A stream of pollution Back around 2007,  Sabraw , an artist and professor at Ohio University, began working with a local environmental group after years of working with environmentalists and scientists on various projects. The group, called Kanawha, toured southeastern Ohio, and Sabraw was instantly struck by the smelly, red-orange  pollution  in many of the region’s streams.  Related: #degrowth art series exposes greenwashing in the food industry “This is mainly iron oxide, that is the heavy metal polluting the  stream ,” Sabraw told Inhabitat. “Most of the earth-based pigments I use are made of iron oxide, so I took some with me and played with them in the studio. This is the first time I started thinking this could be turned into pigments or paint product.” As it turns out, another Ohio University professor,  Guy Riefler , was already using his skills as an environmental engineer to turn the iron oxide from the acid mining drainage into paint. The two professors connected and began working on a new project together that would both create a viable product and clean up the streams: a win-win. What is acid mine drainage? But where is all of this iron oxide coming from, and why is it a problem? “It comes from abandoned and improperly sealed coal mines,” Sabraw explained. There are many abandoned  coal mines  not just throughout southeastern Ohio but around the world. When it rains, water leaches into these underground mines, where it picks up heavy metals before finding its way to the surface and draining into aquatic habitats. “ Aquatic life  is very sensitive to pH. They want to be around 7 pH or even lower on occasion, but acidic water is around pH 2 to pH 4,” Sabraw said. “They can’t live in that environment. The second thing is iron oxide gets to the surface of the water and is activated by sunlight. There is more oxygen in the atmosphere. Instead of dissolving, the iron becomes crystalized onto the creekbed. That covered creekbed inhibits growth; very few things can live in that.” Saving aquatic life That’s what makes the project so crucial. Removing the iron oxide will help return the streams to their natural state, where aquatic life can thrive. With iron oxide present, you’re unlikely to find any  fish  swimming around in these streams. So Sabraw, Riefler and groups of volunteers visit Appalachian streams to collect iron oxide and turn it into something useful. On a small scale, they go collect the iron oxide deposits on creek beds, then wash and purify it before neutralizing the acidity. The result? A product that is over 98% pure iron oxide with very few contaminants. The iron oxide is cooked at extremely high temperatures to remove any remaining biomatter. They are also working on  building a multi-million dollar facility  that can mimic this collection and purification process on a much larger scale. In fact, the goal is to produce pigments that they can sell to generate enough money to cover the cost of pollution cleanups. Another goal is to insert pumps in the old mines that will access the iron oxide before it ever leaves the source. Clean, safe water will then be returned to the streams and creeks. Cleaning up for the community There can sometimes be a disconnect between the  local community  and those affiliated with the university. But luckily, that hasn’t been the case with this project. Sabraw, Riefler and their team hope the planned facility will create local jobs and clean up the streams, where families can fish and play. The facility will double as an educational center and will include a wetland sculpture park that will even display the impacts of climate change, particularly during seasonal flooding. The local response has been overwhelmingly positive. “[These communities] remember when they played in clean creeks and fished for dinner. They remember it changing, becoming orange and acidic; they’d jump in to swim and come out with orange underwear,” Sabraw said. “This is not some place that they are skipping in to do a job and leave. This is home, this is heart.” Their work has also garnered international attention. “More than anything else, artists want to know how they can do something similar, take the ability to think differently, spatially, and apply it to issues in our world.” Pollution becomes art Sabraw has used the iron oxide pigments in his own series of  artworks , which feature mesmerizing, swirling patterns of color confined within circles. Aside from the direct inspiration from the polluted streams, Sabraw approaches his work with a sustainable mindset. “We are in a critical era,” Sabraw told Inhabitat. “There’s no time left to decide that we want to work to consciously and purposefully create a sustainable future for humans on this planet. My concerns surround the ways I can attack this myself and open my abilities up to other experiences and ideas to collectively create a new way of living on the planet together.” The art showcases how many things on this planet are happening simultaneously to create “a sense of wonder, openness and also mystery and a question of purpose.” Making a difference one stream at a time Beyond the art, Sabraw and Riefler hope the project expands beyond the borders of Ohio and across not just the country but the globe. While streams worldwide may have varying chemistries, the  technology  could be applied to abandoned mines everywhere. If you’re sitting there wondering whether or not to focus your own work on sustainability, Sabraw says, without a doubt, to do so. “There’s a funny phrase that if you are the smartest person in a room, you are in the wrong room. I’ve never been in the wrong room. I’m not the smartest guy ever. Artists need to decide they can be in a space that is uncomfortable and still have a major impact on how things happen.” + John Sabraw Photography by Ashley Stottlemyer, Ben Siegel, John Sabraw and Gamblin via John Sabraw

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Artist creates mesmerizing paintings using coal pollution from local streams

Simple, sustainable DIY Halloween decor

October 12, 2020 by  
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Fall has arrived, and the holiday season is right around the corner, making for the perfect time to get creative with Mission Fall Decor 2020. While you might find inspiration walking through the local home improvement or craft store, dedicating yourself to DIY decor saves you money, adds a personal sense of accomplishment and presents the opportunity to recycle or select materials that are sustainable and environmentally-friendly. Use products of the season  Autumn is the season for apple and pumpkin  everything, which launches a starting point for your seasonal decorating. Select glass bowls to fill with apples or gourds for an easy table centerpiece. Similarly, carve out the tops of apples or pumpkins and place a candle inside. To fill the house with the smell of cinnamon and apples, cube or slice an apple, add a cinnamon stick and some nutmeg and top with water. Allow the mixture to simmer on the stove, and keep an eye on the water level so it doesn’t boil dry. Related: DIY fall decor using upcycled items from thrift stores To add a cozy feel, grab a flannel blanket and drape it over a hay bale near the door to welcome guests. Top with a few pumpkins and give it a backdrop of corn stalks. After the season, everything except the blanket can go into the compost pile. Now with your scene set, put on your crafty hat for some additional decorations easily made from home-sourced supplies. Twig wreath Walk into a craft store this time of year, and you’ll likely see an assortment of wreaths, including a basic design with nothing more than twigs glued together. Instead of doling out the cash, make your own using  natural materials . Bundle up the kids and head out for a stick-collection party. With your selections back home, scrape the sticks free of moss and dirt. Overlap them and adhere with a hot glue gun, creating a circle as you work. After completing the first layer, add additional layers for depth. Once the twigs are securely attached, you can keep the ultra-natural look or spraypaint the wreath black or even orange for a bolder display. Add a burlap bow, or glue berries, mini pumpkins or dried apples on if you desire. You can check out this tutorial from  Ernest Home Co.  for more guidance. Metal Jack-O-Lantern luminaries Of course, a very popular fall holiday inspires specific witchy and graveyard appeal. To get started on your Halloween Decor 2020, hang luminaries with a Halloween theme, or use them to line a walkway up the driveway or through the garden. To make, select clean, dry cans from the waste pile and remove the lids. Watch for sharp edges. Depending on the look you want, you can use anything from a large coffee can down to a tuna can (although the latter might work better with a floating candle). Spray-paint your cans black or orange. Use the opposite color of poster board to cut out a variety of facial features such as eyes, noses and mouths. Cut up those thin marketing magnets that seem to accumulate from mailings and the front of phone books, then glue a piece to the back of each poster board cutout. You can then mix and match the faces to the front of the cans. Using a drill, create holes around the can in a random pattern. This will allow light to glow through. Place a candle or LED light inside the can so you can enjoy spooky or funny Jack-O-Lantern faces during the day and luminaries when the sun goes down. Visit  Fun Cheap or Free  for a peek at what the end product will look like. Fabric pumpkins Small, large, orange, cream or black fabric pumpkins are easy to make by recycling fabric you already have around the house. Dig through your sewing box for a basic needle with a large eye. Use whatever thread, string, yarn, ribbon or jute you already have. If using a piece of fabric, start by creating two panels and connecting them on two sides. A shortcut and wonderful way to upcycle is to use a shirt, sweater or sweatshirt for the fabric. With either source of material, roughly gather and sew closed the bottom of the pumpkin. The gathering technique helps to form the rounded bottom. Next, stuff the pumpkins with other discarded clothing, fabric, cotton, newspaper or any other material you’d like to reuse. Gather the fabric around the top of the pumpkin, cutting off the rest of the shirt parts if needed, and tie off with burlap strips or jute. You can make these pumpkins in a variety of sizes for a display. Reclaimed wood-painted blocks and signs If you enjoy  wood crafts, you likely have an assortment of wood pieces laying around just waiting for the right project to match. Use or create blocks out of 1x1s or 4x4s. Paint them using freehand techniques or stencils. You could also use a wood burner or router to sculpt a design. For longer boards, make some ghoulish signs to greet, or deter, your guests. Guide them towards the warm cookies in the kitchen or the scary graveyard in the front yard. Bat Mobile No, this isn’t a Batmobile, but a mobile, like the decorations that hang above a baby’s crib. To make, simply create bat cutouts from poster board or cardboard. Spray-paint them black and attach them in a series of heights using string or yarn. Attach the top of each strip to a round hoop, then add strings that connect the hoop to a central hook for hanging. Images via Pexels and Shutterstock

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September is Coastal Cleanup Month with a new look for 2020

September 15, 2020 by  
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Beach and coastline cleanups have been a focus of many caring citizens and environmental groups for decades. The most-publicized beach cleanup effort, Coastal Cleanup Day, is typically slotted for a day in September. This year, the event has expanded into an entire month with the goal of involving more people at every level and from every community — not just those near the beach. According to Surfrider Foundation , “International Coastal Cleanup Month (formerly International Coastal Cleanup Day) is one of the world’s largest annual preservation and protection events and volunteer efforts for our ocean, waves and beaches.” Register your own coastal cleanup — wherever that may be One conservation organization, Heal the Bay in Los Angeles County, serves as an example of this campaign by helping citizens coordinate their own cleanup efforts with a centralized registration system. As residents register events, other volunteers can join the effort to coordinate larger cleanup activities. Related: Atlantic has 10 times the microplastics previously thought The centralized information also allows organizers to track the amount and types of garbage removed. Knowing what has been collected is an effective way to identify the source of the pollution and provide data for policymakers. Save Our Shores recommends downloading the Clean Swell App to keep track of the items in your trash pile. “Data collection is an important part of Coastal Cleanup Day,” Save Our Shores explained. “The data that is collected about the types and quantities of debris picked up can be used for outreach, policy and advocacy, and more!” Further, the organization suggests that one member of the cleanup party be in charge of data collection to reduce the spread of germs. Safety tips for your beach cleanup To support community efforts, Heal the Bay provides tutorials and tips for safe and effective cleanups with information on how to dispose of collected trash and abide by LA County Public Health guidelines along with details regarding supplies and parking. Each region has varying needs, so participants can access specific information for their neighborhood. During this time of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the organization encourages social distancing during cleanups as well as the use of masks and gloves. Participants should only work with members of their own household and stay home if they feel ill. If you are in an area impacted by the ongoing wildfires, Heal the Bay advises you to also stay home to minimize your exposure to the smoke. Why is Coastal Cleanup Month important? The primary goal of Coastal Clean Up Month is to reduce the amount of debris that ends up in the waterways, including the ocean. Ocean pollution, particularly plastic from inland as well as boating activities, has become a massive environmental issue in recent years. The cycle is toxic. Animals are harmed by items like six-pack rings and plastic bags. Plastic in the waterways begins to break down into microplastics, which marine animals ingest. This comes full circle as seafood that may contain microplastics lands onto our dinner plates. In addition to waste removal, a secondary goal is to educate communities about the hazards of ocean pollution and share the importance of marine life and aquatic biodiversity. In addition, the event promotes more sustainable activities such as recycling and minimizing waste. Make a difference one small step at a time To support these educational efforts, Heal the Bay maintains five programs that, “allow citizens to explore and learn about the various issues facing the diverse regions that make up Los Angeles.” Volunteers can facilitate touch tank visits at the aquarium, participate in a beach cleanup , spread information through the outreach program, contribute to community science by collecting data or register middle and high school students as part of the youth program. The coordination in Los Angeles is just a sampling of similar events across the nation and around the world. In fact, Coastal Cleanup Month is a global movement that includes 6 million volunteers in 90 countries. Even though the efforts are widespread, coronavirus restrictions have resulted in several canceled events and made it difficult for organizers of various organizations to spotlight the effort this year. With that in mind, the push is for more of a grassroots coordination of many small groups rather than fewer large ones.  Related: How to volunteer during COVID-19 That means the entire month of September is prime time to get out and lead your own cleanup crew, whether that’s a party of one or up to 10 people within the same household. With 30 years behind this organized beach cleanup movement, organizers report disappointment in not being able to host large events. However, they say this is an opportunity for every citizen to tackle the garbage in their own area, whether that be the street, park, mountain, sides of the roadway or parking lot. Although that may feel a little off-point, the majority of the garbage that ends up in the ocean stems from further inland, so you can think of it as confronting the problem at the source. While it might seem that a neighborhood pickup isn’t enough, individual efforts make a huge impact. As an example, Heal the Bay provides inspiration in the fact that, “In 2019, the Ocean Conservancy reports that nearly 800,000 volunteers collectively removed more than 20 million pieces of trash from beaches and waterways around the world. That’s 20 million fewer potential impacts on whales, turtles and other beloved ocean wildlife.” So whether in groups of 1,000 or one, those same hands can make a difference for the health of our planet. + Heal the Bay + Surfrider Foundation + Save Our Shores Images via Adobe Stock

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September is Coastal Cleanup Month with a new look for 2020

Sustainable fleets are at an inflection point

August 12, 2020 by  
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Sustainable fleets are at an inflection point Katie Fehrenbacher Wed, 08/12/2020 – 00:15 Companies and cities are increasingly adopting lower-carbon fleets — including trucks and buses that run off electricity, renewable diesel and renewable natural gas — according to a new report from the research team at Gladstein, Neandross and Associates (GNA).  It’s still early days for many of these markets, and sustainability goals remain one of the top drivers for fleets to buy these vehicles. But the metrics that fleet managers care about —  total cost of ownership  — are becoming more competitive for these lower-carbon vehicles, the GNA report found. I read the analysis, which also covers diesel efficiency, natural gas and propane, and picked out these points that I thought were particularly interesting: Renewable diesel is winning fans:  Fleet managers report satisfaction with the performance of renewable diesel, which can be dropped into diesel trucks and buses and can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent. The amount of renewable diesel used in California tripled between 2015 to 2019 to 620 million gallons. However, fleet managers say the market is constrained by supply outside of California and Oregon. Diesel still dominates:  GNA predicts diesel vehicles will continue to dominate fleets for at least a decade, especially in heavy-duty applications such as long-haul trucking. Thus efficiency tools — such as aerodynamic packages, anti-idling and driver education — are still important. Natural gas trucks are big but slowing:  There are already 53,000 registered natural gas vehicles in the U.S., and 85 percent are used for heavy-duty applications such as garbage collection, transit and utility trucks. But natural gas trucks only reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to diesel trucks by 11 percent, and regulators such as the California Air Resources Board have pushed the state’s fleets to adopt zero-emission vehicle options, such as electric. Renewable natural gas is growing fast:  Renewable natural gas (RNG) can lower greenhouse gas emissions from fleets compared to diesel by between 60 and 300 percent depending on the source (yes, that’s carbon negative). Between 2015 and 2018, the consumption of renewable natural gas by natural gas fleets grew by 475 percent, and in 2019 in California, 80 percent of the natural gas used for transportation was renewable. But RNG constraints are real:  Because the costs are high to capture and process renewable natural gas, the market essentially has been created by California’s low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS). States that want to create a similar market need to create their own LCFS. Don’t overlook propane:  Propane is being used to power school buses that carry 1.2 million students in the U.S., although propane only reduces greenhouse gas emissions over diesel by 20 percent. The industry has been developing renewable propane, which is really only available in California. Electric trucks are moving forward:  Thanks to big commitments by companies such as Amazon, FedEx and PepsiCo, U.S. deliveries and deployment of electric trucks are supposed to double between 2021 and 2022. Today, more than 20 automakers produce over 90 electric truck and bus models. But EV infrastructure challenges remain: Early market challenges include expensive upfront costs for vehicles, complicated and a lack of charging infrastructure and limited range. Fleets also can face both higher or lower costs of electricity in comparison to diesel, so most need to work with partners and use smart charging tools to make sure they’re charging during low cost times of day. I’ll be highlighting zero- and low-carbon fleets during our upcoming VERGE 20 (virtual) conference , which will run the entire last week in October (Oct. 26-30). This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, Transport Weekly, running Tuesdays. Subscribe here . Topics Transportation & Mobility Clean Fleets Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A UPS compressed natural gas fueling station fills up a UPS natural gas-powered truck. Courtesy of UPS Close Authorship

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Your guide to preserving, storing and canning food

April 30, 2020 by  
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If you’ve stepped foot in a grocery store or filled an Instacart recently, you know there are a variety of items that are in low supply. In fact, butter and sweet pepper shortages appear to be a sign of these very uncertain coronavirus times. So whether you’re looking for ways to preserve what you already have in the house or are setting goals to be better about reducing food waste in the future, we’ve got some pointers regarding the proper way to save everything from milk to peaches so you can enjoy them down the road.  Freezer  Your freezer is a golden opportunity to store ripening fruit and wilting greens . If you fear your container of strawberries, mango, or pineapple is a day away from passing its prime, cut it into cubes and put it on a cookie sheet. Flash freeze the cubes and then transfer them to a freezer safe bag. Use fruit in smoothies, compote, or pies later on. Avocados can be frozen in peeled halves or mash them and store in a bag or container to use for guacamole at a later date.  Related: Use texture, height and variety to create pizzazz in your small garden this fall Some dairy products can also be stored in the freezer, although it may change the consistency a bit. Butter can go directly in, boxes or plastic and all. Milk can be repackaged or frozen whole. It will expand, but that’s what those divots on the sides of the container are for, really. Cheese also stores well, but maintains a better texture if grated first. Be sure to package tightly and remove air before freezing.  Vegetables and freezers make great partners. Some foods first need to be blanched in order to start the cooking process. This simply means steaming or boiling them for a few minutes before cooking and prepping in containers or bags for the freezer. Blanch asparagus, broccoli, leafy greens, okra, peas, summer squash, brussel sprouts, artichoke hearts, and cauliflower . Blanching times range from one to six minutes. Some sources will tell you to also blanch corn, sweet peppers, onions, and tomatoes, but it’s not really necessary. Garlic bulbs can be frozen with or without the skin. A note: the purpose of blanching is to break down the enzymes that cause decay. While unblanched frozen food is safe to eat, the consistency and/or color may suggest otherwise.  To prepare for freezing, remove the core from tomatoes, then cut and place into a freezer safe bag. Peel and cut onions before freezing. You can combine onions with a variety of colored sweet peppers for an instant fajita mixture.  Pickling Pickling is a fermentation process that has been around for generations. It’s simple to do, although some processes are fast and others require patient observation while the process takes place. Pickle red and yellow onion, cucumbers, zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes and other favorite veggies by first cleaning and cutting into slices or spears.  One technique is called quick pickling. This results in a snackable product in just a few days, but lacks the deeply pickled taste of long-fermentation. Combine equal parts vinegar (any type) and water. You can add herbs, spices, garlic, or ginger to create unique flavor profiles. For a combination of one cup water to one cup vinegar, add one tablespoon kosher salt or two teaspoons pickling sale and an optional one tablespoon of table sugar. Boil the mixture until the dry ingredients dissolve. Stuff vegetables into clean canning jars and top with the boiling liquid, filling within ½ inch of the top. Seal with a lid and refrigerate. Wait a minimum of 48 hours before opening. The longer they sit, the fuller the flavor will be.  To ferment the traditional way, use a large crock or other container that can be out of your kitchen circulation for a few weeks. There are many, many recipes for different foods and flavors but the basic process is again to prep foods by cleaning and disposing of end pieces . Slice in the shape you prefer. Then make a brine with water, acidic vinegar, and salt. Combine in the crock and let them sit a few weeks. Once fermented, pack into jars. Different foods call for different processing times, but typically range from 15-30 minutes.  Canning Canning foods is an excellent preservation technique. Many vegetables can be made in a pressure cooker or instant pot. To can green beans, for example, select fresh beans. You will need one to three pounds per quart jar. Blanch and then cut them into bite-size pieces. Pack them into hot jars, add salt, and cover with hot water. Release trapped air from the jar and leave about an inch of space at the top. Place the jars into a pressure cooker and follow directions to create the proper amount of cooking pressure based on your model. Use caution when handling hot items.  Fruits, jams and tomatoes are processed in a simple water bath and create a plethora of food options with no waste . When your tomatoes go crazy at the end of summer, you can also make a variety of sauces to get you through the winter. Try salsa, marinara sauce, ketchup, bbq sauce, tomato sauce, tomato paste, etc. All of these items are cooked in a pot and then added to hot, sterile jars. Wipe the top of the jar with a clean cloth and seal with lid and ring immediately. Then submerge into a water bath for the recommended amount of time. The process is similar for peaches, pears, jams, and applesauce, with a bit of variation in the preparation. You can even make apple pie filling and can it to reheat and serve over ice cream or add to a pie crust during the upcoming months.  Proper Storage Even if you don’t plan to process your food, you can make it last longer with proper storage. Hearty onions can be stored for ten months or more in the proper conditions. The ideal location is a cellar or shed that maintains a temperature of around 40 degrees F. Also stored in a cool, dark location, garlic will store for several months. For both foods, be sure they are properly cured (dried) before storage. Potatoes can also join the cold and dark party where they should remain fresh for at least three months.  Images via Source Name 

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Your guide to preserving, storing and canning food

Fashion brands ranked for toxic textiles and sustainability

July 25, 2019 by  
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A leading green economy nonprofit, Green America, released a report ranking top fashion companies based on their sustainability and transparency. The results reveal the inadequacies of greening the fashion industry.  Their study investigated 14 major corporations, each with household-name brands. The report scored companies based on transparency, sustainability, working conditions, chemical use, waste and water management. Their findings concluded that none of the top 14 corporations, nor their distinct brands, can be considered industry leaders in terms of ethics or the environment . However, the companies that ranked higher than average include Target, Jan Sport, Nike, Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic and The North Face. Companies that scored below average include Ann Taylor, American Eagle, Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie and Fitch, Walmart, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and Free People. Related: Zara pledges 100% sustainable fabrics by 2025 The worst companies, which failed metrics on Green America’s score card, include J. Crew, OshKosh B’gosh and Forever 21. “Consumers want sustainable clothing, and the market is responding. But too often, many of the promises we hear from conventional companies are token sustainability initiatives that are band-aids to one small part of the problem, or empty platitudes without a plan to achieve real change. Sustainability shouldn’t just be a marketing trend,” said Green America’s social justice campaigns manager, Caroline Chen.  The report also called out corporations’ practice of promoting “token brands,” or one eco-textile line that they can use for public relations knowing that consumers will associate their name with sustainability without looking further into the rest of their lines. Similarly, many corporations make sweeping sustainability pledges without specifying metrics nor timelines and hardly follow through with implementation. Overall, the textile industry uses 43 million tons of toxic chemicals every year, and most companies do not disclose the source of their chemicals so it is difficult to understand the health impacts. Green America’s report suggests that those who are concerned about chemicals in clothing should shop at thrift stores and wear clothing until it wears out– this not only helps reduce the amount of new clothing produced, it also reduces how many chemicals you are personally exposed to. + Green America Images via Pixabay

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Go green in your bedroom with these sustainable decor picks

April 24, 2019 by  
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Whether you’re building, have just moved into a new home or are renovating your current room, considering eco-friendly materials can be a healthier decision for both you and the environment. Here are some floor-to-ceiling options for your space. Flooring Introduce sustainable products to your room starting from the ground up. Flooring is a significant investment during any remodel, but the price of eco-friendly options are holding pace with more conventional products these days. Cork is a natural product that doesn’t require cutting down the tree for harvest. The cork is a bark that actually grows outside the tree and is shaved off. Cork is anti-microbial and fire resistant. Bamboo , increasingly used in many products from building materials to socks, continues to see a rise in popularity because of the quick regrowth and environmentally friendly growing practices. Glass tiles, concrete and rubber are other options. If you are looking for carpet, check into wool or those made with recycled plastic (PET). Related: The best eco-friendly floor options for your home Paint In your effort to bring the green into your bedroom, choose any color of recycled paint . More and more companies are recycling unused paint, bringing it back to life instead of adding to the waste stream. There are also paints with soybean and sunflower oils as well as recycled plastic for the resin. Vegetable matter, clay, chalk and other natural materials are just some of the options paint manufacturers have incorporated into their products. Furniture With new flooring and wall color, it might be time to switch out the bedroom furniture, too. Fortunately, there are many furniture options that offer a sustainable solution. You can choose from bamboo and other natural woods, of course. But then there are furniture options made with recycled materials like the Sactional , which recycles water bottles in the manufacturing process. Buying pre-owned items is another earth-friendly option. If you decide to buy new, look for companies with good sustainability practices like West Elm, which is FSC- and fair-trade certified and made in the U.S. Plants Incorporating houseplants into your interior design not only adds visual interest and the calming vibes of nature, but also freshens the air by adding oxygen and removing carbon dioxide. Plants in your bedroom can hang from a hook in the ceiling, sit in a window sill or rest on a piece of furniture. One tricky thing about houseplants is that photosynthesis mostly takes place during the day, which means they may release that carbon dioxide back into the air while you’re sleeping. Certain plants such as orchids, succulents, snake plants and bromeliads, however, work in the opposite way, cleaning up the air while you slumber. Related: 9 ways to introduce nature into your dull work space Air purifiers Even though plants help, commercially available air purifiers can really filter out allergens . They come at a cost though —  to both your pocket and the waste stream. Instead, look into eco-friendly options to purify your bedroom air like the low-power consuming Andrea Air Filter that uses plants to more effectively filter the air. Another option is the Chikuno Cube, a natural air purifier made from an ultra-fine powder of activated bamboo charcoal and clay minerals. Himalayan pink salt has natural purification capabilities. This material is available in a variety of lamps that also offer a unique touch to your decor. To minimize the pollutants in your room from petroleum-based candles , incorporate natural beeswax candles instead. Eco-friendly electronics If you must have electronics in your room, be sure to choose those that use less energy and produce less waste. Start by checking out the Energy Star label on any televisions you consider purchasing. An even more in-depth rating comes from the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, or EPEAT. Products with this certification have met standards in eight key areas of environmental concern such as material selection, post-consumer waste, packaging and extension of lifecycle. If you are replacing an old TV, be sure to recycle it responsibly. Another product that might be in your bedroom is a computer. Newer models have become quite eco-friendly, too, but you have to look a little harder for them. Our favorite example is the options from iameco , a Dublin company that offers a 10-year design with replaceable and upgradable parts. The computers use less energy than others on the market and the casing is made from wood rather than plastic. Lighting Another source of energy consumption in your room is lighting. For a central light, a ceiling fan can work double-time as a light and fan, which can make the room more pleasant while offering some energy savings. For wall- or ceiling-mounted lights, look for products made with natural or recycled materials. Consider buying secondhand to intercept products from entering the waste stream. Related: 10 money-saving tips for a green home Also pay attention to the bulb. Standard halogen incandescent, compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and light emitting diode ( LED ) bulbs uses significantly less energy than an old-school incandescent. Linens We’ve covered a lot of the germane materials you might add to your room during a remodel or upgrade, but also consider your covers. Sheets, blankets and comforters can have a significant environmental impact. Choose organic cotton instead of standard cotton, which creates chemical runoff. There are several certifications you can look for in your linens, each with its own standards and criteria regarding sourcing and types of materials, treatment of employees and environmental practices. These include Certified B Corporation, Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX®, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Green Business Certification. Images via Shutterstock

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Go green in your bedroom with these sustainable decor picks

Bananatex launches a sustainable material revolution at Milan Design Week

April 9, 2019 by  
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A party of three has collaborated to create a multi-purpose material sourced entirely from banana leaves. Swiss bag brand QWSTION, a yarn specialist from Taiwan, and a Taiwanese weaving partner spent four years developing the new material, which is being revealed at the 2019 Milan Design Week. The strong, flexible material, called Banantex, offers a new universal option in the search for sustainable materials . Beginning at the source, the banana leaves come from a natural ecosystem of sustainable forestry in the Philippines. The banana trees grow naturally without the use of pesticides or other chemicals. Plus, they do not require any additional water. The banana plants are a boon to an area previously eroded by palm plantations, bringing back vegetation and a livelihood for local farmers. Related: See how banana trees are recycled into vegan “leather” wallets in Micronesia With a long history of creating materials from sustainable resources, QWSTION saw the strength and durability of the banana leaves that were used in the Philippines for more than a century as boat ropes. Following three years of research and development, the bag company finalized the plant-based material. As a bag company, the first products they put together are backpacks and hip pouches, made completely with the plastic-free material. The larger goal, however, is for other companies to use Banantex in their own production, spreading the application to any number of industries that could eliminate many of the synthetic materials on the market today. United with the common goal of inspiring responsible product development, the team conceived the idea as an open source project with this in mind. The characteristics of the material makes this idea easy to imagine since it is durable, pliable and waterproof. Plus, it is biodegradable at the end of the life cycle, significantly reducing post-consumer waste rampant in the clothing and accessories industries in particular. The display will be open to the public at Milan Design Week on April 9-14, 2019. + QWSTION Images via QWSTION

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Bananatex launches a sustainable material revolution at Milan Design Week

New rooftop solar hydropanels harvest drinking water and energy at the same time

November 29, 2017 by  
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Sunlight + Air = Water . It’s a seemingly befuddling equation, but it’s at the heart of a new solar hydropanel developed by Arizona-based startup Zero Mass Water . Called SOURCE, the panels can be installed atop any building just like a standard photovoltaic, but instead of just harvesting solar energy, it uses the sun’s rays to pull water from the air. Indeed, each panel has the potential to draw up to 10 liters (2.64 gallons) of water per day. So how does it work? Each SOURCE array consists of a standard solar panel flanked by two hydropanels. As explained by The Verge in the video above, the photovoltaic at the center of the array drives a fan and the system’s communication with the hydropanels. The hydropanels themselves consist of two different proprietary materials, one that can generate heat, and another that can absorb moisture from the air. Together they are able to condense water into an onboard, 30-liter reservoir where it is mineralized with calcium and magnesium. From there, the water can be siphoned directly to a drinking tap. As one might guess, the amount of humidity in the atmosphere and solar energy available will affect the payout. However, Zero Mass Water says that even low-humidity and arid regions can effectively benefit. The company’s CEO, Cody Friesen, cited the array atop his headquarters as an example. “Our array on the Zero Mass Water headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona makes water year-long despite low relative humidity. The Phoenix-Metro area can get below 5% relative humidity in the summer, and SOURCE still produces water in these incredibly dry conditions,” he said. Additional panels can also be added to optimize water collection, but there is the matter of cost. Right now, the two-panel array costs $4000, plus installation, which runs $500. The whole system has been engineered to last 10 years, which according to  Treehugger ’s calculations, this averages out to about $1.23 per day, or between $0.12 and $0.30 per liter of H2O. To date, hundreds of panels have been set up in eight countries around the globe. Zero MassWater says the installations represent a combination of early adopters who have paid out of pocket for the technology and developing areas and emergency situations where funding has been provided by donors, NGOs, or other institutions. +  Zero Mass Water Via Treehugger  and  The Verge Images via Zero Mass Water

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New rooftop solar hydropanels harvest drinking water and energy at the same time

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