7 tips for a sustainable Thanksgiving celebration

November 25, 2019 by  
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Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate abundance, health and family, so it is the perfect time to focus on the health of the environment — the land that sustains us and makes the holiday possible in the first place. Enjoy your celebration and give back to nature at the same time with these sustainable tips for the upcoming holiday. Remember that each small step has an impact, so look for ways you can make easy, eco-friendly swaps throughout your Thanksgiving festivities. Decorate naturally It’s fun to bring out the fall decor, bursting with color and scents of the season. But before you head down the pumpkin spice aisle at the local store, consider ways you can decorate naturally instead. Pick up gourds and pumpkins for the porch as well as a hay bale and corn stalks to complete the vibe. Everything can go into the composter later in the season for zero waste . Related: 5 tips for beautiful, sustainable Thanksgiving decor Inside the house, craft some homemade grapevine wreaths embellished with mini pumpkins, pinecones, nuts or berries. Take the kids out to collect colorful leaves, acorns and rocks. Press the leaves or put together a Give Thanks paper banner, with each letter spelled out in natural materials . For centerpieces, carve out pumpkins and insert candles or fill a traditional cornucopia of edible goodness. Alternately, use colorful, clear or reflective metal bowls of produce such as lemons and limes, squash or apples. Travel less Thanksgiving is one of the biggest travel holidays of the year. The impact of those trips leaves a heavy carbon footprint on the planet. With the fuel emissions of planes and cars, the easiest way to celebrate the day sustainably is to remain close to home. Use the holiday as an opportunity to volunteer at a soup kitchen or gather coworkers and friends without plans for a friendly feast. Get outside Electronics put a drain on natural resources , too, so skip watching the football game (or at least the third one) in favor of playing your own game outside. If you do not prefer contact sports, take the crew out for a nature hike or bike ride. Tour a local park, go for a paddle or cue up the cornhole in the backyard. Not only does time outside mean you’re not consuming electricity, but it’s also good for your health, both physically and mentally. Skip single-use dinnerware One of the simplest ways to reduce waste and pollution is to set the table with reusable plates, utensils and cups. You don’t have to put out china, but skip the plastic foam and plastic-covered plates in favor of the real thing. The same goes for silverware and glasses. Yes, this means you’ll have more dishes, but consider it quality bonding time with family when you work together to clean up everything. Ditch plastic With natural decor and reusable dinnerware, your plastic consumption will be low, but also look out for packaging on the food products you buy, fill water pitchers instead of using bottled water and reuse small cottage cheese, yogurt or butter containers to send leftovers home with your guests. Plan your meal carefully The Thanksgiving feast is a central component of the holiday, with Grandma’s famous yams and your aunt’s homemade pumpkin pie taking the spotlight. Keep looking forward to the favorite family recipes during the holiday, and supplement those must-have items with earth-friendly choices. Make several sides of fruits and vegetables. Also, lessen the quantity of meat, a leading cause of methane pollution for the environment. If skipping the meat isn’t an option for your family, reduce portion sizes and dish out bigger servings of fruits and vegetables. Related: How to host a zero-waste Thanksgiving dinner When it comes to planning the feast, look to your local market or fruit stand. Invest in organic produce and be rewarded with wholesome food that didn’t add toxins to the planet in its journey to your plate. In short, buy local, organic foods as the best choice for the planet. Freeze and reheat leftovers Many of us correlate the holiday with overindulgence, and it’s sometimes hard to avoid when everyone brings their favorite foods. Try to avoid waste upfront with realistic quantities of foods, and do your part to practice self-control when it comes to overeating. Once the meal wraps up, make use of leftovers with a second dinner. Invite friends or colleagues over on Friday for a Friendsgiving. You could also take leftovers to work to share. If everyone is burned out on turkey, throw it into the stock pot along with the leftovers from the vegetable tray for a delicious soup. Another option is to freeze leftovers for a later date. Celebrate the season and the planet with a plan to reduce plastic consumption, limit the impacts of travel and avoid food waste . Happy Thanksgiving! Images via Debby Hudson , Jill Wellington , Nel Botha , Terri Cnudde , Roman Boed and Shutterstock

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7 tips for a sustainable Thanksgiving celebration

Exploring the business case for carbon removal

November 11, 2019 by  
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New approaches, from CO2-sucking materials to regenerative agriculture, were in the spotlight at VERGE 19.

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Exploring the business case for carbon removal

Behind those hookups between carbontech firms, oil and gas majors

October 29, 2019 by  
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In the spotlight: the burgeoning relationship between direct air capture firm Carbon Engineering and Oxy Low Carbon Ventures.

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Behind those hookups between carbontech firms, oil and gas majors

Twisting brick facade fronts an innovative courtyard house near Chicago

June 12, 2019 by  
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In a Chicago suburb full of traditional gabled rooflines, California-based architectural firm Brooks + Scarpa has inserted a modern dwelling that puts a sculptural twist on a humble and overlooked building material: Chicago “Common” brick. Historically considered unattractive and only fit for unseen areas such as chimney flues, Chicago “Common” brick is given renewed attention in a recently completed courtyard house , dubbed the Thayer Brick House. Not only does the contemporary home use the brick for almost its entire facade, but it also shines the spotlight on the local resource with a sculptural, street-facing facade that’s made with twisting columns of stacked brick. Made from indigenous Michigan clay, Chicago “Common” brick has long been considered undesirable and cheap due to its variations and irregularities. Instead of the classic red color, the prosaic material takes on a more yellow hue and has been traditionally used for areas hidden from the street, such as the side and back walls, chimney flues and structural support behind the facades. In making Chicago “Common” brick highly visible in the Thayer Brick House, Brooks + Scarpa is celebrating a local material and inviting passersby to reconsider unexpected uses for everyday materials and concepts. Related: A mountain refuge in Spain is brought back to life with brickwork “By using the familiar in an unfamiliar location and application, the material becomes perceptually both old and new at the same time,” the firm said. “This makes one more aware of not just the building, but also our sense of place. There is a sense of discovery, something spontaneous and unexpected. The object is important, but it’s the experience that has a profound impact and leaves something that lasts well beyond the mere physical and visual existence of the building. This gives us the opportunity to not only learn about design but also about ourselves, our collective cultures and our place in society.” The use of Chicago “Common” brick helps contextualize the building and gives the building an unexpected appearance. The street-facing facade is made up of columns of brick rotated at varying degrees to make the courtyard look open or closed depending on where the viewer stands. Passersby can see the full effect of the facade, which has a moire-like pattern that appears to move as one walks past it. The sculptural facade also has the added benefit of reducing glare and providing privacy to the fully glazed interior volume. + Brooks + Scarpa Photography by Marty Peters and Brooks + Scarpa

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Twisting brick facade fronts an innovative courtyard house near Chicago

Are electric bikes the future of transportation? We tested one to find out

April 10, 2018 by  
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At first glance, it might seem like the standard bicycle doesn’t have much you could improve on. It gets you to your destination faster, provides a great workout, and doesn’t pollute the air. And, of course, once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget. However, in sprawling modern day cities—Los Angeles, we’re looking at you—bikes are sometimes less than ideal as a form of transportation. Cyclists can certainly brave the crowded streets and longer commutes, but they’re far more likely to be exhausted, or at least uncomfortable, at the end of their ride. That’s where the electric bike comes in. Electric bikes, or e-bikes, have been around for a few years, but a recent increase in popularity has thrust them into the spotlight—and for good reason. As more and more people move to urban areas, we’ll have to find new ways of creating urban mobility if we want to stop problems of traffic congestion and air pollution from becoming worse. The electric bikes provides an excellent solution to this problem: by making commutes less intensive, it serves as a viable alternative to cars and lets riders enjoy their time outside and explore their city. Related: Copenhagen now has more bikes than cars Here at Inhabitat, we decided to test out an e-bike for ourselves to see just how different it was from a standard bicycle. On a typically sunny SoCal day, I headed down to Electric Bikes LA in El Segundo, a small suburb south of LAX, and picked up a Porteur Faraday bike . The bike itself was gorgeous, painted bright white and mint green, with sleek bamboo fenders above the wheels. The battery, which can last 25 miles when fully charged, was cleverly integrated into the frame of the bike. At the very least, I thought as I wheeled the bike out the shop’s front door, I would be riding in style, and nobody would know the bike was electric. I took the e-bike to a nearby park, then started out on a rutted dirt path. At first, I found I had to pedal a little harder than usual. Electric bikes weigh more than standard bikes, though, at 40 lbs, the Faraday models are much lighter than other brands. Once steady, I reached down with my thumb and switched the motor to full speed. And even though I had read about electric bikes and what they could do, I was not at all prepared for what happened next. Imagine flooring it in a car—the way the vehicle leaps forward, the landscape on either side turning to a blur. It was a little like that, except all I had to do was pedal, and instead of going from zero to sixty, I felt the bike comfortably pull me forward as I went from zero to twenty. Even so, I let out a whoop as I shot effortlessly through the park, then slowed down with ease and turned onto the street. Once I joined traffic, I dropped the motor speed down a notch, but that didn’t stop me from outpacing the cars beside me. I even spotted a few of the drivers giving me incredulous glances as I sped past. Granted, I was on residential streets, but I could understand—it’s not often that you see a cyclist pass a car without even breaking a sweat. As I navigated around El Segundo, I toggled between speeds, testing out various combinations. The motor essentially functions as a gear shift, allowing you to pair each setting with gears one through eight. The bike itself uses a Gates carbon drive belt that not only means less long-term maintenance, but also no greasy pant legs and a quieter ride. I found that the bike shifted seamlessly based on whatever speed I desired, which allowed me to pedal less while maintaining momentum. But I knew there needed to be one more test: the hill. El Segundo’s elevation changes aren’t exactly staggering, but still, I figured getting a 40-pound electric bike up a hill might take some effort. I tried it twice, only turning on the motor the second time. The first time, I have to admit that I was huffing and puffing by the time I got to the top. The next time around, I flipped on the motor and went up two gears, and I ascended the hill in about half the time, pedaling with ease. Once I got back home, charging the bike was a simple process. The adapter is about the size of a typical laptop charger and plugs straight into the battery pack. From a completely empty battery to full charge took around two and a half hours. The verdict? Faraday’s electric bike handles and rides like a dream, and it’s easy to imagine using it to commute in L.A., or any city, really. In fact, Los Angeles is just one among many cities where it can be faster to ride a bike than drive . An electric bike isn’t exactly cheap—the average retail price in 2016 was $3,000, and Faraday’s two models go for $3,499 and $2,499—but, as an alternative to other forms of transportation, it makes sense. Faraday itself offers a 24-month financing plan that knocks the price down to $104 a month, which is about the same price as a bus or metro pass in most major cities, and far less expensive than paying for gas and insurance. Plus, you have the added benefit of appreciating and experiencing your city rather than seeing it through a car window. While the concept is still relatively new, I don’t doubt that electric bikes could be on the rise as a transportation alternative —one that’s greener, faster, and much, much more pleasant than sitting in traffic. + Faraday Bikes Photos by Angela Molina and Kimberly Keller Additional images via  Faraday Bikes

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Are electric bikes the future of transportation? We tested one to find out

Major supermarket chain is the first in the UK to remove palm oil from all its food

April 10, 2018 by  
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Over half of products in supermarkets contain palm oil , according to United Kingdom (UK) grocery store chain Iceland , and demand is contributing to deforestation . Iceland plans to do something about it by becoming the “first major UK supermarket” to eliminate palm oil from its own label products by the close of 2018. BREAKING NEWS: We're the UK's first supermarket to commit to removing #palmoil from our own label products by the end of this year! Watch here to find out why… #PalmOilAlarmCall pic.twitter.com/hfGvH2QRDW — Iceland Foods ?? (@IcelandFoods) April 10, 2018 Palm oil is one of the largest causes of deforestation in the world, according to Iceland , which specializes in frozen foods. So they plan to remove it from their own brand products. “By the end of 2018, Iceland will stop using palm oil as an ingredient in 100 percent of its own brand food production, reducing demand for palm oil by more than 500 tonnes per year,” head chef Neil Nugent said in Iceland’s video above. Iceland said Nugent is working to replace palm oil with fats and oils that aren’t destroying rainforests — The Guardian said this includes oils like vegetable or rapeseed oils. Related: UK researchers are developing an orangutan-safe alternative to palm oil Iceland quoted their managing director Richard Walker on their website as saying, “Until Iceland can guarantee palm oil is not causing rainforest destruction, we are simply saying ‘no to palm oil.’ We don’t believe this is such a thing as sustainable palm oil available to retailers, so we are giving consumers a choice about what they buy.” Deforestation is threatening many species, including the critically endangered orangutan — their population “has more than halved in the last 15 years,” according to Iceland. The World Wildlife Fund describes the animals as gardeners of the forest, “playing a vital role in seed dispersal.” They’re vulnerable in part due to their low reproductive rate — since females only give birth to one infant around every three to five years, it can take a while for the species to recover from declines in population. + Iceland Foods on Twitter + Iceland Environment Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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Major supermarket chain is the first in the UK to remove palm oil from all its food

Is energy productivity the missing link for the Paris Accord?

September 27, 2016 by  
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Renewable energy often steals the spotlight for advancing sustainability, but Climate Week showed movement in another crucial area.

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Is energy productivity the missing link for the Paris Accord?

Amazon, Google and the White House team up to visualize climate risk

September 27, 2016 by  
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A new public-private climate resilience effort is using open data to double down on localized adaptation planning.

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Amazon, Google and the White House team up to visualize climate risk

INFOGRAPHIC: Spotlight on design star Philippe Starck

April 29, 2015 by  
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French design rockstar  Philippe Starck is renowed worldwide for his architectural , product , and interior designs. The son of an aircraft designer and painter, Starck grew up dismantling bicycles and other objects, displaying a sense of curiosity and creativity that would lead him to design some of the most notable landmarks in history. Some of his works include the Asahi Beer Hall (1989), the Louis ghost chair by Kartell, prefab eco-homes, wind turbines , and various other products, including those for brands such as Alessi and Tog. Check out the full-size infographic below to learn some fabulous facts about one of the wunderkinds of the design world. Read the rest of INFOGRAPHIC: Spotlight on design star Philippe Starck Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: facts about Philippe Starck , infographic , Philippe Starck , Philippe Starck facts , Philippe Starck infographic , Starck , Starck architecture , Starck design , Starck product design

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INFOGRAPHIC: Spotlight on design star Philippe Starck

Muzeiko Museum: Bulgaria’s First Kids’ Museum Set to Open in June

April 29, 2015 by  
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Read the rest of Muzeiko Museum: Bulgaria’s First Kids’ Museum Set to Open in June Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: A&A Architects , bulgaria , curtain walls , energy efficient building , geothermal energy , green architecture , green roof , LED lights , Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership , LEED gold certification , museum design , Muzeiko children’s museum , Sofia

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Muzeiko Museum: Bulgaria’s First Kids’ Museum Set to Open in June

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