The latest champion in the battle against climate change: fast food burgers

June 6, 2018 by  
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Swedish fast food chain Max Burgers (MAX) made headlines around a decade ago when it started labeling menu items with carbon footprints. Now, the company is launching what it describes as climate-positive burgers . MAX says it  plants trees to absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than the total emissions of its products. MAX CEO Richard Bergfors said in a statement, “We know that we are part of the problem and together with our guests, we can now be part of the solution.” Climate-positive burgers will pop up this month in just over 130 restaurants around the world — MAX, founded in 1968 in Sweden , now boasts joints in Norway, Denmark, Poland, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Here’s how the company plans to make its menu offerings good for the environment . First, it measures all product emissions, including waste from meals and emissions generated when employees and guests travel to and from MAX restaurants. The company then works in various ways to lower emissions, such as recycling frying oil into biodiesel , recycling heat in restaurants and introducing a Green Family of burgers made with vegetables, beans or Halloumi cheese. Finally, MAX says it captures at least 110 percent of its emissions by planting trees. Related: Swiss grocery store chain will be the first to sell insect burgers “The reasoning behind the launch of climate-positive burgers is simple: climate change on our planet is out of control, and we need to stabilize it,” Bergfors said. “To meet the two-degree climate goal set out in the Paris Agreement , the world needs to work harder at cutting emissions and start the work of clearing greenhouse gases that have already been emitted into the atmosphere. Just going carbon neutral is not enough anymore.” One out of three of MAX meals sold today don’t have red meat , according to the company, and the goal is that by 2022, every other meal won’t have red meat. The chain thinks that hitting this target could allow it to reduce emissions by 30 percent in seven years. MAX is also behind an initiative called Clipop , with New Zealand car-sharing company Mevo , to register climate positive products from around the world. The team hopes more companies will get on board. + MAX Climate-Positive + Rethink Burgers + Clipop Images courtesy of Max Burgers

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The latest champion in the battle against climate change: fast food burgers

Chinas first Slow Food Village will promote local foods and traditions

May 24, 2018 by  
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Rural-urban migration in China is at an all-time high, with experts estimating an influx of 243 million migrants to Chinese cities by 2025 . In a bid to combat this wave of migration and raise living standards for farmers, Stefano Boeri Architetti  designed Slow Food Freespace, China’s first Slow Village that follows the philosophy of the Slow Food Movement. The Slow Village pilot project will be presented this week at the 16th Venice Biennial. Founded in Italy in 1986, the Slow Food Movement has grown into a worldwide campaign that promotes local food, traditional cooking and sustainability in agricultural economies. Inspired by this vision, Stefano Boeri Architetti created a Slow Village program for China that comprises three cultural epicenters — a school , a library and a small museum — that would be built in each village and serve as hubs for disseminating farming knowledge and celebrating each area’s unique cultural characteristics. “We easily forget that the rural areas provide sustainability to our daily lives,” Stefano Boeri said. “It is an inevitable necessity of architecture to confront the speed of evolution while also feeding it with the richness of the past. For this reason, we have proposed to enhance the agricultural villages with a system of small but precious catalysts of local culture, able to improve the lives of the residents.” Related: NYC Design Collaborative Shows Communities How To Cook with Ingredients from the Sidewalk The first Chinese Slow Village will be located in Qiyan, in the Southwest province of Sichuan. Stefano Boeri Architetti China will provide its services pro-bono for the design and construction of the first pilot system, including the library, school and museum. Likened to a “single organic accelerator,” the three buildings will teach about the preparation, consumption and supply of food, as well as ancient and deeply rooted food traditions. The Slow Villages are also expected to spur and accommodate tourism. The Slow Food Freespace presentation will take place at the Venice Biennial  on May 25, 2018. + Stefano Boeri Architetti Images via Stefano Boeri Architetti

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Chinas first Slow Food Village will promote local foods and traditions

Zero Waste Bistro offers four days of sustainable food and design in NYC

May 21, 2018 by  
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Sustainability is on the menu at Zero Waste Bistro , a pop-up dining experience and installation that’s exploring how great design can drastically reduce the problem of restaurant food waste. Launched as part of NYCxDESIGN’s marquee event, WantedDesign Manhattan, the four-day Zero Waste Bistro — open May 19 through May 22, 2018 — is presented by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York. The bistro introduces the philosophy behind Nolla, Finland’s first zero-waste restaurant in Helsinki. Recycled and recyclable elements are featured throughout the laboratory of food and design, from the construction materials to the tasting menu. Co-curated by Finnish designers Harri Koskinen and Linda Bergroth, the Zero Waste Food Bistro is helmed by Nolla chefs who have created a thought-provoking tasting menu. They use local and organic ingredients as well as commonly overlooked food byproducts, such as oyster mushrooms with doenjang miso and spent grain crumble. In addition to a dining experience, the pop-up event also includes workshops and talks centered on healthy materials, the circular economy and zero-waste fashion. “It’s time to rethink the way we live, the way we eat and the materials we use,” said Kaarina Gould, Executive Director of the Finnish Cultural Institute . “With Zero Waste Bistro, we’re proposing a future that reduces waste and helps to regenerate our natural environment, making it livable for generations to come; a future that’s already here if we make the right choices.” Zero Waste Bistro is constructed from high-performance recyclable components, including Durat surfaces and ReWall building materials, made entirely from upcycled packaging and industrial waste. All packaging is plastic-free, from Kotkamills’ takeaway cups made from plastic-free repulpable cartonboard to Sulapac packaging products constructed with sustainably sourced wood from Nordic forests. The bistro also prominently showcases iconic Nordic design with Alvar Aalto stools and lamps and Iittala tableware sourced from the Finnish Design Shop , the world’s largest online store for Nordic design. Related: Britain’s first zero-waste store is packaging-free and only sells ethical goods The Zero Waste Bistro’s tasting menu will be served at brunch, lunch and breakfast during the four-day event, which ends Tuesday. You can see a full listing of talks and workshops here . Reservations for the dining experience must be made in advance. + Zero Waste Bistro Images by Nicholas Calcott

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Zero Waste Bistro offers four days of sustainable food and design in NYC

Is there enough water and land on Earth to meet global food demands?

May 21, 2018 by  
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According to the United Nations, there are 7.6 billion people living on Earth today. Of those 7.6 billion, 815 million people are already going hungry . And, on top of that, the UN expects the global population to jump to 9.8 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100. These figures raise a troubling question: will it be physically possible to feed the world’s population as it continues to grow? Do We Have Enough Resources? Currently, we already produce more food than we need to feed the existing global population. According to Gordon Conway, author of One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World?, an equal division of all the food on earth would provide every person with 2,800 calories a day , which is more than enough for a healthy diet. In fact, recent analysis by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations indicated that it would be technically feasible to feed the 2050 population with available land and water. However, that prediction comes with significant caveats. Having enough food doesn’t mean no one will go hungry, as evidenced by the current global situation. And it certainly doesn’t mean we can feed the world sustainably. So, while it may be technically feasible, what needs to happen to truly meet global demand for food without destroying the planet? Overall, there are three main changes we should focus on. 1. Increasing Efficiency While we could potentially clear more land to use for agriculture, it would be better to avoid doing so. The tactics we’ve used to increase yields and farmland in the past have caused severe environmental damage, such as increased erosion and pollution. However, we now know more about farming practices’ environmental impacts and have developed new, high-tech ways to increase farm productivity without damaging the environment. For example, precision farming delivers water and fertilizer to plants much more efficiently. Advanced sensors, automated tractors and more can also help reduce crop loss and increase yield. Organic farming plays a vital role as well, as it reduces the use of harmful fertilizers and pesticides. Related: Less fertilizer, greater crop yields, and more money: China’s agricultural breakthrough These changes will likely have to be implemented in developed countries, since farmers in poorer countries typically have fewer resources and, as a result, focus primarily on their own operations. 2. Changing Diets Different diets require vastly different amounts of land, water and other resources. The most resource-intensive are those of wealthy nations, which tend to eat more animal products. For example, if the entire world followed the same diet as the United States, we would need 138 percent of the world’s habitable land to feed the global population. In other words, it would be impossible. We also tend to waste food by feeding livestock. Livestock consume 36 percent o f crops grown around the world, and their caloric intake far outstrips the calories that humans receive from the resulting animal products. For every 100 calories of grain that we feed to livestock, we can get 40 calories of milk, 12 calories of chicken or just three of beef. If developed countries around the world committed to reducing the amount of food they consume, or if more people removed meat and animal products from their diets, these actions could help save both food and resources. 3. Reducing Waste Reducing food waste is a simple yet crucial way to help feed the world. At present, approximately 25 percent of all of the food calories we produce  – enough to feed every hungry person in the world – is lost or wasted. Surprisingly, one of the most effective strategies for reducing food waste doesn’t have to do with food directly. Instead, it involves societal changes such as reducing poverty, improving access to education and promoting equal rights. In general, quantity of food isn’t the problem, but rather access to the food itself. When people can escape poverty, society as a whole can afford to pay farmers more for their crops, meaning farms can sell their produce domestically rather than export it. Increasing small farms’ profits also enables them to access the resources they need to farm sustainably and further increase yields. So, as it turns out, the earth likely does have enough natural resources to meet our growing demand for food, but it’s not quite as simple as just growing more food. We need to start making some fundamental changes in the way we think about food, agriculture, poverty and hunger to make sure everyone has enough to eat. Images via Unsplash and Pixabay (1) , (2) ,  (3)

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Is there enough water and land on Earth to meet global food demands?

Amazing plant pods can grow more lettuce in a 1010 room than a farm can grow on 1/2 acre

May 2, 2018 by  
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Do you live in a tiny apartment and want to grow your own food ? Aggressively Organic has an answer. The Indiana-based company offers Micro Growth Chamber Systems that can grow more lettuce in a 10-by-10-foot room than an organic farm can grow on a half-acre. The systems use less water, too — a typical Aggressively Organic plant only requires watering once every few weeks. To feed the nearly 10 billion people that could be living on planet Earth by 2050, the Food and Agriculture Organization estimates food production globally will have to increase by 50 percent . The organization also said world hunger seems to be on the rise. Aggressively Organic seeks to tackle food insecurity one micro-garden at a time by giving people the tools they need to grow their own food – whether that’s in an office, dorm room or small studio apartment. Their growth systems are even suitable for people who lack gardening experience. Even cats can’t resist our delicious #BokChoy in our Micro Growth Systems. #hydroponics #AggressivelyOrganic A post shared by Aggressively Organic (@aggressivelyorganic) on Nov 7, 2017 at 7:31am PST Related: This hexagonal indoor farm grows more food in less space with 90% less water Aggressively Organic’s systems employ hydroponics in a simple form without filters or pumps. Their product consists of a foldable cardboard chamber, a liner, a coconut coir disc in which seeds are planted, reusable net cups to hold the plant, and a nutrient solution. There’s no electricity required, although growers can place their indoor gardens under a desk lamp if they can’t keep them in a windowsill. The system is extremely water efficient – it takes 25 gallons of water to grow a head of lettuce in the ground, but Aggressively Organic can produce the same amount of lettuce with 16 ounces of H2O. It’s really this simple to make a huge difference. Are you growing your own food yet? #AggressivelyOrganic A post shared by Aggressively Organic (@aggressivelyorganic) on Nov 8, 2017 at 4:42pm PST Aggressively Organic is currently manufacturing their systems and plan to begin a “Beta 2” round of orders this month. The company will offer different options of its Micro Growth Chamber Systems: a nine pack, which includes nine systems, 108 refills of seeds of your choosing and a grow light for $119; a six pack, with 72 refills and a grow light for $92; or a three pack, with 36 refills and a grow light for $74. Learn more on the Aggressively Organic website . + Aggressively Organic Images courtesy of Aggressively Organic

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Amazing plant pods can grow more lettuce in a 1010 room than a farm can grow on 1/2 acre

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

This plant-based spray makes fruits and veggies last up to four times longer

March 23, 2018 by  
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How do you preserve fruits and vegetables after harvest? Generally, you need cold temperatures. But what if there were an alternative to refrigeration ? That question inspired Santa Barbara-based Apeel Sciences  to create  Edipeel , a post-harvest protection product made with edible extracts from plants . Inhabitat spoke with CEO and founder James Rogers about the product, which forms a micro-climate around each piece of food so it lasts around double the amount of time it would untreated — at least. Hunger continues to be a pressing problem, and as the population grows, humanity must figure out how to feed 10 billion people. This issue formed the basis of a podcast Rogers was listening to while driving through the Salinas Valley. He looked out the window at the greenery of the valley, dubbed the “Salad Bowl of the World,” and wondered how people could go hungry if we were growing so much food. Digging into the issue, he discovered it’s not so much about growing enough calories to feed the planet as it is about keeping what we do grow from perishing. Related: This company wants to turn food waste into building materials — here’s how Rogers found out fruits and vegetables rot through water loss and oxidation. “As a materials scientist, immediately this rang a bell with how people solve this problem for steel ,” he told Inhabitat. “Most people don’t think about it, but steel is highly perishable. It rusts. Metallurgists solved this problem in creating stainless steel, and the way that they did that was by adding additional elements, like chromium or nickel.” Edipeel creates an invisible, edible barrier to keep oxygen out and water in. Apeel recombines edible oils from plants in blends tailored for different kinds of food; think citrus or avocados. The result is a powder that Apeel mixes with water and sprays on the surface of food. It dries into a thin added peel, creating a micro-climate for each piece of produce. “The result is that it can last two, three, four times longer, even without refrigeration,” said Rogers. Worried about harmful chemicals on your food? So were Rogers’ friends. “They said, ‘Hey, sounds like a cool idea, bro, but we don’t want any chemicals,’” Rogers said. Although food is technically comprised of chemicals, some people don’t always think about it that way, so he wondered, “What if we could relegate ourselves only to using those materials that are found in high concentrations in the fruits and vegetables we eat every day to make formulations to use food to preserve food?” Apeel has been developing Edipeel for around six years now with that goal in mind. “We’re not a large chemical manufacturing company saying ‘let’s manufacture a new chemical to solve this problem.’ We’re looking at it from this perspective of: how do we work with nature to solve this problem the right way — not the fast way, not the cheap way, not the way that sacrifices the long-term health of the planet, but how do we solve this with the tool set nature has provided us?” Rogers told Inhabitat. The extracts for Edipeel can come from any vegetable or fruit. “We’re not looking for any weird botanical extract from some crazy flower in the Amazon,” Rogers said. “The materials we need are ubiquitous. If it grows above the surface of the earth, basically we can use it to create our formulations. The materials we’re using are all inert materials. They don’t have any action in and of themselves; they’re just structural. We recompose that structure on the outside of produce. “ Since spoilage is so significant, the way Apeel prices Edipeel means it’s more expensive for retailers not to have it. According to Rogers, “If you’re a retailer and you’re throwing away eight percent of your avocados, we’re able to price our product such that by paying us, you’re still going to save enough money to pay us for the product.” Edipeel is designated “Generally Recognized As Safe” by the Food and Drug Administration and can be used on organic produce. “As soon as you see how it works, you know that this is going to be a thing in the world,” Rogers told Inhabitat. “Seeing it work, even at a small scale, it was like, ‘This is the future.’ It just feels like an eventuality.” This year, Apeel is gearing up to offer Edipeel to commercial partners. Rogers couldn’t say who those partners might be quite yet, but he did say they are premier retailers. + Apeel Sciences Images courtesy of Apeel

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This plant-based spray makes fruits and veggies last up to four times longer

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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First plastic-free supermarket aisle opens in Amsterdam

February 28, 2018 by  
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The world’s first plastic-free supermarket aisle opened on February 28 at the Amsterdam location of the Netherlands -based supermarket chain Ekoplaza. Within this aisle, customers will be able to choose from more than 700 plastic-free products. Eventually, the company hopes to roll out plastic-free aisles at all of its 74 locations. The aisle arrives at a time when global concern over plastic pollution is on the rise and campaigns are being waged to urge companies and governments to change their plastic policies. “For decades shoppers have been sold the lie that we can’t live without plastic in food and drink,” Sian Sutherland, co-founder of A Plastic Planet, told the Guardian . “A plastic-free aisle dispels all that. Finally we can see a future where the public have a choice about whether to buy plastic or plastic-free. Right now we have no choice.” Ekoplaza is proud to offer an environmentally friendly alternative to its customers. “We know that our customers are sick to death of products laden in layer after layer of thick plastic packaging,” Ekoplaza chief executive Erik Does told the Guardian . “Plastic-free aisles are a really innovative way of testing the compostable biomaterials that offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic packaging.” The plastic-free items, which incorporate biodegradable materials whenever possible, will not be any more expensive than those wrapped with plastic. According to anti-plastic campaigners, the aisle will serve as a “testbed for innovative new compostable bio-materials as well as traditional materials such as glass, metal and cardboard.” Related: Iceland supermarket commits to eliminating plastic within five years According to activists, the grocery store sector accounts for 40 percent of all plastic packaging. “There is absolutely no logic in wrapping something as fleeting as food in something as indestructible as plastic,” Sutherland said. “Plastic food and drink packaging remains useful for a matter of days yet remains a destructive presence on the Earth for centuries afterwards.” Ekoplaza’s first step into a plastic-free world should be emulated by others. “Europe’s biggest supermarkets must follow Ekoplaza’s lead and introduce a plastic-free aisle at the earliest opportunity to help turn off the plastic tap,” added Sutherland. Via The Guardian Images via Ekoplaza

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First plastic-free supermarket aisle opens in Amsterdam

This whimsical houseboat in Seattle is straight out of a fairy tale

February 28, 2018 by  
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Floating on Seattle’s East Lake, this fairy-tale houseboat – which is on the market for $850,000 – has more storybook features than you can shake a magic wand at. The shingled roof is topped with a turret, and the interior features playful geometric archways, secret nooks, and stained-glass windows. And even the pickiest of princesses will love bathing in the wooden bathtub carved from a 200-year-old cedar log. The design of the 830-square-foot home is quite unique, but the living space in the floating home is surprisingly comfy and inviting. With multiple skylights, floor-to-ceiling windows and stained glass accents, natural light streams throughout the interior. The wooden paneling that covers the flooring and the walls gives the space a cabin-like feel, enhanced by a beautifully hand-carved banister. Vaulted ceilings and geometric archways open up the space. Related: Two photographers are sailing through Europe in amazing handbuilt houseboats The sweet home is filled with lots of character, including hand-carved wooden railings and doors. The living space on the ground floor opens up through two french doors to a large wooden deck that wraps around the home. Two bedrooms and a bath are on the second floor, which is filled with little nooks and reading spaces. For a little bit of solitude, a cozy sitting area has been nestled into the structure’s fairytale turret. Via Apartment Therapy Images via Windermere

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This whimsical houseboat in Seattle is straight out of a fairy tale

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