These colorful hexagonal wall tiles are made from sound-absorbing "wood wool"

April 29, 2018 by  
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These colorful hexagonal wall tiles by Form Us With Love strike a brilliant balance between sustainable materials, economy and functionality. The modular tiles are available in a variety of different colors and can be assembled in various patterns to create a gorgeous mural on your wall. The tiles are made from wood fibers mixed with cement and water, and they have sound-absorbing properties that can actually improve the acoustics of a room. Form Us With Love collaborates with different manufacturing companies to create everyday objects, furniture, and lighting products that challenge conventional design initiatives. For the production of these hexagons, they work with the only manufacturer of wood wool in Sweden – a 20-man traditional family business called Traullit . The tiles are made from wood slivers which are known primarily as excelsior or wood wool in North America. The material is mainly used for packaging, cushioning, insulation, and even stuffing teddy bears. The process of making wood wool cement is very simple: wood slivers are cut from local tree logs and then get mixed with some water and cement, which acts as a binder and provides strength. The mixture is then put into a mold and left to dry into shape. The result is a material that is environmentally friendly, moisture and sound absorbent, and fire and water resistant. + Form Us With Love

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These colorful hexagonal wall tiles are made from sound-absorbing "wood wool"

This moss can naturally eliminate arsenic from water

April 17, 2018 by  
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Through the magic of moss , anything is possible. Scientists at the University of Stockholm have discovered that  Warnstofia fluitans , or floating hook moss, is capable of extracting arsenic from water. The miracle moss is quick, too – it can make water safe to drink in just an hour. Scientists hope to use the breakthrough to develop wetland areas that can filter out arsenic from mining waste to make water clean for people, agriculture and animals downstream. “Our experiments show that the moss has a very high capacity to remove arsenic,” said research assistant and study co-author Arifin Sandhi . “It takes no more than an hour to remove 80 per cent of the arsenic from a container of water. By then, the water has reached such a low level of arsenic that it is no longer harmful to people.” Native to northern Sweden, floating hook moss offers a green, locally-based solution to a problem plaguing its native habitat. “We hope that the plant-based wetland system that we are developing will solve the arsenic problem in Sweden’s northern mining areas,” said study leader Maria Greger , commenting on the environmental legacy of the Swedish mining industry. Although the use of arsenic compounds in wood products was banned in 2004, the deadly element still infiltrates drinking water through mining, which exposes the water table to natural arsenic found deep within Sweden’s bedrock layer. Related: Gooey cactus guts remove arsenic and bacteria from polluted water Arsenic also poses a threat to agriculture , in which crops absorb arsenic-tainted water through their roots. “How much arsenic we consume ultimately depends on how much of these foods we eat, as well as how and where they were grown,” explained Greger. “Our aim is that the plant-based wetland system we are developing will filter out the arsenic before the water becomes drinking water and irrigation water.” The researchers envision the moss being applied to specific areas through its deliberate cultivation in streams and other bodies of water that pose a high risk of arsenic. Lessons learned in Sweden may then serve other parts of the world that also suffer from arsenic-tainted water. Via Treehugger Images via  Arifin Sandhi and Maria Greger

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Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that chomps plastic for lunch

April 17, 2018 by  
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Could we solve the plastic pollution crisis with a mutant enzyme? At a trash dump in 2016, Japanese researchers discovered the first known bacterium that had evolved to consume plastic . The Guardian reported an international team of researchers, building on that finding, began studying the bacterium to understand how it functioned — and then accidentally engineered it to be even better. A new plastic-eating enzyme which could solve one of the world's biggest environmental issues has been discovered by scientists at the University of Portsmouth and @NREL Read more: https://t.co/40SOf85ZW6 @PNASNews #environmentalscience Video credit: @upixphotography pic.twitter.com/U56vcpMoeW — University of Portsmouth (@portsmouthuni) April 16, 2018 Research led by University of Portsmouth and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) teams engineered an enzyme able to break down plastic bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). NREL said the bad news about the find of the bacterium in the Japanese dump was that it doesn’t work quickly enough for recycling on an industrial scale. But while manipulating the enzyme, the international team inadvertently improved its ability to devour plastic. Related: Newly discovered plastic-eating bacteria could help clean up plastic waste around the world John McGeehan, University of Portsmouth professor, told The Guardian, “It is a modest improvement — 20 percent better — but that is not the point. It’s incredible because it tells us that the enzyme is not yet optimized. It gives us scope to use all the technology used in other enzyme development for years and years and make a super-fast enzyme.” This mutant enzyme begins degrading plastic in a few days, a sharp contrast to the centuries it would take for plastic bottles to break down in the ocean . “What we are hoping to do is use this enzyme to turn this plastic back into its original components, so we can literally recycle it back to plastic,” McGeehan told The Guardian. “It means we won’t need to dig up any more oil and, fundamentally, it should reduce the amount of plastic in the environment .” Chemist Oliver Jones of RMIT University, who wasn’t part of the research, told The Guardian this work is exciting, and that enzymes are biodegradable , non-toxic, and microorganisms can produce them in big quantities. He said, “There is still a way to go before you could recycle large amounts of plastic with enzymes, and reducing the amount of plastic produced in the first place might, perhaps, be preferable. [But] this is certainly a step in a positive direction.” The journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published the research. Scientists from the University of Campinas in Brazil and the University of South Florida contributed. + University of Portsmouth + National Renewable Energy Laboratory Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos and Pixabay

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Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that chomps plastic for lunch

Proposed Swedish bridge offers stellar river views with amphitheater-like seating

February 14, 2018 by  
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Erik Andersson Architects has proposed a new type of bridge for Kalix, Sweden that does more than just connect riverbanks—it also doubles as coveted public space. The Swedish Traffic Administration tapped the architecture firm for the proposal in anticipation of the upcoming 2019 replacement of an existing bridge over the Kalix River. The conceptual bridge extends outwards over the water to form amphitheater-like seating where the public can gather and get closer to the river. Located at the junction between the river and the sea in northern Sweden , Kalix owes much to its rivers, from its name to Kalixlöjrom, a culinary delicacy specific to the area. Thus, the Swedish Traffic Administration asked Erik Andersson Architects to design a new bridge that would also serve as a central gathering place by the riverside. Drawing on their experience with bridge design across Sweden, the firm proposed a design that offered separate routes for vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists , as well as public spaces with seating and shelter. Related: Tree-topped bridge to double as public space for a historic Chinese town “The idea behind the bridge is to turn a simple crossing of the river into an experience and create a warm atmosphere,” said Erik Andersson. “The bridge is a hybrid of an amphitheatre and a bridge. We also wanted to make it possible for people to get near the water surface and enjoy the view, while at the same time giving protection from the weather which can get harsh in this part of the country.” To provide shelter, the architects turned the elevated car and cycle paths into a roof-like structure that provides shelter to the pedestrian pathway below. The bridge’s supporting arches are built outwards to serve as gathering spaces that step down to the water and face south to capture the warmth of the sun. + Erik Andersson Architects Via ArchDaily Images via Erik Andersson Architects

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Proposed Swedish bridge offers stellar river views with amphitheater-like seating

Plogging: Sweden’s new fitness trend combines jogging and trash pickup

February 5, 2018 by  
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Plogging is a fitness trend that will help get you and the environment in shape. The BBC reported Scandinavians dreamed up this environmentally friendly form of exercise that blends jogging and picking up trash, and it’s taking off around the world. Joggers are taking their workout to new levels as they simultaneously run and pick up litter . The BBC said not only do ploggers receive the benefits of running, but also of core-boosting squat movements to bend down and grab those bottles, cans, or other junk discarded on the ground. All you need to become a plogger is a workout outfit, a bag to collect garbage, and, ideally, a pair of gloves. Related: This startup is training crows to throw away cigarette butt litter Core77 reported environmentalist Erik Ahlström is one of the movers and shakers behind the trend. When he moved from Swedish ski resort town Åre to Stockholm , he thought the city looked like a dump. He organized jogging groups to run equipped with gloves and garbage bags in an effort to clean up the city. He called this activity plogging, according to Core77, from the Swedish words for “to jog” and “to pick.” Plogga gruppen i Sundsvall går på djupet. Bra jobbat! #sundsvall @plogga A post shared by Plogga (@plogga) on Jul 12, 2017 at 12:27pm PDT Many people tend to sigh when they see litter, but the thought of picking it up still grosses them out. The plogging movement could change that, per the website Plogga , by making it trendy to clean up trash. Plogga cites Ahlström as the creator of plogging and calls on other people to get involved. The organization will help people get started or speak to businesses or schools about the fitness trend. En strålande förmiddag på så många vis! #plogging med underbara människor (för övrigt sjukt mycket skräp på bara en kvart!!!!) och sedan fantastiska stigar kring Hellasgården och stopp för kaffe. Japp, strålande på alla sätt!! ???? #teamnordictrail #plogga #plogging @ecotrailstockholm2017 @teamnordictrail @erikahlstromsweden @mar_ado A post shared by Miranda Kvist (@mirandakvist) on Oct 30, 2016 at 5:59am PDT The craze has caught on around the world. Plogging teams and communities are popping up from Paris to the United Kingdom to Thailand . + Plogga Via the BBC and Core77 Images via Depositphotos and Curtis MacNewton on Unsplash På regnigt uppdrag med bästa PLOGGA gänget i Visby/Almedalen! #plogga #havsmiljöinstitutet #hållsverigerent #almedalen #radiogotland A post shared by Plogga (@plogga) on Jul 4, 2017 at 12:40am PDT Idag har vi ploggat (plockat skräp+joggat). Förenat nytta med nöje. Det kändes så bra att röra på sig samtidigt som vi gav naturen lite ??. Vi fick ihop två fulla påsar på bara 3km. Tänkte köra igen nästa helg. Någon som hakar på oss? @supermiljobloggen @efagervall @markusfagervall @mrultimategreen @hallsverigerent @plogga #plogging #hållsverigerent #ettskräpomdagen A post shared by IDA KJOS (@idakjos) on Sep 16, 2017 at 8:47am PDT Plogging- Environmental tidy up Swedish style ie running whilst pick up rubbish . #plogging ,#plogger ,#swedish ,#environment ,#cleanup ,#runner ,#byronbayrunners A post shared by Geoff Bensley (@geoffbensley) on Feb 3, 2018 at 11:38pm PST

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Plogging: Sweden’s new fitness trend combines jogging and trash pickup

Ruins of Swedens oldest church put on a new A-frame shelter

January 30, 2018 by  
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Medieval history meets modern architecture at Kata Farm, a ninth-century church that now serves as a shelter and exhibition hall in Varnhem, Sweden. Designed by Stockholm-based AIX Arkitekter AB , a new 300-square-meter timber A-frame structure sits atop the remains of Sweden’s oldest Christian church that’s also thought to be the country’s oldest building. Glue-laminated timber was used as the primary material for the new structure. Located on the grounds of Varnhem Abbey, Kata Farm was named after the woman who ruled the farm and allowed the church to be built. The new timber structure, which was built to protect the farm foundations from the elements, is raised on a series of pillars to minimize site impact . An elevated walkway with a glazed railing and signage wraps around the exposed stone ruins and is punctuated by glass panels allowing for top-down views of the burial sites, including Kata’s tomb that dates back to the mid-1000s. Related: Stunning chapel in Japan brings a fractal forest indoors The glue-laminated timber trusses are exposed and timber left unpainted for a minimalist look to complement the excavated grounds. In contrast to the light-colored interior, darker tar-treated pine planks clad the sloped exterior. The building can be accessed via a staircase that leads up to an outdoor deck or a glazed elevator on the opposite side of the building. + AIX Arkitekter AB Via ArchDaily Images © Antonius van Arkel

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Ruins of Swedens oldest church put on a new A-frame shelter

IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad dies at the age of 91

January 29, 2018 by  
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IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad died over the weekend at the age of 91. Kamprad founded the global behemoth in 1943, when he was just 18 years old. Though he became one of the richest people on the planet, he lived frugally, buying used clothes , eating lunch at his own stores and even moving from country to country in order to pay lower taxes. Kamprad stepped down from the company in 2013, after helping to build IKEA into a $44 billion company . The founder of IKEA and one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the 20th century, Ingvar Kamprad, has passed away at the age of 91. A post shared by IKEA Today (@ikeatoday) on Jan 28, 2018 at 2:26am PST IKEA is arguably one of the most important design companies in the world, providing contemporary furnishings at an affordable price point to homes across the planet and changing the way we shop for furniture. Kamprad founded IKEA as a small mail order company and then moved to retail in the 40s. IKEA’s first store opened in Almhult, Sweden in 1958. Today, there are 411 IKEA stores in countries ranging from Saudia Arabia to Slovakia and beyond. Related: IKEA’s billionaire founder only buys used clothes – because they’re cheaper Kamprad was obsessed with innovation and affordability, which helped him build IKEA into the furniture giant that it is today. That frugality seeped into his personal life, as well. He was known to pocket salt and pepper packets from restaurants, bought his clothing at flea markets and recycled his tea bags. Kamprad’s life hasn’t been without controversy. He has received criticism for dodging Swedish taxes, and was a Nazi sympathizer in his youth, a decision that he called the “greatest mistake of his life”. Via Dezeen images via Wikimedia and Deposit Photos

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IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad dies at the age of 91

This floating hotel and spa in Sweden will fill you with wanderlust

January 23, 2018 by  
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The team behind the famous Treehotel in Sweden just unveiled plans for a new floating hotel and spa on the Lule River in that will fill you with wanderlust. The Arctic Bath Hotel and Spa might be the perfect place to enjoy the Northern Lights and work on your well-being while being surrounded by stunning landscapes. As a company that specializes in luxury adventure holidays, Off the Map Travel aims to provide people with exotic travel options and allow them to reach authentic destinations. The newest addition to their handpicked offering is this floating hotel and spa that freezes into the ice in the winter and floats on top of the Lule River in the summer. Related: Floating sauna with charred timber cladding boasts minimal site impact The Arctic Bath Hotel and Spa is a circular building that will house a spa treatment room, four saunas , an outside cold bath, a hot bath, outside and inside showers, and two dressing rooms for visitors. The six hotel rooms included also float or remain frozen into the ice, depending on the time of year. The project is being built using locally available materials and will be open for overnight stays as soon as early 2018. + Off the Map Travel Via AFAR

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This floating hotel and spa in Sweden will fill you with wanderlust

Researchers decipher one of last unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls

January 23, 2018 by  
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Since the first Dead Sea Scrolls were found in a Qumran cave in 1947, most have been restored and published. But the University of Haifa said two researchers from their Department of Bible Studies deciphered one of the last remaining unpublished scrolls – and they uncovered some surprises. Eshbal Ratson and Jonathan Ben-Dov reassembled around 60 fragments – some smaller than 0.155 square inches – that an earlier researcher said had come from different scrolls in a period of over one year. The University of Haifa researchers found these pieces “actually constitute a single scroll,” according to the university, and discovered for the first time that the name given to “special days marking the transitions between the four seasons” by the Judean Desert sect is Tekufah. This word in today’s Hebrew means ‘period.’ Related: Believed tomb of Jesus Christ is far older than previously thought The researchers also obtained new insight into the 364-day calendar the sect used. They said in a statement, “The lunar calendar, which Judaism follows to this day, requires a large number of human decisions. People must look at the stars and moon and report on their observations, and someone must be empowered to decide on the new month and the application of leap years. By contrast, the 364-day calendar was perfect. Because this number can be divided into four and seven, special occasions always fall on the same day…The Qumran calendar is unchanging, and it appears to have embodied the beliefs of the members of this community regarding perfection and holiness.” Another finding was that a scribe corrected errors made by the person who wrote the scroll. The researchers said the author “made a number of mistakes” and another scribe added in “missing dates in the margins between the columns of text.” The Journal of Biblical Literature published the work, and the researchers now plan to decipher the last remaining scroll. + University of Haifa Via The Jerusalem Post and the BBC Images via Haifa University/The Jerusalem Post and Depositphotos

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Researchers decipher one of last unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls

6 ways to make your life more "Hygge" – the Danish secret to happiness

December 26, 2017 by  
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Unless you are from Denmark or Norway, the concept of “hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah) was likely foreign to you until the past few years when this idea of “cozying around” began gaining serious traction. In this big, loud, harsh world, many of us desire a return to good company, simple pleasures, and mindfulness in the moment, and hygge embodies these ideas and more. We’re sharing six ways to help you create this restorative state of mind beloved for centuries in Denmark (by way of Norway ). Image © @quizzically_yours 1. Host a low-key and intimate get-together Small hang-outs with friends are an ideal hygge-promoting gathering. Hygge get-togethers aren’t pretentious: think board game night , card night, or a bagel brunch in the comfort of your own home. The focus of these gatherings is on togetherness, not on spending five hours baking fussy hors d’oeuvres or desserts, so they are perfect for throwing together at a moment’s notice and are super potluck-friendly . An event that gets people absorbed in each other’s company and a low-tech activity that encourages them to detach from their phones is definitely high on the hygge scale. Linked to the concept of hygge is an appreciation of the outdoors, and Danes are known for prizing their open-air time from a young age: babies in Denmark and all over Scandinavia even take their naps outside . Take your gathering outdoors (weather permitting) to bring together the best of both worlds: huddling around an outdoor fire pit definitely fits the bill as does taking a dip in a hot tub. Image © Maria via Unsplash 2. Or make your own solo hygge experience Although hygge is often associated with cozy, candlelit get-togethers with dear friends, you can create your own hygge vibe when you are by yourself. Fredagsmys , a word from Denmark’s Nordic neighbor Sweden , is an actual term used for curling up indoors on a Friday night. So watch a movie, sit on the sofa, or make yourself some hot chocolate or tea and relax with a book (perhaps in front of a fire). Hygge is focused on the idea of enjoying and being aware of simple moments and experiences, so everything doesn’t have to be “just so”: partaking in a free flowing  yoga  practice or a nourishing  soup making  session applies. Image © Alisa Anton via Unsplash 3. Create hygge-friendly spaces in your home While it may be tempting to get caught up in the hygge-buying fever and feel the desire to suddenly possess a plethora of knit throws, cushy pillows, an array of scented candles, and more items, there’s no financial obligation required for creating a warm, comfortable, friendly space. Putting your favorite vintage and reclaimed  knickknacks on display creates a sociable, lived-in vibe. Ditto for items picked up during memorable vacations and roadtrips. If you have a home with large open spaces, consider arranging the furniture that you already own in configurations that encourage intimate tête à têtes. Even a small side table or an ottoman can be a place to gather around, set down your mug, or put your feet up. Interior designer Dani Arps for TaskRabbit suggests, “Texture and natural materials always add warmth; think chunky or nubby blankets stored in a mesh basket that sits next to a reclaimed coffee table.” Related: DIY Meditation Temple Built from Salvaged Materials Photo © Aaron Burden via Unsplash 4. Make space for quiet/meditation Mindfulness and gratitude are definitely components of a hygge mentality, and they dovetail nicely with many people’s goals of having a regular meditation practice. If sitting cross-legged and reciting a mantra isn’t your cup of tea, then consider making your cup of tea the meditation itself. Give yourself permission to really savor and enjoy your morning beverage  without feeling the need to check social media. Or take an invigorating walk with your dog by your side, soak in the tub , journal or even make a phone call to a friend or family member who you can’t connect with in person-these all align with the idea of creating a soothing and reflective practice. Since mindfulness is the goal, avoid multitasking while you are doing whatever activity you choose. Image via Inhabitots 5. Make comforting and nourishing food and drink If you were to scan Instagram, many of the images hashtagged with hygge would start to resemble each other: hands around a warm mug of something, a table laid out with humble but hearty fare, like this mushroom quinoa risotto , a bowl of oatmeal, or fruit and nut-studded granola. Another central tenet in Danish culture is spending time with family , so pulling out a favorite recipe that has been shared over generations for a family gathering is a great way to honor tradition (not to mention the fact that commonly beloved food seems to have a way of smoothing over many family riffs). A super hygge-friendly activity: create an intimate  multigenerational family cooking class with a matriarch or patriarch of the family teaching the younger set how to make a traditional family dish. A few other ideas to get you started include apple cider served in apple cups , a homemade vegan nutella-like spread , one pot sun-dried tomato and basil pasta , and a decadent vegan chocolate cake made with veggies . Image © Antonia Bukowska via Unsplash 6. Put hygge concepts to work year-round Although the idea of cozying around a fire or snuggled up on the couch with our favorites makes winter the season most associated with hygge, the concept of hygge can be employed throughout the year. After all, hygge is a mindset for making “ essential and mundane tasks dignified, joyful, and beautiful ”. To that end, going for a midsummer midnight swim, having a backyard BBQ with a few friends, taking a hike in the spring rain, or organizing a pumpkin picking and carving session could all embody this mind/body/soul-nourishing concept. Lead image ©  Worthy of Elegance via Unsplash

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6 ways to make your life more "Hygge" – the Danish secret to happiness

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