9 tips for eco-friendly Black Friday, Cyber Monday shopping

November 27, 2019 by  
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Shopping is an ubiquitous part of American culture that peaks during the holiday season in spurts of deal-hunting and gift-giving. Anyone who has made efforts to go zero-waste or plastic-free knows how difficult it can be to maintain those goals while finding meaningful presents for loved ones. So when Black Friday and Cyber Monday roll around, you might experience the internal conflict of responsibility to the planet with the desire to give gifts. We love that you love the planet, so we’ve put together some ideas of ways to enjoy the season without leaving behind a Sasquatch-sized carbon footprint. Watch packaging  When it comes to gifting, watch out for extra packaging, especially plastic foam and molded, unrecyclable plastic . Consider buying items in bulk, as long as they have less packaging and won’t go to waste. You can also bring your own containers for bulk products like bath salts, pet treats and food. As always, bring your own reusable shopping bags, and decline the offer of plastic bags from the store. Related: Avoid the crowds with these 10 alternatives to Black Friday shopping Support sustainable companies More and more companies are working to source natural materials and manufacture products in a sustainable way. Reward their efforts by supporting them as your first choice in gift-giving. For example, select bracelets made from ocean plastic, shoes or sunglasses made from coffee grounds or indoor gardens sourced from recycled plastic. Look for companies that ship using recyclable materials, too. While smaller, sustainably minded companies may not have a flashy ads online or on the TV, they are out there and will often offer discounts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday just like the giant box retailers. You just have to do a little bit of searching. Make your own gifts The most sustainable way to enjoy Black Friday is to be in complete control of the materials used in your gifts. Instead of heading out for pre-packaged and wasteful options, take a trip into the local pottery studio and make some plates, a popcorn bowl or a mug to give as a gift. Upcycle by gathering up special T-shirts and other clothing to have a company make them into a memory quilt (if you have sewing skills, you can also DIY !). Set another date on the calendar for a craft party, and invite friends, family and neighbors to gather and make gifts. Use the Black Friday and Cyber Monday discounts to score some deals at the craft store. Just be sure to look for products that don’t include plastic and emphasize natural materials like hemp, grapevine and organic fabrics. Choose green technology A quick glance through most holiday catalogs will highlight deals on electronics. If TVs and other modern gadgets are on your list, research models that consume less energy and purchase solar-powered items when they are an option. Go for durability While it is likely that not every item you purchase throughout the season will fully fit the sustainability bill, one way you can help the planet is in waste reduction. To meet this goal, keep in mind that a long-lasting product will create less waste than one that is quickly disposed of. Research your purchases and go for items made with real wood instead of pressboard, strong metals instead of flimsy ones and natural materials instead of plastic (think wooden picnic tables and rocking horses for toddlers). The same goes for jewelry, clothing, furniture, kitchen items and decor. Quality counts, both for the gift recipient and for the planet. Look for eco-friendly materials Especially when it comes to textiles , the materials used in production can make a huge difference in the amount of pollutants that end up in waterways and landfills. Select natural fibers for sheets, towels, blankets and clothing. The most obvious example is organic cotton , which eliminates the toxic chemicals such as insecticides, pesticides and fungicides used in traditional cotton production. Minimize driving and stops Stop-and-go city traffic is guilty for contributing to air pollution , so do your part by limiting the number of stores at which you shop. Pick one store for your purchases, or select stores near each other. Even better than driving is to take public transit, bike or walk from shop to shop. Shop local Depending on where you live, shopping local is likely the best thing you can do for the environment. You get bonus points if you can shop at a nearby craft mall or import store with a focus on eco-friendly and/or locally made products. If you do hit up the online deals for Cyber Monday, follow the suggestions above in regards to buying from sustainably minded companies and observing packaging and shipping practices. Gift wrap naturally Once you’ve made or purchased your gifts, continue the eco-friendly trend with thoughtful gift wrapping. Use natural fabric or paper, and accessorize with leaves, flowers, small branches, nuts or fruit. Alternately, recycle greeting cards into gift tags, upcycle tablecloths and pillow cases, put gifts inside gorgeous reusable bags or organize a gift basket with no wrap at all. Images via Shutterstock

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9 tips for eco-friendly Black Friday, Cyber Monday shopping

Collection of plant-based shirts raise awareness of endangered species

November 12, 2019 by  
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Sustainable design label PANGAIA  has collaborated with eco-activist Nadya Hutagalung and artist Raku Inoue on a new, limited-edition capsule collection to raise awareness for five of the world’s most endangered species , including the Sumatran Elephant and Tapanuli Orangutan. The collection includes vibrant, hand-drawn images by Inoue that are printed on PANGAIA’s seaweed fiber T-shirts using natural dyes. PANGAIA has built a world-wide reputation for its commitment to designing functional, sustainable products . The entirety of the sustainable fashion company’s designs are made from natural, eco-friendly materials such as seaweed fiber, flower down, natural dyes, recycled materials and more. Related: The sustainable wardrobe — it’s more accessible than you think Now, the eco-fashion leader is teaming up with world-renowned activist Nadya Hutagalung to raise awareness of five of the world’s most incredible animals that are unfortunately also at the top of the world’s most endangered species list. This includes Sumatran elephants, Tapanuli orangutans, Amur tigers, giant pandas and Sumatran Rhinoceros. Hutagalung is a UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador well-known for her work in the preservation of endangered species across Africa and Asia. The PANGAIA x  Nadya Hutagalung capsule collection features designs printed on PANGAIA’s popular seaweed fiber T-shirts. The artwork by legendary artist Raku Inoue features hand-drawn compositions of the five endangered animals, all surrounded by a natural background of the animals’ native habitats. The T-shirts  include a range of colors, and some of the options for sale feature additional animals that are in peril, such as the bumble bee , the Ceylon Rose butterfly and Kemp’s Ridley turtles. The PANGAIA x  Nadya Hutagalung T-shirts can be ordered at PANGAIA for $85 each. The teams behind the designs have announced that 100 percent of the proceeds from the capsule collection will be donated to the Barumun Nagari Wildlife Sanctuary for mistreated elephants  and the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme. + PANGAIA  + Nadya Hutagalung + Raku Inoue Images via PANGAIA

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Collection of plant-based shirts raise awareness of endangered species

DIY natural cleaners for every household chore

August 13, 2019 by  
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Your home is your castle. It’s where you live, play, relax and sometimes even work or attend school. A clean castle pleases the royal family, but harsh chemicals are unwelcome guests in the kingdom. With the amount of time you spend in your surroundings, considering your air and water quality seems like a good investment. These DIY cleaners are safe for your home, your family and the planet. There seems to be a debate surrounding what products are safe, with every major manufacturer slapping sustainability verbiage on products to promote all-natural, chemical-free and organic assumptions. For the most part, it’s marketing, plain and simple. In truth, most commercial cleaners contain damaging chemicals, even when the label disguises them as healthy options. The only way to really know what you’re cleaning with is to make your own cleaning products, and fortunately there are many truly natural cleaners that will leave the sparkle without the chemical aftermath. Related: Get ready to use soapnuts for everything from cleaning to self care Ingredients Vinegar Vinegar is nature’s cleaner. It can be used outright on nearly every surface. It is great as a versatile cleaner for everything from countertops to windows. Although not touting antibacterial qualities, it is biodegradable . Lemon Lemon juice has natural antibacterial qualities. Although many store-bought products have a lemon scent to sell this message, including fresh lemon in your own cleaners gives you assurance that it’s the real thing. Baking soda Another ingredient found in many cleaning recipes, baking soda offers superior odor neutralization and has impressive stain-fighting capabilities.  Liquid castile soap Castile soap is a plant-based product that has been used for generations in different forms. Dr. Brommer’s is a commonly used brand that you might recognize. It is naturally sourced from vegetable fat, so it is non-toxic and biodegradable, meaning that it’s good for the environment, too. Hydrogen peroxide Inexpensive and readily available, hydrogen peroxide makes a great non-toxic disinfectant for your household surfaces. Simply spray and leave to bubble for a minute or two before wiping clean. Make sure to store hydrogen peroxide in an opaque or darker bottle, because light will break down its effectiveness. Note that hydrogen peroxide is not a safe choice for granite surfaces. Borax Borax is a naturally occurring substance that has earned a name in the cleaning industry. However, there is some dispute as to its safety in cleaning products. Although typically only required in small amounts for most recipes, borax can cause skin and breathing problems, so it doesn’t rank high as a healthy cleaner for some. Moreover, it’s toxic to children and pets, so it’s not a good choice for cleaners that touch every surface in your home. DIY natural cleaner recipes Now that we’ve covered the ingredients, let’s get to the recipes, so you can get to cleaning. Multipurpose cleaner This DIY cleaner is good for all floors and most other surfaces. The basic recipe calls for just a few simple ingredients: 1 cup white vinegar, 1 gallon water and essential oils if you wish to disguise the vinegar scent. When cleaning any wood surface, use minimal water and other ingredients. Do not saturate the wood. Apply a light layer with a mop and dry immediately. All-purpose cleaner This is the stuff you can use in the toilet, on the counter or on the floors. Here are a couple of options that will work well: Castile soap all-purpose cleaner 2 cups distilled or boiled water 2-4 tablespoons castile soap 15 drops of your favorite essential oil (we recommend peppermint) Vinegar all-purpose cleaner 1 cup distilled or boiled water 1 cup white distilled vinegar 1/2 lemon, juiced (optional, but store cleaner in the fridge if you do add lemon) 15 drops of your favorite essential oil (we recommend orange) Alcohol all-purpose cleaner 1/4 cup alcohol (rubbing alcohol or cheap vodka) A few drops of essential oil A few drops of eco-friendly liquid soap 13 ounces of water Drain cleaner Set the teapot on to boil and grab the baking soda. Spoon about one cup of baking soda down the drain. Let it slip down as far into the drainpipe as it will go. Then add one cup of lemon juice or one cup of white vinegar. Either will cause a chemical reaction, so pour slowly. The reaction helps eat away at whatever is clogging your drain. After 10-15 minutes, chase it down the drain with several cups of boiling water (use caution). Repeat if necessary. Stain remover When it comes to tackling those deodorant armpit stains on your T-shirts or the unidentified marks on the carpet, look no further than the mixture below. 1/2 cup baking soda 1 tablespoon salt 1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide Create a paste and apply to the stain. Allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes. Remove with water and clean rags, or wash the item in the washing machine. Make sure to dab carpets, and don’t oversaturate. Related: Cora Ball emulates natural filtering of coral to remove toxic microfibers from your washing machine Glass and window cleaner Vinegar and water in a one-to-one ratio will tackle the windows pretty well. If you have a lot of dirt, clean the windows with an eco-friendly dish soap and water solution first. Use coffee filters or recycled newspapers to wipe down the glass . Alternate recipe 1/2 cup vinegar 1 cup rubbing alcohol 2 cups water Combine and use as a spray cleaner for mirrors and windows. Liquid fabric softener Avoid the fabric sheets headed to the landfill . Instead, make your own easy and eco-friendly fabric softener. Although not technically a cleaner, we couldn’t skip putting this one on the list. 1/8 cup food-grade glycerine 2 cups water 2 cups white vinegar Combine and pour 1/3 to 1/2 cup of this mixture into the liquid fabric softener dispenser in the washing machine for fresh, soft sheets and clothes. Images via Conger Design , Monfocus ( 1 , 2 ) and Daiga Ellaby

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DIY natural cleaners for every household chore

Geothermal-powered bus station will use anti-smog blocks to fight pollution

August 13, 2019 by  
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The Polish city of Lublin will soon be home to an environmentally friendly bus station that not only offers a new and attractive public space, but also combats urban air pollution. Designed by Polish architectural firm Tremend , the Integrated Intermodal Metropolitan Station in Lublin will be built near the train station and aims to revitalize the area around the railway station. The contemporary design, combined with its environmental focus and green features, earned the project a spot on World Architecture Festival’s World Building of the Year shortlist.  Located close to Folk Park, the Integrated Intermodal Metropolitan Station was designed as a visual extension of the neighboring green space with a lush roof garden and large green wall that wraps the northern facade. Greenery is also referenced in the series of sculptural tree-like pillars that support a massive flat roof with large overhanging eaves. Walls of glass create an inviting and safe atmosphere, while the administration rooms will be provided with tinted windows for privacy.  To reduce energy demands, the building will be heated with geothermal energy and outfitted with energy-efficient LEDs . Meanwhile, motion detectors will be used to activate the lighting to ensure energy savings. A rainwater collection and treatment system will also be used to irrigate the plants that create a cooling microclimate and improved air quality. Air quality is further improved with the use of “anti-smog blocks,” a modern photocatalytic material containing titanium dioxide that breaks down toxic fumes.  Related: Cepezed completes the first self-sufficient bus station in the Netherlands “Architecture of public places is evolving in my opinion in a very good direction,” says Magdalena Federowicz-Boule, President of the Tremend Board. “Combining different spaces, open shared zones favors establishing contacts. The communication center, which is to be built in Lublin, is to revive it for revitalization district and become a meeting place where people will be able to meet and spend together time in an attractive environment with green areas. The project is also a response to problems, related to environmental protection and city life, such as smog , water and energy consumption, noise. It is an image of how we perceive the role of ecology in architecture.” + Tremend

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Geothermal-powered bus station will use anti-smog blocks to fight pollution

Celebrate inclusivity and sustainability with these outdoor Pride activities

June 10, 2019 by  
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June is Pride month, and there are celebrations happening in major city centers all over the world. A small but growing number of activities is also happening throughout the most wild and natural corners of the U.S. and beyond. LGBTQ+-focused outdoor activities and safe spaces are increasing in number and visibility, and though there are more this month than ever, they are all part of a movement to promote inclusivity and representation among those who love the outdoors — and those who don’t know they love it yet. Where to find outdoor Pride activities The Venture Out Project This LGBTQ+-owned company has hosted queer-specific trips since 2014. This June, it is offering a Queer & Trans, Indigenous, People of Color Backpacking Trip in Vermont and a Queer Arctic Adventure in Canada. It also offers more low-key day hikes , family trips and youth service projects. Related: The ultimate checklist of backpacking essentials Canyons River Company Based in Idaho, this company offers a River Pride Trip, a six-day rafting trip on the Salmon River that includes wine tasting . National Outdoor Leadership School This organization has an LGBTQ+ backpacking trip in Utah, which takes place over nine days and is led by queer instructors. Outdoor adventures for LGBTQ+ youth Learning in the outdoors has proven benefits for kids, including building skills and self-esteem as well as increasing performance in the classroom. A limited number of LGBTQ+-focused youth trips and activities allow youth to explore their identities and the outdoors in a safe, inclusive space. Out There Adventures is a Seattle-based company that offers trips led by queer instructors for LGBTQ+ youth. It is offering two Pride-focused events this summer: a rafting and service trip for teenagers in Oregon and a Yosemite trip in July. According to one young participant of an Out There Adventures trip, “I would get these overwhelming feelings of being at home and knowing that those were some of the only moments in my life where I was 100 percent sure that I was in the right place and 100 percent sure that it was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I would be willing to do things to keep myself in good health and motivated and educated in order to achieve those feelings over and over and over.” Events in your own backyard If you don’t have the interest or ability to attend a far-flung trip to celebrate Pride, you can focus locally on ways to get outside and active. Many cities have 5K runs, walks or dance events as part of their Pride festivities. This can be a great way to get fresh air and exercise , especially for people who get their motivation from community members or a loud bass line instead of a babbling brook. Research your local gym and see if it is hosting any Pride events, like Homoclimbtastic in West Virginia. If the gyms near you are not hosting an event, speak up and ask why not. The more interest they hear, the more likely they are to consider adding something to the calendar next year. Check out MeetUp.com to find groups of like-minded people in your area. There might already be an LGBTQ+-focused outdoor group near you. If not, create one yourself! How to be eco-friendly at Pride parades The Seattle-based organization OUT For Sustainability aims to make Pride events around the country carbon-neutral and zero waste . Follow the organization’s Greener Pride tips for a more sustainable celebration: • Bring your own water bottle to the parade. • Bring a reusable bag to collect promotional items. • Make a colorful outfit from items you already own instead of buying a new outfit. Better yet, make a costume out of recycled materials.• Avoid balloons, glitter and beads. These plastic items are toxic for the environment and detrimental to marine species. Celebrate without them. Instead, try natural body paint, flowers and recycled art. • As a vendor, remove all trash at the end of the day. Do not serve food in plastic foam containers, and offer water for people with refillable bottles. • Reduce or refuse handouts and promotional items, especially plastic items. • Avoid handing out or taking cheap T-shirts that support the unsustainable and unethical fashion industry.• Run your Pride float with electric vehicles or human power instead of diesel fuel. Tips for outdoor companies to be more inclusive Visibility and representation matter LGBTQ+ folks often do not see themselves represented in outdoor brands or websites. Consider your staff and models , and come up with a specific plan about how you will incorporate more identities. Don’t promote people just for the sake of diversity — promote and hire LGBTQ+ staff, models and managers because they are qualified and will inspire a broader audience. “We need to put people from these communities out in the forefront, not because they represent diversity but because they’re great at what they do,” said Elyse Rylander , founder of Out There Adventures. “We don’t have enough roundtables with people who are not white, cisgender dudes talking about their badass outdoor experiences. But we should.” Host LGBTQ+ events If you host trips or events, consider adding LGBTQ+-focused activities. You might take for granted feeling safe and included on hiking trips, but discrimination excludes many people from participating. It’s great to host an event during Pride month, but this is something that matters year-round. Participate in a Pride parade Walk the route or make a float . It can be a great way to show that you care about and serve all types of customers and clients. Manufacture gender-neutral gear Active gear for all genders should come in all color palettes and target all body types. LGBTQ+ outdoor advocates to follow on social media There are many advocates and activists focusing on bridging the gaps between queer folks and the great outdoors. Here are a few amazing leaders to follow on social media : Pattie Gonia A play on the “Patagonia” brand name, @PattieGonia is the self-proclaimed first nature drag queen. Pattie advocates for a more inclusive outdoor industry and takes fabulous photos that combine drag fashion with outdoor gear and awe-inspiring locations. Pattie is also offering LGBTQ+ hikes in a few cities around the U.S. during the month of June. Queer Nature A non-binary duo in Colorado founded @queernature to educate people about deeper connections to nature using both queer and indigenous philosophy and leadership. Unlikely Hikers Jenny Bruso set out to change the stereotype of what an “outdoorsy” person looks like. @unlikelyhikers ’s posts promote diversity and inclusivity in all forms, focusing primarily on body diversity and queerness. Via New York Times Images via Yannis Papanastasopoulos , Nic , Levi Saunders , Pineapple Supply Co. and NeonBrand

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Celebrate inclusivity and sustainability with these outdoor Pride activities

Flow Hive takes the hassle out of honey harvesting

June 10, 2019 by  
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Stuart and Cedar Anderson come from a long line of beekeeping, but the father and son duo are revolutionizing the beekeeping world with their own invention, the Flow Hive . The innovative beehive lets beekeepers reduce stress on their bees by harvesting fresh honey without opening the beehive, instead letting the honey flow freely on tap. As many beekeepers know, harvesting honey is a long, arduous process that not only disturbs the hard-working bees and their homes, but is also back-breaking work for the beekeeper. Related: BEEcosystem observation hives can be installed inside or outdoors Coming from three generations of beekeepers , Stuart and Cedar Anderson knew that there had to be a better way to reap the rewards from keeping hives. According to the father and son team, “It all started because Cedar felt bad about bees being crushed during the honey harvest. He was sick of being stung and having to spend a whole week harvesting the honey from his small, semi-commercial apiary.” Putting down their protective veils and putting on their designer hats,  Stuart and Cedar designed a new beehive , built with an integrated honey harvesting system that eliminates the need for removing honey cell frames. The Flow Hive is a compact timber structure made out of laser-cut sustainable Western red cedar. The apiaries come with a pitched roof with sliding observation windows on both sides and a front window that sits over the honey shelf. The hives can contain three or more frames, which are comprised of a partially completed honeycomb matrix. The bees fill the remaining cells with nectar, which eventually evaporates into honey. Once the honey is ready to be harvested, the beekeeper only has to insert a Flow Key into the top of the frame. When turned, the wax runs down a trough and into a tube, eventually flowing like liquid gold into jars. The process is much less stressful for all of the parties involved, but especially for the bees , who, after the harvesting process, realize that the comb is empty and begin to repair and refill the cells once again. + Flow Hive Images via Flow Hive

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Flow Hive takes the hassle out of honey harvesting

Berlin T-shirt vending machine shows shoppers real cost of cheap fashion

May 3, 2015 by  
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Would you be tempted to buy a T-shirt from a flashy-looking urban vending machine for less than $3? Berliners recently had the opportunity and many pounced, unaware that their attempted purchase was part of an awareness-raising campaign related to Fashion Revolution Day. The aqua-and-black painted machine offered T-shirts for just €2 or roughly $2.25 USD, but instead, would-be T-shirt buyers received a surprise: images of sweatshop labor with statistics on the abysmally low wages textile workers earn by making cheap T-shirts and such. Click through to learn more about this campaign and see a video of the vending machine in question, as well as find out how you can get involved. READ MORE > Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: berlin , cheap clothing , clothing factory workers , fashion revolution day , sweatshop labor , t-shirt vending machine , textile workers

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Berlin T-shirt vending machine shows shoppers real cost of cheap fashion

Project Repat Upcycles Your Old T-Shirts into Blankets

May 31, 2013 by  
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Let’s face it, many of us collect T-shirts, often unintentionally. We get them at school events, road races, fundraisers and as travel souvenirs. Those T-shirts may be valuable to us because of the memories associated with them, but…

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Project Repat Upcycles Your Old T-Shirts into Blankets

Why T-Shirts Can’t Be Recycled into New T-Shirts

May 9, 2013 by  
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When you donate a pile of old T-shirts to a local charity, they will not be recycled back into T-shirts. The fibers are usually too worn to be made into soft fabric. That doesn’t mean, though, that these fibers go …

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Why T-Shirts Can’t Be Recycled into New T-Shirts

Corn Silos Reimagined as Bed and Breakfast in Oregon

May 9, 2013 by  
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Written by Clint Williams, Mother Nature Network Famers are known for making do with what they have. Turning a bit of inner tube into a tractor fan belt, for example. Or, say, converting idle grain silos into luxury suites for …

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Corn Silos Reimagined as Bed and Breakfast in Oregon

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