New e-snowmobiles bring eco tourism to the northern lights

November 11, 2019 by  
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Between Norway and the North Pole is Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago and one of the most rugged and northern inhabited areas. With an average January high of 9 degrees and 24 hours of darkness, you might not expect this to be a tourist hot-spot. But the northern lights are drawing bigger and bigger crowds through Svalbard’s dark winter. The trick is making sure that the roughly 75,000 annual visitors don’t overwhelm the environment and culture of the archipelago’s 2,583 year-round residents. One strategy has been to spread tourism out over the entire year, and a new tactic is using electric snowmobiles to explore the area in a more sustainable way. Off the Map Travel, based in England, specializes in Northern Lights travel. Its “Truly Green Aurora Holiday” package has developed the lowest impact Arctic northern lights adventure yet. The team has harnessed Arctic winds to power e-snowmobiles. Off the Map Travel offers the new activity out of Longyearbyen, the Svalbard town where the majority of the population lives. The company recommends this activity from November to January, when the skies over the islands are almost permanently black. Related: Sleep beneath the northern lights in this unique Iceland bubble “Although the northern lights are a natural phenomenon and are never guaranteed, you need clear, dark skies to optimize your chances to see them,” noted Jonny Cooper, Arctic travel expert and founder of Off the Map Travel. “Svalbard’s dark skies and extended aurora viewing are due to the sun’s being at least six degrees below the horizon. This means it can be dark all day, so the northern lights can appear at any time. In effect, the sun never rises.” In addition to the more eco-friendly nature of the e-snowmobiles, they are also much quieter. Unlike the roar of an average snowmobile , the electric variety allows visitors a peaceful and silent experience. “The quiet engine allows for gentle searching of the northern lights, reindeer , ptarmigans and polar foxes,” Cooper said. “Exploring some of the most uncharted areas of our planet has never been more eco-friendly.” + Off the Map Travel Image via Off the Map Travel

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New e-snowmobiles bring eco tourism to the northern lights

LARQ: the world’s first portable, self-cleaning water bottle

November 11, 2019 by  
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Water is a basic necessity of life; however, water can also introduce our bodies to bacteria and illnesses if it is not properly treated prior to consumption. Over the years, treating water has involved adding iodine drops or filtering the water through a carbon-based system. Now, new technology has streamlined the process, offering effective water filtration at the press of a button with the LARQ water bottle. The LARQ water bottle features the world’s first portable, digital water purification system powered by a rechargeable lithium polymer battery. To ensure reliability, the patented, UV-C LEDs last 40 times longer than conventional, mercury-based UV technology. Batteries should be replaced monthly, depending on the frequency of use. Related: Cove launches the first 100% biodegradable water bottle Developing a nontoxic, chemical-, ozone- and mercury-free system sounds complex, but the idea is quite simple. Starting with UV technology that is already used by hospital staff and backpackers for sterilization, the team at LARQ converted the process into an all-in-one, portable option. Water inside the bottle is processed using a UV light built into the lid. With the touch of a button on the top, the water inside is purified in 60 seconds. For added safety, the LARQ water bottle continues to sterilize up to six times a day automatically. In addition to filtering water, the LARQ also sterilizes the bottle, eliminating bacteria prevalent in other water bottles without the hassle of trying to clean those tight necks and narrow vessels. Of course, you can also keep other liquids in your LARQ bottle, which keeps iced beverages cold for 24 hours and hot beverages warm for 12 hours. While the LARQ is an option for providing a healthy water supply, it is also a sustainable choice, replacing single-use water bottles that are problematic for the planet. Plus, it is BPA-free and made with stainless steel for durability. There are also no wasteful filters to replace. The newest collection, LARQ Bottle Movement, was developed with athletes and travelers in mind. The addition of a premium, food-grade silicone grip will prevent slips and keep you hydrated while hiking , playing tennis or kayaking. + LARQ Images via LARQ

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LARQ: the world’s first portable, self-cleaning water bottle

Green-roofed addition brings a mid-century home into the 21st century

November 11, 2019 by  
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There are few things we love more than witnessing the transformation of something old into something new — and sustainable. Washington, D.C.-based firm KUBE architecture has just unveiled the beautiful renovation of a 1950s home , called the Dual Modern Home, that includes a new addition with expanses of floor-to-ceiling glass and a lush green roof. Although the architects breathed new life into the home, they had a great structure to work with from the get-go. The mid-century home, which was designed by American architect Charles Goodman, had plenty of character and style to begin with. A one-story, elongated design, the original structure was built with glass walls that flooded the living space with plenty of natural light . Related: Stunning green-roofed home in Poland is embedded into the idyllic landscape To update the home , the design team came up with a new addition that stretches half a level up the natural slope of the site. Connected to the existing house with a courtyard, the addition houses a new living area, office and children’s playroom as well as two full bathrooms and a laundry room. To create a cohesive connection to the original home, the new addition follows the same basic features of the existing design, including multiple walls of floor-to-ceiling glass panels. The structure is topped with a split pitched roof that gives the space a modern aesthetic. Stretching from the old space and over the extension is a lush green roof , which also helps to connect the entire home with its natural surroundings. The new addition adds flexibility to the home. Sliding walls allow for a change of layout in the future, and a separate entrance was installed to allow the residents to turn the addition into a fully autonomous guest suite. + KUBE Architecture Via ArchDaily Photography by Anice Hoachlander and Julia Heine via KUBE Architecture

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Green-roofed addition brings a mid-century home into the 21st century

Easy ways to make your home and garden more sustainable this fall

November 7, 2019 by  
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As the final leaves drop from the trees and the temperatures continue to plummet, you’ve likely already prepped the woodpile and dug out your winter wear. But before you head inside to hunker down with movies and hot cocoa, also prep your home and yard to act sustainably throughout the months ahead. Preserve foods Before the first dusting of snow or below-freezing temperatures settle in, be sure to gather every ounce of goodness from your garden . Hang herbs to dry, can fruit from the trees and rely on that new Instant Pot to pressure cook foods for long-term storage. Related: Celebrate the season with this guide to sustainable fall activities Maintain the car When vehicles have to work harder, they are less efficient and consume more gas. Before winter hits, give your car a maintenance check. Test the air pressure in the tires, or swing by the local tire shop for some help. Change the oil and other fluids that are due, change filters, check spark plugs and estimate how much life your battery has left (look for the date of purchase and life expectancy). Clean and repair the furnace and water heater Fall is the perfect time to ensure your heating and water systems are working efficiently. Perform cleaning and maintenance by changing filters and cleaning out air ducts. Prepare for water runoff Head outside while the weather is still above freezing temperatures to make sure rainwater is draining away from your home. This will help avoid flooding. Clean out the French drains that feed water away from your house and into the storm drains, where it will eventually be filtered for reuse. While you’re at it, make sure your rain barrels are set up and working properly, installing a downspout diverter if necessary. Skip the yard chemicals Although the growing season is coming to an end, be aware of any chemicals you are using inside and outside the home. For example, spiders and ants like to transplant themselves this time of year, but if you want to deter them, rely on natural remedies instead of insecticide sprays . Work the compost  While you are busy cleaning up the yard in preparation of winter and the first buds of spring, use a composter to your advantage. Add grass clippings and leaves in thin layers combined with organic food waste and brown products, such as ink-free brown paper bags, toilet paper rolls and thin branches. You can also add the ashes from the burn pile, as long as they are the result of chemical-free wood products. If you have too many grass clippings or leaves for your compost pile, use them as mulch for plants and trees instead. Clean furniture and decking Prevention is key to maintaining your patio furniture and decking. Not only will proper maintenance help them last longer and avoid replacement purchases and landfill waste , but deterring mold and mildew curbs the need for nasty chemicals to treat these problems later on. Clean up your furniture, including lounge sets and dining sets. Cover them and place them on blocks if left on the deck. Sweep the deck’s surface to remove grime, and make sure the wood is sealed to protect against winter moisture. In the spring, your wood surfaces will thank you with easy clean-up and reduced damage. Limit electricity When the days get shorter and the temperature drops, we tend to rely on electricity for heat and light. Be conscious of your consumption by turning off lights when they are not in use, or set them on a timer for automatic savings . Replace your back-porch light with a motion sensor-activated option, and use energy-saving plugs and lightbulbs. Layer up with sweaters, socks and blankets before cranking up the heat, too. Avoid plastic As the season progresses, you’ll be busy performing home improvements, baking and gift-giving. Like other times of the year, try to avoid plastic as much as possible. Look for companies that promote sustainable packaging when ordering online. Skip the bulk warehouse plastic packaging and beware of foam plastic, also known as Styrofoam. Avoid plastic in your dinnerware during holiday celebrations by using washable plates, utensils and glassware. Decorate naturally The late months of fall through early winter are full of fun holidays to celebrate. Decorate your home inside and out using sustainable materials such as wood or metal rather than plastic. Incorporate fruit, nuts, pinecones, leaves, grapevine, hemp and burlap into your crafts. Skip the lawn ornaments that require a power source in favor of live plants and trees, decorated wood cutouts and luminaries made with paper bags and beeswax candles. Another way to limit the amount of energy you need is to insulate your home against heat loss. Have a local energy provider complete an energy assessment on your home. Many even offer free materials for energy savings, like blanket insulation for your water heater or outlet insulation inserts. You can also conserve water by installing water restricting heads on your shower and faucets. Buy local and organic Your garden and the local farmers market might be shut down for the season, but you can still buy produce and even meats from eco-friendly sources. Focus on organic produce , which avoids the use of pesticides and herbicides. If you don’t have any garden stands open in your area, hunt down the best organic options in your local grocery stores. For meat, cut back on consumption in favor of plant-based products . Not only are they healthy for you and the planet, but fresh fruits and vegetables often come package-free (again, watch for plastic and bring your own produce bags to the store). Meat production is blamed for high methane emissions as well as other types of pollution and resource consumption. When you do purchase meat, find a provider who raises livestock sustainably, and purchase it as close to home as possible to avoid the travel footprint. Take your own cups Cold weather and warm drinks go hand-in-hand. Avoid waste and save money by making your own coffee or tea. If the drive-through is your lifeline, at least take your own refillable travel mug instead of relying on single-use options. Speaking of coffee and tea, do the planet a favor by purchasing fair-trade and organic options. To stay hydrated, keep your refillable water bottle handy rather than relying on the single-use bottles at the office (and talk to someone about eliminating those in favor of a refill station). Images via Shutterstock

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This durable luggage is made with replaceable and recycled materials

October 30, 2019 by  
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Travel has a huge impact on the environment. From jet fuel to the broken luggage in landfills, exploring our world leaves a footprint . With this in mind, conscientious companies are designing products that encourage travel sans the burden on the planet. Introducing PHOENX, a modular luggage brand with a focus on sustainability through its use of recycled and regenerative materials. Sustainability begins with the materials sourced for the product. In the case of PHOENX, 95 percent of the materials are recycled or regenerative. For example, the shell of this hard-sided carry-on suitcase is 100 percent recycled polycarbonate. Related: Designers aim to reduce the waste and impact of airlines The suitcase is accompanied by an ultra-thin, removable backpack made from materials sourced from fishing nets and used carpet . This allows for day-tripping in an eco-friendly way. The set also includes a laundry bag to keep dirty clothes separate from the clean ones. The laundry bag offers a vacuum-sealed design for space efficiency. The products incorporate fishing nets, carpets, recycled plastics, rubber and aluminium to help divert these materials from landfills and create durable products that are built to last. This notion is further evidenced in the modular design. Several components of the suitcase are removable and replaceable in the case of breakage. This means that one tool allows you to remove components and replace them individually rather than trashing the suitcase when a wheel or handle malfunctions. Of course, PHOENX works to keep this from happening with a 5-year warranty, durable and quiet HINOMOTO wheels, a waterproof, zipper design and a strong, aluminum handle. “PHOENX is not just about the present but is made to accompany you in your future adventures,” said Francesco Salom, co-founder and CEO of PHOENX. “When you feel it is time to renew it, you can send it back to us and choose between having it restyled by our creative design team or getting a new model.” While responsible material sourcing and product longevity are both crucial components of its eco-friendly products, PHOENX is dedicated to both people and the planet. It participates in fair-trade practices for employees and has partnered with earth-friendly organizations like Oceanic Global, Whale Wise and Aquafil Global for a well-rounded theme of conscientious business practices. The goals for PHOENX are simple and lofty at the same time: to provide a sustainable business model while inspiring travelers to tread lightly. You can find the company’s Kickstarter campaign here . + PHOENX Images via PHOENX

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Fashion collaboration repurposes leather offcuts into eco-friendly home and lifestyle products

October 18, 2019 by  
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Award-winning design studio OPENUU has joined forces with RIL CREED, a sustainable handbag fashion brand, to create two collections for home and lifestyle using upcycled genuine Italian leather . Using scraps of leather that would otherwise be thrown away, these two special collections are combating the wasteful ways of the modern fashion industry and giving new life to forgotten fabrics. The two companies came together for the project after realizing the negative impact that fashion waste has on the environment. They were specifically alarmed by the sobering fact that about 50 percent of natural leather hide is wasted (often destined for landfill) and up to 95 percent of the textiles that end up in landfills each year could have been recycled. Related: Fashion brands ranked for toxic textiles and sustainability Through their experiences in the design world, OPENUU and RIL CREED have found ways to turn otherwise wasted pieces of durable materials into beautiful, upcycled pieces that can be used in everyday life. The products are unique, sustainable and limited-edition. The first collection celebrates the combination of understated luxury and practical durability. Dubbed “Amber Home,” the decorative cushions are made from 100 percent upcycled leather and fabric offcuts from factories. The design and production of this collection of home goods benefited from OPENUU’s interior decor expertise as well as RIL CREED’s proficiency in leather handbag production. For the second collection, “Willow Travel,” OPENUU and RIL CREED took inspiration from watching the sunsets in different cities during their summer travels. The series of travel accessories was produced using the same initiatives of responsible leather and fabric upcycling. In an effort to challenge the monotone look of traditional travel wallets, these passport holders and ID holders come in bright, playful colors that will appeal to a wide range of travelers. + OPENUU + RIL CREED Images via OPENUU and RIL CREED

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Fashion collaboration repurposes leather offcuts into eco-friendly home and lifestyle products

Infographic: Guide to Sustainable Travel

October 15, 2019 by  
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Being more sustainable to ensure a better climate for future … The post Infographic: Guide to Sustainable Travel appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Infographic: Guide to Sustainable Travel

Designers aim to reduce the waste and impact of airlines

October 11, 2019 by  
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Exhibitions of art can, and perhaps should, be thought-provoking, which is exactly the goal of the temporary showing ‘Get Onboard: Reduce. Reuse. Rethink’ by design studio PriestmanGoode at the Design Museum in London. Unlike typical art , though, this exhibit is a concept design that could change the way we travel, or at least the environmental impact when we do. With its eyes on a future of eliminating single-use plastic , PriestmanGoode has focused its problem-solving skills toward airline travel. The studio has looked for ways to eliminate the estimated 2.2 pounds of waste created per passenger per flight, a weighty problem that adds up to around 5.7 million tons of cabin waste annually worldwide. PriestmanGoode has taken a multifaceted approach to the problem, beginning with the meal tray and eating accessories on long flights. Related: San Francisco airport bans all plastic water bottles The designers have come up with functional and surprisingly attractive plastic alternatives for in-flight eating. Some of the plant-based items are washable and reusable: serving trays that are made out of coffee grounds and husks; dishes made from wheat bran; and sporks made from coconut wood. The cups are a two-part design, with a reusable outer layer made from rice husks and a PLA binder. The disposable interior liner is made from algae. Other packaging saw sustainable upgrades, too. The main dish is covered in a bamboo lid, an earth-friendly alternative to petroleum-based plastic. For side dishes, the lids are made out of algae or banana leaves, and the dessert lid has a wafer design that distinguishes it from the other lids to easily identify what is underneath. Single-use condiment containers were tossed in favor of capsules made out of soluble seaweed. For easy composting, everything packs into the main meal lid. PriestmanGoode also presents a refillable water canister designed to fit in a seat-back. It has also worked with airline representatives to design a central water refill station as a comprehensive, sustainable alternative to plastic water bottles. Although the design elements of the concept meal tray are innovative, an equally important goal of the exhibit is to raise awareness about the impact travel has on our environment, and not just in the food consumed. While there are still many steps the airline industry needs to take to lower its environmental impact, PriestmanGoode wants travelers to consider their own consumption habits by only using long-lasting and reusable products that they need. The exhibit will show until February 9, 2020. + PriestmanGoode Via Dezeen Images via PriestmanGoode

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Maven Moment: Bus Tours

August 21, 2019 by  
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One summer when I was a child, my family took … The post Maven Moment: Bus Tours appeared first on Earth911.com.

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ICE Driver Education: Eco-Friendly Tips for the Road

August 19, 2019 by  
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Perhaps you are thinking about switching to an electric vehicle … The post ICE Driver Education: Eco-Friendly Tips for the Road appeared first on Earth911.com.

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