cigu creates a hotel room of the future that emphasizes water recycling

March 4, 2020 by  
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For the Hôtel Métropole exhibition at the Pavillon de l’Arsenal, Parisian design collective ciguë recently showcased “Une chambre pour demain” (A Room for Tomorrow), an experimental redesign of a hotel room that champions water recycling. Created as a reaction against the amount of unseen excess and waste in the hospitality business, the pavilion takes the shape of a minimalist hotel room that uses a series of rainwater harvesting systems estimated to offer 70% water savings as compared to a standard hotel room. The design for A Room for Tomorrow began with the architects’ comparison of hotel rooms to time capsules, in that their designs are typically reflective of the way of living in a particular era. “With our current times accelerating faster than ever, it however seems as if the evolution has wound down, the model has become almost stagnant and is being duplicated indefinitely with a quest focused more and more on comfort, perhaps as a way of forgetting that there is an urgency to react,” ciguë explained in a project statement. “Meanwhile, thousands of bathtubs are being filled, emptied and refilled as we speak.” Related: LEED Gold eco hotel in the Wine Country was built using reclaimed wood To bring attention to the urgency to act on environmental concerns and present possible solutions to the excesses in the hospitality business, the architects worked together with environmental engineering experts Le Sommer Environment to create a home room prototype with a focus on recycling. The room is deliberately stripped down to its solid oak skeleton, which was built to be easily dismountable so that the parts can be recycled . The focus of the pavilion is the bathroom, where water-saving technologies are demonstrated. The minimalist pavilion features an open ceiling, through which two water tanks can be seen. One tank is for rainwater collection and the other is for storing water rendered potable through phytopurification plants and activated carbon filters. Graywater from the bathtub and sink are filtered, collected and reused in a closed-loop circuit. In the corner, a transparent composting toilet bowl shows how human excrement is separated into liquids and solids, with the latter to be transformed into compost . A Room For Tomorrow was on display in Paris from October 16, 2019 to January 12, 2020.  + ciguë Images via Salem Mostefaoui and ciguë

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cigu creates a hotel room of the future that emphasizes water recycling

KALOs PVC Bench is made from plastic waste and wood scraps

March 4, 2020 by  
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This stylish piece of minimalist furniture is made out of recycled materials and fit for two. The special project was designed and constructed by the multiple award-winning design and architect firm, KALO. It uses a combination of upcycled, crushed PVC pipe sold as post-consumer scrap as well as discarded wood from the designer’s other projects. The piece, simply titled “PVC Bench,” consists of four different components. Broken and discarded plastic pipes make up the top part of the seat, while the remaining legs and seat support were constructed using off-cuts of walnut that KALO had left over from a prior design. Besides the wood scraps and the recycled plastic pipes, the only other material used was resin, which is typically non-toxic and water-based. Related: 14 green furniture designs using reclaimed, recycled or rapidly renewable materials KALO created the bench using a combination of digital fabrication techniques and conventional tools, which resulted in a modern yet organic appearance. The wooden legs of the bench give off a more subtle and soft effect, which complements the top of the bench that reflects the scattered wooden fragments — somehow fitting together flawlessly in a distinctive pattern suspended in tinted resin. Bee’ah, one of the Middle East’s leading waste management companies based in the United Arab Emirates, is the design commissioner. The PVC Bench was part of the company’s ongoing project of turning waste into functional objects. KALO is lead by designer and architect Ammar Kalo , who also serves as the director of CAAD Labs and an assistant professor at the American University of Sharjah (Kalo’s alma mater). Like PVC Bench, Kalo’s previous work examines the delicate relationship between advanced technology and traditional artistry. The designer’s style blends conventional with advanced, using material processes and digital fabrication methods in harmony to create unique pieces. + KALO

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KALOs PVC Bench is made from plastic waste and wood scraps

Washington moves to ban "detrimental" bottled water operations

February 26, 2020 by  
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Washington state, known for mountains, glaciers and rainforests, has an abundance of fresh water. To protect those natural resources , the state senate has passed a bill that will ban any new water bottling permits. Bill SB 6278, “An act relating to water withdrawals for commercial bottled water production; and amending RCW 90.03.290” was approved by the senate on February 17 and is currently progressing through the house. The bill will take effect retroactively to any applications as of January 1, 2019, effectively banning any new bottling operations in the state. Related: Arsenic found in bottled water sold at major retailers For definition, bottled water is clearly defined as any water labeled or marketed for sale as water in any type of container. Spring water or enhanced water is also included in the ban; however, it does not include products made from water that are not marketed as water. The state also included a clause stating that the limitation does not apply to municipal water suppliers or in the case of a state of emergency, drought or public health emergency — an argument from representatives of the bottled water industry. According to the bill, “the commercial production of bottled water is deemed to be detrimental to the public welfare and the public interest.” With water campaigners promoting the notion that private companies should not profit from public resources, the Washington senate was moved into action. Harvesting the water allows the industry to deplete a natural resource, put it in a plastic bottle and ship it out of state, all while collecting water for almost nothing and seeing exorbitant profits. With water being the No. 1 bottled drink in the United States, the production is bound to have consequences at the source, and there have been several instances of groundwater pollution as well as arsenic being diverted to water treatment plants without notifications regarding the toxins. Washington will be the first state in the nation to enact such a ban, but other states have similar legislation in the works, including Maine and Michigan introducing state bills and both Oregon and Montana recently passing ballot measures. + Washington State Legislature Via The Guardian Images via Pixabay

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Craft beer waste saves Montana town $1M for wastewater treatment

February 18, 2020 by  
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A Montana town has found a money-saving solution to its sewage and wastewater treatment expenses, thanks to a nearby craft brewery. The innovation caught the eye of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which provided the town and its water reclamation facility an Honorable Mention accolade in one of the federal agency’s annual awards. Havre, Montana has a population of 10,000. Its 40-year-old water reclamation facility, as the EPA has described, “needed upgrades to help meet their final ammonia and residual chlorine limits,” while processing more than 6 million gallons of water . Related: EWG warns ‘forever chemicals’ are contaminating US drinking water at levels far worse than expected Unfortunately, with more than 10 breweries nearby, the wastewater generated further increased because beer waste is “rich in yeast, hops and sugar.” These contents are known to skew the microbial activity process that removes both nitrogen and phosphorus from the water as it is being treated. In short, if nitrogen and phosphorus are not removed before the treated water enters the drain-off into estuaries, then bacterial and algal blooms will arise. These unwanted blooms would disturb an estuary’s water chemistry enough to adversely affect the ecosystem. Engineering consultant Coralyn Revis offered a paradigm shift to solve the issue. “If we can use [brewery waste] correctly and put it in the right spot, it’s very beneficial to the process,” Revis said. “This is super-simplified, but like, if they’re eating their french fries, they need a little ketchup with it. So to get the nitrate out, you dose a little carbon, and the bugs are happier.” Havre’s wastewater plant manager, Drue Newfield, sought Michael Garrity, Triple Dog Brewing Company’s owner, to source leftover barley for feeding the water treatment microbes. The spent barley was used as a substitute for the chemical alum, an aluminum-sulfate solution. The joint endeavor saved the community from investing an additional $1 million in upgrades to the water treatment plant. “To further enhance the biological phosphorus removal process, 10 gallons of waste barley mash from a local brewery gets added daily as an external source of carbon and volatile fatty acid supplement,” the EPA explained. “These improvements have allowed the facility to continuously meet all permit effluent limits and has significantly improved the operability, reliability and treatment capability of the facility. These upgrades have greatly improved the quality of wastewater effluent discharged to the Milk River, particularly with respect to nutrient levels and ammonia toxicity.” The endeavor has been federally acknowledged as a creative and successful example for integrating community involvement at solving water quality infrastructure challenges in four key areas: public health, economy, sustainability and innovation. Via NPR , Core77 and EPA Image via Manfred Richter

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Excessive road salt threatens public health and wildlife

November 13, 2019 by  
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Many people and municipalities turn to road salt to de-ice wintry streets and sidewalks. Unfortunately, road salt poses serious environmental and water contamination risks. Just one teaspoon is enough to contaminate 5 gallons of water, making removal via reverse osmosis extremely expensive. Moreover, the health of humans, pets, wildlife , aquatic organisms, vegetation, soil and infrastructure are heavily impacted as road salts enter the environment, seeping into groundwater and draining via runoff into freshwater estuaries. At the forefront of advocating for better practices on road salt use is the Izaak Walton League’s Winter Salt Watch program. Just last winter, the League dispensed 500 chloride test kits to volunteers across 17 states. Tests showed consistently high levels of chloride ions in waterways surrounding eight major metropolitan areas, signaling excessive misuse of road salts. This year, the League has sent out a batch of chloride test kits to more than 200 new volunteers. Related: The Ocean Cleanup reveals the Interceptor to remove plastic pollution from rivers “Our goal is to not only make residents aware of the impact road salt has on local streams but also give them the tools to advocate for changes to road salt practices that will decrease salt impacts while keeping roads safe for drivers,” explained Samantha Briggs, the League’s Clean Water Program Director. Road salts are mainly comprised of sodium chloride, ferrocyanide (an anti-caking substance) and impurities like aluminum, cadmium, calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, nickel, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. All of these components are contaminants in water and exacerbate salinity levels. What risks do they pose? The sodium chloride, for instance, breaks down into sodium (Na+) and chloride (Cl-) ions. Sodium in drinking water is unhealthy for individuals suffering from hypertension, or high blood pressure, which explains the EPA’s measure of monitoring sodium content in public water supplies. Meanwhile, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has issued warnings regarding road salt ingestion and dangers to paw health of pets. Paw exposure to road salt exposure begets irritation, inflammation and cracking that leads to infection. When road salt is licked off paws or eaten, pets can exhibit vomiting, diarrhea, depression, disorientation, cardiac abnormalities, seizures, coma and even premature death. As for wildlife impacts, once road salt enters a body of water, it is nearly impossible to remove. This adversely affects bird, amphibian, mammal, fish and aquatic plant populations. Road salt in the environment elevates both salinity stress and osmotic stress, which are associated with aberrant development, nutrient uptake degradation, toxicosis, weakened immune systems, low reproductive levels, population decline and mortality. When road salt damages vegetation, that creates losses in food resources, shelter and breeding sites. Similarly, road salt’s presence accelerates infrastructure corrosion and structural integrity. Streets, highways and bridges are all subject to damage as road salt impairs asphalt and creates potholes. The corrosion extends to vehicles, as repeated salt exposure increases rusting and damage to critical vehicle components, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA) . Even more worrisome, road salts damage water pipes, causing toxic metals, like lead or copper, to leach into drinking water. To promote awareness and best practices regarding the hazards of de-icing, the Izaak Walton League has been pushing for “smarter ways” of using road salt, especially with “alternative approaches that include brine or sand application.” For those interested in volunteering as a stream monitor with the League’s Winter Salt Watch program to help gauge water quality and road salt risks, a free chloride test kit can be ordered here . + Izaak Walton League of America Image via Eddie Welker

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The Ocean Cleanup has first success collecting plastic from Great Pacific Garbage Patch

October 4, 2019 by  
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The Ocean Cleanup, a Dutch nonprofit dedicated to eliminating plastic pollution in the oceans, recently announced its first success. After years of trials that left its engineers scratching their heads over design challenges, the nonprofit’s newest prototype device has consistently collected plastic waste from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch . Following years of repeat returns to the drawing board, The Ocean Cleanup has finally experienced its first success of consistently capturing and collecting plastic, thanks to the self-contained System 001/B prototype. As an added bonus, not only was the prototype able to collect large, visible items but also microplastics as small as one millimeter. Related: Trash-collecting device returns to Great Pacific Garbage Patch “After beginning this journey seven years ago, this first year of testing in the unforgivable environment of the high seas strongly indicates that our vision is attainable and that the beginning of our mission to rid the ocean of plastic garbage , which has accumulated for decades, is within our sights,” said founder and CEO Boyan Slat. “Our team has remained steadfast in its determination to solve immense technical challenges to arrive at this point. Though we still have much more work to do, I am eternally grateful for the team’s commitment and dedication to the mission and look forward to continuing to the next phase of development.” The patch, located in the waters between Hawaii and California, is infamous as the area with the largest accumulation of plastic debris. As a trash vortex, its circular motion draws litter into itself, trapping all the junk into a concentrated mass. The hazards are compounded by the leaching out of noxious chemicals linked to health problems. Marine life is also harmed, with numerous reports of disruptions in feeding and migrating patterns, ultimately threatening species’ survival and reproductive success. The need to remove the plastic waste polluting the Pacific Ocean inspired Slat to establish The Ocean Cleanup in 2012. The nonprofit’s engineers have since been striving to develop a device to rid the ocean of the garbage. The various device prototypes employ a passive system that moves with the currents while catching plastic refuse. The nonprofit aspires to develop more prototypes in hopes of deploying a future fleet of ocean debris-collecting systems. The collected plastic will, in turn, be recycled onshore and sold to business-to-consumer (B2C) companies. The recycling revenue will be reinvested into the nonprofit’s expansion plans for further ocean waste management and sanitation. + The Ocean Cleanup Images via The Ocean Cleanup

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The Ocean Cleanup has first success collecting plastic from Great Pacific Garbage Patch

NRPA and Coca-Cola partner to install trash traps to clean Atlanta waterways

September 24, 2019 by  
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The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), which is the leading nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of public parks, recently partnered up with beverage giant Coca-Cola to install trash trap systems in southwest Atlanta. The initiative seeks to keep pollution out of estuaries the Proctor Creek feeds into, such as the Chattahoochee River, and ultimately the ocean. As a 9-mile tributary of the Chattahoochee River, Proctor Creek experiences both stormwater runoff and flooding . The water runoff that moves the trash from storm drains empties into Proctor Creek and is then conveyed into connecting waterways. Related: Coca-Cola to offer Dasani water in aluminum cans and bottles to reduce plastic waste With the catchment system in operation, floating litter can be intercepted in the water runoff. Collected rubbish and debris are then guided into a larger collection container. Both the NRPA and Coca-Cola explained that the trash traps are technologically designed to prevent harm to fish and wildlife , for they do not use nets nor fencing. With a trash-free watershed, the surrounding communities’ water quality will be revitalized. Revitalization will also improve the overall quality of life for the region. Current estimates are that the traps reduce litter by 80 percent so that Proctor Creek is relatively cleaner before entering the Chattahoochee River. Coca-Cola is notorious for its massive plastic footprint. But just last month, in August 2019, Coca-Cola and its rival, PepsiCo Inc., both announced their departures from the leading plastics lobbying group, the Plastic Industry Association. Coca-Cola has deployed its global World Without Waste goal to recycle and reuse the equivalent of all the bottles and cans it sells by 2030. Additionally, Coca-Cola plans to recycle and reuse the bottles collected by the trash traps to transform them into graduation gowns for Atlanta Public Schools’ high school seniors. With this trash trap project, Coca-Cola is commercially maneuvering even closer toward a more environmentally friendly stance, perhaps to dispel its long-standing negative image as the world’s largest plastic polluter. Coca-Cola noted in its news release, “The visibility of the trash traps, educational programming and creation of local green jobs associated with the project will facilitate lasting change and foster environmental, economic and social benefits in the area.” Other stakeholders in the waterway improvement plan include the city of Atlanta, the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, Groundwork Atlanta, Park Pride and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Some of these partners will analyze data on the trash collection to document trends and detail effectiveness of the project design to inform best practices for optimal litter mitigation strategies. + Coca-Cola + NRPA Image via Shawn Taylor

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NRPA and Coca-Cola partner to install trash traps to clean Atlanta waterways

Toxic algae bloom forces all Mississippi beaches to close

July 10, 2019 by  
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The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) announced a total ban on swimming in the ocean until a toxic algae bloom subsides. Over the weekend, MDEQ added Pascagoula Beach West and Pascagoula Beach East to the list of beaches where swimming is prohibited; the list now includes all of the state’s 21 beaches. The blue-green Harmful Algal Bloom is almost certainly caused by massive amounts of fertilizers that entered the watersheds this year due to unusually high rainfall. High rates of precipitation over the winter and spring months forced officials to open the Bonnet Carré spillway in Louisiana, which feeds into the Gulf of Mexico. A spillway is essentially a reservoir for excess water from dams that occasionally needs to be released into the ocean when they become too full. Related: Scientists working to help manatees poisoned by Florida red tide This year, due to abnormally heavy rainfall, the spillway has been opened for a total of 104 days and counting. In comparison, the Bonnet Carré spillway was only opened for 23 days in 2018 and remained closed for all of 2017. Officials believe that the algae bloom will dissipate once the spillway can be closed again, because the bloom will be cut off from the likely source of fertilizer-contaminated freshwater. The algae bloom is actual a type of cyanobacteria that feeds off of the nutrients from fertilizers, namely nitrogen and phosphorus. The bacteria creates a blue-green tint to the water and has a foul smell. According to a statement released by MDEQ, exposure “can cause rashes, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. MDEQ advises that those exposed wash with soap and water and to not eat fish or any other seafood taken from affected areas.” Recreation along the beaches and coastlines is still permitted; however, officials prohibit anyone from entering the water and advised “people and their pets to avoid water contact such as swimming or wading, because exposure to the blue-green HAB can be harmful.” Via Gizmodo and MDEQ Image via Phil Whitehouse

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Toxic algae bloom forces all Mississippi beaches to close

Whiskey spill in Kentucky kills thousands of fish

July 10, 2019 by  
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Two Jim Beam warehouses in Kentucky erupted in flames last week, spilling nearly 45,000 barrels of bourbon into the Kentucky River. In an apocalyptic scene, the fire spread to the alcohol on the river’s surface, consuming all available oxygen within the water. The fire, alcohol content and lack of oxygen resulted in the death of thousands of fish . But this isn’t Kentucky’s first rodeo. In fact, the state has had so many whiskey spills that it has specific protocols for this type of disaster . The Louisville Water Company issued a swift announcement letting the public know that the water is not a health concern for humans. Related: Two thirds of world’s rivers are contaminated with drugs “We’ve had several occur in this state, so when this one occurred, we were just ready for it and knew what the actions were to take,” said Robert Francis, the manager of Kentucky’s emergency response team. When the Jim Beam warehouse was struck by lightning in 2003, 800,000 gallons of bourbon spilled out into the a creek in Bardstown. Just last year, the Jim Beam warehouse went up in flames again and spilled 9,000 barrels. In 2000, Wild Turkey spilled 17,000 gallons of bourbon in Frankfort, Kentucky and killed about 228,000 fish . In 1996, the Heaven Hill distillery spilled 90,000 barrels of bourbon after a warehouse fire. Firefighters from four counties rushed to the scene to extinguish this year’s bourbon warehouse blaze, and emergency teams continue to monitor the river to assess the impact. The Kentucky River is approximately 24 miles long and moving at a speed of less than a mile per hour. The alcohol is expected to have reached the Ohio River and be diluted enough to cause no further threat. Wildlife crews also helped aerate the river water via barges, which helps to replenish the oxygen and prevent further fish kills. The emergency responders will leave the dead fish floating in the river to decompose naturally, as they pose no threat to humans or other wildlife . Via The BBC and The Courier-Journal Image via Bruno Glätsch

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The World Surf League is pledging to eliminate single-use plastics and become carbon-neutral by the end of 2019

June 27, 2019 by  
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The World Surf League (WSL)  is known for being the authority for all things surfing, famous for showcasing the most talented professional surfers to the rest of the world. Now, they’ve decided to use that powerful platform to set an example for sports organizations everywhere by committing to substantial environmental initiatives. Earlier in June, the WSL announced a series of pledges that will apply to all WSL Championship Tour and Big Wave Tour events. They include becoming carbon neutral globally by the end of 2019, eliminating single-serve plastics by the end of 2019 and leaving each place better than they found it. The WSL runs more than 230 global surfing events each year. Considering the WSL’s millions of passionate fans, and the organization’s plan to hold competitions throughout Australia, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, Tahiti, France, Portugal, California and Hawaii in 2019 alone, these public commitments are bound to inspire others to address critical issues about the state of our environment. Related: Kin Travel is offering unique vacation ideas that benefit destinations through conservation and sustainability Along with the announcement came an expansion of the WSL’s already-active ocean conservation efforts by their launch of a global campaign to “ Stop Trashing Waves ” with its non-profit arm, WSL PURE (“Protecting Understanding and Respecting the Environment”). WSL CEO Sophie Goldschmidt spoke of breaking new ground in the world of sports when it comes to the “urgent battle against climate change and ocean pollution,” saying, “We believe it’s our responsibility to be ‘all in’ with our efforts to protect the ocean and beaches amid the devastating climate crisis we all face. We invite everyone who cares about the ocean to join us.” So how does the WSL plan on carrying out these goals? For starters, the organization is offsetting its carbon footprint by investing in REDD+ and VCS (Verified Carbon Standard) certified carbon offset projects. These projects are focused on restoring and protecting natural and renewable energy ecosystems based in each of the WSL’s operating regions. The WSL will also be making an effort to limit non-essential travel and implement policies to reduce carbon emissions within its offices. 11-time WSL Champion and surfing legend, Kelly Slater, spoke of the announcement with enthusiasm. “I think it’s a great stance and an important message to send to people around the world. The ocean is vital to everyone, for food, for oxygen and especially to us surfers. I think everyone should make it their priority to care about this issue and make changes in their lives to help.” + World Surf League Images via World Surf League

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The World Surf League is pledging to eliminate single-use plastics and become carbon-neutral by the end of 2019

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