Climate change intensifies seaweed infestation in Caribbean Sea

July 2, 2019 by  
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Many consecutive years of sargassum — large brown seaweed — infestations have driven countries around the Caribbean Sea to consider declaring national emergencies. The smelly seaweed blankets beaches, turns the water brown and smothers coral reefs and marine life. Its rotten stench and unsightly appearance is causing many tourism-dependent communities and nations to lose revenue, and it is even causing a public health concern. “It produces an acid gas with a rotten egg smell [when it decomposes] that can be harmful to human health,” read a letter from the local government of Quitana Roo in Mexico, where a public emergency was declared. Mexico already spent $17 million USD trying to clear away the seaweed from popular beaches along the Riviera Maya, which contributes about 50 percent of the country’s tourism dollars. The government cleared more than 500,000 tons of the brown seaweed, with some hotels lamenting that they often have to have their staff clear the beach two or three times every day. Related: Woman arrested in Florida for stomping on sea turtle nest For nearly a decade, scientists have been concluding that the influx of seaweed is likely from fertilizers and raw sewage entering the Caribbean Sea via drains and watersheds. New research indicates that climate change is also playing a role. “Because of global climate change, we may have increased upwelling, increased air deposition or increased nutrient source from rivers, so all three may have increased the recent large amounts of sargassum,” said Chuanmin Hu, an oceanography professor at South Florida University. While small amounts of sargassum are natural and normal on beaches — and even provide habitat for crustaceans and other marine life — it is detrimental to nearshore ecosystems. Hatchling sea turtles , for example, cannot swim out to sea through the heavy seaweed, and many simply get stuck and die. Some agricultural communities are turning the seaweed into compost for crops; however, none are able to keep up with processing and clearing the massive quantities that periodically plague coastal areas. Via The Independent Image via Tam Warner Minton

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Climate change intensifies seaweed infestation in Caribbean Sea

Pacific nation Vanuatu is the first to ban disposable diapers

June 25, 2019 by  
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The mothers of Vanuatu will shoulder the Pacific island nation’s dream of a pristine future with the recent announcement of a ban on disposable diapers. Despite backlash by parents in the country of about 250,000 people, the government announced that a ban will roll out by the end of the year. Vanuatu is believed to be the first country in the world to prohibit disposable diapers and has one of the strictest bans on single-use plastics , including plates, cups, drink stirrers, egg cartons, plastic flowers and food containers. Related: New study finds harmful chemicals, including glyphosate, in disposable diapers Although the government admits it was a difficult decision that will disproportionately impact mothers, ministers argue that they had no choice. The low-lying islands of Vanuatu are already drowning in plastic pollution and the rising sea levels. “Vanuatu is safeguarding its future,” said Mike Masauvakalo, Minister of Foreign Affairs. “Eventually, plastics find their way into the water and the food chain and at the end of the day, the people of Vanuatu end up consuming [them].” A study by the Commonwealth Litter Program indicated that compostable waste and disposable diapers constituted nearly 75 percent of all plastic waste in the country. So, in addition to composting programs, a ban on diapers was an obvious target. “It is a long road ahead,” Masauvakalo said. “But knowing my country, we will work it out. Vanuatu is very vocal about the climate emergency. It is visible, we are living it. It is affecting our food supply and our fish populations.” Thomas Maes from the Commonwealth Litter Programme said , “Although Pacific islands produce a fraction of the waste of other countries, bad waste management practices may be contributing to the problem of microplastics in the oceans.” Meanwhile, in the U.K., the outcry was so vocal after a government official mentioned banning disposable diapers that he was forced to retract his mere suggestion. Via The Guardian and RNZ Image via Shutterstock

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Pacific nation Vanuatu is the first to ban disposable diapers

Sculptural YULIN Artistic Center dramatically tops a Chongqing cliff

June 25, 2019 by  
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On the edge of a steep precipice in Longxing, Chongqing, Chinese architectural firm CHALLENGE DESIGN has completed a striking building that looks like a natural extension of the landscape. Defined by its sharp geometric form, the YULIN Artistic Center makes the most of its clifftop location with walls of glass that embrace stunning panoramic views. Not only were the majority of the building components prefabricated in a factory in Yancheng to mitigate the challenges of building on steep terrain, but the architects also used glue laminated timber to reduce the weight of construction. The YULIN Artistic Center consists of two main volumes stacked at an angle to one another and optimally placed for unobstructed views of the landscape. The line between the indoors and outdoors is continually blurred, from the massive wall of glass that runs along the side of the building to the interior spaces that are arranged to face the outdoors. The building consists of an exhibition center, a time-lapse gallery, a spherical video hall and an infinity pool on the cliff’s edge. Visitors access the site via a 30-meter glass elevator and a bridge on the northeast side of the site. “The building topping the paramount cliff reflects the minimalist design concept by following the natural landscape,” the architects said. “By making full use of the dramatic height drop and ingenious angles, the scenery is presented to the full extent. Like a natural part of the mount itself, the Artistic Center can be seen from a mile away, resembling a crane of legend standing on a rock, opening its wings and showing its grandeur and magnificence.” Related: 10 shipping containers make up this modern, mixed-use structure in Shanghai The building’s sculptural appeal is reinforced with the glulam lattice structure exposed in the interior as well as the facade that’s clad in gray aluminum panels laid out in a diamond-shaped pattern. The prefabricated components of the building were created in just three weeks. No tower crane was used to assemble the building onsite. + CHALLENGE DESIGN Photos by Prism Images and Arch-Exist

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Sculptural YULIN Artistic Center dramatically tops a Chongqing cliff

A Swiss forest gains a sculptural, sustainably minded water purification plant

June 24, 2019 by  
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Most water purification plants are devoid of personality, but that’s not so for the Swiss city of Muttenz’s new water treatment facility. Designed by international architectural firm Oppenheim Architecture , the Muttenz Water Purification Plant rejects the sterile stereotype and adopts a curving and organic form that looks as if the building was naturally sculpted out of the earth. Set within a lush green forest next to the river Rhine, the low-maintenance industrial plant not only sensitively and sustainably adapts to its natural surroundings, but also serves as a new city landmark that includes a public-facing area to educate the population about the facility’s three-phased, state-of-the-art water purification process. The Muttenz Water Purification Plant is encased entirely with shotcrete, also known as sprayed concrete, which was delivered dry to the construction site and then mixed with water just before application. Shotcrete was selected because of the sensitive nature of the construction site in a drinking water protection zone. The expressive and low-maintenance facade appears both soft in appearance yet hard in texture and allows rainwater to flow from the roof across the sides, which will gradually leave a natural patina and encourage the growth of moss over time to blend the building into the landscape. Related: This moss can naturally eliminate arsenic from water “The engineering-driven arrangement of the inner life defines the form and the size of the building,” explained the architects, who noted that the water purification building is set between a protected forest and the nearby industrial parks. “Like a tight dress, the skin presses against it and represents the technical inner life to the outside. Pipelines, filters and apparatuses can be read through the facade in an abstract manner. The result is an expressive building, acting like a ‘objet trouvé’ in its natural context. Reduced to its materiality and form.” To heighten the educational experience for the public, the water purification plant puts parts of its complex and its state-of-the-art technology on display. One example is the open, alcove-like presentation room that is open to the outdoors and allows visitors to experience water from multiple perspectives, from the cooling sensation of the surrounding pool to the sounds and sights of rainwater pouring in from the roof. + Oppenheim Architecture Photography by Bo?rje Mu?ller via Oppenheim Architecture

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A Swiss forest gains a sculptural, sustainably minded water purification plant

7 sustainable travel experiences to have this summer as an ecotourist

June 24, 2019 by  
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Planning an international trip can be pretty overwhelming as it is, but it can be even harder for eco-friendly travelers looking for sustainable activities that promote cultural travel and ecotourism. Luckily, more and more travel companies and agencies are making it easier to travel with the environment in mind. Start off by researching green destinations, travel packages and green hotels at websites like Lokal Travel , Green Pearls or Responsible Travel . The World Travel Market Responsible Tourism website is a great resource, as it gives out awards each year recognizing worldwide travel organizations in categories such as “Best for Reducing Carbon & Other Greenhouse Gases” and “Best for Reducing Plastic Waste.” Look for hotels and resorts that have been certified eco-friendly or green, that have clear evidence of protecting the Earth, that are built with environmental sustainability in mind or that have made the investments to truly change their business models toward long-term sustainability. Once you’ve chosen a destination and accommodation, look for travel companies that are trying to help the local culture or the land in a positive, significant way and have hired local employees with fair wages. While these organizations are usually small and focused on a few specific places, there are larger companies doing good work as well. Sadly, plenty of “volunteer” programs out there are aimed at making the client feel good about themselves, rather than making an effort to make a positive difference on the destination (or at the very least leave it unharmed by the presence of visitors). If your volunteer trip costs money, find out where the money is going. Related: Natural Habitat Adventures launches the world’s first zero-waste vacations Of course, flying is something to keep in mind, as the carbon emissions from airplanes are high. Don’t be afraid to stay close to home or travel by train to somewhere near you. If you do decide to fly, as many of the destinations below might require unless you are a local, do some research into the most sustainable airlines and consider carbon offsets to ever-so-slightly lessen the impact of this form of travel. Here are seven eco-friendly activities to enjoy in destinations around the world. Watch the Northern Lights in Norway Not only is Norway one of the most environmentally conscious countries on Earth, it is also one of the most beautiful. Its capital city of Oslo was named Europe’s greenest capital by the European Union in 2019. When it comes to seeing the Northern Lights, don’t do it as an afterthought. Take the time to plan a trip with local guides that benefits the economy. Consider an immersion program with the indigenous Sámi people, who have recently embraced sustainable tourism as a vital source of local income. Volunteer in the Galapagos, Ecuador An undisputed leader in ecotourism destinations worldwide, the Galapagos are home to some of the most exciting and important lands on the planet. Almost 100 percent of the island chain is protected as a national park , and visitor fees go straight toward conservation efforts. Look for a company that organizes volunteer trips rather than sightseeing; the latter creates unnecessary trash and carbon emissions. Book an eco-friendly safari in Kenya It’s no secret that poaching is one of African wildlife’s greatest threats. Eco-friendly safaris and lodges provide alternative employment to poaching in Kenya, all while supporting the community and putting money toward the upkeep of nature preserves. A good tourism company works hand-in-hand with the local people (such as the Maasai tribe in Kenya) to protect the land and animals. Consider staying on conservancy lands, where the area has been set aside for wildlife conservation and is strictly regulated. Related: 7 eco-friendly and conservation-minded safari lodges across Africa Help save elephants in Thailand The tourism industry is beginning to see elephant riding for what it is — cruel. What was once a misunderstood and popular bucket-list item is now one of the main proponents responsible for the rise of ecotourism. Skip the elephant ride and opt for a trip to an elephant rescue center, where your money will go toward the betterment of these animals rather than the exploitation of them. For a day trip, check out the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, but if you want to spend a week or more volunteering, the Surin Project is another great choice. Go hiking in New Zealand New Zealand is world-renowned for its luxury ecotourism (such as “ glamping ”) as well as plenty of hiking opportunities that let tourists submerge themselves in the natural environment without doing any damage. Another thing to consider: Air New Zealand recently got rid of all single-use plastics from its entire fleet of planes. That means no plastic bags, cups or straws are being used on any of these flights, resulting in about 24 million less pieces of plastic being used each year. Visit animal sanctuaries in Costa Rica Costa Rica pledged to become the first carbon-neutral country by 2021, and with 25 percent of its territory protected as national parks or biological reserves, it is setting the bar pretty high for the rest of the world. The country is known for its abundance of eco-friendly accommodations and wildlife sanctuaries. Check out the Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula or the Jaguar Rescue Center in the Limón Province. Stay in self-sustaining accommodation in the Maldives With more than 1,000 islands making up this archipelago, environmental awareness and protecting the ocean is a vital part of life in the Maldives. For example, Soneva Fushi Resort has been completely carbon-neutral since 2014. It has an on-site recycling program, and all the water used at the resort is desalinated. Ninety percent of the waste produced is recycled, including 100 percent of the food waste , and all of the facilities run on the energy from solar panels. Images via Derek Thomson , Claudia Regina , Peter Swaine , Marcel Oosterwijk , Bruce Dall , Jeff Pang , Michelle Callahan and Selda Eigler

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Earth911 Inspiration: There Is No Lack of Water Here Unless …

June 14, 2019 by  
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Earth911 inspirations. Print them, post them, share your desire to … The post Earth911 Inspiration: There Is No Lack of Water Here Unless … appeared first on Earth911.com.

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LEED Gold eco hotel in the Wine Country was built using reclaimed wood

June 14, 2019 by  
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This 39-room inn in the popular Wine Country town of Healdsburg boasts sustainable, natural materials and an eco-friendly design that earned it a LEED Gold certification. Glass is used to encase the lobby entry, while the walls and floors are made of textured and smooth concrete. Steel and reclaimed redwood slats are utilized throughout the exterior to create a naturally open feel and provide views of the surrounding trees and foliage. Artfully-described as “modern organic” by the building’s creators at David Baker Architects, Harmon Guest House is the natural companion to its two sister boutique eco hotels, the swanky Hotel Healdsburg and the trendy h2hotel. As described on the firm’s website , “This contextual new inn slips into the Healdsburg scene as a fresh surprise with an understated California vibe, yet seems as if it’s always naturally been there.” Related: This luxury resort in Canada is recognized globally for its contributions to eco tourism These organic intentions are apparent from the moment you walk up to the building. The design subconsciously promotes sustainable transportation thanks to the sheltered bus stop bench built into the face of the hotel and a shared fleet of bicycles available for guest use. Even the check-in desk has been crafted from one single, fallen eucalyptus tree. The combination of a vast glass entryway, bare polished concrete and unadorned wooden screens is a reminder to all who enter that the condition of being natural is just as beautiful (if not more) than decoration or embellishment. The 39 rooms (including six suites) are connected by a centralized courtyard and glass-enclosed bridges. Each room provides a private outdoor space with a balcony or patio. Both the common spaces and individual rooms feature locally sourced art and fixtures. The presence of the hotel benefits Healdsburg’s own Foss Creek, which is visible from the rear of the inn and accessible via footbridge. A creekside park allows guests to enjoy the restored area between the water and land while the property’s presence spanning the creek aids in the protection of the natural area. + David Baker Architects + Harmon Guest House Photography by Bruce Damonte and Angie Silvy via David Baker Architects

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LEED Gold eco hotel in the Wine Country was built using reclaimed wood

How to Cut Your Hot Water Bill

June 4, 2019 by  
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Nothing beats a hot shower. It is a wonderful way … The post How to Cut Your Hot Water Bill appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Safe & Sustainable Thermoses for Your Family

June 4, 2019 by  
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Not every beverage container is made the same way, and … The post Safe & Sustainable Thermoses for Your Family appeared first on Earth911.com.

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This luxury resort in Canada is recognized globally for its contributions to eco tourism

May 29, 2019 by  
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The Fairmont Chateau Lake Lodge in Alberta, Canada is setting the bar high when it comes to sustainable eco tourism . As a popular accommodation choice for outdoor enthusiasts with an unparalleled location inside Banff National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), preserving the national wildlife around the resort is of the utmost importance. The hotel was the very first in Canada to receive the highest possible rating from the Hotel Association of Canada’s Green Key Eco-Rating Program in 2005, and won the award again in 2016. The business also holds an award from the 26th Annual Emerald Awards recognizing outstanding environmental achievements for its sustainability program. Activities around the resort include guided mountain tours, skiing, canoeing, horseback riding, fishing, mountain biking, rafting, ice-skating and scenic hiking. Guests can enjoy amenities such as a luxury spa and multiple dining options. Related: Bee + Hive to help explorers book green hotels and sustainable tourism experiences Over the past ten years of operation, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Lodge has implemented a “No Net Negative Environmental Impact” incentive for its eco tourism hotel operations, with full transparency and results reported annually to Parks Canada. The resort also purchases half of its total energy from wood biomass-generated Green Power and uses energy efficient heating sources throughout the property. 80 percent of the hotel operations use energy-efficient lighting, holiday decorations use LED lighting and free parking is awarded to guests driving hybrid vehicles. Each year the resort helps celebrate the World Wildlife Fund Earth Hour to raise awareness for environmental issues by switching off all of the lights on the property for one hour.   Water-saving fixtures installed at the hotel save 3.9 gallons of water per toilet flush and 1.5 gallons of water per minute in the shower. The new fixtures along with the construction of a water treatment plant helped the hotel decrease its water consumption by 38 percent between 1995 and 2015. Guests are encouraged to do their part by reducing their towel and linen usage, which saves both water and electricity . The Fairmont CAREs Program — Westslope Cutthroat Trout Restoration Project works to preserve Canada’s wild trout population; the hotel has donated $12,000 to the cause since 2012. The resort’s culinary program works with Ocean Wise , a local conservation program that allows consumers to make sustainable choices when purchasing seafood. All possible food and beverage containers are recycled , as well as all paper products, batteries, light bulbs, electronics and toner cartridges. The hotel also works with suppliers and vendors to reduce the amount of packaging for delivered products. + Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Via Dwell Images via Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

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This luxury resort in Canada is recognized globally for its contributions to eco tourism

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