IceWind demos new residential wind turbine in Texas

June 29, 2020 by  
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Residential micro wind turbines may one day become a popular way for people to produce their own power at home. Over the Fourth of July weekend, folks in Port Aransas Beach, Texas will be able to see a new Icelandic turbine in action during a special demo. The Icelandic renewable wind power company IceWind has invented this new home energy product. Home builder Daryl Losaw, IceWind’s San Marco, Texas-based investor, is excited to demo the tiny turbine to Texans. “We have a great story and showing off the turbines is the best way to tell it,” Losaw said in a press release. Unlike the horizontal axis wind turbines one sees at wind farms, IceWind’s new residential model sports vertical axes. Related: Windwords proposal turns wind turbines into public art IceWind has turned a decommissioned coal power plant in Reykjavik into its headquarters. The company is now in the final stages of development. “The concept is simple: We’re taking time tested technologies and bringing them into the modern era,” said IceWind CEO Saethor Asgeirsson. “Using super-strong materials such as aerospace-grade aluminum, carbon fiber, and high-grade stainless steel, our turbines are built to withstand anything.” This includes Iceland’s furious winds, which regularly surpass 50 mph during the island country’s dark and chilly wintertime. “It’s actually quite funny,” Asgeirsson said. “We are the only people in Iceland who get excited when there is crazy wind in the weather forecast. While everyone else is hunkering down at home, we’re huddled around a computer, excitedly watching our data feed.” IceWind has two product lines currently in development. In addition to the micro turbine for homes, the company is also working on a model to mount on telecom towers that will work in extreme arctic conditions. They’re already selling turbines in Iceland and plan to expand into the European and North American markets later this year. “I am looking forward to showing potential customers a rugged, bird-safe, micropower generation method, that represents independence from fossil fuels over this appropriate weekend,” said Losaw of the Port Aransas demo. “Hopefully, it will inspire beachgoers to look at energy in a new way.” + IceWind Images via IceWind

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IceWind demos new residential wind turbine in Texas

Ottan Studio transforms green waste into home decor

June 29, 2020 by  
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Green design start-up Ottan Studio is committed to producing upcycled decor  out of food and green waste. By collecting materials such as fruit peels, expired grains, vegetable residues, tree leaves and grass, the company can create colorful and trendy furniture with absolutely  zero waste . The process works by first collecting  waste  from places such as local retailer companies, food producers and greenhouses before cleaning, drying and grinding the materials. These materials are then added to green resins and injected into molds to create a range of products. Ottan Studio can turn the pulp from five glasses worth of carrot juice, or the peels from four glasses worth of orange juice, into an entire lampshade. Related: Granby Workshop unveils ceramic dinnerware collection made from 100% waste According to the company, the designers want to stray away from the idea of wood being an absolute sustainable material, as the industry’s consumption habits on a global level are continuing to damage and  destroy forests . If more sustainable consumption and production models aren’t changed, Ottan Studio’s website explains, all of the world’s forests could be wiped out in as little as 100 years. Going even further, the studio pledges to plant one tree for every product sold. By using materials that would otherwise be wasted, such as peels, leaves and cut grass, the company is proving that you don’t need to cut down trees to create stylish products that are perfect for the  minimalist  home. To make its products even more unique, Ottan doesn’t use any additional dyes or colorants, so the original and natural colors of the  upcycled  waste materials are reflected in the final result. Materials such as purple onion, red pepper and pomegranate retain their pinkish-hue, products made using lemon peels and lentils stay yellow and the leaves collected from tree pruning produce a soft green color. Since the products are handmade, no two items are identical and everything is one-of-a-kind.  + Ottan Studio Images via Ottan Studio

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Ottan Studio transforms green waste into home decor

‘I Am a Plastic Bag’ is made from recycled single-use plastic bottles

March 2, 2020 by  
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Following the sold-out success of “I Am Not a Plastic Bag” in 2007, designer brand Anya Hindmarch has launched a new product, called “I Am a Plastic Bag”, aimed at recycling single-use plastic and leaving behind a net-zero carbon footprint from production. The initial “I Am Not a Plastic Bag” release was a campaign to raise awareness about disposable plastic bag usage. According to a press release from the company, “The British Retail Consortium estimated that in 2006, the U.K. alone used 10.6bn plastic bags, and this figure dropped to 6.1bn in 2010. Specifically, Sainsbury’s cut the number of bags they gave away by 58% in the two years that followed the campaign, giving out 312m fewer bags in 2008 than 2009 and saving 13,200 tonnes of virgin plastic over two years.” Related: Patagonia’s Black Hole Bags are made from recycled plastic bottles Thirteen years later, Hindmarch has decided to shift focus. Instead of centering the campaign around reducing plastic bag usage, the new “I Am a Plastic Bag” is made from a soft, cotton-like fabric constructed from recycled plastic bottles to spotlight the excessive waste generated from single-use plastic. The manufacturing process begins by washing and sorting the collected bottles before they are shredded and turned into pellets. The pellets are then converted into fibers that are spun and woven into fabric . To achieve the weather-resistant finish, the bags are coated in a recycled PVB made from old windshields. Anya Hindmarch partnered with a Taiwanese company for the finish, which appears to be the only one of its kind that has achieved Global Recycled Standard (GRS) certification. After considering faux options, the company decided the least impactful trim was real leather. It sourced the natural meat byproduct as a way to recycle the material. Collected from a tannery in Northern Italy, the leather doesn’t travel far to the manufacturing line. While Anya Hindmarch designers don’t believe that carbon-offsetting is the answer for an industry known for excessive waste and pollution , they also partnered with EcoAct, a global climate change consultant. EcoAct has been measuring the emissions from the I Am a Plastic Bag production in order to make the process carbon-neutral. As a statement of what the line stands for, Anya Hindmarch closed its doors for three days, completely filling the store with 90,000 discarded plastic water bottles and a post on the door explaining the cause. A limited selection of bags was pre-launched in February at London Fashion Week, and the complete four-color collection will be widely available in April. + Anya Hindmarch Images via Anya Hindmarch

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‘I Am a Plastic Bag’ is made from recycled single-use plastic bottles

‘I Am a Plastic Bag’ is made from recycled single-use plastic bottles

March 2, 2020 by  
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Following the sold-out success of “I Am Not a Plastic Bag” in 2007, designer brand Anya Hindmarch has launched a new product, called “I Am a Plastic Bag”, aimed at recycling single-use plastic and leaving behind a net-zero carbon footprint from production. The initial “I Am Not a Plastic Bag” release was a campaign to raise awareness about disposable plastic bag usage. According to a press release from the company, “The British Retail Consortium estimated that in 2006, the U.K. alone used 10.6bn plastic bags, and this figure dropped to 6.1bn in 2010. Specifically, Sainsbury’s cut the number of bags they gave away by 58% in the two years that followed the campaign, giving out 312m fewer bags in 2008 than 2009 and saving 13,200 tonnes of virgin plastic over two years.” Related: Patagonia’s Black Hole Bags are made from recycled plastic bottles Thirteen years later, Hindmarch has decided to shift focus. Instead of centering the campaign around reducing plastic bag usage, the new “I Am a Plastic Bag” is made from a soft, cotton-like fabric constructed from recycled plastic bottles to spotlight the excessive waste generated from single-use plastic. The manufacturing process begins by washing and sorting the collected bottles before they are shredded and turned into pellets. The pellets are then converted into fibers that are spun and woven into fabric . To achieve the weather-resistant finish, the bags are coated in a recycled PVB made from old windshields. Anya Hindmarch partnered with a Taiwanese company for the finish, which appears to be the only one of its kind that has achieved Global Recycled Standard (GRS) certification. After considering faux options, the company decided the least impactful trim was real leather. It sourced the natural meat byproduct as a way to recycle the material. Collected from a tannery in Northern Italy, the leather doesn’t travel far to the manufacturing line. While Anya Hindmarch designers don’t believe that carbon-offsetting is the answer for an industry known for excessive waste and pollution , they also partnered with EcoAct, a global climate change consultant. EcoAct has been measuring the emissions from the I Am a Plastic Bag production in order to make the process carbon-neutral. As a statement of what the line stands for, Anya Hindmarch closed its doors for three days, completely filling the store with 90,000 discarded plastic water bottles and a post on the door explaining the cause. A limited selection of bags was pre-launched in February at London Fashion Week, and the complete four-color collection will be widely available in April. + Anya Hindmarch Images via Anya Hindmarch

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‘I Am a Plastic Bag’ is made from recycled single-use plastic bottles

Antarctica reaches record high temperature

February 11, 2020 by  
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The frozen continent recently logged its warmest temperature to date, a whopping 65 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s quite a leap from its previous record of about 63 degrees Fahrenheit, set five years ago in 2015. The reading was documented at the Argentine research base of Esperanza and will soon be verified by the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization (WMO). “Everything we have seen thus far indicates a likely legitimate record. But we will, of course, begin a formal evaluation of the record, once we have full data from SMN and on the meteorological conditions surrounding the event. The record appears to be likely associated (in the short term) with what we call a regional ‘foehn’ event over the area: a rapid warming of air coming down a slope or mountain,” Randall Cerveny, the WMO’s Weather and Climate Extremes rapporteur, shared. Related:  NASA finds cavity the size of Manhattan underneath Antarctic glacier Scientists advise that unless global warming is reined in, the South Pole’s ice and snow will disintegrate and cause sea levels to rise drastically. Currently, Vice reports that Antarctica sloughs off 127 gigatonnes of ice mass annually, equivalent to roughly 20,000 Great Pyramids of Giza! The warmer temperatures of the Antarctic are taking its toll on some of the continent’s well-known denizens. Frida Bengtsson, part of a Greenpeace expedition, told Time magazine in an email, “We’ve been in the Antarctic for the last month, documenting the dramatic changes this part of the world is undergoing as our planet warms. In the last month, we’ve seen penguin colonies sharply declining under the impacts of climate change in this supposedly pristine  environment .” Certain areas of the frozen continent have become the fastest-warming regions on Earth. The WMO has even cited Antarctic temperatures to have risen almost 3 degrees Celsius in the past 50 years. Meanwhile, the UN has been advising nations that global temperatures should not increase by more than 2 degrees Celsius. The WMO website further explained, Antarctica  measures nearly twice the size of Australia and generally measures annual temperatures ranging “from about -10 degrees Celsius on the Antarctic coast to -60 degrees Celsius at the highest parts of the interior. Its immense ice sheet is up to 4.8 kilometers thick and contains 90% of the world’s freshwater, enough to raise sea level by around 60 meters were it all to melt.” + World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Via Vice , CNET and Time Images via Pixabay

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Odd.Bot, the weed-pulling robot that could eliminate herbicides

February 11, 2020 by  
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The aging adage, “there’s an app for that,” is evolving into, “there’s a robot for that.” More and more automation is finding its way to the market for household chores like cleaning floors, and now that innovation is in farmer’s fields with Odd.Bot, an automatic weeding robot. Odd.Bot made an appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last month with an informational booth and the weed-plucking device on display. Martijn Lukaart, Founder and CEO, explains that Odd.Bot is currently intended for use in organic farming fields to make the weed-pulling process easier for large farms who currently do all the work by hand. Many large-scale farmers have already invested in a platform that allows workers to lay face down on a bed as they are propelled through the rows of crops. This provides workers a quicker and more comfortable way to pull weeds manually. However, Odd.Bot’s goal is to work the fields ahead of humans with many advantages for the  crops , farmers and workers. Related: California man files lawsuit against Monsanto for allegedly hiding dangers of glyphosate Firstly, Odd.Bot can improve crop yield by tackling weeds early on and continuously. This gives crops more room to grow without competition from weeds, and thus a larger yield. Additionally, Odd.Bot is 100% organic by achieving the task without any chemicals or harm to the plants . Using the robot provides farmers an alternative to the struggles of finding and keeping as many employees. Plus, it makes the job much easier for those workers who are on staff. Odd.Bot works by autonomously roving along rows of crops, propelled on heavy-duty tires. A mechanism in the center of the robot then extends down to extract weeds as it moves. Cameras and sensors keep the robot on task and away from growing crops, regardless of row width. The robots can be rented to clear fields for a jumpstart to the growing season or as helpful “hand” as crops mature. In addition to reducing the manual workload and minimizing the need for gas-guzzling tractors that pollute the environment, Odd.Bot also hopes to move into the traditional farming market where they can influence a diversion from traditional herbicide usage. On the company website, they state, “With our Weed Whacker we aim to save more than 170.000 liters of chemical herbicides in the next seven years.” By making organic farming more profitable, Odd.Bot also hopes to directly or indirectly contribute to providing healthy food at reasonable costs. + Odd.Bot Images via Odd.Bot

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Odd.Bot, the weed-pulling robot that could eliminate herbicides

How wildfires have and will continue to shape our future

November 23, 2019 by  
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California has long dominated the headlines about wildfires — but other regions are experiencing fires more often.

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How wildfires have and will continue to shape our future

Governments and businesses seek resilience in a changing climate

October 31, 2019 by  
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Entities are looking more closely at microgrids and other technologies as a solution.

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Governments and businesses seek resilience in a changing climate

How to grow your own pumpkins

October 4, 2019 by  
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Fall is the time of year when we pull out the sweaters and boots, add a jacket to our attire and immerse ourselves in all things pumpkin. From creamer to donuts to home decor , pumpkins represent autumn from when the first leaf falls to long after the Thanksgiving dishes have been dried and put away. Of course, there is also the age-old practice of carving pumpkins for Halloween. While every supermarket has mounds of pumpkins ready for purchase, with a little planning you can grow and harvest your own pumpkins for everything from jack-o’-lanterns to pumpkin bread. Plan ahead By the time October hits, all you can really do is plan for next year’s garden (which is a great idea!). Seeds should go into the ground between the end of May and mid-July, depending on where you live. Be sure you don’t plant too early in the season. Although the plants will thrive and produce fruit happily throughout the late summer and early fall, you may find yourself with rotten fruit before the pumpkin-carving party if they ripen months beforehand. Provide space Pumpkin plants ramble. In fact, they will take over and may cause problems if confined, so give them a dedicated area to thrive. This is not a plant that will be successful on an apartment balcony. Allow them ample room to bush out without running into other garden crops, outbuildings or fencing. For planning purposes, set aside around 9-10 feet in each direction for each mound of plants (around 100 square feet). Related: How to cook a whole pumpkin (seeds, guts and all) Mound it up Rounded mounds of soil provide the drainage and depth pumpkins need to thrive. Pumpkin seeds and vines are finicky, so you don’t want to handle or transplant them once they are in soil . To avoid disturbing them, make sure your mounds are established before planting. Set them at least 5-6 feet apart from each other. Let it shine When choosing the location for your pumpkin mounds, select a space that receives a lot of sunlight . Pumpkin seeds don’t do well in cold soil or dirt that is too wet. They prefer a warm environment, so choose your selection with that in mind. Choose preferred varieties There are many varieties of pumpkins, some that look more like squash in shape and color. In fact, many people use the labels squash and pumpkin interchangeably. There are also a variety of sizes, from small decorative options to giant, 100-pound versions. Choose your seeds well to match the space you have available. Related: How to cook and enjoy 10 types of squash other than pumpkin Make them share Pumpkins grow well in clusters. To find the strongest plants, plant five or six seeds per mound. Seeds should be pressed into the soil about one inch deep and lightly covered. Once they are well-established, thin to the healthiest two to three plants per mound. Each plant will produce multiple pumpkins . You can see the potential when the plants bloom flowers. Soon, each of those flowers will have a pumpkin behind it beginning to form. Be mindful though — only female flowers produce fruit. The male flowers bloom briefly, giving bees an opportunity to find the flowering vines. Then, they drop off the plant. Female flowers, however, will show the bulb of the green emerging fruit behind them. Keep the weeds out Weeds can choke out the productivity of your pumpkin plants, so keep them at bay by frequently checking for new growth and removing them early on. A hoe works well for this task to avoid the back and knee strain from getting on the ground. Try not to dig too deep, which could interfere with the roots of the pumpkin plants. Avoid harmful weed killers anywhere near your plants (and preferably your entire yard). Applying mulch to pumpkin plants will help keep the weeds away and hold the moisture in. Stick to a watering schedule Pumpkins are fairly forgiving of a little neglect when it comes to water , as long as they have a chance to get established with reliable drinks. Give them a drink at least once each week, saturating the soil around the base of each plant while avoiding leaves and fruit wherever possible. In the beginning though, avoid flooding the seed and seedlings as they become established. Instead, give them shallow drinks. Schedule an extra watering if the weather is extreme during the early summer growing season. Growing care You won’t have to dote on your growing pumpkins too frequently. Given the right location, soil and temperature, they are pretty self-sufficient. If you are planning to use your pumpkins for carving, you may want to gently rotate them occasionally. This will help avoid pumpkins with a flat side and help them grow into a more uniform shape; however, the vines are persnickety, so use caution or the vine may be damaged. Tip: Set each pumpkin on a piece of cardboard and gently rotate it every few weeks for even heat and light. Harvest Your pumpkins will likely be ready to harvest during the last two weeks of September. They are ready when the stem is firm and the pumpkin turns from green to deep orange. Cut the stem carefully as most have sharp prickles. Use gloves and a sharp blade. Leave around 3-4 inches of stem attached to the pumpkin. You can leave the pumpkin attached to the vine, or cut it and leave it outside. However, if freezing weather is coming, cut your pumpkins and store them in a cool, dry location. Use as soon as possible for decor or your favorite recipe . Images via James Wheeler , Waldo Jaquith , Austin Kirk and K. Sayer

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How to grow your own pumpkins

New app could save Puget Sound whales from boat strikes

October 4, 2019 by  
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Boat strikes are a major cause of injury and death for whales. This week, Washington State Ferries implemented a whale report alert system ( WRAS ) app that notifies ferry captains of the whereabouts of orcas and other cetaceans in Puget Sound to help prevent collisions. The app, created by Ocean Wise Research in Vancouver , British Columbia, is only for use by commercial maritime operations, including ships, ferries and tugboats. But the app relies on members of the public reporting real-time whale sightings. Once a trusted observer spots a whale, dolphin or porpoise, they submit the siting to the app. The siting is verified, then the app alerts commercial mariners on the water within 10 miles of the siting. Staff at the ops center can also receive an alert and communicate it to nearby vessels. Related: 14 apps to help you live a more sustainable lifestyle Armed with this information, ferry captains will be able to make better decisions about their courses and speed to avoid collisions with marine animals. Mariners can leave feedback in the app, reporting any mitigation actions they took. “Because we operate our 22 ferries on Puget Sound and manage 20 terminals on its shores, we have an obligation to ensure WSF is doing everything we can to protect our environment, including marine life,” said Amy Scarton, assistant secretary for Washington State Ferries . WSF is the country’s largest ferry system, transporting nearly 25 million passengers every year. The ferries run between Anacortes, the San Juan Islands, Port Townsend and other Washington towns. According to NOAA Fisheries , blue, fin, humpback and gray whales are the West Coast’s whale species that are most vulnerable to ship strikes, because shipping traffic is heavy between Los Angeles /Long Beach and Seattle. Whales migrate along the West Coast and often use the coastal area for feeding. In May, a juvenile humpback whale breached three minutes into a ferry run from Seattle to Bainbridge Island. The ferry struck — and presumably killed — the whale. Developers of the WRAS app hope that the alert system can help avoid similar tragedies in the future. + Washington State Ferries Image via C. Emmons / NOAA Fisheries / Oregon State University

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New app could save Puget Sound whales from boat strikes

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