Guide to sustainable winter activities

December 3, 2018 by  
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Just because the temperature plummets and the daylight runs short doesn’t mean your bustling days need to end. Instead of hibernating like a bear, wearing pajamas and watching Netflix day after day, put some fun on the schedule and look forward to a winter full of activities. Of course, consumption and waste are always a consideration here at Inhabitat so here’s our top choices for the best eco-friendly, sustainable activities for your winter calendar. Snow play Those who love winter often anticipate the arrival of snow. Even those who long for summer have to admit that there is much fun to be had in the snow. Besides the obvious snowboarding and skiing, think local. Drag a sled up and down a hill for the afternoon and follow it up with hot cocoa or cider back at home. Take those cross-country skis off the wall and head to a nearby field or back-country road. Make, rent, or purchase some snowshoes for an invigorating experience. No discussion of snow would be complete without recommending you build a snowman and enjoy the mandatory snowball fight that comes with it. Alternately, build an igloo or snow cave. If you’re really adventurous you could even camp out in it! Get into nature Many outdoor activities can roll over from fall into winter. If the weather is not too severe, keep up your nature hikes and monitor the changes in the landscape throughout the season. While you’re out, look for supplies that you could use in crafts, such as pine cones, leaves, rocks, curved bark, acorns, or colorful berries. In fact, make it a challenge with a scavenger hunt or look up geocaching in your area and see if you can find the prize. Have a picnic Yes, you can. Of course you can. Why not? Replace the summer Chablis with a thermos of heated goodness. Bring along some hearty favorites and a thick blanket or pop-up tent. Find cover at a nearby park and watch the river rush by or the birds forage for food. Have a war For those mild-weather regions or even those with snow on the ground, grab the kids or a group of friends and head to the woods for a paintball war. Just be sure to wear eye protection and choose eco-friendly paints for you guns. Of course, you can recreate the same fun at home with rubber band guns and they are even easy to make yourself with any shape of wood and a clothespin mounted on top to fire the rubber bands. Baking party As soon as the days begin to shorten, the baked goods are in high demand. Instead of spending hours alone in the kitchen, why not make it a party? Invite over a few friends and pool ingredients to maximize the eco-friendly advantages of bulk foods, reduced packaging, and minimal waste. At the end of the day you’ll each have a variety of baked goods to take to your family or give as gifts. Travel by train There’s something about traveling by train that is timeless and serene. Of course, it’s also nice that it’s one of the most earth-friendly forms of transport. So whether you’re traveling to reach a destination or simply to take a scenic tour, hop aboard the train as your first option. Local events Communities organize events during every season and winter is no exception. Check the local online pages and printed newspapers for sustainable events in your area. These might include taking a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, or attending a tree lighting ceremony, fundraising event, or salmon education walk. Volunteer Wintertime is a rough season for the homeless and less fortunate. Take some time to help out at a soup kitchen or local food bank and feel good about your contribution. Craft party For an indoor activity, invite over some friends or plan a party for your kids. You can make any number of things as a group including wreaths, blankets, quilts, pick-me-up cards for seniors or veterans, etc. For the kids, make Play-doh, Flubber, fingerpaints, or paper snowflakes. Donate them if you like or use them as gifts during the holidays and beyond. Build a birdhouse Your feathered friends will enjoy a warm place to sleep too. Get together with friends and make birdhouses for your backyard sanctuary. Visit the library The library is a great place to spend a soggy winter afternoon. Learn something new or just enjoy some quiet time. Indoor herb garden Many plants will grow indoors, even during the winter. Take pleasure in planting an herb garden and watch it grow while you enjoy fresh herbs year round. Take an adventure There’s no need to wait for summer for your next adventure. Instead, hunt down eco-friendly winter options around you. Go ice skating on the lake, visit the local reindeer farm, or experience your first dog sled ride. Winter is waiting. Go get it! Images via Shutterstock, Andrew Ly , Ethan Hu , lukasbieri , rawpixel , skeeze , jill111 , Michael Mroczek , Susan Yin , pintando la luz

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Guide to sustainable winter activities

A dark, timber home rests peacefully among evergreen pine trees

October 30, 2018 by  
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San Francisco- and Oslo-based firm  Mork Ulnes Architects has unveiled a black  timber home tucked into a forestscape in Norden, California. To connect the home with its stunning scenery, the chalet-inspired Troll Hus was clad in pine tar-treated wood and elevated off the landscape with large concrete pillars for minimal site impact. The massive, 3,300-square-foot family home holds court in the middle of a pine forest , just an hour and a half outside of Sacramento. To blend the home into its pristine natural environment, it was clad in dark wood. The black, timber structure sits high up near the tree canopies, giving off a sense of peaceful solitude among the soaring trees. Related: A cypress tree grows through this hillside home in Los Angeles According to the architects, the inspiration for the design was to create a family home where the residents could reconnect with nature, whether inside or outside the home. They explained, “The design is driven both by the extreme environmental conditions found at a 6,800-foot elevation and a California sensibility of generous indoor-outdoor living.” While the elevation of the home certainly affords stunning views, the pillars are also a strategic feature that provides resilience and passive temperature control . The concrete legs were meant to reduce the impact on the environment and protect the home from snow fall, which can reach up to 800 inches during winter. Additionally, putting extra elevation to the home allows for optimal solar exposure in the winter and shading from direct sun in the summer. The orientation of the house also shields the building from strong winds. On the interior, the living space is clad in light wood paneling, creating a soothing vibe. An abundance of large windows brighten the interior with natural light . The open living and dining layout was designed to offer ample room for entertaining or simply enjoying the views in solitude. A large terrace wraps around one side of the home, further enhancing the design’s strong connection to the outdoors. + Mork Ulnes Architects Via Freshome Photography by  Bruce Damonte

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A dark, timber home rests peacefully among evergreen pine trees

Beer prices expected to soar as climate change challenges barley production

October 17, 2018 by  
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Shrinking barley yields caused by climate change will be disrupting the beer industry in the coming decades. The grain is central to beer production, and a new study published on Monday signals trouble for brewers who rely on the failing crop. Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage worldwide, and consumers are equally as dismayed by the report, which will cause a surge in beer prices up to two times its current cost for some nations. The shortages in barley production are caused by extreme weather that has intensified because of global warming . Both heat waves and droughts are expected to decimate the beer industry in the second half of the century. These events, which are predicted to occur every two or three years, are directly linked to rising temperatures. At the current expected rates of temperature rise, experts say the production drop is inevitable. Related: A beer crisis is brewing in Germany as bottle recycling slows amid heatwaves The study, published by researchers at the University of East Anglia, said that brewery troubles are minor in comparison to other challenges the planet will face from climate change. Among these are food security, fresh water and storm damage. Even so, the 3 to 17 percent drop in barley yields is disheartening for beer fans who will face shortages and price spikes. China is set to face the most shortages this century, with the U.S. as a runner up. Beer production in Germany and Russia will also fall on hard times, but Ireland, Italy, Canada and Poland will see the largest price increases. In Ireland, which is home to a popular brew culture, the price for a 500ml bottle could rise from $2.50 to a whopping $5. “Climate change will affect all of us, not only people who are in India or African countries,” said Dabo Guan, professor of climate change economics and lead author of the study. Guan emphasized the importance of recognizing that climate change is not something that developed nations will be immune to. Ultimately, the answer lies in supporting policies that reduce the emissions causing this climate disruption, and many companies are moving forward and instating their own regulations. One such company is Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s biggest brewing house, which is planning on cutting its emissions by 25 percent by 2025. The company is also working on a drought-resistant strain of barley that could offset shortages as well as strains that could be grown throughout the winter. Via Reuters Image via Raw Pixel

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Coca-Cola rewards recycling in the UK with half-priced theme park tickets

July 26, 2018 by  
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Many theme-park visitors in the U.S. are familiar with using bottles or cans of soda they’ve purchased to score a discounted entry to their favorite attractions. Now, the U.K. is joining in with “reverse vending machines” to reward visitors instantly for recycling . Merlin , owner and operator of several U.K. resort theme parks, has teamed up with Coca-Cola to boost recycling and combat litter pollution in the U.K. As part of Coca-Cola’s rewards program, visitors may now deposit their finished 500 ml beverage containers into “reverse vending machines” and obtain 50 percent off vouchers in exchange for their environmental contribution. “We want to reward people for doing the right thing by recycling their bottles and hope to encourage some people who wouldn’t otherwise have done so,” Jon Woods, general manager of Coca-Cola U.K. and Ireland,  told The Guardian . The machines are installed at four Merlin-operated attractions: Chessington World of Adventures, Alton Towers, Thorpe Park and  LEGOLAND . But those who are rewarded with discounts can use their prizes at any of the 30 attractions operated by Merlin in the country. The promotion is planned to continue until mid-October, when most of the parks will shut down for the winter season. Related: This floating park in Rotterdam is made from recycled plastic waste Of the 13 billion plastic bottles sold yearly in the U.K., only 7.5 billion are recycled, according to a report by the Guardian . This initiative is hoping to shift these statistics more favorably while also eliminating the 700,000 bottles that are littered daily. “All of our bottles can be recycled, and we want to get as many of them back as possible, so they can be turned into new bottles and not end up as litter,” Woods said. According to research by Coca-Cola, 64 percent of people in the U.K. would be more inclined to recycle more if they were instantly compensated for their actions. The move to encourage recycling at theme-parks comes after Co-op , the first retailer in the U.K. to launch deposit return trials with the reverse vending machines, reported positive feedback from its partnership with popular summer music festivals. This recycling movement will help tackle the stresses government officials face in light of growing land and marine pollution. + Coca-Cola Via  The Guardian and  BusinessGreen Image via Shutterstock

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Coca-Cola rewards recycling in the UK with half-priced theme park tickets

Migratory barnacle geese threatened by rapidly rising Arctic temperatures

July 20, 2018 by  
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Migrating barnacle geese that lay their eggs in the Arctic zones of northern Russia are becoming confounded by earlier springs in their traditional nesting grounds, according to a study published in Current Biology . The rising temperatures in the Arctic circles caused by global warming are threatening the survival of this species, which travels more than 3,000 km, or 1,800 miles, to reach their nesting territory. The research , released in May 2018, noted that the geese habitually make the month-long journey from parts of northern Germany and the Netherlands based on a biologically coordinated schedule now jeopardized by human activity. Rapid environmental changes have caused the animals to speed up their flight plans. Related: Arctic shipping routes could threaten “unicorns of the sea” Bart Nolet, member of the research team from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology and the University of Amsterdam, told NPR , “They actually depart from the wintering areas around the same date regardless of whether it’s early or late spring in the Arctic ,” because they “cannot predict what the weather is or what the season is up there from 3,000 kilometers distance.” This causes the geese to speed up their inherent migration pattern mid-flight, after they realize that the temperature is too warm. They complete the arduous expedition in only a week, leaving them exhausted. Originally, the birds used to arrive and lay their eggs just as the winter snow melted. By the time their goslings hatched, plants began to grow, resulting in a “food peak” for the animals. Now, both adult and baby barnacle geese must bear the hardships of malnourishment. Despite rushing their migration and flying “nearly nonstop from the wintering areas to their breeding grounds,” according to Nolet, the 10 days needed after migration to find food and recover from exhaustion still puts the birds behind schedule. The geese cannot lay their eggs straightaway. Instead, after their expedited journey, they must rest and forage for food to ensure their own survival and the vitality of their offspring — ultimately the determining factor in the continuance of their species. + Current Biology Via NPR Images via Gennady Alexandrov

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Migratory barnacle geese threatened by rapidly rising Arctic temperatures

For 16 years, this stork has flown 8,700 miles to return to his one true love

April 16, 2018 by  
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Just when you thought the world was one raging garbage fire , along comes this amazing stork to brighten the day. For the past 16 years, without fail, one male stork has flown 8,700 miles to be with his mate who can no longer fly after being shot by poachers. Klepetan the stork travels from his winter nest in South Africa to his mate’s Malena’s home in Croatia every single March where they reunite and raise a new brood. Malena was injured by a gunshot in 1993, but a local hero took her home after finding her by a lake and nursed her back to health. “If I had left her in the pond foxes would have eaten her. But I changed her fate, so now I’m responsible for her life,” said Stjepan Vokic, the man who cares for Malena. Now, although she can’t migrate any longer, she has a pretty sweet life. Vokic has built an “improvised Africa” where she can stay warm, and he cares for her by bathing her, catching her fish in the river and making sure her feet are moisturized. He even watches stork documentaries with her so she won’t get lonely, and takes her fishing. Related: This friendly fish has visited a Japanese diver for 25 years Klepetan arrives every March as spring begins in Croatia after traveling for a month from his winter home. Every spring, Vokic builds a new nest on his roof so that when Klepetan arrives, the couple can mate, and so far, they’ve had 62 chicks together. In the fall, Klepetan migrates back to South Africa with his new little family, and Malena stays behind with her human friend. Vokic says that the couple struggles to say goodbye every year, and Malena hides and stops eating when she knows Klepetan is about to go. Via Oddity Central Images via HRT

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For 16 years, this stork has flown 8,700 miles to return to his one true love

The world’s biggest Arctic lake isn’t as resistant to climate change as scientists thought

March 29, 2018 by  
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Scientists used to think Lake Hazen, located around 560 miles away from the North Pole in Canada , was beyond the reach of human impact. But new research led by geographer Igor Lehnherr of the University of Toronto Mississauga reveals the High Arctic lake is reacting to climate change . Lehnherr said in the university’s statement , “Even in a place so far north, it’s no longer cold enough to prevent the glaciers from shrinking. If this place is no longer conducive for glaciers to grow, there are not many other refuges left on the planet.” Lake Hazen park staff and visitors noticed the lake’s lack of ice in the summer; in the past, it was rare for the ice to melt completely during that time. Their reports sparked this new study, as did the realization that glaciers melted more in summer than they were growing in the winter, according to Lehnherr. Related: The melting Arctic is already changing the ocean’s circulation Scientists drew on research dating back to the 1950s for a study that is “the first to aggregate and analyze massive data sets on Lake Hazen,” according to the university. Lehnherr said on his website , the Environmental and Aquatic Biogeochemistry Laboratory , “What our study shows is that even in the High Arctic, warming is now occurring to such an extent that it is no longer cold enough for glaciers to grow, and lake ice to persist year-round.” Since Lake Hazen is so big, theoretically it should show more resilience to climate change compared to smaller bodies of water or ponds, Lehnherr said in the university’s statement. His website said he and his team had hypothesized Lake Hazen would be “relatively resilient to the impacts of Arctic warming” and the “finding that this was not the case is alarming.” Lehnherr said in the university’s statement, “If this lake is exhibiting signs of climate change, it really shows how pervasive these changes are.” The journal Nature Communications published the research online this week; scientists from institutions in Canada, the United States, and Austria also contributed. + University of Toronto Mississauga + Environmental and Aquatic Biogeochemistry Laboratory + Nature Communications Images via Pieter Aukes and Igor Lehnherr

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The world’s biggest Arctic lake isn’t as resistant to climate change as scientists thought

10 things you need to know about living in the 2018 Airstream Globetrotter travel trailer

March 29, 2018 by  
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Have you ever dreamed of packing your bags and hitting the road on an Airstream adventure? You’re not alone. The Airstream is a modern marvel that promises freedom, comfort and self-sufficiency – and it has captured the hearts of dreamers, explorers, and design-savvy travelers for decades. We recently had the chance to take a brand new 2018 Airstream Globetrotter for a trip along the rugged coastline of California – read on for 10 things we learned on the way. 1. Don’t fear the tow Prior to this trip, I had never towed a vehicle before – so the prospect of flying down the freeway with a 3-ton, $100,000 aluminum bubble made me just a little nervous. Still, I found myself at Bay Area Airstream Adventures with a media loan* for a 2018 Globetrotter and a Nissan Titan. Their knowledgeable, friendly team taught me everything I needed to know, sat me in the driver’s seat, and I hit the road just in time for rush hour. Despite the traffic, the trip went smoothly. The Nissan Titan has plenty of power, and the Airstream team coached me to make slow starts, gradual stops, and “unapologetically wide right turns.” Once I made it through San Francisco and hit the Pacific Coast Highway, the rest of the drive was a breeze. 2. The world is your oyster The Globetrotter can adapt to pretty much any environment – but when it came time to select a campsite, I knew exactly where I wanted to go. Costanoa KOA is an eco-adventure resort set amidst one of the most scenic stretches of California’s coastline. Located about an hour south of San Francisco, Costanoa is the perfect home base for exploring the region’s rocky coastline, lush green hills, and prime surf breaks. Elephant seals populate Año Nuevo State Park to the south, while the historic Pigeon Point Lighthouse lies just a few miles to the north. The campground has the feel of a cozy coastal village with communal fireplaces, wooden lodges, a restaurant and a general store. It also offers full RV hookups and it’s great for kids, with activities ranging from nature hikes and whale watching to falconry presentations and photography tours. 3. It has all the comforts of home This isn’t your grandfather’s airstream . The wood-heavy interiors of yesteryear have evolved into a light, bright space lined with skylights and panoramic windows. The Globetrotter packs pretty much every amenity you could want – including air conditioning, heating, a full kitchen, a microwave, a refrigerator, a Polk sound system, and two TVs with satellite cable. 4. Bring your friends Thanks to some seriously impressive interior design, the Globetrotter is able to sleep six people. The master bedroom holds a queen-size mattress, another bed slides out from the sofa, and the dining table lowers and locks to create an additional sleeping platform. There’s plenty of room to comfortably lounge and sleep with four people, although I can imagine the quarters get pretty close at full capacity. 5. Smart storage saves the day Organization is the key to living in a tiny home – and Airstream packed clever space-saving features into every nook and cranny of the Globetrotter. Eye-level cabinets are lined with lights and mirrors so that you can easily find what you’re looking for. Additional storage can be found beneath the banquette seating, within the wardrobe, under the sink, and even below the queen bed, which conveniently lifts upwards. 6. It’s chef approved Despite its small size, the Globetrotter’s kitchen can make short work out of even complicated multi-course meals. The oven is topped with three gas burners, and a microwave slides stealthily out of a side cabinet. A full sink makes cleanup a snap, and it can be covered up with Corian insets to create additional counter space. It’s crab season in California, so we whipped up a seafood feast with a pasta course and a blood orange salad. 7. It’s off-grid ready Thanks to smart systems design, the Globetrotter is equally adept at plugging into the grid or ‘boondocking’ in the middle of nowhere. It can tap into district water at a campsite, or you can draw upon its 39-gallon freshwater tank. Heating is provided by an electric heat pump or a propane furnace. The refrigerator can run on electricity or gas, and the roof comes ready to accept a solar array. These systems maximize the trailer’s flexibility and comfort in a wide range of environments and conditions. 8. But there’s definitely a learning curve It takes knowledge and experience to maximize your efficiency – especially if you’re camping off-grid. Knowing which systems to activate at what time can spell the difference between a comfortable stay and a dead battery. Fortunately, there are lots of resources available online to help light the way. 9. Get ready to measure your footprint With all the luxuries that the Globetrotter provides, it’s easy to forget that you’re working with certain constraints. A handy panel keeps the score, measuring the Globetrotter’s battery charge and fresh water levels (critical when boondocking) as well as how much room is left in the gray and black water tanks. Having access to this information really makes you consider the resources you use – and the waste you produce. 10. It’s built for the long haul The Globetrotter appeals to a certain kind of traveler. It takes some effort and knowledge to get it to its location, set it up, and operate it efficiently, so it’s not as quick or easy as tent camping. But it’s definitely more comfortable, durable, and versatile – and with the right setup and practices, it can serve as a cozy, stylish, and modern home on wheels practically indefinitely. + 2018 Airstream Globetrotter + Bay Area Airstream Adventures + Costanoa KOA Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat Full disclosure: Airstream and Nissan Titan loan provided by Bay Area Airstream Adventures and JMPR Public Relations . Costanoa KOA reservation provided by Allison + Partners

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10 things you need to know about living in the 2018 Airstream Globetrotter travel trailer

Planet parade to dazzle stargazers this week here’s what you need to know

March 7, 2018 by  
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Mercury , Venus , Mars , Jupiter , and Saturn : those are the planets stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere will be able to glimpse this week during what The Weather Channel called a planet parade. While you won’t be able to spot them all at the same time, you could snag views of Mercury and Venus after sunset and Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn before dawn — read on to find out how. March is an excellent month for “catching all five bright planets,” according to EarthSky . They define bright planet as one in our solar system that can be viewed without an optical aid “and that’s been watched since time immemorial.” Whoa! Cool. In March 2018, you can see all 5 bright planets. https://t.co/kwFqw9Gzhk Look west after sunset for Mercury and Venus. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are up before dawn. #Mercury #Venus #Jupiter #Mars #Saturn #visibleplanets pic.twitter.com/oyss7rrvb2 — EarthSky (@earthskyscience) March 2, 2018 Related: Google maps the solar system for armchair space travelers Catch Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn before dawn; according to EarthSky, Jupiter should rise around one hour after midnight, and Mars and Saturn appear closer to dawn. The planets have slightly varying rising times depending on where you are on Earth ; EarthSky recommends a few sky almanacs accessible here . The Weather Channel said people in the Rocky Mountains and areas in the South will have the best opportunity for viewing on Wednesday morning. On Thursday morning, the South and areas in the West will be the best locations. If you’re in the Northeast, you might be out of luck; Winter Storm Quinn could obstruct the view, according to meteorologist Chris Dolce. See all 5 bright planets in March https://t.co/Tol9xs2C3L You can't see them simultaneously. But, especially from the Northern Hemisphere, March 2018 is a great month for catching all 5 bright planets either after sunset, or before dawn. pic.twitter.com/tE7rkvHOYs — EarthSky (@earthskyscience) March 2, 2018 Mercury and Venus will appear close together in the first few weeks of March, and you can catch them in the west after sunset. Venus is around “12 times brighter than Mercury,” so EarthSky recommends searching for Venus if you’re having trouble finding our solar system’s smallest planet. If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, don’t worry! You’ll get your shot at spotting the five planets in April. Via EarthSky and The Weather Channel Images via Greg Rakozy on Unsplash and Paul VanDerWerf on Flickr

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Planet parade to dazzle stargazers this week here’s what you need to know

Will the Environment Medal at the Winter Olympics in South Korea?

February 9, 2018 by  
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For the Winter Olympics, South Korea is rocking an array of … The post Will the Environment Medal at the Winter Olympics in South Korea? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Will the Environment Medal at the Winter Olympics in South Korea?

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