This elevated prefab home in Chile takes in striking volcano views

April 18, 2019 by  
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In the Chilean city of Pucón, Santiago architect Alejandro Soffia has recently completed a prefab home that visually pops against its wooded surroundings. Fittingly named the Yellow House after its bright yellow facade, the modular residence is elevated off the ground for reduced site impact and to create a treehouse-like feel. The home’s modules were strategically connected with wooden joints and punctuated by full-height glazing to frame views of Lake Villarrica on one side and the Villarrica volcano on the other. Built from a series of SIP modules that Soffia designed himself, the prefabricated Yellow House spans just under 1,100 square feet and consists of a long hallway that connects an open-plan living room, kitchen, library and dining area on one end of the house to the two bedrooms on the other side. The house also opens up to an outdoor terrace built from wood. “The hypothesis is, that if you create a prefabricated system which has a good architectural design, then you can reproduce this quality as much as you need it, within the laws of short/long production series,” explains Soffia, who adds that he prefers prefabrication due to its reduced site impact and speed of construction without compromising quality. “And if in the serial industrial production of buildings you get bored, you can also customize form and function through the system. More benefits when you fasten the building process and have more control over quality and cost.” Related: A modular classroom for environmental education pops up in a Barcelona park Full-height glazing fills the interior with light and creates an indoor/ outdoor living experience that immerses the owner in the forest. In contrast to the bright yellow corrugated facade, the interiors are lined in wood, with some sections left unpainted and others painted black. Minimalist decor keeps the focus on the outdoors. + Alejandro Soffia Via ArchDaily Images by Juan Durán Sierralta, Mathias Jacobs

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This elevated prefab home in Chile takes in striking volcano views

A guide to the different types of plastic

April 18, 2019 by  
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BPA, PET, HDPE. You’re trying to do the right thing by recycling, following health alerts and shopping wisely, but you’re not fluent in molecular chemistry. So how do you decipher exactly what it all means and how to stay green? We’re here to help with a handy guide on different types of plastic and how they impact the planet and your health. Fast facts about our plastic problem According to Earth Day , here are some stats that give you an idea of the scale of our plastic addiction. • Since its invention in the 1950s, over 9 billion tons of plastic have been produced. • Ninety-one percent of all plastics are not recycled, meaning almost all plastic ever produced is piled up in our landfills and oceans . • Americans use 100 billion plastic bags every year. If you tie all these bags together, they reach around the Earth 773 times. • By 2050, there will be more pounds of plastic in the ocean than fish. • There are more microplastics in the ocean than stars in the Milk Way. What are microplastics? Keep reading! Types of plastic: what the terms mean, where you find them and how they impact health Courtesy of National Geographic and  Waste4Change , below are terms commonly used by manufacturers and health advisers. Additives Additives are chemicals added to plastic to enhance certain qualities. For example, they might make the material stronger, more flexible, fire-resistant or UV inhibitive. Depending on what is added to the plastic, these substances can be toxic to your health. Biodegradable This term means that a material can break down into natural substances through decomposition within a reasonable amount of time. Plastic does not biodegrade , so the term is misleading and still means that the substance may leave toxic residue behind. In fact, some states are now banning this term in relation to plastic. Bioplastic Bioplastic is a broad term for all types of plastic, including both petroleum and biological-based products. It does not mean that a plastic is non-toxic, made from safe or natural sources or non-fossil-fuel-based. This term can be misleading, because many consumers assume “bio” means natural and therefore healthy. Related: Shellworks upcycled leftover lobster shells into biodegradable bioplastics Bisphenol-A (BPA) BPA is a toxic industrial chemical that can be found in plastic containers and in the coating of cans, among other uses. It can leach into foods and liquids. BPA-free products have merely replaced the substance with less-toxic bisphenol-S or bisphenol-F, both of which still pose health concerns. Compostable This term means something can break down or degrade into natural materials within a composting system, typically through decomposition by microorganisms. Some new plastics are labeled as compostable; however, this certification mostly requires industrial composting systems, not your garden compost pile. Compostable plastics do not leave behind toxic residue after they decompose, but they must be separated out for industrial composting and not put in recycle or landfill bins. Some major cities like New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Minneapolis have industrial composting programs, but many do not. Ghost nets/fishing gear Approximately 640,000 tons of fishing gear are abandoned, lost or discarded in the ocean every year. Most of this equipment is made from plastic, including nets, buoys, traps and lines, and all of it endangers marine life . Related: Ghost gear is haunting our oceans High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) HDPE is thick plastic used in bags, containers and bottles. It is safer and more stable that other plastics for food and drinks and can be recycled . Microplastics Microplastics are particles less than 5 millimeters long. There are two types: Primary: resin pellets melted down to make plastic or microbeads used in cosmetics and soaps Secondary : particles that result from larger pieces of plastic (such as fabrics and bottles) breaking down into millions of tiny particles that can enter air and water Ocean garbage patches Specific ocean currents carry litter thousands of miles and cause it to collect in certain areas known as garbage patches . The largest patch in the world spans a million square miles of ocean and is mostly made up of plastics. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET, PETE) Polyethylene terephthalate is a widely used plastic that is clear, strong and lightweight. It does not wrinkle and is typically used in food containers and fabrics. It is the most likely to be recycled, but it is a known carcinogen, meaning it can be absorbed into liquids over time and cause cancer . Polypropylene (PP) PP is stiffer and more heat-resistant than other types of plastic. It is often used for hot food containers, diapers, sanitary pads and car parts. It is safer than PVC and PET but still linked to asthma and hormone issues. Polystyrene (Styrofoam) Typically used in food containers and helmets, this material does not recycle well and can leach styrene that is toxic for the brain and nervous system. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) PVC is considered the most hazardous plastic, because it can leach chemicals like BPA, lead, mercury and cadmium that may cause cancer and disrupt hormones. It is often used in toys, cling wrap, detergent bottles, pipes and medical tubes. It usually has to be recycled into separate and more rare recycling programs. Single-use plastic Single-use plastic is designed to be used only once and then disposed of, such as grocery bags and packaging. Environmentalists encourage reducing your single-use plastic consumption, because after their short lifespan, these plastics pile up and pollute the Earth for centuries. Via National Geographic ,  Earth Day , Waste4Change and The Dodo Images via Shutterstock

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A guide to the different types of plastic

This man has saved over 700 stray dogs in China over the last 8 years

September 18, 2017 by  
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Zhou Yusong is a dog’s best friend. Over the last eight years, Yusong has rescued over 700 stray dogs and given them homes at his animal protection center China’s Henan Province. Though he didn’t intend on becoming the “Guardian of Dogs,” this is what he is called in his home city of Zhengzhou. It all started in 2008, when Zhou Yusong was walking down a road in Zhengzhou and noticed a stray dog that had clearly been hit by a car. It was fighting for its life, yet was ignored by those who passed by. Yusong was unable to ignore the frightened animal, so he picked it up and took it to a nearby dog shelter as he could never care for it in his tiny apartment. When the man reached the shelter, he was overwhelmed by the large number of stray dogs that had already been collected. To ease the shelter’s burden, he began donating 200 yuan ($30) every month to support the dogs’ food and medical treatments. Inspired to do more, Yusong later convinced his friend to invest 800,000 yuan ($122,000 USD) in a new animal shelter . It would be located on the banks of the Yellow River and care for the abundance of stray dogs. His friend agreed and allowed Yusong to be in charge of the facility. Within a short period of time, the animal lover quit his job and began managing the rescue center full-time. Related: South Korea’s President adopts rescue puppy, saving it from the dog meat trade To date, Yusong has rescued over 700 stray dogs, as well as a number of other small and medium-sized animals. Over the past eight years, he hasn’t taken a single vacation, as he is dedicated to ensuring all of the dogs are well taken care of. To reduce the shelter’s costs, Yusong also manages maintenance work, which includes fixing fences and trimming the bushes. He spends the remainder of his time feeding the dogs, cleaning up their kennels, and administering various medical treatments . Though Yusong wasn’t seeking recognition for his work, the world couldn’t help but give it to him after photographs of him and hundreds of dogs went viral on social media. Via Oddity Central ,  Xwtuotiao Images via  Xwtuotiao

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This man has saved over 700 stray dogs in China over the last 8 years

Peru is releasing half a million baby turtles to save species from extinction

November 3, 2016 by  
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When it comes to things in this world that make us smile, baby turtles rank quite high on the list, so the news that Peru is releasing 500,000 yellow-spotted Amazon River turtle tots into the wild is really something to celebrate. The National Service of Protected Natural Areas by the State (SERNANP), a government-run conservation group, has been setting the babies free in batches, with the first waddling into the wild in October and more to be freed in mid-November. The Amazon River turtle is a threatened species, and wildlife conservationists hope this massive baby turtle reintroduction project will give the turtles a stronger chance at survival in the long run. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM-SgOjtzks When full-grown, the yellow-spotted Amazon River turtle (P. unifilis) is one of the largest turtles in South America, and locals call them Taricaya turtles. They can measure up to 18 inches long and weigh as much as 17 lbs and, in ideal conditions, live up to 70 years. Protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) appendix as well as the US Endangered Species Act, populations of the yellow-spotted Amazon River turtle have been in decline for years. Conservationists hope this massive release will change all that. Related: 3,800 critically endangered turtles found stacked in a shipping crate headed for China The baby turtles were conceived in the wild and, in order to give them a better chance at survival, volunteers and employees from SERNANP collected the eggs in August. They were then incubated in man-made habitats for 70 days, the same amount of time they would remain in their underground nests in the wild. Turtle eggs are a target for hungry predators desperate for an easy meal, so nests are often raided leaving few, if any, eggs to reach maturity. So far, around 17,000 turtles have been released. Two more phases will bring the grand total to around 500,000 baby turtles, who will live out the rest of their natural lives in the wild and hopefully reproduce successfully, securing a stronger future for the at-risk species. Via Treehugger Images via Harvey Barrison/Flickr and Wikipedia

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Bookshelf House fits hundreds of books into multifunctional furnishings

October 17, 2016 by  
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The Bookshelf House was created for a family of five who wanted a dramatic room-length bookshelf. To make the most of the small 160-square-meter interior, Mosca added large multifunctional bookshelves beautiful enough to serve as focal points. The bookcases were constructed from light beech wood and are slightly staggered for visual interest. The largest bookshelf is stepped and doubles as a stair bannister to the mezzanine , while other bookshelves are used as room dividers or morph into storage cabinets. “In this project we tried to create a main thread which draws the principles of internal space of this villa to modulate it,” writes the architect. “This was the key element which now guides the circulations and movements between the various volumes. This carpentered set which acts as a mark in the house allows us to remodel the high volume of the living room, it leads a fluid movement which develops along both levels.so a big bookcase takes shape in the main room to become a functional lifeline which sublimates the existing staircase and finally splits up in isolated elements which bound the office allowing an open intimacy.” Related: Slovenia built a habitable structure with latticed wooden bookshelves White walls, ample glazing , and high ceilings fills the interior with natural light and make the rooms feel airy and spacious. The books on the shelves and the carefully selected furnishings—the chairs with the yellow cushions and the vibrant dressers in the bedrooms—add bright pops of color to the minimally decorated interior. + Andrea Mosca Via Dezeen Images via Andrea Mosca

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Bookshelf House fits hundreds of books into multifunctional furnishings

The world’s tallest tropical "Minecraft" tree found in Malaysia

June 8, 2016 by  
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In Malaysia , scientists from the University of Cambridge discovered what they think could be the tallest recorded tropical tree . Found in the Sabah state’s “Lost World,” the Yellow Meranti tree is endangered, more commonly found in the computer game Minecraft than on Earth. At its tallest point, the tree is nearly 300 feet tall, just a little bit shorter than London’s Big Ben. In collaborTION with the Sabah Forestry Department, the scientists found the tree using a LiDAR scanner carried by an airplane. It’s one thing to track down a tall tree and another entirely to measure just how tall it is. Unding Jami, local expert tree climber, scaled the tree with a tape measure to pin down its height. At the top he texted the scientists to let them know he was unable to take photographs because “there’s an eagle around that keeps trying to attack me and also lots of bees flying around.” Related: China restores swaths of denuded forests with exemplary conservation program The new tree beat out another Malaysian Yellow Meranti for the record. Located on a slope, that tree is about 298 feet tall at its tallest point; higher on the slope it’s about 288 feet tall. It’s not the tallest tree in the world – that record still goes to a staggering 377-foot California redwood – but the scientists think it is ” probably ” the tallest tree in the tropics . According to scientist David Coomes, trees in temperate regions grow taller than tropical trees, but nobody knows why. Yellow Meranti trees are endangered mainly due to logging at the hands of the palm oil industry. The Sabah government recently said it would attempt to restore an area near the newly discovered tree. Coomes said , “Conserving these giants is really important. Some, like the California redwoods, are among the largest and longest-living organisms on earth. Huge trees are crucial for maintaining the health of the forest and its ecology.” Via New Scientist Images courtesy of Stephanie Law and the University of Cambridge

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The world’s tallest tropical "Minecraft" tree found in Malaysia

Ocupe Carrinho Transforms an Abandoned Car into a Yellow Submarine for World Car Free Day

October 2, 2013 by  
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Read the rest of Ocupe Carrinho Transforms an Abandoned Car into a Yellow Submarine for World Car Free Day Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Ana Rose neighborhood São Paulo , felipe carrelli , flooding São Paulo , ocupe carrinho , sao Paulo , São Paulo abandoned cars , São Paulo traffic congestion , stormwater management São Paulo , World Car-Free Day , yellow submarine        

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Ocupe Carrinho Transforms an Abandoned Car into a Yellow Submarine for World Car Free Day

Study Discovers Fracking Wastewater Irradiated and Polluted a Pennsylvania River

October 2, 2013 by  
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Photo: Adam Gregor / Shutterstock Fracking for shale gas doesn’t exactly have the best track record for safety or positive environmental impact . Well, go ahead add another unfortunate environmental catastrophe to the fracking record. Duke University researchers recently discovered elevated levels of radioactivity, salts and metals in the western Pennsylvanian Blacklick Creek that the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility uses to discharge treated wastewater from oil and gas operations. Read the rest of Study Discovers Fracking Wastewater Irradiated and Polluted a Pennsylvania River Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: Avner Vengosh , Blacklick Creek , Disposing of Radioactive Materials , Duke University , environmental destruction , Environmental Impact Studies , fracking , Josephine Brine Treatment Facility , News , pennsylvania , poison , radiation , radioactive , Radium , radon gas , renewable energy , research , science , shale gas , toxic        

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Study Discovers Fracking Wastewater Irradiated and Polluted a Pennsylvania River

China’s Largest Algae Bloom Covers the Coast of Qingdao in Thousands of Tons of Sea Lettuce

July 5, 2013 by  
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The coast of Qingdao, China is usually known for its beaches – but recently the nation's largest algae bloom blanketed the shores with thousands of tons of sea lettuce . A bloom the size of Connecticut has invaded the Yellow Sea surrounding the coastal town, suffocating its waters with layer upon layer of green algae . The sea lettuce may be harmless to humans, but it poses a danger to the marine ecosystem as it spreads and eventually begins to rot, emitting hydrogen sulphide into the water. Read the rest of China’s Largest Algae Bloom Covers the Coast of Qingdao in Thousands of Tons of Sea Lettuce Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: algae bloom China , algae Yellow Sea , eco design , green design , qingdao , Sea lettuce china , sustainable design        

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China’s Largest Algae Bloom Covers the Coast of Qingdao in Thousands of Tons of Sea Lettuce

US Forest Service Confirms That Climate Change is Killing Alaskan Trees

February 24, 2012 by  
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As confirmed by researchers from the U.S. Forest Service , climate change is killing off the mighty yellow cedar — a valuable tree native to the Alaskan Panhandle. On average, the yellow cedar can live more than 1,000 years, resisting bugs, rot and protecting itself from injury. However, mighty as they may be, it is their shallow roots make them vulnerable to freezing when the soil atop the roots is not insulated by snow. With over half of a century of decreased snowfall, nearly half a-million acres in southeast Alaska, plus another 123,000 acres in British Columbia of yellow cedar are now dead. Luckily for the yellow cedar, specialist are now searching for a location where the their shallow roots can thrive — but this situation also speaks to a larger issue. As it’s clear that the devastation of the yellow cedar is one of the negative side effects of climate change, it’s also indicative of how  climate change will alter how we manage forests. Read the rest of US Forest Service Confirms That Climate Change is Killing Alaskan Trees Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: affects of climate change , bioscience journal , cause of yellow cedar death , climate change deforestation , forest management alaska , forrest management , Paul Schaberg Bioscience , trees die alaska , yellow cedar death

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US Forest Service Confirms That Climate Change is Killing Alaskan Trees

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