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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

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something fishy – upcycled sterling silver rococo spoon ring


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This handmade ring was created from a souvenir spoon from Long Beach California. The ring is a solid banded size 8 and is marked with the date the spoon was first purchased at the beach — 1905. This ring weighs 5 grams of solid sterling silver.

The one-of-a-kind ring was created by Dan Kemp and is listed for $84 @ his dark artistry Etsy shop

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Straw Bale Homes: Why They Rock


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Chances are high that you have recently read our cool post about Edge Architect’s straw bale home (photo above). So, I would like to take this moment to highlight some of the really cool benefits of living in a house made of straw bale.

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  • Straw bale is a renewable resource. Unfortunately, 200 million tons of this material gets burned every year as ‘waste straw,’ emitting an egregious amount of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. Amazingly enough, this stuff can be used as both insulation and building material! And I don’t mean mediocre insulation. I’m talking about REALLY GOOD insulation.
  • A straw bale home has the potential to lower your heating/cooling bill by 75%.

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  • Studies conducted by Canada’s National Research Council and SHB Agra, Inc. have concluded that straw bale buildings are more fire resistant than many conventional buildings. Hard to believe at first, I realize, but the tightly compacted bales allow very little oxygen to get in—thus minimizing chances of combustion.

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  • Straw bale houses work best in dry climates and aren’t recommended for humid areas. If you’re living in a humid climate and you just absolutely feel compelled to build a home of straw bale, then it is suggested that you get a humidifier as a way to prevent the moisture from seeping into the straw.
  • Bale homes are really nothing new. They’ve been around in the United States and Europe since the 1800s. Of course, the bales need to be covered in some sort of plaster to properly work. Interestingly, Ecofilm points out that “clay has been used in combination with straw for thousands of years”—as a building material.
  • The construction is relatively easy, making for a great opportunity of community building since unskilled workers are are all that’s required. For fun, check out this YouTube video of a group raising one side of a straw bale wall in time lapse mode.

There are many cool benefits to living in place constructed of straw bale. Before you or your friends get started, though, make sure your insurance company will will cover you. And for the curious, take a look at Andrew Morrison’s website to find out more.

additional photo credits: strawbale.com

related: more green building projects featured on The Alternative Consumer

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a mixed bag of green news


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Photo By U.S. Navy, Dylan McCord

related: more eco news on The Alternative Consumer

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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

found fashion – recycled mason jar earrings


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Laura Bergman makes lovely jewelry and accessories from antique glass and reclaimed bottles she recovers from the woods and rural farmlands of Pennsylvania’s Amish Country. These antique brass filigree teardrop earrings (pictured above) hold the glowing remains of ice blue glass from locally recovered broken Mason Jars.

$24 @ the bottled up designs Etsy shop

related: more eco fashion finds on The Alternative Consumer

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Electric Vehicles and Pollution – are the two more synonymous than you might think?


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With gasoline prices currently on the rise, the popularity of electric transportation will continue to rise as well. While electric vehicles do alleviate problems both at the pump and with the environment, there’s more to consider when looking at the entire cycle of pollution than just the emissions from a vehicle’s tailpipe; China is the focus of a recent study that sheds some light on this issue.

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A National Science Foundation funded study from the University of Tennessee shows that electric vehicles in China are charged by electrical grid sources mixed with about 90% coal, which according to Assistant Professor Chris Cherry, makes electric vehicles “more harmful to public health per kilometer traveled in China than conventional vehicles.” (more…)

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Monday, February 27, 2012

straw bale off-grid home – edge architects


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This striking high desert home, designed by Taos, NM’s Edge Architects, is uniquely suited for the widely fluctuating climate conditions of its wild desert  location. The home is designed to be completely off-grid and self-sufficient. For cooling and heating purposes, the home’s north, east and west walls consist of 24 inch thick adobe wrapped in straw bales.

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Photovoltaic panels provide all electricity for lights, computers, television, water pumps, washing machine, etc. The home’s solar panel array is situated for maximum solar exposure while maintaining its proximity to the utility room, where a bank of batteries stores the electricity, and an inverter converts the 24 volt DC electricity to conventional 110-volt AC power.

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All the residence’s roofs slope to a single location so that rain water can be captured and stored in two 1,700 gallon cisterns buried on the north side of the house. The only reliance on an outside source of power is a propane tank, which provides fuel for the range and hot water heater. (more…)

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February is for the birds – upcycled bird feeders


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Did you know that February is National Bird-Feeding Month? The event was created to encourage wild bird feeding and bird watching, and is sponsored by the National Bird-Feeding Society. For those who enjoy hanging out with our fine feathered friends year-round, Hipcycle features a variety of cool birdhouses and bird feeders made from upcycled materials.

Above are a couple of personal faves:

  • bird feeder made from recycled wine bottle & wiring $30
  • birdhouse made from reclaimed cedar $24

Feel free to Tweet!

related: more bird feeder reviews on The Alternative Consumer

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ecomonday – green news roundup


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