New research by Luke Dunning of the University of Sheffield shows that some of our most widely grown crops supplement their genetic information with stolen genetic secrets. Apart from grasses, bacteria are also masters in this regard and this leads, among other thing, to antibiotic resistance. New evidence however documents evidence in a broad range of animals and plants, including aphids, whiteflies and psychoactive mushrooms! 

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Across Sweden, parking spaces are being replaced by pre-built wooden tables, benches and plants, part of a government plan to improve urban environment. Consultations with local communities determine the use and configuration of each unit. Trial installations are taking place in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Helsingborg, and Malmö.

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Transparent Solar CellsTransparent Solar CellsAn international team led by Professor Joondong Kim of Incheon National University, Korea has developed the first transparent solar cell. The scientists hope that this next generation solar cells can be integrated as windows into all types of buildings, appliances with glass screens such as laptops, TVs and smart phones and even vehicles and crafts of all types. The transparent quality is thanks to a combination of titanium dioxide and nickel oxide semiconductors.

The study can be found in the Journal of Power Sources:

“Transparent photovoltaic cells and self-powered photodetectors by TiO2/NiO heterojunction” by Thanh Tai Nguyen, Malkeshkumar Patel, Sangho Kim, Rameez Ahmad Mir, Junsin Yi, Vinh-Ai Dao and Joondong Kim, 12 September 2020, Journal of Power Sources.

DIY Natural Spray for Clothes & FabricsDIY Natural Spray for Clothes & FabricsWhy spend good money to buy chemicals if you can easily DIY a product that can freshen up your clothes, your bed or couch?

There are thousands of relevant recipes online. One we tried and tested is the following:

Ingredients:

  • 350 ml of distilled water.
  • 85 ml of vodka or 35 ml of pure alcohol.
  • 30 drops of essential oil of your choice. (e.g. lemon, orange, eucalyptus, lavender). It is quite easy to prepare the essential oil from the raw materials, otherwise you may purchase from a chemist.

Directions:

1. Mix the distilled water and the vodka

2. Add the essential oil.

3. Fill up a dispenser with the mix.

Ready!

 

Wind Tree outside Roland Garros StadiumWind Tree outside Roland Garros StadiumImagine a world where we all produce our own green energy in our homes and offices and share it with each other in a world wide energy web. This was the vision of Jerôme Michaud-Larivière who invented the Wind Tree, an innovative, esthetically pleasing, and bird-friendly wind turbine. Each Wind Tree helps save the equivalent of 864 kg of Coal every year!

The original model of the Wind Tree is composed of 3 steel trunks that stem into tinier branches on which the 36 leaf-shaped wind turbines are attached. It can exploit all types of wind, from gentle breezes to powerful gusts of wind in both urban and rural environments. The Wind Tree can be installed close to buildings, which is a plus in urban spaces. A further innovation was the "aeroleaf hybrid", which added a high performing photovoltaic petal to the bottom of each leaf.

There are actually three types of Wind Trees - the original Wind Tree, the highly customisable Modular Tree, and the smaller and cheaper Wind Bush which starts from Euros 19,500. They can be customised by leaf colours, trunk colours, led lights, charging ports, air-purifying leaves, and usb benches.

Commercially launched in 2018, the innovative Wind Tree has already won several awards, however it is not yet a common sight in cities. One possible explanation may be the price and the lack of a full installation service.

For more details, visit https://newworldwind.com/en/ 

The products are harvested at 8 am on the 360-square-metre roof and at 9 am they are in the store. The roof also generates its energy sustainably with solar panels and by recuperating heat from the store building. The farm in this Brussels store will serve as a test to expand the program to more Delhaize units.

New York, 09 July 2018 – UN Environment and Yale University in collaboration with UN Habitat today unveiled a new eco-housing module, to spark public discussion and new ideas on how sustainable design can provide decent, affordable housing while limiting the overuse of natural resources and climate change. The 22-square-meter “tiny house” is fully powered by renewable energy and designed to test the potential for minimizing the use of natural resources such as water.

In a recent Nature Sustainability paper, a team of scientists concluded that the Earth can sustain, at most, only 7 billion people at subsistence levels of consumption (and this June saw us at 7.6 billion). Achieving ‘high life satisfaction’ for everyone, however, would transgress the Earth’s biophysical boundaries, leading to ecological collapse.

Despite its seeming scientific precision, the claim is old, not new – the latest iteration of the longstanding assertion that our population and consumption might soon exceed the Earth’s fixed ‘carrying capacity’. The concept, tellingly, owes its origin to 19th-century shipping, referring to the payload capacities of steamships. It jumped from the inanimate to the terrestrial at the end of the 19th century, describing the maximum number of livestock or wild game that grassland and rangeland ecosystems could sustain.

How can we dispose of our rubbish, i.e. what cannot be composted, repurposed/upcycled or recycled without using a plastic bag, this modern menace?

In Greece, as in many other parts of the world, people used to re-use plastic grocery bags handed-out free for throwing their garbage, but a new law has applied a tax on plastic shopping bags, so as they are charged people are avoiding them (about 80% reduction in 2 months!). But this also means that consumers now have to buy other plastic bags, from the same grocery store, for their rubbish. Its win-win for the grocery store but not for the environment or our pockets.

In non-vegan households that do not have dogs, these famous omnivores, there are food leftovers that cannot be composted. Perhaps your neighbours are complaining of real or fictitious foul smells or insects emanating from your compost bin. Perhaps your municipality does not have special bins for greasy, meat and dairy-based food leftovers. (Ours has fortunately installed three different points within walking distance, but very few people are using them - old habits die hard). In more environmentally-aware places with city-wide composting, like San Francisco, throwing your food waste in the designated compost bin is mandatory; hopefully this will become the norm globally in this century or the next(see, we are realists).

Ecology, like charity, starts at home. Poor waste management is an acute problem in many parts of the world, while it is possible, with some effort to approach zero waste, through reduce-reuse-upcycle-recycle. In this new, Green Living, section we plan to examine how easy it is to green our everyday routine, and we start with Compost or "black gold", an ancient agricultural practice which can be relatively easily performed even in a balcony or apartment, and save the climate from some more methane, a greenhouse gas that is produced when your biodegradable waste breaks down anaerobically (i.e. without oxygen) in a landfill.