Back to basics. Waste-free shopping.

Imagine yourself entering to a supermarket where no endless, distracting bright colourful and packed shelves are found. Instead, imagine a relaxed, neutral space with a pleasant atmosphere that allows you to enjoy the shopping experience. Have you succeeded? If it’s difficult, pictures of Original unverpackt grocery store can help you. It opened in Berlin one year ago and it’s Germany’s first waste-free supermarket.

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Original-Unverpackt

“It’s about learning to buy in a different way, ending with full endless shelves of products that promise salvation, shopping without waste. We are in search of slow food and zero waste, contrary to those other buzzwords on ecological awareness some brands use to mislead” said Milena Glimbovski and Sara Wolf, the project’s founders.

We have to know that tonnes of waste packaging come from the food and household industry. Although recycling and more efficient ways to address packaging waste are in the order of the day, the great amount of waste going to landfills is unsustainable. It is not just the packaging that requires attention but also our lifestyles and habits of consumption.

Therefore, the shopping Capture 2concept which is practiced in Original unverpackt is great, the customer only buy what they really need and there’s no need to worry about expiration dates. It works like this: The food is stored in bulk containers and customers serve themselves as they wish in their own containers that they have brought from home. If you don’t have or have forgotten them, there’s no problem. The shop can provide you reusable containers or any recycled paper bag (no plastic bags, of course!). After the shopping, you get to the till and the weight of the containers is subtracted, you only pay for the net weight of your groceries.

It is not a new idea of course, is more the concept of going back to the basics. Or how our grandfathers, great grandfathers usually bought. Or how some developing countries actually do it. Moreover, this practice allows making organic food cheaper for everyone as the packaging is being removed. People on lower income can start affording it and more social equality can be achieved, as well.

We know that nowadays more people are aware about the importance of sustainability, equality and green living. There’s a rising demand for products and services that deal with it and people demand alternatives to the expensive handling of our resources. We have to start thinking more about it and try to learn for good. We continue to exploit resources and extend our development into the Earth’s limited fields. A sustainable path is the answer to live in a better world and to secure a place to our future generations.

Again, come on, it’s hip to be green!

Back to basics. Waste-free shopping.

The Light Bulb Conspirancy: Planned Obsolescence.

“The light bulb conspiracy” is one of those documentaries which not leave you indifferent; it hits a nerve and develops a critical spirit on you.

ligh bulb conspirancy

It discusses the issue of planned obsolescence, that is to say the scheduled reduction of the useful life of some products to increase their consumption. The documentary begins with the example of a printer and discovering the real reason why it has stopped working. Then, it starts by explaining the origins of this plan, which lies in the creation of a cartel (Phoebus). This cartel consisted in changing the light bulbs’ manufacturing patents with the aim to last only 1000 hours. And up to cases such as cars, nylons and latest products-generation such as iPods (with a battery of only 18 months for the purpose you have to buy a new appliance when finished). It was between the decades of 1920-1930 that the following idea emerged: An item which did not break down was a tragedy for businesses and for their employers. So since then, the fact that there is the need to create fragile products or with a limited lifetime has been promoted. Therefore, sales and profitability remain constant, thus the global economy can keep going. The businesses defend themselves saying that the consumers are free to buy whatever they want. Let us not fool ourselves; nowadays advertising and fashion have a lot of influence in our consumer society.

technology

The film fulfils its goal, to make you think about consumerism in a society of constant growth. Where there is this cycle of constant acceleration of production, consumption and waste. It makes you consider the fact that if we carry on with this model a day when we run out of resources will come. So, additionally, we should take into account that “there is an infinite progress head in a finite planet.” One important consequence to keep in mind is that with greater consumption comes higher waste. The documentary wisely shows us that a large amount of waste end up in Ghana, Africa. They enter the products with the label of second-hand ones. There, they try to repair and use the again, but mostly they end up in landfills increasingly full.

Finally, the film gives a few examples and an interesting proposal: That is essential to create more laws to ensure that companies eliminate their products in an environmentally friendly way. I totally agree with it and we should start finding ways and alternatives to reconsider this existing planned obsolescence and rethinking the values of our present society and economy.
I believe it is a complicated issue, but today there are already moves up against this planned obsolescence. Should we need to start asking ourselves these challenges and promote them? Of course, yes. We need to try changing and overcoming the barrier that one day Gandhi said:ghandi

The Light Bulb Conspirancy: Planned Obsolescence.

Towards Sustainable Cities. Strenghtening social bonds in Barcelona.

“It is not logical that in a Mediterranean city the majority of roofs are closed and do not have any kind of use”. This was remarked a few months ago by Barcelona’s city Mayor, Xavier Trias. I have to say that I totally agree with it.

If you have a look to an aerial photography of Barcelona, apart from acknowledging the imposing Sagrada Família and the perfect grid of the Eixample neighbourhood, you will probably see the lifeless, colourless roofs of the buildings. Roofs full of grey air conditioning systems and abandoned ropes for spreading clothes.

barcelona aerial This is a pity. A vibrant and warm city like Barcelona could do it much better. Who does not like to spend summer nights in a green roof with a gentle breeze and the lights of the city at your feet? Or winter middays under the sun that warms us up a bit? These communities’ rooftops could provide a neutral space within which people and neighbours come together and social interactions could occur. A sense of connectedness could arise and foster trust and cooperation among these individuals. Besides, these social dynamics help promote community wellness and social cohesion, provide individual benefits, improved public health, and social resilience. All of these are critical components of a sustainable and well-functioning society. I believe it is very important nowadays when more of half of world’s population are living in urban areas. Therefore, Barcelona is starting to launch an aid plan for the roofs of the city to have environmental, energy-efficiency and community gathering uses. This measure will be based on economic aids and incentives to communities of neighbours who decide to transform their roof. The Deputy Mayor for Urban Habitat, Antoni Vives, said that “if we recover all the roofs we could gain a surface area of 1,700 hectares, equivalent to two districts of the Eixample.” Actually, the present building standard commands that all the new municipal buildings including offices or social protected apartment blocks, must have community’ roofs. It is being done, for example, in the new Barcelona municipal library in the neighbourhood of Vallbona, which will have a green rooftop. A green roof is now widely recognised, for example, as a means of improving air quality and for providing greater thermal performance and roof insulation for the buildings they are laid on.social rooftop So, it is a very good idea to promote this kind of roof and also made it accessible to neighbours to promote the benefits of these community’s social strengths. This Barcelona plan is very interesting and it should be done in more urban areas. A more sustainable and resilient city is always a good idea. Come on, it’s hip to be green!

Towards Sustainable Cities. Strenghtening social bonds in Barcelona.

Keep in touch, Twitter. About the new Apple green headquarters.

Navigating through Twitter I came across with a tweet by @iambiente that said “Nuevo campus de #Apple será el edificio más verde del mundo” ( The new Apple campus will be the greenest building in the world). So, knowing that I’m pretty hooked on this topic and Apple is a well-known brand I started to explore.climate week nyc

I’m sure that everyone interested in all the environment and climate change issues knows that today the Climate Week 2014 in NYC concludes. During this event, activites, conferences and workshops had taken place across NY city in support of the UN Climate Summit. Tim Cook, actual Apple’s CEO, participated in one of the events and announced that, as we all know, Apple is working on reducing its carbon footprint.apple carbonfootprintNot only in the installations but in its manufacturing and chain supply, and adopting more ecofriendly measures such as not using dangerous chemical substances in its products. However, the new Apple campus in Cupertino, CA, was the bigger disclosure. He didn’t give a lot of details so I tried to investigate by myself. Actually, the Apple website has a very good section about its Environmental Responsability and a good video about the new center so, I haven’t had a lot of work.

The new building is being designed by Norman Foster+Partners (as you know if you’ve been reading  the blog, this man and his team has me fascinated) and the goal is to built an innovative center that “has no net increase in greenhouse gas emissions”. The building will be ring-shaped and Sir Foster spilled one of his characteristic speeches: “It didn’t start as a circular building it really grow into that”. Seriously, I appreciate him, but man, architects can be a bit a pompous sometimes (wink).

Apple_Campus_2_renderingThe new campus is being built to meet the highest standards set by LEED. It will be powered by 100% of renewable energy sources, concretly solar power, and there will be no need to use air-conditioning for 75% of the year because of natural ventilation. Furthermore, 80% of the site will be open space and drought-tolerant plants and other resilient species will be used. In addition, they are planning the transportation to and from the campus to be greener too. I always welcome these kind of initiatives, commutate alternatives. Recycling programs also seems in good place in this company. They claim that their recycling programs collect a rate of 70% worldwide, when most of the companies only achieve a 20%.

Nevertheless, Apple has to start thinking more about ‘reuse’. The i·ambiente portal reminds us that, for instance, Apple buys gold to business without RSC. We all know that they can obtain it from recycling smartphones and other products. It’s a very good plan to built a greener building of course, but in a company like that they should also focus in that kind of issues and their carbon footprint. Specially, in the aluminium account. They already know it and we can congratulate them on trying to improve its life cycle and I’m wishing them good luck in their findings for new methodologies.

It’s hip to be green!

Keep in touch, Twitter. About the new Apple green headquarters.

Architecture Instagramers

“Architects are spending one out of every six minutes online using social media” according to sources like PRweb.com

Well, actually a lot of people nowadays is spending more and more minutes every day instarch1to social media, so why architects shouldn’t? Their public and young staff is all using social media and they know that it is a real opportunity to promote their business growth, self-brand and community engagement. Besides, architects are usually artistic and creative people who like to show the world their concerns and creations. Therefore, in this actual world where the use of Instagram is rapidly increasing and having more and more followers, architects are finding their own place and keeping pace with celebrities and starlets.

Recently, in the Architizer blog and interesting post about architecture instagramers appeared. It quotes Alexandra Langer, an architecture critic, who wrote an article for Dezeen magazine about social media practice of famous architects. She said about one famous architect: “His Instagram has a lot to do with the architecture of self-promotion, but little to do with actual building,” and “The same goes for many architects’.

insta likesIs that true? Yes, apparently. As I have said before, architects (and come on, many people) like to be self-appreciated and like to promote their designs and pictures. One of the Instagram’s goals is that, to share your pics and receive the best possible amount of likes. And you know you like it! I think it is good to stimulate yourself a bit.instarch2

On the other side, I also believe it is very important not only to promote your own work but to show engagement with general architecture followed by culture, public art and community space. I believe people interested in architecture and design would appreciate an account where it is possible to find a mixture. It is very practical and (really!) comforting. It’s like having a little architecture visual library in your hand. The photos of actual and historic buildings are lovely with a pinch of filters.

The Architizer blog I was talking about so had made a research and had found these “media-savvy creatures” in Instagram. They’re not the more famous in the world but rather young and anonymous who like the freedom to share their passions. Well done!

Here you can find my favorites among this Architizer list :  @mauriciotufino @the_architext @vitovillabilbao @lifesansbldgs

Architecture Instagramers

Learning about public transport with Harry Potter’s world

A few months ago I came across with this post: What Harry Potter Teaches Us About Integrated Transport.

It caught my attention because I am a fan of the Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling and I’m very interested in public transport and sustainable mobility initiatives. At that moment, I asked myself how these two issues could be linked and I was eager to read it.

harry potter transportThe article starts exposing to the reader the fastest way of magical of transportation that it is called apparition. It is basically having the user focus on a desired location in their mind, then disappear from their current location and instantly reappear at the desired location (like teleportation). So, then as the writer says very well: “Once you learn about this method of travel, every other transport mode seems superfluous. Why have a Platform 9 ¾ when you don’t need to wait for a train? Why fly broomsticks when using the Floo network (silver powder that allows people to travel between different fireplaces) is orders of magnitude faster? These questions are much like one that urban planners and city leaders get every day in the Muggle world: why build public transport when there are individual cars?”.

We clearly see that the wizards or muggles/people like us cannot solve the mobility with just one method of transport. As a result, there is the need to find a network of several methods of transport that promotes sustainability “that supports connectivity – think access to jobs, education, and leisure — for a diverse range of user needs, whether these users are witches, elves, or simply city residents”.

The rest of the article compares the magic transport with our modes. He talks about the comfort, safety and sense of community that these provide. I’ve to recognize that it is very interesting to see a broomstick like a bicycle, apparition like a motorcycle…green transpIt makes you think about the technology progresses and how we can promote sustainable mobility and safety. The article is worth a look and muggles will enjoy with the comparisons!

 

 

Learning about public transport with Harry Potter’s world

Another itsocialnetworld app: del.icio.us

Well, finally I’ve joined del.icio.us ! After all this time talking and reading about it (the second order of order!), I thought I’d give it a chance. I like to be organized and I hate when I don’t remember when I’d read something it caught my attention.

Before joining del.icio.us I must confess (embarrassed face here…) I just had a docdel_icio_us-logo saved in my laptop where I simply copied and pasted the links hoping I’d come back later to read it. It was kind of messy; sometimes it wasn’t helpful at all. So, this bookmarking tool it’s a bonus for me! It helps me to organize the links better with the design; the title and specially the tags which are a splendid way to find the things I want. It’s really simple and useful.

Besides, as you can see in the right-sidebar here in my blog, I’d added the del.icio.us widget. It’s a constant reminder that I have to sign in and read the bookmarks.

I really don’t know if other social bookmarking tools are better or not. At the moment, I’m happy with the simplicity of del.icio.us (but maybe adding photos or other colorful characteristics will be a plus) but I’d like (and need) to investigate more about social bookmarking.heat it social media

If I’ll find one I like too, I’ll let you know through here. But for now, here is another itsocialnetworld app to add to my list!

Another itsocialnetworld app: del.icio.us