Bamboo: The Wonder Grass (Infographic)

What is the first picture that pops into your head if someone mentions bamboo? Chances are it was something resembling a tropical oasis, a green field full of pandas snacking, or lucky plants found on your desk. But did you know that beautiful plant you are thinking of is actually one of the most sustainable and environmentally friendly plants on earth? With bamboo quickly becoming the new trend in green living, you may find yourself curious but unsure why many are calling this plant a miracle worker for a greener planet, a better home, and even a healthier life.

Bamboo, which is actually a type of grass, has a wide array of benefits that can be used to make everything from building materials to high quality bamboo clothing. so it is no surprise that it is quickly becoming the most popular material in the green retail market. Not only it is one of the most sustainable and renewable materials on the planet but it is also one of the most versatile materials in the world. It is stronger than even steel, is naturally moisture resistant and anti-fungal and creates a naturally beautiful aesthetic when used for anything from clothing to building materials and even home office accessories.

It is the ultimate trifecta: eco-friendly, beautiful and superior quality. So it is no surprise that bamboo is known as a miracle. But despite its growing popularity, there are hundreds of things you may not know about “The Wonder Grass.”

Bamboo Facts, Information, Infographic

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Top 20 Eco Friendly Flooring Options

Some people believe that eco-friendly materials are boring and bland. While this might have been the case years ago, most of these materials are used in modern designs that look amazing. It doesn’t matter which room you are decorating. The right material will make everything look just right. Here are 20 of the best eco-friendly materials that you can choose from that will help both the room and the planet.

Cork

Everyone associates cork with wine bottles, but it has recently become a very popular flooring material. This material is good for the environment because it is harvested from the bark of cork oak trees. The trees do not have to be cut down, and the bark will grow back in about three years.

Aside from looking great, cork also has some interesting properties. Not only does it fight microbes, but it’s also fire retardant. Cork is known for reducing home allergens and it can function as a good insect repellant. Since it comes from a tree, cork can be treated and finished with different paints and stains. A good cork floor should last about 10 to 30 years if it is properly maintained.

Bamboo

This is another wood-like material that has become popular over the years. While it might feel like wood, bamboo is really a type of very tall grass. It is both durable and easy to maintain. Unlike trees that can take about 20 years to reach maturity, bamboo will fully mature in about three to five years.

Bamboo is nearly weightless, and it comes in a variety of natural hues that will work in nearly any room. One advantage it has over wood is that bamboo has a special granular pattern that allows you to make interesting customizations. Browse the bamboo flooring selection at Bambooki!

Linoleum

You’re probably surprised by this one. Most people think that linoleum is made from vinyl, which isn’t sustainable or safe. Real linoleum is made from a combination of cork dust, linseed oil, natural resins, limestone and wood flour. It has many of cork’s properties, like being resistant to fire and water.

As a composite material, linoleum is easy to maintain and customize. It comes in a variety of colors, and it’s surprisingly affordable.

Glass Tiles

Most people send glass bottles to get recycled, but do you know what the glass is being used for? A good percentage of recycled glass is used to create glass tiles. This is a renewable resource because glass is easy to recycle with the proper equipment.

Glass is great for places where spills are inevitable, like a kitchen or bathroom. It doesn’t grow mold or mildew in damp environments. Glass won’t stain, and it’s easy to maintain. One of the best things is that glass comes in a huge assortment of colors and patterns.

Another benefit is that glass is able to reflect light, which will make the room look much brighter.

Concrete

Concrete is an unlikely material for floors because it’s most commonly known for being used outdoors. Many homes have a sub-floor that is made from concrete, but this material makes an excellent floor if it’s treated properly.

If you want a concrete floor, then it must be tinted and polished. Not only does this make it look great, but it reduces the chance of someone falling and injuring himself or herself. One interesting benefits is that other materials, like glass, can be inlayed to create a unique appearance.

This is definitely one of the most durable flooring materials. Unlike most other eco-friendly options, concrete never has to be replaced.

Wool Carpet

Carpeting is common in most homes, but the average carpet is made from toxic and volatile materials that aren’t friendly to the environment. Wool carpeting gives you the best of both worlds. This natural resource is easy to obtain from willing sheep that want to be sheered.

Wool is fairly easy to dye, which allows you to get flooring in nearly any color. Wool carpets can last for hundreds of years if they are properly maintained. Another benefit is that they are soft and comfortable to walk on.

Polyester Berber Carpet

This is another carpeting material, but it’s not made from natural ingredients. This flooring is instead made from recycled plastic bottles, which significantly reduces this material’s impact on the environment. Instead of having the bottles in a landfill for thousands of years, they can be used to make carpets.

While polyester carpets are a little rough to walk on and the material can unravel quickly if not properly maintained, there are many benefits if you choose this material. It is inexpensive, easy to dye and resistant to spills.

Rubber

A rubber floor might seem weird, but it’s more common than you might think. Rubber is commonly used in gyms and local playgrounds, but it’s quickly becoming a home flooring material for kitchens and bathrooms. The rubber usually comes from recycled tires, and it’s turned into small tiles that are easy to install.

Many colors can be added to rubber, but most flooring options have a wooden color and finish. This material is durable and resistant to spills and fires. It also feels very comfortable when you walk on it. The only potential downside is that it has a little give, which some people may not like.

Leather

If you are against using animals, then you won’t want a leather floor. Most of the leather used for floors comes from recycled sources. Any new leather comes from the center part of the cow, which provides thicker leather that is durable enough for floors.

Leather is durable, but it wears well when it gets old. Unlike most other materials that look terrible when they are scratched and worn, aged leather gives personality to a room.

This material is perfect for bedrooms and rooms with infrequent walking, but it’s terrible for bathrooms and other rooms with frequent moisture because it is prone to growing mold.

Hardwood

Deforestation is a major problem, but it won’t keep you from getting hardwood floors. There are still many eco-friendly options available to you if you know where to look. The two main options are reclaimed and salvaged wood.

Reclaimed wood comes from trees that were cut down decades ago. Salvaged wood comes from existing flooring in older houses. The only major difference between these two is that different designs will be available based on where the wood comes from. Salvaged wood is a little harder to customize, but you might be able to get a vintage or antique design.

FSC-certified wood is new hardwood, but the wood is sustainably harvested so that you don’t have to worry about the impact on the environment.

Sisal

This is a fairly new material that is quickly becoming popular. It is made from agave leaves that have been crushed, soaked and then spun into yarn to create a rustic flooring option. This is a versatile material that can be used in nearly any room, but you might want to keep it out of bathrooms and kitchens. It won’t grow mold, but the moisture might cause the fibers to expand and contract.

Sisal comes in a variety of colors, and many homeowners appreciate its unique design.

Sisool

If you want a tighter knit of sisal, then you might want to try sisool. This is a composite material made from sisal and wool. Since it uses wool, sisool is very flexible and soft, but the sisal ensures that the flooring is durable and resistant to scratches.

Many people consider sisool more comfortable and versatile than sisal, but it doesn’t look quite as unique. If comfort is your main concern, then sisool is better. If you want something that has a unique look, then stick with sisal.

Paper

Paper floors are very easy to make, but many homeowners avoid it because they think that the material is weak. This isn’t like printing paper or notebook paper. It’s a thicker material that closely resembles wood pulp in terms of strength and durability. Not only that, but most paper floors have various resins added into them to make them stronger.

Paper is easy to dye, and some types can even be used in the bathroom. Even if the material is resistant to water, it’s still a good idea to avoid standing water.

Seagrass

There are many different types of seagrass, which leads to a number of colors, textures and weaves. This material is usually harvested from paddy fields after they were flooded with seawater. The harvested material is then dried and spun into yarn.

Seagrass only comes in natural colors since it is hard to dye, but there are many natural colors due to the variety of grasses used. It is naturally a waxy material, which makes it resistant to stains and water damage. You can usually use this in bathrooms and moist areas, but ask a representative before doing this just to be on the safe side.

Coir

If you want a material that is durable and rustic looking, then coir is perfect. This comes from the hair on coconuts, which is dried and woven to make a type of carpet. Most coir floors are a light brown color, and the material does not work very well with dyes.

Coir shouldn’t be used in moist areas, but it’s great for rooms that have a lot of traffic. If you perform some light maintenance, then you can expect coir to last at least 30 to 50 years.

Jute

This material is similar to hemp, but it comes from jute plants that are dried and then turned into yarn. While it doesn’t look like it, jute is very soft and comfortable. This makes jute ideal for floors where comfort is essential. The softness of the yarn allows weavers to easily create a variety of designs.

Jute is often best for bedrooms due to its softness and durability. It shouldn’t be used in bathrooms, and you might want to avoid hallways since the high amount of traffic might wear the material sooner than expected.

Ceramic

Ceramic is made from clay, and it can be surprisingly modern and chic. For example, some manufacturers have found a way to give ceramic a wooden texture that looks amazing while being as eco-friendly as possible. Most ceramic floors are made from 80 percent or more recycled materials, which is even better for the environment.

It’s easy to dye ceramic, so a wide number of colors are available. Maintenance is also easy because very little work is involved.

Terrazzo

Terrazzo is one of the most durable materials on this list because it’s made with a combination of concrete, marble and granite. Be careful when buying this material because it may or may not really be sustainable. Ensure that low-VOC sealers are used and that the main materials are from recycled sources.

This material can be used in any room because it resists water, stains, fires and it’s incredibly durable. The only downside is that it can feel uncomfortable after some time because it’s so tough.

Renewable Carpets

Some carpets are made from renewable fibers that are easy to work with. For example, some renewable carpets are made from corn fibers. Much like conventional and wool carpets, these carpets are soft and easy to dye. They also resist stains and are easy to maintain because you can clean them with water.

If you do want a renewable carpet, then ensure that it is LEED certified because carpets without this certification might not be that environmentally friendly.

Local Hardwood

Local hardwood floors come from nearby trees. This isn’t quite as eco-friendly as recycled or reclaimed wood, but it does have some unique benefits. Since the trees are local, very little transportation is needed. Not only that, but local companies typically cut down fewer trees due to decreased demand.

Conclusion

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to help the environment, but most people are worried about choosing an eco-friendly flooring material because they want floors that are durable and aesthetically pleasing. The good news is that these 20 materials are perfect for any home because they are durable, affordable and have unique designs that you are sure to love.

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At Home Among the Trees – Bali Mansion Created From Bamboo

Bamboo Bali House

Although bamboo has been very well established as a primary raw building material in eastern countries of the world for thousands of years, it has recently made its presence known in modern countries throughout the world in a major, new way. We see this emergence occurring as the push towards more sustainable architecture becomes more apparent and people begin to look for building materials that are more affordable yet equal in strength to the conventional materials saturating the construction market today. The move towards constructing buildings primarily out of bamboo has become so prevalent that a recent New York Times article has even coined the term “twigitecture” when referring to this highly unique approach to building. Bamboo itself is extremely strong and easy to process, making it a primary choice in construction when it comes to building everything from mansions to bridges. There have also been numerous installations across the world made using bamboo that straddle the fence between functional architecture and installation art. Affectionately referred to as “human nests” in many circles, the use of bamboo in architectural projects both large and small only seems to be on the rise.

One such stunning example of bamboo architecture at its height of opulence exists in Bali. This grand mansion constructed using essentially bamboo alone comes to the world thanks to the ideas of architect Elora Hardy. Originally raised in the area as a child, Hardy has returned home to put her architectural knowledge that she acquired in a university setting in the United States into action. Interested in both pushing the limitations of design and style while also keeping an ecological message at the forefront of her work, Hardy spent 18 months creating the design and then constructing it completely by hand. The scale and attention to detail that went into the project earned it nearly instant acclaim. The structure reaches into the sky and blends seamlessly into the surroundings trees, reaching nearly six stories into the canopy.

Hardy does have formal architectural training, but the skills that she has relevant to working with bamboo were actually passed down to her by her father, a jewelry designer by trade. However, he also has played a considerable role in popularizing the use of bamboo in contemporary architecture beginning in early 2000. The project itself was unique in many ways outside of the mere use of bamboo. Rather than beginning with blueprints, Hardy and her team constructed scale models which they used as a guide to implement that structure on a grander scale. Each measurement was taken by hand and changed in proportion to the final project as it went up piece by piece.

Both the interior and the exterior of the mansion feature exquisite sweeping lines and curvilinear forms that create pocketed rooms and nooks for a variety of purposes. Each space is woven into the next as you make your way through the home, creating a completely natural and comforting environment. The structure features all the conventional rooms one would associate with any traditional home but also includes luxurious areas such as a spa, a library, and various observation decks that open up the space to the beautiful environment surrounding it. The entire structure rests on 12 individual, 60-foot bamboo poles. Despite this element of design, the building remains flexible and airy, an important feature given the region’s consistent exposure to tectonic activity.

Many installations of this kind tend to have a boxy, piecemeal aesthetic to them overall. However, this Bali mansion is anything but your conventional tree house. Its careful planning and artistic sensibilities make it stand out from all other architectural structures of its kind that have preceded it. All of the bamboo that went into the construction of the home was also rigorously inspected and treated beforehand, making this structure one that is here to last for hundreds of years. Hardy utilized a natural salt solution in order to treat the wood and make it resistant to infestation from insects in the area. Additionally, the bamboo was density tested and carefully chosen specifically for this project alone.

Artists who have used bamboo and other twig-like materials have also invested considerable amounts of time, expense, and patience when it comes to creating truly unique structures capable of housing humans. One Belgium artist created a human nest that he then attached to the outside of a Rotterdam skyscraper on the 13th floor. The same artist received a grant for $70,000 to construct a nest for habitation in an East Village garden in Los Angeles. One nest, composed entirely out of leather, sold for $17,000. The popularity of such structures for most people resides in its ability to stand as a symbol against a world overrun by steel, concrete, and fervently expanding cities across the globe.

Sources:

http://curbed.com/archives/2013/10/14/heres-a-contemporary-bali-tree-manse-made-of-bamboo.php

http://nymag.com/homedesign/urbanliving/2013/bali/

http://curbed.com/archives/2013/06/20/the-10-best-lines-from-the-times-expose-on-twigitecture.php

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Cultures Combine in Bamboo Furniture Collection by Jeff Da-yu Shi

Slowwork Teastyle by Jeff Da Yu Shi
Cutting-edge design is about much more than simply employing the latest materials and considering “ergonomic” design techniques. The leading contemporary designers succeed in merging innovation with time-honored craftsmanship. They also allow their style to be guided by the direction of contemporary culture and sustainable practices. Jeff Da-Yu Shi makes all of these things evident in his latest work to make its debut at the Dragonfly Design Center. Entitled “slowwork teastyle,” this exhibition of groundbreaking pieces that are both elegant and functional edges out into the forefront of design as we know it. Shi takes his inspiration from traditional Chinese ideas yet interprets them from a fresh and contemporary perspective. Every detail that goes into the materials and construction process presents this deep level of reflection and concentration.

As was a common guide to much of ancient Chinese design, Shi seeks to balance the practical with the subtle beauty of simple aesthetics. While the pieces are elegant and beautiful, they do not fail to present themselves with a high level of performance when it comes to each given piece. He is able to take the traditional medium of bamboo and push it to new heights in every piece that he presents.

The name of the exhibition, “slowwork,” reveals a great deal about Shi’s process and attention to detail. Each creation is meticulously hand-crafted, and the most minor details of the surface treatments become of great importance when the overall simplicity that contributes to the precision of the work is considered. Such values have certainly been handed down to him through traditional Chinese culture, allowing Shi to connect with his past as he moves design forward into the future. He studied for over two years with craftsman who have dedicated themselves only to working with bamboo, allowing Shi to gain new and valuable insights in the material itself as a medium. He made it his goal to reconsider the conventional ideas associated with furniture and mass production in addition to rethinking the way he approached bamboo in its raw form. Shi has been quoted as saying that this time and the approach to the materials themselves provide the only true means for creating pieces that will stand the test of time.

Shi cites four main elements as being critical to the production of this collection: breakthrough, verification, design, and research. Using these essential guides at all points of the process, Shi has created furniture and design pieces that are wholly unique but not completely removed from history. Among the most notable pieces in the collection are the tea ceremony settings, tea cabinets, and chairs. In the tea cabinet designs, the artist has succeeded in merging the traditional designs for such pieces in southern China with those that have been popular among the British culture. Many innovative techniques were required in order to execute the pieces, including solidifying bamboo tubing. The results are delicate qualities that are at once merged into a single composition. The pieces display brilliant symmetry while still incorporating perspective as a key element.

The six-seater tea table that is featured in the exhibition also pushes traditional Chinese design forward through the use of innovative new crafting techniques related to bamboo. Based on the “ba xian table,” the most common furniture to be found in a traditional Chinese home, this simple design features only the top, the aprons, and the legs. However, it still makes use of very subtle complex elements. Each of the legs is composed of bamboo, and they all intersect at an angle of 120 degrees. Because of his knowledge when it comes to construction using bamboo, Shi is able to achieve the same rigidness and density in the piece as if he were in fact employing hardwoods as his raw material.

Shi is also able to break new ground by designing horseshoe, bamboo armchairs that are stackable. He approached the design using the basic application of mortise and tenon joints. The back of the chair is flexible and is composed of four separate bamboo slats. The design is not unlike those from traditional Chinese culture, although, the idea of stackable chairs made to have this function are certainly an industrial innovation. The additional bamboo supports that run along the back of the chair also extends to its base to form the actual legs. The curvature needed to complete such a design is completely unique, requiring a construction process that Shi himself has pioneered. The chairs are extremely comfortable in addition to encouraging a healthy posture when in use. They are extremely light and appropriate for every setting from the home to the office. Shi’s devotion to using bamboo exclusively in nearly all of his projects also offer a sustainable approach to design in the future that lowers the carbon foot-print that is generally associated with any mass-produced furniture of any kind.

If you’re in the market for innovative bamboo furniture for your home, check out the various options at Bambooki.com. From bamboo patio furniture, to sleek modern home furniture from Greenington, there is something special for every taste.

Source:

http://www.designboom.com/design/slowwork-teastyle-bamboo-collection-by-jeff-da-yu-shi-of-dragonfly-10-08-2013/

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Bamboo Massage – Extending a Healing Culture

Bamboo Sticks

Source: http://www.chicagonow.com/

Some of the most effective and rejuvenating techniques in massage therapy have come to the world through the traditions held and developed by Chinese culture. It often takes them a fair amount of time to penetrate western culture, however, the relief and results that they deliver always allow them to have a vibrant presence when it comes to the healing arts. The latest technique to reach the various shores of the world involves the use of bamboo. While it may sound counter intuitive at first, using bamboo in order to execute massage techniques increases the potential of the treatment for each individual while also reducing the amount of work that each therapist must do in order to provide the treatment. Bamboo massage has vast potential when it comes to relaxation and healing, making autumn and the months taking us through to the close of the year the ideal time to explore the possibilities for days that remain ahead.

A bamboo massage will generally last up to 90 minutes, allowing for deep treatments that achieve sensations of peace and ease that no other technique can offer. A therapist practicing the traditional methods soothes aching muscles with the use of three different types of bamboo sticks. The technique has been handed down through Chinese culture for an extensive period of time. Masters of the technique take on pupils who they then educate in this specific art of healing. The sticks themselves also have symbolic meanings that are meant to pass on certain healing elements in a spiritual sense to the person receiving the treatment. There is a very short and round stick, a half-moon stick that is also round, and a long stick that is meant to instill long life. The treatment as a whole is also said to bring good luck to the recipient as well.

Before the treatment begins, the sticks are heated to a warm and soothing temperature. Each bamboo stick itself then becomes an extension of the hands for the practitioner. Rather than use their hands, palms, finger, and thumbs to apply pressure, the therapist can rely much more on the leverage of their body. The practitioner also has the ability to leave one with particular feelings running throughout the body that are best suited towards their individual needs or the activities they face in during the remainder of their day. For instance, a bamboo massage can leave one feeling energized, relaxed, or even assist in getting better sleep. These techniques are often referred to as Bamboo Harmonizer Massages because they do seek to bring the body into balance like many of the techniques practiced in Chinese medicine. However, some places will simply characterize them as general bamboo massage treatments.

The practice benefits the person giving the treatment in that it takes a tremendous amount of pressure off of their joints. The break that it provides allows them to work harder and longer without risking injury or overuse to any part of their body. The bamboo sticks that are used can also be quite versatile. They are widely included in techniques that include Swedish massages, Deep-Tissue massage, and during some Trigger-Point therapies. Bamboo has been incorporated traditionally into healing techniques partly due to its rich symbolic heritage. As a raw material, it is representative of fertility, youth, and strength. Bamboo grows very quickly and exists as a sustainable tool for practitioners when compared to some oils that are being used in today’s market. It also retains heat extremely well, allowing for deeper penetration when it comes to addressing issues in muscle systems.

Although bamboo is technically a grass and grows with a hollow center, the bamboo that is procured for this purpose is given a solid core that allows it to be more effective in providing pressure and retaining heat. The solid part of the tool is created by placing in compressed layers of bamboo grains that have been interwoven. The entire stick is then shaped and sanded in order to create the ideal surface for massage applications. There are several different approaches that vary slightly from tradition when it comes to administering this type of massage technique. Some practitioners use oils or lotions in conjunction with the bamboo sticks while others apply different types of strokes, motions, and pressure that depend heavily on the needs of the client.

Most therapist use sticks that are professionally crafted and heat them using electric heating pads of some sort. In addition to easing the tense areas of the muscles, the heat also allows for better circulation to occur in the body. Bamboo sticks of different measurements are generally used to address certain areas of the body or particular muscle groups. Larger sticks are often applied to large muscle groups in areas of the back and along the spine while shorter sticks can be ideal for small muscle groups and relaxing areas such as the arms and neck.

The number of benefits that can be achieved specifically from this technique are quite impressive. It has been shown to be effective in relieving migraines, assisting patients in recovering from respiratory problems, and addressing problems with circulation. A large number of people also turn to this technique when going through physical rehabilitation, recovering from whiplash, or experiencing chronic leg pain. There is no age or physical limitation when it comes to gaining positive results from bamboo massage techniques. Its applications are fairly extensive, being capable of delivering highly targeted to relief to nearly any area of the body. There is also a spiritual side to the technique that many individuals find to be beneficial as well. Many people report their spiritual experiences to last for days after the session has occurred. People speak of profound differences in their well-being in general in addition to gaining merely physical relief.

Sources:

http://www.chicagonow.com/how-to-make-it-in-chicago/2013/09/bamboo-a-massage-to-try-this-autumn/

http://www.bestmassage.com/bamboo-massage-buyers-guide/

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Electricity Drives Its Way Beyond Home

One of the major hurdles that has been facing the growth in demand for the purely electric car has been the utter lack of charging stations throughout the nation. Lack of convenience can be an incredibly big drawback for any new invention, regardless of how revolutionary it may be. Upon the release of the very first few models of electric vehicles, drivers had to be at their homes in order to recharge their car or truck. A full charge would allow the car to get only a couple of hundred miles away from home before it would be in need of returning to a docking station for additional juice. This initial, slightly problematic situation facing the electric car made it great for commuting to work and running errands. However, any lengthy amount of travel or any other type of vehicle application that might take you more than ten or fifteen minutes away from home was simply not an option.

Nonetheless, the electric car has continued to grow in popularity, and drivers are pushing for charging stations to become a common sight along U.S. roadways. Making its presence known as more than a mere trend, demand for these stations is certainly taking effect when you look at the recent rise in charging stations for electric vehicles over the past few years. Between 2011 and 2012, the number of electric charging stations across the nation has risen considerably for a one year period. Moving from just under 2,000 to nearly 6,300 stations, the driver of the electric car who is eager to take a road trip across the country now has real options when it comes to making the journey happen. The numbers become even more compelling when we move into the present. The number of electric charging stations across the nation now stands at roughly 20,000.

The presence of these stations is certainly expanding in order to meet the demands of consumers. When these stations first came onto the scene in 2010, there were only an estimated 10,000 electric vehicles on the road. By 2012, that number had grown to 14,500. Now, in 2013, there are just under 56,000 electric vehicles estimated to be traveling the country. The types of charging services that these locations are offering is shifting as well. The DC Quick-Charge installments that were common when these stations first started appearing is quickly fading. Estimates show that there are only roughly 368 of these still in operation today. Instead, drivers are much more likely to pull up to a charging stations that are using the 240-Volt system for refueling. There are an estimated 11,720 of these stations in operation as we speak. This number is slated to grow dramatically as the number of electric cars being sold increases as well.

If you need more evidence in addition to the presence of electric charging stations in order to assure you of the lasting presence of the all-electric vehicle, you can take a look at the ordinances that are being handed down by municipalities in progressive states such as California. Here, lawmakers are set on making access to electric charging stations much more prevalent. New regulations will dramatically expand this type of infrastructure by making it a requirement that these kind of charging ports be installed as standard equipment in multi-family housing, places of businesses, and other types of installations and construction projects. As a result, electric car drivers in this state will soon have the ability to refuel without even looking for signs that will indicate a conventional fueling station. Known as the Charging Stations Open Access Act, this sweeping legislation will change the way people view this new technology.

Set to go into effect in 2014, these laws would provide access to electricity for drivers in all types of non-traditional settings that even include shopping malls. These stations will be available to anyone in the public, and the presence of fees for charging will be disclosed at the unit, typically taking the form of memberships. Although such laws are yet to pass, there are plans to try to keep pushing them forward should they fail through the resources at the disposal of the California Air Resources Board.

There are also some issues with standardizing the charging units, as one might expect. In this capacity, there seems to be two major types of hardware that are emerging. One has been developed by Japanese car companies and is known as CHADemo. This type of system is common on vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf, Honda Fit, and the Prius Hybrid. The system being widely embraced by North America and much of Europe is referred to as CCS. This type of charging system is being used by big names in the industry such as Ford and Chrysler.

Despite the excitement over the new possibilities, many automotive manufacturers have some catching up to do when it comes the electric-charging technology. The new infrastructure must rely on the ability of the car to charge quickly, a feature that was not present on the most popular electric cars of the past. However, many top manufacturers are slowly beginning to make commitments towards incorporating fast-charge technology into their electric vehicles and to further explore the possibilities of such potential. Should the increase related to the growth of electric charging stations around the nation continue as it has, experts expect to see stations that exceed numbers of 200,000 by the year 2020.

Rise of Electric Car Charging

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Outfitting a Movement

The earth does much more than provide the setting in which we work, eat, play, and live. It gives us the ability to breath, to eat, and to adapt to changing environmental factors. The more we become aware of how we can use the earth to do all of these things in ways that are not simultaneously eroding it for future generations of living creatures, the more we discover that it can provide for every need in a sustainable and healthy way. This nourishment from natural resources even includes clothing. We are not talking about killing animals and wearing their skins, however. There are cutting-edge ways to use the material provided by nature while still maintaining a sense of style and comfort. There is no need to put polyester and other man-made materials that harm the environment into every garment of clothing that is shipped to department stores. This way of thinking is not anything groundbreaking when it comes to the fashion world, however. Although, we are beginning to see the trends towards eco-friendly clothing hitting the mainstream in a way that it never has in the past.

Some of the most recent fashion shows to debut in the hottest venues in New York, Paris, and other fashion leaders of the world have eco-friendly lines of clothing taking center stage. The fact that celebrities are now being given positive attention by critics for wearing eco-friendly garments to major award events such as the Golden Globes speaks volumes in terms of the popularity and lasting potential of this movement forward. Among some of the top celebrities that are responsible for assisting eco-fashion’s move into the spotlight are Merle Streep, Bradley Cooper, and Colon Firth. Leading designers such as Etsy are also making these kinds of choices in clothing easier for the general public. They feature over 23,000 listings for clothing that fall under the eco-friendly category. The fact that the general public is taking notice and displaying interest in this movement is also evident when one looks at what is happening on some of the major social media platforms. Pinterest, for example, currently has over 6,000 pages dedicated to this type of clothing.

Designing and selling clothes that are eco-friendly does not just entail making all of the garments from hemp and other natural fibers. A large portion of these items are being constructed from the leftover materials of previous garments that the fashion industry and other manufacturers would have simply discarded in the past. The waste that plagued this part of society over recent generations added up to millions of yards of fabric and other materials. One label that makes clothing exclusively from materials such as these is Jig Saw Green. They take advantage of the excess materials produced by dozens of different larger design firms in order to produce clothing items that are uniquely their own. Based out of London, this firm works with only local sewing companies, purchasing the leftover fabric to create pieces that are sold in boutiques all across America and Europe once the designs have gone through a few rounds of refinement.

One very popular dimension of this type of clothing is that garments tend to be produced by smaller designers, allowing for unique items that not everyone will be buying in mass quantities. In addition to offering individuality, these garments do not include the addition of harsh chemicals that end up doing damage to the earth through the manufacturing process. Both the press and consumers are taking note of the change to begin making headway. Lifestyle Week has commented on the benefits of the newly emerging trend. They clearly note the impact on global warming and other harmful practices that are drastically reduced through the purchase of eco-friendly clothing. Among some of the top materials going into fashion of this kind are pure cotton, bamboo, and plant extracts that take the place of the harmful chemicals that are typically put to use in the manufacture of traditional clothing.

The garments themselves are not limited either. In addition to your average skirt, shirts, shorts, or jeans, customers have eco-friendly options for nearly every type of clothing that they may desire, including boots utilizing mainly cork, purses, accessories of all kinds, and even ballet slippers. While hemp is a fairly popular raw material, consumers will also see plenty of coconut, naturally procured indigo, and even banana fibers. The surge in this trend is not necessarily due to a sudden rise in environmental awareness, though. The variables holding back this sort of fashion potential in the past mainly had to do with economic pressure, resources, and lack of sophistication when it came to the manufacturing process. However, increased awareness through major marketing campaigns and the renewed interest of designers in this area of activism are certainly playing an important role in the boom of enthusiasm. Some of the top fashion designers across the globe are beginning to make it their mission to use these kinds of materials to produce products that are trendy and stylish in addition to having the potential to redefine the term “glamorous.”

In order to make the impact on the global situation that we face less of an abstract issue, one only needs to look at the numbers that can be changed through a surge in eco-friendly clothing consumption. Over 25 percent of the pesticides used throughout the world are produced to use on non-organic cotton that is harvested to create traditional clothing. Additionally, over 8,000 chemicals are used to make raw materials into the conventional fabrics that still compose most of today’s clothing. Eliminating these kinds of practices will go a long way in erasing a considerable portion of man’s carbon foot print on the earth. While the world of fashion is not known for its stability in trends, Vogue has publicly made the claim that they see this approach to fashion as being one that could stay in the scene for considerable periods of time. As avant-garde designs push the limits of fashion and pop stars such as Lady Gaga also push the agenda forward, it seems that such a change for the better will be one that is here for good. If you are hoping to join in on the movement towards a more stylish, individualized, and sustainable future, then you can explore clothing that is being offered by Goodone, Osklen, Prancing Leopard, and Christopher Raeburn.

Rise in Eco Fashion

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Floating Bamboo Home by H&P Architects

HP Architects Floating Bamboo Homes

H&P architects has developed a low-cost bamboo housing project in a flood-stricken region of Vietnam that receives extreme weather conditions every year. The region ranges from extremely hot and humid weather to violent, torrential storms. When such storms occur, residents lose their homes, sometimes their livelihoods, and even their family members in the worst cases. These issues are what led to H&P architects search for a sustainable solution. The goal of the project is to meet the most basic residential needs of living: adequate shelter, sufficient cover from outside elements, and proper sanitation.

Construction

The building project is assembled using simple components and bamboo module units. The bamboo module has a width of 3.3m by 6.6m length. Each house is very easily assembled with bolting, binding, hanging, and careful placement. They would typically be built with local materials, including the primary material bamboo, leaves, and recycled oil containers.

The architectural design allows for ample natural light and ventilation to flow through the home. The structure is also built to include rainwater collection facilities with an integrated filtration system, as well as a one-way valve that turns on backup support systems when the torrential rains begin.

The entire bamboo home is firmly secured using anchors, ties, and other solid connections to ensure that the structure is strong enough to float in floods and withstand the battering of storms. It is structurally held in place by welded steel piles that also easily accommodate for the structure’s up and down movement during floods: an important element in it’s flotation capability.

Uses

The bamboo home is laid out just like any other ordinary home. It has a ground floor that features a living room, bedroom, bathroom, water closet toilet, and kitchen; in addition to these areas is another multifunctional upper floor that is accessible via ladder. As its name suggests, the space has multiple purposes, which range anywhere from housing, schools, medical facilities, or a community center. The home allows for both indoor and outdoor terraces, with an area set aside for growing plant.

Its modular design means that the structure can be expanded with an additional module or two to accommodate a family of six. This opens a host of possibilities for the potential construction of small schools, small clinics, work facilities, and more. This naturally constructed work of architecture is strong enough to withstand 5 feet of high flood waters.

Sustainability

Bamboo is a remarkably versatile plant with a short growth cycle. It can be harvested in three to five years, as opposed to ten to fifty years for most softwoods and hardwoods. It grows in almost any climate, and it replaces itself very quickly. It has been used for thousands of years, and has not suffered from deforestation. It’s a far more environmentally safe and sustainable option than other modern construction materials like corrugated metal, artificial plaster, and chemically treated wood and brick. It requires minimal processing before its use, and it leaves no environmental footprint afterward.

Affordability and Ease of Access

The bamboo home can be built by the residents in just 25 days, and if mass produced, it only costs $2,500 U.S. dollars. The home is capable of sheltering up to six people in very extreme weather conditions in an affordable and safe manner. These homes can be reproduced all over the world where bamboo is plentiful: India, China, the Pacific Islands, Central Africa, and many others.

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3 Creative Bamboo Bridges Across the Globe

Contemporary bridges that are pushing the limits of engineering design and drawing in tourists from all over the globe typically take advantage of new metals and complex alloys in order to increase their strength and attractiveness. However, recent developments have seen an advance that one would not expect in this area of architecture. Both temporary and permanent bamboo bridges have been popping up around the globe, serving as both installments that draw a considerable number of tourists and as functional constructions that actually allow for transport from one end to the other. From Thailand to major metropolitan cities, bamboo bridges are making their presence known.

Mon Bridge in Sangkhlaburi

Mon Bridge in Sangkhlaburi

In Thailand, a bamboo bridge has taken the place of the famed Mon Bridge. The once great structure stretched for over 1,500 feet but was recently washed away in a major storm. The temporary bamboo bridge that has taken its place comes from the mind of architect Chuta Sinthuphan and represents extraordinary engineering. Rather than bringing in full-fledged construction crews from the surrounding regions, the floating bridge was constructed over a period of six days by 500 residents in the area who needed the bridge for commercial and residential purposes. The structure itself is stunning, though suited for foot traffic only. It went up in record time, severely undercutting the original three-week time frame for the project.

Bumbuco SummerTyne Bamboo Bridge

The Australian company Bambuco has recently introduced the concept of bamboo bridges to the British as well. Spanning the Tyne River next to the permanent steel and concrete construction only miles away, this bamboo bridge stretches over 390 feet. The installment was temporary, constructed in conjunction with the Summer Tyne Festival. Considered to be an outdoor sculpture, it was composed of 20 tons of bamboo that was split into only 80 individual pieces. The bridge was not opened to human traffic, although, bamboo displays extremely high tensile strength. It is being widely used throughout China as a raw material in construction due to its vast availability.

Truck Bamboo Bridge by Yan Xiao

Truck Bamboo Bridge by Yan Xiao

Within China, one of the most recent bridge projects to use bamboo as its primary material was completed in the province of Hunan. Designed and implemented by Yan Xiao, a professor at Southern California’s School of Engineering, this bridge was built in a remote village where it was fully functional. It can hold a fully-loaded transport truck and was constructed in only a week. It required merely 8 workers without the use of heavy construction equipment. Its capabilities are limited to weights of 8 tons for safety reasons, however, independent testing by Hunan University shows that it is capable of supporting much greater weights.

There is considerable excitement regarding the potential of bamboo as a construction material over concrete and steel. The cost associated with the labor, the machinery needed to complete construction, and the availability of the bamboo itself are all advantageous, creating a sustainable solution for an industry that is increasingly leaning towards cheaper and more efficient processes. There are other projects in China that have built bamboo bridges that are capable of holding trucks that weigh as much as 16 tons. The bridges rely on unique approaches towards construction that make use of horizontal beams of bamboo whose tensile strength is on par with steel and other more conventional materials. The key to implementing this type of design in the bridge-building process also lies in the processing of the bamboo itself. Traditionally, China has used bamboo in its raw form when implemented in construction. This practice dates back thousands of years. However, the recent advances are increasing bamboo’s potential by creating round poles that are made of strips of bamboo that when put together are similar to timber.

The process requires harvesting large stalks of bamboo that are bonded in consecutive layers using a specialized glue adhesive. Bridges that are capable of supporting weight in excess of 10 tons have been built as long as 10 meters across to date, making this technology one that is full of promise. While the actual construction time on site is very small, the prefabrication process that fabricates the beams requires more time. When it comes right down to the math, bamboo is actually stronger than steel pound for pound. It also stands up well to concrete, displaying similar abilities under compression. Another advantage is that bamboo stalks that reach the point of growth necessary for harvesting require only a few years to mature. Rather than the decade of growth required to replace timer, bamboo leaves root systems intact, creating a much more sustainable system that produces very little impact on the environment. There are other environmental factors to consider as well. The production of cement releases a considerable amount of carbon dioxide into the air while harvesting bamboo and using it in construction produces virtually no green house gases. Additionally, bamboo is an element of nature that actually absorbs carbon monoxide, helping to cleanse the atmosphere as it is grown.

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3 Luxury Vehicles with Sustainable Wood / Bamboo Car Interiors

Luxury cars are mobile palaces. They are designed with the intention of making the driver and all passengers feel comfortable, pampered, and safe wherever they go. Automakers know that in order to provide customers with a higher-quality driving experience, they must pay close attention to every aspect of a car from its aesthetics to its functionality. It’s not uncommon to see some very rare and expensive materials including exotic leathers, 24k gold, or ivory in the cabins of elite luxury cars, but what about bamboo? Believe it or not, bamboo has also found its way into many luxury car interiors–and here’s why.

Bamboo is extremely affordable, sustainable, has a high strength-to-weight ratio, and is visually appealing. The plant grows extremely fast, it takes only about five years for bamboo to completely mature, while many trees that are used for wood take longer than 50 years to reach the same point. Cutting down a ton of bamboo isn’t as detrimental to the immediate ecosystem because of its high growth rates. The perennial evergreen also has an immensely dense and tough stem that weighs next to nothing. It’s not only strong enough to take the punishment within your car interior, but light enough to be used in large quantities without weighing down a car and hindering its performance. Bamboo can accentuate a dashboard, steering wheel, doors, or a central console very nicely. The appearance of wood has always enhanced the elegance of a luxury car, and bamboo serves this purpse.

2013 Lexus GS 450h Hybrid

Lexus GS 450H Bamboo Interior

The Lexus GS is a luxury hybrid car, with a perfect combination of looks, comfort, and performance. With this model, the manufacturer managed to bring both luxury and green to the table. Not only does the car have awesome fuel efficiency, it also maintains the same level of aesthetic quality as non-hybrid models in Lexus’ line-up. Hybrid cars are known to take a hit when it comes to looks compared to their less green counterparts, but that isn’t the case this time around. With light-brown bamboo incorporated into the steering wheel, dash, and center console near the gear shift and contrasting against the black leather seats and upholstery, the cabin really catches the eye and pops in a very pleasing manner.

Video of Bamboo Steering Wheel Production

BMW’s i3

BMW i3 interior infotainment

BMW’s newly-released all-electric crossover, has also been spotted sporting bamboo like trimmings, called Kenaf or Eucalyptus on the dash. Like with the Lexus 450h, the choice of color is also a very subtle brownish-tan that looks similar to the hue of unfinished wood planks. Even if the material isn’t really bamboo, it’s clear that BMW’s designers are going for the same look, and it’s quite a nice match with the neutral tones of dark-brown, gray, and black inside the i3′s cockpit.

BMW’s i3 Interior Design

Aston Martin DB9

Aston Martin DB9 with Bamboo Interior

Another top contender in the luxury car market, Aston Martin, also offers a refined bamboo trim for its ultra-popular DB9 model. The bamboo veneer layers are oriented in a way that optimizes visualization of the natural marks, lines, and beauty of the “wood.” This bamboo trim features more of a dual-tone color with contrast between lighter and darker spots. Against black controls and air vents, chrome trim, and light- and dark-tan upholstery, the bamboo simply looks magnificent in the super-classy and speedy DB9.

The luxury cars above are perfect examples of how a common plant material such as bamboo can be creatively used in a way that elevates its class. With increasing concerns about pollution and its detrimental global effects, automakers have shifted towards designing motor vehicles that are less of a hazard to society. These hybrid and electric cars not only produce less waste, but they’re also constructed from more environmentally-friendly materials such as bamboo.

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