Floating Dam to Capture Waste in the North Sea

The world’s oceans are polluted with massive amounts of waste plastics, so much so that we’ve had to name a grouping of plastic waste because it’s so large. There are many ways to reduce our use of plastics and our production of waste (hint: don’t buy so many things); we still need to deal with what has already been dumped into the oceans.

A new effort launching soon off the coast of The Netherlands will use a floating dam to catch floating plastics. The structure will allow animals though the mess while catching waste better than previous methods.

Plastic waste is a major threat to animals in the sea, who either choke on the material or suffer from related contaminants. But most ocean waste projects try to collect plastic waste with boats that end up inadvertently endangering ocean life. The revolutionary new dam, scheduled for deployment in the second quarter of 2016, will instead use currents to round up waves of garbage—bags, bottles, and other waste—while also letting sea creatures through. Passive, safe collection is the idea.

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Earthships Taking Off in the Netherlands

Earthships are a type of house that are built using reused materials to construct a structure that is sustainable. Often the earthships are off the gird and can function autonomously from external systems. In the Netherlands, these types of buildings are growing in popularity.

Earthships use dirt- and sand-filled tires to create insulated, fire-resistant walls that are then surrounded by earth berms. A glass conservatory filled with plants on the south-facing side maximizes the sunʼs warmth, directing heat into earth mass walls and floors that radiates within the house when the temperature drops. High-performance wood-burning ceramic heaters provide additional warmth as needed. During summer, inhabitants can lower temperatures by blocking windows. Temperatures are maintained at around fifteen degrees Celsius because of the stable temperature of dirt surrounding the building. Cool air enters through the front windows, and warm air is ventilated out through skylights.

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