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New York City Bans Foam Food and Beverage Containers

New York City's ban on polystyrene coffee cups and clamshell food containers should reduce street litter and help clean up waterways. The new rule took effect on Jan. 1 but businesses have six months to comply. (Image credit: Janine / BY-NC-ND / Flickr) New York City’s streets will have less litter and its rivers and bays will be less polluted as the Big Apple becomes the largest jurisdiction in the country to ban polystyrene foam food and beverage containers. The new policy, effective January 1, 2019, caps an intense, five-year battle in which the plastics industry, led by the Dart…


10 Easy Pieces: Electric Towel Warmers

I’ve always wanted a towel warmer for the bath, but as a renter, it’s one of those trivial luxuries relegated to the “someday” list. There is however one other option: the electric towel warmer. As self-contained units that operate independently from your heating system (as opposed to hydronic towel warmers), the electric variety power up with a switch or a timer; some plug right in without the need for professional installation. Here are our favorite hardwired and plug-in electric towel warmers. Hardwired Electric Towel Warmers Above: On the high end of the pricing spectrum, the Vola Stainless Steel Built-in Heated…


Researchers Raise Questions About Rigid Foam Flame Retardant

A flame retardant introduced in 2011 as an environmentally safer alternative for polystyrene insulation can break down in the presence of sunlight and heat into chemicals that are potentially harmful to the environment, a group of German researchers said in a published report. In an article in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the researchers said they had tested a flame retardant called Polymeric FR. The compound was designed to replace hexabromocyclodecane (HBCD) in extruded and expanded polystyrene (XPS and EPS) foam insulation. Both are commonly used in residential construction. Polymeric FR, developed by Dow Chemical, has a higher molecular…


Steal This Look: A Compact Bath/Laundry in London, Budget Sources Included

We’ve enjoyed following the remodels of Lisa Jones and James Hyatt from their Shelter Island rehab to their latest renovation of a Georgian-era maisonette in London’s Hackney neighborhood. The maisonette’s main bath is a quiet charmer with a healthy mix of budget materials and luxury fixtures. Here’s our breakdown of all the key elements. Above: A half glass wall on the right contains the shower, while a newly sourced (but vintage looking) freestanding tub anchors the room. Photograph by Richard Round-Turner from A Star Is Born: A Rehabbed London Maisonette from a Newly Minted Designer, High/Low Secrets Included. Above: Compact London living…


Carbon Crossroads: Can Germany Revive Its Stalled Energy Transition?

One of many wind farms in Germany, where the number of turbines nears 30,000. Despite a huge push, greenhouse gas emissions have not declined as quickly as expected, and polls show 75% of Germans want the government to do more. (Image credit: Benefit of Hindsight / CC BY-NC-ND / Flickr) This post originally appeared at Yale Environment 360. Northern Germany, from the Polish borderlands in the east to the Netherlands in the west, is the stronghold of Germany’s muscular onshore wind power industry. This is where the lion’s share of the country’s nearly 30,000 wind turbines are sited, a combined…


Flatrock Passive: A Winter Update

Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of blogs by David Goodyear describing the construction of his new home in Flatrock, Newfoundland, the first in the province built to the Passive House standard. You’ll find his complete blog here. In a previous post I talked a little about food security. I tried to focus some of the landscape in our yard on producing food — and it was a huge success! We had a steady supply of baby root vegetables and greens until the end of September. The garden was quite a bit of work but it was amazingly…

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