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Grist List: Look what we found.


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It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a flying wind turbine!

wind-turbine-blimp-BAT

Are we the only ones who can't think of blimps without thinking of Blimpie's sub sandwiches? (We also have a hard time thinking about submarines without getting hungry.) If so, we're sorry to make your mouth water, but Massachusetts company Altaeros has cooked up the Buoyant Airborne Turbine (BAT), a scrumptious, 60-foot blimp that can float 1,000 feet high. Instead of delicious smoked turkey and provolone, its tasty filling is a wind turbine.

Once airborne and tousled by the wind -- which blows two to three times stronger up there -- the BAT sends power down to earth through wires.

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It’s ideal for remote areas that aren’t fit for solar or traditional wind turbines, like parts of Alaska with thinning permafrost. In fact, the BAT is planning to launch a pilot project in Alaska, powering about 12 homes. Fast Company adds pricing details:

Altaeros says the BAT will deliver power at about 18 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is more than most of the country, but still below what some Alaskan communities currently pay.

Now all we have to do is get the blimp to deliver lunch too.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Real hippies drink beer made from tree branches

If you really care about the planet, you'll eat, sleep, and especially drink the outdoors. That's why one Canadian brewery is making beer out of tree branches, because NATURE.

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Sarah Farthing

Prairie Sun Brewery isn't just proving its hippie bona fides -- it's also raising money for outdoorsy pursuits. The brewery created Meewasin 80 ale to help expand the Meewasin Trail in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Adding 10 miles to the trail will connect two public parks, but the Meewasin Valley Authority still needs a little over $1 million to finish the job. Graciously, Prairie Sun is donating all proceeds from Meewasin 80 to the project!

But what’s it taste like? Writes CBC News:

Read more: Food, Living

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Here are the fair-trade hipster shoes you’ve been waiting for

oliberte-shoes
Oliberté

Forget giving hipster shoes to people in Africa (cough, TOMS). How about giving them jobs? Oliberté is that shoe company -- with the added perk of giving you a way to buy your chukka boots and flats with less guilt.

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Oliberté

Oliberté bills itself as a fair-trade, sustainable clothing brand based in sub-Saharan Africa, paying its workers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, more than double the minimum wage. The factory is the world’s first to be certified by Fair Trade USA. So in addition to fair pay, workers get benefits like 90-day maternity leave, reasonable work hours, no exposure to certain toxic chemicals, and decisionmaking via employee committee.

Adds Treehugger:

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Here’s a solution to most bikes’ dirty secret

Ever been biking in a park and been dismayed that your shiny metal bike didn’t quite fit in with your earthy, natural surroundings? So has designer Daniel Gestoso -- so he dreamt up the Boske wooden bike.

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Daniel Gestoso

Like its predecessor, the Sandwichbike, the Boske is flat-packed in IKEA fashion; you only need an Allen wrench to put it together. Its frame is a bony figure eight made from laminated, sustainably harvested maple. Recycled pop cans provide the aluminum for the seat base and front fork. “All of this will allow production to stay local, reducing energy usage in transportation and distribution,” Gestoso told Fast Company.

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Watch North America’s busiest bus stops become more efficient using only sidewalk tape

Nelson\Nygaard landed a super-easy job. The transit planning firm had to streamline a couple of bus stops in British Columbia for TransLink. Only about 100,000 people ride that particular route a day. It’s just the busiest bus line in North America. (But no big, right?)

Palms sweaty, knees weak, and arms heavy, Nelson\Nygaard already knew what didn’t work: a huge passenger shelter where riders of Vancouver’s 99 Broadway line simply ignored switchback arrows on the ground. (Think airport security without any crowd-control ropes -- madness.)

So rather than armchair postulating about what MIGHT work better, the firm did some real-time analysis at two east- and westbound stops, laying down some sidewalk tape on a busy Monday morning and capturing the results on video:

Read more: Cities, Living

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We found love in a tiny place

Tiny house for two? Yes, this dating site is real

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Tammy Strobel and Shutterstock

Every Friday night across the country, a familiar scenario plays out: Someone listens to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” for the 14th time in a row, consumes Nutella by the fistful, and dons old sweatpants with paw prints on the butt, all while thinking, "It might be time to try to get a date." Why shouldn’t this be happening in a 120-square-foot cottage on wheels? Tiny house people have needs, too. And slowly, a few enterprising souls are popping out of the reclaimed woodwork to fulfill them. Enter Tiny House Dating. At long last, someone thought to outdo FarmersOnly, Purrsonals, and SaladMatch by creating a niche dating …

Read more: Cities, Living

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Get tanked

This Texas man is fighting the drought one tank of rainwater at a time

tank town
Tantown Rainwater Collection

How do you get to be the mayor of Tank Town? Practice, practice, practice! Or else, wait. I’m confused.

Richard Heinichen became the mayor of Tank Town by building one rainwater storage tank in central Texas in 1994. Back then you could still get groundwater from a well, but apparently it smelled gross. He started out as a rainwater evangelist for the supplemental, sulfur-free benefits, but ended up as deus ex machina during Texas’ crippling droughts.

Heinichen helped neighbors build their own rainwater tanks at first, then decided to turn the whole thing into a business. He built 16 tanks on his own property and sold some 1,300 others. He consults with hundreds of people a year about installing their own rainwater tanks. (Perplexingly, he’s also started bottling and selling his rainwater, Cloud Juice, but we hope he is at least using recycled bottles.)

Now, during the worst drought in decades, Heinichen’s hometown of Dripping Springs, Texas, is running severely short on drips. This video fills in the details, with whimsy added in the form of charming water tank paintjobs and a soundtrack straight out of a Noah Baumbach movie.

Heinichen points out that a single gravity-fed tank could support two people for almost a year. If the drought lasts longer than that? Store more water.

Long live Tank Town.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Float on

This floating electric amphicar could save you from the next tsunami

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Fomm Concept One

It’s a car! It’s a boat! It’s an electric-powered vehicle that bobs on the water like a jetski!

The Japanese-developed Fomm Concept One uses a water jet generator to propel through water, and has a motorcycle-style handlebar to accelerate and brake. And get this: Its wheels are lightweight, buoyant, and they can operate like fins when in the water.

Pretty neat, eh? Before you take the plunge and pack up the family for a picnic in the lake, remember that this amphicar isn’t meant just for fun. It was designed by a Japanese company to help rescue people from flooding and tsunamis and will only be sold in Thailand, followed by a larger rollout in Southeast Asia. The tiny, 1,000-pound car can only drive about 62 miles before it needs to be recharged, and can only handle one disaster at a time before it needs to be maintained again.

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He may talk big on deforestation, but it turns out Ahnold is the tree terminator

I'll be bahk, bromeliads.
Global Witness
I'll be bahk, bromeliads.

Hasta la vista, trees! If you thought it was bad when Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor, just wait til you hear what’s happened now that he’s an honorary U.S. Forest Service ranger. An investigation by Global Witness alleges that his investments have funded illegal rainforest logging, according to the Guardian:

The former governor and climate champion is a part owner of an investment company, Dimensional Fund Advisers, with significant holdings in tropical forestry companies.

A number of those forestry companies were implicated in highly destructive and illegal logging which has destroyed rainforest and critical orangutan habitat in Borneo, and fuelled conflict and arms trafficking in Liberia, the investigators from Global Witness said.

The Terminator had roughly a 5 percent stake in DFA’s investment funds. He’s invested no less than $1 million in the firm, according to disclosure forms the Guardian dug up. (We can think of a better home for your millions, Ahnold! And we promise not to kill any orangutans.) It gets worse:

Read more: Living

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The week in GIFs: Booze, meat, and coffee

This week we found out how to brew booze at home and learned why you shouldn't throw your coffee cup into space. (Last week was brought to you by Liz Lemon.)

You can make your own alcoholic ginger beer:

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Samuel L. Jackson is going vegan -- but it turns out vegetarians have worse health:

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Read more: Living