Isn’t „unique“ a fantastic word to work with? Considering that it defines this one singular, outstanding idea, object or place, hardly a description could be more adequate. The ICEHOTEL in northern Sweden does not claim to be the one and only specimen of its kind. What renders it solitary is that it is redesigned and skillfully recreated every winter afresh – from scratch. 200 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, embedded in an untouched environment dotted with thousands of pristine lakes and crossed by wild rivers, lies Jukkasjärvi. Every year, the remote village witnesses a fascinating spectacle repeating itself.
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They may not appear overly enthusiastic when it comes to appreciating what’s going on around them on their native Galápagos islands, whose name-givers they are: the weighty Giant Tortoises – eye-lids on half-mast – remain in the know by sheer age. With some of them having been around for nearly one-and-a-half centuries, they have posed as reliable long-term witnesses of the wondrous proceedings happening on the remote archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. 1,000 kilometers west off the South American coast and under the sovereignty of Ecuador, the islands are teeming with rare fauna ranging from cute to ugly to downright strange: the pre-historic looking Iguana’s serrated crest lends him a ferocious dragon-like air; the male Frigatebird makes a mighty fuss during the mating season, when he stages his macho parade in front of adored females and fortifies his efforts by inflating his Ferrari-red gular sac until it stresses at the seams; the Blue-footed Booby wraps its courtship into a wobbly dance performance. By awkwardly swaying from foot to foot Chaplin-style, he offers amused onlookers an endearing sight and has become the star of many a nature video. Preserving the archipelagos of Galápagos is a primary goal locally. One of the precursors in achieving it, is the Finch Bay Eco Hotel on the isle of Santa Cruz.
Imagine you were the fortunate citizen of a lush tropical island, say Bali, and financially privileged enough to afford an extraordinary home built according to your most daring desires. Ideally, renewable materials would be used almost exclusively so that your new residence became a sustainable and thus environmentally friendly affair. Bamboo is one of these resources – abundantly available locally, easily cultivated and growing back rapidly. It is light yet sturdy, albeit a little stubborn when it comes to delivering reliably straight rods: No two poles are alike and creative thinking is required on a permanent basis in order to come up with a feasible design. In Elora’s case, her enigmatically shaped edifices are the surprising result of these given twists and curves. Bamboo structures can now last a lifetime. Whereas formerly they used to get eaten away by insatiable termites and bugs, this building material receives treatment with a boron solution, a natural salt despised by hungry insects.
How many facets there really are to sustainability respectively to the options of a new raison d’ être for recycled waste of varyingly appetising origin, is being demonstrated by a treatment plant located in the South-West of England. The company’s core objective is to „develop environmentally sustainable waste treatment processes and to increase the production of renewable energy“ in an „innovative and cost-effective“ fashion. Should your argument be that most treatment plants offer similar solutions, perhaps you are right. But this one has been awarded an ‘outstanding’ status in the Times Top 100 UK Companies listings. And it is taking its environmental efforts to new realms – by providing the first public biogas bus with fuel derived from food waste and human sewage.
Coming from the non-profit consultancy Climate Group, Steve Howard is now the chief sustainability officer at a furniture megastore and talks about selling sustainable products to millions of people by implementing eco-friendly materials and practices. Ikea buildings have sprouted solar panels and wind turbines, the shelves inside are stocked with LED lighting and recycled cotton. An investment of €1.5 billion flows into renewable energy sources.
298 Ikea stores have seen more than 690 million customers in 2012, buying sofas, lamps, bookshelves and other goods worth € 27 billion. More than 1,000 suppliers worldwide do business with the furniture giant.
“I don’t think we’ve fully realized the extent to which sustainability is going to shape society and the business landscape over the next couple of decades.”