8 eco tree-houses

Ever since the first time I watched Swiss Family Robinson as a kid I have been fascinated with treehouses. Maybe it's because of their ability to arouse a child-like state of freedom or the fact that most treehouses are built in co-operation with nature, unlike the usual 'clear and construct' approach. Either way, eco treehouses are becoming more and more popular, to the point where some of the worlds most admired architects are taking their skills to the forests to create sustainable liveable works of art.

Here are 8 of the best from all around the world.

 

1. Summit Bechtel Reserve, Mt Hope, West Virginia, USA.

This treehouse is a celebration of sustainability and innovation. It produces and manages all its own energy, water and waste on the site. It was designed with a plethora of green building systems, of which photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, and a water cleansing system are among the most impressive.

 

2. Leaf House O2 Treehouse, Wisconsin, USA.

This unique treetop dome is constructed entirely of recycled materials, and they hang from cables instead of being bolted to trees so their impact is minimal.

 

3. Glass Cabin, West Virginia, USA.

Nick Olson and Lila Horowitz built this retreat in the woods for only $500! It is made entirely of repurposed windows and salvaged materials and can safely say that it lets in the morning light.

 

4. Finca Bellavista, Golfo Dulce, Costa Rica.

The world’s first planned, contemporary, sustainable treehouse community. Each resident is required to purchase and use a biodigester, which generates electricity and heat with a waste-to-energy process, and the architecture is optimized to make the most of cross-ventilation, passive natural lighting and responsible building systems. 

 

5. Free Spirit Sphere, Vancouver Island, Canada.

These spheres were created with the concept of “oneness” in mind, so the floor, walls and ceiling create one continuous space unlike a conventional building. They utilize biomimicry and are designed to fit into a forest setting without altering it
 

6. The Mirror Treehouse, Harads, Sweden.

Almost completely invisible, the mirror treehouse was designed as one of six ‘tree hotels’ in Sweden. It has been constructed from sustainably harvested wood, has electric radiant floor heating and a state-of-the-art eco-friendly incineration toilet.

Worried that birds might fly into it? Don’t be. The architects have applied a special film that is visible to birds.

 

7. Paperback Camp, Jervis Bay, Australia.

Conceived over a few sundowners on safari in Africa in the eighties, Paperbark Camp officially opened in 1999 after years of dreaming and planning by the owners, Jeremy & Irena Hutchings. With the help of their family and a dedicated team of staff, the camp remains a family operated business and continues to be at the forefront of ecotourism in Australia.

 

8. Redwood Treehouse, Warkworth, New Zealand.

A striking pod-shaped structure built ten metres high in a redwood tree near Warkworth, north of Auckland is inspired through forms found in nature, and is reminiscent of a chrysalis protecting an emerging butterfly. The vertical fins and slats are built from sustainably grown pine and poplar. It can now be hired out for private functions and events.

 

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top 3 tips to reduce food waste

I love food and eat a lot of it. It's something I spend a lot of time and money on and therefore I feel deserves a deeper look into how I could make better decisions around it.

Now I'm not talking about the type of food I choose (There's plenty of sites/blogs out there that are covering this and are far more knowledgeable than me in the area), I'm talking about the amount of food I choose.

In Australia we spend around $136 Billion a year on groceries we take home to cook and eat. Of which 20% is simply thrown away. That's $27,200,000,000 put in the garbage bin every year! An extraordinary amount of money and food that could be saved.

Here are my top 3 tips to reduce your household food waste. Not only will these save you money, they'll save you time, energy and our environment. Eat them up!

 

1. Don't buy more than 3 days worth of food (apart from Breakfasts).

I know this may be going against what you might have already heard in that you should plan out your weekly meals in advance. But the reality is is that we live in a very busy and reactive world. How many times have you had to stay back at work and your plans to make that wonderful veggie stir-fry with all those ingredients in the fridge becomes less and less likely. Buy only what you need, when you need it.

 

2. Keep your fridge clean and sparse.

We've been shown and conditioned through Western TV that we should always have a fully stocked and loaded fridge at all times and that there's almost a sense of satisfaction when you can't see the back of the fridge. Whereas we should be doing the complete opposite. Try to aim to see everything in your fridge at all times, grouping foods together that are for the same planned meal. You'll be amazed at how much food you'll save. Plus there's the added bonuses that you'll also save a bit on your energy bill and not having to do the dreaded monthly 'what is that at the back of the fridge with a head on it' clean out.

 

3. Get to know your friend the freezer.

Ah the mighty freezer, often forgotten and underrated compared to it'd bigger brother the fridge. But what usually lacks in size in certainly makes up for in use. Not only does it prolong the life of most perishable foods, it'll also keep that casserole good for a week while you're on a in Thailand.

Some of my favourite types of food I like to freeze are; bread, bananas (perfect for smoothies), most types of other fruits, cheese and chocolate. 

 

Written by Luke McLeod - Founder of Got Soul

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6 daily choices that will make a difference

1. Choose to wake up earlier.

The Difference. More Productive.
Every time I make the effort to wake up earlier I tend to find I am more productive and focused throughout the day, so I wasn't too surprised to find a study that supported this. Harvard Biologist Christopher Randler conducted a study in 2010 that found early risers are more proactive than those who press the snooze button. The reason is that the early risers would often spend this extra time in the morning planning and prioritising activities that needed to be done that day in a calm and orderly manner — rather than those who frantically run out the door with a piece of toast in their mouth, straight into the working day without clear objectives and direction.

How can you become an early riser? There are a lot of ideas on how to do this, however I've found the most simple and effective way is to place your phone (alarm clock) on the other side of the room, so you have to get out of bed to turn it off. Once you're up, have a big glass of water and get outside for a walk.

2. Choose the vegetarian option more often. 

The Difference. Good for the environment and will save you money.
Some time ago while I was trying to choose a meal while out to lunch with friends, I was struck by the number of meat options I could choose from on the menu, and it made me realise how we're able to choose to eat a meat of some type at every meal of every day. Bacon and eggs for breakfast, chicken salad sandwich for lunch, a beef stir-fry for dinner. That's three animals that had to be killed just for those three meals. That's 21 animals a week, 1,092 animals a year. This obviously disturbed me, particularly after I came to realise that production of meat is also the number one emitter of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere (22% of the 36 billion!). It turns out a hamburger beef patty generates as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as driving a 3,000-pound car 16 kilometres.

I'm not saying you have to become vegan, just that maybe next time you're out for a meal or grabbing some takeaway, take a look at the vegetarian option. You'll often find that it's also a cheaper alternative.

3. Laugh for no reason.

The Difference. It'll make you live longer
Laughter produces protective hormones, regulates blood pressure, reduces the effects of stress and helps boost the immune system. How good is that!! Hahahaha. In fact a 2006 Norwegian study found people who laughed more had a 30 per cent better chance of survival when severe disease strikes. Even fake or forced laughing is good for you. "Forced laughter is a powerful way to regularly boost ones mood and psychological wellbeing." Charles Schaefer, Psychology Professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

So go on, have a big belly laugh. It might just save your life :)

4. Get in the ocean more.

The Difference. It'll make you feel and look better.
There are numerous health benefits to going for a plunge in the ocean. It increases blood circulation, joint movement and improves your skin. However, I find there's also a deeper, more holistic benefit to submerging yourself in the big blue. For me it's a type of cleansing. Here's the best scientific explanation I found to support this. Dr Arnout Ter Schure  

"The ocean is likely the oldest element on our planet; the element all life is made from, and will return to. Armed with this knowledge it is easier to understand why we mirror the ocean’s chemical composition. For example, 70% of our body is saltwater, our blood and brain have almost the same chemical composition as the sea, and our brain actually 'floats' in saltwater. This evolutionary connection may already explain why the ocean is such a magnet and why she makes us feel good: we are literally in a state of balance in her presence.

Sounds spot on to me Doctor.

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5. Listen to good music.

The Difference. Good for the soul.
I remember reading somewhere that music is medicine for the soul and I couldn't agree more. There's not many things that can have such an instantaneous effect on a person's mood. Music is one of them. Take a look at this clip and the power that music has on this man's soul.

So, next time you're feeling a little flat, stressed or frustrated, slip on some headphones and take a couple minutes to listen to your favourite tunes. 

6. Re-fill/Reuse water bottle.

The Difference. Better for the environment.
We consume around 200 billion bottles of water a year. That's 547,945,205 bottles a day, 80% of which ends up in landfill. That is a pretty alarming statistic, especially when it can almost be completely avoided. Filling up a reusable bottle at the beginning of every day is simple and effective habit to get into. 

 

Are there any small daily choices that have made a difference to you? Let us know either below in the comments section or email us.

SOUL TOUR 2013 - Santa Cruz

The first part of the Soul Tour I set out on late last year was to conquer the Californian coastline. Numerous friends who had made the trip up Hwy 1 before me had not only boasted how beautiful it was but emphasised the growing number of creatively conscience people carving their own lives in any one of the many stunning small surf towns.

Santa Cruz is one of these places. Other than knowing that the coastal town has some awesome surf breaks all I knew was that it was the birthplace of those "Santa Cruz' tee shirts every hipster has in their wardrobe and it was also the location where one of my favourite childhood movies, The Lost Boys, was filmed. So I was pretty excited to explore and see what else Santa Cruz had to offer.

It wasn't long before I found myself down on Ingalls Streett, the old industrial part of town that is enjoying a breath of fresh air from locals opening up trendy new stores, cafes and creative spaces.

One such place is  Sawyer Land & Sea Supply, an outdoor lifestyle/surf boutique that stocks quality local goods. Upon entering I was greeted by Stacey who I came to soon realise was the owner. I took the opportunity to pepper her with questions about all the wonderful products in her store of which she was more than happy to answer, until she said. "Well if you come back at 7pm tonight you can meet most of the creators of these products because I'm having a little party and all of them will be coming." 

To save the rambling, I had a wonderful night and met some remarkable people, however there was one person who I was especially fortunate to meet and that was Brian Himlan. Brain makes beautiful wooden handplanes and other wave-riding vessels using old-world techniques, hence the name Long Ship Designs. He is a true gentleman who invited me to his workshop the next day to gain an insight into his world and love of wood and the sea. 

It was a true honour to experience firsthand his craftsmanship, and I am now the proud owner of the amazing handplane below. Thanks again Brian and Santa Cruz, you've certainly Got Soul :)