IKEA Is Launching Air-Purifying Curtains
Air pollution within the home causes 3.8 million deaths a year, according to the World Health Organization. A recent University of Colorado in Boulder study reported by The Guardian found that cooking a full Thanksgiving meal could raise levels of particulate matter 2.5 in the house higher than the levels averaged in New Delhi, the world's sixth most polluted city.
But soon, you will be able to shop for a solution in the same place you buy your budget roasting pans. IKEA is working on a specially-designed, air-purifying curtain called the GUNRID.
"Besides enabling people to breathe better air at home, we hope that GUNRID will increase people's awareness of indoor air pollution, inspiring behavioural changes that contribute to a world of clean air," Inter IKEA Group Head of Sustainability Lena Pripp-Kovac said in a Monday press release.
IKEA wants to help people to a better life at home through cleaner air. Introducing the air purifying curtain GUNRI… https://t.co/QkNvrSQBjq— IKEA USA (@IKEA USA)1550607944.0
The GUNRID's powers are enabled by a mineral treatment that allows it to mimic photosynthesis: breaking down harmful chemicals when exposed to either natural or artificial light. IKEA worked with European and Asian universities to develop the technology over the past few years.
IKEA says that its "mineral-based photocatalyst" is different from other models because it responds to indoor light, Fast Company reported. It breaks down odors and indoor pollutants like the known carcinogen formaldehyde.
"Successful laboratory tests have been carried out to ensure that the photocatalyst coating works and that it is safe," IKEA said, according to Fast Company. "The next step is chamber tests and home tests to confirm that GUNRID efficiently removes volatile organic compounds in a room."
Because the treatment used on the GUNRID could be used on other textiles as well, other air-cleansing products may be in IKEA's future.
"GUNRID is the first product to use the technology, but the development will give us opportunities for future applications on other textiles," Pripp-Kovac said.
IKEA Range & Supply Product Developer Mauricio Affonso said he was inspired by the air pollution he experienced as a child in Brazil, according to Fast Company.
"For me, it's important to work on products that solve actual problems and are relevant to people," Alfonso said in the press release. "Textiles are used across homes and by enabling a curtain to purify the air, we are creating an affordable and space-saving air purifying solution that also makes the home more beautiful."
IKEA estimates the curtain will be available to purchase by 2020, Fast Company reported.The GUNRID is one of many attempts by the Swedish furniture store to improve its environmental impact. It has been working to phase dangerous chemicals out of its products and reduce air emissions, as well as to reduce its carbon footprint per product an average of 70 percent by 2030 compared to 2016 levels. In 2018 it launched the Better Air Now! Initiative with the intention of turning rice straw—a byproduct of rice harvesting that is often burned and pollutes the air—into a novel product source for the company. It also pledged to phase out single-use plastics by 2020.
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Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
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