For many of us, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the ‘perfect’ gifts for our loved ones, however, in the pursuit of them, we often put the environment on second place, but the environment remembers!
Christmas is considered to be the ‘most wonderful time of the year’, but simultaneously is the most stressful and consumer-drive period of time that ultimately leads to a huge amount of waste. As we are more conscious about our food or clothing, why shouldn’t we have the same attitude towards Christmas gifts.
Green gifts might be regarded as too ‘pricey’ or hard to find, however they have a great reputation of being creative, useful and help you reduce the impact on environment. Giving green gifts is about more than merely choosing a sustainable product. There are also the perfect grounds to help out your loved ones to be more eco-conscious. By opting for them, you will also encourage them to change their habits and become eco-friendly.
For instance, when we think about solar powered gadgets, we think about the future. How cool is to have a gadget that rely on renewable energy. Not only the product is useful and green, but it will help your giftee to better understand the landscape of renewable energy. The same applies when we deliver a green message – a book made out of recycled paper that covers eco-sustainability topics.
If you’re looking for more thoughtful gifts this Christmas, with a lower environmental impact, check these 7 green gift ideas.
The number of electric vehicles (EV) in the world hit a new record in 2016, accelerating past the 2 million barrier, as prices fell and manufacturers launched new models. This proves that countries around the world are at the forefront of stimulating EV deployment but where are all the EV charging points?
We’ve analysed data to discover the countries who have introduced the most charging points in the last 12 months and therefore leading the way in EV deployment.
Now more than ever, there is an emphasis being placed on us to become more responsible citizens of the Earth. There have been strides to go green wherever possible in order to help sustain life long after we leave it. Although progress has been made, some industries can still stand to make improvements and cut its waste. One of the biggest offenders of waste falls within the construction industry.
How Construction Projects Contribute to City Waste
Between new builds, renovations, and demolitions, the construction industry finds itself responsible for over a third of waste in most major cities, from Sydney, Australia to Vancouver, British Columbia. In Vancouver alone, construction waste totals upward of 1.5 million tons annually. While much of that is recycled, the remaining waste that ends up in the garbage can certainly be reduced if it were also recycled or reused in some fashion. The biggest contributions to this waste are due to improper demolition and disposal of wood materials, common in most new build projects.
How Building Green Benefits the Environment
By taking a green approach to construction we can greatly improve many facets of the Earth, from minimizing water waste to raw materials, energy and even the land itself. By reducing emissions and pollution the environment can be greatly impacted in a positive way and extend the lifespan of our ecosystems. Below are some of the ways that sustainable, eco-friendly construction can benefit our environment.
Less Water Waste
Construction projects utilise water resources in order to perform builds the traditional way. If limits are not placed on water usage in the near future, many communities may be at risk of water shortages which would be highly detrimental to society as a whole. Sustainable new builds with enhanced systems and appliances designed to reduce water waste would drastically cut down on water waste.
Use of Raw Materials
Frank Lloyd Wright Natural Design: Lessons for Building Green
As we find ourselves using up the Earth’s natural resources faster than the Earth can regrow, things like trees used in wood construction builds, it’s important to consider how we will allow the Earth to thrive while still keeping up with societal demands for new buildings. Many developers of sustainable construction have found ways to utilise less raw materials that are significantly eco-friendlier, such as renewable or recycled resources. These teams are constantly stretching the limits of innovation in order to find more durable, long-lasting materials that can be used in new builds as to not use up the Earth’s resources so quickly. Additionally, the more we reuse and recycle, the less overall waste we will contribute to the growing issue of waste management.
Energy Efficient Solutions
With advances in technology, we now have more options for appliances that utilize energy-saving features and release lower emissions and pollution into the atmosphere. These lower our need for harmful fossil fuels and are also more cost-effective.
Choosing the Right Land
As our societies are growing we find ourselves going deeper into territories that were otherwise thriving with natural life before our impact on them, such as the ever-shrinking rainforest. By taking the extra time and consideration to determine the best plot of land to use for new construction, we can prevent widespread issues like land erosion and promote a healthy appreciation for the natural land.
What Construction Companies Stand to Gain from Building Green
While it’s important to understand the effects of waste on the environment, construction companies could stand to gain a lot from switching to more eco-friendly solutions. By building green from the ground up, considering new tools and ways to reuse materials in renovations from demolitions, companies can have more cost-effective builds. Thereby improving their profit margins over time while simultaneously benefiting the community’s overall health as we reduce the number of carbon emissions in the air.
Construction Companies Need to Lead the Way to Change
The construction industry as a whole has not seen much in ways of innovation when it comes to adapting to more eco-friendly building strategies. In order for any of these benefits to be seen, there needs to be a paradigm shift in this area. By re-envisioning the way we can utilize and reuse recycled materials, construction companies can completely change the way the industry handles waste as a whole. In fact, they will discover is that much of what is sent to landfills can be reused at another jobsite.
This will naturally reduce waste over time, and revamp the way buildings are designed in order to better produce more cost-effective and environmentally conscious builds. This isn’t just something that can be done by labor workers, but rather everyone from the financial and legal advisors, designers, architects, engineers, to the site managers and contractors and subcontractors can assist in improving by altering the way they look at waste management. With the right tools, training, and education, there is no reason why the construction industry can’t adapt to our environmental and community needs.
Even those of us outside of the construction industry can help with this growing problem. By being aware of the impact of waste in these vital industries, we can encourage companies to make changes that will better prepare the Earth to naturally regenerate its resources before we eliminate them. By vocalizing our concerns, we can create the gradual shift toward eco-friendly building solutions.
British Solomon is a contributing writer and media specialist for Varco Pruden Buildings. She regularly produces content for a variety of construction and eco-friendly blogs based around the promotion and education of a more sustainable way of living.
Although summer is long gone, soon enough the weather will be warming up again and with it will come the usual hordes of blood sucking pests. Not only are mosquito bites extremely uncomfortable to deal with, they also in some cases carry dangerous diseases – so it is imperative that you protect yourself from these airborne irritants. Most mosquito control solutions involve applying mosquito repellents that contain chemicals like DEET which, it is now emerging, is harmful (toxic) not only to humans and to the natural environment generally. So if you want to avoid getting eaten alive by mosquitoes once the summer season hits again, and do so in a manner which preserves instead of destroys the biosphere, then we're here to help with these eco-friendly forms of mosquito control. Read on to find out more.
First, though, mosquitoes are attracted to the smell and heat of human skin, as well as the carbon dioxide we exhale in our breath and sweat at every moment. To deter mosquitoes from your person, the best solution is obviously to make your skin less attractive to mosquitoes. This is what conventional mosquito repellents do, they hide human scent from insects. On top of that the activities ingredients like DEET that reside in these chemicals are anathema to mosquitoes, repelling them to the same degree that carbon dioxide attracts. As we have seen though, DEET is toxic to the environment, so the question arises: are there any natural ingredients out there that repel mosquitoes and can be used in an eco-friendly mosquito repellent alternative?
The answer, fortunately, is yes! Here is one such recipe for an all-natural, environmentally friendly insect repellent.
Environmentally friendly insect repellent recipes
Citronella Mosquito Coils
Simply mix 2 tablespoons olive oil together with 10 drops essential oil of either eucalyptus, basil, lavender, lemon balm or citronella, peppermint, rosemary, geranium or cloves. All of these natural ingredients are effective at repelling mosquitoes, and can be purchased in most cases at health food stores. Combine the ingredients in a glass jar, then stir and dab a few droplets onto your skin or clothing.
Meanwhile, for an eco-friendly anti-mosquito spray, take a half cup of rosemary and add to one cup of boiling water. Let steep for an hour, then once cool, refrigerate. Spray on yourself as required.
Here's another recipe for an anti-mosquito dab. Mix a half cup of crushed parsley with apple cider vinegar, refrigerate and then dab the mixture on your skin as required.
Lemon balm or citronella was mentioned above as a potential ingredient in an all-natural, eco-friendly mosquito repellent – this substance can also be used in candles that release citronella as a vapor, and which are also quite effective at repelling mosquitoes.
Quite apart from the mosquito repellents that you apply to your skin as a lotion or spray, there are plenty of other simple tricks and tips out there for deterring mosquitoes – that don't involve damaging the environment.
Other mosquito deterring tips & tricks
For example, when you are outside during peak mosquito season and hours of the day, you should always wear thick, long sleeved shirts and pants, with equally thick socks and shoes that you can tuck into your pants. Essentially the less skin you expose to mosquitoes, the more protected you are against them.
Another point: sources of still, standing water are a literal breeding ground for mosquitoes, so to avoid getting swarmed by mosquitoes in the summer, remove all such sources of water from your home – including wading pools, empty flowerpots, pet dishes, bird baths. If you have a swimming pool, cover it when not in use, and also remove any leaves form the surface of the water (they attract mosquitoes). If you must have a pool or pond in your yard, stock it with mosquito fish or some other native fish that eat mosquitoes. Also regularly cut back the grass and weed your garden, as these provide potential places of shelter for insects.
A few other suggestions: encourage bats onto your property by building a bat house. The reason? Bats eat mosquitoes. When you are sitting out on the deck, have a fan running nearby – the swirling, turbulent air makes it more difficult for mosquitoes to navigate a straightforward path to your skin.
As the world grows more conscious of the environment, businesses shouldn’t be lagging behind. It’s important to consider the efficiency of your workplace, as the little things such as light switches and plug sockets can all add up – especially when you consider just how many of them you have.
Your business needs to be prepared for the future in order to ensure exponential growth and success for years to come – and reducing your carbon footprint is one of the major ways to do it. Many places around the world are striving for sustainability, and if you aren’t looking to do the same, you could find your business lagging behind the rest.
There are plenty of reasons to consider going “green” beyond environmental purposes, too. Conserving energy and ensuring your business is sustainable will lead to cutting costs in the workplace, as well as making sure you’re futureproof and ready for any upcoming developments.
Whether it be finding a remedy to little issues you may be having in the workplace in regard to being eco-friendly, or establishing long-term solutions to ensure your sustainability for years to come, now’s the time to consider the improvements and advancements you can make for your business to become greener.
If you’re looking for a place to start, consider reading this thorough guide on behalf of Smart Pension Auto Enrolment. Detailing the many ways in which you can evolve and make your business more eco-friendly, from the very minor things to get started with to the long-term advancements when looking to the future, this guide covers everything you need to know about green businesses – and how to transform your own.
Improving your business’ sustainability and green credentials should be high up on your agenda, so don’t hesitate – with this guide, you can get started right away.
Click here to read ‘The Complete Guide On How To Make Your Business Green'
Everyone is already more or less aware of the conventional methods on how to properly recycle. Some routinely do these in the name of going green, but for some reason the waste everybody produces has gotten even worse. It seems like everybody is talking about saving the environment and they try to recycle, but it's not doing anything significant.
Purchasing that bottled water might not seem like a big deal to one person but imagine everyone having the same perspective.
In one year there are over 200 billion bottles of water consumed globally of which 176 billion ends up in landfills or the ocean. There are 1,500 bottles of water consumed per second in the United States alone. Considering that bottled water is 2,000 times more expensive than tap water, it's a wonder everybody loves overpaying for H20.
This is one of the most important things a human being needs. Good, clean, safe drinking water. Instead of buying bottled water from an external manufacturer, it would be more cost-effective and ecology friendly to install a reverse osmosis water filtration system for use at home.
This water purification system works by using household water pressure to push water through the reverse osmosis membrane as well as additional carbon and sediment filters, what's left is good tasting drinking water.
If you have one at home, then it's like drinking the water from your favourite restaurant. That's because they have the very same system installed in their kitchen, so rest assured that the quality of water your home system produces is up to par with the bottled version. Most of these water filtration systems are designed to fit under your sink, and there are a lot of options available.
Having safe drinking water straight from the tap is definitely something every home needs. This particular investment would save time, money and not to mention all the plastic bottles that would otherwise be generated by your household. Make sure to stock up on the needed filters and that's all there is to it.
Use a reusable water bottle
Everybody remembers using a water bottle as a little kid, it's not that unusual, but you hardly see grown adults walking around going about their day carrying a water bottle around. Why is that? Is it because it's not considered fashionable to be bringing a water bottle when you’re out and about.
More than likely it's because people have grown accustomed to the convenience of just buying bottled water the moment thirst strikes and do not take into consequence one plastic bottle.
Some might own a water bottle for when they hit the gym, go for that run, enjoy the outdoors, or go camping but that is not enough anymore.
Carrying a personal water bottle wherever might seem like a chore, but imagine all the cash you can save by no longer having to buy water from a store when you're thirsty.
If you don’t own a reusable water bottle, start researching the best options. If you want to completely avoid plastic, try a stainless steel or glass version. Buy two for good measure.
Try and picture what the world would be like if everyone contributes in this little way. The world would be saved from having to deal with 105 billion tons of disposable water bottles.
Granted this is one of the more popular options for going green, but not a lot of people know that they can make money by getting a solar power system installed at home. Most environmentally conscious nations have government programs and incentives available to its citizens to help them go green.
If you qualify, then you can even take advantage of these government-sponsored renewable energy programs which would then help to pay for the system in part, or at times the whole cost.
Once installed, because of net metering or feed-in tariffs, the excess energy your solar panels create will be sent back to the utility companies and they will be the ones paying you.
The UK has some has environmental programs currently in place for its citizens. The U.S also has some federal and state grants available for eligible homeowners. The monetary incentives are what's unusual about going solar in these cases. Some may not even be aware that government funding for transitioning to solar exists.
They do. And it's best to take advantage of it while it's available.
Definitely the most unusual item on the list. The average individual throws away 15 tons of plastic from food packaging in his or her lifetime. Who would think something so small could contribute to so much waste that it ends up creating mountains of trash in your local landfill.
The idea of utilising edible utensils is intriguing, to say the least, and has created quite a buzz for eco-warriors all over the world. The idea came from an Indian company, and it was a big hit on Kickstarter.
It is surprisingly easy to make these edible utensils. Anyone with rudimentary baking skills would be able to create their very own set of consumable tools. All you have to do is first prepare the ingredients: 3.5 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup water, lined baking sheet, 1 tbsp. Salt. Then set up your tools: rolling pin, scissors, knife, metal utensils and then follow this video.
If the idea of making your edible utensils seems too cumbersome, they are available to be purchased in bulk from Bakeys (100 edible spoons per order).
With these in your eco arsenal, one could bring them along for camping trips or for any activity that would otherwise require plastic utensils. The best part is that when you’re done using these, just eat them for a lite snack.
Plastic recycling machine
This is not for the half hearted eco-warrior. Since most plastic ends up in landfill and the recycling rate of plastic is below 10%, building a personal recycling machine for use in your neighbourhood would be a brilliant solution.
This type of machine would enable old materials to become new again. It’s not a big machine and can comfortably fit in a tiny garage or a shed in the backyard.
Making new products from recycled materials can prove to be profitable as well. Selling these items locally or online and making a few dollars would be a nice return for helping to save the environment.
Action the unusual
These environmental woes will not disappear by themselves. Everyone has to do their part in managing our wasteful ways to keep the planet habitable for the future generations.
These are just a few unusual examples of how you can save money saving the environment and avoid unnecessary plastic. Filter your water, use a reusable water bottle, get paid for transitioning to solar and recycle.
Emma is a part-time property developer who loves sharing how others can make their homes amazing both inside and out on her blog Fixtures and Flowers. You can chat to Emma on Twitter.
You may never even consider that your garden could be anything other than eco-friendly, but you’d be surprised how environmentally unfriendly a garden can be. If you have just a couple of harmful habits – using pesticides, not recycling and mowing with a gas lawnmower are just some of these – it’s high time you changed that and did something good for the environment. There is a variety of ways for you to create a sustainable garden and be proud of making a positive impact on the world’s climate problem. Whether you have a garden for aesthetic purposes or really like growing your own fruits and vegetables, it’s important to make a change in your daily life.
Make a compost
While you can purchase the final product from your local supplier, making your own compost has numerous benefits. Invest in a compost bin and separate your garbage in order to create enough supplements to improve your soil. This easy way of using your waste can give your plants the nutrients they need to grow and prevent disease. To start this project, begin by collecting food leftovers and kitchen scraps, but be careful not to use meat. In addition to that, you can also make a compost out of leaves and use it to enrich the soil for your garden.
If you want to keep our planet safe, you obviously can’t always use water from your garden hose to water your grass and plants. This will cost you money and is the total opposite of being eco-friendly. The most sustainable option would be to place containers that will gather rainwater which you can later use for your garden. You can also choose plants which don’t require that much water and thus minimize the size of your lawn and effectively reduce the total amount of water usage. Water conservation plays a big part in decreasing the use of chemicals in the soil because of the chlorine it contains.
Look for advice and help
While some people like to do everything on their own, many still like to consult landscapingexperts to help them create a perfect garden design. That way, you can have a great start and work from there to create a true natural oasis. Having someone to help you learn the basics can be crucial when it comes to almost every part of gardening. Knowing which plants go together and which you can keep close by is the first thing any experienced gardener will teach you.
Attract friendly birds
There are so many bugs you’ll want in your garden, no matter how strange that may sound in the beginning. Not all the bugs are harmful and you should consider this option as a supplement to chemicals. Bugs are a part of the ecosystem, and you can use this natural circle to your benefit and get familiar which birds and insects are good or bad for your garden. Buy a birdhouse and attract the ones that are good to have in your garden and you’ll see the change they make soon enough.
Use only a few pesticides
If you need to use pesticides in order to prevent a disease or kill insects, opt for the one that targets those threats directly without leaving marks on the entire plant. Try to see if there’s a more natural and eco-friendly replacement and try to solve your problems that way. Many of them degrade rapidly with a little help of water and lots of different biopesticides can be the best solution for your garden. Be careful and read the instruction very thoroughly before using them on your fruits and vegetables because it’s important to know when you can start consuming the final product.
Since environmental issues and sustainability have been gaining more and more attention, people need to start doing their share of the work to keep the planet safe. By taking steps like these, you too can make a change without investing too much time and money into it, yet still feel proud of your work. A few everyday rules could be beneficial in the long run and keep the final products as aesthetically pleasing and welcoming as it was before.
Australia's Environment Protection Agency has come under fire because damage to an important rainforest has gone unpunished. The nation's environmental watchdog claimed it didn't have enough evidence to prosecute the state-owned Forestry Corporation NSW, who are thought to have done the damage, and the failure has been damned as ‘totally preposterous' by the eco-activist who identified the many breaches committed by the Corporation.
Apparently the EPA had a full two years in which to investigate and take legal action for damage caused in the beautiful, ancient Cherry Tree State Forest. But the organisation waited until two weeks before the deadline ran out to tell the spokesman for the North East Forest Alliance, Dailan Pugh, that the origin of the damage couldn't be proved ‘beyond reasonable doubt'.
FC NSW in hot water
The Forestry Corporation NSW has allegedly harvested and bulldozed numerous roads through the precious lowland rainforest, which is seriously endangered. But Mr Pugh first alerted authorities to potentially thousands of instances of damage to protected trees during 2015. And Forestry Corp have completely refused to admit it was responsible for the damage. The EPA is trying to claim someone else damaged the forest, something Mr Pugh said was ‘preposterous'. In his opinion the Agency has long had more than enough circumstantial evidence to prosecute.
Proof of who did the dirty deed
The other problem is the difficulty of proving whether the cleared trees were virgin forest or regrowth from previous harvests. While Jackie Miles from the EPA's forestry division told Mr Pugh they had, “conducted a thorough and rigorous investigation“, they concluded there wasn't enough evidence to prove the damage wasn't caused buy someone else. Mr Pugh responded that both the EPA and the Forestry Corporation should have been aware of protected rainforest in the region since its principal area was mapped as such in the 1960s and has been re-mapped repeatedly since then. He feels there's absolutely no doubt who is to blame.
Greed trumps the environment yet again
Is this another instance of greed and profit trumping environmental protection? Dawn Walker, spokesperson for the NSW Greens, says there's “no clearer example of how the current system is failing,” with “one government agency, Forestry Corp, wantonly damaging the environment, while the EPA turns a blind eye”. There are currently more investigations going on to pin down the blame for similar damage in Australia's Gladstone, Giberagee and Sugarloaf forests.
Over the last quarter-century, recycling in the United States has evolved from something only a handful of people did with a small amount of waste to an everyday fact of life. A few decades ago, the most involvement many Americans had with recycling was returning bags of empty aluminum cans or glass bottles to a special recycling center for a few cents. Today, however, the recycling bin is as much a part of Americans’ daily routine as the trash can. Just about everyone has gotten into the habit of tossing their recyclable waste into the appropriate receptacle instead of grouping everything together in the same one. As a result, Americans recycle approximately one-third of municipal solid waste generated each year, compared to less than one-tenth in 1980. Although there remains a lot of work to be done before America solves all of its ecological problems, the acceptance of recycling is one of the American green movement’s most resounding successes.
Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that the environment doesn’t end at our borders. Protecting the environment is a global issue, and it’s one that most other nations have been working to solve at the same time as the United States. In some cases, these nations have made a much stronger commitment to recycling than Americans. While in other cases, nations are playing catch-up to America’s recycling efforts. For example, Switzerland leads the world in recycling, with more than 52 percent of that nation’s waste being recycled. That includes recycling more than 167 metric tons of paper per 1,000 people each year. On the other hand, Romania has the world’s worst recycling rate, recycling only 1 percent of all of the waste its people generate in a year. While Americans by and large have come to accept the recycling bin, we lag behind Germany, where the average home has at least five color-coded bins for recycling different types of waste.
For these and more interesting facts about recycling around the world, see the following infographic below. Saving the environment is more than an American problem, and this shows how nations across the globe are doing their part.
Author bio: Penny Klein, Owner of Perfect Rubber Mulch, has extensive experience in the industry and understands the best product fit for her clients’ needs. She works with customers to guarantee the right amount of product is purchased, and makes certain the delivery process is best in class.