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Let the Earth Day Festivities Begin!

This coming Tuesday, April 22nd, will be the 44th Annual Earth Day. During the premier Earth Day, in 1970, 20 million Americans participated by demonstrated against the deterioration of the environment leading to the creation of the EPA, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act.   Earth Day began in the United States but is now celebrated worldwide.  Though Earth Day is less than a week away it is not too late to attend a pre planned even or even start one of your own.

This year’s Earth Day theme is Green Citites. It is the hope that this year Earth Day will mobilize citizens to encourage their cities to make greener policies and decisions.

Below I have compiled a list of interesting events in a few major US Cities. If you do not see any local events below I suggest visiting Earthday.org and using the Events Tool Bar (find the local events search on the right). You can also join the Billion Acts of Green Campaign or Mobilize the Earth Campaign.

 1. Washington DC

This year Washington DC will celebrate Earth Day April 21 through 23 at Union Station. There will be a bunch of interactive activities and experiences in hopes to raise awareness of the environment. The event will be held by the Earth Day Network and sponsored by NASA.

Other Earth Day events in the Washington DC area include Earth Day at the National Zoo (April 22),  Earth Day at the United States Botanical Gardens (April 25)  Thee Green living Expo at George Mason University (April 26), and Earth  Day in Alexandria at Ben Brenman Park (April 26).

Also, Don’t forget to check out the Annual Cherry Blossom Festival.

2. Chicago

Friends of the Parks will be hosting a Parks and Preserves Cleanup in over 100 Chicago Parks on Saturday April 26 from 9 am until noon. To find the park nearest you go to http://www.earthdaychicago.com/ and click on “View Registered Sites”

3. New York City

Earth Day New York, a non profit, is holding exhibits April 22 at Union Square and April 23 and 24 at Grand Central Station.  Events will include Earth day crafts and a Green motor vehicle runway show. Earth Day New York

“The Green Festival” will take place at Pier 94 on April 26 and 27th . The Green Festival is the largest sustainability event in the world and includes an array of speakers and exhibits addressing fair trade, green business, jobs, food, social justice, and fashion. This year it will include a Yoga Pavilion and a Sustainable Beer and Wine Garden.

4. New Orleans

The New Orleans Earth Day Festival and Green Business Expo, organized by the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, is taking place April 19 Louis Armstrong Park. This year’s festival theme is Go GreenArmy. Activities include bingo, solar powered daiquiris, interactive art, a second line, and lots of live music.

5. San Francisco

Earth Day San Francisco is scheduled to take place April 19 at Civic Center Plaza. There will be an electronic dance stage, a eco-fashion show, bike repair lessons,  artists from burning man, and cooking demonstrations, to name a few activities.

6. Austin, Texas

Austin Earth Day will take place April 26 at Mueller Hanger and give attendees the opportunity to listen to a range of speakers, participate in interactive community drumming, dance, and listen to great music.  Educational demonstrations for all ages will be available on topics like cooking, composting, and turning dumpsters into livable homes.

7. Philadelphia

On April 19 there will be the 33rd 5K Run for Clean Air. The Navy Yard will also holding education sessions for Earth on April 21 through April 25.

For more Earth Day Events Click Here or feel free to post your (or your city’s) events in the comments section.

Happy Earth Day!

hands with dirt via shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

Drink Up!

Strange is good. Innovations that start out as weird can eventually become major game changers. The “Ooho” water container may be one of those game changing ideas.

At first glance the “Ooho” water container looks like a clear jellyfish after it accidentally washes upon shore, not necessarily something you want to put in your mouth. But if you consider the implications of a disposable water container that does not rely on plastics, you might want to try and give it a sip.

The “Ooho” was designed by London design students Rodrigo García González , Pierre Paslier, and Guillaume Couche, who wanted to come up with a more eco-friendly way to drink water. Every year millions of water bottles are used and are thrown out instead of recycled, filling up our landfills and refusing to degrade. “Ooho” is not only biodegradable but it is also edible.

“Ooho” is made using the gastronomy technique spherification. The outer membrane is a compound made from brown algae and calcium chloride that works like the outer membrane of an egg yolk. Because “Ooho” is made from such simple ingredients it is extremely cheap to make.

“Ooho” recently won a 2014 Design Award from Lexus and was displayed at Milan Design week.

“Ooho” is not a perfect product yet. There are many issues that need to be addressed before everyone starts carrying “Ooho” instead of plastic water bottles. “Ooho” still seems relatively fragile and messy when used. Then there’s a question whether people want to eat a product that has been sitting in their pocket all day?

Still, “Ooho” is a neat scientific experiment which may one day lead to a water bottle revolution.

 

Ooho Video via Fast Company

Water Bottles via Shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

Earth Hour 2014

What are you doing this Saturday March 28th at 8:30 pm? Are you doing something cliché like going out for a nice dinner and a movie?

Instead, how about joining millions of people from around the world by participating in the 8th annual Earth Hour, an event where you shut off your lights to express your concern for the environment and show support for planet Earth.

Earth Hour is the brainchild of WWF, the World Wildlife Fund. Earth Hour began in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, when 2.2 million residents turned off non-essential lights. Since then, Earth Hour has spread to 152 countries and is considered the largest symbolic mass participation event in the world. Last year lights were turned off in historic landmarks like Big Ben, the Taj Mahal, and even the International Space Station.

This year Spiderman will be acting as Earth Hour’s first superhero ambassador touting the motto “Be A Super Hero for the Planet”. The cast of the movie ‘Spiderman 2’ will be in Singapore to help the country turn off the lights at the Marina Bay Skyline and to celebrate the environmental grassroots movement.

WWF is also using Earth Hour to gain support and funds for their crowd funding projects from around the world.

Earth Hour is meant to be more than just an event where individuals turn off their lights for an hour and go their many ways. The Earth Hour website serves as a way for communities to get together and take care of the planet as one.

Light Switch via Shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

Don’t Know What To Do this Spring? How About Spring Gardening?

By: Guest Contributor, Aby League

Spring signals the start of a new life. This is the season for birds to chirp happily in the air greeting every living being, for flowers to start blooming and to grace the world with their beauty and fragrance. The spring season is when nature calls out to people to get closer to sceneries and greeneries. There may be a lot of outdoor activities to do at the first day of spring but why not start at your very own backyard.  Gardening should be at the top of everyone’s spring activities. It’s nice to wake up every morning with a beautiful garden to enjoy the spring season to its fullest. But gardening should not be taken lightly, it’s a good way to exercise and relieve stress and it is fulfilling to see the results of your labor. Fully pumped up with the idea of spring gardening but don’t know how to start? Well then, why don’t you take a look at these early spring chores that will definitely give your garden a jump start?

Image Credit: Four Seasons Garden, Flickr

Clean Up Your Yard

Spring gardening does not actually start at the very first day of spring. It starts even before spring season begins. Basically you start cleaning your yard to make way for your new plants and check. Tidy up flower beds and lawns by raking leaves and getting rid of debris. The leaves and debris can be put in a compost pile and combined this with perennial foliage.

Structures in your garden such as fences, decks, and gazebos for insect infestations or rotting and get them fixed immediately. This is also a good time to start weeding since the weeds are still young and their roots are still weak for easier pulling. You can also start surveying for possible pest problems. Once you have detected pests like a hornet’s nest or termite tunnel, take the proper measures in getting rid of them. Lastly, waterways should be checked. Make sure that all waterways are cleared from debris or any kind of blockage for the next spring. This is also the time to install water butts if you want. These should be placed under downpipes to gather all possible rainfall.

Make a Compost Pile

A compost pile or a compost bin is the combination of all the debris and the leaves that you got from cleaning. Cut branches shorter to speed up decomposition with grass clippings, weeds, perennial foliage, vegetable peelings, and paper and combine it with water. Keep on turning your compost regularly every time you add more to the pile before the start of spring. Continue doing this for the rest of the season so that you will have a compost pile for the next spring as well.

Get Seeds and Tools

Once you are done cleaning up your yard and visualizing your spring garden, it’s time to hit the net and search for spring garden ideas. Look for the plants that you want in your garden and the tools that you will need. You can look at blogs for tips and join forums to share ideas. Look for flowering bushes for spring. You might want to check out small flowering shrubs for your front lawn and flowering trees for your backyard or front yard.

Make sure that the plants that you will buy are ideal for spring gardening. You can also start sowing seeds that need a longer season like Geraniums and Begonias for early spring gardening. Early planting can also be done inside. Start in pots and just transfer them outside once the soil is already workable. But you can still stick with fast growing plants like Gold Forsythia, Tri Color Willow, and Rose Glow Barberry. As for the tools, check the tools that you have and note the ones that need some tuning and the ones that you are missing. Most importantly check your mower. Get the blades sharpen, have it tuned if needed, and refill its oil tank.

Start Planting

Choose a cloudy day to start planting. Before planting your seeds, make sure that you have already fertilized your soil. Sun loving shrubs are ideal for the spring season like Double Pink Knockouts, White Out Rose, Burning Brush, and Heavenly Bamboo Nandina for a colorful garden and some Fragrant Tea Olive, Sky pencil Holly, and Dwarf English Boxwood for some green to balance out the color. You can also choose to plant flowering trees that are ideal for spring like Eastern Redbud, Flowering Dogwood, and Rhododendron.

Now you can start with these spring gardening tips and enjoy the spring season. If you do such a good job with it, there might be a blue ribbon waiting for you.

 

About the Author: Aby League is a researcher. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and is currently taking her Master’s while working as a freelance writer and researcher. She is also an innovator and technology enthusiast. On top of all that, she’s a mother of two lovely kids and she also runs the blog AboutPossibilities.com.

by Editor

Green Future: Google Invests $1 Billion in Clean Energy

By: Guest Contributor, Hailey Robinson

There’s a tech company that’s concerned with green – and no, not because it’s the color of money. The Internet juggernaut Google has recently invested $1 billion in green, clean, reusable energy. It’s an investment that could change the way consumers and users access Google services, depending on how the company plans to utilize these new assets.

Read on to learn more about Google’s latest venture in renewable energy, why it did it, and what exactly it’s doing with this environmental technology. Hint: the answer might blow you away.

Google’s Clean Energy

 

Image via Flickr  by Timothy Tolle

If you haven’t guessed it by now, Google invested specifically in clean wind power — $275 million in Texas resources alone. In addition, Google heated things up by including solar energy resources in the mix. So, why did it do it? According to CNBC, “Google spent $2.25 billion on data center and infrastructure spending, a huge area of costs for the company. That’s one of the reasons the company is aggressively moving to solar, wind and other alternative energies to power its data centers and banks of servers scattered around the world.”

But its intentions aren’t solely rooted in saving money. However, it’s a huge bonus. Along with improving the environment, Google is slated to see a high level of energy efficiency that should offset some of its costs.

The Benefits of Alternative Resources

Environmental implications top the list of benefits for alternative resources; next is saving money; and then, finally, it serves as a sort of emergency backup. Emergency energy in times of extreme weather is exactly what tech companies need to stay operational and outlast the competition. With continuing dependence on “the cloud,” tech companies feel continuing pressure to back up their backups. The best tablets today use Google’s web applications. If these services fail, so does Google and the companies piggybacking on its success.

Blowing Away the Competition

Google won’t be the first or last company to make investments in green technology; however, its sheer number of financial resources ensures they’ll be at the top of the list for future clean innovations. And as long as they continue to take advantage of this technology, it’ll benefit financially. It’s a cyclical trend that increases its growth overtime.

It’s a trend that invites more consumers as well. It’s hip to be green, and Google isn’t colorblind. On its website, it notes: “We’re greening our company by using resources efficiently and supporting renewable power. That means when you use Google products, you’re being better to the environment.” Consumers are buying into the green investment just as much as Google.

A Job Growth Investment

While renewable energy in general hasn’t created the kind of job growth analysts had hoped, it’s possible that Google’s specific investments will create new jobs within the company. It adds an entirely new sector within the company that calls for qualified individuals to run and support the clean power.

While the numbers aren’t yet in on how many jobs it’ll create, it’s obviously opening up opportunities that weren’t within the company before. Any company, tech or otherwise, that expands its verticals is investing in job growth – whether directly or indirectly.

The Corporate Future of “Going Green”

With more and more tech companies being responsible for the state of our environment (re: e-waste and the carbon emissions from manufacturing plants), it’s high-time that more of these corporations took responsible measures to offset their output.

Google has set an unfortunate bar for smaller tech companies who may not be able to afford the somewhat expensive clean energy it uses. Likewise, consumers will increasingly expect that larger corporations with the resources to afford these technologies will adopt them.

Whatever you think about global warming and the environmental impact of carbon emissions doesn’t exactly apply. There are other uses for alternative energy, and Google is proving it one windmill and solar panel at a time.

What do you think of Google’s recent investment? How do you think tech companies could do more to improve our environment? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Hailey Robinson is a recent graduate with a degree in Journalism. Now that she isn’t face first in books she is trying to travel as much as she can. She writes in her free time between fixing up her new house and teaching people how to live a longer, healthier life.

by Editor

Getting Ready for Spring Cleaning (Part 2) : A Greener Recipe

Cleaning your home does not have to mean drenching your home in layer after layer of chemicals. Many household cooking ingredients can be used instead, which is better for your health and the environment.

Ingredients like vinegar have a high acidity that kills most mold, germs, and bacteria while baking soda neutralizes odors and acts as a scrubbing agent.

 

Below are some simple “recipes” for cleaning. Remember to use reusable wipes!

 

Glass/Window Cleaner

¼ Cup Distilled White Vinegar

1 Quart Water

Mix in Spray Bottle. Spray onto window then wipe off with newspaper or rag.

 

Floor Cleaner

4 Cups Distilled White Vinegar

1 Gallon Water

A few drops peppermint or lemon oil for scent (optional)

Mix in bucket then mop and let dry.  There will be an initial smell of vinegar but it will eventually dissipate leaving only the smell of the peppermint/lemon oil.

 

Tub and Tile Cleaner

1 2/3 Cups Baking Soda

½ Cup Vegetable oil based liquid soap

½ Cup Water

2 Tablespoons Vinegar

Combine ingredients in spray bottle or jar.  Shake well before using.  Apply with cloth or sponge. Rinse well.

 

Wood Polish

1 Lemon

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon water

Cut lemon in half and juice into a container. Add olive oil and water. Shake until emulsified. Pour on to cloth and wipe down furniture.  Unlike the other recipes listed this wood polish should be discarded after use because its ingredients are perishable.

 

For more green home recipes check out these sites!

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/20-diy-green-cleaning-recipes-141129

http://cuddlesandchaos.com/diy-green-cleaning-recipes/

http://www.mnn.com/your-home/at-home/blogs/how-to-make-green-cleaning-supplies

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=1073

 

green cleaning supplies via shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

16 Penny-wise Ways to a Weather-proof Home

By: Guest Contributor, Patricia Evans

With the horrendous weather condition in the United States, your house may be suffering from horrible leaks, faulty gutters, and even broken windows or doors. Normally, having these household problems brought about by extreme weather conditions would push homeowners to resort to temporary fixes leading to a rise in electricity bills and empty your pockets. With the emergence of energy efficient home designs in the market today, weather-proofing your home should not cost you a great sum of money.

 

Saving in style while weather-proofing your home should not be a problem. Here are some ways on how you can make your home conducive and weatherproofed to stay in besides the cold temperature while keeping the expenses on the low.

 

1. Create Your Own Heater

Having a home-made heater at home would save you a great deal of money. With the power of the Internet, various DIY projects are made available to save you money without sacrificing the fulfillment of your needs. Why don’t you try this one out?

 

Bring out a candle, tin can, a metal casing, and two flowerpots (one bigger than the other.) Light the candle inside the tin can and cover it with the small flower pot. Using the metal casing, one that is used as candle containers, cover the hole of the smaller pot. With the remaining larger pot, cover the smaller pot and let the heating begin. Heating should not cost you as much as it only involves proper science and a process of convection. With this DIY heating system, you’ll get all warmed up for the winter season.

 

2. Keep shades and drapes

Having shades and drapes at home is also another step to keep the heat at home while keeping the cold air out. Every morning, open the drapes to let the sun’s heat to come in and warm up the house. It is doubly important to keep the drapes down at night since it is when the temperature is colder.

 

3. Bring Your Plants Inside

Have indoor plants at home to induce the proper circulation of oxygen inside the home and keep moisture locked inside. With the amount of insulation brought about by the drapes and heater, plants could provide moisture inside your home while adding aesthetics to your home as well. If you live in an apartment or condominium, having plants at home through container gardening is an energy-efficient way to keep the moisture locked inside.

Photo courtesy of Nationwide Verandas

 

4. Decorative Curtain Insulator

Home experts reveal that windows are the largest avenues of heat loss since the material, glass, is a poor insulator. As such, covering the window is one of the most crucial steps towards a well-insulated home. Buying insulated curtains is necessary as they have a thermal foam backing system to keep your home warm and beautiful without the added cost. Unlike other heating systems, insulated curtains give dual functionality by contributing to an appealing and weather-proof home at the same time.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

5. All-weather Awnings

Aside from providing an extra room in your home, having awnings can help save energy while providing shade and insulation to your house as well. Some of the benefits of awnings includes having full-weather protection to your windows, doors, patios, or even provide insulation to your home when awnings are retracted. The dual function makes awnings a must-have for your home to help you maximize the space and keep your home weather-proof.

Photo courtesy of Nationwide Awnings

 

6. Solar panels

Installing solar panels at home will definitely keep your energy bills low and may even increase your property value. In the same light, modern technology nowadays offer waterproof solar panels which is useful during extreme weather conditions when you are forced to stay at home. Having a solar panel at home could reduce your bills since this could be utilized to heat your water and even your heater at home.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

 

7. Keep door draft stoppers

Draft stoppers are cost-effective substitutes to keep the draft from entering your home from the gaps between your floor and the door. At the same time, draft stoppers are helpful in locking the warm air inside the house.

 

8. Insulator blankets for your ducts

According to Energy Star, a 20 percent heat loss occurring in a typical house is due to the holes and leaks of the ducts. As such, you are wasting money that should have been used in insulating the duct work inside your house. You may also use an insulator blanket in your hot water to keep it warmer at a longer time.

 

9. Programmable thermostat

Programmable thermostat could save you energy and time at the same time. Acting as the brain of the heating and cooling system, programmable thermostats allows you to set four different temperatures each day for different days of the week. With this, you could manage the heating and cooling system even as you sleep. Though it may seem expensive, having a programmable thermostat is actually a good investment to have a home fit for the entire season.

 

10. Furnace filters

You have to change that furnace filter accordingly. Furnace filters allows you to filter the air circulating in your house. This helps eliminate the unwanted particles such as dust, pet dander, smoke, and pollens among others. Changing your filter every now and then does not force the system to work harder and cost more on your energy bill.

 

11. Regular checks of fireplace, chimneys, and wood stoves

Preparation would not cost you much compared to temporary and quick fixes for your home. Doing regular checks for your fireplace, chimneys, and wood stoves from debris like nests or a pile of leaves before entering the winter season ensures that you could keep your home heated and well-ventilated during the winter season. This would also ensure that you will have a working fireplace in cases when you need a heater in your household.

 

12. Clear out your gutters

By the end of fall, most leaves might have gotten stuck in your gutters and as you enter the winter season, this poses as a large problem. A clogged gutter means getting through the winter with a dirty and flooded roof. After the rain, you are sure to see molds, decay, stagnant water, and insects on your gutter. Moreover, your walls will be affected too as a result of your clogged drainage.

 

13. Fix leaky roofs, doors, and windows

Inspect your roof, doors and windows regularly, especially before the winter season. Check for stability, leaks, and even cracks. One can never be too sure with the strength of the weather which may wreak havoc to your home. Repair the leaks and holes immediately, but if replacements are required, make sure to do so instead of postponing and suffering the consequences afterwards.

 

14. Check your drainage systems

Check your drainage system for clogs as these are the usual causes of floods at home. Having your home prepared for floods keeps you comfortable through a rainy day. Run water through your drainage system and let all the debris is washed out.

 

15. Seal your attic and basement

While air gaps in windows and doors are proven to contribute to heat loss, the same may be applied to uninsulated basements and attics. Though this may cost a large amount of money, losing a great amount of indoor heat through these under insulated areas may force your heating system to work harder thus taking its toll on your energy bills. Adding foam as insulation to these rooms is enough to keep them properly sealed.

 

16. Weather stripping

You may also opt for weather stripping your doors and windows. One way to determine whether your have a possible gap or hole, where the draft may come in, is with a lighted candle. Move around the house with a lighted candle in your hand, if you notice the light flicker, then it is where the draft is in. Do take extra caution in using candles at home as this is a great source of fire.

 

Every home deserves the right care and insulation the same way as you deserve to keep your every penny well spent. Preparation is the key to a weather-proof home and choosing the right types and brands of insulators could help a lot in saving your money. Don’t settle for cheap materials, keep quality and cost at the same level of priority.

 

Patricia Evans is a Huffington Post UK blogger. Connect with her via Twitter.

by Editor

Getting Ready For Spring Cleaning (Part 1)

To be honest I have never been more excited about the coming of spring then this year. For those of you lucky enough not to live in the NY/NJ Metro area, you have been missing out on inches of soot colored ice that makes everything look dreary and wreaks havoc on the roads.  Even though spring won’t officially start until March 20, I would do anything to start spring early and be able to take a walk along my favorite nature path, even start my spring cleaning.

Spring cleaning is a great opportunity to get rid of unwanted clutter and unwelcome grime.  I have divided this topic of “Green Spring Cleaning” into 2 parts running consecutive weeks. Today’s article will cover green actions and tasks relating to spring cleaning and the next article will talk about  natural cleaning formulas.

Go Through Unwanted Clothes and Items and Donate Them

If you didn’t wear it the last 2 years you probably won’t wear it this year either. Instead of throwing the clothes out give the clothes a second life and donate to an organization like Goodwill or the Salvation Army.

 

Opt For Low VOC and VOC-Free Paints While Painting Your Walls

 

Paint products like Eco-Spec, by Benjamin Moore; Clarity, by Dutch Boy; Enviro-Pure, by MAB Paint; American Pride Paint; and BioShield Milk Paint are eco conscious alternatives.

 

Use Re-Useable Mops

 

Instead of buying a Swifter whose mop heads are disposable after only one use; instead use a old fashioned mop with a washable head.

 

Use Washable Cloths Instead of Disposable Paper Towels

 

Not only do dishrags absorb better then paper towels, using dishrags instead of paper towels also conserves trees.

 

Set Up a Clothesline to Dry Your Clothes

 

Though it might take a little longer than using a dryer, clotheslines are a great option for the spring and summer. Not only do you save electricity you would have used in operating a a dryer, clothes dried outside have a very clean yet nonchemical smell.

 

Use Natural Air Fresheners Instead of Synthetic Ones

 

Instead of having your home smell like an artificial cookie, use a plant. According to Studies by NASA, plants like the peace lily, spider plant, golden pothos, mother-in-law’s tongue, bamboo palm, ficus, pot mum, and gerbera daisy, have been shown to remove chemicals like benzene,  trichloroethylyne, and formaldyhyde from the air.

 

Don’t Forget To Recycle

 

Before you throw something out, check to see if it can be recycled.

 

Cleaning Supplies via Shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

10 Easy-to-Make Home Designs That Promote Sustainability

By Guest Contributor: Jona Jone

 

In a world where the environment becomes the capitalist of all human trade, a century-old debate continues to heat up – sustainability. Most of the resources we use at home are finite, and if we keep on using them; the future generations will have nothing left. That is why it is necessary for us to tap the other resources that nature provides in infinite amounts. Below are the 10 easy designs that you can use to gear your home toward sustainability. You do not just save energy but conserve energy in style.

1. Sustainable Landscaping

The quest for sustainability starts in our very home landscape. The easiest approach would be creating a compost pit to nourish our soil. Once the soil becomes healthy, we can start making vegetable patches where we can plant, grow, and harvest, fruits and vegetables of our own. Adding more trees will keep your home cool during the summer and will add more aesthetic value to our house is also a great plus.

2. Use Reclaimed Bricks

Bricks don’t just shrivel up and vanish. Most of them can last for decades and even centuries. So why use new ones if we can just gather old bricks from old homes and from already-demolished ones? Yes, there are old bricks gathered around town, and we can always have our local contractor piece the reclaimed bricks together to form house walls and apply artistic finish on its ancient surface.

3. Use Reclaimed Lumber

Trees that were uprooted and destroyed by storms and other natural disasters can still be treated and processed into a usable wood that can be applied to various home improvement projects. Wood from old chairs and other fixtures can also be reclaimed and refinished for newer purposes. That way, we can prevent the need for newer lumber, which also decreases our contributions in cutting trees down.

4. Employ Passive Design Approach to Cool or Warm Homes

Using a passive design approach in houses can significantly decrease the energy consumption for heating. It uses passive solar air to warm the entire house. According to various studies, buildings that use such design approach can mitigate their own energy consumption for a whopping 90 percent.

5. Build a Solar Water Heater

Building a solar-powered water heater of our own is one of the best things that anyone can do for sustainable living. It helps cut down energy costs, as it only relies on passive solar heat to keep water hot and well-insulated.

6. Use Low Flush Toilets

Unlike their ancient counterparts, the modern low flush toilets can save approximately four and a half gallons of water. This effectively saves a lot of money when it comes to water bills, and as far as I am concerned, saving money will always be something that I should do, on any circumstances!

7. Build a Rainwater Harvester

Rainwater can be used for bathing, cooking, and drinking. That is why it is important to save water by gathering rainwater for future use. Not only that it’s safe, it’s also free! Rainwater is also free from the contaminants that ground and surface water are always exposed to, and according to the Texas Water Development Board, rainwater can even exceed ground and surface water in terms of safety and quality.

8. Install Faucet Aerators

Faucet aerators add air to your faucet, thereby breaking the flow of water and turning it into droplets. This ingenious way of dispersing water allows to cover more surface area, which saves a considerable amount of water in any home. If you don’t believe me, even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency contends that installing faucet aerators is one of the best ways you can do to help conserve water.

9. Use a Higher Ceiling and awnings to improve ventilation

Hot air stays up. That is why it is necessary to keep our ceiling high so they can stay there during hot days. A window installed in the higher ceiling area will allow hot air to escape.  Installing an awning can be beneficial  too for giving protection both for rain and too much sunlight.  Such design will enable the free flow of air, which will decrease the need for relying in air conditioners. Ergo, lesser electric bills!

10. Use Greywater Storage Tanks

Greywater is what remains after potable water has been used for washing purposes. Though generally dirty, it can still be used to flush toilets and nourish the topsoil. Relying on greywater can also help reduce the need to extract more freshwater, which ultimately saves clean drinking water.

In this day and age, it is necessary for us to be aware of the things we could do to help make a difference. Remember, if everyone does their part, our collective efforts will accumulate to become a world-changing one.

House image via Shutterstock.

Jona Jone is a Washington Times Communities writer, strongly aiming to paint the world back in blue and green.

by Editor

As Entertaining as a Simulated Exploding Cow

I’m a big fan of Chipotle, but not for the reason you might think.  Many people love them for their beans and burritos, but I’m a bigger fan of their commercials which artistically question the sustainability of the industrial agriculture industry without resulting to shocking imagery like PETA. Chipotle’s ads have received a lot of positive coverage for both their message and their animation.

“Back to the Start” which came out in 2011 tells the tale of a farmer who starts who starts out as a small farmer but his farm eventually becomes industrialized (see below). “The Scarecrow”, which is also a promo for a app, came out last year and is about a “Scarecrow” who works in an industrial farm. The ads include haunting covers by Willie Nelson and Fiona Appel, respectively. Both commercials warn against industrialized farming and imply that Chipotle does better.

Though both commercials are meant to manipulate viewers into steering clear of unsustainable fast food giants like McDonalds and Burger King by instead choosing “small” businesses like Chipotle, the commercials also clearly send out the message that sustainability is needed in the farming industry. The commercials do not necessarily make the viewer want to go to Chipotle, but instead seem to encourage people to buy local from farmers markets. To some that might make the Chipotle Commercials unsuccessful, but as someone who has been watching animation since childhood I think the commercials are great.

The reason I am writing this article now is because last week while I was watching Hulu, I came across Chipotle’s new streaming television series, “Farmed and Dangerous”. Having some spare time, I decided to watch it. “Farmed and Dangerous” is a satire about the industrial farming industry focusing on the team responsible for protecting the industry’s image after a video is released online of a cow blowing up after being fed coal pellets.

Though the show is a farce, characters talk about real issues, like antibiotic use, land use, animal treatment, GMOs and the byproducts of industrial farming. The show is not Emmy winning quality but it’s entertaining and makes the viewer think.

Sustainability in farming is an important issue. Industrial farming not only forces animals to live in miserable living conditions but it also puts humans lives at risk. By keeping animals in overcrowded facilities “farmers” have to pump them with antibiotics, which put everyone at risk for antibiotic resistance. Chipotle has found a way to bring up this issue gracefully.

cow via shutterstock

by Maddie Perlman-Gabel

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