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  • Mark Piazzalunga

    DESERTEC project, Sahara Sun could power Europe by 2050

    By Mark Piazzalunga

    Sahara desert climate is hot and arid, everybody knows it. So how can this simple and well-known fact become the idea to power a continent like Europe? Let’s start from the principle: renewable energy is the future of energy; we assume that this sentence is true since all facts gets to this point. Second principle: European territory is restricted and allows the construction of a few plants that could use renewable energy. Paradoxically, countries like Africa have renewable sources, particularly solar, in abundance but scarce funds to make the best of these resources. Now find the connection. Is it possible to produce huge amounts of solar energy in Africa and transport them to Europe through energy infrastructures? Apparently yes, according to DESERTEC project developers and supporters. And what is DESERTEC? It’s an initiative of the Club of Rome (a global think tank that has its headquarters in Switzerland) started in 2009. Directly from the official website of the project (Desertec.org): "The DESERTEC concept was developed by a network of politicians, scientists and economists from around the Mediterranean, from which was born the DESERTEC Foundation. Demonstrates a way to provide climate protection, energy security and the development of sustainable energy generation from sites where renewable energy sources are at their most plentiful." In practical terms? Connect renewable energy power plants in Africa to Europe through a network of HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current) systems. The Foundation target is to build several renewable power plants of various types (mainly wind, photovoltaic and solar concentration) throughout North Africa. To support the project financially, the Foundation and other 12 companies (including Deutsche Bank, E.ON, RWE and ABB) created an industrial initiative: Dii GmbH. The construction project would continue until 2050 and for that date, the cost is estimated at € 400 billion, which means $ 546,720,000,000, approximately seven times Bill Gates’ fortune. It’s little bit expensive (life on Mars seems cheaper) but the entire network could provide Europe with the 15-20% of electricity that it needs. We must also consider the drastic decrease of pollution, direct effect of the project. This project isn’t just an idea but it seems an accurate and long-term plan. This could be an opportunity to connect two continents and to give them economic opportunities and jobs. There could be some problems like the wars and the instability of some of North Africa countries or how to get all 40 nations to agree to an arrangement for subsidizing the green electricity. There’s also the possibility to build the plants in Europe, just $ 54 billion more, and doing some math it brings to a shocking number: €2 per citizen per year to keep tens of thousands of jobs in Europe -- and to prevent Europe from becoming dependent on foreign countries for its electricity. Well, the project just started and it has the funds to go forward. We can't wait to see the results. Photo from Desertec.org
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  • Megan Bonetti

    Conferencing Climate Change: Teamwork or Tug-of-war?

    By Megan Bonetti

    India. Culture, cows and rubbish. As an Aussie living for a short time in India it is such an intriguing country. Indians love their diverse nation yet they use the streets like rubbish dumps. Even my friends here tell me it’s ok to throw my paddle-pop wrapper out the car window. I can’t… so I just hold it tight and wait till I get home. Growing up in Australia, those ‘emu hunts’ in primary school have willed my littering days away. Yet I suspect that even my household trash bin will just be dumped across the road for the cows to eat or worse still, burnt on the street…for the cows to eat. This is India. Love it or hate it. (#tii) As an Australian social worker volunteering with an NGO in Southern India I witness the large divide between the rich and poor of this incredibly colourful nation. I work with many children whose whole families have had to migrate from various parts of India due to the rapid effects of drought on their land and the significant urbanisation of major cities in the last 10 years. It turns out India has seen a boom in it’s industrial and technological trades a little later than it’s western neighbours and they are loving it. But India’s urban boom is threatened with westerners telling them they have to stop producing and polluting. The earth doesn’t like it. Sorry India…We made our big capitalist bucks, but you don’t get that chance. Just when things are getting good and you’re developing astronomically, your main source of energy is being taken away. It turns out fossil fuels are the cheapest form of energy for the developing world, especially as they try in earnest to develop the same standard of living as we have. So as one the most formidable countries in the developing world, India not only has the pressures of navigating a massive population but also has to figure out how to go green on the cheap. It’s interesting that the Turnbull government has reluctantly agreed on a 5% reduction in carbon emissions in the next five years. “Phew! Glad we got through that one boys.” They wipe their sweaty brows while developing countries are drowning, burning and trying to survive on scant resources. These countries are just trying to make a crust, while Eurocentric nations are slowly turning a baguette into organic multigrain sourdough (and throwing the crusts to their hobby cows). If the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris is truly the last attempt for international cooperation, leaders cannot just show and tell their contribution and sit back with folded arms. But how can mere human individuals promote serious teamwork? This brings me back to the children I work with here in India. Every day their parent’s lives are tied to corrupt building associations. They are bonded labourers—gypsies moving from construction to construction. These families have no hope of returning to their now desolate homeland and are not provided social security measures that protect their livelihood. Then there is India’s neighbour, low-lying Bangladesh, experiencing saltwater intrusion that poisons whole water supplies for entire villages. In our own backyard we see Australian farmers shooting all their cattle only to turn the gun on themselves under the shadow of unprecedented drought. This is human impact. Global warming is not just about penguins and polar bears. Climate change is a social justice issue. We live in a globalised world. The industrial revolution brought us here; and climate change is the consequence. No longer do we just neighbour cities, we neighbour nations. The leaders of Australia must be held accountable to all their neighbours including the ones just trying to keep their head above water. It simply won’t do for wealthy nations, such as Australia, to show the world their own country’s carbon reductions and sit back down. This summit can’t work as a set menu; it has to be a potluck dinner, a time for sharing, understanding and safeguarding. For the sake of our beautiful earth and the many diverse cultures of the human race, this time I hope and pray that the leaders of the world provide a resounding voice for the marginalised. This summit and our government must not stop at figures, but uphold the basic democratic and human rights principles that cradle modern society. The United Nations was created so that man-made and worldwide calamities could no longer grasp our world with such authority. Well, it turns out a world war with Mother Nature is knocking on our doorstep. Will we listen and respond? I hope so.   For more information please visit the below links. They offer great insights into climate change realities and are positive and accessible resources for engaging the conversation. The reality of climate change | David Puttnam | TEDxDublin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBjtO-0tbKU India: Climate Change Impacts http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2013/06/19/india-climate-change-impacts Climate Change and the End of Australia http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/climate-change-and-the-end-of-australia-20111003 The Critical Decade: Climate Change and Health (Australia) http://www.climatecouncil.org.au/uploads/1bb6887d6f8cacd5d844fc30b0857931.pdf GoPro: Climate Change and the Optimistic Future https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sT6jtTtsG_M Paris Climate Conference: COP21 Explained https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-qd8YCaoQ4 Why is the Paris UN climate summit important? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnztR5JllA4 Adam asks new PM Malcolm Turnbull on climate change in Question Time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqXtKt-Is54 Morgan Freeman's Powerful Climate Change Short Film https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YQIaOldDU8  
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  • Joseph Ramondeli

    Black Friday Promotes Over-Consumption and Waste

    By Joseph Ramondeli

    Black Friday Promotes Over-Consumption and Waste               Every year Thanksgiving weekend is overshadowed by Black Friday and in recent years Cyber Monday as well. Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time when families can get together, even if it’s just for a day or dinner, to talk and reconnect. However every year more American’s are focused on shopping. Stores are now open by 8:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day resulting in people sitting at the dinner table with their families while browsing on their phones for the best deals that they hope to buy in a few hours.  This is just another example of how our modern, technologically advanced society is constantly becoming more materialistic. Aside from Black Friday overshadowing an American holiday and tradition, it is an annual example of how Americans over-consume and by doing so are very wasteful.  A huge fraction of purchased goods during Black Friday and Cyber Monday are things that people don’t need, they are things they think they need. Advertisements and social trends play a big role in the impact of this event (I refuse to call it a holiday) and in our consumption behavior in general.             Companies are tricking and forcing us to buy un-needed goods through the use of planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence.  Planned obsolescence is disappointing because it refers to how companies purposely make products to only last a few years and by doing so force consumers to by new products from them every couple of years. The most common example of this is electronic devices. Apple creates a new IPhone every year so that once yours break “accidentally” there’s a brand new, more expensive one to purchase as a replacement. Not to mention that such companies stop making old models, forcing you to buy the newest model. On the other hand, perceived obsolescence is promoted by companies but ultimately results from our own social actions. Companies, through advertisements, constantly throw the promotion of new goods in our face. It’s almost impossible to go anywhere or do anything without seeing an advertisement of some sort. These advertisements tend to increase around the holiday season, hence the origin of Black Friday. The main reason such advertisements work is due to the social pressure we put on each other and ourselves. Everyone wants the next new model or brand and once a friend or family member purchases something then we are pressured and attracted to buying it as well. The biggest example of this is the fashion industry, where new trends come and go each season resulting in constant purchasing of new, unnecessary clothing. These companies are clearly getting the better of us based on the success of such events as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.             So why is over-consumption such a bad thing, why should we care if people waste there money on unnecessary goods? It’s simple: overconsumption leads to waste! One of the downfalls to the technological advancements of today’s world is that we create materials that cannot be found in our natural world. This means that when we throw something out in the garbage it will never decompose. Purchasing many of today’s consumer goods is bad enough because most cannot be recycled and will sit in landfills, but over-consumption takes this once step further in that we buy more than we need! We buy new clothes or new phones before our old ones are worn our or broken. By doing so we are creating more waste because we constantly thrown away products that are still functional and contribute the ever-growing amount of waste humanity has created on this planet. In order to help reduce the waste we create of course we should recycle and reuse as much as possible. However, I believe that the creation of waste should be stopped at its source, and that’s our consumer purchasing. Buying less and using goods to there fullest is a sure way to decrease waste. Resisting social pressure and advertisements is key to getting this accomplished. So next year put the phones away and turn the TV off at the dinner table during Thanksgiving, you don’t need them. Joseph Ramondelli  
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Our community blogs

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    There’s been a lot of back-and-forth about hybrid (HEV) and electric vehicles (EV) in terms of their benefits to the environment and their monetary benefits, which, to me, was a surprise. My initial thoughts were, “Well how could there even be a debate? Anything to start moving us away from our dependence on fossil fuels, especially our dependence on the oil industry.” My view was idealistic, and I’d say it hasn’t changed. In general it’s a good idea to move away from our irritable, messy oil neighborhood and into a cleaner place where we can breathe. But when buying a hybrid or electric vehicle there are some things to consider if you want to make the most environmentally-conscious decision.

    1. Where Do You Live?

    When buying an electric vehicle one of the main things to consider is where you live. If you’re buying one of the new plug-in electric vehicles, for example, the well-to-wheel emissions are going to differ based on your location.

    Well-to-wheel emissions are the total amount of emissions that result in the effort to power your car. If you’re like me, you live in an area where the majority (%49.61) of electricity is generated through burning coal.

    In this case if I were to buy a plug-in here the annual emissions (62 pounds of CO2) are going to be higher than if I bought a regular EV (54 pounds of CO2) or even a hybrid (57 pounds of CO2). So although that new plug-in might be appealing, the EV or HEV is going to be better for the environment.

    2. What About Your Wallet?

    In the case of hybrid vs fully electric cars there are some variable considerations as well. I checked out this article about the comparative difference in money saved over time, and the basic synopsis is that the fully electric vehicle is going to pay off the difference in price quicker than the hybrid will. By this, I mean a regular car costs less out of the gate, but over time the hybrid or electric saves you money on gas.

    Since you don’t have to pay anything for gas to power an electric, you’re going to make back the extra money you spent faster with an electric than you will with a hybrid. Those figures come from when gas was on average $3.52 per gallon.

    Now that the national average is $2.20 per gallon, my calculations (doing the same type of calculations as the article cited above) show that you would have to drive about 116 thousand miles to make up the price difference between the Nissan Leaf (EV) and the Toyota Prius (HEV), and that’s if gasoline’s average price remains at $2.20. So in this case the HEV is going to be less expensive, and, in terms of well-to-wheel emissions, if you live in a coal-powered area the Prius (HEV) will spew out 57 pounds of CO2 vs the Leaf’s (EV) 54 pounds. In the short term, that 3 pound difference might be enough to tip some scales toward the hybrid.

    3. In the Long Run?

    The EV is the way to go because of the recent regulations on coal emissions, which stipulate that plants have to cut their CO2 emissions up to 30% by 2030. That means EV’s will have to rely less and less on coal-generated power by 2030; if we can move further into an age of wind and solar energy, and as long as EV’s can run longer than 116 thousand miles, you’ll earn your money back and benefit the environment.

    But will consumers be able to look past immediate monetary factors and into the more distant future? The current gas prices make it easier for someone who’s strapped for cash to go out and purchase a high-performing 30 mpg vehicle like the Corolla for about $10K less than you’ll spend on the Leaf. And instant gratification is what got us into this climate change mess to begin with. So let’s hope the long-term benefits of the Leaf, as well as the $7,500 tax credit, can tip the scales as the 2015 auto-buying year plays out.

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    Modern times are difficult where every homeowner is trying to do their best to save some money. At

    such times, any effective solution is much appreciated. One of the ways in which you can save some

    money is through your utility bills. You can easily save on your electricity and gas prices if you compare

    energy rates offered by various companies and suppliers.

    A Quick Way to Compare

    While it is possible to compare energy rates manually by checking with the management of every

    company, there is an easier way to do things. The internet offers the easiest and the quickest method of

    comparison. The internet has definitely made our life much easier today and like everything else the

    internet also makes it simpler to compare energy suppliers and the rates they charge. This is definitely a

    great way to save some valuable time.

    There are several websites today that offer you easy options so you can compare energy rates offered

    by different companies at the same time. You will also be able to compare energy rates easily by

    providing additional information on the site like your utility bills. These websites allow you to

    understand how much money you would be saving if you switch over from your current company to the

    one that offers better rates.

    Taking Benefits of Promotions and Offers

    Since the competition level in the industry is quite high today, these companies always offer incentives

    in order to attract more customers. Sites that allow you to compare energy rates will also offer you

    information about ongoing promotions and offers so you can take benefit of these offers and save as

    much as possible according to your lifestyle and budget.

    Because of the UK open market, there is a healthy competition in the market today among various

    suppliers. Users today want to compare energy rates and want to find a company that is also reliable. In

    UK there are several reliable energy companies like EDF Energy, Scottish Power, E.ON Power and British

    Gas. These companies have official websites where you can get information about their offers and

    compare energy rates. However, the easiest way to compare energy prices is through a comparison site.

    Capped Rates

    When you compare different suppliers and their rates you should also ensure that you go for a company

    that provides capped rates. Capped rates mean that for a fixed time frame your utility rates will remain

    unchanged even if other factors change. In the long run this is a good idea since it will protect you

    against price hikes. However, for short term it is preferable to go for un-capped rates since you may not

    always get the same deals or offers later. When you compare these companies, it is advisable to check a

    few websites since these sites often have special offers of their own for their customers. With a little

    research and some time, you can easily compare energy companies and their rates and save a

    substantial amount of money each month.

  3. Hello Everyone!

    I'm a volunteer for TEXAS EDEN PROJECT, an agriculture program that not only grows organic pesticide free fruits and vegetables but also provides what is grown to the public for free. You can learn more about the project on it's website which is TexasEdenProject.org

    On this blog I will post updates about the project as well as information about farming and agriculture.

    Thank you for reading!

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    Employees of the Magor Brewery arranged a clean-up effort of the shoreline at Magor Pill and Caldicot to recognise World Environment Day.

    20 of the brewery’s staff joined the Keep Wales Tidy team to remove waste that had accrued at the site.

    The team was building on last year’s event which removed three skip loads of rubbish from local reens

    AB InBev, owner of the Magor Brewery, is dedicated to protecting the environment and praised its staff for participating in the clean-up.

    The manager of the Magor Brewery, Tony Monteiro, said his staff were delighted to be able to work with the Keep Wales Tidy tem for this event.

    Chris Partridge of Keep Wales Tidy said his team were very happy to work with the brewery staff too and said they had set a great example.

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    Did you know that there is more salt water on Earth than fresh. Only 3% of the Earth's water supplies is fresh water and only 1% is drinkable because the other 2% is ice. We use 70% of the drinkable water for farming, 22% for industry and 8% for drinking, washing, cleaning, watering and other home uses.

    The amount of water nowadays is exactly the same as before millions of years it just recycles and changes it's place which is also called water cycle. Which explains the growth of deserts today and the drastic change of the climate. The water you use today could be used from another person, animal or even dinosaur thousands of years ago. There's even a theory that there are little particles of the big bang in every living being on Earth nowadays. But it's just a theory you decide whether to believe it or not.

    If you are interested of the life of one drop of water you could study it's life through the years and what you would find is that: It's been 98 years in the ocean. Ice has been its home for around 20 months. It spent approximately two weeks in rivers or lakes and no more than a week as water vapour in the atmosphere.

    Water could be found not only as water. It has four forms: liquid, solid (ice), gas (water vapour) and plasma. Water supplies which are drinkable, we receive from lakes, rivers and dams. Even the bottled water is bore water which is mostly just packed in nice bottles.

    400 litres of water are being used from Australian households. This could be compared to the poor countries where people use no more than 20 litres of drinkable water each day.

    We consume water with our meal too. The food we eat contains embodied water. The amounts are more than you've ever imagined. For example: to produce dinner for four in Australia for just a single day it's being used around 25,000 litres of fresh water. There are products that require a huge amount of drinkable water for its production.

    Did you know that it's being used 2,400 litres of water in the production of a bar of chocolate. To grow an apple you need 70 litres of water. There are many other shocking examples but I think these were enough to imagine the importance of water in the production of food.

    When being just born, the baby's body is 80% water. When we grow up and get older the levels of water reduce in our organism but they are still up to 65% water. Even the human bones contain water. They are about 25% water. The most interesting fact is that our brain is 80% water.

    There is a huge amount of people who have no access to clean water, which is extremely sad because the statistics show that every minute child dies from drinking dirty water.

    The bad reality is that 90% of sewage drains into streams and rivers from which we get water supplies for drinking, washing, cleaning and other home needs.

    There is always an option to do something good for our planet. We just need to develop some habits like stopping the water after watering out teeth brush or while shaving. We could take shorter showers. We can reduce chemicals we leave in the water by using (or hiring  home cleaners that use) more eco-friendly cleaning products instead of these commercial dangerous detergents. All these habits must appear in our early childhood year and that would be a great opportunity for a better future.

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    When it comes to the whole problem with the global warming, sooner or later everyone will realize that we have to do a lot more, even individually, to prevent a major catastrophe that is about to happen. But when it comes down to it, we are a particularly lazy species, and even though we are faced with inevitable threat, we are not so quick to make all the needed adjustments. For example, even switching from simple increscent light bulbs to a fluorescent kind has not happened everywhere around the world, which means that somewhere, people are spending energy inefficiently.

    It might sound funny, but that is just a small example of how small things can influence the bigger picture. When it comes to taking care of our gardens, there are many thing we are still doing wrong. We spend too much chemicals and pollute the soil, we use excessive amounts of water, or the total opposite – we simply don’t care about our gardens. But, what can be done to truly create an eco-friendly garden? We’ve made a few notes for you to remember.

    1. Do Not Be Wasteful

    This is what being green is all about. Just look at nature, nothing is wasted there, everything has its purpose, and once nature is done with it, it is used again and again, in one form or another. Humans, on the other hand, are not as clever. Humans throw away so much food each year with which we could easily solve world hunger once and for all. The clear solution to this is to think about everything that you do and eat more carefully; the next time you see a banana go brown, do not throw it away – use it to make compost, and all the kitchen scraps can be used for that purpose as well. Composting is adding nutrient rich humus that plants would later use to grow and develop. This is also done to restore depleted soil so that it returns to its normal state.

    2. Do Not Be Harmful

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    The next important thing to know is that you should try and do no harm to the existing ecosystem that already exists in your garden. Sure, you are going to arrange it the way you want it to look, but do not use chemicals or other kinds of unnatural fertilizers that can pollute nearby water, rivers and ultimately – oceans, and even damage the plants that naturally live there. Pesticides and herbicides, usually do more harm than good, and there is certainly a better way to achieve weed-free garden – use your hands and physically remove them. By creating this eco-friendly habitat, you will create a suitable place for many organisms to live and thrive, both under and above the ground.

    3. Eco-Friendly Can Be Pretty Too

    Once you’ve prepared everything, you will need to carefully select the plants that you will use for your garden. The best thing would be to use native plants and flowers, because those are already accustomed to your type of climate and specific regional conditions. They will require less care and water to grow, while they will be beneficial for the local habitat. Plant a tree – it will not only produce oxygen for you, but it will also provide you shade, housing for the birds, and not to mention a few tasty apples if you choose to plant an apple tree. Use natural pebbles or rocks or other kinds of decorative aggregates for additional aesthetic effects, as they can create walkable paths and emphasize certain areas, creating the effect you want.

    4. Water with Care

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    Water is an especially touchy subject, especially if you are used to turning on the garden sprinklers whenever it is too hot outside. Remember that some regions of this world are still struggling with clean, drinkable water, and you are wasting it. Altering your habits might save a lot of water, especially during hot spells in the summer. More compost the soil has, the more likely it is to keep all the vapor inside, and prevent further evaporation. Soaker hoses use much less water than sprinklers during the summer and provide you with the same results, as each and every drop is directly transferred to the ground, without having time to be evaporated by sun or carried away by wind. Having an eco-friendly garden is not hard as people might think, and the effect it will have is small, but if everyone does it – it will quickly add up.

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    In a culture that recycles over 150 million metric tons of metallic materials each year in the US alone, one cannot honestly say that there is no recycling effort taking place. Yet, many people are not aware of the many benefits that can be derived from a comprehensive effort to clean up the environment. Our article below covers several direct benefits produced today by scrap metal recycling operations across the US.

    Economic Reasons

    The US scrap metal recycling industry in 2008 resulted in the creation of more than 85,000 jobs and $86 billion being generated in revenue. That same year, the US exported roughly 44 million metric tons of scrap commodities that resulted in a more balanced US trade economy. Production of everyday items such as staples, paper clips, fasteners, jewelry, tools, city infrastructures and elements of buildings themselves all make up the scrap metal industry.

    Today, the industry is not only good for the environment, but it's good for business as well. Over 450,000 new jobs were created within the last three years at a time when the economy appeared to be in dire straits. Best of all, they were high quality, good-paying jobs that fed money back into a fragile and stagnant economy.

    Energy/Natural Resources

    Producing metals from virgin ore is an expensive process--both naturally and economically. However, the recycled scrap metal process not only reduces the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, but it also helps preserve the earth’s precious natural resources.

    For instance, using recycled material saves up to 92 percent aluminum, 90 percent copper and more than 56 percent of steel stockpiles. Moreover, the recycling of just one ton of steel preserves more than 2,500 pounds of iron, 1,400 pounds of coal and more than 120 pounds of limestone. In addition, one ton of recycled aluminum helps conserve 8 tons of bauxite ore and 14 megawatt hours of electrical energy.

    Ecological/Environmental Benefits

    In a concentrated effort to preserve the ecological system, one cannot stress enough the importance of having a comprehensive program for recycling of scrap metals. Being that scrap metals are as usable, malleable and less expensive to produce then virgin material, it’s crucially important to have professional recyclers do the taxing work of removal and recycling according to General Recycling Industries Ltd., one of the many Edmonton scrap yards.

    All things considered, there are no valid reasons for not recycling scrap metals. The scrap metal industry consistently proves itself as being cost effective for those involved inside the industry and outside of it. But more importantly, as the obvious stewards of earth’s resources, scrap metal processing just may help avoid a possible future ecological disaster.

  6. Murray

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    There is no doubt that snakes serve an important part in our ecosystem, especially with regards to keeping populations of rats and mice under control. However, there are situations where you wish to restrict the areas they can access, such as chicken coops, dog pens, aviaries and backyards frequented by children. It is therefore important to limit their access in a way that do not harm them or the environment. Several methods of discouraging snakes are being bandied around various forums with everything from old-wives tales to innovative technologies. This post aims to discuss the various options and their effectiveness.

    Keeping it short

    Keeping the grass short is a frequent advice to limit snakes, as the snakes do not like to be out in the open, as they are exposed to flying predators. However, during the warmer months, snakes desperate for water can easily venture over short grass, dirt and paved areas, attracted by the pets’ water bowls.

    Snake Fencing

    As Australia is heading into snake season with the warmer weather, Murray Stewart, owner of The Fencing Store has noticed a significant increase in enquiries for snake proof fencing mesh as people are taking precautions to protect pets, livestock and children from the slithering animals. Murray recommends a fine 6.5mm or 9.5mm square wire mesh that will keep most snakes out as long as the fence is constructed in the right manner. On his website, Murray has added a blog post about a customer who created a snake proof fence for their beloved dogs.

    Setting up snake proof fences is undoubtedly one of the best ways to keep snakes away while not harming the environment, as it keeps the snakes free to roam outside the fencing while not harming them.

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    Naphthalene

    This falls under the old-wives tale category. I read regular forum posts advising to use naphthalene as snake repellent. Naphthalene is an ingredient in mothballs, and it’s scent is supposed to repel snakes. Naphthalene is also a toxic substance as covered on epa.gov. It is not recommended to place this substance out in nature, where it can be ingested by wildlife and cause terminal damage. Besides, studies show that Naphthalene is ineffective in repelling some snakes in the first place.

    Vibration

    Most snakes are wary of humans and larger animals, and sense our presence by the vibration our footsteps make when moving around. If awake, this vibration normally results in most snakes evacuating the area. Dogmaster.com.au retails a solar-powered snake shield, which in effect is a stake that emits a vibrating pulse into the ground, which should deter the snakes without hurting them or the environment. The only negative, is that it might repel the snakes from your shed as well, leaving rats and mice to roam free.

    Liquid snake repellent

    Liquid Fence have created a liquid and granular snake repellent that according to their website works by emitting a scent that “confuses and irritates the snake’s chemosensory systems”, making them look for another place to inhabit. The website further claims that the product is all natural, but at the time of writing, I have not had the opportunity to test it out, so I cannot cast any judgement on it.

    Conclusion

    For permanent areas, I recommend setting up a snake proof fence to keep snakes out. The vibrating snake shield would be a great investment for portable applications, such as camping trips.

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    The refrigerator is the most energy consuming appliance in the kitchen. It works night and day, 24/7/365 and without it in optimum condition your food and beverages would spoil.

    It is an essential part of staying alive and making sure your hard earned money isn't wasted on spoiled food. That being said, to keep the refrigerator going calls for lots of energy but there are ways to conserve on energy usage with your refrigerator. All it really calls for is some simple common sense and light maintenance.

    First of all, keep the coils clean. Use a vacuum cleaner to keep dust and debris from building up. That will allow the unit to operate at peak efficiency and not overheat.

    Next, place the fridge with enough room around it, perhaps a couple of inches minimum so that air can flow around it and the unit can pull in that cool air and expel the warm air. This avoids buildup of dust and debris and won't strain the mechanism.

    Don't put hot foods in the fridge. It makes it work harder. Instead, let foods cool on the counter or stove to room temperature and then put them in.

    Leave space around foods regarding the walls of the fridge. A good inch is fine. This allows for the cool air to get around the foods and beverages and cool them faster and more efficiently.

    If you can, place the refrigerator near a wall that is facing the outside. Cool walls allow for cooler operation unless you live in a very warm or hot climate.

    The same goes for warm or hot appliances. Don't place the refrigerator near these devices. It strains the usage.

    Try an energy efficient light bulb inside. There are plenty of them on the market so you can easily find one that fits the fridge.

    Keep the freezing compartment defrosted. Do this regularly as needed. Too much ice in there will put a strain on things. It also means that you'll have more room to store things as well. Ice buildup is not a good thing.

    Don't leave the door to the fridge open too long. You'll defeat the purpose of it. Keep it closed even when pulling out several items.

    These and other common sense actions will mean your unit will work at optimum levels and not put too much a drain on your energy resources. Keeping the proper refrigerator maintenance means the unit will last long after its warranty and you'll get service your hard earned dollar deserves.

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    In the beginning of its outset, Movember was a small movement founded by a couple of men in Adelaide. They came up with the name of the charity event over a pub gathering and soon decided to turn their quirky idea into reality. They started small, later on adding more men from Adelaide and other big Australian cities to the so called “Movember Committee”. Their idea was to raise money and bring awareness about men’s health problems along with helping other non-profiteers such as RSPCA.

    Not long after the dawn of Movember, the event kicked off quickly today reaching thousands of men throughout the world. It has since raised more than $174 million after joining South Africa, Europe and North America. For its nation-wide popularity, the Movember movement thanks its supporting community at the official website and throughout the world. With the help of guys such as Tom Rickard ( last’ years Man of Movember ) and smaller companies who try bringing the event to people’s attention, the movement manages to reach more and more people each year and raise money for health research programs.

     

    Each and every voice helps bringing the cause to the crowd. The fastest way of supporting the idea is donating to the official website. Along with that, men are encouraged to grow their own mustache and use it to start conversations about the importance of the whole project. Women are able to help, as well, trying to raise awareness amongst family, friends and colleagues. And even tho Movember is all about mo's, not overall facial hair, some creative individuals have managed to bring the cause to their community through rather more abstract ways. But then again, the previously called November, aims to bring men's health to people's attention and any form of help is of an essence. The guys at the official website have seen all sorts of mo' bro teams having registered as fund raisers. Along with the bros, even company teams are welcome to the crew. The Paul's Sydney Cleaning team, for example, has came up with a bunch of fun, engaging posters aiming to use the power of visual content to engage the audience. Here are some of them:

    We all have different approaches towards engaging our friends and family and the diversity is what makes our attempts alive and evolving. And even though women are not the center of this movement's cause, they are the base of its development. Without the support only a wife, sister or girlfriend can give a man, raising awareness of the Movember cause would be much harder. The future of the prostate cancer medical researches depends on us and if we don't join forces in fighting for our health, no one will.

    Are you ready to make the first step into creating a better world? What would be your approach towards raising awareness this November? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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    Nearly everything we do in life emits carbon in one form or another. Whether it’s the green house gasses produced from our cars, the electricity we use for our homes, or the planes in the air that transport people around the world.

    Your carbon footprint is the overall amount of green house gas emissions that are produced by an individual, organization, event or product

    With this in mind there is a way to reduce your personal carbon footprint by just switching from plastic to more renewable kids toys.

    When you start being conscience of your carbon footprint you’re helping move our country & world to a better, healthier and safer place to live.

    Now you might be thinking what has this got to do with my kids toys?

    You probably know that all plastic is bad because it takes thousands of years to decompose. But what you may not be aware is much of this same plastic ends up in our oceans. As a result this forces local fish species to move or die. Worse yet the plastic also leaks chemicals into the water, which changes the pH level.

    And if you’re one to enjoy eating fish, then purchasing plastic kids toys increases your potential of consuming plastic yourself. Because small sea animals ingest this “wasted” plastic, and fish eat those animals and we eat those fish!

    Even if some plastic toys are reused, not all kids toys are recycled. So most will simply end up in landfills. As a result, the decomposed plastic gets in our soil, which harms plants and animals.

    Additionally these same plastic toys are responsible for water and air pollution because they leach hazardous toxins into the air and water.

    So to help reduce your carbon footprint, opt for renewable kids toys, which are crafted from natural, sustainable, biodegradable and/or recycled materials.

    Some of theses toys could include:

    • Cubby Houses
    • Big basket of books
    • Wooden stacking rings and blocks
    • Soft rag dolls instead of barbie
    • Puzzles and shape sorters
    • Wooden dollhouses
    • Wool felt toys
    • Organic cotton soft toys
    • Wooden musical toys
    • ABC Blocks
    • And much much more

    So next time you consider purchasing your kids toys, opt for ones that are made from recycle materials such as renewable grown timber, cotton or even wool. You’re not only reducing your carbon footprint but also surrounding your child with natural toys which are safe and have been made ethically and in an environmentally conscience way.

    As a result you’re teaching your child at a young age to value the beauty of a natural world.

    So the question is, will you purchase renewable kids toys now you know the affects it has on the environment?

  9. Obesity is a common and costly disease in America. The Center for Disease Control estimates over one third of Americans are obese which is defined as having a BMI of over 25. This third of Americans also cost our healthcare system an additional $147 Billion in 2008.

    The best way to lose weight and improve your health is through a combination of diet and increased physical activity which always should be started and managed under a healthcare providers supervision.

    Ways to improve your diet

    Simplify – Avoid diets that require complicated recipes or including more than 5 ingredients per meal. Remember KISS – Keep It Simple Silly.

    Track – Track to a level that provides you feedback on what you are eating. If you are detailed orientated, consider a diet diary app to calculated your daily intake down to the calorie. But if that’s not your style, use a simple tracking system like these so you know if you are having more good eating days or more bad eating days.

    Improve basic nutrition – An effective diet will need to restrict your calories by about 10% so eliminate any empty calories first so you don’t notice the reduction.

    Ways to improve your physical activity

    Make a schedule – And stick to it. One of the biggest challenges in working out is recovering from a missed workout. You are significantly more likely to miss a second and third workout if you miss the first planned workout. From the beginning, make a realistic schedule that fits your daily demands so you can set yourself up for success and positive reinforcement from consistently working out as you planned.

    Get a workout buddy – If you are highly social or are motivated by not letting a friend down then consist a workout buddy as they motivate both types of character traits. In addition, a partner can provide peer advice and words of encouragement to keep you on track.

    Pick activities you naturally enjoy – While variety is great, consistency is more important. Research has shown that learning a new cardiovascular exercise increases your risk of skipping future workouts while people who pick one favorite workout such as running or spin are more likely to continue working out.

    Fighting through mixed results

    It’s extremely common to try and to fail a few times. Don’t get discouraged and learn each time from what worked and what didn’t go so well. If you have managed to meet your weight loss goal but still are discouraged by a few ‘trouble spots’ where the fat seems to linger, you are not a lone. There are 3 places that personal trainers report seeing toning problems.

    1. Cheeks
    2. Neck
    3. Back of Arms

    The best way to tone all of these classical trouble areas start with improving your diet and increasing your cardiovascular active. However, once you reach a BMI under 25 and still have negative body images of yourself, you may want to find specific ways how to get rid of chubby cheeks or how to lose neck fat. The best specific strategies include adding highly targeted stretches and small movement strengthening exercises. These ultra targeted activities will NOT burn the fat from the specific area but you will be able to tighten the muscles in the trouble area which will help naturally hide the fat with tighter muscles.

    References

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    Most business owners have been put off by the idea of environmentally friendly business. It sounds expensive, it sounds like a lot of work and they believe that business has no benefits from switching to green practice. All these reasons not to “go green” are common misconceptions that have nothing to do with reality.

    As a matter of fact, making your business green help both your business and the environment. This practice contributes to your employees’ health and well-being, increases productivity, reduces your company’s bills and saves you a large sum of money.

    Let’s see 5 most affordable and efficient ways to make your business green.

    1. Switching to compact fluorescent and LED lights

    Although compact fluorescent bulbs cost more than incandescent bulbs, they are the easiest way to switch to a more energy efficient home and office. If you use them on a regular basis, you can expect visible money savings. Compact fluorescent bulbs last up to 12 times longer than incandescent bulbs and use much less energy.

    Although LED lights haven’t been popular due to their high price and narrow light beam, the development in LED technology has solved these issues. Today, they are the most cost-effective bulbs and soon, they will be even more popular than compact fluorescent lighting. Also, they do not contain toxic substances such as mercury.

    2. Recycling and reusing

    In the office, most people just toss their papers and plastic cups into a trash bin, without even thinking about reusing them. Do not let this happen again - ask around whether your community has a recycling program and encourage your employees to think green. Designate a “reuse” area where the employees would check in before ordering new supplies.

    Introduce additional green measures, such as: reusing envelopes, refill pens, tape dispensers, cardboard boxes and other office supplies when possible. Always purchase recycled ink cartridges, recycled paper products and used office furniture. Stop using paper and plastic cups and use porcelain mugs instead. You’ll see – the savings will be dramatic.

    3. Going paperless

    You can make your business almost completely paperless, in just several easy steps. Investing in the right technology may be expensive at the beginning, but it will surely pay off later. Buy a multifunctional device for your office, such as a photocopier which can fax, scan and print documents.

    Inspire your employees to use all advantages of web-based applications. Most of them are free of charge (basic accounts). They allow team members to communicate with each other, share files, take notes and track different phases of projects (Basecamp, Trello, Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive and so on).

    Also, it would be wise to hire transcription experts to type all your recorded business meetings, delivering them via email or any other means of file transfer.

    4. Using green cleaning products.

    After the working hours, most offices are thoroughly cleaned and vacuumed. Unfortunately, most of the products which are used in the process are toxic to both people’s bodies and the environment. Even seemingly harmless products that are used by the employees (dish and hand soaps, bathroom fresheners etc.) may be harmful if they are full of cheap and aggressive ingredients.

    Think about your employees ’ well-being – switching to green products will result in their (and your) improved health, less allergic reactions and better working conditions. Buy biodegradable and organic cosmetic and cleaning products that reduce exposure to toxic ingredients. There are lots of stores that sell such products and they are not necessarily more expensive than the regular ones.

    5. Installing water recycling system

    Plastic bottles of water may be recycled - but why generate such a waste? In the US alone, there were 32 million tons of plastic waste in 2011. Only a part of such huge waste can be recycled. The other part that can’t be recycled still poses a great threat to the environment.

    If you don’t want to partake in such terrible pollution, don’t buy bottled water for your employees - install a water filtration system in the office instead. The water in the office will be clean and fresh. More importantly, your business will save a significant amount of money as you are doing a good deed for the environment.

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    So summer has officially arrived in Australia and it’s getting hot! While it may seem like the easiest option to stay cool is to crank your aircon, it might not be the most cost effective way, and definitely not the best for the environment. Even with carbon tax gone, energy is still costing an arm and a leg. So to save you money during the next few months I have include 8 low-cost ways to keep your home nice and cool.

    Install Blinds or Shades

    If you don’t already have blinds or shades installed on your windows, consider doing that this summer. By shutting your blinds and curtains during the day you will help block the sun’s heat from warming up your home.

    Let The Cool Evening Air In

    During the night the weather tends to be much cooler. If this is the case where you live, make the most of these refreshing hours by opening your windows a few hours before you sleep. Be sure to close your windows and blinds the next morning to stop the heat from letting in.

    Close Your Windows

    Close your windows during the day may seem counterintuitive but this will stop the heat from warming your home. When you shut your windows and close doors to unused rooms you will find your home feeling much cooler. Don’t forget to reopen them at night to allow the nice cool night air in.

    Install Awnings To Keep The Sun Away From Your Windows

    Awnings can save you money on energy bills by cutting down on the heat your house absorbs. Not just this but also provide shade to outdoor areas giving you invaluable protection from sun and heat exposure. By shielding your home from the sun’s rays, you’ll cool your home down and have the option of enjoying refreshing time outdoors without overheating.

    Turn off lights When Not In Use

    Incandescent lights may produce a lot of lighting but they also put out just as much heat. This means by substituting your incandescent lights with cooler light emitting diodes (LEDs) or compact fluorescents (CFLs), you will be able to not only save energy but also keep your home cooler.

    Set Your Ceiling Fans to Rotate counter-clockwise

    When you use your fans strategically you will find they do a great job cooling your house down without the need for your AC. When it comes to your ceiling fans ensure it’s running in the right direction, counter-clockwise. You want to feel the breeze from your fan blowing down. This will help keep you cool during sleep time. And remember a ceiling fan cools people, not your room so switch it off when no one is there to save energy.

    Do your laundry, ironing and cooking during cooler parts of the day

    When using appliances that give out large amounts of heat you will find it won’t take long for your home to get really hot and stuffy. To save using the aircon, try doing your laundry, ironing and even cooking in the cooler parts of the day. Especially if your have a gas stove, try grilling your food instead or simply make meals that don’t require cooking like salads, sandwich’s, smoothies and juices. Additionally you can even consider cooking bulk meals or large quantities of grains once a week to save time throughout the week and reduce your need to cook during the day.

    Consider a few long-term improvements

    If you’re sick of paying so much money from running your aircon it might be worth to invest in longer-term adjustments to keeping your house really cool during summer. Some of these include installing insulated window films and attic insulation/fanning. You could also plant tress strategically to stop the sun beating down on your home.

    Bottom Line: If years ago our ancestors could survive without aircon than we definitely can as well. Just think smart and you’ll be able to keep nice and cool this summer without spending much money at all.

  12. Eco-friendly changing of your habits

    Every person counts. This is not only the case when it comes to elections, but when it comes to something far more serious, like saving the planet we live on. Whenever you think you are just one person and your deeds don’t really count much, think about this: “Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.” Like Ghandi put it, if you chose to think differently today, you can influence the others tomorrow, and maybe it’s your destiny to eventually make a crucial change. After all, it’s in your best interest.

    Transportation alternatives

    Try to imagine yourself riding an eco-friendly car. If you’re not in situation to invest into one right now, consider switching to compressed natural gas. It is way cheaper and it will save your environment from bad vehicle emissions. Also, you can walk more or ride a bike. This way, not only will you be in better shape, but you will also save money.

    Saving energy

    The world is energy deficient. Making enough energy for all people directly affects of pollution. Unfortunately, people are not aware of the fact that turning off even one lamp can be significant. Turn around while reading this and check if we were right. At least one device is unnecessarily turned on, we’re betting on it. Take first step in order to help your planet and turn it off. Were we wrong? Congratulations. You already have a high level of conciseness. So what else you can do to save the energy loss? You can switch to LED lights or even consider making your own energy investing in solar panels.

    Recycling

    This is another way to act ‘green’ and keep earning money. Different materials have different recycling prices. For instance, metals like aluminum and copper are the most expensive. Glass is a lot cheaper while paper and plastic are the cheapest. If you have huge amounts of these materials and don’t know what to do with them, here’s an opportunity to get rid of it – recycle! However, if you will still be needing it but you have nowhere to keep it, consider investing in container shelters.

    Cultivation of organic food

    Did you ever consider planting some agro cultures in your own garden? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to harvest a cabbage, carrots or radishes that you grown? Eating more organic vegetables and less meat will make you feel healthier, stronger and happier. But, it’s even better thing to know that you’ve help your planet by saving energy for its production. Therefore, you increased pollution too.

    Become and stay ‘green’

    If you’re involved in media or politics use your influence to contribute to the better future of our planet. It will only take a few minutes from your day, but to someone else it would mean a lot. Remember that you owe it to your kids, because they are stay on Earth, after you’ll gone. Imagine a place where you would like to leave your offspring, and fight for it.

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    Concrete pools are the ideal type of swimming pool Melbourne. You can also add an addition space for sunbathing, for entertainment, and just relaxation, in your swimming pool. These types of pools have more advantages when we compare it with the other types that are used these days. This concrete pools are strong, long lasting, and gives good functional value to the swimming pools. The concrete is the most general substance which is used in the construction process of the in-ground pools. You can get a varied option to choose from in this type of construction; the most important feature is that people can design their pool according to their need and the customized designs. The process of the construction will take 4 to 5 months, and the charges of the pool’s building may depend upon the constructor, your choice of designs, the standard, and also the finishing style.

    Below mentioned are some benefits and drawbacks of the concrete pools, they include:

    Benefits:

    · Design flexibility: As powerful and continual as concrete happens to be, this building content has long been described for its extreme flexibility for design. The developer of concrete private pools will allow for unique, customized design features, such as unusual ends, disappearing boundaries, islands, separated levels and many more such things.

    · Strength: Concrete is known for its sustained strength, and this is the reason why people go for concrete pools in Melbourne. When tangible private pools are established, they are shored up using wood and metal. Then the outcome is magnificently constructed pool that will hold up for decades. While the tangible share development process will take a longer period due to its complexes, the completed product can be one that is truly a specially designed work of art that is intended to last for a life time

    · Beauty: Concrete pools present buyers the benefit of just about any surface that they want. Concrete can be completed with stones, variety glass, vinyl fabric, flooring, ceramic tiles, paint and a mass of other equipments. Although the pool configuration on the floor will be made of strong, sustained concrete, but the outer area can take on just about any look possible.

    Drawbacks:

    • A high lifetime cost: Concrete pools will need to be remodeled every 10-20 years. This includes restructuring and re-tiling the pool at a cost of $8k-$15k or much higher based on material used.
    • More chemical use: Because the surface area of tangible private pools is very permeable, more substances and purification are required to prevent plankton. This also involves a lot of chemical usage for the purification of the water which prevents the users from falling sick or catching any allergies from the water.

    • More maintenance: Concrete pools also need to be frequently boomed or taken with a sheer sweep to eliminate plankton from the floor or the total surface.
    • Longer install time: Concrete pools, take longer to set up....usually 2-4 months.

    Regular servicing also includes keeping the surface clean. As, with any tangible accumulation from fungus can cause pool, and the outdoor patio areas to become slick. Periodic power cleaning or light cleansing with a light soap will eliminate any dust build up and will ensure that your pools are clean and safe.

    The professionals for the concrete pools in Melbourne will be able to offer you expert advice while in the construction process, and will do the work in stages. When you consider the above mentioned points you will be in a best place to decide on what you need to go for.

    Above mentioned details intended to reader who are seeking for information about concrete pools. Click here for more information which may give you few more idea.

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    How much do you know about Mt.Davidson? Besides being the highest point in California and one of the original Seven Hills there is so much more to this interesting feature that will definitely intrigue you. It is also one of the 44 hills in San Francisco. This is just the basic stuff. Do you know anything about the origins, how it got its name? Well, this one is for you.

    The mountain was given an honorary name after George Davidson, then Chief of the US Coast & General Survey’s Pacific Operations. He was also a scientist, and one of his notable projects was commissioning an astronomical observatory on the West Coast. Click here for more facts

    Hiking

    The mountain is at 125 Dalewood Way. The 0.44 mile distance marks an interesting hiking experience for hikers, the distance to the top of the hill. The trailers are usually graded properly though from time to time you might find them slightly overgrown with vegetation. It is an incredibly easy hike all the same.

    In terms of the exposure, the trail is characteristic of lots of shade and a little sun here and there, moderate traffic and dirt trails. It should take you roughly one hour to make the hike. One of the best things about hiking on Mt.Davidson is that you can basically plan your hiking at any time, any season, though it is open between 6 in the morning and 10 in the evening. On the brighter side for pet lovers, you are allowed to bring your dogs with you.

    Tourist attraction

    The lush greens turn into a major tourist attraction in February just as the season turns. This brings forth wildflowers like the mule’s ears and the California poppy, the hog fennel and the checker bloom among a host of other incredible plantation that blooms right around that time. The privately owned summit does attract a lot of visitors, and the park at the top of the hill is also another incredible feature that will definitely appeal to visitors. There is public transportation all the way to the Park, 36 Teresita Muni line.

    The Cross

    Besides the naturel attraction that it is, Mt.Davidson has since become famous especially for those who are religious, for the cross, a gigantic one that was first erected at the site in 1923. Later on in 1924 another cross was erected, but it was burned down a year later. In 1931 arsonists torched a third cross that was also erected atop the mountain. The cross is significant to those of Christian faith especially Catholics, and this cross is often illuminated during Easter every other year. In 1933 after the third arsonist attack, the burned down cross was replaced with a steel and concrete cross.

    If you are a serious movie fan, this was the iconic cross in Clint Eastwood’s 1971 set, Dirty Harry. Every year during Easter there are walking tours held through the trail. Apart from that there is a clean-up session every month that is aimed at keeping the mountain area clean and free of debris.

  15. Today is the International Coffee Day. If you start every single day with the cup of aromatic brown drink, you are one of the millions that are celebrating today. Drinking coffee is not just a habit, it’s a ritual. What’s more pleasant than making a big cup of good coffee with milk (or without) and drinking it in bed while reading a book or a magazine?

    “Let’s have a cup of coffee". I’m sure you all get excited when you hear that. It means not just drinking coffee, but also meeting a friend, sharing some stories and emotions.

    Except of the emotional delight here are 5 more benefits of drinking coffee:

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    It contains a lot of antioxidants

    An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules, so if you want your body to function properly, it’s good to make sure you provide yourself enough of it. Some fruits and vegetables are rich of antioxidants. Coffee too. So, it you have concerns that your coffee addiction is bad for your health… well, that’s not 100% true.

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    It helps you concentrate

    You get up at 8 o’clock in the morning at your first thought is “coffee, please”, you are not the only one. In fact, drinking coffee is not only an usual morning habit. It’s proven that coffee actually helps you not only to wake up, but also to stay focused. So, if you have a list of important tasks to do today, make yourself a cup of excellent coffee. If you have to learn for an important exam, coffee will help you stay concentrated. It gives you energie too - if you are moving home, for, example, have a cup of coffee first... or call professional removalists in Melbourne to do the job for you.

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    It boosts metabolism

    There are few health benefits of drinking coffee in the morning and one of them is that it boosts metabolism. So, don’t miss your mug of coffee, guys. A glass of warm water before you have breakfast helps too.

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    It’s a great reason to meet friends

    “Let’s go for a coffee” is one of the most common used invitations when you want to meet somebody. We always serve our guest a cup of coffee after the meal, too. In some societies drinking coffee is a whole ritual. There are special ways of making it and serving it in Turkey, for example. In some offices people enjoy drinking coffee together and talking about the weekend or their free time for a while before we start dealing with the daily tasks.

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    Some more reasons why coffee is actually great for your health

    A fact that you may don’t know about drinking coffee is that it can lossen the symptoms of Parkinson disease!

    If you are a woman, coffee could reduce your chances of getting skin cancer.

    Coffee can make you more intelligent and it keeps your brain in great condition.

    It reduces the risk of getting Type 2 diabetes.

  16. Green, sustainable building is conquering the world of architecture. It’s no wonder - building homes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient is rewarding on many levels. By building homes that are “green” you’re minimizing impact on both people’s health and the natural environment.

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    Image Credit: GJ Gardner

    What are the main characteristics of a green home? To begin with, it is a building that efficiently uses natural resources and alternative sources of energy. It is a home that preserves the health of its occupants and helps in reducing pollution, waste and environmental degradation.

    Let’s see what every green home must include in order to be a true, eco-friendly building.

    Materials used in green building

    Whenever we build, there has to be some sort of environmental cost. We often use natural materials and expendable energy resources uncontrollably. People think that using only wood, for example, will immediately make their house or lodge sustainable, but this is far from the truth.

    The first and the most important rule when it comes to materials is: always use sustainable, local materials that are recycled or recyclable. This often means reusing existing materials and reducing waste. Timber can be used in green building too, if it’s locally and sustainably sourced and FSC-certified.

    Also, the more processed the material is, the more energy was spent (embodied) to produce it. Therefore, green homes should be constructed from materials that have low embodied energy. Alternative forms of concrete are always a better option than conventional concrete, the production of which is responsible for high carbon emissions.

    Sometimes, even materials we consider “junk” can be used in the construction of a green home: tires, bottles, cans, materials left over from the pre-existing building, etc. Wood from fast growing trees (instead of hardwood), recycled stone, rammed earth, straw bale and mud brick are the traditional materials that most builders turn to nowadays.

    Clever design for an energy efficient home

    The design is another important factor in making a building “green”. Sustainable homes are smartly built – which means they are designed to last long, to fit the climate and use all the benefits their environment provides. Passive design almost always involves positioning homes in relation to the sun and shade to reduce the use of electricity. This can be done is several ways: by spatial zoning, orientation, ventilation, insulation, shading, glazing and using thermal mass.

    The house should be placed on a ground that receives a lot of sunlight in the winter, with large windows facing the sun and collecting “passive” solar power. Prevention of heat accumulation in the summer can be obtained by strategically placing trees, roof overhangs and horizontal slats. A well-designed floor plan can only help in achieving energy efficiency. Also, adding solar panels can save energy even more and make a building truly eco-friendly.

    Insulation

    Adding good insulation is a crucial thing in the building process - it is the most effective addition you can make to your home. Insulation, shading and waterproofing can save up to an amazing 45 percent on monthly energy bills.There are lots of insulation options. However, the top sustainable insulation materials are sheep wool, cotton, aerogel, polystyrene and icynene.

    We know that polystyrene doesn’t sound very “green”, but it’s an outstanding insulator that can be recycled. It brings structural integrity to walls and provides excellent thermal resistance. Wool fibers are perhaps the healthiest and most fire resistant insulation option.

    Water management

    A sustainable building must include water saving in addition to energy saving. An excellent way of saving water is rainwater harvesting – collection, filtration and use of rainwater. This reduces the need for main water supplies and can lead to significant economic and environmental benefits. Rainwater is collected in leak-proof tanks and can be used for many purposes.

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    Image Credit: Wikimedia

    Swimming pools are big energy spenders and a real luxury in water scarce areas. Therefore, modern green homes feature increasingly popular natural pools and ponds. Water in such pools and ponds is cleaned with the help of plants and bacteria and no chemicals are used in the process.

    One of the steps in being a responsible water consumer includes using products and appliances that save water significantly. Your home must be equipped with adequate plumbing products, sanitary ware and white goods that use less water than others.

  17. It feels good when you are associated with some kind of charity. It gives you a sense of fulfillment and a satisfaction of doing something for someone who might not be as fortunate as you are. For all, making cash donations might not always be possible. Thankfully, there are places like Outreach Center who strictly follows one principle: donation can be in any form. It can be real estate or land or simply the junk old car that you would no longer use. Outreach Center is that one non-profit organization that offers a car donation charity. The vehicle donation program is not only restricted to New Jersey. Outreach Center accepts used and old cars and channelizes the proceeds from the same to fund a good number of programs that are meant to bring a sea change in the lives of the underprivileged children. Outreach center believes that all children have the right to enjoy the basic necessities in life. Through their car donation charity, they are keeping an avenue open for all such children to bring about a change in their life.

    Benefits of This Vehicle Donation Program

    As far as the vehicle donation program goes, there are clearly two winners. One is the car donor, the champion of this noble cause and the other are the innumerable children who are going to benefit from the funds that is going to bring a positive change in their life and help them become better human beings. As far as the car donor is concerned, every car donated to Outreach Center is tax deductible. Hence, they get to enjoy a lot of tax deductions.

    What Questions Should You Ask In Relation To The Car Donation Charity from Outreach Center?

    It is not wrong to be inquisitive or gather some useful information regarding the car donation charity. So, there are some very common questions that you need to get answers for. The following is a list of common questions that every car owner wishes to get answer to.

    What Are The Things That I can Donate?

    Apart from cars, Outreach Center accepts donations in the form of boats, RVs, travel trailers, fleet vehicles and real estate.

    What do I Need to Do For the Donation Process?

    As the vehicle donor, you will need to provide the title to the vehicle. If the paperwork is not in place, not an issue as other arrangements can always be made. The contact details are to be provided either online or by putting across a call. A convenient pickup time is then scheduled and the tow truck is sent by Outreach Center to pick the vehicle from the mentioned location.

    Which States Are Covered By Outreach Center Under Their Vehicle Donation Program?

    The many places where the car donation charity works includes Arizona, Alabama, California, Florida, Miami, Maryland, Kansas, New York, Montana and more.

    How is the value of the vehicle determined?

    According to the IRS, car donors can claim a tax deduction on a donated vehicle for the lower of its FMV (Fair Market Value) or $500, or the selling price at auction if the amount should exceed $500. However, if the donation is among the donations valued above $500, it is ensured that you and your accountant receive the paperwork necessary to document larger donations.

    Author Bio: Joana Hall is a freelance writer with many years of experience in writing on varied topics. Her current write up speaks about Outreach Center and their car donation charity that is making a big difference in the lives of many children.

  18. First and foremost, knowing exactly what organic wine is, is the key to making it properly.

    Grapes grown organically are the first thing required for making of organic wine. When a certain fruit or vegetable is grown organically it means there were no pesticides and/or chemicals involved in its growing. Many manufacturers of wine tend to break the rules of organic. It certainly pays off more to include some manipulating in wine-making, just to have it last longer and taste better. But since you have decided to make wine yourself, we don’t question your aspiration to get that organic wine just right, in a proper way.

    So, what you first need to do is gather supplies. Naturally, this sounds like a logical step to take and you are wondering why do we even mention it. Well, because more often than not beginners in wine making tend to omit certain things which then leads to the wine getting ruined by bacteria or bugs. To avoid that, gather these supplies:

    - An airlock

    - A 1-gallon carboy (a glass container with a small neck)

    - Clean wine bottles with corks or screw caps

    - A 2-gallon crock or glass jar

    - A thin plastic tube to be used for siphoning

    - Campden tablets (optional)

    Once you have all this, the games of wine making can begin! For the record, wine can be made of any type of fruit. So, if you want to experiment and try something unusual choose something else rather than berries and grapes. The most important thing is to choose fruit at the peak of its flavor.

    Cleaning the fruit

    Washing the fruit is easy - clean it of any dirt and/or rotten parts. Remove the leaves. Rinse it thoroughly. Done!

    You’d think everyone is cleaning the fruit before doing anything with it, right? Well, not really. Some wine-makers like not to wash the fruit before crushing it. Given that fruit has natural yeasts on its skin, wine can be made with using only the yeast from the fruit's skin and the air. The negative aspect of not washing the fruit is that wild yeast get to grow and they are likely to produce foul flavors. While, when you wash the fruit you can control the taste and adjust it to you liking.

    Crushing the fruit

    Crushing the fruit is done with your hands or a potato masher. All you should do is squeeze the fruit so that it releases its juices. You should repeat the process of until the crock you have previously put washed grapes in is filled with 1/2 inches of the top with fruit juice. If there isn’t enough fruit and juice, top it off with filtered water.

    To kill bacteria and wild yeast, add a a Campden tablet. It will release sulfur dioxide into the mixture which will effectively kill wild yeast and bacteria. If you’d rather not use a tablet, you can alternatively pour 2 cups of boiling water over the fruit.

    Also, when using water, avoid tap as it contains additives and it will affect the taste of your wine. Make it your business to use filtered or spring water only.

    Add honey for sweetness of your organic wine. Limiting honey to two cups will give your wine not so sweet a taste. You can, of course, add more if you like your wine sweeter. If you don’t like honey, you can add (brown) sugar instead of honey.

    After this is done, it’s time you added the yeast! Stir it into the mixture with a long-handled spoon.

    Fermenting the Wine

    To keep bugs out of the crock, cover it with something firm yet such a fabric that will allow air to flow in. Perfect cloth would a t-shirt or a stretch cloth. Just make sure you secure it in place with a large rubber band. The covered crock should be placed in a warm area overnight, with a temperature around 70 degrees. The day after you have made the mixture, you should follow the process of stirring it thoroughly.

    The stirring should go on for 4 days:

    - 1st day - stir every 4 hours or so- other 3 days - a few times per day

    You’ll know fermentation process when you see it - as the yeast moves into action, the mixture should start bubbling. This will lead to delicious wine.

    Three days after it begins, the bubbling will slow down which is a sign it’s time to strain and siphon the liquid.

    - Siphon the liquid into your carboy for longer-term storage

    - Affix the airlock to the opening to prevent oxygen from coming in and spoiling your wine while allowing for the release of gas

    Let the wine age for nine months. If you are in a rush to try it, then leave it for at least one month.

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    Green technology can be a confusing concept for many people, and one of the reasons for this is because there are no official criteria for what makes technology green. For example, an app on your smartphone, an energy efficient fridge and a wind turbine could all be categorised as green tech.

    Because of this, there are many misconceptions about green technology, and this can make it hard for consumers to make the best decisions. Here are a few myths that you may want to keep in mind when it comes to greener technology.

    Everything About Green Technology Is Eco-Friendly

    When you buy a green technology product, you may think that it is going to be made from greener materials, but this is not always the case. Its green credentials may be that it uses less power, but the actual materials may not come into it at all.

    Or it may save you energy, but it may not be made from materials that can be recycled. Quite simply, not all manufacturers will take this into account when they design technology products.

    Try to look for technology that is green in more ways than one. Not just in its use of less power, for example, but also in the materials it is made from and how it is recycled.

    Green Products Are Always the Best Option

    Sometimes you may be led to believe that simply by choosing an eco-product you are doing your bit for the environment. You may see a new computer advertised as eco-friendly because it uses less power, but leaving that computer on all day may use more energy than turning off another non-green computer when you are not using it. Green technology is not therefore automatically better, and it requires your input to get the most out of it.

    Green Is Always More Costly

    Many people will automatically assume that green tech is always the more expensive option. Sometimes this is true, but not always. Green technology is often about longer-term benefits. You might pay more in the immediate future, but down the line you may be able to make large savings. And you have to remember that savings also come in the form of environmental savings.

    Other green technologies could help you to make more immediate savings. Something like the Nest Learning Thermostat, for example, could be considered green technology, and it could really help you to save you money by cutting the amount of energy you use. The new smart meters may also be able to help you cut down on your energy usage by increasing your awareness of how much energy you use each day.

    When it comes to saving money, there are many factors to consider, and it's important to look at all of these together. For example, you may want to use something like the Nest thermostat while also choosing a more suitable energy tariff to reduce your bills. You could also use an online tool to help you do this, such as the Tariff Information Label search tool on the npower.com website. So don't just rely on one type of technology to save you money, and consider all your options.

    It's How You Use It that Matters

    The most important thing to remember is that it is how you use green technology that matters. Reducing your energy use may well involve choosing greener options, but don't stop at that and assume you are doing enough. The fact is you may also have to change your habits to cut energy usage and reduce your bills.

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    3889648857_b32cb4e51a_z_d.jpg?zz=1

     

     

     

    The roof of a building should do more than keep the rain out. After all, when properly designed and planned, a roof can also be an energy efficiency power house, thus keeping the building occupants comfortable and saving money at the same time.

     

    The options for creating an energy efficient roof, or just improving an existing one, are numerous. This means that homeowners will certainly find one or more options that work for them and their budget.

     

    Attic insulation

     

    Attics are neglected corners of a home that residents rarely visit; unfortunately, this also means that the insulation in an attic is generally insufficient. Homeowners looking to lower energy bills should check that the insulation in their attic has a high enough R-Value for their climate and that there aren't any gaps. For best results, the attic floor and ceiling should be insulated.

     

    Install a cool roof

     

    Not all roofs are created equal, and there's almost no match for the cool roof's energy efficiency. Made of a variety of materials, there is always one shared characteristic between cool roofs: a highly reflective surface. Most homeowners don't want to start from scratch on their existing roof, so this option is generally only used in new construction. However, there are additional considerations to remember before installing a cool roof: special care is needed to avoid mould and heating bills will be higher in cold months.

     

    Roof paint

     

    Homeowners generally only worry about the paint on the walls of their home, but a roof needs to be maintained too. Higher quality product will help your energy efficient roof last longer and look better too. When selecting a new paint, remember, lighter colours reflect more heat, which means less need for cooling costs. Not all roofs are suitable for painting. According to Roofline, painting is suitable for several roof types, including concrete tiles and metal surfaces such as Colorbond.

     

    Solar panels

     

    Solar energy systems are only getting more popular and, as a result, more affordable. However, they aren't a great option for every home. A specialized contractor should be hired to access the home's exposure and potential problems, like trees that will block the sun. Even where challenges are present, there are some workarounds for homeowners who really want to harness the power of the sun.

     

    Green roofs

     

    While solar panels aren't exactly considered attractive, green roofs most certainly are. Not every building is fit for a green roof as specific architectural requirements must be met. The possibilities for a green roof, however, are essentially endless: vegetable gardens, small trees, flower beds, etc. As an added benefit, the green roof will be removing carbon dioxide from the air while it's being energy efficient.

     

    Avoiding asphalt shingles

     

    Asphalt shingle roofs, while by far the most popular option in parts of the world, are also one of the least energy efficient. If shingles, for whatever reason, are the only option, then check out shingles that use a highly reflective surface or have solar panel membranes built in.

    Unless homeowners are proactive, odds are that their hard earned cash is literally flowing right out their roof. While the most energy efficient roofs are built from scratch, almost all existing roofs can still be improved with some simple changes. However, homeowners who are lucky enough to be building their own house from scratch should really invest in the most energy efficient roof possible.

     

    Image source: Flickr - phototouring

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    (Image credit: http://pixabay.com/p-157112/?no_redirect)

    Changing times call for making changes in our lifestyle. The way we live today is very different from the way our elders lived. The environment today is no longer as clean as it was even a decade ago, and problems such as global warming, the ozone hole, and rising pollution levels loom large over our planet.

    While a lot of people do want to do something about it, many are clueless about how they can help. Charity begins at home, it is said. So, why not start with modifying the way you live? You can always start by making certain changes to your home décor in a way which is supportive of the environment.

    While redecorating your home to make it more eco-friendly may seem cumbersome, it is really quite easy. Just a few additions and deletions from your home will help you make it aesthetic as well as pro-nature.

    1. Get Rid of the Clutter

    First and foremost you need to de-clutter your living space to make sure that it is no longer stuffed with things that you do not require, need, or can harm the environment.

    Think of it as a cleansing ritual. By clearing your home of the unwanted stuff, you’re letting go of the negative, thereby making room for the positive and productive to enter your home. And by deciding to go green, you’ve already made a great start.

    2. Brighten It Up

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    (Image credit: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/32580797278826904/)

    Stark white walls may make a home look like it is in dire need of some personality and dimension. So, you might want to add a splash of color to the walls by painting them. You can do so in an eco-friendly way.

    Opt for paints that are low or nil in VOC or volatile organic compounds. These compounds are nothing but harmful emissions from paints (the off-putting smell that most newly-painted homes give off). These paints are high in lead content and hence, extremely dangerous to people and the environment.

    By choosing low/no VOC paints, you will protect your family, pets, and nature from their harmful effects.

    Alternatively, you can also use wallpapers to add color to your walls. You can cover your floor in stone or ceramic tiles, or wooden panels as these are eco-friendly too.

    3. Use Eco-friendly Art

    A great way of adding character and sophistication to your home in a jiffy is by using wall paintings. These also come in eco-friendly options, so make sure you scout for those and put them up. They are, typically, made from clay or milk-based paints and are very low in chemical content.

    Using eco-friendly art does not mean you will have to comprise on the colors and designs, it only means that you’re going for art that promotes a natural way of doing things.

    Eco-friendly art supplies are available in plenty, so if you decide to create a masterpiece for your home yourself, make sure you use those.

    4. Use Natural Fibers

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    (Image credit: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/7177680627509295/)

    If you like to use carpets at home, make sure they’re eco-friendly too. Instead of those made from synthetic materials, choose carpets that are made of natural ones like wool. You also have the option of installing modular carpet tiles, which utilize non-toxic dyes and colors and are made from recycled materials.

    Apart from being toxic-free, they are also convenient-to-maintain and easy-to-install. They can be returned to the manufacturer for recycling once their shelf-life is over.

    Another area where you can make improvements is when choosing day-to-day home items such as mattresses, beddings, and pillows. Go for those stuffed with wool as that will ensure that your house stays free of allergy-causing dust mites.

    On the same lines, say no to plastic, particle board, and chromed metal as well.

    5. Build a Small Kitchen Garden

    Even if you’re spatially-challenged at home, you can still make room for a small kitchen or an herb garden at home. You can grow useful plants and herbs like mint, basil, rosemary, and thyme on your windowsill, and something more ambitious like cherry tomatoes and lemons in your verandah, stairway, deck or roof.

    By planting a kitchen garden, you will be doing your bit to increase the green cover, thereby reducing your carbon footprint. Additionally, you also get the benefit of eating fresh home-grown produce and saving money.

    6. Give a Thought to Your Appliances

    When buying new electronic gadgets and appliances for your home, go for ones that are the most energy-efficient. You need to look for a label with the Energy Star logo as it mentions all the information you will need when making a decision.

    And while they may seem a tad expensive at the time you buy them, know that they will go a long way in bringing your energy bills down, thereby saving you a lot of money.

    This also applies to light fixtures. Replace your old ones with energy-efficient or solar-powered fixtures. Use LED or CFL lights as they burn cooler, give a better glow, as well as help you cut electricity costs.

    7. Old Furniture Turned New

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    (Image credit: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/273875221061844776/)

    Thinking of giving your home a new lease of life by changing the furniture? What if we told you that you need not change the entire stuff?

    More often than not, what your old furniture really needs is some sanding and re-painting to look as good as new again. Unless it is badly damaged, you can retain it and simply get it repainted and/or re-polished. This way you save a lot of trees from being cut for their wood.

    If you must buy new furniture pieces, shop locally, thereby avoiding the huge carbon footprint produced by moving sofas and other furniture halfway across the world. Look for those made from sustainable materials and carry the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo.

    You can also buy old/antique furniture to discourage the consumption of non-renewable resources. Antiques will help make your space look more sophisticated and attractive.

    Conclusion

    The next time you decide to do your home interior, think green, think environment-friendly, and think sustainability. You will do well in taking the above factors into consideration when decorating/redecorating your house. They will go a long way in providing you with a home and a lifestyle that helps save the environment as well as your money.

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    When most people envision a landfill, the images that most likely come to mind are those of great heaps and mountains of garbage with a steady stream of dump trucks running day and night and piling more and more on top of what is already existing. While, part of this image may be accurate, the modern landfill is quite different. With people becoming more aware on a daily basis of the impact their actions have on the earth, even landfills are being designed with conservation and sustainability in mind.

    The Environmental Protection Agency summarizes modern landfills as "well-engineered facilities that are located, designed, operated, and monitored to ensure compliance with federal regulations." In order to ensure that these regulations are being followed in modern landfills there are various protocols in place.

    One of the first things considered in the planning of a landfill is location. They must be built in a suitable geographic location, away from wetlands, faults, or any restricted areas. Once a location is chosen some sort of liner must be laid in place to prevent any contamination of groundwater and underlying soil. One of the more popular liners currently being used is a geosynthetic liner. These liners are made up of a very thin layer of clay sandwiched between two layers of some sort of geotextile. These are durable and more efficient to install than the more traditional clay liners. A geosynthetic liner is also highly popular in areas with significantly varying temperatures. They stand up well to freeze and thaw cycles. Many modern landfills also consist of some sort of leachate collection and removal system. This is installed on top of the liner and acts to remove sludge and other harmful leachate from the landfill for treatment and removal.

    Modern landfills have a much smaller impact on the environment than landfills of the past. Once in place, operating practices are strictly monitored. Periodically, the waste is covered with a layer of compact soil. This helps to protect public health by minimizing odor, insects, and rodents. There are also scheduled ground water checks to ensure that nothing harmful from the landfill has leached into the groundwater. When it does come time for the landfill to close, there are strict protocols in place to continue to protect the environment and help to provide long term care for the closed landfill areas, making our earth a better and cleaner place for all.

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