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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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  • 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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Our community blogs

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    If you’re not careful, you can end up wasting a lot of money each day on heating your home. On average, most households in the United States spend roughly $2,200 per year on utility bills. You could reduce your costs by ensuring that you avoid certain wasteful practices that are probably causing your heating bill to skyrocket.

    Setting Your Thermostat Wrong

    Many people set their thermostat for a bit higher than they really need to. Decreasing the temperature in your home by a couple degrees won’t be that noticeable and it will save you a tremendous amount of money. You should also be sure to program your thermostat so you’re not heating your home excessively when there’s nobody home. Many newer models even go a step further by learning your preferred temperature and defaulting into an energy saving mode during certain times.

    Changing Air Filters Infrequently

    It’s important to remember to change the air filters in your HVAC system regularly. When your heater runs, the air filter’s job is to pick up particles that flow through it. As time goes on, these particles will begin to build up and clog the air filter. When this happens, the unit has to use a lot more energy to heat your home. A clean air filter ensures that your HVAC system is functioning properly and running efficiently. It’s best to clean air filters regularly and replace them every three months. If you feel like you might forget, be sure to set a reminder to help yourself remember to call a heating repair service.

    Poorly Preparing Your Home for Colder Weather

    Having a great heating system is one thing, but ensuring the heat stays in your home is another. Before the cold weather hits, you should check for drafts and other problems within your home that might cause heat to escape. For instance, insulating your ceiling can ensure that no heat escapes. This alone will pay for itself in no time, especially if your roof is poorly insulated to begin with. You should also check your windows and doors to ensure all cracks are sealed and no air is leaking through. Heat will escape through these cracks and cause you to use more heat. Additionally, you should ensure that your chimney is sealed appropriately if you aren’t going to be using it. This is another area that heat often escapes from.

    Heating your home can be an expensive endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be so costly. Doing these three things during the winter months can lower your heating costs tremendously. If you’re doing these things and your heating system still doesn’t seem to be heating your home efficiently, be sure to contact a heating repair service. They will help you determine whether or not your heater needs to be fixed or replaced completely.

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    Being a green office is more than just good for the environment. You can save your business some money be investing in these green and clean solutions. Here are some tips to get you started on making a greener workplace.

     

    Limit Your Paper Consumption

    Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to print out your emails. This practice is not only wasteful, but time consuming. The whole point of moving to an electronic, paperless system is supposed to be that you use less resources. This means that there’s less overall waste in the workplace. This is good because you have to purchase less paper as well as being a greener and cleaner solution for your workplace.

     

    Invest in Recycling

    Encourage your employer to invest in a recycling program at your company. The only difference is the type of can that items are discarded into by employees. This has the benefit of being better for the environment and making everyone feel good at the company. When you stop to consider the costs of disposing of all the waste that’s generated at a business, recycling just makes economic as well as ecological sense. You may be able to reduce the monthly cost on your garbage bill.

     

    Promote Green Solutions

    Start up a program in which employees use reusable cups for both water and coffee while at the office. This will also reduce the amount of waste that’s generated in the workplace. Another solution is to invest in greener cleaning products. These types of cleaners generally produce less air pollution and residual chemicals on surfaces. This is a good thing if you have employees that suffer from asthma and other types of lung conditions.

     

    Install Proper Filtration

    The second part of developing a cleaner work environment is to have proper air filtration that removes or eliminates the amount of contaminants in the environment. There are a variety of kinds of products that can be used to achieve cleaner air in the workplace. Employees that work in a healthier environment are less likely to take as many sick days during the year. This can start to add up to a real savings for the company.

     

    There are lots of ways that you can promote a cleaner and greener workplace. Look around you so that you can decide the best course of action when it comes to becoming more eco-friendly. There may even be tax incentives that you can take advantage of in your endeavors.

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    Though there is a continuing argument surrounding global warning, many people understand that it is a very real issue. As a result, they’re doing what they can to save the environment. Even though you might not feel like what you can do matters in the grand scheme of things, it really does. Consider these four ways you can change your home habits for the sake of the environment.

    Purify the Air

    According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air pollution is one of the main environmental dangers in the world. This is why air purification is so important. You can take small steps towards purifying the air within your home. Start by purchasing a few plants. Develop a green thumb, and place plants in every thousand square feet of the home as plants are natural air purifiers. Open the windows of your home each day for 15 minutes at a time. This allows air to circulate throughout the entire home. It’s also a great idea to purchase an air purifier.

    Use Homemade or Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

    You can easily switch all of your current cleaning products for each eco-friendly products. Sure, there might be a cost difference. However, your health and the environment are worth it. If you’re not ready to make that jump and purchase higher-priced cleaning products, you can make them yourself. Lemons, baking soda and other natural ingredients are excellent for cleaning different household items. In fact, many of these natural ingredients are more effective than the ones with tons of toxins in them.

    Go Paperless

    It’s safe to say that most billing companies will allow you the option to go paperless. Utilize that option. Get rid of junk mail, bills and other papers that pile up in your home. With the usage of your smartphones, tablets and laptops, you really don’t need to use paper. Plus, too many trees get cut down to provide the paper that’ll be used and thrown away within days.

    Consider How You’re Dumping

    When it’s time to relocate, it’s customary for most people to do garage sales to get rid of as many items as possible. It’s a time of decluttering. When you’re doing spring cleaning haul in your home, it’s also easy to dump things arbitrarily. However, it might be better to utilize the services of a company that can pick up whatever you’re getting rid of. Instead of dumping everything in the garbage, companies that make skip bins will pick up the waste and discard it in an eco-friendly fashion.

    As you can see, it’s pretty easy to get started with changing your home habits for the sake of the environment. As you remain committed to the process, it’ll eventually feel like second nature. Plus, you’ll be helping Mother Nature as well.

  4. Raising the awareness for a clean community is extremely important in order to create and maintain a healthy environment, with fresh air, and green areas that make living there more enjoyable than in a busy area of the city where the traffic and the noise produces a lot of pollution. Moreover, a cleaning day in your community can have many other advantages such as helping the people bond while cleaning together and have a lot of fun. All you have to do is to make sure that you involve as many as possible of your neighborhoods so that the event has a bigger impact and it will become an example for other communities as well. However, when you are planning such a big event that has a meaningful purpose, a lot of responsibility is on your shoulders. Read below the essential steps you need to follow in order to create a successful event that will be an amazing experience for all of the participants.

    Create a plan

    There are many details that you need to consider when you are organizing such an event. Which is why you need to create a plan so that you do not miss any essential task that you need to complete. First of all, you need to decide what kind of project do you want to base your event on. Whether it is just trash collection, beach and river cleanup, flower planting or even all of them, you have to know exactly what are the goals of the event so that you can plan everything accordingly. Secondly, after checking the weather prognosis you need to choose a date so that everyone will know when to avoid making other plans so that they participate in the cleaning day.

    Create a budget

    Even if it is an event that will be completed with the help of the volunteers. There are still some things that are going to cost some money. Whether you ask for the local council to support your event financially or you find some sponsors that want to support your initiative in the exchange of advertising their business, you need to look for all the opportunities to obtain a budget suitable for all the necessary tools for such an event.

    Advertise the event to find volunteers

    The most important part of such an event are the volunteers that are motivated and enthusiastic to work together to reach the final goals of having a beautiful and clean neighborhood. So, you have to make sure that everyone will find out about the event you are organizing so that as many volunteers as possible will come and join your cause. When advertising the event, you can use online and offline marketing venues such as Social Media, flyers, local media so that your message reaches everyone. Also, it is really important to make sure that you invite the local media to be part of your event so that other communities will see the success of your initiative and will start fighting next to you for a cleaner and healthier environment.

    Choose the right organization team

    Organizing such an event means a lot of tasks that need to be completed in time and many essential aspects that cannot be neglected in order to successfully achieve the final goals of the initiative. So, no matter how motivated and enthusiastic you are about taking care of everything on your own, it is going to be incredibly difficult. Moreover, it is not an individual but a social event, so the more people get involved the better it is for the success of the event. Which is why you need to create an organizing team that has people who are also willing to invest time and passion for such a beautiful purpose. Choose people that have all the necessary skills and knowledge to give you a real help in the process of planning everything and more important people that you can trust with completing their tasks in time, before the day of the event.

    Prepare all the necessary tools

    Once you have decided about which type of project you want to base your event on, you need to start preparing all the necessary tools for cleaning and beautifying your neighborhood and its surroundings. for cleaning the trash, you are going to have to provide the volunteers with tools such as trash bags to put the collected garbage, gloves to protect their hands, and metal detectors for the kids involved in the initiative to look for treasures while helping the adults collecting the trash. Also, for beautifying the area and flower planting there will be needed shovels, gardening materials such as plants and mulch, and paint and paintbrushes to repaint the outdoor of the buildings that have not been renovated in some time and take all the modern look from your area.

    Create groups and assign specific tasks

    Once all the volunteers have signed for taking part on the event, it is a good idea to stay organized in order to avoid creating a chaos when everybody will be confused about their task and assigned area of the neighborhood. In order to make sure that everybody understands their tasks entirely, organize a meeting with all the volunteers one day before the event, divide them into groups and assign them specific tasks. This way all of the volunteers will know exactly what they have to do and there will be no confusion that can ruin the event.

    Have a party at the end to reward the volunteers

    Once the job is all done and now you can all enjoy the new look and beauty of your neighborhood, a party should definitely take place in order to thank everybody for their hard work while taking place in this initiative. Provide foods and beverages and turn the music up for everybody to have fun and celebrate together how they successfully reached the goals of the event while working together as a team. This type of event will also make the relationships and friendships between your neighbors become more bonded.

  5. Travelling is probably the best thing to have it as an occupation. It opens up the horizon of our mind, i.e., our thinking ability and carves a permanent mark of the whole world that comes out of the various experiences and wisdom the traveller gained while witnessing diverse culture, human and nature. In the time of rapid climate changes and pollution increase in a petrifying level, in our opinion, a traveller or a tourist should always follow some rules and regulations to keep the nature safe so that the places he visits get a touch of healing and as a whole the human being can stretch the limit of its own existence in the world a bit.

    For the last few years numerous tourists, mainly from the northern hemisphere, flock to the tropical bliss Turks and Caicos in between December to April. Because of its tropical sun, many tourists find their winter vacation homes in Turks and Caicos these days.

    This small island country consists of two groups of islands lying on the south-eastern periphery of The Bahamas, of which they form a physical part, and north of the island of Hispaniola. For most of the year, Turks and Caicos experiences Atlantic trade winds moderated by the warm Antilles Current. Yet the climate is remarkably dry with a mean rainfall and evaporation and unfavourable to farming and the recharge of groundwater. The islands include eight large cays (keys) and numerous smaller cays, islets, reefs, banks, and rocks. This makes this land home for various underwater species. Beaches like Smith’s Reef is famous for its diverse and very rich coral. Salt Cay is the place where the traveller witnesses the whales. Being an island country surrounded by the Atlantic, the country’s import is covered majorly with the fish, lobsters and conchs.

    All these things point to a single statement that the ecology of this place should be maintained with high precaution as this little country is totally dependent upon the natural resources which are none but various species themselves. With the increase of temperature, certain climate changes will occur. Among them are the most dangerous things like extremity in temperature, frequent floods, droughts, tropical storms etc.

    Turks and Caicos is a part of the Small Islands Developing States (SIDS). In the case of Global Green House Gas Emissions, SIDS contributes a meagre amount, i.e., less than 1% but bears formidable amount of impacts created by the global climate changes. For an example, let us cite the case of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 which caused a direct loss of 900 million US$ in Grenada and that is more than twice the country’s GDP. It resulted in damaging of 90% of the hotel stock in that place.  

    To deal with all these, along with the growing tourism industry, the Department of Environment and Maritime Affairs (DEMA) of Turks and Caicos decreed to ensure certain things that the country’s natural resources are being used sustainably, to protect and promote biodiversity and economic prosperity through a sustainable fisheries industry, environmentally sustainable development, a Protected Areas system and improved Maritime Affairs.

    They set some humble regulations, naming it etiquette, for the tourists to follow while visiting the country’s luring spots.

    We are mentioning all of the points made by DEMA in the hope that all of the tourists will follow these in order to protect the nature.

     Environmental Rules and Etiquettes to Consider during Your Stay

     Guided Tours:

    · Tourists must report to the DEMA if they notice any of the captain's anchors on the coral reefs or seagrass beds. 

    · Make it confirmed that the conch you are devouring has not come from the national park. 

     Coastal Regulations:

    · If you want to have a bonfire or any other kind of party on the beach, it is mandatory to take permission from DEMA.

    · Never remove any kind of corals, sand, shells and wildlife, whether dead or alive, from the Protected Areas. This thing is entirely illegal.

    · If an individual wants to export more than three queen conch shells, he must apply for a CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) export permit through DEMA. The process will take at least 4-5 business days to be accomplished. 

    · The ‘swim zone’ is the 300 feet of the shore. Please swim within this range. 

    · Fishing in the National Parks on in Natural Reserves is totally prohibited.

    · Do not forget to remove all kind of trash you are carrying. Remember of the wind that might help your removed trash to get into the water. So be cautious about it. 

    · Please keep yourself comfortable on the walkways. Try to avoid being on the sand dunes to watch out for iguana burrows on the uninhabited cays.

    · Never even try to feed the fish, birds or reptiles.

    · Always use the biodegradable lotion and take the time for all lotions to soak into your skin before you get into the ocean because suntan lotions are toxic for the reefs. 

    · Never even think of standing or hitting or kicking the coral. Probably you have already known that coral is a living animal so never hurt them.  

    · Please try to avoid kicking sand with your fins when snorkelling so that fine particles do not smother and choke living coral. 

    · If you want to do some fishing, do not worry. Apply through DEMA. 

    · Skiing is encouraged only in the ski zones. So apparatus involved in this sports like jet skis or hovercrafts are permitted only in demarcated ski zones. 

    · Want to visit the sanctuary? Again, you need a written permission from DEMA.

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    Air conditioning is one of the crucial components for creating a pleasant, comfortable atmosphere in a commercial environment. However, choosing the right air conditioning system for a specific commercial property is of the utmost importance. Not only will the system be more effective, but it will also provide owners with more savings opportunities.

     

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    For instance, a single-split air conditioning system is more appropriate for small commercial buildings, such as small offices, cafés and shops, because they cool down and heat up individual areas. On the other hand, a multi-split AC system is more appropriate for restaurants, shops and offices because a single unit can provide heating and cooling for up to nine indoor areas. Finally, VRF (variable refrigerant flow) or VRV (variable refrigerant volume) systems are suitable for medium to large spaces, such as hotels, spacious offices, retail spaces and mixed-use properties, since they can meet complete heating and cooling needs of a large building.

    1. Conduct an energy audit

    The first step in maximising the energy efficiency of your commercial AC system is conducting a comprehensive energy audit. This will provide you with a clear insight into the building’s energy consumption, which will enable you to identify possible areas for improvement. Performing an audit will also help you address certain HVAC problems more efficiently.

    2. Learn how your entire HVAC system can affect your savings

    Your commercial HVAC system can have a crucial impact on your building’s energy consumption. Since it accounts for around 50 percent of your company’s energy consumption, it’s essential that you ensure that your HVAC system runs efficiently. If it’s damaged, aged or improperly installed, it will consume more energy without providing you with the desired results. Proper and regular maintenance, retrofitting and proper installation are key to your HVAC system functioning properly.

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    3. Have your AC unit regularly serviced

    AC units need to be regularly checked, properly maintained and repaired in a timely manner. Otherwise, their air filters can become covered with mould and dust, which will hinder their performance. An overlooked damage can lead to more serious problems and drastically increased energy consumptions. Therefore, proper maintenance and regular checks are of the utmost importance for preventing unnecessary costs and increased electricity bills, reducing your energy consumption by up to 40 percent. However, you should always leave this job to experienced professionals, especially in countries like Australia where unlicensed work is strictly prohibited. Namely, professionals for air conditioning in Sydney specialise in commercial AC maintenance and repairs, ensuring that their clients’ units are functioning properly. Thus, you should always hire highly trained and licensed technicians to make sure that the job is done properly, quickly and efficiently.

    4. Opt for programmable thermostats and smart technology

    Maintaining a stable indoor temperature can be quite challenging, especially in spacious commercial buildings. Frequent fluctuations often cause tenants to keep the AC units running at all times, which consumes a lot of energy. Sometimes these units are even left overnight in order to create a comfortable atmosphere that occupants will enjoy. However, by installing programmable thermostats and smart tech features, you can easily solve this problem. They will help you maintain a pleasant indoor temperature by adjusting it depending on the time of day, or the presence or absence of tenants. Certain configurations can also be set up to help you conserve energy. For instance, these high-tech features can turn on air conditioning right before the opening hours.

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    5. Insulate properly

    Proper and quality insulation of your commercial space can also help you reduce your energy consumption and create a more comfortable indoor atmosphere. By insulating walls, floors, ceilings and attic, you can prevent heat loss or gain during winter or summer. Consequently, this will reduce the need for your AC system, enabling you to increase your savings in the long run. Improved insulation can help you cut your energy bill by up to 10 percent.

    6. Seal the heating and cooling ducts

    Properly sealing the heating and cooling ducts of your commercial HVAC system is a simple upgrade that can enhance the energy efficiency of the system by around 20 percent. There are different ways to seal the ducts. For instance, blown-in duct sealant or mastic, foil tape can be used for this purpose. They can also be wrapped in insulation for enhanced efficiency. It’s advisable that you tackle the unprotected areas first, such as storage spaces or areas underneath the building. Of course, you can always leave this job to experienced technicians who can apply the most appropriate sealing solutions.

    After choosing an AC system appropriate for your commercial space, you should apply different measures that will enhance its sustainability and energy efficiency while also providing you with money-saving benefits.



     

  7. Want to Go Green 4 Keys to Energy Efficiency in Your Home.jpeg

    Living a green existence can make you feel like you’re doing something positive for the planet. It can actually lead to positive outcomes, too. If you want your consumption of energy to be as kind to the environment as possible, you should adopt any or of all of these strategies at your place of work or in your household right away.

    Switch Your HVAC Filters out on a Frequent Basis

    Heating and cooling a home can eat up a considerable amount of energy. If you want to minimize your energy use in a big way, you should switch out your heating and air conditioning system filters on a frequent basis. This will do more than conserve energy as well. That’s because it will also make your monthly energy bills a lot lower.

    Invest in LED Lighting

    The use of LED (Light Emitting Diode) lights calls for markedly lower levels of energy. If you want to minimize your energy consumption greatly, you should switch all of your existing lightbulbs out with fresh LED ones. This may require an upfront investment of money. If you wait a little bit, however, you’ll save a lot on your energy bills each month.

    Reuse Energy-Efficient Industrial Transformers over and Over

    You can decrease your energy use by going for industrial transformers that are classified as being energy efficient. People who want to keep waste to a minimum should think about reusing any tools, like an industrial transformer, whenever possible. If you use industrial transformers in the workplace, you shouldn’t forget about them once they’re no longer brand new. Using them over and over can minimize waste greatly.

    Use Ceiling Fans Any Time You Can

    You should never assume that turning your air conditioning unit on is the only way to cool your property down well. If you want to cool an interior space without employing a lot of energy, you should try ceiling fans. Ceiling fan installation can be terrific for people who want to lower energy consumption. It can be fantastic for those who want to lower their energy bills as well.

    If you care deeply about the environment, the world and a brighter tomorrow, you need to take the appropriate actions day in and day out. This means that you should do whatever you can to restrict your use of energy. This is crucial regardless of your location. It can help to decrease energy use at home, at work and beyond.

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    When designing buildings and homes, you need to take into consideration their impact to the environment. This means that each project needs to be carefully planned in order to reduce the amount of damage inflicted on the landscape. Here are some of the ways that structural engineering can be cleaner and greener overall.

    Invest in Design Efforts

    The size, shape, and position of the structure needs to be taken into account for how it fits within the landscape. This means that hills and other features need to be considered during the design process. Many engineers know that the number of windows that face the sunny side could impact the energy consumption of the structure. The type of insulation that is required may be different depending on the climate and the overall positioning of the building. You need to take all of these things into account when drafting the design.

    Use Reclaimed Products

    Recycled products are more eco-friendly than purchasing all new products. You can add many of these elements to give the building a more unique appearance. Many job sites will discard pieces of wood that are still usable for another project. The only thing that would be needed in this case is for you to find a place to store all of these leftover supplies. Discarding large quantities of usable items makes it more expensive for each project that is completed.

    Integrate Sustainability

    You can use products that release less chemicals to increase the sustainability of the structure. One example of this is in using less cement based products for the foundation. This can be done by using products that are more carbon-based. These could be recycled products or even aggregates that reduce the overall carbon footprint of a new structure. Designing and planning for these things in advance will make the project greener.

    Install Green Areas

    One of the biggest problem with the construction of newer buildings is that they tend to lack green space. This can present of problem when it comes to water drainage issues. If it’s left uncorrected, it can lead to erosion or even flooding concerns. Drainage basins and other green spaces can help to alleviate this problem. You can plan out courtyards and other unique green space features of the structure to save on energy consumption.

    The design portion of any structure is the most important part of making sure that the structure employs green methods. You can combine several elements to ensure that it’s as green and clean as possible.

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    Owning an older home can be a wonderful way to enjoy some unique character that simply can’t be found in a newer home. At the same time, it’s rare to find an older home that can operate as efficiently as a newer home, specifically in the area of water conservation. Fortunately, though, while you might not be able to implement every last water-saving device, there are several great and easy ways to save water in your older home.

    New Fixtures

    If you have an older home, it’s likely that it’s equipped with older plumbing fixtures, as well. Unfortunately, these older fixtures do very little to conserve water. In order to save water, then, you can replace these fixtures, whether it’s a shower head, bathroom faucet, or kitchen faucet, with low-flow models to start seeing savings right away. Just be sure your home’s plumbing can adapt to these newer fixtures, as many have special water pressure requirements that your home may not be equipped for.

    Find Leaks

    The materials in pipes of any kind inevitably break down over time due to the different substances found in water. Over time, this can lead to leaky pipes, which can waste a lot of water. If your water bill is higher than expected, or if you have a visible leak somewhere, it’s important to call a plumber to complete these plumbing repairs as soon as possible to ensure the water doesn’t cause any damage and you don’t waste any money.

    Collect Rainwater

    If local ordinances allow, collecting rainwater can be a great way to reduce your water bill. Especially if you can’t install a water-saving irrigation system due to the older construction, collecting rainwater allows you to keep your landscaping well-watered without having to depend on the city water supply. Plus, diverting rainwater in this way helps prevent erosion on your property since the water is being prevented from continuing on to the sewer.

    Install a New Toilet

    In addition to new plumbing fixtures, a new toilet can be a great water-saving investment for your older home. If your toilet has been around since before 1994, it’s using almost two gallons more per flush than a modern toilet. If you consider how many times a day you use the bathroom, that can add up quickly. Installing a new toilet is a fairly easy and quick process that will more than pay for itself over time.

    Be Water Smart

    Whether your home is old or new, you can save water using other methods, as well. Turning off the water while brushing your teeth, taking shorter showers, and watering your lawn in the morning or evening to prevent evaporation are all great ways to save water. Ultimately, it’s important to treat water as a precious resource that is worth working to save. With a few easy fixes, it’s an effort that is totally accessible

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    Cutting your utility costs shouldn’t have to be hard work. If you’re at a loss of where to start, have an energy audit conducted. This will give you a jumping off point for how to become more energy efficient. Here are some methods that you can use to reduce your utility costs.

    Reduce Your Loss Factor

    Drafts are causing there to be a lot of air exchange in your home. Your HVAC unit has to work harder to maintain the temperature. Cut down on the amount of drafts in your home. Some of the ways that you can do this is to invest in caulking and weather-stripping. A more proactive approach is to replace old doors and windows. You can also add insulation into the areas of your home that you are lacking, such as the attic or your crawlspace.

    Service Your HVAC

    A HVAC that is functioning at peak capacity will save you money in the long run. This means that you should have your HVAC unit serviced at least once a year. You’ll also need to check and/or change your air filter on a monthly basis. If your HVAC is on the older side, it might be time for an upgrade. Get quotes from several companies, like A & E Heating and AC Inc., so that you can find the best solution for your budget.

    Invest in Efficient Lighting Solutions

    You may be spending more than is necessary lighting up your home. Look into changing out your old light bulbs with more energy efficient LED ones. They use approximately a quarter of the amount of energy as the fluorescent variety. Even fluorescents are better than the incandescent bulbs. Another solution is to install motion sensing light switches if your family can’t remember to turn off the lights in a room. The lights will automatically turn off when no one is there.

    Look Into Waste Reduction

    Energy efficient appliances have come a long way. The Energy Star program has even come out with ratings for appliances like the washing machine and the dish washer. These appliances not only use less water, but less energy overall. Changing out older appliances will save you money over the life of the appliance. Another place that you can reduce waste is to install a programmable thermostat. There are even varieties that have a self-learning feature.

    The first place to start when you want to become more energy efficient is to assess the areas of greatest use. Work your way backwards so that you can save money on your utility costs.

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    So you want a home that's cool in the summer and warm in the winter, but you're sick and tired of paying ridiculous monthly energy bills. You look around and wonder if there's any way to keep your home comfortable, while not giving the utility company another dime. What options do you have for changing the temperature of your home's air while staying "off the grid?" Actually, more options than you probably think.

     

    Let the Outside In

    If the idea of high utility bills and constant maintenance don't sound like your idea of a relaxing summer, consider opening some windows to drop the temperature in your home. The key here is to allow air to flow through your home, as moving air feels much more refreshing on the skin than standing air. So, open up windows on the front and rear of your home, as wide as you can, and enjoy nature's free air conditioning.

     

    Go Old-Fashioned

    If the thought of chopping wood and wearing flannel get you fired up, consider heating your home the old-fashioned way, with a wood-burning fireplace. Though requiring more effort than a traditional furnace, a fireplace can efficiently warm the common areas of your home, supplemented by heavy blankets in bedrooms. Additionally, if you can access an inexpensive wood supply, you will have constant heat all winter for a fraction of the cost.

     

    Go Hi-Tech

    Solar is another option when considering going off the grid, though it has a high initial cost of investment. While many panels would be needed to adequately power an HVAC system, using smaller heating and cooling units, supplemented by other heating and cooling methods on this list, could allow you to meet your entire power need. Not to mention, many utilities and local governments offer substantial rebates for significant solar investment, resulting in a shorter time for you to recoup your initial cost.

     

    Go Down Under

    Geothermal systems can also be a practical component of off-the-grid living. These systems use pipes buried deep in the ground to take advantage of the more constant temperatures found at that depth. Always more refreshing than the surface in the summer, and warmer than the surface in winter, a decent-sized installation will enhance the effectiveness of other methods you use to reduce your utility bills. In more temperate climates, you may be able to rely solely on a geothermal system for all your heating and cooling needs.

     

    Charge It Up

    A large rechargeable battery, while not creating any energy of its own, is still a critical component to employ in an off-the-grid system. Large batteries store excess energy from other off-the-grid sources for many days, meaning that they can power heating and cooling appliances for a substantial amount of time. If you're planning on going completely off-the-grid, but don't want to change your lifestyle more than you have to, a battery is essential.


     

    Whether you choose to go off-the-grid only some or go all the way, off-the-grid heating and cooling methods can save you a vast amount of money, over time. Knowing the right techniques to integrate for your home and using them effectively will ensure that you have the best results, and are the envy of your friends and family when you tell them how you kissed the energy company goodbye.

     

    Resources

    Telegraph

    Classic Air

    Texas Fireframe

    House Logic

    HowStuffWorks

  12. In the last couple of decades, people became more conscious of the different ways we affect the environment. Our interested in ecology opened up topics like what damages we've done up until now, can we reverse them and can we prevent them from happening in the future. With global warming, polluted waters and deforestation more people want to take part in protecting our planet, bringing the conversation to our homes. Now we do our research and make conscious purchases.

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    Let's talk about cleaning for example. Some of the products we used to think are harmless, are now proven to be dangerous. They go down the sewer or into the ground on their way to disturb the natural eco-system.

    Some companies gained a bad reputation for using not-so-eco-friendly chemicals in their cleaning solutions. Behind the beautiful packages and expensive commercials stands something very ugly. The truth. "Kill all the germs!", "More powerful than ever!". What about when this solution goes into the sea? Nothing is lost, the poison just changes locations. Be sure, those chemicals are as bad for the fish, plants and you, as they are for the germs. Simply following the cycle of water, we can see how easily the dangerous chemicals find their way back into our homes.

    No wonder people have second thoughts about over-the-counter cleaning products. More people opt-in for professional cleaning services because they offer safe cleaning solutions. But beware! A lot of companies saw this demand as a possibility to break through the market, so they started labelling their products as "eco" and "organic". Some of them really are but most are just as bad as the previous ones. Their lie is hidden on the back of the labels.

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    People often get discouraged, as they feel like an insignificant speck in the cosmos. But we should all remember that big changes happen with one step (person and household) at a time. We shouldn't wait for others to change. We should take care of ourselves first and set a good example for everybody else.

    The number of bad things we should watch out for seems to be growing. From where do you begin?

    The first step is conscious purchases. Be aware that mass production is in fact "mass" because consumers buy the stuff. Think about it this way – with every choice you make, for every product you buy, you claim what world you want to live in. If you buy products with heavy, harmful chemicals or made by industries that exploit their workers, it's like giving them thumbs up for it. You invest in it, you give it green light. Having this in mind, you can now start applying it in your everyday life – from grocery shopping to what kind of paint you use for your house.

    The second step is to swap disposable items with reusable ones. Why do you have to spend who-knows-how-much dollars in your lifetime on something that you use only once? Like wet wipes for example. They don't disappear into thin air or dissolve in water as lots of people seem to think. "But it's only one wipe," said a million people while flushing it down the toilet. They build up, causing problems for plumbers, as well as for nature. Simply washing with water and soap should do the trick. And they should be replaced with reusable cloths in our households. We can at least try to cut down the usage.

    Getting back to the chemicals in the domestic cleaning products. Some of them (actually a great deal of them) are labelled as dangerous to the environment picturing a real wasteland – with a dead fish and a dead tree. This is pretty straightforward. But other companies slip under the radar. Thanks to laws and policies, the businesses are not obligated to list all of the ingredients of the product if there is very little of the toxins in it. Okay, so they're harmless then? Well, no. Combining cleaning solutions can be dangerous and the toxic chemicals build up.

    Even those that are labelled as “toxic-free” and “green” can be misleading. Watch out for phonies, who use “eco” or words like this only to decorate their label. They should be certified, not just state it freely. People can start feeling discouraged as they seemingly cannot be sure about the trustworthiness of anything.

    But do we really need to use chemical-based products that much?

    There are ways to clean without any cleaning solutions. Like using a squeegee and purified water – for windows. Steam treatment technique – for carpets. Pressure cleaning – for outside walls. The later is effective even if the surface has graffiti on it. Those are maybe the best ways to do domestic (and corporate for that matter) cleaning. The equipment for these methods is professional and quite expensive so it's usually used by cleaning experts. If you are looking for service here's a list of what you should be looking for:

    • Environmental Policy
    • Energy Saving processes
    • Responsible products
    • Low energy usage equipment
    • Recycling policy

    Even if we don't like it, we do have an effect on the world. Why don't we turn that into something positive and actually be the change in our choices? We try our hardest not only to repair the damages done by previous generations but to prevent any of them repeating in the future. And we can do it. Minimising the negative effect on nature has become more important than ever and every household counts. Are you in?

  13. Off The Grid 3 Ways To Keep Your Well In Tip Top Shape.jpeg

    A good well is a priceless part of off-the-grid living, and maintaining one can be surprisingly easy. However, first-time well owners may find that there is a bit of a learning curve. Unfortunately, mistakes can be costly if they damage the well or cause contamination. Here are three simple ways to avoid those troubles and keep your well running smoothly.

    Keep An Eye On The Calendar

    Regular water testing is an important part of maintaining a healthy well. In most places, an annual test for bacteria and other contaminants is enough. Check with your local health department when working out a maintenance schedule, however, because some areas may have specific risks that require more frequent testing. During this annual check, it’s also a good idea to give your system a routine flush with chlorine as a preventative measure, as well as checking the flow rate to make sure your system is working as well as possible.

    Watch For Changes

    Most of the time, wells run just fine with just a little preventative maintenance. However, even properly maintained wells can develop contamination issues for reasons ranging from failing equipment to flooding from major storms. If you notice any changes in your water quality, schedule another water test immediately, and consider drinking bottled water while you wait for the results. These changes can include cloudy or discolored water, new odors or a strange taste.

    Changes in the rate of the water flow can also be a sign of trouble. Pumps may become sluggish or inefficient before they break down completely, or a broken pipe may be causing you to lose water pressure without totally disabling the system.

    Know When To Call The Professionals

    The average homeowner can handle some minor maintenance, but for most issues it’s best to call in qualified professionals, like those at Taylor Heating Inc. Wells are more complicated than they seem, so a problem that would be minor and easy to fix for an experienced technician may turn into a major headache for a homeowner. Inexperienced people also may accidentally introduce dangerous bacteria into the system while doing something as simple as removing the well cap.

    Wells are a major investment, so it’s important to take the time to keep yours running smoothly. Preventative maintenance may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. By scheduling routine testing and treatments, addressing any potential problems and finding qualified professionals to work with, your well can last a lifetime.

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    Eco-landscaping is about making a difference in your yard, the one that results in making surrounding a healthier place that reduces water, soil and air pollution. The advantages of such responsible approach are reasonable savings in time, money and maintenance. The eco-friendly method is growing in popularity for its obvious reasons while creating and designing an eco-friendly landscape is not more complicated than designing a traditional garden. It does take some planning and involves maintenance, but all the efforts invested in a project like that are nothing compared to benefits.

    Planning

    For starters, you will have to make basic analysis and assessment of the yard. Determine the ground thickness by running the water to see how it is draining and where the ground is soaked the most. That way you’ll know where to plant as well as where to place hardscape. Check which areas get most of the sunlight and which ones are in the shade. Decide which area will serve its specific purpose, meaning where you will place a patio, play area or flower beds. This way you’ll know ahead what materials and plants you will be using and what will structure the basis of your eco-friendly yard.

    Downsize the lawn

    Having a smaller lawn means there will be less mowing and you will use less water. Limit your lawn by placing artificial grass or synthetic turf. Create walkways and paving and make sure to use low-maintenance materials like concrete, bark or gravel. You can use permeable pavers to direct rainfall back into the ground. Place gazebos or benches to fill the space in the yard that won’t require any watering.

    Eco-friendly mowing

    Since there will be a lawn that needs mowing, consider using a reel lawn mowers. Although mowing can go a bit slower than with gas or electric mower, reel mowers are true eco-friendly device since they are a perfect example of energy conservation. An alternative to reel mowers are the mowers powered by rechargeable batteries.

    Plant low-maintenance plants

    Consider planting native plants since they are best suited for the environment. Also, try choosing drought-resistant plants because there will be less maintenance while planting them will save water in the long run. To reduce the usage of water, try to group plants with similar water requirements. Plant some ornamental grass, pansies, and marigold. Planting clover is recommendable since it is insect and weed repelling plant.

    Clever landscaping

    Strategically planted trees and shrubs around the house can act as an insulation and save you up to 20% of your heating and cooling costs. One of the best landscape design firms advises planting deciduous trees on the sunny spots next to the house. That way the trees will provide the shade in the summer, while they will allow more sunlight in the cold months. Also, vines can be used to cool some areas.  

    Watering

    To reduce water waste, install drip irrigation system that brings water directly to plants. Watering with automatic irrigation is more effective while the technology allows you to program it the way you want. You can set the system not to release the water while it rains. You can use rainwater, previously conserved in barrels to water the lawn and the flower beds. When watering in the summer, always water in the late evening and early in the morning to avoid evaporation.

    Weed and insect control

    Avoid using chemicals to fight or to control weed, but take some preventive measures like planting in raised beds, preparing the soil, using landscape fabrics and mulching. To get rid of the weed you can use corn gluten or vinegar, only make sure to use it carefully since it a strong herbicide that can harm other plants.  The last stage of fighting the weed is an old-fashion move of pulling the weed from the ground.  As for insects, learn more about companion planting and see how your plants can benefit from it.

    Fertilizing

    Learn to make and use compost and keep the chemical fertilizer away. Composting is the best possible way to keep your ground properly fertilized, aired and watered, while it will significantly reduce the amount of trash that ends up in the landfills. Almost anything can be used for compost, starting from grass clippings and leaves to fallen branches, food scraps, coffee filters, tea bags, newspapers, cardboard, etc.

     

    Going green takes a bit more than these few tips since it extends further on the maintenance and how you care for the environment aside from the yard. Remember to recycle and reuse all the materials and to establish a sustainable eco-system in your home and your yard. Do your research and create an eco-friendly garden that you will enjoy in years that come. An effort toward the healthier environment is worthy of praise so design your garden and be proud.

  15. The foundation of your home, is, by no surprise, the most important aspect of it. While others may argue, the fact that your entire house depends on the integrity of your foundation means that any damage that might occur to it, can be drastic. Since your entire house literally sits on top of this concrete base, any little mistake in its design means that the problems will increase as you go up. Ensuring you protect your foundation will mean longevity and hassle-free home maintenance. Here are ways you can protect your home’s foundation.

    What is the Foundation?

    To begin with, for those who are unaware, the foundation of your home is made from a combination of materials, with the most common being made from poured concrete or concrete block, and a poured concrete footing system. With the majority of North American homes being built this way, it’s safe to assume that your house was also. During the construction process, it is vital that the foundation is poured and dried at level. Any dips or slants will cause structural problems throughout the rest of the house, making it a headache to fix and to sell.

    Ways to Protect Your Foundation

    Now that you are enlightened on what your home’s foundation actually is, here are some ways in which to ensure it is protected, and remains its integrity and strength.

    1. Make Sure the Ground Slopes Away: Keeping water away from the foundation of your home is critical in ensuring it stays dry and protected. Ensuring your backyard or front yard are sloped away from the house will enable runoff water to flow away from the house, instead of towards. If it is sloped towards, water will likely seep into the foundation, causing flooding in your basement and structural damage to the concrete base. If the ground is sloping towards, you’ll have to either call a professional (depending on the severity) to level out the ground, or fill in the areas with dirt yourself, if it’s not too difficult.  

    2. Clean Out Your Gutters: While generally keeping your gutters clean is a good habit for good water runoff, it’s especially important to ensure the water from rain and other precipitation doesn’t get backlogged and then seep into your house. Ensure they are pitched correctly so that they water flow is away from your home, and clean them at least twice a year to remove any buildup that can cause clogs.

    3. Inspect Your Downspouts: As with your gutters, make sure your downspouts don’t have any leaks or holes present. Also, make sure they are pointing away from the foundation of your house, rather than just next to it.

    4. Monitor the Foliage: Especially during the fall, leaves, trees, and foliage tend to shed everywhere. Managing plants and vines that are up against your home is helpful in ensuring they don’t have an active part in trapping moisture and dampness against your home when they are wet. Try not to plant any trees near your foundation either, as they can soak up the moisture that prevents the foundation from cracking.

    5. Water your Foundation: While this may seem contrary to what we’ve been saying about keeping water away from your foundation, no moisture at all can result in cracking and shrinking in the spoil of your foundation. Giving it a good soaking during the summer at periodical intervals will help prevent this from happening.

    Warning Signs You Have a Problem:

    While you may have implemented these preventative measures, if there is a problem with your foundation, you should be able to see warning signs pretty clearly. Here’s what to look out for:

     

    1. If you see pooling occur, especially after a rainstorm, this is a good indication that something isn’t right. Water gathering in pools around the foundation of your home means the ground isn’t level and water is seeping towards the base. Hiring a professional to both level the ground and pump the water away from the house is most likely the best course of action here.

    2. Water leaks don’t always show up easily, so looking out for water stains on the walls or ceiling is a good way to tell if anything is wrong with the house. You might notice it as well with discoloured baseboards or musty smells.

    3. Inspecting the perimeter of your home will let you know if there is a problem. If you see cracks or breakage, this is not a good sign. Making sure the siding, whether it’s brick, wood, vinyl or metal, is at least six inches above the bottom of the foundation is helpful, because often times, dirt and debris can make its way in there and shrink the clearance area. This provides a place for moisture to invade. If possible, power wash and clean away this dirt and buildup to improve the clearance.

  16. Amazon is one of the largest online retailers in the world. With an estimated net worth of nearly $20 billion dollars, this massive portal has changed the ways in which online shopping occurs. It is therefore understandable that the recent announcement of Amazon entering into the Australian marketplace and the intention to use Melbourne as their base for operations has turned quite a few heads. Why is this movement so important and what could it potentially mean for the average Melbourne business? Let's take a closer look at the answers to both of these questions, as the face of the retail industry could be forever transformed.

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    The Potential Winners

    The answer to the first question, primarily depends upon the type of business. For example, it is predicted that online sellers within Melbourne will reap the greatest number of benefits. As they will soon be presented with an entirely new venue to digitally promote their items, their overall ROI should dramatically increase.

    This same observation can be made for international sellers who have been looking to tap into the lucrative Australian marketplace. As they can ship their products directly to the consumer, these sellers will likely enjoy a greater amount of business. However, we should keep in mind that this relationship will partially depend upon the strength of the Australian dollar in relation with other major currencies such as the pound and the euro. 

    The Possible Losers

    The bad news is that traditional retailers might not fare so well. When Amazon does indeed enter into the Australian marketplace, consumers may opt for cheaper goods from international sources as opposed to purchasing similar items from a local business. This is particularly the case in terms of Melbourne-based electronics firms, as Amazon has always had a strong market share within this industry. The only possible trade-off is that those businesses which are able to translate their operations into the e-commerce sector will likely enjoy success over time. Still, these predictions have yet to materialise. 

    The Employment Sector

    Many are rightfully concerned as to whether the introduction of Amazon will bolster or deflate the job market. Robert Bruce,
    Amazon’s director of operations for Australia attempts to alleviate concerns stating “Over time, we will bring thousands of new jobs to Australia and millions of dollars of investment as well as opening up the opportunity for thousands of Australian businesses to sell at home and abroad through Amazon Marketplace.”

    Those businesses within Melbourne (and throughout the entire country) which are able to adapt to the online retail community could very well see their businesses expand at a rapid pace.

    Thanks to the new warehouse to be located in Dandenong East, local trades such as sales, customer service, HR, Operations Managers and warehouse operatives will all be in high demand.

    However, the verdict is still out as to whether traditional retail businesses will be forced to downsize. 

    The Real Estate Impact

    We should also expect to see some changes within the real estate market. As The
    Financial Review highlights, dropping brick-and-mortar sales may impact the number of commercial leases being renewed throughout Melbourne. However, there is a potential bright side as well. Businesses centred around the field of e-commerce could very well experience increased sales. Thus, they might require more office space to store and ship goods to the end user. This will particularly impact the Melbourne metropolitan area thanks to the looming presence of a truly gargantuan Amazon warehouse. 

    The entrance of this giant online retailer into the Australian marketplace will certainly shake things up a bit. However, few analysts are surprised at such a move and it only makes sense in a world increasingly defined by digital purchases. The main question is how Melbourne businesses will adapt to this shift and if they will be able to capitalise upon such a profound move into the future. 


     

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    Your bedroom should be a place of leisure where you can kick back and let every nerve and muscle in your body just chill. By doing this, your body can fully recuperate from hassles and stresses of your everyday life. But is it possible to enjoy this rejuvenating power of your bedroom if your bedroom contains unhealthy elements such as a bed or bedding that’s made from synthetic materials filled with hazardous compounds, or if you have poor ventilation and no fresh air? Probably not.

    There are lots of reasons to keep your bedroom natural and ensure that it maintains its powers of rejuvenation and some of these reasons include;

    1. Improper lighting messes with your sleep cycle.

    Natural lighting is hands down the best no matter the situation you are in and that includes when you are resting. If you have bright glaring light in your bedroom when you should be resting, it tampers with your sleep and can lead to you waking up feeling totally unrested. Keep lighting natural in your room by installing the right LED lights for night time, especially if you are one of those who aren’t comfortable sleeping in total darkness. This will help ensure your body can sleep properly and rest your mind as well as everything else to strengthen you for the coming day.

    1. Poor ventilation is unhealthy.

    Fresh air is very important for both overt and subtle reasons. If your bedroom’s window is constantly closed, it simply means you are breathing in all the old air and stale gases your body has expelled and this isn’t healthy in the long run. Open your windows as frequently as possible to let fresh air in and clear out the old air. This will keep you cool the right way instead of depending solely on recirculated air from fans and air conditioning. And if you are totally averse to opening your window for some reason, place some leafy potted plants in your bedroom. These plants will absorb carbon dioxide and other unhealthy elements from the atmosphere of your bedroom and give you clean, fresh oxygen in return. These potted plants should be natural, not synthetic ones.

    What about the bed?

    You can heighten the comfort and enjoyment of your bedroom by also throwing out your old synthetic mattress and replacing it with a natural organic one. According to Brentwood Home, “…organic mattresses are some of the most comfortable natural sleep products you can use to get the best night's sleep…”

    If you opt for a natural mattress, you can expect to enjoy the following benefits;

    1. Synthetic mattresses are well known for harboring dust mites, mold, and certain forms of bacteria. All these elements can be causes of irritation for you while you sleep. But with an organic mattress, all that goes out the window because the composition of an organic mattress ensures that it is mold-resistant, anti-bacterial, as well as capable of repelling dust mites.

    2. Organic mattresses are made from wholly natural materials and are thus free of the harmful chemicals found in synthetic mattresses. Some of these toxic chemicals in synthetic mattresses have been found to cause cancers as well as trigger allergies.

    3. Natural mattresses have moisture wicking capabilities which means no more sweat drenched sleepless nights for you.

    4. Instead of depending on hazardous chemicals, organic mattresses have their own natural fire resistant properties.

    5. The 100% natural wool and cotton mix of organic mattresses make them more breathable and ensure you can keep cool in summer, and warm in winter while you sleep.

    6. And best of all, natural mattresses are biodegradable and environmentally friendly. This means when you throw it out, it will be absorbed back into earth without negatively impacting the environment.

     

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    For people who have become more conscious of what goes into what they eat, the good news is that an escalating amount of food manufacturers are proposing organic options, making organic food one of the fastest-growing sectors of food production in the United States. The bad news is that all of those options can be uncertain, especially when factoring in food made without GMOs (genetically modified organisms). Some people could be trying to eat an all-organic diet, and others may simply be trying to dodge GMOs. Although foods may be labeled as USDA-certified organic or Non-GMO, consumers may not understand the difference. In some cases, there is an overlap between the USDA Organic and Non-GMO labels, but there are some key differences consumers should be aware of when trying to make the distinction between organic foods and foods made without GMOs.

    Normally, foods with the USDA Organic label have been manufactured without the use of GMOs as well as other standards that certify that the food has been produced with at least 95 percent organic ingredients. Foods that have been labeled as Non-GMO, on the other hand, only need to meet the criteria that they contain less than 1 percent of GMO content. Foods certified as Non-GMO may have been exposed to fertilizers or chemical pesticides, animals may have been subjected to hormones or antibiotics, and livestock may not have been fed using 100 percent organic feed. In short, all USDA Organic certified foods are Non-GMO, but not all Non-GMO certified foods are organic.

    The inflated variety and selection accessible at the grocery store today may be more confusing, but anyone who is concerned about what goes into their favorite organic chocolate brands will need to know the difference between the labeling and what the labels mean. The following chart helps delineate the differences between USDA Organic and Non-GMO labels, so review it the next time you check the labels on your favorite snacks.

    Check out the useful infographic that spray drying company, PacMoore has created below:

     

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  18. Every once in a while there comes the time to freshen up your garden and it is important to remove your green waste the responsible way. A common problem that arises is what to do with all that garden leftovers. If you are looking for Eco-friendly ways to get rid of your yard waste you are in luck because what follows is a comprehensive guide on how to dispose of your green waste without harming the environment. Read on and enjoy.


     

    Turn your waste into an eco-friendly fertilizer

    Much of your yard waste can be turned into compost that may be reused later as a fertilizer in your garden. Grass, veggie scraps and flower cuttings are ideal matter for this purpose. You will need a DIY composting bin or specially designed composting station. Do get in touch with your local government administration, as the office may provide composting bins for free to encourage sustainable gardening practices. It is important to take proper care of your composting bin – keep it moist and secure and add layers of different materials regularly. Unprotected composting bins may attract insects and rodents. Take a look at composting know-how to learn more.


     

    Use the worms

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    Beware fellow gardeners as vermicomposting is on the rise! More and more home-grown and professional gardeners are drawn to using worms as green waste disposal system which can turn garden and organic home waste into the ultimate soil enricher. Designated worm species, such as red wigglers and white worms will gradually consume your waste and turn it into nutrients-rich worm castings that can be used as a top or side dressing for the plants or worked into the soil without burning the roots. You can get worm boxes from your local gardening store or make them yourself. If you opt for the latter, do remember to line the box with fabric and drill little holes for drainage.


     

    Arrange waste pick-up

    Many countries have implemented regular yard waste pick-up – you simply need to bag your waste and leave it on your parkway. Unfortunately, there is a significant drawback to this method, as you are allowed to dispose of limited amount of garden leftovers. When you are planning a major clean-up or you are about to finish an extensive yard project it is a good idea to hire professional waste removal company to tackle your garden waste problem. Companies such as 1300 Rubbish will take care of as much of green waste as you need. The undeniable advantage of waste pick-up is the fact that you won't have to lift a finger, as the heavy lifting will be done by the professionals.


     

    Take it to the nearest waste collection center

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    If you do not want to arrange for organized waste pick-up you can always take your garden trash to the nearest collection service yourself. This method might be time-consuming, but it gives you the comfort of knowing that your waste has been disposed of legally and safely. You can also find tailor-made facilities designed specifically to handle large quantities of green waste. Collection centers and dumps may charge you a small fee per weight or load and you will be expected to unload your deposit in the right section of the tip.


     

    Garden waste can build up pretty quickly, therefore it is essential to implement efficient and sustainable strategy for green waste removal. You no longer need gas-guzzling chippers or heavy machinery to get rid of excessive waste, as with the help of our 4 tips you will be able to handle your green waste like an expert!

  19. Based on the findings of the US Department of Energy (DOE), homeowners shell out $2,000 or more every year to heat their private pools using conventional electricity. If we go by data, there are approximately 800,000 pools in Florida alone, including the above-ground ones.  Although Florida hardly gets cold, you can extend the swimming season by opting for solar pool heating in your Tampa home.  Here are some of the most important reasons to choose the solar option over traditional pool heaters:

    Efficiency

    Solar heaters have the capacity to heat your pool efficiently provided the panels are professionally installed to harness the sun’s free energy. With proper installation, you can expect to raise your pool’s temperature by up to 15 degrees, especially when you experience a nip in the air. During the cooler months, you can consider using solar blankets as well to maintain the water temperature. You can use them when the pool is not in use. The blankets will trap the heat and stop the unnecessary evaporation of water.

    You can also lower the water temperature during the hot summer months if you have a solar pool heater installed. Obviously, you cannot cool the water when the temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit. But if you run the heater overnight instead of turning it on during the day, the water circulating will cool by several degrees, making the pool water more comfortable to take a plunge.

    Extended Swimming Season

    A solar pool heater together with covers can extend your swimming season, especially during the summer months from May to October. These pool heaters are designed to adjust the water temperature for a comfortable dip. It depends on the season and the amount of sunlight received.  When the Florida Solar Energy Center monitored pools in the Sunshine State some two decades ago, they found that most of the homeowners enjoyed swimming for approximately 110 days in a year. Eventually, with the advancement of solar equipment and technology, people with private pools could extend the swimming season to about 290 days. It means that you can enjoy a refreshing dip with your family and kids a little longer than you have expected.

    Durable

    Gas heaters with a lifespan of about five years are not as efficient as solar ones. Moreover, they call for a lot of care and maintenance. And it is needless to say that periodic upkeep will add to your pool heating costs further. Solar pool heating systems, on the contrary, come with a 12-year warranty and last for 10-20 years requiring little or no maintenance at all. With your pool’s filtering system and chemical balance working fine, they will last for years to come. Solar panels are designed from high-quality polypropylene. They include an additional 35 percent of the material. Solar pool heaters also have UV stabilizers, making it more durable than conventional heaters.

    Eco-Friendly

    Solar pool heaters are extremely environment-friendly. In fact, you are contributing to the green cause by installing a photovoltaic (PV) system. That’s because the sun’s energy is pure and clean.

    The benefits of solar pool heating in Tampa are hard to ignore. With the significant drop in the prices of equipment over the last few years, installing PV systems is a safe and economical option for homeowners in the city. So, are you ready to take the plunge?

  20. The sustainable building trend is not just good for the planet, but for the economy — green construction is expected to account for 3.3 million jobs in the U.S. alone by 2018, a 143.5 percent increase over 2015. Green construction involves the design, construction and/or operation of buildings in ways that reduce any harmful impact on the environment and/or on human health. Some of these include reducing the carbon footprint of manufacture, preserving air and water quality, minimizing toxic emissions, and increasing energy efficiency in building operations. Sustainable building also can be economically beneficial. Using green materials and practices often benefits local economies, and the focus on energy efficiency frequently results in significant savings for property owners.

    The following infographic was created by Accurate Perforating Company and highlights 10 green building materials to consider for your next green building project.

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    green-building-materials.pdf

  21. More than 1 million U.S. homes now sport solar panels on the roof. That number is expected to double in the next two years as the cost of solar continues to decline and solar awareness continues to rise.
     
    While making the shift to solar is good for the environment, that’s not the only reason to invest in solar technology. Here are just a few of the many benefits homeowners can realize by going solar. 

    5 Reasons So Many Homeowners Are Going Solar

    1.    Solar is a good investment. While the exact ROI for solar varies according to location and other factors, research indicates that in most states it makes financial sense to go solar. Specifically, solar brings a better return than a five-year CD in 86 percent of states. If you live in one of the top 13 states for solar, you’ll actually do better with your solar panels than you would by investing in the S&P 500. 
    2.    Solar is reliable. With any technology comes the potential for failure, but solar bucks the trend by being one of the least likely of your home’s systems to break down. While solar panels are typically warranted for 25 years, 90 percent of them last 30 years or longer. One report showed that many 40-year-old panels are still generating power at 80 percent of their efficiency. In addition, a residential solar system typically has no moving parts, and almost never needs repair. 
    3.    Solar is security. Concerned about power grid security, future energy price hikes, and/or the escalating effects of global climate change on the weather? Installing a solar system with battery backup is an excellent way to ensure that you will always have the power you need at a price you can afford. 
    4.    Solar protects our planet. Sunshine is a clean, renewable energy source that does not contribute to global climate change. While all manufacture has an impact on the environment, solar panels create far more energy in their lifetime than is consumed by making them. In fact, an average 4 KW solar power system offsets nearly 200,000 pounds of carbon dioxide in its first 25 years. It would take planting more than 2,000 trees to equal that amount of carbon offset.  
    5.    Solar is hot — and that’s cool. Who doesn’t like to be the cool kid on the block? Solar is an undeniably hot and trendy technology, so why not add a system to your roof and enjoy witnessing the “panel envy” of your neighbors and friends?   

    How to Go Solar at Home

    According to Google’s Project Sunroof, nearly four out of five U.S. homes have enough unshaded area to install solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. So when you’re ready for a larger investment in your home (similar to what you would pay for a kitchen remodel or home addition), chances are good that solar will pay off for you.  

    That said, PV panels aren’t the only way to go solar in your home. Here are more ideas, at a variety of price points for any budget:
    •    Solar water heater — A typical solar water heating system saves 50-80 percent on monthly water heating costs, even in a cloudy climate.
    •    Solar landscape lighting — Solar outdoor lighting doesn’t just save electricity. It’s also safer and reduces maintenance because you won’t have to run power lines outside. 
    •    Solar chargers — A solar phone charger lets you charge your phone from anywhere, even on a hiking trip or in a boat! 
    •    Solar Christmas lights — Solar LED holiday lights are convenient to set up, and can save you up to $10 for every 300 hours they’re lit.

    These are just a few of the many benefits you can realize by going solar at home. Check out this infographic to discover even more compelling reasons why so many Americans these days are choosing to add solar to their homes. 

    Ryan McNeill is the president of Renewable Energy Corporation, one of the largest residential solar energy companies in the mid-Atlantic region. It is committed to providing homeowners with high-quality, American-made solar panels and solar energy products. 

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  22. In today’s economic uncertainty and fluctuating weather Calgary homeowners are increasingly interested in reducing their home’s impact on the environment, which can also help lower energy and utility costs. 

    Built Green Canada, a national organization with a certification program that rates the level at which a home is energy-efficient, measuring factors such as the materials and methods used in construction, ventilation, waste management, water conservation, and indoor air quality. The Calgary Herald has reported that Calgary and area builders enrolled more single-family homes in the Built Green Canada program in 2016 than a year earlier, and again more homes in the Calgary area were enrolled in the program over the first three months of 2017 than the same time last year. 

    Built Green Canada notes that there are a number of roofing materials and methods that improve thermal performance and offer energy benefit including recycled-content roofing systems and those with a minimum 30-year manufacturer warranty on roofing material. To help you make eco-friendly choices when you need roofing and siding replacement our roofing contractors at Century Roofing Limited have pulled together these common roofing related ways to make your home environmentally friendly:
    •    Proper insulation and ventilation of a roof system - reductions in power and fossil fuels used in the heating and cooling processes will help make a more environmentally efficient household.
    •    Daylighting - bring natural daylight into your home will benefit the environment by reducing electricity, and provide healthy natural light to the household. 
    •    Landscaping - keeping vegetation growth from encroaching on a roof area will aid in air circulation and reduce wear and tear on your roof system. Extending the life of the roof system reduces the material usage over time, saves money, and lowers the environmental impact. 
    •    Proper roof maintenance - keeping the gutters, downspouts, and roof area free of debris will help extend the life of a roof system. By utilizing the full life span of a roof system homeowners can delay replacement, which in turn results in cost savings and less material waste. 

    Albertans are increasingly embracing eco-friendly building options as evident in Built Green Canada’s efforts and events such as Edmonton’s Eco-Solar Home Tour, now in its 17th year (June 3-4, 2017), showcasing ways to maximize energy efficiency at home. Century Roofing Limited can help you to fill all those needs. We handle virtually everything having to do with roofing. No project is too big or small for our roofing contractors; see what our Calgary roofers can provide:
    •    Historical renovations;
    •    Custom designs/installations using quality craftsmanship and materials;
    •    Large-scale commercial or varied sized residential roofing projects;
    •    Roofing, eavestroughing, soffit and fascia renovation and repair; and 
    •    Siding maintenance and repair.

    At Century Roofing Limited, we handle virtually everything having to do with roofing and offer a host of eco-friendly options. If you have questions about your homes or business exterior contact us at 403-235-5457 today to plan your next project and get a free estimate. Serving central and southern Alberta and eastern British Columbia.

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    Every generation has its own defining issue, and unfortunately, ours is climate change. Climate change is affecting people and communities all over the world. Apart from being a major threat to humankind, climate change has far-reaching impacts on the entire ecosystem. For over a quarter of a century, activists and concerned citizens have been discussing climate change through public broadcasting. Back in the In the 80's, the main focus was on recognizing and discussing the potential threats. In the past 30 years, we have thoroughly examined the actual impacts and yet failed to effectively address global warming. We’re all aware that Global Warming is happening as a direct consequence of human activities. That’s why activists and concerned citizens like Solly Assa, are struggling to keep the American public informed.

    Over time the conversation has changed, but the problem has remained unsolved. Solly Assa calls everyone to become emotionally, practically, intellectually and politically and involved in this battle to save our planet. The effects of Climate Change are already with us and if we continue down this path, the planet that as we all know it, may be given a 10-year deadline. The actual impact has caused heat waves, droughts, ocean acidification, and floods. Global warming has also exacerbated poverty, hunger, and spread of diseases. The consequences of climate change are very real, and if we don’t take drastic changes, it can even lead to the worst consequence, which is leaving that planet

    As an individual, Mr. Assa has helped by taking action to reduce his personal carbon emissions and encourages more people to do the same. We all need to take responsibility and reduce Carbon Emissions now. Once we start dealing with the problem on an individual level, together we can get the support needed to build a community that can make a difference.  To fully address the threat of global warming, we need to seek action from our leaders who have the power to implement comprehensive solutions. In December 2015, world leaders agreed to limit Global Warming to 2°C, but since then we haven’t seen some life real action. For example, countries like Denmark have committed to 100 percent renewables, while China has increased their renewable energy consumption.

    Because of climate change, humans and wild animals face new challenges for survival. If we don't reduce greenhouse gas emissions drastically, then the results will be catastrophic for the climate. Education and information play important roles as facilitators of climate understanding. Nowadays there is a wide range of documentaries and other informational media that can help us get to the bottom of this issue. But in order to succeed, we all need to be a part of the solution. Together we have the power to limit the effects of climate change. We have all participated in the over-use of our planet, and now the time has come for us to unite and start fighting for our home.

  23. Ever since people started realising the need of keeping the environment clean and healthy, that’s when the concept of using reusable shopping bags came into existence. There was a time when people used to use paper bags for carrying their essentials, but then came plastic bags. Well, now people do understand the dangers plastic bags bring with them, hence efforts are being made to cease their usage. The best solution to both of these varieties is these bags. Yes, canvas shopping bags do rectify all the flaws posed by paper and plastic bag, and undoubtedly these bags are here to stay. These bags are durable, sturdy, and capable enough to bear heavy weights. Here is why you should use these bags.

    Because Canvas Bags are Eco-Friendly

    Canvas bags are loaded with several benefits. Not that these bags are long-lasting and durable, these do not harm the environment as well. How? The answer is quite straightforward and simple. These bags can be used for a long period of time, unlike plastic and paper bags. In this way, lesser amount of waste is produced. And that is not where the benefits of these bags end, these are biodegradable as well, so no need to regret if you get bored with one of your previously favorite canvas shopping bags. But do keep in mind that you need to use these bags for quite a long period of time in order to recompense their extensive carbon footprint and hazard to the environment.

    With the increasing demand, canvas bags bulk are available in various stores of the market. To give a tough competition to paper and plastic bags, these bags are available in different variants and hues. Ladies are often seen flaunting their beautiful canvas bags on the streets. So, what are you waiting for? Grab one for yourself today to keep the environment clean, green, and healthy.

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