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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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    Becoming Environmentally Conscious

    As you might have known, air pollution threatens the livelihood of both humans and the environment every day. According to the EPA, “680 to 1,700 premature deaths have resulted in heart or lung disease,” which may be attributed to hazardous air pollutants linked to cancer. Continual exposure to the toxic environment has decreased the longevity of the average human life. Fortunately, many parts of the United States are fully dedicated to becoming environmentally conscious and want to provide a sustainable lifestyle for everybody to enjoy.

    There are several criteria for becoming an eco-friendly state, which includes usage of renewable resources, effective recycling and management of waste, access to organic/local food, green transportation methods, air and water quality, and land dedicated to quality green space, such as parks and recreational areas. By meeting this criteria, carbon footprint decreases dramatically.

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    Vermont: The Road to Becoming Environmentally Conscious

    Vermont is considered the number one most environmentally conscious state in the United States. Being the second least populous state, Vermont is devoted to providing healthier living for their limited number of residents. It has the lowest carbon footprint and the fewest carcinogenic toxins, helping to provide that well-known, crisp, mountain air. This is due to policies that promote renewable and alternative energy, recycling, and many local food choices.

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    Living the Vermont Lifestyle

    Vermont promotes healthy living by providing plenty of outdoor leisure activities. There are many areas in the state that allow swimming, biking, horseback riding, boating, golfing, and walking – many of them throughout Vermont’s vast mountain ranges. Quechee Lakes is an example of healthy Vermont-style living, located just south of Burlington. It’s a community that provides outdoor activities for all residents around the area.

    It is also home to one of the best skiing locations in the country. Burlington, which is Vermont’s main hub, has a growing business community that attracts many friendly entrepreneurs, delicious local restaurants, and a lively nightlife.

    Vermont is also very family-friendly. Many leisure activities are kid-friendly, and include public parks, walking trails, rock climbing, and fishing.

    Conclusions

    Being environmentally friendly is no easy task, but is becoming necessary to sustain a practical level of health. If you want this type of risk-free environment, Vermont is the perfect place to enjoy both a healthy lifestyle and an eco-friendly environment. Start making the change today!

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    KQB has developed a campaign calling for the prohibition of the release of helium balloons in the state of Queensland because of the threat to wildlife and source of litter forced into waterways. When deflated balloons are floating in waterways they can be ingested by marine life such as turtles, fish and dolphins. Despite being made from biodegradable latex, Balloons floating in the ocean can take up to 12 month to degrade.

    Balloons have a devastating impact on wildlife and the environment. Helium balloons climb until the atmosphere and then slowly deflate falling on the land and in the vast oceans. This is the main reason why balloons is clearly considered litter. The Queensland government spends a considerable amount of money collecting a growing number of balloons off beaches, hiking trails and in the middle of the ocean. Balloons are often swallowed by turtles, birds, dolphins and whales getting lodged in the digestive tract and causing, in most of the cases, death. As a consequence, every year millions of animals die around the globe due to ingestion of balloons.

    In addition, Helium is the second most abundant element in the planet but this is not a reason to continue wasting tons of this gas every year until our stock is at risk of burning out. Probably, in the future, our grandchildren will not believe that we have used such an important gas to fill balloons. For this reason, our community should not be wasting such a precious gas on non-essential purposes such as party decoration.

    Unfortunately, the world’s reserve of helium is fast depleting and most experts are predicting that we will run out of the element within the next 25 to 40 years. Scientist warn that helium is becoming so scarce that its use in balloons has to be limited or stopped. Helium is used mostly in hospitals for keeping magnets cool in MRI scanners and is mixed with oxygen to aid the breathing of the seriously ill and newborn babies. It has been reported that the use of helium resources for filling party balloons constituted up to 10% of global helium consumption in 2009 (Wothers, Royal Institute Christmas lectures, 2012). For this reason, this element should be properly managed and only used for scientific and medical purposes.

    The Canadian government no longer allows the release of balloons in public festivities and most of the states of the USA have also banned balloon release. European members have banned or put restriction on the sales and use of helium balloons. In Australia, NSW have also banned the release of the helium balloon in private festivities such as wedding or birthday parties and offenders are penalized with a $200 fine. Based on discussions with a number of governments that have already instigated a ban, it seems that this action has been most successful in preventing the well-known consequences of helium balloons.

    Millions of balloons get released into the skies in many celebrations every year. This means that there are millions of deflated balloons littering the ocean floors and countryside throughout Australia and the rest of the world. The impressive visual impact of thousands of balloons being released into the sky may last a few minutes, but the impact on wildlife and the marine environment may last many months with potentially harmful and fatal consequences. Mass releases of balloons are a symbol of wasteful society, while smaller release and balloon races, result in a high number of litter that require different kind of resources to clean it up.

    Also, we must therefore look for other ways to conserve this non-renewable resource. Helium cannot be made artificially and it is produced by separating it from natural gas. The scarcity of Helium is a really serious issue and once it is realized in the atmosphere it is gone forever. Helium supplies are limited and we should not be filling balloons with it and sending it into the atmosphere to be wasted when supplies are getting low.

    KQB’s campaign have had an important impact, either in discouraging the release of helium balloons in Queensland or at least awareness of issues for consumers to take into account purchasing them. However, KQB aim to ban the release of helium balloons in Queensland with an appropriate penalty to ensure that the use of helium is minimized by citizens and controlled by the Queensland Government.

    To get this important purpose, Keep Queensland Beautiful needs the support of our community to gather the most possible signatures in this E-Petition:

    http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-assembly/petitions/e-petition?PetNum=2128

  3. Most people don’t change their air filters as often as they’re supposed to. It often takes months before they’re changed out, and sometimes, only after a significant amount of dust has settled on the furnace vents.

    However, changing your air filters on a regular basis is a necessity in order for proper indoor air filtration to work. Read on to find out more about why this is necessary.

    Changing them regularly avoids damage to your HVAC system.

    Dirt and neglect are both leading causes of HVAC systems failing. The good news is that this is completely avoidable. One way of avoiding this is by checking on the air filters regularly, as a clogged air filter can cause damage to your system. Instead of having to change your system due to this damage, try to change out the air filter as regularly as possible.

    It ensures consistently cleaner air inside the house.

    Air filters collect dust and other small particles, and prevent them from being circulated around your home where they can just as easily be inhaled. Keeping air filters cleaned, or changed out to new ones, translates to cleaner, healthier, and all-around fresher air that is better for your home and the entire family - especially those suffering from respiratory conditions such as asthma.

    It can save costs.

    Air filters not only prevent unwanted particles from circulating around your home, they can also, in a way, protect the HVAC system from unnecessary damage. A clogged filter is bad news, as it means your HVAC system will need to work harder in order to produce cleaner air, and these could lead to your system being damaged. Repairs for HVAC systems tend to be costly, so avoiding something like this would not only keep your home’s air clean, it also keeps you from shelling out money just to have the system fixed. We’re looking at up to 15% savings on utility costs by using an air filter.

    There are certainly various kinds of air filters available in the market, and you can even find some of them through their respective websites. Regardless of the filter you use to keep your indoor air healthy, all types and sizes of filters need to be cleaned and changed in order to keep functioning properly.

  4. Office-Design-Fit-Out-Environmental-Audi

    For decades, business has been depicted as an unstoppable force of pollution and wasteful practices victimizing the natural world. Now, however, increasingly efficient technology has made it both affordable and easy to reduce your company's impact on the environment. These are ten of the most quick and effective ways to green your office and contribute to the conservation movement.

    Mind the Lights

    In busy offices, it can be tempting to leave lights on at all times. Not only does this harm the environment by wasting electricity and requiring the manufacture of more light bulbs, but it also runs up your energy bill. A simple reminder to turn off the lights as employees exit a room is all that is needed to be more eco-friendly.

    Reduce Paper Consumption

    Despite operating in the digital age, many companies blow through reams of paper without a second thought and then throw it into a landfill to decompose. Paper waste is easy to overlook and even easier to correct. Set printers to print double-sided pages to automatically cut paper use in half, or buy recycled paper to save a few more trees. Whenever possible, keep documents digital and distribute them through email or cloud sharing. Even the paper cups seen so often in break rooms or by a water cooler can be replaced by personal mugs.

    Organize Car Pools

    Offices tend to draw in employees from miles away, driving alone for the entire trip. With some careful planning, commuters can lower their monthly gas bills while adding less carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Encourage your workers to make plans based on geographic proximity and to trade off driving duties. Although it takes coordination and responsibility, an established car pool is easy to maintain and beneficial to all parties.

    Minimize Heating and Air Conditioning

    The perceived need to keep air at a steady temperature throughout the year leads to an overuse of heating and air conditioning when people are perfectly capable of acclimating to seasonal variations. A difference of a few degrees, lower in winter and higher in summer, will in all likelihood only be noticeable to accountants tallying up savings in your heating and air conditioning budget.

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    Promote Recycling

    Recycling is one of the oldest methods used to improve eco-consciousness, and it remains one of the most valuable. Giving resources a second life removes pressure from the environment, which sustains a massive load of new development and mining in large part due to inefficiency and a reliance on immense landfills. Encourage recycling by placing bins next to regular trash cans and hosting educational workshops to refresh knowledge about what can and cannot be recycled. Businesses can further recycle paper, cardboard boxes and packing supplies, which is again likely to save money.

    Use Green Cleaning Products

    Air quality in an office can contain more pollutants than the outside world because of toxic cleaning supplies. These chemicals, when flushed down a drain, also contaminate water supplies and local soil, leading to a buildup that damages plants and animals in the area. Nontoxic cleaning supplies result in the same sanitary surfaces but are less damaging to employees and the environment.

    Buy Used

    Recycling supplies manufacturers with more eco-friendly materials, but it is better to recycle equipment as well. Used office furniture is just as practical as new and often shows little to no signs of wear. Even better, they come at a steep discount for the same quality. Another option is to rent serviced offices, which may be fully furnished and use fewer resources with every transition.

    Optimize Computer Settings

    Electronics are now so ubiquitous in office settings that they are left running without much regard for their energy consumption. Besides being kept on to needlessly sap electricity, they may also be running at a higher performance level than standard office work requires. Change computer settings to power saving modes so that they will go to sleep during stretches of inactivity and moderate performance. At night, unplug the power strip as well as shutting down the machines to prevent electricity leeching.

    Grow Plants

    Office plants are a beautiful accent that also improve air quality in a building. Businesses with grounds can take this one step further by planting trees or even converting some acreage to a natural ecosystem. Lawns, though pleasant to look at, demand far more water, nutrients and fossil fuels to maintain while providing no value to local wildlife.

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    Consider Telecommuting

    More and more businesses are turning to telecommuting as a cost-effective way to reduce the space needs and environmental impact of their offices. There are still concerns about employee productivity, but dedicated workers can actually get more done without the worries of commuting and office politics. The move can cut costs for everyone involved and drastically reduce the environmental footprint of each employee.

  5. Do you have any idea how many cigarette butts are littered in Australia each year? Billions. Those small things, combined together, have some serious impact on the environment around us. Let’s see how. For starters the cigarette smoke contains about 4000 chemicals, and every second the butt is alight those toxins are released in the environment. Another problem, that carelessly flicked cigarettes cause, are fires. But the true problem is caused by the material the butts are made from. The filters are made from cellulose acetate which causes a lot of problems, when not disposed properly.

    Now imagine what happens with all those billions of cigarette butts, when it starts raining for instance. They are washed off the streets and alleys to the nearest water reservoir or even worse the ocean, where the toxins from the filters poison the water. And that could be deadly for the marine life.

    And do you know how long does it take for one cigarette butt to break down entirely – up to 12 months. But in water that period is much longer – it could take up to 5 year. Can you imagine that?! And each year new cigarette butts are added to the pile, again and again.

    Cigarette butts could be mistakenly eaten by some of the sea animals, there are cases when cigarette butts are being found in the stomach system of birds and fishes. The chemicals contain in the cigarette filter ( lead and cadmium) could leach in the water. There are plenty more ways in which the cigarette butts affect the nature.

    What can you do in order to prevent all that from happening and preserve the environment. According to Paul's cleaning team in Melbourne, there's nothing easier that leading a green lifestyle. Dispose the cigarette butts the proper way not by flicking them wherever you like. Use ashtrays. It’s only a small step, but if everyone take it you will see how big impact it could have.

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  6. 5 Ways Your Factory Can Lessen Its Environmental Impact.JPG

    For years now, people have been taking steps to help save the planet in their everyday lives. But the fault of our dying planet lies not within the average individual, but within massive industries. It is time for factories to take action to lessen their environmental impact.

    Measure Your Carbon Footprint

    In order to lessen your carbon footprint, first you need to know the size of your carbon footprint. Measure how much damage your factory is doing by taking a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessment. From there, you can develop a plan to shrink that footprint.

    Use Green Technology

    Ever since the industrial revolution, factories have been using fossil fuels, like coal. These nonrenewable sources are disposed back into the air in the form of greenhouse gasses. It’s time to ditch these outdated processes and embrace technologies such as solar panels, wind energy and LED light bulbs. Factories can seriously benefit by switching to renewable energy sources.

    Recycle Materials

    You probably have pieces of scrap steel laying around from previous equipment or projects. Call a scrap metal collector to come and pick up the pieces. Collectors use your waste metal to recycle them into new projects. One of the best ways to protect the environment is to use what we already have.

    Steel production admits greenhouse gasses into the air and dangerous pollutants into surrounding water sources. But recycling already-made steel leaves a much smaller carbon footprint. Recycling scrap metal also keeps mining away from wildlife, takes less time than extracting new metal, and keeps waste out of our ever-multiplying landfills.

    Dispose of Waste Responsibly

    Factories’ haphazard waste disposal has led to the pollution of the surrounding soil and local water sources. As seen in the Flint Water Crisis, contaminated water can cause serious health problems for humans and animals that rely on that water. Sometimes the contaminated water is absorbed into soil where crops are planted. This further spreads the contamination to large supplies of food. Many strategies to reduce and dispose of manufacturing waste have been developed recently. Being more mindful about where your waste goes can lessen damaging effects.

    Be Adaptable

    The companies that have survived the longest are the ones that are most willing to adapt to the current times. And currently, people are concerned about the planet. We have wizened about how we impact the environment. And with the rise of the internet, consumers are more aware of than ever before where their products come from and how they are made. Generation Z, in particular, likes to spend their money on products that are ethically made.

    Change may not always be easy, but it is extremely necessary. Be open-minded about changes. After all, the changes you are making are beneficial for the whole planet.

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

     

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

     

    Attic insulation

     

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

     

    Install a cool roof

     

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

     

    Roof paint

     

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

     

    Solar panels

     

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

     

    Green roofs

     

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

     

    Avoiding asphalt shingles

     

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

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

     

    Image source: Flickr - phototouring

  8. 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

     

  9.  

    There has always been a debate about bugs – most people fear and hate them, others don't. To be honest I have to agree with the old saying that goes “the only good bug is the dead bug”, but either way these creatures are unique in the ways they organize themselves, how they adapt and the survival mechanisms they employ. Not to mention that they are extremely functional and most times I wish I was so useful to nature!

    Do you know that you don't always need chemicals in the war against insects? There are different pest control techniques you could try in your house. This way your home will simply be unattractive to different types of pests. One of the most common question in the bug business is “ How to prevent pests from getting into our home”. There can never be a straightforward answer to this question. Keep in mind that sometimes whatever you do there will be an occasional insect trying to disturb you.

    When making your house unattractive to pests start from removing litter, loose boards, etc. away from the foundations of the house. Litter is attracting pests and loose boards provide hiding places. Keep bushes and tree branches trimmed in a way they don't touch the walls of your house. Branches and bushes provide excellent pathways for ants to climb. Avoid using the outside lights all the time, because they also attract insects, especially mosquitoes, and these guys are annoying.

    Remove dead wood from your premises as it makes a great home for termites. In addition, fill any cracks in walls and doors as ants find them and use them. Make sure windows close tightly and there is no space between them and the window frames. When cleaning your house, pay more attention to the corners. Spiders prefer them for their webs. Clean thoroughly and remove all webs. This way you can make sure that you will get rid of them. You probably know this, but unless you don't, spiders are smart animals and they never build a web in a place where it will keep getting destroyed. Clean behind furniture as this might be the next place they build a web.

    When you clean the carpet and especially when you shampoo them, make sure they have dried well before introducing them back to your home. Dust mites and other insects love damp places and carpets are a great breeding spot. Occasional carpet cleaning through hot water extraction will eliminate them and will make your carpets clean and safe again. Similarly your mattress will also need a thorough cleaning once a year or every two years. Find out about bed bugs here.

    If cockroaches are a problem make sure you keep the drain covers on sinks, baths, etc. By following this simple step, their “way” will be blocked. You can occasionally pour a cupful of bleach down your drains, or freshly squeezed lemon juice at least once a week. The fumes from the bleach will keep the cockroaches away.

    Keep in mind that sometimes you will stumble upon insects, even if you have followed this advice and completed all the steps thoroughly. It is inevitable, but keep in mind that no all insects and pests. Check out what Russell Brand said: "Say a fly comes in me house; I tolerate that little asshole. He is just passing through life like I am!" If a pest or insect enters try to get rid of it without inflicting harm or spraying toxic solutions. You are harming yourself too this way. Of course, don't let things get out of hands.

  10. 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.

    toxic_cleaning_Products.jpg

    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?

  11. 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?

  12. Cylindrical roller bearing series introduces cylindrical roller bearing roller bearing sales hotline spot cylindrical roller bearing manufacturer. Cylindrical roller and race for line contact bearing. Load capacity is big, mainly bear radial load. Roller and ring guard friction small, suitable for high speed rotation. According to the ring presence of guard, NU, NJ, NUP, N, NF, such as single bearing, double row bearings and NNU, NN. The bearing inner ring and outer ring is separable structure. No guard of cylindrical roller bearing inner ring or outer ring, internal ring and outer ring can be to relative axial movement, so can be used as free end bearing. The one side of the inner ring and outer ring with double guard, on the other side of the ring has a single guard cylindrical roller bearing, can withstand a certain degree of axial load in one direction. General use of stamping steel cage, cage or copper alloy car system. But there are also part of the use of polyamide forming keep frame.

    1. The roller and raceway for the line contact or offline contact, radial bearing capacity big, apply to under heavy load and impact load.

    2. The friction coefficient is small, suitable for high speed, the limit speed close to the deep groove ball bearings.

    3. The N type and NU type axial movement, can adapt to shaft caused by thermal expansion or installation error and shell the change of relative position, can be used for free end bearing.

    4. On the shaft or hole of the processing and the demand is higher, bearing outer axis relative deflection after installation to be kept under strict control, so as not to cause contact stress concentration.

    5. The inner ring or outer ring separable, easy to install and disassemble. . Is mainly suitable for high speed and high speed running, and very durable, need not often maintenance. These bearing small friction coefficient, high limit speed, simple structure, low manufacture cost, easy to achieve high precision manufacturing. Size range and variety in form, used in precision instrument, low noise motors, automobiles, motorcycles and general machinery and other industries, is the most widely used type of bearings in machinery industry. Mainly bear radial load, also can withstand a certain amount of axial load.

    Deep groove ball bearing is my company's main products, the selection of its larger radial clearance when the axial bearing capacity increases, under pure radial force when the contact Angle is zero. With the axial force, the contact Angle is greater than zero. Usually use stamping ribbon cage, car solid cage, sometimes also used nylon frame. Main application:

    Large and medium-sized motor, locomotives, spindle, internal combustion engines, generators, gas turbines, reducer, rolling mill, vibrating screen and lifting transportation machinery roller bearing series introduces cylindrical roller bearing roller bearing sales hotline spot cylindrical roller bearing manufacturer.

  13. blog-0332422001411382917.jpg

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

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

    Everything About Green Technology Is Eco-Friendly

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

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

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

    Green Products Are Always the Best Option

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

    Green Is Always More Costly

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

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

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

    It's How You Use It that Matters

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

  14. A hot summer day or night is the perfect time to turn on the air conditioner to keep the family cool. However, what do you do if you are concerned with keeping your family comfortable while also protecting the environment? Here are some tips that you can use to achieve both goals at the same time.

    Use Geothermal Heating Sources

    A geothermal heat pump can keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. During the summer months, heat is drawn from your home via the pump and returned to the Earth. There is little to no energy needed to draw the heat out, and you can then draw the heat back into your home during the winter.

    Consider Using Natural Gas

    Natural gas is one of the cleanest burning fuels that humanity has. Using it to power your air conditioning unit or other energy producing equipment can help you save money, use less energy and protect the environment. You can find out if natural gas power is available before you buy or install your air conditioner unit.

    Use Controls And Timers To Keep The Air Conditioner From Running Nonstop

    A good way to preserve the environment is to ensure that your air conditioner is not running when you are not home. During the air conditioning installation, the people who are putting the air conditioner unit in should be able to teach you how to use it properly. Setting a timer or programming the unit to shut off when the air inside cools sufficiently avoids excessive use of your air conditioner. If you have a large house, you can use a system of fans to move cool air throughout the house.

    Keep The Ducts Clean At All Times

    If you have central air, it is important that your ducts are free from dust and other debris. Blocked ducts make it harder for your air conditioner to work as it should. This means increased energy usage and the unnecessary use of fossil fuels to keep your home cool.

    After the air conditioning installation is complete, you should have your unit checked at least twice a year to ensure that it is running properly. If you have window units, you should make sure that drain pans are emptied and each unit is properly stored during the winter to ensure maximum energy efficiency from each unit.

    It is important that your air conditioner uses as little energy as possible. Using geothermal energy sources, keeping the air conditioner off when you are not home and checking the air conditioning system periodically are all great ways to achieve that goal. The best part is that you can save money on your energy bills while you are saving the environment.

  15. The world is experiencing more threats from pollution than ever before. In addition to the climate, there are other factors that are making it more dangerous to ignore green technologies. Therefore, it is important to understand the benefits of using renewable natural gas. Here are several points to consider as we move forward:

    Recycling

    There is no secret that recycling is going to be an important part of moving forward into future generations. When we simply use products one time and throw them away, it takes away from the power we have to reuse those materials. Natural gas is used in a lot of recycling projects to prevent the greenhouse gases that pollute the atmosphere, making it key to the future of a green world.

    Heat and Cooling

    If there is one kind of energy usage that is harmful to the planet, it is heating and cooling. The machines and gases that are used in this are always being emitted into the atmosphere. Even worse, the electricity that powers these in the first place is generated via harmful, polluting mechanisms. In order to have a green world, we need to find ways to reduce this. Luckily, natural gas is a much more efficient form of natural energy. It is not going to pollute as much as a fossil fuel will.

    Cars

    There are more cars than we will ever know what to do with on earth. This means that they are either going to be on the road putting out chemicals or they are going to be put in dumps where their chemicals will leak into the environment. Either way, their gas usage should be reduced or at least switched to natural gas which is better for everyone and the planet's natural ecosystem.

    Heavy Machinery

    With a steam generator powered on natural gas, you can get machinery moving. You don't have to spend as much on the extraction of harmful fuels either. This is a winning scenario for everyone involved and is an exciting glimpse into the future of green energy.

    Not all kind of energy is created equal. Some forms actually empower us to live cleaner lives and do better for the world in which we live. When we have the opportunity to use these, it is important to take advantage of them to full effect. So make sure to review the benefits above and see how you can us natural gas in your daily life to make an impact.

    Keeping the World Green 4 Environmental Benefits of Using Renewable Natural Gas.PNG

  16. Learn why you should use natural cleaners in your household. There are safe and environment-friendly ways to keep your home cleaner and healthier.produtos-poluicao-casa-4.jpg

  17. It is likely before 2015 the government will announce an end to the free plastic carrier bag in England. Should a tax or ban be introduced on carrier bags?

    Governments and local authorities around the world have already banned or taxed free issue carrier bags, and there is pressure for legislation in England. They argue that cities must spend vast sums to clean up the bags and the damage caused by them, money that's better spent elsewhere. Not to mention that plastic bags are a nuisance on the environment, polluting waterways and other natural areas and killing off animals. Banning plastic bags, the activists say, will redirect funds to infrastructure and spur entrepreneurial efforts to come up with alternatives to plastic. Is this the answer?

    Plastic carrier bags make up less than 1% of litter on our streets. Most litter is from snack food packaging, bottles and cans, banning or taxing plastic bags will make little or no difference to the volume of litter on our streets. However, litter is a problem of social behavior, and is not specific to any one material or product.

    In 2011, 8bn plastic bags were issued in the UK and that was a 5.6% increase on 2010. The recession may have been a contributory factory with families changing their shopping behavior with smaller, more frequent shops each week. Just over a year ago a 5p charge was introduced in Wales and the amount of single-use bags has fallen significantly. Latest figures show a 70-96% reduction in the use of single-use plastic bags. Northern Ireland is set to bring in a 5p charge in 2013; Scotland had completed a consultation on a proposed charge of 5p that, if adopted, would leave England the only country without one.

    In the UK, the packaging industry employs tens of thousands of people people and generates over £10bn into the economy. The answer to the problems associated with plastic bag use is not a ban or tax, but better environmental management. As consumers we must be aware that we can make positive choices to help the environment in the way that we shop. Everyone who cuts back on the number of bags that they use makes a contribution to saving resources and reducing waste. Many materials need to be managed if they are not to harm the environment. Indeed, if not properly managed, paper can be a worse polluter than plastic bags; it occupies nine times as much space landfills, and does not break down substantially faster than plastic. If a free-issue bag can be made from renewable materials that allow the bag to be multi-use and then compostable in the home, should this be part of a tax or ban?

    Carrier bags are a distraction and a diversion. Major supermarkets don’t want to be the first to introduce a self-levy and do have voluntary agreements in place. There is growing public support and media spin that will go in favor of government action. Unfortunately, of all the bigger environmental problems we face today, carrier bags are not one of the critical issues. If only politicians were as keen to address climate change, biodiversity loss, the collapse of marine fisheries, and a lot more of the environmental problems rather than ‘window dressing’.

    A proposed tax or ban in England would discriminate unjustly against plastics and would represent an anti-competitive move and a serious restraint on trade, damaging jobs and an industry already battling against over-regulation and under-investment.

    Shameem Kazmi E s.kazmi@my.open.ac.uk Twitter: sjkazmi

    Linkedin: Shameem Kazmi Skype: shameem.kazmi

  18.  

    If you are looking for inspiration in garden designs, you have come to the right place. This post gathers quite a few landscaping ideas that can get you started in planning the garden you’ve always dreamed about. You will find a variety of garden styles in the photos below, all you have to do is pick your favorite and begin further research. The right garden accessories and plant species can set the tone for an incredible outdoor atmosphere, an invigorating place of retreat. You can embark on a memorable gardening adventure yourself, or you can hire a landscape architect to help with advice. Either way, designing your garden should be a fun, relaxing experience. Green labyrinths, cobblestone pathways, small ponds, water fountains, colorful flowers and small round trees flanking your way around the yard- these are all elements that can induce a wonderful state. After all, there is nothing like enjoying a fresh morning surrounded by your own green refuge, or taking some well deserved time off in the afternoon, after a long day’s work.

    Garden design is the art and process of designing and creating plans for layout and planting of gardens and landscapes. Garden design may be done by the garden owner themselves, or by professionals of varying levels of experience and expertise. Most professional garden designers have some training in horticulture and the principles of design, and some are also landscape architects, a more formal level of training that usually requires an advanced degree and often a state license. Amateur gardeners may also attain a high level of experience from extensive hours working in their own gardens, through casual study, serious study in Master Gardener Programs , or by joining gardening clubs.

    Plan your next garden project, overhaul your outdoor space and prepare to be inspired with our great garden ideas. A well-landscaped garden with practical design features and clever planting can help add to the look and feel of your home. Even with limited outdoor space and basic gardening skills you can still transform your patio or lawn into a relaxing garden retreat with a few simple design tricks. We'll help to have you landscape gardening before you know it with our 100s of garden pictures and ideas from around the UK.

    Garden design is the foundation of any great landscape. What does your dream garden look like? Make that dream a reality with garden design secrets, ideas, and inspiration for front yards and backyards. That includes stunning color, foliage, and plant combinations, including the best red and yellow flowers to pair together, as well as tips for decor, landscaping, and curb appeal. We've made it easy to include more plants in your favorite hues, with guides to blue, lavender, orange, pink, and purple blooms -- and more. If you love a landscape filled with wildlife, such as birds and butterflies, you'll learn ways to attract them to your garden, including building your own birdhouses or creating birdbaths. 

    Tips for Designing a Garden

    Make sure your pathways are wide enough for comfortable passage. Nobody enjoys squeezing through narrow spaces, in­­doors or out. Main thoroughfares should be wide enough for at least two people to walk side by side, no less than 5 feet. For secondary paths where people walk single file, the width should be at least 3 feet. Keep in mind that the taller the plantings or structures that flank your walkway, the wider the path needs to be. Tall boundaries make any space feel more restricted.

    Outdoor steps and stairways should ascend gently; otherwise, they are liable to seem daunting. Steps with a rise of 6 inches or less are the most comfortable. The run (or depth) of each step plus twice the rise (or height) should equal 26 inches. So steps with a 6-inch rise would require a run of 14 inches. If your garden stairways include more than 10 steps, consider landings after every fourth or fifth step to ease progress. Landings should be at least as deep as the stairs are wide. A generous landing is an absolute necessity wherever a stairway changes direction.

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    Love to nature and to green living should be nourished from the very childhood. If kids are raised in a family where everyone enjoys healthy living and appreciates our environment, they grow up the same way and pass it all to their children, as well. There are certain things you can do to make that happen for your family. Here some suggestions.

    Teach them to love and respect the environment

    You should talk to your kids about loving and preserving nature, read interesting books on this topic to them, go hiking once in a while to show them all the beauty of nature, etc. At a young age, kids absorb information very easily, remember that.

    Recycle with your kids

    Teaching your kids about recycling is also very important. They should understand from the young age what is trash and what can be recycled. Make recycling a regular and fun routine for you and your kids. Let them get used to it and see it as the only way there is.  

    Tell them about waste and overconsumption

    Your kids should realize that it is important to save water (ask them to turn it off when they are brushing teeth, for example), energy (turn off the lights when leaving a room), food (overeating is always a bad idea), etc. Make sure you teach them to take only what they need and not to be greedy.

    Protect them from harmful information

    Of course, you cannot hide the fact that there is violence and cruelty in this world. However, everything is good in its season. And your eight year old, for example, doesn't have to watch videos with people being beaten or animals being hurt. Kids are all online these days, you cannot escape from it. Apart from the useful things they search there, they can also see (accidentally or intentionally) inappropriate and harmful content. Such content can really hurt their young spirit. So, you should protect your children from it by limiting their Internet use or blocking inappropriate sites with software like https://pumpic.com/. Don't let negative information influence your child's view on life.

    Walk and ride a bike

    Saving environment by not driving a car is also important. You often cannot do without it at all, but when you have some more time, ride bikes with your kids or take a walk. Go to a nearest store by foot or ride a bike to a close park and have a picnic there. It is a great thing for your kid's health and mind.

    Make a small garden together

    You can involve your kids in a fascinating activity - growing plants, fruits, vegetables and flowers. If you don't have a garden, you can simply grow some flowers in a pot. Also it can be helpful to take your kids to some local farm so that they see how everything works. You can tell them about the importance of organic food when you go on this trip.

    There are many other ways how to raise green awareness in your kids. You can also use recyclables for crafting, carry re-usable bags with your kids, do volunteer work together, etc. Be creative and you will raise great kids with green approach to life. 

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    If you are thinking about moving, you should consider being as eco-friendly as possible. There are many small things that you can do that will help the environment while making your move a simpler process. Enjoy using these tips whenever you are thinking about relocating your home.

    Share What You Have

    If you have a lot of items, you may consider donating some to charity so that you can rent a smaller moving truck. This will be a good choice for the environment, and you can feel good about donating items to help people that really need them. You can donate everything from clothing to furniture.

    Never Buy New Boxes

    There is no reason to buy new boxes to pack items when you can use boxes that have already been used. Check out your local grocery store or even a liquor store that may have plenty of boxes that you can have for free. You want to make sure that you pick out sturdy boxes and make sure that you have the bottoms of the boxes taped securely so that nothing falls out during the moving process.

    Be Creative with Packing Materials

    Instead of purchasing packing peanuts or bubble wrap to wrap your fragile household items in, be creative. You can wrap items in towels or shirt. You are going to be packing these items anyways, so using them to protect your breakable items is a good idea. You can also use old newspaper to wrap glass and other valuable items in so that they do not get broken during transit.

    Rent a Storage Unit

    We all have stuff that we don’t use but they have a certain sentimental value to us and getting rid of them is no option. When that is a case, finding long term local storage unit to store your belonging is a good solution. It will enable you to access them whenever you want and leave you with fever possessions that require

    less vehicles for transport – reducing your carbon footprint even further.

    Buy New Items

    If you are moving a long way away from your home, it may be more cost effective to buy new furniture and appliances. You can find many nice furniture items in your new location by visiting furniture stores or yard sales. You can often buy a nice looking piece of furniture that is gently used for less than the amount of money it would take to ship your old furniture to your new location. You can also invest in energy star appliances that are good for the environment and can help you save money on your energy bill each month.

    Find the Best Way to Move Your Items

    You have many different moving options to choose from depending on how far you are going to be traveling and how many items you are going to be bringing with you. You can rent a trailer and pull it behind your vehicle or rent a moving van or truck. If you need to, you can also hire a professional moving company. There are many companies out there that specialize in green moving techniques. You should take your time and enjoy finding the best moving solution for your specific needs.

    You want to find ways to move that are good for the environment. As added bonus, many eco-friendly solutions are also very affordable. You can enjoy saving money and having a safe moving experience at the same time.

    Image credit: Flickr - swanksalot

  20. Inhalation of carbon monoxide can make you sick and even kill you. It is a fate that bells thousands of people every year as they cross paths with this colorless, odorless, tasteless and poisonous gas. Its reputation is chillingly conveyed in its reputation as the silent killer. Approximately 500 people die every year in the US and thousands more undergo medical treatment from exposure carbon monoxide especially in the home.

    The symptoms that arise from exposure to carbon monoxide depend on the level of exposure suffered by the person. Mild exposures are usually characterized by a headache and the symptoms graduate with the duration and level of exposure to include:

    • Nausea
    • Dizziness
    • Stomach pain
    • Confusion
    • Tiredness
    • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
    • Stomach pains

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    Most of the times the symptoms are quite misleading as they can mimic flu or food poisoning with the exception of a high temperature. It is impossible for a human being to detect the presence of carbon monoxide without the aid of special equipment such as a carbon monoxide detector. This is because of its lack of color, odor or taste.

    Carbon monoxide or CO is produced during the incomplete combustion of anything especially fuels such as oil, gas, wood and coal. These fuels are used in and around the home which is what brings the dangers of carbon monoxide into the confines of your home. It is produced when you use your fireplace, generator, kerosene heater, wood burning appliances.

    Carbon monoxide acts by invading your bloodstream and attaching itself to hemoglobin. This displaces the oxygen and results in your body pumping blood that is lacking in oxygen. The end result is the death of your body tissue and blood cells.

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    You must ensure that all appliances that burn fuel are installed and used properly. They must also be subject to regular maintenance checks especially when approaching winter. You must ensure that they are well ventilated and avoid the temptation of using outdoor appliances in and around the house or running your vehicle inside the garage attached to the house.

    The installation of carbon monoxide detectors is a very noble step that ensures the protection of your whole family. You need to do some research on the different types that are available and get the best which must also be a certified version. They also require proper installation and regular checks as well as battery replacements.

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    In today’s world, cities seem to be forever expanding. Corporate, modern offices, high-rise apartment buildings and packed-in-like-sardines homes are now the norm. While there’s no doubting the benefits of city living, this boom in concrete living means that those of us in urban and city areas are forced to face the prospect of living in residential environments with poorer quality or quantity of green space. It is a well known fact that most large cities have microclimates, whereby the inner city area is a couple of degrees warmer than the surrounding countryside. Urbanisation results in changes in natural water flow, carbon cycles, biodiversity and air pollution levels, which ultimately results in these microclimates forming.

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    ​Cities in Australia and around the world are realising the impact that urbanisation - and subsequent lack of nature - is having on climate change, pollution and human health and are increasingly working on 'green’ initiatives to counteract the negative effects. However, these initiatives can only happen so fast.

    There are so many benefits to bringing nature closer to home, but sometimes we need to take things into our own hands. Having nature in your life is highly important and small lifestyle changes can make a massive impact both to your personal health and the health of the Earth.

    The Benefits of Living Close to Nature

    There are many studies, sources and evidence that support the notion that nature in urban areas can benefit our mental and physical health. Not only that, but increased greenery in our cities can help minimise the negative impacts of greenhouse gas emissions.

    Lower stress levels

    An American study conducted in 2008 found that workers who had even a small glimpse of a park or green area were significantly less stressed at work and were much more satisfied employees. So imagine the impact of bringing nature inside your home or office!

    What is more, it has been proven that an increase in greenery positively correlates not only with less stress at work, but decreased anxiety and depression.

    Reduce mental fatigue

    Urban centres literally never sleep - there’s always something going on. With all these noises and distractions, city life can be incredibly tiring on both the body and mind. We now know that the constant stimuli offered by cities can actually dull the mind’s ability to think. But, the good news is that even brief interactions with natural environments have been proven to help reduce mental fatigue and restore your mind to a healthy state.

    Long-term mental health

    The University of Exeter found that greener surroundings in urban areas boosted residents’ mental health and happiness in the long-term, even after they moved away from the area. So even if you are planning on moving out to a more rural area in the near future, you can benefit your mind in the long term.

    Recover from illness

    That’s right - green areas help people prevent and recover from disease and illness; they also provide opportunities for physical activity, which in turn supports active lifestyle and reduces diseases including obesity - one of the developed world’s leading killers.

    What is more, ailments like heart disease, neck/shoulder/back/wrist problems, diabetes, respiratory infections, migraines and even stomach illnesses can all be positively impacted by green spaces.

    Green Solutions for City Living

    The benefits are clear, but when you’re living in a city where the number of parks and nature reserves are largely controlled by powers much larger than ourselves, it can seem impossible to green-up our lifestyles. But is it really?

    Spruce Up Your Backyard

    Not everyone in the city has a backyard, but if you’re lucky enough to have one, you can go green-crazy! Don’t just think of it as somewhere to plant some trees - turn it into a garden retreat. Create your own organic vegetable garden, grow herbs and introduce some evergreen plants to keep your space thriving all year round.

    To maximise your space, add walls, fences and other borders, which are perfect for increasing the amount of greenery you can add; climbing plants are amazing at turning a concrete view into a tropical oasis.

    Create a Balcony Garden

    Don’t have a backyard? No worries! If you have a balcony or rooftop you can have a flourishing mini-garden. The key to a perfect balcony garden is to choose plants that suit the size of the space and will flourish in the climate of your balcony. For example, if you get a lot of sunlight throughout the day you should look for plants that can survive constant sunshine such as sunflowers, lavender and petunias. Vegetables and fruit that enjoy lots of sunshine include tomatoes, cucumbers, melons and peppers.

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    Again, if your balcony or roof has limited space, try incorporating wall plants, hanging plants, vines or even tall potted plants to maximise your space. A good balcony garden doesn’t mean you need to completely cover it in plants!

    Go Green Indoors

    Did you know that indoor air can be much more polluted than outdoor air? One of the wonderful benefits of having plants indoors is that they can help to purify the air and make you feel more relaxed overall. In the late 1980’s, NASA studied the benefits of indoor plants for removing volatile organic compounds from air and found that certain plants worked better than others, including aloe vera, gerber daisy, golden pothos and spider plants.

    Even if you have no balcony or garden, you can still bring nature indoors and benefit from its positive impacts. There are numerous plants that thrive indoors and in low light areas. Indoor plants such as ferns, dracaena, peace lilies and small palms are ideal. You can also create an indoor organic herb garden, which is perfect for those that enjoy cooking and want fresh herbs to hand.

    Start a Community Garden

    Approach your council or building management about starting a community garden. You’ll need to consider who will be involved in maintaining the garden and what types of plants you want to grow. These gardens are also great social experiences, allowing you to get to know your neighbours and others in your local area.

    If there is any unused space in your neighbourhood, you can also talk to the council about turning it into a green space that can benefit your whole community. Types of green spaces include: parks/pocket parks, playgrounds, green corridors (connecting pathways, cycleways), sporting areas and BBQ/picnic areas. While they might have grass on them, they could be even greener - ask about planting trees and shrubbery to maximise the oxygen output. So the more variety the better!

    Top takeaway tips

    - Choose plants that will grow / thrive in your space and climate; remember, city climates can often be much warmer than those outside of the city;

    - Keep your gardens maintained and manicured to sustain their benefits; water your plants regularly and keep them nutritious with good soil and fertiliser;

    - Including herbs, vegetable plants and fruit trees in your space is also a great way to support sustainable living; again, choose herbs/plants that you know will grow well in your particular environment.

    By creating green spaces around us, even in the smallest of ways, we can sustain the benefits of nature when living in huge, concrete cities. And by doing this we can enrich our lives, mentally, physically and emotionally – while also giving something back to the greater natural world that surrounds us.

    Are you ready to greenify your life?

    Need more ideas?

    Benefits of Green Space

    Mental Health and Function & Green Environment

    Green Cities and Microclimate

    Start an Organic Garden

    Start a Balcony Garden

    Start a Community Garden

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  23. Lawn mowers are arguably the most common gardening tools found in the shed of every house with a garden. Professional landscapers use also use them, even if they prefer high-performance models and their units are therefore more powerful. Many different types of mowing machines exist, but we all know the major ones: push, rotary, riding mowers. Although you probably use and store them the right way, you should still perform a few additional tasks regularly. Some of them may be annoying - but in turn, your equipment will be in top working condition throughout the year.

    Sharpen The Blades

    First of all, how to tell if blades are dull? The easiest way is to look at the grass after trimming and see if you're getting a clean cut. If the area top looks whiter then usual – it's a sure sign that blades need to be sharpened. If you don't do so on time you will end up with a bad-looking lawn and eventually a lack of balance that slowly damages the whole engine because of the strong vibrations. So, these are the steps for the most common (rotary) type:

    • Make sure there is almost no fuel in the tank, so that nothing will be spilled when you tip the machine to the side.
    • Take out/disconnect the spark plug for security reasons.
    • Use a wrench to unscrew the nut and take the blade off the mower.
    • Set the blade firmly in the vise and sharpen it as you go from the outer edge towards the center. Keep the existing angle while working or, if it's really damaged badly, try to go around 30 degrees.
    • Once you're finished, check the blade for balance. Remove some more metal where/if necessary – you need to make sure that no side is heavier than the other.

    Keep in mind that reel blades are not recommended to be sharpened at home.

    Engine Care

    Not much to do here, fortunately. It's best to follow manufacturer's instructions if you have them handy. If not, just be sure to change the oil after every 20-25 hours of mowing. Also, clean up air filter/s together with the oil refill.

    Cleaning

    If you have a push-type mower, grab a putty knife and scrape off parched grass clippings and other dirt. Wash down the whole unit with the garden hose. Experts in residential landscaping from Sydney remind that you should always lubricate visible metal parts (including the blades) right after the rinsing, once the surface is completely dry.

    For electrical models – clean up all areas surrounding the openings and get rid of grass and other particles found on the cooling fans to prevent excessive heating of the engine. You are allowed to apply a mix of hot water and household dish-washing liquid on the external surface if it's very dirty, then let it dry naturally. Tip your landscaping tool to one side in order to remove the grass stuck to the bottom – use a power nozzle if you need to.

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    The roofing on a house is arguably one of the most important features. The quality of the materials chosen will either protect against weather and insect damage, or leave a home vulnerable to costly repairs. Roofing can also be used to make a house more eco-friendly. Properly chosen and installed, roofing can cut down on the environmental impact of a home, from the production stage of materials to the amount of energy a house uses daily. There are hundreds of products to choose from, and narrowing them down can take some time. Here are a few options to consider in several different price ranges.

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    1. Metal Roofing

    Metal roofing one of the most affordable, eco-friendly options for roofing. It is durable, low maintenance, and relatively inexpensive to have installed. One product that is popular in the Australian market is Colorbond roofing. It comes in many different colors and choosing a light color will help keep the roof cool. Colorbond is produced to withstand the weather and insect life specific to Australia. As with any roofing the color will begin to fade over time. However, rather than having to replace the entire roof (as you might with asphalt shingles) you can simply have a professional repaint the steel roofing. Roof painting should be done by a professional as they are best equipped to provide an even, well-blended finish. Here you can read about the stages of roof painting:

    http://www.myroofline.com.au/roof-painting.html

    2. Recycled Materials

    The pricing on recycled roofing materials can vary widely. One option is to use synthetic tiles made from recycled postindustrial waste. This helps prevent waste from ending up in a landfill, and many of these synthetic tiles are also recyclable. That means that when it comes time to replace the roof, the materials can be recycled rather than thrown in the rubbish. Recycled synthetic roofing tiles tend to be a fairly affordable option for most homeowners as well. Another option for recycled roofing is terracotta tiles. These tiles are beautiful, and can be made from old pavers, bricks, or roofing tiles. They do tend to be more costly and they add quite a lot of weight to a roof. Before installation, it is important to make sure the underlying supports can withstand the extra weight. Chipped or cracked tiles will need to be replaced periodically, and old tiles can be recycled.

    3. Green Roofs

    Green roofs are a trend that is catching on in Australia. They consist of installing a lip around an existing, generally flat, roof. From there, a waterproof membrane is installed along with a root barrier. Finally, plants are used to cover the roof, providing excellent insulation. They also create much needed greenspace in urban areas. The cost of installing a green roof is fairly high, and there is a bit of upkeep to them as well. It is also very important to check that your local area can support the water needed to maintain a green roof as many areas in Australia have a limited supply of freshwater. That said, they are an attractive and extremely eco-friendly option for roofing. For more information on green roofs follow the link below:

    http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/green-rooftop.htm

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