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  • Mark Piazzalunga

    DESERTEC project, Sahara Sun could power Europe by 2050

    By Mark Piazzalunga

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

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

    By Megan Bonetti

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

    Black Friday Promotes Over-Consumption and Waste

    By Joseph Ramondeli

    Black Friday Promotes Over-Consumption and Waste               Every year Thanksgiving weekend is overshadowed by Black Friday and in recent years Cyber Monday as well. Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time when families can get together, even if it’s just for a day or dinner, to talk and reconnect. However every year more American’s are focused on shopping. Stores are now open by 8:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day resulting in people sitting at the dinner table with their families while browsing on their phones for the best deals that they hope to buy in a few hours.  This is just another example of how our modern, technologically advanced society is constantly becoming more materialistic. Aside from Black Friday overshadowing an American holiday and tradition, it is an annual example of how Americans over-consume and by doing so are very wasteful.  A huge fraction of purchased goods during Black Friday and Cyber Monday are things that people don’t need, they are things they think they need. Advertisements and social trends play a big role in the impact of this event (I refuse to call it a holiday) and in our consumption behavior in general.             Companies are tricking and forcing us to buy un-needed goods through the use of planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence.  Planned obsolescence is disappointing because it refers to how companies purposely make products to only last a few years and by doing so force consumers to by new products from them every couple of years. The most common example of this is electronic devices. Apple creates a new IPhone every year so that once yours break “accidentally” there’s a brand new, more expensive one to purchase as a replacement. Not to mention that such companies stop making old models, forcing you to buy the newest model. On the other hand, perceived obsolescence is promoted by companies but ultimately results from our own social actions. Companies, through advertisements, constantly throw the promotion of new goods in our face. It’s almost impossible to go anywhere or do anything without seeing an advertisement of some sort. These advertisements tend to increase around the holiday season, hence the origin of Black Friday. The main reason such advertisements work is due to the social pressure we put on each other and ourselves. Everyone wants the next new model or brand and once a friend or family member purchases something then we are pressured and attracted to buying it as well. The biggest example of this is the fashion industry, where new trends come and go each season resulting in constant purchasing of new, unnecessary clothing. These companies are clearly getting the better of us based on the success of such events as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.             So why is over-consumption such a bad thing, why should we care if people waste there money on unnecessary goods? It’s simple: overconsumption leads to waste! One of the downfalls to the technological advancements of today’s world is that we create materials that cannot be found in our natural world. This means that when we throw something out in the garbage it will never decompose. Purchasing many of today’s consumer goods is bad enough because most cannot be recycled and will sit in landfills, but over-consumption takes this once step further in that we buy more than we need! We buy new clothes or new phones before our old ones are worn our or broken. By doing so we are creating more waste because we constantly thrown away products that are still functional and contribute the ever-growing amount of waste humanity has created on this planet. In order to help reduce the waste we create of course we should recycle and reuse as much as possible. However, I believe that the creation of waste should be stopped at its source, and that’s our consumer purchasing. Buying less and using goods to there fullest is a sure way to decrease waste. Resisting social pressure and advertisements is key to getting this accomplished. So next year put the phones away and turn the TV off at the dinner table during Thanksgiving, you don’t need them. Joseph Ramondelli  
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  2. 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.

    pregnancy-housecleaning-02-pg-full.jpg

    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?

  3. Emotional support animals are quite similar to the service animals, but the sole difference between these two types of animals is that service animal is trained and can help you with the physical assistance, while an emotional support animal can help one with mental problems or emotional disabilities.

    getty_rf_photo_of_dog_licking_man.jpg (493×335)

    Unfortunately people are not aware of these emotional support animals, they are not aware of all the benefits these emotional support animals do have. Emotional support dog are the most popular choice of support animal. Emotional support animal can be beneficial for people who are suffering from ASD. People with ASD may feel negative emotions; they may not be able to handle their daily jobs. The best solution for such people is to adopt an emotional support animal.

    Below are some basic benefits that you can get from your support animal:

    1.     Someone who will not judge you:

    People who are suffering from ASD may feel like been judged by people all the time, which can be quite upsetting. Therefore one suffering from such problem should adopt support animals as they will love you no matter what you are. This unconditional love will help people build confidence and self-esteem and will also make you love yourself.

    2.     Make you express yourself:

    It is very essential that you express what you are and what you feel, unfortunately most people are not able to do so. And this not expressing themselves may lead to problem like anger, frustration etc. therefore you must express yourself. Having a support animal will help you talk to them and express what you feel, some people may thinking writing a diary is easier way out but having a living thing understand and listen to what you have to say is much better option than writing or anything.

    3.     Have someone to be around with:

    You as a human need someone to interact with people with ASD find it hard interacting with someone. As they might feel that no one understands them, therefore having an emotional support animal can help such people a lot. People with such disorder get to talk to them and they know that their pets care for them and will take care of them which help them feel better and comfortable.

    Conclusion:

    These all are the result that no medicine can get you, thus having a pet is the best option for people with such disorders. 

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    Recent Entries

    It is expected from an HR to come out with strategic and routine reports. These reports play a significant role in making more effective use of available human resources in small businesses and in large companies alike. HR reports are potent tools of communication that affects the decision-making at the highest levels of a corporate institution.

    •You have to be absolutely certain about the information that is to be conveyed, the purpose behind the communication as well as who you are communicating with as this will dictate the format, depth, content and details of the report.

    • Next you have collect all the information. Some organizations opt for database systems about their employees and statistics can be gathered through in-built or personalized queries. In absence of such databases you may have to rummage through traditional documents or a simple database or excel spreadsheet. Routine HR reports include statistics about HR activities in a specific time frame like new hires, salary info, resignations and promotions. There may also be a need for detailed reports about the local market of the workforce, budgets for salaries and requirements related to skills depending on the nature and utility of the report.

    • Try to find a pattern in the garbled up data of statistics thrown up at you. Absence on particular days, higher turnover of staff may all have special meaning. Try to analyze the meaning behind any pattern. Take for example high rates of absence or resignations in a particular department could indicate management problem which require further analysis or possible action that may be taken. Personal problems are also a possibility in case of some patterns.  

    • Make a draft of the report in the style favored by your company or make use of templates of typical hr reports and customize. As an alternative especially if you are a HR student writing an assignment you can hire a specific person or ask for online hr homework help.  If the report requires you to be more formal, then start off with a summary and remember to include a cover page in your report.

    • Prepare explanations about targets, were they achieved or if not met how the shortfalls are expected to be accounted for. Set targets for the commencing period such as retention as well as recruitment and how you plan to reduce absences. Make the HR activities in accordance with the goals of the organization.


    • Single out external factors that may have effect on your business and as a matter of consequence HR operations in the near future. A political, environmental, social and technical analysis may point out possible issues and ways to address those.

    • Maintain clarity of language and avoid HR technicalities especially if colleagues from other departments or stakeholders are among the intended audience.

    • Try to stick to a system for numbered paragraphs and sub paragraphs. This will enhance readability while maintain clarity. The title should be inclusive of the date, purpose as well as the audience of the report.

    • Try to keep the report brief and focus on the primary issues by use of bullet points, graphs and charts as and when necessary. Readers will be keen on simply reading the facts.

    These steps will help you in writing an effective HR report that does its job well.

    Lisa Rose has been a helping hand for management students including those in the HR sector and provides online hr homework help of outstanding quality for budding managers and entrepreneurs alike.

     

     

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    Recent Entries

    housewife-882533_1280.thumb.jpg.7fe37a55As everyone is talking about the climate changes, global warming and sustainability, it seems like all “passionate” supporters of the green idea are just talking, but they lack action. But I’m happy that you want to take action and change things for good. If you want to live in a greener, cleaner planet, remember that any change begins within ourselves.

     

    Limit your environmental impact, live a healthier life and save money by following these simple steps.

     

    1. Forget about bottled water. Instead, buy water filters to clean tap water. When on the go, opt for a reusable bottle, preferably aluminium one.

    2. Borrow. Go to the library and borrow the books you want to read, instead of buying them from the bookstore.

    3. Make your own natural cleaners:

    • Usually all the ingredients you need are vinegar, baking soda, lemon and soap.

    • When choosing a cleaning company, hire the one that uses bio detergents in the cleaning process. This company, for instance, works with natural, eco-friendly detergents.

    4. Get out of the car. Reduce the harmful exhaust emissions by walking or cycling to work. In addition to the saved money, you will also improve your health and reduce the risk of obesity.

    5. Save energy:

    • Turn your thermostat down a few degrees in the winter and increase the temperature a few degrees in the summer. This way you will save money on heating and cooling.

    • Replace the old incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent ones.

    • Unplug appliances when not being used, or buy "smart" power strips. They feel when appliances are off and eliminate "phantom" energy use.

    • Instead of machine drying, hang the laundry on a clothesline or on a drying rack.

    • Improve the insulation, install solar panels, upgrade the windows.

    6. Save water:

    • Invest in a low-flow showerhead.

    • Take shorter showers, bathe with warm, not hot water.

    • In the garden, grow native plants which require few and far between waterings.

    7. Use reusable shopping bags. Put one in your handbag, at home, on your desk, in the car, or any place where it would be useful.

    8. Buy smart:

    • Look in thrift stores, garage sales and consignment shops for clothing and furnishings.

    • Buy in bulk. Save on packaging and money.

    • Invest in high-quality products. Paying more now means less frequently replacing of household items, clothes, appliances, etc.

     

    Resources: Worldwatch.org

  10. Green Computing- A Necessity

    Uncurbed maneuvering with the natural resources in the recent century has brought us to a point where we must walk safe or we will perish. Environmental degradation has reached almost the unbearable level in many ways which is why the only sustainable way forward is adopting ‘eco-friendly’ techniques.

    Green Computing is a step to safeguard against the degrading environmental conditions on the planet. From manufacturing to usage to disposal, computers have a considerable amount of contribution to the environment illness. Green Computing is meant to minimize this effect on the environment and if possible do something to improve the environmental conditions.

    Today, most of the businesses are pivoting around the computer-based operations and hence, there is a lot that Green Computing has on offer. From SMBs to leading global MNCs, all have their specific needs of computers and related resources. Their contribution to environment degradation may vary but cannot be neglected. So, it is crucial for all levels of businesses to adopt Green Computing for a better future.

    Why Your Business Should Adopt Green Computing?

    The hope of a good future is hardly a substantial reason to attract the money-focused business minds. Still, we have seen many businesses coming up openly in the support of Green computing. Here are the reasons for which businesses can benefit from green computing.

    1.       Save Money on Bills: As a business, if you believe in ‘Saving money is earning money’, then adopting Green Computing is definitely meant for you. Green Computing involves the usage of devices that consume low energy that eventually saves your expenses as bills on electricity, etc.

    2.       More Space for Work: Green Computing aims at using technologies that constrain the need of hardware, such as- server, fax machines, etc. and replace them with software-based technologies, like- virtual servers, internet fax, Hosted PBX, etc. This serves the businesses in diminishing the requirements of hardware and dedicated space. The space saved can be used many other productive and eco-friendly efforts.

    3.       Brag about Green Computing: Many surveys and studies have proven that customers prefer services from the brands that highlight their work for social and environmental causes because going with Green Computing creates a positive influence among the customers. Some studies have also revealed that such businesses even gain priority from other businesses for partnership and other dealings. If you are contributing to the environment, make sure that claim for your efforts.

    4.       Recognitions and Marketing: Many government agencies, NGOs, environmental groups, media houses, etc. offer special certifications and prizes to businesses for their work for the environmental benefits. It comes as a free advertising for the business as news related to such recognitions keeps you in the limelight. Also, such certifications and recognition logos can even be used on the website and pamphlets that help in creating a reputed-brand feeling in the market.

    How to Adopt Green Computing?

    In case you are not impressed with the goodness of Green Computing mentioned above you should still take a look at the ways in which you can adopt it and help the planet. Possibly, the ease of adopting it will impress you.

    1.       Adopt Energy Efficient Devices: To simplify it further, Energy-Star rating for most of the electronic devices has been declared mandatory by most governments across the world. Check out the Energy-Star ratings for the devices that you purchase for your business. Usual recommendation by experts is to opt for the devices with 4-star or better ratings.

    2.       Switch to Cloud-based Solutions: With the introduction of the cloud, Green Computing has got the real fuel. Basically, it replaces huge server rooms with a simple software installation. Furthermore, with application hosting, it can even replace software installation. Cloud-based solutions eradicate the need of dedicated cables and wires, stores more data than physical storage drives can imagine. One can keep on counting on the benefits of cloud hosting for environment forever and the list might keep growing.

    3.       Avoid Printing or Make Most of Each Printed Page: Use emails, Internet Fax, etc. instead of usual printed pages. Minimizing page consumption is a multi-way benefit as it saves on manufacturing, disposal, and maintenance cost to a great extent. However, running a business with zero consumption of pages is not possible for all. In such cases, using smaller fonts, narrow margins, both-side printing, etc. can be a very valuable contribution.

    4.       Encourage Employees to Follow Eco-Friendly Practices: Most operating systems offer an efficient mode, which can be used for saving expenses on the energy. Employees must be encouraged to use the devices in such modes. Switching off the computer when not in use, sharing of devices, etc. are some of the practices that can be introduced into office culture without much hassle.

    5.       Recycle and Smart Disposal: Electronic waste (e-waste) is a big issue that the world is facing right now. Try to recycle the electronic devices in a smarter manner and at the time of disposal make sure that you follow the government and manufacturer guidelines.

    Final Note

    Business means profit and many businesses have belief in a myth that if they adopt Green Computing, they will have to suffer on the financial terms, which keeps them from helping the environment. However, the results so far have been completely opposite. For almost all levels of businesses, the green computing has brought significant cost cutting in many ways. There are certain procedures that appear to be inviting expenses, such as- buying energy efficient devices.  But they have long-term benefits.

    Also, various governments are thinking about making it mandatory for businesses to adopt a specific level of Green Computing and the decision is certain to arrive. The only question is when – sooner or later. Today it is ‘making a choice’ and tomorrow it will be ‘following an order’. 

    Green Computing Whitepaper

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  12. 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

     

  13. This year, we have been thinking a lot about how to be more eco-friendly. We know that we can turn off lights when we leave the room, walk rather than taking the car where possible, and avoid products which use a lot of plastic packaging. But what can we do at Christmas time to be better for the environment? Here are some tips.

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    Shop local

    Every product which is imported, from your presents to your tree to your food on the table, has a carbon footprint. If something has travelled overseas then it needs to either fly or come by truck over a ferry, neither of which are great options. In order to reduce the carbon footprint of your Christmas, you can try to shop locally. This will also help to grow your community and support local businesses, which is a great bonus. While you might not have farms supplying everything in your locale, you can at least choose things which have been produced within your country.

     

    Choose your tree

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    Make sure that you are getting your tree from an eco-friendly source if you are buying a real one. You should be able to check how the tree is grown and whether or not it is done in a sustainable way. If you are going the plastic route, buy a tree for life. Don’t throw it away after one year – plan to keep it for 20 or 30. This will offset the carbon cost of making the tree because of the amount of use that you get out of it. When you do get rid of your tree, try to recycle it or donate it to charity rather than just throwing it in the bin.

     

    Send green

    If you have gifts that must be shipped out, then make sure that you do it the green way with PACK & SEND. They have practices in place which mean that your carbon footprint will be reduced by using their services as opposed to a postal service. Think about the way that you package your gifts, too. Do you really need all those layers of cardboard and bubble wrap, or would a smaller parcel work just as well to protect the gifts?

     

    Change your bulbs

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    Make sure that your fairy lights aren’t draining your electric bill and putting a strain on the environment! Pick out a set with more eco-friendly bulbs and both will be improved. LED fairy lights are a good choice as they take less electricity to run and don’t cause any heat, which makes them less of a fire hazard. It’s also fun to sit with only the lights of the tree in the evening and turn off your main lights, which will save a lot of energy! Try to watch your energy usage in general – could you turn off the television and play board games together, for example?

     

    Remove food waste

    When doing your shopping before Christmas, try to be more realistic about what you actually need to buy. So much food is wasted every year because we make such big feasts which are not actually eaten. When you have vegetable leftovers that can’t be used, try to turn them into compost or feed them to a pet. Eat up leftovers where possible. If you can’t get rid of all of your food, you may be able to find a nearby shelter which takes spare food donations.

     

    It’s easier than you think to have a green Christmas. Just think about reducing waste and shopping local, and the rest will fall into place!

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