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My musings on the green world

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Eco-Business

Soil contamination, degradation and pollution are terms often used interchangeably but they mean different things. The only thing consistent about the terms is that they spell disaster for the environment.

Soil degradation refers to the loss of value in the soil within a particular area. Value here refers to its nutrients, chemical composition etc. and it is mostly lost by activities such as overgrazing, over farming and erosion. With soil degradation, the ability of the soil to support plant life is greatly hampered leading to different effects with erosion being the most common.

Soil pollution refers to the introduction of harmful objects, chemicals and substances, directly or indirectly into the soil by the activity of humans. Such introductions cause harm to other living things, destroy the soil or distort the water ecosystem. 

Soil contamination refers to an increase in the concentration of chemicals, elements and nutrients in the soil as a result of external interference from humans. If this contamination is allowed to advance to the point of harming living organisms and affect the fauna of the area, it is regarded as pollution.

What is the main cause of soil contamination?

The leading cause of soil contamination is the use of pesticides and herbicides. However, the direct discharge of wastewater by industries can also cause this.  Other possible causes of soil contamination include leakage in sewage systems, leeching of soluble of substances from landfills, leaking of underground storage tanks and floods from other polluted lands and water bodies.

How to remedy soil degradation

The remedy for soil degradation is dependent on the initial cause of degradation.  Common remedy for soil degradation as a result of over farming is to allow the farm area to lie fallow for extended periods of time. The length of time is dependent on the extent of damage.

To remedy soil degradation as a result of over grazing, authorities in affected areas can ban free range grazing in affected area if domestic animals are at fault. In wild areas like parks however, the case is different and more difficult. A good remedy is to introduce more predators to the food chain to cut down on the number of herbivores in the area. However, this is a costly process that may not yield quick results. Good examples of this method of remedy are the reintroduction of wolves to YellowStone National Park  and the reintroduction of dingos in Australia.

How to remedy soil contamination

Remedying of soil contamination is dependent on the extent and volume of damage. Possible remedies include:

·         Calling in soil disposal  experts to excavate and dispose affected soil in a safe manner

·         Containing of the contamination by spreading or placing large plastic materials over the affected area

·         Use of safe chemicals to neutralize the contaminant.

In summary, soil contamination, pollution and degradation mean different things but they can have adverse effects on the ecosystem. Interesting they can be avoided and in unforeseen circumstances, they can also be remedied. 

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Eco-Business

The times they are a changing. It wasn’t so long ago that been eco conscious and environmentally friendly was seen as a minor issue and one that was buried in the backs of everyone’s minds. Recently however, this has been challenged as climate change and other environmental hazards have become a much larger and pressing issue. So what can you do to your own home to make it more eco friendly whilst still adding sale vale to your property? We decided to look into some home improvements that you could implement around your house to give your property the eco push it needs.

Keep the Heat In

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This is an improvement that is often overlooked, especially in houses over a certain age, but it can make a huge difference to the property. Changing windows to double glazing and putting in wall and loft cavity insulation will keep the heat in the house much better. This in turn means it takes less energy and time to heat the house in winter, thus saving energy in the long run. These small additions will also add to the overall value of the house if potential buyers know it’s fully insulated and kitted out at purchase.

Solar Energy and its Power

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This method requires you to spend a little bit more money than simply buying double glazing windows, however, the end result will be much more effective. Installing solar panels on the roof of your property will use sunlight to create energy that will then be fed back into your house, creating your own individual energy supply. Once again this will save you vast sums of money on electricity and energy bills that will boost the value of the property on purchase. This initial home improvement tool, might require a little setup funding however, so do some research online to get the best possible finance deal before you take the leap into solar power.

Water Water Everywhere

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It rains a lot in Europe. It rains a lot in America, unless you live in California or the Arizona desert. Either way if you’re in a climate where H2O tends to hit the ground frequently, why not use this to your advantage? At a small cost you can install water catchers that collect most of the rainwater that falls onto your house. You can then store this water to use at a later date to water flowerbeds and plants during the hot summer months. It’s a great way of recycling water instead of using a hose and wasting it.

Eco-Business
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In this modern day and age, the amount of energy the world needs is increasing rapidly. This is due to many countries developing modern infrastructures that are able to support the heavy demands that increasing use of electricity creates. Along with the higher demand for electricity comes a higher demand for renewable and sustainable energy that keeps the world as eco friendly as possible. Let have a look at a few examples of some of the projects built around the world to supply this renewable energy.

Three Gorges Dam, China

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China is at the forefront of many things in the world and they are now making a massive improvement to be at the forefront of being eco friendly. The Three Gorges Dam is the worlds largest hydroelectric dam and it's as impressive in performance as it is in sight. Its the first in the world to reach 18 gigawatts. To put that in perspective, 18 modern nuclear power plants cant even make that much electricity. This impressive project shows that even countries like China are doing a major part in keeping the world as clean and eco friendly as possible.

ACWA Concentrated Solar Power Project Ouarzazate, Morocco

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This seriously impressive solar field takes use of suns rays to create energy. Built and created in Morocco, it generates around 160MW of electricity and holds up to 3 hours of storage. When it was built it was the first of its kind in Africa, although there have been several of these impressive built since its inception. It was built deep in the desert and some of the surrounding problems did cause a few threats but with a risk advisory service, the bio mass project was completed with a massive success.

Tidal Barrage in Bretagne, France

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Just because renewable energy has become far more popular recently, it doesn't mean it wasn't thought of and created years ago! This huge project was built in the year of 1967 in France and cost $134 million to complete. The barge blocks the entrance to the River Rance, creating energy by allowing the water to pass through turbines, and is the largest type of power plant to do this throughout the world.

Renewable and sustainable energy, like these projects, are vital if we are to keep our world healthy.

Eco-Business

An eco-friendly lifestyle is not only good for the environment but it also lessens the burden on your wallet when the bills come through. Since 2010, when the British government published ‘Zero Carbon Britain’ reporting how we could reach zero carbon emissions by 2030, we have seen a huge rise in the number of domestic and commercial environmentally friendly buildings.

There are also companies such as UK Green Building Council that offer training courses for architects, engineers, contractors, and project managers in a variety of topics from Responsible Procurement to Efficient Buildings.

Existing Eco-Buildings

Most office buildings are now achieving a Very Good or Excellent rating from the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM). In 2010, 7 More London became the first building in the capital to achieve an Outstanding rating.

As for residential properties, the number of modernist homes built using recycled materials and working with the surrounding nature has risen dramatically.

How to make your home green

There are plenty of improvements that you can make to your own home to increase its eco rating and save you money. Below is a list of the ones that will make the biggest change to your energy bill.

Loft insulation: Loft spaces account for almost 25% of heat loss in your home. Getting them properly insulated will mean your house stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter without costing you a fortune. Check out this video for a guide to loft insulations:

Cavity wall insulation: If you have cavity walls that aren’t insulated, you’ll find that a lot of your heat gets lost through the gaps. Insulating them is a simple fix and requires no major reconstruction to your house – the insulator is pumped into the cavity through a small hole made in the brickwork, which is then resealed. Find out more in this video.

Double-glazing: While windows account for significantly less heat loss compared to lofts and walls, getting them double-glazed will still help to save you money on your energy bill. It can be an expensive improvement but be sure not to get caught out by initial quotes. For tips on how to buy double-glazing check out the Which? website.

Using less electricity: This may seem like an obvious one but homeowners often overlook it. Simply reducing your electricity usage by turning off lights and not leaving appliances on standby can cut your energy costs in half. Fitting energy efficient light bulbs and turning down your thermostat are some really simple ways to get started. You can purchase electricity monitors to measure your usage for less than £50 that will help you reduce your bills in the long run.

How to afford home improvements

If you have enough personal savings to make these changes to your home then you can rest assured that they will start to pay for themselves as soon as your next bill comes in. However, if you need a little financial help there are plenty of ways to go about it.

The government recently introduced the new Green Deal to help people who want to make their homes more energy efficient. Through this deal, homeowners can claim back a total of £1000 if they install two of twelve listed improvements, including double-glazing and insulation.

Taking the time to research the best energy provider is another really simple way to keep costs down. You can choose different companies for gas and electricity or you can have one company supply both. Get quotes and information from as many suppliers as possible and compare them to your current provider. For some tips on choosing the right energy provider for you, check out the Citizens Advice Bureau.

If you have the appropriate skills you can install some eco-friendly home improvements yourself. For instance, loft insulation can be purchased at many hardware stores across the UK and can be installed by the homeowner. However, always remember to take the appropriate precautions and follow the guidelines provided with products.

Why bother going green?

Apart from the obvious benefits to your household bills, studies have shown that a higher energy efficiency rating can add more that 15% to a property’s value. Improving your rating from band D to B can push your sale price up by £16,000 as more buyers are on the hunt for homes that will produce cheaper bills. So, if you’re thinking of selling your house or you’re already in the process of doing so, think about some of the improvements that you could make to get more from the sale.

For more information on how to go green at home, click here.

If you’re buying or selling your home in the UK, check out The Little House Company for a hassle free service.

Eco-Business

So you’ve taken the plunge and finally decided to clear out your house after the summer months. You’ve gone through every room and turfed out all unwanted furniture and clutter that has been gathered over the past year or so. Now what do you do? Well most people would hire a skip service so they could put all their household waste in there ready for collection. But is there an alternative to this long, awkward and not very eco friendly method? There is and it’s called a rubbish removal service. Here are a few reasons why this is a great eco friendly alterative to hiring a skip.

Firstly, a rubbish removal service aims to recycle almost all of the rubbish taken and they take pretty much all types of rubbish. Whether its building materials, furniture or house hold items, rubbish removal services aim to take all of the rubbish gathered. Another great reason for using a service like this is that you only pay for what you want removed. This is different from a skip service as you pay a flat for the use of the skip and it doesn’t matter if its only a 5th of the way full, you’d still pay the same fee. So even if you’re clearing the house for a potential house move or you’re just clearing the house for a summer clean, rubbish removal is a great alternative

With a skip, you’ll need to clear a permit if your house is near a public road. Not only is this costly and expensive, but its certainly not a pleasant site to look at. So with the rubbish removal service, not only are you saving money which you could then choose to spend on a nice hard earned treat after the big clear out, but you’re significantly helping the environment. You can search for rubbish removal online and search for skip hire in Birmingham or in the United Kingdom if you’re looking for this type of eco solution. Also, using a skip can also be damaging to the environment as often the rubbish is simply left there until picked up. The wind and other elements can cause the rubbish to loosen and spread around the floor area, falling out of the skip and damaging the environment further. With a rubbish removal service if you call them early enough in the day, they’ll come and collect it from you by the time the day ends so there will be a minimum amount of waste spillage. This could be dangerous as well for animals that could mistake the waste as food. This counts for birds and domestic animals such as cats and dogs.

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