chloehashemi

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  1. It’s almost that time of year again- cue the mince pies, tinsel, personalised gifts, chirpy carolling, and most importantly, the endless string of decorated Christmas trees. But at what a cost? In an age where we have the appropriate knowledge and technology to investigate the real impact of nationwide gorging and extravagance, shouldn’t we care about what the festive season does to our environment? Hundreds of thousands of Christmas trees are cut down each year, each to fulfil their destinies of being draped in tinsel, adorned with the angel or star of your choice, and housing the piles of gifts kids each year. Many opt for an artificial festive symbol instead, all with the misconception that Christmas trees are leading to deforestation and further negative environmental impacts. In actual fact, Gary Chastegner, professor of plant pathology at Washington State University has stated that "most Christmas trees are grown as crop and replanted, so it is really no different than harvesting corn". Chastagner goes on to explain that a natural reseeding takes place in forests, and permits are distributed in areas where the trees need to be thinned. The National Christmas Tree Association have stressed that using real pine and fir trees is actually a more green thing to do than purchasing an artificial Christmas tree for your living room. According to research, most fake Christmas trees are only used for 6-9 years and then disposed of. Keeping the plastic tree for longer than this period would eventually be thrown away into a landfill. These trees, unlike real trees, are not recyclable or biodegradable. In addition to this, in 2010, The New York Times reported that fake trees usually contain a harmful chemical called polyvinyl chloride or PVC. Essentially, just manufacturing these trees can be harmful to the environment. Recent years have introduced the most ethical choice of all. You can now ‘rent’ your Christmas tree for the festive period. This means that you can choose the Christmas tree of your choice, which comes with its own sustainable root system. This tree is delivered to your door (which saves you time and money on travelling to purchase the tree yourself), and then picked up at a date which suits you, early in the New Year. The tree is then returned to the soil, and grown on for the new year. If you really are trying to limit your carbon footprint this Christmas, don’t let your efforts stop at your choice of tree. Make sure you opt for LED fairy lights for example. These new style lights help save energy and money. What is more, their relatively cool heat will make your tree less of a fire hazard too. This may sound like stating the obvious, but don’t forget to recycle after you’re done with celebrating for the year. Figures suggest that a mere 10% of Christmas trees are recycled for wood chipping and compost each year in the UK. In our capital alone, almost 1 million trees are just thrown away each January.
  2. New Build Green Homes

    UK housing is some the least energy efficient in Europe and to meet carbon emission targets, carbon emission from UK households need to be reduced by a least 80%, if not more. Additionally, the housing market is picking up because of the ‘help to buy’ scheme. Meaning more individuals are able to afford to purchase a home and many are choosing new builds. One of the advantages of purchasing a newly built home is they tend to be greener and this means significantly lower energy bills, which also helps to make them more affordable for buyers. New builds mean you can buy more confidently. There is less need for property lawyers due to speculation of asbestos, or something else which could affect the living conditions of your home, and your rights as a homebuyer. Gordon Dean, solicitors based in Norfolk specialise in such claims, click here to find out more. Current New Build Green Options The housing industry has taken note of this need for environmentally friendly housing and even some of the housing being currently built is relatively green. For instance Abel homes, who specialise in building new homes in Norfolk, have a range of green homes options, many of which come as standard features of their new builds. Solar PV which allows home owners to take advantage of the government incentive (the feed-in-tariffs) and create their own electricity. The insulation is well over the level required by law, the walls have “super” insulation and there is triple glazing, features which all help the home to retain heat and thus aid energy efficiency making the home cheaper to heat and keep warm. The central heating systems are all Band A - the most energy efficient type. Zero-Carbon Homes of the Near Future This kind of new build is definitely a step in the right direction for the UK housing stock, however the government has recognised that to meet its steep targets of reduced carbon emissions that every new home built from 2016 needs to be zero-carbon, i.e. it offsets or produces the amount of carbon it uses in a year. There have been various projects looking into the best way to realistically achieve such a goal. I will detail the key feature of one particular zero-carbon home case study, to give an idea of what creating a zero carbon home involves. The Greenwatt Way Case Study: This project was created by Scottish and Southern Energy, they created 10 homes and monitored how the energy efficiency held up when individuals live their daily lives in the housing. The zero carbon target is met through various means; the materials the homes are built with are fabrics that help to limit heat loss in the home. These materials help to increase the heat recovery efficiency of a home to 92% - much higher than in most homes. The overall need for heat and lighting in these homes was reduced by innovative design and fabric performance. However, that alone does not create a zero-carbon home, the way tenants use the home has to be energy and water efficient. Thus all the appliances in the house are energy efficient and there is smart metering and smart appliances to aid with energy monitoring and use. The homes also feature a grey water recycling system, where used bath and shower water is recycled and used to flush toilets and recover wasted heat. All the houses make use of a central rainwater collection system, where the water is stored and can be used to flush toilets and provide water for car washing and irrigation. The final component in creating homes which are carbon neutral is utilising renewable energy; low carbon heating and hot water are supplied to all the homes from a renewable energy centre. This centre takes the best of domestic renewable technology and combines them to provide the energy and heating these homes need. The energy centre includes solar thermal panels, an air source heat pump, a ground source heat pump and a biomass boiler. This is just one example of how to create a zero-carbon housing, hopefully in the future all new builds will be carbon neutral which will benefit both the home owner (saving on bills) and the environment.
  3. The Impacts of Washing Your Own Car

    Despite the innocence associated with washing your car on a Sunday afternoon with the kids in your driveway, a do-it-yourself car wash can actually have more of an impact on the environment than you might expect. In fact, many jurisdictions in Canada have banned washing cars at home altogether. Citizens of the Canadian city Calgary could face a $3,000 fine if they wash their vehicle with soap at home, and most aren’t even aware of it. Washing cars in the driveway is surprisingly one of the most environmentally damaging chores that can be done around the house. When you wash your car yourself, the product of this wash is water that goes directly into the storm drains, and ultimately ends up in rivers, streams and creeks where it becomes poisonous to aquatic life and can disrupts the numerous ecosystems that live there. After all, the water in question is contaminated with gasoline, as well as oil and residues from exhaust fumes, in addition to the chemical rich detergents being used for the washing itself. This water, unlike household wastewater that enters sewers or septic systems, undergoes zero treatment before it is discharged into the environment. Not to mention the activity wastes city water, according to one report, on average, washing a car at home uses between 80 and 140 gallons of water. Despite the added personal expense, going to a commercial car wash can be much better for the environment as most drain their wastewater into sewer systems (USA and Canada have federal laws stating this). What is more carwash institutions often use computer controlled systems and high pressure nozzles which limit water usage. Many commercial car washes have systems in place to recycle the water they use too. Depending on where in the world you live, you can make the choice to wash your own car if you insist upon it. In this case, there are ways in which can limit the damage on the environment. For instance, you can choose to use a biodegradable soap which is made especially for vehicle use. In addition, the location in which you choose to wash your car can also make a difference to where the potentially toxic water will end up. Washing your car on your lawn or over soil can be beneficial as the water can be absorbed and neutralized in the soil as opposed to flowing directly into storm drains or open bodies of water. Mopping up the excess water afterwards can help keep thirsty animals safe too. This article was written by Chloe Hashemi on behalf of Credo Asset Finance who provide car finance in Norwich and Norfolk.
  4. How to Make Your Home Eco-friendly

    Over 35% of the UK’s carbon dioxide emissions, the main greenhouse gas which causes climate change, comes from everyday appliances and activities in your home. Here’re a few tips on how you can make your home more eco-friendly and reduce you and your families carbon footprint. Triple glazing Triple glazed windows are even more energy-efficient than modern double glazing and can reduce your carbon emissions even further. Three layers of glass mean that the house will stay warmer keeping you and your family warm. This is because any cold spots are completely eliminated and less energy is used in heating which is a huge benefit during the cold British winters. The thickness of three glass panels also enhances security and minimises outdoor noise levels. So whether it is next door’s noisy dog or a busy road outside that always wakes the kids up, triple glazing can help put a stop to it so you and your family can enjoy some uninterrupted sleep. Although the initial expenses can be quite costly, in the long run it will actually save up to 28% on your energy bills, and with energy prices continuing to soar, the option of triple glazing is becoming increasingly popular for many households. Underfloor heating Companies such as RA Brown Heating Services Ltd have been designing, supplying and installing underfloor heating and ground source heat pumps in Suffolk for over 20 years and thanks to the enormous benefits that underfloor heating can bring to a home and the environment, it has meant that the UK market is growing by 20% per year. Underfloor heating not only brings high comfort levels to the home but also has low running costs. Radiant energy from the floor is absorbed by the other surfaces in a room, which warm up and become secondary radiator emitters. What is more, it has the added benefit that it creates more space in your home, without any bulky radiators obstructing places for furniture, as well as reduces the risk of the kids getting any nasty burns as they play around the house and bump into a radiator. Loft and wall Insulation Heat rises and a quarter of your heat is lost through the roof, therefore loft and roof insulation is vital in your home. It is a simple and effective way to become more energy efficient and reduce your heating bills dramatically and can be done without any professional help. Loft insulation is a well worth investment as it is effective for over 40 years and the initial costs are paid for over and over again. If you have an older home, built around the 1920’s, the external walls are likely to have to layers with a cavity between. If this is the case, it is also well worth investing in wall insulation. Similar to loft and roof insulation, it can reduce your carbon emissions and can also reduce condensation as the interior wall is warmer. Furthermore, it will increase your home’s value for when you sell your home. Solar panels Solar panels are a fantastic way of harnessing natural resources to generate energy. In comparison to oil, solar energy is 100% renewable and sustainable and it produces no pollution whatsoever. The power source of the sun is completely free and the technological advances in solar energy systems have made them very cost effective with a life span of 40 years. Previously, a major factor that put people off installing solar panels in to their homes, was due to them being unattractive, but nowadays there are much sleeker systems that lay directly on the roof like regular roofing tiles.
  5. [Photo Credit: vaxomatic] 2012 was the second most prosperous year in history when it came to global green investment projects and the policies of UK governments. It is likely to see future years improving at a similar rate, both in the dedication to green investment policies and in respective governments worldwide. According to figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a total of $268bn was capitalised throughout the year on schemes ranging from off-shore wind turbines to biofuels and anaerobic digesters. Partaking in this ever expanding investment opportunity should be top on every investor’s priority list. The market can only progress, and with the UK government pledging to reduce carbon emissions significantly by 2020, now may be the best time jump on the green investment bandwagon. While there are numerous routes investors can go down to get involved in these types of projects, one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome is gaining the correct finance for the initial cost structure and ongoing costs. This is where the Green Investment Bank plays a key role. The government has acknowledged the necessity for a new banking structure designed to meet the prerequisites of the green investor. With this area being so new and rather experimental, the regular banking environment is not always the best environment and service for this type of investment. The Green Investment Bank is meets the need for realistically priced investment capital in a market where money is hard to happen upon and where utility companies are often too overextended or unwilling to intercede and contribute. It will provide funding to projects which meet the criteria of being low carbon and sustainable and will be subsidised by an amalgamation of private investment and government funds. With government policies striving to provide a plausible investment solution for those prepared to put their money towards green projects, the future certainly looks prosperous for the green investment sector. In addition to this, the fact that the price of oil is on the rise, the environmental and societal costs of gas and coal are not likely to improve, it does seem that the only alternative for an ethical investor is to take advantage of the growing green investment sector. The leader of the UK Green Party (and MP for Brighton Pavilion) Caroline Lucas, recently critiqued the classification of the GIB in January 2011, when she wrote that "It's a bit rich to call [the GIB] a green investment bank if it can neither borrow nor lend". Lucas contended that without these powers, "it would be a fund – that is, a pot of money that, once used up, is gone forever." Nonetheless, it is rather significant that part of the rapid development of renewable energy companies is due to the government offered subsidies, (which are may not be maintained in the long term). Often when there are discussions which surround rising heating prices the funds for green incentivising are the first to go. The issue about these types of investments being so closely tied to social, economic and political issues is that you do run the risk of them falling victim to an abrupt shift in the state of affairs. For instance, the Spanish government changing its standpoint regarding green funding. Generally, this shift towards green technology on a grand scale, should mean that green investments are a wise choice. If green investment is something that you are seriously considering as a personal investment, or for your company, then click here for further information about investment management. This could be a smart move, especially if you want a good return in investment (and who doesn’t).
  6. No matter how green your office or your company claims to be, there is always a room for improvement. Whether this be with the office products you choose to use, or the way in which the employees choose to travel, there is always that extra step that can be taken to make a considerable positive change. This positive change can be beneficial for the environment, as well as your company itself. For instance, going green can save your company a substantial amount every year in energy bills. This is because waste isn’t only harmful to the environment but to the company bank account. Waste can be expensive; according to the sustainability agency WRAP, collectively it costs UK businesses over £23 billion per year. Going green can be beneficial to your work ethic and general environment too. Setting realistic targets to reach on a weekly or monthly basis can equate to a more productive and motivated workforce especially if the efforts are made apparent. In addition, it doesn’t hurt in regards to your public image either. If your clients, local community, business partners and regulatory agencies see that you are making a conscious effort to become green, it will all positive for your and your business. 1. Get Everyone Involved Making it a team effort can really make all the difference, as everyone is working together to make a significant change. Also, three heads are better than one, so if everyone has a brainstorming session to formulate ways in which the company can make a positive step forward to preventing environment pollution, it’s likely that some decent ideas will emerge, some in which can be utilised by the entire team. 2. Selecting Eco-Friendly Suppliers If your company chooses local suppliers who share your green values, it can be beneficial for them and your company (and the environment of course.) Choosing local suppliers means shorter delivery trips from nearby suppliers which means less fuel, and transportation impacts which can reduce your corporate carbon footprint. 3. Lessen your Paper Usage Figures from the UK government estimate that over 80 tonnes of printing and writing paper is thrown away each year. You can ensure that this is recycled instead of being sent straight to the landfill by setting up separate recycling bins for paper. Due to modern technology, it is now much easier to reduce your paper usage, as most things can be processed online, or on computers. A paperless office uses fewer resources, requires less storage space and is more cost effective, so try to use emails and PDF documents where you can. If printing is needed, then use both sides. For instance, four years ago, Farnell Clarke, accountants in Norwich became a pioneer among accountancy practices in the UK, as they were one of the first to adopt KashFlow as its preferred software provider. They made the bold decision to entirely move away from the costly Sage packages that underpin most firms. Whilst Sage has led the accountancy market for many years, the emergence of the new technology gives accountants the opportunity to offer clients something new and innovative, which is also cost effective. KashFlow is Cloud-based accountancy software. Essentially, this means that it functions entirely online, with all data hosted by remote services ‘in the Cloud’. KashFlow allows the employees of the firm, and their clients to access their management information from absolutely anywhere, at any time – as long as they have access to the internet. 4. Green Travel An extra consideration is your commute to work, however long it may be. Encouraging your staff to carpool or use public transport is an effective way to shrink your carbon footprint, and your travel costs. Cycling is even better, accomplishing both of the above with the added advantage of regular exercise, which is also useful for team health, morale and attentiveness. And if your business joins to the Government’s Cycle to Work Scheme, employees can save up to 42% off the price of a new bicycle. 5. Green Office Products Offices consume a huge amount of stationery supplies each year. So the extra consideration to seek out for recycled paper with a high level of post-consumer waste can make a large difference in the long run. One tonne of recycled paper saves 7,000 gallons of water, 380 gallons of oil and one tonne of carbon equivalent. Also, recycled pens are an option, which reprocess materials to reduce oil consumption and landfill waste.
  7. It is estimated that seven million tonnes of food and drink are thrown away every year by people in the UK. Approximately one fifth of this is food that could have been consumed, equating to 1,400,000 tonnes in total (the equivalent weight of over 250,000 bull elephants). This is an astounding quantity of waste which has a significant environmental, social and economic impact on both the UK and the planet. Figures released earlier this year have discovered that recommendations to food banks have risen by 163% with more than 900,000 people who require food banks. 50% of these referrals are a result of benefit delays or cuts, leading to 582,933 adults and 330,205 children who depend on food banks to eat. With the UK having the sixth richest economy globally, this number of people going hungry is a real issue, especially with the vast quantities of decent food going to waste. Last year, almost 2,500 tonnes of food was contributed to food banks, which is an incredible figure– but this only makes up a mere 3% of 7 million tonnes of binned food. The difference the food could have made had it not been thrown away would have been great for those in need, as well as to the environment. As well as accepting food donations, food banks gladly welcome monetary contributions, for example Best of Suffolk, a company specialising Suffolk cottages and other holiday cottages in the area recently donated £3,000 to the East Suffolk Food Bank, a scheme seeded by the Trussell Trust. Business director, Naomi Tarry describes that “The ability to feed yourself and your family is such a basic need that needs to be met”. So, contributing to a needy cause can be done so by…? Needlessly throwing away food is very costly as well. Although binning that moulding banana might not seem like that much, it all adds up in the long run. On average, the price of discarded food is setting back the average household by almost £470 each year. For families with offspring, food waste can amount to approximately £60 each month, equating to £700 a year. Intentionally planning meals, writing shopping lists and not getting fooled by offers is a great way to reduce the household waste and the binning of excess food. The planting, growing, harvesting and packaging of food can all immensely contribute to both an individual’s carbon and water footprint. A small percentage of people are aware that it takes a shocking twenty of litres of water to produce a single egg and if you throw that away, you’re basically throwing away all that water. The waste of decent food is presently connected for almost 5% of the UK’s total water footprint. Additionally, wasted food is accountable for a substantial amount of the UK’s carbon footprint. If no food was made futile whatsoever in the UK, the carbon saved would be equal to taking one quarter of the cars of the of the road. To lessen your waste in your home, attempt and make an active attempt to be alert of the food you have in your refrigerator and cupboards and plan your weekly meals to try and use what needs eating before everything expires. By simply not throwing food away, you will be shrinking the impact you are having on the environment and will help save yourself valuable cash.
  8. Moving Home the Green Way

    When moving house it feels like there’s a million details to sort out and consider, but one you might not have thought of is making your move a green one. It’s more easily done than you might think, just changing a few details can make a big difference and often it’s more economical for you as well. Don’t throw away – Reuse or Recycle Moving house is often synonymous with de-cluttering but what you do with your unwanted belongings can have an impact on the environment. So, instead of taking several trips to the dump and creating yet more waste, try to find another home for your belongings. There are various options for this; Gumtree, eBay and even a car boot sale for those knick-knacks you’re not sure anyone really wants. Or, if you have a bit of time and artistic flare you could try upcycling them. One easy option is the British Heart Foundation, they have furniture stores across the UK and will collect your unwanted furniture for free and sell it to raise money for charity, given it’s in good enough condition for them to sell on. It helps the environment because you’re not throwing it away and creating rubbish, it raises money for charity and someone gets a reasonably priced piece of furniture. It’s a win, win and all it takes from you is a simple phone call. If your mission to sell or even give away your stuff doesn't work, you can probably recycle it rather than just throwing it away. Recycle now is the official UK recycling site which tells you what items you can recycle and where you can recycle them in your local area as well as providing useful info on how recycling works and why it’s important. Eco Cleaning Products Before you leave your home for good it’s likely it’s going to need a good clean, especially if you’re moving from a rental property and hoping for a full deposit back. So, you should consider getting some environmentally responsible cleaning products to help you, if you get the right ones they’re just as effective at cleaning and you won’t leave the property with a chemical stench. Wasted Packaging The materials you use to move can also have a big impact on the environment, moving companies often like to use new boxes because of the stability and then throw them away after one use. Often you don’t need all new boxes and rolls of bubble wrap to pack up your home. Newspaper, towels and clothes work just as well to protect fragile items and you can often get old boxes from supermarkets or friends. There are even companies where you can rent removal boxes or removal companies that do this for you. Pick the Right Moving Company It’s worth looking into who helps you move, for instance Abels removal company have environmentally responsible moving vans. The environment is a growing concern across all industries and it’s worth doing a little research to find a company which can help you to make your move as green as possible. Moving internationally We all know airplane travel is the ultimate environmental sin however sometimes it’s a necessity, especially if you’re moving a great distance internationally. If this is the case you might want to think about offsetting your carbon footprint. There are various companies and websites that set to help you do this and it’s usually as simple as transferring a small fee to get some trees re-planted or support reforestation. If you’re not moving home so far you could consider transporting you and your belongings by more environmental means.
  9. The Best Ways to Travel Green

    The airplane is an amazing invention that allows us to explore the globe at a whim. We’ve probably all chosen a plane as our main mode of transport when travelling long distances purely because of the convenience. Unfortunately however, flying comes at a huge cost to the environment. For instance did you know that even a short-haul flight, one way from London to Manchester emits 63.9kg of CO2 per passenger if the plane is 70% filled, and 44.7kg if the plane if full. Compare this to the same journey travelled by train – only emitting 5.2kg per passenger, at 70% capacity, or by coach – only emitting 4.3kg per passenger (estimating 40 people on the coach). Furthermore, travelling by airplane causes more damage than just the carbon emissions; for instance the water vapour produced such heights form thin clouds that only further contribute to global warming. Therefore travelling by plane has more than twice the impact of the carbon emissions alone. It’s not news, if air travel can be avoided it should be, here’s some helpful information on alternative travel options: Trains Trains are a great way to travel around that are often forgotten or overlooked. They offer comfort, freedom to move around and some have that excellent service where you can get a toasted sandwich or booze if you feel so inclined, albeit at a slightly inflated price. Most of the major railway owners are making efforts to be more green, but First Great Western have been particularly vocal about their efforts and have even provided a handy calculator which tells you how much carbon you save on your selected journey, by taking the train instead of driving. For example taking the relatively short two and a half hour train journey from Exeter to London saves 24.87 kg of carbon dioxide – this is the same amount of energy could power 83 televisions for a day. What is more, trains can be a viable option for international travel – especially if you’re travelling to or starting your journey in Europe. If you’re simply looking to get to Paris or Brussels, the Eurostar will take you directly there by rail, if you’re looking to go further afield it can be a great way to get across the ocean without flying and those pesky high carbon emissions. There are various options for travelling across Europe – Road, Rail and Sea is a website which specialises in overland travel all across Europe. If you’re looking for a budget option where you can explore, an interrail card allows you to travel the railways across Europe. Coaches An added benefit of green travel is that it is often also a more economical choice, especially if you choose coach as your option. Coach services are great if you’re going to a specific event, like a festival, many coach companies are designed specifically to cater for this and you’ll be travelling with people all going to the same event as you. If you’re visiting a specific area in the UK then it might be worth looking into local coach companies who are often able to offer the best deals and are familiar with the surrounding area – for example Maretts Chariots offer coach hire in Norwich. This kind of travel can be great if you’re planning a cheap trip for a large group of travellers. If you do Fly, Balance your Carbon Footprint For many of us time is limited resource, especially when it comes to holidays from work, so if you want to travel further afield sometimes you don’t have the luxury of taking slower modes of transport when that would mean days of travel. If you only have a week off work you don’t want to spend half of that on travel and only a few days in your chosen location. So, there are various ways to try and offset your carbon footprint you create from travelling by airplane. This website lets you enter you journey and tells you how much carbon your flight produces and gives you ideas of how to offset it; such as investing small amounts clean energy, reforestation or tree planting projects.
  10. [image Credit: mccun934] Next time you come across a Facebook ad or receive an advertisement by email, instead of having the urge to throw your laptop across the room, take a moment to consider the countless resources that may have been saved by producing a digital copy instead. Online, the reach can be a lot wider, essentially extending to people from all corners of the globe without the burden of environmentally harmful paper and ink, as well as the various transportation impacts as well. In this way, the internet can be great at limiting resources required for specific industries, especially when considering the time and materials which would have been needed to reach the same volume of people. In terms of other ‘modern substitutes’ for the simple yet not-so-green pleasures in life, they aren’t always as miraculous as they first appear to be. An example of this misconception is the e-reader versus ‘real books’ debate. A commonly mistaken belief is that buying an e-reader of any kind will suddenly solve all deforestation issues which are caused from the publishing and print industries. However, what is often overlooked is what the production of the e-reader itself involves, and the impact this has on the environment, despite its long term benefits. A New York Times study discovered that a single e-reader must extract 33lb of minerals, including coltan, which is a metallic ore. The production also required 79 gallons of water and 100 kilowatt hours of fossil fuels, which equates to 66lb of CO2. In order to produce a book, only a tiny fraction of these resources is required, and no coltan is needed. Essentially, if producing a Kindle produces the same amount of CO2 as 30 books, then you’ll need to read that number on the device to break even. According to research conducted by the Cleantech Group, "The roughly 168 kg of CO2 produced throughout the Kindle's lifecycle is a clear winner against the potential savings: 1,074 kg of CO2 if replacing three books a month for four years; and up to 26,098 kg of CO2 when used to the fullest capacity of the Kindle DX. Less-frequent readers attracted by decreasing prices still can break even at 22.5 books over the life of the device," In the online versus print newspaper debate, once again, it would be a misconception to assume that print newspapers are the lead pollutants. In actual fact, a large percentage of newspapers, especially in Europe are printed on recycled materials. It seems to be a combination of both online and print media can be a sustainable way to proceed. Electronic waste is now the fastest growing component of the municipal waste stream. It has been revealed that the amount of electronic products discarded globally has recently risen to approximately 20-50 million tonnes every year. In terms of video production, online distribution of content seems to be a positive step forward. As distribution of video is the past has required a physical copy for each single video shared, a large quantity of materials was required to reach a large audience of people. However, with the invention of the internet, thousands of people can be reached in just 24 hours, with minimal impact on the environment. For example, video production companies such as Lambda, based in East Anglia, produce high quality content without harming the environment to do so. Due to the progress in the camera industry, cameras are now considerably shrinking in size, which means even less requirement from the environment to produce video content. With film being recorded on to memory cards as opposed to disks and tapes, even less materials are being utilised every year. This means messages can be spread to the thousands without leaving a considerable dent on the environment. Of course large movie sets can cause a considerable impact on the environment it inhabits, but that’s a different story.
  11. No one can dispute that Germany is the world’s leading advocate of solar energy. However, countries like Australia are rapidly progressing in their mission to adopt sustainable energy, as they are beginning to wholeheartedly embrace solar energy. With the Australian government’s decisively enforced ‘Renewable Energy Target (RET)’, a 13 year period has caused 1.2 million homes with solar panels installed on their roofs. In addition to this, development in research has led to an eventual reverse in Australia's reliance on fossil fuels, if the technology can be sustained. The ultimate goal of this scheme is to guarantee that 20% of the country’s electricity is produced from renewable sources by the year 2020. What is great is that solar power magnitude is said to develop even further in the next decade. Australia and Asia aim to increase their rooftop solar panels usage by up to six times in quantity in the next ten years. Similar to the aforementioned scheme, a majority of other mandatory renewable energy targets aim to reach their objective by 2020. These legally binding objectives (in which 67 countries worldwide are a part of), include large scale and small scale schemes which strive to reach the national objective steadily, while simultaneously targeting a range of small and large regions and by applying first, second and third generation technology in these areas. In 2009, the European Commission initiated a renewable energy policy which enforced all member states of the European Union to abide to the ’20-20-20’ targets, which represent 3 main goals, including a 20% decrease in EU greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, raising the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20% and an expected 20% increase in the EU's energy efficiency; all by 2020. The Green Deal is an initiative supported by the government in the UK, which helps people comprehend the energy saving improvements they can personally make on their home, which can be beneficial for a more wide-ranging understanding of the situation on a local and global level. The Green Deal finance loan aims to fund a percentage of the installation costs of micro generation systems at home but is not that productive because costs still remain beyond for the average Brit’s budget. However, times are changing. On a more local scale, to steadily achieve greater results, solar panels have become much easier to maintain in the United Kingdom. Especially with affordable apparatus such as electrical test equipment, which means you can now maintain your micro generation energy system at home with minimal additional assistance. Communities across the country are also making an effort to adopt more sustainable schemes of energy production, such as The Lancaster Cohousing Project based in Forgebank. At a glance, it seems that a mandatory renewable energy target can be a beneficial approach for UK to adopt in various ways, both environmentally and financially. In 2013, British Gas raised gas prices by 8.4% and electricity prices by 10.4%, which on average is a 9.2% rise. With the pressure on the nation in terms of household bills, the prospect of renewable energy has become more appealing to all; not just environmentalists. Countries which have proven the potential for substantial progress over a relatively short period of time are Sweden, Estonia and Bulgaria, which have already exceeded their 2020 goal, 6 years ahead of schedule. This progress is due to a substantial growth in production of wind power. Only time will tell if renewable energy systems in the local community are as reasonable as the promising outcome. The UK still has 6 years to pull something out of the bag, and at the rate technology is developing, who knows what the future holds for everyone.
  12. UK housing is amongst the least energy efficient homes in the whole of Europe. Running a fully-functioning home accounts for nearly half of the UK’s yearly carbon emissions. Housing is so poorly insulated that a third of all UK homes (6.7 million) are rated E or worse on their energy performance certificate, meaning they have a low standard of energy efficiency. Not only are Britain’s poorly insulated homes having a negative impact on the environment, but also on their inhabitants’ standard of living. According to recent research, the UK comes bottom of a fuel poverty league table for Western Europe and figures from 2011 revealed that a quarter of the people in question were living in fuel poverty, amounting to a grand total of 4.5 million homes. As UK homes are so poorly insulated, any in the house heat is lost very quickly, meaning that Brits are spending a small fortune on energy bills and are essentially burning cash to stay warm for only a short period of time. With energy prices substantially increasing this year, many simply can’t afford to heat their homes during the cold winter months, forcing them into fuel poverty. For example, British Gas has increased their gas prices by a staggering 8.4% and its electricity prices by 10.4% in recent years. The older generation are among the worst suffers of fuel poverty with Age UK estimating that 1.7 million older people in the UK cannot meet the expense of heating their homes, and over a third (36%) of older people in the UK say they try to spend a majority of their time in a single room to save money. This can cause major health issues and up to 24,000 older people could die in the cold during the winter months. With conditions in UK housing becoming rather serious, the Government has already made a conscious effort to help reduce household bills, reduce carbon emissions and improve the general standards of living. For instance, the Green Deal was introduced at the beginning of 2013, with the objective to encourage household’s to take out loans to cover the cost of making their homes more energy efficient. However, the scheme hasn’t been as effective as hoped – the government aimed to convert 10,000 homes into the scheme for 2013, when actually there was not one live deal in the first half of the year in spite of 241 household’s agreeing to the funding. Therefore, the question is what else can be changed to develop the efficiency of homes within the UK? One of the major issues is the fact that so much of Britain’s housing in the UK is relatively old, and therefore the UK would benefit from newer housing which has less impact on the environment, such as the new generations of manufactured homes like mobile homes and park homes. Mobile housing is popular in the U.S and according to research carried out by the U.S. Department of Energy, this type of housing can save up to 55% of energy when compared to a house without energy efficient facilities and appliances. Furthermore, Omar Homes a company that provide mobile homes and park homes, are built with ‘being green’ in mind. The homes can be built with water heat pumps, solar photovoltaic panels and ground source heat pumps. Therefore, taking this into consideration; could more manufactured housing be the answer to helping Britain become more green? The manufactured housing industry has already seen considerable interest towards mobile and static housing. For example, companies like Harvey Longsons, who focus on static caravans for sale have seen outstanding results in recent years. Conversely, if more mobile housing communities were more available it could also help solve the problem of fuel poverty for the ageing population, as these types of communities are often a suitable lifestyle for retirement. The retiree can be surrounded by similarly aged neighbours and have communal activities more available to them. As opposed to elderly people continuing to live in their family home, (which can often be s too large for their needs, and are not cost efficient), perhaps if they had the option, more retirees would move to manufactured housing communities that will not only save them money on energy prices and provide them with a more fulfilled lifestyle, but will also significantly reduce their carbon footprint.
  13. Hello chloehashemi, welcome to Green Blog! :)