April 25, 2012

Why Ecology is Important in Vancouver?

Vancouver EcodensityVancouver has long enjoyed the status as one of the world’s most livable cities. But despite this reputation, the fact is our city has a large ecological footprint. If everyone lived like we do in Vancouver, it would take four planets to sustain us.

Today, our city faces three important challenges:

  • how to continue to grow in a way that is sustainable and reduces the city’s ecological footprint;
  • how to grow in a way that maintains our livability; and
  • how to grow in a way that improves opportunities to create more affordable types of housing.

(more…)

April 20, 2012

Living in a Global City: Housing and Affordability

Global CityRelating EcoDensity to amount and type of housing in neighbourhoods

Housing options Imagine a young Vancouver couple who has just had their first child. They are enjoying being new parents, and are eager to provide their child with a good home. They think it would be best if they lived near their own parents, but they can’t find affordable rental units in the neighbourhood. They also would like some outdoor space for their child to play. They could leave Vancouver, but they know that this will mean more driving and make it harder to arrange child minding with the grandparents.

(more…)

August 31, 2014

Sleeping Green: Eco-Friendly Mattress Options

You’ve bought a hybrid car, you recycle your bottles and you’ve even started experimenting with vermiculture. You’re taking all the steps you can to make your lifestyle an environmentally friendly and sustainable one. But what about your mattress? Have you researched options for an eco-friendly bedroom? There are mattresses available on the market which offer a greener choice than a standard pillow top or other mattress. While you’ll have to purchase according to your needs and budget, we’ll share a few tips to get you started shopping for your environmentally friendly mattress.

The Problems with Standard Mattresses

When you visit a mattress retailer, you’ll see a wide variety of options from thread count and number of springs to “natural” and synthetic materials. However, most mattresses are covered with just as wide a variety of harmful chemicals. Formaldehyde is often sprayed on new mattresses and bedding, and pesticides are used in the growing of cotton and other materials used to manufacture the mattresses. Synthetic materials will not biodegrade, and many other mattress components are not processed in cruelty-free facilities. When these elements are combined into the mattresses you see at retailers, the result is extremely harmful to both your health and the environment.

Green Mattress Options

While innerspring mattresses are undoubtedly less expensive than memory foam mattresses, the green options available to you are more limited than that of foam mattresses. Manufacturers will label products with elements such as organic cotton or cruelty-free wool, but the coils and springs are generally manufactured in the same way no matter which mattress you choose. Consider shopping for the best memory foam mattress available to you in your budget; green memory foam mattresses can be found which are almost entirely sustainable and organic. Look for labels which indicate latex which is made from natural rubber, plant-based oils and certified organic fibers. Research the manufacturer to ensure that the materials used in making the mattress are processed sustainably. And look into the retailer, too. Make sure that your retail store doesn’t apply any harmful chemicals to the mattresses after receiving them, such as flame retardant sprays or air fresheners. Best Mattress Central is a great resource for beginning your research into the mattress you will ultimately choose.

Recycling Your Old Mattress

Now that you’ve chosen a new, eco-friendly mattress, it’s time to dispose of the old. Discarded mattresses take up about 5% of the space in America’s landfills, and the materials can take centuries to decompose. What are other options for discarding yours?

  • Donate your mattress to an animal shelter. Mattresses are extremely unhygienic, and collect their weight in dead skin cells and dust mites over a ten year span. Homeless shelters will generally not accept mattress donations, but some animal shelters will. Contact your local shelter for details.
  • Disassemble your mattress yourself. The parts that make up a mattress, by themselves, are usually recyclable. Wood beams, wool stuffing and steel coils can all be brought to your local recycling facility, keeping the bulky mattress out of the landfill.
  • Ask your retailer. Some retailers will have established relationships with recycling facilities which will not accept mattresses from the general public. Many retailers even give customers the option of carrying the old mattress away upon delivery of the new.

A visit to a mattress retailer may seem overwhelming. Research your options for environmentally sound practices and materials, and have an idea of your budget. While you may not be able to purchase a 100% green mattress, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve done your part to contribute to an environmentally friendly bedroom.

August 31, 2014

Your Health and Headphones: Is Anyone Listening

Hearing loss is a big issue. It’s been a big issue for a long time. Parents are concerned about their children and how loud their music is. Even adults get concerned about each other. One of the constants you hear, “Would you turn that music down. You are going to lose your hearing.” No matter what sort of boxed headphone or ear buds you buy, this is always going to be an issue.

Did you know that about 1 out of every 5 kids has some sort of hearing loss? it doesn’t matter if the headphones are heavy duty or light-weight. The hearing loss is going to be inevitable, at some point. Even listening to the best headphones of 2014, can give you hearing loss. It can also result in delayed speech patterns, especially if it’s been happening at such a young age.

HOW LOUD SHOULD THE VOLUME BE
Most mp3 players can produce sounds equivalent to being at a rock concert. Prolong exposure to this can be very bad for your health. If you child is listening to the music that loud, for over an hour, hearing loss will occur. One way to tell if the music is too loud, listen to what is going on around you. If you can’t hear what is around you, you have the volume too high.

HOW LONG IS TOO LONG
If you are only using 60% of the volume, it should be for about an hour. One hour per day, no longer. if you have got it on at maximum volume, then no more then 5 or 10 minutes. Any longer, you are endangering your health.

A FEW SIGNS YOU ALREADY HAVE SOME SORT OF HEARING LOSS
when you are using boxed headphones, there are no actual warning signs. Most of it happens at a gradual pace. It will accumulate over time. But there are some things t look out for.
1) A ringing or buzzing in the ear. If this start to happen to you, you might be in trouble.
2) Can’t understand speech. If you have a hard time putting together speech in a loud place, this is not a good sign.
3) If your ear feels muffled or plugged up, this could be a warning.
4) If you are listening to the music louder then you used to, this is also a tell-tale sign.

IS THERE A CURE FOR THIS HEALTH ISSUE
To be honest, there really isn’t. Once your ears have been exposed, especially at a very young age, the damage is done. You can invest in things like hearing aids.

There are ways to help prevent it, though. Use bigger headphones, not ear buds. The headphones will go around the ear, not into it. Follow the 60/60 rule. You should also do things in moderation. Listening to shorter intervals of music will help to protect the health of your ear. You won’t lose your hearing as quickly.

August 31, 2014

Eco Friendly Alternatives for Men Who Love to Shave

For millions of men shaving is not only a morning activity to get rid of excess facial hair – it’s a ritual. Something taught generation after generation among men. But did you know that we are surrounded with products based on synthetic and chemical ingredients? Of course, you don’t have to depend on them to get a good shave. In this article we will learn about what alternatives you can explore and give you some tips to have a more eco-friendly shaving session!

Shaving Creams

A lot of shaving creams contain chemical ingredients. Sure they may say they have natural ingredients, but we are talking about just a couple of items on the list, in reality they have a big list of unpronounceable items that we don’t know nothing about, especially those canned shaving creams you find everywhere.

Instead of traditional shaving cream, you can try using shaving oil or coconut oil, both are great alternatives that helps the razor glide easily without harmful side effects. I have heard about people that use only water to shave, but I don’t recommend this because if you are not careful it can easily lead to irritation and cuts – especially if you have sensitive skin.

Another alternative is home-made shaving cream. By making your own cream you will be in total control of the end product. There are many recipes you can find online, they will get you started and in the future you can even come up with your own 100% natural recipe.

If you prefer known products, then my advise would be to use the best natural shaving creams that contain ingredients such as natural aloe, shea butter, vitamins E and C, among others.

Razors

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the use of disposable razors generates big amounts of waste per year. It has been estimated that two billion razors are thrown out each year, and that surely takes a toll on the environment! Now, I’m not saying you should use a disposable razors for months before throwing it away because these razors lose their edge rather quickly, Instead I want to present you a better alternative: safety razors.

Double edge safety razors are nothing new, as a matter of fact they fall into the category of “traditional shaving supplies” because they were very popular before the appearance of plastic disposable razors. The only thing you replace in these razors is the blade, and it uses cheap, small traditional blades that last for a long time. Two years ago I made the switch to safety razors and I have never looked back. Besides helping you shave better they help you save money on the long run!

Nowadays you can find great safety razors stands and kits that come with all the supplies you need to start with classic shaving.

Aftershave

Once you finish shaving, you need something that soothes your skin and restores its natural moisture. Many men use alcohol, but this product can cause irritation in addition to that burning sensation. I would recommend using coconut oil, aloe vera or even peppermint essential oil, all of them great alternatives to restore the state of your skin.

If you want a a product, instead of looking for a generic aftershave, look for a moisturizer based on natural ingredients.

August 31, 2014

How to Reduce Paper Waste at the Office

Paper waste is one of the biggest environmental issues we have to face in these times we live in. Everyday tons of paper end up in the trash, and our trees are suffering because of this (it has been estimated that almost half of the global wood harvest goes to the production of paper)!

Luckily, when it comes to paper waste there’s a lot we can do. We can start, for example, by reducing paper in our offices. Offices are places that use a lot of paper, especially when they rely on traditional technology. Here we offer a few suggestions that will help you have a more eco-friendly workspace.

Throw away your fax machine

Contrary to what many people think, fax is not dead. Millions of businesses around the World still rely in this type of technology since it is secure and perfect for business communications. But faxing these days doesn’t mean that you have to use a traditional fax machine. There’s a new, faster and environmentally-friendly way to fax these days, through the use of email fax services.

This technology allows to send and receive by email, without the need of a machine. Thanks to it we can enjoy Google fax (by linking it to a Gmail address) or Yahoo Mail fax! You even get your own free fax number, it is fully secure and compatible with old fax machines. The best of all… it doesn’t use paper all the time, giving you freedom to print on your computer only those documents that you need to have in physical form.

Print greener

You need to learn how to use your printer with the environment in mind. Here are a few tips that will put you on the right track.

- Print on both sides, reducing margins and fonts. Take the time to adjust your document and you will also end up saving money too!
- Use inks that don’t contain petroleum bases and are low on volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
- Preview the document to see if there are printing problems and review grammar/spelling. This will avoid repeated prints.
- Print only those pages you need, some documents can be read without extra information and graphics that waste paper.

Buy the Right Paper

Avoid buying paper that is brightened using chlorine. Chlorine leads up to the production of a toxin substance known as dioxin. Unfortunately a big majority of paper mills still use chlorine, so we must prefer greener products for the industry to change. You should look for paper that has the label “totally chlorine-free” (TCF) or “processed chlorine free” (PCF).

Buy paper that comes from companies that are committed to safe environmental practices to ensure long-term sustainable paper production. You can also opt for paper made from recycled store, reducing the amount of trees used. A little research goes a long way, so go to the Internet and find these companies on your area or country. Besides that, spread the word! Sometimes people don’t buy good products simply because they never knew they existed in the first place! And remember to accompany these tips with other eco friendly measures for the office.

August 29, 2014

How to Make Your Laptop More Environmentally Friendly

All energy usage has the potential to be unhealthy for the environment. It just depends on how you use it. Laptops, albeit small, can be harmful to the environment. Don’t worry! We are going to show you plenty of way to make sure your laptop usage stays environmentally friendly, and doesn’t end up hurting the environment at all.

We’ll go ahead and get right to it!

  1. Make sure you dispose of your battery properly. If you just throw your battery, it will end up in a landfill or some other dumping area where it doesn’t belong. The chemicals in batteries are harmful to the environment if they are just left out to leak and spill. There are plenty of companies and areas that are made specifically for dumping electronics. We highly suggest you use them. While you’re at it, have any old computers or monitors? If you can’t sell them, take them to the proper disposal area as well. Heck, you might even score a few bucks.
  2. Try to buy computers that have a lot of battery life. This keeps you from having to use an outlet constantly. MacBook and other smaller, leaner laptops are good for this. We’d recommend giving these a try. Some of the more efficient laptops can get 11 to 13 hours out of them. If more people shoot for this type of efficiency, we collectively use less energy. That does wonders for the environment.
  3. We’d also like to note that buy using a laptop instead of a desktop, you’re halfway there to helping the economy. Laptops use considerably less energy than desk tops. Desktops have to stay constantly connected to an energy source, while laptops use batteries. This is a great start!
  4. Shoot for eco-friendly batteries. Yes, they do make them; they are different than regular batteries because they are leaner and more efficient. They might cost a little more, but we believe this is worth it. This is because they last longer, and they run on lower energy. It’s good for your wallet and the environment. Give them a try!
  5. Use community WiFi as often as possible. If you can’t, then use an air card. This will save more energy than you think. If you have your own WiFi, you have to be connected to the router the whole time. This takes energy, and it harms the environment eventually. If you aim to use community WiFi as much as possible, it saves energy by a lot.

We hope this helps. A lot of people aren’t aware they take up so much energy just by using their laptop. However, if you use these tips and tricks, you might be able to save some energy. Let us know if you have any special tricks you use to help leave a smaller impact on the environment. Thanks for reading!

August 24, 2014

The Importance of Ecological Engineering in Today’s World

With the considerable improvement in science and technologies, human beings have evolved from depending entirely on the environment for survival to becoming the master of it. Unfortunately, the irrepressible increase in people’s consumption of natural resources and the rapid population growth put great pressure on the environment, leading to environment-related issues including:

  • pollution
  • climate change
  • resource depletion

As the impacts of those issues become clear, more efforts have been made to address them and save the Earth. Within this context, ecological engineering emerges as a field that combines ecology and engineering to design, develop and construct a human society that is also friendly to the environment. Ecological engineering encompasses a wide range of sub-fields such as restoration ecology, which seeks to renew and revive the damaged ecosystem, and sustainable engineering, which explores ways to simultaneously accommodate increasing human’s needs and protect the Earth’s natural support system, you can read about other types of engineers here. In today’s world, ecological engineering proves to be increasingly popular and important.

Place enormous emphasis on ecological principles

Unlike traditional engineering, ecological engineering goes to great lengths to incorporate ecological values into its practice. In fact, it is developed from the science of ecology, giving ecological engineers fundamental understanding of the way the ecosystem works and how to create and operate an eco-friendly system that also serves human objectives. For example, when planning a construction site, ecological engineers assess the impacts of human activities on the natural systems and take into consideration the complexity and interconnections among various environmental elements such as plants, animals, insects, landscape, air, water and other factors. This also contributes to the knowledge of the science and raises people’s awareness.

Restore and reconstruct the destroyed or structurally compromised ecosystem

As the result of many human economic activities, wars, and other destructive behaviours, many natural habitats and ecosystems are permanently damaged or even lost forever. Ecological engineers actively study the affected areas and initiate projects to interfere and prevent further damage and gradually restore the area back to their original condition. The restoration process is implemented at the same time as the construction process of the project to establish human presence at the site without causing any disturbances to the newly-recreated area. Consequently, these efforts help to preserve many species and natural systems, reinstate natural resources and lessen the severity of climate change.

Contribute to the economic development as well as environmental improvement

Green technologies and sustainability have generated huge demands from people and companies in recent years in the face of growing concerns about environmental quality and the government’s stricter regulatory mandates. Ecological engineering with its outstanding characteristic as a combination between ecology and engineering arises as an ideal approach to economic and technological solutions. Many companies invest millions of dollars in developing ecological engineering technologies and methodologies and make substantial profits. Moreover, not just the companies enjoy the benefits, the environment also sees remarkable enhancement thanks to these advances.

Overall, ecological engineering can be considered the future of ecology’s science and engineering practices. Although it is a relatively new field, the gains from it are very promising for both people and the environment. Ecological engineering can solve many current issues of alternative energy, biodiversity and sustainable development. Other types of engineering can also be adapted to better serve our environment, for more information about engineering, visit www.typesofengineers.org.

August 22, 2014

Vancouver Recycling Drive 2015

Next spring, Vancouver is starting a new trend in recycling. The Vancouver Recycling Drive 2015 is going to be the first, of hopefully many, ‘mass recycling’ events held by the city in and effort to help people live cleaner, and simpler, while also giving the participants a tax credit for certain items and weight limits.

The idea behind the event is sort of a ‘spring clean’ for the entire city. Get rid of everything you don’t need, while giving the province tonnes of material to use in manufacturing and development of upcoming sustainable projects.

One of the goals of the city is to collect enough reusable metal, like steel and aluminum, to frame a low income housing project on the downtown east side. 55 Water Street is a proposed 4 storey low rise which will be able to house up to 45 low income residents of the city. The design of the building is entirely sustainable, making use of solar power, and the city’s abundant rain supply for grey water needs. The city expects to collect enough donated metal to frame the development, while utilizing a paper mix concrete alternative which the university campus alone should be able to supply!

There are similar projects planned for neighbouring Burnaby and Coquitlam, which are also holding local recycling drives.

Tax credits will be given to those who are able to donate 50 or more pounds of steel or aluminum. Also, anybody donating 2 or more pieces of furniture will receive a carbon tax credit also.

All furniture which is in usable condition will be refurbished through the province’s correctional facilities, which have developed a new rewards program for inmates who participate. This will then be donated to underprivileged families in the area.

Larger items can be arranged for pick up and are eligible for a $100 tax rebate. This can be anything from backyard items like trampolines, barbecues, and swing sets to old freezers, fridges, washing machines, and other household appliances. On top of the credit, the province will waive the PST on the purchase of a replacement appliance within six months of the recycling drive. Not a bad incentive if you were already thinking of doing some upgrades in your home!

While the general purpose of the Vancouver Recycling Drive is to bring awareness to sustainability, the campaigns also focus on bringing attention to all of the advances in recycling facilities in the past decade. Many people are currently unaware of what items are recyclable or not. In the old days, it used to be pop cans and water bottles, however, recently almost anything can be recycled. Paper, almost all plastics, electronics, woods, just about anything non organic is able to be repurposed in the city’s recycling plants.

The other purpose is to bring awareness to living with what you need, and not buying in excess. While this might seem counter intuitive to a sustainable economy, the purpose is to encourage residents to spend their money experiencing the city and promoting the LOCAL economy through dining, social events, and ecological activities. There is plenty to do in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland and plenty of businesses which will thrive from local investment in their services.

The drive takes place over the May long weekend and each neighbourhood will receive instructions from local radio stations through advertisements running December – May, or by checking out the Vancouver Recycling Drive’s website which will be up and running by October.

August 19, 2014

Sustainable building design that could mark the beginning of the green era

Sustainable architecture is architecture that seeks to minimize the negative environmental impact of buildings by efficiency and moderation in the use of materials, energy, and development space. Sustainable architecture uses a conscious approach to energy and ecological conservation in the design of the built environment. The idea of sustainability, or ecological design, is to ensure that our actions and decisions today do not inhibit the opportunities of future generations. According to www.playadelcarmenrealestateagents.com, the Playa del Carmen area is at the forefront of sustainable design in Mexico.

Energy efficiency over the entire life cycle of a building is the single most important goal of sustainable architecture. Architects use many different techniques to reduce the energy needs of buildings and increase their ability to capture or generate their own energy. The most important and cost-effective element of an efficient heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system is a well-insulated building. A more efficient building requires less heat generating or dissipating power, but may require more ventilation capacity to expel polluted indoor air. Significant amounts of energy are flushed out of buildings in the water, air and compost streams. Off the shelf, on-site energy recycling technologies can effectively recapture energy from waste hot water and stale air and transfer that energy into incoming fresh cold water or fresh air. Recapture of energy for uses other than gardening from compost leaving buildings requires centralized anaerobic digesters. HVAC systems are powered by motors. Copper, versus other metal conductors, helps to improve the electrical energy efficiencies of motors, thereby enhancing the sustainability of electrical building components.

In relation to the growing and changing trends in these days buildings are getting more high-tech to respond to growing concern over Climate Change. Making sure that buildings are designed to be more efficient when it comes to water and energy needs is necessary. Environmental sustainability meets social sustainability in Mexico, Playa Del Carmen which is located the Riviera Maya, which runs from south of Cancun to Tulum and the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve. Through its rapid development over years, the building specifically the new luxury residential condominium buildings, restaurants, boutiques and entertainment venues were designed to promote the green era. You can see some great examples of these kind of development initiatives in real estate from Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya at www.buyplaya.net

The buildings utilize innovative technology as well as use the natural environment to help the building run better. In order to save on electricity used in the building, the architects designed the spaces inside the building to capitalize on natural sunlight. Rooms on the first floor feature floor-to-ceiling windows that let in sunlight in the daylight hours, reducing the need for artificial light. The sun, in turn, takes care of about 80 percent of the Common’s hot water need by heating it up without the use of electricity. The building also boasts a grey water system that collects water from showers and washing machines and uses it inside the toilets. According to the Playa del Carmen real estate experts at www.buyplaya.info, this in turn brings down the cost of water and associated living expenses, something that the architects considered extensively.

August 16, 2014

Environmental Friendly Ways to Create Food Labels

Recent trends on health have raised the need for eating organic products. These are products, which are farmed and produced without the use of chemicals, which includes pesticides, fertilizers herbicides, antibiotics hormones and ionizing radiation. This means the process used in production must be environmentally-friendly ways to create food labels. For a food label to be considered organic, it must meet the set standards by the government. This includes certification upon inspection in accordance to the set organic standards of the government. Inspection ranges from the farm where the food is grown to the factories where it is processed and the food label should always be clear and accurate.

Determining the Process

There are set standards in varying legislation to determine environmental friendly ways to create food labels. However, some of the standards are the same in all the legislation. These include among others ensuring that no chemical substances are used in farming or growth of the product. The same is considered in industrial production of the said products as well as packaging. The working conditions of those working on the farms and firms involved in production is also a great consideration. The workers require to be treated in accordance to the laid down standards as set out by their trade unions and basic human rights organizations. Animal products also require to have the animals treated in effective ways to ensure they are not fed or treated with hormones and other enhancements.

Gains in Using Environmental-Friendly Food Labels

Using environmental friendly ways to create food labels comes with a large number of advantages. The major advantage comes with overall health of the user. This owes to the fact that foods created with chemical are known to carry on the chemical components to the body of the user and hence posing a health risk. This has been attributed to a number of health issues prevalent today. Using eco friendly methods is also known to impact positively on the environment. Recent researches have indicated that there is great change to the environment which has been occasioned by the chemical used in foods and in its production. This has led to changes in the eco system, where lives of plants humans and animals have been greatly affected.

Common Labels

When you buy any food item, it is important to consider what will happen to the container that has packaged the food. This will determine if the product is packaged using environmental friendly ways to create food labels. The packages available come either in a reusable or disposable form. This means the package in which you buy your food item if it is reusable, you can effectively use it for other personalized packaging of other items. Disposable packages are ones which after removing the package you can get rid of it easily without posing any environmental risk

It may sound a difficult task when it comes to ensuring environmental friendly models. However, owing to the fact that health is of paramount importance, there is need to have in place models that will effect the same. Governments have created agencies which provide information and education on the best and environmental friendly foods and food packages and accessing this information can be a great way to understand and identify the best.

August 13, 2014

Is a Healthy Environment a Human Right? David Suzuki Says Yes

On September 24, 2014, David Suzuki will meet Canadians from all walks of life at the Holy Heart Theatre in St. John’s, Newfoundland to start the Blue Dot Tour. The blue dot being celebrated is the earth as it is seen by astronauts thousands of miles away. This will be Suzuki’s final Canadian tour, and he has an interesting mission: to spark a movement that may eventually give all Canadian’s the official right to breathe clean air, eat healthy food and drink clean water.

While many countries do have regulations regarding the right a healthy living environment in their constitutions, Canada has no such rights listed in the Constitution. Suzuki’s ultimate goal is to ensure a healthy Canadian living environment with rights stated in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

That is a big goal, but he also has a smaller goal: to work with as many Canadians as possible to help them protect and care for their local environments. His dream is that all people in his country will have clean air and water as well as healthy food for the rest of their lives and generations to come.

Where Do You Live?

You don’t have to live in Canada or attend the Blue Dot Tour to share David Suzuki’s vision. He is working within his country because he wants to get specific environmental rights into the Constitution, but his mission extends to the rest of the world as well. What an amazing world it would be if every human had access to clean water, fresh air and healthy food for their entire life.

There are some things you can do to take the sentiment of Suzuki’s tour to whatever you happen to reside in the world right now:

1. Research the constitution for your country. What environmental rights do citizens in your country have? Is there room for improvement? Do you think the government is living up to the rights that have been granted? Even if you never take action on this information, being informed is important.

2. Give your own family members, friends, colleagues and community members the right to healthy food and clean water. If you look around your community, you will find people who don’t always have access to healthy food or who live in deplorable homes without running water. There are people struggling with these issues in every country of the world today. What can you do to help some of the people in your own backyard?

3. Support organizations like the David Suzuki Foundation as they lead the charge for a healthier planet and healthy living environment. You can find similar organizations operating in most countries around the world.

Start at Home

David Suzuki is leading his Blue Dot Tour through Canada because he is starting in his home country. You can take action by starting at home as well. Literally, start with your home. Are you feeding yourself healthy foods, breathing clean air and drinking lots of water?

Start by looking at your diet. If you know your mid-afternoon vending machine visits aren’t healthy, replace them a couple times a week with fresh fruit or celery sticks and peanut butter. If you are using protein powder loaded with artificial sweeteners and chemicals, switch to a healthier option. These protein powders are now available and there are many made without sugar, GMO, preservatives and other additives.

If you drink more soda or alcohol than water, correct that immediately. You have access to clean water, and you should treat yourself well in appreciation of that luxury. Remember, not everyone has the resources that you enjoy in your corner of the world. Correcting that starts by correcting your own living environment. From there, you may want to look around to the neighbor’s who live on your street. Start at home, and watch how the goodwill spreads.

If you are in Canada and want to participate in Suzuki’s Blue Dot Tour, he will appear at The Orpheum in Vancouver on November 9. In addition to David Suzuki, participants will include Neil Young, Feist, Raine Maida, Shane Koyzcan and Robert Bateman. Other writers, politicians and celebrities will appear at other stops along the tour.

August 13, 2014

Tips for Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

Many people are becoming concerned about our impact on this planet and looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint. It is not as difficult as many people seem to think, though it does require a bit of a lifestyle change. To reduce your carbon footprint, you need to become more conscientious of your actions and how they affect the planet, and then take steps to change them. It might seem difficult at first, especially if you’ve gotten accustomed to living a certain way, but once you implement the changes, you’ll barely notice the differences.

One of the most important lifestyle changes you can make involves transit. If you live in a city that has a good public transit system, then you should make use of that. Not only will it cut down on emissions, but a public transit pass will likely be less expensive than the gas your car would require for daily trips. This doesn’t mean you don’t have to have a car at all, for some people it is a necessity, but you should try to cut down on how often you use your vehicle. If possible you should use public transit for short, local trips and save your car for longer, out-of-town trips or for trips when it is absolutely necessary.  You may find this inconvenient at first, but it is one of the best ways you can lessen your impact on the environment.

Changing your mode of transportation is a big part of reducing your carbon footprint, but there are other big changes that can be made and most of them need to be made in your home and your day-to-day life. There are many little lifestyle changes you can make that will have a positive impact on the environment. Many of these changes are things that you didn’t even realize you were doing and changing them will have little to no impact on your life, but a big impact on your carbon footprint.

You can start by making a few simple changes to your home. One of the first things you can do, is change your light bulbs. Fluorescent light bulbs require less energy to run and will be better for the environment and for your electricity bill. For the same reason, you also want to make sure that your appliances are energy efficient. It might not be practical to replace all your household appliances, but if you are in a position where you were considering replacing them anyway, then do so with ones that are energy efficient. You also want to make sure your home is weatherproofed and well insulated, this eliminates drafts and reduces the amount of energy it requires to heat your home, which will in turn reduce your heating bill.

As you can see, living a more eco-friendly life can actually save you money. Taking public transportation can cut down on your gas costs, choosing energy efficient appliances and light bulbs can reduce your electricity bill, and weatherproofing your house can reduce your heating bill. These are actions that have a positive impact on the environment and on your finances. Making an effort to watch the way we live and try to reduce our waste, helps us cut down on needless spending, something that all of us can benefit from.

Cutting down on waste and unnecessary purposes is key to reducing your carbon footprint. One way to do that is to stop buying thing that you don’t need and to repurpose things that you already have. For example, many people have many small household appliances, which take of space and use energy. Instead of buying several appliances, each with a different purpose, why not buy one with many different functions? A lot of people buy a blender, a hand mixer, an immersion blender and a food processor, without realizing that there are several different heavy duty blenders on the market that can be used for multiple functions, so that you no longer need to have several different appliances.

That is one of the most important aspects of living an eco-friendly life, to see how you can reduce and reuse. This goes for your transportation costs, your household items, and many other things. A lot of parents are turning to cloth diapers and cloth wipes for this reason, because disposable diapers are filling up the landfill and creating more waste. It’s the same reason, why grocery stores are encouraging reusable bags instead of giving our plastic bags to all their customers as they used to. The little things add up and make a difference and if we make changes in the way we live our life, it will have a positive impact on the environment.

 

August 13, 2014

Environmentally Friendly E-Readers

Reading has always been one o f my main hobbies. I tend to read at least a book a week, sometimes more.

Every now and again I have a bit of a clear out, all those books take up a lot of space. It’s always a surprise, though I don’t know why it should be, when I collect all of the books together and pass them on to friends or the charity shop. Maybe it’s seeing them all assembled together and realizing just how many books I’ve gone through since the last clear out.

Of course, passing them on means that someone else will get some benefit from my old books. However, I travel a lot and I’ve lost count of the number of finished books that I’ve left on hotel night stands and stuffed into the back of aeroplane seats. Anything to make the hand luggage a little lighter.

Making the switch to an e-reader and e-books seemed like a smart move, so that’s just what I did. I got myself an entry level Kindle and it has proven to be one of the best gadgets I’ve ever bought. It lets me carry hundreds, thousands if I want, of books with me in a small lightweight gadget. My hand luggage is definitely less weighty these days.

It also means that I am responsible for the death of fewer trees. Obviously e-readers use resources in their production – and they also need electrical power to run – but they are still better, environmentally speaking, than old fashioned dead tree books.

Of course, it does depend on just how many books you read. Estimates of the “break point” vary. Some studies suggest that if you read fifteen books on your reader then you’re better off. Others suggest a higher number – around about forty five. However, at a book a week, I have read well over two hundred on my little Kindle so far, so I am definitely being more environmentally friendly.

As far as use of electricity to charge the reader goes, the above figures do take that into account. The e-ink screens used on e-readers are really quite miserly when it comes to power usage. They only draw current when the page is being refreshed, which is why they only need charged up once every few weeks or so.

It would be a different equation if I was using a power hungry tablet computer of course. They need a lot more juice to keep the color touch screen running – but since even the best tablet computer isn’t as good for reading on as an e-reader, it’s not a problem for me. My little entry level Kindle doesn’t even have a light – plugging it in to charge it is a rare event, even for someone like me who reads a lot.

All things considered, I am delighted with my e-reader. It’s a great gadget for me and helps to keep my luggage weight and volume down. I’m also happy that it is, for me at least, a much more environmentally friendly option than buying “real” books printed on paper.