If you think your electricity bill is too high, you’re probably right - but it’s not just because energy is expensive. The average monthly bill for electricity is over $110, and almost $40 of that is from energy that your home is wasting. This is a problem - but for a homeowner who’s serious about sustainable living, it’s not insurmountable.
The Cost of Convenience
There’s no denying that the modern world is convenient. We can travel farther, communicate faster, and achieve more than at any other point in history. All of this is possible through our society’s mastery of electricity.
It’s electricity that powers the factories where cars are made. It’s electricity that powers the internet, lets us pay with credit and debit cards, and literally lights up our lives. According to the Energy Information Administration, the last few decades have seen explosive growth in the amount of energy consumed across the country. The truth of the matter is that there aren’t many new things that don’t involve a lot of energy being spent at some point in the process, and we’re quite literally paying the price for it.
Now, in a perfect world, we’d never waste the slightest bit of energy we produced. Unfortunately, reality is a little less than ideal, giving rise to the following considerations.
• First, perfect use of energy is an unobtainable goal. We literally do not have the capability to use 100% of our energy without any kind of waste. When we say that a product is “energy efficient”, what we really mean is “it’s one of the least-wasteful choices we have”.
• Second, the only practical way to have zero waste is to use zero energy. In other words, to truly eliminate waste, we’d have to give up almost everything our society has created. It doesn’t take an expert to realize this has exactly no chance of happening.
This doesn’t mean all is lost, though. While we can’t expect to be perfect, we can make a serious commitment to reducing energy waste when and where it’s practical to do so. There are many ways to save energy in your home, and when every household takes a few small steps to reduce waste, the total result is incredible. For now, though, let’s take a look at this infographic and see which parts of your home are using the most energy.
Uma Campbell is a green loving yoga instructor and freelance writer. She currently lives in Southern California where she enjoys writing about natural living, health, and home design. Follow her on Twitter at @Umajcampbell
, or visit her website: umajcampbell.wordpress.com
Valentine’s Day is near and millions of cards and other waste from the day will pile up in our landfills; artificial colors and flavors will fill our bodies; and people will spend lots of money on items that will likely be tossed aside. There are healthier, less expensive ways to show your love that will show love to the Earth, as well. If your significant other is health-conscious, vegan or if they just hate candy, we have a few ideas for you. If you plan on having a relaxing day all to yourself, these are for you too!
These delicious, French-inspired cookies are made from simple ingredients and natural colors. A Paris-trained pastry chef has carefully crafted each flavor and the company is working on an all vegan line that should be making its debut any time now. To me, these were simple, light and crispy, and much better than versions with artificial coloring, which usually have a bitter aftertaste. For $32.00, you get a beautifully wrapped box of 12.
Nicobella Organic Chocolate
I have fallen in love with Nicobella, whose products aren’t just crafted to taste great, they’re made to nourish the body. Nicobella chocolate is vegan, fair trade, dairy-free, gluten-free and soy-free, what more could you ask for?! They also use sustainable packaging, made from rice paper and wild grass. Their truffles are made with pure dark chocolate, coconut oil, agave nectar and a variation of healthy ingredients. Blueberry Almond is my favorite flavor, but a 6-piece assortment box can be purchased for $12.95.
If you or your Valentine don’t like truffles, try Nicobella Munch, which is a combination of nuts and chocolate. Since I’m diabetic, this is perfect for me. It’s a stable, unique treat that can also serve as a healthy, antioxidant-rich snack too.
My mind diverts directly to sweets when I think of Valentine’s Day, but spreading the love by supporting artisans around the globe sounds like a great way to celebrate. Novica’s mission is to help eliminate sweat shops, child labor and unfair treatment. Find unique items from all over the world, and when you buy from Novica, know that you’re supporting an individual who makes quality products.
The Caramel Paths Shoulder Bag ($112.99) is made by Ricardo Hinojosa in Mexico, with high-quality leather (I apologize to vegans, but there are many vegan bags available from Novica). I’ve never purchased a bag that has felt this luxurious. Even the inner lining feels strong and smooth. The Choco Chic Shoulder Bag ($154.99) is made by Piedad Aguilar in Nicaragua with deep, spacious pockets and beautiful outer golden buckle detail. However, my favorite has to be The Road to Success Messenger’s bag ($139.49), made in Bali by Hariyono. It’s a compact, secure-fitting bag that I see myself taking on many trips. It has a lovely reminder quote, placed on the side, encouraging its owner to keep pushing for success.
Not only known for their bags, Novica carries eco-friendly jewelry made from items such as discarded water bottles. The Eco Friendly Hand Crafted West African Dangle Earrings ($19.99) are a beautiful example of how we can turn earth spoiling waste into sustainable beauty. If you buy a gift from Novica this Valentine’s Day, your treasure is sure to have a story.
My husband is a kid at heart, he loves Trolli Gummy Worms, but I can’t bring myself to buy them. I went on a search for something better and found Surf Sweets, a mostly organic candy line that is all natural. They offer adorable heart lollipops, Organic Fruity Hearts, Sour Berry Bears, Gummy Worms ($1.95-$4.95)…and they taste amazing. Surf also carries a vegan line, called TruJoy, whose Starburst-like fruit chews are awesome. Since Surf Sweets are made with juice, I don’t get that sick feeling after eating them. So top your cupcakes, eat them during a romantic movie, or use them as an edible center piece.
EarthEasy Onsight Travel Products
EarthEasy is a family owned company with “Solutions for Sustainable Living”. They offer a wide range of home, garden and gift items that would be great for Valentine’s Day. I zeroed in on the travel line because I can’t think of many things more romantic than surprising someone with a Valentine’s getaway. The Earth Easy Diamond bag ($91.95) is a great way to let them know to get packing for an exciting retreat. The bag is very durable and comfortable to carry. The best part is, each bag is made from recycled, nontoxic materials for minimal environmental impact. Sustainable living is about respecting the limits of the earth and its capacity to provide. —EarthEasy
Adopt a Pet
If you’re lonely this year or want to expand your family, adopt a furry family member. Animals are overflowing in most pet shelters and humane societies, and many will never have a forever home. Adopting an animal from your local shelter is a great way to experience love at first sight on Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day is a day of love and an opportunity to spread love, not only to our significant other but to an animal, our bodies and Mother Earth. Whether you spend the holiday alone, with a family member or with your sweetheart, there’s always a great way to celebrate. I wish you a day of love, happiness and pure living!
Karyn Wofford is a type 1 diabetic, EMT and Certified Wellness Specialist. For years she has educated herself on wellness and natural, wholesome living. Karyn’s goal is to help people be the healthiest they can be while living fun, happy lives.
Photo by shutterstock.
The Internet is probably the last place you think about having a large carbon footprint. But the numbers are staggering. It's estimated that the Internet produces about 300 million tons of carbon dioxide each year, reports The Guardian. That's the equivalent of how much CO2 the world's volcanoes produce annually. It's also more than half the amount of fossil fuels that are used in the U.K. The bottom line: The Internet contributes to more environmental waste than you think.
With that being said, it's hard to estimate the environmental impact of the Internet. Think about it. It's virtually impossible to measure the energy it takes to power all of the computers in the world. And what's even more difficult is knowing whether those users were online or offline when their computers were up and running.
Data Centers: Measuring E-Waste
A fantastic starting point for measuring e-waste are the numerous data centers around the world. Data centers contain rows and rows of servers that store website data. All of these servers use electricity. And the more servers, the more the cooling devices needed to prevent overheating.
There are tens of thousands of these centers all over the world, according to estimates from the New York Times. The newspaper found that those "data centers use 90 percent of the energy they pull off the grid." And each data center has numerous diesel-emitting backup generators in case the power goes off. In some parts of Silicon Valley, the air is so polluted that it appears on the state's Toxic Air Contaminant Inventory. A single data center can use 30 billion watts of electricity, which is almost equal to what 30 nuclear power plants emit.
These data centers are constantly running because we all want to be able to access the Internet at the same time, all the time, without interruptions. They continue to run at full capacity regardless of how many people are online at a given time. Data centers must constantly be prepared for unexpected surges in traffic. If they’re unable to handle a sudden influx of users, the staff can be fired.
A Solution to Digital Waste
If you're concerned about your computer use being environmentally friendly, you don't have to give up the Internet altogether. Cloud computing has tremendous eco-benefits. In case you're not familiar, cloud computing involves storing files online as opposed to storing them on a server. The Carbon Disclosure Project found that a company using cloud storage can reduce energy consumption and decrease carbon emissions. The group estimates that companies who start using the cloud can save $12.3 billion and reduce carbon emissions equal to about 200 million barrels of oil.
Certain programs, such as some of Apple's, give you the option of storing your data on the cloud. If you're searching for a place to store information, companies like Mozy can help. The company offers individuals and businesses different products to meet their needs. You can also purchase cloud storage from a variety of providers.
Teresa K. Traverse is Phoenix, Arizona-based freelance writer, editor and traveler. Check her out online and follow her tweets @teresaktraverse.
In January, we move away from the bright lights and the over-indulgence of holiday festivities. We gather our thoughts and reflect on the past year. What did we accomplish? Where do we go from here? What do we want to do this year? Now is the time to organize thoughts, dreams, and wishes for the year ahead. Make your New Year Intentions clear and doable. Set yourself up for success by creating the space and time you’ll need, and supply yourself with the right tools for each intention.
One of my intentions for 2016 is to find unique products that combine beauty, utility & sustainability and share them with my world family. My other three intentions are listed below along with the tools I’ve found to support my success.
Intention #1: Create Sacred Space
When I lived in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, I had a gorgeous Ayurveda & Yoga studio 3 miles from the beach. It was clutter-free, organized and beautiful at my studio all the time. Because of that, I stuck to my daily yoga and meditation practice with ease. Then I moved west and began traveling so much that I fell out of the habit of daily in–home practice. Instead, I turned to the gym—cycling and the occasional yoga/Pilates class.
In October, when I solidified my decision to drop root in Southern Oregon, I created a practice space but was also using it as an office. Papers, bills and half written articles piled up quickly, distracting me from my yoga-mediation practice and made me think of work. This year, my main lifestyle intention is create a sacred space (not just practice space) in which I will want to practice yoga and meditation daily.
To do so, I’ve taken everything out of my office/yoga room except my mats, alter, cushions, and clock. I also supplied myself with a gorgeous Sacred Geometry natural cork yoga mat ($149) and natural cork yoga wheel ($119) from Yoloha. I love the way my hands and feet feel on this creamy handmade eco-friendly mat and how the wheel cradles my back when I rest in heart-opening back bends. I feel good about having them in my sacred space as they are truly made with and emanate love. The cork used to make Yoloha mats and props is natural, renewable, recyclable and obtained sustainably through hand-stripping the cork tree bark only once every nine years. None of the cork is wasted in the process, and the trees live up to 300 years. These beautiful new tools are my 2016 yoga practice essentials and make me want to practice longer and stay present. Thanks Yoloha!
Intention #2: Write Morning Pages & Journal Daily
For most of my life I have enjoyed journaling. I like looking back over the years and remembering what I was thinking and writing about in detail in 2002, 2010 and so on. It’s a good gauge of growth and my very own historical document. This year in addition to journaling, my second lifestyle intention is to write three pages every morning immediately upon waking, as Julia Cameron (author of The Artist’s Way) recommends for blocked artists.
The tool I found to support this intention is a handmade vegan journal by Tremundo, a small, artist-owned company in South Carolina. These unique mixed media, original art, handcrafted journals are true inspiration for morning pages and for general creating. The Base of Change Journal ($30) is shown here.
Intention #3: Communicate Clearly with Love & Respect
My communication goals vary daily, however the theme remains the same: be clear, loving and respectful.
The Clear Communications Mala by Erica Fullen Designs ($168) is exactly the tool I need to remind me to stick to this one, my third lifestyle intention, all year long. Artist, healer and mother, Erica Fullen uses color and the power of setting intentions to create her full line of chakra inspired jewelry to “enhance and balance within.” When I put this mala on, I state my communication goals for the day. One day it might be to call a family member and give them my full attention; the next day it might be to draft an article and send a pitch to an editor. The physical act of placing the mala around my neck and over my heart reminds me of these goals until they are complete. The Power of Today is enhanced with this beautiful tool. Thank you Erica Fullen! I can feel the love.
Have you taken time to set your New Year Intentions? Care to share? Leave a comment or email me, I’d love to hear yours. Love to my world family and Happy New Year. Make it your best ever, I’m cheering you on!
Shar Veda, Southern Oregon’s Premier Alternative Therapist, offers deep healing through loving touch and compassionate counsel. She is an Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor & Health Educator, yoga therapist and herbalist. Shar has been blessed to study with leading teachers in Ayurveda, Yoga, and herbalism for 20 years. However, it was her adopted grandma, Doe (English-American and Blackfoot Native), who instilled within her profound appreciation for the supreme power of loving touch, healing arts, and world family. Visit her website for a video, full bio, and photos or find her on Facebook!
If you're a vegetarian, you may think your healthy, meat-free lifestyle means you're creating a healthy environment. But a new study from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) suggests that this notion may be a myth.
The study on energy use, greenhouse emission and food consumption, published in the November issue of “Environmental Systems and Decisions,” produced evidence that following the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) dietary recommendations — which encourage Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables, with less red meat — actually harms rather than helps the environment.
Photo by Agnieszka.
That's because foods like fruits, vegetables, dairy products and seafood require high resource use and greenhouse gas (GHG) per calorie — even more so than meat. This finding directly contrasts with the ideas promoted by many "green" organizations like Down to Earth Organic and Natural, which urges Americans to consider adopting a vegetarian diet to save the earth.
Even Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former bodybuilder, action movie star and California governor, said in a recent United Nations conference that Americans can protect the environment from greenhouse gases by reducing their consumption of red meat.
But the CMU study — titled "Energy Use, Blue Water Footprint and Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Current Food Consumption Patterns and Dietary Recommendations in the U.S." — claims that the resources involved with growing, processing and transporting "greener" foods increase energy use, water use and GHG emissions — taking a significant toll on our planet.Therefore, says CMU Social/Decision Sciences professor Paul Fischbeck, "Eating lettuce is over three times worse in GHG emissions than eating bacon."
How to Eat Well and Care for the Environment
As a person who wants to eat well and be an environmentally conscious citizen, what are you supposed to do? Here are three ways you can continue your organic lifestyle and celebrate Earth Day without feeling guilty that you're doing more harm than good.
1. Consider Growing Your Own Food
Growing your own food helps the environment in many ways — you’ll prevent air and water pollution, reduce the use of fossil fuels and spare the planet from the resources involved in transporting fruits and vegetables to your local supermarket.
The benefits are more than just environmental: Building your own garden can help you get exercise, build your sense of pride and make sure your food is always fresh and tasty.
2. Eat This, Not That
The good news is that, when it comes to GHG output, not all fruits and vegetables are created equal. Lettuce takes a toll on the environment because it requires major resources — like water and energy — to grow, harvest and transport.
Onions, okra and broccoli, for example, have less of an environmental footprint. If you’re a strict vegetarian, consider beans, too. Beans are low in fat, high in necessary protein and folic acid — among other nutrients — and don’t require a lot of resources to produce.
3. Use Your Own Kitchen
You've heard all the negative impacts of processed foods, and it's true — they also can hurt the environment. Processed foods require greater energy to produce than whole foods, so they are associated with a high GHG output. You can avoid processed foods simply by learning how to cook your own meals — after all, you have that stove for a reason!
You don't have to do it the Paula Deen way. You can make comfort food that's still healthy if you substitute healthful ingredients while cooking up your favorite recipes. For example, try using low-fat milk instead of heavy cream. Serve up a faux-meat dish by substituting tofu for beef. Or swap out the white pasta in favor of whole wheat noodles, which are packed with more nutrients and fewer empty carbs.
Health-conscious treats can taste just as good as the traditional recipe, and your body will probably thank you for it. The environment will too, because you're also doing your part to reduce your carbon footprint.
Don't Freak Out!
Even with these helpful tips, you may be tempted to throw away that head of lettuce for fear that you're destroying the planet. Don't panic!
You're not a hypocrite for choosing a vegetarian diet. While the CMU study suggests that your lifestyle may not be as environmentally helpful as you thought, remember that it's only one study — and like most single studies, it has its own set of limitations.
As the study acknowledges, a majority of Americans eat far too many calories for their body weight , and the growing obesity epidemic takes an even bigger toll on the environment than your fruits and vegetables do.
If you're a vegetarian or just a health-conscious consumer, don't worry too much: You're probably doing less harm to the planet than your neighbor who just ordered a large Papa John's pizza with extra meat and cheese.
Kayla Matthews is a health and wellness blogger who loves jogging, yoga and hiking. Follow Kayla on Google+ and Twitter to read all of her latest posts.
Thinking about giving your air compressor a clean? Since an air compressor is required in almost every air tool that one can think about, it is an important machine and regular cleaning is a good way to ensure that it continues to operate well. Don’t ignore the health of your air compressor if you want tools to function in an uninterrupted manner. Here are seven steps that will help you keep your air compressors completely clean.
Photo by Fotolia.
• Check the Manual: This has to be the first step in your air compressor cleaning schedule. The user manual helps you know the workings of the specific air compressor you’re using. There will be some facts and tips stated in it that have been put there so that you take special care to follow them. Following the manual also helps keep the warranty from becoming void.
• Keep the Tanks Moisture-Free: Moisture accumulates in the air tank when the air is being compressed. If you live in a humid environment, the chances of moisture accumulating in the tank increase. Therefore, it may be necessary to drain the tanks of air compressor regularly.
• Nuts and Bolts: Because your air compressor is probably used on a regular basis, it’s wise to check all the fasteners, like nuts, bolts and the screws, before each use. Tighten them up whenever you notice they’ve become loose.
• Check the Hose: The hose is like the vein of the air compressor. Any leakage or breakage that the hose suffers can cause a great amount of pressure on the air compressor. Therefore, as soon as you observe some kind of damage to the hose, get it repaired as soon as possible.
• Compressor Oil: You need to clear the oil in the compressor and replace it with fresh compressor oil from time to time. This applies only to oil-based compressors, not any other varieties.
• Cleaning the Fuel Tank: As important as it is to clean the fuel inside the Quincy Rotary Screw Air Compressor, it’s also essential to regularly clean the fuel tank in the air compressor. This ensures that the air compressor is free of any residual buildup.
• Changing the Separator Elements: It is recommended that you change the separator elements in the air compressor with every 1000 hours of use.
These are some of the things that you need to take note of in order to keep your air compressor absolutely clean and free of damage. There are other small things that will be in listed your user manual, as well. Once you understand the different parts of an air compressor and their functions, you will be able to efficiently clean the compressor.
Meggie Haneckow is a niche writer and blogger who loves to write on trending topics and share her personal experiences and knowledge through her writing. She is also a health enthusiast, so she loves to share health-care related tips through her blogs.
This time of year is hectic. Not only can it be a struggle to find time to do fun things, it can be difficult to find healthy things to do. We’re surrounded by cookies, candy and sugary beverages, all promising to fill our hearts with cheer. But during the holiday season, I like to focus on the array of things to do that won’t put me in need of an intense detox at the beginning of the year.
Photo by Fotolia.
Turn On the Music
After Thanksgiving dinner, the radio is flipped on to a station playing continuous Christmas music, and it stays there throughout the season.
Music is a powerful thing. Even if you are cleaning or working, music will keep your spirit bright. It makes your home so festive. A little Jingle Bell Rock brings back exciting Christmas memories for me. Grab an Andy Williams CD or crank up some “Delilah”.
With all of the health aware recipe blogs and websites out there, it’s easy to find recipes for tasty treats made with real, healthy ingredients. Gluten-intolerant, diabetic or vegetarian? No problem! Diabetic Foodie and Eating Well have loads of delicious alternatives.
I enjoy making spiced nuts with organic sugar, spices, egg whites and vanilla. Chestnuts are also really fun to roast, but poke holes in them before roasting or they will explode! Cheese straws are easy to make with organic wheat flour and cheese. And if you are just craving a little sugar, make some dark chocolate oatmeal cookies with organic flour, oats, butter, sugar and chocolate chips. It will start to taste a lot like Christmas, and smell like it too, with goodies in the oven.
Light a Candle
Candles add a calming ambiance to any home. When I light candles, I feel instant stress relief and it makes the room feel warm and welcoming. A pine scent will make guests think you just brought in a fresh cut tree! Make sure your candles are free of artificial fragrance, paraffin and lead because those ingredients will turn your moment of relaxation into a health hazard.
If you don’t like the idea of an open flame, fill a pot with orange peels, rosemary, spices and a little water to simmer on the stove. Not only will it fill the air will natural scents, but it’s very cost effective.
Build a Fire
Nothing says cozy like a roaring fire. I haven’t always had a fireplace, so I would use the Yule Log DVD. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a disk that displays a lifelike fireplace on your TV, along with realistic crackling noises. As a bonus, you can opt to have Christmas carols play. It may not be warm, but it is certainly festive!
Take a Christmas Light Tour
When I was young, my parents would load us in the car and we would head out to see the festive decorations around our hometown. Add this tradition to your family’s holiday festivities, or look for holiday light tours that are run by local parks or the city.
Host a Party
You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a big bash. A few friends, some delicious food and fun games are all you need. This year, my brother is hosting an ugly sweater party, and there will no more than 10 people attending. Everyone is bringing a snack so he won’t have to spend a fortune on food.
The party will require a small investment from everyone, but nothing puts people in the holiday spirit like a party with all the people you love being around!
Go Window Shopping
My husband and I love to head to downtown to get the “bustling” feeling of December. One shopping location in particular has beautiful lights, stores reminiscent of the old days, a candy shop that emits delicious smells and Christmas music flowing down the streets. This Atlanta location also has ice skating and falling “snow” in the courtyard at 7pm.
Opt for a Real Tree
We head to a farm that is environmentally responsible, growing and replacing their trees. A lot of tree farms are decorated and serve warm cider for this fun, family tradition. Whether you get a big tree or a tabletop, it’s a great experience for adults and children.
You don’t have to cram cookies down your throat or take out a loan to enjoy the holidays. The simplest things are often the most special. Just relax, be healthy and have a very happy holiday season!
Karyn Wofford is a type 1 diabetic, EMT and Certified Wellness Specialist. For years she has educated herself on wellness and natural, wholesome living. Karyn’s goal is to help people be the healthiest they can be while living fun, happy lives.