Natural Environment Blog

Blogging for the Natural Environment

Tag: Sustainability (Page 1 of 9)

Urban and Suburban Farming Improves Food Safety and Security

Questions about where our food comes from—as well as where it will come from—continues to be a rising trend. Shifting food production closer to where people actually live (and eat!) would help answer the questions about food safety and security.

Food Safety

At present, much of our food is grown on large ‘mega-farms’ that are often owned & operated by large corporations. This is true in the Organic food industry as well: despite the 2012 spinach salmonella scare being traced back to just a few farms, the recalls attached to these farms involved dozens of brands—including Earthbound Farms and O Organics, two organic labels (O Organics is a Safeway private label).

Switching to urban & suburban farming would require establishing numerous, smaller farms—including backyard & rooftop gardening. By diversifying the sources of our food, it not only arrives fresher (allowing less time for bacteria to multiply), it shrinks the impact any one farm’s safety scare can have.

Food Security

While food scarcity is more of a political problem (see “Diet for a Small Planet,” by Frances Moore Lappé), there are some legitimate reasons to be concerned about where our food will come from in the future:

  • The political, social, and economic issues Lappé discussed in her book have not gone away despite being brought to light more than 40 years ago.
  • Existing farmland continues to vanish via suburban sprawl and economic pressure from the mega-farms I discussed earlier.
  • Numerous factors are affecting food production at existing farms around the world: global warming, colony collapse disorder, diseases, wars, pollution, and more.
  • As a result of disappearing farmland, we get more & more of our nutrition from fewer types of food. Fewer farms eliminates many regionally adapted varieties, and increased shipping distances means stores only stock fruits & vegetables that ship well.

Having smaller, more numerous ‘micro-farms’ encourages diversity in the food supply—growers would compete on local grocery shelves based on taste & nutritional qualities rather than ship-ability. More growers means more genetic diversity in specific crops, encouraging the development of varieties that are resistant to disease without resorting to genetic modification.

Further, being able to affordably source all of our food locally limits our vulnerability to production problems elsewhere without eliminating the import option when crises happen.

Environmental Sustainability

Growing & eating food locally reduces shipping fuel consumed—helping open the door for renewable alternatives. However, the environmental benefits reach far beyond that:

  • Locally grown food is fresher and usually cheaper. This could help people make healthier food choices, reducing the amount needed to be grown and consumption of environmentally damaging animal foods.
  • When our food is grown in our neighborhood, it reestablishes personal connection to the local environment. We could expect to see stricter, better-enforced rules regarding pollution in urban and suburban areas.
  • Growing more plants—including fruits & vegetables—in urban areas would improve air quality.
  • Studies have shown that rooftop gardening as well as replacing paved areas with gardens helps reduce the “heat island effect.”

There are more reasons than food safety, security, and environmental concerns to grow & eat food locally; regardless, these reasons alone create a compelling argument to do so. Hopefully more local and state governments will enact fiscal policies that encourage such a trend.

This is a guest post by Liz Nelson from WhiteFence.com. She is a freelance writer and blogger from Houston. Questions and comments can be sent to: liznelson17 @ gmail.com.

The 10 Easiest Ways to Green your Home

A green home is a happy home. Not only do you feel better about yourself for trying to do what you can in order to preserve our planet, but it is a great way to help reduce your carbon footprint.

There are a lot of extremely easy ways that you can help to make your home greener friendly. It does not always cost a lot of money, and a lot of times it takes little to no effort.

Below is a list of the top 10 ways that you can easily make your home green friendly.

  1. Recycle– This is extremely easy, and most cities even provide you with a bin to do it. All you have to do is throw your cans, bottles, papers, and cardboard into a separate bin. Most cities will pick the bin up from the curb, and they do not even require you to clean out the recyclable materials.
  2. Green your Appliances– You may think this is an expensive investment, but few appliances last forever. When it comes time to replace them look to the energy efficient version. You can purchase water saving energy efficient washing machine for close to the same price of a standard one. More often than not your utility supplier will even give you a rebate for investing in these appliances.
  3. Limit Your Utilities– You may think that the house feels perfect at a cool 72 degrees, but you could really live with it at 78. Make these small adjustments. Not only is it better on the environment, but it also is easier on your wallet.
  4. Conserve Water– It is important to be conscientious of your water use. You may enjoy hand-washing your dishes, but if you leave the water running at full blast and have an energy efficient dishwasher chances are it is better to wait until your dishwasher is full and run a single load. Limit how often you water your lawn, and keep up with your plumbing. Small leaks in plumbing can waste a great deal of water every day.
  5. Clean Friendly– There are quite a few products that were created in order to be a little more friendly to the environment while still being able to clean your home. Invest in these green friendly products.
  6. Conserve Paper– Most places will take digital copies of pieces that you formally had to print. These include tickets, passes, coupons, or even directions. When there is a digital option take it. Save the paper and save some trees. This includes using towels and cloth in place of paper versions too.
  7. Rinse & Reuse– Instead of investing in a huge case of water every week invest in a water filtration system and carry reusable bottles. There is quite a large variety of travel mugs, glasses, and cups that you can pick from that will help reduce the amount of plastic that is used on a daily basis.
  8. Light the Way– Change your lighting in order to be more energy efficient. This could mean reducing the amount of lights that are on in your home, installing energy efficient lighting, or simply using natural lighting whenever possible.
  9. Use Your Green Thumb– Not only does growing your own fruits and vegetables save on the amount of pesticides that are used in order to produce a larger group in the grocery store, but you can fertilize your own garden with leftover waste from your home. Compost is created through placing your leftover scraps such as eggshells, banana peels, coffee grounds, tea bags, etc into a compost bin. You can create fertilizer through your own kitchen waste and grow a delicious garden that can keep you in fruits and veggies through the harvest season.
  10. Shop Bamboo– Bamboo is considered to be the greenest of the woods. When you are considering installing hardwood floors or purchasing furniture opt for the bamboo option.

Author Bio: By this article Jason Phillips has described various steps to go green. He also prefers using a recycling bin at his home. Jason is guest author at many sites.

2013 is the Year for a Much Greener Home

Another year has begun and the personal New Year resolutions are already almost forgotten. If this sounds like you, why don’t you set your aims a bit lower and start taking a greener step towards home improvement.

As with any new initiative, there is always the risk and issue of how much money will be involved versus the actual outcome. People are open to make a difference, but sometimes the costs involved are not affordable. There are many schemes to help fix this problem, such as ‘green loans’ or the Green Deal Initiative in the UK.

But don’t worry if you find it too difficult to find that extra cash from your budget. Here are five simple tips on making a positive impact on the environment without spending ridiculous amounts of money:

Curtains

Installing curtains instead of blind will keep your house warm, before you consider turning up the heating system. High quality curtains can trap the heat in your home rather than letting it escape through your windows. So if you are on a low budget, this slight change can make you save money in the long term, when winter hits again.

Turn your lights off

An interesting fact: about one in every four homes in the US has electronic products running on standby. This includes leaving unnecessary lights on during the day, keeping computers on overnight or leaving the heating on while the windows are open.

People need to change those habits as many homeowners believe that they themselves as an individual wouldn’t make the difference. That’s WRONG –saving energy on something as easy as flicking a switch is better for the environment.

Green electricity

As we all know, studies have shown that there is a significant relationship between the output of carbon dioxide (CO2) and global warming. However, over half of our electricity output is supplied through the burning of coal, which produces CO2 as a waste product. Nevertheless, you can register to a ‘green’ electricity supplier, who uses electricity sources that do not have a negative effect on the environment.

U-Value Doors

Fun Fact: Over 10% of heat losses in your homes are accounted through windows and doors. Eventually this starts adding up in your energy bills. In order to avoid those unnecessary losses, you can buy composite doors, which will keep your home sufficiently heated. These doors have a U-value of 1.8, which is now a legal requirement. U-value is a simple measure of heat loss in your door.

Insulation

People always underestimate the savings that results from home insulation. Studies have shown that one fourth of your heat is lost through the roof. Insulating your roof is therefore vital and in turn it helps keeping the heat in your room and reducing your bills.

This article was contributed by Sachi Jayatilleke.

A Greener, Cheaper Way to Deal with Garbage

Environmental issues and lack of places to dispose garbage are primary reasons to figure out a greener cleaner and cheaper way to deal with trash. We don’t want to let our future go to the trash can. Do we?

There are many ways to deal with the garbage in a environment friendly manner. One of the best possible ways is composting the trash. It saves money and is eco friendly.

Everyone living in towns or cities is making an effort to recycle their garbage to protect the environment. In order to deal with garbage in a green way you first need to categorize how to dispose in the right manner.

Here are a few ways to get rid of the garbage in heaps.

1. Decrease and eliminate

Make lesser trips to the supermarket. Buy products in more quantity, for example buy a bigger pack than three small packs. This way the amount of garbage to be disposed off reduces. Avoid over buying else your product will expire before it finishes.

Also opt for paper free newsletters and mails. Use the internet and emails.

2. Reuse

Reuse things which can be reused. Have a garage sale for your electronics or clothes that you no longer want. Antique dealers might be very interested in garage sales.

3. Recycle

Recycle your garbage. It is a method to process material considered as waste and then turning them into other products. This avoids wastage of material that can be changed into something useful. It is an eco friendly method and saves energy and decreases pollution. You can buy separate garbage bags for different material, keeping place for recyclable materials. Plastic cans, cardboard, paper, metal cans etc are recyclable.

4. Swap non reusable items with reusable stuff

One of the best examples is using a environment friendly bag whenever you go shopping in place of collecting shopping bags from all the stores you go. Cloth napkins and cloth bags last longer and are easier to handle and are environment friendly. Rechargeable batteries can be used in place of batteries which can be used only one time.

5. Helping Trash collectors

There are some things that cannot be reused or recycled. They need to go in the garbage can and disposed. This kind of trash should be kept separately in the garbage collection area. Remember not to dispose of hazardous material in these garbage bags. Take them to the local companies who will help you in getting rid of them in an eco friendly way. Some of the hazardous materials are paint cans, chemical based products, rat poisons, old batteries and even nail polish removers.

6. The latest product to deal with garbage in a greener cheaper way

Jim Poss the founder of BigBelly presents the BigBelly solar powered trash compactor. The product is designed to be eco friendly, alternate energy powered and carbon reducing.

Jim had worked in solar and electric vehicle fields and was amazed by the overflowing garbage cans and not so efficient carting trucks. He thought if the garbage could be made compact on the site, carrying them and disposing them would become more efficient for trash collectors.

This device starts compacting from 1200 pounds of force, reducing the volume. It fills up slowly and hence does not need to be emptied very often. This makes it a money saving product.

7. Repair products

Try repairing your products before you go ahead and replace them. It reduces the garbage to be disposed and also costs less.

8. Avoid toxic waste

Avoid using lot of toxic materials. Limit the use of paint cans, chemical products etc.

9. Compost

Have a compostable garbage bin outside your house. Some materials used are paper products, biodegradable plastics, part of fruit vegetables, matches etc. It mainly contains decomposing organic material.

10. Sanitary landfills

Some products as we mentioned earlier cannot be reused or recycled are sent to a place called landfill. The garbage is dumped in a landfill without polluting the groundwater. A protective layer is placed beneath the waste to prevent harmful chemicals to seep in the ground. Landfills are mostly in areas without flooding or high groundwater levels.

11. Rent a good dumpster

Find a good dumpster which can collect your garbage in an environment friendly way and within your budget. The dumpsters come home, pick the garbage and dispose in a green way. It is also managed in a very affordable price. The package is customized according to your needs and the type of garbage disposal.

Disposing waste is our responsibility and an important task like other household chores. Doing it the right way makes our environment healthier and the world a better place to live. The green methods are actually cheaper and definitely better to deal with garbage. Recycling most of the time saves up lot of money. Be environment friendly and try to give more than you what you got.

Author Bio: Jason Phillips writes on the social causes and the topics related to the environment. He wrote on recycling bins and its benefits to the environment.

Green Apple Award for Office Supplies Company

You would not normally class the sector of industrial and office supplies at the forefront of environmental awareness. Over at Central Source we have recently decided to turn ‘green’ in order to set a good example to both customers and other companies within the same industry. Our initiative on being green has been primarily focused on improving our head office to make it a better environment to work in and also reduce our carbon footprint. From a business perspective we have already increased our sales on recycled products and try and search for locally sourced products as much as we can.

The amount of paper used in our head office has been reduced by approximately 40% – part of the reason for this is that we purchased a new double-sided printer helping us use one piece of paper rather than two (the previous printer did not have this feature!). We also make sure that all our paper and cartridges are recycled. In summer 2012 we purchased an energy efficient main server decreasing approximately 60% of heat being given out of the machine. Our energy consumption has also been reduced by switching off the air conditioning and using the good old fashioned method of ‘opening a window’! With the new printer and server producing less heat, it really does make a difference to the energy consumption of our head office.

When thinking about the transportation side, The Workplace Depot staff have been encouraged to use public transport because not only is it saving energy, its saving money! Also several staff car-share which does not take a lot of effort at all. The all new pool car is a Toyota Prius – a part electric, part petrol engine. This car is one of the most ecologically friendly cars on the road to this present day.

From a business point of view, The Workplace Depot has reduced the number of printed paper catalogues by approximately 50% over the past 5 years. Rather than sending out bulky catalogues we came up with an idea to promote far more of our business online through websites, online video, and email. Not only are we heavily investing in our website but we also plan to improve our email software package in order to have better communication electronically with our customers. To this day we have made about 400 product videos in which we want to increase to 1200 which will all be available online – hence our reductions in posting and printing costs.

The Workplace Depot’s two main selling products are our range of cable protectors and speed ramps. Both of which are manufactured using recycled rubber and where possible we have kindly asked other suppliers to use recycled materials. In terms of clients, the majority of our orders are now taking through phone, email and internet (previously via post). Our company also runs several key promotions which are of course environmentally benefiting products such as bike racks, recycling bins, and accessories.

It is rather difficult to give an precise idea of how much our green project has actually cost the business, the reason for this is because some of the high spend equipment such as the old printer, main server and car, were very near to the end of their usable life and would have needed replacing soon. Also, so far we have not yet gone through a full year of being green, but we are already seeing the advantages. Some of these consist of noticeable drops in electricity bills through more energy efficient PC, printers and a main server. Similary with paper reduction we have discovered that this has saved thousands of pounds.

The price of being environmentally friendly for the Workplace Depot has not been an issue and we hope that it will be a good example to other companies sending a message out to them that every little counts.To find out more information on our company taking the ‘green’ route please visit our  Think Green blog. Steve Miller, Managing Director of The Workplace Depot said, “We are very pleased as a company that our hard work has been acknowledged and hopefully this will persuade other companies within the industrial sector that their businesses can also become more environmentally friendly”

There will be an upcoming awards ceremony in the House Of Commons , Palace of Westminster, London on Monday, November 12th, 2012.

This article was contributed by Shaun Older. Shaun is the website administrator for www.theworkplacedepot.co.uk

Greener Living

It’s not just a national thing, this is global. Greener living is now a phrase that we acknowledge in our households, and it’s not going away anytime soon! The idea of greener living has developed because of the increasing need to create a sustainable future for our world.

It’s a total fallacy that leading a greener lifestyle has to be inconvenient, difficult or expensive. There are many ways in which any household can not only be more environmentally friendly, but even save money in bills!

Electricity Usage

The first way to go green, and save money in the process, is to cut down on your electricity usage. We all know that we should turn off unnecessary lights, but do we all know that we might even need to be changing the lights we keep on? Replacing your light bulbs with CFLs (Compact fluorescent lights) will save on the energy you’re using.

Why not try turning down your washing machine to a cooler temperature? We are all told to do so, but do we know why? When using a washing machine, up to 85% of energy is used on heating the water, which could be saved.

Chargers are notorious for swallowing huge amounts of electricity, so ensure that as soon as you’ve finished with them, un-plug them!

Heating

It’s not just your electricity bills which you can save the pounds on. By turning your thermostat down just a few degrees, and having shorter warm showers, your heating bills can also drop.

Kitchen

Saving money on plastic and paper can also benefit the environment, and it takes next to no effort! Try saving carrier bags, or buy reusable bags instead of taking new carrier bags shopping with you. It’s a well know fact that plastic carrier bags take an awful long time to decompose, and so reusing your bags save them from spending years and years in the landfill.

Cut backs in the kitchen can also contribute towards your green lifestyle efforts. Instead of buying kitchen roll, why not buy a cloth especially for cleaning up mess. This way, you save money and trees from not buying kitchen roll, but also a cloth, when used with cleaning products, is much more hygienic.

Cut Down on Paper

Most, if not all banks, now offer internet banking, and the option to get rid of your statements in the post, and receive paperless ones over the internet instead, saving on paper usage.

Recycle

Most people have an orange dustbin now, so no excuses for not recycling! It’s not much extra effort, but makes a huge difference! Keep a small extra bin in the kitchen for your recyclables.

Harness Rainwater

If you’re a plant lover, then listen up. To water your plants, don’t use tap water, as that is all costing you pennies! Collect rainwater in a container, and use that instead.

So there we have it – practical and easy ways to stay green, with minimal effort required. Remember, it’s the little things that, if done by everyone, make a huge difference!

James writes for powerexperts.co.uk, a forward thinking business energy broker service, offering greener, cleaner advice.

Sustainable Flooring

Now that many designers and manufacturers have gone green, there are more environmentally friendly products for the home than ever before. When it comes to floors, consumers now have many sustainable options for their homes and businesses that are affordable, durable, and attractive. You can achieve a designer look for your floor and still maintain your commitment to work with eco-friendly materials.

Traditional Bamboo

Moso bamboo is most typically used in bamboo flooring materials. Bamboo is a highly sustainable and durable material that has become the darling of the green flooring trend. Because bamboo is easily renewable on bamboo farms, it is one of the most eco-friendly solutions you can choose for your home. Moreover, its similarity to hardwood makes it a favorite choice among designers. Bamboo is also water and insect resistant and, despite being a grass, can be just as durable as many tough woods.

Strandwoven Bamboo

Shredded and compressed, tough strandwoven bamboo is a solid choice of flooring for commercial areas or floors that see a lot of foot traffic. The intense pressure and green adhesives used to manufacture strandwoven bamboo create a material that is twice as hard as oak and more durable than traditional bamboo. Its high performance rating has made it a popular choice for schools, malls, stores, and other commercial locations as well as for residential situations.

Strandwoven Wood

Using strandwoven timber scraps for flooring is a great sustainable option. Made from recycled wood scraps, strandwoven wood flooring is a compelling choice for an authentic wood floor. Strandwoven wood floors are made from discarded wood materials from the furniture-making and pulp industries. Recycling this material to make flooring is a brilliant way to produce a quality product with a unique look.

Eucalyptus

As a fast-growing hard wood, eucalyptus is an environmentally responsible flooring option. Eucalyptus can be harvested at fourteen years; although it isn’t as quickly replaced as bamboo at four years, it is still much quicker than traditional hard woods. Often compared in appearance to tropical mahogany, eucalyptus is extremely durable and affordable.

Tile

Many tiles are now created with recycled materials like glass, stone, and even plastic. Because a tile floor can last for decades—even fifty years—it is regarded as an eco-friendly flooring option. Tile floors are strong and easy to maintain; cleaning with green products will enhance your tile floor and keep it looking attractive for years to come. Modern tiles come in a plethora of styles and designs; from elegant to rustic, you can achieve a top-notch design look and still achieve a green floor that is easy on the environment.

Concrete

Because it can last a lifetime and eliminate the need for other flooring, concrete floors can be a wonderfully durable and earth-friendly choice. Since concrete is made with limestone—one of the most abundant minerals on the planet—it is regarded as a greener option than traditional wood floors. Today’s concrete is often made with waste by-products that are typically available locally. Concrete can also be enhanced with colors and patterns to achieve a great design look for any home.

Cork

Cork flooring is made from the cork oak’s bark; safely removing the bark does not harm the tree. Because it absorbs moisture, cork is not a recommended option for bathrooms, but it is a favorite flooring material for high traffic area because of its ability to “spring” back into shape. Sustainable and comfortable to walk on, cork is a solid choice for an earth-friendly material.

Carpets

When composed entirely of renewable materials like wool or seagrass, carpeting can be a very green choice of flooring for your home. There are also highly innovative carpets made from such items as recycled bicycle inner tubes and even old carpets. Carpeting and rugs made from recycled materials can be just as decorative and comfortable as traditional carpets.

By choosing a green option to fulfill your flooring needs, you can positively impact the earth and set a responsible example for all who come into contact with it. By selecting any of these flooring materials, you can create the look you want at an affordable price. By choosing a green floor, you sacrifice nothing in the looks or durability departments and you gain your own healthy corner of the planet.

Author Bio: Guest post contributed by Kris Rayner, for Empire Today.

Electric Vehicles: Are They Too Silent To Be Safe?

Electric vehicle with interactive noise. Photo from the Warwick Manufacturing Group website

ELVIN (Electric Vehicle with Interactive Noise). Photo from the Warwick Manufacturing Group website

And what can be done about this?

Electric cars, so their manufacturers tell us, will be the cars of the future. There is much justification for this claim – electric cars have the potential to reduce harmful gas emissions and should mean that many countries could reduce their dependence on oil.

These vehicles are also incredibly silent – a feature which advertisers market as a selling point but which in fact could be considered a design flaw…

So surely the world would be a better place if cars produced less loud noises? Well, yes and no. Yes as everyone wants a quieter living environment. And no because if, like me, you often find yourself nearly stepping into the path of a cyclist because you haven’t heard them coming you will know how essential the noise of vehicles is.

Vehicle noise helps all road users judge the speed of other traffic and their proximity to us. It can also help our brains quickly process information about the direction from which a vehicle is approaching and whether the vehicle is accelerating or slowing.

Internal car noise can also help drivers ascertain the state of their car; has the engine conked out, what speed are they travelling, is the car ‘under pressure’? It is always reassuring to hear some noise when you put your foot on the pedal.

As electric vehicles generally remain quiet at low speeds, their drivers do not have these audio prompts to sharpen their senses. In a way, electric car drivers cannot call on all their senses to drive safely.

And road safety experts are starting to get more vocal about the safety implications of cars which are very quiet at low speed.

At a recent road safety conference, research organisation Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) highlighted evidence which shows that hybrid electric vehicles are twice as likely to be involved in an accident when:

  • Stopping or slowing
  • Entering or leaving a parking space

Electric cars could also pose safety risks to blind and partially-sighted groups.

It is clear that there is a demand for electric cars to have the sound put back into them. This could be ‘inherent’ sound (by adapting the machinery so that it produces real sound) or ‘synthesised’ sound.

The idea of synthesised sound in a vehicle might seem a strange concept but then many electric tills are designed to mimic the sound of ‘old-school’ tills opening and shutting – a great help for letting shop assistants know when a transaction has gone through and whether the till has been left open or not.

And a rather dinky looking green van called ELVIN is the vehicle world’s equivalent of an electric shop till. ELVIN stands for ‘electric vehicle with interactive noise’ and ‘he’ has been modified by his manufacturer WMG to emit different sounds dependent on his speed and state.

Much publicity surrounded ELVIN’S unveiling in 2011 and motoring journalists were clearly impressed with the fact that the green vehicle is capable of producing white noise and UFO sounds depending on the situation he finds himself in.

BBC News, reporting on the issue of silent electric vehicles, posed the question: “What noise should an electric car make?”

Personally, I’d be in favour of them sounding like a real car rather than a UFO, police car or crazy frog. But then maybe that’s just me!

Nissan has the same idea and is already started fitting noise-emitting speakers beneath the bonnets of the electric cars which roll off its production lines.

Hopefully you will see – and, of course, hear – more ELVIN-style vehicles on a road near you soon.

James Christie writes for road safety association GEM Motoring Assist. Check out the GEM website to find some great breakdown cover deals.

Sustainable in the City – 6 Tips for Eco-Friendly City Living

Even though many of today’s most radical eco-friendly living initiatives tend to focus on steps you can take when you have a bit of land, such as growing all your own food or living almost entirely off grid, it’s completely possible to live a sustainable life in the city, as well. In fact, because of some of the basic realities of city living, such as having public transportation or being able to walk to the grocery store, city dwellers can be more eco-friendly that suburbanites without even trying.

Get a load of this fact, for instance: New York City’s Midtown area has an average 7.1 metric tons of carbon emissions per person, whereas the United States average is 24.5 metric tons. That means urban dwellers in New York use about a quarter of the average carbon output for United States citizens in general, according to NewYorkWaste.org.

So how can you watch your carbon footprint and reduce your environmental impact while living in the city? Here are six tips to help you go green while dwelling in the city:

1. Walk, Bike, or Use Public Transportation

Of course, the number one way to go green in the city is to cut down dramatically on your fuel consumption by walking, biking, or using public transportation whenever possible. Many city dwellers do this already, since their workplaces and retail and entertainment spots are close by. Plus, with all that traffic from the suburbanites driving into their urban offices, who wants to drive?

While many city dwellers don’t own a car at all, if you do much travel outside of your city, you may need to keep a car for occasional use. If this is the case, you can make your travel greener by checking out gas credit cards that allow you to use your accumulated points to donate money to green charities and initiatives. This can help offset your carbon footprint when you are using fuel to travel to someplace out of walking or public transportation range.

2. Choose an Apartment Wisely

Many of today’s cities feature green apartment buildings that are made with sustainable materials or that simply feature energy-efficient appliances and insulation. Even if this type of apartment building isn’t an option for you, you can cut back on your carbon footprint by thinking small. Living in a small, efficient space rather than a sprawling home or apartment can drastically cut back on your energy usage.
When looking for the perfect apartment to buy or rent, also consider how close your home will be to the key places you need or want to visit on a regular basis. Living within walking distance of your office, if possible, can help you cut back on your carbon footprint even more by avoiding even public transportation.

3. Plant a Garden

Even in the city, it’s completely possible to grow some of your own food, or to at least keep a few plants around to improve your apartment’s air quality. The web is full of resources for urban gardeners, and several great books have been published on the topic during the recent popularization of green living, as well.

When you’re in the city, it’s important to think vertically for your gardens, and your access to sunlight also makes a big difference. If you want to live downtown but grow some of your own herbs and vegetables, find an apartment with a balcony or patio that faces west or south, and then take advantage of stacking pots and other vertical gardening options so that you can make the most of the space allotted to you.

4. Shop Locally

Often times, local shops and farmer’s markets congregate in inner-city areas, rather than in the suburbs, where chains and big box stores are more common. According to sustainableconnections.org, shopping locally reduces your environmental impact in several ways. For one, local businesses tend to source their supplies locally, which means there is less transportation and use of fossil fuels involved in getting products to you.

Shopping locally for your food has even more environmental impact, since local farmers tend to be better stewards of the local earth and environment, as they rely on it for generations’ worth of sustainable farming. Even local farms that are not certified organic use more sustainable farming practices than sprawling farming conglomerates that grow produce for chain supermarkets and box stores.

5. Recycle

Because more cities are focusing on green initiatives, it’s often easier for urban dwellers to recycle than it is for suburbanites or individuals who live in the country to do the same. If you aren’t already recycling whenever possible, find out more about your city’s recycling initiatives, and take advantage of them.

One advantage of apartment living is that urban apartments often offer recycling pick-up services. Even if this isn’t the case with your apartment, check for recycling drop-off points within easy walking distance of your home. You can seriously reduce your environmental footprint simply by recycling whatever and whenever you can.

6. Support Your Local Parks

As today’s cities strive to become more environmentally friendly, more of them are putting environmental initiatives into practice by cultivating green spaces for the communities in the form of local parks. These green spaces help clean up the air in cities, and can even help clean up the water supply that is often contaminated by run-off from the city’s asphalt and concrete services.

By supporting your local parks systems through voting for city initiatives that support and expand city parks, volunteering in your local park, or simply enjoying what the parks system has to offer on a regular basis, you can ensure that your city continues to expand and promote the parks system.

Going green even when you live in the city isn’t actually that difficult. Sure, you probably can’t raise chickens or grow all your own produce, but you can buy locally-raised poultry and vegetables and grow your own herbs instead. These six simple steps can help you reduce your carbon footprint and have a positive impact for the environment, even when you live in the city.

This article was contributed by Daniela Baker from http://www.creditdonkey.com/frugal-commuter.html

10 Memorable Quotes about Solar Power and the Environment

Solar panels in the Utah Desert. As C.G. Abbott predicted, “In time, manufacturing will to a great extent follow the sun.”

Solar panels in the Utah Desert. As C.G. Abbott predicted back in 1928, “In time, manufacturing will to a great extent follow the sun.”

When I was growing up in the 1970s I can’t remember anyone talking about solar power or environmental issues. So it is surprising to learn that so many forward-thinking people in the 19th and early 20th century were eloquently trying to raise the topic of the environment.

The topic is discussed far more openly today – and people really have started to listen.

Here are some great old and new quotes about man’s attempts to harness nature and produce energy.

1. Henry David Thoreau: “Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.
American philosophical writer Thoreau lived in the 19th century before the age of the aeroplane increased mankind’s already-sizeable carbon footprints. He would surely have approved of attempts to promote clean and renewable forms of energy.

2. Frank Shuman: “The human race must finally utilise direct sun power or revert to barbarism.
Shuman’s quote comes from a letter he wrote to the Scientific American magazine in 1913.
The American engineer invented curved solar mirrors which reflected the heat of the Egyptian sun and heated water; producing steam to power pumps which irrigated cotton fields.

3. C.G. Abbott: “In time, manufacturing will to a great extent follow the sun.
In 1928, American astrophysicist C.G. Abbot raised the possibility of deserts becoming great industrial areas through the development of solar power.
Today, his vision does not seem to be a mirage. The world’s biggest solar power installation is located in the Mojave Desert in the United States and a 12-square-kilometre solar farm is due to be constructed in a desert city in Morocco.

4. Albert Einstein: “The environment is everything that isn’t me.
This concept is far simpler that e=mc squared!

5. Sir George Porter: “I have no doubt that we will be successful in harnessing the sun’s energy… if sunbeams were weapons of war, we would have had solar energy centuries ago.
British scientist Sir George Porter made this claim in 1973. He would go on to be a major contributor to the public understanding of science through being president of the influential Royal Society scientific organisation.

6. Jimmy Carter: “Because we are now running out of gas and oil, we must prepare quickly for a third change, to strict conservation and to the use of coal and permanent renewable energy sources, like solar power.
US President Jimmy Carter made this statement in a televised speech in April 1977. He might not have been a particularly successful President but this quote shows his foresight. You can’t imagine his successor, Ronald Reagan, issuing a similar warning.

7. Warren Christopher: “Environmental degradation – like overpopulation, refugees, narcotics, terrorism and organised crime – is a worldwide problem that doesn’t stop at a nation’s borders.
Warren Christopher served as US Secretary of State under Bill Clinton and clearly saw protecting the environment as a global, rather than a national, problem.

8. Al Gore: “Our world faces a true planetary emergency. I know the phrase sounds shrill, and I know it’s a challenge to the moral imagination.
US politician Al Gore might have lost a presidential election contest against George W. Bush Jnr but he was a lot more successful at educating the public about environmental issues.

9. Robert Redford: “I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defence of our resources is just as important as defence abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend?
The American actor, who starred in films such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, has long been an advocate of green living. His comments show that he is as articulate without a film script as he is with one.

10. Let’s end this article on a note of hope with a quote from Roger Tory Peterson: an educator who was one of the leading inspirations for the 20th century environmental movement. Not all is doom and gloom. We are beginning to understand the natural world and are gaining a reverence for life – all life.

James Christie writes for Strenson Solar: provider of solar panels in Brighton.

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