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Earth Saver: part eight



This week, Clare breaks her old MP3 player, and looks at buying a wind-up or solar replacement.

Ow. Ow. Ow. That was a big mistake!

I’m standing on the back doorstep with bruises down my legs, and a bleeding elbow.

Clare! Ben! What happened?!” Dad cries.

Clare came off her bike”, Ben explains. “It was my fault, I was doing some of my BMX moves, and she wanted to try, so I tried to teach her, and… well she managed to flip over the handle bars, and then the bike fell on top of her.”

Dad glares momentarily at Ben, and then looks me up and down.

Lucky you were wearing your helmet then”, Dad says, gently feeling my arms. I wince.

Sorry”, He says, “Nope. Nothing broken. Go upstairs and clean those scrapes. And put your jacket in the wash before it stains.”

Yes, Dad”, I nod, unclipping my helmet.

I’ll send Ben up to check on you in a minute”, He smiles.

It’s only when I’m in the bathroom and I’m taking off my jacket, that I discover I have broken something – my MP3 player is in pieces. To be honest, it was pretty battered anyway. I had already managed to drop it several times, including once in a pond – it must have got caught under my bicycle when I went over. I sadly empty the pieces onto the side of the sink. Ah, alas, poor music player!

I show the bits to Ben when he comes to check on me, and ask if its in any way fixable. He raises an eyebrow at me, and then frowns at the tiny bits of screen and plastic.

“I’m sorry Clare but it’s totally broken. You’ll just have to throw it away, or recycle it, or whatever.”

Oh”, I say disappointedly.

Just buy a new one”, Ben says shrugging, “It was an old model. You can get one with more memory on it, and doesn’t run on batteries…”

An energy efficient light bulb goes off in my head. Of course, Ben’s right! This is a perfect opportunity to replace it with an eco-friendly model!

I guess Ben is still feeling responsible for me falling off my bicycle, because he offers to help me look for a new music player online. Though he knows more about gadgets than me, he’s not sure where to begin. He tries a couple of computer shop sites that he likes to use first, but doesn’t find anything. So I use the search engine instead.

There are quite a few solar powered music players, including some things I hadn’t even come across before – there’s a big solar powered multimedia player that you can play games and videos on, a music player that sticks to your window and has bluetooth and even solar powered speakers!  Again I’ll have to mention these to Mum and Dad – you can get cone shaped speakers, or even a speaker shaped like a plant shoot! However, I just want a basic music player, an MP3 or MP4 – I’ve never known the difference – of which there are several, some are solar powered and some are wind-up ones.

These eco-friendly MP3 and MP4 players aren’t half bad”, Ben says, sounding a bit surprised. “Look at this one. You can keep films and pictures on it as well as music, it takes SD cards… it looks pretty slick too!”

You sound surprised!” I say, “What were you expecting? That they were all going to be made from recycled cardboard?”

Pretty much, yeah”, Ben jokes.

Hey, look!” I point out, “This one has a solar panel that charges up in artificial light!”

It doesn’t seem to have tons of memory space though”, Ben says, “You could get a normal music player cheaper, one that charges from your computer, and with about the same memory.”

I guess. But if I had a wind up one or a solar one, I’d always be able to re-charge it. Wherever I was.”

True”, Ben says wrinkling his nose, “I suppose that is an advantage.”

And”, I continue, “Remember the two more expensive ones were multi-media players, not just music players.”

Ben’s gives me an exaggerated worried look.

I knew it!” He cries mockingly, “You’re so going to be a lawyer like Mum.”

I immediately pull a face. And learn Latin? And do that much paper work? No way. I’ve already decided I’m going to go into a environmental job, where there’s no paper work in involved.

Anyway”, I say, “I don’t mind. I’ll just have to save up my allowance.”

A thought suddenly strikes me. I’ve found eco-friendly music players, even speakers, but what about earphones? I insist Ben take a look for some, even though he is dubious that such a thing exists.

I’m right though. There are earphones and headphones for sale made from eco-friendly materials.  One particular set of earphones have PVC free cables and wooden casings, and another is made from recycled materials, such as aluminium. Ben thinks this is a bit much, as they all seem to  be designer ones. He also thinks it would be stupid for me to pay out more than a tenner on earphones, as I have a track record of breaking and snapping them. I once even managed to cut the cable on a pair of earphones when I was wrapping up a Christmas present.

It doesn’t really matter at this point I guess,” I shrug, “I won’t be able to buy a new music player for a while anyway.”

Clare! Ben!” Mum calls, making us both jump, “It’s nine o’clock, and it’s Monday tomorrow, have  you started  your homework yet?”

Both Ben and I groan.

We’re doing it now!” yells back Ben.

We both trudge off to our respective bedrooms. Before I start though, I quickly count up my money. It’s going to take a while to make up the money I need. Perhaps I can persuade Dad to pay me to mow the lawns. I’ll try and keep off the flower beds this time.

I’m just starting my history essay, when Ben walks in.

Hey, you busy?” he says, but doesn’t wait for me to reply.

Here”, he says tossing me something. I catch it awkwardly. It’s his old MP3 player. The one he had before he got his super phone.

Reuse, recycle!” He says cheerfully, and then plods off to the bathroom.

I’m stunned. Could this green idea of mine actually be starting to work on him? I hear him running a bath from across the landing. Oh well, you win some…

Next Sunday:

It’s the beginning of December and the family begin to plan their first eco-Christmas.

Part one // Part two // Part three // Part four // Part five // Part six // Part seven.

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Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy



Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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How Going Green Can Save Your Business Thousands



Running a company isn’t easy. From reporting wages in an efficient way to meeting deadlines and targets, there’s always something to think about – with green business ideas giving entrepreneurs something extra to ponder. While environmental issues may not be at the forefront of your mind right now, it could save your business thousands, so let’s delve deeper into this issue.

Small waste adds up over time

A computer left on overnight might not seem like the end of the world, right? Sure, it’s a rather minor issue compared to losing a client or being refused a loan – but small waste adds up over time. Conserving energy is an effective money saver, so to hold onto that hard-earned cash, try to:

  • Turn all electrical gadgets off at the socket rather than leaving them on standby as the latter can crank up your energy bill without you even realizing.
  • Switch all lights off when you exit a room and try switching to halogen incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps or light emitting diodes as these can use up to 80 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent and are therefore more efficient.
  • Replace outdated appliances with their greener counterparts. Energy Star appliances have labels which help you to understand their energy requirements over time.
  • Draught-proof your premises as sealing up leaks could slash your energy bills by 30 per cent.

Going electronic has significant benefits

If you don’t want to be buried under a mountain of paperwork, why not opt for digital documents instead of printing everything out? Not only will this save a lot of money on paper and ink but it will also conserve energy and help protect the planet. You may even be entitled to one of the many tax breaks and grants issued to organizations committed to achieving their environmental goals. This is particularly good news for start-ups with limited funds as the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is keen to support companies opening up their company in a green manner.

Of course, if you’re used to handing out brochures and leaflets at every company meeting or printing out newsletters whenever you get the chance, going electronic may be a challenge – but here are some things you can try:

  • Using PowerPoint presentations not printouts
  • Communicating via instant messenger apps or email
  • Using financial software to manage your books
  • Downloading accounting software to keep track of figures
  • Arranging digital feedback and review forms
  • Making the most of Google Docs

Going green can help you to make money too

Going green and environmental stability is big news at the moment with many companies doing their bit for the environment. While implementing eco-friendly strategies will certainly save you money, reducing your carbon footprint could also make you a few bucks too. How? Well, consumers care about what brands are doing more than ever before, with many deliberately siding with those who are implementing green policies. Essentially, doing your bit for the environment is a PR dream as it allows you to talk about what everyone wants to hear.

Going green can certainly save your money but it should also improve your reputation too and give you a platform to promote your business.

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