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Earth Saver: part six

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This week, it’s Daisy’s birthday, and as usual she wants a party. So Clare starts researching eco-parties and birthday gifts.

It’s exactly two weeks later when Dad, between calls to clients, manages to fit aerators to the taps and a newly bought shower head to the shower. Which is fortunate since Mum decided she couldn’t ban baths altogether after protests from Daisy, and after remembering how many half opened gift sets of bath stuff we have to get through.

The reason I know it’s exactly two weeks is because Daisy has been counting down to her 16th birthday. She and Mum have been discussing her party so the eco-friendly plan has been on hold.

In the meantime I’ve been trying to find Daisy an appropriate and eco-friendly gift. She hasn’t been very impressed with this going carbon neutral idea since I first mentioned it. I think she’s afraid it means we’re going to give up our ‘lifestyle’ and I want to show her, by buying her an awesome gift, that you can be green without being un-cool!

I’ve been searching all my favourite online eco shops and I am impressed with the range of stuff you can buy – there’s a futuristic metal bracelet made from 100% recycled aluminium, a cork laptop sleeve, earrings and necklaces made from reclaimed CDs and even a photo frame made from recycled vending cups! However, none of them are exactly in my price range, and I don’t think Daisy would like any of them.

I am still thinking about this dilemma at dinner, as I listen to Mum and Daisy talk about the party, or rather barbecue.

“So that’s six friends…” Mum frowns, putting down her fork.

“Seven friends Mum”, Daisy says.

“Alright. That’s 12 people, including us. We’ll need some disposable plates and plastic cups…”

“No! Mum!” I cry, “If you’re going to buy new paper plates and disposal cups buy eco-friendly ones. There are cups, straws and even bowls you can buy, that are made from cornstarch, but look like clear plastic, and are biodegradable!”

“Cornstarch?” Daisy says disbelievingly.

“Hey, in fact you should have an eco-friendly party. I’ve seen loads of cool eco stuff, I could organise it for you!”

My sister gives me a look that is a mixture of amusement and contempt.

“Clare you’re 11. You have no idea how to organise a party, let alone a good one.”

“But Clare has a point, we’ve said we’ll try and go carbon neutral, and that includes parties,” Mum says.

“Mum”, Daisy says sternly,  “I am not having an eco party. I want something that at least looks a little glamourous, please. I don’t want brown recycled napkins that have bits in them.”

“Well, you can plan your party on your own then”, Mum says, taking a bite of pasta, “Using your own allowance money, too.”

“What!” Daisy cries,

“I promised you could have a party, and I am keeping that promise. But if you want me to organise and pay for it, with household money don’t forget, well… then my promise to Clare comes into effect”, Mum smiles slyly at Daisy. “In short, its your choice Daisy – a free eco party, or a glamourous barbecue paid out of your own pocket.”

Daisy looks stricken. I don’t know why Ben and Daisy try to argue sometimes. Mum’s a lawyer.

“Mum! You can’t! It’s my 16th!”

“Hear that”m Mum says mock gravely to Dad, “She’s going to be 16 next week.”

“High time she started paying her way then”, Dad nods.

“Alright”, Daisy huffs, “Fine. But if its horrible, I can take my friends out for a meal instead, yeah?”

“If you insist”, Mum sighs, “But its not going to be horrible. Have some faith in me and your sister.”  And that was the end of the conservation.

By the next evening, when I join Mum in her office, I have thought about Daisy’s reaction and suggest we drop it. I don’t want to ruin her birthday, especially her 16th, which seems to be considered really important by some people at school. However, Mum seems sure it will be fine. The only thing she is concerned about is sticking to a budget.

“Your Dad’s planning the food, so that’s not a worry”, Mum says, “But I already have a great eco idea. It’ll cost a bit, but its reusable.

“That sounds great, what’s the idea?” I ask, feeling a bit better.

“I remember what you said about solar lights a few weeks ago, that most of the ones for sale are outdoor ones? Why don’t we buy a really nice set of solar lights to put in the tree in the back garden?”

“That’s a great idea!” I cry. We search the internet for nearly an hour after that, not because of lack of fairy lights, but because there is so much choice! In the end we pick a string of fifty white flower shaped solar fairy-lights.

Next we buy a party set of biodegradable plates, cups and wooden cutlery and suggest we use the normal tablecloths instead of paper ones. Then we find some biodegradable balloons, so we buy a pack of those. To save money, and start reusing our own stuff, I offer to make some paper lanterns with some wallpaper left over from re-decorating Daisy’s room last winter. Then we find the great  idea of using living plants as table decorations and as party favours, so Mum suggests buying a lot of small daisy plants from a market stall, and wrapping the pots up in left over wrapping paper. Mum then signs up to a website that does some really stylish e-cards, that she can send out as invites.

“Well”, Mum says, sipping her coffee, “I think that’s all the décor all dealt with. Your Dad should have bought some organic meat at the butchers and a fair trade chocolate birthday cake… I’d say we’ve got this pretty well wrapped up.”

“Except I don’t have a present for Daisy”, I sigh, “I wanted to get her something eco-friendly, but I can’t find anything just right.”

“What about making something?” Mum suggests, typing into the search engine, “A recycled gift!”

Five minutes later Mum finds the perfect thing, and agrees to help me with it. I think its a wonderful idea – I just hope Daisy likes it.

Next Sunday:

Ben gets a part-time job, so the family goes to pick a bank where he can open his own account, and Clare discovers eco-banking and charity credit cards.

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

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Features

Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy

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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

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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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