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Earth Saver: part three

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The third instalment of Earth Saver sees Clare’s mum, after weeks of Clare trying, agree to give eco-living a go.

The dinner discussion turns out to be a disappointment. Instead of talking about switching to low energy bulbs Dad, Mum and Daisy get into a fight over something she’s been doing on the internet. Ben listens to his MP3 player to avoid being pulled into the argument.

However, I am not put off. For the next two weeks I try and continue my one woman eco-campaign. But nothing goes as planned. Mum won’t swap brands to eco-friendly cleaning products. Dad finds my box of batteries, intended for recycling, leaking fluid onto the hall table. Daisy comes in one day and says my compost bin, a more suitably re-used jar, is causing a stench and throws it into the normal rubbish.I also keep seeing Mum throwing stuff away without bothering to separate it and recycle stuff properly.

One night cleaning the fridge, she throws out a bag of never opened, wilted salad, straight into the bin – it should have been compost and plastic. I even get my pocket money docked when Dad finds out I’ve used a whole roll of kitchen foil, putting it down the backs of radiators to reflect the heat. The book said to put it behind radiators against outside walls, but all our radiators are inside. So I just did all of them.

The final fiasco was when I tried to turn down the temperature on the thermostat programmer. I’d read on the Energy Saving Trust website that if you turned down the temperature by one degree, you saved  230kg of carbon dioxide a year! I thought I might as well turn it down three degrees and save even more. However, I wasn’t quite sure how the programmer worked, and I wasn’t able to see clearly anyway as I had to reach through a mass of coats.

So I think I must have turned it up instead of down. I didn’t realise until later though, when I saw Dad in a T-shirt asking Daisy if she’d turned up the heating. Daisy likes a tropical climate as her clothes aren’t practical in conditions other than a heatwave. I went back to the under-stairs cupboard to fix the problem, but unfortunately Mum spotted the door was ajar, closed it and locked me inside. I was eventually found by Dad when he went to check the thermostat programmer. He wasn’t impressed when I explained what I was doing in there.

So here I am, at the end of another evening, doing my maths homework, and feeling pretty fed up. The only place that’s anyway near eco-friendly is my own room, and that’s only because I’m attempting to do algebra by wind-up torch light. Meanwhile the rest of the house is running like normal. Heat on high, lights blazing, Dad washing our third car, Daisy having another bath and Ben listening to music, watching TV and playing Halo all at once. I sigh and put down my calculator. Perhaps it’s time for to me to give up. Everyone’s either too busy to go eco-friendly, or just not interested. And as I’ve found, at age 11, there’s not a huge amount I can do without my parents’ permission, or without someone moaning at me afterwards.

I decide to take a break and go down to the kitchen to pour myself a drink. Mum is sat at the table with a couple of books, which is a little unusual, as she’s normally in her office. She watches me as I open the half-empty fridge. I sigh, we’d save more energy if was full – and I don’t mean full of week old, sodden cornflakes left in the bowl by Ben.

“Dad told me about the thermostat”, Mum says suddenly, looking at me over her glasses. It’s not quite the ‘questioning the witness’ look she gives you when she’s about to tell you off, but my heart sinks anyway.

“I was trying to turn down the heating. To conserve energy”, I mutter, taking out the orange juice bottle.

“Yes, I noticed you’ve been trying to do that recently”, Mum says, “I also remember what you said about the electricity bill, before I got distracted by Daisy’s online boyfriend…”

I look up, mid-pour.

“What?” I exclaim.

“Don’t worry, your father and I are dealing with that”, Mum says casually, “I want to talk to you about being eco-friendly. You’ve stuck to it over the last few weeks and I’m very impressed. You’re obviously passionate about it.”

“Of course I am! I love polar bears! I don’t want them to drown!”

Mum smiles at me as if I’ve said something funny.

“Well I agree, the environment is important, and goodness knows if we can save some money that would be great too”, Mum says, “So, I thought, we might actually give it a go. Try and become completely carbon neutral.”

“Really?!” I say, gobsmacked.

“Yes…”

“Really, really, really?!” I repeat. I can’t believe it.

“Yes”, Mum smiles, “I’ve been talking to your Dad about it, and he agrees it might be a good move, especially with oil prices at the moment.”

“Great…” I start, but Mum interrupts.

“But, before you get too excited, we also decided we’d try it for one year first, see how we go. What do you say?”

“Oh yes!”

“Good. Because since it’s your idea, you can be in charge of the project, with me and your Dad. What do you think?”

“Yes please!” I cry, putting down the juice and the glass, and giving her a hug. Mum laughs.

“Alright, but  first we need to do some research, make a plan…”

“I have a list, and some eco-living books from school!”

“Excellent, that’ll be our starting point. Go and fetch them.”

I run to the kitchen door excitedly. Yes! I have made a difference, we’re going to be eco-friendly! I skid to a halt at the doorway, with a sudden thought.

“What about Ben and Daisy?” I ask.

Mum gives me stern look.

“Who pays the mortgage on this house Clare?” She says.

“Err… you and Dad?” I guess.

“Exactly. So they can either like it or lump.  Now, go fetch those books.”

I just nod and head off to my room, still wondering what a mortgage is.

Next Sunday:

Clare and her Mum form a plan to work through the house, starting with the energy aspects, and start by putting in energy efficient light bulbs and recycling the white-goods they don’t need.

Part one // Part two.

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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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