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Earth Saver: part two



We’re continuing on the journey of 11-year-old Clare, who’s inspired by a school project to go green. This week, she attempts to be eco-friendly by herself, but finds that everything she tries ends up getting her into trouble…

The next day at school I search the library and internet for as much information on eco-living as possible. I’m going to prove I’m serious about this. Unlike the vegetarian fiasco.

There are a lot of books on eco-living in the school library, most of them quite thick too. I can’t believe how much you need to think about – water, electricity, waste, toxic chemicals in the home,  food shopping, eco-investment?! Suddenly the task of going green seems huge! But I don’t panic, at least not much. Our teacher told us that even doing small things regularly can help. Just switching off a few lights, or taking a bag out shopping with you, like those ‘bags for life’ shops sell – Mum has a drawer full of those. I decide to write a list of things to do at home. I’ll start with saving energy.

After school, as I wait for Mum by the gates, I am reminded of one of the things I’d dearly like to change, but can’t. Mum’s big silver four=by-four, once just a car, is now a guilt machine. I wince as it rolls up beside me. I wonder if I can persuade Mum to let me take the bus from now on?

Back home, I launch straight into my eco campaign. I start by switching off and unplugging all the unnecessary appliances we have. Such as the hall lamp, which is left on at the same time as the main hall light – making it about as useful as a torch on a summer’s day.

On my way upstairs I pass Ben’s bedroom. I peek round the door. He is lying on his bed with  his laptop, MP3 player and TV on, all at once. He has his games console and DVD player on stand-by and there seem to be a million plugs coming out of one multi-plug socket. I notice the TV remote next to a sock on the floor, and quietly pick it up, holding my breath, to switch off the telly. The moment the TV is off Ben notices.

“I was watching that!” he exclaims, irritated. For a young man, he can certainly make his voice go high.

“No you weren’t”, I argue, “You were on your computer and listening to music. How could you even hear the cartoon?”

“I’ve seen it before. I don’t need the sound on”, he replies grumpily. I roll my eyes.

“Well, I was only saving a bit of energy”, I explain.

“Yeah, well do it in your own room. I’m trying to do college work”, he snaps, putting his earphones back in.

Never mind, I’ll sneak back into his room and turn off everything later. I finish switching off the upstairs unnecessaries, and have started reading Confessions of an Eco-Shopper by Kate Lock in my bedroom, when there’s a bang and a yelp.

“Ow! Okay who turned off the hall light!?” Mum calls from downstairs. I open my bedroom door and look out. Daisy has left her room too and is leaning over the stair rail.

“Wasn’t the table lamp on?” Daisy asks over the rail.

“No”, I hear Mum say, as light suddenly spills up from the hall, “I think the bulb has blown.”

Blown? Oops, I hadn’t thought of that.

There’s  another sudden yell.

“Oh my God!”

“Peter?” Mum calls, concerned. I hear Dad run into the hall.

“Right! Who pulled out the TV plug?! The blooming thing hasn’t recorded the match!” Dad yells.

I shrink back into my doorway. Oh, double oops. I notice Ben emerge from his room across the landing.

“Hey, what’s going on? I’m trying to work”, Ben asks, looking more puzzled than annoyed.

“The hall lamp wasn’t on, so Mum banged into the small table. And someone unplugged the TV, so Dad’s missed the match”, Daisy explains.

“Oh. Well, that was probably Clare, she was in my room earlier trying to turn stuff off”, Ben says, loud enough for everyone to hear. There’s a moment’s silence.

“Clare!” Dad calls, “Come down here please! Now!”

Oh, I’m in trouble. I trudge down the stairs. In the hall Mum and Dad are stood, looking irritated. Mum sighs when she sees me.

“Your eco project again?” Mum asks.

“No. I just wanted to do my bit for the environment. So I turned off a few lights and things on stand-by. I also started putting fruit and veg peelings into a pot for  compost…” I explain. “You know Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!” I add cheerfully.

“Listen, Clare,” Dad says, “We don’t mind you trying to be eco-friendly, but please ask us before you do anything.”

“Alright.” I say, then I have a thought, “Daaadd….?”


“How much does the electricity cost?” I ask hopefully, “Because you know, saving energy also saves money! And all we’d have to do is a few things, like buy low-energy bulbs!” There’s a pause as Mum and Dad share a questioning glance.

“The  electricity bill was rather high last month”, Dad says slowly, looking at Mum.

“I suppose switching the bulbs wouldn’t take too long”, Mum says carefully, “Why don’t we discuss it during dinner?”

“Good idea”, Dad nods, heading back to the living-room. I grin. They’re actually going to think about changing the bulbs! I’m so pleased, I don’t say anything for fear of jinxing it.

“It’s nearly seven, I’d better make a start on the cooking”, Mum says, dumping her papers on the hall table, and wandering into the kitchen. I go back upstairs to continue reading, but with a bounce in my step. As I trot up, though, I am followed by the sound of Mum’s puzzled, and swiftly irate, voice through the kitchen door.

“Why is there a banana skin in my £70 designer bowl!”

I decide not to hang around, but I can’t wait for dinner.

Next Sunday:

Finally after weeks of trying, Clare’s mum agrees to give eco-living a go.

Click here for part one in the series.

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How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable




sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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