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Is trash media responsible for a lack of positive role models?

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Writer, owner of Larger Family Life and mum of 12 Tania Sullivan ponders the lack of positive influences for our children in the media.

During the filming of 16 Kids and Counting, I was repeatedly interviewed on our choice to limit the amount of television our family watches. My answer that there is so much more to do in life than to waste it sitting in front of a box wasn’t enough. I was asked whether I was trying to control what they were exposed to, and whether that was overly-excessive parenting on my part.

My answers were yes and no. And so I elaborated.

Of course we wanted to control what our children were exposed to.  Not only our children but ourselves, too. Our view is that the boundaries of acceptability have changed so much and so far, that the things that were once considered shocking have now become normal.

What once was considered unacceptable is now acceptable for children to see and follow. And every time this happens, the boundaries change, and the next shock factor becomes normalised. How far are we prepared to let them go before we say, “Enough is enough!”?

With the the multitude of technology at our fingertips in every facet of our lives, from mobile phones to computers, to 24-hour television and apps, we do need to be careful about what our children are exposed to. No, we cannot protect them from everything all the time but we do need to be aware of what they see because children are sponges and they soak it all in – the good and the bad.

Good role models and positive influences in the media are rare

I want  my children to be confident in their choices. I want them to know that they can reach for the stars and succeed. I want them to dream big and not feel that dream isn’t good enough or ‘cool’ enough.  I want them to feel free to be them, not what a programme or musician or latest Z-list personality tells them to be.

Positive role models don’t exist any more. There is nobody, not one person I can think of in mainstream media, who will positively encourage and inspire young, impressionable children.

The media encourages disrespect, over-sexualisation, a culture of aiming low or not at all.

Children grow up thinking the way to achieve their dreams is not through practise and hard work and determination, but by queuing up for a reality show for someone to tell them whether than can be a success or not, whilst being berated and belittled in front of millions.

WAGs and manufactured pop stars whose only talent is limited clothing and a provocative dance routine are held in high esteem.  Forget the singing; they don’t need to be able to do that.

Footballers – the self-appointed, megalomaniacal mini-gods who believe they can treat anyone how they want because of who they are – are put on a pedestal. Talent not required.

Two-minute reality TV celebs whose bad boy/girl behaviour hitting headlines is their only way of ensuring their fame continues are not who I want my children to emulate.

These are not the role models I want my children to have.

There are no aspirations there. There is no encouragement or inspiration. The message these ‘role models’ send out is that by being a sexual, provocative, bullying, disrespectful lad or ladette, you’ll be cool.

As long as you’re cool, you’re successful.

Or as Rachel from Confessions of a Stay at Home Mum put it, “It’s okay to be a dumb-ass because you’ll be a famous dumb-ass.”

Where are all the positive role models for our children?

Who is there who can encourage them that they can be the one to change the world? Who can tell them that they can achieve anything if they work hard? Who can show them what a combination of a dream, hard work and determination can do?

Is it overzealous parenting? No.

I want my children to know that there is more out there than reality pop shows and soap operas. I want them to know about real life, and real people. They aren’t criticised or laughed at when they talk about the things they want to do, and nobody is telling them they’re wrong; that they’re not cool or that they’ll never achieve their dreams.

The media is good at chipping away at self-confidence. It is all-powerful in telling you how we should act, what we should wear, who we should listen to, what we should do and what we should think. And its constant influence through TV, radio, magazines and social media over so many means that this pressure feeds through as a constant drip, drip, drip no matter what we are doing.

Image is all. Deeds mean nothing. As long as you look the part you’ll be accepted and popular.

We have a television. It isn’t completely off limits. But we do need to be mindful of the rubbish – in all media, mind – which feeds our children. And we do need to be responsible enough to say, “Enough is enough!

Our children should not base their worth on their looks or on their popularity. Every child needs to know that they can make a difference. Every child needs to know that they can aim high. Kids are under a lot of pressure to be accepted. We need to nurture their self-esteem positively. We need role models in the media that they can look up to.

We need mainstream media to stop dumbing our kids down.

Tania Sullivan is author and owner of Larger Family Life. This article originally appeared on Larger Family Life

Further reading:

A short history of trying to regulate an irreverent, unruly and opinionated press

Freedom of expression is not the same as a freedom to mislead

A free press would be a good idea

The Guide to Responsible Media 2012

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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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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Energy

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

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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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