Last June, the U.S. Army went public with a new plan to curb wasteful energy use and become more sustainable, to the benefit of military operations and civilian well-being, alike. By conserving natural resources, including precious water, land, and fuel, the military becomes more effective on and off the battlefield.
According to the published guidelines, the Army hopes to become more educated on energy efficiency, optimize its current processes, and lead innovation in sustainable technologies. In fact, those interested in contributing to a sustainable future might consider enlisting to further the military’s substantial efforts.
Indeed, the military at large has started to adopt a wealth of green tech. Even before this most recent published commitment to environmental efforts, the military has experimented and integrated useful, resource-saving materials and gadgets. Here are some of the most fascinating and most promising sustainable changes to the military to date.
Sustainability not only concerns the environment, but it encourages the sustained existence of human communities, as well. The American military is enthusiastic about promoting strength and stability in foreign regions, and to do that, it has encouraged the concepts of “soft power” and “soft energy.”
By working together, international government agencies can assist developing nations in establishing steadfast economies, but no one will find success by relying on ever-diminishing stores of fossil fuels, or hard energy. Instead, the military and all global institutions must walk the soft energy path, focusing on energy efficiency to craft a more secure future. This newfound military approach, which relies on cooperation rather than confrontation, is sure to aid in the military’s sustainability efforts.
The military relies on a number of structures to maintain operations, but construction is undoubtedly one of the most resource-intensive activities humans participate in. Also, often many of the compounds are used only temporarily. Fortunately, the military is developing more sustainable construction practices, including durable, lightweight, reusable materials, like fabric. In fact, custom fabric buildings are already in use by the public, especially in industrial structures similar to those on military bases.
The cost of oil has been climbing for decades, and despite the recent drop in domestic prices at the pump, the military still pays a premium for fossil fuels abroad. For this reason, the military has always been keen on adopting less expensive, more renewable, alternative sources of energy.
Currently, the most widely used renewable energy comes from photovoltaics, which transmute sunlight into electricity for use in base camps around the world. The military also continues to experiment with wind power, which can be more difficult to manage in mobile sites, and waste-to-fuel tech, which resolves two major sustainability problems with one solution.
Though many civilians might not realize it, the military does produce some hazardous waste during its operations. In the past, much of that waste was limited to so-called “sacrifice zones,” which were bereft of life and therefore believed safe, which wasn’t always the case.
Though the military continues to produce waste, much like every industry, it is participating in several initiatives to clean and contain its prior pollution. Additionally, quite a bit of military funding is devoted to research into mitigating waste production ― perhaps by using it to produce new energy, as described above.
Currently, one of the most exciting developments in military sustainability is the smart camp: a military base of operations run entirely from a smart grid. Called SAGE, or the Smart and Green Energy for Base Camps, this program takes advantage of most of the technologies described above to create a fully-functional base with a fraction of the environmental impact. SAGE hopes to reduce energy use between 30 and 60 percent at camps inhabited by between 600 and 3,000 soldiers.
Relying on open-source software, utility hardware, and a bevy of well-known resource-conserving tech (like renewable energy, energy storage, and energy recycling) these smart camps cost less than $170,000 each, which could save the military millions of dollars in operational costs every year. Plus, the military is hopeful that many of its smart camp tech could be tweaked for civilian use. Already, a sizable portion of the smart camp’s green tech is used in American military camps around the world, so it won’t be long until active-duty soldiers are living and loving a fully sustainable lifestyle in a SAGE camp.
Want to Connect With Nature? Start by Disconnecting From Busyness
Have you ever found yourself staring at one of your (many) devices and feeling slightly disgusted with how much time you waste on technology? If so, you aren’t alone. We all have moments like these and it’s important that we use them as motivation to change – especially if we want to be more connected with nature.
How Busyness Impacts Your Connection With Nature
Whether you realize it or not, you live an ultra connected life. Between smart phones, tablets, computers, and wearable devices, you’re never very far from some sort of technology that can connect you to the internet or put you in touch with other people. That’s just the world we live in.
While it could be argued that this sort of omnipresent connectivity is a positive thing, it’s also pretty clear that being permanently tethered to technology impacts our ability to strip away distractions and connect with nature.
When you’re always within arm’s reach of a device, you feel a sense of busyness. Whether it’s browsing your social media feed, uploading a picture, reading the news, or responding to an email, there’s always something to do. As someone who wants to spend more time in nature, this is problematic.
4 Practical Ways to Disconnect
If you want to truly connect with nature and live a greener lifestyle, you have to be proactive about finding ways to disconnect. Here are a few practical suggestions:
1. Switch to a New Phone Plan
It’s not always practical to totally unplug from the world. Family and work responsibilities mean you can’t go off the grid and continue to fulfill your responsibilities. Having said that, there are some ways to scale back.
One suggestion is to switch to a prepaid phone plan. When you have a prepaid phone plan, you’re far less likely to spend hours and hours of your time making phone calls, sending texts, and surfing the web. It forces you to be more conscious of what you’re doing.
2. Get Rid of Social Media
Social media is one of the biggest time wasters for most people. Whether you realize it or not, it’s also a huge stressor. You’re constantly being exposed to the best snapshots of everyone else’s lives, which makes you feel like you’re missing out on something (even when you aren’t).
If you want to feel a sense of relief and free yourself up to spend more time in nature, get rid of social media. Don’t just delete the apps off your phone – actually disable your accounts. It’s a bold, yet necessary step.
3. Create Quiet Hours
If you aren’t able to get rid of social media and disable various online accounts, the next best thing you can do is establish quiet hours each day where you totally detach from technology. You should do this for a minimum of three hours per day for best results.
4. Build Community
Do you know why we’re drawn to social media and our devices? Whether consciously or subconsciously, it’s because we all want to be connected to other people. But do you know what’s better than connecting with people online? Connecting with them in person.
As you build real life, person-to-person relationships, you’ll feel less of a need to constantly have your eyes glued to a screen. Connect with other people who have an appreciation for nature and bond over your mutual interests.
Untether Your Life
If you find yourself constantly connected to a device, then this is probably a clear indicator that you aren’t living your best life. You certainly aren’t enjoying any sort of meaningful connection with nature. Now’s as good a time as any to untether your life and explore what a world free from cords, screens, and batteries is really like.
6 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Move
Moving can be a stressful and challenging time. No matter how many times you’ve done it in the past, the process of packing up, transporting, and unpacking isn’t very fun. It’s also not very eco-friendly. As you prepare for your next move, there are things you can do to ensure you leave less of a footprint behind.
6 Tips for a Greener Move
Because of the stress and pressure felt when moving, it’s pretty common for people to rush through the process and focus on getting it done. In fact, a lot of people take an “at all costs” approach; they’ll do whatever it takes to make the process as cheap and fast as possible. Don’t be one of those people. It doesn’t take much effort to turn a standard move into an eco-friendly move.
1. Maximize Each Trip
When moving across town, it’s imperative that you make as few trips as possible. Each trip requires more gas, more emissions, and more waste, and more time.
If you’re taking your personal vehicle, consider pulling a trailer behind it. You’d be surprised how much stuff you can fit into a small trailer. Not only will it make your move greener, but it’ll also save you a lot of time.
2. Donate Things You Don’t Want to Keep
The longer you live somewhere, the more junk you accumulate. This isn’t always obvious until you start packing for a big move. Instead of bringing all of these things with you to your next home, get rid of the stuff you don’t need! If the items are useful, donate them. If the items don’t have much value, toss them.
3. Reuse Moving Boxes
Not only are moving boxes expensive, but they’re also wasteful. If you need a bunch of cardboard boxes, consider looking around on Craigslist, asking friends, or checking the dumpsters behind stores. You can usually find a bunch of recycled boxes of all different shapes and sizes. Here are 12 places you can get them for free.
4. Get Creative With Packing
Who says you need moving boxes? You may find that it’s possible to do most of your move without all that cardboard. Things like storage containers, trashcans, filing cabinets, buckets, and dressers can all store items. Blankets and sheets can be used in lieu of bubble wrap to prevent your items from getting damaged.
5. Use Green Cleaning Supplies
Once you arrive at your new place, resist the urge to pull out a bunch of harsh chemicals to clean the place. You can do yourself (and the planet) a favor by using green cleaning supplies instead. Ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and ammonia are great to start with.
6. Forward Your Mail ASAP
Don’t delay in forwarding your mail from your previous address to your new one. Not only is it wasteful for the Postal Service to route your mail to a place where you don’t live, but the next owner is probably just going to toss your letters in the trash.
Moving Doesn’t Have to be Wasteful
Most people only move once every few years. Some people will go a decade or more without a move. As a result, the process of moving often feels strange and new. The less experience you have with it, the less likely it is that you’ll be as efficient as you should. But instead of just diving into the process blind, take some time to learn about what an eco-friendly move looks like. That way, you can leave behind the smallest footprint possible.
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