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Divorce Can Harm the Environment, Study Finds

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Statues of couple by Daniel Lobo via Flickr

Divorce rates have risen steadily over the past few years. According to research from Avvo, someone gets divorced every 13 seconds in the world.

Though often a necessary solution, divorce can have a troubling impact on families, and that translates to damage to the environment, surprisingly. The findings link higher carbon use per household directly to the effects of undergoing a divorce.


Understanding the cause and effects could be integral to shifting the negative trend of these numbers.

Results of the Analysis

Researchers at Michigan State University performed an extensive analysis on a variety of randomly selected, cohabiting couples and families around the world to test their use of resources and general efficiency in the home.

When all the data was collected, it was found that American households that had experienced divorce used between 42 and 61 percent more resources per person than before the separation. This amounted to 46 percent more per person for electricity and 56 percent more for water.


The researchers published a paper on their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The article offered an analysis of what it would be like if these couples had stayed together.

The result would have been a savings of 73 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and 627 billion gallons of water for a single year across the entire U.S.

The Cause of Inefficiency

Though it might not make immediate, intuitive sense, when more people live in a household, they tend to use their resources more efficiently. Thus, people who remain married share their resources and use them more wisely.

The stresses of divorce also tend to increase resource consumption in a household. People become less concerned about their habits and more concerned about their personal emotional stability.

Individuals who go through a particularly messy divorce tend to use more resources than those who have an easy time of it. Divorced families also tend to use more rooms per person than the average married family.

When more rooms are used per person, more lights are likely to be left on, showers will last longer, and heat and air conditioning will be less evenly dispersed throughout the house.

This information puts a special emphasis on seeking to be more environmentally friendly within households rather than on a commercial spectrum. “Hopefully this will inform people about the environmental impact of divorce,” Jianguo Liu, an ecologist at MSU and a lead researcher over the study, told the Washington Post.

“For a long time we’ve blamed industries for environmental problems. One thing we’ve ignored is the household.”

What Can Be Done?

The findings put a new emphasis on households to make changes, rather than industries. This makes it difficult for the government to have a role in the process. However, some tax incentive policies have been made available to families to encourage them to conserve their resources.

In addition, energy efficiency in appliances has been booming since the study was published. More and more homes seek to get the Energy Star rating on all their appliances. Consumers who take advantage of this show increased savings in their everyday household energy use.

Spreading the word is also valuable. Consumers must take charge of their own energy consumption in order to make a real difference.

“There’s strong evidence, which emerges clearly in this paper, that merging what otherwise would be separate households will reduce energy and other resource needs,” says Ralph Cavanagh, a lawyer at the advocacy group Natural Resources Defense Council, a major participant in the study. “The best advice to those who are miserable together is not, however, to avoid divorce for the sake of the environment, but to find someone else as quickly as possible.”

Lester Brown, president of the D.C.-based Earth Policy Institute, also encourages people to be more careful in their marriages in order to reduce the impact on the environment and their personal lives. “[The study] would suggest we should be a little more careful when one’s marrying to make sure the marriage is going to last, but that would be counter to the trend we’ve seen in recent decades, at least in this country,” he said.

 

Environment

Want to Connect With Nature? Start by Disconnecting From Busyness

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Connect With Nature

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.

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Environment

6 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Move

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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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