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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

4 Common Items That Can be Reused Again and Again

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reuse reduce recycle plastic bottles etc
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Vanatchanan | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/vanatchanan%20buahom

As a society we are getting much better at taking our obligations to the world and environment around us more seriously. This is undoubtedly a good thing! The effects of climate change are beginning to manifest across the world, and this is turning the issue from an abstract threat into a very real danger. Trying to introduce some greener, more eco-friendly practices into your life isn’t just a great way of doing something beneficial for society and the world around you. It is a wonderful way of engaging positively with the world and carries with it numerous psychological benefits.

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Being a greener, more ecologically friendly person doesn’t require any dramatic life changes. Breaking or making a few small habits is all it takes to make your life a greener one. In this article we look at one of the easiest, yet most effective green practices to get into: reusing everyday items.

Jars and Containers

Glass and metal are widely recycled, and recycling is a good thing! However, consider whether any containers you buy, whether it’s a tub of ice cream or a jar of coffee, can be washed out and reused for something else. Mason jars, for example, can be used to store homemade pasta sauce and can be washed for future use. Once you start thinking about it, you will find endless opportunities to reuse your old containers.

Soda Bottles

An ice-cold soda is a wonderful treat on a hot day, but buying soda can get expensive, and the manufacturing and distribution of the drinks themselves isn’t great for the environment. However, by holding on to your old soda bottles and repurposing them as water bottles, you can save money on drinks, or use them to measure out water for your garden.

Plastic Bags

Most of the time groceries come in paper bags, which are better for the environment than the plastic alternatives, but they are less durable and thus harder to reuse. Whenever the store places your items in a plastic bag, hang onto it so you can reuse the bags again. If you want to take it one step further, consider looking into buying some personalized recycled bags. These bags are designed to last for a long time and are made of recycled materials. They look striking and unique, they’ll turn heads, and maybe even attitudes!

Seeds

If you’re a keen gardener, then you will already probably know how to reseed your plants in order to ensure a fresh crop after each plant’s lifecycle. If you have space in your garden, or haven’t yet tried your hand at gardening, then consider planting a small vegetable plot. Growing your own veggies means that you’ll be helping to cut back on the emissions generated by their transport and production. The best part about growing your own food in this way is that, by harvesting properly and saving the seeds, you can be set up with fresh vegetables for life!

Reusing and recycling common household items is an easy way to make your world a little bit greener. Once you start looking for these opportunities you’ll realize that they’re everywhere!

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Environment

These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money

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Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Stokkete | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/cyano

The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.

Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.

Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale

The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.

Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.

Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI

It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.

Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.

Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.

Implementing green changes without a plan

Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.

Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:

  • How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
  • How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
  • How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
  • How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?

The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.

Not considering the benefits of green printing

Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.

Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:

  • They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
  • They consume less energy than traditional printers.
  • They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.

You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.

Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers

Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.

The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.

You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.

Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.

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