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How Your Family Can Easily Transition to a Greener Life

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children By vastateparksstaff via Flickr

Regardless of what Kermit may say, being green is a lot easier than you might think. The key to making a successful transition to living green is to do it in small steps — or as Kermit would say, by taking “tadpole hops.” If you set monthly goals for you and your family to take one step toward living a totally green life, it will be no problem to master.

Here are some suggestions on how you can make the change:


1. Clean Green

Whether you clean daily or just once a week, there are options for natural cleaners that will not only make you Martha Stewart’s best friend, but will also be better for you and the planet. There are manufactured products, such as Method, that make biodegradable, naturally derived, and non-toxic household cleaners, laundry soaps and more.

If you don’t have time to run to the store, you probably already have what you need at home to make your own cleaners. You can just do quick search on Pinterest and find a variety of natural cleaning options.

2. Shop Green


You might already savvy at bringing your own bags to the grocery store, but if not, this is the one of the easiest ways to start going green. Most large grocery chains now offer reusable shopping bags, or you can purchase them from a variety of websites.

Because they are bigger than plastic bags, you can put more in them, likely reducing the number of trips needed to unload. These bags also often make attractive choices for storing your items for activities like a trip to the beach or even as a gift bag.

Additionally, if you do have a bunch of plastic grocery bags sitting at home, don’t throw them out. Check to see if there is a drop-off at the store for you to recycle them.

3. Drive Green

When it comes to alternative fuels for cars, the options that will be available in the next decade are incredible. Gasoline will remain the most expensive and available alternative, at least in the short term, but it will soon be left behind by biodiesel, methanol, ethanol, compressed natural gas, hydrogen and electricity. In 2012, Americans used 13% less gas — more than 15.9 billion gallons less, than they had in 2007 because of the availability of alternative fuels.

4. Eat Green

Literally and figuratively, this is one of the healthiest suggestions for going green. Consider starting a garden, either in your yard or as part of a community garden, and grow your own fruits and vegetables. You can be sure your garden isn’t sprayed with dangerous chemicals. Also, if everyone grew a garden, there would be fewer large trucks on the road using gasoline and emitting pollutants to deliver vegetables and fruits to grocery stores.

If you don’t have space for a garden and can’t find a community one near you, consider looking for local farmer’s markets in your area.

5. Dress Green

You don’t necessarily have to dress in green, but be aware of where your clothing is made and from what materials. Buying clothes that are made in your own country reduces the number of times products will need to be flown or shipped in from outside the country. It also provides stateside jobs while at the same time reducing the sweatshop and the underage, underpaid jobs from outsourced clothing manufacturers. It increases the economic purchasing power for the country, too.

Dressing and shopping green also means buying from companies that practice good corporate social responsibility and are mindful of reducing the amount of chemicals and toxic waste they use and generate.

6. Unwind Green

Choose one long weekend a month, from the end of your business day on Friday to the moment you walk in the office on Monday to disconnect from all social media, telephones and televisions. Turn the computers and tablets off and get outside. Go for a walk, a picnic or a bicycle ride. Go watch the kids in Little League play baseball even if you don’t have a kid on the team. No matter what you decide to do, just do it outside.

7. Recycle Green

Recycling is more than just turning in plastic, aluminum and glass. Recycling green also means changing the way you use and purchase those items. For example, instead of getting a paper or Styrofoam coffee cup at your favorite coffee shop drive-thru in the morning, make your own coffee or ask if they will fill your own reusable plastic or glass thermos. Bring a coffee mug from home to use for the office coffee bar. Do you get soda drinks on the go at lunch? Bring your own reusable tumbler.

8. Water Green

Whether you live in a tropical rainforest, or in the desert, there are ways you can both recycle water or use it in a green fashion. This includes harvesting rainwater, showering and washing clothes less often. You can also use the drain-off from washing laundry to water your lawn and gardens.

Additionally, you might want to consider incorporating drought-resistant plants into your landscaping designs and use a hoop or greenhouse for your garden plants so they won’t lose as much water to evaporation.

Living green can be easier than you expect when you take small steps. The options are limitless.

Bobbi Peterson

Bobbi Peterson loves writing and regularly posts on her blog Living Life Green. She’s also a freelance writer, green living advocate and environmentalist. You can find more from Bobbi on Twitter.

 

Energy

Are the UK Governments Plans for the Energy Sector Smart?

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The revolution in the energy sector marches on, wind turbines and solar panels are harnessing more renewable energy than ever before – so where is it all leading?

The UK government have recently announced plans to modernise the way we produce, store and use electricity. And, if realised, the plans could be just the thing to bring the energy sector in line with 21st century technology and ideologies.


Central to the plans is an initiative that will see smart meters installed in homes and businesses the length and breadth of the country – and their aim? To create an environment where electricity can be managed more efficiently.

The news has prompted some speculation about how energy suppliers will react and many are predicting a price war. This could benefit consumers of electricity and investors, many of whom may be looking to make a profit by trading energy company shares online using platforms such as Oanda – but the potential for good news doesn’t end there.

Introducing New Technology

The plan, titled Smart Systems and Flexibility is being rolled out in the hope that it will have a positive impact in three core areas.

  • To offer consumers greater control by making smart meters available for all homes and businesses by 2020. Energy users will be able to monitor, control and record the amount of energy they use.
  • Incentivise energy suppliers to change the manner in which they buy electricity, to offer more smart tariffs and more off-peak periods for energy consumption.
  • Introduce new standards for electrical appliances – it is hoped that the new wave of appliances will recognise when electricity is at its cheapest and at its most expensive and respond accordingly.

How the Plans Will Affect Solar Energy

Around 7 million houses in the UK have solar panels and the government say that their plan will benefit them as they will be able to store electricity on batteries. The stored energy can then be used by the household and excess energy can be exported to the national grid – in this instance lower tariffs or even payment for the excess energy will bring down annual costs significantly.


The rate of return on energy exported to the national grid is currently between 6% and 10%, but there are many variables to take into account, such as, the cost of battery storage and light levels. Still, those with state-of-the-art solar electricity systems could end up with an annual profit after selling their excess energy.

The Internet of Things

Much of what the plans set out to achieve are linked to the now ubiquitous “internet of things” – where, for example, appliances and heating systems are connected to the internet in order to make them function more smartly.

Companies like Hive have already made great inroads into this type of technology, but the road that the government plans are heading down, will, potentially, go much further -blockchain technology looms and has already proved to be a game changer in the world of currency.

Blockchain Technology

It has already been suggested that the peer to peer selling of energy and exporting it to the national grid may eventually be done using blockchain technology.

“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”

Don and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Revolution (2016)

The upshot of the government’s plans for the revolution of the energy sector, is that technology will play an indelible role in making it more efficient, more flexible and ultimately more sustainable.

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Energy

4 Case Studies on the Benefits of Solar Energy

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Demand for solar energy is growing at a surprising rate. New figures from SolarPower Europe show that solar energy production has risen 50% since the summer of 2016.

However, many people are still skeptical of the benefits of solar energy.Does it actually make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint? Is it actually cost-effective for the company over the long-run?


A number of case studies have been conducted, which indicate solar energy can be enormously beneficial. Here are some of the most compelling studies on the subject.

1.     Boulder Nissan

When you think of companies that leverage solar power, car dealerships probably aren’t the first ones that come to mind. However, Boulder Nissan is highly committed to promoting green energy. They worked with Independent Power Systems to setup a number of solar cells. Here were the results:

  • Boulder Nissan has reduced coal generated electricity by 65%.
  • They are on track to run on 100% renewable energy within the next 13 years.
  • Boulder Nissan reduced CO2 emissions by 416,000 lbs. within the first year after installing their solar panels.

This is one of the most impressive solar energy case studies a small business has published in recent years. It shows that even small companies in rural communities can make a major difference by adapting solar energy.

2.     Valley Electric Association

In 2015, the Valley Electric Association (VEA) created an 80-acre solar garden. Before retiring from the legislature, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid praised the new project as a way to make the state more energy dependent and reduce our carbon footprint.


“This facility will provide its customers with the opportunity to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from clean energy produced in Nevada,” Reid told reporters with the Pahrump Valley Times. “That’s a step forward for the Silver State, but it also proves that utilities can work with customers to provide clean renewable energy that they demand.”

The solar energy that VEA produced was drastically higher than anyone would have predicted. SolarWorld estimates that the solar garden created 32,680,000 kwh every year, which was enough to power nearly 4,000 homes.

This was a major undertaking for a purple state, which may inspire their peers throughout the Midwest to develop solar gardens of their own. It will reduce dependency on the electric grid, which is a problem for many remote states in the central part of the country.

3.     Las Vegas Casinos

A number of Las Vegas casinos have started investing in solar panels over the last couple of years. The Guardian reports that many of these casinos have cut costs considerably. Some of them are even selling the energy back to the grid.

“It’s no accident that we put the array on top of a conference center. This is good business for us,” Cindy Ortega, chief sustainability officer at MGM Resorts told Guardian reporters. “We are looking at leaving the power system, and one of the reasons for that is we can procure more renewable energy on the open market.”

There have been many benefits for casinos using solar energy. They are some of the most energy-intensive institutions in the world, so this has helped them become much more cost-effective. It also helps minimize disruptions to their customers learning online keno strategies in the event of any problems with the electric grid.

4.     Boston College

Boston College has been committed to many green initiatives over the years. A group of researchers experimented with solar cells on different parts of the campus to see where they could produce the most electricity. They discovered that the best locationwas at St. Clement’sHall. The solar cells there dramatically. It would also reduce CO2 emissions by 521,702 lbs. a year and be enough to save 10,869 trees.

Boston College is exploring new ways to expand their usage of solar cells. They may be able to invest in more effective solar panels that can generate far more solar energy.

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