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The Effects of Air Pollution on Humans and the Environment



Air pollution has been on America’s mind for decades, and while air quality has seen massive improvements, it still presents a problem for millions of Americans on a day-to-day basis. Certain metropolitan areas are especially bad, and the natural environment around these areas is also impacted.

The State of Air Pollution Today

Imaging technology from NASA’s Aura Satellite has shown significant improvement in the United States’ air quality over the past ten years. Research has shown that the presence of nitrogen dioxide – one of the worst pollutants – has decreased drastically.

With massive improvements in technology in vehicle engines and power plants, as well as more appropriate regulations surrounding emissions, the issue has gotten better. Unfortunately, we’re not quite there yet, and air pollution continues to show negative effects every day.

How Air Pollution Affects Plants and Animals

Perhaps the most significant effect of air pollution on the environment is the formation of acid rain. When sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide are present in the atmosphere, they form compounds that fall back onto the ground during rainfall.

Acid rain has an effect wherever it lands. When it falls on freshwater ecosystems like rivers and lakes, the water becomes acidic, harming the fish and plant life. Certain animal populations have declined due to acid rain, including mayflies, aquatic birds, salmon, mollusks, and brown trout – among others.

When plants are made toxic by acid rain, animals that feed on them suffer from health problems. But the plants themselves can also suffer ill effects. Air pollution can cause physical injuries, like large bleached areas or lesions on leaves and tree trunks. Many plants – especially lichens – died off entirely in some areas during the height of air pollution in the atmosphere, and these have only recently started to come back.

Air Pollution and Human Health

The air you breathe affects every part of your body. Immediately, breathing toxic air can cause shortness of breath and irritation in your nose and throat. People who suffer from allergies and asthma are especially affected by these problems. Pollution can also aggravate already existing health problems for chronically ill and elderly individuals. Some toxic chemicals can be even more severe. Long-term exposure can cause cancer, birth defects, nerve damage, lung injury, and more.

Air Quality Matters Indoors

In addition to outdoor air pollution, poor indoor air quality is a problem worldwide. Approximately 3 billion people – almost half of the world’s population – heat their homes and cook using biomass fuel and coal. This causes premature deaths and chronic health problems, especially in poorer countries around the world. This is a systemic problem that many nonprofits and community organizers have tasked themselves with addressing.

In developed nations, poor indoor air quality affects those who work in manufacturing plants and other industrial settings. When workers breathe bad air, they suffer from health problems – and companies, in turn, have to deal with significant turnover in their employees, hindering progress and productivity.

Solving the Air Pollution Problem

Fortunately, the solution for poor indoor industrial air quality is actually quite straightforward. By measuring air quality and properly filtering out harmful particulates, companies can purify the air for their employees – improving their health, quality of life, and ability to work effectively.

The problem of outdoor air pollution is complex, but everyone can contribute to the solution in small ways. Consider carpooling, buying energy-efficient products, or switching to solar power – among other solutions. Ultimately, it’s up to all of us to make the air we breathe healthy for everyone.



Want to Connect With Nature? Start by Disconnecting From Busyness



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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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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