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The Best Eco-Friendly Gifts for Kids

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eco-friendly gifts for kids

The planet is swamped with plastic waste, and more trash keeps adding onto the pile. It is high time we learned the value of living a clutter-free life that is also eco-sensitive.

With fewer things and more earth around us, we stand to gain an experience that is more involved with nature, and the generations to come will benefit from a more inhabitable planet.

Eco-friendly living starts in childhood. Childhood habits can shape our relationship with the planet and also create a more value-driven life.

As we prepare for this year’s big holidays, choose gifts that don’t just lie around, but those that teach your child to live sustainably.

 

Eco-friendly gift ideas for kids

Recycled toys

stuffed animal

If your little one really wants a toy, there are ways to make them happy while also making the planet happy. Recycled dolls are made of cotton and stuffed with recycled plastic bottles. They often come with little tags that narrate a backstory to the toy, along with a note on how to save the planet.

Kids will love the comfort of a cotton toy, along with the realness of one that comes with a backstory. Several recycled toy options exist in the market these days, including tiny golf sets, knitted cuddle toys, and miniature boat models. They are made safe for kids, and more importantly, these toys biodegrade.

 

Make your own garden boxes

blond child smelling daffodils

Introduce your kid to the world, growing their own food with a gardening kit.

A gardening kit should contain seeds, soil appropriate for the seeds, and all the mulch and manure needed to prepare the planting ground. The kit could also include a tiny recyclable watering can and little grow bags for households without a big enough backyard.

Gardening kits can be made to accommodate siblings, making it a team activity. This way, kids can start on their own sustainable journey right from childhood.

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Bird kits

birdhouse

Bird kits contain different kinds of bird seeds with which you can teach your kid to interact with birds the next time you go to a park, or even in your backyard.

The bird kit can also have cards to help children identify the birds as they come to eat the seeds.

Interacting with nature involves interacting with the inhabitants. Help your kid develop a bond with the creatures of nature with a birding kit.

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Jigsaw sets

Eco-Friendly Gifts for Kids - jigsaw puzzle

Want to teach your child world geography creatively? Or how about a fun way to learn the shapes? Jigsaw puzzles are great for kids to learn the forms of things on their own.

Putting together the pieces of continents and then creating the entire world map can go a long way in making a world citizen. It might be pocket friendly too.

In fact, you can make the jigsaw puzzle on your own by cutting out the pieces on cardboard. This gift might be suitable for kids who are over six years old.

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Kids’ Books that have a green message

You can find several books in the market designed to introduce the concept of green living to kids.

What better way to encourage a reading habit among your kids, while helping them develop eco-awareness!

Kids’ Books with an Environmental Message

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child reading a book

Whether you’re browsing the library or the shelves of your favorite bookstore, you can find several books designed to introduce the concept of green living to kids.

What better way to encourage a reading habit among your kids, while helping them develop eco-awareness!

10 Autumn Gardening Tips

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10-autumn-gardening-tips

“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love—that makes life and nature harmonize.”

~ George Eliot

Autumn. It’s the time of year for tea, slippers and silent reflection. The world swaps out summer cotton for winter woollies, whimsically lighting pine cones in the fireplace again.  

There is a slight chill in the breeze and short bursts of farewell rain as summer surrenders. Breathtaking hues take over entire mountainsides in golds, and rust, and red, and chocolate.  

The trees in our gardens stand like half-naked sentinels who know the cold is not far off. And we dream of pumpkins and cinnamon and bonfires.

Autumn in the garden is a brilliant distraction from the approaching chill.  

Daily transformations in color and form are fascinating, so grab a spade, an ax, and a wheelbarrow, and take some time to appreciate the beauty of it all.  

Here are 10 Autumn Gardening Tips you don’t want to miss while you’re out there:

Autumn Gardening Tips

Dig in

Autumn is the perfect time to dig in and ready the soil.  

Preparing the ground is easier before the soil freezes over and the rain dries up.  

It is also a good time to move plants around, prepare new flowers beds, and do some elbow-deep weeding in areas you usually neglect.  

It will be worth it come planting time!

 

Mulch, Squelch

crop mulching

The compost pile should grow considerably during the autumn months as the grass clippings, tree cuttings, fallen leaves, and the pruning add to its bulk.  

Use the increased compost volume to spread life over the prepared flower beds.

It is also a great idea to use the grass and leaf cuttings in a mulch.  

Cover 5 – 10 centimeters deep over tender plants, newly planted seeds or bulbs.  

The mulch protects the plants from the harshest of the winter and creates an extra layer of moisture and warmth, too.

It also provides another warm sanctuary for the creatures of your garden ecosystem to hide under.

 

Prune, snap, and chuck

prune-snap-and-chuck-600x398

It’s a cathartic exercise, as well as an essential part of a gardener’s repertoire.  

Swing the ax, snap those branches, and throw it all on the compost heap for an extra burst of eco-kudos.  

The more you cut back, the greater encouragement there is to for the plant to grow in the spring.

It also helps the plant to survive the cold, dry winter months when there are fewer leaves or branches to sustain on meager winter resources.

TIP: Remember not to throw any infected plants on to the compost heap as this could spread through the garden. Rather burn any diseased plants than risk infecting the rest of your organic material in the compost.

 

Got it covered?

frost

If you are in a particularly harsh winter climate location or are subjected to heavy frost, be sure to use protective covers on your most precious plants to help them make it through.

Tender seedlings and perennial shrubs may need a cover like regular frost cloth, an old bed sheet or a screen on the bad weather side.

TIP: Plastic is not recommended as it does not leave any breathing room.

 

Tender and Sweet

Tender-Sweet-seedlings-600x400

Late autumn is a good time to prepare the seedling trays, placing them under a cover, or in a greenhouse-type climate.  

The seedlings will be ready for planting once the worst of the winter is over.

If you have tender young shrubs or trees in the ground, consider covering these in the final few weeks before the real cold sets in.

 

Bulb Heroes

red tulips

Bulbs are quite hardy and may be planted in the ground during the autumn months. 

Tulips, Crocus, Hyacinths, Daffodils, and Snowdrops are perfect autumn-planting, spring-flowering bulbs. Lillies are planted in autumn, too, and should flower in summer.  

Be sure to check with your local nursery about bulbs which won’t make the winter so you know when to dig them up for safe-keeping.

 

Save the Wild Things

birds

Autumn is a trying time for the creatures who rely on titbits from the garden, so pitch in a little for them, too.  

  • Stock up on the bird feed, including overripe fruits and vegetables you will not eat yourself.  
  • Take dormant (slow, or still) butterflies away from heated rooms or walls to non-heated places so they don’t emerge too early from their cycle.
  • Don’t tidy up the garden too much. Leave some places for little birds and creatures to shelter, and for insects to nest.  
  • Plant a clump of conifers. Birds shelter and roost in evergreen conifers during the cold weather such as in winter or during storms.

 

Fertilize

fertilize-soil-600x450

It is a perfect time to fertilize when the leaves are falling.  

Prepare the new flower beds, plant, and prune, and then fertilize the soil so it has time to replenish itself for the rigors of spring.  

Compost and mulch work well with organic fertilizers to restore life to the ground during autumn rest.

 

Water

watering-garden-plants-631x420

The drier seasons are also a great time to look at water-saving methods for both garden and home.  

  • Try out new methods of collection and saving,
  • install rainwater collection tanks,
  • use condensation techniques, fix drainage systems, and
  • look into grey water usage from the shower, baths, and laundry.

 

Hearty Vegetables

vegetables-hearty-health-garden-615x420

Finally, early autumn is the best time to plant winter veg for hearty soups and belly-warming stews.  

Cabbage, onions, broad beans, peas and broccoli are a great addition to the Pinterest-worthy squashes you’ll already be showing off to the neighbors.

Who says gardens are boring? With these autumn gardening tips, you’re on your way to creating a breathtaking yard.

{This article has been updated for freshness and consistency.}

The Benefits of Casein Protein Powder

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Protein shake in a glass with a straw surrounded by strawberries

Ask any fitness enthusiast and you will realize the importance of supplementation post-workout. Most people consume whey protein, which offers many benefits – most notably, an increase in muscle hypertrophy. These benefits have been well documented over the years.

Most people consume protein after a workout and believe that whey protein is the only form, as well that it requires a tight timeline for it to be consumed to receive its benefits.

But did you know that there are other beneficial types of protein? In this article, we explore the many benefits of casein protein, and explain how supplementing with casein protein powder can power up your workouts and help you achieve your health goals.

 

What is Casein protein?

Casein protein is the protein found in curds of milk and is in contrast with the most popular supplement, whey. Unlike whey that is absorbed fast, casein protein is slowly absorbed by our body and has popularly earned the name ‘the bedtime protein’.

The protein is best consumed before bedtime as it provides your body with a slow-releasing source of protein and energy over an extended period of time.

Casein and whey are considered to be two different sides of the same coin. While one is fast absorbing and best suited for after a workout, the other is slow-absorbing and best suited for before bedtime.

There are two forms of casein protein namely micellar casein and hydrolysate casein. While micellar casein is the most natural form of casein protein, hydrolysate casein is a partially broken down protein that allows quick absorption and digestion.

 

More about Micellar Casein protein

woman holding a layered dessert with cottage cheese and fresh fruit

When casein protein is separated from the whey, lactose, and fat in the milk, it results in micellar casein.

Do you remember the rhyme from your childhood ‘Little Miss Muffet, sat on her tuffet’? If you jog back your memory to this childhood rhyme, you will notice that Miss Muffet is eating her curds and whey.

In this context, the curd is micellar casein. The rhyme was first recorded in 1805 and the importance of the casein protein was well recognized back then as well.

Casein and whey come from milk. While whey, the liquid part of the milk, marks up to nearly 20% of the total protein, casein, the curd, accounts for the remaining 80%. Casein is a protein that consists of five different types, namely alpha casein, beta casein, gamma casein, delta casein, and kappa casein, and micellar casein consists of all five types.

Micellar casein is sourced from cow milk. It is a dairy protein with a rich spread of amino acids that is necessary for muscle growth or muscle protein synthesis. It has a natural globular structure with all five of the casein types and accounts for 80% of the protein found in milk while the remaining 20% is whey.

These proteins are called micellar as they naturally aggregate into micelles when consumed in a watery medium. The removal of even one of the caseins, or even modifying one destroys the natural micelle protein.

As whey has been dominating the health supplement market, casein protein has fallen under the radar. Understanding its benefits can help you understand why the slow absorbing micellar protein can help you improve your health.

 

What are the benefits of casein protein powder?

man flexing bicep muscle

Supplementation is an important part of a fitness enthusiast’s diet. Though they are not necessary, they are vital if you want to speed up the process.

While many people still continue to consume the most popular source of protein, whey, Micellar Casein has been gaining more attention recently as the best source of protein supplementation.

Here are some of the reasons why:

 

You can build more muscle

Did you know that muscle growth or muscle repair not only happens within hours of exercise but at all times? Your body starts to repair itself in an anabolic state, or while resting as well.

An infusion of protein supplements to support the ongoing process is considered vital to building more muscles. That’s where casein protein powder comes in!

 

It lasts longer in the immune system

You spend nearly seven to eight hours in bed, sleeping, and during that time, your body’s natural muscle building and repair process continues. Your body effectively runs out of other forms of protein such as whey within four hours of consuming them.

But casein protein lasts longer in the immune system and offers better protein synthesis throughout the night.

 

Improves strength and endurance

The secret to achieving faster muscle gain without any side effects on your health is with the use of a supplement that offers strength and endurance as well. Micellar casein protein supplement offers greater strength and endurance along with better muscle gain, improved resistance training, as well as improved metabolic rate.

 

Other benefits

Some of the other benefits offered by micellar casein include the following.

  • It offers a better fat balance as it improves the body’s metabolic rate
  • They are effective in reducing as well as preventing the effects of enamel erosion in your teeth.
  • They aid in improving bone health
  • They are a healthy alternative to binge eating

 

Final Thoughts

Micellar casein protein powder is an excellent supplement that helps you reach your muscle-building goals. The high-quality protein aids in building muscle mass and while maintaining a lean physique. It is the best solution to increase muscle hypertrophy.

 

How Casein Protein is Made

How Casein Protein is Made

What are the Benefits of Buying Used Furniture?

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benefits of buying used furniture

From paying a lower price for higher quality furniture to reducing your ecological footprint, purchasing used furniture has some serious advantages.

In this post, we highlight the main benefits of buying used furniture and offer tips and tricks for what to look for when you’re in the market for used furniture.

 

The Benefits of buying used furniture

Buying used furniture is often more cost effective, sustainable, and ethical than purchasing brand new items. Learn more about the benefits below.

 

More cost effective

Even compared against fast furniture, which can run ridiculously cheap, when you purchase a used furniture item you will likely spend less money. Oftentimes used furniture has entered the marketplace because someone just wants it out of their home! Individuals will generally price the item to sell. Plus, you’ll have negotiating power.

 

Supports your local economy

When you buy from a thrift store or individual that lives in your neighborhood, you are directly supporting your local economy. By making a local purchase you are putting money directly back into your community, and a strong local economy means a healthier, more vibrant community.

 

Better bang for your buck

In general cheap furniture is well, cheap. It’s not made well and won’t last very long. However, high quality new furniture can be unaffordable. When shopping for used furniture, you can often find reasonably priced, high quality items. Although it may be someone’s trash, it can truly be your treasure.

More sustainable

The furniture industry is one of the least sustainable, most pollutive industries on the planet. Each year Americans discard more than 12 million tons of furniture and furnishings, 80 percent of which end up in the landfill. Additionally, producing new items means harvesting and creating new materials, such as wood and plastic. Purchasing new furniture directly contributes to the fossil fuel industry and to deforestation. If you purchase a used item, new materials need not be generated.

 

Defends human rights

It’s probably pretty clear by now that cheap furniture actually comes at a pretty high price. Not only is it often low quality furniture that doesn’t last long and which wreaks havoc on the environment, but cheap furniture also comes at a human rights cost. Cheap furniture means cheap labor.  Furniture production can involve unfair wages or even child or forced labor. You can avoid supporting human rights violations, by purchasing a used item.

 

Tips for buying used furniture

There are many places where you can buy used furniture. You can often find high quality used furniture at yard sales, estate sales, or online, such as through the app Offerup or Facebook marketplace.

Before making a purchase, consider the tips below. You can also download this helpful used furniture buying checklist to make sure you cover all of your bases.

  1. Avoid items that smell
  2. Always check items for bed bugs
  3. If you know the make and model, check that the item hasn’t been recalled
  4. Make sure the item is as pictured or described
  5. Test it out by opening drawers, sitting in it, or putting some weight on the item
  6. Bring a measuring tape
  7. Consider how you’ll use the item, maybe you can restore or even upcycle it

Check out the graphic below from Apartment Guide, which highlights the benefits of buying used furniture.

guide-to-buying-used-secondhand-furniture

How Farmers Can Reduce Their Environmental Impact

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farming

Climate change is a real threat to farmers across the globe. The climate is changing for farmers everywhere and agriculture is highly dependent on good and predictable weather conditions, including temperatures, rainfall, wind intensity, and other variables.

Farmers are having to fundamentally change the way agriculture is practised as the environment continues to change. Noticeably altered weather patterns, shorter growing seasons, extreme weather conditions, and many other shifts are causing daunting problems for farmers around the world. 

The good news is that farmers can adapt to these changes and can significantly reduce their own environmental impact in the process. This article will look at 6 sustainable ways that farmers can produce more while lowering their impact on climate change.

 

Sustainable Ways Farmers can Reduce Impact on Environment

Improve Energy Efficiency

climate smart farming

Farms, like all businesses, can require large amounts of energy to perform effectively. Farmers can spend a significant amount of money on energy for lighting, space and/or water heating, and other processing areas.

This ultimately creates large operating costs and a high environmental impact. Farmers can lower this by making a few simple changes to how and where their energy is used.

For example, adding and/or improving insulation and heating systems to both homes and farm buildings by investing in a bunded oil tank. Bunded oil tanks are an ideal option if you are looking to store large quantities of oil without causing any harm to the environment.

 

Develop A Management Plan

With farming, it is crucial to be fully aware of your current situation to improve any future outcomes. Farms need to have a sound management plan to increase their output, combat food insecurity, run effectively, lower operation costs, and reduce their climate impact.

A baseline assessment can help farm managers achieve a clear understanding of how the farm operates, and therefore reveal which areas it can run more efficiently while producing more food.

To get a farm running more effectively, farmers need to be lowering greenhouse gas emissions and producing more food with the land already in use. This lowers the need for fresh farmland and clearing of forests. 

 

Improve Water Consumption

In 2020, agriculture accounts for 70% of all global freshwater withdrawals. A supply of freshwater is vital for any farming operation.

Climate change is causing water to become increasingly scarce. There are a number of climate-smart agriculture practises that farmers can adopt to promote their water conservation.

This includes planting a buffer of trees and/or bushes along streams and rivers to prevent erosion and contamination from crop runoff. Another climate-smart water technique is to treat any wastewater that is caused by agricultural processing before it is released back into waterways.

Responsible water practices will not only benefit the farm and its operations, but it will also support the health and wellbeing of the surrounding communities.

 

Focus on Soil 

In climate-smart farming, the soil is treated almost as if it were a crop.

Fertile soil is highly beneficial as it imparts better flavour and a higher nutritional value to food. Healthy soil also holds higher amounts of moisture, which helps to keep plant roots hydrated during dry periods.

Soil conservation methods, such as contour planting or no-till farming, reduce levels of soil erosion, as these methods help to keep the soil in place during heavy rains or floods, which is an increasing concern due to climate change.

Regular natural compost applications will also enrich a farm’s soil and minimise the need for commercial fertilizers. This all equates to increased climate resilience for farms and improved soil for years down the road.

 

Focus on Trees

climate smart farming

Trees are of utmost importance for farms. They can act as windbreaks to reduce soil erosion, enrich the farm’s soil, filter water which results in improved water quality, provide shade for farmworkers and other shade-loving plants, create habitat for wildlife, store greenhouse gasses, and so much more.

It has been shown that 80% of deforestation is caused by agricultural expansion. The conversion from forest to cropland produces a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions. So, farmers should aim to lessen the need to expand their farms. The focus for farmers should shift to producing higher yields as this will negate the need to clear forests and will keep the greenhouse gases sequestered in the forest.

 

Increase Agricultural Diversity

The more diverse an agricultural system, the greater is its ability to adapt to climate change.

Farmers should shift from focusing the farm on one kind of production (crops, livestock, or forestry, etc) and instead think about using integrated systems that combine crops, livestock, and forestry. Integrated systems can produce food, energy, fibre and wood in the same area, at the same time or in rotation. This integrated way of farming provides many benefits.

For instance, integrated systems can improve a farm’s resilience by refining the local micro-climate by reducing its temperature and increasing precipitation and water availability.

Increased agricultural diversity can also reduce the impact of extreme weather events on crops, livestock, and other products. And it reduces soil erosion, improves productivity, and provides additional socioeconomic benefits by increasing the number of products a farmer can produce.

With all these benefits, farmers should have no trouble getting on board with climate conscious farming.   

Sources:

 

Unique Eco-Friendly Building Materials for Green Home Construction

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When designing a home with the aim of being as environmentally friendly as possible, choosing the right materials is the first step. While green design features like energy-efficient lighting and solar panels are well known and definitely useful, a variety of lesser-known green building materials can also have a huge effect on a home’s environmental footprint.

For example, materials like stone, straw, and adobe brick are inspiring renewed interest for their ecological sustainability, and other materials like shipping container scraps, upcycled plastic, and earth-packed tires are creating new possibilities for materials that would otherwise occupy space in landfills. 

We’ll detail a few of these materials below, but definitely check out our infographic at the bottom of this post for a complete rundown. 

 

Bamboo

bamboo-1

Bamboo has been used for human dwellings for centuries, but it is generating new interest for several reasons.

First, bamboo itself is a healthy part of many ecosystems, providing stability for soil and refuge for many forms of wildlife. Beyond that, bamboo is a sustainable building material, since it grows very quickly and requires relatively few resources. Even though bamboo grows quickly, it is an extraordinarily resilient material: It’s more durable than concrete and some varieties are stronger than steel. 

 

Earth-packed Tires

earth-packed-tyres-1

While using sustainable, natural materials is clearly beneficial for the environment, it’s also important for us to find ways to reuse materials that would otherwise be wasted. An example of a relatively new and creative building material is earth-packed tires, which involves taking used tires and filling them with earth bags.

With this sort of material, you can create a unique style of building known as an “earthship home,” and there are even entire communities of earthship dwellers in states like New Mexico. Due to its natural insulation, earth-packed tires can help regulate temperature and reduce the need for electricity. 

 

Mycelium

mycelium-1

In addition to recycled and common building materials, environmentalists are also seeking new natural building materials to help fuel sustainable growth. An example of an innovative new material is mycelium, which is the vegetative root structure of certain kinds of fungus.

Mycelium is a sustainable resource, widely available all over the planet and extremely fast-growing. Additionally, mycelium is stronger than concrete, so while it may not yet be commonly used in buildings, it may represent a future in which nature and human dwellings are more tightly intertwined. 

Check out the infographic below from The Zebra to learn more about various green building materials. 

Eco-Friendly Building Materials

5 Ways to Guarantee Your Solar Panels Operate at Their Optimum

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solar power efficiency

Solar panels are an effective way to cut your carbon footprint as well as your expenses. To entirely exploit the available solar energy, the solar panels must operate at an optimum level.

There are a few hacks to ensure the optimum output from the solar panels. This article highlights five various methods of solar panel optimization.

 

5 Ways to Optimize Your Solar Panels

Use high-efficiency Solar Panels

Using solar panels that are right for your requirements is a battle half-won!

Some solar panels are cheaper while some offer higher watt per square foot for more price. You have to open the spreadsheet and calculate the figures before a purchase.

The goal is to reduce your electricity bills. Therefore, act wisely before the purchase of solar panels and make sure that you are getting the cheapest electricity from a reputable manufacturer. Low-cost solar panels with fewer energy outputs might be uneconomical.

 

Make sure the solar panels are clean

Make sure the solar panels are cleanBy keeping the surface of the solar panels clean, you need to ensure that there is more surface area for them to absorb the sunlight.  This, in turn implies that more electricity will be generated.

Dust and other elements cause shading. “Due to shading, the solar panels lose up to 25% of their capacity”, states a report by National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Periodic inspections or using a monitoring service will warn you of any such inefficiency in the solar panels.

Moreover, to avoid shading, you must clean your solar panels regularly. For cleaning purposes, use warm water and soap or use a car wash jet if the rooftop has the space for it.

 

Keep the solar panels cool

Solar panels are made of semiconductors. Semiconductors have a nature to decrease performance with rising temperature.

That’s why CPUs slow down with overheating. But solar panels can’t be used without the sun, so they evidently they get warmer. Therefore, there must be at least 7-inches of space between the solar panels and the roof for natural cooling.

There is a range of cooling equipment available in the market. You can buy one if there is an absolute requirement.

 

The orientation of the Solar Panel

optimize solar panels

To get the most out of the solar panels, it has to point directly towards the sun and make a perpendicular with the rays of sunlight. The solar panels are fixed on the roof while the sun keeps changing position (we all know the Earth actually changes positions, but you get it!).

So to ensure the maximum production of energy, the solar panels need to be oriented with respect to the sun’s movement. For example, during winters in the northern hemisphere, the sun appears to be at a lower height.

This is because the atmosphere during winters is dense, scattering the sunlight. For any solar panels in such regions, less energy is produced at this time.

 

The Azimuth and Zenith Orientation

azimuth_solar_oriontation

Azimuth is the compass angle of the sun as it moves from east to west. It is calculated with respect to true south and the position of the sun for the Northern hemisphere and vice versa.

At solar noon, the azimuth = 0 degree, means the sun is at true south for the northern hemisphere and true north for the southern hemisphere.

Zenith is the angle of elevation from ground level looking up, towards the sun. It varies according to the time of the day. Zenith is maximum at solar noon.

The orientation of the solar panels, also referred to as azimuth setting, can be done in a number of ways. It varies from place to place.

zenith_solar_oriontation

The Tilt or zenith setting is calculated after the azimuth setting is completed. This is an important factor in determining energy production. The minimum angle of tilt should be 15 degree and maximum 62 degrees.

azimuth tilt

It is very important to note that there should not be any shadows over the solar panel while adjusting. Include the surrounding in calculations.

 

Use better battery solutions

Most of the energy produced by the solar panels is not used immediately. The energy produced by the solar panels is stored in batteries.

If the batteries and inverters are not efficient, the whole system loses energy. So, to increase the effectiveness of the solar panels the storage solution must be efficient. Newer battery systems have better capacities and longevity, and utilize the latest technologies to give you better value for your money.

 

In conclusion

Everything needs maintenance and a little effort on your part. Little efforts, like the ones mentioned above, can yield immense benefits for you.

Employ the above-mentioned hacks and you will surely feel the difference in your solar panels’ performance.

{This article has been updated for freshness and consistency.}

7 Eco-Friendly Habits That Also Improve Your Health

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Do you need to improve your overall health? Why not become a tree hugger? Many Eco-friendly habits that benefit the planet also do wonders for your well-being. 

Folk wisdom long realized what modern science is only beginning to understand — acts of kindness elevate the giver as well as the recipient. What can you do to give back to Mother Earth while getting physically and mentally healthy?

Here are seven activities that pull double duty. 

1. Start a Garden

eco-friendly habits - gardening

During the pandemic, seemingly everyone transformed into amateur survivalists, but knowing how to grow food at home is one of the most earth-friendly and pragmatic skills to adopt. It also ranks up there health-wise. 

Growing food independently cuts down on your trips to the market and reduces produce shipping needs — both of which save on carbon emissions. Transporting lettuce and other needed items to the store produces 3% of global gas emissions. If you and your neighbors all plant a plot, you can exchange seeds and collaborate on an area compost bin to eliminate the need for fertilizer. Plus, you can walk two doors down to trade some romaine for a few carrots. 

As a bonus, puttering in the garden burns calories. Heavy-duty hoeing and weeding qualify as a full-body workout. At day’s end, you get to refuel with organic vegetables and fruit for nourishment. I’ve lost track of how many wins that is! 

 

2. Eat a Plant-Based Diet

Part of preventative care entails eating a healthy diet, much of which can come primarily from plants for both ecological and health reasons. Meat production puts considerable strain on environmental resources — cows create a ton of methane, which depletes the ozone layer more quickly than carbon. Plus, it leads to clearing rainforests for pastureland, further endangering the planet’s protective layer. 

Choosing to cut down on meat consumption can reduce your heart disease and cancer risk while protecting the earth and its creatures.

If you choose to eat meat, try to source it locally, as locally sourced foods tend to be freer of chemicals and additives, and local farms typically treat their livestock better as well.

The World Health Organization classifies processed meats like lunch meats are a Class 1 carcinogen — even more deadly — so swap the ham sandwich in your brown bag for a salad or locally sourced turkey sandwich! 

 

3. Go Hiking

If you want to inspire green behavior, take a hike. Research shows that people who spend time outdoors in parks, woodlands and beaches adopt more eco-friendly habits and practices than those who do not. 

For the most effective results, bring your children if you have them. Those who grow up in families who cherish the natural world are likely to carry forward their sustainable habits into adulthood. The fresh air and exercise improve your mental and physical health by busting blue moods and helping your body produce endorphins. 

 

4. Pick Up Litter

Why not go a step further on your next walk and make it an eco-trek by carrying an inexpensive grabber and a container for trash? Your heart will adore the cardiovascular activity, and your neighbors will thank you for improving property values by keeping the neighborhood tidy.

Make sure to sort and recycle any items that you can save from the landfill. 

 

5. Reduce and Reuse

Did you lose your job or find your hours reduced during the pandemic? Guess what? You can save a ton of money on paper towels by cutting up old, stained clothing into rags for cleaning. You also save a considerable number of trees, and your cardiovascular and nervous system will rejoice when fewer stress hormones flood them as you try to make your weekly shopping list. 

You can find multiple ways to cut financial stress — which damages physical health — by reducing your consumption and reusing the resources you have on hand.

There is no need to buy lunch sacks for pet waste disposal if you save what you usually toss from deliveries and empty food containers. Why not learn how to dry and save the seeds from your fruits and veggies, too, instead of running to the nursery? 

 

6. Hang a Bird Feeder

bird feeder

Your pet kitty was right — watching birds flock around a feeder is soothing. If you haven’t tried this $2 to $3 mental health booster yet, the investment is worth it.

Plus, our feathered friends need our help. The Trump administration recently moved to dismantle wild bird protections, and larks and nightingales need citizens on their sides. 

 

7. Volunteer

When you volunteer, your body produces more oxytocin. This so-called “cuddle” hormone increases your feelings of well-being and decreases anxiety and depression. Environmental organizations need helpers — if you don’t feel safe venturing in public yet, some have things you can do from your couch, like phone and text campaigns. 

 

Adopt Eco-Friendly Habits and Reap the Health Benefits

The beauty of sustainable habits is that they also benefit human health. Do good for the planet today and reap the rewards. 

A Greener Future After the Pandemic: How to Help Cities Go Green As they Grow and Change

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sustainable city

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed just about everything about American life. From lockdowns and quarantines to business closures, mask mandates, and social distancing, daily life looks nothing like it did just a few months ago.

Some of the changes that have come with the pandemic are new, but the spread of the novel coronavirus has also speeded up some changes that were already taking place in American cities. The truth is that our cities have been changing in unique ways, and the pandemic has helped bring some of those changes into even sharper focus.

And as all these changes are happening, they present us with an opportunity. If this is a time of such rapid change for cities, why not take advantage of it, and help shape our cities’ futures to be cleaner, greener, and more sustainable? 

The first step toward doing that is to know exactly what we’re working with. These are the forces that are reshaping American cities, and how all of us can help make them greener as they grow and change.

 

These 3 Forces Are Reshaping American Cities

These forces aren’t happening because of the COVID-19 pandemic — they were in play well before the world went on lockdown. But the pandemic is exacerbating some of them in new ways, and might just be speeding up the rate of change for some cities.

Here are three major forces we’ve identified as drivers behind the changes happening in our cities.

 

People Are Using Their Living Space Differently

Pandemic lockdowns brought with them a huge increase in public interest for skills and hobbies like baking, sewing, and carpentry. And with that return to “simpler” pleasures and activities, people have also changed how they use their living space.

As they’ve been spending more time at home during quarantine — and living more simply in the process — we’ve seen trends in people embracing minimalism. In fact, one study found that quarantine made 78 percent of Americans realize they had more belongings than they need, and as a result, more than half of people got rid of some things this year.

 

People Are Moving Out of Cities

A Harris poll of 2,050 people showed that in late April, 39 percent of American urban dwellers had considered moving somewhere less densely populated. Amid stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, many people appear to have longed for more space, and some have actually left America’s biggest cities, like New York, in favor of living in suburbs or even the countryside, where there are fewer people, and there’s more room to roam.

 

Cities Have More Vacant Spaces Than Ever Before

As people move out of cities, vacancy rates are skyrocketing. In San Francisco, one of the most densely populated cities — and one of the most competitive rental markets — in the world, apartment vacancies jumped from 3.9 percent in February to 6.2 percent in May.

The same goes for office space, as businesses have pivoted to remote work to encourage social distancing. Office vacancies in San Francisco increased from 3.7 percent at the end of 2019, to 6.6 percent in the second quarter of 2020.

 

How To Make Cities Greener as they Grow and Change

While these changes may not sound positive, they actually give urban dwellers a great opportunity to help their cities become more green. Here are some ways you can take advantage of these changes and support sustainability where you live.

 

Buy Local

Not only does buying local products and food support businesses in your own community — it also reduces carbon emissions, since goods have to travel less distance to get to you.

 

Rethink Travel

International travel isn’t possible for most Americans right now, and from a greenhouse gas perspective, that’s a good thing! This is a good time to think about how to travel more sustainably, like by taking local trips that don’t require flying.

 

Recycle Unwanted Items

If you’re among the many Americans getting rid of some of their belongings during quarantine, be sure to dispose of those things in sustainable ways.

Look for recycling programs for broken, unwanted, or unneeded electronics. Donate used clothes to thrift stores and vintage shops. Recycle plastics and other materials whenever possible. Don’t just throw things away so they end up in landfills.

 

Get Creative With Vacant Space

In addition to the newly vacant space we’re already seeing in cities, experts at Moody’s Analytics predict that vacancies will skyrocket going into 2021, meaning there will likely be even more space in cities sitting empty.

This is our chance to think creatively about how to use vacant housing, office, and outdoor space in more sustainable ways.

Maybe that means turning a now-unused parking lot into a community garden. Maybe it means hosting pop-up stores for local businesses in vacant commercial spaces.

 

Now’s Our Chance To Make Our Cities More Green

While a lot about the future is uncertain, especially now, one thing is clear: We have a lot of opportunity, even amid this uncertainty, to make our cities greener.

Learn more tips, tricks, and strategies for living a more sustainable life at Greener Ideal

 

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