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3 Reasons Why the Ocean is Recovering During Covid-19

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sea turtle with covid mask on

The Covid-19 pandemic has destroyed societies and damaged the global economy in innumerable ways, and with unknown consequences. The extent of the damage has yet to be seen as the world is now experiencing a second wave of the virus, with the situation expected to get worse before it gets better.

However, an unforeseen outcome of the pandemic and lockdown has been the positive environmental effects that are being experienced on a global scale, most specifically the changes to our ocean.

The short-term impact of Covid-19 on the ocean has been overwhelmingly positive. Key industries that contribute to ocean pollution, including tourism, fishing, and international shipping have been drastically reduced due to the pandemic. A survey conducted by the Economist, on a World Oceans Initiative webinar showed how the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic affected tourism (by 70.7%), fishing (10.4%), offshore oil and gas (by 7.2%), and shipping (by 6.2%).

 

Reduced Pollution

plastic bag in water

Due to Covid-19, there has been a significant decrease in pollution, especially in greenhouse gas emissions. A review by the International Energy Agency predicts a 5% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions in 2020. This is not only good for the environment in general but for the ocean too, as a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is correlated with the slowdown of its warming, acidification, and deoxygenation.

There has been a massive decrease in carbon emissions because of the international disruption of business across different industries. For example, international shipping has suffered a 10% decline in container traffic in 2020. This is an unprecedented amount of traffic and has certainly contributed to reducing carbon emissions produced by container ships as the international shipping trade accounts for 2.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Another factor that contributes to the reduction of carbon emissions that affect the ocean, is the reduction in fossil fuel production and use. For example, there has been a reduction in demand for oil, trading below zero for the first time in history. This has not only slowed down the production of oil but has also made obvious the overwhelming supply and overproduction compared to the diminishing demand.

Therefore, governments are presented with an opportunity to invest in environmentally-friendly and sustainable methods of energy production in order to curb the rise in greenhouse emissions.

Nevertheless, the Covid-19 pandemic has instigated a new environmental problem. There has been a great deal of plastic pollution created largely from the disposal of single-use face masks as well as plastic gloves, further worsening the world’s ocean plastic pollution problem. These masks ensnare fish and can be mistaken for jellyfish and consumed by marine creatures.

Additionally, with the oil industry in disarray, the price of producing plastic products has never been cheaper and for this reason, the production of single-use plastics has increased, especially as people are ordering more takeout meals than usual.

 

No More Tourism

empty beach

According to UN Environmental Programme tourism is considered one of the leading causes in the destruction of ocean environments, especially for coastal areas around the world. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused the collapse of the tourism industry on a global scale due to global travel restrictions. Although the economic problems caused by the pandemic are dire, there are many short-term environmental benefits to the situation created by the restrictions.

Firstly, there has been less stress on marine life around coastal areas and coral reefs as the reduction of recreational activities have allowed for some recovery. Boating, which disturbs and harms marine life, has been significantly reduced, along with recreational fishing that depletes local fish populations. Additionally, the reduction of scuba diving worldwide (effectively eliminating unsustainable diving tourism), has resulted in some respite for many coral reef ecosystems.

Furthermore, and due largely to a decrease in tourism, coastal pollution has been greatly reduced. With suncream lathered tourists staying away from the beach, littering is down and the ocean has been able to start reclaiming some coastal regions as well as beginning to recuperate from severe coral bleaching. Plus, wastewater pollution from coastal hotels and attractions has stopped, giving beaches and their populations a rest from the constant inundation of pollutants.

What’s important to any approach to ocean pollution in the post-Covid recovery is treating it as a human health issue.

Finally, coastal construction has seen a significant reduction in recent times. As construction along the ocean’s coast plays a large role in environmental destruction, this has surely had short-term benefits for the coastal environment. Nevertheless, these benefits will be short-lived as the situation for coastal ecosystems will be worsened by the redevelopment of these coastal construction projects after the quarantine.

 

A Break From Overfishing

fishing boat

Another big industry affected by global measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic has been the fishing industry. Research by the UN’s Global Sustainable Supply Chains for Marine Commodities shows that the world’s demand for marine products such as shrimp, crab, and the octopus has been significantly reduced over the past year. This is for a number of reasons, such as lack of demand, lockdown restrictions, and the difficulty of ensuring Covid-19 sanitation on fishing boats.

With the complete disappearance of the tourism industry in many less economically developed countries, their fishing industry has suffered immeasurable losses, having all but
collapsed. Alternatively, in many wealthier countries such as the United States, the majority of commercial fish products are used in restaurants. As many restaurants have been closed there has also been a reduction in the demand for fish products there.

The real question is, does this reduction of overfishing make a difference, and will the ocean be able to recover its depleted stocks over the lockdown?

The ocean needs around 10-15 more years of reduced fishing in order to completely recover depleted stocks. This can’t be achieved over the Covid-19 pandemic and can only be achieved through governments putting in place more fishing restrictions and better management of marine environments. This means that although the ocean has had time to recover some stock, the ocean’s supply of fish has not adequately recovered over lockdown.

What’s more, the ocean could experience increased unsustainable fishing practices as the global fishing industry attempts to recover faster after the pandemic. That said, the fast recovery of some of the ocean’s fish supply over the Covid-19 pandemic is very encouraging and offers an opportunity for governments and fisheries to develop more sustainable fishing policies coming out of the pandemic.

 

Looking To The Future

The Covid-19 pandemic poses a rare opportunity for governments and organisations to witness the short-term benefits for the ocean when the ever-shifting cogs of the economy slow down. The rates of ocean warming, acidification, and deoxygenation have slowed, coastal ecosystems are recovering and the ocean’s fish population is slowly recuperating.

However, this might only be a temporary phenomenon, and going forward, governments should enforce more sustainable and blue policies in order to foster the recuperation of fish stock and ensure a more sustainable future for our oceans.

If given the opportunity, our ocean can and will continue to regenerate.

Best Eco-Friendly Gifts for Teenagers

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eco friendly gifts

Sustainability is the new cool and for good reason. With the ever-increasing population of humans and our growing demand for products, the earth’s resources have been put under immense pressure. Our current consumption patterns have resulted in an eco-friendly lifestyle not just being desirable, but crucial for our continued survival.

Often considered a generation that’s engrossed in their phones, teenagers are the future of the world. Despite what older generations may say, teenagers have actually been instrumental in spearheading the cause of environmentalism and demanding a more eco-friendly world. In such a world, sustainable gifting is essential.

If you’re looking for some of the best eco-friendly gifts for teenagers in your life, here are some options you should explore.     

Do you have any other suggestions for the best eco-friendly gifts for teenagers? Let us know in the comments!

5 Simple Ways to Help Your Small Business Go Green Today

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small business

Just because you own a small business and you are operating on a limited budget does not mean that you can’t go green.

Going green can benefit your business, reduce your carbon footprint, and also attract a new target market. If you are are looking for ways to reduce your consumption, or simply looking for ways to save money in the long run, here are 4 ways that your small business can start to go green.

How to Make Your Small Business Greener

#1: Identify Waste and Attack It

small business go green

When you think of waste, you should see money washing down the drain.

While you might not think that you are wasteful, chances are that you are paying for things that you are not consuming all of the time. Leaving lights on during lunch, ordering more inventory than you need, or taking several trips to an office that could have been reduced to one are all wasteful actions.

Identify the waste and find ways to stop the inefficiency so that you are using fewer resources and spending less money. Look for waste in your kitchen, reporting and paper usage, and use of electronics and energy.

Additional ways to reduce waste include:

  • Reducing packaging such as single-use containers
  • Reducing or eliminating bottled water in favor of glasses and other resusable containers
  • Collect e-waste for recycling

 

#2: Reduce Commutes to Work and Meetings

Did you know that one of your biggest areas of consumption is more than likely your commute to work? When you commute, you are consuming fuel, which is a very scarce resource. Save money and reduce your carbon footprint by encouraging people in the office to bike, take the bus, or even carpool.

You will also spend quite a bit of money driving to meet with clients. If you are meeting with clients to gauge satisfaction, consider greener alternatives. Meet online whenever you can or make a phone call to reduce your impact on the environment.

Indeed, because of the COVID19 pandemic, virtual meetings have not only become mainstream, but they also protect you, staff, and clients from exposure.

 

#3: Become a Part of the Cloud

cloud computing

Cloud technologies have completely reshaped how we conduct business. Nowadays, you can run your entire small business online, from anywhere in the world.

For instance, cloud technologies have simplified the process of storing and retrieving files.

Today, a cloud marketing tool can help to simplify business needs. If you use cloud-based technologies rather than using software backup programs, you can reduce the time you spend backing up your files and also reduce your energy consumption costs.

You can also reduce the amount of paper and printing you use by using cloud services. Keep all of your reporting, analysis, and customer feedback surveys online and in the cloud, and you’ll be helping the environment while saving money.

When you are looking for a cloud-based software system, find a system that works for you. Make sure to cover all your angles, analysis, storage, and customer satisfaction.

 

#4: Turn Off Your Equipment

When you leave your office, you do not need your monitors and copiers to stay on. More than 10% of your energy bill consists of powering your equipment even when it is on stand-by. Power your equipment down, including your PCs and copiers, to reduce your energy costs. Turn all lights off and keep unused appliances off and unplugged when not in use.

You need to make efficiency and reduced consumption a priority when you are going green. Consider these the four useful tips, identify areas where you can improve and reduce the waste, and join the movement for businesses to go green. Going green is good for the environment and your bottom line, so start today.

 

#5: Keep it Simple

small green business

The simpler your going-green strategy, the better in the long run in terms of adherence.

Going green is easy on paper: Turn off the lights, unplug appliances, recycle, opt for energy-efficient devices. However, the devil is in the details. Unless you have an execution plan, your intention to go green might fizzle out soon.

Take a look around your work area. What consumables do you have and what goes to waste? Where are the recycle bins placed? Is is a convenient and easily accessible place?

Sometimes, changing habits around the workplace requires slight changes in the physical environment. So, audit your workplace and identify any bottlenecks to your plan to go green. You can also offer incentives to your staff to promote a more sustainable business.

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

The Increasing Popularity of Smart Home Technology + Statistics

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smart home

Technology has reinvented how we as humans operate around our homes. New smart home inventions have made our lives way easier than we could have ever imagined.

Many of these inventions can perform different tasks based on voice recognition and orders. Believe it or not, one in four adults today own at least one smart speaker in their homes.

Many homeowners are favoring smart home technology more because it can save them money with their insurance. The added layer of security you invest in can show insurance companies that you are prioritizing home safety. As a result, they may deem you as a candidate less prone to risk. This is why a majority of households today have at least one smart home device, if not multiple.

The world of smart home technology is ever-growing and can feel overwhelming. You may feel unsure of what products you want to implement into your own home.

The following guide and statistics go over how smart home technology is increasing in popularity, as well as people’s underlying motivations. Based on what others have found useful, you may be able to narrow down which products you’d like to implement in your own home.

 

Statistics From Survey Findings

The following data has been collected from a group of 1,000 respondents across the world. Continue reading for a better understanding of why they were motivated towards purchasing smart home products and how it has benefitted their lives. 

 

1. Convenience and Safety Matter

46 percent of respondents shared that convenience was one of the leading reasons for purchasing smart home technology. Right below the need for convenience is the need for safety and protection. 37 percent of respondents shared that theft alarm systems were the primary source of safety for their homes.

 

2. Differing Gender and Age Views

Between men and women, there are a few differences when it comes to the reasoning for using smart home technology. Men’s reasoning for smart home devices is typically to lower their bills. On the other hand, women’s reasoning are for more security in the home.

In regards to security, those of older age believe that cameras are the best form of technology for the protection of the home. The younger crowd differed in views, as they believed automatic locks were the better option for security.

gender-difference

3. Increasing In Popularity

In terms of popularity, entertainment devices are the most popular form of smart technology in the home. Many families have admitted to having either smart TVs and smart speakers in their homes. With this technology becoming more widespread, we can estimate that there will be 481.9 million homes with smart technology in 2025. 

 

Background of Smart Home Devices

In the past, the closest society got to smart home technology was in the movies and on TV. It may have seemed like an invention of the far distant future, but the reality is we have gotten closer than ever. While we have made much progress in the industry, there is still lots of room for improvement.

The first invention in smart home technology was back in 1898 with the first remote control. The remote control got more people thinking of what other advancements they could make to revolutionize technology. Before the world knew it, more and more advancements were made to make life easier for consumers. 

 

Reasons for Using Smart Home Devices

While convenience is the overarching factor motivating people to use smart home devices, security plays a big role as well. This technology can provide an extra layer of protection and eyes around the home when you are not home. 17 percent of the respondents in the survey above mentioned that they primarily use smart home devices to keep their home safe when not there. 16 percent used these devices for their own security while being home. 

As mentioned before, another big factor for using smart home technology is the lowering of utility bills. 15 percent of respondents chose this as their leading reason for purchasing the products. They see smart home devices as more of an investment that can save a lot of money in the long run. For example, smart thermostats are associated with a 10 percent reduction in heat costs.

 

Benefits of Smart Home Technology

Smart home technology can help identify appliance malfunctions early on. A few examples of appliance issues include fires or water leaks. If you leave these issues unnoticed, it can be very problematic for you in the future. Not to mention you’ll most likely run into extra costs to fix the mess made. 

When it comes to water, 12 percent is wasted as a result of leaks. Incorporating artificial intelligence into your home can help prevent this. You may even be interested in implementing a smart water heater. Research shows that it can save roughly $4,500 in a span of 10 years. Similarly, smart fridges are very energy efficient. They can save you about $134 a year on your electricity bills.

Many people have outdoor cameras in their homes for added security. If you chose to use cameras, you may want to have three or five around your house. This way you can cover all your bases, and make sure intruders can be identified in all areas. Many people feel much more safe and comfortable knowing they have cameras patrolling the outside of their home.

convienence-smart-home

Where is Smart Home Technology Going?

As time progresses, we will see many more homes implement smart home technology. Those who are putting their homes on the market are also keeping their smart devices in the homes as part of the sale. The reason for this is that homeowners can increase the value of their property with the addition of technology. New homes that are currently being built also are offering more smart home automation for homeowners.

Smart home technology is revolutionizing the way we design our homes. Many people rely on these devices for security and protection both in and outside of the home. Not to mention, the added sense of convenience they provide. We as humans live busy lives and can benefit extremely from the automation of certain tasks in our home. Check out Hippo’s findings for more information on the increasing popularity of smart home technology.

Smart Home 101: How to Get Started with Home Automation

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smart home

Does the term “smart home” leave you confused? If yes, you aren’t alone. The smart home is an umbrella term that covers anything from app-enabled coffee makers to voice-controlled garage doors.

That aside, a smart home is essentially a technology that strives to make your life as comfortable and convenient as possible. This technology takes care of repetitive and boring everyday tasks like locking or unlocking your front door, adjusting the humidifier and turning off the lights.

Read through these useful smart home 101 tips to help you start your home automation journey on the right foot.

 

How to Select the Best Smart Home Devices

smart-home-devices

When automating your home by adding smart devices, you need to go for products that’ll serve you for a longer time. Choose those with backward compatibility over those with forwarding compatibility. Products with backward compatibility are those that can work with devices that you already have in your home. Those with forwarding compatibility are compatible with future devices only.

Don’t just dive into buying smart devices for your home, especially with new products finding their way to the market at a dramatic rate. Be sure to do your research. That way, you’ll have some basic understanding of what might work for you and what may become ineffective in the long-term.

 

Start small

Compare products from different manufacturers – look at their prices, quality, and compatibility. Also, subscribe to sites that provide things such as going green with actionable tips and that offer insights into current news and trends in the home automation industry. That way, you’ll always know when new smart devices enter the market and take advantage of discounts, promotions, and seasonal price changes.

Start small – you can buy just a few inexpensive devices and then think about some additions with time. Also, put your needs into consideration and buy only what addresses your needs and fits into your lifestyle. Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

  • Do you need a personal assistant to create lists and order groceries? Nothing is more annoying than getting home from grocery shopping only to realize that you’ve forgotten some essential groceries. With a personal assistant device, you don’t have to worry about that anymore. A device like Google Assistant allows you to add products, prepare several grocery lists, and get personal recommendations derived from your former list.
  • Do you always leave your lights and appliances on? If yes, you need to invest in smart light switches and plugs. They’ll allow you to turn off your lights and appliances from remote locations. They’ll also save you some money by reducing your energy consumption.
  • Do you want to bring down your utility bills? Install a smart thermostat to keep your home comfortable and energy consumption down. You can use your voice to command the smart assistant to adjust the thermostat when you’re at home or adjust it with your smartphone when you’re away.
  • Are you worried about your home security? Keep an eye on your home from your smartphone with a home security app. But your security cameras, door locks, doorbells, and outdoor lights must be connected to the Wi-Fi. Security cameras can also be helpful when you’re working from home. They can help you see who’s at your door. That way, you can decide who to open for and who to ignore, which can go a long way in minimizing distractions and enhancing your productivity.

 

Steps for Setting up and Installing Smart Home Devices

setting up smart home devices

Before we get into the steps of installing smart home devices, one important question to ask is when should you opt for this home automation project?

The answer is anytime, however, if you’d like to make it more practical, home automation devices are the easiest to implement if you also plan to carry out a home remodeling project.

This is because the trusted contractor that is remodeling your home, will also help you integrate the smart devices into your home, and you will not have to worry about it. 

Moving forward, the most exciting and enjoyable part of your home automation project is setting up and installing devices. Here a few steps to follow: 

 

1. Connect to power

Your smart hub will require power to function. Depending on the model, you can hook it up to power via an AC adapter or just install rechargeable battery packs. It pays to have backup batteries in place so that your home stays functional even in the event of a power outage.

 

2. Connect to Fast and Reliable Internet

Most smart hubs hook up to Internet routers via an Ethernet cable. But some are a bit more modern and will only require a password to hook up to wireless routers.

 

3. Install the Application on Your Smartphone

You can access most of the latest home automation systems right from your smartphone through an app. You just need to download and install the relevant app on your smartphone.

 

4. Set up an Account

The app will take you through an easy-to-follow process to set up an account. Remember to secure your account with a strong password.

 

5. Add Smart Devices

Follow easy on-screen prompts to add smart devices to your home automation system.

 

6. Schedule Scenes and Triggers

A scene is a series of actions that can be scheduled to happen at specific times. For instance, a bedtime scene may involve your electrical appliances and lights turning off and your smart doors closing at 9:00 pm. There could also be trigger-controlled scenes. Case in point, a motion sensor may cause a light to turn on when it detects an unlocked door.

 

7. Set up Alerts

By setting up alerts, you will receive either a text or email when specific events like a movement or an open window are detected.

 

Conclusion 

Hopefully, these actionable smart home tips will help you start your home automation journey on the right foot. Take your time to acquaint yourself with home automation technology, start with cheap devices, and continue incorporating new devices into your hub with time. And before you know it, you’ll have a fully functional smart home. 

Best Eco-Friendly Gifts for Dads

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gift for dad

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” – Native American Proverb.

The above quote becomes especially important to consider in the current consumerist and capitalist society we live in. Today, our fast-paced lifestyle has made us consume mindlessly and has resulted in massive pressure on the earth’s existing resources.

Human demand exceeds the pace at which new products are being made, and if we want to sustain our species, we have to examine our consumption patterns.

Luckily, all hope is not lost. Many consumers today are becoming more conscious of the products they buy and choosing eco-friendly products for themselves and people they’re gifting to.

If you’re in a fix about what eco-friendly item you can gift your dad, here are some of the best eco-friendly gifts for dads.

Best Eco-Friendly Christmas Gifts

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eco friendly christmas gift

“Tis the season to be jolly” – Christmas brings with it a lot of festive cheer. It’s a time for the family to come together and enjoy each other’s company while listening to the soft sounds of Christmas carols and enjoying the lights of the Christmas tree.

While the holiday cheer may be high, unfortunately, it’s also a period that results in a lot of waste. Giving gifts is a very important part of Christmas and finding the right Christmas gift can be difficult.

In an effort to live more sustainably and reduce the wastage that occurs around the holiday season, it’s imperative to watch out for eco-friendly Christmas gifts.

Here are some of the best eco-friendly Christmas gifts to choose from.

What is an Ovo Vegetarian?

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Ovo vegetarianism

Ovo-vegetarians are people who follow a vegetarian diet that also includes eggs and egg products such as mayonnaise.

The ethical motivation for choosing ovo-vegetarianism, i.e., excluding dairy products from the diet, is usually based on the fact that the dairy industry resorts to extreme cruelty to sustain itself. Animals raised and maintained for milk are often kept in highly congested spaces that result in several animals dying or living with painful ailments.

These animals are forced to be pregnant for as long as possible to procure milk from them, which means that the calves born out of these pregnancies don’t get access to their mother’s milk.

Ovo-vegetarians also maintain specific criteria for the eggs they buy since industrially produced eggs are also not cruelty-free. They typically choose cage-free and unfertilized eggs. The health-related reasons for choosing ovo-vegetarianism are lactose intolerance problems and the unhealthy amount of fat and gluten content in dairy products.

 

Advantages of an Ovo-vegetarian diet

Economic

Compared to the diet spectrum’s two extremes, a non-vegetarian diet and a vegan diet, an ovo-vegetarian diet can be very economical and healthy.

Non-vegetarian diets are usually expensive if healthy and hygienic meat options are considered.

A vegan diet is also not entirely pocket-friendly since a nutritional, balanced meal will require several vegan alternatives for staple ingredients, adding up to an expensive lifestyle. An ovo-vegetarian diet ensures that you get a well-balanced meal that is also pocket friendly since eggs effectively provide ample protein.

 

Environment friendly

The meat industry weighs heavily on the planet. Rearing cattle is expensive for the planet since it involves greenhouse gas emissions comparable to emissions made by large automobiles.

Additionally, rearing cattle involves grazing on large pastures created by cutting down large areas of forests. The future of the planet depends on decreasing the intake of meat.

 

Health benefits

Vegetarian diets are generally much healthier than non-vegetarian diets. They ensure more fiber intake and prevent all the health risks associated with meat. Intake of fiber helps maintain a low Body Mass Index since fiber is very filling and reduces overeating. Additionally, fiber helps to maintain good metabolism.

Vegetarian diets also involve consuming fewer calories since most vegetarian foods are low on calories. Since ovo-vegetarians avoid dairy and dairy products, they are also at a lower risk of several diseases caused by high sugar intake and unsaturated fat in food products.

Several vegans have started to add eggs into their diet since vegan diets can be relatively nutrient deficient.

Eggs are a great source of protein, and they can provide nutrients such as Vitamin B12 and Omega-3 that are otherwise only available in meat. Vitamin B12 and Omega-3 are essential for the human nervous and immune systems. Adding eggs to a vegetarian meal is also a lot more satiating than a pure vegetarian meal.

 

Potential risks and concerns

Inadequate protein intake

Several kinds of meat form the primary source of protein in non-vegetarian diets. In a vegetarian diet, protein intake can fall below the required amount if it is not carefully supplemented with plant-based options.

Legumes and nuts are good sources of protein for vegetarians. Ovo-vegetarians have an additional option of eggs and egg products. Egg whites are excellent sources of protein.

 

Nutrient deficiency

People who stick to a strictly vegetarian diet can suffer from deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals. Vitamin B12, vitamin D, Omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals such as calcium, iron, and zinc are the most commonly neglected nutrients among vegetarians.

These deficiencies are potentially dangerous. These nutrients are usually derived from seafood, meat, and dairy. Several plant-based options are available to compensate for the lack of non-vegetarian food products. Fortified foods often have artificially added vitamins and minerals in food products such as plant-based milk and breakfast cereals.

The important thing is to keep track of your nutrient intake and add health supplements to make up for the nutrients absent in your diet. Making a diet chart can help keep a tab on your nutrient intake.

 

Processed foods

Choosing a vegetarian diet does not necessarily mean a healthy diet. Vegetarian junk foods and processed food products are as available and are as harmful as any other diet.

If you choose ovo vegetarianism for its health benefits, you must include whole foods and green vegetables in your meal. Minimize the consumption of junk food and avoid eating processed food whenever you can. Processed meat alternatives can be tempting, but they can be as harmful as any meat products.

Thinking of Going Solar? These are 5 Questions You Must Consider

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solar panels array

The popularity surrounding going solar often creates misconceptions among home owners about the true benefits of installing solar panels at their home.

If you are considering a solar panels investment for your home, there are certain key factors to consider before taking a final decision.

The variables for each case are specific to your situation. They also relate to your location’s climatic conditions and the orientation and design of your home. Additionally your current electricity bill and availability to financial incentives for solar power factors into the equation.

To help you evaluate such the decision we have prepared the following list of questions:

 

1. Is your location’s climate suitable for solar?

Photovoltaic panels require sunlight to generate electricity. The clearer the sky with more sunlight intervals, the more electricity you will generate; thus have a higher return on your investment.

However, solar panels come with different specifications that suit a range of conditions.

If you live in an area with cloudy weather and sparse sunshine, for example, it is recommended that you seek professional advice from your local solar installers.

It is always a good idea to cross check any information regarding solar installation with state authorities such as your local municipality.

 

2. Is your home suitable for solar panels?

Once you’ve established that your climate is suitable for solar panels, you should then take a look at your house orientation.

Normally you will need to have a clear view to the south at an inclination of 27-35°.  Whether to install roof or land-mounted solar panels largely depends on your home’s specific circumstances.

Apart from orientation and type, you must also consider space availability for your solar panels. Space, as well as size (capacity of solar panels), is much related to the type of solar panels choose.

Provided your house can accommodate solar panels, check with local authorities before commencing installation. Some local town councils have planning restrictions, such as solar panels height, size and aesthetics attributes relating to your building but also to the environment.

 

3. Do you have access to solar financial incentives?

Although solar panel costs have gone a long way down, they are still relatively high compared to conventional energy systems.

Financial incentives provide justification in renewable investment, setting-off the extra cost. Depending on your location, check with local authorities on the types of financial incentives available to you for solar panels.

Once again, we recommend that you double check that any available incentives are verified within your discussions with solar panel installers.

 

4. How much do you pay for electricity?

Apart from being environmental, the main reason you may be considering going solar is cost savings.

Provided that all answers to above questions give the option to go solar, the question of how much you spend on electricity will be the decisive factor in your decision. The more you pay on electricity, the more benefits you will realize from turning to solar.

To fully assess your electricity consumption, you need to consider your bills on an annual basis to overcome seasonal fluctuations.

Also, your average monthly electricity consumption in kilo-watt-hrs (kWh) is a measure of what size of solar panels installation you are looking for.

Typically, residential solar panels range between 4 to 10 kWh of installed capacity.

 

5. Have you found a solar installer?

We highly recommend showing your electricity bills to various potential solar panels installers and ask for a professional consultation; a detailed assessment of the potential cost savings to your specific case.

Professional solar panel installers should be able to provide you with a quotation of your home solar panels. They also should provide a detailed report with analysis on the costs and potential savings on an annual basis.

It is always advisable to seek advice from a number of installers and make a common sense evaluation on who suits you best.

Here are some guiding tips when assessing solar panel installers: Ask for customer references or easily accessible installations they have undertaken that can provide proof of their competence and quality of work.

Experienced and well trained installers can provide you with reliable solutions and good customer service.

Ask to see the installer’s licenses and accreditation to gauge quality and experience levels.

Finally, your final agreement should clearly state and assign responsibility of the whole project under the installer / contractor. Typically, an installer may hire sub-contractors for certain portions of your project. Nonetheless, accountability is non-transferable to any third parties.

You can simplify the process by assigning the job to a trustworthy installer to undertake responsibility and deliver your installation from start to finish.

6 Good Reasons to Get a Rain Barrel

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Rain Barrel

Water use in homes increases over the summer, which is mainly because of the amount of water we use to maintain our lawns and gardens. However, it’s during fall that most places get rainfall.

A recent PNAS report says that the average U.S. citizen has a water footprint of 2,842 m³ per year! Suffice it to say, water and water conservation are becoming hot button issues in the green community and even in mainstream politics.

While you may not think you can do much about the world’s current water crisis, every little bit really does count.

Luckily, there are many simple ways to help with the water crisis, including using a rain barrel at home.

Rain barrels and water tanks are incredibly easy to set up and use, and there are plenty of good reasons to use one. Here are six reasons you should consider one for your yard:

 

Top reasons to get a rain barrel

You’ll cut back on water usage for your lawn and garden

When you get a rain barrel, you can collect runoff during storms and rain, which you can then use on your lawn and garden, dramatically reducing the amount of water you use from your home water line during the summer months, and beyond.

 

Rain water is actually better for your plants

watering can

Even if you don’t have the greenest thumb, you can help your plants, shrubs, trees, and grass grow better by watering with collected rain water. Plants love natural rain water that isn’t chlorinated or fluoridated like municipal water normally is, so collected rain water is the best choice for watering your plants.

Most plants are prone to chlorine toxicity, which makes rain water better for your garden since it does not contain chlorine, and other harmful chemicals used to treat piped water.

Indeed, plants look greener and lush after it rains. Air is almost 80 percent nitrogen – a key nutrient for plants. When the rain comes down with some of the nitrogen, it rejuvenates plants.

 

You can help minimize direct runoff

Direct runoff refers to the dramatic surface runoff of water that floods into sewers during rainy and snowy weather. In industrialized areas, all the concrete, houses, and other impermeable surfaces keep the rain water from soaking into the ground where it lands, as it normally would.

When the water is, instead, flooding into the sewage system, the system can overload, resulting in major problems such as flooding downstream and leakages at local sewage treatment plants. By collecting the rain water that lands on your roof, you can do your part to minimize these problems.

 

You’ll help create healthier drinking water and natural waterways

waterway

When rain falls in the middle of an uninhabited forest, even rain that has picked up pollutants can be cleaned out, since most of the water will soak through the soil.

However, when rain runs along roofs, streets, and cars, it takes all those pollutants with it, right into the natural waterways and drinking water treatment sites, since the soil that would otherwise soak it up is covered.

By collecting rain water, you can prevent some pollution of the waterways around your home.

 

You can actually collect tons of water

rain water

If you live in a relatively dry area, you may think that having a rain barrel is pointless because you’ll never get any water. However, it often takes less than an inch of rain to fill an entire rain barrel, depending on the size of your roof.

According to Water Wise, a 1,000 square foot roof with just an inch of rainfall yields over 600 gallons of water!

 

You’ll save money

save money

If you live in a city, chances are likely that you have to pay for your water usage, which makes rain barrels one great option for conserving water and saving money. Yet another reason to get a rain barrel.

With hundreds of gallons of rain water from a single rain fall, you can use that water for your lawn and garden for weeks to keep things looking green – without ever tapping into your city water supply.

As you can see, having a rain barrel is a great option for families who are interested in conservation and being green.

While you can’t use water collected in a rain barrel for drinking, washing, or bathing, it will definitely offset your use of water in your lawn and garden.

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

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