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The Beginner’s Guide to Going Off-Grid

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solar panels off-grid

Picture this; 300 years down the line, people will have to wear gas masks just to walk out on the streets of Toronto.

That’s considering if it will even be possible to walk out; assuming that temperatures at that time will have risen to a modest degree.

Enough to pardon our future generations from agonizing deaths in searing heat!

 

A road to the apocalypse?

effects of climate change

You might be thinking, wow, this sounds like a page straight out of a Sci-Fi novel.

However, the proof is in the pudding.

The impact of non-renewable sources of energy on the environment is staggering. And one of the major effects is increased global temperature.

And not just on global temperatures. Have you seen the news lately? Floods in places that have never experienced them in centuries, wildfires in the U.S. Northwest, droughts, dead fish just washing onshore.

But, how did we find ourselves in such a precarious predicament?

Well, it all spans back to man’s insatiable quest for energy; a quest that has inadvertently caused him to slowly destroy the environment that’s sustained him for thousands of years.

Looking at the stats, one can’t help but feel a sense of pity for the human race. In fact, in 2019 alone, we emitted a staggering 38 Gt of Carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. 2020 was slightly better, but that was mainly because of the lockdowns brought on by the pandemic.

And that’s not even the worst of it. Research predicts that there will be a 2% rise in fossil fuel emissions in the coming years as well. Which doesn’t sound too good for our precious environment.

 

The Boys at the round-table

So you might be thinking, why don’t we just put an end to all this fossil fuel malarkey once and for all, and turn to renewable sources of energy for good?

As easy as it sounds, there’s a lot of politics involved. And frankly speaking, a lot of money is on the line too.

In fact, some of the world’s major economies would instantly flat line if oil was suddenly scrapped off the table as a primary source of energy.

This would mean financial chaos for a majority of nations; which would then translate to the largest economic meltdown ever witnessed in history.

Heck, even the Great Depression would look like child’s play compared to the crash that global powerhouses such as the US and China would experience.

Hence, in terms of government intervention, it’s going to take a while before these countries can fully adopt a workable, efficient, non-renewable energy strategy.

That being said, if we ever plan to successfully transition to renewable sources of energy such as hydropower and solar, we’ve got to take a long hard look at the man in the mirror.

Because as individuals, it is vital that we play our part in saving the environment by minimizing our dependence on fossil fuels as well.

In fact, hear this:

North America, in particular the United States, is the biggest contributor to fossil fuels CO2 emissions in the world. What’s even more intriguing is the numbers behind such a revelation.

The average American burns roughly twice the amount of fossil fuels compared to a person in Europe or Japan.

And this escalates to as much as 10 times that of a person residing in India!

 

Going off-grid: What you can do

So what can the average North American do to minimize their carbon emissions?

Here are some simple, environmentally-conscious tips to get you started on ameliorating the environment around you.

1. Eliminate appliances that silently consume energy

As you know, much of the electricity consumed today is derived from the burning of fossil fuels for energy.

This energy is then converted to electrical energy, which is later supplied to our homes as electricity for our electrical appliances.

In fact, electrical consumption is projected to increase by a whopping 56% by 2040. Sadly, a staggering 80% of the energy produced to cater to this consumption will be derived from fossils fuels.

That being said, one of the ways we can provide reprieve to our environment is by lowering our electrical consumption.

And you can start by ensuring there are no phantom loads in your house by switching off all sockets and lights when you leave for work.

Here’s how this works:

By limiting your electrical consumption, you reduce your electricity bill, and the amount of energy required to power your house.

Now imagine if a million people did this every day – see all the energy that would be preserved in the process?

In return, it would be less feasible for these fossil fuel companies to continue burning oil and coal for energy and electricity, consequently reducing carbon emissions in the process.

A small step you might say, but one that can have positive results on our environment!

 

2. Trade in your gas guzzler

electric vehicle - going off grid

You’ve just turned on the engine to your car, and the first thing you see from your rear-view mirror is a large, thick cloud of smoke billowing from the exhaust pipe.

Unfortunately, you’re committing one of the biggest atrocities against the environment.

Even those ‘fuel saving’ and ‘environmentally-friendly’ labels that are being stamped on new car models shouldn’t fool you.

They still contribute a considerable amount of CO2 to the environment.

That being said, the best way to reduce your dependency on fossil-fuels for transport is to buy an electric car.

Not only are they cheaper to maintain, but also promote a sense of goodwill within you. Imagine all the positive you’ll be doing for the environment by ‘steering’ clear from gas!

Moreover, there are also plenty of other advantages that come with getting an electric car.

 

3. Going full solar on everything

This is by far the ultimate decision one can make if they truly want to be environmentally-conscious and play a major role in CO2 emission reduction.

In fact, solar energy is hands down the most reliable source of renewable energy out there.

For starters, not only will you be cutting down your carbon footprint, but also saving tons of money by eliminating utility bills in your mailbox.

If you’ve been thinking of going solar, have a look at this guide to familiarize yourself with the particulars of getting an efficient solar energy system for your home.

 

Summary

Conclusively, with the aforementioned tips being put into practice, we can go a long way to ensuring our environment stays preserved and protected.

Remember, one person is enough to change the world; and a little does go a long way.

So let’s do our part to guarantee a carbon-free planet for our future generations!


Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for freshness and consistency.

Simple Grilled Nectarine Salad Recipe

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Simple Grilled Nectarine Salad

When barbecuing, many people don’t typically think of grilling fruits.

Vegetables, yes, meats, yes, but fruit?

The sweetness of fruit is actually enhanced through grilling, with the characteristic grill marks actually caramelizing the sugars within.

This salad is a simple one, allowing the grilled nectarines to provide most of the flavor, and complemented by a simple oil and vinegar dressing.

grilled nectarine salad
Yield: 4 servings

Grilled Nectarine Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 13 minutes

This simple salad allows the grilled nectarines to provide most of the flavor, complemented by a simple oil and vinegar dressing.

Ingredients

  • 4 nectarines, quartered
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing
  • 4 cups salad greens
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced

Vinaigrette

  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 1 pinch salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the barbecue to medium-high heat. Lightly brush the nectarine pieces with vegetable oil and place on the grill over direct heat. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until browned and soft.
  2. Remove the nectarines and dice them. Place the salad greens, grape tomatoes and red onion in a large salad bowl. Place the nectarines on top.
  3. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt. Drizzle over the salad. Serve as is or toss to evenly coat with dressing. Serve right away.

Nutrition Information

Yield

4

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 192Total Fat 11gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 0mgSodium 52mgCarbohydrates 24gFiber 4gSugar 16gProtein 3g

Did you make this recipe?

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The Secrets of Apricot Cooking and its Incredible Health Benefits

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apricots health benefits

Apricots are among the most popular fruits in the world. They are rich in vitamin C and A, iron, calcium, fiber, and phosphorus. These nutrients make them ideal for people of all ages. Their soft texture and sweet taste complement a wide range of dishes, especially cobblers and pies. 

They are also great with poultry and pork. The best way to prepare fresh apricots is by boiling and storing them as preserves for spooning them over ice, serving on toast, or adding to salads. 

In this post, we are going to discuss the secrets of apricot cooking and its incredible health benefits. Let’s get started!

 

How to Cook (with) Apricots

cooking apricots

Boiling apricots

Here are a few simple steps to follow if you want to boil apricots:

  • Rinse: Rinse your apricots under running water. If dirt is still visible after the rinse, use a soft scrub brush to remove and rinse again.
  • Cut: After a thorough rinse, cut the fruit by hand or a knife in half and scoop the pits with a spoon or your fingers. If you don’t have a knife nearby, always feel free to use your hands.
  • Peel: If you desire, peel the skin from the fruit.
  • Boil water: Mix water and sugar in a large pot and boil the mixture
  • Reduce heat: After bringing the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer the mixture until it slightly thickens. Avoid overcooking the liquid since it will lead to the crystallization of sugar.
  • Add your fruits: Now it’s time to add the apricots to the mixture. Simmer until the fruit starts coming apart. This process should take an hour utmost depending on the ripeness of the fruit.
  • Add lemon: Squeeze one or two tablespoons of lemon juice into the mixture and stir. Remove the pot from the source of heat and allow it to cool before you serve.

 

Poaching apricots

To effectively poach apricots, all you have to do is:

  • Rinse: Rinse the apricots thoroughly. And then cut them by knife or hand into halves
  • Don’t peel: Remove the pits without peeling the apricot
  • Add flavors: Put your apricot fruits into a saucepan and cover them with clean water. Add cloves, cinnamon, or any other desirable spice to the saucepan to add flavor to the fruits.
  • Start poaching: Poach the fruits for around eight minutes till they become very tender. When pressed by a spoon, they should be soft. However, they shouldn’t fall apart.
  • Serve: Remove the fruits from the poaching liquid and serve. You can also consider storing them in a fridge to prepare fruit juice in the next few days.

 

Roasting apricots

Roasting apricots is one of the easiest things to do in the kitchen. You need to do:

  • Prep your oven: Start by preheating the oven to around three hundred degrees Fahrenheit
  • Rinse: Rinse your apricots thoroughly and cut them. Ensure that the cut sides face up in the roasting pan
  • Add honey: Squeeze some honey on all the cut pieces and then add some butter on the center of each cut apricot piece. Sprinkle some sugar on top of the fruits.
  • Roast: Now, it’s time to roast your fruits. You should roast your apricots for fifteen minutes at three hundred and seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit. Gradually increase the temperatures to four hundred degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Serve: This entire process should take around 45 minutes. You should serve warm

You should keep in mind that ripe apricots are delicate and soft. And they can be difficult to cook with. Therefore, always go for slightly ripe apricots that are firm and delicious.

 

Apricots Health Benefits

Apricots are small round Armenian plums that are extremely nutritious and have a wide range of health benefits such as improved eye health and digestion. Here are some of the nutrition and health benefits of apricots:

cooking apricots health benefits

1. Nutritious and low in calories

Apricots are rich in a wide range of minerals and vitamins. They are rich in vitamin A, C, and E, fiber, potassium, protein, and carbs. Further, the fruit is a great source of lutein, beta carotene, and zeaxanthin. 

All these are powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body. Since you can enjoy apricots unpeeled and whole, the huge amounts of fiber greatly improves digestion. Always discard the stone inside the fruit because it is not edible.

 

2. Rich in antioxidants

Apricots are one of the best sources of antioxidants. They are in the category of flavonoids in the antioxidants family. And they have been proven to protect against dangerous illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. 

Apricots have catechins, chlorogenic acids, and quercetin which are compounds that fight free radicals. Free radicals are dangerous compounds that cause oxidative stress and harm your cells.

 

3. Promotes eye health

Apricots are rich in xanthophyll and carotenoids. These nutrients are essential for eye health. These nutrients are especially important for weak or old eyes.

These nutrients protect your eyes from damages linked to age. The fruit also helps in protecting your eyes against excessive light.

 

4. Promotes skin health

Eating apricots is beneficial to your skin. Among the leading causes of skin damage and wrinkles are environmental factors such as pollution, the sun, and cigarette smoke. 

Research studies have shown that there is a direct link between sunburns, exposure to UV light, and a type of skin cancer known as melanoma. You can fight these damages with a diet filled with apricots. 

The fruit contains vitamin C and E which will protect your skin against damages caused by ultraviolet light and neutralize free radicals. Beta carotene will also protect your skin against sunburns.

 

5. Excellent source of water

Like other fruits, apricots contain a lot of water which can help in regulating body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and joint health. Since most people don’t drink eight glasses of water in a day, consuming this fresh fruit will help your body meet its daily needs. 

Dehydration can lead to a drop in blood volume thus forcing your heart to work extra hard to pump blood. You need to stay hydrated for your blood to circulate nutrients and eliminate waste from the cells effectively.

 

Conclusion

Apricots are great fruits that are rich in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. They have a wide range of benefits which include improved skin, eye, and gut health. Dried or fresh apricots are easy to add to salads, yogurt, and other meals.

Are Candles Bad for Your Home Air Quality?

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are candles bad for indoor air quality

Picture this: It’s your date night at home. You’ve pulled all the stops to make the occasion special for both of you. Nothing screams romance like a candle-lit dinner—just the two of you eyeing each other in the evening glow.

But, wait, could those candles be causing indoor air pollution and affecting your long-term health?

The unique glow of a candle is soothing and inviting. It provides the perfect ambiance to unwind after a long, stressful day at work. Candles help to enhance your home comfort and transform it into a relaxing haven.

Unfortunately, these same candles may be a health hazard. Yes — they could be affecting your indoor air quality.  

Have you ever had a stuffy nose after lighting a candle in your living room? Or felt an itch in your throat after breathing in a scented candle?  

These could be a reason for concern and the topic of our discussion today.

 

How do candles pollute indoor air?

candle indoor air quality

Most candles are made of paraffin wax which is a by-product of petroleum. The paraffin has to be deodorized and bleached before it is made into wax.  

Some of these candles also come with lead-core wicks. But, most countries have now banned them due to concerns over lead poisoning, especially among young children.  

When burned, the candle releases particulate matter (candle soot) into the air. A burning candle releases hydrogen and carbon from the wax. These two compounds combine with oxygen in the air to produce carbon dioxide and water vapor.

It also releases trace gases, smoke, and soot.

Now, carbon dioxide isn’t exactly safe. Indeed, it’s responsible, among other greenhouse gases, for global warming. The toxic carcinogens emitted decrease the air quality in your room and can be harmful to your health in large amounts.

Shockingly, some of the trace toxins released from burning candles, such as formaldehyde, toluene, and benzene, are similar to those emitted when burning diesel fuel.  

As for scented candles, which are popular with homeowners, the risk posed is much higher than conventional candles. They release a substantially higher amount of particulate matter due to the extra ingredients that give them the added smell.  

Fragrances in scented candles sometimes contain harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can cause irritation and allergic reactions. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals could lead to asthma or even lung cancer.

Besides having adverse health effects, burning candles also affects one’s surroundings. Soot, a by-product of burning candles, can cause discolored walls, ceilings, and fabrics.  

You may notice, for example, a dingy gray look on your curtains or a black film on some plastic items in your house after prolonged use of burning candles.

 

Are there safer alternatives to regular candles?

Yes, a few alternatives can help recreate the blissful ambiance of a candle glow without the adverse health effects.

Beeswax candles

Beeswax candles are safe, environmentally friendly, and non-toxic. They make an ideal option to keep your home free of soot and smoke.  

They help clean the air by producing negative ions that neutralize pollutants.  

Beeswax also burns three times longer than paraffin candles. While it has no added fragrance, it still emits a natural, subtle smell of honey.  

In addition, beeswax candles are hypo-allergenic hence suitable for people with allergies.   

 

Soy-based candles

Derived from soybean oil, soy-based candles are yet another worthy sustainable alternative to scented candles.  

They are free of toxins and burn 50% longer than the standard paraffin candles. Soy wax spills are also easy to clean up by simply using soap and water.

 

Essential oil diffusers

If you are an aromatherapy enthusiast, then you’ll like essential oil diffusers. This safe, smoke-free alternative fills your home with exotic scents when diffused.  

They come in various shapes and sizes, so you can select one that blends with your surroundings.  

Oil diffusers have also been scientifically proven to help deal with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.  

 

Tips for picking a safer candle

choosing eco-friendly candles

When shopping for candles, there are three key components you should look for — wax, wick, and aroma. Here is why you should assess each element keenly before making that purchase:

Wax ingredients

As you buy your candle, ensure the wax ingredients are anything but paraffin. Consider other options like soy wax, beeswax, or coconut wax which are more Eco-friendly.

However, remain cautious. Some brands may blend candle waxes to get the best of both worlds. Therefore, a candle will bear the label “made with soy wax,” but it has been blended with other ingredients like petroleum in the real sense.

To avoid this, look for candles labeled ‘paraffin-free,’ or follow up with the company if you are unsure about the ingredients.  

 

Fragrances

Candles made with ‘fragrance’ are a red flag that you should avoid. This is because most scents are made from synthetic petrochemicals, which can be harmful to human health.  

Instead, go for candles scented with essential oils only as they are derived from plants and still provide a naturally alluring aroma.

 

Candlewick

Beware of candle wicks that contain metal as they might be toxic. Metal-cored wicks are used with a few candles to keep the wick upright while burning. However, these metals may contain zinc or, worse, lead, which many countries have banned.

Choose wicks that are made purely from cotton or hemp.

 

Final thoughts

Are candles that bad for indoor air quality after all? Probably not. You only need to stay proactive in choosing candles to keep your indoor air quality in check. Otherwise, consider safe and non-toxic alternatives. They still provide an inviting scent that won’t compromise your home’s air quality.

Saving Energy on All Seasons [Infographic]

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saving energy at home

Most homeowners know that saving energy is a great way to save money, however not many know all the secrets to it. Incorporating energy-saving habits into your routine can not only help your wallet but also be great for the environment since it reduces air and water pollution. 

Here are some home energy-saving tips that you can add to your routine:

1. Keep Your Fridge Stocked

Keep your fridge stocked since they are more efficient when they are full and it can be a waste of energy to cool it when empty by overworking the motor. 

2. Defrost Your Freezer

Make sure to defrost your fridge regularly, since ice can obscure your freezer’s temperature sensors and make it work hard to cool. 

3. Use Dishwasher

You might think that dishwashers waste a lot of water and energy, however, it’s actually the opposite. Using an energy-efficient dishwasher and letting it air dry can be better than washing your dishes with running hot water. 

4. Don’t Charge Devices Overnight

A lot of us are guilty of putting all our gadgets to charge while we sleep. Since most devices only require a few hours to charge, there is no need to keep them plugged in all night

5. Use Smart Plugs

Technology has been helpful for saving energy as well. Smart plugs and power strips allow you to control your power usage through an app and turn off outlets to prevent wasting energy. 

6. Install Low Flow Showerhead

Hot showers can be great and therapeutic, but can also waste a significant amount of energy. Installing a low-flow showerhead will require less heat to operate and save you energy and water. 

7. Air dry Clothes

Adding a drying rack to your laundry room can also help you save energy and prolong the life of your fabrics. During warmer times for the year, hang your clothes out to dry, and tumble dry them on low heat during colder months. 

8. Only Wash Full Loads

Planning your laundry loads to wash full loads can also be beneficial to save energy. When washing a full load of laundry you help your machine perform better and you cut down on the number of times you do laundry. 

9. Opt for Efficient Electronics

There are many smart and efficient electronics in the market today. Opting for those will help save you energy at home as well. 

10. Upgrade HVAC System

If your budget allows, upgrade your HVAC system. Upgrading it can cost you some money upfront but help you save money on your energy bills since newer HVAC systems are more energy-efficient. 

Do you want to learn more about how you can save money on your energy bill throughout the whole year? Check out HomeAdvisor’s infographic below for some more home energy-saving tips for every season:

saving-energy-at-home-infographic

Water Saving Tips for Environmentally-Responsible Gardening

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Environmentally-Responsible Gardening

Whether you live in an area with abundant fresh water or drought conditions, every drop of fresh water is precious, and should never be squandered. By following these water conservation tips, you can water responsibly and maintain a healthy lawn and garden.

 

Collect Rainwater

collect rainwater for environmentally friendly gardening

Start by collecting rainwater. Placing a rain barrel underneath your downspout is a great way to save water for drier periods. A fine mesh screen will keep mosquitoes from laying eggs in the barrel. Another alternative is to attach a hose connection to your downspout to disperse rainfall as it happens.

This works especially well for watering plants close to the house that may not be getting the benefit of the rainfall.

 

Sweep, Don’t Spray

Don’t hose down your walks or driveway. Ever. If they need to be cleaned, sweep them with a stiff brush and let nature take care of the rest.

Add compost or coir (coconut dust) to soil to improve its ability to retain moisture. Coir holds moisture well, wets easily, drains well, and decomposes more slowly than peat moss. Even better, coir is a renewable resource, while peat moss takes hundreds of years to form.

 

Mulch

mulching

Regardless of climate, a layer of mulch will help to keep your garden moist, with the added benefit of providing a barrier to weeds.

There are many mulch materials available, with shredded bark currently being the most popular. Ensure your layer is at least 2 inches deep to retain water at the soil level.

 

Use a Rain Gauge

A rain gauge will give you a good idea of when to water. Be sure to water close to the ground.

Drip or soaker hoses enable more water to reach the soil and less water to evaporate than sprinklers do. Don’t over-water your lawn or garden, as overwatering can cause a number of problems for your plants, including fungal diseases.

 

Water Early

watering a garden

When watering your lawn or garden, be sure to water early in the day, when the sun is lower and temperatures are cooler in order to minimize evaporation. Try not to water in the evenings, as damp foliage increases the chance of fungal disease in the plant.

Also, provide more water for plants that are young or newly-planted. Older trees and shrubs with larger root systems are better able to withstand drier conditions. Lawns require about an inch of water a week.

 

Upgrade Your Hose

If watering with a hose, ensure there are no leaky connections. You’d be amazed at how much water is wasted from a worn out hose washer.

Not only will a new washer prevent leaks, but it will help to increase water pressure.

 

Select Your Plants

gardening - naturescaping

Choose drought-tolerant plants, which will thrive in dry soil, or, better yet, choose native plants, which are ideally suited to your soil and weather conditions.

Naturescaping (also known as GreenScaping or Beneficial Landscaping) reduces water, energy, and chemical usage in the garden while attracting native species of birds and insects.

With any – or all – of the conservation methods provided, your garden should thrive without causing you any guilt.


Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for freshness and consistency.

5 Tips For A Waste Free Office Lunch

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Most people focus their sustainability efforts at home as this is where they spend most of their time and have the most control. But what about time spent in the office? It is important to extend our Eco-friendly habits to the workplace as well.

Even when offices go green, they are often focusing on reducing energy and paper use rather than waste from employees’ lunches which may occur off their premises.

Business districts cater well to office workers. There are plenty of takeaway food options for busy people to grab on the go which often means being prepackaged. By the time you add cutlery, a drink and a bag to cart it away in, that’s a lot of waste generated from just one lunch. 

Until recently, I had always worked in industrial areas that had no eateries nearby so I took for granted that I’d bring my lunch in reusable containers and it was always waste free.

Since moving to a city office, I have been thrilled with all the food choices but also despair at how much waste is generated.

However with just a little pre-planning, you can easily have a waste free office lunch.

 

5 Ways To Reduce Your Lunch Waste At The Office

1. Bring your own lunch from home

packed lunch from home

Packing your lunch to bring to the office is the best way to avoid generating waste. In fact it can also save leftover food from being wasted. Leftovers taste better the next day too. 

If you don’t have leftovers to bring for lunch, sandwiches and wraps are quick to prepare options. But avoid the cling wrap and Ziploc bags and try these alternatives instead.

Bringing your own lunch instead of buying it is also usually healthier as well. Not only can you prepare a healthy meal rather than grabbing what’s convenient but you also avoid impulse purchases.

Another advantage of bringing your own lunch is that it saves you money. Eating out every day of the week can be expensive!

 

2. Bring your own container

While bringing your lunch to work from home is the best option, many people are not that organised. Knowing that there are many eateries close to the office can make it difficult to be motivated to prepare your own lunch. You may also plan to grab lunch with friends which can exclude bringing your lunch to the office.

There is nothing to stop you from bringing your own container though. You may be surprised to find that many food service outlets are happy to accept your container rather than placing your food into a plastic container. I have never been refused.

Bringing your own container is also a fantastic way to set an example for others. It is something that other people will notice you do and will hopefully encourage them to consider doing the same.

If you are providing your own container, try to use one that is close to the same size as a standard takeaway container. Businesses can be unsure how much to fill it up if the container is a different size or shape and don’t want to rip you off or give away their profits.

The above can be addressed by simply reusing a plastic takeaway container that you have received with a previous meal. Although considered disposable, plastic takeaway containers can be used many times and they’re actually nice and light to carry around with you.

Rather than lugging food containers between the office and home, just keep a container at your desk so that it is always available to use. 

 

3. Bring your own cutlery

waste free office lunch 1

Although many food businesses are beginning to replace plastic cutlery with bamboo utensils, all the bamboo still goes to waste. A reusable option is always preferable for the environment. I personally find it much more satisfying to eat off real cutlery rather than flimsy disposable ones.

Many offices will provide cutlery in the kitchen for staff to use. If not, ask if they can. If an office is serious about being sustainable, this is a simple and inexpensive way to help reduce employees’ waste.

If your office cannot or will not provide cutlery or you plan to eat out and about, you could purchase a travel utensil set. These are compact and easy to keep in your bag so that they’re always handy when you are getting lunch.

Something to practice is saying no to cutlery. This is easy to do when it is offered to you but often servers just add cutlery to your bag without asking. So get into the habit of saying no cutlery is required when placing your order.

 

4. Bring your own water bottle

When we’re eating, we get thirsty. What a great opportunity for food businesses to upsell you a drink in a plastic bottle. This will cost you extra money, the drink is likely to be unhealthy and contributes to the terrible impact plastic bottles have on our environment.

Instead, bring your own water bottle. It is healthier, will save you money and avoid polluting our planet.

Most people will already have a water bottle to drink from anyway. It’s just a case of remembering to take it with you when going out for lunch. 

 

5. Bring your own bag

reusable shopping bag

Now that you’re bringing a lunch container, cutlery and water bottle with you when you leave the office for lunch, it might be a bit awkward to carry all that around. Instead of accepting a bag from the food outlet, bring your own.

Plastic bags bans are progressively being implemented around the world. Businesses still need to provide bags to customers though so although they are transitioning to different materials, these bags still go to waste.

You may have a handbag or backpack that you already carry with you. I don’t like taking my backpack for a quick lunch outing though so instead I have a bag that folds up to not much larger than a business card that lives in my desk drawer until needed. 

Time now to get organised for your next waste free lunch!

Energy Depleting Foods to Avoid [Infographic]

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Rounding out your diet with foods that are both healthy and good for the environment can sometimes be challenging.

When you’re short on time, foods that come in individual wrapped servings can be a lifesaver, but in the long run they produce a lot of unnecessary waste.

Similarly, if you grab a quick bite at your local coffee shop on your way to work or throughout the day, you could be doing your body harm with foods that zap your energy rather than restore it.

Though a Frappuccino and coffee cake might give you a much-needed jolt at 9 a.m., it’s going to result in a sugar crash not long afterwards.

Check out this infographic to help you identify which foods in your diet are depleting your energy, and to see some healthier and more well-rounded options that you can easily substitute them for.

And if you’re looking for more healthy cooking inspiration, be sure to check out our collection of healthy eco-friendly recipes.

energy-depleting-foods

Vegetarian Pan-Fried Tofu Sushi

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vegetarian tofu sushi

Sushi is often more daunting to home cooks than it needs to be.

This is a simple recipe for a delicious meal that is easy to assemble, and can be eaten with hands rather than chopsticks.

Using an easy rolling technique that results in a wrap-like, triangle roll, this sushi can impress friends while teaching the rudiments of making sushi.

vegetarian sushi
Yield: 10 servings

Vegetarian Pan-Fried Tofu Sushi

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Passive Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

This is a simple recipe for a delicious meal that is easy to assemble, and can be eaten with hands rather than chopsticks.

Ingredients

  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced ginger
  • 1 block tofu
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Japanese mayonnaise
  • 10 nori sheets
  • 1 tbl sugar

Sushi Rice

  • 1 cup sushi rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/8 cup sushi vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tblsp sugar

Instructions

  1. Rinse the sushi rice under cold running water until the draining water runs clear – this will remove all the starch from the granules. Combine the sushi rice and the water in a medium saucepan and set it on the stove. Turn the heat to high and bring the rice to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer, covered, for 15 to 17 minutes or according to package directions. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes, covered.
  2. Whisk together the vinegar, salt and sugar in a small saucepan on the stove. Turn to medium heat and bring to a simmer then remove from heat. Place the rice in a large glass bowl and drizzle the vinegar mixture over top. Toss the rice using a large wooden spoon and allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes, tossing occasionally, until room temperature.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the tofu into ½-inch blocks. Sprinkle with the cut tofu evenly with the salt, tossing to evenly coat. Coat a deep bottomed frying pan with oil and bring to medium-high heat. Sprinkle a few drops of water onto the hot pan – it is ready when they bubble and sizzle. Cook the slices of tofu for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until dark golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towel.
  4. Spoon enough rice onto a nori sheet to cover it completely in a layer 1/8-inches thick. Place the desired amount of avocado, ginger, tofu and mayonnaise on a diagonal across the prepared nori sheet, making sure to make it only about 1-inch wide (and leaving enough to divide between the remaining 9 rolls). Fold up one of the bottom points at the end of the sushi filling, and roll up the rest of the roll, creating a triangle.

Notes

For a vegan version of this dish, omit the mayonnaise.

Nutrition Information

Yield

10

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 160Total Fat 11gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 1mgSodium 401mgCarbohydrates 11gFiber 3gSugar 2gProtein 6g

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Natural Gas Safety Tips and Leak Symptoms at Home

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natural gas safety tips at home

Natural Gas accounts for 21% of the global primary fuel. It’s not only used for cooking and baking and things like that but is also used in a variety of different places such as fireplaces, cars, furnaces, clothes dryers, etc.

The use of natural gas is extensive and relatively safe. Indeed, it’s one of the world’s cleanest fossil fuels, but it can get dangerous, even lethal, if not handled properly.

What do we mean by improper handling? And what can happen as a consequence?

Gas leaks can cause fires or worsen them. Inhalation of this gas can also cause poisoning, for instance, in the Los Angeles incident, where a natural gas storage system blew off. As a result, 1700 homes were evacuated, and people were asked not to return to those homes for at least three months.

Today we highlight tips and tricks to help you identify a gas leak and give you a few safety tips so you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Even a slight mishap can traumatize you for life or burn down your house, so better safe than sorry!

 

Gas Leak Symptoms at Home [+ Safety Tips]

natural gas leak symptoms

 

Natural Gas leaks are not that easy to detect if the leak is minor. But, do not underestimate the power of the leak because it can get hazardous for you. Look out for the following gas leaks sign so you can quickly repair the damage and stay safe.

 

1. You Will Start Smelling Rotten Eggs

Natural gas is odorless. However, gas companies have added a chemical to it so that when there is a leak, we can detect it. This is why your house or any place having a gas leak will start smelling like rotten eggs.

If any hissing sounds from the pipe accompany that smell, you know for sure that there is a gas leak.

Safety Tip: If you smell that rotten egg stench, stay vigilant and find the source of the smell. Even if you only get the slightest suspicion of a gas leak, call a qualified repair person to look at it. It’s better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your home and loved ones.

 

2. Rusty Landscape

If there is a gas leak, your grass, backyard, or vegetation may start turning brown and rusty. Why does this happen? Gas leak results in carbon monoxide replacing the oxygen in the plants.

Safety Tip: If you see your plants or grass turning brown for no reason, it’s time to call in the gas line repair technician and get new lines installed or get your pipes repaired.

 

3. Dead Houseplants

Your houseplants will keep dying in the house if there is a gas leak? It occurs for the same reason your backyard turns rusty and brown. If your house plants start drying up even when you faithfully water and tend them, you may have a problem with your gas pipes.

Safety tip: Keep an eye out for dead houseplants, especially when you water, and tend to them regularly.

 

4. Bodily Symptoms

gas leak effects on the body

While a few things around the house might alert you to a gas leak, a common telltale sign of a leak is the toll it takes on humans.

If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or a family member and can’t attribute it to anything else, perhaps it’s time to call the gas company for an immediate house assessment and trace the leak.

Some of the symptoms to look out for include:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Pain in the chest
  • Nose bleeds
  • Ringing in your ears
  • A low appetite
  • Drowsiness
  • Flu-like symptoms

Safety tip: If you notice any of these physical symptoms for no other reason, you should immediately call 911 and get out of the house immediately. Gas poisoning can get extremely dangerous.

We also strongly suggest that you get a Gas Safety Certificate after proper inspection of the place if you don’t already have one. And even if you do, it is always wise to get the check-up done again if you get suspicious about any gas leaks.

 

Other Signs that Your Gas Pipeline has a Leak

Other signs of a leaking gas pipe include:

  • Water being blown into the air from one spot
  • Any fire or sudden explosions
  • Pipe exposure after some disaster such as flooding or hurricane.
  • Loss of Scent

You might also experience a loss of scent from the natural gas. The loss of smell is caused by either oxidation, absorption, or a combination of both.

 

Emergency Safety Tips

If you notice any of the above symptoms of a gas leak, don’t take any risks, follow these steps:

  • Turn off the main gas supply to the house immediately.
  • Open the windows and allow the place to ventilate.
  • Call your Gas Company immediately to come and check for any gas leaks.
  • If the odor is strong, you need to evacuate your house immediately.
  • If the Gas leak is volatile, it can cause an explosion, which means you need to leave the house, get to a safe place and then call your gas company or 911

It is also critical to have a carbon monoxide detector in your house to save you from carbon monoxide poisoning.

 

Conclusion

However, it’s also volatile and dangerous under certain circumstances. If you notice any of these symptoms at home, don’t panic. Follow these steps, and you just might save yourself, loved ones, and your home.

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