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Butter Substitutes for a Vegan Diet

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Butter Substitutes

Finding vegan substitutes for daily animal-based products is one of the challenges of converting to veganism. Fortunately, there is a market-ready for vegan products

A common misconception about the vegan lifestyle is that it requires you to stay away from delicious food. This is based on the myth that vegan alternatives don’t compare to the non-vegan products used in gourmet foods.

The vegan way of life doesn’t mean you have to stop being a foodie. There are excellent plant-based options for people looking for a healthy, tasty vegan meal. If anything, the vegan lifestyle ensures that you stay healthy while being a happy foodie. Vegan alternatives have more fiber and less unsaturated fat, unlike dairy based cooking ingredients.

Butter is an important part of cooking, often considered a staple ingredient in most households. It is an inevitable part of a wide range of cuisines and recipes ranging from baking and pan-frying to sandwich spreads.

Fortunately, going vegan doesn’t require you to avoid all the recipes that include butter. Plant-based fats exist that can replace dairy-based butter in taste and texture. A little research shows you which product to use for each type of cooking.

 

Oil alternatives

Plant-based oils can adequately replace butter for frying purposes. However, choose your cooking oil depending on the heating temperature the recipe recommends.

Some oils have a higher smoking point than others. You shouldn’t use oils with a lower smoking point in cooking that involves high heat.

This can be extremely harmful to your body. Oils that have higher smoking points include sunflower oil and sesame oil. Extra virgin olive oil has a low smoking point and should not be used in cooking. However, you can use regular olive oil in low heat cooking.

 

Coconut oil

cononut oil

Coconut oil comes closest to butter in terms of texture. It can pretty much be used in all kinds of recipes that use butter in a one-to-one ratio.

Coconut oil has a low smoking point like butter, so that it can be used in high-heat cooking as well, just like butter. Even the foaming effect of heated butter can be achieved by mixing coconut oil with cold water, in which case, you should mix three-quarters coconut oil with one-quarter cold water.

Taste is the only significant difference between butter and coconut oil. Coconut oil has a predominant coconut flavor, which usually works well with baking, but not all cooked dishes need the coconut flavor.

Using coconut oil in baking is exactly like baking with butter if certain things are taken care of. The water content helps make cookies soft. This may prove tricky with pure coconut oil since it has no water. But, mixing cold coconut oil with cold water can quickly resolve this issue.

 

Vegan sandwich spreads

vegan sandwich spread

Several kinds of nut butter can effectively replace dairy butter in sandwiches. Nut butter is typically 50% fat as opposed to the 80% fat content in dairy butter.

In baking recipes that require more fat, combine nut butter with an oil, preferably coconut oil, before using. This butter is best used as sandwich spreads, arguably better than dairy-based butter since nut butter is more flavorful.

Nut butter can be used as a 1:1 substitute in baking. Hummus is also an excellent vegan sandwich spread, which works better in flavor and nutrients than dairy-based butter.

 

Vegan Butter

butter substitutes

If none of the butter substitutes work for you, don’t worry; vegan butter is available in markets. Vegan butter is made from plant-based milk.

The specific ingredients of vegan butter differ from brand to brand. Some of the most commonly used ingredients are coconut oil, canola, soybean, sunflower oil, flax seeds, palm, and olive oils. Some brands avoid soy since it can trigger allergies in people. Others depend entirely on nuts such as cashew, almond, and macadamia

Understandably, the taste of vegan butter differs from brand to brand depending on the ingredients. However, in general, vegan butter is supposed to taste quite like dairy-based butter and perfectly resembles dairy-based butter in texture.

Vegan butter can be used in pretty much all the ways that dairy-based butter is used. However, the type that suits a particular recipe requires research and asking around. Fortunately, there are several vegan cooking groups and communities online that offer advice on vegan food alternatives.

Off-Grid Living: Architectural and Environmental Considerations

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off grid living

The world is a pretty crazy place at the moment. Although the focus this year has mainly been on the coronavirus pandemic, some of the other big stories are around climate change and the need to change how our societies function for more equality and greater consciousness in the world.

This has led to more and more people considering the idea of going off-grid – using their own energy sources, disposing of their waste in a conscientious manner, and becoming as self-sufficient as possible, for example. 

The problem with going off-grid, however, is that it can be a rather daunting prospect, and for many, it requires a large amount of research and learning before getting started. Here, we have broken down the basics for you, so that you can begin to take the first steps towards off-grid living…

 

Energy

off grid energy

Unless you plan on living as they did in the Middle Ages, the main consideration that you will need to make is how you are going to supply your home with energy. This means heating your house as well as having electricity to cook, use appliances, and power your fridge, for example. 

Solar and wind energy are good options for renewable energy. However, they require solar panels and wind turbines, depending on where you are located. 

You will probably also need to have a back-up power option. The winter might not give you adequate sunlight for your needs, so some people choose to have an oil back-up option. This would require having a storage tank where you can keep your oil – and a plastic one is the preferred option.

According to tank specialists, Tanks For Everything, “Plastic heating tanks are a good choice as they are less prone to corrosion than some metal tanks. This is because they consist of an inner tank where the oil is stored and an outer tank, which exists to provide protection to the inner tank. Slimline bunded oil tanks are a sensible option if you are in an environmentally sensitive environment, or for storing a large quantity of oil.”

Ensuring that your home is well insulated is a great way of reducing the amount of energy that you will need to heat or cool your home. You could consider cavity wall insulation, loft, or floor insulation.

 

Waste

compost

Although we now have many more options for getting rid of household waste in a green and sustainable way, there is much that you can do yourself in a self-sufficient, off-grid home. For instance, turn vegetable peelings and tea bags into compost and use it to feed your garden. Also, you can consider doing the same with your human waste.

Compost toilets have changed over time and now offer a more viable option to anyone conscientious about their waste.

When it comes to grey water, you will probably need to have a septic tank if you are truly off-grid and not connected to the sewage network. The septic tank will need to be emptied every now and then, but this is a simple process.

You can also set up water systems that can help you to reuse wastewater that is not dirty or contaminated to be used to flush toilets or water the garden.

 

Water

water

You must think about how to get clean and usable water when going off the grid. For drinking water, if you don’t have a spring nearby, you should consider digging a well or borehole to obtain clean water directly from under the ground.

If you are planning on getting a borehole or well and using it substantially (over 20m³ of water per day), you will, however, need to obtain a license. During this process, they will check that it is safe to do this from a geological point of view, as well as checking the quality of the water.

Additionally, you can consider rainwater harvesting where you collect rainwater for use in various functions at home. We’ve argued for rain barrels in the past as a great option. Depending on your intended use, getting a water purification system helps in cleaning out the water and ensuring it’s uncontaminated.

 

Food Self-Sufficiency

off grid - food

It is not always possible to go completely food self-sufficient, but the more than you can do, the closer you are to real off-grid living. You could do some research into the best fruit and vegetables to grow in your area, and consider getting some chickens, bees, or maybe even a cow. This not only helps to keep you healthy, but it also gives you something to feel proud about.

In a world that is becoming progressively concerned about climate change and sustainability, living off-grid is becoming an increasingly appealing idea for many people. Although there is some work required to set up your home, off-grid living gives you complete control over the impact that your house is having on the world around you and allows you to live in a green, sustainable way.

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The 5 Most Energy Consuming Household Appliances (and What to do About Them!!)

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home appliances 2

30% of all U.S. electricity goes to powering homes, which is more electricity than either the commercial or the industrial sector uses.

The huge energy consumption in houses is in part due to the huge amount of energy that home appliances use. And while we’ve come a long way since the 70s when refrigerators consumed at least 4 times as much energy as they do now, home appliances still take up a lot of energy.

In 2019, U.S. homes used an average of 887 kWh* per month.

Appliances that are left on for hours, days, or even months, such as refrigerators and freezers, tend to be the biggest culprits. Other appliances, such as toasters and coffee makers, less so because of the short and quick outburst of energy that they need.

It’s important to realize where your energy is being used, as it informs choices you make in your day to day life.

So, in that spirit, let’s take a look at the top 5 offending home appliances.

 

5. Refrigerator/Freezers

boy looking in fridge
Photo via Eric May

Fridges (and separate freezers) have come a long way in the last few decades, but they’re by no means off the list. These household appliances are left on for months on end, or even years.

In fact, refrigerators are the top-consuming kitchen appliance in U.S. using approximately 30-200 kWh/month.

I know, that’s a huge range.

The reason is because a lot of people have older appliances that aren’t energy efficient. The newer your appliances, the more likely that they’re energy efficient. There are also other factors such as brand, product size, temperature settings, etc. that can factor into the energy they use.

However, there are ways to make your fridge more energy efficient, regardless of what make or model you have.

  1. Defrost your fridge regularly. More than 0.25 inches of frost build-up effects the appliance’s efficiency.
  2. Check the thermostat to ensure that it’s between 36 to 38 degrees F (or for freezers, it’s 0 to 5 degrees F) (-17.8 to -15 degrees C)
  3. Check the door seals by closing the door on a piece of paper. The paper should remain held firmly in place. If not, replace the seal.
  4. Get into good habits by labeling food so you can find it quickly, cooling hot food before putting it in the fridge and knowing what you want before you open the fridge.

 

4. Humidifiers

air conditioner

Certain humid basements need dehumidifiers to ensure that mold and mildew don’t begin to grow, but people often keep them at a much higher setting than what is necessary.

Dehumidifiers are commonly used in humid, wet areas like South Florida or the U.S. Northwest, where too much water vapor in the air causes mold to grow, which in turn encourages the growth of dust mites. It also destroys personal belongings.

Many people leave dehumidifiers on 24/7, making them a huge energy fiend and using 160 kWh/month, which is probably more than your refrigerator uses.

Of course, it all depends on how you use the appliance. To reduce your dehumidifier’s energy consumption, try these steps:

  • Close off the room (shut doors and windows) where the dehumidifier is working.
  • Set the humidistat at a reasonable number. 50% humidity is considered average for basements, but any lower and you’ll likely have to keep your machine on for longer.
  • Check the humidistat regularly and turn it off when you see it’s at a reasonable number.

 

3. Water Heaters

shower

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating water is responsible for 12% of U.S. home energy use. On average 400 kWh/month is used heating water.

And no wonder!

We use hot water in showers, washing hands, cleaning dishes and clothes.

The good news is, how much energy you actually use on heating water is all up to how you use it – so the power is in your hands!

Pun definitely intended.

Here are a few ways to keep your heating of water in check:

  • Water doesn’t need to be hotter than about 120 F.
  • Take shorter showers
  • Avoid taking too many baths
  • Wash clothes in cold or cool water
  • Turn off the “water heat” feature on the dishwasher
  • If you haven’t already, don’t forget to insulate the hot-water storage tank and first 6 feet (1.8 meters) of pipes connected to the tank, so you’re not losing heat during storage and transport.
  • Remove a quart of water from the tank every three months to limit sediment build-up that can lower the appliances efficiency.
  • Install a drain-water heat recovery system to capture the energy in used water.

 

2. Air Conditioning

man sleeping on deck
Photo via bark

In 1980, 27% of homes in the United States had central air conditioning; in 2001, that number jumped to over 70%.

Because air conditioners vary wildly from home to home, the amount of energy that each one uses varies wildly between 200 to 1,800 kWh/month.

To improve your air conditioners energy usage, try these steps:

  • Have a professional check the air conditioner every year. Proper fluid levels, coolant charge and insulation are crucial to keep the device working efficiently.
  • Upgrade to a timed thermostat that will automatically switch off the AC as the temperature outside gets cooler.
  • Make sure you have at least 16 inches of insulation in your attic. This will keep more of the sun’s heat out of your living space so the air conditioning doesn’t have to work as hard.

 

1. Home Heating System

home

A huge energy consumer, albeit an extremely necessary one, your typical home heating system uses between 5,000kWh and 30,000 kWh/year.

How much you use depends on your heating system, and is somewhat out of your hands unless you can afford an expensive upgrade.

Here are a few tips and tricks in the meantime:

  • Upgrade to a programmable thermostat (not as expensive).
  • Set the thermostat to the lowest temperature that you’re comfortable at.
  • Replace your filters on a regular basis.
  • Seal and insulate your home’s ducts.
  • Make sure nothing is blocking your vents.
  • If you’re feeling a bit cold, put on a sweatshirt before turning on the heat.

*1kWh = 1,000 kilowatts per hour. See this article for further information.

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

The Best Green Technology for Future Homes

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green technology for future homes

Global warming, toxic waste, pollution, illness all are tell-tale signs of a rapidly deteriorating world.

That’s exactly the reason why we should all do our part and implement new products and technologies that are green and eco-friendly.  Sure – if we are thinking of remodeling or building a home, we can think of eco-friendly materials such as solar panels, but there are also other types of products that can make our home greener. It’s important that we start thinking of using recycled materials, water efficient appliances and low energy products.

The following are just a few green technology products we can integrate into our homes.

 

What are these green technologies?

Energy Efficient Appliances

energy efficient appliances

The Energy Star standard is there for consumers, and is a set rating implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and now used worldwide.

This is star rating that informs consumers just how energy efficient an appliance is. It is an effort to conserve energy and prevent further greenhouse effects, so when buying appliances, be sure to look for the highest Energy Star standard available.

 

Renewable Energy Generation

Many homeowners are looking into renewable energy source products, installing solar water heaters, gas power generation, hot space and water heating products.  These are energy efficient but more importantly, they are low cost in maintenance and operation.

 

Wind Turbine

Well, for instance, there are home wind turbines that offer electrical power in 48, 24 or 12 VDS. These are small turbines that sit on the top of a home and  measure about 55 inches high and 30 inches in diameter. The cost of these turbines is still somewhat high at starting costs of just over $10,000.

 

Solar Heaters

solar water heating 1

These are also nifty little alternative energy products. These are heaters that use the sun’s energy to heat air and then pass it through the home’s thermal chimney and into the room, making for warmer winter indoor temperatures without the need for standard electricity.

There are also solar water heaters that use the sun’s rays to heat water for use around the home.

 

Rain barrels

Believe it or not, a rain barrel will be one of the most important green appliance you can have in your future home. Why? Because clean drink water will become an increasingly rare commodity thanks to global warming and pollution.

In fact, water futures are set to join the likes of gold and oil trading on Wall Street, underlining water’s importance.

A rain barrel lets you harvest and store rain water for future use. You can use it to water your garden, which is one of the major water hogs around the home. Alternatively, treat the water for use around the home.

 

Solar panels

solar panels

Solar panels are one of the best green investments for your home of the future. Modern photovoltaic panels are more efficient, and cheaper than their predecessors, making them a cost-effective solution for your energy needs.

Furthermore, thanks to state and federal solar incentives, you can get solar at home for a fraction of the cost. They reduce your energy bill, and have been shown to increase the value of your home.

In fact, if your biggest worry is the unsightly look of solar panels on your roof, you can now get modern solar shingles that fit right in with your existing roof. In fact, you’re basically replacing some roofing tiles with solar roofing tiles that generate you electricity. How cool is that?

 

Eco-Friendly building materials

Okay, so many homeowners haven’t gone as far as installing solar heaters, panels or wind turbines, but many do now use Eco-building materials.

These have a minimal impact on the environment and also help conserve energy. They need minimal maintenance and can be cleaned without toxic chemicals.

For instance, cellulose insulation offers a low organic compound that has a minimal effect on the environment. And of course, when we talk of  Eco-friendly building materials we refer to those made of plants, sustainable lumber, recycled stone and non-toxic products.

Green homes are efficient and make good use of sunlight, wind and save energy.

 

The Eco-Friendly Building Conclusion

There are many ways to make your home greener. It’s not a process that starts with construction, especially not if you already own your home. But it is one that starts with the products you buy. This can be everything from the alarm clock you need to that pretty throw rug (get one made of bamboo). It’s all just a matter of everyone thinking a little GREENER.

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

How to Have a Beautiful Christmas – Without Breaking Your Eco-Credentials

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Christmas is a time for family, friends and above all, giving back. However, have you ever thought about what we all end up giving to the world over the holiday period? Increased emissions from vehicles and planes as we all rush to get home, mountains of uneaten food, wrapping and non-degradable decor going into landfill… along with all those unwanted Christmas gifts!

This Christmas, make a pact to keep your Eco-credentials – your bank balance will be better off, and you’ll have a beautiful, guilt free Christmas!

 

Travel Green

travel green

First things first, you’re going to need to get to your destination, or if you’re the Christmas hub then everyone will be coming to you.

While travel looks increasingly uncertain this Christmas due to the pandemic, you can still make your trip green by opting for greener transport like trains and buses. If that’s not possible, get you close family bubble to carpool to cut down on your family’s carbon footprint.

Need to see family abroad? Avoid planes if you can, as they are the worst culprits for carbon emissions in transport.You may decide to use a cruise boat or sail across the ocean, but given the COVID19 situation, especially on cruise ships, you may want to shelve your plans for now.

For shorter distances around the neighborhood, use a bike to get around.

 

Buy the Right Gifts

christmas gifts

It’s hard to buy a gift that someone will love if you don’t know them well, and you always run the risk of purchasing something that will just sit in the recipient’s attic for a while and then get thrown in the bin. Get each of your family to create Christmas lists, so you know the present you’re giving is wanted and won’t go to waste. If possible, smaller presents from Eco-conscious retailers and manufacturers are best.

Otherwise, go alternative with your gifts. For the people that seemingly have everything, why not get a charitable gift, so someone less fortunate in the world will get a life-changing opportunity? Handmade gifts go down well too – why not try layering your favorite cake, brownie or cookie recipe dry (organic) ingredients in a glass jar, label with the recipe, and wrap in a bow? Cute, yummy, and Eco-friendly. The jar can be reused for dry foods, and the ribbon can also be reused.

If you’re wrapping gifts, try newspaper (black and white text can be very chic when teamed with a black satin bow!) or wrapping made out of recycled paper, and be sure to recycle it all afterwards!

In fact, why not go one step further and eat your wrapping paper? No, I’m not crazy – check out this edible wrapping paper trend!

For more Christmas gift ideas, check out the following guides to get the perfect gift for every member of the family:

 

Keep it Real

Christmas tree

Fake Christmas trees and other greenery don’t only not look as good as the real thing, they also end up in landfill. However, though real, cut trees are biodegradable, they have a short lifespan and they’re just as bad Eco-wise – there’s the deforestation, emissions from tractors and the transport to get them to your home, plus disposal afterwards.

Go for a real, living tree you can keep in the garden and use from year to year. Make sure it has a big pot to thrive in, and only bring it indoors for three days at most – make it a tradition to decorate the tree on Christmas Eve, and take it down on Boxing Day.

You end up saving on the annual price of a Christmas tree and enjoy the tree year-round.

 

Eco Decor

christmas decorations

Firstly, don’t fall into the trap of having a new Christmas color scheme every year! If you have lots of lovely decorations, they can be used year after year, and once they wear out can gradually be replaced with some more Eco-friendly options.

Popcorn strings make a great alternative to tinsel, salt dough ornaments can look very stylish when painted, scraps of fabric or old clothes can be up-cycled into cute, padded decorations, and you can try making your own baubles by painting old light bulbs.

Ideally, re-use, recycle, or up-cycle. Get creative with what you already have. Check out these guides for easy DIY Christmas up-cycling ideas:

 

Only Buy What You Need

Christmas shopping

Often we see Christmas as a time for opulence, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re not going to be able to eat that whole turkey within a few days, why not get a crown cut instead or turn your leftovers into a myriad of yummy dishes and freeze?

Think about what you throw away every year, and don’t get sucked into supermarket special offers – yes, a pound of Brussels sprouts may be on a great deal, but if only Uncle Marvin likes them opt for a small amount or make some apologies!

How are you being greener this Christmas holiday season?

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

Best Eco-Friendly Gifts for Moms

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gift for mom

Turning into a mom doesn’t mean stopping to have one’s own needs. Moms all over the world deserve to be celebrated – and what better way to celebrate them than by giving them something among the best eco-friendly gifts for moms?

If you’re planning to shop for an eco-friendly gift for your mom, here are some options that can ease your search.

Are there any eco-friendly gifts for mom that we missed? Let us know your favorites in the comments!

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.

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