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Guide to an Environmentally-Friendly Office

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environmentally-friendly-office

Most people spend almost a third of their lives at the office. Work-based activities can have a huge impact on the environment and sometimes we are completely oblivious to it.  

Aside from switching off standby appliances at the socket, here are twelve comprehensive tips for an environmentally-friendly office:

 

Less Paper

Environmentally-Friendly Office - less paper

It may not be possible to go full “paperless” with all the regulatory requirements still present in most industries, but offices certainly have the potential to use less paper during the daily grind. It is all about creating awareness.

Try this simple experiment to get everyone on board:

  • For a week, put all waste paper in a central point (a bag/bin/room) and ask staff to write their names on each piece contributed.
  • Pile up what each department uses for a visual of how much they contribute weekly.
  • At the end of the week, brainstorm the following questions:
    • Did it really need to be printed in the first place?
    • Did it need to be printed on regular paper or would recycled/scrap paper do?
    • What would need to happen for it not to be printed?

TIP: The point is not to name and shame but to create a consciousness about paper usage.

Some departments will use more paper than others but where there is a greater awareness of the problem, innovative solutions will follow. The exercise will create an ongoing dialogue, even pushing competition between departments to reduce paper usage.

Discuss these ideas within each department:

  • Does everyone need a copy of the agenda or could it be projected or accessed digitally?
  • Could you dedicate one printer to recycled paper and make this a default for the office?
  • Can everyone print double-sided documents and are printers set to this as a default?
  • Does every staff member know how to work projectors?
  • Could the office have an e-filing system in place?
  • Can the office use electronic schedulers, task-reminders, online telephone listings, and online catalogs as a general rule?
  • Are you still using fax to email?
  • Can everyone create email attachments with a clear image instead of faxing documents?
  • Create an office policy about sharing online and decide what documents must be printed?

Make a game of it and reward the best-improved department with cash back, long lunch breaks or a quirky certificate.

Done in a positive spirit, it may even become a great team building exercise during the year.  

 

More Competition

A “green” team at work could help focus efforts, win over management, encourage participation, and implement practical changes.  

Encourage others to go green by using Eco-friendly pens and pencils, recycled office notebooks, virtual post-its, and shared office space (colocation). Make it fun.

  • Distribute fact sheets, offer incentives, and host promotional events.
  • Schedule orientation sessions at the outset.
  • Meet regularly to evaluate the success of your program.
  • Keep all staff informed of the results of their efforts.

 

Less Water

Water wastage is high on the office front. Employees are not generally accountable for the water bill, which leads to inefficient practices and little concern for day-to-day water volume.

Try these water-saving tips:

  • Fill up the kettle using your mug, for the exact number of mugs you will be drinking.
  • Install timers on taps and urinals, and dual-flush toilets which save 6 liters per flush.

 

More Compost

Compost bins are typically handled by a commercial composting company, as the degree of materials being tossed in is beyond the capabilities of typical backyard compost bins.

Items may include paper, waxed paper, and meat scraps. It is also an ideal way to reduce an office’s general garbage load.

 

More or Less Energy

sustainable office lighting

Change out to more sustainable lighting, use solar power, and take advantage of natural light and solar heating.

Yes, energy-saving light bulbs are a great investment in the long-run, too.  

There is even an Eco-range of computers so you don’t need to sacrifice processing power for sustainability.

  • Try pulling up blinds or positioning workstations near windows instead of turning lights on.
  • Open or close windows instead of using air conditioners.
  • Consider lowering the thermostat slightly in the winter and increasing it slightly in the summer. Even a degree or two in either direction can save as much as ten percent on overall heating bills.
  • Program the thermostat and the lights for nights and weekends (with manual override for when employees are working overtime).

 

More Mobilization

Mobile workforce solutions can benefit many industries, such as trade services.

This technology is also being implemented in forward-thinking offices, revolutionizing departments such as IT, HR and Finance.

From an environmental standpoint, an employee will reduce their carbon footprint by eliminating the need to commute daily.

Paper-based procedures are being streamlined, employees work remotely, and mobile applications allow for dynamic data capture, recorded and accessed from anywhere in the world.

 

Less Waste

The waste present is wholly dependent on the nature of your business but it is worth streamlining recycling to minimize landfill contributions.

The average office worker generates 1.5 pounds of waste paper per day – and most of it can be recycled!

Most office blocks now have to have a system in place and, even if yours doesn’t, it’s very easy to purchase cheap bins and label them, paper, metal, plastic.

Recycling bins in the photocopy room, lunchroom and in each department will create visual reminders for people. If staff members are unhappy to lose garbage cans, offer tiny desktop garbage cans instead.

Place garbage cans in central areas throughout the office, and in the lunchroom.

 

Shredded Paper

Check with the local recycler and if it isn’t accepted, try these shredded paper ideas instead:

  • animal bedding,
  • worm bins for gardens,
  • mulch,
  • homemade papers of your own,
  • packing and storage
  • fire log home-production.

If not covered in soil (like tissues) or any sort of un-papery coatings such as wax or foils, put it in a tub and find a recycler to take it.

 

Coated Paper

Waxy papers such as milk and juice cartons are “poly-coated paperboard containers” and are also recyclable.

Keep these separate from other papers after rinsing as they undergo hydro-pulping to clean them for reuse.

 

Newspaper

Tied in bundles or neatly stacked, newspapers are great for starting a garden, too. Lay it on the ground, over a lawn, and you will never have to dig it up.

Lay straw on top of it and, next year, plant right through it. You won’t even have to weed!

 

Glass

Reuse cluttering bud vases by sending them back to flower receivers again.

Don’t contaminate the glass bin with ceramics which are not recyclable and neither are crystal or heat-resistant glasses.

Keep different colored glasses separate from one another.

 

Aluminum

If a magnet won’t stick to it, rinse it off and put it into the aluminum bin with foil, soda cans, and scraps of broken fixtures.

TIP: Make sure there is a place for pop cans. these can be donated to charitable organizations.

 

Plastic

Collect anything plastic, rinse it out, divide it by the numbers in the little recycling triangles on each piece. Put it in a plastic bin with a plastic smiley face on it and haul it out on the plastic cart. Hooray!

 

Steel

If a magnet sticks to it, go ahead and put it in the bin for steel. Canned foods from the kitchen will fall into this category much of the time.

 

Trash Bags

If not soiled, don’t pull them out with the trash. Dump them into the larger bin and reuse the liners.

 

Computers and Batteries

All your data machines can be erased and recycled. Contact a reputable electronics recycler to pick up your dinosaur friends, wipe them clean electronically, and send them off to be safely reused.

The same goes for batteries.

 

Furniture

Do the earth a favor and shop secondhand. Donate furniture to charity, offer it in ads, let employees know that if they can think of someone who can use it, and refurbish it.

 

Cardboard

Get your corrugation in line and recycle twice. First, take the box home for the kids to play with, then bring it back and get it recycled.

The same goes for glossy magazines, phone books, and paper.

 

Ink Cartridges

Keep a small, plastic-lined box nearby for the used containers when changing them out.

 

Light Bulbs

CFL and fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, a highly poisonous element.

These need to be recycled and you can obtain kits that will help you do the job safely.

Aren’t you glad THAT’s not going into the water supply?

 

Cater better

sustainable office food

If everyone went meatless for one meal a week, it would be the equivalent, in terms of carbon emission savings, as taking 5 million cars off the road.

Besides, choosing the vegetarian option is often a healthier mealtime arrangement.

There is also plenty of room for improvement in the break room:

  • If the lunchroom contains paper crockery and cutlery – recycle it. Have the business invest in normal reusable dishes and cutlery.
  • Stop buying small sachets of coffee and tea and start filling up your own flask with Starbucks each morning instead of buying disposable beverage containers.
  • Have a wash-up roster to ease the pressure if you do not have a cleaning service.
  • Pack zero-waste lunches with reusable lunch bags, food containers, storage containers, silverware, and mugs.
  • Use fair-trade organic coffee and offer employees the best tasting cup o’ joe that also pays its employees well and treats the earth with respect.

 

Commute and relax better

Carpool where possible and pool resources for gas. It creates a system of Eco-responsibility and gives workers incentives to ride bikes and look for green alternatives.

Look for ways to reward employees who do their best to limit their footprint and, even better, work from home.

Providing a space where employees can get access to fresh air, green leaves and calm, quiet surroundings – away from the frenetic pace of downtown – will do wonders for staff morale and so productivity.

Why not green-up the office spaces with lots of plants for air purification, the removal of toxic gases, scented offices, and even a greenhouse supply of fresh vegetables and herbs for the lunch room.

Plants also help reduce incidences of asthma, dust allergies and migraines within an office, and several are recommended by NASA, specifically for office use.

 

Look and feel better

It might not be a fashionable new suit, but used clothing and uniforms does the job. Save money and the environment by wearing previously owned clothing.

If you don’t like the fit you can always have it altered, investing in your local craftsmen and recycling perfectly good materials.

This applies to furniture and equipment, too.

Rent it, refurbish it, and shop from secondhand stores instead of ordering a new set.

While you’re at it, ensure natural, sustainable furniture and non-toxic cleaning products are being used around the office.

Green antibacterial cleaning products get rid of germs while protecting the environment, including multi-surface cleaners, polish, cloths, air fresheners, and purifiers.

The health benefits are numerous and the environment will thank you for the change!

Benefits include:

  • Fewer sick days in general (thanks to fewer chemicals for respiratory illness and allergies).
  • Improved indoor air quality.
  • Minimized wear on office furniture.
  • A positive reflection on a business image (ethics and marketing).

 

Meet better

Eco-friendly office meetings

Before the meeting, think through the implications of travel, which adds to pollution in a big way.

Keep meetings close to home or choose a central venue for all candidates if you must meet in person.

Online solutions are both financially and environmentally more sustainable for any business so why not video-conference in instead?

At the meeting, use smart boards, projectors, and digital tools instead of paper handouts. If you must use paper, print it on recycled pieces and recycle any left behind after the meeting.

Check your toner-saving settings (with recyclable toner cartridges) and print on both sides of the paper, while avoiding any extra copies.

If catering, opt for glasses and mugs rather than disposable cups (approximately 25 billion Styrofoam cups are thrown out in the US every year). Use bulk dispensers for cream, sugar, and coffee, and real teaspoons.

Ensure the caterer provides vegetarian choices and makes uses of local, seasonal produce.

 

Compute better

Computers and other electrical appliances suck the life out of the office budget, literally.

Know how things work to optimize energy-usage for computers and other key office essentials:

  • Standby Mode uses almost as much power as a computer left on. Power down machines before staff leave at night.
  • Data centers require cooling of servers and huge amounts of power. Consider moving over to virtualized servers, running your business on a cloud. Cloud computing works out cheaper massively reduces your carbon footprint.
  • Charge stations will help reduce random chargers left in the staff terminals.
  • Consider energy ratings before purchasing new electrical equipment.
  • Cheap, old equipment isn’t energy efficient. Old machines need replacement even if they ‘still work.’

 

The Biggest Challenge

When going green, the biggest challenge is getting user buy-in. As with anything new, it is going to take time for everyone to adapt.

The easiest way to make the whole procedure as seamless as possible is by educating everyone and being patient with individuals.

Have a clear objective in mind (reduce the energy bill by X% or cut the amount of paper being thrown away by half etc) and ensure everyone knows the goal.

Prove it isn’t a passing fad and show staff these are permanent changes. Before you know it, your office will be Eco-friendly.

There are lots of advantages to making your business as green as possible:

  • Being Eco-friendly is good PR, which is always good for business;
  • Being Eco-friendly makes you look good to potential employees and business partners;
  • When done properly, green practices are cost-saving practices. It’s cheaper, in the long run, to be kind to the environment.

And, of course, you’re helping the planet!

What other simple ways have you implemented to reduce your carbon footprint at the office?


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

The Economic Case for Going Green: Why It Makes Good Business Sense

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the economic case for going green for businesses

As the world becomes increasingly aware of the need to protect the environment, businesses are under pressure to adopt greener practices. But it’s not just about doing the right thing – there are compelling economic reasons for businesses to go green.

Here are six of the most important:

 

  1. Reduce expenses

going green to reduce business expenses

Businesses have long been searching for ways to reduce expenses and increase profits. Many companies have turned to environmental sustainability to achieve these goals in recent years.

Going green can help businesses save money, from reducing energy costs to decreasing waste disposal fees.

One proven green practice is to reduce energy consumption. Businesses can accomplish this by using energy-efficient lighting, appliances, and office equipment. Studies have shown that businesses can save an average of 30% on their energy bills by making these changes.

Additionally, businesses can reduce water consumption by installing low-flow fixtures and using drought-tolerant landscaping. These measures can save an average of 20% on water bills.

In fact, a report by the World Wildlife Fund found that businesses that adopt sustainable practices can save an average of 2-4% on operating costs.

Additionally, customers are increasingly interested in supporting environmentally responsible companies. A National Geographic survey found that 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for products and services from companies committed to sustainability.

 

  1. Increase revenue

Going green can also help businesses increase their revenue. For example, Eco-friendly products are often seen as more desirable by consumers, and companies can charge a premium for them.

In a study by Nielsen, 66 percent of respondents said they were willing to pay more for sustainable products, and 72 percent said they would recommend a brand to others if it was sustainable.

This is because sustainability is becoming increasingly important for consumers when they make purchasing decisions.

 

  1. Improve employee engagement and morale

Going green not only helps to improve the environment but can also positively impact employee engagement and productivity. Younger generations, particularly, are increasingly interested in working for Eco-conscious companies.

In a survey of millennials, 61 percent said they would not work for a company that did not have sustainable business practices.

By implementing green initiatives such as recycling programs and energy-efficient lighting, businesses communicate that they are committed to sustainability. This helps attract and retain employees who are passionate about making a difference.

In addition, going green can help to improve employee morale and motivation. When workers feel that they are part of a company that is making a positive impact on the world, they are more likely to be engaged and productive. As more and more businesses adopt green practices, it is clear that going green is good for both the planet and the bottom line.

 

  1. Attract investment

When businesses adopt greener practices, they often can attract more investment. This can come in the form of green bonds, specifically earmarked for environmentally-friendly projects, or green loans, which tend to be offered at more favorable terms than traditional financing.

Businesses may also be eligible for federal and state subsidies or grants for pursuing green initiatives. And finally, investors are increasingly interested in supporting companies working to reduce their environmental impact. By adopting greener practices, businesses can tap into this growing pool of capital and position themselves for long-term success.

 

  1. Enhance reputation

business reputation

In recent years, investors and consumers have become increasingly interested in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors when deciding where to invest or spend their money.

As a result, companies seen as environmentally responsible are often rewarded with higher stock prices and lower capital costs.

One way to improve a company’s ESG rating is to implement policies and practices that help to protect the environment. This can include reducing energy consumption, recycling waste materials, and investing in renewable energy sources.

Not only does this help reduce the company’s carbon footprint, but it also sends a strong signal to investors that it is committed to sustainable growth. In today’s business world, going green is not just good for the planet – it’s good for the company’s reputation and bottom line.

 A good reputation is good for business.

 

  1. Comply with regulations

Not only is going green good for the environment, but it can also help businesses to comply with regulations and avoid stiff penalties. Businesses can lash their utility bill and reduce their carbon footprint by reducing energy consumption.

By recycling and using recycled materials, businesses can reduce waste disposal costs.

Moreover, many businesses now use green building practices to construct their buildings. This not only helps to reduce the environmental impact of construction but can also lead to lower operating costs and a healthier workplace for employees.

As more companies adopt green practices, it is clear that going green is good for business.

 

Conclusion

Going green makes good economic sense for businesses. It can help them save money, increase revenue, attract investment, improve employee morale, enhance their reputation, and comply with regulations.

 

How You’re Already Paying for Climate Change Without Knowing It

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How You're Already Paying for Climate Change

Climate change is already impacting the economy and, by extension, our wallets. In fact, a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that Americans have been paying an average of $400 per person per year in higher prices due to climate change.

From higher insurance premiums to increased food prices, the costs of climate change are passed down to consumers in various ways. Here are five examples of how you may be unknowingly paying for climate change:

 

  1. Higher insurance premiums

cost of climate change

As extreme weather events become more common, insurance companies are facing increased payouts for claims related to damage from storms, floods, and wildfires. To cover these costs, insurers raise premiums for home and business owners.

This means you could be paying hundreds if not thousands of dollars more for your insurance than you would have just a few years ago.

For instance, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, home insurance rates have risen in recent years due to the increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events. The bureau cites a study by Munich Re, a leading reinsurance company, which found that the number of natural catastrophes has more than tripled since 1980.

The study attributes this increase to climate change, which is causing more extreme weather conditions such as floods, droughts, and hurricanes. As a result of the increased risk, insurance companies are charging higher premiums to cover their costs.

In some cases, insurers even refuse to provide coverage for properties in areas prone to natural disasters.

As the effects of climate change become more severe, it is clear that the cost of not addressing the problem will be far greater than the cost of taking action.

 

  1. Increased food prices

Climate change makes it harder for farmers to grow crops and produce food. Extreme weather conditions can damage crops, while more prolonged droughts can lead to water shortages that make it difficult to irrigate fields.

Second, pests and diseases spread more easily as temperatures rise, further damaging crops. Also, droughts and floods can cause soil erosion, making it more difficult for crops to grow in future years.

As greenhouse gas emissions increase, the price of inputs such as fertilizer and water will also rise. All of these factors ultimately lead to higher prices for consumers. In addition to causing financial hardship, this also can cause social unrest and political instability in countries where food is already in short supply. As a result, addressing climate change is essential for ensuring global food security.

 

  1. Higher utility bills

A National Renewable Energy Laboratory study found that “Climate change is resulting in more frequent and more intense heat waves, droughts, floods, and hurricanes which are costly and often cause a rise in electricity prices.”  

The study estimated that by 2050, the number of outages caused by extreme weather would triple.

As a result of these outages, customers can expect their monthly electricity bills to increase by up to $100 per month. In addition to the increased cost of repairs, utilities must also contend with the effects of climate change on their infrastructure.

For example, rising temperatures can cause power lines to sag or melt. At the same time, extreme weather can damage substations and other equipment. As climate change causes more frequent, unpredictable, and severe weather events, the cost of providing reliable electricity service will likely continue to rise.

 

  1. Increasingly expensive home repairs

home repairs from climate change effects

Extreme weather conditions can take a toll on your home, causing damage to your roof, windows, and siding. If you live in an area prone to hurricanes, floods, or wildfires, you may have to pay for more frequent and expensive repairs.

Heavy rains and flooding can damage foundations, while high winds can tear off roofs and break windows. And as temperatures rise, we’ll see an increase in termite infestations and other pests that can cause expensive damage.

In addition, the changing climate will create new challenges for builders and contractors. For example, they must adapt to new building codes and find ways to protect homes against increasingly severe weather conditions. As a result, climate change is likely to lead to higher home repair costs in the future.

 

  1. Rising healthcare costs

A new study has found that climate change is causing healthcare costs to rise. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found that extreme weather events are becoming more common and that these events are having a significant impact on healthcare costs.

In particular, the study found that the number of hospitalizations due to heat-related illnesses has increased by an average of 3.5 percent over the past decade. This increase is expected to continue as climate change causes temperatures to rise.

The study also discovered that the number of emergency room visits due to respiratory problems has increased by an average of 4.3 percent over the past decade. This increase is attributed to the fact that climate change is causing air pollution levels to rise.

The study’s findings are based on data from hospital records and climate data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The findings suggest that climate change significantly impacts healthcare costs and that these costs will likely continue to rise in the future.

 

Conclusion

Climate change is already costing us money in various ways, and the situation will likely only get worse in the years ahead. It’s critical to remain aware of how you’re already paying for climate change so that you can make informed choices about reducing your carbon footprint.

7 Common Reasons Your Houseplants are Struggling

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struggling house plants

It is no secret that houseplants brighten up a home, purify the air, and boost your mood. But sometimes, despite our best efforts, our beloved plants struggle to grow or even die. There are a few common reasons why this may happen. Let’s take a closer look at each of the reasons why your houseplants may be struggling:

 

1. Lack of sufficient light

lighting for plants

Houseplants often suffer when they do not receive enough light. While the amount of light required varies by species, all plants need some level of light to photosynthesize.

When a plant fails to receive enough light, it starts to stretch out, searching for a light source. This results in leggy, spindly growth that is weak and vulnerable to breakage. In extreme cases, a plant may stop growing altogether.

In addition to affecting the plant’s physical appearance, insufficient light can also reduce the level of chlorophyll in the leaves, making them yellow or pale. If you want your houseplants to thrive, ensure they get enough light.

 

2. Too much or too little water

Houseplants require a delicate balance of water to stay healthy and thrive. Too little water will cause the plant to wilt and the leaves to turn yellow or brown. This is because the plant cannot uptake the necessary moisture from the soil to support its growth.

On the other hand, too much water can drown the plant, causing the roots to rot. This robs the plant of the oxygen it needs to respire and can lead to fungal growth. Overwatering can also cause yellowing leaves as a result of nutrient deficiencies.

Therefore, it is critical to monitor your houseplants’ watering needs carefully and adjust accordingly. You can help them reach their full potential and enjoy a long, healthy life by giving them just the right amount of water.

 

3. Poor soil or potting mix quality

One of the most critical factors in growing healthy houseplants is the soil or potting mix quality.

Poor quality soil makes it very difficult for plants to thrive, as it lacks essential nutrients or drainage. Compacted soil can also cause problems because it prevents roots from getting the oxygen they need to stay healthy.

If you think your soil or potting mix might be of poor quality, there are some simple tests you can do to check.

First, try squeezing a handful of soil – if it forms a clump that doesn’t break apart easily, it’s probably too compacted.

Second, test the pH level – most houseplants prefer a pH between 6 and 7. If your soil falls outside this range, it may be difficult for plants to absorb nutrients.

Finally, consider doing a nutrient test to see if your soil is lacking in any essential minerals. If your soil is poor quality, there are some things you can do to improve it. For instance, add organic matter like compost or peat moss to help improve drainage and increase nutrient levels.

You can also loosen compacted soil by adding sand or perlite.

 

4. Over- or under-fertilization

dying houseplant

Over-fertilization and under-fertilization are both common problems when it comes to caring for houseplants. Both can lead to stunted growth, yellowing leaves, and other issues.

Over-fertilization occurs when too much fertilizer is applied, causing the plant to become overloaded with nutrients. This can burn the plant’s roots and damage the plant.

On the other hand, under-fertilization occurs when insufficient fertilizer is used. The plant is malnourished, leading to weak growth and poor overall health.

The best way to sidestep these problems is to fertilize according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This ensures that your plants get the proper nutrients without overloading or starving.

 

5. Temperature extremes

Temperature extremes can be damaging to houseplants. Exposure to severe cold causes leaf tissue to die, and extreme heat can cause plants to wilt and drop leaves.

Furthermore, fluctuating temperatures can stress plants and make them more susceptible to disease. To avoid temperature extremes, choose a location for your houseplants that is away from drafts, heat sources, and open windows.

In addition, pay attention to the temperature in your home and take steps to stabilize it. For example, you can use a humidifier in dry conditions and a fan in wet conditions. By taking these precautions, you help your houseplants thrive despite fluctuations in temperature.

 

6. Pests or diseases

Pests and diseases are other common reasons for houseplant struggles. If you see any strange pests on your plant or the leaves are starting to discolor, it may be time to treat the plant with an insecticide or fungicide. Or even keep bugs away without chemicals.

Common houseplant pests include aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies, and spider mites. These tiny insects feast on plant sap, causing leaves to yellow and wilt.

Aphids can also spread disease. Mealybugs congregate in groups and secrete a waxy substance that can inhibit plant growth. Whiteflies are damaging to tomato plants and can also affect other vegetable plants.

Spider mites are another common pest that destroys crops by spinning webs that trap plant leaves and prevent sunlight from reaching them.

Common diseases that plague houseplants include root rot, powdery mildew, and leaf spot.

Root rot is typically caused by too much moisture and results in softened, discolored roots. Powdery mildew appears as a gray or white powder on the leaves of affected plants. Leaf spot is usually characterized by small, dark spots on leaves that eventually turn yellow or brown.

These diseases are often spread by pests such as aphids and whiteflies.

 

7. Failure to re-pot

repotting plants

Once a houseplant has outgrown its current pot, it needs to be replanted in a larger one. Failure to do so leads to several problems, chief among them being stunted growth or even death.

When a plant is pot-bound, its roots become cramped and suffocate. This limits the amount of water and nutrients the plant can take up, ultimately leading to stunted growth. In extreme cases, the plant may even wilt and die.

Re-potting is, therefore, essential to keeping houseplants healthy and ensuring they continue to thrive. With proper care, re-potting can be a simple process that helps keep your plants looking their best for years to come.

 

Conclusion

By troubleshooting these seven common problems, you can figure out why your houseplants are struggling and get them back on the path to health.

Easy Ways to Keep Your Dog and Other Pets Cool on Hot Days

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keep pets cool on hot days

It’s no secret that hot days can be tough on our furry friends. The hot weather can affect their health and even lead to dangerous conditions like heatstroke.

But don’t worry; you can do plenty of things to keep your pet cool and comfortable all summer long. Here are five easy, proven ways to keep your dog and other pets cool on scorching days:

 

  1. Give them plenty of water

pet drinking water

Ensure your pet has access to fresh, clean water. This is especially important on hot days. Dogs and cats are more likely to drink if they have access to fresh water that’s been changed regularly.

Fill up their water bowl before leaving for work or errands, and check it often to ensure it hasn’t been emptied. A few ways to encourage your pets to drink more water include:

Add some flavor. Dogs and cats can be tempted to drink more water if you add a little bit of low-sodium chicken or beef broth to their bowl. You can also try adding a few slices of fruit or vegetables like cucumber or melon.

Invest in a pet fountain. Pets are often attracted to moving water, so a pet fountain can be a great way to encourage them to drink more. Plus, it’s a great way to keep their water cool and refreshing.

Take them for frequent walks. Getting plenty of exercise helps your pet stay cool and makes them thirsty, so they’ll be more likely to drink when they return home.

 

  1. Take them for a swim

If your pet enjoys water, take them for a swim on hot days. This is an excellent way to help them cool off and have some fun at the same time. Ensure you supervise them at all times, as even good swimmers can get tired or into trouble in the water.

However, remember a few things before taking your pet to swim.

First, is your dog comfortable around water? Some dogs are natural swimmers and adore the water, while others fear it. If your dog is uncomfortable or afraid of water, it’s critical to take things slowly and let them get used to it at their own pace.

You’ll also need to ensure your dog wears the proper safety gear where necessary. This includes a life jacket or vest that fits properly and is rated for your dog’s size and weight.

Ensure the body of water is safe for both you and your dog. Avoid areas with strong currents or undertows and stagnant water that could be contaminated.

Also, keep a close eye on your dog while swimming and keep them within your sight at all times. Lastly, bring plenty of fresh water for your dog to drink after swimming, as swimming can dehydrate.

 

  1. Give them a cooling collar or bandana

dog cooling bandanas

There are unique cooling collars and bandanas made for pets. These collars are typically soaked in water and wrapped around the animal’s neck. Water evaporation from the band helps to cool the animal down.

The cooling bands, usually made of a cooling fabric such as Pva, help draw heat away from the animal’s body.

They can be wrapped around the dog’s neck or placed on other pulse points, such as the inside of the thighs. As the fabric cools, it helps to lower the body temperature and provide relief from the heat.

Pets can suffer from heat stroke just like humans can, so it’s essential to take steps to keep them cool on hot days. Cooling bands and bandanas can be a lifesaver, so it’s always a good idea to have them on hand during the hot summer months.

 

  1. Keep them indoors during the hottest hours

When the temperature outdoors is at its hottest, keep your pet indoors where it’s cooler. If possible, stay in an air-conditioned room or put a fan in their favorite spot.

 

  1. Get them a cooling mat

Cooling mats are designed to help pets stay cool in warm weather. They work by absorbing your pet’s body heat and releasing it into the air. Many pets enjoy lying on cooling mats, which can make a big difference on hot days.

 

Conclusion

These simple tips can help your pet stay cool and comfortable all summer and on other hot days.

Are EVs Safer Than Gas-Powered Cars?

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electric vehicle

Technological improvements and increased affordability have influenced consumer sentiments regarding electric vehicles (EVs) in the last few years. More people are interested in EVs than ever before. 

All-electric vehicles are emerging in new shapes, sizes and colors and are produced by various manufacturers. The most commonly known is Tesla — but Nissan, BMW, Chevrolet, Volkswagen, Hyundai and others have developed new EVs with different price points, performance, features and specifications.

EV adoption is increasing globally, and it’s understandable that some consumers wonder if these next-generation vehicles offer any safety benefits compared to those powered by gas. Here’s the track record.

 

EVs vs. Gas-Powered Cars: Which Are Safer?

EVs vs. Gas-Powered Cars

After their introduction, EVs earned a bad reputation due to safety concerns, such as thermal runaway, electrocution risks and reports of inextinguishable fires. However, as EVs grew popular among consumers and more manufacturers began producing them, it became easier for researchers to collect data regarding their safety.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) suggests that EVs are safer, especially with evidence from a new insurance data analysis. Research indicates that injury claims are substantially less frequent in EVs compared to gas-powered vehicles. 

The study compared EV and conventional versions of nine different vehicles sold from 2011-2019. Researchers examined each car’s rates of property damage liability, collision and injury claims. They found that the injury rates tied to EVs were more than 40% lower than those of identical, conventional vehicles.

Aside from this new data, the IIHS presented the brand-new Hyundai Ioniq 5, a small, fully electric SUV with its highest award, the TOP SAFETY PICK+. The Ioniq earned it by having good ratings in six of the IIHS crashworthiness assessments and front crash prevention with advanced or superior ratings in vehicle-to-pedestrian and vehicle-to-vehicle crash tests.

 

Why Are EVs Safer?

charging an electric vehicle

Even though EV technology is in its early stages, there are a few reasons why they are considered safer than ICE vehicles. 

First, the presence of gas in an ICE vehicle makes them inherently dangerous. Drivers fill their tanks at the pump so often that they rarely think about how risky gasoline could be. 

Fumes from gasoline are highly flammable and toxic due to the density of hydrocarbons in its structure. It’s important to note that EV battery packs are combustible, but the gas tanks and fuel systems in a standard car are more volatile than these batteries, which can cause serious problems in the event of a crash.

Another reason why EVs are safer is due to sturdier upfront construction. They do not have a front-mounted engine like conventional cars do. EVs typically transmit crash energy toward the back of the vehicle since there’s no ICE in the front of the car. Their batteries will deform and absorb energy during a crash.

The third and final reason EVs are safer is that their batteries are low in the vehicle, causing the car to have a lower center of gravity. Vehicles with a low center of gravity are typically more stable than conventional cars, improving their handling characteristics and lessening the chances of rollovers during hard turns, which helps prevent accidents

 

EVs: Making Roads Safer for Drivers, Passengers and Pedestrians

All vehicles on U.S. roads must meet rigorous safety requirements to be sold. The number of EVs on the road today would be lower if they were not as safe as gas-powered cars. As EV technology continues to evolve, more vehicles might have enhanced safety features to keep passengers, pedestrians and drivers safe while traveling.

Top 5 Green Building Materials For Your Home

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green building materials

If you’re designing your dream home and you’re trying to keep an eye on your carbon footprint, you might be concerned about the impact of all your construction plans. But don’t despair!

There are steps that you can take to limit your emissions and minimise the effect that your new home has on the environment.

One way to do this is to use Eco-conscious companies whenever you contract work out to a third party. From the architects through to the builders, choosing to give your business to those professionals who have a good green policy will limit your impact as well as sending a message to the industry as a whole.

 

Identifying Green Building Materials

bamboo - green building materials

Because of the importance of sustainability in building, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Building and Fire Research Laboratory has created a free, downloadable software called BEES (Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability).

This tool evaluates not only the initial cost of any efficient material in comparison with traditional options, but it will also take into account the savings the efficiency will generate over the lifespan of the building, which is often overlooked by those who are resistant to the green movement.

It is important to start thinking about efficiency as early in the process as possible, as even site selection can impact consumption. Choosing a location that is near public transit routes and easily accessible for work crews will reduce waste, and building in an area without strict Home Owners’ Association rules about landscaping will offer the freedom to be as efficient as possible.

When designing the layout of a building, bear in mind that materials such as drywall and plywood are sold in 4 foot wide sheets. Sizing rooms in multiples of 4 feet will reduce waste, making it possible to use whole sheets rather than cutting and discarding trimmings.

Design buildings with the sun in mind to further lessen long term energy consumption. Whether or not the building is intended to house solar panels at this stage, remember that this is only the beginning of the green movement, and future innovations will likely lead to future renovations. Keep the possibilities in mind.

Ensure that each room will get a lot of natural light throughout the day to keep lighting costs down once the building is occupied.

 

Choose the right materials

There are several criteria by which building materials are evaluated to determine their efficiency. First and foremost, the product itself must come from a renewable resource or process. For example, recycled materials from demolished buildings, bamboo or straw, which are plentiful and rapidly renewable, or linoleum, which is inexpensive to manufacture.

In order to be considered green, building materials must also have a low toxicity and chemical emissions rate and be easy to maintain without the use of harsh chemicals.

The reason for this is that efficiency ratings also take into account indoor air quality, and items that meet these requirements will either improve or not impact this. High and ultra-high performance concrete, adobe, and wood fiber plates are other examples of excellent materials.

Other factors that are considered when rating efficiency are indoor air quality, water conservation, and energy efficiency.

Finding a balance between all of these elements can be difficult, but a broader understanding of them can guide decision making. For example, the process of making glass is not an environmentally friendly one, but adding multiple panes to windows and treating and installing them properly will improve the thermal envelope of a building, thus drastically reducing energy consumption over the long term.

To get you started, here’s a list of 5 Eco-friendly materials that you could incorporate into your plans.

 

1. Composite Decking

Standard decking has moved on dramatically over the years and composite decking can now provide a green choice for your garden. Made from reclaimed and recycled materials, composite decking does not use any new timber so it leaves our forests intact.

Composite decking is low maintenance and resistant to stains and mould, so it doesn’t require chemical cleaners or lots of on-going resources to help it reach its impressive life expectancy.

 

2. Bamboo

sweeping up on bamboo floor

Bamboo is an extremely versatile material that can be used in a variety of ways both inside and outside your home. With a high strength to weight ratio, bamboo can be used for solid structures as well as furniture and cabinets.

Since bamboo is the fastest growing grass in the world, it is an easily renewable source of material and has the added bonus of being biodegradable too.

While it is growing, bamboo releases a higher concentration of oxygen into the atmosphere than hardwood forests, and helps to prevent erosion and landslides by holding soil in its roots.

 

3. Reclaimed Lumber

If you do decide to use wood in your home designs, using reclaimed lumber rather than freshly felled trees will help to minimise the impact of your plans. This timber is reworked from wood that has been salvaged from structures and products that have been demolished elsewhere.

Reclaimed lumber is just another form of recycling that is utilised by construction companies that are interested in sustainability.

 

4. Recycled Glass

Post-industrial and domestic glass scraps can be transformed into new materials for your home. Whether you have a counter top made from old beer bottles, a beautiful piece of recycled jewellery or a set of reformed wine glasses, you might be surprised by the range of options that are available to save old glass from the landfill.

 

5. Eco-Paint

Most domestic paint contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are slowly released into the atmosphere as the paint dries. These compounds are harmful to the ozone layer and create an unpleasant smell for you, but they are no longer our only option.

It is now possible to buy low-VOC paints in a range of hues that are inspired by the natural world. These paints allow you to improve the air quality of your home while you reduce your effect on the environment at the same time.

 

Other Green Building Considerations

Eco-friendly building features

Low E-Windows

One of the things that makes a home more energy efficient is its ability to hold its temperature, regardless of summer heat or winter cold. One way to do this is to choose Low Emissivity (Low-E) windows.

These windows require more of an upfront investment. They normally cost 10-15% more than standard glass storm windows, however with energy costs lowered up to 20% it won’t take long before you’ve earned back your money and helped the environment at the same time.

 

Radiant Floor Heat

Another consideration is how you are going to provide heat to your home, especially if you live in an area with cold winters. This form of heat rises from out of the floor and can be fueled by heated air, electricity, or hot water.

In residential homes, hot water or hydronic systems are used most often because they are the most cost effective. Tubing is laid under the floor, and hot water runs through from the boiler.

Gardening Tips for Beginners

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gardening for beginners

Growing a garden can be a most rewarding pastime. Whether you are a homeowner, a tenant or a lover of beautifying public spaces, watching green things bloom never gets old.

It is one mystery most of us are happy to observe our whole lives through.

Plants can be very sensitive, and much like people, require different environments and situations to survive and thrive.

Gardening is also one of the most therapeutic activities ever. In fact, the psychological benefits of horticulture include a sense of connection, self-esteem, less anxiety, and a healthy emotional release.

If you’ve never gardened before, there is no time like the present. There are a few basic gardening tips and tricks that can help you become a better grower.

Here are six easy ways to get your hands dirty:

From-Black-Thumbs-to-Green-Ones

1. From Black Thumbs to Green Ones

Do you love the idea of being able to take care of your own garden, but it seems every time you start one everything dies?

The curse of the dreaded black thumb is all part of the process. Nobody starts off as an expert gardener.

It takes practice, patience and experimentation to learn about your own personal ecosystem. Put those gardening gloves on and get planting, but take note of all the lessons along the way.

On this interesting journey, you will learn about your garden, the plants, the seasons, the soil, the insects, the water systems, and the light-dark relationship to growth.

 Location-Location-Location

2. Location, Location, Location

Like starting your own business, creating a thriving garden has much to do with where you put it. Look for somewhere that regularly will meet your gaze when you move in and around your house. 

A good garden needs plenty of attention, so if it is out of sight, it may be easily forgotten.

Be sure to find a location that gets a good balance of sunlight and shade, too. 

You will learn as you go along that some plants need more than others, but a little of both is usually healthier.

 

 good-soil

3. Good Soil, Better Soil

A garden is highly dependent on the nutrients the plants can access from the ground. If you do not have good soil where you live, it is a good idea to invest in some by buying (or composting) decent topsoil and making use of nitrogen-rich compost to layer the garden beds.

Healthy soil is full of good nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, sulfur, magnesium, and calcium, to name a few.

If you do not have the chemistry skills, the gardening section at your local store or the experts at your local nursery will be happy to advise you on the right choice.

Note that not every garden has the same elements and you should take note of which plants grow well in your type of soil (some types are sand, clay or silt, for example).

Be-Water-Wise

4. Be Water Wise

Overwatering is probably the top rookie mistake for new gardeners, whether they are gardening in the city or in the country.

We tend to think plants need water and sun in abundance, but many are actually better-suited to only a little of both.

Plants are made to thrive in seasons and out, so they adapt to spurts of rain, occasional sun, and fluctuating temperatures.

It is not always a case of the more sun and water, the better. Plants can overindulge just like people can.

It is possible for humans to consume too many kale shakes, no matter how healthy it may seem.

  • Observe how your plants are looking and you will start to learn how to balance hydration and light a little better through the seasons.
  • Pay attention to drainage, morning or afternoon sunshine angles, and wind factors for each spot in the garden.

 

Know-Your-Zone

5. Know Your Zone

When to plant is equally as important as where you plant. If you aren’t growing indoors in a controlled environment, your plants will be at the mercy of the elements.

Educate yourself about the zone in which you live to optimise your chances of success in the garden.

Each area of the world is assigned a different “zone” in which different climate features to determine what plants can be grown, and when they should be planted.

Learning which zone applies to your area is a good start to having a successful growth cycle. In time, the cycle will become second nature to you and you will know your planting seasons inside and out.

 

Ignore-Conventions

6. Ignore Conventions

Lastly, don’t worry about conventional methods when creative methods work just as well. Try stuff. Some will work and some won’t, no matter how ‘correctly’ you garden or how much advice you follow from the experts.

If you want to take out seedlings with a spoon instead of a spade, then do it.

If you want to use yoghurt containers as seedling starters (to grow from seed to seedlings until the plants are big enough to replant), then do it – what a great way to recycle plastic!

It will soon become apparent what works and what doesn’t so do it anyway.

As long as it grows, anything goes!


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

10 Autumn Gardening Tips

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autumn gardening tips 1

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

~ George Eliot

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Autumn Gardening Tips

Dig in

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

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

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

It will be worth it come planting time!

 

Mulch, Squelch

crop mulching

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Prune, snap, and chuck

prune-snap-and-chuck-600x398

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

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

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

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

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

 

Got it covered?

frost

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

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

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

 

Tender and Sweet

Tender-Sweet-seedlings-600x400

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

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

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

 

Bulb Heroes

red tulips

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

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

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

 

Save the Wild Things

birds

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

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

 

Fertilize

fertilize-soil-600x450

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

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

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

 

Water

watering-garden-plants-631x420

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

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

 

Hearty Vegetables

vegetables-hearty-health-garden-615x420

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

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

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


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

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