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5 Fiber-Rich Foods To Eat This Summer

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As the darkened clouds give way to the sunny skies, and the cold breeze gets overpowered by the warmth of the summer sun, almost everything experiences a refreshing turnaround.

The clothes get shorter, the faces get happier, the days get longer, and people’s food choices become a lot cooler.

Your signature steaming latte gets replaced with a watermelon slushie at the café next door. You no longer crave a hot bowl of mixed veggie soup for dinner; you’d rather stick to a chilled Mojito and a light sandwich.

What you must ensure, however, is that your digestive system doesn’t suffer a blow at the cost of your wandering palate during the hot summer months.

Not only do fiber-rich foods keep your gut in good shape by aiding healthy bowel movements, but they also help you lose weight by keeping the hunger pangs at bay for long periods.

Here are five cooling fiber-rich foods you should include in your summer diet:

 

1. Leafy Green Veggies

leafy greens

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that leafy greens are the healthiest veggies of the lot, owing to their high nutritional content. Apart from being rich in dietary fiber and low in calories, leafy greens are also very cooling, thanks to their high water content (80 – 95%).

They are great sources of nutrients like vitamin C, calcium, iron, vitamin K, folic acid, potassium, and magnesium. They even contain generous doses of antioxidants like lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin and beta-carotene. Vitamin C helps in the formation of collagen, the skin’s structural protein responsible for its elasticity and tone. Calcium and vitamin K help improve bone health.

Leafy greens, being rich in magnesium and having a low glycemic index, also help lower the risk of type-2 diabetes. Iron is essential for the formation of hemoglobin and thereby, promoting a healthy flow of blood.

The antioxidants contained in green veggies fight the formation of free radicals, providing protection from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, premature aging, and diabetes. Lutein and zeaxanthin also lower the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Some of the best and healthiest leafy greens include: kale, micro-greens, collard greens, spinach, cabbage, beet greens, watercress, romaine lettuce, swish chard, arugula, endive, bok choy, and turnip greens.

Leafy green vegetables are dense in nutrients that boost your immunity and are good for your health.

2. Berries

berries

Berries do a brilliant job challenging the popular notion that all delicious foods are unhealthy. Apart from pleasing your palate, these chock full of antioxidants are known to fight against many health hazards like stroke, age-related degenerative diseases, and cancer.

Berries, especially strawberries, are alkaline in nature and as per the Ancient Chinese Medicine, these foods, known as the Yin foods help generate a cooling energy within the body. They provide a healthy dose of dietary fiber that apart from lowering the risk of constipation and hemorrhoids also reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Use the berries to add flavor to your smoothies, or along with your breakfast cereal.

 

3. Bell Peppers

bell peppers

You’d think that spicy peppers induce a lot of heat in your body, not something you’d want during summers. The reality, however, is that these veggies make you sweat and thereby help cool your body down.

As per the Harvard University Health Services, a cup of bell peppers contains 1.7 grams of dietary fiber that meets approximately 9% of our daily fiber recommendation. They are low in calories and rich in immunity-boosting antioxidants, vitamins A, E, and C. Vitamin A lowers the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Vitamin E, a natural emollient keeps the skin and hair healthy and moisturized.

Capsaicin, a pungent ingredient contained in peppers inhibits the growth of prostate cancer cells, a study by Cancer Research suggests. Enjoy a wholesome chickpea and bell pepper salad to get your daily fiber dose!

 

4. Melons

watermelon

Sitting by the pool, basking in the sun and biting into a slice of freshly cut melon – isn’t it the perfect life? Turns out, these delicious fruits are pretty good for your overall health too! Though melons can’t be called the greatest sources of fiber, they contain reasonable amounts along with many other health-boosting benefits. These include:

  • Boosting your immune system
  • Promoting bone health
  • Supporting a healthy skin

Melons, owing to their high water content help prevent dehydration and keep you refreshed and rejuvenated as the temperatures soar. They contain potassium that lowers blood pressure by reducing the impact of foods high in sodium.

Watermelons are rich in lycopene, a carotenoid pigment that prevents cellular damage and lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Melons are good sources of vitamins A and C as well.

 

5. Coconut Water

coconut - fiber rich foods

A healthy and delicious alternative to calorie-packed and sugar-laden colas and processed juices during summer is coconut water. Coconut water contains 2.6 grams of dietary fiber that meets 9% of your daily fiber requirements.

It helps maintain healthy electrolyte balance within the body as it contains essential minerals like potassium and sodium. It thus reduces the symptoms of common health problems experienced during summer months, like dehydration and nausea. Coconut water also contains vitamin C, folate, vitamin B-6, riboflavin, thiamin, and niacin.

Beat the summer heat and embrace healthy living with these fiber rich foods that are sure to tingle your taste buds.

This article has been updated for freshness and consistency.

How to Have an Eco-Friendly BBQ

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Veggie Burger and sweet potato fries

A backyard barbeque is one of the best parts of summer; hanging out with your friends and family in the sunshine, a cool refreshing drink in one hand and a burger hot off the grill in the other.

But eco-friendly families are concerned about the release of carbon dioxide during the beautiful weather and Fourth of July season.

Research scientists from the US Department of Energy, provide data that the Fourth of July season releases approximately 225,000 metric tons of this toxin into our air.

So, a question arises: how can I barbecue in eco-friendly way?

There are several ways to go green while barbecuing. Keep reading to learn how:

 

Green Lump Coal

Eco Lump CharcoalCharcoal barbecues are the least eco-friendly of all barbecues. Therefore, if you have an old school grill, consider upgrading to a gas or electric powered BBQ as these are considerably greener.

However, you might be attached to your charcoal burner and you can’t bring yourself to give it up… We’re okay with that!

But instead of burning standard briquettes, which give off carbon monoxide and soot, opt for a more natural option.

A delicious barbecue flavor can still be produced without charcoal and lighter fluids, which contaminate the atmosphere.

An atmosphere-healthy option is the use of lump coal rather than traditional briquettes. A delicious flavor is obtained through the use of lump coal that is quite similar to charcoal.

There are no additives or chemicals and barbecue lovers often opt for this alternative for grilling.

This eco-friendly, green charcoal saves our forests, while releasing less gas and soot emissions.

There are green brands that are not certified, so be aware and choose certified, organic products.

 

Dome Grills

Dome grillStatistics show that 48% of grill owners use charcoal, 61% of American households use propane to light up their grills and 7% of households use electric.

Grill power is an important part of tasty and delicious food. Dome grills are designed to capture and retain the BBQs heat produced by the fuel. This ensures that less fuel is burned.

Propane grills produce at least 5.6 pounds of carbon dioxide per hour. Lighter fluid uses toxic chemicals called petrochemicals. They are harmful to the environment. Electric cooking releases 15 pounds of carbon dioxide per hour.

These statistics are important to consider when purchasing a grill.

 

Eco-friendly Grill Kits

Invest in barbecue products that can be used repeatedly rather than disposed of and repurchased.

There are number of eco-friendly Grill kits available. All of your grilling tools are included in this apron kit, including a multipurpose flipper, basting brush, knife and hot mitt. There is a unique carry case for the entire kit, which provides consistent use and lessens the need to purchase more products due to loss.

The Picnic Time X-grill is a green friendly portable grill. It has a slim design and is easily assembled. It even includes a polyester carrying bag.

Purchasing quality products for barbecuing will protect our environment by limiting waste and landfill.

 

 

Tips to make your barbecuing events greener

Be energy conscious.

If the grill isn’t being used for cooking turn it off.

Many people leave barbecues on for several minutes between cooking different batches of food; if you have a barbecue that instantly heats up, you can afford to turn it off.

This saves you money as well, always a bonus.

 

Avoid waste

Consider using reusable dishes and silverware, rather than disposable.

Say no to paper plates and plastic cutlery. If you’re having a small gathering, use your own plates (reusable ones) and your own cutlery.

It’s not a big deal having to wash up a few bits after the event. If the event is so big that using your own plates is not an option, make sure you opt for biodegradable utensils and plates for the guests.

Another important consideration is avoiding prepackaged waste and buying fruit and vegetables from a produce stand, rather than in a package.

 

Recycle

Recycling is ‘cool’, honest. Make sure you label your bins appropriately and encourage guests to use them; they should happily oblige considering you’re hosting the BBQ!

Label the bottle bin and whatever other recyclables you have at the party.

recycling bins

 

Final thoughts

Even if you don’t fork out a big wad of cash for a solar powered barbecue, you can rest assured that the effort you put in to making your BBQ greener is contributing to a good cause.

Remember, every little bit helps!

How to Eliminate Bathroom Mildew and Soap Scum without Toxic Cleaners

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sparkling clean bathroom tub with white towel

When it comes to cleaning the bathroom, many people feel they have to use products that contain chemicals in order to truly get rid of the dirt and grime. However, it is possible to clean in an eco-friendly manner, if you stay on top of the process.

By spending just five minutes a day maintaining your bathrooms, you can remain committed to your green ideals while still making sure that your bathrooms stay in tip top shape.

 

Close your shower curtain

Always pull your shower curtain closed after you get out of the bath or the shower. If you leave it pushed off to one side, water can get trapped, causing mildew and bacteria to form.

Also, run your bathroom exhaust several times a day, including after you take a shower, to help reduce the amount of moisture in your bathroom.

Finally, pick up a cloth shower curtain and a liner that allows air to pass through. Using a plastic liner could cause phthalates to be released into the air, which can have an effect on hormones.

 

Dry your tub after use

water droplets

Keep an old towel in your bathroom. When you are finished with your bath or shower, simply dry off any wet areas that you see with the towel. This will help prevent mineral deposits and soap scum from forming.

Once you are done cleaning, shake out the towel and put it over the side of the tub so it is able to dry properly.

 

Avoid store-bought cleaners

If you find a spot of mildew in your tub or on your toilet, you still don’t have to resort to chemical cleaners. Try making your own solution, one that is not toxic.

You can combine liquid hand soap and baking soda, and use it to clean your bathroom. The combination of the two items will create a paste, and when used in conjunction with a sponge, it should take care of any problem areas that you find.

 

Solve problems organically

If you find that roaches, ants or other pests are invading your bathroom, find a pest control company or store-bought products that specialize in natural treatment methods.

In addition, if you do purchase bathroom products from the store, look for organic companies that advertise non-toxic or “green” ingredients. There are more of these businesses now than ever before; you can find tissues, cleaners and even shampoos and conditioners that do not have the nasty chemicals in them that you are trying to avoid.

 

It is possible to have a clean, chemical-free bathroom. Spend a few minutes in each bathroom, every day, and implement the tips mentioned above. You will find that that you can avoid mildew and soap scum and still maintain a cleaner, greener household.

Go Natural With These Recipes For DIY Shampoo, Conditioner And Dry Shampoo

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blonde hair blowing in wind

Shampoos, conditioners and dry shampoos all contain some awful chemicals that, if you really knew what they could do, you wouldn’t put anywhere near your skin. Propane, geraniol, parabens and petrolatum are just some of the ingredients that can be found in your favourite hair care products.

But what I found daunting was the cost of buying organic.

It’s hard to grab that bottle of organic shampoo that you know is the right choice, but is twice the price of your run-of-the-mill shampoos.

But don’t fear, there are ways to keep the budget low while also keeping your hair (and the rest of you) happy and healthy. Plus, the environment will be grateful that you’re not throwing away so many bottles too!

 

Homemade Natural Shampoo Recipe

The basic recipe for natural DIY shampoo is very simple.

However, a lot of people find this lacking. For one, there’s no foaming aspect to it. Secondly, it can leave different hair types in different states of array, some very greasy, dry or tangled.

It’s recommended that you start off with the basic recipes and add different ingredients as necessary.

 

Optional Extras

  • ¼ Coconut milk (some people find that only homemade coconut milk works for them, while others claim that off-the-shelf coconut milk works fine for them).
  • ⅓ cup of Liquid Castille Soap
  • ½ tsp of Vitamin E oil
  • Essential Oils, of which there are plenty to choose from. Try lavender, rosemary, orange or peppermint and don’t be afraid to mix them up a bit. I’ve heard people adding over thirty drops, but I only add about 20. You can play around with this until you like the scent.
  • For dry hair types try adding ½ tsp of olive or almond oil. This can also be done following the shampooing and conditioning process.

 

How to Make Natural Shampoo

There are two ways to arrange your natural shampoo: You can either mix it up every time just before you wash your hair, or you can prepare it a batch at a time.

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To Prepare Just Before You Wash

  1. Measure 2 tbsp of baking soda
  2. Put the baking soda into the jug (you can add extras at this point)
  3. While in the shower, fill the jug with water.
  4. Stir it until the baking soda is mixed.
  5. Pour over head and scrub thoroughly into scalp and all the way to the tips of your hair.

 

To Prepare As A Batch

  1. Combine all ingredients. (Use an old shampoo bottle, jar, pump dispenser)
  2. Shake well to mix it and shake it before each use.
  3. Use about a teaspoon every time you shampoo.

Top tip: If you use a pump dispenser for the extra foamy effect, just add ¼ cup of distilled water.

 

Homemade Natural Hair Conditioner Recipe

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Yup.

That’s it.

How To Use DIY Hair Conditioner

  1. Juts apply it to your hair and enjoy the soft goodness that it will bring to you!
  2. And like I’ve said before, feel free to use coconut oil or almond oil if your hair can dry out quite easily.

 

Homemade Natural Dry Shampoo Recipe

When I made the switch to the “no poo” method of washing my hair (no shampoo, that is) I always kept a bottle of dry shampoo handy.

I was really worried that my hair would look greasy for work or special occasions.

But I realized that it didn’t make much sense to go all-natural and DIY for everything, and still use dry shampoo.

Luckily, it’s not that hard to make your own.

 

Dry Shampoo Recipe

 

Optional Extras

 

How To Use DIY Dry Shampoo

  1. Combine the ingredients in a jar of some sort (anything with a lid)
  2. Sprinkle it onto your scalp and the roots of your hair. Top tip: You can also use a make-up brush, or an empty salt/pepper shaker to be more specific.
  3. Use a comb to expose different parts of your scalp and roots.
  4. Work it in with your fingertips.
  5. You can leave it in longer (if you have time)
  6. Comb your hair through until the mixture is completely invisible.

 

If you have any other tips, advice or ingredients for DIY natural hair care products, please let us know in the comments section!

How to Properly Dispose of Used Paint Cans

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painter and paint cans

Every home has its fair share of paint cans calling for attention in garages or attics. But improper disposal of paints and paint cans can prove to be fatal for children and pets.

Here’s how to dispose of used paint cans in the safest, and most environmentally-friendly way.

 

Calculate Your Needs

The first step to eco-friendly disposal of paint cans is to calculate your needs at the get-go. Instead of having a truck load of paint cans brought home, you can take the time to calculate exactly how much paint you need of each color for the rooms in the house.

This allows you to control wastage of paint and reduces the number of paint cans to be taken care of.

To store left-over paint, cover the can’s mouth with a plastic wrap to secure the lid and turn the can upside-down. Store the cans in a place where the paint does not experience too much heat or cold, and keep them out of reach of children and pets.

If most cans are only half-empty or with little paint, you can accumulate the paint in one can so to ease the process of storage. The other cans can then be worked on to be prepared for disposal.

 

Disposing of Leftover Paint

If there is very little or no paint left in a can, add substances like cat litter to allow the paint to solidify. The solid mass can then be easily transferred to a heavy duty trash bags.

You can also choose to use paint solidifiers sold over the counter, and dispose of the paint in a similar manner.

Reusing is an option, too, if you are using latex paints. Latex paints are often blended together to be used, even though the resulting hues may not be your first choice. Such blended paints can be reused for base coats and functional paint jobs.

Also, check if your community has any initiatives that involve the collection of paint to be used in community projects. This is a great way of reducing wastage of paint and the empty cans can then be recycled.

 

Watch Out for Oil Paints

Oil paints are classified as hazardous substances and must be disposed of accordingly. Your local household hazardous waste facility should be contacted for further information.

Such waste disposal services differ from region to region – while some areas have waste management systems all year round, others must avail themselves of annual or semi-annual drop-off periods.

Latex paints, on the other hand, are not considered hazardous and their disposal is more relaxed.

 

Recycling Used Paint Cans

The most important part of disposing leftover paints is to have the paint cans recycled.

Recycling steel and tin products helps reduce carbon footprint of the industries significantly. It has been observed that about 74% of the manufacturing energy was saved when steel and tin cans are recycled.

There is also a whopping 70% reduction in mining and manufacturing waste creation, keeping air and water pollution at marginal rates. Given that Americans alone use 100 million steel cans every day, it is a rewarding practice to have paint cans and the like recycled.

Aluminum cans are a part of every household, coming as they do in the form of containers of drinks, canned food and even paints. So wide-spread is the use of aluminum in the country that recycling aluminum is the backbone of the recycling efforts undertaken by municipalities of various cities across the country.

 

Paint Can Take-Back Programs

There is another practice that is emerging to help promote recycling of paint cans.

So far, three states in the USA have passed rules that require the manufacturers of paints to set up counters where consumers can drop off use paint cans for them to be recycled and reused. Oregon, California and Connecticut have passed such laws that require the setting up of take-back drives.

Other states are also being encouraged to follow suit, as it does not cost the providing companies much to enforce such a program.

In these states, the price of paint cans have been marginally increased so that the consumers collectively fund take-back programs, contributing to the recycling effort and taking another step towards a greener life.

 

Do you have additional tips for recycling old paint cans? Let us know in the comments below.

5 Practical Tips for Reducing Business Energy Costs

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businessman sitting on park bench

It is possible for each business to make changes in order to reduce energy costs. Changes may be large-scale investments, or, for some more frugal businesses, the green standard may come by way of subtle changes. 

Regardless, green standards in the work environment are necessary to reduce pollution and make the planet a healthier place to live for future generations.

 

1. Attain useful advice from an energy auditor.

Many businesses find seeking out the recommendations of experts the best way to effect cost-savings as it pertains to their energy usage. The frugal business owner is advised to contact his or her local utility company to determine if the utility will provide either a free evaluation or an evaluation at a reasonable cost. 

The evaluation supplied by the utility provides you with energy and cost saving measures particular to your business operation. Once at the business location, the auditor evaluates: energy needs of the business; energy usage of the commercial enterprise, and ways which energy and money can be saved.

Managers who are very environmentally conscious may wish to take matters one step further. There are many online energy saving calculators available for use, such as the one found at energyguide.com.

To make use of an energy calculator, all that is needed is for you to plug in the necessary information relative to the business enterprise. 

Once the information is plugged in, you’re provided with relative recommendations how your business can specifically save energy, inclusive of a projection of any upfront costs with respect to implementing the energy savings.

Also, a value is provided as to how much your business can save, over time, in the implementation of certain energy-saving changes. A figure is provided how much the business can save energy-wise over time too.

 

2. Implement ways to cut down on energy usage within a commercial enterprise on a day-to-day basis.

There are an abundance of simple ideas that managers can use in order to assure energy usage and costs are kept to a minimum.  This is another area the green style manager may wish to make changes.

  1. Change your light bulbs to the energy efficient models. Specifically-speaking, the energy saving bulbs are referred to as CFLs which stands for Compact Fluorescent Lamps or Light Emitting Diodes, referred to as LEDs.
  2. Make it a point to install Motion Detectors which shut off lights automatically in portions of the building where business activity is not conducted on a regular basis.
  3. When lights are not being used, turn them off.
  4. Make it a point to use the natural light from the sun by installing skylights.
  5. Install power strips, which make it possible to unplug a number of computers and printers simultaneously and at day’s end.
  6. Install a programmable thermostat.
  7. As much as possible, replace old-style appliances with energy efficient appliances.
  8. Install faucets providing a low flow, toilets which also provide a low flow and other type items within employee restrooms.
  9. A water heater providing energy efficiency is another recommended installation.
  10. Make certain to combine delivery trips, if you use a vehicle for such use. Use a GPS system known as a Global Positioning System in order to travel a route which is the shortest distance from point A to point B and in order to practice avoidance of heavy traffic. The preceding measure will assure you do not spend as much on fuel.

 

3. Make use of new technology in order to reduce energy related costs

Commercial Enterprises are wise to make use of new forms of technology in the reduction of Energy Costs. For example, a use web cams and video conferencing software to hold virtual meetings. 

The virtual meeting allows persons involved in the meeting to save time and money. The associated cost of gasoline is decreased, and by staying in and conducting a virtual meeting, no harm with regard to pollution results from driving to and from meetings; flying to the client’s location or visiting internal employees at other office locations.

The business manager also can take advantage of the newest technology in order to establish work arrangements, which prove flexible and beneficial to their employees as well as cost-effective. 

For example, two or three members of staff may work from home on certain days. By allowing certain employees to work from home, money is saved in way of overhead costs and the equipment supplied in order to have employees work in-house.

 

4. Educate members of staff about green initiatives

Education is a very important component of green style initiatives as it relates to Energy Saving policy-making. 

Make it known to your employees that you would like to enforce certain energy saving policies and guidelines within the work environment. Invite members of staff to provide ideas on how to cut energy costs even further. 

The issue of energy reduction and cost-savings must be approached with a positive and sincere attitude. The majority of work teams are more than pleased to offer possible green solutions and ideas to their department managers and supervisors.

 

5. Add new space or construct new buildings making use of energy saving materials, devices, and systems

Any business that intends on increasing its operation by way of new construction is wise to plan the new building or space, assuring energy conservation measures are put into place.  In fact, energy conservation measures with respect to any type of new construction must become a top priority. 

Placing energy conservation elements within the new construction will save you a great deal of money in the long run. The following materials and items are suggested when constructing any green style building:

  • Use drywall, which is thick, in order to prevent any cooling loss or heat from escaping the structure.
  • Install skylights in order to take advantage of the natural light of the sun.
  • Make use of a low energy light system and install solar panels.

In conclusion, there are literally hundreds of ways to reduce energy usage and in effect cause a reduction to the energy bill. Some green-style initiatives cost nearly zero while other measures are quite a bit more costly. 

You may wish, when building, to consult a builder who has a great deal of experience in building green. 

Whatever you decide initially, there is nothing to prevent you from continuing to add to energy reduction measures within the working environment.

How to Teach Kids About Renewable Energy

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Teach Kids About Renewable Energy

Recently, renewable energy has skyrocketed to the center of conversations about the environment. Since sustainability and renewables are key for the future, teaching kids now is the right path to take. Bringing them in on these conversations shows them how important renewables are and how they can get involved, no matter their age. 

Here’s what you should cover when you teach kids about renewable energy:

 

Explain What Renewable Energy Is

teach kids about renewable energy

The first step in teaching your kids about renewable energy is to simply cover the definition. To do so, you might want to take a step back and cover sustainability, too. 

Sustainability means that something has the ability to exist for an indefinite amount of time at a constant rate. Something like gardening is sustainable because it keeps a cycle of consistent environmentally focused efforts going. To be fully sustainable, though, gardeners must go about their landscapes in Eco-friendly ways — with organic products, smart designs and fewer chemicals.

You can then translate this example to energy sustainability. Energy is necessary for creating power and electricity. It’s what countless communities run on throughout the world. Non-renewable energy, though, does not mimic the gardening example.

There are no precautions for the environment or focus on sustainability. These energy sources — which are fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas — will eventually run out.

Instead, renewable energy is sustainable because it will prosper forever. It’s a key factor in fighting climate change, which is now more necessary than ever. The most common renewables include solar, wind, hydro and tidal, geothermal and biomass. 

With this background information, you can then dive into explaining each kind of renewable energy.

 

Focus on the Types of Renewables

One of the best ways to engage and teach kids about renewable energy is to dive into each one. If you’re unfamiliar with any of them, no need to worry — it can be a learning experience for everyone. These are the main types of renewables:

 

Solar

Solar energy is one of the most popular renewables out there. It tends to be the face of the movement, alongside wind.

With solar, kids will love to learn about how the sun’s energy becomes electricity. Photovoltaic (PV) panels absorb the light and heat and convert it all into power. Even on cloudy days, solar panels can use stored energy to keep operating.

 

Wind

Wind energy is another common renewable. Wind farms are where wind spins the giant blades on the turbines as it passes through. They have similar mechanics as pinwheels that you can buy at local stores.

With wind power, onshore and offshore turbines are ramping up across the United States.

 

Hydro

There’s a recurring theme of using the elements as power. Here, it continues with hydro. These powerplants situate themselves next to rivers or dams and use the water currents to create electricity. Workers must be careful, though, to not disturb the natural waterways and ecosystems that exist there. 

Tidal, too, is a similar concept. It uses ocean currents to create energy but is still not as popular as hydropower. 

 

Geothermal

Geothermal power uses heat from a few miles deep in the Earth. Through piping, the heat comes up as steam which the powerplant can then convert into electricity.

With this source of energy, workers must be careful of releasing greenhouse gasses from the Earth. These gasses are a primary contributor to climate change and what renewables seek to diminish. 

 

Biomass

Biomass power comes from plant and animal byproduct. When workers burn this byproduct, it releases heat which then can become electricity. Biomass is particularly big in the agriculture industry due to its sources — crops, manure and waste. 

 

Use Resources for Engagement

teach kids about sustainability

While going over the basics of renewable energy with your kids, you can also use resources to engage them. Kids tend to love activities and hands-on experiences. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to provide them with just that. 

First, the internet is full of information and activities. For instance, NASA’s Climate Kids section covers everything they need to know about the environment — energy included. It does a great job of breaking down the bigger, more serious questions in a digestible way. 

Similarly, earth science tutors help students of any age with concepts about renewable energy and sustainability. Once you engage and teach kids about renewable energy, they can then pursue further information. 

The Department of Energy (DOE) also has informative worksheets that will compliment any lesson nicely. You can print out, for example, the renewable energy lessons for grades five through eight that have various activities. The site lists out materials you’ll need for the activities — and then you can get to the fun, hands-on experiences. 

The DOE also has separate projects you can follow, like creating your very own solar oven using a pizza box. This activity is for kids of all ages and will be fun for the whole family. Thinking outside the box with ideas like this one is a sure way to engage your kids. Then, you can watch their interest in renewable energy flourish. 

 

Lead by Example

One of the best practices you can take when you teach kids about renewable energy is to lead by example.

Sustainability requires a collective effort. Once you take on initiatives like limiting your energy consumption or switching to solar, you encourage the next generation to continue that journey.

3 Ways Solar Power Is Saving the World’s Oceans

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We humans have had deleterious effects on the world’s oceans. From industrial runoff to plastic waste, human activity is a major contributor to the collapse in the marine environment. These pollutants not only endanger life in the oceans but have direct impacts on human health as well.

Emerging green technologies and changing perspectives on waste and pollution are mitigating that impact, and one of the leading technologies is solar power. Here are three major ways solar power is helping the world’s oceans to recover.

 

Solar Power Reduces Air Pollution

solar power for clean air

Believe it or not, the pollution that goes into the atmosphere has a direct impact on the world’s oceans. This happens in a number of ways which have been very well documented.

As air pollution like carbon emissions, acid vapors, and other chemical pollutants disperse into the atmosphere, they have several impacts on the oceans. Increased carbon emissions have led to a rise in global temperatures, which is in and of itself a cause for concern. However, as carbon dioxide interacts with water, it produces carbonic acid.

The warmer the water, the stronger the reaction, which means the more acidification takes place. This has had a profound impact on marine wildlife and plant-life the world over. This is compounded by acid precipitation, which includes other harmful chemicals. The old adage holds true; what goes up must come down.

 

Ocean acidification

The acidification of the ocean has been directly linked to coral bleaching and the fish population collapse in many different biomes around the world. By reducing the amount of air pollution we pump up into the atmosphere, we reduce the burden on natural cycles which maintain the balance which supports life as we know it.

The natural carbon cycle absorbs about 40 billion tonnes of carbon per year, half of which is absorbed by the oceans.

By reducing our dependence on carbon-producing energy sources, we are allowing the planet’s natural processes to do what they do best. Solar energy produces no carbon dioxide, and has been used to replace natural gas in water heaters, coal in electricity generation, and is well on it’s way to integrating into other aspects of human activity. 

 

Solar Power Reduces Ground Pollution

Energy from the sun reduces the need for resource extraction for coal, and other carbon deposits.

By replacing gas water boilers, coal-fired electrical plants, and centralizing power generation in municipalities and private homes, solar power has reduced the demand we put on our planet to provide fuel sources for our consumption. This has a two-fold effect.

As stated above, burning fewer fossil fuels means we are not producing as much air pollution. Further to this, by reducing the demand for mining fuel materials, solar power actually reduces the heavy metals and other toxins we produce as byproducts of those industries. The Athabasca Tar Sands for example, where Canadian bitumen is strip-mined, has produced vast lakes of toxic runoff.

These tailings are left to sit in open air, contaminating the land, and the water table around them. These toxins seep through the water table and flow into the Athabasca river basin, and into the Arctic Ocean beyond. If this level of environmental degradation is allowed in a country like Canada, imagine the impacts similar operations have in countries with weaker environmental protections. By reducing our reliance on fossil fuel production, we reduce the impacts of major extraction projects like this one.

 

Reducing global toxic waste

This isn’t the only way solar power reduces ground pollution.

By reducing our dependence on petrochemicals, and by presenting hazard-free alternatives to nuclear power and other “clean” energies which produce toxic waste, solar actually helps reduce the amount of toxic waste and fuel being stored, transported, and left to run into the water table.

The United Nations Environmental Program estimates roughly 400 million tonnes of toxic waste is produced annually across industries. That’s 400 million tonnes of waste which must be safely disposed of and is often not. Leaks of radioactive fuel, coal ash, oil sludge, and other toxic byproducts are often found in groundwater near their storage sites. Moreover, when these byproducts are transported, there is a big risk of an accident which puts those toxins in the water. 

There are still heavy metals and dangerous chemicals used in the process of developing solar cell technology. However, unlike other energy sources, these heavy metals are held safely in the solar cells as part of their regular functioning. In that way, solar power offers us a way forward to using some of the heavy metal byproducts as a part of the solution to pollution. 

 

Solar Power Reduces Water Pollution

water pollution

When we think of water pollution, the first example that comes to mind for many is the Exxon Valdez spill of the early 1990s. While similar catastrophes have happened since the Exxon Valdez burned itself into our collective memories, in part because of the major attention it was given by the media.

While oil freighters running aground in the oceans are an easy way to understand water pollution, the realities are much broader reaching. From nuclear power to wastewater, humans have been treating our oceans like a garbage dump for many generations. 

While solar power isn’t a magic bullet for stopping pollution in its tracks, it has reduced our reliance on some of the most destructive types of energy production.

 

Nuclear power water pollution

For example, nuclear power is a significant contributor to water pollution. Aside from leakage of radioactive waste which was brought to the public’s attention in the wake of the Fukushima meltdown, nuclear power generation actually uses water as a coolant in its regular processes. This heated water is dumped back into river basins, lakes, and the ocean after use, but because it has been heated in the process of cooling the reactors, it can cause serious problems for the ecosystem around it. 

Even other renewable energy sources produce water pollution. Hydroelectric dams cause methylmercury contamination, as well as disrupt the natural flow of water systems. Lubricants from the generators are often found downriver, and this chemical runoff impacts aquatic life. Solar power doesn’t interact with the water. Even the older iterations of solar, which used steam to turn turbines, produced only pure water vapor as exhaust.

 

What You Can Do

By turning our efforts to expanding solar power generation, we reduce the impacts our pollution has on the planet and allows the natural cycles to get back to putting things in balance.

Changing our homes to solar power, and pushing our local governments to do the same across the grid, will create the demand that accelerates the transition. Switching to solar isn’t the only step we can take, but it’s one of the biggest steps we can take to mitigating our own impacts on the climate. Most regions have solar power providers, and with newer and better technologies becoming available, now is the right time to make the switch.

The ocean can bounce back if we let it. 

How To Set Up an Indoor Herb Garden in Your Kitchen

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best herbs for your kitchen

Whether it’s that you don’t have a backyard or you just want to add a little greenery to your kitchen, setting up an indoor herb garden has so many benefits. Growing your own herbs in your kitchen is a wonderful hobby, promotes healthy and creative cooking and spruces up your interior! 

Owning and caring for indoor plants has been proven to have a positive impact on your mental health and it doesn’t take much to set up an herb garden in your kitchen. All you need are pots or planters, potting mix and a few small pebbles, baby herbs from your local nursery or seeds to grow the herbs from scratch.

 

Indoor Herb Garden – The Basics

Pick a sunny spot, like a windowsill, in your kitchen so the herbs will get enough light to grow and develop their delicious aroma. If your kitchen is on the darker side, you can always invest in artificial, fluorescent lighting to help your herbs grow indoors.

Pick pots or planters that have drainage holes at the bottom and make sure to place a saucer or tray underneath so excess water and dirt don’t ruin your countertops. Adding small pebbles to the bottom of your pots before filling them with potting mix and planting the herbs of your choice will further help with airflow and root health. 

While herbs look pretty on a kitchen countertop, they may take up too much space in a smaller kitchen. You can always grow them on a windowsill or install a vertical garden where you hang the planters on the wall. If you opt for a hanging garden, cut up a sponge and add a piece of it below the pebbles. The sponge will soak up excess water so it won’t drip out the bottom and will also help with keeping the roots of your herbs healthy.

If you can’t wait to set up an indoor herb garden in your kitchen, check out the guide below. It illustrates the best herbs to grow as a beginner and how to care for them so they’ll thrive indoors. Consider what dishes you love to cook and that can be elevated with some fresh herbs.

Are you a fan of tacos? Some fresh cilantro will definitely be a wonderful herb to grow. If you’ve always wanted to make your own pesto from scratch, add a basil plant to your herb garden.

Picking herbs that you love will make this project one you’ll enjoy for a long time!

best herbs to grow in your kitchen

Awesome and Healthy Vegetables to Grow in the Winter

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It is challenging to decide which crops to grow during winter because most of them seem to wither. Most of the times, people don’t plant anything during the cold season; however, there are plants that love the cold and thrive in these temperatures.

If you love gardening, you can still practice your craft during winter.

 

When Should You Sow Vegetables for Winter Harvest?

When can you sow winter vegetables? The best time to sow for winter harvest is during spring or when summer is starting. This is because it takes more than a month for the vegetables to mature. Winter crops can withstand the low temperatures, and you can harvest them throughout the season.

 

Tips for Growing Vegetables to Harvest in Winter

Although many plants wither during winter, you don’t have to worry about your crops. You ought to plan appropriately to have adequate plants during this season. Although frost can add flavor to your winter crops, they still need protection from extreme cold. Reading labels helps.

Soil is a crucial factor when it comes to growing winter vegetables. You ought to keep the soil warm for the plants to thrive. If you live in a very cold environment, don’t let the soil freeze because growth slows as temperatures lower. There are also useful resources, such as homemakerguide.com  with excellent information.

 

Best Vegetables to Grow in Winter

Now that you know that plants can thrive in winter, you ought to understand which ones to grow. The following list contains vegetables that do well in the cold season:

 

Onions and Shallots

Did you know that onions and shallots are winter crops? Green onions and shallots thrive well in cold and rainy seasons. You can plant the onions from cuttings or seedlings. The good thing about onions is that you can grow all types and species during winter.

 

Kale

kale - best winter crops

Kale is an awesome winter vegetable, and some species have been known to withstand even more harsh conditions. This crop can grow in low-temperature soils as well as during the hot seasons. Kale is one of those vegetables which taste better after exposure to cold.

 

Parsley

Salad lovers know how much parsley makes the dish taste good. It can be tasteless to eat your favorite salad without parsley; however, this is a winter vegetable, and it thrives in the cold. In fact, it is an all year-round crop.

 

Garlic

Garlic tastes better in winter. Ensure that you sow your garlic during fall so the bulbs can grow during winter. You can plant any species of garlic because they all thrive in winter; that is why they are known as winter crops.

 

Lettuce

Which are the best vegetables to grow during winter? You ought to consider lettuce, which thrives when grown in the shade. It can also sprout in the ground or a pot. You can either plant the leafy varieties or focus on the butter crunch type. The leafy type thrives so well and produces large succulent leaves during winter.

 

Spinach

If you have are an expert in crops, you know that planting spinach can be quiet challenging because they attract a lot of pests. However, it is crucial to remember that most pests hide during winter, this means you can plant and enjoy your Spinach. All spinach species grow during winter.

 

Peas

Did you know that peas are also winter crops? You can grow a variety of peas species, and they grow well during this season. You can also sow during spring to enjoy your crops in winter or to harvest before others.

 

Carrots

carrots - best winter crops

Carrots taste better in winter because their flavor improves as the temperatures go down. Start planting your carrots in summer and practice mulching to prevent freezing. Remove the mulch when harvesting and enjoy your carrots.

 

Asparagus

Asparagus are the ideal winter vegetables to grow, especially if you have adequate space. You can create a permanent Asparagus bed during autumn. An asparagus crown produces around 25 buds a year, and they continue to sprout for 25 years.

 

Issues that can Arise

Although not all plants do well during winter, the ones that do might not flourish when neglected. Some leafy crops might start bolting when under stress. You also need to protect your cabbages from pests such as caterpillars.

Some vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts can easily develop club roots. Flea beetles love leafy vegetables. Also, be aware of snails and slugs which destroy seedlings and leaves.

 

Conclusion

Winter is a time when most plants stop growing or whither; however, some crops withstand this climate and even taste better. You can start growing your winter crops in autumn or summer. The best thing about winter vegetables is that you can grow a variety of species, and they will all flourish. Although these plants do well in the cold climate, you ought to care for them.

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