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8 Everyday Sustainability Tips You can Commit to Today

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everyday sustainability tips

You’ll hear the term “sustainability” a lot these days. And for a good reason, the Earth is going through significant changes due to a changing climate. The onus falls on us to slow down climate change and hopefully preserve our planet for future generations.

[And yeah, it’s not just the planet going through changes. We are, too, it seems, and it’s really confusing at times. Some days you wake up and don’t know wtf is going on. Or, you do know exactly what’s going on; you just can’t make any sense of it. Reality is a bit wonky right now … hang in there.]

What does sustainability actually mean?

 

Sustainability

sustainability

The term sustainability is often used to describe environmental conservation efforts, but it can encompass a much broader range of issues.

In essence, sustainability is the ability to meet the needs of current generations without undermining the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This includes issues like environmental protection, social justice, and economic development.

To achieve sustainability, we need to find ways to balance these three areas. For example, we might use renewable energy sources to protect the environment while also providing economic benefits and social justice.

It is a complex issue, but finding ways to achieve sustainability is essential for the long-term health of our planet.

And more importantly, what can we do on an individual level to live more sustainable lives?

 

Everyday sustainability tips

Here are eight everyday sustainability tips that you can commit to today:

 

1. Bring your own reusable bags to the store

Next time you’re headed to the store, bring your reusable bags! It may seem negligible, but using reusable bags instead of plastic bags can make a big difference to the environment.

Every year, millions of tons of plastic end up in landfills or as litter, where it can take centuries to break down. And that’s if it doesn’t end up in the ocean, where it can do serious damage to marine life.

When you use a reusable bag, you’re helping to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills and oceans. Plus, it’s often easier to carry your groceries home in reusable bags since they’re sturdier than plastic bags.

 

2. Drive less, walk or bike more

everyday sustainability tips: biking

Walking and biking are two of the easiest and most pleasant ways to get around, and they’re also good for your health and wallet. According to a report by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, people who walk or bike to work are, on average, sick fewer days than those who drive.

They also save money on gas, car maintenance, and parking. In addition, walking and biking help reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. Moreover, they give you a chance to get some exercise.

 

3. Save energy by unplugging electronics or using smart plugs

If you’re looking to slash your energy bill and save money, unplugging electronics and using smart plugs is a great place to start.

Even when turned off, many devices continue to draw power, known as phantom energy or standby power. Phantom energy can account for 5-10% of your total electricity use, so you can see a noticeable difference in your energy bill by unplugging devices when you’re not using them.

And if you’re really looking to automate your energy savings, invest in a few smart plugs. Smart plugs allow you to control devices remotely and on a schedule, so you never have to worry about forgetting to unplug something again.

Plus, many smart plugs come equipped with features like alerts and energy usage reports, so you can further optimize your home’s energy efficiency.

 

4. Buy locally grown food whenever possible

farmers market

The average meal travels 1,500 miles to get to your plate. Food transport accounts for 10% of the United States’ total energy use.

Reducing the time food spends in transit is one way to have a smaller carbon footprint. Another is to choose food that is grown locally.

Seasonal and regional foods have a significantly smaller carbon footprint than those shipped long distances. When you buy locally, you also support the farmers in your community and help to keep farmland from being turned into housing developments or shopping centers.

In addition, local foods are often fresher and tastier than their long-distance counterparts.

 

5. Avoid disposable items whenever possible.

In our throw-away society, it’s easy to forget that we’re creating pollution every time we use a disposable item.

From the paper cup we use for our morning coffee to the plastic forks and knives we use at a picnic, disposables add to the waste and pollution problem.

Disposables are made from petroleum-based products, which means they’re not biodegradable. They’ll sit in landfills for centuries, leaching toxins into the ground and water. In addition, the production of disposables creates pollution in the form of smog and greenhouse gases.

The next time you’re reaching for a paper plate or a plastic bag, take a moment to think about the environmental impact of your choice.

 

6. Recycle any plastic, glass, or metal containers

recycle

You might not think that recycling your soda cans and water bottles would have much of an impact, but it makes a big difference.

Recycling any plastic, glass, or metal containers helps to minimize waste and pollution while protecting the planet. Millions of tons of plastic end up in landfills or are incinerated, releasing harmful toxins into the air every year.

Glass can be remade endlessly without losing its quality, so recycling your bottles and jars helps to cut energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. And recycling aluminum cans uses 95% less energy than making new ones from scratch.

 

7. Compost food scraps instead of throwing them away

Did you know that you can compost your food scraps instead of throwing them away? It’s true! Composting is an excellent way to reduce your impact on the environment and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden.

Plus, it’s really easy to do.

All you need is a simple compost bin or pile. You can even make your compost bin out of an old plastic container.

So what can you compost? Just about anything organic will decompose, including fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells, and even paper towels.

Basically, if it came from a plant (sometimes animals), it can be composted.

Composting is a simple and easy way to reduce waste and help protect the environment.

 

8. Conserve water at home

conserve water washing the car

There are many ways to conserve water at home, and every little bit counts! Here are a few easy things you can do:

  • Turn the faucet off while brushing your teeth or shaving. This can save up to 4 gallons of water per day!
  • Fix any leaks in your faucets, pipes, or toilets. A slow drip can waste as much as 20 gallons of water per day.
  • Don’t let the water run too long while doing the dishes – fill up one side of the sink for washing, and the other for rinsing.
  • Water your plants during the cooler hours of the day rather than in the heat of the afternoon. This will help to reduce evaporation.
  • Invest in a rain barrel! Collecting rainwater is a great way to water your plants while conserving water.
  • Only wash full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher. These appliances use a lot of water, so it’s best to make sure they’re full before turning them on.

By following these everyday sustainability tips, you can make a big difference in how much water you use each day.

Using Organic vs Targeted Chemicals in Your Garden

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organic vs chemicals in gardening

Perhaps not the article one would expect to see on an all-green website, but there may be an argument in favor of using chemicals in the garden or on larger-scale agricultural crops. Obviously in an ideal situation – where the climate, soil, irrigation access and biodiversity come together flawlessly – there would never be a need for outside interference.

There are not many places where this type of fluidity occurs, however. Thanks to rampant urbanization, global warming factors, industrial development and habitat destruction, “green fingers” are sometimes not enough on their own.  

So what do we do to remedy the situation? How can we rid ourselves of biological invaders, foreign destructive species and recurring rot? The answer is, sometimes, to use chemicals.

 

What are chemicals, and why are they unpopular with the organic movement?

targeted chemicals

When we refer to “chemicals,” there is a myriad of areas under discussion. The most common reference includes broad-spectrum herbicides (weed killers), fungicides (fungus destroyers) and pesticides (insect and rodent poisons, for example). These chemicals are used for gardening, and on a larger scale, in agricultural production around the world.

Fertilizers, in the form of nitrates, also fall under this general “chemical” discussion due to their “unnatural” properties. Plants easily absorb nitrates, which act as added nutrition, spurring faster growth.

The mention of anything resembling a “growth hormone” effect is sure to spark a heated debate. It can even cause severe criticism from concerned environmentalists. Technically, though, chemical fertilizers consist of “natural” ingredients but are produced in higher concentrations.

 

What are the difficulties with organic planting?

An organic approach uses natural substances only. It favors using factors like plant proximity, shade, sun, netting, greenhouses, animals, waste reduction, composting and even insects, to enhance growth and deter pests or foreign plants. 

In a perfect world, there would be no ant infestations, no foreign invader species choking out the natural vegetation, and no weeds taking over the forest. In our world, however, these types of hazards are present and thriving.  

Fruit and vegetable farming is tough without chemicals. The produce may be slow-growing, sweetly allowing birds and insects to feast before harvest is possible. It can be more frustrating and time-consuming than other methods, as well as costly to large-scale farmers trying to do things the natural way.  

When the organic approach does not work, people lose entire crops (threatening already-precarious food security), or invading plants cause natural ecosystems to become unbalanced, morphing into dying pockets of land.

 

How do chemicals affect the environment?

Nitrate fertilizers may have an unnatural effect on an ecosystem. If used regularly over long periods, it gets into the underground water systems and clogs up the soil with harmful levels of extra nitrogen, for example.  

It is certainly not a good idea, then, to use chemicals, including nitrate fertilizers, for an extended period, especially when there are organic alternatives.

 

When is it useful to use targeted chemicals?

dealing with weeds in the garden

Why even discuss it if it may cause harm to the environment? Well, the truth is there are situations where chemicals are the only solution, preparing the way for a healthier ecosystem.  

Targeting specific invader species with the right type of chemical is often necessary to rectify the natural state.

Lantana camera is a voracious woody invader with a sturdy root system, for example. Considered a Category 1 invader species in most of Africa, the United States and Australia, it thrives on poor soil and under neglect.  

To eradicate this thorny plant is a nightmare, especially trying to chop it out by hand. The primary root establishes itself so deeply that even when you manage to hack back its thorny tendrils and pull most of it out, it will reshoot in the next few weeks.  

Lantana takes over quickly, choking other plants and sucking all the moisture out of the soil. Spraying the lantana plant will kill it down to the tip of the primary root. However, it will still be sweaty, bloody work to pull it out once it has died.  

This is a prime example of where chemicals are the only choice, but for the sake of the ecosystem, a good option.

Ants and locusts (especially foreign species to an area) may become a huge problem for gardeners and homeowners, too.  Local insects and plants will undoubtedly suffer from the invasionary tactics of these tiny creatures. This may sometimes even change the soil content of the region.

Once the invader species are controlled or eradicated, however, the indigenous fauna and flora take root and flourishes. The balance is restored to the ecosystem and organic methods are, once again, effectively implemented.

This is all thanks to the one-time use of targeted chemicals.

 

The Verdict

Organic greens and other products are fully supported and vehemently recommended. It is always better for the environment to have sustainable, harmonious and natural input from us as human guardians of the environment.  

Targeted chemicals, if used, should be in emergencies only. Carefully applied, specifically and briefly, not relied upon for long-term maintenance or pest control.

Is there a place for chemicals in establishing a balanced ecosystem? What do you think?


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

Spicy Peanut and Tomato Soup Recipe

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spicy Peanut and tomato soup

Peanuts and tomatoes don’t seem like food that would joyfully coexist. But they do.

And in this dish, they come together to create a hearty and creamy soup that will satisfy you with minimum fuss.

In fact, one of the joys of this soup is that it can be made in less than a half an hour with ingredients that are probably in your pantry.

There’s no last minute rushing to the store, or worrying about not having dinner on the table in time.

And it’s incredibly delicious. It’s one of those soups that you make once and it jumps to the top of your repertoire.

It’s a little spicy, but it’s not heat for heats sake.

It’s a warm heat, not one that forces you to dive across the table in search of water.

Another bonus, you don’t need fresh tomatoes to make this soup a winner.

So, even if you’re in an area where you only have access to “winter tomatoes,” that have been shipped in a long distance and are pale and flavorless – that’s fine.

You won’t even miss them.

spicy Peanut and tomato soup
Yield: 4 servings

Spicy Peanut and Tomato Soup

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Peanuts and tomatoes come together to create a hearty and creamy soup that will satisfy you with minimum fuss.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, 14.4 oz
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons smooth or chunky peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne

Instructions

  1. Saute onion, carrots and celery together in a medium saucepan over medium low heat.
  2. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until soft, about 5-8 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes (including juice) to pan. Add peanut butter and broth. Stir until smooth.
  4. Add paprika and cayenne and cook over low heat for 20 minutes.

Nutrition Information

Yield

4

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 496Total Fat 30gSaturated Fat 7gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 20gCholesterol 159mgSodium 731mgCarbohydrates 12gFiber 4gSugar 6gProtein 44g

Did you make this recipe?

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Improving the Quality of Your Soil

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Gardening has never been more popular. Some gardeners are attracted by the back to basics ethos of growing their own food to feed their families, others just like to have a beautiful display of flowers each summer.

The starting point to any type of garden is the soil, and the quality of this can vary hugely across the country.

If you have just moved into a brand new home and are starting from scratch, it is possible to buy large sacks of topsoil and this will provide a good starting point for creating your perfect garden.

If however your garden is more established, there are lots of other things which can be done to improve the soil quality and also help you grow more effectively.

 

Organic Matter

Organic matter

The one thing which improves soil quality more than any other is organic material. Some gardeners swear by horse manure, others prefer to use compost which can be either bought commercially or made at home using grass cuttings or vegetable peelings.

Whatever method you use, the point of digging in organic material is that it improves the texture of the soil and makes it easier for plants to take root.

Don’t underestimate the amount of manure or compost you will need; experts recommend about half a wheelbarrow full of compost or manure per square metre of soil. There is no easy way of getting the organic matter into the soil either as it has to be dug in thoroughly – spreading it on the top and hoping for the best just isn’t going to work.

Treating the soil in this way also needs to be done annually, usually before the winter.

 

Fertiliser

The second step to improving the soil is to use fertiliser. This should be done a couple of weeks before you intend planting anything. All winter the organic material will have been rotting down and improving the soil texture, and the fertiliser will give it that final boost needed to start growing a bumper crop.

It is always preferable to go for organic fertilizers which do not contain any harsh chemicals, and products such as bone meal or fish meal are ideal. Less quantity of fertilizer is needed, around a handful per meter square.

 

Drainage

There is no point spending hours digging in compost or treating your garden with fertiliser if it is waterlogged and drains poorly. In many areas of the country, depending on the type of soil you have, this can be a major problem.

There are ways around this, and using lots of mulch around the base of your plants when planting will help. Raised beds are the ideal way to improve drainage, and as well as being practical an arrangement of raised beds can look attractive too.

Follow the same pattern of digging in organic matter and fertiliser, and ensure that your raised beds are standing clear of the ground to let excess water drain easily.

If raised beds are not appropriate, it is possible to build proper drainage systems with gravel filled ditches to improve the garden, although this may be expensive.

 

Crop rotation

crop rotation

Farmers have known for centuries that it is best to rotate around where different crops are grown on a yearly basis, as growing the same crop in the same place for years on end leads to less nutrients in the soil.

This message has been adopted by many gardeners at home, but many are still sticking to the same pattern of planting year after year.

Rotating where you grow certain crops, or taking a year off from growing something altogether also helps to reduce pests and diseases in your vegetables or plants.

Vegetables from the same family should be rotated together, so for example there is no point growing cauliflower one year and then Brussels sprouts in the same spot the next as they are both part of the Brassica family.

There are many resources online which will help you group the crops you intend growing, and come up with the best plan for rotating them around the space you have available. Rotating crops is an effective way of improving soil, but does not cut out the need for the hard work with the organic matter and fertiliser.


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

10 Tasty Recipes for National Vegetarian Awareness Week & Beyond

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national vegetarian awareness week 2022

This week (16th – 22nd May) has been National Vegetarian Awareness Week; a time set aside to celebrate plant-based diets and raise awareness about the many benefits of vegetarianism.

A vegetarian diet can lower your risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, and it’s also more environmentally sustainable than a meat-based diet. If you’re thinking about giving vegetarianism a try, we’ve curated some of the best and tastiest recipes out there to help you get started.

Enjoy!

 

The vegetarian lifestyle

vegetarian lifestyle - national vegetarian awareness week 2022

According to a recent study, there are now more vegetarians in the United States than ever before. In fact, it is estimated that up to 7.3 million Americans have adopted a vegetarian lifestyle.

There are many reasons why people choose to abstain from eating meat, including health concerns, environmental concerns, and ethical concerns. For many people, the decision to become a vegetarian is a way of taking a stand against the cruel treatment of animals. Others see it as a way of reducing their carbon footprint and doing their part to protect the environment.

Whatever the reason, it is clear that the number of vegetarians in America is on the rise. And with more and more people seeking out meat-free alternatives, it seems likely that the trend will continue.

The issues

Over the years GreenerIdeal has covered some of the issues around vegetarianism. Here are the top five:

1. The beef with meat: Looks at a few aspects of meat production (i.e., environmental impact, animal welfare), shows how meat contributes to environmental problems (water pollution, energy use, greenhouse gas emissions) and how meat can be harmful to your health.

2. Reducing weekly meat intake: Meat is a common food and source of protein for many people, but it can contribute to health problems such as obesity and heart disease. You probably eat meat daily- maybe more than once a day. However, eating that much meat impact your health in the long run. Check out these easy tips to cut on your weekly meat intake.

3. Dealing with Non-Vegetarian Holiday Feast: Vegans are sometimes characterized as having a sense of superiority over non-vegans. This isn’t entirely true, but some vegans are just begging to be labeled. So, what do you do over holidays especially where meat is mostly the main dish? Here are some simple guidelines to follow during such holidays.

4. How vegetarianism can help save the planet: A vegetarian diet is great for your health and that of the planet. This piece explores the many benefits of going vegan for the planet.

5. How to complement your vegetarian diet: A vegetarian diet comes with a few challenges. For instance, meat provides an easy way for the body to get a large amount of protein. It’s also the only source of Vitamin B12, an essential nutrient in red blood cell production. Deficiencies in vitamin B12 can lead to loss of certain nerve functions, so it’s vital that vegetarians get sufficient B12 in their diet. The piece explores a few ways you can complement your vegan diet to ensure you get all the essential nutrients.

7 Renewable Technologies Changing Our World

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renewable technologies changing the world

As the world looks for ways to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and combat climate change, renewable energy technologies are coming to the fore. Here are seven that could have a significant impact in the years to come.

 

Solar power

renewable energy technologies

Solar power is one of the most promising renewable energy technologies. It is emission-free and versatile and can generate electricity, heat water, and even power vehicles.

As countries look for ways to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, solar power is becoming increasingly important. In many parts of the world, solar panels are now being used to generate a significant amount of electricity.

According to the International Energy Agency, the global installed capacity of solar photovoltaics (PV) reached almost 620 gigawatts (GW) in 2019, up from just over 300 GW just five years earlier. And there’s still huge growth potential – the IEA estimates that solar could provide more than 27% of global electricity by 2050.

Indeed, in some cases, solar power is now the cheapest form of energy available.

As solar technology improves and prices fall, solar will likely play an even bigger role in powering the world in the future.

 

Wind energy

Wind power is another renewable energy source that’s been growing rapidly in recent years.

According to the IEA, the global installed capacity of wind turbines reached almost 607 GW in 2019, up from just over 487 GW in 2014. And like solar, there’s still a lot of room for growth – the agency estimates that wind could provide more than 19% of global electricity by 2050.

Countries are turning to wind energy to power their homes and businesses. There are now more than 1,000 operating wind farms in 100 countries, with a total capacity of nearly 500,000 megawatts. That’s enough to power more than 130 million homes!

In the United States, wind energy is one of the fastest-growing sources of electricity. According to the American Wind Energy Association(AWEA), wind power capacity in the US has increased by more than 25% in the past five years.

What’s driving this growth? For one thing, wind energy is becoming increasingly cost-competitive with other forms of generation, such as natural gas and coal.

In addition, wind turbines are now being built taller and with larger blades, making them more efficient at capturing the wind’s energy.

As a result of these improvements, the cost of wind energy has fallen by 90% since the 1980s. With costs continuing to decline, wind will likely play an even bigger role in meeting global energy needs in the years ahead.

 

Hydropower

renewable energy technologies: hydropower

Hydropower is a form of renewable energy that uses water to generate electricity. It’s not only clean and environmentally friendly, but it’s also incredibly efficient. In fact, hydropower currently supplies around 16% of the world’s electricity.

And it’s not just large countries that are investing in hydropower.

Smaller countries are starting to see the benefits as well.

In Lesotho, for example, a new hydropower plant was recently built to provide electricity for the country’s capital city, Maseru. The plant cost around $ US320 million to build but should save Lesotho millions of dollars each year in fuel costs.

Hydro energy is one of the oldest forms of renewable energy, and it still provides a significant amount of power around the world. According to the IEA, hydropower generated 3.6% of global electricity in 2018, and it’s expected to continue playing a role in the energy mix in the years to come.

There are many reasons why hydropower is such a popular source of energy. For one, it is a very efficient way to generate electricity. Hydropower plants can have operating expenses as low as 1% of the cost of conventional power plants.

Moreover, hydropower is a clean energy source that does not produce greenhouse gases or other pollutants.

The technology behind hydropower is also constantly evolving, making it an even more attractive option for the future.

One of the latest developments in hydropower is floating solar farms. These solar farms are built on reservoirs and use the water to cool the panels, resulting in more efficient electricity production.

 

Wave and tidal energy

Wave and tidal power are two forms of renewable energy derived from the natural movement of water. Wave energy is created by the force of waves crashing against the shore, while tidal power is generated by the rise and fall of tides.

People have used both forms of energy for centuries to power mills and pumps, but they are only now being developed as a source of electricity.

The world’s first wave farm was completed in Scotland in 2000, and since then, several other plants have been built around the world. One of the largest wave farm currently in operation is the Simec Atlantic Array, which can generate enough electricity to power over 20,000 homes.

In 2018, it was announced that the world’s first floating wind farm had been completed off the coast of Scotland. The farm consists of five turbines tethered to the seabed and can generate enough electricity to power nearly 20,000 homes.

Tidal power plants have also been built in several countries, including Canada, China, France, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. The Seagreen 1 tidal power plant in Scotland is currently under construction and is expected to be operational in 2025. When completed, it will be one of the world’s largest.

According to the IEA, wave and tidal could provide up to 10% of global electricity by 2050.

 

Geothermal power

geothermal power plant

Geothermal power is a renewable energy that harnesses the Earth’s internal heat to generate electricity. Unlike fossil fuels, which produce emissions that can contribute to climate change, geothermal power is a clean and sustainable energy source.

In addition, geothermal power plants can provide a steady and reliable source of electricity, even when the sun isn’t shining, or the wind isn’t blowing. As a result, geothermal power plays an increasingly important role in our transition to a low-carbon economy.

According to the International Geothermal Association, more than 26 countries currently operate geothermal power plants. The same organization estimates geothermal power plants produce around 3.5 gigawatts of electricity, enough to power 3 million homes.

The United States is the world’s leading producer of geothermal electricity, followed by the Philippines and Indonesia. Kenya is also a major player in the geothermal space, with plans to increase its output from 200 megawatts to 1 gigawatts by 2030.

Some of the latest developments in geothermal power include the world’s largest geothermal power plant in Turkey and a new plant in Kenya that is set to provide power to more than 1 million people. With advances in technology and increasing investment, it is clear that geothermal power is poised to play a significant role in our future energy mix.

 

Biomass

Biomass is a renewable energy source that can take many forms, including wood, crop waste, and Municipal Solid Waste (MSW). It can be used to generate electricity, heat, or transportation fuels.

According to the IEA, biomass currently accounts for around 10% of the global primary energy supply, and it is expected to play a significant role in the energy mix in the years to come.

This increase is mainly due to the growing use of biomass for power generation. In 2017, biomass provided around 4% of global electricity, up from 2% in 2010. The majority of biomass power plants are located in Europe and Asia.

The United States is also a major biomass power producer, with around 100 plants in operation. Biomass power faces several challenges, including high costs and environmental concerns.

However, the latest technologies are helping to overcome these challenges and make biomass a more viable option for the future.

 

Nuclear power

nuclear power plant

Nuclear power is a controversial renewable energy source, but it cannot be ignored. According to the World Nuclear Association, it currently provides around 11% of global electricity, and it is expected to play a significant role in the energy mix in the years to come.

Nuclear energy uses sunlight to split atoms and generate heat. This heat is then used to generate electricity through a process called nuclear fission.

Currently, more than 442 nuclear power plants are operating in 30 countries worldwide, with a total capacity of almost 400,000 megawatts. In addition, there are another 54 plants under construction in 15 countries.

The use of nuclear power has grown significantly over the past few decades. In 1970, nuclear power accounted for less than 1% of the world’s electricity production, and today supplies about 11% of the world’s electricity.

There are several reasons why nuclear power is growing in popularity. For one, it produces no greenhouse gas emissions, making it an attractive option for combating climate change. In addition, it is a very efficient form of energy production, with a typical plant generating about two to three times more electricity than a coal-fired plant of the same size.

Finally, nuclear plants have a small footprint and can be located almost anywhere.

Despite its benefits, nuclear power does have some drawbacks. The most notable of these is the risk of a nuclear accident. Although the chances of this happening are extremely low, the potential consequences are very catastrophic.

 

Conclusion

These are just a few of the renewable energy technologies that have the potential to change our world.

As we continue to research and develop these technologies, they will become more efficient and less expensive, making them more viable options for both large-scale power generation and small-scale home energy production.

How to Dispose of Old Tires in Environmentally Friendly Ways

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dispose of old tires

The United States generates about 290 million scrap tires annually. If not managed properly, old tires create many health and environmental problems. They can serve as breeding grounds for mosquitos and other disease-carrying insects.

Tires also act as fuel for fires. When old tires are burned, they release several harmful chemicals. These include carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and several other toxins. These compounds lead to air pollution and are particularly detrimental to people with respiratory problems.

However, the tire problem isn’t limited to air pollution. Tires can also leach chemicals into the ground as they break down. Some of these toxic chemicals seep into the ground and waterways contaminating groundwater and soil and creating problems for plants and animals.

Fortunately, there are numerous sustainable ways of disposing of old tires. We’ll be exploring some of the options today, along with what you can do right now with the old tires in your garage or backyard.

Let’s jump right in.

 

Recycling tires

recycling old tires

Tire recycling is one of the most sustainable ways to dispose of old tires. It helps reduce pollution, conserve resources, and create new products.

When tires are recycled, they are first cleaned and shredded. The shredded tire pieces are then used in a variety of applications, including:

  • Asphalt for roads
  • Playground surfaces
  • Landscaping mulch
  • Tire-derived fuel

Through tire recycling, unwanted and end-of-life tires are reused or retreaded differently.

Recycled rubber from the old tires, for instance, is used to make crumb rubber, a form of granulated rubber used in playground surfaces, landscaping, and underlayment for synthetic turf fields.

However, new research shows that smaller crumb rubber may contain potentially hazardous substances.

Alternatively, tires can be chipped and used as fuel in cement kilns, paper mills, or power plants. Whole tires can also be used in civil engineering projects, such as constructing barriers or breakwaters.

In addition, research is ongoing into new ways to recycle tires, such as using them to create asphalt.

 

The process

Today, most tires are made from natural rubber, steel, synthetic polymers, and textiles such as polyester, nylon, and rayon.

In essence, we can break down old tires and extract some materials. The primary scrap materials derived from tires include:

  • Tire-derived fuel (36.8%) – According to the EPA, tires produce the same energy as oil and 25% more than coal. However, the process of extracting that fuel remains in contention.)
  • Ground rubber
  • Small rubber crumbs are used in civil engineering projects.

Others include steel, fiber, and nylon. The materials are extracted, cleaned, and sold for remanufacturing or use in other areas.

 

Regulation on disposing of old tires

Despite recycling efforts and stringent regulation, 14.3% of old tires still ends up in landfills, according to the United States Tire Manufacturers Association.

It’s worth noting that most landfills in the U.S. do not accept old tires. In fact, 39 states explicitly prohibit whole tires from landfills, while 13 states do not even allow shredded tires in such facilities.

 

Your old tire recycling options

  • Call your local recycling service to enquire about their tire recycling programs. Some local governments also offer bulk tire trash collection.
  • Alternatively, talk to your auto vendor or shop for old tire recycling options. Some charge a small disposal fee.

Several tire manufacturers also offer free recycling programs. Some of these include:

 

Upcycling old tires

Tires are sturdy and durable, which makes them excellent upcycling materials. Here are a few creative and environmentally friendly ways to upcycle your old tires:

1. Using them as planters

using old tires as planters

Have you ever wondered what to do with all those old tires lying around? Rubber tires can last for years, but eventually, they tire out and need to be replaced.

Rather than simply throwing them away, consider upcycling them into planters! This is a great way to reduce waste, but it’s also an Eco-friendly way to add some unique style to your garden.

Tires make excellent planters because they’re durable, lightweight, and easy to move around. They can also be painted or decorated to add a personal touch. Plus, they’re the perfect size for small plants and succulents.

If you’re looking for a creative way to recycle old tires, consider using them as planters. You’ll be doing your part for the environment and adding some personality to your garden simultaneously!

 

2. Turn them into art and furniture.

tire furniture

Every year, millions of tires are sent to landfills, where they sit and release harmful chemicals into the environment. But what if there was a way to recycle old tires and turn them into something beautiful?

That’s where tire art and furniture comes in.

Tire art is a form of upcycling, which takes tire waste materials and turns them into new products. Old tires can be made into everything from benches and planters to sculptures and chandeliers.

Not only is tire art environmentally friendly, but it also helps beautify our world.

Here’s a quick DIY Ottoman made from an old tire and other readily available materials:

 

3. Turn them into sustainable construction materials

One interesting way to recycle old tires is to use them as construction materials. For example, “Earthships” are homes built partially or entirely from recycled materials, including tires.

The tires are filled with earth and then stacked to create walls. Earthships are designed to be sustainable and Eco-friendly, and they often have features such as solar panels and rainwater collection systems.

While they may not be suitable for everyone, Earthships offer a creative and environmentally-friendly solution for those looking for alternative traditional construction methods.

Watch how old tires are used to construct Earth-ships:

 

Conclusion

Tires present a challenging problem for the environment. They are made from fossil fuel derivatives and other synthetic polymers that take time to break down. However, they can be easily recycled, up-cycled or broken down for materials. Get a little creative with your worn out tires.

Image: Flickr

What do you do with your old, worn out or unwanted tires? Please leave a comment below.

5 Organic Gardening Problems and How to Fix Them

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Organic Gardening Problems

Growing healthy fruits and vegetables without using chemicals in a natural approach protects both the consumer and the environment.

This is not difficult to achieve on a small scale, where individual plants can receive much attention. However, some systems enable large-scale gardening and farming to use natural methods.

In our guide, you can learn about problems you could face using these new methods of gardening. From growing tomatoes and avoiding blossom end rot to leaf curl on pepper plants.

Some mistakes are common gardening issues, while some are specific to growing organically. By the end, you’ll know more about growing new plants and understand the issues you’ll face and what to do to fix them.

 

What Is The Biggest Problem For Organic Gardeners?

When you begin organic gardening, you’ll face five fundamental problems that meet you at the start of your journey.

Here, you can find the five most significant issues you’ll come across:

organic gardening problems

1. Choosing a Suitable Garden Site

If you want to start an organic garden, the first step is to choose a site. The garden should be situated in a sunny, well-drained spot.

Don’t be concerned about the soil’s condition. With some natural ingredients and little effort, you can improve this. 

Next, find a composting location near the garden. Composting is a fantastic way to obtain free, nutrient-dense nutrients into the soil.

 

2. Garden Soil Amendment

It’s time to develop a productive environment for plants once the site has been selected. This entails turning the soil over and introducing nutrients. There is no such thing as too much compost.

However, exercise caution. Although there are many sources of composted manure, it is sometimes not adequately aged, leaving chemicals that will “burn” young plants.

You can make a new garden bed with raked leaves from trees and grass clippings. The soil can be tested by sending off samples or using a DIY soil test kit

The exams cost more yet can help identify specific soil amendment requirements in your garden.

There are a few simple methods for determining soil composition. 

A mason jar, a cup of soil, and some water can conduct a more exact experiment. 

  1. In a quart jar, put one cup of soil. 
  2. Add Dishwashing liquid (one tablespoon). 
  3. Fill the jar halfway with water and screw the lid on firmly. 
  4. Shake the jar until the soil and water are dispersed. 
  5. Place your jar on a flat surface and leave overnight. 
  6. The sand will be in the bottom in the morning, the silt in the middle, and the clay on top, forming a top layer with some hazy, polluted water.

You can use this information to estimate the composition of your soil. For example, you should aim for a ratio of 40 percent silt, 40 percent sand, and 20 percent clay. 

The pH of the soil can also make the outcome. pH testing kits are inexpensive, but the agricultural extension can also conduct it. 

A slightly acidic pH is ideal (6.6 – 6.8). The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with lower numbers suggesting acidic soil and higher ones showing alkaline soil. Seven is a neutral PH.

Add lime to the soil to boost the pH. Ashes might also be helpful. Aluminum sulfate and sulfur will increase the acidity of the soil. These chemicals may be used on organic farms and market gardens because they are natural to the soil.

 

3. Planting Organic Seeds and Plants

Plant seeds that have been genetically changed should not be used in an organic garden. Instead, the seeds should have been grown using organic methods.

Heirloom seeds and organic seeds are both readily available, and heirloom produces plants that produce consistent, high-quality results.

If non-heirloom hybrid plants are employed, their offspring will yield unpredictable results. Inquire about organic starters while purchasing seedlings.

To begin, simply follow the planting instructions for the specific plant. Carrots, tomatoes, leeks, and other garden plants have different needs.

Planting instructions are always included with seed packets. Determine the optimum planting methods and timeframes with the plant starts and seedlings vendor.

The USDA has prepared a plant hardiness zone chart to determine what can be planted where and when. (Click on the image to explore your region.)

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

 

4. Organic Fertilizer

With organic gardening, fertilizing and composting is typically sufficient. Mulching can help perennials, and fast-growing plants keep moisture during dry periods while slowly leaching nutrients into the soil when the plant requires them.

Making compost tea is one way to swiftly provide nutrients to the plant through the foliage and the ground. This compost has been diluted with water and brewed to kill some microorganisms.

Then you can spray it on plants directly. Organic fertilizers, such as groundfish and kelp, are available from gardening stores besides what you can make at home.

Water is, of course, an essential aspect of any garden. Keep the soil damp but not soggy for most plants. The plants will express their gratitude by providing an abundance of fruits and vegetables.

 

5. Organic Pest Control

Controlling garden pests is probably the most challenging component of organic gardening.

The gardener’s first line of defense is to pick pests from plants’ fruits or leaves and deposit them in a salt or alcohol solution.

This is simple for pests like Tomato Hornworm, although it will be more difficult for subsurface grubs and small aphids. 

Being proactive is one way to combat pests. Before they become an issue, repel them. Inter-planting your garden with pest-resistant plants is one way to do this.

Basil, cilantro, garlic, and marigolds are some common insect repellent plants. 

Sprays produced from the ground or crushed leaves of these plants can be sprayed directly onto afflicted plants.

Beneficial insects can be attracted or released to eliminate pests quickly. 

To destroy insects or bacteria, spray soaps and oils on plants. However, this kind of defense may kill both helpful and target insects.

 

Other Factors

Crop rotation prevents pests from accumulating in certain places. Plant tomatoes and celery in different spots each year.

Keeping plants warm with cold-frames or cloches can lengthen the growing season.

Organic gardening is enjoyable. A little plot can produce tremendous harvests, save money, and be healthy.

 

Is Organic Gardening A Problem?

Wondering about organic gardening without the problems? Here are common ways your organic garden can be affected and what you can do to avoid mistakes. 

organic gardening

1# Spraying Synthetic Chemical Pesticides

Organic gardening’s worst mistake is using synthetic chemicals. Spraying your home garden with chemicals designed to introduce life introduces chemicals that destroy garden life. In addition, using chemicals in your garden is a definite way to contaminate your food. 

Using chemicals is a costly mistake for your family, pets and all the beneficial insects that help around your garden. be sure to clean out your garden shed of any suspect pesticides before you make any common organic gardening mistakes. 

 

2# Using Synthetic Chemical Fertilizers

Using synthetic chemical fertilizers is a mistake made by most organic gardeners. 

Chemical fertilizers are created of synthetic versions of common plant minerals.

These fertilizers are sold at most garden centers and big box stores and are labeled with an N-P-K ratio.

Organic gardens cannot use chemical fertilizers, and blue crystals in fertilizer are not natural. 

Synthetic fertilizers distribute minerals faster than organic fertilizers or soil conditioners, yet getting fertilizer wrong, you can have pepper plant leaves curling where you think it is from overwatering. 

Atmospheric nitrogen is fixed with hydrogen from natural gas at high temperatures and can form ammonia gas, NH3.

Making your compost or worm castings is a far better option for the environment. You can also find pre-packaged organic plant fertilizer at garden centers or online.

 

3# Avoid Conventional Potting Soil 

It’s a common organic gardening mistake. In addition, chemical fertilizers might be used unknowingly as you can add them to potting soil if you’re not careful. 

Verify your new potting soil hasn’t been “enhanced” with unspecified “additives” to help assist plants growing. 

Potting soil should comprise a bulk medium like peat or coconut coir, an air-trapping medium like perlite or vermiculite, and pH-balancing lime: compost, composted manure, or worm castings.

Use potting soil made from natural ingredients: peat moss and perlite are good options . You can easily add worm castings to your starting mix and spread homemade compost over your garden soil. 

 

4# Avoid or Fix Contaminated Ground 

You could contaminate your organic garden soil without chemicals. In an organic garden, it’s a mistake to ignore the soil’s history.

Maybe your garden was near a highway or a gas station, or there is an old oil tank somewhere in your garden?

Old roadways can be contaminated with lead from paints and petroleum pollutants.

If you’re worried about contamination, test your soil. If tests come back positive, you can easily combat this with raised beds and new soil to grow vegetables in.

A raised bed organic garden is superior to reusing existing soil.

 

5# Using the Wrong Manure 

While some well-composted manure is safe for organic gardening, some are not. Well-composted manure from animals like rabbits are safe for organic gardening.

Manure that is not composted or comes from meat-eating animals shouldn’t be used in organic gardening. These types of manures are not considered a safe addition to your organic garden. 

Manure from pets like cats and dogs can be problematic, and you’ll need to keep this animal waste away from your garden.

You should always wash food from the garden before eating, especially root crops. 

 

What Are The Disadvantages In Gardening?

Organic products are readily available in most supermarket stores because of high consumer demand. However, growing your organic food is superior. 

The top organic gardening downsides: 

Rural families have more access to organic foods than inner-city families. However, the cost of bringing organic produce into the city and growing it can make it too expensive.

Organic food is more expensive because of strict certification requirements. In addition, no chemicals can be used, which can delay growth and cause pest and weed problems. 

Controlling pests and weeds is essential to organic gardening. Many herbicides and insecticides are safe for commercial horticulture. If applied properly, they’re practical and leave little soil residue or food residue.

To avoid toxicity, many consumers choose organics. However, perennial weeds are challenging to eradicate organically, and organic pest solutions often fail. In addition, changes in weather and population make pest management a problem in organic gardening.

The amount of organic additives for proper food nutrition is many times that of synthetic fertilizer used in traditional growing.

Maintaining nutritional levels is difficult. In addition, compost used to improve soil might transmit illness and increase weeds.

Pathogens and weed seeds can survive composting and infect the next crop.

Animal manure is a joint soil supplement, but it’s challenging to get in urban gardens, making commercial fertilizers easier.

 

Problems Faced by Organic Gardeners and How to Fix Them

organic gardening mistakes beginners make

Whether a beginner or not, every gardener and farmer will face problems.

Though gardening challenges never seem to end, the venture can be a rewarding hobby that’s enjoyable, relaxing, healthy, and lovely to look at.

Here are some common vegetable garden problems and solutions to them.

 

Pests Destroying Plants

Garden pests are the most common gardening issues affecting vegetables and other crops. Use methods that will not harm your or your vegetables’ health.

Try organic methods such as soapy water, baking soda spray, diatomaceous earth, and neem oil.

 

Poor Soil

Planting on poor soil has proven to be a severe challenge. If your vegetable garden crops are wilting or growing slowly, you may have soil problems. 

Plants need healthy soil rich in nutrients and organic matter to thrive.

Mulch, organic compost, and vermiculture can be added to the soil surface and tilled to improve the soil. Test the soil pH level and missing nutrients.

 

Disease 

Gardeners regularly experience powdery mildew and bacterial canker.

  • Examine your plants for diseases before planting them.
  • Morning watering helps keep plants healthy.
  • Water the soil, not the foliage.
  • Before planting, let the soil warm up.
  • Space crops for growing properly.
  • Boost plant immunity using organic fertilizers.

 

Blossom End Rot

This is a condition in tomato plants and is caused by calcium deficiency. 

To fix blossom end rot, ensure your soil doesn’t dry by using lots of organic mulch around roots.

Give your plants added calcium by adding crushed eggshells to the soil.

 

White Spots on Leaves

Spider mites in your garden cause this, and while a pest, they are easy to treat. Use a gallon of lukewarm water and add one teaspoon of mild organic liquid soap. Also, you can purchase an organic pesticide to help.

 

Plants Are Weak 

When plants look weak, you may have over-watered, or they lack enough light.

Ensure crops get 6-8 hours of sunlight during the day. 

 

Plants Are Wilting

If plants wilt, it’s too little or too much water. Feel the soil and if it’s soggy, stop watering. If the soil feels dry, water more, but ensure you’re watering deeply.

 

Plants Grow Slow

Nothing is more frustrating than plants not growing correctly. Of course, this is improper soil preparation, yet there are many ways to improve the preparation.

Dig up your plants, and make sure the soil is tilled, so plants spread roots. Also, remove any red clay and add compost to improve the soil. 

5 Sustainable Substitutes for Everyday Household Items

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Sustainable Substitutes for Common Household Items

Sustainable living is becoming a popular lifestyle choice as people look for ways to reduce their environmental impact. Green living also seems better for your health, pocket, and society.

Charity begins at home, and that’s where your journey to healthier, sustainable living also starts.

In becoming net-zero at home, even tiny changes to your routine can make a huge difference. The smaller things also give you time to plan and save for the bigger things, such as switching to solar, renovating your home with greener options, etc.

One way to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle at home is to find sustainable substitutes for everyday household items—things you use almost daily.

Here are five sustainable substitutes for common household items and why they are better for you and the planet.

 

1. Cloth napkins instead of paper towels

Switching to cloth towels from paper towels is budget-friendly and better for the environment. Here’s why:

  • You can reuse cloth towels multiple times before you need to wash them. Paper towels can only be used once and thrown away.
  • Washing cloth towels uses less water than manufacturing paper towels.
  • Manufacturing paper towels releases harmful chemicals into the environment, while cloth towels are mostly made from natural, sustainable materials like cotton and bamboo.
  • Here’s the kicker. Cloth towels might save you money in the long run. Think about it; you don’t need to keep buying new paper towels all the time. Simply wash and reuse your cloth towels. Well, as long as they hold together 🙂

 

2. Reusable water bottle instead of plastic water bottle

reusable water bottle

There’s no denying that plastic bottles are hellishly convenient. Out running and getting thirsty, grab a bottle at the corner store. Traveling, grab some more on your way

Plastic bottles are easy to find and relatively cheap. No wonder they are so popular. However, research points to plastic being bad for you, society, and the planet

First, plastic water bottles are a major source of pollution.

Over 38 billion water bottles end up in landfills each year in the US alone. That’s at least four bottles for each of us on the planet right now! And that’s just in one year.

Because they are made from petroleum, they release harmful chemicals into the environment as they break down. They also take a long time to break down (if ever) fully.

On the other side, some reusable bottles are made from materials like stainless steel and glass that don’t leach chemicals into your water. Even the plastic variants are pretty durable and will last you a while.

And because you can reuse them indefinitely, they often end up being cheaper in the long run than disposable plastic bottles. So next time you reach for a plastic water bottle, consider opting for a reusable one instead. It’s better for you, better for the planet, and better for your wallet.

 

3. Reusable shopping bags instead of plastic bags

Reusable shopping bags are made from various sustainable materials like cotton, jute, and canvas, which means they don’t end up in landfills like plastic bags.

They’re also sturdier; you can use them repeatedly without having to replace them as often. Plus, they look better than plastic bags and come in various sizes and shapes to fit your needs.

Reusable bags are also better for the environment because they reduce the number of resources needed to produce new bags. And, when you use reusable bags, you’re not contributing to the growing problem of plastic pollution in our oceans and waterways.

Switching to reusable shopping bags is a simple way to reduce your family’s environmental impact and save money in the long run.

 

4. LED light bulbs instead of incandescent light bulbs

Sustainable household substitutes: LED lightbulbs

There are many reasons to switch from incandescent light bulbs to LED bulbs for families.

One reason is that LED bulbs are more energy-efficient than incandescent bulbs, and they use less power. This means families can save money on their energy bills.

Second, LED bulbs last longer than incandescent bulbs. Families won’t have to replace the bulbs as often, which can also save money.

LED bulbs are also better for the environment because they don’t contain harmful chemicals. They provide a brighter, whiter light than incandescent bulbs, making it easier to see.

 

5. Bamboo toothbrush instead of plastic toothbrush

There are a few key reasons bamboo toothbrushes may be preferable to plastic ones.

First, bamboo is a sustainable and renewable resource, while plastic is not. Second, bamboo is biodegradable; it won’t add to the growing problem of plastic pollution. Finally, some people believe that bamboo has anti fungal and antibacterial properties, which could help to keep your mouth healthy.

While there is no definitive scientific evidence to support these claims, they are worth considering when deciding between bamboo and plastic toothbrushes. Ultimately, the best choice for you depends on your personal preferences and priorities.

 

Conclusion

Looking for sustainable household substitutes doesn’t have to be difficult. There are many great sustainable options available that can help you green your home. From using cloth napkins, to reusable shopping bags instead of plastic bags, there are many easy ways to make more sustainable choices in your everyday life.

By making a few simple changes, you can help make a big difference for yourself and the environment.

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