Reduce, reuse, and recycle with these easy ideas
Following the United States Department of Agriculture’s announcement that “In 2010, an estimated 133 billion pounds of food from U.S. retail food stores, restaurants, and homes never made it into people's stomachs,” it feels more important than ever that we cut back on our food waste.
Celebrate World Environment Day, June 6, by being especially mindful of the way you cook, eat, and entertain. Try these 10 tips!
- Instead of throwing bits and pieces of your food items away, use as much of them as you can! When you cook beets, save their greens. Save bones for stock, and use stale bread to make croutons or breadcrumbs.
- Cut back on paper waste! Using cloth napkins, real glasses and silverware, and plates you can wash is not only a greener option than using disposable paper goods, but also makes a table feel more complete.
- Join the USDA’s Food Waste Challenge to reduce, reuse and recycle!
- Turn off the lights and have a candlelit dinner
- Compost your food scraps either in a corner of your backyard or at a farmers’ market.
- Get as many groceries as you can at the farmers’ market or join a local community supported agriculture (CSA) program. This will help you eat foods that are local, in season, and very fresh.
- Pick up your groceries in a reusable bag!
- Take your meal outside and enjoy it on your lawn or in a nearby park!
- Maintain a well-stocked pantry to help you cook mindfully—and entertain easily on short notice!
- Try using organic ingredients as often as possible. Not sure where to start? How about Homemade Organic Hummus or a Strawberry Sunshine Tofu Smoothie? Check out more of our best organic recipes here.
How you can increase biodiversity with every run
Running is great, I have been doing it for as long as I can remember, but some of the things we do as runners can have a not so positive effect on the environment and subsequently biodiversity, which was the theme for this year’s World Environment Day. Before I get into what you can do to increase biodiversity, here is a bit of a background on what it is and why it is so important.
Celebrating The World Environment Day- Are we?
As we celebrate the World Environment Day globally, it compels me to think how much we have taken things for granted and despite having a good educational background, we are putting our country to shame and degrading the environment at an alarming rate! To add to the misery, the internet is flooded with the articles about traveling as one of the major reasons for the pollution and the questions have been raised about the responsible travel. But rather than prejudicing and playing the blame game, I must confess that even I have contributed to the nuisance of spreading garbage while traveling.
Out of many things that travel has taught me, it has made me reflect on my own habits and be a responsible traveler. Here are few lessons I learned the hard way!
I felt guilty for the first time, during my first solo travel to Kasol. Though the spell bounding views kept me at awe, the ground beneath was laden with chocolate wrappers, plastic bottles, chips packets almost throughout the trail. And I realized that these were the same potential waste I was carrying in my bag. This was enough for me to pledge to not throw them carelessly. What made me even sadder was the heap of garbage besides the pristine Parvati River. It was clear that not only the tourists were at mistake but also many local hotels that must have cleared the huge chunks of waste in this manner. Although I was going to dump my wastes in the dustbin, I knew that these wastes are soon going to make its way in a large heap like this. I immediately concluded that even dumping wastes responsibly is not enough.
The result? I gave up on buying chips packets thereafter and also pledged to carry my own refilling bottle. This saved my money as well.
Moral- We are all aware of the garbage concern but tend to ignore it, maybe because we are habituated and think there are too many things to take into consideration. I remember my childhood days when my family always insisted on carrying a filtered bottle for the long journeys or at least a big portable bottle which could be refilled from safe water sources. Ultimately, it all goes down to habits and the choices we make. We may start from somewhere, however small. Take it one by one. For instance, learn to keep the wrappers in your bag, later think before buying that chips packet, carry your own bottle, etc.
On my trek to Kheerganga , I was talking to the guide about how the place would have looked before the advent of the tourists and his eyes sparkled with joy remembering the old days. “It was truly a heaven!”, he exclaimed. Now, he could have talked on so many things that made the difference. But he immediately pointed out to me the wastes on the trail and said- “The tourists have no sense of the place they are coming to. It is a pilgrim place for us and all they care about is good food, drinks and loud music in a peaceful place like this. Now, you tell me are chips and cold drinks required at such high altitude? But we don’t want to let our hosts down and since you all are our guest, it is our duty to make you’ll happy.”
(No wonder why tourism is banned in Kheerganga. Read the full article here .)
Moral- When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Although we may not help the changing times, we can sure contribute our bit. When traveling in remote places of Himachal, or anywhere for that matter, we must strive to live like locals and savor the local cooked delicacies. This will help maintain the decorum of the place without affecting the local beliefs and culture and also help to curb the plastic pollution.
(To learn more about the practical tips to reduce plastic usage, refer the blog written by Shivya Nath .)
But all these years, I had kept an exception in case of the cigarette butts. I always thought that there’s no way to discard the butts and that it was okay. (I was just being ignorant, actually!) Until I met an Australian guy with whom I traveled throughout Jodhpur and Udaipur. Whenever we smoked a cigarette, he would keep the butt in a separate bag, and I, on the other hand, would toss the cigarette butt on the ground and crush it with the shoe heroically. Never did he feel agitated with my behavior but deep down somewhere I was deeply ashamed of my wrongdoings. Being a foreigner, if he can respect our country and contribute towards cleanliness, then there was no reason for me to not do so! However, I did not give up on my habit completely during that tour (Maybe, because I had not realized the degree of my mistake by then). But I am happy to say that on my following visit to Himachal, every time I smoked, I remembered him and could not help but keep the butts in the side pocket of my bag. (It stunk badly though. Got to stop being so lazy!)
Moral- We must realize that our actions are consciously/subconsciously imitated by others. If we do good, there are people who will learn from this and follow in our footsteps.
The best way we can learn to contribute towards the environment is to express our gratitude towards the places we travel. How wonderful it is to realize that we are still amongst the fortunate few, who have traveled to such exotic places! The places that have now turned into emotions- A happy moment, a childlike glee, a break from the mundane. Such places must find its way into our hearts and I’m sure, this will automatically help us to be more compassionate.
“I care for you, nurture you. Will you not give back the same love to me?”
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Sustainability is understood as the development that meets the present needs without compromising the capacities of future generations, ensuring the balance between economic growth, environmental care and social welfare. In Sustainability for all we promote the awareness and difussion of good practices that allow to combine economic and social development with the preservation of natural resources.
Here's how we can begin to stop using plastic, starting from one of the most common places in the house, our kitchens:
1. Toss the plastic water bottles
We all love our fancy plastic water bottles lined up in the refrigerator however, what we don't understand are the harmful effects that might lead to health issues in the longer run. These plastic bottles contain harmful chemicals that interfere with the hormones in the body. Chemicals in the plastic can leach into the bottle, especially when exposed to heat or become too old to use.
2. Do not use plastic tiffin-boxes and containers
We generally store most of our leftover food in plastic containers, or even use to store masalas in them. On the other hand, we tend to pack lunch for kids in plastic tiffin boxes. Chemicals that are used to make plastic containers harm our body and cause certain health problems.
3. Kick the plastic straws out
One of the main reasons to drop the straw is the presence of many chemicals like polypropylene and bisphenol A, which are harmful for human health. Other than that, while sipping beverages using a straw, the movement of the mouth area may encourage the breakdown of collagen and elasticity more quickly and easily, causing fine lines and wrinkles.
4. Do not buy plastic plates or cutlery
Eating hot food using plastic plates and cutleries is said to increase the risk of kidney stones. The melamine exposures are said to lead to harmful effects in the body. Higher temperatures or more acidic foods may encourage melamine to contaminate food, especially if these are low-quality plates and cutleries.
5. Do not collect plastic bags
Indians have a habit to store plastic bags to use it for other purposes. However, plastic bags, when thrown away are said to disrupt the environment in a serious way. They get into the soil and slowly release toxic chemicals. They eventually break down in to the soil, with the result being that animals consume them and often choke and die. A plastic bag takes about 450 years to recycle.
This World Environment Day 2018, let's pledge to not use anything plastic, starting today. In fact, let's make people aware about the environmental problems and make our surroundings cleaner before it gets too late.
World Environment Day 2015: 8 Environment-Friendly Eating Habits
It is no surprise to see our climate change drastically as we have led ourselves to such degradation. Factors like food wastage and garbage, growing population, intense industrialization, urbanization etc have contributed in raising global warming to alarming levels that threaten our very own existence.
The extreme weather conditions and a record of droughts, storms and heat not only pose a threat to our climate but also to the growth and production of food crops. A latest study revealed that the growing levels of carbon-di-oxide emissions are making staple crops like wheat, rice, soyabeans, maize, jowar etc significantly less nutritious.
All said and done, it's never too late. There's plenty that you can do. To start with, here are 10 environment-friendly eating habits that can be simple solutions to protect our nature -
1. Go organic: Organic foods are those that are grown naturally, free from the use of any chemical or synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Such practises promote a healthy environment for growing crops and raising livestock. Organic farming encourages soil and water conservation and also helps in reducing pollution. You might find them a bit expensive than your regular foods but their positive environmental impact is worth the price! (More: Where to buy organic?)
2. Use leftovers: Food wastage is one of the most serious problems that every society is dealing with. While in certain countries there is starvation and malnutrition due to food scarcity, some lavishly trash billions of food waste. Food waste leads to wasteful use of chemicals and is responsible for the addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Using leftovers for your meals the next day is a simple solution to this problem. Try these creative ways of putting leftovers to use.
3. Grow for yourself: Creating your very own kitchen garden by growing foods at home has more advantages than just balancing your budget. It can not only help reduce carbon footprint but also reduce the use of fossil fuels consumed in transporting those foods. You can be rest assured that the vegetables you grow will be in harmony with the nature. This can also be a great way to use up food waste as compost for growing fruits or vegetables. (More: How to grow spring onions at home)
4. Avoid packaged foods: A lot of plastic and other packaging material is used in packing foods and drinks every year. Shift to non-packed food and drinks by drinking tap water or carrying water, consuming freshly extracted juices and other foods that are freshly made and free from chemicals and preservatives. This will reduce the emissions from the factories where these products are created, processed and packed. (More: Is plastic food packaging dangerous?)
5. Eat seasonal: Eating seasonal is definitely good for your health. Nothing like the freshest produce of the season, they have the highest nutritional value than other foods. Besides this, avoiding foods that are not in the season can help as they are coated with unwanted chemicals or waxes to make them look fresh and attractive. Foods that are not in season are produced artificially for a longer shelf life and lack the fresh flavour.
6. Eat locally: Using locally produced ingredients helps to reduce the energy consumed by foods that have to travel a distance to reach you. Consuming foods that are locally grown can save fuel, reduce carbon emissions and support local agriculture.
7. Eating raw: Going on a raw food diet once in a while can help saw energy that is otherwise used by power appliances like the stove, oven or microwave. Going vegan for a few days would also help. A vegan diet is one where all animal and dairy products like meat, cheese, milk etc are avoided. This will help reduce the resources used to raise such cattle or livestock. (More: Why I choose to stay vegan)
8. Eating less meat: Industrially manufactured meat has the maximum negative impact on the environment than any other foods. Firstly, raising livestock leads to widespread deforestation to create space. A previous study revealed that the chemical fertilizers used to grow feeding crops for the livestock emit a large amount of greenhouse gases which is causing a climate change. If you find it hard to give up on meat completely, you could at least reduce your weekly intake to start with. (More: Should I avoid eating meat?)
World Environment Day 2016: 5 of Your Favourite Foods Predicted to Go Extinct
World Environment Day (WED) is one of the greatest annual events celebrated across the globe on 5th June. The objective of the event is to raise awareness about the leading issue of the sustainability of our environment. It was initiated in 1973 by the United Nations General Assembly and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to address colossal issues like global warming, deforestation and food shortages among many others.
On World Environment Day, let’s awaken our conscience. With every passing year, the environment is getting degraded and rumours are afloat that if this continues, we might not be able to devour our favourite foods in the foreseeable future. Scientists have estimated that over two-thirds of flora and fauna that once inhabited the Earth are now extinct. Studies are now suggesting that certain human-induced environmental changes caused their eradication.
This year’s theme for World Environment Day is ‘Join the race to make the world a better place’. Here are five foods that our future generations could be deprived of, because of changes in the climate and our environment.
1. Honey, where art thou?
Thinking of adding a spoonful of honey to your morning smoothie? Or how about your favourite honey chilli potatoes? Stock up on this liquid gold as a United Nations scientific report warns that 2 out of 5 honeybee populations are on the path to extinction. Simon Potts, Director of the Centre for Agri-Environmental Research in England remarked, “We are in a period of decline and there are going to be increasing consequences.”
3. Sorry, no coffee or wine with that
According to a research conducted by UK’s Royal Botanical Gardens, Arabica and Robusta, which are the main sources of coffee would suffer greatly because of environment changes. It also revealed that the number of locations where Arabica coffee grows would decrease by 85% by 2080. High temperature and extreme conditions are leading to coffee rust and fungus that are invading many plantations. Another problem is depleting water supplies. Severe drought in Brazil, flooding in Honduras and Vietnam running out of water shows that the problems have already started surfacing.
Climate is the most critical aspect for the ripening of fruit to its best quality in the production of wine. It has been seen, that the world's premium wine regions are under threat due to hotter and unpredictable weather like Bordeaux and Rhone regions in France, Tuscany in Italy and Napa Valley in California.
4. The plunging future of seafood
Due to global warming, the temperature of the sea has started to rise, causing a sharp decline of a number of water-species. If the planktons, which are kind of algae and shrimps found in oceans and seas, were to go extinct, it would definitely have an impact on the population of fish and other seafood. UK’s Government Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir Mark Walport declared that “Thanks to man-made CO2, the acidity of oceans has increased by 25% since the dawn of the industrial revolution”. This threatens a whole wide range of ocean species.
Deforestation and Palm Oil
While our favourite foods may be disappearing, the production of those that are not really needed is on a rise. One such product is the Palm Oil, which could be a reason for the loss of our favourite foods.
Palm oil is a type of edible vegetable oil that is derived from the palm fruit. It can grow and flourish wherever heat and rainfall are abundant. Where does the problem lie? Tropical forests are being cleared to make space for palm oil plantations. Thus, carbon dioxide is released in the atmosphere along with other greenhouse gases, elevating global warming. Top fast food brands in the world use palm oil to fry and bake their foods. Hence, they play a key factor in aggravating the situation by being a major buyer of palm oil.According to the World Wildlife Fund, “an area equivalent to the size of 300 football fields of rainforest is cleared each hour to make way for palm oil production. This large-scale deforestation is pushing many species to extinction.” A new industry standard of deforestation-free palm oil has emerged. Sustainable palm oil is an approach to oil palm plantation which aims to produce palm oil without endorsing deforestation. Palm oil is present in a wide range of products which includes: baked goods, confectionery, washing detergents, shampoo and cosmetics.
We know that we should conserve our resources (reduce, reuse and recycle), which helps in lessening the impact of human activities on the natural ecosystem but we rarely do anything about it. This is easy to achieve by making small changes like switching to organic food as chemical fertilizers emit a great amount of greenhouse gases. You should also prefer locally grown food because they do not require transportation which can impact the pollution levels. It has been further seen that the way food is grown, has a greater impact in reducing carbon emissions than the over-all emission as a result of shipping. Do your bit and you’ll still be enjoying your favourites on the dinner table many years from now.
10 Tips for Celebrating World Environment Day - Recipes
April 22, 2010 marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, an event designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the environment. Many businesses may also wish to use the press coverage surrounding the day to launch sustainable and environmentally-friendly initiatives. Here are 10 steps you can take today to reduce your carbon footprint, cut down on waste, and build sustainability into your business's daily operations.
1. Determine Your Energy Consumption
Many companies put the cart before the horse by launching green initiatives without first benchmarking their current energy and raw-material consumption. But before you begin being green, you have to know how ungreen you really are. The EPA's Energy Star program offers a set of tools called Portfolio Manager to help you gauge your energy and water use. The agency has also developed spreadsheets ("energy performance indicators") that allow manufacturers in certain industries to judge their own consumption.
Commissioning, which simply means making sure building systems are running as designed, is a major part of this process because systems degrade over time and must be periodically retested. Such re- (or retro-) commissioning pays huge dividends, according to a recent study sponsired by the Energy Department. A 15 percent reduction in energy use at a cost of just 27 cents per square foot, for a payback time of less than nine months, the report found.
It's easy to print out your e-mails or copy a pdf presentation for 30 people without ever considering the trees and the energy it takes to create those crisp, white sheets. U.S. businesses still use about 21 million tons of paper each year. It doesn't have to be this way. Paperless contracts are real, and their popularity is growing more everyday. Thanks to a law passed by Congress in 2000, any signature made electronically&mdashwhether it's typing your name at the bottom of an e-mail, pushing an "Accept" button, or using an electronic pen and pad&mdashis just as binding as an old-fashioned pen-and-paper John Hancock.
A different tactic for eliminating paper: avoid it for storing or circulating information. Instead, use e-mail to send and review reports, edit materials online, ask that information be sent to you electronically, and save things on a hard drive, CD-ROM or other electronic memory device, according to an Environmental Protection Agency office paper reduction tip sheet. Also, look into software tools that stem printer waste. GreenPrint, a Portland, Oregon company, makes software that analyzes documents sent to the printer for wasteful characteristics like a last page with just a URL or banner ad and stops them from printing out. The enterprise version also provides statistics that companies can use to monitor paper use. FinePrint Software, a San Francisco company, sells a similar product.
Other paper-cutting suggestions:
- Print on both sides of a sheet of paper. On copy machines, set controls to "Default Duplex."
- Shrink image sizes. On copy machines and printers, set controls to print out multiple pages per sheet of paper.
- Eliminate pages set printers so they won't print out test pages when they're turned on.
- Include tag lines on e-mail encouraging people not to print out messages unnecessarily.
- Instead of printing PowerPoint slides to hand out after a presentation, use a website called SlideShare.com to share a PowerPoint or other slideshow. At trade shows, pass out marketing materials on CD or memory sticks instead of printed brochures.
3. Take a Look at Your Windows
In 2007, Anthony Malkin, whose family owns the Empire State Building and whose real-estate investment firm manages it, announced a plan to reduce the skyscraper's energy use 38 percent by 2013, saving $4.4 million in the process. Surprisingly, changing the windows will play a big part in the money savings. Malkin contracted Serious Materials, a manufacturer of sustainable windows and drywall based in Silicon Valley, to make energy-efficient all 6,514 windows&mdashroughly 26,000 panes of glass in the historic building. But Malkin, who had had new, dual-pane windows installed as recently as the 1990s, hated the idea of simply throwing all that glass away. Serious Materials has a process that transforms the old glass into super-insulating glass four times more efficient than most energy-efficient windows.
If changing all the windows isn't an option, an alternative is treating windows with a low-emission glaze that reflects long-wave heat rays in sunlight. As a result, offices stay cool in the summer using less air conditioning. Retrofitting windows with so-called sun shelves or light shelves may help also. Made of perforated metal and painted white, the shelves sit under the top fourth of the windows (like a higher window sill). They can bring up to 50% additional daylight into a space when placed on south-facing windows.
4. Turn Out the Lights
Overhead lighting is the biggest electricity hog in the typical commercial building, and the traditional T12 (1.5-inch) fluorescent tube dates from the 1930s. Moreover, the heat generated by such bulbs taxes the building's cooling system. Replace the lamps with newer high-performance T8 (1-inch) tubes and the fixture's magnetic ballasts (which regulate current to the bulb) with electronic ones, and you will reduce the electric load 42 percent, according to the energy analysts at E Source. New lenses and reflectors on the fixtures will reduce energy consumption 71 percent. Daylight dimming controls and occupancy sensors reduce the load 83 percent and have a payback of just 3.3 years. Another tip: consider installing light sensors overhead that will automatically turn the lights on and off based on the amount of sunlight streaming in from windows or the amount of movement in a particular area.
Covering a building's roof with plants can reduce storm water runoff and keep a building cooler. But green roofs are difficult to install, especially on existing buildings that weren't designed to support the extra weight of watered plants. So do your homework before painting your thumb green.
Companies such as the Barthelmes Manufacturing Company based in Rochester, New York, installs edible walls &mdash metal panels filled with soil and seeds and hung vertically. This trend in green roof technology adds an edible wall of thick vegetation on the outside of buildings to provide insulation and reduce heating and electricity costs. They have the added benefit of producing fruit, vegetables and herbs, in comparison to green roofs.
6. Use Organic Paint and Other Green Design Materials
When decorating your offices, consider using recycled materials in places you may not have thought it was possible. Chuck Richards of the Sunset Athletic Club in Portland, Oregon, painted his walls with a product from MetroPaint, a regional government program in Oregon that recycles leftover latex paint. Organic paint is another good option. Companies such as AFM, BioShield, and Dunn-Edwards create products that is slightly more expensive than conventional latex-based paint, and it is biodegradable and emits fewer noxious fumes.
You can also look into green floors. Carpet tiles from companies such as Interface and Avalon are made from recycled materials and they are modular, so when one square area becomes worn, you can replace it without tearing up the entire carpet. Bamboo mats and formaldehyde-free wool carpets are also available at reasonable prices.
Lastly, consider purchasing green office furniture. Companies such as Herman Miller, Baltix, and Formway offer durable products made from recycled or recyclable materials. Baltix's Ecobuzz workstations, for example, are nontoxic and made from sunflower hulls, soybeans, and wheat straw.
7. Purchase Energy Efficient Equipment
Office equipment has been for years a source of pollution and waste, producing tons of non-recyclable plastics, dangerous chemicals, and massive amounts of non-biodegradable components. In addition, inefficient office equipment does not just suck more electricity like lighting, it also warms the interior space. Luckily, there's an abundance of ways to green your office equipment:
- Purchase equipment with low content of dangerous chemicals. Computer hardware tends to contain a lot of toxic substances, and while most manufacturers are pledging to reduce or eliminate pollutants, some are doing better than others. Toxic elements that may be contained in computing equipment include lead, mercury, nickel, cadmium, arsenic, cobalt, zinc, germanium, as well as aluminum, copper, and titanium. When equipment is disposed in a landfill, its toxic elements begin to seep into the ground and may percolate into waterways, spreading into the ecosystem. Choosing equipment built with the least amount of pollutants is one of the keys to limit this growing damage.
- Use rechargeable batteries. Disposable batteries still have a huge amount of pollutants such as mercury, lead, cadmium, chromium, and silver. Some recycling programs are now in place to properly dispose of batteries, but the sheer quantity used makes it difficult to be effective. Use "nickel metal hydride" rechargeable batteries where possible instead. They contain almost no toxic heavy metals and can be easily disposed at the end of their life. Chargers also have become inexpensive and small. Some batteries can even plug directly into a computer USB port to recharge.
- Use small solar panels to recharge your phone, iPod, or other small electronics. Lots of smart and small solar chargers are now available. They save you money and can charge your equipment on the road with no dependency on electric outlets.
- Purchase energy efficient equipment. The U.S. government has established a certification program for energy efficient electronics called "Energy Star." Equipment that meets the low energy consumption requirements of for the certification can display the "Energy Star" logo.
- Use a laptop instead of a desktop computer. Laptops are much more energy efficient and use fewer materials for their production than desktops. Not to mention that they end up increasing your productivity and workday flexibility allowing you to work where you need and when you need &ndash making telecommuting a few days per week a much more viable option, helping you save gas and commute time.
- Enable energy management policies on your computer. Modern desktop PCs use a lot of electricity, the equivalent of four to seven traditional 60W light bulbs. To reduce energy waste and make your utility bill smaller, place computers in "hibernate" mode when you leave the office. You can also set your computer power policy to make it go on stand-by (or sleep mode) after a few minutes of inactivity. The computer will resume almost instantly, but while you are at lunch or in a meeting, your PC will use close to no power.
- Recycle your old equipment. If you have old, but still functional equipment that you are not using, donate it to a school or to programs like Goodwill. You can get a tax deduction, extend the life of the equipment and benefit a needy organization. For non-functioning equipment you can rely upon a growing number of recycling centers. You can find your local options at Earth911. It is also very important to recycle your printer cartridges, considering how often they are replaced. Most office supply stores have drop boxes for used ones and some offer refilling programs for both laser and inkjet models, allowing substantially cutting on printing costs while helping the environment.
8. Encourage Carpooling or Alternatives to Driving
Offer transit passes to employees who take the bus or subway and bike racks for cyclists. Let workers telecommute when it's not essential that they be in the office. Clif Bar founder Gary Erickson launched a Cool Commute program at his company, which awards $5,000 to employees who buy biodiesel or hybrid vehicles. The program also awards points--redeemable for transit vouchers or gift cards--to Clif Bar employees who carpool, walk, bike, or take public transportation to work. The program has created great press coverage. More important, it inspires employees to experience environmental sustainability on a personal level.
Alaska Biological Research (ABR), near Fairbanks, started a similar program. Employee car use increases at ABR during Alaska's harsh winters, so the company offers its incentive program from November through March. About half of ABR's 22 employees participate. Forty percent of those carpool, earning $1.50 a day each for doing so. Those who use no cars at all earn $3 a day. Some employees walk, a few diehard athletes bicycle all winter, and one employee skis six miles each way, mushing two dogs in front of him. The program costs ABR only about $645 each winter. (Many employees waive the reimbursement.) By offering the incentive, the $2.5-million company has avoided a costly expansion of its parking lot and saves about $300 each winter in reduced use of the company-sponsored plug-in car heaters in the lot. Plus, employees save hundreds of gallons of gas each year, and for CEO Bob Ritchie, that's the real payoff.
9. Allow Employees to Telecommute
Telecommuting is spreading like wild fire through small businesses around the country. A study conducted last year by Fort Lauderdale-based Citrix found nearly a fourth of American workers and 41 percent of small-business owners regularly work remotely. In the same survey, business owners considered telecommuting a more significant employee perk than stock options or workplace childcare. When David Nilssen went searching for ways to cut down on office space at his Bellevue, Washington, financial services company, Guidant Financial Group, he decided to send some of his 110 employees home. The company's 15-person Web publishing team works remotely, bringing the total number of telecommuters at the company to 20. Nilssen will supply these employees with laptops and Internet connections -- costs he would incur even if they worked in the office. Guidant has also begun testing out four-day, 40-hour weeks for some administrative employees. The workers will have rotating schedules and share desks to cut back on the need for space.
Kate Lister of the Telework Research Network, a San Diego-based research firm, points out that if 40 percent of the work force worked remotely just half the time, that there would be $200 billion in productivity gains by American companies, $190 billion in savings from reduced real estate expenses, electricity bills, absenteeism, and employee turnover, 100 hours saved per person not spent commuting, 50 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions cut, 276 million barrels of oil saved, or roughly 32 percent of oil imports from the Middle East, and $700 billion total estimated savings to American businesses, all annually.
10. Cash in on Government Incentives
In the spirit of saving the best for last, it doesn't hurt to make a little money on your path to sustainability. Recent stimulus bills created and extended tax incentives for green initiatives. But the Feds aren't alone in attempting to green the economy. In some states, the combined incentives can defray 80 percent of the initial cost of installing rooftop solar panels.
7. Geothermal Energy Continues to Grow
In 2015, the total global capacity for geothermal energy use grew by four percent. Although this may not sound like an overwhelming number, the use of this technology is becoming more apparent.
In reality, geothermal energy production is more stable than that of solar or wind. It creates more of a load for the grid because it is a constant source rather than intermittent. For instance, traditional solar is only at its peak during certain times of the day. Geothermal is at its peak 24/7.
Goethermal energy production is one of the most efficient for costs and load. In fact, it is one of the lowest-cost, cleanest and with greater capacity for power than other common forms of energy production. Geothermal energy even has a higher capacity for power than advanced nuclear plants. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the least used in the United States.
World Environment Day 2017: Connecting People to Nature
The United Nations’ World Environment Day (WED) is a day dedicated to focusing attention and taking positive action on issues related to the environment. The theme is “Connecting People to Nature,” and is meant to encourage people around the world to think about their connection to nature—including food and agriculture.
“World Environment Day is the day the planet celebrates our collective love of and reliance on nature. It helps encourage action to protect our environment and fosters a deeper appreciation of our connection to the natural world. With the major environmental challenges we face, we need environmental leadership more than ever,” said Erik Solheim, Head of U.N. Environment.
Nature’s functions in a healthy and sustainable food system—cleaning water, controlling agricultural pests, pollinating and dispersing the world plants—are an integral part of everyday work for billions of farmers around the world. These farmers depend on fertile soil, natural water supplies, and weather conditions to grow crops and raise livestock.
Through our everyday food choices, we can nourish both people and the planet. For example, we can use the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation’s Double Food and Environment Pyramid as a guide of what’s healthy for our bodies and the environment.
This year’s WED theme invites people all over the world to think about their connection to nature and how intimately we all depend on it. Food Tank is highlighting 10 WED events and initiatives taking place around the world to promote environmental wellness.
1. Celebrating biodiversity with Haikus (New York, USA)
The U.N. Development Program (UNDP) has compiled a collection of 82 haiku poems that celebrate the diversity of life on Earth. Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry that takes nature as its focus, centered around a moment in daily life. Contributed by more than 60 friends, family, and colleagues from UNDP and partners, the publication will be presented at UNDP offices on WED . The publication is also available for free download at the UNDP website.
2. Exhibition: “Butterflies in Aragon” (Zaragoza, Spain)
This exhibition highlights both the beauty of butterfly and moth species found in Aragon, Spain, and the increasing risks that these species and other pollinators currently face. Highlighting the vulnerability of numerous species to the effects of climate change, the exhibition informs visitors of citizen and science efforts to contribute to their conservation.
3. Explore your habitat (worldwide)
U.N. Environment and iNaturalist have partnered to help build the world’s largest nature database. They’re asking people to get out this WED and record the wonders of biodiversity in their own backyards, to help discover and keep track of precious plants and wildlife. By downloading the iNaturalist app, people can upload their observations to share with the iNaturalist community to help catalogue biological diversity.
4. Free national park visits (Canada)
As host country for this year’s WED and as part of the country’s 150th Anniversary celebrations, the Canadian government is offering free entry to its national parks, migratory bird sanctuaries, and marine conservation areas. People can also learn about local conservation initiatives and the Ecological Gifts Program, which allows Canadians with ecologically sensitive land to protect nature.
5. King’s Cross World Environment Day Event (London, United Kingdom)
A range of activities are taking place for WED at Pancras Square in Kings Cross, London. London Wildlife Trust will be giving tours of Camley Street Natural Park. The University of the Arts London has developed the Deep Time Walk app, taking participants on a 4.6km journey of the Earth’s history where each meter represents 1 million years. Tours of Two Pancras Square, one of the U.K.’s most environmentally friendly office buildings, are also available for those interested in sustainable design.
6. Litterati – A Global Cleanup (worldwide)
The Litterati is a global community striving to eradicate litter one piece at a time. By downloading an app, users can identify, collect, and geotag the world’s litter, tracking their impact and helping to identify which brands and products are found in specific locations. The Litterati community has mapped and picked up 250,000-plus pieces in 100-plus countries, adding about 5,000 pieces each week.
7. Screening: Racing Extinction (Texas, USA)
To celebrate WED, a free-to-the-public film screening of Racing Extinction is being held at Gilruth Conference Center, Houston, Texas. In Racing Extinction, Oscar-winner Louie Psihoyos assembles a team of artists and activists intent on showing the world never-before-seen images that expose issues of endangered species and mass extinction. Stacy Shutts, Lead for Sustainability at the Johnson Space Center, and Lisa Lin with Rice University will participate in a panel discussion following the film.
8. Web Art Garden (worldwide)
Web Art Garden is an international network of people interested in art, culture, and environmental issues who share experiences from their own ecology through artistic activity. This may include performance, dance, singing, writing, lecture, meditation, and more. Events will be created throughout the world on World Environment Day and shared through the UNEP photo album.
9. World Environment Day Festival (Sunshine Coast, Australia)
Established in 1979 by the Sunshine Coast Environment Council (SCEC), the World Environment Day Festival in Queensland, Australia, hosts a range of activities to inspire an ecologically responsible lifestyle and connect the community. The festival has grown into the region’s biggest environmental event with workshops, art installations, food stalls, and more than forty environment and community groups to connect with and learn from.
10. YogiWalkie (Fégréac, France)
The YogiWalkie is a two-hour hike that combines the techniques of yoga with sensory immersion in nature. Held on June 7 , the course weaves through rich forest, waterways, and marshes, highlighting the region’s flora and fauna. Emphasizing local biodiversity, the YogieWalkie aims to promote conservation efforts in the region.