9 Reasons to Switch to Renewable Energy

9 Reasons to Switch to Renewable Energy

Reasons to Switch to Renewable Energy:

1. Perform an energy audit to increasing the efficiency of your home.  You could cut your energy bill in half and save some big-time bucks!

One of the biggest uses of electricity is devoted to heating and cooling your home. This is because most homes look like a block of swiss cheese, meaning that the home has a ton of tiny holes that let all of the A/C out.

By downloading the Free Home Energy Audit guide, you can perform a quick evaluation to see how badly your home is leaking. Chances are you are wasting a lot of money heating and cooling a home that isn’t retaining the A/C.

Shockingly, 62% of electricity is generated through the burning of coal and fossil fuels. 

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2. Protect yourself from devastating rises in fuel cost. Fossil Fuels are a limited resource. As the supply dwindles and the population continues to grow, energy prices will increase. Simply put, this is a traditional supply and demand curve equation.

3. Little to no cost to making the switch. Currently, many renewable technologies and fuels are already cost-competitive with conventional fuels.

This means that there are ways to making the switch now, with little to no cost to you! As renewable technologies develop, the economies of scale will increase.  Overall, an increase in electricity production will reduce the cost to purchase it from utility companies. 

4. Increased independence from energy monopolies. Moreover, the benefit of renewable energy is that the creation of electricity comes from a decentralized power source. Obviously, no one company has the rights to the sun’s energy. Solar energy can be produced on an individual scale, which liberates you from the tyranny of energy monopolies. 

5. Control over your own power generation. Renewable energy is often actively lobbied against by powerful fossil fuel industry leaders. In essence, lobbyists advocate for the continued use of oil and coal to prevent the liberation of the average energy user. Energy monopolies want to secure their control over electricity prices.

Positive Political Reasons Switching to Renewable Energy:

6. Increase in national security. A decentralized energy system would make our country less vulnerable to sabotage or attack. In the event of an attack on a power plant, swaths of homes would be left without electricity. Not to mention, food in grocery stores myy spoil.

7. Producing your own energy. This gives you the ability to free yourself from the political whims of legislators and become your own energy plant manager.  In essence, this means that any political power changes or increases in energy costs will not affect your budget! 

8. Other countries are much further ahead of the US. Germany, Great Britain, and the Netherlands are making tremendous efforts to tap into renewable energy resources. In the past, the US had always been at the forefront of leading industries but times are changing.

The United States is lagging far behind other countries with similar technological capabilities. America has long been the technological over the past 200 years, but the tides are changing. As we continue to hold on to out-dated fossil fuel technologies, we lag further behind other leading nations.

Renewable Energy is Quite Predictable:

9. The amount of renewable energy available in a given year is quite predictable. While renewable energy resources such as wind and solar may not be available 24 hours a day, the overall energy capture in a given year is very similar. The use of battery storage systems will help stockpile and save any energy surpluses for later use.

Challenges and Ways to Over Come Them:

1. Energy storage systems should be a part of the long-term growth plan of our country. In a prior blog, I discuss how one of the major challenges to switching to renewable technology is the retrofitting of our vast infrastructure system (homes, office/public buildings, and transit).

2. Another challenge that we are facing is that there are not enough experts and local suppliers of renewable energy technologies.

3. Colleges should increase the number of classes they offer in the area of renewable technology.  Colleges can also provide instruction in the areas of eco-engineering, materials development, and green architecture.

4. Converting to a renewable energy based economy will need to be done on a house-by-house basis. Of course, energy independence is more easily attained by those building brand new homes. But, the vast majority of homes that exist in the world will need to be retrofitted to become more efficient.

The biggest thing that a homeowner can do to become energy efficient is to perform a home energy audit:

The transition to a renewable energy society will require the efforts of millions of informed homeowners. This is because homes are owned by individuals and not one large entity that can enact sustainability across the board.

Above all, individuals can choose to make a significant impact and change their habits quickly. You do not need to seek permission from a board of directors or stockholders to change your buying/living habits.

Even though it may be a task to get millions of people to change their daily habits, social movements are the basis of massive change.

With this in mind, you can make the biggest impact in two forms. First, reducing your energy consumption (download the home energy audit guide). Second, increasing your energy production.

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Following the Leader:

California has just become the first state to require all new homes to have solar power. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, three other states have also considered legislation requiring that new buildings be solar-ready. The three states considering going green are New Jersey, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.,

California has long been the leader in the transition toward an energy independent society. Its laws require that at least 50% of the state’s electricity come from noncarbon-producing sources by 2030.

In conclusion, we cannot afford to be nearsighted. We must use our voices and dollars in ways that promote sustainability.

An energy independent individual will:

  • Save money on their energy bill
  • Protect themselves from rising energy costs
  • Support an energy independent nation
  • Save the environment!

Many Birds with the Same Stone:

In sum, there aren’t many chances in life where we get to take advantage of so many benefits by making one change. This is one of those opportunities, and you should get excited about to hopping on the bandwagon.

The switch is inevitable, but how long we take to make the switch can greatly impact what the future will look like. The sooner you act, the faster you can start saving!!

Take advantage of this opportunity to save money, live a healthier quality of life, and be a part of a powerful movement!

Can you think of any other ways that switching to a renewable energy society can help you save money? If so, comment below!

 

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How to Move from a Fossil Fuel Economy to a Renewable Energy Society!

How to Move from a Fossil Fuel Economy to a Renewable Energy Society!

Renewable energy is clean, affordable, and reliable. The sun, plants, soil, water, and wind are all forms of renewable energy resources. Currently, we are in the middle of a shift from the fossil fuel era into the renewable energy resource era.

Although there are many people doubting that this shift can happen, it is coming and it is inevitable. Like any other change, the shift may be a little uncomfortable. The human tendency is to like routine, and changing that routine can cause some friction.

To those who would say that the switch away from oil and coal is impossible, I would point back to a time in history.  In the 19th and 20th century, whale oil was the main source of energy.

Today, it seems almost silly to think that we killed such beautiful creatures to use their fat for light. Not too long into our future, we will one day think it was silly that we once fought wars to win rights over oil.

This is especially true since there are literally trillions of photons hitting the earth every day with enough energy to power the world!!! Oil exploration is devastating to the environment. Not to mention how terrible it is for our health to breathe in all of the noxious sulfur and nitrogen oxides. 

The Challenge:

Over the last several hundred years, we have built up an infrastructure that is heavily reliant on fossil fuel. Yes, it is going to take private industry (with deep pockets) to make large-scale changes.

But, it is also going to take millions of individual homeowners to retrofit and update their systems to make a holistic impact.

Large industry changes can only tackle half of the battle. Individual and community awareness is critical to making the shift toward a more sustainable future.

2015 study (in the Journal of Industrial Ecology)  looked at the environmental impact from a household perspective.

The analysis found that household consumers are responsible for more than 60% of the globe’s greenhouse gas emissions, and up to 80% of the world’s land, material and water use. 

The great news is that people like you and your family can make a huge impact!

According to United Nations, the earth’s population could reach 9.7 billion people by 2050, and over 11 billion by 2100. Every person on this planet needs to make the renewable energy and sustainable shift if we are all going to survive.

Fossil Fuel: A Brief History and Background

Coal owes its origins to plants that grew 250 to 350 million years ago. While oil and natural gases are derived from ancient aquatic algae.

Many energy experts believe that the global oil production will peak soon, or has already peaked. This is called the Hubbert peak theory.

The Effects of Fossil Fuels

In a prior blog, I mention how oil, natural gas, and coal are the main components (62%) to making electricity.

Currently, coal is the dirtiest of all the fossil fuels and produces the most sulfur and nitrogen oxides. These chemicals react with water particles in the atmosphere and create acid rain. Ohhh no!!!

Health Concerns:

The combustion of fossil fuel’s releases millions of tons of particles that cause respiratory damage. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 13 people have asthma. To put this into perspective, this accounts for approximately 25 million Americans.

Additionally, around 3.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with emphysema and 11.2 million U.S. adults have been estimated to have COPD.

The Effect on Food and Water:

As rain clears the skies of the millions of toxic particles, it carries the ash into the soil which slowly seeps into our groundwater.

Both the soil and water becomes contaminated and infiltrates the food production system. As plants grow they soak up nutrients from the soil and water, which we then consume.

The Longer Fossil Fuels are Around the More Harm it Will Cause:

The consumption of toxic particles through our water and food web has a powerful negative bioaccumulation effect.  It is especially harmful to breastfeeding mothers and young children.

Clean Coal Energy:

This concept is an oxymoronic phrase. Clean “oil and coal” are just marketing ploys to make a dirty industry appear more environmentally acceptable. 

Many companies engage in “greenwashing”. This is when their PR and marketing teams spend millions of dollars advertising an image to “clean and green” their image.

The Problem with Clean Coal:

Some companies install smokestack scrubbers to clean up the toxic slurry that would otherwise billow out into the air. This toxic waste is transported to and ends up in a landfill, where the components slowly leach into the soil and groundwater.

Additionally, Smokestack scrubbing requires large amounts of electricity and lowers the net overall energy output. This means that the process is much less efficient.

No matter how you look at the situation, if we burn coal or fossil fuels we are releasing pollutants into our environment. We are taking these pollutants that were once trapped deep in the ground, and releasing them into the environment. In sum, we end up ingesting many of these toxins through our water, air, and food sources. 

Key Point Take Away:

Toxic by-product pollutants that come from fossil fuels are going to be released and enter the earth’s ecosystems in one form or another.

Finding a Solution:

The switch to a renewable energy society must be confronted head-on by homeowners, private industry, and the government.

You do not need to dramatically change your lifestyle to make a huge impact and reduce your energy needs. Making small changes here and there can have a significant impact over time. There are 2 ways to our meet our energy needs 1) reduce the amount we consume and 2) increase the amount of energy we produce.

One way, to reduce the amount of energy that we consume, is to retrofit our homes so that they become more efficient!

The average American household spends approximately 1/3 of their utility bill on heating and cooling.

Ways to Green Your Home: Increasing its Efficiency

Calking-Seal up cracks around the windows, doors, and electrical outlets.

Insulation– Walls and ceilings (attic).

Solar panels -Retrofit the roof of your home by adding passive solar panels.

Windows – add windows to the south side of your home to let low angel winter sun in. Does your home have double or triple pane glass?

Tip– On a windy day hold an incense next to each window. If the smoke rises directly up then no wind is passing through the cracks between the window and the wall. If the smoke blows sideways, then wind is getting through the window cracks.

***Make sure all the cracks have been sealed around the house. The goal is to make the house air tight!!!

Why Renewable Energy Resources are so Awesome!!!

One of the best things about renewable energy resources is that they are available for the indefinite future!

Even better, the amount of renewable energy is often predictable in most parts of the world. This means that there is a reliable amount of renewable energy resources each year.

Another big advantage of renewable energy is that the fuel is free, and it is not under the control of oil cartels, wealthy multinational corporations, foreign nations, or alliances (such as OPEC).

Although there is an upfront cost to tap into these renewable energy resources, no one person has control over the price of the renewable fuels. Once you have paid for the set-up cost, the energy is free and all you must do is maintain the equipment.

Additionally, by becoming energy independent you can protect yourself against rising fuel prices. The cost of electricity has increased by five cents per year over the past 35 years.

Switching to renewable energy will allow you to become more financially independent and live in a healthier environment!

Air pollution has become a major health concern in the United States and around the world. Please feel free to comment regarding any other benefits that could be attained by switching to renewable energy resources (like a reduction in insurance costs due to a healthier society etc).

 

 

 

Photo credit green planet 

Photo credit energy saver

 

 

How Patagonia Built Their Distribution Center to Minimize Pollution!!!

How Patagonia Built Their Distribution Center to Minimize Pollution!!!

Patagonia steps up their sustainability pledge by building a new distribution center that minimizes pollution! The company has long been known for their proactive stance on saving the environment. Their newest building goes above and beyond to take measure that care for the environment. Careful thought and planning went into the building process, as well as its maintenance plan.

Patagonia consistently focuses on the materials they use in their products and buildings. From their warehouses,  manufacturing, and distribution centers, to keeping a close eye on their supply chains. Patagonia has successfully branded itself as a pro-environment and CSR company!!! 

Patagonia has an entire website called “Footprint Chronicles” that details each step of its manufacturing process. Furthermore, the company is committed to purchasing Fair Trade Certified products, and focus on supporting the people who make their products.

Patagonia’s Mission Statement:

Build the best product, do no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis

Recently, Patagonia built a distribution center in the Reno Tahoe area that meets the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC)  LEED-certified standards. Of course, in order to obtain this certification, the Patagonia distribution center had to meet many strict criteria.

The specific areas include:

  • Energy savings
  • Water efficiency
  • CO2 emissions reduction
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts

In total, Patagonia’s goal was to construct a sustainable and green building because it is adjacent to the Truckee River. The water from this river is some of the purest in the world. 

This is because the water comes from Lake Tahoe, which is an alpine lake that is filled by snowmelt. Lake Tahoe is the largest freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevadas and is home to a variety of wild animals. Some of its inhabitants include black bears and bald eagles.

With this in mind, an increase in Patagonia’s resource efficiency and reduction of environmental impact was critically important.  

In addition to including locally sourced and non-polluting materials, the company also created provisions to benefit the local wildlife.

2018-04-21 15.27.26

How Patagonia Minimized Pollution:

The Exterior of the Building:

  1. Stone pavers instead of asphalt–  Pavers help to reduce vehicle pollution by managing the stormwater runoff. Any oil or pollution that is left behind by cars drain into the dirt, which gets stuck in sand traps below the parking lot.
  2. Landscape using native plants– Local plants use less water and consume fewer fertilizers.
  3. Paint the exterior of the building using a light color pallet– Light colors reflect sunlight and decrease heat retention. Additionally, there is less of a need to cool the building during the summer months.
  4. Construct the building using locally sourced materials– Lastly, locally sourcing materials support the regional economy. More importantly, local materials do not need to travel large distances, which means a reduction in transportation fuel. Correspondingly, fewer miles creates less pollution.

The Interior of the Building:

  1. Patagonia recycles or salvages 75% percent of the construction waste– the construction process is one of the largest producers of waste. According to Earth911, the U.S. alone produces approximately 251 million tons of consumer solid waste annually. Unfortunately, less than a third of that goes to recycling centers. As much as 40 percent of this waste comes from construction projects.
  2. Little to no materials that contain VOC ingredients– Many paint products still contain harmful chemicals. Although lead paint is no longer in production, there are still quite a few toxic chemicals contained in paint formulas. As paint ages, it tends to chip and leach chemicals into the environment.
  3. Dimmed exterior lighting– Lastly, Patagonia uses dim lighting to limit light pollution. This benefits the local wildlife. Most notably, it is important for the many bird species in the area because light disturbs their sleep patterns.

Continued Processes:

  1. Nontoxic products- Furthermore, the company continues its pledge (past just the construction phase) by cleaning and maintaining the center with earth-friendly products.
  2. Recycle product-packing materials– As we all know, plastic is one of the harmful substances to our planet. Correspondingly, all plastic materials that are used at Patagonia are bundled together and sold to a company that repurposes it. The recycling company uses the plastic to build decks and patio furniture. Luckily, this gives the plastic a second life.
  3. Recycle and composts most of its waste– Fortunately, this is an action that many companies and households can take part in. Food waste can be composted and used to fertilize gardens! Why buy fertilizers that are composed of chemicals, when you can naturally fertilize your garden for free.

The new Patagonia distribution center is a model building for an environmentally sensitive structure. With this said, Patagonia is a great example of how a company can do the right thing, that makes good business sense. 

Patagonia a CSR Company:

Patagonia is a great example of a company that uses its supply and value chains to make an impact. Businesses can go beyond just donating money to charities to make a difference.

Patagonia uses CSR (corporate social responsibility) as a way to differentiate themselves from the many other clothing companies out there. Moreover, they see CSR as a good management practice and it has become a source of competitive advantage.

At first glance, it might seem that engaging in CSR might burden a company’s bottom line. But in fact, the opposite seems to be true. There are a number of studies that show that companies who engage in corporate social responsibility actually flourish.

After all, companies are made up of individuals within a community. Businesses can have a large impact on society, and it can be a great force for good. Companies should prioritize making meaningful changes with their actions.

Fortunately, there are many paths a company can take to approach and engage in CSR. There is no one-size-fits-all standard or best approach to making a positive impact. CSR companies go above and beyond to put its people and the planet first. Typically, the community sees this effort and rewards the firm with an increase in sales.

The Triple Bottom Line:

Companies should focus on their triple bottom line. That is their economic, social, and environmental performance. More now than ever, customers and shareholders are concerned with more than just profits.  It has become an expectation that businesses look out for our society.

Overall, the reduction of waste and use of resources benefits the firm because it reduces the cost of inputs. Yet another perk is that a reduction in expenses increases the profitability and efficiency of the business.

How can your company engage in CSR? Managers can select a few issues that intersect within its business niche. With that said, companies should focus on areas with an overlap between its goals and a topic that the local community is struggling with.

Moreover, companies should look for ways to incorporate social entrepreneurship and social corporate responsibility with a company’s economic or regulatory interests. In sum, the initiative will have longevity because it is in the company and the community’s best interest.

 

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Check Out Patagonia’s Green Distribution Center:

 

My Suggestions and Opportunities to Improve:

It is fantastic that Patagonia recycles many of their synthetic products (such as polyester). But many synthetic materials are made of plastic which is derived from oil.

Not to mention, when we wash synthetic materials small plastic particles leach out into the water. This water ends up in the ocean, and the fish we eat digest these particles. 

To reduce the use of these synthetic materials, Patagonia could use non-oil derived materials. Another solution is that the company could create a division that explores how to produce new kinds of durable materials. These materials would be formed from natural compounds or ones that can biodegrade.

Although synthetic materials have benefits such as heat retention and durability. Patagonia could hire a group of product/material engineers to develop strong and durable compounds. This way the company is not sacrificing quality for environmental sustainability.

Energy Consumption Versus Energy Creation:

Despite the fact that the company has made many efforts to use renewable and recyclable building materials, they did not implement any renewable energy methods of creating/producing electricity.

This means that they are pulling 100% of their electricity needs from the grid. In a prior blog post, I talked about how the grid derives the majority of its electricity from fossil fuels and coal.

One way to improve this awesome green building is to install solar panels and wind turbines. In other words, this would increase the structure’s energy independent or at least supplement the energy it uses from the grid.

The Reno Tahoe area has an abundance of renewable energy that just needs to be tapped into. The city receives approximately 300 days of sun per year and is located in a very windy valley.

Average sun.PNG

In sum, there are many ways to increase energy efficiency. We can integrate simple daily habits that will help us live in greater harmony with the environment. Are there any suggestion that you know of that could make this building better? If so, please comment below!

 

Photo Credit Average Daylight 

What is a 529 College Savings Plan?

What is a 529 College Savings Plan?

This article explains how to use a tax-advantaged 529 College Savings Plan. According to the College Board and Investopia, the average annual in-state tuition at a public four-year university tops $20,000. Not to mention, that the cost climbs to more than $45,000 per year at a four-year private university.

In other words, the average student now graduates with approximately $30,000 in student debt. It is estimated that around 70 % of graduates leave college with some level of student debt. The Federal Reserve has said that Americans now owe more than $1.4 trillion in student loans. In short, these numbers are jaw dropping.

What is a 529 Plan

 

Research from Citizens Financial Group suggests that 60% of student-debt-borrowers expect to pay off their loans in their 40’s.  Furthermore, the research by individual states support these findings. 

One study finds that it takes the average graduate of a Wisconsin university 19.7 years to pay off a bachelor’s degree. Moreover, it will take 23 years to pay off a graduate degree. One question we need to ask ourselves is, “aren’t we going to school to earn more?”.

Why is it that the cost of an education now puts people into such large amounts of debt? In retrospect, $30,000 is enough for a down payment on a house in many parts of the country.

Of course, education is important. This is why it is critical to save for college.

What is a 529 plan?

529 plan . Federal income tax rate

It is a tax-advantaged savings plan that is specifically used for future college or continuing education costs. Earnings from a 529 plan are exempt from federal income taxes.

Federal income taxes are calculated based on a percentage of your yearly income. Typically, federal income taxes can range from 10%-37%.

Keeping as much of your hard earned money as possible is critical! Why give money away to the government, when it can go into a savings account?!?

 

What is Covered Under a 529 Plan?

  • Colleges
  • Universities
  • Vocational schools
  • Other post-secondary educational institutions

There are Two Types of 529 Plans

  1. Prepaid Tuition Plans: This kind of account allows the college saver or account holder to purchase credits with participating universities. Typically, public and in-state colleges participate in these programs. This savings plan allows you to use the credits for future tuition and mandatory fees. Another benefit is that you get to purchase the credits based on the cost at current prices.
  2. College Savings Plans: This savings plan is an investment account that is used for higher education expenses. In this case, the money can be used for tuition, mandatory fees, and room and board. Typically, withdrawals from the college savings account can be used at any college or university. Another benefit is that the funds in the account can be invested in a wide range of portfolio options. This including various mutual and exchange-traded funds (ETF).

***Note: The prepaid tuition plan does not cover future room and board costs.

 

How Does Investing in a 529 Plan Affect Federal and State Income Taxes? 

Contributions: Yet another benefit is that many states offer tax benefits for contributions to a 529 plan. These benefits may include deducting contributions from state income taxes or matching grants. Accordingly, be sure to research the state that you are living in, and what option benefits they have for the 529 plans.

Withdrawals: If 529 account withdrawals are not used for qualified higher education expenses, they will be subject to taxes and a penalty. If you took state and federal income tax deductions, then you will be required to pay taxes on those funds. Additionally, you will be hit with a 10% federal tax penalty on the earnings.*** Always consult a tax adviser, as I am not a CPA**

What Expenses Can and Can Not Be Paid for by a 529 Plan?

According to the IRS, eligible expenses include:

  • Desktop computers
  • Laptops
  • Any device controlled by the computer (such as a printer).
  • Internet service 
  • Textbooks

Unfortunately, any additional study material that is not included on the syllabus may not be covered.

The student should keep a copy of the syllabus with their textbook receipts in a file labeled “529 plan expenses”. Of course, the student should get in the habit of maintaining good records.

Keeping good financial records is a great life skill and will help greatly should the IRS come knocking.

Do not use the funds for lifestyle expenses. Examples of lifestyle expense are furniture for an apartment (big screen TV, couch, sofa or kitchen table) and cell phone bills. None of these expenses are deemed as necessary to attend college.

***Remember: Keep separate receipts for money spent by a 529 distribution. i.e don’t buy school T-shirts or other school team gear from the bookstore on the same receipt.

Does Investing in a 529 Plan Impact Financial Aid Eligibility?

Yes, investing in a 529 plan could impact a student’s eligibility to receive need-based financial aid. It is generally a better idea to plan for the future, than to hope that the government will be able to assist you through college.

Financial aid plans are subject to change, meaning that you could qualify one year but not the next. Most aid programs are also dependent on obtaining a certain GPA minimum, and if the student dips below the required minimum they will lose their financial aid package.

Options for Withdrawing Money From a 529 Plan:

There are three distribution options available:

  1. Send a Check Straight to the School
  2. Sending a Check to Yourself – (typically this is the parent of the college attendee)
  3. Sending a Check to Your Beneficiary (the student)

529 plan loan balance

Planning is an important part of preparing for the future. The sooner you start, the more time you will have to save for college. If you decide to go with the savings plan, the sooner you start saving and investing the more time the money will have to compound! If there is a topic you are interested in knowing more about, let me know by commenting below!

 

Photo credit

Federal income tax brackets

Borrowers by age group

Loan amount  by age group

10 Routes to Green Living

10 Routes to Green Living

There are many ways to go green, reduce your carbon footprint, and increase your environmental impact awareness. Today, I am going to address 10 ways to increase your green living practices!

10 ways to Green Living

 

First, if you plan on purchasing any new appliances, look for products that have the ENERGY STAR® and WaterSense® ratings or logos.

The ENERGY STAR® rating system is a voluntary program launched by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

These programs help consumers identify products that are environmentally friendly. Moreover, people who want to go green can save money and protect the environment by reducing their electricity consumption.

According to HomeDepot.com, in 2016, the company saved their customers $903 million in energy costs.

Additionally, 76 billion gallons of water were reduced through the installation of low flow appliances!

Low flow appliance adaptors can make a significant impact on your utility bill! Want to save money on your next utility bill? Read on 🙂

 

 

How to Conserve Water: 

 

According to the Water Research Foundation, toilets, showers, and faucets are the biggest users of our water resources.

Toilets, faucets, and showers use approximately 63% of an average American’s home water bill. You can easily save tons of water by converting your current faucets and showers into low flow versions with the attachments below.

Both the low-flow shower head and faucet converters are WaterSense approved. What’s more, by switching to the low flow showerhead you can save 10,000+ gallons of water per year! 

Switching over to a low-flow shower head is a great investment because it will hit its breakeven cost quickly!

 

sustainability clean water showerhead

           Low-Flow Shower Head

sustainability clean water Sense water faucet

        Low-Flow Faucet Converter

sustainable water displacement bag

        Water Displacement Pouch

 

Did you know that you can save as much as 2,500 gallons of water per year by using a simple water displacement bag

These three, relatively inexpensive, conversion attachments can make a huge impact. Moreover, it is much cheaper than purchasing a low flow toilet (which could run you $400-$800).

These three eco-friendly products are my number one recommendation for water conservation. Remember, even though the planet is covered with water, only 1% is available for human use and consumption.

To put the water conservation effort into perspective, the World Bank estimates that 40% of the global population already suffers from water scarcity.

With the world’s population exploding and estimates that the number of inhabitants reaching upwards of 9 billion individuals by the year 2050, we need to focus on conservation now.

 

The Conscious Consumerism: 

 

In recent years, customers have requested (by voting with their dollars) that businesses increase product lines with higher energy efficiency ratings. 

When consumers, like you, focus their spending on sustainable conscious consumerism, businesses create eco-friendly products and find ways to reduce their impact on the environmental.

The bottom line is, YOU can change what products companies create and sell!

Now more than ever, companies are constantly working with their suppliers to improve their products to conserve resources.  Not only is resource conservation beneficial to the environment, but it is also beneficial to the company’s bottom line. Fewer resources used, equals fewer input costs.

Rewarding Some Behaviors While Punishing Others: 

 

Green living and sustainable living

I am sure many of you are pet owners, and just like training a puppy we need to train companies. We should reward them by purchasing their products if they act in socially responsible ways, and punish them when they ruin the environment.

If you boycott products that contain harsh chemical ingredients, companies will no longer have a market to sell to.

On the other hand, by purchasing WaterSense and EnergyStar products you will increase the demand for these products. This will, in turn, make it more profitable for companies to produce these resource-saving product lines. 

 

 

Growing Organic Herbs:

 

 

Herb sustainable Aquaponic Herb Garden

Aquaponic Herb Garden

Buying herbs at the store is terrible for the environment. You get a tiny not-so-fresh packet of herbs in a  one-time use plastic container. Not to mention that you only get a couple of ounces for $3…

The Solution: Engage your inner scientist! Nothing is cooler than this Aquaponic Herb Garden, because provides fresh herbs and microgreens on demand!!!

The best thing about this herb garden is that you can have a rotating crop of organic herbs and microgreens in your kitchen or office!

Fresh basil for everyone year round!

Moreover, the manufacturer gives a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If your kit doesn’t grow as described, they’ll replace it free of charge or provide a 100% refund. 

Get back to the basics and learn how to grow edible, gourmet, organic microgreens, and wheatgrass on top of a fish tank ecosystem!

Furthermore, you can begin harvesting the included organic microgreen seeds in as little as 10 days. 

 

Green living micro greensWhat Are Microgreens?:

 

According to Medical News Today, microgreens are the seedlings of vegetables and herbs.

They are harvested between 1-3 weeks after being planted, and it is believed that microgreens are high in antioxidant content that promotes health or assists in disease prevention.

Plant-based foods support a healthy complexion, increase in energy, lower weight, and a longer life expectancy.

Several studies have demonstrated that microgreens have high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Furthermore, they are rich in enzymes, which makes them easily digestible.

Some of the most popularly consumed microgreens are:

  •  cilantro
  • amaranth
  • arugula
  • radish
  • basil
  • beets
  • broccoli
  • kale

With the Aquaponic Herb Garden, you can grow the freshest ingredients for smoothies, salads, and garnishes.

This fish tank is a scaled-down aquaponics system, so the fish waste fertilizes the plants, and the plants clean the water!

To check out this awesome self-cleaning Aquaponic Herb Garden that grows organic microgreens click here!

 

Going Green: Building Facts

 

Did you know that building green only costs 3% to 5% more than conventional buildings cost to construct? Moreover, this cost is offset by the energy and utility bill saving you will accrue over the life of the building.

What’s more is that according to Inhabitat.com, many retailers are working with their suppliers to bring the costs down to compete directly with conventional products.

Over the long run, green buildings can reduce energy use by 30% – 50%!!!  Not to mention, green buildings can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 35%.

Last, but definitely not the least, green buildings can reduce water usage by up to 40%!

 

10 Ways to Go Green:

 

1) Switch to cloth napkins – instead of using paper towels (5 helpful tips)

2) Pack your lunch in reusable glass Tupperware (instead of one-time use ziplock bags)

3) Grow your own food – start an Aquaponic Herb Garden

4) Paint/build your home with eco-friendly materials (avoid paints with VOC chemicals)

5) Insulate your home (Down the Free Home Energy Audit Guide)

 

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6) Use ENERGY STAR® and WaterSense® appliances

7) Install solar panels – to reduce the energy you use from the grid, which is typically powered by fossil fuels (32% of U.S. electricity generation in 2017) and coal (30%) 

8) Choose local plants to landscape your garden- ones that naturally inhabit your area (i.e. plants that require less watering)

9) Eat locally grown food

10) Become a Reducetarian

 

 

How You and I Can Make an Impact Together: 

 

This blog is about changing your daily habits by purchasing eco-friendly versions of products that you already use or ones that will benefit your health, save you money, and the environment.

I love 2-for-1 or 3-for-1 benefit situations. I am not going to try to sell you a $500 fancy wooden eco-friendly watch… Because I want this site to be about getting the masses to change their habits to make the biggest impact.

As flashy and sexy as an electric Lamborghini is, it’s not going to save the planet and most people can’t afford one.

When “Organic” first became trendy, food products were 3x more expensive. The average person can’t afford to shop at Wholes Food.

Going sustainable shouldn’t be reserved for the wealthy. Besides, they are the smallest portion of the population.

To make large changes, small changes by millions of people need to happen.

I want to make the biggest impact, and the way to do that is to find ways that I can help the most amount of people transition to a sustainable lifestyle.

If you are enjoying this content and want to join me in my quest to save the world, help by transitioning your current lifestyle into a more sustainable version. Oh, and don’t forget! The goal is to get as many people on this bandwaggon as possible, so remember to share this content so we can spread the word!

Green living is a must because by 2050 there will be 9 billion of us around.

What You Eat Matters:

 

Sustainable living Reducetarian Solution

The consumption of meat produces a large amount of methane, which is considered a greenhouse gas.

Reducetarians are committed to eating less meat (red meat, poultry, seafood, milk, and eggs), regardless of the degree or motivation.

This concept is appealing because not everyone is willing to follow an “all-or-nothing” diet, and it allows room for a flexible intake of meat.

A fantastic book that explains how this diet works can be found on Audibles and by clicking this link. The Reducetarian Solution: How the Surprisingly Simple Act of Reducing the Amount of Meat in Your Diet Can Transform Your Health and the Planet“.

Time management and efficiency apple earbuds

As you know, I am a huge fan of listening to books on audio because it allows me to crush a book every week and a half. If you are not familiar with how I do this, click here. 

Psst. Here is my secret! I love my Apple earbuds. I can listen to audible books in the car, on the go, and while I work out. Plus, they automatically pause whatever is playing when you take one earbud out.

You can even listen with just one earbud in and the other in the charger. The earbuds hold about 2 hours of change, and the case itself holds 4-5 charges!

The earbuds are integrated with Siri, so I can pick up, make phone calls, and adjust the sound without ever touching my phone!!!

The reducetarian cookbook

If you are ready to get started on the reducetarian lifestyle, this cookbook has many delicious meals to choose from! The Reducetarian Cookbook: 125 Easy, Healthy, and Delicious Plant-Based Recipes for Omnivores, Vegans, and Everyone In-Between“.

 

 

 

 

 

A Quick Overview of the Reducetarian Lifestyle:

 

 

 

 

By making these simple adjustments to your daily habits, you can easily reduce your carbon footprint and become more aware of your environmental impact.

Take action now! tomorrow is always a day away.

If you have any helpful carbon reduction tips, please share by commenting below! 

 

Photo credit Pixabay

 

 

 

Eco Friendly Economics: Personal Finance and Sustainability

Eco Friendly Economics: Personal Finance and Sustainability

The goal of Eco Economics is to create a successful website that helps individuals change their habits to live a more sustainable life with respect to the environment and their personal finances.

In past blogs I have talked quite a bit about goal setting. You should create a five-year, one year, and monthly goals. Each milestone contributes to the overall 5-year goal. As you complete each milestone, you will notice that you may need to make slight adjustments to the direction or milestone in order to achieve your one year and five-year goals.

 

My year goal for EcoFriendlyEconomics.com is:

1) Have a fully functioning platform that offers a wide variety of earth-friendly and sustainable products.   

2) Create an online curriculum that teaches individuals:

a) Personal finances: How to navigate and use their personal finances to make wise investments and purchasing decisions.

b) Sustainability: How individuals can implement sustainable practices in their everyday lives.

I will create sets of 2 curriculums: one for adults and the other for young adults (individuals 18 under).

I will have audio and written (worksheets) supplements because I want to make the curriculum interactive and fun to learn! Research shows that when you engage yourself fully, in any topic of study (in multiple ways = audio, visual, kinesthetic), you retain the information more fully and have an increased likelihood of following through.

Here are a few of the personal finance topics that will be covered:

  • Real estate for beginners and beyond, rental income, different kinds of loans, items to pay attention to in real estate contract, REITS, and much more!
  • Stocks, ETFs, CAN SLIM, contrarian versus crowed mentality, fundamentalist versus a technician, and much more!

Here are a few of the sustainability topics that will be covered:

  • How to integrate sustainable practices into your daily life, tax credits and incentives, a series of current newsworthy renewable energy/technology updates (including companies making an impact), general and environmental laws/legislation, what you can do to help promote/increase sustainability, and much more!
  • Sustainability may seem like it is a topic that is gaining in popularity, but  President Trump has made eliminating federal regulations a priority. Based on research from Harvard Law School’s Environmental Regulation Rollback Tracker and Columbia Law School’s Climate Tracker the Trump administration has sought to reverse more than 70 environmental rules!!

When I first started this blog, I originally planned on writing about personal finance. As time progressed, I realized that I also wanted to blog about sustainability. The end goal is still the same, just with a slight modification.

If you find that you need to make a modification to your five-year goal, be sure that you modify your short-term and interim goals so that you steer your ship in the right direction to arrive at the new destination. Slight modifications will have a reverberating effect, and it is important to adjust your direction ever so slightly. Small adjustments can make a huge impact over time (large adjustments may cause you to tack back and forth, which is counterproductive). An analogy I like to use is to imagine that you are driving a car, and you turn the steering wheel 5° to the right. In 50 miles, you will arrive at a completely different destination then if you had kept the steering wheel straight.

As always, I encourage feedback (comment below). I will continue to update the community as new milestones are accomplished or adjusted.

 

Photo credit

4 Bold Steps to Stand-up For Solar Energy

4 Bold Steps to Stand-up For Solar Energy

Hello, my fellow Sustainability Advocates! This article is going to cover the topic of why investing in solar energy is so important.

Reasons to Stand-up For Solar Energy

 

Keep in mind, the solar energy industry is still in the development phase. If we do not support solar companies through the purchase of their products, it will signal to the market that there is not enough demand in this area to warrant new investments.

Moreover, additional investments in technologies attract the brightest minds in the field. They, in turn, create new technological breakthroughs.

Through these advancements, industry leaders are able to benefit from prior learning curves.

A learning curve occurs when you find errors in your technique or process. This causes people to find new ways to complete tasks in less time in the future.

When companies see that customers like a particular product, it spurs them to invest capital (money). The capital then gets used to boost the R&D (research and development) of that product.

The larger the demand for solar energy products, the more producers are able to achieve economies of scale.

An economy of scale occurs when there is a reduction in the cost to produce an item due to an increase in the number of items ordered.

Example: This is one of the reasons why Walmart is able to sell products for so cheaply (they order a ton of each item). They also have bargaining power/leverage when they negotiate with their suppliers because they are buying so many products.

 

In any case, back to how this relates to solar energy…

The more demand there is for solar energy products, the higher quantities will be ordered. This results in a cheaper price for the end user (you)!

 

Without further ado, let’s get into the 4 bolds steps you can take to support solar energy!

 

1. Supporting Solar Offers you a 3-to-1 Benefit

 

 

I love a 3-for-1, don’t you?

Check out the benefits of these long-lasting, motion detector solar lights:

  1. Save money on your utility bill
  2. Increase the security around your home (motion detection spotlight feature)
  3. Reduce the amount of coal and oil burned (which produces acid rain).

 

Let’s have a chat about reducing that amount of coal and fossil fuels that we burn. The less we burn the better it is for your health (asthma), our food (agriculture), and the environment.

Remember, coal produces acid rain which ends up in the soil that your fruits and vegetables are planted in and absorb.

Bioaccumulation occurs when our meat eats pounds of grain that have absorbed toxic sulfuric and nitrogen oxides from the acid rain.

The higher the consuming entity is on the food chain, the more compounded the bioaccumulation becomes. This is called Biomagnification.

Keep in mind, that humans are at the top of the food chain. Eeeek!

 

 

Waterproof Motion Sensor Solar Lights:

 

Sustainable Solar lights (large)

  • This 44 chip LED light comes with a battery that lasts 12 hours after being fully charged by sunshine.
  • It offers 3 lighting modes (medium light, dim light with sensor, and sensor mode without dim light).

There is almost no risk to trying these puppies out because it comes with a 90-day money back guarantee and a 1-year warranty!

Click here to check out these lights on Amazon.com

 

 

If you are interested in more lights (pack of 4 instead of 2), that operate as just a motion detector light, then the same company offers this option below.

 

Sustainable Solar lights (small)

 

The solar panel lifespan is 5 years, and the LED lifespan is 50,000 hours. Additionally, it only takes 6-8 hours to fully charge.

Both of these solar light options cost approximately the same, so it just depends on what features you are looking for.

The smaller lights only offer the motion detection light feature.

On the other hand, the larger lights have a permanent “on” mode as well as the motion detection feature.

To look at the smaller light’s features in more detail, click here. 

 

 

2. Support the Extension of The Renewable Energy Tax Credit:

 

 

One of the biggest contributing growth factors of solar and wind energy (in the US) is due to a policy called the Solar Investment Tax Credit. Lately, there has been a bit of pushback by the Trump Administration. Luckily, legislators from 18 states are taking a stand for clean energy. 

The policy gives a 30% tax credit for solar systems on residential and commercial properties.

This policy was put in place by the Obama administration, and the US Congress recently passed an extension of the bill until 2019. Although, the tax credit will begin to phase out over the next several years.

The tax credit is scheduled to fall to 26% in 2020, 22% in 2021, and 10% by 2022.

You can support solar by voting for a renewal of this policy and other policies that support the growth of the industry.

 

3. Elect State Politicians Who Support Sustainable Policies:

 

 

Legislators Take a Stand for Clean Energy

California and 17 other states are challenging the move to relax the vehicle emissions standards.

Approximately one-third of the fifty states have mounted a legal challenge to reduce the vehicle emissions standards.

California, which heads-up the group announced a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The California market represents nearly 40% of the US new car market. A relaxation in vehicle emissions would create significantly more smog than it already has.

The group’s argument is that the EPA’s plan to revise the fuel and emissions standards is in violation of the Clean Air Act.

The current standard in place requires the achievement of an average fuel economy of 55 miles per gallon by the year 2024.

However, the EPA director Scott Pruitt announced last month that the current regulations are “too stringent”, and is calling for a more relaxed policy.

filling up

In the lawsuit, the states argue that they are fighting to protect public health. These states represent approximately 140 million people who simply want cleaner and more efficient cars.

California Governor, Jerry Brown, was the one to file the suit in the United States Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia.

According to an article written by the Washington Post, “California’s 2,048,000 new car sales in 2017 represented about 12% of the 17 million-plus cars sold in the United States last year”.

Simply put, the states wish to avert 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide that would be emitted from gas-guzzling vehicles sold between 2012 and 2025.

 

Create Local Communities that Advocate Change: 

 

 

Marin County has just announced a program, which will provide rebates to purchasers of new and used electric vehicles.

The maximum rebate amount for a new electric vehicle is  $3,500 and $2,500 for a used car.

Should the vehicle emissions standards be left up to the individual states? Or does the federal government have an obligation to set a minimum set of standards? If you do not want the government in your business, then make the change yourself by consciously consuming solar energy products.

As a small business owner and believer in the free market economy, it is up to the consumer to vote with their dollars.

Sustainable conscious consumerism is critically important in the process of moving our society toward a renewable energy future.

We live in a capitalistic society, so it is the consumer who will dictate which products will dominate in the future.

If you want to move toward a sustainable future, you must create demand by purchasing renewable energy products.

Remember, pollution does not pay attention to state boundaries. Carbon emissions will affect you, regardless of where you live. That is because this planet is a closed system.

Even if you live in the state of Washington, where there are millions of trees, an increase of  6 billion tons of carbon dioxide will have some effect on your air quality.

 

 

4. Reduce Consumption and Increase Production:

 

 

There are 2 ways to wean our society off of coal and oil.

  1. Reduce the amount of energy you need by becoming more efficient with the energy that you use. Click here to read about how to install FREE solar panels on your home through a solar lease agreement!
  2. Increase renewable energy production.

 

How can you increase the efficiency of your home???  Download this nifty FREE Home Energy Audit Guide to see where your home is literally leaking electricity.

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Why is it so important that you make a change? A study in the Journal of Industrial Ecology looked at the environmental impact from a household perspective. What they found floored me…

The study revealed that household consumers are responsible for more than 60% of the globe’s greenhouse gas emissions, and up to 80% of the world’s land, materials, and water use

To read how you can save over 13,000 gallons of water and a ton of money, read my article about “Why the World is Running Out of Clean Water”.

 

An Ever-Growing Population: 

 

According to United Nations predictions, the world population could reach 9.7 billion by 2050, and over 11 billion by 2100. With that said, more of the world’s population wants western living standards (electricity, cars, etc).

The biggest issue is that nearly 60% of electricity comes from coal and oil. The American population is less than one-third of China’s, yet we produce just as much carbon as they do.

Take a look at this infographic by StanfordKay:

 

Global Carbon Emissions StanfordKay (1)

 

 

The 10,000 Foot Overview:

 

We must all work together to save the planet from global warming and resource depletion.

Start by consuming products responsibly, supporting renewable technologies, and advocating for green policies.

Before you go, remember to check out the solar motion detector lights that will help illuminate the path toward a brighter future!

If you have enjoyed this content and would like to continue to have more content like this to read… You can help by purchasing products through my links. After all, a girl has to make a living!

Interested in learning more about a particular sustainability topic? Comment below!

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credits:

EPA

 filling up the tank

Carbon Infographic

Barclays Bank and Duke Energy Holding Company: Changing Policies in Favor of Renewable Energy (Big Players are Getting On Board)!!!

Trang-An-UNESCO-world-he

Barclays Bank announces a new environmental protection policy as a WWF poll shows that 7 in 10 consumers would consider ditching banks that fund environmentally damaging projects, which would endanger World Heritage sites. The new policy states that the bank has “no appetite” for funding the development or expansion of environmentally damaging projects in World Heritage sites or internationally important wetland areas.” This public policy statement says that Barclays will have its environmental risk management team screen all of the proposed projects and financial transactions to check for the location of the project against UNESCO’s World Heritage lists of important sites.

The new policy covers corporate banking and investment banking activities. The focus is specifically geared toward mining, oil, gas, and other major infrastructure industries. The bank released the following statement, “Barclays’ success and prosperity is closely linked to the success and prosperity of the communities in which we live and work.” Additionally, the policy states that, “This principle guides the way we do business and drives our commitment to play a leading role in the transition towards a sustainable environment and a low carbon global economy.”

Wilderness Photo

Duke Energy Holding Company is a fortune 125 company that is making significant changes to their portfolio holdings by increasing its renewable energy capacity by almost 20 % in 2017. According to the company’s newly posted Sustainability Report, one of the company’s goals is to own (or have under contract) 8,000 megawatts of wind, solar and biomass capacity by 2020. The company’s carbon dioxide emissions continue to drop, down 31%, from 2005 levels. Their projected goal is to lower total emissions down 40% by 2030. A highly ambitious goal that they have accomplished in the past year is to recycle 80% of its solid waste!

As conscious consumers, we must applaud these companies and encourage them to continue to  divest their portfolios of unsustainable products. There are several ways to promote companies making the switch:

1) Share this post– companies love good publicity, especially when it is on an individual (word of mouth) level. The best thing is that this action takes 1 second (press the share button), and doesn’t cost a dime!

2) Buy shares in their stock– this is an opportunity for you and the company. Renewable energy is a growing sector, it’s like time traveling back to the 1990’s and knowing that cell phones are going to change the world and impact everyone in it. Wouldn’t you invest?!? Duke Energy is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. Here is your opportunity to get in on the action. Oil is a finite resource. The planet will definitively run out of fossil fuels at some point in the future. Oil makes us more dependent on foreign countries (political leverage), and it is polluting our air. The switch to renewable energy is inevitable! Be a part of the force that causes the change!!!

3) When making a purchasing decision– perform a bit of research and consider the company’s environmental impact.

Are these actions due to consumer pressure or a general turn in policy due to companies realizing that they can have an impact on the environment and lead the way into a more sustainable future? What do you think? Comment below!

 

Photo credit Unesco world heritage site 

Photo credit Jasper national park