Woman recycling her trash in coloured bins

10 Ways to Live an Eco-Conscious Life

Many people veer away from the idea of an eco-friendly lifestyle, fearing that this would require them to give up all of their creature comforts. 

However, this is not at all the case…

Take a look at these 10 small changes that you can make in your life to make your lifestyle more eco-conscious. 

Cut Back on Your Meat Consumption

The meat industry has been so devastating for the environment, and continues to cause so much damage. 

As you likely already know, humans could do with more space on the planet, yet 83% of the world’s agricultural land is dedicated to livestock production, even though this only delivers around 18% of the population’s calories. only delivers around 18% of the population’s calories.

Not only that, but the livestock industry produces large amounts of dangerous greenhouse gases, contributing to the planet’s pollution problem. 

Are you a big meat eater? 

If your answer is yes, then the idea of cutting back on your meat consumption is not likely to sound very appealing. 

But did you know that this could benefit your health too, in addition to helping the planet? 

All you need to do is start small, phasing out the meat portion in one or two meals a week. There are so many meat alternatives available now, as well as delicious vegetarian recipes, giving you plenty of other exciting options. 

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Everybody has a carbon footprint, and while this term has been thrown about quite a lot lately, do you know what it actually means? 

Your carbon footprint refers to the amount of carbon dioxide released into the environment that you have contributed to. This carbon dioxide has such a detrimental effect on global warming, and if everybody sought to reduce their carbon footprint by just a small amount, this would make a huge difference to the environment. 

So, how do you go about reducing your carbon footprint? 

Here are a few easy steps that you can take: 

  • Buy local – from food to clothes, buying locally grown or made products whenever possible will cut back on the amount of carbon dioxide it takes to bring you your goods 
  • Make use of public transport – if more people used buses and trains, carbon dioxide emissions would be significantly reduced 
  • Cut back on flying – if you are a frequent flyer, try cutting back on this, saving your flights for when they are really necessary instead 

Go Organic

Let’s begin by making one thing clear…

If a food item is organic, this doesn’t mean that it is completely free from pesticides and other chemicals. Organic farmers are still allowed to use these, although to a much smaller extent. 

That being said, organic food is noticeably lower in harmful chemical residues. Not only is that beneficial to your health, but it also means that less of those chemicals have been released into the environment in order to grow the food that you eat.

Don’t like the high price tags that often accompany organic produce? 

Due to the fact that organic food is more labor-intensive to grow, and also sometimes produces smaller yields, prices are usually much higher than non-organic alternatives. 

While you may not want to completely overhaul every item you buy and swap these for their organic versions, there are certain foods out there that end up so much more contaminated than others, making it worthwhile to at least buy the organic versions of those. 

These are some of the items worth going organic for: 

  • Soft fruits – strawberries, raspberries and more have been tested, and over one-third of all samples contained at least 10 different pesticide residues, with one containing 22 
  • Spinach – this popular leafy green is almost guaranteed to contain pesticide residue, unless you go organic 
  • Applesaround 80% of tested apples contain traces of a pesticide that is banned in Europe
  • Tomatoes – these tend to be particularly prone to absorbing pesticides, with smaller tomatoes being more vulnerable 
  • Celery – this is quite a porous vegetable, meaning that it quickly absorbs chemicals. Samples have shown 13 different pesticides contained within these crunchy stems 
  • Potatoes – research shows that potatoes contain more pesticides by weight than any other food 
  • Milk – organic milk means that the cow hasn’t been fed any hormones, making the milk much healthier for you

When it comes to the other foods you eat, many of these, such as onions and garlic, will contain tougher external skin. This helps to protect them from absorbing so many pesticides. While they will still contain chemicals, the foods listed above are the ones to focus on if you are only planning on going partly organic. 

Switch to a Renewable Energy Supplier

There are now so many energy suppliers out there that offer 100% renewable energy sources for your home. 

Where does this renewable energy come from? 

The sources are varied, and include solar panels, wind turbines and hydro power.

Illustration of finite versus renewable sources of energy

Each one will have its pros and cons, and their viability will also depend on where you live, as well as how much energy you use. 

Not only is renewable energy so much better for the environment, but it could also save you some money. 

How? 

Well, firstly, renewable energy is cheaper. Secondly, many countries offer tax incentives for those who make use of renewable energy sources, giving you even more savings. 

If you are new to renewable energy, many companies offer free consultations where they will come to your house and give you advice on the best renewable sources for you, making this well worth enquiring about. 

Swap Instead of Shop

There are times when nothing can beat the satisfying feeling that comes from a day of retail therapy, but all of this consumerism is not doing the environment any favors. 

The clothes that you buy contribute to your carbon footprint, and the rise of cheaper clothing means that more and more items are now ending up in landfills, instead of being repurposed and reused. 

This is where clothing swaps come in…

They might not sound very glamorous, but they are a great way to get yourself some new clothes without having a negative environmental impact. 

Wondering where to find these clothing swaps? 

Many cities are now home to a swap shop, where you can bring in your unwanted items in exchange for tokens, which you can then use to purchase other items in the shop. There are many swap shops that are dedicated to other types of goods, excluding clothes, such as books, DVDs and more. 

Can’t find a swap shop near you? 

You can always gather together a group of people and arrange your own swaps. Simply have everyone bring in a certain number of items, and then let the swapping begin! Any leftover goods can be donated to charity shops, ensuring that there is no wastage. 

Start Composting

Home compost bins have been growing in popularity in recent years, and for good reason too. 

While some of the waste that you throw out, such as food waste, will break down in a landfill, the way in which it does so causes the release of harmful methane gases. 

A compost bin enables these natural items to break down safely, while cutting back on the amount of waste you send to a landfill. It also helps to make you more aware of how much plastic and other synthetic materials you are using, since you won’t be able to place these into your compost bin. 

An added benefit to home composting is the compost that you end up with once the process is done. This really is the very best stuff for your garden, and will be so much more superior to any compost you could buy in a bag. Even if you aren’t a keen gardener, you will likely have friends or neighbors that are, and who would be extremely appreciative for your homemade compost.

Reusables Instead of Disposables

Disposable products really have taken over recently, and there is no denying that they can definitely make life easier and more convenient. 

While this may be the case, have you ever thought of all the waste you are creating through the disposable products that you use? 

There are so many disposable products out there that could easily be replaced with reusable versions. 

Here are a few ideas of changes you could make around your home: 

  • Ink cartridges can be refilled 
  • Batteries can be recharged 
  • Reusable coffee filters 
  • Reusable razor blades 
  • Reusable food storage containers 

Yes, it may take more effort on your part to reuse products instead of simply reaching for a new one, but the environment will definitely thank you. 

Work From Home

While not everybody’s job enables them to work from home all the time, there are many jobs out there where this is possible at least once a week or so. 

How does this help the environment? 

Well, research shows that if one million people worked from home one day a week, this would cut back on three million tons of carbon dioxide being released into the environment each year. 

Not only that, but the lack of stress you will experience from not having to go through your daily commute will do your health plenty of good too. 

Not sure if your company allows employees to work from home? 

It’s always worth asking to find out, especially when you have such good eco-friendly reasons behind your request! 

Cut Back on Plastic

You likely use plastic in just about every part of your life, and all of this plastic soon ends up in landfills around the world.

Why is this bad?

Because plastic doesn’t break down properly, and also releases harmful chemicals into the ground, which then make their way into nearby water sources, contaminating surrounding ecosystems.

There are many other ways in which plastic is damaging to the environment, such as with all of the wildlife that ends up entangled in discarded plastic bags, or the animals that mistake the bags for food and eat them.

It does take quite a bit of dedication to really cut back on plastic usage…

Begin by looking at the food you buy. Many items are unnecessarily packaged in layers of plastic, but there are likely to be loose and unpackaged versions of these items available too.

Plastic bag usage is something that can be easily cut back on. Simply start using reusable bags instead, keeping these in your home, car, office and anywhere else that makes them easily accessible for when you need them.

Bottled water is another big problem, but, again, is easy to overcome. Simply stop buying bottled water!

Don’t like the taste of your tap water?

It may be worthwhile purchasing a water filter to filter out any chemicals that have been used in the water system.

Automatic Car Washes

Do you wash your car yourself, or do you take it through a car wash? 

People who wash their cars themselves likely think that this is much better for the environment, but this is actually the opposite from the truth…

When you wash your car yourself, you end up using 10 gallons of water every minute. On the other hand, if you put your car through an automatic car wash, this uses up around 15 to 30 gallons of water in total. 

This means that unless you are able to wash your car yourself in under three minutes, you would save a significant amount of water by taking your car through an automatic car wash instead. 

Each of these ten steps are quite easy to implement, and while they may not seem like huge changes, they definitely make your lifestyle so much more eco-friendly. From using renewable energy sources to cutting back on waste, following these steps will reduce the amount of damage that you are personally causing to the environment.  

Woman shielding herself from the rain with umbrella

Natural and Man-Made Causes Of Acid Rain

In 1856, scientist Robert Angus Smith stated the following: ” It has been observed that the stones and bricks of buildings, especially under projecting parts, crumble more readily in large towns where coal is burnt, I was led to attribute this effect to the slow but constant action of acid rain.” This astute observation, and later work on the subject, earned Smith the title of “Father of Acid Rain.”

Acid rain was first brought to public attention when 17th century diarist John Evelyn noticed the degradation of the famous Arundel Towers in Southhampton. Consequently, Evelyn is the the same man who was credited with referring to the atmosphere of London as a “Hellish and dismall cloud of sea-coale.” The phenomena is attributed to air pollution, principally from sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, both of which come largely from fossil fuels like coal and oil. Considering this, it is not surprising to learn that the emissions of both have increased since the Industrial Revolution.

Sulfate and Nitrate Sources In the Atmosphere

Natural Sources
Sulfate in the atmosphere comes largely from volcanic emissions, ocean spray, and readily oxidized hydrogen sulfide released from decomposing organic materials in the earth. Nitrate or nitrogen sources include NOx, made by lightening during thunderstorms, organisms in soil, and forest fires. Scientists believe that these natural sources are responsible for one third of the nitrogen and sulfur emissions in the US.

Human Activity
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that that the major contributors to acid rain are SO2 and NOx, which result from the burning of oil, coal, natural gas, and other fossil fuels. The agency notes that about 70% of SO2 emissions produced in 2006 were caused by fuel combustion by electric utilities using fossil fuel. Fossil fueled industrial facilities contributed 13% to the number. Other, lesser sources were transportation vehicles and industrial processes; highway vehicles being the primary source of NOx emissions, accounting for 36% of the 2006 total. Another 22% was added by off-highway vehicles, like bulldozers, while power plants accounted for 20% of the total.

Effects on the Environment

  • Acid rain lowers pH levels in the water which kills fish, their eggs, and fish food organisms.
  • Acid rain changes soil chemistry, causing soil to lose nutrients like magnesium. potassium, and calcium because it becomes too concentrated with dissolved inorganic aluminum.
  • Acid rain harms trees by robbing the foliage of calcium and lowering their tolerance to stress.
  • Particulates (small pollutant particles) related to acid ran can travel long distances and penetrate deep into lungs. This can leads to the development of bronchitis and asthma in children and is believed to be the cause of major health risks in people over 65 and pregnant women.

Addressing Acid Rain
In 2005, the EPA issued the Clean Air Interstate rule to limit transport of air pollutants along state lines. It is expected to reduce the emission of SO2 by more than 70% and emission of NOx by more than 70%. Analyses of a Gallup poll shows a decline in public concern about acid rain in the late 1980’s. By 2007, only 25% go people polled expressed a great deal of concern abut acid rain, and 20% expressed no concern at all.

What do you think needs to be done about acid rain? Let us know what you think and tell us what we can do on our part to help combat this problem affecting the quality of our lives.

Woman holding organic foods

Make the Switch To Organic Foods

What does it mean to “go organic?” Is it the environmental equivalent of buying Christian Louboutins? Does it mean meeting friends for organic Suncrust Pizza at the LYFE cafe followed up by a trip to Dunkin’ Donuts? Making the switch to organic foods is not a trend, its a commitment. It means being diligent about shopping practices, and may even require some economical sacrifices. However, it also means taking steps toward a chemical free environment. If you’re considering making the switch, here are some things you need to be prepared to do.

Make Room In the Fridge
Since organic produce typically does not last as long as inorganic, you’ll have to inspect your refrigerator and food storage areas to make sure you have room to store it. Clean out rotten produce to make room for your newer, healthier items.. Consider stocking up on frozen organic versions if frequent trips to the market are inconvenient.

Make a List
Make a list of items that you are running low on and gradually replace them with organic versions. This will cut down on waste and stretch out your finances while you are making the transition.

Organic Produce Shopping
Thin skinned produce or produce without peels have the least protection against pesticides. When switching to organics, berries, celery, apples, bell peppers, peaches, greens, and potatoes should be your first priority. Thicker skinned produce, such as avocados, pineapples, melons, and mangoes pose less of a health risk, and can be held off on, if you need to make the transition slowly.

Shopping for organic food

Organic Dairy
Switching to organics will also mean converting to organic milk and dairy products to avoid antibiotics and pesticides. Although there may be a significant price difference, keep in mind that the switch will help to support and more natural agricultural system.

Meat and Eggs
If meat and eggs are dietary staples for you, you will want to purchase hormone free and organic forms of these proteins. Organic meat will probably be the most costly of all your switches. You may want to accompany this swap with the purchase of few organic flavorings, seasonings, and condiments, to keep your transition tasty.

Read Labels
Look for the “USDA organic” certification on the label of your food to make sure the Department of Agriculture has deemed it free of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and that no ionizing radiation was used in the processing of the food. “100% organic” indicates all ingredients are organic, whereas simply “organic” means 95 % organic, and “Made with Organic Ingredients” means that 70 % of the ingredients were not genetically modified.

Shop Around
Go to different grocery stores to find the best prices and selections of organic food. Your regular grocery store probably has an organic food aisle, and you may be able to find organic foods place next to the nonorganic. Health food stores, membership stores, and farmer’s markets can be good organic food sources and you can always consider starting your own garden, if you are so inclined.

Eating out

Eating Out
Do your research when it comes to restaurants. Some restaurants may claim a dish is organic, but key uses seasonings, oils, and other components that may not be. Specialty restaurants are generally most reliable.

What do you think? Are you prepared to take the steps for a healthy environment and a healthy you? Let us know!

Flat lay of laptop and plant

Improve Your Health With A Nice Office Plant

If you have seen “Little Shop Of Horrors” you may not be so enthusiastic about the idea of owning a plant. After all, the idea of a human blood- sucking Venus Flytrap with a mind of its own is not exactly the most encouraging image for the novice horticulturist. However, if you are not yet scarred for life by the image of your small table plant coming to life and crooning, “Feed me Seymour” in a funky baritone, you may not be completely adverse to the idea of becoming a parent to a beautiful bouncing office plant. And, if so, you may be among the fortunate individuals that can reap the health benefits of having such a plant on your office desk. Here are some of the reasons you should make your workplace a little greener.

Plants Improve Air Quality
Studies have shown plants can play an important role in improving indoor air quality. In 1973, environmental scientists found the swamp plants could actually eliminate Agent Orange from water samples and volatile organic compounds from the air. Additional research suggests that people recover from illnesses faster when surrounded by greenery.Plants Reduce Stress

Plants Reduce Stress
A State University Study at Surrey University in the UK confirmed beliefs that office plants can reduce stress. Participants in the study were asked to take a difficult exam. Half the participants did so in a plant-filled room, while the other half did not. Measurements taken afterward proved that the presence of plants eased stress for participants and that subjects recovered more quickly from stress in a plant-filled environment.

Woman holding plant

Plants Increase Productivity
With the reduction of stress comes the increase of productivity, research has found. A study published in the “Journal of Environmental Horticulture asked a group of workers to perform a simple task on a computer in a room filled with plants, while another group was asked to perform the same task in a plant- less room. Results showed a 12% increase in productivity in the workers who accomplished the task in the presence of plants. These workers also reported feeling 10% more attentive after completing the task than those tested without the horticulture.

Plants Make A Room More Comfortable
Although a thirty to sixty percent humidity is the range recommended for human health and comfort, many offices come up short of these numbers, especially during the winter and summer. Low humidity can lead to conditions increasing fatigue and respiratory discomfort. Findings by Washington Star University show that humidity rises significantly when plants are added to the environment, with one study demonstrating plants’ abilities to bring a room to the ideal range of comfort.

Plants Make You More Aware of the Environment
There’s nothing like a plant on your desk to keep you thinking about your eco-consciousness. Tending to a plant every day is a great reminder of how important it is to care about the earth. Let the shrubbery turn your thoughts to how you can add a few more eco-conscious habits to your workday, such as reducing paper and employing reusable products.

How has a plant added to your earth friendliness? Let us know why you keep a plant in your office for your mental and physical health.