4 Eco Lifestyle Habits You Should Start Implementing

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, Mother Nature is finally starting to breathe a little easier again. Indeed, it could be argued that this has been the major benefit of the coronavirus pandemic. The rules and regulations rolled out by political leaders in different countries might be tough, but these encouraged citizens from different parts of the world to change their ways and become more environmentally conscious.

But with lockdown restrictions now easing, it might prove tempting to lapse back into old, environmentally destructive ways. So, to help combat this, we’ve compiled a few simple lifestyle changes to ensure the planet continues to heal.

1. Go organic and shop local

You might have to pay a little more for the privilege, but by shopping and eating locally and organically, you’ll soon start to notice not only the taste difference but the positive difference in your overall health.

With the UK now considering lowering its standards when it comes to importing food, with the dreaded chlorinated chicken now on the table in trade deals with the US, keeping it fresh, organic, and local has never been more important.

compost-organic-waste-farming

The concept of safe food using organic waste generated compost is getting traction.

Aside from helping improve the environment, going organic and shopping local can also boost your local economy. By patronizing products and services from your locality, you are providing income to local workers and encouraging businesses to continue their operations. Going organic and shopping local is something everyone must do in order for their countries to easily recover from the effects of the pandemic.

2. Travel by train

We understand that travel by public transport hasn’t exactly been actively encouraged in recent months, but sooner or later, the world will return to some semblance of normality, and when that happens, train travel is comfortably one of the least damaging forms of transportation.

Of course, we would always recommend walking or cycling if at all possible, but we realise this won’t always be a realistic option. So, rather than firing up the car and spending a good hour wading through rush hour traffic every morning on your way to work, why not switch up your commute? This is particularly relevant in London, where trains from East Croydon to Norwood Junction are running constantly and provide faster and cleaner transport.

biomass-train

Travelling by train might be uncommon for some but making the change will surely be worth it in the long run. Travelling by train allows you to take care of the environment and save money. Moreover, train travel can be a great way to meet new people and appreciate the views in your locality.

3. Go paperless

It’s never been easier to lead a completely paperless life thanks to the digitization of most sectors and data. You’d be surprised how much paper is possible to get through if you’re not careful. The vast majority of services, however, now give you the option to go paperless as a good habit for the environment.

It’s often as simple as logging on to your bank accounts or your energy provider accounts and ticking a box. You can also help the cause a little further by ensuring you recycle all the paper and card you have already used and only printing off hard copies of documents when it’s 100% necessary.

It’s easy for anyone to start going paperless. If you usually receive your bills through physical mail, reach out to your service provider and have your bills emailed to you. You can also go paperless at work by encouraging your colleagues to send out emails for communication instead of printing documents regularly.

4. Avoid bottled water

Green living doesn’t always have to be difficult. Sometimes, it can even save you money! There is absolutely no legitimate reason to continue buying bottled water in this day and age. Plastic is a blight on our environment like no other and bottled water creates more plastic than almost any other product on earth.

water-filtration-systems

A water filter is a cheap and elegant way to filter out any of the potential chemicals and contaminants that might make your tap water seem like a less attractive option. And think of all the money you’ll save, too! Oh, and while you’re at it, ditching plastic bags is something you should really be looking into, as currently, only around 3% of the world’s plastic bags are being recycled!

If you want to take it up a notch, carry a water tumbler inside reusable cotton bags, such as those from calico-bags.com.au. You should always bring reusable bags when you step out of your house because these will enable you to carry your purchases with ease and save money from buying plastics every time you buy something.

Conclusion

Incorporating eco-friendly habits to your life can be challenging at first, but if you want to preserve the environment and ensure that it continues to provide for your needs, you should be willing to make the change. Your efforts will surely go a long way to improve or maintain the condition of the environment!

Is Aquaculture the Answer to World Hunger?

Feeding a growing world population could become problematic, but aquaculture might hold the key. If humans are anything, we are resourceful. We see a problem with the world, and we do what we can to fix it.  When being nomadic and following food sources was no longer sustainable, we solved the problem by developing agriculture.  Currently, as the population continues to grow and our taste for seafood increases, we’re trying to find ways to meet demand and, at the same time, sustain wild populations of fishes.

aquaculture-fish-farms

Aquaculture is the answer to this current dilemma. Farming fish for food has been around since about 2000 B.C. Since then, technology has helped it advanced and developed better techniques to raise fish for food.

Benefits of Aquaculture

Fish is a great source of protein, and it also contains essential minerals including potassium, zinc, iodine and magnesium. Fish are also rich in phosphorus and calcium. For a healthy heart, the American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week.

The health benefits of fish are more than enough reason to eat them, but they are also a delicious meal. There is a large variety of fish to choose from, including freshwater and saltwater varieties. However, the increased amount of people eating fish has had an impact on wild populations. To prevent certain species from being overfished, it is important to find an alternative to providing fish to people, and that includes aquaculture.

Different types of aquaculture must be used to raise different species of fish. Large companies can engage in aquaculture on an industrial scale with fish held in tanks or in pens in lakes, ponds or even the ocean. Families can even perform aquaculture in their backyard.

The variety of fish that you can raise for food includes catfish, bait minnow, trout, carp and tilapia, among others.  It’s also possible to raise shellfish, including oysters and shrimp. Want to try your hand at growing water plants?  You can also use aquaculture principles for water chestnuts and red and brown algae.

Studies have shown that marine aquaculture has the potential to produce 16.5 billion tons of fish per year, which is more than enough to feed the growing population and meet nutritional needs.

Different types of aquaculture must be used to raise different species of fish.

Different types of aquaculture must be used to raise different species of fish.

In some areas, such as parts of Africa, aquaculture has made an enormous impact on the local community’s economy and employment as well. The food produced helps to sustain Africa’s growing population and provides local jobs with steady income.

The Downside of Aquaculture

While it has the potential to feed hungry communities and contribute to local economies, there are some problems associated with aquaculture. Having too many fish in a tank can lead to the spread of disease.  Also, the type of feed the fish eat can impact how healthy they are for humans. Keeping fish in pens in lakes, ponds or the ocean might cause the spread of parasites to wild populations.  Farmed fish could also escape their enclosure and, as a result, alter the natural ecosystem.

Recognizing the shortcomings of aquaculture is the first step to remedying its problems. As technology and farming practices advance and techniques improve, it’s possible that we will resolve many of these issues. This will lead to greater benefits for the human population that depends on fish for food.

Humans have the ingenuity and drive to make the world a better place for themselves and others. Population growth isn’t going to slow down any time soon, and we need to make sure everyone is taken care of and has enough to eat. While aquaculture has its pros and cons, it can be a sustainable and economic way to feed hungry people.  In time, it may even be the answer to world hunger.

The Three Biggest Financial Crises

While the pandemic has become the hardest test for all countries of the world, it is not the first major blow to the global economy. We have compiled a selection of the three largest financial crises that hit the global economy the hardest.

largest financial crisis of all times

1. The Credit Crisis of 1772

By the mid-1760s, the British Empire had amassed a huge fortune through its colonial possessions and trade. All this contributed to the rapid development of the country, pushing banks to more active lending.

Banking partners Neil, James, Fordyce & Down lost £300,000 on shares of the East India Company. On June 8, 1772, Fordyce fled to France, trying to hide from paying debts.

News of Fordyce’s escape quickly spread throughout England, causing panic among depositors, and the crisis quickly spread to other parts of Europe. Historians say the economic fallout from this crisis sparked the Boston Tea Party protest in 1773 and launched the American Revolution.

2. The Great Depression

The stock market crash in the USA in 1929 provoked one of the main financial and economic catastrophes of the twentieth century. The depression continued for nearly 10 years and resulted in massive losses of income, record unemployment, and a drop in manufacturing, especially in industrialized countries. In the United States, the unemployment rate reached nearly 24.9% at the peak of the depression in 1933.

Experts name overproduction and the lack of proper oversight of the actively developing exchange market among the reasons for the economic decline, since the purchasing power of the population did not match the number of goods on the market and there were too many fictitious companies and financial fraud present.

largest financial crisis

3. The Great Recession of 2007-2009

The largest financial crisis since the Great Depression was caused by the mortgage crisis in the United States and a sharp increase in the number of non-payments on mortgage loans with a high level of risk. It damaged the economies of countries around the world, led to the collapse of one of the leading investment banks, Lehman Brothers, and threatened many major financial institutions and businesses.

Even though the Great Recession officially ended in 2009, ordinary people have faced negative consequences for many years due to the slow recovery of the labor market and falling property prices. As a result, the crisis has left millions of people unemployed and caused billions of dollars in damage.

How to Be Prepared for Major Financial Crises?

Generally speaking, even the richest person is not prepared for a sudden fall of the economy. Of course, having substantial savings does help yet doesn’t guarantee complete financial safety. The latest example is the COVID-19 outbreak that caused a lot of individuals and businesses to lose their main sources of income. If you have found yourself in a difficult financial situation, keep in mind that you can always turn to Payday Depot for prompt loans.

E-Waste Management in the GCC: Perspectives

The growing amount of e-waste is gaining more and more attention on the global agenda. In 2017, e-waste production is expected to reach up to 48 million metric tons worldwide. The biggest contributors to this volume are highly developed nations, with the top three places of this inglorious ranking going to Norway, Switzerland and Iceland.

In Norway, each inhabitant produces a massive 28.3 kg of e-waste every year. Not far behind the top ten of this ranking lie GCC member states, with both Kuwait and UAE producing each 17.2 kg e-waste per capita per year. Saudi Arabia with its many times larger population produces least e-waste per capita among all GCC countries, with 12.5 kg a year.

Link between Development and E-Waste

Recent research suggests that there is evidence of a strong link between economic development and the generation of e-waste.  Due to rapid urbanization growth rates along with a substantial increase in the standard of living, more people develop a consumerist culture. With rising disposable income, people replace their technology more frequently, as soon there are upgraded gadgets on the market. This development is aggravated by technological progress, which renders shorter life spans of products.

Complexity of E-Waste

E-waste is not only a fast-growing waste stream but also complex, as it contains a large variety of different products. This makes it extremely difficult to manage. The rapid technology development and the emergence of items such as smart clothes will render e-waste management even more difficult in the future. Dealing with e-waste is not only toxic for workers with direct contact to it, but also the dumpsites on which e-waste is stored can have severe environmental impacts on the surrounding areas. Many developed countries export the bulk of their e-waste to developing countries, where it is recovered using extremely harmful methods for both human and the environment.

Out of the total e-waste produced world-wide, only about 15% are collected by official take-back schemes. The European Union is one of the few regions in the world with uniform legislation regarding the collection and processing of e-waste. The WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directive took effect in 2003 and was designed to make manufacturers of appliances responsible for their equipment at the end of its life, a system known as extended producer responsibility (EPR).

An Untapped Opportunity

However, e-waste should not only be seen as a problem which more and more developed countries have to face. According to statistics, the intrinsic material value of global e-waste is estimated to be 48 billion euros in 2014. Even though the large part of e-waste constitutes of iron and steel, precious metals such as gold, copper, palladium, silver, platinum, cobalt, and more provide economic incentive for recycling.  In addition to the intrinsic material value, there are more benefits to e-waste recycling, such as job and employment creation.

electrical-waste-uk

In addition to these economic benefits, the recycling of electronic waste products also ensures to reduce environmental pollution by conserving virgin resources, whose extraction goes along with severe damages to entire ecosystems.

Situation in GCC Countries

In almost all GCC countries, there is minimal to zero legislation on e-waste, with minor differences between the respective counties. Kuwait as one of the biggest per capita e-waste producers among the GCC nations uses the same landfills for both conventional and e-waste. Bahrain operates only one landfill for the entire country, but there are several recycling initiatives in place, aiming at separating plastics, metals and paper. Still, there is no comprehensive law on e-waste management. Saudi Arabia possesses the biggest total amount of e-waste among the GCC countries. There are private companies, initiatives and Non-Profit-Organizations currently working on e-waste recycling, but there is no regulated system in place.

Oman does not have regulations or facilities to deal with e-waste, but the country has recently stated the realization of a need for it. Qatar has also recognized the need to address the waste management issue, but no concrete actions have been taken. The most advanced momentum regarding e-waste of all GCC countries can be found in the UAE. In some waste management centers, there are facilities where e-waste is classified and sorted out specifically. The UAE government is currently developing regulation and facilities to for sound e-waste recycling.

The Way Forward

As we have seen, in many GCC countries the need for e-waste legislation is widely recognized. E-waste management provides an opportunity and a huge potential in the entire Middle East, primarily due to four reasons.

First, e-waste management is a source of employment for both highly skilled and unskilled workers. This could help to transfer employment from the public to the private sector, which is a goal of many Gulf countries. Second, e-waste recycling can also minimize costs, as less landfill space is being used. In Bahrain, the only existing landfill is expected to reach its capacity in the next years, and poses furthermore a health risks for the population as it is close to urban areas.

The most advanced momentum regarding e-waste in the GCC can be found in the UAE.

Third, the intrinsic value of e-waste with its precious metals provide economic incentive for recycling. As reserves for many metals decrease drastically, the economic value of these resources is expected to increase. And fourth, developments in e-waste management provide opportunities for industry and environmental research. Innovative and efficient recycling processes could be developed and transferred to other countries.

In order to fulfill this potential for e-waste management in GCC countries, the first step is to develop a sound regulatory framework in order to ensure private sector participation. Additionally, programs to increase public awareness for waste and in specific e-waste need to be developed, which is necessary for an integrated e-waste management system.

References

Kusch, S. & Hills, C.D. (2017). The Link between e-Waste and GDP—New Insights from Data from the Pan-European Region. Resources 6 (15); doi:10.3390/resources6020015

Baldé, C.P., Wang, F., Kuehr, R. & Huisman, J. (2015). The global e-waste monitor – 2014. United Nations University, IAS – SCYCLE. Bonn, Germany

Morgan, K. (2015). Is there a future for e-waste recycling? Yes, and it’s worth billions.

Cucchiella, F., D’Adamo, I., Lenny Koh, S.C. & Rosa, P. (2015). Recycling of WEEEs: An economic assessment of present and future e-waste streams. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews (51); doi:10.1016/j.rser.2015.06.010

Alghazo, J. & Ouda, O. (2016). Electronic Waste Management and security in GCC Countries: A Growing Challenge. Conference Paper.

Debusmann, B. (2015). New regulations are coming up to deal with e-waste.

Green Home Improvements to Attract Homebuyers

People’s desire to make a smaller footprint on a vulnerable planet affects the real estate market worldwide. In part this is due to the Internet’s power to inform and inspire, and it is partly due to who is buying the most homes. Millennials have made up more than half of homebuyers over the last few years. And millennials, surveys have shown, are willing to pay more for sustainability and the greenest possible living.

They often opt for new construction with the highest eco-friendly standards, but not every buyer will purchase a new home. Some millennials are not ready to make that financial commitment, and some will not be buying in trending locations that have lots of new green construction. So to attract buyers to an existing home, green home improvements can be a big win. Not only will the homeowner be doing the right thing by the planet, but also homes can sell faster and for more.

Although making green changes to an existing home can be complicated and expensive, there are many levels of improvement that vary in cost and difficulty.

What Meets the Eye

Green home upgrades the buyer can see in an existing home make a difference. If you are upgrading, you can go more sustainable and energy-efficient in these areas:

  • Non-toxic paint: The volatile organic compounds (VOC) in some paint can damage air quality and lungs. Choose a low-VOC paint to get that fresh, neutral look buyers want.
  • Sustainable flooring: Replace worn-out floors with highly renewable bamboo, with responsibly grown and harvested hardwoods, or with natural linoleum products.
  • A cool roof: Renovate the roof with light-colored materials that reflect heat.
  • Energy-efficient appliances: Update the kitchen with appliances, and even faucets, that run on less energy and/or use less water.
  • Native plants: Refresh the landscape with plants native to the environment, that will need less specialty care products and that will support local ecology.

Energize

Green changes that make a home energy-efficient will attract buyers and also give sellers the ROI of an eco-friendly home. Because they save money, these improvements also make money and bring return on investment.

  • Update to a Smart Thermostat: A programmable thermostat ensures heating and cooling meet your needs without waste.
  • New windows: The U.S. Department of Energy reports that 25-30% of energy costs literally get sucked right out of old windows, where leaks in both directions waste resources and money. New windows also beautify a home.
  • Weather protection: If new windows are not an option, caulking and weather-stripping are also efficient.
  • Tankless water heater: Upgrade an old water heater that needs to go anyway with a tankless one, that heats water as needed. Why waste energy heating gallons of water all the time?
  • Recycled water: Systems for catching rainwater, or holding water from sinks and tubs (greywater) can save waste and money. This water can flush toilets and water gardens, among other uses.
  • Renewable energy sources: Depending on the climate, solar panels and/or wind turbines can provide energy in place of using other, non-renewing resources.

Before making eco-friendly home improvements, research is the seller’s best tool. Understand the options, costs, and benefits. An experienced real estate agent can advise on what green home improvements are most wanted and bring the best ROI in the local market. Also make sure the home is appraised by someone experienced with green features, to make sure their real value is represented in the appraisal.